Who’s That Girl is the brilliant novel from Mhairi Mcfarlane. I’m so incredibly excited and honoured to be welcoming her to Novel Kicks today. I’ve reviewed Who’s That Girl below but first, I have a chat with Mhairi about her book, her writing process, who from the fictional world she’d like to hang out with and writing advice I am going to print out and pin to my desk.
Hi Mhairi, it’s lovely to welcome you to Novel Kicks today. Could you tell me a little about your novel, Who’s That Girl?
Lovely to be here! Who’s That Girl? is about Edie Thompson, 36, who is caught kissing the groom on his wedding day. She has her reasons, but no one wants to hear them, and it causes a scandal that sees her carefully managed life in advertising in London fall apart. She she has to go home to Nottingham and face her demons, and her grumpy younger hippy sister, Meg. She gets a temporary assignment ghost writing a celebrity biography and meets a hot new actor, Elliot Owen. Together they help each other tackle fame and infamy.
What’s your writing process like? Are you much of a planner or edit as you go?
I am such an ex journalist in this respect: I edit like fury as I go along, I don’t know how else to be: it has to feel more or less right or I can’t move forward. It’s a good thing in it that I tend to be quite clear in my tone and intent from the start, and I don’t have – my editor gives side eye here – HUGE rewrites later, but it doesn’t make me all that speedy, either. I have to bully myself to move on and not torture myself over it being exactly where I want it and polished to a high shine. Which no first draft ever is, really.
If you mean plot planning, I work to a rough A to Z outline but there’s a fair amount of free styling along the way.
Do you have any writing rituals for example writing in silence, chain drinking coffee?
Oh I hammer through great pails of black coffee definitely. No rituals, I’m not one of those ordered Kon Mari-ish writers with five fresh pens and a 9am on the dot start at a sun lit desk and all that. I can’t cope with music when I write, way too distracting, but oddly I can cope with the bang and clatter of a coffee shop, so if I get cabin fever, I take my laptop to Caffe Nero. Then of course I sit down next to five shrieking students and I start scowling as if they’ve brought their lattes into my library.by
Our second cover reveal of the evening (we are being spoilt today) comes from Stephanie Butland.
Her novel, Lost For Words is due for release by Zaffre in April. A novel based in a bookshop is one I am really looking forward to reading. Plus, the name of the main character is just fabulous.
About Lost For Words:
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look closely, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are things she’ll never show you.
Fifteen years ago Loveday lost all she knew and loved in one unspeakable night. Now, she finds refuge in the unique little York bookshop where she works.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past. Someone is trying to send her a message. And she can’t hide any longer.
Lost for Words is a compelling, irresistible and heart-rending novel, with the emotional intensity of The Shock of the Fall and all the charm of The Little Paris Bookshop and 84 Charing Cross Road.
One, two, three…. time for the cover!by
It is cover reveal time here at Novel Kicks.
The featured cover is for the fantastic new novel from Catherine Ferguson. It’s called The Secret of Ivy Garden and it is Catherine’s fifth novel. It is due for release by Avon on 3rd April 2017.
About The Secrets of Ivy Garden:
When Holly breaks up with her boyfriend Dean, she’s at a loss as to what to do next. But things go from bad to worse when her beloved grandmother Ivy dies – and Holly is left in charge of sorting out Ivy’s house and garden. As she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings and makes her way through the wilderness outside, Holly soon finds that there is more to Ivy than meets the eye, and uncovers a surprising family secret that changes everything…
This is a heart-warming and hilarious story from Catherine Ferguson about starting over, learning to garden and most of all learning to love.
Are you ready for the cover… drum roll…..by
Will must run from the gang that controls the estate where he lives or die. He has witnessed the murder of his Aunty and so he is running for his life. He needs to find somewhere to hide
In doing this, he ends up in the area outside the estate he has known all of his life. It’s all very different. People don’t walk around looking over their shoulder and businesses thrive.
He finds shelter in what he calls a ‘glass house.’
Soon after that, he meets Padma and falls in love. He feels he could actually make his life better. Then his past catches up with him.
This book is based around/ is an updated version of Beauty and The Beast. When I started reading, I did wonder how this was going to be achieved. The story is so well-known. It’s all be integrated really well.
The description of the green house and the plants are so vivid. I felt as though I was there. The writing is fast paced and page turning.
I read this in pretty much one sitting (it’s a hundred pages long) but it drew me in. I even like how Amanda included the roses.
Will has been told he is one thing all of his life. He assumes that all he has ever known is all he will ever be. Escaping shows him a different path. You’ve just got to want it. Also, first impressions and appearances are not always to be trusted.
This is a great addition to the Quick Reads library. I enjoyed it very much.
Friday 17th February 2017: Start The Next Sentence With….
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: Use the last word of each sentence to begin the next one.
For example, The cat came in from outside. Outside was cold. Cold was making it’s presence known.
Start off your piece off with the following sentence; ‘I looked at the clock. I couldn’t wait.’
Hello all. How is everyone?
This week has been a little bit of a quiet one for me. It’s mostly been consisting of night shifts which has meant that I have been mostly trying to sleep during the day. That sounds amazing when you’ve not got people ringing the doorbell and buses thumping by. Oh, and a cat craving attention. Even when I close the door, we will meow until I have opened it.
It’s that law of when you need to sleep, you can’t and when you get to work, all you want to do is fall sleep. Then when you get to sleep, you wake up and clock watch. My head will remind me of things before I sleep – embarrassing moments in my life (it likes reminding me of those.) My to-do list, that I need a drink of water. It will helpfully wait until I have almost dropped off. Does this happen to anyone else?
I have been managing t0 get a lot of reading done this week which is great. I have read some great books this month too; Who’s That Girl by Mhairi Macfarlane, If I Ever Fall by SD Robertson and The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott (reviews and blog tours coming soon.)by
Finding the time to write can sometimes be hard to do. Work, school runs, bedtime routines… there are many things in life that can get in the way.
The other battle is once you’ve sat down to write, your inspiration disappears and that blank space on the page can be incredibly daunting. No matter how long you sit there, the words will not come.
This is why I like writing prompts. Your brain is like a car engine. It works better when it has warmed up. Today I wanted to share two books that I’ve found so helpful.
Form letters by Laura Olin is a series of letters where you fill in the blanks. In the form of a workbook, it has a series of pages that include a letter to an internet friend who you’d like to know better, a note of encouragement to yourself, a letter to your sibling, your valentine and the ex whose instagram you’re stalking.
‘Fill in the blank notes to say anything to anyone.’
If you need something to get the creativity going, this book could be perfect. You never know what these letters will spark.by
It’s Valentine’s Day. I can’t help but get caught up in all the romance of this day. I know a lot of people don’t consider it an important day but I can’t help myself. I am soppy. Always have been. Hey, I like Disney. It would be hard not to be a little sucked in by all the happy.
I love romantic stories. The stories where there are two people who are meant to be together. I love that moment when they get out of their own way and get their happy ever after. I am such a sucker for the rom coms and books about love.
The boy gets the girl and the girl gets her man.
No matter how many times I watch it, I l adore the end of Valentine’s Day where Calvin ends up with Kara, Reed gets with Julia. Kate manages to get home to see her little boy. The end of Love Actually just makes me happy full stop. The end of Enchanted when Giselle and Robert get their happily ever after. I just love it.
So, this got me thinking about my favourite couples. Who are they I hear you cry.
Elinor and Edward Ferrars and Marianne and Colonel Brandon – Sense and Sensibility.
These two couples are just fantastic. No one can do romance like Jane Austen. I know my favourite should be Darcy and Lizzie (they are amazing) but there is something about the couples in this novel/film that make me smile.
Elinor is the sensible one. She’s the sister that remains level-headed and serious. Edward I feel has more of a playful streak. They complement one another.
Marianne of course needed a little bit more time to fall in love with Colonel Brandon (OK, so Alan Rickman had a big hand in this character being one of my favourites. I mean come on, that voice. I still get sad when I remember that he’s gone.)
Marianne gets there in the end. He is stable, loyal and kind and he loves her. Yes, Willoughby seems more fun at first glance but you want the guy who’s going to ride through a rain storm to find you.
Rosie and Alex from Where Rainbows End are amongst one of my favourite couples of all time. I have mentioned this novel a few times on this blog. I don’t think I will ever stop loving it. It would be in my list for books on a desert island for sure.
I fell in love with their story pretty much from the moment I picked up this novel.
The Rosie and Alex in the film are great but I much prefer the Rosie and Alex from the page.
The novel spans from when they were children until they are in their fifties whereas the film only covers to thirties (I appreciate you can only get so much into a film.)
You get such a wide understanding of these characters from the book. I got to know them and care about them. They were like a set of friends that I wanted to match make and shout at for not getting on with it.
Rosie and Alex should be together if only they could be honest with one another. These characters are proof that it’s never too late to pursue love and right wrongs.
In the writing room today, I thought I would keep it simple.
Pick one prompt from each of the following and use them as inspiration for a short story with a maximum word count of 1,500 words.
A teenage boy
In a penthouse apartment
In a dentist waiting room
In a lift
On an island in the middle of the ocean.by
Once again, I have embarked on the Goodreads reading challenge for 2017. Last year, I managed to get to the target of forty books but it was seriously by the skin of my teeth. I finished the last page of my book about three minutes before Big Ben donged in the new year. I know how to rock my new year you know.
This year, I have increased my book target by.. wait for it., one. I didn’t want to go crazy with the target as you can see.
As I was setting my target, I ended up having a look through all the books I have read and logged since I joined in 2013. I’ve read over a hundred and seventy books. I know there are some I’ve not logged. One hundred and seventy. That, for me is an incredible number.
I then got to thinking about how many of them had been adapted into movies. The Girl on The Train for example. In a year where Hidden Figures will be coming to the big screen and adaptations of A Handmaid’s Tale (can’t wait,) and Anne of Green Gables are coming to streaming services, I thought I’d look through my list of ‘read’ books in my Goodreads list and share the ones I’d like to see adapted.
The first one on my list is one that I have mentioned recently and that is Before You Go by Clare Swatman. I love this novel so much. I absolutely adored this book. It was in my January favourites and even though it’s been days since I finished it I am still thinking about it. It has a Me Before You feel to it.
As I was reading, I could imagine the scenes in the book as a movie. I could see the settings so clearly. It would make a great adaptation. It would be one that made you cry though. For sure.
Zoe and Ed are two characters I loved very much and grew to care about. I am not sure who I would cast in the roles. No one seems right for me. I can cast my own stories but not always been good at casting other stores.
Zoe and Ed have been together for years. When Ed dies, Zoe is devastated but soon finds herself getting the chance to change her past and then hopefully, her future.
Kill Me Again by Rachel Abbott is a book I’d like to see adapted into a film. Actually, all of her novels would translate well. Although a film would be good, I can also see this as a TV show. I think it could be as good as Thorne: Sleepyhead.
Rachel’s novels are so moreish that I always manage to storm through them quite quickly. She is very good at the tension which is what you need for a good crime adaptation. I can hear the soundtrack music already.
Kill Me Again had me on the edge of my seat all the way through. Tom Douglas and Becky Robinson are worthy enough to fill the gap we have for a good detective duo (which is what I am going to need after Bones finishes.)
Maggie thinks she knows her husband. She comes home one evening and Duncan has disappeared. She also is not the only one looking for him. When a woman who looks like Maggie is murdered, DCI Tom Douglas is brought into investigate. If you’ve read it, who would you have in the main roles?by
A big welcome today to John Marrs and the blog tour for his novel, The One which was published as an eBook in January with the paperback following in May 2017.
How far would you go to find THE ONE?
One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…
Chris’s verdict on The One:
Imagine a world where all it takes to find your prefect partner is a simple DNA test. Should you follow the science and seek out that person, or follow convention and see where your heart leads you?
The book follows the stories of several individuals who are drawn together because they have received a notice from the DNA match website identifying their match. The characters are a strange group – Intellectuals, officials and even a serial killer.
I found that the book asks various questions; if you find your perfect match will you love them? If you fall in love with someone other than your match then will it, or can it, work out? And if you have met your perfect match will they love you despite your flaws?
The stories all occur simultaneously, following linear time though out the book, with individual chapters for each character which works wonderfully so as to draw you though the book as you always want to know what is going to happen to X or Y next.by
The Hit by Nadia Dalbuono was released on 9th February 2017 by Scribe UK.
The investigation of a hit-and-run in Rome leads Detective Leone Scamarcio on a deadly journey to confront his Mafia past.
When Leone Scamarcio is called to investigate an apparent hit-and-run, it seems like a job for a traffic officer, not one of Rome’s top detectives.
But when the victims are kidnapped on their way to the hospital, and Scamarcio discovers that they are the family of one of the country’s top television executives, the infamous Micky Proietti, things start to get interesting. Everyone, it seems ― from Premier League footballers to jilted starlets and even the Calabrian Mafia ― has an axe to grind with Proietti.
As Scamarcio delves into the underbelly of Italian show business, he discovers a possible connection between this investigation and his own Mafia father’s right-hand man. To solve the case he must travel home to Calabria, but can he finally banish the ghosts of the past?
My verdict on The Hit:
Detective Leone Scamarcio is back for his third novel in The Hit.
High flying TV executive Micky Proietti seems to be living the charmed life. He has a successful and lucrative career, a beautiful wife and a perfect son.
Then, when the three of them are in an accident, it is only due to the quick thinking of the driver that they are not all killed. Micky makes it to the hospital, his family doesn’t. They disappear. They’ve been kidnapped. Scamarcio is then in a race against time before this family is hurt further. His enquiries soon unearth secrets he didn’t expect and the investigation means he has to go back to his own past too.
This was my introduction to this series. I had not read the previous two novels. For the overall plot, this wasn’t an issue. You can pick this up and follow it. However, the only advantage in reading the first two before this one is that there are certain passages that elude to an incident in Scamarcio’s past so reading more in the series might give you more of an insight into that.by
Hello all. How is everyone’s week going? Can you believe we are already hurtling toward the middle of February? It’s incredible really.
I have been a little obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy, Gilmore Girls, Lucifer and reading loads this week. I always like to snuggle in and make my way through box sets when I am not working. It is so cold at the moment and I am not good with the cold at all to the point where the boy will make fun of me. I give as good as I get though.
Loads of TV time means lots of looking at Pinterest too. I can lose hours on that and You Tube.
I’ve been looking a lot at office spaces (I have been doing a little bit of planning as I have been looking at homes for my characters. Promise.) I am so nosey and love looking at other writer’s writing spaces.
I always think that having a lovely writing space is important. It’s also very personal. Some people like it to look minimal preferring not to have clutter. I always wonder how people manage this.by
A huge lovely welcome today to Helen Fields and the blog tour for her new novel, Perfect Remains (a DI Callanach thriller,) which was released by Avon on 26th January 2017.
On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.
In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…
Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.
It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.
Helen and Avon have kindly shared an extract from Perfect Remains. Enjoy!
Jayne Magee was about as unlikely a target as anyone could imagine. There was no suggestion that Elaine Buxton was a regular at any church at all, so religion wasn’t the link. The pathologist hadn’t been able to estimate Elaine’s time of death, meaning they had no established pattern to follow, only the knowledge that she’d been missing sixteen days before her body was found. This time, the abductor might keep Jayne alive for weeks or she could be dead already. The killer had become a male in Callanach’s mind. There was no evidence, nothing solid, only years of past cases and what was screamingly obvious. Maybe it was more than one person, he considered, but Ava was right about looking at personality first. He couldn’t see such an obsessive character working well as a team player.
Callanach met with Jayne Magee’s assistant, Ann Burt, that afternoon. She dropped a dripping umbrella into Callanach’s bin then removed and folded her headscarf before sitting down.
Callanach instinctively tidied his desk as she settled in. Stick thin, shrill and at the far end of her sixties, he guessed, Ann Burt told it like it was. She reminded him of his grandmother, distant though those memories were.
‘So I’m talking to the detective inspector, am I?’ she began. ‘You’re the third person I’ve repeated myself to today. Would you like to tell me what’s going on?’by
A blind date with a book is a great way to discover new books, authors and genres.
It is very easy to judge a book by its cover. I know I do it. The cover is the thing that initially catches our eye in the book shop. It can sometimes completely sell the book or make you walk by it without giving it a chance. Our competition is one with a twist. It’s your chance to win a blind date with a book.
I’m not going to reveal what the title of this month’s book is nor will I reveal the cover or the author. All I will reveal is that this is a story about a boy and a girl, looking to the future and trying to escape the past and then learning how to let go and live.
This month’s book really is a cracker.
How to enter…by