6Ws, Author Series

6Ws with Author Helen Matthews

After a reprieve, I am relaunching my 6Ws series to give some well-deserved attention to my fellow authors. With a nod to my former years as a journalist, I opted for the 6Ws of the business: who, what, when, where, why and how, which counts as it ends in W. And Helen Matthews, whose book Girl Out of Sight has an Oct. 4 release, is the first. Helen is a fellow darkstroke books author. You might have read her novel, The Girl in the Van, which was released earlier this year. I did and I highly recommend it. Anyway I will let Helen take over.

Who is author Helen Matthews?

Thanks for inviting me, Joan. I’m a British author, originally from Wales but I now live with my husband in a village in Hampshire, about an hour away from London. My son is a journalist and my daughter’s a police officer – handy when I need some detection and crime scene details checked. 

My novels sit within the crime genre but are page-turning psychological suspense and domestic thrillers rather than police procedurals. Although people die or face life-threatening danger in my books, investigating a crime isn’t the main plot driver. The books are more whydunnit than whodunnit. I’m fascinated by the darker side of human nature, flawed characters, unreliable narrators and how a life can change in an instant.

What is your latest book?

My latest book Girl Out of Sight is being published Oct. 4 by darkstroke books. It’s a suspense thriller with a theme of human trafficking and tells the story of seventeen-year-old Odeta, who leaves her remote village in Albania with a man she believes is her boyfriend. She thinks she’s going to begin an exciting new life and career in London, never imagining that her dream is about to descend into a nightmare. Odeta’s life isn’t especially grim but it’s colourless and lacks opportunity. Since leaving school, she’s been working in her father’s shop and thinks nothing interesting will ever happen to her again. Girl Out of Sight is a human-scale story not a vast-canvas international organised crime thriller. I wanted readers to relate to Odeta and walk in her footsteps, sharing her hopes and dreams as she travels to the UK and discovers what awaits her behind the doors of an ordinary London street.

Odeta is the central character but there’s a second storyline about Kate, a London journalist, whose  seemingly perfect life is filled with anxiety for her son, Ben. He’s obsessed with online gaming but struggles to make friends. Kate, who comes from a village in Wales, wants her son to experience the simpler childhood she enjoyed. In desperation, she disconnects her family from the internet and tries to build a community on her London street. But danger lurks behind closed doors. Perhaps her neighbours are not the friendly community they seem …

This book was first published five years ago by another press, under the title After Leaving the Village, and won first prize in the opening pages of a novel category at Winchester Festival. Because I’m passionate about raising awareness of the hideous crimes of human trafficking and modern slavery, I’m delighted darkstroke is publishing this new edition to bring the book to more readers.  

When did you begin writing?

I might seem like a late starter but I think of myself as someone who has served a long apprenticeship to get my novels published. From early childhood, throughout my teenage years and into adulthood I was always writing. I won a few competitions and had pieces published in teen magazines. A first degree in English was a setback due to years spent reading great literature but the urge to write didn’t go away. After long days in a busy corporate career, I wrote late at night after my children were in bed with a glass of wine by my side. My job conditioned me to business-speak, empty of emotion and I found it harder to write fiction. I didn’t give up. I switched to non-fiction and had some success with articles accepted by family and lifestyle magazines, a couple in national newspapers and even on BBC Radio.

Finally when my children were almost grown up I quit my job with no redundancy package, too young for my pension and went to Oxford Brookes University to do an MA in Creative Writing. I was lucky to get freelance consultancy work for several years alongside developing my writing.

How do you write?

Probably due to my corporate background, I’m instinctively a planner. I’d say I’m 70 percent planner: 20 percent free flowing ‘pantser’ and the remainder is just generally confused. I don’t always stick to my plans. Once my characters take on a life of their own, the book can go in an unexpected direction.

I keep a notebook with me and jot down ideas as they occur. Sometimes, if I’m out walking the dog I’ll record thoughts on my phone. When I have an idea for a new novel I do some mind mapping, assemble my notes and start initial research. Then I’ll do character sketches and a rough plan before  starting writing to see if the idea has legs and will sustain 90,000 words. Not all stories can. I don’t use any tools like Scrivener just Word on my laptop and lots of notebooks and post-it notes. 

Where do you write?

I’ve tried writing in cafes and on the move but I’m distracted by noise and other people’s conversations so I write better at home where I can close the door. I tend to move around rooms so I might write in the kitchen for a while or move upstairs to my daughter’s old bedroom. In summer, I  write outside in the garden if I can keep the glare of sunlight off my screen.

My ideal working environment is alone in my house so I can go deep into the world of my characters and live with them while figuring out their lives, plot and conflict. Having an empty house is rare unless my husband goes to France without me. The minute the door closes behind him I whizz around and tidy up so I’m not distracted by dirty dishes or piles of ironing. Then it’s head down and on with the writing all day and late into the night.

Why do you write?

No one holds a gun to our heads and forces us to write but, for me, the writing habit is impossible to kick. It’s even harder than ignoring the bottle of wine in my fridge that will be empty before bedtime. On a bad day, the urge to write feels like a disease: a virus that inhabits my body and steals my soul.  When writing is going badly, feelings of rejection can be crippling. It’s tempting to despair, press delete or stick an unfinished novel in a drawer. But do we give up? Of course not.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that writing can be both an addiction and a source of joy. The writing life, even when it’s not lucrative, is a total privilege. As well as the creative side of the work, I’ve met some amazing writers on my MA course, locally and in the online world  and built a new network of author friends.

 More about Helen: parting words

My previous novel The Girl in the Van came out with Darkstroke Books in March and made the Finalist list in the 2022 international Pageturner Book Awards. It also has a theme of modern slavery around the grooming of young people by gangs to deliver drugs out of cities into small towns and rural areas. In the UK, this is called ‘county lines’ exploitation, named after the mobile phone lines gangs use to control their young victims.

As well as novels I occasionally write short stories and flash fiction and these have been shortlisted and published by Flash 500, 1000K Story, Reflex Press, Artificium and Love Sunday magazine.

My rescue puppy, Homer, originally a street dog from Romania, arrived during lockdown and keeps me fit as he needs to walk at least three miles every day. I also cycle long distances with my girlfriends, sing in a choir and once appeared on stage at Carnegie Hall, New York in a multi-choir performance. In the year 2000, my husband and I impulse bought a tumbledown cowshed in France to renovate into a holiday home. It took years! We’re still tinkering with it now and spend several weeks there each year.

When I was researching the original version of Girl Out of Sight, I became a supporter of the charity Unseen UK which supports trafficking survivors and works towards a world without slavery. I’m now an Ambassador for the charity and donate my author talk fees, and a percentage of royalties, to them.

Link to Girl Out of Sight

You can download Girl Out of Sight at: Mybook.to/girloutofsight

Check out my other novels by clicking through to my Amazon page.

Helen Matthews on social media

https://www.helenmatthewswriter.com

Twitter: @HelenMK7

https://www.Instagram.com/helen.matthews7

https://Facebook.com/HelenMK7Writer

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6Ws, Author Interview

6 Ws with Author Angela Wren

Angela Wren is the next Crooked Cat Books author to be featured in this 6Ws series. Her new book, Montbel, is the third in her Jacques Forêt Mystery Series, which is set in France .

Why does she write? She says she enjoys creating a world that doesn’t really exist.  “And then, being a crime writer, I get to choose who dies!”

Here are her responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Angela Wren?

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an actor and director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing creatively, in a serious way, since 2010. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

What does she write?

Cosy crime novels, mostly.  But, my short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

When does she write?

Whenever I have a moment.  I spend most of my week at the theatre but that leaves me Sunday to Tuesday to do everything else — including writing — to keep household running.

How does she write?

From keyboard straight onto the electronic page.  Working in a very pressured environment taught me to be very business oriented and efficient with my time.  I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to write — usually when I’m doing really mundane tasks such as the ironing or cleaning the bathroom, or whatever.  This means that when I sit at my keyboard I know exactly what I want to say and my fingers just scramble across the keys to get the words down.

Where does she write?

The smallest bedroom in my house is my office and library.  I have loads of books all over the house but the largest number of them are in my office along with all my notes for stories etc.  My desk faces the window and I can look out on the garden when I pause for a moment.

Why does she write?

Because I love it. To me it’s great fun to be able to create a world that does not really exist and to people that world with interesting, and sometimes evil, characters.  And then, being a crime writer, I get to choose who dies!

More on Montbel:

A clear-cut case?

A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.

When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacque’s papers and shut down the investigation.

Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?

Available now to pre-order in e-format and print from Amazon and published by Crooked Cat Books

Her works:

Messandrierre (Jacques Forêt #1)

Merle (Jacques Forêt #2)

Montbel (Jacques Forêt #3)

Anthologies :

Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings

Original Writing from Ireland’s Own 2011

Angela Wren on social media:

Amazon : AngelaWren

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Contact an author: Angela Wren

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6Ws, Author Interview, Crooked Cat Books

6Ws with Alice Castle

Alice Castle is the next author to be featured in this 6Ws series. Besides being fellow Crooked Cat Books authors, Alice and I share a professional background — journalism. Now she writes the London Murder Mysteries series, which is on the cozy side. After all her sleuth is a single mum.

Homicide in Herne Hill, the next, has an Oct. 3 release day. Scroll down to get a Outlook-cwkzoymtsynopsis.

Here are her responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Alice Castle?

I’m a former national newspaper journalist, I’ve worked on various papers including The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Express. I’m now an editor for various publishers as well as a novelist.

What does she write?

I write cozy crime whodunits. My London Murder Mystery series features a single mum amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane. Beth is a thirty-something widow with a ten-year-old son, Ben, and a haughty black and white cat, Magpie.

When does she write?

I write in the mornings, as early as possible. Though I would by no means describe myself as a morning person, I still find this is the time when the ideas flow best. And it’s the quietest time in our busy house.

How does she write?

I write on my beloved Mac laptop, for as long as I can, but always writing at least a thousand words a day – twice as many as Graham Greene! I drink an awful lot of tea while I’m at it.

Where does she write?

At the moment, I write in my bedroom as various children are home from uni or school, and it’s too noisy and busy elsewhere. Usually, I write in the kitchen, with at least one of our two cats trying to drape itself across my keyboard.

Why does she write?

Because I have to. If I don’t have a novel on the go, I find myself writing incredibly long emails.

Give readers a brief description of your new book plus when it is available to buy and where, plus the publisher.

My new book, coming out on Oct. 3, is Homicide in Herne Hill, published by Crooked Cat. Beth Haldane, SE21’s premier – and only – single mum amateur sleuth, is really pleased to find a new friend at the school gates, in the shape of irrepressibly bouncy Nina. As well as a way with words, Nina has a puzzle she wants Beth to solve, centred on the solicitor’s office where she works in Herne Hill.

But as the mystery thickens, threatening to drag in not just Nina and her boss but the yummy mummies of Dulwich, too, Beth is about to find out just how far some people will go to keep up appearances. The fourth book in the London Murder Mystery series, this is Beth’s toughest case yet.

Other works:

London Murder Mystery series: Death in Dulwich, The Girl in the Gallery, Calamity in Camberwell.

Chicklit: Hot Chocolate, also published in German as Schokoherz.

Alice Castle on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DDsDiary

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alice.castle.355

Websites: https://www.alicecastleauthor.comhttps://www.dulwichdivorcee.com

Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/alice_castle__/

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6446735.Alice_Castle

 

 

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6Ws, Author Interview, Isabel Long Series, Redneck's Revenge

6 Ws with Me

Today, I am turning the tables on myself and answering the questions for my 6Ws series. I’ve been inviting fellow authors to participate, so why not me? After all, Redneck’s Revenge, the second book in the Isabel Long Mystery Series, is being Rednecks Revenge smallreleased Sept. 26. Here’s the link: http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge.

And, dammit, this is my blog.

Here are my responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Joan Livingston?

I have had many roles in my life. The first of four kids. A second-generation American of Portuguese heritage. The first to graduate from college. Wife (twice). Mother of six. Grandmother of two.

For a while, I moved around a lot. I’ve lived in big cities and very small towns, which is my preference and the setting for much of my fiction.

But when it comes to words, I was a journalist for thirty years — rising from a correspondent to managing editor of an award-winning newspaper.

So now I am an author currently immersed in my Isabel Long Mystery Series.

I have struggled with the business side of writing. I’ve gone through two agents and a countless number of rejections from publishing houses. I’ve tried self-publishing. Crooked Cat Books is the publisher for the first three books of Isabel Long Mystery Chasing the Case cover copySeries. (Yes, there will be more.)

But rejection doesn’t stop me from writing because it’s what I love to do.

What do I write?

Right now I am immersed in the Isabel Long Mystery Series. As stated above, the second has a Sept. 26 release. Chasing the Case was released in May. The third, Checking the Traps will be published by Crooked Cat Books in 2019. Last week, I found inspiration for the fourth. I am terribly excited.

But I write in other genres. A few of my books are what I would call literary fiction. I have also written a series for middle-grade readers and a bilingual series for children. A good percentage of these books have not been published.

When did I begin writing?

I began writing as a child through the encouragement of great teachers. In college, I wrote poetry because, to be honest, I could not sustain a thought in prose. Then I had a writer’s block that lasted 25 years — much of it while I was mothering six young kids. My first semi-break was when I became a reporter covering a rural area in Western Massachusetts. But I didn’t start writing fiction until I became an editor. The block broke for good and it is a rare day I don’t write fiction.

How do I write?

I just sit at the computer and let the words all come onto the screen as fast as my fingers can type them. I don’t plan ahead or use any programs. No outlines. Without sounding like a totally crazy woman, it’s a rather telepathic experience.

Sometimes ideas come to me as I am falling asleep or doing some brainless chore.

Of course, there is rewriting. Sometimes I will stop part way, print out the pages and see how I’m doing. I might decide to add a scene. Or I will note as I go along a detail that needs to be resurrected later.

I liken rewriting to taking up a daydream and making it better.

As for the time of day, I usually write very early in the morning, but if an idea hits me, I will write later in the day.

Where do I write?

I can write most anywhere. I believe I developed my powers of concentration working in busy and noisy newsrooms. But my favorite spot is a desk my husband, Hank, built for me. He was on a job site when a woman told him to throw out old IMG_6098boards that were used for shelving. It turns out they were black walnut. He’s also built me great wooden storage units for the top of the desk. Then there are the funny bits of things, rocks and figurines I’ve collected.

Why do I write?

I write because I can’t help myself. It is definitely my form of expression.

More about Redneck’s Revenge:

Her next case. She’s in it for good.

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over. Then cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

Encouraged by her Watson — her 92-year-old mother  — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.

Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

Other published works: Chasing the Case; Peace, Love and You Know What; The Sweet Spot; and  The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los Primos y el Pez Mágico.

Find them here: Joan Livingston books on Amazon

Joan Livingston on social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoanLivingstonAuthor/

Twitter: @joanlivingston

Instagram: www.Instagram.com/JoanLivingston_Author

Goodreads: www.Goodreads.com/Joan_Livingston

One last thing: Join me for the Facebook launch part Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2 p.m. EST wherever the heck you are. I will leave it up for 24 hours so people can pop in when it’s convenient. Here’s how to connect: Redneck’s Revenge Facebook Party

 

 

 

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6Ws, Author Interview

6Ws with Author Sarahlyn Bruck

Sarahlyn Bruck is the next Crooked Cat Books author to be featured in my 6Ws series. Contemporary women’s fiction is the genre for this Philadelphia-based author. Designer You, her debut novel, officially launches Aug. 31. Yes, I have my copy ordered.

29343289_1873365232703276_6394784370451808256_oI especially like Sarahlyn’s answer to the question when does she write. It appears anywhere and everywhere, no surprise for a working mom.

Here are Sarahlyn’s responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Sarahlyn Bruck?

Hi Joan! Thanks for hosting me on your blog. I’m a writer based in Philadelphia. I also teach writing and literature full-time at a local community college and am a part-time book coach for Author Accelerator.

What does she write?

I write contemporary women’s fiction.

When does she write?

It depends. I’m a morning person, so when I’m writing a first draft and need that laser focus, I carve out my drafting time in the mornings. When I’m in editing mode, I edit in the afternoons, usually after grading student papers and working on client material. I try to work on my writing every day. I’m not always successful, but I try.

How does she write?

I write mostly on a laptop. Sometimes I write on my iPad that has one of those little, cramped keyboards attached.

Where does she write?

I’m fortunate to have a “room of my own,” so to speak — an office slash guest room on the second floor of our Philly townhouse. I love it, but I can write anywhere and sometimes I have to. I’m a working mom, so I need to be flexible if I want to get the words in. I can write at 5 a.m. perched on a barstool in our kitchen. I can write at work in between classes and meetings with students. I can write in a coffee shop waiting for after-school pick up. I can write sitting on a hard wooden bench in a gym during my daughter’s indoor soccer practice.

Why does she write?

I’m crazy about stories in any form — books, magazines, movies, TV, dance, theater — and always have been. Books, though, have provided a constant stream of stories for me since early childhood. Libraries were always magical, wonderful, and safe places. I was never one who could get anything done in a library — too distracted by books! So for me, writing is my way of participating in storytelling, using a form that comes really naturally to me and is the most fun.

More: Give readers a brief description of your new book plus when it is available to buy and where, plus the publisher.

Title: Designer You

Publisher: Crooked Cat Books

Release Date: Aug. 31

Format: Paperback and Ebook

Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DH6B38H

Pam and Nate were a couple who just couldn’t get away from each other, sharing not only their bed but also a successful joint lifestyle empire as DIY home renovators, bloggers, podcasters, and co-authors. When Nate dies in a freak accident, Pam’s suddenly a 44-year-old widow, at once too young and too old — too young to be thrust into widowhood and too old to rejoin the dating pool. And now a single mother of a headstrong and grief-stricken teenager, Pam’s life becomes a juggling act between dealing with her grief and learning how to parent by herself. On top of all that? She also must reinvent herself or lose the empire that she and Nate had so carefully built.

Now is the time for Pam to seize the opportunity to step up as a mother, come out from behind Nate’s shadow and rise as the sole face of the Designer You brand, and maybe, possibly, hopefullyfind love, again.

Sarahlyn Bruck on social media:

Website: www.sarahlynbruck.com

Email: sarahlyn@sarahlynbruck.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahlynbruck/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@sarahbruck/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/slbruck/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5803427-sarahlyn-bruck

 

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