A Setting Guest Post from Michael J. Sahno, author of Miles of Files

Miles of files

I’m very pleased to be hosting Michael J. Sahno on Linda’s Book Bag today as I was interested in why Michael has chosen an insurance company setting for his latest novel Miles of Files. Luckily Michael agreed to write a guest post to explain. Miles of Files is available for purchase in e-book and paperback on your local Amazon site.

Miles of Files

Miles of files

In Miles of Files, the main character, Paul Panepinto, an employee at Flambet Insurance, learns that his manager Graham Woodcock is stealing from the company. Paul struggles with whether or not to report the boss at the risk of losing his position.

Eventually, Graham fires Paul anyway and Paul is forced to pursue justice, but the story doesn’t end as expected.

Readers move through a fast-paced adventure with many twists and turns, including high points, drama, comedy, and an edge that Sahno captures through his writing.

Why An Insurance Company?

A Guest Post by Michael J. Sahno

Recently, I was asked why I chose the world of insurance as my setting for my third novel. Did I want to surprise readers? Did I feel it was a microcosm of society in general? Or did I have a personal experience I wanted to use?

It’s an interesting way of looking at a book: why would you put your protagonist in a job that looks incredibly boring, working in an industry that most people probably don’t really want to read about?

I had to admit I was somewhat taken aback. I had barely considered it. In fact, my own work experience over about a twenty-year period had barely touched on the insurance industry, falling more into the mortgage industry and market research. Upon reflection, however, I recalled just how I put the setting into motion: having worked in stressful, tedious settings, I wanted to convey the experience – and also show that there’s plenty of drama there below the surface – without being blatantly autobiographical. Thus was born Flambet Insurance, which the main character thinks of as “an insane asylum, a place where even the most well-adjusted among them ate antacids like candies and ran from task to task taking desperate sips of coffee from Styrofoam cups.”

Of course, there were major considerations far beyond that of the setting or the jobs the characters held. In my first novel, Brothers’ Hand, I began with no plan, no outline, and no character sketches…just scenes that unfolded naturally. It was a very organic process. I used the first-person point of view for my second novel, Jana, as the main character speaks to the reader directly.

Brothers hand

For Miles of Files, I wanted to paint with a broader palette, and I actually had a few things in mind. For one, I wanted to have tiers of characters like Charles Dickens did in Dombey and Son: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The tertiary characters are mainly commentators, who pass on information about primary and/or secondary characters. I wanted to make sure each character was unique and different enough from the others that the reader could easily identify them, so I went through the Myers-Briggs personality types and assigned them accordingly. It was kind of fun, and it also enabled me to really differentiate each character from the next.

The thing that became of great interest as I moved forward in the narrative was the fact that I was actually writing my first crime novel. I always find the research portion of novel writing to be quite interesting, even though it’s not necessarily fun to do. You need to know a lot more than your reader does, so if you’re writing about an unfamiliar industry, you’d better get it right!

In the book, the main character, Paul, finds out his boss, Graham, is stealing from the company retirement plan, but not in a traditional embezzlement: he’s actually created these fake employee files, complete with nonexistent social security numbers, to make it look like he’s paying out benefits to former employees. On top of that, Graham also sets up a “blackout” period during which employees cannot monitor their 401(k) plan…thus enabling Graham to not only steal a lot of money from the owner but also to steal a little bit of money from each employee. It’s (evil) genius.

Working on the forensic computer analysis aspect of this, along with the law enforcement angle, was like going down the rabbit hole. I was surprised by some of what I learned, and the reader will be too. It’s probably considered literary fiction by most, but I certainly think people will find the narrative a compelling one as well.

About Michael J. Sahno

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Michael J. Sahno was born in Bristol, CT. He earned his Bachelor’s from Lynchburg College and his Master’s in English from Binghamton University. Sahno has been a professional writer since 2001. His novels cater to an imaginative audience, particularly those who enjoy literary fiction with a twist of drama and plenty of humor. Sahno is a member of the Florida Writers Association and American Library Association, and the founder of Tampa Literary Authors.

You can follow Michael J. Sahno on Twitter, find him on Facebook and visit his website.

Murder by Death, a Guest Post from Steven Dunne, author of Death Do Us Part

Death do us part

I am absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Steven Dunne to Linda’s Book Bag today. I love featuring authors I’ve actually met and when they are as talented as Steven Dunne, the excitement is doubled. Today, Steven’s latest book in the DI Damen Brook series, Death Do Us Part, is released in paperback. Published by Headline Death Do US Part is available for purchase from Amazon, Waterstones, Hive and all good book sellers.

It gives me great pleasure  to be hosting a guest post from Steven Dunne today all about why murderers kill.

Death Do Us Part

Death do us part

DI Damen Brook is on a rare period of leave and determined to make the most of it by re-connecting with his daughter Terri. But with her heavy drinking proving a challenge, Brook takes the opportunity to visit a local murder scene when his help is requested.

An elderly couple have each been executed with a single shot to the heart and the method echoes that of a middle-aged gay couple killed the previous month.

With the same killer suspected and the officer currently in charge nearing retirement, Brook knows that he has little choice but to cut short his leave when forced by his superiors to take the lead on the case.

Brook believes that he can catch this ruthless killer, but already distracted by Terri’s problems, is he about to make a fatal mistake and lead the killer right to his own door?

Murder by Death

A Guest Post by Steven Dunne

One of the most frequently asked questions of a crime writer is, ‘What is your favourite way to kill people?’ When asked I always end up explaining what I write and why the deaths in my books about serial killers in the East Midlands generally fail to be exotic. I’m not alone in this. I know Agatha Christie wasn’t averse to a dramatic poisoning or two in her work but, in the main, victims are dispatched without fuss. The reason for this is that Christie, like me, was interested in the psychology behind why people kill, particularly those who are actually planning to murder someone. Anyone can kill, given the right circumstances, but to plot someone’s demise and then act upon it requires a degree of evil which sets the perpetrator apart from the majority of the human race. This is what fascinates and appals about serial killers.

the reaper

Since The Reaper was released in 2009 up to my sixth novel Death Do Us Part – out this month – I have not been exploring so much the who and how of serial killers but the much more interesting question of why. Why do men and women cold-bloodedly and with malice aforethought, plan to kill their fellow human beings? Often with Christie, serial murder had a profit motive with the killer positioning him or herself to claim an inheritance by eliminating a wealthy relative. Having set events in motion, subsequent murders were then committed to advance the cause or to cover tracks. One of my favourite examples of this template is Death on the Nile, one of her best works.

Obsessive love and revenge also feature heavily in her work but it took Christie’s genius to turn what are usually spur of the moment crimes, committed in moments of great passion and thus invariably messy and bloody, into cold blooded acts planned down to the smallest detail. The Murder on the Orient Express has a revenge plot at its heart, carried out with such unbelievable precision that even the world’s greatest detective is sorely challenged to solve the case.

My own work has a fiendish Christie-style mystery at its heart but my detective, DI Damen Brook, chases modern serial killers. And each killer I create has started with a simple question that I’ve asked myself before I write a word. In The Reaper it was, “How can I make a serial killer seem like the hero to readers?” The question for Death Do Us Part was, “How can I create a serial killer who thinks they’re doing the victims a favour?” From there, I can build a psychological profile of my killer which informs me how and who they would kill. The profile leans heavily towards motive and away from any salacious interest in method of killing. My serial killers don’t derive pleasure from the act of killing but from the removal of their victims.

Perhaps it’s my past career as a teacher that requires my killers never to take a casual attitude to the taking of a human life without some kind of reason, however twisted it may seem to us. Thus the killers that DI Damen Brook of Derby CID is hunting are more concerned with speedy and efficient deaths, leaving no trace and few clues so the killing can continue. Of course, the more planning that goes into a crime, the harder it is to catch the killer which requires a very special detective. Christie knew instinctively that it’s pointless having two superstar sleuths like Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot if you plan to pit them against clumsy villains like armed robbers or impulse killers. In all my work, DI Brook must stretch himself to the limit and use “the little grey cells” to solve the fiendish puzzle and bring the killer to justice.

About Steven Dunne

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Steven has had a variety of jobs including Public Relations Consultant, freelance Journalist and supply teacher. In 1988, he began teaching English in Croydon before moving to Derby in 1996, where he began to think about writing a novel. in 2015, Steven’s book A Killing Moon won the East Midlands Book Award.

A killing moon

You can find out more about Steven Dunne and his writing by visiting his website, following him on Twitter and finding him on Facebook.

A 1960s Setting – A Guest Post from Stop Press Murder author Peter Bartram

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I’m delighted to be welcoming Peter Bartram to Linda’s Book Bag today. Peter’s latest novel in the Colin Crampton series, Stop Press Murder, is out now in paperback and e-book published by Roundfire and is available for purchase from Amazon and other online book sellers.

As a sixties baby I was fascinated to find the setting for Peter’s books is the 1960s and I asked Peter why he’d chosen that particular era. Peter kindly agreed to write a guest post explaining all about it.

Stop Press Murder

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First, the saucy film of a nude woman bathing is stolen from a What the Butler Saw machine on Brighton’s Palace Pier.

Next, the pier’s night-watchman is murdered – his body found in the coconut shy. Colin Crampton, ace reporter on the Evening Chronicle, senses a scoop when he’s the only journalist to discover a link between the two crimes. He uncovers a 50-year feud between twin sisters – one a screen siren from the days of silent movies, the other the haughty wife of an aristocrat. But Colin’s investigation spirals out of control – as he risks his life to land the biggest story of his career.

Stop Press Murder, a Swinging Sixties mystery, has more twists and turns than a country lane. It will keep you guessing – and laughing – right to the last page.

Why I Put Colin Crampton In The Swinging Sixties

A Guest Post by Peter Bartram

When it comes to doing research for a book, nothing beats being there.

That was one of the reasons why I chose to set my Crampton of the Chronicle humorous crime mystery series in the 1960s – the Swinging Sixties. Colin Crampton, the hero of the stories, is the crime reporter on the fictional Brighton Evening Chronicle newspaper.

I was a reporter on the real-life nearby Worthing Herald newspaper in the sixties – so I know exactly what newsrooms were like back in those days.

But, of course, having been on a newspaper wasn’t the only reason I chose the 1960s. The decade wasn’t called the Swinging Sixties for nothing. First, there was the music with groups such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones storming the pop world. And let’s not forget some of those other names such The Who, The Kinks and Dusty Springfield.

Then there were fashion icons like Mary Quant and Twiggy – the mini-skirt, kaftans and painted faces. There were Mini cars on the streets and men on the Moon. There were mods and rockers fighting it out on Brighton seafront. There were beatniks spreading peace and light at Woodstock. It was the Age of Aquarius – make love not war.

headline murder

And it was an age of social change – and of shifting attitudes – both grist to the mill for a writer. The background to Headline Murder, the first book in the series, set in 1862, is that year’s big change in Britain’s gambling laws. Betting shops and casinos became legal for the first time.

A plot thread in Stop Press Murder, the second, is the Profumo scandal of 1963 – when war minister Jack Profumo resigned after he lied to Parliament over his liaison with call-girls. (Politicians lying? Not much changes!)

And the third, Front Page Murder, due out next year, will reference the abolition of hanging. The key vote on that took place in December 1964, when my book is being set.

So for a writer of crime mysteries, the Swinging Sixties offers plenty of atmosphere and a stack of important events as background to the main action of the plots.

But what about those newsrooms of the 1960s? I’ve drawn heavily on my own experiences at the Worthing Herald to create the newsroom of the Evening Chronicle. Back at the Herald in the 1960s, we had no computers or mobile phones.

Instead, we pounded away at old sit-up-and-beg typewriters. As deadlines approached and everyone was typing together the newsroom sounded as though a volley of machine guns were firing.

We typed on sets on paper, called folios, interleaved with carbon paper, never more than a paragraph or two on each folio – so that if the sub-editors wanted to change the order of the copy, they could easily re-order the folios. No cut and paste in those days.

On each of our desks there was a big black telephone and a spike on which we’d impale carbons of previous stories. The spike was the equivalent of today’s computer back-ups to the Cloud. We worked in an atmosphere of constant noise – telephones ringing, shouted conversations, the rattle of typewriters.

Sometimes, it seemed, the chances of getting the paper out on time were impossible. But we always did.

I never got involved in quite as many scrapes and scams as Colin Crampton. But, unlike Colin, I never got to solve murder cases as well. Pity about that!

About Peter Bartram

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Peter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle crime series. Peter has done most things in journalism from door-stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s interviewed cabinet ministers and crooks – at least the crooks usually answer the questions, he says. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700 feet down a coal mine and a courtier’s chambers at Buckingham Palace. (The former is easier to get into but at least you don’t have to wear a hat with a lamp on it in the latter.)

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You can find out more about Peter via his website where there is a free Crampton taster novella, Murder in Capital Letters, available to download and you’ll also find him on Facebook. There’s more about and from Peter with these other bloggers too:

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Walking with Wolves, A Guest Post from Valentina Giambanco, author of Blood and Bone

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I am thrilled to be part of the celebrations of Blood and Bone by Valentina Giambanco. Already available in hardback and e-book, Blood and Bone is published in paperback by Quercus Books on 25th August 2016 and is available for purchase on Amazon, from Waterstones and all good book sellers and directly from the publisher.

To celebrate the paperback publication of Blood and Bone, Valentina Giambanco is sharing a fabulous experience with us on Linda’s Book Bag today: Walking with Wolves.

Blood and Bone

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Detective Alice Madison is back in a gripping new thriller, perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Kathryn Croft and Sharon Bolton.

After two years in the Seattle Police Department, Detective Alice Madison has finally found a peace she has never known before. When a local burglary escalates into a gruesome murder, Madison takes charge of the investigation. She finds herself tracking a killer who has haunted the city for years – and whose brutality is the stuff of myth in high security prisons. As she delves deeper into the case, Madison learns that the widow of one of the victims is being stalked – is the killer poised to strike again? As pressures mount, Madison will stop at nothing to save the next innocent victim . . . even if it means playing a killer’s endgame.

Walking with Wolves

A Guest Post by Valentina Giambanco

You’re walking on a country path. It’s a sunny day; you’re at the edge of a reservoir and your dog – a black and white springer spaniel – it’s straining to get to the cool water. There are grassy hills all around you and no one else about except for a solitary fisherman a few yards away. The sky is blue and the mountains in the distance a dark hazy green. A perfect afternoon. Now, change a single minor detail: instead of the springer spaniel, at the end of the lead you have a hybrid wolf whose hackles come up to your hip, whose head is a third bigger than a German shepherd because his brain is thirty percent bigger, and whose back muscles are so powerful that there are two of you hanging on for dear life to the twenty foot lead. As he pulled to go forward, the panting from the wolf was deeper than a dog’s because their lungs are larger and their voices darker. It was an exotic sound and, for the first few minutes, not a little menacing. A week ago I went walking with wolves, and it is not a metaphor.

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By the way, the wolf – Maska – was only humouring us by allowing us to hold the lead. We knew – and I think Maska knew – that he could shake us off in a nanosecond and go off his merry way.  My theory is that he did not out of respect for his two handlers and out of pity for us puny humans who had apparently joined his pack for the afternoon.

Why was I holding a strap attached to over 70lbs of wolf? Because I write novels set in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and they have wolves there. My character, Alice Madison, is a detective in the Seattle Police Department Homicide Unit but a good chunk of the stories is set in the wilderness, in the forests of the Olympic peninsula and in the mountains on the border with Canada. Their wilderness has no comparison with ours and when I found out I had the chance to meet a wolf – two, actually, four year-old brothers – there was no way I would not.

Maska and Kajika’s owners/handlers have had them since they were puppies and have treated them like the wolves they are and not tried to turn them into pets (they are mostly wolf with a tiny genetic bit of wolfdog which makes it legal for us to meet them in this open manner).

There was a structure to our meeting: first, we had to be sniffed so that they would know who we were. Normally a wolf would greet another member of the family by licking around their face and mouth but since Health & Safety would have something to say about that kind of introduction I put my hands flat against the metal mesh at the back of the pick-up truck and the wolves darted forward and pushed their noses close to my skin.

When the door was opened the wolves jumped out so quickly it was a blur of grey fur. The first surprise was how big they were, the second how unlike dogs they behaved: dogs want you to like them, they interact with you and are determined to make friends – people made sure they behaved that way through centuries of breeding for that particular trait. Wolves don’t care about making friends.  Maska and Kajika were more interested in the surroundings, profiling the ground and the bushes around us, looking for voles and other small creatures that might cross their path. They were aware of everything, especially of each other. Kajika always walked a few feet ahead of his brawnier brother because he was higher in the family hierarchy. If we let Maska lead the small group we were told that the brother would put him in his place later. We were told that they are so close they would never stray more than a hundred meters from each other.

Once we were on the path and away from the road we were given the leash to hold and we started walking together. I asked if it was okay to touch them and, yes, it was. The tips of my fingers brushed the thick coarse fur. Maska did not react at all, he was heading for the lake and I was merely along for the ride.

For an hour we watched them run, dive into the water, play with each other and roll into the grass to dry themselves. On the way back, Kajika stopped by a gate and peered at a few cows at the other end of the field. ‘No, we don’t eat the cows today.’ Her handler said and gave a strong pull of the lead to let him know we should move on. The brothers eat four and half pounds of meet a day as it happens and need hours of exercise to keep them happy and interested – you really don’t want a bored wolf on your hands.

The truth is that it is far more likely to be bitten by a dog than by a wolf that would only attack a person if he felt the person presented a danger to the pack. People get bitten, and worse, by dogs all the time, sometime their own dogs.

The myth of the big bad wolf is still out there but for my part I found them a true marvel: beautiful and powerful, self-contained and yet bound by deep familial bonds; we even got to hear them howl when we said goodbye – the family bonding howl. Amazing.

I walked with wolves. I’m glad for the pictures I took or it would seem like a dream.

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Maska and Kajika live in the ‘Predator Experience’ Zoo in Cumbria and their owners Daniel Ashman and Dee Ashman have years of experience in animal management, especially birds of prey.

About Valentina Giambanco

Valentina Giambanco was born in Italy. After her degree in English and Drama at Goldsmiths, she worked for a classical music retailer and as a bookseller in her local bookshop. She started in films as an editor’s apprentice in a 35mm cutting room and since then has worked on many award-winning UK and US pictures, from small independent projects to large studio productions. Valentina lives in London.

You can follow Valentia on Twitter and visit her website. There is also more with these other bloggers:

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The Lovers’ Guide to Rome by Mark Lamprell

lovers guide to rome

I am indebted to Karen Duffy at Atlantic Books for a copy of The Lovers’ Guide to Rome by Mark Lamprell in return for an honest review. The Lovers’ Guide to Rome was published by Atlantic in paperback on 12th August 2016 and is available for purchase from Amazon, Waterstones and from all good booksellers.

The Lovers’ Guide to Rome

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This is the place where passions are aroused, senses inflamed, and lovers fall into each other’s arms. It all appears to unfold like magic – but I will tell you what really happens. Rome – glorious, eternal, intoxicating. Could there be a better place on earth to fall in love?

Young artist Alice has come to Rome for adventure before settling down with her safe boyfriend. But when fate intervenes to show her there really is such a thing as love at first sight, will she find the courage to follow her heart?

Meg and Alec fell in love in Rome many years before and have returned to rekindle their amore, but have they left it too late?

Connie and Lizzie are in Rome to scatter the ashes of Connie’s beloved husband Henry, who’s also Lizzie’s brother. But Lizzie doesn’t know the real story of how Connie and Henry met there decades before, nor what long-hidden secrets lie waiting to be unearthed.

And what of Rome itself? It turns out that the Eternal City has secrets only lovers can glimpse. The magic of Rome is also the magic of the human heart.

My Review of The Lovers’ Guide to Rome

There’s a presence in Rome that controls far more than Alice, Lizzie, Constance, Meg and Alec realise.

I absolutely loved The Lovers’ Guide to Rome. I was completely charmed by the quality of the writing. There’s an understated wryness that really appealed to my sense of humour, especially when quite startling details are dropped into the narrative as if in passing, but there’s also a depth of understanding and emotion too – especially in the relationship between Meg and Alec. I laughed aloud throughout the book and shed a tear at the end.

The Lovers’ Guide to Rome explores perfectly love at its beginning, its middle and its end. When I was reading I was reminded (if I don’t sound mad in putting it this way) of a waterfall with one sparkling moment, line or description cascading after another that held me captivated. I couldn’t wait to finish the story to find out what happened, but at the same time I didn’t want it to end.

I thought the characterisation was perfect. I found myself exclaiming aloud to them, so engrossed was I in their adventures, particularly when they made what I felt to be a mistake. I have every intention of becoming a ‘girlie’ like Lizzie or Constance. But it is Rome who (and I use ‘who’ advisedly) steals the scene. The way in which Mark Lamprell combines historical and geographical detail in with the flow of the narrative is pure genius. It is obvious that the author’s background in film and television has influenced the fabulous descriptions so that I could imagine every detail. There’s a cinematic feel where colour and sound reverberate and add depth to a fast paced and action packed story narrated by the somewhat capricious spirit of Rome.

I also thought the quotations at the start of each chapter were so well chosen to reflect the plot and they added to my enjoyment of the read because they were from so many of my favourite authors.

The Lovers’ Guide to Rome is witty, sharply observed and a delight to read. I highly recommend it.

About Mark Lamprell

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Mark Lamprell works in film and television. He co-wrote the film Babe: Pig in the City and wrote and directed the award- winning feature My Mother Frank. His first novel, The Full Ridiculous, was published last year and has been sold to the United States, Canada, Poland and Israel. Mark has holidayed in Rome for many years.

You can follow Mark on Twitter.

Spotlight on The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello

the memory box

I’m delighted to be sharing with you The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello on Linda’s Book Bag today. I had hoped to read The Memory Box for review by now but events have somewhat overtaken life at the moment and I haven’t had chance.

The Memory Box is available for purchase in e-book and paperback from AmazonBarnes & Noble, iTunesKobo and Smashwords.

The Memory Box

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What would you do if you Googled yourself and uncovered something shocking?

In this gripping psychological thriller, a group of privileged suburban moms amuse themselves by Googling everyone in town, digging up dirt to fuel thorny gossip. Caroline Thompson, devoted mother of two, sticks to the moral high ground and attempts to avoid these women. She’s relieved to hear her name appears only three times, citing her philanthropy. Despite being grateful that she has nothing to hide, a delayed pang of insecurity prods Caroline to Google her maiden name—which none of the others know.

The hits cascade like a tsunami. Caroline’s terrified by what she reads. An obituary for her sister, JD? That’s absurd. With every click, the revelations grow more alarming. They can’t be right. She’d know. Caroline is hurled into a state of paranoia—upending her blissful family life—desperate to prove these allegations false before someone discovers they’re true.

The disturbing underpinnings of The Memory Box expose a story of deceit, misconceptions, and an obsession for control. With its twists, taut pacing, and psychological tenor, Natiello’s page-turning suspense cautions:  Be careful what you search for.

About Eva Lesko Natiello

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Eva Lesko Natiello is the award-winning author of the Number One bestseller The Memory Box, a psychological thriller about a woman who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember. She is a speaker and essayist whose work can be found on her blog, Writing from the Intersection of Oops, Yikes & Awe where she writes about writing, creativity, parenting, food, fashion and humor. Eva is a former Estee Lauder communications executive and graduate of the University at Albany.

You can find Eva on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and visit her Goodreads page.

Blurring Fiction and Real Life, A Guest Post from Anoushka Beazley, author of The Good Enough Mother

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Today it is my very great pleasure to welcome Anoushka Beazley, author of The Good Enough Mother, to Linda’s Book Bag. Anoushka has kindly written a very personal piece all about how the lines between fiction and life become blurred – and how that experience might be just what we need.

The Good Enough Mother was published in e-book and paperback by Larchwood Press on 9th July 2016 and is available for purchase here.

The Good Enough Mother

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Gatlin – a leafy, affluent town: Chelsea tractors and ladies who lunch. However all is not as it seems. Drea, a most unnatural mother, struggles to find private school fees for her step-daughter Ava after her boyfriend leaves her for another woman. Watching the yummy mummies she becomes inspired, hatching a daring and criminal plan…unleashing all hell in the quiet town of Gatlin. Can Drea survive the fallout and the wrath of the PTA? A satirical and hilarious black comedy about love, motherhood and the human condition.

How the Lines Between Fiction and Life Become Blurred

A Guest Post by Anoushka Beazley

Writing comes easily to me. There is much in life that does not. Like a sense of contentment. I often feel burdened by the necessity of life. The relentless way it seems to continue in the face of all that could deter it.

It’s no secret my experience of high school – formative years –  were hideous. Bullying is a bloodsport and the scars are indelible. I started writing as a young child and such escapism allowed me to leave my world and enter new ones where people behaved very differently. The characters I wrote about were witty, complex, vulnerable bleeding hearts and viewing them from an authorial perspective, honesty seemed their greatest virtue. People in the real world rarely said what they were actually feeling but creating a character and fleshing them out so they live and breathe from every angle meant that my characters were always saying what they were feeling.

Then there is the subject of pain. Wounds that don’t heal but that we learn to carry which are exorcised through embodying a character with your pain, your journey. Being in control of your fictional worlds can birth a disillusionment with the real world, the world we are expected to actually live in. A divine discontentment; G.K Chesterton writes, “That’s the feeling that there is more to this life than just living. It’s the nagging that this world is not our home. It’s the romance of the heart from the Almighty.”

My debut novel The Good Enough Mother, was born from such discontentment. When my father passed away nearly five years ago, through the tears I would drive my children to school every day, passing his house and the places he would walk. Needless to say, I started to hate the school run more than I did already. To distract from the unbearable and overwhelming pain, hoping for a moment’s reprieve from my own bleakness, I began to write, and, in a moment of ‘divine’ discontentment and as the lines between fiction and life blurred, my character Drea came into her own.

As a person, and I should point out at this juncture that I was an actress prior to becoming a writer but the artistic neurosis is the same, I have always oscillated between great highs and great lows and the parts at rest in the middle seem to create a sense of unease rather than comfort. In my experience my extremes are where I work best, where I am most frightened, where I am most happy, where I learn the most, where the lines are the most blurred and if I cannot tell which world I’m living in, fiction or reality, where I’ve got the best chance of feeling like I’m doing a bit more than just living.

About Anoushka Beazley

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Anoushka Beazley, born Anoushka Kanagasabay and served for a while as Anushka Dahssi while treading the boards. A BA in Film Theory from the University Of Kent, a Postgraduate in Acting and a MA in Creative Writing makes for a life lived in fiction as much as written. She is currently based in London, England with her husband, three children and a posh cat.

You’ll find Anoushka on Twitter, Facebook and on her website.