Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Friend and author, Miriam Drori makes a welcome return...

... to my blog this week.  Thanks for being here Miriam and I understand we're going to meet the central character in your latest book which is a murder mystery.  Tell me more...

MD  Nathalie is the name of one of the main characters in my murder mystery, Style and the Solitary, set in Jerusalem. She’s a new immigrant from France. She’s intelligent and feisty, and refuses to listen to the advice thrown at her from all directions. Asaf is very lucky that she’s there to fight his corner, because no one else is.
Nathalie grew up in Strasbourg. She studied French Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, and considered becoming a teacher. By chance, she signed up for a course in PCB layout design, and worked for two years as a layout designer before moving to Israel. There, she studied Hebrew in an ulpan (a school for the intensive study of Hebrew) before finding a job and two flatmates in Jerusalem. When she sees what Israeli kids are like, she’s glad she didn’t go into teaching!
Naturally, Nathalie has brought her past with her. In fact, her longing for things French has grown since she put a distance between her and her home country. She loves to eat fresh baguette and Camembert, when she can. Croissants, too. And she loves the story of Beauty and the Beast – the original one, written by an influential French woman in 1740 – which she studied as part of her degree course. It’s taught her that people can be changed by the belief of others.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels
Nathalie is also the name of a sweet song from 1964, sung by Gilbert Bécaud. The Nathalie in the song is a Russian student and tour guide in Moscow in the time of the USSR. The singer misses his time with her and looks forward to seeing her in Paris, where he will be her guide. What he likes about her, it seems to me, is that she’s different from French girls. Nathalie and her student friends can laugh and joke, but they can also be extremely serious.
The Nathalie in my story also stands out from her friends and colleagues, because she’s French and behaves differently. Maybe that’s what causes most of the Israelis in the novel to struggle to take her seriously. But Asaf is very appreciative when he discovers what she’s done for him. He knows how lucky he is that she’s there.

about the author… Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London and now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and one of her grown-up children. She has written romance, historical fiction, non-fiction, uplit and crime, not all of which are currently available. She writes to entertain readers. If they also learn from her writing, that’s an added advantage. She is passionate about raising awareness of social anxiety.
about the book… A murder has been committed in an office in Jerusalem. That’s for sure.  The rest is not as clear-cut as it might seem.
Asaf languishes in his cell, unable to tell his story even to himself. How can he tell it to someone who elicits such fear within him?
His colleague, Nathalie, has studied Beauty and the Beast. She understands its moral. Maybe that’s why she’s the only one who believes in Asaf, the suspect. But she’s new in the company – and in the country. Would anyone take her opinion seriously?
She coerces her flatmates, Yarden and Tehila, into helping her investigate. As they uncover new trails, will they be able to reverse popular opinion?
In the end, will Beauty’s belief be strong enough to waken the Beast? Or, in this case, can Style waken the Solitary?

An unexpected murder. A suspect with a reason. The power of unwavering belief.

You can get the book on Amazon.

You can follow Miriam on her Website on Facebook  Twitter and on Instagram

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

I'm cycling the Canal du Bourgogne...

...today.  specifically, the stretch of canal between lock 67 and lock 64 at Montbard and then some...

This is a combined vehicle and bike trip today.  The car from Lézinnes and then the bike from somewhere near St Rémy - it depends on finding a shady spot where I can park.  It's a short trip by road from the campsite along the D905.  This part of the canal can be done at more or less any time of day as the tow path is mostly in permanent shade.  It's a nice change to be out on the bike without and fear of getting my face burnt by the sun… again! 
St Rémy, is in the departement Cote d'Or (21), meaning Gold Coast.  This is the heart of the wine growing area and some of the most prestigious Burgundys are made from vines grown in this département.  St Rémy is a small village of around 700 inhabitants, stretching up the valley of the Brenne from the canal and the river that flow beside each other.  From here I'm heading first to Montbard. 
Montbard is about 5Ks away along the canal.  That's enough to begin with and I know a good  pâtisserie just as you get into town by the lock.  So I will be having lunch at the small marina which is a short walk from the shop.  The tartes abricot are to die for! 
The town is dominated by a large church that sits on a hill overlooking the town.  You can see it from miles around.  I take a steady stroll across the second bridge into town.  The sun's heat is becoming quite fierce so I chain the bike to the nearest bike rests and cross to the shady side of the narrow street.  It's a climb and there's hardly anyone around.  At Place Hôtel de Ville - a quite magnificant building that seems to glisten in the sunshine - there are some steps (rue Piron) opposite leading up to the top of the hill.  This links with rue Daubenton and I follow that on my left and to the end.  On my right is a small tree-lined alley (Allee Clemenceau) which climbs yet again.  I explore and it's worth it, there is a magnificent view of the valley, the canal and the town.  Unfortunately, the sun is so strong that all colour is bleached from the landscape.  Photos will have to wait for another day.
When I turn to leave I realise that behind me is some sort of park and in the centre of that is  a substantial war memorial that was commissioned and inaurgurated in 1921.  It commemorates the bravery of all the local citizens who gave they lives from the Franco-Prussian war right up to date.  It brings a noticable silence to the park.
At one side of the park is a small church dedicated to Sainte Urse.  The original place of worship in this location was part of the fort that was first built some time in the 10th century.  Ownership of the fort passed through various different hands over the centuries - one partiuclar owner being André de Montbard who was one of the 9 founders of the Order of the Temple or a Knight Templar.  The only vestiges of the château are some of the ramparts and Tour Aubespin.  Well worth a look.
As I meander down the hill and back to the bike I wonder if I will be lucky enough to find any of the apricot pastries left.  It's almost closing time so I pick up my pace a little.  I'm not dissappointed! 
Lunch finished and my backpack all repacked, I head back down the canal.  This is good because it means the canal is falling and so there are hardly any rises to the locks, just nice long free wheels down to the next level…

You can find my earlier trips along the canal Here Here and Here There will be more about the canal on June 8th

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

The Joys (and Challenges) of Returning to Characters 30 Years On…

... friend and author, Jo Fenton makes a welcome return to the blog this week.  Hi, Jo and thanks for being here, I know only too well how busy you are...

JF  Thank you so much for welcoming me on your blog today, Angela.  Yesterday, my new book, Paparazzi, was released.
AW  Congratulations and tell me more
JF  This is the second book in the Becky White Thriller series, but unusually, is set 30 years after the first of the series (Revelation).
I loved writing Revelation. It was great going back to my student days and memories, and reliving the atmosphere, music, communication challenges (mobile phones were not common in 1989) and the attitudes and prejudices of the day.  My main characters, Becky and Dan, were eighteen years old, and coping with the difficulties inherent in being students at that time – not to mention the added horror of dealing with a murdered friend!
In Paparazzi, we meet Becky as a middle-aged ex-police officer.  There are clear signs that she’s been through a traumatic experience, and life gets even more complicated when an old friend turns up on her doorstep.  The thirty year gap leaves a lot of opportunity for past events to colour the story, and the events that occurred in her last days in the police force will run through Paparazzi and the next two books in the series, culminating in a major showdown.
Becky’s backstory had to be carefully worked out before I could finalise Paparazzi, as there are implications for the remaining books.  However, it was great fun setting this out, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the past intertwines with the present as the stories develop.
Dan also makes an appearance in Paparazzi, and it is good to see where he’s got to.  I really enjoyed discovering how their student experiences affected their lives, and led them to become the people they are today.
By the way, if anyone thinks it was my decision how my characters turned out, I can only advise them to start writing stories!  The biggest shock of my life was when I started writing and realised it’s the characters who dictate the narrative – not the author!

about the author… Jo grew up in Hertfordshire, UK.  She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy.  She wanted to be a scientist from age six after being given a wonderful book titled "Science Can Be Fun".  At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.
Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), hikes, and chats to lots of people.  She lives in Manchester with her husband, youngest son, a Corgi, 2 hamsters and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

about the book…
A stalker. A popstar’s family murdered. A terrified photographer.It’s thirty years since Becky White joined the police.  Now, six months after leaving the force, she is suffering from PTSD, when an old friend turns up with a tempting offer. 
Following the creation of The White Knight Detective Agency, their first client is a press photographer – a member of the Paparazzi – a young woman with a mysterious and troublesome stalker.
But as the case develops, Becky and Joanna find themselves embroiled in murder. When they are unable to prevent further deaths, their investigation takes them down an unexpected path.
But can they trust their instinct? And will they identify the killer in time to save a child’s life?
Paparazzi, the second instalment in the bestselling Becky White Thriller series, takes you on a journey into the deceptive world of superstars – and those who follow them! 

You can find all of Jo's books on Amazon
You can follow Jo on her Blog  on Facebook Twitter Instagram  and on Pinterest  


Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Friend and author, Bill Kilpack...

... visits the blog today.  Thanks for making time to be here, Bill, and tell me, what is your current release?

WDK Order of Light is my second novel, which was released at the beginning of this year.  It’s book two of the New Blood series, which started with Crown Prince.
AW    What first got you into writing and why?
WDK For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a writing and telling stories.  Before I learned how to write, I would draw pictures of spaceships, then act out the battles, drawing in the laser blasts and explosions after erasing parts of the ships that were blown away by enemies. I’ve blown up the U.S.S. Enterprise 10,000 times.  After learning to write, I had my first poem published at the age of 9 and was first hired to write professionally at 15.  I originally wanted to be a cartoonist and start my own line of comic books.  That was my dream until I wrote my first book, when I was 12.
As far as the “why,” I would guess that it was a way to get positive attention.   I remember my mom being supportive of my stories at a young age.  For example, when I was not even school age, I asked her to feel my head because I was pretty sure that I was growing horns. She felt my head with both hands and said, “Yep, I can feel them!”   When I went back again, she said she was sure they were bigger than the last time, and so on.  Another example is when I was a teenager, I wanted to enter a novel competition for teens, but was having a hard time typing my hand-written manuscript on our old typewriter.  So my dad paid a secretary at his work to type it for me.  After, he read the manuscript and wrote notes about things in the margins that he thought were good or needed editing.  I can still remember the feeling of accomplishment I had when there was a one-word pencil-written comment after a scene: “Good.”  I received honorable mention in the competition and that gave me a sense of validation that I really did have some talent.
Bill's first book
AW   You write poetry, novels, articles for journals and you've worked as an editor.   Is there anything else, something completely detached from writing that you've always dreamed of achieving?
WDK I always wanted to get my Ph.D.  I thought I would have it by age 25 after getting my bachelors and masters young, but I got married and had kids instead.  My kids are grown now, so it goes through my mind all the time that I should go back to school.  Having been teaching college since 1996, I imagine that having been on the other side of the table would be an advantage.  It’s really a question of money, not time or desire.
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?
WDK I have an office that I share with my wife, Alison.  Of course, I have a laptop, so I can write anywhere at any time (which I do).  My wife and I have discussed building a little something in the yard for me to write in but decided against it.  She didn’t say it, but I think she was afraid that she would never see me again if I had a writing shed.
A young author at work!
AW    Finally, what would your eight-year old self think of, and say about, you today?
WDK My 8-year-old self was already in love with science fiction, thanks in large part to Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica.  Around that time, I read The Hobbit for the first time and had already read every book about mythology of the world in the library at my elementary school.  He would probably look at my personal library and think, “Wow … cool!”  He might be surprised that Kilpack Comics is not a household name but would love that I own swords and I still tell my stories.  He would love that I played Dungeons and Dragons and Marvel Super Heroes RPGs with my kids.  When I was 8, science fiction and especially fantasy were not popular; people actually made fun of me for loving that stuff.  So, when he saw that I’m still loving fantasy and science fiction, I would probably get a response from him like, “I knew it! I knew I wouldn’t change what I love for anybody!”

about the book… Despite the Guardian of Maarihk being condemned as anathema, and his very existence relegated to legend, Natharr resumes his ancient responsibilities as Mankind's protector.  He joins with a mysterious Firstborn companion, Ellis the Elder, to journey into the snowy reaches of Biraald, where his Sight promises he will find those who secretly adhere to the ways of the Olde Gods.
Although Biraaldi bloodlines show their Firstborn heritage more clearly than even in Maarihk itself, the two nations have never enjoyed peace.  It has been far worse since the rise of Brandt the Usurper to Maarihk's throne.  Natharr and Ellis must navigate threats not only against the Firstborn, but the Maarihkish, as they seek out the sympathizers he Saw who are brave enough to resist Maarihk's tyranny.  Only then can the damage be repaired from when Natharr chose personal happiness with Darshelle and the young crown prince over his weighty responsibilities as Guardian of Maarihk.
about the author… Bill is an award-winning and critically acclaimed internationally published writer, with works appearing in print, online, radio and television, starting with his first publication credit at the age of nine, when he wrote an award-winning poem.  As an adult, he received special recognition from L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest.  He has been editor and/or publisher of nineteen news and literary publications, both online and in print, with circulations as high as 770,000.  He is an accomplished cook and has two claims he thinks few can match: cooking nearly every type of food on a grill; and nearly being knocked flat when his grill exploded.
He received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Westminster College of Salt Lake City.  As an undergrad, he double-majored in communication and philosophy, while completing the Honors Program.  As a graduate student, he earned a master of professional communication with a writing emphasis.  He was also a high-performing athlete, qualifying for international competition in Greco-Roman wrestling.
He is a communication professor and a nationally recognized wrestling coach.  He is happily married to his high-school sweetheart and is father to five children, as well as helping to raise five step-children.  He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he continues to live, coach and teach.

You can follow Bill on his Website on Amazon Goodreads and on Bookbub

You can the book from Amazon UK and Amazon US