Tuesday Talk: Today author Mary Wood takes time out to chat to us about her latest WIP and some ‘must have’ dinner guests…

51RreVdSiKL._UX250_Good morning Mary and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Good morning and thank you for inviting me, it is an honour to be your guest today.
I was born in Maidstone, Kent, brought up in Leicestershire and have lived in Lancashire since 1983. I now spend half of the year in Spain and half in England.
Now, for something about me that makes people gasp: I am the thirteenth child of fifteen! My mother was from an upper-middle class family. She married my father, an East-End barrow boy against her family’s wishes and was cast out for many years.
Growing up we were very poor but rich in love. Education was mainly centred on what I call the 4 R’s, reading, writing, arithmetic and religion. My favourite was writing and I used to sometimes get into trouble for writing too much when given a title for composition. I was told that though what I wrote was very good, the teacher didn’t have the time to go through it all and the school didn’t have the resources to supply me with two or three exercise books a term. My destiny had already begun . . .
I have been married for 53 years to Roy – not the famous Roy Wood from Wizard, I hasten to add, though mine does do a good rendition of ‘I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day’ when he’s had a couple . . .
We have four children, eight grandchildren and four step-grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren. Family picnics and get-togethers are lovely, but Christmas is expensive!

How did your writing journey begin?
An avid reader, with thoughts that I could write a book, and a story going round my head, I first put pen to paper, in 1989 – literally as I didn’t own a typewriter.
I was nursing my mother during her last months. A traumatic time from which I needed some respite and a channel for my emotions.
Like all would-be authors I imagined I was writing the next best-seller as I sat in the garden during the hour or two when mum would take a nap. I could even visualize the block-buster film!
That manuscript is gathering dust on a shelf having been rejected so many times I could paper a wall with the letters. However, I never gave up and here I am 27yrs later, a Sunday Times Best-Seller, and published by one of the ‘big six’ publisher’s Pan Macmillan – Dreams do happen!
Besides a longing to write, and not being able to stop once I started, there is a genes element – my great grandmother, Dora Langlois, was an author and I am very happy and privileged to have acquired a first edition of one of her books. Published in 1908 there is 106 years between us having our books in print! Very proud to walk in her footsteps.

Who are your favourite authors and why?
I love Penny Vincenzi, her stories are so far reaching and have many threads, I love her style too, and have adapted it in my own writing. Each character has a chapter and their stories though intertwined, play out separately till that moment when everything comes together. Fascinating journey.
Barbara Erskine, is my tiny dip into the unknown. I’m not a fan of fantasy, but the present connecting with the past is a concept I do like to think is real. Barbara links characters to the past in a way that keeps me spellbound.
Catherine Cookson, my all-time hero and inspiration. The first commercial author I read, and read, and read as before that I read the classics, and loved them. I feel that Catherine was the first real, ‘character driven’ author. She drags you into the feelings and traumas of the people of her books as if you are there. An emotional journey and something I wanted to emulate. The greatest compliment I had of my northern trilogy was to be told the book reminded the reader of a modern-day Catherine Cookson novel.
Jeffrey Archer, a great story-teller. Loved his Clifton Chronicles and Kane and Able too. He is so knowledgeable about life in politics and history. He is another inspiration of mine.
I also have many other favourites, too many to say why: Margaret Dickinson, Annie Murray, Kate Thompson, and Diane Allen, all of whom are in the same publishing camp as me and I have had the pleasure of meeting. Then there is Marion Fellows, and, Oh so many, I would like to mention whose books have given me a lot of pleasure. However, there is one author I have to mention and do so with such pride, my sister, Felicity Dwyer. She published her debut on kindle last year, and it is a wonderful book. ‘When Blossoms Fall.’

What is your favourite food

I love paella and chocolate. Not all at once – oh, go on then….

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

I have just completed a book that will be published in Dec 2017, yes, we have to work that far ahead, as there are many processes a book has to go through from submission to reaching the shelves.

Entitled, Reach Out To Me, it is set in the Second World War, with a back drop of Bletchley Park, where the codebreaking operations were carried out.

However, the planning of it was going to feature much more of the park until I did my research. On visiting the fascinating Bletchley – a day out all the family can enjoy, I found that life for most of the women who worked there was quite hum-drum, as their work was difficult and intense and carried out over twelve hour shifts. So most of my action moved to their leave breaks.

My main characters are Flo and Molly.

As always, I have a girl from the north, as I love the depth of the northerners. Flo, a working-class girl works for a pharmacist who recognizes her potential and helps her to better her education by paying for night classes for her. This leads to discovering her genius at maths. When war breaks out she is a natural candidate for Bletchley Park.

Bletchley was staffed by nepotism, and it is her tutor who makes the introduction, his boyfriend is a code-breaker there and looking for an assistant.

Molly, a Londoner, is abused by her father who is a butcher. His shop is failing due to his drinking. A notorious gang move in and persuade him to let them use his shop as a front for their black-market operations. This gang also pimp girls and they force Molly to join their brothel. Holding her kidnapped and in fear.

The story examines this seedy side of life and the consequences of being gay in the mid twentieth century. It is an emotional journey of love and friendship with the backdrop of war – the blitz in particular. It has Flo as the mainstay, trying to keep lives together and heal them when they are broken. And, as is characteristic of me – it is a gritty novel that deals with all issues and doesn’t shy away from them.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with music playing in the background? If the latter, have you any favourite artists?

I need silence so that I can hear and listen to the characters as they tell me their story.

If you could invite four famous people to dinner who would they be and why?

  • Charles Dickens – how fascinating to listen to him. He would speak in the old fashion way, and we would discuss his books and social history of his day.
  • Winston Churchill – he could tell me what he was really thinking when he rallied the people of Britain to fight, and how it was to be captured in the Boar war and to escape though many continents with the world watching his progress through siting’s of him. Oh, and I would ask him how he felt about his beloved wife’s alleged infidelities.
  • Charlie Chaplin – he would have Charles and Winston laughing to spilt their sides as he tumbled over imaginary walls and did his funny walks, but I would like to explore the serious side he is said to have had too.
  • And for the feminine touch, Marilyn Monroe. What would that be like, to throw her into the mix? Wow. And what a story she would have to tell me about her affair with the Kennedy brother’s their jealousy over her and whether she was really murdered, and by whom.

If only I could have this dinner party, I’m already so excited about it.

I have loved being interviewed by you, Jo. I hope your readers enjoy reading about me. Thank you, once again for having me.

Thank you so much Mary for taking time to chat.

MARY’S BOOK LINKS

WARTIME SAGAS

Time Passes Timehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Passes-Breckton-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00IXLVWAA – (A spin off of my Northern Trilogy, but a stand alone book) also available in paperback – Amazon and WH Smiths

Proud of Youhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Proud-You-Mary-Wood-ebook/dp/B00LB89RNG   …………………………..availability DITTO to Time Passes Time

All I Have To Give https://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Have-Give-Mary-Wood-ebook/dp/B00ZCCXE5E   ………………….availability      DITTO

In Their Mother’s Footsteps (will be published in December 2016 and available for pre order) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Their-Mothers-Footsteps-Mary-Wood-ebook/dp/B01D0BD0X4

MY NORTHERN TRILOGY

To Catch a Dreamhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Catch-Dream-Breckton-Novels-Book-ebook/dp/B00SN935VQ – also available in paperback from Amazon and WH Smiths

An Unbreakable Bond https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unbreakable-Bond-Breckton-Novels-Book-ebook/dp/B015YCGQRY – availability DITTO (a Sunday Times Best-Seller)

Tomorrow Brings Sorrow https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tomorrow-Brings-Sorrow-Breckton-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B008PH7V7A Only available on Kindle, but will be out in paperback in May 2017

THE COTTON MILLS SAGA

JMN_Cover

Judge me Nothttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Judge-Cotton-Mill-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B00EBFQG8K Only available on kindle. Plans for paperback in 2018.

 

 

 

This week Tuesday Talk chats to Melanie Robertson King whose latest book The Secret of Hillcrest House is currently on tour with Brook Cottage Books

Good morning Melanie and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Thanks for inviting me to your Tuesday Talk Interview, Jo. I live in Eastern Ontario, Canada and if I stand on the sidewalk (I believe you call it a pavement here in the UK) and turn to my right, I can see the St. Lawrence River.
My house is over 125 years old and I’ve had a few weird paranormal experiences in it during the thirty plus years I’ve lived in it.
There’s nothing I like better than curling up with a book and a blanket and woe to anyone who disturbs my reading.
I could tell you more here, but I’ll save it for my author bio.

How did your writing journey begin?

I was twelve-thirteen when I started writing stories and illustrating them but never thought about the possibility of being published. I mean, authors were geniuses, placed on pedestals by us when we were that age. Still, the written word had bitten me. Even back then, when I wasn’t writing (or reading), I talked about writing – and here I am.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on at the moment?

I’m working on a Christmas novella. It’s called Christmas in Quebec City (although I might drop City from the title).

Think Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

I love to read crime fiction so one of my favourite authors is Stuart MacBride. His Logan McRae novels are set in Aberdeen (city and shire) which are near and dear to my heart as my father was born there in the parish of Kennethmont (Kendonald in my debut novel – A Shadow in the Past).

Diana Gabaldon ranks high in my list of favourite authors because of the Outlander series of books. I have the entire series as well as her Lord John Grey novels.

Another author whose works I enjoyed reading is Joanna Lambert – have you heard of her? I think she’s got a couple more books out since the last one I read so I must get them so I can catch up on the goings on with her characters.

Have you a favourite holiday destination?

Scotland. I love the rugged beauty of the country and it’s part of my heritage. I still have family there so it’s great to go back and see them. Over the years, I’ve made a lot of good friends there, too. And, it was in Scotland where I met Princess Anne in 1999.

If you could invite four famous people to dinner who would they be and why?

Bram Stoker. After visiting the ruins of Slains Castle on my last trip to Scotland and seeing the surrounding area, I want to find out straight from the horse’s mouth was it the Cruden Bay area of Scotland or Whitby, England that inspired him to write Dracula.

Three more, eh?

Diana Gabaldon. She’s one of my favourite authors so would like to be able to talk writing, publishing (trials and tribulations) and Scotland with her.

Helen Mirren. The woman is beautiful and has class. I recently saw where she visited a young boy still in her Queen attire after a performance because Her Majesty was unavailable.

Jackie Stewart. I’ve earned that nickname from driving in the UK. The first time I drove over there, I was nervous and didn’t go very fast. The next time, I was able to keep up with my Auntie Edith who wasn’t known for being a slowpoke… LOL!

Book Blurb

The Secret of Hillcrest House 4-4-2016 Front Cover-page-001 612x792Sometimes there’s more to a house than bricks and mortar.
Hillcrest House is one such place. Perched on a cliff in the picturesque town of Angel Falls, there is more to this Victorian mansion than meets the eye. When referring to the house, the locals use the word haunted on a regular basis. Strange visions appear in the windows, especially the second-floor ones over the side porch. Even stranger events take place within its four walls.
Rumour has it, the original owners, Asher and Maggie Hargrave, never left their beloved home. They claim the couple and their family are responsible for driving people away. Over the years, Hillcrest House has changed hands numerous times. No one stays long. Renovations begin then stop and the house is once more abandoned. The latest in this long line of owners is Jessica Maitland.
Will Jessica be the next one to succumb or will she unravel the mystery of the haunting of Hillcrest House?

Feedback

  • Melanie Robertson-King’s latest novel serves up a delightful blend of the supernatural and spicy romance, Lynn L. Clark, author of The Home Child, and Fire Whisperer & Circle of Souls: Two Novellas of the Supernatural, & The Accusers
  • Intrigue, dark buried secrets, hot romance and a neat twist in the tale make this riveting reading, Sheryl Browne, MA Creative Writing, Choc Lit Author
  • A fun read that keeps you guessing right up to the surprise ending, Dayna Leigh Cheser, Author of Janelle’s Time, Moria’s Time, Adelle’s Time, & Logan’s Time

Buy links

Paperback and Kindle from

Amazon.ca http://www.amazon.ca/Secret-Hillcrest-House-Melanie-Robertson-King-ebook/dp/B01EEJOIXW/

Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Hillcrest-House-Melanie-Robertson-King-ebook/dp/B01EEJOIXW/

Amazon.co.uk http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Hillcrest-House-Melanie-Robertson-King-ebook/dp/B01EEJOIXW/

 

Barnes and Noble

Paperback and nook

Kobobooks

At the iTunes store

And in paperback at

Books a Million

About the Author

Melanie author photo 500x590Melanie Robertson-King lives in Eastern Ontario, Canada, within sight of the St. Lawrence River. She has always been a fan of the written word. Growing up as an only child, her face was always buried in a book from the time she could read.
At her father’s behest, she studied Highland Dancing and won a silver medal in the Sword Dance in 1969 at the 1000 Islands Highland Games. She also learned how to play the bagpipes (and has her own set) although she admits she doesn’t play very well and hasn’t played in many years. Her neighbours thank her for that.
Melanie’s father was one of the thousands of Home Children sent to Canada through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland, and she has been fortunate to be able to visit her father’s homeland many times and even met the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) at the orphanage where he was raised.

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.melanierobertson-king.com
Celtic Connexions Blog: http://www.melanierobertson-king.com/wp02/
Facebook Author Page: Melanie Robertson-King Author
Twitter: @RobertsoKing

 

Tuesday Talk welcomes the multi-talented Kate Glanville chatting about all things book, her recent house move and some interesting desert island ‘must haves’

unnamed (1)Good morning Kate and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
I am a writer and ceramic artist living in West Wales with my three children. I have had three novels published in the last four years, A Perfect Home, Heartstones and Stargazing and am currently trying to write a fourth. Writing time has been scarce this year, as I’ve moved from the house I lived in for twenty years in a little village called Bethlehem not far from Llandeilo. Moving was a mammoth process as my ex-husband and I were both potters and seemed to collect an enormous amount of ‘stuff’! But after weeks and weeks of sorting, packing, trips to charity shops, trips to the dump, numerous bonfires and general down-sizing the children and I have finally moved.
Our new home is Dairy Cottage, a gorgeous little house in Dinefwr Park – a National Trust property on the edge of Llandeilo. Our garden backs onto IMG_3594the deer park and we have a resident peacock who spends his days trying to impress our three cats with his magnificent tail feathers! We are surrounded by beautiful parkland, woods, a castle and even have a very nice National Trust café and gift shop on our door IMG_3602step! What more could a writer want!
I also have a business decorating ceramic tiles and pottery – a business I’ve had for nearly twenty-five years. I’ve sold my work all over the world supplying Liberty, The Conran Shop, Fired Earth and many other shops and galleries. These days I mainly get bespoke orders via my website designing tile murals to go behind Aga’s and for bathrooms and plates and mugs to celebrate weddings and other celebrations.
I’m very lucky to be able to write and paint for a living – the two things I enjoy most!

How did your writing journey begin?
I’ve always loved writing and have had many stories ‘living’ in my head! When I was eight I decided to fill up a whole notebook with stories about cats I had known and loved – I didn’t get very far as it was a rather big notebook and I had only really known one cat! After that I was constantly trying to start novels and loved writing stories and essays for English lessons. Unfortunately my spelling is absolutely terrible – (as an adult I was diagnosed with dyslexia) so my essays would come back with many more red lines than unnamed (3)positive comments. Though I did have a very inspiring teacher in my final year of primary school, Miss Pellow. She loved my stories and told me I should become a writer despite my spelling. It was lovely that thirty-three years later I was able to send Miss Pellow a copy of my first novel and thank her for her early words of encouragement.
After school I went to St Martins in London to study fashion design but would always have some sort of idea for a novel in my head. When I left college I started the pottery business and didn’t really have time to write though every now and then I’d sit down and try to start a novel. When my children were very little I wrote and illustrated stories for them and about them and did I try, unsuccessfully, to get some of them published.
I was forty when I really decided to try to finish a novel. I was inspired by a close friend who had been diagnosed with cancer telling me that if there was ever anything I’d wantedunnamed (2) to do in my life I should do it as soon as possible as you never know what’s around the corner. I told her I’d always wanted to write a novel and she encouraged me to just get on with it. Unfortunately my friend didn’t recover and I dedicated A Perfect Home to her memory.
I spent nearly three years on the first book, writing long hand in note books and getting a lovely lady in the village to type everything up for me. I remember she told me it was better than her library book at the time and I was overjoyed! I never actually asked her what book she was reading from the library!
After I had finished the first draught the author Charlotte Bingham, who was a pottery customer of mine, suggested I should send it to Cornerstones Literary Consultancy to get their opinion. This was the best advice I could have had as Cornerstones were wonderful, very encouraging and helpful and after suggesting a few changes to the initial manuscript they found me an agent.
My first contract was with Penguin in the U.S. which was very exiting, and then I signed with Accent Press in the UK. By that time – the process of actually finding a publisher did take some time!- I’d written Heartstones. Accent took that on too and I got publishing contracts in Germany and Norway. Stargazing came out this January with Accent and will be published in Germany by Baste Lubbe this month.
I still find it hard to think of myself as a professional writer, and often forget to mention it if people ask me what I do. I think for so long it had been a secret ambition I still feel shy about talking about it. I still remember those red marks all over my school exercise books and feel I can’t possibly be any good at it!

How would you describe your writing style?
I think my style is hard to put it into a specific category. The books are aimed at the woman’s fiction market, all three novels are written about women and from the perspective of women but men seem to enjoy reading them too. They are about relationships and love but also have a darker side to the stories and a mystery to be solved. I think of them as domestic thrillers! Though they all contain some serious subjects like domestic abuse, adultery and addiction I try to write with humour and want the reader to feel good about life by the time they finish the book.

Is there any other type of fiction you would consider writing?
As I said previously I have written and illustrated books for very small children so I think that’s something I might like to start doing again – maybe when my children leave home and I have more time – maybe if I have grandchildren! I can’t really see myself branching out into anything like sci-fi or erotic horror – those stories just aren’t in my head!

What are you currently working on?
My fourth novel is set in a large house in the Dordogne where a group of friends are having a week’s holiday. Things happen!!! It’s inspired by several holidays we spent at a beautiful house near Riberac with a large group of friends and their children– I would like to just say that the things that happen in the novel are not the things that ever happened on those holidays!!
Unfortunately I have yet to get back into my writing swing as we are in the midst of exam revision at Dairy Cottage – my 11 year old son has his year 7 exams and my 16 year old son has his GCSE’s – instead of getting on with my next novel my evenings are spent helping to work out the components of a plant cell and learning more that I ever thought I’d need to know about Germany between the wars!
But soon the exams will all be over and I hope to be back to work on my novel, ideally out in the garden on warm evenings, sipping gin and tonic and watching the deer go by as I contemplate my next sentence!!

What locations are on your bucket list?
My parents are from Ireland and my childhood holidays were spent in Dublin and on the south west coast. I have often taken my own children to Ireland and Heartstones was set in County Kerry. There are many places in Ireland I have yet to visit and I hope to spend more time there if I can.

I also hate being cold so I dream of hot beaches and warm evenings and that lovely freedom when you don’t have to wear too many clothes. So anywhere hot really (I know Ireland isn’t very hot!! I’m just always happy when I’m there!)

If you were to spend a year on a desert island, what four ‘must haves’ would you take with you and why?

A photograph album filled with pictures of my children so that I can look at them and dream of when I can see them all again.
Hand cream – my hands are always horribly dry from working in the pottery so it would be a good opportunity to try to get them into good condition! Maybe my nails would grow and I could paint them – can I have a bottle of nail varnish too?! Maybe a whole manicure set!!
A large bottle of gin and some bottles of tonic! Would some lemons be too much to ask for? I don’t mind about the ice.
A pen and a very ,very large notebook – of course!

 

KATE’S BOOK AND SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Amazon link for Kate’s books:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=sr_gnr_fkmr0?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Akate+glanville&keywords=kate+glanville&ie=UTF8&qid=1465658369

Accent press link  https://www.accentpress.co.uk/kate-glanville

My web page  www.kateglanville.com

Face Book Kate Glanville Author   https://www.facebook.com/kateglanvilleauthor/

 

COUNTING CHIMNEYS BY SANDY TAYLOR – MY REVIEW

 

 

51PG8pXNXTLI was really looking forward to Sandy Taylor’s second dip into the life of Dottie Perks via Counting Chimneys. Once again we were reintroduced to her quirky family. I particularly love her dad Nelson who grumbles his way through life, not really coping with all the social changes of the sixties – or being able to do anything right at home. Sister Rita is now a mother and has moved to a semi- on one of the new estates. Rita so much reminded me of Bob Ferris’s wife Thelma from TV’s ‘The Likely Lads’ – a girl who was keen to make all the right impressions and distance herself from her working class roots.
As the story begins, it’s now 1969 and Dottie is happy in her job working for a magazine in London. She flat shares with Polly who has become her new best friend. A family christening takes her home and brings her face to face with Ralph Bennett, the boy who broke her heart. Ralph’s daughter Peggy is now five and he is engaged to be married to the very pretty Fiona. When Dottie learns they are about to emigrate to Australia she begins to question her feelings about her current happiness and about Ralph.
I won’t go into any more detail, other than to say Sandy has introduced us to a whole new raft of great support characters who are carefully wrapped around Dottie and Ralph’s story. This book is as good, if not better than The Girls from See Saw Lane and is a definite must read for those who love a good family saga/romance. There are lots of twists and turns, laughter and tears before you reach the end but it’s a fabulous story and written true to the times.
Although this is without doubt another well-deserved five star read, there was one personal niggle for me and that was Ralph and what eventually happened after Dottie returned to Brighton. I simply couldn’t forgive him and sadly it coloured my view of his character for the rest of the book.

This review has also been posted on Amazon and Goodreads….