Hi Laura, it’s wonderful to be back celebrating my second novel, I’m delighted to be here. It’s never easy to obtain a contract for a book, and for some reason, in my opinion, if it’s not already in place, obtaining that second one is always the most nerve-shredding. When the email offer came through for this one, it was like a weight lifting from my mind.
Can you tell me a little about your first historical saga, ‘A Wing and a Prayer’ and what inspired the story?
Because of ill health, I hadn’t been writing, I’d wanted to but it hadn’t been working. My author friends had all been encouraging me to try, so when a friend suggested I try something new rather than to pick up an unfinished project, it was like a serendipitous moment. I was watching a program on tv called, Spitfire Women, about the lady pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary in WW2. Before I was even aware I was doing it, I found myself scrolling around the internet and the beginning of a story idea reared its head. For this prod up the proverbial, I have two excellent authors and good friends to thank; best-selling romance author Sue Moorcroft and historical saga author par excellence, Elaine Everest. Also, after finding out so much about the brave women and men of the ATA, I wanted to write a kind of tribute to them. I hope I’ve done so.
What are the challenges of setting your novel in WWII?
Getting your facts right. Well, that’s only partially true, as in this day and age of the internet, you really shouldn’t be getting anything wrong, though it does happen. The other part, at least so far as I’m concerned, is making sure your characters behave and talk as they did back then. Compared to my romance, which was set in contemporary times, this was initially much harder to write until I got into the swing of it and now, it’s quite natural. Now I’m well into writing the third book in the series, writing as if my mind is back in the 1940’s seems natural. My main issue is, and will probably remain, writing in US English, as my publisher is based in the USA and prefers this. It still looks strange to me.
A lot of my ideas, when I first tried my hand at writing, came from listening to Radio. I’d hear a song and that would spark an idea. I still have a folder with about 20 idea for stories, some are brief outlines, a few lines, some are up to 6 or 7 pages, quite full of detail, a few even with a start, a middle and an end. I’d like think I can get back to some of those at some point. For this saga series, once the idea came, I was able to start writing pretty fast. I like to begin a story as soon as the idea hits me and as I’m more of a panster than a planster, I can get the first draft down pretty quickly, even taking into account that my first drafts are more akin to between a second and third draft, as I edit as I go along; each chapter has to read right before I can move on to the next one. I also keep each chapter as its own file, as I find it much easier to go to what I need to if, well, I need to.
So far as writing a series is concerned, this is my first series as ‘The Season for Love’ was a standalone romance, I’m kind of learning my own way as I go along. I’m sure everyone who writes a series has their own ways, so there may be an easier way than the one I’m using, but so far, it works for me. I like to, if it’s possible, to leave each chapter on a cliffhanger. That’s not possible with a series of books, so far as the end of the book is concerned. I’d like to, but each book has to be able to be read as a standalone too, so that’s out of the question. What I have to do is give the reader an enjoyable reading experience, whilst making them want to find out what the characters get up to next. It’s a nice feeling to know that I’ll be coming back to these characters again too.
You are a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association Do you feel that the RNA New Writers’ Scheme is worth joining if you’re wanting to start writing a novel?
My route to publication was through this esteemed scheme so, yes, very much so. I know so many authors who became published by joining the NWS scheme of the Romantic Novelists Association. It’s one of the hardest things to accomplish, having a book published and the support which this scheme provides is invaluable. I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to become an author.
What’s your favourite word and why?
Now that is a question I’ve never been asked before! Can I stick a finger into my dictionary? I’m really not sure if I can pick one and my first thought was to select two – The End. However, on second thoughts, those aren’t my favourite words as they mean I’ve finished with a particular story. I’ve thought about it and there is a word and it always makes me smile so, please, don’t shoot me; supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
How many am I allowed? There are so many, from so many different genres! Considering I write in the saga genre my first may surprise you however, if you knew me if wouldn’t. Above all others, I adore the writing of Terry Pratchett. In years to come, I’d like to believe that his writings will come to be admired and talked about on a par with Jane Austin, Charles Dickins, people like that. His ability to craft worlds full of wonderful characters will never be beaten. I’m sorry, all my friends in the RNA and out, but I feel so strongly about him. No matter what mood I’m in, reading one of his books will always brighten my day.
Which fictional character would you like to have a conversation with and why?
That’s a tough one too. You’re not making this easy! I’m going to cheat slightly. This is a character which has appeared in fiction, but didn’t originate there. See, cheating! I choose, Doctor Who. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to talk to someone who whom so much is known, yet so much is a mystery?
Any other advice for new writers?
Persist. That should be the most important word in your lexicon. Print it out and put it above where you write, as the chances are, you’ll need to. Don’t give in as it’s rare indeed that a writer gets their first work published. Also, read a lot, then read some more, especially in the genre you wish to write in.
Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elisabeth II in the Royal Air Force before putting down roots and realizing how much he missed the travel. This he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and supporting fellow saga and romance authors in promoting their novels.
He’s the proud keeper of two Romanian cats, is mad on the music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, and enjoys the theatre and loving his Manchester-United-supporting wife.
Finally, Mick is a full member of the Romantic Novelists Association. A Wing and a Prayer will be his second published novel, and he is very proud to be welcomed into The Rose Garden.
My verdict on A Wing and a Prayer…
When Betty Palmer’s sister dies under suspicious circumstances whilst landing her Tiger Moth, Betty and three other women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary in WWII England unite to discover who killed her and why.
Estranged from her family, Penny Blake wants simply to belong. American Doris Winter, running from a personal tragedy, yearns for a new start. Naturally shy Mary Whitworth-Baines struggles to fit in. Together though, they are a force to be reckoned with as they face the mystery that confronts them.
Against the backdrop of war, when ties of friendship are exceptionally strong, they strive to unravel the puzzle’s complex threads, risking their lives as they seek justice for Betty’s sister.
I am so proud to be a part of this blog tour today and reviewing our Mick’s latest novel, A Wing and a Prayer which I must say was a delight to read.
The main focuses of the novel, Betty, Doris, Penny and Mary were wonderful, especially together. Each one of them has something I found relatable.
I loved seeing how their relationship developed throughout the course of the novel.
The mystery they are trying to solve of course very much appealed to me and I wanted everything to work out the way it should.
As it was set in Hamble (a few miles down the road from me,) it was great to be able to picture the area and this was lovely. It is obvious that Mick has taken a lot of time and care over researching the ATA and this adds additional layers to the story.
I don’t want to say too much more as I don’t want to give anything away. There is so much I loved about this book. There’s friendship, love, adventure and of course, the mystery. I adored this little family and I look forward to seeing what they do next.
Overall, a great start to a promising series and perfect for fans of Jean Fullerton and Rosie Hendry.