Meet the Author: The Phantom’s Curse by Shelley Wilson

Today we travel to Solihull in the West Midlands, UK, to chat with Shelley Wilson about what a crazy black cat, Tudor history, being a content writer, Anne Boleyn, self-help books, werewolves, living in a converted cowshed, a holistic health spa, a spider bite, pizza, Scooby Doo, Warwick Castle, meditation, and Vikings have to do with Shelley’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello, I’m Shelley. I’m an English author of motivational self-help and young adult fantasy fiction. I’m a single mum of three, have a crazy black cat called Luna, and live in a beautiful town called Solihull in the West Midlands, UK. I’m obsessed with travelling, Tudor and Viking history, being by the ocean, VW campervans, vampires, and pizza! I’m also tall (5ft 10″) which surprises people when they meet me in person. They always say “you’re much taller than your profile picture!” HAHA.

In which genre do you write?

I’m a multi-genre author, so I get to wear a few different writer hats although they are as far removed as you can get! I write non-fiction self-help titles for women and children, my latest release being Meditation for Children. I also write YA fantasy/supernatural fiction, my new release The Phantom’s Curse came out in June. If you think meditation and werewolves, then I’ve got you covered!

How many published books do you have?

I’m currently writing my sixteenth novel which amazes even me! Thirteen books published so far, and another two written and with my publisher awaiting release dates. I self-published eight titles before signing with BHC Press in 2017.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

As well as being an author, I’m also a content writer for women in business. I love working on their brand storytelling and having the freedom to work from anywhere. My ultimate dream would be to start a travel blog, so my ideal writing space would be the back of a VW Camper Van parked up by the sea with a mug of tea and my laptop.

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?

I would love to have a coffee date with Anne Boleyn. I love Tudor history, and if I had a time machine the first place I’d visit would be Henry VIII’s court (hopefully I’d keep my head!). I’d ask her if she truly loved Henry and if she ever thought he would do what he did. If Anne wasn’t free for tea, I’d invite some of my favourite authors to brainstorm ideas and talk about books. Karen Millwood Hargrave, Tomi Adeyemi, and Adrienne Young would be on that list.

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

I write the kind of books I love to read. My non-fiction self-help titles cover topics that are important for my personal and professional development. My YA novels are fast-paced and full of action, werewolves, and essential issues that need to be addressed. The most enjoyable thing is finding a reader who resonates with what I’ve written. I had so many incredible messages from women across the globe after my first book was published (How I Changed My Life in a Year). It was heart-warming to hear how my words helped them. To also chat with my younger readers at book fairs and events and listen to them talk about my characters with such passion is priceless.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I lived in a converted cowshed in the Catskill Mountains, New York State for three months when I was in my early twenties.

I was an agony aunt in a popular women’s magazine for six months after answering the call for reader contribution. I loved it, and learned so much about working with editors, deadlines and writing fast!

I’m a fully qualified reflexologist, massage therapist, EFT practitioner, and Reiki Master Teacher and ran a holistic health spa for women for seven years. In 2015 I had to close it after developing an autoimmune disorder following a spider bite. My writing hobby became my full-time job, and I built my content writing career from scratch.

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

I’ve realised there are far too many to choose from. I adored the Flintstones, Looney Tunes, and Tom and Jerry, but I think I would rather be trapped in the world of Scooby Doo! In that world, I’d have friends around me, get to drive a camper van all day, solve mysteries, and still enjoy the supernatural (even if the werewolf, in this case, is Mr Stephens from the Library wearing a costume!).

I watched all of these as a child, Shelley. And I would also choose Scooby Doo. I’m not a fan of the modern version. Old school for me! 

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

One of my novels due for release in the future is The Last Princess, set in 866 AD and includes Vikings. I love anything to do with the Vikings and had so much fun researching this book. I would enjoy being Edith for a day. She’s a Northumbrian princess who rebels against the male-dominated regime. Her sword skills are as excellent as any soldier, and she’s feisty, hot-headed, and loyal. Not that charging into battle is high on my to-do list, but doing a ‘safe’ re-enactment would be fun.

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

I’m fortunate to live in the UK, which is rich in history and culture. There are so many incredible places to visit. Choosing a favourite is tough, so I’m going to cheat slightly (*cue big grin in the hope that Camilla lets this slide*). I live in the West Midlands, on the border of Warwickshire, which means I’m within a 20-minute drive of Kenilworth Castle, Warwick Castle, and Stratford-Upon-Avon. When I’m not visiting local attractions, you’ll find me at the seaside. Polperro, Whitby, or Bamburgh would be my absolute favourites.

It’s definitely okay. I nearly always cheat on these types of questions. I visited Warwick Castle in the year 2000 when on a two week vacation in England and Scotland. I didn’t make it to the seaside, so will have to add that to my bucket list!

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on another YA series at the moment using my favourite supernatural creatures as my characters – vampires. My publishing contract is for both fiction and non-fiction, so once book one of this series is complete, I’ll be working on my next non-fiction title. Following the incredible feedback I received from my Meditation for Children book, I’ll probably write a similar book aimed at young adults/teens.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Shelley. I enjoyed getting to learn a bit more about you. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

An old evil threatens to rise from the depths of the warded city…

Sixteen-year-old Marianne lives a simple life as a healer in the Link, looking after her younger brother since their parents’ exile. Little does she know how everything will change after attending the blessing in the city of Obanac. After her brother is wrongfully imprisoned, Marianne seeks his release from Crawford Reign, the Lord of Obanac. But she’s faced with an impossible choice—the lord wants her in exchange. To save her brother she turns to the daring outlaw Robbie and his friends for help. Along with the help of Theo, the holy man’s son, a daring rescue soon uncovers rumors of an old sorcerer who may still live and whispers of the phantom’s curse—an evil that requires a host and seeks to destroy the world—threatening to resurface.

With the threat of an old evil rising in Obanac and the attacks of the Black Riders throughout the realm, nowhere seems safe. To save the people of the land and everyone she cares about, Marianne must unlock the secret to who she really is and embrace the mage magic that stirs within her.

Connect with Shelley:

Author blog, publisher blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., and my business information in one handy place: https://linktr.ee/ShelleyWilson72

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Meet the Author: The Cottage in a Cornish Cove by Cass Grafton

Today we travel to Switzerland to chat with Cass Grafton about how Cornwall, Richard Armitage, living in the USA for five years, Jane Austen, being a storyteller, Bagpuss, toilet brushes, Mr Darcy, the movie Fishermen’s Friends, and the alpine town of Zermatt come together as part of her past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was raised in England, in the Welsh border county of Shropshire, spent some time at college in London and then lived in the West Country and later the northwest, with my husband and children, before moving to the USA in 2001.

We spent five very happy years in Connecticut before returning to the north east of England for a while. Six years ago, we moved to Switzerland in the heart of Europe, where we live in a small rural town just north of Zürich.

It’s a beautiful and inspiring country, and living here has given me the chance to make writing my career. I work from home, and I love it!

In which genre do you write?

I’m in love with romance and always have been, so that’s my go-to genre to read or write, but I’m skipping around in the sub-categories, exploring and writing whatever speaks to my heart at any given moment. So far, I’m published in three sub-categories: contemporary romance, historical romance and—as a way to combine both—time travel romance.

How many published books do you have?

I have five out in my sole name, and three co-writes, two with my writing partner, Ada Bright, and one as part of a five-author team.

My most recent release is a heart-warming contemporary romance set in Cornwall.

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

I’ve always had a longing to live in Cornwall, but knew it would probably never happen, so I decided to do the next best thing I could: live there through my characters.

One of the other particular inspirations for The Cottage in a Cornish Cove, the first in this new series, was the male lead, a character I fell for from the beginning (and not at all influenced by the mental image I had in my mind of him looking like the gorgeous actor, Richard Armitage). No (shakes head), not at all…

The setting, a quaint fishing village on the south-east Cornwall coast, was inspired by all the many family holidays we had in Polperro with our children and the romantic couples breaks my husband and I also took there (my husband proposed to me in a restaurant in Polperro) and, more recently, in nearby Fowey.

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?

Can I cheat and pick two? Does everyone cheat on this one?

I’d love to sit down with Jane Austen and JK Rowling at the same time. I believe JK Rowling is an Austen fan (in fact, in the first of our time travel romances, Jane Austen reads the first Harry Potter book) and I’d be happy just listening to them talk. Just imagine the things they might ask each other!

I definitely cheat whenever I answer this type of question! Ha!

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

Rather oddly, that I am, in fact, a storyteller. This may seem odd coming from a writer, but to be honest, when I first started writing fiction (short stories initially, then novels) I had no idea if what I was writing was any good.

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

Without question, some amazing and wonderful writer friends. I can’t imagine my life without them, and had I not tried my hand at writing novels, I’d never have met most of them.

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

I’d be listening to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’! Seriously, this is the sort of thing that terrifies me!

I love, love, love this song, Cass! Just had to include the video. Plus, there’s roller skating in the video. Roller skating!

What do you miss about being a kid?

As I’m housework averse, I miss the days when the iron was something you were told to stay away from. Ditto the toilet brush. I miss those days. I also never had a hangover…

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1. If it hadn’t been for a Connecticut seagull, I would never have met my Californian co-writing partner, Ada Bright (full details upon application)!

2. In 2010, I raised a petition and sent it to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, asking if they could please reinstate the plaster bust of Mr Darcy (a movie prop recently moth balled as it was five years since Pride & Prejudice (2005) came out, where the estate stood in for Mr Darcy’s home of Pemberley).

I doubt the duke and duchess ever saw my letter themselves, but the team at Chatsworth were lovely and said they were happy to do it. Mr Darcy is still there today, in the Orangery Gift Shop, although there’s a sign on him saying ‘Do Not Kiss’. Apparently, the staff became fed up with having to wipe lipstick off it!

3. I’m an Ambassador, as well as a volunteer Programme Manager, for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, a registered not for profit organisation created by Caroline Jane Knight, Jane Austen’s (five times) great niece, to harness the global passion for Jane Austen in supporting literacy in communities in need across the world.

What a fascinating story of how you got them to reinstate the bust of Mr Darcy. And, lipstick on the bust!! Hahahaha!

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

Bagpuss, a British children’s television series, broadcast in the 1970s. The title character was “a saggy, old cloth cat, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams”. It was stop motion animation rather than cartoon, but I loved the world that woke up when he did (the scenery turning from sepia to colour), and I’m a sucker for any sort of cat, even pink and cream striped ones who hang out with musical mice and a wooden woodpecker bookend called Professor Yaffle.

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

Living in Switzerland often scuppers our plans for watching new films on the big screen (our local town only shows one film in English per month, and it’s rarely the one we want to see), so we catch up on DVD as and when we get a chance.

The last one was a British comedy called Fishermen’s Friends. It’s set in the Cornish fishing village of Port Isaac (which Doc Martin fans will know as Portwenn) and is inspired by a true story about a fishermen’s choir. It’s heart-warming and very funny and the location just made it a perfect watch one rainy Sunday afternoon.

This looks like my kind of movie, Cass! Adding it to my list to watch. Thank you.

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

Hmmm, tricky, because there are so many gorgeous places here where we’ve had such fun times. It’s a toss up between Weggis on Lake Luzern and the alpine town of Zermatt.

Weggis is at the foot of Mount Rigi—known as the Queen of the Mountains, and one of our favourite places for a day trip—and is a beautiful lakeside resort with lovely views of the neighbouring mountains from across the azure waters. It also has strong associations with Mark Twain, who spent some time there and fell in love with it.

Zermatt is a car-free alpine town near the Italian border, and home to the Matterhorn. It’s full of character, the scenery is stunning and the local food excellent. There are so many mountain trails to hike, whatever the season, and it just feels like you are a million miles away from the world, tucked away up there in mountains.

These both sound like wonderful locations. Mark Twain spent a great deal of time in Virginia City, Nevada, too (about a 15 minute drive from here). He sure got around. I’m adding these to my bucket list. 

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove is an uplifting contemporary romance filled with love, warmth and humour. It’s about discovering what you thought you always wanted isn’t necessarily what you need, and follows Anna in her search for happiness.

It came out in February and the reviews have been truly lovely.

It was wonderful having you as a guest and learning more about you, Cass. Best wishes for continued success! -Camilla

Blurb:

Orphaned as a baby and raised by uncaring relatives, much of Anna Redding’s happiness as a child came from the long summer holidays spent with an elderly family friend, Aunt Meg, in the coastal village of Polkerran.

With Aunt Meg’s passing, Anna is drawn back to the West Country, relocating to the Cornish cove where she was once so happy. Filled with memories, she hopes to perhaps open a B&B—and perhaps cross paths with Alex Tremayne again, a local boy she used to have a major crush on and who only had to walk past Anna to make her heart flutter.

Settling into her new life, and enjoying her work for the older, reclusive and—to be honest—often exasperating Oliver Seymour, Anna is delighted when Alex reappears in Polkerran and sweeps her off her feet.

The stars finally seem to be aligned, but just as Anna thinks all she’s ever wished for is within reach, a shock discovery brings everything under threat, and she discovers she’s living a dream that isn’t hers.

Can Anna rescue the new life she has made for herself and, when the testing moment comes, will anyone be there to hold her hand?

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove is the first in a series of uplifting romances. Get to know the warm and funny locals of Polkerran, wallow in the charm of a Cornish fishing village and fall in love with romance all over again.

Where to find the book:

It’s available in paperback or eBook through all the usual online outlets.

Buy Links:

Amazon Universal Book Link (should take people to their local Amazon site)

http://mybook.to/CottageCornwall

Kobo

https://www.kobo.com/ch/en/ebook/the-cottage-in-a-cornish-cove

Barnes & Noble Nook

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-cottage-in-a-cornish-cove-cass-grafton/1135981147?ean=2940163435333

Smashwords (for PDF, lrf, txt, pdb, html, Mobi or ePub files) on:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/998605

Apple iBookStore

https://linkmaker.itunes.apple.com/en-us/details/1493808675?country=us&mediaType=books&term=Cass+Grafton&type=book

Connect with Cass:

Social Media:

Website/Blogs

www.cassandragrafton.com

www.tabbycow.com

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/CassGraftonWriter

Twitter

@CassGrafton

Instagram

@cassgraftonwriter

Email

[email protected]

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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: Belvedere Crescent by Misha Herwin

Today we travel to Stoke-on-Trent to chat with Misha Herwin about how being a teacher, Potteries, being a trailing spouse, writing in short bursts, staging a fight with teddy bears, and draining rods come together as part of Misha’s past and current life.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’ve been a teacher, a stay at home mum and a trailing spouse, i.e. a wife/husband who follows their partner when they go to work abroad. I’ve moved house thirteen times and now live in Stoke-on-Trent with one husband and no pets. Not quite what we planned after we came home from Jamaica, but having no jobs and owning a house in city, which we’d bought for the son to live in and look after our stuff, this is where we’ve ended up. To my surprise I’ve grown to love the Potteries, though I do wish we were closer to the kids.

In which genre do you write?

I write Women’s Fiction, Time-slip and books for kids.

How many published books do you have?

So far there are two Time-slip books, two that would be classed as Women’s Fiction and seven children’s books. I’ve also published several short stories and plays.

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

I’ve always made up stories and once I started to read I tried my hand at writing them down. With my younger sister I would produce magazines, where I wrote the stories and she did the illustrations. She’s now an artist and I’m a writer. We started young.

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

That I write in short bursts and then go and do something else, like making the bed, while the words are bubbling around in my brain. That seems to give me another burst of creativity.

It’s lovely to meet someone else who works in bursts! I do this, too. Not just writing, but anything I’m doing. I’ve never thought about giving it a name. 

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I write in our smallest bedroom, which is done up as my office. The walls are crammed with bookshelves, photographs of the family and pictures I find inspirational. The desk, which I mean to tidy every night, is usually a mess. Puzzle the bear sits on one side of the PC looking at me soulfully.

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

The inspiration for “Belvedere Crescent” came from a gloomy row of Georgian terraced houses in Bristol. Once I’d been down that street I knew there was a story there, although it was years before I knew exactly what it was.

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

I read; spend time with family and friends; try to keep my garden in order and bake. Muffins are a speciality but my scones are pretty good too.

I’d love to meet up for a fresh baked muffin or scone. Sounds divine! Perhaps one day I’ll get to visit Stoke-on-Trent.

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

Being able to step out of this world and into another where I have some sort of control over what is happening.

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

Staged a fight with teddy bears to work out the moves that my characters would make.

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?

Meeting an ex-pupil on an island in Thailand. We walked in to a beach café to have lunch and a voice piped up. “Hello Miss.” We both lived in Shropshire at the time and I was on holiday and she was on her way home from a gap year in Australia.

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?

I don’t listen to music. I practise my piece over and over again to make sure that it will sound interesting, so that people will want to buy the book.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1 English is not my first language.

2 I once had five cats living with me.

3 I love cleaning out blocked drains. Give me draining rods and I am so happy.

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

Own up to being a writer and expect success. If you believe in yourself others will too.

Wow! I love this advice. Powerful words, Misha!

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

I’d be Letty Parker in “City of Secrets” one of my books for children. I’d love to be in her alternative Victorian Bristol, to experience the sounds and smells of the city, the threat of the Dark Ones and know that I’ll be home safe in time for tea.

Do you believe things happen for a reason?

No. Life is random and you do the best with what you are given. None of us can expect a pain free ride.

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

That is definitely determination plus a strong dash of patience. Without them I’d have given up on my writing career a long time ago.

What are you currently working on?

I’m writing the fifth book in “Adventures of Letty Parker,” a series for 8-12 year olds set in an alternative England with a dash of magic.

Tell us about your most recent book.

“Belvedere Crescent” is a Time slip novel. It is set in Bristol and is the story of twin sisters and a family curse that has repercussions through the centuries.

Abandoned as babies, twins Sadie and Thea have been brought up by Great-Aunt Jane and when she dies, they inherit her house in Belvedere Crescent. They plan to sell the only home they have ever known, but the house and its past will not let Thea go.

Haunted by the woman with the red-hair she is drawn into half understood secrets and the more she probes the greater the danger.

As everything fractures around her, she slips back in time where she finds herself alone and fighting for her very existence.

To save herself she must come to terms with her family history and let go of the person she loves most in world.

Yet the bond between sisters is one that not even time or tragedy can break.

It was lovely to have you on MTA, Misha! I really enjoyed getting to know you better. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

The book is available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Belvedere+Crescent+Misha+M+Herwin&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

And other digital booksellers. It can also be ordered from any bookshop.

Connect with Misha:

https://www.mishahewin.wordpress.com/

FB page is http://www.facebook.com/misha.herwin

Twitter @MishaHerwin

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

Friday with Friends: Doing the Tango and Writing Historic Novels

Welcome to a new series on Meeting the Authors …. Friday with Friends. On select Fridays we will feature a unique guest post/interview with an author that has previously been interviewed on MTA. Welcome to Tom Williams to help kick off this new series.

When Camilla was kind enough to offer me space to write on her blog, I asked if she had any idea what people would like to read about. She replied, “If you want to write about your passion of dancing, that may be fun.”

Well, I always love writing about tango, but I also want to encourage you to read my books. And although I keep wanting to write a book about tango, I never have yet. So can I write about my dancing and link it to any of my novels?

Oddly enough, maybe I can.

A very, very long time ago, I used to ice dance. Here’s a photo of a much younger me posing with wife, son and competition cup (we all danced on the same recreational competition team).

One of the other ice dancers had taken up Argentine tango and started teaching it and she persuaded Tammy and me to give it a go. That was over 20 years ago.

It’s fair to say that we got quite enthusiastic about it. In 2003 we made our first trip to Buenos Aires and life was never quite the same again.

We’ve been back more times than I can remember since then. We’ve danced in France, Iceland, Portugal, Turkey and Romania. We’ve tangoed for fun in parks in Barcelona and hotels in the Highlands and semi-professionally in an Army base and on a narrow-boat. Tammy has even gone dancing in Korea. Here we are dancing where we live. (Please be gentle with us – it was 10 years ago.)

As I took up writing, the idea of a book about tango obviously came up once or twice. I even started on one, but I was never able to make it work. Instead I ended up a writer of historical novels.

My first book, The White Rajah had just been turned down by all the major publishers on the grounds (mainly) that it was “too difficult for a first novel”. My agent suggested I write something more straightforwardly commercial.

But what? I started asking around my friends if they had any ideas.

On one of our trips to Buenos Aires we had met an Alaskan woman who was even more passionate about tango than we were and was living there for six months. (The most we have ever managed has been six weeks.) It was her suggestion that there were lots of interesting figures linked to the early history of European colonisation of South America and the struggles for liberation from Spain. So it was that I discovered the real-life British spy, James Burke, and his role in the 1806 British invasion of Buenos Aires. His Argentinian adventures were to become the basis for Burke in the Land of Silver.

I had a lot of fun following his footsteps around the town, exploring the remains of the old fort (now hidden away under the presidential palace) and riding out into the Andes, which he crossed on horseback. Sadly, my research into his life didn’t allow any room for tango. James Burke was active in Argentina early in the 19th century and tango only arrived almost a century later. The South American poet and historian of tango, Horacio Ferrer, writes:

“Nowadays, it is thought that between 1895 and 1900, Tango was born as a musical art clearly predestined and unmistakable.”

(Argentinian poets write like that.)


High in the Andes: not ideal dance conditions

Leaving aside issues of historical authenticity, there is limited potential for tangoing in the snow at 3,000 metres on the road to Chile, though we did get the odd dance in back in Buenos Aires. Poor James Burke, however, doesn’t get to dance at all, though he does join a group of gauchos, the cowboys of Argentina, as they sing after a cattle drive.

The guitars began to play again and everybody joined in singing long, slow songs about the loneliness and loss that seemed an inescapable part of living in this vast emptiness at the bottom of the world. The words were sad and the melodies plaintive but the singing evoked the beauty of the landscape and the passion with which they loved it.

In Argentina, many people believe that tango is principally about the songs and only secondarily about the dancing. The music of tango is the soundtrack of Buenos Aires and the songs are still songs of loss and loneliness; the struggle to find love and the inevitability of its loss. They are sad songs that somehow make you feel happy. It is true, as the great tango composer Astor Piazzolla said, that “Tango is darkness made light through art.”

The real James Burke may never have got to tango, but he did go on spying until well after the Napoleonic wars were over. He carried on in my books, too. In fact, I have just re-published the first three books (starting with Burke in the Land of Silver) ahead of publishing two new ones later this year. I’ve carried on dancing, too: the photo shows Tammy and me celebrating our Ruby Wedding two years ago.

James Burke, spy

James Burke’s published adventures take him from South America to Egypt and, inevitably for any Napoleonic wars hero, to Waterloo. His further adventures will see him up to dark deeds in Spain and Ireland. You can find out more about Burke and his world (and my other books) on my web-site: http://tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk/.

Burke in the Land of Silver

Burke and the Bedouin

Burke at Waterloo

Tom Williams

Tom Williams used to write about business but he’s given that up to indulge himself and write historical novels. Besides three books about James Burke he has three others set at the height of Empire in the mid-19th century: The White Rajah, Cawnpore and Back Home.

He lives in Richmond and, when he’s not dancing (or teaching people to dance), he spends a lot of time street skating.

Thank you for this great post! I absolutely love it, as I find it inspiring to learn more about the past and current lives of authors.  I adore the video of you and Tammy dancing. You two are beautiful! Wishing you all the best, Tom! – Camilla

Social Media Links

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

Twitter: @TomCW99

Blog: http://tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk/blog/

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Meet the Author: Gina’s Therapy by Silvia Sbaraini

Today we travel to Canterbury, Kent, in the UK to chat with Silvia Sbaraini about how answering questions, ideas in the middle of the night, an elephant, an attic bedroom, listening to the radio, transcendence, tarot-reading workshops, advice from Grandma, sand martins, and chocolate truffles come together as part of Silvia’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello! My name’s Silvia and I live in Canterbury, Kent, in the UK. I’ve lived in the same house for over twenty years and feel I know it like an old friend (and occasional enemy, when bits of it go wrong). It’s 7 pm on a Wednesday evening during lockdown: Grown-up Daughter Number 2 is downstairs assembling dinner, complete with swearing and the radio turned up loud; my husband is in the front room watching reruns of old football matches because there’s no live sport; and I’m sitting at my desk looking at lists of all the life admin I need to do, but still haven’t got around to. And deciding to answer Camilla’s great questions instead …

Sounds wonderful. Everyone doing their own thing, with a bit of swearing and procrastination thrown in! HA!

In which genre do you write?

I write women’s fiction.

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

Ideas or beginnings, particularly for short stories, wake me up during the night. Then I have to get up and start writing, otherwise I’m guaranteed to forget them. I don’t know how many stories I’ve lost because I didn’t want to get out of bed at 4 am!

What would you choose as your spirit animal and why?

An elephant. Aren’t they amazing? Their size, their build, how they live in their social groups. I wouldn’t fancy being pregnant for twenty-two months though.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Light, bright and uncluttered, with a great view. Sometimes I write upstairs in the attic bedroom, which has a view of rooftops, the cathedral and an expansive sky. It’s a lovely place to work.

What are you currently reading?

I’m just about to begin The Gyspy Bride by my friend and fellow author Katie Hutton. It’s a romance-cum-family saga set in Oxfordshire between the wars. I’m really looking forward to this one as Katie writes the most beautiful, evocative descriptions. I’m not sure I’d have the confidence to write historical fiction – I’d be too afraid of getting the period details wrong!

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

Well, it’s about a woman in her forties who is just getting on with her life – like we all do – when she receives a serious health diagnosis out of the blue. I’d been listening to the radio and they were talking about living with serious illness. And I thought: how would you cope? What would be the impact? Would it make you live life differently? This was the spark for the story.

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

Being a bit of a perfectionist/obsessive is quite helpful. To do anything creative well, it’s actually positive to have these characteristics – the desire to makes something as good as it can be, even if that means rereading and re-writing the same sentence a hundred times.

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

Escape or transcendence. When fully in the flow of writing I’m transported into that other world. It’s totally absorbing – nothing else exists and I lose track of time. My husband always says I’m happiest when writing. Also, I get a tremendous amount from reading, whether that be entertainment, being immersed in a completely different world or a sense of not feeling alone. Words have such power.

I absolutely agree with you … Words have incredible power!

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

Well, one of the central characters in the book I’m currently writing is an eighty-three-year-old psychic who reads tarot cards. So, in the interests of research, I’m taking part in regular tarot-reading workshops. I have to say, I’ve met a lovely, welcoming bunch of people, and I’m becoming much more familiar with the meanings of the cards. I haven’t discovered any latent psychic ability though (I think I was secretly hoping I would).

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

I love the way you’ve reversed this question! When I was a teenager, I’d ask my grandma what she’d learnt about life, what advice she’d give about how to live it. All she’d ever reply was, ‘Enjoy yourself while you’re young.’ Now, this might seem to be advice that my Old Self should give my Young Self, but, seeing as Grandma classed everyone under retirement age as ‘young’, it’s still advice my Young Self could give my Old Self. I’m fifty and not one of those people who ‘still feels twenty inside’. No. I feel every one of my fifty years but, sometimes, it would be good to remind myself that fifty is young to an eighty-year-old.

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

I initially chose a female character I’m writing at the moment, but – do you know what? – I think I’d choose Olly, a male character in my most recently published book: Gina’s Therapy. He’s the hopeless ex-husband of the eponymous heroine; he’s handsome, an artist, popular with the ladies and, unfortunately, Gina is still in love with him. I’m choosing him because I think it would be amazing to experience being the opposite sex. Would I find it actually made little difference to my sense of self, my drives and outlook or would I feel fundamentally different?

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

I absolutely love where I live – Canterbury, in Kent. We’ve been going for lots of walks in local woods due to lockdown, and it’s been wonderful to see them gently unfurling into new life – with wild flowers dotting the undergrowth and a fresh canopy of vibrant green leaves. There’s a great coastline walk from the local town of Herne Bay to Reculver. Here, the grassy cliffs meet the pebbly beach and your eye is drawn to the twin towers of a ruined church. At this time of year (May) there are lots of sand martins nesting in the cliffs, darting over the tuffty grasses and scrubby, sea-loving plants catching insects. Canterbury itself is an historic city with the cathedral at its heart and the River Stour winding through it. There are ancient churches, beautiful public parks and secret gardens, not to mention fab shops and a brilliant theatre. I’ll stop now, as I’m beginning to sound like a tourist brochure!

It sounds amazing. Now you’ve got me adding this to my bucket list!

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

In bed with a book. Maybe with a storm lashing at the windows and howling down the chimney, removing any guilt about retreating into bed. And a box of chocolate truffles …

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

My most recent novel is called Gina’s Therapy and it was released in April 2020. As it came out during lockdown, it’s currently primarily available as an ebook on Amazon. But, when lockdown eases and book distributors and bookshops begin to operate again, the paperbacks will be available. I think the blurb on the back cover sums it up best:

Gina has enough to deal with for one week: a disapproving daughter, her ex-psychotherapist living next door and a hopeless ex-husband she’s still in love with. Without a diagnosis of cancer.

Catapulted into the unknown territory of surgery, chemo and support groups, Gina faces her predicament with strength, wit and a faithful pair of elasticated-waist trousers. As treatment progresses, Gina finds herself asking surprising questions. Will she ever be able to concentrate on what her oncologist is saying, without being distracted by his enormous moustache? Should her best friend’s thirty-year love of David Essex prevent her advice from being taken seriously? And how will she explain her bald bonce to her seven-year-old granddaughter?

Blessed with the ability to delight in life’s absurdities and contradictions, Gina’s Therapy is a warm-hearted exploration of the things that matter most in life and the power of stories to transform our experience.

Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to take part in Meet the Authors – it’s been an absolute pleasure!

It was great having you on MTA, Silvia. I truly enjoyed your interview, laughing out loud! And, now I know what a bonce is … I had no idea and thought you had made a typo. Decided I better look it up before “fixing” it for you. Ha! – Camilla

Book Trailer:

Connect with Silvia:

www.silviasbaraini.com

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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Meet the Author: That’s Our Home by Jude Lennon

Today we travel to Liverpool to chat with Jude Lennon about how being a former teacher, having a storytelling business, writing Christmas plays, a lamb, eating chocolate, drinking gin, a VW campervan, and beaches come together as part of Jude’s past and current life.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m Jude Lennon a former teacher who loved writing who is now an author who loves storytelling. I live in Liverpool with my partner Dom. He’s a musician so it’s a very creative but not particularly tidy household. I was a teacher for 18 years before leaving the chalk face to set up my storytelling business. When not in Lockdown, my days are spent visiting schools to deliver storytelling sessions, meet the author talks, writing workshops and drama workshops. I also run writing courses for adults and a yearly writing retreat. I try to write every day, even if it’s just a few hundred words.

In which genre do you write?

Mostly children’s picture and chapter books but I’ve written a collection of short stories for adults and my current WIP is a full length novel for adults.

How many published books do you have?

19

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

I’ve written for as long as I can remember and my career as a teacher (I taught 3, 4, 5 and 6 year old’s) gave me the opportunity for lots of writing. I was always making up stories for the children in my class or writing the Christmas play or assemblies. It was actually other people including work colleagues who suggested I should try to get my work published. I entered a writing competition, was crowned The Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate for the North West of England and that was that.

What would you choose as your mascot, and why?

I’m a professional storyteller as well as writer. The storytelling business is Little Lamb Tales and I have a mascot called Lamby. He and his girlfriend Flossie accompany me everywhere and I mean everywhere. They even came with us to South America for a 6 week adventure a couple of years ago.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Although I have an office at home, I’m very much a pen and paper girl initially so I like to have a notebook to hand and just write when the feeling takes me. Sometimes in bed, sometimes on a beach, sometimes at the dining table looking out of the window. As long as I have a notebook and pen I’m happy. When I come to type my stories up and editing it’s the laptop in my office.

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

That’s Our Home! is a children’s picture book about keeping the beaches clean. The idea came from my sister-in-law who was doing a beach clean and found a whole picnic wrapped in a towel and buried in the sand. I was so outraged I felt compelled to write a story.

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

Read, eat chocolate, drink gin, go walking, have jam nights with my friends where we sit around sing, laugh and talk (and drink gin). Preferably combine all of the above on a camping trip.

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

Children’s faces when I read my books to them and being told my books were like Julia Donaldson! I ate out on that for a week ha ha.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I’m still a big kid. Play and using my imagination is still important but having the time and freedom to really devote time to it like I did as a child is what I miss the most.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I own a beautiful 1974 VW campervan named Buttercup who appears in one of my books.

I once drove a different VW campervan called Poppy around Australia. The stars look amazing from a campfire in the outback.

Yes I am related to you know who.

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

“Hi I believe you sell hats. As you can see this one is a little small for me! Have you got anything bigger?”

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

The beach. I don’t even mind which one. I just love being by the sea. I grew up in Southport which is 30 miles up the coast from Liverpool. The sea doesn’t really come in but the smell of the sea has been in my nose since I was born. If I had to choose one beach location – Hell’s Mouth on the Llyn Peninsular in Wales.

What are you currently working on?

A full length novel with the working title Tea is the Cure for Everything. Due for release in 2021 ish.

Tell us about your most recent book.

I published my latest book ‘That’s Our Home!’ on 20th March. Great timing hey?! It’s a children’s picture book (illustrated by the wonderfully talented Lisa Williams) written in rhyme which explores the issue of keeping our beaches clean. The three main characters Seagull, Crab and Starfish have a very important message to spread.

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA, Jude. It sure sounds like you have tons of fun! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

It’s available from Amazon and of course all good bookshops when they re-open. https://littlelambpublishing.co.uk/product/thats-our-home/

Connect with Jude:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/JudeLennonAuthor

Twitter – www.twitter.com/JudeLennonBooks

Instagram – www.instagram.com/JudeLennonBooks

Ko-fi – www.ko-fi.com/JudeLennon

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Meet the Author: A Wish for Jinnie by Audrey Davis

Today we travel to Switzerland to chat with Audrey Davis about how an oasis of calm and tidiness, Phil Collins, piles of scribbled notes, Lac Leman and the majestic Alps, the after life, figure skating, the Falkland Islands, an underwater panic attack, the Dragon Khan ride in PortAventura, Spain , and candyfloss come together as part of Audrey’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a Scottish-born former journalist, based in Switzerland — the French-speaking part — since 2002. I’d like to say I’ve fully mastered the language, but still provide a few laughs for the locals when I cock things up! My two grown-up sons live in the UK, one in Edinburgh where I studied in the mid-eighties. Although I’m from the west coast, I studied in Edinburgh and it’s probably one of my favourite cities in the world. I took an online Writing Fiction course in 2016, which led to my first novel — A Clean Sweep — being published. I’m indie and proud, although managing all aspects of the publishing/marketing process myself still induces a nervous twitch.

I’m and indie author and publisher, too. So now I know where the nervous twitch comes from!

In which genre do you write?

Romantic comedy. I adored Jilly Cooper’s early books when I was young, and moved on to Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews in my twenties and thirties. Mind you, I was (and still am) partial to gory, blood-soaked thrillers but can’t imagine ever writing one!

How many published books do you have?

Four, including a short prequel to my debut novel. My third standalone novel — A Wish For Jinnie — published on June 22.

Those are all beautiful covers, Audrey!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

An oasis of calm and tidiness, with scented candles burning and reference books, folders and files displayed neatly on shelves. And with a picture-perfect view to enjoy while taking a break from writing. In reality, I mainly write at the kitchen table, surrounded by piles of scribbled notes, random printed chapters and often darting back and forth to check dinner’s progress. It’s chaotic, but at least the kettle (and corkscrew) are close to hand. I do have a small office downstairs, but it currently resembles an explosion in a stationery store. When the weather’s good, I often sit outside under the awning where I can look out over Lac Leman and the majestic Alps.

What an amazing and peaceful looking view you’ve got. I’ll clear my calendar for a tea date whenever the world opens again!

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

It would have to be ghostly Gary from The Haunting of Hattie Hastings. I’m not convinced there is an afterlife, but I had a lot of fun imagining what it might be like. In the book he is visible to his wife, Hattie, but not to anyone else. So, I’d be able to wander around unnoticed, maybe popping into people’s houses to see what they’re up to.

What’s the last movie you watched and why?

I, Tonya about figure skater Tonya Harding and her connection to the 1994 attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan. We watched it after an episode of the Netflix comedy show, The Kominsky Method, which featured a guest appearance by the actress Allison Janney. A quick online search revealed she’d won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as Harding’s badass and abusive mother. Intrigued, we tuned in and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I had not heard of this movie. Will add it to my list.

List three interesting facts about yourself.

· I visited the Falkland Islands in my twenties, a few years after the conflict. My remit as a local newspaper journalist was to follow Scottish regiment the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on their day-to-day duties in the run-up to Christmas. Highlights included drinking at the famous Upland Goose bar where journalists gathered during the war, and being dangled out the back of a Chinook helicopter. Actually, that one terrified me!

· I’m a PADI qualified scuba diver and have taken the plunge in many exotic locations, including the Great Barrier Reef, Fiji and Vanuatu. In Vanuatu, my husband and I did a deep dive in the SS President Coolidge, a US luxury ocean liner that was sunk by mines in 1942. I’d say this was my only ‘near-death’ experience, as I suffered a panic attack inside the Medical Supplies area. Luckily, our guide calmed me down by sitting me on a sand bank, until I regained my confidence. If I’d shot to the surface without decompression stops, I’d most likely have died.

· I love scary rollercoaster rides, even though my heart’s in my mouth in the seconds before they start, and I’m thinking, ‘I want to get off!’ I haven’t been on one for a while, but a favourite was the Dragon Khan ride in PortAventura, Spain which boasts eight inversions which was a world record at the time. Oh, and I also bungee-jumped in Cairns, Australia and have an ancient video kicking around somewhere showing my cheeks (facial ones) wobbling in abject fear!

Wow! No way I’d get on that roller coaster! Nor, would I bungee-jump. I would toss my cookies during each. Ha!

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

Excuse me, but I heard there’s a party going down. You don’t get many tequila shots in my neck of the woods. And I’m a bit partial to guacamole too. I brought my own maracas!

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

Many moons ago, not long after moving to Switzerland, the four of us (including my two boys) went to the ski resort of Les Diablerets. On the drive, my husband mentioned he’d read in a magazine that the singer Phil Collins had a home there. ‘Interesting,’ I said, with little enthusiasm. Left with our youngest to potter on the nursery slopes, I spotted a man wearing a flat cap and walking a Jack Russell. Moving closer, I realised it was the man himself. Deciding to be bold, I went up to him, stuck out my hand, and said, ‘Phil Collins, I presume.’ Remarkably, he didn’t tell me to get lost, but spent a good half hour chatting about the country, skiing and his recent work on the soundtrack for the Tarzan movie. My husband was mega-jealous when he heard of the encounter!

Just had to throw in a Phil Collins song, since my daughter loves this movie and the music.

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

I try to go to the gym three times a week, although that hasn’t been possible during lockdown. I love cooking and have shelves of cook books and a bulging folder of favourite recipes accumulated over the years. I’ll cook (and eat) pretty much anything, except oysters. Bleurgh!

What do you miss about being a kid?

First and foremost, my lovely parents. Sadly, they both died a long time ago, and never got to meet my two wonderful boys (now in their mid-twenties). Also, the feeling that time was endless, and the holidays stretched on forever, with the promise of building sandcastles on the beach, taking donkey rides and eating candyfloss. As a family we always holidayed in the UK, with my first overseas trip a long (and nauseous) bus journey to Germany as part of a school outing.

It was great having you on MTA and learning more about your background and writer’s life. Plus, now I know what candyfloss is …. We call it cotton candy. Got it! Wishing you all the best. – Camilla

Blurb – A Wish for Jinnie:

What if wishes really could come true?

When Jinnie Cooper is dumped by her fiancé, and exiled to a job in an antiques shop in a sleepy Scottish village, little does she know a battered old lamp is about to shake up her life.

Genie Dhassim grants wishes. But he also wants a few of his own to come true. Letting him explore the outside world proves nerve-wracking as Dhassim has an uncanny knack of putting his pointy-slippered foot in it.

As Jinnie grows closer to her employer Sam, Dhassim discovers his time on earth is running out.

Can both Jinnie and Dhassim find true happiness? Or are those wishes that cannot be granted?

Where to find the books:

A Clean Sweep

Amazon – getbook.at/AudreyDavis
Barnes & Noble/Apple Books – https://books2read.com/u/mv5Bx2
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/ebook/a-clean-sweep-5

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings

Amazon – getbook.at/HattieHastings
Barnes & Noble/Apple Books – https://books2read.com/u/49Zv7d
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/ebook/the-haunting-of-hattie-hastings-1

A Wish For Jinnie

Amazon – getbook.at/AWishForJinnie
Barnes & Noble/Apple Books – https://books2read.com/u/4N9kr6
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/ebook/a-wish-for-jinnie

Connect with Audrey:

Website https://audreydavisauthor.com

Newsletter http://www.getrevue.co/profile/audrey_cowie

https://www.facebook.com/audreydavisbooks/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/543219.Audrey_Davis

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Meet the Author: Life is Yours by Abigail Yardimci

Today we travel to Devon to chat with Abigail Yardimci about how mindfulness, creative living, a seaside coffee shop, body acceptance, Nina Simone, postnatal depression, dark chocolate, and Elizabeth Gilbert come together as part of Abigail’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Abigail and I’m an author, blogger and creative mindfulness teacher. I live by the sea in Devon with two terrifying kids and a Turkish husband. I love to write and get my kicks through mindful parenting styles, creative living and chocolate.

In which genre do you write?

I guess my books span several genres including women’s fiction, positive psychology and self-help fiction. ‘Life Is Yours’ would sit comfortably under chick lit too (although I’ve had lots of male readers send me messages about how much they love the story!)

How many published books do you have?

I have one published novel called ‘Life Is Yours’. It’s the first part in a trilogy and the next two parts will be hot on its heels.

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

My mam and dad were both journalists when I was growing up so I remember knowing right from the start that writing was a thing you could actually do for a living. I loved the clickety-clackety sound of my mam’s typewriter (yes, I’m old enough to remember those!) and I felt very important and grown-up sitting there typing my own stories even from the age of 7. It just felt like an entirely magical process from the start and I always felt I was ‘in the zone’ when I was writing stories.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I’m very lucky in that a few years ago my husband and I decided to move our little family from the North East of England to South Devon. I always loved the idea of looking out at the sea as I wrote and now I get to do that! My favourite thing is to take my laptop to a seaside coffee shop, order a latte and get writing. Plus I like to find a quiet little corner in the cafe so I’m not too much in the hustle and bustle otherwise I get sucked into other people’s stories! The ocean is absolutely THE best place to stare out at when I’m stuck on a plot point or struggling over a certain character. One day I will have my own at-home writing desk with a huge window and an ocean view. A girl’s got to dream . . .

What are you currently reading?

Funnily enough, the book I’m currently reading isn’t fiction, although I do love a good yarn. It’s called ‘Health at Every Size’ by Dr Linda Bacon and examines how society has given us a lot of untruthful ‘facts’ about the relationship between health and weight. I’m very much a body positivity advocate and try to weave some aspects of body image into my stories. It’s not difficult as I get a lot of my inspiration from my own experiences and body image is something I used to struggle with a lot. I try to be realistic and sensitive about it as I write – and reading books like this help me to understand the science behind the growing activist movement of body acceptance and body positivity.

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

‘Life is Yours’ is based on my own lived experience. At the beginning of 2006, my fiancé and business partner of seven years just decided he didn’t want that life any more. He left with hardly a whisper of warning and I felt like all the rugs had been pulled out from under me. Ultimately, I had to decide if I was going to disappear into a shadow of my former self, or, eventually, pick myself up and open my eyes to the world in a different way.

I chose the latter and because the repercussions of that were so life-changing, I decided to record my experiences as a novel. I’m so glad I did because not only did it help me work through what had happened and make sense of it all, but I now have readers all over the world telling me they identify with so much of the story and, in particular, they love the self-help element to the tale.

We’re all likely to suffer from heartbreak at least once in our lives – whether it’s from the end of a relationship or something completely different – so tales of recovery and renewal are always going to be important.

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

I work part-time for a charity that supports mums with their mental health and wellbeing around the time of having a baby. I suffered from postnatal depression myself with both of my boys, so it’s good to be able to give back and share the skills that got me through those difficult times.

I also teach mindfulness meditation to young people and families across South Devon which I love. When I’m not doing those things, I tend to indulge in at-home yoga, dance fitness videos on You Tube, long put-the-world-to-rights chats with my mates, heaps of dark chocolate and giggling with my lads.

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

I would most definitely be inviting Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love) to my coffee table. In fact, when I first read Eat Pray Love about twelve years ago now, I panicked that she had already written my book! Although we have entirely different stories, we were both writing about a break-up and heartbreak and self discovery and circling back to yourself. I worried that she’d beaten me to it. But, the further I got into the book, and the more I had very stern words with myself, I realised we’ve all got our stories to tell and our own unique voices to tell them in. I’ve since read many of her other books and particularly love what she has to say about creativity. My background is in creative arts and I’ve always had a highly creative soul so Elizabeth’s frank and empowering relationship to creativity intrigues me. I guess I’d ask her about that – I’d love to talk with her about creativity into the wee small hours over a bottle of something nice and a huge bowl of pasta – I think she’d like that.

I’m an Elizabeth Gilbert fan, too. I think Big Magic is a powerful book, and love following her career and activism. Can I join you two?

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

That when it’s flowing it’s the most amazing feeling and the best way to have fun with yourself.

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

I don’t currently keep a journal, but there have been episodes of my life when I have done and it has been enormously helpful. When I went through a particularly awful break-up in 2006, I started a journal with a list of reasons why ‘Being Young, Free and Independent is Bloody Brilliant’. That morphed into further empowering lists and dreamy diagrams and silly sketches and poems and lines and observations. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but now that journal has turned into the ‘Life Is Yours’ trilogy. It was a particularly lovely experience to go back through that journal as I was editing the final draft of the first book, and picking out hand-written excerpts to actually be included inside. It made me feel really happy and satisfied that creativity is something we should never block and just go with when the mood takes us as we never know where it might lead.

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?

I absolutely thrive on talking about ‘Life Is Yours’ – it’s one of my favourite things to do! That’s not to say I don’t get nervous though. I’m a mindfulness teacher so I definitely try to practice what I preach and spend some time breathing mindfully, soothing my nerves and fully accepting I’m in the right place at the right time. I have a lovely mala meditation bracelet that I tend to wear before speaking publicly and I breathe in and out deeply as I squeeze each bead alternately. A nice hot cup of tea (or a glass of something stronger if the gig was in a pub) helps too. If I had to pick a track (I absolutely love music) it would be ‘Ain’t Got No – I Got Life’ by Nina Simone.

I’m a Nina Simone fan, and adore this song. Another two of my favorite Nina Simone songs: “Here Comes the Sun” and “Sugar in My Bowl”.  What a powerhouse of deep soulful singing! 

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I’m an Eastenders addict
I’d sell my soul for a parsnip chip
My kids think I’m a hippie

What do you miss about being a kid?

The freedom to do what I like all day.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently editing the second book in the ‘Life Is Yours’ trilogy and getting it ready for publication. It’s called Destiny Is Yours and will be out this year although The COVID19 breakout has sadly put things back a bit. I know all the ‘Life Is Yours’ fans are eager to read the next part in the adventure, so I’m working with my publisher to get it in their hands as soon as possible.

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘Life Is Yours’ – From heartbreak to heart awake . . .

Who can say what has brought Jess and Lindy together? Maybe it’s the beach, the stars and the warm Turkish night air. But they may as well get settled for the night, because Jess has a story to tell and Lindy is ready to listen . . .

Jess had life sorted. A gang of great mates, an adoring fiancé and a thriving business – she couldn’t have asked for more. But the proverbial rug is whipped out from under her feet when the fiancé makes a sharp exit on New Year’s Eve. Therein follows the Week From Hell, eternally streaked mascara and Chardonnay-a-plenty.

But this is the story of a woman on a path. Sure, there are a number of trips and falls along the way but Jess is on a journey that will change her life. On a boring business course, she remembers what she really wants. Strange new friendships are made, new ideas grow; and a last-minute discount holiday to Turkey helps her heart wake up to a whole new rhythm. A rhythm that is just beginning to get going . . .

It was was wonderful to have you on MTA, Abigail. I’m adding your book to my list to read. It’s not my favored genre, but knowing it’s based on your own experience, makes me want to read it! Sending you oceans of blessings! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

You can buy ‘Life Is Yours’ from the following sites:

Amazon UK (Paperback):

Amazon UK (Kindle):

Amazon US (Kindle):

Life is Yours Online Boutique (signed copies, original artworks, tote bags, badges, postcards etc):

https://www.abigailyardimci.com/shop

Want to find out more about Abigail and ‘Life Is Yours’? The best place to be is on Abigail’s reader list and if you sign up now, you get a FREE hidden prologue to Life Is Yours. This is not available in the book but can be sent straight to your inbox as soon as you sign up! Just visit this link to go straight to the sign-up form:

www.abigailyardimci.com

Abigail also kind of thrives on social media so make sure to follow her there too:

www.facebook.com/AbigailYardimci

www.twitter.com/AbigailYardimci

www.instagram.com/abigailyardimciauthor

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Meet the Author: Gone Viking by Bill Arnott

Today we travel to Vancouver, Canada to chat with Bill Arnott about how traveling, socializing with other artists, coffee, a sense of humor, acoustic Indie Folk, a belief that we’re all the same, a weatherproof journal, throwing away ten years of research and writing, New Zealand, a giraffe in a pub, and a miracle in a book store come together as part of Bill’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hey Camilla, thanks so much for the invite. I love MTA and it’s a privilege to be featured!

I’m Bill Arnott, author, poet, songwriter, and my home is Canada’s west coast, in Vancouver. I spend most of my time writing, travelling, or socializing with other artists. Bill Arnott’s Showcase is one of the ways I feature and promote creative peers.

In which genre do you write?

My first five books were nonfiction, published over fifteen years, but I recently leapt into poetry and fiction and love the breadth of genres.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A decent view and access to coffee, a pint, and buddies with a sense of humour!

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just reread two favourites by mentor/friends Tim Winton (Land’s Edge) and Anna Badkhen (Waiting for the Taliban).

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

I perform a lot – acoustic Indie Folk and spoken word, so I’m often rehearsing. If it’s my poetry, I rarely read, but instead LEARN it (different, I feel, than memorization). It takes a lot of time but shows respect for an audience.

If you could have a fantasy coffee date with an author or famous person, who would it be?

I have a circuitous answer but stay with me, I think it’s worth it. I adamantly believe we’re all the same. I’m not one for pedestals. Yes, I have role models and folks that may view me that way but we’re still all the same. So when I encounter a famous (living) writer I’d like to visit with, I reach out to them. If they’re surrounded by gatekeeping agent/publicists, well, I’ve gained some insight into that individual and probably won’t be as keen to connect. But most often, a sincere intro to a genuine person results in a lovely exchange. I’ve in fact had great visits and connections with most of my heroes – good people who’re in the very same boat as all of us.

This is beautiful, Bill. I believe we are all the same, too. I just wish we could all see that and treat one another as equals.

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

I was surprised to realize I no longer care what people think of me. Not much, anyway.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced or remember while writing a memoir?

Every performance, even a performance you KNOW will be brutal, results in a memoir story, which is why I won’t shy away from a potentially bad gig. A favourite was the event with ZERO attendees. Now THAT’S good material!

This is such an excellent point. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Do you journal or keep a diary? Has this helped with your published writings?

When I’m working on travel memoirs, a weatherproof journal’s essential – my writerly bread and butter. A story I like to share as a life lesson is the time I finished a 110,000 word manuscript – ten years of travel, research and writing. I had it in a Word doc. But we were moving (packing boxes, paring down). This, combined with the fact I’m lazy, I threw out all my journals and notes. Every bit of it. I had my Word doc after all, so I was solid. (Of course you know where this is going.) Did I back it up? Certainly not. I’m too busy and important to waste time on such trivialities. Suffice to say my computer crashed, my manuscript vanished, and I had to start again from scratch with a handful of photos. The lesson? I’m a moron.

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

I just watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople, New Zealand being a place that I love. I trust Taika Waititi as a filmmaker and LOVE artists who create poignant stuff and still pepper it with zany humour.

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

Here’s the thing about a giraffe in a hat. He’s spiffed up, right? So he and a buddy go to the pub. They get there and the giraffe has a lie down. Bartender says, Oi, what’s that lyin’ there?! The buddy says, Ain’t a lion, it’s a giraffe! (Needless to say this a joke for telling, not writing, but YOU brought up the giraffe.)

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

I do. I was shopping for, dare I say, a spiritual book, at a colossal retailer. And chose to release into the moment, simply let go (I actually closed my eyes) and a book fell from a high shelf – literally dropped, and I caught it midair – James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. And I thought, if I ever have the confidence or indifference to share this story, it was one of those moments Deepak Chopra talks about. It shifted my perspective of everything.

Lovely story, Bill. I can see and feel how this would cause a shift in perspective. Wow!

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

I actually have a couple, radically different stuff I’m equally proud of. Firstly, my travel memoir Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, a Whistler Independent Book Awards Finalist, now with Rocky Mountain Books. And secondly, Allan’s Wishes, an all-ages graphic novella I created with brilliant Vancouver artist Brett Jasch.

It was great having you be a part of MTA, Bill. I really enjoyed getting to know you better. Wishing you all the best and if you’re ever near Reno, Nevada, look me up and let’s have coffee! – Camilla

Blurb:

Gone Viking: A Travel Saga. Bestseller Bill Arnott takes readers on a personal odyssey, trekking Europe to Asia, the UK to Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and the New World in the wake of history’s greatest explorers. With a small pack and weatherproof journal, Bill writes with a journalist’s eye, a poet’s prose, and a comedian’s take on everything else. Prepare yourself for an armchair adventure like no other!

Praise:

This is definitely one of the best reads of the year. – Silver Bow Publishing.

An extremely well-documented travelogue with beautiful imagery. – Ottawa Review of Books.

Where to find Bill’s books:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/billarnott_aps

Gone Viking: A Travel Saga here: https://rmbooks.com/book/gone-viking/

And fun mini tours of my Viking trek here:

Connect with Bill:

Bill’s Website: https://billarnottaps.wordpress.com/

Bill’s Showcase: https://mailchi.mp/dd5400632582/bills-artist-showcase

Facebook: Bill Arnott

Twitter/Instagram: @billarnott_aps

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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 Sword of Red by Jackie Marchant

Today we travel to Greater London UK to chat with Jackie Marchant about how walking in the woods, a great big comfy bed, birdsong, volunteer work, experimenting with food, watching videos of tarantulas, penguin-friendly door-knockers, and stubbornness come together as part of Jackie’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born near Nottingham, the middle of three sisters. My father was a mining engineer and we moved with his work – to Scotland, Zambia, South Africa, South Wales and London. I still love travelling and meeting up with friends I made along the way. Now I’m settled in Greater London UK with my husband and fellow traveler. I spend a lot of time walking in the woods, which have provided much of the inspiration for my Sword of Red Series. Luckily we have a dog who loves long walks and doesn’t mind me muttering to myself (aka plotting).

In which genre do you write?

I write what is called epic low fantasy. ‘Low’ means it is set in a world pretty similar to ours, ie no wizards, elves, etc (Game of Thrones is a low fantasy, despite the dragons). Imagine the world of Robin Hood, but one in which everyone, including men and women, are equal – that’s why it has to be a fantasy!

I also write mid-grade humour, which is completely different.

How many published books do you have?

I have three mid-grade children’s books published in a series about a trouble-magnet called Dougal Daley. The Sword of Red is my first fantasy.

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

I was about six. At school, we had to draw something and then write a sentence about it. I don’t remember what I drew, but I still remember how long I took to write that sentence. It had to be just right. I still have that need, with every sentence I write. Even a text.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A great big comfy bed with a pile of soft pillows and a fluffed up duvet. A cup of steaming herbal tea on the bedside table, a fresh breeze bringing in birdsong.

That sounds like such a wonderful, cushy writing space. I’d love to read there, too! What are you currently reading?

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

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

Normally, I’ll be visiting schools and libraries, which I love. Or speaking at a festival or other event, or maybe just visiting as a reader. I’ll be out researching, nipping into London and wandering around a museum, toiling in the garden, walking the dog, planning a trip, travelling, setting questions for a children’s literature quiz, volunteer work for a small charity I’m involved with, trying to complete a giant jigsaw puzzle, experimenting with food, watching as many films as I can, reading avidly and thinking about my next writing project. But, now we are in lockdown and most of that has gone out the window, I’ve taken to making videos for my fledgling YouTube channel. You’d be surprised how long it takes to make a video, especially when you have to teach yourself how to do it as you along.

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

Meeting my readers, especially the children. There is nothing better than having a long signing queue and children bouncing up and down with excitement because their book is being signed by a real author.

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

I spent a whole day on YouTube, watching videos of tarantulas eating live mice, giant frogs eating crickets and various other creatures’ eating habits. All in the name of research for a Dougal Daley book in which he has a pet tarantula called Sybil.

Oh my goodness! I don’t think I could have done that. HA!

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

It’s vital to prepare well for events. I spend a lot of time practicing on my dog – he knows every detail of my writing process. I also read the book I’m going to be talking about. It might sound strange, having spent so much time writing it, but I still need to refresh my memory.

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

He’s there to ask me to sign a petition for penguin-friendly door-knockers, as it’s very difficult to knock on a door when you are short and only have little wings.

Hahaha! Love this response, Jackie.

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

My stubbornness. Without it I wouldn’t have stuck to my aim to be a published writer. And my propensity to daydream – vital for meeting my characters and talking to them. Often out loud.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just delivered Book Two of the Sword of Red series to my publisher (yay!) and I am now writing a new mid-grade book, which is the second in a new series about a girl who tries to sell her grandmother. Book 1 in that series is out later this year.

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Sword of Red:

A land of plenty where everyone was happy? Pool couldn’t think of anything worse. What this place needed was a famine. Or a war.

For generations Rebels have been risking their lives over treacherous seas, razor sharp rocks and fierce currents to flee from the tyranny of Kamoria, seeking refuge in the land they call Langrinia. For generations the descendants of the surviving Rebels have done all they can for those who still struggle over. For generations they have lived in peace with the Forest and its elusive people.

But now a new survivor has washed up, battered and bleeding to death, insisting that he be tended by no one but the apprentice healer, Neekra. But when Neekra discovers that he is none other than Pool, bastard son of Supreme Lawmaker Daner of Kamoria, the most feared High Ruler of all, she needs more than her healer skills to help him lose his violent past and accept their peaceful ways. And why is he so interested in her?

Now a war with Kamoria is brewing and Pool their only hope – but whose side is he really on?

Teach him to love, my Neekra. Do not let him burn us.

It was lovely to have you on MTA, Jackie! Wishing you all the best and hopefully you can return to all of your fun activities very soon. – Camilla

Where to find the books:

The Sword of Red –  Amazon.

Dougal Daley – I’m Phenomenal:  All good bookshops or direct from the publisher. https://www.wackybeebooks.com/product/dougal-daley-im-phenomenal/

Connect with Jackie:

Website https://www.jackiemarchant.com/

Trailer – Sword of Red –

Trailer – Dougal Daley series

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JMarchantAuthor

YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/marchantjackie

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