Posts Tagged ‘Author interview’

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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Outremer II; Revelation Cometh

D. N. Carter

Christian-born Paul Plantavalu and his beloved Alisha al Komaty, a Muslim, share an unbreakable bond and a deep love for one another. Religion, war and politics oppose them at every turn. But most deadly of all is the resolve of an evil enemy determined to destroy their family lines forever.
Paul and Alisha’s journey takes a political turn; they must question everything and learn who to fear and who to trust as they continue their battle to safeguard the future of mankind. In accepting the burden of this grace responsibility, they must make peace with the difficult path they have chosen. Paul will struggle to unlearn everything he has been raised to accept as true; reality is much more mysterious and nuanced. It will fall to him to defend a much greater treasure than his own life – one which the Magi themselves understood – for the benefit of future generations. In doing so, Paul will help others to unshackle themselves from the grip of a self-styled secret elite with the power to manipulate religions, governments and monarchies, harnessing wealth and control for themselves at the expense of the populous. But to succeed in this challenge Paul must face his own desires and his worst fears, and if destiny dictates, he may be called to sacrifice his own family, including Alisha.
The second novel in author and adventurer D. N. Carter’s epic four-part series, Outremer II: Revelation Cometh draws upon forty years of intensive historical research by its Indiana Jones-style creator. As the reader is swept up by the romantic adventure of Paul and Alisha and their dazzling romp through the High Middle Ages in search of Templar truths and treasure, they are also challenged by the author to solve a coded puzzle hidden within the pages of the four Outremer novels, which will lead to a real-life bounty at the conclusion of the series!


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
That I am able to share information I think is important and very relevant to all of us but hopefully in an engaging and enjoyable format. I love it when I start writing about a character and how it develops, sometimes in a direction I did not originally conceive. I love how I can be writing one event and from nowhere it suddenly moves in a totally different direction.

Who is your favourite character in your books and why?
This is a very difficult one to answer with a definite individual as they all feel so real and close and all with their own distinctive character attributes. It would have to be between Tenno and Theodoric. Two very distinct but strong characters almost opposite in their natures and stature but sharing a common cause. Both have travelled extensively, were warriors and each equally highly intelligent and educated. They had mysterious pasts and were guarded in revealing too much about themselves. Tenno I feel tips the balance as my favourite. Very mysterious and enigmatic but also very deadly.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
I think my family would agree it would be fair to say I should purchase shares in coffee bean suppliers.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Not using the same cup twice and leaving a long line of used empty coffee cups…in fact I leave them everywhere. Working too many hours, often well into the early hours and totally immersing myself in writing to the total exclusion of everything else around me.

How do you research your books?
I started when I was very young and simply accumulated my research over the years. It started in the library reading books about knights in the Middle East when I was living in Cyprus. This prompted visits to various castles and monasteries and even more books. I read Peter Lemesuriers book ‘The Great Pyramid Decoded’ which spoke of advanced construction techniques and codes within the dimensions of the Giza plateau pyramids and that they were not simply burial tombs. He taught me to always question everything, including the source of any material I research. My second volume of Outremer is dedicated to him. I research using academic journals, historical reference books to documentaries, ancient parchments and scrolls when given access to them. If I needed to know anything about the uniform and armour of a Knight Templar, there is a wealth of information about it. I even tried on and wore a full set for several hours to understand and experience exactly what it was like to wear, plus a full face great helmet. I learnt how to wield a sword professionally, how to couch a lance and even ride a horse. I believe in experiencing things like that in order to write an authentic account of how it feels. When researching elements of my story, such as the siege of Jerusalem and the history changing Battle of Hattin, I came across many conflicting versions of exactly what happened. To gain a true insight I had to study manuscripts and journals of scribes from both sides of the conflict. I believe I have presented as near an accurate version of what really happened, with the added propaganda duly stripped away.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a plotter definitely. With all the historical and religious research involved, I had to be accurate in what I was conveying. I started with a 172 page plot outline that had a beginning, the main points, actions, characters and factual historical information I wanted to detail, and the ending. It was then a case of fleshing it out. 1,234,000 words later I was finished.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
It would have to Pandora from the film Avatar. I love the idea of a totally unified way of life between its inhabitants, wildlife and nature itself. Taping into the forest trees directly and being a living part of it.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
It has to be Yoda from Star Wars. It would be great to learn how to use the ‘Force’ but also his deep insightful wisdom.

About the Author
D. N. Carter has enjoyed a lifelong love affair with archeology, cartography and the history, myths and legends of the Middle Ages. He has travelled extensively across Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula and the Languedoc region of France, which has long been associated with the Templar Knights and grail quest mythology. While not decoding maps and mathematical codes, D. N. Carter enjoys adventure sports and spending time with his family between East Anglia and the South of France.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: September 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 688
Genre: Historical
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Beardies’ World

Joyce Ives

If you already have a dog/dogs or are even thinking of buying one, read this book, which shows what fun and laughter we had with ours over twenty-six years, making a lot of friends along the way.
This book is Joyce Ives’ narrative to the twenty-six years she and husband John owned, cared for and loved their four Bearded Collies. The memories shared by Joyce in this book are likely to touch the heart of anyone who has had any experience of growing up and growing old with dogs. In her narrative Joyce has been able to capture beautifully how our special bond with our canine friends often becomes so significant in our life’s journey; our experiences of joy and laughter and at times our sadness and loss.


What was it like writing from the perspective of your dogs?
I enjoyed working on it when I had time. I acquired my first Bearded Collie in 1986 with the help of a young lady who worked in the same hospital as me. Pam worked in the Pathology Lab and I worked for the Personnel Officer in Administration. Pam had four Beardies and she helped me find a litter. We were good friends for years until she passed away suffering from cancer.
I fell in love with the Breed, they were such entertaining fun dogs, bouncing around with their long hair flowing. I joined the Southern Counties Bearded Collie Club and they had a magazine which came out in the Spring and Autumn. In this magazine people wrote about their Beardies and what they were experiencing. Beardies are happy dogs and when they are treated well they let you share in their exuberance. I decided to write a diary with our first Beardie Kizzy telling what she experienced when being separated from her siblings and living with my husband and myself.
From a baby I was brought up with a Chow Chow, she was quite staid, and although we loved each other, when I got older I found her boring. My grandparents had a Pembroke Corgi who lived a few doors away, what a different character, she was always ready to share happily wherever I took her. After marrying, we had our first dog a Border Collie cross and our children grew up with her. I got an insight as to how she was feeling, we could read each other’s minds.

Back to Kizzy, it was far easier to read her mind and observing her every day, I tried to see her point of view working out in her brain what we did and why we did it. I sent off my article to The Beardie Times but it was refused and I felt totally deflated. Then the Editor changed and I submitted Kizzy’s story again and it was accepted. The Club besides showing, had three events a year, Spring Frolic, Strawberry Tea and Tramps Tuck-In. We attended all these events, mixing and making friends with other people with their Beardies. Six months later after I had submitted Kizzy’s continuation of her diary, I was getting reports back as to how Kizzy’s life including Emma’s who had also joined us, was being well received. So I continued their diaries with their point of view living with us, not the other way round for twenty-six years, including our next two dogs.

What was your inspiration for this book?
When I was about eight years old, my grandfather my father’s side handed me a beautifully illustrated book of poems following the adventures of his dog Monk in 1919. It was made-up adventures and I have always treasured it. The watercolours are still vibrant. One day I might get it printed, children should love it. Enjoying this book my grandfather wrote and reading the Beardie Times articles, this was the push I needed to write my dog’s diaries.

The hard question, who was your favourite?
All our Beardies were lovely and each had a different personality. Kizzy was the thinker and as she matured, she preferred to watch the others rather than get involved in their pranks. Emma was a very pretty girl, a fawn, biddable and had it in her to protect us, ie a Rottweiller attacked Kizzy while out on a walk and she dived straight in chasing the dog away, the owner was nowhere to be seen. We did a lot of woodland walking, and lucky to have four different woods nearby to walk in. If out in the woods a man approached without a dog, Emma immediately returned to my side keeping a close watch on him and once he had passed by, would race off again to join the others. Unfortunately, she became ill with Addison’s disease, ‘the adrenal gland stops working and that affected her whole body’, humans can get this too. So of course I returned the favour and especially looked after her keeping her comfortable for as long as I could. Muffin my third Beardie was the softest sweetest girl, who followed her mother’s demeanour. I hardly ever had to ask her to come to my side, she knew when I wanted her and would come looking up telling me ‘well I am here – I suppose you will have to call the others.’ I knitted her a soft doll which she adored and when the others were playing around in the garden with their hard toys, she joined them carrying her dolly in her soft mouth. None of them were allowed to carry it and Kizzy and Emma knew that. Solei joined us after we had lost Emma and she was my only puppy that chewed everything she could find, she was also quite a nervous girl and didn’t like sharp noises. Unfortunately, she wasn’t a healthy dog suffering with inflammatory bowel disease and had to be fed a special diet. This was followed by an underactive thyroid gland and then finally liver disease.
Every Beardie we had was extremely special in different ways, but both my husband and I agree that Muffin was our favourite.

Do you live with any dogs now?
No, even before losing Solei, I was having trouble with my knees and was finding our large garden too much as I always kept it immaculate, also my husband’s health was declining and at that time it wouldn’t be fair to have another dog. We moved down to Seaford, East Sussex into a McCarthy & Stone Assisted Living Complex. If a buyer already owned a dog or cat you were allowed to bring it with you, but once it had died you are not allowed to have another one. Another downside is that animals are not allowed in the lounge and of course not in the dining room. Beardies are very friendly sociable dogs, even the dog living here now pulls on her lead wanting to come into the lounge to say hello to everyone, it is heart breaking. Rules are rules and this rule was made because McCarthy & Stone says not everyone likes dogs.

What is your favourite thing about owning a dog?
Having a dog in your life if you are on your own, you are never lonely, although so far I haven’t experienced this as I still have my husband. On a quiet day just hearing your dog drinking from the water bowl, an occasional sneeze, coming up to you, giving you a loving nose nudge and a tail wag makes you happy. Any dog loves to be groomed, it is all part of the bonding and being loved.
Whatever the weather a dog’s needs is to go out for a walk. Opening the door and stepping outside into the fresh air, whether it be raining, windy, snowing or just a lovely day. Meeting other like-minded people exercising their dogs and having a chat and watching the dogs gambling about and chasing their balls. Their happiness is your happiness and returning home and seeing them settle down relaxing until they sense that they are going to be involved in doing something else with you.

Would you ever own a different breed of dog?
If I had the chance of having another dog again, yes, I would change to a different breed, but smaller, perhaps a cockerpoo, so again there would be no moulting of their coat. There is no room in our flat to be able to properly groom a Beardie. I would have an open mind, there are so many dogs in rescue cry ing out for a loving home.

About the Author
Ever since she was a young girl, Joyce Ives has had a soft spot in her heart for dogs. So when the time came, she decided to leave her full time job to become an owner to her very first Bearded Collie – Kizzy. After this initial decision, they soon become owners to three other beautiful Beardies – Emma, Muffin and Solei. Unfortunately, due to ill health, both Joyce and John no longer look after any dogs but Joyce will always dream of owning more. Joyce now resides in Seaford, East Sussex, and is glad to finally have had time to write her first book.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: September 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 222
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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From Daughter to Woman

Kim McCabe

This book aims to make the adolescent’s journey just that bit safer, kinder, and better supported – so parents and teens can enjoy the teenage years more.
The teen years are tough – for teens and for parents. Many parents dread the moodiness, dishonesty, preference of friends over family, exam stress, and the push for greater independence. Mothers have a pivotal role to play; this is a guidebook for parents and mothers of girls in particular as they navigate the rocky teenage landscape with their daughters aged 8 to 18. It aims to help them embrace the potential of their child’s teenage years by marking this time of growing maturity for girls and celebrating it with them. We celebrate birth, marriage and death, but this important life-transition from child to young adult is nowadays rarely acknowledged within an appropriate community.


What was your favourite thing about writing this book?
Knowing that I might have found a way to reach more girls. While I wrote I thought about all the people who care about our growing girls and felt full of optimism for how this book would share what I’ve learned to help make growing up that bit easier for everyone.

How important is the topic in this book to you?
You know when you realise that you’re really good at something because it’s been important your whole life, so you’ve been working on it forever without always realising it? That’s how I feel about the plight of girls as they grow through their teens. I can really help the girls and those who care for them. These girls are the mothers and creators of the future so when we enable them to grow up well, we’re helping all future generations. That’s exciting to me.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
I don’t drink enough. Always on at my children to take their water bottles wherever they go and then I forget my own. Much of this book was written in my campervan while my children danced, played football or learned Spanish. I could have made myself a cup of something herbal but I’m very focussed when I’m writing and it never felt like I could spare the time to put the kettle on.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I twiddle my hair while I’m thinking. My mum would hate to know that this childhood habit lives on!

How did you research this book?
The seeds of this book took root while I worked as a counsellor to distressed teenagers thirty years ago. I wanted to find some way of helping that would be preventative, so teens wouldn’t end up needing to starve, cut or harm themselves in other ways. My studies at Cambridge University into child psychology gave me a good foundation but it was years of working with young people and raising my own family that really taught me what was needed. It began small, writing articles for parents on my website and running year-long groups for preteen girls. In a relatively short time my waiting list for Girls Journeying Together groups was over-flowing and mothers were pressing me to write down what I was saying. I realised that the need was greater than I could meet on my own, so I now train women from across the world to deliver Girls Journeying Together groups and I gathered my thoughts into a book.

Do you have any recommendations for books which are similar to yours?
Steve Biddulph’s Raising Girls and 10 Things Girls Need Most

What was your favourite thing about your teenage years?
Sex. No I can’t say that, not publicly. In my teens I loved learning about how a dynamo worked, having boys notice me, staying out late and eating chips with my mates, doing somersaults, skinny dipping in the river at midnight, listening to Radio Luxemburg, dreaming of travelling the world, sleepovers with my best friend and the flapjacks her mum baked.

Would you consider yourself a feminist? If yes, do you know how old you were when you realised you were one?
Yes, of course. How could I not be a feminist, when feminism is the belief that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. I was born a feminist. Talking to girls, it makes absolute sense to them that they should have equal rights and opportunities to everyone else, why shouldn’t they?

Which women do you think are good feminist role models?
Any woman who is living true to herself is a good feminist role model. Any woman who is true to her beliefs and values, who cares more for herself than what others think, and who has the courage to follow her own path. Good feminist role models live next door, serve in the corner shop, teach our kids, might even be your best friend. Some good role models are on the television, but the best ones are those that you can reach out and touch. Real women who are living their lives admirably.

About the Author

Kim McCabe is the founder of Rites for Girls. As the originator and facilitator of Girls Journeying Together groups, she offers guidance to preteen and teen girls and simultaneous support for their mothers. In training other women to facilitate these groups, her dream is that every girl grows up expecting to be supported and celebrated in adolescence. Kim was commissioned to write a section in Steve Biddulph’s latest best-selling book, 10 Things Girls Need Most: To Grow Up Strong and Free.

Kim is a home-educating mother of two boys, one girl, two cats and a colony of aloe vera plants; she is wife to a Kiwi, daughter to itinerant parents, friend to a cherished few, and lover of time alone, too. She lives in the Ashdown Forest in Sussex. She sometimes shouts at her children, accidentally steps on the cat’s tail and forgets to water the plants, but she loves her work, her family and her life. She has always had deep affinity with teenage girls, and by sharing her wisdom and compassion she infects the reader with her enthusiasm for this life stage.

Publisher: Little Brown Books
Publication Date: July 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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One?

Jennifer L. Cahill

It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi, and One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4.
Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual.
Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At 28 she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming.
Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness.
Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I love forming new characters, they didn’t exist before I created them. I love the fact that, hopefully, people will enjoy my books and learn a little. I love the actual creative process, when inspiration strikes and the words start flying onto the page. When I started writing it felt like life turned into an adventure, as all of a sudden everything thwas potentially inspiration.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
I couldn’t possibly answer this without ruining the plot unfortunately!

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Simply Water, or sometimes juice mixed with coconut water, soda water and coconut kefir.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I’m not sure, I just go completely into the zone, so I’m unaware of any bad habits that I might have.

How do you research your books?
I am naturally curious and lead a busy life, and I find that life itself and the people that I meet along the way inspire me. I write first, and then verify (through research) later. Writers often find that their lives err on the side of the dramatic, and I have definitely found that to be the case with me. Drama is not always good, so with negative experiences I try to learn from them and then I include a few pearls of wisdom in my books if I think that will help people and if it fits in with the story.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I would say I’m a ‘planster’ – a mixture of both 

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Camelot because it’s got that mixture of love, chivalry, romance, royalty, history and magic.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I would pick Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, as long as she would let me play with her dragons. I love the fact that she’s extremely feminine, very beautiful but strong and commanding at the same time. I also do like the fact that she seems a bit magical and has dragons. What’s not to love! She’s by far one of the strongest characters in Game of Thrones.

About the Author

Living in Notting Hill, Jennifer L Cahill works with both individuals and blue chip clients to help them navigate and master change and transformation. She has over seventeen years’ experience in consulting specialising in change, communications, business transformation and personal development. She has a graduate degree in International Commerce and Spanish and a Masters in Business Studies. In her spare time she loves embracing her more creative side. For more information please visit www.JenniferLCahill.com or follow her @JLCAuthor

Publisher: Little Bang Publishing
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 77
Genre: Spiritual
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Into The Summerland

Julian Cundy

The eternal question – what happens when we die? Is there a consequence from how we lived? Is there a reckoning?
Henry Ashton’s turbulent life is at an end. As he moves on from this world, he discovers how elusive the final peace can be.
With a spirit companion by his side, Henry learns there can be no peace without reconciliation, no rest without acceptance. He must walk his own path to absolution.
“For some souls the transition from mortal life to eternal peace is an easy one, soon completed. For others, who have been troubled in their life or who cannot reconcile the events and their part in them, the journey is longer…and harder. But every soul will find its rest.”


What is your favourite thing about writing books? Who is your favourite character in your book and why? What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
My favourite thing when writing books is that moment when you hit the synergy. You’ve got the idea, you’ve figured out how you are going to express it and – finally – you’ve got the right words to set down. I have been sitting chuckling away to myself, sometimes with tears, sometimes with electricity crackling in my veins at that moment when it all comes together.
That’s when you don’t care if it’s a best seller or just one that your Mum likes. It’s the moment that you validate yourself as a writer and enjoy the achievement.
In a wider sense, the great thing about writing books is that you have time and space to develop your ideas, opinions and present them in a measured way. In the heat of discussion, debate, argument and confrontation it is often hard to remain focused. At the desk, you can take your time, articulate your thoughts and let the words flow.
My favourite character in my new novella Into the Summerland is the main protagonist Henry. He has all attributes we admire and find frustrating in the war baby generation: Stoic and principled, stubborn and prejudiced. His development and eventual reclamation, whilst keeping his dignity intact is what I’d wish for to all those souls.
My favourite writing drink is tea (of course!) Steaming hot, strong with a little sugar to taste.
If I’m wanting to relax my mind into the nocturnal zone, I will quaff some Southern Comfort with Coke.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Since I quit smoking (5 years and counting!) I’ve been on the look-out for a new bad habit.
Since most of my downtime waiting for the next burst of inspiration involves walking miles and miles along the Essex coast, I don’t really suffer from indulging in any foodie treats.
I guess the worst thing that those around would say is that when I’m in the writing mindset, I get real tunnel vision to the point that the house could be on fire and I’d keep typing. But they’re all pretty considerate and I do take everyone out to dinner to celebrate once it’s all done!

How do you research your books?
With Into the Summerland there were many references to faiths both old and new. Not overtly, I wanted to keep them subtle! But it’s critical if you are going to stray into areas that are special to people that you get it right. The old religions as well as new ones, along with general philosophies and modern life coaching tips have more in common than their followers would admit, but woe betide you for a misplaced edict! My collection of online bookmarks and library of reference books grew quite a lot during that period.
If I’m writing in the ‘real’ world then I spend a lot of time checking timetables for planes, trains and ferries. Time zones, languages and currencies all have to be right if you want to be taken seriously when writing an international thriller.
It’s also always good fun to go out and meet the experts where you can. I walked into Chelmsford Police station a few years ago to check the exact wording of a caution, much to the desk sergeant’s bemusement. Maybe I should have reflected that “You do not have to say anything…”
On a very practical level, when I’m reviewing the manuscript, I’ll make sure the story is hanging together, whilst drawing big blue crosses next to the entries where something needs to be checked. It’s important to get things right, but not as important as making sure you’ve written a great story!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
When I get the first sketch of an idea, I figure out how it’s going to start and end. What the key plot slices are and which characters need to end up where. Then it’s just a case of how they all get there.
Which I guess makes me the classic Planster. I need the signposts, but I need freedom so the story can be flexible.
I can’t imagine having everything worked out in advance. That would be too restrictive. But I can’t imagine an open-ended writing odyssey without even the slightest notion of a destination.
When writing a previous book, things were really not working out right. I’d completed the manuscript but wasn’t happy. So I changed the ending, removed a couple of chapters and gave one of the main characters a wife.
All of which needed new back stories and a new plot line to get the now-married character to the critical part of the story. As well as a forensic line-by-line re-examination for impacts.
It was at times tortuous, but I came out with a much better book. Upshot being I guess that I need to work on my inner panster!

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
As my Steampunk style would suggest, something within the 19th century, where the worlds of Charles Dickens and HG Wells would come together in a cacophony of social rectitude and dazzling, anarchic adventure!
I’d revel in the exchanges of social niceties, knowing the underlying tensions that crackle under the surface. I’d join the mad inventors, reaching to the skies and beyond in challenging all known laws of physics, time and gravity.
I’d pick from the finest collection of gentleman’s attire and walk out along the fine streets of London, then donate the rest to the desperately poor that even to this day still live among us.
I’d attend the presentations of the most overblown, sumptuous launches, toasting the lunatics pledging to venture to the moon and back before the smoky chimes of Big Ben call all good subjects to their beds.
There must be fun, or life has no meaning. And there must be compassion or life has no purpose.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities. A tragic hero. A waster who falls in love with Lucie Manette, already pledged and then married to Charles Darnay.
Sydney has no time for social niceties and apparently has no concern over how he is perceived. His careless manner belies the relentless drive – initially we believe catapulting him towards an early demise.
Whatever Dickens plugged into to bring this fascinating character to life, I recognise and understand totally. In a world that requires conformity, the rebel shall find mischief, mirth but a long road to peace.
His triumph – and final valediction is by laying down his life for the man who makes his true love happy. He has no affection for Darnay, but complete devotion to his unattainable wife.
I’m sure that Sydney would be highly suspicious, if not highly amused by my interest in him. But he would be splendid company. And spending an evening with a bowl of punch in a tavern with him would be wonderful!

About the Author

Living in Westcliff-on-Sea Essex, Julian Cundy is a British adventurer, dedicated day dreamer, wordsmith and observer of life and all its absurdities. He is a recognisable character in his home town thanks to his eye-catching outfits comprising fine hats, cravats, tails and spats.

Publisher: Little Bang Publishing
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 77
Genre: Spiritual
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Double Felix

Sally Harris

He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules. Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns his world upside down. She s grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
My favourite part of being a writer is that I get to make things up and get paid for it! I also love the challenge of trying to be relentlessly entertaining in the way that I tell a story and getting to create characters to take on adventures. The hardest part about being a writer for me is creating characters that I really like and then having to give them problems. In my ideal world, everyone would be happy all of the time, but that would make for some very boring stories!

What is your favourite thing about being a MG author?
My favourite thing about being an author for Middle Grade readers is that they are discerning. As a writer you’ve got to respect them as readers or they won’t go along with the journey you have planned for them. There is no talking down to them or trying to pull the wool over their eyes and this really tests you as a writer. Once you have them hooked, however, you can take Middle Grade readers along for the ride to anywhere and they will come along with you. I also love that MG readers enjoy a good laugh and a rip-roaring adventure, yet they are mature enough to tackle some big issues too.

Why did you choose to write a character with OCD traits?
I think that it is really important for readers to be able to see themselves in the characters of the books they are reading. There are lots of children who struggle with various mental illnesses like OCD and I think that they are unrepresented in stories. I wanted to share Felix’s story as a way of showing readers that they are not alone and as a way of helping other students to empathise with their peers. I’m hoping that once someone has read Double Felix, it will help them to understand people around them who are different to themselves and help them to connect in a really positive, inclusive way.

What is your favourite moment in Double Felix? (Without any spoilers!)
That’s such a hard question to answer! I have lots of favourite moments in Double Felix, so I’ve narrowed it down to my favourite three scenes to write:

1. Chapter Two when we meet Felix ‘improving’ Mrs Lovejoy’s Office – because who wouldn’t enjoy messing up their Principal’s Office!

2. I loved writing the scene where Felix and Charlie visit her ‘home’ as I’ve always wanted to live somewhere like that myself.

3. I really enjoyed writing the scene where Felix wants to get into the Library but the door is locked. The image of his bottom wiggling in the air as he tries to squeeze through the window will never leave me!

Where is your favourite place to write?

If I am writing at home, I love to be cosy. Right now it is winter here in Australia, so I’m under a woolly blanket with my dog at my feet acting like a fluffy hot water bottle and my computer on my lap. I also love to get out of the house and write when I can. Taking my laptop to a local cafe for an hour with a cup of coffee is a great way for me to get some words onto the page. Bonus points if I can avoid connecting to the Internet while I’m there and extra extra bonus points if the cafe is in a bookshop!

About the Author


Sally Harris grew up in rural Australia and after graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Children’s Literature, Sally has been busy writing and working as a primary teacher, in both Australia and the UK. Her first book, Diary of a Penguin-Napper, sold over 10 000 copies and her second book, Ruby Marvelous, has inspired children all over the world to try their hand at cooking exploding finger buns! Sally loves animals, including penguins, and, as she can’t have one of those as a pet, she has found that a dog is definitely the next best thing.

Website. Twitter.

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: MG Contemporary
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Awakened

Julian Cheek

My name is Sam. I am nothing special but apparently if I don’t wake up, both this world and that other one will be destroyed. Nice One! All I wanted was to disappear into my own world and be left alone. But, No! Even THAT was taken away from me.
Well just wait. You want me to fight? I’ll show you “fight.”
You took the most important thing in my life away from me, and now I am coming for you.
Hidden away in your mountain stronghold, even the rocks around you will not stop me getting to you.
You started this war.
I am going to finish it!
Seventeen year old Sam just wants to be left alone!
He has enough to cope with in his invisible, suburban, existence without having some fantastic and, frankly, unasked-for, alternate reality drop into his life asserting that he has powers beyond his wildest dreams. And that unless he does something, both his world, and that of Muanga-Atua, will come to a horrible end.
A terrifying episode one blustery night may be enough to start to erode the impregnable shell he thought he had built up around himself. A shell, not to keep others out, but to keep the rage in. Could he afford, as was the norm now, just to do nothing?


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
For me, my favourite things is the wrestling, trying to find the right/best way to describe a scene such that the reader is instantly transported into that environment, regardless as to whether they have ever experienced the same for themselves or not. And when there, for them to then associate with the scene, experience or event unfolding, and this, star to associate with the story as a whole

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Alice! I loved playing with the fact that she is a total enigma to Sam. He doesn’t know whether to blush, curse, get frustrated or run away, but there is something about Alice that gets under his skin, so he is almost powerless to keep away from her. Without giving too much of the story away, Alice is also key to Muanga-Atua, the alternative world Sam discovers. The reader is slowly introduced to her, and hopefully, is kept guessing till the very end.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Part of the reason for writing this trilogy, (of which “The Awakened” is book one) is because when my partner and I went to New Zealand on sabbatical, we were so amazed with the place, in terms of the scenery, culture, grandeur… and coffee, that we wrote a blog (http://www.hobbitsandseals.wordpress.com) about our experiences, and interestingly, an awful lot of coffee is consumed. So, coffee, which I find comforting, or a G&T, which is of course, the best cold drink, ever

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Of course not! Although I am sure my partner, Mitch, would easily be able to rattle off numerous habits, which, whilst not bad in themselves, annoy her! I will leave it for her to come to my rescue. Probably looking out the window and day-dreaming, rather than concentrating on the subject at hand…. And waffling, I am very good at just rambling on and on and…. Hmmm. Enough said.

How do you research your books?
I do a lot of reading and go online frequently during research periods. Another aspect, for example, when describing the scene in Paris (and, no, I will not be writing any spoiler alerts here!) is that we travel a lot and soak up the culture and landscapes as much as possible. We both write, and this comes naturally to us, so we are not describing areas or places which are unrealistic.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I take my writing seriously and so I would describe myself generally as a plotter. The story needs to have some structure from which to build itself. However, once I have refined this “skeleton” I would rather that certain aspects are allowed to wander into the “pantser” home, rip off the curtains and turn up the music till the windows crack. Both feed off each other.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
In Piers Anthony’s Adept Series, he paints a fantastic world called “Phaze”. If one could combine the world of Phaze with that of Lord of the Rings, that is where I would like to live. I love wide open scenery with huge mountains that break the skyline, and then disappear into the forests where mankind becomes so small in relation to the ageless trees, earth and nature.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Thomas Covenant, from the Stephen Donaldson series, would probably be the one fictional character I would love to try to befriend. It would be fascinating to sit with him and learn all about wisdom carved from adversary. But, like most best friends, it would be bloody difficult to stop myself thumping him at times for his sheer bloody-mindedness. Sorry, am I allowed to say, “bloody”? No? Bugger!

About the Author

Living in Petersfield, Hampshire, Julian Cheek has worked for over thirty years as an architect working on several major projects including Mercedes World, a competition for Battersea Power Station, NikeTown and most recently a high rise, Versace branded residential building in London. When not designing he is embracing his other creative interests, writing. His first book, You should not wake a hibernating Puff-Adder (2011) was a series of short stories inspired by his childhood growing up in South Africa.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: June 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 306
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Past is Present

Kathleen Webb

After the untimely death of her mother and father, twenty-four year old Catherine Morgan leaves the Cambridge home where she has spent the better part of her life, to move to Cornwall. She takes a job as a teacher, working in an old rambling school which has been converted from a domestic home, perched high up on a hilltop, overlooking the beautiful Cornish coastline.
Out of the blue a letter arrives from a bank in Switzerland, advising Catherine that she is the sole heir to a fortune of over thirty million dollars. With no living relatives, save for a great aunt in the USA, Catherine sets out to uncover the source of this staggering inheritance, and to unravel the mystery that lies behind it.
With the help of her great aunt, Catherine begins to dig deep into long forgotten family secrets. Strange dreams begin to plague her. She is haunted by the eerie feeling that someone from her family’s past is trying to help her. Catherine must work to make sense of the past while defending herself, and her fortune, from someone in the present who will stop at nothing to secure the money for themselves.
The Past is Present is the debut novel by Kathleen Webb.


My favourite thing about writing books
I think my favourite aspect of writing is plotting the story line. All the twist and turns gradually come together and the characters come to life!

My favourite character in my book
My favourite character in my book is Great Aunt Izzy. She is quirky and a little eccentric. At the age of 83 she wears long Laura Ashley floral frocks, floppy hats and trainers, but she is highly intelligent and quite canny!

My favourite drink while writing
My favourite drink when I write is a nice cup of tea, several in fact, together with a slice of homemade cake!

Bad habits whilst writing
The only bad habit I think I have is ‘grazing’. I tend to graze on nuts, chopped fruit, dates etc. It helps me concentrate on the plot and keeps my energy levels up. Not good for the waistline!!

How do I research
I research nearly all information on line. I do have a set of encyclopaedias which I refer to from time to time.

Am I a plotter or a pantser
I am definitely a plotter. I devise the beginning and the end and fill in the body of the story as I go along.

Which fictional world would I live in?
I would live in the world of St. Mary Meade; the village in which Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple lives. This period of history is fascinating and the village looks beautiful.

Which fictional character would I befriend?
This would definitely be Miss Marple. She is such an interesting clever character. She comes across as unassuming, but has a wonderful knack of solving all the mysteries.

About the Author

Living in Hertfordshire, Kathleen Webb has always held a passion for writing and since retiring she’s finally found the time to realise her dream and complete her first novel. When not writing she can be found spending quality time with her grandchildren and children and baking delicious decorative cakes.

Publisher: ClinkStreet Publishing
Publication Date: June 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary Horror
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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