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.

Calling Authors, Bloggers, Tour Organisers, Publishers, Agents…Uncle Tom Cobley and All! #booklove #FridayNightDrinks #5W1H

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Dear friends of the bookish world, just a quick call out to let you know that I am looking for willing ̶v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶s̶ participants to feature on my blog on either of my guest post items from dates in April onwards. Both of these features give contributors the chance to reveal a little about themselves and their work to my readers, and hopefully allow us to get to know each other a bit better and all learn something fun and/or informative.

Yes, I want YOU! Yes, you at the back, I’m talking to you as well. No point hiding, I can see you!

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The first feature you will be familiar with if you read my blog regularly, as I have been running it for six months now and it has proven very popular. It is called Friday Night Drinks and you can see the previous ones I have done here. As you will see, it is a fun, chatty format that covers a lot of random topics and, as I am quite nosy, it is not for the shy and retiring amongst you, time to let it all hang out! This is open to anyone connected in any way to publishing and I have dates available from the end of May onwards.

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If this sounds a little frivolous and intrusive, I have a new feature starting at the end of March called 5W1H, which is a more serious and focuses on the process and craft of writing.

The new feature is aimed primarily at authors and is based on the What, Where, Why, When, Who and How question format (hence the name). I’ve got lists of questions about the writing process each starting with one of those six words, and the guest will get a random selection of one from each category to answer about their writing. So its six questions about your work and your writing process, plus a chance to showcase your latest project. I’m hoping I, and my readers, will pick up some fascinating and helpful insights and tips from some of the great writers out there. I have slots open on this from mid-April onwards and it is not fixed to any particular day of the week so I am happy to tie it in with publication days or other events you have going on.

So please, step up and let me know if you are interested in taking part. Please. Pretty please.

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In all seriousness, I love getting to know others in the publishing world and gently probing (not in an invasive way) them to discover more about their work, so I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Come over, the door is open and I’ve got the kettle on…

Friday Night Drinks with….Stephanie Bretherton @BrethertonWords @Unbounders #FridayNightDrinks #BoneLines

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Tonight on Friday Night Drinks, I am delighted to welcome the author of one of the most original and fascinating books I read last year, Bone LinesThank you for joining me… Stephanie Bretherton.

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First things first, what are you drinking?

There’s nothing like a beer to end the week, really, is there? It somehow says, ‘job done, take a break.’ (Mind you, this particular Pavlovian response may come from having lived in hot climates.) But my excuse (to my waistline) is that beer is actually medicine – in moderation. No, honestly. An old doctor friend of my mum’s told her so, so it must be true. And hops, I mean, they’re a traditional herbal remedy right, aren’t they? For something. 

Sounds a plausible reason for a beer, so why not? 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 am always rather partial to a venue with a view. So if we were coastal it would be a beach bar, but if London, then somewhere atop one of the tall buildings. The Shard, maybe, if I was feeling flush. Otherwise, a cosy and characterful local boozer. But wherever it was, there would have to be comfy chairs. Seriously. At a certain point in life, the most mundane things become priorities. 

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, I would have said Charles Darwin (my doctor character writes to him in Bone Lines) but I’m not sure he was much of a drinker? I mean, if you’re on a night out then you want to be having a let-your-hair-down-all-out laugh, no? Another great (sadly, also dead) hero is David Bowie, but here I think some alcohol-fuelled resurrection might actually be in order. The universe hasn’t been quite right without him, has it? I know I ought to be naming literary heroines, but I’m still on the ‘having a laugh thing’ and I have no idea what Margaret Atwood’s sense of humour (or drinking stamina) is like, so can I choose a double act to count as the other guest? How about French and Saunders? 

I think we might have ourselves a party here! 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 launched Bone Lines in September last year, so I am still on the debut-author thrill ride. But this particular journey began over eight years ago – yup, that’s eight years of writing at weekends while running my own communications business. I’m still in the midst of the post-publication whirlwind, though I did give myself an extended brain rest over the Christmas period, so I hope to get back to writing soon. I’ve already had a few questions from readers about when book 2 will be out, so I need to get cracking. I have always worked with words one way or another, and while writing commercially feeds the body, it’s writing fiction that feeds the soul. 

In terms of where I’d like it all to go, I’d love to be able to survive on writing fiction, and to spend more time writing in Cornwall, but that’s something of a fantasy in today’s market. Unless some Hollywood bigwig wants to make a movie or mini-series out of Bone Lines, or one of my short stories? If anyone knows George Clooney or Brad Pitt or Leo di Caprio do me a favour and chuck them a copy would you? There’s no juicy part for any of them in the book, but they can make things happen, you know. (That’s my excuse.) There is a part for Cate Blanchett, however. Or Emily Blunt. And a killer part for a young up-and-coming actress of colour, playing the 74,000 year-old, kick-ass ancestor to humanity.

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

Probably the launch party for Bone Lines. I had it in a bar and they’d double-booked a noisy quiz night in an adjoining area, which is funny now but wasn’t so much at the time. Nevertheless, being surrounded by good friends, colleagues and family to celebrate a major life goal – and to hear your publisher and commissioning editor say such lovely things about you, and your work – it was pretty damn special. Getting an amazing blurb for the book from a literary hero such as Lindsay Clarke, was also mind-blowing. I jumped up and down like a six year old when that came in. 

My biggest challenge has been finding the time and headspace to write and keep pursuing a dream while also running a demanding business – and maintaining enough faith, determination and energy to get the book published. In some ways, the writing is the easy part as you are doing what you love. Everything else is graft. 

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!

To have enough readers who enjoy my work to encourage me to keep writing and to have enough people get something of worth from it. You don’t write a book for the people who will hate it (and there will always be someone who hates a piece of creative work, no matter what) you write it for the people who will love it, and get it – especially some of the deeper stuff that you have woven through like a trail of crumbs for the like-minded. There’s nothing better than when you know your work has really meant something to someone. 

Of course, we’d all love to have a Sunday Times bestseller and win prizes and see movies made etc, but that’s the holy grail, and it’s the quest itself that really matters, not the final prize. Though actually there’s one mad idea that would send my gratitude into hyperdrive – to have my book included in some kind of library of works that ‘say something’ about humanity, that then gets sent out into space, on something like Voyager. Or buried in a time capsule on the Moon. Pure fantasy of course, but, hey, I am not a fiction writer for nothing.

No one else has said they would like to have their work buried in a time capsule on the Moon so bonus points for imagination and ambition there. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I learned so much from the process of editing Bone Lines, so I am currently having a major re-think about the first draft of book 2 in The Children of Sarah series, which I started well before I knew that book 1 would be published – so I am mostly note-taking and brainstorming at the moment, but some fun ideas are forming, and that’s always exciting. However, I also heard an amazing true story over Christmas dinner, which I have been given permission to develop as a fictionalised account. That will take some time to research, but it’s a really exciting prospect.

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 would be any tropical island! (But I’d recommend either the BVI, where I spent a few formative years, especially if you like diving or sailing – or Koh Phangan in Thailand, for the chill.) My favourite city is Sydney. Top of my own bucket list these days is Iceland for the northern lights and its majestic landscapes – I’m all about stunning nature at this stage in my life! I want my jaw dropped. 

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

Not a secret, but I used to read the weather report on Hong Kong television. Many, many moons ago. Except for that one time that I didn’t read it, because I had swapped a shift as a favour to the other reader, but then forgot about it. Worst professional moment of my life, sitting watching as the newsreader apologised for having no weather presenter, and then she had to do it herself. This was in the days before mobiles and I’d been out and about with a new boyfriend. Mortifying. Of course, I am only telling you this because we’ve had a few drinks. 

Oh no! That is quite embarrassing. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. 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’?

Ah, so tricky unless I know you well! I’d need a clue as to your tastes/mood/interests. The only fair choice then is to go with the book which, when I read it at fourteen, awakened me to the notion that novel writing was an art to aspire to – and that would be Wuthering Heights. If you want a polar opposite contemporary option, however, I’d have to say The Road.

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?

If I have more than four drinks in my ripening middle age, then a hangover is inevitable. But it can be watered down. So I hydrate plenty in between – and I never mix drinks, or drink on an empty stomach. The (usually) failsafe morning after cure consists of scrambled eggs and a Bloody Mary. If that doesn’t work, then I succumb to Nurofen and a nap. 

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

Feet up with a book! Punctuated by a pub lunch and a lovely walk with my partner (and all the other fun things one can do with one’s partner.) Maybe a movie in the evening. But the reality is, I will have to work at some point during most weekends. (For example, I am composing this on a Sunday afternoon.)

Stephanie, thank you so much for joining me this evening, I have had a great time and really enjoyed finding out more about you. I look forward to reading the next instalment in The Children of Sarah series.

Stephanie’s debut novel, Bone Lines, 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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A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.

In the present day, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.

Bone Lines is the story of two women separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life. This intriguing tale of love and survival, of courage and the quest for wisdom also explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.

Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast.

Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.

Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)

To find out more about Stephanie, check out her social media links:

Website: http://stephaniebretherton.com

Facebook: Stephanie Bretherton

Twitter: @BrethertonWords

Instagram: @brethertonwords2

Next week on the blog, I will be having Friday Night Drinks with blogger Jo Park from Over The Rainbow Book Blog.

Friday Night Drinks with….Jo Furniss @Jo_Furniss @AmazonPub #FridayNightDrinks #PricePromotion #KindlePromo

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Tonight we have a change to our advertised guest, and I am delighted to welcome to the blog the author of one of my Top Ten Books of 2018Jo Furniss. 

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Welcome, Jo. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, a little earlier than expected! First things first, what are you drinking?

Day or night, I do enjoy a nice cup of tea. But as it’s a special occasion, being here on your blog, I’m going to have a Bloody Mary with plenty of spice. Thanks.

The one cocktail that I can’t stomach, although The Irishman loves them. I’ll have a mojito, I think. 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?

We’d nip to Singapore on my own private Concorde, and I’d take you to an outdoor eatery called Gluttons Bay, where we’d combine cheap local street food with a Michelin-star view of the city. Drinks-wise, we’d switch to Tiger beer or a fresh coconut.

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That would be amazing, I have always wanted to go to Singapore, but haven’t made it there yet. 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?

That would be Roald Dahl because I think he’d be a bit of a rogue. And Margaret Atwood because, you know, hero!

That would be a great combo, I’m sure they both would have a lot of wonderful stories. 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 writing my third novel, which has no title yet. That’s freaking me out a bit, the lack of title! But I do have a first draft. This novel is another domestic thriller. It tells the story of a young American journalist, Rose, who moves to the UK to live with her British husband in the village where he grew up. She’s never visited Dylan’s homeland before, and she soon discovers that both Dylan and his family are unpopular – pariahs, even – and ostracized from the local community. When a body is found in the grounds of his family home, fingers point at Dylan, and Rose has to use her investigative skills to unearth his secrets. 

I started writing this book last year, shortly after I moved back to the UK after 15 years abroad. So it’s about those links with home, relationships with people in your past, and how much we change – really, deeply change – over the years. 

That sounds really interesting. Your books have each been so different, so far. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

Once upon a time, I would have said that my biggest challenge was writing my first novel, All The Little Children. But, now, I feel that this third novel is my biggest challenge yet. On a practical level, I’m writing to deadline for the first time. And there’s more to prove, more to lose. The pressure is on!

My proudest moment, for sure, was seeing that first novel in print and online. It went to #1 in the US Kindle Store and became one of the biggest-selling Kindle titles of 2017. Most importantly, it reached so many readers and I love that human connection.

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You forgot to include being in my Top Ten Books of 2018 as one of your proudest moments, 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!

Well, it would be nice to win awards and plaudits and top the best-seller charts and have Netflix adaptations and all the hoop-la… but mainly I’d just like to write a novel that I’m really proud of, with characters that stick in the reader’s mind as though they’d met in real life.

Well, you already achieved that for me. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m excited about this third novel – the One With No Title (which makes it sound like an episode of Friends). I’m at the stage where I’m fleshing out the characters, bringing them off the page, and that’s my favourite part of the writing process.

On the side, I’m also hoping to write a story for my son. A couple of years ago, I wrote one for my daughter and had it printed into a book, just for her. So now I owe him one! I’ve recently dreamed up a story so now I need to write it. It’s fun to write something without worrying whether it’s good enough to be published – it’s just between me and my kids.

That is such a lovely thing to do! 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?

Top of bucket list is the Galapagos Islands. I will get there eventually. I’ve been lucky enough to live on three different continents and I’ve traveled a lot for work and pleasure, so I have many favourite places that hold wonderful memories. If I could click my fingers right now and teleport, I would be snorkeling alongside my kids somewhere in Indonesia where the sea is so shallow and warm, you have to get out to cool down! Generally speaking, I like being warm.

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

I was once arrested on suspicion of spying.

Okay, that is a story that needs further development if we ever meet in real life! 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’?

Only one?! That’s hard. I recently read the auto-biography of one of the UK’s top forensic pathologists – Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd – and it was a great insight into the science and art of the autopsy. We often read about the post mortem examination in books, but here’s the real thing!

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This would not be my usual taste in books, even non-fiction, but I will add it to 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?

Eat carbs before drinking. Alternate alcohol and water. And if you end up with a hangover despite this excellent advice, then call in a favour and get someone else to look after your kids for the day. Kids plus hangover equals hell.

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

We’d go to lunch with a load of inspiring writers. Or just read their books on the flight back from Singapore.

Jo, thank you so much for being on the blog tonight, it has been lovely to talk to you and find out more about you and I can’t wait to read The Book With No Title when it comes out.

You can find my review of Jo’s debut novel, All The Little Children, here. Anyone who enjoyed Bird Box will like this book. This book was an international best-seller and one of my Top Ten Books of 2018. Jo’s latest novel is called The Trailing Spouse – a domestic thriller set in the hothouse expat world of Singapore.

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Amanda Bonham moved halfway around the world to be with the man she loves. Although expat life in Singapore can be difficult, Edward Bonham is a dream husband and a doting father to his teenage daughter, Josie.

But when their maid dies in an apparent suicide—and Amanda discovers the woman was pregnant and hiding a stash of drugs prescribed to Edward—she can’t help but wonder if her perfect husband has a fatal flaw. And if he can’t resist temptation under their own roof, what does he get up to when he travels?

Camille Kemble also has questions for Edward. Recently returned to Singapore, Camille is determined to resolve a family mystery. Amid a jumble of faded childhood memories, she keeps seeing Edward’s handsome face. And she wants to know why.

For one woman, the search for answers threatens everything she has. For another, it’s the key to all she lost. Both will follow his trail of secrets into the darkness to find the truth.

You can get a copy of The Trailing Spouse here and it is currently available on a Kindle promo deal of £1 in the UK and $2 in Australia until 14 February.

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the UK, she lived in Switzerland and Cameroon, and currently resides with her family in Singapore.

As a journalist, Jo has worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle, The Economist, Business Traveller, Expat Living (Singapore) and Swiss News. Jo has also edited books for a Nobel Laureate and the Palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University. In 2015 she founded http://www.SWAGlit.com—an online literary magazine for writers in Singapore.

If you would like to find out more about Jo and her writing, connect with her on social media:

Website: http://www.jofurniss.com

Facebook: Jo Furniss Author

Twitter: @Jo_Furniss

Instagram: @jofurnissauthor

Please come back to the blog next Friday when I will be having drinks with author, Graeme Cumming.

Friday Night Drinks with….Elaine Everest @ElaineEverest @RNATweets @panmacmillan @peterjamesuk #FridayNightDrinks

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Tonight, I am delighted to be having Friday Night Drinks with author and fellow member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association….Elaine Everest.

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Elaine, thank you so much for taking the time to join me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you for inviting me for drinks, Julie. A glass of Prosecco would go down a treat!

Dry January is finally over, so joining you in a glass of Prosecco would seem the perfect way to celebrate. Cheers! 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?

It would be delightful to meet in real life. After careful thought, I’d take you along to one of the writing classes I run. My novel writing students at The Write Place in Hextable, Kent would love to meet you. We often celebrate publishing successes with cake and bubbly so with luck you could celebrate with us. The writers also like to meet real life bloggers so there would be a list of questions for you to answer!

That sounds great, I love meeting other writers. 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?

Being selfish I would like to invite along Winston Churchill to quiz him about WW2 as he does pop up in my books occasionally as my characters are extremely pro Churchill. The second person would have to be a writer, and who better than crime writer Peter James. I’m hooked on his books and we share the same publisher although he is oblivious to my existence!

Interesting choices! Maybe Peter will see this, who knows? 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 am writing about Woolworths once again. This time we leave the war years behind and visit 1947 and 1948. I’m busy researching what went on at that time in history and how it would affect my characters. 

Sounds like fun but a lot of work. I have always been immensely in awe of people who write detailed historical fiction and all the research that entails. I have an idea for a dual timeline plot for a future book but the idea is a little intimidating, I have to admit. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment has been when readers contact me to say how much they love my stories and to share their own experiences of working in Woolworths. Ten years after this iconic store closed it is still thought of with fondness. My biggest challenge has been not to disappoint my readers and to make sure I don’t fabricate what went on at that time. Whether it is worldwide events, local news, or Woolies itself I must stay true to the time and the people – no pressure!

Rather you than me, I know how critical we readers can be if we spot incorrect details. (I almost threw a book last year after the writer twisted a fundamental point of UK law, only the fact of it being on my Kindle stopped me!) 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 goodness what a question! I’d like to be taken seriously as an author of historical fiction. So often saga writers are not taken as seriously as writers of other genres. Also, we have this tag of being ‘romantic writers’ with a pink and frothy image. Many of my friends in the writing world will agree that sagas and romance are seen on every supermarket shelf and are often found in the best seller charts so it is time to take us all seriously! So if I may I’d like to share my wish with my fellow writers if that is okay?

Of course, I agree that romance writers and saga writers do not seem to get the respect they deserve, given how popular those genres are. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

As mentioned earlier, I’ve rolled up my sleeves to get stuck into Wedding Bells at Woolworths (a working title) as it has to be filed with my publisher, Pan Macmillan, in mid April. However, the first book in my new series about the women who worked as Nippies in the Joe Lyons teashops on the Kent coast will be published on May 2nd. The Teashop Girls is already available for pre order and has the most fabulous cover, thanks to the designers at Pan Macmillan – such a great team to work with. Already I have ideas for book two in the series and beginning to feel excited about taking Rose, Lily an Katie into 1941…

As for further book ideas – there are so many that I need more hours in the day.

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It is early 1940 and World War Two has already taken a hold on the country. Rose Neville works as a Lyon’s Teashop Nippy on the Kent coast alongside her childhood friends, the ambitious Lily and Katie, whose fiancé is about to be posted overseas in the navy. As war creates havoc in Europe, Rose relies on the close friendship of her friends and her family.

When Capt. Benjamin Hargreaves walks into her life, Rose is immediately drawn to him. But as Lyon’s forbids courting between staff and customers, she tries to put the handsome officer out of her mind.

In increasingly dark and dangerous times, Rose fears there may not be time to waste. But is the dashing captain what he seems?

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?

I’m one of those people who has always owned dogs – many dogs – and along with my husband we have exhibited, bred and been involved in the dog world since way back when… When we’ve had at least half a dozen Old English Sheepdogs in the house, holidays and travel is spent going to dog shows and staying in cottages in the UK where we have enjoyed many lovely holidays. However, having just the one dog at the moment – Henry is a Polish Lowland Sheepdog – and as I hit a ‘special’ birthday at Christmas, I will soon be striking something off my bucket list. Many many years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I went to Switzerland on a school trip. It has always been my dream to return so we are doing that this coming summer. We will be travelling by train from St Pancras station on a tour that will take in many places that I want to show my husband. Henry will be going into kennels – sshh, he thinks it is a luxury holiday home for precious pooches!

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That sounds wonderful, I hope you enjoy the trip and that Henry is happy in his luxury dog hotel! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

My goodness I’m such a blabbermouth that I’ve told most of my secrets. Hmm I used to be a Brown Owl and run a Brownie pack in Erith, Kent – very much as one of my characters does in the Woolworths series. When I married in 1972 as an innocent eighteen year old (with a mortgage), all the Brownies arrived and stood to attention as we left the church. Not a major secret but a happy memory!

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’?

I’d like to take you back to my childhood year when my parents took us to Ramsgate for two weeks each year – before we graduated to the Isle of Wight. I would accompany my mum to the second hand bookshop where we would spend hours rummaging for hidden gems. This is where I discovered Little Women and to this day can recall the delight of finding a character in that book to identify with. Yes, I wanted to be Jo and write all day and create magical characters. Mum died when I was seventeen but I do hope she knows that this child’s dream came true.  

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This is one of my all-time favourite books and I, too, dreamed of being Jo March and writing in my garret, wrapped in a shawl and eating russet apples. So lovely that your dream has come true (minus garret, I assume). 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 large cup of tea and a bacon sandwich! I’m not sure if it does cure a hangover but at least I can enjoy the experiment. 

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

I’d make a trip to M&S to purchase some of their yummy pre cooked food and then spend the rest of the weekend reading, eating and watching old movies on television. My husband can walk Henry!

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Julie and cheers! xx

No, thank you for agreeing to come on, I have enjoyed our chat immensely and I hope we can do it for real at an RNA event this year…I will seek you out and pick your brains about historical research! 

Elaine’s Woolworths series, including the latest, A Gift from Woolworths, are out now and you can get a copy here. Elaine’s new book, The Teashop Girls will be published on 2 May and you can pre-order it here.

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As the war moves into 1945 the lives of the women of Woolworths continue. When store manager, Betty Billington, announces she is expecting Douglas’s baby her future life is about to change more than she expects.

Freda has fallen in love with the handsome Scottish engineer but will it end happily?

Maisie loves being a mother and also caring for her two nieces although she still has her own dreams. When her brother appears on the scene he brings unexpected danger to the family.

Meanwhile Sarah dreams of her husband’s return and a cottage with roses around the door but Woolworths beckons.

Will our girls sail into times of peace, or will they experience more heartache and sorrow? With a wedding on the horizon, surely only happiness lies ahead – or does it?

Elaine Everest, author of Bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths, and Wartime at Woolworths was born and brought up in North West Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty years and has written widely for women’s magazines and national newspapers, with both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to broadcasting on radio about our four legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy looms.

When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school at The Howard Venue in Hextable, Kent and has a long list of published students. 

Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Crime Writers Association, The Society of Women Writers & Journalists and The Society of Authors.

To find out more about Elaine and her books, join her on social media:

Facebook: Elaine Everest Author

Twitter: @ElaineEverest

Next week, I will be drinking with one of my favourite book bloggers, Jo Park, of Over The Rainbow Book Blog, so make sure you join us.

Friday Night Drinks with….Wendy Clarke from The Fiction Cafe @TheFictionCafe #FridayNightDrinks #GuestPost #MadisonWard #TheFictionCafeBookClub #BookClub #amwriting #FictionCafeWriters

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I know I have been promising this guest for quite a while now but finally, at last, I am delighted to welcome to Friday Night Drinks, the founder of The Fiction Cafe Book Club, my favourite corner of the internet, my online writing group, The Fiction Cafe – Writers Group and a host of other brilliant related Facebook groups we will talk about later….. drumroll…….Wendy Clarke!

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Wendy, glad you finally made it! First things first, what are you drinking?

Had you asked me that this time last year it would have been anything from a pink gin and ginger ale to a Bailey’s but in April last year I gave up alchol and started drinking water! 

Now though, it’s coffee. I’m a little bit of a coffee addict!

At last, I’m not the only non-drinker at the table (if only for another six days anyway). 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 rarely go out as I prefer the quiet, warm of my home around my family, but if we were going ‘out out’, I’d take you to my daughter Bethany’s work place, which is a Cocktail Bar, restaurant. The Oat Hill which is in Market Harborough. She is training to be a chef. I’d treat you to a three-course meal from the A La Carte menu, cooked by my beautiful daughter. 

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I would really enjoy that. You must be very proud. 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?

Ooh, I have no idea on this one. I’m not that wowed by celebrities. I’d probably rather spend the time talking together. If I had to choose someone, maybe the character’s Joey Tribiani and Phoebe Buffet, from Friends I think they would be pretty funny to spend time with. Plus Joey doesn’t share food so no sharing would be needed!

Good choice! 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?

Well, 2018 was a really busy year and I didn’t get a lot done due to illness and busy groups. I have totally failed at getting my book edited, which I had planned to finish by end of last year. I need to knuckle down and get that done. The debut is a thriller but may be leaning a little more toward crime. I have several ideas for further novels all floating around in my head. Two of which will be books two and three with similar themes. They are both themed with something I’m really passionate about and feel will help people connect.

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Aside from my writing, the Fiction Café groups have been my most valued achievement. I started off by creating a little book group which would be a welcoming, friendly environment for people to talk about books. What I’ve managed to create, with the help of several admins, past and present, and of course the wonderful Tera Tidwell who was co-founder of the Café, is a group where people want to spend their time. We have also expanded in the last two years and now have a ‘franchise’ of additional groups, I’m not sure if franchise is the correct word, but sister groups doesn’t quite feel right either. With our other groups we also offer a unique element of respect and kindness which isn’t found in many book clubs. I do feel very proud of what I have achieved and although it is one hell of lot of work behind the scenes ensuring the group runs smoothly, I couldn’t do it without my wonderful admins. The last few months have been really tough but they have all supported me in a way you wouldn’t believe and I think the team we have currently, together will achieve great things. I can’t thank them enough for what they do for me and the groups and for their friendship. 

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You have truly created something remarkable in The Fiction Cafe. It is a friendly, fun, respectful group where there is never any nastiness, just a love and joy of books. It is totally my favourite place online and I have made some great friends there, so thank you! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

Oh most definitely the Fiction Café groups. I probably should have read ahead and added that here! 

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!

My dream is to publish and hold my paperback in my hand and sell one signed book! It’s a very simple dream, I’m not bothered about being successful, although obviously that would be nice, I just want to write, publish and sell my novel to show people I can. It isn’t a pipe dream, it will be my future. Ideally, I’d like to be a writer full time. I’d love to write a crime series with many books in it but I am very far off from that at the moment. 

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We share the same dream there, along with a lot of other members of The Fiction Cafe – Writers Group. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

My debut. It is my first novel that has taken a different turn from the original storyline that I had but I think it will be a shocker. People who know me will be surprised at my dark side. I write under a pen name of Madison Ward.

I also have another project for an anthology that nobody knows about so this is exclusive news! It wont be out until after my debut novel so unfortunately you will have a little wait yet. 

Wow, a scoop! How exciting! You heard it here first, folks. Thank you for sharing that with me. 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?

I have a funny story about bucket lists actually. When I first started dating Phil, we used to talk about all the things we would do together and we did create a bucket list of things to do. The first one though was funny because I didn’t know the name for it so I said I wanted to roll down a hill like a hamster. It was actually zorbing but we still laugh about it today because I didn’t know the name for it! Generally, bucket lists are full of cray things people want to do but mine is mainly countries I want to travel to. My favourite place that I’ve been to was Italy. I absolutely love the culture and food. I also loved Corfu. Once day I would like to live the dream of writing books while by the side of the pool in the Greek sunshine… Ah, we can all dream! 

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

I don’t know that there is anything, I was very briefly in a stunt team before I had my daughter but that isn’t anything new to group members of The Fiction Café.  

It will be news to some of my readers though! Stunt woman, amazing. 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’?

This is a very personal thing as everyone has different preferences of genre. I recently read the Chris Carter series of Robert Hunter which was really good. They were very gruesome so not for the squeamish but I like that kind of theme. I started those after reading the most gruesome and sick book called Lines of Justice: Azdaja by Lee Sherred. This was truly shocking but the best book I’ve read for a while. You should definitely read it if you like dark crime thrillers.

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I’m not sure this might not be too gruesome for me. It’s funny, isn’t it, because you’d never imagine Lee would write that kind of thing when you talk to him in the Cafe! 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?

If I drink alcohol, the trick is not to mix spirits and lager! That is the rule to not getting a hangover! But if you do go a little crazy, a pint of water before bed and a banana always ensures I wake up with a smug smile on my face.

Never tried a banana, I’ll have to give that a go. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

I’m happy at home, so after spending time with my family, curled up watching Netflix with a blanket and a cup of coffee. I like an easy life and don’t feel the need to go out all the time. A nice field to park up the caravan where we can take the dogs for a walk on a nearby beach and stop off at the local pub for a cider (Obviously local Cornish cider is a must and the only time I generally make an exception to break the no alcohol rule).

Thank you so much, Wendy, for chatting with me this evening, it’s been delightful. And thank you for creating some of my favourite Facebook groups, you have definitely enriched my life!

If you are interested in exploring the marvellous groups Wendy has created on Facebook (and you should), please follow her social media links below:

https://fictioncafe.net

The Fiction Cafe Book Club

The Fiction Cafe – Writers Group

The Picturehouse Cafe – Movie Club

The Jukebox Cafe- Music Club

Facebook: Madison Ward

Twitter: @TheFictionCafe

Next week I will have novelist and stalwart of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Elaine Everest, joining me for the evening, so please call back then.

Friday Night Drinks with….Anne from Being Anne @Williams13Anne #FridayNightDrinks #GuestPost #BeingAnne #BookBlogger #BloggerLove

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Thrilled to have as my guest for Friday Night Drinks tonight one of my favourite, most admired and award-winning bloggers, and one of the few I have actually met IRL, the wonderful, Anne Williams from Being Anne.

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

Thanks for inviting me, Julie! I’d usually stick with a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but I’ve acquired quite a taste over Christmas for those flavoured gins – could I have a raspberry one please, with a dash of tonic?  

Oh, that sounds delicious! Roll on 1st February, I’m on the soft drinks again. 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’m so boring these days – but, in my defence, I am getting on a bit now. Would you mind staying in instead? I’d be happy with a takeaway – curry or Chinese – and a couple of good rom coms…  

That is perfect for these cold, wintry nights, to be honest. It is forecast snow for these weekend. 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’m a big Radio 2 fan, and I’m so upset that Simon Mayo is leaving – I think he’d be interesting for a night out, and we could find out how he really felt about sharing his drive-time show with Jo Whiley. And how about my favourite actress, Judi Dench? I think she’d be good fun… 

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I love Judi Dench, I’d quite like to be her when I grow up! 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 doing what I’ve been doing for nearly six years now – reading in my every spare moment, sharing reviews (and sometimes interviews, features and guest posts) on my blog, Being Anne. It all started as a way of keeping my reviews in one place, and no-one was more amazed than I was when I found people liked reading it. I stepped things up a bit when I retired three years ago – moved everything from Blogger to WordPress, improved the way it looked, tried to post content at least every weekday. Life got a little more complicated when I became carer for my mum, and the frequency of posts has dropped rather recently – but I hope what I now manage to do is of the standard I’ve always strived to achieve. I so enjoy sharing my thoughts on books I’ve enjoyed – and if I don’t enjoy a book, you won’t find it on the blog.   

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Your blog is definitely very professional and one that every book lover should check out. What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

I’ve been delighted to win the “Best Pal” award three years running at the Annual Bloggers’ Bash. But I think what gives me the most pleasure is when someone tells me they’ve bought a book on my recommendation – and if they then tell me they enjoyed it just as much as I did, that’s just wonderful. I also love it when authors interact – particularly to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed a review, or to tell me that I totally “got” their book. No particular challenges really, other than finding the time to read and review everything I really want to – although I am rather worried about the new WordPress editor, and will put off using it for as long as I possibly can.

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Huge congratulations on that success. 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!

No, I’m really not ambitious – I got that out of my system in my working life, and I never intended that the blogging should be anything more than a pastime for my retirement. 

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

When I retired, I always planned to try my hand at writing. I’m not sure if I have a book in me, but I really would like to give it a try. Now life’s becoming a little easier again, I’ve signed up for an on-line writing course starting in February, and I’ll see how it goes. I’d like to attempt romance, maybe featuring some of those rather older characters I enjoy reading about…

You should join the RNA New Writers’ Scheme if you get into it! 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?

I love to travel too, and in the last fifteen years or so – after I ditched the partner who only ever wanted to go to the Lake District – I’ve managed to get to a lot of the places that were on my own bucket list. I’ve been so very lucky. I started with the US, West coast and then the East, then followed through with China and Hong Kong. I’ve been to South Africa, ridden elephants in Northern Thailand, watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and totally adored my tour of Cuba. Peru – particularly Macchu Pichu – was so spectacular: and you really haven’t lived until you witness the sunset on Halong Bay in Vietnam. My last big holiday was watching the wildlife in Borneo, with a touch of real luxury in Singapore on the way home. I really don’t have a favourite, but the holiday I took for my 60th birthday was particularly special – starting in Peru, crossing the Andes, visiting Buenos Aires, the jet boat under the Iguazu Falls, the helicopter over Rio de Janeiro. There aren’t that many destinations left on my bucket list, but I would like to spend more time in the Far East – and I’ve yet to visit Australia and New Zealand. 

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Oh wow, you’ve been pretty much everywhere I want to go. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

There’s very little people don’t know about me – I share a lot about my life on my blog (too much, maybe?!).

Never, it is lovely to learn about people who are so open and friendly as you come across. 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’?

One book? Maybe… or then again… no, give me a moment. No, sorry, I just can’t do it! You’ll find my books of the year on my blog though, always posted just before Christmas…

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’m afraid I’ve never perfected the art of avoiding one – other than not opening the second bottle of wine. And the cure – or at least, the compensation – has to be a good fry-up. 

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

Here I get boring again! If it’s ok with you, I’d rather curl up with my current book – which is always my favourite way to spend a weekend. Unless there’s a good book event going on – shall we take a look?

Anne, thank you so much for joining me on the blog this evening, it has been so much fun to talk to you and we will have that IRL lunch soon.

Anne and I have a lot in common, She lives in Yorkshire, as I do, in the beautiful market town of Wetherby. Having spent her working life as a civil servant, she’s now 62 and retired, and able to spend her time doing all the things she enjoys most. Her first passion has always been reading – and she enjoys spending much of her time doing just that, sharing her love of books on her blog Being Anne. She enjoys travelling to book related events – and is lucky to be invited to some of the best launches and parties. Her second passion is travel – usually long haul, and to places where other people might not have been. 

If you would like to find out more about Anne, catch up with her on social media:

Webssite: https://beinganne.com

Facebook: Being Anne 

Twitter: @Williams13Anne

Next week I am joined for Friday Night Drinks, by Wendy Clarke, founder of my favourite group on the internet, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. Make sure you join us then.