Cover Reveal: The Development by Jackie Kabler

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About a year ago I was lucky enough to read and review The Deadline by Jackie Kabler. I thoroughly enjoyed it and you can read my review here. Imagine my excitement then when I had a message from Jackie asking if I’d mind – mind I say – if I was quoted on the front cover of her latest book, The Development. Er, no, I didn’t mind. I was thrilled and delighted.

The Development is the third book in Jackie’s Cora Baxter Mysteries series and will be published by Accent Press in May 2018. The Development is available for pre-order here.

The Development

the development

The Development is the third instalment in the hugely popular Cora Baxter Mysteries by acclaimed broadcaster Jackie Kabler.

After a stressful week, TV reporter Cora Baxter is ready for a quiet weekend. What she isn’t counting on is witnessing the shocking death of a young woman on her way home.

Cora discovers that seventeen-year-old Leanne has been protesting against a new housing development, angering the powerful establishment. Leanne’s death is ruled a suicide but, when puzzling information comes to light, Cora decides to investigate further. She might not know what an unscrupulous businessman, a suspended police officer and hate-mail sending neighbours have to do with the case but she does know there is a news story there.

With her eccentric camera crew on hand to help, can Cora tie the strands of Leanne s case together or will other forces interfere?

About Jackie Kabler

Jackie Kabler

Jackie Kabler is the author of the Cora Baxter Mysteries, a series of murder mysteries set in a television newsroom. Jackie worked as a newspaper reporter and then in television news for twenty years, including nearly a decade on GMTV. She later appeared on BBC and ITV news, presented a property show for Sky, hosted sports shows on Setanta Sports News and worked as a media trainer for the Armed Forces. She is now a presenter on shopping channel QVC. Jackie lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, who is a GP.

You can follow Jackie on Twitter, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

The Long Shadow of School Bullying: A Guest Post by Linda MacDonald, Author of Meeting Lydia

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It gives me very great pleasure to welcome another Linda to Linda’s Book Bag today. Linda MacDonald is the author of Meeting Lydia which is about to be released on Audible. Today Linda tells me about the inspiration behind her novel in a wonderfully personal guest post.

Meeting Lydia is available for e-book and paperback purchase and Audible pre-order here.

Meeting Lydia

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Marianne Hayward is having a midlife wobble. When she finds her charming husband has befriended the glamorous Charmaine, she is seized by jealousy. Her once-happy marriage begins to slide.

Insecurities resurface from when she was bullied at a boys’ prep school. Only one boy was never horrible to her, the clever and enigmatic Edward Harvey; her first crush.

Daughter Holly persuades her to join Friends Reunited where she searches for Edward convinced he may be the answer to all her problems. But she is unprepared for the power of email relationships.

Narrated by the talented voice actress Harriet Carmichael, Meeting Lydia is a book about childhood bullying, midlife crises, obsession and jealousy and will appeal to anyone interested in relationship dynamics.

The Long Shadow of School Bullying

How I came to write Meeting Lydia

A Guest Post by Linda MacDonald

When I was 5 years old and living in Cumbria, my parents sent me – as a day girl – to a boys’ prep school. They thought it would be less rough than the local primary. They were wrong. Girls were scattered thinly throughout the school and between the ages of 9 and 10, I was the only girl in the class. I was bullied. It was the usual stuff: name-calling, stealing equipment, being left out. No single incident was what you might call ‘serious’, but it happened hour upon hour, every day. And if someone makes fun of you often enough, you begin to believe it.

In the past bullying was accepted as a rite of passage, even ‘character building’. But does it really help children to cope better as adults? The Kidscape children’s charity thinks not. In a survey of 1000 adults, they found early bullying experiences often led to a lack of self esteem, depression, shyness, and less likelihood of success in education, the workplace or in social relationships. Most said they felt bitter and angry about their experiences.

These results are supported by a longitudinal study by a team from Kings’ College, London, who examined data on 7771 adults born in Britain during a particular week in 1958. At age 50, those who had been bullied showed greater incidence of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and reported poorer physical health. The findings have provoked some researchers into saying that the effects of bullying are as serious as physical abuse or neglect. Those victimised were found to be less likely to have qualifications and/or to live with a spouse or partner and their cognitive IQ was also found to be lower than one would expect when taking their childhood IQ into account. Worryingly, it is speculated that school bullying could lead to premature ageing.

For me, I knew even the comparatively low level bullying I experienced had affected my confidence well into midlife and I can only guess that it may have played a role in some of my adult health issues. I always found it difficult to talk about and I pushed it to the back of my mind. But I had written stories since I was a child and through a hazy curtain, there was always a whispering that I should write a novel with a bullying theme. The problem was, I didn’t have a plot, and it wasn’t until 2001 – way into my midlife – that an idea struck.

Friends Reunited was hitting the headlines. It was the first of the major social networking sites and there were hundreds of exciting tales of people getting in touch with old classmates. In the class where I was the only girl, there was one boy who was never horrible to me. He was very clever and enigmatic and somehow different from the others. And he was the only boy I would write too – if I could find him.

It was some weeks before I saw his name on the site and I sent a tentative email. I was delighted when he wrote straight back and over the next three weeks we exchanged lots of emails – mostly about the past. He empathised with my situation, but also reminded me of the good times.

And in that short time-span of email exchanges, something strange happened. I realised the baggage I’d been carrying around for most of my life had gone. It was like a miracle – but I suppose revisiting the past had been like being in therapy.

As the weeks passed by and the emails continued, an idea began to form for the novel I had always wanted to write. I thought, if I spice up the reality, perhaps create an ‘only girl in a class who has a crush on the boy who was never horrible’ situation, then it would give potential for a much more interesting story if they met via the internet in later life.

So Meeting Lydia came into being and although the children in the story are very much inspired by my own experiences, the adults and their lives are fictional. I hope that the book may help others who have been bullied as children face up to what happened to them and perhaps find a way, as I did, to let go of the past.

The modern world brings new bullying threats in the form of cyberbullying. The founder of BeatBullying says that this threat could be even more damaging to future generations. In the past, children came home from school and shut the door. Now there is no escape. It is therefore ever more urgent that we try to find imaginative ways to address this problem and there are no easy answers. Ideally, bullying needs to be tackled at source, but that requires overturning thousands of years of evolution where humans have learned to establish a pecking order with the strong dominating the weak. Parents and schools must play their part, but their influence is limited and bullying is often hidden. Keeping anti-bullying in the news via celebrities and sporting role models may be a way forward. The message needs to be clear: ‘Bullying is So Not Cool’.

(What a fabulous post Linda. I’m so glad you have been able to move on and that there is a positive outcome in the form of Meeting Lydia for you.)

About Linda MacDonald

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Linda MacDonald is the author of four independently published novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. They are all contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths’, Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham, Kent.

You can find Linda on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @LindaMac1. You’ll find all Linda’s books here.

Why We Need Older Protagonists: A Guest Post by Eva Jordan, Author of All The Colours In Between

ATCIB cover

This evening I’m off to a very special event – the launch of All The Colours In Between by Eva Jordan. I’ve met Eva a few times and she’s absolutely lovely so I’m thrilled to be part of the launch celebrations for All The Colours In Between both virtually on Linda’s Book Bag and in person later.

Eva has appeared on the blog before (here) with a smashing post about female friendships and today I asked her to tell me her thoughts about older protagonists.

Published by Urbane on 19th October 2017, All The Colours In Between is available for purchase here and directly from the publisher.

All The Colours In Between

ATCIB cover

Lizzie is fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And, although Connor, Lizzie’s sulky, surly teenage son, is now on his own tormented passage to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her. Only, things are never quite as black and white as they seem… A visit to her daughter in London leaves Lizzie troubled. And that is just the start. Add to that an unexpected visitor, a disturbing phone call, a son acting suspiciously, a run in with her ex husband plus a new man in her life who quite simply takes her breath away; Lizzie quickly realises life is something that happens while plans are being made. Gritty but tender, thought provoking but light-hearted, dark but brilliantly funny, this is a story of contemporary family life in all its 21st century glory. A story of mothers and sons, of fathers and daughters, of brothers and sisters, and friends. A tale of love and loss, of friendships and betrayals, and coming of age. Nobody said it would be easy and as Lizzie knows only too well, life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between.

Why We Need ‘Older’ Protagonists

A Guest Post by Eva Jordan

Firstly, I’d like to thank the lovely Linda for offering to take part in the blog tour for my second novel, All The Colours In Between. Referring to Lizzie, one of the main characters in my novel, Linda invited me to write a guest post questioning why we need ‘older’ protagonists.

I didn’t consciously make one of my main protagonists an ‘older’ woman, nor do I think I considered a particular market or age group when I wrote my second novel. Lizzie, like the novel, just evolved, and now, with the passing of time, is naturally older than when we were first introduced to her back in my debut novel, 183 Times A Year. Mid 40’s, Lizzie the librarian was then the exasperated mother of Cassie, Connor and stepdaughter Maisy.

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Fast-forward 5 years and All The Colours In Between sees Lizzie fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And, although Connor, Lizzie’s sulky, surly teenage son, is now on his own tormented passage to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her. Only, things are never quite as black and white as they seem…

Therefore, although it can be read as a standalone, All The Colours In Between is, for all intents and purposes, the sequel to my debut. So, in that sense, the characters are older (although not necessarily wiser) and life is moving on, as it does with all of us.

On a personal note, my preferred reading is quite broad. I love to read different genres and I like to be introduced to characters that include a diverse range of characteristics including class, race, gender and age. There is, however, a lot to be said for writing about ‘older’ characters, including a lot more scope for a back-story. As a writer you get to ask how your characters personalities were shaped? If they had easy or difficult childhoods? You also get to ask, as adults, do they consider themselves a success or a failure and what lessons have they learned from life? Then of course there is the aging process itself, which finds you asking your characters how they deal with the physical changes caused by ageing as demonstrated by Lizzie in the following extract.

“I finish applying my make-up and stare at the reflection in the mirror. I’m repulsed at the haggard face staring back at me. More powder is needed to seal the foundation covering the cracks of my aging face. Picking up an over-large brush I wave it like a wand across my cheeks and nose. Sadly though, this wand is not a magic wand and fails to miraculously transform me. No amount of foundation can hide the crevices becoming more obvious every day. The slightly delicate lines above my lips are the worst. Not immediately noticeable, at least not first thing in the morning, but slap on a bit of lipstick and within a few hours I am left with tiny rivers of blood leading from my mouth to the base of my nose. Threads of colour seeping and creeping along miniscule gaps where they remain stubbornly embedded, no matter how hard I rub them. Then there are the lines around my eyes, of course. Laughter lines, Simon calls them. Haven’t laughed much lately, though.”

I should add here, though, Lizzie is not the only protagonist, either in 183 Times A Year or All The Colours In Between. Her narration is contrasted with the voices of her younger children, namely 16 year old Cassie in 183 Times A Year, who is now 21 years old in All The Colours In Between, and Lizzie’s youngest child, Connor, who was 11 years old in my debut but is now 16 years old in the second novel. Connor has a much larger role in the second novel compared to the first, mainly because I have teenage children myself and they remind what a difficult transition period going from childhood to adulthood can be. But I also find young adults both hilariously funny and fascinating, apt to inspire me but also exasperate me, all within a Nano second of speaking, thus providing evidence of the disparities between young and old but also, at times, highlighting the perfect parallels between them.

However, Linda’s question did get me thinking about the idea of ‘older’ protagonists, especially female ones. A few immediately sprang to mind like Yvonne Carmichael, the forty something character in Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard. Then of course there is Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones who, although started out in her 30’s in the first novels, is now in her 50’s in the more recent books in the series. Nonetheless, when I investigated the subject matter a little more closely, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite an abundance of novels containing ‘older female’ protagonists. I therefore thought it a good idea to end this post with a short reading list of ten titles of books I have either read and enjoyed, or, I like the sound of and would like to read, all of which include ‘older female’ protagonists (not forgetting 183 Times A Year and All The Colours In Between, of course!).

Happy Reading!

Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller

The Long Weekend by Jane E James

The Break by Marion Keyes

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

The Bulgari Connection by Fay Weldon

Half Broken Things by Morag Joss

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki,

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Attwood

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane

Great post and super reading suggestions Eva. Thanks so much. 

About Eva Jordan

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Eva Jordan, born in Kent but living most of her life in a small Cambridgeshire town, describes herself as a lover of words, books, travel and chocolate. She is also partial to the odd glass or two of wine. Providing her with some of the inspiration for her novels, Eva is both a mum and step mum to four grown-up children. Her career has been varied including working within the library service and at a women’s refuge. She writes a monthly column for a local magazine and currently works as a volunteer for a charity based organisation that teaches adults to read. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her passion. All The Colours In Between is Eva’s second novel.

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

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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Introducing Yes: A Guest Post by Anne Patterson, Author of Yes

Yes

It’s almost a year (9th November) since my wonderful Dad died from the massive stroke he had in July and when I realised that Yes by Anne Patterson involved a protagonist who’d had a stroke I wanted to feature it on Linda’s Book Bag. I’m afraid I haven’t quite gathered the emotional strength to read Yes yet, but today Anne tells me a bit about it.

Published today, 26th October 2017 by Silver Tail Books, Yes is available for purchase here and on Amazon.

Yes

Yes

Maureen McCormack wakes up after a stroke, her memory fragmented. She can say only one word – Yes. Friends, family and lovers visit her in hospital, filling silences with secrets and learning to open up as Maureen learns to listen.

As the revelations mount, her view of life fundamentally shifts. Maureen and those around her attempt to come to terms with all that has been left unsaid and unexamined.

When her ability to speak gradually returns, she decides to keep it a secret, until she has made sense of her past and gathered the strength to shape her future.

Yes is a novel about how relationships grow, disintegrate and heal, showing what happens when people really listen to each other.

Introducing Yes

A Guest Post by Anne Patterson

I trained as a nurse and still work full time in the NHS and as you’ll see, my day job has had an influence on my noveI. I have always found hospitals fascinating; the rules, the language and the hierarchy. It’s also a great way of taking your characters out of their comfort zone and making them have conversations they wouldn’t normally have. The idea for Yes has been around for a while. In 1999 at age 38, I wanted to write about an overburdened woman aged 50 whose life is put on pause and she suddenly has time to think.  It’s taken me so long to get the book written that I have overtaken my character Maureen in age! I think in your 50’s you can easily sit back and have regrets or you can see it as a time to get started. I am talking about myself as well as Maureen.

Maureen is a full-time teacher, part-time farmer and would-be artist. She’s the narrator of Yes. When a stroke deprives her of nearly, but not quite all her speech, she starts to have regrets about how she has distanced herself from the people she loves. In her family and community, folk keep themselves to themselves, never talking about how they really feel. While she’s critical of that in others, after the stroke it dawns on her that she too has been part of the problem: isolating herself, emotionally, by being too busy to talk; shying away from uncomfortable conversations; worrying about being judged. While recovering from her stroke, Maureen has time to revisit, mentally, her secrets, her lovers, her crushes, her furious hatreds and the deep sadness she’s packed away and tried to forget. Her silence encourages her visitors to keep talking. Her hospital bedside is a venue for monologues and confessions, declarations of love and stories of betrayal.

Maureen isn’t based on anyone I know. Being able to say only one or a few set words following a stroke is quite common. My dad’s friend, John was a great talker – ‘great craic’ as they say where I come from. In his fifties, he had a stroke and for a while he could only say yes. His story made me think about the impact that losing your speech might have on relationships and how others react to you. Somehow he was able to stay part of the conversation using the word yes to show hearty agreement, extreme scepticism and stern negativity. His cronies all stuck by him. In time, his speech started to trickle, then to flow back. John was a confident outgoing guy; but for some, aphasia can be very isolating. Aphasiaalliance.org has some useful tips on ‘aphasia-friendly communication’.

Yes is set in 1998. There have been huge developments in stroke prevention, treatment and rehabilitation since then. Maureen was lucky because a stranger called an ambulance when she had the stroke. I can’t help thinking that if she’d been at home, she’d have said, ‘Don’t make a fuss, I’ll be okay after a nice cup of tea.’ Campaigns by the Stroke association have helped people know when to call 999 for crucial early treatment.

People have asked me about the book. Is it a romance? There is a bit of romance in it but I think the key relationship is the one between Maureen and her sister Shirley. Inseparable as little girls, their everyday lives are still intertwined, but Maureen realises that they have stepped back further and further from each other when they should have stood together.  Maureen is shocked at her sister’s frankness; once Shirley starts talking at the bedside, there’s no stopping her. This is a story as much about the importance of listening as the value of talking.

(And that’s a lesson we could all learn – before it’s too late Anne.)

About Anne Patterson

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Anne Patterson is from County Antrim. She lives in London and works for the NHS. Yes is her first novel.

You can follow Anne on Twitter @Patterson13Anne.

Special Christmas Giveaway from Lilly Bartlett, Author of Christmas at the Falling-Down Guest House

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I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for Lilly Bartlett’s latest release Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse not least because there’s a chance to win homemade cookies from the author Lilly, otherwise known as Michele Gorman, herself. I’ve loved the Lilly Bartlett books I’ve read and you’ll find my review of The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square here, and of The Big Dreams Beach Hotel here.

Previously Michele’s The Reluctant Elf, Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse is published today, 25th October 2017 and is available for purchase here.

Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse

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Put your feet up and tuck into the mince pies, because you won’t have to lift a finger to enjoy this Christmas!

Too bad the same can’t be said for single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie. When her beloved Aunt Kate ends up in hospital just before Christmas, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter rush to rural Wales to take over her B&B. A picky hotel reviewer and his mad family are coming to stay, and without the rating only he can give them, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But Lottie can barely run her own life, let alone a hotel. How will she manage to turn the falling-down guesthouse into the luxurious wonderland the reviewer expects? And could the mysterious taxi driver, Danny, who agrees to help her, turn out to be the real gift this season?

As the snow sparkles on the trees and hot chocolate steams in your hand, snuggle into the delicious magic of Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse.

My Review of Christmas at the Falling-Down Guest House

When Lottie’s Aunt Kate ends up in hospital, Lottie and her daughter Mabel have to help run her B and B over Christmas.

Yet again Lilly Bartlett has produced a warm-hearted story which is just right for the festive season. As a short novella I think Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse would be perfect for snuggling up with on Christmas Eve or after Christmas lunch as it brings with it lovely themes of family and sticking together.

I really enjoyed the touches of humour and the speedy plot so that it felt satisfying to read an entire story in the space of an afternoon. I could picture the falling down guest house vividly and felt as if I was a guest too.

As always with Lilly Bartlett, the characters are warm, human and certainly not perfect so that they feel real and believable. I don’t usually like children in stories, but Mabel was a triumph with her aphorisms and balanced the foul Amanda and Oscar wonderfully.

Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse is a lovely way to while away and hour or two as a Christmas treat.

About Lilly Bartlett

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Lilly Bartlett is a pen name of Michele Gorman. Michele writes books with heart and humour, full of best friends, girl power and, of course, love and romance. Call them beach books or summer reads, chick lit or romcom… readers and reviewers call them “feel good”, “relatable” and “thought-provoking”.

She is both a Sunday Times and a USA Today bestselling author, raised in the US and living in London. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word “portion”.

You can find Michele on Instagram and on Facebook . You can follow her on Twitter and visit Michele’s blog and her website. There’s also a Lilly Bartlett Facebook page here.

Christmas Cookie Giveaway

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Win four dozen homemade Christmas cookies from Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman, aka Lilly Bartlett!

Enter to win four dozen Christmas cookies baked by the author! Unlike poor Lottie in Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse, she’s a keen cook who grew up baking every Christmas with her mum – dozens and dozens (and dozens!) of cookies to fuel the family through the season. This year, she’ll be baking for YOU!

The giveaway is global and the winner will be randomly selected on November 1st 2017. To enter, sign up here for Michele’s/Lilly’s newsletter (around three times per year, you can unsubscribe easily at any time and your details will never be shared).

Please note that this giveaway is independent of Linda’s Book Bag.

Fangs and Feasts in Transratania by Geronimo Stilton

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My enormous thanks to Jess at Sweet Cherry Publishing for a copy Fangs and Feasts in Transratania in return for an honest review (and for the spiders and sweets that accompanied it)!

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Published by Sweet Cherry in October 2017, Fangs and Feasts in Transratania is available for purchase here.

Fangs and Feasts in Transratania

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After a mysterious phone call from his cousin Trap, Geronimo sets off for Ratoff in spooky Transratania.

The garlic-fuelled town holds many mysteries, not least the residents of Ratoff Castle. Maybe it’s the way they sleep during the day, maybe it’s the blood-red drink they have with every meal, but there’s something not quite right about them …

Who are these mice?

And will Geronimo manage to survive the night?

For children aged 5-7 and also available as part of a 10 book box set.

My Review of Fangs and Feasts in Transratania

When a mysterious phone call in the middle of the night from cousin Trap sends Geronimo off to Transratania, his adventures are just beginning.

What a cracking book for children Fangs and Feasts in Transratania is. I’m going to get a small negative out of the way first before my review proper. I found the different fonts, designed to engage reluctant readers and break up what can be challenging amounts of text, quite tricky to read smoothly. However, I’m a 50 something woman and not a six or seven year old child.

Aside from that tiny quibble, I thought Fangs and Feasts in Transratania was an excellent story for children. There’s a really well maintained theme of blood and vampire allusions with smashing jokes through word play so that language becomes fun and entertaining. However, there’s nothing that could spark nightmares and unsettle children, just really good storytelling.

The plot is fast paced and engaging so that children would want to read just a little bit more. I think boys especially would enjoy Fangs and Feasts in Transratania and given that they can be hard to interest in reading, this is wonderful.

There’s a great sense of Geronimo as a character too through his first person account so that readers will want to find out what happens to him on other adventures. With another nine books in this particular publisher series available it would be enormous (or enor-mouse) fun to collect them all.

I thought the super illustrations added extra value too as they could be discussed with children, but also they help break up the text, making it more accessible to young independent readers.

Fangs and Feasts in Transratania is a super children’s book. I can understand why Geronimo Stilton is so popular as I thought his adventure was excellent and this particular book would make a perfect Hallowe’en gift.

About Geronimo Stilton

Geronimo

Born in New Mouse City, Mouse Island, Geronimo Stilton is Rattus Emeritus of Mousomorphic Literature and of Neo-Ratonic Comparative Philosophy. For the past twenty years, he has been running The Rodent’s Gazette, New Mouse City’s most widely read daily newspaper. Stilton was awarded the Ratitzer Prize for his scoops on The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid and The Search for Sunken Treasure. He has also received the Andersen 2000 Prize for Personality of the Year. One of his bestsellers won the 2002 eBook Award for world’s best ratlings’ electronic book. His works have been published all over the globe. In his spare time, Mr. Stilton collects antique cheese rinds and plays golf. But what he most enjoys is telling stories to his nephew Benjamin.

You can find out more about Geronimo, watch videos, play games and find lots of fun on his website.

A Publication Day Interview with John Jackson, Author of Heart of Stone

Heart of Stone

It’s no secret that I love featuring authors I’ve actually met on Linda’s Book Bag and today I’m delighted to welcome another of those authors, John Jackson. John and I met in September and I’m so pleased he agreed to tell me all about Heart of Stone.

Heart of Stone is published today, 24th October 2017, and is available for purchase here.

Heart of Stone

Heart of Stone

Dublin, 1730

When young and beautiful Mary Molesworth is forced to marry Robert Rochford, widowed heir to the earldom of Belfield, she finds that her idea of love is not returned. Jealous, cruel and manipulative, Robert ignores her after she has provided him with a male heir, preferring to spend his nights with his mistress. Power-hungry, Robert builds up a reputation that sees him reach for the highest positions in Ireland.

Caught in an unhappy marriage, Mary begins to grow closer to Robert’s younger brother, Arthur. Acknowledging their love for each other, they will risk everything to be together. But Robert’s revenge threatens their lives and tears them apart.

Will Mary and Arthur find a way to escape Robert’s clutches?

Based on real events, Heart of Stone is a tale of power, jealousy, imprisonment, and love, set in 1740s Ireland.

An Interview with John Jackson

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, John and congratulations on today’s publication of Heart of Stone. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and Heart of Stone in particular.

Tell me, why do you write?

Because I enjoy it! (although I don’t enjoy the struggles with writers block)

When did you realise you were going to be a writer?

When I realised that I had a story to tell, and that I could tell that story. What I had to learn was to tell it in a way that made it approachable for others.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

If I can get the story fixed in my head, then I can rip out several thousand words a day. That’s the easy bit.

The hardest has been deciding exactly where you want to go with a story.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

I use a trolley table and type at my chair in the lounge. I am quite happy typing away with the TV on. Weird, isn’t it?

(Interesting as many authors tell me they need to be away from all distractions!)

In your previous working life you did quite a lot of technical writing. How difficult was it to turn your hand to fiction?

Ha ha ha!! Chalk and cheese in so many ways. My previous experience certainly helped in so far as I knew my way around a document, so the technical side was very familiar.

The more technical documentation I wrote, the more I realised that I was writing for the reader – in my previous life these were mostly ships officers who had English as a second language. In other words, simplicity and clarity are everything. That was a help when it came to writing fiction.

Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about  Heart of Stone?

It is set in Ireland and is about a family of three brothers. One had all the advantages by way of position and money, while the middle brother had all the moral advantages. Add a third brother who’s only love is money, and a young girl pressured into marriage and you have some great ingredients.

I know you have an avid interest in family history and have used some of it as a basis for your writing. How did it feel to include elements about those from your own background?

Great! For me it personalised it, so in many ways writing it didn’t feel like work.

How did you go about researching detail and ensuring Heart of Stone was realistic?

I read all I could about the personalities involved, and visited the main sites for the story – initially on line and then in person. As Heart of Stone is set partly in a major building in Ireland, I contacted the managers of Belvedere who were also amazingly helpful.

Heart of Stone is set in Ireland. Why here particularly and how easy did you find it to create a sense of place in your writing?

I have been to Ireland a few times over the years, and researched the period and area as extensively as I could. A lot of the “first draft” had to be intelligent guesswork, but we went over to the location two years ago and just wandered around soaking up the atmosphere and “feel” of the place. As it happens, there was very little I needed to change, but it was extremely useful in giving me more confidence in what I had written. Even little but important details, like “Can you see over the local hedges lining the roads there”

You’re highly supportive of other authors on social media. What advice would you give to those authors who tell me they don’t use social media platforms?

If you have never used Twitter or Facebook before it can seem very daunting, especially when you see and read so many warnings about identity theft, etc. I found it a great place to meet people, and, over the years, to meet them in real life, where on-line friends turn in to real friends,

I would urge any writer to try Twitter and Facebook, and not to be afraid of them. It is, perhaps, the modern equivalent of a “chat across the garden fence”.

I know you belong to the Romantic Novelists Association and the Historic Novel Association and love attending conferences. What do you gain as a writer from such involvement?

Meeting friends!! I have lost count of the times that I have been approached by someone and told “Hi, John – I’m on your Friday twitter list,” or “We are friends on Facebook”

As a writer, it helps me get back in the groove. I have learnt a LOT from the various sessions, especially from Julie Cohen and from Emma Darwin.

As a writer, I would say I learn more about the “Craft” of writing at the RNA Conferences, and more about History and Historic Writing at the HNS Conference.

Heart of Stone has a cover that suggests murkiness and mystery to me. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?

The cover uses a portrait of one of the main protagonists in the story. The original hangs in the house I mentioned, Belvedere. The management were unbelievably helpful in allowing me to use the image.

If you could choose to be a character from Heart of Stone, who would you be and why?

Very difficult. Probably either Stafford or Flynn.

If Heart of Stone became a film, who would you like to play Mary and why would you choose them?  

Keira Knightley.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I tend to read a lot of historical novels, esp. writers like Bernard Cornwell, Linsey Davis and Simon Scarrow.

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Heart of Stone should be their next read, what would you say?

It’s a story of jealousy, passion, privilege and suffering, but with love at its heart

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions John.

And thank you for asking them.

About John Jackson

John Jackson

Following a lifetime at sea, John Jackson has now retired and lives in York. After thirty years of non-fiction writing, drafting safety procedures and the like, he has now turned his hand to writing fiction.

An avid genealogist, he found a rich vein of ancestors going back many generations. His forebears opened up Canada and Australia and fought at Waterloo.
A chance meeting with some authors, now increasingly successful, led him to try to turn some of his family history into historical novels.

John is a keen member of the Romantic Novelists Association and graduated through their New Writers Scheme. He is also a member of the Historic Novel Association and an enthusiastic conference-goer for both organizations.

He describes himself as being “Brought up on Georgette Heyer from an early age, and, like many of my age devoured R L Stevenson, Jane Austen, R M Ballantyne, and the like.”

You can find out more by following John on Twitter @jjackson42, visiting his blog and finding him on Facebook.