Meet the Author: The Last Day of June by Edward Yeoman

Today we travel to a small stone house just outside Caunes Minervois, in the South of France, to chat with Edward Yeoman about how a science background, a portfolio career, naturism, being a storyteller, a love of music, a bee, olive trees, running a holiday gite, Portugal, and the Indian Ocean come together as part of Edward’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I did the school and university thing, a science background, before having decided what I wanted to do. As a result, I had a bit of a portfolio career; as the current term for jumping from one line of work to another is described. Then I retired, invented Ted Bun and started writing stories about a naturist policeman, a series of light, amusing romances.

Other stories followed, most involving naturism, but some not. There was a story I wanted to write that was more serious.

That story was “The Last Day of June”.

It is very different, no naked people, no big laughs. So different I decided to bring myself out of retirement and publish in my given name.

Currently, you can find me living, with my wife, in a small stone house just outside Caunes Minervois, in the South of France.

In which genre do you write?

This is fun!

I can’t settle on what genre the Last Day of June fits into … I’d go for Romance if pushed or Historical Fiction or Political Fiction or Family Fiction. The one thing I’m sure of, it is definitely Fiction.

Romance or Romantic Comedy or Cosy Crime would encompass most of the rest of my output; (as Ted Bun) The Uncovered Policeman is a love story in ten parts and another one in two parts. Even my Dystopian Fiction piece has an undoubtedly romantic thread running through it.

How many published books do you have?

This is my first in my real name … however Ted Bun has 25 books out, plus several Short Stories on Kindle.

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

I am not really an author. I am a storyteller. I write my stories down to share my amusement with other people.

It started with a play on BBC Radio 4, I was in the car and had an appointment to keep. Be late or hear the end of the play? I was professional and missed the ending. Stuck in traffic on the way home I made up my version of the ending.

Years later I had the time to compose whole narratives.

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

My love of music, that results in songs being referenced (note referenced never quoted!) through my books. A tool I use for giving a feel of time and place or to put ideas into my characters heads.

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

A Bee.

The female lead in my first story is named Beatrice, Bea. Ashe developed into the character that I built a world around. A character that influences the lives of others, even people she never meets.

The Bee, of course, is an industrious creature and I try to match its work rate!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It is a warm sunny corner of the garden, near the swimming pool. The nightingales are giving it large in the olive trees that protect the area from public gaze. There is a comfortable sunlounger and a small table with room for a cool drink, a notebook and a pencil.

I create stories in my head, sometimes even redrafting them three or four times before I commit them to the keyboard, sometimes days later. I am after all a storyteller, not an author!

What are you currently reading?

On the recommendation of my wife, The Chateau of Illusions by Guy Hibbert, a story set in France during roughly the same period as The Last Day of June. I am only halfway through and it is keeping me engaged.

If it is the same story … I published first!

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

One autumn evening in 1974, I sat on the Dining Hall floor in Elliott College at the University of Kent, Canterbury to watch a concert performance by Al Stewart.

During the show, he performed most of the songs from his just-released album “Past, Present and Future.” Out of all the incredibly good material he performed that night two songs stuck out for the wonderful images they created in my mind’s eye. “Soho, Needless to Say” was one, the other was the inspiration for this book “The Last Day of June 1934”.

 

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

My wife and I run a holiday gite in the summer. I’m kept busy looking after the pool and the gardens plus cooking for our guests a couple of times a week.

During the winter we cuddle up in front of the log burner.

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

Companionship, I joined a writer’s group, here in the Occitanie. We find a great deal of pleasure in sharing and critiquing each other’s work. Even in the dark days of ‘Le Confinement’ we have carried on through the medium of Zoom!

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

For three years I ran a holiday centre in Portugal, the place was only held together by the paint that my team of helpers applied every spring. Despite that, there was a special spirit about the place.

I took that spirit and transferred into a setting that matched it. The fictional L’Abeille Nue resort that becomes the location of many of Ted Bun’s books.

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

Would you believe it was Shirley Valentine. As I was writing Problems and Passions I found that there were echoes of my memory of the film and the story I was writing. I finished the final draft, then watched the film. I decided that there was enough clear, blue water between the two stories for Pauline Collins and Melody Fabricant (my heroine) to swim safely.

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

Somewhere in the Indian Ocean. The sun is setting on what has been a hot, clear, da. I am sitting on the deck of boat, a cold drink in hand watching the flying fish playing in the wake.

Something I have always wanted to do since reading a very old book of my father’s. It was about two children on the old Queen Mary, a toy sailor and falling into a book they were looking at. I think it must have been published during the Second World War from one picture.

What are you currently working on?

I am writing my first YA Fantasy story in between a new story for crime busters (Mick) Cooke and (Samantha) Loch and a cookery book (don’t ask!)

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Last Day of June was inspired by the 1974 song by Al Stewart, The Last Day of June 1934.

Each of the three verses is a beautifully described vignette of the day from the point of view of three young men: a French farm labourer, a well-to-do English socialite and a young German. The three verses inspire the first three chapters of story. From there we follow the main characters through the years.

From the Night of the Long Knives, when forces loyal to Hitler removed all effective opposition to his rule in a single bloody night – 30th June 1934. Through the brutality of World War 2 into the years of peace that followed. They fall in love, have children and grow older. Their lives intertwining, bringing them closer … again!

It was great having you on MTA, and learning more about your books and background. Wishing you all the best, Edward! – Camilla

The blurb

On the notorious Night of the Long Knives forces loyal to Adolph Hitler moved to eliminate opposition and challengers to Hitler’s position as leader of the Nazi party. Eighty-five political figures were executed without trial. The threatening power of the irregular SA, the thuggish Brown Shirts, was curtailed. Any potential opposition had lost all senior leadership overnight. In a single swift action, Hitler had consolidated power in his hands. The date?

Last Day of June 1934

Three narratives, each starting from an image inspired by a verse of the Al Stewart song ‘The Last Day of June 1934’ twist and cross over the years that follow.

The decades roll past; dangerous times. times for loving, sad times, times of joy, lives lived.

A journey through the sixty years that saw Europe torn apart through warfare and rebuilt; from the viewpoints of three very different families!

“I started to read it and couldn’t put it down!” Robert Whiston-Crisp

“Definitely a book to curl up with as the nights draw in.” Richard Savin author of the Girl In The Bakers Van

“War is hell, yet stories about the war can be fascinating” An American reader

“WOW” Bryce Mclean, USA

Where to find the book:

http://mybook.to/LDJune

or

The Shop Counter

Who is Edward Yeoman

Edward Yeoman is the given name of Ted Bun. The writer of the highly successful Uncovered Policeman books and many more 5 star reviewed stories.

Connect with Edward:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Mr_Ted_Bun

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mrbuns49/

Amazon: author.to/TedBun

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Friday with Friends: Writing Inspired by Travels – Lynne Shelby

Strolling along the banks of the Seine on a summer evening, I knew that this scene – the river almost too bright to look at, the lengthening shadows, the young couples sitting on the stone quay, their legs dangling over the water, the murmur of French conversation, the Eiffel Tower a silhouette on the Paris skyline – was one I wanted to capture in my writing.

Of course, these days it’s possible to research a location on-line, but I love travelling, and if I can, I like to visit the place I’m writing about to absorb the atmosphere – the scents and sounds that you can’t get from a video on the internet. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris, one of my favourite cities several times, but when I was writing the Paris chapters of my debut novel, French Kissing, I knew I had to visit it again. In the book, Anna, who is English, accompanies Alexandre, who is French, to Paris so that he can show her the city he adores, and I wanted to see the city through her eyes, and to make certain that their route through the city, could be followed by anyone exploring Paris for the first time – not that I need an excuse to visit Paris!

It was some years since I’d last visited the city, and as I walked the same route as my characters, I realised I’d forgotten the color of the bouquinistes on the Left Bank (dark green), how loud is the roar of the traffic as it circles the Place de la Concorde, and also how beautiful the Eiffel Tower looks when it glitters at night – all things that ended up in the book. And it was only when I was climbing up the steep winding streets of Montmartre, looking at all the typically Parisian apartments, with their French windows and iron balconies, that I knew this was where Alexandre lived.

It was a trip abroad that inspired the location of my current WIP. When I travelled from London to Athens and then on to Santorini, Crete and Kefalonia – my first visit to Greece – I knew I simply had to write a novel set in this beautiful country. I took lots of photos, wrote brief descriptions of white sugar-cube houses and silvery-leaved olive groves in my writer’s notebook, and also made quick pencil sketches – I find that drawing a scene means that I notice all sorts of details that hopefully will give my story a real sense of place when I’m back home in England, writing on my laptop.

Looking now at the sketches I did of the places I visited in Greece – beaches with black volcanic sand, glorious views from a hill top in Athens, fascinating ruins of ancient Greek temples – I can feel again the fierce heat of the Mediterranean sun, and the hear the chirping of cicadas, and this all helps me to recreate the scene in my writing.

Not everything I see on my travels makes it into my stories, but it’s all there in the back of mind, inspiring me as I write.

It was wonderful having you share your inspiration, Lynne! I can certainly understand how these locations were so inspiring. Here’s hoping for many more travels once things have settled. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

To see Lynne’s interview previously posted, go here:

Meet the Author: There She Goes by Lynne Shelby

Biography:

Lynne Shelby writes contemporary romance/women’s fiction. When not writing or reading, she can usually be found in the audience at a theatre or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Seattle, Reykjavik, Athens – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband and has three adult children who live nearby.

Her novels are available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Connect with Lynne:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LynneShelbyWriter

Twitter: @LynneB1

Instagram: lynneshelbywriter

Website: www.lynneshelby.com

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Meet the Author: The Wake by Vikki Patis

Today we travel to Herford, UK, to chat with Vikki Patis about how two grumpy cats, a wild golden retriever puppy, the curly girl method, music playlists, Cornwall, and fibromyalgia come together as part of Vikki’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an author of psychological suspense, and I also work in the medical device industry. I live in Herford, UK, with my partner, two grumpy cats and a wild golden retriever puppy. I have coeliac disease and fibromyalgia, and I follow the curly girl method. I run The Bandwagon (thebandwagonvp.wordpress.com/) and the Psychological Suspense Authors’ Association.

In which genre do you write?

I write psychological suspense novels, but I’ve recently started my first gothic historical fiction. It’s quite exciting to try something new!

How many published books do you have?

Four so far (The Diary, The Girl Across the Street, Girl, Lost, and The Wake), with one self-published short story collection, Weltanschauung, and my BSc dissertation was published by Lambert Publishing too.

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

Every book I write has its own music playlist. I only really listen to music when I’m writing, and often listen to a specific playlist when I’m driving or walking the dog to get me ‘in the zone’. The playlists are always random, I just pick songs which seem to fit.

What are you currently reading?

I’m listening to the audiobook of The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, and I’m probably going to reread NOS4R2 by Joe Hill at some point during the spooky season!

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

Probably Isla from The Girl Across the Street, just to live through that ending and discover what happens afterwards (no spoilers!). I’d make sure she had a happy ending though, she deserves it.

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

I absolutely love Cornwall. Who doesn’t? I lived in Plymouth as a student and spent a lot of time on both sides of the Tamar. It’s just a beautiful place to be. It’s where I feel most at peace.

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

1. Are you happy? 2. Are our favourite places to walk your favourite too? 3. Why are you always wet?

What are you currently working on?

I’m just about to start rewriting a book which had been out on submission for almost all of this year, and is being published next summer. I’m excited to dive back into it!

It was wonderful learning more about you and having you be a part of MTA! Wishing you all the best, Vikki! – Camilla

Book blurb:

The Wake
Blood isn’t always thicker than water…

In the wake of Richard Asquith’s death, his family come together to say goodbye.

The Daughter
Skye hasn’t seen her father in years. Can she ever forgive him for what he did?

The Daughter-in-Law
Lexi hopes her secrets have died with Richard. Can she keep the truth to herself forever?

The Mistress
Eleanor is heartbroken, but is her grief clouding her judgement?

The Celebrant
James has had enough of death. Can he give Richard the send-off he deserves?

Everyone has something to hide, but buried secrets always surface…

Where to find the book:
Amazon link (affiliate): https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1913419924/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=1913419924&linkCode=as2&tag=vikkipatisaut-21&linkId=388b2393cf825453cebfd48affd09095

Connect with Vikki:

Author website: www.vikkipatisauthor.com
Blog: https://thebandwagonvp.wordpress.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/vikkipatis
Instagram: www.instagram.com/vikkipatisauthor
Twitter: @VikkiPatis

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Meet the Author: Story Power by Kate Farrell

Today we travel to San Francisco to chat with Kate Farrell about how using storytelling as a teaching tool, Scholastic, memoir anthologies, walking, meditating, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, motherhood, and telling stories from the heart come together as part of Kate’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was a storyteller at an early age. By age ten, I’d tacked signs on telephone poles in my neighborhood, announcing my fairytale play. As a first year teacher, I stumbled on storytelling as the best way to teach literature to inner city kids. By 1970, I’d honed the skill as a new librarian, and in the 1980s, funded and trained teachers in a CA state-wide storytelling project—and published educational materials on the art with big name publishers, like Scholastic and Highlights for Children.

In the ever-evolving world of storytelling, I understood by 2005, that personal narrative was the new folklore—so, I wrote and edited memoir anthologies. My work is a bridge in storytelling: from traditional folklore to authentic, personal tales. I live in downtown San Francisco.

In which genre do you write?

Personal narrative, and how-to tell stories of personal narratives.

How many published books do you have?

Eight

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Small, but with a view of the sky and changing weather

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

The idea for Story Power came from a how-to book I published exactly 40 years ago.

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

Reading, walking, meditating, Zooming with family and friends

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot or to help you remember something if writing a memoir?

Visited a small town along the Mississippi Gulf Coast that no longer exists, swept away by hurricanes Camille and Katrina. I directed my friend who had offered to take me there from New Orleans to drive around in circles until we found the one, single building that had survived: the county bank, a stone, two-story, antique building, possibly with a steel vault in the basement. Once I discovered that one remaining relic, I knew I was not insane: there had been a town here. We’d lived right across the street from that bank in the French colonial town of Pass Christian.

I grew up in the Jackson, Mississippi area, with many holidays spent on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My maternal grandmother lived in Gulfport when I was very young. Found memories … thanks for stirring them up! – Camilla

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

Motherhood! I gave birth to a strapping baby boy when I was 40 years old and found myself with a handful: an active baby, precocious both mentally and physically. I had to watch him every minute or he’d climb out the window. He barely slept; was curious; loved books and storytelling. His dark brown, almost black eyes were filled with joy and enthusiasm for life. Such a miracle, strong and brilliant! He’s now on a motorcycle tour of the Ecuadorian Andes and will soon return. At home in the world, he has given me joy in his feats, and the courage to accomplish success on my own.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What do you do to prepare yourself?

Since I am a storyteller, I don’t read from my book, Story Power, I tell stories by heart. Lately I like to practice with Zoom, record, and playback. In that way, I can watch for gestures, eye contact, pacing, and when to pause.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

My book, Story Power, has nine themes, suggested types of personal stories that are often popular. I choose one or two themes, and prepare to tell a summarized version of a story and discuss its value. For general discussion and talking points, I will often record these on my phone and listen to them before the event.

What are you currently working on?

I’m writing my own full-length memoir, calling it ONCE: MEMOIR OF A STORYTELLER.

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

To believe that my ability and enjoyment of solitude is my greatest strength and solace, from childhood to old age.

It was wonderful learning more about you, Kate! And, a pleasure to have you on MTA. I plan on adding your book to my ‘to be read’ list. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Book Blurb

Reconnect Through Stories. Stories are everywhere. The art of storytelling has been around as long as humans have. And in today’s noisy, techie, automated world, storytelling is not only prevalent—it’s vital. Whether you’re interested in enlivening conversation, building your business brand, sharing family wisdom, or performing on stage, Story Power will show you how to make use of a good story.

Connect with Kate:

Website: https://katefarrell.net/
Blog: https://storytellingforeveryone.net/

Social Media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kate-Farrell-Storyteller-330923030933184
Twitter: @KateStoryteller

I also present workshops and talks on the art of storytelling for a variety of groups, from the general public to writers, educators to business leaders.

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Meet the Author: Sweet Jane by Joanne Kukanza Easley

Today we travel to the Texas Hill Country to chat with Joanne Easley about how rescue terriers, swimming, walks to watch the wildlife, 1940’s New York City, Indiana Jones, and NANOWRIMO come together as part of Joanne’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a retired Registered Nurse who lives and writes on a small ranch in the Texas Hill Country. My three little rescue terriers enjoy our daily walks to watch the wildlife. I swim three times a week in an indoor pool and rarely miss.

In which genre do you write?

Literary Fiction about complicated women who eventually figure things out.

How many published books do you have?

Sweet Jane was released in March 2020 and Just One Look will be released in June 2021.

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

I wanted to be a writer since childhood, but I didn’t start writing in earnest until my twenties. I took a writing workshop and it inspired me. However, I didn’t get serious about getting published until I retired.

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

I write a fairly clean first draft. Could be I’m a little OCD.

What are you currently reading?

Right now, I’m beta reading a novel for a friend of mine.

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

Just One Look was inspired by growing up in a tight-knit southside Chicago neighborhood in the sixties and seventies. I assure my family and friends this is a work of fiction.

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

I walk my dogs daily and swim laps (a mile and a quarter) three times a week. The pool is 25 miles away from my rural location, but I rarely miss.

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 sit down with Pat Conroy and ask him about character development.

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 like to walk a mile in Lauren Eaton’s shoes. She’s Sweet Jane’s AA sponsor who never does tell Jane her story, but I’m doing so in my current work-in-progress I’ll Be Seeing You. I’d time travel to 1940 New York City to see the sights and make sure I get the historical details right in my novel.

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

I binge-watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade because I was feeling nostalgic.

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

I’d go to a lovely restaurant with outdoor service where I’d sit under a live oak in the shade. The weather would be sunny, 82 degrees, with a light northerly breeze. I’d drink hibiscus mint iced tea and order fish tacos.

What are you currently working on?

I’m in the final stages of editing Just One Look. I’m about halfway through the first draft of I’ll Be Seeing You- the Lauren Eaton story. This month, I’m doing NANOWRIMO for the third time. I’ll do a new project tentatively titled A Question Of Temperature, a story about four women of a certain age.

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

Sweet Jane is a dual narrative novel which starts in 1957 Odessa, Texas when Janie is six years old. The book alternates first person chapters of Jane’s past with third person chapters in 1984 Austin, Texas, and traces the events that made her the woman she is. Jane fled her miserable home in 1967, hitchhiking to California right on time for the Summer of Love. She creates a life that looks perfect from the outside, but when she returns to Odessa for her estranged mother’s funeral, the past and present collide. You’ll have to read the book to see what happens.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Joanne. That hibiscus mint iced tea sounds so good and refreshing! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Part of review from Diana Donovan of Midwest Book Review: Readers who delve into Sweet Jane will appreciate its candid appraisal of a woman who never gives up, confronting her own family history in an effort to find true love and purpose as she fights for dreams that sometimes seem impossible.

As Jane’s evolution is traced, audiences will appreciate the process of survival, abuse, enabling, and discovery that propel Jane and her readers into new revelations. Sweet Jane’s ability to take a family mystery and follow its roots and wings makes it an outstandingly warm read that is hard to put down and, like its protagonist, easy to love.

Where to find the book:

Available as a paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and as an ebook on Amazon.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sweet-jane-joanne-easley/1134913991?ean=9781684334438

Social media links:

https://www.facebook.com/J.Easleywrites/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19740201.Joanne_Kukanza_Easley

https://www.instagram.com/joanneeasleywriter/

Website:

Home page

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Meet the Author: The Deadly Truth by Valerie Keogh

Today we travel to Wiltshire, UK to chat with Valerie Keogh about how being a nurse, the Trans Siberian railway, Cape Town, a donkey, anchovies, Star Trek, ice cream in Lynmouth, and pizza in Giudecca come together as part of Valerie’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m from Dublin but live in Wiltshire, UK, about 10 miles from Bath. I qualified as a nurse and worked as one until 2018 when I gave it up to write full time. I also, in my time, worked as a sales representative for a medical company. Plus I went to university as a mature student and obtained a BA in English and an MA in American Literature. I come from a family of 9, I’m the one below the middle child. I don’t have children but I’m slave to a fat cat called Fatty Arbuckle. I love to travel – many years ago, before I married, I took 3months off and travelled around the world, taking the Trans Siberian railway from Moscow to Beijing as the first step, then on to Australia, Fiji, Hawaii and to the US where I hired a car. I loved every minute. My current favourite places are Venice, India and Cape Town.

In which genre do you write?

I write crime and psychological thrillers. I’d like to write science fiction – some day.

How many published books do you have?

I currently have 15 books for sale on Amazon – five of which are independently published. Two are with Bookouture and the remainder with Bloodhound Books to whom I’m currently under contract.

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

I always wanted to be a writer but it wasn’t until I saw the headlights of 50 shining in my eyes that I realised if I didn’t stop dreaming about it and actually write that it would stay a dream. So I wrote a full length book, and when it was finished, I started the next. And I haven’t stopped writing since.

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

The writing community – it’s an amazingly supportive, kind and generous community of people who all want to do one thing – write. I have made some really good friends some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to have met, and some of whom I may never meet but we are still good friends. Since writing, by its very nature, is a solitary occupation, having a network of like-minded people is invaluable.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1. I’m an absolute coward – something I discovered the first time when on a mule ride in the Grand Canyon – I hung on to the poor mule’s mane and didn’t look left or right. Embarrassingly, on the mule in front of me was a very young girl who had no problems at all. I saw nothing of the scenery, just the back of the mules neck. I went on a huge roller coaster in Hong Kong many years ago because my husband Robert wanted to go – I screamed the whole way around despite never opening my eyes.

2. I absolutely love Star Trek – the original series, Generations and Voyager.

3. I’m a nightmare to invite for dinner – having been at a number of embarrassing meals where I couldn’t eat anything, I now forewarn the cook! And just in case anyone is going to invite me – I don’t eat melon, cucumber, green beans, sweetcorn, anchovies, olives, pickles, coriander, cheddar cheese, oysters or offal.

Star Trek fan, here! I love The Next Generation. I can’t wait for the next season of Picard! – Camilla

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

I watched an old favourite last night – Separate Tables- with the amazing David Niven and Deborah Kerr. A black and white movie – it has a host of other stars including Burt Lancaster and Rita Hayworth but it is David Niven’s part that is stunning – a part for which he won an Oscar. It’s a slowly paced movie that depends on subtle facial expressions, and impeccably delivered lines.

This looks interesting! I’m adding it to my watch list. – Camilla 

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

Yes, I think they do – I am a great believer in Fate. Late 2017 I was fired from a nursing job, and was subject to an investigation by the nursing board – the case against me was dropped and I was cleared of any wrong doing but it was a very traumatic experience. During this time I decided, once again, to submit one of my books to a publisher. A few months later I signed my first publishing contract and several months later I gave up nursing for good.

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

Dear Fatty Arbuckle – why do you run up the road when I know you want to come in, forcing me to come after you and pick you up and carry you back? And why do you always wait until I am curled up on the sofa before demanding to be let out? And finally, why do you like a brand of cat food one week, and turn your nose up at it the next?

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

Lynmouth in Devon is my current favourite place to visit and we go for a week every year. It has amazing walks along rivers, through woodland, on hilltops – some flat, some incredibly steep where I swear I’m never going again – till the next time. Wonderful ice cream, lovely restaurants. Blissful.

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

When we go to Venice we stay on the little island of Giudecca – there’s a restaurant there and you can sit looking across the Grand Canal to St Marks. This is where I would go – in August, around 8pm, so it’s still warm but the lights are starting to come on, and I’d sit there, drink red wine, eat a pizza, and probably think about the next book I’m going to write.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a psychological thriller which will be published by Bloodhound Books in Feb 2021.

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

My most recent book is also a psychological thriller – it came out in September. The Deadly Truth tells the story of Melanie, who is trying to make up for something in her past by living the best life she can. But she finds that her past is catching up with her.

It was wonderful to learn more about you and Fatty Arbuckle, and a pleasure to have you on MTA, Valerie. Sending you hugs, and wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Blurb:

Someone from her past wants to destroy her future…

When Melanie Scott is promoted to junior partner, she thinks she has put her past behind her and while out celebrating her promotion, she meets the handsome and charming Oliver Field.

Melanie has her doubts and is haunted by her mother’s critical voice, which reminds her that she’s messed up before. But when Oliver invites her for dinner, she buries her feeling and accepts his invitation.

She deserves the chance of happiness, doesn’t she?

However, the past she thought she left behind resurfaces when she receives an email containing a name; Anne Edwards. A name she thought she’d left behind.

When the emails escalate, she knows she has to find out who is behind them, but at what cost?

Melanie is about to learn that the past will now shape her future forever…

Where to buy:

mybook.to/TheDeadlyTruth

Social media:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ValerieKeogh1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/valeriekeogh2

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Meet the Author: First Second Coming by Jeff Pollak

Today we travel to La Crescenta, California to chat with Jeff Pollak about how New Jersey’s Palisades, a career as a trial lawyer, a profitable high school investment, a great sense of humor, Santa Fe, Gaby Moreno, and song titles as chapter titles come together as part of Jeff’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was raised in an apartment building in Riverdale, where the view out the window encompassed the Henry Hudson Bridge spanning the Bronx and Manhattan, and the East River below it. Beyond the bridge I could see the Hudson River and the sheer walls of New Jersey’s Palisades. It was a priceless view that my child’s eye considered entirely routine.

Although I lost my father when I was three and my mother at age sixteen, overall my childhood was a happy one. I lived briefly with an uncle before leaving for college in Buffalo and, afterward, law school in Los Angeles. Once admitted to the California Bar, I embarked on a 35 year career as a trial lawyer.

My lovely wife, Carol, and I raised a wonderful son, Tyler. He currently works for Microsoft and lives in Seattle. At the moment Carol and I live in La Crescenta, California (a suburb of L.A.). We plan to move to San Diego before the next “fire season” starts.

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

One of the high school classes I took while living with my uncle was in economics. The term paper called for the class to invest an imaginary $1,000 in the stock market, track the investment for the full six month term, and write a paper on how we fared. We were completely free to buy and sell as we wished, since imaginary money was the currency in use.

As the project got underway I mentioned it to my uncle, who offered to provide $1,000 in real moolah. I invested it in a few different companies, one being Comsat – short for communication satellites, which were just getting off the ground at the time. Over the six month period I netted $30,000 and received an A+ grade. (My uncle got his thousand bucks back, by the way.) I used the rest of the money to pay my own way through my first two years of college.

Which of your personality traits have been most useful, and why?

One useful trait is the ability to stay calm under stress. That’s handy during trials. My nickname within my law firm was Zen Master, or ZM. The other trait is a great sense of humor.

In court I’d use both traits. An example: In the jury selection phase of the case, trial lawyers look for jurors who are biased and therefore unable to serve, among other things. The first time I address the jury during this process, I’d introduce myself this way: “Hi, my name is Jeff Pollak. I represent ‘X.’ I have a question that goes to your biases. Please raise your hand if you are biased against lawyers who are bald or slightly overweight.” That question never failed to elicit laughter throughout the courtroom, even from the judge and opposing counsel. Usually the jury would be on my side from that point to the trial’s end.

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

Most Americans asked this question would probably say Hawaii, but I’ll pick Santa Fe, New Mexico. The state as a whole has unique culture, harmoniously mixing the influences of the native American Indian tribes, the Spanish settlers and the eventually dominant frontiersmen. While Albuquerque, Taos and Las Cruces have their charms, Santa Fe is the crown jewel of the state, and its capital city. Renowned worldwide for its artistic community, Santa Fe offers incredible cuisine, numerous museums, Pueblo-style architecture, a traditional plaza that dates back to the early 1600’s, and so much more.

I first visited Santa Fe during a break in law school to visit a college friend who lived in Albuquerque at the time. I was immediately enchanted, and have remained that way through every visit since. Regardless of the time of the year of my visits, I know I’m in a special place.

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

The main thing I do is write some more. One novel I’m working on is the sequel to First Second Coming. Earth’s Peril is the working title. The second book, called The Recycling Center, is a spin-off to First Second Coming. Otherwise, I play golf every week, weather permitting. I also watch baseball and hockey games, read books and hike daily.

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

First Second Coming, my debut novel, is a supernatural romantic suspense novel that mixes three genres – fantasy, romance and suspense. As I write this, the book has a rating of 4.8 stars (out of 5), and a 4.56 rating on Goodreads, so I’ll provide a couple of review excerpts from book bloggers and Amazon customers to give you an idea of the plot:

Nathalie the Biblioholic: “When the new God comes to Earth to issue his edict, He makes use of Ram [Forrester] and Brendali [Santamaria] and their local talk show. What does He want? For starters, He gives the world 60 days to end religious violence. . . . Amidst kidnappings, murder attempts, the mystery surrounding a terror group, and a ton of drama, Ram and Brendali find the time to fall in love. The author depicts their love as something organic and beautiful. They find joy even in the middle of utter chaos. . . .”

K. Pilai, purchaser: “I found it to be a really engaging read based on an extraordinary premise, a fantastic supernatural suspense with a great romance. The idea that the old god retires and a new one steps in is thought provoking, and the way that the humans of earth handle the situation is very well thought out. I highly recommend it!”

Samantha Turley, Blogger: “Wow, what a book. It will make you think and suck you in. The story itself was well done and kept me hanging on the entire book. This was heightened by descriptions that were distinct and a plot that was well paced. The cherry on the top was that the characters were charismatic and drew the reader in. Solid plot, fabulous writing.”

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

When my son graduated from college in 2015, he had a well-paying job waiting for him and didn’t need mom and dad’s support. I had to decide how much longer I wanted to do trial work and what I’d do in retirement. After some reflection, I decided to try my hand at writing fiction. I’d always been an avid reader, and trial law is writing intensive, so this seemed sensible.

I set out to write as an avocation – a way to bide my time when not at the golf course. I didn’t expect to write anything that would be published someday. However, people urged me to publish First Second Coming because of its unique plot. I resisted at first, but eventually gave in.

Where did the idea for your book come from?

9/11 inspired First Second Coming. My law firm did annual conferences each May for clients in the New York/New Jersey area. The World Trade Center’s conference center at the top of the building was where we did them. I had clients in the building, some of whom didn’t survive. While I watched the WTC collapse from the safety of my home, a random thought came to mind: Earth needs a new god – a planetary turnaround specialist.

That idle thought returned in 2015, once I decided to write fiction. It had grown into a rudimentary plot, two main characters with names and full histories and three possible endings. All this spewed out in one sitting in front of a blank white computer screen.

In which genre do you write?

I call First Second Coming a supernatural romantic suspense novel, and as far as I know I’m the only one writing in this genre. Of the three genres it comprises, romance was a surprise. Brendali, my female main character, began talking to me roughly midway through the first draft. She’d narrate what was happening in the book, one chapter after another – often waking me at 4:00 a.m. to start the day. Her version of events often varied from mine but I gave her free reign, subject to my editing pen. She and Ram, my male main character, were mutually attracted. That increased the prominence of the romance aspect of the story.

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

In one word: music. I’m a big fan of many genres. Music gets me closer to my characters. When I’m writing a chapter that Ram’s narrating, I listen to his favorite musicians, notably Eric Clapton. Listening to any Clapton-related song gets me on a clear channel into Ram’s head. Although Brendali and I have a very strong connection at all times, I play Latin rock and pop when drafting the chapters written in Brendali’s point of view. She’s a very strong-willed character who sometimes tells me which specific songs she wants to hear. She brought one Latina singer who is a spectacular talent to my attention – Gaby Moreno. Her renditions of Quizas, Quizas, Quizas, or La Malagueña, as well as many of her own tunes, are jaw dropping.

I also use song titles as chapter titles, to give the reader a little hint about what’s in the chapter he or she is about to read.

What are you currently reading?

One of my favorite authors is David Mitchell. Fellow top-rank author Ursula K. LeGuin once described his writing as “relentlessly brilliant.” That’s true. I was introduced to him through his best book to date, The Bone Clocks, and proceeded to Cloud Atlas (made into a terrible movie) and his newest, Utopia Avenue. I’m now reading his 2010 novel, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, called The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. It’s fascinating.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

I’ve been making the rounds on radio and podcasts to promote First Second Coming. To prepare for these interviews, I listen to a smattering of the station’s archived interviews to get a sense of the interviewer’s style and the kinds of questions he or she asks. From that I prepare a sheet with mock answers to the questions that get repeated across the interviews I’ve heard. That’s about it – I know my book, my background, etc. I’m nimble enough to answer any other question thrown at me on the fly.

It was a pleasure having you on MTA and wonderful to learn more about you, Jeff. Wishing you all the best, with much success with your books! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

In 2027 our New Testament God retires after two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. His replacement, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether homo-sapiens should be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy’s planetary operation standards.

The new God introduces himself to mankind by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaria, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God’s interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his turnaround plan. Those attending must eliminate religious violence forever, without heavenly help, before the conference ends. Failure means humanity’s extinction.

God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must Ram and Bren attend by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a group of religious fanatics determined to kill them for promoting a false god. When conflicts within the conference intensify, Ram and Bren must do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and assure mankind’s survival.

Where to find the book:

Universal book link: https://books2read.com/u/47XNMg

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/First-Second-Coming-New-God/dp/1947392956

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/first-second-coming

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/first-second-coming/id1520329970?uo=4&mt=11&at=1010l9S2

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/466880106/First-Second-Coming-BOOK-ONE-IN-THE-NEW-GOD-SERIES

24symbols: https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=3520151

Angus & Robertson (Australia): https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/ebooks/first-second-coming-jeff-pollak/p/9781393998044

Vivlio (France): https://www.vivlio.fr/ebooks/first-second-coming-9781393998044_9781393998044_10020.html

Connect with Jeff:

Website: jeffpollak.com
Facebook: JeffPollak, author
Twitter: @JSPollak

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Friday with Friends: I Could Never Be A Writer – Holly Bell

10 Breadcrumbs to Sunken Madley

How does a writer get from illiteracy to writing a cozy paranormal mystery series set in the quaint English village of Sunken Madley?

1. The Trail Begins Here

We are all born illiterate. So before I could read, I was read to, mostly by my brother, some years older than I and the best of siblings. He must have shared his love of the written word with me from my infancy, because I can’t remember a time before he did just that. He would mark the words with his finger as he read. The letters were mystical symbols to me that somehow had the power to grant expression of the story to the one who had the skill. The book I loved the most and asked for again and again was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis, first of the Narnia books.

This fired my imagination like no other story. Treasure Island, fairy tales, Robinson Crusoe and the rest, were all set in the past or in a far off land or make-believe. But the Pevensie children existed in both the reality of the present and a fantastical world of magic. Away from the novel, in my mind, I was off on expeditions through the wardrobe that were all my own. I began reinterpreting the stories, changing and what-if-ing the plot. The characters became part of my imaginary world.

2. A Reader

I started school at four. While at what was styled ‘Infants School, I learned to begin deciphering the magic runes. Not that I learned at school. In fact, during the 11 or so years of compulsory education, I recall acquiring only one fact: the difference between U-shaped and V-shaped valleys, which information has, naturally, stood me in good stead.

One day, our terrifying form teacher began reading to us, his hapless class. As he was refraining from bellowing, hurling objects or striking students, we naturally regarded this as a good thing and listened quietly and attentively. The book was a slow starter, but it had a new word in it, a new species and I was enchanted.


(Hobbit House in New Zealand)

JRR Tolkien had entered my life, for good, with The Hobbit. Rather than wait for the laborious read-aloud when my preceptor felt like delivering it to us, I acquired a copy, and the slow start gathered speed. I learned to read the runes on his map and came to know Bilbo’s route by heart. For the length of the story, I took up residence in The Shire and journeyed through perilous lands to the book’s glorious ending.

3. I Discover Treasure

At home, one thing there was a-plenty: books. Among some battered paperbacks, I found the mystery genre: Agatha Christie, with the title that was to become Ten Little Indians or And Then There Were None. The ingenious plot assembles a party of strangers onto a remote English island, where one after another is found murdered. I was fascinated and soon was seeking the shelves at home, the library and the bookshop for more and more Christie. I feasted, and over the years repeatedly returned to the table for the banquet. What I did not know was that I had met the writer who would one day be hailed as the queen, the godmother, of a new genre: cozy mystery.


(Agatha Christie)

4. Golden Heyer

I began a new school where, at the age of 11, the girl I sat next to gave me a priceless gift. She introduced me to works of the historical novelist Georgette Heyer. A romance writer? You may say with surprise. Yes, because here was a new rich seam of literary delight with Jane Austen-style wit. Book after book in her canon filled my shelves, my mind and heart. I even discovered mysteries among her Regency tales in Cousin Kate and The Toll Gate.

5. Alastair

About this time, my brother showed me one of the action thrillers of Alastair MacClean. Spellbound, I began reading book after book. However, it was the eerie Puppet on a Chain that became my favourite to such an extent that I studied the Netherlands and began learning Dutch.

6. The Return of the King

It was time. The moment had come to unite me with what was to become my all-time favourite book: The Lord of the Rings. Of course, thanks to my brother. We read it at the same time, working our way through the three volumes, picking up a book when the other was busy. For the days it took us to read from first volume cover to third volume close, we talked and thought of little else. JRR Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth was more real to me than reality.


(Lord of the Rings – The One Ring)

7. Medieval Mystery

I can’t recall exactly who told me about them, but it was definitely a good fairy in human guise: The Cadfael novels, set in the twelfth century and beginning with A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters. The writing impressed me in particular because Peters has her monk sleuth solve crimes with only the aid of such technology that was available at the time. On the library shelf next to Ellis was a book by Elizabeth Peters that accidentally checked out one day. A whole new series, this time of archaeological whodunits was now at my fingertips.

8. Sir Terry


(Terry Pratchett)

Knowing I liked science fiction and mysteries, one day, my brother asked me if I’d heard of the Discworld. No. The what? It sounded rather weird at first, but this was my brother recommending it after all. And so, I read The Light Fantastic. I wanted more mystery and shenanigans in the peculiar flat earth of Sir Terry Pratchett’s imaginings. (Photo by Luigi Novi) Eventually, I had read the back catalogue and longed for the moment when the next novel was released.

The book above all that books that captured my heart was the third in the ‘Witches’ series. Witches Abroad is a road movie of a tale as Granny Weatherwax makes her way through foreign fairytale-gone-wrong parts. These of the Witches series were the stories that were to have an influence on my own yet-to-be-created magical world.

Meanwhile, I became curious about actual witches, I read about witchcraft, and later met two ghostbusters. I heard about experiences with the supernatural. I concluded witchcraft was rather a lot of work.

9. Racing Riddles

I suspect that all avid readers are also avid inspectors of other people’s bookshelves, searching for new and wondrous literary treasures. And thus, with Nerve, I think, I discovered a new pleasure. Dick Francis’ murder mysteries are set in the world of horse racing. This was not a sphere of which I had no experience. However, it was his ability to write in first person of such a diverse variety of characters that struck me. I marvelled at how Francis handled romance and intimacy with such deftness, and the cleverness of his plots.

10. The Unhappy Medium and the Happy Outcome

And then … I began to write …. non-fiction, marketing. I wrote more and more of that until I had somehow convinced myself that I was a strictly non-fiction author incapable of penning fiction. A friend kept telling me I could do it, but it was unimaginable. And then … two novels came into my experience that were to change my life.

I met the now bestselling author of The Unhappy Medium, TJ Brown. We made contact as fellow writers and quickly established a rapport. Interested in what he had penned, I read his first and, at the time, only novel. I was captivated. It had all of the components I enjoyed the most. I was bowled over by the ingenious juxtaposition of suspense and hilarity, either holding my breath or giggling helplessly.

That was the first novel. But the second was the clincher: The Unhappy Medium II: Tom Fool. Tim was writing the next in the series and, as I’d done copious amounts of editing, he asked me to top edit it for him. It was the ride of a lifetime. I went through the edits with him on the phone, frequently suffused with laughter, fascinated by the devices he was using to tell his story. I noticed the emotional terrain, and what worked and what needed tweaking. What a learning experience it was!

Tim’s judgment was: if you can do this, you can write your own novel. I was still not a believer. Then one day, on a couple of pages of a large stretch book, in a pub, Tim revealed to me the secret of plotting a novel. He made it look so easy that I believed it was.

Then came The Call. One afternoon, in November 2017. Tim had been told by a fellow author of a new genre. As soon as he heard the news, he was convinced that I could write for it: cozy mystery, and an even better fit: cozy paranormal mystery.

Soon Tim helped to plot out my first novel in the genre: Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth. I wrote the first draft in three weeks. Tim mentored me through the editing process, created the cover and the logo, and helped me conjure a map of the village. Before I knew it, it was published. Even before then, book 2 was forming in my imagination, that spawned book 3, and later 4, then the most recent, book 5, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths.

Amanda Cadabra’s homicidal witch-clan goes over a Cornish cliff when she is three. This creates what, many years later, becomes the cold case that is the story arc running thought the series. That arc comes to its finale and climax in this, the book I have just written: Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths.

And so the trail has led me home. I love, I adore, creating cozy paranormal mysteries. Nevertheless, since I’ve started writing fiction, reading anything that’s not for research has rather gone by the board. One day I’ll get back to it, but for now, I have a new trail to follow. I can’t wait to see where it takes me … and my readers.

The moral of the story? ‘I could never be a writer,’ you say? The book you’re reading today could be part of your trail of breadcrumbs to the novel that, right now, you’re convinced you could never write. Never say never.

Thank you again, Camilla.

It was wonderful to have you on Friday with Friends, Holly! I very much enjoyed following the trail of bread crumbs to Sunken Madley.

I had the same reaction the first time I read Agatha Christie. I was hooked. I read every single book she had written (may be missing one or two of the rare books), and ended with reading her autobiography.

Deeply grateful to you for this inspiring post. Wishing you all the best, always! – Camilla

To see Holly’s interview previously posted, go here:

Meet the Author: Amanda Cadabra by Holly Bell

Biography

Holly Bell is a cat and chocolate lover who lives in London and began publishing novels less than two years ago. After writing reams of non-fiction over the years, a fellow author convinced her she could write fiction. Photography and videography are also things Holly does and has done professionally and for pleasure.

Rainbows, butterflies and honeybees seem magically to show up whenever she’s outside. Holly firmly believes that we are all born storytellers and anyone can write a book, however small.

Connect with Holly:

Website: https://amandacadabra.com/

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

Twitter @holly_b_author

Pinterest: hollybell2760

Instagram: @ hollybellac

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Meet the Author: Cucina Tipica – An Italian Adventure by Andrew Cotto

Today we travel to Brooklyn, New York to chat with Andrew Cotto about how living in the hills south of Florence, being a Professor of English, The New York Times, martinis, Ernest Hemingway, Italian food and wine, being a rockstar, and having a sense of empathy come together as part of Andrew’s current and and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live and write in Brooklyn, New York. The city is my physical home as well as a source of much inspiration.

 In which genre do you write?

My genres vary – including coming-of-age, noir, and upmarket/commercial – which is probably not the best strategy for building an audience, but I tell the stories that come to me in the style in which they arrive.

How many published books do you have?

As of now, I have three published novels with two more under contract to be released in the next six months.

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

My latest, Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure, came to me a dozen years after living in the hills south of Florence when writing my first novel. I don’t know why it took so long, though I suspect it had to do with just having enough command of the territory (which I acquired after many subsequent visits).

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

I’m a Professor of English, and I also write articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. The majority of my contributions are with The New York Times.

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 don’t know about coffee or tea, but I’d like to have martinis and then a long, wine-soaked meal with Hemingway. I’m not sure what I’d ask him, but I imagine we’d get along well.

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

I’m fairly surprised by the breadth of my interests. I’ve covered a lot of territory, in both fiction and journalism, and I like that.

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

I love the satisfaction that comes from telling a story well and the impact this can have on other people. It is among the best feelings in the world when someone says that they have been touched or honored by what I wrote.

 List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I’m a really good cook and am an expert in Italian food and wine.
I’m lots of fun at parties.
I’d choose being a rockstar over a writer in a second.

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

I’m not sure, but if I did, I’d say that my itinerant childhood is why I’m a writer since it provided me so many personal challenges and exposure to so many different types of people/environments. It provided me with plenty of time to use my imagination, required me to be resourceful and resilient, and fostered a sense of empathy.

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

I set this up with the previous answer…Empathy! Being able to relate on a profound level to the experiences of others is what allows for effective storytelling.

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

Another one that’s been alluded to…Italy is my favorite place to visit by far. I don’t want to go anywhere else. You want to go to Disney World or Hawaii? Fine. Knock yourself out. I’m going to Italy. I’ve channeled this love into my latest novel and its forthcoming sequel, as well as many of my articles, and I am certain I will go to my grave loving Italy like no other place on earth. I even hope to literally go to my grave there after I retire to Italy at some point or just move there regardless of age. It’s the lifestyle that’s so accessible in Italy: great food, wine, cultural experiences all among the most physically beautiful natural terrain on earth.

What are you currently working on?

I’m just putting the finishing touches on the Cucina Tipica sequel, which will take place mostly in Rome (the original is mostly Tuscany-based) and will be published in March of 2021. I’m also helping to provide some marketing help for a novel due this December, Black Irish Blues, which is a noir and a sequel to my second novel, Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery. I’m really excited about both projects.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure is the story of a disheartened American who arrives in Italy on holiday and decides he never wants to leave. What follows is a food-filled, wine-soaked travel adventure about one man’s quest for an antiquated existence in the modern world.

It was great to have you on MTA, Andrew. I read the digital version of The New York Times, so I will keep an eye out for your articles. Cucina Tipica sounds like a wonderful book. I’m adding it to my list! Wishing you all the best in future books and travels! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through any other bookseller.

Connect with Andrew:

https://andrewcotto.com/

https://www.instagram.com/andrewcotto

https://www.facebook.com/andrew.cotto.9/

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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: Duty Bound Desire: The Sheikh’s Forced Marriage by Jennifer Jansen

Today we travel to Victoria, Australia to chat with Jennifer Jansen about how traveling, being an avid reader, teaching languages, creating characters she would like to meet, unplanned writing, a sombrero wearing penguin, and Spider-Man come together as part of Jennifer’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a writer from Victoria, Australia. I completed two degrees and then travelled the world which was the best education I could have had. Travel opens your mind and forces you to look past stereotypes. I was teaching languages for 18 years (I speak three so far) and I loved it but it takes a lot of energy which I don’t have anymore. I have always been an avid reader of romance, political thrillers and historical fiction and non-fiction. I decided reading is so good that I want to give that gift to others. On my website I write a blog that is a compilation of romance and history. Topics include: Island of the Immortals and A Western Woman in the Middle East.

In which genre do you write?

I write contemporary romance and I’m loving it! Romance touches the heart and that’s what I want to do.

How many published books do you have?

I have three published romance novels – two of a trilogy, the third one will be released in late September, and a romance novella.

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

I used to write my little ‘books’ as a young child making my father read them over and over again. It wasn’t until I was offered a ghost writing position after 18 years in teaching that I realised how much I enjoy writing. I then decided to start writing my own books. I wanted to create characters that I would want to meet.

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

I don’t plan anything. I have a vague idea in my head but I cannot make a plan. I must start writing and the story reveals itself to me. Yes, it sounds weird even to me, but that’s the way it is.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

One of my favourite writers has a gorgeous office set up in her back yard. It is a beautiful, white wooden cabin set amongst all the trees and flowers. I would love something like that.

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

I have written a trilogy of books set in the royal palaces of desert kingdoms. My travels through the Arabian region had a profound effect on me. The ancient history, the awe inspiring archaeological feats, and the hospitality from beautiful people.

All this was the inspiration for my Desert Desires Trilogy – Duty Bound Desire: the Sheikh’s Forced Marriage, Desert Desires: Her True Destiny, and His Forbidden Passion. My next books will be based in Greece, another ancient civilisation and a place where the ancient and modern live side-by-side.

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

Buenos dias. Can you tell me the way to Mehico? My cousin is there and tells me the weather is grrrreat!

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

Easy. Spiderman. I always loved that cartoon when I was a kid. I loved the theme song, I loved the character, I loved that he could swing high from anywhere. I still wish I could do that! Must be the kid in me. I haven’t lost my child-like heart. I think it’s one of the greatest gifts we can hold onto in life.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA and learn more about you, Jennifer. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Blurb for: Duty Bound Desire: the Sheikh’s Forced Marriage (Book 1 in the Desert Desires Trilogy)

After a disastrous first marriage which almost brought down his family, Crown Prince Nabil Al Massoud vowed never to marry again. However, his father’s ailing health and his nation’s need for a strong leader have thrust Nabil to the forefront. He must now take charge of his nation and to do that needs a suitable wife.

Princess Yasmin is one of few royally trained women who will nicely fit the bill. But she is strong, intelligent and stunningly beautiful, a dangerous combination for Nabil.

Yasmin is bound by duty to marry a man she hardly knows. The princess will go willingly to save her nation from the unthinkable, but she will be nobody’s subordinate.

Her new husband, while always respectful and careful, remains distant, keeping his word that this is a marriage of convenience only – for both of them. But between the sheets he can never truly hide his feelings and as time goes on he will be forced to face some uncomfortable truths from his past if this marriage is to survive.

Social Media links:

Website: https://1jenniferjansen.wixsite.com/author
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferjansenbooks/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.jansen.16752
Allauthor: https://allauthor.com/author/jansenj/

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