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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Latest News: Top Interviews With Most Views for June 2020

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Thank you for taking the time to read more about these authors and book bloggers, and for sharing the interviews on this website. A great deal of work goes into these interviews by all involved. Deep gratitude! –Camilla, Founder & Host

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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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Book Shelf – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Ever read a sentence in a book (or any writing) that reaches into your heart, gently opening a place where longing and sadness stay in hiding, something you’ve forgotten is even there (or pretend isn’t there), until you read just the right words, in just the right moment?

This sentence did that to me (for me?) yesterday. “I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.” Reading this sentence caused my eyes to sweat.

I absolutely loved this book, devoured it even. I’d had it on my list for over 2 years, as part of a list of books to read before suggesting them to Thomas and Lillian. I read it in two days, finding it hard to set aside. Beautiful, powerful book. – Camilla

U.S. Amazon: https://amzn.to/2BuBl3a

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(The above is an amazon affiliate link.)

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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Latest News: Chat and Spin Radio

I was recently on Chat And Spin Radio, an Internet Radio Station based in the UK. My interview begins at 1:35 if you’re in a hurry.

 

They’ve asked me to invite all the authors I know to be a guest! Here’s the information:

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We are looking for Book Authors, Writers, Artists, Bands & Singers and Businesses to come on the Radio Station over the Phone or by Skype

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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