Interview with Sue Tingey, Author of the Soulseer Chronicles

After having reviewed the Soulseer Chronicles trilogy (if you missed them, the links for the reviews are Marked https://wp.me/p1UhOl-1Tt , Cursed https://wp.me/p1UhOl-1TB , and Bound https://wp.me/p1UhOl-1TE), I thought it would be great to finish things off with an interview. Luckily for us, Sue had a day free and came over.

Before we start, let’s just have a reminder of those great covers:

Okay, now here’s the interview:

Hello Sue, and welcome to chez-moi. It’s great to have you here.

Thank you Carlie, it was lovely of you to invite me.

Now you’ve got a coffee, shall we make a start?

Fire away!

This first question is one that I know always interests readers. Where did the idea for the Soulseer Chronicles come from?

This is, I’m afraid, a rather long story! I have always been interested in the supernatural, messages from beyond the grave, ghostly experiences and psychic phenomena, but I’d never attempted to write a ghost story. That was until one morning I saw a piece on breakfast TV about a chap who exposed fake psychics. This gave me the first germ of an idea of perhaps writing something about a woman who was not only a ghost hunter but also exposed fraudsters trying to con the bereaved out of money.

And this was what the novel that eventually became Marked was supposed to be about; a couple of psychic investigators. The main protagonist Lucky de Salle was to be a true psychic who really could see the dead. Of course her gift, or some might say curse, has left her alone and considered a weird freak by her peers with her only real friend being a ghost – until she meets Jamie; a fellow damaged soul. He too can see the dead following a tragic and terrifying event when he lost the young woman he loved. From this point the story was to be about Lucky helping Jamie to come to terms with his own psychic abilities and their adventures as they tracked down and exposed frauds and investigated supernatural occurrences.

That was the novel I was supposed to write, but I had barely managed to get the first thousand or so words typed out when I had a seriously scary nightmare, and when I say scary I mean screaming in my sleep and waking my husband up scary.

In my dream it was dark and I was walking towards the narrow passageway that led to the front of the house where I had lived as a child. Out of the shadows a man dressed like an eighteenth century fop appeared and came walking towards me. He didn’t actually say or do anything that was in the least bit frightening, he didn’t have to, he exuded menace and I just knew if he got close enough he was going to do something terrible to me. Then he smiled showing incredibly white, pointed teeth. In my dream I tried to turn and run, but as is often the way in nightmares I couldn’t move and I think that was probably when the screaming that woke my poor husband started. The next day I wrote probably one of the most important scenes in the book using the man from my nightmare and the character of Henri le Dent, assassin to the daemon court of Lord Baltheza, was born and suddenly my ghost hunter story had become something entirely different.

At first I wasn’t at all sure where it was going, but then as the words poured out it went in a direction neither I nor my poor heroine were expecting. Suddenly Lucky’s world was turned upside down, everyone was lying to her; including Jamie and her best friend Kayla, and everyone wanted something from her, but she had no idea what.

Poor Lucky; she wasn’t having much fun. But guess what? I was having a thoroughly brilliant time. I was getting to create a whole new daemon world, with Guardians, Deathbringers and drakons; a world with two suns and two moons; with scarlet trees and rust coloured grass and home to a violent and cruel court ruled by an equally cruel tyrant.

Yep, I was having a great time and I guess you could say that my nightmare changed my life. If I hadn’t dreamed of a an eighteenth century dandy straight out of A Tale of Two Cities I would never have created the character Henri le Dent, Lucky de Salle would never have visited the Underlands, I wouldn’t have written the novel that became Marked and I would probably still be struggling to get published.

What a great story. It just goes to show that we can get inspiration from so many different things. And I know what you mean about a story idea dramatically changing – it happened to me when I wrote Heart Search: Lost.

Next one. Do you have a favourite character from the trilogy? If so, who is it and why?

That is a difficult one. I love all my characters. My favourites are Pyrites, the drakon, and Kerfuffle and Shenanigans and obviously Lucky herself, but I guess Jamie and Jinx are the ones I adore and if you really pushed me I’d have to say Jinx. I guess because although he is the bringer of death and destruction he’s probably the most vulnerable. He’s funny and witty, but it’s a cover to mask how deep he really is and how doing his job causes him immeasurable heartbreak.

I love Jinx too, especially when he’s being a bit naughty! And I’d love a drakon like Pyrites.

How did you get your book deal with Jo Fletcher Publishing?

I guess if you ask an aspiring author who has been persevering for some time what one of the best feelings in the world is, they would probably say getting any interest at all in one of their works. So when on 31st January 2014 I received an email headed up ‘Submission’ from Jo Fletcher Books, I hardened my heart for a ‘thanks, but no thanks’, and thought well, at least they replied.

It started off in the usual way ‘thanks for your submission. Sorry it’s taken so long’ and I thought here we go. Then to my complete and utter surprise, they asked to see the rest of the book. There was much punching of the air and later that evening the popping of corks. I had jumped the first hurdle – and I am a firm believer in celebrating life’s small victories.

Of course I was excited, but I tried not to get too much so. I had got this far and this was good, but I didn’t want to build up my hopes only to have them dashed. So when an email arrived about three weeks later headed up with my novel’s previous title I was ready for rejection. What I didn’t expect was to be asked if I’d like to come up to meet with the Jo Fletcher of Jo Fletcher Books and editor, Nicola Budd.

I got very excited then – publishers are busy people – they don’t ask you to meetings if they’re not at all interested. So I phoned up, made the appointment and popped another bottle of fizz. Then I got an email from Nicola saying ‘by the way if you can bring any material you might have for the rest of the trilogy or series we’d love to see it’. Trilogy? Series? Gulp!

What followed was ten days of frenzied activity where I wrote the first 8000 words of the second book and a mini synopsis of where I saw books two and three going. The period of ten days that I thought was going to be an unbearable wait now seemed far too short.

So on 3rd April 2014 I travelled up to London a complete bundle of nerves. I was met upstairs by Nicola and it didn’t take long for us to be chatting away about everything but the book. Then Jo arrived and we got down to business. Jo and Nicola had five pages of notes. It started with a paragraph telling me what they liked about my novel. Then four and a half pages of things that they didn’t exactly not like, but felt needed changing.

‘Okay,’ I said and at that point thought they’d say, ‘well, off you trot. Come back when you’ve made the changes and we’ll see what we can do.’ What Jo actually said was, ‘I’d like to offer you a three book deal’.

Oh blimey! A three book deal!!!! I think my mouth must have dropped right open and I’m actually surprised I didn’t fall off the chair.

What a wonderful surprise for you. Something like that is what every writer dreams of!

What are the chances of you writing another book in the Soulseer Chronicles, especially bearing in mind the news imparted in the last chapter of Bound?

As much as I’d like to write another chapter in Lucky’s story I think it’s very unlikely that even if I did it would get published. Being a debut author today is difficult. If no one knows the book is out it won’t get sales and if the people who do read it and like it don’t post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads it won’t get sales. Sadly, although Marked made back it’s advance so far the rest of the series haven’t. I did get good reviews for Marked including a starred review on the Booklist in the States. However, I haven’t given up all hope. Last time I saw Jo she said that you can never tell what will happen – a book can be a really slow burner and then suddenly start selling terribly well, so fingers crossed! Perhaps you’ll get me some new readers!

Actually, I think I already have judging by a couple of comments I’ve received. I really hope you will get some new readers as a result of my reviews. As you said — fingers crossed!

What sort of reaction have you had from other writers since Marked was first published?

Writers on the whole are a friendly lot and most want other authors to succeed; it’s not a competition. I’ve made some good author friends at the conferences. The JFB authors are lovely and very supportive. It’s a bit like one big happy family when we all get together.

I’ve found other authors to be really friendly and supportive too, especially at FantasyCon. That’s one of the reasons I love going there – I meet up with friends that I don’t see between conferences and make new ones too. There’s always someone who’s prepared to offer useful advice too.

So, carrying on, what’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you since Marked was published?

It must have been my launch party. Quercus had just merged with Hachette and my party was on the roof terrace overlooking the Thames. They used the location in the TV series based on JK Rowling’s Robert Galbraith books in one episode which featured – a book launch party!

That’s an unusual place for a launch party. It must have been amazing!

Yes, it was. Totally unforgettable!

I love the artwork on the three book covers. Did you have any input into the designs?

Not really. I was asked whether I liked them and when I made a comment on the colours used on the cover of Bound they did change it. To be honest I don’t think authors have much of a say, unless they’re a really big name, and to be fair publishers do know what works and what doesn’t. I guess if I had hated one we would have had a “discussion” – fortunately I was very pleased with them all.

That’s good. Now, I was told by one of my author friends that when he first got published, he lost some personal friends, which he found devastating as he never found out why (although he made a couple of guesses). Did anything like that happen to you?

That’s awful to hear. No, it didn’t. I know sometimes people can’t bear someone else to have success, but my friends were all thrilled for me. The way I see it, if a friend isn’t pleased by another friend’s success they’re not really a true friend.

I totally agree with you there.

So, let’s move on to a happier subject.  We first met at FantasyCon four or five-years ago. I know what it means to me, but what’s so special about FantasyCon for you?

I love FantasyCon. I went to my first one just for a day in 2011. I’d never been to a conference before, but at a seminar on writing I’d attended I met the lovely Stephen Jones and he said that authors really needed to network. I took him at his word. Believe it or not I am quite shy so in 2012 I volunteered to help out at FantasyCon – my reasoning being that talking to people would be a necessity, and found myself meeting up with Stephen again. I also met Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane as well as Allan Davis and Di Lewis. The following year Di and I manned Newbie Corner at World Fantasy Con in Brighton and that was lovely. I met loads of people. That was also where I had my first conversation with Jo Fletcher. I had already sent her my submission of Marked, but didn’t mention it as I didn’t think it was the time or the place. Little did I know that this first conversation would be one of many!

I never dreamed you were shy — you don’t come across that way. It just goes to show how one can overcome obstacles like that. It takes guts to do what you did. You should be proud of yourself!

I think sometimes you have to push yourself to go outside your comfort zone if you really want to ever succeed.

Yes, you’re right there. It’s something I need to do more of. Anyway, moving on…

I’ve found that the vast majority of fantasy authors prefer to read the same genre — is that also true of you? If so, do you remember which book or series got you hooked on fantasy?

I actually read lots of different genres. Lee Child, Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwall, Jonathan Kellerman, which are all mystery, crime or thrillers. I love JK Rowling’s Robert Galbraith novels. In fantasy my favourites are Stephen King and the late great James Herbert, who I got to meet, which was a thrill, he was such a charming man. I am currently reading Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, which is a great novel. The books that got me hooked on fantasy were the Narnian novels by CS Lewis and actually got me reading.

I must admit I haven’t read all the Narnia books yet, although I keep promising myself that I will, but my TBR (to be read) pile is so big already, I honestly don’t know when I would have time to fit them in.

Apart from me [chuckles], do you have a favourite author or was there one who inspired you to write?

When I met James Herbert I told him, “You are the gentleman who made me want to write horror”. I have a book signed by him wishing me luck in my writing. I bet you weren’t expecting to find out I’m a horror fan/writer.

Nope, definitely not!

So, what are you working on now, Sue? Can you give the readers a bit more than a vague hint?

I have two novels with my agent. Both are totally different from my first series. One is the first of a sword and sorcery series. The second is a supernatural, ghost/psychological novel. I won’t say horror, but it is very dark.

Ooo, both sound like something I’d want on my bookcase. You’ll have to let me know when they’re published, Sue.

I certainly will!

Now, there’s a huge amount of discussion between writers on the pros and cons of self-publishing. Is this something you would consider doing? If so, why? If not, why not?

This is a difficult one. Having been published by a publishing house I would say I have learned a lot I wouldn’t have otherwise and I would still be making really obvious rookie mistakes that no one ever tells you about until you’re edited. If you can’t get a publisher interested in your novel, but are getting positive feedback, and are convinced the only way to go is to self publish then – pay for a professional editor who knows what they’re doing. If you’re self publishing properly it is expensive and there is no way around that unless you know someone who is a professional editor and will do it for free or on the cheap and the same goes for the artwork for your cover. If you really want people to read your work you have to market it. This is very time consuming. I for one haven’t the time. I want to write I don’t want to have to be a salesperson and I know nothing about marketing.

That’s great advice, Sue, and something I always tell new authors who are looking to self-publish. I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to be a salesperson and marketer — it takes so much time out of your day and if you do it properly, there’s little to no time to write. Unless you can afford to pay someone to do the marketing for you, or you have a bunch of friends who will post about your books regularly on social media, you’re basically stuffed! You could split your day between the two, but then you’re only doing half a job on both. Or you ignore the marketing and stick to writing or vice versa. Personally, I’d rather write, but at the same time I want to keep in touch with my followers and I do this by writing my blog.

Precisely my point! I think it’s lovely that you make time for your followers.

Thank you. My followers are very important to me.

So, do you have any rituals before starting to write?

No. I wrote my series while I was still working full-time and I had an hour and a half after my husband left for work and me having to get ready and during that time I wrote. I didn’t have time for rituals. The only thing I would do, and still do, is to read the previous day’s work to get me back into the swing.

I wrote my first book while I was working full-time too!

Right, we’ve spent quite some time getting to know Sue Tingey, the author. Let’s find out a little about Sue Tingey, the woman. I’ll start with an easy one. What gets you up and running in the mornings — tea or coffee?

Coffee – no doubt.

I can’t stand coffee – I’m definitely a tea person!

Do you have any pets? If so, what and how many?

I have twenty-one Koi carp and four Shubunkins. I would dearly love another German Shepherd dog or a cat, but the jury is out on that possibility for the moment. We are shortly moving back to my family home in Torquay (the Koi have already moved) and once we’re settled I guess we’ll make a decision about a dog or cat.

What do you think you’d prefer to get?

We would love another GSD (German Shepherd dog) and I keep watching out on the GSD Elite Rescue page. There are so many beautiful dogs looking for homes and I’d really like to take one off their hands.

I think it’s great that you’d go for a rescue dog. So would I, if I could persuade my other half!

Next one. Do you have any children? If so, what and how many?

No. I’d be a terrible mother.

I doubt that very much. You’re such a warm-hearted, gentle, and caring person — I think you’d make a great mum

Aww, thank you, Carlie.

Carrying on so you can get your blushing under control [laughs]. What is your favourite tipple?

White wine.

Ah! I know what to get you at FantasyCon now! [chuckles]

What’s your favourite colour?

Purple.

What a coincidence – that’s mine too!

What star sign are you?

Aries.

Ah, the same as my daughter, and the sister sign to mine!

So, where’s the best place you’ve been on holiday, and why?

Costa Rica. It is such a beautiful country with amazing wildlife. Sloths, hummingbirds, macaws. The Costa Ricans are also totally committed to the environment and are (I think) the first country to be totally energy self-sufficient.

Wow! I’d heard it was beautiful there, but I didn’t know about Costa Rica being self-sufficient energy-wise.

What car do you drive?

Ah! We are a family of petrol heads. My everyday car is a Smart, not that I drive that much now I’m not having to drive to work. My high days and holidays car is a Ford Focus RS in Ultimate Green. Our main car is my husband’s Ford Tourneo, which is a people carrier and with the seats out is great for our trips back and forth to Torquay carrying all our furniture and books; there are so many books! Then we come to our real baby, which is a blue series 3 E-Type Jaguar. Special provision is being made for the E-Type and Focus for when we move to Torquay.

A complete change of direction here. Do you believe in the ‘spirit world’?

I am slightly conflicted. My sensible head says no, but my heart and experience says yes. Psychic abilities run in my mother’s side of the family and I’ve seen and experienced too many weird things not to believe, but I am very cynical about so-called psychics and I think I’m pretty good at spotting frauds.

Okay. Just for fun, who is your favourite cartoon character and why?

Scooby Do if we’re talking about TV cartoons. If we’re talking about comic books, I used to love Superman and Supergirl.

I was actually talking about TV cartoons — sorry, I should have been clearer. So why is Scooby Do your favourite?

I suppose because it’s so ridiculously funny and it’s always the butler who’s done it! I didn’t like the films so much even though I adored Sarah Michelle Geller in Buffy. What works as silly but funny in a cartoon somehow just becomes silly when real actors are involved.

Finally, [thank goodness for that, says Sue] if you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

If I could have a superpower I would like the power of mischief making. You know – magically making something mischievous happen to people when they’re getting too serious. Like the shows when they set up jokes on people, but I could just click my fingers and make it happen.

I sensed there was a mischievous side to you and you’ve just confirmed it! [chuckles]

Anyway, thank you for an interesting and fun interview, Sue. You’ve been a fabulous guest.

Not at all, and thank you again for inviting me over for this chat.

You’re very welcome. Now what cake did you want with your coffee?

Chocolate muffin please!

You’re my kind of woman!! [laughs]

Here’s a photo of Sue and a short bio.

Sue Tingey is the author of the fantasy romance series The Soulseer Chronicles and lives with her husband in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

She spent twenty-eight years working for a major bank and, after taking voluntary redundancy in 2001, spent another fourteen or so years working as a practice manager for an arboricultural consultancy. She has now given up the day job to allegedly spend more time with her husband; he however has noticed that an awful lot more writing appears to be going on.

Sue admits that storytelling is her obsession and was thrilled when she was offered a three book deal by Jo Fletcher Books in 2014.

You can learn more about Sue on her website www.suetingey.co.uk or contact on Twitter @SueTingey

For the buy links of the books, just click on the name:

Marked

Cursed

Bound

I really hope you’ve enjoyed the reviews and particularly this interview with the fabulous Sue Tingey. If you have any comments or questions for her, please leave them below and she’ll answer them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Bound by Sue Tingey

I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but I do have a good excuse. I moved house at the beginning of August, but only had a week to pack up my previous home. Prior to that, I was busy with contracts and making sure monies had been transferred. I think you get the drift.

Since moving in to my lovely new home, I’ve been surrounded by boxes, cases and bags, all of which I needed to find homes for. With the hours my fiance works, and the fact he’s recently started a new job, most of the unpacking was left to me. With my disability, it took a while as I’m sure you can imagine. However, I only have three boxes and one case left to go through, and the house looks like home.

I love it here. The house is lovely and it’s so quiet – a very conducive atmosphere for writing which I can now get back to. Anyway, that’s enough of the house stuff. Let’s get back to the review.

First, let’s take a look at the great cover:

Bound

Here’s the blurb:

Lucky de Salle was dragged into the Underlands against her will, but there she discovered a whole new world – and a whole new life. She always knew she was psychic, but discovering her ghostly best friend was in fact her daemon half-sister – and she herself is half-daemon – came as a shock. Falling in love with two men wasn’t in her plan either, but that’s working out brilliantly.

Or it was… until Jamie tries to use his powers to control her, and Lucky loses all trust in him. Then when Lucky’s enemies kidnap Jinx, intending to use his powers to destroy both human and daemon worlds, Jamie and his fellow Guardians are ordered to bring Jinx back – dead or alive.

If Lucky is to save him, and forgive Jamie, she must learn to use her own burgeoning powers – and fast!

How does that sound to you? Exciting eh? Well, here’s my review:

Bound, the third and final book in the Soulseer Chronicles, is a real page turner!

The plot is well devised and the pace is quite fast. The intrigue mounts, and each new and unexpected twist leaves you wondering what the heck is going to happen next. Sinister undertones weave through the book, adding to the reader’s captivation. The excitement ramps up throughout the novel and draws you in to such an extent that you really don’t want to stop reading.

For me, Lucky really shines in this third book. She learns to use her daemon powers to good effect and becomes a much stronger character as a result. She still has her vulnerable side though. Tingey writes Lucky’s emotions extremely well, making her even more three-dimensional than in the earlier books.

Lucky goes through a rollercoaster in Bound; as well as myriad emotions, she faces attempted kidnapping, being held prisoner, and a quest to save one of the men she loves. She finds out the hard way who she can trust, and receives support from unexpected sources. Lucky’s a great character who has you rooting for her through the entire novel.

Jinx goes to hell and back. He endures torture of the most brutal kind, suffers physical pain so extreme it would break lesser daemons, and emotional pain when he believes the woman he loves is dead. There’s a completely different side to him in this story which makes his character even more compelling.

The author has shaped Jinx so well that you reach the stage where you don’t really know how he’s going to react next. This, obviously, makes him especially intriguing and has you speculating about the end result. In my opinion, he’s a brilliantly drawn character.

Jamie is the character who I always felt was hiding something. He tells Lucky lies on a regular basis and always qualifies it by stating that he didn’t want to upset, worry, or hurt her. Some of the time, his excuses are accepted, but not until he’s plastered on the charm. Lucky is no longer the naïve girl he first met and she challenges him often. When she loses trust in him after he uses his powers to try and control her, you see a different side to him. However, he always maintains that he loves her, no matter what he does or says.

Although he shows his true self in this book, which not only makes you distrust him but dislike him too, you still see the sweet and caring side to him. This makes him something of an enigma and you’re unsure about the motives of his every action. In some ways, I found him one of the most interesting characters, and applaud Sue for the excellent portrayal.

Other characters really step up in this book; some you like/love, while others you love to hate. Each individual has their own distinct personality and voice, making them all the more interesting. Their parts in the novel are essential to the story and plot – Bound wouldn’t be as compelling without them.

One, whose part is significantly larger in this book, is Amaliel Cheriour.  He is deliciously evil, yet deluded. You could even say he’s completely bonkers!  His affection to afflict pain, brutalising his chosen subjects, comes to the fore in Bound. Why he’s like that is thought-provoking. There are a couple of twists concerning this character that you just don’t see coming, and they greatly enhance the storyline. He is extremely well-written.

Sue Tingey has a real gift for crafting characters, that’s for sure!

As with the previous books in this trilogy, the amount of description used is spot-on for my taste. The author presents enough to let your imagination picture the scene, and flesh it out if you so choose. This is an art in its own right. Some writers offer way too much description (Tolkien was one such author), whilst others don’t provide enough. How can you suspend disbelief if you are unable to immerse yourself in the world the story is based in? Personally, I love Tingey’s descriptive style. I can dive straight into her world(s) and happily stay there for hours.

In conclusion, I feel Bound finishes the trilogy perfectly. It’s exciting, compelling, sexy, and I couldn’t put it down. In fact, I enjoyed this trilogy so much, I’ve read it twice! This is a five-star read all the way, so if you haven’t got these three books yet, what the heck are you waiting for? Go get them — NOW!!!

Here is the Buy-Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bound-Soulseer-Chronicles-Book-3/

My congratulations to Sue Tingey for writing such a fantastic trilogy!

In case you’ve missed my previous reviews of Sue Tingey’s books, learn a little more about her here:

Sue Tingey pic

Sue Tingey is the author of the fantasy romance series The Soulseer Chronicles and lives with her husband in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

She spent twenty-eight years working for a major bank and, after taking voluntary redundancy in 2001, spent another fourteen or so years working as a practice manager for an arboricultural consultancy. She has now given up the day job to allegedly spend more time with her husband; he however has noticed that an awful lot more writing appears to be going on.

Sue admits that storytelling is her obsession and was thrilled when she was offered a three book deal by Jo Fletcher Books in 2014.

You can learn more about Sue on her website www.suetingey.co.uk or contact on Twitter @SueTingey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal – The Prince’s Man

When I saw the blurb for this book, I knew I had to put it on my TBR list. I’m honoured to be able to share the cover reveal for this exciting new book by author, Deborah Jay.

So, drumroll please . . .

PM-EBOOK_FLAT

Cool, isn’t it?!

Here’s the blurb – fantasy lovers take note:

Award winning novel, THE PRINCE’S MAN, has been described as ‘James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’ – a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, inter-species mistrust and magic phobia, with an underlying thread of romance.

Rustam Chalice, hedonist, dance tutor and spy, loves his life, never better than when he’s bedding a gorgeous woman.

So when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. Only trouble is, the spy master, Prince Hal, teams him up with an untouchable aristocratic assassin who despises him.

And to make matters worse, she’s the most beautiful woman in the Five Kingdoms.

Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god – and each other.

They must also keep alive a sickly elf they need as a political pawn. But when the elf reveals that Rustam has magic of his own, he is forced to question his identity, his sanity and worst, his loyalty to his prince.

For in Tyr-en, all magic users are put to death.

This sounds amazing, doesn’t it?! I have a feeling Deborah is going to be an author to watch. Let me share a bit about her . . .

debby

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.

THE PRINCE’S MAN, her debut novel, first in a trilogy and winner of a UK Arts Board award will be published on 29th July 2013. She also has non-fiction equestrian titles published under the name Debby Lush.

Find out more about Deborah at www.deborahjay.wordpress.com or follow Deborah on Twitter https://twitter.com/DeborahJay2 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay

So put this date (29th July) in your diary, folks and be one of the first to get your hands on this debut novel.

 

Seven Cans Short of a Six-Pack?

A writer’s life can be quite strange in some ways. That’s not to say we’re strange people (well maybe a few are, but on the whole…), but strange things happen to us. Let me explain.

I can only tell you how it is from my perspective, but some of my author friends have voiced the same things so I know I’m not alone here.

When I’m working on Heart Search: Found (book 2 in the trilogy), I’m totally focused on it to the extent I sometimes forget to eat lunch (like yesterday). I’m totally engrossed in the story I’m creating, the interaction between the characters, building the next twist, where I’m taking it next, but at the same time the story seems to write itself. I start writing a chapter knowing what I’ve got planned for it and suddenly I find I’ve thrown a curve ball into the mix and something I’ve not planned for takes shape on the pages. It happened when I was writing Heart Search:Lost (book 1) as well.

In some ways it’s like the books actually write themselves and I’m just the channel to put the words on the screen. I believe my Muse has something to do with it. Many writers believe they have a Muse who helps and guides them on their writing journey – I know I have, and can describe her, tell you her name and a little of her history! But anyway, I digress.

It’s when I’m away from Heart Search that things get strange. On the rare occasions these days when I leave the house, I watch people more closely than before, scrutinising their expressions, mannerisms and listening to the inflections in their voices when they speak (that’s probably one for another post), basically anything I can use to help bring my characters to life. Those of you who have been following my blog for some time know my feelings on this matter, but for those of you who have just found me, check out the archives and you’ll see how much emphasis I place on making characters real so readers can relate to them.

The other things I suffer from are random characters running around in my head begging me to tell their stories. They have nothing to do with my current project and yet they make themselves known to me. They give me just enough to pique my interest and if I’m able, I jot down some notes for future reference. I just never know when one or more of these characters will make it into one of my stories.

In addition, I get new story ideas floating around and they can appear at the most random places and times. The weirdest things can set this off; an overheard conversation, a painting in a shop window, a building, a person, or just walking (or in my case hobbling) or driving somewhere and letting my mind wander.

If I write all the story ideas running around my head which I’ve made note of, I’m going to be writing about 30 books and that’s just what I’ve got at the moment!

I love how inspiration for a story can appear ‘out of nowhere’ – it’s strange when it happens, but it’s what we writers live for, to get that spark to start the next book or a new twist for one we’re working on. It’s our form of sustenance and without it, we can’t create the stories to entertain you.

So the next time you’re walking down the street and you see someone grab a small notebook and start frantically scribbling or they have a slightly glazed look in their eyes, don’t write them off as someone who’s seven cans short of a six-pack, they’re probably authors getting inspiration for what could well be the next best seller!

Voyage of Discovery

A couple of months ago, I was honoured to be asked to write a guest post for my dear friend, Alison DeLuca. When I asked her what I should write about, she suggested I write about how I felt when I finished my novel, Heart Search. So I did and now I’d like to share it with you.

I have made a real voyage of discovery. It took me nine months, three hundred and twenty nine pages, one hundred and fifty thousand four hundred and forty one words and at the end of it was my first completed novel!

“Heart Search : Lost”, the first book in the “Heart Search” trilogy was nothing short of a labour of love. It was my first real attempt at a full-length novel and like a lot of writers starting out, I really wasn’t sure I had the ability/imagination/skill to write more than short stories. In addition, I had doubts that anything I wrote would be worth another person’s time and effort to read.

I’d had the idea for the novel (it was only going to be one at the start) buzzing around in my head for a couple of months before I committed to trying to write anything. The more I thought about the possible plots, the more the characters began to grow in my mind and in my heart. I knew I had to tell their tale – it was too important to them not to – and so I began creating it in September 2010.

After planning my characters and story synopsis, I plotted the first twelve chapters and began the story. As I started tapping away on my keyboard, something strange happened – the story took on a life all its own. It was like I was a channel for the words that just appeared as if from nowhere. The chapter plot went out the window and I had no option but to just flow with the current. The story took me in directions I hadn’t considered and it all seemed to work, even though I had two stories running parallel to each other; one written in first person, the other in third.

My daughter kept nicking my laptop every time I put it down,  reading what I’d written then pestering me endlessly to write the next bit. She was hooked and it was then I realised that maybe I was good at this and other people might like it too.

As the story progressed, I was surprised to find how connected I became to my two main characters, how inextricably linked we were and I shared their emotions; when they laughed, I laughed, when they cried, I cried too. They were part of me. So, when I had to take a three-month break to move house, Remy and Joshua (my two protagonists) were screaming at me on a daily basis to get back to writing. When I did, there was no stopping me and at precisely 1.40am on Tuesday 26th October 2011, I finished typing the final sentence.

I sat there, stunned. I had done it – I’d completed my first novel! Then the euphoria hit. I punched the air and shouted “YES!!!” waking my daughter in the process (oops). I had a smile that wouldn’t quit for days afterwards and I felt like I was walking on fluffy white clouds. It was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment and, dammit, I was proud of myself! I was so hyped that night, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep for ages, but apart from posting my glorious news on Twitter and Facebook, I honestly can’t remember what else I did. Even though this was nearly four months ago and I’ve competed in NaNoWriMo since then (and won), the electric tingly buzz of pure joy hasn’t left me. The only time in my life I’ve ever felt joy of a similar magnitude, was the day I gave birth to my wonderful daughter!

I’m so happy and proud of my achievement, I would like to share an excerpt from “Heart Search : Lost” with you. I hope you like it.

“His hiding place was perfect; darkness surrounded and comforted him and he became one with it. He had chosen well. The ancient ruins were totally hidden by overgrown shrubs and trees. From this place, he could venture out before dusk, completely obscured by the dense canopy of the ancient trees; the sun struggled to break through even at midday.

He was close, closer than ever before, so close that the flavour of the human’s essence coated his sensitive tongue. The one sought was nearby – he could sense him. He had searched for a very long time to find someone this special. Sure he’d found talent along the way, but this one, this human was something else entirely.

The excitement was building inside like a volcano preparing to erupt. His tongue ran over his teeth; venom pooled in his mouth and he savoured the flavour. There would be a new flavour to add to it soon. Very soon.

 

He first detected the scent two days ago. Unfortunately, an opportunity had not presented itself and he had become frustrated to the point of anger as strategy after strategy was thwarted by the most stupid and pointless of reasons. He was tenacious when there was something he desired and right now there was nothing he desired more than this human. There was a plentiful supply around to quench his thirst – that was not his aim.

His reverie was interrupted – a familiar scent wafted on the air that permeated the shelter. It was the human – the one he sought – and so near, too near to be allowed to escape again. Once more venom collected in his mouth.

He moved swiftly through the darkness with perfect vision towards the exit hidden amongst the foliage. The closer he got to the outside, the stronger the scent, and the more eager he became.

It was time.”

I’ve been through the long process of revising and editing and to be honest I wasn’t fazed by it at all. I know that my manuscript has become stronger, more polished and I have given my characters even more depth. My novel is now in the hands of a beta reader; she is senior editor at a publishing company in the USA so I really trust her judgement (she has told me already that she loves the story, so that’s a real boost to my confidence!). I can’t wait to get her critique to see how I can improve it even further and to find out if she takes to my two main characters. After all, if it wasn’t for Remy and Joshua taking up residence in my head and heart, this story might not have been written at all.

I’d love to read your comments on the excerpt of Heart Search and my Voyage of Discovery, so please tell me what you think!