31 Jul 2017

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Blog Tour Book Review / It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan

Set, like Maeve Binchy's early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy's heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

Published:     13th July 2017
Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


Iam sure I am not going to be the only one to say that after reading The Dress by the same author, I was so excited to read about this one.  It's not often that I am intrigued enough to pick up some form of historic fiction story.  This story is based in the 1950s, an era I have not read a great deal about.  In this story, we follow three women, learn their backgrounds and follow them as they get tangled up in the web that is otherwise called Patrick Murphy.

You have Rose, Ava and Sheila.  One of them knew Patrick when he was a teenager and was his first love.  One of them meets him much later on when he has moved to New York and falls in love.  The other one meets him and wants to help him with his career.  Then you have Patrick himself where we follow his journey from his younger years to when he is living and working in New York.

What made this book amazine for me was the depth of the characters and the fact that they all have back stories that were equally as interesting to follow as the one where Patrick is involved.

I can't recommend this book enough - YOU NEED TO READ THIS!!!

Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan

29 Jul 2017

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Blog Tour Book Review / Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

The sun is shining, the sea is blue, the children have disappeared.

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

The disintegration of the world the families knew—told from the perspectives of both the adults and the children—is both riveting and revealing. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed.

Do Not Become Alarmed is a story about the protective force of innocence and the limits of parental power, and an insightful look at privileged illusions of safety. Celebrated for her spare and moving fiction, Maile Meloy has written a gripping novel about how quickly what we count on can fall away, and the way a crisis shifts our perceptions of what matters most.

Published:     6th July 2017
Publisher:  Penguin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


What I liked about this story...  Being in part of my 'I really need to read a lot of thrillers' mood this book was a perfect one to pick up.  Not only did it have the element of children that have gone missing but another storyline that was equally as interesting to figure out.  That was the element of this book that I liked the most.  If I had to pick a favourite side of the story to follow, it would have to be from the point of view of the children - watching them as they get lost and what comes after.  Also I have to say that although there was a big part of this story that I didn't like (see below) it also was a very interesting storyline morally to read about and think about.  

What I didn't like about this story...  What I could not understand was how could a mother who was responsible for not only her child/children but others as well fall asleep!  I know that accidents can happen but if you are in that position where you could fall asleep you get up, walk around a bit to try and wake up!!!  Also, how could a mother leave their child/children on the beach supposedly being looked after by another mother to cheat on her husband in the woods nearby!!!  Surely the well being of the children comes first and you should not leave the beach!!! 

Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

28 Jul 2017

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Blog Tour / The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone (aka Cathy Glass)

A gripping new thriller debut that asks the question, how deep in our hearts does evil lie?

When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.

However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?

Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.

When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

[Extract 14 from Chapter 7 pp. 36-37]

After the transplant and following usual practice, Jacob was taken directly to the intensive care unit where he was kept sedated, connected to a ventilator to help with his breathing, and given a drip passing fluids and medication into his arm. As with the other transplant patients, doctors and nurses monitored him around the clock until he was stable enough to be removed from the ventilator and brought out of the drug-induced coma. 

As Jacob rose up through the layers of consciousness, he began swearing and cursing at the nurses, saying things he wouldn’t have done when fully awake. He told one nurse to ‘fuck off’ and another that he’d like to ‘give her one’, before trying to grab her breast. 

‘That’s not very nice coming from a vicar’s son,’ she joked, aware it wasn’t the patient talking but the cocktail of drugs – particularly potent after a transplant. 

As soon as he was fully conscious Jacob returned to his normal self and, still slightly confused, asked politely, ‘Where am I?’

‘You’re in hospital, Jacob,’ the nurse said. ‘You’ve had your transplant and everything is fine. We’re moving you to a different ward soon and your family will be in to see you again later.’

Relieved, he thanked the nurse and then fell into a more natural sleep. The next time he woke, his parents and Eloise were at his bedside, his mother, holding one hand and Eloise the other, while his father stood at the foot of his bed, smiling. The glow from the ceiling light caught his hair, circling his head like a halo, and just for a moment Jacob thought he’d died and was in heaven. After a few seconds, reality hit him, and he remembered what had happened.

Continue reading Blog Tour / The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone (aka Cathy Glass)

25 Jul 2017


Book Review / The Dark Isle by Clare Carson

Sam grew up in the shadow of the secret state. Her father was an undercover agent, full of tall stories about tradecraft and traitors. Then he died, killed in the line of duty.
Now Sam has travelled to Hoy, in Orkney, to piece together the puzzle of her father's past. Haunted by echoes of childhood holidays, Sam is sure the truth lies buried here, somewhere.

What she finds is a tiny island of dramatic skies, swooping birds, rugged sea stacks and just four hundred people. An island remote enough to shelter someone who doesn't want to be found. An island small enough to keep a secret...

Published:     1st June 2017
Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 3, Sam Coyle Trilogy
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


What I liked about this story...  What I had not realised when reading this book was that it was book 3 in a series.  I only realised that when starting to write my review here!  It may be that I would have learned a lot more about different characters and different situations from reading the first two books in the series but I have to say that I realy enjoyed this book and maybe the fact that I didn't know a lot about what happened previously helped me be more surprised with the twists and turns.  What I liked the most was the pace. It started off at a fairly normal pace but as we follow Sam and discover bits along the way the pace sped up until the pace was so fast I just could not put it down!  I had to know how it ended!  There were certainly quite a few parts in this story that surprised me.

Continue reading Book Review / The Dark Isle by Clare Carson

24 Jul 2017


Blog Tour Book Excerpt / The Dark Isle by Clare Carson

Sam grew up in the shadow of the secret state. Her father was an undercover agent, full of tall stories about tradecraft and traitors. Then he died, killed in the line of duty.
Now Sam has travelled to Hoy, in Orkney, to piece together the puzzle of her father's past. Haunted by echoes of childhood holidays, Sam is sure the truth lies buried here, somewhere.

What she finds is a tiny island of dramatic skies, swooping birds, rugged sea stacks and just four hundred people. An island remote enough to shelter someone who doesn't want to be found. An island small enough to keep a secret...

Orkney, September 1989

SAM STROLLED THROUGH the graveyard to the shore, hoping to escape the sense of being watched, but the shifting outline of Hoy made her uneasy. She stared at its treacherous north face of stacks and caves, shrouded by spray where the towering cliffs plunged into the sea and met the breakers rolling in from the Atlantic. The twilight made the isle appear more cloud than land, a storm gathering across the water. She trailed the high tide mark, her eyes still drawn to the island rather than watching where she was placing her feet, and almost tripped over the rusty corpse of the seal among the bladder wrack, starbursts scarring its abdomen where the body had bloated and exploded leaving the brine to preserve its hide. She leaned and stroked the leathery skin then parked herself by the dead creature. The still presence gave her strange comfort. She waited. A pipistrelle flitted past. The mountains of Hoy blurred with the darkening sky. The North Star gleamed. Surely he would have disappeared by now. She decided to risk it, stood and retraced her steps inland along the burn. The sea breeze buffeted her from behind and she tried to hold the gusts in her mind, but the wind slipped away, rattled the deadheads of the cow parsley lining the path. Left her with a knot in her stomach.

She reached the graveyard and heard the hurried footsteps of somebody retreating as she pushed the gate. She cut through the grey tombstones, past the yellow walls of the Round Church, surveyed the Earl’s Bu and the field beyond for signs. The Norse Earls had made their home here in Orphir on the southern edge of Orkney’s Mainland, the settlement recorded in the Orkneyinga Saga. A place of deaths and ghosts. There had been dusky evenings when she had stood here and thought she’d glimpsed the shadows of pissed Norsemen fighting among the ruins of their great drinking hall, but this evening she saw nothing apart from a hooded crow pecking among the stones. He was there, though, she could tell. Watching. She had been aware of his presence all summer. She had tried to ignore the constant prickle at the back of her neck as she grappled with the gradiometer, the new-fangled piece of kit they were using to try to locate the buried remains of the Norse settlement. They couldn’t dig because the ruins ran under the cemetery and they didn’t want to disturb the graves. Geophysical surveys were a good way of detecting sub-surface features without excavating and causing damage, the archaeologist in charge of the site had said. Like water dowsing, she replied. He laughed and said if they didn’t find anything with the equipment, perhaps she could have a go with her hazel divining rods.
The initial results were not promising. Too many anomalous spikes in the data, either because the ruins lay too deep to be detected or, as the archaeologist suggested when the monitor went haywire, there was some strange force buggering up the readings. He had looked at Sam when he said that and accused her of having supernatural powers that interfered with the magnetic fields. It had taken her a couple of seconds to realize he was joking. She was the one who had mentioned water dowsing after all. The archaeologist had invited her to come back the following summer to help with another survey, if they could find the funding. She had recently finished a history degree and now, at twenty-three, was about to start a doctorate. She would love to write her thesis on the Earl’s Bu, she had said. It would be a relief, she had added – four years of academic study. He had raised an eyebrow. A relief? She had corrected herself. More of a retreat than a relief. A retreat from what, he had asked. Her father’s dodgy legacy, she had wanted to say; Jim had been a police spy, killed five years before, and she’d never quite escaped his shadow. She shrugged instead of speaking. He had eyed her shrewdly and said retreating was fine as a temporary strategy but eventually you had to turn and face the ghosts, assess the ruins that lay below one way or another. She wasn’t so sure. She had volunteered for the archaeological project in Orkney, drawn back by the happier memories of childhood holidays here with Jim, the darker recollections buried deeper. The presence of the watcher made her fear that somebody else was digging in the murkier corners of her family’s history, unearthing events best forgotten. Her return to Orkney had disturbed ghosts of a more solid and ominous kind, she feared, than the spectres of long dead Norsemen.

Continue reading Blog Tour Book Excerpt / The Dark Isle by Clare Carson

21 Jul 2017


Author Interview / David Jester

Kieran McCall’s youth was a series of misguided attempts at love—a succession of sexual failures that always ended in disaster but somehow led to something worthwhile. As an adult, his failures looked like they were behind him. He married the love of his life and they had a child together, but chaos was never far away.

An Idiot in Marriage follows Kieran McCall as he learns to live with the strains of married life and parenthood, from dealing with incompetent babysitters and dirty diapers to neighbors from hell, stray ducks, and a best friend who still thinks with his dick.

Kieran McCall grew up, but he never matured and he never changed. He’s still a little immature, he’s still a little na├»ve, and he’s still massively incompetent. Kieran may be older, but he’s definitely not wiser. And if he doesn’t shape up, he may risk losing it all.


1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? 

I would love to have worked with Philip K. Dick. He’s my favorite author and one of my biggest inspirations. I write in a different genre, but it was because of his books that I first started branching out, writing and reading more genres and bringing together an amalgamation of styles.

Of course, he’s otherwise engaged these days. If I had to choose someone else—someone living—it would be Bill Bryson. I have so much admiration for him. I love his humor and his style and would love to work with him on a nonfiction book or to convince him to cross-over into horror.

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? 

I hate to say it, but my working day begins when I wake up and it ends when I go to sleep. And that’s not an exaggeration. It means I don’t have much of a social life right now. If you ask my friends/family to describe me in one word it would be “ticky-tickey”, as the only sound they hear from me is the constant keyboard noise.

I freelance full-time, I run a writing/SEO company, and I own several content websites. As a result, I usually get through in excess of 20,000 words a day split between several different projects. I ride a wave of mild insomnia and excessive caffeine, but I love what I do and I appreciate that I am in a very unique position because of that. So, I rarely get stressed and I rarely get angry. 

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 

Right now it’s finding the right mindset. I never used to freelance. When I wrote An Idiot in Love and Forever After I was an aspiring author. I was broke, but I had free time to be as creative a I wanted. When I wrote This is How You Die and An Idiot in Marriage there was a little more pressure, but I wasn’t freelancing full-time so I still had free time.

These days time is hard to come by and it puts me in a Catch-22 of sorts. I write all day, but because of that I find it hard to write anything. In other words, I can write website content, magazine articles and other freelance work in my sleep, but ask me to be creative and to work on a novel, and it’s a different story.

4.  When and why did you first start writing? 

I have written for as long as I can remember. I found solace in books at a very young age, as many introverted, odd children do. It didn’t take long for me to try and create my own stories.

My very first “books” were written on crayon on folded sheets of paper that I would then staple together. I was only 6 or 7 so I wrote about the things that I obsessed about at that age, including sport and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I would draw a title page, add some scribbled sketches and then sell the finished pieces to my parents for 50 pence.

As luck would have it, I got my first break twenty years later self publishing books that I created myself and then sold for a couple bucks. I left that artwork to a designer though, art was never my forte. I’m sure my parents would have asked for their 50 pence back if I hadn’t insisted there were no refunds. 

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book? 

An Idiot in Marriage is a sequel, a standalone title that follows on from An Idiot in Love but can be read even if you haven’t read the first one (and I’m not just saying that so you’ll buy it. Honestly). The idea for the first book actually came off the back of a single story, a snippet in the life of an idiot.

I loved writing it and by chance my partner ended up reading it. I caught her laughing uncontrollably on the computer one day and just as I was about to have her committed, she told me she had read the story and that I should write a novel with the same character.

So I did and I dedicated the book and the series to her. The sequel is an extension of that story and those characters but it’s one that will probably be more relatable.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now? 

I usually have several books on the go. Right now I’m reading The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England (I loved the Medieval one) and a book by Connie Willis, who is my favorite living Sci-Fi author.

I think that all writers need to read. That’s how I learned to write at a very young age and it’s also a great tool for discovery.

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers? 

All aspiring writers have been told to “never give up” and this is great advice. If you work hard enough then it will happen eventually. But if you fail with one book, don’t edit it and then resend. That’s not how you improve as an author. I know aspiring authors who have been trying to push the same book for ten years and they can’t see what they’re doing wrong because they never matured as writers.

Write short stories, write novellas. Write novels in different genres. Just keep writing. You can always go back to those rejected books when you’re successful.
Continue reading Author Interview / David Jester

18 Jul 2017


Book Review / Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between by Jennifer E Smith

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night leads them to family and friends, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

Charming, bittersweet, and full of wisdom and heart, this irresistible novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that arise when life and love lead in different directions.

Published:     1st September 2015
Publisher:  Poppy
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Library


What I liked about this story...  Jennifer E Smith is an author I have been wanting to pick up for ages.  I couldn't wait to pick up this one.  In this story we follow Clare and Aiden who are about to embark on a new stage in their lives by moving away to college.  Unfortunately they are going to different colleges and hundreds of miles away.  Do they want to commit to a long distance relationship?  Aiden wants to do just that.  Clare doesn't, not because she does not love him but because of many other reasons, most of them I did find understandable.  This was such a fun story to read, following these two characters as they follow Clare's list of places they need to go to reenact some of the greater moments of their entire relationship, which is meant to help them decide what they are doing next.  You also have their two best friends which I really enjoyed getting to know and would have loved to have learnt more about.

What I didn't like about this story... There were times where I found the character of Clare really annoying.  She has a very practical and down to earth personality but at times, mostly at the beginning of the story, when she is reflecting on her relationship with Aiden I found it a little hard to believe that she really loved him.

Continue reading Book Review / Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between by Jennifer E Smith

13 Jul 2017

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Book Review / Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

Published:    21st April 2015
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Library


This book really surprised me.  When picking this up at the Library I thought this would be a 'fluffy easy read' and yes I suppose there is a part of this book that is like that but it is so much more.  We follow Quinn who is grieving the loss of her boyfriend.  After death some of her boyfriend's organs are donated.  We see Quinn writing to each of these as part of her grieving process and receiving responses apart from the one that she thinks matters the most.  The person who received her boyfriend's heart, Colton.  She decides to find him and instead of talking to him and telling him the truth they bump into each other almost unexpectedly and Quinn decides to get to know Colton rather than tell him the truth.  She does intend to tell the truth but things get more complicated when she starts to develop feelings for him.

At 304 pages (largish font) this book is smallish but packs a large punch.  Love, loss, grief, hope, love and maybe a few others that I won't mention because of spoilers.  I read this book in one sitting.  Just could not put it down.  I can't wait to read more from this author. 

Continue reading Book Review / Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

11 Jul 2017


DNF / The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Published:     11th April 2017
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Library
Pages Read before DNF:

Why didn't I finish this book?

Being a new release and seeing this book everywhere, I wanted to pick this up.  It sounded like a funny read that would be a good easy ready for the summer time.  For me, this seemed like a book that is more for younger readers or readers who like reading that kind of thing.  I had thought this might be less teen angst and more about the unrequited love conflict type of story.  Being 36, if I had picked this up ten or so years ago I would have loved this book.  Now I think I am looking for a lot more in a story and I just could not get into it. 

Continue reading DNF / The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

9 Jul 2017


DNF / America Pacifica by Anna North

Eighteen-year-old Darcy lives on the island of America Pacifica--one of the last places on earth that is still habitable, after North America has succumbed to a second ice age. Education, food, and basic means of survival are the province of a chosen few, while the majority of the island residents must struggle to stay alive. The rich live in "Manhattanville" mansions made from the last pieces of wood and stone, while the poor cower in the shantytown slums of "Hell City" and "Little Los Angeles," places built out of heaped up trash that is slowly crumbling into the sea. The island is ruled by a mysterious dictator named Tyson, whose regime is plagued by charges of corruption and conspiracy. 

But to Darcy, America Pacifica is simply home--the only one she's ever known. In spite of their poverty she lives contentedly with her mother, who works as a pearl diver. It's only when her mother doesn't come home one night that Darcy begins to learn about her past as a former "Mainlander," and her mother's role in the flight from frozen California to America Pacifica. Darcy embarks on a quest to find her mother, navigating the dark underbelly of the island, learning along the way the disturbing truth of Pacifica's early history, the far-reaching influence of its egomaniacal leader, and the possible plot to murder some of the island's first inhabitants--including her mother.

Published:     1st May 2011
Publisher:  Little Brown
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Library
Pages Read before DNF: 120

Why didn't I finish this book?

This book has been on my TBR list since it was published back in 2011, so over 6 years.  Since joining back up with the library this was one of the first ones I definitely wanted to check out.  I had such high hopes for this one and I am really sad that I just could not get into it.  I read more than what I would normally when I'm not enjoying a book, the main reason being that I really wanted to love this book.  This book had a very slow start, little explanation on the world they were living in and little explanation of Darcy and her mother.  Now, this may have been deliberate and the story gets going in the second half of the book but to be honest by the point I had got to I had just lost interest. 

Continue reading DNF / America Pacifica by Anna North

7 Jul 2017

Author Interview / Charlie Laidlaw

 With elements of The Wizard of Oz, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Lovely Bones, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead shows how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, and how sometimes we can get a second chance.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decision to make and that maybe she needs to find a way home.


If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I’m not sure that I’d want to do that, or vice versa. I’m a big fan of Kate Atkinson, and she lives quite close by…but I’m sure she’s happy writing away on her own. Likewise, Joanne Harris, who has never written anything less than brilliant in her life. Maybe, however, I’d like to work with an author(s) who has talent, but who hasn’t had a publishing break. I honestly believe that the best books ever written are mouldering at the bottom of landfill sites or circulating the world as incinerated particles of carbon because their writers gave up hope.

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
A typical working day would be doing very little or writing a huge amount. I’ve learned never to write unless I know what I’m writing, and how and why it’ll fit into the overall narrative structure. I’ve wasted too many days and too many sheets of paper writing stuff that has ended up in the bin. I’m now much more focused.

As to where, I write in an office-study although, as much of writing is about thinking, the book I’m working on is never really out of my head. My characters tell me what to write, and are never slow in telling me when I’ve got things wrong.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
I think it’s to fully understand the characters you’re writing about, otherwise you’re describing people who are, at best, two-dimensional. The best books are populated by people who are real, and who the reader can relate to. That’s why good literature is timeless, because human beings haven’t changed much. It’s why the likes of Shakespeare remain relevant; human nature is still what it’s always been, with all its glories and imperfections. The trick is to make those people and their complex motivations real, and to make the reader believe in them.

When and why did you first start writing?
I wrote my first “novel” aged about fifteen, and burned it shortly afterwards. The idea of a Fourth Reich having a secret base in the Norfolk Broads seemed absurd, even to me. My second was written when I was about seventeen, and I still have that. Nobody will ever get to read it. My third was completed a year later, by which time I had learned to type. It will also never, ever see the light of day.

As to why, I have no idea. Maybe it’s because I can write, and am pretty useless at everything else. I certainly have a compulsion to write, although I have no agenda. I have no ideas or political that I want to talk about. Maybe also, I believe that if you’re good at something, you have (almost) a duty to pursue it. After all, where would the world be if Michelangelo had thought, “sod the Sistine Chapel, I’m off to the pub.”

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
For no absolutely no idea at all, the first inkling came on a train from Edinburgh to London. It was an apt place to have that beginning because, being a civilised place, Edinburgh is the only city in the world to have named its main railway station after a book.

Part of the inspiration was a quote that I’d always liked from the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius Antoninus who wrote that “our life is what our thoughts make it.” But I’d always thought that life is what happens to you – all things good or bad: the people you meet, the things you do.

But, from a different perspective, everything about life is also about memory. We can’t do our jobs if we can’t remember how to do them; we can’t love people if we’ve forgotten who they are. It is our thoughts that shape us.

It’s the only train journey I’ve ever been on where I’d hoped for signal failure, or for spontaneous industrial action. I could have sat on that train for another five hours. When I got home, I wrote the first chapter and the last chapter. The first chapter has changed out of all recognition, but the last chapter is still pretty much the same.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
You can’t write if you don’t read. Equally, you don’t deserve to be a writer if you don’t love reading. At the moment I’m rereading A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. There are some books that inspire me to write, and that’s one of them.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
If you think you’re good enough, persevere. If you’re not sure whether you’re good enough, join a book group, or take professional advice, or have friends you trust to read and critique your book. The fact is that publishers aren’t interested in finding the new literary genius; they simply want to publish books that sell and, therefore, make money.

And always remember the wise words of Somerset Maugham who said that there are three rules to writing a book, except that nobody knows what they are. In other words, keep reading, keep writing…and eventually stumble on those three rules.

F: @charlielaidlaswauthor

Continue reading Author Interview / Charlie Laidlaw