I was recently interviewed by the talented author and poet Leslie Tate about my work as a developmental editor. You can read the interview here: https://leslietate.com/2018/10/5984/
I got her to play two strings, back and forth, plucking at a quickening pace, along with my heart. I touched her arm. I closed my eyes, and felt fearful of how much I felt for her.
‘Music is about time,’ I told her. ‘It is about controlling time.’
Tom Hazard is much older than he looks, having been born in Elizabethan England with a rare genetic condition that causes him to age very, very slowly (at the rate of approximately one year for every fifteen years). While his mother considered it to be a gift, the condition has caused Tom numerous problems in life. Fear, suspicion and heartache dominate his existence. He’s had to endure his losses, alone, for centuries.
When a mysterious woman named Agnes holds him up at gunpoint late one afternoon in 1891, telling him that she’s taking him to Plymouth and, from there, to America, he has no idea what to think. What he learns is that there are others like him in the world, and that they’re part of a secret organisation, which he now must join. The first rule of the organisation: that you must not, under any circumstances, fall in love. Those who are part of the organisation must change their identities every eight years, moving to a completely new location in a different part of the world and becoming an entirely different person. This is, supposedly, to ensure their safety and the safety of others like them.
The story is told in first person from Tom’s perspective and alternates between his present—where he teaches history in a Tower Hamlets comprehensive school—and his various, colourful pasts. Haig does an excellent job of capturing the feeling of history without getting bogged down in detail, while simultaneously keeping the focus on how Tom’s past affects his present-day reality.
How to Stop Time contains all the right ingredients for a highly engrossing and memorable story: romance, adventure, an exciting plot with mounting tension, immersive settings and an empathetic protagonist I rooted for all the way through the book (and then some). Matt Haig has certainly succeeded in stopping time with this novel, not only for his protagonist, but also for this reader.
How to Stop Time is published by Canongate Books.
I bought my copy of How to Stop Time from my local independent bookstore, Ink 84.
How to Stop Time is available from all good bookstores and from Amazon.
I imagined Paul strutting home, a girl on each arm, somehow sporting a moustache and a foot of extra height. Moustachioed imaginary Paul would look down at me as he glided past with his harem.
‘Who’s she?’ the girls would chirrup.
‘Her?’ Paul would laugh. ‘Oh, she’s nobody.’
Kate and Paul have been married for nearly ten years and have two beautiful children—Isabel and Harry. Paul works in advertising and Kate spends her time looking after the kids. However, despite the appearance of happiness, Kate and Paul are both dissatisfied with their relationship.
As they’re preparing for their anniversary trip to Cornwall, Kate stumbles upon a letter, carefully hidden inside a book in their library. What she reads in it will change her life, and marriage, forever. But, now that Kate knows, she needs to tell Paul. Before she’s able to muster the courage to do so, she tries to discern the emotional truth of her marriage. She thinks back over her history with Paul—they grew up together in Somerset, and were best friends during childhood and adolescence, before separating to go to university. It was only after he moved to London, for work, that they started a relationship.
Told in first person, from Kate’s perspective, and alternating between her past and present, Seddon delivers a story brimming with suspense as she paints an empathetic portrait of a relationship in jeopardy.
Having thoroughly enjoyed Seddon’s first two novels, I was looking forward to reading her third. I was not disappointed. If anything, I enjoyed this novel even more. While Seddon’s work falls into the thriller/suspense categories, her stories focus primarily on character—how a specific character came to be who they are and what makes them act as they do. It’s this well-considered interplay between her characters’ motivations and her plot that makes her work such a joy to read. In Love Will Tear Us Apart, there’s also a romantic element, which enhances the story further. It was this last aspect that particularly stayed with me after finishing the book. As always, Seddon raises some interesting questions that resonate beyond the bounds of her story. I can’t wait to read her next novel!
Visit Holly’s website to learn more about the book and her writing.
Today I’m excited to announce that my novel, The Forest King’s Daughter, is featured on Jane Davis’s Virtual Book Club, her interview series which gives authors the opportunity to pitch their novels to book clubs. You can read it here: https://jane-davis.co.uk/2018/05/22/virtual-book-club-kendra-olson-introduces-the-forest-kings-daughter/
I was recently interviewed by Amy over at T
Maggie’s chest rises and falls. Orange buoys, the shape and size of hay bales, move to the same rhythm. There is something bovine about them, but also something desperately sad. At any other time she wouldn’t feel foolish mentioning this to Jules who, she thinks, would dismiss nothing.
With an impressive array of research at her disposal, a full cast of true-to-life Londoners and a fascinating and timely premise, Davis casts a spell over her readers.
The families of those who were killed in the St Botolph and Billingsgate station disaster have become accustomed to defending their loved ones. For over thirteen years they were told that the victims were responsible for their own tragic deaths but, with London Underground consistently running over capacity and the severe overcrowding that’s resulted from it, the families refused to believe the verdict of the initial public inquiry. With opinion against them, however, it was difficult to know what to do. That was, until gentle-natured law student Eric took an almost obsessive interest in the case. Eric’s certainty that the evidence doesn’t match up leads him to spend all his waking hours investigating. But when his hard work finally pays off and a second inquest declares that the commuters were not responsible, it doesn’t bring about the closure the families expected.
Told through the eyes of the families of the survivors, their grief, anger, frustration and attempts at reconciliation are brought vividly to life. Davis does an excellent job of depicting modern-day, multicultural London, and her diverse cast of characters reflects this. The story is inspired by the Hillsborough tragedy, where 96 Liverpool football fans lost their lives in a crush in 1989, and is highly relevant given their families long battle for justice. Davis’s exploration of personal grief and public tragedy is sensitively rendered and deeply empathetic. Although literary fiction, the novel reads almost like a thriller. Smash all the Windows is an engrossing, addictive novel. I look forward to reading more of Jane Davis’s work in future.
Smash all the Windows is available from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Smash-all-Windows-Jane-Davis-ebook/dp/B079MBP3WD/
You can read more about the novel on Jane’s website: https://jane-davis.co.uk/books/smash-all-the-windows/
They picked at the contents, one by one. The nuts came in all sizes; they were whole, lightly roasted and unsalted. Dipping and munching, they shared what they had.
When fifty-year-old café owner Beth Jarvis, divorced and with children, finds herself on a blind date, she wonders what it is she’s doing. Due to her nervousness she’s arrived at the restaurant far too early and now can only watch and wait while other diners arrive, staring at the door, wondering when—and if—James will show up. Biding her time, Beth sips her wine as she sifts through the letters he’s sent her. Will the real-life version of James be as good-natured and charming?
After James arrives, they share stories over a platter of Indian food. Later that night, Beth is, quite literally, swept off her feet as they dance. Not wanting the evening to end, they draw it out for as long as possible. When it finally comes time for them to part, they promise to meet again, and soon.
As Beth and James are getting to know each other, they realise that they share very different pasts. James was raised in Chester-le-Street, in Durham, to working class parents. His father worked on the railways and considered himself a revolutionary, of sorts. Later James moved to London, where he married and had children. He works as a gardener and prides himself on seeing the beauty in life. Beth, on the other hand, had an almost idyllic rural childhood, and later married a minister with whom she has two daughters. Her gentle, caring nature means she follows her heart. While this tendency has led her into James’ arms, it’s also meant that she’s sometimes been taken unawares in life. How Beth and James come together as a couple is the focus of the story.
Violet is an empathetic and skilfully crafted exploration of modern day love. It is also a study in character, and the ways in which a character changes, and is changed by, their experience of relationships. The story is written in a non-linear fashion, moving backward and forward through time, showing Beth from different angles and points in her personal history. The narrative is experimental in style, with some sections written in text-speak and including the letters James and Beth shared. This challenged my perceptions, making me pay closer attention to the writing. Tate’s in-depth exploration of Beth’s character allowed me to draw my own conclusions about her past and present. This made for an enjoyable and refreshing reading experience.
Violet is the third in Tate’s Lavender Blues trilogy, exploring three generations of the Lavender family and their experiences of love in its many forms. The novel stands alone—indeed, I have yet to read the first two books. The first two books are Purple and Blue. You can read about them here: https://leslietate.com/lavender-blues-three-shades-of-love/
Violet is available to purchase from Leslie Tate’s website: https://leslietate.com/shop/violet/
“Elffin, Gwyddno and Taliesin, that’s the way it works, isn’t it? Each of us in every character, the stories shifting and changing as we learn to see differently.”
The year is 1841 and fifteen-year-old Bridie Stewart is emigrating from England to Port Phillip, Australia with her ma, her stepfather Alf Bustle and a book of magical Welsh fairy tales her dad told her before his sudden passing 18 months previously. With her ma pregnant and a new life ahead of them, Bridie’s ma and Alf want her to forget her childhood and grow up. Most of all, they want her to give up on the memory she has of her father as a kind-hearted, misunderstood dreamer. In order to appease them, Bridie has to hide her notebook, the last tangible object on earth she has to remind her of her father.
When it’s discovered, Alf insists that she use the notebook not to write down further stories but to make a record of their ocean crossing. Bridie feels angry and hurt. Luckily, Bridie has become friends with a young Welsh couple, Rhys and Siân, who share her love of stories and who help Bridie feel less isolated on the ship. Rhys is a dreamer, like her dad was, and Siân’s daintiness and mysterious ways remind Bridie of a fairy. But will their mythical ballads, music and storytelling be enough to help Bridie discover her own truth about what happened with her dad?
Corbett’s portrayal of life between decks for the English and Welsh emigrants was realistic and empathetic. She does not shy away from showing readers the harshness of her characters’ lives or the ocean crossing but nor does she allow for this aspect of their experience to dominate. The Tides Between is an enchanting novel, filled with Welsh myths and the magic of possibility.
The Tides Between is available from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tides-Between-Elizabeth-Jane-Corbett-ebook/dp/B077SS6847/
To find out more about The Tides Between and Eliizabeth Jane Corbett’s writing, visit: elizabethjanecorbett.com
“Don’t forget that darkness is a force absent of love. just like black is the absence of colour. The more love you can feel, the more colour added, the more light is achieved. And ultimately, in the end, our choices seal our fate.”
Lizzie Lemalf is now officially writing full time, her first novel having been a success. Maisy and Cassie, her two teenage daughters from 183 Times a Year, the first book in the series, have grown up and flown the nest. Cassie to London where she’s recently finished university and is now working for a well-known record producer and Maisy to Australia where she and boyfriend Crazee run a tattoo shop. Their little brother Connor is now a teenager himself, though nowhere near as much trouble as his sisters ever were. With Lizzie’s mum remaining cancer free, all seems to be going well for the Lemalf family. However, when Lizzie visits Cassie in London, Cassie appears thin and withdrawn. Despite Cassie’s telling her that nothing is wrong, Lizzie can’t help but be concerned. But this is just the beginning of Lizzie’s worries as everything is about to change for the Lemalf family.
I thoroughly enjoyed Eva Jordan’s latest novel which is written in her characteristically colourful style. The story is by turns laugh-out-loud funny—she does an excellent job of depicting the speech and perspective of teenagers—and terribly sad. Above all, she captures the love of a modern-day family for one another, through the tragedies and joys of life and, of course, everything in between. There were times where I felt she could have been writing about my own family, as she did such a remarkable job of showing the emotions around life events.
The story is told from several different perspectives, including Lizzie, Connor, Cassie and, occasionally, Salocin, Lizzie’s strong and kind-hearted father. This has the effect of increasing the reader’s empathy for the different characters and their roles within the family. While there were certain characters whose experiences I could relate to more than others, by the end of the book, I felt I could understand all of their motives for acting as they did.
Having read and loved 183 Times a Year, I had high hopes for All the Colours in Between. I was not disappointed. If anything, I’d say that Eva Jordan’s second book exceeded my expectations, possibly being even funnier, more poignant and better written than her first one. The themes she explores within the novel are timeless, as well as being timely. All the Colours in Between is a beautiful novel which will stay with me for years to come.
All the Colours in Between is available from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B074Q352TS/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074Q352TS/