Welcome back to the incredible Julia Sutton — Melanie Mole

Welcome back to one of my favourite guests, Julia Sutton I love your books, and I know that you have a new one out very soon. Can you please tell us about it? Hi Meanie, firstly thank you very much for having me as a guest on your blog 😊 The Lake of Lilies is […]

via Welcome back to the incredible Julia Sutton — Melanie Mole

Author Interview with Kerry Watts

Kerry Watts

Q1. Tell me about yourself – biography, career, likes, dislikes, hobbies etc…anything you would like to share about yourself? Any fun, interesting facts? Please attach a photograph if possible.

I live in a growing village close to Perth where I was born and grew up. I’ve lived here all of my life apart from a short spell in South Wales. I trained as a psychiatric nurse and this experience can be found in my books to some degree or another. I love writing and have been scribbling for more than twenty years. I love reading which I’ve been doing for a lot longer than that. When I’m not writing I enjoy going to the Theatre and Cinema. I am a huge fan of Netflix and wonder how I lived without it. My favourite thing to watch and read is anything true crime. I’ve been fascinated by serial killers since I was a teenager but I don’t in any way want anyone to think I condone any of their brutal behaviour.
A great hobby of mine is a love of horseracing. One day I would love to own a racehorse filly and call her Heartlands. I would travel the country with her, hopefully watching her win. My twitter account is named after one of my all time favourite horses. Denman.
A little know fact about me is that I had a small, non speaking role in the movie The Rocket Post which I admit was not exactly a Hollywood blockbuster.
My writing day is fuelled by lots and lots of tea!
Q2. Can you tell me about your work – what have you written, what is it about, what type of genre is it?

I’ve dabbled in several genres throughout my writing life but come back to crime every time. I’m drawn to the genre through my interest in the connection between the disordered mind and crime. The two books in my DI Joe Barber series have the more sinister side of life at its heart, with serial killing being the central storyline. The DI Jessie Blake books lean more towards mental health issues and the devastating events that can take place as a result.

 

Q3. Can you tell me about your writing process e.g do you prefer to plan or write spontaneously, favourite writing times, pen or computer, how long do you spend writing?

I always start with an idea that I’ll allow to grow and develop just inside my head for a little bit. Then the notebook comes out and the idea is given a plot and characters. This is such a buzz to me. It gives me butterflies. I like to write every day. It doesn’t feel right not to. My goal is usually 2000 words a day but some days it’s more, some less. I’m happy if I can finish the week on 10,000 words. Not that I’m saying every one of those words are great. Some will be killed off never to be heard from again. I am a huge fan of notebooks. I keep them everywhere. My bag, my desk drawers, top of the desk, kitchen table, bedroom and living room. I need to be able to get my hands on pen and paper at short notice when an idea arrives. I have written entire manuscripts by hand but tend to use the laptop more these days. My favourite time of day to write is the morning and I can spend four or five hours writing followed by another hour or so after tea depending on family stuff that’s going on.

 

Q4. What inspires you? How do you come up with your ideas?

I’m inspired by real life events and the effect they have on people including the criminal themselves. I’m very interested in behavioural science and getting into the mind of the killer.
Q5. How long does it take you to write a book?

It can take me anything from six weeks and five months to write a book. I wrote Heartlands during the school summer holidays two years ago. I wrote it out by hand in a notebook bought specifically for that book. I sat on an armchair in the corner with the music channel on playing Kelly Clarkson among other things. My son kept me company playing or writing his own notes. The technique was successful enough to get me a three book deal with Bookouture. My son though is now too busy to help me recreate this process!

 

Q6. Favourite part of writing a book / least favourite part?

I have to admit getting the idea and watching it grow is my favourite part. I love the note taking and coming up with names which my son gets involved in. He’s good at coming up with names. The first draft is always my favourite when I’m writing it. Every book always feels like the best I’ve ever written. My least favourite is checking my Amazon ranking and seeing it has fallen. Less than perfect reviews get me down too.

 

Q7. Favourite character and why? From your own work.

I think I like Jessie Blake the best because she is striving to do the best job she can despite the tragedy she has suffered in her person life. I admire her strength and humanity. She is fair and filled with a dogged determination to get to the truth. She gets things wrong but is able to admit her mistakes. I worry for her but I know she’ll always make the right decision in the end and I hope it works out for her and Ben.
Q8. How did you break into publishing?

I began with self-publishing and I know now I was too impulsive. I decided that with the next book I wrote I would try and find a publisher. I was taken on by an independent publisher and although that hasn’t worked out I don’t regret it. I have since signed with Bookouture which is a highlight of my literary life. The only thing better than that was the brief time Heartlands received an Amazon bestseller sticker.

Q9. How do you market your books?

I use Facebook groups and Twitter to share my books.

 

Q10. What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research?

Not sure if it’s the strangest but the most fascinating was the countless videos I watched in order to get the mannerisms right for a serial killer character in my book Into Darkness.
Q11. Any tips for new / aspiring authors?

I would say just do it. The first draft is never perfect. Just get the words down. Don’t rush into making publishing decisions. Work with someone you feel believes and is as invested in your work as you are.

 

Q12. Do you think writing is an innate gift or something which can be learned?

Everyone is capable of writing a story. Humans have the most amazing imaginations and more people should it to share their stories with the world.

 

Q13. Have you ever participated in any writing courses / retreats? Have you any writing related qualifications? If so have they been beneficial?

Not yet but would consider a writing retreat.

 

Q14. Who are your favourite authors and why?

I am a huge fan of a large number of authors. Jeff Lindsay, Dan Brown, Isla Dewar, Louise Mullins, Billy McLaughlin, Samantha Downing, Kevin McManus and Jim Ody to mention a few.

 

Q15. What is your favourite novel and why?

I have many favourite novels. The Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Giving up on ordinary by Isla Dewar. These books I’ve found very difficult to put down with the strength of the story and writing.

 

Q16. If you weren’t an author – what would you love to do?

Good question. As a huge racing fan I think if I was smaller I would love to be a jockey.

 

Q17. What are your plans / dreams / ambitions for the future?

My ambition is to write a book that really makes people say wow. I’m still working on that!

 

Q18. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m working on book 3 in the DI Jessie Blake series. The editing part is hard but necessary. Today I’ll be writing the dedication and acknowledgements that the publisher likes to add. This is actually harder than it sounds.
I am getting excited about the forthcoming publication of Safe Home – book 2 in the Jessie Blake series and will be published on September 26th

 

Q19. Can you supply a favourite excerpt from any of your works?

Your social media links / website etc…
https://www.facebook.com/KerryWattsAuthor/
twitter.com/@Denmanisfab
http://kerrywatts.simplesite.com/
Book links

Author Interview with Jan Vockins

Jan Big Happy Photo(1)Hello Julia. Thank you so much for having me back on your blog. I really appreciate it.

Q1. Tell me about yourself – biography, career, likes, dislikes, hobbies etc…anything you would like to share about yourself? Any fun, interesting facts? Please insert a photograph if possible.
I’m an identical twin. We have that telepathic thing going on. She had my labour pains and I had the pains when she needed her appendix removing. We also gave up buying each other presents and birthday cards a long time ago when we kept buying each other the same ones despite living 150 miles away from each other, even down to the same wrapping paper!
For many years I worked as a palliative care social worker. I was blessed to be able to help people in the last few months, or days, of their lives. I was humbled by it.
I also teach courses for writers. One of my favourites is Meditation for Writers. Only $9.60 (approx £7.85 depending on the exchange rate), and it includes meditations on subjects which relate to writers and writing. Meditation stops me from having writers’ block. It’s brilliant for that.

Q2. Can you tell me about your work – what have you written, what is it about, what type of genre is it?
My previous books have all been non-fiction. My favourite was called The Nuns of Lemon Tree House. It was about my experience of going to live at a convent with nuns. Not many people get the chance to do that, so I was very lucky.
My new book, Writers’ Heaven, All The Way To Devon, On Gracie’s Vintage Bus is my first experience of writing fiction. It is about a group of writers who go on a trip and stay on Gracie’s bus. They do it as a means of supporting each other to write. I like to think that it is a heartwarming read. Some of the characters will be seen in the rest of the series too.
You can read a review for it here.

Q3. Can you tell me about your writing process e.g do you prefer to plan or write spontaneously, favourite writing times, pen or computer, how long do you spend writing?
I’m a bit of a writeaholic. Not sure if that is a word, but it describes me well. I will usually be found writing at many different times during the day, even if it is only for ten minutes here and there. If I can’t sleep I will get up and write too. I often find that I sleep well after doing that.
I always use a computer for the main bulk of my writing, but I do write notes in one of the many notebooks that I have when inspiration comes my way. I have always had a terrible memory. If I don’t write something down immediately it just goes and never returns. Notebooks really help me.

Q4. What inspires you? How do you come up with your ideas?
My first two books were real life experiences, so that was easy. But with Writers’ Heaven All The Way To Devon, On Gracie’s Vintage Bus,I just thought about what would be fun for a group of writers. I knew that I wanted to write a series about Buttercup Bay, but didn’t know much more than that when I started to write the first book. It evolved along the way.

Q5. How long does it take you to write a book?
My first one took 25 years, and the last one, just a few months. I was working on it almost full-time though. So it varies depending on what else is happening. I find that the older I get, the more focused I am.

Q6. Favourite part of writing a book / least favourite part?
Once I’m started it’s fine. There are so many other things which we all have to do, that starting can be the difficult part. I get a real thrill from seeing my finished book. That motivates me to start the next one.

Q7. Favourite character and why? From your own work.
I think I like Pickle the most. He’s obsessed with cheese and pickle, even down to some items of his clothing which depict his favourite types.
He has travelled to Buttercup Bay to start a new life. He is like an onion in that there are many layers to him which will be unpeeled along the way.

Q8. How did you break into publishing?
I was lucky in that I sent my manuscript to a publisher and it was picked up by them. I didn’t expect it, so I was really pleased.

Q9. How do you market your books?
That is the bit that I don’t like. It takes up so much time. I do the usual social media posts and interviews. I also did an hour long interview for an American radio station once. I blog and write on medium.com too.
At the moment I am actually looking at how I can hand that job over to someone else. It is the only thing that I don’t like about writing books.

Q10. What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research?
I think it would be going to live with nuns. The whole experience was surreal. I am so pleased that I did it though.

Q11. Any tips for new / aspiring authors?
Believe in yourself. Do everything that you can to surround yourself with the right type of people so that you do believe in yourself. It really matters.
Also, don’t stay with a publisher if they aren’t doing what is right for you. I have had 2 number one books through self publishing and it suits me well.

Q12. Do you think writing is an innate gift or something which can be learned?
That’s an interesting question. I think that it can be both. But the best stories or books might come from those with an innate gift. You’ve got me thinking now!

Q13. Have you ever participated in any writing courses / retreats? Have you any writing related qualifications? If so have they been beneficial?
I’ve never done any writing courses, although it is on my list for next year. I love learning and want to learn more from other writers.
I was so excited a few years ago to be booked on a residential writing retreat. It was something which I had wanted to do for so long. Unfortunately, when the date came to go to the retreat, I was ill in hospital. So I still haven’t attended one. Being with other writers who encourage each other would be great.

Q14.Who are your favourite authors and why?
There is a lady called Julia Sutton. Her books remind me of times past and they have great characters and stories.
I also love authors like Heidi Swain and Ali McNamara. It’s easy for me to get lost in a good book for hours.

Q15.What is your favourite novel and why?
My favourite is Of Mice and Men. We read it at school and I have loved it ever since then. I love the way that George and Lennie support each other.

Q16.If you weren’t an author – what would you love to do?
I’m not sure. I always wanted to write from a very young age so never thought of doing anything else. A job working on a remote island in somewhere like Scotland would be good. Cold and damp too, but being out in that sort of nature would be wonderful.

Q17.What are your plans / dreams / ambitions for the future?
Just to live the simple life and be happy. I think I was born in the wrong era as I just like old fashioned things which are simple and quiet. Writing more books too.

Q18. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
My next book is called Lighthouse Love. One of the main characters in the series falls in love with either the lighthouse, a person, or both. I’m right at the start of writing it so can’t tell you more. But I hope that readers will like the plot and characters as much as I do.
I already have the cover art and that has spurred me on. So watch this space!

Q19. Can you supply a favourite excerpt from any of your works?
Yes. This is from my book called The Nuns of Lemon Tree House:
A Bombshell and Baileys

I took a deep breath as I realised that it was time to drop the bombshell.
”I want to be a nun,” I said.
”You want to be what?”
”A nun.”
”You can’t be serious,” said Kerry as she spluttered on her wine. ”You’d never be able to do it.”
”Yes I would,” I said indignantly.
”But why on earth would you ever want to?”
I stared intently at my large glass of Baileys and pondered my future. I took another sip. I loved the taste of Baileys and always drank it with a little ice, and a warm heart. It reminded me of special times, and so always made me feel good. Neither of us knew what a small measure was, so I had probably already had more than enough. Although Kerry was several glasses ahead of me, she was still quite astute. If I went off to be a nun, then she would be losing her drinking buddy. Even though we did it less and less these days, not like when we were younger, I could still tell that it didn’t seem to sit very well with her.
I could also tell from the way that she spoke, that she thought that I was joking. But I wasn’t. I also wasn’t what you might call religious, but I had always believed in something. I just preferred to refer to it a higher power, than to give it a name. To be honest, I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. But, I was sure that I believed, and always had done from a very young age. Some of my earliest memories are of me sitting at the back of a dark walk-in wardrobe which didn’t have any lighting. It had slatted wooden doors, so just enough light came through for me to see. I would sit there when I was sad or scared, and talk to this higher power. No names were ever mentioned, but I knew that they were listening. I talked to them silently. It was a one sided conversation that went on in my head. One which left me silent and still, but strong and determined, all at the same time. Even when I was scared it would be the same. I always thought of those conversations as special. I knew that they were just between me and whatever that higher power was. I liked this, and also the fact that I didn’t have to explain them to anyone. Because I didn’t give my higher power a name, my conversations and thoughts weren’t prayers. So, I never thought as my higher power as a God. But, in all honesty, they could have been. I wasn’t raised to be religious in the usual sort of way, so I wasn’t concerned about naming the subject of my belief. My mother was religious, and we were sent to Sunday school, but that was about it. We weren’t raised to pray or attend church. In fact the only time we went to church after about the age of eight, was for weddings and funerals. I can’t remember any of my friends or family going to church either. My mum was the only one who went regularly. God, or religion, were never discussed. Therefore I just had my little chats with my higher power whilst sat in the back of the wardrobe. It seemed the only place that I could get some peace, and I really liked that.
”Are you listening to me you barmy woman?”
”No. Not if you aren’t going to take me seriously.”
”Why haven’t you told me that you want to be a nun before? It’s not exactly you, is it?” said Kerry trying to stifle her giggles.
”Mock me all you like. I will show you.” I could feel myself scowling.
”Can’t wait to see this!” With that, Kerry walked outside to have yet another cigarette between hearty coughs, and loud snorts, which I wasn’t sure sounded too healthy, but they made me smile anyway.

Your social media links / website etc…
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15279168.Melanie_Mole?from_search=true
Twitter – https://twitter.com/melaniemolebook
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/melaniemolebooks/
Website – https://melaniemolecom.wordpress.com/
Book links
Writers’ Heaven, All The Way To Devon, On Gracie’s Vintage Bus –

The Nuns of Lemon Tree House –

Blooming Write –
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blooming-Write-Writer-Procrastinating-Forever/dp/1718847211/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=blooming+write+paperback&qid=1570608624&s=digital-text&sr=1-1-catcorr

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH TERRI NIXON

Terry NixonQ1. Tell me about yourself – biography, career, likes, dislikes, hobbies etc…anything you would like to share about yourself? Any fun, interesting facts? Please attach a photograph if possible.

Thanks for having me on your blog today! About myself… I’m sure I’m not the only one who never knows where to start with this! Briefly, I was born in Devon, grew up in Cornwall, and now live back in Devon again, in my birth town of Plymouth. I have two wonderful sons, and the youngest has now left home so I’ve recently become the proud property of the obligatory cat.
I’ve spent most of my working life in the civil service, and have now worked in faculty admin at the University of Plymouth for nearly ten years. Hobbies… if I said it had always been writing, I’m sure that would come as no surprise! Though now it’s more second and third jobs than a hobby. I work freelance as a developmental editor and mentor at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy too. Naturally I also love to read.
In my youth, I was a biker and spent an awful lot of time sleeping in tents and mucking about in fields. The one in the middle of this pic, with a black hat on, is me engaging in the refined and delicate art of tug-o-war at a bike rally.

I’ve also done a parachute jump, but thankfully there are no pictures of that!

 

Q2. Can you tell me about your work – what have you written, what is it about, what type of genre is it?

I’m a hybrid author, and that is because I write in two distinct genres: Historical Sagas and Mythic Fantasy. My sagas are traditionally published by Piatkus (Little, Brown) and they’re The Oaklands Manor Trilogy, The Penhaligon Saga, and my soon-to-be-published Fox Bay Saga. They’re all set in the early 1900s, and the Oaklands series concentrates heavily on WW1.
My Mythic Fantasy books are The Lynher Mill Chronicles. Set on Bodmin Moor in the villages where I spent most of my time as a child, they explore what happens when traditional Cornish folklore begins to spill over into the lives of the modern day inhabitants of those villages. Those books have a very small, but fiercely loyal readership. So gratifying!

 

Q3. Can you tell me about your writing process e.g do you prefer to plan or write spontaneously, favourite writing times, pen or computer, how long do you spend writing?

Definitely computer; nowadays, my handwriting would make my English teachers cry.
If I begin early enough in the day, before I’ve had time to remember all the other stuff I’m supposed to be doing, I can write fresh material all day long. If I leave it for some reason, until after ten or so, I might as well just proof, edit and research for the rest of the day – it’s hopeless!
Because I work almost full-time (I was able to drop one day last year) I take my writing time where I can. I live alone – apart from aforementioned cat – so there are no demands on my weekends or holidays. Every spare moment is spent either planning, researching, or writing. And either making toast, or eating it.
As for my process, writing series with multiple plots and several prominent characters, means I can’t allow myself the luxury of ‘pantsing.’ Not if I want my themes to mean something, and for all those plots to tie in together, however subtly. Once I have a plan in place, and a rough arc for each of my characters, that’s when I can let loose and see where it all takes me. Often it’s not where I expect, which usually means massive re-writes once the first draft is down! It also means any outline I sent to my agent or publisher can be taken with a pinch of salt, and they’re going to have to just trust me!

 

Q4. What inspires you? How do you come up with your ideas?

Places. All the time. Growing up on Bodmin Moor and being a huge Enid Blyton fan as well, the possibilities of what might lurk behind the granite and down the abandoned mines was the catalyst for what would become my Lynher Mill series much later.
My very first novel (a thriller) was conceived the first time I visited the Scottish Highlands. My parents were living there, and I came away filled with the need to capture all that dark, dramatic beauty on the page, and to place at least one person in peril there. The novel was dire, by the way! I’ve recently re-written it though, I like it a lot more now, and it’s out on submission with my agent.

 

Q5. How long does it take you to write a book?

This is a hard one to answer, because my writing time is so patchy. I put out one book a year for my publisher, but some years I’ve been able to start and complete one of my self-published books alongside it. I would say 2 a year, fairly comfortably, but they do tend to be well over 100K words each.

 

Q6. Favourite part of writing a book / least favourite part?

This divides authors, but what I really love is the editing, once the first draft is down and I can see the shape of the story. It’s so satisfying to go through it, cleaning it up and pulling the rest of it into line when you’ve spotted and made *the* change that alters everything.
My least favourite part is harder to define. It’s not one particular aspect or stage of the process, but when you’ve been clinging to a particular storyline or character because you love them and they were there at the start, and then you finally accept that they’re holding everything back and you have to cut them loose. It all goes into another folder, so nothing’s lost forever, but it’s hard to do. Usually that’s the change referred to in the question above though, so it’s all for the good!

 

Q7. Favourite character and why? From your own work.

Another toughie! The trouble is, if I didn’t love all my characters they wouldn’t come across as genuine – whether good or bad – so it’s hard to pick just one. I think, taking everything into account, I would have to say it’s a character from the Lynher Mill Chronicles, named Gilan. And the thing I find surprising about it being him, is that he just appeared out of nowhere and I had no idea who he was! My main protagonist was walking back to the car park after dropping a friend at the airport and Gilan was just there, wearing crazy clothes and leaning on my character’s car. I literally had NO idea where he came from. He’s since popped up in a short story that was supposed to have nothing to do with Lynher Mill, but which now links all my worlds together. (That story is free on my website, by the way, and is called Path of Thorns.)

 

Q8. How did you break into publishing?

Another quite-by-chance occurrence. I was about to shut down my laptop after another day of querying my debut novel, when I saw an ad for a competition run by Piatkus Entice, an imprint of Little, Brown. It was for a romantic novel, which mine wasn’t, but there’s a love story running through it so I thought, why not? Nothing to lose. I entered, and won the historical category, and the prize was e-book publication of the novel. It all snowballed from there.

 

Q9. How do you market your books?

With the greatest difficulty! Most of us find it hard to sing our own praises, and I get fed up with pages and pages of book promo on Twitter, so why would I want to add to that? Unfortunately it has to be done, so I began using Canva to create shareable images, and I try to change my pinned tweet once a week; I have an author page on Facebook; I attend any literary festival I can, given my work commitments; I’ve done a couple of launches/signings in Waterstones… I don’t do enough, really, and since my publishers don’t get really involved in that side of things I do find I flounder a bit.

 

Q10. What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research?

I’ve had to research quite a few odd and random things, to make sure my historical stuff is accurate, but the thing that’s most likely to get me arrested is wanting to know what it smells like when you make crack cocaine in a spoon! Oddly enough I had quite a few answers for that, all from total strangers I might add!

 

Q11. Any tips for new / aspiring authors?

There is so much conflicting information and advice out there, that my own would be: read as much of that as you can, and discard anything that doesn’t ring true. Don’t accept that because someone famous says something, that it must be right. And don’t EVER pay someone who offers to publish your work, unless you’ve hired them to help you self-publish. No legitimate agent or publisher will ever ask for money up front.
Q12. Do you think writing is an innate gift or something which can be learned?

I think it can be learned, but the writer has to be prepared to work hard. Anyone can learn to write, but writing well, and keeping a reader engaged, takes time and practice. And a hell of a lot of both! In fiction, particularly, it’s not just as case of putting a story together – if your reader becomes bored, confused, or is info-dumped, they’ll put your book down and never discover your amazing twist or conclusion.

 

Q13. Have you ever participated in any writing courses / retreats? Have you any writing related qualifications? If so have they been beneficial?

I have no writing qualifications. I once did a distance-learning course, just a few weeks, on different topics, and I’ve been to a few evening classes, but they mostly turned out to be more like writing groups, where people just read out their work and were praised for it. I’ve never been on a retreat, but then my home is its own little oasis of calm now! I quite fancy some of the ones I’ve seen though, if only for the company of other writers.

 

Q14. Who are your favourite authors and why?

Stephen King, always and forever! His characters and dialogue just shine, and make almost any story he creates a compelling one. Diana Gabaldon is another, her relationships are so true to life and flawed. PG Wodehouse is the funniest writer I’ve ever read, and Walter Scott isn’t afraid to be both swashbuckingly heroic and deeply romantic at the same time.

 

Q15. What is your favourite novel and why?

Stephen King’s The Stand. Again, his characters creep into your mind, so that the upheavals and the terrors they go through become your own. An apocalyptic story of good versus evil, with enough blurred lines down the middle to keep you involved.

 

Q16. If you weren’t an author – what would you love to do?

I’d love to work in a National Trust house, spending all my time among the kind of treasures I write about, and telling other people little-known stories of the people who once lived there. In fact I think I’ve just mentally handed in my notice at the uni…

 

Q17. What are your plans / dreams / ambitions for the future?

The current dream is earning enough to be able to drop more hours at the day job, or even all of them! In the future, if we’re talking fantasy-future, I’d love to see one of my series made into a BBC drama, and for my books to become familiar enough to be a high-scoring answer on Pointless!

 

Q18. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m gearing up for the release of the first book in a brand new three-part series called The Fox Bay Saga. The story follows a family uprooted from their home among the elite in Bristol in the early 1920s, to take over the running of a classy hotel in Cornwall. There are hangers-on, guest dramas, and the family’s own troubles to contend with, so lots of possibilities for fun, action, and plenty of danger too. A Cornish Inheritance is out on December 5th.

 

Q19. Can you supply a favourite excerpt from any of your works?

This is the opening of Evie’s Choice (formerly A Rose in Flanders Fields) the second book in the Oaklands Manor Trilogy, which features the daughter of the house during her time as an ambulance driver on the Western Front:

Flanders, Belgium, February 1917.
The explosion was more than a noise, it was a pressure, and a fist, and a scream that started in the pit of my stomach and flashed outward through every nerve. Pulsing light from relentless shelling afforded glimpses through the dark of the uneven road ahead, and I had long ago learned to use this sinister glow as I guided the ambulance between dressing station and clearing station, but tonight it seemed Fritz was sending over all he had. Our chaps would give it back twice as hard though – at least that’s what I told myself, what we always told ourselves, and what we always made sure to tell the boys who looked to us for reassurance that their suffering was not in vain.
The wheels slid on half-frozen mud, and all my driving experience melted into mere hope; on a night like this it would come down to luck as to whether we stayed on the road or pitched off into the even rougher ground beyond, and luck has a famously capricious heart.
It occurred, not for the first time, that less than three years before, my prayers would have been no more intense than the wish that my mother would stop trying to marry me off to one of her friends’ “perfectly charming” sons. Even then I’d had no interest in, or need of, a husband, but it was a sobering thought that most of those adventurous and brightly confident young men would now be entrenched in mud, and finding their own prayers much altered.
Those who still lived.
I blinked hard to relieve my eyes from the strain of staring at the road, and a second later my heart faltered as I identified the cause of this latest, and loudest, of explosions. A moment later Kitty, the new girl, cried out in dismay as she saw it too: the large house ahead, and the sprawling collection of tents and outbuildings in its grounds that served as the casualty clearing station, was ablaze. Part of the roof was gone, a gaping mouth from which flames belched and licked ravenously at the overhanging trees, setting even the wettest canvas of the nearby tents alight. The painted red cross had collapsed inward, and while many of the staff retained their sense of duty, many more did not – chaos had the night in its grip now, and it was each man for himself. The two sister-stations, one empty and waiting and one already taking the overspill from the house, were in danger of catching too, and panic was evident in every silhouette that stumbled in search of safety, and in every cry that transcended the roar of flame and the crack of wood and glass.
Time was short, and I turned the wheel before we reached the road junction, sending silent but heartfelt apologies to my wounded, and then we were bumping over the roughly pitted grass towards the burning buildings. The moment I pulled to a stop, Kitty was in the back urging those more able to bunch up to make room, and explaining we must go another ten miles to the base hospital in the town. Exclamations of dismay followed me as I jumped down, and I understood every one of them; the men would have been blessing every turn of the wheels that brought us closer to help, and now they must hold on a little longer. There was little doubt that, for some, it would prove too long.
The intense heat stung every exposed inch of skin as I ran towards a group of evacuees, huddling as far away from the billowing smoke as they could get, and I drew a deep breath in readiness for shouting, feeling the moisture stripped from my throat the moment my mouth opened.
‘Two! We can take two –’ I broke off, coughing, bent double with it and unable to shout again, but one of the orderlies had seen me and when I rose, gasping and teary-eyed, he gestured me over.
In the end we took three; two more in the back, and one sitter up front with us, a boy no older than Kitty herself by his looks. He had just begun treatment for shrapnel wounds to the arm and shoulder, and moving at all must have jarred him terribly, but as soon as he was settled in his seat he began talking, with cautious relief, about being shipped back to England. I exchanged a glance with Kitty, and we both found wan smiles for what he considered his good luck before we rolled off once more towards the town. There was a harsh jerk and a new rattling sound as we rejoined the road, and I wondered how many more trips we could make before something else fell off the ambulance, or broke, and I would be required to spend the rest of this freezing night lying in the mud with my tool box.
When we got to the hospital we found one of the new blessés had died, and the shrapnel-wounded boy’s relief fell away, leaving him paler than ever and deeply subdued; I gathered they had been friends. We covered the dead man with his blanket and the boy hitched a breath, , and there was no more talk of Blighty while the VAD led him away to have his wounds redressed. Kitty and I hurriedly sluiced down the inside of the ambulance, and set off back to the dressing station for one more trip.
And one more.
When the night’s grim work was finally over we returned to our little cottage, and I went over the ambulance with my torch, checking carefully underneath. Gertie, as we’d named her, had been a godsend, but she was fast reaching the end of her useful life as an ambulance, and must soon be retired before she became a danger rather than an inconvenience. Rather like myself, it seemed at times. By the time she had been emptied of blood-soaked blankets and stretchers, there remained precious few hours in which to steal a bit of sleep.
Kitty went gratefully to the room we shared and fell into bed immediately, but I sat at the kitchen table, pen in hand, and a blank sheet in front of me. I never told my husband what I had been doing; he had his own worries, and his own dark stories, and to heap mine upon him would be cruel and unnecessary. Instead I wrote that Kitty Maitland was an absolute treasure, although nerves made her clumsy and she still kept knocking things down. Naturally we had immediately nicknamed her Skittles. I wrote that the weather here was as vicious as it was in France, and that I hoped he was making good use of the warm scarf I had sent him. I told him some of the girls in the ambulance corps were jealous of us because their commandant was utterly hard-hearted, and they wished they had set up alone as we had. I wished him a happy thirtieth birthday.
Then I laid my pen down, folded the letter ready to post, and burst into tears.

Your social media links / website etc…
Website: http://www.terrinixon.com
Twitter: @TerriNixon
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerriNixonAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/telnixon/
Book links
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Terri-Nixon/e/B00DI8R8K6

Author Interview with Diane O’Toole

Diane O'Toole
Q1. Tell me about yourself – biography, career, likes, dislikes, hobbies etc…anything you would like to share about yourself? Any fun, interesting facts? Please attach a photograph if possible.
I’m recently retired after spending many years with the Royal Mail where I worked in finance operations. After taking early retirement, I was finally able to begin work on my life-long dream to write my first book.
When I’m not writing, I’m in the kitchen cooking. I love having dinner parties and getting around the table with friends where we discuss just about anything and everything – putting the world to rights, as they say.
I’ve travelled widely across the world and hope to continue doing so for as long as I can. My favourite place in the world, is North Lake Tahoe up in the Sierra Nevada in the USA; I hope to continue visiting this stunning, idyllic part of the world for more years to come.
My dislikes? Curried fish – Coffee – long fingernails on a man – and I’m terrified of Rats.

Q2. Can you tell me about your work – what have you written, what is it about, what type of genre is it?
I write crime thrillers and have had two thrillers published by BNBS – Rings of Smoke, and the sequel, Cold Blooded. I’m currently working on a third book with a fourth waiting in the wings.

Diane O'Toole 2

Q3. Can you tell me about your writing process e.g do you prefer to plan or write spontaneously, favourite writing times, pen or computer, how long do you spend writing?
I use a desktop computer for my writing. I write throughout the day until early evening. I don’t plan, I prefer my writing to be spontaneous.
My husband tells me that I write in the same way I emulsion a wall – I enjoy decorating, I find it therapeutic and do a lot of thinking whilst I’m doing it.
Most often I will start in the middle of the wall, become bored and move somewhere else on the wall; I do the same with my writing. I have a seed on an idea and will just sit down at the keyboard and start writing. Quite often I don’t know where the story is going and will move back and forth until eventually the whole thing comes together.

Q4. What inspires you? How do you come up with your ideas?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question, and, in all honesty, I don’t know. I will just sit down at the computer and start tapping away. I never know where my ideas have come from and why they are – for the most part – quite graphic and often gruesome.

Q5. How long does it take you to write a book?
My first book which I started whilst I was still in full-time employment took me about three years to write. My second book about twelve months – having to cram so much in besides my writing.

Q6. Favourite part of writing a book / least favourite part?
Creating my characters, their names and personalities is something I thoroughly enjoy. My least favourite is thinking of a great title.

Q7. Favourite character and why? From your own work.
Erin Fallon (the protagonist) from Rings of Smoke. She reminds me in many ways of the young teenage girl I was – in fact, there is much of my personal history in Erin Fallon. I won’t explain further, it doesn’t make for happy reading.

Q8. How did you break into publishing?
I tried so many literary agents who just didn’t seem interested – some responded kindly telling me not to give up, my work was good but just wasn’t for them at that time. One or two – very well-known literary agents – told me that they really liked my book but ‘hadn’t quite fallen in love with it’; their feedback gave me the courage to keep on trying. There were many other literary agents who quite simply didn’t reply to my MS submission.
After doing a google search, I came across BNBS (Britain’s next Best Seller) a fantastic small publishing house that wanted to give a chance to those ‘unknown’ unpublished authors who were struggling to have their work published. The books with BNBS are done on a crowdfunding basis whereby if you can achieve 250 pre-orders for your book, BNBS will publish it. I can’t praise BNBS highly enough for the support they gave me and for publishing my first book.

Q9. How do you market your books?
Marketing isn’t my forte and it’s something I’ll admit to struggling with. BNBS do what they can although they don’t have the power of the bigger publishers. I use social media where I can to put my work out there and will often sign up to deals to have my work posted in social media by book tweeters, that kind of thing. Although I have to say, I haven’t seen much success with this kind of promotional work.

Q10. What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research?
I would say that the most ‘unpleasant’ thing I’ve had to research is how to cut a person’s throat without the blood spraying everywhere. Also, the removal of eyeballs with a scalpel. Not nice but makes for great reading in my books.

Q11. Any tips for new / aspiring authors?
We’ve all heard the saying that ‘everyone has a book in them’ and I believe this to be very true. I always tell people, ‘look if you want to write, just do it. It matters not where you start or how you start, just sit down and put those thoughts and ideas onto paper and take it from there, before you know it, you’re on your way to possibly becoming a published author. Follow your dream and don’t let go of it.

Q12. Do you think writing is an innate gift or something which can be learned?
I don’t really consider it a gift. I think of it as something that can in many ways be learned, learned through reading endless books. I know my writing has improved purely by reading other published authors and of course the international best sellers. There’s so much authors can teach each other without realising it. I read constantly and many of my favourite crime writers inspire me as a writer. I will never stop learning the art of writing.
However, there is a technical side to writing a novel which doesn’t come naturally, and I’ve had to learn much in this respect. For example; showing not telling – point of view – dangling participles and gerunds. These are things that don’t come naturally but must be learned.

Q13. Have you ever participated in any writing courses / retreats? Have you any writing related qualifications? If so have they been beneficial?
This is an easy one. The answer is no to all these points; although I often wonder if I should have done so and how it would benefit my writing today.

Q14. Who are your favourite authors and why?
Stephen King – I love the gruesome, unworldly kind of horror he writes. Rachel Abbott – she’s a fantastic crime writer and never ceases to impress me with her psychological twists and turns – I can read maybe five or six of her books in a week. Louise Jensen – Wow, she has a great mind that knows how to have her readers on the edge of their seat. Graham Masterton a ‘master’ indeed of the gruesome when it comes to murder. K L Slater, C L Taylor, Robert Bryndza – fantastic crime and thriller writers who can have you turning page after page after page because you just can’t put their books down.

Q15. What is your favourite novel and why?
Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – A classic and beautifully crafted novel written through the eyes of a child. Atticus’s daughter, Scout tells the story of growing up in the heartlands of Alabama during the 1930’s where the lives of African Americans were cheap and worthless.
Scout’s mother died before she was able to get to know her and she is brought up by her loving father, lawyer, Atticus Finch. She spends her blissful childhood growing up in the loving arms of their black house maid, Calpurnia, whom Scout grows to love dearly, if often time, she’s scolded by Calpurnia for her many innocent misdemeanours.
When I turned the last page of this book, I was moved to tears for the plight of the African American’s suffering at the hands of the white man and Scout’s innocent and pure love of the people whom were forced to live in segregation and suffer unacceptable hardship and squalor.
I’m so very pleased to say that I have read and love Harper Lee’s truly wonderful, truly great piece of literature.

Q16. If you weren’t an author – what would you love to do?
I would have loved my own travel consultancy business, I still enjoy searching for exotic locations, hotels and flights for many of my friends who are not very confident in doing it for themselves.

Q17. What are your plans / dreams / ambitions for the future?
To continue enjoying my life in what I can only refer to as a third-world paradise – the beautiful and magical Greek island of Corfu. Just refer to me as the new, ‘Mrs Durrell’. But no matter where I am, where I live, I want to continue writing and chasing my dream of becoming a very successful crime writer.

Q18. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
A working title of ‘A sister’s revenge’. I’m enjoying the journey so far but still a little way off the end of the book. It’s about a very twisted female stalker who is out to destroy the life of the woman she believes is responsible for her estranged sister’s suicide. That’s all I want to say for now.

Q19. Can you supply a favourite excerpt from any of your works?
Violet Johnson poured herself another gin and stared at the birthday cards on the mantlepiece; her vision blurred through the tears and the alcohol she’d been drinking since early that morning. It had been her little girl’s birthday three days earlier but there had been no celebrations this year.
Debra had gone missing a little over twelve months ago never to be seen or heard from again, but Violet had hope, she would never give up hoping until that morning, three days ago when she had received that envelope.
Violet Johnson’s husband wasn’t there to catch her when she collapsed in the hallway. He had walked out on her just after Christmas. The strain on their marriage had been too great, it had torn them apart especially since as the stepfather he was in the frame as one of the main suspects in the disappearance of fifteen-year-old Debra Johnson.
Your social media links / website etc…
https://dianeotoole.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/diane.otoole.9

Book links

Diane O'Toole 3.jpg

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH JAMES QUINN

39575650_2045602792420594_2008854580565114880_nQ1. Tell me about yourself – biography, career, likes, dislikes, hobbies etc…anything you would like to share about yourself? Any fun, interesting facts? Please attach a photograph if possible.

Well where to begin…I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so when I hit my 40’s I decided that I’d waited long enough and decided to give it a try – more an experiment than anything else.
When I’m not pretending to be a writer I work as a security consultant for a number of specialised companies and private clients. And when I’m not doing that…I’m being the best dad that I can be.

Q2. Can you tell me about your work – what have you written, what is it about, what type of genre is it?

21743396_1842904549357087_4072080266059828540_nI write in the thriller/spy genre. It’s an area that I’ve always enjoyed, plus because of the type of work that I do I tend to have my finger on the pulse of what is happening inside the intelligence community.

Q3. Can you tell me about your writing process e.g do you prefer to plan or write spontaneously, favourite writing times, pen or computer, how long do you spend writing?

Oh I’m very much a spontaneous writer. There can be nothing for days and then it all comes out machine gun fire!! Its pen for notes and ideas, computer for getting down the big stuff.

Q4. What inspires you? How do you come up with your ideas?

For me its always the characters that inspire me. The story is usually secondary. I like to take an interesting character and put them in an extraordinary situation….then its up to them to get themselves out of it.

Q5. How long does it take you to write a book?

Oh god! An age at the moment. My earlier books I seemed to have more time and they just flowed out of me, recently though with juggling life, work, family…it gets harder and harder. But I do try to make it work…honest!

Q6. Favourite part of writing a book / least favourite part?

The character ideas and the scenarios. Its so much fun playing God. Worst part is the editing and proof process.

Q7. Favourite character and why? From your own work.

I would have to say Carravagio the Assassin from Rogue Wolves. He has no redeeming qualities and he was so much fun to write. Maybe I like the villains more than the good guys?

Q8. How did you break into publishing?

Pure luck! I was picked up, along with my good friend, the author Marnie Cate, by Creativia Publishing (now New Chapter Publishing) at the same time. They took my first thriller A Game for Assassins and spruced it up for me. I’ve never looked back since.

Q9. How do you market your books?

Well while the publisher does a large amount of marketing for my books, I do recognise that in this day and age the author also has to get his hands dirty. So during promotion weeks I tend to make my presence known on various book related social media platforms.

Q10. What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research?

Ha! Great question – I would have to say how an autopsy is performed.

Q11. Any tips for new / aspiring authors?

Never give up! Ever!! It is easier than ever these days to get your work out there, so even if you start by self publishing and then transition over to a publishing house (which is what happened to me), then that’s a feasible way of getting your work (and you) noticed.

Q12. Do you think writing is an innate gift or something which can be learned?

Depends. But I think like anything, the more you do it, the better that you can become.

Q13. Have you ever participated in any writing courses / retreats? Have you any writing related qualifications? If so have they been beneficial?

I have not! And do you know what…I’m fine with that 

Q14. Who are your favourite authors and why?

Unfair question….jeez so many over the years: John le Carre, the ultimate spy writer, William Goldman for his writing style, Elmore Leonard for his snappy dialogue…..there are probably dozens more.

Q15. What is your favourite novel and why?

Cat in the Hat. I still read it to my kids even now and they still love it. Parents should ALWAYS read to their children. It’s a great shared bonding moment.

Q16. If you weren’t an author – what would you love to do?

Part time millionaire

Q17. What are your plans / dreams / ambitions for the future?

To carry on writing, keep my family safe and make it back alive and in one piece from future jobs in my professional life.

Q18. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

My next WIP is entitled The Fisherman. It’s a new character, set in modern times. He’s very different from the other characters in the previous books. A ruthless spy!

Q19. Can you supply a favourite excerpt from any of your works?
The Fisherman.

Excerpt;
It was the red dot that he spotted first, so beautiful and clear and centred on her forehead. It shook him for a moment; first the intelligence on Petrov, then the news that Solange was pregnant…pregnant…..and now the little red dot. The Fisherman knew what it meant and what would happen next if he didn’t act fast! He tried to move, tried to grab her, push her, and do anything to get her out of the line of fire. But the Fisherman had faced lethal weaponry before and he already knew that she would never make it.
One moment the little red dot was there and then it was gone, replaced instead by the thwack of a bullet as it entered Solange’s forehead. A halo of blood spread out of the rear windscreen and then her body collapsed forward onto the seat in front of her, all life gone from her in an instant. “Noooo!” he screamed.
The driver got it next his head exploding and then his body slithering down into his seat. Whoever the sniper was he was using a large calibre weapon judging by the mess of blood inside the vehicle, thought the Fisherman. Unfortunately for him, and because of the angle that the taxi was parked, he was on the far side of the vehicle. Solange and the driver had been the optimum targets on the nearside.
Now the bullets were coming in thick and fast, the sniper, wherever he was concealed, was trying to target the rear of the vehicle where the passengers were. It was a smart move. The Fisherman looked over at Solange, she was so beautiful, even in death. He chanced a look out of the window, searching for an escape route from the car, which was fast becoming a huge bullet magnet. He became aware of screaming from people in the area, apartment lights had suddenly come on, doors were being half opened. Things had become noisy and overt and anybody nearby and out on the street was running for cover to escape the killing ground. He knew that if he stayed there he’d be a dead man within minutes. He kissed Solange gently on the lips one last time and then closed her eyes.
A quick glance over to a nearby side street and then when there was a break in the shooting, he heaved himself up, sprang out of the car and ran. Behind him he could hear the bullets tearing up the car and peppering the road where he had just been. His feet hit the pavement with force and he ran for the darkness of the streets ahead putting as much distance as he could between himself and the carnage behind him.
Your social media links / website etc…
https://www.facebook.com/Gorillagrant/

Book links
James Quinn works in the specialist security and private intelligence industry. He has over a decades worth of experience as an executive protection agent, kidnap and ransom consultant, private investigator and intelligence operative.
He is the author of the Gorilla Grant series of books that introduced the British spy and assassin Jack “Gorilla” Grant. His next book will introduce a new character; The Fisherman.

LINKS AND AUTHOR PAGES:
https://www.nextchapter.pub/…/james-quinn-british-espionage…
https://www.nextchapter.com/…/game-for-assassins-cold-war-e…
https://www.nextchapter.pub/…/sentinel-five-british-spy-fic…
https://www.nextchapter.pub/books/rogue-wolves
https://www.nextchapter.pub/books/gorilla-warfare
http://mybook.to/GameForAssassins
http://mybook.to/sentinelfive
http://mybook.to/XmasAssassin
http://mybook.to/GorillaWarfare
http://mybook.to/RogueWolves

Finishing The School of Dreams series

pencil and sharpener on notebook page

Well that’s it folks, I’ve finished the School of Dreams series.

Book 4, which I can officially reveal is called ‘The Year of New Beginnings’ has been emailed to the publisher.  Now I wait to hear from them and hope that they love it as much as I do.

I’ve been writing this series since 2016 and didn’t think I’d ever finish it to be honest, but I have and it feels pretty amazing.  It was originally planned as a trilogy, but I couldn’t fit everything into three books, so it became a four book series instead.  I hope that you have enjoyed reading about Will, Sophie, Evelyn, Ann and Juliette.  Thank you for waiting patiently for each book to be published and a massive thank you to anyone who has taken the time to leave reviews 🙂

I had planned on having a wee break from writing but guess what?  Yep, I’ve started writing a new book.  The inspiration of which came from my recent holiday to Majorca.  It’s a summer romance and I’ve already completed chapter 1.  Hoping to be finished the early part of next year.  I also have plans for a Christmas book and a mental health related novel, as well as working hard to find a publisher for my children’s fiction.

Thanks for reading.  Bye for now.