Sunday, 16 August 2015
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Saturday, 8 August 2015
Thanks for coming, Tim; it's been a pleasure.
BREAKING NEWS: Both of Tim's novels, together with lots of other great holiday reads, are currently just 99p each for a few days only, in the great Crooked Cat Publishing summer sale. Snap them up now, before the price goes back up!
More about Tim:
Tuesday, 4 August 2015
Friday, 10 July 2015
That question haunted me for many years. Then, a few years ago, I chanced across one of those lists of Things You Must Do Before You Die. A lot of them didn't really appeal, but one which did catch my attention was Write The Book You Want To Read. The book which I've always wanted to read is the alternative version of Romeo & Juliet - the version in which the star-cross'd lovers don't fall victim to a maddeningly preventable double-suicide.
Why, I asked myself, should there not be such a book? And the answer came straight back: Why not indeed? And if it doesn't exist, then go ahead and write it.
I mulled over the idea, but it took a while before anything definite happened. I'd dabbled with Creative Writing in the past, and had taken a few courses on the subject, but I'd never attempted to write anything longer than poems, or short stories, or the occasional stroppy letter to The Times. The thought of tackling a full-length novel, even one on a subject which I felt so strongly, was a daunting prospect. Then, in one of those serendipitous moments which really make one believe in Guardian Angels, I was browsing in a bookshop in France when I came across a novel which took the form of the lost diary of a woman who had been the secret lover of Count Dracula. A voice in my mind whispered, "A lost diary? You could do something like this..."
Back at home I powered up the laptop and started writing. I was writing the book mainly for myself, because it was the outcome which I'd always wanted, but when I'd finished the first draft (which took about six months) I showed it to a couple of close friends, who both said "This is good. You really ought to take it further."
Even so, despite this vote of confidence, it was another year or two (during which time the manuscript underwent several revisions) before I plucked up the courage to submit it to Crooked Cat Publishing (for whom I'd recently started doing editing work). I wasn't very hopeful, so when I received the email from them telling me they wanted to publish it, I had to print it out and re-read it four times before I could convince myself that I hadn't imagined the whole thing.
The book's title, The Ghostly Father, is based on a quotation from the play (it's how Romeo addresses the character of Friar Lawrence), and the story, which is a sort of part-prequel, part-sequel to the original tale, is told from the Friar's point of view. I've always been fascinated by the Friar and have often wondered why, in the play, he behaved as he did - and by giving him what I hope is an interesting and thought-provoking backstory, I've tried to offer some possible answers. Plus, of course, I wanted to reduce the overall body-count, and give the lovers themselves a rather less tragic dénouement.
The book was officially released on St Valentine's Day 2014. Since then, judging by the number of people who have bought it, read it, and have been kind enough to say they've enjoyed it, it seems as though I'm not by any means the only person who prefers the alternative ending. As one friend was generous enough to say to me recently: "Now I will never feel sad in Verona again."
To buy The Ghostly Father (in paperback or ebook format), click on the book cover on the right.
Friday, 19 June 2015
Today I'm delighted to welcome fellow Crooked Cat author Maureen Vincent-Northam, whose book Trace your Roots is published today by Crooked Cat Publishing. I had the pleasure of working with Maureen as editor of Trace Your Roots - and I can highly recommend it to anyone interested in researching family history.
Welcome, Maureen! Please tell us more...
Thank you, Sue!
I love detective stories – my favourite being the cosy crime sort with an inquisitive amateur sleuth who pokes around looking for clues, asks questions and ultimately, after much nosing around, cracks the case.
Maybe that’s why I turned to family history research because genealogy is very like detective work. It’s all about searching out the truth, finding clues – about your ancestors in this instance, rather than a devious criminal – and assembling the final picture (or in our case the ‘family tree’).
The clues involve tracking down dates and places and who did what to whom. The proof of your findings will, hopefully, be in the original records. But there are times when you’ll get stuck and, unless you have a side-kick who, like in the whodunit novels, happens to hit upon the very thing that untangles the mystery (usually without realising they’ve done so), you’ll need a handy guide to help lead the way.
Enter Trace your Roots! The book has hundreds of helpful, tried and tested, tips – many involving less well know resources that will steer you in the right direction. It was satisfying to write and I hope it will encourage others to solve their own family puzzle.
Friday, 5 June 2015
One such war took place in the Spring and early Summer of 1982. This was the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina, fought over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. It is this war which forms a distant backdrop for my second novel, Nice Girls Don't.
Like Emily, the heroine of the story, I was too young to remember the Second World War, but I was brought up by people who did. My parents' and grandparents' generations had lived through one (or in some cases two) major conflicts - the second of which claimed many civilian as well as military casualties. But the Falklands War was the first occasion in my lifetime when my home country had actively gone to war. And, just like Emily, I was confused and bewildered. Would this war, like those before it, also involve conscription and mass-slaughter? What effect would it have on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people?
This led, in turn, to my thinking back to the other major conflicts of the twentieth century, the effect they had on those who fought and those who served by standing and waiting, and the long shadows which they could still cast over future generations. What if, when researching one's family history, one discovers secrets which, because of those wars, have been kept hidden for many years because of shame and guilt?
Nice Girls Don't is perhaps best described as cross-genre. Yes, it's a romance, but it also has a generous helping of mystery and intrigue. But it is also a story which will, I hope, challenge a few traditionally-held views. It is difficult to discuss these in detail here without giving away too much of the story, but suffice it to say that whilst two of the episodes described in the book are based on real events, most of the narrative holds up a mirror to the circumstances, ideas and attitudes of the period. I hope it will appeal to anyone who remembers the 1980s, but I hope also that it will show younger readers (of both genders) how much has changed - hopefully for the better - over the course of a generation.