Tag Archives: author interview

Author interview: Fiona Harper

7 May

I’m delighted to welcome Fiona Harper to One More Page today to talk about the inspiration for her latest novel, The Other Us. Fiona’s first book was published in 2006 and The Other Us is her twenty-fifth novel. She started her career writing heartfelt but humorous romances for Mills & Boon, but now writes romantic comedies and feel-good women’s fiction for Harper Collins, as part of their HQ imprint.

She is a previous winner of the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award, has had five books shortlisted for an RNA Award and won the ‘Best Short Romance’ at the Festival of Romance three years’ running. Fiona lives in London with her husband and two teenage daughters. Welcome Fiona!

Fiona HarperWhat was your inspiration for writing The Other Us?

I first had the idea for this book more than a decade ago – a seedling of an idea about following one woman through different possible futures to see if the grass really was greener on the other side of the fence. It rumbled around in my head for all that time until finally I just had to write it! It was so long ago, I can’t remember exactly what sparked it, but maybe a moment of personal reflection when I was wondering what my life would be like if I’d made different choices.

This is your 25th book, does it become easier or harder to think of plots?

Funnily enough, I think it’s easier now than it used to be. I think I’ve trained myself not only to have my story radar switched on, searching for little interesting nuggets to store away for later use. (That makes me sound a bit like a story ‘squirrel’ and I suppose I am!) Also, I have learned to write these snippets of ideas down. I always think I’ll remember them, but I discovered that they can easily flit away and be forgotten – a bit like a dream that was clear just after waking but fades throughout the day.

How did the idea for this book develop?

Initially, I had decided to just watch Maggie, my main character, in three different lives with three different men and see how each turned out, but I felt that maybe three realities would get confusing, so I whittled it down to two. As I was developing it to show my editor, I decided it might be interesting to send forty-something Maggie back in time, and then I thought it would be a funny opening scene if, when that happened, she thought she’d died and gone to heaven. Somehow, from that I arrived at the idea of letting her be fully conscious of her hopping between the two lives, rather than just seeing how the two realities would have played out.

What have you learnt from writing 25 books?

I’ve learnt loads, but these are the top three important things:

  1. That I need to write even when I don’t feel like it, and that the first ten minutes of making myself sit in the chair and type will be like wading through porridge, but if I keep going suddenly the creative urge will kick in and the words will start to flow.
  2. That about 25% of the way through I will get stuck and that when I reach the halfway point I will think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written and that I should flush it down the toilet. However, I know now I hit these stumbling blocks in every single book and that I should ignore those thoughts and just keep writing.
  3. That each book is different and that I learn something new about writing with each one – wish I’d kept a note of exactly what, though, because sometimes that would come in really handy!

Thank you Fiona!

The Other Us is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

The Other UsIf you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?

Forty-something Maggie is struggling to come to terms with her only child flying the nest. Without her daughter in the house, she’s beginning to realise that her life, and her marriage to her husband Dan is more than a little stale.

When she sees a post on Facebook about a university reunion, her mind wanders back to Jude Hanson – a brief university fling. The same night that Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him. How different might her life have been if she had broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer?

One morning, the fantasy turns into a reality and Maggie wakes up in 1992, aged twenty-one and given the chance to make all those decisions again. 

Is Maggie brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?

Two men and two very different possible futures. But does Maggie only have one chance at happiness?

Find out more about Fiona and her writing at: http://www.fionaharper.com/home

Follow Fiona on Twitter @FiHarper_Author

Author interview: Judith Kinghorn

15 Feb

Today I’m delighted to welcome Judith Kinghorn back to One More Page to talk about her latest novel, The Echo of TwilightJudith is the author of three other novels; The Snow Globe, The Memory of Lost Senses, and The Last Summer. She was born in Northumberland, educated in the Lake District, and is a graduate in English and history of art. She lives in Hampshire, England. Welcome Judith!

judithYour new novel, The Echo of Twilight is out now – I love the title; how did you come up with it?

Thank you, I’m so pleased you love it! My working title for the novel was simply Pearl & Ottoline – and though I became very attached to it, my publishers didn’t like it as much as me and asked me to come up with another.

As you know, the novel opens with Pearl’s recollection of a fateful ‘golden evening in August’: a remembrance that echoes through the story as she tries to make sense of the events of that night. Drawing on that theme, and on images, I played around with words and came up with a few possible titles – including The Echo of Twilight, which everyone liked.

What inspired you to write this story?

I’d always wanted to set a novel in Northumberland, where I grew up, and early inspiration came from my grandmothers; one of whom had been employed as a lady’s maid in the 1920s; the other, whose love of the Scottish Highlands affected me as a child. Both of them are in the novel – here and there, infecting dialogue and character – along with a few others who, though long gone, I remember vividly from my childhood.

I was struck by the names of both people and places in The Echo of Twilight. How do you choose your character names (Ottoline, Pearl) and those of the great houses they inhabit (Birling, Delnasay)?

As you drive away from Warkworth, heading north towards Alnwick, you pass – for all of ten seconds – through Birling. A few minutes later, if you look west across the fields, you will see Shortridge Hall: this is the exact location of and my inspiration for ‘Birling Hall’ in The Echo of Twilight. As for Delnasay, it’s there too; nestling in a valley beneath Tomintoul. Even the whitewashed cottage – Ralph’s studio – exists. And I know this because I’ve stood where Pearl stands with Billy and watched the smoke rise up from its chimney.

As for my character’s names, I never think too hard on them and prefer to let them come instinctively. Having said that, many of them are borrowed or plucked from family and friends, or come from my research. I first came across the name Ottoline when I read about Ottoline Morrell; and Pearl was always and could never have been anything other than Pearl. However, her surname, Gibson, was my mother’s maiden name, the surname of my maternal grandmother; and Billy happens to be the name my paternal grandmother used for her son, my father William.

Location plays an important part in the story too and I enjoyed the descriptions of Northumberland and Scotland; how have your own experiences of these places fed into the novel?echo of twilight

In each of my novels I’ve written about places I know; and places I know well enough to be able to summon in my mind’s eye. I want my readers to be aware and confident of where they are, and for them to be so immersed in time and place that they see it all, too.

In setting The Echo of Twilight in Northumberland and Scotland – and even in London, in Fulham and Battersea – I was able to write about places I know. Imagining these places in a different era, a time not so long ago, meant I had to draw on a combination of imagination and research, and on old photographs and paintings.

J.M.W. Turner’s views of the Thames, his use of light and colour, remained at the forefront of my mind when I wrote about a golden evening in August. When I was writing about Northumberland – in the years during and after the First World War, I referred back to my father’s and grandmothers’ memories, and to old photographs. I was very much aware of the isolation of a far-flung county; of the uninterrupted peace and birdsong, and of empty, dusty roads. As the story moved on, ever further from the hustle and bustle of London and Turner’s Thames, and to Scotland, that sense of isolation and quietude became more pronounced.

A lot of this is drawn from my own experience. For so many years I’ve gone back to the Northumbrian coast, where the skies are unending and the wind roars in from a steel-grey sea and very little changes. Regardless of new arrivals, commuters or tourists, it seems to me now a strangely timeless place. Fortified by castles, huddled villages and dunes; by ancient churches and cemeteries and walls. Over time, I’ve both loved and hated the place –  but isn’t that always the case with ‘home’? We love and then sometimes hate it, depending on where we are in our trajectory.

For me, The Echo of Twilight allowed me to understand and love my home county once again.

Both Ottoline and Pearl are fascinating characters; did they behave as you expected them to when you sat down to write or did they take on a life of their own as you wrote and surprise you?!

My characters always and inevitably go off-piste and take on a life of their own. As their creator, I have a degree of control – at the start, anyway; but after that, they tend to lead me. And yes, Ottoline in particular surprised me – and right up until the end of the novel.

As a rule, I don’t plot too much in so far as character development is concerned. I place the obstacles and my characters find their own way round them. I want them to breathe, to have their own life and make their own decisions. I want their reactions and words to seem as real as yours and mine. And, even though I write historical fiction, even though the dialogue might contain a few old-fashioned or obsolete words, I want my characters to be as understandable as anyone today.

Finally … what can we expect next from Judith Kinghorn?

I’m not sure. The only thing I do know is that my next novel will be something quite different. In the meantime, I’m taking a break and about to head off to Australia with my daughter. So who knows… maybe I’ll write something contemporary – and set in the southern hemisphere.

Thanks Judith – enjoy your break and I’ll look forward to hearing about your next book.

The Echo of Twilight is out now in the UK in ebook format from Canello  and in the US in paperback and ebook formats from Berkley Books.

Find out more about Judith and her novels at: http://www.judithkinghornwriter.com/

Author interview: Victoria Blake

31 Jan

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Victoria Blake to One More Page on the final stop of her Titan’s Boatman blog tour. Victoria was brought up in The Queen’s College, Oxford and went to university in the same city, studying history at Lady Margaret Hall. She has worked in law, publishing and book selling and is also the author of the Sam Falconer crime series. Welcome Victoria!

victoria blakeYour historical fiction novel, Titan’s Boatman has just been released; please could you tell us a little about it and your inspiration for it?

The trigger for the book was my love of Titian’s painting The Man with the Blue Sleeve. When I’m between books I tend to get a bit restless and I went for a wander in The National Gallery and stood in front of him for a long time and realized I always ended up in front of him when I was in a certain restless frame of mind. He’s such a sexy, sardonic rogue. Then I noticed how young Titian was when he painted him – about twenty. That was the start of the book for me.

What drew you to Renaissance Venice and Titian and how did you go about the historical parts of the research?

It was the painting really that began it all. To be perfectly honest although I could have named Titian I knew next to nothing about him before beginning the book but our family had a strong emotional connection to Italy. My father, the historian Robert Blake had a great love of Italy. He had been a POW during the second world war in the south of Italy, had escaped and then been looked after by Italians before making his way through the mountains and back to the allied troops. I don’t think he ever forgot being looked after in that way. It was a very dangerous thing for Italians to do at the time. So when I was child we went to Italy for holidays and Venice was one of the first places I went abroad. It made an indelible impression on me. So there was this combination of factors that came together. For the research I read everything I could get my hands on. Particularly useful were the letters of Pietro Aretino. He was a poet, pornographer, blackmailer and great friends with Titian. He was absolutely clear that Titian was a genius and told everyone. His letters are hugely entertaining. He writes to friends thanking them for sending him salad. He writes to his gondolier advising him not to marry. He even writes letters on the dangers of eating mushrooms. He adored Venice and I loved his letters. I also read Sheila Hale’s fantastic biography of Titian. For research on courtesans I read Margaret Rosenthal’s book The Honest Courtesan about Veronica Franco and I also read Franco’s poetry.

During your research for the book what was the most surprising fact you uncovered?

I think that there was an actual term ‘muneghini’ that was used to describe those young male patricians who visited nuns for sex. The term means ‘frequenters of nuns.’ According to the Renaissance diaries of Marin Sanudo at any rate! That was extremely surprising. And also that there was an episode in 1514 when the nuns of the Convent of San Zacaria got together and stoned the authorities who wanted to interfere with the way their nunnery was run. I loved the idea of mutinous nuns!

Who was your favourite character to write?

I had a real fondness for Tullia, the courtesan. I loved her courage, her sense of humour and her essential good heartedness. I wanted her to not just survive but thrive as well. Apart from her the character I was most involved with was the boatman, Sebastiano. I heard his voice incredibly vividly in my head from the very beginning. I had a very strong visceral impression of him and he tops and tails the book.

If you could travel to any time or place in history where would you go and why?

Ask me that tomorrow and I’d come out with a different answer but today …  I’ve got a stone age axe head that my grandfather, who was a Norfolk farmer, picked up in his fields. I’d like to go back to the moment when the axe head had just been created and take a look at the man who had carved it and was holding it in his hands.

Do you have a favourite Titian painting and for those interested in learning more about him, which books would you titanrecommend?

Apart from The Man with the Blue Sleeve, I love the portrait he did of Aretino. It’s in Florence in the Galleria Palatina. Aretino wears this very splendid orange, velvet gown and has a magnificent beard. He looks like he’s going to jump out of the canvas at you and demand the most recent gossip. You get a real sense of his physical strength as well as his strength of character. For anyone wanting to read about Titian I recommend Sheila Hale’s biography and also Titian: The Last Days by Mark Hudson – that’s a fantastic, highly readable, fascinating book.

And finally … what can we expect next from Victoria Blake?

My next book is a novel about one of the first female war correspondents who goes and reports from the Spanish Civil War. I find female war correspondents fascinating and have watched with a huge amount of respect and admiration over the years fantastic women like Kate Adie, Lyse Doucet, Lindsay Hilsum and Orla Guerin. How do they go into those incredibly dangerous places, hold it all together, report back coherently and then come home without being destroyed by it all? I think they are remarkable people. It’s been interesting reading the obituaries of the war correspondent Clare Hollingworth who has just died at the age of 105. She reported the ‘scoop of the century’ –  that the Second World War had started.

Thank you Victoria.

Titan’s Boatman is out now in Hardback and ebook formats from Black and White Publishing.

Find out more about Victoria and her writing at: https://victoriablakewriter.wordpress.com/


Author interview: Vic James

21 Jan

Today I’m very excited to welcome author Vic James to One More Page to talk about Gilded Cage the first book in the Dark Gifts trilogy – a book which held me gripped from start to finish and presents a wonderfully dystopian alternative Britain.

Vic is a current affairs TV director who loves stories in all their forms, and Gilded Cage is her debut novel. She has twice judged the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize, has made films for BBC1, BBC2, and Channel 4 News, and is a huge Wattpadd.com success story. Under its previous title, Slavedays, her book was read online over a third of a million times in first draft. And it went on to win Wattpad’s ‘Talk of the Town’ award in 2015 – on a site showcasing 200 million stories. She lives and works in London. Welcome Vic!

VicJames2 C JAY DACYHi Vic. Gilded Cage is released in paperback on 26th January. Please could you tell us a little about it and the inspirations behind it.

Gilded Cage is set in an alternate contemporary Britain ruled by a magically gifted aristocracy, in which everyone else – the 99% of us – must perform a decade of service called the ‘slavedays’. The Hadley family think they’ve avoided being sent to a worktown, by applying to serve the aristocrats on a grand estate, but things don’t go according to plan. Eighteen-year-old Abi is caught up in the dark power-games of the aristocrats, while seventeen-year-old Luke is ripped from his family and treads a dangerous path in Manchester’s brutal worktown.

In the world of the books, the ‘slavedays’ system is 400 years old, but the genesis of the story was a current affairs series I made for BBC2 called The Superrich and Us about our world right now. I realised that the power and influence of the very wealthiest in our society – the 1% – was so great that it was almost ‘like magic’. Ta-da! While the experience of those doing their days, the 99% of ‘us’, is a blend of everything that’s most unfair in our unequal society today: unremitting grind, rubbish jobs, disenfranchisement, and so on.

By way of introduction, imagine Silyen, Jenner and Gavar are on twitter (!) what would their bios say?

- Silyen wouldn’t be on twitter. Or rather, he’d be an egg account, following all the powerful and provocative people who tweet in about 10 different languages. He’d never tweet himself.

- Jenner is a private, reserved person. His bio would be plain and factual: “Second son of Lord Whittam and Lady Thalia Jardine”, with a little location pin for ‘Kyneston, Hampshire’.

- Gavar is more a Rich Kids of Instagram, though his account has fallen strangely silent since he became a father and his girlfriend ‘died’…

I found all of the characters so intriguing and with so much potential; did you have a favourite to write and who caused you the most trouble when writing?

They never cause me trouble. I hear each of them clearly! The person with the most intricate tale to tell is Euterpe, who speaks to us only once, in Chapter 10 – my favourite chapter in the book, and almost a story within a story.

The one who demanded more chapters than I ever imagined is swaggering, obtuse Heir Gavar, whose past behavior has been shocking, yet who somehow occasionally intuits things more clearly than anyone else in his world. Scenes with Silyen are always a treat to write, but I have to use his point-of-view sparingly so as not to give too much away!

If you were a commoner in the world of The Dark Gifts trilogy, at what stage in your life would you choose to work out your gilded cageten years and why?

I’d put it off as long as possible, until the age of 55! But you can only do that responsibly if you don’t have children. If you die with your 10 years unserved, or incomplete, your debt passes to your children.

How have your own experiences fed into writing Gilded Cage?

It’s all in there! Obviously all the stories I covered in my journalism career – from the world of the superrich, to how politics works to the relentless grind of life at the bottom. But there’s a lot of my life experience in Abi, too. She’s a smart girl from a normal background, sent to a world of privilege of which she has no experience, to which she must rapidly adjust. I can really identify. I come from a working-class home, with two parents who never finished school as teenagers, then went to one of Oxford’s oldest and grandest colleges, a place of beauty and tradition, surrounded by the wealthy and, yes, even the titled!

As it’s still January, the month of resolutions; what are your reading resolutions for 2017?

Read more; read more by diverse authors; and read more nonfiction.

Last year was breakneck busy: I edited Gilded Cage, wrote and edited the sequel, and directed two BBC1 TV programmes. As I write this, in January, we’ve just signed off the sequel, and Gilded Cage is publishing. I can’t wait for life to slow down a little, and I’ve promised myself one dedicated reading day a week. Haven’t managed it so far, but I’m ever-hopeful!

And finally … what can we expect next from Vic James?

Oooh! Well, that all depends on what takes my publishers’ fancy, but there is an intense standalone I’m desperate to write. And I’m simmering an idea for another AU contemporary dualogy or trilogy: intrigue, corruption, secrets and untold history, and a global power struggle, in a world of dark glamour and tradition.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Amanda, and for loving GILDED CAGE! If anyone has any questions – come and find me on twitter @drvictoriajames

You can find out more about Gilded Cage and Vic James at: http://www.vicjames.co.uk/

gilded cageGilded Cage is published in paperback on 26th January by Pan Macmillan and is available an an ebook now.

A modern Britain
An age-old cruelty

Britain’s magically skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years – and now it’s the Hadleys’ turn. Abi Hadley is assigned to England’s most ruthless noble family. The secrets she uncovers could win her freedom – or break her heart. Her brother Luke is enslaved in a brutal factory town, where new friends’ ideals might cost him everything.

Then while the elite vie for power, a young aristocrat plots to remake the world with his dark gifts. As Britain moves from anger to defiance, all three must take sides. And the consequences of their choices will change everything, forever.


Author interview: Jo Platt

9 Nov

Please join me in welcoming author Jo Platt to One More Page today on the latest stop of her It Was You blog tour. Jo was born in Liverpool and has lived in Wiltshire, London, Seattle and St Albans, before settling in Bristol with her husband and two children. She studied English at King’s College London and worked in the City for 10 years before becoming a pre-school teacher in the US and then a mother and secretary. Her debut novel Reading Upside Down was self-published in 2013, selling over 15,000 copies and has since sold to publishers internationally. Jo Kindly let me ask her some questions about her new novel. Welcome Jo!

Jo_PlattYour new novel, It Was You has just been released. Please could you tell us a little about it and your inspiration for it?

It Was You is a romantic comedy focusing on 32 year-old Alice Waites and her friendships, in particular within The Short Book Group.  Alice has been happily, or perhaps apathetically, single for almost two years, but when her book group friends question her reluctance to meet a man, even for a no-strings coffee, she decides it’s time to start dating again.  Along the way, she uncovers secrets kept hidden by friends and family, and also learns something quite devastating about herself.  It’s a story which made me both laugh out loud and shed a few tears as I wrote it and I hope readers will find it equally funny and touching.

There were so many real-life inspirations for the story that it’s difficult to pick just one.  But obviously, my membership of a very lovely book group hugely influence my decision to make a book group central to the plot.  My Bristol group is, in fact, almost three times the size of Alice’s in It Was You but the group’s friendship, warmth and pathological fear of any novel over two inches thick, is exactly the same.

The story focuses on Alice and her friendships and relationships. What would her Twitter bio say?

Interior designer, daughter and friend.  Doing my best and, fingers crossed, very little harm.

Which character did you find hardest to write and which was your favourite?

Ooh… That’s tricky because I want to say that Stephen was the most difficult to write, but I don’t want to spoil anything for the reader by explaining why.  I think I’ll just have to let everyone draw their own conclusions as to why that was, once they’ve read the book!

As to my favourite character, It Was You is very much an ensemble piece, so I have huge affection for all the characters – even the dreaded Eleanor.  David and Sophie were probably my favourite to write as a pair and if you twisted my arm to pick just one, I’d probably plump for David.  He was written with one of my earliest bosses in mind and he was a man of enormous intelligence, kindness and diffidence.

How do you feel your own experiences fed into the story and what would you like readers to take away from It Was You?

I am blessed with a wonderful family and wonderful friendships and I think It Was You is a celebration of both of those things.  I’d like readers to come away feeling entertained and uplifted, with a sense that there are more good things and good people in the world than bad.  All of the characters in It Was You are flawed, and a few are deceitful and disreputable, but only one gives no hint of having any redeeming qualities whatsoever.  And it’s important to remember that that kind of person is, in my experience at least, very much the exception.

We see Alice venture into dating again during the book; what’s the strangest date you’ve been on? Cover

I once went on a date with my trousers on back to front and no opportunity to sort that out for the first hour or so.  I had a huge bulge of fabric at the front, which made me look pregnant, and every time I tried to sit or bend down, I suffered dreadful workman’s bum at the back.  Not the best start to things, but the evening improved and we’ve now been married for twenty-four years.

It Was You features a book group; what are your top three tips for setting one up?

I have no doubt that our Bristol book group breaks all the rules. But the following approach has worked for us.

  1. Try to have a mix of personalities and backgrounds.  It’s great to have something in common (in our case, we each had a child in Year 6 when we established the group), but don’t feel you have to share the same outlook, or sense of humour.  An eclectic mix of people results in an eclectic choice of books and a broadened reading experience.
  2. As far as practically possible, don’t turn people away.  There are seventeen of us in our book group.  It is, admittedly, a bit of an unwieldy number, but we average about twelve at each meeting and the sense of inclusion is great.
  1. Insist that everybody does their best to read the book, but don’t make it a stipulation for coming along.  I have one friend who is too terrified to attend her book group meetings if she hasn’t read the book.  That isn’t the case in our group and, actually, we have had a meeting where only one person had read the entire book.  The evening therefore consisted of that person telling the story to the rest of us, while we all sat quietly, sipping wine and looking thoroughly ashamed of ourselves.  To be fair, we did all pull our socks up a bit after that.  A very little bit.

And finally … what can we expect next from Jo Platt?

Well, I am currently making myself laugh over Book 3 and hope to have the first draft of that finished by Christmas.  It’s about a tortured, and highly confused, author whose longsuffering agent gives her a good shake and tells her to pull herself together.  And before you ask, it’s not at all based on anyone I know…

It Was You was published by Canelo on 31st October priced £1.99 as an ebook. 

Find out more at: http://www.canelo.co/books/it-was-you/


Author interview: Herta Feely

19 Oct

Please join me in welcoming author Herta Feely to One More Page today to discuss her debut novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow. Herta is a writer and full-time editor. In her previous work, she was a journalist, press secretary and activist, co-founding Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization dedicated to saving children from unintentional injuries. Herta has received the American Independent Writers’ award for best published personal essay. She now lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and two cats, Monty and Albert. She has two sons, Jack and Max. Welcome Herta!

Feely, HertaYour new novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow is released on 20th October; please could you tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write it?

The story revolves around a cyber-bullying episode focused on 13-year-old main character, Phoebe Murrow. The novel was inspired by an article I read in 2008 about Megan Meier (a 13-year-old girl in Missouri), who killed herself after a similar event carried out on MySpace. It turned out that the boy who initiated the cyber-bullying against Megan was actually a 47-year-old woman (Lori Drew), the mother of a former friend of Megan’s, who wanted to know what Megan might be saying about her daughter, Sarah.

It was shocking to me that a mother was capable of such meanness and I wanted to write a novel to understand how someone could do this.

As a latecomer to social media, I was also intrigued by this method of communicating. How MySpace or Facebook or Twitter (and all the rest) could go from being a friendly venue to a vicious and destructive one, and how easily people can make nasty comments when not having to face the person they are aiming their darts at.

I don’t believe that teens fully appreciate the consequences of their posts when they are cruel or vindictive. Nor can they handle the 24/7 nature of social media when the messages are negative. It’s difficult enough for adults to deal with.

The novel centres on a relationship between a mother and her daughter; how to you feel your own experiences as a Mum and daughter fed into the book?

This question makes me smile, because usually people ask me how I could write such a novel when I’m the mother of two sons. But I think your question is the better one. As for the first part, I had a rather difficult relationship with my own mother and much of that is illustrated in the relationship between Phoebe and her mother, Isabel, though I do think many girls, even those with much better mother/daughter relationships, experience various aspects of feeling not understood, not appreciated, and so on in their teen years. There’s also the natural separation that occurs between children and their parents during the teen years, which is a difficult phase for parents to navigate. As for the second part, I believe that I was the kind of Mum who was sometimes a bit too strict and then too lenient, hence a dollop of Isabel and a smidgeon of Sandy. I was far from perfect, believe me, though at all times, like most parents, I very much loved my children and believe my husband and I taught them (and hopefully role-modeled) the important values in life.

To introduce them to us, please could you sum up Isabel and Phoebe in 5 words each.

Isabel: loving, concerned, rigid, overly protective

Phoebe: smart, kind, creative, sensitive, vulnerable


Which character did you find most difficult to write and how did you overcome these challenges?

To be honest I didn’t find it difficult to inhabit any of my characters. While one might imagine, after reading the novel, that it was difficult for me to write Sandy, in fact her sometimes misguided way of thinking flowed quite readily. I’m not sure why. Perhaps we all have aspects of ourselves that are contradictory, inconsistent and not so readily understood. Some of writing fiction is a bit of a mystery and I believe this is what keeps the writing fresh and makes for interesting reading. Most authors don’t simply manipulate their characters to do this and that – I know I don’t. I feel more like a channel for them to express themselves through.


Saving Phoebe Murrow is a frightening story of the dangers faced by children growing up in a social media world. What Saving Phoebe Murrowresources would you recommend for parents who are concerned about the themes raised? 

I would first and foremost recommend that parents go online and look up any question they might have about social media. That’s what I’ve done and I’ve found amazing amounts of articles on the various topics as well as dozens of organizations dedicated to teaching parents, children and educators about online safety. I think it’s absolutely critical for parents to understand and be aware of the many social media platforms or apps available to children and teens. And to know their positives and also their risks, because there are many. (I recently looked this up and stumbled onto an article that outlines 16 different social media apps, which age group they targer, and what the risks are.)  All this is unfamiliar territory for many of us parents because we didn’t grow up with social media, but with the widespread use of electronic devices, social media and Internet use is now firmly part of every child/teen’s world and it’s terribly important for us to know that world. I hope I don’t sound like I’m scolding or proselytizing, but I’m afraid not familiarizing ourselves is tantamount to not caring about what food we feed our children. A few resources you might start with: http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org
What would you like readers to take away from the book?

First, I’d like readers to thoroughly enjoy the read. And, second, I hope the novel stimulates conversations about everything from parenting to social media use, from mother-daughter relationships to mean girls and the impact adult behavior has on our children.

And finally; what can we expect next from Herta Feely?

I’m happy to report that I’m firmly ensconced in my next novel, All Fall Down (working title), in which Charlotte Cooper, a human rights activist, is about to reach the pinnacle of her career as the head of a human rights organization based in London. Her past catches up with her, though, and the job becomes elusive. The spotlight occasionally shines on human rights violations and artifact destruction in the Middle East as we discover Charlotte’s past and who she truly loves. (I was a bit surprised to discover that this novel is as much a love story as a female crusader story.)

Thanks Herta!

Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely is published by Twenty7 on 20th October in paperback and ebook formats.


Guest post: An Interview With My Fictional Heroine by Nic Tatano

29 Mar

Today I’m hosting the final stop on Nic Tatano’s blog tour for his fab new release The Love Triangle. Nic spent fifteen years as a television news reporter and anchor. His work has taken him from the floors of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions to Ground Zero in New York to Jay Leno’s backyard. Nic grew up in the New York City metropolitan area and now lives on the Gulf Coast where he is happy that he will never shovel snow again! He’s happily married to a teacher and they share their home with a tortoiseshell tabby cat, Gypsy. Not only am I delighted to welcome Nic back to One More page but I’m very excited to meet the star of Nic’s new novel, Lexi Harlow. Welcome Nic!

Photo-Nic-Tatano-1-218x247Lexi Harlow is the snarky, redhead heroine in my new book, The Love Triangle.  Like many authors, I tend to get attached to my characters, so I like to conduct an exit interview before sending them out into the world. Lexi took time from her busy schedule as a fictional character to sit down with me and chat.

Me: Lexi, good to talk with you again. I missed you while you were in the editing process. You look well.

Lexi: Thankfully the editor didn’t change me. I was worried she’d remove my sarcastic attitude and turn me into something sweet and                       innocent. Pffft. Like anyone would buy that.

Me: And pretty hard to do that considering your escapades in the book.

Lexi: I wouldn’t call them escapades. Besides, you wrote them. Speaking of which, did you have to throw two terrific guys into my life at the           same time?”

Me: Hence the title, The Love Triangle. I could have given you a third guy and called it The Love Polygon.

Lexi: At that point the title should be Dating for the Mathematically Challenged.

Me: So, I assume you’re happy with how things turned out. At least you seemed that way at the end of the book.

Lexi: Hey, can’t complain with Happily Ever After. But did you have to make the journey so hard? I mean, I know you authors love that                     conflict thing, but geez, this was torture.

Me: You didn’t seem to mind being in that hot tub with—

Lexi: (Blushing, as her face begins to approach the color of her hair.) Okay, maybe torture wasn’t the right word. But why couldn’t I be like           some of those other heroines who meet the hero in chapter one and fall madly in love for three hundred pages without any obstacles?

Me: Because I don’t want to give readers a cavity. Snarky and saccharine don’t go together.

Lexi: Point taken. I like the sweet guy I ended up with and we’re a good balance. Sweet and salty are a great match, like those pretzel M&Ms.         Speaking of which, those gals in the HarperImpulse office are a lot like that.

Me: Like pretzel M&Ms?”

Lexi: No. Sweet and a bit salty. Nice women who have a cool job with books that can get a little naughty. You should see them when they’re           searching for a guy to put on a book cover. They actually get paid to look at shirtless men. Damn, I need a job as a romance cover artist. And           once in a while they get to work on a steamy book. I met this other heroine from an erotic novel that was being edited at the same time and it         sounded like she spent more time looking at ceilings than Michelangelo. Speaking of which, how come every time it seemed like a sex scene           for me was coming up the chapter ended? Then I’d turn the page and be somewhere else.

Me: Because it’s a sweet romance without anything too explicit. The sex is implied.

Lexi: Well, you implied me right into a cold shower about five times in the book.

Me: Besides, guys can’t write sex scenes because they only last one paragraph.

Lexi: Why does that not surprise me?

Me: No comment. Anyway, looking back, is there anything you would have changed in the book?

Lexi: You didn’t have to reveal my age.

Me: Readers need to know so they can get a mental picture of you.

Lexi: Fine. But you could have said I was in my thirties with the body of a twenty year old.

Me: Your hero seemed to think you’re the most beautiful woman in the world. Isn’t that all that matters?

Lexi: You got me there.

Me: Anything else?

Lexi: Well, I’d like to know how things turn out after the book ends. I mean, what happens after we get married? I get the HEA thing, but can         you be more specific?

Me: Are you saying you want a sequel?

Lexi: Nah, you’d throw that conflict thing at me again. I’m just curious about the future.

Me: Hey, you met the guy of your dreams. So live the dream. Let the wave take you and enjoy the ride.

Lexi: Fair enough. By the way, I understand you started another book. And that you’ve already connected with another snarky redhead.

Me: I… uh…”

Lexi: (rolls her eyes) Writers. And they say men can’t commit.

Me: That’s why I left you with your dream guy.

Lexi: I’m just yankin’ your chain. Oh, one more request.

Me: Sure.

Lexi: Don’t ever put my book on sale. I’m not a cheap read.

Thank you Nic and Lexi!

The Love Triangle is out now in ebook format and will be released as a paperback in June from HarperImpulse.

Find out more about Nic and his books at: http://www.harperimpulseromance.com/authors/nic-tatano/

154448-0_The_love_trianglePublic relations expert Lexi Harlow is the queen of getting her clients out of sticky situations. But can she do it for herself?

After an incendiary breakup (setting fire to her cheating boyfriend’s pants), Lexi decides to play the field for the first time in her life. Two suitors are vying for her affections: New York’s most eligible bachelor and pro quarterback Jake Frost, and sports agent Kyle Caruso. But when the athlete hires the agent, and both enlist her services to take care of public relations, well…

There’s only one way Lexi can get out of this love triangle before everything blows up in her face: choose one.

But when the candle she’s burning at both ends meets in the middle, the choice is no longer hers.

Guest post: My Favourite Things About Spring by Cathy Woodman

23 Mar

Today I’m celebrating the start of Spring with Cathy Woodman! Cathy was a small-animal vet before turning to writing fiction. She won the Harry Bowling First Novel Award in 2002 and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Cathy has written ten novels set in the fictional market town of Talyton St George in beautiful East Devon, where Cathy lived as a child. Cathy now lives with her two children, a cat and two Border Terriers in a village near Winchester, Hampshire.

Cathy WoodmanThank you very much for welcoming me to your brilliant blog as I continue on my tour with my new book, Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage.

I’ve been thinking about my favourite things about spring and I’ve come up with my top five.

Number one is that this spring sees the publication of my latest novel, Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage, the tenth in the Talyton St George series. It tells the story of female farrier, Flick, whose first job is in the hamlet of Furzeworthy just outside Talyton St George. She is horse-mad, a fact that leads me on to the second great thing about spring, the onset of the lighter evenings.

If you have ever had anything to do with looking after horses, you will understand how the lengthening days seem like a miracle after the short days of winter. It’s a welcome respite from stumbling about in the dark with nothing but the light of a head torch to unlock the combination lock on the gate to the blossom cathyyard with numb fingers in the mornings, and mucking out by the light of a single electric bulb before turning the horses out in a muddy field. As for riding, unless you’re lucky enough to have access to a floodlit arena, you can be pretty stuck. But when spring comes and the horses start to shed their winter coats, you know that you have a good few months to make the most of your horse.

Number three in my top five favourite things about spring is the appearance of the spring blooms. When writing my books, I include a mention of the different flowers growing in the cottage gardens, hedgerows and Devon banks to give a sense of the season, so in Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage, you will spot blackthorn and primroses, for example, and later on, daffodils and tulips.

cathy birthdayFourth in my springtime countdown is my birthday in March and I’ll be able to have a rainbow cake with candles, but I’m not telling you how many this year. I love the fact that I’ve had birthdays where I’ve been paddling around in the river in warm sunshine, and others where it’s snowed.

And finally, my fifth favourite thing in spring is casting off the hat, gloves and scarf, and choosing new clothes to wear into the summer. By setting Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage at this time of year, I was able to let Robbie, the handsome stunt rider and local celebrity, wear a flowing shirt while swimming with his horse. Think Poldark!

I hope you enjoy reading Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage as much as I enjoyed writing about Flick and Robbie, and their horses.

x Cathy

Thank you Cathy and very happy Spring Birthday too!

Springtime At Cherry Cottage springtime coveris published on 24th March 2016 in paperback original by Arrow, priced £6.99

After years of training, horse-mad Flick has finally achieved her dream of becoming one of the few female blacksmiths in the country.

Her first job is in Talyton St George. The little cottage on the green where she is staying is idyllic, and it feels like the fresh start she needs. But she soon finds she is having to work overtime to prove her abilities to the not-so-welcoming locals.

One person very much on her side though is Robbie Salterton. He’s a bit of a local celebrity – a handsome stunt rider who does charity work in his spare time – and he seems to be going out of his way to look out for Flick. But is he just being friendly or does he see Flick as something more?

Despite swearing off men, Flick can’t help wanting to find out . . .

Author interview: Kate Thompson

9 Mar

Today I’m delighted to welcome Kate Thompson to One More Page to chat about her new novel, The Secrets of the Sewing Bee which is out tomorrow, 10th March. Kate is a journalist with twenty years’ experience as a writer for the broadsheets and women’s weekly magazines. She is now freelance and, as well as writing for newspapers, she’s a seasoned ghostwriter. Secrets of the Sewing Bee is her second novel, following the Sunday Times bestseller Secrets of the Singer Girls. Welcome Kate!

kate thompsonYour new novel Secrets of the Sewing Bee is out on 10th March, please could you tell us a little about it and your inspiration for it?

Hello Amanda and thank-you for having me on your blog. Great blog name by the way!

Secrets of the Sewing Bee is the prequel to my debut novel, Secrets of the Singer Girls. The novel is set in the same fictional garment factory, but focuses on the eight-month period of the Blitz and the many sewing circles that were formed during this devastating time.

The idea came from an interview with a former seamstress. She told me that a factory she had worked for had a scheme where it was twinned with a British Naval warship, and the factory workers and sailors encouraged to write to one another to keep up morale on both the Home Front and the Battle Front.

I was intrigued by this concept, like a sort of wartime pen pal scheme. The lady I spoke with couldn’t really remember much more about it, so I got in touch with the Women’s Voluntary Services (so on end corr), now the Royal Voluntary Service, and they confirmed that yes, there were such schemes.

The archivist also told me that they did a lot more than write, they also knitted and sent a huge number of comfort items to their sailor pen pals including balaclavas, gloves, scarves, socks and so on. He also revealed the prodigious output of these sewing circles and their significance during the Blitz.

Women from all classes and backgrounds were Knitting for Victory. I loved the idea of the nation’s women knitting as one, and so Trout’s very own sewing bee, the Victory Knitters, was born.


The new novel is a prequel to your debut, Secrets of the Singer Girls and again focuses on women working in garment factories during the second World War. What drew you to this particular aspect of war work as a subject for your novels?singer girls

I am endlessly fascinated by East End women of that era. Not least because of their stoicism, ferocious loyalty to family and friends, ability to graft, but also because of their often wicked sense of humour!

For me, the rag trade is the untold story of the war. Today, the East End is unrecognisable from its former self, but during the war, the streets of Bethnal Green, Bow, Spitalfields, Stepney, Hackney and Whitechapel were teeming with garment factories, all crowded with women working ‘in the rag’. The blistering poverty of those times was brutal. The Welfare State hadn’t been dreamt up and the streets were filled with the poor and hungry. Children walked about with bare feet or in shoes patched up with cardboard. But from great poverty springs ingenuity, and the Cockney rag-trade worker, was nothing if not resourceful.

One has to admire the women who worked out how to fuse their sewing machines by holding the wheel and keeping their foot down on the treadle, craftily earning themselves an extra ten-minute break, or the lady who proudly told me that she didn’t regard herself as a proper machinist until she had accidentally impaled her finger on the sewing machine needle three times!

These women, like every other machinist I spoke with,

calmly worked their way through the raids of the Blitz until the bombs got too close for comfort and they were forced to seek shelter. The Luftwaffe weren’t going to stop their sewing machines from humming, if they could help it!

Nearly every machinist I spoke with began work at fourteen. It was commonplace to finish school on a Friday, and find yourself marched to the nearest factory to start work at 8 a.m. sharp on the following Monday. Girls were pleased to be ‘doing their bit’. Tragically, when war broke out, this phrase took on a whole new meaning. Many of the women who worked in the then thriving rag trade were suddenly no longer stitching dresses bound for the smartest stores ‘Up West’, but instead found themselves sewing army battle dress, surgical field bandages and, once the fighting began, repairing uniforms peppered with bullet holes.

Trout’s is a fictional factory, but based on the many firms that operated in the East End, and it’s fictional seamstresses inspired by the larger than life characters I met during the course of research.


How did you go about your research for the books and what surprised you most about what your found out?

I visited libraries, museums and archives, but nothing was more invaluable than chatting with the women who lived and worked through those times! I have gatecrashed bingo groups, coffee mornings, tea dances, quizzes and community centers and met some amazing women in the process.

One time I went to meet a 90-year-old lady in her flat in Bethnal Green to find it crammed with all her mates. It was wonderful, once one started, it jogged the memories of the others and soon the stories and laughter were flowing as fast as the tea!

I also attended a Blitz commemoration at the Imperial War Museum and it was there that I met a woman who told me stories, which made me reappraise what I thought I knew. This lady told me how during the Blitz she watched her mother and the women from her block of flats, lynch a German pilot who bailed out over their street. ‘You have to understand how angry women were,’ she confided.

There is a perception that women were the gentler sex back then, tending to home and hearth, but on digging deeper I discovered a very different woman to the one presented to us though nostalgic dramas, stoically waiting for her husband to return home from the battlefields.

My characters, in keeping with the women of Britain, behaved in extraordinary and uncharacteristic ways. Shocked out of their rhythms by fear, necessity and freedom, they indulged in affairs, took part in protests, lynch mobs, stormed from stifling jobs and took on exciting and dangerous new ones.

As one woman told me whilst I was researching the book, “Women found their soul. It was the very best time to be alive”.

This was confirmed by another lady who confessed: “I ought not to say this, but I found it exciting”. Another woman proudly told me she finally found freedom from her abusive husband, and got a job painting huge ships down the docks. Her eyes still sparkled at the memory. I’m not trying to diminish the fear and heartache experienced by so many, but highlight the ways in which women discovered what they were truly capable of.

Discovering that sense of freedom and the huge evolution it brought about in women’s lives was very exciting and I wanted to place that drama firmly at the heart of the book.


sewing-bee-coverSecrets of the Sewing Bee focuses on Flossy, Peggy and Dolly; please could you tell us a little about each of them.

Dolly Doolaney is the office tea lady. She is a chirpy, sunny woman, always full of banter and jocularity, but she hides a heartbreaking secret that is only revealed when the bombs stop dropping.

Flossy Brown was raised in an orphanage. The factory is her first job and she finds the ‘East End’s own finishing school’ as the other girls call the factory, a baptism of fire, but she quickly settles in, only finding out what she is truly capable of when the Blitz begins.

Then there is Peggy Piper, a former Lyons Corner House Nippy. Peggy immediately alienates her fellow workers with her cool and aloof demeanour, but of all the girls, it is she who goes on the most profound journey of discovery.


Who was your favourite character to write and why?

Probably Dolly, because she is the one with the most painful secret. In common with most women, then and now, she is very good at painting on a cheerful face to the outside world, and simply getting on with things. But knowing what she was hiding made her an interesting character to write.

She isn’t a main character, but I also love Sal Fowler, who makes reappearance from the Singer Girls and gets involved in a protest at the Savoy Hotel over the lack of shelters in the East End. She is flawed, foul-mouthed, funny and strong! Just the sort of woman I’d like to be friends with.


What drew you to historical fiction as a genre and would you like to or do you have plans to write in any other genres?

I had written extensively in a nostalgic, historical vein when I was a ghostwriter and fell in love with it then, so it felt natural to continue writing in this genre when it came to fiction. The history of women is fascinating. I don’t have any immediate plans to write in any other genre, not when I continue to discover so many surprises along the way!


And finally … what can we expect next from Kate Thompson?

I’m waving goodbye to Trout’s garment factory and starting something new entirely. I’m currently working on a book set in 1936 in Whitechapel about women working in the wedding industry. Two of my characters work in a photographic portrait studio and the third makes wedding dresses.

The East End was grindingly poor back then in the Depression, but despite that, or many even because of it, every bride wanted to look like a Hollywood movie star. Having a beautiful wedding portrait was a badge of honour, as was having the very best wedding day your family could afford. It was a time of stark contrasts and the illusion of glamour.

The streets were full of danger, with fascist blackshirts marching and the threat of war looming on the horizon, so young women lived for glamour and romance.

1936 was a helter skelter of a year with the Depression, hunger marches, the abdication of the King and the Battle of Cable Street, providing a suitably dramatic backdrop to my character’s lives.


Thanks Kate – I love hearing about the inspirational stories that you uncovered and I’m already looking forward to your new book!

Secrets of the Sewing Bee is released on 10th March in paperback and ebook formats by Pan.

Find out more about Kate and her writing at: http://www.katethompsonmedia.co.uk/

Author interview: Rosie Nixon

15 Feb

It’s my great pleasure to welcome debut novelist Rosie Nixon to One More Page today. Rosie has been joint Editor of HELLO! for the past five years where she relishes the role of hands-on editor with a love of all things celebrity, royal and fashion-related. She previously held senior positions at glossy women’s magazines including  Grazia, Glamour and Red. She has been lucky enough to attend a multitude of glamorous award ceremonies, premieres and showbiz weddings all around the world during her career. Ever discreet and protective of the big stars she has worked with, Rosie‘s experience has undoubtedly enabled her to write her debut novel, The Stylist. Welcome Rosie!

Rosie-NixonYour debut novel, The Stylist is out now. Please could you tell us a little about it and why you chose to write a novel at this point in your career?

The Stylist is a fashion-packed, fun-filled romp through red carpet awards season as we follow former shop assistant Amber Green as she lands what she thinks is her dream job assisting infamous ‘stylist to the stars’ Mona Armstrong. But Mona is unravelling faster than a hemline and Amber finds herself in the centre of a confusing love triangle.

I was a prolific story teller and letter-writer as a child and kept a diary as a teenager – I was always finding a reason to write and writing a novel was an ambition from an early age. I’ve worked for many glossy magazines as a writer and celebrity interviewer and now I’m an editor I have less time to write, so working on my novel reconnected me with my love of creative writing. I also found it a great escape. Seeing The Stylist in hardback is like a dream come true.

In The Stylist we meet Amber Green and Mona Armstrong; by way of introduction and assuming they are on Twitter, what would their Bios say?

Mona – Stylist to the stars, darling. London/LA. I love Moschino and macchiatos.

Amber – Stylists’ assistant getting to grips with long-haul flights and mega high heels. Makes a mean macchiato.

You’re currently joint editor of Hello! Magazine, and have also worked at Glamour, Grazia and Red. What are your top three tips for always looking stylish?

1. Less really is more – if in doubt, go classic and don’t over accessorise.
2. You can’t beat a smart little black dress.
3. If you feel good, you look good.

How would you describe your own style and who or what provide inspirations for it?image001

I’d say I’m fairly classic with love of vintage thrown in. I’ll wear a pretty girlie dress with my favourite leather jacket on top. I can’t do heels every day of the week, and I’m most likely to be found wearing skinny jeans and a statement jumper. I’m big on gold jewellery and love the designs from Monica Vinader. I think British hightstreet fashion is fantastic, yet I’ll occasionally splurge on a designer handbag. I thought I’d gone to heaven when I snapped up a classic vintage Chanel bag in a Paris flea-market – it’s one of my prized possessions.

Mona and Amber help style some of Hollywood’s hottest stars for awards season; whose Red Carpet style do you admire?

I think Cate Blanchett always looks incredible – she can do both quirky and classic and is a true trailblazer. Also Lupita Nyong’o made a huge impact on the fashion world when she ruled awards season in 2014 wearing a rainbow of colours. I also think Jennifer Lawrence is interesting to watch on the red carpet as she can pull of a variety of looks and you never know what she’ll do next.’

And finally … what can we expect next from Rosie Nixon?

I’m currently writing the sequel to The Stylist. I’m having a ball, it’s set in New York and involves more fashion highs and lows, crushing hangovers and matters of the heart as Amber relocates to the city that never sleeps and navigates her first serious relationship.

Thanks Rosie – I can’t wait for the sequel – I love NY!

The Stylist is out now in hardback and ebook formats from MIRA books.

Follow Rosie on Twitter @Rosie_Nixon