NK Chats To….

Our Author Interviews and Guest Posts.

NK Chats To… Holly Tierney-Bedford

Hi Holly, I am so pleased you’ve joined me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, I Will Follow Him?

My story is about Francie, a private detective hired to follow a groom-to-be and his groomsmen as they go on a cruise. It’s a romantic comedy about a singles’ cruise, so there are lots of laughs, surprises, and (naturally) love.

 

What have been the challenges of writing within the Oceanic Dreams book series?

No challenges! It’s been great!

 

Do you need to have read the other books to read yours?

No. Every book can be read as a standalone story.

 

What is your writing process like, from idea to first draft? (If you are happy to provide a photo as an example of any part of the process, then that would be fantastic.)

I just jump in and start writing. I’m a total pantser, meaning I fly by the seat of my pants. Every story has a “feeling” to it, a mood, of those particular characters, setting, etc. When I signed on to the Oceanic Dreams project, I loved the light, fun premise. Although I didn’t have a particular plot or character in my mind until I sat down to write and saw what showed up, the series had been on my mind, percolating, for months before I started and I’m sure that helped me.

 

Is character or plot more important?

Character. I’d read a book about a fascinating person cleaning their house. I would not want to read a book with a great plot but characters who are boring.

 

How important is it to pick character names and how do you pick yours?

Important. I often change my characters’ names (find and replace) several times before I get it right.

 

Which authors do you admire?

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NK Chats To… Sophie Tanner

Your book is called Reader, I Married Me (I love this title.) Can you tell me a little about it and what inspired it?

I wrote this book after going through a bad break up – being cheated on, lied to and rejected by the person I trusted the most. But, you know what, looking back I realise it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Romantic love is wonderful and all, but realising that I didn’t need ‘another half’ to make me happy or ‘complete’ me was an awesome revelation to have. So much so that I decided to take vows of self-commitment and marry myself in Brighton! I know it sounds bonkers but the idea was to start conversations and ask the question ‘why shouldn’t self-love be AS important as romantic love?!’ After all, your relationship with yourself deserves as much attention as any other – and the more you deal with your own crap the less other people have to, right?

So, my new novel is loosely based on my own experience of sologamy because it turns out that loving yourself so publicly is not easy – in fact, it got me a lot of haters. Which kind of highlights the complex attitude our culture has to self-love in the first place! The title slightly adulterates the words of literary heroine Jane Eyre 🙂

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

Discombobulate. I love this word because it sounds amazing in your mouth and describes the rather marvellous state of being tumbled from your comfort zone. It kind of reminds me of how Winnie the Pooh thinks.

 

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

Well, I’m still figuring that out actually. Writing the novel was such a great learning curve and I think the next book I write should be a lot more streamlined. Because there is a certain formula to plot and character development and I think if you can pin that down first then your writing becomes a lot less chaotic!

 

Where do you normally write and do you need coffee, silence, noise?

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A Moment With… Laura Bradford

Kensington Publishing (28 May 2019)

Laura Bradford is the author of A Daughter’s Truth and I am very happy to be welcoming her to the blog today.

Emma Lapp tries to be the perfect daughter, to earn the loving embrace of her family and her Amish community in Pennsylvania. Yet she can’t quite win her mother’s smile–or her forgiveness for a transgression Emma can’t quite place . . .
Emma knows she’s the source of her mother’s greatest sorrow, having been born on the same day Mamm lost her beloved sister. The one bright spot has been the odd trinkets anonymously left at her aunt’s grave each year on Emma’s birthday–gifts Emma secretly hides because they upset her parents. But the day she turns 22, a locket bears a surprise that sends her on an unexpected journey . . .

Searching for answers, Emma travels to the English world and finds a kinship as intriguing as it is forbidden. But is this newfound connection enough to leave behind the future she’d expected? The answers are as mysterious, and as devastating, as the truth that divides Emma from the only family, and the only life, she’s ever known . . .

 

Talking about the birth of a story, it’s over to you, Laura. 

With thirty-three published books under my belt to date, it’s not any wonder that readers are curious as to how I get my ideas. Do I keep a notebook by the bed? Do I pick the brains of my friends and family? Do I spend hours thinking about the next book?

The quick answers are no, no, and…no.

My ideas generally are born on a conversation I’ve overheard, the juiciest part of a 30-second radio newsbyte that piqued my interest, and/or, oftentimes, my own imagination.

A conversation, you ask? Sure. I think it was the sixth book in one of my earlier mystery series that came about after listening to someone talk about a co-worker with a penchant for pinching things off people’s desks. There was more to this woman’s story than just that, but that initial nugget was enough to send my thoughts racing. By the time I was back home that afternoon, one of my beloved series characters had an elderly mother with that same affliction…

A 30-second radio newsbyte? Absolutely. Think about it. When you’re listening to a favorite music station on the radio, the disc jockey likes to share quirky little news stories between songs. And it’s always the juiciest part, because they don’t have time to drone on for too long. So when I heard a story about a decades-old letter found during the renovation of a post office, my personal antennae shot straight up. What was in the letter? Who had sent it? What did/didn’t happen because it had never reached its intended destination? These were the kinds of answers the newsbyte didn’t give, but that was okay. Because, once again, the writer part of my brain filled in the answers all on its own. And, before long, I had the plot for what became my first ever romance novel.

Fun stuff, for sure.

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A Moment With… Julie Caplin

It’s finally the weekend. Julie Caplin joins me today with the blog tour for her novel, The Secret Cove in Croatia. 

Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a holiday romance that’s forever…

When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic sea will more than make up for it – especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them.

Sparks fly when they meet on board and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina.

But in a secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick discover they might have more in common than they realise…

 

Talking about the value of research, it’s over to you, Julie…

As I set my Romantic Escapes series in interesting, overseas locations, I’m often asked how I research my books.

These days with the internet at the tips of our fingers, it is so easy for authors to do their research from the comfort of their own homes and it is amazing what you can find out without ever having to leave home. However, as a writer, I’ve found that nothing quite beats proper first hand research thanks to those interesting little facts and insights that you pick up when you actually visit a place.

I’ve been to Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Germany many times and I feel I have a reasonable understanding of the cultures of those countries, however when it came to writing my first book in the Romantic Escape series, The Little Café in Copenhagen, I had never been to Scandinavia let alone Denmark, so it felt really important that I visited Copenhagen to get a feel for the country and it’s people.

And it was exactly the right decision, I felt much more confident to write about the city once I’d been there.

With book five in the series, I decided to set the story in the beautiful country of Croatia. This was inspired by my lovely work colleague, Gordana, who grew up in Croatia. In our quieter moments (not many in a school office admittedly) she would show us the most wonderful pictures of the islands, the sea and the beautiful little towns. When my editor gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to Croatia as the next setting, I immediately knew that I needed a research trip to Croatia and specifically the Dalmatian Islands.

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NK Chats To… Alex Brown

Thank you so much for joining me today, Alex. Can you tell me a little about A Postcard From Italy and what inspired it?

Thanks for inviting me. A Postcard From Italy is my eighth full length novel and it’s a love story that spans nearly ninety years. Connie is harbouring a secret at the onset of the Second World War and then we fast forward to today where Grace opens a storage unit containing a lifetime of treasured belongings.

She then sets out to unravel the secret in a quest to right the wrongs meted out to Connie all those years ago and maybe find love for herself when she travels to the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera.

 

What’s your writing process like (from idea to final draft) and how has it evolved since your first novel?

I’m not much of planner so I usually have an idea which I brainstorm with my editor before writing a synopsis which I then use as a rough guide to get me started. I write Monday to Friday and aim for at least a thousand words unless my deadline is looming and then I’ll write every day and into the night too for a week or two until the book is finished.

I start the day by editing the previous day’s words before writing on. My writing process hasn’t changed much since my first novel, although I procrastinate a lot less these days, I don’t have the time, and I always end the day by writing the outline for the following day … I like to know what’s happening next.

 

Which elements do you think are important for a successful novel?

There are so many variations but if you have a good story with a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter, so your reader feels compelled to read on, then you’re off to a good start. If you have wit and a sprinkle of wisdom too then even better.

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet?

Georgie Hart from my Carrington’s department store series. I love her so much and think we’d be the best of friends. It might sound daft but after writing four books she really does feel real to me and I miss her sometimes.

 

What other advice would you give to new writers like me?

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NK Chats To… Des Burkinshaw

Hi Des, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Dead and Talking and what inspired it?

It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for the invite. The novel is about a man who is forced to atone for the “sins” of his family by a sort of ghost – think It’s a Wonderful Life’s Clarence! – And he can only do that by righting some historical wrongs. He’s given the gift of being able to peer into the last moments of dead people’s lives if he’s near their remains. Which sort of helps. He’s a natural sceptic and thinks he’s going a bit mad but picks up some fellow travellers who help him. It quickly becomes an ensemble piece. Although set today, the first case he has to solve is of a private shot for desertion in WW1. He soon finds it is linked to his own family history.

It’s dark in places but is also funny because he and his helpers are all so reluctant to believe any of it is happening. There are some Ealing Comedy moments too. Tone-wise, it’s in the same ballpark as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Though, as I say, the dark moments are pretty dark.

It was inspired by a few actual events from WW1. After I started plotting it, I also had to make a film about the role of soldiers from the Empire who fought for the British. I spent some time in Ypres, at the In Flanders Fields Museum and at some locations not open to tourists. It all sort of fitted together. Actually, doesn’t this show how research doesn’t just adorn the plot, it can become the plot?

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?

I nearly always get up and go to a local coffee shop to get started for an hour or two on my laptop. I like to see the world go by before I hunker down behind the closed doors of my office. I write between 1-4 hours a day because I’m a filmmaker by trade and that takes up a lot of time. I wish I could spend more time writing.

 

How did your background in journalism help with writing your book?

Many ways. Not having a fear of the blank page helps a lot. Knowing how to plan, how to sub, how to edit. Knowing the importance of drafts and revisions. Welcoming constructive criticism and actually acting on it.

But it’s also in the people I’ve met. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with Normandy veterans and other soldiers. Also, my starting point has always been a journalistic one of trying to see both sides of an argument and so, though a natural sceptic myself, I’m able to suspend that disbelief while writing, simply by putting myself in the mind of someone who does believe. Sceptic or not, who doesn’t love the idea that there are ghosts?

 

What would your reaction be to a ghost? It would scare the hell out of me.

I’m a journalist. A sceptical journalist. But not a cynical one. I will never, ever believe there are ghosts until I see one myself though. I don’t care who else tells me. But if I did see one, I would use it as a basis to explore how I’d been wrong all this time. Sadly, I haven’t seen one – though I’ve seen quite a bit of death and spent a ridiculous amount of my life in cemeteries when I was younger. Always been a bit morbid.

I’d kill to see one. Even if I was afraid, I’d be delighted.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

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A Moment With… Sue Moorcroft & A Modern Literary Hero. 

The fantastic Sue Moorcroft has popped into Novel Kicks today. 

Now summer is here, I’m very pleased to announce that one of our favourite books of the summer, ‘A Summer to Remember’, by The Sunday Times Best Selling author Sue Moorcroft is available to read and to make things even better, it is now only 99p on eBook.

As a special treat, Sue as written the description below of what a hero is to her. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Over to you, Sue.

 

My hero!

What do I look for in a hero of one of my books? Decent but no pushover – in fact, a man with a bit of edge. He’s loyal to those who deserve it, probably a leader in his way, a man with admirable qualities including, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, good looks! He’ll invoke emotions in my heroine, whether that’s making her laugh, cry or steam with rage. And I like something a little less-usual about him, if possible.

Aaron de Silva’s a landscape gardener, creating or regenerating beautiful gardens in stately homes. He also hand-makes guitars. He’s one of the few people in Nelson’s Bar to be able to get satellite broadband and is constantly changing the password or finding half the village in his garden ‘borrowing’ his internet access. His own garden looks out directly over the cliffs to the sea far below and whether he’s sitting on the bench alone playing his guitar or hosting an outdoor party, his garden is Aaron’s happy place.

Aaron has lived all his life in the seaside village of Nelson’s Bar, Norfolk. His family are around him, including a lively younger cousin, Harry, who causes Aaron a few hair-raising moments, and his much-loved brother, Lee, who Aaron spends much of the book looking out for. Lee’s emotionally fragile after being jilted six years earlier and he returns to Nelson’s Bar to live just as heroine Clancy Moss comes to the village too. And it’s Clancy’s cousin Alice who jilted Lee. That Aaron was wildly attracted to Clancy at the wedding-that-never-was only feeds his emotional maelstrom when he’s constantly forced into her company.

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NK Chats To: Mandy Baggott

Hello Mandy. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your new book, One Last Greek Summer and what inspired it?

One Last Greek Summer is a perfect summer read set on the Greek island of Corfu. It’s the story of newly divorced thirty-something Beth Martin and her friend, Heidi, having one last holiday before they both re-evaluate the next stage of their lives. Except Heidi has picked the destination they both first visited when they were 21, and there just might be a few familiar faces waiting for them…

 

How has your writing process changed since writing your first novel?

*laughs* Seriously, it hasn’t changed that much! The only thing that has changed slightly is I now write two books every year as opposed to one when I first started out. I still initially come up with main characters and setting, the very bare bones of an idea, and then I literally start to write. I am not a plan it all and stick Post It notes around the room kind of writer, I just haven’t got that in me. I think if I knew the beginning, middle and end of each story I’d get bored writing it.

 

Where do you like to write? Do you have any writing rituals?

I have two main places I write. I have an office at home and I also visit my husband’s office at Numeric Accounting in Salisbury three days a week to give me that true ‘getting up and going to work’ feeling. It’s amazing how productive you can be surrounded by a team of accountants… As for writing rituals, I don’t really have any of those, just keep the coffee coming! Oh, and we always go to the pub at lunchtimes on a Friday! That surely counts, doesn’t it?

 

How important is it to pick the right names for your characters? 

This is SUPER important to me otherwise the characters don’t come alive or feel real to me. I remember one publisher (who shall remain nameless) at the very last moment, I think at the proofreading stage of things, wanted me to change the name and nationality of my hero. I was so shocked and I was absolutely not happy about it. I stuck to my guns and obviously I was right! It doesn’t usually take me long to come up with names but they do have to feel right for the characters.

 

What’s next for you?

I’m currently finishing writing Christmas! One Christmas Star comes out in e-book on 12 September and I am really excited about this book. It’s the story of schoolteacher, Emily and down-on-his-luck singer, Ray. It’s set in a festive London and involves a full-on school Christmas show – think Nativity meets A Star is Born – that’s how I pitched it to Aria Fiction.

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NK Chats to… Jenni Keer

Jenni Keer

Hi Jenni, it’s great to be welcoming you back to Novel Kicks.

Thank you so much for having me back. I can’t believe my second book is out already. I had a real thrill ride with The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker. The book had so many amazing reviews and I was delighted to get an Amazon bestseller flag. Let’s hope The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadowsis as enthusiastically received.

 

Which fictional character would you like to spend the day with? What would you do?

This is such a hard question. In fact, I left answering it until the end because there are so many characters I could have chosen. I considered people from historical novels where I would get the opportunity to spend some time in an exciting period of history – perhaps with a Regency lady or a certain Victorian cotton mill owner *wink*. I thought about characters with special powers, like Harry Potter and various superheroes (flying through the air with Superman would be a blast). I considered the simple rural idyll that would be spending a day with Anne Shirley at Green Gables, or Miss Marple in her beloved St Mary Mead. Perhaps I could pamper myself and spend the day with someone wealthy or influential, perhaps party with Jay Gatsby, or Holly Golightly? So many fabulous characters, so many choices…

In the end (wait for it…) it’s a toss up between Mr Daydream (who could give my imagination a boost and therefore some fabulous material for my novels) and Mr Impossible (so I can do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING) from the fabulous Mr Men. These were the very first books I read by myself and they have a special place in my heart. I’m sure I could have some up with something more intellectual but I’m embracing my inner child. Besides, I’m curious to see how they mange to drink a cup of tea with those stumpy little arms (Mr Tickle being the obvious exception).

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows?

This is quite an easy question because Theo, who works with Maisie at the auction house, has a particular penchant for the 1980s. Although he is an expert in modern design (i.e. post-war) that’s the decade that really interests him, and this is reflected in his music taste. He plays a lot of The Jam, The Police, The Clash (late Seventies/Eighties) so a soundtrack would have to include these bands. This contrasts with the flamboyant Johnny (Maisie’s boss) who has more classical tastes, so perhaps some Mozart and a sprinkling of Shostakovich (as it is mentioned in the book). And then, to keep the author happy, I’d have to throw in a few recent dance tracks – which is largely what I listen to when I write. So it would be quite an eclectic mix.

 

How did your writing process differ from your previous novel?

In many ways it was quite similar. I’m a pantser, not a plotter, so apart from the bare bones of the story and a definite idea of the ending, I do tend to launch myself in rather randomly, not even writing chronologically. However, for Maisie I had to produce a synopsis for the publisher before I began writing and this did help me focus my ideas a bit more. There was also a time pressure for Maisie, whereas Lucy was written before I had a publishing deal so I had longer to play about with it. However, deadlines are Good Things. They help you focus.

The only thing I really did differently was a mid-book plan. I always refer to my first draft as the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage – because in my head that’s what it feels like. After that, I need to pick all the jumbled spaghetti up and sort it out. Writing Maisie was the first time I’d produced a coherent plan but it was only at this post first-draft stage. I put all the scenes I’d written on Post-it notes and then planned the book – a bit backwards but it worked. My clever techie son set me up with two screens and I simply pulled across sections in order onto a blank document. I am at the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage with Book 3 now so shall employ this method again.

 

Which authors have inspired you?

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NK Chats To: Elizabeth Crocket

Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Full of Grace and what inspired it? 

In Full of Grace, Angela keeps a roof over her head, albeit a leaking one, by writing romance novels. But Angela’s never really believed in the traditional happily ever after ending. So, she begins writing the story of Grace, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer shortly after finding out her husband Rick is having an affair. Again.

As she writes the story to dispel the myth of happily ever after, Angela begins a relationship with Mark, the contractor who comes to fix her leaking roof, and ironically, it looks like she may be on the way to her own happy ending. But Angela’s had a difficult past and has a cynical outlook, while Mark’s life has just gotten messy. Angela wonders if this is all going to work out.

Grace lies in bed at night, wondering if what Rick wants to give her, and what he is capable of giving her, are two different things. She asks Rick to move out temporarily, while they try to assess their marriage. She wonders how she can get such comfort and security from a man who cheated on her.

My inspiration for this book came when I was daydreaming one day, thinking it would be fun to write a book about two women with different story-lines, and two different personalities. I started to think of the character Angela, and what she would write about next. I decided she should write about a character who has cancer, as I could draw on my vast experience, having lost my parents to cancer, and having had cancer myself. I wanted a story-line about cancer to sound authentic, because I’ve read some that didn’t ring true to me. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom, there is some romance, fun and humour as well!

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?  

When I’m working on a novel, or writing anything for that matter, I don’t have a typical writing day. I tend to live and breathe what I’m working on. I’ve been known to be sitting at my kitchen table at 3:00 in the morning, jotting down something I’ve thought of in the night.

 

What’s your favourite word and why? 

My favourite word. Hmm. This is where I’m wondering if I should be honest and say that it probably isn’t printable. (grin) But, I’ll choose a more suitable response and say that it’s each of my grandchildren’s names. That would be six words, though, so I’ll say “grandchildren”. Or “grace”, a quality I so admire. I really love words, we could be here all day!

 

Which authors have inspired you? 

So many authors have inspired me. I jump between reading fiction, non-fiction and poetry. So, I’ll choose someone in those three categories that I’ve read this year. Elizabeth Berg, Michelle Obama, and Billy Collins. What a dinner party that would be!

 

What are you currently working on? 

I have two books that should be released in the next year or so. Soon I will start edits on my third women’s fiction, The Smell of Roses. I also have my first children’s picture book, Happy Haiku, coming out within a year or so. And I am always working on some type of Japanese short form poetry, which is a great interest and love of mine.

 

What song best describes you? 

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NK Chats To… Jon Rance (Plus Book Review)

Hello Jon, welcome back to Novel Kicks. Congratulations on the new book Good Grief, which has been released today. What are you doing to celebrate?  

Firstly, thank you so much for having me! It’s always a pleasure. I don’t know about other authors, but I don’t do much to celebrate new books because I’m usually too anxious and worried about getting reviews and what people will think of it. I usually just have a meal with my family and a couple of drinks, and then it’s back to stressing about it! That’s the life of an author – 95% stress 5% enjoyment!

 

Can you tell me a little of what Good Grief is all about?

Good Grief is my eighth novel and it’s about two very different people trying to get over losing their partners. Holly Moon is twenty-seven and a year before the start of the book her husband died suddenly of a heart attack. Holly thought she had it all and suddenly her life is nothing like she had planned. Phil Turner is sixty and he’s been married to Bev for nearly forty years. She’s all he’s ever known. When she dies of cancer, he doesn’t know what life is about anymore. Holly and Phil meet at Good Grief counselling group and strike up an unlikely friendship. Together they help each other move on and find a purpose in life again. Good Grief is a love letter to the healing power of friendship. It might sound a bit sad, and it is in places, but ultimately it’s a feel-good, uplifting story.

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for Good Grief?

Haha that’s great. I actually made one on Spotify! Queen play an important role in the book and so definitely some Queen. I’d go for Another One Bites The Dust and I Want To Break Free. There’s the Snow Patrol song, What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get? Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, Your Song by Elton John, Nothing Lasts Forever by Echo & The Bunnymen, Hey Jude by The Beatles and One Day by Kodaline. You can find the playlist on Spotify. It’s called Good Grief Playlist. Enjoy!

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

Ooo that’s a tough one. I think my all-time favourite word is bivouac. I’ve never actually used it in a book, but one day!  The way it just sort of rolls off the tongue.

 

When you are beginning a new project, how much planning needs to be in place before you decide it’s enough to begin? Do you use software like Scrivener or a notebook?

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A Moment With… Lynne Shelby

A lovely huge welcome and hello to Lynne Shelby and the blog tour for her new novel, There She Goes. 

When aspiring actress Julie Farrell meets actor Zac Diaz, she is instantly attracted to him, but he shows no interest in her. Julie, who has yet to land her first professional acting role, can’t help wishing that her life was more like a musical, and that she could meet a handsome man who’d sweep her into his arms and tap-dance her along the street…

After early success on the stage, Zac has spent the last three years in Hollywood, but has failed to forge a film career. Now back in London, he is determined to re-establish himself as a theatre actor. Focused solely on his work, he has no time for distractions, and certainly no intention of getting entangled in a committed relationship…  

Auditioning for a new West End show, Julie and Zac act out a love scene, but will they ever share more than a stage kiss?

 

Lynne is chatting about her five favourite fictional characters today. Over to you. 

 

Reading a novel, I find that some characters simply leap off the page and hang around in my imagination long after I’ve read the last chapter of their story.  Not that they’d all be people you’d want to meet in real life, but here are five of my favourites:

 

Jane Eyre

In books, governesses are often prim and pitiful creatures but Jane Eyre, the heroine of Charlotte Bronte’s novel, is neither. Outwardly conventional, Jane is actually a rebel against the constraints society imposed on women of her time – her then-radical ideas about equality between the sexes, shocked many of the novel’s Victorian readers! The way Jane remains true to herself while overcoming hardship, and the fact she refuses to become the mistress of the man she loves, not because of her society’s morals, but because it would mean she would lose her own sense of her place in the world, make her one of the most memorable characters in English literature. I first read the book in school when I was a teenager, and have re-read it many times – I’m always delighted to renew my acquaintance with the subversive Jane.

 

Lou Clark

The charming heroine of JoJo Moyes ‘Me Before You,’ Lou describes herself as ‘an ordinary girl leading an ordinary life.’ She is actually a wonderfully quirky girl, cheerful and optimistic, who could do all sorts of things, but the small town where she’s always lived is stifling her potential. When she takes a job as a carer for quadriplegic Will Traynor, she shows that she is both kind and resourceful – someone you simply have to root for, and hope that her life will get better, the whole way through her story. I don’t want to say too much and give away the plot of the book, but Lou Clark is a character that makes you both laugh and cry.

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NK Chats To… Claire Wingfield

Hi Claire, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Saving Francesca Maier and what inspired it?

Saving Francesca Maier takes place over a summer in Berlin, when a family arrive to visit old friends in the city, disturbing secrets that have long lain dormant.

Having grown up in the UK, my first job as a young graduate was in Berlin and the book was inspired by those two transformative years in my life, during which I felt an exhilarating – and at times terrifying – sense of freedom. It seemed natural to put those intense emotions into the character of Francesca, an adolescent girl on the cusp of change when she’s brought to her father’s home country for the first time.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?

With two young children and a busy editorial business, my writing is often squeezed in at the edges of the day. I like to write before the rest of my family is awake but also find many of my ideas come when I’m not at my desk. Writing Saving Francesca Maier, quite a few plot ideas came to me whilst swimming and at least one of the scenes is inspired by a yoga pose!

 

What’s your favourite word and why? 

Change.

In writing and in life I am always reminding myself to appreciate that people can make quite incredible transformations. It’s those transformations that can provide a lift and new momentum to a narrative and a sense of hope in life. Some of us are too often told that people can’t change and that’s when we get stuck in our place in life and our emotions. Reading novels can remind us that other paths are possible, and part of my writing has been inspired by the personal transformations of people I’ve known – especially those that come after many years of one way of being. There’s an important shift in mindset for one of the characters in Saving Francesca Maier which needed a catalyst but also required incredible bravery to stick to, once my character glimpsed that change was possible.

 

Which books have inspired you? 

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NK Chats To: Liv Constantine

Welcome Back Lynne and Valerie. I am so happy to be chatting to you on publication day for The Last Time I Saw You. What are the challenges of co-writing a novel and how do you divide responsibilities from idea to final draft? How long does it take you to write a novel? 

We love writing together and feel the advantages far outweigh the challenges, however there are definitely aspects of co-authoring that present more difficulty than writing solo. Because we live in different states, one of the biggest of these is scheduling. We speak every morning to determine the day’s “assignment” and then FaceTime at the end of the day to discuss the work for the day, and so we need to be strict and precise about the time for these appointments. That means looking at our calendars and determining times that mesh with our respective schedules.

With everyday life commitments , sometimes finding a mutually workable time can be frustrating, and could hamper the flow of work. Then there is the challenge of resolving a disagreement regarding plot line or character. Fortunately, this is a fairly rare occurrence, and when we have disagreed, we’ve been able thus far to listen to each other’s reasoning with respect and an open mind. Hence the solutions have always been arrived at without rancor or resentment. Lastly, the job of editing can be challenging because it’s something that must be done together, page by page, line by line. This part of the job can easily keep us on FaceTime for six to eight continual hours at a time. So…pretty minor challenges given how much we enjoy working together.

We talk through an idea for two months or so before we write the first sentence, and so we have a general idea of where we want to go and what the twist will be. We also develop our characters together. We don’t have a detailed outline of the story, preferring to let it unfold more organically––to let the characters dictate the action as it were. We work equally on all aspects of the book, so even though we have two protagonists, we both write for each of them. The process has now evolved to the point where Lynne might start a scene and then send it to Valerie to finish or vice versa. There are times when the beginning of a sentence is written by one of us and the end by the other. And of course we edit each other’s work as well.

The Last Mrs. Parrish took us a year from start to final edits, however, The Last Time I Saw You took eighteen months. The book in progress has taken us four months, and we are now in final edits.

 

What’s your favourite word and why? 

Lynne – Gobemouche – it sounds just like what it is – extremely gullible. It’s a fun word to say and it reminds me of something my father would make up. He was a great kidder and loved to come up with crazy nicknames and words.

Valerie – mulligrubs. First of all because it sounds so delicious on the tongue and secondly because it so perfectly describes someone who is sullen and has the grumps.

 

Which song would each describe each of you? 

Lynne – Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder

Val –Time of my Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warens

 

What elements do you feel need to be present to make a believable, good suspense novel? 

Good character development, plausibility, tight pacing, and surprising but inevitable twists.

 

What book do you wished you’d written? 

ValPride and Prejudice

LynneMurder on the Orient Express

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NK Chats To: Elle Nash

Hi Elle, thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Animals Eat Each Other and what inspired the story?

Hi Laura, thanks so much for having me. Animals Eat Each Other is a book about a girl who falls into a relationship with a couple, right after graduating high school. The couple, Matt and Frances, find themselves enamored with her, so much so that Frances even renames her: Lilith. Things become complicated when the three of them become dishonest with each other about their true feelings, and Lilith must explore these new boundaries in the wake of her own nihilism about herself and how she gives and receive love, raising questions about her own self-worth.

The biggest inspiration for the story was just how I felt at the age of nineteen. I felt lost, had been burned in love by a couple different people through high school up until that point, and became very jaded. I wanted to write the sort of book about not just love but also about bisexuality that I would have wanted to read as a young woman, without tokenizing the ‘sexual awakening’ aspect of the coming of age story we’re all so used to.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?

My typical writing day is haphazard and on the fly. I am the mother of a young and vivacious toddler so I tend to write whenever I can get it in. In the morning before she wakes up, it’s 15 minutes here or there, during naps if I can, at night when everyone is asleep. I’ll even bring my laptop with me in my car if we’re running errands. If she naps before we get to our destination, I’ll sit in parking lots and type up notes and write then, too. I also write into my notes app on my phone a lot, and even dictate thoughts to myself to transcribe later. I feel a bit like I’m collaging most of the time.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

Very tough question. Probably the word “spell.” There’s a lot to it. I view the practice of writing as a form of magic— like manifesting, conjuring something from the ether. The very idea of “spelling” a word, like carving something down onto a piece of paper or an object (or the internet) is a form of making a spell, of manifesting. You can out people under a spell with your words, by transmitting the feeling of a thing through atmosphere and character and mood. It’s a pretty powerful thing to think about.

 

Which authors have inspired you?

So many! Elizabeth Ellen, author of Person/a; Juliet Escoria, whose book Juliet the Maniac was just released; Mary Gaitskill, who has a great number of short story collections. Tom Spanbauer and Chuck Palahniuk’s early work were very inspiring to me as a young aspiring writer, along with Octavia Butler, whose book “The Parable of the Sower” really changed my life.

 

What are you currently working on?

I just shoved aside a second novel manuscript for a bit so I could focus on some short stories. It’s been fun.

 

What songs would be in the playlist for this novel?

Oh, so many, but here is a shortened list:
“10 or a 2 Way” by Korn
“F*** the Pain Away” by Peaches
“Tourniquet” by Marilyn Manson
“I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” My Chemical Romance
“Screaming Infidelities” by Dashboard Confessional
“With Teeth” by NIN
“King of the Closet” by Blindside
“Blood Pig” by OTEP
“WOW” by Marilyn Manson

 

What is your writing process like from idea to final draft? How long does it take you to write a book?

My first book took three years to finish a first draft, and then another year to get it to a publishable, final draft. I had never written a novel before and I had zero planning put in it whatsoever. It just kind of started as a short story and I kept expanding and expanding until it was more of a novel. The current book I’ve been writing, I actually planned out a lot beforehand, and challenged myself to finish a first draft in twelve weeks, which I finished in eleven, then spent a couple of weeks revising. I’m currently letting it sit for a bit before I go back to do more revisions and see if there are other structural issues I need to take care of.

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Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

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