Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Darling Blue by @AuthorTracyRees @QuercusBooks #NewRelease #Historical #1920s

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Darling Blue by Tracy Rees
Review to follow
Synopsis:

A sweeping tale of love in the 1920s and a powerful story of reinvention, Darling Blue is a simply gorgeous read…

Blue lives a charmed life. From her family’s townhouse in Richmond, she lives a life of luxury and couldn’t want for anything – well, on the surface at least.

Then on the night of her twenty-first birthday her father makes a startling toast: he will give his daughter’s hand to whichever man can capture her heart best in the form of a love letter. But Blue has other ideas and, unwilling to play at her father’s bewildering games, she sets out on her own path to find her own destiny…

Extract:

Chapter One

All through that shimmering riverside summer of 1925 there seemed to be only one question on everybody’s lips: who was Blue Camberwell going to marry? ‘Jolly well everybody wants to know!’ squealed Juno Forrester in the Richmond Gazette. Blue dropped the newspaper onto a side table and rested her brow against the window. The lawn was abuzz with preparations for her twenty-first birthday party. Waiters were lining up diamond-bright champagne glasses on long tables spread with white tablecloths smooth as icing. Servants hired for the evening perched on ladders, stringing fairy lights through the trees and looping ribbons from trellis to trellis. In the summerhouse, Midge was carefully positioning a gramophone in readiness for the half hours when the jazz quartet would take a breather. Blue’s father was nowhere to be seen. Unable to resist what she knew to be a depressing impulse, Blue picked up the article again.
Could that question be answered tonight, at her comingof- age party? Nothing confirmed, remember! But it is a special occasion, and at least three gentlemen of my acquaintance are head over heels with the young lady.

Three? In love? It was news to Blue.

Whether or not an engagement is announced, this promises to be the party of the year. The guest list includes some of our most distinguished neighbours and yours truly has been privileged with an invitation which I’m clutching in my little paws right now (coloured nail polish – naturally). Dear readers, I promise you a full and faithful account tomorrow. But for now, must dash – time to get my glad rags on!

With a low growl, she dropped the Gazette into the wastepaper basket – a gesture only, since Midge would certainly fish it out later and paste the article into her scrapbook. Blue was used to having her life described in extravagant terms: beautiful Blue and her charmed life; beautiful Blue who lived in a castle with her handsome father, her virtuous stepmother and the elf in the garden . . . She was blessed, that she knew, but life was never just one thing nor the other, not for anyone. As for ‘jolly well everybody’ – they would have to face disappointment. They wouldn’t learn who Blue was going to marry for one simple reason – she didn’t know herself. Blue was far more preoccupied by how she could achieve her dream of becoming a writer than she was by thoughts of romance. But that didn’t make good gossip.

TR
Tracy Rees
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost The Golden Orphans by @GaryRaymond_ #Psychological #Thriller #Cyprus @ParthianBooks @damppebbles

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The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond
Synopsis:

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.

Guest Post:

Gary Raymond explains how the ghost of Graham Greene helped him write his new literary thriller based on the island of Cyprus.

In June of 2006, just a few weeks after being made redundant from a job I hated, I found myself in Cyprus working in a beach bar for my cousin just outside of Ayia Napa. Back then Ayia Napa was notorious, so the “outside of Ayia Napa” bit is important – I was in essence placed at the outskirts of something, which is of course the correct positioning for a writer. In my twenties, the decade of my life I was in back then, I had a habit of cropping up in places I really had no right to be in. A casual biographer, which would surely be the only one I’d ever earn, might mistake me for some kind of adventurer, but I was always more motivated by the idea – a very simple idea – that going places meant opportunities to gather stories. Whether they ever ended up being written down or not, I was on the move to soak up characters and scenarios and dramas and comedies. But I also knew that where I might be modestly “cropping up”, there was a certain Graham Greene element to it.
In Cyprus I read, for the first time, Greene’s The Power and the Glory, his great rumination on faith and martyrdom all wrapped up in the dust and heat of a chase narrative. Before this book I had been led to believe, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, that literature was a serious business. To read is to gorge on the riches of the human experience, but to write – well this is no laughing matter – it is toil and torment and a thankless task at that. To borrow Angela Carter’s analysis on this subject – “the British put up a strong resistance to the idea that pleasurability might be a valid criterion in the response to literature, just as we remain dubious about the value of the decorative in the visual art”. I may be Welsh, but in so far as my reading habits and my understanding of literature, I was brought up British, with a British education demanding an understanding of a British context and British temperament. I discovered I had been just as under the influence of the Leavisite idea of eating up your broccoli as the rest of Christendom. You see one thing I was never told as a writer – and I am a glutton when it comes ideas about the craft – is that you can, if you really must, have fun.
It was quite the sea change for me. There was a week in Cyprus where an ex-pat couple asked if I’d look after their house while they visited home for a funeral – and I spent that time sitting on a veranda readings books set in hot climates, picking oranges from the tree just arms length from my chair – I read The Power and the Glory a few times over that week. A book that spoke to me about things I wanted to see discussed, and it also kept me turning the page, the action careered forward, every chapter perfectly poised to slip me into the next. It was a revelation.
I’d like to say I saw an affiliation with Greene, but that would be stretching it – his life was perhaps one of the most intriguing in modern literary history and I was basically a penniless hanger on, and not an MI6 agent masquerading as a journalist. The things that Greene was whispering to me back then, however, were not so easily deciphered, and it took another ten years and another two books for me to come back to him and see what I’d been left. I was not, you see, Oxford educated, and was never likely to be courted by MI6, and I was not as focussed or as talented a writer, and well it was a different time – we’d had punk, devolution (in Wales), and I’d frankly spent too much time reading the Americans – Greene would not have approved. But I had one thing important to an affiliation with Greene, in that I was “cropping up”.
Most of the characters in The Golden Orphans are based on real people I met in those six months I was out there. The only question for me, it turned out, was whether I wrote the story of what happened to me while I was out there – or whether I took what I saw and wrote something more fun, more compelling, and more “made up”. As I said, it took another 10 years to get to that, but get to it I did.
I’m not going to try and describe the murkiness of Cyprus to you – that’s what The Golden Orphans tries to do – but suffice it to say it is perhaps strikingly Greenian in its murkiness, in its ability to attract rogues and misfits. Cyprus is quite well-known for how attractive it has been over the years to Russian ne’er-do-wells, but it is also worth noting here the Lebanese pimp, the Egyptian cigarette smuggler, the Greek wideboys and shifty Israelis I met who didn’t make it into the book. There is something of the melting pot about the island, and exactly the sort of place you would have expected to see Greene.
In the end, I think it was Greene who showed me how to write about Cyprus. As a writer you never stop learning from others, but that was a bit of a bombshell.

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Gary Raymond
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Dark Place by @steph2rogers1 #NewRelease #Psychological #Thriller #DebutAuthor @BooksManatee #TheDarkPlace ‘Prepare for an intense read 5*’

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The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers
Review Copy
Synopsis:

When you look at those you love, what do you see?

When Issy, young mother and beloved daughter, seemingly kills herself her family is devastated.

Believing she would never leave son Noah willingly, Jon and Mel determine to discover what really happened to Issy. As they and the rest of the family struggle to come to terms with tragedy, Jon and Mel start to realise Issy’s secrets come from a very dark place…

My Review:

‘Faceless and desolate, like her. Lost’
The Dark Place is a family psychological thriller (in my opinion). It revolves around the family of 18yr old Issy after she ends her life by suicide. Her parents Jon and Mel are on a desperate path to understand her motives and why she would abandon her young son Noah (3yrs). I felt as if I was with the couple on their journey into #TheDarkPlace. . .

The method of Issy’s suicide is fully explored within the narrative, and the parents although at first in denial; eventually come to understand it was an intentional act. PC Dawson and PC Carter are called to the parent’s residence to explain. Mel as Issy’s mother is not only devastated, she is mentally broken by the news…..
‘For the next twenty four hours I can’t remember anything else, other than wishing it was me who was dead’ – Mel

When Jon goes to the police station to identify Issy’s body he notices scars of self-harm. It is then that it dawns on him that his daughter was in deep emotional and psychological pain. At first, he responds with anger and rage as the pain and grief consume him. I felt this was an accurate description of the stages of grief.
‘In my chest, where a warm human heart used to be, now sits a stone-cold lump of concrete’ – Jon

Mel and Jon do their best to hold their emotions together for Issy’s young son Noah. But they are still unaware of the child’s biological father and this adds another layer of mystery to Issy’s suicide. Eventually the parents befriend Inspector Steve Jackson, who is as baffled by the case as they are. He agrees to help them investigate when he is off-duty and so forth the journey into The Dark Place begins.

‘Everything looks bleak and I can’t see a way out of it’ – Jon

The investigation gives the parents a focus and a goal to aim for. They seek to understand their daughter and in some way bring themselves closure.
But they are unprepared for what they are about to un-cover and suspicion falls on everyone. . .
‘I’m feeling more and more like I never knew, my daughter at all’ – Mel

Prepare for an intense read 5*

SR
Stephanie Rogers
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author @NatalieGHart #PiecesOfMe #NewRelease #DebutAuthour #DebutNovel @Legend_Press

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Pieces Of Me by Natalie Hart
Review to follow
Synopsis:

Emma did not go to war looking for love, but Adam is unlike any other.

Under the secret shadow of trauma, Emma decides to leave Iraq and joins Adam to settle in Colorado. But isolation and fear find her, once again, when Adam is re-deployed. Torn between a deep fear for Adam’s safety and a desire to be back there herself, Emma copes by throwing herself into a new role mentoring an Iraqi refugee family.

But when Adam comes home, he brings the conflict back with him. Emma had considered the possibility that her husband might not come home from war. She had not considered that he might return a stranger.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Hello! Thanks for having me on the blog. I am currently based in London, but I often spend time travelling for work. Wherever I am in the world, I like to start my day by writing. My first job out of university was in Baghdad, which is where part of my novel is set.
My book follows protagonist British woman Emma, who meets and falls in love with US soldier Adam while she works in Iraq. Eventually she moves to the US to be with him, but when Adam is redeployed their relationship starts to struggle. My book explores the impact that conflict has on individuals and personal relationships, and the way that the effects of war linger long after the battle is over.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) I started writing the novel on a writing workshop in Mexico in January 2015. I had been thinking about the idea for a while, but the writers leading the workshop (particularly Magda Bogin and Owen Sheers) gave me the confidence to start it.
I met my agent, the wonderful Ella Kahn, at the London Book Fair where I won the Write Stuff competition in April 2016. Having an agent made the writing process both more focused and more enjoyable. Ella encouraged and reassured me every step of the way.
Legend Press bought my manuscript in February 2018. I got the call while I was at an airport in Morocco and promptly burst into tears because I was so overwhelmed. From the first time I met my editor I knew that she was totally on board with my vision of what I wanted the novel to be.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) My favourite book this year has been When the Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú, which is the memoir of a US border patrol agent. It resonated with me as a book that gives a real human experience to an international political issue, as I have tried to do myself. Cantú’s writing is a delight and his descriptions of the vast, beautiful and treacherous landscapes of the desert on the US Mexico border evoked feelings that have lingered long since I finished the book.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Dick King-Smith’s Sophie series were my favourite books as a child. The series follows a young girl who spends lots of time in the countryside and constantly works towards her ambition of being a ‘Lady Farmer’, which was also my goal at the time! I remember having an intense feeling of familiarity and being understood while reading those books. I think it’s the first time I experienced how writing can reflect and make sense of people’s realities, which is a major motivator for me in my writing today.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) When I was a teenager I worked in a small bookshop in East Sussex called Barnett’s of Wadhurst, owned by a man called Richard Hardy-Smith. My favourite moment of the publishing journey was telling Richard that he would finally be able to sell my book in his shop. I think my next favourite moment will be when I actually see my book on the shelves there!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) I am very, very lucky to have so many people who have supported me through the writing process. Different people offer me different things. I rely on some for emotional support, others for writing advice, and others still when I need a voice of reason. My family are particularly good at teasing me and reminding me not to take life too seriously.

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Natalie Hart
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author @clarnic #TheReckoning #NewRelease #WW1 #WW2 #Romance @Legend_Press

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The Reckoning by Clar Ni Chonghaile
Review to follow
Synopsis:

I have a story to tell you, Diane. It is my story and your story and the story of a century that remade the world. When we reach the end, you will be the ultimate arbiter of whether it was worth your time. You will also sit in judgment on me.

In a cottage in Normandy, Lina Rose is writing to the daughter she abandoned as a baby. Now a successful if enigmatic author, she is determined to trace her family’s history through the two world wars that shaped her life. But Lina can no longer bear to carry her secrets alone, and once the truth is out, can she ever be forgiven?

Chonghaile stuns in her second book for Legend Press weaving a complex narrative covering conflict, secrets, judgement and what it takes to sever family ties.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Hello, and thank you for hosting me. The Reckoning tells the story of Lina Rose, a successful if enigmatic author in her 70s, who has come to Lion-sur-Mer in Normandy to reflect upon the conflict that broke her husband and drove her to turn her back on convention with a recklessness that demands a reckoning. While in France, Lina decides to write to the daughter she abandoned as a baby. She wants to set the record straight after a lifetime of obfuscation. And she wants to do it in the place where her husband lost his innocence during the Second World War.

As Lina crafts a letter that may never be read, she relives the horrors of the 20th century’s two wars and she is forced to face her own complicity in what happened to her. As she writes, she tries to figure out whether she was compelled by the general chaos to live the way she did, or whether her decision to abandon her child was more a reflection of personal failings? Sensing the hand of time on her shoulder, Lina is determined to tell the truth, if such a thing exists. She wants to explain herself, insofar as she understands what happened. She is seeking forgiveness, from Diane and possibly from herself.

As you might be able to tell from my name, I am Irish and I grew up in An Spidéal in County Galway. I left home when I was 19 to join Reuters in London as a graduate trainee journalist. I then worked as a reporter and editor in Europe and Africa for around 25 years, mainly for Reuters, The Associated Press and the Guardian. My first novel, Fractured, was published in 2016. My second, Rain Falls on Everyone, came out in 2017. The Reckoning is my third. I live in St Albans with my husband, our two daughters and our naughty and very vocal golden retriever, Simba.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) I started writing The Reckoning a couple of months after the publication of Rain Falls in July 2017. I pitched the idea to my wonderful editor, Lauren Parsons at Legend Press, and sent her a few chapters. She was very enthusiastic but Lauren knows me too well and suggested I might need a deadline to focus my mind. She’s always right! I promised to deliver the manuscript by April 2018. Thus began a frenetic phase of researching and writing, some of it joyful, some of it desperately hard. I had a clear vision of where the book was going but I never like to plot too precisely – I like my characters to lead me through the story and my favourite part of the whole process is when they head off on a tangent and do something unexpected. In reality, I suppose, it’s my subconscious being naughty but even knowing that, I find the whole thing quite magical. In any case, after some hand-wringing, hair-pulling and tears, I got it done and The Reckoning was on its way. I am extremely lucky to have had such incredible support from Legend Press since they first requested the full manuscript for Fractured in August 2014. I had submitted a sample of that work to well over 40 agents and publishers and a handful had requested the full manuscript, but none felt able to take the project forward. I was beside myself when I got an email from Lauren asking me to meet for a coffee that September. The rest is history. Legend Press took a chance on me and I will be forever grateful.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I have so many! And the list gets longer every month. I love Margaret Atwood and I think my favourite book of hers is Oryx and Crake. I really enjoyed the sequels too but that first book has a luminous quality. I loved Robert Wilson’s Bruce Medway novels about a hard-boiled detective in West Africa. I found them so original and also hugely entertaining. In my early 20s, I was deeply moved by Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus. Another one of my Africa-based all-time favourites is The Darling by Russell Banks, a poignant story built around coups and wars in Liberia during the 70s and 80s. I recently raced through some of David Downing’s World War 2 spy novels – all named after train stations in Berlin. I admire his skill in capturing both the extraordinary chaos of war and the humdrum of daily life. I read all six books in the Station Series back-to-back and I wanted more. I have always been drawn to books about the wars, partly because I have never quite managed to get my head around the enormity of those tragedies. One of my favourite books is Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I devoured Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy and I loved Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven. This fascination with that period was also behind my decision to write The Reckoning, although in my darkest hours, I wondered how I could dare explore the territory of some of my writing heroes. Nonetheless, I persevered in much the same way, I suppose, as sprinters still train even though they know Usain Bolt is out there. I am reading Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife at the moment and I am totally bowled over. I also love Lisa McInerney’s lyrical and lush The Glorious Heresies and its sequel The Blood Miracles and Anne Enright’s blistering and beautiful social commentary in The Gathering and The Green Road. I am a huge fan of Tim Winton, and would unreservedly recommend his books, starting, perhaps, with Cloudstreet.
This list is whatever the opposite is of comprehensive!

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I used to love My Naughty Little Sister, which my mother read to me. As I grew up, I devoured books by Enid Blyton, from Amelia Jane through to Malory Towers. I also loved the Chalet School books by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. As the eldest of seven children, I thought boarding school would be paradise! As a teenager, I loved Agatha Christie – I read every single one of her books in the library in An Spidéal. Later, I lapped up the exotic settings in Wilbur Smith’s novels. It still tickles me today that I did actually end up living in Africa for nearly 10 years. If you had told that to my 11-year-old self, she would have died laughing at the outlandishness of it all. Another teenage favourite was Maeve Binchy – for many years, she was my ultimate writing hero. I started with Echoes and then The Lilac Bus and on through her many others. When I moved away from Ireland, my mother used to send me all her new releases – in hardback! Maeve had such an ear for dialogue and such a gentle way with incisive social commentary. But it was the story and the characters that got you. I felt bereft at the end of each of her books. She pulled you so deeply into her characters’ worlds that finishing her books felt like a bereavement.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) It’s all been a dream come true. But if I had to choose the best bit, I’d say it’s welcoming dear friends and family to book launches. If you can provide a reason for people to come together, to talk and laugh and have fun, I think you’re winning at life. What else is there, really? If some of them like the book, it’s a bonus.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) Long before I sit down to the blank page, my husband David is hard at work as Supporter-in-Chief. He’s the one who has to listen to my semi-coherent, stream-of-consciousness plotting; he’s the one who has to inject that critical dose of reality into my more hare-brained scenarios. He’s also always my first reader. I have huge respect for his opinion, I know he’ll be honest and it helps that I can’t cut him out of my life in a fit of pique if he says something I don’t like! David also loves his little red pen and he is a pernickety (in a good way) editor. It helps that he is a journalist too with a keen eye for misplaced apostrophes and those dreaded split infinitives.
Our daughters, aged 14 and 11, are vocal supporters, even though they are too young yet to read my books. Their constant encouragement and, possibly misplaced, faith in my ability to become the next JK Rowling are balms for the soul.
My parents, two brothers and four sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins have all been hugely supportive. It means so much when they tell me what they thought of the books, and which passages they particularly liked. The same goes for reviews on Goodreads or Amazon. Yes, even the less favourable ones. I am always so grateful that people have read my books and then have taken the time to review or rate them. I still blush reading my reviews (I don’t think that will ever change) but I hope I learn from each one and hopefully take that knowledge onto the next novel.
I have also found great support online from a group called #writerswise, which was set up by Dr. Liam Farrell and Sharon Thompson. The regular chats with host writers on Twitter are hugely entertaining and very informative. The website is: https://writerswise1.wordpress.com/ More generally, I’ve met a lot of writers, especially Irish writers, online and they are full of support and perfectly-timed kind words.

Fractured Author - Clar Ni Chonghaile
Clar Ni Chonghaile
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