I've set up this blog so that all my friends, relations and colleagues in the world of writing can keep up to speed with what I'm doing - from now on, I'll never have to say sorry for not keeping in touch.

Or anyway, that's the plan.

So do please link up with me on Facebook and Twitter - https://www.facebook.com/margaret.james.5268 and https://twitter.com/majanovelist

You can find my novels as digital downloads on Apple iTunes, Kobo, Kindle and Nook, and most are available as print paperbacks, too.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Jo Lambert talks about villains - in her fiction, obviously!

I'm delighted to welcome the novelist Jo Lambert to my blog today. 

It's good to meet you, Jo. I see you live near Bath - lucky you, I love Bath - and are the author of several previous novels, but that you are now signed to the multi-award-winning independent publisher Choc Lit under its new imprint Ruby Fiction. So you enjoy writing about villains, do you?

As I write this post in flaming (ahem) June, it's not very summery here in Devon. But Jo's new novel A Cornish Affair - set (of course) in Cornwall - is a brilliant antidote to the grey skies and gloomy vistas on view from my office window. Look at that cover - isn't it beautiful?

The story introduces us to the close-knit community of Carrenporth, to which Luke Carrack returns after two years of absence, only to be cold-shouldered by people who know about his past - or think they know. The only person who seems to warm to Luke is a hotelier's daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even this blossoming friendship turns out to be a focus for gossip. But Luke's return also heralds the unearthing of scandals and secrets which shake this little town to its core.

So what is it about villains, Jo? Why do they engage us so much? 

'Drama is at the core of my writing, and what better way introduce it into a story than by creating a villain?' says Jo. 'My heroes are fairly straightforward. They’re decent guys, sometimes misunderstood, sometimes with a painful past, but I’m not letting them simply wander through 300 pages without having to work for their happy endings.

'Enter the villains. Just like their pantomime counterparts, the villains are there to be disliked, hated even, for their manipulative and deceitful ways. They create havoc in the lives of the main protagonists, usually because of some selfish need or plan of their own which they want put in place.  They are controllers of the first order. And most of mine have been women.  Mel the social climbing mother, Marcie the ex-lover, Thérèse a hard-hearted stepmother, and Lily, a girl with absolutely no moral scruples. There’s a saying that the female of the species is deadlier than the male. It’s something I tend to agree with; women are definitely more devious than men … and more subtle in the way they operate. At least the ones I create are more subtle!

'This month, my debut for Choc Lit, A Cornish Affair, broke that mould as central characters Cat's and Luke’s problems are caused by several different individuals, both male and female.  Currently, I’m writing another Cornish coastal novel and breaking more new ground.  This time a brother and sister are determined to cause problems for my two main characters. 

'I have to say that in whatever guise they come, I do love my antagonists. They’re great fun to write, but of course their stories don’t have happy endings. With the best will in the world, I couldn’t possibly let that happen, could I? That is something reserved exclusively for my heroes and heroines.'

Thank you, Jo - that's good to hear! I'm half way through your novel and loving it, so it's nice to know that a happy-ever-after is coming to the people who deserve it, not to those who don't. 

Twitter: @jolambertwriter
Instagram: jolambertwriter185

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Gilli Allan and Buried Treasure

It's always good to talk to fellow authors and so it's a great pleasure to welcome Gilli Allan today.  Gilli is a much-published novelist whose latest novel is Buried Treasure. So now let's hear about Gilli and  the new book!

Here's the blurb:

Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again.

But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. They both have issues from the past which have marked them and both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve.

Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.

‘I was delighted to have a pre-publication review for Buried Treasure from the well-known and influential book blogger Anne Williams,’ Gilli told me. ‘Anne says: this is a book that rather defies classification by genre. Although there’s a strong element of romance, there’s a great deal more to its clever construction.

‘Anne’s comments sum up what I try to do in my writing. Love is probably the most important part of life, and reading and writing about a developing relationship is delicious. But, over the years, particularly when I was a teenager and during my early twenties, I read my share of romances about impossibly beautiful and desirable heroines in glamorous jobs, whose only flaw was a tendency to be a bit snippy.

‘Perhaps I’ve a jealous and spiteful nature - I am a Scorpio, after all - but these perfect creatures, pining for aloof heroes almost from the start of the books, increasingly annoyed me. The only reason for engaging with this kind of story is if you care. I found it hard to care about the drop dead gorgeous but misunderstood heroines, and I grew less and less willing to invest the time to discover exactly how the obstacle to ultimate happiness - union with the equally gorgeous, misunderstood but rich, alpha male heroes - would be overcome.

‘I want to read about real people, in real situations, people marked by difficult upbringings and failed relationships, making their way in life. And this is what I write about. All I can do is hope there are some like-minded readers out there.’ 

Gilli began to write in childhood and carried on throughout her teenage years, only to abandon writing when she left home and real life supplanted fiction.

After a few false starts, she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, but when she became a mother she began writing again.

Nowadays, she lives in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, and is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has moved into book illustration too.

Gilli’s previous novels Torn, Life Class and Fly or Fall are published by Accent Press and all three have won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award. 

Following in the family tradition, her son - the historian Thomas Williams - is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is Viking Britain.

Thank you for being my guest, Gilli. I've enjoyed hearing about your new novel and am looking forward to reading it.

LIFE CLASS:    http://myBook.to/LifeClass
FLY OR FALL:  myBook.to/GilliAllan