#BlogTour – Q&A With The Mother Author -Jaime Raven @avonbooksuk

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Jaime Raven to the blog to answer some questions about her new book, The Mother.
the mother 2Hello Jaime, and welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself ? 

I’m a full-time author and I live with my partner in Southampton, although I’m originally from London. I have three children and I’ve written three books for Avon/Harper Collins – THE MADAM, THE ALIBI and THE MOTHER. I used to be a journalist and worked in newspapers and for TV news programmes for a number of years. I enjoy reading crime books and thrillers by other writers.

The Mother is your latest novel, could you tell us what it’s about in your own words?

The Mother is about the abduction of 15-month-old Molly Mason. She’s the daughter of detective Sarah Mason, who works for the Metropolitan Police in London. What makes The Mother different from other ‘stolen child’ stories is that the kidnapper says he has taken Molly as punishment for something that Sarah did to him. However, she has no idea what it is and the agony is made worse because the kidnapper sends her upsetting messages and video clips of her daughter. His aim is to make sure that ‘her suffering does not diminish over time.’ The book follows the desperate hunt to find Molly and the impact it has on Sarah and the rest of her family, including Molly’s father.

I’m intrigued by your main character, Sarah, a single mother working full time (like me, but thankfully not as dangerous a job!) Can you describe Sarah and what makes her tick?

Sarah is like many women – struggling to hold down a full-time job while raising a small child by herself. She divorced her husband, who is also a detective, because he cheated on her. But they stay in touch because he has his daughter every other weekend. As a police officer Sarah is used to dealing with victims of crime, but this is the first time that she’s been a victim herself and she finds it hard to cope. However, she’s a strong woman and is determined to get her daughter back even if it means  putting her own life on the line to do so.

Your books feature some pretty dark themes, can you tell us about the research you the alibi cover picundertake before writing?

Searching for information is much easier now than it used to be thanks to the internet. I enjoy research and I carry it out before and during the writing process. It’s true that my books feature some pretty dark themes and if anyone looked at what’s on my computer without knowing that I’m an author they would think I’m a real dodgy character.
For instance, I’ve downloaded lots of material on various ways to murder people, on child abduction, prostitution, cyber-crime and how to spy on individuals without them knowing. It all helps to add reality and credibility to a story. Researching a novel is fun because it expands your knowledge base and opens your eyes to all manner of things that you wouldn’t otherwise know anything about.

Crime thrillers keep going from strength to strength in popularity – why
do you think readers can’t get enough of the genre? What elements do you
think make a great Crime thriller book?

I think crime thrillers continue to be popular for several reasons. They’re a great form of entertainment because they take us into a world that very few of us would want to visit in real life. They arouse our curiosity and excite us at the same time. And they can also make us feel genuinely grateful that we’re not in those tricky and dangerous situations that our fictional heroes find themselves in.

To my mind a great crime thriller needs to be full of twists and turns and move along at breakneck speed. The characters – both good and bad – must be engaging and plausible. And originality is crucial if a book is to stand out from the rest in a crowded marketplace.

the-madam-coverMost writers are readers first….is this the case for yourself? Which
authors and novels would you recommend as must reads? 

I’ve been an avid reader of crime novels and thrillers since I was a teenager. I still read at least two books a month even when I’m working on a novel. Among the books I would recommend are two of my all-time favourites – The Godfather by Mario Puzo and Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. The first is about the American mafia and the second introduces readers to fiction’s most notorious serial killer – Hannibal Lecter.
I’m also a big fan of Lee Child’s books because I love his creation, Jack Reacher. My favourite Reacher book is Tripwire. Another bestselling author I would recommend is Linwood Barclay, who never disappoints. A must read would be his early work No Time for Goodbye in which a teenage girl wakes up to find her entire family has disappeared.

As a non-writer, I’m always fascinated by the writing process…can you tell
us about where you write and any rituals or routines you have to aid the
creative process?

I’m one of those authors who have to write in longhand first. I just can’t tap out a story directly onto the computer. I have a small office at home but I don’t like to use it. Instead I visit coffee shops on most days. For some reason the words and ideas flow more easily when things are going on around me. I tend to sit for a couple of hours in a coffee shop and then return home to type up what I’ve written. After I’ve completed several chapters I’ll upload them onto my Kindle and go through them again because it helps to see how it will look when it’s published.

I also have to carry a small notebook and pen with me wherever I go. If I ever forget them I start to panic because I hate the thought of coming up with a brilliant idea and not being able to jot it down.

Finally, can you tell us what you are working on next? 

I’ve actually just finished the first draft of the next book for Avon. I can’t give too much away because I haven’t yet sent it to my agent and my editor. The working title is THE THREAT and it’s due to be published early next year. The book is set in London and features two very strong women whose paths cross in a story that includes generous helpings of love, sex, villainy and violence! 
Thank you Jaime for taking the time to answer my questions…I hope you enjoyed
them!

The Mother by Jaime Raven

the mother 2I’ve taken your daughter, as punishment for what you did …

Prepare to be gripped by the heart-stopping new thriller from the author of The Madam.

South London detective Sarah Mason is a single mother. It’s a tough life, but Sarah gets by. She and her ex-husband, fellow detective Adam Boyd, adore their 15-month-old daughter Molly.

Until Sarah’s world falls apart when she receives a devastating threat: Her daughter has been taken, and the abductor plans to raise Molly as their own, as punishment for something Sarah did.

Sarah is forced to stand back while her team try to track down the kidnapper. But her colleagues aren’t working fast enough to find Molly. To save her daughter, Sarah must take matters into her own hands, in a desperate hunt that will take her to the very depths of London’s underworld. 

Published 7th September by Avon (UK) 

The Mother

Keep Me Safe #BlogTour Q&A With Daniela Sacerdoti – @HeadlinePG

I’m absolutely THRILLED to be welcoming Daniela Sacerdoti to Cosy Books today as part of her UK Paperback release for Keep Her Safe. I reviewed this gorgeous book back in April, so I was delighted to be able to ask Daniela a few questions!

keep me safeDiscover the million-copy-selling Daniela Sacerdoti. Lose your heart. Find your home…

When Anna’s partner walks away from their relationship, she is shattered. But it is her little girl Ava who takes it hardest of all, falling silent for three days. When she does finally speak, Ava talks about a new place – a small island of beauty, salt and sea in the Western Scottish Isles. In search of a new start, Anna and Ava embark on a journey to the remote and gorgeous Island of Seal. Falling in love with the locals and the landscape, could Seal offer the second chance they both need? 

Published in paperback 7th September 2017 by Headline

daniala sacerdotiHello Daniela, and welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself ?

Thank you for having me! Well, I’m nearly 44 years old…though I don’t feel it! I’m the mother of two lovely boys, Sorley, who’s 12 and Luca, who’s 10. I’m Italian but I lived in Scotland for 15 years, with my Scots husband. We came back to my home village of Caravino, a tiny place in North-West Italy, two years ago. I live in a beautiful, crumbly old house with my husband, our boys and a cocker-spaniel who goes by the name of Sasha. We have a tiny vineyard in the garden – ok, more of a vine! – and my dream is to get some chickens and live the Good Life! 

Keep Me Safe is your latest novel, could you tell us what it’s about in your own words?

Keep Me Safe is about finding your own family, which is often not straightforward. It can take a lot of courage and a meandering journey. It’s the story of Anna, a devoted young mother whose daughter, Ava, starts having memories of another life on a remote Scottish island, Seal. Anna and Ava travel there to unravel the mystery, and their lives take an unexpected turn.

I absolutely adored the setting of Seal. Can you tell us what inspired you to base your story on a small island?

This is such a good question! I never really thought of the reasons. Seal came to me ready-made and I just went with it. I think probably I’m fascinated with the sense of isolation and remoteness connected with islands, also, although I was brought up and live at the foot of the Alps, I have a strong connection with the sea – don’t we all! The sea can be symbolic of characters’ emotions and soul, a kind of mirror. Also, in my Seal novels the sea is nearly a harbinger of destiny – administering life, death and life changes almost as it has a will of its own, or if expressing a higher will. An island community is more isolated than a village one, making the action more contained and the characters quite special – not everyone would live in such a remote place, separated from the world by waters that are never completely tranquil. In Keep Me Safe, Sorren and the Catriona describe what living on Seal is like and why of the many people who fall in love with the place only very few will stay. If I could live in my dream place, my first would be where I am – my second would be the Hebrides!

Keep Me Safe has themes of past lives and reincarnation. What appealed to you about this subject and what kind of research did you undertake before writing it?

I didn’t do any research, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of reincarnation and I looked at it in Watch Over Me already (my first book). Reincarnation comes back in my next Seal novel too. Creatively it’s a huge part of my imagination because I feel very connected to my women ancestors – but in real life, as a Catholic, I believe in eternal life. Reincarnation to me is more the idea of genetic memory and how experiences, sorrows, joys and attachment seem to mysteriously go down through the blood. Maybe it’s our DNA, maybe it’s how things are remembered and discussed in families – who knows!

I also felt that there was a theme of overcoming loss of some kind and moving forward in several of the character’s stories. Was this your intention?

Yes. Loss has been an integral part of my life from an early age, and then as life goes on we all, with no exception, experience it. I always found hard to move on after a loss – I seem to obsess about the past more than most, so maybe writing is a kind of catharsis for me. I help my characters through loss, and by doing that, I help myself. Also, I’m fascinated with the idea of starting afresh – my lovely Eilidh, the protagonist of Watch Over Me, is someone who has to begin a new life at thirty-five, while Inary, Margherita and finally Anna all have to negotiate a move north. I love to write about a woman who builds a life out of smoking ruins – us women are incredibly resilient and resourceful.

The sense of community on Seal Island was wonderful and something I enjoyed very much and I’m intrigued by some of the minor character’s stories. Will we be hearing more of those in the next books in the series?

Absolutely! Just like in the Glen Avich series, we always see some old friends popping up. Although the spotlight is on new characters, I write about the community – therefore in each novel I visit the same places, with the same people in it. I love to know how they’re getting on, it’s like catching up with old friends. Also, some of them still have things to say – for example, Inary came back in Calling You Home, a Christmas short I wrote, because there was a development in her life I really had to tell my readers about. 

Most writers are readers first….is this the case for yourself? Which authors and novels would you recommend as must reads?

I’m a voracious reader, and I’ve been since I was a wee girl. My favourite books of all time are Anne Of Green Gables by Lucy M. Montgomery and the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (what is it with my fave writers and initials? Maybe I need to slip a couple of extra initials in my name too!). I read all genres except horror – with James Herbert as my only horror exception. In my own genre, women’s fiction or romance, I adore Maeve Binchy, Sheila O’Flanagan and Lesley Pearse – they really are masters…or mistresses! Of our genre. I also love science fiction, with Andy Weir being my pinnacle – The Martian is fantastic. There are a lot of children’s and teenagers’ books in my house, both for my boys and me! Our favourites are Roy Gill’s Daemon Parallel series and anything Harry Potter. At the moment I landed by complete chance on a biography of the Bronte sisters and brother, and I’m loving it – but as I’m about to start my new novel, I’m about to go a reading famine for a while. I don’t read when I’m deep in a story of mine, otherwise I might get swayed – and anyway I can’t concentrate on anything when I’m writing. Therefore, I binge-read in between books. I always have my head in a book or in my kindle, and I’m happy to say that my eldest boy, Sorley, has asked me to establish a reading club with just two members – us! In the garden, in the kitchen, on his bed or on Mum and Dad’s big bed, Sorley and I read together and discuss our latest crazes. My youngest doesn’t see the fascination we have with books – he’s more of a music guy.

As a non-writer, I’m always fascinated by the writing process…can you tell us about where you write and any rituals or routines you have to aid the creative process?

My writing routine has changed hugely since my youngest went to school, three years ago. Before my routine consisted in simply ‘write whenever you can’ – nursery times, nap times, pre-dawn time. It was exhausting, to be honest, and I couldn’t give up on my precious time with him nor the writing. We both survived😊 And now I have whole days to write. I do the school run, then stick music or even the TV on – if it’s in Italian, low volume and repetitive sounds it helps my concentration – and keep going until it’s time to get the boys from school. In between I walk the dog and pretend to do some housework. I love a clean and tidy home and hate housework, which is a bit of a conflicting combination! I have a lovely desk with all my books and my stationery…and hardly ever use it. I end up in the garden or at the kitchen table, whatever takes my fancy. Before I start the writing phase though, there’s a lot of thinking to do – ideas for stories come to me easily, but shaping them takes time. In a way I never really get a break from writing, because I go about my daily life while thinking and gathering inspiration – my husband says that when I’m thinking of a book, he can see it in my eyes. I write ideas in notebooks, which is so much nicer than a computer screen – but I still haven’t made the leap to writing a whole book by hand.

Finally, when will readers expect to make their next visit to Seal Island?

Soon! In May 2018 Headline is publishing my new Seal island book, I Will Find You.

Thank you Cosy Books!:)  

About The Author

I was born and raised in Italy, but I’ve lived in Scotland for fourteen years. I have now come back to live in my tiny Alpine village, with my husband and sons. I have a degree in Classics and I work as a full time writer and mother, which makes me two people, somehow.

I write adult fiction (the Glen Avich stories), Young Adult (the Sarah Midnight Trilogy) and children’s fiction (Really Weird Removals.com, shortlisted for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards). My books are translated in twelve languages and have sold nearly a million e-copies. I have also written for the BBC and several newspapers.

When I don’t write, I spend time with my children, I cook, I walk in my beautiful village home, or I think about writing. If you fancy a chat, drop me a line. I’m always happy to hear from my readers!

keep me safe bt

#BlogTour – A Q&A with Honey Farm On The Hill Author Jo Thomas

I am absolutely delighted to be welcoming Jo Thomas today as part of the blog tour for her new book, Honey Farm On The Hill. I had a few questions to ask Jo, hope you enjoy reading her answers as much as I did!

Hello JO, and welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself ?

jo thomasI’m Jo Thomas and I write books about food and love and believe every story should have a happy ending.

I worked as a radio producer and reporter for many years before writing. My debut novel The Oyster Catcher was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the Romantic Novelists Associations Joan Heysson Award in 2014 for best debut novel and the Festival of Romance’s award for best ebook.

I live in the Vale of Glamorgan with my husband, three teenagers, three cats and two dogs. And I love a cheeky glass of rose wine at the end of a long day….

Honey Farm On The Hill is your latest novel, could you tell us what it’s about in your own words?

Honey Farm is set in the mountains of Crete. I wanted to write about a mother with an empty nest, as I know it won’t be that far away for me. So, when Nell’s daughter leaves home at the same time as she finds herself without work and breaks up from her long term partner, she decides to return to the place she lost her heart to eighteen years earlier. Because sometimes in life you have to go back before you can go forwards. But a lot has changed since Nell’s been away. And in order to move on in her own life she has to unlock the secrets of the past locked away in the mountains there.

Your book is set on the beautiful island of Crete – can you tell us why you chose this setting?

When I start writing it’s a bit like walking into my pantry and wondering what ingredients I have there. I knew I wanted to write about Greece, but once I discovered the wild herbs that grow on the mountainsides in Crete, in particular a wild herb that only grows in Crete called dittany, otherwise known as love, I knew that was where I wanted to set my story.

And what research did you make while writing the book?

I went to stay in one of James’ Villas holiday homes in Crete, off the beaten track. From there I spent the week driving out, eating in hillside restaurants, taking in the scents and sights of the place. I visited a fantastic museum in one of the mountain villages, found an amazing slow food restaurant and visited the owner’s farm and took part in a cookery course in an old olive mill.

Any top tips and must see/do’s for people visiting Crete?the honey farm

Drive up to the mountains! They’re amazing!

Also I went to a traditional village in Chania called Vamos, where they run food tours and trips to see the traditional way of life. It was there I went on a cookery course in an old olive mill with the wonderful cook Koula Varydakis-xanialakis. Here’s the link

http://www.vamosvillage.gr/

It was the lovely people at Vamos village who pointed me in the direction of a wonderful taverna in Dounias where all the food is cooked over open fire. The hosts were amazing as was the food. It was like being welcomed into their front room and being treated like special guests.

I love romance in a warm, sunny and beautiful locations – why do you think settings such as Crete lend themselves so well to the genre?

Crete has all the ingredients you mention. It’s warm and sunny. The mountains are beautiful as is the fabulous sea. And the people are just lovely! What’s not love?! I think it’s important to want to fall in love with the setting as much as the characters in the book.

Most writers are readers first….is this the case for yourself? Which authors and novels would you recommend as must reads?

I love romantic fiction. I’ve read and loved all of Katie Fforde’s books, Jill Mansell’s, Carole Matthews, Wendy Holden’s and I love Fiona Walker too. And of course, anything by Jilly Cooper!

As a non-writer, I’m always fascinated by the writing process…can you tell us about where you write and any rituals or routines you have to aid the creative process?

I love to write first thing in the morning, before the house, full of teenagers, wakes. But if that’s not possible I get in my car and write there. It’s where I wrote the whole of my first novel The Oyster Catcher. In fact, I actually swapped my car for a camper van and you’ll often find me parked up by the beach writing….even when it’s wet and windy, away from the outside world.

Finally, what are you working on next?

I’m just finishing next summer’s book, about flamenco and fiestas set amongst the cherry orchards of Spain. And for a change of scene, I’m starting a winter book, set in snowy Swedish Lapland.

Thank you Jo for taking the time to answer my questions…I hope you enjoyed them!

 

The Honey Farm On The Hill by Jo Thomas  

We never forget the one who got away.

Eighteen years ago Nell fell in love in the mountains of Crete and life changed for ever. Nell’s daughter, Demi, has never met her dad. Nell never saw him again.

When she gets the chance to return to the hilltop town of Vounoplagia – where everything began – Nell can’t resist the urge to go back and find him.

Working on a honey farm perched high up in the hills, there’s plenty to keep her busy. And she will quickly realise the town harbours just as many secrets as she does.

But if Nell’s favourite romantic films are right, there’s a happy ending in store for each of us. All she has to do is seek out the magic of the mountains… 

Published 10th August 2017 by Headline  

honey-farm-on-the-hill-blog-tour-poster-page-001.jpg

Ginny Moon Blog Tour: A Q&A With Author Benjamin Ludwig

I’m absolutely thrilled to be hosting the Ginny Moon blog tour today. I absolutely LOVED this book – you can read my gushing review HERE. I was lucky enough to ask author Benjamin Ludwig some questions about his debut novel – I hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did! Over to Benjamin…

Hello Benjamin, and welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? 

Certainly! I’m a husband and dad, first and foremost. My wife and I have two children, ages
three and seven; and we also have a twenty-year-old daughter. And, up until this past September,
I was a public-school teacher. I took a year off from teaching in order to support the publication
of my first novel, Ginny Moon.

Ginny Moon is your debut novel, could you tell us what it’s about in your own words? 

Ginny Moon is a fourteen year old girl with autism who gets adopted from the foster care system
– and as soon as she gets to her new home, she immediately begins plotting her own kidnapping.
Aside from the adventure, the book is about voice. People just don’t “hear” Ginny when she
speaks. They don’t take the time to listen, and so they miss out on some extremely important
things that she’s trying to tell them.

Your book is inspired, in part, from your own experiences of adopting a young adult with
autism and I wondered if you could share with us why you felt this was an important story
to write? 

I wrote Ginny Moon because Ginny’s voice came to me one night after my daughter’s Special
Olympics basketball practice. I came home with this intense, overpowering voice ringing in my
ears. I had to get it out! So I typed some lines of dialogue, which I quickly saw needed to be
internal dialogue – and then Ginny just took over. It was a remarkable, mysterious experience,
one that I’m still trying to figure out. But once Ginny started narrating the book, it pretty much
wrote itself.

Was it difficult to write about such a personal subject? And how does your daughter feel 
about inspiring your book? 

It was extremely difficult to write the passages in which Ginny is in danger, or reveals something
about her past. There were times when I wanted to stop writing, but Ginny demanded that we
keep going. So we did. And yes, my daughter read the book. There were some important parts
that she didn’t understand, but all in all she enjoyed it. She understands that it’s not about her,
and that Ginny is a different person with a very different background.

Having some experience of working with young adults with Autism, I was struck by how
genuine and unique Ginny’s voice is and felt people with little to no experience would really
get an understanding of the challenges individuals face. Was it your intention to do this? 

I’d like to say that it was my intention, but the truth (again) is that Ginny sort of took over my
writing process. For a whole year! There are certainly some messages in this book, primarily
about voice and the importance of listening to people who might seem to be quiet, but I didn’t
write those intentions into the book. My intention, I think, was to let Ginny tell her own story –
to honor her voice, and to present it in all its boldness and intensity for people to see. Er, I
mean, hear. I don’t know if that was Ginny’s intention as well, but I suspect it was. She’s a very
smart cookie, to use one of her favorite phrases.

I also thought that the feelings and concerns experienced by Maura and Brian were very
honest. Did you worry that readers would react badly to their frustrations and how did you
go about avoiding this? 

Thank you for noticing! I wanted to present Brian and Maura as honestly as possible. When
people adopt, they have no idea what they’re getting into. I mean, they have excellent
intentions, and they undergo a tremendous amount of training, but no one can be 100% ready
for what they’ll face when they bring a child from foster care into their home. Adopting is very
much a process of parents adapting to the child, and a child adapting to the parent. The
changes that need to occur on both sides can’t begin until the two are together, in the home.
No amount of training can prepare you for how your own heart will move when it finds itself in
such a unique situation.

Most writers are readers first….is this the case for yourself? Which authors and novels would
you recommend as must reads? 

It is, but I don’t read nearly as broadly as a lot of people would hope. I’m a slow reader, and a
deep reader. I like to re-read the same book over and over, because I find that every time I
move through a book, I move through it differently. There are things I just don’t catch the first
time around, you know? The top five books that I like to recommend include 1) The One Room
Schoolhouse, by Jim Heynen; 2) The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion, 3) Jazz, by Toni
Morrison, and 4) One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; and 5) Never Cry
Wolf, by Farley Mowatt.

As a non-writer, I’m always fascinated by the writing process…can you tell us about where
you write and any rituals or routines you have to aid the creative process? 

I get up very early to write, around 3:30 in the morning, because I really need space and quiet. I
find that my best work happens before anyone else is awake. I’m usually only half-awake
myself, and somehow the editor in me just doesn’t edit. He stands aside, and the ideas just
pour out. I end up nixing a lot of them later in the day, when I take another few hours to go
revise the morning’s batch. But those unedited, unbound ideas are always my best, and they’re
the ones that move the story forward.

Finally, what are you working on next? 

I just finished the first draft of a new novel, another voice-driven piece. This time there’s a male
protagonist – a little boy – but he isn’t anything like Ginny. I love voices – voices that are
unique because of unique circumstances that happened long ago.

About The Author 


A life-long teacher of English and writing, Benjamin Ludwig lives in New Hampshire with his family. He holds an MAT in English Education and an MFA in Writing.  Shortly after he and his wife married they became foster parents and adopted a teenager with autism. Ginny Moon is his first novel, which was inspired in part by his conversations with other parents at Special Olympics basketball practices. 





Ginny Moon – Published by HQ 1st June 2017 

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…  

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…





Check out the other stops on the blog tour…

Dave Cousin’s Fifteen Days Without A Head Blog Tour

Today it’s our stop on Dave Cousin’s Fifteen Days Without a Head blog tour to celebrate publication of his book of the same name. Over to you Dave:

************
A Day in the Life of an Author – Photo Story! 
7:30 Get up, feed the cats. Make tea. 

  

8:00 Shower 
8:30 Get dressed to face arctic conditions in my attic workroom. 

9:00 Check e-mail and schedule for the day. 

9:30 Writing (in my special Word Wig and Cap of Inspiration) 

11:00 “Whose round is it?” Make tea. 

11:15 Writing not going so well. I knew I shouldn’t have removed the Word Wig. 

11:30 Book delivery saves me from further torment. Martha does a quick check for illegal substances. 

12:00 Lunch with author friends from The Edge. More tea. (left to right: me, Katy Dale, Sara Grant, Bryony Pearce, Miriam Halahmy) 

1:00 Off to do a school author visit, loaded up with props. 

5:00 Back for a well-earned cuppa. 

5:30 Check e-mail and update website. 

8:00 Catch train into London for book launch. 

12:00 The end of another exhausting day in the life of an author. Bed.

************
Two brothers. One cartoon dog. And a load of trouble.

Meet Laurence, fifteen years old and six feet tall. Very soon, he’ll dress up as his mum and impersonate a dead man on the radio. Meet Jay, his six year old brother. He looks like an angel but thinks he’s a dog. He’ll sink his teeth into anyone who gets in the way. Today is Tuesday and the next fifteen days will change the boys’ lives for ever.

Published January 2012 by Oxford University Press

Check HERE for my review of this brilliantly funny and touching book!

Blog Tour Interview: Ian Beck – Author of The Haunting Of Charity Delafield

Today we’re asking Ian Beck some questions on his new book, The Haunting Of Charity Delafield.
Hi Ian and thanks for stopping by. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your latest book, The Haunting of Charity Delafield?
Oddly the real inspiration behind the book was a little drawing I made of a girl wearing a long bright red coat out walking in the snow. I had at first imagined that she was going to be a character in a picture book, because at that time (some years ago) I was mainly working in that area. The picture book never happened but both my editor and my agent liked her and reminded me about her now and then, and so she was eventually fetched out of limbo and I began to develop her story in a longer form. This began out of a game I used to play with my daughter Lily when she was younger, involving tiny little letters from faeries. After many false starts and abandoned drafts the letters never made it into the final version of the story, as so often happens things change radically as you write and re-wrte.

I love books set in Victorian times (as Charity Delafield is) Why do you think it makes such a fascinating period for stories?
We have inherited a huge and energetic imaginary world from the Victorians. Steam and fog and industry and progress are somehow all muddled together with lingering superstitious beliefs and nascent technologies. This makes for an irresistible world, well to me at any rate. I can’t help but be attracted to it. My early reading of H G Wells and of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and a later obsession with the Fantomas novels, which are set in late 19th century Paris have all fuelled my interest too. My novel Pastworld although set in the future, is about a massive theme park which attempts to recreate with scrupulous accuracy the Victorian London of the literary imagination. On a practical, story making level, it is easier for useful muddles mysteries and misunderstandings to take place in a world with no mobile communications technology.
I am hopelessly wedded to that period although not exclusively, I also have an obsession with London in World War 2 having grown up so closely to that war’s aftermath and I hope to feature that setting in a book soon.

There’s a fairy tale quality to your book, and looking on Amazon this seems
to be a theme for you (in your illustrations too) Are you inspired by old
fairy tales? Do you have a favourite?
As a working illustrator and would be creative writing student at the City Literary Institute in London back in the very early 1970s I was introduced by a teacher to the work of Bruno Bettleheim which opened my eyes to the deep roots and uses of the Fairy Tale. They are marvellous and astonishing things and open to so many ways of retelling updating etc, because they deal with all the big and fundamental states of being, with love and loss, wealth and poverty, happiness and suffering, hunger fear and tragedy all condensed down into those marvellously compressed stories. If I do have a favourite it would be The Six Swan Brothers.

I’d love to read more about Silas and what happens for him next. Do you have
any plans to write about him?
As a matter of fact I do, I am hoping he will have his own story to explore, without going into too much detail, or giving anything away I would like to follow him on his journey and also examine his roots, he was after all a foundling, much to discover there I think.

You’re also a well known illustrator. Why do you think illustrations are so
important to children’s books, not just picture books?
My earliest reading memories are the things which have stayed in my mind tenaciously from when I was seven or eight. The little moments of magical revelation, which are most often a combination of the words and the illustrations working together. The instance that comes immediately to mind is Lucy’s first meeting with Mr Tumnus in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. The narrative shock of being in that other world is deepened and enriched by the addition of the marvellous line drawing by Pauline Baynes. Mr Tumnus walking arm in arm with Lucy with the simply rendered soft layers of snow covering the ground and the trees and his umbrella and parcels. That scene is inextricably linked to the drawing which compliments and deepens the writing, each serves the other and the imagination is stimulated. I regret the lack of drawings or illustrations in most YA or adult texts. The additions of the simple black and white drawings I hope add something to the feel of Charity Delafield even if they only provide hints at the edge of the story.

We all have a favourite book from childhood, can you tell us about yours?

My maternal Grandmother was a very patient woman and she would read to me over and over again the original tiny little landscape shaped Thomas the Tank Engine Books, which were relatively new when I was two or three in the late 1940s, so I suppose they were a favourite then, but mainly I think for the sunlit world of the pictures. When I could read for myself I devoured everything without discrimination. I was especially fond of The Borrowers, (again marvellous illustrations by Diana Stanley) and later the Just William books by Richmal Crompton, (drawings by Thomas Henry) and as a teenager I happily discovered Le Grand Meaulnes by Henri Alain-Fournier which is still a favourite.

Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring young writers or illustrators?
When I left Art School in 1968 I wasted too much time not daring to show people my illustration work. I drifted about for a year and did little part time jobs and dreamed of being an illustrator. I should have just got on with it there and then, so my first piece of advice is don’t be shy get on with it.

I wrote at art school bits and pieces, chunks and fragments, none of them finished, partly out of idleness partly out of fear of failing. No one ever saw those attempts. I moved to London and eventually succeeded in being an illustrator, I was still starting off bits of novels and short stories, but nothing was ever properly finished. Eventually, many years down the line, I was commissioned to illustrate a story of my choice by a publisher. I chose a story by Colette. The publisher didn’t like the translation. ‘Haven’t you ever written anything’, he asked. I took a part finished story from my drawer and finished it. It was published and the confidence that gave me moved me on to write my first full length novel for Children, The Secret History of Tom Trueheart, Boy Adventurer, and then on further to write 5 other novels including The Haunting of Charity Delafield. My second piece of advice therefore is to actually finish things. Without the lump of clay that may be your first draft you have nothing to refine, shape mould, re-write and make work. Finishing things is the key.

Thanks Ian for taking the time to answer our questions!

I loved The Haunting Of Charity Delafield and will be reviewing it later today. In The mean time check out the trailer!



Blog Tour: Mantelpiece Musings: Interview with Annabel Pitcher

Today we are very happy to be a part of Mantelpiece Musings, the blog tour for Annabel Pitcher’s ‘My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece’. Below you can see our interview with the author herself!


Describe your book in 5 words.
Oooh, tough!  No, wait, is that two gone already? Those words don’t count do they?! Right, let’s start again. I would describe My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece as real, funny, quirky, emotive and hopeful.
 
Did you need to do any research for My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece?
I did a little bit, checking my facts about Islam and visiting websites devoted to people who had lost their lives in terrorist attacks, but mostly I just wrote as authentically as I could, drawing upon my own experience. I find it very easy to empathise with people, so it wasn’t too difficult to imagine the father and his reaction to losing Rose, or how a child of Jamie’s age might become fed up of the attention given to her urn on the mantelpiece.

Who would you like to see as the main cast if My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece got made into a movie/ TV adaptation?
There are some fantastic questions here. I have never been asked this before.
Okay, here goes… (swigs tea and loads up Google)

Jamie – Ryan Turner from the front cover and trailer
(see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7GQljV3xtQ&feature=related). He’s always been my Jamie, ever since I saw him in the promotional video.

Jasmine – Saiorse Ronan.  She’s a good actress, very real and raw and sort of strong yet vulnerable, which is important for Jas.

Dad – Right, this is a strange one, but I always picture Simon Pegg. Though he’s better known for his comedic stuff, he’s a great dramatic actor as well, and he’s a little unhinged but empathetic, which is crucial for Jamie’s father.

Some authors do certain things while they write like listen to music etc. Do you have to do anything like this while you write?
I prefer to work in silence, but when that gets too much, I always listen to classical music when I write. Anything with lyrics I find too distracting.
 
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Since about the age of ten, I always thought of writing as one of my career options – but I also considered playing for Manchester United (men’s team) and becoming an international spy. I wasn’t particularly serious about it, but I knew that I loved writing and I loved the way I felt when I was making up stories, and how fun it was to invent different worlds. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to take my ambition to be a writer more seriously. In a bookshop in Ambleside, I suddenly realised that people were making a living as authors, and there was no real reason why I couldn’t give it a go too. That day, I bought loads of notepads and pens and started to jot down different ideas. A couple of years later, I wrote My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.
 
Are there any other YA authors that you admire?
I like Jennie Downham for the courage of her writing. She deals with difficult subjects in an unflinchingly honest way, never becoming sentimental or resorting to cheap shock tactics. The characters in her books feel so real, as if they are people you could meet in the shop or at school, and that is difficult to achieve. I also admire David Almond. He writes poetically, really focusing on the lyricism and sound of the words, and is more concerned with the beauty of a piece of work than its commercial appeal. I respect that.   
 
What is your favourite book of all time and why?
The Go-Between. It is a beautiful, coming-of-age tale that perfectly captures the uncertainty, pain and excitement of leaving childhood and being on the brink of adolescence. I’ve read it five times and I’m sure I will read it five more!
 
What book are you reading at the minute?
At the moment, I am laughing my way through Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman.  

Which YA (human) character would you love to be and why?
Hermione in Harry Potter, for her brains, her guts and the adventures that she has. I’d love to escape from a goblin bank on the back of a dragon, hunt for horcruxes, sleep in a magical tent in the middle of the countryside with Ron Weasley… Yes, I’d do all of that quite happily!

Which YA (non human) character would you love to be and why?
I think I’d have to be Pan, Lyra’s daemon, in Northern Lights, for his ability to shape-shift. Imagine being a bird when you just fancy getting away from it all, a mouse if you want to hide from the world, a lion if you need to be brave… Incredible.


Thanks so much Annabel for answering our questions! It has been a pleasure having you on the blog today!

The new edition of My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece was published by Indigo on 29th September!

Author Interview: Keris Stainton

Today we’re welcoming author Keris Stainton and asking her a few questions about her latest book, Jessie Hearts NYC and what she’ll be up to this summer.

Hi Keris and welcome! Can you describe your latest book, Jessie ❤ NYC in 5 words?


This is cheating because a reviewer called it this, but: love letter to New York. 


Quite a lot of people know how much you love New York but if you had to choose between going there for a whole summer or anywhere else in the world, where would you pick?


Hmm. That’s tricky. I probably wouldn’t want to go there for a whole summer because it’s way too hot for me (I’m really feeble in the heat). I’d like to spend summer by a lake somewhere – there’s one in Canada I’ve got my beady eye on…


Jessie manages to go and see quite a lot of the sights in NYC. If you only had time to go and see one thing, what would it be?


Top of the Rock, I think. It’s just amazing. It’s glamorous and exciting, the views are amazing – Central Park in one direction, midtown Manhattan, including the Empire State Building, in the other – I recommend it to everyone. 

If you could have a summer romance with anyone from NYC, who would it be? 

Ooh. Good question. Well Penn Badgley was my original inspiration for Finn (though I don’t picture Finn as him anymore) so that would be nice… But I should really go for someone more age-appropriate and that would be Jon Stewart. Love him.


 How much research did you have to do for this book?

Well I’ve been to New York five times, so I was pretty well up on New York before starting the book. My lovely friend Sally Lawton is a playwright and she and her partner gave me a tour of a theatre, which was completely brilliant. The rest of the research I did on Twitter and Google Street View…


Your teenage characters are always so realistic. Do you take inspiration from anyone you know?

Thank you. And no. I’m really thrilled when people say they’re realistic because I just write them with a combination of what I would have done in whatever situation and what feels true for the character. 

Who would you like to see as the main cast if Jessie got made into a movie/ TV adaptation?


I wouldn’t say no to Penn Badgley for Finn, but I’m not sure about Jessie. Maybe Kaya Scodelario from Skins (who I think someone suggested would be good to play Della, oddly enough). 

Can you recommend us some of your favourite beach reads?

Certainly! Both of Sarra Manning’s adult novels, Unsticky and You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me are amazing. If you’re interested in New York there’s a lovely book called Summer of Tiffany, which is a memoir by Marjorie Hart who worked at Tiffany’s in the 1940s. Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells is another lovely, summery book.


Both of your books have been set in summer. Why do you think summer is such a great setting for books?


Because you don’t have to worry about school! But also summer is so exciting, particularly when you’re a teenager. You get these six weeks where you’re basically free to do whatever you want (within reason!). I remember how exciting it was (even though I never actually did anything exciting, but I always hoped I might). 

Finally, where and what will you be reading this summer?

We’re going to Northumberland for a week and I can’t wait. I’ll be taking Kay Woodward’s new book Wuthering Hearts and Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols. I’ll probably reread The Writer’s Tale by Russell T Davies, and I’m finally going to read The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe, which has been on my wishlist for ages.

Thanks Keris!

Find Keris: 

Twitter @keris

You can read Lyndsey’s review of Jessie Hearts NYC here & Vicki’s review of 
Della Says: OMG! here



Author Interview: Savita Kalhan

Savita Kalhan is author of the incredibly creepy novel, The Long Weekend. Welcome Savita and thanks for joining us today!


 Hi Savita, please introduce yourself and tell us about your book The Long Weekend.
Hi Vicki, thank you for inviting me! I’m Savita, apart from being a mum, reading too late into the night, and generally trying to cram far too much into a 24 hour day, I’m also the author of The Long Weekend – the book that’s been scaring everyone half to death! The book is about two boys who are abducted after school – it’s a thriller where the monster is very real and the fear is palpable.
 The Long Weekend is a fantastic thriller. What inspired you to write it and are you a fan of thrillers yourself? 
The inspiration for The Long Weekend came from a flyer that went round local schools warning that a car had been seen loitering outside a few schools and that the driver had tried to snatch children. I was horrified when I saw that. Most kids are pretty aware of stranger-danger, but kids can be easily misled and tricked if they’re distracted. It only takes a moment of not thinking straight. A scenario came to my mind where an abduction could happen with frightening ease.
Yes, I love thrillers! The best ones are so completely absorbing, gripping, full of suspense, and where you deeply care for the fate of the protagonists.
There are some very dark themes and issues touched upon in your novel and unlike many other YA novels, from a boy’s point of view. Was it a conscious decision to make your main characters male and something which was important to you?
It wasn’t a conscious decision, no. When the story arrived in my head, so did the two main characters of the book. It’s true that so many YA books are focussed on girls that it does make me wonder whether most publishers think that as its girls and young women who are doing most of the reading then YA books should generally have female protagonists. Personally, I think YA readers, like all readers, love a good story told well, and all the YA bloggers have loved The Long Weekend.
I thought you captured Sam’s voice perfectly. How did you mange to do that? 
I love Sam! I don’t know why or how it happened, but when I sat down to write the story, Sam’s voice was right there in my head. That hadn’t happened before, and as soon as I started writing, his voice flowed and the story poured out. Strangely, the ending of the story was written several months after the rest of the book yet Sam’s voice still remained clear in my head. I have a very sociable 13 year old son, so I do get to spend a lot of time around kids, and perhaps that helped.
I imagine you did quite a lot of research when writing The Long Weekend, can you tell us a bit about that.
Actually, unlike other books I’ve written, I didn’t do any research at all for The Long Weekend. I just sat down every day and wrote. I do, however, know many survivors of child abuse and they have shared their stories with me.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy reading? If you were to recommend us one book-which would it be?
I haven’t lost my childhood habit of reading practically any genre! So I still love thrillers, modern classics, world literature, fantasy, contemporary novels, teen and YA fiction…
I loved I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti, recently republished as YA novel. Last year’s favourite reads included Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick and Stolen by Lucy Christopher. Gillian Phillips’s Firebrand is excellent, as is Before I Die by Jenny Downham.
Amongst my all-time favourite books are – A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, and Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, and…
You see, once you get me started, I can’t stop! I find it impossible to recommend just one book.
Can you tell us about your path to becoming a published author? Was it something you always wanted to do? Why Young Adult/Teen fiction?

The path that led me here has been a long, crazy, meandering one! When I was young I wanted to be a teacher, a librarian or a bookshop owner. I never really thought that I could ever be a proper writer! I graduated with a Joint Honours in Politics and Philosophy, but then decided I wanted to turn my hobby in Batik design into a full-time occupation. I had exhibitions, and taught Batik in schools and ran workshops for Art teachers. Then I went to live abroad for several years and taught English. That’s when I started writing. I embarked upon writing an epic fantasy trilogy for teens! After my son was born, I came back to live in the UK and finished the trilogy while he was still young. As soon as he started school, my writing changed and became much more gritty and real, and contemporary. I still wasn’t sure of my writing and I was full of self-doubt – even after finishing The Long Weekend I sat on it for a few months before plucking up the courage to try and find an agent!

I followed the advice in The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and sent of three sample chapters, a synopsis and a cover letter. That’s when the waiting began – something, I’ve realised, that is part of the writer’s life, so the sooner you get used to it the better!

My agent, Anne Dewe, is wonderful and it was she who found me my publishers – Andersen Press. My editor, Liz Maude, loved the book, and scheduled it for publication within a year (it can take anything from a year to a year and a half for a book to go from manuscript to bookshop!)

I think I fell into writing for young adults and teens almost by accident. It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision. I wrote a lot, and as I wrote I think I gradually uncovered my voice…
Do you have any tips for any aspiring writers out there?
Read, read read! Write, write, write! They’re the two most important things an aspiring writer can do! Have your work critiqued. If a particular style doesn’t work for you, then try a different style until you find your voice. Get an agent, become internet savvy, and meet as many other writers, published and unpublished, as you can. Join a group like SCBWI (society of children’s book writers and illustrators). And lastly, don’t give up!
Finally, what’s next for Savita Kalhan? 
Well, I’ve just finished writing a new thriller and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it might get a green light…



Good Luck Savita…we look forward to more from you in the future! 


You can read my review of The Long Weekend here



Author Interview: Cally Taylor + Win a signed copy of Heaven Can Wait!


I recently read and reviewed Heaven can Wait (read my review here) by Cally Taylor and absolutely loved it! If you haven’t already read it, then I really recommend you do! Today I’m pleased to welcome Cally, who has been kind enough to give some brilliant answers to my questions!


Hi Cally, and thanks so much for dropping by! Firstly could you introduce yourself?

Hello! I’m Cally, I’m thirty-six and I live in Brighton. I wanted to be an author from the age of eight but it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally started, and finished, writing a novel. That novel was ‘Heaven Can Wait’ and it was published by Orion in October 2009.


Your first book Heaven Can Wait is certainly unique! Where did you get the inspiration from to write it?


A couple of things inspired me to write ‘Heaven Can Wait’ – the sudden death of a friend in 2006 and a comment from my then boyfriend about how long I’d wait before I moved on if he died (he was a chirpy kind of guy!). An image of a woman, madly in love and about to be married, popped into my head. What would she do if she died the night before her wedding day and had the chance to return to earth to be with her fiancé? That woman became Lucy, my main character.


Lucy is such a fun character and I loved her ditzy side (I relate!) is she based on you or anyone you know?


Lucy is a completely fictional character and much sweeter than I am but we’re both romantics and both share a bit of a ditzy side! I’m always embarrassing myself one way or another but at least these days I can console myself by thinking, “Hey, that would make a really funny bit in a novel!” A couple of the embarrassing things that happen to Lucy in ‘Heaven Can Wait’ actually happened to me but I’m not admitting which ones!


I also found Claire’s story incredibly touching, how did she come about?

In the same way that I share a few traits with Lucy I also share a few traits with Claire. When I was a teenager I was horribly grumpy, wore far too much black and was quite insecure. I used those emotions as a basis for Claire’s character but she’s a lot more sarcastic than I ever was and made extreme decisions and choices that I’d never have considered. I’m so glad you found her story touching. I grew really fond of her as I was writing ‘Heaven Can Wait’.


I love asking this question (sorry!)… If Heaven Can Wait was to be made into a movie, which actors would play: Lucy, Anna and Archie?

I’d absolutely love to see ‘Heaven Can Wait’ as a film! I waver over who I’d choose to play the main characters but think I’d pick Rachel Weisz as Lucy, Jim Sturgess as Dan and Elijah Wood as Archie (he’d have to put on an English accent though!).


If you had the choice would you choose heaven or ghost? And if ghost…who/where would you haunt?

Oooh, brilliant question! I’d only choose to be a ghost if there was a chance of getting to heaven eventually. I’d also want to be able to move around a bit. I think I’d get really bored if I was stuck in one house for eternity! If I could be a ghost for a bit I’d probably sneak around trying to uncover conspiracy theories (like whether there are aliens in Area 51 and whether Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana were murdered). I’d also spy on people like the Queen and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to see what they get up to when they’re out of the public eye!


Can you tell us about your route to publication?

After I’d edited ‘Heaven Can Wait’ I bought a copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook and looked through it for agents who represented chicklit. I drew up a shortlist of six agencies and sent them a covering letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters of my novel (or whatever they asked for). The Darley Anderson Agency was the first agency to ask for the full manuscript of my novel. I received some fantastic feedback, did a bit more work on my novel and signed with them about a year later. A month after that Orion offered me a two book contract. Since then my agent has gone on to sell the foreign rights to Germany, Spain, Russia, Brazil, Hungary, Czech Republic, Taiwan and China
.


Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Read a lot. And don’t just read for pleasure – read books you love to try and work out how the author kept you so gripped and/or make you laugh/cry. Read bad books too so you can learn what doesn’t work! I also bought lots of ‘how to’ books on writing a novel (I’ve listed my favourites on my website – www.callytaylor.co.uk – under the ‘links’ tab) and learnt some important lessons on structuring a novel, pace and character.

The most important tip is to actually write. It’s easy (and a lot of fun) to dream about holding your published novel in your hands but that won’t happen unless you sit down day after day and actually write the thing! It’s easy to get disheartened or lose interest in your novel when you’re slogging away at it day after day but every published author I know feels the same way. My motto is ‘First drafts are supposed to be rubbish.’ It’s the rewriting and polishing you do after you’ve written that first draft that turns it into a book. Finally, make sure you get feedback on what you’ve written before you approach agents. Don’t rely on friends and family who are likely to say nice things to spare your feelings. Join a writing group (a local group or online) and ask for honest criticism. It can really sting at first but it’ll make you a better writer.


When you’re not writing, who do you like to read? Favourite books/authors?

I read everything and anything! My favourite chicklit author ever is Lisa Jewell and I devoured ‘The Truth About Melody Browne’ in a couple of days when it came out last year. I also read all the Twilight books. This year I’ve read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls, ‘Twenties Girl’ by Sophie Kinsella and am currently reading ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ by Muriel Barbery. I’ve got a huge pile of books waiting to be read on my bookshelf and am itching to start reading ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by Steig Larsson because I’ve heard great things about it.

What’s next for Cally Taylor?


I’ve just received the edits for my second novel from my editor and am about to start work on them. Hopefully that novel, currently untitled, will be out in January 2011. Once the edits are out of the way I’m going to start work on my third novel. I can’t wait!

I Can’t wait for the new book! Thanks so much for answering my questions.

Now Your Chance To Win!

‘What would I do without you, Lucy Brown?’ he said, and kissed me softly. I held his face in my hands and kissed him back. I felt that life just couldn’t get any more perfect. And I was right, it wouldn’t. By the end of the next day, I’d be dead. Lucy is about to marry the man of her dreams – kind, handsome, funny Dan – when she breaks her neck the night before their wedding. Unable to accept a lifetime’s separation from her soulmate, Lucy decides to become a ghost rather than go to heaven and be parted from Dan. But it turns out things aren’t quite as easy as that. When Lucy discovers that Limbo is a grotty student-style house in North London she’s less than thrilled. Especially after meeting her new flatmates: grumpy, cider-swilling EMO-kid Claire; and Brian, a train-spotter with a Thomas the Tank Engine duvet and a big BO problem. But Lucy has a more major problem on her hands – if she wants to become a ghost and be with Dan she has to complete an almost impossible task. How the hell does a girl like Lucy find a girlfriend for the dorkiest man in England? IT geek Archie’s only passions are multi-player computer games and his Grandma. But Lucy only has twenty-one days to find him love. And when she discovers that her so-called friend Anna is determined to make a move on the heart-broken, vulnerable Dan, the pressure is really on…

Cally has kindly offered to send a signed copy of her novel, Heaven Can Wait to two lucky winners!

This contest is open to everyone, you don’t have to be a follower or tweet about it (although obviously I’d be grateful if you did!)

But to make things interesting, I’m offering an extra entry if you leave a comment telling me who you would haunt if you were a ghost and why! (this is entirely optional, you still get one entry just filling the form in below)

Competition closes at midnight Thursday 15th April and the winners will be picked at random and notified by email.

Good Luck!