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Books Interviews

Triple A: Author Ailsa Abraham

I think all human beings are interesting, but sometimes it’s hard to discover the interesting parts. That’s not true of my guest today – ex-biker, shaman, Bipolar coper, expat, caravanner, author, knitter and much more. Her magic carpet brought her to a walled city, though possibly not the walled city she expected to find.

Ailsa on Yamaha

Hello Ailsa. I’m awarding you the dubious privilege of being allowed inside the walls of my world. I’m afraid it’s just me in here, so not much to see.

Rubbish, came to see you and it’s great to be here.

Part of me is now smiling. The other part is thinking: it’s nice of you to say that, but….

You’ve had your own experiences of mental health problems. Is there anything you want to tell us about them? What message do you want to give readers that might change their attitude towards mental health issues?

Yes, I have. The worst was being misdiagnosed for thirty years, which is not uncommon for Bipolars. We don’t present to the doctor when we are up so generally get wrongly-classified as depressives. This results in us not getting the correct medication which makes the situation worse. Since I had the correct diagnosis of Cyclothemic Bipolar things have been much better. It means my mood changes are very rapid over a day or two. Other Bipolars can stay in one phase for months or even a year. I’ll be on stabilising medication for the rest of my life but that is fine.

Message? Yes. Please give people a bit of slack. You don’t know what kind of hell they might be going through and make allowances, especially if they then apologise. I am still hurting very much because people I snapped at when having an extremely difficult time with my Bipolar, won’t accept my most sincere apologies and refuse to speak to me. That is their decision but I still cry about it.

Generally people with mental health problems aren’t dangerous. No, it isn’t easy to cope with someone whose moods change unexpectedly but if you make the effort to manage that, they are very grateful and make loyal friends. We’re just happy that anyone will bother with us. Mental health problems interfere very much with self-esteem so no matter how bad YOU think I am, I’m thinking worse, believe me!

“Generally people with mental health problems aren’t dangerous.” I wish others would remember that, although I understand why it’s hard. When you read that a particular murderer is a loner, it’s easy to imagine that all loners are potential murderers.

You’ve lived in France for a long time. What do you miss most about the UK?

Interesting question. I’ve been here so long that it’s home. The UK is a foreign country and I love visiting but don’t miss it. The Old Feller goes back to visit family and buy teabags which are the only thing we can’t get over here, well, not good, proper ones. I visit my family in Scotland and other friends in England but in general it’s people I miss, not places.

What are you pleased to have got away from?

Overcrowding, pokey rooms and tiny gardens!

Four Go Mad in Catalonia

What’s your connection to Judaism?

Easy. My father and grandfather were Jewish but, like the Old Feller, goy mother so not considered Jewish myself (except by the reformed Synagogue). When my father was dying, a Jewish neighbour looked after me to free mother to go to the hospital. Auntie Wyantie (Mrs. Wynant) talked to me in Yiddish and made me apricot dumplings etc. A lot of that is stuck in my mind.

Tell us a little about magic.

Wow! I could write a short book but it would meet with disapproval from so many other magic-users. OK – in a nutshell it is an ability to control energies. Often it is applied human psychology which means that when people have asked me to “work on” something for them they are more confident that it will go right – the placebo effect. Similarly if I were to tell someone I was exacting justice on them for a wrong done to someone, that might play on their psyche too. I always liken it to any other ability like being musical or able to paint. One can take lessons but it helps to have an innate gift. Also, practice, practice, practice. I hate to think how many hours I’ve spent in meditation trying to control my mind and link into energies.

No we do not need to cover ourselves in odd garments, dance naked or use esoteric paraphernalia. If you really want to know how real witches work, read Terry Pratchett. Weatherwax, Ogg and Magrat are more like my types – a bread knife and a chipped teacup rather than ornate daggers and chalices. Intention is all. I could go on. Remember, however, that where you have three magic-users in the same place you’ll get six different opinions on the same question.

Ha-ha! That sounds like what they say about Jews. How does all that use of magic relate to your novels?

The ones written under my own name, very much. My experiences working with covens and knowing other pagans was essential. I couldn’t have written the books without it and one has to have “lived” it to understand it. There is a high price to pay for manoeuvring energies which is not understood by outsiders. I was involved in pagan religions and so know the rituals inside out therefore the books ring true. The philosophies quoted within are real.

Crooked Cat Books

I enjoyed your two Crooked Cat-published novels very much. What do you have in store for us?

There has been a demand from readers for more adventures of Iamo and Riga from the first two books and I would like to see more of Adrian and Helen who are non-magical but some of my favourite characters. Dagda is kicking me to write a fourth with him as the main character which would be very tempting as a Native American Black Shaman is too good to leave hanging around without a story. I’m also in the middle of writing my comical memoirs of twenty-five years in France. That is going to be self-published for translation reasons but Crooked Cat are being very helpful with it. The title will be “Knitting With Eels” and I hope to have it out by Spring next year.

Thank you so much for coming, Ailsa. You may leave now… if you can find the way out!

BIO – Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, ending up with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France since 1990 and is married with no children but six grandchildren. She copes with Bipolar Condition, a twisted spine, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and increasing deafness with her usual wry humour – “well if I didn’t have all those, I’d have to work for a living, instead of writing, which is much more fun.” Her ambition in life is to keep breathing and maybe move back to the UK. She has no intention of stopping writing. Her other passions are running an orphanage for homeless teddy bears plus knitting or crochet now that she has had to curtail her activities on her beloved black Yamaha motorbike.

As Ailsa Abraham:

Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum published by Crooked Cat available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Four Go Mad in Catalonia (comical memoir of a holiday) – self-published, available from Smashwords

Twitter – @ailsaabraham

Facebook Group

Website and blog

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Interviews

The Truth About Ellen – a new chick-lit novel

I’m delighted to welcome back fellow Crooked Cat author, Sarah Louise Smith. I interviewed her here and now she’s back to tell us about her new novel, out in two days but available now for pre-order.

Over to you, Sarah.

Firstly, a huge thank you to Miriam for letting me hijack her blog today and a big friendly smiley hello to anyone reading this who hasn’t heard of me before; thanks for taking the time to come and find out more.

So, I am Sarah. And I write chick-lit. That’s not slushy, fluffy romantic nonsense. It’s fun, roller-coaster stories with a little comedy and realistic characters.

The Truth About EllenThe Truth About Ellen is my fourth novel and it’s about a girl who had a huge crush on a band when she was a teenager. We’ve all been there, right? You watch them on TV, you listen to their music, you put their posters on your wall. In Ellen’s case, she even followed the lead singer and her number one celeb crush Jasper to a hotel once and spent an evening with him.

Now she’s older, wiser, more mature – of course. Well over the crush on the band she used to love, who broke up long ago. Times have changed.

That is, until she meets Tom, the band’s bass guitarist, and they hit it off. She doesn’t tell him she was huge fan of his band because it was long ago. Or that she once spent a night with his ex-bandmate/ex-best-friend, Jasper.

Everything goes well until Jasper comes back into Tom’s life. And the truth about Ellen could spoil everything she’s ever wanted…

Seem like a book that you might enjoy this summer?

Visit my website (link below) or search for The Truth About Ellen on Amazon to get your copy.

The Truth About Ellen

It’s every girl’s dream to date a pop star… When Ellen starts dating Tom, a member of the band she adored as a teenager, she can’t believe how lucky she is. She neglects to mention that she’s a huge fan because that just wouldn’t be cool, would it? Ellen also keeps quiet about how she once spent an evening with Tom’s ex-bandmate/ex-best friend Jasper, her long-term celebrity crush. Tom doesn’t need to know about that, it’s all in the past. That is until Tom and Jasper get back in touch… and the truth threatens to ruin everything Ellen has ever dreamed of…

The Truth About Ellen is available to buy from:

About Sarah Louise Smith

Sarah Louise SmithSarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, England with her husband, step-daughter, loopy golden retriever and cheeky tortie cat.

Sarah has been writing stories since she can remember and has so far completed four chick-lit novels, all published by Crooked Cat:

  • Amy & Zach
  • Izzy’s Cold Feet
  • Independent Jenny
  • The Truth About Ellen

Connect with Sarah:

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Books Interviews

Nancy Jardine: A Multi-talented Author

I’m delighted to welcome Nancy Jardine, Scottish author of historical romantic adventures, contemporary mystery thrillers and YA time travel historical adventures. As you’ll see, I’m rather in awe of Nancy and I’m hoping she’s about to provide some useful advice.

Nancy Jardine
Nancy Jardine: author

Nancy, I am amazed and very impressed by all that you manage to do. You have published a number of books in various genres and are working on several more. You post regularly on your blog, thrilling readers with interviews, wonderful scenery and updates about you and your writing. You appear on other blogs in guest posts and interviews. You are active on social media. You do author events. And on top of all that you have babysitting duties. Do you have a secret stash of daily hours that mere mortals like me can’t access? How do you fit everything in?

I don’t feel I do fit everything in. I have ‘things’ I want to achieve in a day but often the domestic side overtakes everything else and the priorities shift. Your readers can read more of my domestic situation in my bio below, so I won’t repeat here. An exciting update would be that…the foundations for the new house were started only yesterday [now a few days ago] and I’m sure you can imagine that there was a lot of celebration in our house after all the red tape issues were finally over. I’m about to begin a BLOG DIARY about ‘My lost back garden’. Anyone interested can follow the progress on my blog – Nancy’s Novels.

Apart from lack of writing time just now, I know that I have too many manuscripts on the go. I want to work on them all – but that is way too fanciful. My writing targeting plans, made in January on my blog, need a lot more effort to be fruitful! The procrastinator’s way (mine) is to do more blogging which makes me feel that I’m still writing – just different writing. I’m weaning myself from Facebook, which is just too enticing sometimes.

Don’t I know it! Can you tell us about the settings of your novels? How important are the locations to the stories? Do you think it’s possible to write about a place you’ve never been to?

Nancy Jardine Award Finalist at The People's Book Prize, 2014
Nancy Jardine: Award Finalist at The People’s Book Prize, 2014

All my settings are carefully chosen for particular reasons that fit with my plots. In Topaz Eyes – my contemporary Award Finalist for The People’s Book Prize 2014 – I used a number of different destinations in the mystery thriller that’s also a treasure hunt with deadly consequences. I’ve been to every place mentioned and I selected them very carefully for use in the novel. When I wrote Topaz Eyes in 2011, it had been some time since I’d visited Vienna and Heidelberg. I used the internet to check that some mentions were still reasonably current. Checking was paramount because the colour of the tram system in Vienna changed in early 2011 from red to yellow. Checking was even more important for Amsterdam, because a place I’d remembered fondly from when I lived there in the early 1980s had been demolished. The Poffertje Stall which sold tiny Dutch pancakes near the centre of Kalverstraat – a main Amsterdam pedestrian street – had gone when I visited in April of 2011. I had a minor panic because I’d included the stall in Topaz Eyes. The manuscript was at first edit stages with Stephanie Patterson of Crooked Cat Publishing but when I got home from my holiday, I emailed and asked to make some changes to the story. Although it wasn’t likely that many readers would have picked up on this, I knew about it and it would have bugged me to leave it. There’s still a scene involving Poffertjes, for a significant reason, but it now fits with contemporary Amsterdam.

Crooked Cat is re-launching two of my other contemporary mysteries – Monogamy Twist and Take Me Now. There are a few locations which feature in these novels that I haven’t been to. I used the internet for information but I also got other handy tips from my daughter, who had visited them during her ‘year-out world trip’ after university. Therefore, I personally believe it’s possible to write about places you’ve not actually been to.

How do you set about writing a historical novel? Do you have the whole story in mind before doing any research, or does the story form itself as you discover details? Do you have any tips for an author planning to explore this genre for the first time?

I think that historical work always needs thorough research. Readers of historical fiction can be very disappointed if they find anachronisms or something that’s just wrong for the era – and I count myself among that readers group. I try very hard to give an accurate portrayal of my chosen era of first century AD Roman Britain in my Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures, even though historical details for the era are scant and much is gleaned from interpretation of archaeological data. If the epoch is completely new to an author, I’d suggest a good consolidation time of research would be necessary to get a real feel for the times. In my case, my teaching of Celtic/Roman Scotland gave me a great background to feed from. Book 1 of the series evolved from a basic plot and grew and grew. Books 2 and 3 of the Celtic Fervour Series took a lot more research since I knew very little of the Roman military infiltration of Britannia. Once I’d learned about the campaigns of Agricola, Governor of Britannia in AD 78-86, I was able to plot out the movements of my characters. However, I found that using the writings of Tacitus (a Roman historian) was misleading. He is one of the few prime source writings of the era but it’s long been known that his writing is somewhat biased towards a Roman slant, his summation of events not particularly reliable. Tacitus’ dating of events is now seriously flawed by a number of years, according to the latest twenty-first century archaeological findings – recent dendrochronology (wood deposits) findings now dating the construction of Roman forts and fortresses much more accurately. Agricola was credited with making early campaigns into northern Britannia (Scotland) but dendrochronology dating is now putting those first Roman footsteps, in Scotland, back to the times of previous Roman governors, like Cerialis and Frontinus. My tip to an aspiring historical author would be try to keep abreast of recent developments in your chosen era because things can surprise you part way through the writing of a novel and, if you’re like me, you’ll want to make changes for better credibility.

I enjoyed hearing (and seeing) you read from After Whorl: Bran Reborn in this video, although I didn’t understand every word due to the quality of the recording and being unaccustomed to your gorgeous accent. Do you think being a teacher provided good experience for readings and other author events? Was there anything else that prepared you for life as an author?

That’s an interesting question, Miriam. The answer might be perhaps. The funny thing is that during my 25 years of teaching mostly 11-12 year olds, I could stand up in front of them and just get on with whatever I’d planned. The same was not the case when I was in front of adults and my teacher colleagues. For some reason adults made me nervous and doubt myself. I was extremely tense just before my first author talk in 2013, but as it happened the audience was small – I think only about seven people – and I wasn’t nervous once I got started. I’ve not been in front of any more than 15 people so far with author engagements but I’m hoping that a bigger audience won’t make me nervous in the future. At present, I’ve no planned author talks but I’m hoping to arrange some soon for my YA time travel historical novel, The Taexali Game, which I intend to self-publish soon. I’m presently waiting on my cover design and when that’s decided on, I think I’ll be good to start promoting it. However, I’m quite anxious about the self-publishing process – even though I know that thousands of other authors have done it themselves.

What other author events do you take part in? Which events have you found most useful for selling books?

Apart from my author talks at local public libraries, and women’s groups like the Women’s Rural Institute, the only other events I’ve attended have been when selling my books at local craft fairs. My first foray with this ‘public selling’ technique was when a friend agreed that my books are my ‘produce’ and that I could take a stall and sell at our Farmers’ Market in the local county town. These markets happen one Saturday morning every month, under canvas awnings, and are held in almost all weathers. (We are talking north-east Scotland!) At first, I was uneasy about being ‘out there’ and on show as an author. As it happened, I thoroughly enjoyed coming across new people to talk to about my books; potential readers; and people from my teaching past – fellow colleagues and some parents of kids I’d taught. The downside is that wind and rain are NOT good for paperback books or for printed publicity material. After a few of these outside markets, I was very fortunate to be invited to join FOCUS, a local crafters group who have bookings for their Craft Fairs in public Halls across Aberdeenshire, Scotland. (FOCUS means Festival Of Crafts Unique to Scotland.) FOCUS events are all held indoors, so weather isn’t a problem and my table display doesn’t blow away!

Nancy Jardine Celtic Fervour poster
Nancy Jardine: Celtic Fervour poster

Between September and December 2014, I sold a total of 140 of my paperback novels at Craft Fairs and Author Talks. That’s not huge sales compared to some authors, but it was a thrilling start for me. I intend to sell at fairs this coming 2015 season which begins in April. The most exciting thing about selling at Craft Fairs, so far, is that I’ve had a few return customers who liked the first book they’d bought and they then bought more of my work. The only minor drawback to selling at these fairs is that I spend around 7 hours on a Saturday that could potentially be new writing time. Nevertheless, as published authors, we all now know that promotional time must be spent and is a huge time suck!

 Oh yes!

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Miriam.

Thank you for coming, Nancy, and for your interesting and helpful responses.

***

Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland – currently with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old granddaughter and almost 1 year old grandson. It’ll continue to be a busy household till late summer when the new build home should appear on the back garden for the young ‘uns. The great thing about that is Nancy now has less of her original garden to tend, and any garden jobs that side of the property will soon be someone else’s! Child minding is intermittent over the day, so writing time is precious – the tendency is for it to be between 9 p.m. and 1a.m.

Her published work to date has been two non-fiction history related projects and six novels. Three of the novels are contemporary mysteries, the others historical romantic adventures set in northern Roman Britain, late first century AD – published by Crooked Cat Publishing. By spring 2015, she’ll have published The Taexali Game, the first of her Rubidium Time Travel series for a Middle Grade/ YA market.

All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research a lovely time-suck. She regularly blogs; loves to have guests visit her blog; and Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for reading, though her TBR list of books on her kindle is now huge.

Find Nancy at: https://www.pinterest.com/nanjar/

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.weebly.com/

Twitter: @nansjar Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG

Also at other sites as Nancy Jardine; Goodreads; About Me; Google +…

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

US http://amzn.to/RJZzZz   UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nancy-Jardine/e/B005IDBIYG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places

Categories
Books Interviews

Singing the Praises of Vanessa Couchman

Vanessa CouchmanMy guest today is the Crooked Cat author, Vanessa Couchman, whose debut novel is set in Corsica. In The House at Zaronza, a young woman uncovers the story of a secret romance from the beginning of the twentieth century.

Hello Vanessa and welcome to my blog. Could you start by telling us about the place you live in?

Hi Miriam, and thanks for inviting me. We have lived full time in South West France since 1997. We fell in love with an ancient farmhouse set in glorious countryside. Having a continental climate it can be freezing in winter (no one tells you that before you move!) and roasting in summer. But we love it here. I’m not a city person by temperament and the country life suits me perfectly. Although it’s good to catch up on exhibitions, theatre etc and especially English bookshops whenever I go to London.

People think Israel is always hot, and are surprised when I mention snow in Jerusalem.

How well did you know French before you moved and how good is your French now?

I learned French at school for years but it doesn’t equip you for living here! My grammar was good but I could barely string two words together. (My husband had lived in France before, so his French was reasonable). I went to French classes for 4 years and now I would say my French is fluent but not perfect. Being a perfectionist, I will probably always say that!

Ah, a perfectionist. That fits with my impression – that you’re organised and modest. Organised because of the way you handled your interview of me, down to the exact time when it would be published, and even converted that to my time zone. And modest because when I praised you for being organised you downplayed it.

Does that trait also apply to the way you write? Do you plan everything before you start?

I was brought up not to push myself forward, so the idea of blowing my own trumpet always makes me squirm. Not the best of attributes, perhaps, when it comes to marketing books! I suppose I would describe myself as efficient and can achieve quite a lot if I set my mind to it. I also have a tendency to indolence, so there are bursts of activity with fallow periods in between. When it comes to writing, I do like to plan things – but not too much, since that can stifle creativity. Sometimes, I just like to start writing with an idea in mind and see how a particular scene will work out.

I have the same problem when it comes to marketing books. It doesn’t come naturally, but we twenty-first century authors have no choice.

I recently wrote a blog post about the word ‘passion’ after someone wrote that it has no place outside the bedroom. Having concluded that it does, I wonder what you’re passionate about.

Gosh, hard to know how to answer that one. I’m passionate about women’s rights and passionately against oppression in any form. That all sounds a bit high falutin’, so coming closer to home, I’m passionate about history, which was the subject of my first degree, and that’s why I normally choose to write historical fiction. My interest in history grows as I get older and I’m particularly interested in Corsican history and the history of the area of France where I live.

I’ve never tried or wanted to write historical fiction before, but an event I happened to come across triggered an interest. How should I go about it? Do you have any tips for writing historical fiction?

Gosh! I’m no expert. One of the dilemmas is how much history and how much story to include. Getting the balance right is very hard. Great chunks of historical background will just turn off the reader. Equally, you have to get your facts right and ensure that you have captured the spirit of the age.

Since we’re talking about fiction, my advice is to focus on getting the story right and worry about some of the detail later on. You still have to research the period in question, but the research shouldn’t develop a life of its own. Sometimes you have to adjust the storyline in the light of the history. But navigating a course through these problems is just what fascinates me about historical fiction.

You have written historical fiction. Therefore you’re much more expert than I am, and this looks like excellent advice.

The House at Zaronza - Vanessa CouchmanI enjoyed reading The House at Zaronza very much. I particularly liked the superb writing, the settings and being able to lose myself in the story. What have others said about it?

Thank you. I’m pleased you enjoyed it. Well, you know what I said above about squirming! However, I’ve been delighted with readers’ responses to Zaronza. A number of people have mentioned the Corsican setting, which is pleasing, since that was very important for me. People have also mentioned that they felt involved with the characters and kept reading to find out what happened when they should have been doing other things! And lots of people have asked about a sequel, which was not something I considered when I first wrote it, but I am working on one now.

Lastly, I’m interested to hear more about the choirs you sing with. I have belonged to choirs in the past, but only one at a time! How do you have time for several? What sort of music do you sing? Do you give performances?

I love singing, but took it up again only a few years ago, not having been in a choir since university. Until last Christmas I belonged to a big local choir, which gave concerts several times a year, but sadly had to give that up since they changed rehearsal times. I also belong to a small ensemble of 12 people run by a friend and a women’s choir of about 30. And we sing in big a scratch choir twice a year, which comes together to give concerts in aid of a church restoration fund. Fortunately, not all these choirs meet every week. It’s mostly classical music and choral works with the big choirs, but we also sing more modern works and French songs with the smaller ones. But I would never, ever sing a solo in public!

I wouldn’t do that, either. I don’t think I could stop my voice from quivering.

Vanessa, thank you so much for this interview. I’ve enjoyed finding out more about you.

Thank you, Miriam, I’ve enjoyed it too.

Clearly Vanessa is not going to blow her own trumpet, so I shall sing her praises! She is one of those people who manages to fit so much more into their lives than I can. She is an excellent writer, a kind and friendly person and… I’m sure there’s more but that’s all I know.

***

Vanessa Couchman is passionate about French and Corsican history, from which she derives the inspiration for much of her fiction. She has lived in France since 1997, where she runs a copywriting business and also writes magazine articles. Her short stories have won and been placed in creative writing competitions. The House at Zaronza is her debut novel.

The House at Zaronza is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Vanessa Couchman can be found at her Website and blog, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter: @Vanessainfrance

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Books Interviews

A Couple of Links

I’ve gone and done another interview. Fellow Crooked Cat author, Vanessa Couchman, kindly hosted it here.

And the other day, I wrote about the mezuzah on the Crooked Cat blog.

Happy reading and have a great weekend!

Categories
Interviews

Taking a Camel to Rome

Seumas GallacherI’m delighted to be joined by Seumas Gallacher today. Seumas is a prolific writer of crime thrillers. He has had phenomenal success as a self-published author and has now partnered with Crooked Cat, who are republishing his novels, starting with Savage Payback. (If you want to know why he decided to do this, the answer is here in the post from 2nd February.) Seumas has also written a very helpful guide to self-publishing called Self-Publishing Steps To Successful Sales. Unsurprisingly, Seumas comes from Scotland. If you thought Ireland, as I did at first, look at the spellings again. And if you need any further proof, one look at his blog is all you need! A more surprising fact is that he lives in Abu Dhabi.

Hello Seumas and welcome to my blog. I thought about conducting the interview face to face. I looked up Google’s driving instructions from Jerusalem to Abu Dhabi and got the message: “Sorry, your search appears to be outside our current coverage area for transit.” Still from the map it looks to be quite a straight road. I’m just wondering whether to go that way, taking in the wildlife sanctuary and Riyadh on the way, or to travel to Eilat and take a leisurely cruise round the coast. In the meantime, I’ll make do with this long distance chat.

Hi, Miriam, pity, that. I could have got you some nice discounted camel passes from a guy I know… and anyway, I’m told that all roads lead to Rome, so p’raps we’ll end up in Italy ……

That’s an idea! I read that you went to Abu Dhabi for a short job and ended up staying. What drew you to that place?

My profession is that of (whisper it) a banker, but by vocation that has segued over the years into being a corporate troubleshooter… on one of those engagements I went to Abu Dhabi ten years ago, for one month… I’m still here …

I was offered terms to stay longer and did so because I like the pace of Abu Dhabi …it’s less frenetic than its partner down the road, Dubai, which is more of a marketing man’s dream… currently I shuttle between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain on business… I like the style of the locals whom I’ve been privileged to do business with…

Do you speak Arabic?

I took six months of Arabic lessons, but hardly made as much of an indent as I would like …it’s a very difficult language, as I’ve discovered there are very few algorithms to follow in terms of tenses and so on.

I empathise with you. I’ve never tried to learn Arabic. I got put off by the script, which looks hard to decipher, and the fact that the spoken and written languages are different. But can you manage there without Arabic? Do most people speak English?

Most people do speak English very well in the Middle East, but I’ve always tried to learn the lingua franca wherever I’ve been… it’s respected locally as an effort to ‘come across the bridge’… I speak varying proficiencies of English, Gaelic, French, Tagalog, Cantonese and Arabic… some may say I’m best at talking rubbish…

That sounds impressive! I had to look up Tagalog and it turns out 57 million people speak it.

Ah, sorry, Tagalog is the mainstream language of the Philippines, which actually has more than 75 various dialects.

Do you miss Scotland?

In all honesty, as regards Scotland, I’ve been away for more than 40 years, so I’ve become very much an ’international’ citizen… fond memories I have in spades, of course, but there’s very little attraction to return…

I’m not tempted to return to England, but I miss little things like wide open spaces, country pubs, salt ’n’ vinegar crisps and shortbread. Is there anything you dream of that’s in another country?

I dream very little of other countries’ attractions, having been blessed with travelling so much already in a life and career around the planet… however, there are places I certainly enjoyed being in: Vienna as a tourist, Hong Kong as a businessman, and San Francisco as a mixture of both.

Of those three, I’ve only been to Hong Kong so far, and enjoyed it immensely.

So where are your novels set?

International range..on purpose… based from their London offices, the proponents travel through the books to many parts of Europe, Hong Kong, Turkey, North Africa, the Balkans and South America.

What else do you want to tell us about them?

Savage Payback - Seumas GallacherBasic story line is of 3 former SAS commando officers who create their own specialist security firm protecting high value clients and their merchandise. They encounter several bad guys in the form of international crime lords, drug kingpins, people trafficked, money launderers. They use their black operations skills to bring justice where needed, away from the eyes of the normal law enforcement methods.

I read that you left home at the age of 15. How does a 15-year-old boy manage in the big wide world?

As the Beatles put it so well ‘I’ll get by with a little help from my friends’… I’ve had some terrific people come in and out of my life at pivotal moments …each a hero in their own way… also being able to use my own fists where necessary has been useful… I loathe bullies, and have always had a kinda reckless attitude toward not backing off from bullying when I meet it…got me into trouble some times, but trouble that I welcomed, strangely enough.

I wish I’d known how to do that! I suppose it all comes down to self-confidence, which is also what you assumed when you wrote, “I go along with the adage that if you believe you can achieve something, or if you believe you cannot achieve something, you’re probably right.”

What if someone doesn’t have the self-confidence to believe they can achieve something?

Tough one… revert to the saying if they don’t believe it, they’re probably right..sadly.. so many people never try , never step out of the comfort zone… it’s okay to be scared sometimes when you do things…

Hmm, I’ll think about that.

I loved this quote from the interview with you at Smorgasbord: “Thus began my growing tolerance for all people who once seemed on the surface to be different to me… we are all the same.” Would the world be a better place if everyone realised that?

For sure.

We’d better get the word out then!

Seumas, thank you so much for coming onto my blog. I don’t suppose you’ll be surprised to learn that I don’t get many visitors from your part of the world. I wish you even more success with your novels now that you’ve partnered with Crooked Cat.

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SEUMAS GALLACHER escaped from the world of finance five years ago, after a career spanning three continents and five decades.

As the self-professed ‘oldest computer Jurassic on the planet’ his headlong immersion into the dizzy world of eBook publishing opened his eyes, mind, and pleasure to the joys of self-publishing. As a former businessman, he rapidly understood the concept of a writer’s need to ‘build the platform’, and from a standing start began to develop a social networking outreach, which now tops 18,000 direct contacts.

His ‘Jack Calder’ crime-thrillers series, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK and SAVAGE PAYBACK blew his mind with more than 80,000 e-link downloads to date.

He started a humorous, informative, self-publishers blog three years ago, never having heard of a ‘blog’ prior to that, was voted ‘Blogger of the Year 2013’ and now has a loyal blog following on his networks. He says the novels contain his ‘Author’s Voice’, while the blog carries his ‘Author’s Brand’. And he’s LUVVIN IT!

***

You can find Seumas on his blog as well as on Twitter, Facebook and email (seumasgallacher@yahoo.com).

Savage Payback is available on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia and Smashwords.

Categories
Interviews

Interactive Interview: Sarah Louise Smith

This is the first of a series of author interviews. I decided to hold them interactively rather than sending authors a list of questions. That way, my questions can relate more to previous answers. I hope this will produce some interesting interviews.

My “guineapig” is Sarah Louise Smith whose new novel, Independent Jenny, was published by Crooked Cat Publishing last month.

Sarah Louise SmithHello Sarah and welcome to my blog. Could you start by telling us something about your new book?

Hello Miriam and thank you so much for having me!

Independent Jenny is about a woman who has just found out her husband cheated on her. While she’s trying to process this and figure out whether to forgive him, she finds out her brother-in-law has always had a thing for her. Confused and unsure which brother sh wants, she goes on holiday with her friend Hayley to clear her head… but Hayley has an ulterior motive which leaves Jenny to spend time with her ex-boyfriend; who is now married. It’s about love, lust, relationships, forgiveness and figuring out what you want.

This is the third novel you’ve had published by Crooked Cat. What do you think stands out in your novels? Why did Crooked Cat choose Amy and Zach – your first novel – over the many others it must have rejected?

Wow, that’s an interesting question and only Crooked Cat could tell you the real answer. I think I have quite a clear voice in my novels, they’re all written in the first person and the characters really talk to the reader. I also try to keep them fast-paced, and although there are sad moments, they have a bit of humour and light-heartedness which perhaps made the Cat smile on occasion 😉

I also think humour is important – even in novels that are basically serious or sad.

How important is setting in your novels? Do you have real or fictional settings? (Sorry I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.)

The setting is very important, and I tend to use real places. In my first novel, Amy & Zach, it’s all about a girl who travels from the UK to live in Boston, Massachusetts… in Izzy’s Cold Feet, Izzy goes on a bit of a trip … and as for Independent Jenny, the novel is set in two of my favourite places in the UK: Bath (Jenny’s hometown) which has so much character, I adore it … and the Isle of Skye in Scotland – I went there on holiday last year and found much of my inspiration for the novel while I was there…

I spent a holiday on the Isle of Skye several years ago. It is a beautiful place. I’ve never been to Bath, so I look forward to reading about it.

Do you think it’s possible to set a novel in a place you’ve never been to?

I think that very much depends on how much of that place features in the novel. In all of my books, the places are described quite a lot so I think I would find it tricky to set a novel somewhere I had never been without a lot of Internet research; but that isn’t quite the same as being in that place and soaking up the atmosphere…

How do you create your characters? Are they based on people you know?

My characters are completely fictional although the female lead in each one has some similar traits to myself. For example Jenny has a golden retriever, loves walking and taking photos – as do I! Each time I start a new novel I think about the central characters and what their personality traits might be, so I can (hopefully) give them some depth and make them feel more real.

I like walking, too. Perhaps we could go for a walk together – if the golden retriever doesn’t get too close!

My golden retriever likes to run out ahead if possible 🙂

Have you ever created a character with mental health issues?

No, chick lit is quite light and easy-going so it isn’t something I’ve really considered. My characters usually have emotional issues, but nothing as serious as that. I’ve thought about writing about a character with severe depression, but it doesn’t lend itself so easy to the fun-ness of my genre.

Do you think it’s important for authors to stick to one genre? Have you ever thought of writing in a different genre?

I think it’s different for everyone. But I have tried to build up a readership and brand for myself. If your reader expects a certain style or genre and you change, it may mean that your usual readers are disappointed and new readers are harder to find… I enjoy romantic comedy a lot anyhow so I have no plans to try anything else.

To finish off, what are your plans for the future?

I am currently writing my fourth novel, and hope to finish that very soon. It’s about a girl who has a fling and lies to the man she meets as she thinks she’ll never see him again. But things get serious and then it’s too late to tell him the truth…

Sounds intriguing!

Thank you so much for interviewing me, it’s been a lot of fun 🙂

Thank you for agreeing to be my first interviewee. I wish you lots of success.

Independent Jenny

About Independent Jenny:

“I slept with someone else.”
Those five words changed everything.

After her husband Ross drops a bombshell, Jenny’s emotions go hay-wire. Things are made even more complex when his brother Aiden makes a confession of his own…

A holiday escape with her friend Hayley seems the perfect way to figure out what – and who – she wants. But Hayley has a hidden motive that results in Jenny spending time with her ex-boyfriend Will, who is now married.

Should Jenny forgive Ross? Can she ignore her feelings for romantic Aiden? And why can’t she get Will out of her head?

One thing is for sure: Jenny doesn’t want to be alone. Surely any man is better than no man, right?

 About Sarah Louise Smith:

Sarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, UK, with her husband, a cute cat and a loopy golden retriever. She has an extremely lovely step-daughter and spends most of her free time writing, reading, cooking, and taking long walks.

She’s the author of three chick-lit novels: Amy & Zach, Izzy’s Cold Feet, and Independent Jenny, all published by Crooked Cat.

Sarah’s website/blog: www.sarahlouisesmith.com

 

You can purchase paperbacks or e-versions from all the usual online book sellers.

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sarah-Louise-Smith/e/B00AX55ZOI/

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/author/sarahlouisesmith

Follow Sarah on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahSmith16

Find Sarah on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahlouisesmithauthor