Positive Social Media: A Guest Post by Cara Hunter, Author of Close to Home

Close to Home

I’m so excited to welcome Cara Hunter, author of Close to Home to Linda’s Book Bag today in celebration of this first DI Fawley investigative novel. Cara has written a fabulous guest post about the positive use of social media and I would like to thank Poppy North for inviting me to be part of these celebrations for Close to Home.

Published by Penguin on 14th December 2017, Close to Home is available for purchase here.

Close to Home

Close to Home

HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying…

And that Daisy’s time is running out.

Positive Social Media

A Guest Post by Cara Hunter

This time of year we get a lot of media stories looking back on the past twelve months, and I’ve been really struck by how negative many of those have been about social media. It’s not just the fake news or the trolling or the hate campaigns – we already knew about those – it’s deeper than that. Even the things we used to praise about social media are under scrutiny now – EM Forster may have urged us to ‘only connect’ but it seems too much connection is just as bad for you as too little. I’ve lost count of the number of New Year’s resolutions that include a commitment to live in the real world more and the virtual one less, and India Knight (one of my favourite Twitter feeds, incidentally) is not alone in deciding that she’s going to make some serious changes to how she uses social media in 2018. In short, less (depressing) news and comment, more (uplifting) nature, cooking and books.

So where does that leave us authors on social media? First and most obviously, let’s seize the chance to be positive. In every sense of the word.  More talk about writing and less about politics. More conversations, less sounding-off, however desperate the world seems.  And this isn’t just about what we say, either: making social media more positive is also about ensuring that the way we use all these infinitely distracting platforms adds to the work of writing, rather than detracts from it. We all know that social media will devour every second you give it, so it does need to be rationed. On the other hand, writing is a solitary life, and if you work from home (as most of us do), social media can limit the loneliness. Probably the best analogy is the office water cooler – great to swing by for a few minutes’ chat, but no sensible person would dream of spending the whole day there. Not least because you wouldn’t get anything done.

The other thing that the best of social media can do is widen your world. I did a lot of the research for Close to Home on Twitter, where one of the main themes is how social media responds to – and can even influence – the investigation of a crime. But it’s broader than that. At its best, social media doesn’t just find you answers to questions, it drops things in your lap you didn’t even know you were looking for. Images, anecdotes, snippets, memories. And as any writer knows, that’s where all good stories start….

(So lovely to have a positive article about social media. Thanks so much Cara.)

About Cara Hunter

Cara Hunter is the pen-name of an established novelist who lives in Oxford, in a street not unlike those featured in her series of crime books, who is starting a new life of crime in a series of Oxford-based books to be published by Viking/Penguin.

She also studied for a degree and PhD in English literature at Oxford University.

Close to Home is her debut featuring DI Adam Fawley, and her second, In the Dark, is coming soon.

You can follow Cara on Twitter @CaraHunterBooks.

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Close to Home blog tour

Introducing Hunter’s Chase by Val Penny

Hunter's Chase book cover

I’m so pleased to be part of the launch celebrations for Hunter’s Chase by Val Penny today, not least because Val is here on Linda’s Book Bag to introduce her latest book personally and explain why she set Hunter’s Chase in Edinburgh.

Hunter’s Chase is the first in Val Penny’s Edinburgh Crime Mysteries and will be published by Crooked Cat books on 2nd February 2018. It is available for pre-order here.

Hunter’s Chase

Hunter's Chase book cover

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

Hunter’s Chase and Tartan Noir

A Guest Post by Val Penny.

I am pleased to be visiting my friend’s blog today.

(And I’m very please to welcome you here Val)

My novel, Hunter’s Chase is a crime thriller that falls squarely within the Tartan Noire genre. The main protagonist is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson. The story begins when DI Hunter Wilson, who knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, Edinburgh, Scotland, needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller. Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

I set Hunter’s Chase in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland because it is a city I know well. I did consider creating an imaginary town for him. However, Edinburgh has everything a writer could need. It is a diverse city with all different kinds of buildings and people. It is small enough that characters can move around it quickly and large enough for it to be credible that anything I want to happen there, could happen.

Edinburgh is also a beautiful city with a castle, a palace and a cathedral, wealthy homes, horrible slums, fine restaurants, fast food outlets and idiosyncratic pubs. It is home to an Olympic size pool, the National Rugby Team and two famous football teams. What more could I or my characters want?

(What more indeed! Makes me want to be there right now. I’ll just have to travel vicariously through Hunter’s Chase.)

About Val Penny

author pic 2

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. Val has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and an MSc from Napier University.

Val has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Val’s first crime novel, Hunter’s Chase, will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. She is now writing the sequel, Hunter’s Revenge.

Val Penny has a smashing blog of her own here. You can follow Val on Twitter @valeriepenny and find her on Facebook.

Hunter's Chase banner

When Reality Fights Its Way Into Fiction: A Guest Post by Christine Webber with It’s Who We Are Giveaway

It's Who We are Cover

I’m so pleased to be part of the launch celebrations for It’s Who We Are by Christine Webber, not least because I’m the same age as the characters in the book! I’m thrilled that not only do I have a guest post from Christine today, but she has kindly offered a paperback copy of It’s Who We Are to give away to a Linda’s Book Bag reader. To enter, see the details further down this blog post. I shal be posting my review of It’s Who We Are just as soon as I can as I hear fantastic things about it from other bloggers.

Published on 16th January 2018, It’s Who We Are is available for purchase here.

It’s Who We Are

It's Who We are Cover

Five friends in their fifties find themselves dealing with unforeseen upheaval as they uncover long-hidden and devastating family secrets.

Meanwhile, the world around them seems to be spinning out of control.

This is a novel about friendship, kindness and identity – and about how vital it is to reach for what enhances rather than depletes you.

When Reality Fights Its Way Into Fiction

A Guest Post by Christine Webber

I know I’m not alone in feeling more anxious, and less happy, about living in Britain than I did a few years ago. I look back on the golden days of the Olympic Games in 2012, and wonder where our outward-looking, integrated, innovative and highly-regarded nation went. Life feels very different now.

In early June 2016, a couple of weeks before the EU referendum, I published a novel which was essentially a romantic comedy for and about the over-50s. Just before that publication, I started writing a new book; something rather more complex. There were to be five main characters. A medical mystery. Family secrets that would have the potential to unsettle people’s views of their identities. And, of course, I was planning a generous helping of the sort of stuff I love – the ups and downs and paradoxes that characterise mid-life today.

That novel, It’s Who We Are, is published this week. And all the elements described above are in the story. But once the referendum result was known on June 24th, I found it impossible to write a contemporary novel that did not also feature the unprecedented turmoil we found ourselves in.

It’s absolutely right that authors should reflect political upheaval, but till then, I’d never considered that I might become one of those authors who do.

My characters, it turned out, had other ideas. Two of them, who ran their own businesses, were seriously concerned about the future of their staff as well as their companies – and their worries became fundamental to the plot. Also, though I had always planned to give one of my characters an Irish mother, in the light of the Brexit vote, I found myself making Ireland much more central to the story than I had anticipated. This required major re-structuring – but it was essential.

It’s Who We Are is therefore a very different novel from the one I’d intended writing. But the world has changed. And, in response to that, I’ve changed. So, the book had to change too.

(Hmm. I’ve never really thought about how contemporary events might affect both the writer and their writing Christine. Real food for thought here, thank you.)

About Christine Webber

Christine webber

After a break of 29 years to write over a dozen non-fiction titles, Christine Webber returned to writing fiction in 2016. The result was a novel called Who’d Have Thought It? which is a romantic comedy about the change and challenges we encounter in mid-life.

Christine’s latest novel, It’s Who We Are, is about the turbulence of mid-life and the secrets in families that can force us to look at our own identities. It is also a book about the importance of friendship.

Christine is a former singer, TV presenter, agony aunt, columnist and Harley Street psychotherapist.

Nowadays she is focusing on fiction – though she still pops up on the radio from time to time.

You can follow Christine on Twitter @1chriswebber, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

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tour poster.jpg

Giveaway: A paperback Copy of It’s Who We Are by Christine Webber

For your chance to win a paperback copy of It’s Who We Are by Christine Webber, click here.

Giveaway open to UK and Ireland only and closes at UK Midnight on Thursday 25th January 2018.

An Extract from The Bookworm by Mitch Silver

The Bookworm Cover

I’m thrilled to be able to share an extract from The Bookworm by Mitch Silver today as I think it looks like a thriller I’m definitely going to enjoy.

The Bookworm will be published by Pegasus on 6th February 2018 and is available for pre-order here.

The Bookworm

The Bookworm Cover

Europe, 1940: It’s late summer and Belgium has been overrun by the German army. Posing as a friar, a British operative talks his way into the monastery at Villers-devant-Orval just before Nazi art thieves plan to sweep through the area and whisk everything of value back to Berlin. But the ersatz man of the cloth is no thief. Instead, that night he adds an old leather Bible to the monastery’s library and then escapes.

London, 2017: A construction worker operating a backhoe makes a grisly discovery―a skeletal arm-bone with a rusty handcuff attached to the wrist. Was this the site, as a BBC newsreader speculates, of “a long-forgotten prison, uncharted on any map?” One viewer knows better: it’s all that remains of a courier who died in a V-2 rocket attack. The woman who will put these two disparate events together―and understand the looming tragedy she must hurry to prevent―is Russian historian and former Soviet chess champion Larissa Mendelova Klimt, “Lara the Bookworm,” to her friends. She’s also experiencing some woeful marital troubles.

In the course of this riveting thriller, Lara will learn the significance of six musty Dictaphone cylinders recorded after D-Day by Noel Coward―actor, playwright and, secretly, a British agent reporting directly to Winston Churchill. She will understand precisely why that leather Bible, scooped up by the Nazis and deposited on the desk of Adolf Hitler days before he planned to attack Britain, played such a pivotal role in turning his guns to the East. And she will discover the new secret pact negotiated by the nefarious Russian president and his newly elected American counterpart―maverick and dealmaker―and the evil it portends.

Oh, and she’ll reconcile with her husband.

An Extract from The Bookworm

(Excerpted from The Bookworm by Mitch Silver, published by Pegasus Books. © Mitch Silver.  Reprinted with permission from the publisher. All other rights reserved. )

Chapter 1

Moscow, Russia

Monday

In a vast Stalin-era granite box several kilometers north of the capital’s outer ring road, Larissa Mendelova Klimt checked her cell phone one last time—nothing—before packing up the box for the return leg of her “daily commute.” Her routine never varied: pick up the yashchik in the morning, walk it along two rows of the Osobyi Arkhiv and then three rows over. Unlock the door to her carrel and set the box of old papers down on the desk. Turn on the light. Be seated. At night, pick up the box, lock up, and walk her burden back to its parking place with the other wartime files on the archive’s shelf.

She was feeling pretty good about herself. Other people went away for the summer, enjoyed the weather, swam at the seaside or in a lake, maybe. But Lara the Good Girl worked right here while Russia’s brief summer came and went. Unencumbered by her teaching load, she had waded through the captured Nazi documents in the box like an explorer. No, a cosmonaut—she was the Yuri Gagarin of academics, soaring through the unknown.

Take that day when she found two of the daily logs stuck together. Two not terribly significant days in May 1942, recorded down to the last, absurd detail by one of Hitler’s secretaries at the time, probably Johanna Wolf. Even as she carefully unstuck May 15 from May 16, she realized no Russian eyes had ever seen the page underneath; no Russian fingers had ever touched it. Of 150 million people, only Lara knew that Hitler had visited Wewelsburg to promote a cadre of SS officers at Himmler’s castle there before returning the same evening to Berlin by special train for a briefing on the Crimean offensive driving toward Baku. Okay, it was nothing special. Trivial, even. But it was all hers.

She knew what her friends called her: knižnyj červ. The “book- worm.” All they could see was the huge iron door of the Russian State Military Archive that closed behind her in the morning, never the enlightenment to be found within the heavily guarded Special, or Osobyi, section inside.

For the past eleven weeks, she had been doing exactly what she wanted to do. She spent nearly every waking minute plowing through the yellowed pages in this single box in the vast climate- controlled archive. Or else hunched over one of the preserved ’40s-era Dictaphone machines in the Listening Room twenty meters down the hall, as the voices of Hitler, Himmler, and Bormann dictated letters and summarized staff meetings on the hundreds of recordings liberated from the Führerbunker.

Even so, Lara had her reasons for being euphoric. She could tick off at least five of them on her fingers, starting with her thumb: with this last page, she had the whole dusty job of reading and translating behind her for another year. Index finger: she had her big definitive book, her Origins of the Great Patriotic War, all but written on the desk in front of her. Middle finger: Viktor was finally served with the divorce papers and she could move on with her life. Ring finger: Over the summer she had been named to fill the vacant chair in her department and would teach her initial class tomorrow as the country’s first full professor of geopolitical history. And pinkie: She had planned this summer’s work with her usual care, and had been rewarded by arriving at the last page of the Chronologies on September 8, the final allotted day. She had calculated it per- fectly, which just went to prove how weird the newly minted Lukoil Professor of Geohistory Larissa Mendelova Klimt—Lara to her friends—really was.

Still, as she gazed out the big, grimy window at the handful of people hurrying along the pedestrian walk of the Leningradskoye shosse on their way home and then down at the notes she’d tapped out on her iPad, she could feel the same old niggling doubt creeping back in. Is it worth it? Is this any way to spend a life, shutting yourself away in a musty archive?

Viktor certainly didn’t think so. One time she’d read him something she’d written and he’d given that little deprecating snort of his. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. What difference does it make?”

Was she divorcing Viktor because he was a no-good unfaithful bastard, or because she couldn’t bear to have him putting down her work? Did she surround herself with dead men talking because the actual live ones out there in the world were unknowable? From the time she’d been the tallest preteen in her srednyaya shkola in the closed city of Perm, Larissa had attracted the male gaze. But what, really, had they seen in her? Her nose was clearly too long, her teeth—though perfectly white and even—had a space in the middle, and her inky-black hair would never stay where she brushed it. Worse, out of her mouth would come what- ever she was thinking.

Lara returned her gaze to the single-spaced German record in front of her; she would read the last of the pages and deal with her life some other time. By now she knew Traudl Junge’s machine, the typewriter with the chipped apostrophe. Guess they couldn’t get new typewriters in the bunker by 1945.

And what was “A.H.” doing on April 21, the day after his birthday party and the last day of the Chronologies? Was he in the map room, planning to move up his nonexistent Southern Army to block the Russians at the gates to Berlin? No, he did that yesterday. Was he in the radio room, directing waves of nonexis- tent V-2s to wipe out the Red Army’s advance units (and most of the Berlin population)? He’d already tried that too.

Today he was playing with the Goebbels children. On other days, he’d show them Speer’s plans for the complete redesign of Linz, the Führer’s birthplace, into the new seat of Germanic culture. Today, though, he was back to playing with Tibet.

Fraulein Junge recorded it on the same onionskin paper she once used for councils of war: “1100 hrs. to 1215: A.H. again had us roll out the scale model of Lhasa to instruct the children on the beginnings of their race. How the gods had lived on the continent of Atlantis and how, when it succumbed to the Great Flood, they had moved to the lands of Thule and Ultima Thule far to the north. Then, when some of them had had carnal knowledge of mortal women, an elite priesthood of Nordics had taken refuge in another icy stronghold, in the Himalayas, and established their kingdom far beneath the surface of the earth.

“With that he delighted the children by lifting up the model’s mountains to reveal the magical city of the Aryans, the master race, as it had been recreated below. The little one, Heide, clapped her hands in joy as always.”

Lara shivered and let the flimsy paper drop from her hands. She knew that ten days later, her mother would crush cyanide capsules into the mouths of little Heide and her five brothers and sisters so they might all perish with the Führer.

Did Germany’s desire for lebensraum make the war inevitable? Or was it simply about one twisted, murderous man with unlimited power? One thing she did know: it was time to put the box back on the shelf and leave pure, unadulterated evil behind her for another year.

About Mitch Silver

Mitch silver

Mitch Silver is the author of the critically acclaimed In Secret Service (S&S). He an advertising agency creative director who lives in Rye, New York.

You can visit Mitch’s website for more details.

An Interview with L.J. Kane, Author of Snatch Girl

snatch girl

I must begin this blog post with an abject apology to L. J. Kane, author of Snatch Girl. I completely forgot that we had conducted this interview and have been sitting on it for over two months. I think I was suffering from bamboozled blogger brain. However, I’m delighted to be rectifying the error and welcoming L. J. Kane to Linda’s Book Bag today.

Snatch Girl was published on 21st April 2017 and is available for purchase here.

Snatch Girl

snatch girl

Girl missing: What if you’re with her all the way through to the end…if it ends…? Will Ellie survive? Would you?

Snatched from her sadistic captor’s lair by his own getaway driver, eighteen-year-old student Ellie realises that she’s still kidnapped. As the enigmatic Darren Broderick drives off into the night with the terrified girl beside him, the sadistic Jon Braddon is not far behind.

Thrown together, on opposing sides, Darren and Ellie must stay one step ahead of Braddon’s twisted mind, and Ellie must resist Darren’s Aussie charms to the end. Darren Broderick needs the ransom, Braddon needs a victim. And he will fight to the death to get her back.

Warning: This book contains violent content, profanity, and sexually explicit scenarios.

An Interview with L. J. Kane

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, L.J. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and Snatch Girl in particular. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?

Hi. I’m L.J. Kane, the English author of Snatch Girl, the shocking, fast-paced, psychological suspense thriller novel released on 21st April 2017. I’m told that it’s not for the faint-hearted!

I live in the UK with my husband who’s a great soundboard, full of encouragement, and great ideas. Between us, we have met many unusual characters over the years, people with extraordinary lives from whom I can derive lots of inspiration.

I love people-watching, overhearing conversations on the bus, dreaming up exciting plots while waiting in traffic, and while walking the dogs. I am having so much fun with my novels, and it’s because I’ve always believed in myself, that I have finally become an author, after 20 years procrastinating!

Why do you write?

I can’t imagine a life without writing. Stories fly around my head and I’m always thinking up characters and scenarios for thrillers. I enjoy the creative process so much, and I enjoy creating scary, nerve-wracking scenes.

(Oh. I think that sounds exhausting!)

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

I was about 7 years old when my teacher said that my stories were advanced for my years, and that I was a “proper little author.” In my teenage years, my English teacher encouraged me to take my stories to the next level as I often turned the mundane “Turn this paragraph into a short story” brief into a mini thriller, complete with air crashes, and spies gunning each other down on rain-soaked hillsides!

(Hurrah for English teachers I say – well I did used to be one!)

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

The easiest aspect for me is character building. In Snatch Girl, Darren’s character was the easiest, closely followed by Ellie who just seemed to write herself onto the page. Braddon, the brutal, sadistic villain, was a little more difficult as he’s a savage character with evil on his mind, and that took a lot of effort because it’s painful to write about someone like that.

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

I’m a night owl so I write from about 9pm into the early hours, when my ‘muse’ wakes up! I edit in the daytime when I’m focused. I actually write lying on the sofa with my feet up, a wireless keyboard on my lap, and a huge all-in-one PC facing me on the coffee table! Lazy, I know, but so comfortable.

Snatch Girl is a psychological suspense thriller, how did you feel whilst you were writing it?

I wrote Snatch Girl in Deep Point of View, staying within poor Ellie’s head the whole way through the book. I felt Ellie’s every stab of fear, every emotion, and every footstep, right through to the end, so it was both thrilling and exhilarating. I felt so guilty dragging Ellie through those nightmare scenarios!

(That must have been quite an experience.)

I know you procrastinated for twenty years before writing Snatch Girl. What advice would you give to other aspiring writers, like me, who are currently procrastinating?

Believe you can write your book and focus on the end product in your mind: the paperback in your hands, the e-book on your device. Create music playlists for your characters and scenes, and then go for it. As my mom says, “While you’re thinking [about it], you could be doing [it]”.

Why did you choose to make Darren Australian?

It just totally fits his character, his sense of humour, and his macho side. Darren’s a complex character, the anti-hero/bad boy of the story, and he was so much fun to write!

Snatch Girl is very fast paced. How did you manage the plotting of your book? 

I initially wrote Snatch Girl as a ‘write and see’ type of novel but I had to reign it in quickly! I created several drafts, made copious typed and hand-written notes, used sticky notes, scribbled on serviettes – you name it, I made notes on it! I knew the storyline backwards, so it came together easily. In fact, I had so many ideas that I had to miss a few scenes out of the final book.

(Perhaps we’ll see some of them in the next book.)

If you could choose to be a character from Snatch Girl, who would you be and why? 

I think I’d be too terrified to be any of them! It was scary being inside Ellie’s head the whole time and experiencing the trauma of being the kidnap victim in a relentless living nightmare. I wouldn’t dare to be in Braddon’s head for a second…

If Snatch Girl became a film, who would you like to direct it?

I think the late Wes Craven would have been the perfect choice to bring Snatch Girl to the big screen, with his style showcasing the shocks and nail-biting suspense from beginning to end.

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

I love psychological thrillers and horror, anything that captures my vivid imagination. Stephen King is my favourite author but I’ll read any book where the cover and blurb intrigue me. I love movies too, the grittier the better.

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

What if you’re with Ellie right through to the end? Will Ellie survive? Would you?

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions L. J. and for being so patient whilst I got round to sharing them with blog readers. 

You’re very welcome. Thank you for having me!

About L. K. Kane

L J Kane

L.J. Kane loves people-watching, overhearing conversations on the bus, dreaming up exciting plots while waiting in traffic, and while walking the dogs. She is having so much fun with her novels, and it’s because she always believed in herself, that she has finally become an author after procrastinating for 20 years!

She lives with her husband who’s a great soundboard, full of encouragement, and great ideas. Between them, they have met many unusual characters over the years, people with extraordinary lives from whom she can derive lots of inspiration.

You can find out more by following L. J. on Twitter @L_J_KaneAuthor, visiting her blog or her website or visiting her Goodreads page.

In Love and War by Liz Trenow

In love and war

Having previously had the privilege of interviewing Liz Trenow, author of In Love and War on Linda’s Book Bag (here) when The Silk Weaver was published, I’m thrilled to be part of the launch celebrations for Liz’s latest novel In Love and War. As well as sharing my review, I asked Liz about things that she has loved and lost as that’s one of the themes of In Love and War and she’s written a super guest post in reply.

Published by Pan Macmillan on 25th January 2018, In Love and War is available for pre-order through these links.

In Love and War

In love and war

Three women, once enemies. Their secrets will unite them.

The First World War is over. The war-torn area of Flanders near Ypres is no longer home to troops, but groups of tourists. Controversial battlefield tourism now brings hundreds of people to the area, all desperate to witness first-hand where their loved ones fell.

At the Hotel de la Paix in the small village of Hoppestadt, three women arrive, searching for traces of the men they have loved and lost.

Ruby is just twenty-one, a shy Englishwoman looking for the grave of her husband. Alice is only a little older but brimming with confidence; she has travelled all the way from America, convinced her brother is in fact still alive. Then there’s Martha, and her son Otto, who are not all they seem to be . . .

The three women in Liz Trenow’s In Love and War may have very different backgrounds, but they are united in their search for reconciliation: to resolve themselves to what the war took from them, but also to what life might still promise for the future …

What I have loved and lost

A  Guest Post by Liz Trenow

It is tempting to write about the people whom I have loved and lost – my father, for example, who was a remarkable man. He died aged 96 having lived through most of the 20th century and two world wars, having saved the silk weaving company from bankruptcy several times, and having lived an incredibly full and active life in spite of losing a leg in his teens after a road accident.

And then there was my mother, the most caring, loving, intuitive, home-making mum you could ever hope for. A light went out of my life when she died.

But you have asked for something, not someone. So what I have chosen is a house, the house that my parents built for themselves, a modest bungalow in a beautiful position on the edge of a wartime gravel pit that had filled up with water. It was, literally, the house on the lake. They managed to buy the land from an uncle at a very reasonable price, and my father did much of the work himself. We moved there when I was nine, and I thought I’d arrived in heaven: a large garden, much of it completely wild, and apple orchard and a lake on which we paddled rafts and small boats, playing pirates. In springtime the water was thronged with ducklings, goslings and cygnets.

My father and mother remained very much in love throughout their lives and in my mind this place seemed to symbolise their marriage. They built it together and right to the end both of them relished every aspect of living there. Sadly, once they died, it had to be sold.

Recently, the new owners demolished the bungalow and built a much larger, grander house in its place. Now I avoid driving down that road: it is too painful to return.  But one day I will recreate that place in my imagination, for a novel.

Oh my goodness Liz. I know exactly what you mean. My grandfather gave my parents some land next to a little brook and Dad built their bungalow where we moved when I was 7. It had the most wonderful gardens. It too has recently been demolished and turned into a huge guest house and where there were once flowers and trees there is now tarmac and parking. I avoid that road too!

My Review of In Love and War

Three women from very different countries and backgrounds find they are not so very different after all.

In Love and War is a lovely, lovely book. Having read it, I find myself very moved by the dedication at the front which didn’t have a great deal of meaning to begin with. I feel Liz Trenow’s story is a fitting tribute to Lt. Geoffrey Foveaux Trenow and all men of all nationalities who lost their lives.

There’s no rampaging, heart-thumping plot here, but In Love and War is still a hugely compelling reading with a wonderful insight into the lives of those who lost loved ones during World War 1. I found that the gentle plot crept up on me and provided an emotional read that took me by surprise so that I felt very moved and not a little tearful afterwards.

Liz Trenow has a real eye for detail so that the settings are described in a way that makes them come to life. Having visited the WW1 battlefields and cemeteries around Ypres I found myself transported back there so vividly, but with a more substantial realism. I loved the way real places and historical events were so skilfully woven into a gorgeous narrative and the smatterings of German and French in the direct speech added to the authenticity.

The characters of Ruby, Alice and Martha are distinct and convincing, but even better is the way Liz Trenow helps the reader understand that there are no winners or losers in conflict, that none of us is perfect and that a little kindness goes a very long way in helping understanding and reconciliation. Freddie’s description in particular of the bond between fighting men is outstanding.

I think In Love and War is a book to take your time over. It has depth that rewards reflection and thought on the part of the reader. What impressed me most is that Liz Trenow teaches us that it is not physical memorials, or the places where our loved ones are buried that honour them, but rather the memories we cherish that make them live on. I really recommend In Love and War as a moving, evocative, historical read.

About Liz Trenow

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Liz Trenow is the author of three previous historical novels: The Last TelegramThe Forgotten Seamstress and The Poppy Factory. Liz’s family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions. This unique history inspired her first two novels, and this, her fourth novel.

Liz is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in East Anglia, UK, with her artist husband, and they have two grown-up daughter.

You can visit Liz’s website, find her on Facebook and follow Liz on Twitter.

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Staying in with Kirstie Malone

Daisy Chain

Every author I come across has a different story to tell about their road to publication and (whether it’s because I am inherently nosy) I love hearing their stories. I’m inspired by my guest today, Kirstie Malone, author of Daisy Chain, as she shows good things come to those who wait –  and persevere!

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with Kirstie Malone

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Kirstie. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Thank you for inviting me to stay in with you, Linda. I’ve brought Daisy Chain with me this evening. It’s my debut novel, released on the 5th December 2017 and it’s something I am very proud of; having taken me eight years, from first putting pen to paper to finally seeing it listed in both eBook and Paperback on Amazon.

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That sounds like a real labour of love. You must be very proud of your efforts.

What can we expect from an evening in with Daisy Chain?

You can expect a dark relationship thriller, centred around the five protagonists; Karen, Jason, Jessica, Veronica and Bradley. You first meet the group at a University reunion party and it becomes clear very quickly that they are now all very different people to ones that left the University twenty years ago. Transitioning, back and forth, between different years in their lives, you’ll will find out why their once unbreakable bond has been shattered and as secrets are revealed, you will discover what has happened to each character since the separated from the group.

A recent review I’m particularly proud of says ‘So many twists and turns, I changed my mind about the characters about 10 times, such a thrilling read!’ This review made me realise I had done exactly what I wanted to do; create strong characters that readers will invest in.

The way I look at it is, you should only worry about a character if no one cares about them. Whether a reader feels anger towards a character, cries with them, laughs with them or is 100% on their side, a reaction to a character is always a positive thing. You’ll have to let me know your feelings on each character once you have read the book, Linda!

I will indeed! And I I’m rather partial to relationship thrillers!

What else have you brought along and why?

I’ve brought along a photograph and a song with me this evening.

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The photograph is of myself and my best friend, Emma, as kids. Although Daisy Chain was a story I created myself and none of the characters are representations of anyone I know in real life, I did bring one small detail from my personal life into the book and that is the fact that the five characters met on their very first day of school. This is exactly the same as the way I met my best friend and as we are now 20 years into our friendship, I wanted to pay tribute to that in my first novel. Hopefully our friendship never gets as dramatic and complicated as my characters though!

How lovely. I hope you both find your friendship remains less traumatic than those in Daisy Chain!

The song I’ve brought with me is Beneath Your Beautiful by Emeli Sande & Labrinth. I really feel this song represents the bond that the group once had and also the fact that things aren’t always as they appear on the outside. For example, Karen looks like she has the perfect life; a business, designer clothes, nice cars, a penthouse apartment…but life has actually been a lot tougher for her than she lets on. You’ll have to read on to find out if any of her friends are actually brave enough to look beneath her ‘beautiful’ mask.

That sounds fascinating. I think many of us are quite different underneath to the persona we present to the world. I’ve really enjoyed hearing about Daisy Chain Kirstie. Thanks so much for staying in with me to talk about it.

Thank you so much for inviting me round. It’s been great fun chatting with you!

Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain

Road trips, house parties, Tequila Tuesdays, dreams for their futures; a fun, loveable force to be reckoned with. No-one but each other.

Sirens, blood, tears, police tape, a crime scene. Broken hearts and a broken bond. Sad goodbyes and words they thought they’d never say. One by one, until there was nothing left…

When Karen, Jason, Jessica, Bradley and Veronica find themselves back together after twenty years apart, some are more keen than others to fix their broken bond but as secrets and lies are revealed about their University days and life since they split, the group are left in pieces. Can they fix their damaged friendship or was the reunion party the beginning of the end?

Daisy Chain is available for purchase in e-book and paperback on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

About Kirstie Malone

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Writing has always been Kirstie’s biggest passion. Deciding to try writing an episode of EastEnders for fun one day when she was thirteen made her realise that she wanted to become a scriptwriter for television. Kirstie has never looked back since that day, working hard to improve her craft and constantly coming up with new ideas, both for established dramas and also her own original work. At the moment, she has a slate of eight drama series which she hopes will one day be on screen.

At sixteen, Kirstie started working on Daisy Chain, a five part drama series focusing on the lives, loves and lies of estranged friends Karen, Jason, Jessica, Veronica and Bradley. Sending the first episode off to any competition she could find and any production company she could think of, she found it was turned down every time but when she began a Diploma course in Creative Writing, Daisy Chain became a novel and was given a new lease of life.

As well as being a writer, Kirstie works for BBC Worldwide as a Production Coordinator; a role she loves and that gives her plenty of opportunities to learn about the industry.

You can find out more about Kirstie on her website and on Facebook. Kirstie has just joined Twitter too so give her a follow @KirstieMalone24.