Thursday, 28 February 2013

Interview with R J Heald

Morning folks. Happy Friday - again! Already? Anyway, yes it is.
Here, this morning, for your enjoyment is an interview with author R J Heald, author of last week's book review, 27: Six Friends, One Year.
Sooz

There are few books with as many as 6 main characters (we’ve had this chat before since my own Sign of the Times has 12!) The rule is meant to be no more than 4 characters (apparently). Why did you decide on 6?

I was told that I should have one main character, who’s perspective should be maintained throughout the novel. I considered this advice, but ultimately dismissed it, because many of my favourite books have multiple characters and are written from several perspectives – for example Jodi Picoult’s best-selling books. They say you should write a book you want to read. I like reading books that make you think of events from several viewpoints, so that’s what I wrote!
Could you see 27 having a sequel or continuation?

Yes, I’ve started to write a sequel and I’m about a third of the way through the first draft. I’ve set it when the characters are 30, but I’m still deciding whether this is the right age. I might change it to age 35, because this will give them the chance to have a bit more life experience and face different challenges to the ones they faced at 27.
Why did you settle on the magic age of 27 and not eg  35?

I settled on 27, simply because I was 27 when I wrote the book! It was a time in my life when I was having lots of conversations with people my age, and there was an almost universal feeling of uncertainty. Everyone was questioning where they were in life and whether the decisions they had made had been the right ones. It felt (rightly or wrongly) like a last chance to change direction before our paths were set and our futures were determined. This made me realise that however perfect people’s lives are on the outside, they is usually some level of uncertainty or drama under the surface. So I thought it would be interesting to create characters who had met at university and then chosen quite different paths, but for whom things had not gone quite to plan.
The weakest character in the novel proves to be the strongest. Did you always know this would be the case?

Sam is one of my favourite characters. At the beginning of the novel, she perceives herself as worth less than those around her and suffers abuse at the hands of her partner, Patrick. When I started writing, I didn’t know what would happen to her, or where she was heading. She has a very clear plan for herself – to marry Patrick and live happily ever after - but that plan isn’t optimal for her. When I was writing her chapters, it was very touch and go as to whether her situation would resolve itself. In the end it is something that Renee says to her that makes her ask the questions that she needs to ask herself and make a decision that will change her life.

 You have won or been shortlisted for several awards. What can you tell us about that?

I’ve been lucky to be quite successful with awards and prizes! I was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2012. This is one of the biggest awards for independently published novels. There were 10,000 entries and my book was in the top 5%.  

I was a winner of the Next Big Author competition in 2011. This competition is run in partnership with Random House and judged by fellow writers. I was also shortlisted for the Brit Writers Awards in 2010.
Nothing is quite what it seems in 27. Those whose lives seem settled are exactly the opposite. How easy/difficult was it to come up with plot lines which would be both engaging and allow you to have such dramatic twists for each character? Did any particular scenes haunt you before you got them just right?

I found it quite easy to come up with the plotlines. The first thing I did was to create situations which would challenge the characters’ views and sense of identity. For example, Renee has defined her success by her marriage to Andy, but it’s clear from the first couple of chapters that this marriage is under enormous pressure. James is a rising star in his company, but he gets through each day by drinking increasing amounts of alcohol.

After I had defined the characters and situations, it was interesting to see where the plot took them. However, some of the issues the novel deals with are very sensitive and it was important to handle these issues appropriately. Although the tone of the book is very light, some of the underlying themes are darker. The Steve and Caroline story was particularly sensitive, as was Sam’s domestic abuse. Both these storylines raise questions about the power dynamic in relationships.  It was important to represent these stories realistically, whilst remaining true to the characters. 
 
 

Which character did you like the least/most and which did you enjoy writing the least/most?

Renee frustrates me because she is very rigid in her thinking, quite selfish and judgemental, and has a very stereotypical idea of what the “ideal life” is like. Her views are challenged by the events in the novel.
I think I enjoyed writing James’ scenes the most, because I could see how easily someone who was so outwardly successful could come unstuck.
There were quite a few twists and turns in the novel. Which (without revealing spoilers) were you absolutely dying to put on paper?
My favourite scene to write was the climax of the Steve and Caroline story. Steve is so deluded, but well-intentioned and his world really crumbles when he finds out Caroline’s secret and realisation dawns.
Did you intend for any characters to be unlikeable, with few redeeming features? Personally I am thinking about Dave, as I wanted to slap  him!
A few people have said that about Dave. Personally, I think he has a redeeming feature that none of the other characters have – the ability to be content and open-minded. He is so easy-going, that he is actually more resilient to life events than some of the other characters.  He just goes with the flow without much thought. Also, I think, whilst he is selfish, he is ultimately good-hearted. He has no malice towards anyone. I didn’t intend him to be unlikeable, but perhaps more of an anti-hero.
With all the characters, my intention was to make them real rather than likeable. Real people are complex and have strengths and weaknesses which come to the fore in different situations. In “27” the characters are generally well-adjusted, but are faced with situations which challenge their views and their place in the world. I think their experiences ultimately make them stronger, but things get difficult along the way!
How did you decide where to set 27?
I set it in London because it is a dynamic city and so many graduates come to London after university and just get lost in its vastness.

 

Fun Stuff

Quintessential question. Who is your Rupert Penry Jones?

I’m going to go a bit retro on this one and go for Jarvis Cocker.

 Which fictional character did you believe in longest? Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus?

I can’t remember, but logically I think I would say the Tooth Fairy. I could never work out how the presents would fit down our chimney and the Easter bunny never really made an appearance in my life. The tooth fairy, however, was very reliable and always left money.

Musicals or plays?

Plays. I love attending independent theatre in London.

City girl or country lass?

Can suburbia be an answer? I find cities a bit too crowded and busy. I like to be near parks and green space. But I also want to be able to get on a bus and go to a theatre or a gig. So the middle ground for me.

                                                                                                                     
 If you had to move to another part of the UK, where would it be?

For how long? If I was just moving for a few months, then maybe the North coast of Scotland. It’s so beautiful and isolated and windy! If it was for longer, probably a city with a good arts scene like Manchester.

First alcoholic drink you ever had?

Red wine.

First job - paper rounds and Saturday jobs included!

Teacher/marker at a kids weekend Maths centre.  

Ten pin bowling or crochet?

Ten pin bowling.

Beer or wine?

Wine.

 Thai food or fish n chips?

Thai food – I lived in Bangkok for a year.
 
 
You can catch up with Ruth here:-
 
and 27: Six Friends, One Year, can of course be purchased via Amazon here:-
 http://amzn.to/X0xqy8 (UK) & http://amzn.to/XEtNwr (US)
and it's also available in paperback - http://amzn.to/W7oloK
 
Until next week, guys and gals!
Have a great weekend
Sooz

Interview with Chicklibrarycat

Afternoon folks, I should have posted this earlier, but have been a tad tired the last few days.
Anyway, Marina over at Chicklibrarycat posed some questions to me - enjoy!

http://chicklibrarycat.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/meet-susan-buchanan-author-of-dating.html?spref=tw

Tune in tomorrow for the probing questions I asked of author of 27: Six Friends - One Year, R J Heald.

PS hard to believe, I know, but it's sunny again in Scotland...

Friday, 22 February 2013

Book review of 27: Six Friends, One Year by R J Heald

Happy Friday!
Yep, it's the end of the week again. It passed in a flash, didn't it?
Anyway, as promised, I have a fabulous book today for you to get your teeth into - 27: Six Friends, One Year by R J Heald.


Your 27th year is a turning point.
Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse. Janis Joplin.
They died at 27.

Six friends reunite in London. From the outside their lives are enviable; from the new father, to the rich entrepreneur to the carefree traveller. But underneath their facades they are starting to unravel. Dave is made redundant, Renee’s marriage is crumbling and Katie is forced to return home to her parents after six years abroad. In a world fuelled by social media and ravaged by recession, the friends must face up to the choices they must make to lead the lives they truly want to live.


AWARDS AND PRIZES:

R. J. Heald was a winner of the Next Big Author Competition in 2011 and short-listed for the Brit Writers Awards in 2010

"27" was a Quarter-Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2012


And here's what I thought of it.

A believable tale of a friends' reunion

I had seen this book tweeted about on Twitter for a few months and was so intrigued by it, I eventually asked the author if I could read it and review it. I was provided with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

27: Six Friends - One Year is the type of novel I would like to have written myself. If you liked One Day by David Nicholls, you will enjoy this.
We are taken through their initial meeting up again and shown how each character has progressed since leaving university. But don't be fooled. Life is never as simple as that. Those who appear successful may have other demons to contend with; those without courage find a deep-seated resolve when they most require it. What is clear is that the waters are muddied. Spanners are thrown in the proverbial works and the relationships between the friends become increasingly strained in some cases. Pedestals are there to be dismantled. Pretending to your friends in order not to lose face, is also a theme explored in the book, as well as hiding true feelings. I engaged with each of the characters and in particular applauded one who had a lot of guts in the end. Dave, though likeable, I found weak, although he went back up slightly in my estimation towards the end.
Although each character is 27, readers of any age would be able to relate to this (I'm 40 and left university a long time ago!) It reminded me slightly of when I met up with a group of friends 15 years after leaving university and we had to fill each other in on our lives - the good, the bad and the ugly.
I hadn't really envisaged a tragedy which occurred and thought it a better book for it. This is a novel full of dilemmas, which could happen to any of us and our friends. Very real, very believable and very refreshing. I will look out for more by this writer.


So there you go! For the record, I rated this 5 stars.

You can buy the book on Amazon:- http://amzn.to/X0xqy8 (UK) & http://amzn.to/XEtNwr (US)
and it's also available in paperback - http://amzn.to/W7oloK

Have a great weekend everyone and I'll see what I can conjure up for next week. Sooz
PS just for your info, authors soon to be featured on the blog include Nicky Wells and Alice Peterson! Yay!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Author in Focus at The Little Reader Library

Hi folks
Bet you didn't expect to see me back so soon! Anyway, Lindsay over at The Little Reader Library kindly hosts me today talking about inspiration, books and lots more.
Enjoy!
http://thelittlereaderlibrary.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/author-in-focus-susan-buchanan.html?m=0

AND I really will be back tomorrow morning with a great book review for you - have I ever let you down before?
Sooz

Creative Spaces guest post on Victoria M Johnson's blog

Yep, cold, frosty and sunshine again - I'm very glad to have this blog, if only to remind me that we do sometimes get a respite from the rain/wind/hail/snow!

First up today is a guest post which I was invited to do, explaining what my writing space means to me. I don't write (any more) in coffee shops as JK Rowling did, but what do I do and how important is it to me?

Enjoy!

http://victoriamjohnson.com/blog/


Tune in tomorrow for this week's book review - believe me - you don't want to miss it - it's a 5 star!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Most Romantic Places to Date - Chicklitbee

Morning everyone
Yep, another busy week on the blog. Today Nancy at Chicklitbee is kindly hosting me, whilst I talk about what constitutes the most romantic places to go on a date and where they are, in my most humble opinion.
Enjoy!
http://www.chicklitbee.com/2013/02/author-guest-post-most-romantic-places.html

Tune in tomorrow when I will be featured on The Little Reader Library. For now, it's back to my hot water bottle - backache is a bitch!
Sooz

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A Very British Blog Tour

Happy Tuesday and we still have sunshine in Scotland - incredible! Pity there is still frost on the ground, but you can't have everything.

There are a lot of blogger awards around at the minute and today's is no exception. I was nominated for A Very British Blog Tour by fellow novelist, Terry Tyler - http://terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/


 
 
The idea is to visit the blogs of and show support to the talented group of writers I've nominated for this award, so we can learn a bit more about them and what makes them tick. We all answer the same questions, but of course our responses will be quite different.
 
 
 
 
By the way, we British have certain conventions, traditions, and procedures that are expected. There is a dress code in the reading of this British blog and you are expected to comply with it.
For example...

Gentlemen will wear suits, white shirts and dark ties. (Military ties are expected wherever possible). Ladies will wear dresses (one inch above the knee, no higher, no lower) and floral summer hats.  Well, not really, in my case. I am currently wearing my Other Half's bathrobe, as I spilt coffee down mine! 
A break for TEA and cucumber sandwiches is expected at some stage and is permissible (now that IS likely to happen)
The list at the bottom of the page is not a queue. It is an invitation and you are expected to accept that invitation and support the home-grown product. Now then, let us proceed in an orderly fashion. As you know, we are all very boring and staid in Britain, aren’t we?
Well, there’s a myth about the British and your starter for ten Stuffy, class conscious, boring,
staid! But is this still relevant in today’s world? Let’s find out from our wonderful writers what they feel about it.

On with the show!


Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?
A. I was born north east of Glasgow, and I now live south east of Glasgow - I have moved around in between, though!

Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?

A. Nope! I did a degree in languages at the University of Glasgow and as part of my degree, I had to do a year's residency in Spain (I chose Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) and also 3 months in France (Toulouse). I also lived for a short time in the Vendée region of France, as a holiday rep on a campsite and taught English in Barcelona for a few months.  But I am based in Britain now and have been for some time, although recent jobs took me all over the world, from Azerbaijan to Romania, Washington State to Japan.

Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?

A. Well, clearly I'm biased, but it has to be the Scottish Highlands. I love the area around Glencoe. That said I do have a particular penchant for the Isle of Arran, also known as Little Scotland.


Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?

A. Yes, my books always have a local theme and a foreign location, too. Sign of the Times had sections set in Ayrshire, Glencoe and Glasgow, whereas The Dating Game was more Glasgow orientated.


 
Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish - about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?

A: I think this is still true in many cases, particularly with the older generation. I do, however, think it's less true of Scots and Northerners. We are far more frank. But, I think we are a nation which doesn't like to complain about poor service and gets mortified for example at the idea of sending back food in a restaurant (I am the exception here, having travelled a lot, I won't tolerate poor service, but there's a way of doing it, to ensure they don't spit in your food!)  Plus I cry at the drop of a hat!


Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?

A. Hmm, I'm trying to think. There are a lot of characters in Sign of the Times, but no, I would have to say they are each unique and generally being Scottish don't have the stiff upper lip thing going on. Lucy has a definite aloofness, but it's not from being British.

Q. Tell us about one of your recent books

A.  The Dating Game came out in November and is about a Glaswegian, workaholic recruitment consultant who doesn't have time to find a partner, never mind have a relationship. But she sees an ad on the bus one day for Happy Ever After dating agency for professional people and she signs up. The novel is the tale of her dates, escapades and what happens next. Basically chicklit for a 30/40 something audience, although readers have proven to be from 18 to 60+ so far!

Q. What are you currently working on?
A: I am currently working on growing a baby! I am 34 weeks pregnant and on maternity leave, so I'm having a break at the minute - enjoying my last weeks of freedom. But my third novel, What If is expected to be out in November.  It's the story of Casanova Cameron who has always played the field and then one day wakes up mid-forties and realises he's no longer living the life he wants. He then looks back at the decisions he has made over the years and wonders what if he had chosen differently. The novel charts how he goes about trying to undo some of those decisions to get to where he wants to be now.

 Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
A: What's that then? Well, in all seriousness, when I do get any free time, I tend to go out with friends for dinner or to classical music concerts. This is getting more difficult, as I am really fidgety now. I always have to book an aisle seat! I also love reading and now that I am on mat leave, have been reading a fair bit - then there's the blogging, tweeting and occasional Facebooking...need I go on?
 

Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?

A. Although my books have a Scottish theme, but I also include foreign parts, so the idea is that they should be for a global audience. I have lots of people from the US for example, telling me they love some of the words I use. Sometimes they don't realise they are Scottish slang which have been used, as opposed to British v American English, but the fact that they like it is enough for me.  The themes in my books are relevant wherever you are in the world - all realistic and down-to-earth.


Q. Can you provide links to your work?

Yep!
 Sign of the Times (UK) - http://amzn.to/GKqZGd  

Sign of the Times (US) - http://amzn.to/IYN0Fc

The Dating Game (UK) - http://amzn.to/RuSl7Y

The Dating Game (US) - http://amzn.to/WZQtZK

Facebook - www.facebook.com/susan.buchanan.author 
Twitter - susan_buchanan

Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4216164.Susan_Buchanan


I have also tagged the following people in this, who hopefully will be doing their own VERY BRITISH blog posts!
I will attach their posts to mine, as soon as they have done them!

Seumas Gallacher - http://seumasgallacher.com/
Vanessa Wester - http://vanessawesterwriter.blogspot.co.uk/
Lizzie Lamb - http://www.lizzielamb.co.uk/
Jaimie Admans - http://jaimieadmans.com/
Pedro Yevad (Peter Davey) - http://peterdavey2.com/
Mackenzie Brown - http://mackenzie-brown.tumblr.com/

There would be more, but it's a blog award intensive month...

Tune in tomorrow when I will be hosted over at Chicklitbee discussing the most romantic places in the world to go on a date.


 



Monday, 18 February 2013

On The Book Tart's virtual sofa

It's Monday and as promised, my good self and Kat at The Book Tart had a wee chat about everything from owls to Rupert Penry Jones. C'mon, did you really think I'd leave him out?!
She also read, enjoyed and reviewed THE DATING GAME and reminded me of some fun bits I'd almost forgotten!
Enjoy!
Sooz

http://thebooktart.com/new-fiction-release/interview-with-susan-buchanan/

http://thebooktart.com/book-review/the-queen-of-tarts-review-of-the-dating-game/

Tune in tomorrow for The Very British Blog Tour.

And just whilst I'm here, the winner of an ecopy of A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr is T A Woods. Myself and Meredith will be in touch shortly. Congratulations!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Morning folks! Yes, yes, I realise I was meant to post this yesterday, but well, I was a little sleepy and bunked off for the day (mostly!)
When the sun's out in Scotland, you've got to make the most of it!
Anyway, here is the 2nd blogger award I've been nominated for this year:- The Very Inspiring Blogger Award.


The lovely Kate Frost nominated me - http://kate-frost.co.uk/blog/?p=341

Basically, the gist is I have to tell you 7 things about myself (so this will be a much shorter post than last week's award post!)

1) I used to have ailurophobia (yes, I had to look it up, too!). I am not a cat person - in fact, until very recently I was pretty terrified of them. My grandmother's cat badly scratched me when I was about four, so I figure that's where my fear of cats came from.
2) Out of the 45 countries I have visited, my favourite vacation would have to be the one I took to Kenya, because of all the animals we saw on safari (even though most of the holiday was spent at the beach!)
3) I lost 2 1/2 stone (35lbs) on WeightWatchers a few years ago - although being 7 months pregnant now, a lot of that has gone back on!
4) I love rom coms, disaster movies (eg Twister, Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow), but have too active an imagination to watch any horror films or true crime, as I get bad nightmares.
5) One of my front teeth shouldn't be there. When I was 11, prior to an indoor athletics training session, we were playing at hide n seek in the dark, when I had a full head-on collision with a friend, which knocked me unconscious. I woke up with my tooth in my hand. So, being 11, I popped it back in. Only 4 months later, at the dentist, did she wonder why my nerve was dead...but it caused no problems and had embedded nicely, so she left it in. 29 years later, it's still going strong!
6) I had a great-uncle who was a Franciscan friar. He was delighted I was studying Italian and gave me some Latin words to work out the Italian for. I then asked him the Latin words for dog, cat, etc. When I got to car, he looked at me funny and said there isn't one - just one for chariot. Okay then. I then asked him the Latin word for washing machine - he gave up on me at that point!  #blondemoment
7) I have loads of food allergies (a total pain, being the foodie that I am). I have been allergic to kiwi fruit since I was 17 and bizarrely in my early 30s, developed allergies to peanuts, walnuts, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, strawberries and cherries - oh and wait for it - horse dander! The last doesn't affect me much, but it's a pity I'm allergic to all that fruit that's good for me!

Anyway, those are  my 7 pieces of info.

I'd like to nominate for this award:
Terry Tyler - Romantic suspsense and women's fiction writer http://terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/
Dave P Perlmutter - true crime author (I haven't read Dave's book yet, but it's one of the few true crime I will, as I get the impression it's not gory, just unlucky!) http://thewrongplaceatthewrongtime.blogspot.co.uk/
Electa Graham - vampire novelist http://electagraham.com/electas-blog.html
Nicky Wells - rock star romance novelist - http://nickywellsklippert.wordpress.com/
Maria Savva - contemporary fiction novelist - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1418272.Maria_Savva/blog

I'm only nominating 5 instead of 15, simply because I have been nominated for three blog awards in one week and don't want to overload anyone.

The rules of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:
  1. Display the award logo on your blog
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you
  3. State 7 things about yourself
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them
Tune in tomorrow, 18th Feb, when I will be featured over on The Book Tart's blog.
Have a great Sunday everyone
Sooz

Friday, 15 February 2013

Interview with US chicklit author Meredith Schorr

Happy Friday everyone. Hope you all have great plans for the weekend.
Here with me today is author of A State of Jane, Meredith Schorr - I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.
And remember Meredith has kindly offered an ecopy of A State of Jane to one lucky reader! All you have to do is comment on today's blog post to be in with a chance of winning.


I described A State of Jane  as ‘does what it says on the tin - good solid chicklit’ How would you describe it?

I tend to describe my books as “realistic chicklit” in that the situations my characters find themselves in are not so far-fetched that they couldn’t happen in real life.  I also strive to create believable and flawed characters to whom my readers can relate. But I quite like “good solid chicklit” as well!

Have you ever been so wrapped up in someone that like Jane, you have sidelined your friends, family etc? (be honest - we’ve all done it)

If I’m being completely honest, I have to say that I have never been so wrapped up on a man that I let my other relationships fall by the wayside.  It’s probably because I’ve never been that girl who always has a boyfriend.  I’ve spent more time single than in relationships and so I’ve come to rely on my friends and family too much.  And when I am in a relationship, I like to talk about it and analyse it Ad Nauseum which is much more fun to do with girlfriends!  I do admit to cancelling plans with friends a few times in favour of going out with a guy I really liked but not nearly as often as it’s been done to me.  I have enough good-will in the friendship bank that my friends have understood and not held those rare occasions against me. 

How did you choose the places in New York which Jane frequented and are they real, a mix or fictional?

All of the places Jane frequented are real and I’ve actually been to most of them myself.  I purposely had Jane and her friends go to bars I went to in my mid-late twenties.   Since it’s been a while, I had to rely on memory! 

Do you see there being  a continuation or sequel of Jane’s story?

I’ve had so many readers tell me that they want more Jane and so while it wasn’t something I initially planned to do, I have decided that my fourth novel will be a sequel to A State of Jane.  While I thought the ending of A State of Jane was perfect for that story, I’d like to see what trouble the new and improved Jane can get into. 
 

What are you working on now and is it in the same genre?

I am in edits of my third novel.  It is a chicklit romance about a very popular book reviewer/blogger who is asked to review the debut novel of her high school nemesis, i,e. “the mean girl.” A legal secretary by day, she starts dating a hottie attorney from her law firm who insists that she is hiding behind other people’s books because she is afraid to admit her secret ambition to be a writer herself. 

I loved Jane’s flatmate and the juxtaposition which occurred between them, which was very effective. It showed the changing view towards Jane. Where else do you think you did those most effectively and with which character(s)?

I’m glad you thought that worked!  I think there was a similar turn of events between Jane and her officemate, Andrew, but I also liked the development of Jane’s relationship with her mother.  Jane spends most of the book trying to hide her failures from her mother because she assumes her mom is as closely attached to Jane’s “life plan” as she is but they come to a subtle understanding later in the book which I found to be quite poignant but not so over-the-top to be unbelievable. 

The striptease scene was very funny. I’m sure we all have moments we can recall with utter horror in our dating past. Are you willing to share any of yours (stripteases aside!)

I’m glad you liked that scene! Oh boy – I was once on a blind date where I knew immediately I was not attracted to the guy at all. Since I agreed to the date, I decided to make the most of it.  Just because a romantic relationship is out of the question, doesn’t mean two people cannot have a nice time. Three lethal margaritas later, I was “beer-goggling” big time and wound up completely making out with the guy up and down the streets of Manhattan.  I woke up with serious regrets and an email from him entitled “Cloud Nine” wherein he told me that he had the time of his life and had already told all of his friends about me!  I totally blew him off.  I was definitely the douchbag in that scenario and immediately implemented the one margarita maximum rule…

Jane’s colleague, whose advice she took too literally, got her into a whole new social scene and a lot of bother, even adopting an alter-ego. Was this the section of the book you had most fun writing and if not, what was?

I absolutely loved writing the scene with “Frances” and “Buddy”!  I also had a blast with the Bob/Trish housewarming party scene when Jane claimed to be using all of the guys she was dating for sex and then came to her “epiphany.”  The St. Patrick’s Day Parade scene was fun as well – I also got a ticket for open container one year at the parade J To be honest, the entire writing process was a hoot because I loved watching Jane’s plans get thwarted over and over and over again. I’m a cruel bitch, what can I say?

You’ve written another novel, Just Friends With Benefits. I confess to not having downloaded that yet, but I aim to. How is it different and similar to A State of Jane? What can you tell us about it?

Just Friends with Benefits is similar to A State of Jane in that both books are humorous chicklit with relatable main characters and lots of interaction with friends and family.  Just Friends with Benefits has a strong romantic element as well though.  The main character tries to turn the one who got away in college into “the one” and along the way ignores all of the signs that suggest he might not be right for her. 
 

Which three adjectives would you use to describe Jane and which other three to describe her alter-ego?

I think both Jane and her alter-ego are way too complex to describe in three adjectives but here are a few:

Jane – naïve, hopeful, anal, self-absorbed, optimistic, romantic, quirky, clueless

Frances – spontaneous, spunky, calculating, selfish, flirty, condescending

Fun stuff

As always, the quintessential question, who is your Rupert Penry-Jones?

I admit that I was not familiar with Rupert Penry-Jones and had to look him up.  Once I saw his handsome face, I understood the question!  I would have to put Bradley Cooper in the top spot these days.  He’s just so incredibly sexy. 

Apart from chicklit, which other genres do you like to read?

Dystopian Young Adult.  I loved the Hunger Games Trilogy and have read the first two books in the Divergent series.  I try to pepper my chicklit addiction with an occasional series like the above. 

Favourite place in New York

My favourite street in the city is Irving Place in Gramercy Park.   I was looking to buy an apartment a few years back and made a much higher offer than I could afford for a building on Irving Place. The apartment was tiny and needed to be completely renovated from its 1970s style but there was a gorgeous roof-top garden and it was also across the street from Pete’s Tavern, the oldest continuously operating bar in Manhattan.  It was so quintessential New York that I couldn’t resist.  Unfortunately I was completely outbid. 

Where would you take a visitor to New York, which is off the tourist trail?

Greenwich Village – I get lost every time I head out there but if you’re going to get lost, it’s the best place to do it because there are so many sidewalk restaurants, bars and boutiques –It’s great for people watching, a date, a Sunday-funday, a romantic stroll etc.  You name it. There is something for everyone.  Don’t forget to bring your wallet though, because it ain’t cheap J

Musicals or plays? And your favourite.

I love musicals!  I take my mother to a Broadway show every year for her birthday and have seen some of the great ones.  My favourites include Wicked, Hairspray and Mama Mia.

Do you have any favourite authors or TV shows which are not American? If so, which (I ask this, as in the UK people watch a lot of US TV and although I don’t, I read a lot of US writers!)

Some of my favourite authors are not American! Sophie Kinsella is my absolute favourite.  I’m a huge fan of Marian Keye’s older works and credit her novel Watermelon for my addiction to chicklit.  Newer non-American writers I follow include Samantha Stroh Bailey and Talli Roland, both Canadian.  And although I haven’t started it yet, I have a feeling I am going to love The Dating Game by Susan Buchanan.  I think you might know her… As far as television, I am addicted to Downton Abbey.

If money was no object and you could write from anywhere in the world, describe the location?

I would love to write from a house on the water - have you ever seen Something’s Gotta Give with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson?  I want that beach house in The Hamptons!  

Who would you have play Jane’s flatmate and male work colleague in a TV serialisation of A State of Jane?

I would have Rachelle Lefevre play Lainie and Prince Harry play Andrew.  (I know Prince Harry is not an actor but since I doubt A State of Jane will be made into a television show, although a girl can dream, I am not straying from my dream cast!

Alcohol or chocolate and your favourite of whichever you choose

My drink of choice these days is prosecco.  I do not have much of a sweet tooth, but I do like dark chocolate.

How many colours or crazy styles (if any) have you had your hair in your lifetime?

My natural hair colour is very dark brown, almost black.  The craziest thing I ever did was highlight my entire head blonde – I thought blondes had more fun and wanted to see for myself.  I loved it for the first 3 months and then looked in the mirror one day and freaked out because it just wasn’t me and it looked so fake.  Ugh.  Never again.  It was years before I was finally convinced by a hair stylist to let him give me subtle blonde highlights to warm up my face.  I love it!  It looks natural and is much more fitting to my face and my personality.   As far as hair style, I’ve never been very adventurous.  Ever since I made the mistake of getting a bi-level haircut (the female mullet) in 8th grade and cried for weeks, the biggest change I’ve made was cutting bangs or shortening my layers. 

What will you be doing for Valentine’s Day this year?

Kind of a sore subject as my boyfriend and I just broke up last week after 1.5 years… I will probably go home and curl up on my couch with a glass of wine and a good book.  I don’t think I will wait 365 days to get back into the dating scene like Jane did though... Do you know anyone?
Well that's it for today - thanks for joining us, Meredith.
You can keep in touch with Meredith and her work via the following means:-

Buy the Book!
Amazon :   http://amzn.to/YiWzBS (US)
 
 
Tune in tomorrow, when I will be taking part in another blog award.
Have a great weekend
Sooz
 
 

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Special Valentine's Post

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Hope you enjoy it, whether you are shirking the commercial nature of the day, being inundated with roses and chocolates, or celebrating singledom and happy about it.

I thought it might be fun to ask Gill's dates what they would get her for Valentine's Day, if they were lucky enough to still be with her then, and where they would take her on the night itself. So let's hear what the guys from The Dating Game had to say. Enjoy!
First up - Anton!
Well, I would probably buy her tickets to a Shostakovich concert, or perhaps Stravinsky, as I know she loves classical music. If money were no object, I'd love to take her to Vienna, to the concert hall there. In reality, perhaps I'd take her to a Russian restaurant, to see what she makes of our cuisine and culture. It's not all borscht you know. That's beetroot soup, to those who don't know.





Next- Charlie.

Well, depending on how well I knew her by then, it might be lingerie from Agent Provacateur - expensive, I know, but worth it. I can just picture her curves in a little number I saw in their window recently.
I'd take her to a spa hotel, where she could be pampered and we could stay overnight and eat seafood and drink fine wines. Of course, it would have to be a few days before or after the day itself, as I spend Valentine's Day with my daughter.







Sean - Hmm. Let's see. I don't really know her well enough yet to decide, although I'd like to, so I might try and get her some Irish handmade chocolates and a huge A2 size card.
If there were any good gigs on, I'd take her to one of those, after a meal at a traditional Scottish restaurant. In fact, I still have some contacts in the music industry, let me see what tickets I can get.



Gary - Oh wow, what a question. What do women like? I'd probably go to Frasers or Debenhams and ask the sales assistant's advice on the 'in' perfume to get. And I love to get girls soft toys - all women like teddy bears, don't they? I'd go to Build A Bear and design one specially. And roses never go wrong do they?
I'd take her to a fine dining restaurant, preferably small and intimate, but nothing too flashy.



Liam - I'd like to buy her a dress. She has a beautiful figure and she covers it up far too much. She has great legs. I'd also buy her a bracelet, necklace or some other piece of jewellery - not too expensive - don't want to scare her off - it's early days yet.
I'd take her to a restaurant far from the city, or perhaps I would cook for her. Yes, in fact, I would cook for her. I love to cook and without boasting, I'm pretty good. I'd set my dining room up like a small restaurant, to show I had made the effort and to have everything perfect.



Well, guys and girls, these are just some of the men Gill dates in THE DATING GAME. So which do you think she should choose? And which scenario interests you most?

Tune in tomorrow for an interview with US chicklit author Meredith Schorr  and enjoy the rest of Valentine's Day.
Sooz





Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Grand Prize Winners - Heartbreaker Blog Hop

Just a quick note to announce the Grand Prize Winners for the Heartbreaker Blog Hop -

Kindle Fire Winner - Ashley M

$100 Amazon voucher winner - Jess987

Swag Pack - Meghan Stith

Congratulations!

The Liebster Award 2013



Many of you will recall that I received this award in 2012 - well, we made it to Feb 2013, without me being nominated again!
Anyway, thanks to fellow author Sandra Nikolai for the nomination.

As required by the Liebster nominee, I’ve pasted the Liebster award in my blog post and will provide a link back to the nominator's blog. In my case, it's Sandra at http://sandranikolaiauthor.blogspot.ca
Next I have to list 11 random facts about me, then answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated me.

I then proceed to nominate 11 bloggers to follow after me and come up with 11 new questions for them. I post the whole thing on my blog, hoping to bring new readers to it.
 
Of course I am giving 11 random facts which are different from last year's!
Right, let's get out of the starting blocks then!
 
1) I have 3 nephews, who I like to refer to as Hewy, Dewey and Louie, although they are more crazy!
2) I'm currently 7 months pregnant with my first baby - at 40!
3)I have published 2 novels and already have another 7 in the pipeline - never a shortage of ideas
4) I ran the Glasgow 10K in 53 mins 36 seconds in 2011
5) I am very accident prone, or I would have been running in the Great Scots Run half-marathon - but had to pull out a few weeks before through injury
6) I love food! Pretty much any food, most cuisines - I once ate crocodile in a cream sauce - didn't like it  much!
7) I get really ratty when I get bad customer service and I am not slow to point it out! (used to work in customer service aeons ago - there's no excuse for bad service!)
8) My dad was a gymnast and I have a cousin who was an Olympic boxer. Myself and my two sisters were track athletes.
9) I've been to Japan twice - once there was an earthquake and the other time a typhoon - I'm not in a mad rush to go back.
 
10) If I were to write a non-fiction book, it would be a travel guide, as I am travel daft.
11) I really don't like reality TV programmes. I can handle house makeover programmes (sometimes) and cooking programmes, but celebrity for celebrity's sake 'does my head in'!
 
Now for the 11 question posed by author Sandra Nikolai:-
1) Are you a morning person?
Yep, but not a 5 o'clock riser, but even at the weekend I am up at pretty much the same time.
2) What inspires you to blog?
I initially started blogging when I published my first book, Sign of the Times and I wanted to have somewhere readers could find me and find out about my work. I originally posted progress reports and 'tips' for writers, but then I decided to do book reviews and interviews with other authors, as I was so busy writing, I had no time to read. The only way I could read was if I set myself a book to review!
3) What is your current or next WIP about?
My next novel, due out Nov 2013 is called What If  and is about a guy called Cameron who wakes up one day and wonders if he's living the life he's supposed to be. He then sets out to change things, revisiting his past, to see if he can work out the future.
4) What is the one thing you’d like to do but haven’t had the opportunity?
I'd like to have either my own language school  - I speak five languages - or my own writing workshop/bookstore.
5)Name one of your favorite fictional characters and explain your choice.
I love Bridget Jones. When the book first came out, everyone said she was based on me! I figure I am not the only person who has ever been told that! Blue soup was something I could aspire to!
6) What is your pet peeve?
Lateness in others. Unless there is a really good reason why they are late, it's pretty much saying, my time is more important than yours. It bugs me no end!
7) What would be your ideal holiday getaway?
If a beach holiday, Bora Bora is somewhere I would love to go and never been. Being a travel nut, hard to pick just one. I'd love to go on safari to South Africa and also go to the Masai Mara. I'd also love to go to New Zealand to the Marlborough wine region and tour all the vineyards, hic!
 
 
 
8) Who/what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a linguist - a translator/interpreter. I didn't quite do that exactly, but since I left university 17 years ago, there have only been two years where I haven't used my languages. I worked in European and then International Sales.
9) What is your biggest regret?
Not winning the Scottish athletics championships when I was teenager. I came fifth.
10) Name two of your favorite cities in the world.
Barcelona - I used to live there and in fact, part of my second novel, The Dating Game is set there - it's so cosmopolitan, but with such history and the food is amazing and the Catalan people are so hardworking.
 
 
 
New York - I've been three times and love it. My fave place is Bryant Park. I love the people, the food (surprise!) the restaurants, and the fact there is so much to do. I love the bookshops and cafes of  Greenwich Village.  Plus I love the theatre aspect.
11) What are the best five words that would describe you?
Chatterbox, outgoing, determined, impatient and loyal
 
 
And now for my questions to my nominated bloggers who are:
 
Carol Hedges - author of Jigsaw Pieces among others - www.carolhedges.blogspot.com
Vanessa Wester - author of Hybrid - www.vanessawesterwriter.blogspot.com
Samantha Stroh-Bailey - author of Finding Lucas - www.samanthastrohbailey.blogspot.ca
Libby Mercer - author of Unmasking Maya - www.libby-mercer.blogspot.com
Kat at The Book Tart - excellent book reviewer - www.thebooktart.com
Monique McDonell - author of Hearts Afire - www.moniquemcdonell.weebly.com
Carol Wright - another amazing book reviewer - www.dizzycslittlebookblog.blogspot.com
NE David - author of Feria and Carol's Christmas - www.nedavidauthor.com/blog-1
Estelle Wilkinson - author of It Started With A Click - www.estellewilkinson.wordpress.com
Meredith Schorr - author of A State of Jane - www.meredithschorr.com
Marina Stevkovska - book reviewer of varied tastes - www.chicklibrarycat.blogspot.co.uk
 
 
 
 
1) I have a penchant for Rupert Penry Jones - who is your Rupert Penry Jones?
2) Countryside, seaside or mountains?
3) Soap operas, dramas or comedies?
4) If you're a writer, which genre would you like to write in, which you haven't yet? If a blogger, which genre would you consider reviewing, which you haven't yet?
5) If you were a sport, what would it be and why?
6) Chocolate or cheese and which type? - yes, you really do have to choose between them!
 
 
 
 
 
 
7) Wackiest activity you have ever participated in (eg bungee jumping)
8) Describe your ideal house/home?
9) Any pets? Tell us about them. If not, would you like to have a pet if circumstances were different? Which? Why?
10) Favourite Valentine's activity - keep it clean!
11) In your opinion, where is the most romantic place in the world.
 
That's it folks! Hope you nominees enjoy it!
Tune in tomorrow, Valentine's Day for a special post.