Friday, January 26, 2018

Q&A with Amanda Brittany






I'm thrilled to welcome Amanda Brittany to my blog today, to talk about her debut thriller Her Last Lie. 

It's been described as 'gripping with a shocking twist' and I can confirm that it is!

(It also has an amazing cover)




Which character in Her Last Lie would you like to meet?

Hi Karen, thank you for inviting me to your blog.

I suppose feisty Roxanne is the character I’d most like to meet. She’s so determined to get to the bottom of things, and appears to be a good friend to Isla.

There are definitely a couple of characters in the book I would hope never to meet.


I know the book has several settings, which did you enjoy writing the most?

I loved writing the second part of the book set in Abisko in Sweden. I visited Abisko a couple of years back, and it was great fun bringing the cold, bleak landscape to life, and describing the way The Northern Lights swoop across the night skies.

Are any of your characters based on people you know?

No, not at all, they all sprang from my imagination.

A couple of reviewers have mentioned there are humorous bits in the novel...

Yes, there are a couple of lighter bits, which I felt fitted with certain characters. My thoughts were that there are amusing people everywhere, so why not in a psychological thriller? And I liked the thought of the contrast of humour with the awful things that are happening to Isla has in the book.


How long did it take to write ‘Her Last Lie’?

I worked flat out on the first draft for six weeks, writing 2,000 words a day, but it took a lot, lot longer than that in total with the re-drafts and edits.

Have you got any ideas for your next book?

I have got an idea for my next psychological thriller, which I’m about to send over to my editor, and I’ve got everything crossed she’ll like it.

All of Amanda’s ebook royalties are going to Cancer Research UK, in memory of her sister. Her Last Lie can be downloaded here http://amzn.to/2AIvFw7

I can't wait to read the next one...


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Distracted

With the New Year comes the start of a new book.

I'd love to have a better writing routine, and a shedload more discipline, but seem to write the bulk of my books in the three weeks before deadline. It's good to have that motivation, but not the healthiest way to write, so I'm going to try really hard to develop a better system.

It's not as if I NEED to be on Facebook and Twitter, or to look for cake recipes (except in the name of writing research) or hoover the curtains, or chop down the overgrown hedge in the back garden, or start a new exercise routine - well, maybe the latter (trying out all those cake recipes) - but they're irresistible activities when faced with having to write 90,000 words that will make sense and entertain.

It's a funny old job. When I worked at the library, I didn't say, 'Ooh, I'll just check social media for puppies in baskets', or 'Hang on, I need to research paint colours, the walls are looking a bit jaded', or 'Let me just style my hair a different way, and I'll be right with you' (honestly, I didn't, I'd have been sacked on the spot). But, then again, my jobs were clearly defined. I didn't have to make them up, and dealing with the public is a leveller. They'd never have let me get away with faffing about.

Maybe I need them to come round to my house and look at me disapprovingly until I've written at least 1000 words before I get out of bed. Better still, cut the WiFi so I can't get online, as that's where the biggest distractions lie.

Now, if I can just find a nice image to accompany this post, I can get on with writing that chapter I was supposed to have started this morning, before I alphabetised the books in the living room, and looked up something nice to cook for dinner...

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Glad Tidings




So, now the season to be jolly is almost upon us, which means another year is almost over and, as usual, I'm left wondering how on earth it's happened. (Has anyone else noticed the tendency for people to start their sentences with 'So' these days? It drives me mad, which probably means I'm incredibly old and grumpy, and it won't be long before I'm moaning about music being too loud and tuneless, and young women wearing too much make-up).

I'm about to start writing my 5th book for Bookouture, which sounds impossible, but is true. Maybe that's why the year's sped by - it's been so full of words, and thoughts about words, and writing words, that there hasn't been much time for anything else, but I don't mind because I'm doing something I love, and that's a reward in itself.

Apart from writing, I've had some nice trips away this year, and spent time with friends and loved ones. We haven't travelled the globe or won the lottery, and I still haven't been approached to model clothes for M & S, or met anyone famous, but nothing awful has happened either, so I count myself very lucky. (Note to self: start buying lottery tickets.)

In the spirit of trying to move away from the festive season being about buying presents (it didn't go down well, so I've had to abandon the notion) I haven't even started Christmas shopping. It's hard when the children are adults, and don't know what they want, but still like to open gifts on Christmas Day.

Maybe I'll do some writing in the meantime, to take my mind off it.

If I don't see you again this year, thank you for all your support, have a wonderful Christmas, and here's to a happy, healthy and peaceful 2018.

Friday, September 29, 2017

It's (not-even-nearly) the Season to be Jolly...


The Beachside Christmas: A hilarious feel good Christmas romance by [Clarke, Karen]


I know it's only September, but my new book THE BEACHSIDE CHRISTMAS is out today. It's the final in the Beachside series and writing three books in a year means I've been pretty immersed in this world.

10 things that stand out about writing this series are...

1. The Beachside Sweet Shop gave me the perfect opportunity to make some coconut ice. I used to help make it with my grandmother growing up, and it tasted exactly as I remembered

2. Also, in the course of research, I tried eating pear-drops to see whether I’d grown to enjoy them – I haven’t. I always preferred chocolate and still do.

3. Shipley, the setting for the series, is based on Swanage in Dorset, one of my favourite places to visit, but I changed the name so I could use some fictional license when it came to naming and placing pubs and shops. 

4. I don’t have green fingers so there was plenty of research involved in writing The Beachside Flower Stall. I loved learning the meanings and symbolism of various flowers and was inspired to be more active in the garden this summer!

5. Ruby, who runs the flower stall in the book, is based on a neighbour I remembered from my childhood, who grew the most beautiful roses and would let my sister and me gather fallen petals to make perfume.

6. Writing the series reminded me how much I took for granted growing up in a seaside town, and how rarely I even went on the beach. Though I now love living in the countryside, holidays and breaks tend to be by the sea.

7. I wrote a lot of The Beachside Christmas during a heatwave, so played a lot of Christmas songs to get in a festive mood. Right now, I don't ever want to listen to them again.

8. I watched a bit of ‘structured reality’ television to get a feel for the character of Ollie in the Christmas book, but it only confirmed that it’s not my cup of tea. I love a good drama, and I like some reality TV, but I don’t like them combined.

9. Although Shipley and its characters don’t exist outside my own head, I became so engrossed in their stories while writing that I kept accidentally calling people by their names.

10. I’ve learnt some fascinating facts from writing each book: in the 1800s physicians advised broken-hearted patients to eat chocolate to ‘calm their pining’; tulip bulbs were once more valuable than gold; the world record for the amount of Christmas lights on a house is 331,038. That’s some electricity bill!


Image result for christmas lights

(Sorry for mentioning the 'C' word when it's still three months away).


Friday, April 28, 2017

Like buses ...



You know that saying about not seeing a bus for ages, then two arrive at once? Or is it three? Or maybe it's not buses at all.

Anyway, it doesn't seem five minutes since The Beachside Sweet Shop was released, and now my second book is out, and available to download. Or order from a bookshop if you prefer a paperback version.

This doesn't mean I wrote a book in six weeks, just that it in the time it took to get book one ready for publication I wrote another, and my publisher thought it was a good idea to ride the wave of success of book one (20,000 sales and counting, I still can't believe it) by getting the next one out.

Obviously, to keep this up, I'd have to write a book a month (or something) which would probably mean my head would explode, so it's a bit of a relief that the third in the series won't be out until October. Though I have to write it first. It's a Christmas one, so the sunny weather we've had recently isn't conducive to mood, but I'm certain that if I eat enough mince pies and listen to enough Christmas carols, it'll all be fine.

In the meantime, I've hardly had time to write a short story and I miss it. I was convinced I'd keep knocking them out, but with such tight deadlines for the novels - and bearing in mind there were structural edits, line edits, and proofreading to do on both - I haven't found the head space to switch from my current works-in-progress to short story mode.

I'll try and find the time though, once book three is finished. Lovely husband and I took a trip to the south of Ireland last month, and the scenery was so stunning, I'm inspired to write something set there!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Publication Day



It doesn't seem five minutes since I started writing THE BEACHSIDE SWEET SHOP but publication day has finally arrived. WHOOP!

The biggest thrill of all, was holding a printed copy in my grubby hands - a 'proper' book, as my mother (or anyone who doesn't like digital reading) might say. I'm so happy to have got to this stage, and if nothing else happens at least I've something with my name on to shove under people's noses display on my bookshelf. Okay, I'll be even happier if people read it and enjoy it. Early reviews have been good, so fingers crossed.

I'll be popping up with annoying regularity on some blogs over the coming weeks, writing about writing, and answering questions about writing, if you fancy joining the tour. None of it involves me actually talking, and I didn't even have to get dressed and leave the house, and I don't mind at all if you read from the comfort of your bed or sofa.



Now I'm off to celebrate with tea and cake, and raise my cup to everyone who's supported me on my writing journey, and to those wonderful people at Bookouture who've made me a very happy writer lady today.





Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Politically Correct


(gratuitous photo of puppies in a basket, for added cuteness)


The year is well underway, and there have been all sorts of political shenanigans across the pond, being discussed on social media, so I'm keeping this a political-free zone, and will be talking about ME instead (just for a change.)

So far, I've had a birthday, finished the second draft of novel 2, and sold a handful of stories, so not a bad start in all. Apart from being another year older - but as I've been 38 for some time now, it could be worse (and is, in reality, but I'm in denial.)

If someone had told me this time last year that I would have parted ways with my agent - sadly it ended not very nicely, she was very rude - been signed up by an award-winning digital publisher (they've sold 8 million books to date), written two books, both due to launch in the next couple months, and be about to start a third, I'd have told them they were very, very wrong - that it wasn't possible.

But it's happened, and it shows that you never know what's around the corner. I was drifting along at the time, not sure what direction to take writing-wise, when the opportunity to pen a series of 3 romantic comedies came along. To be honest, at first, I wasn't sure I could 'write to order', plus I'd written a psychological thriller, which was a big departure from my three previous novels, but I figured I'd be crazy not to at least give it go - especially considering how well existing Bookouture authors were doing.

And I'm so glad I did, as although it's been hard work, with tight deadlines, it's been a fulfilling and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and being in the hands of experts, has been an absolute dream. If my books fail, it won't be for want of trying on their part, that's for sure.

I was lucky enough to meet the Bookouture team just before Christmas, and they really are a passionate and dedicated bunch, who believe in giving their authors the attention they feel they deserve - something they feel can be lacking with some of the large publishing houses, which tend to focus on the top 5% of their authors. This is something I'd experienced myself, and there's a lot to be said for not being a teeny-tiny fish (smaller than a tadpole, even) in a mighty ocean.

Mind you, Bookouture are expanding rapidly, so this time next year things might have turned on their head, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the ride.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be holding actual printed copies of my first book in my hand, which - after more than eight years of writing - really will be a dream come true.

Hope you've all had a good start to your year (political shenanigans across the pond notwithstanding.)

Q&A with Amanda Brittany

I'm thrilled to welcome Amanda Brittany to my blog today, to talk about her debut thriller Her Last Lie.  It's been...