NK Chats To: N. Lombardi Jr

Hello Nicholas. It’s great to welcome you to the blog today. Please tell me a little about your new book, Justice Gone and what inspired it?

Justice Gone was inspired by a true event, the fatal beating of a homeless man in a small Californian town. This was such an extreme case, and one which did not include any racial elements, that it exposed the utter abuse of authority in which an outraged public reaction was inevitable. The town was Fullerton, the man’s name was Kelly Thomas, and the year was 2011. Although the police officers were indicted by a grand jury, they were acquitted in their trial. So I asked myself a question: if someone felt that justice was denied the deceased, would they take it in their own hands? This became the seed for the story.

 

What elements do you feel need to be present in a thriller novel? What are the challenges?

Suspense, that is, the anticipation of what is going to come next, and this is usually accompanied by actions to some degree, although if you have enough skill, words alone can create this tension. Whichever way you accomplish this, the challenge is to persuade the reader to invest their interest in what is going on, and this includes sympathy for the protagonists.

 

This is the first part of a series featuring Dr Tessa Thorpe. What advice do you have for someone trying to develop a series and a strong character that will keep them coming back to read their story?

You need to become friends, or even love the character, knowing their faults as well as their admirable traits. In this way you know what they will say and can predict what they’ll do in any situation.

Actually Tessa first appeared in Journey Towards a Falling Sun, a story I wrote over 30 years ago, but eventually got published in 2014. It was a minor role, but one in which she was born, so to speak.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write and do you prefer silence?

I can write in the early mornings when I’m fresh, or in the evenings when I’m relaxed. usually the time between is non-productive. Silence is mandatory.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

I don’t have a favourite word. I have a favourite colour, blue. Can I then say that “blue” is my favourite word?

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Book Extract: The Dressmaker of Draper’s Lane by Liz Trenow

Hello to Liz Trenow and the blog tour for her new novel, The Dressmaker of Draper’s Lane. 

1768, London.

As a foundling who rose from poverty and now runs her own successful dressmaking business in the heart of society London, Miss Charlotte is a remarkable woman, admired by many. She has no need, nor desire, to marry. The people she values most are her friend Anna, her recently-found sister Louisa and nephew Peter.

She feels herself fortunate, and should be content with what she has. But something is missing.

A small piece of rare silk discovered in a bundle of scraps at auction triggers a curious sense of familiarity, and prompts her to unpick a past filled with extraordinary secrets and revelations . . .

 

To celebrate publication day, Liz has shared an extract with us today. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

Prologue

She is unaware of her legs moving beneath her, of one foot taking a step and then another, except for the fact that the great gates in the distance seem to be drawing ever closer.

Her mind is blank. She keeps her eyes lowered to the ground, passing silently through the crowds on Gray’s Inn Road like a spectre. No one notices her and she dares not allow herself to look at her surroundings nor even to think, for if she did she would surely turn and flee. The only notion in her head is that where she is going offers the sole hope of saving her child’s life.

The bundle in her arms is still and silent now, having ceased whimpering some hours ago. The baby is too feeble to cry any more. It is of no matter to her that she has not eaten for several days except that it has caused her milk to become thin and weak.

This child is the single most precious thing she has ever known. How can she bear to give her up? Yet how can she bear to let her die?

At first the solution seemed simple. She would end both of their lives together, so they could never be parted. Sev¬eral times she has returned to Blackfriars Bridge, watching the dark, cold waters swirling below and trying to summon the courage to jump. But first she must climb onto the parapet, which means freeing her hands by laying down the bundle on the edge of the bridge, and even this momentary separation seems too dangerous to contemplate. What if the child should slip into the river without her?

Who would hold her tight as she fell, whispering reassurances that although the water would be cold and the journey difficult, everything would be fine when they reached the other side? Would she even have the courage to follow her?

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NK Chats To… Susan Lewis

Hello Susan. Thank you for joining me today. What inspired One Minute Later?

It was meeting twenty-one-year-old Jim Lynskey who is waiting for a new heart.

 

How has your approach to the writing process changed since your first novel? 

I think it’s more or less the same. I explore ideas, let my gut instinct decide which is the right one to go with and then I devise the characters I think will be best to tell the story.

 

Is there a particular place you like to write? Do you need coffee to write? Music? 

I always write in my study at home – I can’t seem to do it anywhere else – I tend to drink tea more than coffee, and I work in silence apart from the comforting snores of my little dogs. I also have a lovely view of the countryside through the French windows which can be very nourishing.

 

Which three characters from fiction would you invite to dinner and why? 

I’d invite Thorfinn from King Hereafter because he could tell us the true story of Macbeth. Any hero from Georgette Heyer because they’re so dashing and romantic and probably Elizabeth Bennett because she’s so sharp and witty.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Connecting Memories

Today, I thought we could try and connect three seemingly unrelated memories.

Write about three separate memories. These can be yours or they could belong to someone else.

Each one should be about fifty words.

Once you’ve done that, try and connect these three unrelated memories into one coherent story.

Three memories I have thought of off the top of my head are my Mum and Grandfather teaching me to ride my bike, My Grandmother’s first day of senior school and the day I got married.

Is what you’ve written something that could be used for a bigger project?

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Blog Tour: The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbott

Black Dot Publishing, February 2019

Hello today to Rachel Abbott and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Shape of Lies. Are you ready to play The Shape of Truth and Lies game and potentially win a signed copy of the novel? 

This is Rachel’s ninth novel and it follows respectable mother, wife and head teacher, Anna Franklyn, who is driving to work when a voice on her favourite radio phone-in programme shatters every hope that she has escaped her dark past. The caller on ‘The One That Got Away’ claims to be her ex-lover, Scott, and in less than a week, he will expose her truth on air. But how is that possible when Scott is dead?

Meanwhile, Abbott’s much-loved detective, Tom Douglas, needs to find the killer responsible for two brutal murders and unravel Anna’s web of lies to discover what connects her to both bodies.

 

The Shape of Truth and Lies Game

To celebrate the publication of The Shape of Lies we are playing a game of truth and lies. Play along, follow the blog tour to collect all the truths and you could be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of The Shape of Lies.

 

How to play:

Rachel Abbott has come up with two big lies and one absolute truth about her life. Can you channel her beloved detective, Tom Douglas, and detect the one truth? Pick carefully, then follow the blog tour to collect all the truths and enter the prize draw. Once you have all seven truths email your answers to rachelabbottcomps@gmail.com.

Full T&Cs can be found here. The next round of The Shape of Truth or Lies continues over on www.noveldeelights.com tomorrow.

Now, read on to play The Shape of Truth and Lies game and be in with a chance of winning your very own signed copy.

 

Health

  1. I suffer from sleep apnoea – which means I stop breathing in the night. My husband shakes me to make me breathe again
  2. I suffer from somnambulism – sleep walking. I once woke up trying to get into my brother-in-law’s bed (I was honestly asleep).
  3. I have visions when I sleep – vivid images of things that are about to happen. When I wake up, I take a moment to review them for premonitions of deaths. If there are none, I get on with my day.

 

Which one is truth? A, B or C? Keep your answer safe, collect all seven truths and send to: rachelabbottcomps@gmail.com (see the blog tour banner below for details of the blogs taking part in the game.)

Remember to head to www.noveldeelights.com tomorrow for the next stop of The Shape of Lies blog tour and the next game of The Shape of Truth or Lies.

 

 

 

My verdict on The Shape of Lies:

Anna has secrets and a past; things her husband Dominic knows nothing about. Secrets she wants kept hidden.

When her past threatens to ruin her present, Anna can feel it all beginning to fall apart. She is not sure what to do to stop it.

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Book Extract: Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

Hello and welcome to Lucy Coleman. She joins me today with the blog tour for her latest novel, Summer on the Italian Lakes. 

Bestselling Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping and steamy love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling…. Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing and romantic mojo?

Brie’s sun drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy ever after…

 

Lucy and Aria have shared an extract today. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

Dringggg. Dringgg. Dringgg.

The shrill ring of the doorbell makes my heart almost leap out of my chest. It must be a parcel because ringing three times is unnecessarily insistent. Delivery drivers these days need to zip around and I always feel guilty if I can’t instantly fling open the front door, because every second counts. A glance at the bedside clock tells me it’s only just after eight. But I do have a dozen sentences on the page in front of me that I haven’t yet deleted, so I haven’t totally wasted the last two hours.

Reluctantly, I push back the duvet cover and rush downstairs, feeling guilty that I’m still in bed and so far away from the door. It doesn’t help that I seem to have developed this unstoppable urge to buy things online. I’m waiting for a tempered glass screen protector for my iPad at the moment. It’s shatterproof and resistant to fingerprints. And it was on sale at the bargain price of two pounds and ninety-nine pence! How could I resist?

I pop on the chain and open the door a full six inches, peeking out and with my hand ready to grab the parcel. Three familiar faces stare back at me with looks ranging from mildly uncomfortable to horror-struck. To my utter dismay, standing on the doorstep is not only my mother, Wendy, but my best friend, Mel, and the fearsome Carrie herself.

‘Darling, can we come in?’ Mum’s voice is soft and full of compassion. A fourth person suddenly appears.

‘Morning, lovely.’ It’s Dad and he’s trying to sound upbeat. It comes out staccato fashion and even his lop-sided smile smacks of discomfort.

‘Can you take the chain off, Brie? I’m gasping for a cup of tea.’ Mel, too, sounds decidedly awkward.

I snap the door shut and stand, half leaning against the wall for a few moments while I try to collect my thoughts. I’m in no fit state to receive company and neither is the cottage. I wonder what the hell they want at this time of the morning?

I leave the chain on and ease the door open to peer around the edge once more.

‘Um… it’s a bit early, guys, and I’m not up yet. Can you come back later?’

Carrie suddenly strides forward blocking out my view of the others.

‘Open the door, Brie, this is an intervention. We aren’t going anywhere, so you might as well let us in now.’

One look at her face and I quiver, my hand reluctantly sliding back the chain. As I step aside it feels like a crowd is filtering into the hallway of my sanctuary.

‘Right,’ Dad says, looking decidedly embarrassed as he tries not to stare at me. And I can’t blame him. Even I don’t recognise me sometimes when I catch sight of myself unexpectedly in the mirror. ‘I’ll, um, put the kettle on then.’

I watch as he heads off to the kitchen and when I turn back, everyone is staring at me.

‘What on earth have you done to your hair?’ Mel asks, looking appalled.

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Book Extract: Mummy’s Favourite by Sarah Flint

Happy Friday and a big hello to Sarah Flint. She is here with the blog tour for her latest novel in the D.C. Charlotte Stafford series, Mummy’s Favourite, released by Aria in January

He’s watching… He’s waiting… Who’s next?

Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her child. One is alive. One is dead. DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is assigned by her boss, DI Geoffrey Hunter to assist with the missing person investigation, where mothers and children are being snatched in broad daylight.

As more pairs go missing, the pressure mounts. Leads are going cold. Suspects are identified but have they got the right person?

Can Charlie stop the sadistic killer whose only wish is to punish those deemed to have committed a wrong?

Or will she herself unwittingly become a victim.

Sarah and Aria have shared an extract today. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

He was Hunter by name and certainly a hunter by nature, though his look was more prey than predator. At thirty years old, he’d had the appearance of an old man, short, chubby, bald and ruddy faced. Now, as a fifty-six-year-old Detective Inspector, his body was at last representative of his age.

Charlie loved the man, not in a romantic way; he was old enough to be her father. But he was everything she aspired to be: a fearless leader, a principled, hard-working officer and a thief-taker second to none; but with the added benefit of being highly organized and always punctual. She knew beneath the stern veneer that he loved her, in his own way, too, although he would never in a million years admit it and treated her more like an errant schoolchild.

Judging by his reaction today, however, she was lucky he had still assigned her to do the enquiries.

Anyway Paul was only teasing. He could be a mischievous bugger sometimes and she knew that he had long ago worked out that she had a soft spot for Hunter. He only had to mention their boss’s name to get her blushing.

She put her arm around Paul’s waist and squeezed him back. She instinctively recognized a friend, foe or neutral, almost within minutes of a first meeting, and he was definitely a friend. He also had the knack of seeing through her outwardly hard-working, happy, confident exterior to the insecure, vulnerable soul underneath. Not many people could do that; she put on a good act.

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Book Extract: Wildflower Park – Part Two: A Budding Romance by Bella Osborne

Welcome back to Bella Osborne and the blog tour for part two of a four-part serial, Wildflower Park. This part is called A Budding Romance. 

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves in to her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

 

Bella has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy! 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

Once out of the canoes there was lots of congratulatory blokey back slapping, a few playful remonstrations and lots of Karl shaking his wet head over people like a naughty puppy. When he knew Liam was watching, Hudson leaned into Anna’s ear.

‘Nice job, honey,’ he whispered, making her shudder.

She hoped Hudson assumed her squirming was all part of the act. If you weren’t gay, you would make an excellent boyfriend, she thought. If she wasn’t careful she’d soon be suffering from Sophie’s complaint.

As the victors they were first to eat lunch, which was a barbecue by the water’s edge.

‘You okay?’ Anna asked Sophie who was munching down a large hamburger overflowing with salad.

‘Starving and a bit knackered but I had fun this morning and the lie-in was bliss. It’s lovely not to be woken by someone jumping on your bladder.’

‘You should stop Dave doing that,’ said Anna drily and Sophie gave a smirk.

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Book Review: Written From The Heart by Trisha Ashley

Tina Devino makes more money teaching people to write than writing herself. A middling romance novelist who dreams of penning a bestseller, she’s increasingly forced to compete with younger, blonder debut authors for her publisher and agent’s attention.

Feeling forgotten, Tina realises the only way up is to take her career and destiny in hand and build her own happy ending; which is perfect because, for a romance writer, Tina isn’t the most traditional of women… Although she does see her long-term partner lover friend, Sergei, once a week which is ‘quite enough, thank you very much’. But her uncomplicated love life might soon need some unravelling when a mysterious Tube Man, unwelcome ex-husband and a shadowy figure in a butterfly mask waltz into the picture.

Only Tina can work through the drama and claim the life she’s always wanted… but will she succeed?

 

Previously released and long out of print, as ‘Happy Endings’, this is nevertheless a very well told story. As an example of a best-selling author’s evolving style and confidence, it is invaluable.

The characterisation is wonderful, with Tina (IMHO) a terrific amalgam of a lot of Romance Writers I know, which make it a very personal read (for me at least).

I would give the writing a Five Star, though I would have to agree with a couple of the other reviews in that the abrupt ending is well, abrupt and you do find yourself wondering about a few loose threads not being tied up.

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Book Extract: The Secret To Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke

Hello to Victoria Cooke and the birthday blog blitz for her novel, The Secret to Falling in Love. Happy Book Birthday Victoria. 

Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta’s and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.
That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.
If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Victoria has shared an extract from the novel. I hope yo enjoy.

 

***** beginning of extract*****

Here, main character, Mel, is reflecting on her grandmother’s romantic encounter with her grandad. This memory helps plant the idea of a technology detox in Mel’s mind.

I stumbled across a picture of me and my grandma. My throat ached as a lump formed. She’d died just two months ago, and I’d missed her ever since. She was my rock who I could talk to about anything; she knew me better than anyone else on the planet. I lifted my glass.

‘To you, Gran – I hope you’re raising hell up there.’ The last time I’d spoken to her, she’d told me to stop worrying about finding a man.

‘You’re not going to find anyone in there,’ she’d scolded, pointing to my laptop. ‘Do you think that’s how I met Grandad?’

I didn’t reply. Gran’s questions were usually rhetorical, which you discovered if you tried to answer.

‘No, I put on my make-up; made sure my best dress was darned, washed and pressed; and I went out and smiled at boys. It was easy to catch an eye or two.’ I’d chuckled at the time. Of course, things were different these days, but I enjoyed her stories so played along. ‘Grandad asked me if I wanted a drink. But I said a firm no.’

‘No?’ I’d queried, wondering if she’d not been attracted to him at first, if she was trying to tell me to just settle for someone.

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NK Chats To… Amanda Brooke

Hi Amanda, thank you so much for joining me today. I am very happy to be part of the blog tour for your book,  Don’t Turn Around. Can you tell me about it?

My latest book is set ten years after the death of seventeen year-old Megan McCoy and is told from the perspectives of Meg’s mum, Ruth and her cousin, Jen who was also her best friend. Meg died from suicide and her parents have established a helpline in her memory to reach out to young people in crisis who need someone to talk to.

The family are trying to rebuild their lives but there are questions that haunt them. What hold did her boyfriend have over her and why did she protect him to the very end? Was the brief note she left meant to be a cryptic message or did someone destroy part of the note before her father found her body?

The family think they have accepted there will be no answers until a young woman phones the helpline and reveals things that only Meg could know. Is she suffering as Meg had suffered and can they save her?

 

What’s your writing day like, where do you like to write, do you prefer silence and what keeps you motivated throughout your writing time?

I gave up a career in local government two years ago to become a fulltime writer and it’s so much easier having a set routine rather than fitting writing in around the day job.

My writing room was my son’s bedroom but working from home can be quite sedentary and I adapted my treadmill so I could walk and type on my laptop for the first hour or two each day. It was a great plan but as you know, it was a very hot summer last year, and my treadmill started billowing smoke! Unsurprisingly, I haven’t used it since but I have a dog now and we go out for long walks once I’ve met my daily word count. She’s the incentive I need to keep the words flowing so that we can escape together.

 

What elements do you believe make a good suspense novel? What are the common mistakes made if you’re writing one for the first time?

The best compliment you can give a writer is that their book was a page turner and that’s particularly important when it comes to suspense novels. Making the reader want to read on is an art and to get it right you have to consider the pace and structure of your story.

Each chapter should give the reader something but also leave them wanting to know more.

The characters are also key as the reader has to be invested in them. Protagonists should be relatable and that means giving them flaws as well as strengths, whilst the reverse is true of antagonists who can benefit from having something about them that makes them human.

 

What is your favourite word and why?

Having a favourite word can be problematic if it sticks in your mind and you find it appearing in one page after another. Hopefully, the repetitions are picked up during editing but often it’s a surprise to see how many times your copyeditor has to flag up overused words.

One word that I fell in love with at the start of my writing journey was ‘unfettered.’ It described perfectly the decision one of my characters had to make in my first novel, Yesterday’s Sun. She was to sacrifice her life for that of her child and her decision needed to be unfettered by other influences, such as the love for her husband or the dreams she had beyond becoming a mother.

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NK Chats To… Steven J. Gill

Hi Steven. Welcome to Novel Kicks. Can you tell me about your novel, The Rock ‘N’ The Roll ‘N’ That and what inspired it?

The novel in very simple terms is about a band.

A middle-aged man stumbles across said band as they prop up the bill in a subterranean haunt in Manchester.

He offers to manage them, and their journeys begin.

The backdrop is essentially to highlight love and friendship and the insecurities/successes/predicaments that middle-age can bring.

In terms of what inspired the novel, I’d previously read a book that used the music industry as a backdrop but felt it could be done better. I then attended the inaugural Festival Number 6. In North Wales and after an enjoyable afternoon at the literary stage, had somewhat of an epiphany and decided I would set to and get my book written.

The coupling of the music industry and this ‘new-breed’ of middle-aged felt like it had a lot mileage. Forty-something is now such a different beast in comparison to previous generations. And that opens a wealth of possibilities and jacking your job in to mange a band is well within the realms of possibility this day and age.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write and do you prefer silence? What keeps you motivated when writing?

It tends to fit in around work and I work in a room with a table, a huge bookcase and a stereo. I like to write for a couple of hours at a time. And I do very little in silence!

A perfect writing day involves no work. Get up and do a couple of hours. Go to the gym. Come back and eat couple more hours writing. Go for a walk for an hour mid afternoon and then a couple more hours writing. Breaking the creative process up allows for thinking time.

Motivation is progress in simple terms – be it writing or editing etc.

 

What’s your route to publication?

I ran a social media crowdfund campaign to gauge interest and to ‘out’ myself as a writer. The response was great, and I used the monies to get the book professionally edited and launched via Clink Street.

 

Do you have a favourite word?

Tough question and it can easily change from day-to-day – much like my favourite Beatles track – but let’s say preternaturally today.

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Book Review: The Talisman – Molly’s Story by Eliza J. Scott

Molly’s dream of taking over her childhood home at Withrin Hill Farm with husband Pip and their three children has finally come true.

And, as they settle into the stunning Georgian farmhouse, with their plans to diversify into glamping nicely taking shape, the family couldn’t be happier.
But tragedy suddenly strikes, and Molly’s world is turned upside down.

Heartbroken and devastated, she struggles to face each day. True to form, her fiercely loyal best friends, Kitty and Violet, rally round offering love and support, but Molly doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to smile again. Until the day a tall, dark stranger with twinkly eyes arrives…

Follow Molly’s story in book 2 of the Life on the Moors Series set in Lytell Stangdale, a picture-perfect village in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors, where life is anything but quiet.

The Talisman, Molly’s Story is book two in the Life on the Moors series.

Picking up a few months from where Kitty’s story left off, The Talisman focuses on Molly and Pip.

They have a dream to convert part of their farm into a glamping business. With everything looking as though it is slipping into place, Molly has never been happier, and she counts her blessings.

When tragedy strikes, Molly’s life feels like it is crumpling around her and nothing is going to fix it…

I am excited to be part of the blog tour for this novel especially on publication day.

I very much enjoyed Kitty’s story and was so happy to be back in Lytell Stangdale with Molly, Pip, Ollie, Kitty, Vi and the hilarious Jimby.

Reading the first novel will give you insight but you can very much read this as a standalone if you wanted to begin with this one.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: A Time For Firsts

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Pinch punch first day of the month.

Your character finds themselves overwhelmed when they experience three big firsts in one day.

Their age, gender, job is up to you.

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NK Chats To… Hanna Jameson

Hanna Jameson is the author of The Last, published by Viking, 31st January.

Hi Hanna, thank you so much for joining me today. Your book is called The Last and it’s been released today. Can you tell me a little about it and what inspired it?

The Last is a murder mystery narrated by an American academic, stranded in a remote hotel in Switzerland following the outbreak of nuclear war. It was inspired by me needing to write something else before I ran out of money, and also our political landscape. I started writing it almost immediately after the 2016 US presidential election, an event that I think many still haven’t recovered from. I tried to channel that sadness and anger, and also the ever-looming dread and grief about the impending climate apocalypse, into something constructive. Otherwise I’d just be yelling on Twitter.

 

Which author has inspired you the most and why?

This is a tough one, but taking someone’s work as a whole, probably J.G. Ballard. His work affected me profoundly when I was a teenager and it dictated a lot of my future taste. People describe The Last by referencing Agatha Christie but I’ve never read Agatha Christie. The influence I was drawing from was actually Ballardian; novels like Concrete Island and High-Rise, which create this atmosphere of extreme claustrophobia in an intimidating – almost devastating – amount of abandoned space. I was obsessed with his particular brand of near-future dystopia and I think he is still unparalleled.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write and do you prefer to write in silence?

I either write at home with headphones on, or at a coffee shop with headphones on. The latter gets expensive so I only do it when I need to get words out quickly, or when I’ve been struggling to focus. I like coffee shops because, even though I put my headphones on to lock down my emotional space with my own playlists or even a TV show in the background, I can still see and hear activity, which is very motivating and distracts the part of my brain that likes the distract me. I only work in silence when reading my work out-loud, which I always do when editing.

 

What is your route to publication?

Same as everyone else’s. A lot of hard work and perseverance, deluded levels of self-belief, that only amounted to anything due to luck.

 

What elements do you feel make a good novel?

Character, character, character. I could not give less of a shit about your plot or how good it is if I don’t care about your characters. If I realise I don’t care, I shut the book. In terms of creating good characters, there are many ways to do that. It mostly involves being honest, aware of how your limited perspective could cause you to rely on harmful stereotypes instead of empathy and genuine attempts at research and emotional interpretation.

 

What is your favourite word and why?

It changes all the time according to mood, but I love the word ‘epicaricacy,’ which is the English word for ‘schadenfreude.’

 

Are you able to tell me a little about your current work in progress?

I’m working on two projects currently. One is a TV show, a historical drama. The other is my fifth novel, which – like The Last – is also a near-future dystopian thriller.

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