Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Review & Interview - Reaching For The Stars by Janice Horton

Janice's "pink palace"
AKA Drumlanrig Castle
I'm delighted today to be joined by the wonderful novelist Janice Horton who has recently launched her new book Reaching For The Stars (review below) but as a queen of descriptions, I wanted to ask Janice exactly how she manages to conjure up the most fantastic of venues in her novels. 
Hi Janice, before I throw my questions at you, please let me congratulate you on your latest book Reaching For The Stars.  I hope it's a huge success.  In it celebrity chef Finn McDuff takes off to a castle in the hidden depths of Scotland. Did you have a particular place in mind that you based the castle upon and why?

Thanks so much Kim and thanks so much for having me with you today. 

In Scotland, where I live, we have quite a few castles around us. Most are romantic ruins but there is one magnificent castle built of pink sandstone, known locally as ‘the pink palace’ which was in my mind while I was writing ‘Reaching for the Stars’. It is exactly the sort of castle to be my fictional Craigmuir Castle - and a splendid focal point of a traditional Scottish Estate.

In Bagpipes and Bullshot, the main characters lived in an old country estate. Again, did you base this on anywhere in particular and if so why?

Yes, I did base my ideas for the setting in Bagpipes & Bullshot on the Scottish country estate where I live. The fictional Buchanan Estate is much smaller than the mighty estate surrounding my cottage, but it did inspire my descriptions in the story. The fictional village of Thornfield is actually my local village of Thornhill. I must emphasis though, although I love to describe the beautiful places that surround me every day, I have never used real people in my books and all my characters are entirely made up.

What is it is about these big old traditional places that you love the most and brings out the descriptions in your writing?

When I start to write, it is always the human characters that come first but once I know who they are and what the story will be about, I need conflicts for them to overcome. The most important conflict is the emotional one - what does this character need and how will they get it? Then comes the objects in their path. These objects, or conflicts, can be emotional and they can also be physical. In Bagpipes & Bullshot for example, the cold old rundown house provides many problems. In Reaching for the Stars, the castle that has become our media shy chef’s garret suddenly becomes the setting for a huge social event and then becomes his challenge.  So, you see, big old traditional places are important in my books not just as settings but as both characters and conflicts anchoring the story.

What sort of home do you live in? Is there a particular place in your home that makes you feel creative enough to write, or can you write anywhere?
For over twenty years I have lived in an isolated old shepherd’s cottage. We bought it derelict from the local Estate and have improved and extended it over the years to accommodate our family. I’m originally a city girl who dreamed of living a country lifestyle and so living here has been like living a dream. I’m a bit of a romantic at heart and that romance filters through my dreams, my ideals, my life, and ultimately my books. I can’t help it - living here makes me want to set my novels here - as I find the mists, the scenery and the land based lifestyle, totally intoxicating and romantic.

Thanks so much for sharing that with your readers Janice.  Lovely to know a little more about where your ideas come from.  Just be careful, now we know where you live, we may descend upon you for a weekend in what sounds like an idyllic haven of peace and tranquility!  Well - till we get there anyway!

Here's a little more about Reaching The Stars and what I thought of it. 

Well, she only went and flipping did it again!  Janice has not disappointed me at all with another delightfully charming novel.

A fabulous tale of gorgeous celebrity chef Finn McDuff who wouldn’t let anything get in the way of him achieving his 3 stars – the highest accolade in his world, and Raine a journalist who always promised herself that she would write with integrity and respect for her subjects.  It’s a bumpy ride for both of them, as Finn uses Raine’s empathic reporting style to try to woo back his third wife who has finally had enough and left him, and Raine uses this story to win a position with a top paper and has many fights with her rival to get there. 

When Finn realises that his life has changed and that he would have to give up things to get his wife back, he escapes the limelight and hides himself away from the world much to the interest of Raine's rival who starts a countrywide campaign to find him.   But who will find him first? Where is he and what is the real reason that they want to find him?

I love the way that Janice writes.  Her words flow so easily from page to page and her descriptions make the whole story come to life. You are whisked away to a part of Scotland where you feel you’ve always known and get so involved with the story that you feel that you are playing a star role in the book. 

You are left desperate to find out where the plot is going, and certainly in this case, left hanging on right to the very end with twists and turns along the way but also with a great deal of humour which again makes the read so enjoyable.  And there's always a great deal of romance thrown in as well as a gorgous leading man and a beautiful leading lady, both of with which you fall in love with and would love to know in real life.  She is a charming novelist and can’t write quickly enough for me. 

About the author: Janice lives in Scotland and writes romantic novels with humour which are, for the most part, inspired by the beauty of the heather-filled glens around her country cottage. When Janice is not writing novels, she write lifestyle articles and has had work published in national and international magazines and regional newspapers. She edits The Review Chair for the innovative reader/writer website loveahappyending.com and is also the bestselling author of the humorous romance ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot’.

Reaching for the Stars is available for your Kindle now at the special launch price of just 95p /£1.40
Buy from Amazon UK
Buy from Amazon US

Janice is a www.loveahappyending.com author
Follow her on Twitter @JaniceHorton 
Facebook Author Page: http://on.fb.me/nbaWed


Linn B Halton and Lucy Coleman said...

Fabulous review Kim - and love Janice's Chef McDuff! Makes me feel like having a holiday .... and heading for bonnie Scotland!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, always lovely to get the insights... and fab review. I'm thirty percent through Reaching for the Stars and loving it! Well done Janice, and great review Kim. Woohoo!

Sue Fortin said...

Great interview - I feel very drawn to Scotland and of course to Chef McDuff.

Anonymous said...

Great review, Kim. Janice has certainly cooked up a good book and just love her locations.
Thank you both for a good blog and a good read.

Melanie said...

Great interview, ladies. And even better review, Kim!

I love Scotland and Janice's descriptions of the beautiful countryside transport me there. Not quite as good as being there, but it's the next best thing.

Kim The Book Worm said...

Hi all, thanks for joining us today. It looks like I'll be organising a coach party Janice, hope that's ok.

Mandy said...

Lovely interview and having just read Bagpipes and Bullshot I am pleased to hear the village is real!! I wish you loads of success with your latest novel Janice! xxx

Janice said...

I can hardly begin to tell you how thrilled I am with Kim's review.

It's a writer's dream to be able to transport people into their fictional world with words and when Kim says 'you are whisked away' and 'feel like you are playing a star role in the book' I was so excited - and I have to say a tad emotional!

So thank you very much everyone for the lovely comments, and Kim, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for not only reading and reviewing Reaching for the Stars but for being a fabulous host and for loving the story.

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy Hogmanay!

Love, Janice xx

Rosemary Gemmell said...

That's a lovely review and interview! As a Scot (living in a different part of Scotland) I adore Janice's writing and descriptions.

Anonymous said...

Another great review for Janice. I love her books, not only because of their settings in my favourite place, but also because of the way Janice writes so beautifully. A must read for anyone.

CJ x

Gwen Kirkwood said...

Yes, I do read the blogs sometimes, Janice and I can see why you ar so delighted with this review. It is a super Christmas present.
Here's wishing you lots more sales in 2012.

Henriette said...

Excellent review of Reaching for the Stars. There are some great titles out on Kindle, and this is one I'm very keen to read (still waiting for that Kindle, but Christmas is nearly upon us...)