#Review & #Q+A for @lucy_dillon #AllIEverWanted #BlogTour! @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity

lucydillon-squeal-! I am unbelievably honoured, and thrilled to be on Lucy Dillon’s blog tour for her newest release, ‘All I Ever Wanted’! Seeing as today is the last stop on the tour (thank you Hodder Books for trusting me with this), not only am I bringing you a review, I was given the opportunity to interview Lucy. As you can tell, I am extremely excited about being involved with this, lets start shall we? First up is my review, enjoy!

lucydillon1Blurb.

Caitlin’s life is a mess. Her marriage to a man everyone else thinks is perfect has collapsed, along with her self-esteem, and breaking free seems the only option.

Nancy, her four-year-old daughter, used to talk all the time; in the car, at nursery, to her brother Joel. Then her parents split up. Her daddy moves out. And Nancy stops speaking.

Nancy’s Auntie Eva, recently widowed and feeling alone, apart from the companionship of two bewildered pugs, is facing a future without her husband or the dreams she gave up for him.

But when Eva agrees to host her niece and nephew once a fortnight, Caitlin and Eva are made to face the different truths about their marriages – and about what they both really want . . .

What does TWG think?

Being only four years old, Nancy has properly found her voice. She loves talking and singing everywhere and anywhere she can. But then one day, Nancy’s sweet little songs and sweet little voice are no longer heard. She has stopped speaking; nothing her mum, Caitlin, does can get her to talk, or sing. Can Caitlin and Patrick put their issues aside, and get to the bottom of the sudden silence with their daughter?

Despite the fact that most of the book revolves around Caitlin and Patrick’s troubles, the storyline also dives into Patrick’s sister, Eva’s life, giving us a bit of a breather from bad choices and one sided decisions! I know that I am not alone when I say this, but Caitlin and Patrick got my back up quite a few times whilst I was reading the book. Even though they were adamant that they knew where their priorities lay, it was very clear by their actions who they were truly thinking about; themselves. It did seem to take a while for the penny to drop with them both and for each of them to realise that when children are involved, things are based on their happiness and wellbeing foremost, not theirs.

Caitlin came across as a rather self-centered character. She wanted to be around her children yet her personal antics seemed to take over, lowering the order of her priorities. My heart went out to Nancy and her brother, Joel, on many occasions. Their life had just been turned upside down and were too young to fully understand why. I did get very involved in the storyline, I mean, how couldn’t I? It was a book that I just couldn’t put down, even if I wanted to.

I really did enjoy it when the storyline switched over to Eva and her life for a little bit, especially when we got to delve into her life a bit more! Put it this way, there seemed to be a lot of skeletons in Eva’s closets, some of which she didn’t know about! Eva’s character seemed to play a vital role in the storyline, one that I didn’t really see coming. She most definitely turned into the Fairy Godmother of the book in my eyes.

‘All I Ever Wanted’ is a story about the effects of separation foremost, trust and being true to yourself. The entire storyline covers A LOT of ground and can easily be associated with a treasure chest. Every single page had a special edge to it; whether it was in an emotional way or a situation was cleverly written, it just highlights the fact that Lucy Dillon has written a truly fantastic book. Yes, a couple of the characters were rather frustrating and got under my skin but hats off to Lucy for writing characters like that. I must admit, I did find the Nancy situation emotional, it tugged at my heartstrings and my maternal instinct came out.

A truly special, heart-warming book that will stay in your mind for a long while afterwards. Beautiful.

Thank you Hodder Books!

All I Ever Wanted by Lucy Dillon can be bought from Amazon

TWG Interviews Lucy Dillon!

Never in a million years did I ever think I would get the opportunity to interview THE Lucy Dillon. But I did! I think I interrogated her a little bit too, sorry Lucy haha!

Thank you Lucy for taking the time to answer my questions!

TWG:  You are an incredibly popular author, but, for those that aren’t overly familiar with your work, could you tell us a bit about your background please?

Hello! That’s a very nice way to start… 🙂 I’ve written seven novels, all set in the small town of Longhampton, All of them deal with love, secrets, families, losses, life, the therapeutic magic of a long walk and tea, and usually dogs.

TWG: The very first book of yours I bought was ‘A Hundred Pieces Of Me’, the title resonated with me before I had even begun reading. Out of all of your books, including your new one, which one can you relate to the most?

Probably A Hundred Pieces of Me: like Gina, and like most people, I’ve had to confront the ‘how long should I keep university birthday cards?’ dilemma – when I had my house renovated and had to put everything I owned into storage, and then unpack it, room by room, I realised a lot of my life was defined by ‘stuff’, and that it was about time to work out what was important, both in terms of physical possessions, and also dreams and memories I’d hoarded away too. It was hard to write, but quite cathartic!

TWG: Are there any of your books that you find quite difficult to write, in terms of emotion or intensity?

There are always at least a couple of chapters in every book that I find hard to write, but that’s how it should be: the moments when the characters are reaching deep into their own hearts to confront their fears or hopes should take the reader (and the writer!) to those places and make us feel that same emotion. I try to imagine how I would feel if I was in my character’s shoes – A Hundred Pieces of Me was particularly heartbreaking because while I was writing the final chapters, my mum, like Gina, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it suddenly all became very real.

TWG: I am aware that your book catalogue is quite large, congratulations! Looking back through your catalogue of books, do you wish that you could have done anything different?

I’d probably change something about every book! I won’t say what though because then you’ll just read them and think, ‘Hmm, yes, maybe she should have done…’ But I would definitely have added a postscript to the end of One Small Act of Kindness to say, FIDO IS FINE. (Cryptic. But people who’ve read it will know!)

TWG: I could be clutching at straws here so do forgive me if I am, but, I have noticed that your book covers all have one thing in common, aside from your name obviously! They all have a ‘person’ on the front, is there a particular reason for that? Does the ‘person’ signify you, or am I like I said, clutching at straws?

I think that’s a great design decision from Hodder! I love the idea of the big sky and the small person – to me, it sums up both that feeling you sometimes have of being really small and vulnerable, and at the same time, the tremendous freedom that sweeps over you when you’ve faced up to your problems, and the world’s one big opportunity again.

TWG: What is your plan of action when it comes to starting a new book? Do you have a set way of preparing?

I make lots of notes, think about the characters, apply the idea of the Three Act Structure to my ideas… and then start writing and watch it all go out of the window.

TWG: I ask this question to all of the authors I am lucky enough to interview, purely because I’m nosy! What were your favourite books when you were a child?

I was – sorry, this makes me sound like a real nerd – a big fan of Greek and Roman mythology. I loved the creative madness of it all, particularly the punishments! From the age of about four, I read anything I could get my hands on, from Enid Blyton and Arthur Conan Doyle to plenty of stuff I shouldn’t have been able to get my hands on, like The Thorn Birds and Jilly Cooper.



 TWG: Could you see yourself writing a different genre? It seems as though a few authors change between two genres, is that something you would do?

I’d love to, but I’m not sure I could – my writing always seems to come out one way. But you never know! Sometimes you get an idea and it shapes everything else, so my cybercrime novel might make an appearance yet…

TWG: You have a new book coming out called ‘All I Ever Wanted’, massive congratulations to you. I was lucky enough to read an early copy and it is fantastically emotional. How did the storyline for the book come about? Was it a hard book to write?

I wanted to write a story about motherhood that everyone would be able to relate to in some way – whether it’s being a parent, with all the worries and delights that children bring into your life, or not being a parent, and having to deal with the way society regards childless women, as well as the feelings of regret or relief it might trigger inside. It was hard to balance everything up – obviously there’s no ‘right’ answer to any of those questions, and I didn’t want to make it seem as if I thought there was! – and the struggles both Caitlin and Eva go through the course of the book are quite emotional. And of course, Nancy’s story was pretty heartbreaking to write – I hate letting bad things happen to characters, but you know, you have to….

TWG: I am going to ask this question rather vaguely as to not give anything away to the readers, so hopefully you’ll know what I’m on about! But, little Nancy in the book will no doubt be a character who a lot of people will remember afterwards. Her situation is rather heart wrenching, where did the inspiration for her character begin?

From several places, but initially from watching small children interact with my dogs. My basset hounds were big, black, strong dogs – quite scary, you’d imagine, for children – but they were incredibly gentle with little ones, who always made a bee line for them. They seemed to ‘read’ each other’s body language instinctively, unlike adult humans with our often clumsy expressions. I wondered how it would be if someone who didn’t have much experience with children, but who’d spent many silent hours with her pugs, one of the most expressive breeds, might cope with a child who wouldn’t speak – and the trust that might build up without words. It’s hard to lie to a dog: they read us so well!

11. One last question; what are your plans for 2017? Can we look forward to more books? Any book events (Edinburgh cough)? Any exclusives?

I’m deep into my new book right now – exclusive reveal: it contains knitting! And family secrets! – and although I don’t have any specific plans for book events in Edinburgh, my boyfriend hails from the ice cream nirvana that is Largs, so I’ll doubtless be sneaking into the bookshops of Scotland to rearrange the stock before long.
And thank you for such interesting questions! I’m really glad you enjoyed the story, and for having me on the blog today. 🙂


Big
thank you to Lucy for answering my interrogation! I look forward to reading your next book!! I hope you all enjoyed reading the review and interview, thank you for popping by on the last stop of Lucy’s blog tour for ‘All I Ever Wanted’, published by HodderBooks!

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TWG interviews June Taylor (@joonlt), author of ‘Losing Juliet’! @KillerReads #interview

I would like to say a HUGE welcome to June Taylor as she pops her TWG cherry! Also, a massive congratulations on the release of her novel, Losing Juliet, which was released yesterday (25th November 2016)! Today June answers a few of my questions; handy for getting to know her a little bit more! Take a look!

I’m very pleased to welcome Killer Reads author June Taylor, today’s Author in the Spotlight.  Her latest book, Losing Juliet, is published on 25th November, 2016 as an eBook.  Paperback on January 10th, 2017.  You can order a copy here

 

TWG – What inspired you to start writing?

Once I realised the power of my imagination, I was away! The discovery that I could do anything, be anyone, go absolutely anywhere, was quite a revelation.  And as I was a quiet child at school, growing up in the “should-be-seen-but-not-heard” generation, the written word became an outlet for me.  I had a brilliant English teacher as well.

TWG – Tell me about your journey to publication

I’ve been writing for many years.  I come from a scriptwriting background originally, creating short plays, radio, and then I had a full-length play produced.  In 2011, I was runner up in the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition with a YA novel I’d always been meaning to write.  Three agents and several near misses later, I finally found my niche writing adult psychological thrillers.  I wrote the first draft of Losing Juliet five years ago.  After several drafts the deal finally came through with Killer Reads.  I’ve had a long apprenticeship but it’s all about becoming the best writer you can be in that time, not wasting opportunities along the way.  Even the best writers at the top of their game tell you it’s forever tough and that you can never stop learning.

TWG – In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?

Losing Juliet is a twisty psychological page turner about a friendship gone bad, inspired by a road trip I made in the late eighties to France.  There were so many What if? moments, I just knew there was a good story in there somewhere.  I love books which challenge you to think: What would I do in that situation? 

TWG – How did you come up with the title for your book?

In earlier drafts it had a different title, but HarperCollins weren’t keen.  So we had a brainstorming session, me and the Killer Reads team batting ideas back and forth.  They wanted to get the name Juliet in the title because it’s striking and memorable, but then we needed a word to go alongside it to capture the intrigue, danger and suspense of the story.  Losing Juliet was the favourite.  Titles are the hardest things! 

TWG – How will you celebrate publication day?

Hiding under the duvet probably! 

TWG – Do you have a work in progress just now?

Yes, I’m working on the next book.  I can’t say any more than that just yet as it’s in the early stages and I’m sworn to secrecy.  But it will be another psychological thriller/suspense. 

TWG – What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!

I did enjoy Girl on the Train actually.  I felt it did live up to the hype.  It’s well written and feels different.  In a ridiculously crowded market you have to write a thriller which stands apart from the rest, with good plot, skilled writing, and this one nails it.  (I prefer the book to the film, before you ask!)   

TWG – What are you reading just now? (November 2016)

I’m reading Helen Cadbury’s Bones in the Nest.  I don’t instinctively lean towards crime fiction per se, as I’m down the other end of the genre – psychological thrillers/suspense being more my thing – but if one is recommended to me or catches my eye then I can get just as hooked.  Helen’s writing is pacey and filmic.  She comes from a scriptwriting background like myself. 

TWG – Tell me about your reading habits:  book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?

Rather ironically, as Losing Juliet is initially an eBook, I prefer the magic of an actual book to an electronic version.  I still like to smell and turn the pages, flick back over them and savour the magic of holding an actual book in my hands.  However, when I’m on the move or going on holiday a kindle is brilliant.   

I’m generally a bedtime reader, but if I ever have to go anywhere I try to get the train so I can get stuck into a good book.  I’m a very slow reader.  I have been known to read in the bath, yes.  (Probably not kindle though!) 

TWG – How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

Via Twitter @joonLT or my website: www.junetaylor.co.uk

Ooooo a secret W.I.P, I am intrigued! Many thanks to June for letting us get to know her a little bit more, and good luck with the work in progress!
Curious about ‘Losing Juliet’? Details below:

lj

You can’t escape the past…

Juliet and Chrissy were best friends until one fateful summer forced them apart. Now, nearly twenty years later, Juliet wants to be back in Chrissy’s life.

But Chrissy doesn’t want Juliet anywhere near her, or her teenage daughter Eloise. After all, Juliet is the only person who knows what happened that night – and her return threatens to destroy the life that Chrissy has so carefully built.

Because when the past is reawakened, it can prove difficult to bury. And soon all three of them will realize how dangerous it can get once the truth is out there

BUY NOW!

 

TWG kicks off ‘Nice day for a white wedding’ (@ALMichael_) #blogtour! What would YOU choose? @UKCarina

I am truly honoured to be kicking off A.L.Michael’s blog tour for her latest release ‘Nice day for a white wedding’! Everyone loves a good wedding, and seeing as TWG is kicking off the tour, I had to really think outside of the box!

TWG + The Wedding Singer + Billy Idol = Nice day for a white wedding!

Today joining me on the blog is the main character from ‘Nice day for a white wedding’; Chelsea. This book is the second in the House on Camden Square series, following ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday’. 
 I have given Chelsea a task, a very interesting one if I do say so myself! Feel free to play along and let me know in the comments which YOU would choose.

Let’s get this show on the road!

Welcome to TWG Chelsea! I hope you’re ready for this as we’re going to have a bit of fun (I hope!).

TWG: Have you have thought about your own wedding Chelsea? 
Chelsea: Hiya! Yes, well, weddings have been in the air recently, and whilst I’d never really thought about mine before, I guess now is the time! I have a feeling it’s going to be hard though.

TWG: Well, today on TWG you’re going to choose what YOU would like for your wedding if money was no issue. What I would like you to do is to pick just ONE choice from each heading. All headings have three options, except for the wedding dress which has four (most important thing, obviously).

Chelsea, are you ready to ‘say YES to the dress’, with the possibility of meeting the ‘wedding singer’?

Choose ONE wedding ring.

rings
Option 1: Stand out like Ruby Tuesday?
Option 2: Pretty in pink like Esme?
Option 3: Bold like Evie?

Chelsea: I love the first one. It’s classic, elegant, but completely huge and a little edgy. Lots of drama!

Choose ONE wedding theme.

theme
Option 1: Vintage and demure
Option 2: Winter wonderland
Option 3: Christmas theme.

Chelsea: I never had great Christmas experiences growing up, we didn’t have the tree and the turkey and the hundreds of presents. I hadn’t thought about it until now, but it would be so great to be able to correct that! To make Christmas something special for both me and Kit.

Choose ONE wedding venue.

venue
Option 1: A castle fit for a Princess.
Option 2: Shake your tail feather in a barn.
Option 3: Get acquainted with nature.

Chelsea: I am definitely no princess! Mama always said I was born in a barn, and I”m afraid I’m not the outdoorsy type. Some dancing and drinking in a barn sounds about right.

Choose ONE wedding entertainment.

singers
Option 1: THE wedding singer (do I even need to continue?)
Option 2: Boogie nights with a disco.
Option 3: Have you ‘White Wedding’ with Billy Idol.

Chelsea: My old bad girl ways would probably love some Billy Idol, but how can you choose anyone but the wedding singer! Plus, Kit loves cheesy music, more than he’d like to admit!

Choose ONE wedding cake (yes, sorry, just one).

cake
Option 1: As white as dulux…
Option 2: Classy zebra cake
Option 3: Fruity and FABULOUS

Chelsea: Cake 2! Drama! So much drama! Love it, love it!

Choose ONE bridesmaid dress.

bridesmaid
Option 1: Strapless, mid-length dress with flower embellishment and a ribbon belt.
Option 2: A strapless, full length gown with multi layers at the bottom and floral design. Option 3: Halter neck, full length chiffon gown with a bling belt.

Chelsea: I mean, I can’t see Evie getting into a bridesmaids dress either way, unless it’s got ripped bits and safety pins on it, but if she can be classy for a day, number three is definitely it for Evie and Molls!

Choose ONE bouquet.

flowers
Option 1: Subtle yet classy
Option 2: Beautiful in blue
Option 3: The Ruby Tuesday bouquet.

Chelsea: It would be so great to honour Ruby in the flowers, add a little colour and sparkle to everything. Like I’ve said, drama drama!

Choose ONE wedding shoe (yes, ONE, sorry!!)

shoes
Option 1: Sexy!
Option 2: ‘Runaway Bride’?
Option 3: Statement!

Chelsea: I’m slightly more traditional with shoes – the higher the heel, the better to stamp down the aisle with! Sparkle, lace and skyscraper heels – check, shoe 3.

Okay Chelsea. It’s now time for the BIG one; THE wedding dress. You ready?

wedding dress
Option 1: Lace, full length dress with capped sleeves.
Option 2: It’s a Pnina Tornai…need I say more?
Option 3: I think Ruby is trying to tell you something…!
Option 4: This dress is inspired by Cinderella (I’m being serious).

Chelsea: I know I said I’m no princess, but, well, it’s one day, right? Some ruffles and a happy ending, that’s all I’m after. (TWG: Chelsea, you SHALL the ball ;). Good choice with number 4!)

Have you chosen your dress? Ready for the big question?
TWG!!
Chelsea, do you say YES to the dress?!

Chelsea: I’m saying YES! Thanks so much!

Were you all picking your choices whilst you read this? This was the first feature that I thought of completely on my own. A.L.Michael gave me the true honour of kicking off her tour and I just want to do her and the book proud!

Speaking of which….

nd

Blurb.

Sometimes, Happy Ever After is where the real trouble begins…
Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.

These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancé. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts of herself behind?

Nice day for a white wedding, by A.L.Michael, published by Carina, is available to buy right now from Amazon.
If you missed the first book in the series ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday’ (don’t worry, ‘nice day for a white wedding’ can be read as a standalone if necessary), you can pick up your copy from Amazon UK.

I hope you’ve enjoyed TWG’s wedding planning! Thank you so much to A.L.Michael for being an amazing sport with this feature, as always. Also, thank you to Chelsea for taking part!

TWG is thrilled (& starstruck) to have author Cathy Bramley in the spotlight!

Bear with me a moment while I compose myself -breathes-. Not long ago, I thought I would chance my luck and tweet Cathy to see if she was available for an interview. I nearly fell off my chair when she replied saying yes! Just like a huge percentage of the population, I am a huge fan of Cathy’s, so to interview her and talk about books that I read well before I began blogging, is a dream come true. -fangirl moment-. It is with such great pleasure that I welcome THE Cathy Bramley to The Writing Garnet!

cathy1

TWG: For those that may not be aware, could you tell us a little about yourself?

I am the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm, Wickham Hall, Conditional Love and The Plumberry School of Comfort Food. I live in a Nottinghamshire village with my husband, two daughters and a dog.

TWG: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Not at all! I’ve always been an avid reader, but it didn’t cross my mind to write until a few years ago.

TWG: Have there been any books which have made you wish you wrote them? If so, which ones and why?

Pride and Prejudice. It’s such a captivating love story and the royalties would come in handy.

TWG: How easy was it to get the inspiration for all of your books?

It varies book to book. The idea for some novels come to me fully formed, others take lots of work.

TWG: Did you find yourself struggling to write any of the books?

My first, Conditional Love took me the longest because I was learning on the job (I’m still learning). I struggle to write all of them really; it’s the hardest job I’ve ever done.

TWG: Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written so far?

I feel very close to my characters as I’m writing a book, so all new books feel like my favourite. But I do have a soft spot for Ivy Lane.

TWG: You write what I call ‘cosy books’. Books that you can curl up reading with a cuppa, was that what you set out to do?

Thank you! That’s a lovely way to describe my books and it is exactly what I set out to do.

TWG: Have you disliked any of the characters in your stories?

I try to give my ‘baddies’ redeeming features because I like to think that there is good in everyone. However there was a character in Conditional Love who I was glad to see the back of!

TWG: Have there been any books that you can quite happily read multiple times? If so, what ones?

My TBR pile is too big to allow me that luxury, but the Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani would fit into that category.

TWG: Lastly, if you could give advice to writers just starting out, what would it be?

Enjoy the luxury of writing what you want to write, experiment, try different voices and genres until something really clicks. And if you are hoping to be published, don’t labour over every sentence; get the voice right and get to the end!

Thank you again Cathy! Cathy’s latest novel ‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ was released in paperback on the 30th June.
Love the cover!

Cathy

‘Verity Bloom hasn’t been interested in cooking anything more complicated than the perfect fish finger sandwich, ever since she lost her best friend and baking companion two years ago.

But an opportunity to help a friend lands her right back in the heart of the kitchen. The Plumberry School of Comfort Food is due to open in a few weeks’ time and needs the kind of great ideas that only Verity could cook up. And with new friendships bubbling and a sprinkling of romance in the mix, Verity finally begins to feel like she’s home.

But when tragedy strikes at the very heart of the cookery school, can Verity find the magic ingredient for Plumberry while still writing her own recipe for happiness?’

Plumberry School is available to buy right now from Amazon UK.
Not only that, it is also available to buy from Tesco, Asda (chosen as their charity book with 30p of every copy going to Breast Cancer charity), and Sainsburys (currently Sainsbury’s ‘Book of the Week’)!
To keep up to date with the latest news from Cathy herself, you can do so via Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you so much to Cathy Bramley for being in TWG’s spotlight!

What type of reader are you? Find out how rebellious Author Anne Hamilton is!

TWG would like to welcome a very special guest to the blog tonight!
Not only is my special guest editor for the Lothian Life, she is also an author, welcome Anne Hamilton! Anne approached me in regards to a guest post on the blog, obviously I wasn’t going to refuse. Time to find out how rebellious Anne Hamilton is!

Rebel Reader

Reading is my long-standing rebellion; my nose has barely been outside a book since I learned my ABC. Age seven, I had to be forcibly ejected ‘outside to play’; by ten, I had negotiated a bedroom swap with my brother because a street lamp shone through his window if the curtains were carefully angled. Still at primary school I wrote ‘books’ because I’d read everything in the (very small) mobile library. At eighteen, I managed the ultimate rebellious act: away from home, I could finally read a book whilst I was eating my breakfast. Or my lunch. Or my dinner… I don’t do it so much now; I’ve come full circle in trying to set an example for my own child, but, I can still conjure up that little frisson of daring.

These days – when I’m feeling brave – I call myself a writer, and I like to think the reading has stood me in good stead; everyone knows that writers are constantly exhorted to read, read, read. (And I mean the classics, the bestsellers, the debuts in your genre, not Twitter updates, FB posts or, um, oh dear, blog posts on writing!)

Reading, we are told, not only hones our own story-telling skills, but is essential in understanding the murky world of publishing: what novels are currently selling; why, where and to whom.

It’s a timely reminder. How tempting is it, when immersed in creating your own world to forget about everyone else’s? And in doing that, you can fall out of touch with the reading population. Who cares, you might ask; you don’t want to be fashionable, you just want to write the next great novel. Well, secretly, who doesn’t? And whilst none of us knows what this is, your masterpiece is only in the running if the movers and shakers of reading, writing and publishing agree to read it; you have to get on their radar. Yes, you might, possibly, do that by blazing a trail, but you’re more likely to start out by riding on the tails of other successes.

So, when I’m not writing, parenting, (or updating my social media accounts) I do still read. But what nobody really, truly grasps until they are an author themselves, is that writing ruins reading. Add in the fact that I’m a fiction editor, and a creative writing teacher, and it’s a triple whammy of ruins.

I exaggerate (of course, I do, I’m a writer) but any hobby runs the risk of becoming a chore when it turns into work. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the facets of my job, but I find it harder and harder to read for pure enjoyment. People pay me their hard-earned money to critique, correct and question their stories and help make them the best they can be. I take that very seriously, and the upshot is I read like a writer – and my ‘off’ switch is broken.

In the same way that a restaurant reviewer doesn’t necessarily want to go home and deconstruct her dinner, but to sit, relax and enjoy it, sometimes I just want to be transported by a ripping good yarn, or get the information I’m seeking without analysing text and format. Yet, I find myself examining picture books and rephrasing the words – my five year old son has been known to say, ‘Mummy, stop thinking about the words and read the story.’  I edit the junk mail through the door. I tramp the aisles of the supermarket considering why that cereal packet has that particular blurb. I miss stops on the bus because I’m mentally altering billboards. It isn’t that any of these words – or the novels I do read – are often less than fine, simply that there are endless other options, and I can’t help but wonder.

(It works both ways, of course; come the hour when someone, fair enough, shouts at me – hey, call yourself an editor, what about this, then? – as they brandish my own stories or peoples’ novels I’ve worked on. My only defence is that I do my best, just as everyone else out there is doing. And then I forget the possibility as therein lies madness!)

There’s something else, too. Even when I read a novel purely for pleasure, the writer in me knows how much its author would appreciate a review. Therefore, as I read, I’m formulating my review – and reigning myself in to do it as a reader, not an editor. At this stage, nobody is interested in my suggestions about, say, the structure of the novel or pursuing an alternative Point of View; if they had been they would have asked me to edit it. (The book is published, Anne, get over it). What the writer wants – what I want as a writer – is to know, did the reader enjoy it, why/not and was it a good story, well-written?

What’s my opinion of a great book? Simply the one in which I forget I’m a writer. I forget I’m an editor. When I read and read like I used to do as a child, almost holding my breath to find out what happened next. When it was just one more chapter before bed, where I’d go to dream about my favourite characters – and wonder who were these amazing people called writers?

Then, I’m reading like a reader.

And the rebel reader that got me this far is still going strong.

anneh
Anne’s Website
Follow Anne on Twitter.

Anne is the author of ‘A Blonde Bengali Wife’, and all the money that is earned from the book goes to charity. Here is what the book is about:

‘They all said that Bangladesh would be an experience …
For Anne Hamilton, a three-month winter programme of travel and “cultural exchange” in a country where the English language, fair hair, and a rice allergy are all
extremely rare was always going to be interesting, challenging, and frustrating. What they didn’t tell Anne was that it would also be sunny, funny, and the start of a love affair with this unexplored area of Southeast Asia.
A Blonde Bengali Wife shows the lives beyond the poverty, monsoons, and diarrhoea of Bangladesh and charts a vibrant and fascinating place where one minute Anne is levelling a school playing field “fit for the national cricket team,” and then cobbling together a sparkly outfit for a formal wedding the next. Along with Anne are the essential ingredients for survival: a travel-savvy Australian sidekick, a heaven-sent adopted family, and a short, dark, and handsome boy-next-door.
During her adventures zipping among the dusty clamour of the capital Dhaka, the longest sea beach in the world at Cox’s Bazaar, the verdant Sylhet tea gardens, and the voluntary health projects of distant villages, Anne amasses a lot of friends, stories … and even a husband?
A Blonde Bengali Wife is the ‘unexpected travelogue’ that reads like a comedy of manners to tell the other side of the story of Bangladesh.
All money earned from A Blonde Bengali Wife goes direct to the charity, Bhola’s Children, of which the author and agent are active participants. A Blonde Bengali Wife isn’t about Bhola but it is a tribute to Anne’s journeys into Bangladesh and all the friends she has made there. Most of all, it is the story of the country that inspired Bhola’s Children.’

If this book sounds like something you would enjoy reading, knowing that you’ll be helping out a charity as well, here is how you can get hold of your very own copy: Buy from Amazon UK

Big thank you to Anne for stopping by the blog!

An interview with…..Portia Macintosh!

Good evening! It is double whammy night here at The Writing Garnet to celebrate Portia Macintosh’s publication day of ‘Truth or date?’. It is available to buy right now over on Amazon —> Truth or date?. Portia has written several other novels such as ‘Drive me crazy’ and ‘Bad Bridesmaid’. All of her books can be found right….HERE!

If you’re just joining us tonight, this is the second blog of our double whammy, so if you haven’t already taken a look at the book review of this novel, go looksee before reading this interview! It’ll make more sense that way. Our book review can be found here: Book Review – Truth or Date?

You know the saying ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’, yes? Well, that applies right here. I was convinced that Portia wouldn’t be able to spare any time today for a chat, so I was very pleased she said yes! It is with great pleasure I welcome to The Writing Garnet….Portia Macintosh!

Kaisha – Hi Portia, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me! I want to start off by saying congratulations to you today as it is the publication day for your new book ‘Truth or Date?’! How nervous are you for this book to be released compared to your other releases?

Thank you so much! It’s my pleasure to talk to you – all about myself haha. I feel daft admitting it, but I’m kind of nervous this time. This is my fifth book, you’d think I’d be used to it, but there’s something about this one… It’s possibly the most influenced by my real life, so there’s a degree of: ‘if people think this is dumb, do people think I’m dumb? Am I dumb? I’m probably dumb…’ I have to admit, when I got my first few reviews and they were all good, I breathed the ultimate sigh of relief. Like: ‘as you were, Portia.’ 

Kaisha – For those that aren’t aware of your work (yet), could you tell us about yourself and how you came to be a writer?

In some ways my journey was pretty typical – another journalist turned author – but I started out writing books as a way to anonymously tell my stories from my time touring with bands. I fast realised that I loved writing fiction, even more than I loved writing about music. Since I signed with Carina UK, I’ve never looked back. 

Kaisha – You have had several books published before ‘Truth or Date?’ what makes this novel different from your previous ones?

Well, like I said before, I think this one is the most influenced by my real life. I spent last year playing the dating game, being set up by friends, using every app I could feasibly download considering I eternally have the ‘storage almost full’ message on my iPhone – and I gathered enough information to fill fifty books. From the good, to the bad, to the just plain ugly, it’s nice to take real stuff and put it to good use. 

Kaisha – The main character in your book, Ruby, seems the type of person that a lot of readers may relate to in terms of unlucky in love, and her attitude towards dating. Is Ruby based on anyone that you know? If not, how did you come about creating such a ‘totally me’ personality in her?

I’m Ruby. My friends are Ruby. Everyone who has ever been messed around by a man is Ruby. The poor girl has been through a lot – an absolute barrage of rubbish men – but I wanted to show people what we girls go through in our quest to find true love. I want my readers to follow Ruby’s story and think: ‘thank God, it’s not just me!’ – because at some point we’re all in the same sinking boat, waiting for a sexy lifeguard to save us from a sea of dating misery haha. 

Kaisha – Millsy, Ruby’s best friend, is such an immature player which you have written brilliantly. However, he seems the ‘annoying best friend’, did you find yourself wanting to tell him to grow up when you were writing him?

Millsy is a blatant swipe at all of my immature male friends who think they are LADs. Not a bad person, but with his priorities all wrong. I have lots of friends like Millsy, I’ve been on dates with guys like Millsy – and they’re charming, funny, and an absolute blast to be around, but at the end of the day, you can’t change them. So as much as I’d love the Millsys of the world to grow up, I know better than to try and change a guy like that – in and out of fiction. 

Kaisha – You have written such a hilarious book, definitely not for a prude! Were those one-liners easy for you to write? Or did they come to you naturally?

Aww, thank you. Much to my family’s annoyance, I have quiet a vulgar sense of humour, and I’m very sarcastic, so one-liners make up a good 80% of my day-to-day dialogue. It was nice to have an outlet for them that didn’t see an elderly relative roll their eyes at me haha. 

Kaisha – ‘Truth or Date?’ is very cleverly written, did you know straight away you were going to create characters that weren’t so clever? Naming no names!

Yes, definitely. One thing I wanted to make very clear is that, when it comes to love, we’re all idiots. We all make wrong choices, we all do stuff we’re not proud of. I think everyone has had a crush on someone they couldn’t have, or they’ve done something stupid to try and win someone over – sometimes absolutely crazy things we wouldn’t do if we were thinking straight. People are silly when it comes to love, so I knew my characters needed to be just as clueless. 

Kaisha – Are there any characters in your book that you dislike? Be honest!

Yes – Heather. She’s so annoying, isn’t she? Now, don’t get me wrong, I have so much respect for people who chose to live a vegan lifestyle. I absolutely love animals, and I hate to think of anyone harming them in any way, but to commit to vegan life is a big deal and that needs commending. That said, I cannot stand anyone who preaches about anything, and I have this one vegan friend who saw me eating meat in a café, and proceeded to tell me exactly how animals are slaughtered – literally while the food is in my mouth. We all have our beliefs and that’s awesome, but we should all be allowed to ‘do us’ without criticism or being made to feel guilty, right? 

Kaisha – If you could choose a book that has been written by another author to be one of the books written by you, which one would it be and why?

Ooh, that’s a good question. I absolutely love Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It made me wish I wrote thrillers. 

Kaisha – Do you find that the more novels you write, the more pressure there is for each one to be more successful than the last?

I do, actually. Because the second you write a book that people don’t love, you’re going to think you’ve lost your touch, get the fear and never write again. OK, maybe that’s extreme, but it’s in the back of your mind, for sure. 

Kaisha – Lastly, what are your plans for the future in terms of writing? What else can we look forward to seeing from you?

I have started book six already, which should be out at the end of year. I can’t say much at this stage – not because I’m being a tease, because I’m still trying to figure a lot of it out haha. What I will say…it might be a Christmas book. Maybe. I’m still trying to work out if that’s a brilliant idea, or just my way of justifying eating too much and listening to carols while I write it…

Such an honest interview! Thank you Portia for giving such a wonderful interview. You are right, people shouldn’t feel guilty for being themselves or doing what they feel is right, especially if someone else does something different.

Hope you all enjoyed reading the interview and the book review tonight, thank you for stopping by!

From Scotland to England With Ali Mcnamara….Actually.

I am squealing as I type this. If you’re currently hearing a high pitched noise, or your dog has its ears pricked up listening for something, don’t panic, only me!

It is with great pleasure and honour to welcome Ali McNamara to The Writing Garnet! Ali McNamara is well known for the ‘Notting Hill’ series (my book review of book 1 can be found HERE, and currently has six novels to her name, with her seventh being published this July.

Ali agreed to an interview with me for the blog, so here is what we had a chat about, enjoy!

Kaisha: – You already know I’m a massive fan of yours, but who inspires you in terms of other authors, if any?

Ali – Thank you! From my own genre I’ve always loved Cecelia Ahern, as her stories are always a little bit different. At the moment I also love reading J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith, and Mitch Albom’s books – a bit like Cecelia, something a little different…

Kaisha – You went into a great amount of detail with the Notting Hill series, bringing movies to life. Did you find that hard to do, or are you a movie buff just like Scarlett is?

Ali – I love the types of movies Scarlett does – feel good films that make you smile! :).  I spent a long time re watching all my favourites, and some I hadn’t seen before, as research for the first Notting Hill book. And I got to call it work!

Kaisha – I have to ask. Bridget Jones’s diary turned 15 this month and she is having a baby in the new film! Do you have any plans to bring Scarlett and co back for a fourth book?

Ali – I would LOVE to write about Scarlett again! I always planned another book where children were definitely on the horizon for her and Sean. However things change quite quickly in publishing, and at the moment my own publishers aren’t so keen for another Notting Hill book. But never say never! I miss those characters; they may be back one day….

Kaisha – Your book ‘Step back in time’ had quite a lot of celebrity references too in terms of music, how long did it take you to research that particular book?

Ali – A long time! Step Back in Time is one of my personal favourites, but because its set in five different decades, it was one of the hardest to write in terms of research, everything had to be checked and double-checked!

Kaisha –  If you could pick just one of your books as your favourite, which would it be and why?

Ali – Whoops, I think I answered that above! But the Notting Hill characters will always be special to me.

Kaisha – Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Ali – No, definitely not.  However, because I’m an only child I’ve always had a very active imagination!

Kaisha – If you hadn’t become a writer, what would career path would you see yourself in right now?

Ali – Law. I love fighting for what’s right!

For those that are fans of the ‘Notting Hill’ series, cross your fingers for a fourth book! Thank you again to Ali for taking the time out to have a chat with me and answering my questions. It has been an absolute pleasure. You have also put my inquisitiveness to rest for a little while! Ali’s new novel ‘Letters from Lighthouse Cottage’ is out 14th July 2016, and is available to pre-order on Amazon right now, so make sure you get your copy snapped up ready for publication date!