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Thursday, 10 August 2017

HOW I DISCOVERED WHAT I HAD - a guest post by Miriam Drori

Today I welcome back a dear friend and writing colleague - Miriam Drori.  Our paths first crossed five years ago, in an online workshop which went on to produce Miriam's debut novel (Neither Here Nor There) and my second one (Nice Girls Don't), both of which are published by Crooked Cat Books.

Miriam has now branched into the world of non-fiction with her new book Social Anxiety Revealed (due for publication on 22 August 2017).  I had the great pleasure of working with Miriam as editor of Social Anxiety Revealed - and, believe me, it is a book which everyone should read.

Welcome, Miriam!  Please tell us more about Social Anxiety Revealed.

Thank you, Sue!

It was over thirty years after I left school (US: grade school) vowing never to connect again with any of the girls I’d spent the past seven years with. I put my name on a social media site, a forerunner to Facebook, that reunited school friends. Friends! I thought with a humph. The only schoolfriend I remembered wasn’t on the list. Still, I added my name, not expecting anyone to contact me. Perhaps I wanted them to know that I’d done all right for myself, despite them.

Yet, one of them contacted me and I came to a decision. There was no point in continuing to communicate with her without mentioning our joint past. Surprisingly, she didn’t disappear when I brought it up. She even apologised for her past behaviour and also introduced me to another of the gang: Gill.

Gill had more time to write. We wrote every day. She asked the right questions and I was ready to open up. After a few months she told me, hesitantly because she wasn’t sure I was ready to hear it, about social anxiety. I probably wasn’t ready then, because it took a few more months for me to look up the term. That was when I realised that social anxiety was a thing, and that it included everything I’d been writing to her about. I joined a forum for people with social anxiety and took a group therapy course.

Then the tables were turned, somewhat. I realised Gill carried a lot of guilt for the way she’d treated me all those years before. I tried to assure her that I didn’t blame her at all. I told her she was only a girl who didn’t know any better at the time, and that I didn’t see the lovely, kind woman she had become as the same person as the girl I knew once. I don’t think I succeeded.

My new book, Social Anxiety Revealed, released on August 22, explains all the aspects of social anxiety. It has been created by a lot of people who know much more than they’d like to about social anxiety. It is dedicated to Gill, someone I’m now proud to be able to call my friend.

In a later guest post, on Jennifer Wilson’s blog, I write about the process of coming out about social anxiety.  In the meantime, you can find out a little more about me - and the book - on YouTube, by clicking here.

About Miriam

Miriam Drori is the author of a romance, Neither Here Nor There, and co-author of The Women Friends: Selina, the first in a series of novellas based on a painting by Gustav Klimt. She is married with three adult children and enjoys folk dancing, hiking, touring and reading.

Miriam sees the publication of Social Anxiety Revealed as an important step in fulfilling an ambition that began in about 2003: to raise awareness of a condition that’s very common yet little known.
Miriam has struggled with social anxiety for the past fifty years, although for thirty-five of those years, she didn’t even know the name of it or that a name existed. Only recently has she come to the conclusion that she shouldn’t have been struggling at all, but rather making friends with it.

In order to introduce this book and as a place for discussions with readers, Miriam has begun a blog that’s devoted solely to the topic of social anxiety: Everyone is welcome to visit and comment.

Miriam Drori can be found all over the Internet, including Miriam’s website and blog, a blog devoted to social anxiety, Facebook author page and Twitter.

Social Anxiety Revealed will be available from Amazon from August 22 in paperback and ebook formats.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

SHADES OF GRAY - An interview with Aimee Brown

Today's guest is the fabulous Aimee Brown, whose debut novel Little Gray Dress is published today by Crooked Cat Books.  I had the pleasure of working with Aimee as editor of this  book - and believe me, it is an amazing story.

Welcome, Aimee!

What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?
I decided to do NaNoWriMo in November of 2016. That really pushed me forward. I got the idea for a bad bridesmaid dress in my head one night and sat down to start writing. I promised myself I’d write 2500-5000 words a day and somehow, I did!

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?
Weddings, Engagements, and Mean Girls (… oh my!)

What was the inspiration for this book?
I have always been obsessed with weddings which are what inspired all the weddings. But I also am a huge fan of quick moving romantic comedies. It’s just what comes out when I sit to write so it was pretty expected when that was the direction the story went.

Did you do any research for the book?
I did! Most of the research was done on areas of Portland that I needed quick reminders of as I wrote. I did some research on a few of the ‘Romanian’ aspects of the story. I did research weddings, bridesmaids dresses, and similar things. Mostly, though, I wrote what I already knew, the things in life that are familiar to me.

What does a typical writing day involve for you?
No day is the same for me. I have 3 teenagers, 3 dogs, 3 cats, a tank full of fish, a husband, house, small business and SO much to do that I really just sit and write whenever I find the time or when the mood strikes. Sometimes that’s first thing in the morning and sometimes it’s the middle of the night when insomnia strikes.

How do you decide on the names for your characters?
I love doing name searches and I seem to always fall in love with the older names. The ones you don’t hear every day. Esmeralda is a name that I’ve always actually liked but knew it was a tad too long to use throughout the book so, Emi was born (although in hindsight I kind of wish I’d spelled it as Esme). I also have always loved the name, Jack. It seems modern yet is so old school. And had I thought of it when I had my last son that would probably be his name. It’s funny that I didn’t even put two and two together that I have a paternal grandfather named Jack (short for Jackie) because I always just called him ‘Grandpa’! Sadly, he passed recently so now it’s kind of become a tribute to him. Besides those two, I just went with a name and created a character based on what that name portrayed personality wise in my head.

Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?
There is definitely no plotting going on in advance. I’m a total panster. I try to come up with a good opening and from there the characters seem to write the story for me. Which is good and bad as they often don’t go in the direction I think they may go. LOL

Which writers have influenced your own writing?
So many, especially the chick-lit legends! Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, Janet Evanovich, Emily Giffin, Candace Bushnell, and so many indie authors that I’d hate to list them out and forget someone!

What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?
The best is definitely getting to know my characters while creating their story. It’s like I’ve created my own group of friends and now that I don’t spend every day with them, I miss them! To me, Emi, Lily, Jack, Liam, Evan, Hannah, Amelia and even Greta are a part of my everyday life. I constantly wonder what they’re up to, before realizing they can be ‘up to’ whatever I want!

Now the book is published and ‘out there’ how do you feel?
It’s a little nervewracking! LOL, As much as I love all the amazing feedback from readers it’s still so odd to me that they’re talking about MY book! I mean, I knew I loved it, but I wasn’t prepared to have others love it as much as I do. I’m kind of looking forward to that first terrible review to feel as though I’ve really ‘made it’. (if I keep telling myself that maybe that’s how I’ll actually feel! LOL) I truly want everyone to love it though as I think being my first book it will always be really close to my heart.

Is there a message for the reader? 
Nobody is perfect. We all have body issues and self-esteem issues. We aren’t all a perfect size 2 who always says the right thing. We all overthink things and have major life-altering misunderstandings in life. We are stubborn and very rarely do the right thing at the right time. I really don’t have a ‘lesson’ for readers besides to bring them realistically flawed, loveable characters and a story that hopefully will leave them with that ‘I’ll miss these guys’ kind of feeling after they’ve closed the book.

Do you have any advice for new writers?
UGH! So many! Even though I’m a brand new author I feel like I’ve learned SO much throughout this process. It’s taken me 10 years to get a complete story finished. The one thing that really sticks out to me though is to just write. Who cares if the first draft is total shit. Mine was! (even my second, if I'm completely honest, had a lot of flaws – as you know, you were my editor!) It’s much easier to ‘fix’ a story that has issues than to create a new story while trying to be perfect from the starting gate.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working on a couple of things right now- both I hope to be released in 2018.

One is an equally funny, fast moving, romantic comedy novel, that may or may not include a character from Little Gray Dress.  It’s being written as a stand alone so the main character is brand new and I think you’ll LOVE her! I know she keeps me in giggles most of the time I’m writing her scenes.

The second is a chick-lit/cozy mystery that takes place in a vintage Tiki Bar. It’s fun, romantic and has a mystery that even Nancy Drew would love.

Little Gray Dress 

Emi Harrison has avoided her ex-fiancé, Jack Cabot, for nearly two years.  Her twin brother Evan's wedding is about to end that streak.

From bad bridesmaids' dresses, a hyperactive sister-in-law, a mean girl with even meaner secrets, and too much to drink, nothing seems to go right for Emi, except when she's wearing her little gray dress.

When she speed-walks into Liam Jaxon's bar, things get more complicated.  He's gorgeous, southern, and has no past with Emi.  He may be exactly what she needs to prove for the last time that she doesn't need or want Jack!

Her favorite little gray dress has made an appearance at nearly every major event in Emi's adult life.  Will it make another grand appearance when she least expects it?

Buy the Book:

Amazon US: ebook $2.99  print $9.99
Amazon UK: ebook £1.99  print £6.99
Barnes & Noble: print $9.99
BookPeople: print $9.99
Ingram: print
Baker & Taylor: print $9.99


Aimee Brown is a writer and an avid reader.  Little Gray Dress is her first published novel.  Her second novel is in the works now.  She's currently studying for her Bachelor's degree in English Writing.  She spends much of her time writing, doing homework, raising three teenagers, binge-watchng shows on Netflix, and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house.  She's fluent in sarcasm and has been known to utter profanities like she's competing for a medal.

Aimee grew up in Oregon but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and far too many pets.

She would love to hear your thoughts on Little Gray Dress!  If you'd like to chat with her she's very active on social media.  You can find her at any of the networks below.  Stop by and say hello!

Find her here:

What reviewers are saying:

"A sparkling debut from an author to be watched." - USA Today Bestselling author S.E.Babin

"Delightful debut novel!  This book has all the earmarks of a fabulous rom-com!  I'm looking forward to much more from this author.! - Whitney Dineen, Bestselling author of The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan

"Wow!  It's Dynasty for the Chick Lit set.  It's Mean Girls in a little gray dress.  It's just so fun!" - Geralyn Corcillo, Bestselling chick lit author

"Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown is simply a fun read to escape with while spending a day at the beach or cozying up on the couch on a rainy afternoon." - Effie Kammenou, women's fiction author & food blogger

"Little Gray Dress is a must read for any lover of Chick Lit!  Clear your schedule, put the kids to bed and pour yourself a nice glass of wine..." - Nikki LeClair, author of The Haunting Me series

"Witty & full of heart... a total gem!" - Camilla Isley, chick lit author

"Blogger turned author Aimee Brown debuts with a read that puts the romance into romantic comedy.  A cleverly told tale with a few surprising twists that make Little Gray Dress a standout winner." - KJ Farnham, author of the Click Date Repeat series

"Little Gray Dress is a fabulous romantic comedy debut by Aimee Brown.  She'll have you laughing & enjoying every moment of this book." - Tracy Krimmer, author of Dating For Decades and Lipstick & Lattes

"We've all been there: bridesmaid hell.  Aimee Brown perfectly captures the ups, downs, and drama of weddings, exes, rivalries and dating in her witting debut novel.  Little Gray Dress is one of this summer's must-reads!" - Holly Tierney-Bedord, author of Bellamy's Redemption and Right Under Your Nose

"A wonderful debut novel!  The author is a master of conflict, both small and big, and I'm a big fan of that.  The characters were likeable, except for when we were supposed to hate them (Greta!)." - Meredith Schorr, author of Blogger Girl Series

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

TEA FOR TEW - an interview with Columbkill Noonan

Today I have another fabulous guest: Columbkill Noonan, whose debut novel Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab is released today by Crooked Cat Books.

Welcome, Columbkill.  You have a fascinating name.  Please can you tell me a bit more about it?

Sure, I’d be happy to! My dad is a dentist, and when I was growing up he had a lot of nuns as patients (comes from growing up Irish Catholic, I think!). Anyway, my favorite was a nun named Sister Columbkill; she used to crochet the cutest little dollies for me and my sister. So when it came time to pick a pen name, I just knew that I had to be ‘Columbkill’. As for Noonan, that’s just a family name (Irish, again!). It was between that and my maiden name, which is Hickey. Noonan won out.

What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

I’ve always wanted to write, but was always caught up with work and life and just plain busy-ness. But one day a short story just jumped into my head and wouldn’t go away. It was about the ghost of a little boy who gets stuck at a boarding school and has to haunt the place in the most ridiculous of ways. It was published by the first place I submitted it to (Strangely Funny II) which really gave me confidence to keep on writing things.

Can you summarise your book in just a few words?

Ohhhh, that’s a tough one! I’d say cozy, fun, and a little bit weird. “Barnabas” is a hero like no other, really. He’s anxious, excitable, and probably overly constrained by social niceties, but he takes his responsibilities very seriously and tries so very hard to not let all those other things get in his way.

What was the inspiration for this book?

The Barnabas character has been banging around in my head for awhile now. It was clear that he was there to stay, and that he needed something much more than a short story. He pretty much demanded to be written, the pesky little bugger! I am fascinated by history and mythology (and mythological history!) so there was never any doubt that I’d put Barnabas in a mythological setting.

Did you do any research for the book?

I did, and I had the best time doing it! I used the university library, online sources, and bookstores to read any-and-everything I could find about Egyptian mythology. It’s very fascinating! And I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before. For example, I had no idea that there was a feminist Egyptian goddess. So of course she had to play a part in the book!

What does a typical writing day involve for you?

I wake up, have some tea, and sit down to write for a couple of hours before I go to work (teaching Anatomy and Physiology at a university). Every single day my cat Orangina sits on my lap while I write (in fact, she’s here right now, as we speak!). I have to have a blanket draped there for her just so or else she’ll meow piteously at me until I comply. It’s a bit distracting, come to think of it!

How do you decide on the names for your characters?

For historical names, I usually look up a list of baby names from that place and era. Then I scroll through until I find one I like the sound of, or that has a meaning that resonates with the character I’m writing. For example, in the book I’m writing now there is a horse by the name of Hynder… which means (drum roll, please!) ‘horse’ in Old Norse.

Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?

A little of both. I outline the chapters, and give the characters a particular job that they absolutely must do (or a place to which they absolutely must go). Then I let them take care of that on their own.

Now the book is published and ‘out there’ how do you feel?

It feels a bit surreal, to be honest. And a bit scary, too! When you put your all into something and then put it out there for everyone to see (and judge!), well, you just want people to love it the same way you do. It’s like that feeling when you try a daring new haircut, only amplified.

Is there a message in your book? 

That the little guy can be a hero, once in a while. That even when you’re nervous and scared and have no idea what you’re doing, sometimes things can still turn out all right anyway. Or at least almost all right. Barnabas is, ahem, a bit excitable, shall we say, and has a lot of self-doubt, but still he tries and that’s what’s important.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Keep at it, and if you get a harsh rejection, pull a face, stick your tongue out at that email and submit someplace else. I once had a short story rejected by an editor who was so harsh in his criticisms that he even said he didn’t like my name, and offered an in-depth description of what, exactly, was wrong with it. My name! I get that ‘Columbkill’ is a bit unusual, but that’s why I like it. I’m certainly not going to change my name to ‘Bob’ just because someone doesn’t get it. By the way, a week later I received the most glowing acceptance email ever for that same story. So there.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Well, right now I can’t even imagine a day spent without Barnabas, so I’m currently working on the sequel to Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab. Really, I’m planning a whole series. In each book he’ll go to a different afterlife, so I’ll have loads of fun researching all the different mythologies and religions. This next book is already shaping up to be quite action-packed, because, well… Vikings! (Oops, did I let that slip? Barnabas will be terribly put out if I give away his surprises!)

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab is now available on Amazon.

Connect with Columbkill:
Twitter: @ColumbkillNoon1

Monday, 10 July 2017

SOYEZ LES BIENVENUS - an interview with Angela Wren and Jacques Forêt

Today I have not one but two special guests on my blog: my fellow-author Angela Wren, and Jacques Forêt, the hero of her two detective novels set in the Cévennes.

A Cévenol Village

Hello, Sue, and thanks for inviting me to your blog today.

I've brought my lead character, Jacques Forêt, with me and I hope you don't mind if we take this opportunity to talk about his new case.  I'm certainly very eager to hear what he has to say and I'm hoping that he might, perhaps to give away one or two juicy pieces of info about what has happened to him and Beth…
AW  Welcome back Jacques, and you’re not in uniform I see.
JF  Yes, that’s right.  I’ve left the rural gendarme service and I now work in investigation in Mende.

AW  So, just to recap on your career thus far.  You joined the police force in Paris as a detective until you were injured whilst on duty and then came to Messandrierre as a rural gendarme. 
JF   That’s correct.  It was after I recovered that I came here.

AW  So why the further change?
JF  I found I missed the intricacies of handling major investigations along with the thrill of solving such complex crimes.  My last case in Paris involved breaking a drugs cartel and I’ve worked on cases involving people trafficking.  All very testing with many and varied leads to follow.  My current case means that I can use those skills again.

AW  And can you tell us anything about your new case?
JF  It’s very different from my previous cases and involves commercial sabotage, but some the evidence is pointing to other types of crime.  The more I delve, the more complex this case is becoming.

AW  How interesting.  Any suspects yet or dead bodies?
JF   It’s early days.  I only picked up the investigation a week ago, but there are a number of suspects that need to be narrowed down.  There are also some lines of enquiry that are leading me to believe that there are other malpractices that need to be investigated, which might mean there is fraud to be uncovered.  There are no dead bodies at the moment, but… if the evidence does lead me where I think it might, then yes, someone might have the motive to commit such a serious crime.  Naturally I will do all I can to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Colours of the Cévennes

AW  Of course.  Working in Mende, has that meant many changes for you here in the village of Messandrierre?
JF  Not really.  I’m still the Policeman from Paris to everyone living here and I still seem to be the first person they come to when there’s trouble.  Gendarme Thibault Clergue has taken my post here in the gendarmerie.  I don’t want to tread on his toes so we work on things together when necessary.

AW  Back working in investigation, does that mean you’re working with Magistrate Bruno Pelletier again?
JF  Not at the moment. I do sometimes bump into Bruno in the city, but if my case develops as I think it might, then I may need to involve him.  And I will do that as appropriate.

AW  When we first met I seem remember you saying that you would like to ‘have ‘someone to share your life with.’  Those were your precise words, I think.
JF  Ahh, I was wondering when you would get around to that!
AW  And you can tell us… what?  The Readers do need to know, Jacques.
JF   I also remember telling you that it was complicated.  It still is… But I know what I want… Beth just has to make the right decision for her.  Moving to another country requires a lot of consideration.

AW  Are you saying that you’ve asked—
JF  Non!  And before you ask, I didn’t say that I was moving to England either.  What I am saying is that, if Beth and I are to move forward then we both need to consider very carefully how we achieve that.

AW  Well, you may no longer wear uniform, Jacques, but you are ever the policeman!
JF   Perhaps
AW   And that smile of yours tells me everything.  Thank you, Jacques, for being here today.

You can read more about Jacques’ new case, the village and Beth in Merle, Book 2 in the Jacques Forêt mystery series.  It was published by Crooked Cat Books on 5 July 2017.

Jacques Forêt, a former gendarme turned investigator, delves into the murky world of commercial sabotage – a place where people lie and misrepresent, and where information is traded and used as a threat.

The Vaux organisation is losing contracts and money, and Jacques is asked to undertake an internal investigation. As he works through the complexity of all the evidence, he finds more than he bargained for, and his own life is threatened.

When a body of a woman is found, it appears to be suicide. But as the investigation takes another turn, Jacques suspects there is more to it. 

Who is behind it all…and why? Will Jacques find the answer before another person ends up dead?

Thursday, 1 June 2017



You thought you had lost it, but Ailsa Abraham's wonderful novel Shaman's Drum is back on the market for six months only. From today (1st June 2017) it will be available in Kindle form for only 99p or 99cents as a special re-introductory offer.  If you haven't already read it, you've missed a real treat - so grab it now.

WHAT? A mixed genre book which can be read as a stand-alone or as the sequel to Alchemy. It has variously been described as slightly futuristic magical realism, fantasy and romantic thriller.

WHEN? Set in our own word in just a few years' time after a world-changing scientific discovery frees mankind from dependence on fossil fuels.

WHY? The banning of public religious practices was thought to bring an end to terrorism and war but unexpected consequences turn the new ideal world into a nightmare. Pagans having been left out of the ban are the only groups left to combat the new threat and they are fighting between themselves.

WHERE? The Capital is never named so it could be in your country.

WHO? Iamo, a priest of the Goddess with an aristocratic background who has just been released from prison for breaking his vow of chastity. Riga, a female Black Shaman avenger who was the cause of Iamo's downfall, is rescued from her prison by her lover.

Between them they have to solve the mystery of who is allowing demons into the world of Men, and find a way to stop them. Who can they trust in the chaotic world of pagan clans?

The author, Ailsa Abraham, knows her subject well, having been a student of religions and a practising pagan most of her life. Friend of Druids, Hedge-witches and other assorted magic-users, she is the village shaman in her home.


There are 15 reviews on Amazon at the moment, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. 
Comments include :
Just the right mix of danger, mystery, history, a possible future, and tastefully exciting romance. I want more of Iamo and Riga. I just want more! :-)
The sequel to Alchemy brings heroine and hero back together for another scrap amongst the netherworld.
Fairly ripped through this cracking read, which for me indicates a winning combination of pace with great writing.

International Amazon Link

Saturday, 27 May 2017

WATCH AND WAIT - an interview with Eli Carros

Today I have the great pleasure to welcome fellow-author Eli Carros, whose new novel The Watcher will be published by Crooked Cat Books on June 21st. 

Welcome, Eli!  What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

I started telling stories long before I actually put pen to paper.  I would regale my friends with improbable tales, and tell them things like there were fairies and other magical beings at the bottom of the garden who came regularly to sneak me away to their world.  Strangely, quite often, they actually seemed to believe me.

After that I studied journalism and went into copywriting but I thought about writing a book for years and years before I actually did it.

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

The Watcher, my debut crime thriller, is a book about what happens when sexual obsession and emotional neglect combine to tip an individual into madness resulting in extreme, terrible, violence.

OOH, sounds exciting!  What was the inspiration for this book?

I’ve often wondered what makes a psychopath.  Someone who can derive pleasure in sadism, in hurting others, is very alien to me personally but intriguing all the same.  My fascination with psychopaths over the years has led me to study infamous serial killers, read numerous serial killer novels, and watch an unlimited amount of true crime documentaries, and psychological thrillers.  One day, a germ of a story idea came into my mind, so I marinated on it for a while, and procrastinated a lot.  Eventually I actually put fingers to keyboard and The Watcher came into being.

The book was also inspired by London, where I lived, and I drew heavily from the urban landscape.  It seems to me the anonymity of a huge metropolis like London, where everything’s moving so fast and people are used to meeting strangers, would make it the perfect place for a serial killer to conceal himself.

Did you do any research for the book?

I did a bit pertaining to little facts about the way the police operate, but I didn’t want the book to be a standard police procedural as that’s not at all what it was intended to be. 

So I gave myself lots of artistic licence, though I did a lot of research in the years leading up to writing it by making case studies of serial killers who were diagnosed with psychopathy. I did this because I was always so interested to find out what made them so different from the rest of us.

What does a typical writing day involve for you?

Coffee.  Lots of it, and a fair bit of procrastination checking emails, Facebook etc… Then I like to go into full gear.  I don’t write fiction every single day, but I always write something, whether I’m working on a novel or short story, an article for a blog, or a job for a copywriting client.

When I write fiction I usually lay down about 2K words a time.  Sometimes 1K a time when I’m feeling lazy. I usually aim to work on my fiction at least 5 days a week, with Sat and Sun off.  When I’m not writing, though, I’m always mulling over a story idea in my mind.  I actually find that really helps me when I do sit down and put pen to paper.

How do you decide on the names for your characters?

The names just seem to pop out of nowhere, I don’t consciously decide on them really.  It’s just whatever comes into my mind that seems appropriate for the character I’m writing.  Certain names just seem right somehow.

Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?

When I first started, I was firmly opposed to planning, thinking it would stifle my creativity.  Then I realized, if you don’t at least sketch out a rough outline you end up with a mess on your hands about halfway through a manuscript.  It’s much harder to plug holes once you’ve already started, so now I always make a loose chapter-by-chapter plan before I sit down to write the first chapter.

Which writers have influenced your own writing?

I don’t know about influenced but I greatly admire Steven King, Patricia Cornwell, Mark Billingham, Harlan Coben, and the late, great Ruth Rendell.  As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of crime, mystery, and psychological type thriller fiction.

As for the greats of the past, I love Vladimir Nabokov for his beautiful prose, and Thomas Hardy for his ability to evoke human misery in such an utterly immersive way.  And I think William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies was the definitive study into the dark heart of human nature.  Oh and George Eliot was a genius, she totally rocks my world.  I adore the poetry of Sylvia Plath too, very earthy and sensual but at the same time, it takes you to totally different dimension in your mind that without her words you’d never have been able to access.

What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?

The best is the feeling of satisfaction when it’s done and there it is, the story you had in your mind, all there just waiting to be published.

The worst is definitely getting into a regular habit when I have a thousand other things all demanding my urgent attention.  But the thing is, if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way, and it’s amazing what you can achieve when you’re really determined to write.

Now the book is on the verge of being published, how do you feel?

The Watcher launches on June 21st and I’m ridiculously, narcissistically, excited about it.  It’s been such a long time coming to fruition (my fault) that once it’s launched and actually out there I think I’ll have to keep checking to believe it.

Is there a message for the reader? What do you hope they get from one of your books?

I hope you enjoy my book and if you enjoy crime thrillers that keep you guessing, there’s a strong possibility you might like The Watcher.  Most of all I hope it keeps you entertained and allows you to escape into another world for a while.  That’s always been the best gift all the books I’ve enjoyed have given me, so I really hope I’ve given that to my readers.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Yes, just do it.  If you want to write, and you have a novel or story idea in your head, mull over it by all means - but when that time comes and you know what you have to do, just spit it out.  You’ll feel so relieved and all cleansed and virtuous, when you’ve finally done it, like you’ve just squeezed a great big spot and lanced it of all that oozy puss.   Sorry that was a little bit gross wasn’t it?

It's certainly an interesting analogy.  I can't say I'd thought of it in those terms before, but now you come to mention it...

On a brighter note, what can we expect from you in the future?

I’ve an idea for another crime thriller, a serial killer novel like The Watcher but obviously with a completely different story and killer.  This one is extremely twisty and turny too, so the two will have that in common, but as I said, it’s a completely different story, featuring a brand new antagonist. 

After The Watcher launches, I’ll probably sit down and tackle that.  I’m sketching out an outline for that one at the moment, I’ve got too much on with The Watcher’s launch to properly focus on a new novel just yet, but I plan to get it written and out there by early next year.

That sounds like a plan!  Good luck with it, and thank you for coming to visit.  Please come again!

A man with a hidden past... A stalker with a deadly obsession...
The Watcher is released on June 21st from Crooked Cat Books, in ebook and paperback formats.
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