Meet the Author

William Osborne

I am delighted to be welcoming William Osborne to my blog today, as part of the tour for Jupiter’s Fire. Many thanks to William for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

Your author bio states that you enjoy collecting odd things. Do you have any collections you would like to share with us? What made you start collecting?

Yes of course, I collect old military helmets from the Napoleonic time up to the first world war, British and German, shako’s, and ceremonial wear, mostly cavalry, Dragoons, Hussars, Lancers, but also Picklehaubs, including Life Guard Imperial German and Life Guard English. I also have a beautiful Bearskin, (Russian Bear) Coldstream Guards. 

I collect English modern first editions fiction, Ian Fleming, Huxley, Orwell, Robert Graves, for example, authors I love basically. 

My youngest son and I love to build Lego, we have a Creator Street of fifteen buildings, accessorized by him with additional figures and planes in my office. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World to me.  

I am starting now to look at military ceremonial daggers from the Second World War, Italian and German, but good ones are very expensive.

Where do you do most of your writing?

In my office at home, when I can, but I love to write anywhere, and correcting manuscripts somewhere hot and near the beach is special. I have never had an “office” office except when my children were very young and I had to work out of the house for a few hours a day.

I love working from home so long as there is somewhere quiet and I can turn off the phone and the Internet for a few hours and put on some music quietly in the background.

Do you find that different writing routines and practices work better for novel writing than for screenwriting, and vice versa?

Not really, the way I write has me plotting both novels and screenplays quite carefully before I start and often just thinking about the story I want to tell just in my head for a quite a few weeks or months. 

I do write outline cards, even if the next scene/chapter is just a line or two and then I set to at the computer to write.  Screenplay writing is so less dependent on description and more on just scene setting with a few visual details that the camera can pick up on, whereas novel writing requires you to paint a fuller picture of the scene.

So for example, with screenwriting you can write – ‘ext. downtown street – day’ – and then the art director, location manager, property buying, director, lighting cameraman will decide what that street actually looks like. But if you were writing that in a novel, you would have to do all of those things, the shops, the cars, the weather etc. Does that help?

What works for one that doesn’t work for the other?

I refer the honourable person to the answer I already gave.

You live in a beautiful part of the UK (I enjoyed a week in Norfolk earlier this year). If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be? Or is your heart firmly in Norfolk?

I came to Norfolk to go to school here when I was 13 in 1973. It was a very different place in many ways to what it is now, though it is still beautiful, remote, unspoilt and timeless.  Back then it was the end of the line, literally. The train stopped here and unless you had a reason to be here, no one came. It seems like a different world looking back and I suppose it was.

I do love it still, I can walk for two hours from where I live with my dogs and see no-one and I love that sense of isolation and solitude with the sea in the distance, now filled with lines of wind farms.

If I could, I would spend three months of the year in Italy, probably in the south, Naples and beyond, down the Amalfi coast, the most beautiful coast in the world for me and also the most wonderful people, timeless too in a way but drenched in history from the Saracens, Etruscans, Romans, Neapolitans, French, Spanish. Watch The Leopard, the greatest film ever made about Sicily and Naples, the twin Kingdoms at the time.

More beautiful to me even than Big Sur and Monterey where I spent a year as an exchange student aged 18 and where Robert Louis Stevenson lived for a time and used the landscape to write Treasure Island and other stories. 

I love the Italians, their culture, their style, and their philosophy.  But I am happy right now where I am.

There is a saying isn’t there, wherever you go, there you are.

What have been your biggest sources of inspiration in the writing of your novels?

Many, my family, love of history, a love of story, be that books, fiction and non-fiction, or film/tv from childhood onwards.

But most of all love.  

I believe all great stories in whatever medium have human love at their heart, the yearning for it, the importance of it, the loss of it, the rejection of it, the betrayal of it, but it is the ultimate thing that gives meaning to all of our lives, rich or poor. Every great story has that at its heart. And that is how it should be.

Sorry, but you did ask.

Hope you enjoyed the answers; I thoroughly enjoyed writing them on a cold November evening, with the east wind whistling around and the dogs barking a bit for attention or maybe at the sound or smell of a pheasant or a fox at the end of the field.

Best wishes, William.

I don’t know about all of you, but just from getting to know William a little through his answers, I am certain that I want to discover more about his books. If you are tempted, here come all the details for Jupiter’s Fire.

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BLURB:

When Franco, a teenager living in the monastery at Monte Cassino in 1944 uncovers a long-lost Roman Eagle, the fabled Aquila for the Jupiter Legion, he sets in motion a desperate struggle to prevent the Nazis from using it to win the war. In a do-or-die mission, Franco and Dulcie, a teenage mountain girl, must steal the Eagle back and escape before its deadly power is unleashed. Pursued by the implacable forces of the SS they will discover not just the secrets of the Eagle but also themselves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

William Osborne – Born 1960 – educated at Greshams School, Holt, Norfolk and Robert Louis Stevenson, Pebble Beach, California,  studied law at Cambridge,(MA),  barrister at law, Member of the Middle Temple. Screenwriter and member of Writers Guild of America (West) – Author (published works, 1994, 1998, Hitler’s Angel, Winter’s Bullet, Jupiter’s Fire).  Lives in Norfolk, enjoys life, film, dog walking, cold water swimming, lego, collecting odd stuff, driving his beach buggy.

Many thanks again William, for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly.

If you would like to find out more about Jupiter’s Fire, why not head over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Meet the Author

Hall of Night – Emma Miles

Hall of Night, the brilliant sequel to Hall of Pillars, by Emma Miles is published today, and to help celebrate that, I am delighted to share with you all a conversation I had with one of the star players in both books, Feather the Brownie. We recently caught up for a stroll in the countryside, and this is what he had to say.

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You are known for your love of bread and honey, but what would your absolute favourite food be?

What could be better than bread and honey, my girl? They do make a lovely sweet in Ashgrove in the autumn. They slice up apple nice and thin, dip it in spices, then fry it in nut oil. That’s rather scrumptious. And then, of course, there’s chocolate which I discovered when visiting the mortal realm. It’s a shame we can’t import a bit of that from Astol!

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You have visited many places on your travels, but which of these is your favourite?

I think the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen is the Silent Valley. The views were stunning. Forests, mountains, waterfalls. It was a rather scary place to be at the time though. But the best place? Our little cottage in Briarton, my home.

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Is there anywhere that you haven’t visited yet that you would like to see?

Well Caelin’s tale got me quite intrigued about the land of the Horse Lords. I’ve never met a centaur. There are so many places to see though, especially when you can also sneak through into another realm. I hear the mortal realm is huge!

If you had a day free of danger, and didn’t have any chores to do, how would you spend the day?

It’s very hard for a brownie not to find chores to do! Mya and I do like to take walks and explore though – just as I’m doing right now! There are always new things to see and new friends to make. The wilds used to be terrifying for a little fellow like me, but I’ve come to love wandering the wilds. It’s much better with company though.

Do you have any hidden talents or party tricks you could share?

Well I can’t be showing you my magic now, my girl, it’s against all the brownie rules. I can stand in plain sight and not let you see me, I guess that’s a trick of sorts. I can make a piece of honeycomb disappear!

Ha ha. It was lovely to meet you, my girl, but it’s a long way back to Astol and the pass back to my Valley so I’d best be on my way. Safe travels to you.

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If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy of Hall of Night, you can buy it here.

 

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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494132/?

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:

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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:

SLGrigg CBC

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:

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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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