Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sally Quilford: The Secret of Lakeham Abbey

Welcome to Karen King who is chatting with Sally Quilford about her writing life.

Welcome, Sally, I understand you have a new book just out with Crooked Cat Publishing. Can
you tell us something about it?
The Secret of Lakeham Abbey is my first ‘straight’ crime novel. Though as with all my books there is an element of romance at its core, not least in the heart of Percy Sullivan, the 13 year old sleuth who wants to be heroic and save Anne Pargeter from execution. The novel is told in epistolary form; that is letters and journals as told by different characters.

You publish traditionally and self-publish. Can you tell us something about being a hybrid author?
I like the freedom that self-publishing gives me, so that I don’t always have to stick to the guidelines set by a publisher. It means I can find a home for books that would be otherwise hard to place. I can also self-publish previously published novels, so that readers online have access to works that might have only been available in print for a short time.
But, I also love being published traditionally, as it’s a terrific validation of my writing skills to have a professional editor decide that what I’ve written is good enough for their range of books. Plus, it pays the bills a bit better than self-publishing!

How much planning do you do before you start to write?
Very little, apart from spending several days thinking about my new idea. I may write a very brief summary of no more than 500 words, but other than that I just sit down and write. I figure I can iron out any problems with plot and research once I have the story on the page.

Do you work in long-hand first or write straight onto the computer?
Straight to the computer for me. In fact, I’ve almost forgotten how to write in longhand, I do so little of it now. Like all writers I always have a notebook to hand for ideas, but they’re literally just quick notes to get the story committed somewhere before I forget it.

How important do you think it is to have an agent?
I think it depends what you want to do with your writing career. If you want to be published by a major publishing house (and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be?) then an agent is essential for getting your work to the right people. However, for the sort of writing I do – My Weekly Pocket Novels and my self-published work – I don’t need an agent. I’ve heard the same said by Mills & Boon authors, who don’t need an agent to be published by M&B, and some say they prefer not to have one.
I would love an agent, as a way of moving my career onto the next level, but at the moment I don’t have anything to send to one and I can’t promise them fresh air!

Facebook or Twitter? Which is your preferred promotion tool?
Facebook all the way. There’s more scope for sharing blurb and pictures. And more scope for interacting with readers on a meaningful level. That said, the RNA’s own #TuesNews hashtag on Twitter is proving to be a fantastic promotional tool for so many members, including myself.

How do you relax when not writing?
I watch TV boxed sets on Netflix or DVD. I read. I spend time with my family. I go to RNA events whenever I can. But mostly I just think about what I’m going to write when I get back to it (not that I always do, you understand. My head is full of unused ideas!)

What’s next for author, Sally Quilford?
I would love to write another Percy Sullivan novel, as he’s proved to be very popular with readers and with me! I also have an idea for a saga, and an idea for a Christmas novel for My Weekly. But at the time of writing I’m supporting my husband through a serious illness so writing is taking a bit of a back seat. The wonderful thing is that I know it will be there waiting for me when I return to it.

Book Blurb:

When Percy Sullivan’s family take over Lakeham Abbey for the summer, it was a chance to get away from battered post-war London and be cossetted by the capable and pretty housekeeper, Anne Pargeter. 
They soon learn that the Abbey conceals a dark secret; one that someone was willing to kill to hide. When Anne is convicted of murder and sentenced to execution, Percy is determined to do all he can to save his friend from the gallows. He encourages everyone to tell their side of the story. This leads to some startling revelations, including a shocking secret that Percy’s mother tried to hide from him. 

Will it be enough to save Anne’s life?


Sally Quilford is the author of nearly 20 DC Thomson pocket novels, and several other novels published by Ulverscroft. Her stories and articles have been published in magazines in Britain and abroad. Until recently, Sally served on the committee of the Romantic Novelists Association and organized their bi-annual parties.

Twitter @quillers

Thank you for taking part, Sally, and good luck with your book.

This interview was by Karen King on behalf of the RNA Blogging Team

If you would like to be interviewed by the team please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Monday, May 30, 2016

Sue Fortin: Behind 'The Girl...'

Today, we speak to author, Sue Fortin, who writes romance, mystery and suspense for Harper Collins' imprint, Harper Impulse.

2015 saw a real spike in the word ‘Girl’ being used and, for me, I always think of Stig Larsen books as the forerunner for the trend, with Gillian Flynn following up closely behind. So,
when my publishers said they wanted to call my new novel The Girl Who Lied, my knee-jerk reaction was Really? Hasn’t it been overdone? There are so many ‘Girl’ books out there, did the publishing world really need another one?

My initial reaction was fueled by a debate I had followed on social media where some people positively hated the word ‘girl’ used when clearly the book was about a woman. For some, girl could only refer to a child or, at a push, young adult.

After the email suggesting The Girl Who Lied, I spent the next seven days bombarding my editor with every alternative I could think of. I was like some mad woman possessed, hounding my friends and family for different suggestions. My agent wasn’t spared either and it was, in fact, her reassurance that began to sway me. Indeed, there had even been a recent article about ‘The Girl’ titles, see HERE.

Broadly speaking, when readers see ‘The Girl …’ in the title, it is a clear indication of what to expect. (i) A strong female character (ii) an ordinary woman in an extraordinary situation (iii) a darker read (iii) mystery and suspense.

Slowly, I began to have a change of heart as my book ticked all of the above. It is full of lies, the characters all tell lies, even though they believe it’s for the right reasons. My main character, Erin, was a teenager when she first lied, so perhaps the title was even more suitable than I first thought.

I was finally convinced when I spoke to several other authors, who, without exception, said to run with it and trust the marketing team’s experience. So, that’s exactly what I’ve done and am now totally on-board with the title. Just as an aside, I’ve seen ‘The Woman …’ being used a lot, so perhaps that’s the next trend on the horizon.

About Sue:
Sue Fortin's originally published debut novel was awarded the INDIE Brag medallion and later when published by HarperImpulse was short-listed for the Joan Hessayon Award (2014). Sue was also short-listed for the Festival of Romance, New Talent Award (2013). Her second novel, Closing In, reached number one in the Romantic Suspense Kobo chart at the end of 2014. Sue blogs regularly with the online writing group, The Romaniacs
Lover of cake, dragonflies and France, hater of calories, maths and snakes, Sue was born in Hertfordshire, but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex.
Sue is married with four children, all of whom patiently give her time to write, but, when not behind the keyboard, she likes to spend her time with them, enjoying both the coast and the South Downs, between which they are nestled.

Twitter @suefortin1
Website & Blog www.suefortin.com

Thanks you, Sue, and good luck with your book. 

This blog piece is brought to you by Louisa Heaton on behalf of 'The RNA Blogging Team' 
If you would like to be interviewed for the blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, May 27, 2016

FOCUS ON: Norfolk Chapter

In our continuing monthly series, we are pleased to welcome Natalie Meg Evans. We began by asking the name of the Chapter?
Norfolk Chapter (not very original – but we’ve never discussed something snappier). We now have several members from neighbouring Suffolk, so cover much of East Anglia. We probably qualify to be renamed the 'The Intriguing Angles' or the 'Prevailing Easterlies'. Could be a subject for a lunchtime discussion...
How long has your chapter been running and how often do you meet?
We’ve been running for two-and-a-half years and we meet bi-monthly, though this month we're slipping as there seem to be a lot of deadlines hitting all at once. It's also a busy month for those of our members in the teaching profession.
Where is your regular meeting place?
We meet at the Pizza Express in the Forum in Norwich. Several of us come from quite a distance away and the Forum has the benefit of decent parking and also houses Norwich's large library. I'm not saying that some of us sneak it to check that our novels are on the shelf, but we could if we wished.
How many members attend your meetings?
6-9, though numbers are growing as new members join. 
I see you meet at Pizza Express. Do your meetings include a meal?
Definitely! For some of us, a decent pizza is at least twenty-five miles away from home, so our venue is a popular choice. We sit and talk, order from the menu and occasionally go crazy and have pudding too. No alcohol though as there is invariably a drive home.
Is your chapter open to non-members of the RNA?
Our membership is purely RNA, but we have people who are new to the association alongside others who have been members for a long time. The chapter is welcoming and a valuable source of information for newcomers. During the course of our meal, we share the kind of knowledge that only comes from direct experience, the joyful and the painful. The hilarious and, occasionally, the unprintable. We are a ‘social’ chapter who meet to exchange news, celebrate/commiserate and talk shop. Recently, we had a very welcome visit from Jean Fullerton, chapter liaison. That apart, we're pretty informal.
What do you have planned for 2016?
To continue as before.
What would you say makes your chapter of the RNA so special?
Norfolk is a very rural county and writers can feel isolated – it is lovely to get together and just let our writerly hair down.
Who is the contact for new members?
Melanie Hilton (melanie.hilton2015@btinternet.com)
Thank you for joining us today, Natalie.
This post is brought to you by the RNA blogging team.
If you would like to write for the blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

David Headley: Romance in the Court

With so many RNA members looking forward to the first Romance in the Court event on 26th May the RNA blog took the opportunity to chat with David Headley, owner of Goldsboro Books.

Thank you for agreeing to answer our questions. Our members are excited about the first
David Headley & Katie Fforde
‘Romance in the Court’. What made you decide to hold this event?
We wanted to hold an event that would compliment our existing events such as Crime in the Court and History in the Court. Romance in the Court is borne out of our desire to support women’s fiction and to raise the profile of the brilliant authors who write in this genre. It’s also a way of saying thanks to both the wonderful writers who support Goldsboro and our loyal customers. 

Can you tell us what ticket holders can expect from the event?
Anyone who has been to a party at Goldsboro will know that we love hosting parties. We make the evening a relaxed and fun event where writers can meet readers in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere whilst sipping lovely wine. It really is an evening of celebration.

You have a wonderful list of authors in attendance. Will attendees be able to purchase their books?
Yes, all of the featured authors will have their most recently published books for sale.

How did you select the listed authors?
Their publishers invited authors who are attending. We asked each publisher to recommend a handful of authors that they felt most suited to the event.

Have you held reader events for other genres?
Yes, every year for the last five years we have hosted Crime in the Court; History in the Court & Fantasy in the Court. They are hugely popular events with up to 500 people descending on Cecil Court. Both authors and readers love these evenings of celebration.

Can you tell us something about your bookshop?
Goldsboro Books is 17 years old. Daniel and I established Goldsboro Books in 1999 in our sitting room in Newbury, originally as an online bookseller. This soon grew and within 18 months we opened our first shop in Cecil Court. We now have three shops in Cecil Court and are one of the leading independent booksellers in the UK. We specialize in signed first editions and nearly every day we have an author visiting to sign their books.

What is your working day like? How do you split yourself between being a literary agent and owner of a well-known bookshop?
I am a bookseller. That is how I see myself. I run both companies but the two go hand in hand. I am very organised and manage my time effectively so that each company gets the very best time from me. My colleagues are very talented people and all of them help enormously and without them I couldn’t do it. I have also established a third company, Bookman and Black, which will launch in Autumn this year. It is an online bookshop that will provide readers with an alternative online shopping experience with all the joy and magic of browsing a physical bookshop, offering the
An earlier event
knowledge and expertise of the professional bookseller.
It is a very different model to any online bookshop currently operating.

When you aren’t working how do you enjoy your leisure time? Do you have any hobbies?
I love reading in my spare time, obviously. It is a way I relax as well as keeping up-to-date with what books are being published. I also love going to the gym and walking with my partner and our dogs.

Thank you, David. We hope that Romance in the Court will be the first of many events our members can attend to meet fellow authors.

Romance in the Court will be held on 26th May 6 – 9 PM.

For further details visit the Romance in the Court website

Featured authors include:
Veronica Henry,  Katie Fforde,  Janie Millman,  Judy Astley, Jules Wake, Jo Thomas, 
Vanessa Greene, Virginia Macgregor, Sarra Manning, Lisa Dickenson, Emma Fraser, 
Sue Watson, Fiona Field, Tasmina Perry, Carole Matthews, Hilary Boyd, Adele Geras, 
Cate Woods, Natalie Meg Evans, Stella Newman, Rowan Coleman, Cathy Bramley, 
Fanny Blake, Liz Fenwick, Victoria Walters, Stephanie Butland, Catherine Law, 
Sarah Long, Holly Martin, Eileen Ramsey, Madeleine Reiss, Julie Cohen, Lucy Foley, 
Sareeta Domingo, Fionnuala Kearney, Sarah Vaughan, Freya North, Isabelle Broom, 
Rachael Lucas, Alex Brown, Eva Rice, Nicola Cornick, Jodi Ellen Malpas, 
Cathy Woodman, Harriet Evans, Louise Lee, Gill Paul