Friday Night Drinks with…. Lisa Hobman @LisaJHobmanAuth @Aria_Fiction #FridayNightDrinks #ASummerOfNewBeginnings

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Delighted tonight to be having Friday Night Drinks with author….Lisa Hobman.

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Welcome to the blog, Lisa and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Either a nice big glass of Shiraz or Jack Daniels and Coke. It’s hard to choose!

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?

Definitely Edinburgh. It’s my favourite city in the world and it’s only a short distance from home so nice and convenient! But the atmosphere is incredible. And the castle is lit up at night too which is so beautiful to see.

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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?

Freddy Mercury would be so interesting to talk to. I would love to chat with him in detail about his inspirations. I was heartbroken when he died, his music was and is such an inspiration for me and so many others.

 And I would be keen to chat to Emily Bronte. I absolutely LOVE Wuthering Heights and would love to get her advice on writing those gritty but loveable rogues. Heathcliff was my first experience of such a character and he fascinated me.

Second vote for Emily Bronte, recently! 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’m working in a brand new book set on the Isle of Skye. It’s a place I love to visit with scenery that takes my breath away. I tend to write about the places I’ve visited and loved, so Skye is the next location I’m taking readers to. I’m hoping it will be a three book series but I usually write stand alone stories so it’s a challenge that I’m looking forward to.

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

My proudest moment by far was when my debut novel Bridge Over the Atlantic was shortlisted in the RNA Awards. I attended the awards ceremony in London which was surreal as I was in a category with my favourite author Lisa Jewell! The book has now been renamed A Seaside Escape and republished by Aria Fiction.

I think the toughest challenge is getting the word out there about my back catalogue. I’m trying to build new connections as I go but it’s hard work. I am determined though!

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Let’s hope this helps a bit then. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

My biggest ambition at present is to see my books on the shelves in well known bookstore chains rather than solely in digital format and POD. I feel like it will happen one day. I just have to keep working hard and believing in my stories. 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

My latest story will no doubt mean a trip to Skye again in the near future so I can’t wait for that! I like to revisit places I write about to make sure the imagery in my stories is close to reality so the reader can escape there in their mind!

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 favourite place in the world is Scotland. We relocated here in 2012 and I love it even more now. Aside from this I would most like to visit Canada someday. The scenery is spectacular from the photos I have seen and it’s just the kind of place I love.

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

I’m also a singer. I used to sing professionally and have appeared on TV on a show called Stars in Their Eyes. It was way back in the 90s and I was Alanis Morissette for my performance.

And look what I found! 

 

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’?

Gosh that is a difficult one to answer! Just recently I’ve read and loved books by Lulu Taylor. Her books set in Winter are superb. But I also loved Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. It was incredibly gripping and I couldn’t put it down!

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She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl.
She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet.

But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year-old daughter.

Because his daughter is the image of Ellie.

Now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?

I have this on my TBR. 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?

Water and lots of it! If I’ve been celebrating I always tend to drink lots of water before I go to sleep and then do the same the following morning. Also I don’t drink on an empty stomach!

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

Either sitting cuddled up on the sofa, in front of the roaring log burner, with my family, dogs and a good book. Or if they were all busy I would be at the desk in my writing den getting some words down but wearing my PJs and fluffy slipper boots of course!

 

Awww, your doggies are so cute! Lisa, thank you for joining me, it has been an absolute delight.
Lisa’s latest book, A Summer of New Beginnings,is out now and you can buy a copy here.
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Meet Zara Bailey, a travel writer paid to cover some of the globe’s most luxurious locations. Jetting from wooden huts on stilts in turquoise seas to boutique hotels with roaring fires to 7* penthouse suites with panoramic views of the world’s most glamorous cities… Zara knows hers is the definition of a dream job!

So she is seriously shocked to receive her next assignment; Scotland’s Northcoast 500 route. By bicycle. Sleeping in a tent so basic it can’t remotely be dressed up as glamping!

But this could be just the distraction the recently heartbroken Zara needs. No men, no romance, just the breathtakingly rugged Highland scenery. Until she meets croft owner Lachlan Grant, and his black and white Border Collie Bess, that is…

 

Lisa is happily married mum with two energetic dogs and a thing for men with tattoos! In May 2012 she relocated from Yorkshire to her favourite place in the world, Scotland. The time since then has been a rollercoaster!

She loves writing, singing and is very passionate about music. Her tastes are quite eclectic.

Her debut novel Bridge Over the Atlantic was shortlisted in the 2014 RoNA awards and she has written many more since! In 2017, she signed to Aria Fiction and is loving working with them!

To discover more about Lisa, check out her website or find her on Facebook  and Twitter.

Next week I am having drinks with awarding-winning blogger and great friend, Kaisha Holloway from The Writing Garnet, so I know you will want to come back and join us then.

 

Friday Night Drinks with…. Kate Field @katehaswords @AvonBooksUK @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #TheManIFellInLoveWith

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Tonight on Friday Night Drinks, I am delighted to be joined by fellow RNA member, award-winning romance author, and all-round gorgeous lady…..Kate Field.

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Hi Kate, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. Sorry we aren’t meeting IRL this time, but my virtual bar is quite cosy. First things first, what are you drinking?

It would have to be a glass of red wine – perhaps a Californian red. I’m from Lancashire – it’s rarely warm enough to make a chilled white wine desirable!

The wrong side of the Pennines but I’ll let you off! 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?

I love a cosy, country pub with roaring fires and comfy seats. One of my favourites is The Aspinall Arms in Mitton, in the heart of the Ribble Valley, so I think I’d take you there. It has a gorgeous garden overlooking the river, just in case we’re lucky with the weather!

That does look nice, I might be tempted to venture in to enemy territory to visit! 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?

I’ll have to pick Kenneth Branagh for our male guest. I’ve loved him since I was a teenager and saw him play Hamlet – it was a mesmerising performance. Every time I see him being interviewed, he has wonderful stories to tell, and he seems genuinely interested in listening to other people too. My female choice would be Miriam Margolyes. She tells hilarious and irreverent stories, and I don’t think we’d stop laughing all night.

Ooh, good choices. I absolutely love Kenneth Branagh. He was so good as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice & Benedick are my favourite Shakespearean couple.) I have a feeling Miriam is barking mad so it would definitely be a fun evening.

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?

Last year, I collaborated with a group of author friends on a collection of short stories called Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings. We’re planning to publish another Miss Moonshine anthology this year, with a Christmas theme, so I’m writing that story at the moment while I’m waiting for the edits on my next novel.

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

My proudest moment has to be when my first novel, The Magic of Ramblings, won the Joan Hessayon Award for new writers. It was a huge surprise, as anyone who saw the photo of my shocked face will know! I completely failed to capitalise on the win, though, as I’m too modest to ever mention it, unless I’m asked a question like this. It feels so bigheaded to say ‘award-winning author’! As you’ll gather from that, promotion is my biggest challenge!

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It’s okay, I’ll do it for you. I’ve already mentioned that Kate is an award-winning author. Her winning book, The Magic of Ramblings is one of my favourite novels of recent years and you can read my glowing review of it here. I’ve been a huge fan of her writing since I picked this book up. 

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

Well, between us, Sunday Times bestseller has a good ring to it, doesn’t it?! Back in the real world, my latest book, The Man I Fell In Love With, recently had an orange bestseller flag on Amazon for about 48 hours and that felt like a huge achievement!

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

The edits for my second book with Avon are due this week, so I’m looking forward to going back to that. I’m quite anxious too, as we didn’t discuss the idea before I started writing it, and I’ve had no feedback so far, so I hope the editor thinks the book has potential! It’s a story about archeology, kindness, and a couple who meet again seventeen years after the man abandoned the woman at the worst moment of her life. It’s exciting to see how the finished book will end up!

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?

Many years ago, we spent a couple of weeks visiting Florence, Venice and Rome and it still ranks as one of my favourite holidays. I’d love to go back. It’s not very exotic, but visiting the Isles of Scilly is high on my bucket list. There’s something fascinating and romantic about island life.

The Isles of Scilly are also on my bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

The first Valentine’s Day card I ever sent was to a boy called Simon in primary school. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise they were supposed to be anonymous. Simon then sent my card to another girl, crossing out our names and adding hers instead. You will never find a romantic hero called Simon in one of my books!

Oh, that’s a sad story! 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’?

You may have read this one already, as I’m late in discovering it, but I recently read The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and loved it. It’s gorgeously written, has given me a new perspective on homelessness, and has inspired me to walk the South West coastal path one day. I think I’ll give sleeping in a tent a miss though!

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Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.

Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.

The Salt Path is an honest and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.

I have a copy of this but haven’t got round to it yet. 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?

The memory of some terrible hangovers in the past is my safeguard! I’m boringly sensible and have learnt when to stop and never to mix drinks!

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

A long walk in the countryside, a pub lunch and then spending the rest of the day with a good book. If only every day could be like that!

Kate, thank you for joining me, as it has been as much of a delight as seeing you in the flesh. I wish you great success with the book and look forward to catching up with you at an RNA event soon.

Kate’s new book, The Man I Fell in Love With, is out now. You can buy a copy here and I can’t wait to read it.

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Sometimes we find happiness where we least expect it…

After twenty years of contented marriage, no one is more surprised than Mary Black when her husband announces he’s leaving her… for another man.

For the sake of the children, Mary has no choice but to pick herself up and start again. She hosts family meals that include Leo and his new partner. She copes with the kids wanting to spend less time with her and more time with their ‘fun’ dads. But one thing she can’t quite ignore is Leo’s gorgeous brother, who has just come back to town…

After living a life of sliding doors and missed opportunities, can Mary finally put herself first and take a chance that could change everything?

Please do check out my review of Kate’s marvellous book, The Magic of Ramblings, and you can also find my review of Kate’s last book, The Winter That Made Ushere. (Can you tell I am a fan?)

To find out more about Kate, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Lorna Cook @LornaCookAuthor @AvonBooksUK @RNATweets @Becky_Ritchie1 #FridayNightDrinks #TheForgottenVillage

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I am so thrilled to be joined for Friday Night Drinks this evening by fellow RNA member and soon-to-be debut author…Lorna Cook.

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Welcome to the blog, Lorna, I am so happy you are joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Wine! Pinot Grigio Blush (if we’re being specific!)

One of my favourites, let’s get a bottle. 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?

Great question! Somewhere cosy. A gastro pub, roaring fire, good wine and piles of comfort food. There’s a great place relatively near me in the antiques-haven of Battlesbridge. It’s called The Hawk. I’d take you there. 

That does look lovely, just my kind of place. 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?

Jane Austen. It would be great to explore whether or not she’d have a dirty sense of humour. I suspect she would. Stephen Fry. He’d keep the conversation going if there was a dry spell.

That is a first appearance for Jane Austen, which is quite surprising but Mr Fry is a very popular nominee. 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?

At the moment I’m staring into the abyss of launching my debut novel The Forgotten Village. It’s exciting but mainly it’s just plain frightening. 

I can quite understand the mixed feelings but I am sure it will be a fabulous day. I already have my copy on pre-order! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was all down to my lovely agent Becky Ritchie. She worked her agent magic and rustled up a two-book paperback deal with a UK publisher (Avon) and a few translation deals all in the space of a few weeks. 

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

Hmmm, we’re British so we aren’t very good at being ambitious! I’d love to just keep writing but to keep learning and bettering my craft as I go. As long as I can keep writing novels and people want to read them that’s as ambitious as I’d ever dare to be!

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m writing book three at the moment, which is set in Scotland during World War 2. I’m VERY excited about it because I’m currently planning the twists and turns and am itching to write all the revelatory scenes before I write the rest of the book. 

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?

When writing The Forgotten Village, I discovered the beauty that is Dorset. The novel is set in the requisitioned village of Tyneham and so I went on a ‘research trip,’ ahem, holiday. It was my first time in the county. I’ll confess to having always been a Cornwall girl at heart and I still love Cornwall but discovering Dorset, and the almost Caribbean beauty of the water at Lulworth Cove was a game changer. On my bucket list is the Northern Lights, but hardly anyone I know whose been has actually seen the lights so I’ve not risked it yet. 

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

I have signed the Official Secrets Act. 

Oh, come on, that is too much of a teaser! If I ever track you down at an RNA event, you will have to elaborate! 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’?

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. It’s beautiful and gut-wrenchingly sad but still the most wonderful read. I recommend this to everyone. I should be on commission. 

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1943, in the ruins of Blitzed London…
Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski meet by chance and fall in love by accident. Theirs is a reluctant, unstoppable affair in which all the odds are stacked against them: she is newly married, and he is an American bomber pilot whose chance of survival is just one in five.
… He promised to love her forever
Seventy years later Dan makes one final attempt to find the girl he has never forgotten, and sends a letter to the house where they shared a brief yet perfect happiness. But Stella has gone, and the letter is opened by Jess, a young girl hiding from problems of her own. And as Jess reads Dan’s words, she is captivated by the story of a love affair that burned so bright and dimmed too soon. Can she help Dan find Stella before it is too late?
Now forever is finally running out.

That does sound good, I will add it to the teetering TBR. 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?

I don’t have a failsafe plan to avoid a hangover (unless stopping drinking early is allowed). If anyone knows a magical method for hangover avoidance that doesn’t involve stopping drinking early then tell me immediately. 

The next day, however, the only thing that works for me is sleep. The mother of all lay-ins means avoiding the issue.

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

I have two small children so I’m often running around, laundering school uniform, planning dinners or running children to playdates. But my dream weekend would involve none of that. I would curl up in front of the TV and read trashy magazines and the Sunday supplements. Someone would cook me a roast dinner and then I’d get my PJs on early, head to bed and read a fabulous novel!

Lorna, it has been an absolute delight to have you on the blog, thank you so much for taking the time. I wish you huge success with the novel, I cannot wait to read it.

Lorna’s debut novel, The Forgotten Village is out on Thursday 4 April and you can pre-order your copy here. I will be reviewing it at a future date on the blog, so watch out for that.

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1943: The world is at war, and the villagers of Tyneham are being asked to make one more sacrifice: to give their homes over to the British army. But on the eve of their departure, a terrible act will cause three of them to disappear forever.

2018: Melissa had hoped a break on the coast of Dorset would rekindle her stagnant relationship, but despite the idyllic scenery, it’s pushing her and Liam to the brink. When Melissa discovers a strange photograph of a woman who once lived in the forgotten local village of Tyneham, she becomes determined to find out more about her story. But Tyneham hides a terrible secret, and Melissa’s search for the truth will change her life in ways she never imagined possible.

Lorna Cook writes dual-timeline stories that blend secrets of the past with the present.

Her first novel, The Forgotten Village, is set in the real village of Tyneham in Dorset, requisitioned in entirety in World War Two and never returned. The story moves between 1943 and present day as secrets about what happened on requisition day are finally revealed.

Lorna lives by the sea with her husband, two small daughters and a demanding dog called Socks.

To find out more about Lorna and her writing, you can visit her website or find her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Next week I will be joined on for Friday Night Drinks by another RNA member and one of my favourite authors, Kate Field, as we celebrate the paperback publication of her latest book, so please come and join us.

Friday Night Drinks with….Jamie Paradise @JamieParadise @unbounders #FridayNightDrinks #NightTimeCool

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Tonight I am delighted to be joined for Friday Night Drinks by a new author, whose debut novel I reviewed on the blog earlier this year and found original and impactful. Welcome to the blog…Jamie Paradise.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Jamie. First things first, what are you drinking?

A couple of Asahis, then some nice red wine.

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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?

Ibiza or East London

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I think I’ll go with the first one, I’m ready for a holiday! 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?

Charles Bukowksi and Emily Bronte

Wouldn’t that be a fascinating mix! 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 just signed with a brilliant literary agent for my next novel and beyond – a long-term relationship.

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

Having my debut novel, Night Time Cool, published and the brill reviews it has received in The Observer, Mail On Sunday and Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast. Biggest challenge was 20 years of trying to elevate my writing, followed by landing an agent (see above). 

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

Booker Prize, then Nobel Prize for Literature

Hey, if you’re gonna go, go big! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

The novel I mention – a love affair – think True Romance.

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?

India is amazing have been there three times, but LA is beyond anywhere I’ve been and I’m lucky enough to have seen much of the world. LA is so vivid.

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

I aim to be the Picasso of Fiction

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’?

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

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An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

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?

Eat a nice fat doner kebab with chips, then get up early and do my daily 9K run.

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

More drinks and nice food of course!

Jamie, thank you so much for joining me, it’s been great getting to know you better and I look forward to reading your next book.

Jamie’s debut novel, Night Time Cool is out now and you can buy a copy here. If you would like to read my review of the book, you can find it here.

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Bent Met police detective DI Frederick Street rules as the Sheriff of Shoreditch who loves shaking down the street goons he arrests. Elvis Street is the son who cannot stand his father for being the balls-out crook he caught in bed with his girl. Elvis wants to take Frederick down and end him forever. Neither father or son realises how much the other understands what controls them. Neither father or son will ever back down. Night Time Cool is the story of why?

Jamie Paradise writes all his stuff in a darkened mansion filled with the cadavers of ancestors

The Observer says of Night Time Cool: “Paradise conveys the sheer thrill of partying beautifully; he writes of a piece of music that: ‘It wailed, it reprised, it was a choral hymn a kaleidoscopic, sensate burst of everything right now…'”

Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast: “Like John Niven, Jake Arnott – I really enjoyed it – very much worth your time.”

Mail on Sunday: “A punchy streetwise caper, packed with memorable characters.”

Connect with Jamie:

Twitter: @JamieParadise_

Instagram: @jamieparadise_

Next week I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by author Lynda Renham, so please do come back then.

 

Friday Night Drinks with….Jane Lacey-Crane @JaneLaceyCrane @AriaFiction @HoZ_Books @RNAtweets #FridayNightDrinks

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Delighted to be joined tonight for Friday Night Drinks by my fellow RNA member and someone I have been lucky enough to meet IRL (She’s lovely!), author Jane Lacey-Crane.

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Hi Jane, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks for the invite – I don’t get out much these days! Mine’s a large gin and tonic, then I’ll probably move on to a nice glass (or two!) of Prosecco.

Perfect! 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?

Probably to the cinema – I love going to the movies – and then out for late night doughnut! There’s a drive thru Krispy Kreme not far from where I live, with a drive thru Starbucks next door. Perfect!

Great evening. 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?

I would love to go out for the evening with Stephen Fry – I think the man is a gentleman and a genius. I’ve met him before – when I was working for Waterstones in Central London – and he was such an entertaining man. And so genuine. As for our female companion – I think I’d have to invite Victoria Wood. She was such a brilliant writer and performer, and she wrote some of the best female characters on TV. A legend – and gone far too soon. 

Victoria Wood would also be my choice for this question. 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’m currently working on my third book for Aria Fiction; it’s a contemporary romance that takes me right back to my roots in East London, just like my first book Secrets and Tea at Rosie Lee’s did. It’s an area that’s very close to my heart and I love writing about the location and the people. I get to draw on my memories of growing up in East London, surrounded by family that made their livings working in the markets of East London. 

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

My proudest moment was probably getting my first contract with Aria. I submitted through their website submissions portal and was blown away when my editor got in touch and told me that she wanted to offer me a three-book contract! After years of waiting, and almost giving up a few times, to hear that news was mind-blowing. 

My biggest challenge came straight after – writing the second book! It was torturous – I lost all confidence in my abilities and was convinced that I obviously only had one book in me, and I’d got nothing else worthwhile to say! Thankfully, my editor was very supportive and encouraging and talked me down off the ledge!   

So interesting and encouraging to read about your writing journey. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I think I want what most writers want – I want to carry on writing, and I want as many people as possible to read my writing! But since you asked – I’d also like my books to sell millions of copies and be turned into Netflix movies. I’d love to write a screenplay. Oh, and I want to be asked to star in one of the films as well. And win an Oscar for my performance or my screenplay. Either would be fine – I’m not fussy. It’s always been my secret ambition to be an actor too. You did say I could be as ambitious as I liked, didn’t you?   

Aim high! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

The book I’m currently working on is keeping me very busy and I’m excited about where that’s going to take me. I have a rough idea of plot, but these things have a habit of changing – depending on where the characters want to take me. I’m also working on a website, which is exciting but daunting since I’m not very technical, so I have only the vaguest idea of what I’m doing! I’m hoping to be able to start a blog on the site so I can bore people with more of my inane witterings on a range of subjects and I’m also going to be putting some of my short stories on there for people to enjoy.  

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 in the world has to be New York – I love it there so much. That’s the reason I chose to set a large part of my second book there. I’ve been there twice and I’m going again in a few months to visit my sister, who currently lives there. I’d love to travel all over the US in a camper van if I could. Maybe one day – when the kids are grown. 

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It is also my plan to do a huge USA road trip when my kids have left home! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

One thing that people might not know about me is that I once dressed up as a six-foot bunny rabbit in a leopard print bikini and tried to crash Prince Charles’ birthday party at Clarence House. Make of that what you will! 

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Okaaay. Lol. 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’?

Oh blimey, that’s tough one. I read a lot – obviously! – and my tastes are very varied. I would say, if you’ve never read any of Nora Roberts standalone romantic suspense novels then you’re missing out on a masterclass. The Search is one of my favorites. Also, there’s a book called Folly by Laurie R.King which is a really gripping read. It’s about a woman who takes herself off to an island to build a folly, all by herself, but there’s a sinister presence watching her every move. I read that book years and years ago but it’s stayed with me. 

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WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR WORST FEARS AREN’T ALL IN YOUR MIND?

Rae Newborn is a woman on the edge: on the edge of sanity, on the edge of tragedy, and now on the edge of the world. She has moved to an island at the far reaches of the continent to restore the house of an equally haunted figure, her mysterious great-uncle; but as her life begins to rebuild itself along with the house, his story starts to wrap around hers. Powerful forces are stirring, but Rae cannot see where her reality leaves off and his fate begins.

Fifty-two years old, Rae must battle the feelings that have long tormented her–panic, melancholy, and a skin-crawling sense of watchers behind the trees. Before she came here, she believed that most of the things she feared existed only in her mind. And who can say, as disturbing incidents multiply, if any of the watchers on Folly Island might be real? Is Rae paranoid, as her family and the police believe, or is the threat real? Is the island alive with promise–or with dangers?

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?

A pint of water and 3 Ibuprofen as soon as I get home and then two cans of Coke Zero in the morning. Usually sorts me right out. When you have kids, you can’t afford to have a hangover!

Ain’t that the truth! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Drinking tea in bed, watching Cary Grant movies, and eating masses of toast and chocolate digestives. 

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Jane, thank you for joining me this evening, it has been wonderful and I hope to catch up with you at an RNA event soon.

Jane’s second book, The City of Second Chances is out now and you can get a copy here. If you would like to read my review of the book, you can find it here.

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Has she already met The One? What if Mr Right had come along at the wrong time…?

Evie Grant is forty-five years old, a widow, and single mum of two children about to leave the nest. Suddenly alone in the family home, Evie realizes she hates her job, hardly goes out and hasn’t had a date since who knows when…

So it feels like fate when the opportunity arises for a girls trip to New York City. Staying with her sister on the Upper East Side, Evie is enchanted by a snow-covered city consumed by preparing for Christmas.

Bobble hat firmly on, Evie is walking through the city one day when she bumps into Daniel Roberts, Hollywood heartthrob and one-time boyfriend of hers.

It’s now or never for Evie – but she open her heart to the possibility of a new beginnings and true happiness once again…?

Born in London, Jane’s writing career began in cable TV, writing true crime documentaries. More recently, Jane has contributed to an anthology of short stories and written two weekly crime serials. When she’s not writing, Jane loves to read good books, binge watch TV boxsets and drink tea. And wine. 

If you would like to learn more about Jane and her writing, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next week I am having Friday Night Drinks with author and sports journalist, Jamie Paradise, so come back then.

Friday Night Drinks with….Zoe from Zooloo’s Book Diary @zooloo2008 @JonathanJanz @JuliaIbbotson #FridayNightDrinks #GuestPost #ZooloosBookDiary #BookBlogger #BloggerLove

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Thrilled to be welcome to Friday Night Drinks this evening one of my favourite people in the book blogging world, and someone who gets even more excited by books than I do (if that’s possible) …. Zoe from the wonderful Zooloo’s Book Diary blog.

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Zoe, welcome to my blog and thank you for joining me for Friday Night Drinks this evening. I can see you are all dressed up and ready to party, so let’s get the night underway! What are you drinking?

Ooh, well normally I would be enjoying a nice cold beer, mainly Budweiser. Otherwise, if we fancied some cocktails, then I have recently discovered a love for Pornstar Martinis. Eek!

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I love a Pornstar Martini, so I will join you if you don’t mind. 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 if I was still living at home, we would probably be going for a nice curry in a restaurant called Shapla, it is my favuorite curry house in Watford, yum! Man, now I want a curry!!

A woman after my own heart. 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?

Well, everyone who knows me, knows I absolutely love Arnold Schwarzenegger, I am fascinated with his muscles, story! I love to know all about filming Terminator and his films, and I could just listen to him talk all day.  Shallow I know.

Female, well there are quite a few female actresses I adore, so probably someone like Nicole Kidman or Sandra Bullock. 

I have a bit of a girl crush on Sandra Bullock, so let’s definitely bring her with us! 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?

So, at the moment, it’s all quite quiet on my front. I am just trying to juggle working full time, looking after my spitfire of a 5-year-old lady, and reading all while the boy is away with the army! I love to sit back and watch a film whilst doing my sewing when relaxing (this is an old picture of what I am currently doing). Once my reading has calmed down, I have been “badgered” by two bloggers to get a book written, catching up with my pen pal, who in turn I am doing some beta reading for. So its just a bit hectic!!

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We obviously have similar hobbies, as I do tapestry to relax, and I’m trying to write a book. I would love to hear more about that! What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

I have had a few proud moments, one of was being shortlisted for Best Newcomer in the bloggers awards last year, I did not win, but the fact I was shortlisted was huge! Plus being able to call a couple of authors, friends which is amazing, just having a reaction on Twitter or Facebook has been epic, I mean someone wants to talk to little ole me!

Biggest challenge has been not saying no! Having a panic with reading and then trying to make sure my reviews make some sense! The best compliments I have received on reviews are ones where I have just brain dumped with out any structure!!!

I know that feeling well, lol! What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

Erm…..I don’t know! I don’t know what I could achieve! Lol 

I think you could achieve anything you set your mind to! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I have been doing some buddy reading recently, it started out just two of us and now we have 10 in our Goodreads group, which is opened to anyone. We call ourselves NetGalley Anonymous as we all have way too many to clear from our shelves. I love the fact they don’t mind me constantly brain dumping on them as I read!! lol

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?

On my bucket list is to visit Vegas, but so I can see Tom Jones in residency as every time I have seen him in concert he has never failed to deliver! I also want to visit Texas. And the last one is Greece, to Athens. I am obsessed with Greek Mythology so I would love to do a trip through the sites. 

Places I have visited, well Disneyland for obvious reasons! But I have done a lot of skiing in Europe, there is nothing more peaceful that sitting up the top of a mountain in the silence taking the sights in! 

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I’m off to Vegas next month for The Irishman’s fiftieth birthday trip so watch out on the blog for some reports on that! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Well I am not that interesting lol, Zooloo is my nickname, hence the blog name. I also have the nickname Pocket Rocket from my old Netball team as for only being 5ft, I was often found all over the court making a nuisance of myself.

We shorties rule the world! 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 depends which genre we are going to go for! But one series I have devoured recently, and I am cheating because it is three books, but it is The Drumbeats Trilogy by Julia Ibbotson – these were breathtaking stories. In my favourite genre, horror, then The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz, just don’t read in the dark – you have been warned lol 

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When David Caine, a celebrated skeptic of the supernatural, is invited by an old friend to spend a month in “the most haunted house in Virginia,” he believes the case will be like any other. But the Alexander House is different.  
Built by a 1700s land baron to contain the madness and depravity of his eldest son, the house is plagued by shadows of the past and the lingering taint of bloodshed. David is haunted, as well. For twenty-two years ago, he turned away the woman he loved, and she took her life in sorrow. 
And David suspects she’s followed him to the Alexander House.

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?

I have not found yet, any suggestions? Someone suggested rehydration sachets so I have one of them before I go to bed and when I wake up and then a curry!!

Curry for breakfast? Not tried that one yet! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Well after all our fun that we have had! I would probably chill out on the sofa with a good film and a cuppa! 

Zoe, thank you so much for joining me, it has been just as much fun as I knew it would be. One of these days we will catch up IRL on the book blogging circuit.

Make sure you check out Zoe’s lovely blog, Zooloo’s Book Diary, which is just as fun, bubbly and upbeat as she is here. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Next week I will be joined by author and fellow RNA member, Jane Lacey-Crane so come back then and join us.

Friday Night Drinks with….Dave Philpott @DerekPhilpott @Unbounders #FridayNightDrinks #DearMrPopStar

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It’s that time of the week again and this week I have a change to my scheduled guest. I’m really pleased that I have been able to bump this drinking companion forward a few weeks, as I have a sneaky feeling that this might be a Friday Night Drinks to remember. So, I’m delighted to welcome to the blog this week author (or half of one at least, as he writes with his dad, and one gets the impression that the author thing kind of happened by default, jammy bugger. Not that I am at all bitter and envious, on no…but anyway, delighted to have him on of course)….Dave Philpott.

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Dave, welcome to the blog and thank you for agreeing to have drink with me at such short notice. First things first, what are you drinking?

Well it’s early, so diet cola please. I do like 70s beer though, and find it amusing that before the advent of rave music one could enter a pub and demand a ‘Worthington E’ with no fear of arrest.

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You can’t possibly be old enough to have been drinking beer in the 70s, so you obviously love a retro vibe. A bit like me when I reminisce about the Diamond White and Castaways of my misspent youth. 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?

I live in Salisbury so probably a little drive up to Stonehenge. They still haven’t finished it though, so don’t expect much. They did make a start but then said they had another little job 14 miles away in Avebury but would be back next week. That was 5,000 years ago. Typical builders. Then to Carwardine’s in Salisbury for wine or coffee. Us, not the builders..they’ve had their break.

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That looks lovely, but I have to say that diet coke and coffees are at odds with the rock ‘n’ roll mood I was expecting this evening. 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?

Gene Hackman and Polly Styrene. Or Paul Daniels and the lovely Alan, sorry, Debbie McGee.

Okay, that’s more like it. Well, the first two at least. Unless you know something about Paul and Debbie that the rest of us don’t? 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?

Alongside father, I am currently working on our third and last book of deliberately demented letters to pop stars with genuine in-on-joke replies.. This last book will be directed at 90s Brit Artists only, and will have a significant charity element.

We started doing this in 2008 – just writing insane letters to pop and rock icons about their songs, and sticking them on a website, thinking that that was funny enough. Then in 2010 we started to get replies.. We want it, like us, to go on and on and on..three demented volumes into infinity.

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

A packed book launch at The Dublin Castle with the artists actually there, actually reading their replies out. Bonkers.

All of our replies are secured through our ’Facebook army’, a legion of dedicated roadies, gardeners at rock stars’ country houses, friends of bass players and so on, that link us straight to the artists through the backdoor of the industry so that we can bypass management and gatekeepers. The biggest challenge is doing our utmost to keep official channels out of it…99 times out of 100, they’ll put the kibosh on it.

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

We’ve already achieved the impossible. Two very successful books whereby we broke rules that we didn’t know were there and gently cajoled hundreds of stars into entering our mad little world.

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

A lovely lasagne. Should be ready by 6.

Yum, can I have some? 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 favourite place is probably Alton Barnes, all around that way, where the crop circles used to pop up (or pop down) and still do although not as regularly. I also adore San Francisco. My favourite place to visit that I haven’t been to would probably have to be Nando’s without a queue.

How about a Nandos in San Francisco, two birds, one stone! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

In 1962, my uncle was the first lead singer in a band alongside Pete Townshend, ​John Entwistle and Roger Daltrey. I have no idea what became of them.

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I really hope this comes up as a question in the next pub quiz I enter, then my blogging will not have entirely been a waste of time. 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’?

Delete This At Your Peril by Neil Forsyth

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This is an hilarious collection of email exchanges starring the anti-hero of spam, Bob Servant, now republished with previously unreleased material. Spam is the plague of the electronic age, comprising 90% of all emails sent and conning over 0150m a year from British victims. Into this wave of corruption steps the brave figure of Bob Servant – a former window cleaner and cheeseburger magnate with a love of wine, women and song as well as a keen sense of fair play. This wickedly funny and original book features the anarchic exchanges between Bob and the hapless spam merchants. As they offer Bob lost African millions, Russian brides and get-rich-quick scams he responds by generously offering some outlandish schemes of his own. The spammers may have breached his firewall, but they have met their match as Bob Servant rises heroically to the challenge, and sows confusion in his wake.

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?

A pint of water before bed, and a tomato juice with Worcester Sauce if that doesn’t work.

Tomato juice is a big no-no. Ick. First thing in the morning? I just couldn’t, not even to cure a hangover. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Walking an Irish Setter (as opposed to Irish Settler – no-one wants to see Ronan Keating on a lead) around Avebury, then binge-watching a fresh season of Patriot, with pistachios and a nice Party Seven.

That sounds fun. I don’t have an Irish Setter, just a cocker spaniel. Oddly, I do have an Irish Settler at home, so it would be easier for me to do the second. It’s not Ronan Keating, though, and he may baulk a little at the lead (outside of the house, anyway) but I could give it a try.

Thank you so much for joining me this evening, Dave, it has been fun, if a tiny bit surreal at times. I can’t wait to read the book now though, especially as I thought I was the only person left who remembers Jesus Jones (saw them live at Leicester Uni, 1992 – great show.)

The latest book by Dave, and his dad, Derek, Dear Mr Pop Star, is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs.

But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back…

Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

Derek and Dave Philpott are the nom de plumes of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a small family and, crucially, a worldwide social networking community. Neither they, or anybody assisting with the creative aspects of this project had any connections with the music, entertainment, media or publishing industries whatsoever at the time of its commencement. Despite these humble origins, however, they now find themselves in the bizarre but enviable position whereby many pop stars and people within these circles are their friends “in real life’” (whatever that means!). Many artists consider “getting a Dereking” as a badge of honour, and, as one has participant succinctly put it.

Connect with the Philpotts on social media:

Facebook: The Philpotts

Twitter: @DerekPhilpott

Next week I am having drink with my gorgeous blogging friend, Zoe, from Zooloo’s Book Diary, Can’t wait.