An old book and some new/old friends…

I was in England over the weekend – a flying visit from Zürich Airport to London Luton, and it was my first-ever Easy Jet flight. I was pleasantly surprised – my knees didn’t touch the seat in front, there was an empty place beside me both ways, and we took off and landed punctually.

From Luton, I caught a train to Bedford, where I was staying. Those striking faces on the left were just a few hundred yards from my hotel – macabre, aren’t they?

I had some very bookish plans for my long weekend – Thursday’s highlight was lunch with lovely Jane Isaac. We’ve been virtual friends for years and now, at long last, we managed to meet in person. It’s always lovely to talk to other writers – Jane and I put the publishing world to rights over a baked potato, but to be honest I don’t think either of us noticed the food particularly – it was so nice to chat at last!

On Friday I hopped on a bus to Cambridge to have lunch with Betsy and Fred of Bloodhound Books. There’s something magical about the phrase ‘lunch with my publisher’, isn’t there? And it was fabulous meeting them, though of course, I forgot to take photos, so here’s one of Cambridge instead.

Saturday was my ‘day off’ – I went to London to meet an old friend from my physiotherapy days. It was amazing to see her again, but oh, my, the crowds. We were in the Camden Market area – busy, vibrant, multi-culti – probably very ‘London’ – and definitely crowded!

Back to ‘work’ again on Sunday, and a visit from Georgia Rose – it was books all the way again, and again, I forgot to take pics, so I’ve stolen this one from Facebook. (Taking photos is somewhat hit or miss in my family – we have no pics of my children for the year 2006…)

It was home again the next day for me, but I did manage to take a few photos before I left. One of my books is set in the Bedford area, so I revisited all the places Nina & Co would see every day in The Attic Room. But that will have a blog post all to itself sometime.

Book news: Death Wish is in Bloodhound Books’ autumn sale for just 99p/c – but only until October 20th, so…
Click here for details of this and other great bargains!

 

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Posted in books, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Case of the Missing Bride…

…is the intriguing title of Carmen Radke’s historical mystery novel. I read the start in the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature, and was instantly hooked. A group of young Australian women, en route for a better life in America, are hidden on board a ship – and one of them goes missing… It was a fabulous read, and I’m very pleased to have Carmen here today to tell us something about her brides, and her shipboard setting.

Over to Carmen:

 

Red Soil and High Seas

The first time I saw a kangaroo hopping on red soil over the TV screen, I fell in love. More than 20 years later I set foot on red soil myself, and all the childhood emotions flooded back. Add to that the thrill of a sea voyage in the time of explorations, and you know why the setting alone would have been enough to make me write The Case of the Missing Bride.

The deciding point though, that made it impossible to get the story out of my mind, was that those young women really existed. They grew up in Victoria, in Australia, struggling with poverty in a country that was both incredibly modern and yet strictly clinging to the values of the British empire they simply called Home.

The few well-to-do, like my heroine Alyssa’s family, emulated a lifestyle that could have come straight out of Jane Austen’s novels, with balls, country visits and parties. For the poor, and their numbers grew rapidly after the gold rush in 1851 had fizzled out, survival was a daily struggle. No wonder that my brides leaped at the chance of marrying men with money in their pockets, no matter how far away.

How lucky they must have felt when they boarded the ship, their few possessions stowed carefully in their wooden boxes.

They would spend months at sea, even with the addition of a steam-engine to the sails that would be used to save precious coal.

Room was scarce, with bunks as tight as possible to save space. But having a bunk of their own, even if they couldn’t stretch out in it, with a pillow and a blanket, was a luxury most of the brides hadn’t encountered. What was deprivation for Alyssa, constituted a soft life for them. No matter the stench of the coal, or tar, or human sweat, they were heading towards paradise. Husbands waiting for them, three fairly decent meals a day (biscuits with or without maggots, boiled salt pork, boiled salt beef, boiled mutton, peas and flour were staples), a few chores they would have done anyway, and having a doctor to look after them in illness – how could they not be happy?

Instead of waking up in a tin hovel in Tin Pan Alley, they woke to the sound of sailors running over wooden planks, the groan of sails, or the belch of the steam engine. Storms had to be endured huddled under deck, or being thrown around like a sack, but they endured it together, and with visions of a good future ahead.

The view the brides would have, approaching San Francisco.

I gave them as much comfort as I could, when it came to creating the vessel they’re sailing on. Although the big ocean-liners haven’t arrived yet, expeditions have been all the rage for decades now, and taking gentlemen explorers as passengers has developed into a lucrative business for shipping companies. Gone are the days when the most precious commodities are carried below deck in bulk.

The brides’ ship has been converted to take advantage of this situation, only to have the War between the States as the American Civil war known back then make a dent in the business.
What was hard on the ships’ owners, was equally hard on the crew, who after dealing with normal cargo all their lives, suddenly found themselves having to deal with the niceties of polite society. I’m sure the Captain found himself incredibly grateful to have at least Matron to chaperone the young women. No wonder he delegated as much of the responsibility as he could.

Thank you, Carmen!

Carmen has spent most of her life with ink on her fingers. She has worked as a newspaper reporter in Germany and New Zealand, but now has swapped the newsroom for a cramped desk in her spare room in the UK. She loves history, travel, and has convinced herself that day-dreaming is considered work. When she’s not writing novels or scripts, she can be found watching films (1930s to 1940s screwball comedies and film noir to blockbusters from the Marvel universe), and planning her next trip.

The Case of the Missing Bride (Bloodhound Books) was her debut novel.

The next one, A Matter of Love and Death, will be published by Bombshell Books under the pen name Caron Albright. It’s due out end of November 2017.

Find more about Carmen on her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon.

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Posted in Guest Posts | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tiramisu – best recipe ever…

We eat to live in this flat. Even though I’m glued to the set this time every year, watching The Great British Bake Off, I’ve never been a fan of standing for hours in the kitchen, and the characters in my books are more likely to make spag or order in pizza than cook anything complicated. So I’m always on the look-out for nice easy recipes.

And this one’s a gem. I’ve had it for years, but when I came across it last week when I was looking for something else, I realised it’s yonks since I made it last. So here you are – Tiramisu made easy.

 

Tiramisu
Serves about 6.

quark

1 packet of sponge fingers (I use the the flat kind) – lay out on the base of your gratin dish.

1.5 dl strong coffee plus 0.5 dl coffee liqueur – pour over sponge fingers.

2 eggs – separate yolks from whites. Beat egg whites until stiff.

60g sugar – add to egg yolks in a separate bowl, beat.

300g mascarpone plus 200g full cream quark – add to egg yolk mixture, mix, then add beaten egg whites.

Pour the mixture over the sponge fingers in the gratin form, chill in fridge. Before serving, dust with chocolate powder.

Enjoy…


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Posted in Life in Switzerland | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Home is… (complete in your own words…)

Home is where the heart is, traditionally. Nowadays, opinions differ. Home is where your other half (and presumably also your heart?) is? That’s a bit dangerous, imo. Home is where your favourite armchair is? Nope. My favourite armchair is a sofa, but I’m planning the next one already.

Home is where the corkscrew is? Now we’re getting somewhere…

 

Last week, I went on a flying visit to my old ‘home’ town, to visit family. It’s always an odd sensation, wandering through Glasgow city centre. So much has changed, so much of ‘my’ old city has gone. The feeling is the same but oh my, how different it is there now. So your childhood home isn’t necessarily your adult home, especially when you don’t live there any longer.

Home is where your kids are? Only while they’re dependent on you, I think. Home is where your mortgage is? Hm…
Home is where your wifi connects automatically? A bit outdated, nowadays.

Then came the fateful Thursday of my trip, and I knew exactly where home was. What happened to cause this epiphany? It was one of those events dreaded by everyone, and unfortunately something most people go through at least once in their lifetime.
A large chunk of back tooth detached itself from my jaw.

And I realised immedately: Home is where your dentist is. And tomorrow morning at 8.15, that’s where I’ll be too…

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Scotland, travel | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Pictures of a story…

Most of my books have relatively vague locations. Somewhere in Yorkshire… a few miles from Newquay… between Glasgow and Edinburgh…
Chosen Child, however, is set in lovely St Ives, and the main action in my newbie Death Wish takes place in Glasgow, in the Langside area, where I stay when I visit my old home town. Recently, I went for a tramp on the streets eight-year-old Joya and family would know so well.

You can’t tell exactly where Joya’s home is by the descriptions in the book, but there are only a handful of streets it could be.  …a big detached house, built in the warm, red sandstone typical of the area, with lovely reception rooms downstairs and three good-sized double bedrooms upstairs.

Or maybe it’s here…

Or here…

Below is where Joya looked over the bridge, on the way to Stevie’s gran’s… Along to the main road, across the bridge over the river…

Stevie’s gran’s street. …then instead of going up the hill you went around the corner, and there was the house.

Langside Station, near Joya’s home.

Some big red foxes lived in the scrubland by the railway line, and it would be dreadful if any of them captured Snowball. (Snowball is Joya’s rabbit.)

Looking down the hill.   It was a very steep hill – her mum called it ‘the killer hill’ and for the first time Joya understood why. 

The library Joya almost went into for help, the day she ran away. The library ladies were nice. But they might ask a lot of questions if she went in all alone. 

The park was a better idea. She could go for a swing.

So there you have it, a flavour of Joya’s world. If anyone wants to look on a map,  click here. Langside Station is at the bottom, and Joya lives in one of the streets nearby. The park is at the top. Have a go on Street View, start at the river and try the killer hill (Millbrae Road) for yourself!

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Posted in My books | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A visit from Georgia Rose

Two days to go until Parallel Lies, Georgia Rose’s new book, is out – and I’m really pleased to welcome her to the blog today to tell us why her book is set ‘somewhere in the British Isles’. (And don’t miss the Giveaway at the bottom of the post!)
Over to Georgia!

Location, Location, Location!

I like to be flexible with my settings so I make them up. It’s never occurred to me to do otherwise as I can then meld them to be exactly as I want them and build them up in the imagination of my reader accordingly.

Readers have enjoyed telling me where they think my settings really are in the past and I see no reason why that should change this time. The only thing I will say is that this story is set somewhere in the British Isles.

When I write I do have various pictures in my mind. They are fragments usually, something like a particular piece of road, or part of a building that suits my purposes. My settings have to be as vibrant as the characters that inhabit them so by the time the story has come together it is all so real to me I can feel the strength of the wind as I walk down the street and the weight of the door as I push it open to enter the shop.

Parallel Lies, like the Grayson Trilogy, is set in the countryside. Madeleine, my unlikely heroine, lives in a village that those who have read my other books may recognise. I’ve added a couple of other locations as well. Maddy can’t be that static in her life so there’s the nearby small town of Oakton and further away the larger Hartleigh. Part of the action takes place at a country house and again all of these places are fictitious.

I’ve always pictured her cottage as the one out of The Holiday – I couldn’t find copyright details to brave posting some pictures here but these two blogs Hooked on Houses and In Love With England have them all. The cover for Parallel Lies gives you an indication of the views from Maddy’s cottage. It’s pretty idyllic and it’s not hard to see why Maddy is so keen to hang onto the life she has. But things are never that straightforward, are they!

Here is a taster of Maddy’s arrival at the cottage…

‘The small wooden gate opens with a squeak, and I leave it to swing closed behind me. Hearing the soft metallic rattle of the catch I enjoy the crunch beneath my feet as I walk up the short gravel path to the front door I’ve recently repainted a luxuriously rich red like the crimson-licked sole of a Louboutin.’

My name is Madeleine, Madeleine Ross. It is a name chosen with thought and because it is classy, and that is what is needed here…

Madeleine Ross has life exactly as she planned it.

Cosy cottage, friendly village, satisfying job.

Company… when she wants it.

It’s an enviable existence for an independent young woman, and one she’s keen to protect.

Enter Daniel – strong, dependable and a danger to everything she’s built. He’s not something she was looking for, but hearts can’t be controlled and maybe, just maybe he might be worth letting into hers.

But, all is not what it seems. Because Madeleine is hiding a lifetime of secrets. Deep secrets.

And they never stay buried for ever.

Her darkest secret returns, like the proverbial bad penny. He is her first love, shadowy, dangerous, the baddest of bad boys. No matter how far she runs, or how well she hides, she can never escape him.

Or her past.

Here he is, on her doorstep, with a proposition she is powerless to resist but which could devastate the future she hoped to have.

Can Madeleine satisfy the old love while keeping the new?

You can’t always get what you want but, desperate to preserve the life she has worked so hard for, Madeleine is willing to risk everything to prove that she can.

*****

Pre-order Parallel Lies by Clicking Here

But wait! There’s also a Giveaway for you to enter, should you wish!

Win paperback copies of A Single Step, Before the Dawn, Thicker than Water and Parallel Lies!

Plus! Large and small heart covered notebooks, 5 heart decorated Thank You cards, Butlers Milk Chocolate Hearts, Divine Dark Chocolate Hearts, a tin of Lovehearts and a bag of Percy and Penny sweets (with special lovers strawberry hearts!)

The Kindle is NOT included!

All you have to do is click here and follow the instructions!

Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. A short story, The Joker, based on a favourite character from the series followed and is free to download from Amazon.

Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, a standalone to be released on 12 September 2017, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her overactive imagination!

Asked not to return to the Brownie pack she occasionally attended, being more likely to be distracted along the way by collecting conkers and getting into mischief, Georgia has never been keen on team activities preferring solitary pursuits instead.

Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband and dog. Their son, currently at university, comes and goes and their daughter, having delighted them all for long enough, has eventually moved out, got married, and is discovering the joys of being all grown up and having a mortgage!

*****

Thank you for inviting me on your lovely blog, Linda, it has been a pleasure to visit you and get to chat to your readers.

It was lovely having you, Georgia, and great good luck with Parallel Lies – I can’t wait to read it!
Find out more about Georgia and her books (and her Giveaway) on her website, on Twitter and Facebook, and her Amazon Author Page.

 

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Posted in Guest Posts | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Publication Day!

It’s publication day for Death Wish, so we’ll be celebrating in N.E. Switzerland tonight! A big thank you to everyone in the Bloodhound Books team for their work with my book, and to all my friends – online and off – who’ve been so supportive and helpful.

The idea for a book with a Huntington’s Disease theme came a long time ago. I originally had it in a sub-plot in The Attic Room, but somehow, it just didn’t work there, and we edited it out. Now, with a new set of characters and a sub-plot all of its own, my book is the way I wanted it to be.

The blog tour has started, and you can read the first review here – thank you, Alison Drew!

And cheers to my newest book-baby! 🍸

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Posted in My books, The Writing Life | 10 Comments