In the Chair 79

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nWelcome, Gabrielle Mathieu

How would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Gabrielle: Brisk, suspenseful, seductive

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Gabrielle: I would love to get cozy with Tenzin, the tough but moral son of a Swiss missionary and a Bhutanese nurse. Tenzin is my heroine’s moral compass, a teacher, but yet, not without flaws himself. His greatest gift is his compassion, and his willingness to listen. He’s also hot!

If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

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Gabrielle: My third book, which will come out in the summer of 2018, is set in Munich and the Himalayas, in 1967.  I would have loved to see Kathmandu then. It must have been a paradise. I’m not that interested in the availability of marijuana in the sixties, but I would have liked to see the city before its current infestation of vehicular traffic and homeless, starving dogs.

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

TenzinGabrielle: I’d host all the Oxford dons: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Philip Pullman. I’d just have to hope that being upper-class British, Pullman wouldn’t fight with the other two, since he does have issues with their story-telling. Of course Lewis and Tolkien were products of their times, just as we are products of ours. We would have to dine in one of those delightfully old restaurants in London’s Fitzrovia or Bloomsbury, where the tables are crowded together in a small room, in a narrow building with creaky wooden stairs and a ceiling blackened by smoke. I’m not one for meat and potatoes myself, but I guess with that crowd, we’d have to have a traditional meal, washed down with some nice red wine. It’s true I might find the fellows a mite stodgy, but they influenced my writing. And I couldn’t bear to have dinner with George R.R. Martin, though I think he’s a fantastic contemporary story teller. His tortures are just too vile.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Gabrielle: I have a related genre I’ll be returning to in my next series: epic fantasy. I like creating everything from scratch: the names, the customs, the rules of magic. (There better be rules. I don’t like it when all problems are solved by magic. That should be a last resort, because magic exacts a heavy toll.) It’s an interesting challenge to create a complex background, and then extract what’s necessary for the story.

What do you dislike the most about being an author? Gabrielle: I dislike having to compete with the flood of books on the market.

Favourite word?  Gabrielle: Imagine.

Gabrielle Mathieu was in the chair, author of: The Falcon Flies Alone

Web: http://gabriellemathieu.com/

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In The Chair 78

Welcome, Amelia Chambers

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Amelia: Varied, with panache.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Amelia: Not wanting to sound trite but I feel I have a very close relationship with all my fictional characters because I make an effort moulding them, getting to grips with their background, their way of life and their inner selves.  However, I’d love to be good friends with Gladys in the It Out series.  She will be back in the New Year along with William, Laura, Oliver, Karen et al to experience more mayhem in the village.

I wouldn’t mind having a hot, torrid affair with Lance in Reprehensible, but then I’d have to dump him very quickly.  He’s really not my cup of tea for a long-term relationship.  I think the professor in Make All The Difference would be more dependable.

If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Amelia: Oh, I’d love to haunt the village near Bury St Edmunds in the Puzzling It Out series.  I wouldn’t want to live there or be a character, but drifting in and out of the pub, around the houses, into town and over the fields would be very entertaining and nobody would know I’m there.  I suppose that’s what authors do; be an ethereal presence in the setting they create.  I imagine myself as an invisible woman eavesdropping on conversations and watching events unfold.

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

featured-alcohol-drinksAmelia: I am the world’s worst cook so I would have to hire caterers and discuss a menu with them.  It’s wonderful what some chefs can conjure up and make appetising.  Who’d have thought chocolate and beetroot muffins would be so yummy?  Many of my characters dine out and they usually eat what I’ve recently seen on menus in eateries I frequent.  Wine is important though and I’d make sure there was a fine selection of red, white and rose wines, as well as whiskies, gins and vodkas.  Oh to hell with it, I might as well have a fully stocked bar!

Now, who would I invite?  Well, William Shakespeare would be first on the list.  I’m a huge fan and I hope my guides to his tragedies are helping many students with their studies.  I’d have to ask Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie too as they were the first authors I remember reading in my youth.  Wilbur Smith is a must as Eagle in the Sky was the first book to make me cry and Robert B Parker as well.  I just love his character, Spenser.

shakespeareI suppose I’d be living dangerously inviting Steinbeck, Hemingway and Ian Fleming as I think they are all misogynists, but I do admire their work.  Hopefully Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy would put them in their place.  Hardy is my favourite novelist and the only male writer, beside Shakespeare, who has any clue about women.  He has to be a guest.

The table is getting full and I’ve invited too many men, better even up the numbers, so I’m dumping Hemingway and Fleming.  I met Jennifer Johnston fleetingly and didn’t get a chance to fully discuss her masterpiece How Many Miles to Babylon.  I’d think she’d get on with Hardy too.  A S Byatt and Margaret Attwood would be my final choices.  I know nothing about either but I loved the books Possession and A Handmaid’s Tale.  The former was very skilfully written, the latter gave me the heebie-jeebies long after I’d put it down.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Amelia: Sci-fi, without a shadow of a doubt.  I love it.  I just don’t know enough about science to write knowledgeably.  I’m a huge fan of Philip K Dick, who I really should invite to my dinner party, but then I’d have to get rid of Blyton and I don’t want to do that.  I’d rather go for a coffee with Philip and discuss conspiracies theories.  I watch all films with spacecraft in them, even if they are rubbish.  My favourite film is Blade Runner, a Ridley Scott classic, based on Dick’s story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  What a title!  A short story in the up and coming Take Another Ten includes my first attempt at sci-fi: Surviving Paradise.  I’d like to think it’s an homage to PKD.

amelia-chambers-bio-picWhat do you dislike the most about being an author?

Amelia: Editing, editing and more editing.  I don’t know how editors do it.  I really don’t.

Favourite word? Amelia: Panache.  Although I really like the ‘F’ word.  It’s so versatile.  It’s a verb, an adjective, an adverb, a noun and as an interjection, it just makes some things sound so much better or so much worse.  It’s a shame some people find it offensive.

Amelia Chambers was in the chair, author of: Reprehensible, Puzzling it Out, & several non-fiction titles assisting student study in classic literature.

Web: http://ow.ly/2GTp304xjap

In The Chair 77

Welcome, Rebecca Stonehill.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Rebecca: Historical, thought-provoking, heartfelt.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Rebecca: Definitely Kamau from The Girl and the Sunbird! I must confess to falling a little in love with him! He is very kind, calm, intelligent, handsome and tender. He is the kind of man that, had he been born in a different time, would have gone on to truly great things.

I also became fond of Alberto from The Poet’s Wife. Whilst not a main character, something about the big, dark eyes and sensitivity was pretty appealing! I think I’ll stop there, because my husband is a little unsure about that question…

Nairobi2If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Rebecca: Living in the busy metropolis that is Nairobi, I would love to exist as a character in my second novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, so I could experience the emptiness of Nairobi a little over a hundred years ago. I wouldn’t like to be Iris, my protagonist, as the poor girl didn’t have an easy time of it what with her arranged marriage to a deeply unpleasant man. I’d much prefer to be another English woman living in Nairobi in 1903 who befriends Iris – but then again, had Iris had even a single friend, the plot would not have unfolded in the way it did!

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

guest-list-1-alamy_2272670bRebecca: I’d invite along Maya Angelou, who had the most tremendous sense of humour, dry wit and sassiness and I know she’d liven up any dinner party with her stories. I’d also invite Isabel Allende as she inspired me probably more than any other author in my early days of experimentation with writing. I’d cook something from Isabel Allende’s book Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses. Part memoir, part cookbook, it’s filled with outlandish recipes that would be really fun to have a crack at. To drink? Lots of cocktails to begin with to get Maya & Isabel suitably merry and then some good Chilean wine to keep Isabel happy!

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Rebecca: Children’s book, definitely, for around the age of 8-12. I think this is one of the hardest genres to achieve well in writing. Children are critical and discerning readers and any whiff that they are being talked down to, it’s game over. In the words of EB White, fantastic author for children: ‘Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.’ I am passionate about literature, storytelling and creative writing for children and would love one day to turn my hand to writing for children.

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

MeRebecca: With the internet and the explosion in digital and self publishing, opportunities abound for authors. This is fantastic as it’s more of an even playing field these days, but what it also means is that in this saturated market, it’s much more difficult to get your books noticed and read. For authors today, we have to think of new and original ways to get our books out there – this is time consuming and can divert considerable time away from the actual craft of writing.

Favourite word?

Rebecca: Chutzpah. This is a Yiddish word roughly translated as possessing spirit and guts. My father, who was Jewish, often used to say that I had chutzpah.

Rebecca Stonehill was in the chair, author of: The Poet’s Wife & The Girl and the Sunbird.

Web: www.rebeccastonehill.com

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In The Chair 76

Welcome, Kate Frost.

KateFrostHeadShotHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Kate: Moving, heartfelt, honest.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Kate: Ooh, now there’s a question! I think it would have to be with Ashton from Beneath the Apple Blossom. As for why, not only is he good looking (imagine dark hair, defined cheek bones and a rugby player physique), but he’s also family orientated and wants to settle down, get married and start a family. However, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t go for me over Sienna, his feisty, confident and striking (both in looks and personality) girlfriend.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nIf you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Kate: It would be in my time-travel adventure series for children, the first of which, Into the Past, will be published in October. In real life I’m someone who would always watch from the sidelines – I’m quite happy not being centre of attention, but I think if I got a week to exist in my book I’d be twelve year-old Maisie, the protagonist of the story who is up for adventure, fearless and welcomes new and exciting experiences with open arms as she time-shifts between 1471, 1666 and 1940 along with class bully, Lizzie, and her best friend, Danny.

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Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

Kate: I’d invite George RR Martin, get him drunk on wine (or whatever his favourite tipple is) and see if I could get out of him how he plans to end Game of Thrones. I think Stephen King would be an interesting character to add to the mix and I would like the chance to pick his brains (so to speak) about writing. Geraldine Brooks and Leif Enger (who wrote two of my favourite books, Year of Wonders and Peace Like a River respectively) would complete the guest list. With such an eclectic mix of authors I think it would be appropriate to have a buffet where guests could choose what they fancied eating, although the focus would be on lots of Middle Eastern flavours (my favourite) – tagines, pita with homemade dips, salads, grilled meats and halloumi. 

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Kate: It would be a dystopian novel. I love reading books and watching films about the end of the world and I like the idea of dropping a group of characters into a destroyed and dangerous environment and seeing how they would cope (or not).

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Kate: Self promotion. I’m no good at talking about myself or my books but I know it goes hand in hand with being an author. I’m forcing myself to contact local radio for an interview and speaking in public fills me with fear. I think this is the hardest part of being a self-published author – having to make myself do these things, rather than have a publisher putting me forward for such opportunities.

13592599_1127236474014115_888177963847925978_nFavourite word?

Kate: Kapoozi. It’s actually the Greek word for watermelon (my husband is Greek and I’ve been struggling to learn Greek ever since we got together nearly sixteen years ago). I love the sound of it, and it reminds me of sunshine and happy times visiting family in Greece.

Kate Frost was in the chair, author of: The Butterfly Storm & Beneath the Apple Blossom.

Web: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Frost/e/B00D8YJ1EG/ref=la_B00D8YJ1EG_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1468053881&sr=1-1

In The Chair 75

Welcome, Sue Moorcroft.

DSC_3417How would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Sue: Flowing. Attention-grabbing. Pacy.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Sue: Sam, from my forthcoming book, The Christmas Promise. He surprised me a bit. He’s sophisticated and strong but his vulnerabilities are what make him unusual. He’s a real ‘go to’ ‘can do’ heroic hero. He’s highly imaginative and creative and that seems like it would be fun …

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nIf you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Sue: I’m going to say The Wedding proposal because it’s set in Malta and I love to be there! I’d watch the story unfold from the sidelines but it would be like watching a train wreck, seeing things conspiring against Elle. I’d want to warn her but I don’t know how she can act or react any differently as issues mount up against her.

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

81f985c03b1cca527822783d2df8fcccSue: On my guest list would be Nevil Shute, Georgette Heyer, Stephen Fry, and some romantic suspense authors such as Suzanne Brockmann. I’m not too worried about the main course but I’d make a stonking chocolate dessert. (No calories at this dinner party, right?) And we’d drink champagne.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Sue: I always try and duck this question because all genres other than my own seem equally unlikely! I could probably pull together a fantasy because I like the idea of creating an unbelievable world for people to believe in.

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Sue: My annual accounts. Sometimes I find first drafts hard but I don’t dislike them (much).

Favourite word?  Sue: Success.

Sue Moorcroft was in the chair, author of contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. A past vice chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and editor of its two anthologies, Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.

Web: www.suemoorcroft.com.

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In The Chair 74

Welcome, Isabel Costello.

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How would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Isabel: Taut. Sensual. Evocative.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Isabel: Without hesitation, Alexandra, first person narrator of my debut novel Paris Mon Amour. As an intelligent 40-year-old woman she is acting totally out of character when she embarks on an affair with the much younger son of her husband’s best friend. Whilst it’s human fallibility and vulnerability that interest me and drive me to write, in many ways Alexandra becomes stronger as she pursues her desires, both physical and emotional. So many women don’t, and I found myself empathising with her to a surprising degree. She’s not a cuddly character but she has a sense of humour; this and her honesty make me think she’d be great at the kind of frank conversation I like. I could be my own complicated self around her.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nIf you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Isabel: Since my book centres on a clandestine relationship, watching from the sidelines isn’t really an option! In any case, it would be a revelation to spend a week (but no longer) as Alexandra’s 23-year-old lover, Jean-Luc. I’m happy being a woman but masculinity and the male perspective fascinate me – since we’re talking hypothetically I would love to experience sex as a man, for example (however weird that sounds). The main reason is the way Jean-Luc thinks about the ‘big questions’ and acts on his instincts rather than conforming to social expectations – I admire that. His passionate and unpredictable nature would guarantee an eventful week but it’s also quite a scary prospect!

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Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

Isabel: Firstly, although I’m a keen cook and enjoy entertaining, I find if you have the right combination of guests, nobody actually notices the food. Conversation would be unlikely to dry up with Flaubert, Baudelaire and Simone de Beauvoir at the table, contemporary wit and brilliance courtesy of A M Homes, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lisa McInerney and Grégoire Delacourt. Late night gatecrashers: Byron and Kevin Barry.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Isabel: Not currently on my career plan, but being comfortable with sex scenes I might stand a chance at erotica.

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Isabel: The fact that so much is beyond your control.  It bothers me – and not just for myself – that the fate of books is so dependent on money, timing and dumb luck.

Favourite word?  Isabel: Yes

Isabel Costello was in the chair, author of: Paris Mon Amour

Web: Paris Mon Amour  Summer Reads 2016

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In The Chair 73

Welcome, Luccia Gray.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Luccia: Imagery. Dialogue. Multi-layered.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Luccia: Michael, of course, but he wouldn’t be interested! He’s the main character throughout The Eyre Hall Trilogy, but he is so in love with and devoted to my heroine that he would never ever be unfaithful or disloyal to her. He’s an ‘I will but love thee better after death’ type of man. A mixture of Gabriel Oak (Far From the Madding Crowd) and Captain Wentworth (Persuasion) and Pip (Great Expectations).

Luccia Gray AuthorIf you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Luccia: In spite of the harshness of a servant’s life in Victorian England, I’d love to be a maid at Eyre Hall. I’d enjoy listening to the gossip, taking part in daily routines and activities, and watching the masters’ lives unfold. It would be mind-blowing to experience first-hand knowledge of the characters upstairs and downstairs. However a week would be enough, perhaps even too much!

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

shutterstock_140166406Luccia: I’d like to listen to Charlotte Bronte and Jean Rhys discussing Bertha Mason, the madwoman in the attic created by Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre, and whose life story was told in the prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys). Then I’d tell them about her daughter, Annette Mason, and the rest of my sequel. None of us have big appetites, especially when we’re chatting, so I’d prepare lots of varied, bite-sized ‘tapas’, which we would nibble while sitting in my sunny Spanish garden. We’d wash it all down with chilled Rueda (Spanish white wine). Finally we’d have some hand-made chocolates, ice-cream and champagne for dessert.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

bronte charlotte edmund B20084 21Luccia: I’ve written a neo-Victorian Trilogy, which could be classified as a gothic romance, so my first three novels have been historical.
I’m not sure what I’ll be writing next. I’d love to write more Victorian novels, but if I had to write in a different genre, which I may well do, I’d write a contemporary gothic romance.
I can’t see myself writing a novel that doesn’t include mystery, suspense, romance, and a gothic aspect.
 

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Luccia: There’s actually nothing I dislike about being an author.
There are aspects I enjoy more, like creating, imagining, research and writing. I have fun with my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, and I love interacting with other authors, bloggers and readers. There are other aspects such as editing, and re-re-editing, which I find more tiresome, but I love the end product, so in the end it’s satisfying. I suppose marketing, advertising and promoting are difficult, because I don’t know the ropes well enough, but it’s fun too.
My greatest challenge is finding the time to write and do all the things related to being a writer, such as research, networking, advertising, writing and editing.

Favourite word? 

Luccia: Kindle. I think this word, which is just a few years old, has transformed reading and writing. It’s affected what we read, where we read, and how we read. It’s also given self-published authors an opportunity to showcase and sell their work in the previously constrained publishing world. 

Luccia Gray was in the chair, author of the Eyre Hall trilogy

Web: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Luccia-Gray/e/B00K34F28I/

My Trilogy