Thursday, 13 July 2017

So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye.



On Saturday, I bade a sad au revoir to Annie-Rose, my 1988 customised 2CV6 Charleston. Now that the other Grumpy Old Sod is retired, we can't justify or afford to run two cars, so she has been sold, and is going to France, to live out her days in the Limousin region.

My love affair with these extraordinary French beauties began when I was 15, and a youth leader had a bright yellow one. I loved the shape, the chugging 'gawd-I'm-struggling-here' noise the engine made and the way other drivers' eyes widened in fear as the little car rolled dramatically when cornering.

I never thought I'd actually own one (mainly because I didn't drive), but the serendipitous coming together of passing my test and a local mum wanting to get rid of a red and white Dolly, got me my first 2CV. She had Paris stickers and pictures of the Eiffel Tower, and I bought her outwith asking the GOS, so had to park her in a side street until I plucked up courage and told him.
Red and white Dolly (not mine)

It took me a week of determined effort to master the gears. If you've never driven a vintage Citroen (and they are now vintage cars) this is what the dashboard looks like:


They have so many quirks and oddities (I have started one with the obligatory crank), and they are temperamental to industrial strength, but in a world of boring lookalike grey cars, they stand alone. And you can always locate them in multi-story car parks.

I am a member of 2CVGB, which meant I used to rock up to the local group every now and then. Many of them owned multiple cars, known as 'the fleet' and it was there that I bought a 1988 Plums and Custard Dolly for You Must Be Mad's 18th birthday. It had been 'moddied' by its previous owner, meaning that it could reach scary top speeds of over 90 mph. She used to take on the boy racers at traffic lights, and venture into the outside lanes of motorways, with me clinging onto the seat for dear life.
Plums and Custard Dolly

She learned to drive on it ~ we called the car Tintin, because of the Herge figure on the door, and the noise it made going uphill. It was the nearest I got to a 'fleet', and we brushed off the inevitable 'Are you going to mate them?' comments from passing locals when they were parked out front for cleaning. Eventually, when you could see the road passing under the floor mats, daughter sold Tintin, and I was back to one car again.

Annie-Rose also came from the local group too. Originally, she was light and dark grey, but in a moment of madness that I've never regretted, I had her resprayed pink. She is, I believe, unique, and we have enjoyed so many adventures over the years, turning heads and provoking stories of 2CVs owned by other people in their youth. I have rarely returned from shopping trips without finding someone admiring her, or wanting to ask questions about her.

I shall miss the quirkiness, the stubborn refusal ever to start first time in cold weather, the lack of proper heating meaning your fingers go blue in winter, waving to other 2CV drivers and the cameraderie of owning a car that ignorant people, who've never sat in one, regard as belonging properly in a circus tent.

Most of all, I shall always remember, with great fondness, the many many days when my 2CVs and I have gone bombing along a country road, hood rolled right back, sunshine pouring down from a blue sky and Diana Ross blasting out of the cassette player. You can't get much closer to heaven than that!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

'Twas Brexit ...



Written jointly on Twitter by @WeNeedEU @TheFlyingSirens @carolJhedges
and @DanzierLea (with apologies to Lewis Carroll)

'Twas Brexit, and the slimy Gove
Did lie, dissembling, in the Mail
All flimsy was the case for Leave
And Remainers' wrath prevailed.

Beware the Bozzawock my son,
The stupid smile, the floppy hair
Beware the Davistwat & shun
The Devious Maybot Lair

We took Verhofstadt's blade in hand
Long time the Leadsome foe we sought
So rested we by the magic tree
And stood a while distraught

And while in uffish thought they stood,
The Bozzawock, with wig ablaze,
Came whuffling through the London 'hood
And burbled as it came!

One two, One two and with th'EU
The Brexit bayed and showed a crack
"We want it dead, not white nor red,
Nor blue, but on its back.''

The end (or is it?)

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Once Upon a Nightmare


This is the story of Anna and Stefan. These are not their real names, but they are real people, and their story is all too real. Anna and Stefan come from Hungary and live in the next town to me. Anna works in the local library, which is how I met her, leading 'Baby Rhyme Time' when Little G and I used to rock up every Thursday to sing along.

Anna and Stefan arrived here twelve years ago, moved into a flat and found jobs. Stefan works for an agency in the social care industry, on low wages, visiting elderly people in their homes to help them live an independent life. Anna had a variety of jobs, but the arrival of their 2 lovely children meant that she was not in continuous work, as she took time off to care for her babies.

Neither of them ever thought about returning home outwith family visits. As Anna told me: 'Hungary has an awful despot as a prime minister.' And so their lives pottered on, the kids grew, started school, and Anna gave birth to their third child.

Then Brexit happened and their lives suddenly turned from OK to nightmare. It started with the abuse. Comments and looks if they spoke their mother tongue in the street. Stefan came home to find a group of local men waiting for him. He was threatened, called names and told to 'go back where he came from'. The abuse went on. The family went to the police. The harassment ceased. Then their very  loved cat was poisoned. The family stopped feeling safe, and started to look around for new accommodation.

Eventually, the council found them a small derelict house that had been used by druggies as a base. It was filthy, needles everywhere and nothing 'worked'. Luckily, Stefan is a practical man, and their friends all piled in to make the house habitable again. Once they were settled, they decided to apply for permanent residence. And the nightmare began all over again.

To complete the 86 page documents, Stefan needed 5 years of payslips, bank statements etc. 3 kilograms of documents. They managed to get this together, sent it off, and the Home Office promptly 'lost' some of the documents. Three months later, they were requested to resubmit everything. (This is only the first stage ~ it gets them a permanent residence card, which is compulsory for a nationality application.)

And it isn't free. It will cost Anna and Stefan £1,500 each, plus £1,000 for each child. Did I say that they both work in low-waged jobs? But even if they get the money together, that may well not be the end of their problem. There is worse. Much worse. Because Anna doesn't have 5 years continuous employment, having taken time out to be a stay at home mum, she cannot apply now with Stefan but must wait until next May.

And there is more: Stefan and Anna are not married, so Anna, in the eyes of the government, has to prove she is a family member. She may have no right to remain here. Mistakes and missteps dog the application process. As she says: 'Twelve years, & 3 children doesn't count.'  Once Stefan's application, and that of the children goes through, she could be told to leave. Who knows?

So while our MPs posture and bluff and accuse the EU (from whom WE chose to detach ourselves) of 'bullying' and 'intimidating' the UK, I offer this little (true) story to help get a sense of perspective. Anna and Stefan are just ordinary hard-working, tax-paying people. Like you. Stefan looks after elderly frail people, maybe like someone in your family. Two of their children go to a local school, like yours do. They have made their life here. And this life is being stress-tested and torn apart. Needlessly.




Sunday, 25 June 2017

Inspiration or Perspiration? A Writer's Life.


So here we are, almost the end of June and I am reassured that my Winter fuel payment will still be paid. For now. Last Winter, I probably spent it at least 20 time over. The price of oil is supposed to be lower than at any time over the past few years, yet I was spending every penny I earned on keeping warm enough to earn the money to spend on keeping warm. Paradoxical world.

As writers, we are often asked (well, I am) how the creative process of writing a book happens. What I think people desperately want to hear is the apocryphal Enid Blyton response on the lines of: 'I just wander into my little writing place, and suddenly, all sorts of lovely characters and plots tiptoe through the mental bluebells straight into my mind fully formed, and all I have to do is write them down and hey presto! a book appears.' In other words, writing is easy and you, interested interlocutor, could easily do it too.

Sorry, it doesn't work like that. At least not for this little duck. In another of these paradoxes, I find that creativity only occurs when disciplinary structures are applied. Rigorously. In other words, I have to make myself sit at the keyboard, regularly, and write. I can fantasis
e about the book all I want, imagine the amazing prose that I will write when I get round to it, but until my rear end and the chair are brought into contact, and remain in contact for long periods of time, nothing creative happens.

Sure, there are moments, and flashes of inspiration, when one stares at the screen, and wonders whether the Writing Fairy has just made a house call, but on the whole, these episodes only tend to emerge out of a period of just slogging away at the writing process. And I should know, having just edited 73 thousand words of the next Victorian novel, which I wrote purely by dint of making myself sit down at the eMac every day and write it.

An article in the Guardian some time ago lifted the lid on how to be a successful author. No secret, sadly. A lot of labour and a bit of luck. Heavy on the former. As Wm Blake remarked: Without contraries is no progression. Ain't that the truth!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Sleepwalking Towards Gilead



Margaret Atwood's Dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale, written over a 2 year period from 1984-5, is based upon the 'unlikely' premise that a far-right religious extremist group overthrows the US government, suspends the constitution and forms an authoritarian regime, the Republic of Gilead, in which women are not allowed to work, read, or write and are only valued by their fertility.

At the time she was writing it, the scenario seemed utterly far-fetched. As Atwood commented recently: ''Back in 1984 the main premise seemed ~ even to me fairly outrageous. Would I be able to persuade readers that the United States had suffered a coup that had transformed an erstwhile liberal democracy into a literal-minded theocratic dictatorship?'' (New York Times Book Review)

Unlikely as her concept seemed then, the history of Gilead and the 'herstory' of Offred resonates  strongly today. I believe, personally, that we are sleepwalking towards Gilead, although we are as yet unaware that we have embarked upon the journey. My view is founded upon the way that certain rights are under threat in this country (UK) in a way they have never been before. This is how the journey is unfolding.

*  Control of Language 
Without our conscious awareness, we are subtly being fed new meanings to words that alter our perception of the people to whom they apply. Take the word immigrant for instance: do you not find yourself adding 'illegal' to it? How about Benefit ~ applicant or scrounger? This demonization of certain groups in society has been validated by the government and numerous TV reality programmes, where selective cutting creates a picture of people outside mainstream society.

* Control of the Streets
In the wake of the London/Manchester attacks, how many times have we walked past men in body armour carrying guns? When did this become normal? At what point do we tacitly accept that our 'freedom' is dependant upon men with guns patrolling our streets? Men who are trained to shoot and kill.

*Control of Rights
Theresa May has made it quite clear that she is prepared to 'rip up human rights laws to fight terror'. It sounds 'strong and stable', but behind the rhetoric is a frightening prospect. Consider what human rights consist of:
Right to life
Freedom from torture
Freedom from slavery
Freedom of speech
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Freedom of movement


Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Which right are you happy to be ripped up? And if one, why not two, three, or more? It is a slippery slope. Currently, we stand at the top of it looking down.

*Control of Conscience
We live in a pluralistic multi-culture, where 'citizens of the world' rub shoulders. Many diverse faiths, beliefs exist side by side. I would never question your deity (or none), but when religion and politics shake hands, it makes me uneasy. Theresa May's power-hunger decision to hold on to her job at all cost, has led her to seek support from the DUP, a strict Protestant group that holds strong views on women's rights and marriage. Is this another step on the road to Gilead? In agreeing to prop up her party in the House of Commons, what will they want in return? 

*Control of Nationality
We are beginning to glimpse the forces behind Brexit: the vast sums poured into campaigns, the outright and manipulative lies peddled, the use of analytics and 'bots' to influence the outcome. The dismissal of any 'experts' speaking against the project, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are correct, are dismissed. We 'want our sovereignty back', we 'want to be in control of our borders'. We are continually told that we will have greater freedom post Brexit. In Gilead, Aunt Lydia spoke of 'freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from.' My question is: how can you be 'given' freedom? (see section on human rights)

None of this has happened suddenly, it has been slowly creeping into our national subconscious, aided and abetted by the popular press that peddles its faux outrage, or attacks with vicious venom, any individual or institution that it does not want us to like. As each shock event occurs, here or elsewhere, it seems that fear is used as a pretext to tighten rules and regulations, suspend laws and restrict freedoms. Anybody who speaks out is branded a traitor.



The cry 'it couldn't possibly happen here' echoes hollowly down the ages. It was said by my German Jewish grandparents as the Nuremberg Race Laws were drawn up. The belief that people would come to their senses, and reject what those in government were proposing to do, stopped them from leaving Berlin, and ended with their deportation and deaths in Auschwitz concentration camp. 

As Offred, the heroine of Atwood's novel says: ''We didn't look up from our phones until it was too late.'' We need collectively to wake up, look up, and understand the current direction of travel, before we forget where we started out from.

Sources:
'We have to speak up now' (Jane Mulkerrins. Guardian 10th June 2017)
The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood. publ. Vintage 1966)
No is not enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics (Naomi Klein. publ. Allen Lane June 2017)

The PINK SOFA meets writer, life-coach Shelley Wilson


When THE PINK SOFA, itself no slouch at the writing game (its latest epic: Sofa So Good is currently at number 2 in the Amazon 'No, seriously?' chart) heard that its very good friend Shelley Wilson had a new book out, an instant invitation, with cake, was dispatched! Shelley is a multi-stranded writer of non-fiction, and YA, a blogger and reviewer. So much to discover ...

''I am thrilled to be sitting on the Pink Sofa! To languish in such a well-known spot surrounded by tea and cakes has been on my bucket list for some time so thank you, Carol, for inviting me. I’ll make sure to clear up the crumbs before I leave.
I thought I’d talk about a quirky process I have when writing my books. As you know, I’m a Jekyll and Hyde writer. I pen non-fiction books for the personal development/self-help genre, and I also write young adult (YA) fantasy fiction. The two themes do occasionally overlap, and this is what I believe the gurus call ‘balance.'
In my YA Guardians trilogy, I explored the chakras and working with energy, something I used to do every day in the day job as a Holistic Therapist. To incorporate this into my fantasy books was fun and those readers who understood the law of the universe, energy, and magic could relate to the books on another level.
One of my favourite personal development tools is the vision board. This is a simple process of sticking images and quotes to a notice board and setting the intention to be, do, or have a representation of the pictures in real life. For example, if I wanted to live by the sea I would cover my board in coastal images, seaside cottages, the beach, etc.
With my fantasy fiction, I use the vision board process in a completely different way. I’ll use it as inspiration and motivation to write my novel. I choose images that represent my setting and characters, and I might add pictures of specific outfits or hairstyles.
Here are some of the pictures I added to my board for character inspiration in my new release, Oath Breaker.
Mia



Zak


Sebastian






Seeing their pictures on the wall as I write brings them to life for me. I can look into their eyes and imagine what they would say or how they might act in a certain scene.
I chose Nottinghamshire as the setting for Oath Breaker and even took my children for a camping holiday to Sherwood Forest so I could get a feel for living in the woods. I added some of the photographs I took to my board.
As a visual learner, I find this part of the writing process to be the most helpful. As I write, the book plays out like a movie in my mind and so having the images to hand keeps that film reel going until ‘The End.’
I wonder if anyone else uses a similar process. I’d love to find out, or perhaps your wonderful blog readers have other ways to inspire and motivate their work.

My latest book Oath Breaker is available now in paperback and eBook.
Book Blurb:
Will she follow the pack
Or will she destroy them?
A dead mother.
A violent father.
A missing brother.
When Mia’s father is murdered, it’s her estranged uncle that comes to the rescue, but what he offers her in return for his help could be worse than the life she is leaving behind.
Taken to Hood Academy, a unique school deep in the forest, she discovers friendships, love, and the courage to stand on her own.
As she trains hard, Mia takes the oath that seals her future as a werewolf hunter, but not everyone wants Mia to succeed.
Screams in the night. Secret rooms. Hidden letters. Mia becomes an important piece in a game she doesn’t want to play.
Will the truth set her free, or will it destroy her?
Excerpt:
(Opening scene from Oath Breaker)
The blue flashing lights pulsed through the fractured front window, illuminating the blood splatter on the walls. The click-click of the forensic team’s camera ate into the sterile silence as the officers combed through the living room.
Like something out of a macabre horror show the blood covered everything, coating the threadbare rug in front of the fireplace with its crimson wash. The splintered remains of the coffee table littered the overturned chair, and the smell of death clung to the walls.
I lifted my eyes to look at the police officer who knelt in front of me, his face a mask of professionalism even though he must be wishing he was anywhere but here.
‘Did you see who killed your dad?’ I slowly shook my head as the officer tried to determine what had happened.
‘Someone tried to kill you, miss. I want to help. Did you see who broke in and attacked you?’
I couldn’t answer. The words were stuck in my throat. How could I tell him that my dad was the one who tried to kill me and that a wolf had jumped through the window and ripped out his throat? Who would believe me?
The paramedic dropped a medical kit at my feet and began wiping the blood from my face, the sudden cold of the antiseptic wipe causing an involuntary shudder to run through my bones. The police officer and paramedic exchanged a look. The same kind of look that my teacher and headmaster used to give each other when I tried to cover up the bruises down my arms.
I slumped a little further into the kitchen chair, letting my long dark hair fall around my face.
‘Anything you can give us by way of a description will help.’ The police officer clicked the end of his pen and poised it over the clean sheet of notepaper.
‘Big,’ I managed to say. My lips cracked as I spoke, and I could feel a trickle of blood slide down the side of my mouth. The paramedic wiped it up before moving to the gash on my forehead.
‘It … he was big. Dark hair. Brown eyes.’
The officer noted it down and let out a deep sigh. Not the best description for them to go on, but it was all I could give him. If I’d told him the attacker was hairy, with sharp claws and fangs, the paramedic would have had me committed. I didn’t need to escape from one prison to then find myself in another.
Buying Links:
You can find out about all my titles (non-fiction & YA) on my website http://www.shelleywilsonauthor.co.uk or via my publisher http://www.bhcpress.com
I can also be found lurking with regularity on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/ShelleyWilson72 and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson
Or you can find me on my blog at http://www.shelleywilsonauthor.com
Thank you so much for having me, Carol. I’ll just finish this last slice of Victoria Sponge, and then I’ll be off. Xxx

Saturday, 20 May 2017

The PINK SOFA meets writer Ian Wilfred



The PINK SOFA is delighted, chuffed and generally over the moon to welcome writer and all-round good egg Ian Wilfred to the Writing Attic. Ian is a total sweetie. If ever there was a thoroughly nice person who deserves all the lovely things in the world, it is he. (And not just because he arrived bringing coffee and a selection of delicious Norfolk delicacies!)

Ian describes himself on Twitter as: ''a 50+ fella that writes female fiction - new book March 2017 - Love my books, garden, westie, husband and Norfolk beaches not necessary in that order.'' So of course the PINK SOFA wanted to know all about the new book, and how Ian felt to be a twice-published author!

''Thank you very much for inviting me onto the pink sofa. As you know my new book The Little Terrace Of Friendships has been out over a month now, and I have talked about it on a few blogs and don't want to repeat myself.


I thought today I would share with you the excitement of my publishing day, but first I must say what an enjoyable time I had getting my book out into the world. Working with Rebecca Emin was so enjoyable: so many laughs and that's just in emails to and fro. The book came out in March, but I had not told anyone, family, friends, or work colleagues, apart from my other half, and to be honest that's the way I was going to keep it. I had ordered a couple of copies of the paperback as a surprise for my sister and step daughter. I wanted it to be very low key as when my first book came out, I told everyone and there was a lot of pressure on me

My publishing day started at 5am on the old Twitter. I could not get over how many people tweeted mentions of it throughout the day. I felt so overwhelmed with the kindness. When the other half was up he asked how things were going, and I said if it got into the top 500 holiday chart and the top 5000 romantic comedy chart on Amazon, I would be over the moon. I kept telling him how it was doing, and we spent the day giggling as at four o'clock in the afternoon it was top 20 holiday reads and 190 romantic comedy. But the biggest shock was when it got into the top 2000 Kindle chart. This was insane ~ way way past anything I could have ever hoped for! We went off and celebrated with fish and chips, sitting looking out to sea on the beautiful Norfolk coast. The perfect end to a funny, strange day 



Moving on a few weeks: the excitement hasn't really died down. The book is doing far better than I could ever have dreamed it would, and I've started telling friends and family about it. I will never make anything near a living from my books and I will be doing the day job way past my retirement age, but earning money from writing was never the aim. I just love writing creating my characters, bringing them to life. Also I have so much pleasure chatting on Twitter to such lovely authors, bloggers and readers. I look at The Little Terrace of Friendships as the icing on my cake. I live five minutes walk from the beach, which I go on every morning with the dog before I settle down to a bit of writing and Twitter, and then in the afternoon I go off to work. I'm so very blessed

As for the future, there will be book three out. This time it's set on the stunning Norfolk coast, and the main character is another strong female! Thank you again for having me on the PINK SOFA: it been so lovely talking to you about one of the happiest days I've ever had my publishing day for The Little Terrace of Friendships.''

Links:

The Little Terrace of Friendships: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XWKKC71
Putting Right the Past: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Putting+right+the+past

Twitter: @Ianwilfred39


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Ankles, eMacs and other disasters


They say disasters never come singly. Whoever 'they' are and if you know who 'they' are, please can you give me their names and addresses so I can go round and complain.

All is not currently well at Hedges Towers. Four weeks and two days ago, as I was walking through St Albans to collect the grandchildren, my right ankle gave way suddenly, pitching me into the middle of the street. Not the first time it has done this, unreliable body-part that it is, but by far the most agonising.

Such was the pain coupled with the shock, that I just stayed where I ended up and howled. A car edged slowly round me without stopping. I howled some more. Finally, a nice young woman approached, asked if I was OK (clearly not) and suggested it might be a good idea if I got out of the road.

It appears from the subsequent X-ray that I have torn a ligament. Over a month on and I still can't see my ankle bone and there are interesting blue areas in unexpected places. Oh yes, I hear you chorus, now you'll have lots of time to write the next book. Lucky you, wish I could bust a ligament. Ah but you see, gentle reader, you are reckoning without the 'never coming singly' rule.

My beloved eMac has died. For the computer experts reading this: something has overheated/melted/ buggered/come unattached and I can't access the Hard Disc Drive. For the rest of you: 13k words of the next book are currently stuck inside a dead computer.

A frustrating evening has just been spent in the company of Brian the Super-Techie, a special cable and his reserve Apple Mac trying to access my files. We turned the computer on and off many times. We held down C keys, P keys and T keys. I said F rather a lot.

We ran a diagnostic CD: everything was OK apparently, just not OK enough to let me get at it. We watched an interesting video about taking an eMac apart to extract the HDD. There was a bit where the bloke on the video said : 'Uh-oh, you really want to be very careful if you do this, as it could all explode'  which was a tad worrying.

Trying-to-be-helpful people have said: 'Surely you could just re-write the first part of the book?' Or 'You could always carry on from where you got up to.' Oh, if it were only that easy!

 Last night I dreamed I was trying to remove the hard drive from my 2CV. Makes a change from Manderley, I suppose....



Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Pink Sofa meets writer Amanda James


The PINK SOFA is always delighted to welcome back guests, especially when they bring scones. Therefore it is delighted to host Amanda James, who comes armed with bakery goods and a new book. She's visiting the Writer's  Attic to share what inspires her lovely novels. (With added scones, and Cornish clotted cream of course ...)

Inspiration comes from many places ... and sometimes out of the blue Cornish sky!
''Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog today, Carol. I thought I’d talk to you today about inspiration. I am often asked where my inspiration comes from when writing and the answer is not straightforward. There is no one place or thing, it comes from anywhere and sometimes I’m not too sure where my ideas pop up from.

As you know my first book with Choc Lit was A Stitch in Time which I adored writing and it only took me six weeks for the first draft. I have never written one as fast before or since, but the ideas just flowed. I feel most comfortable with the suspense/mystery genre however, as those are the kinds of books I enjoy reading the most. Though I guess really, even though it is time travel, A Stitch in Time is full of suspense and mystery and I was so pleased to be able to return to the characters to see what they had been up to when I wrote my sequel Cross Stitch.

Anyway, I digress. I was inspired by the novels of suspense authors, Dean Koontz in particular. He has sold over 450 million books yet still had the time to answer my letters in his own hand. He encouraged me to keep writing! As a reader, I love to try and figure out what is going to happen, what the secret is or who done it etc. He often has a romantic element in his stories and so do I. Koontz often has a paranormal angle also and I enjoy writing those too. I like reading straight suspense novels, but the added excitement and freedom to go ‘outside the box’ which is afforded by the paranormal is very liberating as both a reader and writer.

Certain people inspire me to keep going when the going gets tough too. There are many, but one in particular sticks in my mind. Korczak Ziowalski was a sculptor who decided to dedicate his life to carving a memorial to Crazy Horse the great Sioux leader. The sculpture is actually made from a mountain in South Dakota! It is as yet unfinished and being continued by his family after Korczak’s death more than twenty years ago. He started it all by himself in 1948 with a tent, an old Jeep, $174, and a dream. His motto was , ‘Never forget your dreams.’ I added ‘never give’ up to that. I was lucky enough to visit the memorial and found it an enriching and life-affirming experience. His remarkable story can be found here : http://crazyhorsememorial.org/

I often get the whole story from a title. I can’t actually put finger to keyboard if I don’t have one. I think of a title, something catchy or familiar like ‘a stitch in time’ for example, and then I build the story around that. Somewhere Beyond the Sea was a combination of being by the sea, Doc Martin and the need for a catchy title. The old Bobby Darin song was perfect. Sometimes I really don’t know where I get ideas from. They just kind of pop up. The inspiration for Summer in Tintagel came from a walk along the cliff tops. As I stood on the edge looking onto the rocks I thought how easy it would be to step off and end it all ... if a person was so inclined. I’m not, in case you were wondering! Then it kind of came to me from there. I visited Tintagel Castle a few weeks later and thought that it was the perfect setting for a novel – full of history and mystery.

My new novel, Behind the Lie has lots of secrets, mystery, and suspense and set in London, but mostly on Crantock, the idyllic Cornish beach about twenty minutes from my house.
One day I was walking on the beach as I often do and looked up at a beach house. It was the kind of house that I tend to drool over from time to time, as although I can see the ocean from where I live, it is five-miles distant! It’s the white square one with all the big windows.

My imagination began to make up the person that lived in the house, and Holly West, my main character waved at me from the window. Well, she didn’t really, but you know what I mean.... Also the lonely rugged coast helped me to visualise Holly and all her problems and I knew I needed to help her solve them. I am also in love with the sea. My dream from being very small was to move to Cornwall particularly the north coast and I am overjoyed to have realised it. Just the sight and smell of the sea lifts my spirits and inspires me.''

Book Blurb Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman who has taken back control of her future.
Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go.
Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else. No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth…her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.

Mandy's books
Summer in Tintagel (Urbane Publications July 2016)
Cross Stitch (Choc Lit December 2014)
Somewhere Beyond the Sea ( Choc Lit April 2014)
Dancing in the Rain (Choc Lit March 2014)
A Stitch in Time (Choc Lit) - http://www.choc-lit.com/
Righteous Exposure (Crooked Cat) - http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/

 

Author links 

blog http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/

Twitter  @akjames61