Meet the Author

Madeline Dyer

I am doing my happy dance today because I have an interview with the wonderful Madeline Dyer to share with you all. Grab a cuppa and a biscuit and come on in and join us.

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What inspired you to create the Untamed world? 

The initial premise of the first book evolved when I saw the music video for “La La La” by Naughty Boy and Sam Smith. More specifically, there’s a scene in that video where what appears to be a human heart is being sold at a market, and it got me thinking about what would happen if all the things that a heart represents—such as love, happiness, and lust—could be bought at a market, just as easily as clothing and food. This idea became the basis for the augmenters—artificial emotions that only allow the user to feel positive qualities, at the expense of their humanity—that the majority of mankind are addicted to, and thus the distinction between the Enhanced Ones (those who take augmenters) and the Untamed (those who don’t) was born.

From here, I added more and more layers to my worldbuilding—predominantly by asking myself questions about how a society like this would operate and function. But I wanted to make this dystopian world a little different too, and I always knew I wanted there to be spirits in this world too. I love fantasy, and creating a world that is both dystopian and has strong fantastical elements was something that really appealed to me. And, thus, this series is set in an alternate present-day earth where augmenters have been around for hundreds of years, but it’s also a world where spirits walk the land and are very much part of the landscape. There’s a whole mythology and religion that the Untamed have created around the spirits and nature and other Divine beings (a mythology that the Enhanced Ones have rejected in favour of technology). It was really fascinating seeing how this world managed both the conflict between the Enhanced and the Untamed, and between technology and spirits.

Everything about the Untamed world feels so real. How did you go about the worldbuilding required to create something that feels so authentic? 

I’m so happy you think this world feels so real! That was something that was really important to me, and something I considered carefully when creating this world. Because my worldbuilding requires so much suspension of belief—you’ve got spirits, Gods and Goddesses, the prophetic bison, and the Dream Land—I knew that I absolutely needed to be as detailed and factual as possible in many other areas, as well as making sure that this book is as visual as possible.

I spent months and months researching and fact-checking different areas to make sure that everything but the fantasy elements were as fact-based as they could be, realistic, and familiar. Thus, a lot of the survival skills that the Untamed use to survive are real-life survival skills, and many of the plants Seven and Corin come across are also ones readers will recognize—and I made sure to include their descriptions within my imagery when establishing setting, so even if it was a plant that was unfamiliar to the characters (and so they didn’t know the name of it) readers who are familiar with that terrain may still identify it.

The volcano in Fragmented (book two) is based on a real-life volcano, and I talked with numerous volcanologists and professors at universities, to make sure my depictions of this volcano and the old lava tubes—from the type and colour of the rock, to the smells and temperatures inside the old tubes—were accurate and realistic.

Including little things like this which readers can use to ground themselves in this world that is both similar and so different, is something I think really helped to give a strong sense of ‘place’.

What made the original Enhanced create the augmenters?

So, it’s human nature to strive toward perfection and improve the human condition. This can already be seen in the medical advances in the last few centuries, in particular. This desire to live a better life, free from pain, suffering, etc., was what drove the creation of the first augmenters in my Untamed world, as they were designed to make people stronger and faster. It wasn’t until a little later that they focused on making people happier too, and thus ‘positive emotions’ became the main focus of the augmenters, as well as a line that allows for phenotype change, under their belief that a more ‘beautiful’ appearance allows the person to feel happier as well.

But it’s important to remember that the first augmenters were actually created by the Untamed, as the Enhanced are the result of the augmenters and their humanity-destroying effects.

Do you have any favourite quotes from any of the books?

Yes! This is from Destroyed (book four).

Raleigh laughs. “You are not a killer.”

“You don’t know what I am.”

I absolutely love these lines as they show both Raleigh’s pretentious nature in that he assumes he knows what Seven is or isn’t capable of, while also revealing how controlling he is as he tells Seven she is not a killer. To him, it’s not a question, and there’s no doubt about it. It’s a fact, and he assumes he knows her better than she herself does. This definitely plays into the cat-and-mouse chase between the two of them that we’ve seen across all four books, and the mind-control and mental manipulation he exerts over her in books one and three.

But Seven’s reply is what I think really makes these lines really fantastic. She’s no longer the scared or vulnerable girl she was in book one. She has grown into herself, her powers, and books three and four are where we really see her as a confident and determined character. Now she has the power to face Raleigh on her own terms, and she directly confronts him and challenges the foundations that he’s stood on for so long (as he has always told her he knows what’s best for her).

This is definitely the moment where the power-balance shifts and readers see who Seven really is now.

What was your favourite book to write? Why?

I’d say it’s a draw between Fragmented (book two) and Destroyed (book four). I particularly liked writing the Zharat culture in Fragmented, as well as seeing how Seven is recovering from both the addiction that stole so much of her in book one and the loss of her family. But I also really liked writing Destroyed. With it being the final part of Seven’s story, there was a lot I wanted to fit into this book, but it also had to feel like a satisfying end to the series and have its own plot, rather than just tying up all the loose ends and being exciting purely for the sake of going out on a bang. Destroyed certainly shakes up what readers think they know about the Untamed world, raises new questions (and answers), and with new layers of worldbuilding being explored, I hope it’s an engaging and thrilling ride.

Which book did you find the hardest to write? Why?

Divided (book three), definitely!

This is the book where Raleigh (the antagonist) really gets inside Seven’s head. There’s a lot of mental manipulation and mind games, and its tone is greatly darker than the other books. Its structure is also very different to Untamed (book one), and the majority of the action takes place in an Enhanced town (unlike the other books which have more of a road-trip feel to them as the Untamed are on the run), so we really get to see inside the enemy. There’s a lot of worldbuilding that’s solely focused on the Enhanced society, whereas in Fragmented (book two), in particular, it was solely the Untamed society that was explored. I really liked writing this contrast, but found it very hard as Seven’s situation in this book means that most of the action is centred around her internal conflict as she fights the mind control Raleigh has over her, rather than externally (such as in the fast-paced car chase scenes in book one).

Do you have a playlist for your books, or songs that you associate with a particular character?

Yes! Well, only for some books. I’m weird. Whether I create a playlist as I write and edit depends completely on the book that I’m writing—and I remember distinctly that Divided, book three, didn’t have a playlist. I required absolute silence when writing that.

Destroyed did however have a playlist, and it can be found here: https://madonreading.blogspot.com/2018/11/blog-tour-destroyed-by-madeline-dyer.html

I also have a playlist for A Dangerous Game! This is my standalone novel that’s set in the same world as my Untamed series, and although it has a different narrator, Seven and Corin do make appearances in it. The playlist can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnEZs7UwfVAk82LPChnpL-tBX4EDXMtkw

As you know, I am a massive Corin fan, but do you have a favourite character of your own?

Hmmm…so I like all my characters, but I particularly enjoyed writing the intense scenes with Raleigh! Although Divided was the hardest book to write, I found it fascinating learning so much about him in that book.

Writing from Keelie’s POV in A Dangerous Game was also really fun, and it was refreshing to see such a familiar world through the eyes of another character who’s so different to Seven.

You have spoken of a love of prehistoric fiction. Did this influence you to use the bison as the symbol for seer dream and for how the dreams appeared? I always imagined the dreams as having a cave art quality to them, even before I knew that you were a fan of prehistoric fiction.

The bison was very much influenced by my love for prehistoric art. I studied Ritual and Religion in Prehistory at Oxford Uni, and I loved the modules on cave art. As so many prehistoric paintings focus around animals, and there’s so much evidence to suggest that animals were very important to them (their bones have been found in the foundations of many prehistoric buildings and settlements), I wanted the Untamed culture to be focused around an animal too. I chose a wood bison as I love the symbolism this animal has.

Who/what are your favourite authors/books?

My favourite authors include Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Bronte, Jean M. Auel, J.V. Jones, Rick Yancey, Richelle Mead, C.L. Taylor, and Ruth Ware.

If you could have dinner with any three authors, alive or dead, who would they be and why?

Only three? Hmm. I’d probably go with Virginia Woolf, A.A. Milne, and Anne Sexton. I think that would be quite an interesting combination, and just listening to their conversations would be fascinating.

Now that the final book in the Untamed series has been released, what comes next? 

I can’t believe that Seven’s story is finished! I’ve got tentative plans for a second Untamed standalone—possibly focusing around a character we meet in Fragmented—but nothing solid on that yet.

And in terms of non-Untamed books, I’ve been working on the first book in a YA science fiction trilogy. Hopefully, I’ll have news on that soon!

I also really want to write a YA thriller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Madeline Dyer lives on a farm in the southwest of England, where she hangs out with her Shetland ponies and writes young adult books—sometimes, at the same time. She holds a BA Honors degree in English from the University of Exeter, and several presses have published her fiction. Madeline has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and she can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes.

As well as this interview, Madeline has lots more exciting stuff happening on her Destroyed blog tour, so make sure you visit all the other blogs taking part.

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Meet the Author

Isabella May

As a massive fan of all of Isabella’s books, I was thrilled when she agreed to take the time to answer a few questions for me.

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The covers for your books are so distinctive, and are all incredibly appetising. How much input do you have with the design?

Thank you so much! That’s one of the loveliest things you could ever say to a new-ish author; to any author. The beauty of working with a small and independent publisher like Crooked Cat Books is the fifty-fifty decision making process on aspects such as cover art. I love the way the (almost) aerial shots of the food and drink montages hint at the comedy and chaos to come in the story – as well as the delicious culinary thread. I’d never have considered using photographic cover art before but it really does work well and my novels just wouldn’t have the same feel to them with illustrations. I mesh a lot of different subjects together and so it’s important that my books have a brand and identity to help them stand out in a very crowded literary world. Hopefully we have succeeded!

Your books always include beautiful locations and equally beautiful sounding food and drink. What would be your dream destination and culinary experience?

It may seem an obvious choice, but I’d have to plump for Italy every time. The versatility and simplicity of the food, the vast array of stunning backdrops; there’s nowhere on Earth quite like it! Every course is equally delicious. Not to forget the gazillion styles of coffee. And then the Aperol and Limoncello…

Were the café/bookshop in Oh! What a Pavlova and the cocktail bar in The Cocktail Bar based on real locations and can I have their addresses please (shh, it will be our little secret)?

Haha – I am happy to reveal all…

The café/bookshop in ‘Pavlova’ is partly a figment of my imagination and partly based on a gorgeous little den of a café/bookshop which used to exist in Bath. They served the best Frosted Banana Cake I have EVER eaten. I can’t work out why they closed down. It’s an absolute crime that the people of Bath didn’t rally together to buy the place!

The Cocktail Bar is based on a Glastonbury institution. Gothic Image is an eccentrically gorgeous shop which has been going since I was in nappies. It can be found in the High Street and I recently got goosebumps when everything came full circle and the owners agreed to stock copies of… The Cocktail Bar!

Did you learn to flamenco dance as part of your research for Costa del Churros?

I can’t dance for toffee! Neither can my husband. I won’t tell you how much money we spent having lessons for the first dance at our wedding… and still we did it wrong! But somehow we have managed to produce an eleven-year-old child who is a very talented dancer – tap, ballet, jazz, pop, musical theatre; you name it, she does it. She used to take flamenco lessons too… until we ran out of days of the week (more’s the pity). Still, I gleaned quite a lot from watching her classes and teachers in action. The rest I have learned from living in a part of Spain where this glorious art form is engrained in the culture. I won’t rule out lessons one day, but I’ll need to find a very patient teacher!

If you could have a meal with one author, alive or dead, who would you choose and what would you like to ask them?

I am a huge Joanne Harris fan but my favourite author does have a tendency to get opinionated on Twitter… so it might not be the most relaxing of dinners!

I’ll go for Nigella instead. Her cookbooks read like literary works of fiction, after all, and I would love to ask her JUST HOW she manages to adapt recipes on a whim without everything turning pear-shaped. I’d love to have the ability to cook like that.

This might be like asking you to choose a favourite child but, which of your books are you most proud of and why?

I am fond of them all for completely different reasons. But If I could narrow it down to two, then I’d say The Cocktail Bar because it was my second novel, and therefore the book which (hopefully!) proved I wasn’t a One Trick Pony. And my current WIP (book 4) because it feels like my best writing yet…

What can you tell us about what is coming next for you?

Well, book 4 is written and ready for editing. It’s another foodie adventure with a magical/spiritual thread. There may be a bit of Capri and Bath involved in this one… However, it’s off on a brand new publishing journey. All will be revealed (one way or the other!) in 2019. Watch this space…

Thank you so much for your time Isabella!

 

Meet the Author

Lily Mae Walters

As part of the blog tour for Josie James and the Teardrops of Summer, I was lucky enough to have a virtual sit down with the author, Lily Mae Walters, so that we could all get to know her a little better. Before I share what we “chatted” about, here is the blurb for Josie James:

Josie James is an ordinary 13 year old until something extraordinary happens during her summer holidays.

Whist staying at her Great Grandmother’s cottage in the country she finds herself swept into the cursed world of Suncroft where it is perpetual winter.

Her new friends believe she could be the Chosen One who it is foretold will lift the curse, but there are more pressing matters.

The Teardrops of Summer – magical crystals that render the owner immortal – have been stolen.  Along with her telepathic husky-dog Protector Asher and her new friends, Josie must race to find the Teardrops and prevent catastrophe for their world.

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About the Author:

Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also stare in the Josie James series.

She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.

Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local  places and even her old school in her stories.

Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.

Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.

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Q&A:

I know it is important to you to include your friends, family, and the places where you grew up in your writing, but are you ever tempted to include people who you are, let’s say, less fond of, as the villains in your writing?

I have included people and situations in my writing that I am less fond of. I find a lot of my writing is based on my own experiences or those of people I know.  I quite enjoy using someone I don’t like as a “villain” but of course I change the names.

How do you manage writing two different genres? Do you ever find that the two get confused, or that there is a crossover between them?

Because the 2 genres are so different and also different age groups, I do find it quite easy to switch. Lily Mae is much higher fantasy than my Florence books so I find it quite easy to switch between the two.

How do you like to spend your time when you are not writing?

I love reading although find very little time for it these days. Music, films and TV dramas are a great passion.  My family, friends and 2 dogs are my absolute world.

Have you been or would you ever go on a writers retreat? What would the perfect retreat look like for you?

I would love to go on a writer’s retreat. It would be in the middle of nowhere with lots of outside spaces to write.  A mug of tea brought to me every hour and someone to remind me to eat because I can forget when caught up in my writing.

Which authors, alive or dead, would you have at your dream dinner party? What would you cook for them?

I wouldn’t have a dinner party, I would have a mad hatters tea party and invite Jill Murphy, Philippa Gregory, George Eliot (because I would love her views on where I now live and why she chose to write as a man), Beatrix Potter as long as she brought Peter Rabbit with her. Charles Dickens I think would be very interesting to talk to and all my author friends who I have interacted with on Twitter and Facebook because then it would just be total chaos. There would be tea, gin and never ending plate of sandwiches, cakes and biscuits.

Well, I don’t know about everyone else, but I will be checking my post for an invite to that tea party! It sounds great. If you still want to find out more about Lily Mae, here are her social media links:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Giveaway  to Win a Signed copy of Josie James and the Teardrops of Summer  (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions
 –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Don’t forget to check out the other blogs taking part on the tour, organised by the lovely Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources.

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Meet the Author

Lexi Rees

Lorraine-16 I was recently lucky enough to be able to pose some questions to Lexi Rees about her interests when she is not writing or sailing. Here is what she had to say:

What happens when you mix crafting and horses?

Hi Mai, Thanks so much for having me on your blog! Obviously, you know about my new Book, Eternal Seas, but I’m not always writing or sailing. We seem to share a lot of other interests, including crafting and horses.

What is your favourite craft activity to relax with?

Depends on the time of year. I love knitting and crochet in winter but it never seems right to knit when it’s sunny! I started an “extreme knitting” project last winter but didn’t quite finish it so I’m looking forward to digging it out in October. 16 balls of wool on the go at the same time is quite a handful to work with. I put a “normal” needle beside it in the photo so you can see the scale. It’s really heavy! It’ll be a rug when I finish.

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In summer, I make jewellery. I do everything from silver work to bead weaving.

And I love making Christmas cards and decorations –  that always makes me feel festive. I’m working on a book of Christmas crafts which I’ll hopefully have published late next year.

Is there a craft that you have always wanted to try, but haven’t got round to yet?

I would love to give micro macrame a go. I bought this book on it ages ago but have need to get some new tools.

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A friend and I go to the knitting and stitching show at Olympia. There are always loads of new ideas and they have workshops where you can try crafts out. We made these felted bangles last year. I had help with mine as it wasn’t very bangle shaped.

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Are there any crafts that you have tried, but just couldn’t get the hang of? For me it is most definitely crochet!

Oh I love crochet – it goes so fast! I made this blanket using undyed wools from rare breed sheep.

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My crafting nemesis would be needle felting. It’s just a bit too organic for me. Which means the bird I attempted to make looked more like a potato. The other kit I bought is still unmade.

Where is your favourite place to go out for a ride?

You can’t beat an early morning gallop along West Wittering beach, and Glen Tanar in the Scottish highlands has spectacular views when you get up on the ridge. I recently went to do the El Cid trail in Spain.

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But for me, it’s also about the friends I’ve made. I love loading a group of horses onto a lorry and heading to a competition together, even if I expect to come last. My yard is so supportive, whatever level you’re at. Everyone helps each other and the team spirit is fantastic. We just laugh all day. Don’t get any Jilly Cooper images though. For three whole minutes, I gleam in white jodhpurs and a smart jacket (bought from eBay). The rest of the time I’m in a tatty tracksuit with straw in my hair, and, in my son’s words, “stinky”.

Have you got any funny horse riding stories or mishaps that you could share with us?

Loads, but my husband’s eyes glaze over when I talk about the time I was supposed to just turn down the centre line and … So how about a confession? … If I get nervous, I sing “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it” by Bananarama and Fun Boy Three. When my horse turns into a rodeo pony during a dressage test, someone usually yells, “Do your Banarama’s”! I may also have been spotted singing it whilst trotting around without a horse after a small glass of wine … Unfortunately videos exist.

ABOUT LEXI:

Lexi Rees grew up in the north of Scotland but now splits her time between London and West Sussex. She still goes back to Scotland regularly though.

Usually seen clutching a mug of coffee, she spends as much time as possible sailing and horse riding, both of which she does enthusiastically but spectacularly badly.

Her first book, Eternal Seas was written on a boat; the storm described in it was frighteningly real.

LINKS:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Instagram

Meet the Author

S.L. Grigg

To celebrate the six month anniversary of the release of Coffee Break Companion S.L.Grigg is hosting a blog tour, and you can pick up a copy of Coffee Break Companion for just 99p for the week of 28th August to 3rd September 2018. Here is the all important blurb.

6 month offer

BLURB:

Grab that cup of coffee (or tea if you prefer), maybe add a splash of something stronger, settle down and enjoy your break with this gripping collection of flash fiction and poetry that will send shivers down your spine. With an added bonus of a longer story at the end that will fill your lunch break. What are you waiting for? Dive in! Everything from a discovery in an Ice Cavern, to a tornado. Mermaids, and Dragons. Mystery and Horror. This collection of flash fiction and poetry has something to capture anyone’s imagination, with a final chilling thriller that will leave you gasping for air.

You can order your copy of Coffee Break Companion here.

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Sharon kindly took some time out to answer some questions about how films have influenced her writing.

Let’s start with a bit about you? Where you’re from? And what you do?

Hi I’m S.L.Grigg, from Bromsgrove, England. I’m an author who self-published my first book in February 2018 – Coffee Break Companion, a dark collection of short stories and poems. When I’m not writing I work full time in the NHS and enjoy spending time with my family. I have two children. I also enjoy reading, crochet and Pilates amongst many other interests.

Do you remember the first film you saw in the cinema? Does it bring back memories I’d love to know?

The first film I remember seeing in the cinema was The Black Cauldron, I went for a friend’s birthday it was so exciting going to the cinema for the first time. I’ve not watched the film since, but I don’t think we ever forget our first trip to the cinema!

In your books do your main characters have favourite films? If not, what is your favourite film?

None of the characters in Coffee Break Companion have a favourite film, but I expect in my novels in progress there may be an opportunity to include this for a character or two. My own favourite film is The Lost Boys, it’s been my favourite since I first watched it as a pre-teen and fell in love with Corey Haim.

What about a favourite book turned film? Or a book that has been made into a film that wasn’t so good?

My favourite book turned into a film would probably be the ‘The Hunger Games’, especially the first one, although they made some changes to the story it was still well done, and I really enjoyed it, Jennifer Lawrence made a good Katniss. I also love Ready, Player One, but I feel that they made a lot more changes to the film for that one, but both were still excellent in their own rights. The worst I have seen would have to be The Snowman based on the book by Jo Nesbo, they absolutely ruined the story from the opening scene, they made the characters dull and uninteresting and it was a total waste of two hours watching, hoping it might get better – the book though was brilliant!

Do you prefer to watch the film first or read the book?

If possible, I prefer to read the book first, but sometimes I have watched a movie not knowing it was based on a book then bought the book to read after. If I had seen The Snowman before reading the book I probably wouldn’t have read it.

Who is your favourite actor/actress and why?

Favourite actress, probably Reece Witherspoon, she’s just so sweet, funny, down-to-earth but also sassy, someone you would want as a best friend, and of course she loves to read! Favourite actor, I think it would be Kiefer Sutherland, he’s played so many great roles from David in the Lost Boys, to Jack Bauer in 24, he’s in many of my favourite films.

Which movie star would you like to see playing the main character in your book?

As there are many different lead characters having so many stories in Coffee Break Companion it would be hard to chose someone for each of them, but Jess from the longer story at the end ‘Hide and Seek’ I think would be well suited to Chloë Grace Moretz (Hit-Girl in KickAss amongst other films), she has quite the knack for playing a strong, heroic lead, and Jess is definitely a kick-ass character.

How do you write? Do you plan or take it as it comes? Have a favourite place or time for writing?

Mostly I’m a pantser, I just write as it comes to me, but I am planning and outlining with my current work in progress. I write anywhere and everywhere, often inspiration will strike whilst I am out and about, so I carry a notebook everywhere, so no favourite place or time, but I do most of my writing in the lounge, curled up on the sofa with my laptop – dreaming I was somewhere else! Haha.

What are you currently working on?

As always, I have a number of pieces on the go, I’m working on the first book in a trilogy of a romance centred around cruise ship holidays. I also want to get Coffee Break Companion 2 finished.

When did you decide to write your first novel? Tell me a bit about the inspiration, process and of course the book.

I had always wanted to write a book. I started writing as a child. By the time I got around to writing Coffee Break Companion I only had two of the stories I had written when I was young left, so I had to include them in the collection. For me writing a book was never about approaching publishers, I just wanted to be able to hold a copy and say, “I wrote this”. Of course, when you do it then you want others to read it as well. The process wasn’t like most books, as I had written most of the poems and short stories already. I just decided I was going to pull them together and publish them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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This is the first published book by S.L. Grigg having previously written a popular blog on mental health, and having articles published by Mind, the mental health charity, and NHS England. Working for NHS England from a home in Bromsgrove, England, S.L Grigg lives with a partner and two adult children. S.L Grigg has studied everything from Science and Law, to Journalism and Pilates but writing has always been the greatest passion in S.L.Grigg’s life.

Sharon Grigg, who writes under the pen name S.L Grigg, made it her new year’s resolution to publish her book ‘Coffee Break Companion’ during 2018. After bouncing back from mental health problems (BPD), following the death of her husband from a brain tumour in 2009, Sharon was struck down with kidney and other health problems, believed to be linked to having the Essure sterilisation device she had implanted back in 2008. In September 2017 she underwent major surgery to have a non-functioning hydronephrotic kidney removed at the same time as a full hysterectomy to remove the essure device.

Just two months after setting her goal Sharon launched the collection of dark, short stories and poetry on Amazon. Many of the stories were written during Sharon’s battle with mental health.
41-year-old mother of two, Sharon says “For me publishing was never about, money or fame. I just wanted to be able to hold a copy of my book and say, ‘I wrote this’ and now I can.”

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Facebook

Website

Make sure you stop by the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information on the Coffee Break Companion and S.L.Grigg

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Meet the Author

Catherine M. Byrne

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About Catherine:

Catherine Byrne always wanted to be a writer. She began at the age of eight by drawing comic strips with added dialogue and later, as a teenager, graduated to poetry.  Her professional life however, took a very different path.  She first studied glass engraving with Caithness Glass where she worked for fourteen years. During that time she also worked as a foster parent.  After the birth of her youngest child she changed direction, studying and becoming a chiropodist with her own private practice.  At the same time she did all the administration work for her husband’s two businesses, and this continued until the death of her husband in 2005.  However she still maintained her love of writing, and has had several short stories published in women’s magazines.  Her main ambition was to write novels and she has now retired in order to write full time.

Born and brought up until the age of nine on the Island of Stroma, she heard many stories from her grandparents about the island life of a different generation. Her family moved to the mainland at a time when the island was being depopulated, although it took another ten years before the last family left.

An interest in geology, history and her strong ties to island life have influenced her choice of genre for her novels.

Since first attending the AGM of the Scottish Association of Writers in 1999, Catherine has won several  prizes, commendations and has been short-listed both for short stories and chapters of her novels. In 2009, she won second prize in the general novel category for ‘Follow The Dove’

In 2016 The Road to Nowhere  won second prize in the Barbara Hammond competition for Best Self Published novel. The follow up, Isa’s Daughter won 1st prize in the same competition the following year.

Although the books follow the fortunes of the same family, they are all stand-alone.

The fifth book in the Raumsey series is  Mary Rosie’s War.

Catherine Byrne lives in Wick, Caithness.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/FollowTheDove/

www.catherinebyrne-author.com

https://twitter.com/Katrine66

http://isabellacatherinebyrne.blogspot.co.uk/

Q&A with Catherine

What authors do you enjoy reading? Did any of these inspire your writing?

I read a wide variety of authors. I especially love Peter May and Anne Cleeves.  I can’t say they inspired my writing as they write murder mysteries, a different genre, although that was what I originally wanted to do. Maybe next time I’ll have a go.

Another couple of writers I am fond of are Ken Follett and Barbara Erskine.  Read all books by them. In between times I make a point of reading self-published authors, and I have found some gems there. I must admit to having a penchant for stories set on islands, and have read all the Isle of Bute mysteries by Myra Duffy.

Why did you choose the particularly period of history that you write about?

I always wanted to write a book set on my native Stroma. A factual book had already been done, so I decided to go for fiction. While I was rifling my brain for a story, an elderly Lady from Canada got in touch. She was doing her genealogy and she couldn’t find any trace of where her grandfather, who had lived on Stroma, died or where he was buried. I did my best to find out for her, but to no avail.

The saga begins in 1899 so obviously I’ve had to do a fair bit of research. However, I was lucky to, not only have been born there, but to have grown up hearing stories from my mother and grandmother of the different generations.

The Canadian lady did, however, give me inspiration for a story, and with her permission, I created two characters based on her grandparents. They got married in 1900, so that was where my series started.

Stroma is a very small Island so, as not to offend anyone, I set my story on a fictional island, Raumsey and used surnames that were never native to Stroma.

Book number one, Follow the Dove, proved to be more popular than I had anticipated, and my fans wanted to know more. Delighted by my relative success, I decided to write a trilogy. Once again, after book three, I was besieged with request to carry on. Subsequently I’ve written another two, Isa’s Daughter and Mary Rosie’s War.

I have also written a couple of other books, Song for an Eagle, a contemporary novella, and a non-fiction about modern day slavery, The Locket and a Five Taka Note.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, do you have particular playlists for particular characters?

No, I don’t. I know many of my writerly friends who do, but I find it distracting. I need quiet to get into my character’s heads. However, a recording of the sea and seabirds sounds like a good idea.

Do you have any tips for writers who are just starting out?

Join a writers’ circle. I have had so much help and support, I don’t think I would have finished my first novel without them. Authors are generally a very helpful bunch, so don’t be afraid to ask. Also be open to criticism, develop a thick skin and always strive for perfection. Most of all, read, read, read and keep writing. Don’t ever give up.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

My other hobby is painting, although I’ve neglected that lately to concentrate on writing. I do always have a book to read at hand, and enjoy my garden.  Walking my two dogs gets me out into the fresh air!

I do volunteer work, one day a week in the local hospice shop, watch my granddaughter when needed, and have coffee with friends.

Meet the Author

Jennifer Gilmour

Jennifer Gilmour

About Jennifer:

Born in the north-east, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write her first novel Isolation Junction. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.

Since the publication of her debut novel, Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recover programme for those who have been in abusive relationships.

Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that Clipped Wings give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.

 

Get to know Jennifer:

What was your original inspiration to start to write?

I was on an awareness course about Domestic Abuse. Alongside me were about 8 other women who had been in abusive relationships. As the day progressed, I found that I simply couldn’t believe that some of what the other women were saying was exactly what I had gone through but just in a different format. Domestic Abuse tends to go in a cycle (see photo below) and whichever way it begins, the behaviour spirals again and again. At first it could be months between incidents but for me, as time went on there were many instances within one day. It is quite normal to try to prevent the cycle from starting again by changing your behaviour as much as possible. By the end of the course I had come to understand that we were all subjected to the same behaviour and that no one knew before that this could even happen to someone i.e. that a relationship can be so unhealthy and soul destroying. I realised that others simply needed to know more about this unacceptable behaviour; they needed to see the warning signs before the relationship goes further or the behaviour gets even more serious.  On the other hand I needed others to see the behaviour for what it is. If people are in a relationship and the behaviour within it is not acceptable and is not their fault, it can’t simply be changed by changing yourself.

cycle_of_abuse

I knew I had a story to tell and with my previous unfinished written work I realised my first novel had to be more than a book but a message – a way for others to be able to pass a book on to help victims and to get the penny to drop and bring about realisation of what is happening sooner. This means that when the relationship ends victims and survivors realise they are not the only ones out there and its ok to talk about the abuse. 

How do you focus and not let your work with domestic abuse affect you emotionally?

Originally I didn’t look after myself and worked on Isolation Junction, blog posts and research even if I wasn’t in a good place. I couldn’t switch off to what I felt needed to be exposed and couldn’t understand why something so common was hidden so well. It did take its toll on me and I am happy to admit and address this. The solution was simple and that was to train myself to channel my thoughts and focus on my current happenings and not letting my mind wander. It can be still a challenge but I feel like I manage myself better and take a healthier approach.

How do you direct people who may need support after reading your books?

At the end of my books there is a message from me which include the UK 24-hour free-phone National Domestic Violence helpline, which is 0808 2000 247. There is also a support page on my website; http://jennifergilmour.com/support/

I do receive a lot of messages and I have personally referred to local centres, once I directed someone in Africa to her local support service. I have been a listening ear to many as well, the first step is telling someone about whats happened to you and so I urge anyone to speak to a ‘safe’ person or service. ‘safe’ meaning someone who isn’t involved with the perpetrator or who you most certainly can be trusted and will help you.

What do you do aside from writing?

I am a mum of three which keeps me pretty busy when I am not writing; I have a 5, 7 and almost 2 year old. As a family we enjoy the hobby Geocaching which gets us out and about, learning about the local area as well as having some fun. It can get rather competitive, if you haven’t heard of it Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

I am also a Jamberry Nail Wraps Consultant which brings in most of my income to support my work in the domestic abuse sector including my writing. You can find out more about that on my other website: https://jennifergilmour.jamberry.com/uk/en/

Links:

Website; www.jennifergilmour.com

Facebook; www.facebook.com/isolationjunctionbook

Twitter; www.twitter.com/JenLGilmour

Clipped Wings on Amazon UK; https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076KNZJZQ

Clipped Wings on Amazon USA; https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076KNZJZQ

Goodreads author profile; https://www.goodreads.com/JenniferGilmour

Clipped Wings on Goodreads; https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36449221-clipped-wings

Huffington post blogger profile; http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/jennifer-gilmour