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My Top Five Leading Ladies By Jaime Raven

The RebelToday on the book tour for Jaime Raven’s new book called ‘The Rebel’, Jaime talks about his top five leading ladies.

There are five very special women in my life – but they only exist on paper.

They’re the leading ladies in the four books I’ve written for Avon/Harper Collins, the latest of which, The Rebel, is published this month.

These women mean a lot to me because I created them and then spent months getting to know them. I decided what they looked like, how they behaved, what they said, and whether they were single or in a relationship. And I’m really pleased with the way they turned out.

They have their faults, of course, but then nobody’s perfect – not even those people who are figments of our imaginations.

My leading ladies all have distinctive personalities and characteristics. Four of them are ‘goodies’ and one of them is very, very bad. Her name is Rosa Lopez and she features in ‘The Rebel’. But more on her later.

First let me introduce you to the leading ladies in order of appearance and tell you a bit about them.

LIZZIE WELLS (THE MADAM)
‘The Madam’ was my first book for Avon and the main protagonist is a prostitute named Lizzie Wells who is jailed for a crime she didn’t commit. Tragically her son died while she was in prison so on her release she seeks revenge against the people who framed her. Here’s what I like about Lizzie. She’s tough, tenacious and down-to-earth. I also think that as a character she’s original, engaging and plausible.

BETH CHAMBERS (THE ALIBI)
Beth is a crime reporter and single mother who risks her life by going up against one of London’s most ruthless gangsters. This particular character is very close to my heart because I loosely based her on myself. Before becoming a full time writer I was a journalist and spent much of my career reporting crime stories across London for national newspapers. Fortunately I didn’t get into as much trouble as Beth does.

SARAH MASON (THE MOTHER)
Sarah is a detective inspector with the Met police. She’s divorced and has a 15-month-old daughter named Molly. But Molly is abducted and the kidnapper sends Sarah sick text messages and video clips that pile on the agony. What I admire about Sarah is the way she overcomes her fear and panic to go in search of Molly by herself. A true heroine.

LAURA JEFFERSON AND ROSA LOPEZ (THE REBEL)
Laura Jefferson is another Met detective and she’s married to a teacher. She’s one of two leading ladies in ‘The Rebel’. The other is 28-year-old Rosa Lopez, a contract killer from Mexico who flies into London to murder police officers on behalf of a notorious criminal.

The two come up against each other in a momentous battle between good and evil. At the same time they each have to deal with their own personal demons.

I like to think I’ve created two memorable characters in Laura and Rosa. Laura is smart, pragmatic and honourable. Rosa, on the other hand, is brutal, wicked and sly. But she also becomes vulnerable when she suddenly finds herself on an emotional roller coaster.

There was a time when women in crime fiction novels seemed to feature only as victims or damsels-in-distress. But not anymore.

They’re now among the best fictional crime-fighters and most outrageous villains. And I firmly believe that’s exactly how it should be.

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

The Joys Of Research By Bella Osborne

Raising The BarToday on the book tour for ‘Raising The Bar’, the third book in Bella Osborne’s ‘Ottercombe Bay’ book series, Bella talks about the joy of research.

As I writer it’s important that I do my research. Sometimes this takes me to odd places and has parental warnings flashing up on my PC but sometimes it is pure bliss. My research for Ottercombe Bay gave me a mix of all three! It is set in a fictional Devon seaside town so obviously I had to spend some time in the area and it really is a beautiful part of the country. We stayed on the Devon/Dorset border not far from Lyme Regis and got to explore the coast in both directions.

We visited the beautiful village of Beer, Devon, and I loved how the river was channelled through the streets to the sea. The beach at Beer is divided: one half filled with small fishing boats and the other side littered with tourists, but everyone seems to get along just fine. Near Budleigh Salterton, Devon, the river Otter meets the sea but unlike Beer there is no village as it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty, which got me thinking. What if there was a village here? Combe means a valley on a hillside or coastline so the town of Ottercombe Bay was born.

I spent some time talking to the lovely people at the RNLI, both their central office and volunteers from various Lifeboat stations who were so generous in sharing stories and answering my questions. As I was brought up in a seaside town I have also witnessed the lifeboat going out in the most awful storms and am in awe of the crew members who regularly risk their lives to save others.

My favourite research for Ottercombe Bay was the very serious subject of gin. Gin features in the story so I felt I needed to know more about this drink – a lot more! A YouGov poll found that gin is now the most popular spirit in the UK, with 29% of drinkers voting it their favourite and 47m bottles of it were sold in 2017, setting a new record! Gin has become very popular over the last few years since 2009 when Sipsmith, a London based distiller, won a legal battle with HMRC for the right to produce gin in small quantities via smaller stills rather than on an industrial scale. This gave rise to craft distilleries that sprung up all over the country producing their own variations of gin. I was very lucky to be able to attend a special Burleigh’s gin tasting evening at the Seven Stars pub in Rugby, Warwickshire where I learned so much about the history of gin and gin production as well as getting to try out quite a few too!

To ensure I was sufficiently qualified to write about gin I also attended a gin festival in Coventry Cathedral, a very beautiful but unusual venue for such an event, and did my own research on gin cocktails. I must say my friends have been amazingly supportive of the gin research, offering to accompany me and test out my creations over and over again – well, what are friends for?

You can buy Ottercombe Bay – Part Three: Raising the Bar (Ottercombe Bay Series) from Amazon.

Sarra Manning Reveals New Book – The Rise And Fall Of Becky Sharp

The Rise And Fall Of Becky SharpSarra Manning has revealed her brand new book with Harper Collins and it’s an absolute stunner. The book is called ‘The Rise And Fall Of Becky Sharp’, with an exquisite cover and a modern take on the ‘Vanity Fair’ tale, this book is guaranteed to be a favourite of 2018.

What the back cover says –

Determined to leave her poverty-stricken roots behind her, Becky Sharp is going to take every opportunity offered to her to climb to the top. Whether it’s using her new BFF Amelia Sedley to step up into the rarified world of London’s upper classes, or seducing society’s most eligible bachelors, Becky Sharp is destined for great things – at any cost…

From London to Paris and beyond, the world is there for Becky’s taking – even though some people are determined to stop her along the way

A hilarious contemporary retelling of the classic society novel, ‘Vanity Fair’ featuring the irrepressible Becky Sharp, this book sounds fabulous.

You can pre-order The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 6th September 2018.

A Grand Old Time Book Tour – Extract

A Grand Old TimeSit back and enjoy an extract from Judy Leigh’s new book called ‘A Grand Old Time’.

Four is the luckiest number. Born on fourth of April, 1942. Fourth of five children. Four hundred thousand euros from the sale of the house. Four sausages for lunch today. Four had always been lucky for her. Her da had given her a four-leaf clover, dried between the pages of a book, when she was four years old. She’d had her son on the fourth of March. He’d been her fourth baby, the only one who stuck.

Fifteen is not a good number. Left school at fifteen. Hated school. Married Jim on fifteenth of July. Married life, from then onwards, until he died. Moved to Sheldon Lodge on the fifteenth of December. Room number fifteen. No, fifteen is definitely not a lucky number.

Evie was deep in thought when Mrs Lofthouse spoke to her. Mrs Lofthouse spoke for the second time, and the third, more loudly and with slow emphasis.

‘Evelyn. Your son is coming to see you today. Brendan? He is coming to see you.’

Evie blinked. She put on her best confused look and stared directly back.

‘I’ll just give your hair a bit of a tidy up. Brendan will be here at four.’

‘Four.’

‘Brendan – and his wife Maura. Lovely couple, Evelyn.’

Evie pulled a face. Maura was always stiff, polite, putting on a pretence of wifely perfection. Evie didn’t feel she knew her well at all, even after almost twenty years. Maura was humourless, starchy. She reminded her of the nuns at school, who insisted she must be called Evelyn and not her preferred abbreviation. She’d decided at four years old that ‘Evie’ was so much nicer, cheekier: it suited her much better than the more formal version. Evie was a chirpy name.

Maura could do with being chirpier, she thought.

You can pre-order A Grand Old Time from Amazon from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 3rd May.

Book Tour – The Inspiration Behind The Summer Theatre By The Sea

The Summer Theatre By The SeaToday on the book tour for Tracy Corbett’s new book called’ The Summer Theatre By The Sea’, Tracy reveals the inspiration behind the book.

In 2001, my local drama group put on a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and I decided to try for a part. I went along to the auditions hoping to be cast as Helena or Hermia, one of the female leads – who got to wear pretty dresses and swoon over handsome men in tight breaches. Instead, I was cast as Puck, the mischievous goblin who flies around the forest planting spells on people, and who has a highly dodgy relationship with the King of the Fairies! Suffice to say, I wasn’t happy.

Rehearsals began and things went from bad to worse. I was asked to ride a bicycle, perform cartwheels, reside in a makeshift tree-house and wear shorts – something I hadn’t done since 1979. But a strange thing happened. I began to enjoy myself. I hadn’t realised the part was so funny. I was soon whizzing around the stage like a hyperactive child on speed. Opening night arrived and my blonde hair had been cut into a pixie style and dyed ‘fire-orange’. Along with my green make-up and matching green velour shorts and tunic, I looked quite the woodland nymph. My white plimsolls, spray-painted for the show, hadn’t quite dried, so I ended up with green-stained feet. But apart from that, the show was a massive success…well, if you ignored my encounter with the army netting in Act Two.

The set designer had managed to obtain a large ravel of camouflage netting from the British Army, which somehow I managed to get my ears stuck in. These were not my natural features, but the jugs on the thirty-inch donkey head made for the character of Bottom. The director had this brilliant idea that when Bottom awoke from his dream, he’d see Puck moving spookily about the stage wearing the Ass’s head. Rehearsals hadn’t been a problem, as we didn’t have either the Ass’s head or the camouflage netting. But during opening night, I moved forward to deliver my line and realised I was stuck. The netting locked tight, like a well-designed seatbelt, and I was yanked backwards. The Ass’s head swivelled ninety-degrees blinding my view and masking my mouth. For the remainder of the scene, my moves were confined to two steps either side of where I was entangled. By the time I got off stage, I was sweltering, my make-up was smudged, my voice was croaky and my nose was rubbed sore from horse-hair friction. Despite the Director assuring me that ‘no one would have noticed’, I remained sceptical. A green goblin wearing a back-to-front Ass’s head and stuck in army camouflage netting, is something most people would notice.

But playing Puck was great fun…although it did leave me with a strangely jaundice skin-tone from the make-up, bruised shins from repeatedly descending the treehouse ladder, and satsuma-coloured hair that needed bleaching. But other that, it was amazing. So much so, it inspired the idea for ‘The Summer Theatre by the Sea’.

You can buy The Summer Theatre by the Sea from Amazon