Writing Inspiration ~ The South West

When Gail Aldwin and I met on Twitter we were keen to share the experience of living and writing in the South West of England. I am pleased to welcome Gail to my blog. She answers our shared questions below, followed by mine. First, let me introduce Gail.

Gail Aldwin lives and writes in Dorchester. She is Chair of the Dorset Writers’ Network and works as a visiting tutor to creative writing students at Arts University Bournemouth.

 

Writer Gail Aldwin

1. Have you always lived in South West England?

Dorchester in Dorset became my home in 2007. At the beginning, I wasn’t particularly pleased to be moving from my lovely life in south London but my children and me had to up sticks when my husband got a job in the county town. I soon came to appreciate the benefits of living in a county area and it certainly extended the childhood experiences of my son. He spent his summers building camps and swimming in the river where his London friends thought a good day out was visiting Chessington World of Adventures.

Although I was brought up in London, I spent several years travelling overseas and have lived and worked in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. I do like a remote and beautiful location but living in one is not always easy. There are stories set in Australia and Papua New Guinea in Paisley Shirt, my recently published collection of short fiction. Something of a place remains with me from all the different locations I’ve experienced.

2. Is there one particular place in the South West that is special to you, if so why?

Chapel Porth, Cornwall in winter

My husband is from Cornwall and we spent many summers on the north coast when my children were little. Our favourite beach is Chapel Porth near St Agnes where a river meets the sea. Out of season, my husband and son spent many hours damming the river in order to flood the beach but that wouldn’t make them popular in the summer when it gets packed with visitors. My novel The String Games draws from my experience of losing my son when he was three years old on a crowded beach. While I was busy smothering my daughter in sunscreen, he wandered off.  I started searching for him by heading in the wrong direction. In spite of a tannoy announcement, he was lost for forty minutes then I eventually found him way down the beach jumping over the ways and completely oblivious to the panic he had caused.

Closer to home in Dorchester, it’s possible to walk across the water meadows and experience Thomas Hardy country. I love going to the cottage that is the place of his birth in Higher Bockhampton. I usually take a detour to visit the great writer’s gravestone in the churchyard at Stinsford. Although it was Hardy’s dying wish to be buried there with his parents, the executor of his will had other ideas and Hardy’s body ended up in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey while his heart was buried in Dorset.  Along the shaded riverside walk, I imagine how this place sparked ideas for Hardy and try to generate a few myself!

3. What’s it like to be a writer in the South West?

Dorset has a thriving writing community with literary events scheduled across the county. I am Chair of the Dorset Writers’ Network and work with the steering group to inspire writers and connect creative communities. We do this by putting on workshops and talks to support writers at different stages of their writing journey. The South West is full of creative people and I love to link up with writers in different counties. I have taken steps to achieve this by joining activities in Devon. I delivered a spoken word performance at the Sandford Y Festival book event and participated in the Chudleigh Dragons pitching competition as part of their annual festival. I would love to see better links for writers across the South West so that we can celebrate the creativity of the region.

Dorset Writers Network                                                         Facebook                                                         Twitter

 

Paisley Shirt by Gail Aldwin

 

Nicole Fitton

Writer Nicole Fitton

 

1. Have you always lived in South West England?

The short answer is no! I started my journey towards living in the West Country as a ‘grockle’ (tourist). The children were small back then and we would set off at the crack of sparrows and head west. Like many who’d travelled before us, we would wind our way slowly down the A303 for two glorious weeks in North Devon come rain or shine! We promised ourselves that if we ever got the opportunity to relocate we would grab it with both hands. Well, that’s what happened. In 2010 we relocated because of my husband’s work. It was a big decision. I am so proud of the way our kids adapted. It was a big shock initially, but within a few months they were taking everything in their stride – even school lessons delivered on the beach – now that was a first!

Until our move to Devon I had lived mainly in big cities such as London and New York. My work in international PR and marketing took me all over the world, and I know I draw on a lot of those experiences when I write.

I now live betwixt the villages of Iddesleigh and North Tawton. Iddesleigh is famously the home of author Michael Morpurgo whilst North Tawton was home to the late poet laureate Ted Hughes. It is a place of isolation, and I love it. There is something quite profound about my small hamlet which runs along the river Taw. Perhaps it is the ebb and flow of the river. I’m not sure, but I know it has worked its way into my bones. Living in a farming community the effects of late harvests, early harvests, failed crops, all subconsciously inform my thinking. I seem to draw on the landscape especially with my short stories.

2. Is there one particular place in the South West that is special to you, if so why?

Westward Ho!

I find myself drawn back to the River Taw time and time again. When we first arrived in Devon, it was the first place I discovered within walking distance of the house. We would spend many a happy hour skimming stones, swimming or sitting on ‘the beach’ (a patch of sandy shingle by the river’s edge). There are many ‘hidden’ parts of the river and every time I walk there I find something new.

Further afield I would say it would have to be the North Devon coastline. It is wild and structurally stunning. The rock formations you see are dramatic and magnificent. I have a story in mind for that coastline! Peppered in between the ancient stone cliffs are sandy coves and big expanses of golden beaches. My favourite beach is Westward Ho! The only place in the UK to have an exclamation mark as part of its name – fact!

3. What is it like to be a writer in the South West?

Devon is a superb place to write, and if someone were to do an audit or something clever like that I believe they would find a writer present in every village! There are a wealth of literary festivals and events across the county, which provide fantastic opportunities for support and collaboration year-round. It is such a positive community. I belong to a group called the Sakura Positive Press Writers Group; we hold open mic evenings in our local pub for storytelling. It’s great fun. It would be great if we could roll this out across the region. Stories were initially told that way, and it would be great to see this form reignited.

Forbidden Colours

 

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Getting Help…

Here is an important post from my friend and fellow author Amy M. Reade. This is so heartbreaking but so important. Thanks for agreeing to share your blog post Amy. Over to you…

The post I originally wrote for today was about my summer reading wish list, but that will have to wait until next week.

Today my heart is broken for a family I’ve never met.

Yesterday a student at the high school two of my children attend took his own life. I found out about it this morning through my church’s prayer chain. I have no words for the sorrow I feel for this boy’s family.

This is not the first time this has happened at the school. In fact, it’s at least the fourth time in as many years. There is something really, really wrong when a child feels there is no hope and no help.

Please, please, if you know anyone who is thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

Whether you contact them by phone or online, someone is there to help 24/7 all across the United States. And because I know people from all over the world read this blog, click here for a list of suicide hotlines by country. Please note that Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England are listed under United Kingdom. If you know any information on that list to be incorrect, please let me know and I’ll post the correct information below in the comments.

If you know someone who is struggling emotionally or mentally, you could be the catalyst for getting that person the help he or she desperately needs. Please visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-someone-else/ to find out what you can do to help. There’s also great information about things you shouldn’t do.

Please keep struggling families in your prayers, and please remember to be kind–you never know what someone else is going through.

Until next time,

Amy

Tuesday Spotlight ~ The Unity Game by Leonora Meriel

My first Tuesday spotlight for 2018 is here and it’s a cracker. Introducing author Leonora Meriel and her superb novel ‘The Unity Game’. One lucky reader will also be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of the book! Here’s what some of the reviews have said:

“A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~~ Kirkus Reviews

“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer

“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer

 

WHAT IF THE EARTH YOU KNEW WAS JUST THE BEGINNING?

A New York banker is descending into madness.
A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive. 
A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.

From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.

 

 

 

NF: Thanks so much for joining me today Leonora, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Please tell us a bit about the inspiration behind The Unity Game?

LM: A pleasure to be here, thanks for inviting me. I wanted to write about New York City, where I had lived for several years and where I started my career. However, I needed to find a new perspective on the theme, and it felt right to draw parallels with an advanced planet far from Earth. This is how the novel became Science Fiction, and then I decided to go a step further and add an after-life dimension. The inspiration started with my work on Wall Street and the desire to write about this in an original way.

NF: It sounds intriguing. You say you lived in New York, me too! Such a vibrant city. What other jobs have you had other than that of a writer?

LM: I’ve had a few. My first serious job was working at the United Nations in New York while I was finishing at university. At the age of 21 this really opened my eyes to how decisions are made in international politics and diplomacy. It was an extraordinary experience. My job after this was in the world’s largest law firm, so I had a direct comparison between a not-for-profit organisation and a private sector company. It was a dramatically different way of working! These two jobs then shaped my understanding when I came to start my own company, and also to run an international charity when I was living in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Continue reading “Tuesday Spotlight ~ The Unity Game by Leonora Meriel”

Love Secrets & Absolution Blog Tour

Today is my day to host author K.L Loveley on her Love, Secrets, and Absolution Blog tour. Below you will find details about the book released on November 1st, where to buy it, and a brief bio on the author. To be in with a chance of winning a goodie bag full of prizes hop on over to my competitions page and enter via the rafflecopter.

Book Blurb

People in the village gossip about Grace’s son, Alfie.

He’s a lonely boy full of secrets, lies, and obsessive thoughts.

How far can a mother’s love go? Will she ultimately sacrifice her life for his?

Set in Nottinghamshire, this family drama follows the lives of Grace and Alfie as he transforms from a naïve, young boy into a teenager spiralling out of control.

Love, Secrets, and Absolution is a coming of age story with a difference.

Deceit, betrayal, love, and addiction, a family falling apart in the midst of teenage angst and torn loyalties; will anybody find absolution?

What a great sounding book!  You can buy it here via Amazon USA  or  Amazon UK

K.L Loveley AuthorAbout the author

K.L Loveley is a former nurse, who has seen, heard, and dealt with a wide range of medical, social and family dramas. She has used her nursing experience, along with her excellent people-watching skills to create fascinating characters and intriguing scenarios within her books. She writes contemporary fiction, psychological dramas, and poetry.

Her debut novel Alice was published in February 2017, and the story tackles alcoholism head-on and presents the reader with an empathetic account of a spiraling addiction and the resulting pattern of hopelessness that many fall into.

K.L Loveley’s second novel Love, Secrets, and Absolution: An emotional and gripping psychological, family drama is a coming of age story with a difference. Deceit, betrayal, love, and addiction, this story is about a family falling apart in the midst of teenage angst and torn loyalties.

If you enjoy reading authors like Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain, you will enjoy K.L Loveley!

K.L Loveley lives in Nottinghamshire, England and loves socialising with friends and family. She is an avid reader and enjoys a variety of genres including psychological, thrillers and historical fiction. Her favourite authors include John le Carré, K.L Slater, Marian Keyes and Philippa Gregory.

Website I Twitter I Facebook I Goodreads I Google+ I LinkedIn

Love, Secrets, and Absolution Blog Tour 2 - 10 November

No Tricks Just Treats ~ Mixed Messages by Patricia Gligor

Well now my spooky friends, I have a veritable feast of a feature for you today. Fellow author and member of Mystery Authors International Patricia Gligor is joining me to talk about her novel ‘Mixed Messages’. A read that will give you goosebumps on your goosebumps!

Mixed Messages is the first in her Malone Mystery series and what a spine-tingling first it is. Packed full of mystery and spooky delights it is the perfect read to make you jump up and hide behind the sofa, taking the book with you obviously!

NF: Welcome Patricia and thanks so much for joining me today. Can you tell everyone a bit about ‘Mixed Messages’ and how you came up with the idea behind the book?

PG: Thank you, a pleasure to be here. I came up with the idea shortly after I’d moved into a new apartment on the west side of Cincinnati, I went for a walk in the neighborhood and spotted an old Victorian house. I remember standing there, gazing up at the house, captivated. I’ve always loved old houses; they have so much character. Every old house has a history; people have lived there and, in many cases, died there. As I looked up at the Victorian, I found myself wondering what those walls would say if they could talk.

NF: I agree, old houses have so much character and hold so many secrets. I’m starting to get a few chills already. Please tell us a bit more….

PG: Intrigued, I wanted to find out more about the house and the area so I went to the Cincinnati Historical Society and immersed myself in research. Little by little, I began to come up with plot ideas and possible scenarios. The people who would live in the house and in the neighborhood, the characters for my book, came to me gradually. I drew upon my own life experiences and I took bits and pieces of the lives of people I knew or had read or heard about. A physical characteristic here, a personality trait there. I jotted down those ideas on scraps of paper and it wasn’t long before I had a huge pile, which eventually became a chapter-by-chapter outline.

I fictionalized the house in my mind and on paper to fit the story I wanted to tell, which had slowly evolved. I constantly asked myself questions. What if, in the midst of my main character’s personal struggles, a serial killer is on the loose? What if she has reason to believe he’s after her?

NF: OK, I’m behind the sofa now! I have just downloaded ‘Mixed Messages’ and can’t wait to start reading it. A great read on the eve of All Hallows. Thanks so much for joining me today Patricia, and here’s wishing you every success with the series.

Click here to watch the book trailer so you too can join me behind the sofa!

Want to find out more? Here’s the blurb:

It’s estimated that there are at least twenty to thirty active serial killers in the United States at any given time. There’s one on the loose on the west side of Cincinnati.

It’s the week of Halloween and Ann Kern struggles with several issues. Her primary concern is her marriage which, like her west side neighborhood, is in jeopardy. Her husband is drinking heavily and his behavior toward her is erratic. One minute, he’s the kind, loving man she married and, the next minute, he’s cold and cruel.

Ann dismisses a psychic’s warning that she is in danger. But, when she receives a series of ominous biblical quotes, she grows nervous and suspicious of everyone, including her own husband.

As the bizarre and frightening events unfold, Ann discovers a handmade tombstone marked with her name, pushing her close to the edge. Will she be the Westwood Strangler’s next victim?

Spooky right? Want more? I thought so… Here’s a short excerpt:

Ann tried to shut the door in his face but he pushed hard against it and sent her tumbling backwards. She regained her balance and ran toward her apartment door. The man pounced at her and grabbed her wrist, twisting it. “Stop it!” she yelled. “You’re hurting me!”

He shoved her into her apartment and slammed the door behind them.

She stifled a scream. Please God, she prayed, don’t let the kids wake up. Please help me. Is this him? Is he the Westwood Strangler? Am I his next victim? What can I do? I don’t want to die!

Oh la la…. You can buy a copy of ‘Mixed Messages’ right here:   

 

About the Author:

Patricia Gligor is a Cincinnati native. The first three books in her Malone mystery series, Mixed Messages, Unfinished Business, and Desperate Deeds take place on the west side of Cincinnati. In Mistaken Identity, the fourth book, her characters are vacationing on Fripp Island in South Carolina. Marnie Malone, the fifth book in her series, is set in Mt. Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina.

Connect with Patricia Gilgor via:

Her Blog

Amazon

Goodreads Author Page

Facebook     Twitter

Wednesday Spotlight ~ The Life We Lead: Ascending by George M. Nagle

It gives me great pleasure to introduce a fellow member of Mystery Authors International George M. Nagle. Welcome George! If you like a good mystery with a dose of romance then read on…..

NF: I hear you have a new book soon to be released? How exciting! Can you tell us a bit about it?

GN:  The Life We Lead: Ascending is just the first in a series of what should be three books. At 425 pages, it is the shortest of the series and really the introduction to James, the group, Carissa and a whole cast of others. The Life We Lead follows James, the main character as he battles criminal syndicates while trying to have a normal life.  It is inspired by real-life events, however, names, places, timelines and such have all been altered.  This story has been 25 years in the making and certainly won’t disappoint with an incredible ending to the series.  It is based on the reality of spying, so the far-fetched gadgets and such like those found in James Bond won’t be appearing. It is a spy novel has lots of twists and turns that can make you laugh, cry, feel the characters outrage and even love.  The subtitle of the book is a clue to why it ends where it does too.

NF: Wow, it sounds right up my street. 25 years is a long time, that’s a lot of research! Can you tell us a bit about the story?

GN: The DEA, FBI, and CIA have failed for years to bring down the Spara family, who control the world’s largest drug cartel. A secret society of spies whose members are under the age of 25 will try to succeed where the government has failed.At only 21 years old, James is the most skillful member of this society. His new target is the Spara family. Through their relationship with Russia, the

At only 21 years old, James is the most skillful member of this society. His new target is the Spara family. Through their relationship with Russia, the Sparas are the largest distributor of heroin in the world.  While beginning his investigation in Russia, James inadvertently saves the life of a former KBG officer who has a connection to the Tan family. This connection leads James farther into the heart of the criminal cartel.  However, the Tans have a dark secret of their own, which could jeopardize James’s perfect record and his tenure as a spy as he struggles to do what is right while protecting his family, friends and the love of his life.

 

George has kindly allowed me to give you a taste of ‘The Life We Lead: Ascending’ ~

Excerpt from Chapter 03

[context:  James and Daen capture Nikolias after Petior has been abducted.]

“You are our prisoner, but you are a captive of whatever group you…” Daen began, but Nikolias cut him off.

“What makes you think I want to leave?” growled Nikolias.

“When you help us, your bosses will not be too happy with you. You and your cousin will need to leave to survive,” replied Daen.

“So he says,” Nikolias said curtly, with a head gesture towards James.

“What did he say? Why did he just do that?” asked James.

“Sounds like he doesn’t feel the need for our help. It seems he doesn’t want to, or have a reason to leave,” Daen replied, a puzzled look on his face.

“I am no traitor, and I will die to help our fraternity and country. I am loyal and believe in things, unlike you American dogs,” Nikolias stated in English.

James bowed his head, closed his eyes, and rubbed his left temple for a moment with his left hand. He dragged it down his face before speaking again.

“Okay, tell us what the fraternity’s cause is. What’s so special about it that you’re willing to risk your life, your cousin’s life, because someone felt I disrespected them near a train?” asked James.

Nikolias laughed. “We know you’re looking for drugs. You feel drugs are not disrespectful and destroying. You think we do not know that is why you are here? We see you peoples, and how you treat us. You all deserve death for your exploits on us, and our children.”

NF: Thank you so much for joining me today George, it has been a real pleasure. If you too have been taken by ‘A Life We Lead: Ascending’ then grab yourself a copy – It will be released on September 26th in all versions. Buy links are below. Here’s wishing you every success.

Check out this trailer for The Life We Lead: Ascending YOUTUBE

About the Author:

George is the 3rd of 6 children and grew up in western Pennsylvania. He earned his BS in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh, his MSc in Biology and his MBA in Marketing and Management from Duquesne University. He is also a Master 5th degree black belt in the art of Taekwondo with Young Brothers in Pittsburgh. He currently in a global marketing and strategy professional in science industries. He also has one son, Matthew.

To connect with George Nagle: Website  Facebook  Twitter  Amazon Author Page  Goodreads Author Page  Smashwords Author Page

 

 

 

 

Friday Feature ~ Duby’s Doctor by Iris Chacon

Today I am really happy to be featuring friend and fellow mystery author Iris Chacon. I am a big fan of Iris’s writing having recently completed another of her novels ‘Finding Miranda‘, a funny heartwarming tale of love and misadventure. Her latest offering ‘Duby’s Doctor’ is quickly making its way to the top of my TBR pile! Welcome Iris, it’s good to have you here. To kick things off  I’m keen to find out where you got your inspiration for Duby’s Doctor?

IC: Duby’s story was inspired by the landscapes, art culture, elaborate mansions, and live-aboard sailboats of Coconut Grove. For years I passed through the magical Grove community on my way to work in the high-rise offices of Miami. The unique aura and ambiance of the Grove always launched my imagination into a happy stratosphere of quirky characters and exotic locations.

NF: Sounds wonderful, and what about Duby, did he stem from anywhere in particular?

IC: Sometimes the girls in my carpool would simply stop in the Grove and watch the panoply of beautiful people (mostly male) passing by. Thus, a secret agent, who lived on a boat and worked undercover in an arms dealer’s mansion, was born. And if he lived in Coconut Grove, he had to be an artsy type, so Agent Yves Dubreau, a/k/a Duby, became a talented sketcher and painter.

NF: I’m loving your work Iris! I’m intrigued to know more, I’m already getting a sense that Duby will find an adventure or two to keep me entertained! Thanks for joining me today and here’s wishing you every success with Duby’s Doctor.

So lovely readers, if Duby’s Doctor is grabbing your attention too read on:

Iris Chacon

When he can steal time away from his undercover assignment (as an arms dealer’s bodyguard), Agent Yves Dubreau jogs with all the other muscular Coconut Grove athletes. He enjoys the morning tai chi group in Peacock Park, and he quietly remains on the fringes of the Grove’s art scene — until he blows his cover and gets himself murdered. When resuscitated, he is a scarred, nameless giant with no memories, no language, and only his drawings with which to communicate. Of course, he still has the same deadly enemies he had in his former life; he just doesn’t know it. Neither does naive, lady surgeon, Dr. Mitchell Oberon. Soon, Duby’s unscrupulous supervisor forces the unsuspecting Mitchell to shelter this recovering “John Doe” in her home and begin teaching him how to live again. Both Duby and Dr. Oberon will learn a lot about living— they just may not be living long. A murderous arms dealer will soon be stalking them.

If you enjoyed this interview with author Iris Chacon tweet about it here

Wow… I love a good murder mystery! Want more? Yep I thought so… Iris has kindly given her permission for me to post a snippet. Feast your eyes… Continue reading “Friday Feature ~ Duby’s Doctor by Iris Chacon”

Wednesday Spotlight ~ U Got to Have U Some Fun by Andrew Harkless

Morning campers! How are you all today? Did your tent stay up overnight? Thinking of upgrading to a cruise? Well, whatever holiday floats your boat (apologises, apologises) you should definitely pack a copy of ‘U Got to Have U Some Fun’ by my guest author Andrew Harkless. Firstly, welcome Andrew.  So, to get the ball rolling please tell us a bit about yourself?

AH: I dropped out of Penn State University at the age of 20 with the deliberate, albeit unorthodox, intention to earn a more practical, street-smart degree studying the human condition through countless bartending positions and extensive travel. That path has been one of sparse means filled with challenging, often horrifying, periods of introspection and no holds barred character studies of everyone with whom I came in contact. From society’s upper echelon, to those whose resumes read like criminal rap sheets, no type of person was off limits. The ultimate goal: arm an innate imagination with enough real-life experiences to eventually be proficient in creating authentic, heartfelt, relatable characters to act out the scenes of my imagination through literary novels.

NF: Wow, that sounds hard work but rewarding. ‘U Got to Have U Some Fun’ is a great title for a book! Can you tell us about the inspiration behind it?

AH: I wanted to take an everyman character anyone could relate with on a sort of middle-aged, coming of age existential journey to discover his true potential.

NF: What a great premise for a book. I note that it’s set on a cruise ship, was this your first choice of setting?

AH: It was absolutely my first choice. While working a wide variety of bartending jobs over 25 years to research people so I could ultimately write novels like this one, I was a bartender for two different cruise lines—RCCL and Hawaiian. Setting this story up as a 7-day vacation aboard a cruise ship also allowed me to create a very interesting and realistic sub-plot pulling the curtain back on what really happens on cruise ships.

NF: I am sure there are many more stories to come from those times…. Can you share with us what inspires you to write?

AH: Everyone has a calling. I am an only child, never married nor had children. I am a natural observer who is quite analytical. I love working for myself. All these traits are conducive to creative writing. As a movie buff, my ultimate goal has always been to have something I write adapted for the big screen.

NF: I agree, I think writers are the best observers. I often think writers would make great spies for that very reason. When you write would you say you are a planner or a panster?

AH: A bit of both. I make a thin outline to start and then it grows and changes as I write

NF: Me too. I love watching a story unfold, there is something magical about uncovering a story for the first time.Which authors do you enjoy reading?

AH: All the classics; contemporary wise. I love John Irving, along with all the usual suspects like: Brown, Grisham, DeMille, Elmore Leonard.

NF: I’m with you on DeMille.Who would you say have been your biggest influences?

AH: I have the best parents. Without them, my dreams would have never had a chance. I used bartending for the past 27 years as my education and as a source of research to write great novels, so I would also say all the people I’ve met on that journey are content sources of influence. And last but not least, without my editor, publisher, business partner, and friend—Debra L Hartmann—this novel would probably never have come to life.

NF: Yes families are so important in shaping and supporting us. Where would we be without having someone fighting our corner? If you could time travel what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

AH: Work hard and buy real estate or stock at a young age so you have the means to afford the luxury of pursuing your dreams later.

NF: Good advice Andrew, I wish I’d have done that… the buying real estate bit! So, what are you currently working on?

AH: A sort of anti-materialistic themed novel. The main character takes a vacation each year to live on the streets with the homeless.

NF: That sounds intriguing. An actor I know is trying to raise money via crowd funding to make a movie about homlessness, it’s a very emotive subject. Thanks so much for joining me today Andrew and I wish you all the best with ‘U Got to Have U Some Fun’ and here’s to all of your future writing adventures.

Just before you go can you answer these quick fire questions? It must be the first thing that pops into your head… OK… Ready…Set…Go..

Favourite type of food?

Pizza

Favourite movie?

Cool Hand Luke, Casablanca, Caddie Shack

Favourite book?

I have two: Canery Row by Steinbeck and Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk

Favourite book character?

John Smith from U Got to Have U Some Fun

Red or yellow?

Yellow

Sweet or savoury?

Spicy

Beginning or End?

The present is a continual beginning.

Favourite city?

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Land or sea?

Land by the sea.

Fact or fiction?

All fiction is fact.

About the Author

Andrew Harkless was born in Orange County, California in 1970, but raised in central Pennsylvania. He currently resides in coastal North Carolina. He has never married nor had children—life-lessons possibly still awaiting him down the road. Many typical luxuries were put on hold for devoting unbridled time to writing with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful literary author along the caliber of his idol, John Irving—inarguably one of the greatest contemporary American storytellers.

Andrew Harkless was born in Orange County, California in 1970, but raised in central Pennsylvania. He currently resides in coastal North Carolina. He has never married nor had children—life-lessons possibly still awaiting him down the road. Many typical luxuries were put on hold for devoting unbridled time to writing with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful literary author along the caliber of his idol, John Irving—inarguably one of the greatest contemporary American storytellers.

U Got to Have U Some Fun is available in both ebook & paperback  right here >>>                                   

To Connect with Andrew Harkless:

Author Website

Facebook

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Saturday Spotlight on The Diabolic Shrimp.

Good morning campers! My oh my, you are in for a treat today! I am very happy to introduce to you fellow author and founder of the website Diabolic Shrimp ~ Joshua Grant. Welcome Josh.

NF ~ So without further ado….  We all want to know how on earth you came up with the name Diabolic Shrimp? It is a very unusual name for a website.. or in fact, for anything?

JG ~ Well, my original name for the site wasn’t actually Diabolic Shrimp.  It was something totally different, but my friends thought it sounded dirty so I quickly changed it (haha!).  Diabolic Shrimp is my motivational joke for myself.  I had this idea of creating a community that empowers and encourages authors to help one another.  The Diabolic is for my diabolic plan to take over the world and get every author to one day join the site.  The Shrimp is because authors are the little guys who are weak all by themselves, but together in a group they’re pretty incredible.  That, and I just like shrimp and I wanted it to sound fun (and not dirty, haha

NF ~ Never thought of myself as a shrimp before, but you are right, we are the little guys.What would you say is the ethos behind Diabolic Shrimp?

JG ~ Ultimately, it’s all about helping people while also helping yourself.  I design everything on Diabolic Shrimp to invite people to support others while also gaining a benefit.  I’ve always had a personal need to serve people, and this is one of the places I think I can do it.

NF ~ I agree the more we can do to help each other the better. So what sorts of things motivate you?

JG ~ Making a difference has always motivated me.  I love to make people laugh so humor is always a motivator.  My mind is always spinning stories too, so making compelling tales to entertain people has always been a big push in my life.  Although, the chief driver in my life has been love.  Falling in love has always been my dream (and then falling in love again).  Food also motivates me too (honestly, I’ll do just about anything for a decent brownie).

NF ~ Ahh yes, I think you would be hard pushed to find anything finer than a jolly good brownie… other than perhaps a good wine… but that’s just me! What inspires you to write?

JG ~ Books, movies and video games are what really inspire me to write.  When I run out of a type of story that interests me, I decide to write something similar with a different twist.  Essentially, boredom drives my creativity.  I’m also a deep thinker and feeler, so I typically combine some genre (horror, sci-fi, fantasy) with a deep moral concept like hope in a hopeless situation and just go from there.  Occasionally I have weird dreams too that actually work their way into my work (my horror novel Pandora is actually partially based on a nightmare I had once

NF ~ Horror and hope sounds like a good combination, your novel Pandora sounds intriguing. I see it has received some great reviews, can you tell us a bit about the book?

Pandora is my first published book.  It’s the first of four horror novels in The Organization series (the others are coming soon). 

In it, a cruise ship goes missing, re-emerging a week later transmitting a single word—Pandora—prompting a Special Forces team to investigate.  I’m kinda a big scaredy cat, so horror isn’t usually my thing, but I grew up loving creature features like Aliens, Resident Evil, and The Thing.  I wanted to create something that had a bunch of action, interesting creatures, hapless heroes, and a sense of claustrophobic dread like those movies and games.  Pandora fulfilled that and allowed me to address some deep moral struggles in the process.  I also love movies, books, and games that have twists, and Pandora was the perfect platform to add plenty of those.

NF ~ I’m shortly going on a cruise, I’ll read Pandora when I come back I think! I love classic horror and this sounds right up my street. Can you tell us a bit about yourself Josh?

I live next to the beautiful Rocky Mountains in the United States.  I’m constantly getting out and being active, but I’m also a huge movie and video game buff.  My least favorite food is peanut butter (which I hate with a passion).  I spend a lot of time working with elementary and middle school youth in a variety of environments.  I have a huge heart for serving kiddos, especially those that struggle with different issues in their life.  You’ll often find me getting friends and family together for laughs and zany fun, but I’m actually kind of an introvert deep down.  I like to go for walks by myself a lot and write a novel now and then.  I’ve also had a pretty out there life, having survived a flash flood, faced down several bears, and sailed a chunk of the ocean as first officer on a small ship.  Sadly, all the aforementioned bears ran from me when I stood up to them and didn’t battle me so I didn’t get a cool man scar like I hoped (but I survived the encounter so that’s much cooler)

Josh Grant

NF ~ The Rocky Mountains are on my bucket list, what a wonderful place to live and work. I admire you for working with kids, it can be so rewarding but so challenging too I would imagine. You must be very patient. Ok.. A flash flood, faced down several bears and been first officer on a small ship ????? I think there is a whole other blog post right there! What / who would you say are your biggest influences?

JG ~ As far as my writing, Resident Evil, Aliens, The Thing, Final Fantasy, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Giver, and authors like S.D. Perry and Dean Koontz really inspired me to write.  In my personal life, people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Elon Musk have inspired me to work hard with a deeper moral purpose.  God is always a central part of my life in everything I do.  And one of the most surprising sources of influence in my life is actually the kids I work with.  They’re actually very uplifting and make me be the best person I can be.  They’ll also be blatantly honest which is sometimes useful.

NF ~ Yes, kids will always tell you it as it is, no sugar coating required. What are you currently working on?

JG ~ I’m currently hard at work polishing up the rough draft of Jericho (the second book in The Organization series).  I’m really enjoying it, but it still needs a lot of work since it’s very complicated on the emotional side of things.  I hope to get started soon on Silly Tales from Albanon, my funny collection of unrelated fantasy stories that all build toward a crazy twist.

Thanks so much for joining me today Josh,  and good luck with Pandora and polishing up Jericho. Just be careful if you encounter any more bears OK? Before you leave us can you give us some quick fire answers to the following questions? It must be the first thing that pops into your head… Ready…Get Set… Go..

Favourite type of food?

Chicken in all its various forms

Favourite movie?

Star Wars

Favourite book?

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief

Favourite book character?

Percy Jackson

Red or yellow?

Red (ew yellow)

Sweet or savoury?

Sweet

Beginning or End?

Beginning

Favourite city?

Colorado Springs

Land or sea?

Oh, toughy!  Sea (when I’m not seasick)

Fact or fiction?

Fiction

Thanks Josh, it’s been a pleasure having you here today. To find out more about Josh and Diabolic Shrimp click here

 

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

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Goodreads