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Book Club Archive
Here you will find past entries from the book club including recommended reads, local authors, articles and kids fiction.
The Spirit FM bookworm chats to local author Roz Ryszka-Onions about her books, how to get published and how she is a stickler for discipline when she’s writing
3rd February 2015
Tell me about your books
Hidden Evil is a supernatural thriller featuring medium Alison Rowan who moves to the picturesque West Sussex village of Elmswell after the breakup of her marriage. She yearns for a fresh start, but her personal life is a tangled web and as fate would have it indirectly connected to the hauntings in the village, which she is called upon to solve……
Deceit in May is a psychological/political thriller and romance. Keira moves to the tranquil harbour town of Bosham into a quaint cottage at the water’s edge. Life has been unkind but she is determined to live it to the full. Things don’t run smoothly because she holds the answers to a secret and there are people who won’t let her forget it, no matter how far she runs…….
When Love Dies is a tale of revenge from beyond the grave. Told in the voice of Laella’s ghost, she haunts Val the man who drove her to suicide when he posted revenge porn on social media. Val had everything a man could possibly want, but he was never content and in this story with a twist, he gets more than he bargained for……….
Where does your passion from writing stem from?
In short, from reading. I’ve always loved to read across the genres. As a girl I read anything from kitsch gothic romance through to James Bond and other thrillers. I loved individualists such as Marika Cobbold and Kate Atkinson; writers who brought history to life such as Philippa Gregory and masters of horror such as Stephen King. Dickens, Austin and Tolstoy were amongst my favourites as well as contemporary writers such as Dave Eggers and Mark Edwards. This list goes on and one day much to my surprise I started writing.
Where do you find inspiration?
I’ve met some colourful characters, some who would make excellent villains or arch-baddies and I can’t say that my own life or experiences have been dull and as I seem to absorb the world around me, I’ve never had to look very far for material for my novels. Even so I can honestly say that the characters in my stories bear no resemblance to anyone I know or I’ve met. They seem to develop as I type.
Tell me about your writing process - are you disciplined?
For someone who dislikes routine I am strangely disciplinarian when it comes to writing. I’m in the process of editing the first novel I ever completed and even then I had a method of sorts, one which has evolved but fundamentally remains unchanged. I have a core idea for a story, then I envisage the characters and what a writing manual would call ‘plot points’ and what we would call incidents or episodes. At this stage I get to work on the opening paragraphs and start to visualise the interlocking action as I go. This is where the hard graft of writing comes in as bit by bit I visualise and write up the story, hoping the right words come to me and then we have the editing…………….but that’s a whole different process.
What do you do as a day job?
I’ve managed to scratch a bit of a living from writing on a freelance basis. On occasion I try to find a part time job to pad out my scanty income, but the recession, my being a homemaker and my age are against me. Yes, you guessed it……….this is the day job!
Where in West Sussex are you based?
Sixteen years ago I settled in Hambrook and currently I live in the neighbouring village of West Ashling, just outside Chichester. Originally I’m from Manchester and I moved to the South Coast from London, where I was working.
What was your experience of getting your books published - did you self-publish or did you go through an agent or a publisher?
Finding an agent or a publisher is a little like trying to figure out whether the egg or the chicken came first. Most publishers only want to print and market an author who has agent representation. Most agents only want to take on an author who they know is wanted by publishing companies. It made no sense to keep getting rejection letters from agents whilst listening to publishing companies telling me to find an agent, so I self-published on amazon kindle. I’m looking into getting my novels printed, but it’s an expensive business and paying the bills has to come first.
What is the best piece of advice you would pass on to an aspiring author?
I’d say write with passion and from the heart, but don’t bore your reader.
To find out more about Roz’s books follow the links here:
Hidden Evil - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BD4413E
Deceit in May - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00JI4FMT8
When Love Dies - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00JI4FMT8
Posted by Vicky Edwards at 11:13am
Loves to Read: Local author Christopher Joyce reveals his reading preferences and tells the Spirit FM bookworm about his latest book in The Creatures of Chichester series
21st January 2015
My favourite book as a child was Gulliver's Travels with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland a close second. I loved the escapism and weird and wonderful worlds the authors created.
Which non-fiction book do you find most fascinating?
I still have a copy of Whale Nation by Heathecote Williams, a fascinating non-fiction book about the blue whale. It's written in rhyme and has the most beautiful pictures of these majestic beasts. I was at university at the time and marched in London to ban whale hunting.
Have you ever read a self-help book? If yes, what?
How Not to Write A Novel by Mittelmark and Newman is genius. Through witty examples of a bad novel they cover everything you need to avoid before you put pen to paper. It's a must read for anyone thinking of writing a book.
Which book gripped you from start to finish?
I used to be a big fan of Stephen King and I remember sitting up in bed to finish The Shining until 4am.
What might we be surprised to learn that you had read?
As an author of kid's books, people might be surprised to know I have read The Case of Mary Bell about a child psychopath who murdered two toddlers in 1968. I was at Lancaster University at the time it was released and the author, Gitta Sereny attended the trial and then interviewed Mary later. I was studying psychology as a minor subject and found it fascinating.
Which book have you always meant to read but have never got around to?
I always meant to read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but every time I think about it they launch another film.
Tell us about your books
I have just finished the third book in my series of books about The Creatures of Chichester. The latest one is: The One About The Curious Cloud. As in the previous books, it is the creatures of the city that solve the problems created by the Twolegs (or humans). The hero of this book is a little deaf girl and her pet rabbit, called Plectrum, who live above the music shop in West Street. Aimed at kids from age seven or so I do have some readers over 90 too. They are available from Amazon and more details can be found on my website www.creaturesofchichester.com
Posted by Vicky Edwards at 2:50pm
27th November 2014
The Cheese Maker's House
Jane Cable’s critically acclaimed book The Cheesemaker’s House is a gripping and elegantly written romantic suspense novel. Jane tells Team Spirit how the journey from cracking idea to being published and on the shelves in Waterstones can be an uphill trudge – even when Alan Titchmarsh is rooting for you…
Given I’ve lived near Chichester for almost twenty years, I do find people ask me why I don’t write about it. So much of my fiction is driven by place it does seem a bit of an anomaly but, without wanting to sound too up myself, as a writer you are a bit of a slave to inspiration.
The Cheesemaker’s House was inspired by a house I fell in love with in the tiny North Yorkshire village of Great Fencote. It’s a very ordinary village with a couple of farms, a small church and a few dozen houses. It was a very ordinary house too; but although I never lived there and only visited it a handful of times, I could tell you its history in minute and tedious detail.
Safe to say, that’s not what the book does. The Cheesemaker’s House is a romance-suspense novel about a divorcee called Alice who moves north to lick her wounds following the breakdown of her marriage and finds herself meeting her new neighbours from the present and the past.
It started its journey from rejected manuscript to five star reviews by winning the suspense & crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It reached the last four from over a thousand entries and won praise from the likes of Sophie Hannah, Cathy Kelly and Jeffrey Archer. Un-put-downable, they said. A rise to the top of the best seller list would surely follow.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, things did not go according to plan. Sophie Hannah gave me the best advice of all. Off air, and in private, she told me I had a great voice and a great idea but the manuscript needed a lot of work to make it publishable. I was disappointed because I’d already worked with a professional editor on the book – she told me to find another one.
Instead, I found an agent, but although I had a great deal of help improving the manuscript we parted company after six months because I couldn’t re-write it as the thriller he wanted. I was left feeling that if he’d told me he wanted a thriller in the first place we could have saved a great deal of time, but held my tongue because I had learnt so much about writing, for example using short chapters – something readers of The Cheesemaker’s House almost always love.
Another agent came along very quickly but wanted The Cheesemaker’s House re-written as a pure romance. Take out the spooky bits and just write about a Yorkshire village – a whole series – it’ll sell like hot cakes. ‘But’, a small voice inside me (and the rather louder voice belonging to my mother) said: ‘it wouldn’t be my book’.
At the end of 2012 I went to a self-publishing conference organised by the Writers & Artists Year Book. It was a day well spent. As well as being inspired by writers like Ben Galley who make a proper living out of their writing without a publisher or agent in sight, I heard Jeremy Thompson from Matador speak and having been helping writers into print for donkeys’ years he made a great deal of sense.
Using Matador would not be a cheap option, but it became clear to me that sticking an e-book on Amazon wouldn’t get me what I wanted. What did I want? Little as I knew about publishing I knew I needed help to navigate the maze of distributors, retailers and e-publishers. Not to mention the gargantuan task of marketing a book. I completely believed – and still believe – that readers would love The Cheesemaker’s House if only I could help them to get their hands on a copy.
By and large I’ve been right. Of course there has been the odd bad review, and the friend who says nothing at all rather than saying something nasty, but on the whole I have been delighted by how well the book has gone down. People I don’t even know have enjoyed it; where it’s found its way into libraries it seems to have waiting lists; and a community of book bloggers I didn’t even know existed have taken it to their hearts.
So what inspirational place is next for me? Closer to home, certainly, but still not Chichester. The banks of the river Hamble, in fact, where a couple meet again after twenty years and discover that memory is not quite what it seems. The working title is The Faerie Tree and it should appear as if by magic early next year.
But I do have this idea, you know, about a man who lives in one of the old railway carriage bungalows in Pagham with his daughter…
Thank you for reading this far. If you’re interested in finding out more then please visit my website: www.janecable.com
Spirit FM catches up with Chichester author Jeremy Good to talk about Jeremy’s historical thriller, The Butcher’s Son.
Q: So what’s it all about then, Jeremy?
A: It is set in 1976. The main character, Jose Heydrich, the son of notorious SS general, Reinhard Heydrich, the ‘Butcher of Prague’, discovers his mother has kept something terrible hidden in a safety deposit box for over thirty years. Jose is forced to go on a journey from Sao Paulo to Germany to track down a survivor of the Holocaust and uncover the truth of the past, of what his parents really did during the war. What he discovers is worse than he could have possibly imagined. In the end it is Jose who has to stop the inevitable finale of what was begun thirty-four years before – the resurrection of a Fourth Reich.
Q: We understand that you have conceived The Butcher’s Son as the middle volume of a trilogy. Which is next?
A: I am currently writing a prequel which has come about through the voice of one of the characters in this book needing to tell his story – the Holocaust survivor, Benjamin Bernstein. But I have a clear sense of books 1 and 3 in the series, and have already drafted book one.
Q: You’ve had some smashing comments about the book (“The Butcher’s Son is a fast paced thriller – well researched and never a dull moment” and “A genre busting novel that is part thriller, part historical drama, with a mix of something supernatural in the background – very cinematic”) but where can people get hold of it?
A: The Butcher’s Son is available on Amazon & Kindle. You can contact me via my website at www.jeremygood.co.uk and also on twitter and facebook: @MrJeremyGood; Jeremy Good author
The 7.52 to London Bridge
By Julian Kirkman-Page
A must for anyone who has endured the daily grind of commuting, Julian Kirkman-Page has put his own experience of some 40 years of schlepping up and down the line to literary use with this superb collection of short stories.
All linked in some way to the trials of the daily shuttle to and from London Bridge, the tales, each designed to be ‘train journey length’ span treasure hunting, the supernatural, mistaken identity in the Tory Party, mayhem for movie stars in Bermuda and more.
Funny, nostalgic, cleverly conceived and written with style and wit, these stories are the perfect antidote to the wrong sort of leaves on the line and other such ordeals of daily train travel.
The sales from this title are going to help fund another type of transport: our fantastic Selsey Lifeboat service.
For more details visit www.the752tolondonbridge.com
The Grown-Ups Wouldn’t Like It
Adventures in several countries and many languages
By Delia Despair
A warm, funny and unique memoir stuffed with famous faces and extraordinary characters
Living in neighbouring East Sussex, author Delia Despair has written a memoir that manages to be funny, fascinating and moving in equal measure. With broad appeal across a female readership, The Grown-Ups Wouldn’t Like It will be especially popular with fans of Jilly Cooper and Miranda Hart.
Published by Mereo. Available from Amazon.com; Barnes and Nobel; Waterstones; WH Smiths and Google Books (Also available as an ebook)
From being placed in unconventional childcare to rubbing shoulders with superstars, Delia’s life story is captivating. Including achingly funny accounts of her early career and dashing suitors, the laughter is balanced by descriptions of life in war-torn Cyprus and being forced into making the agonizing choice between her husband and her family.
“For the first five years of my life I was brought up by someone my mother happened to meet on the beach. ‘I’m going back to Nigeria next week to re-join my husband,’ she mentioned to this woman, ‘but I’ve got a baby of six months and I don’t know what to do with her…”
Delia Despair, as she is now known to her many blog fans, survived a turbulent if privileged childhood as the daughter of a globetrotting diplomat and was blessed (or cursed) with a confusion of mummies and a string of convents and smart schools before attending a Swiss business school (pursued by suitors of several nationalities) and managing to become an extremely junior journalist on the Daily Telegraph. After that came a nightmare experience with a tyrannical millionairess boss, followed by encounters with terrorists in Cyprus and finally, a loving marriage to a man dismissed by her parents as beneath her. Including fascinating meetings with luminaries such as Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward, John Gielgud and Fanny Cradock, The Grown-Ups Wouldn’t Like It is compelling, funny and moving in equal measure.
“Working as a governess in Jamaica was not funny at all, due to the extraordinary character of my employer. Even meeting Noel Coward did not compensate.”
About the author: Delia Despair
A former ground stewardess, governess, receptionist, library assistant and archivist to nobility and journalist with the Daily Telegraph, Delia is also the author of How to Get on with the Boss. She lives in Hove, East Sussex. Delia’s blog can be found at: www.despairingdelia.com
“When I wrote and told my parents all about everything – well not quite everything – I received a great long lecture from my father. “I’m not sure I like the sound of all these long walks you are taking, nor do I like to think of you going into the bedrooms of young men,” he wrote. “Young men are very hot-blooded and one thing can lead to another.” If only they would, I thought. I was longing to be seduced either by Bertil or by Ion, I didn’t really mind which…”
Posted by Vicky Edwards at 12:50pm
27th November 2014
Author Catherine Gilling was born in Strood, Kent. A draughtswoman, interior designer and technical assistant and by trade, a keen interest in history, travel and creative writing inspired her to write her debut novel Thistledown.
Now retired, Catherine tells the Spirit FM book club how she came to write Thistledown.
Q: Where did the idea for Thistledown originate?
A: Thistledown must have originated from and been influenced by the many years on holiday in Scotland, exploring the castles and varied countryside. I loved the place and had to find out more about its history, since it was not covered by our school curriculum in England. I always had a thirst for knowledge and love history and geography. James IV was my favourite king, full of character and his own foibles and since I knew many of the locations, it fitted as a background to the story. It started, like most of my stories, with a few disconnected scenes, without a definite plot and then it seemed to develop itself.
Q: How did you come up with the hero and the resulting action?
A: Pure imagination. Mind you, I have changed and re-written the story several times, to make it plausible and accurate for the period. A stickler for detail, I did double check dates and information on the website and in my history books. My next book Corrina, also originated from a place I visited. Having stayed in Gmunden, Austria, it became the beginning of the story.
Q: What other inspirations help you to write?
A: Ideas just pop into my head. I might see something, like a brooch, a piece of broken china and string, which gives me an idea. I have to carry a small notebook most of the time to jot down things. Unfortunately I have a grass hopper mind, which jumps from one topic to another and one story to another. I have a drawer full of ideas and half written sorties, some from as far back as my early teens. Some are historical, others modern. Some long and some shorter.
Q: What is your writing routine?
A: It’s difficult to analyse – certainly not every day, and not in a writing group. I suppose I started in fits and starts, with maybe a whole afternoon or evening as I try to get down all my thoughts on the topic. Now I am recently retired from various committees I do devote more time to the writing. Once I am into a story I don’t stop; every spare moment is spent building the characters and situations. It takes over.
Q: What was the motivation to try to have your work published?
A: I am a very practical person but with a great imagination. I enjoy the writing process and telling a story but, while it might sound silly, I am not looking for fame or a best seller; I just want people to like the story. It was only after some friends said that they liked my stories that I decided to concentrate on getting some published.
The Spirit FM bookworm says:
A superb summer read for fans of historical fiction, at the heart of the action is François, who has itchy feet.
It is early in the 16th century and, headstrong and determined to see the world, the young Frenchman leaves home and family to journey to Scotland. Brave, bold and refusing to be deterred, François finds himself in terrible danger. Imprisoned, he finally realises why his arrival in Scotland has attracted so much attention. It seems he bears an uncanny resemblance to someone of great importance and he is destined to play a part in history...
A well-researched historical novel with a plot that grabs you from the outset – and that is based on real events – Thistledown is a fascinating page-turner.
THISTLEDOWN - He sought adventure, and found more than he had bargained for… by Catherine Gilling and published by Mereo, the book is available from www.amazon.co.uk and from all good bookshops
Posted by Vicky Edwards at 11:13am
13th October 2014
A ‘spirited’ new series for young readers
Spirit and the Magic Horsebox
By Laura Quigley
Published by Forelock Books www.forelock-books.co.uk
Kick-starting a brand new series for horse mad children, local publisher Forelock, the brainchild of Michelle Charman, aims to delight children with ‘marvellous stories written by great storytellers and to package them in a format that young readers will treasure for a lifetime.’ If Spirit and the Magic Horsebox is anything to go by then Michelle is as good as her word.
Bored with her new life in the country Megan along with Josh, the farmer’s boy next door, start exploring in search of something – anything – to liven up a dull day. Straying into an old barn they get an awful lot more than they had bargained for, finding themselves mysteriously transported back in time and getting tangled up with highwaymen and even King Arthur.
Thrilling, gripping and inventive, our 10-year-old critic’s verdict was resoundingly enthusiastic: “I loved it – it was so exciting! I felt like I was right in the story with Megan and Josh and I can’t wait for book 2.”
By Lisa Cutts
Published by Myriad Editions www.myriadeditions.com
Nothing is more irritating to readers than glaring errors and holes in realism. No such gripe, however, is likely to be had in the second book featuring DC Nina Foster. Author Lisa Cutts has plenty of insight into the world of she writes about thanks to her former life as a copper and a degree in Applied Criminal Investigation.
But as well as being utterly authentic, Ms Cutts can’t half weave a good edge-of-the-seat tale. Remember Remember sees Nina back at work following an injury that she was lucky to recover from. But efforts to take things easy and to keep a low profile are futile once she gets a lead to vital new evidence in a highly complex and dangerous case…
A clever, pitch perfect and riveting story, being a gifted writer combined with extensive first-hand knowledge of her subject puts Lisa Cutts up there with the best and most established crime writers.
By Hannah Vincent
Published by Myriad Editions www.myriadeditions.com
The desire to belong is the theme of playwright Hanna Vincent’s stunning debut novel. Following their mother’s death 11-year-old Indigo and her big brother Robin find themselves uprooted from their modest home in England and transported to an altogether more lavish life with their father in South Africa. Unsure about the new and alien landscape she finds herself in and finding the family’s silence surrounding her mother’s death unfathomable; Indigo is not only bereft, but bewildered.
Perfectly evoking the South African setting and written with such emotional intelligence that the characters are entirely real, Alarm Girl is a gem of a book. Beautiful, moving and achingly human.
Posted by Vicky Edwards at 4:37pm