Q&A and #Extract with @HodgsonCristina #Author of #ALittleOfChantelleRose @crookedcatbooks

C.Rose cover art
A Little Of Chantelle Rose by Cristina Hodgson
Synopsis:

At the age of twenty-four, Chantelle Rose has all a city girl can expect: a tiny bed-sit in South London, a lousy poorly-paid job, a tyrannical boss, and quite a few exes added to an ever-growing list.

Desperate for change, she becomes an extra in a seedy crime film. When that leads to the opportunity of a lifetime – a role to play with a million dollars to win and seemingly nothing to lose – she accepts without thinking twice. After all, what could possibly go wrong? In any event, she´ll earn enough to buy her dream home, set up her own business and never worry about money again.

And what about love? Two men have won her heart: Robbie – sultry, silent, mysterious; and Lionel – Hollywood heart-throb, charm, wealth, adventure.

But who can she trust? Who is bent on scaring her away, and why?

There seems to be more at stake than just her heart. Will a million dollars be worth it?

Q&A:

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

A) My debut novel, which was released just recently, was actually written thirteen years ago. After graduating from Loughborough University with a degree in PE and Sports Science, I travelled and worked in various jobs. One of which was as an extra in a British produced gangster film which was filmed in Nerja, Spain. It goes without saying that my sport mechanics and kinetic energy knowledge wasn’t put to maximum potential in this part-time job. But it was certainly a fun and unique experience, but most importantly it gave me an idea.

            A year later I sat down and within three months I had written my 90 K novel. A little of Chantelle Rose was born. The novel tells an urban fairy tale. It’s about a young London girl who through a series of hilarious, if bizarre, circumstances is propelled to Hollywood glamour, lovers, confusion, menace and a truly startling conclusion. Its twists and turns will grip the reader – and make them laugh, too! At least that’s what I hope!!

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

A) Like I’ve said, the idea came to me after being an extra on a British produced gangster film and I actually found the writing of the story easy. I finished writing the whole novel within three months. The road to publication was about to begin and it was going to be a long and almost impossible journey.

            Thirteen years ago, the publishing industry was still largely virgin to e-books. It was all print and the Big Four book publishing houses only accepted manuscripts through agents. And agents only accepted printed copies of the first three chapters that had to be sent with a query letter and a S.A.E. I was living in Spain and the postal cost to send my work to the UK was quite expensive. I carefully went through a list of agents accepting fiction in my genre, contemporary women’s romantic comedy and selected just a handful to send my work to. I remember excitedly posting off my work in the innocent belief that I’d get accepted straight away.

            What I didn’t know is that most agents and publishers can receive up to 40 + query letters per day. Now, I’ve never been a whiz at arithmetic, but this is pretty basic maths: 40 x 5 (let’s make it a 5 day working week) = 200 manuscripts per week. Your basic agent’s staff will be working a 40 hour week. That’s 5 query letters to get through per hour . Dedicating an average of 12 minutes (not counting “wee” stops) per letter, (opening/ reading and deciding course of action). It takes me longer just trying to decide which shoes to wear in the mornings! So it’s quite a feat to get through all those submissions on a daily basis! And of course all the agents that I had so painstakingly selected, rejected me. I was disheartened to say the least and gave up, pushing from my mind all thoughts of getting my work published.

            The years went by and the manuscript sat in a corner collecting dust. Until a couple of years ago, when my dad, who’d read the original manuscript and loved it (as only dad’s can of course) encouraged me try and get it published again. I now found myself in a full time job, with two young children to look after, never mind the house work / cooking and trying to keep up some sort of social life etc. etc. and it took me over a year to re-edit and up-date it.

            This time I sent it straight to several small independent publishers who accepted non solicited and non agented work. With the emergence of e-books, the book market and the publication process had changed and developed. The up-front cost to produce an e-book is minimum and most paper back books are printed on demand. This in turn has led to the the growth of smaller Independent publishers more willing to give authors that golden chance.

So after months of e-mail torture and nail-biting web searching, I received the e-mail of my dreams; that my work has been accepted for publication! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is without a doubt one of the most magical and incredible moments that any author will feel in the road to publication.

            It has taken me longer to find a publisher than it did for me to actually write my book! And I still sometimes sit in awe, and wonder if I have, in fact, dreamt the whole thing up!

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) This is a tricky one. I think I’ll have to go with, and in no particular order.

  1. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S Lewis. (Novels like this one made me into a reader at a young age, and from the reader the writer was born).
  2. Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen (I write romance, say no more…)
  3. The White Queen. Philippa Gregory (This novel, as all Philippa Gregory’s historical novels actually makes learning about the Tudor and pre-Tudor period easy and fun. If I’d read them at school, I’m sure I’d have got an A in history).
  4. Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell. (With one of the most famous closing lines…)

 Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) As a young child I would have to say my favourite author was Enid Blyton, I read all her Famous Five books. She opened a magical world to me and passion for reading that has accompanied my whole life.

As a teenager I remember reading all the books in the Dollanganger series by V.C.Andrews, starting with “Flowers in the attic” and ending with “Garden of Shadows.” They were all quite disturbing to be honest, not something I would re-read now.

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

A) There have been many special moments. Receiving positive reviews about my work always make my day. That I can bring a smile or even make people laugh out loud with my work is pretty special for me.

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

A) My family, without a doubt they are my pillar. My parents and brother have always supported everything I’ve done and are the ones that are always encouraging me to pursue my dreams. My husband and children are always there backing me too. They are my team and without them I doubt I would be where I am today.

AUTHOR PIC
Cristina Hodgson
WHERE TO FIND CRISTINA HODGSON ONLINE:
Website: Website
Twitter: @HodgsonCristina
Facebook: Facebook profile
email: hello@cristinahodgson.com

Author Bio:

Cristina Hodgson, mother of two, born in Wimbledon, London, currently lives in southern Spain. Cristina had a long career in sport, reaching national and international level and still actively participates in Triathlon races and enjoys outdoor activities. In her spare time she also enjoys reading and writing. She won a sports scholarship to Boston College. After a period in Boston, she returned to the UK and graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in PE and Sports Science.
A Little of Chantelle Rose is her debut novel. Amazingly, it has nothing to do with running!

#Extract:

My elation over the cottage vanished in a flash as I read and re-read the note. It was just seven words long, but each made me shiver. Cut-out newspaper letters had been strung together to form the message:

HOLLYWOOD BITCH, YOU ARE NOT WANTED HERE.

My legs wobbled slightly as I glanced around me, wondering if the sender was watching me from the dense woods. Despite my thumping heart, I had to pretend I was calm. Despite tears of fright welling up inside, I had to pretend that I wasn’t on the verge of breaking down and crying. Pulling myself together, I opened the car door, which I’d left unlocked, and before I got in I held my right arm high and stuck-up my middle finger, swinging it around in a clear gesture of FUCK YOU. I hoped that if the crazed stalker was still lurking around, he or she would get a clear view of my cool, unimpressed and bravo attitude.

Boy, was I scared. I whammed the door of my Mini shut so forcefully that the whole vehicle vibrated. I punched down the lock on the door and mumbled over and over as I fumbled for the car keys.

“Please, please, please God, let the car start first time…

Then it dawned on me, with a wave of pure and utter dread, that I’d left the car keys on the windowsill in the master bedroom on the first floor as I’d tried, unsuccessfully, to open the window.

I peered through the car window at the surrounding woods. I really didn’t fancy going back into the house, or even getting out of the car. I’d a good chance of getting attacked by the lunatic who’d followed me out here.

Where was my showy spunk now? So much for sticking my finger up in the air in a bravado pretence that I didn’t care.

I took several deep breaths and braced myself. This is when I see what I’m made of! With that I swung the car door open and pelted up the driveway towards the house, practically hurdled the gate and took the doorsteps in one flying leap. My hands shook uncontrollably as I let myself into what I now began to think of as a dark and sinister house. I shot across the living room like a bullet and took the stairs two at a time. I swerved into the master bedroom and drew a deep sigh of relief on seeing my car keys glinting in the sunlight. I pounced on them and as I was about to turn to leave I heard a distinct noise from down below. At least I thought I did, but my heart was pounding so hard that I could hardly hear anything except the thump-thump, thump-thump as blood pulsed through my veins.

Then I heard a voice.

“Chantelle? Where are you?”

 

 

***

 

 

 

Just as I reprimanded myself for being so spiteful, her long legs that positively went on forever appeared as she descended the stairs.

“You have a really cute house,” she cooed as soon as she saw me. That left me momentarily stunned. I’d just about learned to deal with her cattiness, so her unexpected courtesy threw me somewhat.

In all truth I thought we made quite a convincing Tom and Jerry team – me being Jerry, of course. This new Tom in her, consequently, left me wary as hell.

Vivien pulled up a chair by the kitchen table and sat down directly opposite me. For a moment we just stared at each other in awkward silence. Accustomed as we were to out-and-out slanging matches, getting a civilised conversation going was quite a challenge. I sat silent, thinking that I’d let her start the ball rolling, and depending on what she said I would decide whether to throttle her or not.

What I didn’t expect was for her to turn her baby-blue eyes on me. I noticed they were brimming with unshed tears, and though she attempted to keep them at bay, it was with little success. Her chin started wobbling and her cheeks glowed from rosy pink to deep crimson. Soon the wobbling of her chin spread and her shoulders commenced to tremble.

I sat there petrified. She was obviously on the verge of some sort of spasm attack. I hadn’t a clue where she kept her medication, or if she had any to start with. A Valium would come in handy. I couldn’t dial 999 either, as my mobile battery, which had a life span of three hours or less, needed to be charged. My charger was in the van, and the van had been taken by Tammy to load with kitchen devices.

And, shit, I’d forgotten to phone Lionel.

My mind was in a whirl, and now I was getting as jumpy and apprehensive as she was. If I didn’t soothe myself pronto, I would be in grave danger of going to pieces. And Vivien, in her disarray, was going to be no help to me.

I took a deep breath to try and control myself as I continued to witness Vivien’s chronic decline. Her bright crimson cheeks had started to go blotchy and her whole body had started to judder. She’d closed her eyes momentarily. I don’t want to be bitchy, but she looked truly bloodcurdling, like she was possessed or something. She looked like the girl out of The Exorcist – the original version – the one I’ve always had nightmares about.

So there was Vivien, my living nightmare, and I waited in hushed trepidation for her head to turn through 360º.

Vivien suddenly opened her eyes, and it was like opening a sluice gate. Tears just flooded out in non-stop waves. She was leaning against the table and even this started to vibrate alongside her quivering body. I didn’t know what to say to attempt to lessen her anguish. I’m always so tongue-tied in these circumstances. Eventually, in desperation, I blundered ahead and said, rather ineptly, “Is there anything wrong?”

At the rate she was going, she would surpass the previous day’s rain! On hearing my words Vivien started to shake her head vigorously from side to side.

Is that a NO? I was puzzled, because I would have said that there was something very seriously wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

#Review – Texas Dakota 5* Genius, Q&A with author, Lorcan Kavanagh @lorcankavanagh

I am super excited to share this blog post, as Texas Dakota was one of my favourite reads last year. It was released yesterday 12th May 2017, by Crooked Cat Books. This is one of those books you read and think ‘this would make an awesome movie’!
Highly recommend!

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Texas Dakota by Lorcan Kavanagh

The synopsis:

Brolin Walker is an ex-soldier and drug addict who smokes his days away in Texas with his dog Red. Following an incident with his drug lord boss, Brolin plans to flee Texas for good, but when his mother in law shows up at his door asking him to travel to North Dakota to pay a ransom for his estranged stepson’s body, he finds himself making the trip. But when Brolin arrives at Devils Lake to pay the ransom the body never turns up and he barely escapes the night with his life.

Determined to find out what happened to his stepson, Brolin begins a deadly journey that takes them into an underworld of drug kingpins, treacherous addicts, and violent hitmen. When someone Brolin thought he could trust leaves him for dead drowning in an icy swamp, this sets off a spasm of murder where Brolin’s enemies realize that he is a ticking time bomb of violence. This all hurtles to a deadly conclusion that is just as shocking as Brolin’s past.

My review:

Wow, where to start! This novel grips you from the first few pages and is unputdownable!
I was amazed that it is a debut novel for the writer, as it is so tightly and cleverly written. I found the style to be similar to Quentin Tarantino’s script writing or similar to the movie training day, as it just keep delivering with twists, turns and ultimately a shocking brutal ending!
The novel tells the story of Brolin Walker, one time soldier now washed up meth addict and dealer. Through the novel we learn more and more about his chaotic life & that of his wife & stepson. Brolin is a difficult character to summarize, probably best summarised with the quote ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. Where Brolin may have good intentions, it leads him down a path of encounters with the criminal dregs of society. Which makes for action packed gripping reading!
I think this novel has huge appeal to be adapted into a movie!
An outstanding debut! 5/5
*I received an ebook arc via netgalley in return for an honest review.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you give a brief summary of yourself and you novel Texas Dakota?

A) hi readers, my name is Lorcan Kavanagh, I hail from Dublin, Ireland. I’m 33, I’ve been writing for over ten years, and Texas Dakota is my first published novel. In Texas Dakota, the main character, Brolin Walker, takes us from Texas to North Dakota to pay a ransom for his stepson’s body. When he arrives things don’t go as planned and we are thrown into a mystery that Brolin struggles to unravel.

Q) Texas Dakota has a very, Quentin Tarantino writing or Training Day the movie feeling to it. Was this intentional in your writing? Did you set out to write something so iconic

A) I think iconic is a very flattering word to use to describe my work. Thank you. It wasn’t intentional to write like Tarantino or in the style of Training Day, however, I am a Tarantino fan and I adore training day so I wouldn’t be surprised if their influence found its way into my work on a subconscious level.

Q) Brolin Walker is brilliant in the sense that he is edgy, unique and different to mainstream portrayals of ex-soldiers. What was the inspiration behind his characterisation?

A) Thank you. I worked very hard on Brolin. I didn’t want him to be a typical jarhead. I wanted him to be a normal, sensitive human being, who was damaged from war, but damaged in a subtle way. He didn’t have any exterior scars, just interior ones. The inspiration came from wanting to write a main character that was not a cliché. I wanted him to be damaged, and complex, and mean and nice and misunderstood. I wanted the reader to be intrigued by him, and feel for him, but not necessarily like him or feel like they could trust him. I hope I pulled it off 🙂

Q) I felt that the book would work perfectly for a movie adaption. Have you had any success in getting the novel adapted?

A) That’s funny you should say that, because, for a very brief time, it was a screenplay. My publisher has mentioned to me that a film producer is interested in the novel. I know the workings of the film industry well enough to not get exciting. But if a solid offer from a reputable producer came across my desk I would certainly consider it. I’m happy with the story as a book, if it was made into a movie, that would be a great bonus but I’m certainly not holding my breath.

Q) This is a debut novel, surprisingly! What was the process from idea to publication?

A) Thank you. The process I followed was: research and outline first. That took me over one year. Then I did a small amount of visual research. Then I wrote a screenplay version. Then I used that and the outline to write the first draft. After that, I think about eight edits were done on it. Then I submitted it to publishers and agents. I got two offers back and I went with the best one. It was around a three-year timeline.

Q) What’s next for Lorcan Kavanagh, are you writing a next novel? How long do us fans have to wait?

A) Next up is another novel. It’s the first in a series. I don’t want to give anything away, but what I can say is that it’s set inside the secret world of illegal organ harvesting. The release date is mid 2019.

*Thank you to Lorcan for taking part in a Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your novels release on the 12th May 2017 and your future writing career 🙂

LK
Authors Links
Web: www.lorcankavanagh.com
Twitter: @lorcankavanagh
Publishers: http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/product/texas-dakota/

 

 

 

 

 

Released today debut novel: The May Queen by Helen Irene Young. Review and Q&A

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The May Queen by Helen Irene Young

Synopsis:

It all began beside the mill pond. Honest, fair and eager to please, fifteen-year-old May has a secret, and not of her own making. She wears it like an invisible badge, sewn to her skin, as though Ma stitched it there herself. It rubs only when she thinks of Sophie, Pa or the other name that’s hidden there; that no one knows about.

Caught in an inevitable net of change, May joins the Wrens, leaving her Cotswolds home for war-torn London and the Blitz. As a dispatch rider, she navigates
the city by day and night, surviving love and loss throughout a blackout of remembered streets and wrong turns.

Night after night, the bombs drop and, like those around her, she takes cover in the shadows when they do. But May is waiting for a greater shadow to lift, one which will see the past explode into the present.

A tale of one girl’s search for love and belonging, The May Queen is a debut novel that goes to the heart of what family means and finding your place in it.

My review:

The May Queen is the story of 15-year-old May Thomas. As she navigates world war 2, relationships and her life. In the opening of Part one the novel begins in July 1934, with a teenage May. May has a mother who is very reminiscent of the era, in that she is a matriarch type figure, rather brash, harsh and abusive. This is an era when ‘young girls must stay out of trouble’ and trouble comes to visit May’s family. The early chapters show the development of May’s childhood. The writing is subtle and slower paced as it sets the mood for the message of the novel.

Part two, welcomes the month of May 1940 and a now older and more mature May has swapped the small bubble of her existence in the Cotswolds for war torn London during the Blitz. We read on as she discovers new relationships with work colleagues and soldiers alike. For May will surely, come to know love and loss in equal measure.

Part three opens in June 1945, I found this part to be very reflective of the relationship between May and her sister Sophie. Two very different young women, forced together in trying times. The novel is based around family relationships and how they contribute to the adults we ultimately become. I found this novel to be very much a ‘coming of age’ story. Literary in its content in some parts and I can see a definite YA appeal. My daughter is 14 years old and I could see her being able to relate to May’s journey of self-discovery. 4*

Q&A:

Q) For the readers can you give us a summary of your novel The May Queen and your background?

A) The May Queen is a tale of family love and loss. It’s about learning to see yourself as something more than an appendage of this unit. It’s about what happens to you when you do that. And about what happens if you don’t. I’m a digital editor by trade and always having to think forwards. It’s such an escape to focus firmly in the past when I write.

Q) I found The May Queen to be very much a coming of age story, surrounding May Thomas. Was this intentional or did it develop whilst writing her story?

A) It was always a coming-of-age story because in order for May to develop she had to grow. That’s the usual way of it. Although, some people start off fully grown and then regress, but that’s a different story altogether! What did develop during the writing process was just how much conflict existed in the everyday – in the domestic. I hadn’t quite appreciated that. So, between May and Ma, May and Sophie, May and Pa. Conflict, conflict, conflict. I was only surprised she didn’t leave them earlier.

Q) The novel is very different to many of this genre, currently on sale. As it focuses solely around May’s relationships with others and the impact they have on her. What is the inspiration behind May?

A) Thank you! That was my intention. I love narratives which focus around character development and growth – a journey of self as opposed to a physical one. I didn’t see the point of writing another WW2 novel that ticked off historic events as fact (although of course in The May Queen the research is there, it’s just background). What’s the point of telling people what they already know? No, for me it was about May. She was something new. She floated to the surface of the mill pond (beside her home) and refused to sink. She’s inspired by my mother and grandmother (who grew up in the mill at Fairford). They were strong and fearless women with the ability to light up a room. I wanted to honour that.

Q) I am a huge WW2 geek. I love the absolutely love the era in movies, fiction and non-fiction. What drew you to the era?

A) I was initially drawn to the 1930s. I wanted to explore that hazy time in the countryside – of town carnivals (Fairford’s was one of the biggest in the South West) and community that centred on patronage from the local gentry. In Fairford, all of that changed after WW2. The carnival never returned and the big house was torn down (sometime in the 1950s). I wanted the reader to slip into that earlier time and emerge with a full understanding of what had been lost.

Q) I have many WW2 heroes, some ordinary people, who achieved amazing things for their country during the word. Such as Alan Turing and Viola Szabo. Who are your WW2 heroes?

A) The women of the WRNS. It was a wonderful time for them. I don’t care to name the well-heeled few who came from money and made it into history. It’s the poor girls, like my grandmother, who took the initiative; who drove motorbikes and pulled great warships out to deep water, proudly standing on the decks of their little tugs in bellbottoms. Those girls are my heroes. I bet they got up to all sorts.

Q) What’s next for your writing career? Do you intend to write anything else in the WW2 genre or historical fiction?

A) I have flipped to a completely different continent but stayed true to genre. My next book is set post-WW2 in the late 1940s in Colombia. It’s about an architect, Luke Vosey, who is broken and seeking a new life for himself in a new place. He’s trying to run from his past but what he doesn’t realise is that he’s running towards something much worse. Colombia in the 1940s was also reeling from a European war they hadn’t participated in. Even there it reached. The novel is set at a time before everything in Colombia, politically and socially, was about to get more savage. I don’t want to spoil it and so won’t say more than that!

*Huge thank you to Helen for agreeing to be part of a Q&A on my blog.

helen

Authors Links:
Web: http://www.themayqueen.com/
Twitter: @helenireneyoung