Category Archives: Guest Posts

Author Guest Post by Susan Gandar ‘Absent Father’ and Excerpt

It is Father’s Day on Sunday and as a celebration of that I have a gorgeous guest post from the lovely Susan Gandar. Susan is the author of the beautiful We’ve Come To Take You Home and along with her guest post you can read an excerpt of her debut novel. I’m delighted to have Susan vising the blog today as We’ve Come To Take You Home was one of my favourite books of 2016. I will now hand you over to Susan…

 

Absent Father

What was it like to grow up, the daughter of a 4 Oscar winning father? Yes, it had its moments, very exciting and very different. One of my birthdays was spent, with a group of friends, visiting Shepperton Studios where Carol Reed’s musical ‘Oliver!’ was being shot. We watched as Mark Lester, playing Oliver, crept up to Harry Secombe’s Mr. Bumble, held out his bowl – and whispered, ‘Please, Sir, can I have some more?!

With my father working away so much of the time, most of my school holidays were spent visiting him on location. One of those summer holidays was spent in Spain, in Madrid, where ‘Doctor Zhivago’ was being filmed. Early one blazingly hot morning, heat already shimmering off the pavements, we set off from the cool, dark apartment my parents were renting to visit the unit filming on the other side of the city.

An hour later, I was standing, up to my ankles in snow, in ‘Kropotkin Street’ in Moscow. And it was still over 100 F! And there wasn’t just one street but several, with trams clanking up and down, even a cathedral and in the far distance the crenellated walls of the Kremlin – the Magician, as my father was known, and his team had been at work again.

Those are the positive memories. But there are many that are less so: the number of birthdays that were missed, my very unhappy and frustrated mother, the bullying at school because I was so ‘different’.

Things came to a head when my father was offered and accepted the role of production designer on David Lean’s epic ‘Laurence of Arabia’. He packed his bags and walked out of the front door – not to return for two years. I remember so well the puzzlement, the heartache, the tearful phone calls, the feeling that we all, my mother, my sister and I, the rest of the family, had been deserted.

And then it was Christmas – and he was coming home, just for a couple of days, but that had to be better than nothing. I stood there, five years old, trembling with excitement, staring out of the window, watching out for my father. And there he was, walking down the street, towards our house. I ran out of the sitting room into the hallway, wrenched open the front door, flew down the steps, down onto the street – and threw myself into his arms saying those lines which Jenny Agutter made so famous in the film The Railway Children, ‘Daddy, my Daddy!’.

But the magic moment I’d been dreaming about, better than any Christmas present, being hugged, kissed, burying myself in my father’s arms, didn’t happen. My father just stood there, shuffling his feet, saying nothing, doing nothing. And then my mother was there, pulling at me, apologising, saying she was really sorry, and I was being led back up the steps, through the front door, into our flat. This man wasn’t my father, he was a stranger, just a man walking down the street, my real father would be coming later. And he did, tall and suntanned, and rather glamorous, but rather aloof, mentally and emotionally- still out in Jordan, in the desert, drawing a line through the sand, for Omar Sharif to follow when riding into the well on his camel.

My mother threatened by father with divorce – and the films abroad stopped, at least for a while. And I had a father who was at home, not all of the time, but at least some of the time. And we did what other families did, going for walks together in the local park on a Sunday. To me, even now, the memory of my father’s hand gripping mine, him being there, with us, fills me with a mix of huge happiness – but also huge sadness. Not because of all the time he spent away, not being there when we were growing up. But because, when I was older, when I could spend more time with him and really appreciate who he was, he became the most supportive and most wonderful father – and my dearest friend.

A huge thank you Susan for such a wonderful and moving article.

We’ve Come To Take You Home Excerpt

The accident and emergency waiting room was full, every seat taken, with bonfire night casualties.
‘Your address?’
‘7 Seaview Road.’
‘Your friend’s name?’
‘Friend?’
‘The girl you came in with? In the ambulance?’
‘Amy Roberts.’
‘Address?’
‘Tudor Close.’
‘Number?’
A tall figure, dressed in pilot’s uniform, gold braid on his sleeves, cap perched at just the right angle on top of his head, was striding towards the entrance doors of the accident and emergency department.
‘I’m sorry…’
The automatic doors slid open.
‘The house number? In Tudor Close?’
‘Twenty-four, I think. I’m not sure…’
The figure disappeared outside.
‘No problem. We can check. If you’d like to take a seat I’ll get…’
She couldn’t wait. She’d done all she could. There was a police car sitting outside the girl’s house. When her parents arrived home they would be driven straight to the hospital.
She pushed her way past a family, a little boy his head buried in his father’s shoulder, his right hand tightly bound in a wet towel, the mother sobbing into her phone. Behind were two girls, the same age as herself, supporting a third, the side of her face streaked a livid red. The doors slid open. And there he was. Head held high, arms and legs pumping, on his way to somewhere else.
‘Dad…’
An ambulance, blue lights flashing, sirens blaring, turned off the main road. It accelerated up the ramp directly towards her father.
‘Dad, look out.’
There was no slamming of brakes. No thump of hard metal crunching into soft flesh. The ambulance continued up the ramp. It screeched to a stop outside the accident and emergency department. The driver got out, walked round to the back and threw open first one door, and then the other. An elderly couple looked Sam up and down, shook their heads, muttered something to each other, and continued walking down the ramp towards the main road.
She stood there, trembling, staring at the spot where her father had just been. There had been no slam of brakes, no thump of metal, no screaming or calling out for a doctor, because there had been nothing to scream or call out about. Instead of shattered bone and blood and guts there was empty space. Her father had vanished – if he had ever been there at all.
She ran back into the accident and emergency department, through the waiting area, and down the corridor to the lift. She punched the button. She stepped inside. The doors closed, the doors opened, people got in, people got out; sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and, at last, the tenth floor.
‘Stand clear… oxygen away…VF… shock.’
A trolley, laden with equipment, stood at the end of her father’s bed. She recognised it.
‘Asystole. Flat line.’
It was the same trolley the doctors had used to shoot electricity through the old man’s body. The old man with the grey face thick with stubble, locked away in his coma, who had suddenly sat upright, straight backed in his bed, his arms outstretched, his eyes staring, his mouth opening and closing as if he was trying to say something. That bed was now empty.
‘There’s no heartbeat. It’s been too long.’
A nurse started to remove an intravenous tube from her father’s right arm. A second nurse started to remove an intravenous tube from his left arm. A third nurse unplugged a monitor.
Her father was being tidied up, packed away, like he was nothing more than a head, and a chest, with two arms and two legs which had never felt pain, had never felt anger – had never known love.
She pushed past the trolley, with its plugs and its wires, its paddles and its cables, which had produced the electric shocks that had shot through her father’s body, sending him convulsing off the bed. None of which had worked.
‘Dad, it’s me, Sam.’
She grabbed hold of his hand.
‘Please come back.’
Someone was trying to pull her away from the bed.
‘Sam, come with me now. Your dad can’t hear you…’
It was Mac. Standing next to him was Dr. Brownlow.
‘We did everything we could.’
And now Mac was putting his hand on her hand, and he was uncurling it, finger by finger, out of her father’s. She kicked out, hitting him hard on the shin. He jumped back. She held on to her father’s hand even tighter.
‘We love you…’
Her whole body was screaming.
‘Please come back…’
She had to make him hear.
‘We love you, we love you. Please come back.’
‘Sam, stop now, Dad can’t hear you…’
She had a special gift. That’s what the old lady in the church had said. She could see and hear things other people couldn’t see or hear, go to places other people couldn’t reach. So where would her father be now? Where would he go, inside his head, if he was in a coma?
She closed her eyes. Sometimes her father would be away for just a couple of days, sometimes a full week, often even longer, but, wherever he was, even if it was on the other side of the world, they had always been able to talk to each other. She had always been able to reach him.

You can purchase a copy of We’ve Come To Take You Home HERE.

Read my review HERE and Susan’s Author Influences HERE.

Author Guest Post ‘A Sense of Place’ by Rose Alexander

I’m thrilled to be able to bring you a great guest post by Rose Alexander on the sense of place in a novel. I adored Rose’s debut novel Garden of Stars (you can read my review here). Her latest novel Under An Amber Sky has been getting great reviews. Anyway I will hand you over to the lady herself…

A Sense Of Place

One of the most exciting and liberating parts of writing is that, as you tap away at your keyboard, you can transport yourself and your readers to absolutely anywhere. Literally anywhere in the world. Some people might think that the location is a function of the story rather than the reason for it. But in my experience the best writing comes when a country or landscape gives – or perhaps gifts – the story to you.

This is what happened with my latest novel, Under An Amber Sky. News stories about the tiny, uninhabited Mamula island off the coast of Montenegro caught my attention. The only structure currently on Mamula is a partially ruined Austro-Hungarian fortress constructed in 1853, but over recent years there have been several proposals to develop the island for tourism. All have come to nothing – until now. The government has leased the land to a hotel group that plans to turn it into a resort boasting swimming pools, a yacht marina, a spa, restaurants and dance floor. Nothing wrong there, you might think – but local people are appalled. Why? Because Mamula was a World War II concentration camp used by the Italian occupiers to imprison men, women and children accused of a variety of crimes. Many were tortured or starved to death.

What must the lives have been like for those taken there? For those left behind, desperate for news, not knowing what was happening to their loved ones? From these questions the plot grew and burgeoned and developed into the novel published on 24th May 2017. The book really wrote itself; the protagonist and her tragedy, the many characters who turn up to join her in rebuilding her life in Montenegro, the historical figures so deeply affected by war and bloodshed. The words simply flew from my fingers to the page. Sometimes writing is hellish difficult and takes forever, but creating this book was not like that at all; it flowed. I have no idea if books with a genesis such as this are better or more enjoyable to read than the ones that have to be wrenched out of one with great force and effort – perhaps you readers will be able to tell me the answer! – but it certainly makes the creative process a joy rather than a torment and that has to be a good thing.

Happy reading.

Thank you Rose for a wonderful guest post. This has definitely whet my appetite for Under An Amber Sky which is out now. 

The Blurb

From the bestselling author of GARDEN OF STARS comes a heartwarming and emotional story of hope and second chances.
When Sophie Taylor’s life falls apart, there is only one thing to do: escape and find a new one.
Dragged to Montenegro by her best friend Anna, Sophie begins to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. But when she stumbles into an old, run-down house on the Bay of Kotor she surprises even herself when she buys it.
Surrounded by old furniture, left behind by the former inhabitants, Sophie becomes obsessed by a young Balkan couple when she discovers a bundle of letters from the 1940s in a broken roll-top desk. Letters that speak of great love, hope and a mystery Sophie can’t help but get drawn into.
Days in Montenegro are nothing like she expected and as Sophie’s home begins to fill with a motley crew of lodgers the house by the bay begins to breathe again. And for Sophie, life seems to be restarting. But letting go of the past is easier said than done…

 

 

Author Guest Post ‘Do You Come Here Often?’ by Fiona Ford

I am delighted to hand over the blog today to debut novellist Fiona Ford who has written a wonderful piece about the research she undertook for her book The Spark Girl. Firstly lets find out about the book and then I will pass you over to Fiona.

The Blurb

A knock on the door early one morning wouldn’t normally be cause for concern but it is 1941, Britain is at war, and Kitty Williams’s fiancé Joe is far from home fighting Hitler with the Navy. As Kitty’s heart is shattered into pieces hearing the news she had been dreading, resolve kicks in and she becomes more determined than ever to do her bit for the war effort.

Signing up to the Women’s Army is just the sort of challenge Kitty needs and on meeting new recruits Mary, Di and Peggy, she is happy to learn that the challenge won’t be a lonely one. But it also won’t be easy and when bombs start to fall on her home town of Coventry, and supposed allies turn against her, Kitty must find the strength she never knew she had to save her family, fix her broken heart and help her country to victory.

Do You Come Here Often?

It’s a cheesy chat up line isn’t it? But one I have found myself answering much more frequently lately because for the past three years, as part of my research, I have found myself, living, breathing and occasionally sleeping in the Imperial War Museum’s Archives, devouring all things World War II.
My first historical novel The Spark Girl tells the story of Kitty, who joins the women’s army (ATS) with a desire to fight for freedom after learning of the death of her fiancé. But when bombs start to fall on her home town of Coventry, and supposed allies turn against her, Kitty must find the strength she never knew she had to save her family, fix her broken heart and help her country to victory.
This novel which has been three years in the making has been a labour of love for me, something I have poured my heart and soul into. But although I have always had a passion for the past, I knew I was going to need more than a love of history and a vivid imagination to write Kitty’s story. No, I was going to need cold hard facts.
Now, obviously The Spark Girl is a work of fiction, not a documentary so of course there are things I have taken poetic licence with, and I sincerely hope that in the interests of the story, the readers will forgive me.
But by and large I have tried to remain as close to the facts, as possible. Of course it would have been easy to make it up and use fiction as the excuse. But for me, its vital to try and get the detail right. Not just out of respect for those who served or lost their lives, but because it makes for a more authentic novel, something every writer strives for.
There’s no getting away from the fact that World War II is an emotive subject for most of us, as there’s usually someone we know who served in the war. For me, it was my beloved Grandfather, Joe who gave me the link. He served in the Royal Navy and as a child I would listen eagerly to his stories of wartime life on board his ship. It wasn’t just the tales of battle I wanted to hear about, but his travels around the globe, and most importantly the people he served with. What were there stories? How did they cope and survive during a war that claimed almost 500,000 lives in Britain alone.
Granddad was a wonderful story teller and brought the period alive for me with his tales of life in the forties. But sadly, when I had the idea for my novel three years ago, I couldn’t ask my grandfather to tell me his stories any longer as he had passed away in 2000.
However, Granddad had done such a marvellous job of bringing the war to life for me I decided to start my research with a place close to his heart – The Imperial War Museum (IWM). Based in south London, the IWM is a treasure trove of history where I happily lost hours, days and weeks in the archives, and I adored every second.
Within these beautifully sculptured walls contained everything I could possibly have wanted to know about the war. While facts and figures were useful for context, what I really needed were people’s stories. And so I requested diaries, letters and scrapbooks from civilians, children, pilots and soldiers all so I could learn as much as I could from as many different sources as possible.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional as well as intellectual journey this research would take me on. Immersing myself in this world of war, I became caught up in people’s personal dramas. Each day I would return to the archives and devour each diary and letter as if they were the latest bestseller, eager to know how events unfolded for the real-life characters living their lives on paper. I felt people’s joy as keenly as if it were my own, I celebrated their triumphs and cried when they shared their losses.
As I sat in the museum’s research room day after day, the strangest of things would bring out the oddest emotional response. A photograph of children sheltering in an Anderson shelter would have me chuckling at how they thought it an adventure. A recipe for Woolton Pie written out in a housewife’s best handwriting left me marvelling at such attention to detail, while the sight of a Cuban sweet wrapper, safely stuck to a scrapbook page and collected by a pilot that never made it home left me in tears.
My research at the IWM took me on a rollercoaster ride, one I never tired of and don’t think I ever will. I was lucky enough to find more than enough material for my second novel, The Spark Girl’s Promise but with each new discovery the one thing I held dear was my desire to do right by the people who fought for our freedom, and try to honour them with a fair representation of facts amongst my own version of fiction.

About Fiona Ford

Fiona Ford is a freelance journalist. She has spent the last 15 years writing gritty real-life stories, news and a smidgeon of celebrity tittle-tattle for national newspapers and magazines. Following a stint as a ghost writer, Fiona plucked up the courage to combine her love of writing and history to write a novel in her own name. The Spark Girl, is her first saga.
Originally from Bath, Fiona now lives in Berkshire and is married with two cats. Thankfully, both her husband and pets have all mastered the art of pretending to listen patiently as she begins yet another anecdote with the words, ‘during the war’. When she is not writing or researching World War 2, Fiona can be found running along the Thames Path, training for a half marathon of some kind and wishing she was sat on the sofa eating chocolate instead.

Website: www.fionaford.co.uk
Twitter: @fionajourno
Instagram: @folowrites

The Spark Girl is published by Orion on 1 June 2017 in hardback and ebook. Paperback available for pre-order and out 24th August.
Purchase from Amazon

Purchase from Orion 

A huge thank you for the wonderful guest post Fiona. Wishing you a very happy publication day and success for The Spark Girl.

 

Author Guest Post – What Inspired Me To Write ‘Before You Were Mine’ by Em Muslin

Today I am joined by debut author Em Muslin, who has written a wonderful guest post on what inspired her to write her novel, Before You Were Mine. I’m always interested in where authors get their inspiration from and Em has written a wonderful piece. Enjoy!

What Inspired Me To Write Before You Were Mine

Before You Were Mine, my debut novel partly came from a documentary I watched many years ago. It followed a group of people, whether they were mothers searching for their child they had given up for adoption, or children who were given up for adoption, looking for their mothers. It was a painful journey, as not only did you discover the stories behind the women who were placed in a position where they were either forced to give up their baby for adoption, or they felt it would be best for the child, but also it followed some families reuniting for the first-time. The fantasy they had carried in their head for so many years didn’t always live up to the reality. Similarly, Before You Were Mine touches on some of the key human emotions explored in the programme; love, regret, grief and hope.

I could only imagine how it felt for the mothers to give up the baby and the moment when they realise the child is no longer considered theirs. I wanted to explore the concept of absolute pure love, and the grief that follows once a mother and child are separated. Eli, my main character is placed in a position where she is forced to give up her baby for adoption and the book follows her as she tries to come to terms with the fact she may never meet her own daughter. She uses the grief that consumes her to drive her forward. She is determined, no matter what, to one day be reunited with her.

There is a Hebrew word Mizpah that can be interpreted as an emotional bond between people who are separated, either physically by distance or by death – and I think that is the underlying theme of the book. No matter what, the emotional union between Eli and her daughter will always be there. It is what drives her to search for her despite how many knock-backs life throws at her.

As anyone who has suffered grief, deep relentless grief – it is the closest one gets to crazy. It is a fine line that you have every chance of tripping over. Eli tip-toes along that line each day. There is a quote in the book from C.S Lewis (A Grief Observed), which talks about how the ‘same leg is cut off time after time’. Every instant Eli is knocked back, the raw primitive sorrow of losing her child comes back to haunt her. Inside she is screaming. The need, the absolute visceral need to grasp something that somehow seems unfeasible; the possible loss of her daughter forever – someone she feels such profound love for – is simply impossible for her to comprehend.

On the flip side, Eli also demonstrates unrelenting hope. Hope that one day they will finally be reunited. This optimism is what drives us all forward, no matter our goals and it is the key emotion that keeps Eli upright. Although, readers may find the book emotionally challenging at times, it does offer hope. As Eli says ‘Without hope, what have you got?’

She is a character that despite the adversities she has faced demonstrates great strength, grace and drive. She is loved greatly by her husband Tommy, who unbeknownst to her has profound regrets of his own. He battles with his part in her story and he too has hope that Eli and her daughter will one day be reunited.

I dug into my own experience of grief to unearth a little of Eli’s psyche, to see what drove her. The book idea was born before my own encounter with deep personal grief, but it certainly grew up afterwards.

It began as a short story called Regret;

‘Once you’ve done something, ticked the box, nodded your head, raised your hand, picked something up, it’s impossible to turn back the clock. Sure you can lower your hand, cross out the mark you had made, put something down, but forever the smudged mark would remain, your prints all over the moment. If only you had had more time to think, less time to regret. Regret. Regret. Even saying the word makes you shake your head and look down to your scuffed shoes in pity, sorrow resting in the creases on your brow, like crows on the roof ready to swoop.’ (Excerpt Before You Were Mine)

I wanted to explore that feeling of how when an event changes a life forever, we are soon full of regret. That life in retrospect is much clearer. If we knew then, what we now know, how different our lives would or could be.

The book is set in a hot dusty town. Her life at times can seem suffocating and I wanted very much to the use the climate of the setting to layer the book. Eli talks and dreams of snow. It is the opposite of her reality.

‘Often I’d lie awake in the dead of night, whilst he lay sleeping next to me, and I would think of you. I would think of you and me. I’d imagine us feeling snowflakes against our skin. The cold tiptoe of a snowflake on our rosy cheeks. Tiptoeing, tap dancing on our skin. Melting. No one else would be around and only our footprints could be seen in the snow. I’d place my footprints in yours and yours in mine, and we’d become one. I would press my cheek against yours and I’d hold you, and this time, in the dead of night, this time, I promise I would never let you go.’ (Excerpt Before You Were Mine)
The fantasy she constructs is so far removed from her actual life. It is a place she escapes to, where she feels closest to her daughter.

Readers of course will have to read the book to discover whether or not she is finally reunited with her child. However, I hope as they travel along the journey with Eli, they too feel that anything, no matter how impossible it seems, can be with determination and strength, attainable.

A huge thank you to Em for the gorgeous guest post. Before You Were Mine is published on 26 May 2017 by HQ Digital.

 

Here is the all-important blurb:

Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…
Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.
Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life. Even if it means lying…
While her husband Tommy must grow to accept his own part in the events of her early life, he can only try to save her before her obsession with the young woman ruins them both.
Don’t miss the breathtaking debut Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin! Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Alice Peterson and Lucy Dillon.

You can pre-order you copy HERE.

 

Blog Tour – Watching You by J A Schneider *Guest Post*

Whoop whoop it’s my turn on the Watching You blog tour along with Whispering Stories. Sadly my current TBR pile is verging on unmanageable so I haven’t had time to read and review Joyce’s latest novel. I am pleased though to be able to bring you a brilliant guest post by Joyce . Enjoy!

Procrastinate Much? By J.A. Schneider

Do you procrastinate? Who doesn’t? But do you kick yourself and feel guilty when you do? Everyone does that too. And shouldn’t. It’s normal.

Your wheels are really turning, all the time, even in your sleep. That thing that’s so important to you is busy 24/7, down there in the subconscious sweatshop where they never stop. In fact, downtime might be not only good but part of the process. Take a walk, play with the dog, re-watch your favorite movie or TV series. Lying fallow re-charges the batteries. You’ll come back to your work refreshed, able to look at it anew and take it to the next level.

I see authors who say, “Eight a.m., I’m outta bed, coffee beside me and hitting those keys.” Wish I could do that. I’ve tried, but I want to see the news, what’s happening in the world, who’s arguing & bitching on Twitter, ha. Maybe I need that bigger worldview – for whatever reasons, I just do. Simultaneously, I absolutely must go through the email or it will bother me, like a nagging to-do list that will continue to nag as I try to get into that fragile place of deeper concentration.

If you have routine ways of procrastinating, that’s good! A sure sign that what you’re doing is really part of the process. Don’t fight it. The guys down in the sweatshop need those stolen minutes or hours to catch up, re-fire the engine.

Picasso said that he did his best work thinking, just staring out the window. Looking out, he saw what he was trying to do better than when he stared at the taunting canvas. Too much pressure, that canvas, like authors glaring at the bleeping blank page. Did Picasso consider his staring out the window or spending hours at the local café as procrastinating? Unlikely. He was doing the work in his head, and knew it. He also spent tons of time on amorous misadventures. Mistresses would complain that talking to him was like “he was on another planet.” He was. His mind was more on his work than the current love throwing the empty Merlot bottle at him.

To each his own. Me, I’ve just looked out and spotted a Baltimore Oriole (not the baseball team) sitting on the fence. It’s October, getting chilly here in Connecticut, too cold for him. Why hasn’t he migrated south yet? Fly away, birdie, tonight’s gonna be cold!

I watch until he departs, then I go back to work. Where was I? Oh right, Detective Kerri Blasco has just pulled her gun on the guy who’s already aiming his gun at her – what happens next?

OMG, one of them shoots, my adrenalin pricks, and I’m back in the story…

Thank you Joyce for taking the time to write this fantastic post. Now I know you are all wanting to know more about Watching You so here goes…

The Blurb

A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Detective Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in exactly the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.

Fans of Karin Slaughter, Robert Dugoni and Rachel Abbott will be gripped by this nonstop serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

Sounds great, right? Watching You is out now and can be purchased via the following links –

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watching-You-terrifying-mind-bending-Detective-ebook/dp/B06XK66X7D/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492268435&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=watching+you+Joyce+Schneider

US: https://www.amazon.com/Watching-You-terrifying-mind-bending-Detective-ebook/dp/B06XK66X7D/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492271365&sr=8-1&keywords=Watching+you+ja+schneider

For reviews and more guest posts catch the other fab bloggers on the Watching You blog tour…

Author Guest Post – Good Vs Evil – A Story as Old as Time by Kerensa Jennings

I was approached to see if I would be able to read and review Seas Of Snow by Kerensa Jennings. Because I am  being good (and for once in my life sensible!) and trying to make a dent in my ever-toppling ‘to review’ pile, I very sadly had to say no. I was pretty gutted about this as Kerensa’s debut novel sounds stunning and is definitely on my TBR list.  I am very excited, however, to be able to bring you a fantastic guest post by Kerensa on Good vs Evil, which I know you will enjoy reading as much as I did. So instead of waffling on I will place you in Kerensa’s good hands…

Good versus Evil – a Story as Old as Time
“There was once a poor man, who was a woodman, who went every day to cut wood in the forest…

And the two children were so very fond of each other, that they were never happy but when they were together….

In the afternoon of the third day they came to a strange little hut, made of bread, with a roof of cake, and windows of barley-sugar…

Hansel had torn off a large piece of cake from the roof, when the door opened, and a little old lady fairy came gliding out….

But the fairy was a spiteful one, and had made her pretty sweetmeat house to entrap little children…”


Hansel and Gretel. Two little children, pottering off together into the woods. The picture of innocence.

We are all familiar with the story. A classic tale of good versus evil. Innocence triumphing over adversity. And some horrific incidents involving a wicked witch; a dreadful mother who brutally casts the children in her care to a fate in the woods; and a weak father who helplessly colludes.

A story as old as time.

We all love stories. We can lose ourselves in them. Escape, run away. Use them as a source of solace and comfort. Empathise with the characters, feel their joy, endure their pain. Stories give us permission to live an alternate reality, fly away into our imaginations. Stories give us permission to experience what psychologists call ‘transference’ – where we project our emotions and life stories onto others. It is easier for a child to hate a step-mother in a story than to admit in his or her heart of hearts they hate their own.

The extracts above come from a precious 1839 edition I have of the Grimm brothers’ collection of ‘Popular Stories’. I have always been fascinated by fairy tales and have a collection of beautiful books from around the world. Fairy tales help us make sense of life, one step removed. And everyone always lives happily ever after.

The original collections the Grimm brothers amassed were collected as oral stories then written up. These were adapted several times even in the brothers’ own lifetime, and these days the Disneyfied stories we tell our children are scarcely recognizable from their early incarnations. The original tales were imbued with darkness, sex, incest. Not the type of thing you would choose as a bedtime story for your little one.

When I was at university, my thesis was titled ‘Persecution and Revenge of the Innocents’. I took five of the stories  –  including Hänsel und Grethel –  (from the third publication of the Grimms’ collection) and conducted a psychoanalytical analysis of the tales, exploring themes of innocence, corruption, good and evil.

I examined archetypes in the Grimm’s stories. In fairy tale land, there is a logic which works something like this – if a character is beautiful and light, then they are innocent and good. If a character is ugly and dark, then they are corrupt and evil. Even the Disneyfication of fairy tales notwithstanding, we are all familiar with the idea…

In SEAS OF SNOW, I have attempted to create a profound dichotomy between good and evil. We see the world through the eyes of little Gracie, a picture of innocence, kindness, sweetness and loveliness; and then also through the perspective of her uncle Joe – a character whose darkness seeps through every pore.

Gracie and her best friend Billy often go to play in the woods, using playtime and stories to invent worlds and games in fairy tale kingdoms with dragons and princesses. Friendship and love bind the past and the present as the story dances through time. And the horror unfolds with uncle Joe turning his violent attentions to little Gracie.

I so wanted to write something so that victims and their families could have ‘permission’ to stop feeling they are at fault, or to blame. The truth is in today’s troubled times as much as ever – so much goes on behind closed doors. People on the outside are often perplexed that someone stayed in a domestic abuse situation; or can’t fathom why no-one took action to help. SEAS OF SNOW seeks to offer a way for people who are suffering to see they are not alone.

I wrote the novel as a process of catharsis for myself. I had lead the BBC News coverage of the Soham investigation, working closely with the police. This was a terrible case where a school caretaker brutally murdered two little girls, stealing their futures and robbing their families and friends of their loved ones.

The caretaker, Ian Huntley, was interviewed by the press and the media in the days after the girls went missing. He outwardly betrayed the appearance of someone who was a caring member of the community. All the while, as he lied and lied, he knew exactly what he had done. Hiding in plain sight. Working on this case for many months affected me profoundly.

So in creating Joe, I wanted to explore whether evil is born or made. Examine that age old debate of nature versus nurture. Bring to life an antagonist who people would fall in love with because of his outward appearance and charisma. Then make him evil to the core so our revulsion at him and what he is capable of makes us feel duped and horrified. I wanted that emotional disjuncture. That sense of not being able to trust our own eyes.

My fascination for fairy tales has influenced my writing throughout my life. People who read SEAS OF SNOW will recognise some of that thinking I suspect. Trust. Betrayal. Consequences.

When I was putting my thoughts together on how to craft my story structure in the novel, I began casting around for inspiration of time and place. I knew I wanted to transplant the original genesis of my thinking into another time and place.

I had bought the book “Mémoires d’Enfance”  while I was living in Paris, largely because I was entranced by the photograph on the front cover. I discovered it was by a truly great American photo journalist called W Eugene Smith.

This is what he said about photography: “A photo is a small voice, at best, but sometimes – just sometimes – one photograph or a group of them can lure our senses into awareness. Much depends upon the viewer; in some, photographs can summon enough emotion to be a catalyst to thought.”

This is exactly what happened to me when I saw the little boy and the little girl in the woodland clearing. A sort of early twentieth century Hansel and Gretel. I found myself imagining who could have taken the photograph, who the children were, what their back-stories might be. Where did they live, what were their lives like? What were they called?

Suddenly, the names “Gracie” and “Billie” startled themselves into my mind. Whatever the truth of their identities, I “knew” that was what this sweet little twosome were called. And in time, these grew into “my” Gracie and Billie. During the development edit, my editor Scott Pack not unreasonably pointed out that the normal spelling of the boy’s name is Billy. So Billie became Billy. Early readers of my first drafts might have fond memories of Billie as he was, but it felt fitting to give him his proper boy name.

With the photograph came the inspiration for placing the story in the 1950s. From there it was a hop and a skip to deciding North Shields in Tyneside for the location as this was where my Nanny had grown up. I’d been there for a special and rather formative holiday with her in my early teens.

SEAS OF SNOW is bleak psychological thriller. Uncle Joe appears unexpectedly in Gracie’s life when she’s just five years old. And changes everything. SEAS OF SNOW is a story of trust and betrayal, of the worst kind.

Drawing on the power of storytelling in fairy tales, it’s about good versus evil.

A story as old as time.

A huge thank you to Kerensa for taking the time to write such a wonderful piece. I loved reading this!

Seas Of Snow – The Blurb

1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.

As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy. Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.

But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?

How brilliant does Seas Of Snow sound? Published on 16 March 2017 you can purchase a copy via the following links –

UK: Amazon Link

US: Amazon Link

Author Guest Post – Behind the Scenes in the Reading Group with Della Parker

I’m very excited to be joined by The Reading Group author Della Parker today. She is taking us behind the scenes of her series of novellas and talking about the importance of and how she created the settings. Without further ado I will hand you over to Della…

Settings

Settings are incredibly important for fiction. They are where our characters live and they are where we are going to take our readers. So for me, it’s important to choose a setting I know well.

The setting for my latest series of novellas, The Reading Group, was a seaside town in Devon called Little Sanderton. The nearest big town to Little Sanderton is Exeter which is 21 miles away and is mentioned frequently throughout the Reading Group.

I should confess here that Little Sanderton doesn’t actually exist but if you were to look up Branscombe, which is in Devon, you’ll have an idea of where I had in mind. When Jojo and Kate go walking to talk about the breakdown of Kate’s marriage in the February, novella they are walking on Branscombe Beach.

Serena’s house where the Reading Group meet each month, is set on a clifftop close by. So is Anne Marie’s father’s house.

The beauty of choosing an imaginary setting is that you can’t mistakenly libel anyone or upset anyone, but you can go and look at actual houses and base your fictitious ones upon them. I tend to use the outsides of real houses and make up what’s on the inside. (So far, no one has actually let me in to have a look around their house, but you never know!)

I also tend to set my stories in places I love. I have some very fond memories of holidaying in Branscombe, which is not a million miles away from where I live. I have walked along several sections of the coast path and spent many a happy day in the local seaside towns and villages, not to mention restaurants. (All in the name of research, obviously!)

Setting a series of novellas in this area was a delight. It meant I could go back there in my mind. Skip back to this idyllic place and take my readers with me. Not a bad way to earn a living, is it!

 

Thank you Della for this lovely guest post. The first instalments of The Reading Group by Della Parker are out now.  Each month concentrates on a different character and has elements of the classic literary fiction they are reading that month as part of their reading group. You can read my reviews of December, January and February and find out more about the characters HERE and my review of April HERE.

 

Author Guest Post – An Aspie Son’s Relationship with his Ill Father by Dan Jones

I am delighted to be joined by Dan Jones today who has written a moving piece about his relationship with his father when he was terminally ill and the impact Dan’s Aspergers had on that relationship.

About Dan Jones and Look Into My Eyes: Aspergers, Hypnosis and Me

Dan Jones is author of Look Into My Eyes, described as ‘an autobiography through the lens of Asperger’s Syndrome’ which takes the reader through from early childhood to adulthood, explaining challenges experienced at different ages and how he was as someone with Asperger’s at different ages, and strengths of having Asperger’s, what Dan has found helpful at the different points in his life, and what hasn’t been helpful, and tips, ideas and advice relating to different issues through the life stages. There is also an extensive chapter of tips and strategies for parents/carers, teachers, friends, employers, and those with autism spectrum disorder, and a chapter written by Dan’s wife about her experiences being in a relationship with someone with Asperger’s, what the positives are, what challenges there are, and what she does to cope and support him.

Dan (Born 1978, Chichester, West Sussex, England) is an Aspie (person with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism) who has over 20 years training and experience in hypnosis, meditation, and the healing arts, including Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, Human Givens Approach, Solution Focused Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing. He has also worked for over 15 years with children, teens and parents. He started in children’s homes in 2000, then helped to set up a therapeutic children’s home, before moving into working with parents of children who were either young offenders, or committing anti-social behaviour and at risk of entering the youth justice system if they didn’t turn their behaviour around. Dan then managed a team of Family Intervention Project staff, as well as continuing family work himself, and worked as part of the Troubled Families programme.

I will now hand over to Dan…

An Aspie Son’s Relationship With His Terminally Ill Father

I sat down with my dad. He was propped up by pillows in his bed, looking like skin and bone, and in constant excruciating pain, yet he was smiling and had tears in his eyes as we watched a video of my wedding which had taken place a few weeks earlier.

Dad was dying of Oesophageal cancer. He had been too ill to make it to my wedding, so once I had put the wedding video together I took it round to show him. He told me how proud he was of me and how happy my wife and I looked together.

Every few days during the end of his life I visited my dad to help care for him. He lived alone. He had a couple of good friends who were helping, and my brother and myself. Between us we were looking after dad every day.

As well as looking after my father I was also holding down a full-time job working with challenging families, making time for my wife, and teaching a hypnotherapy diploma and other courses. I didn’t take any time off from all of this whilst looking after him, or after he had passed away. I wasn’t trying to ‘push through’ the grief, or anything. I didn’t feel any grief.

Having Asperger’s had some positive and negative influences on my relationship and ability to care for my dad at this time. I didn’t feel anything emotionally from seeing him suffer. When I saw him he would be screaming and crying in pain, often curled up and contorted with a facial expression of someone who has just been stabbed in the back with a hot poker with his eyes rolling back and mouth wide and strained. When I saw him like this I just sat there calmly waiting for him to tell me what he would like me to do. I couldn’t make his pain go away. I had offered to see what I could do with hypnosis, but he never took me up on the offer, so I never overtly used it with him. I did use a breathing technique with him while I was just sat there waiting to be told what he would like me to do. I would start breathing the same as him and gradually transition into breathing in a calmer, more relaxed way, as a way of trying to help him become calmer and more relaxed. He often said he would start to feel calmer while I was sat there.

Despite saying he found my presence could help him feel calmer he told me I was useless at knowing how to care for him. He complained at me about how I would just sit there when he is in agony rather than comforting him – he had never once during his times of being in agony asked me to comfort him, although once he did just hold my hand as he lay there in pain, squeezing my hand and occasionally looking up at me and smiling. He complained that I didn’t just go and get on with things like making him food, or a coffee, or sorting out cleaning. I would wait until I was instructed to do so.

Despite my dad complaining at me about these things I never changed, I wanted to be different and do these things which he had said I was failing at doing, but whenever I was with him, I behaved the same as I had always behaved. This was a negative side-effect of my having Asperger’s. I couldn’t shake my inbuilt responses, not even for my own dying father, regardless of how much I wanted to. Every time I would find myself responding the same way I had always responded and seemed powerless to change who I am.

When I found out that dad was first ill he wasn’t the one who told me. One of dad’s friends told me as he felt I should know. Dad didn’t want to upset my brother or myself. I kept trying to visit him and he kept refusing to let me. He was worried that seeing him would upset us. I told him I would be fine, and eventually he let me visit. Not once over all of the time that I saw my dad during the last few months of his life did I feel anything other than calmness. This ability to be emotionally detached was one of my Asperger’s strengths. I was able to get things done and to carry on with my ‘normal’ life without being emotionally impacted by the fact that my dad was dying.

Another Asperger’s trait of mine is bluntness. My dad was also a very blunt person, and he liked things exactly as he wanted them. As an ex-chef he definitely liked his food and drink to be made exactly as he expected it to be made. When people looking after him would bring him food or drink and he wasn’t happy with it he would be very blunt with them about how they needed to take it away and change it, and in some cases would expect them to virtually remake the meal, or the drink. If it was a small change, like adding a little more coffee, or sugar to his drink, or adding some more salt to his food I would do it, but if he demanded more than this, like remaking the meal I would refuse and point out that food is just there for energy and nutrients, it doesn’t matter what it tastes like, it is up to him whether he eats it or not, but I’m not making him any more.

On the day that dad passed away he had died about an hour before I arrived at the hospice he was in. My brother was present with him at this time. Before I arrived my brother had already let me know dad had died. On arrival I was asked whether I wanted to go straight in and see my dad. I told them I didn’t, he is dead. My brother is alive and the person who probably needs to see me most. When I saw my dad lying dead in the hospice bed it wasn’t upsetting, I thought about how peaceful he looked now, how he wasn’t in any pain anymore, he didn’t have to fight anymore.

The next day I was back working teaching a hypnotherapy diploma like nothing had happened. I went back into work and life carried on. People around me told me I should be upset and grieving, but to me I seem to logically accept things and move on.

After dad died I kept some old documents of dad’s. Whilst sitting down with my wife a week later going through the documents my wife read a note dad had written about me when I was about 3 years old. She told me she had just found this note and it described me as I am now, but it was written almost 35 years earlier. She read it out to me and I found I could relate to nearly all of it. It was a note suggesting he felt something was wrong with me and I needed to see a doctor. No-one else at the time seemed to see a problem, and from reading more notes and letters it seems dad wasn’t taken seriously about his observations.


Seeing these observations and realising it wasn’t just me feeling I have been the way I am for my whole life, but I now also had a parent who recognised my differences that helped me to decide to seek an adult diagnosis or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Unfortunately with dad dead I never had the chance to talk to him about how I was different, for him to elaborate on his observations of me as a young child, or to tell him I am still the same now, but the notes were like a final gift from dad showing that although he came across as blunt, and distant, and people often found him difficult, and he kept himself to himself, rarely mixing with other people, and didn’t seem to say much, he was very observant and caring and wanted what was best for his children, and I did end up seeing a specialist, and was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger’s).

Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis And Me by Dan Jones is out now and can be purchased via the following link:

http://apn.to/prod/1542551196

The book is also available from other retailers as an ebook and paperback (retail paperback edition ISBN: 978-1326917340)

Connect With Dan

Website: www.alt-solutions.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/danjoneshypnosis
Twitter: www.twitter.com/authordanjones
YouTube: www.youtube.com/dan19878

A huge thank you Dan for visiting Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today and for taking the time to write a great guest post. Wishing you every success with your book.

Blog Tour – Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski *Guest Post*

Hurrah it’s my turn on the Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski blog tour. Due to having a ridiculously busy month I couldn’t get Six Stories read in time which I’m pretty gutted about. Instead I have a fab guest post by Matt on ‘Tying Up The Threads’ Before I hand you over to Matt here’s what Six Stories about…

The Blurb

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame… As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Sounds good, right? The reviews for Six Stories have been great and this is one I will be trying to push up my TBR pile. Anyway, I will hand over to Matt…

Tying Up The Threads by Matt Wesolowski

I once went to a writing event and heard an author talk about how she planned and kept track of her plot lines. A great whiteboard in her writing room, spider-legs of red pen, like the web of some criminal investigation. That’s such a good idea, I thought to myself, I should really get rid of my shelves of skulls and odd trinkets, get a whiteboard, do this writing thing properly. Why do I do things so backwards?

I never got round to it, I’m afraid.

The amount of times I have tried to plan, to keep track of a plot, to make fastidious notes about characters and locations, all to no avail. These notes end up between tea-stained scraps of A4 that cower, unobserved beside my keyboard or else piled beneath books about monsters.

I just can’t do it. Every other aspect of my life is bound by logistics. All but my writing.

I often feel like that scene in the office where David Brent is being reprimanded and asked why he never writes anything down.
“It’s all up here.” Brent says, tapping his temple.
“It’s not though, is it David?”
I feel like I’m David Brent, ridiculous ideas pirouetting through my mind, never settling into a semblance of order.

What I tend to do when writing is start with an idea, an image then spool out a load of different threads in a story and hope for the best. Yes, that’s as technical as I get, I’m afraid.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s very rare that I know what’s going to happen at the end before I start a book, usually I just start and hope that somehow the end ties itself up on its own.

Which 99% of the time it does. I shelved a manuscript 50,000 words in because there just seemed no way anything would resolve. Maybe I’ll go back to it. Most probably, I wont.
I’ve tried to plan, I’ve tried to flesh out characters before I start, even draw maps of my imagined locations but they’ve all killed the story stone dead.

When I was writing Six Stories, I actually had no idea who killed Tom Jeffries or why, when I began. I just knew he was dead and the circumstances of his death. This was the quickest novel I ever wrote (1st draft was completed in about 4 or 5 months) and I didn’t research, I didn’t plan, I just wrote. The reasons for his death would come in their own time. If I kept writing, surely they’d come…

Believe it or not, I actually didn’t know how or why Tom Jeffries died until I was half way through episode five! It was panic stations for a while, wondering if this novel would end up on the unfinished, never-to-be-looked-at-again part of my hard drive.

I wasn’t going to let this happen for the second time in a row so I just waited until the solution hit me, which it eventually did (probably in the shower, I usually get over a knotty plot-point in the shower).

So there you have it; I have no strategy for plotting, no formula for writing, my characters emerged as pale things, skeletal; they took their forms as I wrote them, as did the plot.

For me, this is the most exciting thing about writing, that not-knowing until you are hit with a revelatory moment where, somewhere in some dark place at the bottom of your subconscious mind, those threads that you spooled out somehow knit themselves together.

Because who wants to have the ending spoiled?

About the Author

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

A massive thank you to Matt for the bloody brilliant guest post and to Karen at Orenda for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Be sure to check out the other hosts on the Six Stories blog tour…

Blog Tour – Secret and Fries at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox *Author Guest post*

Secrets and Fries Cover

I’m pleased to be hosting the final day of the Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner blog tour with a bloomin’ brilliant guest post by author Helen Cox.  Rather than waffling on I will tell you about the book and hand you over to Helen…

The Blurb

The smart second novel in the Starlight Diner series.

‘Fresh, original and addictive’ PHILLIPA ASHLEY

What brings Bonnie Brooks to the Starlight Diner? And why is she on the run?

As the front-woman in a band, Bonnie is used to being in the spotlight, but now she must hide in the shadows.

Bonnie only has one person she can turn to: her friend Esther Knight, who waitresses at the Fifties-themed diner.  There, retro songs play on the jukebox as fries and sundaes are served to satisfied customers.  But where has Esther gone?

Alone in New York City, Bonnie breaks down in front of arrogant news reporter, and diner regular, Jimmy Boyle.  Jimmy offers to help her.  Can she trust him?

When the kindly owner of the Starlight Diner offers Bonnie work, and she meets charming security officer Nick Molony, she dares to hope that her luck has changed.  Is there a blossoming romance on the cards? And can Bonnie rebuild her life with the help of her Starlight Diner friends?

Not Another Happy Ending!

Fellow author Helen Fields accused me of being an optimist after reading the Starlight Diner books, and I suppose I can’t deny it any longer. I do like to think the best in people and I do like to dish out realistic but happy endings to my characters.
Why? Well, I’ll confess, I’m not prone to writing about the most wholesome of people. Most of my characters haven’t made the best choices. One or two of them have an attitude problem that needs some ironing out. But to me, the slightly dubious nature of some of the guys and gals that populate the Starlight Diner series only makes it more important that the stories end with a door opening for them, rather than having yet another one slammed in their face.
Redemption is after all a powerful idea. We all trip. Fall. Make mistakes. Say the wrong thing. Most of us have done things we wish we could undo. It’s part of being human, learning to live with the things we get wrong and find a way forward once the dust has settled. The past might not be perfect and it can never be erased, but that doesn’t mean that the future has to be bleak.
I think hope is so very important to us all. That, and the ability to believe in goodness. That it is in us and that if we’ve temporarily lost touch with it as an ideal, we can find our way back to it.
Every author is on their own little mission of some nature. Many of us are on several missions at the same time. One of my personal writing aims is to write something that inspires the reader to believe that happiness is within reach, for all of us.
When things don’t go our way it can be difficult to hold onto faith in ourselves and the direction we’re heading. The characters in the Starlight Diner books encounter a number of twists and turns over the course of the book but ultimately every step they take is in a direction that will lead them to where they’re meant to be. Which, in fact, means they’re where they’re meant to be all along. Even if they don’t much like it (and, spoiler alert, they don’t).
I believe the above is true of all of us. In the long term, I choose to believe that even the most difficult of steps we take is a step closer to where we will be at our most content and if a trifling little conviction like that puts me squarely in the optimist bracket… well. So be it.
Guilty as charged.

A huge thank you to Helen for the fab guest post and to Helena at Avon Books for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Secrets and Fries Blog tour[2395]