Wednesday 30 June 2021

Summer Treats


Something special from Choc-lit and Ruby for the summer - an anthology of short fiction that will take you to holiday destinations and sunny locations even if you're on a staycation - or even just in the back garden. With stories that travel from the Greek Islands to Portugal to Paris - that one is mine  - you can enjoy some short reads from sixteen Choc-lit and Ruby authors with the proceeds from sales going to the mental health charity MIND. 

It's out as a e-book on 16th July but you can pre-order it now to be sure of getting your copy.


Wednesday 23 June 2021

DIY Tropes?

 It has recently occurred to me that I am starting to manufacture my own tropes  - recurring themes. I seem to have developed a bit of a thing about towers - the romantic gothic kind - there's one in the book that has just gone to the publisher and one has sprouted in the new WIP. Also vintage clothes - both Nadine in A Wedding on the Riviera and Megan in The Villa in Portofino have vintage outfits. This is a bit strange, because IRL I don't have any vintage gems in the wardrobe - well only ones that have got that way all by themselves with the passage of time. I do love the old styles though - vintage Hollywood in particular. I've also been used to having my own in-house couturier service which may have had something to do with it. Sadly this is no more, but there are still plenty of "designer" things in the wardrobe and I can still get into most of them.

The most disturbing repetitive trait, which I noticed some time ago and have tried to curb, is a startlingly high incidence of people falling from great heights, usually with unhappy results. Despite  murdering people in a variety of other ways, pushing people off buildings seems to be my method of choice for sudden death. I was congratulating myself on a murder that I haven't used before for The Villa in Portofino when it occurred to me that there were also three other instances of falls - two are off cliffs and only two are fatal, but even so ...

I'm pondering this, without much success. A therapist might be able to help? Why is falling my default setting? I must admit I do have a bit of a thing about my balance on staircases and I did manage to break my wrist pitching off the front steps while putting out the recycling, so maybe that has something to do with it. 

I'm going to have to watch what I am doing in the WIP - that tower has to stay romantic, not deadly. 

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Grit in the Oyster

 If you ask a writer where they get their ideas  from you're apt to get a hollow laugh. One reason is that it is a much too frequent question and the other is that we often have absolutely no idea. Things get scooped up and jumbled together in the subconscious and sometime later a book results. Or a bit of a book. Or a few lines. Or something. 

Take the very new and hardly fledged WIP. I have no clue why I decided that it would feature Egyptology. I mean, why Egyptology? Like I know anything about that? Fun finding out though - and it is getting modified a bit to make it more manageable - I'm not totally daft.  I just have this creepy scene in my head - in the dark with a lot of sarcophagi looming out of the murk and this ominous creaking noise ...

It has occurred to me though that, Egyptology aside, things can get absorbed - like grit in the oyster - and end up re-appearing in a modified form.  I've got two of those so far in said WIP.  When I was a guest on crime  writer Lorraine Mace's blog a while ago she asked about sites for dead bodies - crime writers have those sorts of conversations all the time - it tends to make for nervous spouses on occasion. I mentioned that I've always felt that the carrels in an academic library had distinct possibilities. In the evening with low lights on the quieter top floors. It hovered for a while and now, what do you know, there in the first chapter of the WIP ...

The other idea came out of an off the cuff exchange over Facebook with my favourite Cardiff jewellers about a hand over of some family opals in a cinema car park. (They have now been turned into a gorgeous brooch) The idea appealed to me and we joked about putting it in a book. Then the grit began to work. The WIP features a spectacular necklace. I am now pretty sure it will also be featuring some sort of exchange in a car park - although it will be on the Riviera, not a local cinema. I'm looking forward to explaining to a tour guide, when I finally get back to research trips, that deserted car parks are high on my list of "must visits" 

So - that's how two bits of grit might have got into the oyster. It remains to be seen if they emerge as pearls ...


Wednesday 9 June 2021

Cover story

 Now that the latest manuscript has gone to the publisher I have a new set of milestones - what the readers' panel thinks of the book - I hope it's positive because the next two depend on it - the edits - not so much fun - and seeing the cover which is always exciting. You often hear horror stories of authors who hate their covers so maybe I am lucky as I have loved all mine. If we get that far, it will be interesting to see how the designer interprets the villa and it's garden. There will definitely have to be roses. 

There are fashions in covers. I am just a little bit addicted to standing in front of the book display in ASDA admiring them. There are good old tropes - back version of a woman usually dressed in a red coat - although lately I have seen bright yellow creeping in. She is walking or running depending whether it is a romance or thriller. Or there's the back view of a man - these are thrillers - with some sort of desolate urban scene in the background. Lately romances seem to be either rural or beach scenes with either a house or a figure or simply a plain pastel background with a variety of odd items scattered over it. Pink and turquoise seem to be popular colours. Crime/thrillers have been featuring hard blues and yellows for a while, with an indistinct background for a bold font for authors name and title and often with a sub title interleaved thorough it. 

I have to admit that when you are looking at a row of books - at least when I am - they tend to blur into each other. A bit of variety might be nice. On the other hand these covers clearly give out a signal for readers about the contents - that solitary guy walking down sepia mean streets probably isn't going to find romance at the end of them - or if he does she will probably meet a nasty end at the hands of the villain so he can go back to walking those mean streets alone, just that little bit more damaged and jaded. Cynical? Me? 

I know it is good for readers to understand what they are getting - to be able to pick up a book with confidence that they have a head start on the possibility of enjoying it, but it's that blurring again. But then fashion is fashion.

And I still can't wait to see what sort of cover the new book might get. Will it have roses?

Wednesday 2 June 2021

So many tropes, so little time

 Well book three of the Riviera series has gone to the publisher. Now we have to see what the readers' panel will make of it. In the meantime, I have begun book four - but it will probably be slow going as I do have housekeeping tasks that have been on hold for too long to be ignored much longer. 

What's the new one about? At the moment it seems to be somewhere between a county house mystery crossed with something creepy involving Egyptian mummies, but I'm going to have to sort that out shortly!!! Books sometimes change quite a bit in the process of being written, the latest one did. 

My trouble? I'm easily led. If I read something that I enjoy, then I want to have a go. Sometimes that involves turning the idea on it's head, which is how A Wedding on the Riviera came out of reading a couple of runaway bride books in quick succession.  I've always wanted to play with an amnesia book and I definitely have plans for a treasure hunt book, with clues and cyphers and everything, and then there's stolen art ...

I've just been reading the Josephine Tey classic Brat Farrer and now I want to write an imposter book - one where a long lost heir comes back to claim an inheritance. Mary Stewart's The Ivy Tree also has a hand in that. It's interesting - two different treatments of the same idea. You know from the start that Brat is an imposter. In The Ivy Tree the identity of the heroine is much more ambiguous. It's many decades since I read that one for the first time, but I recall changing my mind several times over whether this really was Annabel the lost heiress. 

Thinking about it, it would probably be much more of a challenge to write a contemporary version - DNA being what it is - but maybe that would be an added attraction - how to get around it. I think you'd need more than one conspirator - not just a coach to ensure the imposter had all the knowledge and background but someone in the house, to run interference. See - the possibilities are fizzing around already. There's a whole lot of tension just walking in the imposter's shoes, wondering if they are going to make a slip ... 

Another trope to put on the list.