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Sunday, 28 June 2020

WALKING ON WILD AIR - an interview with Yvonne Marjot


My guest today is my dear friend Yvonne Marjot, whose wonderful novel Walking on Wild Air has just been re-released through Ocelot Press.  



Welcome, Yvonne.  And many congratulations on the new launch.

What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make up stories and poems. I have a copy of my first science fiction story, written aged 10. It was about a colony ship travelling for thousands of years to seed a new planet with human life. My mum used to say I wouldn’t know the truth if I fell over it in the street. Hmm… I wonder what she meant?

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

Walking on Wild Air is a paranormal romance, a ghost story with a twist, set partly in Sri Lanka and partly on a Scottish island. Sushila Mackenzie travels to her father’s home to scatter his ashes. There she meets a man who will change her life forever, but there is much more to Dougie MacLean than meets the eye. Can their love survive the collision of such different worlds?

What was the inspiration for this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology, and ancient ideas about little gods everywhere: the genius loci of springs and woods. I wanted to write a story which crossed over between the real world and a magical realm, and to set it on the Scottish island where I live.

Did you do any research for the book?

I love research. It’s a great excuse for putting off the writing. Actually, a friend challenged me to ‘write a romance in six weeks’ and I did so: the first draft of Walking on Wild Air was written in a mad rush during one school summer holiday. Only afterwards did I go away and do some reading around the subject, and it was then that I wrote the parts of the story which give Dougie’s point of view.

What does a typical writing day involve for you?

I work full time and until recently I was also a lone parent, so writing has been my escape from real life. However, I wasn’t able to really get my teeth into until my sons grew up and left home. Now, during lockdown, I try to get up and write a little every morning before getting on with my day. It’s been so successful that I’m determined to keep doing it even when I go back to work.

How do you decide on the names for your characters?

Names are really important to me. Sometimes I choose them because their underlying meaning speaks to me. Dougal comes from a Gaelic phrase, ‘the dark stranger’ (Dubh Gall), which I thought was appropriate. Sushila is named after the daughter of a man I worked with decades ago. I never met her, but he spoke often about how wonderful she was, and I wanted to channel some of that affection into my character.

Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?

When I start writing a novel I need to know the names of my characters and to have a fell for the kinds of people they are. It’s vital I know the ending/climax, and I often write that before I start work. Then it’s a question of writing towards the ending. I make notes for myself along the way, but I never have a formal plan.

Which writers have influenced your own writing?

I’m a reader first of all, and I read very widely, but my favourite genres are fantasy and SciFi. I’ve been hugely influenced by writers such as Ursula K Le Guin, an absolute master of her art, and also by Barbara Kingsolver who writes lovely contemporary literary fiction often with a scientific or ecological theme. I’ve also deliberately read many modern writers of paranormal fiction to work out what I like, and don’t like, about their styles. 

Now the book is published and ‘out there’ how do you feel?

I’ve really enjoyed revisiting Walking on Wild Air, which was first published in 2016, and rewriting it to make it even better than before. This is my favourite of all my books so far. I’m delighted that it’s going to be available again. 

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Be prepared to work hard, and to make little or no money. Do it because you love it—because not to write would be intolerable. Read widely, learn from your mistakes, but most of all have fun!

What can we expect from you in the future?

This year I will also be re-publishing my archaeological romances, The Calgary Chessman trilogy. I’m working on the second book in a sequence of post-apocalyptic SciFi/Fantasy novels, Tales of the Broken Road. Publication has been deferred because of Covid-19 and I now hope it will come out in 2021. My book of short stories, Treacle and Other Twisted Tales, is still in print and there’s definitely another collection of short stories quietly stacking up in my files. Am I ever going to stop writing? Not a chance.

Thanks for visiting, Yvonne.  Please come again!


More about Yvonne:

Yvonne Marjot is a published poet and author, and once won a case of port in a poetry competition. Her four novels, the Calgary Chessman trilogy of archaeological romances, and the paranormal romance Walking on Wild Air, have recently come out of contract and she will be self-publishing them in 2020. Her collection of short stories, Treacle and Other Twisted Tales, is still in print.

She lives on a Scottish island where she is volunteering during the Covid19 lockdown, but normally runs the local public library. She has three grown-up children and a very naughty cat.



More about Walking on Wild Air:

She is a wounded soul fleeing a terrible grief.  He has been alone forever.  They find solace in each other on a remote Scottish island, but can love survive the collision of such different worlds?

Escape to a place forged not by time, but by memories.

"A story as beautiful and haunting as its Scottish Highlands location." Shani Struthers, author of the Psychic Surveys series.

"If you want a story with romance, magic, mystery and the paranormal, then surely this is the book for you."  Edyth Harrison.

"A story to touch the heart."  Christine Nedahl.


Monday, 22 June 2020

DARK & DISCREET



Darkness lurks beneath London’s glittering surface… 

Announcing a new anthology about the shadier side of Britain’s capital, 
and the background to my part of it.

Although I’ve never lived in London and have only ever visited as a tourist, I still feel a strong affinity with the city.  My mother’s side of the family all came from London, so you could almost say it’s in my blood.

My contribution to this new anthology, a short story entitled A Discreet Distance, has a particular significance for me.  In its original form, it was one of my very early attempts at writing fiction.   

The initial idea for the story was inspired by a book I’d read when I was learning French at school: Le Grand Meaulnes, by Alain-Fournier – first published in 1913, a year before its 27-year-old author was killed during the first month of World War One.  The novel has been translated into English several times, with titles including The Wanderer, The Lost Domain and The Land of Lost Content, and is based partly on Fournier’s own experience of a lifetime search for a lost love.

The first version of A Discreet Distance appeared far longer ago than I care to remember.  It was extremely short, it contained no dialogue, and the characters didn’t even have names.  What kind of story is that, I hear you ask – and I would answer: What indeed?  But like the dog walking on its hind legs, at that stage in my writing career the miracle was not that it was done well, but that it was done at all.

Over the years the story has seen several expansions and revisions, including the introduction of dialogue, names for the two principal characters (David and Caroline), and a significant reworking of the ending.  But the one thing which has remained constant throughout is the setting: a chance encounter on a London Underground train.  David finds Caroline again after an absence of more than thirty years, but in a way he could never have imagined...

A previous version of the story was shortlisted for Story Tyne 2019, and its latest reincarnation has now found a home in Dark London.  This anthology, which contains a total of eighteen gripping stories spread over two volumes, is released on 25th June – that’s just three days away – and all proceeds from the sale will be donated to two London charities: The London Communities Foundation and Centrepoint. 

If you’re stuck indoors and looking for something to read, look no further.  Click here to buy Volume One and here to buy Volume Two.

Monday, 11 May 2020

VEG OUT!


This week (11-17 May 2020) is National Vegetarian Week in the UK.  Whilst I’m not a vegetarian myself, I do have a keen interest in meat-free food, and a few years ago I did some research into the basic principles of vegetarian and vegan cookery.

Officially, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat in any form, and this includes fish, shellfish and poultry.  Vegans take this principle one stage further, and do not consume any animal-derived derived products at all.

So how do those who don’t eat meat obtain the protein they need in their diet?

The answer is: surprisingly easily.  Proteins consist of 22 different amino acids, of which eight are essential to our health.  Non-meat proteins contain some – but not always all – of these eight essential amino acids.  The secret of getting all your protein from non-meat sources is simply knowing how to combine foods to ensure that all eight amino acids are present. 

Non-meat sources of protein fall into four main categories:

GRAINS: Rice, cereal, corn, wheat (including bread and pasta)

PULSES: Beans, peas, lentils, peanuts (which, despite their name, are not actually nuts)

MILK PRODUCTS: Milk, cheese, yoghurt

SEEDS (including nuts)

Three basic combinations of these food groups will provide the eight essential amino acids.  These combinations are:

GRAINS + PULSES

GRAINS + MILK PRODUCTS

PULSES + SEEDS

It might sound complicated, but it isn't.  In fact, you might already be eating some of these combinations without even realising it.  For example, beans on toast combines grains and pulses, and cheese on toast combines grains and milk.  One point worth remembering when planning a meal is that all the protein doesn’t necessarily have to be in the main course.

You don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy vegetarian food.  To find out more about National Vegetarian Week, click on the link at the beginning of this article.  If you’d like to know more about vegetarianism and/or veganism in general, including some tempting recipes, take a look at The Vegetarian Society website and The Vegan Society website.

Happy cooking!

Saturday, 9 May 2020

FIFTEEN MINUTES OF LOCKDOWN SILLINESS

Yesterday morning I spent some time chatting on Skype with my very good friend and fellow-author David W Robinson.  This was the eventual result:



You can find out more about David and his writings on his own website: www.dwrob.com.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

BOOK REVIEW: 52 WEEKS OF WRITING by Mariëlle S Smith



It's said that everyone has a book inside them. 

As more and more of us face having to stay indoors and avoid social contact, this would be a wonderful opportunity to find that book.

This amazing workbook will be a great help to any writer, from complete beginners to published authors, via any stage in between.  Accessible and understandable but not over-simplistic, it helps you to set your writing goals and - just as important - to keep to them.  I've found it invaluable in combatting the dreaded writer's block.  Highly recommended.

Read on for more details about the book, and news of an exciting giveaway.



52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner

Are you ready to become the writer you were always meant to be?
52 Weeks of Writing will get you cracking by making you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and goals an entire year long.
52 Weeks of Writing will help you dig deep by offering questions and writing prompts designed to unravel whatever truths about your writing you’re ready for.
52 Weeks of Writing will keep you inspired by delivering a thought-provoking writing quote every week.

-          Do you struggle with setting goals that reflect your daily reality?
-          Do you want to practise breaking goals down into manageable chunks?
-          Would you like more insight into your writing habit(s) and figure out why you keep getting in your own way?
-          And do you want to create a sustainable writing practice that honours your needs and desires as a writer?

Then the 52 Weeks of Writing: Author Journal and Planner is for you.
52 Weeks of Writing brings together every lesson Mariëlle S. Smith has learned as a writing coach and writer. Wary as she is of comparisonitis and unhealthy competition, this author journal and planner was designed to help writers develop and fine-tune a practice that works for them.
If you’re ready to get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be, pick up your copy of 52 Weeks of Writing today.

Purchase Link



Author Bio –

Social Media Links –



Giveaway to win….
·         THREE paperback copies of the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner,
·         ONE coaching session.

          
To enter, just click on this link:



Sincere thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.

Saturday, 29 February 2020

WHAT A REVELATION!

On Thursday evening (27th February) I went to Prestwich Library for a very special event: the launch of Jo Fenton's latest thriller Revelation.  I had the pleasure of working with Jo as editor of this novel, and I can assure you that she's really excelled herself this time.

To whet your appetite, here she is, reading the opening pages:



UPDATE: IF YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE WITH THE PLAYBACK, TRY HERE.


Revelation (A Becky White Thriller) 

Manchester, 1989 

A student, Rick, is found dead in halls of residence.  

His friends get caught up in the aftermath: Dan, who was in love with Rick; and Becky, who is in love with Dan.  

Their fraught emotions lead them into dark places - particularly a connection to a mysterious Kabbalistic sect.  

Will Becky discover who killed Rick in time to save her best friend?

Purchase Links:

Author Bio – Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

Social Media Links – Website www.jofenton137.com          

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.

Friday, 28 February 2020

CROOKED CAT AUTHOR OF THE WEEK - DAY SEVEN: THE NEXT CHAPTER

Today is the last day of my series of posts as Crooked Cat's featured author, and I'd like to bring you up to date with my latest news and my plans for the future.

At present I have six novels published, and all of them started out with Crooked Cat.  Three of them (Nice Girls Don't, Never on Saturday and Finding Nina) are still published by Crooked Cat, whilst Heathcliff: The Missing Years is now with Crooked Cat's Darkstroke imprint, about which I spoke in more detail yesterday.  The other two (The Ghostly Father and The Unkindest Cut of All), following reversion of rights, were revised and re-released through Ocelot Press.



Ocelot Press is a small group of independent authors who publish our books under a collective umbrella.  At present we have 20 books available, with more releases planned for the next few months.  If you want to know more, take a look at our website and our Facebook page.

The Ghostly Father has also recently been released as an audiobook, beautifully narrated by Danielle Cohen and Philip Rose.  This is a brand-new venture for me, and I shall be very interested to see how it fares.

In the meantime, I have a couple of fiction projects on the go, and I'm also working (very slowly) on a poetry collection.   Whether any of these ever see the light of day remains to be seen.  But if you want to keep up to date with what I'm doing, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Amazon.

Thank you for keeping me company this week.  And don't forget, you can still buy all my Kindle titles for just 99p each by clicking on the book covers on the right.  Do it now, before the prices go back up!