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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Twenty Questions with... Paul Gitsham

One of the things I love about Carina is the diversity of genres,; from romances to chick-lit to psychological thrillers and also crime fiction which leads me nicely onto today's guest.

In the #TwentyQuestions hotseat today is Paul Gitsham, author of The Last Straw: A DCI Warren Jones Novel released earlier this week by Carina (Harlequin UK), so please give him a warm welcome as we get underway...

ACT ONE – all about you…


I started my career as a biologist, pursuing my research in such exotic locales as Toronto and Manchester. Along the way I've also had jobs as a massively over-qualified receptionist in a sports centre and spent 6 months working for a major UK bank ensuring that global terrorists and other international ne'er do wells banned from holding UK bank accounts hadn't managed to circumvent global restrictions and open a Junior Savings Account. This was even less exciting than the job as a receptionist. 

Finally I saw the light and decided to pass on my hard-won laboratory skills, bad habits and wilful disregard for Health and Safety (*) to a new generation and retrained as a secondary school science teacher.  I now teach science to 11-18 year olds and creative writing to Sixth Form students.

(*) For legal reasons, I should point out that I take the Health and Well-being of my pupils extremely seriously and am proud to say that none of my pupils have ever suffered permanent disfigurement from one of my science lessons.

A keen writer from an early age, my year 6 report on leaving primary school said  "Keep up the writing and one day you'll be the next Roald Dahl". For the sake of balance, it should be pointed out that it also said, "you will never get anywhere in life if your hand-writing doesn't improve." 

Twenty five years later and my hand-writing has, if anything, deteriorated. On the plus side I am loved by millions of children around the world (*).

(*) This is a lie. Just ask any of the students I've taught.

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

Writing stories was always the best part of any English lesson and I started writing at a very young age. My first memories involve me trying to write the screenplay to E.T., when I was 5 or 6 years old. I was gutted when Mum said I couldn’t because somebody had already written it!

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

I’m not a great “plotter” – I just “open the bull**** tap and let it pour!”. Because I don’t get to write as often as I’d like, I’m lucky enough to have a headful of scenes all clamouring for my attention, and so I rarely suffer from writer’s block – I typically find myself trying to get down the scene that’s shouting loudest first!

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

I love the spare, understated prose of Lee Child. He twists and turns with little warning and isn’t afraid to sit back in the middle of an action scene and let the anticipation build.

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

Join a writers’ circle. Writing is a solo pursuit, but that doesn’t mean it should be done in isolation. Feedback, good and bad, is essential if you ever want your work to be enjoyed by other people.

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

I do almost all of my writing in public libraries and have a list of the opening times for all those within 20 miles of my house.

I lost my carefully crafted best-man’s speech 2 days before my mate’s wedding when my laptop died. I had to wing-it using a list of cryptic bullet-points… 

I am a proud geek! As a science teacher, it is entirely acceptable to wear a DNA helix tie, use Harry Potter to teach genetics (the wizarding allele is recessive) and slip references to Star Trek into A level biology lessons (Haemoglobin in human blood is red because it contains iron; Mr Spock’s blood is green because Vulcan haemoglobin contains copper).

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

My laptop – I hate writing long-hand

My smartphone – I use it to watch TV and surf the web more than my computer

My memory foam mattress cover! It’s soooo comfortable…

Cheese. ‘nuff said.

BBC Radio 4 – I measure the length of long car journeys by the number of times I hear the pips; and nothing sends me to sleep faster than streaming a documentary on the Bank of England’s strategy for Quantitative Easing using iPlayer!


ACT TWO – all about your new release…


A DCI Warren Jones novel - Book 1 
When Professor Alan Tunbridge is discovered in his office with his throat slashed, the suspects start queuing up. The brilliant but unpleasant microbiologist had a genius for making enemies.
For Warren Jones, newly appointed Detective Chief Inspector to the Middlesbury force, a high-profile murder is the ideal opportunity. He’s determined to run a thorough and professional investigation but political pressure to resolve the case quickly and tensions in the office and at home make life anything but easy.
Everything seems to point to one vengeful man but the financial potential of the professor’s pioneering research takes the inquiry in an intriguing and, for Jones and his team, dangerous direction.

7) Congratulations on your recent release of The Last Straw, what was your inspiration for writing DCI Warren Jones’ story?

Well first of all, I would just like to state categorically, for the record, so there can be no mistake… the story about murdering a university Professor, was not inspired by my own experience as a PhD student – my professor was lovely! That being said, during my years in academia I both witnessed and heard about some pretty shocking behaviour and so it perhaps isn’t entirely surprising that my first novel takes place in such an environment! Add to that the fact that I’d always dreamt of writing a mystery novel ever since I started reading Enid Blyton and The Hardy Boys as a young child and it was almost inevitable! 

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

The great thing about detective stories is you can write yourself into a corner and then spend ages banging your head against the wall trying to find a plausible way back out – to date I have yet to find a situation that I’ve had to give up on, but I’m sure it will happen!

9) I see The Last Straw is your debut, how long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

I started writing it Easter 2011. I finished the first draft November of that year. I then wrote another complete book in the series whilst I drafted and re-drafted book one, before taking the plunge. My best friend bought me the Artists & Writers’ Handbook for my birthday and I started submitting to agents – still no luck by the way, if anybody is interested… - finally CarinaUK picked me up in June 2013.

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?
Blood. 
Everywhere. Across the walls, over the desk, even splattered on the glowing laptop computer. The human heart is a powerful, muscular pump and a cut artery bleeds out in seconds, spraying red, freshly oxygenated blood across the room like a fire hose.
Tom Spencer removes his gloved hands from the dead man’s throat and rubs them down the front of his lab coat, leaving bloody trails across his chest. Hands shaking, he picks up the blood- covered telephone and presses 9 for an outside line, followed by another three 9s.
“You are through to the emergency services. Which service do you require?”
Spencer’s voice is shaky, his breathing rapid. “Police. There’s been a murder.”
11) Over to you, what can you tell us about The Last Straw, to make us rush out and buy it?

If you like a detective who is as human as the rest of us; who sometimes feels out of his depth and who favours bad 80s music over high-brow classical or existential jazz, then DCI Warren Jones is your man. If you like your mystery stories with a satisfyingly complex plot, interesting and quirky characters and procedural authenticity, then the DCI Warren Jones series will be for you. If you want an insight into the sexual jealousy, treachery and skulduggery that boils beneath the genteel surface of a university department, then The Last Straw is the book for you.

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now? 

The second title in the series is with the editors as we speak and number three is well under way. DCI Warren Jones has plenty more tales in him yet!


QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…


13) Plotter or pantser?

Mostly Pantster

14) Digital books or print books?

Print mostly, but I am enjoying the convenience of my Kindle and the ability to sync to my phone for when I find myself with nothing to do and I’m too far away from my bedside table.

15) Tea or coffee?

Decaff coffee – milk no sugar, thanks. Any chance of a custard cream?

16) Extrovert or introvert?

*I* think I can be a bit of an introvert – anybody stuck in close proximity to me would probably disagree.

17) Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook

18) Christmas or birthday? 

Christmas – everybody’s celebrating, not just you!

19) Morning person or night owl?

Night Owl – even though my alarm clock goes off at 5:30 and I have to leave for school at 6:30 L

20) Sweet or savoury?

Savoury

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Paul, I wish you every success with your new release.

To discover even more about Paul Gitsham, and to keep up with his latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit him at: www.paulgitsham.com , follow him on twitter @dcijoneswriter or like his Facebook page www.facebook.com/dcijones

Buy it now…


Add to Goodreads
ISBN: 9781472094698
Release date: 24 March 2014

Carina UK
Amazon UK / US
Nook UK / B&N
Kobo
iBookstore
Google

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Twenty Questions with... Reet Singh

I had the pleasure of 'meeting' todays' #TwentyQuestions guest in an author group on Facebook so I am delighted to be able to introduce you all to Reet Singh, author of Scorched by His Fire released last month by Harlequin India...

ACT ONE – all about you…


Reet Singh, a medical professional, has a romantic soul. Most of it is probably inherited from parents who have loved each other dearly forever, but a lot is attributable to the romantic fiction she devours by the kilo. When she's not doctoring people, and when she is not writing, she watches romantic comedies, does creative things with wool and a crochet hook, or struggles with the daily crossword or with online Scrabble. 

Occasionally, she can be found in the kitchen putting together her 'world-famous' one-pot meals – world famous because family scattered all across the face of the earth has, at one point or the other in their lives, encountered a meal that they couldn't guess the constituents of, but found finger-licking good nevertheless. 

Married for nearly three decades, her tall, handsome, and sensitive alpha-husband still makes her heart skip a beat. Writing about love and happy endings feeds her romantic soul and brings to a full circle her love affair with romances, from reading them ardently to writing them. 


1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

Aurelia, I'm delighted to be here; thank you!

I have always been a story-teller, in the nicest sense of course! I was sandwiched between a younger sibling who needed entertaining, and an older sibling who had directorial qualities. We ended up enacting make believe stories, and so it was inevitable, I suppose, that I would someday write.

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

Linear writing, that's what works for me. I tried, with my second romance -  tentatively called 'One Memorable Night in His Bed' - to do some scene structuring, but I floundered, because I could never predict what my characters would do two chapters down the line! Extremely slippery main characters can be sometimes. Even with book one -Scorched by His Fire - once I had fleshed out Mita and Tanay, they took over; for example, I had not planned for a detour to Dubai, but M & T wanted some fun, so off they went before I could say no! That brought home to me that I had better stick to linear writing and not write in bits and pieces, because in the end the pieces mightn't fit. I start from the beginning and carry on stoically to the end. 

As far as ritual is concerned, I have to finish everything, every other chore, before I can sit down and write, so writing is usually the last thing I do every night. I follow this ritual until the deadline is so close I can feel its hot breath on the back of my neck - then I ignore everything else and only write!

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

I adore PG Wodehouse, Victoria Holt, Georgette Heyer, and Margaret Way, each excelling with their own unique style. I really wouldn't be surprised if they have surreptitiously crept into my writing.

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?
“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ― Anton Chekhov 
Show, don't tell! This is one mantra of good writing that I struggle to obey because it makes perfect sense. The reader has to invest something to stay interested even in a good story; you engage better with your reader if you 'show' her by painting a picture with your words, thereby letting her interpret scenes in her own way.

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

Ha, I sure can!

1. I am a medical teacher and I love interacting with and growing because of my students. The questions that students ask are incredible tools for my own learning!

2. I have nominal aphasia, which literally means I forget names of people and objects. For inanimate objects, I can get by by saying 'thingy'. As far as animate objects are concerned, people are often compelled to throw thingies at me when I forget people's names (a teensy bit of an exaggeration here, but what the heck - literary license!)

3. I have an irreverent fondness for the ridiculous that sometimes results in foot-in-the-mouth disease!

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

My Dell laptop with its internet dongle; cellphone with its whatsapp; the microwave oven; my Kindle White; my my-time (you did say 'luxury' item!)


ACT TWO – all about your new release…

.
Convenient boyfriend, inconvenient attraction!
Mita Ramphul can’t face another family set-up with a ‘nice young man’. What she needs is to divert her family’s attention… so introducing the devastatingly handsome Tanay Devkumar as her new boyfriend is a stroke of brilliance! Until Tanay’s blazing hot kisses threaten to shatter her plans for the perfect pretend date… 
He might drive her crazy, yet spending time with Tanay sparks a passion Mita never knew she had. It’s only meant to be temporary, but when Tanay looks at her with that smouldering fire in his ebony eyes, Mita can’t help but surrender to the temptation of her fake boyfriend…!

7) Congratulations on your recent release of Scorched by His Fire; what was your inspiration for writing Mita and Tanay's story?

Thank you Aurelia! I've always enjoyed reading about tempestuous heroines and the brave, strong men who cannot resist them. Naturally then, Mita and Tanay had to be true to that. A work-related trip to Mauritius; a chance encounter with the tail end of a cyclone; a news story about Kolkata – these inspired the settings for Mita and Tanay to first resist, and then succumb to, the scorching fire of love!

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

Some days the words just flew off the keyboard. When they didn't, I would have a little chat with Mita and Tanay before I went to bed; that helped! What also helped was that I worked away inside my head during the long commute to and from work, so that by the time I got home, I would have enough to type up a storm.

9) I see Scorched by His Fire is your debut; how long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

I started writing it with the long-term goal to send it in some day to Harlequin®; but then, suddenly, Harlequin® India announced their 'Passions' contest for romance writers from India. I sent in an excerpt, was short listed in the final five, and finally won the contest. What followed was a fairytale two-book contract!

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?

Sure! 
“For  a  moment an  angry  pair  of  eyes  duelled  with  a  cruelly  determined pair. Mita’s heart thundered in her rib cage. For the tiniest moment she felt fear. Tanay could hurt her if he wished. But he didn’t; he broke eye contact, his gaze drawn to her mouth where a pink tongue had emerged to moisten lips  that  were  suddenly  dry.  As  his  eyes  followed  the movement of her tongue, Mita felt her breath catch. She  felt  exquisitely  sensitive;  to  the  feel  of  her  breasts crushed against hard muscle; to his minty breath, warm on her face; the masculine scent of his skin; his ebony eyes, hooded now, but speculative a second ago. 
Tanay was every bit as captivated as Mita. What was it about this woman that got under his skin? He only had to touch her for him to forget his resolve to teach her a lesson. He drew in a sharp breath of air, and drew back, regretfully letting go of her.”

11) Over to you, what can you tell us about Scorched by His Fire, to make us rush out and buy it?

I'll let reader reviews do the talking; my particular favourites are up on Goodreads:
“A modern Lucy Walker - (Ms Walker piqued our interest in Australia) - Reet Singh wants us to see Mauritius as she sees it. The story line is gripping and you cannot put down the book till the last page is read.”
 and
“Set in balmy Mauritius, Reet gives us a wonderful bird’s view of life on the island and skillfully weaves in different and scenic locations that immediately pulled this reader in. And the lead characters’ interactions from the opening scene are, to say the least, explosive. Tanay and Mita do not get along at all, and yet are thrown together through very interesting circumstances.”

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now?

My second romance for Harlequin® India is about a quarter done; I've tentatively called it ' One Memorable Night in His Bed'. Simi, an almost-ready-to-graduate medical student from India, and Rudy, a surgeon, meet up in New York, and carry the sparks-that-fly all the way to India. I'm excited about this one too and hope to have it on bookshelves later this year.


QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…


13) Plotter or pantser?

Pantser; I seriously tried my hand at plotting for book two, but was all at sea; also, I felt that  it would involve a ton of editing later, so went back to living life on the edge!

14) Digital books or print books?

Print books, but am rapidly falling in love with digital. Did I mention I have published one of each? My Kindle Direct book is The Zaken Takeover. It is all about aliens and abductions and is understandably for children, although adults looking for a short read may also try it.

15) Tea or coffee?

Tea first thing when I wake; coffee (only if it is Indian filter coffee) for elevenses.

16) Extrovert or introvert?

Extrovert.

17) Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook; I still don't get how twitter works, although I'm a twitterati too.

18) Christmas or birthday?

Birthdays.

19) Morning person or night owl?

Morning, any day!

20) Sweet or savoury? 

Sweet, definitely, but don't tell my dentist!

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Reet; I wish you every success with your new release.

To discover even more about Reet Singh, and to keep up with her latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit her at http://reetsingh.in.

She would love to hear from you, so write in at reetsingh.author@gmail.com or tweet to her at @AuthorReet.


Buy it now…


Add to Goodreads
ISBN: 9789351063742
Released: 1 February 2014

HQN India
Amazon India
Flipkart
Crossword
Infibeam

(not yet available internationally)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Price drop... Popping the Cherry **JUST 59p/99c**

So this happened over the weekend!


Since then, the price has gone down even more in the UK! o_O

Yes, you can now snap up a copy of Popping the Cherry, book 1 in my YA/NA series, for the princely sum of just 59p in the UK and only 99c in the US. Oh, and it's €1-ish for my Irish and other European contingent.

Crazy!

The promotion is across most major ebook retailers including Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Nook UK, Google Books and more. You can find all of the links HERE.

The blurb...



Click here for book trailer
You only get one first time...

From driving tests to relationships, Valentina Bell thinks she's a failure, with a big fat capital F. At this rate, she's certain she'll be a virgin forever. So Lena's friends plan Operation: Popping the Cherry to help her find the perfect first time.

Yet somehow disastrous dates with bad boy musicians and fabulous evenings with secretly in-the-closet guys aren't quite working out how Lena planned.

Soon Lena's avoiding Operation: Popping the Cherry to spend time with comforting, aloof Jake, her best friend's older brother ,who doesn't make her feel self-conscious about still clinging to her V card. But could Jake show Lena that sometimes what you're looking for most is right by your side?

A Forever for the twenty-first century

Popping the Cherry




Thursday, 13 March 2014

Twenty Questions with... Stina Lindenblatt

For today's round of #TwentyQuestions, I am delighted to welcome Stina Lindenblatt onto my blog, author of Tell Me When released earlier this year by Carina Press (kind of like the big sister of my own publisher, I guess).

Since my deadline is hanging over me like a ticking time bomb, I shall jump straight in with the questions...

ACT ONE – all about you…


Stina Lindenblatt writes New Adult contemporary romances and currently lives in Calgary with her husband and three kids. When she isn’t writing or lost in a romance novel, Stina loves to spend her free time behind the camera lens. She’s also a contributing blogger on the Querytracker blog.


1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old, but I didn’t start officially writing stories until I left my job as a pharmaceutical drug rep to become a stay-at-home mom. 

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

I don’t have any exciting rituals. Hmmm. This probably means I need to start some. I do turn off the Internet whenever possible (i.e. when the kids aren’t home) to avoid the temptation of playing around on it. I’m very easily distracted.

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

Yes and no. There are a lot of YA and NA authors I love, both because of their writing and their stories. One of my favorite authors is Katie McGarry. When I wrote Tell Me When, I wanted to write a story that touched readers the same way Pushing The Limits affected me. That book makes me cry every time I read it.

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

Read. Read. Read. And never stop challenging yourself to do better. Both would explain my overstuffed bookshelves, especially when it comes to books that deal with the craft of writing.

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

I’m originally from England but now live in Canada. I’ve also lived in the US and Finland. I have a Master’s of Science in exercise physiology and a Physical Education degree. Oddly enough, the one class I almost failed in high school was physical education. 

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

My MacBook Air (I love using Scrivener on it). My iPod Touch. I use it for music and ebooks. And that’s about it. 


ACT TWO – all about your new release…


Amber Scott should be enjoying life as a college freshman. She should be pursuing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She should be working hard to make sense of her precalculus math class.
She shouldn’t be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn’t be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn’t be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.
But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she’ll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she’d never be able to again.
When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her—and Amber is determined to protect Marcus…even if that means pushing him away.

7) Congratulations on your recent release of Tell Me When, what was your inspiration for writing the story?

I was stalked while in university. When I decided to write a New Adult story, I knew I wanted to write about stalking since it’s common problem for high school and college students.

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

Once I realized the story was about a girl trying to reclaim her life after she had been stalked and kidnapped in high school, the story came fairly easily to me. 

9) I see Tell Me When is your debut, how long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

It took about eight months from the time I came up with the idea for the story to when Carina Press offered the two-book contract. Considering it used to take me a year to write a book before I’d start querying it, eight months was fast for me.

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?
I continue kissing him and feel something stir deep. I quickly stamp it down as I pull away. A subtle taste of victory courses through me.  My experiment, a success.
11) Over to you, what can you tell us about Tell Me When, to make us rush out and buy it?

The book has been described as a beautiful, heartbreaking story. It deals with tough subject matter, some of which hasn’t been addressed in New Adult stories before now. I can’t say what it is because it’s a major plot point. All the reviewers have avoided mentioning it directly, but it is part of the story that has touched them the most.

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now? 

Let Me Know is the sequel to Tell Me When. It’s scheduled to be released September 1st. Tell Me When is a standalone novel, but there were some lose threads at the end of it and Carina Press asked me to write a sequel. 

I’m also working on another New Adult contemporary romance tentatively titled Heat It Up. It was inspired by my time in Finland when I was in university. I’ll be sending it to my agent soon.


QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…


13) Plotter or pantser?

Plotter

14) Digital books or print books?

Both, but mostly digital.

15) Tea or coffee?

Neither. I’m not a fan of hot drinks. Diet Dr. Pepper is my fav.

16) Extrovert or introvert?

Introvert

17) Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter

18) Christmas or birthday? 

Christmas

19) Morning person or night owl?

Morning person

20) Sweet or savoury?

Depends on my mood. 

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Stina, I wish you every success with your new release.

To discover even more about Stina Lindenblatt, and to keep up with her latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit her at:

Website/blog     Facebook     Twitter     Pinterest


Buy it now…


Add to Goodreads

ISBN: 9781426897887
Released: 20th January 2014

Carina Press
Amazon UK / US
Nook UK / US
Kobo
iTunes


Excerpt…


He shrugs. “Our relationship only lasted the summer, but I quickly discovered that plenty of girls wanted to have sex with me. I was fine with that.” He looks back at me. “I was fine with that till I met you. You’re the only girl who makes me feel something.”

“Me? I haven’t had sex with you.”

Pain flickers on his face for a brief second. I can tell he’s thinking back to the night he almost tried to take things that far. “No, but just holding you makes me feel alive. This makes me feel alive.” He lowers his lips to mine and lightly kisses my mouth. 

His smell, a combination of safety and spice, wraps me in a comforting cocoon. He makes me feel alive.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Twenty Questions with... Karin Dixon and Gary Twynam

I am actually rather excited about today's guest, you see it's my first time interviewing a writing duo! Yes, I have not one but two people foolish enough to chomping at the bit to take part in today's round of #TwentyQuestions although I think I'm going to need a bigger hotseat.

Without further ado, please welcome today's guests, Karin Dixon and Gary Twynam, the writing duo behind Farewell Trip released in December by Carina UK.

ACT ONE – all about you…


Karin: goodness, condensing two lives into one answer, that's a tall order (mine's a g&t, since you're asking). Well, I guess the salient points are:

We've both been married for ages, just not to each other.
Gary Twynam and Karin Dixon

We're both 51.

I have three children and Gary has none.

I'm a bit chick

He's a bit lit.

And (this is important), we both like Neil Diamond.



1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

Karin: Ha – well, that’s easy. We’re not full time writers and have mostly spent our lives in more or less gainful employment. Gary is a self-employed training consultant, though he does seem to get side-tracked rather a lot. He’s been writing for years – poetry, short stories, a book about gambling. He hasn’t admitted to writing any novels, well not to me anyway.

I used to work in Public Health, but am retiring through ill health. Like the hero of our book, I’ve got terminal cancer. Weird, huh? We had no idea until the book was finished. I have a bit more time to write now, as well as watching loads of old cowboy movies. There is something so very wonderful about men in leather chaps quick drawing and spinning their revolvers, before thudding them back into the holsters with emphasis, all the while holding the gaze of the Baddy without blinking.


2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

Gary: I still write most of my stuff out longhand first. I think it's the poet in me. I'm very particular about notebooks and pens as well. I like narrow squared paper for prose and A4 moleskine for poetry. Pens have to be signo uni-ball 0.7s, otherwise I use properly sharpened pencils. I also prefer to be away from any internet access in front of a window with a view. Otherwise, I'm not fussed.

Karin: Laptop. Anywhere.

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

Gary: TS Eliot was responsible for me giving up writing in my twenties, unable to cope with being so inferior. We joke about him in our novel. The idea for Farewell Trip was definitely inspired by David Nicholls's One Day. That said, Karin never read it, despite constant badgering.

Karin: I watched the film! Honestly, you do go on.

Anyway, influences? Much to Gazza’s dismay, I am very fond of Saint Nora Roberts (although I did find her last few novels disappointing and am even more disappointed to have to say so). Like we said up there↑↑, I’m a little bit chick and he’s a little bit lit. A lot lit actually, you should see his study – lined with about a billion books and they’re ‘proper’ books, not like my collections of Nora, Suzanne Brockmann and Lee Childs.


4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

Gary: Serious gamblers have a mantra that's useful for writers I think. When you're winning you're never as good as you think you are and when you're losing you’re never as bad as you think you are.

Karin: God, I hate you sometimes, always ready with le mot juste. 

Me? I suppose I am quite fond of saying keep on keeping on, seems to fit so many situations.


5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

Gary: I always order the house wine in restaurants, I'll only play Monopoly if I can be the ship, and I can't drive.

Karin: Is there a ship in Monopoly? I always go for the boot myself.

I spent one Christmas Eve in Canada entertaining 6 fire fighters by swearing in my English accent, my son beat me at Scrabble for the first time this year (curses), my favourite treat is a Chelsea Bun from the divine bakery near me, Mark's Bread


6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

Gary: One for Karin.

Karin: Cheeky monkey.
Let me think.
.
1) My Burmese cat, Beau. He keeps my feet warm in the most freezing of weather. Plus, he thinks he's really really clever, as you can see.

2) ….. I just asked my husband and he told me “Nothing. You want for nothing – you have me” That might actually be true as I can’t think of anything else.



ACT TWO – all about your new release…


“That was the first time in my life I was happy…the happiest I ever would be. And I never told you.”
There’s always one moment in life that passes without you saying what you really wanted – needed – to. For Ruth that day came after the death of her beloved husband Trip.
She and Trip had fitted together perfectly, right from the very start, and their marriage was filled with love, happiness and travel. Determined to leave nothing unspoken, Trip has left ten letters, taking Ruth on one last adventure - scattering his ashes in ten locations that have meaning for them both. 
The letters take her on a journey across the world, but also back through her marriage, and the life she thought they had shared.
They had been so happy. Hadn’t they? 
At once heart-breaking and uplifting…prepare to smile through your tears. Farewell Trip is a must read.
Praise for Karin Dixon and Gary Twynam
‘A lovely, warm and affectionate read that I devoured in one sitting’ – Bleach House Library

7) Congratulations on your recent release of Farewell Trip, what was your inspiration for writing Trip and Ruth's story?

Gary: We wanted to write a novel that went beyond the usual ending “They lived happily ever after”. It occurred to us that neither of us had read a book about long-term marriage. One that took a long hard look at what it takes to make a happy relationship in today’s world.

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

Karin: Gary wrote the first chapter but felt he couldn’t get Ruth’s voice right. One night he suggested I had a go at writing her part. So that’s roughly what we did – the story was organic. Gary had an idea as to what the letters would be about, (how they met, faith, children, sex, work, etc.) but they were written in order, and each subsequent one was shaped from Ruth’s reaction to the previous one. This means there are bits in it that were as much a surprise to us as they are to the readers.

9) I see Farewell Trip is your debut, how long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

Karin: Gary has thrown his hands up in horror at having to work that out and left it to me. Hmph.

The book took about 18 months till we considered it finished, but we didn’t write constantly, it was in fits and starts, long gaps in between the chapters when life got in the way. Then we did the whole trying to get an agent thing, without success and with lots of disappointments. For reasons known only to themselves, two of our lovely friends took on the mantle of champions for Farewell Trip and through them, we got a contact with Carina UK. Having sent off the first three chapters, we turned our eyes to other matters, expecting any reply to take months. A couple of weeks later, we got the call!


10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?

Karin: I like this bit. Ruth having a rant about a well known bridge in Paris 
I'd forgotten the padlocks though. They weren't here when we first came. How could they have slipped my mind? There are hundreds of them, thousands. What a blight. Thousands of bloody padlocks ruining a perfectly nice bridge. Love-locks. What a load of crock.How many couples have come here to do this? To leave a pathetic token of their 'love'.
And what are they all hoping to prove by this gesture? That they'll be together forever and ever? That their love will last as long as the lock? Great metaphor, a bit of metal rusting away on a bridge to nowhere. How many of the couples who came here ten years ago, five years ago, even two years ago, are still together?
Well, it won't help them. You don't make your love last forever by making silly little vows and painting hearts on a sodding padlock. You don't do it by snogging in public on a Parisian bridge. You do it by getting on with life. You do it by living together, by sharing everything, by putting up and shutting up.
And here's a picture of those very locks...


11) Over to you, what can you tell us about Farewell Trip to make us rush out and buy it?

Gary: I like this review on Amazon.com
"The writing is crisp, the humour is classy, the voices are clear and the story is compelling. If you liked 'One Day' or 'PS, I Love You' or 'Love Story' or 'Dangerous Liaisons' you will like this."
Karin: Well, I just want to say it's totally brilliant and more people should read it! Luckily, they don't need to rush out anywhere because they can just get online. I do like this bit of a review though:
"Something that could have been awkward and overly sentimental actually had that bit of grit that keeps you reading. Good strong and realistic dialogue between Ruth and Trip, even if one of them was dead!"
12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now?

Karin: We’re working on a light-hearted “crime” series based in Bristol, with alternating chapters, Gary writing the part of the hero and me, the heroine. It’s a lot of fun to write and will involve car chases and a gangster or two.

Gary has also written a book about relocating from London to Shropshire, and one of my novels that I wrote as part of NaNoWriMo has been optioned by Carina.



QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…


13) Plotter or pantser?

Gary: Boxer shorts.
Karin: Matching vest and pants

14) Digital books or print books?

Gary: Print. (Oops, sorry Carina)
Karin: Me too, every time.

15) Tea or coffee?

Gary: Coffee
Karin: Tea

16) Extrovert or introvert?

Gary: Depends on the personality test. I'd say extrovert.
Karin: Extrovert

17) Facebook or Twitter?

Gary: Facebook
Karin: Yep, me too.

18) Christmas or birthday?

Gary: Neither
Karin: I am surprised to find that I feel much the same. I do like presents, but they're better unattached to a specific occasion.

19) Morning person or night owl?

Gary: Something of the night.
Karin: Lunchtime, please.

20) Sweet or savoury?

Gary: Red wine.
Karin: Both, of course. Plus the red wine.

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Karin and Gary, it has been an absolute blast! I wish you every success with Farewell Trip and cannot wait to see what you come out with next.

To discover even more about today's writing duo, and to keep up with their latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit them at:

Facebook     Gary Twynam


Buy it now…


Add to Goodreads
ISBN: 9781472074256
Released: 17th December 2013

Amazon UK / US
Nook UK / US (B&N)


Excerpt…


(An excerpt from Trip's second letter to Ruth)

I remember the first time I said “I love you”. You've spent most of your life trying to erase it from your memory. Our final year at Lampeter; our moment in the spotlight as the director and star of Fiddler on the Roof, which even now seems a startlingly original version. What with the Russian Jews becoming teepee-dwelling hippies in Wales. And all the male parts being played by women and vice versa. And you were great in the Topol role. I loved “If I Were a Rich Girl”. All those lyrical changes we had to make. You were brilliant at all that. And managed to offend just about everyone.

We poured ourselves into that for weeks, didn't we? All for one glorious night, capped by a wonderfully improvised climax. When the Fiddler fell off the Roof.

Once we were sure I hadn't broken any bones and the curtain had come down on us, literally, we were the only ones left. You were tending to me.

“You know" I said, "if we ever make another musical together...”

“Promise me, we won't.”

“Well, if we ever do, there's gonna be a few changes.”

“Like what?”

“No sheep, for starters.” We laughed. Well, I laughed. You had tears in your eyes. ”You know, Ruthie, it really wasn't that bad. No-one walked out. They laughed all the way through. In the wrong places, admittedly. But you were great. Really. I was so proud”

And then I said it. First time ever. To anyone.