Archives for novel

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If you like collecting visual images, you may enjoy Pinterest. When I first checked it out I was amazed at how much Pinterest content is connected to books, either boards by authors about their books, by book bloggers, designers discussing book cover design, and generally boards about creativity. My current favourite quote was culled from Pinterest:- “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” Virginia Woolf [below, portrait by Roger Fry] I have recently started collecting images connected with my writing at my new author page. There are three sections, one devoted to my Spanish blog, a second to Ignoring Gravity, and the third to my general writing. The Ignoring Gravity board includes research photos not shared elsewhere. I will gradually be adding to my boards, so please check back occasionally. Click here to go to my Pinterest page.  
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Categories: My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

Book review: Allegiant

The tone of this book, the third in the story about Tris Prior, is different. Influential in this, I think, is the point-of-view which is split for the first time: between Tris and Tobias [Four]. Getting a male perspective is interesting, and I guess Veronica Roth took this approach to add more tension to the storytelling. It certainly highlights the lack of communication between the two. But at times, I lost track of whose thoughts I was reading: not a good sign. The book is full of strong female characters, but not strong in a good way. Evelyn, head of the factionless; Edith Prior, Tris’s ancestor, whose mystery hangs over this third book. The world Tris knew in Divergent and Insurgent has been shattered by violence so she and Tobias set out, beyond the fence to find a new world. Except this is a book, so the new world is not going to be green fields. It is going to be violent and unequal too. Unfortunately this reads to me like an author struggling to string her story idea out across three books, because publishers like publishing YA trilogies and Hollywood likes making film trilogies for teens. Allegiant could have done with
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Eeny Meeny

MJ Arlidge has worked in television, most recently producing crime serials for ITV, and so it is no surprise that this is an accomplished debut crime novel. I found it disturbing from chapter one which takes you straight into the head of one person, looking at another person sleeping, wondering how to kill him. For one to escape their prison, the other must die. They have been imprisoned with a loaded gun and a message on a mobile phone: ‘when one of you kills the other, the survivor will walk free’. For Detective Inspector Helen Grace, this first case of murder is quickly followed by another kidnapping/murder, and another. Hiding her own demons beneath a veneer of efficiency and emotional self-sufficiency, Grace is out-stepped again and again by a killer who seems a master of disguise as well as being that most rare of things: a female serial killer. Grace fits the profile of a modern literary detective: a loner, with a troubled past and full of guilt. The investigation seems to twist and turn in on itself, turning attention on the police, and on Grace herself. I found myself rooting for her, until finally at the end we understand
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Categories: Book Love.

Jane Cable reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“What really sets this novel apart is the author’s descriptive skill.” Jane Cable [below], author of ‘The Cheesemaker’s House’ “By tackling the ever popular themes of adoption and infertility, Sandra Danby’s Ignoring Gravity is mining a rich vein in women’s fiction and is bound to appeal. But her take on these painful subjects is somewhat original and her story has an unexpected twist in the tail. “Rose Haldane discovers she is adopted when she and her sister Lily are clearing out their mother’s belongings after her death. Rose, a journalist, sets out to discover her natural parents and Danby keeps you turning the pages as Rose’s past gradually unfolds. Meanwhile Lily is forced to come to terms with the fact that her failure to conceive may be more do with her genes than her diet or her uncooperative husband. “What really sets this novel apart is the author’s descriptive skill. As a reader, you are at Rose’s elbow on the floor of her mother’s bedroom; you can taste her grandmother’s homemade cake and feel her tears. There are moments of lightness too, wry smiles created as Danby brings Rose’s frenetic working environment to life and when Lily discovers her husband’s
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

The sunny, Sunshine Award

This is a very pretty award logo, it makes me smile and I think the title is very apt. Thank you so much to Cay at Life of Chi for the nomination. Cay is originally from Norway so English is not her mother tongue, she claims her vocabulary is limited and to be a terrible speller, but I would never have guessed she was not English. Her novel, Life of Chi is being published in short instalments on her blog Life of Chi. In accepting the award I have to answer these questions:- What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten? Don’t be daft, I don’t eat weird food: I’m a vegetarian [okay, I do eat fish]. What is your biggest accomplishment? Finishing Ignoring Gravity and planning a series of novels to follow it, all about Rose Haldane, identity detective. It’s been a long time in the planning. What is your biggest regret? Not taking a year out between A’levels and university to travel the world. I started travelling in my mid-20s as a journalist but, on reflection, I think I missed out. I had to wait many years to make it to The Maldives [below] but it was
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Categories: On Writing.

Book review: The Accident

This is the story of an abusive relationship, an accident and a mental breakdown. The action takes place in 1990-1992 and the present day. The tension winds up in both strands so you don’t want to put down the book. I found myself picking up my Kindle every spare five minutes, just to read a few more pages. The Accident by CL Taylor has a sense of expectant horror: ‘surely that’s not going to happen’, ‘surely she’s not going to do this, or that’. Charlotte, the fifteen year old daughter of Sue and Brian Jackson, is in a coma. Apparently she stepped off the pavement in front of a bus. As Sue and Brian sit by their daughter’s hospital bed, they disagree about what happened. Brian thinks it’s an accident, Sue worries Charlotte had some sort of problem she couldn’t discuss with her parents. And so begins the re-telling of Sue’s dark past, about the demons she struggles with, and the determination she has to fight the past interfering with her present life. The unravelling of the truth puts pressure on the Jacksons’ marriage and Sue’s sanity. The two parents deal with the tragedy in their own way and Sue,
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Categories: Book Love.

Filming the book trailer

The book trailer for Ignoring Gravity was a real team effort including a beginner [me] and experienced professionals [everyone else]. The team at Nicky Stephen Marketing had pulled together the film specialists. I wrote the script and found Vicki Shearing, the actress whose voice you hear on the film. Vicki was the only team-member not present on filming day, having recorded the script a few days earlier. Rain was forecast at 10am on our chosen cold day in March so we assembled early and prepared to do the outside shots first, shooting out of sequence. In fact, the rain held off until the afternoon so, for the book trailer, we didn’t need Plan B. The author interview was another story, the story of ‘Filming the author interview’ is coming soon: suffice to say we needed Plan A, B and C for that one. So it was a casual start at our chosen location in the pretty Leicestershire village of Hoby. We took our breakfast mugs of tea on a tray to the graveyard of Hoby Church. The first lesson I learned about filming is that in winter the crew operates on hot drink and regular food. Jane Cowan our model arrived
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Categories: Book publicity and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

How I write…

As writers we are all curious about how other writers do it. Are there tricks of the trade I don’t know, are there secrets that would help me be a better writer, magical writing exercises, foolproof computer software? Sabrina Garie, fellow contributor to The Milk of Female Kindness: an Anthology of Honest Motherhood kindly tagged me for this writing process blog tour which lets writers share the way they write. The intention? So we can all learn from each other. Click here to learn about how Sabrina writes. On Monday April 14 please visit my fellow writers Julie Stock, Sharon Bonin-Pratt and Rachel Stirling to read about their writing habits. What am I working on at the moment? At the moment I’m in a mad whirl of promotion for Ignoring Gravity, encouraging people to pre-order the book. I have a new type of crowd-funding publishing contract which involves getting 250 pre-orders from the public for my book to confirm publication in September 2014. So far I have taken 58 orders [23% of my target] only one week after it went on sale. But 250 still seems intimidating! Tomorrow in London is our major annual book exhibition, The London Book Fair
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

New day, new photo

I’ve been away from home all week, filming for Ignoring Gravity: a book trailer and an author interview in which I talk about my idea for the novel, adoption in the 1960s, and the symbolism of trees. I also have a new portrait photo, which I’m rather pleased with. For one thing, you can’t see me shivering… the blue sky gave way to grey, then wind, then rain… and secondly I love the setting. One of our locations was the most beautiful garden with a [leafless] tree, the trunk of which was surrounded by a circular wooden seat. I hope you like my new photo as much as I do!
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Categories: My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

Book review: Holes

This book by Louis Sachar has been sitting on my shelf forever but I picked it up this week when I exhausted my Kindle’s battery. How lovely to hold an actual book again. I know this is a book for tweens, but I’d heard such good things about it that I wanted to see for myself. I loved the premise: that Stanley is wrongly found guilty of stealing a pair of trainers and is sent to a juvenile correction camp where the punishment is to dig a hole a day. Five feet deep and five feet wide. Every day. It is supposed to be character-building, but Stanley thinks there is another agenda. “There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. There once was a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas. That was over a hundred years ago. Now it is just a dry, flat wasteland.” It is a story about finding out who you are, standing up to bullies and finding your bravery. “Out on the lake, rattlesnakes and scorpions find shade under rocks and in the holes dug by the campers.” Woven in with the day-to-day tale of hole-digging is the background to Stanley’s unlucky family;
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Categories: Book Love.

New books coming soon

Kat French Undertaking Love by Kat French is just out by Avon. The deal includes two further titles to be published by Avon in 2015 and 2016. French, an author on HarperCollins’ writing community Authonomy, also writes as Kitty French. Under this pen name she has written Kindle bestsellers Knight & Play, Knight & Stay and Knight and Day. Siobhan MacDonald Twisted River is one of two stand-alone psychological thrillers from Irish debut author Siobhan MacDonald [below] to be bought by Exhibit A, the crime imprint of Angry Robot. Twisted River will be published in October this year. Set in Manhattan and Limerick, Twisted River follows a dream holiday house swap goes horribly wrong. The second novel, The Blue Pool, will be published next year. Rod Duncan ‘The Fall of the Gaslit Empire’ is a new series of alternate history books by Rod Duncan, signed in a two-book deal by Angry Robot. The first, The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter, will be published this September with the sequel, Unseemly Science, in 2015. The series tells the story of Elizabeth Barnabus who lives a double life posing as her private detective brother. Kameron Hurley Kameron Hurley has signed a deal for world rights with Angry Robot for Worldbreaker Saga:
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… Lauren Owen

Lauren Owen “I think family relationships are very interesting; the idea of what you tell the people who are closest to you and what you don’t tell them – or what you’re able to tell them. And whether or not being able to tell them everything about yourself means that your love for your family is not complete.” [in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, February 7, 2014]  The Quick is Lauren Owen’s first novel, a gothic tale about brother and sister James and Charlotte who grow up in a huge old house in Yorkshire. Owen is driven by this family dynamic, and I agree with her that all families are fascinating: who can know what really goes on in a family except the people involved? How well does your brother really know you, or you him? What is he not telling you, what is he hiding from you? When James stops communicating, Charlotte sets off for London to find him. It’s the same in my novel Ignoring Gravity. It never occurred to Rose that there were secrets in her family, that her parents would not tell her the truth. Click here to read more about Rose.   ‘The Quick’ by Lauren Owen
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Field of Flowers

The Golden Globes, BAFTAS and Oscars are finished. The book prizes are yet to come in 2014. So I thought that was it for this awards season. So I got a real kick to receive a nomination for a new award ‘A Field of Flowers’ from the lovely Rachel Carrera. Thanks Rachel! She likes blogging awards because they ‘pass the love around’ and help us all to find new bloggers. So check out her blog here. Rachel is a writer, and like me she’s been thinking of and writing stories for as long as she can remember. Then last year came a turning-point, for three nights in a row she dreamed the same dream which she is turning into her novel The Prison. As Rachel [in Florida] and I [in the UK] are both writers, I thought I’d take this opportunity to pass on this award to my fellow authors in the global blogging world. Please check out their blogs:- My London writing buddie Alison Chandler has just posted a new excerpt of her novel Tidings which tells Marty’s story, the rise of his rock band from Wales and what happens when success hits. She’s now working on her next novel The
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Film/Book: ‘All the Birds, Singing’ by Evie Wyld

There is to be a film of All the Birds, Singing, the captivating novel by Evie Wyld [below]. The tale of mysterious Jack unfolds between Australia and England. The film rights have been bought by Capa Pictures and Asylum Giant. Carola Ash [below], producer and CEO at Capa Pictures, is a former head of production for Warner Brothers International Television while CEO at Asylum Giant, Mark Lo, worked on films such as The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.  To read my review of All the Birds, Singing, click here. To listen to Evie Wyld talk about why working in her bookshop, Review, in London, is a good grounding for a hopeful author, click here. Read The Guardian’s review of Evie’s book here Visit Evie’s website here.   ‘All the Birds, Singing’ by Evie Wyld [UK: Vintage] Buy now Read about these other books, made into films:- ‘Last Orders’ by Graham Swift ‘These Foolish Things’ by Deborah Moggach And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Film/book: ALL THE BIRDS, SINGING by Evie Wyld #books & #film via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-Qg
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Categories: Book Love.

New books coming soon

Abbie Ross  Doubleday has signed two humorous novels by debut author Abbie Ross. Hippy Dinners, to be published in May this year, is set in Wales in the 1970s. The second novel is un-named. Alan Warner Their Lips Talk of Mischief is the eighth novel by Man Booker Prize-longlisted author Alan Warner. To be published by Faber in August, the book is set in the 1980s and follows two penniless writers who share a flat. MP Wright Debut crime novelist MP Wright has signed a contract for two novels with Black and White Publishing. Heartman follows the story of JT Ellington who has recently arrived from the West Indies in 1960s Bristol. The first of a series of books featuring Ellington, Heartman will be published in July this year. TV rights have been optioned by World Productions. Kirsty Ferry The Memory of Snow, an adult fantasy novel by self-published author Kirsty Ferry, has been bought by Choc Lit in a two-book deal. The Memory of Snow will be re-launched by Choc Lit this spring. Ferry’s second novel, a time-slip story, will be published in the autumn. Ferry is the second self-published author recently signed by Choc Lit, Melanie Hudson was signed in
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Categories: Book Love.

One year old, what a journey!

A year has passed since I published my first post here. Looking back, I didn’t know much about blogging. I saw it as a way of getting my writing out into the public sphere, getting people to read it. What I didn’t expect was the huge community of bloggers who love books, reading and writing, just as much as I do. So THANK YOU to everyone who has read my blog over the last 12 months – thanks for finding me, and liking me, and adding your comments. It’s been a real learning process, some things worked, others didn’t, it took me quite a while to figure out how to work WordPress. Some things are still a mystery to me! To read my very first post, a short story called ‘Magic and Mischief’, click here ‘Magic and Mischief’ was a finalist in the London New Writing competition in 2002. In 2003 it was published in Diaspora City: the London New Writing anthology [pub. Arcadia Books] along with short stories by Maggie Gee, Iain Sinclair and Toby Litt. Buy it from Amazon here
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Categories: Book Love, My Short Stories and On Writing.

New books coming soon

JD Oswald Crime writer Oswald, who writes the Inspecter McLean series, has signed a five book fantasy deal with Michael Joseph. The Ballad of Sir Befro is an epic fantasy series following a boy called Errol his dragon Benfro. Together they will shape the future of the Twin Kingdoms. Dreamwalker, the first of the five, will be published this autumn. Antti Tuomainen Dark as My Heart, a second novel by Finnish writer Antti Tuomainen [below] is to be published in the UK next year by Harvill Secker. His first book in English, The Healer, is published by the Random House imprint. Dark as My Heart is related by Aleksi, who applies for a job as caretaker of the isolated seaside estate belonging to his mother’s former employer. Rachael Lucas Pan Macmillan has signed three books and an e-book novella from Rachael Lucas. Sealed with a Kiss, Lucas’s self-published debut novel, is a story of friendship, romance and rescued seals set on a remote Scottish island. It made the Kindle top 10 and has been downloaded more than 70,000 times. It will be published by Pan Macmillan in paperback in May, with a sequel e-book novella to be released for Christmas 2014. A third
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: All the Birds, Singing

This story by Evie Wyld is about secrets, now, in the past, in Australia, in England. The opening is shocking, a mutilated sheep, no description spared. Jack Whyte, a man’s name but a female character, feels threatened, fears the attack on the sheep is meant as a message for her. And from here the rollercoaster starts, as we follow Jack’s current grey existence with her sheep, somewhere anonymous in England, and a dog called Dog. This story is told in alternating chapters, switching between England now, and Australia then. The story in the present goes forward, in linear time, normal time. Jack’s back story in Australia, the reasons she is where she is, is told backwards. This seemed strange to start with, but the author handles this structure elegantly and it suits the sinister tone. I didn’t guess Jack’s secret, didn’t know how it would all end. There is a deep sense of foreboding throughout this book. Something happened: Jack is running from something, from someone, but what?  Are local children in England attacking her sheep, or is there a huge animal which roams at night? Why does she shun the locals? Why is she in England, so far from
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Categories: Book Love.

New books coming soon

Garth Risk Hallberg City on Fire, the debut novel by American writer Garth Risk Hallberg, will be published in the UK by Jonathan Cape. Film rights for the novel were sold to Scott Rudin who produced Captain Phillips and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. City on Fire is set in New York in the 1970s, and culminates in the evening of the 1977 blackout. The book has split UK publishers, according to The Bookseller magazine. One called it a “game-changer” and “better than Franzen,” while another publisher described it to The Bookseller as “quite patchy” and “very much about New York in the 1970s.” Natasha Boyd Eversea, the first in a series of novels by Natasha Boyd about Hollywood film star Jack Eversea, is to be published by Headline Eternal. Eversea goes to sleepy Butler Cove in South Carolina to escape the tabloid glare and his increasingly vapid life. There he meets local girl Keri Ann Butler. Previously self-published, e-book and paperback versions will be published, to be followed by the second book in the series, Forever, Jack, to be published by Headline Eternal this winter. Melanie Hudson The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson, originally self-published and shortlisted
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Divergent

I wonder what percentage of Young Adult [YA] fiction currently published features a dystopian world. Are our teens so disenchanted with their own real world that they only want to read fantasy? Certainly Suzanne Collins and Stephanie Meyer have a lot of responsibility for this, their two series have dominated the bookshelves and cinema screens for the last six years. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the feistiness of Katniss, though I was not so keen on Bella who was a bit too sulky for me. So to Divergent by Veronica Roth, a book that had passed me by until I read online reviews, reviews which prompted my Kindle purchase of the trilogy. The story is set in a city which was once Chicago where every citizen belongs to one of five factions. Each faction represents a human virtue: Candor [honesty], Amity [kindness], Dauntless [fearlessness], Abnegation [selflessness], Erudite [searching for knowledge]. At 16, teenagers are assessed for their affinity to the factions and can choose the faction they will be for the rest of their life. Anyone whose test results are inconclusive is labelled ‘divergent’. Tris, the protagonist, is divergent. This is her story and is the first of a trilogy. The
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Categories: Book Love.