Posts Tagged ‘Author interview’

Cries of a Dying Waterhole

Wa’qaar A. Mirza

It was that one fateful meeting in Arlington cemetery that started a chain reaction. The outcome that no one could predict. Covert operations, hostages, chaos around the planet, world leaders at loggerheads… and this was just the beginning. Can Harry Firstone – despite his colourful past – pull off a geopolitical coup that could bring change to the social imbalances across world? Just as the spinning plates of his emotions start to wobble with incredible consequences. Does truth have any value? And is there anything that money can’t buy? Politicians, media, bankers. We live in a world where we choose to believe in lies, but it’s in the dirtiest of swamps that beautiful lotuses bloom. This book is set to inspire you. It will make you get up and do something good. Let your conscience take you on a roller-coaster ride and uncover something you never thought you could.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I think it’s the fact that you have given life and personality to characters and then you are their puppeteer, you can do what you like and you are the master of their destiny. You can give them flaws as well as powers. But I suppose the most favourite thing is transforming the readers into another world, your world. That’s fun, taking people on a journey that you control giving them enjoyment.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
It has to be Jon, the protagonist. He has so many personal issues and his complex personality and still remains focussed in his challenges and goals. He is real and has the weaknesses that any human has often not found in hero characters. That’s what I like, a sensitive person, but who sees the bigger picture

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
I really like jasmine tea and mint tea one they are both good for you, (but you need to drink more water) and second it’s quick and easy to make and available everywhere you go. It’s not heavy and you can have several cups without doing any damage to your health, I always add a slice of lemon and sometimes honey. Never add honey to boiled water, its bad.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Yes, I am sure we all do. I check my emails and take calls, it’s bad I know and does break the thought; I am getting better and with my work, is hard to lock your self away for a day.

How do you research your books?
I have travelled very much and worked in the circle of political elite and ultra rich, this has helped. I read many journals and articles and books on poverty, on actions of the government. I think I subscribe to around 8 major journals like the Harvard Business review, National Geographic, New Philosophy and many others. I did a lot of reading on the all subjects in the in book and looked at the issues facing the planet form the views of the best in the world, such as Monbiot, Rosling, Franklin, Bartlett and Chomsky to mention a few. Spent 3 months just reading about why we are in this mess in the world. Spoke to bankers, politicians, and other professionals. Can’t find any novels on my subject that I wrote about, it’s unique. I spent time with philanthropy movements to get their take on things.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I think I am a plotter, I have a game plan, I know where the book and readers are going, but sometimes you just go for it in a chapter and your imaginations just runs wild, I guess like most writers your both depending how you feel that day, but very strategic in writing.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Well I love the ‘back to future’ films, I think the ability to go back and forth in time is crazy, just imagine how much good and bad could be done, must be the most amazing experience ever. I could spend a day in the land of pharaohs and then a day with the greatest people lived. I would love to interview those that have made and ruined this planet. May be giving them some ideas.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Robert Langdon, Dan Brown’s books. He is all I would like to do, combine science, art, history, politics etc. etc. Really is an amazing, solving problem with just a thread of history. The ability to solve problems under pressure is a skill I love and have I think.


Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: February 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 300
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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The Monumental Secret of the Crucifixion

Julian Boyle

Throughout the history of Christianity there have been those claiming a monumental secret. Often centered around the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris and associated with French esoteric circles like Debussy who wrote in a review:
“Perhaps it’s to destroy that scandalous legend that Jesus Christ died on the cross.”
But even Canon Alfred Lilley came back from St. Sulpice questioning the crucifixion. There must have been some documentation in the church that convinced these people of something portentous. BUT now searching links between the history of Rome and the latest Biblical research, we finally reveal the extraordinary facts that prove exactly what the monumental secret was and its validity making the revaluation of Christianity, as we knew it, inevitable.


TEN THINGS YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT WRITING

1. GO TO BED. This is not a silly answer, it is very true. The reason I place it first is that it actually relates to my writing which is mainly non-fiction. I do nearly all my reading and research in bed. I should add that there are generally three times a day I go to bed. Once going to bed at night: secondly at siesta time: (my mum was Spanish so it comes naturally) and thirdly I often wake up around 3 am, get up, have a cup of tea and go back and read. This night one is a real test of the book as I either read pages and pages or it is so badly written that I drop off after a page. I have just struggled through such a book by a well-known Professor of Middle Eastern Religions (who shall remain nameless in case I meet him.)

I get my fiction from films so I mainly read non-fiction, related to historical subjects. You may think that being in bed is restrictive – but only in how bad my handwritten notes are. I write in the back of the book listing pages where there was something interesting. Here is the back page of my copy of Friedrich Nietzsche’s autobiography ‘Ecce Homo’ (behold the man) Pilate’s words when the flagellated Christ was brought before the rabble.

You see how bad my scribbles are. I was writing a play about the tumultuous relationship between Nietzsche and Richard Wagner. And as I read I marked interesting statements or events. Then when I started writing I would write, Wagner accusing Nietzsche of being rude – so I look at the back of my books and find here – 14 Rudeness (top right) – turn to page 14 and insert it into the writing to make Nietzsche reply, “Rudeness should not be undervalued, it is the most humane form of contradiction.”

Or alternatively there is a statement where Nietzsche ‘attacks’ Wagner, -17 Attack (top right) – and I wind the conversation round to it. “My friend you are applauded by a culture that confuses the artful with the rich and the late with the great.” The part in italics is his written words. So you see how the basics of the play all come from my research in bed.

We put the play on in Edinburgh and the official Review wrote ‘How anyone could write such an intelligent, seem-less script analyzing the complex ideas of the composer Richard Wagner and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is beyond me. “ But the thing is, it is beyond me too – I have shown you the mechanism but I still don’t quite know how it all came together, it just seemed to happen, thanks to all that preparatory reading in bed which maybe sank in to my subconscious as I fell asleep. Performing the play was both scary and exciting as it has music section that synch with the dialogue. The ending was tremendous as it used the 2001 theme that Straus wrote for Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Sprake Zarathustra” while Nietzsche goes mad on stage. As most of the play takes place in the Turin Lunatic asylum, we were able to film it cheaply. An American Philosophy magazine wrote glowingly saying it was ‘Masterful’ and now it is used in US Universities as a teaching aid. – https://goo.gl/ofmqeo

2. MAKING FILMS. Of course when I am not writing I am making films as that is my main job. Writing is extra. I either am directing my own films or editing or shooting special Fxs for friends like Terry Gilliam. I also direct Pop videos. You might remember Kate Bush’s ‘Cloudbusting’ with Donald Sutherland, which I directed. After that I got lots of girl singers asking me to do their video. But then Iron Maiden got in touch to do their clip ‘Can I Play With Madness’ and I lost all my girl singer requests and only got Heavy Metal Bands instead.

3. HUSTLING. Of course making films requires a lot of hustling to get them off the ground. I am totally useless at the process. I couldn’t even sell a bottle of water to someone lost in the desert. That is why I really enjoyed doing the play ‘Twilight of the Gods’ as one writes it, casts it, hires a venue and go straight into production without all the hustling.

4. SPORT. I play football twice a week and squash. One of the football games is with a bunch of celebs, like Alan Davies and Mark Stong, the game is organised by the playwright Patrick Marber. I think I have a hunters instinct and where I don’t like running or swimming back and forth, if you give me a ball to chase I am off on the hunt. I have been injured the last few months and from not playing I got a clear understanding of the difference between squash and football. I miss the squash running and chasing the ball down, the physicality: while football is a team came and in defence (where I play) it is about making rapid structural decisions about your own position and moving your fellow defenders around you. These decisions are too quick to be made consciously so clearly they are being made by the right side of the brain. I am very, very left sided, brain wise, and I think football is one of the only activities I do where I know I am using the right only to make decisions. And I am missing it.

5. AVOIDING WINTER. I think it is my Spanish blood that makes me hate being in the UK over winter. In the old days I was tied to a desktop computer to write. This was also true for editing films. Originally, like on ‘Life of Brian’, we edited the actual film in an editing room. Then things changed to computer editing. Terry Jones and I bought one to edit his film, ‘Wind in the Willows’. It cost in all £65,000 plus five big heavy 9 gig. drives, costing, can you believe, £2,000 each. Forty-five gigs, we thought we were the bees knees. Of course after two years we had to throw the whole thing in the bin as we couldn’t even give it away. Now with my trusty laptop I am free to head south. I can write and even edit anywhere. I remember editing my film ‘Chemical Wedding’ on an aeroplane. And that is my very favourite place to write somewhere warm like Tenerife, just 4 hours away but under palm trees and dripping bougainvillea, with the sun glistening off the sea. I remember the Python’s going to the Caribbean to write ‘Life of Brian’. I think it was a tax dodge – but under those tropical skies they did a wonderful job. At home I have a study but I don’t write there. My bedroom is at the top of the house with a balcony overlooking London and I have put a desk up there and that is where I write. Perhaps I need to look up from my work and have a view. Perhaps it is one of my skills, having a good eye as I direct and light films. I can spot a good shot not intellectually but emotionally. I love places where the sun sets over the sea, for instance my favourite place in France is Biscarrosse Plage near Biaritz on the Atlantic coast, as you can sit and have your sardines with a glass of Bordeaux and watch that magical moment as the sun goes down over the sea. I was once in Goa, which also faces the sunset over the Arabian Sea. Nice place but you must take your mosquito tablets. On the first day I went down to the beach got a beer and sat watching the sunset. Nothing! I felt nothing at all. Must be the jet lag. But the second day the same. And there I was again on the third with my beer and feeling nothing. Something was wrong. I stopped taking the malaria pills. Next day the sun fell towards the sea, the beer in my hand glowed, my heart swelled, I was back to normal. Those bloody pills were dumbing down my senses. That is when I realized I was not reacting intellectually to visual beauty, but emotionally. This was weird for me as I am very, very left brained. I wondered how anyone could live like that without being inspired by visual beauty. In every place I go my family know I have a sunset bar. One of my favourite unspoilt villages in Tenerife is El Medano. Although it is actually on the east coast there is a projection into the sea and there is my Sunset bar where you will find me at around 6.30 with my glass of wine.

6. THE PUB. Working on the computer all day makes you feel a bit isolated so I tend to pop in the pub in the evenings, not to talk but just to be around people. I have some pretty rough pubs I like to go in as you get more animated people in them. But if there is a time limit on my work I will take the laptop with me and write there with a glass of wine and a sandwich. Posh pubs don’t let you eat your own food in them. I was watching football on the TV in the Boston, one of my rough pubs, and a Film Director friend, Sam Miller came in and spotted me in the corner. I told him I was in the corner because I was having oysters with my wine and the locals would be a bit put off by me slipping live oysters down my throat. Sam plays football in my celebs game he enjoyed telling them with great glee how he found me in the corner of the rough old Boston, sipping wine and eating oysters.

7. LECTURING. I do several types of lecturing, sometimes in Film Schools like the London Film Academy or the Havana Film School. Other times in Universities like Sheffield or Penn State in America. In these academic institutions I talk on a variety of subjects, from Film Directing, Film Lighting and editing. But I also give informal talks to clubs and association and then I talk on more popular subjects like ‘Making Films with Monty Python.” I am now being invited to talk about crucifixion as I am now an expert after Crucifying the Pythons. Favourite amongst Python fans is that I was the Policeman who brought ‘Holy Grail’ to an end. Well we didn’t have much money and all the crew had to be extras.

8. FAMILY LUNCH. My Spanish mother always liked us to all get together for lunch and even after she died we still get together for a Sunday lunch or an evening birthday celebration. My brother and I; our wives, our kids with their spouses and the grandkids. At Christmas there were 15 who sat down to dinner. We celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, the Spanish way, which works out great because as most families go through several partners, nowadays the family come to us for Christmas Eve and then to the other halves for Christmas day. Works perfect. The other good thing about Christmas Eve is that we can have Father Christmas come after dinner. My house has a pitched roof at the front but a flat roof at the back so Father Christmas appears on the roof and all the kids are told he is on the roof. They run out and from the front it looks like he is walking on the pitch of the roof. We adults take turns in donning the costume, and it was my turn this year. I gave such a great performance, I fooled everyone under 4 years old.

9. SHOPPING. As I do quite a bit of cooking I also pop down the shops and shop for the basics. Our High street has about 8 charity shops and a car boot sale every Saturday. My wife loves the Charity shops and I have been amazed at the sensational clothes she has bought there. So I have found myself, after shopping for the food, joining her in her quest for a bargain, and have pulled some great bargains for myself.

10. PHOTOGRAPHY. I am not an avid Photographer but there are moments where I feel I must capture the image. We can be walking along and suddenly something gets me. Here for instance we were walking along the beach at Hollywood. (No not Hollywood, Los Angeles as there is no beach there, but, Hollywood Florida.) I said to the wife, “Stand on that wall.” And got this classic picture. You cant see she is on a wall but at ground level it would not have worked.


Publisher: Chippenham Books
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 217
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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Hidden Colours

Nillu Nasser

Each evening, nestled in Berlin’s Treptower Park, the immigrant circus comes to life.
When Yusuf fled Syria, he lost everything. Now the circus, with its middle-eastern flair, is the only home he knows. When the lights go on, the refugees dazzle their audience, but off-stage tensions flare.
Ellie is passionate about the circus and drawn to its broken people. Even so, if she wants to keep her job at the newspaper, she must head up a campaign against it.
One night, in the midst of a show, two young circus boys come to blows. With the circus at risk of closure, Ellie must convince her readers that we can have compassion for those we fear, or Yusuf will be forced to uproot again.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I write for the clarity it brings, that sense of immersion and wonder. I can take the time to weave intricate sentences or get the nuance just right without worrying that it is already someone else’s turn to speak. I can examine a thought carefully, tangibly, without it slipping through the fog of my brain like a wandering child at a funfair. In a world of constant change and fleeting lives, writing a book is an act of love and attention.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?

It’s so hard to choose, but in Hidden Colours my favourite character is probably Zul the Clown, one of my protagonist’s best friends.

Before writing Zul, clowns used to scare me: big red noses, white-painted faces, windsail trousers and giant shoes. Pennywise in It is murderous rather than funny. Heath Ledger’s awe-inspiring Joker in The Dark Knight is not a man you’d like to run into, even in daylight. They are not good-humoured buffoons performing slapstick and tricks; they are maniacs.

Towards the end of 2016, I read the story of a Syrian man called Anas al-Basha, who became a clown in Aleppo when it was besieged by fighting, to bring a smile to children there. He’d refused to leave the city and was killed by a strike at the age of twenty-four. My character Zul is based on Anas. I imagine his story continues here.

The Clown of Aleppo’s story made me aware of the humanitarian aspect of clowning. Clowns are compassionate and clever. They are artists, outliers and risk-takers. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. They remind us not to take ourselves seriously, to pick ourselves up when something goes wrong. The more I researched, the more I was struck by their empathy.

Zul doesn’t have much page time, but when he does, my heart goes out to him. He’s such a lovely guy despite trying circumstances. Maybe one day he’ll get his own novel.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?

It has to be a cuppa of Twinings Everyday Tea, which is beautifully rounded and a delight. The problem is that the moment I’ve made the tea (it has to be the right colour), I get engrossed in work and forget all about it. Cold tea just isn’t the same.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Yes I do! Not stretching enough, especially if I’m in full flow. I know from other writers that it’s best to stretch regularly before your body begins to creak. I also often begin my writing days listening to music with lyrics, when I know my focus is deeper and my pace quicker when I listen to instrumental music. I write while my children are at school so I really do need to wean myself off that initial temptation to have a singalong.

How do you research your books?
By the time I’ve committed to a story idea, I know the main character’s dilemma and the themes. Often, snatches of key scenes play out in my head like a film. By the time I begin writing the book in earnest, I know where I can draw on my own experience and where I have gaps. That’s key to finding out what work is needed before the drafting begins.

Next I turn to travel guides and photo books for setting details, non-fiction books for topics and speak to friends who can deepen my knowledge. For example, my research pile for Hidden Colours included books on circus history and maps of Berlin. Sometimes I watch movies that are knwn to have elements of my new project. The internet opens up a wormhole of unfiltered information, causing hours to disappear with the click of my trackpad.

I love meandering research, how stories are shaped by a chain reaction to materials I come across, and how ideas morph into something new. Even so, fiction writers aren’t historians. My aim is to write believable and authentic stories. At some point you have to jump into the story and not look back.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I leave my pantsing for poetry. That is a freer form for me: more emotion than logic. For a novel, just letting my words rain down on paper without knowing where I’m going would be too kamikaze.

I like to figure out my characters and their desires, as well as the themes of the novel early in the process. Then I spend a few days thinking about what scenes might suit the story. I organise these in a way that would suit a novel’s arc. The beginning and end points often stay the same, but the middle often changes once I get under the skin of my characters. Then the story takes on a shape of its own.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
I’d choose Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere or James Cameron’s Avatar. I write literary fiction, sometimes with elements of magical realism, but I also read fantasy, and who would choose to live in the real world when you could live in a fantastical one?

When Avatar first came out, I read news stories about how some fans became depressed at the thought that they would never be as entwined with nature as the Na’vi on Pandora.

Neverwhere is equally brilliant. I live in London and it made me see the city in a new light, reinventing well known landmarks, imbuing old streets and forgotten corners with magic.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I love female characters who are central to the story. Ones who may sometimes be confused or misguided, but are essentially brave and kind like Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood has just announced a sequel. Hooray!), Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird or Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter.

Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publication Date: December 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 315
Genre: Literary
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Lilith Gene

M. Cassol

Vesna, a Serbian PhD student in Art History living in Tuscany, is a master rock climber. The only thing she can’t get a grip on is her love life. Beset by terrifying panic attacks that strike every time she allows herself to be intimate with another woman, she strives to avoid the so-called mermaids in her life. Olga is a widened-eye nurse trainee in Sarajevo. It’s 1912 and Olga is all too keen to document her life and the world changing around her in her diaries. Olga’s passion for nursing is only rivalled by her love for her anguished boyfriend Gav. The arrival of the obscure Patient J.D. 347 at the hospital is about to change everything for Olga. Everything will change for Vesna too, when she meets the compelling art restorer Rafaella Guaritore. Rafaella holds the key to Vesna’s research into influential women painters of the Renaissance and the metaphorical Lilith Gene that all the rebellious ladies in art are believed to share. Will Rafaella hold the key to solving Vesna’s mysterious recurring dreams and find the root of all her anxiety? Or is the answer to Vesna’s problems hidden in Olga’s diaries?


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
The learning curve that is researching for the plot. In “The Lilith Gene” I spent hours reading about history, art, science and the more I read, the more it changed the plot. It was almost like the story had it’s own way of conducting the development and the book turned out to be nothing like what I had in mind at the beginning, transforming into something far better that I thought I could produce.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
If I say that characters are like children, I will sound too cliche, but indeed all of them are special. In “The Lilith Gene” if I had to choose one, it would be Perzie. I don’t want to spoilt the plot too much, but she was based on a true magnificent woman and everyone should read about her. Her name is Milunka Savić and she was a Serbian war hero and an extraordinary lady.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?

When I have the privilege of having a day all to myself to write, I am stuck in a constant loop of “is it too late for coffee/too early for wine?”

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
When I am thinking, I tend to to be very fidgety with my fingers and my cuticles end up paying the price.

How do you research your books?
Internet. Human kind’s greatest achievement. But also tend to talk a lot with people that have been through situations that are featured in the book. For “The Lilith Gene” I had long chats with people that suffer from anxiety (so I could describe the real feeling of a panic attack) and also people that have tried ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic plant called the Vine of Spirits, so what I’ve written could be as accurate as possible.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I am both really. With all the good intentions I had a straight forward plot in mind, but clearly the women that live in my head and are telling their stories trough me have other ideas and I end up in a complete different place.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s Amazon island. Not only it’s the lesbian paradise, I really would not mind looking a Gal Gador all day long.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?

I would definitely apply for the position of Uma Thurman’s side quick in Kill Bill. I can already see both of us, the Bride (AKA Black Mamba) and I, with matching outfits (although I would prefer a all red outfit and trainers instead of the yellow one) samurai swords, pursing the ultimate vengeance.

I would also need a strong killer name, being Brazilian would probably be something like “Amazonian Sucuri”.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 232
Genre: Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Brexit XXL

Vincent Pluchet

Plunge into post-Brexit Britain and follow Prime Minister Tracy Meller in the biggest struggle she has ever faced, as the country is hit by a huge crisis and her opponents leave her no respite. Meet ordinary people caught up in the storm. Visit Chequers and historical places where the action takes place.
London, 2022 Tracy Meller, the UK’s Conservative Prime Minister, is facing an unprecedented crisis.
Having halted the endless negotiations to leave the European Union four years earlier, Prime Minister Meller chose the most uncompromising of all possible exits, a “Brexit XXL” with serious consequences. The economy is at a standstill, the financial markets are panicking. The opposition Labour Party launches an attack on the Prime Minister with a promise of a return to the European Union. The country’s morale is at rock bottom: everyone is afraid for their jobs and losing faith in the future. As for Scotland, its thoughts are increasingly turning back to independence. Prime Minister Meller herself is beginning to doubt the wisdom of her decision…
Will the UK survive this historic crisis? Brexit XXL is a work of fiction about the most risky Brexit scenario, based on a detailed analysis of British political culture. Both realistic and instructive, the plot of the novel has a particular resonance today, encouraging reflection on the sovereignty of nations and the future of the European project..


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I marvel at the specific way in which books allow us to share emotions, knowledge and ideas, with people all around the world. It’s great to exchange ideas and get feedback.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Mrs Meller, the main protagonist, is my favourite character because though she is in a position of power, as Prime Minister, she is also very human. She has many weaknesses which her opponents use to attack her – she hesitates, she is sensitive. And she means well: she does what she thinks is best for her country, not just what is best for her politically. But is being a principled and nice person enough to be a good Prime Minister? She will experience many failures during her term of office. Would her less considerate, more opportunist opponents do better than her in the event? Mrs Meller raises the question of the balance between personality and power.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Tea with a spot of milk. Very British and not French at all!

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
My bad habit is that I sometimes stop writing for weeks! If I don’t have enough inspiration, I stop. But I know a regular writing discipline would be more efficient.

How do you research your books?
I do a lot of research. I read books and I trawl the internet. For “Brexit XXL”, I closely followed the news and publications on the topic, but I also did research about the places where the events of the book happen – like Chequers and the Black Country. And I like to share my findings.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser. When I started the book, I had no idea where it would take me. But for my next book, I’ll try to be a plotter! It saves a lot of headaches!

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
I like to be in the real world – sitting or travelling, and watching people and events. Once I sat in the main square in La Paz, Bolivia. It’s a small square, no bigger than the squares in many small towns. Around it are the Presidential palace, the Congress and the Cathedral. Everything was very peaceful, with pigeons and passers-by the only activity. But more than 150 revolutions and coups have taken place in that square. Talk about reality being more eventful than fiction!

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?

Definitely Guy Wick. He is a tough cookie, he has strong opinions and is not well behaved. But he is very cultured and is passionate about his beliefs. It would be good to be his friend and get to know him better.

Publisher: UK Book Publishing
Publication Date: August 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 212
Genre: Political Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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A Gift From Woolworths

Elaine Everest

Will the war be over by Christmas?
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?
A Gift from Woolworths is the next installment in Elaine Everest’s much-loved Woolworths series.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I love to escape to a time long ago and be able to write stories set in a time my parents spoke of and a town that has long gone because of over zealous developers. Doing this job means I get to read many books for research and also stay home in my pyjamas to work!

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
This is such a difficult question as I have grown to know and love my characters over the past five books I’ve been fortunate to invent some fascinating characters that I would love to meet in real life. I would have to say that in A Gift From Woolworths my favourite characters was Freda. I’ve out her through the mill in most of my books and she would so love to have a nice boyfriend and settle down like her friends. Perhaps the time has come…

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?

There is always a mug of coffee by my computer and I’ll drink it even when it has gone cold. I’m currently trying out the flavoured coffees from Kenco. I’m also trying to be health conscious and drink more water. Twinings have developed flavoured cold infusion bags to pop into water bottles. I have a selection of them to ensure I drink my two litres per day.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?

Far too many! Creeping off to Facebook to speak with fellow authors who have also escaped their work. Cake is another sin but I’m trying to be good and save it for celebrating successes with my novel-writing students at The Write Place. We bring cakes to class when someone has been placed in a writing competition or sold a short story, or signed a book contract. We eat many cakes, as they are quite a clever bunch!

How do you research your books?
First I think bout the storyline then I need to fit it around the social history of that time as well as local and national history – Woolworths also had it’s own history timeline. I then read through my research books to remind myself of that period in time. I’ll watch films made during the war years and I chat with anyone who has memories of Woolworths. I do feel that saga authors have to absorb the era they cover and then check facts. I really do enjoy my research and would gladly do that all day long if I didn’t have a book to write. Only yesterday I attended a workshop at my local archive centre that covers where my books are set. We started to talk about World War One and before I given much thought to my publisher’s plans for my books I had come up with a wonderful story line just by telling someone that my grandmother worked in munitions from WW1 To 1920. I really enjoy planning novels.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a professional historical novelist so I do have to plan each book. More so because my agent needs to show my publisher so they can agree for me to write the book. This will be a one-page outline. However, after that I will start to expand the one page into chapters and scenes and add historical detail etc. When I start to write each scene and just have a couple of lines to expand into thousands of works I become a pantser and allow my creative mind to take over.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
A lovey question! I would love to go back to the 1940s and live in the house in Erith where my character, Sarah, lived with her nan, Ruby. That was my house from 1972 – 1993 and I would love to see the house before people started to knock down walls to ‘modernise’ the Victorian bay fronted house. When we lived there after I married at the tender age of eighteen, back when I lived at number thirteen I would always say how I’d like to have experienced the war year in that house. It survive part from a few knocks and bruises so if I didn’t venture out for six years I’d be okay.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Can I have two? I would very much like to have been a friend of Dennis Wheatley’s character, the Duke de Richleau and be able to fight the dark forces in the 1930s onwards. My other friend would be Ruby Caselton, from my Woolworths books. An older grandmother character she would have been generous with her advice and cuddles and been able to solve any problem I took to her.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
Genre: Historical Saga
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Forsaken Genesis

M. J. Marinescu

The world has changed in more ways than one. Most humans live in the safety of the hive cities, massive industrial complexes walled off to the outside world. Yet, the dangers of the wilds are no longer limited to the outskirts. Rumours abound of strange things in the night. Sightings of subhumans and citizens being abducted, whisked off by men in vans or worse. The Department of Control keeps a close eye on the citizens of Avalon but who are they protecting?
Melissa thought the world outside the facility would be safe. Free from the pain and the incessant tests of the men in white coats but what she finds is a world unknown. Fleeting memories call to her like a siren song pleading for her to remember. Can she figure out her strange dreams and the shadowed figure who hounds her in her sleep? She must discover who she is and come to terms with the truth that may have been kept from her for good reason if she hopes to survive in this strange new world.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I love creating deep characters and worlds and sharing them with people. Being able to share my imagination with other people is the best feeling in the world.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
That’s a hard one because all of my characters have a special place in my heart. If I had to pick only one… I have to go with my MC Melissa. I think she represents all of us at times. She has doubts and fears and often doesn’t know herself, but she digs her heels in and soldiers on.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
I am not a morning person, so my good friend caffeine is always by my side. Coffee, tea or energy drink (Rockstar Supersours all the way!)

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I can sometimes get distracted by social media while working. I try to keep distractions to a minimum, but I’m also trying to improve my online presence, so it’s a fine line.

How do you research your books?
I draw from old folklore and mythology for much of my inspiration. For the world of Forsaken Genesis, I have taken from and mixed together much cultural lore on “monsters” and legends. Everything from the Agarthan Webway (aka Yggdrasil) to ghouls, vampires, ouroboros etc.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a bit of both. My main method is pantsing but I do have a clear goal in mind when I write. For example when I started Forsaken Genesis I knew where I wanted the story to start and where it would end. Once I have those two points in mind I fill in any other important things that I need to happen and then start writing. This lets me keep track of all the character arcs and important plot details but keep the story flexible enough that if a character jumps out at me or does something I didn’t expect at first to go with the flow instead of saying “NO!” and just following through a strict guideline.

To maybe shed some light on this in relation to the book (don’t worry no spoilers) pertains to two characters. Aoife, and Eldridge. Both had somewhat small parts in my original outline idea but as I started to write the characters demanded more attention and I was able to change the story and I think it’s better for it.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Well not that I’m biased or anything but I would love to live in the world my book takes place in. Magic, monsters, androids and high-tech gizmo’s what’s not to love. If I had to choose a different world from another author I would pick the world from Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series. It is a frighteningly beautiful world where three realms are connected (much like my own world) and it is filled with magic and political conflicts.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Dracula hands down. I just imagine he would throw the best parties. I’ve had a love of old gothic architecture since I was young and who better than Dracula to show you around all the old castles and landscapes of Europe.

Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: October 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 266
Genre: Cyberpunk Fantasy
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Olga’s Egg

Sophie Law

When Fabergé specialist Assia Wynfield learns of the discovery of a long-lost Fabergé egg made for the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, she appears to be the only person with misgivings. On travelling to St. Petersburg to see the egg, Assia moves among Russia’s new rich but finds herself pulled back into a family past she would rather forget. With news that a friend is missing, Assia starts to dig deeper. But does she really want the answers to the questions she is asking? Set in today’s glamorous world of Russian art with glimpses into the lives of the last Romanovs as their empire crumbled in the wake of the Russian Revolution, Olga’s Egg is an enthralling tale of love, family secrets and the artistic treasures that conceal them.


Why did you decide to write a book about the Fabergé eggs?
In 2014, a long-lost Fabergé egg was discovered in America. It had been bought by a scrap metal dealer who had tried to sell the egg for scrap but had been turned down no less than seven times. One night he started Googling Fabergé eggs and began to realise what he had sitting on his kitchen counter. He has since sold the egg for a sum believed to be around £20 million. I was so inspired by this story and by the fact that there are still seven missing Imperial Fabergé eggs that I started to write immediately.

How did you research this book?
I researched the history of the Fabergé eggs very carefully. The story of what happened to them after the Russian Revolution is completely fascinating and reads like a potted history of the 20th century. I also read a lot about the last Tsar and his family – I have been passionate about the Romanovs for as long as I can remember.

What was your favourite thing about writing this book?
I adored writing about the creations of Fabergé – translating the visual beauty of the items onto the page was something that gave me great pleasure.

Where in the world do you wish you could live?
In a turreted, towered castle in Scotland. I spent a lot of my childhood in Galloway with my grandmother and I adore the purple hills and lumpy gorse-filled fields with the coast beyond.

What is your favourite book at the moment?
It has to be The Siege by Helen Dunmore which I re-read again recently, having adored it the first time. I was so saddened to learn of her death last year. She is the most poetic of writers and her books live on in my head long after I have finished them. I think that it the best tribute to her – to keep her books alive in our hearts even though she is no longer with us.

How often do you write?
Whenever my daughter is at nursery. Having a child has made me incredibly good at managing my time. Like anything which is a precious commodity, you learn how to use it best. I tend to fire-up my computer before dropping off my daughter so that it is ready for me to get going when I come back to the house.

What do you do when you don’t write?
I work as a Russian art specialist at Bonhams Auctioneers, valuing Russian art and researching it for our Russian Art auctions.

Do you have any other writing projects on at the moment? (If you’re allowed to say!)
I would like to write more about Fabergé’s creations and their history following the Russian Revolution. I am very interested in the lives of the Russian upper-classes and how they fled the Revolution and coped with life without money and privilege. It must have been incredibly difficult starting over again.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: October 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 314
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Off-Island

Marlene Hauser

Krista Bourne has always been surrounded by the strength, love and wealth of her family and their homes in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard. She has never had to think for herself. Living with boyfriend Michael and her elderly grandfather, she can also summon up the comforting ghosts of her beloved father and grandmother. In vivid dreams she flies with her pilot father, and when awake remembers idyllic childhood holidays spent with her bohemian grandmother.
When Krista impulsively walks out on her career as a professional dancer, it is the beginning of a new chapter in her life. She feels unsettled and excited by the sense of imminent change around her.
This feeling turns to panic, then fear when she realises that she is pregnant and is uncertain whether or not she wants to keep the baby, bringing her and Michael to a crossroads in their relationship. Adamant that she alone must deal with the situation, Krista rejects all offers of support from him, isolating her at a time when she most needs help.
Krista’s journey and emotional upheaval take her back to her summer home on Martha’s Vineyard, where she is surprised to find out that she does not know her family history quite as well as she imagined.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Hands down, it is the fun I have participating in the story as it unfolds—never what I original expected. I love meeting the characters, one by one, who originate as an idea and go on to become 3D. I enjoy working with editors that spin a character or a plot line in an entirely different direction, forcing me to reweave the tale. I love the surprise, the adventure.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Very tough question, but in the final analysis, in Off-Island—I would have to say Krista because she comes of age through the unexpectedly difficult and emotionally painful experience of abortion. I do equally enjoy her grandmother Ilsa.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Tea, tea & more tea. English breakfast with lemon slices, jasmine green with lemon slices, hojika, kukicha, rooibos, earl grey, white… The list is endless. Gunpowder.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I write first thing in the morning, before anything else, in PJs, crossed-legged on my bed with my laptop propped up on a pedestal of pillows with both my Jack Russell (Leche) and Bengal (Presto) curled up beside me.

How do you research your books?
Research comes from first hand experiences, the life experience of close friends and acquaintances, reading extensively on a subject that intrigues me, watching documentaries and of course the ever ready Google. I also ask more knowledgeable readers than myself to review my work and make suggestions.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I usually have an idea, rough outline—loose beginning, middle & end—Act I, II & III, and then I get going and the story does its own thing. Afterwards, with an editor stirring the pot, mystery abounds and all outlines go out the window. So a bit of both, plotter and pantser.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Does New Zealand count? Just kidding. Beautiful country. I tend to live in the fictional world that I am creating at any one moment, the book I am working on at the time. I like to revisit places where I’ve actually lived and loved.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I would befriend some of Shakespeare’s romantic/tragic women, particularly Juliet and Ophelia. I would say “No. Stop, don’t do it.” And then they would go on to triumph and live amazing lives.

Publisher: Troubador Publishing
Publication Date: September 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages:
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Apotheosis

Brian Paul Bach

Butterbugs is somebody now. He has arrived – at the top. In fact, he’s much higher than that. Ultrastardom, they call it! As the world’s first ultrastar – and trillionaire – he is still compelled to act for acting’s sake alone. Taking the lead in the most ambitious film ever, he will need all his gathered resources for the staggering job ahead.
Butterbugs is a phenomenon for billions. His own depth of character and the diversity of creatures around him constitute a power and influence far surpassing any strolling player’s entertainments. However, not everyone on Earth is so dazzled. Well below his stratospheric plane, undercurrents coil in unholy pools.
The screen upon which APOTHEOSIS shines is gigantic, as befitting the story that commands it. FORWARD TO GLORY is nothing less than an epic-noir-satire. The momentum built by TEMPERING and EXPOSITION does not let up for a second. By its very name, APOTHEOSIS propels the reader toward its merciless climax with determination and grandeur.
Butterbugs is truly blessed with friends and associates who share his triumphs: Saskia and Justy – closer than ever; Sonny Projector – agent and champion; Edna Tzu – favorite director and facilitator; Hyman Goth – studio mogul with a dreaded knowledge; Mayella – stabilizing lover; Egaz – transcendent director and artistic equal; Keenah – the mate Butterbugs has waited for… possibly; The Seven Muses – who inspire the ultrastar in his most challenging role; Marshall – the disabled vet who changes the course of the nation; and Heatherette – always a force for good, who reappears at the perfect time.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I have always enjoyed the basic fact that writing books allows for complete freedom. Freedom to invent, describe, and choose how to put it all together. Whole worlds can be created, but you have to be decisive and totally committed to defining and developing them. These freedoms are certainly enjoyable, but the writer has to be responsible for them, and that I’m happy to do. Similarly, writing that’s meant for a specific purpose, such as nonfiction or reportage, can and should be approached with some sense of creative style. Currently, readers tend to want just basic informational writing. But I think a bit of individualistic style is appreciated. Writing a book is also an ideal way of just being myself. And sometimes, for all of us, that takes some doing!

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
I like Heatherette quite a lot. She’s an ongoing character throughout all four volumes of the Quartet, a bit elusive at times, but absolutely vital in the full spectrum of Butterbugs’ development as the main character. In effect, she provides a sort of framework in which he acts and reacts. She might be branded as ‘eccentric’ because she lives alone in a huge mansion full of ancient and arcane cinematic relics, and her ambience is mysterious and stylish, but her personality is profound, and her passions sincere. Her character finds complete fulfilment in vol. 3: APOTHEOSIS.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Plain, boring water serves as my main hydration while the keyboard is touched. Occasional bubble-juice, but never coffee. I know I’m an oddball in this respect, but I’m just not a caffeine hound. When reviewing the day’s digital scribblings or adding a few choice bits after dining, I take wine. A nipperkin of Fernet or Calvados or brandy or even – dare I say – Absente, serve as day’s end rewards. But booze offers no creative stamina for me. On late Sunday afternoons, whether writing or not, my wife Sandy and I take Champagne in the company of our two pups, Hudson and Bucky.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Nothing too terrible, because shirking doesn’t occur when I’m writing, only before!

How do you research your books?
Even though I initially thought the old line, ‘write about what you know’ too confining, I guess that’s what I’ve done. My books on travels in the Indian subcontinent and Calcutta architecture were based on firsthand experiences on the spot. Everything was then augmented by any materials I could get my hands on, and this was in pre-internet times, too. In vol. 4 of the present FORWARD TO GLORY Quartet, I’ve included an extensive concluding essay, ‘Notes On Sources’, that discusses all the experiences and influences, atmospheric as well as authentic, I gathered over the years to make my saga, set in the world of the cinema. Also, valuable research came in the form of a lifetime watching movies themselves.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I tend to start out as a bit of a plotter, but the pantser instinct takes over a few paragraphs later! The ‘fun factor’ is pretty important in my approach to writing. A plotline is certainly a secure notion that can always be played with, but moving forward, whether its while staggering or gliding, works the best for me. It’s the most enjoyable route to take, and the most rewarding, too. Besides, pantser material can be captured, tamed (but not too much), and adapted for any plotting requirements that will inevitably pop up.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
After I read Tolkien in my middle school years, I used to say I’d give anything to wake up one day in Middle Earth. It was an attractive notion. However, the intense realities seen in Peter Jackson’s definitive filmization of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ causes me to wake up every morning, relieved that I’m not in that compelling but totally hazardous environment! These days, I’d be happy settling down in the charming and quirky world of Rowland Emett’s delightful children’s tale, ‘New World For Nellie’. It begins with: ‘Tucked away in a forgotten corner of England, where the main lines never go, was a railroad that had seen better days. There was only one rusty old engine called Nellie, and two coaches…’

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
In earlier years, it might’ve been Milo in Norton Juster’s ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’. He was kind of a dull kid, but his adventures were amazing, and I’m sure I could’ve talked him into letting me drive his toy car for at least part of the way. It would’ve been cramped with Tock the Watchdog along, but totally worth it. These days, it’d be intriguing hanging out with Pierre Bezukhov in Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’. As a witness to grand historical events, and with a thoughtful and questing mind, he’d be an awesome brain to pick. I’m so glad he ended up with Natasha. After so much war, there was peace.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: October 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages:
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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