Posted in Writing

TUESDAY TALK: This week I’m chatting to Welsh author Mary Grand about her writing journey and the authors who have inspired her…

Mary GrandGood morning Mary and welcome. Can I begin the interview by asking you a little
about yourself?

Good morning and thank you very much for inviting me to take part in the Tuesday Talk Interview.
At the moment I live on the Isle of Wight with my husband and slightly manic cocker spaniel called Pepper. We have two children who have been to university and are both at the point of making the next choices in their lives. It is a beautiful island and I am fortunate to be able to take our dog each day to the beach or woods or up on the Downs (maybe not so magical in the rain!)
I grew up in Wales and set much of my writing there, even though it is many years since I lived there. Before writing full time I taught deaf children in Croydon, Hastings and here on ‘the island’.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? How did your journey begin?

I came to writing a lot later than many writers. My creative outlet was always music. My real journey to becoming a writer began at a creative writing class. Initially I was very nervous and worried about what people would think about what I was writing. . It was when I started to have the courage to write what was in my heart that writing really took off for me. Once I discovered what I wanted to write about I was hungry to learn the skills and disciplines needed to write a novel. Advice such as reading widely, writing daily, with encouragement and feedback form more experienced writers has been invaluable. I read a wonderful book called ‘Bird by Bird’ by Ann Lamott on writing. She talks about the importance of truth in writing and has a wonderful chapter entitled ‘shitty first drafts’ which I just love.

You’ve written a full length novel ‘Free to be Tegan’ and a short story compilation,
‘Catching the Light’. What are your plans for your next book?

Cover Feb 2016 shrunkI am working really hard on my second full length novel. This is set on the Gower Peninsula in Wales and in particular the incredibly stunning bay at Rhossili. It is a wonderful setting and it is here a complicated and intriguing family saga unravels.

Which authors have inspired you and why?

Joanna Trollope was one of the first authors to inspire me. She has wonderful characters who drive the story. A Particular favourite of mine is Anna in the “Rector’sWife.”
I recently re-read “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier and was so excited and inspired by her extraordinary use of language to create atmosphere and character.
I love the novels of Victoria Hislop . She works incredibly hard at research which I enjoy as I love to learn new things when I am reading. She has a wonderful gift of weaving this into her stories so that it never feels like it’s ‘cut and Catching cover shrunkpasted’ in but an integral part of the story.
Finally I have to mention Agatha Christie. I re-read her books for good plots and for comfort. She is not afraid to help her reader, recapping and reminding you of things .

If you weren’t a writer is there any other career that would appeal to you?

That is hard. I did lots of interesting work before becoming a writer; teaching ; nursing; and office work. I feel so fortunate to be able to do what I am doing now.
I think if I had to change career I would want to work with books maybe in a library or a bookshop.

Where is the one place you would most like to travel to?

I would love to visit the Galápagos Islands, but am not sure if they are being visited by too many people now. I’d also love to visit the Alhambra Palace in Spain after reading about it in Philippa Gregory’s book about Catherine of Aragon, “The Constant Princess “.

 And lastly, you can select five celebrities as guests for dinner. Who would they be
and why would you invite them?

Actress Amy Poehler She is a fantastic comedian and not ashamed to call herself a feminist. She is inspirational for younger girls without being over earnest or condescending. She seems to me to be a thoroughly good kind of person and I would love to talk about her work and her experiences.

Writer Jill Mansell I heard her speak at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival. She was wonderfully honest, funny, in touch, and full of practical advice for writers.

Actress Brenda Blethyn I think she is a remarkable actress who worked for twenty years before achieving success and recognition. I find her inspirational and also very down to earth and funny.

Writer J.K.Rowling I would love to ask her about her early years, about what kept her going and how she copes with the fame she now I think reluctantly experiences. These are two of my favourite quotes by her that i would love to talk about.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default”
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

Musician Evelyn Glennie, a Scottish virtuoso deaf percussionist; she has had a remarkable career. She has fought a battle for deaf people in a hearing world and has had the courage to change and adapt her views. I would love to talk to her about her career, perception of music and also about her recent decision to learn to sign.


Author Bio

I was born in Cardiff and have retained a deep love for my Welsh roots. I worked as a nursery teacher in London and later taught Deaf children in Croydon and Hastings.
I now live on the beautiful Isle of Wight with my husband, where I walk my cocker spaniel Pepper and write. I have two grown up children.
Free to Be Tegan’ was my debut novel. It is to be the first of a series of novels set in Wales. The second will be set on the spectacular Gower Peninsula. I have also published a short book of short stories ‘Catching the Light’.
Do send feedback to me at

Books and Links

Free to be Tegan

Catching the Light

also available on Smashwords, , Barnes and Noble, Ipad and Kobo.

Social Media Links

Face book
Author Mary Grand


Posted in Writing

Today Tuesday Talk catches up with writer Caroline James to talk about food, travel and desert island ‘must haves’


CJ Books on beach background

Good morning Caroline and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Greetings Jo and thank you for hosting me on Tuesday Talk. I currently live in Cheshire in a small community which is perfectly placed for trains, planes and automobiles – handy to escape whenever an opportunity arises! It is a great base for me and when not out and about with my consultancy work, I enjoy being at home where I can generally be found in the kitchen. My life has always been food related from running my own businesses to working with some amazing celebrity chefs.


Have you always wanted to be a writer? How did your journey begin?

As a young girl I dreamt of writing stories but I really messed up at school and never thought I was good enough. Years later, when I valued education and made sure I got one, I knew that if I didn’t put pen to paper I would go to my grave wondering – and so it began. I wrote a story that had been in my head for a long time, based around a gypsy horse fair and Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me was born. I couldn’t find a publisher so very hesitatingly self-published the book. To my shock and joy, it shot to #3 in Women’s Fiction on Amazon and was E-Book of the Week in The Sun. Since then I have been both indie and traditionally published.
Your books – a blend of romance and humour – have been strongly influenced by your catering background. Is there one real life humorous event you can recall?

There are many events. The hospitality world is a rich pot to pick from and full of eccentrics. I represented several celebrity chefs for many years and found myself in some whacky situations, such as standing in for a chef too intoxicated to do their demo in front of a large audience. Another was turning up for a meeting with the MD of a chain of luxury hotels who whisked me by helicopter to view them and four days later, at 2 am in the morning, sat by my feet sucking his thumb to hold the meeting.

Who is your favourite celebrity chef?

Floyd-by-seaI’ve worked with and met some fantastic chefs but my favourite of all was the late great Keith Floyd. I think he was the master – not only for being a brilliant cook who had the ability to entertain in whatever circumstances he was thrown into but also for being an amazing raconteur and thoroughly nice fellow. Floyd fell in love with Kinsale in Southern Ireland after being invited to an annual food festival and ended up buying a cottage Kinsale estuaryand spending a large part of the 1990s there. I traced his steps to the festival (Following Floyd’s Footsteps) to find out why he loved Kinsale so much and I had the most incredible four days ever. The people of Kinsale, who are huge foodies, took Floyd to their hearts and embraced him and I soon understood why he fell in love with the place. The festival and Floyd were the inspiration for my novel, So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef?

You did extensive research for Coffee, Tea the Caribbean and Me by spending time in the West Indies. Can you tell us something about that?

I spent time in the Caribbean many years ago and now, through family connections, have post on beachcause to visit quite often. I guess it’s the old adage – write what you know and I certainly know Barbados. Barbados is a beautiful island but it’s not all about sun, sea and sand. There is a side to Barbados that the tourists never see and the Rock (as it is known) has a wealth of history, fascinating people and eclectic foods. I tried to include a little bit of the island that is off the beaten track and I hope that the book inspires people to go there.

What destination is top of your bucket list and why?

I’ve visited many countries and have climbed a few mountains in my time. I love beaches and dramatic seas but at the moment, top of my bucket list seems to be a train journey, somewhere interesting and lengthy – perhaps the California Zephyr which is considered to be one of the most scenic train rides in America, traveling from Denver to San Francisco, across the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.

You’re taking a sabbatical on a desert island. What four ‘must haves’ would you take with you?

A very sharp knife
The late, great Keith Floyd
Several cases of champagne
George Clooney



Caroline’s Links:

CTTCM cover


Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me:

Flying solo pic

Web: :

Twitter: @carolinejames12 :

Facebook: Author Caroline James:

Posted in Writing

TUESDAY TALK chats to Writer Sue Fortin about her love of mystery and some interesting celebrity dinner guests

Sue Fortin author picGood morning Sue and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Good morning, Jo and thank you for inviting me onto your blog. I always enjoy reading the Tuesday Talk Interviews so feel very honoured to be here.

So, about me … I’m married with four children and live in West Sussex. I write mystery, suspense and romance and am published by HarperImpulse, HarperCollins. I started off as an Indie author before signing with my publishers, although I still self-publish my novellas.

I’m part of the on-line writing group The Romaniacs ( where I blog regularly and am also a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? How did your journey begin?

I’ve always had a love for books, as a child I was a real bookworm so I suppose it was a natural progression to want to write stories of my own. Throughout my childhood and early twenties, I started many a novel which never reached further than a few chapters. However, when I had my youngest daughter, I decided if I didn’t try then, I never would succeed in writing ‘The End’.

My aim was just to complete a whole novel. During the process I discovered the Romantic Novelists’ Association and their wonderful New Writers’ Scheme. I was very lucky to get a place and this fuelled me to finish the novel. The first draft was truly awful but the following year the next version received really positive comments and a second read. This inspired me to self-publish ‘United States of Love’ and a year after that, I submitted it to HarperImpulse who offered me a three book deal.

Your first book ‘United States of Love’ was a contemporary romance. You now write romance, mystery and suspense. What made you decide to widen the genre?

I’ve always enjoyed reading thrillers and mystery books. My first love was Enid Blyton’s ‘The Mystery of …’ series. Likewise, I’ve enjoyed reading contemporary romances, Jilly Cooper and Sue Moorcroft being amongst my favourites. After ‘United States of Love’ was published, I really wanted to merge my two loves together and from that my writing has developed into a more romantic suspense style. I thoroughly enjoy blending the romance and relationship side of things with the mystery and suspense.

Are you a plotter or a punster?

Plotter. As my writing has evolved and brought more and more mystery and suspense into it, my books have been very much plot driven. With lots of twists and turns, red herrings and surprises, I really do need to plot heavily otherwise I would end up writing myself into a complete muddle.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

The list is endless but my go-to authors, where I wouldn’t need to read the blurb to buy would be Jilly Cooper, Sue Moorcroft, Liane Moriarty and Emily Barr.

Jilly Cooper and Sue Moorcroft because I always fall in love with their heroes. Even if their heroes aren’t particularly conventional, they always come good in the end. Liane Moriarty and Emily Barr because there is mystery and suspense in their novels. Liane Moriarty makes great social observations and there is often a touch of humour in her writing too.

Chris Kuzneski, Dan Brown, James Paterson and I’ve recently discovered Rachel Amphlett. I like these because of the conspiracy theories, the mystery, the thrill and the great adventure you have as a reader with each book.

You spend some of your time in France. Is there a particular area you love? Where do you stay when you are there?

We’ve spent many years holidaying in France and bought our own cottage thirteen years ago in Southern Brittany. It’s in a tiny commune where the road is busiest when the cows go down to the lane. My husband is in the building trade and has been renovating it over the years. It’s a great spot as it’s relatively easy to get to from the UK and yet provides a great gateway to explore the western side of France.

You’re organising a dinner party and can invite four historical figures. Who would you choose and why?

Oh, gosh, who would I invite?

Emily Pankhurst – to find out what drove her to fight so hard for women to get the vote? Did she really believe it would happen? What would she think to women’s position in society today?

Jackie Onassis – an icon who always appeared so in control and gracious. What was it really like being married to JFK? What was Jackie O really like behind the public mask?

Violette Szabo – A Special Operative Executive agent during the second world war who was executed by the Germans and received the George Cross posthumously. Her story was retold in the film Carve Her Name With Pride. I would love to know what drove her to carry out this line of work? Did she feel it was worth it? Did she think she made a difference?

Jane Austen – How could I not invite someone who wrote such enduring romantic novels?



Book banner


Published by Harper Collins’ imprint Harper Impulse, Sue Fortin writes romance, mystery and suspense.

Her originally self-published debut novel was awarded the INDIE Brag Medallion and later when published by HarperImpulse was short-listed for the Joan Hessayon Award (2014). Sue was also short-listed for the Festival of Romance, New Talent Award (2013). Her second novel, Closing In, reached number one in the Romantic Suspense Kobo chart at the end of 2014. Sue blogs regularly with the on-line writing group The Romaniacs (

Lover of cake, Dragonflies and France. Hater of calories, maths and snakes. Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex.

Sue is married with four children, all of whom patiently give her time to write but, when not behind the keyboard, she likes to spend her time with them, enjoying both the coast and the South Downs, between which they are nestled.

You can catch up with Sue at

Facebook Sue Fortin Author

Twitter @suefortin1

Website & Blog

HarperImpulse Author Page

Amazon Author Page



Posted in Writing

TUESDAY TALK: Today I’m talking to author Elaine Chissick about writing, bucket list destinations and solar powered laptops…

img_3976squareGood morning Elaine and welcome.Can I begin by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi, Jo, and thanks for the opportunity. I’m a forty-something wife and mother who has a passion for baking, and playing with words. I was born in Yorkshire but re-located to the North East nearly eight years ago. I’m a prolific reader and soaker-upper of useless bits of information.

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you begin that journey?

Being an author was something I’ve wanted to do since I was 15, but at the time, it wasn’t a profession or a ‘job’ as far as other people were concerned. I’d been secretly writing stories with a couple of friends for a few years, but after being told to forget about it and get a job, that’s what I did. I packed all my scribbles away when I left school and got on with life.

In 2004, my husband and I adopted two children, and I decided to write a short book about our experience. Out of the 25 agents/publishers I approached, 13 rejected me and 12 never got back to me. Then, in 2012, I decided to self-publish the book on Amazon’s Kindle platform and it started to sell. That’s when the writing bug bit me again but this time, it refused to let go and an idea I’d first had when I was a teenager, came barging back into my mind and set up camp until I began to write it down.

What was the inspiration behind The Ties That Bind

I love reading and I read a wide variety of things. I do have favourites and there are books I’ll happily read more than once or twice, but I couldn’t find a book out there that was the exact story I wanted to read. Then, I read a couple of books that had made the headlines, and I realised what was – from my point of view – missing, the way one of the characters felt, it was all one-sided.
So I wrote the story which had been in my head all that time, but I wrote it from both sides, I gave both my main characters a voice, which at the time of writing, I had no idea if it would work or not.
But it did work, and knowing a few other people have enjoyed it as much as I have, is an added bonus.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

The recently completed Ties That Harm, is the sequel to Ties That Bind and follows Alexandra and Gabriel through the next chapter of their lives, along with the impact of the actions of a few other characters. The book is currently with the editors, but I’m hoping to release it during the summer months. I’m now working on a little idea for something quite different, and I’m seriously considering writing a cookery/recipe book.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

Sue Townsend, she wrote some seriously funny books. I’ve been reading the Adrian Mole Diaries since I was a kid, but my favourite of hers has to be, The Queen And I.
Dan Brown, I love stories of intrigue which also have a smidgen of real life mystery.
Ben Schott’s Almanac is a fabulous book of lists. If you want to know a complete list of Beatles number one records – and the dates they hit the top spot – or a list of the levels of Hell as written in the Divine Comedy, or the fielding positions of cricket … you’ll find them all, and more, in Ben’s book.
E L James and DM Miller both write romance but from completely different angles, and I love the feel-good books of Sophie Kinsella. For something filled with monsters, murderers and cataclysmic events, you can’t beat R J Smith, and underneath the blood sucking and wooden stakes, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is a beautiful love story.
I also have a ‘to be read’ pile at least four foot high, (not including the Kindle list!) and I just know I’m going to find some new favourites in there too, such as Riley J Froud, Maria Gibbs, and Jo Rodrick.
And I can’t leave out H G Wells, just for his unbelievable imagination and the fact that the line, ‘Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.’ sends a shiver down my spine every time I read it.

What destination is top of your bucket list?

Just destinations? (spoil sport! 😀 )
Lyrics from a song by The Script appear in Ties That Bind, as too does a lovely piece of music by composer, James Oldrini. I’d love to be able to get Danny, Mark, and Glen, (James has already agreed) to sign a few copies of my book so that I can donate them to charities so they can auction them to raise funds.
Destination wise, New York, city and state, and Naples in Italy are firmly on my bucket list so that I can research these places in the flesh, rather than through Google Street View. And a mention on Steve and Karen’s Metro Radio Breakfast Show would be nice.

You’re about to take a sabbatical on a desert island for a whole year. What four thing would be ‘must-haves’ and why?

That is a question and a half! The Mom in me wants to say Hubs, Kids and the cat … the author in me wants to say laptop, mobile phone, internet connection and lifetime supply of chocolate.
So my four things would be:
i. Solar powered laptop with internet connection.
ii. Small, creepie-crawlie proof shelter.
iii. Glasses and sun hat.
iv. Monthly visit from the hubs, kids, and cat, carrying a suitcase of chocolate …

Twitter: @elainerchissick




Alexandra Dinapoli has everything she could ever wish for, except what she really wants.
Leaving her family behind, she heads for New York City and starts on a journey to make her own way in the world.
Whilst there, she bumps into Gabriel Harland, an enigmatic Chief Assistant District Attorney, with whom she begins a love affair that is cruelly cut short when someone from her past surfaces in Gabriel’s life.
Will their relationship be worth fighting for or will the truth tear them apart?
Join Alexandra on her journey as she discovers the tenderness of new love, the sorrow of losing someone close, the pulse racing suspense of running from the past, the anger of not being in control, and the admission that some sacrifices have to be made for the sake of others.


Snippet from Ties That Bind:
Fourteen Years Ago

“Get. Off. Me. Sal!” I shout as loud as I can.
Sal is sat on the backs of my legs and he’s holding my arms behind my back with only one of his hands.
He’s older than I am; he’s just a year off being an adult and is already stocky and strong. He has me pinned down in the long grass at the bottom of the garden while my four year old younger brother Dante watches, with fear in his eyes.
I struggle like hell against Sal’s grip and I manage to kick my leg back, my heel hitting Sal’s spine. I know I’ve hurt him because he pushes back down on my legs. Crap.
Sal slaps the side of my head from behind me. I don’t see it coming and I wince. He knows how not to leave a mark.
“Leave my sister alone!” Dante shouts, starting to cry.
“Shut it, shrimp, or you’re next.”
Dante stops crying, Sal punches me in the ribs, hard and I gasp for air.
I can hear Mamma calling us for dinner and without another word Sal gets off me, stands up and strides away, heading back towards the house.
“I’m telling Mamma,” I manage to call after him, rolling over onto my back and folding one arm around my ribs, the other around my head.
“I don’t think so,” he calls back.
He knows I won’t tell, the last time I told I ended up with a broken arm after he snapped the brake cable on my bike. At 13 I’ve learnt to keep quiet.
Dante sinks to his knees besides me and rubs at my head with his stubby fingers.
“S’not your fault,” I say, taking my baby brother in my arms and hugging him protectively.
Dante is not like Sal, he’s not like me either. He’s gentle, caring, kind, the sort of child who has to have a full funeral ceremony when he finds a dead baby bird in the garden.
I know that he would never be able to stand up to Sal, so I do it for him; I take the thrashings from Sal that would otherwise leave Dante with more than an aching head and tender ribs.
Dante pushes out of my arms and gets up. He turns on his heel and runs out from the long grass, across the lawn and towards the house.
“Sal, Sal, wait for me…”
I turn and watch them over my shoulder. As Dante reaches level with my brother, Sal stretches out and pushes him to the ground, a little harder than playfully. Dante gets up, laughing and follows my elder brother into the house.
I turn around and wrap my arms around my knees, finally surrendering to my tears, tears for me, tears for Dante. When will he ever learn?