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Author Spotlight: Clare Chase

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I’m delighted to share a few words about the amazing Clare Clase today. I first fell upon her books a few years ago now but it’s her current series following reporter/detective Tara that really had me sit up and take notice. The last in the series, Murder in the Fens, was released this week and I have to say I pretty much read it in one sitting.

About Clare

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Clare Chase writes character-driven mysteries set in the East of England, where she’s lived since she graduated with a degree in English Literature from London University.
She spent her childhood in the English midlands and got hooked on her chosen genre when she was given Richard Scarry’s The Great Pie Robbery, featuring detectives Sam Cat and Dudley Pig! She moved on through Tintin to golden-age crime and contemporary thrillers, raiding the library and her mother and grandmother’s paperback collections.
Like a lot of writers, she never really wanted any other job. This could be the reason for her eclectic ‘career’, which has been full of interest, but possibly lacking in direction! In the past she’s worked everywhere from the University of Cambridge to the local prison. Her most recent day job was at the Royal Society of Chemistry, where she helped teams of scientists organise the delivery of analytical chemistry courses in sub-Saharan Africa. Although she loved it, and her brilliant colleagues, she finally had to switch to full-time writing, to keep up with the deadlines! This fulfils a long-held dream, made possible by her publisher, Bookouture, and she adores it.
Clare’s first break in publishing was thanks to Choc Lit, who took a chance on her debut romantic suspense, You Think You Know Me, which had been shortlisted for Novelicious’ Undiscovered Award. Two more romantic thrillers followed before Clare switched to writing series crime and was thrilled to be taken on by Bookouture. The final novel of a four-book police procedural series for them, featuring journalist-turned-cop, Tara Thorpe is out this week. Meanwhile, the first, Murder on the Marshes, is currently on the 2019 ITW Thriller Awards shortlist.

About the Tara Thorpe series
The Tara Thorpe series is set in the ancient university city of Cambridge, where Clare lives, and is inspired by the location’s contrasts and contradictions. For her next venture – a new cosy mystery series – the action will move to coastal Suffolk, close to where her grandmother lived. Clare loves the picturesque villages in the county, and the way they contrast with the wild North Sea, and Suffolk’s beautiful but eerie estuaries and marshes.

Where next? 
The new series will publish in early 2020 and features obituary writer Eve Mallow. The idea for her profession came after listening to some fascinating interviews with Margalit Fox, who formerly fulfilled that role for the New York Times. (You can find the interviews on YouTube.)
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.

OOH, I’m so looking forward to Clare’s next. Sounds right up my street. Thanks, Clare for popping in and all the very best with your new release and next series x

To find out more about Clare and her books, here is her Amazon link.

 

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My favourite reads of 2019 so far.

I’ve had a strange week, which has included appearing in both the Guernsey Press and on local BBC radio, all in aid of Children’s charity, Ernie’s Angels and, for someone like me, that’s well out of my comfort zone. But, as it’s for charity, sticking my head above the parapet had to be done and there was cake… But the week got me thinking. As a writer I try where I can to support fellow writers and, as it’s nearly halfway through the year, I thought I’d do a book round up of my favourite reads so far. I’m doing a Goodreads challenge, although I have had to jiggle the figures somewhat and am now aiming at 100 for the year instead of my crazy 250 – I’m currently up to 70.

So, below are the book covers of my favourite ten.

Happy reading x

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Paperback Launch – Missing in Wales

Whilst I tend to use my blog for book reviews I do occasionally have bookish news of my own 😂

MISSING IN WALES has taken much longer to appear than I would have hoped. Based on a dream from January 2018 its arrival had more interruptions than the average Brexit debate.

I’m both anxious and excited in equal measure about the launch. Early independent feedback has been positive, in fact. I’ve been spoilt with the lovely comments I’ve had and it’s encouraged me to bring out the paperback early. Here’s the link. The ebook, available for pre-order here, is out 20th July.

BLURB

Alys is fine – don’t try to find us

Izzy Grant is haunted by the abduction of her newborn daughter five-years ago. When a postcard arrives from her missing partner, the man she believes is responsible, saying they’re fine and asking her not to try to find them, she knows she can’t give up hoping. Then she sees a face from her past. Grace Madden. Just where did she disappear to all those years ago? And is there a connection between her disappearance and that of her child?

DC Gabriella Darin, recently transferred from Swansea, is brash, bolshie and dedicated. Something doesn’t fit with the case and she’s determined to find out just what happened all those years ago.

And, just because I can, here’s the opening…

Prologue

It took thirty-six hours for Alys Megan Grant to push her way into the world.

Thirty-six hours of pain where her mother panted and screamed, sweated and cried. She felt as if her body was being rift in two, and Charlie was no help. She grabbed his hand so tightly she felt his bones crunch. She relished in the sight of his pale, horrified face. He’d done this to her, only him – if she could have clawed her way up off the bed and scratched his eyes out, she would have.

It was in that final pain-free second when the midwife put a warm, pink, wrinkled baby into her arms and she first looked down at her daughter, her precious, precious daughter that she fell in love at first sight. Completely. Utterly. Forever.

Chapter One

Past

‘Be careful. It’s the first time you’ve been out with her by yourself.’

‘Give over nagging, Izzy. We’ll be fine, won’t we, gorgeous?’ Charlie said, bending on his haunches and gently running his finger down his daughter’s plump cheek, her dark blue eyes staring back at him. ‘We’re going to let your mammy have some rest while we go to the shops. It’s time we got better acquainted. I can tell you all about football and which team to support.’

‘You will not. Don’t listen, Alys. There’s only one football team worth supporting and it’s not his,’ Izzy teased, feeling redundant now that Charlie had stolen her attention.

This would be the first time they’d been apart since the birth and already she could feel the bonds of motherhood straining at the thought of Alys being out of her sight, even if it was only for half-an-hour. It had only taken a week for her world to shrink to the boundary walls of the house. But she’d never been happier.

Her eyes grazed the pair of them, and love filled every corner. They needed this time, both of them and a few minutes alone after another interrupted night’s sleep would be like a gift from the gods.

‘Now, what about a goodbye kiss from your pretty mam then?’ he said.

Pushing himself to standing, the car seat in the crook of his arm, he leaned in for a kiss reminiscent of the best Hollywood romances.

‘You daft thing,’ she laughed. But secretly she was pleased, more than pleased.

She watched as he reversed the Mini into the road and continued watching until they were out of sight before returning to the warmth of the house. She slipped off her shoes by the front door, fumbling into her slippers and heading for the kitchen. There was washing and ironing, not to mention food to prepare. There were so many things she knew she should be doing but she felt sick with tiredness. With a mug of tea in her hand, she returned to the sofa and, feet propped up on the end, rested back, allowing the silence envelop her.

There was always noise in the cottage. It wasn’t Charlie’s fault that he was one of those men you could hear long before you could see them: Charlie, her one-night-stand, who seemed to have taken up root in both her house and her heart. He was always clomping around the place with a heavy tread and if it wasn’t him, it was one of his mates he’d invited back for her to feed. The house suddenly felt empty with the pervading sound of silence.

She’d close her eyes; just for five minutes…they’d be back soon.

The fire had died back to nothing, the embers just a pale glow in the grate. She turned her head to glance out of the window, her hand instinctively pulling the woollen blanket around her shoulders, a shiver snaking its way across her spine. The last time she’d looked out, the sun had been streaming in through the pane but all that was visible now was the dense grey of twilight. The phone rang, slicing through her sudden fear. She struggled to sit, her neck stiff from the arm of the sofa. A million excuses chased through her mind.

They’ve been delayed, a puncture or, knowing Charlie, he’s run out of petrol.

Her hand lifted the receiver to her ear before gently replacing it. She’d learnt the best way to treat cold callers was by doing exactly that. No comment. No words. Nothing.

She pulled the throw tighter over her shoulders, her eyes now on the clock on the mantelpiece, her mind in a tangle.

Two hours? How the hell could she have slept for so long? Quickly followed by the worst thought of all – he must have had an accident. Even now he’s in some anonymous hospital bed and as for Alys…

Her stomach clenched when there was no need – she’d just ring his mobile. Reaching out a hand, she quickly tapped in the well-remembered number.

The person you are trying to reach is currently unavailable. Please leave a message after the tone.

She was scared now, really scared. He never left his phone switched off even if it was only to check on the football scores. They’d been gone hours. She had no idea where the hell he could have taken her. Alys would need a feed and a nappy change. There was nowhere he’d go, not with a newborn.

She heaved a sigh at her foolishness and, for one long moment, relished the feel of wool against skin as she tried to laugh her fears off. She wasn’t his keeper. They’d got held up. Something had happened, something silly that she couldn’t guess at and, in a minute, she’d hear the creak of the gate and the turn of the key.

The moment passed. The minutes continued ticking and her sliver of calm disintegrated.

In a sudden burst of movement, she leapt from the chair and ran up the stairs.

That’s it. They came in earlier, hours earlier and even now they’re both curled up in their beds, not wanting to wake me.

But her cot was empty, apart from the pale-yellow blanket folded neatly over the end, just the way she’d left it that morning. Their bed was empty too; the duvet flung back any old how, the sheets cold, wrinkled, uninviting.

Outside. Maybe he’d pulled up and decided to close his eyes. Maybe it was like the last time when he forgot his keys and, if Alys had fallen asleep in the car, he might have decided not to wake me.

She remembered the last time. His sheepish grin when she shook him back into the land of the living, which developed into their first big row and ended in a swift coupling against the back of the sofa.

There was post on the mat but she just stepped over it. She wasn’t in the mood for bills and flyers. She just needed to know that Alys was safe.

The air was cold, wiping the smile from her face. There was barely a glimmer of light as twilight switched to dusk. They were far enough away from everyone for darkness, when it hit, to mean exactly that. There wasn’t even a visible moon or any stars to light the way. She took a second to drag air into her lungs, the smell from the winter-flowering jasmine around the door filling her senses, but there was no joy to be had from the scent. Her eyes adjusted enough to see the outline of the gate and the telegraph pole next to it. There was no car, no indication that he’d returned. There was nothing apart from the empty track leading up to the house.

She stayed awhile, a scream building in the back of her throat. Something was wrong, dreadfully wrong – something that she had no way of putting right.

She finally wandered back into the hall, leaving the front door open, the throw trailing in her wake. She was cold down to the bone, but it wasn’t the type of cold that the warmth from wool was going to solve. Her hand stretched towards the phone for a third time, her arm brushing against her breasts, now heavy with milk. She hesitated, her gaze resting on the first nine. Was she overreacting? Was this the paranoid response of a new mum? Maybe. Probably. Hopefully.

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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT Anne Allen

I’m delighted to welcome Anne Allen to my AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Anne many times and was even asked to introduce her at our recent Guernsey Literary Festival. Anne writes a book a year and most recently I’ve read The Inheritance, which had me gripped to my seat. It’s one of my favourite books of the year so far. 


THE INHERITANCE 

How close were Victor Hugo and his copyist?

1862 Young widow Eugénie is left bereft when her husband dies suddenly and faces an uncertain future in Guernsey. A further tragedy brings her to the attention of Monsieur Victor Hugo, living in exile on the island in his opulent house only yards away from Eugénie’s home. Their meeting changes her life and she becomes his copyist, forming a strong friendship with both Hugo and his mistress, Juliette Drouet.

2012 Doctor Tess Le Prevost, Guernsey born though now living in Exeter, is shocked to inherit her Great-Aunt’s house on the island. As a child she was entranced by Doris’s tales of their ancestor, Eugénie, whose house this once was, and who, according to family myth, was particularly close to Hugo. Was he the real father of her child? Tess is keen to find out and returning to the island presents her with the ideal opportunity.

Will she discover the truth about Eugénie and Hugo? A surprise find may hold the answer as Tess embraces new challenges which test her strength – and her heart.

More about Anne

Anne Allen lives in Devon, England by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. However, the longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Her work enabled her to study the human psyche in depth and this has contributed to her characters’ personalities and experiences. The prompt to start writing came after Anne won a true-life story competition in Prima magazine, with a prize of £500 worth of M & S vouchers. Realising writing might actually pay the bills, or at least put food in her mouth, Anne drafted what was to become, years later, the first in The Guernsey Novels series.

Now a full-time writer, (which is not quite the same as writing full-time!) she has published seven novels in the series. However, each one is a standalone story with links to other books and characters. Although not originally planned, Anne is, in effect, writing a saga of Guernsey; featuring numerous characters and stories covering the German Occupation, Victorian Guernsey and the present day. The next as yet un-named book will be another dual-time story, set partly around the late !8th/early 19th century and features privateers and smugglers. Oh, and a ghost! A mix of family drama, mystery and love, the books have proved to appeal to readers of all ages.

Thanks, Anne, for agreeing to appear. I can’t wait to read your next one x

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NEXT ON AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT. THE AMAZING CLARE CHASE, WHOSE NEXT BOOK WILL BE APPEARING, AS IF BY MAGIC, ON MY KINDLE ON THE 24th JUNE 


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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT Suzie Tullett

I’d delighted to have the fab, Suzie Tullett on my AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT today.

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Suzie is a prolific writer, who writes for Bloodhound’s Bombshell arm.

She began her writing career as a scriptwriter after gaining an MA in Television and Radio Scriptwriting from Salford University. From there she was offered a place on the BBC’s New Writers Scheme, which gave her the opportunity to write for their long running series, Doctors.

She now writes romantic comedy and has four novels and counting under her belt. Her third book, Little White Lies and Butterflies was short listed for the Guardian’s Not the Booker prize. As the first of its genre ever to reach that stage, Suzie is pleased to report it came third overall in the public vote. Her most recent novel is The French Escape, a laugh out loud romcom set in the heart of Brittany, a book I devoured in one sitting, last year.

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The French Escape
It’s fair to say that Flick has had a terrible year. Her beloved father died, she had the wedding of her dreams and only hours after the ceremony her husband ran out on her.
Brenda, fed up with her daughter living like a hermit, decides to drag Flick off to France to stay in a chateau. What could be better than an idyllic escape?
But when they arrive Flick discovers the chateau is all but abandoned.
The only upside of her French escape is the handsome and mysterious neighbour, Nate.
Nate loves his life living in the cottage on the grounds of the abandoned chateau but that is about to be put in jeopardy… Available here

Suzie’s also a mentor for Salford University’s Industry Advice Scheme, plus she teaches an Essentials of Novel Writing course. This she designed for people who want to write a novel but don’t know where to start or have written a first draft and now want to lick it into shape.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and in 2018, being lucky enough to live between France and the UK, set up its Brittany Chapter, a group that she continues to actively head.

Now, you’re in for a treat. Suzie has a book coming out soon and she’s let me share a little – I have to tell you I’m nagging her almost on a weekly basis for more than the couple of measly chapters I’ve already read!!

BTW this is my mock up for the cover but actually… I won’t charge, Suzie x

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CHAPTER ONE

Ronnie checked her watch, realising she had just enough time to pour herself a glass of wine before her pizza delivery landed. She giggled as she decanted, raising the glass in a silent toast. Putting it to her lips, she savoured the taste with a smile, at the same time imagining the evening ahead. With a bit of luck, that night was the night.
Intent on drinking every drop, she didn’t bother putting the bottle back in the fridge. There was no point to-ing and fro-ing from one room to another when she didn’t have to. Instead, she took the bottle with her as she headed into the lounge and positioned herself in the window – a large bay that gave a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree outlook, the perfect vantage point. It reminded her of one of those giant curved TV screens that apparently provide an enhanced sense of depth and wider field of view. At least that’s how Nick described them when he decided their television was passed its best. She glanced at the telly that they never did get around to replacing. “Passed its best, my arse.”
Returning her attention back to the street, anticipation bubbled inside of her. Looking first left and then right, she felt like a naughty teenager as she wondered where her delivery had gotten to. Having opted for a barbeque prawn and salsa verde pizza, straight from Bello Italiano’s gourmet range no less, its expensive menu price made it seem even more delicious. “Where are you?” she asked, her eagerness fast becoming impatience.
She took in the houses that made up Holme Lea Avenue while she waited. Two mirroring rows of semi-detached properties, she and Nick had lived at Number 6 all their married life. They’d bought it for a song, such was the state of it back then and Ronnie couldn’t help but smile as she recalled the old blue bathroom suite, the various floral wallpaper designs and the accompanying patterned carpets, all of them migraine inducing. And the kitchen… How she ever dared cook in there was still a mystery. Over the next few years, however, they’d lavished a lot of love and a serious amount of cash on the place, turning it room by room into a home they were both proud of. And unlike the neighbours who’d come and gone over the years, Ronnie couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Holme Lea Avenue was where she’d built a home, raised her daughter. It was where she belonged.
She pondered residents past and present. Some she’d been saddened to see go, others she’d more than happily waved off. Ronnie felt her pulse quicken. Then there were those who refused to move no matter how hard the encouragement.
Her spirits lifted once more when she at last spotted a Bello Italiano vehicle and downing the contents of her wine glass, she excitedly topped it up again in readiness. She watched the driver pull up and check what she assumed to be a delivery note before getting out of the vehicle, pizza box in hand. “Let the fun commence,” Ronnie said, giggling as the unsuspecting chap headed for the house next door.

Thank you, Suzie, for popping by. Look forward to meeting up in France soon x

You can find Suzie via these links

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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT JEAN MEAD

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT 

Welcome to a new series. A showcase of writers who’s books I’ve enjoyed and whose company I relish. Writing is such a lonely occupation that the online friendship of fellow wordsmiths is a must.

The first author is the wonderful Jean Mead. Have you read Hannah? A wonderful book and I’m about to start on the next one, Hannah’s inheritance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean’s interest in writing historical fiction began at school where English and history were the only subjects she actually enjoyed. The history teacher was brilliant, and when she told tales of the past – the ring of clashing swords, the cries of battle, and the sobs of those to be beheaded were brought to life and held Jean enthralled.


The English teacher was appalling! Unable to control a class she would tell the children to write a story. Most of the pupils would groan but Jean was in her element. Whilst writing she forgot she was in a classroom which was a real bonus. As an adult it was second nature to write short stories and soon these began to appear in magazines in America, Australia, Ireland and the UK. An ambition to write a novel began quite by chance when she came across derelict Dorothea Quarry, an astounding beautiful and haunting place. Stepping over the rusty wire of a wrecked Blondin, the idea of The Widow Makers came to her. There was extensive research as she knew nothing of the slate quarries of North Wales, or the lives of the men working there in the 19th century. With no internet at that time, research was done in libraries, museums, archives in Caernarfon and Penrhyn Castle. There was a great deal of travelling between her renovated chapel in the Welsh hills to Caernarfon and hours of ploughing through ancient documents. The driving force at this time was to write the story of Joe Standish, a fictional quarry worker.

The first book in the series The Widow Makers 1842-1862 was traditionally published in 2005 and republished in 2012.The Welsh Books Council awarded a Literary Grant for the publication of the second book The Widow Makers: Strife.

 

 

 

 

 

Book three and four The Widow Makers: Road’s End and Tommy followed fairly promptly. While still living in North Wales, her home overlooked by an old slate quarry, Jean wrote Freya 800 AD. A Viking era book portraying the life of a woman living more than a thousand years ago at the beginning of the Viking raids on Britain. Research took her to longhouses, longships and museums in Ireland. Discovering how our northern ancestors really lived.

It was a strange decision, one prompted by her then agent Sylvia Land that Jean embarked on writing a psychological thriller Kate’s Secret. Because historical fiction is Jean’s forte it wasa difficult project. Though she did enjoy writing without stop-start research a historical novel demands.


Jean soon went back to her comfort zone of historical fiction and Hannah and Hannah’s Inheritance were created.The book in progress is another historical and based in Cornwall in 1803. With no thought of retiring from writing, she plans to carrying on until the Big Editor in the Sky takes out his redpen. When relaxing with a book Jean chooses to read historical fiction. Some favourite authors are Judith Arnopp, Mary Wood, Elizabeth Chadwick, Dauphne du Maurier to name just four.

Jean moved to Brittany in 2016 and has settled in a very rural environment. She loves the peace and quiet where the loudest sounds are made by the birds.

THANK YOU, JEAN. NEXT TIME IT’S THE TURN OF SUZIE TULLETT, WRITER AT BOMBSHELL/BOOKOUTURE.

Jenny x