My Series of Author & Poet Interviews at Narberth Book Fair. Today with with Helen Lewis

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

 

 I’ve posted interviews with most of the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year was a poetry competition (now closed) which is being judged at the moment.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Our latecomer to the interviews is an author whose book I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed; Helen Lewis.

Version 2

 

Welcome, Helen, could we start by you telling us who is your favourite author?

Do I have to have one? I’m greedy I’d like a few, obviously Joanne Harris, David Mitchell, Audrey Niffenegger, Roald Dahl

So what do you think makes a good story?

Just a little bit of magic. Unorthodox and quirky use of language. Strong characters that you are interested in; worried about their fate

 What book that you have read has most influenced your life

Surely it has to be the bible, forget religion (if you want to), that book is packed with intrigue, murder, fantasy, jeopardy, shall I go on? I think the route of all stories ever told or to be told are planted within those covers.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Just the one so far, The House With Old Furniture. It is, by far my favourite!

The house with old furniture

 

Here’s my review of Helen’s novel: http://bit.ly/2wf4El2 

Could you tell us a bit about your book and why it is a must-read

The House With Old Furniture is a story of love, loss and betrayal – where no-one can be trusted to tell the full story, and nothing is as it seems. One son dead and the other grieving, Evie is banished to Wales, her world falling apart. She survives in part due to the presence of the mysterious Alys and her son Nye, who reminds Evie of her own lost boy.

OK so I copied the blurb, but the hardest thing, I have found about this writing malarkey, is having to define and summarise the tens of thousands of words you have just spent years scribbling. I think it’s a must read, because even though I have read it now about seven times, at least, maybe eight or nine, I still get lost in the tale, it still grips me even though I know the ending!

 What was the inspiration behind The House With Old Furniture

I literally stumbled upon the inspiration for this story shortly after my family moved to Pembrokeshire twelve years ago. Whilst on a walk with our two boys in the woods that surround our home, we discovered the remains of a cottage. If we’d been in a hurry, and I hadn’t got my boot stuck in the stream, we would have completely missed it. Only parts of three walls remained, ferns, moss and ivy rendered most of it invisible and at some point a huge tree had fallen straight through the middle of it finishing off most of what was left. It took a bit of imagination to picture a cottage amongst the undergrowth, almost like staring at one of those coloured dot pictures trying to find the hidden image. Whilst the boys waited for me to free my boot, they scrambled over the ruins of the little house unearthing all kinds of everyday treasures: the rusty end of a bedstead, a rotten milk churn, and old bottles to name but a few.

You couldn’t help but feel that you were trespassing in someone’s home, although the building was barely recognisable as such the sense of what it must have been like to live there was so strong in my mind. I felt I could hear the last inhabitants crunching through the dead leaves towards us. It was as if some fragment of their being had evaporated into the air around us and become a part of the place, ingrained, like the scent of wild garlic, in the very trees around us.

As we all walked back home through the woods I knew there was a story to be told about that little cottage. So in some down time – broadband down time – telephone wire down time, you know what it can be like living in rural Welsh Wales! I began stitching together this tale, creating the characters that live in it, Jesse, Finn, Andrew and Evie. I wanted my characters to unpick the mystery within The House With Old Furniture for the reader, and decided to introduce an old journal that would slowly unlock the secrets. Bizarrely the idea for the journal came from a very old and decrepit cookery book that once belonged to my Nan – ‘The Diary Book of Home Cookery’. When Nan died, Grandpa, determined to remain independent and ‘carry on’, treated it a bit like a bible. And somehow I have now inherited it. It’s full of his notes, scribbled all over the printed recipes, on how things should really be cooked and it’s packed with his own concoctions jotted down on the backs of old yellowing receipts and envelopes. I love it. It’s a real treasure of mine even though the spine has fallen and most of the photos have turned blue and green. And I’m thrilled that some of Grandpa has made it into the novel, I used his actual hand-written recipes for bread and dumplings as backgrounds on the chapter divider pages. I can hear him chuckling about that!

 How long did it take you to write it?

Forever! Five, very long years.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I have heard from some of them, and it’s been lovely. I love the questions I’ve been asked, it’s made me look at the book in different ways. I still find it surprising that people are actually reading something that I have written.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Absolutely none. Sorry. I fully intended to be a ballerina until the age of 16, I had about six lessons a week and taught as well, unfortunately it wasn’t to be. But that is hardly an uncommon talent.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I couldn’t come up with an answer to this question so I (stupidly) asked my husband and teenage sons who just happened to be sat around the kitchen table where I am doing this. So unhelpfully they came up with “You can’t spell.” Thank you husband. “You’re not very good, ha ha.” Thank you teenager two. And “I don’t know what a quirk is.” Brilliant teenager one (who’s not actually a teenager now, but still behaves like one). I haven’t really answered that have I?

Hahaha… families!!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Run, as far and as much as I can, I’m addicted. Also started open water swimming which is the most awesome, relaxing, stress busting thing invented for humans to do.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

Again I deferred to the same male audience mentioned above, and according to the teenagers the funniest thing I ever did was whilst eating chips at the New Inn Amroth, I tried to put sauce on them and, you’ve guessed it already, the lid flew off covering everything in sauce. If I remember rightly, I found that more annoying than hilarious, which I mentioned to the teenagers. “That’s the point,” they said, “No sense of humour.”

Note to self: never ask your family about the most amusing thing that’s happened to you…it’ll normally the most amusing thing they think happened to you!

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I am utterly, totally, completely terrified of heights. 3m off the ground and I’m jelly on the floor.

 Helen’s links:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2xK2DLP

 Twitter: http://bit.ly/2wG32C4

Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk:  http://amzn.to/2vLv9f1

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2iFnnSg

Helen is published by Honno, where her book is also available: http://www.honno.co.uk  

new honno_logo

 

 

Advertisements

Interviewing One of my Favourite Authors; Terry Tyler and Introducing her Latest Novel, Tipping Point: #SundayBlogShare

Kings And QueensThe House Of YorkLast ChildThe Devil You Know11 aa aa aa Lind

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Terry-Tyler/e/B00693EGKM

 

Hi Terry, good to see you here today. Please tell us first,what is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

To write something so amazingly good I can’t believe I’ve written it.  I doubt that will ever happen, though; even if it did, I’d probably still spend half my time thinking it was rubbish.  Maybe there never is an ultimate goal with anything creative, as there is always more, a different direction in which to progress.  You never get to a point when you think, ‘right, I’ve done it, I’ve got there, so I’ll stop’.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

People often ask writers, ‘is your main character supposed to be Joe/Bob/Steve?’  But he rarely is; writers make stuff up.  That’s what we do.  Experience fuels the imagination, that’s all; I’d say my characters are 80% my invention, 20% taken from real life.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I write on every day that it’s possible to do so.  Aside from family commitments, anything else has to fit round it.  I give myself deadlines for completing each draft, just because I work better that way.  When the book’s gone to my proofreader, I catch up on stuff I need to do (guest blog posts, emails, etc), and kid myself I’m going to do some jobs around the house.  However, I’ve always got the next book waiting in the wings (ie, my head!) and so the process begins again, and the bedroom remains unpainted.

What do you think makes a good story?

An opening chapter with threads that make you eager to know what’s going to happen.  Characters that jump off the page and into your thoughts; if you don’t care what happens to them, you have no impetus to keep reading.  A feasible plot, with unexpected developments that don’t seem as if they’re just there for the sake of making ‘plot twists that will blow your socks off’ claims on Amazon.  Resolution for each aspect of the story (unless part of a series).  An ending that stays with you after you’ve read it.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Twenty-five (I think).  Fourteen of them are published, with another finished and in the preparation process (Lindisfarne, which may be out by the time this post appears!).  I can’t name one favourite, but I have special affection for the most recent, Tipping Point and sequel Lindisfarne, because they’re part of a series, which I think about all the time!  My other favourites are The House of York and Last Child, family sagas inspired by events during Tudor and Plantagenet times.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

I would never describe my own book as a ‘must-read’; that’s for the reader to say, not me!  The Project Renova series, of which Tipping Point is the first book, is about a global pandemic, and also, initially, about how public opinion is manipulated by the media.

I’ve wanted to write about life after the collapse of 21st century civilisation for ages, because I’m a bit obsessed with all things post apocalyptic, but I wanted to ‘keep it real’, as much as possible.  Vicky is an ordinary woman living in a small town, with a teenage daughter, Lottie.  As Vicky says: ‘How to manage without flushing loos is never mentioned in TV shows or films about life after global disasters.  I suppose viewers don’t want to see their favourite hunky road warrior sidling off into the woods with a roll of Andrex.’

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

  1. Nothing you say on the internet is private. 3.  When the going gets tough, people’s true selves come to the fore.  No moral lessons, though.  I don’t think.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

It’s your imagination, your fingers on the keys.  Sometimes a character will turn out differently from how you intended, mostly because unexpected ideas about how to develop the character appear while you’re writing, but it’s still you in the driving seat.  I don’t go in for all this ‘I wanted to make Sebastian a modest shopkeeper, but he just wasn’t having it!’ stuff.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I first wrote a novel in 1993, when I was thirty-four.  I might get it out and have a cringe-athon some time.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

If I have, I can’t think what they are.  Or maybe I’m just not telling you.  Smiley face with wink.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I haven’t got one.  I’m not that interesting.  I just sit down at my desk and get on with it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Oh dear, this is where I’m supposed to reveal all my fascinating and unusual hobbies, isn’t it?  Thing is, I mostly just write, and when I’m not, I do the same relaxation/leisure time stuff as most people.   You know, watch stuff, read, go for walks, clean the house.  Okay, I’m lying about the last one.  I read a lot and review books on my book blog, and for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Blog.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I’ve recently become a vegan.  It’s difficult, but at least it stops me raiding the biscuit tin.  I can see myself eating vegetable stir fry with Quorn for dinner every night; I’m not very interested in cooking.

Terry Tyler is the author of fourteen books on Amazon, the latest being ‘Tipping Point’, the first book in her new post apocalyptic series.  She is proud to be self-published, is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Her next book, ‘Lindisfarne’, the sequel to ‘Tipping Point’, should be available in September 2017.  She lives in the north east of England with her husband, and is still trying to learn Geordie

terry

Books coming out in 2017:

Tipping Point, released on August 7th.  Post apocalyptic/government conspiracy/family drama.

Lindisfarne, to be realised in September 2017.  Sequel to Tipping Point.  Also Romantic Suspense

Patient Zero, hopefully ready to publish in December 2017.  Outtake short stories   related to Tipping Point, Lindisfarne and Book 3 of the series, yet to be written.

Thought I might add my own review Of Tipping Point here:Tipping Point

Links:

My Last Saturday Round-Up Of the Brilliant Authors #authors & Poets #poets at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Gathering the last of those authors and poets who joined in with the interviews to  help to show what a treat is in store at our book fair. Do please drop in to our website:   Narberth Book Fair, cleverly put together by the brilliant Thorne Moore.

There are forty authors, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults: workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children; Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire. Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

There is still time to  enter the poetry competition: competition Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter and, hopefully, will be with us at the fair), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

The line up so far:

Judith Barrow

Thorne Moore

Juliet Greenwood

Graham Watkins

Rebecca Bryn

Helen Williams

Sally Spedding

Katy Whateva

Sara Gethin

Cheryl Rees-Price

Jackie Biggs

Judith Arnopp

Colin R Parsons

Kate Murray

Hugh Roberts

Carol Lovekin

Catherine Marshall

Tracey Warr

Steve Thorpe

Wendy Steele

I must say I’ve enjoyed interviewing all the poets and authors and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. There will still be plenty of news about the book fair over the next few weeks. In the meantime, do think about entering the competition and don’t forget to put your name down for any of the workshops; numbers are limited.
Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Brook Cottage Books Presents Not Thomas by Sara Gethin.

Not Thomas Tour Banner

 

sara brook cottage

ABOUT SARA GETHIN

Sara Gethin is the pen name of Wendy White. She grew up in Llanelli and studied theology and philosophy at Lampeter, the most bijoux of universities. Her working life has revolved around children – she’s been a childminder, an assistant in a children’s library and a primary school teacher. She also writes children’s books as Wendy White, and her first, ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’, won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014. Her own children are grown up now, and while home is still west Wales, she and her husband spend much of their free time across the water in Ireland. ‘Not Thomas’ is her first novel for adults.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaraGethinWriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgethinwriter

Blog: www.saragethin.com

Website: www.saragethin.com

Not tomas brook Cottage

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Honno Press

Tomos lives with his mother. He longs to return to another place, the place he thinks of as home, and the people who lived there, but he’s not allowed to see them again. He is five years old and at school, which he loves. Miss teaches him about all sorts of things, and she listens to him. Sometimes he’s hungry and Miss gives him her extra sandwiches. She gives him a warm coat from Lost Property, too. There are things Tomos cannot talk about – except to Cwtchy – and then, just before Easter, the things come to a head. There are bad men outside who want to come in, and Mammy has said not to answer the door. From behind the big chair, Tomos waits, trying to make himself small and quiet. He doesn’t think it’s Santa Claus this time.

 When the men break in, Tomos’s world is turned on its head and nothing will be the same again.

EXCERPT

The lady’s here. The lady with the big bag. She’s knocking on the front door. She’s knocking and knocking. And knocking and knocking. I’m not opening the door. I’m not letting her in. I’m behind the black chair. I’m very quiet. I’m very very quiet. I’m waiting for her to go away.

I’ve been waiting a long time.

‘Thomas, Thomas.’ She’s saying it through the letter box.

‘Thomas, Thomas.’

I’m not listening to her. I’m not listening at all. She’s been knocking on the door for a long long time. I’m peeping round the black chair. I’m peeping with one of my eyes. She’s

not by the front door now. She’s by the long window. I can see her shoes. They’re very dirty. If Dat saw those shoes he’d say, ‘There’s a job for my polishing brush’.

She’s stopped knocking. She’s stopped saying ‘Thomas’. She’s very quiet. The lady can’t see me. I’m behind the big black chair. And I’ve pulled my feet in tight.

‘Thomas?’ she says. ‘Thomas?’ I’m not answering. ‘I know you’re in there. Just come to the window, sweetheart. So I can see you properly.’

I’m staying still. I’m not going to the window. I’m waiting for her to go back to her car. It’s a green car. With a big dent in it. If I hide for a long time she’ll go. She’ll get back in her car and drive away. She’s knocking. And knocking again.

She’s saying ‘Thomas.’ And knocking and knocking again.

‘Thomas.’ 

That is not my name.

 My Review: 

 Every now and then I read a book that sets all my senses tingling with the brilliance of it.

And this is why I wanted to write my review in a different way than normal.

 I don’t just mean that the characters are so multi-layered and rounded that I can empathise with them. Or that the descriptions give a wonderful sense of place that make the settings easy to envisage.  Or that the plot makes a story that is innovative and original.

I mean a book that holds all these… and more. And this novel does just that

 Not Thomas is narrated through the point of view of the protagonist, Tomas. He’s five years old. And, because of this, the narration and his dialogue are simplistic and poignant; the words jump off the page as those of a five year old child. And it works so well.  

We see his world; his home, his school, the people around him, through his eyes. We learn of his perception of himself, the capabilities of his body; often described in almost a third person, personification kind of way; “my ear is listening “, ” my teeth are hurting my tongue”

 Sara Gethin has an usual talent for seeing through the eyes of a child and I love her style of writing.

 Without giving any spoilers to this superb novel I will say that, despite the simplicity of a lot of the narrative, this is a dark, compelling story with a gripping plot. I could see this as a television drama.

 I thoroughly recommend Not Thomas. I’m not ashamed to say there were moments when I cried reading this story, sometimes in  a sad way but sometimes, as Tomas would say, when “my mouth was laughing”.

BUY LINKS

http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781909983625

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Not-Thomas-Sara-Gethin/dp/1909983624/

https://wordery.com/not-thomas-sara-gethin-9781909983625

 GIVEAWAY

3 e-copies (International) & 3 paperbacks (UK only)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017240/

 

new honno_logoNot Thomas Tour Banner