Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Less than a week to go!

 It's getting closer! A Wedding on the Riviera is released on 22 September as an e-book, with an audio version to follow. 

Although it's my fifth book for publisher Choc-Lit, it doesn't get any less exciting, or scary, especially now, as I have not had a book out for nearly two years. I know people a pre-ordering it, because it's in the top ten hot new releases on Amazon for French Travel. This is good, but - the big question - will readers like it? It has a couple of pre-publication reviews on Goodreads, and they seemed to, so I can only hope. 

I've been frantically busy, doing blog posts for lots of fellow authors who have kindly invited me to chat to them about the book and life in general, so you will be seeing me about a lot next week. The audio version is being recorded this week too, with the same narrator as What Happens at Christmas - David Thorpe, which is nice to know.  It's a very weird experience having someone voice your words, but I know I am in careful hands. 

Once blog day comes around next week, the book will out. Then we shall see. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Are you ready for the most fabulous wedding?

Save the date! A Wedding on the Riviera is out on 22nd September. That's just under two weeks time. Time to buy a new hat. And you will need one, because this is a very upmarket wedding.

There's the venue for a start - an amazing Art Deco Villa in the South of France, with stunning flower filled terraces leading down to the sea and even  it's own chapel. And with Cassie from Summer in San Remo doing the organising, and husband Jake picking up the bills, you know it is going to be unbelievably OTT.

As you might have guessed, I had a ball inventing the wedding for the book. Lots of research, to find out all the details that I might include. That was hard work, of course, but authors have to make sacrifices for their readers...

Then, as a gloss on top, I added anything else that I could think of to make it truly spectacular. Flowers, music, scents, food - it was a blast. A harpist, a string quartet, a specially created fragrance, masses of orchids and roses... I got to help Nadine pick out her wedding dress too. At Cassie's prompting she chose something slightly unusual, and I really enjoyed writing that scene.

As a genre, women's commercial fiction has lots of books that feature weddings. Often all the preparation is a time of tension, family feuds, bridezillas. I didn't have to cope with any of that. No stressed bride, fractious bridesmaids and interfering mother and mother in law.

If I wanted a cake covered in edible flowers, like the one I saw a few years ago in the craft tent at the Hampton Court Flower Show, I could have it. The wedding is initially part of the sting operation that is the plot of the novel, the means to trap a con man. But then... Well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

I don't think you will be disappointed. I had such fun creating my wedding on the Riviera, and I hope that fun comes across in the writing.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Now it's getting closer.

It's September. In three weeks time my fifth book, A Wedding on the Riviera, will be out in the world. In the run up to publication day there is a lot of writing of guest blog posts and interviews, all ready to go once the book is out. I'm knee deep in them now - they are particularly important to me, as it has been a longish gap since I last had a new book, so people have had plenty of time to forget me!

Writing romantic suspense, I get to approach things from two sides - love and crime. I'm doing posts for blogs that specialise  in romance and those that concentrate on crime. A romantic suspense novel has to be in balance. Perhaps that's why the genre appeals to me, as it is a balancing act, and I like things that are a bit of a challenge. I always say that I plot the crime and let the love story sort itself out, which is mostly true.  You know what your protagonists problems, strengths and weaknesses are, and the direction in which they need to go, but the way they reach their happy ending works out through their interactions with each other. And twined around it is the crime plot. That gives another layer - a peril, often life threatening, that adds a kick to the love affair.

Both sides have to dovetail and complement each other and be equally matched with time on the page, although it's always the love story that ends the book - the happy ever after. It's one of the things that I most enjoy, Real life can be messy and complicated, but in the pages of a book everything can be brought to a resolution.

One of the challenges of A Wedding on the Riviera was mixing a joyous celebration like a wedding with a very nasty con trick, another was that for stretches of the novel Nadine and Ryan are not physically together. I had to find ways of maintaining the emotional connection between them. The working out of the sting operation they are part of, has to match the development and unfolding of their attraction for each other. Have I managed all this? I hope so.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

The evolution of romantic suspense

If you speak to a UK writer of romance about the things that have inspired or influenced them, it's likely that the name Mary Stewart will be mentioned. Writing just after the Second World War, her books were the original romantic suspense - an independent heroine having sometimes alarming adventures in glamorous locations, with a complex hero involved in the action. Sound familiar? Yep, that's where I began.

There was considerable excitement therefore in the romantic community at the news that her first best seller, Madam Will You Talk, would be broadcast on BBC Radio. The first part was last Sunday, the second this coming one. If you missed it and would like to investigate, it's available on catch up HERE

It's difficult to  imagine the impact the books must have had in post war Britain. Escapism in its very essence. Locations that most people could only dream about visiting, warm weather, beautiful, often historic surroundings,  food and drink that still rationed Britons could only read about. And yes again, I'm still channeling all that too.

And then the heroine and hero. Her heroines are very modern women - they would be so now, but they must have been fantastic role models in the 1950s and 1960s, when many of the books first appeared.  They travel, often alone, they drive fast cars - Madam Will You Talk involves a car chase across Provence. They drink alcohol and smoke - more problematic now, but then a mark of modernity and independence. They get themselves into difficult situations and are not afraid to take risks. And they are open to the possibility of love.

Heroes are slightly more ambiguous. The books are written from the heroine's point of view, so often it's not so easy to gauge where the guy is coming from, and sometimes it is not entirely clear initially whether he is hero or villain, but they are always strong, capable and intriguing.

We've moved on a bit. I love the fact that I can write from the  male point of view, so you do know what he is thinking  and his vulnerabilities, underneath all that macho stuff.  Modern romantic suspense can be a bit more violent, and gruesome, on occasion.  My own body count can sometimes get to Jacobean proportions. These days the reader also goes beyond the bedroom door, but the originals still have their undercurrent of romantic tension.

I loved those books, and I know how much they have inspired me. Romance and mayhem, my kind of read.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Working in two dimensions

The first set of edits went back last week and when you are waiting for the second round it's a bit of a case of being in limbo. Head in one book while wanting to get on with the next. But that messes with your concentration, trying to create something new while still involved with the previous book. 

Not yet ready for new adventures. 

I've been working out time lines, which has been complicated as I'm working with four generations of two families. I spent Sunday morning working out how everyone's lives would overlap and whether A would still be alive when B was born, and if so, how old they would be. It got very tortuous, but I think I have cracked it. 

I also compromised on the creative side by working on a part of the story that will go back forty years and will be a self contained episode, told through old letters and journals and a rather unexpected and tragic discovery, that I'm not going to divulge just now. The whole book, although it's set in Portofino and will have plenty of glamour and sunshine, and a very beautiful garden, has quite a Gothic feel to it, as the story has deep roots. I'm enjoying the play between light and dark, which I think will develop as the thing grows. In the meantime the second edits have just arrived, so the new one goes on the back burner. Gone, but not forgotten.  

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Now it's real

A book really gets real when the cover is revealed and it's up for pre-order. So, A Wedding on the Riviera is now officially  real!

I'm thrilled with the cover. To me it says so much about the Riviera and the vibe I was trying to channel when I wrote the book - think Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief. Sports cars, a beautiful coast road, a glamorous couple falling in love...

Nadine and Ryan aren't exactly Grace and Cary, but they are chasing a thief on the Riviera. The book is about their love story, but as a follow on from Summer in San Remo there is also the chance to catch up with a few old friends. It's escapist holiday reading, but it does have it's darker moments, with a manipulative villain running a sophisticated con operation. Jake McQuire, the hero from Summer in San Remo heads a group of friends who are determined to bring him down, but things don't go quite as planned, for anyone. But that's why it's called romantic suspense!

It's on pre-order as an e-book now, so if you want to be sure of your copy on 22 September you can find the details HERE

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Still editing. With dates. Sort of.

The edits for A Wedding on the Riviera have made progress. It now has a new ending, with added murder. Well, you know what I'm like. I'm supposed to be working, so this will be short, but I hope, sweet. The book is a mix of dark and light, because well, you know, weddings, and I had so much fun creating the wedding of my heroine's dreams, but also bumping people off. I hope readers will find the contrasts ... interesting?

I've seen three projected covers - all are gorgeous, but I must admit I have a favourite. It all depends now on whether the publishers' tasting panel, who get consulted over the choice, think the same way. Fingers crossed that they do!

Whatever the choice, the cover reveal is on the calendar for next week, with the book to follow in September. That's fast. Eek!

Think I'd better get back to those edits.