Friday 1 May 2015

Doubting Abbey in the shops!

I am so happy to share with you that from late summer, Doubting Abbey will be appearing in The Works stores across the UK! 

For non-UK citizens, The Works is a brill discount books/craft/stationery shop, that charts its books on line and has 350 stores across the country.

Whilst I love the flexibility and fast turnaround of digital publishing, it will be very special to hold my debut book in my hands. 

I suspect its launch will cue selfies of myself, next to my book, in various branches of The Works across the country!

So, cheers!

Tuesday 14 April 2015

All About The Passion


Next Monday 20th April sees the launch of my fourth romantic comedy novel, Game of Scones. And I am a huge fan of its namesake, the hugely successful series of books and TV shows, Game of Thrones.  I recently discussed with someone why I love the programme so much, and I think it’s because George R R Martin succeeds in making me feel passion for the characters – be that love, hate, sympathy or empathy.

Indeed, when writing my own books, I have to feel passionately about any character, to include them in the story. In my debut, Doubting Abbey, I felt a huge affection for pizza waitress, Gemma, a loyal friend who agrees to try and pass herself off as an aristocrat for two weeks, in order to win a reality show and save a crumbling stately home.  I also felt strongly about uptight, superior Lord Edward, who eventually falls for her charm.

In Game of Scones there are three characters who have filled my thoughts and made me experience a whole range of emotions over the last few months and I was sorry to leave the writing of the passionately created first draft, when typing The End.

Firstly Pippa, a successful executive with a secret longing to leave the Rat Race and run an afternoon tea shop. She is continually torn between her head and heart and I can relate to that. Certainly as we age, life becomes more about what we should do, rather than just following our heart and instincts. On returning to the sleepy village of Taxos in Greece, where Pippa spent many a happy childhood holiday, she is reminded of what life is like in a place where families live close together, neighbours look out for each other and the simple things in life give enormous pleasure – like a fresh feta cheese and olive salad, or evening dip in the azure Aegean waters... A far cry from her fast-paced, dusty London life.

Henrik is her suave, organised half-Dutch property developer boyfriend. Tall, blonde and slick, he is caring, considerate and ambitious. He takes huge pride in Pippa’s professional success and is extremely proud of her. He is also happy to do the washing-up – who could be more perfect?  Except, as the story continues, we see that he does have flaws and similar to Pippa, he too has decisions to make about following his logical head or his romantic desires.

Niko, the flirty, cheeky Greek fisherman who was good friends with Pippa when she was a child... Hmm, mocha eyes, caramel skin, and a devastatingly intense gaze, what’s not to like? Except that he’s clearly hiding something from the beginning and throughout the book we see him wrestle with some inner conflict.

So for me, it’s all about the passion when creating my characters. They have to have appealing traits – but also flaws. And inner conflict, that’s the most intriguing thing, as, like the popular meme says, that often gets shared around Facebook: “Everyone is fighting their own battle. Be kind.”

Tuesday 3 February 2015

I'm going to Downton Abbey!!

I am  SUPER excited to have just booked tickets to visit Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed - I'll be touring the castle, gardens and a Tutankhamun exhibition there. The tickets sell like hotcakes - I missed the boat for the spring ones. Summer tickets have gone on sale today, so if you are as obsessed with the TV series as me, and want to go, don't delay - they'll be gone before you can say Countess Dowager!

Here is the link:

And if you need an aristocratic read to get you in the mood, Doubting Abbey is currently just £1.00!

Friday 23 January 2015

Doubting Abbey In Reverse!

Doubting Abbey is the story of a pizza waitress who has to pass herself off as an aristocrat - and a fellow Carina author, the very talented TA Williams - Trevor to you and me - has just seen his latest book published, What Happens In Tuscany, and it is a kind of Doubting Abbey in reverse...Here's the wonderful cover and blurb:

From rainy England…

Katie never imagined her life was perfect. But when she finds herself on a rainy street, soaked to the bone and with only a cheating boyfriend and a dead-end job keeping her in town, she knows something has to change. Which is what leads her to Iddlescombe Manor, to be companion to Victoria Chalker-Pyne the only 25-year-old Katie’s ever met who hasn’t heard of Twitter, hasn’t used a computer, and desperately needs an education in the 21st century!

…to the Tuscan sun!

But it wouldn’t be an education without a summer holiday and where better than Tuscany? Decamping to Victorias family villa, it’s soon clear that this place really does have it all: sun, sea…and some seriously gorgeous neighbours. The only question is: when the weather’s this hot, the wine is this smooth and the men are this irresistible…will Katie ever want to make the journey home?

I thought it might be fun to invite Trevor over and find out a little more about the inspiration behind the book and why he enjoys writing for women...

Hi Trevor - how easily does Victoria take to her lessons about modern life? 

Amazingly easily. You see, for years she’s been cooped up by her crazy, overprotective dad and now, after his death, she realises she has got a lot of catching up to do. She is bright enough to realise that she needs somebody to help her. In fact it’s Victoria herself who comes up with the idea of looking for a guide or mentor. And that’s where Katie comes in. She’s five years older (30) and she is a teacher. She quickly realises that Victoria is a 15 year old in a 25 year old’s body and she does her best to guide her step by step down the road to modernity. Victoria takes to it like a duck to water.

What does she find most difficult? 

Predictably, the area where Victoria has most trouble is with men. She has inherited her father immense wealth and her mother’s good looks, but she has totally missed out on the tentative adolescent first experiences with the opposite sex the rest of us had. Before long, the vultures are circling. Katie sits down with her and has The Talk. Afterwards, she tells Victoria that, even after teaching sex education to teenagers, this was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. In particular she gives Victoria this valuable piece of advice:

‘Listen Vicky. They say that when God invented man, He gave him enough blood to work his brain or his penis, but not both at the same time.’ 

Who is your favourite character in the book?

Difficult question. I suppose it’s a tie between Katie who is the main character and through whose eyes we see everything and Dante. Dante is reliable, comforting, strong, very handsome and a Labrador. I’ve already had a couple of reviewers telling me they have fallen in love with Dante. There’s something about a sleek, dark-haired Italian with big brown eyes, even if he has four legs and a tail. Katie is my hero. I mean, she is not only the main character, but the one who holds it all together. We see her at the start of the book at a low ebb. She has just dumped her slob of a boyfriend and has jacked in the job she hated. She’s scouring the papers for jobs, terrified that she’ll end up working in a fast food shop, selling burgers to her former students. But she goes for it. She meets adversity along the way, but she fights it. I like Katie a lot.

What was the inspiration for the story - do you like modern life? 

Mmh, interesting question. I suppose there is a part of me that finds modern life a bit daunting. Bear in mind that when I was born, TV was in black and white, Bruce Forsythe was still a teenager and if anybody had said, ‘I’ll have to Google that. I’ll tweet about it when I find the ap,’ they would probably have been frogmarched off to the funny farm. The other reason is linguistic. My previous book, When Alice Met Danny, had sold quite well and has collected some very good reviews. A recurring objection by a few reviewers was that my language was “too old-fashioned”. It occurred to me that I might not be the only person with that sort of problem so I transposed my linguistic anachronisms onto a modern girl. Victoria has been fed a diet of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, and a good part of Katie’s job is to correct her speech. I sympathise

Why do you particularly like writing for women and what do you find easy/challenging about it? 

All my books up till last year have had male main protagonists. I’ve written bloodthirsty thrillers and tales of medieval knights. Men dominated the Middle Ages and so my books reflected that. The fact is, however, that I have worked among women pretty much all my life and I reckon I’ve got a reasonable handle on you lot by now. I spent my life before retiring running a big English language school. Most of the staff and most of the students were female. Add to that the fact that in our family, there was my wife and my daughter on one side of the great divide and Merlin the Labrador and me on the other. Now, heaven forbid that I should even begin to presume that I fully understand women (ask my wife; I’m nowhere near), but I think I do know enough to know that men and women aren’t as different as we think. The same stuff makes us angry or sad, some people are assertive, others submissive (ask EL James). My female characters are always competent, resourceful women. I haven’t met a lot of meek, passive women in my life and that’s reflected in my characters. And the other reason I like writing for women is that you buy the books. Allegedly 66% of books are bought by women, while men rely on football and videogames. Ultimately, as a writer, I have to imagine and invent stuff. I’ve never been a medieval knight and I’ve never been in the SAS. That doesn’t stop me writing about them. However, just as I have to check online to see how an MP5 automatic weapon works, so I have to check with my wife how a front-opening bra works. All it takes is a little research…

Sounds like a fab read - why not treat yourself! 

You can buy it on AmazonUK or !    


Wednesday 21 January 2015

Chance to win Highclere Castle merch!

Fancy the chance to win a fab Highclere Castle drinks coaster and bookmark? Then just pop over to twitter and retweet this tweet, plus follow me, before midnight tonight, UK time - a winner will be picked randomly! Good luck!

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Hearts and Hangovers - Downton Christmas Special!

Oh my - wasn't the Downton Abbey Christmas Special just wonderful? (American viewers might want to look away now, to avoid SPOILERS.)

First of all...AT LAST! Mrs Hughes and Carson - I have been waiting years, literally, for one of them to express their feelings to the other. And, in keeping with both characters, it was done with dignity. I can't wait to see how their relationship plays out during the next season.

On a sadder note, I really felt for the Dowager Countess and her Russian Prince - what a life led by duty which, she nevertheless felt, had kept her on the straight and narrow. The core of the Countess' no-nonsense personality came through when she explained why she'd felt grateful to the Prince's wife. In spite of her young broken heart, in hindsight she could see that pursuing a forbidden passion would have led to a shameful, unstable existence. I do hope, contrary to her belief, that she still has time to receive another indecent proposal.

I was relieved to see Anna released from prison, although wary at the possibility that she might eventually have to go back. For me this storyline is dragging and I'd rather the Bates couple move on from this intermittent misery and the memory of vile Green be buried forever - how about a pregnancy please?!

A delight of this episode was seeing Lord Crawley a bit tipsy - scenes perfectly played by the equally delightful Hugh Bonneville.  It almost made up for seeing Branson leave. He'll be missed by viewers and fellow fictional characters no doubt. I hope he returns one day.

So all in all, a super show, which left me feeling good and wanting more. Roll on autumn 2015!

Thursday 20 November 2014

Missing Downton?

Missing Downton? Yes, me too - although I didn't enjoy the last series quite as much as previous ones. For me there wasn't enough drama or tense enough cliffhangers at the end.

Having said that, I am still thrilled there will be another series next year. I'd tune in just for the sumptuous costumes and settings - and of course the dry comments from the Dowager Countess and Carson!

Anyway, if you fancy a fun, aristocratic read to tide you over, why not try Doubting Abbey which has just been reduced to a bargain price of £1.19!!