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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Book Shelf: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

A parallel story to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. The story of the one he was on a pilgrimage to see. I truly enjoyed getting to know Queenie and her journey to forgiving herself and how she found solace in a garden by the sea. Caused me to wish I could visit this garden by the sea. In fact, live there myself. Deeply enjoyed this journey.

US Amazon

UK Amazon

 

Meet the Authors: Not the Life You Imagined by Anne Pettigrew

Today we welcome Anne Pettigrew as we travel to north Ayrshire overlooking the lovely Firth of Clyde, learning how Glasgow University, a career as a GP, The Herald, a meerkat, Judi Dench, Snow White, Ailsa Craig, and the Exuma Cays in the Caribbean come together to form Anne’s past, her present and her writer’s life. Come in closer, we’re sharing all the secrets in this one …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Glasgow-born, haunted local libraries as a child, graduated in medicine from Glasgow University in 1974 and enjoyed a career as a GP in Greenock for 31 years. I also dabbled in homeopathy, acupuncture, BMA media stuff, wrote columns in The Herald and medical press (mostly funny) and tried to improve patient care by serving on many (tediously un-funny) committees up to EEC level.

In 2001 at a crusty old 52, I shot off to Oxford for a sabbatical MSc in Medical Anthropology looking for new ideas for health promotion. To my surprise, I found the best thing you can do to improve a society’s health is to educate its girls past 12, hence my sponsorship of girls in India and the channelling of funds from my novel into PlanUK who aim to help the 130 million denied schooling.

My other passions are travelling (although mosquitoes find me so attractive my husband doesn’t need insect repellent), painting wonky landscapes, gardening and my writers groups: one local, of inspiring, if bonkers, people, and one in the city, of candid editors.

The novel would never have seen light of day without them and the Creative Writing tutors at Glasgow Uni, where the undergrads egged me on to write of a life before mobiles, the internet and the pill (unavailable for the unmarried on the NHS in the 60s). How did we manage? Not sure I’m managing now with all this web/social media stuff – see my blog post at http://annepettigrew.co.uk/social-media-can-do-your-head-in/

I live in north Ayrshire overlooking the lovely Firth of Clyde and am the proud owner of a new titanium knee (never jump off a boat in Kerala).

How many published books do you have?

My debut novel Not The Life Imagined has been published by Glasgow non-profit Ringwood Publishing as ebook (December 2018) and paperback (January 2019).

I also had some award-winning short stories published in a 50th anniversary Anthology by Greenock Writers Club in 2018. My second novel Not The Deaths Imagined is in editing.

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

My first novel was written age eight: an illustrated medieval whodunnit called Bridget’s Key. Sadly I knew little about the Middle Ages and couldn’t draw for toffee!

But by ten, I’d decided on being a doctor and didn’t start Not The Life Imagined until retirement. This book was ignited by the discovery that there were no books about UK women doctors, only pioneers, pathologists and the odd Mills & Boon. I felt the struggles of female medics in the 60s was worth recording, though decided it had to be fiction, not memoir, since I was reluctant to write about living people without seeking their permission; doctors of course, are taught to keep secrets.

The first book concerns an arrogant womanising surgeon; the second has a Shipman villain, also unmasked by the main protagonist Beth. I discovered writing about complete monsters can actually be quite fun.

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

I am prone to ‘tics’ as my tutor called them, first drafts are awash with excess ‘just’ ‘seem’ ‘merely’ ‘very’ ‘somehow’ ‘maybe ‘and ‘quite’ which need ruthlessly eliminated.

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

An albatross; they can fly for hundreds of miles effortlessly out to sea, mate for life and are the longest-lived bird by far. Or maybe a meerkat… they are very cheeky and bossy.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

See attached photo – Big desk with wireless keyboard and mouse, hate the narrow laptop one. Behind laptop I have a propped-up pinboard with teaching prompts eg ‘Hook -Move- Intrigue- Paint a picture- Pace- Perspective – Voice’ to remind me what I am meant to be doing as I write- not ambling endlessly through Twitter or checking my emails.

What are you currently reading?

Just started Middlemarch by George Eliot after being told it’s one of best novels ever written.

Love eg Joanne Cannon, Joanne Harris, Martin Walker, Peter James, Andrea Camilleri, Anthony Horowitz, Chris Brookmyre, Daphne Du Maurier, Philippa Gregory, Taylor Caldwell, John Le Carre, Douglas Kennedy etc

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

Cook, walk or snooze in front of Scandi-noir TV… do lunch.

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?

Judi Dench- ‘What would you like to drink?’

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

I can be wide awake at 2 am if on a roll with an idea.

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

For my second book I Google-searched ‘Where are the saunas in Edinburgh?’ for my seedy villain, and the next night around eleven I was playing solitaire on my iPad, when up popped an Ad showing a well-rounded young lady in suspenders offering a hotline for her services in my locality. Big Brother Google indeed watches us!

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

Never- the girls in my book, however, keep them.

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

The only one I remember is Snow White- of which I was terrified! Not going there ever again, I mean, those red pointy talons on the Wicked Stepmother? I was taken out of the cinema screaming by my Dad when I was 4.

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

Rosie maybe- she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She is also very smart and doesn’t need to study as hard as I did!

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

Wild Rose – about a Glasgow girl who follows her dream to become a country and western singer. I liked the parallel to Beth in my book following her dream to be a doctor; Rose’s life turned out not to be the life she imagined either. I enjoyed it, but felt it but it had scope for more humour.

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

I don’t give him a chance but shut the door immediately: all that ‘inspirational’ Sauvignon is obviously giving me DT hallucinations. I will go and have a wee lie down and some vitamins .…

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

The cliff walk at Culzean Castle down the Ayrshire coast from here; wild sea, distant misty island on the horizon (Paddy’s milestone aka Ailsa Craig- halfway between Ayrshire and Ireland): tall grasses whisper in the breeze beside my bench beside the path, purple and red wild flowers dance, seabirds cry as they whirl overhead and dive off the cliff. There may be a seal or two on the beach. No traffic. Of a morning, usually no people either.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

A seaplane trip down the Exuma Cays in the Caribbean, obviously best if it’s not hurricane season. Lunch time? Calm azure blue sea and cloudless sky- solo picnic on a deserted island- iced fresh lemonade and today-caught prawns barbecued with crusty bread. Sitting under a palm tree with pink crabs scurrying past. Mind you, I couldn’t be completely solo- there would have to be a pilot since I can’t fly a plane! Tom Hiddlestone would do.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Not The Life Imagined is a darkly humorous, thought-provoking story of Scottish medical students in the sixties, a time of changing social and sexual mores. None of the teenagers starting at Glasgow University in 1967 live the life they imagine.

Beth Slater is shocked at how few female medical students there are and that some, like Conor Towmey, think they shouldn’t be there at all. Devastated by a close friend’s suicide, Beth uncovers a revealing diary and vows to find the person responsible for her death.

Struggling with the pressure of exams while supporting friends though disasters, Beth charts the students changing, often stormy, relationships over two decades against a contemporary backdrop of Free Love, the Ibrox Football Disaster, the emergence of HIV and DNA forensics. In time, indiscretions surface with dire consequences for some. A Ten-Year reunion is a watershed: devastating crimes past and present are exposed.

Relevant to present-day narratives concerning mental health and #MeToo, this award-winning novel (runner-up in the Constable Award 2018) has wide appeal and already has attracted 5 star reviews (see below).

Thank you Anne for joining us on MTA! I had a great time getting to know you and learning more about your debut book and upcoming book! –Camilla

Where to find the book:

Available from Amazon, Ringwood, and Waterstones.

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

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LDrF95

Connect with Anne:

Email: annepettigrew@gmail.com

Website and blog: http://www.annepettigrew.co.uk

Facebook @annepettigrewauthor

Instagram anne.pettigrew.author

Twitter @pettigrew_anne

Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

***** Superb ***** difficult to put down

***** Cracking read ***** such a great book

***** A Must read … ***** a whirlwind of wit and emotional ups/downs

***** Entertaining tale ***** a really good read

***** Up market rite of passage *****a good picture of sexual discrimination

***** The light and dark lives of medics  ***** A great read, super pace

***** Medics with a twist ***** A compelling read ….

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain

Today we welcome Heidi Swain as we travel to Norfolk county to discover how a Sunday Times Bestseller, having a structured day, gardening, and Wind in the Willows integrate into Heidi’s to-do list. Grab your needles, let’s get clicking …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Heidi Swain and I live in the pretty county of Norfolk just a few miles south of the fine city of Norwich.

In which genre do you write?

I write commercial fiction for Simon and Schuster. The more commonly known description – women’s commercial fiction – isn’t always accurate as I know some pretty burly truck drivers who are more than happy to settle down with my books after a long day of driving!

How many published books do you have?

I’ve had eight books published in the last four years and my Christmas book for this year, The Christmas Wish List, will be out in October. My fifth book, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells became a Sunday Times Bestseller – the pinnacle of my writing career so far!

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

I would love to be Jemma. She runs The Cherry Tree Café in Wynbridge in partnership with her best friend Lizzie Dixon. Lizzie is the crafting expert and Jemma is the baking queen. Jemma features in practically all of my books and yet I have never written her story. She’s a character I admire greatly – ambitious, competent, approachable, supportive and a great mum, wife and business woman. I love her vision, drive and enthusiasm for life. She’s a real go-getter! If there’s a problem Jemma can always fix it and she’s so creative. If I could be Jemma for a day, I’d spend my day in the Café, enjoying the company of the customers and batch baking sweet treats.

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

How disciplined I am. Writing two books a year – one for the summer market and the other for Christmas – I have to be very organised and stick to a schedule otherwise I’d never hit my deadlines. I have a weekly planner which even lists the hours I’ll be writing and when I’ll take a break. I know it wouldn’t work for everyone, but I thrive on having a structured day. I’m never happier than when I can go to bed with everything ticked off the daily to-do list!

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

Reading would be the most obvious answer, but I’m also a very keen gardener – I gardened professionally for a while when I was younger – and I love getting out and walking in the local woods. I always start my day with a wander around the garden to see what’s grown, which flowers have bloomed and if anything needs my attention. I love that moment in spring when the urge to get my hands in the earth takes over and I rush off to the garden centre for seeds to sow. It’s all very Wind in The Willows! I’ve also learned how to knit this year and although I’m not very good, if it’s raining you’ll probably find me with the needles out, clicking away.

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

The last movie I watched was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I’ve seen it probably a hundred times, but it was on TV early yesterday evening and as soon as I heard the opening few notes I knew I wasn’t going to budge from my armchair. I’m a huge HP fan and it doesn’t take much to get me talking about all things Hogwarts! I went to boarding school but the feasts were nowhere near as good!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A small room of my own would be wonderful! A desk, bookcase, comfy armchair and a view of the garden would be enough to keep me happy. Up until my daughter went to Uni last year I was perched on the edge of the dining table and had to pack away at the end of every day. Since she’s been gone I’ve taken over the desk in her room and it has been bliss. Not my ideal writing space, but a place I can leave set up at the end of the day. By the time you read this it will be the summer hols and I’ll be back at the dining table and cursing the lack of space and privacy!

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

I have a little black rescue cat called Storm. She was born in an air conditioning shaft in Norwich as was the runt of the litter no one wanted. Lucky for me because she’s absolutely gorgeous! If I could ask her three questions they would be…

Where do you go at night?
What’s the appeal of the bottom shelf in the airing cupboard?
If you could ask me three questions what would they be?

She’s always popping up on my Instagram account so keep your eyes peeled for her posing.

Thanks Heidi for being a part of MTA. It was wonderful to learn more about you and your writing life. I have seen Storm pop up on instagram just recently when she didn’t return home! So happy that she finally made her way back to you! All the best to you for continued success! –Camilla

Heidi Swain:

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

A lover of vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.

Her debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café was published in July 2015 and since then she has had a further six books published, becoming a Sunday Times Bestseller in 2017. She is currently celebrating the release of her 2019 summer title, Poppy’s Recipe for Life while working on her next project.

Heidi is represented by Amanda Preston and lives in Norfolk with her wonderful family and a mischievous cat called Storm.

Poppy’s Recipe for Life

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

Where to Buy:

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Hg66IY

UK Amazonhttps://amzn.to/33U56UO

Heidi’s Books on UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MraxFd

Connect with Heidi:

Website: http://www.heidiswain.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Heidi_Swain
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterHeidiJoSwain?ref=hl

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: With Face Aflame by A. E. Walnofer

Today we welcome A. E. Walnofer as we travel to Southern California to discover how white-barked aspen trees, plantar calcaneal regions, Jane Austen, and The Black Swan replenish and massage Walnofer’s days. Grab your tea and get comfortable.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Southern California, but wish I was established in the Pacific Northwest where the mountains are green and the rivers actually have water in them.

In which genre do you write?

Historical fiction

How many published books do you have?

Two, but I got an idea recently that just might turn into a third! I’ve actually got 47,000 words of another story written but I’m rethinking it before I surge forward with it.

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

Before I could read or write, I was composing stories. My mom recorded me on a cassette tape telling a tale when I was three. It’s pretty cute!

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

Hmm…well, when I’m writing, I spend A LOT of that time at the computer telling myself to focus instead of going into the kitchen to get something to eat. Pretty inspiring, huh? 🙂

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

Never considered this before. Can I choose a tree? They’re not sentient, but they’re beautiful and replenish our oxygen supply. Yeah, I’m going to say my mascot is a white-barked aspen tree with green leaves that flutter in the breeze.

What are you currently reading?

I recently finished “London” by Edward Rutherfurd. Wow, what a massive and amazing book! I got the ebook version so my wrists wouldn’t break after a half hour of reading. I highly recommend it for any Anglophilean history buffs.

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

I work as a physical therapist assistant all week long, which doesn’t leave much time to write because there are always more upper traps and plantar calcaneal regions to be massaged.

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?

Perhaps this answer isn’t very original, but I’d love to talk with Jane Austen. She was such a clever and talented woman.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve experienced to help create a scene or plot?

Oooh, I like this question. I wish I had some hilarious or crazy story to answer it with. I’ll simply say that last fall, my husband and I went to the UK to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The whole time I was there — walking on the ancient walls of York City, gazing on the site within the Tower of London where Lady Jane lost her head, sipping tea at a 500 year old pub called The Black Swan, sampling 20 different cheeses in the Yorkshire Dales — I was trying to imagine what it was like to be there way back when. To be in a place where you can feel the wind in your face, smell the scent of the trees, run your fingertips over the moss covered rock walls, instead of just imagining it, is a magical experience and helps you formulate details for your stories to make them come to life.

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

I think I’d have to be Madge from “With Face Aflame” so I could sing beautifully to a crowd of people, and so that I could understand her heartache a bit better.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? 

I don’t necessarily think things happen for a reason, but I see how we can learn and grow because all sorts of things happen.

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

I’m fairly in tune with what’s going on with the people who are around me — whether it’s at work, at the movie theater or in my own kitchen — how they’re all interacting with each other verbally and non-verbally, how they’re feeling about themselves and each other. That has served me well because it helps me write scenes where a lot of emotion or meaning is conveyed through a simple look or a two word sentence between characters.

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

Oh my goodness. There are so many places I want to go or want to return to. I HAVE to go back to Yellowstone before I die. Everyone should see that place. There are lots of places in Washington State and Oregon that I want to visit. Then there are national parks in Canada that are calling my name. Pretty much any lush place with temperate weather and gorgeous trees is on my list.

Tell us about your most recent book.

“With Face Aflame” was published in April, 2018. Set in England in the 1680’s, it’s a historical, body-positive, coming of age tale about a young woman with a large birthmark on her face.

If you’re in to poetry, visit my site at aewalnofer.com and get your fill of it there. Thanks for reading about me and my work!

Thank you Aimee for joining us on MTA. It was incredibly interesting to learn more about you. I’m a tree lover and adore the sound of the aspen leaves blowing in the wind! I love that your mom recorded you telling a story. I did that too when my kids were younger. I’m so happy I did this as these are beautiful memories to have. All the best to you! –Camilla

Here’s the blurb:

Born with a red mark emblazoned across her face, seventeen-year-old Madge is lonely as she spends her days serving guests and cleaning rooms in the inn her father keeps.

One day, she meets an unusual minstrel in the marketplace. Moved by the beauty of his song and the odd shape of his body, she realizes she has made her first friend. But he must go on to the next town, leaving her behind. Soon after, while she herself is singing in the woods, she is startled by a chance meeting with a stranger there. Though the encounter leaves her horribly embarrassed, it proves she need not remain unnoticed and alone forever.

However, this new hope is shattered when she overhears a few quiet words that weren’t intended for her ears. Heartbroken and confused, she flees her home to join the minstrel and his companion, a crass juggler. As they travel earning their daily bread, Madge secretly seeks to rid herself of the mark upon her cheek, convinced that nothing else can heal her heart.

Set in England in 1681, With Face Aflame is the tale of a girl who risks everything in hopes of becoming the person she desperately wants to be.

Where to buy the book:

US Amavon: https://amzn.to/2KIZLYT

UK Amavon: https://amzn.to/2KU4W7c

It’s only $2.99 on Amazon and if you belong to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, you can read it for free! My first novel, A Girl Called Foote, is also available on Amazon for $2.99, so feel free to check it out, too!

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Death in Avignon by Serena Kent

Today we welcome Serena Kent as we travel to the Provencal area of the Luberon and a Kentish village near London as we discover how robust English tea, an aardvark, a puffin, the Luberon mountains, trees, David Bowie, and Mary Shelley come together to create the husband and wife writing team of Serena Kent. Grab the lantern and the magnifying glass. Let’s go ….

Serena Kent is the pen name of husband and wife partnership Robert Rees and Deborah Lawrenson. Deborah is a best selling novelist and has had eight novels published previously, including the bestseller The Lantern which was featured in the UK TV series The TV Book Club. Robert Rees, after retiring from the City of London has had one book published, A Season in the Sun.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Robert: I am from the UK and worked for most of my career in the City of London. After finishing with this about 10 years ago, I have been able to concentrate more on the type of work I enjoy, writing music, songs and plays. A few years ago I began to think about writing novels, and after the first was published some three years ago, I and my wife have joined forces to produce a series of cozy mysteries based around the Provencal area of the Luberon, where we have a house. In the UK we live in a Kentish village near London.

Deborah: I’m also British but grew up in various countries around the world as my parents were in the diplomatic service. I worked for some years as a journalist in London while I gathered the courage to write a first novel.

In which genre do you write?

Light humoured murder mysteries.

How many published books do you have?

Robert : Death in Avignon will be my third

Deborah: Death in Avignon will be my tenth

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

Robert: I thoroughly enjoyed writing the local pantomime (words and music) for our village, and it seemed a logical step to move to books, after I had an idea for a novel which became eventually ‘A Season in the Sun’. I have always enjoyed writing, though in the City it was more legal than imaginative.

Deborah: I always wanted to write. I was the kind of child who bought notebooks and set out to fill them with deeply derivative adventure stories that ran out of steam by the third chapter.

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

Deborah: I have to earn the cups of robust English tea that fuel my writing by achieving word counts. Tea is the stuff. I have never been able to understand how Fitzgerald and Hemingway can have been so brilliant while drinking strong liquor – I can’t write a decent sentence after just one glass of wine!

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

Robert: An aardvark – I feel sorry for them as they get a pretty bad press and are not chosen nearly enough.

Deborah: A puffin. Puffins are stocky, loyal and vocal at their colonies but silent at sea while they concentrate on their work.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Robert: I particularly like writing at our house in France, on the kitchen table (close to food and wine). It has a low ceiling of provencal beams, a truly magnificent cooking range, and a view out to our garden with the Luberon mountains in the background.

Deborah: I prefer writing in my study in Kent, where the red walls are gradually getting covered in floor-to-ceiling bookcases and my desk faces out onto trees. I love writing through autumn and winter especially on grey, rainy days when the pictures in my head seem to get more vivid.

What are you currently reading?

Robert: The latest Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child , the Life of PG Wodehouse by Frances Donaldson (brilliant) and ‘Guns Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond .

Deborah: Pulse, a collection of masterly short stories by Julian Barnes, the biography of Agatha Christie by Janet Morgan and Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia because I now know that it is based on her own experiences of archaeological digs in Iraq in the 1930s.

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

Robert: Play the piano and take part in music shows and plays locally.

Deborah: Walk, exercise, have lunches with friends, read, paint, travel.

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?

Robert: David Bowie – and I would ask him how he remembers the words to all his songs (I never can). More seriously I guess, Albert Einstein. I studied science at Cambridge and still find it fascinating.

Deborah: Mary Shelley. If possible, when she was only 20, so I could see for myself what kind of young woman could have written the brilliant and prophetic Frankenstein. I’d also like to warn her that Romantic poets were all very well on paper, but in real life Percy Bysshe Shelley would make a terrible husband.

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

Robert: I can occasionally make people laugh out loud.

Deborah: I am extremely and stubbornly determined to achieve what I set out to do.

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

Robert:. No, but it is extraordinary how certain events in one’s life are definitely locked away for future use in stories. This is not always conscious, but I do find myself now looking at objects and considering how they could work as murder weapons…

Deborah: I have kept a diary since 1974. It reminds me of all kinds of details and sequences of events, though it’s of no help at all with writing.

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

Robert: I once had to audition Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie for singing in the Cambridge Footlights Pantomime. Not that I would have dared criticise any of them! Even by then they were outstandingly good and extremely funny.

Deborah: When I was a journalist on the Daily Mail, I once had to ambush the actor Michael Caine on a street near Piccadilly. He was not only very charming and forgiving, but unexpectedly tall for an actor. Proving yet again that one should never judge people before actually meeting them.

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

Robert: A glass of rosé (if it is after six o’clock). I tend to listen to music most of the time, so I wouldn’t have any favourite song in particular.

Deborah: I’d join Rob in a glass of rosé and hum something jazz-bluesy.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Robert: Anticipation and the passing of time so slowly. And those wonderful summer parties where we drank lemonade and played games on the lawn until it was quite dark and getting chilly.

Deborah: The sense that anything was possible.

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

Robert: Not quite a cartoon world, but I always longed to be able to visit Narnia. Talking animals, magic, and that feeling that the side of right would always win.

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

Robert: They say your characters have a bit of you in them, so I could say any of them, but I do like my main character in my first novel. Henry is a slightly diffident bon viveur who discovers hidden strengths when tested.

Deborah: Hate to say it, but it’s the other way around: there’s a lot of me in Penelope Kite!

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

Robert::I saw Bohemian Rhapsody with Deborah in a rather nice cinema in Apt, a small town near our French house. It was subtitled and so the dialogue was still in English. The actors playing the parts of the Queen group were outstanding – Brian May in particular. It is a great story with a suitably tragic ending and the songs have stood the test of time.

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

Robert: ‘Can you hide me? The polar bears are on my tail and the Mexican disguise just hasn’t worked!’

Do you believe things happen for a reason? 

Robert: I do have a certain fatalist element in my make up, and sometimes I feel that there is a karma about us. But most of the world is a mixture of randomness and luck. I remain cautiously optimistic.

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

Robert: A measure of stubbornness, and an optimistic outlook.

Deborah: Stubbornness has also worked for me, but allied with a romantic nature and belief that eventually most things work out for the best.

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

Robert: In England it would either be Grasmere in the Lake District, the most idyllic lakeland scene, or standing on one of the London Bridges on a clear night.

Deborah: I’ve always loved the sea and am particularly drawn to the Kent and Sussex coasts, and to Northumberland out of season. Bambrugh with its brooding castle over the beach is spectacular.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

Robert: Beauvallon Bay, the Seychelles, in the dry season, snorkelling mask at the ready to dive down amongst the coral and the fish. With a plentiful supply of Mojitos and a radio broadcasting England thrashing the Australians at cricket.

Deborah: Sanary-sur-Mer in the south of France, in September. A wander around the market, followed by lunch overlooking the port. It’s warm but not stifling, and the perfect time to go along the coast to swim at Bandol. After that, a glass of local rosé at sunset.

Tell us about the book.

It is a sequel to ‘Death in Provence’ and follows our heroine Penelope Kite as she gets caught in yet another web of deceit in Provence. This time the Southern French art world conspires to drag her into the shady underworld of fraud, poison and murder.

Thank you Serena Kent (Deborah and Robert) for being a part of MTA. It was incredibly interesting and inspiring to learn more about each of you. – Camilla

DEATH IN AVIGNON – BOOK BLURB

When Penelope Kite attends a gallery opening on the arm of the gorgeous mayor of St Merlot, her dream life in Provence seems finally to have become a reality.

But beneath the glamour, scandal is brewing. Shockwaves ripple through the art world when a controversial painter, Roland Doncaster, chokes on an almond-stuffed olive.

A tragic accident? Or a ruthless poisoning? Embroiled once more in a murder investigation, Penelope discovers that any number of jealous lovers and scheming rivals could be in the frame. And with dashing art dealers to charm, patisseries to resist, and her own friends under suspicion, Penelope will need all her sleuthing talents to uncover the truth…

Where to find the book.

Death in Avignon (published by Orion in the UK) came out on June 27th and is available in most bookshops and on amazon.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2K8cPqw

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Mzm2K5 

Harper Collins US link to Death in Provence: bit.ly/2X0racY

Instragram link @serena.kent
Facebook @serenakentauthor
Twitter @SerenaKentBooks
Website http://www.serena-kent.com/

Here are some reviews of Death in Provence – our first novel together.

“As scenic murders go, it’s hard to beat the dead man floating in the swimming pool of Le Chant d’Eau, a stone farmhouse hilltop-high in Death in Provence…. Who could resist a vacation in Provence?” (New York Times Book Review)

“Riffing on Peter Mayle and his year in Provence—as well as Alexander McCall Smith and his Ladies’ Detective Agency—this is the first in a breezy mystery series set among the vineyards and olive groves of the Luberon.” (National Geographic)

“Peter Mayle fans will enjoy this first novel and series opener.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Penelope sparkles, turning what could have been a lightweight Shirley Temple into champagne. Although Kent makes no promises, updates on her heroine’s further adventures would be most welcome. “ (Kirkus)

“Charming…. While the quirky characters are enjoyable, it’s the details of the details of Provençal life that will attract armchair travelers, fans of Peter Mayle.” (Library Journal)

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee