05/12/2016

December's Daring Read - Are you ready for it?

December's daring read has been announced, will The Martian be a title to tempt you?





The Martian

Andy Weir

Synopsis

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.

But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

18/11/2016

Author Interview: Stephen Lloyd Jones


Where do you typically write?
I’m currently writing this in a coffee shop, next to a large latte. I like to work in different places but I do the bulk of my writing on the sofa at home, the laptop propped on a cushion. With the exception of rodeo riding, it’s probably the worst way of treating your spine possible. I urgently need to buy a desk, but at the moment there’s nowhere to put it.

Tell us about your writing process.
It usually starts with a single image – a snapshot of a scene. That percolates for a couple of months until I begin to sense the story and the characters around it. I don’t need to have everything worked out before I start, but I do like a rough sense of where I’m going. Once the actual writing begins I can motor along fairly comfortably, averaging a few thousand words a day.

Tell us about your publishing experience.
I used to walk past the offices of Headline Publishing on the way to work and fantasise about being called there to a meeting one day. When my agent phoned and told me I had a deal with them, it was a surreal moment. Shocking and thrilling. I was standing outside a pub with the guys from work, a few hundred yards from the Headline building. It felt like my life had just jumped out of the tracks.

In what ways do you promote your work?
With any opportunity I try to decide whether it’s going to be more beneficial than spending the time writing. There are so many ways and so much time you can devote to it, that if you’re not careful you’ll find you’ve stopped producing any actual work. I’ve worked in media all my adult life and although it’s oft quoted it’s true nonetheless: the most powerful advertising is word of mouth. It’s human nature to share positive experiences. What matters most is creating the best experiences you can with the talent you have.

What are some of your current projects?
I’ve just delivered the sequel to ‘The String Diaries’ to Headline. It’s called ‘Written In The Blood’, and is out on 6th November. Now that’s done, I’m starting work on my third novel. It’s an idea I’ve had for a while, and I’m incredibly excited about it.

Where can my readers find you?
My website is  www.StephenLloydJones.com.
I’m on twitter as Stephen Lloyd Jones (@sljonesauthor).

This interview was first published at https://neverimitate.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/author-interview-stephen-lloyd-jones/

14/11/2016

A little more about November's author...

Stephen Lloyd Jones
      
Stephen Lloyd Jones was born in 1973, and grew up in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire. He studied at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and now lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and far too many books.

His first novel, The String Diaries, was published by Headline in 2014. It was selected by Amazon as one of their top ten crime and thrillers of 2013. Translation rights to The String Diaries have so far been sold in six countries. A sequel, Written In the Blood, was published in 2015, also by Headline.
In 2016, Headline published his latest terrifying new thriller, The Disciple. 
 
‘A neo-gothic treat; original, richly imagined and powerfully told’ – The Guardian

‘[Jones] doles out his narrative revelations with patience, turning over his cards deliberately like a well-trained casino dealer’ – Entertainment Weekly

The String Diaries is terrifying, and deliciously so… a remarkably adept first novel..  a page-turner, all right, a sophisticated horror story that induces elemental terror.’ – NY Daily News
‘A gripping, multi-stringed thriller…The String Diaries is a page turner, and will keep you awake late into the night’  – SFX

‘You don’t see many debuts more ambitious and memorable than this one.’ – Booklist (starred review)

‘A big debut.. fast and furious.. Terrific stuff.’ – The Bookseller

‘Stephen Lloyd Jones has created a new mythology of the monstrous to rival Stoker’s or Shelley’s… this is a book of magic for the doubtful, a fantastic tale for skeptics, at once transporting and convincing. –  Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist

‘I have never read a book with such frenzied impatience. The String Diaries is unputdownable. Stephen Lloyd Jones has written a debut novel as frightening and layered as Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian and as clever and riveting as Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.’ -Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon, The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh

‘I loved this book. –  Marcus Sakey, author of Brilliance

The String Diaries is an engrossing, mind-bending supernatural tale, and Stephen Lloyd Jones is as exciting a new voice as I’ve come across in some time, a writer who understands what makes the pulse race’ –  Michael Koryta, author of Those Who Wish Me Dead

‘Reading The String Diaries made me feel, in the best sense, like a child again. Nothing was more important than the fate of Stephen Lloyd Jones’s courageous and very human heroine Hannah Wilde. Meals went uncooked, bills went unpaid, as I waited to find out if she would win freedom for herself and her daughter against the forces of darkness. I was scared, enthralled and amazed by this stunning debut’ Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

‘At once chilling and soulful, this hauntingly powerful tale weaves together the best elements of the psychological thriller, fantasy horror, and historical fiction. Stephen Lloyd Jones has penned a deeply inventive, dazzling debut novel’ Eliot Pattison, author of Edgar Award-winning The Skull Mantra

‘So gripping you’ll want to read late into the night; so terrifying you shouldn’t’ – Simon Mayo, the Radio 2 Book Club

07/11/2016

Daring to delve into The String Diaries?

A family is hunted by a centuries-old monster: a man with a relentless obsession who can take on any identity.
 
The String Diaries opens with Hannah frantically driving through the night—her daughter asleep in the back, her husband bleeding out in the seat beside her. In the trunk of the car rests a cache of diaries dating back 200 years, tied and retied with strings through generations. The diaries carry the rules for survival that have been handed down from mother to daughter since the 19th century.
But how can Hannah escape an enemy with the ability to look and sound like the people she loves?
Stephen Lloyd Jones's debut novel is a sweeping thriller that extends from the present day, to Oxford in the 1970s, to Hungary at the turn of the 19th century, all tracing back to a man from an ancient royal family with a consuming passion—a boy who can change his shape, insert himself into the intimate lives of his victims, and destroy them.
If Hannah fails to end the chase now, her daughter is next in line. Only Hannah can decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to finally put a centuries-old curse to rest.

"The String Diaries is a neo-gothic treat; original, richly imagined and powerfully told."
 The Guardian.

Request a copy now from your local library and let us know your thoughts #Readingdaringly

24/10/2016

Author Interview: Sarah Winman

This interview was first published by Jonathan O'Brien on the Waterstones blog, June 17th 2015.




"With both of Sarah Winman's novels set in Cornwall, it only made sense for one of our booksellers in the area to sit down with her and find out what it is about the area that she keeps on coming back to. Sarah took the time to answer questions from Libby in our Truro shop before the publication of her second novel.

 
Libby: Both when God Was A Rabbit and your new novel, A Year Of Marvellous Ways, are set in Cornwall, do you do your writing and research there? Are you thinking of a specific place in A Year Of Marvellous Ways and if so why have you chosen it?
Sarah: I do escape to Cornwall whenever I need peace or I need to focus my writing. I am very fortunate that my mum still maintains my grandparent’s home in Looe - Looe being the Cornish setting for When God Was A Rabbit.
The inspiration for Marvellous came from a beautiful tidal creek off the Carrick Roads in Falmouth called St Just-in-Roseland. Nine years ago, when I first went there, I saw this small boathouse opposite a church and wondered who would live there. Four years ago, I asked myself the same question. But this time I gave myself an answer: a man who was afraid of water and who didn’t believe in God.
Although St Just was the inspiration, I have fictionalised the creek and the surrounding areas to give myself more freedom in the storytelling. I researched a lot in Cornwall, at The Cornwall Records Office and Royal Cornwall Museum, as well as spending much time in the creek itself. These Cornish books were of particular importance too: A.L Rowse: A Cornish Childhood. Fred Majdalany: The Red Rocks of Eddystone. J Henry Harris: Our Cove. And Claude Berry: County Cornwall.

L: Nobody could argue that Cornwall provides a beautiful setting for a novel as has been proved by many earlier novels and it's obvious that you have an affection for the county, where has your interest in using it as a backdrop stemmed from?

S: My grandparents moved to Cornwall when I was 4. It is the county I am most familiar with, the county I have a genuine and longstanding connection with. This is where I turn to when I wish to write about nature. Such familiarity gives me the joy and freedom to write knowingly about the land - about the texture of light, or about the sea, or about the seasons. The fact that Cornwall and I met in childhood is significant, since it allows me to coat my memories with the golden light of nostalgia!
 
L: Missy is an important character at the start whose life in London has led to her initially hidden distress, her image softens as the novel progresses and the story develops. She appeared to me as a launch pad for the plot, was it the same for you? 

S: That’s a very interesting question, and my answer might change as the weeks and months go by. But, for now, I still think the letter from the soldier was the launch pad for the plot. The bottom line, being, that Drake had to get to Cornwall.
However, Missy is very important and I wrote a great deal more about her which I can’t say here, but will tell you when we meet! I love Missy. Missy is the character who introduces the idea of a mermaid – the idea of how life can change; she is the ever-hopeful Missy who won’t let circumstance restrict her. Missy is a survivor. In 50 years time she will be Marvellous. Missy was Drake’s horizon as Marvellous was Paper Jack’s. Both women instinctively knew they deserved better from the men who professed their love.

L: The early part of the novel depicts a very fractured London, spilling over with loneliness. Post-war London is recuperating and so is Francis, how would you describe him when he's in Cornwall and does it reflect in his environment?
S: When Drake arrives in Cornwall he is a broken man – by war, by love – and he sees no point in continuing. But it is nature (and Marvellous, of course) that gives him answers, and begins to heal him. Nature is frightening to him at the start. Then it ignites his curiosity. By the end it provides peace and constancy, beauty and meaning. Nature fades, dies, and regenerates. And so every character in the book is healed by the creek in some way. It is a blessed land, but not in the religious sense that the priests declared. It is a haven after the destructiveness of war; after the inconstancy of love.
 
L: From the outset the character of Marvellous is absolutely enchanting and this continues throughout, have you drawn on anybody from real life?
S: No, not really. She is an amalgam of many people – relatives and old friends, of course, both men and women. But what I knew I needed to do right from the start was to describe her physically to the reader. Like setting down a photograph on the table. Her physicality for me was the key to the enchantment, as you call it. I have an old friend who is very small, who wears glasses, uses a stick and is out and about everywhere in her red mac. She is noticed and brings a smile to everyone. That seemed a good place to start. People are open when they face her, and this openness – receptiveness - is the key to Marvellous’ storytelling.
 
L: The diversity of the Cornish countryside is echoed in all the characters, was this deliberate?
S: It was deliberate because the countryside was there to heal each character in whatever way that needed to happen, and therefore, the countryside becomes its own character. It's interaction with each character is unique.
 
L: It seems unusual for a novel not to have a character that is disliked by the reader, did you choose to use the war as that 'character'?
S: No, not consciously, but I like this suggestion. The likeability of the characters didn’t seem that important to me, even though I don’t find Drake particularly likeable at the beginning. What was important to me, however, was how fractured each character was. It was this wound that would be the key to each person’s journey: the redemptive need to put things right.
 
L: The relationship between Francis and Marvellous comes across, quite beautifully, as being mutually dependent, enabling their strength to deal with their very different futures. Where did the idea for this as a key part of the plot come from?
S: I think we are all mutually dependent. An old friend of mine once said, youth keeps youth alive, and I think that’s true. So in the way that Marvellous can hand on her experience and wisdom – the natural consequence of having lived a long life - so Drake can ignite her memories of youth. She needs him to bear witness to the life she has led. He needs her to love him and to bring forgiveness into his life. She needs him to give her an ending. He needs her to provide a future.
Throughout society, young men and grandmothers have been shown to have enriching and respectful relationships, so I always knew the many possibilities of bringing these two people together.

L: I was totally absorbed from start to finish. I loved all of the characters and the way that their lives interweave. It was a sheer indulgence to read. What's next, have you another book on the way?
S: I have the opportunity to go back and reacquaint with the first book that I ever wrote, a book that wasn’t published at the time. It is a small story; one, primarily, about secret love. There is no magic realism, no breadth of nature, just people doing their very best and dealing with the consequences of decisions and circumstance. I think it will be interesting to go back to it after all this time."

Have you read 'A Year of Marvellous Ways'?  Let us know your thoughts!  We would love to hear from you!

03/10/2016

October's Daring Read - A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman



Are you ready to find out more about our Year of Reading Daringly title for October?
 
Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and has lived alone in a remote Cornish creek for nearly all her life. Lately she's taken to spending her days sitting on a mooring stone by the river with a telescope. She's waiting for something - she's not sure what, but she'll know it when she sees it.
Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the Second World War. When his promise to fulfil a dying man's last wish sees him wash up in Marvellous' creek, broken in body and spirit, the old woman comes to his aid. A Year of Marvellous Ways is a glorious, life-affirming story about the magic in everyday life and the pull of the sea, the healing powers of storytelling and sloe gin, love and death and how we carry on when grief comes snapping at our heels.   
"Gently told, boldly written. A moving story of love and loss and how to cope with both. This book introduces us to Marvellous Ways and Francis Drake; two people destined for simple lives marked by extraordinary events."
Pick up a copy now from your local library and let us know what you think.
    
 

 

26/09/2016

Interview with Max Porter on Grief is the Thing with Feathers - by Foyles



Max Porters debut, the novella Grief is the Thing with Feathers opens in a London flat, as two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness. In their moment of despair they are visited by Crow - antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This self-described sentimental bird is attracted to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and physical pain of loss gives way to memories, this little unit of three begin to heal.
Exclusively for Foyles, we talked to Max about the relationship between his book and Ted Hughes’ work, Crow; how a meeting with a friend of his late father helped him re-shape the role of Crow in his book, and how writing has changed him as an editor.
#ReadingDaringly #DarllenBeiddgar
#MaxPorter #FaberFaber
#Foyles
#LucyDickens

Author photo © Lucy Dickens