#BooksOnTour @bookouture / #Review : The Irish Nanny – Sandy Taylor @SandyTaylorAuth

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free.
I’m grateful of receiving a free copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review of this book. –

About the Author :

Sandy Taylor grew up on a council estate near Brighton. There were no books in the house, so Sandy’s love of the written word was nurtured in the little local library. Leaving school at fifteen, Sandy worked in a series of factories before landing a job at Butlins in Minehead. This career change led her to becoming a singer, a stand up comic and eventually a playwright and novelist.

Facebook
Twitter

Synopsis :

‘We have to go, Miss. We can’t wait any longer.’ I hold the baby tighter as the lifeboat is lowered slowly into the water, hitting the rough sea with a splash. My eyes never leave the ship, searching, hoping to see the others and know they are safe…
London 1940. As the war rages in Europe, Rose Brown steps on board a ship bound for America, hoping to escape the danger. She’s frightened, but her widowed mammy and three sisters in Ireland need the money she earns as nanny to the rich Townsend family. But while Rose plays with baby Sarah in the salty spray on deck, disaster strikes, and the ocean liner begins to sink. In the chaos, Rose and the baby are separated from the family.
Pulled from the sea with the child still in her arms, Rose is afraid as never before. And when she arrives in Brooklyn to search for Sarah’s family she feels completely adrift in this unfamiliar land where looming Brownstones line the streets, and workmen in flat caps jostle her on the sidewalks. But just when Sarah’s father is within reach, the howling air-raid sirens and deafening bombs she thought she’d left behind shatter her plans once again as tragic news arrives from Pearl Harbor.
As fear and panic grips America, what heartbreaking sacrifices will Rose have to make to protect her precious charge? And can she reunite the family before it is too late?

An emotional, heart-wrenching story of love and family set across Ireland and America during the Second World War. Perfect for fans of Jean Grainger, Lisa Wingate and Diney Costeloe.

Amazon
Apple Books
Kobo
Google Play

Review :

‘The Irish Nanny’ is a heartbreaking read that held my interest from beginning till end as it’s such a beautiful and emotional story.
The main characters were well-developed and you really feel for them as everything is so vividly described.
The whole storyline had a great pace and it makes you unable to put it down before you’ve read the whole book.
Just be prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions!

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours / #QandAs : Restless Dead #RestlessDead #DCIHarryGrimm – David Gatward @davidgatward

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘Restless Dead’ blogtour, organized by Random Things Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

David J. Gatward lives in Somerset and is the award-winning author of the DCI Harry Grimm crime novels, and the Padre horror trilogy. He has also written numerous books for children, teenagers and young adults.

Facebook
Twitter

Synopsis :

• ASIN ‏ : ‎ B093RZGH5C
• Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (29 April 2021)
• Language ‏ : ‎ English
• Paperback ‏ : ‎ 290 pages
• ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8742125907

Be careful what you wish for.
When no nonsense retired Army Colonel James Fletcher starts seeing his recently deceased wife around the house again, his friends and family are more than a little worried.But when James turns up dead, and the accident that killed him is found to be anything but, DCI Harry Grimm and his team must uncover the grisly truth before anyone else falls prey.In a house torn in two by ghosts and betrayal, Harry may soon find that death isn’t always the end. Sometimes, it’s only the beginning . . .
Restless Dead is the fifth book in the DCI Harry Grimm crime thriller series, set in the Yorkshire Dales, and perfect for fans of L. J. Ross, J.R. Ellis, Margaret Mayhew, Jeanne M. Dams, J. M. Dalgliesh, Roger Silverwood, J. D. Kirk, Adam Croft, and Simon McCleave

Amazon

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
A pleasure!

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Oooh, the hard ones first, eh? I’m David J. Gatward, and tbh I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer, certainly from primary school. English was my favourite subject, loved telling stories. I did I year out between A-Levels and Uni, during which I worked at an outdoor centre, and had my first book published. Then I went to college to study outdoor eduction, after which I took on various publishing roles. My first children’s fiction was published in 2009, then I wrote various children’s and teen/YA books, as well as ghostwriting some for a properly famous person. Now I write crime full time and I love it!

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child/teen, Dr Seuss, anything by Alan Garner, Asterix, Wilard Price, the Dragonlance Chronicles. Now? Jeepers, I’m all over the place! Sometimes I’ll read action stuff, next I’m into horror, then sci-fi, crime… I’m a member of a horror book club (The Abominable Book Club) so I get a monthly collection of creepy words, which is nice. I’ve usually got a couple of books on the go.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Agatha Christie, simply because she completely nailed the who whodunnit genre. But there are others: Clive Barker, Gary A. Braunbeck, Stephen King, Susan Hill…

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
My books? Well, there was this alcoholic angel in my teen ‘Dead’ trilogy, who was quite fun, and an undead priest called Abaddon, just because they have crazy stories to tell. I think Matt would be great from the Grimm series because he’s just such a dependable, great bloke, and I think it would be a laugh. Someone else’s book? Hoon, from JD Kirk’s ‘Logan’ series, because that man is a nutjob!

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Only that I usually write with music on. That’s about it.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Ideas come from everywhere. I research stuff (so I’m in the thick of researching dog fights and sheep rustling), watch a lot of films, read, think, dream, but also just force myself to come up with stuff. This is my job, it’s my livelihood, so no time for being all pretentious about it: crack on, Gatward! As for people in my life being worried? Well, a few of us authors have known each other for years, so we do like to kill each other off in our books now and again. And Aled Jones is a mate, so I decided to kill a famous singer who used to be a choirboy!

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Yes. By which I mean, I’m both! I plot, I write random chapters, I go by the seat of my pants, I let my characters take control. It’s a bit messy, but it works.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Read. Read. Read. Keep reading. Read some more. Read. Think you’ve learned enough? Wrong! Keep reading! And write. Write a lot. Write a little. But write. A friend said to me once that knowing me had really shown them what being a writer is all about. At the time I wasn’t exactly doing well, hadn’t had anything published for years, and yet I still wrote. It’s what I did, it’s what I do. It’s as important as breathing. Writers don’t constantly talk about writing a book, coming up with excuses as to why they haven’t, how they need to take six months off to just get it done, because they actually just write. For fun. That’s where it begins: you do it because you love it.

What are your futureplans as an author?
I’m keeping on with Grimm for a good while yet and would love to get to 24 books in the series. I’ve another crime idea that I want to explore, set in the Lake District (I lived in Ambleside for four years). That’s it, really, just to keep on writing books readers enjoy. I’m not trying to win prizes or be world famous or any of that. My aim is to simply write a decent yarn filled with characters that readers not only buy into for one book, but want to follow through subsequent stories.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Well, two romances blossom, but not the ones you expect (assuming you’ve read the other books in the series!) and the detective sergeant, Matt, has some life-changing news by the end (news that even I didn’t see coming, to be honest!) How’s that?

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, David Gatward.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours / #QandAs : Behind The Mask #BehindTheMask – Jeanette Taylor Ford @jeanetteford51

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘Behind The Mask’ blogtour, organized by Random Things Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

I’m a lifetime bookworm! From reading to my children to now creating stories of my own, books have always been a large, important part of my life. Those who have read my stories have enjoyed them, so I finally decided to inflict them upon the world in general. Some of them are ghostly tales, combined with loveable characters and interesting situations which make them ghost stories with a difference. However, I also write children’s stories, the first of which, ‘Robin’s Ring’ is published and I’m working on another Robin story. My new series, The River View Series, presents mild mysteries with a difference – and are set in my beloved Herefordshire.
Much to our youngest daughter’s disgust, I love old buildings, castles, mansions, historical places, especially ruined buildings and they are often the inspiration for my stories.
My retirement from my job as a teaching assistant has given me the opportunity to indulge my love of writing and I ask for no more than to give pleasure to my readers. When not writing, I’m making cards, singing in a ladies’ choir, doing Family History and all sorts of other things. I am married to Tony, a retired teacher, and we have six children and seven grandchildren. We live near Nottingham, England.

Twitter
Facebook

Synopsis :

• Publisher ‏ : ‎ Samona Publishing (11 Mar. 2021)
• Language ‏ : ‎ English
• Paperback ‏ : ‎ 274 pages
• ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1999310756
• ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1999310752

Gary Roper is a man behind a mask. His wife, Daisy, knows what’s underneath that mask, and finally manages to run away, to establish a new life at River View, working for Lucy Baxter. Roper is determined to find her, but in the meantime, he has to toe the line to his boss, gangster Terence Johns. The many faces of Roper are employed on his journey to find his wife, leaving chaos in his wake. In her place of security, Daisy finds firm friends and a new love, unaware that he, also, wears a mask…

Amazon

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Hello, I am Jeanette, a retired teaching assistant. I’m married to Tony, a retired teacher, and we have six children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. We live halfway between Nottingham and Derby.
I’ve always loved writing and over the years I’ve written memories of events in my childhood, many, very long letters, which my parents and grandmother loved, and so on. I really enjoyed the three-year course I took (at the age of 50) to become a teaching assistant because of the writing involved, which was the part most of my fellow students hated! Although I loved my work, I found it somewhat frustrating, trying to help children write stories when I’d found it very easy to write them when I was at school, and found myself wanting to write the stories they’d been asked to do! I connected with the brother of two of my old school mates over the facebook group of the school we’d been to and we talked a lot about writing because it was a mutual interest. We joined a poetry group, then a fast fiction group and each step led us both towards writing a full-length book. I wrote my first one in 2010, quickly followed by three others and a book for children. At that time I had no thoughts of publishing; I felt at the age I was, I didn’t want another career as I’d retired by then, and also felt I didn’t have enough years to wait for a publisher to be interested in me, being well aware of other people’s experience. Then we discovered it was possible to self-publish; David used Lulu and I decided on CreateSpace, which is now Kindle Direct Publishing. I first published in 2014, but it was the fourth book I’d written. David and I supported each other throughout our ventures and I’d published five books by the time he died in Jan 2016. I have now published 12 books for adults and 3 for children. So it seems I do have another career after all.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
Inevitably, I grew up on Enid Blyton. My favourites were the Famous Five Books and the ‘Mystery’ books. I loved how inventive she was with adventures and also adored the idea of a private island. I’ve read so many books as an adult; I can’t possibly remember them all! I enjoyed ‘nice’ books, such as Rebecca Shaw’s ‘Village’ series, Christine Marion Fraser’s ‘Island’ series, but also, the Angelique books by Sergeane Golon, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon series, Mary Stewart, Barbara Erskine, Tolkien, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry P and so on. More recently I like Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Kate Mosse, Simon Toyne, Santa Montifiore, and many others. None of these are crime, but I love many crime writers too. We’d be here all day if I named them all!

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I’m so lucky that I’m in touch, through the magic of Facebook, with many authors, and most of them are very willing to help with advice; they’re such lovely people. I assume you meant writing advice, but I’ve found, since taking on writing a series about crime (for goodness sake, why?) that I already have a wonderful ‘go to’ writer when I need to know anything about police procedures, and everything connected, and that’s the lovely Roger A. Price, who is an ex-detective turned crime writer. He’s always patient and helpful, which I’m so grateful for.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Oh, that’s a hard one! I’ve read about so many really great characters over the years. But perhaps I might be allowed to be invited for tea by Lucy and Kenny Baxter instead of me inviting them? For two reasons – one, because they live in the gorgeous old farmhouse I once lived in and I’d love to spend some time there again, and two, because Lucy is an amazing cook! But if I went to River View for tea with them, I’d like Tom, Sheila, Joseph, DI Dan and Linda Cooke and DS Grant and his wife, Jenny, to come too. In face, I’d love to meet all the characters in the River View Series, so it would have to be a garden party!

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
No rituals! But I am prone to nibbling while I write, mostly chocolate or sweets, which I’m trying hard to stop doing because I’ve put on so much weight and my teeth are objecting to it too.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Ha ha! No, so far my people are safe! I admit there are one or two ‘real’ people in the River View series which are cameo roles and included with their permission. I generally find most people are happy to be put in a book and some even ask if they can be a murderer! (None of them want to be victims, strangely.) I think most writers hate to be asked how they get their ideas because often we don’t really know. I suppose in my case, my stories are often inspired by buildings – for instance, my Castell Glas Trilogy was inspired by Gwych Castle, which I fell in love with quite a few years ago, long before ‘I’m a Celebrity’ had anything to do with it, ‘Rosa’, was inspired by Blickling Hall in Norfolk, ‘Bell of Warning’ by ruins of a drowned village off the Norfolk coast, ‘The Ghosts of Roseby Hall’ was inspired by a ruined mansion in Derbyshire and the first one of this River View series was inspired by a the whattle and daub farmhouse I lived in when I was a teenager.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m both, really. If I get an idea, I will think around it for a while, sometimes weeks, until I know what the story is going to be about. Sometimes, when I begin to write, I only have the beginning and the end and some idea on what will happen throughout the story to bring it to the conclusion. I don’t write notes and I don’t use a story board, I keep it all in my head. To a certain extent, I go with the flow while making sure my desired events happen, but in between, my characters often do what they want. And sometimes, they will insist that some of the planned events come out differently. But as long as it all makes sense in the end, I don’t mind. I do keep notes of the names of my characters and if a timeline is needed, I’ll do one, but I write those things as I go along.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Don’t trust any publisher who wants you to pay. If you want to be conventionally published, don’t give up, keep trying. Whether you try for publishing or whether you publish yourself, put as good a quality product out there as you can. Get a good editor and have several proof readers; relying on one proof reader isn’t enough. Also, don’t be put off, after you’ve published, by the one-star review. Remember that we can’t please all the people all the time. Oh, and if you self-publish with Amazon but you dream of having your books in a shop in the UK, don’t use the free ISBN they will offer you. Buy your own.

What are your futureplans as an author?
I try not to look too far ahead, but at the moment, I’m writing River View book 6, which I hope will be out by the end of the year or early next year. Then I’ll be doing book 7, which I intend to be the last book in the series – unless another idea comes up. But I think it’s better to finish a series than to continue flogging a dead horse. I have some other ideas I may try after that but I’m reluctant to talk about them in case they don’t actually happen.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Yes, indeed. This is from Chapter 10:

It took half an hour or so to cut the hedge and a further twenty minutes to clear away all the cuttings. She tidied the trimmers away in the shed and went into the house to have a drink of cool water. Then it was back out to the shed where she gathered her gardening gloves, a lightweight fork, her trowel and a plastic bin and began work on a bed at the side of the house. Humming quietly to herself, she pulled out the weeds that had dared to appear between the busy lizzies with the help of the fork. Reaching the other end of the bed, she stopped to admire her work, when a shadow fell over her. She looked up and her heart leaped into her mouth when she saw Gary Roper standing by her.
“What – how did you get in? What do you want? I’ll call my husband!”
“Call him – I don’t care! I got some information the other day – do you want to know what that was?”
She stood up. “Not really, but I think you’re going to tell me. Have you found Daisy?”
“No, I haven’t found Daisy,” he spat. “I found the taxi firm that took her to the station.”
“And?” She held her breath, knowing what was coming, dammit.
“I found out that you lied to me. They picked her up from here – this posh house of yours. So, you lied when you said you hadn’t seen her, didn’t you?”
She said nothing. His large stride took him to her and he grabbed her arms, his fingers digging into her flesh. “Didn’t you?”
Trying not to cry out at the pain, she nodded. “She came to me because you had brutalised her. She couldn’t take any more. You should be in prison, you brute!”
He punched her, full in the face. She felt her nose crunch and screamed as she fell to the ground.
“I told you what would happen if I found out you’d lied to me, police or no police!” She curled in pain as his foot met her stomach. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him pick up the fork. In fear she murmured: ‘Oh, God, no!’ and the moment of agony propelled her into oblivion.

*****

Roper was shocked when he saw what he’d done in his blinding temper. Eying the woman bleeding at his feet, he took off, running as fast as he could. He’d found his way into the garden from the field behind the house and that was the way he went, pushing through the hawthorn hedge, oblivious to the vicious scratches. His scalp prickled as he heard the loud, unearthly keening of an animal – was it a cat?
He ran across the field, scaring the sheep grazing peacefully, and over the fence into the lane beyond where he’d parked his car.
Hardly had he gained the driver’s seat, when he slammed the car into gear and was off, scattering small stones as the tyres spun, trying to grip the road. He had to get home, fetch his stuff and leave. As soon as the woman was discovered, they’d come for him. He had every intention of not being there when they did.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Jeanette Taylor Ford.
Thank you so much for having me.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #QandAs : The Devil’s Tune – Fran Kempton

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘The Devil’s Tune’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Frances Kempton is a reclusive writer fleeing from the clutches of Jane Austen.
She has an obsession with Italy. This is the first book in an Italian trilogy.

 

Synopsis :

Carlo Gesualdo, prince, composer and murderer has his wife and her lover killed in Naples in 1590. The wife’s maidservant, Laura Scala, witnesses the events and vowes to avenge her mistress.
The princess, Donna Maria d’Avalos, rescued Laura in Sicily after she had been raped at the age of thirteen. Laura devotes her life to her saviour and after the murders she spends years of her life trying to be revenged on the musical prince.
The scene moves from Sicily to Naples and Venice, back to Naples and finally to the New World. Laura believes she is carrying a curse. Everyone she becomes involved with appears to suffers misfortune and death.
A Jewish girl in the Venetian ghetto is kidnapped and sold into the Sultan’s harem, Laura’s daughter is placed in an orphanage without her knowledge, the artist Caravaggio uses Laura as a model and meets a tragic end.
Three beautiful pearls given to Laura by her mistress play a part in the story. Is Laura really cursed – or is it her connection with the murderous prince who dabbles in the occult?
A gypsy woman is burned at the stake, a Venetian gondolier meets a mysterious fate and Laura becomes a skilled herbalist and poisoner by default before the story ends in the New World. The background to these events is the strange and compelling music of Gesualdo.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I have always scribbled stories since I was a child. Later, I progressed from being a journalist and an advertising copywriter to writing novels.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
My first love was a series of books about a bear called Mary Plain-long out of print, I expect, but just as lovable as Paddington!. Today, I read a lot of crime-favourites include Robert Goddard and Ian Rankin as well as the Queens of Crime.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Robert Goddard, the crime writer, because I admire his fiendish plotting.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Lydia Bennet and Mr Darcy-if I could get both of them, sparks would fly.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
The usual cups of coffee and tea, enough sharp pencils. I’ve given up the chocolate.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I am often inspired by places, incidents in history and strange characters. Most people I know do not need to be worried.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m a mixture-I’m very sure about beginnings and ends-middle parts are often instinctive.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Persevere and read, read, read.

What are your future plans as an author?
I want to complete the Italian trilogy featuring
1. A composer (Carlo Gesualdo)
2. An artist (Artemisia Gentileschi)
3. A dancer (Marie Taglioni-the first ballerina).

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
The Devil’s Tune-music, murder, and revenge. A humble maidservant avenges her mistress’s murder – or does she?

“Chiaia: It all began in that place, twenty aristocrats, rich as sin and with nothing to do except intrigue with each other and make love with someone’s spouse. Trouble was bound to happen.”

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Fran Kempton.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @maryanneyarde / #QandAs : The Girl from Venice – Siobhan Daiko @siobhandaiko #HistoricalFiction #WomensFiction #HistoricalRomance

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘The Girl from Venice’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Siobhan Daiko is an international bestselling historical romantic fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese puppy and two rescue cats. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK, Siobhan now spends her time, when she isn’t writing, enjoying the sweet life near Venice.

Website
Twitter
Publisher Facebook
Author Facebook
LinkedIn
Instagram
Pinterest
BookBub
Amazon Author Page
GoodReads

Synopsis :

Book Title: The Girl from Venice
Author: Siobhan Daiko
Publication Date: 29th June 2021
Publisher: ASOLANDO BOOKS
Page Length: 300 Pages
Genre: Romantic Historical / Women’s Fiction

Lidia De Angelis has kept a low profile since Mussolini’s racial laws wrenched her from her childhood sweetheart. But when the Germans occupy Venice in 1943, she must flee the city to save her life.
Lidia joins the partisans in the Venetian mountains, where she meets David, an English soldier fighting for the same cause. As she grows closer to him, harsh Nazi reprisals and Lidia’s own ardent anti-fascist activities threaten to tear them apart.
Decades later in London, while sorting through her grandmother’s belongings after her death, Charlotte discovers a Jewish prayer book, unopened letters written in Italian, and a fading photograph of a group of young people in front of the Doge’s Palace.
Intrigued by her grandmother’s refusal to talk about her life in Italy before and during the war, Charlotte travels to Venice in search of her roots. There, she learns not only the devastating truth about her grandmother’s past, but also some surprising truths about herself.
A heart-breaking page-turner, based on actual events in Italy during World War II

Trigger Warnings:
Death
Miscarriage
PTSD
Rape

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Universal Buy Link
Available on Kindle Unlimited.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I was born in Hong Kong and lived there until my late twenties when I moved to the UK. After working in the City of London and then running a B&B in Herefordshire while my son was little, I trained as a languages teacher and taught in a Welsh comp until I reached retirement age. At that time, a dear friend became a published author and inspired me to return to the love of writing I’d developed as a teen. The first book I wrote, The Orchid Tree, is set in Hong Kong during WWII and the 1940s. My grandparents had been interened by the Japanese in the Stanley Civilian Internment camp, and I built on their experiences and those of my father in the Chinese Maritime Customs. In 2012, my husband and I moved to Asolo in the Veneto. The Girl from Venice is a story I’ve wanted to write for years. The family next door to our old place hid a Jewish couple during the war, and, in nearby Bassano del Grappa, there are trees bearing memorials where young partisans were hung by the Nazi-Fascists in September 1944. I needed to do a lot of research before I could sit down and write The Girl from Venice, a daunting task, but I finally got round to doing it and I hope readers will like the story that emerged.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I developed my love of reading, like many of us, through Enid Blyton, devouring all the Magic Faraway Tree, Famous Five, and Malory Towers books. I also loved CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Now, I read all kinds of genres: historical fiction, women’s fiction, crime, romantic suspense. Everything except for horror.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Philippa Gregory. She’s a brilliant writer and seems like a lovely person.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Elizabeth Bennett for her sparkling wit and intelligence. It would be fun to find out what her life with Darcy was like after their marriage.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I make sure Pepper, my youngest cat, is fed otherwise she walks all over my keyboard. And Teddy, my Havanese dog, is always nearby.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
In bed. At the time between sleeping and waking. Husband used to wonder why I was jotting down notes in the dark, but he’s used to it now, I think. 😉

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
A mixture. I start off with a chapter by chapter outline, but I add or take away from it as the story progresses.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Believe in yourself. Don’t worry if your first draft is rubbish. Just write it then polish/edit afterwards.

What are your futureplans as an author?
The Girl from Venice is the first book in a series of standalone novels set in Italy during WWII. I plan on writing at least anoher two.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?

Lidia drew back her bedroom curtains and opened the shutters. The humid morning air caressed her face, and she tucked a wayward curl of dark brown hair behind her ear. She smoothed her hands over the cool marble windowsill and gazed out across the lagoon. The pearly pink façade of the Doge’s Palace shimmered in the early autumn sunshine, its colonnades and balconies bearing witness to the immense power which once resided there.
Her skin prickled and she stepped away from the window. On the fondamenta, the street lining the canal below, two of Mussolini’s blackshirts—an armed squad whose job was to bring into line anyone who opposed him—were marching purposefully towards the vaporetto water bus station. It was unusual to see them out on the street like this, and the sight of them set her heart hammering. As far as she knew, the squadristi usually kept a low profile, having been warned not to scare the tourists. Tourism was vital to the economy, apparently, and Mussolini had ordered the blackshirts to desist from such practices as openly tying a “troublemaker” to a tree and forcing a litre of castor oil down their throat. Lidia shuddered. Venice boasted few trees, but the blackshirts would find pillars where they secretly carried out this despicable act. She was an ardent anti-Fascist like her sweetheart, Renzo, and her group of university friends; they made it their business to keep tabs on the blackshirts. From a distance. She wouldn’t like to get too close to one.
The enticing aroma of coffee brewing filled her nostrils. She made her way down the narrow corridor to the kitchen, a square room at the rear of the palatial apartment. Her papa glanced up from the book he was reading. ‘Ready for your first day back?’ he asked, adjusting his spectacles on his thin nose.
She helped herself from the moka pot on the stove, then dragged a chair out from under the table. ‘I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks.’ And to seeing more of Renzo.
She added two teaspoonfuls of sugar to her coffee. The sweet, dark liquid slipped down her throat, and she gave Papa a smile. ‘Do you have a lot of patients to visit?’ In the mornings, he would make his rounds.
‘Too many, cara mia. ’I can’t wait for you to be qualified so you can join me in the practice.’
She picked up a piece of bread and spread jam on it. ‘Five more years to go. Seems like a lifetime…’
‘For you, it does, because you are young. Five years, for me, will pass in a flash.’
After she and Papa had finished their breakfast, she took their dishes to the sink. Rinsing them with hot water, she let her mind wander. How she would have loved her mamma to be here and to see her starting her second year of medicine. Mamma had been an English professor at the university until she lost her battle with cancer six years ago. It was thanks to her that Lidia had learnt to speak fluent English, and it was also thanks to her that she had learnt to value her Jewish heritage. Mamma had enriched their home life with Jewish traditions such as lighting candles on Friday nights, cooking Jewish food and celebrating Jewish holidays. But Lidia and her parents only went to the synagogue for weddings or funerals; they were secular Jews, Italians who celebrated Passover instead of Easter. She swallowed the lump of sadness that had swelled in her throat. She still missed Mamma so much.
She fetched her coat from the cupboard in the hallway and slipped it on. Papa was already opening the front door. They passed their neighbour, Signora Rossi, at the foot of the stairs leading up to the apartments. ‘Buongiorno,’ the plump middle-aged woman greeted them, a bag of freshly baked loaves under her arm.
They wished her a good morning in return, then stepped out of their palazzo onto the fondamenta. ‘I’ll see you this evening, cara mia,’ Papa said, swinging his physician’s bag. ‘Enjoy the start of the new term.’
‘I will.’ She kissed Papa’s smooth cheek, inhaling the familiar spicy scent of his aftershave. He was her rock and she loved him unconditionally.
At the Zitelle vaporetto station, they went their separate ways—Lidia taking the waterbus to Zattere, from where she would walk to the university, and Papa heading in the direction of the San Marco district to visit the first of this morning’s patients.
Lidia found a seat at the prow, hugging her satchel as the engines went into reverse and the boat pulled away from the pier into the Giudecca Canal. Would Marta get on at the next stop? Marta was her best friend. They’d met at secondary school and had in common their dislike of the cult of Mussolini. Once, they’d been forced to read his biography in class and had sniggered behind their hands when they read about the Duce playing with a lion in its cage at the zoo. Marta’s father had told them beforehand that the lion had been toothless.
Soon, the waterbus was tying up at the Redentore stop. Lidia waved as she spotted Marta’s fair hair in the crowd of morning commuters. ‘Ciao,’ she called out.
Marta jostled to the front of the boat and sat herself down. ‘Are you going to be dissecting any more dead bodies this year?’ she asked with a grimace.
‘No, we leave that to the freshmen,’ Lidia grinned. ‘I’m looking forward to learning about all the different diseases instead.’
Marta made a gagging sound. ‘Rather you than me.’ She was studying to be an architect and was far more interested in art than science. ‘At least we’re both doing something with our brains.’ She lowered her voice to a whisper. ‘If Mussolini had his way, we’d be wives and mothers by now.’
Lidia glanced at the people sitting close by. It wouldn’t be a good idea to give voice to her thoughts in public. She pressed a finger to her lips and winked at her friend.
Fifteen minutes later, she and Marta were strolling arm in arm towards Ca’ Foscari. She knew these narrow calli—what Venetians like her called their pedestrianised streets. She knew the bridges spanning the small canals along the way. She knew the squares, or campi. She knew the dark alleyways, so narrow she could reach out and touch both walls with her outstretched hands. This was her city; she knew it like she knew herself.

***

Not many universities in the world were housed in a Gothic palace overlooking a waterway as beautiful as Venice’s Grand Canal, she marvelled as she and Marta stepped into the courtyard. Her breath caught. There was Renzo, tall and handsome as ever. But what was he doing standing on the steps? He’d mentioned only yesterday that he had an early class in the law faculty and would meet her for lunch in the mensa, the canteen where they always ate during term time.
She unhooked her arm from Marta’s. ‘I’ll go and say ciao to Renzo.’
‘Run to your moroso,’ Marta laughed. ‘I’ll wait for you here…’
But Renzo had seen her and was racing down the steps. They met each other in the centre of the courtyard. Her heart skipped a beat as she took in his serious expression. ‘What’s wrong?’
He glanced from one end of the patio to the other before his eyes met hers.
Eyes filled with wretchedness.
‘All Jews have been expelled from the university,’ he said without preamble.
She gasped. ‘What do you mean, “expelled from the university”?’
‘I went to register, and they shoved a piece of paper at me. There’s been a Royal Decree excluding Jews from public office and higher education.’ Renzo’s deep baritone voice seemed to have gone up an octave.
Lidia shook her head. ‘There must be a misunderstanding. They can’t do this to us.’
‘We’re Jews and that’s a good enough reason for them.’
She pressed her lips together. ‘Well, I still think there has been a mistake. This is Italy, not Germany…’
‘We are becoming more like Germany every day.’
‘I hope not.’ She glanced around for Marta, who must have been wondering why she was lingering.
Marta had already started walking towards them. She came up and touched her hand to Lidia’s. ‘We’d better go and register,’ she said.
‘I can’t.’
‘Whyever not?’
Lidia explained, and Marta’s cheeks reddened. ‘I’m so sorry. This makes me ashamed to be Italian.’
‘Renzo and I are Italians too,’ Lidia said. ‘There must be something we can do…’
‘Be careful, cara.’ Renzo put his arm around her shoulder. ‘People are staring at us.’
‘Renzo is right. Don’t call attention to yourselves,’ Marta advised. ‘There are blackshirts posing as students, you know.’
Lidia nodded. She set her jaw, determined not to let the tears of anger and frustration spill from her eyes.
‘We’d better go home.’ Renzo’s hold on her shoulder tightened. ‘Let me walk with you to the vaporetto station.’
‘I’ll catch up with you later, Lidia,’ Marta’s eyes searched her face. ‘After you’ve told your papa.’
O, Dio, Papa. I wonder if he has heard.
‘This will be the final straw for my parents,’ Renzo muttered. ‘They’ve been considering leaving Italy for a while now.’ He squeezed Lidia’s arm. ‘I hope you and your father will come with us…’
Her chest tightened. Leave Venice? Would Papa consider it? And, more to the point, would she? She loved this city and always felt bereft when she left it.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Siobhan Daiko.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #QandAs : Getting Away With Murder – Joy Wood @Joywoodauthor

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘Getting Away With Murder’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Joy Wood has worked as a nurse most of her adult life and turned to writing six years ago to ‘see if she could.’ Her earlier work was adult romance and intrigue, but more recently she has switched genres to romance with a crime element. Joy lives in the small but charming seaside town of Cleethorpes in North East Lincolnshire and her writing ideas come from watching the tide turn daily, of course with the obligatory ice-cream – someone has to support the local economy!

Website
Facebook
Twitter

Synopsis :

Claire is happily married to the charismatic Max Maric and living the dream in a luxury house in the prestigious Sandbanks area of Poole Harbour. She loves her husband and their precious son, Freddy. Her life is perfect. Or so she thinks.
Annabelle is Max Maric’s lover. She’s a wealthy widow and is all set to marry him, just as soon as he’s divorced. Her life will then be perfect. Or so she thinks.
One man, two women, but they can’t both have him.
And he doesn’t get to choose – the schizophrenic decides, with a sophisticated plan to eradicate her nemesis in the most heinous of ways.
The intended victim needs a friend. Fortunately, she has a new one she’s become close to.
But nobody told her that false friends are worse than open enemies.

Purchase Link:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I am a registered nurse with a degree in public health. I’ve always loved reading, but never really thought about writing until six years ago when I just wanted to see if I could write a book. As you can imagine, it took quite a while for my words to become a book, but I’m pleased to say I got there. Becoming involved in the book community has changed my life. Now I can’t imagine not being part of it.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I grew up with Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and Mills and Boon. (I spent years looking for a typical Mills and Boon hero to have in my life!) When I was 12, I sneaked into my mother’s bedroom and started to read the book at the side of her bed that I “could read when I was older.” It was a gem and has stayed with me all my life. The book is ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ by Sidney Sheldon. I still think about how that story transported me away from my young life into a different world as I turned each page.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Barbara Taylor Bradford. I was lucky to win a competition two years ago to attend a book launch where she did a question and answer session with the host of the evening. My goodness me – what a personality. She was captivating and extremely wise.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
The first book that I ever wrote had beautiful identical twin sisters in it (For the Love of Emily). Rebecca was the central character for the book and everything she did/action she took, was for her dear twin Emily who had moderate learning difficulties. I developed her into such a charming, cute and endearing character which readers seemed to fall in love with. I’d love to meet her in real life! I once went to a book club with members who had kindly read the book and wanted to give me feedback. The joy of the evening was them all discussing the lovely Emily. It amused me that she only existed in my head!

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
None whatsoever. Have laptop, will travel. I do seem to consume a lot of biscuits though hence my return when it opened up to my slimming class!

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Not at all. My characters are far removed from real life, however I do use situations that interest me and I’d like to replicate in some form. So beware of telling me any holiday mishaps or family secrets!

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Definitely go with the flow. I always have an idea in my head when I start, but the drama begins at the PC. Somehow, ideas seem to flow for me as I write and I like to develop the characters as ideas spring to mind.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Do’s – get writing. It is so easy to not write. You can find loads of reasons to put it off. I believe in writing and writing and writing until the novel is finished. That said, it isn’t a novel at that stage – it’s just telling me the story.
If you don’t want to write a full story, try a short story, or maybe keep a journal. The key is writing, not thinking too much because if you do, you talk yourself out of it ie ‘I can’t write’ ‘who would want to read my book’ ‘how will I ever get a publisher?’ ‘I can’t self publish, I wouldn’t know how.’ YES YOU CAN to all of those – JUST WRITE!
And don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people out there that have been where you are and are only too willing to pass on tips etc. I’m not an expert but I’m happy to share the way I do things.
Don’ts – have your iPad/iPhone around when writing. Social media kills all creativity. Don’t get drawn in by negative people who try to put you off ie “My aunty wrote a book and only sold 100 copies.’

What are your future plans as an author?
I’m delighted to report that I have just signed a two book deal with Dark Edge Press. I’m really looking forward to working with a traditional publisher as I’ve been independently working alone and self publishing for five years. It will be interesting to see the comparison. I do love self publishing though and sincerely hope to do both. Whether I can remains to be seen. I do hope so as my independent books are on sale locally which is a real boost for a self published author. But I do need to come up with some new ones.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Annabelle attending a regular counselling session.

“That’s reassuring,” George Grey nodded, “but in everyday life, we all suffer with stress, or for want of a better expression, we all come under pressure. My concern is how you are going to handle that when such a situation arises, and more importantly, how your fiancé will react. We’ve worked together on coping strategies but we do need to be mindful that another incident could have huge consequences.”
“Yes, of course. But as I’ve said many times since the episode with my late husband, I am now better. I’m a completely different person. That almost seems like it was somebody else. I’m on a new pathway in my life right now. Nothing like that will happen again with Max and I, I can assure you.”
“But you do understand my apprehension regarding the speed in which you’ve progressed in your relationship. I’m reassured you have explained it all to your fiancé, but I’m somewhat sceptical about him not being unduly worried. No disrespect intended, but I think any man would be that enters into a relationship with a woman with a history such as yours.”
“Yes, but he’s relieved I have you helping me to move on as well as being thankful the courts were lenient. He knows I was ill at the time and is sympathetic about that. I’ve reassured him that I’m on medication to control everything. Dr Stead said as long as I keep taking that, he sees no reason for me to ever go back to that dark and dismal place.”
“Has Dr Stead suggested that your fiancé accompanies you to any sessions with him?”
“No. He didn’t seem to think that was necessary.”
“I see. Then we must trust his professional opinion even if he and I differ. You’ve been doing well with the bespoke programme, and we want to make sure that continues. But your life is going to change dramatically when you get married. Part of my role is overseeing your sustained positive mental health, but also I feel I have a responsibility to ensure that a man who has become central in your life, is aware of the potential chance at some stage of a reoccurrence of a negative episode which could put him in danger.”
“Fine,” she said firmly, “I’ll discuss it in greater depth with him then.”
“That’s my advice. While I can’t force you to bring your fiancé with you to one of our sessions, I am suggesting that he does accompany you. One session most probably would be all we’d need together.”
“Right, well, I’ll think about it. But before I do anything, is my medical history confidential? If I choose not to tell . . . elaborate further about my diagnosis, nobody else gets to know but you and Dr Stead, do they?”
She glared at George Grey knowing the answer but wanted to remind him of his place. He wasn’t controlling her relationship with Max.
His face remained deadpan. “Of course your medical history is confidential. But we find ourselves in uncharted waters here. And as you’ve said yourself, you’ve explained everything that has happened to your fiancé, therefore,” he peered over his glasses at her, “I’m finding it difficult to comprehend why you would object to him gaining more information. Information which could protect him and give him a greater awareness of how to support you if in the future you find your mood . . . fluctuating.”
She needed to remain calm. Best to fake tiredness and get out of there.
“Look . . . with respect, I’ve spoken to Dr Stead and he’s happy with me and my medication. And I’ve done as you previously suggested and explained everything that has happened to my fiancé. I’m feeling rather tired today and have a splitting headache. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to cut today’s session short.”
“Of course. Just one thing that has occurred to me. You say you’ve explained everything. How clear have you been?”
“I don’t know what you mean?”
“Have you told your fiancé there was an accident and your husband died?” he paused giving her time to digest what he was saying . . . “or have you explained it was you that killed him?”

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Joy Wood.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

The Year Before the End (Sovereign Earth Book 1) #TheYearBeforeTheEnd #SovereignEarth – Vidar Hokstad @BoundGalaxy @GalaxyBoundNews , an #Interview #QandA

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

blog-q&a

Today I’m not on a blogtour, but doing my own interview with Vidar Hokstad, author of ‘The Year Before the End’, to promote his book!
Before I let you read my Q&As, I’ll first post some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Vidar Hokstad grew up near Oslo, Norway. He started writing at an early age, but put it aside to focus on technology – his other passion. He has co-founded a number of technology companies, and moved to London with one of them in 2000.
Ca. 2016 he started thinking about an expansive series of sci-fi novels that became “Galaxy Bound”, but put aside for other commitments. In 2020 he picked it up again, and wrote and published the first Galaxy Bound novel.
Vidar lives in London with his son.

Blog
Website
Twitter Book Series
Twitter Author
GoodReads Author Page
BookBub
Amazon Author Page

Synopsis :

Forty years ago humanity found out we were not alone. The Centauri offered us the galaxy.
With one year to go before the gate is ready, Captain Zara Ortega learns of a conspiracy between Mars separatists and the Centauri to split the solar system between them. The crew of the ship Black Rain goes on a daring raid from one of the most well-guarded stations in the system to uncover the truth, but an attack on their ship raises more questions.
A meeting with their contact near Mars goes badly wrong and leads them into a chase through the asteroid belt in a desperate bid for survival.
Deceit and betrayal have put not just their lives on the line, but the future of humanity.

Amazon

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’m 46, born and raised near Oslo, Norway. I started writing when I was around 15, mostly poetry but I also started on a draft of a very pretentiously literary novel that I worked on now and again for several years. I studied computer science, but left to found a company, and since then working one a tech startup or other consumed a huge portion of my time and I sort of relegated writing to the occasional little scribble, or technical writing.
Then recently I decided I wanted to pick it up again and actually complete a novel (someone cruel might make me feel old by suggesting it was a midlife crisis of sorts…) I started drafting ideas for a setting and quickly decided I wanted to write a series of novels that could be read as freestanding work but that also has an overarching story, so I could really expand on the universe and setting.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child I was all-consuming when it came to books. Lots of sci-fi, ranging from the classics – Jules Verne, HG Wells etc. Westerns. Fantasy. Biographies. It’s very hard to pick favourites, but since she is an enduring influence, I’ll bring up two Ursula Le Guin novels that stand out: A Wizard of Earthsea (and all the rest of the Earthsea novels are amazing too), and Left Hand of Darkness. Le Guin brought her interest in anthropology to creating worlds that were not just patchworks of “cool stuff”, but that holds up when you look at the social structures and society. Both fantasy and scifi often suffer from writers that throw something in without considering how it would affect the society they’re describing.
As a grown up… To be honest what I read haven’t changed all that much. A larger portion might be scifi today. Apart from Le Guin, a few long time favourites would be Iain Banks Culture novels; anything by Philip K Dick; Kim Stanley Robinson’s Three Californias and Mars trilogies. There’s a theme there, I think, of me liking books that does lots of world-building, and that questions reality (PKD in particular, but Three California’s are tree novels set in three different alternative future version of California). The world-building part is mirrored in my own writing (at least the volume of it). I might have picked up the worst of KSR’s habits in that respect, because they’re part of what I love about scifi.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Ursula Le Guin. Unfortunately she is dead. And frankly, more than advice, I’d just have liked to have been able to talk to her about anything. Judging from her writing – including her non-fiction writing, and her website and poems – she was just an amazing person. That she was also an amazing writer is almost secondary. I’d love to be able to write as well as she did, but she’d be interesting to talk to even if she’d never written a single book.
In terms of a specific why, I’d say the level of thought she put into making sure her worlds made sense is something I think about a lot, and would love to have her expand on.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
There are so many, and frankly I feel like my answer is in part because I know how the story will end for her: Clarice Morgan from my own novels, probably the version from where she’ll end up at the end of the series. She’s a geek like me, and a hacker, but with an attitude to life that is a lot more risk-taking and adventurous than me. As she starts out in the first book, she’s young and relatively inexperienced but have already on purpose replaced both her eyes with cybernetic replacements with all kinds of additional features. In book 2 she has brain surgery – on purpose – on an alien space station. She’s fearless, and as the story develops she’ll toughen up a lot.
She wasn’t really meant to be the hero, but one of the first comments back from my editor was that they thought I’d intended for Zo (the Captain) to be the main character, but really it seems like the main character is Clarice. There’s an ensemble, in the crew, and over time other characters, that are all important, and Zo is absolutely a critical character in that she drives a lot of the plot, but Clarice was more fun to write.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Not really. I write scene by scene, and the biggest challenge for me is to force myself to sit down and write. When I start, I can just sit and write for hours.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I’m quite the introvert, and frankly find it exhausting to smalltalk with people about their life. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just draining. Even with books I am rarely interested in the people, but the concepts and the world-building. That makes coming up with the characters challenging as well, because it’s not really what I want to read – or write. I have to force myself to write dialogue instead of all narrative.
So in terms of ideas, they’re all concept based, not character based. I hope I manage to make the characters relatable, and frankly I’ve come to enjoy particularly writing Zo (the Captain of the ship) and Clarice more than I thought, but the characters are there to support a larger story, not to be the story. Hence why I have not hesitated to kill off crew-members (twice so far…)
That’s the long way of saying people in my life don’t need to be worried, because I invent details to fit the story, rather than develop a character and build the story around them. Since nobody I know have been out adventuring in space, and my focus is on what they do, there’s not much to copy.
That said, at one point I just knew how the series (the overall meta-arc, not the current 6-book cycle) should end, and it ironically makes it a lot more character focused than I intended. In a sense it’s helpeful because it forces me to keep the character development in mind to get them where they need to be.
Really, the overall ideas tends to just come to me by thinking about an end-point, and focusing on the constraints of the setting, and then considering what needs to happen to create a conflict and resolve it within that, and iterate.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I started writing The Year Before the End without a plan first time, and it did not work for me. I can write smaller chunks – ~3000 words or so, maybe – without a plan easily, and so I’ve not been used to plan writing before.
When I hit the wall on The Year Before the End first time around, I spent a few months trying to figure out what to do, and stumbled on Randy Ingermanson’s “Snowflake Method”. It’s basically based on the self-similarity of snowflakes – a mathematical idea called “fractals” – which applied to my computer science background. The quick and dirty summary is to start by describing your story and characters in a line, then expand to a paragraph. Fill in more details. Write a scene list. Each step takes the preceding and just expands on it. You can do that to an arbitrary level of detail. If you want, you can adapt it to write a full, huge outline. Or you can stop early.
For me, it turns out, what is enough is to write a paragraph, then expand that to a rough description of each part of a 3-act structure, and the a scene list. I’m not strict about following a 3-act structure, but it helps ensuring there’s a conflict, and a goal, and a clear point of no return, and a resolution, that sets constraints that the story can develop around. The last part – the scene list – is most important for me. It lets me set a rough word-count “budget” to write to. When I can break everything down to 1k-3k chunks, I know I have enough detail to just write. Suddenly I’m writing a few dozen short stories, and that comes easy.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
I think the above really is the best tip I have. Check out the Snowflake method. It may not be a perfect fit, but the point is that it’s easy to adapt. Think you can write a whole novel from a one paragraph synopsis? Go for it. If it doesn’t work, expand that paragraph into a page or four, and try continuing from that. Need a full outline? Just iterate and expand. I don’t believe in one size fits all solutions – I’ve not even been consistent about how I’ve used it for book 1, 2 and now when working on the third one. But it doesn’t matter.
Also don’t worry about writing something perfect. If I kept iterating until I was content, I’d never release anything. I on purpose have set myself very strict limits on how much editing I’m allowed to do, to force me to publish rather than keep polishing.

What are your futureplans as an author?
Basically I’ve mapped out an overarching plot that I can turn into ~60 books or so. I can do it in fewer, and I can probably stretch it out, but for the moment the plan is 60, following rouhgly a 3 act structure. Within that, there’s about 10 cycles of about 6 books each, with each cycle roughly following a 3 act structure with a plot of their own. So there’s a resolution within each cycle. So that leaves me with 58 books to write (one of which are in progress)…
On top of that I’m writing some short stories (some are on my website), in a different setting – much more concept-based (focused on AI, and the idea we might live in a simulation), and I have a lose idea of turning that into another ten or so books with a mix of short-stories and novels. But we’ll see.
So that should keep me busy for 15-25 years, if I can sustain it… I like big plans.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
This part introduces Clarice’s augmented eyes, and I think it also introduces her “hacker attitude” – the “why not?” as an answer to a question of why you want to try something, and part of what I like about her. I think it also gives some of the flavour – I’ll be honest and tell you and your reader that if you don’t like the level of “technical detail” here, my books might be frustrating at first. For me, this is me geeking out over an idea I absolutely love (incidentally, the idea comes from an article in Wired 10.09 about a real experiment to restore vision by directly interfacing to the brain):

Clarice smiled gently as her irises started glowing faintly blue and illuminated her pale face and straight black hair in a way that made her look ethereal.
Zo rolled her eyes in an exaggerated manner and smiled back.
Most of the crew were augmented in some way, but most in less obvious ways. Visible augmentation was not fashionable in most circles—only techies or those wanting to rebel would wear noticeable augmentation and ignore consideration of the status implications.
Zo knew Clarice had replaced her first eye at eighteen, her second less than a year later. Even most of those who went as far as that opted for eyes that would mimic biological eyes as closely as possible. Clarice’s did too, most of the time—but she could change eye color at will, or go for even more dramatic changes. That wasn’t why she’d augmented, though.
The rest of the crew settled for wearing contacts that doubled as screens, alternating between overlays or “blacking out” the iris as a polite signal to their surroundings that their whole field of view had been switched to screen mode.
But Clarice’s glowed faintly blue and pulsed slowly between different hues as she got busy reprogramming the navigation computer.
Unlike the contact screens, her eyes still took in everything, and computers processed the signal, ready to notify her or switch to regular sight at a moment’s notice if something happened. And when she did see, the lenses in her bionic eyes gave her far superior sight—able to widen her viewing angles, zoom in far beyond the capability of biological eyes, as well as improved night vision and various filtering.
When they first met, the captain asked her why. It wasn’t like she’d normally need any of that. Maybe now, on her crew, but not back then.
Clarice’s answer was, “Why not?” To her, technology was its own reason, and her limits on augmentation were down to cost and how exciting they seemed, not whether or not she needed it. The rest of the crew occasionally speculated about what else she had augmented that she hadn’t told them about, but didn’t dare ask.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Vidar Hokstad.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #QandAs : Trail of the Jaguar – Jonathan Hanson

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘Trail of the Jaguar’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Jonathan Hanson grew up northeast of Tucson, Arizona, with Sabino and Bear Canyons as his backyard, providing him with years of desert expeditions, hunting like the Apaches and building wickiups (which failed spectacularly).
He has since written for a score of outdoor and adventure magazines including Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Nature Conservancy, and Global Adventure, and has authored a dozen books on subjects including natural history, sea kayaking, wildlife tracking, and expedition travel.
Jonathan’s exploration experience encompasses land- and sea-scapes on six continents, from the Atacama Desert to the Beaufort Sea, from the Rift Valley to the Australian Outback, and modes of transportation from sea kayaks to sailboats to bicycles to Land Cruisers.
He has traveled among and worked with cultures as diverse as the Seri Indians and the Himba, the Inuit and the Maasai. Jonathan has taught tracking, natural history writing, four-wheel-driving techniques, and other subjects for many conservation and government organizations.
He is an elected fellow of the Explorers Club and the Royal Geographical Society, and a charter member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and lives in Southern Arizona with his wife of 37 years, Roseann Beggy Hanson.
You can follow Jonathan’s Overland Tech and Travel blog and order signed books at ExploringOverland.com.

Social Media Links:
Facebook
Instagram

Synopsis :

Biologist and wildlife photographer Clayton Porter witnesses what appears to be a routine drug-smuggling flight across the Arizona-Mexico border. Instead, he uncovers a sophisticated operation involving a secret lodge high in the Sierra Madre, canned hunts for endangered jaguars, a ring of opioid-dealing doctors in the U.S., and a string of cartel victims partially consumed by a large predator. After he unwittingly throws a wrench into the works, Porter becomes a target of revenge, and resorts to skills from his military service to save himself and those close to him.

Purchase Link

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Thank you for the opportunity!

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I grew up in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona, immersed in nature when I wasn’t off in the fantasy worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs or H. Rider Haggard. This set me on a path to becoming a wilderness guide, a safari leader in Kenya and Tanzania, and a freelance writer for publications such as Outside and National Geographic Adventure. I’ve written a dozen non-fiction books, both solo and with my wife, Roseann, on natural history subjects. The fantasy worlds and the natural history finally came together in my first novel, Trail of the Jaguar.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I devoured everything to do with Africa, from Tarzan to Livingstone, as well as the history of the American West and the Mountain Men. I still love histories of all kinds, and I still love well-crafted action/adventure escapism.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I adore Michael Korda’s biography of T.E. Lawrence, Hero. I would love to ask him how he was able to make Lawrence so sympathetic while at the same time being utterly rigorous in his research and in documenting the man’s sometimes-tortured psyche.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I feel like I already know my own characters pretty well! So I’m going to say Allan Quatermain from H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines. He could tell some good tales.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Not really. I usually start writing around 7:00 AM unless I go for a bicycle ride (alternate days). I generally have a second cup of coffee around 10:00. Kinda boring, huh?

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Well, my wife does raise an eyebrow at my more violent concepts now and then. But my ideas come from everywhere. I’m a voracious reader; I love to travel, I follow news from around the world. All input is good input! Every time I think I’m going overboard on a fictional plot, all I have to do is look at world headlines to realize my imagination could never outstrip reality.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
The general plot comes first, but only as a broad outline. From there the story finds me.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Only write what you are passionate about. Craft every sentence as if it were the first one. Be accurate in all real-world details, even in fiction. Put 25 percent of your energy into the opening of your book (or article), another 25 percent into the end, and the rest in the middle.

What are your future plans as an author?
I am working on a sequel to Trail of the Jaguar, which will take Clayton Porter from the southwestern U.S. to the Canadian Arctic

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Sure! Here’s a passage from an incident in the early part of the book, narrated by the protagonist, Clayton Porter, and involving his friend Jedediah Carson, an octogenarian ex-Green Beret. And a cat named Pounce.

“Jed!” I bellowed at the house, although I knew there’d be no response.
I went straight for the door, up the porch and through the opening, completely sun-blind. I sidestepped to get my silhouette out of the light, and swept the room with the Colt’s muzzle. Slowly my pupils dilated.
Jed lay on his back under a shattered window, Winchester leaning against his chest, coagulated blood caking the Two Grey Hills rug beneath him. Too much blood.
I ignored him. There was every chance his assailants had left someone behind to ambush me, and wherever Jed was now he would never forgive me if I took one in the back of the head while crying over his body.
Clearing a building bears no relation to what you see in the movies, with the hero peering through doorways one pie slice at a time. Clearing is tactically the most stupid thing you can do, since your enemy has had time to situate himself behind cover you know not where, almost completely hidden, while you have to expose yourself at every opening. Unless it’s a hostage situation it’s better to just stand back and toss in grenades. But I had no grenades, so I simply went through the house at full speed, hoping a first shot at me would miss and betray the location of the shooter.
Kitchen—clear. Bathroom—clear. Sally’s sewing room—clear. Jaqueline’s room and closet—clear.
I went through the main bedroom door and swept from the left side with the muzzle of the pistol.
Wrong direction. A flash of movement to my right. I spun and crouched, tucking the weapon tight so it couldn’t be grabbed and swiveling it toward the oncoming blur, finger taking up the last gram on the trigger.
Pounce landed on my shoulders, clinging there and mrowling plaintively.
Bloody hell. “Jesus, buddy,” I said. I stroked his head while I cleared the master bath one-handed.
I went back down the hallway to the living room, Pounce sticking to me like a barbed limpet. I looked through the back window into the patio. Nothing there. I went back to the front door to check the yard one more time, really just putting off what I needed to do next.
There was a voice. Not from the yard, but the floor. Garbled and fluid-filled, but a recognizable baritone nonetheless.
“Whenever you’re finished . . . makin’ out with the damn cat . . . do you think you could . . . call me a medic?”

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Jonathan Hanson.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #ZooloosBookTours @zooloo2008 / #QandAs : Death Rains Down #DeathRainsDown #DetectiveRayLogue – Kevin McManus @bassbreeze #SpellBoundsBooks @SpellBoundBks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘Death Rains Down’ blogtour, organized by Zooloo’s Book Tours.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Kevin McManus is an Irish author. He primarily writes Crime Fiction novels but also delves into writing poetry and short stories. He lives in County Leitrim in Western Ireland with his wife Mary and their dog Jack. He works by day as a secondary school teacher. Kevin has produced a series of novels featuring an Irish Detective called Ray Logue and a series based around a New York Detective called John Morrigan. His debut novel published in 2016 was “The Whole of the Moon”. In a previous incarnation, Kevin was a bass guitarist in several rock bands for over twenty year. Kevin is a supporter of Aston Villa FC which has caused him to age prematurely.

Facebook
Twitter
Amazon

Synopsis :

Introducing Detective Ray Logue. A renegade, hard living & damaged cop. Full of Irish charm & the best detective in Port Ard.
Detective Ray Logue has become something of a maverick in Jim Mulcahy’s police department, having never quite got over the death of his wife 12 years earlier.
Now a hard-drinking loner and occasional loose cannon, Logue is a thorn in Mulcahy’s side, who occasionally crosses the fine line of taking the law into his own hands to see justice served.
As the body count starts to rise, Logue suspects he may have stumbled into a dangerous web of lies and cover-ups, stretching from his own department all the way to the very top of the political spectrum.
From the law-enforcers to the law-makers, from respectable businessmen to Russian mobsters – a sinister hand is exercising an iron grip across the whole social order and it will destroy anyone who dares get in its way.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
My name is Kevin McManus. I am a writer of mainly Crime fiction. I live in Western Ireland with my wife, Mary and our dog, Jack. I work as a secondary school teacher by day.
In terms of how I became a writer, I dabbled with poetry as a teenager and that turned into dabbling with writing song lyrics as a young adult when I got involved with bands. I always liked words and the sounds that they make. I had a brilliant English teacher at secondary school. He inspired a love for reading in me and for writing. He also inspired me to become a teacher.
I always loved the crime genre. Whether it was reading crime novels or watching crime movies. However, when I began writing my first novel. “The whole of the Moon” it was not a conscious decision to write a crime novel. It began as a story about growing up in rural Ireland and the study of the relationship between the three central characters, but as the plot developed, I introduced a crime aspect into it and when it was published it was marketed by the book company as a crime novel. I then began thinking about writing a more straightforward crime novel and this led to the first in the Detective Ray Logue novels: “Death rains down”.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child I read tonnes of comic books and I was always inventing my own comic book stories. My head was always stuck in Marvel comics and British comics like 2000 AD. I was obsessed with science fiction. I loved Star Wars and started to read short science fiction and fantasy novels as a result when I was about 12. Roger Zelazny, Harry Harrison, Philip K. Dick. Arthur C. Clarke, Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard etc.
My favourite novel always has been and always will be Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It has everything, incredible descriptions of the Yorkshire Moors, love, death and the supernatural. Heathcliff is probably the greatest literary character ever created. A close second is 1984 by George Orwell, it has so much to say about the world we live in today.
My books are crime novels, but I read a lot of different genres. I like Charles Bukowski, Dermot Healy, Ken Bruen, Henning Mankell, Thomas Harris, James Ellroy, Franz Kafka, Dennis Lehane, and Ian Rankin.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Ian Rankin is a brilliant writer and I adore his creation, Rebus. I have never met Ian. It would be such a pleasure to talk with him and to learn about his craft. His stories, characters and settings are so well developed. I think he is a master of the crime genre.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I would like to go for a pint with Ray Logue from my book “Death Rains Down”. He probably would be an entertaining companion on a pub crawl.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I like to listen to music, but it has to be instrumental. I can’t listen to songs with lyrics, I start to focus on the words too much and that distracts me from writing. I constantly listen to “The Blue Notebooks” by Max Richter at present. I find it is just perfect to write along to.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Generally from TV news stories or newspapers. I often google about unsolved murder cases for ideas.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I generally have a vague idea about the story outline for the first three or four chapters but after that it is more interesting and nerve wrecking when you have no idea where the story will take you. The plot can change multiple times as you write more and more chapters. Inspiration arrives as you write.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Just go for it. Have confidence in yourself, get it down on paper, you can always rewrite and edit your work afterwards. Read as much as you can, try to mirror great writers in your chosen genre but also bring in your own ideas. Don’t worry about all these so-called rules of writing. Just write in a style that you are comfortable in.
I think patience is very important, we all think that we are going to be the next big thing overnight. It takes years to build up a following. In reality most of us will never become literary super stars but if some people around the world enjoy reading your books that is a real achievement.

What are your futureplans as an author?
Just keep writing and improve how I write.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?

“She never heard the footsteps coming up behind her, the first sensation was something being wrapped and twisted around her neck. Her hands instinctively shot upwards to pull at what was strangling her, to try to free herself but her strength did not match the force that was pulling it tight. Anna tried to wheel around, to scratch or kick at her attacker. But she was losing strength. She was choking, losing oxygen. As the attacker pulled and twisted the rope, her feet were lifted off the floor. Anna dug deep to find her last reserves of energy. Her final breaths were used trying to force her fingers under the rope to free her throat. But it was in vain.
She collapsed to the floor and her eyes gave one final turn towards the large bay window and the light of the early afternoon sun as she dreamt up images in her mind of happy days back home in Poland with her mother and sister.”

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Kevin McManus.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #Review : Blooming Murder (The Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries Book 1) – Simon Whaley @simonwhaley

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free.
I’m grateful of receiving a free copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review of this book. –

About the Author :

Simon Whaley is an author, writer and photographer who lives in the hilly bit of Shropshire. Blooming Murder is the first in his Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the idyllic Welsh Borders – a place many people struggle to locate on a map (including by some of those who live here). He’s written several non-fiction books, many if which contain his humorous take on the world, including the bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human and two editions in the hugely popular Bluffer’s Guide series (The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs and The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking). His short stories have appeared in Take A Break, Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, The Weekly News and The People’s Friend. Meanwhile his magazine articles have delighted readers in a variety of publications including BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Coast, The Simple Things and Country Walking.
Simon lives in Shropshire (which just happens to be a Welsh Border county) and, when he gets stuck with his writing, he tramps the Shropshire hills looking for inspiration and something to photograph. Some of his photographs appear on the national and regional BBC weather broadcasts under his BBC WeatherWatcher nickname of Snapper Simon. (For those of you who don’t know, they get a lot of weather in Shropshire.)

Social Media Links:
Twitter
Facebook

Synopsis :

MURDER IS BLOSSOMING IN THE WELSH BORDERS.
Aldermaston’s having a bad day. A falling hanging-basket has killed the town’s mayor, and a second narrowly missed him. His wife wants him to build her new greenhouse in three days, and some nutter is sending him death threats.
This isn’t the quiet life he expected as the new Marquess of Mortiforde.
It’s the annual Borders in Blossom competition, and Mortiforde is battling with Portley Ridge in the final. But this is no parochial flower competition. The mayor’s mishap looks like murder, and there’s another body in the river. Someone desperately wants Portley Ridge to win for the fifteenth successive year.
So when a mysterious group of guerrilla gardeners suddenly carpet bomb Mortiforde with a series of stunning floral delights one night, a chain reaction of floral retaliation ensues.
Can Aldermaston survive long enough to uncover who is trying to kill him, and why? And can he get his wife’s greenhouse built in time?

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Review :

‘Blooming Murder’ is the first of a new series and a good story I thoroughly enjoyed.
The story has a lot of twists and turns to keep you guessing who the culprit is and the characters are so quirky they made me laugh a lot.
Furthermore it’s written so greatly it kept me turning pages.
A funny and entertaining cozy mystery!
It sounds maybe weird, but I hope there will be murders a plenty on the Welsh borders.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds