Meet the Author: Last Village by Audla English

Today we travel to the North East of England to chat with Audla English. She and I chat about how picture books, Tom and Jerry, England’s smallest train station, Roald Dahl, Marsden Bay,  and the special bond with her wonderful grandmother come together as part of Audla’s writings and her life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Lovely to meet you Camilla and thank you again for the interview. I am Audla English- which is quite apt as I am English and live in the glorious North East of the country; a beautiful part which is steeped in history, greenery, sea, sand but perhaps not sun!

In which genre do you write?

I write love stories but with a historic angle so the genre which I fit into most easily is historic fiction: romance.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I have always wanted to be a writer and used to make picture books of stories when I was a child, some of which I still have. It took me 15 years of being a ‘grown up’ until I reminisced about those happy days and I was brave enough to write again.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

The idea for ‘The Last Village’ came from two sources; my truly wonderful late gran and the North East coastline.

To start off I will talk about the coastline. The following things are all included in my novel and incredibly, at one time all actually existed in less than a one-mile long stretch of coastline in South Tyneside, North East England:

· the world’s first electric lighthouse

· the natural phenomenon of a proud coastal arch

· a hidden cave bar

· England’s smallest train station

· the site of a thriving mining village

To understand the area further, I will give a little bit of a history to it. Marsden was the name of this village which was placed precariously on an open clifftop and basked in the glow of Souter Lighthouse whilst looking out onto an uninterrupted blue sea. The village was built by the Whitburn Coal Company in the 1870’s and was a thriving mining community. However, by the 1960’s it had been completely demolished. This in turn also led to the demolition of ‘The Rattler’ which was the small hardworking train which carried the fresh coal linking the town of South Shields to the mine and was also host to England’s smallest train station.

The iconic Marsden Rock, with its arch in full display, was also only a stone’s throw away from the village. This was a naturally formed arch which succumbed to marine erosion in 1996 causing the arch to collapse and splitting the rock into two stacks. By 1997, the second stack was declared unsafe for the public and it was sadly demolished. The cave bar that hides in Marsden Bay and the shadow of the great rock still remains there to this day and is now also a boutique hotel. The remaining Marsden Rock and its surrounding area now holds the status of being the largest mainland breeding colony of seabirds between the Tweed and the Tees rivers.

Today, there is sadly no trace that a village and its thriving community existed in this open grassy space except for the odd piece of brick which may be found lurking in the long marram grasses and which hide a well of memories.

I was always fascinated that this open and sparse piece of land used to house a full community and it was this intrigue which led me to writing ‘The Last Village’. I would often imagine what it must have been like to live there. Despite the harsh Northern winters with no central heating and the hardship of those who lived there, it must have been such a wonderful place to wake up to and witness the impressive view of Souter Lighthouse and the powerful North Sea.

Secondly, I must mention my wonderful gran. I think most people would agree that there is a special bond between grandparent and grandchild and if they have sadly passed on, a grandparent will always hold a special place in their hearts. My gran was North East England born and bred, coming from a coal mining family, to others she will have just been another old lady but to me, she was exceptional. I wanted to convey the love between a grandmother and granddaughter and also love between families and how this love can span generations.


(Audla’s gran)

This is reflected in the novel which is a moving love story and is dual timeline between the 1940’s and present day, telling the story of Lily, the Gran, who lived in the village and Anna, the Granddaughter, who discovers her Grandmother’s past. The change in the area and the attitudes towards love can clearly be seen between the two different timelines, as well as some really nostalgic references. Nevertheless, the novel also highlights how some aspects of love have not changed at all, even across three generations.

If you could have a fantasy tea with an author from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would without hesitation, have a cup of tea (English Breakfast Tea) with my absolutely favourite author Roald Dahl. I know that Roald Dahl would often draw on real life experiences in his writing and I would ask him which character he most enjoyed creating.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

The most enjoyable thing is the escapism that writing brings. I love that writing can take you to places that you can only dream of and that you can fully unleash your mind and your feelings.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss the freedom of imagination and innocence of being a child. How brilliant was it when you could spend an entire day making tents (masquerading also as caves, royal ships or lion’s dens) out of old blankets, only emerging ravenous for lunch or for an often-desperate toilet break, to then fully submerge yourself back into that world.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

I would tell myself to stop worrying about some of the small stuff; it really doesn’t matter!

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I would choose Tom and Jerry. I would want to be a mouse and be friends with Jerry, he is hilarious and so clever how he outwits Tom. I also could sit and eat cheese all day (Brie please)!

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I watched X Men: First Class. I know this might be quite surprising as a writer of romance but I absolutely love all things Marvel. I also think this film has an outstanding cast.

A giraffe knocks on your door and is wearing a bowler hat. What does he say and why is he there?

Mr Pomphrey, the gentleman giraffe, has of course arrived wearing his bowler hat, pinstripe suit and monocle, to take me out for afternoon tea. As I open the door, he says “Jolly good to see you, it has been too long, I am quite simply ravenous, shall we?” He then leads me to his open top vintage British racing green jaguar car and off we go!

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

My favorite place to visit is South Tyneside. As I mentioned previously, it is an area of natural beauty with its golden sandy beaches and coastal formations, it has a cave bar serving fresh seafood overlooking a bay which houses the incomparable Marsden Rock, Souter Lighthouse (the world’s first electric lighthouse) is always welcoming, as well as a rich history and it is not far from my home. I am very very lucky.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a new novel which will also be a dual-time line historical fiction set in the North East of England around the milling and ship merchants’ industries. The genre will also be romance, focussing around the life of the best friend of the Gran of the modern-day character. The modern-day character will unearth a decades long secret…

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

‘The Last Village’, A Chill with a Book Premier Readers’ Award winner and 2019 American Fiction Awards Finalist, is available to purchase on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback format. The cover photo depicts Souter Lighthouse today alongside the Leas, the former site of Marsden Village.

South Tyneside sounds like a wonderful place! Thank you for sharing about your writing and this amazing place! It was great to have you on MTA, Audla. All the best to you! – Camilla

The majestic Souter Lighthouse stands proudly at the edge of the cliff top surrounded by open grassy empty fields and overlooking a vast blue wilderness. Anna Charles knows nothing of the life that her grandmother once had here. It wasn’t until an unexpected engagement, that Anna discovered the past of her Gran and the truth behind an enduring love.

Seventy years earlier, Lillian Smith, had been part of the close-knit community that once thrived in the village that existed next to the lighthouse. A chance meeting with a sailor one day, would change the course of her life forever.

A moving novel set in the North East of England. The Last Village is an enduring love story which spans the 1940’s and modern day, binding the generations.

Where to buy the book:

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Village-Audla-English-ebook/dp/B07JDS2SYC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1EB3CBN6EICIX&keywords=the+last+village+by+audla+english&qid=1568055985&s=gateway&sprefix=the+last+village%2Caps%2C161&sr=8-1

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Village-Audla-English-ebook/dp/B07JDS2SYC/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1XB2EVA92O3Q2&keywords=the+last+village&qid=1568056041&s=gateway&sprefix=the+last+village%2Caps%2C217&sr=8-2

Connect with Audla:

Facebook AudlaEnglishAuthor

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Meet the Author: Rogue’s Holiday by Regan Walker

Today we travel to San Diego, California in the United States to chat with Regan Walker. She and I discuss how a career as a lawyer, an Irish Wolfhound, reviewing historical romance books, Margaret Queen of Scots, Winston Churchill, a historical schooner, and the ocean come together as part of Regan’s writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in San Diego near the coast and I love it. My career as a lawyer was pretty intense. I still practice law part time but, since 2011, I also am a writer of historical romance novels. For my stories set in the Georgian, Regency and Medieval eras, I do considerable research to make them authentic. Each of my novels includes real history and real historical figures.

In which genre do you write?

Historical romance: Georgian, Regency and Medieval eras.

How many published books do you have?

With this new one, it’s 15 (3 series and related books).

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I have always been a writer, even as a child. As a lawyer, I wrote legal-related opinion pieces and articles. But I didn’t turn to writing fiction until 2011 when I did so at the suggestion of my best friend. That led to my first novel, Racing with the Wind.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I don’t plot for one thing. I let the history and the characters lead me. I like to see how the story unfolds and I’m often surprised. I recall a 5-star review that was effusive in its praise for my “complicated and wonderful plot”… Ha!

What would you choose as your mascot and why?

My constant companion is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon named “Cody”. I’d choose him or possibly an Irish Wolfhound like “Magnus”, a character in my medieval story, Rogue Knight. It’s comforting to have a big dog alongside you and they are fun to hug, too.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

More room than I have now. I like a large rectangular table (say 5 x 7 feet) where I can set up all my stuff. However, when I moved into a small condo I had to give up that table. Sigh. Deep regrets.

What are you currently reading?

Likely a Victorian romance. I have a blog, Historical Romance Review
(https://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/), where I review books (a different subgenre each month). November is Victorian month and December is “Favorites” month. From my monthly reviews I prepare “best lists” from those I’ve rated 4 and 5 stars.

What do you do when you are not writing or marketing your books?

I practice law part time; I walk my dog on the beach in the early morning; I visit with friends (I make killer popcorn for “movie night”); I read every night; I attend weekly church services; and I watch period historical dramas.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

There are so many. I loved Margaret Queen of Scots who was married to Malcolm III, King of Scots (both characters in my novels Rebel Warrior and The Refuge). I would ask her about her faith and the Scotland in which she lived. I would also like to visit with William Wilberforce, the British statesman who led the anti-slavery movement in the Georgian era in England. He, too, was a great man of faith and, having read some of his writing, I would have to ask about his relationship with God. But, since I named my son after Winston Churchill, I have to include him. He was a visionary and a great leader who, more than any man, was responsible for defeating the Nazis in WWII. I’d ask his view on the world today. I’m certain nothing that has happened would surprise him.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

How much I love the research and look forward to entering the world of my characters. When my legal work picks up, I miss my writing.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene?

The most unusual was taking a ride on a historical schooner like those in my novels (many of my books have scenes set on a ship). I wanted to get the feel of the moving deck and the wind in the sails. I did a blog post on it:
https://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-challenge-of-setting-story-on-ship.html

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

No, but I do take notes when the muse alights and I keep a yellow pad and pen near my bed for late night inspirations.

What is the most crazy thing that has ever happened to you?

If we are speaking of my writing, it would be when I was writing Rebel Warrior, set in 11th century Scotland. I stumbled across a real historic figure that could have been the hero in my story. He was an Anglo-Saxon who fled William the Conqueror to live in Scotland and rose to be a mormaer, the equivalent of an English earl. He even had a home in the area of Loch Lomond where my hero ends up! It was like falling back in time to realize my fictional character had been a real person.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking?

I always write to music and sometimes for special scenes, I pick a certain song. For the battle scene on the English Channel in To Tame the Wind, I listened to “The Courier” from the soundtrack of Last of the Mohicans. That’s what inspired the scene and likely what I would listen to before reading it.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?

Lady Mary Campbell from Racing with the Wind. I’d go riding on her Friesian stallion and have tea in her grand estate with her good friend, Elizabeth.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Courage, determination and perseverance. All three have come in handy.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

The ocean near where I live. I love the smell of the sea and the sand beneath my feet. I have traveled to over 40 countries but I always love coming home.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My newest release is Rogue’s Holiday, a Regency in which the bad boy of the Powell family and a spy for the Crown takes a holiday in Brighton as the guest of the new King George IV where he encounters a beautiful hellion and great danger.

It was wonderful learn more about you and your writing style, Regan. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Even a spy needs a holiday…

Robert Powell’s work as a spy saves the Cabinet ministers from a gruesome death and wins him accolades from George IV. As a reward, the king grants him a baronetcy and a much-deserved holiday at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton where he thinks to indulge in brandy, cards, good horseflesh and women.

But when Muriel, Dowager Countess of Claremont, learns of Sir Robert’s intended destination, she begs a favor…to watch over an “errant child” who is the grandniece of her good friend living in the resort town. Little does Robbie know that Miss Chastity Reynolds is no child but a beautiful hellion who is seemingly immune to his charms.

Chastity lives in the shadow of her mother and sisters, dark-haired beauties men admire. Her first Season was a failure but, as she will soon come into a family legacy, she has no need to wed. When she first encounters Sir Robert, she dubs him The Rogue, certain he indulges in a profligate lifestyle she wants no part in.

In Brighton, Robbie discovers he is being followed and senses the conspirators who had planned to murder the Cabinet have discovered his identity. Worse, they know the location of Chastity’s residence.

Where to buy the book:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YQ55RNQ 

Connect with Regan:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Regan-Walker/e/B008OUWC5Y

Author website: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6450403.Regan_Walker

Pinterest boards: https://www.pinterest.com/reganwalker123/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RegansReview

Regan’s Blog (Historical Romance Review): http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/

Regan Walker’s Readers FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReganWalkersReaders/

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Author: The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook: A Practical Guide to Living off the Land by Lorraine Turnbull

Today we’re traveling to South West France to chat with Lorraine Turnbull. She and I discuss how being a police officer, gardening, the Milky Way, hay, and being single minded come together as part of her past and current life. Pull on your wellingtons, let’s get going …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Glasgow in Scotland, but now live in sunny South West France after living in rural North Cornwall for many years running my very small smallholding and making cider.

In which genre do you write?

Well, I’m currently writing my second non-fiction book, but would love to write in another genre; although my head is so stuffed with ideas I don’t know I could narrow it down to just one other genre!  Perhaps there is a rural bonkbuster in me?  Fifty Shades of Hay?


(Lorraine in a beekeeping suit)

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

Some time ago I was a Police Officer in Strathclyde Police.
I enjoy watching boxing on TV.
I have a morbid fear of wasps.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I have a beautiful home with two gite rentals here in Dordogne, so I’m often getting them ready for guests.  I love gardening and filling my garden with unusual plants, and I love taking photographs of local landmarks at night with the Milky Way in the sky.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’m quite single minded, and find it impossible to accept being told I can’t do something.  What utter nonsense; of course I can do it!  So I just quietly get on with it, perhaps not in the way I first planned, but I get there.  I think self belief is one of the most positive traits anyone can have and I can often be found wandering round the house muttering ‘I can do it’ under my breath.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

How would I narrow it down to just one thing?  Being told on the police radio to catch the runaway racehorse that’s galloping towards me on a residential street? Pulling on my wellingtons in the morning to find my foot squelching down on the remains of a mouse the cat had deposited into it?  Being hailed loudly in a supermarket by someone who has read my first book – “Are you the chicken woman?”

It was wonderful to meet you Lorraine! I am also quite single minded, so appreciate that you mentioned it. Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

‘The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook’   A Practical Guide to Living off the Land.

Where to Buy:

http://shop.posthousepublishing.com/The-Sustainable-Smallholders-Handbook

UK Amazon : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sustainable-Smallholders-Handbook-practical-living/dp/1903872332/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+sustainable+smallholders+handbook&qid=1567336198&s=books&sr=1-1<

Connect with Lorraine:

Facebook:     https://www.facebook.com/SustainableSmallholding/

The Sustainable Smallholders Handbook

A practical guide to making and saving money on your smallholding

  • Smallholding and living sustainably continue to be one of the most
    sought after and elusive ways to live and work in the UK.
  • This book is aimed at all those who aspire to live the ‘Good Life’ on a
    smallholding; those who are already living on a struggling
    smallholding; and those budding off-griders and self builders who are
    aiming to live a low impact life in the countryside.
  • A very practical guide with 10 ‘warts and all’ case studies from existing
    smallholders and rural businesses.

Contents

1) Size Isn’t Everything

Planning to live the dream; arranging finance and spreading the risk; aiming
for high value; time management.

2) Properties

Buying smallholdings, land with hope value and off-grid living. Agricultural
Occupancy Conditions – what they are, how to live with them and how to lift
them. Soil, location and aspect of properties.

3) Skills and How to Acquire Them

Skills to learn, private, community and college courses, HelpX or Woofer
experience, internet learning.

4) Livestock

Regulations and record keeping, poultry, bees, pigs, sheep, goats, cattle,
alpacas.

5) Food and Drink Production

Eggs; cheese, jams and honey, juice &amp; alcoholic drinks, meat, nuts,
seaweed and other exotics.

6) Orchards

Apples, cider, under-grazing, planting an orchard, mistletoe, tree stock.

7) Teaching

Adult learning, community teaching, private tuition, insurance, lesson
planning and risk assessment.

8) Markets and Marketing

The marketplace, branding, signage, the internet and social media.

9) Diversification and Adding Value

Exploiting land and buildings, holiday letting, crafts, weddings, services, field
sports.

10) Self Sufficiency

Adapting existing smallholdings &amp; rural businesses, energy efficiency, water recycling, heating, electricity, off-grid living.

11) The Last Word

Preventing project failure.

Appendices

About Lorraine:

Lorraine Turnbull has written occasional magazine articles on land based subjects since 2008. This is her first reference book. She ran a smallholding in Cornwall for many years, whilst working as a tutor for the Rural Business School, and latterly ran a craft cider business. In 2014 she was awarded Best Individual in the Cornwall Sustainability Awards.

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Meet the Author: Butterflies by Lily Hayden

Today we’re traveling to Wales to chat with Lily Hayden. She and I discuss how sensible career options, winning the lottery, laughing, Roald Dahl, Rugrats, and walks along the river are part of her past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Lily Hayden and I’m a mother of four, an author and animal lover from the beautiful country of Wales. My first book Butterflies was published in 2018.

In which genre do you write?

My go-to genre is women’s contemporary fiction; Butterflies is a very modern love story, The Village Online is a murder mystery based around a village social media page and Summer Down South is a racier romance. It definitely fits into the chick lit category; easy, light, palate-cleansers.

I’ve also released a young adult dystopian novel Project Terra under the pseudonym SJ Woods.

Strong modern women, especially mothers, are my protagonist of choice though and my next releases all centre around these superwomen.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve always wanted to write, but it felt like an unachievable dream; like winning the lottery or becoming a platinum-selling singer (I still dream of both these things but unless voice transplants become a thing, this is never happening).

I put it to the back of my mind and went about sensible career options, but at the back of mind it was always calling me. I picked up, started and then put down my pen several times over the course of my adult life, always putting it off until ‘tomorrow’.

I was very close to my grandmother and we used to write stories together. She always wanted to write a novel and I wanted to achieve this goal for both of us. I think you do get to a point where you know you need to stop peering over the edge and just jump. As I always say to my friends, if it all goes wrong at least it’ll make a good story!

What would you choose as your spirit animal and why?

My spirit animal is a cat. I strongly believe that all other categories can be abolished and people can be divided into cat people or dog people, which will tell you everything you will possibly need to know about them. Characteristics of dog people are being loyal, friendly, warm-hearted and social. I would love to be a dog person but sadly I’m a cat; aloof, likes sleeping, will go and live in another house if they’ve got better food. And did I mention they sleep an average of 15 hours a day!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A quiet room brimming with books with a huge bay window seat overlooking blue skies and the sea. My current writing space, however, is nothing of the sort and I will nearly always be writing sandwiched between a spaniel and a cavachon (cavalier spaniel and bichon frise cross) on my sofa. I have been know to scrawl paragraphs down in the notes in my phone, mainly on trains and even in the back of a taxi on the way to a night out. For some reason, I can’t focus sat at a desk. The moment I sit down I think of a million “urgent” things I need to do. Maybe it’s a kick back to all the time wasting I did in my office life.

What are you currently reading?

The Handmaid’s Tale. One of my favourites.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Mainly shouting or laughing (big thank you to my neighbours for pretending they don’t hear). Nobody in my house listens to me- not the kids, not the dogs, definitely not the cats. Books and comedy are my favourite. If I’m not reading, I’m laughing at the most ridiculous things with one of the many funny people in my life. Life is too short to take everything seriously.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author from the past, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I not only share a country of birth with Roald Dahl, but we also share a birthday. He was an extremely talented writer and I think most book lovers can think fondly back to their first time reading a Road Dahl book as a child. As well as chatting about his books, I’d really like to ask him about his time in the RAF during World War 2. My grandfather was in the RAF too during this time and I can’t even begin to imagine what life was like back then.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Not paying bills, the endless school holidays where everyday was an adventure out with friends and the compulsory learning!

I loved school and if money and time were no object, I think I’d study every subject I could (or at least try to)! The world is a fascinating place and I think as kids, we see it more that way, before we grow too preoccupied with the little things and responsibilities that make up life.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I loved Rugrats. I would love to hang out with Tommy and Angelica for the day. Nobody remembers what it’s like to be a baby- all those new experiences! I bet it’s mind-blowing!

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

“Hola, te gusta Fanta Limon?”

We’ve just come back from Ibiza and that’s all the Spanish vocab my kids have nailed. It is the best flavour Fanta though.

The penguin will definitely have brushed up on some tourist Spanish ready for our trip. Pinguino is here to take me on holiday. No kids, no work, just sun, sea and sangria and we’re going to have a blast!

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I’m from the beautiful country of Wales. We’re famous for our gorgeous mountains and valleys, we’ve also got castles and amazing beaches (although it does rain here a lot!). I’m from the city of Newport in South Wales and as a fairly young city, Newport has an amazing music and art scene. It’s so hard to choose one favourite place because there are so many things to do, but today there’s no place I’d rather be than walking my dogs along the river and the woods with a stop off at the pub of course.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a love story that takes us through the main character’s life from her first love at fifteen to her current day life at forty (or thereabouts). I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s as much a story of her finding her true self as it is about her handsome first love who just keeps coming back at key points in her life.

Tell us about your book.

Butterflies is Lucy’s tale of finding love and fulfilment after years of struggling to juggle motherhood and an unrewarding job. As in real life, it doesn’t always run smoothly for Lucy and there are a couple of twists and turns along the way. Her love story is a little different to traditional boy-meets-girl but I hope you love Lucy’s happy ending as much as I do.

I very much enjoyed your sense of humor, Lily! It was wonderful learning more about you and I love what you say about life being too short to take everything seriously. Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Butterflies is available as an ebook or paperback at Amazon:

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Butterflies-Lily-Hayden-ebook/dp/B07CQ25SK5/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?keywords=lily+hayden&qid=1565552597&s=gateway&sprefix=Lily+Hayd&sr=8-2

US: https://www.amazon.com/Butterflies-Lily-Hayden-ebook/dp/B07CQ25SK5/ref=mp_s_a_1_6?keywords=lily+hayden&qid=1565552642&s=gateway&sprefix=Lily+Hayd&sr=8-6

Follow Hayden Woods Creative on Facebook and Twitter, and hwoods_creative on Instagram for the most up to date releases and more info.

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Meet the Author: Moonbeams from the Soul by Fay Knowles

Today we’re traveling to Nassau, New Providence Island in The Bahamas to chat with Fay Knowles. She and I discuss how being a newspaper reporter, seeking sunnier climates, travel writing, short stories, a babbling brook, and an old oak tree come together as part of Fay’s past and present writing journey.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Scottish-born writer who made The Bahamas my home many years ago. I live in Nassau, New Providence Island. I have been writing since the age of nine, penned a children’s adventure story book at eleven and won a school essay competition at age fifteen.

After leaving school at sixteen, I trained in Devon, England, as a secretary, then newspaper reporter. At the age of twenty I set off to “work my way around the world”, first emigrating by ship to Canada. I worked as a production/editorial assistant for the former Canadian Food Journal and Gift Buyer, Toronto. And then, to avoid a Canadian winter and to seek sunnier climes, I took a Greyhound coach down across the U.S. from Toronto to Miami, en route for The Bahamas.

I met my future husband Erskine in Nassau a month after that and we were married the following year. I never did “travel the world”!

As well as getting by-lines in British and Bahamian newspapers, my articles have appeared in Westward News (a former in house publication of British Telecom), the Kennel Gazette (official journal of the British Kennel Club), Christian Herald, and Sports Magazine Bahamas.

My writing assignments have included articles for Bahamas Information Services, travel writing for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and as a photo journalist for Town Centre Mall, Nassau, Bahamas. I once worked as a “temp” for the late Sir Etienne Dupuch, former Publisher/Editor of The Tribune, Nassau, transcribing his long, captivating editorials.

My short stories have been published in The Lady magazine, London, England, and The Broadkill Review, Delaware, U.S.A.; with poetry in the U.K. magazine Evergreen.

Most of my short stories in Sunbeams from the Heart – A Collection of Twelve Romantic Short Stories were first published in The Lady or The Broadkill Review.

And I also have a new book of short stories “Moonbeams from The Soul: A Collection of Fourteen Provocative Short Stories”.

I drew on my Scottish background and knowledge of The Bahamas when writing my Romantic Suspense novel Love at Sunset, which is now Book One in my Buchanan Mystery Romance Series.

And my mini-memoir The Scottish Connection tells of my journey back to Scotland with my mother and young sons to revisit our Scottish roots.

My writer’s guide How to Be the Best Writer Ever!  is “An informal guide and source of inspiration for new and not so new writers worldwide.”

In which genre do you write?

Mystery Romance, Romantic Suspense, Literary Fiction, Poetry and Non Fiction

How many published books do you have?

Five so far + a short story. I am currently working on another novel “Oleanders End”, which is Book Two in my Buchanan Mystery Romance Series.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

At age nine I read a lovely poem about a babbling brook, which sparked the passion in me for writing!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A desk; an office chair that gives good back support; a computer and printer; pens and steno pads; a window with a window seat and view of ocean or countryside; and a comfortable chair for reading.

What are you currently reading?

I have just finished reading “The Guest Children” by Geoffrey Bilson (The Story of the British Child Evacuees Sent to Canada During World War II)

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I’m “secretary” for any of my family members whenever they need me to help with their business ventures!

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That I have actually managed to get books published!

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I used to keep a daily diary while growing up, but life interferes now!

What do you miss about being a kid?

Just climbing up onto the branches of an old oak tree and scribbling away to my heart’s content!

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’ve been told by a former schoolmate that as a child I was more self-assured than most of the other students and capable of expressing negative views whereas the rest tended to be “yes-men”! I never knew that about myself. I think this trait has helped me get ahead in life.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Starbucks! That’s where I meet other writers and chat about writing.

It was wonderful to learn more about you and your writings Fay. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Book Blurbs and Where to Find Fay’s Books:

MOONBEAMS FROM THE SOUL: A COLLECTION OF FOURTEEN PROVOCATIVE SHORT STORIES

From wild temptations to dangerous decisions, an eclectic assortment of thought- provoking short stories.

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2PIAgd7

LOVE AT SUNSET – A ROMANTIC SUSPENSE (BUCHANAN MYSTERY
ROMANCE SERIES BOOK ONE)

Facing imminent danger and fierce opposition to love a second time around, Violet and Gordon seek a new life in Gordon’s homeland of Scotland, thousands of miles away from where they had lived in Nassau, Bahamas, but trouble catches up with them in their little loch side cottage. In the meantime, back in Nassau an unscrupulous attorney appears on the scene, along with a crooked realtor. What they do and the extent they would go to leads to a shocking ending.

Available on Amazon as an e-book and in paperback (regular and large print).
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EVYUSAC

SUNBEAMS FROM THE HEART – A COLLECTION OF TWELVE ROMANTIC SHORT STORIES

“A beautiful keepsake. Love themes in this delightful collection of romantic short stories tell of nostalgia, bright new beginnings, homecoming, second chances – and the unexpected! Heart-warming stories that propel you on a journey through Scotland, England, The Bahamas and rural America.”

Available on Amazon as an e-book and in paperback (regular and large print).
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019BS227K

THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION: A JOURNEY BACK – MINI-MEMOIR.

“Driving long distances in a short space of time throughout the United Kingdom is the norm nowadays. However, in the seventies it was often an adventure to cover the length or breadth of Britain. In this illustrated mini-memoir Stirling-born Fay Knowles shares memories of her 1978 journey back to Scotland with her mother and young sons, to revisit their Scottish roots.”

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXVR7R0HOW

TO BE THE BEST WRITER EVER!

An informal guide and source of inspiration for new and not so new writers worldwide- Always wanted to write a book? Or are you a writer whose career is going nowhere? This uplifting writer’s guide outlines the craft and how to become the best writer ever in fifteen straightforward and easy to understand chapters.

FUNNELS (A SHORT STORY)

Annie endures a tedious existence with her baby daughter and irresponsible casino dealer husband in what to most people is a tropical paradise. She sometimes gazes from their dilapidated porch at the distant funnels of luxury cruise ships docked in the harbour. If the wind is in the right direction, she hears the huge creatures wail, promising to take her away. She longs to escape from it all, but is tied down to eking a living with grueling double shifts in a local restaurant. When an unexpected opportunity comes along she has
to make a sudden decision. However, she is torn between her family and the prospect of elevating herself to a better life. What she decides determines their future.

Connect with Fay:

Blog – https://fayknowles.blogspot.com
Amazon author’s page – http://www.amazon.com/author/fayknowles
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/faykwrites
Twitter – @faykwrites
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/fayknowles/
Instagram – @faykwrites

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Meet the Author: My Daughter’s Wedding by Claire Baldry

Today we travel to the East Sussex coast, in the UK town of Bexhill on Sea, to chat with Claire Baldry. She and I discuss how being a retired headteacher, type 1 Diabetes, the speaker circuit, poetry, Jane Austen, and being a compulsive multi-tasker come together as part of Claire’s past and current writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a retired headteacher and English Advisor, and I now live on the East Sussex coast in the UK town of Bexhill on Sea with my husband Chris. Chris has had type 1 Diabetes for most of his adult life, so we have done a lot of fundraising for Diabetes UK. In 2017, we were awarded the SE Diabetes UK fundraising Inspire Award.

I started writing light-hearted poetry when Chris was rushed into hospital in 2012, and I was confined at home for several months as a carer while he was recovering. He no longer needs full-time care, but once I began to write, I couldn’t stop. I’m now on the speaker circuit, performing my poetry, and talking to groups about my writing and how Chris’s disability impacts on our lives.

How many published books do you have?

I’ve now published five booklets of amusing poetry, an autobiographical novella and two novels. The poetry is mostly light-hearted, though I do throw in the occasional more serious verse.

In what genre do you write?

I enjoy writing about older protagonists, and both my novels have a central theme of ‘love in later life’. I’m passionate about promoting books and poetry with issues which appeal to readers in mid-life and beyond. I have created a popular website called ‘Books for Older Readers’ which contains a wide variety of virtual book shelves where readers can browse and discover books with themes such as second chances, intergenerational relationships, and career changes in later life.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

At home I have a large area with a desk in a spare bedroom which I have set aside for writing and I never use it. To me it feels too isolated. I always creep back into our living room with my laptop and write in a corner sitting on the sofa. I just cut myself off from anyone else in the room and concentrate on my writing. I think my years of primary school teaching taught me to ignore noise. Having said that, there are only two of us at home now. If I lived in a house full of noisy dogs and toddlers, I might be grateful for a bespoke writing space.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author from the past who would it be, and what would you ask them?

Definitely Jane Austen. I love her sense of humour and am sure she would make me laugh. There is so much hidden feminism in her writing. I would like to know what experiences gave her such an advanced perception of Victorian society.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through your writing?

I seem to have an unexpected interest in the psychology of people with traumatic pasts. I find myself wanting to empathise with them and understand their motives. So each of my seemingly conventional novels contain at least one character who has had a difficult past. Without wishing to give too much of the plots away, in ‘Different Genes’ there’s Bob who obsesses about the main female character with very dramatic consequences, and in ‘My Daughter’s Wedding’ we meet the lady who regularly goes to funerals and steals sandwiches.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Actually, not much. In childhood we have to take on other people’s values and obey their rules. I’m a bit of a control freak and I like to be in charge.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on….

For me the whole idea of a ‘solo’ anything, fills me with horror. I hate being alone and always seek out company. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I started writing after I retired. If I am not with other people, I make them up and write about them. My books and poetry are filled with my ‘pretend friends’.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I am a compulsive multi-tasker. Why do one thing when you can do so many more? I always have a multitude of tasks in hand. This does sometimes cause me stress, but it is enormously useful when I am writing and marketing at the same time.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recently published novel, called ‘My Daughter’s Wedding’ is about the preparations for a wedding from the point of view of the mother of the bride. It includes an ‘older generation’ love story, but also explores the relationship between bride and mother at this emotional time.

It was a pleasure getting to know you through this interview Claire. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

You can find it on Amazon or order it from most bookshops.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Cfd3r4

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2rdQ9hp

Connect with Claire and discover more about her writing:

http://www.clairebaldry.co.uk

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Meet the Author: The Rift Between Us by Rebecca Marsh

Today we travel to Dallas, Georgia in the United States to chat with Rebecca Marsh. We talk about how gaining life experience, having a family, telling stories on the playground, Francesca Battistelli, the beach, and the local writer’s group come together as part of Rebecca’s past and present life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Dallas, GA in the United States. I’m a wife, a mother, and an animal lover. I write emotional stories that mostly revolve around healing, forgiveness, and redemption. I first started writing when I was twelve and wrote short stories all through middle school and high school.

A couple years after that, I largely stopped writing for two reasons: first because I didn’t feel ready to write the stories that I had in mind. I needed to gain more life experience. One can certainly write about things that they haven’t experienced personally, but to do a good job, you have to use the experiences you have had as well as using what you have learned from the people you know and the things you have read or seen. There are lots of ways to learn about different human experiences and the emotions that go with them. I needed time to do that.

The second reason was that I had another dream to have a family and I was working on making that dream come true. When my daughter started pre-school, I began to write again. The idea for my first novel had been in my head for years, but it had always been like a scattered puzzle. The pieces were there, but I hadn’t been able to put them all together.

Right before the pre-school year began, though, the pieces of that story started falling into place, so the timing seemed perfect. It was slow since I didn’t get much time to work on it, but eventually I finished my first novel and I’ve continued writing since then. But my journey into publishing my work was also slow in coming since I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it all myself. But after meeting some other local writers who had done it themselves and learning about it, I decided to take that leap.

It isn’t easy and I’m still learning, but every time someone tells me that my book was meaningful to them, it is worth the effort.

In which genre do you write?

I write contemporary fiction. It also fits the mold for women’s fiction, but I don’t really like that genre name because it makes it sound like men shouldn’t read it.

How many published books do you have?

Two with the second released on July 8th.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame? 

I was 12 when I first began to write, but I think it was in me even before that. I was a kid that didn’t make friends super easy and I can look back and remember times when I didn’t have anyone to play with on the playground. I would walk around and tell myself stories.

As far as igniting my author’s flame, well, I guess that varies. A lot of times I don’t really know where my story ideas come from. They are just there. But I think the characters developing into unique people in the story is what I love the most.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books? 

Spend time with my family would be first and foremost.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? 

I will be speaking soon in releasing my second book. I don’t love public speaking, but it gets easier each time. One song I repeat in my head in preparation for speaking is Francesca Battistelli’s “The Breakup Song”. It begins with the line, Fear you don’t own me …

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?  

That’s a tough one. In the stories I write, the main characters all have some pretty big issues that I wouldn’t ask for. However, there are characteristics they have that I wouldn’t mind having. Beth, the MC from my first book is strong and resilient. Lauren, in my second book, is super dedicated to her craft as an artist (though sometimes to the point of having tunnel vision).

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?  

I would ask my dog: why do you roll around in that same spot in the backyard?, and: why do you bark at some dogs we see and not others?, I would ask my cat: who do you think you’re looking at when you stare at your reflection?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why? 

Though it isn’t always easy, I’d have to say that the ability to accept constructive criticism and learn from it are the most useful traits that I have developed. It was hard at first and I wanted to be defensive (sometimes I still do), but I find that when I sit back and take in what others are saying about my work, I learn and grow. I get a lot of that from my local writer’s group and I thank them for all their help.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why? 

The beach, any beach. I love how peaceful it is to sit and listen to the waves.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book, The Rift Between Us, released July 8th on Amazon. It is the story of three estranged sisters who are brought back together by a stipulation in their father’s will. It is a story of a father’s love that moved him to set up such an elaborate plan. And it is a story about how siblings can grow apart because they hold onto old grudges and fail to see the changes in each other. It is also a story of hope and healing. There’s a bit of romance in there as well.

It was wonderful to learn more about you, Rebecca. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Blurb for my second book, The Rift Between Us: 

After a family dinner turns into a bitter fight, sisters Maria, Lauren, and Avery decide to go their separate ways. Their father warns them that someday they will need one another. When he dies suddenly, they learn that he intends to make sure that they do. He’s left them a substantial inheritance, far more than any of them ever imagined.

There’s just one catch. If they want the money, they will have to spend two weeks together at a secluded lake house and follow all of their father’s instructions—no matter how strange.

Their task seems simple enough, but each one is holding onto painful secrets and old grudges the others know nothing about. But if they can learn to trust each other again, they might be able to mend the rift between them and give their father his dying wish.

Where to find the book:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TGF9P4F  and on Rebecca’s website: https://www.rebeccalmarsh.com/

First book:

Blurb for my first book, When the Storm Ends: 

Beth thought her violent childhood was something she left in the past—until she met Erin. Now the abuse of her step-father has returned in terrifying nightmares.

Beth became a child psychologist so she could help children who are broken and hurting, but Erin, the fifteen-year-old who killed her father, is different. If Beth can’t reach her and find out why she did it, Erin will spend the rest of her childhood behind bars. To most people, it looks simple—Erin is either crazy or evil, but when Beth looks into Erin’s haunted eyes, she’s sure that something terrible was done to this girl. Erin, however, isn’t talking.

Beth believes Erin might open up to someone with whom she feels a kinship. Of course, Beth knows she shouldn’t share her own past with a patient, but the clock is ticking toward Erin’s trial, and Beth is out of options.

Little does Beth know that taking this terrifying leap will not only reveal the truth about Erin, but will rip Beth’s past wide open as well—and a connection between them that will shake Beth to the core.

Link to my first book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2pwxCMY

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40807015-when-the-storm-ends?ac=1&from_search=true 

Connect with Rebecca:

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaLynnMarsh/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Website: https://www.rebeccalmarsh.com/

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Meet the Author: Buried Deep in Our Hearts by Tracie Barton-Barrett

Today we travel to North Carolina in the US to chat with Tracie Barton-Barrett. She and I discuss how Walter Farley, journaling, Smurfette, being a life-long animal enthusiast, a licensed Professional Counselor, and being in the woods fit into Tracie’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

As a life-long animal enthusiast, I’m a speaker, Licensed Professional Counselor with a specialty in pet loss, and former psychology and sociology instructor. Buried Deep in Our Hearts is my debut novel, and I hope it will help the reader to relate, reflect, and heal after the loss of a beloved animal. I’ve facilitated pet loss support groups and presented and written articles on the subject. I’m originally from Michigan and my husband and I live in North Carolina in the US and am owned by our two cats, Rutherford B. Barrett and Oliver Monkey.

 In which genre do you write?

Contemporary/Women’s fiction. The next book will be more YA.

How many published books do you have?

Just one, thus far! (BURIED DEEP IN OUR HEARTS)

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

Sometimes I feel like a horse. Sometimes I feel like a tiger. And, then sometimes I feel like a pigeon and sometimes I’m the statue!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It really depends upon my mood. Sometimes I’m in my office, sometimes I’m outside or at the library. Sometimes I’m sitting in my chair in the bedroom, and sometimes on the floor. Just depends!

What are you currently reading?

I usually read local/indie authors whose writing is comparable to best-seller’s. Just beta read for my friend who will be releasing INVISIBLE GIRL soon.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I love to be in the woods or in/near the water, spend time with friends and family. I also love to travel, pet any animal, horseback ride, Christmas, learn about history, laugh, and watch really good shows and movies, including ones I’ve watched so many times, I can quote the lines! Huge Disney fan here, too!

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Since I geek out to anything television or movie, this is a difficult question. As of this writing, I would love to spend time with Betty White and ask her about her time when television was first making its debut and her experience on Golden Girls, one of my favorite sit-coms.  She’s also a huge animal supporter, so we wouldn’t be at a loss for topics to discuss. As for a former author, I’d love to talk with either Harper Lee, since TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is one of my all-time favorite novels. Or, I would talk with Walter Farley, who wrote THE BLACK STALLION books. And, would love to sit down with Walt Disney. So many things I’d love to discuss with him!

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That I’m writing fiction! I always read non-fiction as a child, so when I told my mom I was writing fiction she asked me, with a glint in her eye,  “You do know what fiction is, don’t you?”

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I’ve journaled every morning for about 27 years. I think it helps get the juices flowing. But, it’s amazing, it seems as though the day isn’t complete if I don’t journal, and I almost feel “backed up” when I don’t!

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss the times I spent with my brother. We still are connected, but now that he’s older, with a family of his own, it’s more difficult. But, when his kids are grown (my awesome niece and nephew), then he’ll have more time. Life often turns full-circle.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I do remember wanting to be Smurfette for a while. All those guys around you–quite a ratio!

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Christopher Robin, with Ewan McGregor. As a huge Winnie the Pooh fan, I was thrilled when it was on Netflix (or one of the streaming services we have!).

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

  1. To Oliver Monkey: Why don’t you like the new food we got you?
  2. To Oliver Monkey: Why do you lie on your back when playing with your brother? You could never make it in the wild!
  3. To both Oliver Monkey and Bubby: Do you really know and feel how much we love you?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I think perseverance!  One must be able to pick oneself up after all the twists and turns of being an author!

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I have soooooo many because our country is so diverse. But, I’m a water baby at heart, so any type of water, and I’m there! I used to live in Virginia Beach and went to the Oceanfront daily.

If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?

The question I asked my students: Who would you like to play you in a movie if they did a biopic of your life? Most of my students said they think Tina Fey for me. What an honor—she’s such an amazing and talented woman. Not to mention, hilarious!

The other question is: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received? Because we tend to remember negative things people say about us, also known as the negativity bias, many students needed a minute to think. Truthfully, so did I. But, when I heard my students say that something I said changed, or even saved their life, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My debut novel, BURIED DEEP IN OUR HEARTS, celebrates the connection we have to our animals and honors their memory.

I am also a water baby and loved the movie, Christopher Robin! It was a great pleasure having you on MTA. Thank you, Tracie! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Buried-Deep-Hearts-Tracie-Barton-Barrett-ebook/dp/B01EARJ59A

Social Media Links:

Email: TBartonBarrett@gmail.com

Website: www.TracieBartonBarrett.com

FaceBook: www.facebook.com/TBartonBarrett

Twitter: @AnimalsConnect

Instagram: traciebartonbarrett

Note from Tracie: Please buy new copies. Used copies only benefit seller –  Paperback & Kindle: https://goo.gl/eXERyq

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Meet the Author: No More Lies by Robert Crouch

Today we travel to the south coast of England to chat with Robert Crouch. He and I talk about how being an environmental health manager, To Kill a Mockingbird, Sue Grafton, quitting smoking, Scooby Doo, visiting a Medium, and his sense of humour come together as part of his past and present life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Robert Crouch, author of the Kent Fisher mysteries. I live on the south coast of England at the edge of the beautiful South Downs National Park, where my novels are set.

In which genre do you write?

My books are contemporary murder mysteries at the cosy end of crime fiction.

How many published books do you have?

Five in total – four in the Kent Fisher mystery series and a collection of humorous blogs, entitled Fisher’s Fables, a fictionalised account of my experiences as an environmental health manager. Most of the characters in the blog went on to populate the mystery series.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I suspect I’ve always been a writer. My father taught me to read at a young age and I immersed myself in fiction as a child. I won a national short story competition at the age of 12, but it was To Kill a Mockingbird that inspired me to become an author at the age of 16. It was the first time I realised that writing could change lives and opinions.

From those enthusiastic beginnings many years ago, it’s been a long and challenging journey to published author. Though the belief may have wavered a few times, the desire never faded.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

It has to be a West Highland white terrier. They may be small, but they’re spirited, determined and not afraid to go their own way, like my dog Harvey.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I have a small office, which allows me to treat writing as a job, which means I don’t work weekends. Notebooks – currently fourteen – dominate my desk. I scribble notes all the time so I don’t forget anything. This means my desk has become a constant source of inspiration.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

It was kind of a dream come true when I contacted my favourite author, Sue Grafton, on Facebook Messenger, never expecting her to reply. But she did and we conversed for several months, discussing many aspects of writing and her Alphabet murder series, featuring Kinsey Millhone.

I should add at this point that Kinsey Millhone is the inspiration behind the Kent Fisher murder mystery series.

I asked her all the usual questions about where she got her ideas from, how did she avoid duplication after 25 books, but it’s the question she posed that provided a fascinating insight into her writing.

“Have you faced writer’s block yet?” That’s suffering in its truest sense.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That’s a challenging question for someone who looks out rather than in.

I don’t know if this makes sense, but I’ve learned how to succeed as an author by being me instead of trying to be a writer.

It took me a long, long time to get a novel published. For decades I thought there was some magic formula to being a successful author – a formula I didn’t have. I read books on writing, spoke to authors, analysed novels, searching for those elusive elements that would get me published.

Then I was forced to give up writing for about a year when I quit smoking. I couldn’t write without having a cigarette on the go, you see. Then, somewhat ironically, I did an interview for a local radio station on the public ban on smoking that was being introduced in the UK. I was the environmental health officer tasked with introducing the ban in my area.

More for fun than anything else, I wrote a blog, basing the first post on that radio interview. Rather than put it out in my name, I fictionalised the blog and let my creation, Kent Fisher, write it. Fisher’s Fables ran for about seven years before I realised I’d found my author voice.

This was me, writing a humorous blog that lots of people read and enjoyed. I then took the first Kent Fisher novel and rewrote it in this new voice. It was accepted by a small independent publisher in the US and my career as an author started.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

No contest – Scooby Doo. He’s the cutest, funniest dog ever, and makes the most amazing snacks. He solves mysteries, and he makes me laugh and feel good. That’s what I try to bring to my novels.

When we were on holiday in Florida, we visited Universal Studios, where Shaggy and Scooby were posing for photographs with children. I asked if I could have my photo taken with them, much to the embarrassment of my wife. For me, it remains one of my treasured moments.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I think it’s tempting to believe in fate, especially when things don’t go the way you want them to. It takes away responsibility, handing it to some unknown entity with the power to decide how your life will be.

None of this stopped me visiting a medium many years ago. I went to her house, rang the bell, and waited, not sure what to expect. This lovely, warm and uplifting woman answered the door, looked at me and asked me why I was worrying about a particular issue.

I hadn’t told anyone about this issue, so how did she know? Did she have a divine power, a channel to the other side? Or was she simply a mind reader? Whatever the answer, she was so accurate in what she told me, so detailed about events and issues, it was like she had access to my inner secrets and personality.

She told me I was meant to visit her, to seek her help. Who am I to argue?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

My sense of humour and the irreverent way I look at the world have never deserted me, helping me to stay positive (most of the time) and entertain readers. Murder is a serious business, so it’s good to lighten it a little.

Determination, or stubbornness as my wife calls it, has kept me going when I could have given up. When it was easier to give up, I kept going, writing and rewriting, submitting and resubmitting.

Tell us about your most recent book.

No More Lies is the fourth Kent Fisher mystery.

Kent Fisher gets more than he bargained for when Detective Inspector Ashley Goodman enlists his help with a ten year old murder. She’s on a mission and needs a big case to put her career back on track.

And they don’t come much bigger than Miles Birchill, Downland’s wealthiest and most divisive resident.

Not for the first time, Kent has doubts about the case, forcing him to make choices. But who do you trust when everyone has something to hide?

Caught in the middle, he has no alternative but to solve the murder, unaware that his every move is being watched.

The Kent Fisher novels offer a fresh and contemporary reworking of the classic whodunit and murder mysteries of authors like Agatha Christie.

I find your path to becoming a published author deeply inspiring Robert. I am moved by how you rolled with life experiences in such a way that they blossomed into your author’s voice. Thanks much for being a part of MTA! – Camilla  

Where to find the book:

Connect with Robert:

Website – https://robertcrouch.co.uk
Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01HFPCYOM
Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/robertcrouchauthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/robertcrouchuk

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Meet the Author: 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection by Gigi Langer, PhD

Today we’re traveling to Michigan to chat with Gigi Langer. She and I discuss how marriage, hitchhiking, meditation, chocolate, and Kermit the Frog fit into Gigi’s past and present life. Get comfy as this one is wide open with raw truth and authenticity.

Tell us a bit about you.

I was born west of Chicago (Oakbrook/Hinsdale), went to college at University of Colorado, got married, and taught Spanish and French near Denver. In 1973 I divorced my first husband and had a series of adventures with my second husband in Brazil, Hawaii, and Germany. After dissolving that marriage, I spent four years at Stanford completing a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education. I got through it only by getting high every night. In 1982, I settled in Michigan with my third husband and began my 25-year stint teaching in Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education.

By 1984, I was deeply unhappy and escalated my use of marijuana and alcohol. After one particularly embarrassing episode, I went to a psychologist to find out why I couldn’t be happy. That began a long road of recovery, therapy, and a variety of other healing experiences. After 25 years, I retired and began writing “Worry Less Now” where I explain practical tools I discovered to help me heal.

I’m now 33 years clean and sober and just celebrated 30 years of happy marriage with Peter, my fourth husband. PS: I don’t have any children because I couldn’t stay married long enough! Maybe this book counts!!

In which genre do you write?

Non-fiction

How many published books do you have?

I’m the co-author of five books aimed at teacher education and improvement. This is my first personal non-fiction book.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

My latest book began as a memoir chronicling my three short marriages, career as a professional horseback rider, and adventures hitchhiking across the north of Spain–all before I turned 38. My wise fourth husband suggested that, instead, I write a self-help book with “all those helpful things you say when you counsel people on the phone.” At that point, Worry Less Now was born. Throughout the six-year writing journey, the right people showed up at just the right time to make the book interesting, practical, attractive, and clear.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I meditate before I write so I can get the inspiration and clarity to flow.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It’s full of inspiring vision boards, notes and gifts from friends, family pictures, a comfy chair & desk, and some of my favorite stuffed animals.

What are you currently reading?

JoJo Moyes is so much fun– light and entertaining. I’m reading her series of three books about caring for a man she fell in love with and her adventures afterward.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

As a person in recovery, I attend 12-step meetings and support women in sobriety. I love spending time playing with my cat, Murphy, and joking around with Peter, my husband of 30 years. I also play golf very nonchalantly, and occasionally overindulge in Ghirardelli chocolate and historical novels.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

When I’m working through a tough time in my life, I write a lot in my journal to get honest with myself about my feelings and the thoughts that underlie them. In 2008, I took all my journals on a trip and typed up every section I thought might fit into a memoir or article. Much of that material appears (heavily edited) in Worry Less Now.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I love Kermit the frog; he captures the essential vulnerability of life. And he makes us laugh about it!

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” concert on Netflix. I find her songwriting so inspiring and real, but it’s her sincere, sassy and slightly gawky personality that endears her to me. I often work out to her music and find it totally energizing.

Gigi and I met online about 2 years ago. It has been a pleasure being connected online. Thank you Gigi for being a part of MTA! Much love to you! – Camilla

Where to find the book.

“50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection” by Gigi Langer, PhD (Possum Hill Press, 2018)

Order your own PERSONALIZED SIGNED COPY for $13.45 (10% off, including tax and free shipping) at https://GigiLanger.com/buy (Discount not available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or other e-book vendors.)

The AUDIOBOOK version has been released through Audible.

Reviews:

It has 5 stars on Amazon and wonderful reviews in publishing journals. Readers say it’s very practical, honest, and inspiring, and that it has helped them immensely.

Description:

Many years ago, I used alcohol, romance, and professional accomplishments to soothe my frayed nerves. When I quit drinking, I was left with only my fears and worries. Over time, I discovered effective tools from therapy, recovery pro­grams, scientific research, and a variety of philosophical and spiritual teachings. My book describes how I and others have defeated the faulty thinking leading to dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, addiction, and worry about loved ones. It contains practical strategies with directions, personal stories, and other helpful suggestions.

“Langer’s homing in on all the aspects of negative self-talk and worry add breadth to her advice and make it a powerful tool for readers.” – Library Journal

“Langer speaks from hard-won experience in her valuable, heartfelt manual on curbing excessive worrying. Langer’s frank and empathetic tone will comfort readers, as will the practical steps she teaches.” – Publishers Weekly (BookLife)

“Plenty of books advocate countering negative thinking; but too few actually provide step-by-step measures on how to do so. The pleasure of 50 Ways to Worry Less Now lies in its examples, specific exercises, and injections of how the author used various routines to find her way out of negativity. Highly recommended for anyone who worries too much, lives too hard a life, and searches for a better way.” – Midwest Book Review

“Even though I have been in recovery for more than 4 decades, and didn’t think another self-help book would make it to my treasured list, I was wrong. This book is a winner.” -Karen Casey, best-selling author of Each Day a New Beginning (Hazelden)

“Gigi Langer’s honesty will blow you away! It is beautifully written; filled with humor and authenticity. I can recommend Langer’s fresh, honest tutorial on growing into your true, healthy self.” -Al Anon member

Connect with Gigi:

FB. Gigi Langer Author

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host