Lovely to be joined today by Laura James author of Follow Me, Follow You. I'm so looking forward to reading this. Thanks for popping along to the blog today. Over to you Laura!
Hi Kim, Thank you so much for inviting me here today. It’s wonderful to get out and about and meet new people and chat about my second novel for Choc Lit, Follow Me, Follow You.
In some ways, I’m a little like Victoria Noble, the heroine in the book. I have times when I like to retreat into a different world. In my younger days that was my bedroom, where I sat for hours creating new inventions like the door alarm nose-tickler. This was quite an intricate set-up which alerted me to my bedroom door being opened. By connecting together string, card and a green feather, possibly from my mum’s dusting stick, and then tying theend of the string to the door handle, I knew when my door was being tampered with. If I was lying on my bed with my eyes closed and the feather brushed my nose, I had visitors. The fact I could hear them was neither here nor there …
If I wasn’t indulging my stationery needs, making posters on the giant A1 pads, or lining my felt-tip pens up in colour sequence, I listened to music, and poured over the lyric sheets that came with the albums. I analysed the words and meanings behind songs and picked out my favourite lines. I’m a big fan of the rhyming couplet.
On other occasions, I sat in my cosy red chair and read. I was taking A Level English and A Level Theatre Studies, so I had plenty of available books. I recall my English teacher’s enthusiasm for The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale, part of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Without her obvious love for the book, I think I would have struggled, but enthusiasm translates into every language and this book has stayed with me.
In my late teens, I bought an Atari PC. It came with a floppy disc drive and a dot matrix printer. I was in heaven. Not only could I mess about playing text-based adventure games, I could type and print out the poems I’d started writing ‒ poems inspired by books and lyrics I’d spent days analysing.
Unlike Victoria Noble, I’m not a computer whizz. I managed to write one very basic adventure game which used ‘Go to’ instructions, but that was the peak of my programming career. In 1996, I married an IT engineer. I’ve got IT covered.
Today, my equivalent of sitting at my Atari in my bedroom is working at my desk in the kitchen, writing novels and short stories. I no longer make large contraptions out of wool and sticky tape, but the creating bug is still with me. For the book launch of Follow Me, Follow You, my family and I made loom bands with book charms. The four of us sat at the kitchen table, cutting, gluing and weaving, putting together fifty bracelets as fun giveaways.
And my retreat still takes the form of a good book. Stories take me all over the world,send me time-travelling, put me in the middle of a grand adventure with my children, make me fall in love hundreds of times, and allow me to experience a gamut of highly-chargedemotions, all from the comfort and safety of my sofa.
I think I’ve just realised why the word treat is part of retreat.
What’s your ‘Go to’ place or activity you see as your retreat?
You save me and I'll save you...
Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance.
Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria's first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he's desperate to escape.
But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria is as strong as when he was nineteen, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on?
With the risk of them breaking, will either #follow their heart?
Victoria was attempting to create the impression she was engrossed in her work. From the moment Dan collected Seth, she’d buried her head in buff-coloured files, raising it once to study her monitor. At that moment, she realised Juliette was watching her.
‘I’m all right, Joo, honestly.’ That was a lie. She was preoccupied with thoughts of Chris Frampton returning home, considering ways to stop EweSpeak’s Board of Directors from travelling a destructive path, and despairing over her non-existent relationship with her son. She grimaced. ‘Apart from the blinding headache.’
She thrust herself away from the desk and rubbed the back of her neck. Her life was too cluttered for her to make informed decisions, and too many demands were being made of her, emotionally and physically. Something had to give. ‘I could do without this stupid business with the board.’
‘Do you think they’ll go ahead?’
Victoria huffed. ‘Of course they will. They’re motivated by money. They’ll do whatever it takes to keep their bank accounts full and their fat backsides comfortable.’
‘But they have a duty of loyalty, and their report states the move will secure the future of EweSpeak—’
‘It only secures their position, Juliette. Let’s face facts. We made bad choices, electing certain members to the board. We were blinded by their past successes. They’re cut-throat businessmen with reputations to uphold.’ Victoria swung her chair round and gaped at her sister. ‘I’ll bet a year’s salary there’ll be redundancies.’
‘But if charging clients to join will increase profits—’
Victoria cut her off again. ‘Did you miss the bit where they proposed paying celebrities for exclusive bleats? It’s ridiculous. It won’t work. People will opt out. Our followers enjoy the personal contact, the chance to hold a discussion with like-minded souls, maybe even exchange a bleat with their idol. If it’s sensationalism they want, they’ll buy a glossy magazine, or worse, they’ll flock to our competitors. They won’t subscribe to our network.’ She shook her head. ‘It has disaster written all over it.’
‘I don’t see it. The board’s acting in the company’s best interest. We have to make money. And it’s not just their pockets they’re lining, is it?’ Juliette waved a hand in the direction of the window. ‘I don’t hear you complaining about the flashy, two-seater sports car you’ve parked in our private garage.’
Victoria reached for the remote on her desk, and switched on the TV. ‘I need a break.’ She stood, gave her arms a stretch, and walked across to the sofa, collapsing into it, irascible and frustrated. Surely Juliette wasn’t voting with the board? Victoria cast her eyes to the large screen, scoured through the programme guide, and settled on a news channel.
It was a mistake.
Wherever her eyes fell – the TV, online, mobile applications – Chris’s then thirty-five-year-old haunted face appeared, vacant, pale and broken. There was no escape from the dated footage of him being jostled out of the way of bloodthirsty, aggressive photographers or being hustled into his ranch house by burly security men. Victoria had seen the images thirty, maybe forty times in the last couple of years. Every piece of technology in her office was broadcasting his grief all over again, and each time his name was typed, bleated, or beamed across the Internet, and for every second his tormented features were on public display, Victoria was on trial. Her technology, the company, the brand she had developed and grown was helping prolong his terror. To see this beautiful man reduced to a floorshow for the cheap seats made her sick to the stomach.
She jumped at a touch to her arm.
‘Are you okay?’ Juliette took the remote from Victoria, switched off the TV, and sat down. ‘I’m sorry I called him your obsession. This must be hard for you.’
Victoria shrugged. Although she understood Juliette’s concern, she didn’t appreciate intrusion, and sharing, as her sister called it, was not Victoria’s way. There’d been far too much of that already. A small shudder ran through her. ‘It’s complicated,’ she said, hoping a few words, regardless of content, would appease Juliette.
Here's the book trailer.
Laura is married and has two children. She lives in Dorset, but spent her formative years in Watford, a brief train ride away from the bright lights of London. Here she indulged her love of live music, and, following a spectacular Stevie Nicks gig, decided to take up singing, a passion that scored her second place in a national competition.
Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, and an editor of the popular Romaniacsblog.
Laura was runner-up twice in the Choc Lit Short Story competitions. Her story Bitter Sweetappears in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Anthology. Truth or Dare?, Laura’s debut novel, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Romantic eBook 2013 and the 2014 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award. Follow me, follow you is Laura’s first Choc Lit novel published in paperback.