Saturday 31 December 2011

WoW! Writing Magazine.

Posting out of turn on grounds of excitement. I'm the featured writer for February  in Writing Magazine's Debut Author slot, being interviewed by thriller writer Adrian Magson. Talking, naturally, about Never Coming Home, and about the journey to publication with Choc-Lit.

What a great way to begin 2012. The start of a memorable year?

Wednesday 28 December 2011

A Life in Chocolate

As you might guess, being published by a company called Choc-Lit means that chocolate features rather heavily in the lives of its authors.

At this time of year selection boxes are high on the list of gifts given and received, and this also happens to be one of the favourite ways of describing the novel selection offered by Choc-Lit, to help guide readers to the type of book they might enjoy. It's a handy device. I can make it clear that my writing is at the dark end of the box. If you're looking for sweet romance, this is not the place. Villains, a high body count and an even higher heart rate - from thrills and passion - that's me.

The authors also play the game of matching characters to types of chocolate. In the case of Kaz - heroine of Never Coming Home - I can't resist matching her to some of the unusual combinations appearing from artisan chocolate makers that involve flowers. I've sampled milk chocolate petals containing strawberry and geranium from fair trade choccygirls, Plush, over the holiday - delicious and reminiscent of Turkish Delight. They're perfect for Kaz as she's a gardener by profession. And Devlin? Definitely the darkest chocolate you can get. He's a man without a past, so there's not too much to know about him, until Kaz begins to get close and persuades him to talk! So - he'd probably be a very simple bar of dark chocolate - the finest and the richest, to reflect his complex personality - whatever he thinks about himself, I think he deserves the best.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

So - How do they spend Christmas?

The celebrations over at the Choc-Lit blog got me wondering. How would the key players in Never Coming Home spend Christmas?
For Suzanne - my heroine's mother, the theme would be glamour and elegance. A fashion model in the late 60s and early 70s and later the muse and companion of a world famous artist, her emphasis has always been on style, even in her days as a flower child. I can see her shopping in Harrods and Harvey Nichols, hopping on Euro star to hit the boutiques of Paris, or picking out distinctive gifts at Christmas craft markets in atmospheric cities like Bath or Lincoln - or even further afield in France and Germany. She'd be sure to find some special hand-made tree decorations, to entrance her granddaughter, and probably some edible goodies, to add spice to her own entertaining.
Christmas Eve would be spent in cocktails with friends, followed by dinner, wearing Vivienne Westwood or vintage Dior. After a leisurely breakfast on Christmas morning, it would be a short, brisk walk to her daughter's house in Chelsea, in time for present opening and to help with dinner.

For Kaz, Christmas would be a lot more hectic. Juggling her gardening business - clients wanting their winter gardens in top condition for their holiday entertaining - with preparations for giving her small daughter the time of her life. As a recently divorced single parent Kaz tries hard, perhaps too hard, to ensure that Jamie doesn't miss out on anything. Raised in a bohemian artistic community, whether in a palazzo in Venice or a chateau in France, Kaz craves the traditional and cosy. She's clear-sighted enough to know that some of the effort she puts in for Jamie is for herself too.
So- the house will be decorated using foliage and berries, along with fairy lights and tinsel, the tree will be tall, and trimmed with classic decorations that she hopes will be passed on and treasured by her daughter, when she grows up to have a home and family of her own. Kaz probably won't get out of her jeans, until shooed upstairs by her mother to put on something festive on Christmas night. Christmas Eve will find her hosting a group of excited five-year-olds for her daughter's birthday celebrations, then trying to stuff far too many small presents into an overflowing stocking, helping Jamie leave out the home made mince pie - a little crumbly, but made together, with love and laughter - for Santa, plus carrots and sugar lumps for his reindeer, and wondering if the turkey really is too big for the oven.

That's Suzanne and Kaz's Christmas. At least it was. Until tragedy struck, leaving only grief in its wake.

Devlin's Christmases have been ... well, somewhat different. While he was working for an unacknowledged Government Agency, on assignment, deep under cover, it was enough to make it through the day, like any other day, and still be breathing at the end of it. Since he's been 'retired' and working as a security consultant in America, he's taken delivery of a very flash and fast hire car on December 24th and simply pointed it at the road. He's spent Christmas in bars in one-horse towns, in diners in the middle of nowhere, in fancy hotels and flea pit motels, all across the States. Wherever he happened to be where hunger or tiredness hit.
This is a guy who's faced death on a day to day basis. But, the scariest thing of all? Trying to do Christmas as part of a family. If you've ever seen a hard man panic, this would be it.
But, if he's going to have a Happy Ever After, and I really do want that to happen, he's going to have to put some work in.
And there would be Christmas things he'd be good at. Like - anything that requires analysis and heavy lifting - from selecting the tree, to carrying home the turkey - and hauling it into the oven. He'd be a perfect escort to a festive ice rink, or fair ground, especially one with white knuckle rides. He'd be excellent at making space near the front at open air events and parades, although that air of contained menace might not be exactly in the festive spirit.
The softer stuff, cards, candles, wrapping paper - that's going to take a while. But anything is possible with sufficient motivation. And what better motivation than love?
There is one thing I'm sure of. He knows exactly what to do when it comes to mistletoe.
On that, he's a expert.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Christmas In Character

From Monday 19th December, over on the Choc-Lit site, the author team will be blogging the not quite twelve days of Christmas.  I’ll be doing my bit, talking about the guy I’d like to find beside my tree on Christmas morning, amongst other things. There will be loads of reminiscences, recipes and revelations from the Choc-Lit ladies, and maybe a few Christmas surprises for a few lucky blog followers. There are ten of us Choc-lit authors now – Liz and Henri have just joined the group, with fabulous books to be published in 2013. Both are graduates of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme – which means that Choc-Lit will have two candidates in the lineup for the NWS New Writer’s Award in 2012 – that’s Linda and me, and two more in 2013! Not bad, for a niche Indie publisher. I’m really looking forward to the awards party, but that’s not until next May – lots of other stuff going on before then. Like the launch of a certain book …
Talking of parties – of course it’s the party season, and thinking of all things Christmassy got me wondering how the characters in Never Coming Home would celebrate.
So, next Wednesday I’ll be spending a little quality time in pre-Christmas preparation with Kaz and her mother Suzanne. For Suzanne, an ex-model and muse of a famous artist, the theme will be elegance. As a single parent, Kaz will be trying, perhaps a little too hard, to make a fun-filled and memorable day for her small daughter.
And then there’s Devlin.
This is a man who can face down abductors, assassins and serial killers – but do you want to know the words that can bring a hero who prides himself on his icy control out in a cold sweat?
I think you can guess what they are. That innocent little phrase family Christmas.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

All I want for an e-Christmas

All I want for Christmas -- is an e-book reader.  I'm not that much of a gadget person, but this is one piece of kit I do covet.  The idea of all those books (the voice drops and eyes glisten manically) stored on something the size of one paperback.

I'm a compulsive reader – I read anything from the back of the cornflakes packet to the heavy scholastic tomes.  You know, the ones that break your knee trying to keep them on your lap.  Quite a few of those around the house these days, although I don't always claim to understand what's in them.  This compulsion to read is inherited.  My mother and my grandmother are/were the same.  Is this in the genes or is it learned behaviour?  I've no idea, but whatever it is, I know I get close to panic if I'm stuck somewhere with nothing to read. Or if I think that my stack of books To Be Read is going down.  Now that one is just plain daft, because like any academic /writer/reader, the house is groaning at the seams with books -- but somehow those are  'best' books -- for special purposes or occasions, like going on holiday.  But when the pile of everyday books -- the ones from the library -- starts to go down, that's when the terror starts to mount.  And an e-book reader -- books, just a click away, and no need to buy yet another bookcase to put the little blighters in -- bliss. 

I already have my electronic TBR pile -- a number of my fellow American Title contestants are e-book published -- Savannah and Pat, Edie from ATV who is proving very successful at self publishing, Barbara who has recently debuted with Harlequin’s e-book imprint Carina.  Then there are other writers who have careers based almost solely on e-books, like Lynn Connolly.  One of her latest, Bloody Crystal, features vampires in Llandudno.  I used to visit Llandudno quite regularly when I was working on things involving the Welsh Assembly; it's a favourite Welsh conference centre. When I was there I never encountered any sexy vampires -- clearly I was missing something.
All those books, just waiting. So - an e-book reader is definitely on my list for Santa Claus.