As ‘Pippa’s Cornish Dream’,climbs up the Amazon UK rankings, I’m thrilled to have it’s author Debbie Johnson on my blog.
Since Pippa Harte was forced to take over her parent’s farm, she’s barely had time to shave her legs let alone make time for love. Now she’s more likely to be getting down and dirty mucking out the pigs – and avoiding those of the human male variety.
When Ben Retallick walks out of her childhood and back into her present it seems that perhaps Pippa has more time than she thought. All Poldark smoulders and easy-going charm, Ben’s definitely worth whipping her wellies off for!
But Ben is a man with his own past and his own issues – and as much as she’s enjoying having him around, she’s got to get a grip. After all life isn’t always a beach … even if you are in Cornwall.
It’s lovely to have you here Debbie, your books always make me smile. Do you see the funny side in real life situations too? Does this give you ideas for stories or are they pure imagination?
First of all, thank you – I always like to make people smile! I try to always see the funny side – I have a house full of kids and dogs, which does help! Life is often a serious and challenging affair, and a sense of humour is essential – my books are all about escapism. Some of the ‘funnies’ in Pippa’s Cornish Dream were inspired by my own children, and my crime thriller Fear No Evil draws a lot on the Scouse wit I am surrounded by!
Cold Feet at Christmas’ was a bestseller. Was it difficult writing a book to follow this, or had you already written your latest release, ‘Pippa’s Cornish Dream’?
I had already written Pippa’s Cornish Dream – and now wait nervously to see if she does anywhere near as well as her older sibling! The difficult one is the book I’m writing now – a Christmas follow-up to Cold Feet. Writing to someone else’s deadline is always much harder, and a lot less fun!
How long have you been writing?
All my life. I was one of those geeky kids who was always inspired by a new notebook. I worked in journalism for many years, which is a very different style of writing, but does give you a certain discipline, as well as useful life experience. I started writing fiction seriously in 2010.
What inspired you to set Pippa’s Cornish Dream’ in Cornwall?
I’d been there on holiday, and was just blown away by it – quite literally on some days, as the weather was a little unpredictable! There is just something very special about the whole area. Then, this year, Poldark arrived on our TV screens and completely backed up my decision – it’s an amazing place.
It certainly is, I spent my honeymoon there many years ago and many happy holidays since. 🙂
What’s the inspiration behind the farm setting in Pippa’s Cornish Dream?
We stayed on a farm in Cornwall, and my kids loved being out every morning, feeding the chickens and the pig, and it was all a very different experience from our usual urban life in Liverpool – it just struck me as a wonderful setting for a romance; very earthy and beautiful, but also hard work.
What other books have you written?
Cold Feet at Christmas for HarperImpulse of course, but also two urban fantasy books called Dark Vision and Dark Touch, which came out in paperback on an imprint of Penguin Random House. I loved those – it was all that weird True Blood style stuff (vampires and witches and Goddesses and prophecies) but set against the very real backdrop of modern-day Liverpool. Fear No Evil is a crime thriller with a supernatural element, based around one of my all-time favourite creations, a PI called Jayne McCartney – the sort of woman you’d like to go to the pub with! That was with Maze, Avon’s digital branch. I have a new HI out for Christmas, and then next year – this is scary and exciting – my first print book for HarperCollins. It’s another romantic comedy, but very different than my earlier ones – it’s about a woman who hits 40 and finds her whole life in tatters, and how she rebuilds it. It was actually the first full book I ever wrote so I’m thrilled at the prospect of seeing it on the bookshelves at last!
That’s great, lots more for me to read.
What’s your favourite genre of book, to read? Why do you like this type of book?
I don’t have one particular genre – I read crime, fantasy, horror, women’s fiction. But it absolutely 100% has to have strong female characters and a few laugh out loud moments. Some of my favourite authors are Janet Evanovich, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, John Connolly, Robert Crais, Karin Slaughter and JD Robb/Nora Roberts. I get pretty excited when any of their books come out!
What’s your writing space like?
Very, very unglamourous! There is no literary salon, or shabby chic writing den – the other day in fact I was laughing about this, as I was trying to write while sitting on my sofa. My teenaged son had his mates around, and my younger two were watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. We had three dogs in the house – our own Golden Retriever and Black Lab, and a Springer Spaniel we were looking after. The noise levels were through the roof, the whole place was complete chaos, and I’m sitting there tapping away on my laptop trying to create some magic! But that’s my life, and I’m perfectly happy with it.
Sounds like mine. 🙂
What’s next for you, Debbie?
More writing. More chaos. More school runs. More nervously checking Amazon – more of everything, in fact! Apart from house work. That’s to be avoided at all costs.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us Debbie. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your books.
To read my 5* reviews of ‘Pippa’s Cornish Dream’ and ‘Cold Feet at Christmas’ Click on the book covers below:
Andy Batiste, at loggerheads with his degenerate cousin, seeks to discover the truth of his family history. Why was his pregnant grandmother forced to flee to France? What really happened to her husband during the German Occupation, sixty years ago? Who accused Edmund, the elder son and Batiste heir, of being an informer? Was he really a traitor – and who murdered him?
With Edmund’s brother Harold now head of the family, enjoying the wealth which ought to have come to Andy’s father, the family is forever divided. Andy yearns to clear Edmund’s name and restore his father to his rightful inheritance.
Into the conflict comes Charlotte Townsend, newly divorced, lonely and struggling with writer’s block and the consuming threat of impending loss. She returns for healing at Guernsey’s natural health centre, La Folie, and becomes involved in Andy’s family affairs.
Together they embark on a hunt for the truth…
Initially I only thought of writing one book, ‘Dangerous Waters’, as my homage to Guernsey where I had spent many happy years. Even when I wrote the second, ‘Finding Mother’, it didn’t occur to me I was writing a series! Writers are always told to ‘write what you know’ and I knew Guernsey pretty well so it seemed the obvious starting point. It was almost incidental that I allowed characters from ‘Dangerous Waters’ to pop up in Finding Mother, but readers seemed to like that and it’s been a feature of all my books since.
Your stories have atmospheric settings and memorable characters, are they inspired by real people and places or a product of a vivid imagination?
I appreciate the compliment, Jane! The settings are mainly real, Guernsey providing its own atmosphere beautifully. I do invent the homes of my characters but base some of them on properties I know. For example, Jeanne’s and Molly’s cottages in ‘Dangerous Waters’ are quite similar to my old home in Perelle on the west coast of Guernsey. The characters are probably an unconscious mix of real people and imagined. I would never knowingly use a real person in case it wasn’t a flattering portrayal and easily recognisable!
‘The Guernsey Novels’ are a mix of contemporary and historical. Would you like to write a purely historical, mystery novel?
Interesting question. Although I do a certain amount of historical research now, I’m not sure I could cope with the full immersion in the past needed to write a purely historical novel. Perhaps something to think about for the future…☺
Your stories always have great dialogue content; do you find this easy to write? Have you any tips for writing realistic dialogue?
Writing dialogue was hard for me initially, but has become easier with each book. As a psychotherapist I was used to hearing people talk and even now enjoy ear-wigging on conversations. I think if you really listen to how people talk to each other it becomes easier to write more natural dialogue. The key is to listen to different generations – speech changes dramatically from one age group to another. For example, my own children are in their thirties and I use their choice of expressions etc for my main characters in that age group.
What genres of books do you read, when you’re not writing?
Funnily enough I really enjoy historical mysteries! My favourites are those by C J Sansom as they are so detailed and I can imagine myself at the Tudor court. I also read some crime and thriller but am not keen on anything too gory. Books which focus on relationships and family, as opposed to pure ‘romance’ are also high on my list.
Your latest release in ‘The Guernsey Novels’ series is ‘The Family Divided’. What can you tell us about it?
The Family Divided follows Andy Batiste as he searches for the truth behind the split in the family. His grandfather, Edmund, was murdered shortly before the end of the Occupation in Guernsey, after being labelled a traitor. He left a young widow who didn’t realise she was pregnant when she fled to France weeks later having been cast aside by her husband’s family. Edmund’s younger brother subsequently inherited the family estate instead of Edmund and when his son James moves to Guernsey years later, he gets nothing. Andy wants his father to receive his due inheritance and rightful place in the family.
Andy is helped in his search by Charlotte Townsend, recently divorced and enjoying her second visit to the natural health retreat at La Folie. Charlotte, a publisher and newbie writer, has been struggling with her novel and when she learns of Andy’s quest, is eager to help and together they embark on the search for the truth.
Where’s your favourite place to write? What is it about your writing space that you like?
I rarely write anywhere other than at my desk in my small study. I used to write longhand and then type it up on my PC, meaning I could write anywhere. But two years ago I had problems with my right hand and, after an operation, decided to cut down the strain by only typing.
My space is cluttered but comfortable. I have a fairly large desk and a super cream leather office chair that supports my back. Essential for any writer! The room was the single bedroom of my house and when I moved in I made it my study, including writerly things like bookshelves and filing drawers.
How much research is necessary prior to writing your stories? What does this involve?
Most research is focused on the Guernsey Occupation, which features in all my books. I was lucky enough to talk to people who lived through it and there are numerous published first-hand accounts. It’s a major influence on present-day Guernsey and Liberation Day – on 9th May – is a public holiday. I do some research for the contemporary major element of the stories but this might only involve such things as legal issues. Guernsey law is based on French law and can be quite different to English.
Have you written any other books?
No – not yet.
What’s next for Anne Allen and her writing? Will there be more Guernsey Novels?
I’ve started mapping out book 5 of The Guernsey Novels which will be a little different to the previous books. Called ‘Echoes of Time’ it’s a tale of betrayal, injustice and revenge, with a strong reference to the Occupation but set mainly in the present. There’s a slightly supernatural feel to this one and I’m looking forward to writing it. And there will be some familiar faces making an appearance ☺
Thank you for talking to us Anne. Here’s my review of The Family Divided #4 in The Guernsey Novel series.
The catalyst for this story is an incident in World War 2. A death accompanied by malicious rumour divides a family. Charlotte, who we met in ‘Guernsey Retreat’, makes a welcome return. ‘The Family Divided’ maintains the mystery and gentle romance, characteristic of this series. This story casts Charlotte in the role of detective as she unravels the secrets and rumour buried in the Batiste’s family’s past, to help and stay close to her new friend Andy Batiste.
Well paced, this story explores the growing relationship between Charlotte and Andy, and lets us glimpse the lives of previously introduced characters, Jeanne, Louise and Malcolm. I liked the disparity between Andy’s family and Charlotte’s and how it allows both characters to grow and develop. Charlotte’s investigation is believable and what she discovers builds to a tense and well resolved ending.
If you like your mystery with vivid imagery and sweet romance you will definitely enjoy The Guernsey Novels series.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Read my reviews of the first three books in The Guernsey Novel series by clicking on the links below:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Today I have author, Imy Santiago on my blog. ‘finding Reese’ the second book in the Safelight series is out now.
Join the adventure.
Blog Tour: finding Reese.
finding Reese. a SAFELIGHT novel vol.2
Adult Contemporary Romance with Mature Content
Writer: Imy Santiago
Date of Publication: May 26, 2015
Cover Design by CoverMe, Darling
About finding Reese.
Hope Breeds Life…
Sometimes destiny and fate have a weird way of reminding us of our inescapable vulnerability, but more importantly our inexorable humanity. Life is fleeting, and what little time we have left in this world, we must make do with what we have, and cherish those whom we love by our side.
Fresh back from the Jackson Reese Press Tour, sports journalist Catalina Pardo rushes back to British Columbia after receiving unexpected and distressing news. With the help of award winning photographer Stryder Martynus, Catalina is determined to prevent the news of tragedy and heartbreak from governing her life again.
Together they will embark on a new journey of introspection to overcome the ghosts and raw emotions of their pasts−on a long and unpredictable road full of complicated circumstances−to find healing, hope and salvation.
The smallest of gifts−like a friendship bracelet−have the power to save your life, and unlike fairy tales, happy endings are seldom guaranteed…
*Adult Contemporary Romance with Mature Content−Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not suitable for readers under the age of eighteen.*
Excerpt from finding Reese.
It’s such a peaceful feeling, trekking down the mountain−hearing the sounds of your board scraping against the snow, the light spray of powder landing all over your goggles and going up your nose. These are the little things that mean so much to me when I’m riding. I enjoy the silence as I become one with nature. It fills my soul with feelings I can’t even begin to describe.
But there’s something off about this line in particular. There’s an eerie feeling I simply can’t shake off. Maybe I’m just over-thinking things, or Rob’s resistance this morning somehow shook all of my confidence away, but a part of me feels this could be it.
A loud crack on the side of the mountain straightens my spine, followed by a shrill scream from Chris. Looking behind him, I see a cloud of snow and ice barreling down the mountain. The ground shakes as nature reclaims its territory. I let out a guttural roar to warn Rem, and he looks back at the monster behind us. I can’t see his eyes, but I can tell he’s scared by the way he’s flailing his arms trying to figure out how to outrun it.
I journey over, trying to find a safe spot to land, and hopefully escape the avalanche. A garbled cry for help comes from behind me, and I turn my neck just in time to see Chris sucked into the claws of the avalanche. “NO!” I scream, horrified.
I’ve lost all sense of place and time, but my body seems to be taking me to safety as my board zigzags down to the west side of the mountain. I’ve been able to avoid avalanches in the past, but this time around, I’m not so lucky. It takes another second before the avalanche sucks me under.
My body is tossed around like a rag doll until I’m buried beneath the snow. It’s packed in around me tightly; I can’t move my legs or arms, and as the snow settles, it feels like I’m encased in a pool of hardened cement. It’s becoming harder to breathe with each passing second as my body relays to my brain my death is imminent.
My mind replays memories of my life before me like a movie, and bitter frustrated tears stream down my face crystallizing quickly as the freezing cold sweeps over me. I’ve always feared dying like this, trapped in the place I love the most, in the snow. My thoughts are of my family, especially mom and Jupiter. My tears quickly become painful sobs as the contractions of my cries tighten the snow pack around me. Catalina… My best friend and confidante−the news of my death will crush her.
I wrestle against the hardened blanket of snow and ice to move my arms, and after a few seconds of unwavering persistence, my arms come free. My hands desperately push the snow away from my chest, trying to get hold of the radio. With shaky fingers I press the call button.
“Base, this is Jax. Do you copy? I’m trapped, but I’m okay. Can anyone hear me?” Taking small measured breaths, I wait for a reply, but all I get is static interference. “Base, this is Jax. I’m on the western quadrant of the mountain. I’m alive. Can anyone hear me?” Once again, static feedback rings in the small pocket of snow surrounding me.
No, no. This can’t be happening. My body shakes violently as the freezing cold goes through all of my layers. I’m finding it hard to breathe, and if no one comes soon, I’ll be dead from hypothermia.
I’m so cold I can’t feel my limbs, and the more breaths I take, the more exhausted I become. My life as I know it hangs by a thread. Exhausted, I close my eyes and say a prayer. I ask God to have mercy on my soul. While I’m not the most spiritual of men, I think He’s always had my back. All the stupid shit I’ve done, all the risks I’ve taken, and always rising from them all.
The clock is ticking. I need to dig myself out somehow and go home. I refuse to let this be my end. Catalina−the bracelet−look for me, please!
“Base, please. This is Jackson Reese. I’m alive. Someone come and get me. Please,” I cry into the radio, praying someone answers. I’ll keep trying until my dying breath. This is not how I was destined to die. Not here and not like this.
Closing my eyes, I rest. What happens next is all in God’s hands.
©2015 Imy Santiago – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Buy links: finding Reese.
Signed LIMITED First Edition Paperback via Direct Order
Teaser Gallery: finding Reese.
‘chasing Reese.’, was your debut release in January of this year, Have the last few months lived up to your expectations?
Yes and no. The past few months have been very daunting, mainly due to writing two books simultaneously: finding Reese.−the sequel to chasing Reese., and We Met on a Train. Because I was so engrossed with Catalina, Stryder, and Jackson, I shelved Evan Pryce−main character in We Met on a Train−to focus on completing finding Reese. There are many readers who have yet to discover the SAFELIGHT series. I look forward to gaining new readership when they do.
I have learned to roll with the punches, and it would make me a terrible liar if I didn’t admit I faced a lot of adversity after chasing Reese. released. The most valuable lesson I have learned since launching chasing Reese. is that sometimes you have to take a step back in order to disengage yourself from negative situations, and people. At some point it adversely affected my creative process, so I had to dig deep and teach myself, with the help of some very supportive readers, to not allow negativity to take control of my creativity. I worked out my frustrations while penning finding Reese. I truly believe my experiences helped me become a better writer.
There are three main characters in ‘chasing Reese.’, yet it isn’t a love triangle, what was your inspiration for this first story in the ‘safelight series’?
I believe I am the type of woman who believes in not sharing passionate, romantic love with more than one person. Why three characters? Why do their lives intertwine with each other’s?
The answer is simple. I wanted to write about love in all of its splendour; from the honeymoon phase, to heartbreak. Love has so many facets; it can be passionate and romantic, filial, or friendly among many others. No two people can love the same way, or with the same intensity.
Back when I was in college, I was an arts and humanities major. Two of my favorite courses were Philosophy and Logic. I’ve always wanted to challenge societal conventions, and back then I knew I wanted to write a thesis of what I think love is based on my personal experiences. Love can make or break a person, and that’s why I challenged myself to portray limitless love between three people. When you break down the SAFELIGHT series to its most basic form, it is basically a thesis about love−real, and honest-to-God love.
Is Jackson, the focus of your next novel, ‘finding Reese.’, as the title suggests? Any clues as to what we can expect?
Many have asked me in private messages why the SAFELIGHT novels have Jackson’s surname in the title. The answer is simple. If not for Jackson Reese Catalina Pardo and Stryder Martynus would’ve never had a chance to fall in love. I don’t want to spoil it for new readers, but those who have read chasing Reese. are aware of Jackson’s nickname…Without him, Catalina’s and Stryder’s story would be hard to convey in a real, and relatable way. Jackson is the glue that keeps all the pieces of this intricate story together, and without him, there is no SAFELIGHT series.
The way chasing Reese. ended has brought forth a single question: Where is Jackson Reese? Is he alive? I’m pleased to announce that answer is quickly given within the first two chapters of finding Reese. There is another journey to endure; one that is not easily experienced. Jackson plays a larger role in finding Reese. You will see him in a deeper and raw dimension than in chasing Reese. While all of the character’s integrity remains untouched, I’ve explored a different story-line; one that is fresh and showcases a raw vulnerability that readers will enjoy.
Do you enjoy the social media aspect of being an author? What’s your favourite social media platform?
Let’s go back fifteen years before the dawn of social media. I ask myself, how did authors and writers do it, and become successful without having a universal platform to showcase their work? No matter how you slice it and dice it, the only way these authors made it was by writing a great book. They didn’t have the tools we have available today.
Having said that, social media is a great tool to share your work with the world. Deep down, many writers in my position dream of their books being traditionally published. And while that much is true, social media plays an important role in helping independent writers, like me, to reach unexplored markets and gain new readership.
For most of us, Facebook and Twitter are probably the most helpful social media platforms to get our word out. I’ve explored Google+ and tsu, and after observing social media skills from the likes of Colleen Hoover, and Mr. Reynard himself, I’ve come to terms with the fact that the broader you market yourself, the better your exposure is.
My favorite social media platform is Facebook; that is where the majority of my readers and followers are. Social media marketing requires a lot of effort and time; sometimes it takes away from my writing, but my readers and followers appreciate updates and tidbits about my writing journey, and love when I interact with them. The truth is I love interacting with my followers.
Your first book. ‘chasing Reese.’ is an interesting mix of realistic, contemporary dialogue and breathtaking description, which parts are easier to write and why?
I’m often commended for having snappy dialogue, and descriptive writing in my books. That is because deep down I am a frustrated screenwriter. *laughs* I’ve been writing since I was seven. I wrote my first screenplay when I was thirteen, and never stopped. Yet, I never felt like I was good enough to publish. After reading Gabriel’s Inferno, I acknowledged it was time to give it a try. And I’m glad I did. It took me almost two years to gather the courage to write SAFELIGHT. That screenplay was then rewritten five times before it became what we all know today as chasing Reese.
If I can’t see the scene, hear it, or feel it, then it’s harder to visualize a story as a reader. I think both snappy dialogue and breathtaking descriptions are necessary to help readers understand not only what the characters are saying, but it helps to make the connection between what’s going on inside their mind and what they’re expressing, thus depicting a better scene.
It has been close to six months since I read your review of chasing Reese. It has become one of my most treasured reviews. When I’m struggling, or feel like giving up, I always go back and read your review, and those left by others. I made it my mission to dissect each review in search of ways to improve and grow as a writer. I applied those changes in finding Reese.
For me it is easier to write about heartbreak rather than sex. I am thirty four, and I still find it incredibly awkward to write a detailed sex scene in a manner that is not overly explicit, or clinical. The sex scenes in my books are not there for the shock value, or for effect. Sex is a beautiful thing that two people in love can always share. I like to explore the beauty of two bodies in a manner that is both tasteful and memorable.
Do you have a writing process that you can share with us?
I wish I could say I’m structured like most writers out there, but I’m not. I’m extremely disorganized. I don’t have a routine, or follow steps on a list… Hell, I don’t even own a desk to write on! *laughs* I hope that gives you an idea of what I am trying to say. Sometimes I write on my phone, but ninety five percent of my writing is accomplished on my iPad (my friends think I’m nutty to prefer a tablet over a laptop).
When inspiration strikes, I usually write dialogue first based on the conversations going on inside my head (I’m not crazy, I promise!). Afterwards, I weave the dialogue into the scenes I see playing out in my mind. Like I mentioned earlier, if I can’t see it or feel it clearly, I scrap what I have, and start again. Once I’m satisfied with the descriptive writing of a scene, then I move on to the next.
What time of day do you do most writing, or does it vary?
To be honest, I don’t have a writing preference. Sometimes I write early in the morning, and other days in the evening. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I write whenever I can. Some days I can write 11,000 words, and other days 300 words, but the point is to always keep plugging away.
I love having my dogs with me when I’m writing. Do you have any animal writing companions?
Unfortunately I don’t have a pet of my own. There is a house dog, but he is rather old, and incredibly senile. If I’m writing during the daytime, my three year old daughter usually sits beside me or on my lap while I write and/or promote. Occasionally, my fiancé will sit next to me while I’m plugging away, but the majority of the time I undergo the process alone.
Do you enjoy reading other authors’ work, what are you reading at the moment?
Before I became a published writer I always loved to read. My passion for reading renewed itself after reading the Gabriel Series by Sylvain Reynard, whom I discovered after a conversation between him and E.L. James on Twitter. I read Fifty Shades of Grey and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until I read Gabriel’s Inferno that I felt inspired give writing another go.
I am currently reading Shattered Lies by Theresa Sederholt. It is the third and final novel in The Unraveled Series by this author. I’m enjoying this series immensely.
What’s next for Imy Santiago?
I have a few projects down the pipeline. My next release will be We Met on a Train. You can read the prologue at the end of finding Reese. Evan’s story (main character in We Met on a Train) is quite compelling, and it is definitely not a fluffy book. It is adult romance with mature content, but it comes with a trigger warning due to sensitive subject matter. I haven’t set a release date for it, but expect it to be available in the fall of 2015.
Once We Met on a Train is published, I will start the groundwork for saving Reese., which for now, is the final installment of the SAFELIGHT series. For 2016 I have planned another standalone ‘Words in Isolation’, and a coming-of-age novella ‘Sonnets of Pain’; both are in the concept development phase. And last, but not least, I will be translating both chasing Reese. and finding Reese. to Spanish.
2016 will be an incredibly busy, yet rewarding year.
Thank You Imy. Look out for my review soon…
For those who haven’t read ‘chasing Reese’ – a few details…
chasing Reese. a SAFELIGHT novel vol.1
Adult Contemporary Romance with Mature Content
Writer: Imy Santiago
Date of Publication: January 5, 2015
Cover Design by CoverMe, Darling
Book Teaser Trailer: Watch it here
Endorse and dream cast chasing Reese. on The Imagine Film List
Buy links: chasing Reese.
Signed LIMITED First Edition Paperback via Direct Order
Connect with Imy Santiago
About Imy Santiago
I love to read stories about loss, heartache and redemption so it didn’t shock me when I ended up writing stories of my own revolving around those themes. I write with my heart, using my life experiences and emotions to dictate the tone and path in which my fictional characters embark. I believe in the power of friendship and to always have hope because life is always full of pleasant surprises. If you were to ask me if I consider myself an author, I would tell you no, I am not. I’m just a girl who loves to write a good story that makes you consider life choices and the darkness that envelopes a broken heart. My stories are about loss, friendship, hope and love.
I hope to continue writing more books in the not so distant future. It could be said that writing keeps me sane and brings a smile to my face. When I’m not writing Adult Contemporary Romance novels, I’m enjoying a quiet life with my family on Long Island New York.
For full bio, please visit my website.
‘The Vintage Cinema Club’
Meet The Vintage Cinema Club….
Izzy is a wow at making unwanted things pretty, but with three brothers and her shabby chic furniture business to run she doesn’t have time to date. Could a fabulous French proposal change her mind?
Single mum Luce’s vintage bridal dresses are exquisite, but there’s no way she’s ever going to wear one or walk down the aisle for that matter. She’s a strictly no romance, one night kind of woman – or so she thinks…
Dida seems to have it all – a chocolate and banana cake recipe to die for, lovely kids (most of the time!) and a great lifestyle. But what good is a fabulous home, when your marriage has more cracks than a pavlova and your husband is having it off with half of Lithuania?
Three retro fabulous friends, in love with all things vintage, run their dream business from the faded grandeur of a rescued cinema. When that dream comes under threat, they’ll do whatever it takes to save it.
How did you become a writer? Was it always a life ambition or something that started as a hobby and then grew?
My first novel was a happy accident, that happened when a friend from writing class asked me to co-write a book with her. Plotting for Beginners came out in 2006, and was a paperback best seller. It was in Waterstones, and Sainsburys, and even had it’s own window display at Heathrow Airport.
Writing chicklit novels happened by accident too, when I got Kate Walker’s book on writing romance novels out of the library. I was meaning to get some exercises for my writers’ group, but I read the whole book, and I was hooked.
I used to work full time, doing up old houses, but after the property crash I suddenly found time to do the writing I’d always dreamed of. I write full time now, and for me writing is one of those things – the more of it I do, the more I want to do.
From reading the blurb; ‘The Vintage Cinema Club’, your next book, seems more women’s fiction than contemporary romance? What’s the story behind the book?
In my previous solo books the focus was always on one couple and their relationship, but this time I’m writing about a group of friends and following their lives over a summer.
The Vintage Cinema Club centres on Izzy, Luce and Dida, who have a fabulous vintage shop in a wonderful old cinema building. When their dream comes under threat they have to fight to save it.
It’s about the tangles of their very different lives and struggles, all bound together by their friendship. Think sassy, funny, warm hearted, happy…with a dash of sour to temper the sweetness.
If you fancy a summer hanging out with friends in country villages, with a great vintage vibe, a taste of France thrown in, and strands of love and heartache woven through, step this way. The only drawback is how much you might miss them when it’s over.
There are THREE main characters in ‘The Vintage Cinema Club’ what’s the inspiration behind them?
Izzy, Luce and Dida are very different characters, with very different lives, working together in their fab retro shop. I like writing about strong women, and I especially enjoyed writing about their interaction with each other. The contrast between the characters was as interesting for me to write as the individuals, because those differences actually shone a brighter spotlight on each of the women.
I love how close friends often know each other almost better than they know themselves. There are times when friendly interference leads to trouble, but the very best friends will always hang around to make good. I’ve really enjoyed writing about and exploring this different kind of relationship.
‘Vintage’ seems to be the contemporary obsession, why do you think this is?
I think people like vintage because it guarantees you something individual, that no one else can have. Retro will often give you classic design and fabulous quality, compared to newer things. It’s also a way of embracing recycling – being green, yet doing it with style. I heard someone say that modern vintage is looking forward through a window of the past. A lot of it is about rediscovering “pretty” too.
Are you a country girl or a town lover?
I like living in the country, because I love the space, and the dog walks, and the woods, and the flowers, and the wildlife. I do enjoy going to get the buzz of the town, and I love having an occasional day in Sheffield, or London.
The writing process fascinates me. Do you have one you can share with us?
I like to have the framework of a book in my head before I begin, and I make a lot of notes about that. Then I start to write. Some people say you should write a first draft without stopping, but for me it works better if I go back and edit, and add to the scenes as I go along. I call it layering up. It takes longer, but by the end the manuscript is almost there. I think this approach only works because I begin with a strong plan, and fill in the gaps.
Where do you like to write, office, living room, cafe or somewhere else?
I’ve always worked in the room between the kitchen and the rest of the house – calling it a dining room makes it sound way more up-market than it is. That way I’m right at the centre of family life, and on hand to sort everyone out as they need me. Noise isn’t a problem, because when I concentrate I’m oblivious, as my family will be able to tell you.
Have you a picture of your writing space?
No, because it’s not pretty.
What’s your favourite social media platform and why?
Twitter is great because it’s such an instant way to spread a short message fast. I also love the weirdness of Twitter, like the time I got followed by a werewolf. I find it easier to make more meaningful connections on Facebook, and I spend a lot of time there.
Have you any tips for new writers?
Writing is a solitary activity, but joining a writing group, either online, or locally, can help a lot. If you find the right group for you, you’ll get tips, support and inspiration. Try to write something every day – and luckily jokey emails to friends do count as writing. And never give up.
What’s next for Jane Linfoot?
Look out for a Christmas book 🙂
Jane Linfoot writes fun, flirty fiction, with feisty heroines and lots of heart. She lives with her family and pets in Derbyshire, and loves hearts, flowers, happy endings and all things vintage.
Check out my review of
The Vintage Cinema Club on my blog later. 🙂
How important is writing in your life?
Writing is very important to me. It’s one of my passions, one of my hobbies, a creative outlet where I can escape from the stresses and routine monotony of life.
You write both horror and paranormal stories; do you have a favourite genre?
I would say my favorite genres to read are horror, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, and general fiction. I also read things from other categories as well. But I like to write in the horror, paranormal, and supernatural genres.
What are the inspirations behind your paranormal story ‘The Haunted Academy’?
The inspiration for “The Haunted Academy” were news articles and stories I came across about how young students, particularly gay, lesbian, and transgender ones, were bullied in school. My story involves a young woman who identifies herself as a lesbian and how she is victimized by school bullies.
The paranormal investigators featured in The Haunted Academy are quirky and interesting. Are they going to appear in any future books?
The paranormal investigators in “The Haunted Academy” are featured in other short stories that I write and will appear in future stories. They are also the main protagonists in my short story collection, The Occult Files of Albert Taylor. More information about that book and my stories can be found at: https://theoccultfilesofalberttaylor.wordpress.com/
Do you have a favourite writing space?
I like to write at cafes and at home.
Do you have a writing process that you can share with us?
I often begin a story with fragments of scenes, characters, and some dialogue. They’re not cohesive in the beginning so I let them brew in my head for a while until they are clearer and until I feel the story is going in a direction that I’m satisfied with. I jot all these ideas down on paper so that if I can’t utilize them from the get go they’ll be saved for some future writing project when the time is right. Sometimes I get ideas for characters by people watching on the subway, at a café, and even from movies and television. I’ll scribble down these ideas in my notebook and flesh them out later.
What sort of books do you like to read?
I would say my favorite genres to read are horror, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, and general fiction. I also read things from other categories as well.
What’s your favourite social media platform? Why do you like it?
My favorite social media platform? Uhmm, I guess that would be Facebook because it allows you to keep in touch with a massive network of people and keeps you up to date with what others are doing. It’s a great networking tool for writers.
What’s next for Derek Muk? Do you have a current work in progress?
I’m currently working on a novella featuring Albert Taylor and his sidekick, Jan, who are the main characters in “The Haunted Academy”. Stay tuned for more details!
Professor Albert Taylor and his assistant, Jan, are paranormal investigators. They are hired to investigate spooky, mysterious goings-on at an exclusive all-girls school after a young student is murdered. What they assume will be a routine ghost haunting turns out to be something much more.
Meet Albert Taylor, an anthropology professor who investigates cases of the supernatural on the side. Welcome to this macabre gallery of horrors that includes such cases as Jack the Ripper, Bigfoot, the Boogeyman, the Spanish Inquisition, ghosts, cults, and more!
Sipping Pimms and eating fresh strawberries at Wimbledon are the perfect start to the British summer for Rayne. Immersed in her career as a journalist in the City, she’s been too busy and distracted to give men – or other outside interests – much of a chance lately. That’s something her friend Lily thinks she should correct, coming up with the perfect ‘sex with an ex’ solution – much to the amusement of the crowd on Centre Court!
When Rayne runs into old flame Adam, former good guy who is now all grown up with a hint of bad boy about him, it’s a tempting thought. But is that such a good idea, when she knows that four years ago, she broke his heart?
Back from travelling the world and settling into running the family business, Adam never expected to see his university girlfriend again. And he definitely didn’t think he would still be angry with her for running away, or that she would still have the same stunning effect on him. But she does, so maybe the perfect way to get her out of his dreams and from under his skin, is to have a hot sex-filled night with her? The only trouble is, one night might not be enough…
First love – can you ever go back?
Congratulations on your latest release Strawberries at Wimbledon, Nikki. Can you share the highlights of your writing journey with us?
There have been loads of highlights over the last fifteen years, when I first started writing my first novel – both big and small. (Writing took a back seat for eight years in the middle while I pursued a HR qualification and had my son). The moments that stick out in my mind include:
• The first positive report I received about one of my manuscript from a reader on the Romantic Novelists Association ‘New Writers Scheme’ which said the book was of publishable standard.
• Getting an Honorable Mention for the RNA Elizabeth Goudge Trophy in 2010 and the phone call from Katie Fforde (one of my favourite authors, and the judge that year) that followed, congratulating me and telling me to keep writing.
• Being offered my first publishing contract for my short story ‘A Night to Remember’ published in the best selling RNA/ Mills and Boon anthology last February.
• Being offered a four book contract with HarperImpulse (the digital first romance imprint of HarperCollins) in October 2013. Thrilled doesn’t even begin to cover it!
• The day my debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love was published (April 2014)
• Being contacted by readers, bloggers and reviewers to say nice things about my stories or ask if I can write an article for them/what I’m writing next/if I’m going to write a sequel.
• Crazy, Undercover, Love being shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award (for new writers).
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be doing something I love so much.
What’s the inspiration behind #LoveLondon, your current series of short stories?
The #LoveLondon series came from me pitching my second full length novel Picnics in Hyde Park (a romance wholly set in London) to my lovely editor Charlotte, and her brilliant idea to write a number of London based short romances leading up to the novel. The idea has evolved a number of times, but we eventually settled on a linked series that would start at Christmas – Skating at Somerset House – with a story to follow roughly once a month to capture key dates or events, with one character in each short related to / friends with one of the main characters, Matt or Zoe, from Picnics. And so New Year at The Ritz, Valentine’s on Primrose Hill, Cocktails in Chelsea and Strawberries at Wimbledon were created to follow my Christmas baby.
Are there specific writers, or other people, who have influenced your writing style?
I read widely over a number of genres – romance, thrillers, crime, horror, non-fiction, mainstream women’s fiction – and I get something different from every one, whether it’s entertainment, education, escapism or inspiration.
I read a lot of Mills and Boons books in my teens and I’m sure that’s had a lot of influence on the fact that I love writing about love and write up the hotter end of the scale (depending on what the story needs e.g. Skating at Somerset House is towards the sweeter end as it’s a cosy Christmas read, whereas Cocktails in Chelsea is hotter because I was aiming for a springtime, flirty read). I also read a lot of Christopher Pike in my teens (American teen / YA horror writer) and when I went back and read a few of the books recently I could see that his ‘voice’ in places had a similarity to mine, even though we write in completely different genres. Cecelia Ahern, Sue Moorcroft (award winning author who happens to be my aunt), Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and JoJo Moyes are female writers I really admire and who I think have influenced my writing style / aspirations.
Your latest release, is the fifth story in the #LoveLondon series, ”Strawberries at Wimbledon’, another iconic London event. How does Wimbledon fit into this tale about first love revisited?
When Charlotte and I were working out titles and themes for the series, we wanted a really summery story and a British event in London we could set it against, so Wimbledon was perfect. Wimbledon is where Adam and Rayne, university sweethearts, run into each other again after nearly five years apart, just after Rayne’s friend Lily has suggested in the middle of Centre Court (much to the crowd’s amusement) that Rayne should ‘have sex with an ex.’
Do you have a tried and tested writing process you can tell us about?
My stories spend a lot of time percolating in my head before I get any words on paper. I think of ideas while I’m washing up, or in the shower, or driving to work and try to jot brief notes down on paper ASAP if it’s practical. I usually do a handwritten spider diagram to set out the main characters, their backgrounds and personalities, the setting and themes too. By the time I start writing I have a very good idea of how the story is going to be structured and will unfold, but apart from that I kind of write into the wind i.e. it’s organic! The characters often do things I wasn’t expecting, but I’ve found that tends to make the story better. If it’s unpredictable it makes it more fun for me, and if I’m having fun I figure my readers are too. I often don’t write in order; I go back and forth and write scenes when they are most vivid in my head. After finishing the first ‘dirty draft,’ I put it away for a few weeks and then go back to it to redraft. I revise each story at least four times and then again after I’ve had my editor’s notes. I am a horrible perfectionist so it always takes me longer than planned to finish a story to the point I’m happy with it.
The final book in the #LoveLondon series is ‘Picnics in Hyde Park’ when is this released and what’s next for you?
It’s due out on 25th June. I can hardly believe it; the last six months have flown by and I’m feeling a bit sad that the initial publication journey for this series is almost over. But of course I’m hoping the series itself will have a long and happy life. As for what’s next, I’m planning on taking a break from writing for a month or two to focus on doing some local media press – I would love to go on the radio – and perhaps organise a few book signings with my two paperbacks. After that I’m going to spend a few months working on a commercial women’s fiction book and may start looking for an agent. Of course, at some point I’m planning to do more with HarperImpulse given how fab they are.
What comes first when you’re crafting a story; setting, characters or plot? Why do you think this is?
With the romances, for me, it’s usually the characters that come first, and the plot grows from them; their personalities, backgrounds, conflicts and dreams. I think it’s that way for me because if I thought of the plot first I’d be afraid I’d then be trying to shoehorn the characters into it, which could make it feel forced. Saying that, for the commercial women’s fiction book I’m working on next, the plot and main character came to me at the same time.
Are you a social media addict or phobe? Do you have a favourite social media platform?
I’m a bit of a social media addict. I love Twitter, and Facebook follows closely behind. In one way that’s great because it means I’m not afraid of using the platforms and can be very visible to my readers; talking and sharing things with them, as well as thanking them regularly (bloggers and reviewers too) and chatting with other authors / aspiring writers in the community. On the other hand it’s not so great because I end up on Twitter far too often when I should be writing!
Where do you do most of your writing? Why is this your favourite place to write?
I do most of my writing either in my front room, which I have as my writing room with my bookcase, laptops, filing cabinet and book covers stuck up on the wall. I like writing in there because it’s very light and airy. Sometimes I write on the sofa or in bed when I want to be comfy and warm (really bad for the neck, back and shoulders though). To be honest I can write pretty much anywhere, as long as I have my laptop and there’s a plug handy!
Thanks for having me on your blog Jane.
My review of Strawberries at Wimbledon will be posted later today.
I’m being interviewed on Tima Maria Lacoba’s blog today. Tima is the author of The Dantonville Legacy series and shares my love of dragons.