Dancing with love and death: guest post from Grace Lowrie

Before We FallGrace and I share more than a publisher – I am also a huge fan of Highgate Cemetery; Diana in Skin Deep grew up in a house bordering the West Cemetery. But less of me, let’s find out all about Grace’s latest novel – Before We Fall and the inspiration behind it. Over to you, Grace.

The Inspiration for Before We Fall 

I once, briefly, visited a strip club. It was unlike anywhere else I’d been – sort of artificially flirty and fun but with a serious business-like undertone – and that experience came in useful when writing Before We Fall. But I have never practised ballet and my main inspiration for Cally’s character actually came from a brief moment in my childhood that has always haunted me…

I was about ten years old, couldn’t sleep, and crept downstairs to where the end of a film was playing on the television. It involved an aspiring young ballet dancer (about my age at the time) who suddenly collapsed and died on a subway train on her way home. The shock of the little girl’s sudden and painful death was made worse for me by seeing her mother’s helpless inability to save her, while the other passengers on the train simply looked on. Needless to say as soon as my mum caught me watching it, she sent me back to bed, but the traumatic scene was already imprinted on my mind. I’ve only recently discovered that the film was ‘Six Weeks’ from 1982 and that the young ballerina’s death was caused by leukaemia (rather than by riding an underground train as I’d wrongly assumed at the time), but it was – and still is – an important reminder that life is short.

Highgate-Grace LowrieI wanted to set Before We Fall in some of my favourite London locations – the city’s oldest restaurant, Rules, for example – but there were also places I wanted to use that I’d never experienced first-hand, and writing this book gave me the perfect excuse to visit and research them. Highgate Cemetery, for example, seemed a fitting locale for a story with a mortality theme. The resting place of thousands of people (including some of my favourite writers; George Eliot, Christina Rossetti and Douglas Adams) is steeped in history and romance. By going there myself I could mentally conjure up my characters in situ – imagine what they might think or say, and picture how their body language might betray their feelings. My visit was nowhere near as illicit as Cally and Bay’s ended up being, but my hope is that some of the unique atmosphere of the place has seeped into my writing.

Having said all that Before We Fall is primarily a romance novel full of love, lust, friendship and humour… just watch out for that dark edge.

The blurb:

When Cally, an amateur ballet dancer, is suddenly diagnosed with cancer she runs away from her boyfriend, her job in a call centre and her safe life in Wildham in order to experience ‘real’ life in London. Taking a job as a stripper and flat-sitting in the top of an office tower she meets her obnoxious neighbour Bay; a tattooed, drug-taking, suicidal artist, haunted by the death of those close to him.

Despite their differences, the two strike up a friendship – Bay pushes Cally to try new things while Cally provides Bay with a muse – and they fall in love. But their secrets threaten to tear them apart and time is running out…

How to Buy:

 

 

About Grace:

Grace Lowrie+Having worked as a collage artist, sculptor, prop maker and garden designer, Grace has always been creative, but she is a romantic introvert at heart and writing was, and is, her first love.

A lover of rock music, art nouveau design, blue cheese and grumpy ginger tomcats, Grace is also an avid reader of fiction – preferring coffee and a sinister undercurrent, over tea and chick lit. When not making prop costumes or hanging out with her favourite nephews, she continues to write stories from her Hertfordshire home.

http://www.gracelowrie.com/blog

http://www.facebook.com/GraceLowrieWriter

 

https://www.instagram.com/grace_lowrie/

https://www.goodreads.com/Grace_Lowrie

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grace-Lowrie/e/B00UNCPYCY

 

 

 

 

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Debut Novelist Tour: Ladies’ Day by Sarah Barton

Ladies' Day - Sarah Barton - Book Cover (002)I’m delighted to welcome novelist Sarah Barton to my blog today as part of the tour to launch her women’s fiction debut, Ladies’ Day. I was sent an ARC and you can read my review over on Amazon and Goodreads. In the meantime, here’s a little about the book.

Working in a fading Manchester department store, four women hide their dark secrets: abuse, an illicit affair, huge debts and an overwhelming desire to have a child at any cost. Will their secrets destroy their lives?

An unlikely bond is formed but will it suffice to solve their disparate problems?

Buy ‘Ladies’ Day’ at Amazon (universal link): http://getbook.at/LadiesDay

Ladies' Day Sarah Barton Quotes (002)

About Sarah

Sarah Barton Author Image (002)

Sarah Barton is a contemporary fiction writer who lives in South Manchester. While she spends her days running a property management company her nights are spent with her family and her literary work. Sarah is happiest with a G + T in one hand and a pen in the other.

Website: . https://www.sarahbartonauthor.com/
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SarahBartonAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/S_Barton_Author

Amazon Author Page: author.to/SarahBarton

 

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My Big Books of 2017

As the year draws to a close, it’s traditional for me to consider the books I’ve most enjoyed in the past twelve months. I don’t like using ‘best’, because this is a personal list and my preferred reading tends to reflect my emotional state as much as, if not more than, anything.

2017 has been a tough year, both personally and professionally – it’s been pretty shitty politically and economically, too, in my opinion. On the home front, to name but one challenge, there was a horrendous run-in with Southern Rail and Ginger1, my eldest boy. Professionally, while Skin Deep has been incredibly well-received (reviews were beyond my wildest hopes and dreams – thank you, dear readers) sales are, to coin a publishing cliché, disappointing.

So, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me – or you – that the majority of the books I’ve enjoyed the most this year are dark in tone and subject matter. The up-lit star might have been rising across the publishing landscape, but not in my house! Here’s my list of the novels (yes, they’re all novels this year) that have impressed me the most:

IMG_3650Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall – this isn’t out till Spring 2018 but I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy. A stunning exploration of obsessive love which delves deep into the twisted heart of a secretive, sexually charged relationship and the aftermath of its breakdown. One of the most compelling and psychologically complex thrillers I’ve read in a very long time – and its commentary on our current world is perceptive and terrifying in equal measure. I have no doubt this will be one of the most talked about psych thrillers of 2018. Breathtaking.

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins – a celebrated academic and TV presenter – a woman who ‘has it all’ writes a memoir about a long-lost heroine, reluctantly enlisting the aid of a socially inept housekeeper. It’s a novel about ambition, privilege, morality and dung beetles. Fabulous.

The Muse by Jessie Burton – I adored The Miniaturist and I’m fascinated by the Spanish civil war and art so this was near enough a sure thing. That said, I preferred Burton’s debut, but her second offering is wonderful story, set across two time-frames, about hidden treasures, faking it, love and identity.

IMG_3651Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield – another one not released until 2018 (February) which I read this year. A story of love and quantum physics, it’s beautiful, sad and clever. We meet the eponymous protagonists over the course of 70 years in 11 different realities, or universes. Fans of The Versions of Us (like me) and Life After Life should enjoy it. Gorgeous.

Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant – with a lying, narcissistic literary novelist at its heart and a supporting cast of unlikable metropolitan-elite types, this is a gripping and clever psychological thriller about a missing child and the dangers of little lies. Durrant’s brilliance lies in her ability to evoke sympathy for her male lead, Paul.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – it’s not a spoiler to reveal that this is a tale of incest (we know within the first 20 pages, if not earlier) set in the American mid-West. It’s a subject matter many will find distasteful, but Engel writes beautifully and sensitively. This incredible work has shades of Rebecca and reminded me in tone and in the portrayal of small town America and its inhabitants of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects – a much stronger book than her more successful Gone Girl, in my humble opinion.

That’s it. My to-read tower remains in danger of toppling and with lots of wonderful books scheduled for 2018 – including one by my good friend, Kate Helm (I can’t wait!) – I only hope I have enough time to write!

Merry Christmas one and all – here’s to the New Year!

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Laura x

 

Back to Manchester @ChorltonBF

789d2f_cc6d2af0db1f4c12b1409c7ec943895f~mv2I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be appearing at the fantastic Chorlton Book Festival, on Wednesday 22nd November 2017 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Being in Manchester, I’ll be talking about Skin Deep – about Hulme and art, and beauty and exploitation, and all things bookish. The event is at Chorlton Library, Manchester Rd, Manchester M21 9PN and it’s free to attend. I’m excited to be returning to Manchester – a city I know and love – and hope that some of you can come along.

To book: 0161 227 3700 or visit the website here: https://www.chorltonbookfestival.co.uk/calender

Skin Deep Poster