NK Chats To….

Our Author Interviews and Guest Posts.

Blog Tour: Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager

HQ, August 2018

HQ, August 2018

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.)

Jennifer Ehle, Pride and Prejudice, BBC. 1995.

Jennifer Ehle, Pride and Prejudice, BBC. 1995.

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?’

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NK Chats To: Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

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? 

Ali-Berg

Ali Berg

Michelle-Kalus-Books-On-The-Rail

Michelle Kalus

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.

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NK Chats To… David Joland

DavidJolandHello David. Thank you so much for joining me. Your novel is called The Biggest Idea in the World. Can you tell me a little about it and what inspired the idea?

After I sold my business a decade ago, I started investing in other businesses. I met a range of colourful characters, signed an armload of NDAs (Non-disclosure Agreements) and heard a great deal of ridiculous ideas ranging from social networking for Cell mates through to a Phone App for people with no phone.

I decided to take some time out and do something I really enjoyed. After eliminating everything that was immoral or illegal, I was left with writing. I decided to use caricatures of some of those I had come across.

 

What is your writing day like? How do you balance writing with your job?

I’m what’s commonly referred to as a Business Angel, which is someone that invests in businesses when no one else will (at least that’s how it appears to me). It’s not a full-time job so most of my week is revolved around monitoring the investments I have, attending board meetings and listening to excuses of why no one’s achieved what they set out to. Until I made the decision to write, I would have also spent time looking for new ideas and opportunities.

Once I started writing, I was totally consumed by it, finishing the book in just 9 weeks.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

That would have to be ‘squelch’ which I managed to incorporate in my book “…not only am I sweating profusely by the time I get there, but I’m faintly aware of a squelching sound as I walk.”

I love the image it conjures up.

 

Which fictional world would you like to visit for a day and why?

If I had a pound for each time I’m asked that….
It would have to be a city made out of lego. I’d love to wonder round the little streets, climb into shiny cars… and I’m ever so slightly attracted to yellow people.

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A Moment With… Rufus Purdy

tove

Puffin, August 1973

Rufus Purdy has joined me today and I am happy to welcome him to Novel Kicks.

Rufus is the founder of the Write Here… writing school, which offers high-quality, affordable creative writing courses in cities throughout the UK. Here, he shares the five books that have shaped his life.

Over to you, Rufus…

Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Jansson

I suppose my parents must have introduced me to the Moomins – but by the time I was seven, I was reading Finnish author Tove Jansson’s tales of these hippo-like trolls and their dark and unsettling adventures all by myself.

What gripped me then was a cast of brilliantly drawn characters, from the resourceful yet self-conscious Moomintroll to the boy-tramp Snufkin, who drifts in and out of the stories with the seasons, and the beautiful language Jansson uses to evoke Moomin Valley – for which read rural Scandinavia. But, for me as a child, what set the Moomins apart was the unapologetic strangeness that runs throughout all the stories, and just how fine is the line between happiness and sadness.

In Finn Family Moomintroll, the first novel in the series, a genuinely scary, creeping sense of menace is offset by the closeness of the Moomin family unit and a reassuring feeling that nothing can go too badly wrong so long as family and friends stick together.

Utterly unlike any other children’s books I’d read at that time, the Moomin novels (first published in the 1940s) will never date – as they’ll always exist outside everyone’s experience.

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle

houndofthebask

Penguin classics UK Ed. Dec 2012

I was introduced to Sherlock Holmes at seven years old by a 1982 BBC adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, and within one episode I was hooked on its potent mix of mystery and the supernatural.

Of course, when I read the book a couple of years later, I found there was no room for anything but the application of pure reason in Holmes’s world and I was amazed by how all the spookiness of the previous 200 or so pages was convincingly explained away by the end.

So this short novel hooked me on the idea that no matter how otherworldly a set-up, an author can always come up with a rational explanation. I was spoilt. It’s a trope often copied by other writers (and in most episodes of Scooby Doo), but rarely matched.

I remain a huge fan of ghost stories, but have accepted the joy of reading them usually comes from the creepy atmosphere the author creates as they build towards an inevitably disappointing conclusion.

And though I’ve spent my life eagerly pouncing on any book that promises similar ingredients to The Hound of the Baskervilles, I’ve yet to read anything as perfect – and as fun.

 

Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

wutheringheights

Scholastic ed. July 2014

Emily Brontë’s novel fitted the 17-year-old me every bit as well as the yak-hair jacket and indie-band T-shirts I spent my late teenage years in. It was our A-Level English set text, so my friends and I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading it (and listening to the Kate Bush song), but the novel became far more than just a passage to a good grade.

We grew up in Sheffield on the edge of Pennines, and drank our first cider-cans looking out onto the moors of the Peak District, so Wuthering Heights seemed to be written for us. It was, after all, about people in floaty dresses or long coats falling passionately in love and being driven to acts of violence, all while striding through heather with brooding looks on their faces. And in our most pretentious moments – and at this time there were many – we imagined ourselves as Heathcliff or Cathy as we smoked Silk Cuts perched on drystone walls and stared out gloomily at misty moors.

Wuthering Heights affirmed our Northern-ness and told us that, in the adult world, it was OK to have extremes of emotion so strong you might hang someone’s pet spaniel. Something that, as teenagers, we identified with all too well.

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A Moment With… Jonathan Whitelaw

Jonathan Whitelaw Author ImageHellCorp is the new novel by Jonathan Whitelaw and was released by Urbane Publications on 5thJuly 2018. It’s great to welcome him and the blog tour to Novel Kicks today. 

Sometimes even the Devil deserves a break!

Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.

But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…

 

Jonathan has joined me today to chat about research when writing a novel. Over to you, Jonathan.

Research is a vital part of any writer’s work. It’s so vital in fact that it seeps beyond the writing and becomes a part of your life. Like living with a new pet – a dog that constantly needs walked or a cat that’s all over your keyboard, you can’t shake it off.

And it’s just as well really. Accuracy and attention to detail can be the difference between stories being believable for readers and being dismissed as total hocum. So it’s vital for writers to take into account research and how important a role it plays in the overall production of writing and novels.

For HellCorp I was incredibly lucky. The story itself involves a lot of history, mythology and culture from all across society. From traditional Christian tropes to Jewish philosophy, Buddhist culture and even a little Norse folklore, I was totally immersed in something that can potentially be endless.

Just as well that I really, really love research!

As the old saying goes – knowledge is power. That phrase has never really sat well with me. I’ve always found it to be a little on the sinister side of things. It implies that be knowing all you can, educating yourself and being in a position to learn means that you can wield that against others. In actual fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

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NK Chats To… Riley Sager

pseudonymHi Riley. Thank you for joining me today. Your new book is called Last Time I Lied and was released in the UK on 10th July by Ebury Publishing. Can you tell me about it? 

LAST TIME I LIED is about an artist named Emma who went to a fancy all-girl’s camp when she was 13 and watched her three cabinmates leave in the middle of the night. They never returned.

Fifteen years later, she returns to that same camp as a painting instructor, hoping to learn more about what happened to her friends. Nothing goes according to plan. I think of it as my version of “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”

 

What’s your writing process like from idea, to planning, to writing and finally editing?

For me, it varies from book to book. FINAL GIRLS, for example, was a bolt of lightning. From writing to revising to finding it a good home, everything about that book was fast. I’m usually much slower. Once I get an idea, I spend a lot of time thinking, taking notes and trying to figure out how to turn it into a book.

LAST TIME I LIED took twice as long to write because I still didn’t quite know what to do with it even after I started written. Like some of the characters in the book, I spent a lot of time lost in the woods, trying to find my way out.

 

What advice do you have for when you’ve finished your book and want to try and get it published? 

The act of trying to get a book published can be so difficult that it’s easy to overlook the obvious—You’ve written a book! It’s such a huge accomplishment that quickly gets overshadowed by the rest of it. So I advise writers to remember to pat themselves on the back.

There’s a lot of negative involved in trying to get a book published. Rejections come fast and furious. At least they did for me. And I wish I had taken the time to be more proud of what I’d already accomplished instead of agonizing over what I had yet to accomplish.

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet and why? 

Mary Poppins. She’d fly in, we’d go on a grand adventure and when it’s over I’ll hopefully have learned an important life lesson or two.

 

Do you have advice for someone who may be experiencing writer’s block?

I find reading helps. Just pick up a book, open it and start reading. If it’s good, you’ll be inspired to be just as good. But I’ve found it’s more helpful if the book is bad. Because I can tell myself, “If this dreck can get published, then what I’m doing also has a fair shot of making it!”

 

What are you currently working on? 

I can’t say very much. It’s still a work in progress and I’m still trying to figure it out. But it features a very ornate, very famous apartment building in New York City where horrible things happen.

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NK Chats to… Elaine Roberts

Roberts_Elaine original_previewWelcome Elaine. Your new novel is called The Foyles Bookshop Girls. Can you tell me a bit about it?

It begins in 1914 when the threat of war with Germany hangs over the country.

There’s a strong bond between Alice, Victoria, and Molly, which stems back to their childhood, and continues as they work together in Foyles Bookshop.

When Alice’s underage brother, Charles, joins up, her boyfriend, Freddie, consoles her. He declares his love and wants to marry at the earliest opportunity, but her excitement is ripped away when he admits to signing up and leaves the following day.

The girls pull together and their friendship helps them to survive the trials and tribulations that lay ahead of them.

 

What are the challenges with writing a historical novel? What was your planning process like?

One of the biggest challenges is the research. It is easy to get lost in the events. At one point I had so much information, I had to remind myself I wasn’t writing a World War One book. This is inextricably linked to not wanting to let the reader down.

After all my research is done, I construct a historical timeline of events. This will be the basis of my story. My characters lives, and things that happen to them, are woven around, or into, the historical setting.

In The Foyles Bookshop Girls, I had three timelines – the historical facts of the war, the history of Foyles and my characters’ lives. All the information is put on to a spreadsheet in chronological order. The skeleton of my story is there, so that leaves the task of adding the detail, and that’s when I become creative.

 

What was it that drew you to the historical setting and why Foyles?

My setting evolved. Alice’s mother was originally a young girl in a Victorian novel I had written, but I was advised by an industry professional that this period wasn’t popular unless you were an already established author, which I obviously wasn’t. Someone close to me suggested I move my characters forward in time, so I started looking at events in history.

I have a love of books, so I was playing with the idea of having my main male character working in, or owning, a bookshop.

 

What is your typical writing day like? Do you have any rituals or habits?

I have a system of working. I try to write every day, even if it’s only a few hundred words, and my best creative time is first thing in the morning. I’m often answering emails and on social media on my phone by about six in the morning. That’s the time I used to get up for work and I can’t seem to get out of the habit of waking up early.

I’m sitting at my desk by nine every morning, often accompanied by two cats that like to get into and sit on all of my paperwork. I don’t leave my office, apart from twenty minutes at lunchtime, until three in the afternoon, unless a visitor arrives. It sounds hard work doesn’t it, but in those six hours, I do spend time gazing down my garden, looking for inspiration, stroking and taking photos of the cats. I’m quite fortunate that my husband keeps me fed and watered.

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Blog Tour: The Summer Holidays Survival Guide by Jon Rance

8652DD56-1A0A-4349-8002-E1CB8927B139The brilliant Jon Rance is back with his new novel, The Summer Holidays Survival Guide (perfectly timed for the approaching summer holidays.) 

Two parents. Three children. One senile grandad. Six weeks. How bad could it possibly be?

For teacher, Ben Robinson, the school summer holidays mean one thing – spending six weeks with his kids. This year, however, he also has his father and one very angry wife to contend with. The name of the game is simple: survive.

Ben embarks on a summer of self-discovery that includes, amongst other things, becoming besotted by a beautiful Australian backpacker, an accidental Brexit march and a road rage attack. There’s also the matter of saving his marriage, which is proving harder than he imagined, mainly due to an unfortunate pyramid scheme and one quite large bottom.

But when Ben learns his father has a secret, it takes the whole family on a trip to Scotland that will make or break their summer – and perhaps Ben’s life.

On the last day of his blog tour, Jon has joined me today to talk about his evolution as a writer. Welcome Jon. Over to you. 

Hello! A huge thank you to Novel Kicks for having me on their blog. It’s exciting to be here! So, my new book, The Summer Holidays Survival Guide, is out and just 99p for a limited time! Today, the last stop on my blog tour, I’m going to be talking about my evolution as a writer. Let’s get started!

For those of you who don’t know me, The Summer Holidays Survival Guide, is my seventh novel. It all started way back in the heady days of 2011! We had our daughter in 2009 and our son was on the way, and I was a stay-at-home dad. I chose to be a stay-at-home father so I could write. I’d written a couple of unpublished novels, but then I suddenly got my big break. My self-published novel, The Thirtysomething Life, unexpectedly shot up the charts and broke into the Kindle top ten. I was as shocked as anyone. On the back of that success, I got a two-book publishing deal with Hodder and Stoughton and then an agent. My novels are usually comedies that deal with issues like marriage, family, parenting, falling in love, growing up or as it says on my website – author of contemporary novels about life, love, and all the icky bits in-between. I think, to be fair, it’s usually the icky bits in-between I’m most interested in.

2A7B6CE2-B8AE-4242-8001-7A1CEB51920D

So, now you know a bit about me, let’s talk evolution. My first novel, This Thirtysomething Life, was a diary about one man, Harry Spencer, early thirties, trying to get through the pregnancy and birth of his first child. My latest book, The Summer Holidays Survival Guide, is the diary of one man, Ben Robinson, 44, trying to get through the summer holidays with his family. Evolution? Well, yes. I wrote my new book because I realised last summer, as I was on a six-week holiday with my own family through England and Scotland, how far we’ve all come and how much has changed. I wrote, The Summer Holiday Survival Guide, as an update on my first book. It’s what happens down the line when the kids are older, the parents are older, and all the complications that come with that. It was as much a reflection on my own life as anything else.

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NK Chats To… Rosie Clarke

rosie clarkeYour latest novel is called Mulberry Lane Babies. Can you tell me a bit about it and what has changed for your characters since the last novel?

New characters and new loves bring changes. Peggy’s husband returns to the lanes and she finds it difficult after being in sole charge of the pub. Janet has to come to terms with her life, and Maureen is busier than ever. They have heard of the new flying bombs the Germans have invented but as yet they have not struck.

However, life is hard enough for the residents. Maureen is the character who has the most to bear in this book. Her motivation is to succeed and hold her family’s business together while looking after her children and her husband. Janet also has too much pain to carry but will eventually move on and Peggy is caught in a dilemma but there is hope that she will be happy one day.

 

What are the challenges with writing a series of books?

Making sure that you get the continuity right and don’t bring in a character that was written out without having a good reason. You need to keep the characters true but they also need to grow and develop, because otherwise they become stale. Also, you need to bring in new characters but still carry on the threads of the earlier books. Most difficult of all is deciding how much of the previous book to retell. Just a hint here and there is probably best, but some readers want to be reminded and others don’t.

 

What was it that drew you to the historical setting? What was the planning process like?

I like the period of the Second World War, because it was poignant and tragic and I know it well. It is also very popular with readers who cannot get enough of it. First of all, you plan your main characters and the setting for their lives and then just decide how they will unfold.

 

What is your typical writing day like? Do you have any rituals or habits?

I write every morning on a laptop. Sometimes I revise in the afternoons. I used to write all day but I find that the morning is when the best ideas come and work done in the afternoon can be laboured. No, I don’t have rituals. I just get on and write.

 

Which song would best describe you and why?

I don’t think I could name a song that describes me. I like country music as well as ballads.

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NK Chats To… Louise Pentland

Louise PentlandHello Louise, thank you so much for joining me on Novel Kicks today. Your debut novel is called Wilde Like Me. Can you tell me a bit about it and what inspired it?

It’s so thrilling to be a published author, I feel truly honoured to be involved in the publishing industry which I can tell you has some of the nicest people in the world in it. I feel really excited to write more and have a few more books under my belt!

Wilde Like Me is a love story with a difference. It’s not your typical fair maiden being rescued by a prince on his stead. The book’s heroine is 29-year-old single Mum called Robin Wilde, and when we first meet her, she’s finding the gig of being a single parent really tough and is struggling to keep on top of things. Throughout the book, we see Robin battle with what she calls, The Emptiness, and discover the real key to what makes her happy. It’s fun and exciting but also has some really poignant moments which I love. I can also tell you there are definitely some real life inspirations in this book. When I began writing Robin’s story, I was a single working Mum myself, trying out the dating game again, and I knew first-hand what a struggle it can be!

 

What are the challenges with writing a novel especially the first novel? What’s the best part?

I’ve found juggling my time hardest when writing the first novel. I’m a full-time vlogger and a Mummy to 2 little girls so squeezing it all in has been a bit tricky but so worth it when I hear readers tell me what they thought of the characters or what the book has meant to them- that’s by far the best part.

 

What was the planning process like and how has your writing process evolved since your first book compared to the second?

When I first sat down to write Wilde Like Me I really didn’t know how to put a whole book together. I had all these ideas buzzing around but no real skill in making a story arc or keeping it flowing. My editor Eli taught me how to sew chapters together and how to make sure it kept a good momentum so the second book has been much smoother in that respect- and less phone calls to Eli!

 

What is your typical writing day like? Do you have any rituals or habits?

I write best first thing in the morning before I’ve looked at anything else or I’ve distracted myself with other work like editing videos or updating social media, so I try to do a couple of hours as soon as I wake up.

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A Moment With… Elliott Light

GenepoliceElliott Light, author of the Shep Harrington Small Town Mystery Series joins me today to talk about what he’s learned about writing a series and what he wished he’d known before writing one. Over to you, Elliott… 
 
I have recently read several interesting articles about writing a series. The articles provided a lot of insight into the concept and structure behind a literary series. My timing, of course, is a bit off, kind of like reading “Ten Mistakes Do-It-Yourself Submarine Makers Make and How to Avoid Them” after launching my first sub. The good news is that I survived to write another day.

The gist of the guidance offered online is to plan the series before you start writing it. Okay, so I didn’t do that, probably because I didn’t know that I was going to write a series. And to be fair, planning is more important when writing a series that has a single story arc (e.g., The Hobbit, Harry Potter) than it is when writing a series in which the books are episodes that can stand alone (e.g., Sherlock Holmes). But even in an episodic series, the consequences of not planning enough can be catastrophic and are hard to fix.

The Shep Harrington SmallTown® Mystery Series is currently three books: Lonesome Song, Chain Thinking, and The Gene Police (to be released in January 2018). In Lonesome Song, the main character, Shep Harrington, arrives in a small Virginia town (Lyle) and becomes embroiled in the death of Reilly Heartwood. Shep knows most of the people he encounters because his mother is from Lyle and he visited the town as a child. Shep immediately confronts two problems: Reilly’s death has been ruled a suicide and the Reverend Billy will not bury Reilly in the town cemetery. Shep has his own issues; he was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and served three years in prison as a consequence.

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Blog Tour: Giveaway and Review of Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten

gravitywellcoverA lovely welcome to the blog today for Melanie Joosten and the tour for her new novel, Gravity Well which was released by Scribe on 10th May 2018. 

Thanks to Scribe and Melanie, I have two copies of Gravity Well to give away. 

If families are like solar systems ― bodies that orbit in time around one another, sometimes close and sometimes far away ― what is the force that moves them? And what are the consequences when one planet tugs others off course?

Lotte is an astronomer who spends her nights peering into deep space rather than looking too closely at herself. Returning to her hometown after years abroad, and reeling from a devastating diagnosis, she finds that much has changed. Lotte’s father has remarried, and she’s estranged from her former best friend, Eve. Initially, Lotte’s return causes disharmony, but then it is the catalyst for a much more devastating event ― an event that will change Lotte and Eve’s lives forever.

How to enter: THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.

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A Moment With: Bella Osborne

Avon, April 2018

Avon, April 2018

A big lovely hug and a warm hello to Bella Osborne who is back on Novel Kicks today with the blog tour for her latest instalment of the Ottercombe Bay series, Raising the Bar.

Escape to the Devon coast, with Part Three of a brand-new four-part serial from the author of Willow Cottage.

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

 

Bella is chatting today about using Pinterest for research when starting a novel. Over to you, Bella. 

Thanks for having me on the blog today. I’m a project manager by profession so I’m a big planner when it comes to pretty much everything I do, so it’s no surprise that I plan my writing. I love the planning stage when a new idea pops up and characters start to form in my mind. I spend quite a long time with them working out who they are, their life history, what their drivers are and what makes them tick. While I’m in the early stages (before I get out the post it notes) I set up a board on Pinterest and start pinning things on it. Not everything will stay but as a visual person it really helps to see pictures of things to help bring them to life.

While I was planning Ottercombe Bay I set up a board on Pinterest, here’s the link – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/bellaosborne9/ottercombe-bay/

I like to picture my main characters and Marlon Teixeira is a model that captures the look of Max perfectly. I struggled more with Daisy. There are a few pictures of Shakira because her hair is similar to Daisy’s but otherwise she’s quite different to Shakira. I am a Rufus Sewell fan so it was no surprise that an image of him popped up when I conjured up the character of Pasco, Max’s dad. But it was very much the rough around the edges, lovable rogue look that Rufus does rather than the neat and well turned out version. I love looking at the pictures of Marlon and Rufus next to each other – I can definitely see a similarity or perhaps I see the Max and Pasco connection that I want to be there?

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NK Chats To… A.K. Mills

a.k. millsYour book is called The Snow White Effect. Can you tell me about it and what inspired the story?

My sister was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in 2013 after having a laparoscopic hysterectomy. We learned shortly after her diagnosis that her cancer had been made worse by the tool used in her procedure. As a writer, I wanted to help tell her story to prevent it from happening to more women. It’s a love story wrapped in a medical drama. Being told through four different vantage points allows the reader to see the story from more than one angle.

 

What elements do you think make a good novel?

Twists. In every story I write, I try to have at least one twist the reader didn’t see coming.

 

Can you talk me through your writing process from idea to editing to pitch.

All of my writing starts with one main idea. I have a basic idea of where I would like to see the story go, but I never hold myself to any one path. Instead, I allow for the characters to develop and tell their stories through me. I am blessed to have a supportive family. My mom and sister always read the first version of my manuscript and offer their brutally honest opinions. From there, I make changes and edits. At that point I usually walk away from it for about to weeks. After a couple of weeks, I come back to it and re-read it. If I’m happy with it, I’ll send it to my editor. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a great editor who challenges my writing and thought process at every level. The editing process with her takes about two months, after which I know my book is ready. The pitching process is my least favorite because I don’t like to talk about myself. But I believe in my writing, which helps me pitch my stories.

 

What is your typical writing day like? Do you have any rituals like lots of coffee or writing in silence?

Tea and music. I love tea. I am a big tea drinker. So when I start writing, I always have a steaming fresh cup next to my computer. I’d like to say I have a writing ritual, but with young children I write when I can. Most of my writing is done at night when everyone is asleep. I tend to become an insomniac when I am in the middle of a story. Music is also important for me because it helps me feel the mood I am writing. By the time my manuscript is complete, I have a playlist to go along with it.

 

What is your favourite word and why?

Hope. Life is full of lows and high. Hope bridges the gap between the two. It gets us through the lows so we can attain the highs.

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Clink Street Spring Reads 2018: Lee Cockburn and Creating a Sinister Villain

Lee Cockburn PhotoClink Street Spring Reads 2018 has arrived at Novel Kicks and I am pleased to be welcoming the author of Devil’s Demise, Lee Cockburn to the blog. Lee, how do you create a sinister villain? 

In everyone’s mind, there are ideas of what a villain should be, so it is a very individual thing, each to their own, as to what would make a realistic and frightening bad guy so to speak, they come in all shapes and sizes, many blending in unnoticed in society, living along side us.

My villain in Devil’s Demise is truly evil, filled with hate and anger with a genuine belief that these feelings truly lie at the feet of the women he now hates, which of course is absolutely not the case, and his failings and attitudes in life are his own doing and no-one else can be blamed.

What makes a villain sinister and frightening, is what he or she is capable of, the fear they install in others, the victim’s inability to defend themselves against them, or to get escape from them and all of these factors put together, set the scene for a terrifying situation, the one of desperation and helplessness, and true fear of the baddie!.

Eyes are very important, soulless eyes, eyes that show no emotion, no hint of remorse or willingness to listen or understanding the pleas of their victims, evil emotions fixed on their prey and totally focussed on what they intend on doing, leaving no chance for a change of heart, no human caring emotions, no conscience or remorse, just a broken mind, filled with hate and intent.

Throughout the novel I play on the readers fear too, they put themselves in the situation of futility, helplessness, and terror , one of sheer desperation and in their minds they too become truly frightened of the monster, the shape or vision they have created by themselves of villain’s appearance and genuinely fear this person.

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