Desert Island Books with… Michelle Kidd

Desert Island Books

This week’s Desert Island Books have been chosen by author Michelle Kidd. Let’s see what she has picked to take to keep her company in her isolation, shall we?

Book One – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

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Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The magic starts here!

It’s almost impossible to choose just one Harry Potter book!  I love each and every one, but I guess the sensible thing is to choose the very first, as that is where it all started! When they first came out, I always believed that the Harry Potter books were for children – but how wrong could I be! They may start out as children’s books, but with each and every new book I think they mature and grow into something completely different, something that manages to transcend all ages. JK Rowling’s ability to set a scene and create characters is impeccable. Characters, for me, make or break a book, and she creates such vivid characters that you cannot help but feel as though you transported into each scene and see it first-hand. Every so often I have a Harry Potter binge and read them all from start to finish.

Book Two – The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

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Bilbo Baggins enjoys a quiet and contented life, with no desire to travel far from the comforts of home; then one day the wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves arrive unexpectedly and enlist his services – as a burglar – on a dangerous expedition to raid the treasure-hoard of Smaug the dragon. Bilbo’s life is never to be the same again.

I was probably about twelve when I first read The Hobbit. It remains one of my favourite all-time ‘go to’ books – I have lost count of the number of times I have read it, but each time always feels like the first time. I remember that, as a child, I bought myself a set of limited edition hardbacks of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with my pocket money, and they still take pride of place on my bookshelf today. Although I love the whole set, The Hobbit remains my favourite as this is where I was first introduced to the notion of a Hobbit. And second breakfasts. The descriptions Tolkien manages to convey into The Hobbit, and the magical and mythical creatures he creates, for me mark this book out as a masterpiece.

Book Three – BIKO by Donald Woods

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‘You are either alive and proud or you are dead … and your method of death can be a politicizing thing’ Steve Biko Founder of the Black Consciousness Movement

Steve Biko was a natural target for the South African authorities. On 13 August 1977, Steve Biko was arrested, interrogated and beaten. On 12 September he was dead. Editor of a leading anti-apartheid paper, Donald Woods was a friend of Steve Biko and went into exile in order to write his testimony about the life and work of a remarkable man.

As a teenager I read a lot about the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and became totally obsessed with books and films on the subject. I even bought myself an ANC badge and wore it with pride! I was lucky enough to see Nelson Mandela in the flesh when he attended the concert in his name at Wembley after being released from prison in 1990.  For many reasons, BIKO is a book that has always remained with me from the minute I read it. It formed the basis for the Oscar nominated film ‘Cry Freedom’ starring Denzil Washington (one of my all-time favourite films!) and tells the true story of Steve Biko, founder of the Black Consciousness Movement. It is a highly emotive book; as thought-provoking now as it was when I first read it in the 1980s. The research and detail that went into this book is astounding. The content is, at times, upsetting – and pulls no punches in detailing how cruel human beings can be towards each other.

Book Four – The Shining by Stephen King

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Danny is only five years old, but in the words of old Mr Hallorann he is a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Danny’s visions grow out of control.

As winter closes in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seems to develop a life of its own. It is meant to be empty. So who is the lady in Room 217 and who are the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why do the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

Somewhere, somehow, there is an evil force in the hotel – and that, too, is beginning to shine . . .

I was a voracious reader from a very early age, and I basically grew up reading Stephen King’s books. The man is such a phenomenal author and classic storyteller, it is hard to choose just the one book – but I think The Shining has to be one of his very best. The book is chilling to read and still gets my heart pumping even after all this time. I read it as a teenager, long before I watched the film, and I still feel that it is the pinnacle of a classic horror book. You don’t get much more frightening than the goings on at the Overlook Hotel!

Book Five – Murder at the Farm by Paul Foot

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A revised edition of an investigation into the murder of schoolboy Carl Bridgewater in 1978, updated to include coverage of the release in February of the three men accused of his murder (a fourth one also wrongly convicted died in prison). Foot questions why the men remained in prison for so long, and asks who did kill Carl Bridgewater.

Another one of my obsessions is true crime and miscarriage of justice books. As a former defence lawyer, I find them fascinating and upsetting in equal measures. This book tells the story of the wrongful conviction of four men for the killing of Carl Bridgewater. It took seventeen years to clear their names. This book is incredibly detailed, analysing all the facts and evidence, enabling the reader to see where the grave mistakes were made. This book is a favourite of mine because of the way Paul Foot shows how the mistakes and inadequacies in the way crimes were investigated back in the 1970s led to such a devastating miscarriage of justice, and then just how hard it is to turn the scales of justice back in your favour. A thought-provoking read.

My luxury item:

It would have to be my tabby cat, Livi! (Assuming animals are allowed!) Livi came to live with us in November 2015 from our local stray cat rescue centre. She was only seven months old at the time. After a cautious and anxious start, she has now firmly stamped her authority on the house as her territory, and sleeps on my bed nestled up against my legs. I’m not sure I would be able to sleep on the desert island if I couldn’t feel her pressed up against me! She may well decide that the sandy beach is just one large litter tray, but she might make up for it by being an expert hunter!

About Michelle Kidd

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Michelle Kidd is a self-published author known for the Detective Inspector Jack MacIntosh series of novels.

Michelle qualified as a lawyer in the early 1990s and spent the best part of ten years practising civil and criminal litigation.

But the dream to write books was never far from her mind and in 2008 she began writing the manuscript that would become the first DI Jack MacIntosh novel – The Phoenix Project. The book took eighteen months to write, but spent the next eight years gathering dust underneath the bed.

In 2018 Michelle self-published The Phoenix Project and has not looked back since. There are currently three DI Jack MacIntosh novels, with a fourth in progress.

Michelle works full time for the NHS and lives in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. She enjoys reading, wine and cats – not necessarily in that order 

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Michelle’s latest book is The Fifteen, the third book in the DI Jack MacIntosh series and you can buy a copy here.

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When the past finally catches up with you, is it murder? Or justice?

When a bedbound, defenceless man is found dead in his London nursing home, nobody saw his killer. But the killer left their mark.

Detective Inspector Jack Macintosh soon discovers that this was no random killing; this one was personal.

And it was just the beginning.

As the case unfolds, Jack is forced to think the unthinkable as the evidence begins to point disturbingly close to home.

Revenge – how long would you wait?

Connect with Michelle:

Website: https://www.michellekiddauthor.com

Facebook: Michelle Kidd Author

Twitter: @authorkidd

Instagram: @michellekiddauthor

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Romancing the Romance Authors… with Colette Kebell

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today I am thrilled to be quizzing author Colette Kebell on all facets of romance writing.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

Hello Julie, thanks so much for having me on your blog.  

I write mostly Contemporary Female which would fall under the umbrella of chicklit or romcom They are light-hearted, fun and quirky.  The aim is to bring a few smiles and laughter to the reader to brighten their day.  That’s not the only genre I write in though.  I also have a financial crime thriller out there in the world, which does have an element of both romance and suspense and the one I don’t talk about, an erotic historical western set in pre-Civil War America.

As to my journey I knew little or nothing about being an indie author when I set out, or any kind of author for that matter.  I’d read plenty of books and had quite a good grasp of the English language, thanks to my days as a legal secretary, but had to jump through quite a few hoops and navigate a steep learning curve to get to where I am.  I had some help though, from an American indie author called Donna Jane McDonald, which was invaluable and thus was mentored by her for a time.  Once in a while I have a go at approaching traditional publishers, out of curiosity more than anything else, but nothing has come from those approaches to date.  I guess I like the control and freedom of being an indie author and might find it quite strange to have to work to deadlines as this point in my writing career, though, having said that, if the right deal came along, I’m sure I would manage.

Why romance?

For the feel-good factor.  There are many categories that fall under that umbrella, but I read light-hearted books, on the whole and so it felt natural to me to write books under that sub-category

What inspires your stories?

Any number of things have inspired my stories.  My first two I drew partially, at least, on my past experience as a legal secretary.  There are elements of each of those books which are true to my own past, though I’m not about to let on which those are, I like to keep the readers guessing…  Other than that, it depends on the book.  My financial crime thriller was partly inspired by my Dad, who was a stock broker, and my raunchy was inspired by Roots and The Colour Purple, as well as good old fashioned westerns such as Calamity Jane.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I’m a fan of Jill Mansell’s books, then there are the likes of Jackie Collins, whose books I grew up reading.  I came across Donna McDonald by having loved her books and so I have a varied taste you could say.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Do I honestly have to pick one?  If that’s the case, I would say it would have to be Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  Is that truly classed as a romance novel… I think so, though there is a whole plethora of emotions to experience from reading that book.

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Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun teashop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

Hugh Jackman when he played the character of Leopold in the film Kate and Leopold would be my ideal date.He is a perfect gentleman, but is also an intellectual with a very good grasp on life despite having been thrown out of his own time zone. Due to the nature of his character I’d like to take him to a museum where there were plenty of Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions on display as although I would also find it fascinating I know he would. A private viewing would be even better as that’s one character I’d quite like to … erm… well I won’t go there… with perhaps a candle lit meal at the end of it where we could discuss the day and get to know each other better.  

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The RNA to me is all about camaraderie and support.  I have met some fabulous fellow members despite not having attended one of the major events yet.  Don’t worry though, all things being well, I shall attend one next year, given the chance.   

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Read, read and read, write, write and write.  Exercise your writing every day, whether it be answering interview questions, writing a blog, a review or entering a competition, as well as writing that first all-important novel.

Tell me about your latest book.

My latest book is called I Don’t Do Mondays! and the tagline is ‘Anything can happen on a Monday… even love…’ You can buy a copy of the book here.

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How can Mia find happiness?

Lawyer Mia’s picture-perfect dream life in New York is imploding. Her job has become too stressful, she’s exhausted from carrying her friends and what’s up with her striking, wealthy fiancé?

But when life-changing decisions force her to move to Maine, where she’ll face her often critical father and hard truths about what truly matters in life, she re-discovers a passion of her youth.

What begins as a low moment in her life quickly pushes her to consider what she genuinely wants and leads her down a new path where she must embrace the future and let go of the past.

Will this move help Mia to fix her life, once and for all, and will she finally find true love?

About the Author

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Colette Kebell is an eclectic author, though a relatively new one and thus far has self-published her books. Her books are light-hearted, fun and quirky and even considered by some to be inspirational. She publishes mostly for the English speaking market and the Italian one. Colette Kebell does not stick to just one genre when writing though, as you shall discover from her latest book which launched on 5th April 2019.

As a career, Colette spent her later years as a legal secretary. After a first attempt at writing many years ago (a book that still remains in her drawer) she resumed this passion a few years back, after being made redundant. After few book signing events and a book talk, which almost caused her to collapse with nerves, Colette now spends her time between her home in the UK and her home in France.

Colette has two adorable dogs and, when not writing and marketing her books, she likes cooking for herself and her husband, gardening or designing various items for their home. Amongst her other hobbies, she has also experimented with furniture upholstery, and she might, from time to time, have a paintbrush in her hand.

Connect with Colette:

Website: http://colettekebell.com/

Facebook: Colette Kebell Author

Twitter: @ColetteKebell

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Friday Night Drinks with… D. Ellis Overttun

FRIDAY NIGHT DRINKS

Tonight I am delighted to be joined for my weekly Friday Night Drinks by author… D. Ellis Overttun.

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I’m not really a drinker. So, it would probably be cranberry and seven. However, if I had to pick an alcoholic beverage, it would be a Kir Royale.

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Well, given I’m not much of a drinker, I don’t really have a spot that comes to mind. One place is basically as good as any other. However, if I had to pick a place that could be any place, it would be Rick’s Café in Casablanca. Believe it or not, it’s a real place, inspired by Rick’s Café Américan.

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I’ll be wearing a double-breasted, ivory dinner jacket ensemble a la Bogie, minus the cigarette. How about you?

Instead of Sam singing “As Time Goes By”, I think I would like to hear Carly Simon’s version backed up, of course, by the incredible harmonics of Stevie Wonder (http://dld.bz/jhag9). What would follow would be a set a la the one from her Live at Grand Central Station performance.

That is very specific imagery, you must be a writer! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

The first person has to be Alice Roberts. I first bumped into her when I came across a BBC documentary series called Origins of Us. It traces the evolution of our bodies from the trees to the plains of ancient Africa. Using her training as an anatomist, she shows how the changing environment shaped our bodies. Several of the chapters throughout my Terra Nova series have been inspired by this BBC series. Apart from getting her take on those parts, I would like to get her opinion on a speculative scifi concept on which my novels hinge: What would happen if sexual relations for pleasure and procreation separated? My take on it is the backdrop to my first novel, Universe: Awakening.

The next person I would like as part of our merry band would be physicist, Brian Cox. I’ve probably seen most of his documentaries, but my favourite is Human Universe. I would like to get his take on the physics in the Terra Nova series, particularly my concept of subspace. It is another speculative scifi concept that postulates that most of the mass/energy of the universe is inaccessible to us under normal circumstances. Also, it would be great fun to hear some of his stories when he was the keyboard player in his Dare days.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I am in the process of finishing up my 4th book, Mirror in Time. As the title suggests, it’s about time travel. It is a standalone novel with (I think) very accessible science that is faster paced than my other novels. I’ve included the as yet unpublished prologue. Any sci-fi bloggers who want to review an ARC of the soon-to-be-finished book can DM my wife, Natasha (@neoverttun).

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I suppose the proudest moment has been having guest posts hosted on various sites. The biggest challenge has been to generate content for those posts. I have found it quite daunting. It has given me a lot of respect for bloggers like yourself who constantly have to deal with writing reviews on what I only imagine are tight schedules.

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I would like to be a panelist at MCM London Comic Con discussing the Terra Nova series.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

My favorite place has to be the south of France, mainly because of the food and the ambiance.

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I don’t have a bucket list. For me, it has always been more about the journey than the destination. Also, I suppose it’s because I think it means you can see the end somewhere on the horizon. I think I would find it a little depressing. Having said that, I live each day as if they are in short supply and approach everything with a sense of urgency.

The closest thing I would have to an item on a bucket list would be to be able to play the piano totally by ear (because fingers are so boring.) I’m almost there, but to be able to free myself from having to read music would be so liberating.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

When I was young, I used to take French at a convent in the neighbourhood where I grew up. There was a story that I had to translate in one of the lessons. I remember it was prefaced by a picture of a wolf who had experienced lean times and a well-fed dog. They met at the edge of a forest on opposite sides of a fence surrounding a farm and had an exchange about their current circumstances. The wolf complained about how hard his life was, constantly searching for food and braving the elements. The dog, on the other hand, was quite content. He led a comfortable life with plenty of food and shelter. Now, I’m paraphrasing…

“Gee, it would be great if I could live like that,” the wolf said.

“Well, let me speak to the farmer. Maybe, you can come live with me,” the dog replied.

“Would you?” Then, the wolf noticed the dog’s neck. “Why is your fur matted?”

“That’s from my collar when the farmer ties me up.”

The wolf smiled and returned to the forest.

Where safety and security are concerned, I am like the dog. However, there is one place where I am like the wolf, and that is my writing. I write the way I write, take it or leave it. It is probably the only place where I have true freedom.

I think Cyrano de Bergerac sums it up best: “To sing, to laugh, to dream, to walk in my own way, free with an eye to see things as they are, a voice that means manhood. To cock my hat where I choose. At a word, a yes, a no, to fight or write. But never to make a line I have not heard in my own heart. To travel any road under the sun, under the stars, nor care if fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne. Yet, with all modesty to say: ‘My soul, be satisfied with flowers, with weeds, with thorns even; but gather them in the one garden you may call your own.’ “

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t think you’d find the things I read very interesting since I rarely read fiction. However, I did recently depart from that when I did a one-off review of The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes. My three favourite books are: The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, The Art of War by Sun Tzu and Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Taleb. Which one would be my must-read probably changes depending on where I am at the time. Right now, with all that is going on with COVID19, I am in an antifragile mood, so I would go with Taleb.

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Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.

In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. Here Taleb stands uncer­tainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resil­ient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls antifragile are things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.

Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world. Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: the antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.

I love to read non-fiction, as well as fiction. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Being a non-drinker is my first line of defence. (I can nurse a drink an entire evening.) I also hear that staying hydrated is the best go to cure for a hangover.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

The question reminds me of the Big Bang Theory episode “The Intimacy Acceleration” where Sheldon and Penny participate in an experiment designed to see if two people could fall in love. It involves a series of questions they ask each other that are designed to promote intimacy. One of the questions was: Describe your perfect day. It gave me pause, and I turned to Natasha, and said, (and I’m paraphrasing), “Almost everyday is a perfect day. The only thing that would make it absolutely perfect is money.” She understood that what I meant by “money” was Bill Gates, George Soros or Andrew Lloyd Webber kind of money: MONEY!

She and I are sort of a recluse couple. To quote Elton John, “Looking for an island in our boat upon the sea.” We spend most days side by side either pursuing our literary endeavour with the Terra Nova series or our non-literary endeavour.

Being Saturday, I would probably spend the morning writing then reading to Natasha. Then, I would make lunch. (Yes, I do all the cooking.) A catnap après le déjeuner then on to some serious movie watching. Around 5:00 or 6:00, we would work out for about an hour or so followed by a light supper while watching Real Time with Bill Maher, closing with some CNN. Then, to bed to bed my sleepy head.

Pretty boring, no?

Well, it’s something I promised Natasha long ago, (and I mean years not decades). It probably is best incapsulated by a line from Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd: “And at home by the fire, whenever you look up, there I shall be — and whenever I look up, there will be you.”

Not boring at all, pretty romantic! I’m a huge fan of Real Time… myself. Thank you so much for joining me on the blog and being so open and detailed in your responses, I have enjoyed it very much.

D. E. Overttun is the author of the Terra Nova series of novels which are Universe:Awakening, Genesis: Vision of the New World and Prophecy: Vision of Darkness and you can buy them by following the links.

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You can find out more about D. E. Overttun’s writing via his wife, Natasha’s Twitter account.

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Romancing The Romance Authors… with Stefania Hartley

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today I am welcoming to the blog, author Stefania Hartley, to be forensically grilled on being a writer of romance.

Welcome to the blog, Stefania. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey. 

I write contemporary romance/romantic comedy and short stories for women’s magazines. Sun, Stars and Limoncello is my first full-length novel.

Why romance?

I love reading romance and I love writing it. There’s nothing like the thrill of falling in love!

What inspires your stories?

Most of my characters are inspired by people I’ve known or met and found interesting. Once I’ve decided on my hero or heroine, I imagine who would be the last person they’d want to fall in love with, and I put them in a situation where they just can’t help it.  

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I love Helen Fielding for her amazing humour, I fell in love with Beth O’Leary’s incredibly sweet hero in The Flatshare, I enjoyed Helen Hoang’s steamy The Kiss Quotient, and I’ve just discovered Talia Hibbert with the Brown sisters series. I was swept by Elizabeth Enfield’s Ivy and Abe, and I like Sarah Morgan’s style. There are many other romance authors that I like, but I’m leaving out all the ones that I know personally, just to make sure I’m being objective.

I adored The Flatshare! (Cute fact: Helen Fielding and I went to the same school, although not at the same time. Joanne Harris also went there!) If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

This is another difficult question, because I would probably recommend Bridget Jones’s Diary, but I guess that you have already read it.  

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A dazzlingly urban satire on modern relationships?
An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family?
Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

As Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.

Welcome to Bridget’s first diary: mercilessly funny, endlessly touching and utterly addictive.

Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I would spend my perfect romantic weekend with Mr Darcy at his ‘place’, possibly frolicking in the pond while he wears the famous white shirt. 

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The RNA is a wonderful family. I have never felt so understood as in the RNA. I don’t think that family and friends can ‘get’ a writer like another writer can, because we are all a little obsessed. And nobody can understand a romance writer quite like another romance writer or a romance reader, and in the RNA we are all both things. 

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Read a lot of romance books because there is an enormous variety within the genre, and readers have specific expectations from each subcategory of romance. A tip to writers in general: develop a thick skin against rejections and arm yourself with shiploads of perseverance. 

Tell us about your latest book.

Sun, Stars and Limoncello is my first full-length novel and it is set in Sicily. You can buy a copy here.

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Sonia believes that men equal heartache and disaster. Brad has sworn never to love a woman again. It’s a pity they’re so irresistibly attracted to one another.

After her traumatic teenage years, Sonia’s teaching job would be the best thing that has happened to her if it weren’t for Brad Wilson. Her arrogant, standoffish colleague never fails to rub her the wrong way. But when she’s faced with the choice between canceling the school trip to Sicily or accepting his ungraceful help, she swallows her pride and resigns herself to spending an entire week in close quarters with him. Little does she know just how close.

A tragedy from his past still haunts Brad, and he’s sworn never to let his heart be shredded by grief again. Loving another woman is not in the cards. That’s why his petite olive-skinned colleague is so very dangerous.

What could possibly go wrong when their mutual destination is one of the most romantic places in the world?

About the Author

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Stefania Hartley, also known as The Sicilian Mama, was born in Sicily and immediately started growing, but not very much. She left her sunny island after falling head over heels in love with an Englishman, and she’s lived all over the world with him and their three children. Having finally learnt English, she enjoyed it so much that she started writing stories and nobody has been able to stop her since. She loves to write about hot and sunny places like her native Sicily, and she especially likes it when people fall in love. Her short stories have been longlisted, commended and won prizes. Sun, Stars and Limoncello is her first novel and is a contender in the Joan Hessayon Award.

Connect with Stefania:

Website: https://www.stefaniahartley.com/

Facebook: Stefania Hartley Author

Twitter: @TheSicilianMama

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Romancing The Romance Authors… with Suzanne Snow

Romancing The Romance Authors

Very excited to have my next guest on my new feature where I quiz romance authors on what inspires them. This week I am joined by author Suzanne Snow.

Welcome to the blog, Suzanne. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write contemporary romance and my books are set in rural and/or village locations. After joining the RNA two years ago, I was offered representation by Susan Yearwood Agency following the 2019 Conference and signed a 3 book deal with Canelo this year.

Why romance?

I love the expectation of following a developing relationship to an uplifting ending and a romantic or inspirational setting is a big part of the story for me. 

What inspires your stories?

Very often it’s a landscape; perhaps a walk I’ve done in a beautiful area or an old house and garden with a story to tell. Sometimes it can be character driven, when a person pops into my mind and I begin to think of their life and where that might be taking them.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I loved Jilly Cooper and Danielle Steel in the early days; now I read everything by Karen Swan for her ability to bring a setting to life and craft a love story from unexpected circumstances. Audrey Harrison for Regency and Ella Hayes for Mills and Boon are two new favourites and I’ve discovered many wonderful authors through the RNA, Kate Field and Christina Courtney being just two examples.

So many of my favourite authors mentioned there, and the odd RNA friend! If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

The Perfect Present by Karen Swan, it was the first of her books I read. I loved it for the world unfamiliar to me that she depicted and the developing love story between characters with no obvious place to go. 

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Haunted by a past she can’t escape, Laura Cunningham desires nothing more than to keep her world small and precise – her quiet relationship and growing jewellery business are all she needs to get by. Until the day when Rob Blake walks into her studio and commissions a necklace that will tell his enigmatic wife Cat’s life in charms.

As Laura interviews Cat’s family, friends and former lovers, she steps out of her world and into theirs – a charmed world where weekends are spent in Verbier and the air is lavender-scented, where friends are wild, extravagant and jealous, and a big love has to compete with grand passions.

Hearts are opened, secrets revealed and as the necklace begins to fill up with trinkets, Cat’s intoxicating life envelops Laura’s own. By the time she has to identify the final charm, Laura’s metamorphosis is almost complete. But the last story left to tell has the power to change all of their lives forever, and Laura is forced to choose between who she really is and who it is she wants to be.

Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

It would be with Frederick Wentworth from Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I like a hero who is sensitive, and I think he would view marriage as a partnership as far as he was able in those days. The perfect weekend would be spent in walking in the countryside with time to relax somewhere scenic or a city break exploring galleries and museums. I’d probably include dinner at The Old Stamp House in Ambleside as it’s one of my favourite restaurants

Oh, I love him. Writer of possibly the most romantic love letter that exists in literature! What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The community of friendship and support I’ve found in the RNA and the brilliance of Conference for learning and making friends. I’ve definitely learned a lot since joining, and the 1-2-1’s at Conference gave me both confidence in my writing and the opportunity of agency representation.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

If they’re not in the RNA, then join as soon as possible! And if they are, then do get involved via social media and absolutely go to Conference if they possibly can. The RNA offers so much in the way of teaching, community and being amongst people who love and understand what we do.

Tell us about your latest book.

The Cottage of New Beginnings is a heart-warming village love story for fans of Julie Houston, Victoria Walters and Trisha Ashley. It is out now as an ebook and you can buy it here.

The Cottage of New Beginnings Cover

One crumbling cottage. One broken heart. A chance to start over?

When Annie returns to Thorndale, the village where she spent much of her childhood, she’s looking for a new start. All she wants to do is fix up the cottage her godmother left her and fix up her broken heart.

When she clashes with local hero, Jon, Annie can’t help but wonder if coming back to Thorndale was a mistake. The village has clearly changed and the last thing she needs is more drama. But avoiding the distractingly handsome Jon is proving impossible, especially when Thorndale seems to be conspiring to throw them together…

Annie is looking for a fresh start with zero romance – but what if the only way to learn to trust again is to take a risk on love?

About the Author

Suzanne Snow Headshot Low Res

Suzanne Snow writes contemporary, romantic and uplifting fiction with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of her characters. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found in a garden or looking to the landscape around her for inspiration.

Connect with Suzanne:

Website: https://www.suzannesnowauthor.com

Facebook: Suzanne Snow Author

Twitter: @SnowProse

If you are a romance author and think you would enjoy answering this random assortment of questions about writing romance, please do get in touch and you can take part in a future instalment of Romancing The Romance Authors.

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