Author Interview: Lindsay J. Pryor

13:26 Daniel Riding 0 Comments

I love doing author interviews, they always give a wonderful insight into the ways of the writer. Today's interview is from a very talented author, who is always so lovely and friendly on social media.I am very pleased to have been given the chance to have a natter with Lindsay J. Pryor.
Hi Lindsay, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview, I am so excited to have you on my blog.

It’s mutual, Daniel – thanks so much for inviting me. I haven’t done an interview for ages! I’ve even made myself a coffee. 

So tell me a little bit about yourself, where are you from and what do you write?

I’ve been writing for over thirty years and became published three years ago. I’m an ex-special needs teacher and now a full-time author. I’m Welsh but live in the south west of England sharing a quiet life with my husband, who has been manacled to me for seventeen years, our rescue house rabbit and a plethora of woodland creatures. I’m big on wildlife and animal welfare, have an aversion to bright lights, loud noises and crowds, and am intolerant of cruelty. I’m also one of those rare species – a British paranormal romance author, though I don’t solely write in this genre. 

I love fantasy and paranormal romance novels. What is about these genres that you love writing so much?

For me, reading and writing are all about escapism and there’s no better escapism than within the speculative fiction genre. As a writer, it’s extremely challenging. You have to create an entire world and its mythology, including an internal structure of rules that ensures the world makes sense and, most importantly, is believable and that readers want to live in. I love that PNR pushes my creativity and imagination, and the freedom it subsequently brings – especially as there’s no right or wrong. I also think speculative fiction is an incredible means to explore the human condition looking from the outside in. That’s certainly one of the aspects of Blackthorn that a lot of readers have picked up on.
Writing within this genre was never a conscious choice. Because I’ve always written for the pleasure and it was a long time before I ever considered pursuing publication, I’ve always been carried by a story rather than trends or the expectations of others. You can have a lot of fun that way. 


So what can you tell me about your Blackthorn series? According to your website there will be 8 books in total. That is so exciting.

There are 8 books in the series, as you said. An overarching plot runs through them all. The story is dystopian and Gothic in premise. It’s about the third species (vampires, lycans, angels etc but with a unique twist on their mythology) forced to live in urban decay and impoverished conditions whilst being ruled with an iron fist by an oppressive and stratified human-led society.
The series focuses on the forbidden romances between four couples (who are introduced in turn in each of the first four books) and how, by their paths crossing, they set about bringing down the prejudiced system that confines them. It’s gritty and dark and is explicit in terms of sex scenes and violence so it sits within the adult PNR genre. I’ve certainly got into my fair share of trouble with some readers because my anti-heroes bend the rules of what you should and shouldn’t be allowed to get away with in paranormal romance. Oops!

Where do you find your inspiration?

Anywhere and everywhere. I’ve always got a notebook with me in case I read something, hear a song, see something in a film, overhear a conversation etc.
In the case of Blackthorn, it was inspired back in 1996 when I’d moved 300 miles away to a city where I began my teaching career. I got lost on my way home one night and ended up wandering the streets alone in the dark until I took a wrong turn into a run-down part of the city. With no one waiting for me at home (and no mobile phones back then), I was absolutely terrified. To distract myself, I plotted stories about social divide. I’d loved The Little Vampire on TV as a child and had seen The Lost Boys film so I came up with the idea of a world where the social and political divide was between humans and non-humans. As soon as I got back home a few hours later, I started developing the concept. I wrote some short stories to become familiar with the world and, within a few weeks, Blackthorn was underway. 


What can you tell me about your typical writing day and what your process is?

It depends what stage of the writing process I’m at as this affects things greatly. Typically though, my days are spent in complete silence at my computer aside from periodic wandering to stretch my legs and mull between scenes. I usually start the day with an hour spent over coffee as I go over notes. I’ll write or edit throughout the day for anything up to ten hours, trying to remember to fit in lunch as I tend to get absorbed very easily! I break it up with jumping on and off social media but, as a rule, I try to keep that restricted to an hour after I’ve finished writing, which includes replying to reader emails. I’ll always end the day with notes of what I want to work on the next day – and it all starts again. Most of my blogs and FB posts etc are posted of an evening. 

Can you tell me about your journey to publication with Bookouture? How did that all happen?

I certainly never dreamed of seeing the day a publisher would approach me rather than the other way around. Sorry, the journey isn’t a quick one! 

Blackthorn was a writing project I built up over several years in between focusing on books I thought might get published one day (my supernatural and psychological thrillers). Back in 2007, I lost my dad to a rare form of blood cancer and one of the last things he told me was to make the most of life and to do what I really wanted with it. As a way of handling my grief, I grabbed Blackthorn out of my bottom drawer and decided to put more time into it with the focus of trying to get it published one day. 
 
However, as soon as I started to look around for potential publishers, I discovered the market was saturated with PNRs – mostly dominated by big, well-established names. Doors were closing everywhere to any more mention of vampires (strangely you rarely see “we are closed to stories about humans due to oversaturation in the market”). Those that were open to the genre had very specific guidelines and Blackthorn didn’t fit into any of them – certainly not with what I wanted to do with the series. Worse, were word count restrictions. My books vary between 120-140k which is quite lengthy, especially for an unproven debut author (let alone a debut series that spans a million words by the end). I resolved rejection was inevitable so I didn’t even try to get it published, deciding instead that it would continue to be a labour of love. 

I’ve subscribed to Writing magazine for years and, back in October 2010, Mills and Boon’s New Voices competition appeared on the front page calling for authors to submit the first chapter of their book for editors and readers to judge online. I wasn’t convinced it was the right outlet, especially as I checked Nocturne’s (Harlequin’s only PNR line) guidelines and Blackthorn didn’t fit. More so, as Blackthorn was my first real stab at romance I didn’t even know if I had a voice for it. At this point, I’d never shared Blackthorn with anyone so the prospect of putting it up online for all to see was terrifying. However, one of the runner-up prizes was for editorial feedback and, as any aspiring author knows, that’s gold dust. Preparing for either humiliation or annihilation, I entered in the last five minutes before the deadline. 

The comments started to come through and readers liked it. In a nutshell, Blood Roses was voted into the final by readers and editors – the only PNR to do so. Whilst waiting to see if Nocturne would want to pick it up, I entered again in 2011 with another book from the series. Again, Blackthorn made it through to the final with Blood Shadows – not only the only PNR to do it again but I was the only author to make it into the final twice. Eighteen months later, Nocturne came back rejecting Blood Roses as not being right for their list. They didn’t want to look at Blood Shadows. I was crushed. Blackthorn nearly went back in my bottom drawer but with encouragement from readers who had followed me from the competition, I decided to polish both books and sub elsewhere. 

Not long after I announced online that I was embarking on pursing publication, Oliver Rhodes made contact. He told me he was setting up Bookouture and asked if I would consider subbing to him. In a twist of fate worthy of Blackthorn, the New Voices competition had actually been his brainchild – and that was how he had discovered me. Within a couple of weeks, I was asked to be Bookouture’s launch author. The fifth book in the series will be out next month.

It was a leap of faith on both our parts. Oliver was launching his baby with an unknown PNR author (and a tough genre to crack in a US dominated market) and I was putting over sixteen years worth of hard work, as well as all my debut hopes and dreams, in the hands of just one other person. I have no regrets. 

I’ve heard that your publishers are absolute slave drivers (JOKE!! Hehe!!) What is it like to work with the team at Bookouture?

It’s all true! It’s awful, Daniel – believe the rumours! But seriously, they’re fantastic to work with. I’ll admit, it was hard work at the beginning in terms of getting Blackthorn off the ground with an unknown publisher – but it was also a massive amount of fun thanks to Oliver. He’s always been a dream to work with and, of course, I was spoilt rotten having a publisher all to myself! More importantly than anything, Oliver was an exceptional advocate for Blackthorn and got it into the hands of readers and reviewers with an amazing response – and he’s not stopped wanting the best for it since. 

I’ve been with them almost three years now and a heck of a lot has changed in that time. Bookouture has grown in terms of both the team itself and its ever-growing list of authors. They are really out there now with a fantastic reputation, which is just thrilling to see. Yes, they do have high standards and I love that about them more than anything else. From talking to other authors and my own experience with Bookouture, I haven’t yet come across another publisher that cares more about its authors and their books. 


What do your family and loved ones think of your success?

My mum’s incredibly proud. It’s not so much about the success – she’s just chuffed to see me fulfilling my life-long ambition of being able to put as much time as possible into my writing. After she had to endure my entire teenage years and into my early twenties hearing me tapping away on my electric typewriter above the family dining room, maybe it’s just relief! My sister has learning difficulties and autism but remains determined to read my books. Her summary so far is: “They have a lot of swearing in them”. Of course, my dad never saw me become published but as a self-made man who worked hard all of his life, I think he would have been proud that I took that brave step and pursued my dreams. 

My husband, well, he just brims with pride. He’s been with me through the whole of the creation of Blackthorn. He knows what it means to me and he just wants to see me happy and enjoying it. He’s my rock through every Blackthorn book and gives me tireless support in the background. He’s the real hero of Blackthorn. 

So what’s next for Lindsay J. Pryor?

I have three more Blackthorn books to write (I can’t even bear to think of it finishing at the moment). Then I’ll either be returning to one of the supernatural thrillers I was working on before Blackthorn was published, or stepping out of ‘the realm’ for a while to work on one of my psychological thrillers, or I’ll be developing another speculative fiction series I have notes on. I think it’s going to be a terrifying time when Blackthorn finishes but, hopefully, very exciting too.

The Fun Stuff:

What is your favourite TV show right now?

The Walking Dead. I had it recommended to me by a lot of my readers, but I’ve never been into the whole zombie remit so was a bit dismissive (I know, I’m ashamed of myself). I’m also highly-squeamish and shy away from violence; I recoil at the sight of blood let alone any kind of mulchy gore. But at the end of last year, I decided to give it a go. I am SO glad I did. TWD must be one the THE best TV series ever. The writing is exquisite – enviably brilliant. The characters are beyond superb. The deeper you get, the more you care. It’s the one TV show I watch in absolute silence from beginning to end. It’s simply addictive. 

Which Salvatore Brother do you prefer Damon or Stephan? I’m A Damon lover myself.

Oh, Daniel, I’m so with you! Damon every time! I love an anti-hero – in and outside of romance. They make for such brilliant characters. I think it’s the unpredictability of not knowing if they’ll do the right or wrong thing. Though I must admit, I have had moments of swinging towards Team Stefan when he’s brought out his darker side. 

Who is your ultimate celebrity crush?

I’m rubbish at crushing. I certainly don’t have a celebrity crush. I’m more likely to fall for a character. For a long time it was Mitchell from Being Human UK (played by Irish actor, Aidan Turner) – the ultimate tortured hero with that lashing of unpredictability but a good heart beneath it. Now I have a weakness for Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. I don’t think a more perfect hero has ever been created. At first I didn’t get why a lot of my readers were Daryl-crushing then, by the end of season two, I’d finally got it. Oh, this is excluding the whole squirrel issue. TWD fans will know what I mean by that. 

Who are your favourite authors?

I usually get asked who my favourite PNR authors are and it’s always really embarrassing when I have to admit I don’t read PNR very much. It’s because I can’t get into other PNR books when I’m writing my own, though I do now have a teetering pile of recommended reads for when Blackthorn finishes. I’m a big thriller and horror reader. James Herbert, Stephen King and James Patterson appear on my shelves the most. I also adore Anne Rice and I’ve got a thing for Chuck Palahniuk too. I’m a magnet for supernatural thrillers so was delighted when Bookouture signed Caroline Mitchell and introduced the genre onto their list.

Which book from another author do you wish you had written?

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. That woman was a genius and way beyond her years and her time. What she created at the age of 19 (21 when it was published) that now echoes so many issues that we face today is just incredible. I’m in awe of her. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Lindsay. You are wonderful.

It was completely my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me, Daniel. Sorry I forgot to bring biscuits…


You can pre-order the latest in the Blackthorn series 'Blood Dark' from the following links:
 

About Lindsay:



Lindsay J. Pryor writes dark, intense, multi-layered Gothic dark paranormal romance set in the dystopian world of Blackthorn.
Discovered after being a twice-finalist in an international romance writing competiton, Lindsay’s Blackthorn really captured the imagination of her publisher as a fantastically vivid and complex world, one which readers will utterly lose themselves in. She paints this multi-layered world effortlessly, and uses it as the setting for intense forbidden romances.
With six-figure sales, Blackthorn regularly tops Amazon’s U.S. and U.K Gothic romance charts. Books from her series have also reached number 1 in four sub-genres of paranormal romance, as well as being a number 1 ‘Most Wished For’ paranormal romance on Amazon UK. She has been a Top 50 bestseller (#47) in Amazon.com’s main kindle charts and has skirted the Top 100 on Amazon UK. The first three Blackthorn books have since become available on audio via Tantor Media.
Lindsay has been creating stories since she was nine years old, when she quickly decided that fantasy was more interesting than reality. She thought she’d grow out of it but, more than thirty years later, writing remains her passion.
Lindsay holds an honours science degree in Psychology and Communication, is a qualified Psychology lecturer and English teacher. She taught for eighteen years, primarily to improve literacy for children with special needs, before becoming a full-time author. She’s intrigued by mythology, likes to relax watching films and her favourite box sets, and is a keen supporter of animal welfare. Lindsay was born and grew up in South Wales but now lives in the South West of England with her husband of seventeen years, their rescue bunny, and a plethora of wild woodland creatures.

You can find out more about Lindsay and her books via the following links:

Facebook
Twitter
Website 

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Guest Post: When Worlds Collide | Elle Field

12:59 Daniel Riding 0 Comments

This guest post is from the lovely Elle Field and she writes about what real locations mean to her imagination and her books. It's a fun little read so please keep reading.
When Worlds Collide

Sometimes I don’t see the same location as the people I am with. Take Beech Street, the road leading from Barbican Underground Station to the Barbican Centre in London: To most it’s just a slightly grotty tunnel, but to me it’s where Arielle meets Piers for the first time in Kept, and the spot where Arielle gets mistaken for interactive art whilst they wait for an ambulance to show up. (Sometimes I feel I should sneak over there when it’s quiet and chalk ‘Arielle loves Piers, forever’ on the wall but, of course, in my head that’s already there!)
Or, take Brockenhurst train station in the New Forest – there’s actually a steak restaurant opposite it, but to me it’s The Cobbler, a pub with bright yellow walls and a flowery decor that Arielle and Ob adopt as their local pub after the decline of The Guinea Inn, their old favourite haunt.
But, it’s not just me who sees this secret side to locations. You see, it might sometimes be a logistical nightmare cross-referencing my books, but it’s worth it to have all my characters inhabit the same fictional chick lit world. No matter which chick lit book you read of mine, the New News publishing family, for example, will always be based in the Gherkin, whilst Tabitha’s cafe, Tabi’s, will always be located on the King’s Road.
To help me keep everyone’s story arcs straight, I have a huge timeline to refer to, but that doesn’t stop me from sometimes messing up. I had Geli popping up in Lost in London when she was actually in South Africa at that point in time in Geli Voyante’s Hot or Not, so I had to quickly scribble her guest appearance out. It may be a fictional world that my characters inhabit, but it still has to remain a plausible world!
Do you enjoy seeing characters you’ve read about before make an appearance in other books?
About The Authour


Elle Field lives in London with her boyfriend and their cat. She enjoys exploring new places, watching musicals on the West End, and eating her way around London’s culinary delights. Lost, the second book in the Arielle Lockley series is out now: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Arielle-Lockley-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00U2X7E4A If you’ve not yet read Kept, the first book in the series, buy it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kept-ebook/dp/B00CHCOO7E The final book, Found, will be out later this year.

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Guest Post: From the Journal of Lord Oliver Morewell - Elle Q. Sabine

12:47 Daniel Riding 0 Comments

Hello folks, you are a lucky bunch as I have yet another fabulous guest post from the talented and lovely author Elle Q. Sabine. This post features a journal entry from Lord Oliver Morewell who is a character in Elle's latest book for Pride Publishing. I shall not say any more, and let Elle's wonderful words tell you more.


Copyright 2015 by Elle Q. Sabine (elleqsabine@gmail.com). All rights reserved. Permission granted for publishing by Daniel Riding at www.danielriding.com.


From the Journal of Lord Oliver Morewell


4 August 1824

Dear Diary,

The long years in Amsterdam, with its cooling sea breezes, spoiled me. London in summer is not beautiful. The City is hot and smoke sits somnolently at every venue, even drifting inside the houses. Unpleasant smells waft through the air at all hours, and the afternoons are commensurately miserable.

I now understand why the haut ton, indeed everyone of any class who can, retreat to the country in summer. At least in the countryside there are the usual pursuits where one can find a hint of a breeze or fresh air. I have gone down to our villa in Merton several days this month, but the place is lonely with only the caretakers present. I much prefer to visit when Alden can accompany me.

Lennox House, despite the summer, is much more amenable. Lady Winchester is here with His Grace, the Duke. Her daughters call – three of the four girls have visited since we've arrived. The eldest, Lady Fiona, is expected in September. Lady Winchester has graciously surrendered much of the household management to me, a duty for which I am grateful. I do not like being idle, not even if it means indulging in musical pursuits all day. She is content to pour the tea that I've ordered and to preside as the hostess at the dinners I've organized. She's also grateful for an escort in the evening when she attends events, an office I'm happy to provide. Neither the Duke nor my Alden wish to go out every evening, despite my blatant encouragement.

I confess I was surprised at my reception among the ton. It was years ago that Alden and I were informed bluntly that our understanding was well-known among the ton, and consequently we could expect to be cut outright should we attempt to ingratiate ourselves into these gilded circles. However, now that I am no longer a young twenty and my powers of observation have improved, I realize there are others like Alden and I in society. It seems discretion is our primary byword to a happy and welcome life among the English.

I do not suggest that there have been no adverse reactions. Certainly there have been a few ladies and gentlemen who have appeared distinctly uncomfortable when introduced, but these individuals do not represent the powerful. The hostesses who remain in Town for the summer do so because their families are essential to ensuring the proper functioning of government – primarily the powerful diplomatic and ministry families. These ladies have been nearly universally gracious to me, and the invitations for Alden and I both, though addressed individually, continue to pour in on a daily basis. When greeted, most ask me directly about my Alden, as though they imagine I'm holding him hostage in his father's own house. Any disapprobation I've felt has been centered on his absence, rather than our appearance together.

I do believe my Alden would draw much attention if he would allow me to turn him out and take him about with me more frequently. Just last night, he reluctantly agreed to attend a dinner at the Dutch embassy. Sjors and Wendelin are the ambassadors' sons, and very well-known to us in Amsterdam, so refusing would have been rude of him. I insisted my Alden wear the beautiful pearl-colored breeches with a mint green waistcoat. The buttons were mother-of-pearl, of course. The jacket was Schultz, a verdant green in color. I ensured his boots were polished so well that they gleamed under the chandeliers. Next to my regulation black evening wear, my Alden was positively breathtaking. He mutters that such old-fashioned formal Court apparel is ostentatious but I know him well. He is secretly pleased to indulge me, and in such attire, he cuts a perfect figure. A positive Adonis, he is, when he permits me to dress him. Such clothing suits his impressive height and marvelous shoulders. He draws attention at any appearance, from females and males alike. I admit to no small amount of pride, knowing he's mine.

After the outing to the embassy, we returned to Lennox House. I own to demonstrating just how much I enjoyed the excursion with him. It does no small amount of good to reinforce my appreciation of his company. For his part, Alden was abundantly clear that he intended to exhaust me so thoroughly that I would be content to stay quietly in the house today, instead of trying to inveigle him to go out with me. I will spare him any undignified begging, but I do plan to attend an entertainment at Lady Arbuthnot's this evening with Lady W.

For all that Alden and I have been welcomed back into the London fold, I am patently aware that all is not yet resolved. My own family – the pater, my eldest brother Morpeth, mother and sister-in-law – are not in London. Their disapproval remains a shadow over us. When the family returns and makes clear that I have been banished from their presence, will those who have welcomed us this past month feel compelled to tow a social line and expel us from their ranks again?

I am but a second son with little influence and no powerful friends beyond Alden and his family. Ousting Alden, as Lennox's regent, would be much more difficult if he had established his social presence more firmly upon our return. Lennox and Lady Winchester are a perfect example of how a relationship outside the morals of the Church may be acceptably managed with society. Gentlemen, moreover, often appear at events in packs together. If I were to kiss him in the middle of Hyde Park or waltz down a lady's ballroom in his arms? Such behavior would naturally condemn us. However much such a thing might be a fantasy, I do not propose such an action.

My father could never grasp that, in my early twenties, I was not prepared to accept any interference in my relationship with Alden, certainly not marriage. Now, either Alden or I would be willing to marry under the proper circumstances – but not at the cost of the relationship between us. Any female with whom we would consort would need to be intimately close to both of us and accept our close friendship, and we would both need to care for her deeply.

If we ever find such a paragon, Alden and I agree to never let her go.

Oliver

Lord Oliver Morewell is a featured character in Pride Publishing's TheSecond Sons by Elle Q. Sabine, set for general release on August 4, 2015.

Summary: Oliver and Alden quickly realize they want Lady Fiona de Rothesay, but she keeps a secret. Convincing her to trust them is going to be more difficult than they expected.

Lady Fiona de Rothesay isn’t like her sisters, or even the typical academic bluestocking. She has a secret life, and she’s determined to live it without interference, despite the overbearing supervision she unexpectedly acquires with the return of the Duke of Lennox’s prodigal second son — and his lover.

Lord Oliver Morewell was perfectly happy living in Amsterdam with the love of his life. However, Lord Alden Swenson has been summoned to England for at least the next twenty years, and Oliver is committed to his lover. He also won’t deny what his soul knows to be true. Alden is his past, present and future, but Fiona belongs there, too.

Lord Alden can cope with the disapprobation of Oliver’s family and the whispers of society, but Fiona is a complication he did not expect, despite the vivid fantasies he and Oliver have had about finding a woman to make their relationship complete.

Once Fiona is in residence, wild horses can’t keep him away, despite her stubborn streak of independence and outright refusal to explain her mysterious absences, late night disappearances and male companions. Alden and Oliver will have to conquer Fiona’s distrust, her secrets, but most of all her heart in their search for perfect, if unconventional, love.


Links: You can buy The Second Sons at major online retailers, including Amazon (UKversion), Barnes& Noble, Kobo, and iBooks, or purchase a copy directly from PridePublishing.

For an extended sample from this book, visit Elle's blog byclicking here.

About Elle Q. Sabine: I write stories to entertain my friends and amuse myself. I hope romance lovers everywhere will love them as much as I do. I live among the redwoods in the very great state of California with a devoted Mr. Sabine, one golden-headed daughter and one loving, eternally young pup. Yes, those are my curls and part of my study bookshelves. In my spare time, I love to explore fairy circles, climb to high places to see the Pacific and look at the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge.

You can find me online at http://elleqsabine.wordpress.com, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/elleqsabine or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/elleqsabine. I currently write for Totally Bound and Pride Publishing.

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Guest Post: Setting The Scene | Helen Grant

12:20 Daniel Riding 0 Comments

Helloooo folks, I am very lucky to have been blessed with another guest post from a very talented author. Helen Grant has agreed to a post all about locations and setting the scene. Don't forget to check out the fab photos that go along with this wonderful piece.

Setting the scene: location as inspiration

By Helen Grant

Where do you get your ideas?” is a question most authors have probably heard at one time or another. The great ghost story writer M.R.James says “a dream furnished a suggestion” for one of his tales; T.R.Richmond’s What she left was inspired by a tweet.
My first novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, was inspired by a place: Bad Münstereifel in Germany. Its topography forms the backdrop to the story and its legends are woven into the plot. The book evolved in a spontaneous way. I lived in Bad Münstereifel for seven years, came to know the myths and history of the town, and gradually the idea for the book suggested itself. 
For subsequent books, I decided to get a little more proactive: I began to go out and look for ideas, in the kinds of places that I thought would be interesting and atmospheric. Over the years (and the five novels that succeeded The Vanishing of Katharina Linden), I have visited ancient churches, ruined castles, antiquarian libraries, a disused railway tunnel, two sets of catacombs, the Brussels sewers, a torture museum and an abandoned factory, to name some of the highlights. I’ve found these places incredibly inspirational – most of them have made appearances in my work.

But how does visiting a place that gives you a pleasant frisson of excitement translate into an actual story? For me, it’s about asking questions. When I was in the early stages of writing my Forbidden Spaces trilogy (which is all about urban explorers in Flanders who cross paths with a serial killer) I visited Ghent, where the second book (Demons of Ghent) is set. I was very taken with Saint Baaf’s cathedral, which is a really grand Gothic church with an extremely high bell tower. I remember looking up at this tower and thinking, wouldn’t it be awful to fall from the top of that? And then I became interested in that rather morbid idea, and started wondering how high it was exactly, and whether it was possible to climb up it at all, and so on.
So I went into the cathedral and asked one of the guides about it, and was told that the tower was only ever open for one week of the year, during the Ghent festival. During that week, obviously the city is very busy, and there are going to be a lot of tourists going up and down the tower. So if you were going to imagine a scenario in which someone either jumps or is pushed from the top, it probably shouldn’t happen in that week. Which means someone has to find a way of getting into the bell tower when it’s closed and locked. How would they do that? And when? Because you couldn’t very well stroll up to the door in the front of the cathedral, break in and climb the tower in broad daylight when the square was full of tourists. 
It was asking these questions that formed what actually happens at the beginning of Demons of Ghent.
It had an influence on the shape of the trilogy as a whole because the first book, Silent Saturday, is about exploring the inside of abandoned buildings; using Saint Baaf’s cathedral for Demons of Ghent made me decide to take the action of the book up onto the towers and rooftops. It was then a logical conclusion to go underground, down into railway tunnels and sewers, for the final book, Urban Legends.
The beauty of using real locations is that you have endless reference material. Instead of trying to sketch out a fictional place in your head, you can concentrate on bringing the real one to vivid life for the reader. Often, visiting a place will bring out details you might not have imagined: the wind that whistles through a bell tower, because the windows are not glazed, or the carved calvary stone half-concealed by a forest track.
I’m currently working on a novel set in Scotland, where I now live, so I’ve been taking the opportunity to visit any place that strikes me as having dramatic potential: castles, ruined churches, standing stones, lonely forests with waterfalls tumbling through them. I know not every single one of those places is going to turn into a future story – but every trip is a small adventure. Looking for inspiration? I say: go out and search for it; it’s waiting somewhere.

About The Author
Helen Grant writes YA thrillers. Her first book, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Award. Her most recent work is the Forbidden Spaces trilogy set in contemporary Flanders. After a decade living abroad, Helen now lives in Scotland with her husband, two children and two indolent cats. 

You can keep up to date with Helen on the following channels of social media:

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Blog Tour: Just The Way You Are | Lynsey James

08:30 Daniel Riding 0 Comments

Hello my fabulous fellow book nerds, I am so excited to welcome you to this fabulous book tour. Lynsey James is a wonderful new talent that everyone should pay attention to, also she is one of the loveliest, kindest and caring people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Lynsey has also been kind enough to grace us with a lovely guest post titled 'My Dream Secret Admirers'.

Blurb: Dear Ava,

How do you start writing a letter to someone, six years after breaking their heart?
Ava is unlucky in love as well as in life. The new office bitch has landed the dating column Ava wanted, and she can't remember the last time she had a second date. It's a good thing she has best friends Max and Gwen to pick up the pieces.
Deep down, Ava knows the reason why one date never turns into two - she's in love with someone else. Someone she's never even met.
It all started six years ago, with a letter from a secret admirer, Mr Writer…but then they suddenly stopped and Ava was heartbroken.
Now the letters have started again and Ava knows it could mean winning back the dating column at work. This time she's determined to unmask Mr Writer...and find out once and for all if he's Mr Right or Mr Very Definitely Wrong!

Guest Post: My Dream Secret Admirers - Lynsey James
The mysterious, romantic Mr Writer is a huge part of Just the Way You Are. For the majority of the novel, Ava goes on a journey to unmask him. While the reader might guess his identity before she does, it’s fair to say she gets a shock when he comes forward!

My experience of love letters is pretty poor in comparison to Ava’s. I had one from a guy in my high school English class but it was a play on the lyrics of an Ordinary Boys song (that’s 2007 for you!) and he tried to rhyme “chlamydia” with “together”. So I got to thinking about who I’d like to receive a love letter from, mysterious or otherwise. Here are my top picks…

  1. Dylan O’Brien
     As far as mysterious admirers go, I’d say Dylan O’Brien is pretty much perfect. He’s cute, quirky and says things like “when a girl has a sense of humour, there’s nothing more attractive”. I don’t think it gets better than that. He’s cute, quirky and I’m sure his love letters would be adorable.
  1. Jesse Eisenberg
     Continuing my theme of cute, quirky guys, my second pick for a secret admirer would be Jesse Eisenberg. I’ve seen him play everyone from a zombie-fighting nerd to a cocky and arrogant magician and he just wows me every time. Plus, he has a sweet nerdy side that I think would make for some pretty cute love letters.
  1. Keegan Allen AKA Toby Cavanaugh

I’m a recent convert to Pretty Little Liars and Toby Cavanaugh is by far my favourite boy in it. I love the way he protects Spencer no matter what. The actor who plays him- Keegan Allen- also seems like a pretty cool pick for a secret admirer, if his photography book is anything to go by. I definitely wouldn’t mind some letters from that dude!

Book links:


Author Bio:
Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She's an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad- and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine- with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she's sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn’t a “good option” and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left my job a couple of years ago, she started writing full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She haven’t looked back since.

When Lynsey's not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she's daydreaming about the day Dylan O’Brien FINALLY realises they're meant to be together. It’ll happen one day…

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Blog Tour: A Vampire's Claim | Jordan Ashton

08:30 Daniel Riding 0 Comments



Vincent Ambers hasn’t seen the outside world in months thanks to the Draco vampire clan that have kept him and his brother captive. When he finally escapes, he runs into a handsome stranger named Mason Pride who offers him his help to save his brother. But after all the evil Vincent’s seen in this new dystopian world, he’s afraid to trust him and let him into his heart.

Mason Pride is a wolf shifter who slays vampires in his spare time along with his brothers. When he comes across a cute, frightened man named Vincent Ambers who looks like a vampire, drinks blood like a vampire, but who doesn’t quite act or smell like one, he’s not only intrigued, he’s also smitten. Although his brothers want to kill Vincent, all Mason wants to do is hold him in his arms and protect him.

When Mason and Vincent head to the Draco lair to save Vincent’s brother, they get caught in a complex web of love and danger, because although Vincent claims he isn’t a vampire, he isn’t quite human either. Can Mason make Vincent trust him and open his heart to the everlasting love that exists between them, while protecting him from the vampire clan that wants him back alive or undead?

Available at Bookstrand


Excerpt:


Vincent Amber’s weighing heart lightened when he saw the rusted screw. It stuck out of the mortar screaming for his attention. Could this be the glimpse of hope he had been waiting for?
He stared up at the vampire who had brought him his drink, his vile undead stench permeating the room and making Vincent’s stomach sour. His enemy didn’t speak. No words were needed for his task. And as soon as he had deposited their nourishment, he exited not having noticed the excited glimmer in Vincent’s eyes
He waited until he was sure the vampire’s acute sense of hearing couldn’t pick up his voice, then whispered to his brother Warren, “I think I know a way we can escape.”
Warren’s hallow, tired black eyes widened. “How?”
Vincent stretched, reaching for the brick wall and grasped the head of the rusted screw. He prayed the mortar it was screwed in was as old and battered as the screw itself and it would loosen with vigorous twisting.
When it wiggled with his touch, he gasped. “Yeah, just hold on. I almost got it.”
What do you almost have?”
When it had completely come free, Vincent held it in his hands, observing the oxidized tip. It was sharp enough to do the job. “This.” He held up his possession.
Warren’s eyes and face brightened. Vincent hadn’t seen his brother smile in months, ever since the Draco vampire clan raided their home, killed their parents, and kidnapped Warren and Vincent. They had been the vampires’ source of nourishment and entertainment ever since then, prisoners in a three-story farmhouse not that far off from the highway and the town.
Vincent had seen the farmhouse numerous times before the plague came and wiped out two thirds of the population. It had been owned by a kind, elderly couple who died when the plague swept through the town, killing them and most of the population.
The Draco clan had taken it over about six months ago, using it as their lair and hide out.
Using the sharp edge, Vincent began to rub it against the rope constraining his hands in a back and forth motion across it. Thanks to its dry, brittle’s texture, it frayed easily.
He laughed. “Ha, I bet they didn’t even search the basement before they moved us here yesterday.”
Yeah, they were too excited to make room for their new prizes and too cocky to think we would try to escape.” Warren leaned closer to peer at Vincent’s handiwork. “Is it working?”
Vincent pulled his bound wrists apart. The rope snapped. “Yep.” He quickly got to work loosening his feet.
It took him less than ten minutes to free himself and his brother. They stood and wiggled, loosening their tight muscles in an inept motion. It felt off to Vincent after having been constrained for so long. He walked to the boarded window on legs like jelly.
We have to do this quick before they catch on,” Warren warned.
I know.” He searched the toolbox on the shelf next to the window. Luck was finally on their side this evening. He found a hammer in it. He couldn’t believe it. He wondered if he were dreaming, a dream from which he’d wake up any second. After all these months of being held captive, they finally had a chance at freedom.
Using the claw side of it, he pulled out the nails and loosened the wood board. He opened the window in stealth silence and they quietly crawled out. Once outside they took deep breaths. The cool, crisp evening air caressed the lining of their lungs and his skin. Goosebumps spread with Vincent’s experience. They began to run as fast as their unaccustomed, wonky feet and leg muscles allowed.
We just have to make it to the road.” Vincent panted. He guessed from the moving light beams ahead they were about two hundred yards away from the highway.
And when he thought they had finally made it, he heard the sound of flapping wings. A haunting wave rolled over him. He knew what that ominous sound meant.
He turned his stiff neck to look up over his shoulder and saw them. He shuddered. Vampire bats were approaching at lightning speed.
Hurry, Warren!” he shouted as he picked up speed.
A few seconds later he heard his brother scream.

About the Author:

Jordan Ashton is a writer and wife whose passion for reading romance novels led her to writing them, too. She believes love can conquer all and that it makes the world go round, not money. Her heroes, heroines, and the worlds she creates bring this belief to life. She is and will always be a true romantic at heart.







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Author Interview - Nigel May

18:47 Daniel Riding 0 Comments

Hello folks, I am very excited today as I have a wonderful post for you. I was lucky enough to get to ask the wonderful Nigel May a few questions about him and his books. This is a wonderful interview with some wonderful answers, so read on and enjoy.

Firstly Nigel, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview, I am thrilled you could join me.
It is my absolute pleasure, you have a great site and I’m very happy to be here.

Firstly I would love for you to tell me a bit about your new book ‘Scandalous Lies’, and the inspiration behind the story.
It’s a glossy blockbuster full of exciting action. The story starts with the mysterious disappearance of two UK celebrity dancers, Mitzi Bidgood and Foster Hampton, as they travel across America. Investigations are made but no clues are found and it looks like they could be forgotten. But Mitzi’s best friend, UK TV weathergirl, Georgia Bellamy, is determined to uncover the truth and heads off on an adventure to try and find out exactly what is behind the disappearance. There is a whole host of characters that become embroiled in the storyline including reality TV stars, Hollywood actresses, mad scientists and thrill-seeking Russians. It’s quite a ride.

It’s clear that you love a bit of celebrity scandal, is that where you get your ideas?
I am a huge celebrity whore – I read nearly all of the gossip magazines and could quite happily spend my day with my nose buried in Heat, new!, Closer and Reveal. I used to work as a celebrity journalist in London interviewing pop stars and people from the TV and movies and I adored it. Britney one day, Jon Bon Jovi the next. It was awesome. I love grilling people as nine times out of ten they are really interesting. 
 
Do you have a typical writing day or do you write whenever you get a free moment? Tell me about your process.
I tend to start writing early in the morning – around 6am (I am a hideously early riser) and then keep going until my mojo starts to wilt. This can often coincide with Loose Women or Judge Rinder being on as I love them! And I daren’t turn the TV on during Jeremy Kyle or This Morning otherwise I am gone! I have every intention of writing and suddenly I’m engrossed with fashion faux-pas’s on This Morning or somebody sleeping with their step-mother on Jeremy Kyle. 
Can you tell me about your journey to publication? You started self-publishing originally didn’t you before signing with Bookouture? How did that all happen?
I self-published Trinity and Addicted as to be honest I wasn’t getting signed by any publishers. I have always believed in my books and thought that I could write a good story so it felt wrong to just have them sitting on my PC not really doing anything. I had received great feedback from some major players in the publishing world but a deal remained elusive. I had covers designed and decided to publish them, one in 2013, one in 2014. They both did incredibly well and continue to do so now which makes me very happy. I think their success got me noticed by the fabulous Bookouture who signed me to a four book deal earlier in 2015. They repackaged Trinity and Addicted giving them a sexy overhaul and then we worked together on Scandalous Lies. The next one is coming soon…watch this space! 
 
You seem to have a wonderful support system in your publishers. What is it like to work with the team at Bookouture?
Two words: THE and BEST! They are awesome. I feel thrilled to be part of their fold of authors. The kudos of people within Book Outure is brilliant. Both in the people who have put the company together and also the quality of their authors. To sit alongside some of my favourite story-tellers like Victoria Fox and Anna-Lou Weatherley is a total honour. 
I heard you are working on a novel set in the 80’s, is this true? Please say yes!
Who’s been talking!! Yes, that is true. It’s a glam thriller with my bonkbuster edge of course and it is indeed set in the 1980s. I wanted to go back to an era before mobile phones, emails, Twitter, Facebook and the like. I love them all but the 80s was such a great time with fabulous fashions, music and characters that I wanted to pay homage to that. Of course the lead characters are strong females as they are my favourite to write. It should be with you in 2016. So get your leg-warmers and shoulder pads at the ready! 
 
What do your family and loved ones think of your success?
Sadly my parents aren’t alive any more, but my sister Deborah is very proud of me and my partner, Al, is hugely supportive. Glam fiction is not really his bag – he prefers sci-fi or wizards and warlocks – but he does read all of my books and he has to live the months of me running glam and salacious storylines by him when I’m writing a novel. 
 
So what’s next in the pipeline for Nigel May?
Well ‘the 80s novel’ is being worked on, and I must finish a comedy murder mystery novel I started writing about a ‘European’ Song Contest (another favourite subject of mine). When they are finished I shall definitely be starting on a new blockbuster again. I love writing them and I have a few ideas ricocheting around my brain about characters and plotlines already. Maybe I should have a character called Daniel…do I make him a goodie or a rogue? 
 
The fun stuff 
 
What is your favourite TV show right now?
I am obsessed with Devious Maids on TLC. It is my ultimate guilty pleasure. Such clever writing. It’s by the same people who wrote Desperate Housewives and if I could have three wishes right now one of them would be to somehow manoeuvre my books in front of the people at Cherry/Wind Productions in America who make the show. I could so see Scandalous Lies, Addicted or Trinity on the TV. Other TV shows I am currently giddy about include Wentworth, Next Top Model, Empire and American Horror Story.
 
Who is your ultimate celebrity crush?
I always try to picture some of my characters as celebrities in my mind when I am writing as it gives me more of a grip on their looks/style/features etc. I think Jason Statham is the ultimate man’s man action hero – he’s as fit as a flea, a bit of sexy rough and the ladies love it. He has that machismo charm. I think Ryan Reynolds, Bradley Cooper and Zac Efron are all incredibly good looking too. On the ladies front, I do have a huge soft spot for Gwen Stefani, she just exudes style and glamour. I love old-school glamour though too, people like Joan Collins and Stephanie Beacham. 80s divas – they inspire me to write characters like Nova Chevalier in Scandalous Lies, Montana Phoenix in Trinity and Portia Safari in Addicted. 
 
Who are your favourite authors?
I love Agatha Christie, the queen of mystery! And Shirley Conran and Jackie Collins….Goddesses! 
 
I know you love to travel. What is your favourite holiday destination?
I loved India which is why it pops up in Scandalous Lies. I loved Brazil too. I went to a place called Iguaca Falls which is on the Brazil/Argentina border. Amazing waterfalls and scenery. I wrote a short story based there for the Sunlounger beach read anthology. I love travelling.

What is your favourite celebrity scandal from the past 12 months?
Well, I am watching the Gwen Stefani/Gavin Rossdale split with interest and I do seem to find myself reading about Zayn Ex-One Direction and his split from Little Mix Perrie maybe a little bit more than I should. And ‘Marchelle’ (Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan) or a Kardashian are always great value to read about aren’t they? And I loved the mystery of Beyonce, Jay-Z and Beyonce’s sister, Solange, in that lift when Solange started apparently freaking out. What the heck….?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Nigel. You’re a superstar.
My total joy! Thank you for your support and enjoy the Scandal! N x 
ABOUT NIGEL

Nigel May has been described as "the UK's male Jackie Collins" and is an author, TV host and journalist. His three fiction novels have all been published by Bookouture.

His first glam fiction novel was TRINITY, an action-packed blockbuster (or bonkbuster) about the lives of the rich and famous. Glamour, beauty, fame and celebrity mix with murder, intrigue and danger to create an explosive novel which gained incredible reviews and fans across the globe. His follow-up was the glitz-meets-grit whodunit ADDICTED which was also a huge success and once again dived into the diamond-dipped world of the mega-rich but showed that all of the money and fame in the world do not always make for a happy ending. His third novel SCANDALOUS LIES is steeped in secrets, sin, sex and scandal and takes readers around the world as a mysterious celebrity disappearance is investigated. His books have been Amazon best sellers, read by celebrities and fellow authors alike, and have proved that a man can successfully write in a 'bonkbuster world' that has always been a strongly female domain. 

To buy Nigels AMAZING books click HERE


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