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And then there was love: Annie tells us how

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop Book Cover True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop
#2 Lonely Hearts Bookshop
Annie Darling
love, marriage, fiction, humour
HarperCollins
(10 Aug. 2017)

It's a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good job, four bossy sisters and a needy cat must also have want of her one true love. Or is it?

Another delightful novel from the author of The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts. Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond and Jenny Colgan

Verity Love – Jane Austen fangirl and an introvert in a world of extroverts – is perfectly happy on her own (thank you very much), and her fictional boyfriend Peter is very useful for getting her out of unwanted social events. But when a case of mistaken identity forces her to introduce a perfect stranger as her boyfriend, Verity’s life suddenly becomes much more complicated.

Johnny could also use a fictional girlfriend. Against Verity’s better judgement, he persuades her to partner up for a summer season of weddings, big number birthdays and garden parties, with just one promise - not to fall in love with each other…

An Interview with the Author

  1.     Can you tell your readers something about your book and the inspiration behind it

It’s the second book in my Lonely Hearts Bookshop series. The inspiration for the series is really my lifelong love of romance novels and bookshops. So, each book in the series takes a trope of romantic fiction and turns it ninety degrees. So with True Love, I wanted to take the trope of The Other Woman and it’s actually Johnny, the love interest, who’s The Other Man. And my other inspiration was Pride & Prejudice, Verity, our heroine is obsessed with the novel (as am I!) and is also one of five sisters, like Elizabeth Bennet.

  1.     How much research do you do before you write? And for this book?

I didn’t really have to do too much research though it’s never a chore to have to reread Pride & Prejudice. (There’s a quote from P&P at the start of each chapter.) And then there are little things I have to look up and check as I’m writing. Thank goodness for Wikipedia and Google!

  1.     How helpful do you find authority figures such as real booksellers when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

So many of my friends work in bookshops and are absolutely passionate about their jobs and I find that people who have a passion are always happy to talk about it. Of course, the flip side of that is them telling me “that would never happen in a bookshop!” But I’m writing a novel, not a practical guide to book selling so we agreed to disagree.

  1.     How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted?

I have been rejected so very many times. The entire publishing process features so many different types of rejection from trying to get an agent to readers not liking the book and giving you not so great reviews. It can be quite soul-destroying at times but I do try to be a big girl about it. And a constructive bad review can actually be quite helpful – though I’d much rather have a good review!

  1.     Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this.

I do all sorts of writing from novelling to journalism so I’ve always earned my living from writing. I would love to be able to focus solely on writing novels but I’m not there yet.

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Why tea?

Author: Caroline James talking about her new book, Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me

Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me is a story about a friendship between two women. Jo and Hattie are like chalk and cheese but have been great friends for many years and finding themselves alone, without partners in mid-life, they embark on a holiday which changes their lives. I chose this subject because one in three people in the UK over the age of fifty live on their own, either through divorce, death or choice and I wanted to show that it is possible to have a second bite at the apple and begin life again no matter what your circumstances; age should not be a deterrent. My approach is to embrace these years, run down the road to happiness whatever it throws at you along the way. It is never too late to have fun and begin again. It is set in the Caribbean on the island of Barbados because I know the island well and think it the perfect setting for a novel.

How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I know what I am going to write about, there isn’t a bucket list of topics, it is very specific. I’ve probably thought about the subject matter for some time or it is bubbling away as I come to the end of writing a novel. I have a big note book per novel that I section and gradually fill with notes, images and anything relevant and this becomes my bible as I write the book.

How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

The research is a work in progress, as the book develops the research is done. I never know quite which route the characters will take and they often steer off the beaten track till I reign them back in so I’ll research as they take this course. I love research and can often go off-piste; far removed from the topic and then have to force myself to get back to the job in hand.

What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

I visit the place when the main scenes are set. I have to be able to walk around the area and really get a feel for the place. I talk to people and try to imagine the scene I am creating through the eyes of the locals. The internet is invaluable and so easy to gain information but I read too – any book I can get my hands on that has useful information.

How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

I don’t write crime so have never had to approach the police but my books usually have a festival or main event somewhere in the story and I contact organisers and people in authority who run these to ensure that I am accurate when describing what happens. For example, Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me is set around an annual gypsy horse fair in Cumbria, England, and is the largest of its kind in the world. It was set up by a Charter under the reign of James II in 1685 and lasts for a week. The events there are centuries old traditions and have to be accurately described. Organisers are generally delighted to help as they know my books will give positive publicity.

Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

Yes – I had a zillion rejections with my debut novel before I took control and self-published. The book shot to #3 in Women’s Fiction on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun Newspaper. The press came out in force and the book was a big success. Suddenly publishers were interested.

Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

Yes, I absolutely would. I would advise that the self-publisher is as professional as possible and does everything in their power to ensure a superb book. From cover design to proof-reading and editing, get professional help and make it the best you can. Providing you have written something that has a saleable market, remember that marketing is critical and if you don’t know how to do this pay someone who does – it will make or break your book. I have turned publishers down because I thought they weren’t a good fit or something didn’t quite resonate, self-publishing is very powerful now and cream rises to the top! You will get noticed if you write well and work hard.

Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Does anyone really tell you what they earn from writing? In the UK the top 10% of professional authors make £60k plus per annum with the top 5% over £100k. Lower earning writers (possibly the majority) average around £11k. Writing is the icing on the cake for me not just from novels but articles, short stories and features and I know that you are only as good as your last book and have to keep on writing.

What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I was due to make a speech to a large audience and having been told by the host that she’d announce a ‘comfort break,’ then I was on stage. I was halfway to the ladies room when I heard over the mic, “I’d like you all to welcome Caroline James…” Flustered, I had to hurl myself back on stage and cross my legs for the next forty minutes…

 

 

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Ian Hiatt explains his killing spree

Interview with Ian Hiatt

Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about?

I think when every writer starts their vowel movements for the first time, they usually have grand and noble purpose behind it.

DEATH OF AN ASSASSIN and books in the Saint Roch series are just plain about having fun. Both as a writer and as a reader. There's still be character development, high stakes, and things-to-ponder kicking around between the cover and backflap, but they're blended in with the gunfights and profanity.

As for where this topic itself came from, I've always been a fan of Greek mythology and the mythologies of any other culture I can find a book for. But so many of the ancient tales are too far removed from our own modern culture and can come across as dry. Not to mention, there are far too many instances where Generic Hero Man triumphs over Terrible Monster Lady in those stories. It's not fair and it's only one frame of reference. The villain of a story is all about perspective, so I thought, why not show tell a story more akin to that damned Odyssyeus crashing his boat into the island home of the Sirens just because they happened to be singing and his crew couldn't help themselves.

How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

I mull over a story idea for months/years before fully settling on what it is I want to write. I usually start writing as a “get my feet wet” sort of a thing. If it requires a great amount of research, such as historical fiction, I'll do that in spurts. But in general, I only research when I question what I'm about to write. If it's a topic I'm not well versed in, I find out what I'm missing.

Nothing makes a story drag along more than inadequate research. And nothing brings it to a faster ass-grinding halt than too much research.


How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

Countless. The best thing you can do with rejections is keep track of who rejected you (so you're not hucking your book at them multiple times) but not how many times you've been rejected.

Of course, if those rejections come with notes you can do two things: 1) realize that no one is an expert on reading, writing, or publishing and that their advice may not be iron-clad, 2) realize that the people you're pitching to do know a thing or two about reading, writing, and publishing and that you may want to take their advice. If those two things sound as though they are contradicting each other, don't worry---they are. There's no perfect formula for “making it” in this business and anyone who tells you there is is likely trying to sell you something. Be like goblin-made armor. Take in only that which makes you stronger.

For numbers, this was my second completed manuscript that I pitched at agents, editors, and passing strangers on the street. It's one of the many, many, many started stories, though.

 

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Why the Question was Perilous: Barry Finlay tells all.

Questions for Authors: Barry Finlay author of A Perilous Question responds

 
  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?
The premise for my new novel, A Perilous Question, is based on a question asked of me by a teenage girl during a tour of a dormitory in Africa we had helped to fund through our fundraising activities. Her question was, “When are you taking me to Canada?” I always wondered what would have happened to her if she had asked the wrong person. There was nothing holding her there. Her parents had died of HIV/Aids and she had no siblings. As far as I know, the real girl was fine, but the girl and her friend in my book are not so fortunate.  

I believe it is a relevant subject with human trafficking being so prevalent. It points to a need for better education. The teenager in Africa was either unaware of the potential risk or willing to take the chance for a better life. The fact that I’ve visited Africa twice and have some familiarity with the education system provides some uniqueness.
  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
The tour of the dormitory took place in 2009 and I wrote my first novel, The Vanishing Wife, which had little to do with this topic, before I tackled A Perilous Question. It was always in the back of my head to write a novel about the subject. I do have some notes about topics, but I knew that this was one I just had to write about.
  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
I did some research on human trafficking before I started writing and continued throughout the writing process.  It was rolling around in my head for about 4 years and I researched off and on during that time.
  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?
The internet is my primary source, but I always check more than one article on the subject before using the information. For both my novels, I spoke with Detectives who are experts in human trafficking, negotiations and general police procedure. One scene in my first novel takes place in a Casino and I talked to some employees at one we have locally and got a tour of the restaurant during quiet hours.
  1. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?
In my opinion, talking to subject matter experts is priceless. It adds authenticity to the book. Things just don’t happen the way they do on CSI. I was thrilled with my conversations with the members of the local police department.
I am fortunate to have contacts that got me in the door and introduced me to the right people. The detectives I met were extremely forthcoming and giving of their time. 
Without those contacts, I guess I would start with their Public Relations team. I think the level of success in approaching them will depend on the police force and their particular outreach programs. The people I spoke with seemed to be happy that I was taking the time to try to get it right.
  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?
 When I wrote my first book, a non-fiction story called, Kilimanjaro and Beyond, I received my share of rejection letters. My second non-fiction story called I Guess We Missed the Boat, was published by a small press. They ultimately became insolvent and I have been self publishing ever since.

 If I may, I would just like to comment on self-publishing versus publishing.
There are definite advantages to being a author published by a publishing house. Some that I can think of off the top of my head are improved distribution, greater access to mainstream newspaper, TV and radio spots and opportunities to enter more prestigious literary competitions. 
However, there are many advantages to self-publishing, including maintaining control of your work, setting your own deadlines, etc. and there are also many promotional opportunities and more every day. There is still some stigma attached to self-publishing, but it is disappearing. 
My experience with the publishing house was that I still had to do most of the marketing and promotion myself. In short, there’s nothing wrong with chasing the dream, but someone who is self-published should never consider themselves less of an author.

 
  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?
I think self-publishing Kilimanjaro and Beyond helped me find a publisher for my second book.
  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?
 In my opinion, it helps to demonstrate a level of commitment before approaching a publisher. They want to know you are in it for the long haul and that you have some sense of the business. Some sales and awards are also helpful. Some publishers may be willing to take you on without that, but I certainly think your chances of being noticed improve with self-publishing experience

 
  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?
Writing does not provide sufficient income for me to live on, although it is getting better. Now that I have four books on the market, I’m seeing some regular monthly income. There is a great deal of competition so that makes it difficult to stand out. I think most writers have to be prepared to supplement their income somehow.
  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?
I get some strange questions when I’m signing books and many people want to talk about their own writing or other personal experiences. Someone asked me once how long an elephant lives. I guess I was supposed to know that because I wrote a book about Kilimanjaro in Africa. Any opportunity to meet the readers is a great experience.

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Will this secret make her fall?

Questions for Author EJ Chadwell
Book: How the mighty fall
  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique? 
(I am answering this question very vaguely because I don’t want to spoil the story for you. I will tell you the actress’ name and book titles before you write your review, but after you read the book).
I must confess, I like to read biographies and autobiographies of powerful people. In this particular case, I read an autobiography of an actress active from 1917 to about 1953, who hid a powerful secret that could destroy her life and career.  This stimulated me to think about how many things could have gone wrong, and how a secret like this could literally destroy the many people involved.
How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? 
This story took about six months.  During that time period, I wrote detailed descriptions of each character, and then proceeded to write diary entries for the main characters.  I imbued each character with major virtues and flaws that could either help them or destroy them.  I gave each of the main characters a motive to kill.
  1. Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
Yes, I use a notebook (which I carry in my handbag in case any ideas pop into my head while I am out and about), index cards, and also write my thoughts on a file on my laptop. This way nothing can get lost.
I choose to write this story first because the characters developed quickly and easily. In essence they told me their stories.
How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
This is my first book, and the research took me 6 months.
  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?
I spent many hours on Google, in the library, reading books, and on the phone talking with NYPD public relations office, which was extremely helpful. Also, I belong to writer’s groups such as: Mystery Writers of America, Sisters In Crime, International Thriller Writers, and found if I had any questions they were happy to assist in answering them.
How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?
I called the NYPD public relations office countless times, and I told them I was writing a book and I had some questions. They were patient and helpful.  I find if you call the public relations department they are always willing and able to help.  I find being upfront about being a writer is the best way to get your questions answered.  Generally, if I am calling any authority I always call their public relations office.  If they can’t answer the question, they will find out and follow-up with me.
  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?
 About 15 times, I made the short list on my first submission to a publisher, but not the final cut.  This gave me encouragement.  Then I was told by another publisher to rewrite the last chapter and then they would recommend it for publication.  Another publisher said, he would publish it, if I rewrote the book from a specific characters point of view, etc.  So even though I received several rejections, there were encouragements along the way.
 Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?
No, I just kept sending it out until Jaffa Books made me a publishing offer.
  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher?
I think the publishing industry is rapidly changing and the old ways of publishing are dying.
Although I did not self-publish, I would cautiously recommend self-publishing.
If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?
Here is why: you are immediately paid a good royalty rate; you are in control of all decisions about the book such as price, layout, design. Also, if a major publisher decides to publish an author’s books, it is still up to the author to market the book.  The publisher does nothing to help. Building an audience before approaching a publisher will certainly help get the book published.
  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?
Not yet, this is my first book.
  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?
 I haven’t done a book tour yet.

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