Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A little something to...

... prepare you for Halloween...
Adrian in the village featured in his boook

Please welcome Adrian Martin to my blog with an unusual tale for you...

What is Ideals?

No breeze blows in this dank room. Time stands as still as the air. Stagnant. I am no longer permitted to be part of the population and my own fellow. Trapped by a misery of grey and steel. The forever lingering stench of freedom wafts along the corridor on the other side of the door. You see, I do not conform to their ideals, but only my own. To whom did I give the right to infer what rules I must obey? I gave no permission, yet I am judged for it. 
My boggle eyes find what my internal organs require to prevent the ache from crippling this aging bag of bones. Only a dim glare overhead gives any acknowledgement of my existence, and the lingering chill affects me so. A bed. A blanket. A danger. I am permitted nothing, for the body now withers, as does my once sharp mind. I have friends, of course, as do we all, but they are no longer permitted to come for dinner. Reasoning of those in exalted places is that I am incapable of behaving in a manner that is conducive and acceptable within their social structure. A drunk? No. A wife beater? No. An offender of children? Most certainly not. I abhor such repulsive crimes and believe those particular perpetrators should be erased from existence. 
A brave little thing. It wonders innocently across my floor. It has asked no permission, yet it mocks me, doing as it pleases. I leap to the floor and snap ambush. It pays me little attention as I poke it with a stubby finger. Still it ignores me. Has it not seen my name on the door outside? Of course not, it cannot read, but still, I am here and bigger, stronger and once upon a time I would have been faster. It continues on its mission, whatever that is. Does it not get furious each time I force it off course? Perhaps, but it’s fun. I cannot hear it cursing me for my intrusion into its day. But it has intruded upon mine also, and yet I hear it offering me no apologies. My stomach begins to twist in anger at this mockery. ‘This cell is mine, and I am not permitted to mix with others,’ I warn it. But it does not know me, what I am capable of and why I am segregated. My stomach groans, its bellows foreshadowing this poor creature’s future. I grip the cockroach between forefinger and thumb, and for a moment there is a mutual understanding as we make eye contact. The crunch, the explosion of warm slime in my mouth is exquisite. Dining for one can be perfection when the taste can be savoured. This is why I am not permitted to be a friend of society, nor company within this cell. The cockroach, however, is no substitute for human flesh.

Illustrating the setting for the book
About the author... Adrian lives just outside of Newquay, Cornwall, with his wife, Lisa, and four children. He began writing while serving in the British Army, starting with poetry written on blueys (blue sheets of paper that fold into envelopes) as he was on a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. After leaving the army, he tried being a security guard, but found walking around the supermarket for fourteen hours a day somewhat monotonous, so decided to give long distance lorry driving a go. It was whilst doing this he began to pen “The Helland Reckoning”. The novel was inspired by the small hamlet of Helland, where Adrian stayed with a friend as a child. It had remained in his thoughts for many years, so it became the natural setting for the book. After five years of tramping around the U.K and Europe, he decided it was time to be home more, so began driving fuel tankers around Devon and Cornwall. After breaking his ankle playing football, Adrian was made redundant so set to work rewriting the manuscript. However, Adrian’s last job, working for a portaloo company (which was actually a lot of fun) made him want to chase his dream as a writer, so in September 2015 he returned to full time education studying an Access course in English, literature and creative writing, achieving mainly distinction grades along the way. He is currently studying a BA (Hons) Degree in Creative Writing at Falmouth University, Cornwall. His hobbies include spending time with his family, writing, football, skiing, walking and Facebook! Feel free to hunt him down and chat on Twitter 

About the book... What should have been a fresh start for Katie Tremain and her twin twelve year old daughter’s, (Sarah and Tegan) in the heart of the Cornish countryside, quickly turns to tragedy when, Sarah goes missing in the bleak and snowy surroundings of Bodmin Moor. There are no footprints surrounding the house from where she has gone missing, and no evidence of the girl.
Before the police arrive, delayed by the unpredicted snowfall, a stranger arrives claiming he wants to help find, Sarah. Katie has never seen this man before, yet there seems something familiar about him, and Tegan appears to have a connection with him. He has one stipulation – No police. Why, what are his true motives?
A missing girl, a broken mother, a lonely sister and a stranger. Together they look for the missing girl, and Katie is shocked when the stranger’s true identity is revealed, and sickened when she finds out who has her daughter.
This supernatural horror takes a mother to face her worst nightmare.

You can find his book on Amazon

I will be reviewing Adrian's book on the live Bookit! programme on Sinefm on Saturday October 29th, 10.00am UK time

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Most unusually this week...

...I have a book review as my post.  Whether this will become a regular feature or not, I’m not sure yet.  Perhaps you might comment and let me know what you think.

The Seine, Paris

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

If you’ve read my post from September 18th,  ( Sunday Sojourn, Paris ) you'll know that, like fellow author Jennifer Wilson who owns the blog on which the post appears, Paris is a favourite city of mine.  So, coming across ‘The Red Notebook’ by Antoine Laurain was an absolute gem of a find.  And where better to read such a little book than the city of its setting?  So I did!

Laure, a single lady who works as a gilder, has her handbag snatched late one evening as she is returning to her apartment block in the city.  In desperation she runs to the hotel across road to beg for a room with the promise of paying once she can get the locks on her door changed and go to her bank to get some money.  The next morning things don’t quite work out as planned.
Laurent is the owner of a Paris bookshop called ‘Le Cahier Rouge’ and yes that does make you assume at the outset that this is the notebook of the title.  Maybe it is… maybe not! Sorry, but I’m not telling!  On his usual route from his own apartment building, via his regular café, to the bookshop, Laurent finds the discarded handbag in a skip beside the road.  He muses for a moment or two but then retrieves the bag and decides to return it to its rightful owner.
The rest of the story you will have to read for yourselves, but I can guarantee you that the journey around the city that Laurent takes in his efforts to find Laure, the obstacles he encounters and the miscommunications, misunderstandings and interventions from unexpected sources along the way, make this one the most amusing little love stories I have read in years.
The constant ’will they, won’t they’ question kept me on the edge of my seat.  The pace of the story never flags but somehow also manages to be as serene as the majestic setting which is so beautifully described.  The characters walk off the page and I found myself so utterly immersed in the story that I read it in one day.
A brilliant little book!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Please welcome two very special guests...

Sarah and Dougal
..fellow Crooked Cat author, Sarah Stephenson, and Dougal, the subject of a diary.
SS  Angela, thank you for inviting me on to your blog today, it’s a great priviledge.

AW  You are both very welcome.  So, tell me Sarah, how did Dougal's diary come about?
SS  I have to thank Sue Townsend, one of my favourite authors, for giving me the personality of my central character, Dougal.  My first book, Dougal’s Dairy, is printed as an ebook with Crooked Cat and will be out in print, any day soon.
I am often asked where the idea for Dougal came from.  Well, I have to confess it all started with a shower, in fact, two.  I was in the bathroom, smothered in shower gel, when my puppy Dougal, decided he had to go out for a pee in the rain.  As I stood in the garden; towel in one hand, brolly in other, I thought what a good picture it would make.  Actually, I lie.  My first reaction was, you bloody dog, followed by what if I…? Other incidents, such as Dougal covered from head to tail in mud, or Dougal shooting down a slide on a toddler’s lap, encouraged the idea; a small book of cartoons with captions underneath.
It was then reality struck.  I’d have to return to art classes and hone my skills.  This could take time.  This could take years.  Instead I began compiling lists.  From lists came daily jottings in a diary.  Unfortunately they were so tedious, I almost fell asleep on page one.  So I searched for inspiration from well-known authors and came across Buster’s Diaries by Roy Hattersley.  A true and delightful story, but not quite what I was looking for.
In despair, I turned to the human and more humorous diaries.  Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’
Dougal, covered in mud!
Diary.  Fun: men mad and always on a diet.  Not exactly Dougal but it gave me ideas.  His food obsessions, his desire to put on weight, his owner’s determination to keep him slim.
When I finally hit upon Adrian Mole; a developing male full of angst over girls, acne and the length of his penis, a seed was born.  I lifted bits of fact, mixed them with fantasy and turned Dougal into a fictional character.  Thanks to Sue Townsend, I found the tone of the book and the character of Dougal.
Just like Adrian Mole, Dougal is obsessed not with acne, but his weight and health. Is constantly misunderstood and a worrier: worried about elderly relatives, the NHS and Transport for London.  Unlike Adrian Mole, the nearest Dougal comes to getting his girl, is humping all dogs called Chester.                       
In some of the early drafts, Dougal believed he was so abused, I feared anyone reading it might report his owner to the RSPCA.  These had to be binned and the tone tempered.  It was important he was seen as a complete hypochondriac.

About the author...Sarah, who grew up in Bristol, now lives in South East London with two dogs.  She's had a chequered career as ballet dancer, cook, cleaning lady, salesgirl of outsize underwear in Littlewoods and actor.

You can find her book using the links below
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

An interview with...

Photo of Sheila courtesy of Keith Hartley
…friend, author and radio presenter, Sheila North
AW   Hi Sheila, a couple of months ago you were telling us about Chagrin, Ohio, the Apalachians and a little about you and  it was clear from the number of hits that everyone wanted to know more.  And now, here you are being cross-examined by me!  Tell me, what is your current release?
SN   I have two: ‘An Harm It None’, which is a modern day, paranormal romance about witchcraft in North Yorkshire and ‘A Yorkshireman in Ohio: Five Tales of Paws, Claws, and Mystery’.  The latter is a collection of humorous short stories set in my alternative version of Doncaster, where a cat is a police sergeant, and there are sentient stoats, and weasels.
‘Yorkshireman’ is a sequel to ‘Koi Carpe Diem’.   Both ‘Yorkshireman’ and ‘Koi Carpe’ have lovely illustrations by the fabulous Tom Brown.

AW   What first got you into writing and why?
SN   When I was in 3rd Grade, in the States, my teacher had us write sentences to show we could spell and understand certain words.  Miss Powell, the teacher, liked my sentences! It all followed from there.  Also, Mom was a children's librarian, so we always had access to good books, and were encouraged to read, go to the library, etc.  I still go to my local library, Doncaster Central, to attend a writers' group, borrow books, go to events, and write.

AW   You write romance, mystery, fantasy, comic short stories, and novels.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
SN   Even stories set in an alternative version of Doncaster require research.  For example, I have to decide where to place my imaginary pubs such as ‘The Squid and Quill’, and ‘Bird and Baby’.  I interviewed a policeman about police procedures for ‘An Harm It None’.  He was extremely helpful, once he got over his surprise.

AW   And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with other genres?
SN   I wrote for a string of local newspapers in my home state of Michigan for around two years, worked in internal communications, including running an intranet, so yes!  I also write for the Doncopolitan magazine, a local arts, events, and social commentary publication, plus write reviews for a folk music magazine, and have my own blog.  I also write poetry, some of which has been published, including, many years ago, in an American cat magazine.  I have a pamphlet titled ‘An American in South Yorkshire’.

The author's writing space
AW  Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing ‘shed’ of your own?
SN   My ambition is a Tardis style writing shed in the back garden, but for the moment my rather messy, arty desk in an alcove of our house is acting as my shed.

AW  Finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead or a character from a book.  Who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
SN   I would love to spend time with the American writer and humourist James Thurber, as I love his stories, and his writings have influenced me a lot, especially my short story collections.  I'd also ask him what he thinks of his appearance in the title story of ‘A Yorkshireman in Ohio’.  I'm hoping death has mellowed him a bit.  I'd also ask him for tips about how to be selected to be writer in residence in the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio, as this is one of my ambitions.

About the author… Sheila was born in Detriot, Michigan.  This is not necessarily her fault.  She has been a stringer, newspaper editor, tolbooth attendant, comms assistant, journalism student, writers’ group leader and mental health worker.  She also bakes the best brownies in South Yorkshire.  Her interests include volunteering with her local community radio station, singing angst-ridden folk songs, falling asleep in front of the tellly and mangling the English language with her Mid-Western-Yorkshire accent.  Sheila lives in Doncaster with her husband David, a rat named Charles and a Dalek called Gerald.