Sunday, 24 June 2018

Books Read: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

Three generations of Stewart women, all with secrets to keep…

Matriarch Nancy knows she hasn't been the best mother but how can she ever tell her daughters the reason why? Lauren and Jenna are as close as two sisters can be and they made a pact years ago to keep a devastating secret from their mother – but is it time to come clean? Lauren's teenage daughter Mackenzie masks her own pain by keeping her mother at a distance. Her mother, aunt and grandmother keep trying to reach her but will it take a stranger to show her the true meaning of family?

When life changes in an instant, the Stewart women are thrown together for a summer and suddenly they must relearn how to be a family. And whilst unravelling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, it could also be their finest moment . . .

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Saturday, 23 June 2018

The Write Stuff with... Ruth Ware

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Ruth Ware to the blog to talk about researching tarot cards for her latest book The Death of Mrs Westaway which is published this Thursday.

My new novel, The Death of Mrs Westaway, centres on a young woman, Harriet (better known as Hal) who sets out to defraud a strange family by claiming an inheritance that isn't hers. 

I knew when I created the character of Hal that I wanted her to be someone who was comfortable with deceiving others, and good at it, and so when it came to giving her a job, I decided that she needed a profession that would mesh with that, and give her the skills to pull off a con. Since the novel begins in the seaside resort town of Brighton, I decided to make Hal a tourist tarot reader, but a deliberately cynical one. One who does not believe in the power of the cards, and who bases her readings not on the cards her client chooses, but on her own reading of their character, and what she believes they want from the reading. 

I didn't know very much about tarot when I started writing, but one of the things I had not expected was how much fun I would have researching the cards and integrating them into Hal's readings and the plot. With that in mind, here are a few of my favourite cards... 

The Eight of Pentacles

Pentacles are the suit of the earth – sometimes called coins, they tend to represent money and wealth, as well as professional achievement and the world of work. What I love about this card is that many of the pentacles suit show fortune just appearing out of no-where, or lying about on the ground. This card reminds us of the importance of working at something. It shows a young man labouring over his task of carefully etching out eight pentacles. He's part way through his task with six completed pentacles hung up in front of him. He's deliberately ignoring the town full of people behind his back – he's totally concentrated on his creation. I feel like this card is a good metaphor for being a novelist, shutting yourself away to craft something out of nothing.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Giveaway: Win a 'It's Not Hoarding If It's Books' Tote Bag

As it's Friday, almost payday, and I haven't run a giveaway for a while I thought it was about time that I rectified that so I've delved into my bag of bookish delights and decided to run a giveaway for this gorgeous 'Hoarding' tote bag from Gibbs M. Smith Inc.

The tote is made from natural cotton and measures approx. 16" wide, 5.5" tall with 5" gusset & 22" handles.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

The Write Stuff with... Abi Silver

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Abi Silver to the blog for the latest stop on her The Aladdin Trial blog tour.

‘In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men’ : Cicero

#These are a few of my favourite things – part one

I am fortunate (I think) in that idea generation comes easily to me. At any one time, I have many and varied concepts for stories whizzing around my head, often at the most inopportune moments. Capturing and taming those undisciplined thoughts and marshalling them, persuading them to give an exhilarating, thrilling performance which leaps off the page; that’s the difficult bit!

The Aladdin Trial touches upon a number of current themes, all close to my heart, including (but not limited to – slap my fingers, that’s the pedantry of my legal training asserting itself) the pressures placed on hospital staff to provide an exemplary service when money is tight and targets have to be met, the difficulties faced by refugees wanting to integrate into British society and the speed at which new technology is taking over routine and skilled tasks, without regulation. Phew! When I read back through that list, it sounds like heavy fodder for your poolside read. But what I have tried to achieve, regardless of those weighty topics, is an entertaining and compelling story. In this post, I will say a few words about the first subject – aka ‘aren’t our doctors wonderful?’

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The Write Stuff with... Nicola Ford

Today it's my stop on The Hidden Bones blog tour and it's my pleasure to welcome Nicola Ford to the blog to talk about Discovering Hungerbourne.

Water: none of us could survive without it. For thousands of years it’s been a potent symbol of life itself. It played, and still plays, its part in rituals and ceremonies across the globe. And it’s one of the things that proved a rich source of inspiration for me to tap into (if you’ll pardon the pun) when I was writing The Hidden Bones. 

It’s an extraordinary privilege being the Archaeologist for the Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Site. For me spending my days working in the ancient heart of Wiltshire really is like being the proverbial kid in a sweet shop. The whole county is soaked in the ancient past, and nowhere more so than the Marlborough Downs which form the backdrop for much of my debut novel The Hidden Bones. It’s a landscape littered with burial mounds and spectacular prehistoric monuments, you can barely move without tripping over one.

But it’s also a chalkland landscape, and one of its curiosities is that here and there ancient springs bubble up to the surface spilling out their life-giving waters. There’s no more beautiful sight than the glistening waters of a chalkland stream (or a bourne as they’re called in these parts) meandering their way through the hills and valleys on an early summer’s day. But the bournes can be capricious beasts. Some of them, predictably known as winterbounes, rise only in the winter and just a few only show themselves very occasionally in the wettest of winters.