What Would You Do? A Guest Post by Laura E James, author of What Doesn’t Kill You

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I’m delighted to be helping to celebrate the paperback launch of What Doesn’t Kill you by Laura E James today. What Doesn’t Kill was published in paperback by Dark Choc Lit on 9th January 2017 and is available for purchase in ebook and paperback here or through the publisher links here.

Today Laura has kindly written a guest post asking us what we might do in certain situations. Her words are supported by photographs from Laura’s fellow writer and friend Kate Kelly.

What Doesn’t Kill You

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What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but how strong can one person be?

Griff Hendry knows what it is to be strong. After a turbulent past, he’s dedicated himself to saving lives, working as a coastguard along the breath-taking shores of Dorset. It’s Griff’s belief that everyone is worth saving – which is why he can’t forgive his father, Logan, for what he did.

Griff’s future is plunged into uncertainty when his wife, Evie, tells him she wants a separation. The revelation is a shock and leads Griff to question what Evie could possibly be hiding – and she isn’t the only one holding back. Griff’s troubled stepdaughter, Tess, also harbours a dark secret.

As the truth is uncovered, Griff is forced to accept that perhaps he’s never understood what real strength is.

What Would You Do?

A Guest Post by Laura E James

Thank you so much for inviting me to Linda’s Book Bag blog, the penultimate stop on the What Doesn’t Kill You paperback tour. The tour coach has clocked up the miles and has done me proud.

The first two weeks of 2017 has seen cold, but mainly dry weather here in the South West – vastly different to the weather at the start of What Doesn’t Kill You.

We meet a sodden Griff Hendry, a coastguard, standing at the end of Portland Bill, a peninsular in West Dorset, England. In addition to fighting his demons, he’s struggling with the high winds and pelting rain, reminiscent of the UK storms of January 2014.

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The white horses of the English Channel were charging head first into the obelisk of Pulpit Rock, their remains spewing onto the cliff tops of Portland Bill, then receding, threatening to drag the winter tourists and spectators into the rough water below.

The wild spray reached as far as the toes of Griff Hendry’s boots as, under the gaze of the red and white striped lighthouse, he stood firm. His instinct was to keep vigil over the families and photo-opportunists gripped by the sight of the huge breakers – people like him, restless and eager to engage with the outside world following the festivities of New Year. It made no difference he was off-duty; his experience as a coastguard and his years of living in West Dorset meant he knew the risk; nature was sometimes a beast – raw, savage, and powerful. She was to be admired, but with reverence. Much like love.

Both could drown you without warning.

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The storms are a metaphor for Griff’s life. Estranged from his wife, Evie, he stands alone, looking out to sea wondering where it all went wrong. He doesn’t understand how or why his marriage is on the rocks. His and Evie’s love for one another has never been in doubt, so why has she pushed him away? How is it he’s living in a rented flat and no longer in the family home? How can he fix things?

What would you do if you were Griff?

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In my debut novel, Truth or Dare?, the hero, Declan, and heroine, Kate, are in their twenties and single when they first meet. In Follow Me Follow You, the second book in the Chesil Beach series, the hero, Chris, and heroine, Victoria, first met in their teenage years, although the reader meets them some time after this, with Chris and Victoria having been married to other people and with them having families of their own. The story looks at how a first love can impact a person’s life.

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When it came to writing What Doesn’t Kill You, the idea of starting the story at the point when a married couple are separated intrigued me. For two people so obviously in love with each other, what caused the split? And what would bring them together again? Could love be the victim or the perpetrator? Or both?

From riding high on wave after wave of ecstasy, his relationship with Evie had sunk without trace.

And Griff hadn’t seen it coming.

He needed Evie to talk, to tell him what the problem was so he could fix it, but communication was limited. Her usual reply was a shrug, or a silent diversion, and the more he pushed, the further she withdrew. The death blow came when Griff finally forced the issue with a question. A foolish, instantly-regretted question. ‘Is it because of someone else?’

Evie, her green eyes fading to a silky grey, turned away and breathed her word into life. ‘Yes.’

It was after that she asked Griff to leave.

What would you do for love?

I also wanted to examine the dynamics of the Sandwich Generation – people who care for an elderly relative, but are also raising children – and how this works, or doesn’t, within a blended family. Griff’s elderly and disabled father, Logan, is cared for by Evie. Evie has a fifteen-year-old daughter, Tess, from her first marriage, and Griff and Evie have a two-year-old son, Dylan, making Logan a step-grandad to Tess, but a blood relative to Dylan. With Evie’s time split between looking after Logan and running around after a toddler, where does Tess fit in? How does she feel about her mother’s carer duties? How far down the list does she perceive herself to be? And what if she didn’t get on with her step-father, Griff, known to her as Gruff? How would she deal with these situations?

Here’s Tess:

My wilful DMs take me past the garages with the asbestos roofs and I celebrate the fact Gruff hates them – both my boots and the buildings.

He rattles on about asbestos being a silent killer.

I think stepfathers are silent killers.

I fight hard to keep my individuality alive. If Gruff had his way, we’d all be in uniform, standing to attention every time he entered a room. Thinks everything should be done his way, as and when he says.

Belligerence boils in my gut. One day …

What would you do in Tess’s position?

Then there’s Logan, a housebound widower who relies on his daughter-in-law’s kind and caring nature to get him through each day, until he puts Evie in an impossible position. Should she brush it off and carry on as normal? Should she tell Griff? Should she walk away? What should she do?

What would you do?

The story poses many questions, but here’s my final one: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger … but how strong can one person be?

#whatwouldyoudo?

About Laura E. James

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Possessing little in the way of domestic skills, and with an insatiable hunger to write, Laura E. James found a much better use than cooking, for the family kitchen. Tucked neatly in one corner is her very small, but very tidy desk from where she produces issue-driven romantic novels, short stories, and flash fiction.

Living in and enjoying the inspirational county of Dorset, Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, a founder of Littoralis, and one eighth of The Romaniacs, the RNA Industry Awards 2015 Media Stars Winner.

Published by Choc Lit, Laura’s debut novel, Truth or Dare? was nominated for the Festival of Romance Best Romantic eBook. Her second novel, Follow Me Follow You was a LoveReading editorial selection. What Doesn’t Kill You, the third in the Chesil Beach Book Series, is the first title in Choc Lit’s new Dark imprint ‒ compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.

You can visit Laura’s website, or visit The Romaniacs. You’ll also find Laura on Facebook and with like-minded writers who love the sea as inspiration here. You can also follow Laura on Twitter.

8 thoughts on “What Would You Do? A Guest Post by Laura E James, author of What Doesn’t Kill You

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