Author Interview: Lavinia Lewis

08:00 Daniel Riding 0 Comments

As you may know folks, I am rather fond of an author interview. I get to ask them all the things I want to know as a reader and as a writer myself. It's always fun to get to know the person behind the books as well, and today I am lucky to get to do that with the fabulous Lavinia Lewis.
Hello Lavinia, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview, I am pleased to welcome you to my blog.

Hi! Thanks so much for inviting me. It’s so great to be here.

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

I’m from a small village in South Wales, not too far from Cardiff and I write romance in several sub-genres. I write M/M romance exclusively, both contemporary and paranormal under this name and paranormal and contemporary M/F romance under the name of Amy Armstrong. I also have several ménage romances in the works which will also be released under my Amy Armstrong pen name. I love romance in all its forms and didn’t want to limit myself to just one type.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere. In the movies and television programmes I watch, in the books that I read and in daily conversations with my friends and family. However, I’d say about ninety per cent or more of what I write comes purely from my imagination.

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

At the moment, I have a full-time day job and work on my books during the evenings and weekends so writing has to fit around a rather hectic schedule. I try to do a little each day, but it depends how tired I am. My process is always the same. I’m a pantser rather than a planner which means I don’t have an outline for the novel before I sit down to write it. I do however, spend about five minutes planning out the major things that are going to happen in the chapter I’m about to write next. That saves a lot of time staring at a blank screen when I open up my document.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

To relax I love to read a good book although I try not to read in the same genre that I’m currently writing in because I’m terrified that I’ll inadvertently copy an idea. So if I’m writing a M/M paranormal romance for example then I might read a M/F contemporary or a thriller. I also love to watch the occasional movie or television programme. I particularly love The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries and Game of Thrones. Darts is one of my main passions and I play it a few times a week, both pub league and super league plus lots of tournaments throughout the year. One day I’d love to play for my county too, but to do that I need to get my average up and that requires many hours of practice—a difficult thing to fit in around two jobs.

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

I always hate to admit this but my path to publication was surprisingly easy. I got a typewriter for Christmas at aged eleven and worked on one book or another for the next twenty three years, but I never finished anything. Perhaps because I wasn’t totally invested in what I was writing, but more likely it was because halfway through a book, I’d think “what’s the point?” You see, I always believed that it was nigh on impossible to get a publishing contract. I read so many stories of authors who had been rejected hundreds of times or couldn’t get an agent. I thought writing for a living was a pipe dream and something that only happened to a select few. 

Despite all that, the drive to write never left me. Ideas would pop into my head one after the other and I’d have to get them down on paper. Around 2008 I discovered eBooks and with them M/M romance and I read voraciously for the next couple of years. I started reading the Cattle Valley series by Carol Lynne and got the idea for my own series about the lives and loves of three werewolf brothers—The Morgan’s. In the dedication of one of her books, Carol thanked her publisher Totally Bound and she was so nice about them, I looked them up. I poured over their website and found their submission guidelines which didn’t seem too complicated. It was then that I began work on the first brother’s book. Luke. The words kept coming and I finished the story in record time. I submitted three sample chapters and a synopsis of Luke’s Surprise to Totally Bound and a week later I got a reply from an editor to say she’d like to read the rest of the book. A emailed it to her and a week after that, I had my first contract. 
What most people don’t know and what was bittersweet about that time was that I signed that first contract a few days after my mother passed away suddenly. Naturally that was a heartbreaking time in my life and my mum never got to know that I became an author. In honour of her memory, I took her name—Lavinia as my pen name. 

What are your publishers Totally Bound / Pride Publishing like to work with?

Totally Bound have been absolutely wonderful to work with. They took a chance on me when I was a brand new author with nothing published and I’m still with them today, six years later. They are a forward thinking company who are always coming up with new ventures and ideas to push erotic romance and M/M romance into the mainstream. In fact, they’ve just signed a huge deal with WHSmith a book and stationary store in the UK and one of the books I wrote for them came out in mass market print just last week. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to be able to walk into a shop and see my book on a shelf. That is one of my lifelong ambitions recognized. I’m so incredibly proud especially because that book—Too Many Chances is one of my M/M titles. That means I’m one of the first people in the country to have a gay romance novel out in mass market print. What an honour.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The main advice I would give is to not, under any circumstances give up on your dream of getting published. Write and keep writing. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough, even yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too difficult to get published or it’s something that only happens to other people. Since I’ve got older, I’ve grown in confidence and if there’s one thing I firmly believe now it’s that anything is possible. You can accomplish so much in life if you work hard, and never give up on your dreams.

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

They’re all incredibly proud of me for the things I’ve achieved. It’s wonderful to have such great support around me.

So what’s next for you, how is the writing going right now?

The writing is going great though it is challenging to work it around a full time job and a hobby (darts) that takes me out of the house two to three evenings a week and the occasional weekend. Right now, I’m finishing off my Vanderguard Vampire trilogy and as soon as it’s complete, I’ll be going back to my roots and working on the next Shifters’ Haven novel. I’ve had lots of people email me about that series wanting to know if I’m continuing it. I am, I just took a break for a while to work on other projects but rest assured, there’ll be many more stories to come out of Wolf Creek.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Lavinia. 

You’re most welcome! Thank you so much for inviting me here today. It’s been my absolute pleasure to be here. xx

 To find out more about Lavina Lewis, check out one of the links below:



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Blog Tour: Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency | Kitty French

08:00 Daniel Riding 0 Comments

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency by the lovely Kitty French. I have a wonderful extract for you from this exciting book but before that, why not check out the blurb below:

Blurb

Life’s tricky for Melody Bittersweet. She’s single, she's addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers and ... she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder?
Waking up lonely on her twenty-seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things have got to change.

Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her sexy enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat.

Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there are the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job…

Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night.

Extract



Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency

Chapter One

‘So, what do you do with your spare time, Melody?’

I look my date square in his pretty brown eyes and lie to him. ‘Oh, you know. The usual.’ I shrug to convey how incredibly normal I am. ‘I read a lot . . . Go to the movies. That kind of thing.’
I watch Lenny digest my words, and breathe a sigh of relief when his eyes brighten.
‘Which genre?’
‘Movies or books?’ I ask, stalling for time because, in truth, I don’t get much in the way of spare time to do either.
‘Movies. Action or romance? No, let me guess.’ He narrows his eyes and studies me intently. ‘You look like a sucker for a rom-com.’
‘Do I?’ I’m genuinely surprised. I’m five foot three and look more like Wednesday Addams than a Disney princess. Maybe Wednesday Addams is over-egging it, but you get the idea; I’m brunette and my dress sense errs on the side of edgy. I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me and thought whimsy. Maybe Lenny sees something everyone else has missed, me included. I quite like that idea, mainly because everyone who knows my family has a head full of preconceptions about me, based on the fact that my family are all crackers.
Four Weddings?’ He shrugs hopefully.
I nod, not mentioning that the only part of that particular movie I enjoyed was the funeral.
The Holiday?’
Again, I try to look interested and hold my tongue, because I’m sure he doesn’t want to hear that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than ever watch an over-optimistic Kate Winslet drag some old guy around a swimming pool again.
I’m relieved when the bill arrives and we can get out of there, because so far Lenny has turned out to be a pretty stellar guy and somehow I’ve managed to convince him that I walk on the right side of the tracks. Maybe this time, things will be different.
Lenny pulls his dull, salesman’s saloon into the cobbled cartway beside my building and kills the engine. I don’t mind dull. In fact, my life could really use a bit of dull right now, so I shoot him my most seductive smile, cross my fingers that my mother will be in bed, and invite him in for coffee.
Oh, just when it had all been going so well. Why couldn’t I have just given him a goodnight kiss, with maybe the smallest hint of tongue as a promise, then sent him on his way? He’d have called for a second date, I’m sure of it.
But no. I got greedy, pulled him by the hand through the dark back door, placing my finger against my lips to signal he should be quiet as we tip-toed past my mother’s apartment and up the old wooden staircase to my place.
He rests his hand on my waist as I turn the key, and a small thrill shoots down my back. Look at me, winning at this being-an-adult thing today! Dinner with an attractive man, sparkling conversation, and now back to mine for coffee . . . and maybe even a little fooling around. It’s not that I’m a virgin or anything, but it would be fair to call my love life patchy of late. By ‘of late’ I mean the last two years, ever since Leo Dark and I called things off. Well, by Leo and I, I mean Leo called things off, citing conflict of interests. Ha. Given that he was referring to the fact that my mad-as-a-bag-of-cats family are the only other psychics in town besides him, he was, at least in part, right.
But enough of Leo and my lamentable love life. Right now, all I want is for Lenny not to know anything at all about my peculiar family, to keep seeing me as a cool, regular, completely normal girl, and then to kiss me.
‘You remind me of Clara Oswald,’ Lenny whispers behind me at the top of the stairs. ‘All big brown eyes and clever one-liners. It’s very sexy.’
Lord, I think he’s just brushed a kiss against the back of my neck! My door sticks sometimes so I shoulder it open, aiming for firm and graceful but, I fear, ending up looking more like a burly police SWAT guy ramming it down. Thankfully, Lenny seems to take it in his stride and follows me into my apartment. Then I flick on the table lamp only to discover that my mother is standing on my coffee table in a too-short, too-sheer, baby-blue negligee with her arms raised towards the ceiling and her head thrown back.
‘Shit!’ Lenny swears down my ear, clearly startled. He isn’t to blame. My mother’s a striking woman, ballerina-tall and slender with silver hair that falls in waves well beyond her shoulder blades. It isn’t grey. It’s been pure silver since the day she was born, and right now she looks as if she’s just been freshly crucified on my coffee table.
I sigh as I drop my bag down by the lamp. So much for me being normal.
‘Err, mother?’
Slowly, she takes several heaving breaths and opens her eyes, changing from crazy lady to almost normal human lady. She stares at us.
‘For God’s sake, Melody,’ she grumbles, taking her hands from above her head and planting them on her hips. ‘I almost had the connection then. He’s hiding out in the loft, I’m sure of it.’
I risk a glance over my shoulder at Lenny, who sure isn’t kissing my neck anymore.
He lifts his eyebrows at me, a silent ‘what the hell?’ and then looks away when my mother beckons to him like a siren luring a fisherman onto the rocks.
‘Your hand, please, young man.’
‘No!’ I almost yell, but Lenny is already across the room with his hand out to help her down. My mother eyes me slyly as she steps from the table, keeping a firm hold of Lenny’s hand.
‘Long lifeline,’ she murmurs, tracing her red talon across Lenny’s palm.
‘Mother,’ I warn, but my somber, cautionary tone falls on her selectively deaf ears. I expected nothing else, because she’s pulled this trick before. Admittedly, the standing-on-the-table thing is a new twist, but she’s got form in scoping out my prospective boyfriends to make sure they’ll fit in with our screwball family from the outset. Not that her romantic gauge is something to put any stock in; Leo passed her tests with flying colours and look how that ended up. I got my heart broken and he got a spot on morning TV as the resident psychic. Where’s the justice in that?
Look, we may as well get the clanky old skeleton out of the family closet early on here, people. It’s going to come out sooner or later, and despite my attempts to pull the wool over Lenny’s eyes, there’s never any running away from this thing for long.
My name’s Melody Bittersweet, and I see dead people.
It’s not only me. I’m just the latest in a long line of Bittersweets to have the gift, or the curse, depending on how you look at it. My family has long since celebrated our weirdness; hence the well-established presence of our family business, Blithe Spirits, on Chapelwick High Street. We’ve likely been here longer than the actual chapel at the far end of the street. That’s probably why, by and large, we’re accepted by the residents of the town, in a ‘they’re a bunch of eccentrics, but they’re our bunch of eccentrics,’ kind of way. What began as a tiny, mullion-windowed, one-room shop has spread out along the entire row over the last two hundred years; we now own a run of three terraced properties haphazardly knocked into one, big, rambling place that is both business and home to not only me, but also to my mother, Silvana, and her mother, Dicey. Gran’s name isn’t actually Dicey, it’s Paradise, officially, but she’s gone by Dicey ever since she met my Grandpa Duke on her fifteenth birthday and he wrote Dicey and Duke inside a chalk heart on the back wall of the building. He may as well have written it on her own racing heart.
‘Silvana!’
Speak of the devil. Does no one go to bed around here?
I open my door to find Gran on the threshold with her hand raised, poised to knock. I guess I should be glad she’s slightly more respectably dressed, if a floor-length, purple shot-silk kimono, bearing huge technicolor dragons could be considered as such. Her usually pin-curled gold hair is piled elegantly on her head and she wears a slash of fire-engine-scarlet lipstick for good measure. Most people couldn’t carry the look off, but thanks to her poise, confidence and couldn’t-care-less attitude, Grandma Dicey wears it with artful success. She glides past me without invitation and gazes at my mother and Lenny, who are still hand-in-hand on the rug.
God.
First thing tomorrow morning, I swear, I’m going to look for a new place to live, somewhere, anywhere, that is not in the same building as my mother and my gran. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a charming old place and I love my family dearly. It’s not even as if I don’t have my own space here, because, theoretically at least, I do. Mum and Gran have the ground floor apartment behind Blithe Spirits, and I have the smaller flat upstairs, at the back. In lots of ways this makes me fortunate; I get to have a nice little home of my own and stay close to my family. It would all be fine and dandy, were it not for the fact that my family are officially bonkers and liable to come up and let themselves into my flat – using the spare key I gave them for dire emergencies only – and embarrass the shit out if me.
 ‘Why is Silvana entertaining a man half her age in your flat?’ Gran looks from me to my mother. ‘You should have said you were expecting company, darling. I’d have gone out.’ She touches her hand lightly against her hair. ‘Put a towel on the doorknob or something, isn’t that the modern way to signal these things? Don’t come a knockin’ if the caravan’s rockin’?’
She looks spectacularly pleased with herself, and one glance at Lenny tells me that he knows he’s way out of his depth with these two and is in the process of writing me off as the worst date he’s ever had. His eyes slide from me to the door, and I can almost hear him begging me to let him go unharmed.
‘He’s not mum’s date, he’s mine. Or else, he was,’ I mutter, and then I’m distracted as a beer-bellied pensioner in a soup-stained shirt slowly materialises through the ceiling, his flannel trousers not quite meeting his bony ankles. Stay with me; I see dead people, remember? As do my mother and my grandmother, who also watch him descend with matching expressions of distaste.
‘Finally,’ my mother spits, dropping Lenny’s hand so she can round on the new arrival. ‘Two hours I’ve been chasing you around this bloody building. Your wife wants to know what you’ve done with the housekeeping she’d hidden in the green teapot. She says you better not have lost it on the horses or she’s had it with you.’
Grandma Dicey rolls her eyes. ‘I rather think she’s had it with him anyway. He’s been dead for six weeks.’
‘You’re a fine one to talk, given that you still sleep with your husband twenty years after he died.’ Mother flicks her silver hair sharply. Touché.
Lenny whimpers and bolts for my front door, turning back to me just long enough to splutter ‘something’s come up, gotta go,’ before he hoofs it out and down the stairs two at a time.
I listen to the outside door bang on its hinges and wonder what came up. Probably his dinner.

Buy it here:



About the Author

USA Today best selling author Kitty French writes sexy, escapist romance hot enough to burn your fingers...

The USA Today best selling Lucien Knight series has been a hit around the world, and Kitty is now writing and releasing the Regular Sex series of half hour erotic reads, a weekly issue to make sure your weekend starts with a bang! 

Kitty is also the disreputable alter-ego of a romantic comedy writer Kat French. She writes full time, and lives in England with her husband and two little boys.  

Find Kitty Here:


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