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How Brexit Affected My Book By Sue Moorcroft

Sue MoorcroftToday on the book tour for Sue Moorcroft’s brand new book called ‘One Summer In Italy’, Sue talks about how Brexit affected her story.

Sometimes an idea for a novel comes to me – shazam! It’s a euphoric moment as I realise that the idea has enough depth to sustain a novel and I can give the characters conflict or missions that work with the initial idea.

Sadly, hard on the heels of this moment of euphoria comes the jarring moment I fall to earth. I see A SNAG.

The idea to write about seasonal workers living in Italy came to me when I was visiting Italy to run a writing course for Arte Umbria and was speaking to their English chef who’d come out to run their kitchen for the summer. It could be a shazam! idea, I realised. We chatted about the issues attendant on living-in versus living-out, the way days were structured, how the chef got her work, how she was paid, what her work entailed and a host of other details. I should have written the book there and then, before …

… Brexit.

The referendum (June 2016) hadn’t even taken place when I decided to write about seasonal workers living in Europe. It wasn’t until I got down to work in early 2017 that I realised the significance of the freedom to work in Europe not necessarily exist in the future. SNAG. I set about solving the problem as best I could.

One Summer In Italy

I gave my heroine an Italian dad. A member of my street team, Team Sue Moorcroft, lives in Italy and gave me a list of popular Italian names for 30-something females, from which I chose Sofia. Opinion seemed pretty fixed that entitlement to a European passport would open borders for its bearer. I know quite a few people in Northamptonshire with an Italian parent or parents so I’m familiar with the enduring love for Italy that never seems entirely overlaid by decades of living in England. Aldo asking Sofia to promise to visit his hometown of Montelibertà was born from this, and her story began to take shape. Why hadn’t Aldo been back? Why wasn’t he in touch with his brother? Why should Sofia go on his behalf and what would she find there? Why was she so keen to travel?

I didn’t want to repeat the device for Amy, the young friend Sofia makes in Casa Felice, the hotel where they work, but had to similarly Brexit-proof it. I saw that Amy could come from a family of ex-pats, and I situated them in Germany, partly because it’s my birth country (we were an army family) and partly because my brother’s family were ex-pats in Munich for years, so I knew something of the life. Why Amy had left home was clear in my mind. What became pivotal to the plot was why she couldn’t go back.

Levi, in comparison, was easy. To support various hotels, Montelibertà had to be a tourist town. I made him a tourist. One day a man I met eulogised about the joys of riding a motor cycle around Europe and I thought, ‘There you go, Levi. You can do that.’

One Summer in Italy has turned out to have a lot to say about freedom, in various forms. And what’s worth giving up.

You can buy One Summer in Italy from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The F Word By Lily Pebbles

The F Word ‘The F Word’ is Lily Pebbles thoughts on female relationships.

If there’s one piece of invaluable advice for women and girls of all ages, it is that there is nothing more important than creating and maintaining strong, positive and happy friendships with other women. In a culture that largely pits women against each other, I want to celebrate female friendships… all strings attached! If my 1998 diary is anything to go by, female friendships are incredibly complex and emotional but they’re the mini love stories that make us who we are. For many women, friends are our partners in crime through life; they are the ones who move us into new homes, out of bad relationships, through births and illnesses. In The F Word I’ve set out to explore and celebrate the essence of female friendship at different life stages and in its many wild and wonderful forms.

When it comes to female friendships, they are occasionally a bit of a minefield, they’re no longer as straightforward as when we were children, when we approached someone in the playground and asked if they wanted to be your friend.

Granted, now as an adult you could try that approach but it might result in some odd looks before backing away. As, we get older friendships become harder, we outgrow friends, as we might be travelling at different paces, we might have a difference of opinion or there just might be that one friend that doesn’t bring out the best in you.

‘The F Word’ is a great insight into the workings of the female mind and particularly the relationships between women. It might not provide any earth shattering information, but it provides informative and useful advice into dealing with different personalities at different times.

The book is written in a laid-back style that made for entertaining reading that I found myself relating to on many levels. My friendships vary, there’s work friends, social outgoings, school friends and there’s that one friend who’s always there, no matter what they are going through. That person, who means the world to you.

Lily writes frankly and honestly about her friendships through the years, how they’ve developed or faded away and she speaks frankly of moments of jealousy, that no-one ever wants to admit to.

There’s tips on how to handle all types of relationship dramas and there’s an useful inclusion of how to make new friends on social media and the do’s and don’t’s of interactions.

Although the cover of the book and the content of the book suggests it’s for an older market, I did think this book was more suited for the Young Adult audience, for those heading off to university and unsure how to make new friendships. Either way, ‘The F Word’ is a fun and fresh book with some warm humour and honesty dotted throughout.

You can buy The F Word: A personal exploration of modern female friendship from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Caroline England Reveals New Book – My Husband Lies

My Husband LiesJust ahead of the book tour next week, I’m delighted to be revealing the cover to Caroline England’s new book called ‘My Husband Lies’.

What the back cover says –

Do you really know your friends?

On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.

As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think

And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.

Tense, disturbing and clever, ‘My Husband’s Lies’ is a breath-taking read, perfect for fans of Lucy Clarke and Erin Kelly.

Check out Tuesday, 29th May, which is my spot on the tour next week, where Caroline will talk about why she enjoys writing domestic noir.

You can buy My Husband’s Lies from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Shaken And Stirred Book Tour – Extract

Shaken And StirredOn the book tour for the fourth novel in Bella Osborne’s ‘Ottercombe Bay’ series called ’Shaken And Stirred’, enjoy an extract from the tale.

Tamsyn was woken by the sound of Jason’s voice and by the time she’d opened her eyes he was placing a tray on her bed. It was the 22nd of March.

‘Good morning,’ he said ridiculously cheerily.

Tamsyn rubbed her eyes like a small child, yawned and blinked. ‘What’s all this?’

‘Your mum let me in. This is the start of Tamsyn Turvey Day,’ said Jason proudly.

‘Toast and tea and a yellow rose because I know you like those,’ he added pointing to the things on the tray. Tamsyn couldn’t help the beam of a smile spreading across her face. She had a feeling she was going to enjoy today very much.

Their first stop was her absolutely favourite place, the donkey sanctuary, and thanks to Jason knowing the vet’s cousin she was allowed to spend the morning being a keeper. ‘You all right?’ called Jason, from a safe distance as Tamsyn flung manure and straw into a wheelbarrow.

‘Yeah, this is great.’

‘I’ve never seen someone enjoy mucking out before.’

‘It’s ace. I definitely want my own donkey,’ said Tamsyn, her face serious.

Next there was feeding and grooming and before she knew it she was out of her green overalls and borrowed steel cap boots, and sitting with a cup of coffee in the sanctuary café.

‘This has been the best day ever,’ she said. ‘Thank you, Jason.’

‘Drink up,’ he said with a grin. ‘You’re only halfway through.’

He was so kind and thoughtful, she thought. If today was about showing her what things would be like to be his girlfriend he was selling himself well.

‘You know you don’t have to do any of this,’ she said.

‘It’s not a bribe. I’m not expecting you to declare your undying love for me or anything.’ He gave a strangled laugh.

‘You’re my friend and I want you to know how special you are. That’s all.’

The next stop was another favourite of hers. The freshest local fare from the fish and chip van eaten on the sea front with a wooden fork with seagulls swooping above them in the hope of snatching a stray chip. It was a beautifully sunny day and the sea was rolling tamely onto the beach – it didn’t come much better in Tamsyn’s book. When she thought she was too full to eat anything else Jason produced a cake box from his rucksack.

Her eyes were like a bush baby’s. ‘Is it?’

She was too excited to finish the sentence.

‘Scones and clotted cream,’ he announced, flipping open the box lid. Tamsyn was in heaven.

After a delicious fresh scone, which crumbled in her mouth, she licked her fingers and was interested by the mix of chip vinegar and clotted cream. ‘Jason, that was amazing. Thank you.’

‘Uh-uh,’ said Jason with a shake of his head. ‘Not done yet.’ He checked his watch. ‘Come on.’ He held out his hand and Tamsyn took it. His fingers were warm and curled gently around hers. They both looked at their entwined hands and grinned. Something was starting to feel right.

Did you enjoy that taster? Well, good news, you can buy Ottercombe Bay – Part Four: Shaken and Stirred from Amazon for only 95p!

A Family Recipe Book Tour

A Family RecipeOn the book tour for Veronica Henry’s new book called ‘A Family Recipe’, Vervonica shares some of her own favourite recipes.

On my kitchen shelf is a tiny metal box full of index cards, stuffed with recipes from my grandmothers, my parents and me, that I now have in my care. I’ve used many of them throughout my life, as well as adding to the collection. Many of the recipes are reminiscent of important family occasions.

And that was where the idea for A FAMILY RECIPE came from: a little box that holds recipes that relate to the life-changing events of the residents of 11 Lark Hill in Bath, from the war to the present day. Laura finds the box at a difficult time in her life, and uses it to help her move forward.

For this blog tour I am sharing some of my favourite recipes from my own box.

CROQUEMBOUCHE

Birthday cakes have always been important to me – a demonstration of love, but also recognition of a person and what they represent.

When my children were small it was a labour of love to produce something spectacular that didn’t involve huge amounts of skill – I am not in the least bit artistic or crafty, so intricate icing was always going to be out. My eldest son’s first birthday cake was a big round chocolate cake covered in plastic zoo animals: I can still remember buying a bag full from the local toy shop and planting their feet in the sticky icing. I followed that method religiously for years afterwards: making the biggest cake I could manage, then topping it with Thomas the Tank Engine and all his friends, Biker Mice, Mutant Hero Turtles … Another favourite was a cake smothered in the contents of a huge bag of pick ‘n’ mix – lurid, additive-laden but a joy to a horde of small boys.

I used plain Victoria sponge, or the miracle that is Coca Cola cake – ruinously sweet but the most forgiving concoction that works every time and is light, fluffy and squidgy.

Now the boys are bigger they have rather grown out of statement birthday cakes. But I’ve had several friends with landmark birthdays recently, and have discovered the joy of a croquembouche. There is nothing guaranteed to bring a bigger gasp of admiration than these gravity-defying towers, and they are surprisingly easy to assemble.

Profiteroles themselves are quite easy to make – use a recipe from your preferred chef of choice (you can’t go wrong with Delia or Nigella) or you can buy them plain from most supermarkets. I like to fill mine with beaten double cream flavoured with Cointreau and a little icing sugar to thicken it up a bit – poke a hole in the bottom of each profiterole and pipe the cream in until its nearly full.

You can buy a croquembouche cone or make one from cardboard. I use melted white chocolate to stick each profiterole to the cone, starting from the bottom and building them up on top of each other in circles. The beauty of a croquembouche is that it doesn’t have to look perfect – a higgledy-piggedly-ness adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. Remember to make it on the plate or board you are going to serve it on – it’s very dangerous to try and move it after assembly! Stick it in the fridge to harden the chocolate and strengthen the structure.

Once the tower is complete you can customise them to your heart’s content, depending on whether you are understated and have the nerve to leave them quite plain with just a drizzling of caramel, or if like me you have to throw everything at it! Sugared almonds are a traditional decoration, inserted randomly into the gaps – either gold or silver, or the pretty pastel ones in pink, white and yellow. I dip random profiteroles in white chocolate and roll them in dried flowers, which looks very rustic and pretty – or you could try crushed raspberries. I also highlight the occasional profiterole with edible gold leaf which looks stunning. There are so many pretty edible decorations available – you can go as rococco and over the top as you like. Traditionally they are covered in a web of spun sugar, but I’m way too scared for that …. For birthdays I stick in half a dozen mini sparklers to mark the occasion, or a single one of those fountain candles would be suitably dramatic and showy.

You can pre-order A Family Recipe from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 17th May 2018.