Meet the Author: Maybe Baby by Carol Thomas

Today we travel to to the south coast of England to chat with Carol Thomas about how teaching in primary schools, being a collector of conversation snippets, a snowy woodland, being a volunteer, and The Flumps come to together as part of Carol’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live on the south coast of England with my husband, four children and lively Labrador. I have been a playgroup supervisor and taught in primary schools for over fifteen years, before dedicating more of my time to writing. In the summer of 2017, I was delighted to gain a publishing contract with Ruby Fiction, an imprint of Choc Lit, for my romantic comedy novel, The Purrfect Pet Sitter, the first in the Lisa Blake series. Maybe Baby, the second in the series, was published a year later.

I have a passion for reading, writing and people watching, and can often be found loitering in local cafes working on my next book.

In which genres do you write?

I write for adults and children: My contemporary romance novels have relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads. While my children’s books have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters, young children can relate to.

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

I am a collector of snippets of conversation that make me smile. I note them down and then slip them into my writing. This is especially useful when writing romantic comedy because I feel it adds an element of authenticity to the dialogue.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Light, bright and airy, preferably with a good view. Some years ago, we looked at houses in Canada as we were contemplating moving there. One house was perfect and had a wonderful office. We visited in winter, and so the view looked out across snowy woodland. I like to imagine myself sitting in that window, writing. We didn’t make the move, so I am often found writing in local cafes; it’s not quite the same.

What are you currently reading?

I have just finished Mhairi McFarlane’s If I Never Met You. I love the author’s completely relatable characters and the very natural way they interact with each other. I also really enjoy the author’s ability to sum up a situation in a single and perfectly apt sentence.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself:

Growing up, I preferred playing with toy cars to reading books.
I hated school and then became a teacher.
I was a teen mum, and the birth of my daughter changed my life and gave me the drive to want to be more and do better.

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

Maybe Baby is a romantic comedy and the sequel to The Purrfect Pet Sitter. I wrote it because I had more I wanted to share about the characters. I also like exploring relationships beyond the happy ever after moment – seeing how characters react as a couple when faced with different situations. I have been with my husband for twenty-nine years, and so I appreciate that how you meet new challenges is an important aspect of maintaining a long-term relationship.

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

I am a volunteer at my local Cancer Research shop. Being a writer necessitates many hours spent alone with my characters, I think it’s important to go out and interact with real people too. This role enables me to do that, as well as to support the charity.

I’m also currently working as a Teaching Assistant in a local school. This is because I miss teaching and wanted to get back into the classroom. It has been lovely, and I am fortunate to be working in a great class in a very supportive and welcoming school. But, shh, don’t tell my colleagues about the collecting snippets of conversation thing, or they’ll think I am spying on them 😉

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

I love the fact that writing allows you to create a fictional world where characters, who become your friends, interact and take on a life of their own. When it is all coming together, when the writing is flowing and the purpose of every character, every scene and interaction becomes clear, it is an amazing feeling.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Honestly, I don’t miss anything about being a child. If I could return to a time in my life, it would be around twenty-six – after I had got my degree and when I first started teaching. It was a wonderful time. I was happy, thin (ah there was a time) young and full of self-confidence.

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

I am a child of the seventies, and so there are some genuinely crazy worlds to choose from. Though not a cartoon, I would choose The Flumps, I liked the fact they were all one happy family, and they seemed to have a good pace of life.

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

I go to the cinema regularly, generally once or twice a week, this weekend I saw Harley Quinn, as I had seen the first, and I like Margot Robbie as an actor. I also saw Dolittle with my children. I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it, but it was very good, entertaining and quirky – though it has made me want to befriend a polar bear.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Maybe Baby is the sequel to The Purrfect Pet Sitter (Lisa Blake book #1), published by Ruby Fiction. While each book can be read as a standalone story, Maybe Baby revisits the characters readers have enjoyed in The Purrfect Pet Sitter as they move into the next phase of their lives.

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA, Carol. I love that you collect conversation snippets. I used to do that more often, and think I’ll return to that practice. All the best to you! –Camilla

The blurb:

Maybe Baby is the story of what happens after the happy ever after …

Lisa Blake is back with her first love, she’s reunited with her best friend Felicity, and life is looking good; even her pet sitting skills are improving – everybody knows you can’t believe all you read in the local Gazette, don’t they?

Felicity is on the cusp of achieving her perfect wife-mum-life balance; Her husband, Pete, is being wonderfully attentive, and her four children are getting older and wiser (sometimes too much wiser) by the day.

But with secrets to be revealed and discoveries to be made, it seems life is full of unexpected surprises!

Book Trailer: https://www.carol-thomas.co.uk/book-trailers/

Where to buy:

Amazon: https://getbook.at/MBAmazon
Ruby Fiction: https://www.rubyfiction.com/dd-product/maybe-baby/

Connect with Carol:

Website and Social Media Links:
https://carol-thomas.co.uk
https://facebook.com/carolthomasauthor
https://twitter.com/carol_thomas2
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/carol_thomas2/
https://www.instagram.com/carol_thomas2/

Blog:
https://carol-thomas.co.uk/blog

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Meet the Author: The Butcher’s Daughter by Jane E James

Today we welcome Jane E James as we travel to Cambridgeshire countryside to learn how a farm, a huge bay window, long country walks, a rescue donkey, and the Yorkshire Moors are a part of Jane’s life. Get your walking shoes on, let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a best-selling author, creating chilling reads that appeal to fans of psychological thrillers, mysteries and dark fiction. I love to weave tense and haunting tales that stay in the reader’s mind. All my books are standalone novels.

I recently signed a two-book publishing deal after my 2nd novel, The Crying Boy (a compelling suspense thriller inspired by actual events) became an overnight best seller on Amazon, knocking both Stephen King and Dean Koontz off the top suspense spot.

When I’m not writing (or reading) I enjoy living ‘the good life’ in the
Cambridgeshire countryside with my ‘all-action-super-hero’ hubby. Rebecca, Carrie, The Woman in Black and Wuthering Heights are among some of my favourite reads. You can catch up with me on facebook and twitter. But make sure you bring Monster Munch and wine…

In which genre do you write?

I am a writer of psychological thrillers, mysteries and dark fiction.

How many published books do you have?

Three standalone novels and a short story

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

As a girl, I loved all things books and would read for hours. The progression to writing was a natural one. Sadly, I didn’t receive much encouragement, even at school. My English teacher accused me of cheating and failed an essay of mine, claiming my writing was too advanced for my age. It was a set-back, but I didn’t let it put me off. The opposite was true. It made me want to prove everyone wrong.

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

I still work full time (on a farm, would you believe?) so I sacrifice most of my spare time to write. Luckily for me, my all-action-super-hero-hubby is in the army reserves so is away quite a lot and therefore I get plenty of time on my own to write.

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

I lost my little dog a month or so ago and still miss him dearly. Not having a dog curled up around my feet while I write feels alien to me. He was very old, almost blind and completely deaf and I would choose him as my mascot.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Old-worldly. A library full of dusty books, leather furniture and a huge bay window overlooking parkland and woods. My actual space is very different although I do have a wonderful view of the countryside. Nothing but fields.

What are you currently reading?

Poison Orchids by Sarah Denzil and Anni Taylor. Sarah is a friend of mine and I am a big fan of her work.

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

In the winter I like to curl up in front of a log fire with a glass of red wine, that sort of thing and go on long country walks. I am a country girl at heart and always have been. I am most at home in muddy wellies, no make-up and a checked shirt. But I can glam up when needed. Lol.

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

I don’t even have to think about this one. I would have afternoon tea on the lawn at Manderley with Daphne du Maurier and I would ask her who she based Rebecca on.

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

I’ve toughened up since I wrote my debut novel. When I got my first bad review, I was so upset I didn’t want to get out of bed but now I cope much better. In fact, I welcome all kind of reviews as I think they lend authenticity to your ratings.

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

For The Butcher’s Daughter, I visited slaughterhouses and butcher shops to get a sense of what these places are like. What I saw and heard there changed my mindset forever. As a result, I became a vegetarian and after reading the first two chapters of my book, hubby quickly followed suit.

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

No to all the above. I am a note taker and take a little notebook with me everywhere. I keep it by my bed, with me at work, and even in the loo!

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

Hubby adopted me a rescue donkey for Xmas and I was so touched, I cried for days. He’s a keeper. So is my donkey, Billy O.

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 am usually a bag of nerves beforehand. Gives me the shivers just thinking about it…I don’t listen to music, that would put me off, I just keep rehearsing what I am going to say and remind myself that people are nice and want me to do well.

What do you miss about being a kid?

A sense of freedom and lack of fear. I used to ride wild ponies, climb trees and swim in rivers. I think I was always a bit of a loner though and would tramp the countryside for hours on my own with a trusty dog or two. I miss my parents too. You never get over the loss of them. I would give anything to go back for one more day.

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

I would be Muttley from Wacky Races. People tell me I laugh just like him. I have included the link below so you can judge for yourself.

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

Most of my female characters are not that nice, or they are nice but end up doing terrible things. The males tend to fair better! Hmm difficult one. I think I would have to choose Venetia from The Long Weekend. Poor kid. If I were to become her for a day, I would make that day count and make sure she had the nicest time possible to make up for all the bad stuff that happened to her.

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

Mama Mia 2. Again! It’s my go-to feel good movie. Love a good singalong.

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

WTF? Okay roll with this one, Jane. Oh, I know. He would say ‘You did everything penquinly possible amigo,’ then hand me some tortilla chips.

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

No. I am afraid I do not. I think life is what you make it, made up of good choices, bad choices with some good and bad luck thrown in. Although my work often contains supernatural elements, I am not a believer.

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

I am not a quitter. I first wrote The Butcher’s Daughter ten years ago as a screenplay and it came close to being optioned, but in the end the producer decided to go with another project that became a big hit. Was I gutted? Of course, I was. But I didn’t give up. I turned the story into a novel instead.

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

The Yorkshire Moors. When I was a child, I spent most of my summers in Yorkshire or Wales (my mother was Welsh, and dad was a straight-talking no-nonsense Yorkshireman). I set The Crying Boy in Yorkshire and The Butcher’s Daughter in Wales. The Yorkshire moors are one of the most beautiful and most haunting places on earth.

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

A picnic in the woods in springtime with a good book and a chilled bottle of pinot grigio.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My latest book, The Butcher’s Daughter was published by Bloodhound Books on May 13th . It is a tense and haunting psychological thriller with some horror elements thrown in. It is my favourite piece of work to date and took two years to complete as it went through several re-writes.

Thank you Jane for joining us on MTA. It was great having you here and learning more about you and your writing style. –Camilla

Book Blurb:

When Natalie Powers returns home for the first time in thirteen years, she must convince everyone she has fully recovered from the mental illness, which has seen her institutionalised for most of her young life.

But instead of being welcomed back, Natalie enters a baffling world of deception. She must fight her way through the lies in order to discover the truth about her mother’s sudden disappearance sixteen years earlier. To do this, Natalie must also try to make sense of the hazy memories from the past that continue to haunt her.

In the village of Little Downey, everybody appears to harbour a mysterious secret, including her father, Frank, the village butcher, who refuses to discuss the circumstances surrounding Natalie’s mother’s disappearance, but who can Natalie trust if not her own father? Especially when it becomes clear her protector and confidante, Dr Moses, is not all he appears.

Meanwhile, a spate of unexplained clifftop suicides has seen the seaside resort go into decline. Are the villagers somehow involved or is something more sinister at work?

Determined to find out what happened to her mother, Natalie must make sure her own frailty and self-doubt does not catapult her back to the mental institution before she can uncover the truth…

Where to find the book.

Waterstones and other online bookstores as well as Amazon.

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

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Ny84Zk

Connect with Jane E James:

www.janeejames.com
https://www.facebook.com/janeejamesauthor/
https://twitter.com/jane_e_james

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Book Love: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – a novel by Rachel Joyce

I could not wait to read this book once I discovered it through social media. The author had me with the title. I deeply enjoyed the journey with Harold Fry and learning about he and his wife. I wasn’t at all suspecting the twist that unravels near the end of the journey. Whoa!

I found it to be a journey of self-discovery and healing for Harold and his wife, Maureen. Along with a varied mix of characters ebbing and flowing throughout the journey. I was inspired by Harold’s listening to the pull to do something absolutely remarkable; without even understanding why he felt the need to do it.

Book Blurb: Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. But before Harold mails off a quick reply, a chance encounter convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. In his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold Fry embarks on an urgent quest. Determined to walk six hundred miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live.

US Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/2LJwHmv

UK Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/2W13NCk