Wednesday 27 February 2013

Updates and Social Engagements

I think it's time for a run down of what's happening in the run up to Publication Day for Out of Sight Out of Mind - and beyond.

First off, my website has had an update if you'd like to take a look.

There will be contests and competitions over at Choc Lit on the way to publication day, to win books and, of course, chocolate. Check that out at Facebook and on Twitter.

I'll be appearing on various blogs and review sites, talking about the book - updates on those nearer the time.

And as for personal appearances this year - I will be at the RT Booklovers' Convention in Kansas City in May. I first attended the convention in Pittsburgh, as a finalist in the American Title contest, and promised myself that I would be back when I was a published author. Well, that time has come - I will be one of a team of authors from Choc Lit who will be at the convention in May.

Also in May I will be at Crimefest, in Bristol, appearing on a panel entitled - Crime & Crossover: Different Genres, Different Audience? It's an international mix of authors who all combine Something Else with their crime - in my case, of course, romance. It sounds like it will be fun.

In September I will be giving a talk at the Tenby Festival - as Out of Sight Out of Mind is set partially in Tenby, it will be lovely to be there to be part of the celebrations.

I'll be posting more details of all these events, as they loom on the horizon.

In the meantime, please remember just one date
Paperback publication of Out of Sight Out of Mind - 7th March 2013.

Sunday 24 February 2013

History Undressed Cardiff Castle

This week I had the opportunity to talk to Eliza Knight, of History Undressed,  about Cardiff Castle - a Victorian extravaganza.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

In the Mood - The Inspiration Files

Authors are frequently asked, 'Where do you get your ideas?' And 'What inspires you?' 

In the case of ideas, the answer is probably 'everywhere'. Often I don't have a specific point where an idea comes -- small snippets quietly lock together -- a thought that has not fitted anywhere will suddenly slot into something else.  And also there's the influence of the characters -- they shape the story in the way that they want it to go. Research too can point you in the correct direction. 

Inspiration is slightly different.  I've been thinking about this in relation to the launch of Out of Sight Out of Mind.  I know I'll have to talk a lot about the book in the coming weeks.  And when talking about it, I know  that the question about inspiration will occur. It's not an easy one to answer.  A lot of things 'inspire' me, but they are not always obvious and they don't necessarily feed directly into the story.  What they give me is a moment, a feeling, an atmosphere.  Romantic thrillers are all about evoking emotions -- emotions at the extremes of human experience -- fear and love.

So the atmosphere of a book is important to me. It is something that puts me in the place where the book is -- and that place could be a matter of geography, but it can also be an emotional location -- a feeling, a memory.  On impulse I made a list, (I love lists!) and I came up with quite a number of things that you could say 'inspire' me.  Some of these are tangible -- particular places and buildings and events.  Others are things that are traditionally viewed as inspiring -- art, music, literature. Some are what I would class as 'edgy' -- quick flashes of ... something ... the appeal of lights in the darkness, the sound of bells, crossing borders and Rubicons, time and certain hours of the day -- things that provoke an emotional response, that may not always be easily explained.  Looking at the list, I realised there are some interesting things there -- things that I'd like to explore further, on the blog.  So there you have it -- an intermittent series of future posts -- The Inspiration Files.  I hope you will find them as interesting as I do.

Thursday 14 February 2013

A Valentine Surprise! Single Titles Reviewers' Choice Award

What a fabulous Valentine surprise. No, not red roses from the man of my dreams - I'm still working on that one - but an e-mail from Single Titles to tell me that Never Coming Home has won a Reviewers' Choice Award for 2012.

Single Titles is one of the CataNetwork of review sites and I am thrilled and excited that they enjoyed Never Coming Home and made it one of their award winners.

I'm proud to display the winners' logo.

Now, where did I put that champagne ...

Single Titles

Wednesday 13 February 2013

A darker kind of heart.

It’s Valentines day tomorrow. I expect you’re wondering about the poster for the play Tis Pity She's a Whore that I’ve selected to illustrate this post. 

Well, it’s like this … I write romantic suspense, so frightening readers, as well as writing a love story, is part of the job. Last month I was talking about the heart as a symbol of love, and the celebration of St Dwynwen’s day. But the heart doesn't have to be about finding true love -- it can also have its dark side – I'm thinking of another symbol, a heart pierced by an arrow.  Maybe it's Cupid's arrow, but maybe it's not? And what about a heart pierced by a dagger, a motif often seen in traditional tattoos. A signifier of  heartbreak? 

The heart is at the centre of being human -- you don't function long without one, unless you're a vampire -- so ripping the heart out of something is very much bringing it to an end.  A violent end.  

I've been thinking about dark representations of the heart in plays and books. As you do. All right, as I do! One of my favourite Shakespeare quotations is from Much Ado About Nothing, where Beatrice, intent on revenge for her disgraced cousin, expresses the bloodthirsty wish to eat Claudio's heart in the marketplace.  It is a wonderful depiction of female frustration, grief and fury, one that many women might identify with.  Mary Stewart -- a romantic suspense author that many romance writers cite as an early influence -- takes that a gruesome step further in This Rough Magic -- I won't spoil it by saying any more, if you haven't read the book. It's one of those breathtaking moments when an author manages to horrify you and make you laugh, all at the same time.  

And what about  Tis Pity  -- it's the blackest of Jacobean plays with the central theme of the passionate and unnatural love of a brother for his sister, and a blood drenched coup de theatre at the end.  My first recollection of seeing the play performed was at the National Theatre, in London. Rupert Graves (now playing Inspector Lestrade, in the Sherlock series) was Giovanni, the incestuous brother. My overwhelming image from the performance is of him crossing the stage, with his sister's heart on his dagger.  I was in the cheap seats, right in the front, and got the full benefit.  I knew it was probably only a sponge liberally dipped in stage blood, but it didn’t look like it.  My most recent experience of the play was a production by Cheek By Jowl, at the Bristol Old Vic, hence the poster.  Modern dress, with a distinctly vampire theme – a stunning production for the True Blood generation, which included Giovanni, mentally well past the point of no return, sitting on the bed, cradling his sister's bloody heart.  This one was even more realistic, but I knew it was coming, and it fitted so well with the performance of claustrophobic horror that it became part of the whole.  And maybe I’ve got older and more inured to these things?

So the heart isn't just a symbol of romance; it's got its black side too. 

Happy St Valentine's Day, and I sincerely hope that any you receive on Thursday will be surrounded by love and flowers, not dripping down your arms.  Actually, that may have given me an idea …

Sunday 10 February 2013

Welsh Book of the Year

Never Coming Home  is in the list of eligible books for Welsh Book of the Year.
There are a few friends there too.
I know that at present this is only a list of those who have entered. The selection process is still some way off.
And a romantic thriller doesn't fit the profile for books that usually make it to the final shortlist.
(Although I suppose there is always a first time for everything.)
But it's still a great pleasure, and an honour, just to be on that list.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Are you going to eat that?

One of the things I always find interesting in a book is what the characters eat.  Food and drink are a big part of hospitality and social interaction all over the world, and as books are usually about people getting to know each other and getting on with each other, food and drink play a part.  Some authors make a real thing of it, including recipes in the books.  Choc-lit authors of course have a special affinity with chocolate, so that many a hero has been matched with a perfect chocolate bar  A number of writers will tell you about books that have degenerated into a series of cups of tea and coffee, where every exchange involves some sort drink, but that is art imitating life -- when you think about it, most meetings with friends and family usually involve some sort of eating or drinking.  

But what has all this to do with the play The Judas Kiss, now running in the West End? Well - one of my pet hates is scenes where food goes to waste. How often does a book contain a scene where the hero and heroine go out for a deal-breaking meal -- you know the set up -- expensive restaurant, soft lights, hovering waiters -- she is expecting a proposal, he is telling her that they are breaking up . Or one of them is moving to Australia, has a terminal illness, has just discovered he's about to go bankrupt, and has to break the news.  As a result, whatever food they’ve ordered goes to waste.  I hate waste, and I'm afraid I'm often to be found yelling, 'Couldn't you have told him/her that before you ordered?'

As so many of these kind of real life transactions do take place over a meal, it's inevitable that books will reflect this.  And although I hate it, I've done it myself.  If you have to find something to bring your hero and heroine together, and provide a setting other than just the need to talk, then across the table is high on the list.  Which is how I found myself ordering lunch for Devlin and Kaz, in Never Coming Home, and then realising that, as she is telling him about the loss of her daughter, she is never going to be able to eat it.  I did slightly let myself off the hook -- I only ordered her a salad to pick at, which seemed less wasteful than a hot meal.  Counting up, they have two lunches, one dinner and two breakfasts that I've recorded in detail, plus a memorable coffee on a lightning trip to Cardiff, when Kaz learns a piece of information that changes the way she looks at herself and the way she interprets the past.  When you're writing, you can never get away from food and drink.

What about Out of Sight Out of Mind? Well in that book the characters always seem to be having breakfast. Madison, the heroine, is not particularly interested in cooking, but she does produce a very good fry-up - so there is a breakfast scene quite early in the novel. You'll have to read the book to find out how it comes about. 

And The Judas Kiss? It has had excellent reviews and Rupert Everett inhabits the role of Oscar Wilde superbly. When I saw it in Bath, on its pre-London run, I enjoyed it. But yes - there was a scene where food was served and I spent half an act wondering if anyone was going to eat the specially ordered lobster that had been cooked for Oscar in his hotel suite, the night before his arrest. I nearly disgraced myself by cheering when it was finally consumed and I was able to settle down and enjoy the rest of the play. 

It's not just books ...

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Where is this?

It's the Albert Bridge, in Chelsea.

If you would like to know a little more about how the bridge features in my first novel, Never Coming Home, then please click on the 'pages' link above, for an armchair tour.

Monday 4 February 2013

Choc Lit and National Express - a Valentine Gift

I promised that I had something special to announce on Monday, and here it is. 

A very special promotion. 

A very special Valentine present.

Be one of the very first to read Out of Sight Out of Mind

Following other successful partnerships between Choc lit and  National Express, Out of Sight Out of Mind is to be available as an exclusive pre-publication download in the run up to 14th February - a Valentine gift from Choc lit.

From 3rd to 23rd February you can read the book, in advance of it's official release date. 

Find out more at

To celebrate my second book, I've changed the wall paper for my twitter account to the Out of Sight Out of Mind cover. And my updated website will be unveiled soon. I'll keep you posted.