Readers, I thank you

Recently I was invited to a book club gathering. The group read was Skin Deep and they were keen to meet with me and ask questions. It’s always nerve-wracking meeting readers even though I have had mostly good experiences and I enjoy it. After a wobble, I accepted the kind invitation.

On arrival in a fluster – late, I lost my way – and anxious I was told that the group (of 12) had eight senior medics and was given a quick run-through of the books they’d considered excellent of late. There were a lot of Booker prize listed novels, most were literary. My stomach knotted tighter. Three (I recall) of the medics were high ranking paediatricians. Jeepers, neither I nor my book are clever enough for this lot, I thought.

An excellent dinner was supplied by the host – lovely Sue – which we ate and made polite conversation. They were a lively and engaging bunch. And then, it time to talk about Skin Deep

I introduced the book, my influences and the journey. As one might expect, the first question concerned Cal’s medical condition. I explained it was fictional, deliberately non-specific, and I had known from the outset with absolute certainty that it would not be based on an actual condition; I would pick and mix from a number of sources. And I spoke about why this felt important: I would not want any individual – or relative, or friend of a person with a deformity – to think that they ‘were’ Cal; that they were ‘ugly’. We spoke of parental consent, abuse, exploitation, unconditional love, the visual world we live in and whether or not we can escape the pressures of this.

And then various members of group spoke of the characters, the details they’d enjoyed or admired, plot points and authorial choices, and I was blown away by what close, attentive readers they were. They talked about things I’d forgotten about! As I drove home I felt honoured they’d given so much to my book and I reminded myself that it is an honour when someone chooses to read your work, invests hours in this world in which there are a great many others demands on our time.

So, this is me, saying a huge THANK YOU to readers – those of the Westdene Book Club and others out there in the big wide world. You are why we authors do what we do.

 

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The Unbeatable Bard: A Review of Beth Miller’s For The Love of Shakespeare

My copy of Beth's brilliant book with fave bits post-it-ed!

My copy of Beth’s brilliant book with fave bits post-it-ed!

Prior to writing for a living, I was a professional actress so when the opportunity arose to review Beth Miller’s companion guide to the world’s most famous dramatist there was no way I was going to refuse. I adore Shakespeare, though I never did get to play one of his characters. I performed in many of his contemporaries’ works but not the great man’s. Pisht!

Like the book’s author, it wasn’t always thus. I loathed the bard at school. Along with my classmates I stared baffled and bored at a battered copy of the Dream. I fell in love during a performance of the Scottish play at Theatre Clwyd. It was the appearance of the witches that did it – mesmerising performances from the three actresses. If you’re tiring of my waffling, please do bear with. I share because Beth Miller opens her book with her ‘switched on’ moment, also during a performance: a charming, and funny, anecdote from her teenage years and it sets the tone for the book perfectly.

If you’re a fan already you’ll love this book and if you’re not it could persuade you to give old Shakie a bash. It’s wonderful.

For The Love of Shakespeare is not designed to be read cover to cover – though I did, ‘cos I’m geeky – but to be dipped in as and when. Nor is it designed for the super-serious scholar. Right up my alley then.

The first 50-odd pages are rammed with background information – gems on the man himself, the times, his world. Did you know George Bernard Shaw wasn’t a fan and would have liked to dig Will up and throw stones at him? Me neither.

After the introduction Miller divides the guide into three main sections: the Comedies, the Histories and the Tragedies; with shorter chapters on the bard’s poetry, the apocryphal plays (those whose authorship is in dispute) and his legacy.

The plot of each play is explained in conversational English, followed with the plot in a nutshell – a phrase invented by Shakespeare along with a zillion others we use today, many of which Miller shares. These nutshell plots are often hilarious. Of Antony and Cleopatra Miller writes: ‘Antony learns the hard way that mixing business with pleasure is a bad idea.’ And of Macbeth: McGame of Thrones meets The Apprentice, with knives. Plot summaries are followed by other notable characters and a body count. There are ‘Did You Know?’ sections and quotable lines, and peppered throughout are interviews with people closely associated with Shakespeare today (actors, directors, academics and the like) which are also utterly delightful.

Not only is the information that Miller has lovingly and painstakingly researched fascinating, she delivers her material in such a warm and witty style whether you’re a Will fan or not it’s an entertaining read. Perfect for a quick overview for not-too-keen young students – I’ll certainly encourage my son to read Miller’s thoughts on the plays he’s studying (Romeo & Juliet, another of my favourites, A Midsummer Night’s Dream – definitely not one of my favourites, and Macbeth. Love) – and for someone who’s perhaps being dragged to the theatre reluctantly. And for those already smitten there’s plenty of fresh material.

A witty, informed guide infused with love and a healthy dash of irreverence. Fab-u-lous.

My thanks to the publisher, Summersdale and TBC (Facebook Group); I was given a book in return for an honest review.

2016: Brilliant books, according to me

In common with many people, 2016 has been a tricky and often difficult year for me but the pleasure and stimulation (intellectual, emotional and creative) I receive from reading has remained constant. Thank goodness for books. Beautiful books.

Since I began this blog in 2010 it has become customary to share my favourite reads as the year draws to its close. They are not necessarily works first published in the year; they are not necessarily prize winners (though sometimes they are) and they come from a wide range of genres. I’m an eclectic reader and it’s a very personal list. The following impressed me enormously. In no particular order:

Fiction

Bashed up proof copy. BigFella read & also loved. And dropped it in the bath.This Must Be The Place, Maggie O’Farrell

A huge canvas; an intimate and expansive examination of a marriage.  Quite simply genius.

 

Animals, Emma Jane Unsworthimg_2608

A tale of two not-quite-ready-to-be-grown-up 30somethings, this book made me laugh and cry in recognition. Unsworth writes with enormous wit and compassion, and an uncanny ability to cut to the heart of female friendship. Brilliant.

img_2614The Versions of Us, Laura Barnett

With its satisfyingly complex structure this novel explores three possible outcomes of the lives of two Cambridge undergraduates who meet – or not – in the 1950s. Spanning 50 years, it is involving, rich and clever.

 

We Go Around in the Night and Are Consumed by Fire, Jules Grantimg_2609

One of the reasons I love this novel is because it vividly portrays a world I hitherto knew little about: the female criminal gangs of contemporary Manchester. The voices of gang leader, Donna, and her lover’s daughter Ror, are raw and, surprisingly, poetic. Stunning.

img_2615Summertime, Vanessa Lafaye

A historical love story centred around a true event, a hurricane, in 1930s Florida. The veterans’ tale is a shocking and shameful blemish on American history, brought vividly and compassionately to life. Thrilling and sad.

 

Stargazing, Kate Glanvilleimg_2616

A warm and touching family drama exploring serious issues like family breakup, domestic abuse and falling for the right person. Moving.

img_2612Sandlands, Rosy Thorton

A collection of sixteen diverse tales set in and around one coastal village in Suffolk.  Poignant, unsettling and often extremely funny. Magical.

 

 

Wake, Anna Hopeimg_2613

There are many books covering the Great War but few are as powerful and memorable as this one. Pegged to the search for the Unknown Soldier Wake covers three women’s stories.  Unforgettable.

51d7b-eedl-_sx318_bo1204203200_Where Love Lies, Julie Cohen

This has all the fabulous Cohen trademarks: warmth, insight, tenderness, and it really stands out. It was shamefully overlooked on its release in my humble opinion. I suspect this is because the hook is impossible to talk about without spoilers. Suffice to say: read it. It’s wonderful. Poignant and tender.

 

Non-fiction

The Outrun, Amy Liptrotimg_2606

A searing, honest, unsentimental account of one woman’s recovery from alcoholism and the transformative power of nature and home. I want to visit remote Scottish islands (despite the brutal weather) after reading this book. Outstanding.

img_2611Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit

Solnit’s history of activism and social change over the past 50 years (first published in 2005 – revised and updated in 2016) is as important now as it ever was. A case for hope, arguably we need it now more than ever.

 

There we have it. Now it only remains for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Let’s hope 2017 is a good one.

Laura x

Guest post from Jennifer Ash, author of The Outlaw’s Ransom

The Outlaw’s Ransom: Mathilda of Twyford

First of all, I must thank my lovely friend Laura for allowing me to visit her site as part of my first blog tour as Jennifer Ash (I have loitered here once or twice before under the guise of Jenny Kane.)

It’s always a treat to have you over, whether you’re Jenny or ‘newbie’ Jennifer!

outlaws-ransom-finalWithin The Outlaw’s Ransom, my fourteenth century protagonist is a nineteen year old woman called, Mathilda of Twyford. In the medieval period, nineteen was the age of a full grown woman. Most would be married and have children by that age. Mathilda however, is single, as she’s been looking after her father and brothers, running the home and the family pottery business since the death of her mother. That situation however, changes abruptly when she is forced to get to know the notorious Folville family rather better than she would have liked.

Suddenly, Mathilda finds herself surrounded by criminals and under a very frightening type of suspicion…

Blurb

The first in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash.

When craftsman’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers, as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life.  Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for disregarding the law – and for using any means necessary to deliver their brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things…

A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy.

***

Put aside any images of women being weak in the middle ages to one side- they may well have been put upon, forgotten, and taken for granted maybe, but weak? Never. Or at least, not for long.

Women in the fourteenth century had to be strong-willed, as well as physically strong, or they’d never have survived. Even putting aside the obvious pressures and problems of childbirth, they ran family businesses alongside their men folk, kept the house, dealt with all the food, and raised the children. In fact, it all sounds fairly familiar!

I’ve never been keen on the idea of writing weak characters; be they male or female. Such characters frequently fail to hold the interest of a reader, often frustrating you into wishing they’d just grasp the metaphorical nettle and get on with it- whatever, ‘it’ is!

In the case of The Outlaw’s Ransom, it was particularly important for me to have a determined, capable and intelligent female in the driving seat. I wanted Mathilda to not just survive within her enforced hostile environment, but to hold her own, and show the Folville brothers that they were dealing with a feisty, clever, woman who could give as good as she got!

Here’s a little taster from the very start of the story, where you meet Mathilda at her most disadvantaged. A position from which she grows determined to kick some serious medieval butt….

Extract

Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.

As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.

Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.

Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.

Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her.

Wrapping her thin arms around her chest, Mathilda pulled up her hood, hugged her grey woollen surcoat tighter about her shoulders, and sent an unspoken prayer of thanks to Our Lady for the fact that her legs were covered.

She’d been helping her two brothers, Matthew and Oswin, to catch fish in the deeper water beyond the second of Twyford’s fords when the men had come. Mathilda had been wearing an old pair of Matthew’s hose, rolled up past her knees, but no stockings or shoes. She thought longingly of her warm footwear, discarded earlier with such merry abandon. She’d thrown haphazardly beneath a tree in her eagerness to join the boys in their work. It was one of the only jobs their father gave them that could have been considered fun.

Mathilda closed her eyes, angry as the tears she’d forbidden herself to shed defied her and fell anyway. With them came weariness. It consumed her, forcing her to sink lower onto the rotten floor. Water dripped into her lank red hair. The tussle of her capture had loosened Mathilda’s neatly woven plait and now it hung awkwardly, half in and half out of its bindings, like a badly strapped sheaf of straw.

She tried not to start blaming her father, but it was difficult not to. Why hadn’t he told her he’d borrowed money from the Folvilles? It was an insane thing to do. Only the most desperate …

Mathilda stopped her thoughts in their tracks. They were disloyal and pointless.

They’d been relatively well-off when Mathilda was younger. They’d owned four horses, chickens, a cow and a goat, and three furlongs for planting vegetables and a small amount of wheat. There was also the pottery shed and kiln where her father made his tableware and cooking pots, and a small orchard which backed onto the two-roomed house. Slowly, over the past few years, it had almost all been sold off. Only the workhouse, orchard, one horse and cart, and a single furlong remained.

Now she had nothing to do but think, Mathilda realised that her father had been that desperate. . He’d been a tall man once, but since his forty-fifth year he’d dwindled, his beard dappled with more grey by the day. It was as if he’d become disillusioned; fed up with the routine of daily existence without her mother. Until now, Mathilda had been so busy making the best of things, she hadn’t had time to see their situation for what it was.

Since her mother had died four years ago, the cooler weather, and the disastrous crop failure a few harvests back, combined with the decline in the demand for locally made pottery had taken their tool. Ceramic tableware from the south, Wales, and even France flooded the market, and her father hadn’t been able to compete. Each time he travelled the ten miles to the weekly market at Leicester to sell his pots, he came home more dejected than the trip before, and with more and more unsold stock.

Last time her father had travelled into Leicester he’d returned home early, a desolate figure, with a cartload of broken pottery shards. A thief had struck in the market place, and in their unthinking eagerness to apprehend the villain the bailiff’s men had run roughshod through the stalls, toppling her father’s table as they went, leaving him with broken stock and an increasingly broken faith.

‘Our Lady,’ Mathilda muttered in the gloom, her voiced hushed in fear, ‘please deliver me from this place.’ Then, guilty at having asked for something so boldly from someone she’d begun to neglect of late, Mathilda added, ‘I’m sorry, Our Lady, forgive me. I’m frightened, that’s all. Perhaps, though, you could take care of my brothers and my father.’

Mathilda didn’t even know if any of her kin were still alive. The Folvilles’ reputation made it more than possible that they’d all been killed.

The men had taken her so easily; lifting her bodily from the water as if she was as light as air. Bundled into a covered wagon, Mathilda had been transported to the manor at Ashby Folville in the company of a large man who stank of fish. He’d tied her hands behind her back and sat over her, shoving a filthy rag between her lips to fend off the protests that failed to escape from her mouth.

The journey, although bumpy and bruising, couldn’t have been further than two miles. On arrival Mathilda had been untied and un-gagged and, having been thoroughly stared at from top to bottom by her impertinent guardian, who seemed to have the ability to see through her clothes to the flesh beneath, then wordlessly bundled below stairs to her current lonely location. Her stomach growled, complaining pointlessly at its emptiness. Mathilda was cross with herself. How could she even consider food when her family was in danger?

‘Just as well I don’t want to eat,’ she told herself sternly, ‘as I probably won’t ever see food again.’ Then she collapsed to the cold damp ground, the terror and shock of the morning abruptly washing over her in a wave of misery.

 

Mathilda had no idea how long she’d been in the cell when a large hand gripped her shoulder and shook her awake. Fear crept back over her like a heavy blanket as the light from the adjoining room illuminated the mocking face of her gaoler.

‘You’re wanted, girl.’ Dragging her by the arm, he took no notice of the fact he was bumping her legs against the stone steps as he removed her from her prison.

‘Where are you talking me?’ Mathilda’s voice wavered as she tried not to trip over her own feet.

‘You’ll see.’ Increasing the squeeze of her upper arm, he propelled Mathilda along a corridor, before pushing her before him into a large open hall, shouting ahead, ‘You want me to tie her up?’

Mathilda didn’t hear anyone answer. The hall was foggy from a poorly set fire, and it took her a few moments to take in her surroundings as she was pushed towards a long table. The smoke stung her eyes, and she blinked against the light.

Her arms and feet hadn’t been tied, but as a precaution against Mathilda’s potential escape, the surly man stood uncomfortably close to her. Now her senses were slowly coming back under her control, Mathilda recognised him as the person who’d stolen here from her home. The unpleasant odour of ale, sweat and fish made his identity as her original kidnapper unmistakable.

As the fishy aroma assaulted Mathilda’s nostrils once more, her thoughts flew to her brothers. Desperate for news of her family, she opened her mouth to speak, but another man raised his hand, warning for her to remain silent, before the words had chance to form.

Mathilda stared at the shape of this new figure came properly into focus through the smoke. He was finely dressed in a peacock blue cloak, with a green and brown tunic and matching hose. Despite the fine braiding around his collar, she could tell this was not a man of high birth, nor was he the sheriff or bailiff. This probably made him one of the lesser nobility or a public servant.

Swallowing nervously, Mathilda lowered her gaze to the floor in a natural response to before her betters – even if ‘betters’ was entirely the wrong description in this case. This man had to be a Folville. Mathilda began to shake with increased fear as a million possibilities of what might happen to her next flew around her brain. None of them were pleasant.

***

I hope that perked your interest!

Thanks again for letting me pop by Laura!

***

You can buy The Outlaw’s Ransom for your Kindle here –

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475660907&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475660990&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer (aka Jenny!!) xx

Bio-

20160630_135550-1Jennifer Ash is the author of the medieval murder mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom (Dec, 2016). Her second novel, The Winter Outlaw, with be published in 2017.

You can find detail’s of Jennifer’s stories at www.jenniferash.co.uk

Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane

Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance Another Glass of Champagne, (Accent Press, 2016),  Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).

Jenny’s fifth full length romance novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published in June 2017.

Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

 

Therapy, Poetry & Non-fiction: a Path to Crime by Nell Peters

Hostile Witness ver 2Nell Peters is another Accent Press author and one whom I had the pleasure of meeting face to face at the launch of yet another Accent author, Tom Williams. Welcome to my place, Nell.

Thank you, Laura, for inviting me along – promise I’ll try not to disgrace either of us too much.

I’ve written a lot of guest blogs recently, one of which was for fellow Accent author Jenny Kane’s fab new series, My First Time – about first publications etc. Her opening question was something like what was the first story you wrote because you wanted to, not because you had to at school. My answer was that I started to write (truly, beyond awful) children’s stories one summer in Montreal, when I was in my early twenties, childless and at a loose end. I sat in a garden that stretched down to the St Lawrence River with pen and notebook poised, as I sweated buckets from the intense humidity and got eaten alive by mosquitoes. After I’d given Jenny my answer, however, I realised it wasn’t wholly correct – I’ve always had some form of writing project on the go, ever since I can remember. And trust me, that’s a very long way back.

My parents thought children should be neither seen nor heard, and so I spent a lot of time alone in my room, both reading and writing. With just a sister seven years younger, I was practically an only child and I was a painfully shy, introverted kid who lived vicariously through their imagination. Actually, I haven’t changed that much … weirdo alert!

I daydreamed my way through a high percentage of my schooling – a traditional grammar with stringent conduct and uniform rules, where thinking outside the box was most definitely not encouraged. There was a detention for every perceived misdemeanour – and no ChildLine. Goodness knows how I managed half-decent results – do examiners give sympathy marks? Having a retentive memory probably helped – I passed English Lit, for instance, purely by remembering what had been said during class discussion. Luckily, my form mates (including author Judy Astley) had read the books and done their homework, so (very) belated thanks, gels! Even if I do say so myself, I did a pretty good job of winging it through questions on Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale – that would definitely not be my chosen subject on Mastermind (like I’d even make it onto the ‘Maybe, But Only If Everyone Else Contracts Bubonic Plague’ pile of applications). My leisure reading included all the usual suspects – much Enid Blyton from Noddy up, including the Mallory Towers books passed on by a neighbour, and I ploughed through Agatha Christie from an early age, thus planting the seeds of murder and mayhem in my impressionable young mind, and revving up zee leetle grey cells. The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes did nothing to sway my enthusiasm from dastardly deeds, mystery and convoluted plots either, and I guess the dye was cast – but it was many years before I actually started writing crime.

Fast forward through uni, a scary career, marriage, a move overseas – the Montreal years – and back again (though not necessarily in that order) and I’m living in London with four sons. And writing poetry – something that happened pretty much by accident. By Easter one year, I’d gotten thoroughly fed up with the older boys’ procrastinations about writing their thank you notes for Christmas presents received, so I penned a collective thank you to relatives in rhyme. And lo, I got the bug.

Writing poetry as a form of therapy is something that continues to interest me, but that’s another story … or verse, perhaps. It was, nonetheless, how I came to write crime, bizarre as that might sound. Based loosely on empirical research (not mine), I wrote a non-fiction around the premise that writing poetry can alleviate the symptoms of depression, and I sent it to Hodder, where it was picked up by the submissions editor. Imagine my shock/horror/surprise/disbelief/embarrassing happy dancing when I received an enthusiastic email by return, telling me that although the non-fiction wasn’t for them, could I write a novel for their consideration? She liked my style apparently – someone has to.

Obviously, I didn’t have to be asked twice and set to work on a crime novel – what else? Sadly, I hadn’t even finished the thing, when the editor was made redundant – cue very sad face. Me, that is, but I don’t expect the subs editor was deliriously happy either. That book was called Curry Favour, and the protagonist was a cleaning lady called Amelia Vanderloo (do you see what I did there?) She was quite posh and refined, but had landed upon hard times, and being trained for nothing in particular took to cleaning others’ houses to earn a crust. I think I finished the book, but never did anything with it and veered off to other endeavours, time permitting.

Before this turns into War and Peace, let’s fast forward again, glossing over a move to Norfolk, years spent on my own with the children (a contradiction, I know – but I’m sure you understand my meaning) while the OH worked all over the world, and a return to uni to read psychology. I continued to write crime fiction whenever I had a spare moment, at that time in between churning out assignment essays on serial killers and terrorists, and a dissertation on Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The guy was a Class A basket case – Liberty, Equality and Fraternity notwithstanding, I suppose. He definitely showed schizophrenic tendencies, long before the condition was identified by the German psychiatrist, Emil Kraepelin. I do believe I mentioned JJR’s fluid grip on reality in my diss (I may not have used the term ‘basket case’, but t’was sacrilege nonetheless) and rather surprisingly ended up with a scraped 2:1 Hons, plus an implied award for being the oldest student on campus.

After that, I took a serious look at my backlist and did a lot of work – my efforts were rewarded two years ago, when Editor Greg at Accent Press picked up By Any Other Name. Yay! He also liked my style – and warped sense of humour. Of course, I became rich and famous overnight, but sadly only in my dreams.

Accent subsequently published Hostile Witness in February ’16 – it can be found on Amazon, link below.

Right – I have a ravenous chicken to feed (yet again – she’s more gannet than chook), so again I’ll say thank you very much for having me to Laura and go find the birdseed.

Have a good day, y’all.

NP

Hostile Witness is here: http://mybook.to/hostilewitness

Nell Peters is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NellPetersAuthor

And on Twitter as @paegon

 

Kindle Daily Deal: Redemption Song

redemption song daily deal bigger buttonMy novel was selected for the Kindle Daily Deal and it is only 99p at this very moment. Tomorrow it will be back at full price. It’s been climbing the charts steadily all day and it has been amazing to see this. I’ll blog about the day in more detail soon, but for now I wanted to let you know that if you’ve not got a copy, now is the time! Accent Press, my lovely publisher, created splendid artwork for promo purposes and I put a few Canva images together myself. No prizes for guessing which are mine! Anyway, here’s a buy link:http://amzn.to/1X00Af5

THANK YOU AND ENJOY!

Redemption Song Portybelle Little Bookness Lane.pdf Being Anne Reading

 

Book Review: This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell

51bLYEeNwHL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Those of you who read my posts, tweets, and follow me on other social media platforms will know that I am a HUGE fan of Maggie O’Farrell’s work, so you can imagine my excitement when I received an ARC of This Must Be The Place from über-blogger Anne Williams. Thank you, lovely Anne!

I first encountered Maggie O’Farrell’s work many years ago through my monthly subscription to glossy mag, Red. (Forgive the formality of the full name. I don’t know her so ‘Maggie’ seems overly familiar and using her surname only, whilst a convention, feels too formal for a woman whose soul I feel I have a window into on account of her writing). A copy of My Lover’s Lover was included in the shrink-wrapped package. It sat on my bedside table for ages – I am crazy mad about the late, great Bernice Rubens and at the time was working my way through her books – but when I did pick up My Lover’s Lover, I enjoyed it immensely and sought out her debut: After You’d Gone, which I adored. Ever since, I have waited eagerly for each new MO. How’s an abbreviation? And if there are any publishers listening in, I guess this goes to show that giving books away for free – paperbacks – really can bring in new readers. I’m less convinced about Kindle because it must be easy to forget they’re there, on your machine.

Back to Ms O’Farrell’s (better still?) novels. They are all great, but if I had to choose I’d say my favourites were: After You’d Gone and The Hand That First Held Mine.

Until now.

OMG, This Must Be The Place is bloody brilliant. Swearie good.

Crossing continents and three decades, it’s an expansive, sweeping, epic-yet-intimate story of a group of interrelated people. Told from multiple points of view, at the centre of the maelstrom is Daniel, a complex, flawed, beautiful man who’s made a bit of a hash of his life. In less assured, and frankly genius hands, this could have been a dog’s dinner. Instead, it is a glorious study of a marriage, people struggling to find their place in this messy but often wonderful world. Brim-full of fascinating characters (a reclusive film star; a stammering boy; an elderly woman who has recently left her husband; a film-maker’s assistant; I could go on), psychological insight and vivid storytelling, I found that as I read each section I didn’t want it to finish; I wanted to discover more about this particular character’s story and yet, simultaneously, I wanted to find out how others were faring since I’d seen them last.

No review can really do this novel justice – certainly no review I can write. So, I’ll leave by saying: Read it. It is divine.

The Official Blurb:
Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway.
He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago, and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

This Must Be The Place is released on 17 May. Buy it here. Or at your local bookshop.