AUTHOR INTERVIEW: The Last Time We Met by Carol Mason

Last Time We Met

I’m delighted to welcome Carol Mason over at Literature Love today to talk about her latest book The Last Time We Met, due for publication 16th October 2018 – one week today!

Welcome Carol, thank you so much for dropping by.

Thank you Callie! It’s lovely to have this opportunity. 

The Last Time We Met is a re-release of The Love Market, which was published eight years ago now, so how did it feel to go back and re-visit the characters Celine, Patrick, and Mike?

It’s the strangest thing! Writing a book is such a long process that takes so much out of you that, when you’ve gone through countless drafts and the book is finally done, you almost have an element of relief. Or if not that, then certainly a sense of closure. But then you might re-read it years later and think Hmmm! I wish I’d pushed this aspect of his character a little harder, or, if only I’d written that aspect with a little of the wisdom I now have today…. So then to actually get that opportunity – it’s amazing! You can see your story with new eyes and bring aspects of it to a whole new level. You feel fresh and energized at the thought of adding one more textural layer… In the case of this novel, I always felt I could have given the reader so much more of a reason to care about Celine and Patrick’s relationship and their coming together a second time. I felt I’d always done a terrific job with the emotionally resonant and complicated nature of Celine and Mike’s separation, but had I really shown the depth of Celine and Patrick’s connection, both in the past, and in the present? Had I truly explored the indelible impression left by first love? So it was tremendously fun and rewarding to go back in and make this aspect of the story sing! I fell in love with Patrick myself, and SO wanted to be there in that moment when she first set eyes on him…

I’m so glad you said that. After reading both The Love Market and The Last Time We Met, I felt a much deeper level of empathy for Patrick’s character this time and was really rooting for him!

All of your books have a literary feel to them that explores what it is that makes us human.  Celine’s story and the emotional pull she has endured is such a timeless one, but the contemporary world around us has changed quite a lot since you wrote The Love Market, particularly with the ever-increasing cyber world of social media.  How did this impact on any editorial changes for the Last Time We Met?

I did use a few pop culture references in the earlier edition that certainly dated the novel, so they had to come out. And of course online dating is so much more commonplace now than back then, so I had to tweak that to explain how Celine’s matchmaking business, called The Love Market, would still be relevant today. Plus Patrick and Celine get to FaceTime, which I don’t think we’d heard of back then! These were fairly easy tweaks compared to delving deeply into a character’s reasons for being! And a good editor helps that process too. And, as you so cleverly observed, I had to change Brad Pitt (as a heartthrob reference) to Ryan Gosling – Brad, bless him, is getting a bit past his sell-by now!

Hehe, yes, poor old Brad!

Every book of yours that I read seems to just get better and better; each book evidence of how you’ve grown as a writer.  Were you tempted to make big changes?  Were you tempted to kill anybody off, or re-write the ending?

Oh thank you. That’s very flattering and of course what writers really hope for! Yes, it was hard to re-read old work and not want to rewrite it! Not because I thought the writing was inferior, but perhaps because I am 10 years older now and 10 years wiser and more mature, so I see people and life a little differently. I’m not as idealistic any more. Perhaps I’m not even as romantic as I once was! This was helpful in establishing why Celine would be a little mistrusting of Patrick’s feelings at first – she too is not the girl she was when they first met. Plus I was better able to get to grips with the concept of what love really means once the thrill of the first flush has worn off.  All this added more depth to the story. But I must admit I was tempted to change the ending a little! I won’t say in what way, or I will give the game away. But, suffice to say, I reminded myself that 10 years ago I had written a love story and, while I could add to that story and improve that story in so many ways, I also wanted to stay true to it. When I finally handed this revised draft in I felt huge satisfaction with my ending – elements of the story might have changed but the characters at heart hadn’t. And that felt right.

­I love both the title and new jacket design for The Last Time We Met. They fit really well with the design of After You Left, and I know I will just have to have both of them sitting next to each other on my Favourite’s Bookshelf.  Do you have anything else in the pipeline? Something with another gorgeous cover to match After You Left and The Last time We Met perhaps (she asks hopefully!)

Thank you! And… yes! I have just gone through edits for my brand new novel that will be out March/April 2019. This one is called The Shadow Between Us.  It’s about a marriage that is tested in ways a couple could never have imagined. It’s about what happens when one day, quite out of the blue, almost everything about your life changes, and how you ever find your way back from that. It’s a sad, touching story, but also a very hopeful one. In fact, it’s the story I think I always wanted to write from the time I first began writing, only I wasn’t sure quite how to shape it and pull it off – it felt bigger than I had the maturity for back then. So I am massively excited for this one! This book is actually part of a brand new 4 book deal that I have just signed with my wonderful publisher, Lake Union. So I’m thrilled to say that writing will be keeping me busy for the next little while. I have my other ideas all lined up and can’t wait to share them with you in due course.

How exciting – I can’t tell you how happy that makes me! Well, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you Carol. I wish you every success with The Last Time We Met and look forward to chatting to you again soon to talk about The Shadow Between Us.

You can read my review for The Last Time We Met here:

https://literaturelove.uk/2018/10/09/the-last-time-we-met-by-carol-mason/

 

About Carol Mason

Carol Mason

Carol Mason is the women’s fiction author of the Amazon Charts Bestselling novel After You Left, published by Lake Union, The Secrets of Married Women, Send Me A Lover and the soon to be re-released The Last Time We Met.
Carol grew up in Northern England – Sunderland, to be precise, but left there when she was 19, for London. There, she worked for the Diplomatic Service before leaving after about a year to embark on adventure travel to Canada, where she met the boy she would marry. Twenty-three years later, they still live in Canada, just outside of Vancouver. When not writing, Carol is ususally reading as many books she can manage, to always stay abreast of what is hot and current. When not doing that she is usually surfing recipes on the Internet, cooking, eating, then telling herself there has to be more to life than food.
You can visit Carol’s website here: http://www.carolmasonbooks.com

 

 

Advertisements

NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson #psychologicalthriller #catandmouse #twisty

 

 

Never Have I Ever

 

 

Genre:        Psychological Thriller

Publisher:  Raven Books

Published: 8th August 2019

Reviewed:  7th August 2019

 

 

 

Blurb

It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever… done something I shouldn’t.

But Amy Whey has done something she shouldn’t. And Roux, the glamorous newcomer to Amy’s suburban neighbourhood, knows exactly what that is.

Roux promises she will go away. She will take herself and her son, who is already growing dangerously close to Amy’s teenage stepdaughter, and she will go. If Amy plays by her rules.

But Amy isn’t prepared to lose everything she’s built. She’s going to fight back, and in this escalating game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.

My Review

Amy and Char are both mothers of young children who live in the same street, and despite their age gap (Amy is older) the pair are the best of friends. Char loves classical literature and runs a book club (from Amy’s house), which is planned down to the last minute . She also likes to sit in her own special chair, which all the other women in the book-club daren’t sit in. So when Roux, the mysterious newcomer to the area, arrives unannounced at their book-club one evening and takes over – including sitting in Char’s chair – Char is put out to say the least.  Before Char and Amy know it, the evening has come to an end and Char’s chosen book has barely been mentioned. But it is after Char has gone home that things really hot up!

The author has already set the scene that Roux is out to cause trouble. When she instigates a game of ‘Never Have I Ever’ one of the other women in the group admits to kissing another man and Roux stores away this piece of information to use in the future. The next day, Roux turns her attention to Amy, and reveals she knows exactly what Amy did in her past, blackmailing her to hand over her inheritance or risk losing everything she holds dear. However, Roux hasn’t banked on Amy’s feistiness and she may just have possibly picked on the wrong one this time.

What was unique about this narrative was that it was solely from Amy’s perspective and (apart from a flashback scene early on) it is set in the present. I thought this was quite interesting because although it is an event from Amy’s past that has given Roux the first spark of amunition against Amy, it is her ongoing actions since then, including the here and now, that raises the stakes. Most psychological thrillers juxtapose the perspective of the protagonist alongside that of the antagonist; asking the question as to who is telling the truth. But this was not the case here. Roux’s background is a complete mystery and is only brought to light through Amy’s detective work and personal psychoanalysis of her. Rather than internal monologue, the author reveals Roux’s inner thoughts by coming in so close that every tiny facial twitch tells a miniature story, revealing whether Roux is nervous or lying.

I really liked Amy, she’s done some stupid things in the past, but a big twist reveals just what a big heart she has and just exactly how much she could lose though Roux’s evil determination to destroy her: this is much more than what is revealed early on. Although initially at her wits end as to what she is going to do,  Amy soon decides to fight back by digging into Roux’s own closet – quite literally. And what she finds out is far more shocking than anything Amy has done. Readers are in for a real treat with this twisty turn in this tale of cat and mouse.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

 

About the Author

joshilyn-jackson-headshot-768x1034New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson’s newest book, Never Have I Ever, will launch in July of 2019. You can check out her previous eight novels and other work here. Joshilyn’s books have been translated into a dozen languages, have won SIBA’s Novel of the Year award, have three times been #1 Book Sense Pick, have twice won Georgia Author of the Year awards, have three times been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and have been a finalist for the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.

A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of both her own novels and the books of other writers; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, won three Earphones awards, made the 2012 Audible All-Star list for highest listener ranks/reviews, and garnered three Listen Up awards from Publisher’s Weekly.

She serves on the board of Reforming Arts, a nonprofit that runs education-in-prison and reentry programs. Reforming Arts fosters the development of critical and creative thinking skills, encouraging students to build livable lives both during and post-incarceration. Through this organization, Joshilyn has taught creative writing, composition, and literature inside Georgia’s maximum security facility for women.

Joshilyn learned to scuba-dive in order to write Never Have I Ever, and now she and her husband Scott are both avid divers. They live in Decatur, Georgia with their two kids, two entitled cats, and a modestly-sized dog.

https://www.joshilynjackson.com/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1526611597?pf_rd_p=330fbd82-d4fe-42e5-9c16-d4b886747c64&pf_rd_r=ZFZT90G1A8GFSHE23VAX

https://www.waterstones.com/book/never-have-i-ever/joshilyn-jackson/9781526611598

Novel Nights by Callie Hill #novelnights #bristol

novel nights3

A couple of years ago I heard about this fantastic place in Bristol called Novel Nights where readers and writers came together and spoke about their love of books. It sounded right up my street and I really wanted to go. But even stronger than my love of books was my antagonist force of not being able to face a room full of people I didn’t know, especially on my own, so I put the idea to one side in the hope that one day I would be in a place where I would be able to overcome my flakiness and go along. I continued working on my writing, alongside my literature degree with the OU (Open University) – something I could do from the comfort and isolation of my writing room. Little did I know that, through the OU, my life was about to change and my dream of going to Novel Nights was about to become real.

I’d already completed the OU’s Creative Writing module (A215). This gives an excellent grounding in the basic elements of fiction writing such as characterisation, dialogue, setting, plot and structure etc, but in 2017 I signed up for the final year course: Advanced Creative Writing (A363). A363 not only builds on the elements of A215 it also includes scriptwriting – something that terrified me at first but I actually loved it. But what I loved most about the module was the people that I met along the way. As I mentioned earlier, A363 is an advanced course and is generally taken by those who are serious about developing a career as a writer. Whilst the OU online forums were pretty rubbish, our A363 Facebook group thrived and it wasn’t long before some of us had become good friends. After the module finished, we set up a cabin for the July NaNoMo, and later our own Facebook group: Blanc Page. The name is very apt as when we meet up we do tend to drink more Prosecco and cocktails than write. In fact, come to think of it, we don’t really do any writing at all – oops – hick! (This photo was taken at our last get-together).

Blanc page

One of the first literary events we went to was the 2018 Bristol Festival of Literature, and it was here that I first met Grace, the founder and co-host of Novel Nights. Grace was such a lovely person and promised me that everyone at Novel Nights was really friendly, and if I went along then I would be made to feel welcome. Going to the literary festival had been a big thing for me. I’d never caught a train on my own before but the Blanc Page girls held my hand through this traumatic event, meeting me at Temple Meads and generally calming me down at having done such an adventurous thing! (I live in Bristol so it was about a 12-minute journey). So when I spoke to Grace, all of a sudden going along to Novel Nights seemed like something I might be able to do afterall. My friends and I all agreed that we came away from the literary festival feeling just that little bit closer to becoming real writers and despite drinking bottled water and not Prosecco, we left the day completely fizzing. The next chapter in the adventures of the Blanc Page girls was to be Novel Nights. And I for one couldn’t wait!

Berkeley Sq

The first Novel Nights we went to was in January 2019.  Located in the heart of Clifton, just off Park Street, Berkeley Square is steeped in Bristolian history and culture, and arriving just before half-past seven on that January evening it was easy to visualise the setting when it was first built at the end of the 18th century: a foggy night with black carriages setting-down well-to-do ladies and gentlemen outside their imposing terraced houses. The pavements really are something else; the curbs must be a least a foot high – but I bet those horse-drawn carriages would have been quite a jump down for an 18th-century lady in a posh frock! It felt a little like I was walking into a scene from an 18th-century novel like Sherlock Holmes; in fact, number 24 was used in the filming of The House of Eliot. The Novel Nights venue is located at number 15, and it took us a while to work out that we needed to make our way down an external staircase to what looked like a secret members club. It was all very intriguing, and extremely exciting.

Inside, Grace was at the door, greeting people and ticking names off the guest-list. I was expecting to be asked what my name was but instead Grace greeted me with ‘Hello Callie, how lovely to see you here.’ Although this was no doubt just a small thing to Grace, I can’t tell you how this made me feel. I couldn’t believe she remembered my name. I’d arrived feeling super anxious but due to Grace’s natural ability to make her guests feel welcome, I’d only just walked through the door and I’d already been made to feel a part of things. I’m not easily impressed, but less than two minutes at my first Novel Nights, and I was in awe of the place.

novel nights bar

After making our way to the bar (well, a girl must get her priorities right) we bagged the squishy turquoise sofa along the back wall and sat back, not quite believing we were amongst the company of so many prolific writers. Jane Shemelt was sat in front of us. Like OMG one of my favourite writers ever! The guest talker was Christopher Wakling. As well as being a best-selling novelist, Christopher teaches Creative Writing at a number of prestigious places: Curtis Brown, Faber, and Arvon; we’d already heard Christopher speak at the opening night of the literature festival over at the Naval Volunteer (or the Volly as we Bristolians call it) so knew how funny he was, but I don’t think any of us were really prepared for just how inspirational his advice was too. I’m so glad I took along my writing journal – I soaked up every word he had to say, making pages and pages of notes on the whole drafting process from creating dialogue with conflict and subtext, to plunging characters into tricky situations, to editing and hooking an agent. Of course, this was done in typical Christopher Wakling style where the talk was delivered from the opposing perspective of ‘how not to write’. It was absolutely hilarious and his captivated audience was literally rolling around on the floor for most of it.

christopher wakling

There have been lots of Novel Nights in between with talks from bloggers, to advice from top publishers and literary agents. But for me, without a shadow-of-doubt, the highlight of going to Novel Nights was meeting the best-selling psychological thriller writer Jane Corry. I’ve been a fan of Jane’s ever since her first psychological thriller My husband’s Wife, and I’ve been lucky to have been able to receive ARCs (advance review copies) of her last two books The Dead Ex, and I Looked Away. Listening to Jane speak of her writing journey was truly inspirational. As a newbie novelist, I could sit for hours listening to how successful authors spend their working day, and how parts of their own life experiences naturally ends up in their books. Right at the beginning of the creative writing course I did with the OU I was taught about tweaking and twisting what you know to make realistic stories, and listening to Jane really brought home this piece of advice. Just like me, Jane is a grandmother who adores her grandchildren, and with Ellie, the protagonist of her latest novel I Looked Away being a grandmother, it was clear to see how Jane had used the unconditional love she felt for her own grandchildren in Ellie’s character.  Jane had loads of other writing tips too. She spoke about how she carries out research, to how her novels have changed since she switched from pantsing to plotting, as well as planning what the big plot twist at the end might be. I’m currently writing my own debut psychological thriller so this has made me go away and really think about what those main plot points will be. To top the evening off, not only did Jane Corry sign my bloggers copy of I Looked Away, she actually asked to have her photo taken with me. Swoons…

Jane Corry

The same evening also saw readings from some other brilliant writers: Caroline Mitchell, A A Abott, Liz Hill. All three of them were completely mesmerising as they read out extracts from their novels. In fact, I was so captivated by Caroline’s story I completely forgot to take the photo I’d promised of her stood in front of the microphone! I met Caroline at Bristol University’s Writing Fiction class earlier in the year, and am proud to say she is now also one of the Blanc Page girls.

The atmosphere at Novel Nights is utterly intoxicating from the moment you step inside until the moment you leave, and then it can take quite some time to come down from the high of being in such a wonderful place. I can’t describe how brilliant it is to be in the same room as best-selling authors alongside writers who are at different stages in their writing journey. Like the literary festival, I always come away feeling just that bit closer to being a real writer.

But don’t just take my word for it. Novel Nights has grown from strength to strength this past year with regular events now in Bath, and more planned for Exeter. Novel Nights has also recently received Arts Council funding. The Novel Nights team Grace, Colette, and Charlotte, hope to use this to support the fantastic writing masterclasses they have recently set up as well as to expand into digital projects. The team are looking to establish monthly author-interview podcasts aimed at encouraging and inspiring writers – so no matter where you live Novel Nights can reach out to writers everywhere. I haven’t been lucky enough to go to one of the masterclasses yet but I’ve heard lots of good things about them. You can find out more here: https://www.novelnights.co.uk/masterclasses/

Novel nights

None of this would be possible for me it wasn’t for my Blanc Page girls, who have held my hand and introduced me to the fabulous writing and literary events we are so very lucky to have here on our doorstep in Bristol. So I would like to give a massive shout out to Suzy Fox (the next best-selling romantic novelist – def one to watch out for!); Jennie Foy (script-writer extraordinaire); and Claire O’Connor (amazing author of Floursacks to Petticoats, recently published in the Generations anthology by Write Club OU).

If you would like to come along to Novel Nights you can find out more details at https://www.novelnights.co.uk/.  You will be made to feel really welcome and will no doubt become as addicted as I am.  I just absolutely love Novel Nights and can’t recommend it highly enough for both readers and writers alike… just anybody who loves books really.

 

You can see my reviews for Jane Corry here:

https://www.literaturelove.co.uk/post/the-dead-ex-by-jane-corry

https://www.literaturelove.co.uk/post/i-looked-away-by-jane-corry

COME A LITTLE CLOSER by Karen Perry

 

 #bookreview #psychologicalthriller #amreading #literaturelove

Come a Little Closer

 

 

Genre:          Psychological Thriller

Publisher:    Penguin                                                    

Published:   28th November 2019 (paperback)

                       27th June 2019 (ebook)                  

Reviewed:   28th July 2019            

 

 

Blurb

Leah is in love. It should be the happiest summer of her life, but she can’t help feeling lonely with Jake’s attention divided between her, his ex-wife and his young son. As insomnia sets in, the walls of their new basement flat feel as if they’re closing in around her. Until she meets her upstairs neighbour, Anton, who has recently moved back in after a long absence from the street. He’s a sympathetic ear when Jake can’t be, and even though others on the street seem strangely hostile towards him, Leah soon comes to rely on Anton and their secret conversations in the night.

Leah has no idea that nineteen years before, Anton was convicted of killing his wife. A wife who looked a little bit like Leah. He has always said he didn’t do it. Is Leah his redemption? Or is she befriending a killer intent on luring her closer and closer?

 

My Review

Written in third-person from the limited perspectives of Leah, Anton, and Hilary, Come A Little Closer is a spine tingling narrative that had me changing my mind and guessing right up to the very end.  Although my first thought was the correct one, there were many times throughout the book where I thought the complete opposite. And there was a thought I had which I was certain would be the big twist but it turned out to be a red herring. I won’t say what that was in case other readers have this same thought!

Leah has a secret past of her own, a past that her boyfriend (Jake), knows nothing about, so when her new landlord (Anton) claims he is innocent of murdering his wife (Charlotte), a crime he has spent the last 19 years in prison for, she is quick to give him the benefit of the doubt.  But with Leah being similar in appearance to Charlotte, he soon becomes infatuated with her; and with neighbour Hilary obsessed with Anton, Leah is in a very dangerous place within this creepy triangle.

Certain events are repeated, being told from the different points of view of one or more of the characters. I really liked this narrative form; how one character saw something another didn’t, or how another character was privy to something that another character knew nothing about.  It is through this form of dramatic irony that the truth about Charlotte’s fate is gradually revealed. The narrative also includes quite a lot of internal monologue, especially from Hilary’s perspective, with certain events triggering past memories. This meant the narrative did jump around quite a lot from past to present within the same chapter, which was a little confusing in places but not overly so. The steady pacing throughout the first part of the story meant that actions of the characters were more believable: one small act, leading to another, building to terrifyingly disturbing scenes and a fast-paced climax.

I really enjoyed reading this book, even more so than Your Closest Friend, and would recommend this for fans of Ella Drummond or Shalini Boland.

 

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

 

About the Author

Karen Perry

Karen Perry is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Your Closest Friend, Can You Keep a Secret?, Girl Unknown, Only We Know and The Boy That Never Was, which was selected for the Simon Mayo Radio 2 Book Club. She lives in Dublin with her family.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Come-Little-Closer-Karen-Perry/dp/1405936673/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1564259195&sr=8-2

https://www.waterstones.com/book/come-a-little-closer/karen-perry/9781405936675

 

 

After the End by Clare Mackintosh

#aftertheend #bookreview #literaturelove

After the End

 

Publisher:           Sphere

Published:           25th June 2019

Reviewed:           19th July 2019

 

Blurb

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. Only now they’re facing the most important decision of their lives – and they don’t agree.

As the consequences of an impossible choice threaten to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again.

But anything can happen after the end . . .

My Review

I knew this book was different to the author’s usual genre, and after reading the author’s note (I always read these before the book) I also realised it would be a heart-wrenching story. What I wasn’t prepared for was putting everything on hold as I found myself gripped for hours on end as the characters worked their way into my heart.

Split into two parts, part one has a triple narrative that draws the reader into the shoes of Pip, Max, and Leila. Pip and Max are a happily married couple whose lives are turned upside down when their two-year-old son, Dylan, is diagnosed with a brain tumour; Leila is Dylan’s paediatric neurologist. As the main bread earner, Max juggles his demanding career (and unforgiving wanker of a boss), whilst Pip gives up her job to spend every waking moment at Dylan’s bedside. Geographically the couple are miles apart for the best part of the week, but the bond between them is stronger than ever as they hold each other together, willing their boy to get well. As well as Pip and Max both having their own voice through first-person narratives, we also see how they are perceived from the outside world through the limited third-person perspective of Leila. Leila is a well-drawn out character where we also see how the everyday strain of working as a doctor for the NHS impacts on her life and relationships as a young woman.

But when Dylan’s condition takes a turn for the worse, Pip and Max’s relationship is put to the test when they have different ideas of what the best treatment options are for their son, and when the couple aren’t able to agree, the hospital steps in and takes the case to court. With Pip, Max, and Leila, each having individual voices through their own designated chapters, this allows the reader to empathise with their different perspectives: what it is like to be them and how they reach the decision they have regarding what is best for Dylan. Part one of the narrative ends as the judge gives his verdict.

With the world and his wife having a view on what the right decision should be, part two of the story is where the author really ups her game. Although a bit confusing at first, this part of the narrative has a sliding doors structure where the different outcome scenarios of the court-case are played out. It is these kind of stories where I do prefer a real book rather than an e-book, so I can flick back and work out what’s going on. Anyway, once I’d figured out that this was actually a sliding-doors structure, and that I wasn’t going mad, this made the story all the more compelling. During this part of the story, chapters alternate between the perspectives of Pip and Max, and there are different time periods as the cleverly structured plot, addresses the question as to whether one decision is any better than the other. It also makes you consider whether fate is a factor: no matter what route you take will you end up in the same place?

The story also explores the theme of unconditional love. Not just the love between Pip, Max, and Dylan; but maternal love between Max and his mother, Pip and her mother, Leila and her mother, Blair (no spoilers as to who she is!) and her children.

One of the first things I was taught as part of my English Literature and Creative Writing degree was to ‘write what you know’ in a fictionalised way, adding elements of ‘what if’. After the End by Clare Mackintosh is an absolute masterclass in this, and should be considered essential reading material for every serious creative writing student. I’ve long admired the work of Clare Mackintosh, her first book I Let You go, in particular, is one that years later has still stayed with me; After the End will be no exception.

As I said earlier, After the End is very different to the author’s usual style of writing, and this beautifully written narrative reminded me of Carol Mason, Kit de Waal, and Emma Cooper.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

 

About the Author

clare-mackintosh-2019-500x500With over 2 million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016.
Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. All three of her books were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, and together have been translated into over thirty-five languages.
Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

Clare Mackintosh

 

https://www.waterstones.com/book/after-the-end/clare-mackintosh/9780751564945

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Carol Mason

#TheShadowBetweenUs  #LakeUnionAuthors

#womensfiction  #NewRelease

The Shadow Between Us

Anybody who knows me will know that Carol Mason is one of my favourite all-time authors, so as you can guess, I’m super excited to welcome her back to Literature Love for a chat today.

So, Carol, WOW what a corker of a read The Shadow Between Us was! Your writing career seems to have exploded in the last couple of years, with each book just getting better and better, if that’s possible. If I had to choose, I would say The Shadow Between Us is my favourite. It’s a little different from your other books: darker more Female Noir than your usual Women’s Fiction.  Was this a conscious decision from the start, or did the darker theme progress as you wrote your first draft?

Thanks so much for having me back, Callie! That’s a great question. The novel is still considered women’s fiction, but of course within that genre there is room to move and grow. This story was one I wanted to write for years – from back when I first began novel-writing. I’m not sure I was mature enough to be quite ready for it back then. I always knew what Olivia’s big secret was that she was carrying around. I’d imagined this very thing happening to myself for years, and that felt to me like it might make a fascinating topic for a novel. But the final twist to the story was a surprise. I had finished the book and was troubled by how straightforwardly I’d managed to write it. I usually labour over the writing process, and at times it can be quite excruciating, and yet this one had almost written itself. And yet something was nagging at me. I felt there needed to be something else to explain why Olivia and her husband had been driven apart – beyond what I’d hinted at in the story. Something that, if readers had guessed her secret by the time it is revealed, would blow them away at the end. And then quite out of the blue it came to me, and then everything about the story made sense. This was it! I thought. This was what made the story much more emotionally complex. I was terrified my editor wouldn’t agree, but she did.

 

I love the fact that small, seemingly inconsequential things, early on in The Shadow Between Us tie up later in the book, culminating into that powerful and shocking twist at the end. What do you think makes a good story?

For me, it’s character over plot every time. I can settle for a less event-filled read if I am engrossed by the plight a character finds herself in. If I can ask myself how would I react in her shoes? If I can empathise with her and get her every step of the way – even when I don’t fully agree with her decisions or actions. She needs to be massively real to me, or I’m just not invested in the story. I also need beautiful writing where I might be drawn to re-read bits. If it all sounds too “off the top of the author’s head” it doesn’t feel special to me. Good writing makes a story sing from the rooftops. But of course there does need to be an actual story, and even with simple ones, they need to make a big impression. I think the marriage of all those elements is what makes a novel great for me.

 

My first question mentions writing of the first draft. What does your writing process entail: from the first snippet of an idea to the final edit? And how long is each process?

Yikes. The process is long. Haha. I usually get what I think is a good idea and then I live with it for a little while, playing it over in my mind. Very often when I try to mentally shape it into a book I end up thinking it just hasn’t got legs. Sometimes that means I abandon it, and other times it keeps poking at me so I come back to it and try to re-think it. I usually ask myself at that point if it has all the ingredients that people seem to enjoy in my books. You can write a story like this one which is a little darker than, say, The Last Time We Met, which was a much earlier book in my career, but there are similar elements to them. For example, I will ask: Is there a heart-wrenching dilemma? Is it heart-warming? Ultimately uplifting even though it might not seem it’s going to turn out that way? What is complicated about the characters that will really make them live? Will there be a surprise or two? Will the ending satisfy? If I find myself saying YES to all of those, then I feel I have a story that I can write. I then usually try to think of the book in thirds. I will have a sense of a beginning and the ending, but the rest is a blur. So I will try to figure out what happens in the first third, then once I’ve written that, I will try to work out the next third etc. I have a few key plot points that I write to guide me but the rest is just a wing and a prayer! Once I’ve got a first draft – which takes usually about 6 months, then I feel I’ve got a story I can develop to the next level. Then I breathe out a bit and start to get excited about the next draft where I’m going to be adding layers to the story. I usually do about 3 or 4 drafts before showing it to my editor. Once they read it and give feedback, it goes through 1 or 2 more drafts, then a copy edit, then a proof-read. By then I am elated I’ve accomplished it, but so relieved it’s over!

 

Do you have a preferred writing space?

I write in a room at the front of my house. I bought myself a nice big desk that I said would always be kept looking like desks in those beautiful photo-shoots of people’s work spaces, but it’s always littered with papers, coffee cups, cat toys, lip balm, socks, you name it. I seem to write best there. I can edit on my laptop on the couch, but I don’t find I actually compose very well unless I’m at my desk. No writing at the beach for me! And coffee shops would be way too distracting as I’m too much of a people-watcher.

 

You mention in the acknowledgements that your own mum came up with the title for The Shadow Between Us. This is a great title: intriguing, yet so obvious once you’ve read the book. And those gorgeous book jackets, each with a different dress: all so similar, yet different too. Seeing them all together makes my bookshelf feel like a mini wardrobe! How much input have your publishers allowed you to have with things like titles and jacket design?

Luckily I have come up with all my titles except for The Secrets of Married Women. As for this one, I had various titles that were very close to The Shadow Between Us, but not quite it. I read them all to my mother and she pulled various faces then said, well what about The Shadow Between Us? And I thought, perfect! My fabulous publisher, Lake Union, designed some gorgeous covers for my novels. They do all look like a family – which is what they’re trying to achieve for marketing/branding purposes. What I love is there are no heads and faces. I don’t like seeing a literal interpretation of a character, and prefer to have a bit of mystery and use my imagination as a reader. I like them because they’re a little edgy, very simple, they show hands and tension which hints to the story. Lake Union are very good in that they give me a great deal of input. If I felt a direction was very wrong for my books I’d feel comfortable (ish) to say that. But fortunately that hasn’t happened!

 

The letter-writing club in The Shadow Between Us is set in a café; coffee, cake and books seem to just go so well together don’t they!  Your own social media is full of delicious, mouth-watering meals, that you have made yourself.  How do you manage to fit in the time to make such scrumptiousness within your busy writing schedule?

I have a rule that during the week I must be able to make dinner in 20 minutes so I’ve got a few recipes down to a fine art. Though that means we often eat the same stuff. I get a bit more fancy on weekends as I love to cook so I relax that way. But mainly I am a foodie and can’t handle junk or too much ordering in. Plus I always have some cake on the go. My main one is a chocolate cake recipe I’ve tweaked over time. I make one weekly and give some to my mother, hide the rest from my husband, and have myself a slice with my cup of tea at 10AM.

 

It’s been less than five months since the Last Time We Met, and less than two years since the publication of After You Left. You must be left feeling quite dizzy! Are you going to take a break? Or are you diving straight into your next book?

You have to pretty much dive back in. I think breaks are for people who write faster than I do. The Last Time We Met and The Secrets of Married Women were re-releases though I did a lot of work to them, so I have been very busy since getting published with Lake Union. But I had plenty of years striving to be published so you won’t find me complaining!

 

Thanks for dropping by Carol and for giving a glimpse into your life as a writer. In my opinion, The Shadow Between Us is your best book yet, and I wish you all the success in the world with it. READERS GO ORDER IT NOW – YOU WILL LOVE IT!!

You can read my review here:

https://www.literaturelove.co.uk/blog-1/the-shadow-between-us

If you would like to purchase this book, links to major UK book outlets are listed at the bottom of the review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Katrina Hart

 

The Lost townof Man's Crossing - Banner

I am pleased to welcome Katrina Hart over at Literature Love today. Katrina’s latest novel The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing was published on 3rd March, which so happens to be Katrina’s 30th birthday.

Hello Katrina, thank you for joining me today. You must be so excited to see The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing in print. I can’t think of a better birthday present! Is it a coincidence publication has coincided with your big 30? Or did you have it in mind when you started writing?

Thank you for having me.

Good Question! I wrote The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing a good while ago. But when it came to publishing my boyfriend and I thought it would be a wonderful Idea to publish my book on my birthday to celebrate how far I’d come in my writing journey. I was honestly really touched how many people helped celebrate my birthday and book release.

 

That is a wonderful achievement. Is writing something you’ve always wanted to do?  

I’ve always written diaries throughout my life. Writing about my days and happy and sad moments has always given me a sense of peace and cleared my mind. But a  few years back, I decided to take an online writing course and put my creative mind to good use. The tutor teaching the course really inspired me to keep writing and before I knew it the short story I had written for that course turned into my first full-length novel called Finding Destiny.

 

Do you write full-time or do you fit it in around another career?

I fit my writing around family commitments and my beloved cats, but mostly I write during nights.

 

Epic Fantasy isn’t a genre I’m familiar with. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Fantasy is so much fun to write, for me, it’s about weaving magical worlds and pushing characters out of the ordinary and into a place where everything feels different, new and sometimes scary…

Suzy’s life takes a big leap into the unknown and she discovers that the rules in The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing are very different, even those who seem to have a moral vibe about them, also blur the lines between help, healing and painful sacrifice for the good of others…

I also love writing magic in my novel, mostly because magic comes from within and sparkles out on all of us in times when we need it. In this novel, I was able to show the inner magic of my characters and the physical power that strength gives them…

There is love in fantasy and characters travelling a journey with open hearts. I think some of those scenes can feel very emotional and really hammer home. What if you wake up one day to a world full of creatures, you’d never seen before and rules that if not followed could get you killed?

I think Fantasy is made for everyone who wants to travel to a magical place, see love, friendship, inner strength and the battle of life between right and wrong. Fantasy is a genre that everyone should give a read once in their lifetime just to feel what it’s like to see all kinds of different creature, pure love and turn that love into trying to counter darkness.

 

Wow thats sounds really intriguing. I agree everybody should give it a try: you’ve definitely convinced me! And that cover is just gorgeous! Who designed this and did you have much input?

The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing’s cover was designed by Bobooks who illustrate covers from your description. This was a very new process for me, but the right one for my creative and some might say an ambitious vision of how I wanted my cover to look. I had input at every stage with Bobooks which was amazing. Not only did they walk me through each step, but they also created the vision I wanted until I was completely happy with it…  I would highly recommend them and their skills for designing even the tiny details on the cover…

 

It’s been lovely talking to you today Katrina. The Lost town of Man’s Crossing sounds very intriguing, and I wish you every success both with this book and your future writing career.

 

Blub

The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing

Would you cross a land of magic, dark creatures and hidden secrets to face your own deepest fear?

After being shot, Suzy and her friend, Bill, are offered a second chance at life in The Lost Town Of Man’s Crossing, a land to which the chosen few are transported by their personal Crossing Creatures. There, Suzy encounters the evil Cole, who is all-out to gain the highest power of the land.

But Suzy comes from a magical family: her grandmother, Miss Hollow, founded a coven called Hollow-Wings, and her grandfather left her a secret, life-changing pouch. Soon, Cole craves that secret pouch more than anything.

It’s Suzy versus Cole – and one of them has met their match.

 

About the Author

My name is Katrina Hart but my friends call me Katie. I live in the East of England with my family, my two cats–Holly and Smokey–and our dog, Jessie. They are a nutty bunch but I love them all the same.

I have always had a passion for reading. I could easily spend a whole lifetime engrossed in a good book. In my twenties I joined an online writing class where I fell in love with writing my own stories.

Since I started writing I have discovered a new love for quotes. A quote that really inspired me was from Toni Morrison. Toni said: “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

I came across this quote whilst I was studying. It was one of the many things that inspired me to begin writing Finding Destiny, my first novel.

In addition to Finding Destiny, I’ve written a number of other stories.

 

Links

Blog link http://katrinamarie25.wordpress.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Katrina-Hart-1785712648319624/

Twitter  @KatrinaHart2015

Amazon Book Link  UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07P5VP2R4

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07P5VP2R4

 

 

The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr

 

 The Poppy Field

 

Title:                                           The Poppy Field    

Author:                                       Deborah Carr

Publisher:                                   HarperImpulse

ISBN-10:                                       0008301018

ISBN-13:                                       978-0008301019

Date of Publication:                27th Dec 2018 (paperback)

         12th October 2018 (ebook)

Date of Review:                        16th October 2018

 

Synopsis

Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.

Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.

 

My Review

It’s been a while since I’ve read an historical novel, so with the centenary of Armistice Day approaching, The Poppy Field was a perfect choice.  With a dual timeline, the setting for this third-person narrative juxtaposes the tranquillity of a rural cottage in France 2018 with the same location 100 years ago, where the devastation and horrors of WW1 are only too evident.

In the present day, Gemma is a trauma nurse whose world is torn apart when her lover is rushed into the hospital where she works after a road accident. When he dies and Gemma discovers he wasn’t the man she thought he was, she takes a sabbatical refurbishing the run-down farmhouse that her father has inherited from his cousin. There she finds an old tin box containing two batches of love letters; the first batch between a young woman called Alice Le Breton and a Lieutenant Peter Conway, and the second between Alice and a Captain Edgar Woodhall.

Like Gemma, Alice is also a nurse, albeit under very different circumstances, and the first thing that struck me about Alice’s story was the level of historical research the author must have carried out. There are some epistolary style scenes, but the past element of this narrative is mostly told in a flashback style where I felt like I had been transported back in time to the make-shift hospital tents. The attention to detail with Alice’s story made me both shiver and gasp: I could almost smell the gangrene and taste the blood. As well as this, the realistic historical context makes you really appreciate just how different it must have been to have lived during that era. The way Alice, as a volunteer nurse, is answerable to the matron for her private life, almost like she was a prisoner rather than somebody who has given her free time to help others. This felt a very personal story and really brought Alice’s character to life.

As well symbolising the story’s setting, the book’s title is also a metaphorical emblem of hope and survival against all odds, and as Gemma unravels the mystery of the two sets of love letters, as well as Alice’s identity, parallels between the lives of the two women draw closer together.  Packed with both heartbreak and passion, this emotive narrative will leave you reaching for the tissues; but will Gemma’s heart finds a way to mend and flourish amongst the fields of poppies?

Not only is The Poppy Field a wonderful tribute to the heroes of WW1 but also to those who continue to serve and sacrifice themselves today.  The realistic characterisation, particularly from a historical perspective, makes this novel an ideal story for a screen adaption.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme

this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars

*****

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!

 

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

Website: www.deborahcarr.org

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poppy-Field-Deborah-Carr/dp/0008301018/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-poppy-field/deborah-carr/9780008301019