Anne Bonny Q&A #Extract with #Author of Wartime Sweethearts @LolaJaye #ww2Fiction #Saga #HistoricalFiction #Romance @EburyPublishing @PenguinUKBooks

cover
Wartime Sweethearts by Lola Jaye

Synopsis ~

An English Girl. An American Soldier. A twin secret…

When Rose meets American GI William there is no denying the attraction between them…And even though she knows her family would not approve of her relationship with a black soldier, they can’t help but fall in love.

However Rose has a secret of her own and when war separates the sweethearts before she can confide in William, it is Rose who will have to deal with the consequences…

From the author of Orphan Sisters comes a moving and unique saga which gives a voice to the untold tales of our past.

Q&A ~

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

A) Hello there! I’ve been a published author for ten years now and I’m also a registered psychotherapist. I’ve written five novels and a self-help book and was born and raised in London, England. I’ve lived in Nigeria and up until recently, the United States. My books have been translated into several languages including Korean, German and Serbian. I love writing saga novels and Orphan Sisters was released in 2017 charting the fictional journey of an immigrant family and the issues faced in post war London. My current book Wartime Sweethearts is out now:

When Rose meets American GI William there is no denying the attraction between them… And even though she knows her family would not approve of her relationship with a black soldier, they can’t help but fall in love. However Rose has a secret of her own and when war separates the sweethearts before she can confide in William, it is Rose who will have to deal with the consequences…

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

A) I have an idea. Then the characters are born. If these characters start to invade my thoughts, it’s time to tell their story! I became interested in learning more about the large numbers of babies born to African American solders and British women during WWII after listening to a segment on BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour. Brown babies was the term used and I felt I needed to tell their ‘forgotten’ story.
When I write, I not only want to entertain, but I also like to weave in the contributions made by people of colour throughout the years. For example, it isn’t widely known that during both World Wars there were a significant number of African, Caribbean and Asian soldiers who volunteered and were recruited to all branches of the British armed forces. Although the story of William and Rose focuses on the African American allies, the cover for Wartime Sweethearts at least offers us a rare glimpse…

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was/is a phenomenal woman. There’s something quite beautiful about the prose and raw emotion which sings from each page of this book.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
I needed to be in a certain place mentally to really take on this book due to the harrowing subject matter, so it stayed on my shelf for over five years. When I finally opened the first page, I was hooked.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Every single page of this book felt like part of a feast I wanted to devour slowly. I was there with the characters too, living and breathing the life of a Japanese geisha and not sat on my couch on a rainy afternoon!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I read this at a time I had newly arrived in America, so this novel felt like perfect timing. It contained so many references which gave way to a number of ‘aha’ moments like, what it meant to be an immigrant living in America- themes I recognised and could relate to on a personal level.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Like millions of others, I enjoyed the Flowers in the Attic books by Virginia Andrews and the naughtiness of Judy Blume in Forever. Pre teen me also loved books by Rosa Guy who was a phenomenon because for the very first time, I was reading about characters who looked like me. One of her books which particularly springs to mind is Edith Jackson, about a 17 year old black girl trying to make her way in life.

Q) What are you currently reading?

A) I am just about to start reading Tell me your Secret by Dorothy Koomson -who made be feel very special by sending me a proof!

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

A) When a reader emails to tell me how much my writing has touched their lives.

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

A) It helps to have a list of writer friends who are familiar with the neurosis, solitude and basic weirdness that come with being a writer!

Author Image
Lola Jaye
Website
Twitter
Pre-order link via Penguin UK
Wartime Sweethearts on Goodreads

Extract ~

Chapter One

1944

She had never experienced this type of pain before. ‘Is the baby all right?’ she said in between deepened breaths and a succession of quick pants. Wasn’t the pain part supposed to be over by now? Why was she feeling as if she still needed to push something heavy out of her? When she was little, she’d accidentally walked in on Mrs Bunting giving birth next door. Rose had been mesmerised at the aftermath of bright red blood splattered across the bed sheets and a fully formed, yet purple and reddened baby wailing in its mother’s arms. The sight of something called the afterbirth, pooling out of her neighbour’s nether regions a little while later, was not what she’d expected either because no one had actually mentioned that part. Perhaps this was what was next for her too – she just couldn’t believe how much pain she’d endured so far, or that this beautifully formed, wailing infant now being tended to by her sister Flora, as Marigold, the oldest of the three, looked on, had actually come from her. In the blurred lines between pain and exhaustion, Rose was fighting pangs of envy at the time they’d already got to spend with the baby. Her first child. A little girl! She couldn’t wait to be alone with her and stare into her

perfect face. Absorb every single inch of this new person she’d got to know over the last eight months while safely cocooned in her stomach. She’d only managed a few seconds of a glimpse when Flora had placed her onto her chest right after she’d first entered this world. Their heartbeats had instantly connected and she felt an intoxication of love for this little being who had bombarded its way into her life at a time when the outside world had felt so uncertain. ‘She is a beauty!’ encouraged Marigold, standing at the end of Rose’s bent legs, an uncharacteristic smile spread all over her wide face. The earlier embarrassment at her sisters viewing parts of her she herself had never seen, had long since disappeared. She’d never felt more grateful for their presence nor more at ease. Marigold had already birthed two of her own as well as taking in a couple of evacuees at the start of the war, while Flora was just a natural at being organised; the clever one of the family. ‘Got a good pair of lungs on her too!’ said Marigold. ‘Time to give this beauty a nice clean and you can hold her,’ said Flora in that voice adults seemed to have hidden most of the time, yet regularly pulled out for babies and little children. Perhaps Rose herself would talk that way to the little one from now on as she fed her, combed her hair (when she had some) and bathed her. Rose couldn’t wait for these instances that would define her new role as a mother. At the age of thirty-one and already married for six years, she’d been waiting for this moment her entire life. This was her chance to do better as a wife and finally be able to prove to Pete, her husband, that she wasn’t a bad wife for not giving him a child or whatever other reason he would come up with. He’d often remind her he could find better among the dead cows at the knackers yard where he worked. He probably could. She wasn’t that much of a good wife. She sometimes burnt the food even though they were living on precious government rations and at times let the dust settle on the sideboards where

their wedding photo and ornaments took pride of place. Pete hated dust, said it made him cough. When one day he placed both hands around her neck until she couldn’t help but splutter in panic, he simply said, ‘Now you know what it feels like,’ before releasing her. She was a bad wife, but this, motherhood, she could do. She’d lost her mother Lillian at a very young age and she and her sisters and brother had been raised by a succession of aunties and neighbours while her father, Albert, sat in a chair smoking a pipe and stroking his moustache, lamenting the loss of the only woman he’d ever loved. Just like he still did every single day of his miserable life. Out of a line-up of three girls and the much longed for son, Donald, who finally came along and, with him, a change that would affect their lives forever, Rose could admit she’d been the favoured one. Flora the middle girl was the forever spinster with ‘too many big ideas’ and ‘just not ladylike enough’, according to their father, with Marigold the plain and ‘big’ one. At least Rose was looked at as the one ‘pretty enough’ to secure a decent husband who would earn enough money to contribute to the family pot. Rose had wanted that too. Hoping at least for a husband who could be a better father than hers and perhaps be more like her little brother Donald who at least took an interest in her life. What she’d ended up with was a man who did odd jobs when he could, refused to contribute anything to the Baker family and stayed away at least three nights a week, showing up drunk and reeking of other women. This baby was so important. Five months ago, she’d stood between Pete and the wall, his hand tightened around her wrist, his thigh jammed in the space between her legs, his spittle landing on her cheek as he reeled
off all the reasons why he should leave and never come back. Just like he usually did after a row. When, finally, she had landed him with the biggest reason of all – ‘I’m having a baby, that’s why!’ – her eyes had stamped shut as she waited for what was next.

Instead, he’d gently pulled her into his arms, punching the air instead of her face and cheering with happiness. And for the next five months as the baby grew inside her, Pete began to behave differently; rubbing her swollen feet and letting her know almost every day that he had never loved her more. She thought – had believed – he would never hit her again and especially not with his baby inside her. So now it was only his words that stung and usually when he was too drunk to care. Marigold said this was good, an improvement, yet for Rose his words sometimes felt like punches. Rose’s new fear was that Pete would be upset the baby wasn’t a boy. He may have said he didn’t mind what she produced and wasn’t fussed, but Pete said a lot of things. Having promised never to hit her again (many times but especially since she was pregnant), he’d recently succumbed with a sharp tug of her chestnut-coloured hair just after breakfast, the morning he left to work at the knackers yard four days ago. ‘Look what you made me do!’ he’d whined. Her hand had gently caressed the side of her head, she imagined would be a pinky red, as her other hand smoothed over her swollen belly. Thankfully, her baby was safe inside, moving around like normal. Seconds later, he was apologising as he pulled a pack of cigarettes and matches from his pocket. ‘Anyway, you’ve got those meddling sisters of yours, you don’t need me around. I don’t know why you’re moaning about me going away, anyway. Having a baby is a women’s thing, so it’s best I get back when it’s all done and with a bit of cash in me pocket. You’re both going to need feeding.’ He lit the match and placed it to the tip of the cigarette. ‘You’ve still got another month and I’ll be back just before or on the dot. Don’t you worry.’ He’d dragged on the cigarette as she imagined the instant joy she’d feel in stubbing it right into his cheek. The sweet little mite was crying wildly now, a reassuring sound as Rose felt an enormous need to push again.

She screamed louder than she ever thought she could. Louder than when Pete had first struck her that second hour into their wedding. Louder than when he had ‘accidentally’ twisted her wrist when they had rowed about the woman at number twenty-three. ‘Ahhhhhh!’ Marigold looked on, open-mouthed as Flora, always the most organised and sensible, placed the new baby into Marigold’s arms. ‘Please stop this pain – ahhhhhh!’ Rose’s screams were louder than when she’d been told her mother was never coming home after giving birth to Donald. What if a similar fate awaited her too? The thought had rushed through her mind many times and she was extremely angry with herself for not making it to the hospital on time for her own emergency. But as Marigold had pointed out helpfully or unhelpfully, their mother had died giving birth in a hospital anyway. ‘Marigold, hold that baby tight over there,’ said Flora with a warning tone to her voice. ‘Something’s happening here!’ Rose held her tears inside, the pain preventing such a luxury. This wasn’t meant to be happening. This was it. She too was about to go the way of their mother and never see her child again. ‘Oh my . . . No . . . This can’t be!’ shouted Flora, her hands now embedded between her sister’s legs. ‘What?’ screamed Rose, in between each desperate pant. The pain kept coming at her like a huge tank, she imagined. Steamrolling over her entire body and then backing up to do it all over again. ‘Keep pushing!’ urged Flora, her own face red with concentration. Marigold moved closer, still clutching the baby. ‘I don’t believe this!’ ‘Someone tell me what’s going on? Ahhhhh!’ The pain seared through her with an intensity she had never known. Every part of her enlarged with pain.

‘It’s another one!’ said Flora. ‘Another what?’ yelled Rose. ‘It’s twins!!’ Those final pushes were the toughest. The screams were the most intense and even though her eyes were stamped shut, Rose knew it was enough. She’d done it. She’d released a second baby into the world and she couldn’t have been more surprised . . . or happier. Her tears of joy, instant as she opened her eyes, but when she clocked the expression locked on each of her sister’s faces, her smile dropped. ‘What is it? Is my baby okay?’ She could only hear the cries of the first baby. ‘It’s a girl. Another girl.’ Gone was the joy in Flora’s voice heard only moments earlier with the arrival of the first child. Even Marigold looked miserable, but then again, Marigold was regularly unable to keep a smile for long. ‘Can . . . can I see her? Why isn’t she crying?’ ‘I’m . . . Err . . . I’m just going to sort her out here . . . Clean her up . . .’ Something in Flora’s tone didn’t sit right with Rose. Of her three siblings, she and Flora were the closest. Although Rose was only just over a year younger, Flora was the one she looked up to. She’d been the first girl in their family to finish school with good marks and the first one to get a job long before women were expected to as part of the war effort. She even spoke proper too and Rose had always wanted to be like Flora. Not a spinster . . . No, not that, but to possess her strength and fearless attitude. Yet, the expression on Flora’s face was that of fear. ‘Flora, what’s that face for? What’s wrong with my baby?’ The loud and healthy cry from baby number two was reassuring and timely. ‘Nothing is wrong. There you go, a healthy pair of lungs.’ ‘You sure about that, Flora?’ added Marigold, rocking baby number one, Iris, in her arms. Pete and Rose had already decided

to name their baby Iris if it was a girl – in keeping with the flower theme of their family. For a boy, they had decided on Donald after her brother who was currently fighting the Jerries and who they hoped would soon be home. ‘Is there something wrong with my baby? Please tell me!’ ‘Once I give her a bath, everything will be okay. Marigold, give Rose the first baby.’ Marigold appeared to be dumbstruck, her eyes fixated on the baby in Flora’s arms. ‘Marigold, give her the baby!’ ‘Iris. Her name is Iris,’ said Rose. ‘Give little Iris to her. Go on!’ Rose’s fears quickly floated away as she once again held baby Iris against her tired body. The smell of her, the uniqueness of this moment, overwhelming and eclipsing any joy she had previously felt during her thirty-one years of life. In her arms was her very own child and a combination of her and Pete. Although the marriage had been a bit rocky of late, Iris was proof that everything had happened to lead her to now. This beautiful human being wrapped safely in her arms; this moment; this love. And she had two of these little blessings. Pete would love her so much after this. Their love would be rock solid and never, ever become fractured again. The love of two babies binding them together, forever. ‘Can I see my little Lily, now?’ the name rolled off her tongue effortlessly. Lily, a shortened version of their mother’s name, seemed so very fitting. ‘Lily . . . That’s a great choice,’ said Flora uneasily. There seemed to be a private conference going on between her sisters with Lily being at the centre of it. As Rose listened to the reassuring sound of her first daughter’s breath, she also longed for the second one. She wanted to be close to her and to be reassured of her existence. As Flora spoke, the expression on her face was grave. ‘I thought when I washed her, it would come off . . .’

‘What would come off?’ ‘Her colouring.’ ‘What?’ ‘Maybe in a few days. It’s probably a birth thing . . . you know because she’s the second one?’ Flora moved closer to the bed, a white sheet covering the unexpected second baby, Lily. Rose handed Marigold (herself looking as white as the sheet) baby Iris and held out her arms for Lily. She felt an intense rush of warmth as Flora placed the baby into her arms. Were they identical? Would they have similar personalities or be totally different? Her sore and aching body managed to embrace a feeling of joy as she imagined the future, which now appeared amazing and full of sparkling possibilities. The country may have been at war, but in that moment Rose could not have asked for more as she settled Lily into her arms. She opened the sheet, excited about seeing her baby for the very first time. Instead, her breath caught in her throat. Her eyes widened, her breathing accelerated. She couldn’t speak. Not a word. If not for the presence of two babies, there would not have been a single sound in that room. Then Marigold spoke. ‘If I hadn’t seen this myself I would have said the devil himself had come into the house this morning and did this. What. The. Hell. Is. That!?’

My Dearest Love,
I can still feel the harshness of the ground beneath my bare feet as I run towards my mama, as she calls us in to eat. I miss the smell of fresh cornbread and the sound of the birds chirping me awake in the morning. I also miss the sky as blue as the sea with the sunshine above the mammoth trees draped in Spanish moss as I trace the sweat dripping down to my cheek. Yes, this land of yours, Great Britain, has the birds, but it rarely has the sunlight.

Yet, one day, when I thought it was going to be just another grey day, the sun appeared in all its splendour. It was the day we arrived in the town of Alderberry and all those people were so welcoming to us. I couldn’t be sure if I and the other seven guys were part of that welcome, but it appeared we were. To every one of the British who came to greet us, ask our names and thank us for ‘helping get rid of the Jerries’, I was just another American soldier walking the cobbled streets like they were reclaiming the land of their forefathers! I admit it. I allowed the clapping and stares to go to my head. It wasn’t something I was used to. The staring yes, but not the clapping. Not in America and not among my comrades either. It made me feel like a hero. Cornel told me to tone it down a little and put my chest back in. Maybe I should have. But for once I wasn’t about to obey any orders. ‘We ain’t like them,’ he said. ‘Well, to these folks, we are!’ Cornel was my best friend in the army. We looked the same. And while we were stationed in areas far away from home and everything I had ever known we had a type of safety in numbers, strategy in defence of some of the other men, like Riker. Riker was from Augusta, Georgia and not too far from where I grew up in Savannah. And it’s because of this that he hated me the most. The guys from the North weren’t like Riker and his boys. They treated us well enough, didn’t adhere to Jim Crow, but they sometimes called us spooks or Nigger. I didn’t mind much . . . well I did . . . of course I did, but I was powerless in the face of it all. Just like I was when put on duties that really had nothing to do with fighting the Germans. I wanted to get in there and do what I had been sent to do – not clean out the bathrooms. But it wasn’t worth a dime to say anything. Cornel was right and we were not the same in the eyes of Riker and his men or the law of our own country. So, if in Great Britain, it seemed like we were men – then I was going to enjoy that feeling for as long as I could.

Riker and the others truly believed they were movie stars. Big time operators stopping to hand out gifts to the ladies and kids. If the lady was pretty, she would get a little more than some cigarettes or candy. More like some nylons and a promise to ‘see her later’. I’d never known of a man to get a date so easily! Back home, I’d had to patiently wait six weeks for just a kiss with sweet Augustine Jewson! How Riker and the other guys behaved was not my way and, even if it were, I and the other seven guys who looked like me would not be allowed to partake anyway. Instead, we simply ‘minded our business’ as Cornel would say. Content to enjoy the way you folks pronounced words like ‘water’ and to give out extra candy bars to anyone who even smiled our way. As we stood in and among the last of the gathered crowds, my mouth dry with all the talking and laughing with the British folk, one of the seven said something about going to a bar or a ‘pub’, for lunch. It was called the Black Dog and I found this name a little unfortunate, but I was assured by one of the local men that the name referred to a real black dog that used to gather sheep in the area. As usual, Cornel was being negative, saying – ‘Let’s just all go back to base. I ain’t going in no establishment called the Black Dog!’ – five of the guys ignored him and carried on in the direction of the pub. ‘You coming?’ asked Cornel. ‘This isn’t home, we’re in England now. The folks here have been nothing but cordial, nice and welcoming.’ ‘I don’t know where you living but back at the base, ain’t nothing changed.’ He was right about that. Men like Riker were still determined to keep up what they were used to back at home regardless of where we had landed – and drinking in the same area as them was not the done thing. Some drinking establishments had already agreed to rotating passes so that we Negro soldiers were never in on the same day as white soldiers. Not everyone in this village had agreed to that and this made me happy inside. It felt

like England and its people were not going to be hostile towards us and that was great. But of course that made no difference to men like Riker. Of course, I was about to follow Cornel back to base . . . But something or someone stopped me. I looked up again and there it was. A kind of vision that I hoped was real. ‘You go on up ahead, and I’ll meet you.’ That was a lie. Cornel was looking sour but I was not about to leave. Not at that moment. Maybe not ever, because I had just laid eyes on you, for the very first time. Back home in Savannah, it wasn’t hard for me to ignore the look of a woman – a white woman – because simply put, to look back could get me in serious trouble, even killed. Yet thousands of miles away, here in a British town called Alderberry, I tried once again to pretend that my way of life back home was far behind. I had to do that in combat anyway because I just couldn’t afford to think about those I had left behind. Yet still, I, William Burrell, dared to look back at you. I dared to catch your pretty smile. A moment, which locked me into a time and space I never wanted to come out of. You were the first white woman I had ever looked at in that way before. Maybe even the first woman. Not even Augustine Jewson or Marie A. Rhodes or Viola Jackson had held my time in such a way. I knew that image of you would remain in my mind like a flower in a bed of concrete. I mean no disrespect when I say this, but you weren’t Hollywood glamour like Gene Tierney, with your dressed-down flat shoes, your hair neatly styled, but with tendrils falling messily into your eyes, that to be honest did look a little tired. Yet, I could see they still sparkled with something. And looking at you gave me a sense of peace within the chaos. A calm I didn’t know I had missed. A sense of acceptance in a world where I was risking my life for a country that failed to even see me as a man.

‘Hello there,’ you said. I adored that accent as well as your brazenness. I’d overheard Riker and the others talking a lot about British women being very forward and willing to ‘give it up to a GI’ on the first night if alcohol and ‘fags’ were involved. I knew you’d be different. I just knew. ‘Why, hello. I’m William Burrell. How are you today, ma’am?’ ‘I’m fine, thank you, Mr Burrell.’ ‘You can call me Willie.’ ‘William will be fine.’ And there it was. Instant confirmation that what you already saw in me was more than what I had been used to. Men younger than I often referred to me, a grown man, as ‘boy’ while others just called me Willie. To me, Willie only ever sounded right coming from the lips of my mama and daddy and here stood you, beautiful sweet you, calling me by my full name and this just confirmed that everything I had felt in the ninety or so seconds we’d known one another was valid. It was real. You were not part of my wishful imagination. ‘May I ask you your name?’ I asked you. A firm nudge almost knocked me off my feet. ‘You should not be doing this,’ whispered Cornel into my ear. ‘I thought you were going back to base,’ I said, momentarily out of my trance. ‘I was until I saw you trying to commit a suicide.’ ‘Just being friendly to the lady.’ ‘Then be friendly to everyone, the same. Don’t put trouble on yourself. It’s not worth it. She ain’t worth it.’ As Cornel moved away, I turned back and you were gone. Luckily, my gaze found you slowly moving away from the crowds, that smile and then your hand telling me to follow. I stopped, remembering Cornell’s words along with thirty years of my own memories locked away in my head and refusing to leave me. My heart beat fast. I was in another world. In England. They didn’t do that here, did they?

I followed anyway and then you stopped and turned around, smiling at me once again, luring me further into your world and possibly a whole lot of trouble. Soon, only a muddy ground and an abundance of trees surrounded us. Lush greenery and the absence of others. There was just you and I. What if you screamed? ‘My name is Rose.’ I walked closer to you, so slowly and giving you a chance to change your mind; tell me this had all been a mistake. I should have thought about the possibility that this could be a trap but I knew you wouldn’t do that to me. I already trusted you. I already knew you. So, with my hand stretched out, I moved closer knowing as soon as our palms touched for the very first time, you’d become everything I never knew I needed.

Wartime Sweethearts Cover

Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with @knntom Keith Nixon #Author of, Dig Two Graves @GladiusPress #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Mystery @BOTBSPublicity

51xGbDptUXL
Dig Two Graves by Keith Nixon
Synopsis:

Was it suicide … or murder? Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray is driven to discover the truth. Whatever the personal cost.

When teenager Nick Buckingham tumbles from the fifth floor of an apartment block, Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray answers the call with a sick feeling in his stomach. The victim was just a kid, sixteen years old. And the exact age the detective’s son was, the son Gray has not seen since he went missing at a funfair ten years ago. Each case involving children haunts Gray with the reminder that his son may still be out there – or worse, dead. The seemingly open and shut case of suicide twists into a darker discovery. Buckingham and Gray have never met, so why is Gray’s number on the dead teenager’s mobile phone?

Gray begins to unravel a murky world of abuse, lies, and corruption. And when the body of Reverend David Hill is found shot to death in the vestry of Gray’s old church, Gray wonders how far the depravity stretches and who might be next. Nothing seems connected, and yet there is one common thread: Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray, himself. As the bodies pile up, Gray must face his own demons and his son’s abduction.

Crippled by loss Gray takes the first step on the long road of redemption. But is the killer closer to home than he realised?

Q&A:

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

A) Right now home is in the North West of the UK, near Manchester, but I lived in Broadstairs on the Isle of Thanet, where I base all my books, for 17 years. All three of my children were born there and we still go back periodically to see friends so I know the area and its people very well.

I’ve been writing on and off since I was 9 years old, it’s always been a ‘thing’ for me. However, I really put my nose to the grindstone about twelve years ago when I started pulling together some ideas for a historical fiction novel (The Eagle’s Shadow) about the Roman invasion of Britain – the Romans’ landing site was just a few miles away from where I lived.

However, these days I primarily write crime / thriller – all my work has a strong mystery element to it. I moved into crime when I got made redundant during the credit crunch. I’d had a bad experience with my management and writing about killing somebody was the best legal way of ‘getting away with it’ so to speak.

Dig Two Graves is the first book in a major new series with Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray as the protagonist. Again it’s Margate based. Gray’s son, Tom went missing a decade ago and he’s never really got over it (who would?!). He’s no idea what happened to Tom; whether he’s alive or dead. He’s in a bit of an emotional hole, but not ready to give up. When the body of a teenager turns up who’s the same age as Tom, Gray’s life gets turned upside down because although Gray and the seeming suicide have never met why is Gray’s number on the kid’s mobile?

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

A) My writing process is a mixture of development and evolution. As always it starts with one kernel of an idea and grows from there. More often than not that original idea morphs into something else as I work the story.

First I get an idea of who the characters are, where they are in their lives, as all stories emerge through people. Then I’ll start to do some research (for example into County Lines drug sales which was the basis of a recent book) while pulling together a chapter list and the broad ideas that’ll occur at each stage.

Finally, when I feel there’s enough of an outline, I start writing. The story goes on from there, the narrative shifts as more ideas come – that’s the evolution aspect.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Anything by Ian Rankin – he’s the reason I moved into crime, specifically his breakout novel, Black & Blue.

Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May novels are vastly under-rated reads.

M.W. Craven’s Washington Poe series too – starting with The Puppet Show. Gruesomely brilliant.

Tim Baker – his CWA nominated Fever City is superb.

And I think we should be supporting indie authors. If you like hard hitting noir look out Martin Stanley’s Stanton Brother’s novels or anything by Mark Wilson. Both are hard-working writers.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I read a huge amount when I was a kid. Starting with the usual – Enid Blyton’s ‘Five’ mystery stories. Then I moved onto sci-fi – Isaac Asimov and Michael Moorcock in particular, before gravitating onto 1970’s and 1980’s thrillers – Douglas Reeman, Alistair Maclean etc.

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

A) That’s a really, really difficult one. My career as a writer has been a series of ups and downs, thankfully more the former than the latter. Every year and with each book new stuff happens. A major highlight has been with Dig Two Graves, however. I got the chance to work with a brilliant editing team (award winning writer Allan Guthrie and Eleanor Abraham), had an audio book out (read by London’s burning Ben Onwokwe) and a German translation. But fundamentally I learnt a huge amount as a writer. And I still am.

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

A) First & foremost my wife. She was a bit dubious at first until she read my first crime novel. And the aforementioned Mr Guthrie. He’s been an amazing mentor and made me a better writer. He’s the little devil constantly sitting on my shoulder telling me what I’ve just written needs to be better…

arches 1
Keith Nixon
Website
Twitter

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour & apologies for my late post***
DIG TWO GRAVESby Keith NixonBLOG TOUR (1)

Anne Bonny Q&A with @davidtallerman #Author of, The Bad Neighbour #CrimeFiction #Leeds @flametreepress

cover
The Bad Neighbour by David Tallerman
Synopsis:

When part-time teacher Ollie Clay panic-buys a rundown house in the outskirts of Leeds, he soon recognises his mistake. His new neighbour, Chas Walker, is an antisocial thug, and Ollie’s suspicions raise links to a local hate group. With Ollie’s life unravelling rapidly, he feels his choices dwindling: his situation is intolerable and only standing up to Chas can change it. But Ollie has his own history of violence, and increasingly, his own secrets to hide; and Chas may be more than the mindless yob he appears to be. As their conflict spills over into the wider world, Ollie will come to learn that there are worse problems in life than one bad neighbour.

Q&A:

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

A) I don’t know that there was a single idea, more a lot of nebulous somethings floating around a certain period in my life, when I moved back to the north of England and, like Ollie, bought a very cheap house in a relatively poor area, after months of looking at mostly grim and grotty properties. There was a lot in that experience that felt like it could be explored, and that I’d never really seen addressed anywhere else. But I guess the catalyst was the point when I found out, to my shock, that there was no dividing wall in my roof space and so nothing to separate me and my neighbour. That was really the point where all of the ideas began to swirl together and become the core of what felt like it could be a novel.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Well, my favourite authors would take too long to list, but the ones that led me to shift toward writing crime after a decade as primarily a fantasy and science-fiction author were the excellent Charlie Huston, whose Hank Thompson trilogy was a definite influence, and Geoffrey Household, whose classic Rogue Male is surely the best thriller I’ve ever read. But, since I read a lot of nonfiction as research for The Bad Neighbour, I should put in a nod to that as well: Mathew Collins’s Hate was probably the best of those, a vital insight into what draws people to extreme right-wing politics and then what keeps them in that crowd when any idiot could see it’s not a great place to be.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) How far back are we going? At one time and another, I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton, Willard Price, series like The Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators, and C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books. All of which probably makes me sound a bit older than I am; I pretty much lived on second hand books! By the time I hit double figures I’d graduated to more adult fantasy and science-fiction – I remember Frank Herbert’s The Green Brain as making a huge impression, and Asimov was an early favourite – and also to classic authors like Joseph Conrad and Henry James. Somewhere in the midst of that muddle I think you can find the roots of the kind of stories I’ve grown up to tell!

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

A) I used to be quite shy, and one of the biggest shocks of being published was that suddenly I was expected to sit on stages and talk in front of crowds of people. My first panel was probably the biggest I’ve done and was a hell of a wakeup call! But I realised quickly that I loved doing that stuff, and went from being terrified to appear on panels to cheerfully moderating them at any chance I got. I think the ultimate point in that process was when my frequent editor Lee Harris talked me into an event where me and a bunch of other writers had to concoct stories based on random prompts in precisely sixty seconds. It was exactly as difficult and terrifying as it sounds, or maybe a thousand times more difficult and terrifying than that, I’d never put myself through something like that again, and it was a total blast.

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

A) I’ve had different readers on different books, and a great many people have been supportive in various ways over the course of my career, but the one person who’s always been willing to read my work, and critique it, and fight me like a sonofabitch if he feels something doesn’t work, is my friend Tom Rice. I think he’s beta read every book I’ve written, as well as a fair few short stories, and I honestly don’t know how I’d do this stuff without him anymore.

DT
David Tallerman
Twitter
Website

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

cover
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.

natalie hart author pic 2
Natalie Hart
Twitter

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***

Pieces of Me Blog Tour Banner

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

cover
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
Website
Twitter

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
The Reckoning Blog Tour Banner