Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

A Q&A with Crime Writer Dan Smith

 

Dan Smith blog tour

I’m delighted to welcome today’s guest, crime writer Dan Smith, to Books, Biscuits and Tea. To celebrate the publication of his latest novel, The Darkest Heart, Dan stopped by the blog for a chat. I hope you enjoy the interview! :)

Hi Dan, welcome to Books, Biscuits and Tea! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you very much; it’s a pleasure to be here! A little bit about myself? Hmm, well, I want to say that I’m an international man of mystery. Or maybe a shadowy cartel hitman. Or a rugged adventurer. But I’m none of those things. I am in fact a story-loving, film-watching, game-playing, sky-diving, book-writing author. Without the sky-diving. I really must take up some interesting and dangerous hobbies.

You lived in many different places – Sierra Leone, Sumatra and Brazil, to mention a few – why did you decide to settle down in England? Has your experience in these foreign countries influenced your writing?

The reason for all the travelling was that my dad worked for a rubber company and we spent a lot of time living on rubber plantations. I don’t think there was ever any belief that we’d live abroad forever – we always had a home in England, and my brother and I came to boarding school here. Also, I love it here. There’s a lot to moan about and a lot that needs changing but I consider myself lucky to live in such a great country. There’s no doubt, though, that my experiences have influenced and will continue to influence my writing. I love stories that take me somewhere else and hope to do the same for my readers. It’s an amazing world out there, and there are all kinds of exciting places just begging to be used!

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve met a few authors who tell me they always knew they wanted to be writers. Not me. Growing up, I never really knew what I wanted to be – apart from wanting to be Han Solo when I was 7 or 8 years old – but stories were always important to me. I looked for stories wherever I could find them and even made up stories of my own, so it was probably inevitable that I’d start to write them down. I still have some of the short stories I wrote as a teenager, and while they’re pretty awful, they were the beginning for me. That’s when I seriously started to think I might want to be a writer. The only problem was that I had no idea how to go about it.

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Precious Thing Blog Tour: Colette McBeth on Her Second Novel

Precious Thing blog tour

Good morning everyone! Today author and former BBC news correspondent Colette McBeth is joining us here at Books, Biscuits and Tea to talk about her second novel, The Life I Left Behind. I’ve never actually featured a video interview on the blog before so I do hope you enjoy it. (And make sure to watch the end of the video to see how Colette created her plot jigsaw – is it just me or it’s a brilliant idea?)

And without further ado, please welcome Colette McBeth.

author

Colette McBeth

Colette McBeth was a BBC TV News Correspondent for ten years. She lives in West London with her husband and three young children. She attended the Faber Academy Novel Writing Course in 2011. Her debut novel, Precious Thing, was published in 2013. You can find Colette on Twitter and Facebook.

 about

Precious Thing: 10 April, 2014 (Headline)
Paperback, 384 pages
Goodreads | Pre-order

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good?

Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last for ever.

They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Now in their late twenties Rachel has everything while Clara’s life is spiralling further out of control. Then Clara vanishes.

Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.

The Life I Left Behind: 1 January, 2015 (Headline)
Paperback, 352 pages
Goodreads | Pre-order

The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth

Everyone tells her she’s a survivor. No-one knows she’s dead inside.

Five years ago Melody Pieterson was attacked and left for dead.

She coped by burying the person she was, locking away her memories and creating a new life for herself. Her attacker is behind bars. In four weeks’ time she will get married. She’s almost normal.

Everyone tells her she’s a survivor. No one knows she’s dead inside.

Then the body of another woman is found, close to where Melody was discovered. Like her she has blond hair and green eyes. Like Melody, police find a gold bird cage necklace at the scene. And Melody realises her attacker has been out there all along…

Author Interview: Anna Hope – Plus a Giveaway!

Wake by Anna Hope

Hello everyone! I have a very special guest for you this morning! As part of Transworld’s official Wake blog tour, I had the chance to interview debut author Anna Hope and ask her about her first novel, which was published by Doubleday earlier this month. And –  to celebrate Anna’s astonishing novel and to make this grey morning a little bit brighter – I also have three copies to give away, so make sure to read on to find out how. Now, come take a seat, help yourselves to tea and biscuits and please give a warm welcome to our guest, Anna.

V: Hi Anna, welcome to Books, Biscuits, and Tea! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I was born in Manchester, studied English at University, then went to RADA for three years. I’ve been an actress ever since. But along with acting came a lot of unemployment, and writing was a way of keeping me sane while waiting for the jobs to come. Eventually I took a Master’s in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College and decided to take the writing more seriously.

V: Your début, Wake, revolves around three women dealing with the aftershocks of WWI and its impact on the men in their lives. What inspired you to write a novel about the post-war era?

A: I knew that I wanted to write about WW1 from the perspective of the female experience; so many of the known tropes of the war are male – the trenches, the barbed wire, the mud. I wanted to look at what the fallout of the war was for the women who lived through it. I was fascinated by the graveyards in France, by the decision not to bring any of those bodies home. How must it have been if your loved one was in a graveyard miles from home? Or if they didn’t even have a grave, but were just one name amongst thousands on a memorial? When I came across the story of the Unknown Warrior I was fascinated. Using the five days from its disinterment in France to burial in London seemed a great opportunity to explore my themes within a tight time frame.

V: How much research went into writing Wake?

A: I read for about a year before writing, and then carried on reading for the two years it took me to write. I became a WW1 geek in the process! I found all sorts of books useful, but it was great to read women’s fiction of the time – most of it now out of print.

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A Q&A with Author and Former Music PR, Eleanor Prescott

This Valentine’s Day, Roxy Squires is waiting for the phone to ring…

Roxy is famous. At least, she used to be. She’s a good-time TV presenter and, OK, so things haven’t been going so well recently, but she knows her big break is just around the corner. What she’s really looking for is someone to propel her back to the big time.

Enter Woody, one-time pop star and Roxy’s ultimate dream date, now working as her window cleaner. He’s the answer to her prayers – but for some reason, he doesn’t want to be famous any more.

And it turns out that they’re not the only celebs in the village. Roxy’s living amongst a motley crew of former stars and fame survivors, who meet weekly to discuss their new lives. Is this the reality check Roxy needs? Or maybe it’s a chance to do the unthinkable and fall in love…?

Eleanor Prescott worked as a PR in the music business for ten years. Her second novel, Could It Be I’m Falling in Love? is released on February 14th.

How did you become a music PR?

I’d always been a massive music fan.  As a teenager I’d been obsessed by David Bowie (to the point of spending a whole afternoon rooted on the pavement, gazing at the house he’d once lived in two decades before!).  I’d worked in the music department of my local library, had summer jobs in record shops, and even managed to bend my university dissertation into a study on Kylie Minogue So after a brief post-uni spell selling pants, I managed to bag a receptionist job at a company that made advert soundtracks.  Although my duties were ordering couriers and doing the sandwich run, it got the word ‘music’ onto my CV, which led to a few music admin jobs and PA temp work at Radio 1.  Eventually I stumbled into PR and then got an interview with MTV.

It seems like a really glamorous job.  Was it as fun as it sounds?

It was amazing!  I’m so lucky to have had the privilege.  Standing in the wings at gigs, or hurtling through the dancers, musicians and pop stars in the warren of backstage dressing rooms at a music awards ceremony was my teenage dream come true!

What was your best moment?

There were so many ‘best’ moments… Working in the photography pit at gigs (you’re closer to the bands than anyone else in the building – so close you can see up their noses!)…  Experiencing the madness of working on the MTV Europe Music Awards red carpet (electrifying – deafening – terrifying!)…  Going on tour with Russell Brand… Flying in a helicopter Vegas-bound over the Grand Canyon, knowing every penny was covered by expenses!

What was the strangest thing you were asked to do?

There was the story I had to kill about the R&B star whose gold teeth had been stolen from his dressing room… And the presenter who wouldn’t leave his hotel room until I’d been to the shops to buy him clean pants…

Which of the stars you met impressed you the most?

Tom Cruise and Will Smith were fantastic.  They said ‘hello’ and shook hands with absolutely everyone, from the producer, to the security man, to the work experience boy.

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An Interview with Justin Ordoñez, Author of Sykosa

SykosaPlease enjoy this interview with Justin Ordoñez, author of the YA novel (for 18+ readers), Sykosa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

1. Who or What is a Sykosa?

Sykosa is a sixteen year old junior in high school. She’s the main character of a novel I’ve written by the same name. For a quick rundown, she attends a prestigious preparatory academy, is part of the school’s coolest clique, “the Queens,” and she has started dating the boy she’s secretly been crushing on for a year, Tom. It’s taken a year to start dating him because A) there was this SUPER HUGE thing that happened during her sophomore year, and it delayed things and made being intimate with Tom difficult, and B) she kinda starts seeing stars around him and loses the ability to behave in any type of serious manner.

2. Why is Sykosa different from other novels?

It’s different because youth driven literature has become full of metaphors for danger that seem to have split into either science fiction or fantasy. (Before I go any further, I like both genres, so I’m not being a snob!) Sometimes, it feels like instead of dealing with real problems, it’s easier to have kids use magic. And instead of facing real contemporary issues, kids should fight aliens or something. These metaphors are meant to represent real life, but I fear they’ve slightly crossed over into a bit of denial about contemporary Americanism, which is a hard topic to write about since our country is in an identity crisis, and has been for about 11 years. Sykosa is an attempt to counter-act this trend. When I was young, I read books about young people that blew me away like One Fat Summer and The Outsiders. These books felt real, and it felt like I could slip into them at any moment. The writing was gritty, it was unapologetic, it was brilliant. I just don’t see many of those around, and I wanted to write one, and I wanted to write one with a female protagonist.

3. Why did you chose cross-gender writing?

Toward the end of the my high school education, I was allowed to split my school day from my normal, traditional education and a newer style, self-directed educational program. I took an English class where my English teacher, someone who I’m still friends with to this day, gave me only one assignment for an entire semester, and it was, “Perform a deep self-evaluation of yourself and your writing and come up with one goal for what you’re going to improve on.” At the time, I was seriously into writing, and had taken to writing a few books per year, but most of them were in the first person, and they were just me talking about myself. The issue was that I had been in a serious car accident the year prior and I had injured a friend in it. (He fully recovered, but never forgave me). I had tried to write a first person story about myself many times since the accident, but I was constantly failing because I was dealing with some lingering self-loathing and guilt. As a way to get away from it, I decided I wanted to work on a story I had been thinking about for a while, but that I never started writing for one super scary reason.

The main character was a teenage girl.

Odd as it might sound, I was intimidated by the fact that the main character was a woman. So I faced my fear and said my goal would be to write women better, and I proceeded to work with several teachers and several female students to help me craft a female character that was realistic, yet met my vision of her as well. This challenge stuck with me into my adult life, and it eventually found its ultimate form in Sykosa.

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Interview and giveaway with Jenny Lundquist, author of Seeing Cinderella

Hello bookish folks! :-)

I’m happy to tell you that I have a lovely guest today! Those who have been following me for a while know that I read and reviewed Seeing Cinderella last month and I absolutely loved it. I don’t usually read middle grade books – not anymore – but this one was seriously amazing. So, to whet your appetite and show you how great this book is, I would like you to meet the author herself … *drumroll*

J:  First of all I just want to say thanks so much for having me today. I feel constantly blessed by how supportive the book blogging and kidlit community is.

V:  I’m happy to have you on Books, Biscuits, and Tea! Thank you for joining us today :-) I really enjoyed your book but for those people who haven’t read it yet, please tell us a little bit about yourself and Seeing Cinderella.

J:  Hmmm, I have a hard time talking about myself, that’s probably why I don’t blog more often. But here goes…I’m the mother of two rambunctious boys and a writer. This means I drink too much coffee, and my house is usually a mess. I’m horrible at most sports, but I play a mean game of hearts. I can’t carry a tune, but secretly when I’m alone in my car I rock out to Kelly Clarkson and unleash my inner diva…How’s that? :0)

Seeing Cinderella is my debut middle grade novel about a shy seventh grader who receives a pair of magic glasses that can read people’s thoughts. She uses the glasses to navigate middle school life and better understand the world around her. Or to put it another way, she spies on her mom, best friend, and long-time crush to find out what they really think of her.

V:  What motivated you to write Seeing Cinderella? How much is it based on personal experiences and your own childhood?

J:  Seeing Cinderella is partly inspired by an incident that that happened to me in the seventh grade. It involved my glasses, a cute boy, and spit. You can read about it here. I never owned a pair of magic glasses but I was much like Callie in that I felt overwhelmed by middle school life and wanted to hide out in my room with my books.


V: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

J:  The hardest part by far was figuring out where I wanted to go with my initial idea. Originally I tried to write a short story about a girl who received a pair of magic glasses that could read people’s thoughts, but I could never make it work. Once I decided the idea was better suited as a novel it took me several months to develop the story. I kept asking myself what kind of girl needs magic glasses to really “see” the world around her. And I struggled to develop my secondary characters. Since Callie’s glasses would allow her to see their thoughts, I knew I needed to spend time getting to know them and get a feel for each character’s emotional world. All in all, it took me two and a half years to write Seeing Cinderella. Which is kind of funny, because it’s taken me two and half months to write my second book, Plastic Polly.

V: But it was worth it! ;-) What do you hope readers will learn from your book? What’s the main message you want to get across?

J: When I write a story, I never start with a message that I want to share. I always begin with an idea that intrigues me, or a character voice in my head that just won’t go away. But as I began writing Seeing Cinderella, I remembered how awkward and afraid I felt in seventh grade. In many ways I was frozen, afraid to pursue my interests, and certain everyone thought I was a dork. I guess it’s my hope that after reading this book, other girls will realize they’re not alone—that many other people share their worries and insecurities, even if they don’t voice them, and that they’ll be able to step confidently into the next season of their life.

V: Which character or characters could you relate to the most?

J: Callie was the character I related to the most, but actually, in some ways I related to all of them. Ellen, Callie’s outgoing and grade-obsessed best friend, was me in the fourth grade. Stacy, Ellen’s new friend and Callie’s rival, was someone I wanted to be in seventh grade. And Raven is me when I’m super cranky. (Though hopefully I do a better job keeping my crankiness to myself!)

V: Is there going to be a sequel to Seeing Cinderella or are you working on a new book at the moment?

J: At this time I have no plans to write a sequel, though one day I may write a book about Dr. Ingram (Callie’s optometrist/fairy godfather) helping another girl, though I suspect he won’t be an optometrist. Maybe a guidance counsellor? Currently, I’m revising my second novel, Plastic Polly, which comes out in Spring of 2013 and I’m having a blast with it.

V: Who or what was your biggest influence in becoming a writer?

J:
When I was younger I loved to write, but I bought into the lie that I wasn’t “creative enough” to be a writer, so I never pursued it. Then after my kids were born I felt like I needed to do something for me—something that didn’t involve dishes or dirty diapers. After thinking about it, and praying about it for a while, I decided the time was right to start writing. I still sometimes struggle with the “I’m not creative enough” lie, but I’ve discovered that a lot of times we have it backwards: we think we need to have a great idea before we start writing. When in fact, the opposite is true: if we sit down and start writing, eventually, the ideas will come.

V: What are some of your favourite books?

J: I’m a committed Harry Potter and Hunger Games fan. But I also like adult literary novels—Empire Falls by Richard Russo is my favorite. As for other middle grade novels I loved Thirteen by Candice Ransom, when I was in middle school. I recently read Solving Zoe by Barbara Dee and loved it. The list could go on and on.

V: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

J: I love to read. In fact, it’s a toss-up which I enjoy more: reading or writing. I never have to force myself to read (although I frequently have to force myself to stop reading). But nothing fulfils me like writing. I also love getting together with my Journey Girls—six of my soul sisters—and catching up with each other over a long dinner. Also, I love time with my husband and two sons.

V: What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors?

J: Keep writing, and don’t give up. Seeing Cinderella is my first published novel, but it’s the second one I’ve written. My first novel also took me a couple years to write and when it came down to it, it just wasn’t good enough for publication. I was thirty when I started writing my first novel, and by the time Seeing Cinderella releases, I’ll have turned thirty-six. I’m glad I didn’t know how long it would take to get published.


My other piece of advice is don’t compare yourself with other authors. Some authors publish in less than six years, for some it takes much longer. Every writer has their own unique journey to publication, and it will only discourage you to measure yourself by other’s paths.

V: Night owl or early bird?
J: Early bird, definitely. Having kids has pretty much forced me to become an early bird.

V: What are some of your favourite places to travel?
J:
I lived in Russia for a few months in Nizhny Novgorod when I was in college, and I miss it desperately. One day I’d like to take my husband there so he can see Moscow, Saint Petersberg, and Nizhny. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have to make a special stop in Hungary. We can drink tea and talk books! [I'm in, I'm SO in! ;-)]

V: Ebooks or paperback copies?
J: Paperbacks. At this point, I don’t own an e-reader.

V: Favourite films?
J: My all-time favorite film is Sleepless in Seattle. I’m pretty sure my husband is sick of watching it. And I’m so excited for the Hunger Games film to come out.

V: TV or Internet?
J: Internet. I watch very little TV. With the exception of Friday Night Lights, which I stream online.

V: Winter or summer?
J: I’ll go for Option C: Autumn. Northern California is beautiful in the fall. It’s by far my favorite time of the year.

Jenny, thank you so much for joining us today! I hope everyone will enjoy Seeing Cinderella just as much as I did. I’ve never been to the US before but I’m with you on the summer/winter debate: autumn and spring are the best. :-) And I’ll definitely keep an eye on your website because I have a feeling that Plastic Polly is going to be a great read!

If you’d like to win a copy of Jenny’s book, Seeing Cinderella and a pair of funky socks, head over to her website and make sure to enter! The contest runs through midnight 12/4 Pacific Standard Time.
Click here to enter