Book Review: Elektra by Jennifer Saint

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The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

Today is publication day for Elektra by Jennifer Saint and so I am delighted to be sharing my review of the book with you all. Huge thanks to Caitlin Raynor at Headline for sending me an advance copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Jennifer Saint’s last book, Ariadne, was one of my top books of 2021 (you can read my review here) so I really was looking forward to reading Elektra but wondering if she could pull off the same transformation of a seemingly well known story again. The answer is yes, with bells on.

In fact, I could almost life my review of Ariadne and paste it, word for word, into the review for Elektra, because Jennifer Saint has taken the same principle, taking well known Greek myths and telling them from the perspective of the women involved, and applied it to the story of the siege of Troy. Interestingly, though, she has chosen not to focus on the main female figure in the tale – Helen, whose beauty brought down an entire nation – but three other women, seemingly on the periphery but actually central to the whole story, Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra.

If you are familiar with the written history of the Trojan War, I am sure there are bits of the book you might take issue with. This is a reimagining of events which, after all have many different versions woven around them by different writers, in an attempt to bring events from centuries ago to life for modern audiences, and it is very effective in this regard. These women could be any of us, living, breathing, loving and losing on the page, and the emotions they feel will be recognisable to us all. Frustration at being held back because of our sex, jealousy when the attention of our partner is focused elsewhere, fear of abandonment, grief at the loss of a loved one – these are things that women are still facing today, challenges that ring down through the ages and you will soon find yourselves pulled in to the story and living along with the characters.

Let me just tell you, most of the characters in this story are not pleasant. They are largely selfish, ambitious, hubristic and cruel. They do some horrific things to each other, seemingly for small slights that are not commensurate with the price paid in blood as a result. However, the author does a great job of trying to show why they took the actions they did and making the women at least somewhat sympathetic. For example, if you read the story of Clytemnestra baldly on Google, she sounds like a monster. However, as a woman who has been through the loss of a child,  I can feel her pain, anguish and fury and understand what motivates her, even if I don’t think I would have done the same, I hasten to add. The scenes involving the captured women on the beach after the sack of Troy are heart-breaking, and give you food for thought when you see the news about what is currently happening in Eastern Europe today. You might ask yourselves how far civilisation has actually progressed in 4,000 years and whether base human nature remains the same down the millennia.

This is a fantastic historical retelling of a story that has enthralled Greek mythology fanatics for years, a terrifying morality tale and an exploration of the strength and resilience of women in a world in which they have no actual power. The author blends all of these aspects together into an entertaining, gripping and moving book that I was glued to from beginning to end and could not wait to recommend to my friends afterwards. My only question now is whether to buy a gorgeous hardback to match my copy of Ariadne, or just hang on to the personalised proof that I was so thrilled to be asked to review. I cannot wait to see what this author is going to tackle next; whatever it is, I’m sure it will be exciting.

Elektra is out today in hardback, audio and ebook formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Her second novel, ELEKTRA, explores the curse upon the House of Atreus, giving voice to three women who are caught up in its shadows: Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra whose lives are shattered by the Trojan War and who seek to find justice at any cost. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

Connect with Jennifer:

Website: https://www.jennifersaint.com/

Facebook: Jennifer Saint Author

Twitter: @jennysaint

Instagram: @jennifer.saint.author

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Blog Tour: The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen; Translated by David Hackston

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Today I am thrilled to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the paperback release of The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen. Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purposes of review, although I had already purchased a physical copy. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

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What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Sometimes you come across a book and everything about it makes your heart sing. I know my fellow bookworms recognise that feeling, know that it is rare but, when it does occur, it’s joyous. My friends, The Rabbit Factor is one of those books.

This is the story of Henri, a very uptight man who likes everything in his life to be ordered and logical. He is an actuary, and he makes all of his life decisions (and I do mean ALL of them) based on logic and probability and he doesn’t like anything which disrupts this system or seems to him not to make sense when viewed from this perspective. This is itself makes reading about his life a ludicrous business, and I’d give you some examples from the book which made me laugh out loud but I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review. I’ll just say that this is one of those books that makes people look at you oddly on a train if you decide to read it in public.

So, the premise of this book is a classic ‘fish-out-of-water’ story. What happens when this man is accosted by a set of circumstances that don’t make any sense, can’t be dealt with on a purely logical basis, involve people who made illogical decisions or don’t behave in a predictable way and force him to think things and feel things that he has never had to think or feel before. This is what confronts Henri when his wild, reckless and unpredictable brother dies and leaves Henri his adventure park, responsibility for its employees and all the difficulties that go with it.

Seeing uptight Henri the loner actuary in charge of a children’s adventure park would in itself be hilarious enough for a story. However, this is also a crime caper, because the adventure park is in financial difficulty and his brother seems to have been caught up in some dodgy dealings which Henri has also inherited. How do you logically calculate your way out of criminal enterprise involving people who use violence instead of reason? Read this book to find out. However, this implausible story is not the biggest delight at the heart of this novel, it is merely the ingenious skeleton on which the flesh of this fantastic novel hangs.

There are two things which makes this book a standout for me. The first is the writing. Antti Tuomainen has the most delicious way with language, a gift for finding the hilarious in the mundane and a wicked turn of phrase that is music to the visual ear (if that is even a thing… you know what I mean anyway!) As I said before, this book is funny, laugh out loud so in parts, but it is also clever. Beyond this, he also knows how to write tenderly when tenderness is required, with tension when that is appropriate and with insight and consideration when this is needed to bring the plot to life. This book, as well as making me laugh, also really touched me in places, with a beautiful exploration of human nature, what speaks to our hearts, how relationships can change us, and how even the most cut-off and stringent of souls can be reached and touched by the right people. This book contains so many facets that there is something here for everyone – comedy, crime, love – the layers open up throughout like an unfurling flower to reveal its full beauty by the end.

The second, and most important aspect that brings this book alive are the characters. Everyone is individual, well-developed and integral to the plot. Even the one that doesn’t appear until right at the end, because there is a reason for this that adds to it. You can tell that no one is there for any reason other than they are essential, and every one has been given the same care and consideration in their development. Henri, of course, is the star and I could read a book featuring him every day of the week. For someone so alien to most of us, he is relatable and completely lovable and I am so glad to hear that this is the start of a series in which he will feature. Henri aside, I love everyone else. Laura, Kristian, Johanna, the security guard – the way they all interact and play their part. Even Henri’s old boss who he has written off proves to have a use in Henri’s life after all, they are all brilliantly interconnected in his awakening to a future he never knew existed, or that he had craved. It’s beautifully done, heart-warming and uplifting. The reason this book made me so happy.

I have always been a fan of Antti’s books but this may have just overtaken Palm Beach Finland as my favourite. I’ll have to go back and read the latter for comparison, which won’t be a hardship. While I’m here, just a word on the translation. If the name of the translator were not on the cover, you would never know this was a translated text, it is that seamless. This is no mean achievement and deserves recognition.

If you want a real treat, treat yourself to this, I promise you will close the back cover with a smile on your face and a warm, Ready Brek glow around your heart.

The Rabbit Factor is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Please check out the rest of the fantastic blogs taking part in the tour for more great reviews:

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About the Author

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Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author Iin 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. His latest thriller, Little Siberia, was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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Blog Tour: Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe by Jodie Cain Smith

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In Huet Pointe, ambition is as dangerous as the brackish water that surrounds the sliver of land. But, the women of this antebellum hamlet yearn for more than society insists they be-devout, feminine, and content with living according to cultural norms. So, what’s a girl to do? She could employ poison, perhaps a bit of adultery, and drowning in alligator-infested waters is always a choice-whatever it takes to achieve her goal.

A novel-in-stories, Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe, tells the stories of ten women brought together by proximity, forever entangled by the actions they take.

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe by Jodie Cain Smith. My thanks to Love Book Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purpose of review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

An interconnected set of short stories, weaving together the lives of ten women who inhabit a small town in forgotten swampland, Bayou Cresting is a must-read for fans of Southern Gothic literature. Set in the mid-1800s, this book brings together everything that is appealing and emotive about this enticing genre. Earthiness, darkness, voodoo, magic, murder and mayhem, with a feminist spin, this is a deeply fascinating piece of work.

Firstly, the writing transports the reader directly to the heart of the humid, hidden bayous of the Deep South at an important point in history and this book has one of the strongest senses of place in a novel I have read for a long time. You can feels the steamy, oppressive heat rising from the page, feel the isolation of this forgotten place and experience the simmering tensions that undercut life in this town. Even those characters who seem genteel on the surface can be hiding black hearts and those who are looked down upon by the community can surprise you with their consideration and kindness. This is a book that questions every stereotype you have ever come across in Southern Gothic literature.

The book focuses solely on the women of the town. The men play bit parts, only relevant insofar as they affect and impact the lives and behaviour of those women, which is a fascinating way to portray a society where the women are secondary and subservient to the men in every way – or so it would seem. the abiding takeaway for me from reading this novel is that women’s strength will make itself felt, come what may, and there is little that men can do about it in the end.

Many of the characters in this book are not liable, but this does not make them any less interesting, possibly more so. Some of the characters, in fact, are downright appalling, but they are still fully realised, well-rounded and recognisable individuals, not caricatures. What makes this book such compelling reading is that the characters are realistic and believable, which makes their behaviour much more impactful. There are some terrible goings on in these stories, the tension will pull you in and hold you from story to story. Every facet of life in the town is covered, from the ladies in their antebellum mansions to the slaves in their quarters and the women in the local brothel, and the ones who are happiest are not necessarily the ones you would expect, if indeed anyone who is truly happy in this lost town.

A really unusual construction for a novel, where they are only loosely connected by location and character crossover, this nonetheless feels like a complete story, drawn together to the inevitable denouement, which left me with a deep sense of unease and disturbance at the lives of these women. Any book which evokes a strong reaction in the reader is an achievement in writing and, whilst not being what I expected, this book certainly left its mark on me. I hope it finds a wide readership, it is a fantastic piece of work.

Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe is out now in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Jodie Cain Smith is the author of two Southern Gothic novels, The Woods at Barlow Bend (1st edition Deer Hawk Publications, Nov 2014; 2nd edition Kat Biggie Press, July 2021) and Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe (Crowsnest Books, 2021). More than any other character, Jodie enjoys creating ambitious women who often fly across the line to dangerous women. She is the founder of the Mobile Literary Festival, proving her philosophy of “If it doesn’t exist, create it yourself.” When she is not creating southern fiction, Jodie can be found in the worlds of superheroes, Lego, and Mario Kart with her little boy and husband. Her Mario Kart driving needs work, the boy is awesome, and the husband puts up with all the crazy. Jodie Cain Smith’s short stories, feature articles, and columns have appeared in Pieces Anthology, the Pulpwood Queen’s Works in Progress, The Petigru Review, Chicken Soup for the Military Spouse’s Soul, The Savannah Morning News, and the Fort Hood Sentinel.

Connect with Jodie:

Website: https://jodiecainsmith.com

Facebook: Jodie Cain Smith

Twitter: @JodieCainSmith

Instagram: @jodiecainsmithauthor

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The 2022 Romantic Novel Award Winners’ Interviews with…. Bella Osborne

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Today is my final post in my celebration of the 2022 Romantic Novel Awards and I am delighted to be joined by joint winner of the Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy, author… Bella Osborne.

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Bella, congratulations on your award for The Promise of Summer and thank you very much for agreeing to appear on my blog again!

What does winning this award mean for you and what do you think it was about this book that spoke to the judges?

I was over the moon to win! It is particularly special because it was chosen by readers.

It’s very hard to guess what they particularly liked about it as we don’t get any specific feedback. I would hope it was the feisty heroine and unconventional hero who appealed to them.

What is it that draws you to writing romantic comedy rather than any other genre?

It’s naturally how my writing comes out. Like everyone I’ve had ups and downs in my life but even at the darkest moments I’ve still managed to find some humour and I think that’s what gets you through. I have also written two uplifting book club reads where there was no romance but there was still a sprinkling of humour.

How important is membership of the RNA to you, what does it give you and what is your favourite thing about it?

The RNA is my tribe. I love that it is an incredibly supportive group and everyone gets a kick out of each other achieving things – they are a very special bunch of people. They also have a fabulous conference and the best parties!

How did you get in to writing and how long did it take you to get published? What advice do you have for aspiring writers just starting out on this path?

I’ve always written but it was a life coach that suggested that I try to see if I could complete a whole novel. I was lucky enough to meet my first editor at an RNA conference and from there I signed a two book deal. So the answer to how long did it take to get published depends on your starting point – either 45 years or eighteen months!

My advice to aspiring authors is to find other writers either locally or through bigger organisations like the RNA – their support is so valuable.

Where did the inspiration for this story come from and how do you go about developing a book from that first spark to the finished novel?

I wish I knew! These characters just appeared when I was finishing off another story.

I am a big planner so that’s my first stage. I spend time just thinking about my characters and getting to know them. I make character bios, work out their backstory and what their goals and issues are. Almost simultaneously the plot will be developing. Once I know the story has legs I will get out the brown paper and post it notes and start making a plan. Once I’m happy I’ve nailed all the key points that’s when I start a first draft. I do a few rounds of self edits before it goes to my agent. I do her suggested changes before I submit it to my editor. We then go through structural, line and copy edits. The final stage is a proof read after that the next time I see it it’s an actual book.

What do you think awards like this do for the image of books in your genre, and the image of romance novels as whole, which sometimes are unfairly dismissed? What are readers who would not normally pick up a romance novel missing out on?

Anything that can shed a spotlight on romantic fiction is a positive thing. It baffles me that a high percentage of popular music has themes of love, romance and relationships and that is embraced by everyone but when the same thing is written down the attitude towards it changes. 

If you’re not reading romance you are missing out on well written, thought provoking reads with engaging characters, that tackle some difficult subjects and dilemmas before giving you an uplifting ending. 

What is coming next from you and when can we expect to see it?

My next romantic comedy is A Wedding At Sandy Cove which is out on 21st July. 

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Escape to Sandy Cove, where the scent of summer and the sound of wedding bells are in the air!

Ella makes brides’ dreams come true – there’s no dress she can’t make perfect with her sewing skills and some sparkle. But Ella’s own love life is no fairy tale. Recently dumped, surrounded by fussy brides and with the prospect of wearing a hideous brown bridesmaids dress to her friend’s wedding, Ella feels more alone than ever so agrees to go on a blind date.

A mix up on the night introduces her to Kit

Kit is definitely not the man she was supposed to meet, but he could end up changing her life in ways she never thought possible…

Bella, thanks for chatting to me today, it has been fascinating. Good luck with your new book.

Bella’s RONA short-listed novel, The Promise of Summer, is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

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Ruby’s life is about to change for ever…

After years of dating losers, cheats and one guy who did something unrepeatable to her kettle, Ruby has all but given up on romance. But then a stranger sits next to her on a train to London and explains his plan to propose to the woman of his dreams. Maybe true love does exist after all?

When the man accidentally leaves the engagement ring behind, Ruby is determined to save the day. But she hasn’t counted on fellow passenger Curtis stepping in and insisting he should be the one to track the stranger down.   
 
As summer closes in, the unlikely pair make a promise to reunite the ring with its owner. But can they find their own happy ever after along the way?

Bella Osborne has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. Since then she’s written a number of best-selling romantic comedies and book club reads. She’s been shortlisted four times for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. She lives in Warwickshire, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

Connect with Bella:

Website: http://www.bellaosborne.com

Facebook: Bella Osborne

Twitter: @osborne_bella

Instagram: @bellaosborneauthor

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Book Review: The Serial Killer’s Girl by L. H. Stacey

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Does a killer’s blood run in the family?

Lexi Jakes thought she could run from her past…she was wrong.

Because when her biological mother is found dead, with all the same hallmarks of her own serial killer father, Lexi knows someone is out for revenge, and that she and her small daughter, Isla, could be next.

Determined to protect Isla, Lexi travels back to Lindisfarne, the small remote island where she grew up. There, cut off from the mainland, Lexi hopes they’ll both be safe.

But as the tide comes in and the causeway slowly closes, Lexi’s greatest fear comes true: now they are trapped with no way out.

Lexi will do anything to save her daughter…she is the serial killer’s girl after all.

I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Serial Killer’s Girl by L. H. Stacey today. My thanks to the author for inviting me to review her book and providing me with a digital copy for review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

The premise of this book is absolutely fascinating. What is life like for the children of people who have committed the most heinous of crimes? How do their families move on after their atrocities have been exposed and they are behind bars? It is something I haven’t really given much thought to in relation to their children, I have to say. I’ve sometimes wondered about their spouses – how can they not of known, how do they adjust afterwards to what their partner did and why they never suspected, but not the children, so I was keen to read the author’s exploration on the matter.

The plot is quite gripping. Someone murders Lexi’s mother in a way very similar to the methodology of her father’s crimes and she begins to worry that someone is out for revenge on him via the people he cares about. This would put Lexi, and more importantly her young daughter, in harm’s way. So Lexi decides to take her daughter and run to a place that she believes no one will find her and where she always has felt safe. Lindisfarne.

I loved the exploration in the book of this beautiful area of the country, as it a place I visited often as a child but have not revisited for many years. It was really interesting to read about it from the perspective of people living on the island, as opposed to visiting, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sections of the book set on Lindisfarne.

There was plenty of tension in Lexi’s situation. She has kept her past hidden from people she is close to, so this leads to tensions in her relationships as it all bubbles to the surface. It is not clear who is responsible for the murders – the author cleverly conceals their identity, even whilst writing some parts of the book from their perspective – and I was mystified until the end as to who had done it, although I had my suspicions. Look, some of the decisions Lexi makes are baffling to me and I was mentally screaming at her whilst reading because it was clear they weren’t going to lead to a good place. However, this was part of what created the tension, being able to see where she was going wrong and anticipating the upcoming fallout.

If I had any criticism of the book at all, it would be that there was some level of repetition of ideas in certain parts that felt a bit like labouring a point. However, I did read an early proof, rather than the finished copy, which may be different, and this did not in any way detract from the enjoyability or tension in the main plot. This is a very entertaining book for people who enjoy the genre of domestic, psychologic al thriller and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

The Serial Killer’s Girl is published on Thursday 27 April and you can pre-order a copy here.

About the Author

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As well as being the author of seven books, Stacey also works a full time job as a Sales Director. She’s also a fully qualified scuba diving instructor and has been known to happily jump in the sea with sharks, without a cage.

Following a life changing car accident in 2008, Stacey was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to teach scuba diving professionally anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Stacey to create stories with challenging and unpredictable plots.

Stacey’s debut novel ‘House of Secrets’ was published in 2016 and her seventh book ‘The Serial Killer’s Girl’ will be published by Boldwood Books in April 2022.

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: L H Stacey

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

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Saturday Night Drinks with … Phil Johnson

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A day late due to unforeseen circumstances, but tonight I am delighted to welcome to the blog for a drink and a chat, author… Phil Johnson.

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

Thank you for inviting me! I’m having a small red Boutari, it’s a local Greek wine, as I’m in the Aegean at the moment, researching a sequel to my second novel Run to the Bluewhich my publishers may be interested in. It’s set here in Greece and there’s no substitute for being “on location” to capture atmosphere and flavour.

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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?

If you were able to be whisked away to Greece, then any number of little bars and tavernas overlooking the brightest sea, with the most beautiful smells of wild thyme and bougainvillea, and the sounds of cicadas and a little chilled Ibiza drifting across from the bar. If not, then Norwich, close to where I live.  

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?

Helena Bonham Carter! I always imagine her playing Betzy Blac, one of the central characters in Killer in the Crowd. A great actor. And, being a fan of romantic films, Hugh Grant. Secret confession, but Music and Lyrics is one of my favourites. I’m a sucker for romantic endings! I’ve a perfect role for him in my next book too, if it were ever to hit the screen – hey I can dream!

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

I suppose I evolved into writing fiction from being a radio and TV reporter and broadcaster. I love telling stories, whether for news or in documentaries. I always wanted to write fiction to entertain, excite and make people smile. My stories are for lonely nights, beautiful days, beachside bars, and poolsides. I want to take people on a roller coaster of adventure, knowing that however bad it looks, my women will always beat overwhelming odds and win through in the end. Often finding love on the way. As I say, although crime, mystery is the driver for my stories, I’m a romantic at heart. 

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

The biggest challenge was not realizing how much re writing and editing was needed to finally make my stories ready for the world. Proudest moment, was actually holding a copy of Killer in the Crowd and thanking my wife Fi, for putting up with my 10 hours a day writing schedule and the loud music coming from my little room! Also having a wonderful reviewer/blogger give the book “A Million Stars!”

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’m sure every writer says this but, to get a film/TV deal. It’s not the money I’m chasing, I want to see the stories come to life on screen because I think they would entertain. Having had a successful career in TV, my books are, I feel, very visual.   

What are have planned that you are really excited about?

My second novel, Run to the Blue – Tess Anderson is a top TV reporter and she’s running for her life! Her husband’s affair with a cabinet minister is all over the press and a London crime boss wants her dead. Running to the Greek islands, she’s rescued by a handsome, mysterious American yachtsman. But who is he, and who can Tess trust as her enemies close in?

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 here in Greece. Too many wonderful locations to pick just one, but Lakka on Paxos, Naoussa on Paros and Milos stand out. My bucket list? To live long enough to see a world where all women and girls are safe and respected.  

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Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I once got lost with a guest star when I worked on BBC Breakfast Time. On my first day as an Associate Producer, I took Brian Blessed up to the attic because I forgot where the studio was! 

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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’?

My favourite book is still One Day by David Nicholls, but I wish he’s re write the ending! However, I’d love you to read Run to the Blue my second novel due out this summer. It’ll whisk you over here to Greece – Paxos and Corfu, and take you to some secret bays where my protagonist Tess will find out, it’s easy to fall in love despite the danger.

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Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY. The multi-million copy bestseller that captures the experiences of a generation.

‘I can imagine you at forty,’ she said, a hint of malice in her voice. ‘I can picture it right now.’

He smiled without opening his eyes. ‘Go on then.’

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year?

And the year after that? And every year that follows?

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?

Not to drink too much! However nice it is, and this Boutari, well, easy to have another, but I mustn’t!

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

A walk along a quiet beach. Listening to music. Time with family and friends. Reflecting on the past but always looking ahead.  

Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Phil, although I wish I was in Greece doing this in person!

Phil’s book, Killer in the Crowd, is out now in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

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Imagine being an ordinary teacher with an unexciting life, except you have a secret – your mum was an outrageous punk star loved by millions, who vanished when you were just seven years old. You always wondered what happened to her, was she dead or somehow still alive? Then, the man you believed to be your father, a fading old rock star, is murdered, and his death linked to your mum’s disappearance.

Suddenly, the press announce you apparently have a brother – an international American superstar, a man who turns your life and your emotions upside down. Determined to find the truth, you lead your mum’s old band on tour. Four aging women former punks, rekindling their youth to help you succeed. You play your mum’s part as the singer, to elicit stories from fans to find out what really happened to her, wherever it takes you and whatever the cost. It’s a gig you just can’t miss!

As a TV Newsreader, Reporter and Producer for both BBC East and ITV Anglia, Phil Johnson covered everything from tracking down criminals in Spain and going on high-octane police chases, to interviewing pop stars, politicians and celebrities. P N Johnson was also the face and voice of Crimestoppers in the eastern region for many years and created the successful TV series: “999 Frontline”. Now living near Norwich, P N Johnson loves music, travelling, walking, and sailing, and bringing exciting new characters with amazing stories to the page.

Connect with Phil:

Twitter: @PhilJohnson01

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The 2022 Romantic Novel Award Winners’ Interviews with…. Rosie Hendry

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I’m back from my Easter holidays and back into the blogging life and, to kick off spring on the blog, I’m delighted to welcome 2022 RONA award-winning author, Rosie Hendry, on to talk about her writing and her book, The Mother’s Day Club, which won this year’s Romantic Saga Award.

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Rosie, huge congratulations on your win. How surprised were you to hear your name read out as the winner of the award on the night? Has it sunk in yet?

I was absolutely stunned! To be short-listed was thrilling but I never thought I would win. It all happened quickly after my name was read out and I had to go up to receive the award. I’m so grateful I took my friend Jenni’s advice to write something down to help me in case it should happen, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to string a coherent sentence together to thank people. 

It took a while to sink in, but now when I look at the award, which I can see from where I work, it makes me smile and fills me with joy. It’s especially precious as I struggled with writing The Mother’s Day Club and nearly gave up on it.

What does it mean to you to have won this award? What effect do you think it will have on your future career? What reaction have you had to your win so far?

It means a huge amount as it was chosen by readers. There were many excellent sagas in the category so be chosen as winner is a huge accolade – thank you so much to all the readers. It’s a massive boost to my confidence in my writing and I hope will encourage more readers to try The Mother’s Day Club for themselves. 

The support from fellow writers and readers has been amazing. My dear friends from the Norfolk & Suffolk RNA chapter, those who were there on the night, and others who were sending their congratulation messages virtually was brilliant. It felt like a win for us all as we are a close group who support each other’s ups and downs with our writing life. 

What inspired this particular story and what do you think it is about the story which made it stand out to the judges?

I was doing research at the Imperial War Museum for another book and stumbled across a first- hand account of an expectant mother being evacuated on the day war was declared. She was walking to Liverpool Street Station with other expectant mothers when news came that war had been declared, and shortly after the first air-raid sirens went. The image was so powerful I knew I wanted to use it one day. I’d had no idea that expectant mothers were evacuated as the history we see focuses on the children, so I wanted to tell the mothers’ story. From the reaction I’ve had from readers, they didn’t know about this part of our history either and have been interested to learn more. 

The book is also set on my home turf in Norfolk, in a house partly inspired by the one I grew up in a village. There’s a good dose of my family history and my experience of growing up on a small holding in there too. I think all of this has combined into a story which readers have enjoyed.

How important is research to your writing process? How long does it normally take you to complete and do you do it prior to starting the book or as the story progresses?

Research is key – the characters and setting are mainly fictional but based on real events and places. It’s very important for me to get my facts rights, both to honour those living then and to portray an accurate story of those times. I owe it to readers who invest time in reading the book to get my facts right. 

I usually spend about three weeks researching to build up my knowledge of what I need but will also do a bit as I go along. I’m a planner so getting most of the research done first helps me get the story worked out. With writing historical I must make sure my timelines work with both international, national and local wartime events – I have charts to keep track of things!

Your books are extremely popular. What do you think it is that draws people to sagas?

Fascination with times gone past, learning about social history and seeing how women dealt with what was thrown at them. One of the reasons I like writing WWII fiction is that women were required to do jobs they never would have been allowed to do before. Pushed out of their comfort zone they did brilliantly. It makes for great change and conflict, and perfect storytelling material.

What do you think readers in the modern day learn from reading about the struggles of the women you write about in your books?

That women had it tough and yet they coped in the most extraordinary of circumstances. There was also a great sense of camaraderie and community which is sometimes lacking now. 

What do you have coming up next in your writing? Will you be exploring more stories involving these characters?

The Mother’s Day Victory, which carries on from The Mother’s Day Club came out on March 3rd and has been received well by readers. I’ve started a follow-on series with the same characters and setting called the Rookery House series, the first one of which – A Wartime Welcome at Rookery House – is out on the 7th June. There will be more books to come in this new series, keeping up with the characters as the war progresses and more changes come to the village.

Rosie, thank you so much for chatting to me today, it’s been fascinating to hear from you. Good luck with the new books.

Rosie’s RONA award-winning novel, The Mother’s Day Club, is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Rosie Hendry, Romantic Saga, Romantic Novel Awards 2022, The Mothers Day Club BOOK COVER

Will friendship and motherhood keep the Women on the Home Front safe from war?

Norfolk, 1939

When the residents of Great Plumstead, a small and charming community in Norfolk, offer to open their homes to evacuees from London, they’re expecting to care for children. So when a train carrying expectant mothers pulls into the station, the town must come together to accommodate their unexpected new arrivals . . .

Sisters Prue and Thea welcome the mothers with open arms, while others fear their peaceful community will be disrupted. But all pregnant Marianne seeks is a fresh start for herself and her unborn child. Though she knows that is only possible as long as her new neighbours don’t discover the truth about her situation.

The women of Great Plumstead, old and new, are fighting their own battles on the home front. Can the community come together in a time of need to do their bit for the war effort?

Rosie Hendry lives by the sea in North Norfolk with her husband and children. A former teacher and research scientist, she started off writing short stories for magazines, her stories gradually becoming longer as her children grew bigger. She writes uplifting, heart-warming historical fiction based on true events from our social history. Listening to her father’s tales of life during the Second World War sparked her interest in this period and she loves researching further, seeking out gems of real-life stories which inspire her writing.

Connect with Rosie:

Website: http://rosiehendry.com

Facebook: Rosie Hendry

Twitter: @hendry_rosie

Instagram: @rosiehendryauthor

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The 2022 Romantic Novel Award Winners’ Interviews with…. Kathryn Freeman

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Today I am delighted to be joined on the blog by one of the joint winners of the Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy. Talking about her award-winning novel, Mr Right Across The Street, it’s… Kathryn Freeman.

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Kathryn, congratulations on being one of the joint winners of the Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy in the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards 2022 and thank you very much for agreeing to appear on my blog.

It’s absolutely my pleasure, Julie. Thank you so much for inviting me. I had such fun answering your questions ☺

How surprised were you to hear your name announced as one of the winners on the night of the awards and have you come down off the ceiling yet?

I was utterly gob smacked to hear my name! I’d been sure I wasn’t going to win – I’d seen the other short-listed names – so I didn’t bother writing a speech. Something I instantly regretted as I made my way to the stage and saw the big microphone… 

The award sits proudly on the shelf behind my desk and makes me smile every time I look at it, which I do a rather embarrassing number of times a day. So yep, I’m still on the ceiling!

Can you tell me a bit about your writing career so far and what has brought you to the point of being a RONA award-winning author?

Mine is definitely not an overnight success story! I started writing my first book in 2009. Undeterred by rejections from every agency and publisher in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, I wrote a second book and this time sent it off to the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme (something I would recommend for all budding romance novelists). Acting on their feedback I then wrote a second. And a third. It was this third book that gained me my first publishing contract in 2013. After that, I gave up my job to become self-employed so I could juggle work with my dream of writing books. Nine years and eighteen books later I’m now with One More Chapter and have this fabulous award sitting on my shelf ☺ 

What inspired the story in Mr Right Across The Street and why do you think it particularly appealed to the judges?

The story was inspired a little by lockdown. My editor would stare out of her window as she worked from home and started to wonder who was living in the flat opposite her. What if he was attractive? What if he started sending messages to her via a note in his window? I think this unusual way of communicating appealed to the judges and certainly it was something I had huge fun writing. I loved the idea of my hero, Luke, using images as clues to where he was taking Mia when he asked her out on dates. A bit like a romantic Pictionary!  

What is your favourite thing about being a writer and what do you find the hardest part of a career in writing? What advice would you give to any aspiring authors reading this piece?

My favourite part of being a writer of romance is that I get to fall in love all over again as I immerse myself in my characters. The hardest part was the initial four years – all those rejections. All that self-doubt. All those words written, wondering whether anyone else would read them. Some of that self-doubt remains and the hardest part now is waiting for the reviews to come in each time a book is published. 

My advice to aspiring authors is to write, write, write. Get that first book written and send it out for feedback. Then write the second. If you want to be a writer badly enough, it will happen – it’s just a question of never giving up. 

Authors often describe their characters taking on lives of their own and changing the direction of the novel as it is written, how much control did you have over the characters in this book, or did they insist on going their own way once you released them from your imagination on to the page?

Great question! I start out with a biography for my characters and an idea of the key turning points of the story which doesn’t change. However the detail within that, how the characters get to these turning points, comes as I write and become more familiar with them. In Mr Right Across the Street, Luke was always going to send messages to Mia via his window, but the more I got to know him, the more he took control of what those messages said and how he was going to use them to woo Mia. And though in my outline he always owned a bar, I didn’t realise how much fun he was going to have with cocktails!

Are you a plotter or a pantster when it comes to your writing? Do you have a particular approach to getting the words on the page, a favourite time and place to write, or do you have to squeeze it in where you can?

I think I’m part way between the plotter and pantster – an outliner! I write a four to five page outline upfront, and a detailed biography of the main characters. Then I dive in. I think it’s important not to get too bogged down with finessing in this first draft; I prefer to get the words down and worry about sharpening them up on the next read through. I write in my study and it’s my job, so I do it every day. It’s just that unlike a lot of jobs, I happen to LOVE mine ☺

Much as we all like to celebrate past successes, our focus soon has to turn forwards and on to the next project. What do you have in the pipeline and what influence do you see winning this award having on your writing and future career?

My next book is called The Italian Job and is out in May. It features Anna and Jake, ex neighbours who rub each other up the wrong way but find themselves pretending to be a couple so they can apply for the dream job of managing a castle on Lake Como, accommodation included. Little do they realise when they jet off to Italy, how difficult that pretense will prove to be.  

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As for if the award, it’s certainly helped with some of that self-doubt I mentioned and has made me even more glad I pursued my own dream job ☺

Kathryn, thank you for chatting with me, I’ve really enjoyed listening to you talking about your writing and wish you luck with the new book.

Kathryn’s winning novel Mr Right Across The Street is available now in all formats and you can buy your copy here.

Kathryn Freeman, Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy, Romantic Novel Awards 2022, Mr Right Across the Street BOOK COVER

Mia Abbott’s move to Manchester was supposed to give her time and space from all the disastrous romantic choices she’s made in her past. But then the hot guy who lives opposite – the one who works out every day at exactly 10 a.m., not that Mia has noticed thank-you-very-much – starts leaving notes in his window…for her.

Bar owner Luke Doyle has his own issues to deal with but as he shows Mia the sights of her new city he also shows her what real romance looks like for the first time. And when he cooks up a signature cocktail in her honour, she realises that the man behind the bar is even more enticing than any of his creations. And once she’s had a taste she knows it will never be enough!

For as long as she can remember, Kathryn Freeman has always wanted to write a book. It may have had something to do with her obsession with reading romance. Real life interfered and she headed off in a different direction, becoming a pharmacist before joining the pharmaceutical industry. She did end up writing, but it was about disease and medicines. Decades later, she’s finally doing what she always wanted to do. With a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), all the romance in her life is in her head. Then again, his unstinting support of her career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

Connect with Kathryn:

Website: https://kathrynfreeman.co.uk/

Facebook: Kathryn Freeman

Twitter: @KathrynFreeman1

Instagram: @kathryn.freeman_author

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The 2022 Romantic Novel Award Winners’ Interviews with…. Sheila Norton

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Today I am delighted to be chatting to one of this year’s RONA Award Winners about her win and her writing. Winner of the Christmas / Festive Holiday Romantic Novel Award for her book, Winter at Cliff’s End Cottage. It’s author… Sheila Norton.

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Sheila, congratulations on your win and thank you very much for agreeing to appear on my blog. The Christmas/Festive Holiday Romantic Novel Award was a new category for the awards in 2022. How does it feel to be the winner of the inaugural award?

To be honest, it still feels slightly unreal! I had noticed, during last year, that there was a new award category, and wondered whether my book would be a fit. It’s set in the winter but not specifically at Christmas (although Christmas does happen during the story), so I thought probably not, and anyway I wouldn’t have had the nerve to suggest that my book could be a contender! So it was my editor who entered it, and I didn’t find this out until I got the email saying it had been shortlisted. I was so thrilled about being shortlisted, I honestly hadn’t allowed myself to think any further. So when my name was called out as the category winner, I was stunned! It’s such a massive honour. I keep looking at the award and smiling to myself! The fact that the winners are chosen by volunteer readers makes it all the more special, as it’s readers, of course, that we all want to please with our stories.

How long after you started writing did it take you to get published? Have you had any formal training in creative writing and do you think this is helpful for an author on the path to publication? Do you have any tips for those of us still toiling up the publication hill?

I was writing little stories for my friends almost as soon as I was old enough to write, and I had poems published in the school magazine when I was a bit older. So it was always ‘my thing’ – I was lucky enough that it came naturally to me, and no, I never had any training or lessons in creative writing. I’m sure they would be helpful for people who want to start from scratch as adults, but when I was younger, there was nothing of the kind on offer anyway! In my case, I always wanted to be an author but didn’t know how to go about getting published, so I would have found that kind of advice useful, if only there had been anywhere to get it!  As it happens, I went down the route of writing short stories before ever attempting a novel, and I do think this was a good ‘apprenticeship’. For over a decade, I was quite successful with my short stories and that gave me more confidence. After finally writing my first novel when I was in my early fifties, it took me eighteen months of submitting to agents and publishers before it was accepted. So I’d advise anyone to be patient, don’t expect overnight success! – and definitely don’t give up. And – this might sound obvious – only write if it’s what you love doing more than anything else. It’s very rarely the route to fame or riches, but if you love it, do it for its own sake, and keep the day job until you’re sure you don’t need it!

You have had a career spanning an amazing twenty years so far and this is your twenty-fourth novel, with hopefully many more to come. What is the secret to keeping a successful writing career going for so long? How do you keep your ideas and your writing fresh?

First of all, it’s important to say that success isn’t always ongoing! I’ve had some serious ups and downs in my career, disappointments as well as successes. Getting a publishing contract doesn’t mean you’re set for life, and having learnt this lesson, I now resolve to just enjoy the highs while they last! I think being adaptable is very important. For instance, I took up self-publishing when I was ‘between publishers’, and enjoyed the experience. Then I got the offer of a new publication deal, by writing something completely different from before, so I grabbed the chance. Over the years I’ve written in a few different sub-genres, so that in itself has stopped me getting stale. And it’s true, it’s not always easy to come up with fresh ideas. I often use the ‘what if . . .?’ way of thinking; imagine a couple of characters, what their relationship is, and then think: ‘What if this, or that, happened to them?’ It’s a starting point, anyway.

I know that the publication schedule often requires authors to be writing Christmas books in the height of summer. Was this the case with this book? What do to channel the festive spirit into your writing?

Strangely enough I didn’t set out to write a Winter/Christmas story in this case, but once I got started on it, I decided a winter background would work well with the scenario of the old house sitting bleakly on the edge of the cliff. And I actually finished writing this book quite a long time before it was published, because I knew that, once again, my agent and I needed to find a new publisher for it. This was because my previous publisher wasn’t going to be producing fiction anymore (yes, another setback!). Also, I then had lots of extra writing time, due to the lockdowns. So I’m not even sure, now, whether I was writing it during winter, spring or summer! Probably all of them! But yes, of course, we do have to try not to be influenced by the weather outside . . . or by anything else going on outside our stories, really! I think, while I’m writing, I’m so caught up in the story and the lives of my characters that I forget about the real world – which is sometimes a blessing!

You have said that this has been your favourite book to write so far. What is it about this book that you enjoyed creating so much? What inspired this particular story?

I loved creating the characters in this story; I always enjoy my characters, of course, but in this case, Stella – the older woman – seemed to take on a persona of her own. I wanted her to be a spiky, independent lady who’d led a really interesting life, overcome lots of difficulties and was determined not to complain or ask for help. The younger character, Holly, is a hard-working single mum who has her own problems and I loved describing how they became friends. I also put a little bit of World War 2 history in this story; I don’t write historical fiction and it’s only a few of Stella’s memories from her wartime childhood, but it was something different for me and added to the challenge. And there were poignant moments in the story; I love making my readers shed a tear as well as having a smile!

Aside from the fact that they have given you this lovely award, what other benefits have you gleaned from your membership of the RNA and what is your favourite thing about being a member?

I joined the RNA in 2003 when my first book was published. My editor told me about it; I hadn’t heard of it before then, so I didn’t have the benefit of joining their New Writers’ Scheme but would strongly recommend it for any new romantic fiction writers. But I’ve had other benefits: for instance, I’ve made some lovely author friends. My favourite thing about being a member is definitely my local ‘chapter’. We meet up once a month for lunch and a good chat (it was on Zoom during the pandemic of course), and the exchange of views, news, advice and support among us has been wonderful. I’ve also benefited from advice and encouragement from other RNA authors all over the country on social media, and met up with some of them at various events over the years. Everyone who takes on voluntary ‘jobs’ with the RNA gives up their time and help for us all, and I have so much gratitude and respect for them, from the Chair to those who help with the events, the magazine, the website, helping to secure PR opportunities like this for us! – and so much more. So thank you, RNA – I’m so glad I found you!

What can we expect from you next in your writing?

Like all my recent novels, the next one will be set in a fictitious location in Devon, and this time the central characters will be two neighbours, both of whom are at turning points in their lives and trying to come to terms with their new circumstances. This book – I won’t mention the title, as they are so often changed at this point! – is due for release later in the year, but I don’t yet have a definite publication date as it’s currently going through the editing process. While this is happening, I’m already working on the next novel to follow this one – and that will be a story about two sisters. We always need to be a couple of steps ahead! Beyond that . . . well, I intend to keep writing as long as I’m physically and mentally capable. So I hope to keep coming up with more ideas for heartwarming, character-led stories. 

Meanwhile, thanks so much for this interview and congratulations on your great blog!

That’s very kind of you to say, but it would be nothing without you great authors and your books, which give me so much to write about, so thank you!

Sheila’s winning novel Winter at Cliff’s End Cottage is available now in all formats and you can buy your copy here.

Winter at Cliff's End Cottage

Cliff’s End Cottage is a local landmark. Perched on the South Devon coast, its garden has begun slowly toppling into the sea, yet the elderly and infamously stubborn owner Stella refuses to leave her home. When Holly, a young journalist and single mum struggling to make ends meet, decides to interview Stella about her life, at first she’s given short shrift. However, helped by a slice or two of cake and a couple of friendly cats, a tentative friendship begins to develop between the two lonely women.

Stella and Holly may live different lives, but over the cold winter nights, as Stella shares her story, the two women discover more and more in common. Time is running out for the house on the edge, but perhaps, together, Stella and Holly can find a new way forward.

Sheila Norton lives with her husband near Chelmsford in Essex, and part-time near Torquay in Devon. She spent most of her working life as a medical secretary, before retiring in 2008 to concentrate on her writing. During the years she spent bringing up her three daughters, she took various jobs including teaching the piano and recorder, doing home typing, and working in a playgroup, but always wanted to be an author. She had over 100 short stories published before the acceptance of her first novel, published in 2003. She now has six grandchildren, and also has two cats – the latest in a succession of dogs and cats who have inspired some of her recent stories! When not working on her writing, Sheila most enjoys spending time with her family and friends, as well as reading, walking, playing the piano, and photography, and loves exploring the contrasting countrysides of Essex and Devon.

Connect with Sheila:

Website: www.sheilanorton.com
Facebook: Sheila Norton Author
Twitter: @NortonSheilaann
Instagram: @Sheilaann.norton

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Audiobook Review: The Curfew by T. M. Logan; Narrated by Richard Armitage

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Your son said he was home. Why did he lie?

I should have known something was wrong.I should have sensed it. Felt it in the air, like the build-up of pressure before a thunderstorm, that heavy, loaded calm.

The curfew….

Andy and Laura are good parents. They tell their son, Connor, that he can go out with friends to celebrate completing his exams, but he must be home by midnight.

The lie….

When Connor misses his curfew, it sets off a series of events that will change the lives of five families forever.

The truth?

Because five teenagers went into the woods that night, but only four came out. And telling the truth might mean losing everything….

What would you do?

Every time I read a book by T. M. Logan I say it is my favourite of his books. Well, I can honestly say, having read The Curfew, this is my absolute favourite of his books so far.

The book is mainly narrated by Andy, a GP who is father to two children, sixteen-year-old Connor and his younger sister, Harriet. His family live fairly ordinary lives in a middle class suburb of Nottingham, and nothing seems likely to change that, until the night that Connor misses his curfew.

The characterisations in this book were spot on perfect, particularly of the parents, and the reason I loved it so much was because I could absolutely feel the worry and anguish of Andy and his wife Claire as they were drawn into a nightmare involving their son. The only thing worse that finding your son embroiled in a police investigation, is for your child to go missing, and both of these horrors are faced by parents in this book and my heart was on edge for them the whole time as I put myself in their shoes. As a parent, this book is all your nightmares made manifest.

The genius of the writing is to bring tension and horror to a completely ordinary setting. Where the story takes place is the most unlikely setting for drama, but this is what causes the real tension, because this kind of thing could all too easily happen to any of us. You don’t have to suspend your belief very far to imagine yourself or your family in Andy’s shoes, and it will make you insides curl up with fear and make you rush to the end, praying for a happy outcome for these people who are much too like you and I for comfort. I have never been so happy to do my housework as when I was eager to get to the end of this book.

I have consumed all but one of T. M. Logan’s books in audio format and I can honestly say that these are the perfect books to listen to. I like an audiobook that has pacy action that holds my attention, otherwise it is too easy for my mind to wander and for me to lose my place. This never happens with these books. Richard Armitage does an absolutely amazing job of narrating this story (would you expect anything less?) to the extent that at times I actually forgot I was listening to an actor narrating a piece of fiction.

If you like a thriller that can truly be called domestic, The Curfew is one for you. But be prepared to hug your children close and, maybe, bring their curfew forward an hour until the stress of this story has faded from your mind. Brilliantly terrifying for any parent, this story was scarier to me than any Stephen King novel.

The Curfew is available now in audiobook, ebook and hardback formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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TM Logan’s thrillers have sold more than a million copies in the UK and been translated into 22 other languages for publication around the world.

His brand new novel, THE CURFEW, follows the events of a hot midsummer’s night, when five teenagers go up to the woods to celebrate the end of exams, and only four come out…

THE HOLIDAY was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and spent ten weeks in the Sunday Times paperback top ten. It has since won a Nielsen Bestseller Award and been made into a four-part TV drama with Jill Halfpenny for Channel 5.

Tim’s 2021 thriller, TRUST ME, begins when a woman is asked to look after a stranger’s baby on a train – only for the mother to vanish. When she looks in the baby’s things, she finds a note that says: ‘Please protect Mia. Don’t trust the police. Don’t trust anyone.’ His other books are THE CATCH, LIES and 29 SECONDS.

A former national newspaper journalist, Tim lives in Nottinghamshire with his family and writes in a cabin at the bottom of his garden.

For exclusive writing, new releases and a FREE deleted scene from Tim, sign up to the Readers’ Club.

Connect with T. M. Logan:

Website: https://www.tmlogan.com

Facebook: T M Logan Author

Twitter: @TMLoganAuthor

Instagram: @tmloganauthor

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