Friday, 31 August 2012

Friday! How did that happen and never mind that, it's Friday 31st August. We're now 2/3 through the year. Sorry, back soon, summer has just arrived.

Right, I'm back, it only lasted 5 minutes.
Anyway, today I'm joined by N E David, author of Spanish comedy Feria. This is a pivotal moment for the blog (unless I am mistaken and I often am!) NE is the first male author on the blog and I have to say, I quite liked his answers!
So, without further ado, check out what he had to say:-

Have you ever been to Spain and indeed the region you have written about?

 Yes, in fact the book is based on a holiday my wife and I spent in Andalusia in 2006. 

        Does Spain fascinate you? I’m trying to understand why you would write about village life in Spain.

Spain has always interested me as a country. I love the language and I wanted to learn Spanish at school but I was in the wrong ‘stream’. I’m also a great fan of Hemingway who spent a lot of time there and wrote about it extensively. As a writer myself, I tend to see plots and stories lurking round every corner so it was only natural to come up with something after my trip. 

If you’ve been to Spain, did you model any of the stereotypical characters on any police officers,  government officials that you saw/met?

As I recall there was only the one – Carmen, the flamenco dancer. We were sat in bar and I noticed a blond-haired woman whose good-looking features were marred by a broken nose. I wondered how she’d acquired it, invented the answer for myself and so the character and some of the story was born.    

Have you been to a ‘feria’ such as you depicted in the novella? If so, which elements did you enjoy best?

Absolutely! And I’m sure that was the inspiration for the book. Purely by accident, the week we chose to be there was the week of their annual feria and we simply got caught up in it. I think what I liked about it most was how it brought everyone in the town together – from the youngest to the oldest, the whole community celebrated as one. It’s something you would rarely see here.

       There is a lot of humour, (slapstick, bawdy) in the novel. Were you actively aiming for buffoonery?

Yes, totally. It’s a more than a comedy, it’s a farce – you can’t confuse it with anything else. There’s nothing subtle about the humour and you don’t have to think too hard when you read it – which I hope is what makes it enjoyable for the reader.

My only complaint is that it’s a novella and not a novel. I wanted more! Didn’t you think you could introduce more characters and make it into a full-length novel?

No, that has never occurred to me. I sketched out the plot on the plane on the way home, wrote it in six weeks, said what I wanted to say and that was that. It also fitted nicely into the series of works of that length I was writing at the time.

I liked the love story and the moral of the story in the ending. Did you always know this was how it  was going to be, or did that part of the ending creep up on you?

When I write a piece I actually tend to have the ending in mind more than the beginning. Although beginnings are important (you have to engage the reader from the start) what you eventually leave your reader with is the ending.  Personally, I find weak endings infuriating so I try not to inflict them on my readership by carefully planning them in advance.

Was Feria your first work? If not, tell us a bit about your other works.

I began, as so many of us do, with short stories but I found the form constrained me and I needed something longer in order to express myself fully.  Feria is an example of that. I couldn’t tell that story in anything shorter but it doesn’t warrant any more.  I have two other stories of the same length in print, both totally different. One deals with the relationship between a father and his estranged daughter while the other is a gritty crime drama.

Do you intend to continue to write in this non-mainstream humorous genre? Or could you see yourself switching genres?

No, Feria was a one-off in that sense – it was only ever intended as a bit of fun. And although it’s probably a great disadvantage, up until now I haven’t tended to think of myself as writing in a ‘genre’. I write what I want and let other people decide where it ‘fits’. My only objective has been to entertain the reader. Having said that, the work you will see from me in the future is likely to be progressively more serious and tend toward the ‘literary’ rather than anything else.

What are you working on now and should we expect any further Spanish-themed works?

I have nothing more Spanish planned at the moment. My intention over the next six months is to convert my two other novellas into ebooks and hopefully broaden my readership. I have recently completed my first full-length novel, Birds of The Nile, and I’m hoping to have this in print for 2013. As the title suggests, it’s set in Egypt and deals with the relationship between three totally different people against the background of the recent revolution. It’s a serious piece of work and will hopefully set the trend for what is to come.    

Fun stuff

       Any Spanish heroes/heroines? They can also be Latin American!     

       Believe it or not, I had a Zorro outfit as a kid.

       Favourite author 

      I’ve mentioned Hemingway so let’s stick with him.

      Actors you would choose to play the Police Chief and the Mayor if Feria were made into a film

   The Mayor is unquestionably Alfred Molina. As for the Police Chief, I’m afraid I don’t know any overweight, unshaven Spanish actors!

  Favourite Spanish dish
Has to be Paella – but with chicken and chorizo sausage.

       Favourite Spanish wine
I’m not an expert. Rioja is the obvious choice.

       Favourite place in Spain, if you’ve been
The Alhambra Palace in Granada is amazing – it has the most romantic atmosphere imaginable. In the shadow of a tree in one of the gardens in the moonlight ... I defy anyone not to fall in love with it. If you want to find out more about it, visit my blog page called Hola!

       Anything you enjoy on TV and do you prefer British or American TV?
My favourite regular TV programme is ‘Law and Order’. I also enjoy ‘Doc Martin’ for something more light-hearted. I always look forward to a good drama and I’ve just started watching ‘Parade’s End’ which promises to be enthralling.
 Which genres do you read?
Literary fiction, I guess, writers such as Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes.

      What are your hobbies and do you have any unusual ones?
In my blog about my Summerhouse I’ve confessed to having a love affair with wood and I enjoy making things out of it. I’m also a keen bird-watcher which is something that gets me out into the countryside.

Do you have any new year’s resolutions you make and break? If not, what non-writing challenge  would you like to set yourself and achieve?
No! I studiously avoid new year’s resolutions. ‘God laughs at those who make plans’. Having said that, I’d love to go to Morocco and climb the Atlas Mountains in search of its birdlife. Maybe next year ...
Well, thanks NE, not sure if I am allowed to reveal your name, in case you are used as fodder for a quiz show in the future! What does the JRR stand for in JRR Tolkien, for example, so will keep schtum!
You can keep up with NE David at
or follow him on Twitter at
and of course, you can buy Feria using the links below.
See y'all Sunday for the final Six Sentence Sunday from The Dating Game. Don't miss it!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - 26/8/12

Breaking News - Yesterday I finished The Dating Game! Yippee!! Once I have finished editing, you can read the lot, but for now, you'll have to settle for these 6 sentences and any other titbits I may bestow upon you before then!
Yep, it's Six Sentence Sunday time.

Brakes screeching, gears crunching, Gill swerved and almost didn’t hit it – but she clipped its rear.  Shaking and furious at herself for not noticing the lights had changed to red, she climbed out of her car. The driver of the Astra she had pranged, unfolded his legs and got out. At least he's OK, Gill thought.
‘Are you…,’ Gill began, then stopped. 'You!’
Please remember that the other entries for Six Sentence Sunday can be found here after 2pm GMT (9am PST)
As always, if you can't wait until early October for The Dating Game, why not get your teeth into my first novel, Sign of the Times - (US & other .com)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Specs and Ginger Blog - Review of Sign of the Times

Well, I wasn't expecting Specs to finish Sign of the Times so quickly, but he fair lapped it up (sorry, couldn't resist, what with their logo being a cat!)
Can I just point out that Specs is a bloke - a bloke who couldn't read Sign of the Times fast enough and is champing at the bit now for the sequel. Sign of the Times is not just for the girls....I did tell you!

And, in breaking news, The Dating Game should be finished later today!! Off to complete that last chapter. Sooz

Friday, 24 August 2012

Review - Feria - A Spanish Comedy by N E David

Thank Crunchie it's Friday (no product placement intended - although now I come to think of it, I could fair go a Crunchie. But breakfast first! And before that, this week's review.
A fun novella which you will devour quickly. If anyone can help me get my font size back to normal, even better! Enjoy!

I was asked by the author if I would provide an independent review and provided with a review copy of Feria. I've given this 4 stars and my one phrase to describe it would be 'Fun Portrayal of Spanish Village Life'

I was instantly drawn to this novel by the Flamenco dancer on the cover. I am a fluent Spanish speaker and have lived a couple of times in Spain, so it's fair to say that I love all things Spanish.

Product Details

Feria is a charming novella, humorous and accurate in many ways, if a little stereotypical (but it's intentional) of Spanish village life. From the lazy, drunk Police Chief, to the unfaithful Mayor, the local boy with no property who admires the pretty girl, but has no chance, since he has no worldly goods. I particularly enjoyed the aspects around which the story is set, namely the Feria or feast day. The 'hiccup' which occurs to proceedings and the many hilarious ancecdotes then related, involving goats, tuba players and vats of paella, will make you smile. I have been to events like this in Italy, but they are similar to those in Spain. If you want to laugh whilst finding out about Spanish village life and the pride that goes into their Feast days, then 'Feria' is for you.

You can buy Feria at the links below: (UK) & (US &

And I'll see you all back here Sunday for the latest instalment of The Dating Game - I am writing the 2nd last chapter, so I hope to finish it over the weekend. Am so excited! Have a great weekend, everyone. Sooz

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Guest spot - Not So Anonymous Authors

Yes, Novel d'Tales has me back for the third and final time, to talk a little about my new novel and a teeny bit about me, too.  Check it out!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Rosie Review Blog features Sign of the Times

Happy Monday!!
Hope you all had a good weekend and enjoyed yesterday's Six Sentence Sunday.
The week's off to a flying start with this lovely review for Sign of the Times, from Rosie on her review blog - have a peek!

I will be back on Wed, tune in to see why!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - extract from The Dating Game 19/8

Yep, it's rolled around again, Six Sentence Sunday on this sunny (yes, don't faint from shock!) August morning. Don't worry, I'm sure it will be raining by lunchtime.

Since the release for The Dating Game is happening in the next few months, I decided to continue with a snippet from that this week. I might nip back to Sign of the Times for SSS once I've finished writing The Dating Game and I am 90-95% done now! But, for today, let's see how Gill is faring on her latest date. Enjoy!

She was getting the hang of it – finally.
Deciding she’d be a little bit more daring, Gill thought she'd try the fancy footwork the father in the next lane favoured. Maybe it wasn’t that difficult after all. Concentrating hard, Gill swung and bloody hell, what's happening?  Gill’s right foot crossed the line, milliseconds before she let go of the bowling ball, she slipped on the waxed surface and both legs shot up in the air.

Remember,  you can check out all Six Sentence Sunday entrants at, after 2pm UK time (9am EST).
And, as ever, if you can't wait for The Dating Game to come out, why not pick up Sign of the Times, my first novel, to whet your appetite in the meantime
If you like drama, humour, Scotland & Italy, it's for you! - (UK) (US & other .com)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Interview with Joanne Phillips

Morning all - Happy Friday - naturally, it's pouring with rain today, just in time for the weekend, but at least I managed to put on sun tan lotion yesterday and write for a bit in the garden - 45 mins, after 6 failed attempts which lasted on average 25 seconds - at sitting in sun, you realise, not writing!

After reviewing Jo's book on the blog last week, I am delighted to have her join us today to answer my searching questions. Enjoy!

         You’ve had phenomenal success with Can’t Live Without in the past month. How much do you think is attributable to your blog and mapping out since January your progress writing it?

I think the steady sales I’ve had since publishing the book in May have been down to my blog journey, and the promotional work I do constantly. But the success Can’t Live Without has enjoyed this past month has been entirely down to the free Kindle promotion – it’s all about visibility at the end of the day. No one is going to buy my book if they don’t know it’s there, or can’t see it when they’re browsing. The Kindle promo put the title in the top 100 paid charts where lovely readers could see it – and buy it! The effect has worn off now, of course, but thankfully the steady sales continue.

          I hate to ask such a trite question, but as it’s really a concept I had never seen in a novel (and when I think about it now, I wonder why not) why did you decide to write about a house fire?

It’s not a trite question at all. It wasn’t so much a decision as the idea just found me – I was walking around Willen Lake in Milton Keynes one day and I heard a fire engine in the distance. I started to imagine arriving home and finding it was my house on fire (I do tend to terrify myself with my thoughts!), and the idea of Can’t Live Without was born. Stella just jumped into my head pretty much fully formed, with all her problems and messed up family.

        I loved the sub-plots, particularly the teenage daughter’s drama. Did you always know what happened to her was going to happen? If not, at what stage did you decide this?

I’m glad you liked Lipsy’s story. No, I didn’t know what was going to happen to her – I think I just got so involved with the characters that they almost decided themselves what was going to happen next! Well, that sounds a bit mad – what I mean is, it seemed like the worst possible thing that could happen to Lipsy – and Stella – at that point in time, and I do like challenging my characters by making them face the worst!

                 I loved Paul. Did you base him and indeed any of your other characters on any living person,            whether celebrity, friend or acquaintance, either personality-wise or physically?

Paul is ace, isn’t he? I can’t say any of my characters are based on any real people – I’m sure that people I’ve met creep into them all the time, but it’s not conscious. Some of Lipsy’s characteristics are based on me as a teenager, I’m afraid! When I started writing Paul I guess he was my idea of the ideal man (I hadn’t met my husband yet back then, but he does have all of those lovely qualities). I wanted to write about a man who was sexy and safe, to prove (to myself?) that reliability and loyalty were most definitely not boring!

                   What made you introduce an office bitch? Did you have fun writing her?

I did have so much fun! I always knew that Loretta would have a key role in keeping Stella and Paul apart later in the book (no spoilers here!), and I also felt that Stella needed someone to spark off so the reader could see her character more clearly.

        I have read many reviews which have said, they laughed out loud. Although there are parts in the book which are very funny indeed, for me, the overall impression was one of drama, love and family dynamics. What do you, the writer, consider as the key themes of the book and which was most important to you?

For me, the key themes are materialism, communication, and refusing to face the truth. I’m fascinated by how we lie to ourselves and the lengths to which people go to avoid the truth of any given situation, and there are many places in Can’t Live Without where this is explored, not least of all in Paul’s feelings for Stella – and vice versa! A critic of the book said recently that she thought the misunderstandings between them seemed contrived, but it’s my experience that people are terrible at telling each other their true feelings if they are afraid of opening up and risking being hurt, and that all sorts of problems arise from this.

        Who did you enjoy writing the most and why? If Stella, please also tell me about another character, too!!

I did enjoy writing Stella, but I think the two characters I enjoyed writing the most were Stella’s mum, Maggie, and John Dean. Maggie because I felt such huge empathy for her as a character, and John Dean because he is such a slime-ball! He was always John Dean in my mind, and is the only character constantly referred to by both first-and-surname in the book, and I think this is because he is set apart, perhaps, as the only character who doesn’t undergo much of a transformation!

        What’s the link between the cover you chose and the book?

Oh, covers! They are so hard, aren’t they? I spent a lot of time in Waterstones, just looking at covers and noting what attracted me as a reader. I wanted a woman on the cover, but not a face, and I wanted a very simple colour palette to catch the eye. When I came across this image it just seemed right, and the paving actually reminded me of pavements in Milton Keynes where the book is set. I also wanted it to be recognisable in the genre of chick lit, but to be moving away from the overtly pink and cartoony style of cover. Can’t Live Without was book of the week on Stafford FM a few weeks ago, and the presenter referred to it as ‘the book with the legs on the cover’. He liked them a lot!

        You’ve said in the past week that you have ditched your current WIP, a third of the way through, because your heart isn’t in. So, what now? Will you try another genre? Have a break? What’s next for you?

I’m going to start work on the sequel to Can’t Live Without as soon as I come back from my holiday. The characters are alive and kicking in my mind, and they need closure! As far as genre goes, yes, I would like to try writing a different genre in the future, but I don’t think I can cope with the structural demands of genres like crime and mystery. But that’s not to say I won’t ever write a romance with mystery elements, or a novel that has a crime in it! One author I really admire is Linda Gillard, and she really has no genre – or rather, she can write across genres. This does make it harder to market your books, though, so I do think it’s helpful as a writer to keep, if not genre, at least the type of readers you are hoping to satisfy in your mind as you write.

      You also said that you wanted your writing to touch people. When I think of that I think of authors like Jodi Picoult, where the dilemmas make you really wonder what you would do, if you were in their shoes.  Is this what you meant? Can you give us your analogy?

I’m not a big fan of Jodi Picoult’s books, although I think she’s an amazing author. I find the ‘what would you do’ premise too much like hard work, as a reader anyway. I prefer to find issues in fiction really tucked away, almost invisible, so the story can be enjoyed on any level you like. CLW is in many ways just a good, fun read, but there is deeper stuff which can be explored and thought about if it resonates with the reader.

I think that’s what I mean when I say I want to touch people. I want to write about people who seem real, facing everyday problems, and bring them to life in a way that might make the reader think about their own everyday problems in a different way. As an analogy I’d cite Anne Tyler’s A Patchwork Planet – my favourite book of all time. It’s just about a man who lives alone, works as a handyman and has a tricky relationship with his family. And it’s a funny, engaging read. But really, for me at least, it’s about coming to terms with becoming an adult, learning to separate your real self from what your family thinks about you, and trying to recognise love when you stumble upon it. But these issues aren’t forced upon you, they’re just there to discover. If you want to.

Fun stuff

        Everyone knows I adore Rupert Penry Jones, but who’s your favourite actor from an acting point of view and also from a ‘he’s just drop dead gorgeous’ point of view?

 Anthony Hopkins for acting. No one for drop-dead gorgeous, I’m afraid! My husband is the only one who does it for me J If it has to be a famous person, I’ll choose Morrissey.

        What are you reading?

Linda Gillard: The Glass Guardian

        What genres do you read?

I will read anything, but I prefer loosely women’s fiction (whatever that is!). I don’t read horror, sci-fi or gritty crime. I’m ridiculously sensitive.

        Have you done anything really daring (sky-diving, bungee-jumping etc) – No, getting published doesn’t count, although I realise that’s terrifying!

No. Very safe and boring J

        Do you watch scary movies? If so, do you have a favourite?

No way! It’s not that I mind being scared so much as those films always seem to have horror elements that I just can’t cope with. I got scared watching Toy Story 3. Enough said.

        If you won the lottery, what would you do?

It’s funny, because my husband and I talk about this a lot (!), and I always say that I would just keep doing what I do now – writing, indexing, enjoying my time with my family. We live in a lovely rural location near my daughter’s school, so no need to move house. What would change for me would be that hubby could give up work, and I’d never have to worry about money again! Bliss. But apart from that, nothing. My life’s pretty perfect as it is. I might pay for a personal trainer, and a personal shopper because I hate shopping.

        Favourite music


        Favourite author

Anne Tyler

        Which talent don’t you have that you would like to have? (invisibility and things like that are not permitted!)

I’d like to be able to cook! I’m like Wendy Craig in Butterflies – everything I touch goes wrong.

      Your greatest achievement to date ( can’t be writing/getting married or having a child – although I realise those will probably be in your top 3)  It can be district Majorette champion or whatever!

That is such a hard question. There’s loads of stuff I’m proud of, but to pick one ... Last year I did an eight mile walk for Thyroid UK, which was a huge achievement for me as since being diagnosed with a thyroid condition three years earlier there were times when I could barely walk up the stairs! I raised £300 and it gave me a real boost, both in health and confidence. 

Thanks Jo, for being on the blog today.
You can pick up Can't Live Without at the following links:
You can also find Jo on her blog -
For now, have a great weekend and remember to check in on Sunday for the latest instalment of...well, I'll keep you guessing! Sooz

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Intervooz with Sooz - N E David gets the lowdown

Morning! Sun is out (although I realise it won't stay - about to leave us until at least Saturday and basically, the forecasts are just not shown any further ahead...)

So, to cheer us up, I thought I would share with you my slightly antagonistic interview (and I am sure he won't mind me saying so) with fellow author N E David.  We didn't see eye to eye on everything let's say - which makes for more interesting reading!
Enjoy! -

Monday, 13 August 2012

Visit to Book Talk with Georgia's Barbara Barth

Muggy Monday - yuck! Did anyone else waken up with all that rain last night? Gee whizz, I mean really! But what an Olympic closing ceremony - rollerskating nuns and everything!

 Anyway, I digress. I was asked by Barbara Barth at Book Talk to write an article about how I became an author - so, not an interview - no questions - a welcome change! If you want to learn something new about me - then here's where to find it -

Back soon, I am deep into writing The Dating Game and am nearly 80% done with the first draft! Exciting few weeks ahead. Happy Monday everyone! Sooz

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

How can it be Sunday already again? Where has the week gone? And now that bloomin' sun is back out to distract me and make me want to go read in the garden and skive off! But, before I go, here's this week's extract for Six Sentence Sunday. Decided to stick with The Dating Game. I only wrote this section last weekend. Basically, Gill's latest date has a surprise in store for her.

Once the taxi had deposited them outside the hotel, Gary led the way, nodding once at the member of staff they met on the way up the steps. Gill was busy relishing how luxurious the hotel’s interior was, when Gary turned a corner and they entered the Glenlivet room.
Immediately Gill’s expression turned from one of anticipation to one of consternation. It was a

wedding reception. Oh my God! She didn’t know anyone, she hadn’t been invited. 

Right, well, you're probably going to have to wait until October to read The Dating Game, especially if I keep skiving off to read!
To see the other Six Sentence Sunday entrants, visit  but remember the link doesn't go live until 2pm UK time, 9am EST.

In the meantime, if you can't wait until October, why not sink your teeth into my first novel, Sign of the Times - which has received lots of lovely new reviews this week! (UK) & (US & .com)

Friday, 10 August 2012

Review for Can't Live Without - Joanne Phillips

Happy Friday! The sun is shining and I am reliably informed that it's not meant to rain until Monday! Yippee! Perhaps my back garden will become less bog-like after the flooding we had last Saturday night! Well, there's one thing about global warming, it keeps you guessing!

And without further ado, let's check out my review of Can't Live Without, by fellow indie author, Joanne Phillips.

Can't Live Without

I was given an Advance Review Copy by the author, in order to provide an independent review.

Contrary to the cover, which I really like, but comes across as being very chick-lit, Can't Live Without is so much more than chick-lit. Rather it's the exploration of relationships and assessing what's important in life. After Stella's house burns down, she changes from being very materialistic to actually focusing on what she can't live without. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Stella and her daughter and I thought that the trials they went through were very appropriate and would be related to by many parents. I also thought the daughter trying to get the granny onside, driving a wedge between Stella and her mother was very well done. The parallels between the generations, with their similarities and differences was entertaining. The three love rivals vying for Stella's attentions was also interesting and sometimes hysterical to observe. As for the office bitch, I would have dealt with her a lot sooner, I have to say!! I applauded how Stella finally dealt with her.

The sub-plot about Stella's father was genius, although I still don't understand his actions... It took me a while to guess where he was and I had no idea of her mother's involvement, until it was laid bare for me. The sleazy lodger sub-plot was a welcome addition & showed the vulnerability of Stella's mother in the absence of her father. In my mind, this book starts off being similar in type to Dorothy Koomson and then later becomes a bit more chick-lit. It also has plenty of laughs, particularly with the OCD sports car driving neighbour, Stella turning up to work in her slightly smelly gym gear and with the many misunderstandings by her and her love interests. If I didn't already have a fab boyfriend, I would have quite liked Paul to be available! Oh and I loved the finale - including the little quirky detail right at the end - which appealed to my romantic, fun side.
Will be looking out for Joanne's next book later this year.

You can pick up Can't Live Without at Amazon - (UK) & (Us & other .com)
and she also has a paperback book available for order from Amazon and other outlets - check out her website at for more details

That's it for today folks - check in again on Sunday for the latest instalment of Six Sentence Sunday.
have a great weekend, Sooz

Monday, 6 August 2012

Meet Holly - character interview with NoveldTales blog

Hilary from NoveldTales wanted to ask Holly, our beloved travel writer in SIGN OF THE TIMES and love interest of more than one man, some questions. Fortunately she agreed. So, here today you have Holly's debut interview!
Enjoy! Sooz

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - extract from The Dating Game

Yep. It's that time again. I am frantically writing chapter thirty of The Dating Game, which will hopefully be out end Sep/Oct, but here's something for you that happened a little earlier in the proceedings. Enjoy! Sooz

Sean had crashed into two stools,  knocking them over, then fell over another and landed in a heap on the floor.

Brilliant, thought Gill. That’s all I need. As she made her way back to assist him, a passing waiter helped Sean to his feet and asked if he was all right.

‘I’m perfectly fine – why wouldn’t I be?’

Could this date get any worse? Gill wondered.

To see all of the Six Sentence Sunday entrants, go to after 2pm UK time (9am EST) or on Twitter look for  #sixsunday

Friday, 3 August 2012

Interview with Tracie Banister

Hello everyone - it's Friday and it's sunny. What's going on? Don't worry - already here in Glasgow yesterday we had warnings on the motorway overhead signage reading Heavy Rain Saturday - I do love how they like to build us up!

So, to counteract the prospect of a wet weekend, let's have a great Friday, starting with my fun interview with Tracie Banister, author of the chick lit novels, Blame It on the Fame and the recently launched In Need of Therapy.

Tracie's from Georgia, USA.Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years.  When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time.  Her debut novel, the Hollywood-themed Blame It on the Fame, was released in January, 2012.  And she has followed that up with the fun summer read, In Need of Therapy. 

Let's see what she had to say for herself:-

You have written two novels.  Are there any parallels you can draw between the two?
Both novels have humor and romance; they just vary in tone.  The humor in my first book, Blame It on the Fame, is more biting as that story is set in Hollywood where there's a lot of competitiveness going on.  And in In Need of Therapy, the humor arises more from the situations the heroine, a psychologist, finds herself in both personally and professionally.  I'd like to think that books one and two are equally fast-paced and fun.

Both novels have been largely classed in the Chick Lit genre. Is this what you like to read? If not, what do you like to read?
I'm a fairly eclectic reader.  I like just about anything that has a hint of romance in it, whether it be Chick Lit, Light Mystery, Young Adult, Paranormal, Historical Romance, even Steampunk!  I just wish I had more time to read because my TBR pile is huge at the moment!

Would you like to write in other genres in the future, If so which ones and why?
I dabble in other genres.  The first novel I attempted to write over 20 years ago was Historical Romance.  And the first Chick Lit novel I wrote (the one that got me an agent) had a strong Mystery element to it.  I started a YA novel a year or so ago that I envision as a series.  The novel I'm currently working on is a Regency in the vein of Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer.  So, yeah, I like to genre-hop.  It keeps the creative juices flowing.

In In Need of Therapy, what drove you to have a Latina girl as your heroine?
I like to mix things up and give all of my heroines unique and interesting qualities.  When I decided to set In Need of Therapy in Miami, it just seemed natural for my lead character to be a Latina as there's such a large Cuban population in South Florida.  I had a lot of fun writing for a heroine who had a different type of background and family dynamic than any character I'd created before.

I’ve noticed on your FB posts that you have been able to show photos of stars whom you indicate your characters are similar to, in In Need of Therapy, although not actually them of course!  When you imagine your characters, do you eventually need to be able to see them as a person who already exists whether famous or just an ordinary joe?  Or are you quite happy just to know their physical characteristics and imagine the rest in your head?
There are usually one or two characters in my books (not always the leads) who are "inspired" by a particular actor or actress.  But for the most part, my characters exist in my head looking as I describe them, not like Sandra Bullock or Johnny Depp.  The casting on my blog is just a fun thing I do when I release a book because readers always ask me who I'd want to play certain characters from my books should they ever make it to the big (or small) screen.

Did you visualise your Blame it on the Fame characters in the same way, ie In Need of Therapy, you have posted that Pilar is similar to Eva Mendes.
You would think that since all of the Blame It on the Fame heroines were actresses, I would have envisioned the five of them as real-life movie stars while I was writing, but I didn't.  The only character in that book whose physicality was based on an actual person was Scottish bad boy Miles McCrea (I actually looked at photos of Gerard Butler while writing scenes that Miles was in and I heard Gerard's voice in my head saying Miles' dialogue.)  
In Need of Therapy is a laugh a minute, with so many funny characters. Which is your favourite funny character and why?
I'd say that the character in In Need of Therapy who made me laugh the most when writing for him was Pilar's persistent ex, Victor.  With all of his impassioned declarations of love and over-the-top romantic gestures, he was like the hero in a really bad telenovela (for the record, I adore really bad telenovelas.)
Which is your favourite overall character (if different) and why?
I'm going to have to go with my girl, Pilar, on this one.  In Need of Therapy was written from her point-of-view, so she's the character I spent the most time with and the one whose happiness I was most invested in.  Plus, I just liked Pilar.  She's the kind of woman I'd want to be friends with in real life (good-hearted, funny, principled, but still flawed enough to be relatable.)
Did you prefer writing Blame it on the Fame or In Need of Therapy?
Writing both books was challenging and rewarding, each in its own way.  I'd probably say that I "preferred" writing In Need of Therapy just because it was a shorter, less complicated book, so I was able to complete it in a shorter amount of time.
Which of the two books was most important to you?
Probably Blame It on the Fame, as it was the first book I published.
What is your favourite scene from In Need of Therapy?
It's a toss-up between Pilar's mother's birthday party (I had a blast writing that sequence  because it was the only time in the book when all of Pilar's volatile family members were gathered in one place) and I, also, got a kick out of Pilar's blind date with Tony (I can't reveal why I enjoy that scene so much because I don't want to spoil anyone, but suffice it to say, that Pilar's thought process during that disastrous date makes me laugh every time I read it.)
If you had to liken your novels to those of another author or authors, whose would it be?
I'd say that if you're a fan of the works of Candace Bushnell, Lauren Weisberger, or Jackie Collins, Blame It on the Fame would be right up your alley.  In Need of Therapy bears a closer resemblance to the fun, fizzy books of Sophie Kinsella. 

Do you do a lot of people watching, to get material for characters and if so, do you go to bars, cafes, where?
I've always been an observer.  So, I do watch people when I'm out in public and often make mental notes about things (clothing, mannerisms, voice, how the person relates to whomever they're with.)  And I do the same when I'm in my own sphere with friends, family, neighbors, etc.  Little bits of these observations will sometimes make it into my stories, but I really rely on my imagination more than anything when I'm creating characters.
Therapy is obviously a key theme throughout In Need of Therapy, how did you research this to make it as believable as it came across?
I'm in the unique position of having looked at the therapist/patient relationship from both angles.  Back in my school days, I toyed with the idea of becoming a psychologist and took some really interesting courses on the subject.  I, also, read Psychology Today religiously for years.  As an adult, I've listened to my friends' stories about their experiences with therapy and I've even been to a few sessions myself.  When I decided to write a novel about a psychologist, I did plenty of research into the various disorders that are mentioned in the book (Hypochondria, Sudden Wealth Syndrome, etc.)

Fun stuff
OK, I know you are a big Rupert Penry Jones fan – which is your favourite RPJ work?
Definitely Whitechapel.  I think he is brilliant playing DI Joseph Chandler, a cop who's trying to head up a unit that handles violent crimes all while dealing with an often-crippling case of OCD.
I read that your fave actor is Michael Fassbender – really, more than RPJ?
No slight intended to dear Rupert, but I can't help but be wowed by Fassy's charisma and talent every time I see him on screen.  The man is just riveting in every role, and he's such a risk-taker with the projects he chooses.  I see an Oscar in his future.
Fave classic movie
Easy.  Gone With the Wind.  I've been madly in love with that movie since the first time I saw it on TV when I was 11 years old.
Fave actress
Meryl Streep.  Such an amazingly talented and versatile actress.  And I love that she's such a down-to-earth, funny lady in real life.  She's never let the praise and adulation go to her head.
Favourite song
I love the oldies.  So, for me, favorite song would be a tie between "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" by The Platters.
Fave rom com
Ooooo, that's a toughie because I adore so many rom coms.  I'm tempted to say "Bridget Jones's Diary"," but I hate to be predictable.  So, I'm going to dare to be different and pick the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell classic, Overboard.  I've seen that movie so many times I've lost count and I can quote lines from it all day long.  "Are you going to bring me my lemon or do I have to squeeze it from my hat?"
Destination you’d like to be stranded on with Rupert Penry Jones?
I do not like the idea of being stranded on a desert island with anyone as I'd have a third-degree sunburn by the second day.  So, I'm going to steal an idea from my book, Blame It on the Fame, and say that I'd like to be stranded with Rupert in a mountain cabin during a snowstorm.  Of course, this mountain cabin would have a fully-stocked fridge and a fireplace with an endless supply of matches and dry wood so that we could stay nice and toasty warm.
Fave place in the US?

Oh, gosh, that's tough as I have a lot of favorite cities in the US (Charleston, Manhattan, Las Vegas, Washington DC.)  But if I had to pick one, I'd go with Boston.  I visited Boston in the autumn and loved everything about it - all of the history, the amazing seafood, standing on the bridge and watching the scullers rowing up and down the Charles River, I even loved the mass transportation in Boston!
Have you ever been out of the US? If so, where and what did you like most about it?
The only place I've ever been to that was outside the US was Toronto, Canada.  Unfortunately, the weather was terrible when I visited (cold and rainy), so I didn't really get to enjoy the city as I would have liked to.
Any obsessions (excluding RPJ!)
My obsessions are the internet (I start twitching if I'm away from it for more than a few hours), competitive reality shows like Dancing With the Stars, Project Runway, and Top Chef, salt and vinegar potato chips, and checking the sales numbers on my books repeatedly throughout the day.

Favourite takeaway food

I got hooked on eating bison cheeseburgers a few years back when I was trying to find ways to get more iron in my diet (I suffer from chronic anemia.)  I can't abide ground beef, but I read that bison had more iron than beef and less fat than chicken.  So, I gave the bison cheeseburger at Ted's Montana Grill up the street from my house a try and was wowed by how good it tasted.  Now I pick up a bison cheeseburger from Ted's every Friday night.  It's my end of the week treat!
Are you a sporty person and/or do you like to watch sport?  What do you play/watch?
Although I work out every day, I do not consider myself to be a sporty person at all.  I don't play any sports and I very rarely watch them on TV.  I did go through a period of being really into tennis because my roommate at the time was a tennis player, and she got me into watching the big tennis matches (Wimbledon, French Open, et al.)  She explained all the ins and outs of the game to me, so that made it more fun to watch.
Will you be watching the Olympics?
Probably not.  I’m more of a Winter Olympics fan.  I really love figure skating, especially pairs and ice dancing.

Describe your ideal man
Tall and in good shape, dark hair, blue eyes, great sense of humor, even-tempered, doesn't drink heavily or smoke, loves dogs, intelligent, kind, and financially stable.  Bonus points if he has an accent (English, Scottish, Irish, Australian, French - they're all good), is left-handed (I've always been attracted to southpaws for some reason, perhaps because they tend to be creative?), or wears glasses (Lasik surgery really ruined this predilection for me.)    
Three things we couldn’t possibly know about you
I used to write fan fiction for genre shows like Roswell and Smallville.
I am a terrible cook, but a great baker!
Although they say that Tuesday's child is full of grace, I am the world's biggest klutz.  I have broken both of my arms and had to get stitches three times because I've slipped or fallen.

Any talents apart from writing
My only talents are related to words and language.  I was a champion speller in school, I do four crossword puzzles every day, completing each in less than 5 minutes (Yes, I time myself!), and I'm a wicked mimic.  I don't even realize that I'm doing it most of the time, but whenever I'm around someone with an accent or unusual cadence to their voice, I will start talking like them within minutes.  My high school French teacher thought I had a French relative at home because she said my accent and pronunciation sounded as if I came from the country myself.
Thanks Tracie for taking time out of your current busy schedule, post-launch, to answer my questions. As you Americans say, 'It's Been a Blast!' Sooz
You can buy In Need of Therapy at:
You can also keep track of Tracie via the following methods:- she's one to be watched!