Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Gill's Dating Profile and my hypothetical one!

Ta da! The last post (and not in the song way!) before The Dating Game launch on Friday!
So, I thought it fitting to share with you a little flavour of The Dating Game in the shape of Gill's dating profile. Now, I personally have never used a dating agency, or an online agency, but if I had I, too, would have had to write a profile.
I also wonder what I would have done with the profiles I received, would I have devoured the photo first, or surveyed every detail of the text?  Now, much as I would like to say that I would ignore the photo and focus immediately on the person's written profile, I am too honest to lie! Of course I would want to see if I found the person physically attractive first! There's a lot to be said for chemistry and I'm not talking about Bunsen burners!

Now, you know nothing about Gill, the protagonist, apart from a few Six Sentence Sunday snippets, so here's her profile. I think it will be interesting to see your thoughts, given you don't have any description about her.  Her potential dates would see from her photo (which we clearly don't have)

So without further ado meet Gill!

Candidate Profile

Name:  Gill McFadden

Age:  37

Lives:  Glasgow

Occupation:  Company Director

Qualifications:  BEng

Height: 5’7

Marital status:  Single

Smoker:  No

Interests:  Socialising with friends, going to the cinema, eating out, Zumba, travelling and ice skating.

Further information:  From Glasgow, I qualified as an engineer, but then moved into Recruitment Consultancy.  I set up my own agency three years ago.

Looking to meet:  Someone in their late thirties to late forties, who is open, honest, fun to be with and who can be relied upon.  It would be good to meet someone who is open to trying new activities.
Now, guys would you be interested in dating Gill, and girls, could you see yourself socialising with her?
I thought it would be fun,  to write a dating profile for myself
So here goes!
Name: Susan Buchanan
Age: just about to hit the big 40! Cards and presents willingly received (and if Laura's reading this, remind me about you making my birthday cake!)
Occupation: Author/Future JK Rowling - in my wildest!
Qualifications: MA in French and Hispanic Studies (but for some reason my most fluent language is Italian...)
Height - Slightly taller than a smurf, a tad shorter than Maria Sharapova! 5 feet, 4 and a half inches.  Don't forget the half! It puts me just above the West of Scotland average!
Marital status: Probably couldn't put that I live with my beloved. Darn!
Smoker - Nope!
Interests: Travelling, reading, writing, languages, eating out, eating in, cinema, running when haven't injured self, finding ways to spend less time on Twitter per day than I do, and last but by no means least, Rupert Penry Jones.
Further information - Originally from a small town between Glasgow and Stirling, I now live in the buzzing metropolis which is Hamilton, Scotland (people have already thought I am from Ontario!) I worked in International Sales for 16 years and then got out of the rat race and decided to write, which is proving even harder work, although thoroughly enjoyable.
Looking to meet- no-one, as my other half is perfect (well, I had to say that in case he reads the blog!) The no-one was correct. Him being perfect wasn't - no one is, except maybe Rupert Penry Jones!
However, if I were single, it would read something like this :-
Someone in their late thirties to late mid forties. (Er, have just realised that Gill has got the rest pretty spot on. I really can't better that.)  So, yes, open, honest, reliable, who knows how to have fun. A cute smile and beautiful eyes always help, too! 
Right, that's it from me. But I would LOVE to hear a piece of what your dating profile would say. Choose any piece at all, and leave a comment on the blog.
Next post is on Friday, when The Dating Game will be live, we will have lift off, and the fun, games, competition for Amazon voucher, and The Great Kindle Ebook Giveaway begin!
Don't miss it!!
Have a great day


Interview with Australia's Stephen Ormsby

can't sleep, must be the excitement. Only two more sleeps until The Dating Game launch. Can you imagine how hyper I am going to be by Friday? (and how tired...)
Anyway, I will be posting on The Dating Game later, but just a quickie to let you see this interview I did with Stephen. I actually had to update it a few days ago, as I wrote it almost 3 months ago. Can you imagine how many things have changed in that time?!
here ya go!  http://wp.me/p1WHjy-kN.
Hmm back to bed for an hour?  zzzzzzz

The Booker Award - My Five Favourite Books

The Booker Award

I received this award from Amy Whelan at www.youthfulyogini.blogspot.co.uk who I got to know as she is the better half of author Jeff Whelan.  She also has her own excellent blog, which I hadn't realised until very recently.
This award is passed around from author to author (or to other bloggers) so that they, too, can share their top five books.
Now choosing my top 5 is a mammoth task, so I will choose a few contemporary ones, just to narrow it down a bit.
I am also only going to list books which I would re-read and which I have recommended many times to others. Plus they need to be books I have thought about over and over since I read them. I am also not going to list any indie authors, as I would find it too difficult to choose among friends' books!
Favourite book read this year:
A Twist of Fate by Joanna Rees
Over the past probably 10 years, I had read all of Joanna's books when she wrote in the chick lit genre, with her husband Emlyn Rees (Josie Lloyd she was known as) and loved them. I discovered this book was coming out and told the author I loved her books and she kindly sent me a copy. I completely devoured it. I was meant to be writing my own novel, but for three days, I was immersed in this one. It's a family saga, spanning several generations up to the modern day. I don't generally read sagas, but this was exceptional. I think what pulled me in apart from all the twists and turns (it's well named!) was the fact that it took place in various locations around the world. Plus I like to see an underdog do well.
Favourite book in a series
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
I absolutely loved Shadow in the Wind and The Angel's Game. As soon as I realised this was out (as I  was busy writing and hadn't noticed) I ordered it from Amazon and was waiting for the post to hurry up and bring it. I haven't reviewed it yet, because I wanted to take my time writing the review. I love Fermin, who is, funnily enough, another underdog, but the most comical character in the series.  I adore the whole mystery and perhaps the fact that it is set around a bookshop helps too. I am a sucker for anything involving books or a bookshop.  The way Ruiz Zafon shows us Barcelona really spoke to me, so much so it was one of the reasons I included Barcelona in my new book, The Dating Game. Ruiz Zafon made me want to travel the streets of Barcelona with Daniel and Fermin. I hope I manage to do that too.  I did study the Spanish civil war and also Franco's regime, so the Spanish historical elements were very interesting to me too. I enjoy learning about Barcelona a few decades ago, versus the buzzing cosmopolitan city it is now. I also had the pleasure of listening to Ruiz Zafon at the Edinburgh Book Festival a few years ago, he is very chilled and reminds me of one of my very close Spanish friends!
Favourite new author book discovery this year
Mikkel Birkegaard - The Library of Shadows
I picked this up in a charity shop - once I notice that a book is about books, I have difficulty putting it back on the shelf.  Another one set in a bookshop, but which talks about the power of books - magical powers of books and mind control. A great psychological thriller with a suppose a little bit of paranormal (and I am not a fan of paranormal usually, but it works here).  Full of mystery, twists and turns and heart in mouth moments.
Fave children's book
The Neverending Story - Michael Ende.
Without question, this is my favourite children's book, probably aimed at the 8-12s. It's quite a long book, but wow, from the minute you start reading, you can't stop. I was Sebastian! I read with Sebastian as he lay on the floor and then found himself in the book, with the action happening to him. Plus a huge flying dog, that you can lie on! What's not to like. Excellent adventure book for kids. I still remember where I was the first time I read this, lying in the smallest bedroom in my parents' house (I must have been about 9 or so) and I didn't even hear my parents repeatedly calling me for dinner and I like my food!
I can't categorise number five, except to say, again I didn't think it would be my thing and I was so wrong!
Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian
A modern day search for the historical Dracula. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It's a quest, passed from father to daughter, albeit the father doesn't want his daughter involved, as it has ruined his life. I  have recommended this book over and over and my copy is now a bit dog-eared.  Again, it's a book which travels from place to place, Hungary, Romania and the UK, and spans several decades. I am beginning to see a pattern in my favourite books! If you haven't read it yet, a treat is in store for you.
Well, that's me.
Now, it only falls to me to name a few authors who I would like to tag for this challenge
Maria Savva, not simply because she's a dear friend, but because she's always giving me challenges!
Terry Tyler, also a dear friend, who didn't do my last challenge, but am sure could blog about this!
Vanessa Wester, a great twitter buddy, who just released a new anthology with several other authors -
Katie Oliver - awesome blogger - www.katieoliver.com
Seumas Gallacher - a fellow Scot who has become a master blogger and FB fiend of late! - www.seumasgallacher.com
Finally, thanks to Amy for tagging me.
Tune in tomorrow for our last pre-launch post for The Dating Game. Only 3 more days to the launch!
And whatever you do, don't miss Fri's Launch Party. More than 50 copies of Kindle books being given away in The Great Kindle Ebook Giveaway as part of The Dating Game launch.  Plus Amazon vouchers and competitions!  Tell your friends!
have a great day

Monday, 29 October 2012

Visit Barcelona with The Dating Game

Hi everyone
First of all, most humble apologies. This post was meant to happen on Sat, but I had a few technical glitches over the weekend. So, this is The Dating Game launch week. Only 4 more days until the party begins!

So, I figured it was fitting to show a little insight into why I chose to set part of The Dating Game in Barcelona.

The first time I went to Barcelona, I moved there to teach English when I was straight out of university. I even learned a little bit of Catalan. Although I have a great love affair with Italy, my favourite European city is Barcelona. So it made sense to include this in my novel, and, of course, having lived there, gave me a little bit of a unique insight.

Today we will visit some of the locations in The Dating Game and I will tell you why I chose them

Parc Güell and more particularly Casa Gaudí.  I love architecture, more than art, possibly because I can't draw for toffee (not that I can build anything either). I lived in Barcelona for a few months and tried to find Parc Güell, but it's actually not the easiest to find. I had been back twice more to Barcelona and still never visited it. So, in 2011 I finally got to go to Casa Gaudí.  Ever since I moved to Barcelona in 1995, I had always wanted to go. I love that it looks like a sugar-topped candy house! Something of the Hansel and Gretel about it.

Another Gaudí building. There are so many in Barcelona. When I first moved there, I thought one of the buildings looked like a face! Gaudí is by far my favourite architect and one of Barcelona's most famous sons. 
A trip to Barcelona wouldn't be complete without a meander down the Ramblas, the main thoroughfare from the sea all the way up through the city centre. And some of these statues are pretty good! The café culture in Barcelona is fab, as you will see in The Dating Game. Locals don't tend to go on the Ramblas, where four years ago it was 12 euros for a copa de sangría! And although Barcelona is my favourite city, it has its drawbacks, particularly associated with the Ramblas. Lots of pickpockets and bag snatching, but despite that still my favourite city. You just need to keep your wits about you!
This building is the Ajuntament, or town hall. See the crowded square? This is typical of how sardine-like the crowds are at the events during the Mercé festival in Barcelona each September. I have been twice now, once by pure chance. The red and white against the building are actually people standing on each other's shoulders, in an event called Castellers - where they form a human pyramid! Bloomin' scary. That was as close as we could get to the action - not one to go to if, like me, you're a bit claustrophobic, but I still enjoyed it!
Also, I used to live on the other side of that square, about 50m down the street towards Placa Reial, the main square in Barcelona for people to have coffee or drinks.
and this fine chap is one of the dragons from the Mercé festival.

and these are the Gegants (giants) who parade during the Mercé - Catalunya really knows how to do festivals well! Every time I go, I discover a new festival, and I can say truthfully that it was always exciting living in Barcelona.

This is the Parc de la Ciutadella, where during the Mercé they have open air concerts (as they do in many venues in Barcelona, but this is by far the prettiest). Believe me, watching Swan Lake performed in the dark (but floodlit!) in this park, was one of the most memorable festival experiences.
If you haven't been to Barcelona, you don't know what you're  missing. And if you have been, but have missed the Mercé, or any of the items I've mentioned, get yourself back there!

And do you know what's brilliant about this architecture-rich and cultural city? It also has this:-

And no visit to Barcelona would be complete without seeing or visiting its most iconic structure - The Sagrada Família - Gaudí's unfinished masterpiece. Love it or hate it, you've got to admire it!
and a little peek at the interior, too!

it looks like honeycomb!

So to find out if Gill and her friends enjoyed visiting Barcelona as much as I did, and what were their favourite haunts out of those listed here and those not, tune in on Friday for the start of launch week and your first chance to purchase The Dating Game.

Failing any major catastrophes, there should be a final The Dating Game pre-launch post on Wednesday.

Hope you enjoyed our virtual tour of Barcelona and see you Wednesday. Have a great week, Sooz

Friday, 26 October 2012

Interview with Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

It's Friday again! And that means, only 7 more days to The Dating Game launch! There is going to be so much going on between then and now, so stay tuned. Plus, each day from 2nd to 9th November, there will be a new post, competitions, where you can win Amazon vouchers, and a raffle with Kindle copies of 50 ebooks!

But let's get today underway first. Last week saw my review of Love Comes Later by Mohana Rajakumar. This week she spills the beans!

What sparked the idea for your cover design? It’s rather unusual.  Can you explain exactly what it’s meant to convey?

The cover was designed by students in my Fiction summer course. We had read a novel in three weeks and the final assignment was to think of how covers convey content to potential readers. She captured the traditional dress an abaya for Qatari women and a bisht for men. The cover captures the moment that the couple meets, often for the first time, during their engagement.

What prompted you to have the counterpart to the protagonist, Hind, as an Indian girl? Did you also look at other cultures?

My South Indian background influenced the choice of Sangita. As an Indian person living in Qatar, the similarities between our cultures strike me often.

How much research did you do into Indian culture/religion/beliefs before, or as, you wrote the novel? How did you go about your research? Do you have any personal experience of Indian culture?

(I think I answered this above…)

Hind is very much a rule-breaker.  How realistic do you find this to be in current Qatari culture?  Is this an increasing trend? Are there more freedoms now, to do what Hind did?

Young people are juggling the choices that confront Hind and Abdulla in real life in everyday life in Qatar. Both women and men still have the expectation that they will marry and produce children but increasingly people are trying to make their own choices within their personal contexts.

There is a lot of sexual tension in the book, although not in an overt way, more in a ‘he fancies her/she fancies him’ kind of way.  Do you tend to generally write your romantic involvements in this alluded to way? (in your other books for example)

This is my first romance, and the first book with overt romantic content. Part of the restraint in the love scene area is due to the fact that many of my readers are based in Qatar or the Middle East in general and the sensibility here is much more conservative. These particular characters behave this way because of their social context; but a reader wrote a very steamy fan fiction epilogue to the story!

Do you intend to write future books about Qatari and other cultures?  If so, can you share with us which cultures?

I am fascinated and inspired by Qatar both as lived by expats and Qataris. The intersection in particular is what I live everyday. I would love to keep writing a few more books in this series with these characters as there are more stories to tell. I

You have written several other novels and a non-fiction work. What can you tell us about the genres and the books themselves?

I write what interests me whether it’s memoir about having a baby, living abroad, advice for aspiring writer, or short fiction or novels. For me a central question is at the heart of any project and women always play a strong role in the stories. Immigration, race, or identity are strong secondary themes in all my work.

You are originally from the US I believe. Part of the book was set in the UK. Have you also lived in the UK? Why did you decide to set your book in the UK and not at one of the Ivy League universities?

I worked at a British company for several years and went back and forth to London often. London is also plays a large role in the lives of Qataris since Qatar was once a British Protectorate. People vacation, study, and own homes there so it felt very realistic for SOAS to be the second setting.

Sangita, the Indian girl, is much more modern in many ways than Hind. Do you find this true of Indian society v Qatari society with respect to women?

Both sets of women deal with similar expectations for female behaviour. In Sangita’s case, her modernism or independence stems from her American upbringing and extroverted personality. If she had been raised in India, she likely would behave in a more traditional way.

How realistic is the portrayal of Hind, as a young girl in a modern day Qatari family? Would she be allowed to stipulate these conditions to her husband, before marrying? (ie going to university in England). What can you tell us about the framework and boundaries of Qatari arranged marriage?

All Muslim women have the right to stipulations in their marriage contracts. Many people do ask for the opportunity to study before or after marriage. Other common items include a dowry or a stipulation of terms in case of a divorce.

Fun stuff

Would you rather have been Hind or Sangita? Hmm…. I could see being glamorous like Hind. But being a free spirit like Sangita is also appealing. I think there are parts of both characters in every woman.

Favourite TV show Downton Abbey

Favourite country in the world I can’t pick!

Country you would most like to visit Australia

Culture which most fascinates you Right now it’s the world of stand up comedy.

Actor/musician who you find attractive and who would be your Abdulla, if you weren’t already taken! Hmmmm. There aren’t many English speaking male Arab actors coming to mind…

Classical or pop music? Either, depending on the mood.

Favourite food Mexican. A good burrito can make my day.

Author whose books you have to have the minute they are released Alice Munroe

Most notable achievement to date (can’t be getting married or having a child, although we recognise these are massive achievments!) When my first novel Saving Peace was a semi-finalist for the Kindle Reads list.
Well, thanks, Mohana for joining me today.
You can keep track of Mohana via the following links:-

Tune in tomorrow for a special The Dating Game exclusive preview!
have a great Friday


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Happy Ever After's Dos and Don'ts of Dating

The clock is ticking. Only 9 days to the launch of The Dating Game and what a huge launch that is going to be. I've roped in 50 authors to donate Kindle copies of their books, as part of my huge launch party! So, stay tuned for that! Plus there will be Amazon vouchers to be won and lots more.

In the meantime, today I wanted to bring you the Dos and Don'ts of Dating, as stipulated to Gill, the main character, by Happy Ever After Dating Agency.

Gill's had a pretty crappy dating history (who hasn't at some point?) After failing to find a suitable mate the traditional way, having endured yet another blind date at the hands of her friends, she's had enough and joins Happy Ever After - the dating agency for professional people.

Today I'd like to invite you to leave a comment on the blog, with your blind date/internet date or dating agency best or worst experience. But keep it clean and relatively concise!

I'll start you off. I have had 2 blind dates in my life. I'm not sure who was the most blind, me or them!
Bizarrely, both were farmers! And no, I don't  have a thing for men of the earth! I hasten to add that in both cases, this was about 13 years ago.
The first one was handsome, Scottish, but for some reason had it in his head that I would look like Rachel from S Club 7...

 I also think he was looking for a wife.  NOOO! The farmer wants a wife...it made me think of this playground song -

The farmer's in his den
The farmer's in his den
Eee eye addy-oh
The farmer's in his den

The farmer wants a wife
The farmer wants a wife
Eee eye addy-oh
The farmer wants a wife

The wife wants a child...

The child wants a dog...

The dog wants a bone...   You get the picture!!

So that one didn't work out and neither did the second one. On visiting friends in Dublin, I agreed to go on a blind date with this bloke, another farmer! Well, he was Irish, and I am a complete sucker for the accent!
Has anyone ever gone on an excruciating date? One where you know right from the start it's not going anywhere and it's painful to actually BE there?! This was it. The guy was kinda geeky, but trying too hard not to be, and just came off as a bit insane!

 When he went to the toilet, four guys at the next table said to me, 'Ditch him, come out with us. He's obviously not your type.'
But, I am too nice to do that, so I thanked them and endured the date for the minimum amount of time which politeness allowed. But, oh what a pity, as those four guys were pretty hot! Damn!

Anyway, fortunately 11 years ago I met my Other Half and we're stuck with each other now!

To find out how Gill fares in The Dating Game, you only have to wait until next Fri, 2nd Nov.

For now, I'd love if you could leave your comments and give us all a good laugh. Please note you can't have known your date before going on the date!

And finally here are Happy Ever After's Dos and Don'ts of Dating


Meet in a neutral place.  Under no circumstances invite your date to pick you up from your home

Wear smart, but casual clothing

Be positive and friendly

Listen to your date and allow them the opportunity to talk

Exchange email addresses or phone numbers if you want to see them again

Be honest – if you want to see them again, say so.  If not, thank them for a nice time and say it was nice to meet them.


Accept a lift from your date until you know them well enough

Complain all the time

Talk about past relationships, apart from fleetingly

Insist – if they want to call you, or get in touch, they will

Give out your home or work address

Have a great day and tune in on Friday for Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar's interview

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sneak preview of locations in The Dating Game

Well, it's Sunday again, and today, in honour of the sunshine we are currently experiencing (never fear, by the time I finish this post, no doubt it will be snowing) I thought I would share with you some of the locations in my upcoming novel, The Dating Game.

So, today, I thought I would start with some of the Scottish locations. For those Scots who are reading this, hopefully you can smile a bit at some of the places, and for those of you not of this great land (patriotic plug there!), consider yourselves initiated!

There are a few main streets in the centre of the city, particularly for shopping, and the department stores Gill shops in are to be found on this street, home also to Central Station and the St Enoch Shopping Centre.

Nowadays the other main shopping street, home to Princes Square and the shopping centre in the picture, as well as the music venue where Gill goes on one of her dates, is the well-named Buchanan St.  Plus she meets her friend, Debbie, for lunch in Princes Square.

The square below is instantly recognisable to those from the city and shows the splendour of Glasgow in the 1900s, in the form of the City Chambers, back when Glasgow was the second city of the Empire. (If it didn't rain here so much, I'm sure the building would not be so grey!)  Nowadays, on the rare occasion when it doesn't rain, Glaswegians and tourists alike are to be found, sitting on benches in the square, shielding themselves from the volume of pigeons which descend. It's also home, at Christmas, to the ferris wheel and the ice rink. I have been to several New Year concerts in this square, too, although these days prefer to party at home! I stay nice and dry that way!

That was just one example of Glasgow's splendid architecture and some of the other fine buildings are mentioned in The Dating Game, given the occupation of one of Gill's dates.
Among them:-
which isn't actually in Glasgow, but in Helensburgh, but this architect has so many fine examples in the city itself, including:-
a tearoom which does very good scones. The architect is very well-known for the designs on these chairs and also for having designed Glasgow School of Art.

When faced with difficult decisions,  Gill goes for a walk here. And if you can't identify it from the church, how about in the second pic?
Well, that's it for today. I am being told I need to go for lunch now, so who I am to spoil my Other Half's fun!
Have a great Sunday and tune in on Wednesday for more The Dating Game goodies. Plus news on The Dating Game launch (2nd Nov), which is going to be MEGA, plus lots of giveaways and competitions.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Book Review - Love Comes Later by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

It's Friday and that means book review time!  I was lucky enough to be contacted by Mohana a few months ago, about potentially reviewing her book. I read the blurb (below) and it appealed to me, as I like to learn about new cultures and I love stories set abroad.

So, now it's your turn to read the blurb!

Love Comes Later Hind is granted a temporary reprieve from her impending marriage to Abdulla, her cousin. Little does anyone suspect that the presence of Sangita, her Indian roommate, may shake a carefully constructed future. Torn between loyalties to Hind and a growing attraction to Abdulla, Sangita must choose between friendship and a burgeoning love.

A modern quest for the right to pursue love and happiness, even when it comes in an unconventional package, LOVE COMES LATER explores similarities between the South Asian and Arab cultures while exposing how cultural expectations affect both men and women. Identities are tested and boundaries questioned against the shifting backdrops of Doha, Qatar and London, England.

My Review
An interesting glimpse into life in Qatar and a wonderful love story

I was given a review copy of the novel by the author and asked to provide an independent review.
Reading this on Kindle, for the first 20% of the book, I kind of liked it, but it wasn't holding my attention. But, wow, as soon as I got to 20%, I sprinted through this book and could not put it down. I've never been to Qatar, the nearest I managed was Bahrain, but I love reading and learning about other cultures. There were plenty of twists to keep me enthralled and I couldn't have foreseen the ending.
On the surface, this is a book about arranged marriages, but it goes so much deeper than that. With a great deal of it set in the UK, where the girls are students, it was a lot easier for me to visualise the scenes and attitudes of others.
I could clearly see the girls' apartment, feel the chemistry between certain individuals, understand the frustration of each of the main characters.
Duty, what is honourable, permitted and frowned upon were key elements throughout the novel and in particular women's place in Qatari society.
I loved how the girls rebelled and the presence of an Indian girl, with a similar, but not identical, background, only added to the intrigue. I also felt I learned a lot about both cultures.
The tragedy at the beginning of the book, the loyalty of the younger sister and some of the outrageous events later (culturally) only added to my enjoyment.
All in all, a novel worth reading, particularly if you like to learn about new cultures or if you have ever been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes with regards to arranged marriages.
You can buy Love Comes Later via the following links -
Mohana also has various other books, which you might want to take a peek at:-
Tune in on Sunday, when I will be back with, well, a bit of a surprise really. No Six Sentence Sunday. I have something else in its place, but you'll just have to wait and see.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Interview with a Vampire, I mean Reader!

Yes, she's not a vampire at all, I just figured you would be more familiar with that turn of phrase. A few months ago, I interviewed male reader, Andy Kelly, and he interviewed me, regarding my novel Sign of the Times. This time it's the turn of the girls!

So please welcome fellow Scot, Laura Cowan, who works for the NHS but is really a baker extraordinaire  - I seriously hope she is making my 40th birthday cake - hers look bloomin' amazing!
Here's one she made earlier

She'll need to add a few more years on it for me, I think!

Anyway, without further ado, let's check out these questions!

      What books do you normally read and are they similar in genre to Sign of the Times?

 I normally read fictional books, I like romantic comedy books, I got hooked into the whole FSOG genre and I'm happy to admit I totally love that kind of book now.  I like a book to grip me and make me want to read more.  When a book does grip me – like Sign of the Times did – I get very greedy and can not put the book down until I've finished it. 

      Who were your favourite male & female characters and why?
I think my favourite male was Dario!  Possibly because he didn’t have his own few chapters of the story.. it made him more interesting as you never knew more about him… thus making me want more detail about him. 

 My favourite female was a draw between Holly and Maria.    I loved the whole Holly and Dario storyline.  Holly struck me as a "you wont get away with messing with me" kind of girl.  Maria… I loved that she treated Czeslawa with 100% equality, especially with negative attitudes in modern society.  Maria as well with the hardships she's faced and she still comes out as one of the strongest female characters in the book.

        If you could ask your favourite overall character, three questions, what would they be? (careful of spoilers!)

For Maria

You're an amazing Mum, and business owner, how do you do it all and still keep sane?
             Maria replied:- Thanks so much, very kind of you to say so. Who said I was sane? I  
            am rushed  off my feet constantly, but as you know I love my kids and the business gives me

            For Holly

Any plans for more books?  Can I come in your suitcase the next time you do go?
Holly replied: Yes, there will definitely be more books. My contract has been renewed by my publisher, surprisingly, following that 'hiccup' at the launch. I think you can probably guess where my next book will be set, but only if you read right up to the last page of Sign of the Times!

         If you could spend a day with one of the characters, who would it be and why?

Definitely Lucy… she has the most fun!! Haha! J 


         How important is a cover to you, when buying a book? What kind of covers do you tend to go for?

     Ones that catch my eye…but its not that important… If I've heard about a book and been told it's a good read then I'll read it regardless of the front cover.

   As you now know , there will be a sequel to Sign of the Times.  Which characters would you like to see given more prominence in the sequel and why?

Holly, Dario (mmm yummy) and Jen and Ben… I would love to know what happens next with these guys


         Which sign are you and do you think you are similar in personality traits to the Sign of the Times character?

I'm a Scorpio… I'm definitely energetic… deep and passionate… and I know when something is up with my close friends… so you could say I'm also intuitive too.  I'm absolutely stubborn!! Lol Sensitive – yep that’s me… I bruise easily (in the metaphorical sense) wouldn’t say I'm career motivated – but you could say I am because I'm very passionate about the cakes I make.  I've got leadership skills – but that comes of being the oldest sibling of three! Haha!

    So yeah you could say that I share a lot of personality traits with Czeslawa….


         Like me, you’re Scottish. Did you enjoy the sections of the book set in Scotland more and if so, which in particular. If not, which was your favourite setting and why?

 I absolutely loved the book for this specific reason.  I read the book just after I had completed the West Highland Way so loved reading about the sections set in and around the areas surrounding the WHW.  This is because I could picture the scene better and helped with my imagination when reading the books as some of it was actual tangible places.

                 Is there anything that you feel strongly about that you would have liked to have turned out
           differently?  (careful of spoilers here!)

Not strongly no… I thought the book was very well wrapped up…  (With Laura's permission I have removed a potential spoiler here. Suffice to say it has a direct impact on the sequel/continuation)

   I know you are an excellent baker. If you were to bake a cake representing Sign of the Times or a scene from Sign of the Times, what would you put on it? 

Awe thank you, that’s very kind of you.  I would probably bake a cake in a rectangle with a light blue covering, with a copy of your image of the silhouettes of people from the front cover around the side of the cake. – On the top of the cake would be the name of the book and cut outs of the horoscope signs (if I can get a cutter in those shapes!!)


 Laura's questions to me:-

 What made you choose Italy as the place that Holly visited… you described it so well… have
you been there yourself?
Yes, I have been to Italy many times. I love it and in fact would love to buy a house there one day. I also used to work daily with Italians for 15 years and have friends there. I love Tuscany in particular and when I started writing Sign of the Times, I had been to Bibbiena the year before. Little did I know then...

            If you could choose one of the Characters that you could be which one would it be and why?

           Wow! One character. I think I would prefer to be an amalgamation of a couple of characters.  But If I had to be one, it would have to be Holly - Sagittarius, travel writer, loves books - kind of a no-brainer for me. Yet, I wouldn't mind Maria's life, but without the trauma.


         Did you enjoy setting your Characters in the local area?  What made you choose the West coast as the main scene?
         Yes, apart from of course the start, which is set in Italy, I loved the fact that the characters are Scottish. There aren't  so many Scottish writers amongst the mainstream women's contemporary fiction/chicklit writers, and I felt this was a gap. Plus, of course, I know so much about Scotland, living here. And, I used to work years ago, for the Tourist Information in Glasgow, and to a certain extent Scotland, so I have a lot of background knowledge. The other great thing was I could use local places, which I loved and dialect in my dialogue. I am also from the west of Scotland. I may change location in future books, but I quite like my main characters being Scottish. They might not always be from Glasgow, but that's what I know best!


         Which Character was the most frustrating to Write?
          I don't actually think any of them were frustrating to write. The whole novel was sometimes frustrating because of its complexity (12 main characters, with their entourage of supporting characters), plus weaving in all the timelines and ensuring all the ends were tied up. They are, albeit some of them subtly. I have to confess to loving writing all of the characters, and I can't wait to get back to them in 2013 when I start writing the continuation (rather than sequel)


        Can't wait to hear about SOTT 2 – any snippets of ideas you might want to impart to us? 
          Well, nothing is set in stone yet, but my intention is to bring back only some of the characters and perhaps introduce a few new ones (although I expect they would be minor). Some of the more minor characters in Sign of the Times, might take on a more prominent role, too. Holly, Jen, Maria and Ben will definitely return. More than that I won't commit to right now. But we will see some momentous events with Holly's love life.  There is also a good possibility that in 2015 we will see SOTT3, with some of the characters who don't make it into SOTT2 included. Depends what mood I am in!
          I fully expect there to be a travel element again, but haven't yet decided whether it will be Holly travelling again, or someone else. Quite frankly, I need to launch The Dating Game on 2nd November and then start writing my third novel, before I think much more about the continuation to Sign of the Times (my fourth novel)
          Well, thanks very much, Laura for answering my questions and asking questions I hadn't been asked before.
         As always you can buy Sign of the Times at the following Amazon links - http://amzn.to/GKqZGd (UK) & http://amzn.to/IYN0Fc (US & other .com sites)
          Tune in on Friday for my review of contemporary women's fiction novel (definitely not chick lit this one) Love Comes Later by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

 PS Thanks for bearing with me with my formatting gremlins today. Hopefully will be sorted by Friday!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - 14/10/12

Yep, it's Six Sentence Sunday time again. Only a few more to go featuring Sign of the Times and then it will be The Dating Game again, as it will have launched!! (Fri 2 Nov - date for your diary!)
I've used a bit of poetic licence with today's entry, so as not to give a key name away. Enjoy!

“Hi, it’s me, sorry, it’s a bit late. You’re probably in bed.  I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Carl was right. Lucy was in bed, but she wasn’t alone. When Carl called, Lucy was otherwise occupied.
Short but sweet this Sunday. But I hope you enjoyed it and it has piqued your interest. To find out who Lucy's companion was and to read more of Sign of the Times, you can go to the following links to download the first 10%
http://amzn.to/GKqZGd (UK) & http://amzn.to/IYN0Fc (US & other .com sites)
As always you can check out the other Six Sentence Sunday entrants after 9am PST (so 2pm UK time) by going to www.sixsunday.com
Have a great Sunday and look out for more posts mid-week
bye for now