Welcome To My Blog

Book reviews ... Author interviews ... and anything else I think might be of interest to writers and readers.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Cally Taylor - Heaven Can Wait

It's Halloween - and what could be better than curling up with a supernatural romantic comedy!

I've posted a review of Heaven Can Wait on Bookersatz - so zoom over on your broomstick to find out what I thought about it.

And if you haven't already bought a copy - today's the day!

Happy Halloween.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Heaven Can Wait Blog Tour

The wonderful Cally Taylor has a new novel out at the moment. It’s called Heaven Can Wait and is available in the shops and also via Amazon – there’s a link in my side bar if you want to make it really easy for yourself!

I read a review copy of Heaven Can Wait a while ago and absolutely loved it. I’ll be posting a review of it on Bookersatz in the next few days, but meanwhile Cally popped over and was kind enough to answer some slightly strange questions put to her by the cats. Trust me, David Dimbleby has nothing on this lot.

Tabitha said: So, Cally, we’re cats and we can’t actually read – but Mummy tells us that lots of her blog readers will be interested in hearing about your new novel. Tell us what it’s all about ?

Hello cats, lovely to meet you. Please don’t think I’m rude for not shaking your paws, I’m allergic to you! If it’s okay I’ll just stand here while you rub around my legs, looking confused.

Anyway, yes, my novel. It’s called “Heaven Can Wait” and it’s about a woman called Lucy Brown who dies the night before her wedding. She ends up in Limbo with a very nice saint called Saint Bob (who looks a lot like Bob Hoskins). Saint Bob gives Lucy the choice – she can either go up to heaven to see her parents or return to earth as a ghost to be with her fiancé Dan. But there’s a catch! If Lucy wants to be reunited with Dan she has to find love for a total stranger in twenty-one days. And if that’s not bad enough she soon discovers that her ex-best-friend Anna is making a move on Dan...

Jasper added: If we could read, we’d definitely read your book. What do you think we – or your human readers – would particularly like about it?

It’s a light-hearted, romantic book with a mixture of laugh-out-loud (hopefully) scenes and more poignant moments that have been known to make people cry. Most people who’ve read the book have sped through it in hours – even people who claim they ‘don’t read fiction’ (I know cats, shocking isn’t it!) – so it’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t want a heavy, weighty read and fancies being entertained for a few hours instead.

Cookie Crumble had another question:
We know a fair bit about the supernatural, being cats, why did you choose this as your theme?

I didn’t make an active decision to write a supernatural novel – the idea just came to me and I had to write it! I do love all things supernatural though. I’m a big fan of TV programmes like Buffy, Angel, Heroes and True Blood and films like Ghost and Just Like Heaven and I think being fascinated by your subject matter helps motivate you when you’re writing a novel.

Minty wondered: What do you like best – tuna or sardines?

I like both of them but tuna is definitely my favourite. Tuna mayo on a jacket potato. Yum!

Minty added: Mmmm, we’re not so sure about potatoes, but tuna is a good decision.

Are there any cats in Heaven Can Wait? Tabitha was eager to know.

There’s one on the cover which is a bit weird because there isn’t actually a cat in Lucy and Dan’s house or in the House of Wannabe Ghosts! Maybe it’s a wannabe ghost cat? I do mention Lucy’s Mum and Dad’s cat but it doesn’t get a starring role I’m afraid.

We understand that you’re writing a new novel now. Does that have any cats in it? What does it have in it?

Nope, there are no cats in my second novel. Oh no – now I’m worrying there aren’t enough cats in my novels! The second novel has guardian angels in it but they don’t have wings so you probably wouldn’t want to catch them and bring them into the house as a gift for your Mummy. They’re pretty rubbish guardian angels too and keep messing things up for the people they’re supposed to be helping.

According to Mummy, your neighbour has cats. Are they as cute as us?

Mummy’s right! My neighbour has two cats I like to call Angel and Devil. Devil is mottled in colour and really skittish. After he moved in he decided that his favourite place to wee was behind the front door. That was a bit smelly and inconvenient, particularly when I went to answer the door to the postman in my bare feet and didn’t notice the puddle! Luckily he’s stopped now but he’s still very scared of people and gives me evil looks when he sees me in the hallway.
Devil’s brother Angel is a ginger cat with psychic ability (or just very good hearing). Whenever I go into the garden Angel comes to join me. He’s a very friendly cat and likes lots of attention and stroking. I have been known to stroke him and to hell with my allergy!

Jasper said: Don’t worry chaps, they definitely don’t sound as cute as us.

Minty had another question:
Would you ever consider writing a novel that was just about cats?

Maybe. If I did they’d have to talk like humans otherwise the story could get a bit confusing if I used actual cat language:
“Miaow,” said Harold as he slunk across the living room towards Maude.
“Miaow,” said Maude.
“Miaow, miaow, miaow,” said Harold.
Maude thought that was the funniest thing she’d ever heard.
“Miaow!” she said.

Actually that makes purrfect sense to us,
Cookie said.

We hope that all of Mummy’s blog readers will go out and buy your novel now. You seem very nice, would you like to come out catching mice with us some time?

Thank you very much for calling me nice. That’s very sweet of you. I’d love to go mice catching with you, but I’m not carrying them home in my mouth.

Tabitha said:
On behalf of all of us cats, I’d just like to thank Cally for visiting our blog and answering all our incisive questions.

And this is a photo of us eating our dinner. We really are exceptionally cute aren't we?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Heaven Can Wait

But you don't have to any more.

Cally Taylor's amazing debut novel - Heaven Can Wait - is published today!

I read it a while ago, and I can tell you - it's absolutely brilliant. Touching, warm, funny and believable.

I'll be doing a proper review for Bookersatz soon, but meanwhile, you don't need to know what I think! Read it yourselves. I've even put an Amazon link in my sidebar to make it easy for you.

Cally will be on this very blog next week being interviewed by my cats, so please don't miss that. They'll be talking about fish, catching mice and possibly even Cally's novel.

You can also pop over to Cally's website to find out about an amazing competition she's running to coincide with the launch.

Cally's blog was one of the first writing blogs that I started to read when I started writing and set up this blog. Now, I'm just so, so pleased for her today and so proud to know her and (to be honest) a bit emotional. Cally - congratulations you total star!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Review of 'One Apple Tasted'

I've just posted my review of 'One Apple Tasted' by Josa Young on Bookersatz. This is a great novel and I highly recommend it. Please also see my interview with Josa in the post below if you haven't already.

As always, I'm on the lookout for more reviews for Bookersatz. If you feel like contributing please get in touch. The more, the merrier!

As some of you know, I haven't been feeling very well recently and I discovered yesterday that I have gall stones. While this isn't particularly pleasant, it's much less frightening than some of the other possibilities and does at least explain some of the really nasty symptoms I've had recently. I'm treating it as a bit of a wake-up call healthwise and a start to a whole new healthy lifestyle. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Josa Young – Author of ‘One Apple Tasted’

‘One Apple Tasted’ is the great new novel from Josa Young.

For Dora Jerusalem, fresh out of Cambridge with a head full of Victorian novels and romantic dreams, landing a job at Modern Woman magazine seems like amazing luck. But her sheltered background hadn't prepared her to resist the charms of rich, spoilt kids with nasty habits and nothing to lose. Inevitably she falls in love with art dealer Guy Boleyn, but it isn't the right time, place or circumstances for either of them. And all the while a long-buried secret lies in wait to booby-trap any attempt at happiness. Kicking off in 1980s London, One Apple Tasted traces one girl's attempts to be married in the modern world.

You can read more about ‘One Apple Tasted’ here.

And I’ll be posting a review on Bookersatz at the weekend.

Meanwhile, I asked Josa a few questions about writing.

What was your first inspiration to write?

Fairies. At age 5ish. I could write before I could read fluently, and wrote illustrated stories of mind-numbing tediosity (I imagine). But I was quite persuasive in my conviction that when I was 99 I would turn into a fairy (confused about death I think, and angels) and that my shoulder blades were incipient wings. An ultra-tough, tomboy school friend, who claimed to have been born up a tree in Africa, was eventually induced to admit she was a fairy too.

‘One Apple Tasted’ had a rather circuitous route to publication. What do you think was the most important factor in the journey?

My faith in the story. The world is full of unpublished novelists. I was one of them for years but without letting this prevent me from doing lots of other things. I had written several other fictions, but somehow I kept faith with OAT, as so many people read it and enjoyed it in manuscript form – including my first agent. I never gave up on it – unlike other unfinished work.

Place and Time are obviously important in your novel. Why 1980’s London?

1980s London was hilarious fun. We had an absolute ball. It was all incredibly creative, with ideas and style exploding in all directions. I was working at Vogue, going to masses of parties, doing everything on a shoestring, learning about editorial and magazines, clubbing in Soho and dragging my friends around with me everywhere. Lawrence Mynott, who did the cover for OAT, agrees with me that the 1980s was a great decade in which to come of age. I even had a mullet.... But OAT ranges through time as well, going back to WWII and coming up to the present day.

Your main character studied at Cambridge, and so did you. This must have been an important formative experience for you. What were the highlights?

Cambridge was a mixed experience for me. After 10 years of single sex boarding school I was determined to have fun, as well as studying Eng Lit, which was and is a passion. My last year was overshadowed by the suicide of a friend in the long vac – in those days there were no counsellors to help you make sense of things like that. It was vital to keep up a kind of rubbery resilience in order to survive in that wildly competitive atmosphere, laced with sexism and sprinkled with stardust, but I found it difficult towards the end.

How does being a novelist compare to being a magazine journalist?

Being a magazine (and newspaper) journalist is what I did for a living – it involved going into an office and managing people, as well as writing and commissioning. Being a novelist is something I have had to tuck into the corners of my life. My dream is to write fiction full time, and I visualise being a novelist as being able to write and research (both by travelling and in libraries) all the time – at home and elsewhere – which would be bliss.

You’ve had experience of editing as well as writing in your journalistic career, and this must have been helpful in editing the novel. What advice would you give to writers on editing their own work?

Editing your own work is almost impossible. You simply cannot see the typos as your mind is expecting something else. I was lucky enough to have a brilliant pair of editors in the last phase of OAT's professional production, who pointed out my errors and helped me to reconfigure bits of the novel so they made good sense. Sometimes they disagreed with each other, but it was all very light hearted. My advice to writers is to write what you want to write, and when you have a publisher, listen to their advice. If you really disagree with something, then say so, but keep it all light. There is a trend now for writers to join groups that critique each other's work. I have heard good and bad things about this – the problem being the agenda of other writers, and the tendency of all humans to find things to criticise rather than praise.

What response do you want the novel to invoke in your readers?

I want to provide engrossing enjoyment. OAT is an entertainment.

What are you working on now?

Right now I have to continue with my day job of creating editorial websites for people. I made one for OAT www.oneappletasted.co.uk. My next novel is called Sail Upon the Land, and I can't wait to clear the space in my life to knock the current baggy monster into shape.

You seem to have a lot of other things going on in your life – how do you fit it all in?

I wish I knew. I have been blessed with restless energy, and a very short attention span. I get bored incredibly easily which means I do everything very fast in order to get it out of the way for the things I love – being with my family, writing, walking etc. But if I tell you that I am sitting in a room in our new house, that is full to the ceiling with boxes that I have completely failed to unpack a week later; that I have an eight-year-old son, who is a bit poorly, yelling for me from downstairs; that my husband is in hospital having his broken leg seen to; that there are many emails asking for things from me professionally and that simply keeping the family fed under these circumstances is pretty complex. I still do manage to write though as it is an uncontrollable urge.

Many thanks to Josa for sharing her thoughts. I’ll post again here when my review of One Apple Tasted goes up on Bookersatz.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Cloths Of Heaven

I’ve posted a new review on Bookersatz. It’s of The Cloths Of Heaven by Sue Eckstein.

Sue Eckstein is currently undertaking a blog tour to talk about The Cloths Of Heaven. You can see her over at Caroline Smailes’ blog where they are also having a book giveaway. You’ve still got time to pop over and leave a ‘pick me’ comment if you haven’t already.

You can find Sue’s next stop on her blog tour at Thoughts From Botswana on 4 August where there’ll be a review and a book extract.

So please pop over to Bookersatz and read the review, and look out for this book – it’s great.

You can read a sample chapter here.

Or buy the book here.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Writing For Children

Although I don't write for children myself, it's a subject I've been giving a lot of thought to recently.

Firstly, my friend Sue Bentley kindly gave me some copies of her new Magic Ponies books. Sue has already completed the successful Magic Kitten and Magic Puppy series of books and now is well into the Magic Ponies series.

As some of you will remember, my article about writing series for children - based on an interview with Sue - is due to be published by Writers' Forum magazine later this year.

I've also been writing up the notes of my interview with Linda Chapman. Linda gave me some fascinating insights into writing for children, so I'm looking forward to turning that into an article soon as well.

Fellow bloggers, do you write for children? Have you ever thought of writing for children? And if you could ask one question of a successful author of children's books like Sue or Linda,what would it be?

Monday, 13 April 2009

Being Normal

I've put a new review up on bookersatz this morning.

The review is by me! And it's of 'Being Normal' by Stephen Shieber which was very kindly sent to me by Tonto books.

Stephen blogs here.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Double Book Launch

On Monday night I was privileged to attend the double book launch of 'From Zaftig to Aspie' by DJ Kirkby and 'Motorcycles, Ducks and Crispy Sweet Apples' by Christopher I King.

DJ spoke most eloquently.

We had a performance of 'The Shrek Rap' which was written by clever Casdok.

We had fantastic music.

And I had a lovely time with fellow bloggers Leigh, Carol and Troy. And also the Crafty Gardener - who managed to escape my photos.

It was a wonderful evening. Huge congratulations to Denyse and Chris. I can't wait to read the books now.