Monday, 22 September 2014

Blog Hop Character Interview: today, Lucas Saintclair!

Thank you very much  Edward Hoornaert, fellow MuseitUp author, for tagging me in the Meet my Character Blog Hop. You can find Edward on

I am today interviewing Lucas Saintclair, the hero of my historical romance THE LION'S EMBRACE. Saintclair is taking a well-deserved rest at The Seventh Star, a tavern on the Algiers docks, after returning from yet another secret mission in the Sahara. Arms crossed on his chest, his long legs stretched out in front of him, he is reclining against the back of his chair, seemingly lost in thoughts. But as I come nearer, I can see that his piercing blue eyes never cease to scan the dark, crowded and stuffy room. As always he is on the alert for spies his enemy - Lieutenant Mortemer, from the French army - regularly sends to trap and kill him.

I hope he'll be willing to answer a few questions for the 'Meet my characters' blog hop. From what I know of the man, his answers will be brief and to the point.

Lucas, are you a fictional or a historic character?
Fictional, entirely.

When and where is the story of THE LION'S EMBRACE set?
It is set  mostly in North Africa. I grew up in Bou Saada - an oasis on the edge of the Sahara desert. This is where I learnt to become a scout -  the best in the Barbary States. I left Bou Saada five years ago. I don't know if I'll ever return. Something happened there back in 1840, something I can't forgive myself for...  
What should we know about you?
Believe me, the less you know, the better. For you, and for me.

I take a deep breath and wonder if he'll answer my next question.

What messes up your life at the moment?

He doesn't answer straight away but leans across the table and lights up a cheroot to the flame of a candle. He draws on his cigar, smiles a thin smile, and answers.

A woman, who else? A young, naive and irritating English woman called Harriet Montague who insists on hiring my services to lead her and her pompous fiancé to Tamanrasset where her archaeologist father was abducted by Tuaregs. I tried to tell her she won't last three days - let alone the three months we need to reach the Southern Sahara. She won't listen but offered me a small fortune, as well as a treasure map to take what's a man to do?

He smiles another cynical smile and carries on.

I'll take her, of course. Or at least, I'll take her part of the way and do everything in my power to discourage her from travelling further...Then she'll beg me to send her back to Algiers, and I'll get to keep the money and the treasure map.

Poor Harriet Montague. I hope she makes it to Tamanrasset.

One last question, I ask him. Would you mind telling me what your personal goal is?

He draws on his cigar and his face disappears behind a cloud of smoke. He's taking so long to reply I'm not sure he heard me.
Revenge, he says at last, his voice hard.

I hold my breath. Saintclair isn't a man I'd like to cross. I can see he won't say anymore, so I'll leave him alone...

THE LION'S EMBRACE is published by MuseitUp Publishing. You can find it at

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Laura James is on the blog with Follow Me, Follow You!

I am so happy to welcome Laura James on the blog today. Laura's new novel FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW YOU is published by Choc Lit and was released on September 7th. Laura is on tour and has kindly stopped by today. Laura will be giving away a copy of her book, so please leave a comment at the bottom of the post and click on the Rafflecopter code link!

Laura is married and has two children. She lives in Dorset, but spent her formative years in Watford, a brief train ride away from the bright lights of London. Here she indulged her love of live music, and, following a spectacular Stevie Nicks gig, decided to take up singing, a passion that scored her second place in a national competition.

Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, and an editor of the popular Romaniacs blog.

Laura was runner-up twice in the Choc Lit Short Story competitions. Her story Bitter Sweet appears in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Anthology. Truth or Dare?, Laura’s debut novel, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Romantic eBook 2013 and the 2014 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award. Follow me, follow you is Laura’s first Choc Lit novel published in paperback.

Hello Laura and a very warm welcome. The release of FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW YOU must be an exciting time for you. What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write? 
I wanted to be a child psychologist, but sadly my maths skills were lacking. In later years, I attended a counselling skills course and trained as a youth worker.

I’ve written ever since I can remember – comics, poems, daft limericks, song lyrics ‒ my A Level essays would be considered novellas these days …

I was the same when I was growing up, always writing short stories, poetry (bad poetry I hasten to say) and was - and still is - rubbish at maths! What is the one thing you absolutely need to write?
Thinking time, followed by the chance to talk it out.

It can be hard to find thinking space but, like you, I find it a necessity. Silence too, but I don't often get any. Can you describe your writing space?
I work in the kitchen. My desk is in the corner, facing a wall, adorned with a beautiful framed Rosina Wachtmeister print of a gondola, and I believe the Rialto Bridge, in Venice. A much better use of the space than, oh, I don’t know, say cooking …

Lovely! The print must be very inspiring - not to mention the proximity of the biscuit tin (I am speaking for myself here!)

In three words, can you tell us what kind of man Chris Frampton, your hero, is?
Adventurous, impulsive, dedicated.

That sounds like a great combination. What about your heroine -Victoria Noble?
Focused, conscientious, caring.

Victoria is such a lovely name... What is your favourite part / line / dialogue in your novel?
Not quite a kiss, but a collision of colossal proportion.’

That's a great line! What was the most difficult part to write in your novel?
I struggled with the opening page. I wanted to introduce the reader to a flawed heroine, who has a strained relationship with her young son. It took many re-workings and plenty of great advice from fellow writers before I was happy with Victoria.

Many thanks for inviting me here, Marie.
You are very welcome Laura. It was a pleasure to find out more about you and FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW YOU. I wish you the very best of luck with the release of the novel.

Here is the blurb

You save me and I'll save you...
Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance.
Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria's first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he's desperate to escape.
But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria is as strong as when he was nineteen, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on?
With the risk of them breaking, will either follow their heart?

And now for an excerpt:
Victoria was attempting to create the impression she was engrossed in her work. From the moment Dan collected Seth, she’d buried her head in buff-coloured files, raising it once to study her monitor. At that moment, she realised Juliette was watching her.
‘I’m all right, Joo, honestly.’ That was a lie. She was preoccupied with thoughts of Chris Frampton returning home, considering ways to stop EweSpeak’s Board of Directors from travelling a destructive path, and despairing over her non-existent relationship with her son. She grimaced. ‘Apart from the blinding headache.’
She thrust herself away from the desk and rubbed the back of her neck. Her life was too cluttered for her to make informed decisions, and too many demands were being made of her, emotionally and physically. Something had to give. ‘I could do without this stupid business with the board.’
‘Do you think they’ll go ahead?’
Victoria huffed. ‘Of course they will. They’re motivated by money. They’ll do whatever it takes to keep their bank accounts full and their fat backsides comfortable.’
‘But they have a duty of loyalty, and their report states the move will secure the future of EweSpeak—’
‘It only secures their position, Juliette. Let’s face facts. We made bad choices, electing certain members to the board. We were blinded by their past successes. They’re cut-throat businessmen with reputations to uphold.’ Victoria swung her chair round and gaped at her sister. ‘I’ll bet a year’s salary there’ll be redundancies.’
‘But if charging clients to join will increase profits—’ 
Victoria cut her off again. ‘Did you miss the bit where they proposed paying celebrities for exclusive bleats? It’s ridiculous. It won’t work. People will opt out. Our followers enjoy the personal contact, the chance to hold a discussion with like-minded souls, maybe even exchange a bleat with their idol. If it’s sensationalism they want, they’ll buy a glossy magazine, or worse, they’ll flock to our competitors. They won’t subscribe to our network.’ She shook her head. ‘It has disaster written all over it.’
‘I don’t see it. The board’s acting in the company’s best interest. We have to make money. And it’s not just their pockets they’re lining, is it?’ Juliette waved a hand in the direction of the window. ‘I don’t hear you complaining about the flashy, two-seater sports car you’ve parked in our private garage.’
Victoria reached for the remote on her desk, and switched on the TV. ‘I need a break.’ She stood, gave her arms a stretch, and walked across to the sofa, collapsing into it, irascible and frustrated. Surely Juliette wasn’t voting with the board? Victoria cast her eyes to the large screen, scoured through the programme guide, and settled on a news channel.
It was a mistake.
Wherever her eyes fell – the TV, online, mobile applications – Chris’s then thirty-five-year-old haunted face appeared, vacant, pale and broken. There was no escape from the dated footage of him being jostled out of the way of bloodthirsty, aggressive photographers or being hustled into his ranch house by burly security men. Victoria had seen the images thirty, maybe forty times in the last couple of years. Every piece of technology in her office was broadcasting his grief all over again, and each time his name was typed, bleated, or beamed across the Internet, and for every second his tormented features were on public display, Victoria was on trial. Her technology, the company, the brand she had developed and grown was helping prolong his terror. To see this beautiful man reduced to a floorshow for the cheap seats made her sick to the stomach.
She jumped at a touch to her arm.
‘Are you okay?’ Juliette took the remote from Victoria, switched off the TV, and sat down. ‘I’m sorry I called him your obsession. This must be hard for you.’
Victoria shrugged. Although she understood Juliette’s concern, she didn’t appreciate intrusion, and sharing, as her sister called it, was not Victoria’s way. There’d been far too much of that already. A small shudder ran through her. ‘It’s complicated,’ she said, hoping a few words, regardless of content, would appease Juliette.

You can find Laura at:

Book Trailer

The Giveaway on this tour will be a paperback copy of the book.

RAFFLECOPTER CODE rafl/display/4be030176/

Saturday, 6 September 2014

When inspiration strikes!

I always seem to have lots of ideas for plots and characters swirling in my head, but with a full-time job and an inability to write two different stories simultaneously, it often feels more like a curse than a blessing.

I often find that inspiration for a new story strikes when I least expect it, for example when I'm driving and I see an unusual name on a road sign or a map - a name which is almost a story in itself, or when I am sitting in a café or a restaurant and overhear a few words of people's conversation, or even just when I'm having a walk alone around the reservoir near where I live...In the past I have also found ideas in poems and songs, in a piece of classical music or a painting, in a dream even!

Places are a great source of inspiration too, but it's not always the obvious that can be inspiring. I recently visited Bordeaux in the South West of France. It's a beautiful town, with quaint old buildings, narrow cobbled streets and tiny squares with picturesque cafés.

I loved walking along the river Garonne between the town's new bridge and its old 'Pont de Pierre' - Bordeaux' famous stone bridge.
Moored between the massive river cruise ships full of tourists was a small, decrepit, abandoned boat with a very unusual figurehead.

I knew straight away I had found something very special but I didn't quite know what exactly until tonight when I was chatting about Bordeaux with my daughter. She said something about that poor old boat, left to rust along the quays. We started talking about who it could belong to, why it was empty...and suddenly an almost fully formed plot and cast of characters emerged in my mind. I hurried to jolt everything down, and a few minutes later, I even had the opening sentences of the novel and the title too!

Now I am so excited I can't wait to get started on this new story - it's just like going on a new adventure. I do however have another romance novel to finish first.

What about you?

How do you get your inspiration for a story, and what was the most unusual way you found ideas for a novel? I'd love to hear from you.