Saturday, June 14, 2014

Launch of 'A Cornish Stranger'

Organising a launch party for your book is not easy and can be nerve-racking for the author, but attending someone else’s is pure fun!  And there’s no one better at hosting unusual and interesting launch parties than our very own Liz Fenwick.

On Thursday, Liz’s latest book, A CornishStranger, was released into the world, and it was given a party with real style.  We were served Pimm’s (a very British summer drink), nibbles and Cornish clotted cream ice cream in various flavours, which was truly delicious.  Then we were treated to some live opera singing, courtesy of a very talented young lady, and a reading from the book which drew you in, making you want to start on it immediately!

Now all I need is some free time in which to tackle my TBR pile …

Liz with fellow Heroine Addict Julie Cohen
Many thanks to Liz for a very enjoyable evening and I wish her and A Cornish Stranger huge success!

A Cornish Stranger:-

There’s an old Cornish saying: “Save a stranger from the sea, he’ll turn your enemy …”

When her reclusive grandmother becomes too frail to live alone, Gabriella Blythe moves into the remote waterside cabin on Frenchman’s Creek which has been her grandmother’s home for decades.  Once a celebrated artist, Jaunty’s days are coming to a close, but she is still haunted by events in her past, particularly the sinking of the Lancasteria during the war.

Everything is fine until a handsome stranger arrives in a storm, seeking help.  Fin has been left a family legacy: a delicate watercolour of a cabin above the creek which leads him to this beautiful stretch of Cornish water.  As Fin begins to pick at the clues of the painting, he is drawn into the lives of Gabe and Jaunty, unravelling a remarkable story of identity and betrayal …

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Very Big Announcement...

Because she's too modest to announce it herself, I shall do it for her:

Julie Cohen, Heroine Addict Extraordinaire, has had her book DEAR THING chosen by Richard and Judy as one of their Summer Book Club Selections!

If you don't live in the UK, the best equivalent I can give you is that this is on the order of having Oprah pick your book for her book club, back in the day.

In other words, it's HUGE.

And very, very well deserved. I'm admittedly biased when it comes to Julie's books, and I tend to push them on everyone I meet, but Dear Thing is really quite special. If you haven't read it yet, you really should.

You can read Julie's reaction to the news here, on her publisher's website.

And follow along with the Summer Book Club discussion here.

And on Julie's own website, you can find out more about all her books, and read a lovely excerpt from DEAR THING. Here's a taste:

Dear Thing,
I want to tell you a story.
Once upon a time, when we still believed in wishes, there lived a prince and a princess. The prince was handsome and clever, and the princess was beautiful and good, and they were deeply in love.
That’s something you might ask about one day, when you’re older. What is love? Some people think it’s magic. Some people think it’s biology. In this case, the prince and his princess seemed meant for each other. It’s difficult to explain why; he liked football and she liked concerts. She liked old things, and he liked new. Their life together was a series of compromises. Maybe that’s what a happily ever after really is.
I wish you’d been there to see it. In a way, you were there; the princess and the prince had certainly thought of you. They already wanted you. A perfect child, who would make their love complete.
But the years went by, and went by…and you never appeared.
It’s not much of a fairy tale, is it?

This is the story of Claire and Ben, who are perfectly in love – in fact, who are seemingly perfect in almost every way. Except one. They can’t have a baby.
It’s also the story of Ben’s best friend Romily, who after years of watching Ben and Claire suffer, offers to have a baby for them.
But being pregnant stirs up all kinds of feelings in Romily – feelings she’d rather keep buried, but can’t. Now there are two mothers – and one baby who belongs to both of them, and which only one of them can keep.

(Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have a glass of champagne in Julie's honour. Feel free to join me in the celebration!)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fashion designers and writing

I recently went to see an exhibition of Jean-Paul Gaultier clothing and designs at the Barbican here in London, so today I thought I’d treat you to some photos of his fantastic creations.  And it really is a treat as everything on display was truly amazing!  Outrageous sometimes, but definitely amazing.

Apart from the purely aesthetic pleasure of looking at his creations, they made me think about writing, which is kind of weird.  But I realised that fashion designers are not that different from authors and other creative types.  They take old ideas, turn them on their heads, scramble them a bit, and come up with something new.  That’s what we do too, isn’t it?

We’re always being told there are only so many story lines/plots in the world (I’ve heard seven, ten and twelve – not sure who’s right?) and that everything we write is just a variation on an old, familiar tale.  It’s the same with fashion – there are only so many types of hemline, sleeve design etc you can have.  It’s how you put them together into a whole that makes the difference for all of us.

Monsieur Gaultier is obviously a genius – a bit mad sometimes (in the best possible way), it would seem, but still, a genius.  His collections were not so much wearable clothes, as works of art, although I did actually fancy owning some of the outfits.  I would probably have to be an extra in a remake of Mad Max to be able to carry it off though, but it would be worth it! 

And although I don’t write steampunk, sci-fi or fantasy, after seeing this exhibition I had a sudden yearning to do so.  You can obviously have a lot of fun thinking up fantastic outfits for your characters and ‘fun’ was a word that sprang to mind constantly when seeing the Jean-Paul Gaultier stuff.  The sheer exuberance of some of the clothes on display made you smile and you could tell this was a designer who really enjoys his work.  It was inspiring on so many levels.

Would I feel the same way if I wrote something totally different to my normal genres?  I guess there’s only one way to find out ...  Now all I need are some extra hours in the day!

Really, really wanted this coat!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ghosts and Dreams

Musing at Beaver Run

Living in a place that you have visited off and on over the years gets you to thinking about how you change over time.

I first visited Breckenridge as an eleven year old, day trips up on occasion from where we lived down in Denver. Then I though that I could do anything or be anything I wanted. Mostly I dreamed of being a ski instructing acting vet who wrote on the side.

The next time I visited Breck was as a nineteen year old student. Fresh from my first term at Imperial studying Physics, I think I had already worked out that a life in academia wasn't for me. That Christmas break here in Breck was probably the first time I realised that maybe you couldn't do everything. I also remember it as being incredibly painful as I had an infected wisdom tooth. By the next Christmas I would've moved to Leeds Uni to study Material Science and Engineering and be lighter four wisdom teeth.

It was another fifteen years before I returned to Breckenridge. Older, maybe not wiser. I was thirty four and heart battered and beaten. I was in the verge of starting my self employed period where I juggled radio presenting, voice overs, and writing with project management. And after that holiday I never thought I'd be back.

Yet here I am.

Forty two and actually living here until July. I pass the condo I stayed in back when I was nineteen and wonder if I can see the ghost of me standing at the window. What would she think of me now? My life has taken such twists and turns that I don't think she would ever have guessed I'd be here.

And then I pass the restaurants I ate and drank in eight years ago. It isn't so long but there are still big changes. I catch myself looking for that sad woman out the corner of my eye, I want to hug her and tell her she gets the guy. And she gets to write.

Every so often when I ride the chair lifts, I can see eleven year old me swinging her skis. She is yearning to throw herself down the mountain as fast as possible because nothing matters but the skis and the snow.

I wonder if I squint a bit whether I'll start to see a future me wandering down Main Street... what would she think?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Appealing to Both Sexes?

There are stories that appeal to both sexes, but last week, I was reminded again of how men and women want such different things out of the stories they read or watch on TV/film and how difficult it is to please both at the same time.

My latest obsession is the new TV adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, just called The Musketeers and revamped to give it a much more modern feel.  It’s kind of similar to the recent Robin Hood series which featured Richard Armitage in black leather – the musketeers wear leather too and their outfits are a wonderful blend of old and new.

The man behind this new adaptation, Adrian Hodges, has done a great job IMO and has brought something new to it rather than just reworking the same old story, the way most films have done in the past.  He takes a lot of liberties, of course, but it doesn’t seem to matter and all fits in very nicely.  There’s plenty of sword-fighting and violence to please male viewers (Vinnie Jones was in last week’s episode, which says a lot!), and there are sub-plots galore featuring women, not least the brilliantly selfish Milady de Winter.

The one sub-plot that interested me the most, however, was the budding romance between D’Artagnan and the married Constance, his landlady.  Over many weeks they got to know each other, helped one another out and the viewer could see respect, love and trust building between them until finally, they confessed their love and started an affair.

Photo from
Ok, so maybe it’s wrong to root for a couple where one party is married (to a very obvious buffoon, but still …), but the whole build-up to this romance was very well done and a joy to watch.  So an episode having concluded with that passionate declaration one week, I sat down with great anticipation to watch the next to see their love develop – and had my hopes dashed within minutes.  Why?

The writer obviously felt that this was what the series needed, keeping D’Artagnan free from a love interest and able to go on his way (albeit angry and disillusioned), but could he not have been allowed to be happy at least for a while?  As a woman, this made me feel completely cheated and if you’re reading this, Mr Hodges, I sincerely hope you’re planning on bringing them together again at a later stage, if not already in tonight’s episode!

Any man watching this probably didn’t even notice and thought it just another sub-plot, but with the enormous build-up to this particular romance it seemed to me to have much more significance.

This has turned into a bit of a rant, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that we can’t cheat our readers/viewers by leading them down one path, only to trample on their joy once we finally conclude this plot strand satisfactorily.  After a while, perhaps, but not so quickly or so callously.  But maybe that’s just my very female point of view …?