NK Chats To….
Our Author Interviews and Guest Posts.
Our Author Interviews and Guest Posts.
Hi Emily. Thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your novel, Bells and Bows on Mistletoe Row (I love this title) and what inspired it?
It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
I’m so pleased you love the title. The wonderful members of my Facebook group helped me choose it. There were three options and this was the most popular.
The idea of Bells and Bows came to me as I was staring at one of the churches I can see from my office. The bells were ringing because it was a Sunday morning. I love listening to church bells, so my mind was drifting as it so often does. Juliet Bell and Harrison Bow popped up in front of me and introduced themselves. I loved the fact that their names had a Christmas ring to them (excuse the pun) and because they both had siblings, Bells and Bows was born.
I firmly believe in love at first sight. I also believe a person can love another their whole life, even if they’re not actually together. I can tell you many true stories relating to both!
Anyway, because I adore Christmas, and because of their names, I decided to put all those things together and see where it went. Both main families in this book need to learn to discuss issues and to open up about their feelings.
They believe in ‘a stiff upper lip’ and tend not to talk to one another about anything meaningful. This Christmas, that’s all about to change.
One of the secondary characters is based on a dear friend of mine who is no longer with us, and he is the cause of a few misunderstandings in the novel.
From planning to edit, what’s your writing process like and how has it changed since the first book?
I don’t plan. I never have. I get an idea and I sit down and write whatever comes into my head, or whatever appears in front of me.
I often say that the story unfolds before my eyes and I simply type what I’m seeing. I write a very quick first draft and make notes about the characters, settings etc. along the way.
Then I leave it for a few days or so, do any research that’s necessary, and then write the second draft. I write as many drafts as it takes before I feel happy with the book. After that, it goes to my editor.
Any changes or suggestions she has, are discussed and if I need to rewrite anything, I do.
Which Christmas tradition is your favourite?
That’s a difficult question because I love them all. Preparing the Christmas cake and all having a stir of the mixture and making a wish is one I’ve loved all my life. Opening one present on Christmas Eve, is another.
Finding a Yule log, bringing it home and burning it is one I can’t do at the moment because I no longer have a real fire. I miss that.
I need to move home before next year. I want a real fire again. Buying about two hundred more Christmas cards than I’ll ever need – and then doing exactly the same every year. (I’ve got boxes and boxes of cards…but I’ve already bought more this year!) Hanging wreaths on the doors, front and back.
Putting up the Christmas decorations in November. Going to a carol concert. Christmas crackers. Making mulled wine and eggnog.
Not together in the same pot, obviously. Hohoho! Setting the Christmas pud alight. Baking mince pies. Playing Christmas songs from October onwards. Yes, honestly. Ask my friends. It drives them nuts.
Ooh nuts! Spending hours trying to crack a brazil nut open and nearly losing an eye, or breaking several ornaments in the process. That’s a tradition not to be missed! Sorry. You only wanted one thing, didn’t you?by
Hi Julie. Thank you so much for joining me today. Your new novel is called A Village Affair. Can you tell me about it and what inspired it?
Hi, and thank you so much for having me on your blog today. It’s much appreciated.
As writers, we’re always advised to write about what we know and “AVillage Affair”began its life under the guise of ‘Not in My backyard’ influenced, very much, by a real-life fight in my village where acres of fields and greenbelt land were in danger of having hundreds, if not thousands, of houses built upon them. As the main focus of the plot moved and centred upon the village school, the novel took on the handle “Little Acorns” and many of the school incidents are based on real happenings in the primary schools I have taught in over the years. Eventually Aria came up with the title “A Village Affair”which I love and which, I think, encompasses the different strands of the book.
What’s your writing process like (idea, research etc.) How do you approach editing?
At the start of a new idea/novel I sit at my desk with a brand-new exercise book. I like my novels to be very much character-based and so I come up with characters’ names, write what they look like and actually give them a family tree. This is important as I’m mainly writing about the characters in one town and one village and so I have to make sure they’re not too related to each other, especially if they’re going to end up together!! With “Holly Close Farm”,as nearly half of it is set during WW2, I did a huge amount of research about the WAAFs and Bomber Command. I really enjoyed this bit and it was quite hard work leaving the reading to actually write. I love editing. I must be the only writer who enjoys this bit. I love going back over what I’ve written, tweaking and adding and crossing out. In my early days as a writer I would write one chapter and then edit it to death the next day because I was so proud that I’d actually written another chapter. Now, with deadlines, I tend to just write and edit at the end. Editing means I’ve finished, which is always wonderful.
What’s your typical writing day like? Do you have a place to write? Cup of coffee? Write in silence?
I’m a lark: I’m much better writing at 6am than later in the day. I had the most beautiful writing room at one end of the house but my husband is now working from home and has commandeered it for his office. I’m in a cupboard – not literally, but it feels like it after the lovely office with views down the valley. I actually quite like my cupboard: it’s jampacked with books, piles of papers, computer and, usually, the dog. I write, plan for school if I’m teaching a couple of days and do some private tuition in there. It does tend to get a bit cosy. One day, I’ll have my office back!
I need silence, tons of coffee (morning) and Earl Grey tea (afternoon).
So, basically, if it’s a writing day, I’ll get up early, have a mug of hot water and lemon (my mum always did and I’ve done this for the past 30 years) answer emails, decide whether it’s a swim or a run, shower, have breakfast and read the paper about eleven and then really get stuck in. If I can write 2-3000 words a day I’m more than happy.
What’s the most challenging thing with writing a novel?
The start of any new novel. By the end of a novel I love my characters so much I can’t bear to leave them and start again. I feel very disloyal to my old friends and it takes a while to love the new ones.
How do you pick names for your characters?
Probably with names I wanted to call my own children but for which my husband didn’t share the same enthusiasm. So India, Clementine, Kit, Theadora and Fin were born! My daughter, Georgia, is really cross I didn’t stick to my guns and call her Theadora – shortened to Teddy – that Harriet names one of her twins.
In my “Work in Progress“(Book 7 and desperate for inspiration for an actual title) it’s been easy to come up with names because I have Patrick, the father – a bit of a lothario – who is a Cambridge educated Classics professor and gives all his four daughters names from Greek literature. I’ve ended up with Isolde, Pandora, Juno and Lexia.
What elements make up a good novel?
When I read, I want a thumping good story. I want to know what happens next. I want to want to go to bed read to know what’s going to happen. I do like humour in a novel. It doesn’t have to be overtly laugh out loud. I think Liane Moriarty and Kate Atkinson are both superb writers, not only at weaving good stories but at having the ability to include some quite subtle humour. I aspire to both these wonderful novelists!!by
A Way Back Home is the new novel from Alison Sherlock. Hello Alison, thank you so much for joining me today. Your new novel is called A Way Back Home. Can you tell me a little about it and what inspired it?
A Way Back Home is the third book in my Willow Tree Hall series, although they can each be read as standalone books. The story is about Will Harris, younger brother and ‘spare’ of the heir of Willow Tree Hall, his big brother Sam who was the hero in the first book, A House To Mend A Broken Heart. Will was great fun to write as I always pictured him as a playboy with a wickedly dry sense of humour but somewhat set apart from the rest of the family. Therefore it was only right that the heroine of the story would be a free-spirited woman called Skye who is the total opposite of Will!
What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere you like to write? Write in silence? Cup of coffee or tea?
I walk Harry, our daft golden retriever, first thing in the morning and then spend the next hour trying to wipe off the mud which he has inevitably brought home with him. Once he’s sleeping off his big walk and snoring happily, I can finally get to work for the rest of the day. I always write on my laptop at a desk with the music on to begin with. And always with a large mug of coffee to hand!
What’s your editing process like?
I do a little editing as I go along but mostly I like to get the whole story down first. A Way Back Home was written in just over 9 weeks, the quickest I’ve ever done. Hopefully that’s a good sign…!
If you found yourself with an airstream trailer and time, where would you go and why?
I love America but have never seen the middle of the country so it would definitely be next summer driving right across the southern states. Hopefully my husband would be driving as I’d be as hopeless towing a trailer as Skye is in the story!by
Amelia Mandeville joins me today. Her debut novel, Every Colour of You is released tomorrow by Sphere. Hi Amelia, thank you so much for joining me today. Your book is called Every Colour of You. Can you tell me a bit about it and what inspired the story?
Hello, thanks so much for having me!
My book follows the journey of Tristan, who is struggling with his mental health, and Zoe, who is the most positive person you’ll meet. It’s all about their friendship as very different people. I think my own personal struggles with mental health made me write this story. I also think it’s important for boys to be able to know that they can cry, they are allowed to not be okay, and talk about it.
What is your writing process like from research and plot development to editing?
It’s different for each book. This one, I spent a little bit of time planning, writing down certain lines I really wanted Zoe or Tristan to say, their characteristics. Then when I had the ending set in stone, I started writing. The editing was thorough, we did a lot of drafts before it got to my final draft, and I felt it just got better and better. My book would not be how it is, without Abby and Manpreet who edited.
Do you have any rituals when writing – a certain place to write, coffee, music, silence?
Music. I always have to listen to music. I think of my most chapters to myself when I’m driving on my own, listening to a song. There’s something about music. It really just gets me in my zone. Specifically sad, emotional, music.
Which author/book has most influenced you?
I think I always found Veronica Roth so successful, writing at such a young age. And obviously JK Rowling. Despite all those rejections, but her true talent eventually was recognized. I tried to remind myself that whenever I got rejections (I got a lot). I’m not saying I will ever be on the level of JK Rowling, but if she gave up, we would never have Harry Potter.
What is the best part of writing and what did you find the most challenging?
The best part is creating characters that you feel so much emotion and love with, its lovely. The hard part is the self-criticism, and comparison. Also when you hitting a writing block. I really do doubt my writing abilities when I’m in that state of mind. But once you’re out it’s back into doing what you love again.
Are you working on a new book? Are you able to tell me a bit about it?
I am! I’m keeping it secret. But I’m 20 thousand words in, and it will focus on duel narratives again. But it’s a very different story, with a very different situation.by
I am pleased to say hi to author, Sandra Danby. As well as sharing an extract with me today, she is also talking about her latest novel, Connectedness and the origin of her story.
To the outside world, artist Justine Tree has it all but she always has a secret that threatens to destroy everything.
Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.
Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?
This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.
Thanks for joining me today, Sandra. Over to you…
When I was writing Connectedness, second in my ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption mysteries, I didn’t realise how much I was writing about food. Then a blogger friend who reviewed the book sent me an email saying I had presented her with a difficult biscuit dilemma.
While biscuits are something that remind Justine Tree of her childhood in Yorkshire, coffee is about romance in Spain. When she arrives as an art student in Málaga, Justine struggles to order a decent cup of coffee.
Then she meets Spanish student Federico who appreciates her difficulty and tries to help. I wrote this scene early in the genesis of the book and recreated it in our local bar in Spain, much to the bemusement of the waiter. I ordered six cups of coffee and tasted each in turn. The result was that I realised I liked café con leche, and my husband chose sombra. This is the coffee scene where Justine meets Federico for the first time.
****** start of extract*****
‘No quieres café?’ He looked at her as if she had asked for champagne.
Quickly Justine explained the difficulty she had ordering coffee, and then waited as Federico and the waiter exchanged a rapid dialogue interspersed with lots ofsí’sand no’s and much gesturing.
Finally Federico nodded. ‘Sí, vale.’
The waiter soon returned carrying a tray with six cups on it. Nodding first at Federico then at Justine, he retreated to the restaurant door beneath the shade cast by a large eucalyptus tree and watched.by
Forgetting Ophelia is the new novel from Julie C. Gardner (released today by Velvet Morning Press.) She’s joined me today to talk about her life in books. Over to you, Julie.
I owe my obsession with reading, at least in part, to my sister Nancy. More specifically to her tonsils. I was seven and my sister was six the year my family drove from California to Texas to spend Christmas with our cousins. On the way, Nancy broke out in yet another of her fevers, her throat swelling up, her tonsils the size of tennis balls. It was a truly miserable situation.
Why? Because Nancy, who was my only playmate on this road trip, was suddenly quarantined. No more alphabet games in the backseat of our car. No songs or hand-slapping routines.
On a pit stop at my Aunt Elaine’s house in Arizona, my aunt took pity on me and my loneliness, whisking me away to a local bookstore where she bought me The Secret of the Old Clock.
I curled up with my new mystery, gobbling the adventures of this titian blonde named…Nancy.
The love was instantaneous. I wanted to be a titian blonde. I wanted to BE Nancy Drew.
I read every book of hers I could get my hands on. Then the Trixie Belden series. Harriet the Spy. A Wrinkle in Time. Island of the Blue Dolphins. By the time I was ten, I decided to be Judy Blume, not merely devour all her books.
When I was in fifth grade, my parents took me to a bank where they were handing out free copies of James A. Michener’s Hawaii. The book was roughly the size of a toaster. As I announced my plan to read all 1,000 pages of this sprawling saga, my parents chuckled. “Go ahead!” (Of particular interest were the sexy scenes, since I’d recently watched my school’s puberty films.)
By then my sister had had her tonsils removed, and I’d moved on to Little Women, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities. A bevy of classics littered my nightstand and saved me from being completely boy-crazy. (Rest assured, I was still plenty boy-crazy. Just ask Nancy and my parents.)by
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin has been released today in paperback and I am so pleased to welcome her back to Novel Kicks. Thank you for joining me today, Rhiannon. What’s your writing day/space like?
The short answer is: never the same. I’m a stay at home mum of three, so I always have to squeeze in time and space for writing between a million other things. I used to think that I needed to create this perfect scenario to get some writing done, hours of uninterrupted time and no distractions. But I’ve found that I actually need a lot of movement while I write. I can’t sit in one place for too long and I have to allow my mind to wander. So, it’s not unusual for me to have multiple writing “windows” throughout the day and each in a different location around the house.
What advice about writing would you give to your younger self?
To start sooner! My whole life, people have suggested that I try my hand at writing, but I never thought that would be something I could do or be good at until I sat down to write Only Child. And then I fell in love with writing so quickly. It’s become such an essential part of my life, basically from one day to the next, and it sometimes feels like wasted time that I spent almost 40 years not writing. But maybe I had to be in the right place in my life to be receptive. And maybe it took the right story to get me hooked.
What elements are needed for a good novel?
A good novel to me is one that makes me miss it when I’m not with it. I have to want to carry it around with me even if I know I won’t have time to read it. And I have to think about it long after I’ve finished it. It’s hard to say which elements in a novel have that effect on me. A different voice certainly, one that I haven’t heard before, or a perspective I haven’t considered before. The characters have to be real and imperfect; they have to be people I’d like to meet in real life. I like to walk away from a story having learned something. And if the story made me laugh—or cry!— bonus points.
About Only Child:
We went to school that Tuesday like normal.
Not all of us came home . . .by
Hi Shari, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your new novel, Because Mummy Said So and what inspired it?
Delighted to be here! Because Mummy Said So is a collection of columns and features I’ve written about the mayhem, chaos and hilarious bits of family life and imperfect parenting. It’s packed with embarrassing moments, mortifying disasters, amusing antics and there are a couple of tear jerking stories too. Don’t mention my oldest leaving home at 16 last year – it still makes me weep pathetically. Hopefully everyone from expectant and new mums to empty nesters will find something in there that makes them laugh or brings up a favourite memory of their own.
What is your writing process like from concept to editing?
This book was a little different from my usual novels, as it involved searching back though 15 years of writing about raising children and selecting all the stories I thought people would enjoy most. It was like reliving the big motherhood moments all over again and I loved every minute of it.
What’s the best thing about being an author and writing a book? What’s the most challenging?
The best thing is undoubtedly the moment it gets released. I’ve written 22 novels now and I still get every bit as excited as I did when my first book hit the shelves. The most challenging is the actual writing! My process tends to go along the lines of panic, type, eat a biscuit, panic, type, eat a biscuit, panic, type… until I finally write “The End”.
What’s your favourite word and why?
Most of them are rude, so I’ll stick with “mum”– because cheesy as it sounds (sorry!) it’s my very favourite thing to be. Continue readingby
Hello and welcome to author Lynne Shelby, whose latest novel is called The One That I Want. She joins me today to talk about her writing process, from idea to editing. Over to you, Lynne.
An idea for a novel usually comes to me when I’m least expecting it. A sepia photo in an old family album, an overheard conversation on a train, a visit to a museum, have all inspired a story. Once I have that initial idea, I find that sooner or later my main characters appear in my head, demanding that their story be told. I only know the beginning and ending of my novel at this stage, so I make a few notes or at most a rough outline and then sit down at my laptop and start typing, introducing my hero to my heroine and seeing what happens – hopefully sparks will fly! There seems to be a moment when the main characters take over the plot, while minor characters have a habit of insisting on their own sub-plot – or even their own novel!
On a typical writing day, I aim to be at my desk in my writing room by 9.30. Before I begin writing, I read back over everything I wrote the day before to get back into the world of my story, and then, ideally, I write for about three hours, or maybe more, usually producing between 800 to 1,000 words – a couple of hundred of which will probably get deleted in the next draft!
In many ways, my actual writing process hasn’t changed a great deal since I started writing – it’s been more a case of my discovering which ‘tools of the trade’ work best for me as I write. When I was about three-quarters of the way through writing the book that was to become my first published novel, I went back and read it through from the beginning, making brief notes about the plot so far and a rough timescale over which the action was taking place. By then I had a clearer idea of where the story was going, and it was at that stage that I planned future chapters to make sure that the plot and sub-plots were tied up before the end of the book. When I wrote my second novel, The One That I Want, which was published in July 2018, I did much the same, except when I came to read through the manuscript, I decided to make a chart for each chapter with more notes about the events of the plot and each stage of my characters’ emotional journeys, and a detailed timeline. I found this made keeping the plot on track much easier when I came to the next draft, and I now do the same for each book I write.
The other way my writing process has evolved is that I edited my first novel as I wrote it, and also wrote the story in the order it would appear on the page. With my second novel, I edited far less while I was writing the first draft, and when I came to a scene that wasn’t working, I made bullet points for the main events that needed to happen, and went on to the next chapter – which meant I could see where the story was going far sooner.by
A lovely big welcome to Rachael Brown today. Thank you for chatting to me. Your book is called Trace: who killed Maria James? Can you tell me a little about it and what inspired the novel?
The novel Trace; who killed Maria James? is the story behind my now two-and-a-half year investigation into a 1980 murder cold case. Maria James was stabbed to death at the back of her Melbourne bookshop, the very day she was set to confront her parish priest about the sexual abuse of her younger son, Adam. I learned a witness had seen this priest covered in blood on the day of her murder, and had given a statement to police, but nothing ever came of it. And then I learned exhibits and documents are missing.
So my deep-dive into Maria’s case was born out of two questions; Was the Catholic Church involved in her death? Has Victoria Police – either unwittingly or deliberately – been involved in its cover-up? I reported my investigation through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s first true-crime podcast, Trace.
While I was convinced my investigation would be betterfirstserved as a podcast series – because its interactivity could help solve the case – the constraints of this medium left much unsaid. So Scribe’s book details the anatomy of my meticulous investigation. Through the dead-ends and discoveries, the tears and the triumphs, I show readers the gritty toll on all those caught up in, and consumed by, this case. And remarkably, despite the darkness, or maybe because of it, this book also says a lot about hope, and humanity’s warmth.
What’s your writing process like? Which part was the easiest, hardest and challenging to write?
I found the process excruciating, both because of the dark material and structural challenges. I fortunately had already completed a lot of the research and transcripts (for the podcast), so much of the heavy lifting was done in 2016. But how to fashion this monster of an investigation into a compelling and clear narrative for readers? I decided to leapfrog between timelines – between detective Ron Iddles’ investigation in 1980, and mine in 2016/17 – planting seeds in each timeline that would be fleshed out in the other. This was the best way to help this 38-year-old case career along, and to highlight its strengths and flaws.
I was a post-it fiend. Blue for Ron’s investigation, and pink for mine. When I looked at my initial structure, the pink was too dense in the middle. This section was a weighty series of accounts of sexual abuse, which I worried might be too depressing for readers. But these accounts needed to be in the book, to bare witness to history. So I introduced green post-it notes, representing the podcast episodes and subsequent audience engagement. This was a great way to bring some light into the darkness, and also, to allow readers a glimpse into the mechanics of the podcast medium.
These sections are also testament to my skilled production team, including Jesse Cox, the podcast’s series producer, who passed away in December. Jesse wanted to change the world, and he did, in helping bring people’s creative dreams to life, so these green post-its allowed such personal tributes to be interwoven. Also, I’m told Traceis the first Australian podcast to be turned into a book, of which I’m also incredibly proud.
I am so happy to be welcoming Laura Briggs to the blog today. Hello. Thank you so much for joining me. Your book is called A Wedding in Cornwall. Can you tell me about it and what inspired it?
Hi Laura! Thanks so much for letting me share with your readers about my series of books. This all begin in 2016 when I penned the romance novella A Wedding in Cornwall about an American event planner who finds a new life—and true love—when she moves across the Pond to work at a beautiful Cornish manor house. Readers were so enthusiastic for my heroine Julianne’s adventures in Cornwall that the series ended up continuing for a total of twelve books! Now, as the series celebrates its second year anniversary, readers can buy novellas 7-12 in one special book bundle.
What are the challenges and best bits about being a writer?
Hmm…the challenges for me would be getting the words I type to match the idea in my mind. When I first think of a plot for a book it’s kind of like seeing a movie trailer—all the highlights are easy to picture in that moment. But then, when I get into the finer details and the actual writing it can be hard to find the idea’s full potential sometimes. So that’s definitely a big challenge in my writing. As for the best bits? Connecting with book bloggers and fellow authors and hearing that readers enjoy my work!
What’s your step by step process when planning a novel?
I almost always make an outline. It can be detailed with scene by scene descriptions or it can be as simple as just a list of events that need to happen in the story. But I hardly ever just wing it—I need to have at least a rough idea where I’m going!
What elements do you feel need to be there to make a good novel?
Engaging characters are pretty important to me as a reader. Even if they aren’t the most likeable or sympathetic type, I do need to find them interesting!
What’s your approach to editing?
I usually try to put aside the finished manuscript for a few days. Then, I try to look at it from a reader’s point of view. It’s not easy to see your own work objectively, of course, but it does help to find initial problems with the story.by
I am pleased to be kicking off the blog tour for You Let Me In and I am pleased to welcome its author Lucy Clarke to Novel Kicks today. Hello Lucy. Can you tell me about your new novel, You Let Me In and what inspired it?
The novel is about a bestselling author, Elle, who rents out her beautiful cliff-top home in Cornwall. When she returns, she immediately senses a shift in the atmosphere: a shard of broken glass embedded in the carpet; her writing room left unlocked; the word LIAR scratched into her desk. As Elle’s unease mounts, she begins to wonder exactly who has been in her home . . . and what they’ve discovered.
The idea for the novel came when I was in my own writing room, daydreaming about travelling. My husband and I had been chatting about the possibility of renting our house to fund a longer trip. From the corner of my eye, I noticed the ancient oak trunk that houses all my diaries, journals, photos, notebooks, and old love-letters. I began to wonder what I’d do with it if the house were rented to strangers. There is no lock on the trunk, and it’s so heavy that it’d be almost impossible to heave it through the hatch to our loft. I realised I’d just have to leave it where it was – sitting in the corner of my writing room. But what if, chimed my writer’s voice, someone went through the trunk? What then? That was my starting point for YOU LET ME IN.
What’s your approach to the writing process like and how has it changed since your first novel?
I always write my first draft by hand – I love the connectivity of ideas to page. I typically write several drafts, layering as I go. I might focus on a particular theme in one draft, or the pace in another, and it’s a way of helping me dive deeper to create more complex characters and plot lines.
YOU LET ME IN is my fifth novel and I suppose one of the key ways my writing process has changed is that I don’t tend to plot out the second half of my novels. I think I have the confidence to know it’s okay to be led by my characters and to allow myself to be surprised.
What’s your typical writing day like? Do you prefer to write in silence? Need coffee etc.
I write Monday-Friday, 7.30am-12.30pm. During those five hours, I turn off the internet and my phone. I can write anywhere – at my desk, in a café, on a train – but my favourite place to write is from our beach hut, which is where I spend most of the summer. In the afternoons, I’m back to being ‘mama’ to my two young children.
What’s your favourite word and why?
I’ve never thought about this . . . but I’m going to say, SHERBERT. Now there’s a word that fizzes on the tongue!by
A big Novel Kicks welcome today to Dean Mayes. His novel, The Artisan Heart is due to be released by Central Avenue Publishing on 1st September.
“Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant pediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organised by Bernadette.
When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.
A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, Genevieve, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.
As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.”
Dean is himself an Intensive Care nurse and he is with us today to talk about how he portrays Medicine in fiction.
It is often said that, as a writer, our best writing comes from what we know. I’ve tried to buck that trend over the course of my published works, but there’s an inevitable truth I’ve come to accept – that maxim definitely holds true.
Having been an Nurse for over two decades now – with most of my career focused in Intensive Care – both Adult, pediatric and Neonates – along with Accident & Emergency – I’ve seen things and gained experiences as a clinician that translate well into the realm of gritty fiction. There’s compelling character moments to be found and situations that offer high drama. At the same time, I have to be mindful that I’m writing for a general audience who may not be well versed in the minutiae of medicine. There’s definitely a high wire act to master in writing engaging scenes.
My soon to be released novel “The Artisan Heart” is probably the most comprehensive example of me using my career experience to craft characters and situations.
In the story, we are introduced to Hayden Luschcombe, a brilliant pediatric emergency doctor who has an uncanny ability in diagnosing his patients quickly, efficiently and accurately. He has saved many lives as a result and, as a clinician, he is held in high regard – even if, as a person, he is seen as socially awkward and “on the spectrum” as some colleagues point out in their interactions with him. In one scene, early in the novel, Hayden’s acute sense of observation proves to be life saving for a new-born baby who presents with a stricture of the intestine. In another powerful moment, further on, Hayden correctly suspects a child has been deliberately scalded in boiling water by her parents. During the scene there is a highly charged confrontation between the child’s step father and Hayden that serves to illustrate the variation in presentations to the department and the dramatic circumstances that can spill off from those presentations.
While I won’t blow my own trumpet here and compare myself to Hayden Luschcombe, I did I craft Hayden as an amalgam of my own clinical experiences, working in a busy, inner city children’s emergency department. There are probably two or three other doctors in Hayden, medicos who I’ve worked alongside and watched over the past 10 years. The two examples I cited above are based on real clincial presentations, the latter of which was indeed as emotionally charged as it appears in the novel.by
I am happy to be welcoming Chloe Seager to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her new novel, Friendship Fails of Emma Nash.
Emma Nash is back….and determined to work out the world of friendships and relationships once and for all (…ish).
Now she’s in the sixth form, Emma’s expecting life to be a breeze but when her best friend Steph suddenly has a boyfriend who she’s spending more time with Emma’s not sure what to do with herself.
So Emma’s got a mission in mind: making new friends. Signing up for the school fashion show seems like the perfect opportunity. Although soon, through a series of mishaps that are absolutely not Emma’s fault (well, sort of), her world is teetering on the edge of disaster again.
Would going back to creating a life for herself online reaaaaaallllyyy be so bad?
I have reviewed the book below but first, something a little different.
In the novel, the protagonist Emma tries to make new friends after feeling a little left out of her current friendship circle.
Chloe has suggested that I write about which fictional character I would like to meet.
This question is one I love to ask authors. I find it a fascinating one to ask and no two answers are the same.
The problem is, when I sat down to think about which character I would like to meet, picking one was a lot harder than I thought it would be (sorry to all authors to which I have asked this question.)
All the wonderful books I have read since my childhood, how can I pick just one? When I read, all the characters become as real to me as someone sat next to me.
So… I didn’t. I cheated and picked five, (I know, greedy right.)
When I made up my list of five, I started to think of all the different personalities. I imagined us all around the table. Of course, we may disagree but we would all be having a lovely time.
The first fictional character on my list is probably Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I would maybe sneak Darcy in too. They come as a package deal right?
I would be so excited to be able to have a conversation with the popular Bennett sister. I’d want to know her true feelings about Mr Collins and Lady Catherine and about her life at Pemberley.
Lizzie is such a strong, opinionated and outspoken character, I’d be so interested to know what she’d make of the global political climate, social media etc. What would she make of today’s society? Would she embrace it or find it ‘somewhat savage?’by
I’m pleased to be welcoming Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus to the blog today and the blog tour for their new book, The Book Ninja. Hello to you both. Thank you so much for joining me today. Your book is called The Book Ninja (I love the title.) Can you tell me about it and what inspired it?
The Book Ninja is a quirky, romantic, comedic love letter to friendship, soulmates and books! The protagonist of the story, Frankie, is desperate to shake things up – she is frustrated in life and in love.
An author, with a serious case of writer’s block and post-horrifically-bad-reviews blues, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment. Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams. Her journey leads her to stumble across some very wacky dates, some astonishing discoveries, some great literature and, overall, leads her to find herself.
The story is inspired by our community initiative, Books on the Rail, which we co-founded in April 2016 after Ali lived in London and became friends with the co-founder of Books on the Underground, Hollie Fraser. As part of this project, we set books loose on public transport around Australia for people to find, read and then return for somebody else to enjoy. Thanks to our growing team of some 1000 Book Ninjas, who place their own books on their local trains, trams and buses, with a Books on the Rail sticker attached to it, we have over 5000 books traveling around Australia.
What’s your step by step process when planning a novel? How do you separate the workload and what are the challenges of co-writing a novel?
At first we started writing side by side, piano style. Then we realised how difficult that was! We discovered that the best way to write was to, in the words of one of our favourite authors, Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project), become plotters, not pantsers (writing by the seat of ones pants). Before we started writing anything, we came together for huge plotting sessions, during which we would map everything that would take place in each chapter down to a tee. Then, we simply divided the chapters up between us and wrote one each. We passed the chapters back and forth between us to edit and put our writing style into each chapter. We’ve written so closely together that now our tone is basically a blend of the both of us! So much so, when reading back over the book, we often find it difficult to pinpoint who wrote what!
One of the biggest challenges of co-writing? Well, Ali always used to be a pantser (writing by the seat of her pants). She let the characters lead the story and the plot line, and she discovered what would happen as she went. With two people – it’s a bit tricky to do that. So her writing style has definitely changed quite a lot, from being a pantser to a plotter. We also had slightly different tones when we started writing (Ali is more dialogue heavy, Michelle more descriptive)! But now we’ve found a happy medium and we absolutely love writing this way.
What’s your approach to editing?
Do it. And do it often! Being co-authors, we’re lucky, because whatever we write, it always gets edited by the other person. This means we’re constantly in editing mode. When Ali writes something, Mich will edit it, and visa versa. The problem is, we can’t stop editing – we constantly think we can keep making our work better and better, which makes it hard to let go and finally submit our manuscript!
What is your favourite word and why?
Mellifluous – because it literally means a pleasant sounding word, which is what it is! We love the sound of it.by