Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What Happened to Heathcliff?

Who hasn't read Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë's only novel? Who has never been affected (one way or the other) by brooding, handsome Heathcliff, the book's anti-hero? Ever wondered what happened to him for the period he disappeared? Sue Barnard's book, Heathcliff, sheds some light on the question and she's come along to have a coffee with me so that I can interrogate her. Read on!

Pre-order ebook or buy paperback: http://mybook.to/heathcliff

Sue. Welcome. What an innovative idea – it’s bound to be a success. Who doesn’t want to know what happened to Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë for the three years that he disappeared from the book?

Tell us just a little about your new book Heathcliff.

My book begins when Heathcliff runs away after hearing Cathy tell Nelly Dean that it would degrade her to marry him.  Obviously there’s had to be some overlap with the original story, but the events of the missing three years are purely my own invention.  In addition to this, there is another mystery about Heathcliff which I have also attempted to solve.

What kind of person do you think Heathcliff really was?

I think he had a great capacity for love, and it’s tragic that this was never properly fulfilled.  His biggest weakness, in my view, was an inability to forgive those who had hurt him.  I think this is what coloured his relationship with the other characters in the original story and what drove his desire for revenge on them.

One huge surprise was discovering how young he was. Having been used to seeing him portrayed on screen by actors who are in their twenties or thirties, I had quite a shock on finding that he was only about 16 or 17 when he disappeared, and only about 19 or 20 when he returned.

I know you can’t tell us what he did in those three years without spoilers, but what kind of research did you have to do for that period?

Quite a lot.  The dates in Wuthering Heights are extremely precise (Heathcliff’s missing years are 1780-1783), which proved to be very constraining.  My original idea was that Heathcliff would have spent those years as a pirate, but I quickly discovered that the golden age of piracy was several decades too early.  Then I thought he might have made his fortune in the American or Australian goldrush, but those did not happen until the mid-1800s.  So I had to find something which did fit with the timeframe and which was consistent with his character.  As for what that was, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

Have you ever thought about how Heathcliff and Cathy’s lives would have been if they had married?

Yes, frequently.  It’s one of literature’s greatest mysteries.  I imagine it would have been a very passionate relationship.  I’m sure Cathy was fond of Edgar Linton (in her own peculiar way), but there was no real spark between them as there was with Cathy and Heathcliff.  But then, I’ve never really liked Cathy.  She started off as a spoiled little brat, grew into a spoiled big brat, and ended up (spoiler alert!) as a spoiled dead brat.  Heathcliff and Edgar both adored her, but I don’t think she was worthy of either of them.

I like the brats description! Finally, what do you think Emily Brontë would say about your book?

I hope she would approve.  If not, I hope she’d find it in her heart to forgive me.  But whatever she might have said, I just hope she wouldn’t have said it in Joseph’s incomprehensible dialect…

Heathcliff will be officially launched on 30 July 2018, to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë, but it is now available for pre-order by clicking here.




Friday, June 08, 2018

Jennifer C Wilson and The Kindred Spirits Series

 I love, love Jennifer Wilson's Kindred Spirits series.
Here's my 5 star review of her book "Royal Mile" (second book in the series):
I don't think I'll walk down Edinburgh's Royal Mile again without looking over my shoulder for the myriad of ghosts that haunt the place - from Mary Stuart to Greyfriars Bobby and the ill-disciplined covenanters. What I love about Ms Wilson's books is that the main characters are ghosts yet the living are like phantoms living their lives out around those who are dead. There's plenty in this book to please the history buff while entertaining those who just want an enjoyable - and often humorous read. But there's depth to the story too - and I certainly learnt a lot about Mary Stuart's life (and death).

And TODAY Jennifer's new book - the third in the series - "Westminster Abbey" (buy here ) launches (and it's just downloaded onto my Kindle). Happy launch-day Jennifer and I wish you many many sales because you deserve it. 
Click on image to go to Amazon

Jennifer kindly agreed to come onto my blog and talk about her "Kindred Spirits" series. Over to, I'm sure, a very happy Jennifer:

In the Kindred Spirits series, we meet the ghosts of historical characters, in a range of contemporary settings. Have you ever wondered what Richard III and Anne Boleyn might have in common, what Mary, Queen of Scots is getting up to now, or what happens when the visitors leave some of the most popular attractions in the country? Well, here’s your chance!
In the third of the Kindred Spirits series, we visit Westminster Abbey, and I hope you enjoy meeting a new community of ghosts. Mind, with modern travel so easy these days, a few faces we’ve already encountered might just show up too…
On hallowed ground…

With over three thousand burials and memorials, including seventeen monarchs, life for the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey was never going to be a quiet one. Add in some fiery Tudor tempers, and several centuries-old feuds, and things can only go one way: chaotic.

Against the backdrop of England’s most important church, though, it isn't all tempers and tantrums. Poets' Corner hosts poetry battles and writing workshops, and close friendships form across the ages.

With the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots, however, battle ensues. Will Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I ever find their common ground, and lasting peace?

The bestselling Kindred Spirits series continues within the ancient walls of Westminster Abbey.
Praise for the Kindred Spirits series
“A light hearted, humorous, and at times tender read which you'll enjoy whether you like history or not.”
“This light-hearted, imaginative read is a new take on historical fiction but make no mistake, this is not only a fun read but an educational tool.”
“A brilliantly unique idea from a distinctive new voice in fiction.”

About Jennifer
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon, along with her self-published timeslip novella, The Last Plantagenet? She can be found online at her blog, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Chasing the Case by Joan Livingston - Writing About Sex


I’m so happy to invite brilliant author Joan Livingston to my blog today. She has a new book coming out on 18th May called Chasing the Case which I’m excited to read. And, today, she's Writing About Sex, so hang onto your seats. 

But first, here’s a quick blurb of her book and then I’ll hand you over to Joan:

New to the game. But that won't stop her.

How does a woman disappear in a town of a thousand people? That's a 28-year-old mystery Isabel Long wants to solve.

Isabel has the time to investigate. She just lost her husband and her job as a managing editor of a newspaper. (Yes, it's been a bad year.) And she's got a Watson - her 92-year-old mother who lives with her. 

To help her case, Isabel takes a job at the local watering hole, so she can get up close and personal with those connected to the mystery. 

As a journalist, Isabel never lost a story she chased. Now, as an amateur P.I., she's not about to lose this case either.

Over to Joan…

Writing about Sex

Of course, there’s sex in my new mystery, Chasing the Case. It’s a given because I wrote about people and what they do. Sex is a part of that.
But writing about something so personal without being vulgar is a bit tricky. I believe I give enough, so readers can use their imagination.
There are no descriptions of body parts. Nothing is throbbing. The sex scenes aren’t icky or embarrassing.
By the way, my characters are consenting adults who are having a good old time in the sack, and in Chasing the Case, actually mature consenting adults.
This is my third book out. In the first, Peace, Love, and You Know What, a group of hippie friends have a three-day bash. This is the early seventies, so there is nudity, free love, and dirty professors. Lenora, the main character has sex with three guys in two days, including a ménage à trois — her instigation by the way.
My second novel, The Sweet Spot, is a more serious novel. Edie St. Claire has a rather hot and heavy relationship with her married brother-in-law until that ends tragically. Then she has to pay for it when the town turns against her.
Things are a more light-hearted for Isabel Long in Chasing the Case. After all, she tells the story. She’s a long-time journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. after she gets canned from the newspaper she was running. She decides to solve a mystery of a woman who went missing in her town of a thousand people 28 years earlier. It was her first big story as a rookie reporter.
It’s also a big change in another way for Isabel. Her husband died and after giving herself a year to grieve, she’s ready to move on. How did she put it? It’s time to do something foolish or at least, have fun.
That’s what she does. And she doesn’t have to look far to find it.
I’m not going to spoil the plot by giving away who Isabel has sex with in Chasing the Case. It had been some time since the man was in a relationship that included sex.
As he warns her on their first night, “I may come awfully fast. It’s been a while.”
Isabel’s response? “That’s okay, I’m a little nervous, too. It’s been a while for me, too.”
She removes the photo of her dead husband to another room. And during their first romp she lights candles on the bureau and nightstand beside the bed. She tells herself: “I believe there’s just enough light for me to be firm and beautiful in his eyes. Maybe.”
I will say there’s a lot of playful banter about sex between Isabel and her lover in this book, but then again she is a bit on the sassy side.
Besides being an amateur P.I., Isabel takes a part-time job tending bar at the local watering hole called the Rooster. Her plan is to get up close and personal with people connected to the mystery.
Here is her observation about the bar’s customers on the night a band is playing. The Rooster is jumping and bumping tonight, and from my vantage point at the bar, I can tell a lot of the customers will be humping later on. Yeah, I’m being a bit crude, but I’ve seen more men and women getting felt up here tonight than by the TSA at the airport in Hartford.”
Finally, one last thing about sex, at least for this post: an anecdote about my 94-year-old mother, an avid reader of romance novels. (She is the inspiration for Isabel’s mother, who is her Watson in this series.)
I will admit a few of my kids were uncomfortable about the sex scenes in my first book. So, when I gave my mother a copy, I added this warning, “Mom, there’s a bit of sex in it.”
Here’s what she told me after reading it: “Oh, I’ve read a lot worse than that.”
Really, Mom?

Chasing the Case, published by Crooked Cat Books, has an official May 18 release. You can pre-order the Kindle version; the paperback is available. Here’s the link: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

Social media:
Twitter: @joanlivingston