Monday, 31 March 2014

I'm on a Virtual Tour!


I'm joining the virtual tour of writers which is speeding around the globe, faster than the sun. I was invited on board by http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk/ and you can read her virtual tour on that site. She was invited by http://suemoules.blogspot.co.uk/ and now I've invited other writers on board. Here is my tour;

What am I working on?
I’m right at the end of the first draft of my third novel in the Shaman Mystery Series, all of which are set in Somerset, focusing on the little town of Bridgwater. In the first book, In the Moors, Sabbie Dare, who is a therapeutic shaman, meets the big love of her life, Detective Sergeant Rey Buckley, Despite his scathing opinion of her abilities to solve crime, she is determined to discover why her client Cliff is being charged with the murder of a child; she is so sure he is innocent, but what sort of proof does she have? She uses her shamanic abilities and finds herself inside a dangerous world of cruelty, obsession and madness. Library Journal said of the book… Sabbie Dare is the most compelling protagonist I’ve met this year, and Milton’s tale is riveting…

The second book in the series, Unraveling Vision (US spelling) comes out this winter. Sabbie is trying to help young Romany Mirela Brouviche find her missing sister. She’s still besotted with Rey, but he is caught up with two murders on his patch, and instructs Sabbie to stay well away from his cases…and away from him. Naturally, Sabbie does the opposite. Her headstrong nature leads her right to the heart of trouble.

Terri Bischof, the acquisitions editor at Midnight Ink says of Unraveling Visions…I loved the manuscript.The Shaman Mysteries are among my favourite series. I look forward to book three very much! Again, this is a great book!

So now I am working on the third in the series. This doesn’t yet have a title, and I’m certainly not going to reveal the plot, but I can tell you that the focus of the action moves to Glastonbury, and that all the themes you associate with that mystical place can be found in the story. As before, Sabbie has a hard time keeping away from danger. As she says in In the Moors,  “I’m the sort of person who has to poke their finger into all the holes marked, ‘do not insert’.”

How does my work differ from others in the genre?
Although my books fit the standard definition of ‘crime thriller’ because, to quote a Kirkus Reviews, each is a… fast-moving thriller likely to draw in readers…the main character, Sabbie Dare, who is single and not yet thirty, is not an officer of the law, or a pathologist, or even a private eye. She is a therapist, and a shaman. She walks between worlds and can bring back amazing understanding from the otherworld. In this way, she tries to help her clients with their problems.

Sabbie has an open heart, and gains the strength to get through life with her shamanism and her pagan beliefs. She struggles with the memories of her difficult start in life – she can hardly remember her mother and has never met her father. But she is adept at inviting trouble into her life – which bodes well for the further books in the series!

I am a druid; a pagan path which takes me close to the earth and into the deep recesses of my mind. Shamanic techniques help me in my life - in fact they changed my life. I have first hand experience of how amazing the otherworld is, if you care to journey to it, and that gave me the idea that a shaman would be well-placed to find out the deepest causes and motivations which lie at the heart of crimes. 
The themes of the books are always hard-hitting, but Sabbie balances this with her her belief in simple living; she grows veg and keeps hens in her town garden. 

Why do I write?
When I was five, my infant school teacher Mrs Marsden read a story to the class. It might have been the fable 'The Mouse and the Lion', but I can't really remember. Then she asked the class to write their own stories, and as I chewed my pen, I had an early epiphany. I was dumfounded. For the first time, I realized that the books I loved had actually been written by real human beings. Before that, I believe they must have fallen from some sort of story heaven. It was a revelation – from then on I was scribbling down stories all the time.

I wrote my first novel at the age of fifteen. Well, okay I started to write a novel which I never finished. I then took to writing short stories, which I began publishing a few years later in women’s magazines. I have also written for children. In the past, faced with the difficulty in getting things published, I have actually tried to give up writing! Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it. I was too hooked.

How does my process of writing work?
It’s a lot more structured nowadays. Having to produce a book in a year really concentrates the mind. While I’m planning the story, I try not to actually write anything until I’m absolutely ‘bursting’ to do so. Luckily, that moment arrived this time at the beginning of November 2013, so I enrolled on NatNoWriMo, and got 60,000 words down in 30 days – about half the novel. I battle on until I have a first draft, trying not to read it through or start again unless absolutely necessary. I put the manuscript away and get on with life for a while; at least two weeks, longer if possible. I then read it through. I try to do this in hard copy so that I can make notes, but can’t ‘fiddle’ until I’ve finished reading. I’ll work through it again at that stage, and, if I’m happy with it, I’ll send it to Lisa, my wonderful agent. She will tell exactly what she thinks of it! I know her words won’t be pretty, but they will be exactly what I need to hear. Usually she has a chopper in her hand at that point, and a lot of dross will disappear as I rewrite. Finally, it’s finished. I’m usually shuddering by then; 120,000 words is a lot of writing and rewriting. But I do know that when Lisa says ‘it’s ready to go’, then it really is ready to go, which is very reassuring.
Opposite is a great summary of the writing process; I loved Jackie Bigg’s pin-up and here it is; it sums up the creative process perfectly (thanks, Jackie)!

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