Friday Feature ~ Paradise Girl by Phill Featherstone

Today I would like to give a warm West Country welcome to author Phill Featherstone and his novel Paradise Girl. Welcome Phill! As soon as I read the blurb for Paradise Girl I was intrigued! It is very close to the top of my TBR pile now… Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you grew up and perhaps how this has influenced your writing?

I grew up on the Pennines only a few miles from Haworth, where the amazing Brontë sisters lived and wrote. As a child and teenager I roamed the landscape, striding like Heathcliff (I liked to think ) over the peaty moors. After many years living and working in the south and the midlands I returned here, to my roots, and started writing.

Heathcliff eh?… pondering… OK let’s move on.. have you ever had a job other than that of a writer?

I took a degree in English and qualified as a teacher. I taught English in secondary schools, mostly to 6th formers. I’ve also been a taxi driver, worked in a store and sold ice cream (I was Mr Whippy!)

Wow English teacher, now that’s a tough gig, all those teenagers! Yes a tough gig indeed! So tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Paradise Girl?

I live on the hills overlooking a small town in the valley. In the summer of 2013 there was a power cut. The day was still and hot. I worked on my laptop until the battery ran down, then took a cold drink out into the garden. I settled on a bench and looked around, and it struck me: I couldn’t see or hear any movement. None at all, except for the silent revolution of the wind turbines on the opposite hill. There were no signs of life anywhere. It was as if the valley and all around it had gone into a state of suspended animation.

I had a thought. Suppose there was no one else. Suppose everyone had disappeared – perhaps run away, been taken by aliens, or felled by some deadly virus. What would I do? How would I survive? Could I?

The idea for Paradise Girl was born. All that was left was to write it.

I’ve wondered that at times too, sometimes I think it’s a real possibility. What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished a new novel, called The God Jar. It begins with a young couple on holiday on the Cornish coast finding a mysterious jar. The action jumps back 400 years to the court of Queen Elizabeth I and to Dr John Dee, known as ‘the Queen’s magician’. We learn what the jar actually is, something of its potency, and how the Doctor used it to change the course of history.

Back in the present, the couple learn that their find is very special. Others are interested in it and in the power it brings, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

Oh, I think that’s called a time-slip mystery thriller, well that’s what I’m calling it! The God Jar sounds really interesting…em… I can see I shall have to decant my TBR pile onto the floor when The God Jar is released! Now talking of going back in time… If you could go back in time what would you tell your younger self?

Start writing sooner. Don’t hang about or make excuses. Make time, make space, and get on with it!

Really good advice Phill. I think I would tell myself the same thing! Thank you so much for joining me today. Phill will kindly be giving away a signed copy of Paradise Girl to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment below. The winner will be chosen at random. To give you a taste here’s the blurb followed by a snippet:

Paradise Girl

Paradise Girl is told through the diaries of 17 year-old Kerryl Shaw. The Shaw family live on a remote hilltop farm, and they think this will insulate them from a highly infectious virus which sweeps the country. It doesn’t, and with her family and all around her gone Kerryl finds herself alone. Her diaries show how isolation and loneliness affect her, and build to a dramatic conclusion on the northern moors.

“…impossible to put down… writing of a high literary standard, with the kind of psychological depth which lingers in the mind long after reading.”

Here’s the snippet:

I messaged my friend Josie. No reply. I called her number but there was no answer there either. I wanted to go to her house to find out what had happened but Lander, my brother, said I was being selfish.

‘What happens if you catch the virus and bring it back?’ he said. ‘Do you want to infect all of us?’

Of course I didn’t, but I was worried about Josie. I called Penny Cross. She lives in the same street as Josie. She said she didn’t know about Josie herself but she’d seen an ambulance outside her house. I said that might mean they were taking somebody to hospital.

‘No,’ she said, ‘nobody goes to hospital any more. They’re using ambulances for hearses now.’

I called Steve. The picture kept jumping but I could see he looked awful. He said everybody was dying and the young people were having a ‘Death’s Doorway’ party. They were going to dance and drink and shag and get high until one by one they dropped. He said people were breaking into the stores and taking what they wanted and there was no one there to stop them. He said I should join him, because if you’ve got to go that’s the way to do it.

He swung his phone in an arc. There were a lot of people in the street. Some of them were half naked, some had bottles, some were dancing. Several were lying on the floor, drunk or maybe dead. In the background a girl was puking up. It made me feel sick.

I told Lander about the pictures. ‘Good for them,’ he said.

I got angry then. How could he not see how awful it was? ‘Why don’t you go and join them if you think it’s so fantastic?’ I yelled.

Lander and I seemed to be quarrelling a lot now. We didn’t used to, well, not as much. We might have gone on as we were for who knows how long. We might all have survived, because as long as we kept to ourselves how could the Infection get us?

Bryst put an end to that. I don’t blame him. He didn’t set out with the intention of killing us. He was just looking for some way to save his boy.

Wow, I can’t wait to read it. Once again thank you so much for sharing Paradise Girl with us Phill. Remember to be in with a chance of winning a signed copy please leave a comment in the box below.

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon USparadise Girl

Troubador

 

About the author

Phill was born and brought up in West Yorkshire and trained as a teacher before reading English at Cambridge. He also has an MA in Education.

Phill taught English in schools and colleges in London, Hampshire and Leicestershire and then spent five years as an education adviser for Northamptonshire Local Authority.

In 1997 he and his wife, Sally Featherstone, started a publishing company specialising in resources for the early years. The company won the IPG Education Publisher of the Year award in 2007, and in 2008 the business was acquired by Bloomsbury Publishing. From 2008 until 2014 Phill and Sally ran a company providing training services for teachers. Since then he has spent his time on writing and conservation work. He has co-written with Sally several books for teachers and he now concentrates on fiction.

When he’s not writing, Phill enjoys reading (of course), listening to music, going to concerts, galleries and the theatre, and playing the saxophone (badly). He lives in a farmhouse on the pennines overlooking the Calder Valley. Phill is a member of The Society of Authors.

RPFeatherstone

Connect with author Phill Featherstone:

Author Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

A Free Week of Promotion… Yes Please!

Opportunities for free promotion do not come by very often so when they do I want to grab them with both hands and start running! This week starting today (Sunday) you can vote once a day for Forbidden Colours at the Author Shout website. If it wins the weekly vote Forbidden Colours will receive a week’s worth of free promo which would be tots amazing!  Please please, if you have the merest of moments anytime this week click on the link below. It only takes a second but my gratitude will last a lot longer!!

 

HERE’S THE LINK

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Oscar The Alien ~ A Beginners Guide to Spanish Wine

I first met Oscar last summer. He was compiling an ‘Interstellar Travel Guide to the Solar System’. His travels had taken him far and wide, covering thousands of light years in search of the next ‘big thing’. We sit on the veranda and watch the sun continue its rise high above the Montserrat Mountains. I give him quick sideways glances and tell him he is lucky to have landed in Spain. Oscar watches me intently as I fill his glass with my favourite Cava; his three purple eyes full of wonder. He sniffs it tentatively before drinking the lot. As I refill his glass his skin starts to change colour from a deep moss green to mustard yellow. He assures me this is a good sign.
“We are the third largest wine producer on the planet,” I say helpfully.
“You mean there is more of this… where?” Oscar licks his lips and holds up the now empty glass.
I take him on a tour of the vineyards. It is the most surreal wine tasting tour I have ever conducted. Over the course of the next six hours, we talk and drink. I tell him about Earth, about Spain, its peoples, and traditions. I tell of the historic and celebratory importance of wine, of the differences the soil and climate make to its taste and flavour. He listens attentively as I discuss the centuries of love and dedication given by each generation to the vineyards. He sips each glass I offer, holding it first like a precious jewel, his skin changing colour with each sample. The Cava makes his skin turn yellow again, whilst the big bold Tempranillo makes him glow red like a fire truck! His colour changing extravaganza seems restricted to the colours of the Spanish flag and I smile. If I have learned only one thing today it is that Aliens can hold their drink!
Earth he says will not be featured in the ‘Interstellar Travel Guide’ and my heart sinks. Oscar is at pains to explain that this is, in fact, a good thing, a very good thing. No other planet compares to the beauty he has found on Earth and none have such treasure as Spanish wine – he should know! He will direct future travellers to Jupiter, and we shall be safe from an influx of interplanetary travellers. He, however, shall be coming back next year. I agree to act as his guide and excitedly chart out a road trip from Madrid to Bilbao via https://winetourismspain.com/ . He is particularly keen to visit more vineyards!
Boarding his spacecraft he bids me farewell offering out his large green hand. Spain he tells me shall always have a special place in both his hearts! I raise my glass as he disappears into the starlit sky. I await his return with anticipation, I am already dreaming about the wines we shall discover. I am happy to have met Oscar and glad that Spain will be his solar secret!

 

Road_trips_in_Spain

 

 

Oh The Things You Can Think…. Finding The Space Between The Words… Progress on Book 3

I appear to in the throes of a writing frenzy. Whether it’s the longer days, or the (slightly) warmer weather I am unsure.  It doesn’t happen often so when it does, I strap myself in and type as fast as my stubby fingers will allow. Then I hit the wall. I lay exhausted in a crumpled heap until chocolate and caffeine (or wine) revive me. I break only to feed the hungry teens and walk the dog. Everything takes on increased speed and unwavering focus as I hurtle towards my word count. Sound familiar?

What I hadn’t banked on was the rest of my life becoming equally as crazy.I do like a good dose of procrastination to balance things out, but sadly this week there was no time for it! Procrastination, for me, is like an annoying friend. You can’t wait to see the back of them but then miss them when they’re gone! It has only been a four day week (due to the bank holiday), and even then I had Tuesday off, so technically… well actually, I only worked three days. I know  – I’m a light weight!

So the book, how’s the book coming along? Well, I’m glad you asked! Last night at precisely 11.45pm I hit 40,000 words! 40,00 words on a book that I had no intention of writing, not bad eh? Yeah, I was impressed with myself too! Suffice to say Lady Virginia Penrose has been very busy and very bossy! I’m aiming for around 85,000 words so you could say I’m almost half way. I’m hoping to get finished before the end of the year, but I’m not going to hold myself too firmly to a date. Writing this book has taken me by surprise so I want to try and find the space between the words, give them time to breathe. Hopefully, it will help the different strands find their way. Which is why this weekend I am leaving it be. Yep, you heard me, I won’t be going anywhere near Lady Ginny. I shall of course still be writing! I have an interesting blog post to write about an Alien and some wine, no I haven’t been drinking, well not yet.

So me hearties ( oh no, I’ve gone all West Country… must stop thinking about the return of Poldark), pop back tomorrow to hear about the Alien. Until then here is a picture I took at St James Park in London a few weeks ago… I am desperately trying to channel the Swan!

 

Swan1

 

Friday Feature….The Curious Tale of Creating an Audio Book….

Creating an audio book was not something I had thought about too deeply until recently. My friend and fellow mystery author Phyllis Entis began the process of converting her Damien Dickens Mysteries trilogy sometime back in 2016. I watched with interest as each book was brought to life. It was not an althogether smooth process, but the end result was amazing. It got me to thinking (yes I do still have a few brain cells left in good working order). How much time do I spend in the car or on the train or even doing the washing up? Surely it could be time better spent.There is never as much time as I would like to read a book, so why not listen to one? And that is exactly what I did! I chose a book by one of my favourite writers – Robert Bryndza. The Girl in The Ice is a book I know very well, I think I’ve read it three times! Hearing the book read aloud despite knowing the story gave it a new dimension. How you read something in your head compared to hearing it read out loud gives it a different flow, different punctuation. It surprised me.

I’ve ‘ummed and ‘arred about whether I should go down the audio route for All Tomorrow’s Parties .My main doubt revolved around my protagonists voice. Would it be possible to find a narrator who would be able to portray Laine Marshall exactly as she sounds inside my head? I made myself a promise. If after two months I was unable to find a narrator who was a solid vocal fit then I would take it as a sign it was not meant to be. I would park the idea on the back burner and leave it there… Well life has a way of kicking up the preverbial don’t you find? This week I am very excited to announce I have found my Laine Marshall! A young British actress who will be giving a living voice to All Tomorrow’s Parties I am bowled over. More news on this over the coming weeks but to say I am excited is an understatement! If all goes well  there will be an audio version of All Tomorrow’s Parties by July. Just in time for your holidays. Sometimes life is just grand!

If you can’t wait until then you can downlaod a kindle copy or grab yourself a paperback version here –

Friday Feature ~ Damien Dickens Mysteries: Books 1, 2 and 3 by Phyllis Entis

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to fellow mystery author Phyllis Entis today. I have read ‘The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper’ and loved it. Thanks for joining me today Phyllis. Please can you tell us a little bit more about the Damien Dickens series?

PE: Damien Dickens was born during a drop-in writing workshop at the Riford Branch of the San Diego Public Library, located in La Jolla, California.

 The weekly workshop had a simple format. The moderator began each session with a writing prompt, typically a sentence, a list of words, or a picture. We all wrote at top speed for twenty minutes. At the end of the timed writing period, each of us read our creations out loud to the other participants in the group.

For the first session of 2013, our moderator introduced something new. She arrived laden with a stack of 10 x 13 brown envelopes, which she proceeded to distribute to us. Each envelope contained a different object. As a warm-up exercise, she instructed us to reach into the envelope, feel the object inside and, without looking at the object, write a few words of description. Then she had us remove the object from the envelope and use it as our story prompt.

 The object in my envelope was a string of green plastic beads, such as would be found at a New Orleans Mardi Gras event. In my story, the beads became an expensive rope of green pearls belonging to Sylvia Sutherland, the CEO of Sutherland Smokes. Sylvia, so the story went, was worried about her kid sister, Celine, and engaged Damien Dickens to protect her. In my piece of flash fiction, Sylvia was the archetypical slinky dame and Damien the clichéd down-on-his-luck private eye. Fortunately for my readers, both characters evolved dramatically by the time I had completed the first draft of THE GREEN PEARL CAPER.

 The first novel led to a second, THE WHITE RUSSIAN CAPER, and the second led to a third, THE CHOCOLATE LABRADOODLE CAPER. The three published novels are now united in a Kindle ebook compilation, DAMIEN DICKENS MYSTERIES: BOOKS 1, 2, & 3.

 The first three ‘Capers’ will be joined by a fourth Damien Dickens novel later this year.

Well I am very glad to hear there will be a fourth!! Here’s wishing you every success with the series.

In the great tradition of Agatha Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence Beresford and Dashiell Hammett’s Nick & Nora Charles, mystery writer Phyllis Entis presents Damien & Millie Dickens, Private Investigators.

 The Dickens Detective Agency may be headquartered in 1980s Atlantic City, but Damien and Millie’s cases take them from Montreal to Miami. The settings are authentic, the plots are twisted, and the action moves forward at a steady pace.

Enjoy all three of Damien and Millie’s exploits. Download DAMIEN DICKENS MYSTERIES: BOOKS 1, 2 & 3 at Amazon today.

 

 

Herewith a few excerpts that Phyllis has kindly shared – enjoy!!

Continue reading “Friday Feature ~ Damien Dickens Mysteries: Books 1, 2 and 3 by Phyllis Entis”

A Room of My Own

I sit writing this blog post in the room pictured above. It’s a room I love, it’s my writing room. It used to be the ‘spare room’ but I have converted it into my little piece of bookish bliss! I am currently sharing my space with the contents of the bathroom due to ongoing building works. I think our tiny bathroom is, in fact, a Tardis judging by the amount of paraphernalia that surrounds me. Ah, the beloved foot spa, such a great idea, but sadly never used. Maybe I could use the foot spa and write at the same time? Now there’s a thought!

I am very lucky to have such a wonderful place to write. The room is at the front of the house. It overlooks a field of horses. It is a lovely place to write, and to daydream in equal measures. Most of the time I am joined by Poppy my English Springer Spaniel. She will do one of two things. She will sit under the desk at my feet or, she’ll look for adventure.Guess which one I prefer? I am ashamed to say she has mastered the art of bin diving! I can often be seen raising my voice and running across the landing, in hot pursuit of a dog with an empty ink cartridge or worse, a chocolate wrapper! She chooses her moments with absolute precision, running off at exactly the moment I need to apply myself to a particularly complex piece of dialogue, or a red pen edit. She is a cheeky madam!

I do like a reasonably tidy desk. The same can not be said for the floor. No, I will not take a picture of the floor – trust me you really don’t want that image in your head.The floor usually sports three or four pieces of research in the form of open books, sheets of handwritten notes and photographs. This is another part of the bored dog vs human adventure that regularly takes place. I have learned only to place items on the floor that can be easily replaced. Sprinting is not my special talent. Some of my books are literally ‘dog eared’. Well I had better get on…. that book won’t write itself and I need to provide some entertainment for the dog!

April 1st 2017 ~ Brace Yourselves…

The ultimate in fake news April 1st, 2017 does not disappoint. Here’s my top five ‘fake news’ favourites.

1. Skin & Tonic ~ The Gin Spa. If only this were true! Those clever people at Groupon have even come up with a short advert on YouTube. The blurb reads:

“Groupon has teamed up with June Iper, the creative director behind London-based spa, Skin & Tonic, to create a gin inspired wellness experience. Instead of regular steam, the water used is infused with a high-quality gin that contains botanicals including coriander seeds, orris root and cassia bark.”

 

Superb right? The possibilities are endless – Prosecco Spa, Red Wine Spa, Rum Spa….

2. Google Wind – Why not? As it continues its plan for world domination why not invent a windmill to blow away the clouds? It gets my vote!

 

 

3. Not to be outdone Amazon have done themselves proud… Introducing the Petlexa via Amazon Echo. It allows your pet to place orders for themselves with Amazon. Just think if it were true. You arrive home to discover a hundred weight of gravy bones and sausages!

 

4. One for all you drivers out there. Honda Dream Laboratories present to you an emoji driver to driver communication system. Offering drivers expressive horn sounds matched to a variety of emojis! Check them out..

https://youtu.be/B1qmmf6cYow

5. Last but by no means least Google Japan have outdone themselves. Introducing the bubble wrap keyboard! Ah but it is so much more. It’s a keyboard, a stress reliever, and an olfactory sensation!

So there you have it. A bit of light-hearted fun to make you smile on a Saturday. What April Fools fakery have you come across? Please leave me a comment.