Anne Bonny #Blog Tour #GuestPost The Secret Super Power Of Stories ~ The Storyteller by @pierre_jarawan #NewRelease #LiteraryFiction @WorldEdBooks #TheStoryteller #TranslatedLit

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The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan
Translated by Sinead Crowe and Rachel McNicholl

Synopsis ~

Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family’s new homeland, Germany, for volatile Beirut in an attempt to find his missing father. The only clues Samir has are an old picture of his father and the memory of the bedtime stories he used to tell. The Storyteller follows the turbulent search of a son for a father whose heart had always kept yearning for his homeland Lebanon. In this moving and engaging novel about family secrets, love, and friendship, Pierre Jarawan does for Lebanon what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan. He pulls away the curtain of grim facts and figures portrayed in the media and shows an intimate truth of what it means to come from a country torn apart by civil war. With this beautiful and suspenseful story, full of images, Jarawan proves to be a masterful storyteller himself.

Guest Post ~

The Storyteller begins with a comic scene: Samir’s father Brahim tries to install a satellite dish on the roof of the house, making it point 26 degrees east in order to receive Lebanese TV programs. The longer it takes Brahim to get it to point in the right direction, the more neighbors come and make comments until, finally, Arabic music is heard coming from the living room window and everybody starts dancing. Samir, the boy whose father will disappear a few weeks later, says:

It was crazy. It was magical! At this moment, there was nothing that would have indicated we were living in Germany. This could have been a side street in Zahle, the city where Father was born at the foot of the Lebanon Mountains. Zahle, city of wine and poetry, city of writers and poets. Around us, nothing but Lebanese people, talking and eating and partying in Lebanese fashion.

There is a feeling of warmth and comfort in that scene. Samir, who was born in Germany after his parents had to leave Lebanon because of the Civil War, feels at home and he defines home as “Lebanese”.

When I started writing The Storyteller I wanted to write a novel about a family that is torn apart between two countries. And Samir to me is a typical representative of the second generation of immigrants we have in Germany, but also the UK and so many other countries. This generation did not make the decision to move to these countries themselves. It was made for them. I, myself, am part of that generation too. I consider myself lucky. My father is Lebanese, my mother is German. I learned the best from both worlds. When I got asked what country I considered my home, I always said: both.

Things are different for Samir. And in that respect he represents all the difficulties young men and women of that second generation can face. In most cases their parents keep glorifying their old home. They watch Lebanese (or Turkish or …) TV, eat Lebanese food, get together with other people from Lebanon with whom they speak Arabic… and the children? They end up asking themselves where home really is. Although they go to the neighborhood school, speak the local language better than their parents and have local friends, they experience difficulties in developing an identity. Samir’s father is a great storyteller. And while every child loves having a great storyteller as a father, in Samir’s case these stories cause him to face personal conflicts, because they are about an image of Lebanon which is presented to him in these stories as paradise on earth; they literally make him dream about living there.

Only many years later, when Samir sets foot in Lebanon for the first time in order to solve the riddle of his father’s disappearance which tore apart his family’s idyll twenty years ago, he learns that there is and always has been a dark side to his father’s stories about the country – a side that was never mentioned.

What’s happening in Europe with the current “refugee crisis” had an immediate effect on me. It was in 2015 when I composed the sentence “I am the son of refugees myself” for the first time in my life. I had never seen myself or my parents in this way. They never saw themselves or talked about themselves as refugees. We were simply a German-Lebanese-Family. Period. It’s kind of strange, that in times where “truth” has become a nebulous term people are fighting over, I started to see my family’s truth clearer than ever before.

If you would ask me if literature, if books, if stories have a secret super power, I would say: Yes! I could cite countless statistics about how many people died in a conflict or while crossing the Mediterranean in a small boat or about how many young men and women are part of that second generation of immigrant families and are experiencing similar difficulties as Samir. But it is most likely that this would not cause you to reflect. It is different with stories. Statistics live in the head, while stories reside in the heart. Ultimately it is in the heart that stories can change you, and your way of thinking.

The Storyteller by Pierre Jararwan and translated by Sinead Crowe and Rachel McNicholl is published by World Editions in paperback on 4 April 2019 at £11.99

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Pierre Jarawan
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost Brand New Friend by @k8vane Kate Vane #CrimeFiction #Political #Thriller #NewRelease You know he’s a liar but is he a killer?

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane
Brand New Friend by Kate Vane
Synopsis:

Friend. Liar. Killer?

BBC foreign correspondent Paolo Bennett is exiled to a London desk – and the Breakfast sofa – when he gets a call from Mark, a friend from university in eighties Leeds. Paolo knew Mark as a dedicated animal rights activist but now a news blog has exposed him as an undercover police officer. Then Mark’s former police handler is murdered.

Paolo was never a committed campaigner. He was more interested in women, bands and dreaming of a life abroad. Now he wonders if Mark’s exposure and his handler’s murder might be linked to an unexplained death on campus back when they were friends.
What did he miss?

Paolo wants the truth – and the story. He chases up new leads and old friends. From benefit gigs and peace protests, to Whatsapp groups and mocktail bars, the world has changed, but Mark still seems the same.

Is Mark the spy who never went back – who liked his undercover life better than his own? Or is he lying now? Is Paolo’s friend a murderer?

Guest Post: Inspiration

The inspiration for Brand New Friend

Do you ever look up friends from years ago online to see what they’re doing now? Not to get in touch, not because you want a big reunion with a mobile disco or an ill-advised affair, just out of curiosity?

I must admit I’ve done it. It’s fascinating to see where people I knew as a student in eighties Leeds have ended up. I was on the fringes of animal rights and other political campaigning (I wouldn’t go so far as to call it activism, most of it was social and inactivity seemed a big part of our lives then.) A lot of my friends were on the dole after graduation, some living in squats.

Now, many of them are in responsible jobs or running creative businesses or writing for national media. Ironically, it could be the downtime that helped them get to where they wanted, because they had the space to think about what mattered to them.

I wanted to write a novel that captured the mood of that time, featuring a group of fictional characters who would be my contemporaries, and see where they are now. The hook for the story came when I read about the undercover officers who infiltrated animal rights groups in the eighties. I wondered how it would be if my characters had known someone like that.

The story is told from the point of view of Paolo, who is a BBC journalist. He is already grappling with a crisis in his career and dealing with significant change. He has barely thought about his student years until he learns that someone who was a key influence on him was actually an undercover officer. Knowing that his ‘friend’ Mark lied to them leads him to reassess not just his past but the present.

For me writing a novel is about asking a lot of questions. And answering some of them – crime fans tend to want to know who committed the murder! But I think the themes can be more open, leaving the reader to make up their own mind. How much are we shaped by our memories? What if everything we thought we knew about a significant time in our past was thrown into doubt? How does that change what we believe in now?

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Kate Vane
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Anne Bonny #GuestPost #Promo #Kickstarter A Timeless Celebration by @DianneAscroft #CenturyCottageCozyMystery #Mystery

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Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Abby. I guess I should introduce myself to your readers. I’m Dianne Ascroft and I write historical and contemporary fiction. After writing historical fiction set during the Second World War for several years now, last summer I began writing my first cozy mystery, A Timeless Celebration.

Let me tell you a bit about the novel: When an artefact from the Titanic is stolen before her town’s 150th anniversary celebration, it’s up to Lois Stone to catch the thief. Middle-aged widow Lois has moved from bustling Toronto to tranquil Fenwater and is settling into her new life, feeling secure away from the dangers of the city. Then two events happen that shatter her serenity: her house is burgled and an antique watch belonging to a Titanic survivor is stolen from the local museum. Her best friend, Marge was responsible for the watch’s safekeeping until its official presentation to the museum at the town’s 150th anniversary party and its disappearance will jeopardise her job. Lois won’t let her friend’s reputation be tarnished or her job endangered by an accusation of theft. She’s determined to find the watch in time to save her best friend’s job and the town’s 150th anniversary celebration.

And so begins a week of new friends, apple and cinnamon muffins, calico cats, midnight intruders, shadowy caprine companions and more than one person with a reason to steal the watch, set against the backdrop of century houses on leafy residential streets, the swirling melodies of bagpipes, a shimmering heat haze and the burble of cool water. A Timeless Celebration is the story of Lois’s unwitting entry into the world of amateur sleuthing in a small town, which beckons readers to stop and stay a while.

As I mentioned, I started writing the novel last summer after a memory of home got the ball rolling. I’ve lived in Great Britain for almost three decades but I still have a strong connection to my birthplace, Canada. One really vivid image I have from home is of a quaint, small town with a sprightly river running through it where I’ve spent many happy hours. For several years, my mother was a resident of a nursing home in the town and each summer I flew over to spend a week with her. I pushed her wheelchair along the peaceful banks of the river in the nursing home grounds and we ate lunch at a nearby diner where the waitress always remembered my mother’s order. After I left my mother each day, I wandered along the main street, stopping at the squat, stone Carnegie Library to use the computer and leisurely browsing in the bookshop and numerous craft shops. I also wandered into the old fashioned clothing stores and the market housed in a barnlike building. In the evenings, as the air cooled and the sun sank lower in the sky, I strolled along streets shaded by mature oak and maple trees admiring the traditional stone architecture of the houses.

Everywhere I went people were friendly. They had time to chat and I discovered a sense of community that I hadn’t known in the huge city where I grew up. Whenever I think of the town, it always makes me smile, and one day last summer as I remembered times I had spent there, I realised it was the perfect place to set my new series. I loved the town and I was sure readers would find it a delightful place to be. So that was how the Century Cottage Cozy Mystery series began.

So now I’ve finished writing A Timeless Celebration and need to get it edited before it can go to print. But I need to raise the money to hire the editor as I am publishing the book myself. So I’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to do this. Every pledge to pre-order a copy of the book (and other rewards) will take me a step closer to making the book happen. Please visit my Kickstarter page for more information.
Here’s the link

I’d be delighted if you’d join the other readers who are helping this book become a reality.

DA
Dianne Ascroft
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Good luck Dianne

 

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost – #Disability – A Spoke in The Wheel by @KathleenJowitt #ContemporaryFiction #Cycling

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A Spoke In The Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt
Synopsis:

The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.

The first thing she saw was the doper.

Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.

Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.

But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.

Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…

Guest Post:

Virginia Woolf opens her 1925 essay On Being Ill with the following observation:

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed… it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.

I’d like to take that further and say that, considering how many people are living with a disability or a chronic illness, it becomes strange how little that’s reflected in fiction

We’ve had didactic Victorian fiction, often with a miraculous cure at the end of the book; we’ve had the overwrought sensationalism of Me Before You; but we’ve had very little about ordinary disabled people just getting on with their life. Disabled characters tend to be saints or villains, with not much in between. And that doesn’t reflect the world that I see around me, or the people that I see around me.

I wouldn’t say that I deliberately set out to redress that balance: it just happened that way. A Spoke in the Wheel came out of a conversation I had with my partner as we watched the Vuelta A España: he observed that endurance athletes must be some of the few people to intuitively understand the ‘spoons’ analogy of disability. I started wondering how the circumstances would need to align for two people who had that first-hand experience to have that conversation. The book started there: Ben, a professional cyclist, meets Polly, a disabled fan.

Then I started thinking about the other thing that disabled people and professional cyclists have in common: the assumptions people make about them, the hurtful, damaging assumptions that cyclists are doping to win, and that disabled people are faking it to get benefits. That went into the pot, too. (Since it’s made clear in the first two chapters, I don’t mind telling you now. He’s a cheat. She isn’t.)

I’m not physically disabled myself so I was very keen to ensure that I portrayed Polly’s ME in a sensitive and accurate manner. Joanne Harris’ Twitter thread on Ten Things About Writing Medical Conditions [link here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/979331230318686208.html%5D came just as I’d approved the final proofs of A Spoke in the Wheel, but it demonstrates very well the approach that I tried to take, particularly tweets 6, 7 and 8. Polly is much more than her disability, but her disability affects her life in all sorts of ways. She absolutely has a leading role. And there are no miracle cures, and no saccharine deathbed scenes in this book.

And I can’t tell you how grateful I am to my friends who read the manuscript and said things like, ‘No, if he’s going to pick her prescription up for her then he’ll need a signed letter…’ Or, indeed, ‘Haha, yes, that’s happened to me several times!’ Not to mention the one who took her wheelchair to pieces so that I could photograph one of the wheels for the front cover…

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Kathleen Jowitt
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ASITW blog tour individual 17 May

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost #Protagonist – Tale Of A Tooth by @Alliewhowrites #LiteraryFiction #NewRelease @Legend_Press

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Tale Of A Tooth by Allie Rogers
Synopsis:

Four-year-old Danny lives with his mother, Natalie, in a small Sussex town. Life is a struggle and when they are threatened with a benefits sanction, salvation appears in the form of a Job Centre employee called Karen. But Karen’s impact is to reach far beyond this one generous gesture, as she and Natalie embark on an intense relationship.

Told in the voice of an intelligent, passionate and unusual child, Tale of a Tooth is an immersive and compelling look at the impact of domestic abuse on a vulnerable family unit.

Guest Post:

The protagonist of Tale of a Tooth is four year old Danny White. Danny lives in a studio flat with his mother, who he calls Meemaw.

From the beginning of the book, we realise that Danny is an unusual child. He sees Meemaw’s emotions as colours, he is a fluent reader, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of dinosaurs, the ability to spend long stretches of time content in his own company and he is often overwhelmed by too much light and noise.

Danny’s intelligence, his perceptiveness, his particular ways of navigating the social world, along with the intensity of his bond with Meemaw, made him a gift of a character to narrate this story. As the author, I felt there was no need to do anything other than let Danny speak. He doesn’t miss what matters, even if sometimes he doesn’t understand the significance of what he’s observing.

At one point in the book, Meemaw talks to Danny about the future, when she thinks people might start ‘slapping on the labels.’ So, what labels is she talking about? Is Danny gifted? Does he have synesthesia? Does he have sensory processing disorder? Is he on the autistic spectrum?

This story happens in the part of Danny’s life when he lives alone with his mother and is not in touch with any services that might have given him any sort of diagnosis. If readers want to consider his possible future, if they feel any particular labels fit, then I’m sure they will apply them. But, as the author, all I knew for certain was that Danny had arrived in my head with this story to tell. I let him tell it as himself and challenged my readers to enter his way of experiencing the world without giving it any adult definitions.

One of the things I hope Danny manages to convey to the reader is the safety and warmth of his life with Meemaw, in spite of the many challenges they face as the story unfolds. Though they are living on the edge financially, Danny’s world is kept stable and manageable by Meemaw’s deep, almost instinctive, understanding of him.

Of course, that’s not to say that Meemaw doesn’t misunderstand at times, or lose patience, or occasionally get driven to desperation by his particular wants or needs. And that’s certainly not to say that she doesn’t crave adult company or the attention of someone who sees her as more than just Meemaw. But she and Danny share a powerful bond and I hope readers see that a great deal of Danny’s courage and resilience comes from having a mother who respects his essential self.

As a parent, aunt, and friend, I’ve been privileged to know a lot of four year olds. To be honest, I think they have all been far more sophisticated and complex little people than the adult world usually assumes them to be. If I say Danny is ‘unusual’ then I think it’s worth bearing in mind that there is no template child in the world against whom he is to be measured. All children, all people, are, of course, unique.

Tale of a Tooth is a dark story in many ways. There were scenes that were painful to write, as I realised the horror of what Danny was going to face. I became fiercely fond of him, his kindness, his focus and, more than anything, his honesty. But it was his honesty that meant there was no way he was going to flinch from telling the truth of what happened when his Meemaw met Karen. I hope readers will hear him.

Allie Rogers
Allie Rogers
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