Staying in with B.A. Smith

spooning

It gives me very great pleasure to introduce another new to me author, B.A. Smith, here on Linda’s Book Bag as Brianne stays in with me to tell me about one of her books.

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 B. A. Smith

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

Hello Linda! I am so happy to be here with you today! I’m starting to feel like an actual celebrity!

(It’s all the paparazzi on the drive I think!)

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

spooning

I’ve brought along Spooning Leads to Forking: A Gay Teen Romance Novel since it’s the first book I’ve ever published and very near and dear to my heart. I’ve chosen this title because it took me almost 10 years to get up the nerve to publish it. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments to date! I wrote it during a time I was suffering from depression and writing was my only outlet and the only thing keeping me sane. It’s my hope this book will provide that same kind of escape for someone else.

(What a marvellous outcome from illness though – a novel – and I love the title!)

What can we expect from an evening in with Spooning Leads to Forking?

Spooning Leads to Forking is a coming-of-age story about two teenage boys, Dylan and Michael, who grow up in a small town and discover they’re gay. Many of the situations they find themselves in as they explore their relationship are riddled with awkwardness and the sort of banter you’d expect from teenagers with very few filters. They battle their own misconceptions about what it means to be gay while living in a community where gossip is the local currency and their families have their own set of problems. I wrote each character with unique traits and flaws that I believe will resonate with anyone who’s ever had an embarrassing moment (or several) with a crush.

(I think we’ve ALL had those moments Brianne. I know I have!)

What else have you brought along and why?

I’m a very visual and aural person, and I brought some music to share today! The first song is The Kiss by Karmina. It was my anthem for this story when I first wrote it back in 2009 and stopped me dead in my tracks at a Big Lots store in Tampa, FL. The music video features real-life couples that were considered taboo or faced some kind of hardship because of the person they were with. It’s a “love conquers all” message that I wanted to be a resounding theme in Spooning Leads to Forking regardless of race, gender, or orientation.

(Good for you, Brianne.)

The next song, funnily enough, is American Girl by Carrie Underwood. This song prompted an entire scene in the book written only a few weeks before I published the final manuscript. More specifically the lines:

Sixteen short years later,
She was falling for the senior football star.
Before you knew it he was dropping passes,
Skipping practice just to spend more time with her.

The coach said “Hey son, what’s your problem?
Tell me, have you lost your mind?”
Daddy said “You’ll lose your free ride to college.
Boy you better tell her goodbye”.

But now he’s wrapped around her finger,
She’s the center of his whole world.
And his heart belongs to that sweet little beautiful, wonderful, perfect all-American

Substitute the “she” for “he” and the song defines one of the main problems the boys face in their new relationship – they’re so completely wrapped up in each other that nothing else in the world matters!

(I think music can sometimes convey for us exactly what we want to say. How fascinating that it has had such an impact on your writing.)

Thank you so much, Brianne, for staying in with me to introduce Spooning Leads to Forking. I love the rationale behind the book and wish you every success.

Thank you so much for having me, Linda! It was wonderful getting to meet you and share a little bit of my heart with you and my readers through this book!

Spooning Leads to Forking

spooning

Dylan and Michael are two high school boys attempting to figure out their attraction to one another and happen to fall in love along the way. They explore their sexuality together through a series of games until they push their competition too far one day, and their game turns deadly.

Spooning Leads to Forking is a coming-of-age story about two teens coping with being gay while growing up in a small town like Gallant, MT.

Despite the challenges, they discover love through humor, family, mistakes and, ultimately, forgiveness.

Spooning Leads to Forking is available for purchase here.

About B.A. Smith

brianne

Brianne has been creating through a variety of artistic mediums which include drawing, graphic design, writing, dance, music, and performance art since a very young age. Her favorite genres include fantasy, adventure, drama, and unique romances – particularly LGBTQ.

She has been writing for about fifteen years and has posted her work in online writing communities such as fanfiction.net, fictionpress.com, and Archive of Our Own. She has a passion for unconventional romances not usually portrayed in mainstream media and tends to be ultra-realistic and detail-oriented in her writing. She has no reservations about jumping headfirst into awkward or uncomfortable subject matters.

Brianne is a native of Colorado and enjoys reading smut, playing video games, performing with her dance troupes, and lazing about with her two fur babies, Fraggle and Leroy Jenkins.

You can find Brianne on Facebook. She also has an excellent blog. I know Brianne is looking for reviewers too and you can contact her through her blog.

An Extract from The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

The Wildflowers

I have been absolutely desperate to read The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans because I so loved another of her books, The Butterfly Summer, my review of which you can read here. Sadly, emergency trips to hospital with my Mum and other family illnesses have stolen my reading time. However, I’m delighted to be part starting off these launch celebrations with an extract from The Wildflowers today.

I’d like to thank both Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of the tour and Becky Hunter for sending me a copy of The Wildflowers.

The Wildflowers will be published on 5th April 2018 by Headline Review and is available for pre-order here.

The Wildflowers

The Wildflowers

Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.

They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.

But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.

My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.

This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

An Extract from The Wildflowers

I

Dorset, August 2014

The abandoned house covered in bindweed and brambles didn’t look like anything much, when first glimpsed from the lane.

But after the two men had struggled through the tangled mass of wild flowers and creepers surrounding the house they came upon a porch. The steps up were blackened with rot; on the porch itself rested a long-abandoned cane chair, bleached silver-grey by the wind and the sea and chained to the decaying floorboards by the tendrils of a pink-and-sage Virginia creeper. Below came the shingling slap of gentle waves and when you turned towards the sound of the sea there was Worth Bay, curving away from you, cream-yellow sands, turquoise water, chalk-white rocks in the distance.

Dave Nichols, trainee agent at Mayhew & Fine, watched in irritation as Frank Mayhew paused on the sandy path, fiddling in his pocket for the key. It was a boiling hot day, the sun beating down remorselessly. A mother and a young girl in swimming costumes, carrying towels, passed by on their way to the beach, looking at them with curiosity. Dave felt stupid, standing there in his smartest suit in front of this rotten old building.

‘I don’t understand,’ he said sulkily, ‘why we have to value it when the old girl’s not going to sell.’

Frank tutted in disapproval. ‘Old girl! That’s Lady Wilde to you, Dave, and she’s not long for this world – have some respect. Listen. In a few months when she’s gone, the family’ll most likelwant to sell. They don’t care about the place, that’s obvious. That’s where we come in, see?’ He turned to take in the glorious view of the bay, then glanced at his slouched, sullen trainee, the son of an old golfing buddy, and sighed very gently. ‘If we play our cards right, we’ll be the agents to handle the sale. Houses on Worth Bay don’t come up often. There’s only ten or so of ’em. The Bosky – it’s prime beach-front property, this place.’

Dave shrugged. ‘It’s a wreck,’ he said, staring at the bindweed, the algae-coated windows. ‘Look at these floorboards! Rotten through, I shouldn’t wonder.’

‘Most buyers don’t care. They’ll just level it and start over again.’ Frank pulled the bindweed and dead roses away, then inserted the key, pushing against the peeling door with difficulty. ‘Makes me sad, seeing it like this, if I’m honest. How it must be for Lady Wilde, stuck in that old people’s home up the road, looking out over it all day, I’ve no idea. Bugger me, this is jammed fast. Come on, you—’ He threw his rotund form against the frame. Nothing happened. Frank stepped back and to the side, looking through one of the shuttered windows. ‘Hmm . . .’ he said, bouncing on his heels, and then suddenly he gave a loud, outraged yelp.

Dave, who’d been staring at the view, turned in alarm: Frank had sunk a foot or so into the ground, the wooden boards simply melting away, as though they were made of butter.

Trying not to laugh, he lent Frank his arm as the older man pulled himself out of the hole, with some difficulty.

‘I’ll explain that to Lady Wilde myself.’ Frank smoothed down his ruffled hair. ‘Now, you give me a hand. It’ll come open with a bit of extra oomph. That’s it—’ Together they fell against the door: it gave way with an aching crack, and the two men tumbled inside.

As the warm, musty smell of the dark house tickled their noses Frank turned on his torch, shining it around the hall. He pulled the yellowing tendril of some dead plant from the ceiling.

‘Well,’ he said quietly. ‘Here we are.’

Dave sniffed the musty air. ‘Perfume. I can smell perfume.’

‘Don’t be daft,’ Frank said, but he shivered. This was air that no one else had breathed for years; it felt heavy with something.

There was a cloakroom to his immediate left, and stairs in front of him, down to the bedrooms below. Off to the right was the kitchen, and to the left was the sitting room which had French windows leading back on to the porch.

‘Let’s open these,’ said Frank, going into the kitchen, flicking back the faded sand-coloured curtains, the original colour now long forgotten. In the corner of the room, a window seat padded with faded yellow-and-grey patterned fabric and dotted with a decade’s worth of dead flies and wasps faced the porch. The galley kitchen was at the back, the windows looking out over the lane.

There was nothing on the surfaces or shelves, no sign of occupation.

Frank flicked a switch a couple of times. ‘No, not a thing.’ He sniffed. ‘I can smell something too. Scent, or flowers, or something.’ He shook himself. ‘Right. Let’s open some windows. Get some fresh air and light in and we can go downstairs and measure up the bedrooms.’

But the window frames were too swollen with damp to open and after struggling for a minute they both gave up and went back into the hall.

Dave said, ‘The bedrooms are downstairs?’

‘It’s an upside-down house. All your living rooms are up here overlooking the sea. Bedrooms are for sleeping in, doesn’t matter what you’re looking at.’ Frank ran his hand along the bannister. ‘It’s a good idea. I used to dream of having a place like this when I was a lad.’

Dave stared at him, quizzically. ‘You knew them?’

‘Everyone knew them,’ Frank said. ‘They was quite something, the Wildes.’ He moved his torch up on to the wood-panelled wall and both men jumped, as a face leaped out at them. Frank recovered himself first. ‘It’s just a photo,’ he said, slightly shakily.

The picture on the wall gleamed in the darkness. A middle-aged woman with a floppy hat and large nose, smiling broadly, holding a dangling crab between her forefinger and thumb.

‘She looks like a witch,’ Dave said.

The torch juddered suddenly in Frank’s hand, lighting up a pair of faces.

‘Who are they? What – what on earth is all that?’ said Dave, eventually.

Frank moved the torch along, and slowly the walls were illu­minated with more faces, staring out from frames. Faces laughing, gurning, smiling politely, groups clinking glasses together, chil­dren dancing – more faces, some in colour, most in black-and-white. There were theatre posters too, and newspaper cuttings.

‘That’s them,’ said Frank, gesturing. ‘Weren’t they quite some­thing?’

Dave peered at the photo next to him. A beautiful Titian-haired woman sat with two girls on her knee, one blonde, the other dark. A group of adults reclined on the porch, glasses and cigarettes in hand. A grinning pair of young children danced on a beach: a boy and girl. More groups of smiling people. The man and woman were in the newspaper articles too, always elegantly dressed. In one they were holding hands and laughing, and she was turning slightly towards a knot of onlookers, waving with the other hand. Dave scanned the photos, sliding the torch along, plunging one, then another photo into white light and then darkness, searching for her. He stared at her, transfixed. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

‘“Anthony Wilde and his wife Althea arrive at the Royal Court for the First Night of Macbeth”,’ Dave read with difficulty, holding his phone up to the text. ‘“Curtain call went on for ten minutes as ecstatic crowd gave Mr Wilde a standing ovation.” OK then.’ He turned back as Frank reached into his briefcase. ‘Who the hell are they?’

‘I can’t believe you’ve never heard of Anthony Wilde,’ said Frank, pointing his laser measure at the walls. ‘Two point four metres. Greatest actor of his day. And that’s Althea Wilde, his wife. You must have heard of her. She was in Hartman Hall. Lady Isabella?’

Dave shook his head. ‘Nope.’

‘Lordy, Lordy. How can you not know Hartman Hall? Bigger than Downton, better ’n’ all.’ Frank sighed. ‘What about On the Edge? That sitcom about the older lady, talking into her mirror? That was her, too.’

‘Might ring a bell, maybe.’ Dave looked at her again, the long neck, the slightly too-large nose, the liquid green eyes flecked with hazel. She was staring at him, only him, in the gloom of the house. He turned his torch away from her. He didn’t like it, suddenly.

About Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans grew up in London. As a child she loved reading and making up stories. She then progressed on to teenage geekdom and agonised Sylvia Plath- style poetry it’s probably best not to dwell on. The career in musical theatre she’d always dreamed of never materialised for whatever reason, and so she ended up at Bristol University where she read Classical Studies. In her twenties she was lucky enough to get a job as a secretary at a publishers and instantly realised working with books was what she’d always wanted to do. She was a fiction editor for ten happy years but left in 2009 to write full- time, making up stories all day.

Harriet still lives in London with her family. She likes old films, property websites, sloe gin cocktails, feminism and Bombay Mix, not in that order.

You can find out more about Harriet Evans on her web site, follow her on Twitter @HarrietEvans and find her on Facebook.

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tour poster

What right does a man have to write about women’s issues? A Guest Post by Chris Nickson, Author of The Tin God

Tin God

My grateful thanks to fellow blogger and tour organiser Abby for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for The Tin God by Chris Nickson. Chris has written a fabulous guest post for Linda’s Book Bag today.

The Tin God is published by Severn House Publications and is available for purchase here.

The Tin God

Tin God

When Superintendent Tom Harper’s wife is threatened during an election campaign, the hunt for the attacker turns personal.

Leeds, England. October, 1897. Superintendent Harper is proud of his wife Annabelle. She’s one of seven women selected to stand for election as a Poor Law Guardian. But even as the campaign begins, Annabelle and the other female candidates start to receive anonymous letters from someone who believes a woman’s place lies firmly in the home.

The threats escalate into outright violence when an explosion rips through the church hall where Annabelle is due to hold a meeting – with fatal consequences. The only piece of evidence Harper has is a scrap of paper left at the scene containing a fragment from an old folk song. But what is its significance?

As polling day approaches and the attacks increase in menace and intensity, Harper knows he’s in a race against time to uncover the culprit before more deaths follow. With the lives of his wife and daughter at risk, the political becomes cruelly personal …

What right does a man have to write about women’s issues?

A Guest Post by Chris Nickson

Quite probably, none at all. I certainly wouldn’t attempt a contemporary novel going into that area.

But let me plead some mitigating circumstances.

Firstly, this is a novel, an historical crime novel, and many of the facts are true. After the law changed in 1894, all ratepayers, both men and women of every class, could vote on some local elections. They could stand to be elected as Poor Law Guardians and on the School Board (the first women on the Leeds School Board was Mrs. Catherine Buckton, actually in 1873). The first female Guardians were elected in Leeds in 1894. Many politicians, of all parties, didn’t approve of the idea, and quite a few newspapers were critical.

And secondly, the idea for the book was suggested by a woman, an historian who specialises in feminism in 19th century Leeds. She’s a fan of the series, and loves Annabelle.

While the idea of a working-class woman standing as a Guardian is at the heart of the book (and one of the first women elected to the post was a miner’s wife), there’s no debate about it. It’s an accepted fact. She’s standing, and that’s that. Annabelle has been a speaker for the Suffragists for several years. This is a natural development for her. Yes, there’s a man who’s violently opposed to women in politics, and Annabelle’s husband, Det. Supt. Tom Harper, has to catch him. But six other women are standing and threatened.

There are resonances of today in there. You only need to look at the terrible murder of the MP Jo Cox, or the way female politicians of all parties are abused on social media – women who stand up for themselves in any way, in fact.

The issue is there, but this is about the people. In the book, some men approve of women running for office; others don’t. It’s reflection of life at that time – and that time is just 120 years ago, not even two lifetimes, and 20 years before any women received the Parliamentary franchise.

The Sufragettes, the movement that began at the beginning of the 20th century, are very well known, and rightly so. But long before that, the Suffragists were working to gain the vote and quality for women for much of the 19th century, and plenty of that took place in Leeds. The first petition to Parliament on the issue, in 1832, came from Mary Smith, a Leeds woman.

Yet the Suffragists have largely been ignored. And that’s a terrible shame. All I’m trying to do, through Annabelle, is to show some of the work they’d done, and the advances they managed to make. There’s no discussion of the national issue; it’s irrelevant here.

This is essentially the story about a copper and his wife, like the rest of the series. In this book, what’s happening to each of them is interwoven. It’s very personal, about justice – in many ways – and her battle to be elected is very much at the centre. But it’s a story about people. About the working-class coming forward, and about Leeds, too, which is at the heart of most of my books.

The real Leeds Suffragists deserve to be celebrated, especially in 2018. And they’re going to be: the historian who gave me the spark for The Tin God is curating an exhibition which will run for the month of May at Leeds Libraries, called The Vote Before The Vote. The ‘official’ launch of my book will be part of that. But only because she said yes.

Whether that justifies my dealing with this topic, I don’t know. I hope so. Only you can be the judge, really…

About Chris Nickson

chris nickson

Chris Nickson, author of the Richard Nottingham series, was born and raised in Leeds, England. A well-known music journalist and author, he’s written many celebrity biographies as well as being a frequent contributor to numerous music magazines.

You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisNickson2 and visit his website. You’ll find him on Facebook and there’s more with these other bloggers:

Tin God poster

Staying in with David Olner

TBC cover

A little while ago I interviewed Nathan and Wayne from the newly formed Obliterati Press in a blogpost you can read here. What I didn’t realise at the time was that would be sending one of their authors, David Olner, to stay in with me to tell me about his book.

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 David Olner

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

No probs, ta for inviting me.

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

TBC cover

I’ve brought my debut novel The Baggage Carousel.  It’s a travel-sized epic that takes the reader around the world in 250 pages.  From Doncaster to Australia via South Africa and a few other stopovers, too.

(Sounds like my kind of read. I love to travel and have been to Doncaster, Australia and South Africa so I’m sure I’d love to revisit those places – some more than others!)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Baggage Carousel?

It’s a visceral yet humane travelogue about life’s great let-downs: family, work and love.

(I hope your let-downs are fictional ones Davis!)

What else have you brought along and why?

LINDABLOGJPEG

All the ingredients for my traditional night in: San Miguel beer and olives.  I like to drink the beer in its official San Miguel glass that I liberated from a life of servitude in Wetherspoons.  The amber liquid and the creamy head look particularly aesthetically pleasing when displayed within.  I could only fit eight cans in my knapsack, though, so I dunno what you’re drinking.

(It’s fine. There’s always some San Miguel in the fridge in the ‘gym’ so if you finish those cans I can grab some more. That liberating of the glass was very noble of you!)

As for the olives, I’ve always found myself strangely drawn towards dank fruit.  We can share those, though, they’ve got feta cheese mixed in with them and if I eat too much of that it makes my mouth feel a bit claggy.

(Happy to share olives and feta David. One of my favourite combinations of food as it always makes me think of holidays.)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about The Baggage Carousel David. It’s made me realise it’s time for another trip abroad! 

The Baggage Carousel

TBC cover

Dan Roberts has a troubled past, anger management issues and a backpack named after an abducted heiress. A chance encounter with Amber, a free-spirited Australian girl, seems to give his solitary, nomadic life a new sense of direction. But when she doesn’t respond to his emails, the only direction he’s heading is down…

The Baggage Carousel is a visceral yet humane travelogue of a novel about life’s great let-downs; family, work and love.

Dan Roberts is destined to go down as one of fiction’s great solitary men, equal parts Iain Banks’ Frank, Camus’ Meursault and Seuss’ The Grinch.

The Baggage Carousel was published by Obliterati on 23rd March 2018 and is available for purchase here.

About David Olner

DaveOlnerjPeg

Dave Olner likes to travel, relishing the opportunity to alienate people from different cultures. He currently lives in Humberside where he works as a reach truck driver by night and sleeps during the day. Like a vampire, except without the bloodletting, immortality or superhuman strength. The Baggage Carousel is his first novel.

You can follow David on Twitter @daveocelot.