From Dark to Light with Jennie Ensor

I’m really pleased to welcome Jennie Ensor back to the blog today. Last time, she told us about her second novel, psychological drama The Girl in his Eyes, and today she’s talking about writing in two genres – her latest book, Not Having It All, is the epitome of something completely different… over to Jennie:

Writing ‘a brazen comedy about the perils of midlife’– the subtitle of my latest book, Not Having It All – was, as you might imagine, hugely different from writing either a psychological mystery (my first novel, Blind Side) or a dark psychological family drama (my second, The Girl In His Eyes).

Not Having It All and The Girl In His Eyes have some elements in common, though. In The Girl In His Eyes, a secret child abuser grooms a 12-year-old girl, the daughter of his wife’s close friend. Some characters in Not Having It All also fight the urge to act on socially unacceptable impulses like committing acts of violence. My latest novel also deals with darker aspects of the psyche, such as obsessive jealousy, coveting another woman’s child and fraud against one’s employer. The two also share (I hope!) strong elements of suspense and family drama, but are totally different in tone.

Whereas the writing and rewriting of The Girl In His Eyes was often difficult, with Not Having It All I had great fun with the structure and plot, and didn’t worry about the story diverging from my outline. The novel is unusual in that it’s composed of emails, letters and journal entries, and told from multiple first-person viewpoints. (Maria Semple’s Where D’You Go Bernadette? has a similar structure.)

What I loved most of all though, was letting my characters speak and act as they wanted, however unreasonably.

Kurt Hudson, the intolerant chief executive of Computer Corp ruminates over whether his wife Bea might be up to no good with her best friend, Maddie. Bea, a phobia researcher, has to cope with her chauvinistic boss ‘the Prof’ and the bad behaviour of her juice/stone-throwing 4-year-old daughter, Fran. Katie, the Hudsons’ childminder who tries her best to cope with Fran and the disobedient family dog Big Ears, secretly drinks Bea’s supply of Triple Sec and writes in her journal that ‘Mr H needs his arse grabbed more often’. Maddie, an unconventional ‘found object artist’ who adores Fran and is desperate to have a child, confides about her opinions about Bea’s childrearing to rather wooden, old-fashioned therapist Mr Rowley. (‘I’d give anything to have her child – a child like hers, I mean’.) Colin, a divorced, about-to-be-axed senior insurance manager at ‘the Nation’s No. 1 Pussy Insurer’ schemes to entice Maddie into his arms while he secretly reimburses 13 unjustly treated customers from company funds.

I also had fun with characters’ names, nicknames and monikers – from Mellow Marty and Sweaty Mike to insurance claimants Mrs Hurtpuss and Mrs Violet Scratched-by-cat-Got-infection-Eyesight-nearly-gone Black. (I smiled to see the list of character names in the novel compiled by my editor, who hinted that I should cut some.)

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Then there are the farcical, veering towards off-the-wall situations in the novel. While writing about Bea’s experiments at her university, I invented a robotic spider (Grommet) that runs up people’s legs, and a part of the brain (the BOLF). The creative part of my own brain clearly went into overdrive!

It’s certainly been much more enjoyable to talk about this book than it was my last one. It really was a pleasure to write a comedy after working on such a dark, disturbing novel as TGIHE. By then I definitely needed a good laugh! Black comedy is one of my favourite types of humour – I love having a good chuckle at something totally inappropriate.

As far as post-writing things go, switching genres can be tricky. It is probably easier in some ways to have just one set of readers than two sets, even if there is some overlap. It took a while to come up with a new tagline for my website banner: ‘From dark psychological fiction to daring comedy’, and it’s still not right. On the other hand, it’s definitely more satisfying I think to write what one feels like writing with the hope that one will somehow find new readers.

I’ve started to plan and research my next novel. Although the setting is dark and gritty, I’ll do my best to find a way to incorporate some humour into it!

Thank you, Jennie! And having laughed my way through Not Having It All, I can thoroughly recommend it! Find out more about Jennie Ensor and her books below:

Jennie’s website and blog   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Amazon

A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor began her writing career as a journalist, winning two student awards and covering topics from forced marriages to mining accidents. She’s tackled controversial issues in her novels, too – terrorism, gangsters and war crimes in her debut Blind Side (Unbound, 2016); child abuse and sexual exploitation in her second novel THE GIRL IN HIS EYES, a psychological family drama (Bloodhound Books, 2018).

Her third novel, NOT HAVING IT ALL: a brazen comedy about the perils of midlife, is published by Bombshell Books on 28th May 2019. It’s a laugh-out-loud family-life comedy about a woman torn between the demands of her family and her science career.

Jennie Ensor’s poetry has appeared in many publications, e.g. Ink Sweat and Tears. In her spare time, she sings in a choir and dreams of setting off on a long trip with her Kindle.

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Springtime in N.E. Switzerland… 🇨🇭

It hasn’t been one of those balmy springs. We had a mild(ish) March, followed by a distinctly chilly April-May, so much so that almost everyone I know retrieved their winter jackets from wherever they’d put them away to in March, and started wearing them again. Nightly frost warnings have only just stopped pinging into my phone. Our lake is low for the time of year, but as the snow melt hasn’t really begun yet and there are seven metres of snow on our local mountain, the Säntis, that might change soon.

And in spite of the weather, trees and bushes have been blooming away, and I’ve taken lots of lovely pics – so here we go. I’m not sure what this tree is, but it’s very pretty.

The magnolia was magnificent, too.
And here are some Swiss houses with their trees.
And just as an interesting extra while we’re talking about houses, here’s our local ‘Kontakt-Bar’, a lovely, historical building near the harbour.
Moving along the lakeside to the park, we find some gorgeous trees and a bandstand.
Last but not least, our lake, with the Alpstein range behind it, highest peak Säntis.

Hopefully we won’t have flooding this year, in spite of those seven metres of snow, and even more in the higher alps. Watch out for the summer pics later this year!

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The ‘B’ books… #A-Z books 📚

This is an adaptation of something I saw on Twitter recently – people were posting 26 books in 26 days, each title beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. (Don’t worry, I’m planning on taking around 26 months to get to Z…) Each month I’ll post a newish book I’ve enjoyed, preferably a friend’s book, plus a children’s book and an older book.

My ‘B’ books are:

 

 

Bad Seed by Heleyne Hammersley
This is the third in the series but can easily be read as a standalone police procedural, and like all Heleyne Hammersley’s books, it’s a cracking story with great characters.

 

 

 

 

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell was one of my biggest favourites as a child. It was Anna Sewell’s only book, written mostly when she was bedbound with TB, and sold for a single payment of £40. Anna Sewell died just months after it was published, so she never saw it become one of the top ten best-selling novels for children.

 

 

 

 

Blindsight by Robin Cook
I’m a huge fan of medical thrillers, and Robin Cook has written some of the best. A handful of them, including this one, feature pathologist Laurie Montgomery.

 

 

 

 

Next up, you’ve guessed it, the ‘C’ books…
And – The Attic Room is on a 99p UK/US weekend deal at the moment. May 5th is the last day, so grab it HERE while it’s hot!

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Chocolate… 🍫

Easter isn’t about confectionary, but for most of us, chocolate is involved somewhere along the way…

Chocolate eggs…

Chocolate bunny…

Chocolate cake…

Chocolate buttons…

Chocolate ice cream…

Chocolate biscuits…

Chocolate sandwich…

Hot chocolate…

Or simply… chocolate…

I wish you all a happy and peaceful Easter – with or without the choc!
(All images from Pixabay.com)

P.S. I’m really pleased how well Stolen Sister is doing. It’s been in the UK top 100 on kindle for nearly four weeks now; we’ve hit the magic 5o reviews – and this weekend, it’s on a 99p/c deal. Just sayin’…

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The ‘A’ books… #A-Z books 📚

This is an adaptation of something I saw on Twitter recently – people were posting 26 books in 26 days, each title beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. (Don’t worry, I’m planning on taking around 26 months to get to Z…) Each month I’ll post a newish book I’ve enjoyed, preferably a friend’s book, plus a children’s book and an older book.

 

My ‘A’ books are:

 

A Fractured Winter by Alison Baillie.

The book in a few words: standalone crime fiction, set in Switzerland and Scotland (you can tell why I’m drawn to this one!), lovely word pictures of the scenery and life in a small Swiss village. All that, and a really suspenseful story…

 

 

 

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this one, and all the others in the series. A little orphan girl finds a home and love in Canada – and if I ever make it across the Atlantic, I’ll definitely visit Prince Edward Island.

 

 

 

Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh’s books are around the same era as Agatha Christie’s. Most of them feature Inspector Alleyn, who is promoted to superintendent by the end of the series, and some are set in New Zealand. This one’s the first of the ‘Alleyn and Troy’ books. (Troy is an artist who eventually marries Alleyn, but it takes them quite a few murder investigations to get there.)

 

 

I’m looking forward to choosing my ‘B’ books next month!

 

 

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Stolen Sister thanks…

It’s day seven in the life of my new book, and Mother’s Day in the UK – but not here in Switzerland, so I’m not expecting my sons to come running with flowers and chocs. (We have Mother’s Day in May.)

As usual when a new book comes out, it’s been a fun, crazy week, and I’ve spent a lot of it on social media helping Stolen Sister along. A hundred thousand thanks to every single person who’s supported me and my book this week:

A special thank you to the bloggers who so kindly hosted Stolen Sister on their blogs (click the names to see the posts):

Image by Shalini’s Books and Reviews

 

Audio Killed the Bookmark
Nicki’s Book Blog
The Bookwormery
Ginger Book Geek
Lost in the Land of Books
Mixing Reality with Fiction
Short Book and Scribes
The P Turner’s Book Blog
By the Letter Book Reviews
and last but not least:
Shalini’s Books and Reviews, who also made the teddy bear image ❤

 

 

 

 

Biggest thanks of all go to Bombshell Books for publishing Stolen Sister – and for the lovely publication day mug they sent!

 

 

 

One of the many highlights this week was seeing my book get into the top 30 in the UK Kindle Store.

Next week, we’ll be back to business as usual here in N.E. Switzerland and on the blog. Until the next book…

 

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Stolen Sister, out today!

It’s publication day for Stolen Sister – I’ll be raising a glass to my eighth full-length novel tonight! 🍾🍸

It tells the story of Erin, who was lost – or was she? – and Vicky, who didn’t know she had a sister. Then there’s Maisie, who at 70 wasn’t expecting to have to care for two young siblings, one with special needs. And Sylvie, who went to a party that changed her life, and not in a good way, although she thought it was.

These are my four main characters, ably assisted by Ben, Christine (sort of), Jamie, Ron, and Larissa. Stolen Sister is all about family and the search for identity, and you can download the eBook at the special publication week price of just 99p/c. (Click the image above to go to your local Amazon Store.)

As always, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped me with this book, especially the folks at Bloodhound/Bombshell Books. I’m sad to say goodbye to my characters, but that’s how it goes, it’s like your kids growing up and leaving home. And right now I’m very busy with Nicola, Kelly, Ed, Rob and Mia, who have a whole different set of problems, wishes and needs. It’s the writing life, and I wouldn’t change it!

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Pictures of a book… Stolen Sister

I’ve been holed up in my writing cave for many weeks now, getting the first draft of what will hopefully be book nine down – and yesterday, I typed THE END. (That’s my excuse for the lack of regular blog posts this year…)

Meanwhile, book eight, Stolen Sister, is only a few weeks away from publication, so March is going to be busy in a different way. We’ll have a cover reveal soon, and shortly afterwards Stolen Sister will be up on pre-order. (Edited to add: the book is now published; click HERE to see it in your local Amazon store.)
And here are a few photos of the book’s settings:

The story starts in a hotel near Kendal, to the south of the Lake District in England. I’ve travelled through this area many times, and as you can see, it’s lovely. Less lovely is what happens to baby Erin and her mum and dad in the hotel…

Location switches several times in the book as years pass and the characters move around. Several chapters near the start take place in Edinburgh, where Vicky lives with Great-Aunt Maisie and brother Jamie.

Edinburgh Castle gets a mention at the end of Part One as Maisie trundles past in a bus one wintry night.

The action shifts to Glasgow, where Vicky and Jamie spend the second half of their childhood.

Vicky, now grown up, lives in a lovely flat on the banks of the River Clyde, just across the footbridge (which I crossed literally dozens of times last year, but that’s another story) from the city centre. Vicky’s flat is in the beige-coloured building to the left of the bridge below. (Thanks go to Evelyn Tingle for the photo.)

Vicky crosses the bridge every day too, to get to her job in the city centre.

Meanwhile, where is Erin? Or maybe, who is Erin would be a better question. Years before, she spent some time in Carlisle in the north of England, but then she went off radar.

The story ends back in Glasgow, and the river has a very special meaning to both Vicky and Erin…

Stolen Sister will be published by Bloodhound Books on March 25th.

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Recently read and enjoyed (2)

Winter is a good time to cuddle up on the sofa, a glass of wine at your side and a good book in your hands/kindle/phone/iPad. Here are a few of my recent reads – in no particular order:

 

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth.

I’ve read two of Jennifer Worth’s books now. They’re a touch grittier than the TV series, and probably more realistic. I still imagine them all buzzing around on their bikes, though!

 

 

 

 

Perfect Bones by AJ Waines

I have a large collection of Alison Waines’ books on my kindle, and I’m looking forward to adding to it this summer. Perfect Bones is the latest Dr. Samantha Willerby book, and she’s working under time pressure this time. Excellent writing and a great plot.

 

 

 

 

Chergui’s Child by Jane Riddell

I met Jane Riddell a few weeks ago in a Swiss café, and we exchanged writing life stories and books. I hope she enjoyed Chosen Child as much as I enjoyed Chergui’s Child. If you like a great story with a mystery at its heart and a large chunk of travel involved, try this one!

 

 

 

Another Love by Amanda Prowse

This was my first Amanda Prowse book, but it won’t be the last. A fabulous family drama centring around a serious issue – the ‘other love’ is in a bottle. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler

As always, Terry Tyler’s characters come across as living, breathing people, and there’s a whole clutch of them in this book. They don’t know each other, but they all suspect a loved one of being a killer. And one of them is right… Very cleverly done!

 

 

 

Book news: my novellas are trundling along nicely – I’ve spotted them as 1-4 in their category a couple of times now, though never in the right order!

 

And for bargain hunters, the fabulous Bloodhound Books have Baby Dear on a 99p/c kindle deal for a couple of days. Click HERE to see it on Amazon.

 

 

Next time, I’ll be sharing some news about my coming book Stolen Sister, so tune in for a few pics of sunny Glasgow!

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Jennifer Ash and The East-Midlands of England

A warm welcome today to Jennifer Ash, aka Jenny Kane, who’s here today to tell us about the settings of her book Edward’s Outlaw, which as we see by the cover is historical fiction. It’s set in the East Midlands, an area I don’t know at all, so I was interested to read about it. The photos are wonderful, too – look at those trees on the Sherwood Forest one! And now, over to Jennifer:

When it came to choosing a location for Edward’s Outlaw, the third book in The Folville Chronicles, I was tied slightly by the confines of history but I wanted to keep everyone safely in the East Midlands of England.


Leicestershire moor

The Folville family, around which the series is set, were a real group of seven brothers who used crime as a way of life during the 1320’s and 1330’s.

Their home, Ashby-Folville manor in Leicestershire, formed the backdrop of The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw (Book One and Two), but in Edward’s Outlaw I took my lead protagonist, Mathilda, to a new location. A warrant for the brother’s arrest was issued, and so Mathilda, wife to Robert de Folville (the only character I’ve completely invented in the series) had to go into hiding. I chose Rockingham castle as her place of refuge after I came across documentary information which proved that the Folville family often associated with Robert de Vere. He was the Constable of Rockingham castle, who often allowed felons to hide out in the castle – in return for payment of course.

Rockingham Castle
Rockingham castle started life as a motte and bailey castle, built under the orders of William the Conqueror. His son, William II had the castle rebuilt in stone, making it a dominant spectacle in the Welland Valley in the English Midlands. He had a stone keep and a huge curtain wall added to the building. With Rockingham forest nearby, the castle became a favourite Royal residence, from which the king and his guests could go hunting for deer and wild boar. Sometimes the hunting party would travel as far as Sherwood Forest for extra venison hunting.

Sherwood
The Midland counties of England are often overlooked when it comes to highlighting the beauty spots of Britain. Yet, for me, it’s one of the most stunning and interesting parts of the country.

From Bakewell in the Peak District, to Rockingham Castle on the Northamptonshire border, it’s an area teeming with history, legends and stunning countryside.

Bakewell Bridge

Thank you, Jenny! I’d love to visit Sherwood Forest sometime; it looks amazing!
(To find out more about Edward’s Outlaw, click the book cover above to see it on Amazon.)

Jennifer Ash at Bakewell Bridge

With a background in history and archaeology, Jennifer Ash should really be sitting in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jennifer writes stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side order of romance.
Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, Jennifer has written The Outlaw’s Ransom (Book One of The Folville Chronicles) – a short novel, which first saw the light of day within the novel Romancing Robin Hood (written under the name Jenny Kane; Pub. Littwitz Press, 2018).
Book Two of The Folville ChroniclesThe Winter Outlaw – was released in April 2018. (pub. LittwitzPress) Book Three of The Folville ChroniclesEdward’s Outlaw– was released in December 2018.
Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane. Her work includes the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018), Abi’s Neighbour (Accent Press, 2017), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016), and the bestsellers, Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).

You can find out more about Jenny/Jennifer and her books on her website.
She’s on Twitter: @JenAshHistory  and  @JennyKaneAuthor, and on Facebook as Jennifer Ash and Jenny Kane.

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