Tuesday Talk: Today I’m chatting to Dorset author Laura E James about writing, dinner guests and being a member of the Romaniacs…

Laura James Choc Lit

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

Hi, Jo. Thank you so much for inviting me to your pad. A little about myself? I’m married to Gajitman and this September sees our twentieth anniversary, I’m a mother to two lovely, funny and caring children, who are growing up far too quickly, and I live on the Jurassic Coast. I have two cats, Daisy, our prim and proper princess cat, and Rascal, our #Splatcat. He gets around a bit on social media.Upside Down

You live in Dorset and have used it as a backdrop for your novels. Is this going to be a continuing theme or do you plan to take your characters farther afield?

I adore the South-West coast. Living close to the sea is good for my soul. It inspires my writing and its vastness gives perspective to the problems life sometimes throws in my direction. I wanted to share that feeling with my characters and readers. My first three Choc Lit books are specific to Chesil Beach and Weymouth and Portland, but book four has wandered a little further afield, but as it stands, is still in Dorset. I love Italy ‒ maybe I should send my heroine there.

You are a member of The Romaniacs – ‘kindred spirits with a love of writing’. Can you tell us about the group and how you all came together?

My wonderful writing sisters. What fabulous women they are. I’m not sure I’d have got this far without them. I first met Catherine through Twitter, our common link being the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. We travelled together to the inaugural Festival of Romance, and that’s where we met Celia, Sue, Lucie and Debbie. If I recall correctly, we had virtually communicated with one another, but we’d not met in real life until that weekend. The RNA Winter Party followed, where we met Vanessa and Jan, and three months later, we started the Romaniacs blog ‒ http://www.theromaniacs.co.uk.
We have been there for each other through good times and bad, waving our pom-poms, or lending an ear and a shoulder, and have become close, family friends. My goodness, these girls can make me laugh so much. I consider myself fortunate to have met them and honoured to have them in my life.

Have you any particular places you would love to visit – ideal bucket list destinations?

I’d love to go to Prague at Christmas time. I have romantic images in my head from pictures I saw when I was younger. I’d wrap up though, as I’m not a fan of cold weather. I’d love to go back to Dubai. My parents worked there in the nineties. Gajitman proposed to me on the Arabian Gulf. Dubai has changed since then and I’d like to see how it is now. I’ve never made it to the Italian lakes. It was a holiday my mum and I were planning before she passed away. One day.

Plotter or Panster? What works best for you?

FM_new flat front 300dpiI change with every book, Jo. My work in progress has been planned to within an inch of its life, but the words aren’t falling from my head to the page. I’m wondering if it’s because I’ve not left enough room for organic growth. With my previous books I had the start and a specific ending, but only a rough idea of the middle. Writing the book was as exciting as reading one ‒ I had to turn the page to find out what happened next. I struggle with timelines, so that’s why I’ve planned book 4. I’m trying to avoid the change the entire structure because the story can’t possibly happen in a week issue. Following What Doesn’t Kill You, where the hero, Griff Hendry, is a coastguard, I’ve vowed never to give my characters shift work again. I have a Paloma Faith calendar for book four’s timeline, but it seems rude to cover her in sticky notes.

Name three of your favourite authors.

Jill Mansell, Jodi Picoult and Erica James. There are many authors I love to read, but these are the three to whom I return and whose books have influenced my writing.

If you could invite five well known people to dinner, who would they be and why?

Kate Bush ‒ I never thought I’d get the chance to see Kate Bush live, but I did in 2014, at the Apollo in London. It was amazing. I have loved this lady’s music since my teens. Her storytelling within her lyrics captivated me and made me want to write songs and poems. I learned about rhyming couplets from Kate Bush. I’d like to ask her about her songs and her inspiration ‒ find out what makes her tick.
Paloma Faith ‒ I’ve been to many Paloma gigs and she is charming, witty and entertaining, not to mention talented. I think we’d have a few laughs. She would certainly ToD Darkget the party started. And I’d apologise for the sticky notes.
Jodi Picoult ‒ an amazing speaker and a writer. I’d share my love of issue-driven novels with her. She is an interesting lady, who speaks with conviction and knowledge on many subjects.
Johhny Depp ‒ He is such a fascinating man. I think his acting skills are extraordinary and I’d like to find out how he goes about getting into character. And I’d do this while looking into those deep, brown eyes …
And I’m back again.
Nigella Lawson ‒ so she can teach me how to cook and how to be sassy. Perhaps, since I’m not a natural chef, Nigella would prepare the meal …

It’s been great chatting with you, Jo ‒ excellent questions. Thank you. I’m wondering if I could make that dinner party happen.

Thank you Laura, a great interview and if you did make your dinner party happen think i would bag a spare seat if there was one going…


Possessing little in the way of domestic skills, and with an insatiable hunger to write, Laura E. James found a much better use than cooking, for the family kitchen. Tucked neatly in one corner is her very small, but very tidy desk from where she produces issue-driven romantic novels, short stories, and flash fiction.
Living in and enjoying the inspirational county of Dorset, Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, a founder of Littoralis, and one eighth of The Romaniacs, the RNA Industry Awards 2015 Media Stars Winner.
Published by Choc Lit, Laura’s debut novel, Truth or Dare? was nominated for the Festival of Romance Best Romantic eBook. Her second novel, Follow Me Follow You was a Lovereading.co.uk editorial selection. What Doesn’t Kill You, the third in the Chesil Beach Book Series, is the first title in Choc Lit’s new Dark imprint ‒ compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.

For further information, go to:

Read an excerpt from Laura’s latest book…

What Doesn't Kill You Laura E James_FRONT_150dpi

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but how strong can one person be?
Griff Hendry knows what it is to be strong. After a turbulent past, he’s dedicated himself to saving lives, working as a coastguard along the breath-taking shores of Dorset. It’s Griff’s belief that everyone is worth saving – which is why he can’t forgive his father, Logan, for what he did.
Griff’s future is plunged into uncertainty when his wife, Evie, tells him she wants a separation. The revelation is a shock and leads Griff to question what Evie could possibly be hiding – and she isn’t the only one holding back. Griff’s troubled stepdaughter, Tess, also harbours a dark secret.
As the truth is uncovered, Griff is forced to accept that perhaps he’s never understood what real strength is.

Chapter One

The white horses of the English Channel were charging head first into the obelisk of Pulpit Rock, their remains spewing onto the cliff tops of Portland Bill, then receding, threatening to drag the winter tourists and spectators into the rough water below.

The wild spray reached as far as the toes of Griff Hendry’s boots, as under the gaze of the red and white striped lighthouse, he stood firm. His instinct was to keep vigil over the families and photo-opportunists gripped by the sight of the huge breakers – people like him, restless and eager to engage with the outside world following the festivities of New Year. It made no difference he was off-duty; his experience as a coastguard and his years of living in West Dorset meant he knew the risk; nature was sometimes a beast – raw, savage, and powerful. She was to be admired, but with reverence. Much like love.
Both could drown you without warning.
He pulled his ranger’s coat tighter as he signalled to a man with two small boys to retreat from the brink of the cliff. The wind was gaining strength, and the desperate waves were grasping at the land. One violent gust and the sea would snatch the weakest person away.
‘Get back,’ Griff shouted. ‘You’re too close to the edge.’
As he returned his attention to the water, he saw the worst possible scenario unfolding. A massive swell was heading directly for the Bill. And directly for the children.
‘Move!’ he yelled, covering the distance between him and the boys in seconds. He turned away from the onslaught, propelled the older child to the man, and grabbed the toddler. He thrust them forward, crashed on to the grass, and arched over the young boy, protecting him from the briny storm. He remained there until the noise of shifting shingle ceased, then he brushed the startled lad’s fringe from his eyes, and gave a smile of reassurance. ‘Okay?’
The boy stared.
Griff pushed away from the ground, wiped his wet hands along his thighs, and helped his ward to his feet. Crouching at the boy’s level, he checked him over. ‘Are you hurt?’ Silence. ‘No broken bones?’ Still no reply. ‘Can you lift your arms like this?’ Griff raised his hands over his head, made a play of losing his balance, and launched himself onto his backside. The resulting squelch and Griff’s exaggerated call of ‘Oh, man!’ produced the desired response; the boy’s fixed expression broke with a chuckle.
Having risen to his full height, Griff turned to the father. ‘He’s a little stunned, and his back is soaked, but he’ll be fine.’ He handed the lad over and accepted the nod of thanks the equally wet man offered. ‘It’s as dangerous as it is beautiful here,’ said Griff. ‘More so on days like this. Best to keep safe.’
As he waved to the departing father and boys, his thoughts turned to his own family. He’d kept a close vigil over them, but the undercurrents were far more subtle than in any ocean. From riding high on wave after wave of ecstasy, his relationship with Evie had sunk without trace.
And Griff hadn’t seen it coming.
He needed Evie to talk, to tell him what the problem was so he could fix it, but communication was limited. Her usual reply was a shrug, or a silent diversion, and the more he pushed, the further she withdrew. The death blow came when Griff finally forced the issue with a question. A foolish, instantly regretted question. ‘Is it because of someone else?’
Evie, her green eyes fading to a silky grey, turned away and breathed her word into life. ‘Yes.’
It was after that she asked Griff to leave.
The fact it had been a week before Christmas – the week before the third anniversary of the day they met – proved to Griff the extent of Evie’s distress. Had she been thinking straight, she’d have put the children first, and she’d have kept the family together for the holidays at the very least.
There had to be more to the situation than she was letting on.
Griff raised his collar. Where had it all gone wrong?
The fortnight he’d already spent apart from her felt like a lifetime. Together for three years and married for just half that, the end was hard to accept.
‘I should be here with you, and Tess and Dylan,’ he said, the squall whisking his words out to sea. ‘And Ozzy.’ He’d lost count of the number of times he’d turned to call his dog to heel. Walking the Bill wasn’t the same without the lumbering beast hurtling around, making Dylan squeal. Or without Evie’s hand to hold. He even missed Tess’s teenage objections to taking some exercise. As the icy, January spray whipped Griff’s cheek, he stepped back, stiffness in his ankle eliciting a sharp intake of breath. He flexed his foot, releasing the old memory seizing his bones.
At sixteen, he’d jumped from Pulpit Rock.
It was that jump that broke his ankle.
It was that day he lost his best friend to the undersea rocks.
Twenty-four years on, and Griff hadn’t forgiven himself for allowing it to happen.
And he wouldn’t forgive himself if he lost Evie.
He raked his fingers through his hair and flicked the glacial drips to the ground. He’d grown tired of battling the gale for his hood, but his resolve to fight for his wife, his family, the life he loved, was greater than ever.


As I don’t use my blog as an electronic diary of events in my life, I have to come up with different topics each week to write about.  Inspiration can sometimes be incredibly slow, either that or suitable subjects suddenly become not so suitable.  This weekend was one of those occasions.  Something I’d thought would make a good subject completely dried up on me, leaving me totally adrift.  It was only in the early hours of this morning when I woke up that I decided to wander back to the subject of holidays.

I think some of the most memorable holidays aren’t the ones where you jet off and lie peacefully in the sun for a fortnight. They are the ones where strange, quirky things happen.  Like going on a sherry tour in Herez, Spain when one of the group got shut in the tasting room and left behind.  He was a little South American guy who was visiting Spanish relatives.  We’d finished tasting the various types of sherry and the guide had ushered us all out and locked the door. We were making our way down the corridor when his friends realised he was missing.  Returning to the tasting room, there he was, perched on a stool downing yet another glass of sherry, obviously making the most of his captivity!  Here are a few more memorable incidents:

Beggar’s Banquet

We were in Spain on holiday one year sitting outside a restaurant in Malaga having lunch.  Along comes this guy on crutches and stops at each table begging for food.  I couldn’t believe it when he reached our table and leaning on his crutches indicated he would be grateful if we offered him some of the food we had there. We indicated no very politely and he moved on.  Moments later I happened to look up and saw someone on one of the other tables handing him several Euro notes from his wallet. Thanking him the guy hobbled away. Reaching the end of the building he stopped, tucked his crutches under his arm and ran off!

Arachnophobia in France

CNV00025 (597x400)In 2005 we rented a farmhouse in the Dordogne.  It was miles from anywhere with no near neighbours – so relaxing and peaceful. The British couple who were renovating it retreated to a caravan in a small wood which bordered the property whenever they had paying guests but were always on hand if needed. In the kitchen to the left of the sink was a very small blue enamel bucket. On the first morning I took a look inside – andFarmhouse Kitchen (429x640) wished I hadn’t.  There nestling in the bottom was one of the largest spiders I had ever seen.  Our friends were still in the process of getting up so I got my husband to eject the thing, knowing like me, our friend’s wife Jan absolutely hated spiders.  At home although I don’t like them – too many legs and a nasty habit of homing in on you as if they can sense your fear – I can generally deal with a spider situation.  No way was I getting involved with this large black thing though.  So my husband launched it into the nearest flower bed and that was that.  Only it wasn’t.  The next morning it was back and the morning after that. It became known as the Homing Spider and in the end in desperation we took to leaving the bucket outside the back door and that seemed to work – it was happy there.

How Much?

During the week we visited the local market in Le Buge, our nearest town.  An amazing experience not only for the food but other things, like an old mobile horse-box converted to carry all these amazing grandfather clocks!  Us girls sent the men off to get some cheese.  Not a difficult task you would think.  Meeting up later when we asked about the cheese there were guilty glances before they produced a very large thin segment which had obviously been cut from a truckle. ‘That’s enough to last the whole week.’ I observed looking at it. ‘We did sample before we bought. It’s very tasty.’ came the enthusiastic reply, not that it had anything to do with my comment. The embarrassed glances continued. ‘How much did it cost?’ Jan asked curiously. ‘Oh, you know…’ Two voices blended mumbling different amounts. ‘How much?’I asked as we both stared at our men. ‘Only Thirteen Euros.’ My husband decided to come clean, brushing off the extortionate price with a smile as if he’d got a bargain.  I opened my mouth and got as far as ‘Only…’ ‘But it really great cheese.’  My husband enthusiasm drowned me out, solidly backed by Jan’s husband’s agreeing nod.   ‘You’ll love it.’ He said. End of argument as far as they were concerned and the expressions on their faces dared us to say otherwise.  Jan and I looked at each other, shook our heads and walked away.  Now if we girls had paid such an extravagant price for cheese we would have never heard the last of it but as I’ve learned over the years men have a habit of setting their own rules don’t they?


Spanish Dancing and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Afternoon

 During the same holiday as our sherry tasting in Herez we also spent a few days in Seville.  We booked into a hotel in the north of the city within ten minutes walk of the centre.  On our first morning we took off after breakfast for sightseeing.  Arriving at the Plaza d’Espana we stopped to watch a small group of young women wearing colourful flamenco costumes and dancing on a raised platform.  The music was coming  from a tape on a large portable radio set in one corner of the platform.  A crowd had gathered to listen and everyone was joining in, clapping.  The music is very passionate and energetic accompanied by feet stamping and a lot of that was going on.  It took me a moment to realise the stamping sound was coming from the tape because unbelievably all these girls were wearing trainers under their costumes!

Moving on we spent the morning taking in the sights and stopped for lunch before beginning our trek back to the hotel.  And then we found a friend.  I don’t know where this dog, an Alsatian cross, came from but no matter what discouragement was given it simply would not go away.  My husband and our friends decided to stop hoping it would get bored and wander off.  Me, on the other hand, who can only really deal with small dogs, kept walking.  The dog trotted pass the other three and started closing in on me.  Up close it seemed friendly and quite harmless. Of course, my new best friend caused a lot of amusement and in the end we gave up and just continued with our journey.  On imagesZOE55CBHreaching the hotel the dog followed us in and settled itself quite comfortably on the marble floor of the reception area.  I thought someone might have shooed it out but no one did, in fact the staff found it a bowl of water making me wonder whether this dog had latched onto unsuspecting tourists before. When we came down again later it had gone.  My overactive writer’s imagination left me wondering whether I had just missed out getting myself my own personal Game of Thrones Direwolf.


I’m Bulgaria Air – Fly Me

And finally, last year an absolutely priceless moment.  We had booked a week in Lake Garda, Italy for September.  Two months after the booking Tui, the holiday company, transferred the flight to an Italian airline.  We didn’t have a problem with that but we did with the change in flight departure times.   Outward was at midday, the same as our original Thomson flight but our new return journey meant we had to leave the hotel at 6am in the morning to get to Verona Airport. On departure day we  arrived at Bristol Airport and checked in our luggage. Eventually we were called to the gate for boarding.  Everyone got on the bus and it pulled away, taking us off to the western edge of the airport.   It drove past this plane and everyone was commenting about it. How old it was and ‘laughs’ who was going to be flying out on that then?  Actually it turned out we were!  Apparently our scheduled plane had to be pulled in for a service and the Bulgarian plane was called in to cover.  The shocked and in some cases horrified expressions on faces as the bus pulled up to the bottom of the plane steps was, as I said above, priceless.  Some people even thought it was a hoax.   I have to say despite it being an older jet we had a smooth flight and the cabin crew,  although having limited English, did a great job of looking after us.


So that’s it for now.  I’ll be back next Sunday.  In the meantime have a good week everyone!



untitled909Wednesday 7th May 2014

I’m in trouble! My Sunday blog slot has slipped yet again.  The problem is I tend to get so engrossed in writing and so tied up with where my story is, what the characters are doing and the dialogue for each scene that everything else goes out of the window!  However, this evening I’ve left my fictitious places and my characters frozen in time, waiting to be defrosted and brought back to life tomorrow morning.  Instead I’m planning to spend this evening writing something for the blog.

Topics are always difficult.  I don’t think I could undertake a daily blog, unless it was some sort of diarised thing about my life in general. However, normal life as lived in the suburbs has very little high drama, although a few weeks ago we did have a power cut which blew out two local pole mounted electricity transformers – huge explosion, flames, smoke and the eventual arrival of two fire tenders – I’m still trying to work out why we women find firemen so sexy but oh we do and the guys who arrived did not disappoint! Tonight with a holiday coming up in 16 days time I thought I’d share the occasions I’ve been the holiday albatross – you know the person who for whatever reason manages to almost wreck  a well planned vacation.

The first time I was honoured with this title was in 2006.  We were due to fly out to Corfu on the Monday and on late Saturday afternoon I was in the garden trying out a new camera.  My other half was being his usual helpful self standing on the balcony outside the dining room issuing instructions. Things like  ‘stand to the left a bit’ and ‘what about a shot of that?’  When our resident feline appeared and settled itself on the patio I heard ‘Go on, take one of the cat’ followed by ‘move closer, you’ll get a better shot.’  So I stepped from the lawn, across the border and onto the patio.  Simple?  Well not when you end up in the water feature!  What I fell over I have no idea, but one moment I was upright, the next sprawled in the wet with a gentle spray of water raining down on me. My other half shot down the steps to the garden to rescue…me?  Don’t be silly – the camera of course!  He did eventually help me up and as soon as I put my foot to the floor I knew I had a problem.  However, after walking around the lawn for a while the pain eased and my foot appeared to be  OK. False alarm I thought with a sigh of relief.  I went back to doing the normal pre-holiday stuff – sorting packing out, cooking supper, watching some TV and everything seemed fine.  However, when I woke on Sunday morning, my foot was swollen and I couldn’t put it to the floor.  After breakfast I was driven to ED which was surprisingly empty apart from three others all hobbling like me!  It must have been one of those falling over and wrecking your foot weekends!

After being booked in by the Triage Nurse and having an x-ray, I was advised I had a badly bruised foot and should take regular painkillers and keep my weight off it for a while.  ‘But I’m about to go on holiday, flying to Corfu tomorrow morning.’ I explained. Well make the most of it, get one of those airport buggy things to take you to the plane was the cheerful response.  I ignored their attempt at humour and my other half’s misgivings, asking whether we ought not to cancel.  The stubborn little Taurean bull in me was determined to go so I took regular painkillers and rested as best I could. By Monday morning with the bottom of my foot turning black, and me still full of cussed determination I fell into the taxi and made that flight! Everything went well and my limited mobility did not intrude into what was essentially a relaxing by the pool holiday.  One of the downsides my injury brought to this holiday,  however, was the fact  that all the time we were there, although the foot did get better I couldn’t wear heels – and that is a must for me.  I need high heels like I need to breathe! Even worse because I needed to support my foot it was impossible to even look at sandals. Instead I found myself spending the whole week in…trainers.  Now this is OK during the day, but when you’re planning to glam yourself up each evening to go out Nikes are a bit of a no-no.  Worse still, the wife of the couple we were with, without exception, always looks very glamorous. So wearing the bits of my holiday wardrobe which could cope with trainers I ended up feeling a bit like Cinderella before the fairy godmother hit town!

My next albatross moment was in the summer of 2010.  Again we were with the same couple and had driven down to North Devon for the husband’s birthday to this fabulous small hotel.  We got there late afternoon, unpacked, had a wander around and then went back to get ready to venture out for an evening meal.  My other half decides to take the first shower.  I’m reading.  He comes out of the shower towelling his hair and telling me he’s finished.  I close down the Kindle get off the bed walk around it to the shower room… straight into a chair leg.  Small toe on left foot very painful and going numb.  Examining my foot I’m sure this isn’t simply a case of the usual stubbed toe, it’s rather more serious than that.  So again I had to forsake my heels. This time, however, I managed to avoid the dreaded trainers discovering I could get into loafers which left me feeling slightly less of a fashion nightmare.  The next day my toe was still very painful (although not swollen) and as a precaution I anchored it with sticking plaster to its neighbour.  For that long weekend a box of plasters became my new best friend and again on painkillers I managed to keep mobile.  Returning home I visited ED again, wondering if this second visit qualified me for some sort of  loyalty card, and had it confirmed that the toe was broken and would take several weeks to heal.  They were impressed, however, at my first aid abilities.  Small toes cannot  be put in a plaster cast so using sticking plaster was the correct procedure for this (although I had no idea it was broken at the time).  Brownie points to me then!

My third and final pre-holiday horror was back in March this year.  Trouble comes in threes, so I’m hopeful this is my last brush with the accident fairy.  It was the day before we were due to fly out to Guernsey.  Some misguided idea brought me into the garden to sort out the bird feeder in one of the trees there.  Once refilled, I needed to secure the lid to the feeder before pulling it back up to hang among the branches.  Again I have no idea what happened.  One moment I was reaching up, the next I was lying flat on my back in a bed of daffodils. I think maybe the fact it was muddy and slightly slippery underfoot had something to do with it.  It all happened so quickly and in retrospect that was probably a good thing.  If I’d been aware of falling I would have probably tried to save myself and maybe made everything far worse. In those first few moments as I was lying there I remembered that one of our neighbours had ended up like this  just before Christmas when she was supporting the bottom of a ladder for her husband.  One of the rungs broke and he fell, pinning her to the ground.  She was injured quite badly and spent three days in hospital followed by a string of appointments with a consultant over damage to her lower back.  Looking up at the sky as I lay among the daffodils I closed my eyes and thought  ‘Oh please, no.’  Pushing myself up slowly I managed to get to my feet and walk back into the house. No apparent damage had been done, maybe the daffodils and soft earth had cushioned my fall, who knows?  Anyway I wasn’t taking any chances so had a very hot shower, rubbed in some pain relief and swallowed down a couple of paracetamol.  Gradually as the day progressed I felt better, but I kept up the medication for the next forty-eight hours.  The holiday was fine, we walked a lot which I think helped and by the time we flew home thankfully everything was back to normal.  Of course it could have been so very different – happily it seems I do have a guardian angel up there watching over me!

If you check the above dates it appears my potential for pre-holiday accidents is on a four-year cycle.  So this means I should be able to relax until 2018 – yes?   Well no actually, after this there’s no way I’m going to be taking my eye off the ball and becoming blasé.  These things happen so easily and when you least expect them – so from now on I’m definitely keeping a careful watch on where I put my feet or any other parts of my anatomy which may cause chaos!

See you next week.



The Other Side of Morning Promo Blitz…

TheOtherSideOfMorning_MEDIUM WEB



Writing a book provides as much escapism for the writer as it does for the reader who will eventually download it on their Kindle or purchase in Waterstones or some other high street book store.  It’s a world where you create the characters and events and are in total control.  You call the shots, you make things happen; it’s your vision, your dream.

Writing is also a very individual thing and a book can come together in many different ways. Some people plot extensively before beginning; others see the blank screen as the first step on an open road.  A journey they don’t have a map for.  For me writing is organic, there is a structure but within that everything else is very fluid.  When you start to write some things work, some don’t and you have to be prepared for that, go with a flexible and open mind and be willing to make changes if necessary.

Two aspects which are essential before you set out are backdrop and characters.  You need to be able to ‘see’ where you are and identify the people you are writing about.  I’m not sure I could simply make things up – I’m sure some people do – but for me there has to be a tie in with reality. The village of Meridan Cross which is central to all five of my novels is based loosely on the village where I live. Using a real village as a template made it much easier to visualise the geography of the whole place – similar to using Google Street View.   Of course Meridan Cross village is much smaller but what I created provided just the right framework for my fictional backdrop to make the whole thing feel very authentic as I wrote.


Right, that’s the setting out of the way, now what about the characters?  Well for the main characters I tend to bring together different aspects of real people to incorporate into their indiviudal personalities.  I think to a certain extent you can dream up peripheral players straight off the top of your head because you don’t require depth for ‘walk on’ parts. However I find that scenario simply does not work if you try it with your main protagonists.  Central characters need substance.

With The Other Side of Morning, the fifth and  final book in the series (which can incidentally be read as a stand-alone novel), most of the familiar faces were making a comeback so this meant setting up the characters for the story was going to be easy – right?  Well no actually, there was more to it than that. For this new novel I had decided to move the family on six years and focus on the now twenty -something cousins Charlotte and Lucy. At the end of book four they had been 17 and 18 and there was a need to look at what had happened over that six years and write it into their character profiles to create the people they now were. However, one of the really important changes needed within the existing cast was to Christian Rosetti who had also  featured in the previous novel.  No longer Matt Benedict’s young protégé poised for stardom he was now a huge international rock star with an ego to match.  He still had his dark good looks now backed by an amazing on stage presence which has spawned a huge world-wide female following.  Sadly the warm, self-effacing 20 year old had now morphed into an arrogant and selfish womanising celebrity. As the story opens we find Christian in a gradually deteriorating relationship with Charlotte.  Caught between his need for freedom and the inability to let her go, his drug habit is making him angry, possessive and controlling.  With the arrival of new central character,  handsome Italian Marco D’Alesandro things are about to get much worse.

Now  I’ve always been resistant to creating male beauty in any of my novels; for me it simply doesn’t sit right in my virtual world.  Attractive men are not necessarily handsome, but on this occasion that is exactly what I wanted in my new central male character.  However if I was going to throw the rule book out of the window  for this novel and give Marco incredible looks I knew he had to have more than a just pretty face to appeal to readers.

After a lot of deliberation his character profile looked like this:


  • 26 years of age
  • Born in Milan
  • Mother died when he was 18 months old
  • Pre-university education in England
  • Speaks English, Italian and German
  • Has a business degree and a Masters in Food Management.
  • Is based in London, running the European restaurant chain for his father’s international hotel and leisure group.
  • Is successful, taking the D’Alesandro’s flagship restaurant San Raffaello’s from basic Italian bistro to three star Michelin eatery; one of the best dining experiences in the UK’s capital.
  • Is a team player, often turning up at San Raffaello’s and working alongside his staff.
  • Is hard working and committed, aware of his future role as head of D’Alesandro Hotels and Leisure..
  • Has great respect for his father and stepmother Thérèse, even though she does nothing to hide her dislike for him.
  • Is quietly confident and has great charm
  • Oh and of course he’s great in bed!

Well that’s all the positives sorted, but there had to be a sting in the tail, something that would humanise this perfect man.  The Achilles’ Heel was that despite having the looks and charm to guarantee him any woman he wants his love life has not been a great success.  Since arriving in London nine months ago he has made some bad choices and ended up with shallow, pretty women only interested in the places he can take them and how much money he is willing to spend on them.  So he’s currently taking a step back from relationships – until the evening he meets Charlotte and the scene is set for the tangle that is to become their lives.

Santiago CabreraRight! Back to the character creation; now he’s fully fleshed, whose shell will he inhabit while I write? Because you see  I always have a muse for my central male characters, someone I can pin onto the notice board in the office as general guide to their looks. For Christian I had already chosen Aidan Turner, who with those wonderfully arched eyebrows fitted the rock god image perfectly.  For Marco I didn’t have to do too much thinking either. I’ve been a fan of Chilean born actor Santiago Cabrera since his Isaac Mendez days in Heroes.  Not only did he look right with those amazing brown eyes, his BBC Merlin character Launcelot mirrored many of the characteristics in Marco’s profile.  Decision made, a picture of Santiago soon  joined Aidan on the office wall.   Perfect.

Ah but I know someone Antonio Cupo (2)is going to challenge me about this because leading up to the Promo Blitz I was asked to do a few interviews.  On two occasions one of the questions was ‘if the film rights were acquired for the book who would you choose to play your characters?’  Now when books become films those who make the decisions on casting rarely see the characters with the same eyes as the writer. Many a good book translated into film has been ruined by (in my opinion) the wrong casting.  The 1983 version of Colleen McCullough’s Thorn Birds and Richard Chamberlain as Ralph De Bricassart is one that comes to mind. Despite that  I decided if this was going to be a film then I’d dispense with the writer’s hat and  make my choice through the eyes of a casting director and as Marco is Italian, then maybe it would be more appropriate if an Italian took the role.  Not able to get involved in screen tests I simply Googled ‘Handsome Young Italian Actors’ and chose Antonio Cupo who more than all the rest seemed to have the qualities I was looking for in a screen version of Marco. That is the reason behind the two versions!

So, was I wrong to choose another actor for the film?  Should I have stayed with Santiago?  Or is Antonio a good choice?  Both very beautiful men.  Thoughts please!

And with that at 8.00 pm on a Friday evening I must leave you to get ready for the big day tomorrow.  Remember – dress code is glam! Right, now off to sort out that dress!






In Praise of the Singer/Songwriter…

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Continuing the music theme, this week as promised it’s the turn of singer/songwriters.  I’m absolutely in awe of anyone who can write a song.  A book is one thing and don’t get me wrong, writing is hard work.  It takes time and a hell of a lot of patience and I enjoy it because I have a love affair with words, the story playing as a choreography in my head as I write.  But to be able to combine words with melody? Now that really is something else.

img055Last week when I finished my first post I made a list of all the singer/songwriters I’ve found quite inspirational.  I guess Lennon and McCartney have to figure prominently because for me they started it all.   OK in the beginning the songs were very simplistic, the boy meets girl falling in love/break up stuff like She Loves You and I Should Have Known Better but gradually their repertoire developed – musical stories like She’s Leaving Home, Eleanor Rigby, amusing songs like An Octopus’s Garden and When I’m Sixty Four and soulful compositions (my favourites) – For No One, The Long and Winding Road and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. 

After Lennon and McCartney came The Moody Blues.  I had a long-term love affair with the band’s music, helped to some extent by their good looking front man and song writer Justin Hayward.  Here we’d moved on from lyrics and melody and now had the addition of amazing guitar work.  That I think was the imagesDO4Z5A3Apivotal moment I fell in love with rock music. Justin was an amazing writer whose versatility enabled him to write haunting ballads like Nights in White Satin and Forever Autumn alongside rock numbers such as Question and I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band. In concert they were amazing.

I soon developed a real appetite for rock music although not all bands appealed.  One essential ingredient was melody so hard rock bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon were firmly off the list while acts like Asia, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Bad English, Roxy Music,  Whitesnake, The Blessing and Bon Jovi definitely ticked the box.  Along the way my tastes expanded into more contemporary singer/songwriters like Paul Carrack (Ace, Squeeze & Mike & the Mechanics), American Jackson Browne, Australians Darren Hayes (Savage Garden) and Iva Davies (Ice House) and Justin Currie of Scottish band Del Amitri who were all added to my CD library.  And taking the list beyond the nineties, artists like James Morrison, The Stereophonics, Keane, Green Day and The Killers are also now part of my music collection.

However, the one song which has stayed with me all through the years is by an artist not many people know.  An English singer/songwriter called Al Stewart had a successful career in the States in the seventies and I’ve always loved his blend of lyrics and music.  Time Passages and On The Border are two of his better known airplay tracks but all in all he never received the following here that he did in the  US. Year of the Cat, which is the only one of his songs to chart in the UK, in 1977, is my personal favourite not only for the story it tells but from the quality of the lyrics and musical arrangement.  So I leave you all with this and hope you enjoy it as much as I always do.  Back in a week’s time!

Teri Riggs – Resolutions


 First of all many thanks to Jonty for asking me to join this Promo-Blitz for Terri Riggs and for sending me a copy of the book and a media pack for the review.

DEA agent Eve Taylor is a woman working in a predominately male environment.  She’s good at her job but when a mission goes sadly wrong she is taken prisoner. Resolutions, a company which specialises in hostage retrieval send Operative Dillon McKenna to rescue her. ‘Mac’ as he is known, is Eve’s ex-lover who parted company with Eve two years ago when he made her choose between him and her job.  Now he not only has to rescue her from Columbian Drug Baron Mendoza who has taken her prisoner, he also has to make sure he retrieves the flash drive carrying crucial information about the Drug Baron’s activities which are a potential threat to national security.  To add to his difficulties someone within Resolution is working for Mendoza and passing information on the duo’s whereabouts, so when Mac successfully frees Eve they find themselves playing a cat and mouse game with his thugs.

I really enjoyed this book; okay it was violent but given the subject material it was bound to be and I didn’t have any issues with that.  Eve is a real kick-ass female and Mac a protective alpha male. While Eve and Mac are trying to escape Mendoza’s men and locate the flash drive, they also have to deal with other more personal issues.  He is very protective of her; he loves her and his objections to her job come from his still raw memories of losing his own mother on active service in Iraq.  Eve on the other hand sees his reluctance to accept her chosen occupation as a purely chauvinistic one.  The attraction is still there and they soon reignite their physical relationship. However, that only goes part way to solving their problems.  The situations they have to cope with as the story unfolds slowly bring them both to new conclusions about each other and an eventual resolution – the book is well titled.

It’s well written and I had no idea who was working for Mendoza – there were a few clever character twists to keep me guessing.  All in all if you like a strong female lead in a sexy action read which keeps you turning pages then I can thoroughly recommend this book.  Definitely an Amazon five star read!


My Writing Process

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Well this week it’s a complete departure from the norm as I’m taking part in the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour.  My thanks to the lovely Gilli Allan for inviting me. I will be trying to answer the following 4 questions: What am I working on? How does my work differ from others of its genre? Why do I write what I do? How does my writing process work?

Sadly  as I was unable to find other writers to take up the torch as far as I am concerned my input to the blog tour ends here.  However, I am sure if you take a look at Gilli’s other two nominees, http://sandranachlinger.blogspot.com  and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jenny-Twist-Author/291166404240446 you will find the journey continues.  It appears I live in a fairly tight circle of colleagues who were either already ‘bagged’ by someone else or were unfortunately too busy to join in. However, I do hope you enjoy my offering and please do take a look at Sandra and Jenny’s blogs as I’m sure you will find them most entertaining.

What am I working on?

Currently I’m around 70,000 words into my sixth book.  This time I’m working with new characters as my Little Court series ended with The Other Side of Morning, due to be published shortly. It was a little daunting to begin all over again with a blank canvas but it’s surprising how once an idea strikes it can be developed into something quite exciting.

The title for the new book has been finalised – Summer Moved On – and I have commissioned the cover although it’s under wraps at the moment.  I find it provides me with a great incentive to get on with the writing – if I have the cover then the book has to be written, it’s as simple as that.  What’s it about?  Well it’s a love story in two parts.  In the first part which takes place in 2007 my two main characters meet and fall in love, even though everything about who they are and where they come from is loaded against their relationship. However, the events of one September evening bring about a very painful ending to that love affair, leaving both of them feeling hurt and betrayed.  They go their separate ways, one to university and the other on a journey to discover their true identity.  Six years later fate brings them back together again.  They are now very different people whose changes in fortune mean they might have a chance together. Unfortunately the individual who was instrumental in ending their relationship is also back and determined to stop that happening.

So far, apart from a becalmed moment over the Christmas period – probably due to too much alcohol – this whole book, I am pleased to say, is progressing quite nicely.


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Firstly what am I – a saga writer or a romantic novelist?  Well I tend to straddle both genres.  However the tag ‘saga’ always brings to mind authors like Catherine Cookson and Barbara Taylor Bradford and my books are nothing like theirs.  Again the word ‘romance’ gives us huge food for thought – Mills and Boon, Chick lit, Hen lit, Rom Com, Contemporary.  Well I guess if anything I’ve been gradually moving in the contemporary direction, certainly if reviews of Between Today and Yesterday are anything to go by.

Now how does my work differ?  Well someone once said my Little Court books were like soaps and was quick to explain she didn’t mean my work resembled that of Coronation Street or East Enders, no it was all about the structure of my stories which created the need for big casts – and yes there are rather a lot of people who have prominent parts in the five novels.   In fact in the Behind Blue Eyes trilogy which started the series I actually put a cast list in the front of each of the three books to help the reader.   However, the Little Court series which did need that huge cast of characters and identified me as someone who had wandered away from the traditional romance/saga format, has now come to an end.  So what to do next?  A similar series with a new family?  It would have been safe to do that wouldn’t it?  Okay different family and setting but a familiar template with no real surprises. But writing for me is all about developing and growing and taking chances.  I’m not saying more of the same isn’t good if that is what you are truly happy with, but I wanted to move on into something completely different.  Since Between Today and Yesterday  there had been a definite move towards more contemporary romance so it seemed natural to complete the  journey and produce a stand alone twenty first century story with the focus very much on the two central characters.  And after that?  Well who knows, that’s the exciting part of being a writer, the unexpected.   All I do know is that I will never stray from romantic fiction, it’s what I do best.  The stories may vary, but it will always be about love.

Why do I write what I do?

When I came to start writing commercially I guess I wanted to create something that was unique and not like other novels I had read.  I wanted to write romance, that was a definite but my kind of romance with my ‘must have’  – a strong female lead.   It’s the kind of genre I’m most comfortable with.  Recently I was chatting to a friend who happened to have her mother with her. ‘Why don’t you write a good thriller?  I like thrillers.’ Her mother said.  Yes, well it would be great to do that, but for me writing is not only a craft, it’s an emotive thing.  You have to gravitate towards what inspires you most and for me romance does just that.

I also have to thank those long gone American soaps Dallas and Dynasty for giving me one very important element to my writing.  Yes, okay, they were pretty superficial butimagesFSSU7JPF they had the brilliantly ‘bad’ characters – J R Ewing and Alexis Carrington.  Every week you could guarantee these two were involved in some devious plan imagesH5EQQWJ5to upset the tranquillity of others’ lives.  Step forward Melissa Carpenter, Marcie Maguire and in my soon to be published The Other Side of Morning Thérèse  D’Alesandro and Kayte O’Farrell  -yes a double dose in the new book!   For me these women – and they always have to be women as bad guys simply don’t work for me – are an essential member of the cast; the love-to-hate characters hell bent on disruption or destruction.  I reel them out, let them have their moment in the sun and then haul them back in because – ah I forgot to mention that in my books the good guys always win.

How does my writing process work?

DSCF2983I have an office with a desk, a PC (thank heavens for Sticky Notes the electronic version of Post Its), a card index where I have created details of both my current cast and their environment – and of course music.  I have extensive playlists which I use regularly as music is an absolute must have when I write.  It’s works on two levels, either creating a place in my mind or inspiring the interaction of characters in a particular scene.  On rare occasions I do have days when silence is preferable, but this very much depends on the scene I’m writing.

Yes I do write every day, sometimes the ‘force’ is with me and I can have an amazingly successful run, other days not so good so if the inspiration dries up I simply go back to revision work.   Although I do not have a writing plan as such, I do keep a card index of descriptions of locations and characters for each book I write which is a handy reference.

With every single book I’ve started with a beginning and an end and a vague idea of what happens on the journey from one to the other.  However, my initial thoughts and scribbled  notes before I start are very often merely the guiding beacons along the way.  None of my published novels have ended up the way they first came into my head.  I think for me it’s a good way to write.  Personally, tying myself in to a writing plan from start to finish is not for me.  There is always a danger that some scenes work well in my head but when typed up for whatever reason do not.   Of course we writers are all different and we use our own individual sat navs to get us from the beginning to the end of our novel. However for me personally it’s an open journey with the horizon ahead and a flexible approach to what comes next.

Shine On Award


The SHINE ON Award

7 Random Things About Me

Posted on November 23rd 2013

by  Jo Lambert

I’m proud to be the recipient of the prestigious SHINE ON Award in the ‘books inspired by music’ category. In order to accept the honour bestowed upon me by fellow Canadian writer Melanie Robertson King, I have to share seven random bits of information about me with you – my readers.  So for better or worse here they are:-

One)  I’ve been married twice and both my husbands have the same star sign – Pisces.

Two) I have never changed my initials.  No, it’s not that I preferred to keep my maiden name after marrying, both my husbands just happened to have surnames beginning with the same letter as mine.  As a child I owned a small brown case which had belonged to my father and had his initials  – which incidentally were the same three as mine – set into the lid.  I remember telling my grandmother on more than one occasion that these initials were never going to change, I would always have them.  This pronouncement, however, had absolutely nothing to do with eventual my choice of husband. A little spooky though, don’t you think?

Three) I sat next to Jamie Cullum in the cinema.  It was a long time ago at the beginning of his career; he was with his family and I remember he demolished a very large tub of popcorn through the film!

Four) I have a complete aversion to men’s ginger suede shoes. Not wanting to go too deeply into this, but years ago when I worked in Bristol for an international building company one of the guys in the office behaved in a way to women that would absolutely not be allowed today – and got away with it.  He wore ginger suede shoes and every time I see anyone wearing anything remotely similar, it brings back memories of that particular office predator.

Five) I am a member of MENSA with an IQ of 151.

Six) I adore cats. I’ve owned 8 at different times in my life. My favourite has to be Ziggy, a half Burmese boy who became diabetic at the age of 10 and had to be put to sleep two years later when insulin shots failed to control the disease.  A great loss, miss him very much – he was almost human!Intense Ziggy (640x480)

Seven) Like Melanie I could not exist without chocolate.  It’s my absolute downfall as I can definitely identify with ‘a minute in the mouth a month on the hips’ . I do tend to damp down on my sweet tooth, only indulging at Christmas.  Now if they could make a low calorie chocolate that tasted like the naughty variety I’d be in absolute heaven!

So that’s it, seven random things about me. Read Melanie’s SHINE ON random personal facts on her Celtic Connexions blog found via: www.melanierobertsonking.com

I have to confess this SHINE ON award has been so popular that most of the writers I know have already opted to join under someone else’s banner.  Therefore I am only able to pass the baton for this award to my good friend and writing colleague Kit Domino, Writer and Artist, Author of Every Step of the Way.  However if I do manage to enlist the support of any others I will rope them in and let you all know the details.

If it’s Tuesday it must be…

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Tuedays are earmarked as a day out for both my OH and me.  Usually it’s a drive out to a local pub for lunch and maybe a wander around the nearest town or country footpaths afterwards depending on where we are eating.  Today was a little different, a bit of a trek back in time.  Our destination was Marlborough.

When I was eleven years old I passed my eleven plus and started at Marlborough Grammar School. Marlborough, for those who aren’t acquainted with the geography of Wiltshire, is a provincial town on the A4 between Calne to the west and Hungerford to the east with Savernake Forest sitting to the south.  Its charter was granted in 1214 and it is the home of Marlborough College, a co-educational public school whose fees can set you back around £32,000 a year.   The name of the town is derived from Merlin’s Barrow as legend has it he was buried here – OK I know what you’re saying, isn’t he supposed to be buried in Glastonbury?   The town’s motto is Ubi nunc sapientis ossa MerliniWhere now are the bones of wise Merlin.   More plausibly,however, the town’s name probably derives from the medieval term for chalky ground “marl” – thus “town on chalk”.  Marlborough also boasts the widest high street in the UK.

As someone who had grown up cycling to the next village to school, starting senior school was a total culture shock.  At the age of eleven I suddenly found myself catching four trains a day, two there and two back, a round trip of 30 miles.  Scary?  Well maybe for a while, but I soon got used to it and grew to love the journeys, especially as the small train which took us from Savernake High Level to Marlborough was quite sweet like Thomas the Tank Engine!

I only spent one year at the grammar school.  During that time they were constructing a new fit-for-purpose building on the edge of the town.  The new school was necessary because basically the current 500+ pupils needed more space.  When the grammar school vacated it was taken over by the local junior school which also had a pupil expansion problem. Little did I know that experiencing life in a new school would happen, but not in quite the way I had foreseen.  By the time I started my second year I was 28 miles west in Bradford on Avon after a family move.  For a while I kept in touch with the friends I had made during those three terms, but as happens, in time sadly I lost touch.  Today was a great way of taking in the town again and bringing some of those memories back.

DSCF2790 (640x480)The main school building (pictured) was quite old and backed onto the River Kennet.  First years were expected to christen their berets by dipping them into its waters (cue Health and Safety – today’s 11 year olds would not be allowed anywhere near water let alone a wide fast flowing river!) Hats replaced berets when I was fourteen and I can no longer hear the word mentioned without seeing Frank Spencer of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em fame.  They were hideous things and I think everyone was relieved when they became school uniform history.imagesDSCF2791 (640x480)

DSCF2792 (480x640)Our sixth form was housed across the road in Wye House (pictured) and that is where we also had music lessons.  Today it is a private residence.  The school also had nowhere large enough for assembly so instead, we used the local Methodist Chapel (pictured) which was situated a few hundred yards from the school’s front gate. That one year saw me introduced to netball and hockey, cookery and languages.  It was a huge leap in education for a girl from a small village school, but then I’ve always loved challenges.

On the way home we passed by Silbury Hill, one of Wiltshire’s most famous prehistoric monuments after Stonehenge.  Further on I stopped to take a shot of the Cherhill White Horse and monument.  The latter has my grandparents’ initials carved in its base.  My maternal grandfather came from nearby Compton Bassett and this is where he ‘courted’ my grandmother just after the end of the First World War.  So that’s it, a lovely day out filled with memories and great pub lunch all wrapped up in a beautiful sunny November day.  Wonderful!

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Thoughts on a Thursday Afternoon…

Right then, just our mini break to Bruges is fading into the distance so four nights in York looms ahead next week.

The journey to Bruges from home took all day.  We managed to get an earlier train than planned to Paddington and then a taxi across to St Pancreas which is a most amazing building.  We had an hour’s wait at the Eurostar terminal and then we were boarding.  For me there was no sense of the fact that we’d gone into a tunnel under the English Channel, only that there was darkness outside for around twenty minutes.  Then the first stop, Lille and from there onto Brussels.  Brussels station was a surprise.  I suppose I had expected some sort of grand station building much like those in London, but that it was not.  We had a fifty minute wait and then were on the last leg of our journey to Bruges, arriving at 18.30.

DSCF2436 (640x480)Bruges was brilliant; I’d been there on a coach stopover on my way to Lido Di Jesolo many years before and had absolutely no memory of the place.  Hotel Pand, tucked away in a leafy side street was the most brilliant place.  A small boutique hotel only offering breakfast and light snacks in the bar, I was totally amazed to come down the first morning and find a table laid with croissants, bread, pain au chocolat, pastries and several offerings of jam.  The service in the breakfast room was exceptional, the choice of coffee or tea and the fruit juice arriving with an accompanying small jug to top up and all food cooked at one end of the room on the Aga.  And to crown it all champagne!  We were so spoilt!

The city of Bruges looks absolutely fabulous at night with all the main buildings lit in a dark golden glow.  We were obviously there out of season but there were still plenty of people about and a great atmosphere.  Food in the restaurants we ate in seems to come with salad rather than the usual UK veg selection but took nothing away from the excellent quality. Restaurant De Koeise, where we ate on our last night, did the most amazing steaks! We also found very little choice in wine other than the house variety.  As this city abounds with breweries beer was the preferred.DSCF2446 (640x480)

The return journey felt a lot easier; there was less waiting and we arrived in St Pancreas around 14.00.  The taxi to Paddington took quite a time as traffic was very heavy.  It made me reflect on the fact that London, although an amazing city, is somewhere I could never live.  Having been raised in green and pleasant rural Wiltshire and having the benefit of living in a house which backs onto open fields, the thought of city dwelling is quite claustrophobic.  As well as the traffic there are so many people rushing to be somewhere.  Ah no, I’m definitely a country girl, although I do love the best of both worlds, having the beautiful city of Bath within a short drive of home.  Of course Bath has massive traffic problems and during summer months it is busy with tourists, but it still has a gentler feel than our capital city.DSCF1252 (640x480)

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And so to York next week.  I have a tenuous family connection with the city in that my ancestors lived there in the sixteenth century – yes we have a family tree on my Dad’s side which goes back that far!  I’ve only been there once on a football weekend (no I did not go to watch the game).  Bath City were playing York and four of us went up by car.  While the two OHs went to the match, us girls went shopping and visited the Yorvik Centre. It was a good weekend not only to visit the city but because Bath won. This time my OH (who had visited the city many years ago) wants to pay a return visit to the National Railway Museum and I feel more retail therapy coming on.  Again we are making the long journey by train but with the batteries charged for my iPod and Kindle plus a window seat I should survive.

And now a change of subject: TV Drama.  Going away for a week meant loads of recorded stuff to catch up on when we returned.  I have to say what is on offer this autumn has either totally grabbed my imagination or left me a little disappointed.

First BBC2s Peaky Blinders – such a watchable series about gangsters in post WW1 Birmingham. Cillian Murphy is great in the lead character of Tommy Shelby.  The man has such amazing eyes – in one close up scene they were almost pale turquoise. He also has a look of innocence that in a split second can turn to menace – amazing acting.  I do love period drama and this is a fantastic example, but what really interests me is the way they have blended a modern-sounding sound track into this drama and it works really well!

Next Atlantis.  I absolutely love fantasy, anything from Game of Thrones to Lord of the Rings.  I was one of many who mourned the passing of Merlin, such a good series.  From the first episode Colin and Bradley had me glued to the screen.  I think the series had such a good balance of comedy, glamour, emotion, suspense and, of course, a screen full of good looking knights.  So how to replace this?  Impossible, of course, but looking at the trailers for Atlantis I was quite hopeful something good was coming.  However, after three episodes the jury is still out.  Mark Addy totally irritates me as Hercules.  If he was going to be cast in that role why has he not at least got the strength his character was renowned for to help get them out of the situations caused mostly by his stupidity?  Instead he is cast as a lazy, boastful, crafty, boozy and cowardly character without any redeeming features.  It just doesn’t cut it with me I’m afraid.  Also, all three episodes so far seem to have very little depth to them. They seem very lightweight; the one saving grace is that Jack Donnelly is very watchable!atlantis 3

What about Whitechapel ? I loved the early series but this latest one sees me having to suspend belief, so ridiculous at times.  Viewing audiences for the most part like to feel what they are watching is credible.  Much prefer the less gory Ripper Street and love American Adam Rothenberg’s unconventional Captain Jackson character.   It’s coming back on 28th October – can’t wait!

And last of all the Grand Dame of TV drama – Downton.  Still very much loved and watched – wonderful Maggie Smith’s expressions do as much for her character as her lines do.  I was so hoping Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham would get together and sad they didn’t but then it’s far too early in the series and I’ve a feeling he may come back (crossing fingers as he is so lovely).  And as for Tom’s night of illicit passion with Edna the maid something tells me although she’s been dismissed those events will come back to bite him, although knowing Edna it will probably be part of a very devious plot.  No doubt that’s a storyline in waiting and maybe not until the next series?

So that’s it for a while no more to say but much to do.  Will blog again once back from northern climes but until then I have back page book blurb and information for the promotional video to organise.   Why does there never seem to be enough time?