Meet the Author: The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norrie

Today we travel to NE London in the UK to chat with Jessica Norrie. She and I discuss how the Titanic, feeling like a completely different person, a sense of peace, giving up, The Magic Roundabout, being nosey, and a house in the hills come together to form the magic of Jessica’s past and present.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! I’m a retired teacher from the bit of Essex that’s within the boundaries of NE London, UK but is also called Essex (conspiring like Val Portelli earlier in your series to confuse your lovely pin map). I have two adult “children” and since neither they nor any classes of thirty schoolkids take up my time now, I write novels.

In which genre do you write?

I call it contemporary fiction because both my published books and my work-in-progress are set in the present day. Some call it women’s fiction – but men have said they too enjoy my writing. Some call it literary – but traditional publishers say it’s too easy to read for that (the ones who don’t say it’s too difficult to be commercial). Some call it psychological, but I think all fiction must be psychological or the characters would be so boring they’d fall over. On Amazon it’s boring old general fiction. This is no criticism of the question which is a very common one, but I wish people didn’t care so much about genre.

How many published books do you have?

Two novels, The Magic Carpet (2019), featured here, The Infinity Pool (2015), which is about a “holistic” holiday community on a Greek island and how they fall out with the local villagers, and a primary school French textbook, Célébrons les Fêtes, that I co-authored (Scholastic, 2010)

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

  1. If my grandfather had got the job he applied for on the Titanic, I wouldn’t be here.
  2. If my father hadn’t been whisked away just in time from the “tarantula” (?) they found on his bed when he was seven (they lived above a greengrocer’s shop and it had arrived in a crate of bananas), I wouldn’t be here.
  3. I speak fluent French and some Spanish and when I’m speaking another language I feel like a completely different person.

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

I soak in the bath dreaming about spending more time writing and less time marketing.

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

Usually, when I find something difficult, I give up. But when I’m writing or blogging I seem able to keep going, even after bad days and through poor feedback or self-doubt. Right up to and after publication I’m still surprised to get the positive feedback and reviews that I do get! And yet, unlike skiing, watercolours or Pilates, I don’t give up. That bestseller is just around the corner!

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

I’m not sure enjoyable is the right word, but the sense of peace when I’ve thoroughly explored a world in a novel – the strange holiday community in The Infinity Pool or the neighbouring families in The Magic Carpet. I’ve said everything I need to say, and cleared it all out of my system, ready for the next challenge. Writing makes sense of disordered ideas the same way therapy does, I think.

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

There was a French series adapted for UK TV in the 1960s called The Magic Roundabout. Adults saw hazy philosophy and drug references in it (there was a drawling rabbit called Dylan after Bob). Children just found it gentle and loving. When everything got too confusing, a peculiar creature called Zebedee, who was a talking jack-in-the-box with magical powers,would bounce onto the screen from who knew where. “’Time for bed’ said Zebedee,” the soft voiced narrator would tell us. It ended that same way after each daily five-minute episode and all seemed right with the world.

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

I’m quite nosey and rather judgemental. I suspect this has sometimes worked against me making and maintaining friendships, but it’s ideal for a writer creating characters and conflicts for a story.

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

My partner has a house in the hills near Malvern, where the composer Elgar came from. We have very close friends next door; there are rolling hills to gaze at and walk in when not writing and the small town has a range of theatre, film, music, art and literary opportunities all within walking distance (if you don’t mind steep walks that are also a bit of a work out). C S Lewis used to meet Tolkien in the Unicorn pub, and is supposed to have based the lamp posts in Narnia on the ones in Malvern.

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

I published The Magic Carpet in July 2019, available at https://getbook.at/TheMagicCarpet or any Amazon as an ebook or paperback. It’s about how families and communities can comfort their troubles and grow together through the magic of storytelling. It was my response to years of teaching in diverse communities, trying to nurture the imagination and value all the different cultures represented in my classrooms. People have said some lovely things about how it’s moved and entertained them – it’s had a better reception than I’d have dared hope and although it’s set in London, the relevance should resonate anywhere parents and children have to live together and get along.

How do you feel about self publishing as opposed to traditional publishing?

I’d love to be traditionally published as so called literary/general/contemporary fiction is harder to sell as an indie than crime, romance, horror etc. Both my novels had very good feedback from the mainstream publishers my agent submitted them to, but they said they couldn’t work out how to market them. However, once I published them independently, the readers’ feedback was so good it suggests the traditional publishers were mistaken! So far I’ve had relatively good sales in the UK and Australia, but I need to crack the US market – which is where I’m hoping blogs like this one will help. I’d like to thank Camilla here for giving me the opportunity to showcase my work on her excellent site, and I do hope to be able to repay her efforts by becoming so well known she can boast about once having interviewed me!

It was wonderful learning about you Jessica! I’ve added The Magic Carpet to my ‘to be read’ list and cannot wait! Sounds like a great story! All the best to you! – Camilla

Book Blurb

Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?

Where to buy:

The Magic Carpet: https://getbook.at/TheMagicCarpet (this link will take you worldwide to your nearest Amazon)

The Infinity Pool: https://getBook.at/TheInfinityPool

Connect with Jessica:

Jessica blogs about reading, writing and language at: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com

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

Twitter: @jessica_norrie

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Meet the Author: Butterflies by Lily Hayden

Today we’re traveling to Wales to chat with Lily Hayden. She and I discuss how sensible career options, winning the lottery, laughing, Roald Dahl, Rugrats, and walks along the river are part of her past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Lily Hayden and I’m a mother of four, an author and animal lover from the beautiful country of Wales. My first book Butterflies was published in 2018.

In which genre do you write?

My go-to genre is women’s contemporary fiction; Butterflies is a very modern love story, The Village Online is a murder mystery based around a village social media page and Summer Down South is a racier romance. It definitely fits into the chick lit category; easy, light, palate-cleansers.

I’ve also released a young adult dystopian novel Project Terra under the pseudonym SJ Woods.

Strong modern women, especially mothers, are my protagonist of choice though and my next releases all centre around these superwomen.

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

I’ve always wanted to write, but it felt like an unachievable dream; like winning the lottery or becoming a platinum-selling singer (I still dream of both these things but unless voice transplants become a thing, this is never happening).

I put it to the back of my mind and went about sensible career options, but at the back of mind it was always calling me. I picked up, started and then put down my pen several times over the course of my adult life, always putting it off until ‘tomorrow’.

I was very close to my grandmother and we used to write stories together. She always wanted to write a novel and I wanted to achieve this goal for both of us. I think you do get to a point where you know you need to stop peering over the edge and just jump. As I always say to my friends, if it all goes wrong at least it’ll make a good story!

What would you choose as your spirit animal and why?

My spirit animal is a cat. I strongly believe that all other categories can be abolished and people can be divided into cat people or dog people, which will tell you everything you will possibly need to know about them. Characteristics of dog people are being loyal, friendly, warm-hearted and social. I would love to be a dog person but sadly I’m a cat; aloof, likes sleeping, will go and live in another house if they’ve got better food. And did I mention they sleep an average of 15 hours a day!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A quiet room brimming with books with a huge bay window seat overlooking blue skies and the sea. My current writing space, however, is nothing of the sort and I will nearly always be writing sandwiched between a spaniel and a cavachon (cavalier spaniel and bichon frise cross) on my sofa. I have been know to scrawl paragraphs down in the notes in my phone, mainly on trains and even in the back of a taxi on the way to a night out. For some reason, I can’t focus sat at a desk. The moment I sit down I think of a million “urgent” things I need to do. Maybe it’s a kick back to all the time wasting I did in my office life.

What are you currently reading?

The Handmaid’s Tale. One of my favourites.

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

Mainly shouting or laughing (big thank you to my neighbours for pretending they don’t hear). Nobody in my house listens to me- not the kids, not the dogs, definitely not the cats. Books and comedy are my favourite. If I’m not reading, I’m laughing at the most ridiculous things with one of the many funny people in my life. Life is too short to take everything seriously.

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

I not only share a country of birth with Roald Dahl, but we also share a birthday. He was an extremely talented writer and I think most book lovers can think fondly back to their first time reading a Road Dahl book as a child. As well as chatting about his books, I’d really like to ask him about his time in the RAF during World War 2. My grandfather was in the RAF too during this time and I can’t even begin to imagine what life was like back then.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Not paying bills, the endless school holidays where everyday was an adventure out with friends and the compulsory learning!

I loved school and if money and time were no object, I think I’d study every subject I could (or at least try to)! The world is a fascinating place and I think as kids, we see it more that way, before we grow too preoccupied with the little things and responsibilities that make up life.

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

I loved Rugrats. I would love to hang out with Tommy and Angelica for the day. Nobody remembers what it’s like to be a baby- all those new experiences! I bet it’s mind-blowing!

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

“Hola, te gusta Fanta Limon?”

We’ve just come back from Ibiza and that’s all the Spanish vocab my kids have nailed. It is the best flavour Fanta though.

The penguin will definitely have brushed up on some tourist Spanish ready for our trip. Pinguino is here to take me on holiday. No kids, no work, just sun, sea and sangria and we’re going to have a blast!

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

I’m from the beautiful country of Wales. We’re famous for our gorgeous mountains and valleys, we’ve also got castles and amazing beaches (although it does rain here a lot!). I’m from the city of Newport in South Wales and as a fairly young city, Newport has an amazing music and art scene. It’s so hard to choose one favourite place because there are so many things to do, but today there’s no place I’d rather be than walking my dogs along the river and the woods with a stop off at the pub of course.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a love story that takes us through the main character’s life from her first love at fifteen to her current day life at forty (or thereabouts). I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s as much a story of her finding her true self as it is about her handsome first love who just keeps coming back at key points in her life.

Tell us about your book.

Butterflies is Lucy’s tale of finding love and fulfilment after years of struggling to juggle motherhood and an unrewarding job. As in real life, it doesn’t always run smoothly for Lucy and there are a couple of twists and turns along the way. Her love story is a little different to traditional boy-meets-girl but I hope you love Lucy’s happy ending as much as I do.

I very much enjoyed your sense of humor, Lily! It was wonderful learning more about you and I love what you say about life being too short to take everything seriously. Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Butterflies is available as an ebook or paperback at Amazon:

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Butterflies-Lily-Hayden-ebook/dp/B07CQ25SK5/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?keywords=lily+hayden&qid=1565552597&s=gateway&sprefix=Lily+Hayd&sr=8-2

US: https://www.amazon.com/Butterflies-Lily-Hayden-ebook/dp/B07CQ25SK5/ref=mp_s_a_1_6?keywords=lily+hayden&qid=1565552642&s=gateway&sprefix=Lily+Hayd&sr=8-6

Follow Hayden Woods Creative on Facebook and Twitter, and hwoods_creative on Instagram for the most up to date releases and more info.

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Meet the Author: The Rift Between Us by Rebecca Marsh

Today we travel to Dallas, Georgia in the United States to chat with Rebecca Marsh. We talk about how gaining life experience, having a family, telling stories on the playground, Francesca Battistelli, the beach, and the local writer’s group come together as part of Rebecca’s past and present life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Dallas, GA in the United States. I’m a wife, a mother, and an animal lover. I write emotional stories that mostly revolve around healing, forgiveness, and redemption. I first started writing when I was twelve and wrote short stories all through middle school and high school.

A couple years after that, I largely stopped writing for two reasons: first because I didn’t feel ready to write the stories that I had in mind. I needed to gain more life experience. One can certainly write about things that they haven’t experienced personally, but to do a good job, you have to use the experiences you have had as well as using what you have learned from the people you know and the things you have read or seen. There are lots of ways to learn about different human experiences and the emotions that go with them. I needed time to do that.

The second reason was that I had another dream to have a family and I was working on making that dream come true. When my daughter started pre-school, I began to write again. The idea for my first novel had been in my head for years, but it had always been like a scattered puzzle. The pieces were there, but I hadn’t been able to put them all together.

Right before the pre-school year began, though, the pieces of that story started falling into place, so the timing seemed perfect. It was slow since I didn’t get much time to work on it, but eventually I finished my first novel and I’ve continued writing since then. But my journey into publishing my work was also slow in coming since I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it all myself. But after meeting some other local writers who had done it themselves and learning about it, I decided to take that leap.

It isn’t easy and I’m still learning, but every time someone tells me that my book was meaningful to them, it is worth the effort.

In which genre do you write?

I write contemporary fiction. It also fits the mold for women’s fiction, but I don’t really like that genre name because it makes it sound like men shouldn’t read it.

How many published books do you have?

Two with the second released on July 8th.

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

I was 12 when I first began to write, but I think it was in me even before that. I was a kid that didn’t make friends super easy and I can look back and remember times when I didn’t have anyone to play with on the playground. I would walk around and tell myself stories.

As far as igniting my author’s flame, well, I guess that varies. A lot of times I don’t really know where my story ideas come from. They are just there. But I think the characters developing into unique people in the story is what I love the most.

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

Spend time with my family would be first and foremost.

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

I will be speaking soon in releasing my second book. I don’t love public speaking, but it gets easier each time. One song I repeat in my head in preparation for speaking is Francesca Battistelli’s “The Breakup Song”. It begins with the line, Fear you don’t own me …

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

That’s a tough one. In the stories I write, the main characters all have some pretty big issues that I wouldn’t ask for. However, there are characteristics they have that I wouldn’t mind having. Beth, the MC from my first book is strong and resilient. Lauren, in my second book, is super dedicated to her craft as an artist (though sometimes to the point of having tunnel vision).

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

I would ask my dog: why do you roll around in that same spot in the backyard?, and: why do you bark at some dogs we see and not others?, I would ask my cat: who do you think you’re looking at when you stare at your reflection?

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

Though it isn’t always easy, I’d have to say that the ability to accept constructive criticism and learn from it are the most useful traits that I have developed. It was hard at first and I wanted to be defensive (sometimes I still do), but I find that when I sit back and take in what others are saying about my work, I learn and grow. I get a lot of that from my local writer’s group and I thank them for all their help.

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

The beach, any beach. I love how peaceful it is to sit and listen to the waves.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book, The Rift Between Us, released July 8th on Amazon. It is the story of three estranged sisters who are brought back together by a stipulation in their father’s will. It is a story of a father’s love that moved him to set up such an elaborate plan. And it is a story about how siblings can grow apart because they hold onto old grudges and fail to see the changes in each other. It is also a story of hope and healing. There’s a bit of romance in there as well.

It was wonderful to learn more about you, Rebecca. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Blurb for my second book, The Rift Between Us: 

After a family dinner turns into a bitter fight, sisters Maria, Lauren, and Avery decide to go their separate ways. Their father warns them that someday they will need one another. When he dies suddenly, they learn that he intends to make sure that they do. He’s left them a substantial inheritance, far more than any of them ever imagined.

There’s just one catch. If they want the money, they will have to spend two weeks together at a secluded lake house and follow all of their father’s instructions—no matter how strange.

Their task seems simple enough, but each one is holding onto painful secrets and old grudges the others know nothing about. But if they can learn to trust each other again, they might be able to mend the rift between them and give their father his dying wish.

Where to find the book:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TGF9P4F  and on Rebecca’s website: https://www.rebeccalmarsh.com/

First book:

Blurb for my first book, When the Storm Ends: 

Beth thought her violent childhood was something she left in the past—until she met Erin. Now the abuse of her step-father has returned in terrifying nightmares.

Beth became a child psychologist so she could help children who are broken and hurting, but Erin, the fifteen-year-old who killed her father, is different. If Beth can’t reach her and find out why she did it, Erin will spend the rest of her childhood behind bars. To most people, it looks simple—Erin is either crazy or evil, but when Beth looks into Erin’s haunted eyes, she’s sure that something terrible was done to this girl. Erin, however, isn’t talking.

Beth believes Erin might open up to someone with whom she feels a kinship. Of course, Beth knows she shouldn’t share her own past with a patient, but the clock is ticking toward Erin’s trial, and Beth is out of options.

Little does Beth know that taking this terrifying leap will not only reveal the truth about Erin, but will rip Beth’s past wide open as well—and a connection between them that will shake Beth to the core.

Link to my first book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2pwxCMY

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40807015-when-the-storm-ends?ac=1&from_search=true 

Connect with Rebecca:

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaLynnMarsh/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Website: https://www.rebeccalmarsh.com/

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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: Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain

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

Tell us a bit about yourself.

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

In which genre do you write?

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

How many published books do you have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does your ideal writing space look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heidi Swain:

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

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

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

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

Poppy’s Recipe for Life

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

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

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

Where to Buy:

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

UK Amazonhttps://amzn.to/33U56UO

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

Connect with Heidi:

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

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Meet the Author: Dinner at the Happy Skeleton by Chris Chalmers

Today we welcome Chris Chalmers as we travel to South West London and learn how copywriting, Greg Rutherford, the Dutch Embassy in Prague, the Galapagos Islands, and Dr. Who share roles in the life of Chris. Tighten your funny bone and get ready for a bit of quirkiness. Let’s go ….

In which genre do you write?

Contemporary fiction. Quirky stuff for grown ups like me, who have difficulty finding books they like. Helicopter crashes, tsunamis, aging porn stars, the celestial manifestation of Margaret Thatcher — it’s all there…

How many published books do you have?

Three for adults, one for children. Two more coming down the pipe.

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

At school. I was good at creative writing, not so good at anything else.

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

I can see trams while I’m writing.

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

Meet Larry. We keep washing him but he’s always dirty. I don’t know why.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I’m lucky, I have a study overlooking the garden (and the trams en route to IKEA). But mostly, I think worrying about the perfect writing space is an excuse, and you should get your arse down and write.

What are you currently reading?

Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen. Hmm…

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

Copywriting, currently for Holland & Barrett.

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?

Louis Smith, gymnast or Greg Rutherford, long jumper. To be honest, I’d be lucky to ask them anything before I poured coffee in my lap.

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

God I’ve got some stories!

Do you write a journal or keep a personal diary? Has it helped with your writing?

Every night since 1st January 1976. Never missed. It’s kept me sane and probably helps the memories stick.

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

Amusing: An incident involving me and two boxers at the Dutch Embassy in Prague. See Dinner At The Happy Skeleton.

Crazy: On my first trip to Australia, my suitcase went to Abu Dhabi. It was returned to me in Melbourne two days later by a van driver who shared my name.

Inspiring: Visiting the Galapagos Islands. See Five To One.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Dr. Who was scary.

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

Eight Grade. It’s about how teens use social media. Worth knowing in case I have to write about one.

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

I used to be terrified I’d still be single when I was 40. People always say the right one comes along when you’re not looking — so I told myself I wasn’t looking, but it never worked. Then I reached a stage when I was 39 where I was actually, honestly, genuinely happy being single. I met my husband a fortnight later.

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

A natural inclination for sticking to routines.

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

Stromness, Orkney. I see myself living there one day.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Dinner At The Happy Skeleton is the story of Dan the advertising man. Made redundant just before his fortieth birthday, he decides to spend his payoff tracking down the ex he blames for the thinly-veiled chaos of his life … Via misadventures on and offline from London to Ljubljana, Helsinki to Trieste, Dan seeks closure on his past — and meets his destiny where he least expects it.

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA! I enjoyed learning more about you and your history Chris! –Camilla

Blurb for Dinner At The Happy Skeleton:

Dan is the kind of gay man for whom the Noughties might have been named. Warm, witty and serially promiscuous, his heart melts at the sight of a chocolate brown Labrador — but with men, it’s a different matter. He’s thirty-nine and as single as ever, not counting the couple he just met online. An arrangement that looks oddly like it’s going somewhere, until Dan gets fired from his job in advertising. With time out and a payoff in his pocket, summer presents a world of possibilities; just as memories surface of the ex he blames for the thinly-veiled chaos of his life.

From London to Ljubljana, a yen for closure sets Dan on the trail of the man who fed his ego into a shredder. Through an eerie encounter at the home of the Olympiad and a sleepover at the Dutch Embassy, run-ins with a fading porn star and the celestial manifestation of Margaret Thatcher, he ultimately confronts his past. Until, with his Big Four-O rapidly approaching, destiny beckons from where he least expects it.

‘An eye-opening, always entertaining romp through modern sexual mores, with a sweet beating heart of true feeling at its core.’ Suzi Feay, literary journalist

‘Full of wit, comedy and unflinching honesty … Like reading a gay Nick Hornby. This is clever contemporary fiction at its finest.’ Bleach House Library

Where we can find it:

Dinner At The Happy Skeleton is available in paperback and ebook.

**Dinner At The Happy Skeleton ebook is currently 99p on Amazon.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Khvb8w

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

Connect with Chris:

Website: www.chrischalmers.net

Social media links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/chrischalmersnovelist/
Twitter: @CCsw19

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

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

Buy Me A Coffee