Saturday, December 23, 2023

Season's Greetings!


I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped make this year so special at Tweetables. 

Firstly there are the authors who have given me such wonderful interviews, and then there's you, the wonderful readers who have supported these authors and bought their books or followed them online. You have so much power and I know how much the writers appreciate your support, so please keep on doing what you're doing - you're amazing!

So thank you and please keep buying books and supporting wonderful authors! Click onto this link to see everyone who has featured on the blog so far, and I'm looking forward to more of the same in 2024! Have a great one πŸ₯³πŸŽ‰πŸΎ

Friday, December 15, 2023

Author interview with Jane Jesmond

My next author interview is with the talented Jane Jesmond who has penned four novels in the genres of crime, mystery and thriller, so let's meet her:

'I have lived in France for the last 33 years, currently in Finistère (the end of the earth). I used to work in the events industry but am now semi retired splitting my time between writing, travelling and local life. I have the obligatory cat and a husband.'

I love the visual 😁 She's traditionally published, her first book launching in 2021. According to the Sunday Times, she is (tweet here) "an original voice in crime fiction" - what an accolade! Then this week (13th December) The Times reviewed her latest book, 'A Quiet Contagion' and said it was 'one of the best thrillers of the month' - I think that makes her writing royalty!

What inspired her to become a writer? 

'I've always loved reading. I was one of those people who thought they could write a book if they had time. Decades later, I finally did have time and my mother's death made me realise life doesn't go on for ever, so I took the plunge and discovered how much I loved writing...'

I do think the best writers are keen readers first but I am sorry it took the passing of her mum for her to take the leap, that's tough. 

What does she consider the best money she's ever spent as a writer? 

'The self-edit course run by Debi Alper ((Jericho Writers). It taught me the foundations of how to write.'

And does Jane have a daily writing routine? 

'It does depend a little what stage of a book I'm at but, by and large, I get up, make a large cup of tea and head upstairs to my writing eyrie, take a brief look at the sea and then start writing, only descending from time to time to make more tea until lunch. If I'm first drafting, I'll stop at that point. If I'm writing further drafts or editing, I might carry on during the afternoon.'

Oohh, my imagination is in overload, I'm pretty sure I need a writing eyrie! Does it help her to write?

'We live in the North-Western tip of France and the influence of the sea is everywhere. That certainly made itself felt in the first two books of my Jen Shaw series. 'On the Edge' starts off with Jen Shaw hanging off a lighthouse in the middle of a storm and 'Cut Adrift' features a dramatic escape in a smuggler’s boat. But I think it is the way in which the view is different every morning that most makes itself felt in my writing. 

On a day like today, thick cloud and rain obscures the view and the sea is a grey/white void whereas yesterday the low winter sun picked out the dull greenness of the water and the ruddy brown of the winter bracken. 

Setting is very important to me as a writer. As important as character and plot. The three of them weave in and out of each other to create the story. What I also love about the view is that, apart from the occasional boat on the sea, it is empty of people. I like the feeling of solitude and quiet when I’m writing. I’m not someone who can write in a coffee shop surrounded by people.' 

Oh my, I would love a writing hidey hole like that! What does Jane enjoy the most about writing? 

'I don't think there's anything I don't enjoy. Coming up with the initial ideas and first drafting is always a bit of a roller-coaster and I have good days and bad days. If I had to pick a favourite moment, it's when I know the characters have started to come to life.'

And what's the hardest part? 

'Dealing with imposter syndrome. There's always a little voice whispering in my ear that what I'm writing is utter rubbish.'

Wow, and with such high-profile reviewers liking her work too? It just goes to show this feeling never leaves you, no matter how much success you've achieved! Do reader reviews help her overcome this? 

'I do skim read reviews. Strangely, given how much I suffer from imposter syndrome, I don't mind the bad ones. I really do understand that not everyone will enjoy my books or any writer's books. I love the good ones when they pick up on something I tried very hard to achieve. It's that moment of communication!'

Very true. What does she find the most difficult thing about writing characters who are very different from herself? 

'The hardest part is avoiding cliches. I think you have to find a point of commonality between yourself and the character to be able to write them and to explore the ways in which they are different to you and unique in themselves.'

Interesting, because she writes in crime, a genre that (I guess) lends itself to more cliched characters than most - did she work in this field before retiring?

'I don’t have a ‘crime’ background at all unless enjoying reading crime fiction counts. However I have avoided writing anything with a police-procedural format. There’s plenty of opportunity to write and solve crime in fiction without involving the police and, in fact, I rather enjoy seeing the problems my amateur sleuths face as they try to solve mysteries and escape danger without the power and expertise and back-up of the police force behind them. 

Phiney and her step-grandmother, Dora, the main investigators in A Quiet Contagion, are the most unlikely pair of detectives. Although I’ve avoided having to learn too much about police procedures, that’s not because I don’t enjoy research. I love it. Researching the 1950s generally and specifically in Coventry was hugely interesting for A Quiet Contagion. I started off with very little idea as what the setting for this novel would be and by following where the research led me ended up with the pharmaceutical industry and the 195 Coventry Polio Epidemic.'

Okay, this sounds fascinating - we need to talk about 'A Quiet Contagion'! Can she give us a short synopsis?

'Yes, it's an unsettling contemporary mystery with a historical twist and fast-paced plot. Six decades. Seven people. One unspeakable secret.

1957. A catastrophe occurs at the pharmaceutical lab in Coventry where sixteen-year-old Wilf is working for the summer. A catastrophe that needs to be covered up at all costs.

2017. Phiney is shocked by the death of her grandfather, Wilf, who has jumped from a railway bridge at a Coventry station. Journalist Mat Torrington is the only witness.

Left in utter disbelief, with a swarm of unanswered questions, Phiney, Mat and Wilf's wife, Dora, begin their own enquiries into Wilf's death. It is soon clear that these two events, sixty years apart, are connected - and that Wilf is not the only casualty.
But what is the link? And can they find out before any more lives are lost?'

Oh wow, I love it! I asked for a tweetable version (tweet here):

'A book with a secret at its heart. A secret kept by 7 people who worked at the same pharmaceutical lab in 1957. Some have gone on to success but others have suffered. 60 years later, one of them wants to tell all... with fatal consequences.'

She mentioned undertaking research, what's her process and where did it take her for this novel?

'I research all the time when I'm writing - before and during. I did a lot for this book looking at: the pharmaceutical industry and its early development; medical research; the polio story, Coventry in the 1950s; the 1957 Coventry Polio Epidemic; breast cancer; journalism; assistance dogs.'

That seems a lot to me, but it always adds authenticity to a story when a novelist has put in this level of research - my hat goes off to her. Can she give us a quick extract?

'Illness runs through my family like a pulled thread puckering its fabric and leaving a line of holes behind it.'

That's powerful, I need to know more! Which scene did she find the hardest to write? 

'The very last scene was the hardest to write because I couldn't decide how to end it. Or to be 100% accurate, I couldn't work out what Phiney, the protagonist, would decide. I tried every possible way at least once but if you want to know what I finally decided, you'll have to read it!'

I do love a tease! Crime often attracts series-writing, so is this something Jane has considered, or does she prefer a clean slate and the fun of starting from scratch again? 

''A Quiet Contagion' isn’t part of a series and I have no plans, much as I love the characters, to make it into one. 'On The Edge' and 'Cut Adrift', however, are the first two books in a series and I am currently writing the third, which will be published next year. 

So the answer to your question is that I like both writing series and writing standalone books. It’s lovely to write characters you already know well and introduce them to different problems and places. However I also enjoy starting from scratch and inventing new characters. I’m very lucky to be able to do both!'

I don't know about you, but she's definitely whet my appetite. If you'd like to learn more about this talented writer, you can visit her links below:

Twitter: @authorJJesmond
Facebook: JaneJesmondAuthor
Instagram: authorjanejesmond

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Update from Leonora Ross

You might remember my interview with the lovely Leonora Ross in September - she writes contemporary women’s fiction and literary fiction.

She had been hoping to publish her third novel by now but her plans changed and she's produced a second edition of her first novel, 'Tess Has a Broken Heart' instead. 
It's the same story, but a bit improved and with a new cover (shown here), which she rather likes!

She also sent over the blurb. It's a great holiday read. You can find out more at her links below:

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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Sneaky peeky at interview with Jane Jesmond

My next author interview is with the talented Jane Jesmond who writes in the genres of crime, mystery and thriller. Now semi-retired, she splits her time between writing, travelling and enjoying her local life. 

According to the Sunday Times, she is "an original voice in crime fiction" - what an accolade! Our interview goes live on the 15th December or you can explore her links now:

Twitter: @authorJJesmond
Facebook: JaneJesmondAuthor
Instagram: authorjanejesmond

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Friday, December 1, 2023

Author interview with Kerry Fryar Freeman

First of all, it's celebration time again πŸ₯³πŸŽ‰ This is my 50th, yes 50th, author interview and I'd like to send a huge thank you to all the wonderful writers who have given me time so that we can all learn about their work. So let's meet this week's wonderful novelist!

The lovely Kerry Fryar Freeman published her debut novel in November 2023, so is still in the middle of her launch. Luckily she still found the time for a chat.

Kerry writes in the genres of Mystery/New Adult and Sedona: A novel is both indie and traditionally published. This had me scratching my head as I wasn't sure how that worked -did she have the creative control of an indie, such as picking her own cover, or did the publisher make the decisions?

'Sedona is traditionally published by the Wild Rose Press and I worked collaboratively with them on the cover, editing, etc.'

That sounds a great working relationship. Kerry's promo information says she 'crafts fiction as if it were a new puzzle. The settings are real and well-researched, the details are rich and layered, and the stories absorb and propel readers one piece at a time' and the quality of her writing is backed up by Sedona being long listed for the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Award. I wondered what benefits this might have brought?

'I think the SFWP long listing was a jump start for credibility. I don't know how much impact it had on sales but we are off to a great start. Additionally, I've already signed with a literary agent for my second book.'

Wow, congratulations πŸŽ‰πŸ₯³ The paperback isn't available in the UK again until the middle of December so demand has been high, but I still asked Kerry for a tweet to help promote her to new readers (tweet here):

'Kerry Fryar Freeman challenges readers to see a different perspective, allowing the energy of existence to radiate between the pages.'

What inspired her to become a writer? 

'I've always been fascinated by authors and how they can create timeless and contemporary storylines. They were rock stars and always at the top of my "if you could meet anyone in the world" list." 

I had some minor success with writing short stories but fell in love with the process of writing a novel. It's such an intimate relationship that one develops with their characters and settings, where you move through obstacles and wonder how they will grow and change. Nothing is more thrilling than meeting your antagonist, only to discover their backstory and suddenly feel connected to them. It takes work to do that in a short story.'

I love that reference 😁 I have to ask, what does she feel like, now she's joined the group of writing ‘rockstars’ she admires so much?

'It's humbling. There are so many incredible authors out there and it's inspiring to be surrounded by a cloud of creativity.'

What does her daily writing routine look like? 

'I wish I had a daily writing routine. When I do write, it’s in chunks of time. Each of the books I’ve written or am writing at this time have multiple character viewpoints, so I almost have to get into character to write. I love getting lost in their stories!'

And what’s the most difficult thing about writing characters who are very different from her personally?

'Great question! It takes a fair amount of research to do these characters justice, whether it’s listening to music they’d listen to or watching tv shows with similar characters. You never want a character to seem forced, so I find myself overwriting those characters and having to edit at the end.'

And talking of editing, which part of writing does she enjoy the most?

'I love the freedom of writing. Once you start, your mind goes places that it doesn’t get to go, like a vacation of our own creation…only sometimes murder happens. So maybe not a vacation. I find that after writing, there’s a beautiful exhaustion because you’ve lived multiple lives in a given amount of time.'

I love this! It sounds a lot of fun, but which part has she found the most difficult?

'Writing isn’t the hard part for me. Getting published was definitely a trial of errors and of course, after you get published the push starts, especially for all of us indie press folks. Being a constant presence of social media, coming up with new content, marketing yourself to bookstores, venues, podcasts, media is a never-ending cycle. 

If you want to get your books out to the world, you have to step outside your stories and that has been an invaluable lesson. Luckily, I have an amazing support system.'

I'm intrigued - what she can tell us about her support network?

'The Books and Bevies family has been one of my largest support systems. The community of authors we've developed is so supportive of one another. They share life concerns and celebrations. They promote each other's work. They share ideas and questions. It's a special group!

In case you've not visited it, 'Books and Bevies' is Kerry's wonderful blog. It features an array of authors from New York Times and Amazon bestsellers to debut Indie gems. It can be found on her website  or by following her on Twitter and Instagram (links at the end of this post). What inspired her to start it?  

'The Books and Bevies concept came from reading. Whether a night cap or a cappuccino, I always found myself sipping on something while reading and I would usually try to pair it to match some characteristic of the book. Sometimes I'd make the drink that I thought the main character would drink. Sometimes I would pour a hot chocolate because the setting was in some isolated arctic place. One day I wondered what the author would choose. 

I tagged authors on my pairings and they'd either agree or offer their own. It was a snowball effect! Now the blog includes everything from New York Times bestsellers to indie debuts. While maintaining an awareness of my youngest readers, I try to be as open as possible. My goal has always been to give writers a platform to take their readers behind the curtain in a fun and personal strings attached...totally free.'

Isn't it a great concept? Now to her book. Can she give us a synopsis?

'Sedona, AZ, is a tourist town that lures people from around the world who believe there is more beyond the veil of reality. They come for the whispering pines, Hopi legends, vortices, magic crystals, and healing springs. 

Enter Cal Novak, a spunky editor from Atlanta, Georgia, who gives up the city life because she is searching for more: more time, more adventure, more meaning. The magic of her new hometown does not disappoint. Behind the curtain of every window, there are secrets waiting to be uncovered. For those searching for more, there's no place like Sedona.

Can she give us a tweetable version (tweet here):

'Behind the curtain of every window, there are secrets waiting to be uncovered. For those searching for more, there's no place like Sedona.'

She explained it wasn't part of a series and I asked if she could give us an extract, as a taster of her style:

'This is about legacy; this is about the legacy that was left before us. It’s about the land, the trees, the water, the buttes, the canyons, the tribes, the people…you can’t just appear and understand it all. Once you’re rooted, it flows through you; it speaks to you; it lives in you. You will never get that because you’re not part of that.'

I already want to know more! What was the hardest scene to write and why?

'I had the hardest time coming up with the last seven chapters because the story stalled out in my mind. I am not a plotter so when the characters stopped talking to me, I knew I had to step away. When the ending popped in my head one day, I sat down and wrote the last seven chapters in one sitting. It was magical!'

It sounds it! Did she need to complete any research?

'Most of the research I did was on Sedona. I had never been there before, so I spent hours delving into its past, the lore, the people who live and visit there. Talk about rabbit holes. The research was continuous throughout the process, especially as I created each of the characters.'

And what does she think is the best money she's spent as an author so far? 

'It has to be the book swag. The first public appearance for Sedona was sweetened by the amount of people taking a piece of the book with them. I love seeing fans with the sunglasses!'

That I'd like to see! So her work is out there now, fans are even wearing the swag - the big question, has she read any of the reviews yet?

'I've read them all! My skin toughened during the querying process for agents and publishers. If you can live through that kind of rejection, reader reviews are heaven because regardless of what they say, they actually read your book. 

To quote Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation, “I don’t hear criticism. I hear people caring loudly.”'

What a fabulous quote and a great way to end our interview. If you'd like to know more about Kerry, her links are below but I do recommend visiting her blog and, of course, supporting a new novelist if you can.

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