Meet the Book Blogger: Tina Hartas of TripFiction

Welcome to this new series! We’re shaking things up at Meeting the Authors. Once or twice per month, MTA is turning the tables to feature Book Bloggers. A huge and hearty welcome to the first book blogger to take the Turning the Tables Plunge!

Today we travel to Wylam, which is in the Tyne Valley in Northumberland, near to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to chat with Tina Hartas about how travel, Donna Leon, Inspector Montalbano, Boekenweek, being a trained psychosocial therapist, and David Attenborough come together as part of Tina’s past and current life.

Why did you choose to be a book blogger or how did you come to be a book blogger? How long have you been bookblogging?

I have been blogging for about 8 years on the back of setting up our website – I have always loved to travel and I have always searched for books that are strong on location, set where I am going. It is wonderful to get those little insights that authors can offer when they know somewhere really well, it’s like looking over their shoulder and seeing a location through their eyes.

So we blog on books with a strong sense of place, we chat to authors and we combine that all with travel, both actual and armchair! Just think of what Donna Leon has done for Venice or Andrea Camilleri for Sicily (and did you know that the equivalent of two (yes TWO) aircraft land per day in Sicily with people following in the footsteps of his delightful main character Inspector Montalbano!

Are you accepting requests at the moment? How do you prefer to be contacted?

We are always happy to be contacted! If we can’t commit to a review, then the author can (in any case) add their book to our database and get exposure in that way, as long as the book is strong on locale.

What information do you want to receive with the request?

A bit about the book is always good! But it’s nice to have an informal chat with the author.

What types of book blog posts do you offer? Reviews, interviews, book spotlight, guest posts, etc.

We offer reviews, interviews, the opportunity to offer a #TalkingLocationWith… feature (authors, whose work is strong on setting, can talk about their setting and offer some top tips. Just get in touch). And if you authors already have a good quality video where they talk about setting, then, if it is suitable, we can possibly add it to our YouTube channel.

We also have a monthly Newsletter and a bi-monthly book club (#TFBookClub). In March/April we are reading The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo.

What is your preferred book format to read? If digital, what digital file do you prefer?

We tend to prefer paper format but certainly will read PDFs and digital on Kindle.

Do you only participate in official blog tours or do you accept requests from authors? 

We have stepped back from participating in blog tours because the deadlines were becoming quite stressful. And we also found that often creating our own schedule worked better for us. But I know that they work very well for many…

What is your preferred genre? Do you read nonfiction, memoirs, or any style of poetry? 

Love fiction, both contemporary and historical (with histfic a reader can really get a sense of the footsteps past. For example taking Alberto Angela’s wonderful novel A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome was just brilliant for getting a sense of what life was like in Rome, in proper Roman times!) Memoir, romance… most genres, really! Nonfiction, too, I just read Lisa Taddeo’s “Three Women” which is the story (yes, it focusses on the sexual side of their relationships) of, well, three women in modern America. It was insightful and thought provoking (Marian Keyes says she is busy giving a copy to every single one of her female friends!) and it read like fiction. If you ever read it, let me warn you, you will never look at a Cadbury’s creme egg in the same way (I will just leave that there! 😉 )…

Do you write a review if you did not like the book? Do you use a star rating system for reviews you write?

We do use a star rating and yes, we do write a – hopefully – constructive review if a book has a low star rating. I feel if you don’t write reviews that reflect the reading experience, both good and less good, then you are not offering a balanced overview.

Once contacted, when can the author expect to hear from you?

Within a couple of days. We have four reviewers contributing to our blog so sometimes we need to have a conflab about who does what!

What is your favorite aspect of bookblogging?

Meeting lovely people via Social Media!

What does your ideal reading space look like?

I can read anywhere, virtually (maybe not a sauna) and can immerse myself for a few minutes or an hour. It depends. Ideally I would love my reading space to have clean lines, white and uncluttered with a super comfy chair (or, thinking about it, a chaise longue would do the trick!).

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading books for Boekenweek. That takes place 7-15 March 2020 and is a celebration of Dutch literature in translation. The Boekenweek phenomenon goes back several decades in the Netherlands and each year, to mark the week, a novella is published. It is then given out free to people who purchase a book and if you produce that novella when you travel there by train, then you have free passage, ANYWHERE on the Dutch railway network! How amazing is that!

List  something interesting about yourself.

I have always read but I am a trained art conservator and a trained psychosexual therapist (and no, the two do not go hand-in-hand!)

What do you do when not reading or writing book blog posts?

I would like to say I mainly travel but that all depends on other commitments and of course money!

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

It would have to be David Attenborough. He has done so much to raise awareness for environmental issues and brought the joy of the natural world into people’s homes. He seems such a reasoned person, judicious and kind, which seems a little rare in this world at the moment. I think, though, that my questions would dry up if I actually met him. I would just be in awe.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through reading and book blogging?

That I can write (well, to some extent, anyway!). When I did History A Level my teacher told me that I was an appalling and undisciplined writer! Thank you Miss Quinn!

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

I love being transported to other worlds and places. What more can I say?

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

I would say, follow your intuition. As a counsellor it became so evident that people don’t listen to their inner voices and often get taken along a less desirable path. When I have listened to mine and given it a lot of thought, then it usually holds me in good stead. When I haven’t, I have sometimes got myself into a tangle.

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

Parasite. I was curious to see the Oscar Winner for Best Film. Really enjoyed it, thought it was more bloody than anticipated and felt that it was a slightly curious choice for Best Film. Loved the house in which it was filmed!

Thank you for being a part of the book blogger interviews, Tina. I absolutely adore what you’ve created in having focused on a niche. Wishing you loads of great reading … and travel!! –Camilla

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

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

Tell us a bit about yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

How many published books do you have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does your ideal writing space look like?

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

What are you currently reading?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about your most recent book.

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

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

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

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

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

Where to find the book:

Available from Amazon, Ringwood, and Waterstones.

UK Amazon:

US Amazon:

Connect with Anne:

Email: [email protected]

Website and blog:

Facebook @annepettigrewauthor


Twitter @pettigrew_anne

Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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