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Tea and Talk at Sally Lunn’s with Jane Risdon

Sally Lunns Tea House408558_349422021811309_614060150_nWelcome Jane, it’s great to see you here at Sally Lunns.   

Hello Jo, thanks so much for inviting me to chat and enjoy this lovely tea with you.  I’ve been looking forward to it so much.

My first question as always is to ask my guest a little bit about themselves.

Gosh, that’s a dangerous invitation.  How long have you got?  Well, I’ve been married forever to someone I met when I was sixteen.  He was in a band that came to live near me and pestered the life out of me until I agreed to date him.  He proposed after two weeks.  We have a son and three grandchildren so I guess I liked his music.  We eventually worked together in the Music business, in management, after he gave up performing and have lived and travelled all over the world which has been fun but seriously hard work.  Not for the faint-hearted.

How long ago did you first begin writing and what was the trigger?

I suppose I have always wanted to write. I’ve had a love of words, books, paper and all that goes with the act of writing and reading since I was very young.  I have always been a book-worm and somewhere along the way I must have decided that I wanted to write as well. The exact moment is not apparent to me, but throughout my life I have scribbled notes and ideas on bits of paper and in note books, just in case I guess.  I have always had an over-active imagination and love drama of all kinds.

I had a few abortive attempts to write a book many years ago but our lifestyle really made it impossible.  On the road constantly without any free time for decades, and spending time in recording studios with songwriters provided little time for me to indulge myself.  My whole focus was on other people, their careers and their songs, which I did help with (on the writing side) from time to time.

The trigger I guess was being reunited with a lifelong friend who we hadn’t seen for years, but kept in touch with – Christmas cards, but saw rarely – you know how it is with some friends.  She is a successful award-winning writer and at one time had been my husband’s (band’s) fan-club secretary whilst enjoying a career as a journalist on Rock and Pop magazines.   Anyway we met up again about three years ago, and she kept saying I had a story to tell and I should do what I’ve always wanted to do, and write.  So after a lot of faffing about I got down to it and sent her my efforts which she loved and called ‘brilliant,’ which encouraged me, though I admit I thought she was just being ‘kind,’ and didn’t want to upset me!

To cut a long, long story short – for fear of sending you to sleep  – I started to write a novel which she really thought should be published and spurred on by her comments I also tried to have a go at Short Stories and Flash Fiction, which seemed to be well received by other people who read my efforts.  I am now working on two other novels as well.

She then asked me to co-write a book with her which we are doing at the moment, so I was persuaded that perhaps I might not be that bad after-all if she had the courage to work with me on a joint project.  I’ve completed my parts and she is writing hers now in- between having her latest book published, and being contracted to write three others as well.

You seem incredibly busy with projects.  The novel or the short story – have you a preference and if so why?

No, I don’t think I have a preference.  I really started writing short stories and flash fiction to see if I could.  I enjoy it and it is a challenge for me, making me use words and pace differently. When writing novels you have more time and space to develop characters and be more descriptive, allowing the plot to unfold.  I think it is more satisfying to look at thousands of words and know that they came out of my imagination and they are unique, even if the genre is not. So I might be leaning towards the novel more….

Photography is also one of your passions and I understand helps with your writing.  Is this a spontaneous thing – capturing something that you just happen to see or do you plan it in a more structured way?

My whole family is into photography.  I never realised that my siblings are camera addicts, not just me, until I met up with them all after years of being on the road all the time.  We all photograph the same sorts of things and in the same way.  So cool.

My husband and I used to always take photos of our artists and lots of video too, in addition to the official photos and video being shot by professionals for the Record companies etc., though back in the days of film with all the costs involved we didn’t take so many personally, as we did in later years.  If I had to pay for film now there is no way I would take as many photos as I do.

I love to walk and explore woods and countryside and on those walks I usually have my camera with me and so I take lots of photos.  Sometimes a location will spark something  or a stretch of water – which inspired my short story, ‘The Look,’ which is in the anthology ‘I Am Woman, Vol. 1,’ – the whole plot came into my head as I took the photo and I nearly ran home to write it.

Old buildings, churches and villages often set me off after I’ve visited and taken photos.  My novel (still being laboured over), ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates,’  is set in rural Oxfordshire and Berkshire in what is called The Vale of the White Horse, and old photos and walks I had been on years ago gave me the visual for the story originally.  A touch of the Agatha Christie coming over me I think!

So, yes; I take photos and use them as visual notes to remind me of locations and how certain locations work.  I draw maps too.  I am sure many writers do the same.  I don’t go through any elaborate rituals setting up the lighting and so forth.  I am strictly a ‘point and shoot,’ type of gal.  There might be some thought about angle and the setting of the shot, but really it is nothing scientific and if the photos come out well I am happy, but it is more luck than judgement.

You were involved in the music business for many years.  This must have not only been a very energizing but also glamorous environment to work in.  How did this career develop and were you involved in any specific areas?

I love it when people tell me they think the Music Business is glamorous.  The end result may seem to be but I can assure you it is a battle-field, bloody and with few prisoners taken.  Long hours, repetitive activities such as recording the same word a thousand times until it has the ‘right feel,’ or re-writing, re-recording and mixing the same song over and over until it is acceptable.

Endless travel in close proximity to a lot of people you’d never invite for dinner normally; never knowing which city, hotel or room you happen to be staying in because all the cities, hotels and rooms morph into each other and being so tired and disorientated, your brain refuses to acknowledge where you are and what time it is.  Trying to recall the important faces and names and trying to forget the hundreds of people you meet daily who really are not ‘anyone,’ of importance to the artist or your own career.

The energy required is almost super-human at times but I know what you mean.  When you hear a voice, piece of music or a song which ‘hits the spot,’ and that shiver goes down your spine and your hair stands on end…..or when you see your artist performing magic on stage and all their little tantrums and annoying habits disappear, well, I guess that is energizing.  I call it relief.

I said earlier that my husband was a musician and when he decided to call it a day, we decided to pass on all his (well our), knowledge and experience to others trying to make it in this cruel business.  I was working – one of us had to be grown-up – in the Civil Service and it was a big decision to take.  Anyway, we decided to go initially into management which involves discovering talent, mentoring and shaping it and then exploiting it all in the hope of obtaining a Recording and Music Publishing contract eventually, and the ‘fame and fortune,’ we all believe will follow.

We worked in promotion as well, putting on big shows at the London Hippodrome initially which meant getting 5,000 bodies through the box-office every month, or we ended up owing the club money.  We had recording studios and managed record producers, songwriters and artists going on to have our own music publishing company as well.  We managed a couple of actors for a while, from one of the Aussie soaps and an American TV series.

As well as obtaining Record contracts for our artists with the Major labels, and then getting them on tour, having their music on television and movies soundtracks, and everything else that  goes with the exploitation of the artist and their catalogue, we also worked with other managers needing our experience and contacts.  We worked all over the world, had hits, and placed music on the most successful television series worldwide at the time, and placed some of the artists into the shows as well.

Managers are not Agents, so it is important not to confuse the two.  A Manager controls every aspect of the artist and their career.  An Agent finds them work, such as tours, concerts, gigs etc but not the TV, Movie and Recording side of their career.

Of all the celebrities you have worked with who was your favourite?

There have been so many I cannot really pick a favourite.  Alice Cooper was (is) a lovely man and we had a lot of fun working with him back in 1989.  In fact I am writing about it at the moment – one of the novels I mentioned before –  because some of the musicians we managed back then were auditioning for his touring band at that time – he was about to release his album, ‘Poison,’ and the whole thing was so funny and mad it cries out to be a story.

David Cassidy was a really nice man too, not at all what we expected.  One of our artists recorded a duet with him on one of his albums and we spent a great deal of time with him in Los Angeles where we lived back then.  We were making an album with our artists and he asked if the female singer would sing with him because he had heard her voice and was knocked out by it.  Los Angeles had just experienced the race riots (Rodney King), and so we also took part in the ‘Stand and Be Proud,’ fund-raising concert and album as well.

The year we worked with David was memorable in many ways because we had terrible fires raging across the canyons, floods and mud-slides and then ‘The’ earthquake.  All we needed was the plague of locusts.

David Hasselhoff was a really nice man but kept reminding us how many records he was selling in Germany all the time we filmed Baywatch with him.   The number rose every time we met him, but he and Pamela Anderson were incredibly kind to our artists who were on the show with them.  We also recorded music and songs used for the whole series so it was a long relationship with the series and the producers.

Mariah Carey was a very nice woman, again not what you’d expect having heard all the tales about her.  It is hard to pick any one person from a career that has covered thirty odd years.  I could list the absolute b******s we worked with, but then I might get sued. 

What was your best moment?

Cripes.  I have no idea.  Some days it was all wonderful and sheer heaven and then other days I hated it and everyone around me and just wanted to see the back of them all.  It is such an intense and personal relationship, manager and artist, and working in Hollywood with the icons of the Music, Movie and TV business is not only exciting, inspiring and unreal; it’s also the absolute pits.  The whole business brings out the very worst there is in human behaviour.

Getting into the American charts was amazing.  There hadn’t been a British artist in the American Charts for ages and ages.  Having chart hits in SE Asia was incredible, working with Chinese artists and working with Record companies in Taiwan when few Western companies in the music industry ventured there to do business; that was thrilling.   Working with an amazing Thrash band who were not only talented songwriters and performers but also really very funny too….I cannot pick the best moment.  Really, I cannot.

And the funniest?

How long do you have?  I think you will be wishing you had never asked me Jo.  Let me see, whilst I am thinking I’d love another cup of tea and a scone please.

Not only did we manage our own artists, I mentioned we worked with other managers as consultants, helping them with their artists.  I do recall an audition one of these managers wanted me to attend when he was considering taking on a new rock singer and wanted me to watch and listen and then give my opinion of him.  We sat alone in a recording studio, the engineer in the booth ready to run the track so the vocalist could sing for us.  The track started an in walked a clone of Steve Tyler; long black hair, tighter than tight clinging pink satin tights, a slashed to the waist tee-shirt with a huge gold medallion around his neck and half of Max Factor’s factory on his face.  I particularly loved his fire-red lipstick and black eyeliner.

I looked him up and down as he grabbed the mic, postured and posed and that is when I realised he had something in his trousers, at the top of his leg.  I tried hard not to stare but I couldn’t help myself.  As he started to sing – I cannot for the life of me recall anything about the song – and moved around, provocatively strutting and posing, I noticed that the ‘thing,’ at the top of his leg seemed to be moving down his thigh.  He tried hard to restrict its journey as he sang.

The track pounded out and he belted out the lyrics to the song and at one point decided to try to do the splits whilst leaping in the air.  It all nearly ended his career as he tottered to regain his balance on landing and did the splits on the wooden floor.  I watched the engineer holding his head in his hands as his shoulders heaved and the manager next to me kept clearing his throat.   My face ached with the effort of containing hysterical laughter.

The track went on and as the vocalist carried on singing  he managed to stand upright after a lot of slipping and sliding, by which time the ‘thing,’ in his trousers had reached his knee.  I couldn’t take my eyes off it by this time, fascinated as to what it might be.  I think I knew what it was supposed to have been.  By this time our Steve Tyler was groping his leg trying to ease the ‘thing,’ back up to where it was supposed to be, all the time winking at me and pouting  in-between getting to the bridge in the song where the key changes, and the song changes too.  As he hit the higher notes he managed to return the ‘thing,’ to its original place and he held on to it for the remained of the song and physical jerks, winking and pouting at me.

The performance ended, we politely clapped.   As he came towards me and planted a huge wet kiss on my face saying, ‘That was for you doll, all for you,’ in a phoney West Coast accent.  He bent to shake my hand and the ‘thing,’ shot out of the bottom of his tights landing on the floor in front of me.  We were presented with a prize-winning courgette.

And no, the manager didn’t sign him.

Simon Cowall is not the only one who has had to sit through such mind-torturing experiences.  If I had a penny for all the funny situations I have found myself in, I would be bailing out Cyprus on my own.

Mind you, Simon has had to sit through meetings with my husband and I as we played him recordings of artists.  But nothing that was not worthy of his time and consideration I must say. 

And lastly, if you could invite four guests to dinner, who would they be and why would you invite them?

I can never think of anyone when asked this.  I want to say my brothers and sisters because when we get together we never stop laughing – we are all spread across the globe so it doesn’t happen often but when it does the noise is unreal, and we end up rolling on the floor doubled up.

Doris Day is a huge love in my life, so I would have her.  Daphne Du Maurier and Agatha Christie as well, and the amazing Fred Astaire if I really had to choose, though part of me wants Einstein and Tim Berners Lee as well.  All the things I really love are represented.

Thanks so much for a lovely tea and I have enjoyed chatting to you so much Jo.  I hope I haven’t hogged the conversation too much; so much to say, so little time.  It has been a blast.  We must do lunch some time….I’ve just come over all ‘Hollywood,’ forgive me.

Thank you for coming along Jane and no you didn’t hog the conversation; for me the most important thing about Tea and Talk are the guests and the great interviews they deliver and you have done just that!

If you would like to know more about Jane and her work please check out her links below:

I Am Woman Anthology vol 1 available  – My author page – My  author Blog.
The pod-cast of the Honey Trap, Flash Fiction. The Honey Trap – Flash Fiction Published Story… My short story, A Walk to Destiny… My Flash Fiction Story the White Witch of England (also Pod-cast – links on my blog)
Telling Tales Anthology by Writers for Welfare available

Next weekend Tea and Talk at Sally Lunn’s will be hosting the lovely  Sheryl Brown, a lady who writes fabulous, funny, heartbreaking romantic fiction.



Posted in Writing

Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns with the lovely Linn B Halton

Sally Lunns Tea Houselinn halton-65 (216x300)Welcome Linn, lovely to have you here at Sally Lunns. This weekend has been busy as I’ve had two guests so hope not to pile on the calories too much. The cakes in here are wonderful!
Thank you for inviting me, I’m partial to a toasted tea cake myself but cup cakes are now a serious contender ha! Ha!
My first question as always is to ask a little bit about you.
I live in Arlingham, alongside the River Severn in Gloucestershire, UK. We’ve been here about eighteen months and we love the small community atmosphere of this little village. Writing is my third career and one I had to wait quite a long time to have the pleasure of beginning. After nearly 20 years in finance, I then found myself involved with interior design. It had been a long-time hobby and I’d styled quite a few homes for friends over the years. Getting involved with designing the interiors for new build show homes took it to another level. It was one of the most enjoyable working periods of my life, because it was great fun. However, it was very hard work and often a pressure due to very tight timescales from a house being completed, to having to get it totally set up.
Often people don’t realise that the interior designer not only ‘styles’ the interior, but chooses the final finishes, fixtures and fittings, then has to buy all the furniture, soft furnishings and decorative display items. All those items have to be stored off-site until the house is ready and then typically it’s a two-day turnaround to get things delivered, unpacked and set up. The final result often makes it seem like a glamorous job to have, but organising storage, someone to accept delivery of the goods and check them, sorting the labour for moving-in day and even things like arranging for the disposal of packing materials, can be a headache! I had a good team I could call on to help out and everyone worked until the job was done, regardless of how late in the day it was. I learnt a lot, including how to iron curtains in situ with a steam iron – invaluable! I’ve even been known to whizz the iron over a fully made up bed to get final creases out of the duvet cover…
How long ago did you first start writing?
In terms of the five books I now have published, I began writing in March 2009. I had given up work in December 2008 to look after my mum, but sadly she passed away just three months later. I had a choice, to go back to work or to take that ‘time’ to write. I haven’t stopped since.
What sparked your interest in the paranormal?
Interesting question Joanna! I don’t really connect with the word paranormal. To me it smacks of ghosts and people who seek out encounters because they want scientific proof to parade to the world. For me personally, and I might be alone here, connecting with loved ones is something totally different. I’ve had experiences dating back to a young child and a mere few were things that were unpleasant; I’ve had no more than four or five that I would class as terrifying. On those occasions I left immediately and never looked back. As a child the encounters were mainly to do with things associated with the houses I lived in. Increasingly over the last ten years it has become more about my loved ones, having lost my parents and an aunt and uncle to whom I was very close. When something happens it’s natural to look for some simple explanation so you can pass it off lightly. I’ve tried them all – tired eyes, trick of the light, imagination, wishful thinking. However, I have also visited a number of incredibly good psychic mediums who validated beyond doubt some of the spirit helpers around me. I think my spiritual journey began after my father died in 2004. For a long time I talked about the incidents but simply filed them away as unexplained. Living with someone who was an even greater sceptic than I was to begin with, meant I had to wait until someone else brought up the topic in conversation. Then my husband Lawrence had his first experience and things changed. Since then we have had quite a few shared experiences and, as the saying goes, seeing IS believing. However ‘the proof’ is personal, a bit like believing in God. If you aren’t ready to take that step, then you simply won’t pick up on what is happening around you, around all of us.

You decided to incorporate that interest into your writing. What was the trigger for the first book?
Since a very young age I knew romance was always going to be my genre and I have a journal full of ideas for stories that I’ve kept since I was a teenager. However, when I sat down to write Touched By The Light in March 2009, my mother had literally just passed away. I was in the middle of sorting the funeral and her effects and began writing simply to have a break away from the sadness of it all. To keep my sanity I needed to lose myself for a couple of hours a day in something totally unrelated. The opening scene is one where Mya, who is twenty-three years of age, is in an emergency room in a hospital and suddenly she ‘follows the light’. Given my personal situation, I think it’s obvious what was on my mind, although I hasten to add that it’s a romance with a lot of humour in it, but written to make the reader think about both sides of life. However, when I include psychic elements I always draw on actual first-hand experiences to weave into the fictional stories. The result is that I get a lot of mail from readers who have had similar experiences and some are sharing theirs for the first time with me. I always feel that’s something rather special and for which I’m very grateful.
You are now a successfully published author with Sapphire. How did that come about?
It was a random exchange on Twitter, when Sapphire Star had literally just launched. After a brief exchange I submitted The Quintessential Gemini, my second manuscript and the only one that doesn’t have a psychic twist. I was almost ready to self-publish it at the time but that Twitter exchanged convinced me to have a go. Shortly after I signed the contract I submitted my third manuscript, The Restaurant @ The Mill and that was accepted too. They are a fabulous team and the support has been fantastic. It can really make a difference when you are a new author.
What is your next project?
I have two on the go, The Quintessential Astrologer (a sequel) and The Glass Wall. Very different stories, but great fun to write.
 I know you have an incredibly busy life but when you do get spare time what do you like to do?
I write. My ‘work’ time is taken up with running websites, to the extent that I am no longer OCD when it comes to housework I’m afraid. Neat, tidy and clean, yes, but the dusting can wait and often does. Any time away from the computer is spent with the youngest members of our family and in finishing the renovation work to our cottage, a converted cowshed and hayloft.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
France and California. For the same reasons – we’ve visited some many times over the years and feel we have an affinity with both. Also there are so many memories from when the children were young, when my mum and dad often came with us on trips and wonderful people we’ve met. Also the romantic times we’ve had for wedding anniversaries and birthdays etc. Treasured memories and we will be making some more when we are off to France again in June.
And lastly, if you could invite four guests to dinner, who would they be and why would you invite them?
Jonathan Cainer, he’s my favourite astrologer and I’ve followed him for more years than I care to remember. Richard & Judy, I assume they count as ‘one’, being a couple! Having seen them live at the RNA RoNA awards recently, I was amazed to discover they sit opposite each other at the kitchen table to write. Jamie Oliver, and I would ask him to do a demonstration so that I could sample some of his delicious recipes. James Blunt, because he’s an interesting guy and the words to some of his songs are amazing. I would want four separate dinner parties though, as I would have so many questions for each one!

A great mix of guests Linn and yes I guess you would need to have four dinner parties for such a diverse quartet!  Thank you so much for coming along and for such a great interview.

More information on Linn and her writing can be found on the social network connections below:

Life, love and beyond … but it’s ALWAYS about the romance! 

Author Website ~ A Lovehappyending Lifestyle feature editor  ~ RNA page Signed by: Twitter: @LinnBHalton Facebook: Linn B Halton

I’ll be back with Tea and Talk on the 31st March when I’ll be chatting with author Jane Risdon.


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A Saturday Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns with Michelle Bentham

Sally Lunns Tea HouseAuthorPicWelcome Michelle to Sally Lunns. When I invited you here I really wondered whether this was the right place to do this interview with you. Given the content of your novels, it occurred to me that maybe we should have been doing this while enjoying the steamy roof top pool at the city’s Thermae Spa!

Firstly can I ask you how you got into writing?
I’ve always loved writing. From a very early age I’ve been making up stories, scribbling down ideas, and throughout my whole life people have accused me of having my head in the clouds, or living in a dream world, so what better way to turn that dream world into a reality than getting those stories down in book form? I love escaping into another world, and after finally summoning up the courage to put pen to paper – so to speak – that’s exactly what I did! I tried the usual route of looking for an agent/publisher at first, but after fast realising that the rejections were just going to mount up at a time when it didn’t seem like new authors were what publishers or agents were looking for, I turned to Kindle Direct Publishing to get my books out there – and I haven’t looked back!
I love making up stories, love creating characters. For me to be able to do this, to write books and turn those daydreams into something real, it really is a dream come true for me.
Your novels have a reputation for steamy, racy escapism. What was it that made you decide this was the way to go?
For some reason, it’s a genre I just feel completely at ease writing, and that’s quite unusual for someone like me, someone who’s quite shy and reserved! It’s also a genre I love reading, I suppose. I love losing myself in sexy escapism. I’ve also written a couple of more light-hearted romantic comedies – which I did love writing – but something always pulled me back towards the sexier side of romance. And as I was writing ‘Striker’, I think that’s when I came to the decision to stick with the sexy and the racy, because I just loved writing that book!
Did writers like Jackie Collins inspire you?
Oh, absolutely! Jackie Collins is one of my idols! I’ve even got an autographed photo of her that sits on my desk, spurring me on every day. I love her books, and I’m also a huge fan of Jilly Cooper, too. I guess I just like that kind of glamorous, sexy escapism – something a little bit over the top! I mean, Dallas is one of my all-time favourite TV programmes, so I think you can see what I mean!
Where does the inspiration for your characters come from?
I use pop culture a lot to inspire me, especially when it comes to creating new characters. I like to have a really clear idea of what my characters are going to look like before I start writing their story, so I always take a look at favourite actors/musicians as a kind of reference, and I always find someone who I can use as muse, if you like, although it doesn’t always happen straightaway. But I can just be sitting watching TV, and someone will appear on screen, and I just know that they would be perfect for a certain character, as was the case with Jim Allen, my fictional football manager in ‘Striker’. I had a vague of idea of how I wanted him to be – he was American, tall, in his forties, and of course he had to be handsome – and one day, when I was watching an American drama series called Person of Interest, Jim Caviezel appeared on screen and that was it. I had my Jim Allen! That’s how it works for me.
However, whereas that is the case for my more racy romance novels, for one of my comedy romances – ‘Bon Voyage’ – a couple of the characters in that book were very much inspired by some of the people me and my husband met on various cruise holidays we’ve had over the years. And we met some quite bizarre people, believe me!????????????????????????????????????????
If you could choose another type of novel to write what would it be?
Horror. I would love to be able to write a book that could genuinely scare people, much the same way as James Herbert’s ‘The Dark’ scared me when I read it!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I actually quite like cooking. I wouldn’t say I was a particularly brilliant cook, but I do like to have a go, and I love to bake cakes, biscuits and bread more than anything. Maybe I’ve been watching too much of the ‘Great British Bake Off’!
I also like to watch movies, and sit down in front of a decent TV drama. That’s what I do to relax.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I loved to read anything, really. As long as it’s got a decent story and some great characters then I’ll certainly give it a go! But, in particular, I love reading contemporary romances – both of the steamy and not-so-steamy variety. I also like a good saga, and horror! I absolutely love reading horror stories! I’ve been a big fan of Stephen King’s books for a long time, but I especially love James Herbert as a horror writer. Herbert’s books have, as I mentioned before, literally scared the hell out of me (although maybe I shouldn’t have been reading certain ones at such a young age!) and I love the way he can do that with words alone.
And lastly, you can invite four celebrities to dinner with you. Who would you have and why?
Ok. First celebrity I’d invite would be Keanu Reeves, because I have had a huge crush on him ever since I saw him in ‘Point Break’ back in 1991. It was a pretty terrible film, but he looked so gorgeous in it! Yes, I’m that shallow! He may not be the best actor in the world, but I love the fact he’s quirky, different, and I fancy him. Simple as that.
Second celebrity I’d invite would be Peter Kay, because I just find him hilarious! ‘Phoenix Nights’ is probably my all-time favourite comedy series, and I love watching his stand-up routines. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen them, they still make me laugh out loud! Even reading his autobiographies I was laughing. Love him!
Third celebrity would probably be Jimmy McGovern, because I’d love to be able to pick his brains and find out how to write brilliant TV dramas like he does. Programmes like ‘The Street’, ‘Accused’ and ‘The Lakes’ are some of the best dramas I’ve watched. I love his work. And I’d love to be able to write a good northern TV drama like he can.
Fourth celebrity I’d invite to dinner would be, and this is a tough one because, quite frankly, I have a list as long as my arm of people I would love to invite, but I think, this time around, it would probably be David Tennant – mainly so I could berate him quite severely about leaving Doctor Who! It hasn’t been the same since his departure, and I’ve never quite got over that…

Many thanks Michelle for a great interview, so nice to meet you!  Being an author is my first love but blog interviews come a close second.  I love meeting fellow writers and learning not only about them but also what motivates their writing and also in your case, those inspirational men!  Thank you.

For more information about Michelle and her books check out her social network links below:

Amazon UK link for Striker –
My blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –  (@michellebetham)
Pinterest –

Tomorrow I’m back with the second part of this weekend’s double bill talking to  author Linn B Halton
Posted in Writing

Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns with my good friend Kit Domino

Sally Lunns Tea HouseKit DominoWelcome Kit and yes, we really are here at Sally Lunns!  The first thing I wanted to say is that I’m sure there are many people who will read this blog who already know all about you. For those who don’t, however, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Yes, we’re finally here. I didn’t realise how small Sally Lunn’s is. It is rather quaint, isn’t it? Oh, a hot chocolate for me, please. So, what to say about myself… I live about ten miles north of Bristol, overlooking the two Severn bridges (well, I would if houses weren’t in the way!). I’m married, have one daughter, two grandchildren, and have a passion for music, flowers and plants, and take great pleasure in the wildlife in my garden, especially the birds.

Your debut novel Every Step of the Way has been very successful. What inspired you to write it and was it a deliberate plan to embrace saga writing as a preferred genre?
I never set out to be a saga writer, it just happened by circumstance. Prior to Every Step, I had written a paranormal mystery called Whitestones (to be published later this year), and two contemporary novels.  Every Step of the Way began as a sequel to the paranormal. I was looking for a reason to give my novel family for moving from London to the West Country, when I came across an article in a national newspaper about the 1952 Killer Smog of London. The more I read, the more fascinated I became with the incident, particularly as one of the areas worst affected was where I grew up. A lot of facts surrounding that dreadful event weren’t known to later generations, and I knew I simply had to incorporate them into my story. To me, the novel is more historic semi-fiction, but there doesn’t seem to be a shelf for that in the bookstores. Although I’m halfway through writing a second saga, it isn’t my preferred genre; I much prefer writing paranormals and timeslips. You can have much more fun and freedom with these.9780957222106

There is a history behind the book; it was shortlisted for an award, I believe. How did this happen?
The Harry Bowling prize was initially for an unpublished novel in any genre as long as it was set in London. As Every Step qualified, I decided to have another go. The entry had to include a synopsis. Having entered the competition two years previous with a contemporary, and having got nowhere, I thought perhaps I would stand a better chance if I changed Every Step into a saga, as that’s what Harry Bowling wrote. So I reworked the synopsis. Surprise upon surprise, I received a phone call several months later advising me I had been shortlisted. I didn’t win, but as a result, I was taken on by a well respected agent.

You are a lady of many talents, writer, editor, artist to name three. Which of these came first and how did this happen?
A lady of talent and master of none! Or so it’s been said. The writing came first, from having a love of English as school, I went on to become a reporter, then editor for the school magazine and onwards from there. My working life has always involved working with books, including running my own business keying and typesetting all manner of reference books and journals. I’d been writing poetry for several years before turning my hand to a full-length novel, then another, and another, and so it continues.

And did this inspire you to move into the other areas you have now embraced?
Well, yes, I suppose it has in a way. I was on a writers’ holiday some five years ago when I sat in on an art class. Art has always been inside me; I studied it at grammar school and had dabbled feebly with watercolours to no success. The tutor suggested I try acrylics, and I haven’t looked back since. I certainly never expected my any of my paintings to sell, that’s for sure.

Which do you enjoy most? I love both equally. One inspires the other. The painting can be exceedingly relaxing to do but, like writing, it can be exceedingly frustrating when things aren’t going as planned.

How did you get into publishing?
My business and working career had given me a lot of insight into publishing, although it has changed greatly over the years with the invention of computers etc. My agent had been unable to secure a publisher for me and, having been made redundant a couple of years ago (gosh, is it really that long?) I decided I would put my knowledge and experience to use and do something with my time, and help other writers too in the process.

And now for some general questions. Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Greece, Greece, Greece, every time, although I did fall in love with Barbados and Austria. No, it is definitely Greece, the Greek islands. I’ve visited several, my favourite to date is Kefalonia. I love the climate, the warm sea, the food, the wonderful people, the nature of the land, Greek history and its many myths and legends. The only thing I don’t like is the written language, I can’t read a word of it!

And lastly, a regular question I’ve started to ask. If you could invite four famous people to dinner who would you choose and for what reason?
James Martin – he’s gorgeous, I love his car collection and he’s a brilliant chef. I would invite him to cook dinner for us all. After we’ve eaten (I wouldn’t expect him to do the washing up), I would persuade him to take me for a drive in one of his fabulous sports cars.
Andrea Bocelli – he’s gorgeous too, and his singing is simply heavenly. He’s the only singer whose voice can make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I would invite him to serenade us after our lovely meal cooked by James.
For sparkling and stimulating conversation I would invite Brian Cox, the astronomer. Apart from being gorgeous too (have you noticed the pattern here?), I am deeply intrigued and fascinated by the stars and planets, and am a secret Star Trekkie. I can spend hours outside at night studying the stars. It would be wonderful to have Brian there to teach me all about them.
My final guest would be Leonardo di Vinci. Not so gorgeous, but he was a very intelligent and knowledge man far in advance of his time. I would love to give him the opportunity to discuss his theories with people who are now enlightened in the ways of the world and the universe. Afterwards, he would be able to capture the dinner party in a painting for prosperity, as only a true artist can.

A  fascinating collection of guests with a wide mix of talent to sit around your dinner table!  Am sure you would have an amazing evening! Thank you for coming along and guesting on Tea and Talk, it’s been great to spend some time with you.

For more information about Kit, check out her social network connections below:-


Twitter Account @KitDomino:

Kit Domino Blog: 

The Edit Agony Aunt:

Next week, the big double bill, I will have Michelle Bentham with me on Saturday the 16th and Linn B Halton on Sunday 17th.  Watch this space!

If you would like to come along and chat to me at Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns simply drop me an e-mail on and I’ll book us a table.

Posted in Writing

Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns with Nicky Wells

Sally Lunns Tea HouseNicky_NEWAuthorPic_April12_useforwebsite

Hi Nicky,

I’m so pleased to be able to welcome you as my guest at Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns.

Hi Jo ~ it’s such fun to be here. I’ll have milk in my tea, seeing as that it’s the afternoon, and sugar please. Make it two. No really, go on. Yes, two. TWO. Ah, thank you. I know, people are always surprised, but I’m a sweetheart ~ I need my sugar.

Now I know you grew up in Germany but can you tell us a little more about yourself?

Well. Let’s see. I grew up in a fairly big industrial town called Essen, but my family lived on the outskirts and I have memories of roaming fields and abandoned orchards. It was quite ‘Famous Five’ and my friends and I were forever looking for secret tunnels and adventures. I have two much older brothers; my older-older brother was 17 when I was born (and was frequently mistaken for my Dad when he used to push me around in the buggy, much to his embarrassment) and my younger-older brother was 12. I had a typical education ~ Kindergarten, primary school, secondary school, with all the teenage trimmings. For example, I used to take ballroom dancing classes because it’s simply what you do when you’re fourteen! (This has come in handy once or twice!)

When did you start writing?

In earnest, I started writing eight years ago when I was pregnant. I’d quit my job and I was determined to fulfil my lifetime’s ambition of writing a book. I followed through, too, completing the first draft in about three months and editing it in various stages over the following years. However, it’s only since my younger son started school that I suddenly had this mad desire to turn writing into a proper career, and that’s about two years ago.

What inspired you to write a book that featured a rock band?

What can I say? I have a thing about rock stars. Always have done, presumably always will do. It’s something about the voices and the hair and that powerful on-stage presence that makes me go quite weak without fail. So I spun a fantasy around what would happen if…someone like Mr. Bon Jovi ever proposed. I hasten to add that the book is NOT about Mr. BJ, has nothing to do with him, in fact, and isn’t even inspired by him…directly. It was just…you know…a daydream which grew into a book.

When did you decide Sophie’s journey was not yet at an end and there were another two books to be written?

That’s a really good question. I didn’t, to begin with. I wrote it as one book, called ‘Full Circle’ at the time (owing to the ending, you see) and left it there. Obviously I knew the story wasn’t finished and the epilogue kind of opened the way into a second book right away, but I didn’t start thinking about writing this second book until I had published the first one.

When I planned the second book, it turned out that Sophie’s story was far more complex than I had envisaged and I couldn’t possibly fit it all into one book. So then I swiftly planned two more books, one in great detail (Sophie’s Run) and one in outline (Sophie’s Encore).

Did you work out the plot for both remaining stories at the same time?

Lol ~ I should have read ahead, shouldn’t I! I think I answered that question above. That’s me, always chatting away, offering way too much information.

Now to music, I know you and I both share a love of rock music but who are your favourite bands?

How long have you got? Europe, THE HUSH, Dare, Bon Jovi, FM, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Kiss, John Norum, Green Day… But I also like ABBA, Emeli Sande and… well, lots of artists.

And who have you actually seen live and where?

Hm. See if I can resurrect my memories here. The first band I ever saw live was Modern Talking. I know, I know; put it down to teenage aberration. My brothers were mortified. That was in Essen, when I was twelve.

Next was Europe, also in Essen, when I was fourteen. I was in the front row. Oh yes, I was. You see, my friend and I, we were so relatively little, we just kinda squeezed through the crowd outside the concert hall and suddenly we were let in early, in small groups (crowd control, I suppose) and well, there we were, in the front row. I was deaf for days but it was worth it. *swoon*

I saw Europe a few more times in Germany but I can’t exactly recall where or when.

Dare ~ saw them once (or twice? Not sure now) in Essen. We had a quick chat over a beer; they were the support act that first time and came wandering about when they were done. I also caught a drumstick in that show, I still have it to this day!

FM ~ saw them… oooh lots of times. In Oberhausen and Munich (age 19) (me, not them!); in Woking and London; in Cardiff… At the Oberhausen gig, I was lucky enough to blag an invitation backstage and chatted with the band until the bar closed. I got lots of autographs too but I can’t find them now. I think I banished them to a box in the attic a long time ago, swearing I was over and done with this rock star obsession. This was before I started writing, obviously. D’you reckon I should go and retrieve them?

Speaking of ~ Have tix to see FM on tour in March! Splurged on the VIP package too so I’ll get to see the sound-check and attend the after-show event!!!

Bon Jovi ~ saw them twice in Bristol, in 2008 and 2010.

Shall I leave it there?

 Wow, that is quite a list Nicky.  I love Dare. Their music has almost taken over the playlist I’ve set up for my current novel.  And now for my final question – Sophie’s Run has been released and the final part of her adventure in the pipeline.  What are your plans after this?

I am going to write more Romance that Rocks Your World. I have two very different books in the hopper, featuring glamorous musicians of varying levels of success with different kind of love stories attached to them. I’m gonna have to throw a coin as to which one I’m going to write first!

Thank you for joining me here in Bath Nicky and good luck with Sophie’s Run.  It’s already on my TBR pile!

Thank you so much for having me here, Jo! It’s been such a pleasure and… don’t tell anyone about my two sugars, will you? XXX

About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!


Rock On! Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door.  A signed author with U.S. publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, Nicky is in the throes of publishing her Rock Star Romance Trilogy. Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters.  When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and occasional teaching assistant.

Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.

Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress. You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook. Nicky is a featured author on the innovative reader/author project, and has joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Nicky also has author pages at Sapphire Star Publishing, Amazon and, of course, Goodreads.

Sophie’s Run

Her famous star remains her rock while life takes her on a little detour…

Who says that the road towards true love is straight and even?  Sophie is certainly discovering that it is anything but.

So she has finally found the man of her dreams! Well… she knows who he is, even though she hasn’t actually quite met him yet.  But she misses her opportunity, and then her life goes crazy.  Rock star and ex-fiancé, Dan, keeps getting in the way of her new romance—even if he is just trying to be helpful.  A fire, an impromptu mini-trip with Dan, and a dreaded wedding later, Sophie is still struggling to meet the love of her life. Then, just as she is getting it together with her perfect man, best friend Rachel commits an act of unspeakable betrayal.

Sophie has had enough. Confused and distraught, she decides that it is time for radical change.  Surprising herself and shocking her friends, she embarks on a secret journey and eventually gets her life back on track.

Sophie’s Run is now available in Kindle edition from and, and in Paperback edition from and You can also get the paperback at Barnes & Noble, or download Sophie’s Run onto your Nook (coming soon).


My next Tea and Talk will be an author double bill – the lovely Michelle Bentham and my good friend Linn B Halton.  I will be talking to these ladies on 16th and 17th March about writing and all sorts of other interesting things.  Don’t miss it!