Tuesday, 25 February 2020

In conversation with Daralyse Lyons...

...author of Yoga Cocaine. Hi Daralyse and welcome to the blog and tell me a bit about your book...

DL Yoga ruined my addiction. I’d been bulimic for over a decade when I went to my first class. I unrolled the well-used loaner gym mat, situated myself, and waited for class to begin. When it did, the first thing the teacher said was, “Take a deep breath, and feel your feelings.” I took a deep breath and cried for the next hour and a half. It took a lot more than that single yoga class to find eating disorder recovery, but, looking back, yoga was the beginning of the end of my self-destructive cycle. My latest book, Yoga Cocaine, is loosely based on my experiences.

AW What inspired you to write Yoga Cocaine?
DL Although this is a work of fiction, I have empathy for Jessica's character. I was never drug or alcohol addicted, but, from the ages of 14 to 26, I suffered from anorexia and bulimia. I was admitted to residential treatment 18 times and very nearly died because I couldn’t stop hurting myself. I wanted to write a book that spoke to the shame and self-loathing a person feels when he or she is trapped in an addictive cycle. For me, writing Jessica's story well into my own recovery — in which yoga played an integral part —was an opportunity to capture the complexity of the recovery experience. And, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t bring myself to write about anorexia and bulimia in detail. It was still too close for comfort.
AW How did you come up with the title?
DL The title was the easy part! I had just finished teaching a yoga class and one of my students came up to me and said, “Thank you so much. I’m addicted to your classes.” That was the spark that ignited a flame. In that moment, I knew I wanted to write a story that conveyed the message that a positive addiction, such as yoga, could help dispel a self-destructive one.
AW What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
DL As much as I love Jessica, she can be a difficult person to like. She does what she wants, resists help, and reminds me of myself in a lot of ways. Spending my days with her could be frustrating at times because she felt like such a vivid and distinct personality that I couldn’t quite control her. She did what she wanted and I was forced to follow along. It was also difficult to convey the complexity of her feelings for Dwight. She was far too sympathetic towards him, but because I was telling her story, in her voice, I found myself submitting to her will.
AW Who should read this book? For whom was it written?DL I wrote this book with a female reader in mind, but some of my beta readers were men and they loved it! I think this book appeals to anyone who understands that we all have elements of darkness and light within us. It’s a book about addiction and recovery, sure, but it’s primarily a book about the ways we try to sublimate pain and shame. My hope is that it conveys the message that the only way “out” is through.
AW How does the overall style and structure of the book relate to its content?
DL The style and structure were the easy parts. Because Jessica’s path involves yoga, meetings, and step work, I wanted to structure the book around postures, steps and promises.
AW If you could only leave readers with one lesson from the book, what would it be?
DL I’m not sure that the lessons from this book are easily conveyed with words. My hope for my readers is that they come to understand that self-love isn’t intellectual, it’s experiential. I wanted Jessica’s journey, which loosely follows the archetypal Hero’s Journey, to convey that self-love requires action steps. I want my readers to be inspired to confront whatever in their lives might be unresolved and to be brave enough to do what it takes to find their own path forward. We all have demons, struggles, and regrets. Jessica’s example might be extreme, but it’s also extremely relatable. I guess the lesson I’d want readers to emerge with is that they should be willing to learn whatever they need to learn about themselves to practice greater self-care and stop sabotaging themselves.
AW Is relapse an inevitable part of recovery?
DL Not at all. My hope for every addict is that he or she gets and stays sober and never has to revisit old, maladaptive coping mechanisms. That said, based on my own experiences and on Jessica's experiences, which are distinctly hers, every relapse offers an opportunity to course-correct. There are invariably a lot of choices, thoughts and emotions that lead up to the decision to revert to old patterns of behavior. So being able to look back at all the moments that led to the decision to revert to one's addictive substances is an opportunity for awareness.
AW What’s next for you, as a writer?
DL I’m really excited about the next stage in my writing journey! I’m currently working on a memoir project, which I don’t think I’d ever have been willing to do if not for this novel. Telling Jessica’s story was a tremendous gift because her courage inspired me to confront my own past. I’m finding the experience of telling my story to be beautiful, hard and addictive.

about the author… When Daralyse Lyons isn’t doing splits or jumping out of airplanes, this former yoga teacher and eternal adrenaline junkie can be found with pen in hand furiously scribbling her latest novel. To date, she has written more than two dozen full-length books, a handful of short stories and countless articles. A member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the host of a successful podcast, an actress, a storyteller, and a summa cum laude graduate of NYU, Daralyse brings intelligence and enthusiasm to all her endeavors.

You can follow Daralyse on her Website on You Tube Facebook Twitter and Instagram

You can find Daralyse's books on Amazon 

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

I'm cycling the Canal du Nivernais...

... between lock 75 and Auxerre.  Come and join me and my travelling companions...

I'm camped at Les Ceriselles which sits beside the Canal du Nivernais.  At a 174K it's not exactly a waterway of note for its length or its rise and fall.  Work to build the canal began in 1784, however, five years later when the Bastille was stormed and the revolution began, the project was abandoned.  Initially, a feeder waterway to move timber from the Morvan to the already established Flotteur's route along the Yonne to Paris, when building work resumed in the 1820s, the canal had evolved into a full navigation route for barges and other traffic.  It became the most direct link between the Loire at Decize and the river Yonne at Auxerre.
From the campsite, there is direct access to the canal, and the old tow-path is mostly tarmac and well kept.  The camping is about halfway between locks 74 and 75.  Just after lock 75, the canal rejoins the Yonne at Bailly - râcle de Bailly - and the path continues beside the river.  As I cycle, I'm joined by a grey heron.  He was clearly a grumpy guy, as every time I stopped to get a photo, he took to the wing.  He can't have been that bright either because he always flew off in the direction of my travel, so meeting again was inevitable.  He just didn't quite get that!
In the silence and shade of the trees, I find myself thinking about a story I need to finish.  There's a French connection, but I can't decide how it fits with the very English and very Yorkshire beginning.  I pass a large property on my left, and a snippet of conversation pops into my head about yellow curtains.  All I know, at this point, is that the conversation is between a mother and her child.
I continue through locks 76 and 77 with still only the heron and the silence as companions.  At lock 78, the path becomes the narrow riverside road that runs through Vaux, and that snippet of conversation keeps crossing through my mind.  By lock 79, the heron has finally given up on his fishing trip, and I'm joined by a pair of swans.  These two are much friendlier, and they follow me for a short while.  
By the time I reach lock 81, the last before Auxerre, the canal has traversed through 4 further râcles in less than 6Ks.  A bizarre thought strikes me.  All that chopping and changing from canal to river and back again may have given the Nivernais an identity crisis!  As I take a long look at the city of Auxerre, I reassure the canal that it has done its job.
Lunch is a pain au chocolat, by the river with the boats and the cathedral for a view.  I also finally decide how to finish that story and how to make the connection between Yorkshire and France.

That story became 'A Raven's Gift' in the second Miss Moonshine anthology which, along with the first book, is available in e-format for 99p/99c on Amazon until Feb 20th.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Please welcome, friend and author, Karen Moore...

...to the blog this week.  Hi, Karen, and thanks for taking some time out to be here today.  Tell me, what is your current release?

KM   My debut thriller Torn was published at the end of October 2019.  It tells the story of one woman’s struggle to escape the dark world of organised crime in Sicily and create a new life far away for her and her small daughter.
AW   What first got you into writing and why?
KM   I’ve always enjoyed writing since I was a child – I was the one with lots of pen-pals who I’d write to regularly and at great length, in addition to all the fantastical stories I’d make up.  I found language fascinating and relished the chance to discover and disappear in a world of my own creation.  Being an only child with imaginary friends and a vivid imagination helped enormously.  I went on to develop a career in PR and marketing where writing was a key requirement and a creative streak certainly helped.  It wasn’t until much later in life that I started to dedicate more time to developing my own writing.
AW   You write thrillers in a contemporary setting.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
KM   I get ideas from various sources.  Some are based on my own experiences, some are ideas that crop up, usually at the most inconvenient times, others might come from news reports.  Torn is based in North Wales and Sicily, locations I am familiar with and which are an integral part of the story.
As well as visiting places I want to feature, I do desk research too, to check out the feasibility of ideas and make sure that any factual information I use is correct. I read widely too, particularly in the same genre.  That helps to give you a feel of what might or not work for you as a writer but it’s important to develop your own style.
AW   And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or other genres?
KM   I started out writing short stories which I still enjoy.  I have quite a collection now, which I always mean to do something with.  As for genre, I’ve quite happy to stick to thrillers, which is what I enjoy reading myself.
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?
KM   I dream of having a beach hut overlooking the sea, with only the gulls for company.  One day, maybe!  For the time being, my spare bedroom has to suffice.  It overlooks my back garden and the wood beyond so it’s usually quite peaceful.  But it’s still easy to get distracted by the squabbling squirrels and the visiting birdlife, usually with my cat in hot pursuit!
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?
KM   I would choose Charlotte Bronte as it has always fascinated me how she defied the social mores of her era to become a published author.  She must have had such a strong personality to flourish as a writer despite her social and economic circumstances.  I would like to know more about what made her tick – why she felt compelled to write, how she learnt and developed her craft, what inspired her books, the challenges of getting published at that time, and what recognition and success meant to her.  She’d no doubt be surprised to learn that she is regarded as one of our greatest Victorian writers.

about the book... Like any mother, Hanna would do anything to protect her small daughter, Eva.  When she discovers that her husband, Luciano, is not all he seems and their blissful life on the island of Sicily is threatened, she wastes no time in seeking refuge abroad.  But just as they are settling into their new life in North Wales, Eva disappears.
In a race against time, Hanna is forced to return to Sicily and face the dark world of organised crime in a bid to secure her daughter’s safe return.  She must also confront the truth about Luciano’s business dealings and their horrific consequences.
But will Hanna succeed in getting Eva back and bring Luciano to justice?

about the author... Karen Moore is a British writer based in Cheshire.  She lived in Italy for ten years and worked as a tour guide in Europe, the USA and Canada, followed by a career in PR and marketing.  Torn is her debut novel.
You can follow Karen on her Amazon  page,  on  Facebook and on Twitter 
You can buy the book Here 

Friday, 14 February 2020

A special post for a special day...

... as it is Valentines Day today, I'm celebrating with one of my favourite poems...

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my   dreams.

W B Yeats

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Friend and author, Queenie Black makes a welcome return...

... to my blog this week.  Hi Queenie and thanks for being here today.  I see you've brought one of your characters with you and welcome to you Ilaria.  I guess I'll just leave the rest to you two...
QB  Hello Ilaria, thanks for agreeing to this interview.
L     It’s a pleasure and please, call me Larry.
QB  But Ilaria’s such a pretty name.  What’s the story behind it?
L     I’m British Italian.  My father named me Ilaria.
QB I see.  Tell me about your job.  What attracted you to landscaping and tree surgery?
L    There’s some personal stuff there, I’m not sure I want to talk about.  Let’s just say that I get claustrophobic in small spaces, so I’m happier in work that takes me outside.  When I was about 13, I was fostered out to an Italian family and my foster dad was a gardener.  I loved it and did some college courses in landscaping and as soon as I could I joined the family business.
QB I’m looking forward to reading your story.  We’ll be getting close up and personal with Lucien’s* half-brother Cal.  You’ve had a crush on Cal for a long time so tell us what draws you to him.
L    Mmmm, how long have you got?  He’s sexy, he has that gorgeous tawny hair that just invites you to run your fingers through, he’s got that great martial artist’s body, not too pumped up…you know what I mean.
QB  Yes, for sure.  (Fans herself).  There’s a lot to be attracted to, and in lust with, but there are lots of good-looking men out there.  What do you see, to steal a business term, as his unique selling point?
L    He has a deeply ingrained sense of responsibility and it makes a girl want to step up and help shoulder the burden, you know?  He’s loyal, and he cares about his family.  I’m sure most aristocrats today put effort into maintaining or creating their fortunes, but he works super hard and still manages to find time for his family and his art.
QB   Art?  Explain a little more about that, please.
L   Not many people know but he’s a rope Master and photographer and his pictures have won awards.
QB  I didn’t see that coming.  Can you explain to our readers what you mean by a rope Master?
L    He’s a top in the BDSM scene.  Into rope bondage.  He studied in Japan I believe, or so I’ve heard and it’s really hard to do that because these secrets aren’t easily shared.
QB   My word.  That sounds intriguing.  Tell us more.
L     Rope can be used in many ways.  To put it broadly as an artist he uses rope, positions, knots and the human body as his medium.  He creates living art.  Let’s call this Shibari.  Now, as a rope Top or Master, the rope becomes an extension of his hands.  You still get art but here it’s all about creating an experience for him and for the rope bottom or submissive.  This I’d call Kinbaku.
QB  You and I might know what a submissive, or rope bottom is but can you explain for readers who might not be aware.
L    My definition of these is a person who has an erotic relationship with rope and being tied up, and sometimes also pain.  For me as a submissive, ropes in the hands of a Master are about trust, security, surrender and peace.  Sometimes pain.  And always hot sex.  I guess you could say I hand over my sexual needs to a person I trust.
QB  Phew!  Last question.  Does it bother you that Cal’s a Lord?  As in a bona fide member of the British aristocracy?
L   I guess family and friends might think I’m way below him.  Maybe he thinks that way too.  I have no idea.  I know going in that there can’t be anything long term between us and I don’t care.  Been there, done that, got the t-shirt when the right honourable Richard Edwards (henceforth known as Dick-Ed) dumped me because he needed to marry ‘within his class’.  I’m in it for the rope.
QB  It sounds like the lady doth protest too much!  Good luck and thank you for talking to me.

*Lucien and Rose feature in Hard-Pressed. Available now.

about the author...  I’ve always loved writing and I won my first prize for a short story when I was still at primary school.  I’m an avid reader of romance and erotic romance and can usually be found with my nose in a book.  The dynamics and sheer variety of human relationships fascinate me, and this is what I like to explore in my writing.  I live in North Yorkshire with my husband and cat where I enjoy running and Tai Chi.

You can buy the book on Amazon US and on Amazon UK

You can follow Queenie on her Website on Twitter and on her Facebook Page

Cal and Ilaria’s story can be read in Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down coming later in the year.