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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Blog Tour - What She Left by T R RIchmond

Today I am joined by T R RIchmond, one of Amazon's Rising Stars of 2015,  to celebrate the publication on their new novel, What She Left.

This haunting, beautifully written and beautifully crafted literary crime novel tells the story of Alice Salmon and what she leaves behind. Using a very original and contemporary structure of facebook posts, texts, tweets, diary entries, letters and exchanges with friends T.R. Richmond presents a ‘whodunnit’ with a twist, a coming-of-age tale of a complex young woman, brought back to life through a series of glimpses.

Part 21st century epistolary novel and part digital scrapbook, What She Left explores the nature of news, truth, our social footprint and online identity, as well as such timeless issues as love, loss, revenge and redemption.

 I asked the author about their favourite books that are written in the form of letters. 

If you look on Wikipedia, an epistolary novel is defined as one “written as a series of documents”.
Years ago, this typically meant a tale told through letters and diaries. More recently, as communication forms have become more diverse, so the scope of this type of novel has mushroomed.
With What She Left, I set out to write a novel drawing on those traditional forms, but also using contemporary ones such as blog posts and tweets.
Epistolary books have a long, proud tradition – here are five that have made a particularly strong impact on readers.

Carrie by Stephen King
Thank heavens the author didn’t bin the early draft of this, as he was tempted. His wife fished it out of the bin so we’ve got her to thank for the succession of bestsellers the American author has produced since then. He reckons the book, which became his first published novel when it hit the shelves in 1974, only took about two weeks to draft. As it celebrates its 40 anniversary, the story of Carrie White and her telekinetic powers retains its ability to shock – such themes as bullying and revenge weaved into cuttings from newspapers, magazine pieces and book extracts.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend
A poignant and hilarious portrayal of the angst and awe of the male teenage years. Sue Townsend’s eponymous hero first appeared in 1982, with a slew of subsequent books following the hapless character through his troubled life. The first installment, with its deliciously evocative title, remains Townsend’s towering achievement, offering an insight into the adolescent Adrian Albert Mole and his love interest Pandora Braithwaite.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Letters, diary entries, telegrams, ship's logs, and snippets from papers all appear in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel about the evil vampire Count Dracula. The various perspectives and narrative style, partly engendered by the Irish author’s time as a newspaper writer, contribute to the story's believability – it feels like it’s recounting actual events via “found footage”. For many, Count Dracula will always be associated with Christopher Lee who played the part a series of films, but the book remains a classic and a must-read for horror fans.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, published in 1982, introduces us to Celie, a southern American black woman whose tale is told mainly through letters – some addressed to God. It’s a disturbing read, taking us back to an impoverished 1930s Georgia, with its endemic sexism and racism. It was turned into a Steven Spielberg-directed film in 1985 and also became a Broadway musical. Walker has become an iconic figure and her most famous book remains as important as ever.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
What began as a fictional diary column in a national newspaper in 1995 soon became a book, which spawned two sequels and a couple of films starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Consumed by her quest for love (and preoccupied by her alcohol intake and smoking habit), Bridget was originally intended to resonate with young, professional urban women but soon picked up a much wider fan base. The author has described her as a “banana skin girl”, but her observations about “singletons” and “smug marrieds” struck a chord with a whole generation.

Thank you to T R Richmond for visiting my blog today, I too loved The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 and also Bridget Jones's Diary, but I think I would have to add 64 Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff to my list, which is a series of letters between Helene, who lives in New York,  and an antiquarian bookshop specialising in rare and antique books in Charring Cross Road, London.

What She Left by T R Richmond is released on Thursday 23 April by Michael Joseph

Friday, 3 April 2015

Vets on Call by Cathy Woodman

Vets on Call - Talyton St George (Paperback)

It's all change at Otter House as a new vet moves in. Perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Catherine Alliott, this is the ninth book in the hugely popular Talyton St George series. Each book in the Talyton St George series can be read as a standalone novel, but when Cathy first had the idea of writing about a vet practice, she intended it to be a trilogy about two vets - Maz and Alex. Their names are in brackets to show which books feature their story. All the other books have new characters, although Maz and Alex always crop up now and again. Talyton St George, the story so far: Trust Me, I'm a Vet (Maz and Alex), Must Be Love (Maz and Alex), The Sweetest Thing It's a Vet's Life (Maz and Alex), The Village Vet, Vets in Love, Country Loving, The Three of Us (Digital short story, companion to Follow Me Home), and, Follow Me Home.

Spring is in full bloom, the clocks have gone forward, the sun is beginning to make more of an appearance and that means one thing ........ it is time to take my annual trip to Talyton St George and visit old friends.

This is the ninth book in the fantastic series, based in the the fictional country village of Talyton St George. The series began as a series set around the  village vets but as the series has progressed, we, the readers, have been introduced to more and more characters. One of the things I love about this series is that although books may be set around specific characters e.g. The Sweetest Thing was set around Jenny who set up a cake making business, Woodman always ensures the villagers met in previous books make appearances in them too. 

Following Will, the temporary vet's disastrous time at Talyton where he managed to amputate a dog's healthy leg by mistake, a new, leather clad biker, vet arrives and it is not only the patient's heart that Ross sets a flutter. He also makes an impression on veterinary nurse Shannon too. 

This is another great book, where there is a great story-line throughout. There are plenty of the usual veterinary cases, alongside the will they, won't they story-line between Ross and Shannon. What happens next is an freak incident that will affect them both for years to come. It was great to see the story-line included in the book as it has hit the headlines in recent years but after the reporting of it, the aftermath is not discussed. Woodman has created a credible story-line which could be an uplifting hope for fellow sufferers.

Woodman is a qualified vet and I really enjoyed the 'technical' scenes and jargon within the story. I really enjoyed the scenes in the book which included diagnosis, or procedures taking place. The jargon did not make the scenes graphic or complicated but allowed the reader to feel they were there in the room. Many authors add these scenes but gloss over dialogue or procedure but Woodman added depth to these sections.

I really enjoyed this book and am already waiting for my next visit to Talyton. I look forward to seeing who will be the next receptionist at the vets - Frances is going to be a hard act to follow and I don't think she will go quietly, she will continue to pop into the surgery to keep an eye on them all.

Although this book is part of a series, each novel is a standalone read and I would recommend this book to all fans of books that you can loose yourself in village life and want to meet a whole community of villagers.

Thank you to the publishers, Arrow, for sending me the book to review.

Blog Tour - Vets on Call by Cathy Woodman

The What, How, Where, When and Why of Writing…

Today, I’d like to tell you a little about the way that I write. Even though I’ve been writing for a long time and have over a million words in print, I still find it hard to believe that I’m an author, and I’ve been trying to think why.

I have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons is that the process of writing doesn’t always appear to look like work. This was reinforced by a comment by the decorator who came to paint a room in the house recently. As he came into the living room to tell me he’d finished, he said, ‘Oh, I see you have your feet up.’ My initial reaction was one of mild annoyance. I was working. Couldn’t he see that? I was typing away on the laptop with my notebook at my side. However, it was true. I did have my feet up at the same time! And that is one of the great things about writing. You can write anywhere you like and escape to your favourite places with your characters whenever you want to.

So what do I write?

Vets on Call is the ninth book in the Talyton St George series set in Devon. It is vet nurse Shannon’s story and a return to the Otter House veterinary practice. When I’m not writing novels, I write short stories.

How do I write?

I like to write longhand to begin with – I use a biro with the four different colours of ink and A4 paper, narrow feint with margins. I can write with other pens and types of paper, but it never feels quite right! I like to plan chapters and scenes on post-it notes so I can move them about until I settle on the final order, and I type on my trusty laptop which I chose because it is purple. Other accessories that aren't exactly essential for writing, but can be helpful, include copious amounts of coffee and a supply of crème eggs.  

Where do I write?

I can write anywhere, but I prefer to sit on the sofa in the living room, with the 
dogs and the cat. I’ll often have music on – it helps me focus – but I have to force myself to leave the television off because I find that too distracting. One of my favourite places to write is on the train if I’m travelling to see my agent or publisher in London.   

When do I write?

It takes a while for the writing muscle to warm up in the morning, and I usually find that the words flow best from late morning to late afternoon. If I’m working to a tight deadline, I have been known to work all day and overnight. 

Why do I write?

I write because I can’t not write. It’s a compulsion that I thoroughly enjoy, and, being an avid reader myself, I’m always delighted to hear from people who have appreciated my books.

Happy reading!

Cathy x

Thank you Cathy for joining me on my blog today. My review of Vets on Call follows this post and I absolutely loved it. I hope my readers' also love the book as much as me and there are many more visitors going to Talyton St George very soon.  

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Give a Little Love by Cathy Woodman

From Cathy Woodman, the bestselling author of Trust Me I'm a Vet, an exclusive short story featuring some of Talyton St George's best-loved characters

Three years after an accident left her in a wheelchair, artist Penny Diamond has made a new life for herself in a little cottage on the edge of Talyton St George.

Penny makes a living through her art, and with the aid of her assistance dog Sally and a carer who comes in during the day, she's managing to live an independent, if very quiet,life.

Until one day she gets a new carer. Declan is young - a lot younger than her - and he brings a breath of fresh air into her life. It doesn't hurt that he's also thoughtful, kind and good looking.

But what could a young man like Declan ever see in a woman like Penny? 

This is an exclusive story by Cathy Woodman, released before the ninth book in the series, Vets  on Call, is released 2 April 2015.

In this story we are introduced to Penny, who has been mentioned in previous books, and learn more about her. She is left in a wheelchair following an accident which killed her husband. She lived alone, relying upon a carer who came in to help her with everyday life. That was until Declan arrived one day - and has now moved in to become her lover and carer. She also has Trevor who, after the death of Sally, is her assistance dog, but he has a lot to learn.

This is a great read for anyone who, like me, is waiting for their next visit to Talyton St George. It is great to learn more about Penny, and Trevor, who also feature in Vets on Call.

Give me a Little Love is exclusively avaliable as an e-book.