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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Interview with Jo Spurrier

When the lovely Jo Spurrier came into the store for a book signing, I grabbed the opportunity to ask her a few questions.

Tarran: How does it feel to have finished this series? 

Jo: It is great to get to the end as I am glad to stop torturing my characters. It has been 10 years so it's sad as well, I like listening to break up songs while writing the final scenes.

Tarran: Is there going to be more books set in this world?

Jo: There is a temptation to write a book set 20 years into the future to see how the characters have changed, but I want to work on something new for now.

Tarran:What's next for you?

Jo: I have a new series in mind, but not sure when it will be all done.

Tarran: If you could spend a day in the life of anyone in history, who would it be and why?

Jo: Catherine the Great. She is just an amazing and fascinating person. 

Tarran: What are you reading now?

Jo: Lots of Lynley Dodd (Hairy Maclary) as I have a new baby. Also I am reading Bill Bryson's 'Home'

Tarran: If you could pick one character from your books to have a cuppa with who would it be and why?

Jo: Nirveli. You only get snippets of her in the books but I would like to find out more about her.

Tarran: How much research went into your books?

Jo: There was an enormous amount done, a lot of it was background reading while writing my first series which never got published.

Jo's latest book 'North Star Guide Me Home' is the last in her series. It is out now and we have a limited amount of signed copies available. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Researching The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

To continue the celebration of the release of the Tea Chest, a simply stunning book, the author Josephine Moon has written what it was like to research her novel.

Researching The Tea Chest

By Josephine Moon

As a writer, one of my favourite aspects of a book’s journey is the research. I just love falling into a textbook, or a glossy book of photos, or skimming through the internet and stumbling across rabbit trails of information that hook me and transport me to another place or sensory experience. Words turn to images in my mind and images come together to form scenes, plot complications and motivations for characters. My characters passion is picked up by my characters and the story takes off in unexpected ways.
There were three main areas of research for the book: the teas; locations; and time periods. As far as the teas went, my true passions lie with herbs and fruits and flavours, so these became my greatest point of exploration. In the past, I studied aromatherapy, the basis of which is herbs, flowers and trees. So I had a wealth of knowledge in my head about that and many textbooks on hand to pull out when I needed to. It was tremendous fun applying the same aromatherapy blending techniques to herbal teas and I created many new tea blends in my mind, many of which made it to the pages of the book.
Another area of research regarded London. I have been to London, but only for a week, and it was a few years back, so I did a lot of Google Map walking the streets of the city. I found it difficult to decide on a location for The Tea Chest. In the first draft, I had it in Portobello Road (famous for its markets) but I didn’t like the feel of it. I wanted The Tea Chest to be somewhere uber gorgeous and upmarket, both because that’s the vibe of the store but also because I wanted to put a lot of pressure on my main character to make the store succeed.
I’m quite ‘geographically challenged’, and Google Maps kept spinning me around and so I ended up hand drawing a map of Kings Road, my ultimate destination for the shop, and drawing in the shops around it. And that map sat on my wall for a long time.
Fortunately for me, I have a great friend, Kathleen, who lived in London for ten years. Possibly unfortunately for her, that meant I sent her dozens of annoying questions, including anything I thought was stupid but I should ask anyway, just in case. Like, does the sun still rise in the east (because, you know, water spins the other way in the northern hemisphere)? I just wanted to be totally sure! And she read my whole manuscript and vetted everything for me, which was a tremendous relief. My sister had also lived in London for a couple of years and she helped me early on to find all my characters homes, which was a great help.
Lastly, I needed to research different time periods so I could write flashback scenes for Judy and Simone. That was tremendous fun. I just love period research—the clothes, the food, the alcohol, the buildings. It really gives me a great boost and I always feel it somehow tethers me to a scene because it gives me strong boundaries to work within, rather than me rambling off in any direction.
All this research was time consuming, occasionally challenged my spatial abilities, but ultimately really rewarding and I think made my book much richer for it.

My next novel is about chocolate and I’m afraid the research there is not helping my waistline. So I’m thinking the book after that should be about celery so I can counteract all that chocolate.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Book Review - The French Promise - Fiona McIntosh

The French PromiseThe French Promise by Fiona McIntosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I do not know how the author does it. Everytime I pick up a book by Fiona McIntosh I am instantly transported into her worlds, whether it is fantasy, crime or historical fiction. This author is a rare writer who can cross the genre barrier and I am thankful for it.

The French Promise picks up not to long after The Lavender Keeper. We go on a journey to Australia where Luc and Lisette have come to pick up the pieces of their lives and make a new future. I love reading the way we Aussies talk and I can picture the scenes quite easily. The author's writing weaves three different story-lines together and they form an intricate braid that comes together at the end. I felt a lot of emotion reading this book and I actually stayed up past midnight trying to get to the end before I fell asleep (unfortunately that didn't happen)

I teared up in particular sections and I am glad to have read the ending of Luc and Lisette's story.

Well done Fiona!

I highly encourage people to read the Lavender Keeper and The French Promise! Filled with well researched material, believable characters and brilliant descriptions, you will fall in love, hate and most of all forgiveness with the world Fiona has recreated.

View all my reviews


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Giveaway! Giveaway! Giveaway!

One lucky runner up will receive a copy of the Tea Chest by Josephine Moon.

If you would like to read a review of the book that inspired this giveaway then look no further

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