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Quentin Bates

Quentin BatesQuentin Bates is the author of six crime fiction novels and the translator of Ragnar Jónasson and Lilja Sigurðardóttir novels. His new novel, ‘Cold Breath’ is published by Constable on the 11th October.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
    I’ve been a journalist for quite a few years – nothing wildly exciting, as I write mostly about shipping – so it was a side-step into books and fiction. I did a creative writing course, mainly so I could have an afternoon a week off work, and the first book in the series grew out of that course – even though I had gone into it expecting to come out writing non-fiction.
  2. Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming book, ‘Cold Breath’?
    ‘Cold Breath’ is the latest in a series that centres around a Reykjavík police officer called Gunnhildur Gísladóttir who has solved a good few murders before now. In this book things are a little different, as I wanted to take her out of her comfort zone entirely, so instead of hunting a criminal, she has been assigned to be a bodyguard for a visitor to Iceland who has a price on his head. The two of them have little in common and don’t like each other a great deal, and it isn’t clear if the mysterious visitor is everything he claims to be. That’s about all I can say without giving away any spoilers.
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Lilja Sigurðardóttir (whose books I translate into English) because Lilja is loads of fun. Dominique Manotti and William Ryan, John Lawton, John le Carré and Len Deighton and because I love their books. Barbara Nadel because she has a wicked sense of humour, and writes brilliant books. My old friend Guðlaugur Arason because he was, like me, a seafarer, and he’s a fascinating character. And maybe Douglas Adams…
  4. Why did you decide to write crime?
    I’m not entirely sure. It was something I had been tinkering with for a while and when it came to it, it was almost a snap decision to go down the fiction route. As I said, I had expected to be firmly shackled to non-fiction rather than crime novels, but sometimes these decisions seems to take themselves.
  5. Is there anything that you would change about your writing journey?
    I would have liked to have started earlier, and a little more confidence at the outset would have been ideal.
  6. Who’s your favourite villain?
    The chilling General Carmona, the Hairless Mexican from one of Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden stories.
    Cold Breath

  7. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    ‘It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.’
    ‘Earthly Powers’ by Anthony Burgess
  8. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    It’s hard to tell, as there are so many. It’s probably ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.
  9. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ (preferably the omnibus edition of the whole trilogy in four parts), Saki’s collected short stories and ‘The Code of the Woosters’ by PG Wodehouse. On a desert island, I’d need something that raises a laugh.
  10. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Just concentrate on the story and don’t let yourself get sidetracked. Don’t be afraid to cut stuff that doesn’t work. Try to do something on your WiP most days, even if it’s just a few words, as it keeps it ticking over in your mind. Don’t ask your Mum’s opinion of your work – ask someone who doesn’t love you.
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    As little as possible. Preferably nothing more than a table with a keyboard and a screen.
  12. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    Right now I’m back in translation mode, working on two more books by Lilja Sigurðardóttir, Cage which will appear in English in 2019, and Betrayal in 2020, as well as the translation of Indriði G Thorsteinsson’s Cab 79 which has just been published. There’s my own stuff as well, which is on the back burner at the moment. There’s a story that’s brewing, but I’m not sure yet if this will be Gunnhildur or something different.

    You can buy Cold Breath from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Isabelle Broom

Isabelle BroomIsabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts in London before joining the ranks at Heat magazine, where she was the Book Reviews Editor. Always happiest when she off on an adventure, Isabelle now travels all over the world seeking out settings for her novels, as well as making the annual pilgrimage to her true home – the Greek island of Zakynthos. Currently based in Suffolk, where she shares a cottage with her dog Max.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
    I have been writing stories down ever since I could write things down, but even before that I enjoyed creating imaginative games with my toys. I was a big fan of ‘Care Bears’ as a kid, and I would make up plays and have my toys act them out. My dream growing up was always to become an author one day, but it wasn’t until about four years ago, when I won a short story competition, that I felt confident enough to tackle a big, solid novel. And thank heavens I did! I continued to work full-time while writing my first four novels, but last summer I made the decision to scale back a bit and turn my hand to freelancing, which I still do today. I’m based in Suffolk now, where I share a small converted barn with my dog Max, and on the days that I’m not working in the city, I’m writing, plotting, reviewing books for heat magazine or I’m off travelling the globe to research novel locations. It’s a very busy life, but it’s all mine and I love it.
  2. Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming book, ‘One Thousand Stars and You’?
    My new novel is set in the colourful and endearingly chaotic country of Sri Lanka, where Alice and her two best friends have travelled to for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to celebrate turning 30. Alice’s long-term boyfriend Richard has not gone with them, however – adventurous locations are definitely not his scene – but he says to Alice that when she gets back, they should take the big next step in their relationship. For Alice, who was outgoing as a child until having her wings clipped by a nasty accident, this holiday feels like her last hurrah. And then we have Max. The three girls encounter former soldier Max and his friend Jamal a few days into their trip, and the five of them begin to travel together. Drawn to one another from the off, Alice and Max soon discover that they have lots of things in common, but is it just friendship they’re feeling, or something deeper? It’s a story about being brave, being yourself, and being bold – but most of all it’s an exploration of love in all its many guises. Is simple contentment good enough if it means saving those close to you from upset, or should you always chase down happiness as ferociously as you possibly can?
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Oh, gosh! Well, there are just so many authors that I love and respect, across all genres. To keep things simple, I’ll stick to fellow scribes of so-called “women’s fiction”, and I would choose Rosie Walsh (author of ‘The Man Who Didn’t Call’) because she is wise, warm, funny and writes more beautifully about love than anyone else, Katie Marsh (‘The Rest Of Me’), who makes me laugh, think, cry and feel with her wonderful books, and Cesca Major, due to her wit, passion and utterly captivating writing.
  4. Why did you decide to write female fiction?
    I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision, to be honest. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to “write the books you want to read”, which is exactly what I do. I grew up reading a variety of genres and still enjoy many types of both fiction and non-fiction, but the subject that has always fascinated me the most is people – how lives are shaped by love, tragedy, heartbreak and success; how we respond to one another; how we find someone to share life with; how travel helps us to grow. I pour so many of my own experiences into my writing, and I believe that if you begin with a foundation of truth, then you can’t go far wrong. I want books that make you think and feel as well as just entertain you, so those are the stories I try to write.
  5. Your books are always set in amazing locations that you travel to for research. Where has been your favourite location?

    That’s such a toughie! The thing is, every location has its own set of merits. The Greek island of Zakynthos, where I set my debut novel ‘My Map Of You’, occupies a very special place in my heart because I used to live there – and still return every year. It’s more of a second home than a mere novel setting, and I dream about retiring there one day. Prague is so beautiful and magical, Mojacar in Spain is like something from a fairy tale and Lake Como is staggeringly stunning – plus, they have all the cutest dogs there. Sri Lanka – despite poisoning me with its contaminated water twice now – holds so many cherished memories for me, and I long to go back and explore more. I will let you in on a secret, however – the setting for my 2019 novel, which I’m halfway through writing now – is definitely a contender for very close second favourite after Greece…

  6. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    There are so many! I love the very beginning, when you sit down with a few ideas and a blank page and start plotting. I love seeing my covers for the very first time, because that is the moment you realise your scrambled collection of words and thoughts will one day be a real book, and I get a huge buzz out of delivering that final, copy-edited and page-proofed edit, knowing that the next time I see it will be when it’s delivered back to me in a big pre-publication box of shiny finished novels. Of the writing nuts and bolts, my favourite bit is when characters begin interacting. You can plot and plan and outline those people as much as you want, but you never really know them until they begin communicating with one another – that’s the point when the real magic starts to happen.

  7. One Thousand Stars And You

  8. Is there anything that you would change about your writing journey?
    I feel extremely fortunate to have secured myself an incredible agent and a legendary publisher, and while there have been ups (that first call saying an offer was in) and downs (my first big structural edit – I lay in the bath and wept), overall, it’s been a total blast. The fact that I get to make up stories for a living still prompts numerous pinch-me moments, and I am and continue to be so very grateful. Of course, if I had a magic wand in my hand right now, then a few (hundred thousand) more sales wouldn’t go amiss. Oh, and a film rights deal with Aidan Turner snaffling the lead role, please!
  9. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    Impossible question klaxon! There are too many, I honestly don’t have one favourite – I have many favourites. I can tell you my favourite book of the past few months, though – ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ by Adam Kay. Not only hilarious, but absolutely vital. I cannot recommend it enough.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘War and Peace’, because it’s huge and I love it, but never have time to read it. ‘Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince’, because I love all-things Potter and this book is my favourite of the seven, and probably something by Bill Bryson, too, to keep me chuckling. I still cry tears of mirth whenever I read ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Decide which genre you want to write within, then set yourself a challenge to read the Top 10 bestsellers in that category, be it crime fiction, sci-fi dystopia or romance. As you read, note down observations. Ask yourself what these authors have done differently, or better, and how they have developed their characters, then map yourself a list of dos and don’ts. If you haven’t already, then pick up a few “how to write” books and learn as much as you can about structure and plot. Trust me, getting lost in the middle of your novel will only knock your confidence and set you back. The planning may seem dull compared to the fun writing part, but it will help you to stay on track and make sure that your character arcs don’t vanish into thin air. Try to write every day, even if it’s just a few lines, and on the days the creative juices aren’t flowing, go back and edit what you’ve already done. You need to live and breathe a book for it to really flourish.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Probably Post-it notes – and a pen. Lots of thoughts occur to me when I’m in the writing flow and scribbling them down is absolutely paramount. The one item I do NOT need is my phone. So, so, soooooo distracting!
  13. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I guess the biggie is that my new novel ‘One Thousand Stars and You’ is out now. There’s also a competition currently running on my Penguin Author Page (www.penguin.co.uk/authors/isabelle-broom/126001/), where you can win the chance to be a named character in my summer 2019 novel. I often do giveaways and polls etc on my Twitter and Facebook, and whenever I embark on a research trip abroad, I use the hashtag #BroomsBookTrip on all my many Instagram photos. Just search for @isabelle_broom to find me. My next big adventure is coming up on 2 November, and it’s a DOOZY!

  14. Follow Isabelle Broom on Twitter Isabelle Broom and Facebook Isabelle Broom for updates.

    You can buy One Thousand Stars and You from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Chloe Esposito

Chloe Esposito author photo (c) Charlie Hopkinson.jpg

    Before putting pen to paper and writing the ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know’ trilogy, Chloe Esposito was an English teacher. ‘Bad’ is the second book in the trilogy.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    I have always wanted to become a novelist and used to write in secret in my spare time. When I hit 30, I suddenly became aware of my own mortality and thought, ‘S**t, I had better get on with it! It’s now or never. I enrolled on the Writing a Novel course at the Faber Academy. When I had 21 literary agents offering to represent me and my work, I realised I had to focus on writing. I was beyond delighted to quit my job as a management consultant and become a full time author.
  2. Can you tell us about you latest book ‘Bad’
    ‘Bad’ is the second book in the ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know’ trilogy featuring my badass anti-heroine, Alvina Knightly. Alvie has been described as uncensored, unhinged and unforgettable and she is an evil identical twin. Bad continues where Mad left off, and follows Alvie to Rome where she embarks on a life-or-death cat and mouse chase with her hitman boyfriend, Nino. I like to think of it as an x-rated version of Finding Nemo. It is a darkly comic and sexy thriller: ‘Fleabag’ meets ‘Kill Bill’.
  3. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    I love any story that begins ‘Once upon a time…’ I was a massive bookworm as a child and love reading bedtime stories to my daughters (if they are good).
  4. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Gillian Flynn and Stephen King. Oh and Patricia Highsmith even though she is dead (!?)
  5. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    I would start it seriously much earlier and bypass the boring years spent as a management consultant writing endless business reports.
  6. What made you write female fiction?
    Having my two daughters had made me a feminist. I wanted to write a novel with a strong, complex female character who breaks all the rules and stereotypes to prove that girls can be just as bad as the bad boys, if not more so.
  7. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    Wuthering Heights.
  8. Bad

  9. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    Emily Brontë
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘Wuthering Heights’
    The complete works of Shakespeare
    ‘The Bible’ because I have never read it and I probably should have and it’s incredible long so will keep me busy…
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Reading. In order to write well, you first need to read everything. Then get a writing group for regular feedback on your work.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    My laptop. I am pretty low maintenance.
  13. And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the of the website?
    I am writing ‘Dangerous to Know’ at the moment and am really excited about how the Alvina Knightly trilogy will end! I am also very excited about the movie of ‘Mad’, which is currently in production at Universal Studios!

Follow Chloe Esposito on Twitter Chloe Esposito for updates.

You can buy Bad from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Claire Allan

Claire AllanA native of the Maiden City aka Derry, Claire Allan was a journalist before she turned her hand to writing books. Now she’s The Irish Times bestselling author of eight women’s fiction titles and ‘Her Name Was Rose’ is her debut thriller with Avon Books.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    Hello! I’m a 42 year old, mum of two (one son, 14 and one daughter, 9) from Derry. I worked as a journalist for 18 years while also writing women’s fiction which was published by Poolbeg Press. I decided to make the leap to writing full time two years ago, which was mildly terrifying! I’ve always written and always loved to read so from a very young age I hoped to one day be a writer. As a journalist I worked for the print media because I wanted to be paid to write for a living. I decided when I was 29, after a very dear friend passed away, to sit down and write my first novel. And the rest is history.
  2. Where do you get your ideas from?
    Ideas can come from the strangest of places. Sometimes it’s a snippet of a conversation, or I can see an interaction between two people which makes me wonder what their story is – and I love making up a story for them. When it came to ‘Her Name Was Rose’ the first line “It should have been me” just popped into my head and refused to leave. I became obsessed with building a character and a story around that line and it developed from there. At the same time, I was intrigued by how social media has changed how we grieve collectively. And how we portray ourselves. It was fun to tease a story out from that.
  3. If you could rewrite any book, what would it be?
    Oh Gosh, of my own books? I look on my first book ‘Rainy Days and Tuesdays’ and can see how I’ve learned so much since then. It’s a very raw and ready book in a lot of ways and it has the most “me” in it. I do find it difficult to read, because it raises a lot of emotions for me and my previous experience of post-natal depression. But also, technically, I can see how it could be made a better book. If it’s a question about any other writer’s book? I wouldn’t rewrite any, but I would have loved to have written ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ (Marian Keyes) or the brilliant ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ (Gail Honeyman).
  4. Her Name Was Rose

  5. You originally wrote female fiction for Irish publishers Poolbeg, what made turn to write thrillers?
    I fell into it by accident. It was never really my intention to write a thriller and to be honest, I would never have believed that I could have. I loved writing women’s fiction and I’m very proud of the books I wrote and published with Poolbeg and I’m eternally grateful to them, especially editor Paula Campbell, for her support over the years. But I did want to write something a little darker. It was put to me by an editor that f I wanted to go darker, I shouldn’t do it in half measures. She gave me permission in a way to unleash my dark side and I found writing a book so completely different to anything I had done before to be a brilliant experience. It was great fun to be a bit evil!
  6. What do you think makes a good book?
    For me it is the combination of a pacey plot but with lots of heart too. I like my books (both that I write and read) to be character driver and to pull at the heartstrings in a myriad of ways. If the reader can relate to the characters in the book (even the bad ones, because no one is simply either bad or good, there are shades of grey in everyone) that goes a long, long way to making a book work for me.
  7. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    There’s no secret that my literary hero is Marian Keyes. I read ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ when I was a 21 year old student in Belfast and I have read each and every Marian book since. I feel as if I’ve grown up with her. Her books opened up a new world to me – of serious, but jaw-droppingly funny takes on life. Of real characters with real flaws. On a personal level, Marian has inspired me not only with the longevity of her career but the way she has battled her personal demons and helped others by being so very open about those.

    It was a real dream come true when she read ‘Her Name Was Rose’ and agreed to endorse the book. I had to pinch myself.

  8. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Oh my, that’s a hard one! (A brilliant one, but a tough one). I tend to get star-struck around authors but I’d love to get Marian Keyes, Jojo Moyes, Anna McPartlin, Kate Beaufoy and Rowan Coleman all in a room together and talk books. If I could bring back a writer from the dim and distant past, it would be amazing to have Jane Austen in the room, or Emily Bronte – but I fear she might be a bit too emo for me.
  9. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
    Genuinely it was to go throttle at everything you write. Let your mind run wild. Don’t be constrained by the person you are day to day, or who you think you should be. Don’t be cautious. Write and love it.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Well, the aforementioned ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ which is my go-to read when I’m feeling a bit meh and it picks me up every time. I think I’d also bring ‘Wuthering Heights’ which I keep meaning to re-read. For a new book, I’d bring ‘The Book of Love’ by Irish writer Fionnuala Kearney which will be released in October. I’ve had a sneak peek and it is just the loveliest, most life affirming, beautiful book. I could read it 100 times and not tire of the story.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Read, read and read some more. In your genre and in others. See how other authors get it right, or wrong. Pay attention to structure and what keeps you turning the pages. Pay attention to how dialogue is written. You can’t write without knowing what works.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    I’m trying to think of a really, really inspiring answer but the truth is probably a can of Diet Coke to keep me caffeinated
  13. And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    Yes! While all eyes are on ‘Her Name Was Rose’, I’m also working on my second thriller ‘Apple of My Eye’ which is about a mother’s obsession with her daughter – and which will be published by Avon in January 2019. I’m also playing with a few ideas for a third thriller. It’s at the exciting stage where new characters are just starting to form in my head.

Follow Claire Allan on Twitter Claire Allan for updates or check out her website at Claire Allan

You can buy Her Name Was Rose from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Jane Corry

Jane CorryJane Corry was a magazine journalist who spent three years working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men. She had never been inside a jail before and this often hair-raising experience helped inspire her Sunday Times bestselling psychological thrillers, ‘Blood Sisters’ and ‘My Husband’s Wife’. ‘The Dead Ex’ is her latest book.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    My name is Jane Corry and I write psychological suspenses. They are about families whose lives suddenly change without warning. I am published by Penguin. My previous two books ‘My Husband’s Wife’ and ‘Blood Sisters’ got into the top 10 of the ‘Sunday Times’ bestseller list. I’ve always written for as long as I can remember. I began with poetry and little stories from about the age of three or four. After university, I became a magazine journalist for many years and then, after my first marriage ended, I took a job as a writer in a high security male prison. This made my writing darker! I then got married again which made me very aware of how family relationships can change. I wrote ‘My Husband’s Wife’ on the strength of this. A friend of a friend put me in touch with an agent who then sold it to Penguin.
  2. Can you tell us about your new book ‘The Dead Ex’
    Vicki is an aromatherapist with a troubled past. One wet windy night, the police come knocking at her door. They ask when she last saw her missing husband. Vicki tells them it was five years ago. When they leave she picks up her mobile and calls him. Scarlet’s mother is a drug addict. Scarlet is taken into care at the age of eight. Each of my main characters tells her story until we get to the point where the two of them meet.
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    I’d ask other writer friends like BA Paris, Kate Furnivall and Teresa Driscoll. I’d also invite Martina Cole because I interviewed her once and thought she had some great tales about the underworld. If it was possible, I’d also like to invite the ghosts of writers have passed away such as Helen Dunmore and Mary Wesley.
  4. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    “The mole had been working very hard all morning, spring cleaning his little home.”This is the opening line from ‘Wind In The Willows’. It was the first book which my father read to me. Now he is 94 and I read poetry to him.
  5. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    I’d have stopped being a magazine journalist in my thirties and begun writing novels earlier. It requires a leap of faith to give up a steady job and do something that’s quite uncertain. Bit it was worth it!
  6. Who’s your favourite villain?
    My cousin Rachel in Daphne du Maurier’s novel with the same name. Some might say she’s not a villain at all but I’m not so sure….
    The Dead Ex
  7. What made you decide to become a thriller writer?
    It was partly my time in prison (see answer to question one) and also because I love creating twists and turns. I’m one of those annoying people who likes to guess what’s going to happen at the beginning of a book or drama.
  8. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    The complete editions of ‘Trollope’. ‘The Bible’. ‘Palgrave’s Golden Greasury’.
  9. From books to films, what’s been your favourite adaptation?
    ‘Gone With The Wind’. My second husband recently took me on a road trip to the southern states of America. We were lucky enough to visit Margaret Mitchell’s house. It was a dream come true for me. I’ve always admired her.
  10. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Viewpoint. Readers need to be inside the character’s head in order to believe the story.
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    My dog. He sits on the sofa behind me and tells me when it’s time to get up and have a walking break along the beach! We have to wrap up warm as it’s really cold at the moment!
  12. And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m currently writing next year’s book for Penguin. I can’t say anything about it right now but I live it in my head every day while writing. Actually, I will give you a clue! I became a granny two years ago and it’s changed my life.

Follow Jane Corry on Twitter Jane Corry for updates or check out her websitel at Jane Corry