Friday, 13 September 2013

Tardy Blogger, Busy Summer & Surreal Moments

Firstly, apologies for being a very tardy blogger! My excuses are:

1) It's been an incredible summer and I've been making the most of my daughter's last few weeks in Jersey before she goes off to start uni - gulp!
2) Also, it's been such glorious weather that we've made the most of it by being outside as much as possible,
3) I've finished the first draft of a new book - LOVED writing it - it's a little different to anything else I've written,
4) I've been job hunting,
5) I've also been away on a cruise to the Mediterranean for the past ten days, visiting Lisbon, Cartagena, Gibraltar, Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome. I had a surreal moment as we were embarking when Rob picked up a Writers' Forum magazine they were giving away (together with other business mags) and spotted an interview I'd done with Sally Quilford on page 62! Then there was a sad announcement from the Captain when he told us that Sir David Frost had died on-board the ship, however, we did have a memorable trip for other reasons, here are a few pics...

This is the Queen Elizabeth in Monte Carlo:

Ponte Vecchio in Florence - a place I've always longed to visit and wasn't disappointed.
We  and visited the Park Guell and saw this house by Gaudi (as well as others),

This is my 601st blog post - I was stunned to make this discovery - and I'll try not to take so long to post the 602nd one. I hope you had an incredible summer too, now here's to a magical autumn...

Monday, 29 July 2013

Pain and the Back Lawn

Recently Himself aka Grumpy aka Maxmillan - the breeder's husband misspelt his name when registering him and left out two 'i's, he should have been Maximillian - anyway, what was I saying...oh yes, the poor chap was recently walking on our back lawn and stood on a small shard of wood, hurting his paw. We took him to the vet to check that nothing was in his paw and telling the vet that he's now too scared to walk on the back lawn. However, his foot is fine, but he has arthritis in that leg and the vet thinks that Grumps is associating his pain with the lawn... typical!

He's now on painkillers for a week and we have to make sure he doesn't over exert himself - easier said than done. He's either asleep, or racing up the stairs barking at one of the children, or any birds who inadvertently land in our garden. I'm having to carry him up and down the stairs, which isn't too bad, but he's a heavy little devil and it doesn't help that he's impatient and can't wait for me to take tea, laundry, etc upstairs and then come back down for him. I've tried to take him up and then go back down for the tea, linen, etc, but he just races down to meet me again.

So, I'm building muscles, while he's scared of the back lawn. I'm sure we'll work it out soon...

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Me & Mr Jones Gift Set from Soap Dodger

I recently entered a competition to celebrate the publication of Lucy Diamond's latest book, Me and Mr Jones, to win a gorgeous selection of beautiful - both to look at and smell - products from Soap Dodger. Not only are they equisitely wrapped, but everything arrived in a box in the shape of a book with the cover of Me and Mr Jones depicted on the front. A perfect pick-me-up!

Soap Dodger use bath and beauty products that are skin friendly and most are suitable for people with sensitive skin, so that really appeals to me, they are also made fresh to order and you can order them online.

Thanks, Soap Dodger, I'm going to enjoy working my way through these beautiful products!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Jenny Barden in the Plotting Shed

To celebrate the paperback release of Jenny Barden's wonderful novel, Mistress of the Sea, I've invited Jenny to the Plotting Shed to tell us a little more about her book and her heroine's horror of bear bating, a prolific sport in Elizabethan England. Over to you, Jenny...

I fly out to the Historical Novel Society's Conference in Florida on Friday, and I'll be taking plenty of insect repellent and sunblock as well as a few copies of my paperback due to be released tomorrow since it's not yet available in the States. (I can always hit the mozzies with it, if nothing else!) On browsing the programme I noticed this in the headline of a session about cliches in HF and how to avoid them: 'The Feisty Heroine Sold into Marriage Who Hates Bear Baiting'. It caught my eye because my novel, 'Mistress of the Sea', begins with a scene in a bear garden, as the baiting rings were called in Elizabethan times. I also have a feisty heroine and she ends up joining a voyage aboard Francis Drake's ship to the Caribbean partly because she longs to escape the loveless marriage that her father has planned for her. Have I created a cliche? What's interesting about this is that the heroine in the session title 'hates' bear baiting, but my heroine, Ellyn, accepts it as part of Elizabethan life, which it was. She doesn't particularly like it, but she doesn't shy away from it; the bear garden is where she first meets the hero of the book.

All major towns in Elizabethan England had a bear garden; bear baiting was one of the Queen's favourite 'sports'. Yet I've heard some readers say that for Ellyn to watch bear baiting is incomprehensible. Surely she'd be sick or faint or scream out loud? Why begin with such a disgusting spectacle? In other words, they want the cliche, they want the loathing and the modern reaction. Happily, most readers have wanted to keep turning the pages even after my 'shock' beginning. Justin Neville (founder of the London Historical Fiction Book Group) said: 'The opening scene of the book is one of the most gripping and unusual I've ever come across. As soon as you read that, you know you're in a safe pair of hands... I promise you your heart will soon be in your mouth...' So plainly it worked for him. But should modern-day sensibilities be transposed into the past for our historical fiction? We accept the witchcraft in Philippa Gregory's novels, but we're not so keen on too much religion, even though it formed such a central part of life centuries ago. There seems to be an appetite for descriptions of torture, but not personal hygiene, at least not for feisty heroines! How aware are we, as readers, of expecting a mirror to our own standards and sensibilities in the protagonists of our fiction? Most of us would probably answer by saying we are aware and we do want authenticity in our HF, but as regards what we really like and empathise with, well, that's another matter - that can't easily be analysed, even by ourselves; it comes down to personal taste and that's shaped by the world in which we've grown up. I think good HF always straddles the divide between accuracy and engagement on a pivot that requires a fine balancing act to sustain. I just hope that in 'Mistress of the Sea' I've got that balance about right.

Why not take a peek, judge for yourself and maybe pre-order the new paperback version of Mistress of the Sea.

You can find out more about Jenny on her Website, follow her on Twitter @jennywilldoit or on Facebook.

Thanks, Jenny.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Phillipa Ashley's latest book, It Happened One Night, was published as an e book by Piatkus Entice on June 6th 2013.

If you haven't bought your copy yet, but would like to know more about the book, here's the blurb and an excerpt for you.

Sophie McBride has been in love with Adam Templar for as long as she can remember. Talented, brilliant and sexy, he shines like the sun over the tiny Lakeland village where she's grown up. Now, at eighteen, she has her own big ideas and what's more, Adam is home from university and has finally noticed her . . . really noticed her. When he asks her to a party, she dares to hope that all her dreams can come true, but what happens that night sets off a chain of events that bring heartbreak for Sophie - and lead to Adam leaving Langmere under the darkest of clouds.

Ten years later, no one is more shocked than Sophie to find him back in the village. Now an up-and-coming film director, he's returned to make a drama about a notorious local poet and brought his glamorous cast, crew - and girlfriend - with him. As the on-screen drama plays out, can Sophie and Adam lay the past to rest or will history repeat itself?

21 year old Adam Templar has finally made 18 year old Sophie McBride’s young life complete and asked her to spend the night with him at his younger sister’s birthday party – where he’s supposed to be in charge…

Adam emerged from the en suite, hurriedly buttoning up his Levis, “I have to go downstairs and make sure no one’s been killed in the past half-hour,” he said, shrugging on his T-shirt. “You stay here.”

“What, in bed?” asked Sophie, knowing exactly what he meant but wanting to hear him say it because it turned her on.

“Yes, in bed. Where else? You don’t think I’m wasting the fruits of the Bell’s condom machine, do you?” He sat down on the bed next to her, tilting her chin up in the cradle of his fingers. “This is going to sound crazy but I want you to know something. I didn’t just get you up here for a shag. I mean, of course I got you up here for a shag but I also want you know that this has meant more to me than a one-night stand.” He smiled and she held her breath. “Or even a two-shag stand. The truth is I’d like to see you again over what’s left of the summer.”

And then what? She wanted him to carry on. What would happen after the summer? She wanted so much more than a one-night stand too, no matter how much she’d convinced herself that having sex with him would be enough. Over the past few hours, hopes and expectations had somehow stolen into the room, no matter how hard she’d tried to keep them out.

“I’d like to see you too,” she said, marveling at how calm she sounded, while wanting to explode with happiness.

“Good. That’s great but . . . the thing is that, in a few months, we’ll both have to go away and it’s going to be bloody miserable and I don’t know how to fix that.”

She waited for him to carry on, hoping that he’d suddenly come up with some way to “fix it” and say they could carry on seeing each other once they were at university. She hoped he would say that he would drive up to her uni from Oxford every Friday or that she could come down on the train to his college. That he’d like her to meet his friends and wander the ivy-clad quads with his arm around her and that afterwards they could make love in his rooms all night, but he stayed silent and pushed back her wayward hair from her face in a way that Sophie should have found tender but instead found disappointing. She realised that he probably wasn’t going to offer to do any of those things – not tonight anyway but maybe, she thought, he might at the end of summer when they knew each other better.

“Then don’t worry. Let’s empty the machine at the pub and have a good time,” Sophie said brightly, hoping it was what he wanted to hear.

As if to remind them both, there were loud shrieks from outside in the garden.

“You’re right of course. We should just enjoy now, but we both know it’s not going to be that simple.”

He smiled. She wasn’t sure if he was relieved or not, but he seemed happier.

The music ramped up a notch and the floor of the room felt as if it was throbbing. The shrieks and screeches grew in volume. It sounded as if the whole of Langmere was out in the garden, which was probably almost true.

“Adam!” A girl’s voice screamed through the door.

‘For God’s sake. What now?’

There was hammering on the door. “Adam! Open the door!”

“Wait a minute!”

The door flew open and Tarnyah dashed into the room. Sophie dived under the sheets as Adam swore loudly. “Get out!”

Before Sophie had time to expect the girl to giggle or point or shriek in embarrassment at finding her and Adam half naked, Tarnyah started shouting. “They’re in the lake. They’re in the lake. Come quick.”

You can buy, It Happened One Night here: Amazon UK / Amazon US

You can find out more about Phillipa and her books on her Website, follow her on Twitter: @PhillipaAshley, or on Facebook 

Monday, 3 June 2013

My Liebster Award

Thank you Alison Morton for awarding me the Liebster Award.
The rules of the Liebster Award are:
  • Thank your Liebster Blog Award nominator on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you;
  • Answer the eleven questions from the nominator;
  • List eleven random facts about yourself:
  • Present the Liebster Blog Award to up to eleven other blogs that you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen;
  • Pass on the eleven questions to your nominees, or create new ones;
  • Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
1. What’s your favourite novel and what do you love about it? I loved Birdsong and have read it a couple of times, but then I enjoy reading novels about the Great War. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favourites, but my all-time favourite has to be Pride and Prejudice, I love drifting off into that other world so different from our own now and depicted beautifully by Jane Austen.

2. Do you have any pet peeves in fiction? Head-hopping in the same scene.

3. What are you most proud of? Apart from my children, it has to be when I signed with LBA Associates Ltd and not only the excitement of being represented by an agent, but by one as incredible as Luigi Bonomi. I still can’t quite believe it!

4. Your most and least favourite people in history? Likes:
  • Sir Harold Gillies (17 June 1882 – 10 September 1960) New Zealand-born, otolaryngologist who is widely considered the father of plastic surgery and whose skills made so much difference to the injured soldiers of WWI.
  • His cousin, Sir Archibald McIndoe (4 May 1900 – 11 April 1960) a pioneering New Zealand plastic surgeon who worked for the RAF during WWII and vastly improved the treatment and rehabilitation of badly burned aircrew.
  • Bill Gates III, the chairman of Microsoft, whose software made all the difference to my working day and my writing, by making computers easy enough for the technophobes of this world - like me - to use them.

Dislikes: Any of vile people who’ve spent their lives causing misery and pain to others, including Adolf Hitler, Vlad the Impaler, Idi Amin and the like. *shivers*

5. The country, city or other place you’d most like to visit? New Zealand, because it sounds/looks magnificent and I’ve never been there.

6. Which five people would you like to meet (dead, alive, or fictional)?
  • My grandfather who died when I was 21 months old because he achieved so much in his life and was such a fascinating character,
  • Sir Harold Gillies - see below - because I'd be fascinated to chat with him about his achievements,
  • My great-grandfather, Charles Wood, so that I could ask him for a photo for my dad.
  • Richard Armitage, well, why not?
  • Ernest Hemingway, when he lived in Paris, so that I could spend time with his friends and get to know them all a little bit.

7. What makes you laugh the most? Silly adverts on tv, probably. My children are always amazed when I laugh hysterically as the same thing a number of times.
8. If you could know the future, what would you wish for? I think the most exciting thing about the future is not knowing what is going to happen, but if I could have anything (apart from the usual health etc for my family) it would be to earn my living by writing books - incredibly successful ones, of course ;) – from my shed. Bliss.

9. If you won the lottery and could donate money to charity, which charity would you choose – and why?
  • Holidays for Heroes - who provide free holidays in Jersey for past or present members of H.M.Armed Forces injured whilst on or as a result of active service. I don’t know anyone in the armed forces, but think this is a wonderful charity that has now provided over 900 holidays since their launch in 2008.
  • Autism Jersey – because my god-son, one of the loveliest and most interesting people I know has Asperger syndrome.
  • RNLI – because I admire their bravery. My uncle was in the RNLI for years, still is, and my father was rescued from the sea (although not by the RNLI) when his plane crashed thirty years ago off the coast of France.
10. Do you suffer from any little phobias or superstitions? I’m terrified of spiders and screamed so loudly the first time Grumps played with a spider that he is now scared of them too. Or at least he was for the first ten years of his life, I spotted him playing with one yesterday. Yes, I screamed!

11. What’s your favourite guilty pleasure? Taking the ferry to St Malo for lunch.
Eleven random facts about me…
  • I stroked a rhino’s horn – and no, it’s not a euphemism and it was still on a live rhino!
  • I can ride side-saddle.
  • The headmistress of my first school told my father that I was charming, but that if I didn’t want to do something nothing could make me do it, so, in my father’s words, I was, ‘asked to leave’. He wasn’t impressed!
  • I’ve never lived more than two miles away from the sea, apart from when I stayed at my mother’s house in South Africa for a few months.
  • My favourite- food is either crab salad or hummus on seeded toast!
  • My grandmother won a place in the final of the world's international beauty competition at the Albert-hall in the late twenties. The first prize was £1,000 and a five years' film contract, but instead of letting her go to the finals her mother took her on holiday to Jersey where she met and married my grandfather (the one mentioned above).
  • The most incredible place I’ve ever visited was Pompeii, which felt like I was peeking into someone’s life who’d just popped out for a few minutes.
  • Jersey is small and it’s good to get away every so often, but I love living here and never seem to find the time to see all the historical attractions it offers.
  • I write letters by hand to my mum, although my handwriting isn’t too tidy.
  • I’ve spent years searching online for a photo of my great-grandfather, Charles Wood, who was in the 21st Lancers, without success.
  • The fastest horse I was ever lucky enough to ride was a racehorse owned by a diamond merchant years ago in South Africa.
Hmm, I’m not sure how interesting those eleven facts were…

My nominees are: (please feel free not to take this up):
Rosemary Gemmell - Reading and Writing Blog
Teresa Ashby - A Likely Story
These blogs are fun, interesting and I never tire of visiting them.
Thank you again to Alison for nominating me for the Liebster Award.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Happy Liberation Day

It's 9th May, it's sunny, we have a day off work and there are flags everywhere, so it must be Liberation Day.

We are constantly surrounded by reminders left behind by the occupying forces from the years they took over Jersey. We have the cement walls along some of the beaches, many bunkers (some opened up for visitors, which is always a sobering experience), The War Tunnels (cold, atmospheric and always makes me feel sad), as well as stories about evacuation from parents (my dad), and retold experiences of those who were stranded here throughout the Occupation, so we never really forget that it happened.

Today, though the island celebrates the end of the Occupation. We all stop work, put out the flags and pay thanks albeit through church services, parties, or simply in our thoughts that the island was liberated by the British troops on 9th May 1945. The alternative is something I doubt many of us wish to dwell upon.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

In the Newspaper

It's been an odd week filled with fun (meeting up with girlfriends over dinner and drinking, laughing, gossiping and drinking far too much champagne), sadness (saying goodbye to colleagues and other disappointments), hope (applying for job interviews, the sunshine reappearing) and meeting new people (giving out my Red Dust Road copies for World Book Night). I was also included in the Jersey Evening Post (the Jersey newspaper for the 95,000 locals) about my involvement in World Book Night.

So, a mixed week, but every experience, however uncomfortable at the time, is surely either a learning curve, or fodder for future writing... Yes?

Friday, 19 April 2013

World Book Night - Red Dust Road

I've collected my books for World Book Night from our library and am looking forward to handing them out. I'm hoping to meet up with three other givers to swap ideas, but I work near Liberation Square in St Helier and so, if you happen to be here on, or around 23rd, and see a confused blond woman carrying a bundle of books and walking up to strangers to ask them about their reading habits, don't be alarmed, it'll probably be me!

In the meantime, I'd better get on with my writing.

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Birthday, Writing & World Book Night

I had a wonderful birthday this week waking up to a beautiful sunny day, with lots of thoughtful gifts ranging from a Kindle Fire HD, a bracelet, bouquets of flowers, a gorgeous lavender plant for my garden, a bottle of champagne, a cover with keyboard for my Kindle Fire (see pic), many beautiful birthday cards and a fun meal out with Rob and Sas. There was good news from my agent, who liked a book idea of mine, so I've now got my head down and am writing the first draft of my next book - very exciting.
It hasn't been an easy start to 2013 - being made redundant from a job I love, etc - but I now feel that there are only good things to come and together with the warmer, (hopefully) sunnier weather that's on it's way, life is looking a lot brighter now.
My books for World Book Night have arrived in the island and I'm going to collect these tomorrow and meet with a few other Givers to discuss their ideas for distributing the books.
Hope you have a sunny, happy weekend.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Happy Easter

I'm hoping that now Easter is almost here maybe the warmer weather will be on it's way to us all, too.

Here's Grumps looking out for the Easter Bunny.

Grumps is oblivious that there won't be any chocolate eggs for him, but I'll make sure he has a treat in the way of a dental chew or something. Okay, so that's not exactly unusual, seeing that he has one each day, so maybe I'll let him have one of his slightly bigger chews while we're chomping through our hoard of chocolate eggs.

Unfortunately, once the eggs have been eaten, I'll have to dust the sideboard that's being hidden by the boxed eggs. Or I could buy more...

Friday, 1 March 2013

Guest Post - Inceptio by Alison Morton

Thank you very much for welcoming me to your blog, Debs.

Today, my debut novel, INCEPTIO, is published. Hooray! Three years of slog – researching, writing, and polishing – have led to this exciting moment. You know how much work it’s been when we’ve discussed writing at the conferences and meetings we’ve both attended.

It all started when as an eleven year old fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias in Spain I asked my father, “What would it be like if Roman women were in charge, instead of the men?” Maybe it was the fierce sun boiling my brain that day, maybe it was just a precocious kid asking a smartarse question. But clever man and senior ‘Roman nut’, my father replied, “What do you think it would be like?” Real life intervened (school, uni, career, military, marriage, motherhood, business ownership, move to France), but the idea bubbled away in my mind and INCEPTIO slowly took shape.

Of course, I made the classic mistake of submitting too soon, but had some encouraging replies. Several rewrites later and I’d made some full submissions, even to a US agent! I had replies like ‘If it was a straight thriller, I’d take it on’ and ‘Your writing is excellent, but it wouldn’t fit our list.’ I was (am!) passionate about my stories so I decided to self publish with bought-in publishing services.

You describe your novel as an “alternate history thriller” – how is that different from a normal thriller?

Alternate history is based on the idea of “what if”? What if King Harold had won the Battle of Hastings in 1066? Or if Julius Caesar had taken notice of the warning that assassins wanted to murder him on the Ides of March? Sometimes, it could be little things such as in the film Sliding Doors, when the train door shuts and Gwyneth Paltrow’s character splits into two; one rides away on the train, the other is left standing on the platform.

The rest of the story, or history of a country, from that point on develops differently from the one we know. In my book, Roma Nova battled its way from a small colony in the late fourth century somewhere north of Italy into a high tech, financial mini-state which kept and developed Roman Republican values, but with a twist. It’s really been fun working this out! The thriller story then takes place against this background. The nearest comparison would be J D Robb’s Eve Dallas Death series.

Stories with Romans are usually about famous emperors, epic battles, depravity, intrigue, wicked empresses and a lot of sandals, tunics and swords. But imagine the Roman theme projected sixteen hundred years further forward into the 21st century. How different would that world be?

So what’s INCEPTIO about?

New York – present day, alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to the mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe. Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, a ready-made family and a new career. But a shocking discovery about her new lover, the fascinating but arrogant special forces officer Conrad Tellus who rescued her in America, isolates her.

Renschman reaches into her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why he is hunting her so viciously. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it...

And next? I’m working on PERFIDITAS, the second book in the Roma Nova series.

You can find INCEPTIO on Amazon UK and Amazon US

You can read more about Alison, Romans, alternate history and writing on her blog:, on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @alison_morton

Congratulations, Alison.  I can't wait to read INCEPTIO.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

World Book Night 2013 Giver

I was very excited to wake up this morning to an email letting me know I'd been chosen as a Giver for World Book Day 2013. Here is the book I'll be giving away on or around 23 April this year to people who may be non-readers or light readers to encourage them to become more involved in the wonderful worlds that books can transport readers into.

This wasn't my first choice, but I've heard about Red Dust Road and look forward to reading it and introducing it to others. 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Ten Today!

It's the smallest member of the family's birthday today and he's 10!

We've just arrived home from a lovely, sunny walk with Grumps on Grouville beach. I say walk, but he spent most of his time running back and forth. He has daily walks on one of two beaches, but rarely at Grouville, so it must have been very exciting for him to go back there again.

Here's another picture to show you a little bit more of the beach and Gorey Harbour with Mont Orgueil Castle (known to us as Gorey Castle) in the background.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Editing in Lousy Weather

I don't know about you, but I find it much easier to edit when the weather is miserable. There's no temptation for me to venture outside when it's windy, raining and cold, which is exactly what the weather's been like here in Jersey for most of the past few weeks.

On the other hand, I can't wait for Spring to arrive when I can get out and about and enjoy a little heat and some colour in the garden.

So, while we're waiting, I thought I'd post a picture of he Amaryllis flowers that are cheering me up as I edit.

Do you have a favourite time of year for editing?

Roll on Spring...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Blog Tour – ‘Nowhere To Hide’ by Alex Walters

Welcome to the ‘Nowhere To Hide’ blog tour, in which you’ll get to read exclusive interviews with the characters from the book. In this fifth, and final, post we’re talking to Keith Welsby, who’s got himself into a spot of bother.

Name: Keith Welsby

Rank/Job title/Occupation: Principal Officer, Investigations - currently suspended

Why are you so important to the story of ‘Nowhere To Hide’?

I’m always in the centre of the story, love, didn’t you know that? No show without Punch and all that. No, actually, this one’s a bit odd. I spend most of the story laid up in hospital. In a bad way. Attempted suicide is what they’re saying. I ask you, love, do I look like the suicidal type? No, don’t answer that. The only way I’m going to kill myself is slowly, through booze and cigarettes. But, anyway, that’s where I am. Out of harm’s way, you might think. Just shows how wrong you can be.

What do you regret most about your life?

Life’s too short for regrets. Well, it is when you live like I do. But, no, I’ve not always been as smart as I thought I was being. Got myself caught up with a few of the wrong people. And then it’s hard to extricate yourself, isn’t it? You just find yourself being sucked in, inch by inch. We were all at it in those days, of course. But most of the others are retired or dead now. No excuses, but it was what you had to do to oil the wheels. Get the job done. Now, they reckon it’s all different and I’m just the last of the dinosaurs, the last bent copper. Oh yeah? Pull the other one. You just have to look around you.

What was the highlight of your policing career?

It’ll be the day they finally pension me off, assuming I live that long. And assuming they still allow me the pension, which they probably won’t. No, there’ve been a few highlights. We put some of the right people away, even when we had to bend the rules to do it. And even if we had to let some of the bigger fish slip through the net. You play the numbers game. Get as many as you can. Don’t have sleepless nights about the ones that get away. That’s life, isn’t it, love?

Which other character from the book would you most enjoy going to the pub for a pint with?

I dunno. Anyone but Hugh Salter, probably. He’s a lager-boy, and he only drinks a pint of that so people don’t think he’s a complete wuss. Not my idea of a party companion. Actually, that Marie Donovan’s all right. She can knock it back a bit, tell a few off-colour jokes. One of the lads, when she wants to be. And she buys her round, which is more than Salter ever does.

Who would you like to play you in the screen adaptation of ‘Nowhere To Hide’?

Oh, I don’t know. Tom Cruise is too short, isn’t he? You’d probably need someone like Timothy Spall to capture my finely-honed athletic figure.

What music do you like to listen to when you’re not on duty/at work?

It’s Old Blue Eyes for me, all the way. It’s Frank’s world, we just live here, all that. My way. I’m always at home with the Rat Pack, everyone knows that.

What is your favourite film?

Get Carter. I used to see myself as Michael Caine in that. You know, tough, doesn’t give a damn, love ‘em and leave ‘em, always comes out on top. Except, of course, he doesn’t in the end. But that was me in the young days. Now - well, I’m a big man, but I’m out of shape. So far out of shape you wouldn’t recognise me. But don’t write me off. Not just yet.

About the book:

‘On the North Wales coast two people traffickers are brutally murdered; a drug dealer is mown down in inner-city Stockport and in a remote Pennine cottage a police informant is shot dead. Seemingly random, these murders are the work of one professional hitman.

Reluctantly, Marie Donovan takes on another undercover role and finds herself working with DI Jack Brennan, a high-flying detective with a tarnished career. Soon, mistrustful of each other and their superiors, both begin to suspect that they are mere pawns in a complex game of criminal rivalry and police corruption.

As Marie struggles to uncover the truth, she realises that nothing is as it seems. With every move, she draws the threat ever closer until ultimately the killer is watching Marie herself. Out on her own, she finds herself with no friends, no-one to trust and nowhere to hide.’

‘Nowhere To Hide’ is published by Avon HarperCollins, and you can buy it here.

The first post in the blog tour, an interview with Marie Donovan, can be found here.

The second post in the blog tour, an interview with Jack Brennan, can be found here.

The third post in the blog tour, an interview with Lizzie Carter, can be found here.

The fourth post in the blog tour, an interview with Hugh Salter, can be found here.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Writing the Dark Side of Chick-Lit

A Guest Post by Anna Bell
I think that a lot of non chick-lit readers think that everything between those bright pink covers are fluffy and light-hearted, but so many chick-lit books have a darker topic within. My new novel, Don’t Tell the Groom, does too. Penny, the main character, has gambled away £10,000 on internet bingo. The challenge for me when writing the book became: how do you write a laugh-out-loud comedy centred around such a serious topic.

I picked online gambling as a theme for Don’t Tell the Groom as I’m always fascinated by the bingo adverts on TV. Bingo ads are often an assault on the eyes with all the bright colours, and the people in them are always having ridiculous amounts of fun playing it. The adverts always got me wondering - behind all the flashing lights and jollity, surely there has to be a darker side to it? A quick search on the internet soon revealed that gambling addiction amongst women was on the rise, and online gambling was one of the main causes.

I knew then that if I was going to tackle gambling, I had to do it both sensitively but also as accurately as I could (without becoming a bingo addict myself). I asked a friend to introduce me to one of their friends who I knew had had an online gambling addiction. The friend was amazing, they told me all about their motivations, the ramifications of the gambling, and their treatment. I think what hit me the most about the addiction was how secret it could be. Unlike alcohol, drugs or smoking, there are no physical signs that a person has a gambling addiction. And especially with online gambling no one needs to see you do it, and with mobile apps, it can be done anywhere.

After realising just how serious the consequences were, I had to create a balance between portraying the addiction well and remembering that I was writing a romantic comedy, not a tragedy. I tried to keep the humour to a minimum in the scenes where Penny got help with her addiction. But I couldn’t lose the humour entirely or else it wouldn’t have fit with the rest of the tone of the novel.

It is the first time I’ve challenged myself as a writer to tackle such a difficult topic. I guess now, it’s over to the readers to judge whether I got that the balance between sensitivity and humour right!

Here's the Amazon link for Don't Tell the Groom

Anna's website: