**Author Interviews** ~ Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross

Regular readers of this blog know that Caroline, my BFF and co-blogger, and I love to read a variety of genres. Both of us have a penchant for dark and psychological reads. Since reading The Ghosts of Ravencrest (an erotic Gothic horror par excellence), by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross I have become a HUGE fan of their work.

Either writing alone or in partnership their work includes the paranormal, horror and dark, psychological thrillers such as their current collaboration Mother. Their writing, which can be downright S-C-A-R-Y, is often shocking and infused with dark humour, but is always a rollicking good read  and I love the devilish plot twists these authors inflict on their readers!

I was delighted at the chance of interviewing this writing duo and I hope that you find their candid responses to my questions as fascinating as I did. Tina ❤

Mother cover

1. Can you share with our readers a little about yourselves and your writing careers?

Tamara and Alistair both began writing around age eight  – both loved ghost stories most of all – and both wanted to be writers when they grew up. Tamara has been in print since 1991 and Alistair since 2012.

2. I understand that you have been collaborating since 2012, and have written, amongst other works, The Cliffhouse Haunting and The Ghosts of Ravencrest, the first book in The Ravenscrest Saga. How did you begin working together and what special elements do you each think the other brings to the partnership that distinguishes the works of Thorne and Cross?

Alistair became a fan of Tamara’s work in the 90s, and when social media sites like Facebook came along and made it easy to connect to others, he looked her up. Having just been published for the first time, Alistair was doing author interviews on his blog as a way of meeting other writers. Tamara was one of the first people he asked. We became fast friends and were brainstorming ideas for new books before we’d even conceived of the idea to officially write together. It flowed very naturally – it was simply meant to be. We soon found that our writing style – as well as our personal and professional ethics – was so remarkably similar that continuing on the path together was simply the instinctual thing to do. Alistair brings an intense work ethic to our virtual office while Tamara brings jolly good fun. We need each other for balance. And hard work. And fun

3. Why do you think there is such an appetite for horror and psychological thrillers amongst readers? TamaraWhat is it within the human psyche that craves such stories?

People crave (safe) danger. Danger fascinates us, but things like scary movies, horror novels, and roller coasters are a way of facing our fears without risking our lives. These things force us to explore those uncharted parts of ourselves which can teach us proper response in the face of real danger. It’s a survival mechanism. Avoidance of fear is fatal, and the human psyche understands this. Thus, it draws us toward the things that frighten us. Plus, scary books are just awesome. 

4. The flipside of this – why do you both enjoy writing in these genres?

Horror is a release from the everyday. Neither of us watches the news – real horror is too depressing. But fictional horror and suspense provides a rush akin to amusement park thrill rides. Fiction, by its very nature is escapist and, to us, there’s nothing better than a toe-curler to escape reality for a little while. We are especially partial to suspense and supernatural horror because ghosts, vampires, and assorted elementals are literary equivalents to a carnival where we can find lots of thrills and chills. In Mother, our heroine, Claire, starts with a turn on the merry-go-round, then soon ends up on a scary roller coaster and finally enters the dark ride, which is too frightening to be fun for her.

5. You must have both been asked this question in many forms before – but do you base any elements of your characters on anyone you know or are they purely fuelled by your imaginations?

AlistairEvery character is imaginary; it would be no fun for us to plunk down living people in our books! That said, we are the products of our lives and experiences. Everything around us, from sights, sounds, and tastes, to hoarders, psychopaths and ghosts are inspired by lifetimes of observation and experience.

  1. 6. Would you both like to tell us something about your latest release, Mother?

Mother is a psychological thriller in the vein of Psycho and Misery, with a pinch of Peyton Place and a dash of Gaslight. It concerns a young, expectant couple, Claire and Jason Holbrook, who’ve fallen on hard times, forcing them to move in with Claire’s estranged mother. Claire vowed to have no contact with the overbearing woman ever again, but Mother is thrilled at the prospect of a grandchild. At Mother’s, Claire and Jason begin experiencing things that make them determined to leave immediately … but when a cruel twist of fate makes leaving impossible, Claire becomes obsessed with her mother’s motives. Fantasy and fact blur together as her compulsion consumes her, and Jason wonders who the villain really is. When a cache of macabre family secrets is uncovered, Claire and Jason find the answers they’re looking for – answers that will change them forever … assuming anyone can get out of Mother’s house alive.

7.  Did you have to carry out any research into the issues explored in Mother, before writing the novel?

All books require research. Mother’s research was relatively easy compared to other books. It consisted primarily of a brush-up on sociopathic and narcissistic behaviors. We also researched topics like hoarding, epilepsy, flight schools, Catholic funerals, and ugly furniture from the 1970s and 80s. When we write books that include science or a good deal real history that must be woven into our fictional characters’ lives, as in our Ravencrest novels, the research is far more intensive. All fiction must have its roots in reality to keep it believable.

8.  I am delighted to learn that you host a horror themed internet radio show, Thorne and Cross Haunted Nights LIVE! What have been some of your favourite moments on the show to date?

There have been many great moments. We loved hearing The Walking Dead author Jay Bonansinga tell us his thoughts on why zombies are so popular, and Charlaine Harris’ stories about about being recognized in public were hilarious. We were laughing out loud when Christopher Rice told us what it was like for him to read his mom’s (Anne Rice) Sleeping Beauty series. Chet Williamson’s reading from his novel Psycho: Sanitarium gave us chills. Chatting about twisted family dynamics with Andrew Neiderman, who also authors the V.C. Andrews book series, was fascinating, and talking with Laurell K. Hamilton about vampires was a lot of fun. Those are just a few of our favorite moments. 

Mother teaser

9. Are there any collaborative projects in the pipeline that you are able to share?

As always, we’re working on the continuing Ravencrest Saga and have just released the second serialized installment titled, Dead of the Night. We are also working on a sequel to Tamara’s vampire novel, Candle Bay, which also serves as a continuation of Alistair’s The Crimson Corset. The Darling family of Candle Bay made appearances in Corset and that set the course for Candle Bay II – we decided we had to get our vamps together in a serious way. As soon as Candle Bay’s sequel is complete, we will begin work on the second book in our Trilogy of Terror. Mother was the first. The second is unrelated to Mother as far as characters are concerned, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see Father Andy show up, assuming we set the next book in Snapdragon, where Mother takes place. The Trilogy of Terror is made up of three psychological suspense novels that are more about human monsters than supernatural ones. On the side, we’re also both knee-deep in a pair of solo novels.

10. Have you a message to readers, or to writers who are thinking of branching out into penning horror/psychological thrillers?

We always say that the most important thing is to write what you love. If you love what you’ve written, others will too. Also, writing requires dedication and discipline. It’s easy to tell yourself you don’t have time to write, but if you want to be a serious writer, you have to create time.

 

**AUTHOR INTERVIEW/COVER REVEAL** ~ Fire and SteeI Anthology (books 1-5 of The Soldier Chronicles), by David Cook

David Cook, Author of Historical Fiction

Fire and Steel Final eBook Cover Large (2)

Today we welcome historical novelist David Cook to our blog. David has just released the anthology Fire and Steel, which brings together books 1-5 of The Soldier Chronicles for the first time. I love to lose myself in a historical read and I therefore jumped at the opportunity to pose some searching questions on the anthology and find out more about David’s novels and his writing career. The e-book is now available to purchase on Amazon and we are delighted that David has permitted us to share the gorgeous cover of the the forthcomomg print version, which you can find below. The book will be available in print from December 1st.

The novellas take the reader from the 1798 Irish Rebellion to the British struggles on the continent against the French army under Napoleon, to his return from exile and the fateful battle of Waterloo. The content has been revised and the series and dialogue expanded. Indeed, David bills the collection as ‘one big book of non-stop action, adventure, intrigue, but all set against real historical events.’

Scroll down to find out more about David and the collection. Tina ❤

Author Interview

David cook

1. Welcome David and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us more about Fire and Steel and your love of the past and writing.You clearly have a passion for this tumultuous period of history. What inspired your love of this period and what is it about it and its military history in particular that appeals to you?

It all came from my father. He hand-painted his own model army and gave it to me. It’s wonderful and a testament to one man’s devotion to painting, military research and war gaming. My love of history all comes from him too.

2. I expect that you spent many hours devoted to research to enable you to write the books in the series. How do you carry out your research? Is it mainly internet and or archive based or do you also visit the places and battlefields portrayed in the stories?

I’d love to visit all the places I write about, some I have, some not so. I think it’s important to. I will attempt that when I have time and money. However, I search online for images of the place, use my reference books and visit museums and libraries to fill in the missing gaps.

3. I have to ask this as I love to watch historical re-enactors! Are you a member of a re-enactment society or have you considered joining one? Have re-enactors helped or inspired your writing? 

I’m not a member, but it’s always exciting to meet people who are. You feel their love of what they do and do learn from them. They are the best educators. I learned a lot of what happens on the battlefield from re-enactors, not films. The gun smoke, the noise, the commands, the visuals. It has been very inspiring to watch the bicentenary battles of Waterloo back in June. I have hours of cavalry and infantry manoeuvring and battling on video from then, it was a fantastic experience.

4. Your books are full of individuals who perform heroic deeds. Are any of the fictional characters in them based on real life historical figures you have come across in your research?

No, I’ve not based any of the characters on real people. But there are many people who I admire from history, Duke of Wellington, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Sir Winston Churchill, Marie Curie…

5. Have you got a favourite character out of the five books that comprise Fire and Steel? 

No, I haven’t a particular favourite. To me, they are all my beloved.

6. What is your writing process like? Do you plan your books and develop character profiles in detail before beginning a new book in earnest or do your stories and characters take on a life of their own?

Research is never-ending. I enjoy it, but writing is the best part. I sketch out a rough idea what the story will be and let the characters take over. Sounds chaotic? Well, I’ve known authors who plot everything down the smallest detail. I’ve never been able to. I just let the writing flow. It seems to work.

7. How long have you been writing and would you like to tell us about other books you have written or are working on?

I first started to write when I was 16, then through my twenties, but it was in 2006 that i sat down and started to write my first novel. It’s called The Desert Lion and is about the British liberation of Egypt, 1801. From there I wrote The Wolfshead, a story of Robin Hood. I have written two novella’s following the events of The Wolfshead, a Richard III story, but they are all unpublished. I am working my way through them as I type, hoping to try the traditional publishing route for The Desert Lion.

8. How do you fit writing in around everything else and do you write every day?

At the moment it’s a hobby. I’ve released 5 novella’s, a free collection of short-stories and now Fire and Steel as a novel, but my goal is to reach readers and get word of mouth. It’s not about money for me, it’s purely pleasure. My dream is to be published. One day…. 

9. What do you like most about being an author and what do you find the most challenging? 

The fact that I can just sit and write about my characters and history. The challenging part is the research and the marketing of the work, the exciting bit is the writing. I find it thoroughly relaxing. I love connecting to readers.

10. Social media – love it or loathe it, it appears to be here to stay. Do you view it as your friend or foe or a double-edged sword for today’s authors?

For me it’s a necessary tool. I don’t think I use it to its full potential though. It’s useful and I couldn’t live without it, but I don’t spend hours on it.

11. Have you a message for readers?

I hope you enjoy my work. As a fledging indie author I really do appreciate it when readers leave me a comment about my work or a review. Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads really do help. Thank you for investing your time reading something of mine.

Thank you David for taking time out to tell us about Fire and Steel and share your experiences with us. We wish you the very best with your writing career.

Fire and Steel Anthology

(books 1-5 of The Soldier Chronicles) 

Fire and Steel Print Book

Book Blurb

Fire and Steel is a compilation of the first 5 books of The Soldier Chronicles historical series. The stories; all novella’s, are snap-shots of life as a different soldier in the period of long war 1793-1815. All fiction, but very much based on actual events. The kindle version is out now, the paperback will be out 1st December from Amazon:

Liberty or Death
It is the height of the 1798 Irish Rebellion and someone is murdering Protestants and Catholics indiscriminately. As Ireland burns, Major Lorn Mullone must find out the truth and apprehend the killer before it’s too late.

Heart of Oak
Meet Captain of Marines Simon Gamble, once seen in battle, never forgotten. A professional soldier, daring and brave, but he is certainly no gentleman. He leads a fearsome company marines who have been tasked to capture a formidable fortress held in enemy hands.

Blood on the Snow
Holland, 1794, and all hope is lost. Disease, famine and a winter of unrivalled malice has punished the small retreating British Army as it follows the long road home. But freedom for the survivors doesn’t come easy, because between them and the ports, the enemy waits.

Marksman
Rifleman Arthur Cadoc, stranded in the chaos of war, now fights for the Spanish guerrilleros. With only his training, wits and his trusty Baker rifle, Cadoc proves that he is not only a daring and a deadly marksman, but a man born for fighting against the odds.

Death is a Duty
June 1815, and Napoleon Bonaparte has returned to plunge Europe into war once again. During the course of the campaign, Regimental-Sergeant Major Adam Bannerman of the 42nd Royal Highlanders uncovers a dark tale of murder, and must use his wits to survive not only the French assaults, but men on his own side who want him dead.

E-book Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK

Connect with the Author

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

http://thewolfshead.tumblr.com

**Spotlight & Interview** ~ Roya Carmen, author of **The Ground Rules**

Steamy Romance with a Dash of Sass

Today we welcome author, Roya Carmen, whose strap line of Steamy Romance with a Dash of Sass really intrigued me! Roya is the author of The Ground Rules, a sizzling erotic romance series which is receiving rave reviews, and she has kindly offered to share some information on her latest releases and give us some insider information on her writing journey! Scroll down for the interview and find out more about The Ground Rules. Tina ❤

TheGroundRules_CoverSMALL

Two beautiful couples. Five simple rules. One hot mess.

Author Interview

1.Hi Roya, would you like to tell us something about yourself and what prompted you to become a writer?

I am mom of three who enjoys art, reading and writing. I wrote when I was younger, but kind of lost touch with my writing when I went to school to study Graphic Design. For years, my world was all about art. But in 2002, I took a creative writing class and it got the juices going again. And in 2008, I started to write romance, hoping to become a Harlequin writer.

2.What was your inspiration for your latest release and to what extent is it based on your own experiences or those of people you know?

I actually wrote a blog post about this very recently. The concept was inspired by a story a friend told me about his sister who was married and in an open relationship. What if? I thought. What if someone like me, an ordinary mom and wife who has been with her husband for years and who was still very much in love, just happened to meet the most enigmatic and beautiful man she’d ever seen and be thrown into such a situation? What kind of drama would ensue? How could she resist the temptation? How could she not fall in love?

3. Would you like to share anything about your publishing journey? I read on your webpage that you have novels on Wattpad, have self- published and are published with Omnific.

I self-published a short contemporary romance in 2014 entitled Back to You. I found my publisher for The Ground Rules Trilogy by sheer luck, when I was shopping at Wal-Mart and picked up a copy of Sylvain Reynard’s Gabriel’s Inferno. I also have two short erotic romances on Wattpad under @royastories.

4. What type of scenes do you like to write the most and what are the most challenging?

I enjoy writing scenes where the hero and heroine are fighting – I guess I enjoy drama! I also like writing sex scenes, I must admit. I like to carry the scene through, because I don’t like to be a tease. Lol! The hardest scenes are the sad scenes.

5. How much easier has the success of FSOG made it to publish in the erotic romance genre and what barriers do you think remain that need to be broken? Why do you think that this genre has proved so popular?

FSOG has introduced so many readers to erotic romance, myself included. It’s okay now to say you read erotic romance. I can talk to my sister-in-law or my friend about FGOG over dinner. The e-book market is great – so many indie authors like myself are among the top titles. But we need more new authors in traditionally published erotic romance.

6. What about research for your novels? You must have had a lot of fun with this!

The Ground Rules is set in Chicago. I’ve only been there briefly and I think it’s a very sexy city. I had to do lots of research online, and I hope I didn’t mess up too much, but I’m sure I did. There are a lot of references to actual locations in the book, and I also made up some fictional ones. Book 2 of the trilogy also takes us to Hawaii and New York. Yay! I like to write about places I’ve been. My other romances are set in Boston, Bar Harbour, Maine and Seattle… all place I’ve been.

7. I noticed on your webpage that you have a number of novels published on Wattpad. How useful is this publishing platform for new writers?

I like the interaction on Wattpad. It’s perfect for shorter stories you might not necessarily want to publish. It introduces me to new readers and writers as well.

8. What is your writing process like? To what extent do you plan the characters and plot and how much do you just let the words flow?

First, I have an idea… a concept. Then, I create the characters (for this I use extensive character profiles). Then, I create a thorough outline, consisting of scenes in bullet point form. Then I start writing each scene – each scene has its own outline in bullet form. And then, I put on my earphones, listen to my music, and let the words flow!! Sometimes the scene goes to places I hadn’t expected. And I’m like… wow! That was hot! There’s nothing better than being in the zone. I save all editing until the end. Needless to say, the first draft is a dog’s breakfast.

9. Is there a method to your writing schedule? Do you write when your muse calls or more regularly?

I write morning time, or occasionally when the muse hits.

10. Have you any useful tips for any wannabe writers who are teetering on the edge but have yet to take the plunge?

Go for it!! But only do it if you really love it! Because if you don’t, it will show in your writing. You should always be passionate about your writing.

11. Who are your favourite authors?

I read mostly commercial women’s/chick lit and contemporary romance. Some of my fave authors are Sophie Kinsella, Jane Green, Helen Fielding, Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, Nicholas Sparks. And when I’m feeling a little naughty, I read erotic romance. Some of my faves are Christina Lauren, Sylvain Reynard, EL James, Bella Andre, Harlequin Blaze and at the moment, I’m discovering lots of new indie authors and reading more books on my Kindle.

12. If you have a WIP, is there anything that you’d like to share with us about it, pretty please?

Right now, I’m working on final edits to Book 3 of The Ground Rules. But I also have a notebook of ideas for upcoming trilogy series. I’m debating between two concepts: One centres around three sibling and the country side, and the other is set in Paris. And who knows, I might end up tackling something completely different… whatever gets my blood flowing the most.

13. Have you a message for readers?

Keep reading!! And thanks so much to all those who have read my stories! ❤

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule. We wish you the best of luck with the release, your career as a writer and life in general. ❤

Book Blurb for The Ground Rules

TheGroundRules_CoverSMALL

1. Don’t sleep around.

2. Don’t kiss and tell.

3. Be nice.

4. Don’t text or call.

5. Don’t fall in love.

The rules were simple…until they weren’t.

I have everything I ever thought I could want: a nice home, a job I love, two beautiful girls, and my husband, Gabe – my high school sweetheart who still rocks my world. If you ask anyone to describe me they would say, “Oh, Mirella? She’s such a nice girl.” And that’s true…until a mysterious, peculiar man and his beautiful wife enter our lives.

Weston and Bridget Hanson are no ordinary couple—they’re stunning, enigmatic, and sexy as hell. During the course of one unexpected evening, my ordinary world is turned upside down. How could it not be when Weston and Bridget propose the unthinkable? And when the unthinkable is so very tempting, giving in becomes inevitable.

It sounds so logical and simple. Just five rules and we can all have what we desire. But the heart doesn’t follow rules, and now passion, jealousy, and confusion threaten to tear everything apart.

Two beautiful couples. Five simple rules. One hot mess.

Purchase Links

Amazon.ca    Amazon.com   Amazon.uk

Connect with the Author

http://royacarmen.com/

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007361415244

https://twitter.com/royacarmen

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25521134-the-ground-rules

**INTERVIEW** Interview with Bestselling Author, Howard Kaplan: Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy Series #2)

Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy Series Book 2)We are absolutely overwhelmed to be interviewing espionage thriller author, Howard Kaplan, for a second time with regard to his second book of The Jerusalem Spy series, Bullets of Palestine. You may remember we interviewed the best selling author last October when his first book of the series, The Damascus Cover, was about to be filmed as a movie.

DAMASCUS COVER, KaplanWith the author’s personal experiences that inspired The Damascus Cover, and with stars such as Jonathan Reis Meyers (Match Point, The Tudors), Jürgen Prochnow (Das BootThe Da Vinci Code), Navid Negahban (Homeland, character Abu Nazir), Igal Naor (The Honourable Woman), and Sir John Hurt, we are very excited about it’s forthcoming release! For more on the film visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3457508/  With the movie now in post-production and many people awaiting it’s release, now is a great time to check out both books!

Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy series, Book 2)

Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy Series Book 2)

Synopsis:

Two agents. Two opposing sides.

Israeli Agent Shai is dispatched to eliminate a terrorist threat. To succeed in his mission Shai must win the trust of Palestinian Agent Ramzy who will help him gain access to the infamous and dangerous Abu Nidal.

Shai is under orders to kill Ramzy when the mission ends. Instead, they forge a friendship that transcends the hatreds of their heritage. Loyalties are tested. Will they capture Abu Nidal or betray each other? In a conflict where both sides dehumanize each other, two extremely human men, are caught in the cross-hairs of the larger war.

Buy at Amazon US and Amazon UK

INTERVIEW

Hello Howard, Welcome back to A Reader’s Review Blog. The last time we interviewed you for The Damascus Cover you certainly opened our eyes with your fantastic travel and life experiences. Thank you so much for your time and speaking with us again.

1. The last time we ‘spoke’ you were about to visit Casablanca on the film set of The Damascus Cover. How was your experience?

I spent a fabulous week in Casablanca and went out every day on the ten hour shoot. I’m beyond fortunate at the caliber of the cast. John Hurt was not there while I was, but I saw a lot of the romantic scenes shot with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Olivia Thirlby. Jonny, as JRM likes to be called, is intense, passionate and a perfectionist. His cover is Hans Hoffman, and he does the entire film with a remarkable German accent, his hair dyed blonde. A language coach from Berlin was on the set full time and listened to every take. Both of them were zealous that none of his Irish brogue slip into the German accented English. At breakfast in the hotel, I asked the German actor, Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot, DaVinci Code) who plays a former Nazi in Damascus how it sounded. With a smile, he said, “Familiar.” Thirlby, best known as the sister in Juno, was particularly interesting. Unlike Jonny who hit the same delivery on take after take, Olivia roamed and tried each one a little differently until she and the director found a remarkable spot in both dialog and facial expressions. The producer told me I’d be bored and want to head off to the more exotic Marrakesh or Fez, but I stayed on set the entire week I was there.

 

2. Shortly after your visit to Casablanca the 2nd edition of Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy series #2) was released. Could you tell us when the first edition was published, and if it brought back some memories for you from that time?

 

Bullets of Palestine, first published in 1987, is set 10 years after Damascus. What I was most reminded of in rereading it was all the locales I visited throughout the Middle East and Europe, such as Albufeira on the Portuguese coast to research events that actually happened there, in this case, the shooting at the Socialist International there. This was during Israel’s War with Lebanon and the army took me into Lebanon for a day, as part of a foreign press junket. I did not make it as far as Beirut then, though I had been in Beirut years earlier, but we reached Sidon on the coast and then on the way back to Israel I was able to visit the outdoor Ansar Prison Camp which the Israelis had set up just inside Lebanon. In truth reading it and reliving all this was more fun than I expected, as like many writers I’m among my harshest critics.

3. The bigger picture of Bullets of Palestine is the character, (Israeli) Agent Shai trying to eliminate a terrorist threat, however it is also a story of a growing friendship, between Shai and (Palestinian) Agent Ramzy, and how that friendship is tested to it’s limits. Albeit, not on the same scale of things, being a man of extensive travel, have you experienced a testing/trying relationship due to cultural or religious differences?

I traveled freely to Arab villages in the West Bank and a number of those scenes and meals have made it into Bullets. I’ve spent a lot of time with Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem. Recently a Palestinian merchant I’ve bought silk carpets from over the years took me on a tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the back alleys of the Arab Quarter. This spring, after the shoot in Casablanca, I went to Jerusalem. Unlike the characters in my novel I have not had a battle with trust with people from a different culture. I find if you approach people with interest in their world, they’re generally eager to share it with you.

4. Are there completely new characters in Bullets of Palestine, making it a stand alone read, or is there a cross reference with the characters or story with The Damascus Cover?

The common thread between the two books is the Colonel, the head of the Israeli secret service, who is the puppet master in both novels and is played in the film by John Hurt. I created new protagonists for Bullets, because while Damascus dealt with the conflict between Israel and its nation state neighbors, I wanted now to turn to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the great challenge for both societies. So I created a Palestinian terrorist-novelist, based on a real person, Ghassan Kanafani, who is well known in the Arab world though not in the West. He was so dangerous as a writer that the Israelis blew him up in a car bomb in Beirut. For his Israeli counterpart, I used a very old friend of mine from Jerusalem, Avraham Infeld, as the template. He’s President Emeritus of Hillel worldwide on college campuses, and a larger than life exuberant guy. I wanted characters who were the salt of the earth, deeply ingrained in their own cultures and at the same time thoughtful contemplative men. So I drew on real such people.

5. Are you aware of any plans for Bullets of Palestine to be filmed? Do you think the success of The Damascus Cover will have any bearing on this?

Both the producer and director of the film have asked and have copies of Bullets now, but they’re focused on finishing this film which is in post production. I expect it to hit theaters early in 2016. Sure success matters a lot, it causes people to knock on your door, or the lack of it, to not open theirs.

6. You have some photographs on your Facebook page of meeting the cast and crew? Were there any highlights that you’d like to share?

Navid Negahban who played Abu Wazir in Homeland plays General Sarraj, the head of the Syrian Secret Service, in my film. He arrived in Casablanca a couple of days after I did and they fitted him with a black wig. Since I’m bald I asked if I could have it after the shoot. We had a lot of fun joking about it and someone online photoshopped a picture of me with it on. Jonny is more private, for example ate breakfast in his hotel room rather than the dining room, but I got to spend some time with him between takes. He’s remarkable, left school I think at something like 7th grade but is an autodidact. He can converse easily on a vast range of subjects and in several languages. It was interesting too to watch him with all the people who approached him, many young Moroccan women who wanted a photo with him. He obliged them all. He was particularly charming with children, and you’ll see a photo on my Facebook author page where he’s with the daughter of the owner of the carpet factory where we shot that day. The little girl was nervous and he charmed her into letting me take the photo for her father.

7. Although a story of defence, friendship and loyalties, are there any moments of love/romance in Bullets of Palestine, as you had in The Damascus Cover?

The love stories in Bullets are very different than the one in Damascus. In Damascus, Ari is recently separated from his wife and begins a new torrid romance with someone he’s not sure he can trust. The Palestinian character, Ramzy, in Bullets is in a wonderful marriage but struggling with the difficulties of being gone so much, always in danger, and trying to maintain a home life. The Israeli, Shai, lost his wife in a car accident, has begun a new relationship at home with a younger woman who works in administration inside the Service. It is new love, but there too, like his Palestinian counterpart, they are separated more than together and feel the strain.

8. Are there any moments in Bullets of Palestine that you have based loosely on your own life experiences?

Bullets is not at all based on my life, though it is vastly based on real life events. The Palestinian and Israeli are edged into working together to capture Abu Nidal, who was in fact, the most dangerous terrorist of the 1980s, and a real person. The novel opens with the assassination of the Israeli Ambassador to Great Britain, Shlomo Argov, which is an historical event. Abu Nidal wanted to goad Israeli Prime Minister, Arik Sharon, into invading Lebanon to crush the PLO, who Bu Nidal viewed as too moderate. He succeeded. I land my Palestinian character, Ramzy, in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps when the Israelis surrounded the camps lit the night sky for the Christian Phalange fighters so they could eliminate the PLO fighters hiding in the refugee camps. This too is an historical event. The fighters had already fled and Ramzy witnesses the massacre of old men, women and children by the Lebanese Christians as the Israelis paved the way unaware the fighters were gone. It tests Ramzy to remain working with the Israelis. Then too, unbeknownst to Ramzy, his budding Israeli friend has been ordered to kill him once Abu Nidal is dead.

9. Despite not reading too much fiction yet on the threat of terrorism, I am an avid fan of the tv series Homeland and 24. Do you tend to watch movies/tv programmes in this genre? If so, which ones are your favourite?

I love great suspense films and TV. Emphasis on “great.” Homeland is great, one of the best things of the genre ever done. I watched the Maggie Gyllenthall miniseries The Honourable Woman. She’s marvelous. Igal Naor who played Shlomo in that show is also in my film as a Syrian General and the nemesis of Navid Negahban. But the miniseries was full of cliff hangers and turns meant to be exciting but ultimately were impossible to both follow and believe, as were all the complications. Gary Oldman did an honourable turn as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Solider Spy but it is such a magnificent and dense book that that too was very hard to follow. The earlier 7- part British mini-series with Alec Guinness of the same LeCarre novel is a wonder to behold. The miniseries Dig set in Jerusalem was a mess and unwatchable. Again, some writers and directors think that throwing nonsense cliffhangers at the end of episode creates suspense but ultimately it creates annoyance. Great characters are crucial,which is why too that Homeland is so wonderful and successful.

10. Your work on both books has been extremely successful despite the subject of terrorism being a sensitive one. Have you had any negative reactions to your work?

Bullets has a 4.8 Customer Rating on Amazon out of 5 with only one negative review. Though written in 1987, it seems to have found its time in the current environment. It is greatly realized, or should be, that reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians is the only future for Israel and Palestinians. The book has been widely lauded in both the Arab and Israeli press as well as in mainstream newspapers. However, I expected blowback from those who see Palestinians as “the other”, and who believe might, which is a requirement for deterrence, alone is sufficient. So far it hasn’t come. Maybe those people too, deep down, known a deal needs to be done.

11. After the success of both The Damascus Cover and Bullets of Palestine, have you any plans to release another novel in the Jerusalem Spy series?

I’m working now on a new book that has not been published before called To Destroy Jerusalem. It will deal with the nuclear issue and have the same two protagonists as Bullets. The Colonel will be there though he’s a bit potty now, long in retirement, and rather than pulling the strings, is the moral center Shai, where he goes when trouble or in doubt.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. It has been an absolute pleasure.

Howard Kaplan Author Photo 1About the Author:

Howard Kaplan, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Israel and traveled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. At the age of 21, he had his own spy experience while attending school in Jerusalem, when he was sent on two missions into the Soviet Union to smuggle out a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm. His first trip was a success. On his second trip, however, he was arrested in Khartiv and interrogated for two days in the Ukraine and two days in Moscow, before being released. He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley, an MA in the Philosophy of Education from UCLA, and is the author of four novels. Follow him on Twitter at @kaplanhow.

 

 

**Release day ARC REVIEW w/Author Interview** Palace of Deception by Helena Fairfax

It is an absolute pleasure to introduce you to Helena Fairfax’s latest release, Palace of Deception. It is a beautiful romantic suspense novella, with mystery. And to help celebrate it’s release, not only have we reviewed this sweet romance, but we also have a super interview with the author herself, where Helena will not only be talking about her novels, but also her blogging, social networking, her involvement with the Romantic Novelist Association, and much, much more!!

Sweet, sexy & suspenseful

palace of deception Author: Helena Fairfax

Title: Palace of Deception

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Mystery

Release date: August 2nd, 2015

Length: 76 pages

Blurb: A sinister housekeeper, a silent bodyguard, and a missing princess – mystery and intrigue in this gripping romantic suspense.

Lizzie Smith is contacted by her old drama teacher over the summer and offered the acting job of her life. Princess Charlotte of Montverrier has disappeared on the eve of her Investiture…and Lizzie must take her place.

But in the run up to the ceremony, all is not what it seems in the Palace of Montverrier. Why does the housekeeper insist Lizzie keep to her suite of rooms? What danger lies outside the palace walls? As Lizzie learns her role, her only confidant is Léon, her quiet bodyguard…but what secrets is he keeping from her?

Mystery and suspense against the backdrop of a beautiful Mediterranean city.

REVIEW

There are many reasons to fall for this romantic novella; not only is the suspense powerful and intense, and captivating with a hot bodyguard in Léon, but the story is set in a picturesque town between mountains and the Mediterranean, which is perfect for a romance. Yes, Montverrier is described so beautifully by the author that you can actually picture yourself there.

Lizzie is instantly likeable and the reader can sense that her drama teacher thinks highly of her, especially to ask her to become involved in such a covert task in taking the place of Princess Charlotte of Montverrier after she has disappeared! One cannot deny the ease and optimism that Lizzie has when accepting the job, albeit she is not completely aware of the full situation.

But, I must admit, aside from the scenic setting, it is Léon that makes my head turn. Meeting Lizzie for the first time in his leathers and taking her back to the palace on his bike, it is hardly believable that he is a bodyguard for the Princess. And yet, his whole mannerism, politeness and care do tell a different story, making him very believable and extremely sexy.

I absolutely love the chemistry between Léon and Lizzie. It is clear before too long that Lizzie is expected to remain in her suite for the full five weeks she is to be at the Palace, and with an emotionally cold housekeeper in Daria, Léon is the only human contact with warmth that she has. I love the mild smiles he passes her, over Daria’s shoulder, and the cute winks he makes – all of which help assure Lizzie that she will be okay. Yes, I found myself smiling at some moments.

Regardless of the mystery surrounding the missing Princess, and the fact that Lizzie feels like a prisoner at times, it is the fact that Léon spends day and night with her that provides her with some comfort. Léon’s character is perfect for the suspense. A man of little words, and yet his actions and expressions speak so loud, it is impossible to not be taken in by him. I’m sure every reader will wish to be in Lizzie’s shoes! I certainly wouldn’t mind being guarded by him!

Lizzie is aware that the situation isn’t quite right at the Palace as she is made to remain in her quarters, the housekeeper is a little stern and cold to say the least towards her, and she is aware of the dislike some members of the public have on the Princess’ s Investiture. Just what danger is she in? Does Léon know? And, will he really protect her?

If you’re looking for a short, suspenseful romance, in a setting you can only dream of, then Palace of Deception is the book for you. As always, it is written in the sophisticated and classy manner that Helena Fairfax is known for, and I have no doubt that her fans and new readers alike will love this sweet, sexy and suspenseful novella.

An ARC copy of Palace of Deception was provided by the author in return for an honest and fair review.

Released today, Palace of Deception is now available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Author Interview with Helena Fairfax

 Hello, Helena, and thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some of our questions.

Hi, Caroline and Tina. Thanks so much for having me. It’s lovely to be with you again!

After having just finished reading Palace of Deception, I must say how beautiful the setting is in Montverrier for your story. How did you decide where to set the story?

One summer there were terrible floods in the UK, but I’d been lucky enough to escape on holiday. I was watching the flooding on the news in my hotel room in Nice, where outside the sun was glittering on the sea. The south coast of France is such a beautiful coastline, and the light is like nothing you would find in northern England. Everything seems bright blue and white, and such a contrast with rainy Yorkshire. The holiday stayed in my mind long after I got home and the floods went down. I based the fictional Mediterranean principality of Montverrier on Monaco, which I find a place with a fairy tale quality to it. And in summer it’s lovely and hot!

And, I am very eager to find out how you dreamed up Léon and the intensity between him and Elizabeth.

I had a clear image of Léon in my mind at the start of the story. I wanted to make him someone quiet, who at first is only protecting Lizzie because that’s his job, but then of course they are thrown together, and his desire to look after her becomes much more complicated! The background of suspense and the constant hint of danger add to the way their feelings for one another deepen and intensify. And although Léon is quiet, Lizzie begins to realise that under that silent exterior beats a passionate heart!

Did you plan to write a novella initially, or did you begin writing and waited to see how it worked length-wise?

I first wrote Palace of Deception as a short story, but I realised the characters would have much more depth if I made it longer. I much prefer it now as a novella. Léon is a far more rounded and interesting character now, and filling in the backstory of Lizzie’s life in Edinburgh makes her someone readers can sympathise with.

After writing both full length novels and now a novella, do you find you have a preference? Or is it a case of depending on how the story pans out?

That’s a great question! I really enjoyed writing this novella. It was a lot of fun to do, and I plan to write more – perhaps next time with a winter theme. But I also enjoy writing the full length books, as I can immerse myself in them far more deeply and for a longer period. I really don’t think I can choose one over the other. I like them both, for very different reasons!

I have also noticed that you now have your publishing rights back for The Silk Romance and The Antique Love. Have you any specific plans to relaunch them?

Both books were originally published a couple of years ago. I haven’t made a big deal of relaunching them, but I have put them both back up on Amazon for now, and they’ll be in other online stores from September. It’s been great having control of the books. The Antique Love was a freebie for a few days, for example, and is now selling well in the US in particular. It gained quite a few more 4 and 5 star reviews because of it, which was really nice to see! I plan to do the same with The Silk Romance once the launch of Palace of Deception is underway.

Have you thought about deviating from contemporary romances and writing historical romances, or penning different genres?

Funnily enough, that question has been on my mind a lot recently. Earlier this year I was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize for a young adult novel, which I’ve written in a completely different style to my contemporary romances. I’d love to write both genres – perhaps using a different name for the YA novels – and it’s one of my aims this year to finish off this particular YA novel and to explore this genre more fully.

With the advent of social media and the internet, I imagine the life of a writer is now far less lonely than in previous generations. How useful have you found social media and the internet to you personally in your journey as a writer?

Social media and the internet have been invaluable. A whole new era of publishing has begun now, with e-publishing, and I’ve made great friends with authors all over the world. We’re able to pool resources and support each other in a way that was unheard of twenty years ago. Having my first novel published was a great experience because I was able to share the moment online. I also find it’s far easier to meet up with other lovers of romance (especially through blogs like yours) and discover new authors. Before, I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about my love of romance. Now there’s a whole brilliant tribe online!

We find your blog fascinating with all of the writing tips, author interviews and general writing experiences that you share. How do you find the time to do both your blog and writing? And, which do you prefer?

I’ve been able to reach out to other readers and writers through my blog, and I really enjoy communicating with people this way. When I first started blogging, I decided to post twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, and I’ve stuck to that. It does take discipline, but writing in any form takes discipline if you want to make a success of it. If I had to choose between blogging and writing novels, then I’d definitely choose writing novels, but it’s fun to be able to do both!

I noticed on your blog recently that you have a re-worked cover on your previous release, A Way From Heart to Heart. Do you have an idea of the front covers yourself, or do you leave it in the hands of an artist/photographer to design?

My designers have always asked what I’d like to see on the cover, and I give them the germ of an idea – nothing concrete. I don’t want to be too rigid about it, because they always have such good ideas themselves. Then I leave it in their hands, and I’ve always been surprised and delighted with what they’ve come up with. I really enjoy this side of publishing. I used to work in the print industry for many years and have a lot of experience working with designers. I admire what they’re able to do, and wish I had their skill!

Would you like to tell us about your involvement with the Romantic Novelist Association and how it has helped you with your writing career?

I joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme a few years ago, and it was through them that I wrote my first novel, The Silk Romance. The critique I received in the scheme was invaluable, and helped me on my way to publication. Since then I’ve made many friends in the RNA and met many people in the publishing industry through attending RNA events. I was given the chance to pitch my latest book to several agents at the last RNA conference, for example, which is an opportunity I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I can recommend joining for any romance writer, no matter what stage your career is at.

How helpful do you think entering writing awards are for authors? Would you like to share your experiences of them?

Entering competitions is a great discipline and a great way to get yourself noticed by agents and publishers. As I mentioned before, I entered my YA novel for the Exeter Novel Prize earlier this year. It was shortlisted by Broo Doherty of the DHH Agency. Broo is an agent I really admire, and having my work noticed by her was a real boost, and gave me the confidence to carry on and finish the novel. Bro was able to offer me advice, too, in which direction my career should take. Writing awards can be a great help to authors – and if you succeed, they are an excellent addition to your author profile.

Can you sum up your experience as an author in five words? If this is too much to ask we’d love to hear your thoughts in a paragraph or two!

Stressful, work, exciting, joyful, fulfilling

Are you currently working on a new book? If so, can you share any hints as to the storyline?

I’m currently working on two books – the YA novel I mentioned above, which is a time slip novel, featuring a fifteen-year-old heroine and a Roman soldier. I’ve also just finished a contemporary romance set in an ailing hotel in the Lake District. I’m hoping that one will be published next year. Fingers crossed!

Is there anything else which you would like to share with us and our readers?

Just to say I’ve followed your blog for a long time, and really enjoy it. I’ve found lots of new authors here, and I just love a place where people can get together to talk about their love of romance and reading. Thanks for having me!

Thank you for your time. We wish you every success with the release of Palace of Deception and any future works. – Caroline & Tina xx

You may be aware of Helena’s previous works in The Silk Romance, The Antique Love and A Way From Heart to Heart, all of which are best sellers and truly lovely reads too!

You can also check out an author post from Helena – In Praise of Romance Reviewers

And, you can follow Helena’s blog here, where you can find out all about her work, her inspiriations, author interviews with her favourite authors, reviews, writing and publishing tips, and much, much more!!

**BLOG TOUR** ~ Bound Series (A Dark Secrets Spinoff), by A. M. Hudson (includes author interview)

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A.M. HUDSON

BOUND SERIES

A DARK SECRETS SERIES SPINOFF

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Blurb 

New world. New powers. New enemies. Elora enters the dark world of secrets from her parents’ past, and in the midst of discovering her new abilities and learning how to use them, she will be forced to fight battles she’s unprepared for in a war that supposedly ended twenty-two years ago.

Old enemies forge new friendships, leaving Elora lost and unsure who to trust, until a cocky vampire walks back into her life with a gift and a clue that will set the end of everything in motion.

The final chapter in the two-book Dark Secrets spin-off series, BOUND

About the Author

Bound author

AM Hudson is a music loving, book crazy, ultra passionate writer from Australia. She’s down-to-earth and as normal as a crazy person can be. A young girl at heart, she enjoys alternative music, lives to enjoy life, torture people in her novels and then write happy endings that are never forgotten.

Add her as a friend on Facebook at AM Hudson Author then join her and other fans for some crazy conversations at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dark-Secrets-Series

Sneak into Bound

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Interview

1. When did you first start writing?

A: I’ve been writing all my life; from short stories I’d ‘sell’ to my sisters, right up tomy first really terrible novel at 14. But the Dark Secrets series was my first really serious try,which has roughly been years ago maybe more.

2. What inspired you to write?

A: Music. I hear stories in all kinds of music and love to sit quietly and imagine what the story might be.

3. Who are some of your biggest influences?

A: That’s a tough one, because there aren’t really any literary ones these days. I’d say my influences are mostly musicians and filmmakers now. Peter Jackson, Muse,Thirty seconds to Mars and Birds of Tokyo, to name a few.

4. Is there a special place you go and a certain mind frame you like to be in before you write?

A: I have 4 kids. I write when they’re not hanging off my leg.

5. What’s the most exciting thing that happened to you during your writing career?

A: I could say hitting number one several times on Amazon, but I like to think my most exiting thing is yet to happen.

6. How do you come up with all the characters and different exciting plots?

A: I imagine or dream about a character then start writing the story and the rest just falls into place, as if I have an ‘invisible friend’ writing along with me, or as if the story happened somewhere else and I’m just telling it.

7. What authors have inspired you through your writing and how did they inspire you?

A: Stephen King inspires me toss out excuses as to why I can’t write and also to write boldly.

8. Do you have advice for any writer who’s struggling right now?

A: Nothing to it but to do it. The only guarantee you have with writing is that persistence pays and quitting leads to ultimate failure. You will begin as a terrible writer, as we all do, and you will get better. But only by actually writing.

9. What’s the silliest thing that you have ever experienced in your writing career?

A: One star reviews. Ha ha ha.

10. Could you share something extra that you would like your viewers to know about you are your writing?

A: I’m a chocoholic. I suck the candy off M & Ms, three at a time, then eat the chocolate, while I write. I’m also a huge Reign, TVD and Outlander fan.

Extra things your fans would like to know

Your favorite song? Exogenisis Symphony by Muse

Your favorite food? Cadbury chocolate. And Mexican food. But it has to be authentic.

Your favorite movie? Moulin Rouge

Bound books

I have really gotten to know Angie and she is is one of the the most down to to earth person I know and very kind hearted. I absolutely love her books. I would read anything she writes. She is so talented her words seem to bleed off the page into you heart lingering in your mind but never leaving your soul. It imprints as Jacob did on Renesseme!

If you want to follow her on facebook I have provided a link up above and you can one click her new book here on my blog as well. Go to amazon this site and give her a like please. I would like to that A M Hudson for letting me do this interview during her busy time because I know how hard it could be with writing and kids. Kudus to you Angie.

Bound 1 Ebook

http://www.amazon.com/Bound-AM-Hudson-ebook/dp/B00U1UCN9U/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?

Bound Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Bound-1-M-Hudson/dp/1508965471

Bound 2 Ebook

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Z1PP9L4?%2AVersion%2A=1&%2Aentries%2A=0

Stalk A.M. Hudson

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/A.M.-Hudson/e/B006GJUIOC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1436550828&sr=8-2-

Personal pages

Angie Hudson

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006087213776&fref=ts

Dark Secrets Fan page

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dark-Secrets-Series

Author page

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-AM-Hudson/182780011734465?fref=ts

Dark Secrets Series Fan Club

https://www.facebook.com/TheDarkSecretsSeriesFanClub?fref=ts

Dark Secrets Chat Goup

https://www.facebook.com/groups/146765488865405/

Dark Secrets The Movie fan page

https://www.facebook.com/DarkSecretsMovie?fref=ts

Bound Series page

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bound-Series/412991222210462?fref=ts

Street Team

https://www.facebook.com/groups/457803301039480/

Join the Release party of Bound Series!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bound-Series/412991222210462?fref=ts

Other books

A.M. Hudson Changed her covers!

Links to books

Dark Secrets Series

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Secrets-1-M-Hudson/dp/1503051188/ref=sr_1_4?

The Heart’s of Ashes

http://www.amazon.com/Hearts-Ashes-Dark-Secrets-Book-ebook/dp/B008DS35CQ/ref=sr_1_7?

Mark of Betrayal

http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Betrayal-M-Hudson/dp/1514732769/ref=sr_1_9?

Lies in Blood

http://www.amazon.com/Lies-Blood-M-Hudson/dp/1514732602/ref=sr_1_10?

Echoes and Silience book 1

http://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Part-Silence-Dark-Secrets/dp/151434906X/ref=sr_1_1?

Echoes and Silence book 2

http://www.amazon.com/Silence-Part-Echoes-Dark-Secrets-ebook/dp/B00SWZXPDO/

Willa Wicked

http://www.amazon.com/Willa-Wicked-Charming-AM-Hudson-ebook/dp/B00NMLN1K0/

**Blog Tour for Living The Dream** by Celia J Anderson PLUS Author Interview and Excerpt (includes giveaway)

 Contemporary Romance

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We have a real treat in store today! Not only are we hosting an interview with Celia J Anderson, but we are also sharing an excerpt from her latest contemporary romance Living The Dream. Scroll down to read the interview, find out more about the book and enter a super giveaway. Without further ado, over to Celia!

Welcome to our humble corner of cyberspace Celia and thank you for allowing us to quiz you about Living the Dream, your new release. I am really intrigued by the premise behind this book, where dreams collide with reality!

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what prompted you to start writing?

Thanks for the invitation; it’s lovely to be here! I’ve always written to amuse myself but only really began to take it seriously when, hurtling towards my 40th birthday, I retrained as a teacher. The creative writing tutor at my local adult education place (I realised I needed a year of brain-refreshing lessons first) was inspirational and one of the projects was to come up with the first chapter of a book. It was an addictive task. That book – Moondancing – was pretty awful, but I carried on regardless and three novels later, Moondancing has had a huge revamp and is coming out in January 2016. Now I teach full time, the writing opportunities are dwindling, but the holidays are coming up…

2. Your novel delves into virtual reality, a subject which I find fascinating- somehow I’m imagining Keanu Reeves as Moriarty Miles (but enough of my fantasies). Did you have to do much research into this concept or did you give your imagination free reign?

I’ve got to confess I’m the most rubbish researcher ever. I only stop and dig deeper when I have to, or boredom takes over before I can get the story down. I’d love to be better at planning and so on, but it happens when it needs to, and that has to be enough at the moment. It’s a fascinating subject though. Incidentally, in my head, Moriarty is a cross between Andrew Scott of the Sherlock TV series who plays Jim Moriarty and the guy who was best man at my first wedding. Discretion prevents me from enlarging on this…

3. What was your inspiration for the story and the characters?

The heroine, Vita, was named after a charismatic friend of my mum’s who died in the prime of her life. I didn’t know her well because we only saw her once a year. She ran a wonderful B&B with a wild, rambling garden on the east coast, and she stayed in my mind, somehow, even though I was only a child when she died. 

The story evolved from the trip that I took with my family in 2013 – across the USA mainly by train. It was amazing! I wanted to experience it again and again and the best way to keep the memories alive was to write them down. Vita’s journey is pretty much an exact copy, with a bit of artistic licence. The fantasy part came from my love of imagining the perfect holiday and place to have it. It was brilliant fun to write.

3. What did you find were the most challenging aspects of writing it? 

Trying to make the whole thing hang together time-wise. It was really important to tie everything together properly and as I’ve already said, planning is my worst nightmare. Mandy James, critique partner extraordinaire, and Christine McPherson, my wonderful editor at Tirgearr knocked it into shape quite painlessly. I’ll be eternally grateful for their help.

4. What is your writing process like? To what extent do you plan the characters and plot and how much do you just let the words flow?

I usually get straight into writing the first couple of chapters and then make myself stop and focus on the characters’ ages, back stories, favourite foods, best moments etc. Then I go back in and write like crazy. I edit every time I write – it’s therapeutic playing with the words and polishing the work as it goes along. 

5. Do you write every day? Also how do you cope if you experience writer’s block?

In the school holidays I write every day, and I try to fit a good chunk of work into the weekends during tranquil periods, but sometimes work is so full on that my brain won’t focus on writing at all. I’ve started to accept that situation more, instead of raging inwardly (and outwardly sometimes!) I really love working with children and you have to remind yourself that they deserve your whole attention. They only have one childhood and it needs to be the best possible one.

6. If you could give an aspiring author one tip, what would it be?

Learn to spoil yourself. Know what helps you to unwind and let the words flow, whether it’s a hot bubbly bath, a large glass of chilled wine, a cuddle, time to read a good book, a walk or if you’re very lucky, a writers’ retreat or a get together with your writing buddies. My fabulous friends, who blog as the Romaniacs, and Mandy James (mentioned above) are my sanity. We can discuss anything, we prop each other up when the rejections come in, celebrate the good times and get together in person as often as possible, although Facebook is our lifeline.

7. Have you any favourite genres or authors you like to read yourself?

I love Kate Atkinson, Mavis Cheek, Liane Moriarty, Elizabeth George, Alexander McCall Smith and numerous others. Lately I’ve been lucky enough to join a live Radio book club on BBC Radio Derby with Authors Tracy Bloom and Joanna Courtney, and some of the choices have taken me out of my comfort zone in the best possible way, but when I’m sad or worried I go back to my late mum’s ancient collection of novels by D.E Stevenson and Elizabeth Goudge. Bliss.

8. Can you share with us about what you are working on at the moment?

My work in progress is a bit darker than the norm for me. It’s called Hidden Depths, and centres round the relationship between a controlling mother and a previously repressed daughter. Strangely enough its focus is a cruise down the Rhone – guess where I went this summer?

9. And finally, have you a message for readers?

I’m thrilled to think some of you will read Living the Dream, and hope you’ll try the other two – Little Boxes and Sweet Proposal, with Moondancing and Hidden Depths to follow. Thanks for reading my ramblings – whether you’re an avid reader or a writer yourself (or both) I hope you continue to enjoy what you do.

Once again, thank you Celia for taking time out of your busy schedule. We wish you the best of luck with the release of Living the Dream and your career as a writer.

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Excerpt:

The stop press news of the day is that Ronan’s body is one day going to help others less fortunate. He made the announcement this morning just as I limped into the bedroom, still damp from the shower and with my left foot dripping with blood after standing on my razor. He’d taken ages in the bathroom so I was already late for work. He usually waits until he hears the door slam behind me before he even sticks a toe out of bed, but today he sneaked in there while I was making a cup of tea.

This isn’t the first time that Ronan’s seemed preoccupied with his own death. The idea that he’s not long for this world has been brewing for a week or two, ever since he had that dizzy spell when he was bending over to get the last bottle of vodka from the bargain bucket in Sainsbury’s.

‘I’m away into town to the solicitors to make my will,’ he said, frowning at the trail of blood on the cream carpet, ‘just in case you forget the details of what I want when the time comes.’

‘I’m not sure why you’re bothering. It’s bound to be a really boring will. Our flat’s rented and we haven’t got any children or savings, have we? Unless you know something I don’t?’

‘Well, that’s just the sort of thing you would say, Vita.’ Ronan gritted his teeth and sucked in his stomach. He’d made his choice of clothes for the day after some consideration, and was wearing his only suit for the first time in years but the trousers were refusing to fasten. ‘You never give a thought to the future, do you? Stuck in this one-horse town, doing a pointless job that’s nothing but putting up with people banging on about their own miserable little lives. You’ve got no ambitions.’

‘How do you know I’ve got no ambitions? When do you ever ask me about them? And anyway, I thought you liked living in Clayton-on-the-Bream? You always said it was the next best thing to the coast, with the river and the castle and everything.’ I ran out of steam, rather surprised at myself for jumping in to defend my home town so quickly and passionately. Okay, Clayton wasn’t the most exciting place on earth, but it was pretty and peaceful and not too touristy – far enough from the Cotswolds to miss out on the trippers looking for tea, scones and antiques, and only a couple of hours from St Pancras on a fast train. Ronan pulled a face.

‘This dead and alive hole? You’re kidding me, aren’t you? There’s nothing here for me – if I had my way I’d go right back to London in a heartbeat.’

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Blurb:

When dreams and reality crash and mingle, escape can be the hardest challenge of all.

Longing to get away from her troubled marriage, the opportunity to cross America by train seems like a dream come true for Vita Craythorne. But charismatic travel agent Moriarty Miles has other ideas; by replacing her friend Jack on the trip, Vita has unwittingly set herself up as a guinea pig for Moriarty’s mind-blowing and potentially dangerous new virtual-holiday project. His idea is to give clients the holiday of a lifetime without ever having to leave the comfort of their favourite chair. It’s exciting. It’s innovative. It could be just what Vita needs. That is, if she can avoid becoming trapped inside her own, miraculous dream world.

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Here are my buy links:

http://celiajanderson.co.uk/books/living-the-dream/ 

Author Bio:

celia

Celia J Anderson is passionate about writing, cake, wine and long walks in the Quantock hills or on random beaches. She is very proud to be the assistant head at a Catholic primary school in the Midlands and divides her time between walking off the cake, inventing imaginary worlds and teaching English and drama.

http://celiajanderson.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/CeliaJAndersonAuthor

http://www.twitter.com/celiaanderson1 

GIVEAWAY! 

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