Look back, look back, there’s blood on the track: A Guest Post by Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Author of I Remember You

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I am thrilled to have an absolutely brilliant guest post by Elisabeth de Mariaffi, author of I Remember You, today as part of the book’s launch celebrations. In it Maria sets an utterly chilling background to her new novel.

Published by Titan yesterday, 27th March 2018, I Remember You is available for purchase through the links here.

I Remember You

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When her child is lost, she’ll do anything to find him…

Heike Lerner has a charmed life. ​​​A stay-at-home mother married to a prominent psychiatrist, it’s a far cry from the​ damaged​ ​child she used to be. But her world is ​shaken when her four-year-old son​ ​befriends a little girl at a nearby lake, who​ vanishes under the water.

​And when Heike dives in after her, there’s no sign of a body.

Desperate to ​discover what happened to the child, Heike​ seeks out Leo Dolan, a television writer exploring the paranormal​, but finds herself caught between her controlling husband and the intense Dolan​. Then her son disappears, and Heike’s husband was the last to see him alive​…​

Look back, look back, there’s blood on the track: how a childhood of reading Grimm’s fairy tales found its way into I Remember You

A Guest post by Elisabeth de Mariaffi

Writers have different ways of coming to a story: some authors I know love a good outline; others have a character, fully developed, in mind, and only need place her in the right set of circumstances. For me, everything always begins with an image.

So it was with I Remember You. The image that came to me first was of a young mother and her little boy, lounging on a wooden raft in the middle of a pond, when a strange girl surfaces from the water—seemingly, out of nowhere. While her son is enchanted by the girl and immediately begins to play with her, the mother is anxious: Where did this girl come from? Where are her parents? The woods around them are still. A moment later, the little girl skips across the surface of the pond and dives below. In a panic, the mother clutches her son. The girl never resurfaces.

This was the scene I held in my mind as I wrote the novel. I wanted that strangeness, that dark feeling, to pervade the book. But I’d also been thinking a little more about theme and where the story might be taking place.

These days, it seems to me, we write (and read!) so many dystopias. I began to wonder why we don’t write utopias anymore. Growing up in Canada in the 1980s, the utopia that was presented to us, again and again through popular culture, was the Happy Days of 1950s America. This had as much to do with the fact that the Baby Boomer generation had come of age and was producing our pop culture for us, with a nostalgic nod to their own childhoods.

Of course, we know the 50s were anything but a utopia, and America, before the civil rights and second wave feminist movements, was a deeply unequal society. Still – the idea stuck with me. I found the friction compelling.

The two sides of this story—the more gestural, imaged feeling part, and the thematic thinking part–  came together, for me, in remembering my own childhood: more specifically, they came together for me in fairy tales.

A child of immigrant eastern Europeans, I grew up listening to traditional fairy tales. The real stuff: the grim Grimm, if you will. Sometimes allegorical, these stories revealed the worst traits of human behaviour – greed, sloth, jealousy, violence – and also, our worst fears. The scene in the pond, without my having to construct it consciously that way, already recalled elements of some of my favourite tales. How many stories involve a mysterious creature in the water? The Frog Prince, to be sure, but also The Nixie in the Pond, and Perrault’s Diamonds and Toads, among others.

But in America in the 50s, these fairy tales would undergo a sweetening: think of Disney’s Cinderella, in which the mice and birds help Cinderella dress for the ball, and her stepsisters, while ugly, are little more than annoying. How different from the stepsisters in my own anthology of tales, who cut off pieces of their own feet with a sharp knife in order to fit the mysterious slipper. Here, too, a bird is helpful, but it’s a crow, and rather than tying pretty bows it issues a cawed warning to the fooled Prince: “Look back, look back!” it says. “There’s blood on the track.”

That same contrast was what I aimed for in I Remember You. While the protagonist – the young, pretty Heike Lerner – dresses up for tony cocktail parties, clinking champagne glasses with the smart set, she’s also aware that something dark and ominous is at play in that world. Everything is not as it seems.The mysterious little girl in the pond, and her eerie disappearance, make the threat impossible to ignore. Blood on the track, indeed.

(My goodness Elisabeth. If ever there was a compelling introduction to a book this is it! I can’t wait to read I Remember You.)

About Elisabeth de Mariaffi

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Elisabeth de Mariaffi is the critically acclaimed author of the Giller nominated How to Get Along with Women and The Devil You Know. The Devil You Know is currently in development for television with New Metric Media. It was shortlisted for the prestigious Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and longlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award.

Born and raised in Toronto, she now makes her home in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

You can find out about Elisabeth on Twitter @ElisabethdeM, Facebook and via her website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

I Remember You blog tour (COMPLETE)

Introducing Abel: A Guest Post by Ross Greenwood, Author of Abel’s Revenge

Abel's Revenge - Ross Greenwood - Book Cover

I’ve said before that I see quite a bit of lovely Ross Greenwood, both in person and virtually, and Ross is becoming a regular part of Linda’s Book Bag. You can read my Lazy Blood interview with Ross here, a guest post and my review of The Boy Inside here and my review of Fifty Years of Fear here.

Today, thanks to fellow blogger and tour organiser Caroline Vincent, I’m delighted that Ross is explaining how his latest protagonist in Abel’s Revenge has emerged in a super guest post that you can read below.

Abel’s Revenge is available for purchase here.

Abel’s Revenge

Abel's Revenge - Ross Greenwood - Book Cover

This is a story about a city. As with all others, it’s a place of violence. There are murderers, and they live among us.

This is also a tale about a couple — sometimes friends, occasionally lovers, but always partners. Dan and Olivia are fighting modern battles; the ones parents have over a lack of money, time or peace.

An escalating serial killer terrifies the streets and homes. The body count rises as their relationship crumbles. Society reveals its dark side, and no one is safe. Dan and Olivia experience this first-hand as danger closes in.

Will Abel’s reign of terror ever end?

Who will live and who will die?

Introducing Abel

A Guest Post by Ross Greenwood

Abel was started a long while ago. I’d written some serious books and wanted to write one with more humour. The idea was to write a book about modern relationships. My partner and I had children and found a new set of pressures came with them. Time became a valuable commodity. We found that men and women view the world differently, and they also parent in dissimilar ways.

At times, these differences were comical, at others, infuriating. Possibly funny later, when your blood was back to body temperature. Certainly amusing for those looking in. The balance and the partnership are the keys to success. Mistakes are inevitable and having the same goals is crucial. If you forget what’s important, the things that matter slip away.

So, over the years, I wrote down the little ‘discussions’ that happened, some hilarious phrases that the kids said, and lots of the arguments. Modern life in a busy city can be a battle. Dan and Olivia struggle, like many of us.

When I typed chapter 1, the serial killer element almost came in of its own accord. I suppose I wanted to make the book exciting. To begin with, Abel’s deeds weren’t particularly dark. A lot of friends, colleagues and authors have beta read this book, and as they fed back, the common message was more Abel. There was a universal urge to be gripped and shocked.

I based the character Abel on many of the murderers and rapists I met when I worked as a prison officer. They would commit evil crimes and, over the years, persuade themselves that they were the hard-done party, and they’d only done what was necessary. Either that, or they would learn to forget and simply not think about what terrible crimes they had committed. Even to the point of denying it altogether when there must have been a remnant of themselves that knew the truth.

In conclusion, I often hear people say they want to read a novel that is different. Well, this will be. As well as entertain you, I wanted the reader to recognise parts of their own lives in the couple’s interactions. And I hoped to make you laugh. There are sombre, terrible, evil acts in this book, but there are also thoughtful sections, and, I hope, some funny moments. Perhaps this isn’t a book to be taken too seriously, it’s just one to be enjoyed.

Thank you.

(Oh, thank you Ross. I loved this insight into how Abel came into being.)

About Ross Greenwood

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Ross Greenwood was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until he was 20, attending The King’s School in the city. He then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.

Ross found himself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually, so he says “when things had gone wrong.” It was on one of these occasions that he met his partner about 100 metres from his back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. And, according to Ross, he is “still a little stunned by the pace of it now.”

Lazy Blood book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then four years as a prison officer got in the way. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave the author the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep he completed it in the early morning hours.

Ross Greenwood’s second book, The Boy Inside, was picked up by Bloodhound Books, and now, Fifty Years of Fear, is out. All his books are thought provoking, and told with a sense of humour.

Ross Greenwood hopes you enjoy reading them.

You can find Ross on Facebook page and visit his web site. You can also follow Ross on Twitter @greenwoodross.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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Staying in with A.K. Mills

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I often wish I had more hours in the day to read, review and support more authors. Today’s Staying in with A.K Mills on Linda’s Book Bag has brought that desire home even more acutely. If you read on I think you’ll see why.

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 A.K. Mills

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

Thank you for having me!

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

I’ve brought along The Snow White Effect.

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(I understand The Snow White Effect is published today A.K so very many congratulations and happy publication day.)

I’ve chosen it because it’s my most recent work and the most important to me. It was inspired by my sister’s battle with leiomyosarcoma, a rare and fatal form of uterine cancer. In October 2013, she underwent a hysterectomy for a presumed benign condition. Her cancer was upstaged and her prognosis made worse during the procedure because the tool used introduced the cancer into her bloodstream. After her diagnosis, I wanted to do something to help share her story and spread awareness. Unfortunately my sister passed away in May of last year. However, my family continues her fight. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of The Snow White Effect will be donated to The Slay Sarcoma Research Initiative in my sister’s name.

(Oh my goodness. What a story. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. You have my utmost respect for doing something positive through your writing in memory of your sister.)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Snow White Effect?

You can expect to laugh, love and cry. The Snow White Effect is a love story wrapped in a medical drama. My goal when I started the book was to fictionalize the story so that many people can relate and understand. When my sister was diagnosed, I thought to myself, “If it could happen to her as doctor, what did that mean for someone like me who is not medical at all?” Told through four main characters, the story shines a light on the controversial medical procedure known as power morcellation and explores the different ways cancer can affect us all.

(Such an important subject for fiction A.K. as I think everyone has been affected by cancer in their life at some point, either directly or for someone they love. I think it is so important to allow readers to explore challenging themes through narrative.)

What else have you brought along and why?

I’ve brought a link and green tea. The link is a video we put together when my sister decided to shave her head before losing her hair to chemotherapy. Along with some of her friends, my other sisters and I shaved our heads with her. This video encapsulates the effect of power morcellation and why it is important to spread awareness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQA4bpdzWxo&feature=youtu.be

(I’ve stayed in with several authors A.K. but you are the first one to reduce me to tears.)

I also brought a box of my favorite green tea. I drink a lot of tea, especially when I write. It’s my comfort beverage of choice. It’s also supposed to be very good for you and is said to possess cancer-fighting agents.

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Thank you so much, A.K. for staying in with me to introduce The Snow White Effect. I had no idea that you were going to bring along such an important book. I wish you EVERY success with it and with your Slay Sarcoma initiative.

Thank you so much for having me and The Snow White Effect on Linda’s Book Bag. I appreciate you taking the time and opening your blog to me.

(My pleasure A.K.)

The Snow White Effect

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Dale knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Cindy from the first moment he saw her. Forty years later, nothing has changed. She is his best friend, his soul. When she dies shortly after having an elective procedure at Kendal Slate Memorial Hospital, he is left heartbroken with a million unanswered questions. Dale may not have a fancy medical degree, but he is convinced medical malpractice killed his wife.

At thirty-eight years old with four children and a promising medical career, Emma Speck is living her dream. Being a doctor married to a surgeon, she finds comfort and normalcy in their hectic lifestyle. When her beloved life of chaos is brought to a screeching halt after she receives a phone call no one ever wants to get, Emma is forced to question everything she once believed in.

Richard Oakley, surgical department chair at Kendal Slate Memorial Hospital, makes no apologies for his successes or failures. When his department comes under fire for harming patients, his attitude is no different; medicine isn’t perfect. Despite his attempts to ignore the meritless accusations, they’re not going away. In fact, the accusations are mounting, bringing with them elements of his past he had hoped to keep suppressed.

Having children was always a part of Addison’s plan. However, after suffering a miscarriage that nearly killed her, Addison decides it’s time to stop trying to get pregnant. Instead, she opts for a surgical procedure that will end her hopes of conception. The surgery, unlike her fertility, is straight forward and safe. The hospital, Kendal Slate Memorial, is reputable. Why wouldn’t she trust her doctor?

Four individuals. One hospital ignoring the truth. In this case, what you don’t know can kill you.

The Snow White Effect is available for purchase here.

About A.K. Mills

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A native of Pennsylvania, A.K. Mills gave up a job in Information Systems to pursue her dream of becoming an author. She is the author of The Parts I Remember and its sequel, The Parts That Followed. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and new puppy, Jersey.

You can find out more about A.K. Mills by visiting her website. ou can also find her on Facebook.

Discussing Can’t Get You Out of My Head with Sue Shepherd on Publication Day

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It’s absolutely ages since lovely Sue Shepherd featured on Linda’s Book Bag in a post you can read here, when Love Them and Leave Them was published so I’m delighted she has agreed to stay in with me today as she celebrates the publication of her latest novel, Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.

Can’t Get You Out Of My Head is available for purchase here.

Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

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A moving and funny story about sisters, secrets and second chances.

Twin sisters Beth and Lisa do everything together, so what will happen now they both want a life of their own?

Beth has a secret she’s kept from everyone except her sister. But it’s time to get on with her life. Could a seductive Italian, a smooth-talking charmer or backpacking around Australia be the answer?

Lisa feels she’s always lived in her sister’s shadow. Maybe now it’s her turn for some fun, whatever the consequences. But will her drunken antics land Beth in trouble?

And when it comes to the crunch, will one sister have to give up what she wants so the other can have what she needs?

Staying in with Sue Shepherd

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Sue. Thanks so much for agreeing to stay in with me. 

I think I have a good idea of the answer to this question, but which of your books have you brought along to share with me and why have you chosen it?

Hi, Linda. Thank you so much for inviting me to stay in with you. I love what you’ve done with the place – so cosy!

(Thanks! I think it’s the soft lighting that helps – you can’t see the dust!)

This evening, I’ve brought along my latest novel, Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Actually, your timing couldn’t be better, because it was just published today! I’m feeling excited, nervous and emotional – pretty standard for an author on publication day.

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(Woohoo! Happy Publication Day Sue. Congratulations.)

Given that it’s brand new today, what can we expect from an evening in with Can’t Get You Out of My Head?

It’s a comedy, which has, at its heart, a touching romance. As with my previous novels, things are not quite as they first appear. In the past, I’ve written about Guardian Angels and Parallel Lives. I enjoy looking at life a little differently, and I’ve never shied away from including bold subjects.

(Sounds really good.)

I’d love to share the prologue with you:

Right back at the beginning. When they were smaller than kidney beans, floating gently in a sea of amniotic fluid. When there was no control to be had over the tiny limbs they’d so recently sprouted. That was when they met. Lisa bobbed past, and, even though they couldn’t see, they couldn’t smile, and they most definitely couldn’t wave, they acknowledged each other.

Long before Beth met her mum, her dad, or her special nanna, first and foremost – she met Lisa.

(That has me intrigued straight away, Sue.)

As you can see, the book focuses on the relationship between twin sisters, Beth and Lisa. Including; how they live together, and exploring how they would cope if they were apart. Throughout the story, Beth spends much of her time riddled with guilt over a decision made long ago, and Lisa is fuelled by her jealousy of the easy life she sees her sister living. I hope the readers will enjoy their interaction. Anyone who’s grown up with a close sibling will know that it’s entirely possible to feel both love and loathing for the same person, usually within the space of about five minutes.

(I think there are many family relationships that do that Sue!)

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

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I’ve brought us a little something to drink, and some nibbles. These days I prefer a nice glass of rosé or a cold Prosecco, but to be in keeping with the book, I’ve brought some little beers.

(I’d have preferred the Prosecco but as it’s your publication day I’ll let you off.)

Let me explain – part of the book is set in Australia. The twins go on a trip, staying in hostels and hanging out on the beach. I myself spent a year living and working in Australia when I was younger. Although my trip took place a good decade before Beth and Lisa’s, my own over-seas adventure was the inspiration for that part of the story. When I arrived, I remember distinctly saying that I didn’t like beer. However, when you’ve spent the day on the beach, in the kind of temperatures Australia regularly experiences, and the beer is presented cold and in a handy little bottle, these stubbies start to go down rather well. In the book, Beth finds an ingenious use for the ice-cold beers.

(I’m even more intrigued now…)

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Help yourself to the nibbles, Linda. I’ve chosen Wasabi peas, for no other reason than because I am rather partial to them. I hope you are too? Unfortunately, I do have a tendency to eat so many that my nose starts to sting. Stop me if I’m taking more than my fair share, or if you see my eyes begin to water.

(That’s fine Sue. Eat as many Wasabi peas as you like. I really don’t like them. I always pick them out of any nibbles I have. Your eyes are looking a bit watery though… Maybe you need another beer.)

I’ve also brought along a memento of my trip to Australia. I made some amazing friends on my travels and I loved how people, who were strangers one day, could be accompanying me on life changing experiences the next. I’ve kept this leaflet from a trip where we sailed around the Whitsunday Islands. I was with a group of people I met whilst travelling up the East Coast. I loved the part where we lounged about on the boat, soaking up the sun and drinking stubbies. However, the trip included a little taster of scuba diving. It should’ve been an incredible experience, standing on the seabed, watching all the exquisite fish weave through the crystal-clear water. Yet, as I swam to the bottom and began breathing artificial air, I discovered that I have an acute fear of being deep under water. No matter how much I told myself that I could breathe and that I was most definitely not about to drown, sadly, I spent the entire time panicking. The beauty and proximity of The Great Barrier Reef, the serenity of the silent sea – all was lost on me! There’s a scene in Can’t Get You Out of my Head where my characters also try scuba diving for the first time. You can see if they fare any better than I did!

(What a shame Sue. I’m very claustrophobic myself and can only snorkel so you have my sympathy.)

Thanks so much for staying in with me, Sue, to tell me about Can’t Get You Out of my Head. Congratulations once again on today’s publication. 

Thanks for having me over this evening. I’ve enjoyed spending time with you and talking about my latest novel. Can you pass me another handful of those Wasabi peas … and some tissues for my mascara, please?

(I can indeed – eat them up!)

About Sue Shepherd

Sue Shepherd author photo

Born in Harrow, Sue went on to spend several years living in Hertfordshire before selling up and taking a leap of faith across The Solent. She now resides on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a standard poodle.

Her passions in life are: her family, writing, the seaside and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years.

Happiest when hunched over her laptop with a cup of tea on the go, Sue loves to create stories with plenty of heart and laughs, but she makes sure to include a bit of naughtiness too. Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies and she’d prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!

You can follow Sue on Twitter and visit her website. You’ll find Sue on Facebook and there’s more with these other bloggers too:

Sue Shepherd Blog Tour

The Start of Something Wonderful by Jane Lambert

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A couple of years ago, lovely Jane Lambert was kind enough to give me a copy of her novel for review and whilst I was delighted to receive it, I’m afraid with over 900 other arriving unsolicited, it rather got lost in my TBR pile. Now, however, in its new guise as The Start of Something Wonderful I have finally read Jane’s book and am delighted to review it here today as it was so worth the wait.

I also have an interview with Jane that you can read here, as well as a lovely guest post here about Jane’s route to publication.

Published by HQ Digital on 5th January 2018, The Start of Something Wonderful is available for purchase here.

The Start of Something Wonderful

Something wonderful

Previously published as Learning to Fly

It’s never too late to follow your dreams…

Forty-year-old air stewardess, Emily Forsyth, thought she had everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot boyfriend. Until he breaks up with her…

Catapulted into a mid-life crisis she wishes she’d had earlier, she decides to turn her life upside-down, quitting her job and instead beginning to chase her long-held dreams of becoming an actress!

Leaving the skies behind her, Emily heads for the bright lights of London’s West End – but is it too late to reach for the stars?

My review of The Start of Something Wonderful

Nursing a broken heart and a desire to become an actress Emily throws in her airhostess career for a life of drama – in more ways than one.

The Start of Something Wonderful has been on my TBR for such a long time that I was almost afraid to read it. What if I didn’t like it? I needn’t have worried as I really, really enjoyed this book.

The Start of Something Wonderful is a delightfully effortless read because Jane Lambert’s style is so fluid and natural that it makes reading a pleasure. I loved the realism conveyed through the sprinkling of foreign words and phrases as well as the references to the arts and literature and the quotations from Shakespeare that weave seamlessly into the narrative yet serve to add depth and flavour. And speaking of flavour, Jane Lambert manages to appeal to all the senses so that The Start of Something Wonderful is vivid and stimulating.

I loved meeting Emily. She is the perfect embodiment of a real woman of a certain age. Her anxieties, her doubts, her challenges and triumphs are told with emotion and brilliant humour and they are exactly the elements that all women can relate to. I frequently laughed aloud, smiled and nodded as I read because I understood completely how she was feeling as Jane Lambert places the reader very firmly inside Emily’s head.  I confess I shed a little tear too at the end.

I adored the storyline. I learnt  a great deal about the life of a jobbing actress. I’m sure much of the novel is autobiographical, as, alongside the humour and despair there’s a realism and considerable depth that I thoroughly appreciated. Whilst The Start of Something Wonderful is a rom-com or chick-lit if that’s how you want to define it, it is also a book about being true to yourself, about not relying simply on a man and about making the most of every moment we have.

The Start of Something Wonderful is a glorious, escapist read with romance, drama (in more ways than one), humour and a cracking story that I loved.

About Jane Lambert

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Jane studied French and German, taught English in Vienna then travelled the world as air crew before making the life-changing decision to become an actress.

She has appeared in “Calendar Girls”, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” and “Deathtrap” in London’s West End .

You can find Jane Lambert on Facebook and Twitter @JaneLambert22.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The Start of Something Wonderful blog tour

Staying in with Steph F. Tumba

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I’m ‘meeting’ all kinds of authors I wouldn’t have known about had I not been running this Staying in with… feature on the blog and today I’ve another new to me author, Steph F. Tumba to chat to.

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 Steph Tumba

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Steph. Thanks so much for staying in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Bonjour Linda. Thank you ever so much for having me here and picking my book. It’s a great pleasure to be here and I am eternally grateful for your interest.

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I have brought with me my first novel 100 Dates And A Wedding 😉 It’s been published by Sté Tumba Capital in association with Amazon Publishing Group and available since February 12th all over the world on Amazon, a few stores in America, and in the UK on our website.

(Sounds an exciting time for you Steph.)

What can we expect from an evening in with 100 Dates & a Wedding?

Quite a lot in fact. 100 Dates And A Wedding relates the tribulations of a young French divorcee in London. It draws on aspects of my past: my divorce, my social life in London, my career as an entrepreneur, and my struggle to understand this modern world of dating especially after a long relationship.

(Aha! Hence your French response earlier. In that case, bienvenue – or something like that if my ancient French can be dredged up enough!)

I share some of my funniest, saddest (sometimes), and incredible dating experiences in London. So be ready to laugh out loud, cry out loud, sympathise, relate, be angry, annoyed, disturbed, hopeless, in admiration and full of hope. It’s a passionate and spicy novel based main on real events.

(Sounds highly entertaining.)

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I’ve brought along some pictures by Marco Joe Fazio, a close friend and a fantastic photographer. He captured London and Me/Valerie’s very well in these 5 pictures: her discovery, her awkwardness, her doubts, and her confidence. But…  I have also brought some chocolates as a thank you for inviting me over.

(I love a guest who brings chocolates Steph. Great photos by the way.)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about 100 Dates and a Wedding, Steph. Good luck with the book (and the romances).

100 Dates And A Wedding

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100 Dates And A Wedding relates the tribulation of Valérie a French 30-year-old divorcee from Paris living in London.

Between the English’s rules of dating, the expected texts, the expected loves, the misinterpreted messages, the words over-interpreted, and the language barrier Valérie experienced the misunderstanding love in all its splendour and the cultural clash at its worst. She narrates the worst of her dating experiences London offered and the lessons she learnt from them. Her disillusionments, her joys, and her own ambiguities are shared without concession questioning how to deal with a break up after a long relationship?

How to believe in love again after being defeated?

Even more, how many rendezvous did it take to find the one? 100?

The road to love is not easy, but when you find it, you realise that somehow, you enjoyed the ride, but more so adore reaching the destination. We must all go through this, C’est la vie!

Valérie’s discovers that you need to kiss a few frogs before getting that happy-ending story full of sparkling stars.

100 Dates And A Wedding is available for purchase here.

About Steph F. Tumba

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Manufactured in France and improved in England, Stephanie Tumba, born in Paris, moved in London 7 years ago.

After a Baccalaureate in French Literature, Stéphanie initially studied English Literature and Civilisations at Paris University, but after two years switched to Business Management degree.

After her studies, Stéphanie worked for companies such as L’Oréal and LVMH before turning to an entrepreneurial career.  Since she’s been a kid, she always had an overflowing Imagination with a slight tendency to hyperactivity. Business lady by day and writer by night, she has always read and written songs, poems, or stories sometimes short, sometimes long, sometimes comical, occasionally sarcastic and sometimes dark and suicidal, depending on her mood, the music she has in her mind, the people she met and the amount of alcohol drunk on the day.

Now Stephanie, who loves challenges, is currently working on her second novel and working on a variety of creative projects.

There’s more on Steph’s website, and about the book on Twitter.

@TeamBATC Spring Blogger Evening 2018

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On Thursday last week I had a fantastic time at  event run by Books and the City @TeamBATC for Simon and Schuster. There were so many lovely blogger friends whom it was wonderful to catch up with and to see many of the lovely publishing team behind the books. Even better though was meeting all ten – yes ten – of the fabulous authors, some who I now know well and some whom I hadn’t met before.

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With Sara-Jade (our very own book minx @BookMinxSJV ) starting off proceedings, Jo Dickinson took over to grill our wonderful authors.

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Each author responded to Jo’s often tricky questions with some surprising information. Who knew Holly Hepburn finds icing biscuits so difficult or that Penny Parkes tends to forget the characters in her books are not actually real people. I think the best advice of the evening came from Heidi Swain who said, ‘If you want to be a writer, write!’

The Authors and Their Books

(In the order of the evening!)

Random Acts Of Kindness Part 3: Crossroads by Victoria Walters

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Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart. 
Abbie and her boyfriend Jack are about to start their own PR company in London, but there are so many unanswered questions about their past and Abbie begins to question her decision to leave Littlewood… Will Thomas manage to hold onto Huntley Manor without her, or has her departure ruined his chances…?

After a shaky start, Eszter is determined to show her daughter Zoe that it doesn’t matter where you are from, that we are all the same. With a little help from Brew cafe, they decide to run a cake baking class for the local children to help her make some friends. But as the summer goes on, their return to Hungary looms over them… Will they go back and leave Zoe’s granny, Anne, all on her own? Or is life in Littlewood the perfect fit for their newly formed family…?

Having pushed Alex away, Louise finds herself battling with jealousy when she sees him with her colleague. But when tragedy strikes, Louise is confronted with how precious and short life can be… Is she ready to tell Alex how she really feels or will she lose him for good?

Random Acts Of Kindness Part 3: Crossroads by Victoria Walters is available here.

Our House by Louise Candlish

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FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.

Our House by Louise Candlish is available here.

The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

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The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don’t make any afternoon plans.

Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it’s said in the wrong way.

Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.

Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?

The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton is available here.

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac

You Me Everything

You and me, we have history.
We have a child together.
We have kept secrets from each other for far too long.
This summer, in the beautiful hills of the Dordogne, it is time for everything to change.

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac is available here.

And if you want to know why so far You Me Everything is my book of the year, click here!

Starry Skies at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn

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Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Cat is burned out from working long hours as a chef. They decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.

They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in the cocktail bar that overlooks the court.

Starry Skies at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn is available here.

Five Years from Now by Paige Toon

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What happens if you meet the RIGHT person at the WRONG time?

Nell and Van meet as children when their parents fall in love, but soon they are forced worlds apart.

Five years later, they find each other.  Their bond is rekindled and new feelings take hold, but once again they have to separate.

For the next two decades, fate brings Nell and Van together every five years, as life and circumstance continue to divide them. Will they ever find true happiness? And will it be together?

‘One day, maybe five years from now, you’ll look back and understand why this happened…’

Five Years from Now by Paige Toon is available here.

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Kate is on the run from her almost-divorced husband who is determined to have her back, and she has found the perfect place to hide… a little cottage on Nightingale Square in Norwich, far away from her old life in London. But the residents of Nightingale Square don’t take no for an answer, and Kate soon finds herself pulled into a friendship with Lisa, her bossy but lovely new neighbour.

Within a matter of days Kate is landed with the job of campaigning the council to turn the green into a community garden, meanwhile all the residents of Nightingale Square are horrified to discover that the Victorian mansion house on the other side of the square has been bought by developers. But when all hope is lost, the arrival of a handsome stranger is sure to turn things around!

Best Practice by Penny Parkes

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Love and laughter with the residents of Larkford is exactly what the doctor ordered!

Dr Alice Walker has become accomplished at presenting a façade to the world – to anyone watching, she is the epitome of style, composure and professionalism. But perhaps it was to be expected that the cracks might begin to show at some point. Thankfully Grace is on hand to offer both friendship and support when it’s needed most.

Meanwhile, Dr Holly Graham has her hands full both professionally and personally. Planning a wedding with Taffy Jones is challenging enough, even before some surprising news changes everything. At least beloved Larkford resident, Elsie, still has a few tricks left up her sleeve!

Best Practice by Penny Parkes is available here.

The Temptations of Gracie by Santa Montefiore

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Never give up on your dreams, no matter how long you hold on to them . . .

When Gracie Burton stumbles upon an advertisement for a weeklong cookery course in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, she cannot resist, and ploughs her life savings into the trip.

Her only family – daughter Carina and granddaughter Anastasia – are hesitant about what has prompted this seemingly random venture.
But they have no sense of Gracie’s past; of what could possibly be calling her to Italy. They have no idea that Gracie is harbouring the secret of an extraordinary life that preceded them . . .

The Temptations of Gracie by Santa Montefiore is available here.

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

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Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music.

Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop.

It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable, and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about …

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris is available here.

After a break for cakes, nibbles and plenty of Prosecco, we were all delighted to chat with each author and get our exclusive spring blogger booklet signed.

 

At the end of the evening we all took home a fantastic goody bag (@TeamBATC always do the best ones!). The @TeamBATC #SpringBloggerEvening2018 was an absolute joy and I loved every moment of it. Thanks to all who made it such a brilliant evening.

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And here’s another exciting thing. SJV is giving away some goody bags just like the ones we were given.

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If you want to win one of the fabulous goody bags we lucky bloggers received, head over to Twitter here before 13th April where SJV is giving away 7 of them.

Can’t wait until next year’s event. Until then, I’m off to read the books!