Book Review: Two Silver Crosses by Beryl Kingston

Twins Ginny and Emily Holborn have everything they could ever need in their Wolverhampton home: a loving family, a garden to play in and a staff waiting to attend to their every need. Until, one summer day in 1926, they disappear without a trace.

Ten years later, bright-eyed solicitor Charlie Commoner is given his first job: track down the still-missing Holborn twins. Despatched to France, he’s left to unravel a web of infidelity, mystery, and terrifying family secrets.

Let bestselling author Beryl Kingston sweep you away on a journey from London to Paris, through tragedy and triumph in the search for two sisters wearing two silver crosses.

 

Twins Emily and Ginny have a nice life with their parents and Grandfather in Wolverhampton.

However, when their father dies, they are told by their mother that they need to leave and can’t go back. Also, they are not to talk about who they are when they reach France.

Back in Britain, the family don’t know why the twins and their mother would just disappear.
Years later, it is important that these girls are found but not everyone wants to see them return.

This was the first novel I’d read by Beryl Kingston.

The plot of this novel is compelling. I did find it a little slow at the beginning so it was a little difficult to get into but I am pleased that I did stick with it as I eventually got really drawn into the story of these three women and the man who was sent to find them.

It’s set in both England and France. The descriptions of the towns in France were so vivid. I could imagine them and felt very immersed in the story.

Ginny and Emily are very different as characters. Ginny is the louder of the two. Emily is the one I resonated with the most. She is a homebody and prefers to be around family. Both girls want to live their own lives but are being held back slightly by their mother; not really understanding why.

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A Moment with… Tony Lee Moral

Welcome to Tony Lee Moral who is here to talk about his new novel, The Haunting of Alice May, released on 12th March. 

Alice May Parker moves with her family to the sleepy town of Pacific Grove after her Mom dies, but little does she know the strange and terrifying events to come.When she falls into the bay during a kayaking trip, she is rescued from drowning by the mysterious Henry Raphael.

Handsome, old-fashioned and cordial, he is unlike any other boy she has known before. Intelligent and romantic, he sees straight into her soul.

Soon Alice and Henry are swept up in a passionate and decidedly unorthodox romance until she finds out that Henry is not all what he seems.

 

Tony is here to talk about the inspiration and process behind The Haunting of Alice May.

In my new novel The Haunting of Alice May, I blend mystery, with suspense and the supernatural. The central character, Alice Parker, moves to Pacific Grove, California, with her father and little sister after her mother dies. Whilst kayaking in the bay, she paddles towards a mysterious island, but capsizes and is drowning when a young man, Henry Raphael, magically appears, delivering her safely to the beach. Against all rules, they begin seeing each other.

The novel is partly inspired by J.M. Barrie’s supernatural 1920 play Mary Rose, about a woman who disappears on a Scottish island and reappears many years later in a ghostly form, while all her loved ones and those around her have grown old. Barrie is best known for writing Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up in 1904, about a boy who has an overwhelming desire to remain young forever.

I first read Mary Rose when I was researching my books on Alfred Hitchcock, as it was the Master of Suspense’s favourite and he wanted to make it into a film. He thought about the challenges of creating Mary Rose as a ghost with neon lights, but unfortunately was never able to realize his passion project. So Henry, in my novel is a version of Mary Rose — someone who never grows old, doesn’t become an adult, is from a different era, and is tied to a mysterious island.

Taking this premise, I thought, wouldn’t it be fascinating and sad if the ghost never grew old, while those around him had died? When Henry falls in love with a human, the dilemma is that they are not only from two different times, but also from two different worlds. While Alice is a contemporary teenage girl with a romantic nostalgia for past literature, Henry’s values are from the turn of the 20th Century, and he is bound by a sense of old-fashioned duty.

When writing for it is important to distinguish between mystery and suspense. Many readers become confused by the two terms. Having written three books on Alfred Hitchcock, I learned that they are actually two very different processes. Mystery is an intellectual process like a riddle or a whodunit. The mystery of Henry, who saves Alice from drowning, is who is he really? Is he a ghost? Where does he come from? What secrets does this island hold on which he inhabits? These are all mysteries that run through the book.

Each of the main characters has their own personal mystery to unravel, whether it be Alice, Henry, Emily, or Heather. Mystery is a central part of being a teenager. Teens are faced with such questions as: What will happen to me when I grow up? Will I find a partner? Will I fulfil my ambitions? Will I do well at school? When Henry asks Alice, “What are you afraid of then?”, she doesn’t immediately answer. Yet inside, she knows she is afraid of many things: concerns for her family, their future, and growing up without a mother. For me, this is the crux of the novel. Part of the fear of growing older is not having fulfilled your life’s ambitions.

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NK Chats To: Eleanor Anstruther

Hello Eleanor, welcome to Novel Kicks. Can you tell me a little about your book, A Perfect Explanation and what inspired it?

A Perfect Explanation is based on the true story of Enid Campbell, granddaughter to the 8th Duke of Argyll, who sold her son to her sister for £500.

She was my grandmother, and the son she sold, my father. I’d always known the basic fact of this story, but no more than that. Thirteen years ago, I asked my father to tell me about his mother, and his response inspired the novel.

 

How much of a challenge was it to write a fictional story around historical events?

It was a huge challenge, not least because the characters in the book, who behave so badly and make such terrible mistakes, are my relations, and the urge to take sides was almost overwhelming. Added to that was the difficulty of first making sense of a complicated story, and then picking a narrative out of that complex weave of real life events.

A narrative must have a beginning and an end, whereas in reality, the scenes of our lives trail endlessly into one another. I had to choose where to start and stop, which of the many points of view to take, and essentially, what story to tell. Everybody wanted to have their say, but having spent a decade listening to them all, and writing many versions, I stood back and wrote the story as I wanted it told. It became as much my perfect explanation as it is theirs.

 

What is your typical writing day like? Do you write in silence? Have a specific place to write?

It depends where I am with a piece of work. I have a studio in the garden, and I’ll be up there every morning for two or three hours while working on a first draft. Often once I’m in the editing process, I’ll start at four or five in the morning, and work much longer days. It’s gruelling and relentless, but nothing else gets a book written.

I write in silence, although another vital part of my writing day is thinking about the work in the evening, my notepad beside me. I have playlists for everything I write, and listening to the music which goes with the novel I’m thinking about, often produces new ideas or solves that day’s problem.

I also do some sort of exercise most days, either running, walking or swimming. As with listening to playlists, I often solve problems when away from my desk, either out in the fresh air, or ploughing up and down a pool.

 

What’s your writing process like (from idea to final draft?)

Ideas come and niggle at me until I pick up my pen and write them down, and then it’s too late to do anything but think of how they might grow. It’s a trick really, of stories, to get themselves written. They pretend they’re just an itch, but as soon as you scratch them, they turn into a full blown illness that can only be cured by completion. So I write down ideas, and then at some point I take an idea up to my studio where the whole thing becomes more serious and I start to think about what it is and how it can be.

Salt, 15th March 2019

Julie Cohen gives the best advice for writing; it is simply to “finish the damn book” which is easier than it sounds. Knowing how tough first drafts are, when I’ve decided to take the plunge, I just hold my breath and get on with it until I have what Graham Linehan calls “the screaming skinless babe” that is a completed first draft.

After that it’s months and months of editing, reading it back aloud – this is crucial, by the way, to hearing flow, tone and rhythms – and leaving it to rest for weeks at a time too, so that I can go back to it with fresh eyes. When I feel I can do more, I’ll send it a trusted freelance editor I’ve been using for years, to get his take on it, and only after that, and more editing, does it go to my agent. I also usually run it past a couple of beta-readers, chosen specifically for that material.

Having now been through the process to completion, I know that it isn’t truly finished until I’m holding the printed book in my hands.

 

What inspired you to be a writer?

I come from a family of writers; it’s in my blood. I’ve always written and can’t imagine life without it. I did, however, take a long time to recognise it as a career. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I thought, why not do this as a profession?

 

Which author/book has influenced you the most?

That’s a very tough question – can I have two?! Henry James and George Eliot.

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Book Review: The Truth About Love and Dogs by Lilly Bartlett

Scarlett and Rufus aren’t in the honeymoon stage anymore so much as the honey-should-we-bother phase.

Desperate to get their sparkle back, Scarlett has plotted, planned and waxed more than any woman should have to, but none of it is working.

Which makes it very hard to start the family they want.

At least her business is going strong, even if her marriage isn’t. She and her best friend spend their days tangled up in dog leads and covered in fur.

Scarlett is the fairy dogmother, training hopeless pets like compulsive eater Barkley, impulsive Romeo Murphy and bossy Biscuit. Meanwhile, her best friend walks the dogs and pines for the man who doesn’t know she exists.

Thank goodness the women have each other.

If only Scarlett could work out how to get her marriage back on track. But Rufus isn’t sharing his feelings with her. He is, though, sharing with her best friend. Her best friend, Shannon.

Four words from her husband Rufus turns Scarlett’s world upside down.

The Truth about Love and Dogs was originally published as Love is a Four-Legged Word and as Michele Gorman, not Lilly Bartlett.

Scarlett wishes her personal life was better. Although she finds that her marriage may be falling apart, her business is going from strength to strength. She is a dog whisperer – training a variety of dogs whilst her best friend and business partner, Shannon, walks the dogs whilst dreaming about a man she has only seen from afar.

I have read a few of Lilly/Michele’s novels now and was already a big fan. I had not read this one under its previous title but it did not disappoint.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: What’s in the Cupboard?

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.

Today’s prompt: 

You are sitting in a chair when your child comes up and sits next to you. Out of nowhere, your child looks at you and says…

‘Daddy/Mummy, who is that in the cupboard upstairs and why are they sleeping when it’s not bed time?’

Begin with the above sentence.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Speaking Differently

Today, I wanted to focus on the various speaking styles of characters. I

Each character needs to have their own specific voice.

Write two pages of dialogue.

One character only speaks in short sentences whilst your other character is a bit more of a chatterbox. They speak in longer sentences.

Has this achieved two distinctive voices?

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Kindle March Book Haul

HarperCollins, May 2019

There have been lots of great novels already released this year and plenty more on their way. 

I am looking forward to reading many of these books. I wanted to do a book haul for titles that I have ready to read on my kindle.

The Furies by Katie Lowe sounds absolutely amazing.

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property. Her body is dressed in white and posed on a swing. The cause of death is unknown.

There are four girls that know what’s happened. They’ve managed to keep their secret. Until now.

I don’t know why but I am getting a little bit of a Virgin Suicides vibe from this novel and I can’t wait to read it.

This is due to be released on 2nd May 2019.

 

Half a World Away is the new book by Mike Gayle. I have adored this man’s novels for many years and always get a little excited when he released a book.

Hodder & Stoughton, June 2019

HarperCollins, April 2019

The general summary of this novel is Kerry Hayes is a single mum, a cleaner, and is Mariah Carey’s biggest fan.

Nick is a successful Barrister. He has a wife, a daughter and has a big house in Primrose Hill.

These two are strangers who have nothing in common and who may as well be living worlds apart.
It wasn’t always this way. They are both about to discover who they really are.

 

The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap is another book I am looking forward to reading. The cover is beautiful.

The release of the paperback is on 18th April. The basic story surrounds Jillian (Nova to all but her mother,) who has lived thirty-two years in the dark.

She is now learning to see. The sky is blue, and green and grey. A whole spectrum of colours that are as changeable as her mood.

The one thing she can see is that Kate is going to change her life forever even though they have only just met.

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Book Extract: The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green

Hello and welcome to Linda Green. Her novel, The Last Thing She Told Me has been released today. 

Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…

Moments before Nicola’s grandmother dies, she whispers in her ear that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense, however when a bone is found in the garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place and there’s a family secret to be unearthed that has the power to tear the family apart.

This is an incredibly emotional and page-turning novel set in Yorkshire, bridging the gap between domestic noir and up-lit that deals with generations of families and the secrets they keep.

 

To celebrate publication day for The Last Thing She Told Me, Linda and Quercus have shared a chapter. Enjoy. 

(content warning. Potentially distressing for some readers.) 

 

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

 

For all the women and girls who have been made to feel shame

It was the shame, you see. The shame I brought on my family. Sometimes it is easier not to believe than to accept something so awful could have happened. That is why people bury things far beneath the surface. Deep down, out of sight and out of mind. Though not out of my mind. I carry the shame with me always. The shame and the guilt. They do not go away. If anything, they weigh heavier on me now than they did back then. Dragging me down, clawing at my insides. And when people say that what’s buried in the past should stay there, they mean they don’t want to have to deal with it. They’re scared of the power of secrets to destroy lives. But keeping secrets can destroy you from the inside. Believe me, I know. And even the best-kept secrets have a habit of forcing their way to the surface.

1
The house appeared to know that its owner was about to die, shrouded, as it was, in early- morning mist, the downstairs curtains closed in respect, the gate squeaking mournfully as I opened it.
If there was such a thing as a nice house in which to end your days, this certainly wasn’t it. It was cold, dark and draughty, perched high on the edge of the village, as if it didn’t really want to be part of it but was too polite to say so. Behind it, the fields ‒ criss-crossed by dry-stone walls ‒ stretched out into the distance. Beyond them, the unrelenting bleakness of the moors.
I shivered as I hurried up the path and let myself in.
‘Grandma, it’s me.’ The first thing I thought when I didn’t hear a response was that maybe I was too late. She’d been weak, drifting in and out of sleep when I’d left the previous night. Perhaps she hadn’t made it through till morning.
But when I entered the front room – in which she’d lived, eaten and slept for the past year – she turned her face to give me the faintest of smiles.
‘Morning,’ I said. ‘Did you manage to get some sleep?’
She nodded.
‘It’s not too late to change your mind, you know. We could get you to hospital, or the hospice
said we could call them at any time.’

She shook her head. She’d remained adamant she would leave the house only in a coffin. She’d also refused medication to relieve the pain. It was as if she thought she somehow had a duty to suffer.
‘Well, at least let me stay over tonight. I hate the thought of you being on your own.’
‘I won’t be here tonight.’ Her words were faint and difficult to understand. She’d taken her teeth out several weeks previously and refused to put them back in since.
‘Come on. You’ve been saying that for weeks.’
‘I’m tired. It’s time to go now.’
There was something about the look in her eye as she said it that told me she meant it. I sat
down on the end of her bed and took her hand. Her skin was paper-thin, revealing the bones and blue veins beneath it. She’d once said she liked me coming to visit because I was the only one who let her talk about death without getting upset or pretending it wasn’t going to happen.
‘Is there anything I can get to make you more comfortable?’
She shook her head again. We sat there for a while saying nothing, listening to the ticking of the clock and her shallow breaths. I tried to imagine what it must be like knowing you are about to die. I would want my family around me, I knew that.
‘Do you want me to give Mum a call?’ I asked. She managed to raise her eyebrows at me. It was as near as I’d get to a telling off at this point. She had always been very accepting of their distant relationship. It was me who struggled with it.
‘I could ask James to bring the girls over.’
She shook her head again and whispered, ‘I don’t want to upset them. They’re good girls. Anyway, I’ve got them with me.’

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NK Chats To: Roxie Cooper

Hi Roxie, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to Novel Kicks today. Your book is called The Day We Met (released today. Yay.) What’s it about and what inspired it?

Hi, thanks for having me! The Day We Met is novel about meeting the right person at the wrong time and it asks the question; what happens if you meet your soulmate when you’re just about to marry someone else? Stephanie and Jamie are both happy with other people when they meet each other, but they can’t ignore the strong connection and chemistry between them. Unwilling to slip into a typical affair, they decide to meet on the same weekend every year, as friends. The novel spans a ten-year period and we see how the relationship affects them, their marriages, and careers.

I wanted to write a different kind of love story, one which reflected modern times and attitudes. I’ve always been intrigued by people’s varying opinions on physical and emotional infidelity; is one worse than the other? How do emotional affairs start and just how damaging are they? It’s a huge grey area which sparks monumental discussion and, as a former lawyer, they’re something I love exploring. But it was when I heard Paloma Faith’s Only Love Can Hurt Like This one day that the novel became fully alive in my mind. I knew this had to be an epic love story about two people who couldn’t be together but couldn’t be apart either. That was also the moment I decided that the novel would have to be set to music.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write, do you prefer silence and is there something you need to do/have before you begin writing (coffee for example?)

Sorry to be really awkward, but I have different routines for different stages of the writing process! When I’m writing the actual book, I adopt a fairly strict routine but it’s carried out in a nice environment. So, I’ll drop both my kids at school then dash to a coffee shop on my local high street. Both of my previous books were written there. I don’t stop until I’ve written at least 1000 words and I need my iPod on with people walking around. I like being in the middle of the hustle of it all and I stay there until it’s time to pick the kids up again. Once I move onto edits, however, everything changes. I lock myself in the house and have the TV on at a barely audible volume – I need a tiny amount of white noise. I have to drink coffee in the morning, switching to tea in the afternoon. I turn into a complete recluse in this period, I don’t see my friends for months. It’s very extreme but it works for me!

 

Which author or book has most influenced you?

I’ve read so many books by authors I’ve admired, but in terms of ones who have influenced my career, I’d have to say Adele Parks. I read her novel, Playing Away, in my 20s and thought it was such a standout, brave debut. I researched the author and discovered that she, too, was from Teesside – I couldn’t believe it! That was the moment I thought ‘Wow – if someone from Boro can become an author, there’s hope for any of us.’ It was around this time I started to have ideas about a novel of my own but hadn’t started writing it yet (that book turned out to be my debut The Law of Attraction), but each time I read another of Adele’s books, it cemented my ambition.

 

What made you first realise that you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved reading, but I was never one of those kids who wanted to write – or an adult, for that matter. The idea came to me after I became disillusioned with my former career as a criminal barrister. I come from a very working class background and would tell all my friends about the outrageously silly traditions and rituals I had to participate in at the Bar. Coming from Teesside, I’d tell the stories through a very unimpressed ‘Boro lens’ and they’d all say to me “You need to write a book about this!” I also got so fed up with people saying to me “You really don’t look like a barrister!” so in 2009 I started writing my debut novel The Law of Attraction – a book about a blonde, working class, intelligent, sassy girl from Teesside who is propelled into the posh world of barristers. I hadn’t even considered writing a book before I was 31 years old.

 

What’s your route to publication?

I did a lot of research before I submitted my debut novel to agents. My first novel was the only book I’d ever written and took me about 16 months to write. When I felt it was polished enough to allow an agent to read, I sent it off to three I had my eye on (which was terrifying!). Sarah Hornsley from The Bent Agency requested a full manuscript within 24 hours. I was a nervous wreck! Sarah called me and we had the most amazing chat. I knew then that she was the right agent for me. She made suggestions on how I could improve the manuscript (which I did) and six weeks later she offered representation. The next step was submitting the novel to publishers. I had offers from two publishing houses and The Law of Attraction was eventually published in June 2017 with the Harper Collins imprint, HQ Digital.

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Book Review: The Newcomer by Fern Britton

I can’t hold in the excitement I feel to be welcoming Fern Britton to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her new novel, The Newcomer which has been released today. Happy publication day, Fern. 

 

She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms.

It was to be a new beginning…

It’s springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny, a newcomer causes quite a stir…

Reverand Angela Whitehorn came to Cornwall to make a difference. With her husband, Robert, by her side, she sets about making changes – but it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon Angela starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.

Angela has always been one to fight back, and she has already brought a fresh wind into the village, supporting her female parishioners through good times and bad. But as the letters get increasingly more personal, Angela learns that the secrets are closer to home.

With faith and friends by your side, even the most unlikely of new beginnings is possible.

 

I have become a fan of Fern’s novels and so I was looking forward to reading The Newcomer.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Throughout this book, I was glued. I was sneaking a page or a chapter in whenever I could.

Angela was a believable and relatable character who is trying to make a difference. The supporting characters are also great.

Whilst reading, I felt like I was by the water in this lovely Cornwall village and that is always good for the soul. The plot had many twists and turns and never quite went in the direction I was expecting it to.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Different Orders

This week, I wanted to focus on how moving plot events around, you can change/improve the story. 

Write down the following four plot points, each on a separate piece of paper. Put them into a jar or a hat and take them back out one at a time, lining them up.

This is the new order for the story. Write your own version using this order.

Cinderella is told she can’t go to the ball.

Cinderella meets the Prince.

Cinderella loses her shoe. 

Cinderella gets married. 

How does the story change once you’ve moved it around?

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My February Favourites

Goodbye February and hello March. 

Today, I wanted to share my February favourites. I love these kinds of posts. One, I am really nosy and secondly, I have discovered so many products through these kinds of posts.

My favourites this month include TV shows, a podcast, and a new diary.
What have you been loving this month? Let me know in the comments.

I am a little obsessed with diaries. I am always on the lookout for the perfect one and have already changed diaries twice this year.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been using a Hobonichi Weeks mega edition for 2019.
Like the Moleskine diaries, this has space with a weekly view. On the opposing page, there is room for notes.
At the back, there are over two hundred blank pages. If you’re looking for something to begin a bullet journal, this would be a good book to use. Or, like me, if you want to combine a notebook and diary, this is perfect.

I have mostly been planning digitally when it comes to the blog and the daily tasks, events and appointments. I have an iPad Pro and apple pencil. I have been holding off planning my novel digitally. I love pen and pencil and I think I felt as though I wouldn’t be a proper writer if I didn’t use paper. I know, I am being ridiculous.

What I love about the digital notebook I’ve been using for novel notes is that I can have a book for the novel, another for general notes, one for Novel Kicks and it is all in the same place. The pencil allows me to handwrite on the tablet, so it means I have less to carry around. Less confusing and easier on the shoulder as my bag isn’t as heavy. I have found it’s the best of both worlds. This, along with the Hobonichi weeks is doing me just fine.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Last by Hanna Jameson

Viking, 2019

Hello March and greetings to a brand new book to discuss. 

I personally am very excited by this month’s pick which, if you’ve not already guessed is The Last by Hanna Jameson.

When I read this one, I couldn’t put it down and I am looking forward to talking about it. I do at any opportunity.  As normal, I have added a question below to kick off the discussion.

Remember, anyone can take part in our book club and it can be from the comfort of your sofa, bed, whatever.

 

About The Last:

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilisation, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia, and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

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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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