Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Upcoming Reviews

"Children of Hagar" by N J Evans is a great read so far.  The first in a supernatural detective series, and I'm looking forward to reading more. 

Maggie Wilson contacted me last night and invited me to review her first novel "Fallen Angel".  The customer reviews on Amazon are excellent and the description of the book sounds like its going to be a riveting read.    I'm looking forward to the postman making his next delivery!

Theresa Cheung has also invited me to review a few books to review.  Love reading her Angel books, right up my street and I actually had an angel tale of my own which she published in one of her books.  "An Angel Changed my Life", "An Angel Spoke to Me" and "How to See Your Angels" are all calling to me!

Can't wait to read these books and post my reviews.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Interview with Milly Johnson

I'm so lucky that Milly Johnson has also agreed to do an interview for my blog.  Milly is the lady who through reading her books, taught me that anything is possible and that if you really want to do something, you should just go ahead and do it! She made me value myself and my beliefs!

Thanks to Milly for such inspiration and motivation and for your help and support.  I can't wait for the latest book "Here Come The Girls" to land on my doorstep, as when I read Milly's first book, I went out, bought all her others and read them all back to back.  I didn't get a thing done for days!  Her books show that she puts her heart and soul into writing them creating amazingly real characters and situations that you can genuinely imagine yourself in.  Find out more about this fabulous writer at

At what age did you decide you wanted to be an author and who inspired you most to do it?
I can’t remember a time before writing books and wanting to be an author.  I’ve always loved reading books and wanting to write my own.  I was a huge Catherine Cookson fan and loved how she wrote about the people in her county, so you could say she was a massive influence on me.  Nearer to home, I had the most wonderful English teacher called Kate Taylor and she brought literature alive for me.  She made it so interesting and exciting and I used to leave her classes on a real high.

How did you feel when your first book was published?
When I landed my first book deal I sat on the stairs and cried with relief and happiness – and a little bit of disbelief.  Next to seeing my two sons for the first time, it was the most emotional moment of my life.  I didn’t think anything could top it – but it got even better with the following books.  I hope I never get blasé about the feeling of seeing another of my books published.
Are your characters based upon real people or are they completely fictional?
A few are completely fictional, some are based very loosely on real people however,  they have a tendency to become rather diva-ish and become their own personalities by the end of the book.  I don’t ‘clone’ a real person for a story – tempting as it might be in some cases, I’d hate to get sued!
How do you carry out your research?
I use the internet a lot, talk to people in the know – in fact I’m always consulting doctors, hospitals, solicitors, bee keepers – even soldiers and priests.  It was an interesting moment asking a priest what he would advise if someone came to his confessional box and told him they’d been pricking holes in condoms!  Sloppy research can totally alienate a reader – I always make sure that where I’m writing about something I know nothing about, I learn.
Where do you write most and what is it about that place that inspires you to write?
I nicked one of the bedrooms in my house and use that as an office.  It’s a lovely square room, just the perfect size and my desk is huge and battered and old and I adore it.  The cat sits in the window at the side of me, the dog sleeps in the doorway.  It’s just a lovely, friendly room that I can spread out in.
Who do you look up to?
My dad.  He is the most reliable, honest, hard-working man I know.  He instilled in me strong family values, loyalty and a damned good work ethic.
What book are you reading right now?Alan Carr’s autobiography – ‘Look Who It Is’.  It’s making me laugh out loud.
Who are your favourite authors?
Sophie Hannah, Mo Hayder, Lynda La Plante, Nicci French, Sue Welfare, Charlaine Harris, Charlotte Bronte, Agatha Christie... there are so many more, but these are the first that came to mind.
After Here Come The Girls, what’s next for you?
I’m releasing two books a year for the foreseeable future.  Autumn Crush will be released in September, then there will be two releases next year, including the Winter book of the series.  I also do some broadcasting for the BBC and column writing for local newspapers.  I’m penning a sitcom, and a joke book, doing after dinner speaking and will be involved as consultant in the process when The Yorkshire Pudding Club is made into a film.  And I like to keep my hand in writing copy for greetings cards too, I like to ‘chase a cheque’ to keep me on my toes.  Exciting and busy times for me but I always make sure that I have plenty of time with my sons as well as work.  They’re growing up too fast!
Your characters are so real and we get to feel their emotions as if they were our own.  How do you manage to create your characters so well?
What a lovely compliment. And I don’t really know!  I’m an emotional person, I just draw on that and try and make my characters speak and act as real people would in given circumstances.  I imagine myself in conversations with them.  By the end of the book, I feel as if I have almost created real people and experience a sense of loss when I have finished writing about them.  That’s why it was such a joy in Summer Fling to bring the ladies of The Yorkshire Pudding Club back.  It was like being reunited with old friends.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Mothers and Daughters by Kate Long

Mothers and Daughters by Kate Long had me riding a rollercoaster of emotions. 

Carol, a doting grandmother, who spent her life suffering with her unfaithful husband Phil, so that her difficult daughter Jaz can grow up in a proper family, finds herself in the dreadful position where her daughter discovers her husband Ian has slept with someone else.  Carol helps out massively with looking after her grandson Matty so that Jaz can focus her mind on what she should do. 

Jaz, hurt and disillusioned that all men are philandering swines immediately cuts Ian off from their son but Carol feels that Ian might take drastic action if he doesn’t get to see his son, so allows Ian to spend time with Matty at her house.  When Jaz discovers this further deceit from a member of her family, she tells Carol that she will never see Matty again, and disappears off the face of the earth.  Carol spends time with Ian’s handsome and caring father trying to find them both, and is also aided by ex-husband Phil – are you still with me?   Phil wants Carol to try again with him and David also wants to start a relationship with her, but with her mind full of unease and anxiety about her daughter and grandson she hasn’t a clue which way to turn. 

Don’t want to spoil the end, and I’m going to leave you to find out who Carol chooses and whether she finds Jaz and Matty, and whether Jaz and Ian rekindle their marriage.  You’ll have to read it yourself to find out if there was a happy ending. 

A fabulous read which I thoroughly enjoyed.    Totally lost in the emotions of each of the characters, one minute I felt I was Jaz feeling her pain and sorrow at the breakdown of what she thought was a rock solid marriage, and then I felt I was Carol, feeling the overwhelming love for her grandson and the sorrow and loss she felt when Jaz took him away.

Thank you to Kate Long for creating these fabulous characters in this superb tale of love and loss.   Can’t wait to read more of your books. 

Friday, 18 March 2011

Interview with Kate Long

I'm delighted that the wonderfully talented Kate Long has agreed to be interviewed for my little old blog.  I'd like to say a massive thank you to Kate for supporting me.  I'm so enjoying reading Mothers and Daughters and am being very anti social reading at every possibly chance I get, trying to find out what happens in the end.  My review will be online very very soon!

Kate is the author of the Number One bestseller The Bad Mother's Handbook, Swallowing Grandma, Queen Mum and the Daughter's Game.  Kate was born and raised in Lancashire and lives with her husband and two sons in Whitchurch in Shropshire.  You can visit Kate's website

At what age did you decide you wanted to be an author and who inspired you most to do it?
I always liked the idea of being a writer but never imagined someone from my very ordinary background could get a novel published. However, my mum instilled in me a love of books and literature from when I was an infant, and all writers begin, I think, as voracious readers.

How did you feel when your first book was published?An equal mix of tremendous pride, fear and elation. Much as I felt the first time I became a mother, in fact.        

How on earth did you feel when you knew your book was going to be made into a TV series? Did you ever imagine it happening?

I tried hard not to get too excited about the tv project because it was drummed into me by everyone I met how rare it is for scripts actually to make it to screen. During the film-making process there is a long series of hurdles to overcome, none of them within the writer’s control. So you just have to keep optimistic and delivering the drafts and re-drafts you’re asked to. Being able to go on set and watch the actors reading lines that I’d written was pretty thrilling, though. It was a particular buzz to meet Anne Reid, Catherine Tate and Steve Pemberton. I still kick myself for not getting Rob Pattinson’s autograph!

What advice would you give to someone such as Jaz in Mothers & Daughters, whose husband had "strayed" but they had a young child?

It’s a situation I’ve never encountered in my own life, even among my friends, so I wouldn’t presume to offer any advice on how to move forward with a marriage/divorce in such circumstances. There are so many variables: every case is different and so much depends on context. The advice I would offer Jaz, though, is to appreciate her mum more and stop behaving generally like a spoilt brat! Jaz’s mum is the best friend she has, yet she can’t see that. She’s too absorbed in her own pain and drama to acknowledge anyone else’s.
Are your characters based upon real characters or are they completely fictional?
I take single incidents and occasionally individual character traits from real life, eg some of Nan’s anecdotes in The Bad Mother’s Handbook are based on stories my own grandma told me. The man in Queen Mum who wears “tusks” of tissue up his nostrils was someone I spotted at a B&B years ago, and in the novel I’ve just finished, the middle-aged mother figure is obsessed with water voles in the same way I am. But she isn’t me.

Mothers and Daughters is a slightly special case in that disabled baby Callum is meant as a kind of tribute to my friend’s beautiful daughter Willow, who was born with CHARGE syndrome.

Your characters are so real and we get to feel their emotions as if they were our own.   How do you manage to create your characters so well?
Consuming vast quantities of fiction helps, because novels enable you to live so many other people’s lives alongside your own (necessarily) limited experience. I also read a lot of true-life women’s magazines. When it comes to fleshing out my own characters, I have a set of fifty “interview questions” I answer on their behalf before I begin writing the novel, and I sometimes cut out magazine pictures to help me focus on their physical characteristics. Probably the majority of the background information I generate this way never gets used, but that doesn’t matter; it makes me feel more confident about how each person will speak and act, which is the important thing,

How do you carry out your research?
I approach people by email, or interview them face to face. Sometimes I draw a blank – not everyone has the time to get involved, and it’s possible too that some of the recipients of my email inquiries think I’m a wind-up merchant, or mad. There’s also a lot of information out there on the net just for the taking: in that sense, life for authors has never been easier.

Where do you write most and what is it about that place that inspires you to write?
I write in our front room, amid all sorts of chaos. For a while last year my husband was very ill and had his bed and wheelchair in here. Now the room houses his rowing machine. Previously it was a spill-over area for the children’s toys. There’s nothing inspirational about my desk, it’s just a workspace I have to fight the rest of the family for.

Who do you look up to?
Writer-wise? Too many almost to count. I’m continually humbled by what other writers achieve – this one’s control of narrative pace, that one’s use of description, the inventiveness of language or subtlety of tone. A brilliant piece of writing is like a blast of cold air. It can inject vigour into my own work, even if that work is a completely different style.

What book are you reading right now?
I’m reading Someone Else’s Son by Sam Hayes (my breakfast book), Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (my bedtime book), and listening in the car to the unabridged audio of Val McDermid’s Trick of the Dark. After my husband’s terrible motorbike accident last year I found I couldn’t read at all, I couldn’t engage my brain to the task. But he recovered, thank God, and Emma Donoghue’s Room got my reading self back on track.

Who are your favourite authors?
We’ll be here all day and night as well if I list the lot, so I’ll just give you seven off the top of my head: Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Kate Atkinson, Sophie Hannah, Liz Jensen, Nick Hornby, Alan Garner.

What’s next for you?
I’ve just finished my sixth novel, which will be out next year, and tells the story of a twentysomething who’s grown up with two mothers. And I’m currently about ten thousand words into a sequel to The Bad Mother’s Handbook, written in direct response to a raft of email requests from readers. So many people were asking what Charlotte, Nan and Karen got up to afterwards and I thought, Well, I know the answer – why don’t I write it down?


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Share your desert island reads

If you were stranded alone on a desert island, what books would you love to have as company and why?

Some of my favourites are : 
  • A Spring Affair by Milly Johnson – this fabulous book about clutter clearing is one of the most inspiring books I think I ever read!
  • Let’s Meet on Platform 8 by Carole Matthews – made me laugh, made me cry – what a great read!
  • The Trials of Tiffany Trott by Isabel Wolff – this was hilarious, so many laugh out loud moments which got me some very strange looks while lying on my sunbed around the pool!
  • The Lake House by James Patterson – the first book I ever read of his, it was amazing, unusual, unexpected – made me read every other book he’s ever written. 
  • Fish! By various writers – all about boosting morale and improving results, a great motivating read for self help and to pass on the secrets to your colleagues.
These are just a small selection of the most memorable of the millions of books I've read over the last few years.  Why don't you share with me, what your desert island reads would be?

Under Review

Right now I'm trying to get my three year old to have an afternoon nap so that I can carry on reading Kate Long's Mothers & Daughters which I am really getting stuck into.   Really enjoying it so far, watch out for the review to follow shortly . . . . .

Sunday, 6 March 2011

What's on your bedside table?

OK folks, here's a question for you.  Personally, I think you can tell a lot from the type of books that people read.  So, let's learn about you when you tell us, what's on your bedside table right now? 

What do you enjoy reading before you go to sleep? 

Are you a gritty thriller fan, or a closet romantic Mills & Boon reader? Do you love to delve into the dark secrets of an autobiography or are you into an amusing and realistic chick lit book?  You may be into inspiring, motivational self-help books or historical classic fiction.

So, come on, share your passion with us – what are you reading right now?