My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today With Clare Flynn #MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

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Welcome Clare, thank you for being here today.

 Good to be here, Judith

Firstly, could you tell us what made you decide to write in your genre?

It was not a conscious decision. The story of my first novel, A Greater World, came first and just happened to be set in 1920 and then I decided I liked the distance and perspective history gave to me and so stuck with the genre for the next books. I won’t guarantee that I will always stick to historical though!

What other authors of your genre are you connected/friends with, and do they help you become a better writer in any way?

I have many author friends across many genres. I’m a member of ALLi, the Historical Novel Society and The Romantic Novelists Association and I have made some wonderful supportive friendships through all of these. Since moving to the south coast from London last year I have co-founded a critique group with three other authors and an editor and we meet fortnightly to share extracts from our works in progress and give each other feedback. I have found this absolutely invaluable. I hope my editor and beta readers will agree when they get the new book shortly!

A Greater World: A woman's journey

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

I think that might be quite a handicap as empathy seems to me to be a critical asset for a writer. I struggle to imagine how you would write about strong emotions of you have never experienced them. That said, you don’t need to have experienced the same emotions if you can empathise and imagine your way into them. Whether or not you feel the emotions it’s absolutely crucial that you are able to convey them vividly on the page. Fortunately I’ve not experienced some of the terrible misfortunes that befall my characters – but I hope that hasn’t prevented me bringing them to life in my books. As crime writers always say – you don’t have to commit murder to write about it.

Do you want each book to stand alone or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I like your description of creating a body of work with connections between each book. I definitely don’t write series – each of my books is a standalone with different characters, locations, periods and so on. But there are themes that connect the books – particularly the idea of displacement – many of my characters are uprooted from a comfortable life and circumstances and plunged into a new world and life – often with a big geographical shift. I also think there are connections n my style of writing and my way of telling a story that makes a book a Clare Flynn book.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Somewhere on an inaccessible floppy disc in a box in my study is a draft of the opening chapters of a thriller I started to write in 1992. I think it’s probably best that it stays there! I also have the first draft of my next book which I am polishing now, ready to get it out to my beta readers. I spend a lot of time “mulling” before I start to write and now if I start a book, I finish it!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I don’t find it particularly difficult. I’ve always been in the company of men – especially at work. I’ll leave it to my readers to judge how well I write them!

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do some preliminary research before I begin – but very light touch. Most of my serious research is done during the writing process. I find reading around the subject helps balance my time and interest relative to writing. I read a lot of general background – for example about the era or the setting. I also do specific fact checking – mostly online – to check for anachronisms etc, to look for added colour – e.g. a song or a movie out in the year I am writing about. Place is very important. I have visited everywhere I write about and some instances revisited many times. For my second book, Kurinji Flowers, I returned to India to work on the final draft and stayed for a fortnight on a tea plantation living in a 1930s bungalow in the location where the book is set – basically reliving the life and walking in the footsteps of my main character. She was an artist so I also did a lot of painting and sketching of the kind of things she would have drawn. I based the Club in the book on a real one and assumed I would be able to visit it and look around, and so I didn’t write to them in advance – I had to practically prostrate myself at the feet of the Club Manager in order to grovel my way inside – and he wouldn’t allow me to take any photos nor to bring my driver with me (“He must wait outside”). Snobbery didn’t die out with the departure of the British! It was well worth the grovelling as it was a time capsule and I was able to use what I saw there directly in the book.

How do you select the names of your characters?

With a lot of brain-aching! I sometimes change the names as I go along as I find they don’t fit. I like going to graveyards and poking around to find unusual names. My last book The Green Ribbons had a lot of unusual and interesting names – Hephzibah WIldman, Merritt Nightingale, Abigail Cake, Mercy Loveless… but my next book has ordinary sounding names like Roger, Brenda, Jim and Pauline. It’s “horses for courses”.

 

The Green Ribbons

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

It definitely energises me.

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

Make the time to write. Keep at it. Just do it!

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

£75 to join the Alliance of Independent Authors – ALLi. The most brilliant source of knowledge, advice, camaraderie, encouragement and writerly friendship. I can’t imagine how I’d have got by without them.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’m done with work now! I had a very fulfilling career as a Marketing director – and then as a consultant. I’ve travelled widely with my work, met some amazing and interesting people, and been privileged to work with some of the greatest companies in the world.

Have you ever had reader’s block?

No. I am lost if I’m without a book. A terrible night in my life was being stuck in a German hotel the night before a business meeting without anything to read – I’d left my book on the plane!

I couldn’t begin to write if I hadn’t got decades of wonderful books behind me. I think the most important asset for a writer is to be a reader.

What do you think is the best way to market your books?

If I can get in front of people I can sell my books – especially if I do a reading. Sadly that’s not very efficient in either time or money! I’m still figuring out the best way to market my books. People think as a career marketer it must be easy for me. Well it isn’t!

Kurinji Flowers

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes I do read them. I rejoice in the good ones and move on from the bad ones. No one wants to read a bad review but every author gets them occasionally. You just have to get over it. It takes all sorts. Take a look on GoodReads at some of the one-star hammering that great authors receive!

Would you like to talk about your latest book here.?

My latest book will be coming out later this year. It’s set in WW2 in Eastbourne, the seaside town I moved to last year. The town was subject to extraordinarily heavy bombardment by the Germans – firstly to soften it up before the planned invasion that Hitler cancelled, and later as it was easy for planes to zip across the Channel and dump bombs without having to cross the radar and anti-aircraft fire – then zip straight back. The book is the story of Gwen, a buttoned-up Englishwoman and Jim a young Canadian soldier. The town was the base for thousands of Canadians during the War. I like to put people together who in normal circumstances would never have met. This is a key element of A Greater World and Kurinji Flowers and to some extent Letters from a Patchwork Quilt.

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My most recently published book is The Green Ribbons (2016). It is set in a Berkshire village in 1900. Many readers have said it reminds them of Jane Eyre – the main character is orphaned and compelled to earn a living as a governess – but I think the resemblance stops there.

Please supply links to all your social media including websites.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/clarefly

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorclareflynn/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clarefly/

My website – http://www.clareflynn.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Review of Bully Boy Blue: A dark psychological suspense thriller by John Nicholl #crime #FridayReads

Bully Boy Blue: A dark psychological suspense thriller by [Nicholl, John]

I received an ARC of Bully Boy Blue from the author in return for an honest review.

The Blurb:

Every aspect of Kathy’s life is dominated by her abusive bully boy husband. Now she’s pregnant and in fear for her life. Can she ever escape him?

A gripping page-turner of a psychological thriller packed with suspense. Discover John Nicholl’s chilling new short story today

My review:

 The Blurb says it all… and more. The desperation, the ability to deceive, the reality of not knowing what goes on behind closed doors. Hidden truths. 

This is a novella; yet the shortness of the story does not detract from its chilling quality. The portrayal of both the characters in the book are frighteningly real and disturbing; the husband who convinces the outside world that he is a caring, long-suffering man with an unstable wife, the tense, oppressed wife, yearning to escape yet fearful.

 To say I loved this book might seem odd  but I love this author’s writing. His style is rich in both a sense of place and in his portrayal of the characters. Both the spoken and inner  dialogue is realistic and  draws the reader in.

I can’t recommend Bully Boy Blue highly enough for the above reasons

 I’ve also included an interview I had with John some while ago: 

john nicholls

 

May I start by asking you why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? 

I guess that given my career in law enforcement and child protection, psychological thrillers chose me. I’d like to write something light, funny and life affirming, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.

And how long have you been writing?

I wrote a multi agency child protection guide and articles for newspapers and a national social work magazine during my career, but ‘White is the coldest colour’ was my first novel. I began writing fiction about five years ago.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

I wrote ‘White is the coldest colour’ with the primary intention of producing an entertaining and original psychological suspense thriller. However, I also hoped it would play a small part in raising awareness of the risks posed by sexual predators. Reader feedback suggests I went some way towards achieving those ends. ‘When evil calls your name,’  the sequel, addresses domestic physical and psychological violence towards women, within the context of the story. Again, I hope it raises awareness of the problem to some extent.

white

 John hasn’t said a lot about his books so I’m adding the next few lines myself. This is the blurb on Amazon for White is the coldest colour:  “The Mailer family are oblivious to the terrible danger that enters their lives when seven-year-old Anthony is referred to the child guidance service by the family GP following the breakdown of his parents’ marriage. 
Fifty-eight year old Dr David Galbraith, a sadistic predatory paedophile employed as a consultant child psychiatrist, has already murdered one child in the soundproofed cellar below the South Wales Georgian town-house he shares with his wife and two young daughters. 
Anthony becomes Galbraith’s latest obsession and he will stop at nothing to make his grotesque fantasies reality.

The book includes content that some readers may find disturbing from the start. It is dedicated to survivors everywhere.”

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book? 

I spent twenty years as a social worker, which was all the research I needed. My books are entirely fictional, but they draw heavily on my professional experiences. I worked with some amazing people, some of whom have contributed to the characters I’ve created.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

I like to get inside the characters’s heads, and to portray their thoughts and feelings in addition to their actions.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

In many ways, writing ‘White is the coldest colour’ was cathartic, but it brought back some memories which were perhaps best left in the past.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? 

Everyone has the right to live free of the fear of oppression and violence. I think those are the key principles underpinning my novels. Both of my first two books address important social issues, and talk about subjects many in society would prefer to ignore.

And, here again, I add the blurb on John’s second book: When Evil Calls Your Name: 

“When twenty-nine-year-old Cynthia Galbraith struggles to come to terms with her traumatic past and the realities of prison life, a prison counsellor persuades her to write a personal journal exploring the events that led to a life sentence for murder. 
Although unconvinced at first, Cynthia finally decides she has all the time in the world and very little, if anything, to lose. She begins writing and holds back nothing: sharing the thoughts she hadn’t dare vocalise, the things that keep her awake at night and haunt her waking hours.”

What inspires you?

Family, spirituality, justice, beauty, travel, art, great writing, yoga and so much more.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I’ve been unbelievably lucky, in that the success of my first novel has enabled me to write full time. Now all I have to do is to keep writing books people want to read. I suspect that’s going to prove to be a lot easier said than done.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I tarred roads, emptied bins, and worked as a kitchen porter before moving on to police and social work. Once I qualified as a social worker, I worked for two social services departments, the child guidance service, and the NSPCC.  I’ve also lectured on child protection at several colleges and universities. I like to think my woking life has helped introduce an air of realism to my writing.

How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

The more reading options open to people the better. Ebooks are relatively cheap and accessible, and that has to be a good thing. The publishing world is changing fast, enabling writers to self publish, if they so wish, and to let potential readers decide if their work is worth buying. I’ve chosen to remain independent despite contact offers from three publishers, and I would encourage anyone considering writing a book to give it a go. It’s never been easier to get your writing out there in front of the public.

What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

I believe that reading will always be a major pastime, although the introduction as alternatives like audio books gives people a viable alternative.Both my books were recently produced as audio books, and I have to admit that I was both surprised and impressed by the additional dimensions the narrators brought to the text.

Find John here:

http://bit.ly/29s3BAq

http://amzn.to/29CN2qh

https://twitter.com/nicholl06

http://bit.ly/29BhTAt

Buying Links: Amazon.co.uk:

White is the coldest colour: http://amzn.to/29tXtsO

When evil calls your name: http://amzn.to/29Bfy8G

Bully Boy Blue: http://amzn.to/2oc0abZ

Amazon.com:

White is the coldest colour: http://amzn.to/29x73Nf

When evil calls your name: http://amzn.to/29sIcfR

Bully Boy Blue: http://amzn.to/2oaVjYs

 

My Review of Tropical Shadows by Susie Vereker for #RBRT #FridayReads

 

Tropical Shadows by [Vereker, Susie]

I was given a copy of Tropical Shadows as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team and for an honest and unbiased review

 I gave Tropical Shadows 3* out of 5*

The Blurb:

Respectable Julia is horrified to receive a phone call from the British Consul saying that her teenage sister Emily has been thrown in jail on a South-East Asian island for alleged drug smuggling.

Immediately she takes the next plane for Maising, leaving her disgruntled husband behind.

Even more bad news, nobody knows the whereabouts of her sister’s child.

Julia visits the jail where Emily insists toddler Rosie is safe because she’s with a trusted friend.

But where the trusted friend is, no one knows.

Emily, a teenage single mum on a belated gap year plus toddler, says she bought a padded cotton bag from an itinerant seller at the bus station.

Yet when she went through airport security, the bag was found to have a false bottom containing cannabis.

Julia believes Em’s claims that she’s been framed, but the young Consul says the penalties for drug smuggling are severe, as in many other parts of South East Asia.

Obviously Julia wants to rescue her sister and find her child as quickly as possible.

The British Embassy vainly tries to help and so does Duncan Hereford, an expat doctor with something of a past, and Julia’s pompous husband keeps phoning with his ideas too.

The Embassy advises it is imperative the British Press don’t get to hear about Emily because the tabloids are bound to write nonsense about backward foreign Maising and offend the Prince, making Emily’s chances of receiving a royal pardon highly unlikely.

But she’s innocent, Julia keeps saying but no one will believe her.

Meanwhile there are constant rumours from the outlying islands that a white child has been seen and Duncan offers to take Julia on several boat trips to investigate, all in vain.

But then the tabloids get hold of the story of the beautiful imprisoned British girl and her lost baby and all hell breaks loose. And Emily’s bad-news ex-boyfriend, the toddler’s natural father, begins to take an interest.

Tropical Shadows is a delightful story of sibling love and loyalty that will capture your heart.

My Review:

Firstly,  I’d like to say I think the Blurb gives away  too much of the plot. When I read a book I like to find out for myself what happens; to discover the story for myself. 

 Tropical Shadows begins interestingly and sets up the story in the long first chapter.  The reader is thrust into the plot right away and I was looking forward to a tense read.  A young girl caught with drugs and imprisoned into a primitive prison in a foreign country has all the ingredients of a disturbing, even sinister tale. Add to that a disquieting parallel plot of a missing child and the expectation of tension grows.

There are quite a few portrayals of interesting characters who add background to Tropical Shadows, some well-written descriptions of the settings that give a good sense of place, and a quite good insight to how Embassies could be run. It’s a good plot.

But, as a whole, I’m afraid it didn’t work for me. I found difficult to have any empathy with both the protagonist or any of the main characters because I didn’t feel I got to know them. And, somehow, the dialogue isn’t emotional enough; it doesn’t show the fear, the anxiety, the hopelessness of the some of the situations.  The words are there but there is no showing of rise and fall of crisis and conflict in the characters or the action. And every now and again the story falls into telling, rather than showing, especially when relating the past.

Perhaps a tighter, final edit  could resolve these issues.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2nk97f2

Amazon.com:hhttp://amzn.to/2lIswtX

Introducing Honno Author, Sarah Gethin.

 

sara-gethin

Sara Gethin is a pen name of award-winning author Wendy White. She grew up in Llanelli, an industrial town in south west Wales, and graduated in theology and philosophy from Lampeter, the country’s most bijoux of universities. She has been a primary school teacher, an assistant in a children’s library and a childminder. She writes for and about children. Her own children are grown up, and while home is still west Wales, she now lives in a small town with a castle. She and her husband enjoy travelling to Ireland and spending as much free time as possible in their Dublin bolthole.

Hi  Sara, lovely to have you with us today.

Good to be here, Judith

I’d like to chat with you about your debut book for Honno. But first please tell us a little about when you started writing?

I joined a writing class run by Swansea University around fourteen years ago when my youngest child started secondary school. I was working as a supply teacher and had some time on my hands – and I was probably feeling a little redundant in the ‘mothering’ department. I’d enjoyed writing as a child, filling notebook after notebook with stories, and even as an adult I always had plenty of make-believe rolling around my head, but I never seemed to find the time to write anything down. Joining the class, and the homework we were set, gave me a reason to write, and I soon found I loved it. Even now I still rework some of the pieces I wrote back then – in fact, one short story became the basis for my novel.

What do you write?

I began by writing children’s books under my real name of Wendy White. My first – ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’, published by Gomer Press – won the Tir na n-Og Award in 2014, and that was really encouraging. It spurred me on to write two more children’s books, ‘Three Cheers for Wales’ and ‘St David’s Day is Cancelled’.

All the time I was working on these, I was also writing a novel for adults. It’s called ‘Not Thomas’ and will be published by Honno Press this June. It’s about a five-year-old boy who’s returned to the care of his mother and isn’t allowed to see his beloved foster father anymore. His mother’s hiding a drug addiction and she badly neglects him. Despite the subject matter, the novel does have plenty of lighter moments too. I decided to adopt the pen name of Sara Gethin for this new venture to make a clear distinction between my light-hearted children’s books and my darker writing for adults.

not-thomas-front-cover-for-ai-1-12-16

 

What drew you to this genre?

Having been a primary school teacher, I guess it was natural that I’d lean towards writing for and about children. In fact, every job I’ve ever done has been child-related, from my first Saturday job on a market stall selling toys, to a stint working in Mothercare and then at my local children’s library. I’ve been a child-minder too in between teaching jobs. I was interested in writing a novel that had a child’s viewpoint, and although the central character in ‘Not Thomas’ isn’t based on one child in particular, some of the things he experiences have happened to children I’ve known through teaching.

What process did you go through to get published?

I took what might seem an unusual route to have ‘Not Thomas’ published, as I didn’t send it to an agent or direct to the slush pile of a publisher. Last year I came across a ‘Meet the Editor’ scheme run by Honno Press, a publisher of women writers living in Wales or with a strong connection to the country. Honno’s scheme offers an opportunity to have the first fifty pages and synopsis of your novel read by an editor – in my case, Caroline Oakley who previously worked for Orion – followed by a face to face discussion. I nervously applied and was delighted when Caroline liked the start of my novel enough to ask to read the rest. When she offered to publish it, I was walking on air for weeks.

The process with my first children’s book was different. I rather naively sent the manuscript of a story to Gomer Press without checking what they publish. It didn’t meet with success. Gomer publishes stories with a Welsh dimension that celebrate the culture of Wales, and my story didn’t have that. Fortunately the editor was kind, complimented me on my writing style and encouraged me to rework it and send it to her again. I appreciated her praise but very foolishly ignored her advice and just put my story away in a drawer. It took me five years to realise that I could rewrite my story giving it a Welsh flavour – quite literally, as it was about food. When I submitted for a second time, it was accepted.

How do you market your books?

A very good question. When I was writing my first book, I didn’t give a thought to how I would actually sell it – I simply assumed the publisher would take care of all that. While I do get a lot of support from the lovely marketing people at my publishers, I quickly discovered that books don’t sell themselves – well, mine don’t anyway! I’m quite active on social media, with twitter and Facebook accounts, and I have a Sara Gethin website which includes a weekly blog. I visit schools and libraries, and give talks to writing and WI groups. I also take part in book-signings at WHSmiths, Waterstones, indie bookshops and book fairs.

While in the beginning I was very nervous about talking to people about my books, I now really enjoy doing book-related events. Meeting lots of different people and chatting about writing is, for me, one of the perks of being an author. And it’s very rewarding when someone tells you how much they’ve enjoyed your book.

What else have you written?

I occasionally write short stories and was lucky enough to have a story short-listed for the Colm Tóibín International Award in 2016. I’m working on a novel for young adults and recently the start of this was highly commended in the Winchester Writers’ Festival competition. I also enjoy writing poetry, although I usually average only one or two a year.

Where can we buy your books?

‘Not Thomas’ is available from Honno Press and Amazon in paperback priced at £8.99, and also in e-book.

My children’s books are available from bookstores in Wales and online from Amazon and Gomer Press directly.

Thank you for the interview today, Sara.

Thank you, Judith!

Social Media and Book Links for Sara Gethin

Website & Blog: saragethin.com

Facebook: @SaraGethinWriter

Twitter: @SGethinWriter

Amazon author page:

 www.amazon.co.uk/Sara-Gethin/e/B01N80LC5M

 Social Media and Book Links for Wendy White

Website: wendywhite.org.uk

Facebook: @wendywhitewriter

Twitter: @Wendy_J_White

Amazon author page:

www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-White/e/B00JVWMDGW

 

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Merryn Allingham#MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

Today, I’m chatting with Merryn Allingham. Merryn was born into an army family and spent her childhood on the move. Unsurprisingly, it gave her itchy feet and in her twenties she escaped from an unloved secretarial career to work as cabin crew and see the world. The arrival of marriage, children and cats meant a more settled life in the south of England where she’s lived ever since. It also gave her the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually teach at university.

Merryn has always loved books that bring the past to life, so when she began writing herself the novels had to be historical. She finds the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries fascinating eras to research and her first book, The Crystal Cage, had as its background the London of 1851. The Daisy’s War trilogy followed, set in India and London during the 1930s and 40s.

Her latest novels explore two pivotal moments in the history of Britain. The Buttonmaker’s Daughter is set in Sussex in the summer of 1914 as the First World War looms ever nearer and its sequel, The Secret of Summerhayes, forty years later in the summer of 1944 when D Day led to eventual victory in the Second World War. Along with the history, of course, there is plenty of mystery and romance to keep readers intrigued.

merryn

 

 

Hi, Merryn, good to see you here, I’m looking forward to our chat. 

Thanks for inviting me, Judith. 

Please tell us How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve needed to put pen to paper. As a small child, I wrote poems, at grammar school there were short stories that I never dared mention – creative writing was definitely not encouraged. Then the long letters home while working as cabin crew (pre internet and mobile phones) and at least two ten year diaries. Deep down, though, I knew it was a novel I had to write. But between family, pets and my job as a lecturer, there was little time to do more than dabble. However, when the pressures eased, I grabbed the chance to do something I’d always promised myself – to write that novel.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I worked for twenty-five years as a university lecturer teaching English Literature and when I came to write, it proved a two-edged sword. I’d spent years analysing how a piece of writing worked (or didn’t) so in theory I knew the basics. But that same background of academic research and teaching was a huge barrier to writing popular fiction and I hadn’t a clue how to begin, although I knew I wanted to. Then one morning I woke up and the idea was there. I would start where I felt most comfortable – in the Regency with a book along the lines of Georgette Heyer, whom I’ve read and reread a hundred times since my teenage years.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

It wasn’t until I’d completed the book, that I thought about a publisher. You can see how naive I was! I discovered that Harlequin Mills and Boon was one of the few who published Regency romances and were happy to accept unsolicited manuscripts. When I read they were willing to help polish my work if the writing showed promise, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

It took a long, long time for them to get back to me and in the meantime I’d made a start on novel number two. When eventually I received their feedback, it was complimentary. They liked my voice, they liked the characters and the plot but – you soon learn there’s always a ‘but’ – there were elements that didn’t fit what they wanted in a Mills and Boon novel. Would I care to revise? I certainly would. I set about getting the manuscript as right as I could before resubmitting. Another long wait followed, six months this time, and then ‘the call’ came (by this time I was half way through a third novel – the bug had truly bitten). I remember I was sitting on the sofa feeling doleful from a bout of December flu when the phone rang. Despite the coughs and splutters, it felt pretty special hearing an editor say I was being offered a two book contract.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I started publishing over six years ago, producing six Regency romances under the name of Isabelle Goddard. Writing category historical romance proved a great apprenticeship, but left me wanting to broaden my scope and move into mainstream women’s fiction. It also left me wanting to create something a little darker. It hadn’t escaped my notice that with each succeeding Regency, the mystery element of the novels had become more pronounced. It seemed a natural progression then to segue into writing suspense, but still with an element of romance. In 2013, I adopted a different writing name – Merryn Allingham – and launched myself into the new genre.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I write historical novels so research is essential, and it’s something I enjoy hugely. Delving into history, I get to live in different houses, wear different clothes, meet different people and confront different choices. For The Buttonmaker’s Daughter, I did several months’ research in addition to what I already knew of the period, reading up on the social history of the country house, for instance, plotting the timeline of the First World War, understanding the pressures that led to emigration, and so on. The book is set in the summer of 1914, a cataclysmic moment for this country, and I feel a deep attachment to the world that was lost then. The First World War affected millions of lives across every class and community, with so few understanding the reality of the war they were called to join.

merryn-cover

                                                          http://amzn.to/2ln5iWu

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarize your writing process.

It’s interesting how often a place begins the process for me. I mull over possibilities of what might have happened there, and who it might have happened to. The mulling probably goes on for a couple of months. Then I might do some reading around the subject. For example, last year I travelled on the Orient Express to Venice and was blown away by the beauty of its art deco carriages. I wondered what it must have been like to travel on the train the whole way to Constantinople, as Istanbul was once known. That led me to reading about the last days of the Ottoman Empire which in turn led to a fairly detailed plot outline for a new book. The outline will change as I write almost certainly, but I have a structure now to work with. At the least, I know where the story will start and how it will end. The rest should fall into place as I write.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

This is another instance of place playing a significant role. I was on a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, ‘lost’ because they were only rediscovered in 1990 and since that time have been lovingly restored. The gardens’ heyday was the late Victorian/Edwardian period when owners spent a great deal of money, time and effort, in creating a beautiful and exotic paradise. But, when in 1914, war came to England, everything changed. Over half the staff perished in the mud of Flanders and the gardens were left to a slow disintegration.

Our guide that day had a fund of anecdotes and it was a single image from one of his stories that lodged in my mind and set me writing. On one particular day in the summer of 1914, every gardener on the estate downed tools together and walked side by side to Redruth, to enlist at the local recruiting centre. Most of those men never returned. The Day Book, which should have listed every job done on the estate that day, carried only the date and poignantly was never used again. The image of those men, honourable and courageous, walking together to enlist in what they saw as a just cause, stayed in my mind, and I knew I had to record that moment in a novel.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I try to do both. There’s a temptation, particularly under pressure from publishers, to repeat what has worked before, but readers can get bored with what is virtually the same story, just a different setting and different characters. I try to vary how I tackle each project. Daisy’s War is a trilogy exploring several themes across the three books but with each a complete story.

daisys-war

http://amzn.to/2meJiwt

The Crystal Cage is a novel with parallel time lines, that interweaves the lives of a modern day heroine and her Victorian counterpart.

 

the-crysatl-cage

http://amzn.to/2meFtr8

And the Summerhayes books (the second novel, The Secret of Summerhayes, is due out in August) are centred on one location but set thirty years apart, during the two World Wars. What remains constant in all the novels, though, is the mix of social history, suspense, and romance.

What do you like to read in your free time?

My choice of reading is fairly wide. I try to keep up with books in my genre – at the moment, I’m looking forward to reading Nicola Cornick’s The Phantom Tree. I also read some of the latest literary fiction and often go back to old favourites such as 19th century novels. Then there are the books I read for my book group. We’re currently into a season of Virago and I’ll be introducing one of my favourites, A Pin to See the Peepshow by F Tennyson Jesse. I read the book years ago and liked it a lot, and found the television series excellent.

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

I’d tell myself to get rid of the censor in my head and allow the words to flow. I’ve learned from experience that some will be rubbish, some will be reasonable and a few will be nuggets of gold. I’d realise that I need to be disciplined and write as regularly as possible. And finally I’d counsel myself to learn patience – it often takes a long time to get anywhere.

About the book

My latest book published on January 12th is The Buttonmaker’s Daughter. It is set in the summer of 1914 in a country mansion called Summerhayes. Nestled in the Sussex countryside, the Summerhayes estate seems the perfect country idyll, but it faces the threat of a war that looms ever closer. It also faces threats nearer to home. The daughter of the house, Elizabeth, is at odds with a society based on rigid gender and class divisions. She has struggled unsuccessfully to become a professional artist and now is forced to fight against her family’s choice of husband. Her adolescent brother, William, already a disappointment to his father, must confront his true sexuality. And a long-running feud with the Summers’ neighbours, fuelled by money and jealousy, intensifies to breaking point. As the sweltering heat builds to a storm, Elizabeth, her family and household, face danger on all sides. The summer of 1914 will change everything for them, as indeed it did for so many.

Find Merryn here:

Website: www.merrynallingham.com

Facebook: www.tinyurl.com/m322ovu

Twitter: @MerrynWrites

Pinterest:  http://tinyurl.com/jnapbpm

Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/zxm9ku4

 

 

 

 

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Terry Tyler #author

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

Today I’m with Terry Tyler. I first met Terry through Twitter after I’d read and reviewed Kings and Queens for RBRT.  Since then I’m always waiting for her next book… and the next. Good job she’s such a prolific author.

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Hi, Terry, good to see you here, I’m looking forward to our chat. 

Thanks for inviting me, Judith. 

 Tell us why you chose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I’m not sure I have ever chosen a genre, as such; I just choose a story I want to write from the few currently in my head, and worry about what category it fits into afterwards.  Yes, I’m a book marketing nightmare!  But they’re always based around the connections between people.  Interactions within families are often the most complex and interesting of relationships, with the most potential for love, jealousy, resentment, etc, so the family saga aspect of my novels evolved of its own accord, and I think reached its zenith with The House of York, though I am not finished with it yet!  Sometimes my books fall into different genres, such as psychological drama/thriller, or my current WIP which has a post-apocalyptic setting; I suppose I write in more than one genre, yes, but those might all occur within one book.  I know I ought to think about balancing it better *holds hand out for slapped wrist*.

(Laughing!!! – not slapping wrist)

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Nine or ten unpublished, that I wrote in the days before Amazon Kindle, and about three that I’ve started since, but given up because my heart was not in them.

What was the first book that made you cry?

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico, I think.  I read it when I was about sixteen, after seeing the TV dramatization with Jenny Agutter and Richard Harris, and cried buckets at both.  Later, in my early twenties, there was Mirage by Andrea Newman.  It’s about a woman with an unfaithful husband, who leaves him when she can’t stand it anymore.  She tries so hard to build up a new life but, some time later, accepts that she will never be happy without him.  She contacts him and begs to be able to see him, just sometimes, even though he has married again; she ends up as his mistress.  It’s heartbreaking.  I found the thought of not being able to move on from a broken relationship quite terrifying; maybe the book influenced my own ‘recovery rate’ later in life!  Most sinisterly, the dedication in the Penguin paperback reads simply, ‘For Terry’.  How about that, eh?

 How about that! And sinisterly- great word – wonder if you can copyright a word?

You Wish...

What do you think is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Judging by some of the books I’ve read in which it’s been done badly, I’d say it’s understanding that there is more to writing someone of the opposite sex than giving them an appropriate name, describing their lustrous auburn tresses/strong broad shoulders, then writing them out of your own head.  You’ve got to understand what makes the opposite sex tick, the differences between the sexes, how men talk to each other when there are no women around, and vice versa.

Good answer! In that case how do you select the names of your characters?

Sometimes they arrive in my head with their name attached.  If they don’t, I try out lots of different names according to social class, generation and my own preferences, until I find one that ‘sits’ right.  I am careful not to have any main and secondary characters with similar names, or those starting with the same letter, as this can be confusing for the reader.

Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers

What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I am a bit lazy/not dedicated enough about promotion.  I detest Facebook, have never used Google +, Pinterest or most of the other sites that we’re ‘meant’ to use for spreading the word.  I don’t do paperbacks because I would rather watch ten solid hours of Celebrity Big Brother than do literary festivals and signing sessions, which is, I believe, one of the main ways in which ‘indie’ authors sell them.  I can’t see myself hawking them round independent bookshops, either; sales is not my forté.  I rely solely on Twitter, book blogs, Amazon visibility and word of mouth.  This detracts from my writing time in that I do all my Twitterly and blog stuff first thing, and it often takes more time than I intend, because I enjoy it.  On the other hand, I turn on my laptop as soon as I get up, while I’m letting my first coffee of the morning do its stuff, so in a way it ‘warms me up’ for the writing day!

 

What do you like to read in your free time?

Historical fiction is a great favourite, if it’s very well researched and teaches me about the era.  I like my histfic quite heavy: battles, feuds, struggles against authority, the settling of old scores, the dark and desperate.  My other favourite genre is post apocalyptic; I love to read anything about survival in adverse circumstances, so I also like polar and seafaring adventures, as long as they go horribly wrong.  I love good zombie fiction, and some general contemporary dramas, if they’re edgy and realistic.  I’ll read horror type thrillers, too (I do love a good psychopath), but not paranormal/supernatural.  Not interested in things that go bump in the night.  Apart from zombies.

 An eclectic mix then, Terry.  But zombies!  (shivering) Your enthusiasm almost makes me want to give the genre a go… almost. 

So, what projects are you working on at the present?

I’m currently editing the first book in my post apocalyptic series.  It’s about a targeted depopulation plot that goes wrong.  As touched upon in your first question, it’s still very much a character-orientated drama, and centres around my 34 year old protagonist, Vicky, her boyfriend and 16 year old daughter, and various friends.  As soon as I’ve sent it off for test/proofreading I shall start the next one; I plan to have the first two books ready to go before I publish the first, so the second can be released very soon afterwards, because I hate waiting six months for the next instalment when I’m reading a series.  I am not quite sure how the whole thing ends yet; I’m trying not to worry about this too much…  it might end prematurely if no one likes it!

What do your plans for future projects include?

Three of my books are contemporary family sagas based on events from history: Kings and Queens and Last Child, which is my updated story of Henry VIII, his wives and children, and The House of York, which was inspired by the Wars of the Roses.  I want to write another one, based on the life of Henry II and his four sons.  That’ll be next, after the current series.  I think.   Depends what else pops into my head, really.  I’ve been semi-planning a book set during the 14th century for a while, but am scared about writing histfic in case I can’t do it well enough.

Kings And Queens by [Tyler, Terry]Last Child by [Tyler, Terry]The House Of York by [Tyler, Terry]

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

That’s an interesting question, and one I’ve sat here and thought about for a while.  My answer is this: I think that those who have the urge to create, be it novels, poetry, music or painting, tend to feel emotions strongly, per se.  The two go hand in hand.  I’ve read novels in which the writer clearly has no idea about the emotion they aim to portray; out come the clichés and stock reactions.  On the other hand, feeling emotions deeply doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a good writer.  It’s all about whether or not you can get what’s in your head onto the paper, in such a way that others want to read it.

Round And Round

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

About 75%-25%, I think.  I can only write a book if I’m madly enthusiastic about it, and, alas, that book may or may not appeal to the people who liked the previous one.  However, once I start writing I do try to write as a reader, if you like, and remain aware of what makes me enjoy a book.  For instance, in my current WIP, I originally had the chapters alternating between the past and the present.  Half the story was about the build up to the virus to end all viruses, the other half taking place in the post-pandemic world.  Ten chapters in, I realised that every time I moved forward to ‘afterwards’, I was taking the reader away from build up to the disaster.  So I moved it all around and put it in straight chronological order.

 

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I read almost everything on ebook, it’s my choice every time.  I love the convenience, the price, the facilities on the Kindle app, everything.  The only downside is that I also love rooms filled with books, and 95% of those I’ve bought in the last five years are hidden away on my tablet.

As for alternative vs conventional publishing, all that matters is the words on the page, not who published them.  If a book is great, it’s great, and if it’s mediocre, it doesn’t matter how it’s dressed up.  I think self-publishing will only lose its stigma when everyone thinks like this, and realises that, in these days when anyone can set themselves up as a publisher, with independents and vanity presses popping up everywhere, ‘getting published’ is no longer necessarily an indication of quality.  A few months ago, a book blogger expressed surprise that I had not been ‘snapped up’ by a publisher; she meant it as a compliment, most kindly, but (after I’d thanked her!) I took the opportunity to explain to her that writers who self-publish usually do so by choice (by which I mean that we don’t submit our books to publishers), because we want to have control over every aspect of our work.  I know that some writers go with a publisher simply to give their books more credibility, and, indeed, it will take a long time before all book bloggers, reviewers and readers understand that self-published doesn’t mean substandard, and that there is a world of difference between a book deal from Simon & Schuster, a contract with a decent independent, and one with Joe Bloggs Publishing who doesn’t even recognise slack editing.

 

How do you find or make time to write?

Writing is what I do; it’s all the other stuff I have to make time for.  I haven’t done the ironing since 2014.  I think my husband’s been waiting for his dinner since around then, too.  (I did the ironing this afternoon, really; I’m having a ‘doing all the other stuff’ day!)

(Laughing!)  I call it ‘domestic trivia’. That puts it in its place.

Nobody's Fault

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I always read them.  Good ones are lovely, of course, absolutely make my day, but all reviews are helpful.  Obviously, nobody wants a bad one, and sometimes they can be irritating (like, when someone who usually reads crime thrillers complains that a light contemporary drama isn’t thrilling enough, which would be a bit like me reading a vampire book and giving it one star because I don’t like stories about vampires), but there are a hundred different ways to read everything, and some people will love what you do, some will like it, some will think it’s okay, and some will think it’s rubbish/boring.  I don’t agonise over bad ones.  I admit to reading them by peeping through my fingers like I do with scary films, though.

What It Takes

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

My most recent publication is The Devil You Know.

The Devil You Know by [Tyler, Terry]

It’s a psychological drama about five people who suspect that a local serial killer might be someone close to them.  There’s a mother who thinks it’s her son, an abused wife who thinks it’s her husband, a young chap who suspects the worst about his friend, etc etc.  It’s not a police procedural type crime thriller, as the actual detection of the killer plays only a small part in the whole novel.  I’m very pleased that the reviews have been some of the best I’ve ever received, and it appeared on four book bloggers’ ‘Best of 2016’ lists.  Yes, I know I should capitalise on that by writing something else in the same vein, but….I refer you back to Question One!

Thank you for inviting me to take part in your author interview feature, Judith.

Thank you for being here, Terry. It’s been fascinating listening to you.

 Connect with Terry here:

https://twitter.com/TerryTyler4

http://terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/

http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821157.Terry_Tyl

Today With Jan Newton.

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Introducing Jan Newton with her debut novel to be published by Honno in March 2017. Jan grew up in Manchester and Derbyshire and spent almost twenty years in the Chilterns before moving to mid Wales in 2005. She has worked as a bilingual secretary in a German chemical company, as an accountant in a BMW garage and a GP practice and as a Teaching Assistant in the Welsh stream of a primary school, but now she has finally been able to return to her first love, writing.

She graduated from Swansea University with a Masters degree in Creative Writing in 2015 and has won the Allen Raine Short Story Competition, the WI’s Lady Denman Cup competition, the Lancashire and North West Magazine’s prize for humorous short stories and the Oriel Davies Gallery’s prize for nature writing. Remember No More  is her first novel.

The Blurb for Remember No More 

Newly promoted DS Julie Kite is at a crossroads. Her husband’s new job takes her away from urban Manchester and its inner city problems to a new life in tranquil mid-Wales. It is to be a new start for them both. On her first day at Builth Wells police station, Julie is thrust unexpectedly into the centre of a murder investigation in a remote farming community. At the same time, Stephen Collins is set free from HMP Strangeways. He immediately makes his way back to mid-Wales, the scene of his heinous crime, in order to confront those who had a hand in his incarceration.

The twists and turns of the investigation into the death of solicitor Gareth Watkin force DS Kite to confront her own demons alongside those of her new community and the lengths to which we’ll go to protect our families.

 Hi Jan, I’m really pleased to be chatting with you today. These must be exciting times for you?.

 Hi Judith, Lovely to be here. And yes, I’m thrilled to be having my novel published with.Honno.

 Tell us, Jam, how did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

Having moved around the country I’m interested in the theme of ‘fitting in’, and the fact that there are different cultures and groupings in new places, but there are also other ways in which we can move into new, untested territory.  Remember No More investigates some of these – Julie Kite moves to Wales, but she is also entering a new phase in her marriage and in her work relationships.  Other characters have new situations to deal with in their lives.  This theme of being somewhere new and different intrigues me.

So why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I have always loved crime fiction and its adaption for television.  The best tv series, for me, combine fabulous production values and a sense of place – this is what I’m attempting to do in Remember No More.  I love the fact that writing crime fiction allows an author to comment on contemporary life – it’s all about life and death, the human condition.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

The story goes that it was much easier to teach me to read than to walk.  I could read before I went to primary school.  The Headmaster interviewed each child before they started in the infants, and when he ran out of reading cards, apparently, he asked me to read a story from The Telegraph.  I have always been a voracious reader.  I read every Enid Blyton and adored Swallows and Amazons, Black Beauty, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Bobbsey Twins – anything I could get my hands on.

How long have you been writing?

I was at primary school when I wrote my first novel, at the age of seven.  It was all about a little one-legged spaceman who crash-landed his spaceship (fortuitously for me) in my own suburb of north Manchester.  My teacher, Mrs Richmond, was very encouraging.  She baulked only slightly as she handed me my fourteenth Lancashire Education Committee exercise book in as many days.  Then, with the arrival of a Welsh Mountain Pony by the name of Pixie the following year, my passion turned to horses.  It was a very long time before I took up writing again, in 2008, with an Open University creative writing module.  Once I’d finished the OU degree I was lucky enough to go to Swansea University to do a Masters in Creative Writing, graduating in 2015.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

I’ve always felt that storytelling brings people together – whether on a family level, where parents read to their children, or on a much larger scale.  Charles Dickens, for instance, had the nation gripped with his serialisations, and JK Rowling (a good old-fashioned storyteller herself) captivated a generation of children with her Harry Potter novels.  In the age of the computer game and the soundbite it’s heartening to see that children can still escape into a good book and spend time there, using their imaginations.

How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?

I’m at my happiest in the great outdoors.  I grew up on the edge of the Peak District and spent every spare hour on a horse.  Remember No More is set in the same sort of vast, landscape, in mid Wales.  People are important in areas like this.  They may be few in number, but they are a real community and I have tried to depict that closeness which is, sadly, so rare in our frenetic world.

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What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

My main aim was to introduce my little part of mid Wales and to give a flavour of what it’s like to be an incomer.  I wanted to show the differences and similarities, the wonderful people and the scenery – as well as solving the crime, of course.  I hope people may want to come and see it for themselves.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

People.  I’m an inveterate people-watcher.  I love the way people interact, their relationships, strengths and weaknesses.  Place is very important too.  Certain places have had a huge influence on me, particularly Manchester and the Derbyshire where I grew up, but also mid Wales where we have lived for almost 12 years.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Starting it.  I didn’t know if I would be able to write a full-length novel.  I was writing short stories and nature writing – essay length pieces – so sustaining it, not paring down to basics was interesting.   I also found editing a challenge.  When I write short stories, they tend to arrive fully-formed and it’s just a case of writing them down, but to edit over and over requires a certain amount of patience and fortitude.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I really enjoyed staying with my characters for such a long time.  I’ve always felt with short stories, that you go to so much trouble with your characters, to get to know them, to understand them, and then a mere few thousand words later they’re gone.  It was a treat to be able to allow them room to grow.

Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers?  

I’ve used a smattering of Welsh words in the book.  This area of Wales doesn’t have a high percentage of Welsh speakers, but I worked as a teaching assistant in the Welsh unit of the primary school in Builth Wells and can confirm that the language is very much alive and well.  I wanted to give a flavour of the language, to show that it is still very important.

What inspires you?

All sorts of things inspire me.  The scenery in mid Wales is stunning.  It’s hard not to be inspired by the hills and valleys of Powys or the Ceredigion coast.  People too are a great source of inspiration; they’re capable of so many amazing things.  I’m also an inveterate people-watcher and eavesdropper, which can lead to tricky situations, but can also result in stories and even novels, with a little imagination and a huge amount of poetic licence.

How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

I’ve been very lucky.  Until I was eleven, we lived in Manchester, which I still think is the best city in the world.  Then my father, who was a television cameraman, decided he wanted to take on a run-down farm on the Cheshire/Derbyshire border.  We found ourselves in 30 acres and with half a dozen horses.  I was never indoors.  Fortunately, life has come full circle and we live on a smallholding in the Welsh hills, with an aged horse and a small but very bossy goat.

Who are some of your favourite authors that you feel were influential in your work?  What impact have they had on your writing?

I have always loved Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen –  Hardy for his ability to paint a scene, to put the reader into Casterbridge or on Egdon Heath and Austen for her wit and her deep understanding of what it is to be human.  Alan Bennett is an absolute genius, as was Victoria Wood, both of whom manage to tread the extremely fine line between humour and pathos so brilliantly.  I suppose these two, along with Ann Cleeves and Ian Rankin, are the writers who have influenced me the most – Bennett and Wood for their absolute attention to detail and Cleeves and Rankin for their ability to tell a gripping tale.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  

I think my love of reading has been incredibly useful.  For me, nothing beats that feeling when I have to stop and re-read something which has been said so brilliantly it takes my breath away.  Then I have to work out how it’s done, which words have been chosen and why.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I would love to be a full-time writer.  I need much more discipline to do that, and to get over the feeling that it’s not a ‘proper’ job.  I find that because people assume it’s a hobby, there are so many demands on my time.  I’m hoping that 2017 is the year that I can persuade myself I’m a writer.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I’ve had a variety of jobs.  I qualified initially as a bilingual secretary and worked for a German chemical company.  I’ve also worked as accounts manager in a BMW garage, fund-holding manager in a GP practice and teaching assistant in the Welsh unit of a primary school.

I’ve been married to Mervyn for over thirty years.  He has supported everything I’ve ever wanted to do – from playing flugel in a brass band to studying (two degrees with the Open University and a masters with Swansea University) to becoming a writer.  I think he hopes I might have stopped wanting to learn now, but I’m not sure I know how to stop.

For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

I would be so pleased if people wanted to explore mid Wales as a result of reading the book.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I still prefer to read print books.  There’s nothing quite like the smell and feel of a new book, or the sound of turning the pages.  I do read ebooks, but for me it’s much harder to escape into them, with e-mail notifications pinging up every couple of minutes.  Having said that, if more people read because of ebooks then that can only be a good thing.

What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

I think people will always read.  I do wonder whether we’ll go back to reading in instalments, as we did in Dickens’ day, waiting for the next chapter to be published.  People seem so short of time this may be an option in the future.  I worry that we are becoming so celebrity-obsessed that the quality of what makes it to publication may suffer, but I just can’t imagine a world without books or without writers and readers.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

I was very fortunate.  I was on a course at Ty Newydd in Llanystumdwy in 2013 and one of the tutors, Janet Thomas, told me that Honno were interested in crime fiction.  I sent them the first few hundred words and then the first few chapters and they offered me a contract.  They have been absolutely brilliant, helping me with every aspect of publication.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

As far as I know there isn’t much crime fiction based in mid Wales.  I hope the location will help it to be memorable.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarize your writing process.

When I write, it’s as though I’m there, in the story with the characters, so in that respect it’s intuitive.  Later, when I edit and make sure it makes sense, the logic kicks in.  I do think this balance might be different for different types of writing though.  I’ve found that writing a crime novel requires more up-front logic than writing short stories, for example.

 What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I’ve still a lot to learn about the promotional side of things.  I’m not a life and soul of the party sort of person and find it quite difficult to promote myself.  I have to say though, that it does make me think about my writing in a different way.  It’s lovely to sit on my own in splendid isolation and write, but it’s even nicer to think that people may want to read what I’ve written.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I do like to read crime fiction – Ann Cleeves, Ian Rankin, Phil Rickman, Val McDermid, for example, but I also love good non-fiction.  Kathleen Jamie is a favourite, as, of course is Alan Bennett.  His diaries are sheer escapism for me – a social history of Britain seen through the eyes of a remarkable writer.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m working on two novels.  One is based in the north of England and the other is the second Kite novel, a sequel to Remember No More.  I’m also working on a collection of nature writing essays, mostly based here in mid Wales, which I’m hoping to publish eventually.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I would love to write a sit com or a really good radio play.  There’s such skill involved in plays for radio.  I may be some time

 I’m sure one day we’ll be listening to a Jan Newton play on Radio Four. Good luck with all your writing and thank you for being here today, Jan. 

Thank you for for inviting me, Judith,it’s been fun.

That’s all for today, everyone.  Please see below all the links to find Jan and her book, Remember No More. 

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2k1kGJx

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