Skip to content

Jaime Raven

'The Husband's ConfessionJaime is a former newspaper and television journalist who lives in Southampton, the city where ‘The Madam’ is set. ‘The Mother’ 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.
    I’m married with three children and live in Southampton, UK. I used to be a journalist and worked in newspapers and television for a number of years. I was always very keen to cover crime stories and I draw on that experience now when writing my books. ‘The Mother’ is the third Jaime Raven novel for Avon/Harper Collins. The others are ‘The Madam’ and ‘The Alibi’. All three feature a strong female protagonist and a collection of ruthless villains.

    I got into writing thanks to my mother who was a big Agatha Christie fan and she encouraged me to read from an early age. I then started writing short stories for magazines before completing my first novel at fifteen. But it wasn’t anywhere near good enough to submit to a publisher.

  2. What is your new book ‘The Mother’ about?
    ‘The Mother’ is about single mum Sarah Mason whose little girl is abducted. The kidnapper claims he’s done it in order to punish Sarah, who also happens to be a detective with the Metropolitan Police. Her suffering is made worse when she’s sent upsetting video clips of her baby. We follow the hunt for the child and focus on how the nightmare impacts on Sarah and her estranged husband.
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    It would have to be Martina Cole, Jessie Keane, Kimberley Chambers and Roberta Kray. My books are in the same genre as those authors – gritty urban crime novels. I’m also an avid reader of all their books. They’re wonderful authors who know how to tell a good story.
  4. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    Without doubt it’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. He is such a complex and compelling character. He’s also totally original – the ex-military cop turned drifter who gets into lots of dangerous scrapes in his relentless pursuit of justice. He’s likeable as well as enigmatic. It doesn’t surprise me that the books are international best sellers and have been turned into movies.
  5. Was there ever a book that you read, that didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it and left you disappointed?
    ‘The Girl on the Train’. I read it because of all the reviews and hype but I struggled to get to the end. I didn’t like any of the characters and at times I found it quite confusing. I also didn’t think there was much of a story to it and it was a huge disappointment. The film was not much better.
  6. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    When I finish the first draft and write THE END. It’s always such a relief. But I also experience a strong sense of accomplishment because it usually takes six or seven months to get to that point. During that time I find I can’t concentrate on anything else and it has a big impact on family life.
  7. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    This is an easy one. It’s the first line of ‘Peter Pan’ by JM Barrie, which begins: All children, except one, grow up.

    This is such a dramatic and memorable sentence. And although it’s years since I read the book I’ve never forgotten it.

  8. What do you think makes a good book?
    It’s very simple as far as I’m concerned. A good book needs a story that has pace and characters that you either love or hate. It shouldn’t be over-complicated or over-written. And the ending must be satisfying.

    Structure is also important and I’m not keen on books that keep going back and forth in time because I find them confusing and distracting.

  9. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Well if they’re books I’ve already read then I would take the following because I’d be more than happy to read them again.
    ‘The Godfather’ by Mario Puzo. This is one of my all-time favourites. Such a great book with a marvellous cast of crooked characters.
    ‘Red Dragon’ by Thomas Harris. To me this is one of the best and scariest thrillers ever written. It blew me away and introduced me to a character named Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic serial killer. Wow! Since I’ve not read it for years I’m sure I’d enjoy it again.
    ‘I Am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes. An epic novel that was a huge success around the world and deservedly so. It’s very long so would keep me busy for days on a desert island.
  10. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    I always advise budding writers to read as many books as they can in their chosen genres. And while reading make notes. Study the different styles of writers, especially structure and descriptive prose. And they should keep telling themselves that they will eventually write much better books than any of those they’ve read.
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A cup of hot coffee. Despite what many of my friends think writing is hard, tiring work and I need coffee to keep me going.
  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’ve just finished the first draft of a new book for Avon/Harper Collins. The working title is ’The Threat’ and is due to be published early next year. That’s assuming, of course, that Avon are happy with it. I don’t want to give anything away but I can say that it’s the longest book I’ve written and has already been described by one of the few people who’ve read it as my most ambitious yet.

Check out her Jaime Raven’s website at Jaime Raven for updates

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

Annie Darling

True Love at the Lonely Hearts BookshopAnnie Darling lives in London in a tiny flat, which is bursting at the seams with teetering piles of books. Her two greatest passions in life are romance novels and Mr Mackenzie, her British Shorthair cat. ‘True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop’ is the second book in her ‘Lonely Hearts Bookshop’ series.

  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 Annie. Long time reader, fairly new writer of lighthearted romantic comedy. I live in London and I like bookshops, cats, long walks… (This is starting to sound like a dating profile!)

    I’ve always loved love stories, always wanted to write one, had so many false starts but then I ended up writing first draft of ‘The Little Bookshop Of Lonely Hearts’ in a frenzied six weeks and everything fell into place.

  2. Can you tell us about your new book ‘True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop’.
    It can be read as a standalone but it’s the second book in my ‘Lonely Hearts Bookshop’ series, set in a Bloomsbury bookshop, Happy Ever After, “a one stop shop for all your romantic fiction needs.” It’s the story of Verity Love, Happy Ever After’s manager, vicar’s daughter, middle one of five sisters, Pride & Prejudice obsessive and introvert. She absolutely does not want a relationship and neither does posh architect, Johnny. But to get their meddling, matchmaking friends to leave them alone, they join forces to do the summer season of weddings, birthdays and barbecues. But things don’t go quite according to plan.
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Jane Austen (of course,) Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper and JK Rowling. All the J’s and some very lively discussion!
  4. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    At the very beginning, when I have my idea and outline and I’m raring to go and anything seems possible and I’m going to write the best book ever. Alas, disillusionment soon sets in.
  5. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    Nick and Nora Charles from Dashiell Hamnett’s ‘Thin Man’ series. #relationshipgoals
  6. From books to films, what’s been your favourite adaptation?
    The BBC production of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I will accept no substitutes.
  7. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    I wish I’d had the courage and the self-belief to take the plunge and start writing much earlier.
  8. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Oh gosh! Difficult one. Maybe ‘The Collected Mapp’ & Lucia novels by EF Benson – I’m sure you can get them in one volume so it’s not cheating. ‘Lace’ by Shirley Conran and ‘The Mitford Letters’.
  9. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Read! Read! Read! You can’t be a writer without being a reader first.
  10. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A great big pot of tea.
  11. And finally Annie do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m hard at work on the third book in the series, Nina’s story, ‘On The Shelf At The Lonely Hearts Bookshop’, out next spring.

    Thank you for having me your blog. xxx

Follow on Twitter Annie Darling for updates.

You can buy True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Allegra Huston

Allegra HustonAllegra Huston has written screenplays, journalism, and one previous book, ‘Love Child: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found’. After an early career in UK publishing, including four years as Editorial Director of Weidenfeld & Nicolson, she joined the film company Pathé as development consultant. She wrote and produced the award-winning short film Good Luck, Mr. Gorski, and is on the editorial staff of the international art and culture magazine Garage. She lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her 14-year-old son.

  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 read English at university, then went into publishing. I was an editor at Chatto & Windus and then Weidenfeld & Nicolson, before going to work for a film production and distribution company. That was when I started writing screenplays. I was also writing a few magazine articles here and there, mostly travel. I woke up one morning with the idea to write a piece about how lucky I feel to have two fathers (not two gay fathers – it’s a complicated story…) and that article eventually became my first book, ‘LOVE CHILD: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found’. The nice thing about writing a book, after writing screenplays, is that there’s a comparatively short path to its emergence into the world. But I couldn’t write a second memoir: I’d already told the personal story I wanted to tell. So I started to think about a novel.
  2. Can you tell us about your new book ‘Say My Name’.
    It’s a love story between an older woman and a younger man – she’s 48, he’s 28. But really it’s a story about a woman’s transformation and self-empowerment. I knew I wanted to write a book that would be fun to read, that would be intimate, and that would have the texture of real life: not just a romp. My romantic fantasy, for as long as I can remember, was that a great song would be written for me. So that was the starting point for my story. The man would have to be a musician; he’d have to be in his twenties … And the woman, Eve, was in a life situation very like my own when I began writing.
  3. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    Editing, definitely. That’s my comfort zone; I’ve been doing it for thirty years. I find the blank page pretty terrifying still, but I love the feeling when it’s all coming together.
  4. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    Ishmael in ‘Moby-Dick’. He’s not really a hero: he’s an adventurer but also an observer, level-headed in the middle of the craziness. I most identify with Anne Elliot in ‘Persuasion’.
  5. From books to films, what’s been your favourite adaptation?
    ‘The Year of Living Dangerously’. One of my favourite films of all time. A wonderful book and a brilliant adaptation. Also ‘The English Patient’, I liked the film better than the book, which is rare for me.
  6. Was there ever a book that you read, that didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it and left you disappointed?
    Absolutely! But writing is so damn difficult, I don’t have any desire to criticise anyone else’s work. That’s why I’ve always said no to reviewing. I love helping someone make their book better, before it’s published. After it’s published, it’s too late to find fault. Just congratulate them for doing it at all.
  7. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    I would read something else at university. Anthropology, maybe, or psychology. Having such a developed critical mind doesn’t necessarily help you when you start writing yourself. Very few of us write a finished draft, or anything close to it, straight onto the page; but the critical mind unreasonably expects it.
    Say My Name
  8. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    I’m assuming that the collected works of Shakespeare are already on any desert island worth its salt. And that you’d ban a manual on how to build a boat out of available materials. I’d bring ‘Moby-Dick’, which I find endlessly fascinating; Ford Madox Ford’s ‘The Good Soldier’, because I’m still trying to figure out quite how he pulled that off; and Julian Jaynes’s ‘The Origin of Consciousness’ and the ‘Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind’. The theory behind it has been disproved, but it’s still one of the most extraordinarily intense, erudite, preconception-shattering books ever written – one of those books that you feel that you’re almost understanding, but then you think you haven’t quite, and have to read it again.
  9. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Writing screenplays teaches you a lot about structure, and about getting meaning into the story that’s not spelled out on the page. I think that’s a very useful discipline for all storytellers. I also love ten-minute writing exercises. They don’t give you enough time to think: it’s improv for writers. And that’s where the sparks, the energy, the originality, come from.
  10. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A mug of tea: tulsi or kukicha.
  11. And finally Allegra do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    ‘Say My Name’, my first novel, is published on 27 July. I’m appearing at the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall on Sunday, 30 July, at 4 pm, in conversation with Rowan Pelling, editor of ‘The Amorist’ and with a special appearance by the brilliant Sarah Gillespie, who wrote the song that’s at the centre of ‘Say My Name’; and on Woman’s Hour on August 1. I’ll be teaching a memoir writing workshop in Deia, Mallorca, October 22-27; details on my website, allegrahuston.com – join us!

Follow on Twitter Allegra Huston for updates or check out her website at Allegra Huston

You can buy Say My Name from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Angela Clarke

Angela ClarkeAngela is an author, playwright, columnist and professional speaker. Her debut crime thriller ‘Follow Me’ was named Amazon’s Rising Star Debut of the Month January 2016, long listed for the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger in the Library 2016, and short listed for the ‘Good Reader Page Turner’ Award 2016. ‘Follow Me’ has now been optioned by a TV production company. The second instalment in the ‘Social Media Murder’ Series, ‘Watch Me’ is out January 2017. And the third ‘Trust Me’ is out now.

  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 Angela Clarke and I’m a chocoholic. I also write the ‘Social Media Murder’ Series, including CWA Dagger in the Library long listed and Dead Good Reader Page Turner short listed ‘Follow Me’, which has been option by a TV production company, and Sunday Times bestseller ‘Watch Me’. I got into this by accident, I set out to write about the internet and how we use our new found online power for good and bad, but the body count was so high it had to be crime, baby.
  2. Your successful social media series is all about social media, why did you decide to use this topic?
    So many crime novels are based in a community, with that location shaping both the characters and the story. With 15 million people in the UK on Twitter, and 24 million Brits using Facebook every day, social media is our newest, biggest and fastest growing community. It links people who might otherwise never have interacted or met, opening us up, and influencing us in ways we’re only just starting to appreciate. It’s fresh and fertile ground to explore the darker side of humanity.
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Oh! So many! Like most writers, I was a reader first and I love books. I’ve just finished Luca Veste’s ‘Blood Stream’, which was dark and disturbing, and delved into reality TV, online interaction, love and other themes close to my heart, so I definitely want him in. I’ve also just read Steve Cavanagh’s ‘The Liar’ which was a rip-roaring legal thriller with a former con artist turned lawyer at its heart: his Eddie Flynn is an amazing character. So he’s in! And then we need some ladies to even out the testosterone; I’d go for Claire McGowan, Steph Broadribb, SJI Holliday, Jane Casey and Sarah Hilary, because I love their characters and their work, and I know I can get pissed with them. Wine is an important part of a book club, right?
  4. What’s your favourite form of social media to communicate on?
    It changes daily, and for different reasons. I like Twitter for jokes, Facebook for secret clubs, Snapchat for filters, and Instagram for making me feel calm. I’m having a hectic day today, so Instagram it is. Excuse me while I go meditate over a shot of some beautifully lit, artfully arranged books and a cup of coffee.
  5. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    Either the bit at the very beginning, when you have this idea you can barely contain, and it’s bubbling out of you at every opportunity. (Not to be confused with the bit where you actually start typing). Or the bit at the end when you’ve redrafted, and what was as unwieldy word monster has taken shape and looks like a real book. And you give a big sigh of relief because you can still do it (and you feared you couldn’t).
  6. What do you think makes a good crime book?
    A killer hook. A pacey read. And enough tension you need a massage while reading it.
  7. If Freddie and Nas were to be adapted for screen, who do you imagine playing the ladies?
    Freddie and Nas are quite young, only 24 in ‘Trust Me’, which makes it hard to pick. For Freddie, you want someone like Pheobe Waller-Bridge or Lena Dunham five years ago. Bel Powley from ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’ would be great. For Nas, perhaps Amber Rose Revah or Aysha Kala, who were both great in ‘Indian Summers’. It speaks volumes of the media industry, that there aren’t a huge number of young, female, mixed heritage or British Asian actresses getting screen time at the moment.
  8. From books and films, who has been your favourite bad guy?
    The unnamed serial killer in Graeme Cameron’s ‘Normal’. He’s a deliciously darkly comic creation, you find yourself rooting for him. He’s a brilliant character!
  9. Trust Me

  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Does my Kindle count as one? If not, could I just take my current TBR (to be read) pile with me? I have so many I want to get through it’d be really handy.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Make sure that you have a strong hooky plot that can be condensed (and sold) on one or two snappy sentences. If those sentences reel people in and make them want to hear more, you know you’ve got a strong idea.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
     Water. I drink gallons of the stuff. It powers me, like other people use coffee. I can’t function without it. Unless I spill it over my keyboard, then I can’t function at all.
  13. And finally Angela do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m so excited that the third in the ‘Social Media Murder’ Series, ‘Trust Me’, is out June 15th. It’s inspired by a real-life case, and centres on a head teacher who sees a serious assault live streamed over the internet, but when she reports it she discovers the account it streamed from has been closed, and she has no idea who the victim, or the perpetrator is. No one believes that what she saw is real, and she has to find a way to track down the girl in the live stream who needs her help. It’s an exploration into how the internet has opened a window into strangers lives, and sometimes you see things you shouldn’t have. Things that could put you in danger.

Follow Angela Clarke on Twitter Angela Clarke for updates or check out her website at Angela
Clarke

You can buy the ebook and paperback from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Veronica Henry

Veronica HenryVeronica Henry has worked as a scriptwriter for ‘The Archers’, ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Holby City’ amongst many others, before turning to fiction. She won the 2014 RNA Novel of the Year award for ‘A Night On The Orient Express’. Veronica lives with her family in a village in north Devon.

  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 this?
    I started out typing scripts on ‘The Archers’ and it was there I realised that people need an escape from everyday life, whether from books or radio or TV. I learned a lot about storytelling from reading the scripts and hearing them recorded in the studio. I went on to become a script editor for ITV, then when I had my first child I jumped over the fence and wrote scripts for ten years. I wrote for ‘Doctors’ and ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Holby City’. Then in 2000 I realised my real love was for books and by a miracle I got a book deal! I’m now on my 17th novel.
  2. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    It’s a bit of a love/hate relationship. When it’s going well it’s as if someone is dictating the story to you and it just flows through your fingers. When it goes badly you can’t imagine being able to write another word. I like naming my characters, and decorating their houses – that can hardly be called work! I also like the big emotional turning points: the confrontation or the revelation or the secret encounter And parties – I love writing a party. There are always so many things going on underneath the surface glitter.
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Oscar Wilde, Jilly Cooper, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. There would probably be wine too!
  4. What do you think makes a good book?
    Character character character. As long as you care about the characters, you will be engaged – even if you don’t actually like them.
  5. Was there ever a book that you read, that didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it and left you disappointed?
    I’m not a massive fan of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – I know that’s controversial, but I find it a bit irritating. Though I suppose that hasn’t been hyped as such!
  6. From books to films, what’s been your favourite adaptation?
    I absolutely love ‘The Railway Children’. It’s a wonderful book but the film version wrings every drop of emotion from the pages.
  7. Who is your all time favourite character from a book?
    I’m a little bit smitten by Boris from ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt – he is so naughty and dangerous and reckless and ingenious. He would never bore you. And I am fatally attracted to unsuitable men.
  8. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    I would learn to worry less and care more. If you enjoy your writing, it shines through in your work.
  9. The “Forever House

  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Kitchen Confidential’ by Anthony Bourdain and ‘Madame Bovary’ in French to give me a challenge to occupy my mind.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    All budding writers should remember that anyone can start a book, but not everyone can finish one. So keep going until you reach the end. Writing is an endurance test. It’s not enough to have a brilliant idea. It’s got to keep going for at least 300-odd pages.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    My miniature Schnauzer, Zelda – who is named after Zelda Fitzgerald.
  13. And finally Veronica do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m writing my seventeenth novel – I can’t believe it. It’s still quite early stages – but I met someone last night and our conversation sparked something that gave me the missing ingredient. That’s why I love writing – a random encounter can develop into something really exciting.

    Oh – and my sixteenth novel ‘The Forever House’ is out now!

Follow on Twitter Veronica Henry for updates

You can buy The Forever House from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.