Anne Bonny Top 5 #TravelWithBooks pick from the TBR pile @natashasolomons @thesailorsgirl @brazil_thriller @C_E_Lawrence @DominickGDonald @WindmillBooks @HarperCollinsUK @unbounders @amazonpublishing @HodderBooks

house of gold - Vienna
House Of Gold by Natasha Solomons ~ Location = Vienna
Available in HB/Ebook/PB
Synopsis ~

The start of a war. The end of a dynasty.

VIENNA, 1911. Greta Goldbaum has always dreamed of being free to choose her own life’s path, but the Goldbaum family, one of the wealthiest in the world, has different expectations. United across Europe, Goldbaum men are bankers, while Goldbaum women marry Goldbaum men to produce Goldbaum children.

So when Greta is sent to England to marry Albert, a distant cousin she has never met, the two form an instant dislike for one another. Defiant and lonely, Greta longs for a connection and a place to call her own. When Albert’s mother gives Greta a garden, things begin to change.

But just as she begins to taste an unexpected happiness, the Great War breaks out, threatening to tear everything away. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find themselves on opposing sides. How will Greta choose between the family she’s created and the one she was forced to leave behind?

Black mamba boy - Africa
Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed ~ Location = Africa 
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

Named as one of the GRANTA BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS 2013.

For fans of Half of a Yellow Sun, a stunning novel set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world.

Aden,1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world.

Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of east Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere.

And so begins an epic journey which will take Jama north through Djibouti, war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt. And from there, aboard a ship transporting Jewish refugees just released from German concentration camp, across the seas to Britain and freedom.

This story of one boy’s long walk to freedom is also the story of how the Second World War affected Africa and its people; a story of displacement and family.

the burning hill - Brazil
The Burning Hill by A.D Flint ~ Location = Brazil
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

On the run from unjust court-martial back home, a young British soldier gets robbed and shot on Copacabana Beach. The bullet in Jake’s head should have been fatal, but miraculously, it saves him from a previously undetected condition that soon would have killed him.

Jake doesn’t believe in fate, nor does he feel he owes anything to anybody, but he does hate injustice. Vilson, the teenage favela kid who fired the bullet, is a victim of injustice, in a corner with a corrupt cop and a sadistic drug-lord after his blood.

With a turf war erupting in Vilson’s favela, fear stalks every narrow alleyway, and anyone dragged up to the notorious Burning Hill had better hope they’re dead before they get there. But it’s not just fear that shapes life in the favela, belief is also powerful, able to both save and destroy.

The Burning Hill is about the power of belief and one man’s desire for justice at any cost.

Edinburgh twilight - Scotland
Edinburgh Twilight by Carole Lawrence ~ Location = Scotland
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible & on Kindle Unlimited
Synopsis ~

As a new century approaches, Edinburgh is a city divided. The wealthy residents of New Town live in comfort, while Old Town’s cobblestone streets are clotted with criminals, prostitution, and poverty.

Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton is no stranger to Edinburgh’s darkest crimes. Scarred by the mysterious fire that killed his parents, he faces his toughest case yet when a young man is found strangled in Holyrood Park.

With little evidence aside from a strange playing card found on the body, Hamilton engages the help of his aunt, a gifted photographer, and George Pearson, a librarian with a shared interest in the criminal mind. But the body count is rising. As newspapers spin tales of the “Holyrood Strangler,” panic sets in across the city. And with each victim, the murderer is getting closer to Hamilton, the one man who dares to stop him.

breathe - London
Breathe by Dominick Donald ~ Location =London
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible/PB
Synopsis ~

A stunning debut crime novel for fans of Robert Harris, Philip Kerr and C.J. Sansom’s Dominion.

London, 1952. Dick Bourton is not like the other probationer policemen in Notting Hill. He’s older, having fought in Europe and then Korea. And he’s no Londoner, being from Cotswold farming stock. Then there’s Anna, the exotically beautiful White Russian fiancée he has brought back to these drab streets and empty bombsites. She may as well come from a different planet.

The new copper also has a mind of his own. After an older colleague is shot by a small-time gangster they are chasing in a pea-souper fog, something nags at Bourton’s memory. He begins to make connections which his superiors don’t want to see, linking a whole series of deaths and the fogs that stop the city in its tracks.

Desperate to prove himself and his theories, Bourton fails to notice the fear which his mysterious bride is doing her best to conceal – and overcome.

Soon both Anna and Bourton are taking dangerous paths into the worst fog London has ever known…

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Dead Man’s Daughter by @RozWatkins #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #DIMegDalton #Series #Derbyshire @HQstories @HarperCollinsUK

Cover
Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins ~ #2 DI Meg Dalton Series
Currently Reading – Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

She was racing towards the gorge. The place the locals knew as ‘Dead Girl’s Drop’…

DI Meg Dalton is thrown headlong into her latest case when she finds a ten-year-old girl running barefoot through the woods in a blood-soaked nightdress. In the house nearby, the girl’s father has been brutally stabbed to death.

At first Meg suspects a robbery gone tragically wrong, but something doesn’t add up. Why does the girl have no memory of what happened to her? And why has her behaviour changed so dramatically since her recent heart transplant?

The case takes a chilling turn when evidence points to the girl’s involvement in her own father’s murder. As unsettling family secrets emerge, Meg is forced to question her deepest beliefs to discover the shocking truth, before the killer strikes again…

Extract ~

Prologue

She lay on her back, hard metal under her, so cold it felt like being punched. The smell of antiseptic scorched her throat. She couldn’t move. She tried to scream. To tell them not to do it. She was still alive, still conscious, still feeling. It shouldn’t be happening. But no sound came. The man had a knife. He was approaching with a knife. Silver glinted in the cold light. Why could she still see? This was wrong. With all her will, she tried to shrink from him. He took a step closer. Another man stood by. Dressed in green. Calm. They were all calm. How could they be so calm? She must be crying, tears streaming down her face, even if her voice and her legs and her arms wouldn’t work. Please, please, please don’t. Inside her head she was begging. Please stop. I can feel. I’m still here. I’m still me. No words came out. The terror filled her; filled the room. The knife came closer. She couldn’t move. It was happening.

The touch of steel on her skin. Finally a scream. One of the men placed his hand on her mouth. The other man pushed towards her heart.

The woman grabbed my hand and pulled me deeper into the woods. Her voice rasped with panic. ‘She was running towards the gorge. The place the locals call Dead Girl’s Drop.’ That didn’t sound good, particularly given the Derbyshire talent for understatement. I shouted over the wind and the cracking of frozen twigs underfoot. ‘What exactly did you see?’ ‘I know what you’re thinking, but I didn’t imagine it.’ Strands of dark hair whipped her face. She must have only been in her forties, but she looked worn, like something that had been washed too many times or left out in the rain. She tugged a similarly faded, speckled greyhound behind her. ‘I was expecting proper police,’ she added. ‘I’m a detective. DI Meg Dalton, remember? We wear plain clothes.’ No matter what I wore, I seemed to exude shabbiness. I was clearly a disappointment to Elaine Grant. I sneaked a glance at my watch. I’d had a phone-call from my mum that I should have been returning. Elaine tripped on a stump and turned to look accusingly at me, her edges unclear in the flat morning light. ‘Pale like a ghost. The dog saw her too.’ I glanced down at the dog. He panted and drooled a little.

I wasn’t sure I’d rely on his testimony, but I couldn’t afford not to check this out. I shivered and pulled my scarf tighter around my neck. ‘Wearing white, you mean? But you saw blood?’ ‘It was a nightdress, I think. Just a young girl. Streaking through the trees like she had the devil at her heels. And yes, there was red all over her.’ Branches rattled above us. Something flickered in the corner of my eye – shining pale in the distance. My breath stopped in my throat and I felt a twitch of anxiety. ‘Is there a house in these woods?’ I asked. ‘Approached down a lane?’ Elaine walked a few steps before answering. ‘Yes. Bellhurst House.’ I knew that place. The woman who lived there had kept calling the police, saying she was being watched and followed, but she’d had nothing concrete to report. After the first time, they’d joked that she had an over-active imagination. Possibly a fondness for men in uniform. And we hadn’t taken her seriously. Elaine touched my arm. ‘Did you see the girl?’ We waited, eyes wide and ears straining. The dog let out a little affronted half-bark, more of a puff of the cheeks. A twig snapped and something white slipped through the trees. ‘That’s her,’ Elaine shouted. ‘Hurry! The gorge is over there. Children have fallen . . . ’ I re-ran in my mind the control room’s leisurely reaction to this call; our previous lacklustre responses to the woman in the house in these woods. A band of worry tightened around my chest. I pictured a little girl crashing over the side of the gorge into the frothing stream below, covered in blood, fleeing something – something we’d been told about but dismissed.

Maybe this was the day the much-cried wolf actually showed up. I broke into a limping run, cursing my bad ankle and my bad judgement for not passing this to someone else. I couldn’t take on anything new this week. The dog ran alongside me, seeming to enjoy the chase. I glanced over my shoulder. If the girl had been running from someone, where were they? I arrived at a fence. A sign. Private property. Dangerous drops. Elaine came puffing up behind me. I was already half over the fence, barbed wired snagging my crotch. ‘Did you see anyone else?’ ‘I’m not sure . . . I don’t think so.’ She stood with arms on knees, panting. She wasn’t in good shape. ‘I can’t climb over that fence,’ she said. ‘I have a bad knee.’ ‘You wait here.’ I set off towards where I’d seen the flash of white. The dog followed me, pulling his lead from Elaine’s hand and performing a spectacular jump over the fence. The light was brighter ahead where the trees must have thinned out towards the gorge. I could hear the river rushing over rocks far below. My eyes flicked side to side. There was something to my left. Visible through the winter branches. ‘Hello,’ I shouted. ‘Are you alright?’ I moved a step closer. A figure in white. I hurried towards her. She was uncannily still. I blinked. It was a statue, carved in pale stone. Settled into the ground, as if it had been there for centuries. A child, crying, stone tears frozen on grey cheeks. I swore under my breath, but felt my heart rate returning to normal. Was that something else? It was hard to see in the dappled light.

A glimpse of pale cotton, the flash of an arm, a white figure shooting away. I followed. There in front of me another statue. Whereas the first child had been weeping, this one was screaming, mouth wide below terrified eyes. I shuddered. I ran towards the noise of the river, imagining a child’s body, smashed to pieces by stone and current. I didn’t need a dead girl on my conscience. Not another one. I’d been good recently – not checking my ceilings for hanging sisters or hoarding sleeping pills. I wanted to keep it that way. ‘Hello,’ I shouted again. ‘Is there anyone there?’ A face nudged out from behind a tree which grew at the edge of the gorge. It was a girl of about eight or nine. She was wearing only a white nightdress. Her face was bleached with fear and cold, her hair blonde. The paleness of her clothes, skin, and hair made the deep red stains even more shocking. I took a step towards the girl. She shuffled back, but stayed facing me, the drop falling away behind her. She must have been freezing. I tried to soften my body to make myself look safe. The dog was panting dramatically next to me, after his run. He took a couple of slow steps forward. I was about to call him back, but the girl seemed to relax a little. The dog’s whole body wagged. The girl reached and touched him. I held my breath. The girl shot me a suspicious look. ‘I like dogs.’ Her voice was rough as if she’d been shouting. ‘Not allowed dogs . . . Make me ill . . . ’ ‘Are you running from someone?’ I had to get her away from the edge, but I didn’t want to risk moving closer. ‘I’m with the police. I can help you.’

She stared at me with huge owl eyes, too close to the drop behind. Heart thumping, I said, ‘Shall we take him home for his breakfast?’ The dog’s tail wagged. ‘Is that okay?’ She shifted forward a little and touched the dog softly on the head. A stone splashed into the water below. ‘He needs a drink,’ she whispered. Elaine had been right. The girl’s nightdress was smeared with blood. A lot of blood. ‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Let’s take him back for a drink and some breakfast. Shall we do that?’ The girl nodded and stepped away from the edge. I picked up the end of the lead and handed it to her, hoping the dog would be keen to get home. I wanted the girl inside and warmed up before she got hypothermia or frostbite, but I sensed I couldn’t rush it. I walked slowly away from the gorge, and the dog followed, leading the girl. Her feet were bare, one of her toes bleeding. ‘What’s your name?’ I asked. I thought she wasn’t going to answer. She shuffled along, looking down. ‘Abbie,’ she said, finally. ‘I’m Meg. Were you running from someone?’ I shot another look into the trees. She whispered, ‘My dad . . . ’ ‘Were you running from your dad?’ No answer. I tried to remember the substance of the calls we’d had from the woman in the house in the woods. Someone following her. Nothing definite. Nothing anyone else had seen. ‘Are you hurt? Is it okay if I have a look?’

She nodded. I crouched and carefully checked for any wounds. She seemed unharmed, apart from the toe, but there were needle marks on her arms. I was used to seeing them on drug addicts, not on a young girl. ‘I have to get injected,’ Abbie said. I wondered what was the matter with her. My panic about her welfare ratcheted up a notch. I grabbed my radio and called for paramedics and back-up. ‘There’s a stream,’ Abbie said. ‘He needs a drink.’ The dog was still panting hard. ‘No, Abbie. Let’s – ’ She veered off to the right, surprisingly fast. ‘Oh, Jesus,’ I muttered. Abbie pulled the dog towards the pale statues, darting over the bone-numbing ground. I chased after her. There were four statues in total, arranged around the edge of a clearing. They were children of about Abbie’s age or a little younger, two weeping and two screaming, glistening white in the winter light. I ran between them, spooked by them and somehow feeling it was disrespectful to race through their apparent torment, but Abbie was getting away from me. I saw her ahead, stepping into a stream so cold there were icy patches on the banks. ‘No, Abbie, come this way!’ I ran to catch up, wincing at the sight of her skinny legs plunging into the glacial water. She called over her shoulder. ‘He can drink better at this next bit.’ She clutched the dog-lead as if it were the only thing in the world. I was panicking about her feet, about hypothermia, about what the hell had happened to her, and who might still be in the woods with us. But she was determined to get the dog a drink. And I sensed if I did the wrong thing, she’d bolt.

‘Abbie, let me carry you to the drinking place, okay? Your feet must be really sore and cold. We’ll get him a quick drink, then head back and get warmed up.’ She looked at her feet, then up at me. Worried eyes, blood on her face. She nodded, and shifted towards me. I reached for her, but she lurched sideways and fell, crashing into the freezing water. She screamed. Heart pounding, I reached and scooped her up. She was drenched and shivering, teeth clacking together. I pulled her inside my coat, feeling the shock of the water soaking into my clothes. I took off my scarf and wound it loosely around her neck. I stumbled through the mud, filling my boots with foetid bog water, and finally saw a larger stream ahead, flowing all bright and clear. The dog immersed his face in it, gulped for a few moments, and looked up to show he was done. ‘Right, let’s go.’ I shifted Abbie further up onto my hip and limped back in the direction we’d come, trousers dragging down, feet squelching in leaden boots. The dog pulled ahead, shifting me off-balance even more. Through the boggy bit again, past the cold gaze of the statues, and at last to the fence where Elaine was waiting. ‘Oh, thank goodness!’ Elaine said. ‘She’s alright.’ I gasped for breath. ‘Could you go on ahead and put your heating on high? It could take a while for the paramedics to get here. We might need to warm her up in your house. She’s frozen.’ ‘Shall I run a bath? Not too hot. Like for a baby.’ ‘No, it’s okay. Just the heating.’ ‘Like for my baby.’ Her eyes seemed to go cloudy. ‘My poor baby.’

I touched her lightly on the arm. ‘I’ll bring the girl back. Just put the heating on high and get some blankets or fleeces or whatever you have, to wrap round her.’ Elaine nodded and helped me lift Abbie over the fence, before heading off at a frustratingly slow walk. I picked Abbie up again. ‘Not far now,’ I said, as much to myself as her. ‘We’ll get you inside and warmed up.’ ‘Thank you,’ she said in a tiny voice. ‘Thank you for letting me get a drink for the dog.’ Her ribs moved in and out, too fast. That could be the start of hypothermia. I clasped her to me, enveloping her in my jacket and pulling the scarf more snuggly around her neck. My feet were throbbing, so I dreaded to think what hers felt like. ‘Where do you live, Abbie?’ I said. ‘In the woods.’ She held on to me with skinny arms, trusting in a way which brought a lump to my throat. She rested her head against my shoulder. Her voice was so quiet I could barely hear. ‘I’m tired. . . Will you make sure I’m okay?’ I swallowed, thinking of all that blood. I could smell it in her hair. ‘Yes,’ I whispered into the top of her head, ignoring all the reasons I couldn’t make any promises. ‘I’ll make sure you’re okay.’
*
We eventually arrived at the edge of the woods, and crossed the road to reach Elaine’s cottage. I hammered on the door and it flew straight open. I wrenched off my muddy boots and sodden socks, followed Elaine through to a faded living room, and lowered Abbie onto the sofa. ‘Get some blankets around her,’ I said. ‘I’ll be back.’ I dashed

barefoot over the road to my car, grabbed some evidence bags, and slipped my feet into the spare trainers I’d shoved in there in a fit of sensibleness. My toes felt as if they’d been dipped in ice, rubbed with a cheese-grater, and held in front of a blow-torch. Back at the house, Elaine had swaddled Abbie in a couple of towels and about five fleecy blankets that looked like they could be the dog’s. I decided it was best not to smell them. ‘Do you have anything she could wear?’ I asked. ‘So we can get that wet nightdress off her?’ Elaine hesitated. ‘I still have . . . ’ Abbie looked up from her nest of fleeces and mumbled, ‘Where’s the dog?’ Elaine called him, and Abbie stroked the top of his head gently, her eyelids drooping, while Elaine went to fetch some clothes. The room was clean and tidy but had a museum feel, as if it had been abandoned years ago and not touched since. Something caught my eye beside the window behind the sofa. A collection of dolls, sitting in rows on a set of shelves. I’d never been a fan of dolls and had dismembered those I’d been given as a child, in the name of scientific and medical research. And there was something odd about these. I took a step towards them and looked more closely. A floorboard creaked. I jumped and spun round. Elaine stood in the doorway, holding up some soft blue pyjamas. ‘These?’ They must have belonged to a child a little older than Abbie. I nodded, walked over and took the pyjamas, then sat on the sofa next to Abbie. I opened my mouth to thank Elaine and ask if she had a child of her own, but I glanced first at her face. It was flat, as if her muscles had been paralysed. I closed my mouth again. I persuaded Abbie to let me take off the sopping-wet,

blood-soaked nightdress and replace it with the pyjamas. Her teeth chattered, and she clutched my scarf. I put the nightdress in an evidence bag. ‘My sister Carrie knitted that for me.’ I was better at saying her name now. ‘When I was very young. It’s the longest scarf I’ve ever seen.’ Abbie touched the scarf against her cheek, closed her eyes and sank back into the sofa. I looked up at Elaine. ‘Do you know if she lives at Bellhurst House? She said she lived in the woods, but she’s pretty confused.’ Elaine stared blankly at me. ‘Yes, I suppose she must. They own the land that goes down to the gorge.’ A pitter-patter of my heart. The guilt that was so familiar. Again I tried to remember what the woman from Bellhurst House had reported. Someone in the woods, someone looking into their windows, someone following her. She hadn’t lived alone; I remembered that. There was definitely a husband, possibly children. ‘Is that your house, Abbie? Bellhurst House?’ She nodded. ‘A car went down there,’ Elaine said. ‘In the night. I couldn’t sleep. Down the lane. I didn’t think much of it at the time. But now I’m wondering . . . ’ ‘What time?’ ‘I’m not sure exactly. About three or four, I think.’ ‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Police are on their way to the house. What colour was the car?’ ‘I couldn’t see – it was too dark.’ I turned to Abbie. ‘Do you remember anything about what happened?’ I said. ‘Where the blood came from?’ She leant close to the dog and wrapped her arms around him. He gave me a long-suffering look. Abbie spoke softly into his ear, so I could barely make out the words. ‘Everyone always dies. Jess. And Dad . . . ’ I looked at her blood-stained hair. ‘Who’s Jess?’ ‘My sister.’ I imagined her sister and her father bleeding to death in those dark woods, surrounded by statues of terrified children. ‘Where are your sister and your dad, Abbie?’ No answer. She closed her eyes and flopped sideways towards me. I caught sight of the dolls again. It felt as if someone had lightly touched the back of my neck with a cold hand. It was the eyes. In some of the dolls, the whole eye was white – no iris or pupil. In others, the iris was high, so you just saw the edge of it as if the eyes had rolled up inside the doll’s head. I turned away, feeling Abbie’s soft weight against me.

RW
Roz Watkins
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My Review of The Devil’s Dice ~ #1 in the DI Meg Dalton Series

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Blog Tour: Q&A with Felicity Everett, author of The People At Number 9.

People9_Blogtour

The People At Number 9 by Felicity Everett.

The Synopsis:

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.

When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…

Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs…

Q&A:

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

A) I grew up in Manchester and studied English Literature at Sussex University when it was a hot bed of feminism and New Romantics (Duran Duran, not Wordsworth and Coleridge). I based my first novel ‘The Story of Us’ on some of the women I knew back then. One of the men I knew was a short funny socialist, also from Manchester. Seduced by his flat vowels and dry wit, I married him. We moved to London, I got a job in children’s publishing and proceeded to create, with my new husband, four new readers for the twenty-or-so books of fiction and non-fiction that I was to write while working there. Eventually the unfeasible childcare costs made freelance work seem a better prospect and I published another four children’s books before succumbing completely to domestic drudgery, aka drinking coffee with my neighbours. After a couple of years away from writing, I decided it was time to get back in the saddle and as I had always wanted to have a go at adult fiction, I enrolled in a creative writing course at Goldsmith’s University and cracked on. The first novel went in the bottom drawer, the above-mentioned second was published in 2011, just after we moved to Melbourne, Australia for what turned out to be a fantastic four-year stay. Not wanting to be the dreaded ‘trailing spouse’ of an ex-pat exec., I joined a writing group while I was there, where I workshopped my new novel The People at Number 9. Turns out you have to travel 10,000 miles to be able to make sense of where you have come from.

The People at Number 9 is an unrequited love story, not between individuals, but between two couples, one an ordinary, happy-enough suburban pair, The other (the eponymous number 9-ers) an impossibly glamorous and arty duo who not only befriend their new neighbours, but inspire them. But it turns out creativity and unorthodoxy come at a cost, at least for this foursome, as the down-to-earth pair are lured further and further away from their authentic selves, and into a lifestyle that at first seems irresistible, but which turns out to have consequences they hadn’t foreseen.

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

A) The idea for the book came to me in Australia. I was a fish out of water, far away from the close-knit community I had relied on for a quarter of a century. The distance gave me the perspective to see the pluses and minuses of that very close, almost incestuous neighbourhood and I conceived a plot that would explore the best and worst of it – it was a sort of ‘what-if?’ story where I took the mundane idea of couples growing close and even co-dependent, which I think can be quite a common experience, and spun it off into a scenario that was way beyond anything I had encountered, in which one couple’s admiration of the other turns to an unhealthy obsession, with dire consequences.

Once I had the idea, it wasn’t too hard to come up with a plot-line that dramatised the trajectory of those characters. I wrote a few chapters and a synopsis and sent them to my agent, Sallyanne Sweeney and she was enthusiastic about the idea. After that it took me a good couple of years to write the book. I tend not to write many drafts, but to reshape one obsessively, as I’m working on it (feedback from my Melbourne writer’s group was invaluable here). Fortunately that meant that my first (which was actually my tenth) draft didn’t need too much revision before Sallyanne could send it out to prospective publishers. The book found a great champion in Kate Mills, who made it her first acquisition for HQ, the new imprint she was launching for Harper Collins. I was so lucky.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) My favourite authors at the moment are Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Strout, Anne Enright and Colm Toibin. I like books where the drama is in the heads and the hearts of the characters rather than in big plot twists. Toibin’s Nora Webster is like that – not much happens, but everything happens. I would also recommend Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf, which was very touching and beautifully written. I read a lot of short stories, especially when I’m writing, as I find it hard to immerse myself in novels when I have my own on the go. I love the New Yorker short story podcasts in which a writer chooses a favourite story by another author and then discusses it afterwards with the fiction editor of the magazine. I’ve learned a lot listening to them.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I was a very enthusiastic member of The Puffin Club as a child – Puffin published some fantastic authors – as well as the classics (Charlott’e Web being my favourite), I discovered authors like Jane Gardam, Ursula le Guin and Elizabeth Enright. As a teenager I loved The Catcher in the Rye (of course), and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and as I got a bit older I discovered Margaret Atwood – I especially loved Catseye and The Handmaid’s Tale. I also had a bit of a thing for Kingsley Amis – his books made me laugh and I was still a bit young to pick up on the shocking misogyny!

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

A) It was the moment when I introduced myself to someone as a writer, without feeling like a fraud!

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

A) I have been very well supported by the writers groups I have belonged to, both for the fantastic feedback they have given me and for the inspiration I have found in other members’ work. Two writing friends in particular – Claire Seeeber in London and Trish Bolton in Melbourne gave great support, encouragement and feedback. The key person for me though has been my husband Adam, who is my first reader and stalwart supporter. I can tell straight away if something’s not working by the look on his face. I get very cross, and then I change it.

 

Authors links:
Twitter: @Ittymay
Website: http://mmbcreative.com/books/people-number-9/

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.