Thursday, March 23, 2017

Interview with romantic suspense author Mollie Blake

Romantic suspense author Mollie Blake joins me today to chat about her newest book, The Secret at Arnford Hall.

Living in the heart of the Cheshire countryside in the UK, Mollie is a regular mum of one son and wife of one husband. As a former finance director, she was a bit of a latecomer to writing, but now she has ventured from analyzing figures in her spreadsheets to creating steamy scenes for her characters between the bed sheets.

Her stories are filled with provocative romance and laced with suspense. She loves to wander through Google Earth in search of locations to inspire—from castles in the Channel Islands to high rise flats in London, from the streets of Melbourne to hotels in Kenya. Directionally challenged, you can find her getting lost in most places! However, the heart of her stories rests in Cheshire, England.

She is also guilty of a love of reading, swimming, fast cars, Prosecco and chocolate. Not one for cooking, she has been condemned in the kitchen on more than one occasion.

In November 2015 Mollie was delighted to sign a publishing contract with Black Opal Books. Her first book has recently been published and there are four more contracted for publication over the next few months. A sixth adventure is in progress. Since gaining the publishing contract, Mollie has been accepted into the International Thriller Writers’ group and as a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK. She is one very excited lady.

Please tell us about your current release.
The Secret at Arnford Hall is set in the county of Cheshire in the UK. In a story of shameful secrets and cruel blackmail, the reader escapes to Gabriel Black’s world of wealth and control. As he struggles to develop a relationship with his seven-year-old son, the chance meeting with a schoolteacher, and the discovery of her hidden past, provides him with the distraction he needs.

If Grace is ever going to get her life—and her sanity—back, she needs to discover his secret.

At the age of forty Gabriel’s mission to be a loving father, inspires him to reunite his family, confront his demons, and fight for the love of a woman for the first time in his life.

But if Grace discovers his secret, will she ever be able to return his love?

What inspired you to write this book?
I loved reading Fifty Shades and Sylvia Day’s Crossfire books, followed by a lot more lust-filled romances. It reminded me how much I enjoyed reading them when I was younger.

Excerpt from The Secret at Arnford Hall:
Nine years earlier:

Tall, dark and handsome, thirty-one-year-old Gabriel Black, probably the richest, most eligible bachelor in the north-west of England, was waiting in a boardroom for a meeting with his financial advisor. As he lounged in one of the high-backed leather swivel chairs at the oak boardroom table, Eliza Redfern walked in and poured some coffee for their client. Gabriel immediately took in her shapely five feet four inches, shoulder-length copper-colored hair—no doubt out of a bottle—and air of apparent innocence. He liked the challenge that demeanor often gave.
As he was leaving, he stopped at the reception desk and leaned in toward Eliza, placing his hand palm up in front of her.
“Write your phone number on here.”
Eliza stared at him, shock and embarrassment on her face. “I beg your pardon?”
He spoke with authority and his hand remained in front of her. “I want to take you to dinner. Give me your number.”
Hardly in control of her own actions, she picked up her pen and wrote her mobile number on his palm. He flashed a smile to die for and left the building.

Eliza Redfern was twenty-six. She had had three romantic relationships so far in her life, but was currently not seeing anyone, so what could be the harm in going out for dinner with one of the most handsome, richest men around? Okay, he had a reputation for being a ladies’ man, with a different woman for each day of the week. There’d also been press reports about prostitutes, and a fierce protection of the privacy of his family. And by all accounts it was a weird family. Didn’t he have a twin brother that no one ever saw, a sister, and a mother who looked young enough to be his sister? Well, she was game for most things so when he said he would pick her up at eight, she spent the preceding two hours getting ready.

He came for her in his jet-black Lotus Exige sports car, and wined and dined her with champagne and lobster. Then he enticed her to invite him back to her place for coffee, which ended in her bedroom with one of the best nights of sex she had ever experienced.
To her amazement he called her again and she had three more dates with him over the next two weeks.
One month later she texted him. ~ I’m pregnant.
She was amazed to find him knocking at her door within an hour.
“You said you were on the pill.”
“I am!”
“Are you going to get rid of it?”
“Do you want a relationship with me?”
“Not really. We don’t know each other at all and definitely have nothing in common.”
“Do you want any money?”
“It would be appreciated, or I’ll have to go back to work.”
“Can I have a relationship with my child?”
“Well, you are the father!”

As the weeks turned into months, Eliza found herself spending a bit more time with the father of her unborn child. He took her out to dinner at least once a week, and they went to his family’s villa in Monaco for a week, which was out of her world, almost to the extent of making her reconsider her answer to his question: did she want to have a relationship with him?

Then, quite by accident, she discovered his secret.
Her reaction was straightforward. “I don’t want your money. You cannot have a relationship with my child. I never want to see you again.”
Soon letters from his solicitor started arriving through her letterbox.
My client will be seeking paternity rights…
He will approach the court for full access to his child and will attempt to gain custody…
Eliza was worried sick she could lose her baby. Her sister couldn’t understand why she had suddenly refused to see Black anymore. She thought their relationship had been progressing.
“Eliza, you’ll need the money. Think what a future your child will have with that inheritance to look forward to!”
“You don’t understand, Carol. It’s better that my baby has nothing to do with any of them.”
Eliza Redfern never told anyone Black’s secret.
However, she needed a compromise, and also needed to know what would happen if anything should prevent her from raising her child in the future, God forbid.
One night she sat at her computer screen and began to type.

This agreement will be in place until the child of Eliza Redfern and Gabriel Black reaches the age of eighteen. It will come into effect on the death or incapacity (total physical and mental) of the mother, Eliza Redfern. It will cease on the death of Gabriel Black.
Gabriel Black will have no contact whatsoever with the child unless and until this agreement comes into effect.
On the signing of this agreement by Gabriel Black, Eliza Redfern vows to acknowledge the father of said child to be Gabriel Black.
That father is to adhere fully to the following conditions:
The child is not to attend any private schools up to the age of eighteen. He/she is to be educated in the state system.
The child is never to sleep at Arnford Hall when Mrs. Black is in residence.
He/she is to be allowed to choose his/her own religion, if any.
He/she is to be given the choice to join the family business, but under no compulsion.
He/she is to be free to leave Arnford Hall once he/she reaches age eighteen, with no restrictions to be put on where the child lives.
The child is not to be spoiled.
The child is to be allowed to play with children of his/her own age.
The child is to be allowed to join in his/her school’s activities.
The child is to be allowed to go to football matches, tennis tournaments, and other events of his/her choosing.
The child is to be shown love.

It was simple and heartfelt. In exchange for his agreement, Gabriel’s name would appear on the birth certificate, and the child would bear its father’s surname.
Gabriel realized this was as much as he was going to get without a threat of really bad publicity. All his lawyers put together would have great difficulty in keeping the press quiet, and he could never take that risk.
He also realized he would have no relationship with his own child until he or she reached the age of eighteen. Then he or she would probably want nothing to do with him anyway.
He visited Abacus and Cornworthy Solicitors and signed the agreement.
Eliza relaxed, tried to enjoy her pregnancy, and looked forward to the birth of her first child.
Gabriel Black no longer gave a damn about the world.

What exciting story are you working on next?
It’s a story about a man who is haunted by an incident that happened in his youth. The son of a former major in the British Army, he finds his own journey to a battlefield with only memories of love, and conflicts about who needs saving.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was offered a contract by a publisher.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a full-time author although I try to put the needs of my son and husband first. This isn’t always easy if I’m in the middle of a juicy bit that I just have to complete. That said, there is a lot more these days to being an author than just writing a good story. I do my own social media and marketing and it can be very time-consuming. I’m an early bird and like to start work about 7 o’clock in the morning. I begin with social media postings. Then I try to focus on my current story during school hours when the house is at its quietest. I target eight to ten thousand words a week. But if edits have come back from the publisher they take priority. I actually love going through the edits as it really takes you into the depths of your book. Sometimes when you’re writing you lose sight of the wood for the trees. Even after doing your own re-reads, you can still miss things. So the editing process is crucial. Likewise if I have a guest post scheduled, that needs to come first. After mealtime I will put in another hour or so but try to end the day by 8 o’clock. One of the reasons I wanted to write after retiring from finance, was because of the flexibility it gave me. But I have to be disciplined to make it all work.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a different notebook for each story and the cover has to relate to the main character or story line in some way. It’s easier said than done and I’ll browse through good stationers for a cover that feels right. This has no bearing at all on the book cover I decide on; it merely touches on some characteristic of the story. As an example, for “The Secret At Arnford Hall” the notebook is an antique red color, embossed with an elegant border in gold. It expresses expense and elegance and I imagine something like this on a coffee table at Arnford Hall.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A missionary teaching English in Africa

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
One of my ambitions is to connect with a charity that deals with victims of abuse. I touch on such subjects in most of my stories and I would like to give something back to the community. My stories have happy endings but I know life isn’t always like that.


Thanks, Mollie!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Interview with mystery author Dana Ford

Mystery author Dana Ford joins me today to talk about her newest C.McCauley Case Files novel: Case File Phantom.

During her virtual book tour, Dana will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky, randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Dana Ford has enjoyed writing stories since she can remember. She has penned several books and has found a new love in writing mystery fiction. Her favorite hobbies besides writing is watching old movies, volunteering in her community, and spending precious moments with her family.

Welcome, Dana. Please share a little bit about your current release.
In this mystery fiction novel, Georgia Richards lost hope of ever seeing her husband again since he disappeared over a year ago. On a Saturday afternoon, she thought she saw him at a play; on stage at the Oaksdale Playhouse. But, Georgia didn’t have the courage to find out if it was really him. Constance McCauley was empathetic to Georgia’s faint of heart and decided to offer her investigation services to find the true identity of this mysterious man. Would Constance be able to track down Georgia’s estranged husband? If he was found, why had he been missing for over a year? As Constance pursued this case with a combination of faith and persistence, she witnessed the power of forgiveness unfold before her eyes.

What inspired you to write this book?
For the past 10-years I have been having dreams about the plots within the C. McCauley Case Files. I knew I wanted to write these novels, and finally put pen to paper and published the first of this series.

Excerpt from Case File Phantom:
It was beautiful inside. The space quaint, low lighting, enough ambience to make a lucrative business deal or extend a marriage proposal. Thanks to Troy making reservations, we were seated right away in a cozy booth for two. Sean placed a marketing folder on the table next to his place setting. “I’m looking forward to talking about what we can do for your company.” He said. His eyes were naturally a darker brown in this low lighting. I smiled, thankful for the distraction of the waiter.

“Would you care for some wine?” The waiter asked pleasantly.

“None for me, thank you.” I replied.

“I’ll take a glass of your best red wine.” Sean responded.

“Very good sir.”

Sean jumped right in. “Did Alex talk to you about all of our services or did he just focus on one aspect of what we do, like print advertising?”

“Well, I actually did not tell you the whole truth about Alex and I.”

Sean perked up to listen.

“I do own a private investigation firm, but I never met Alex through your company.” The waiter returned with Sean’s glass of wine and sparkling water for me. We both ordered their chef’s special pasta with a salad.

“Oh.” Sean thought for a moment.

“But, tell me. What services do you have?” I asked. I actually did want to know.

Until dinner arrived, Sean presented all of the details that were included in the marketing folder that he had brought. He pitched ways to expose my business from print advertising, to social media strategies. “Are you interested in pursuing any of these marketing approaches?” He asked, knowing that he was one of the best salesmen on the Brown & Edwards sales team.

Taking a look over all of the amazing food that was just placed on our table, I also considered the marketing services that Sean had presented. “Let me think about it.” I responded.

“You had the same hesitation when we met the other day. What exactly are you thinking about?” He returned like a true salesman.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The next novel is another case file. The plot for this one is introduced in the last chapter of Case File Phantom.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have been writing stories since I was in elementary school. My best friend and I would have sleepovers and write short stories through the night. Her reaction to my writing encouraged me to become a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write for fun on my spare time, usually on the weekends. I also have a day job.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to write while listening to classical music.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A newscaster. 

Website | Amazon

Thanks for being here today, Dana. Happy writing!

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New interview with suspense author P.M. Terrell

I’m happy to have suspense novelist P.M. Terrell back on Reviews and Interviews. She was last here in 2012. Today we’re chatting about Cloak and Mirrors.

During her virtual book tour, P.M. will be awarding a Celtic necklace containing the Tree of Life (USA only) to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

P.M. terrell is the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 20 books in several genres, including suspense, historical and non-fiction. Prior to becoming a writer, she owned two computer companies in the Washington, DC with a specialty in combatting computer crime. Her clients included the CIA, Secret Service and Department of Defense. Technology is often woven through her suspense thrillers. Terrell is of Irish descent, and Ireland often figures prominently in her books as well. She has been a full-time author since 2002 and currently travels between her home in North Carolina and Northern Ireland, the home of her ancestors. She is also the founder of Book ‘Em North Carolina’s Writers Conference and Book Fair and The Novel Business.

Welcome back, P.M. Please tell us about your newest release.
Cloak and Mirrors is the 6th book in the award-winning Black Swamp Mysteries Series. I loved writing this book because it takes place in Ireland, where the main character, Dylan Maguire, was born and raised. Dylan and Vickie are married in the tiny village where Dylan grew up and then they travel to Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way for their honeymoon. They are both CIA operatives and they discover that the CIA can even interrupt a honeymoon. They’re asked to retrieve a microchip containing stolen Russian plans for their new stealth technology which should have been a simple task. But when the Russian point of contact decides to defect, they find themselves dodging Russian operatives in an attempt to rendezvous with an American hand-off. The book allowed me to use Ireland almost as a character itself, with its breathtaking and often dangerous landscapes, rope bridges, cliffs, the Blue Stack Mountains and Donegal’s quaint and beautiful streets.

What inspired you to write this book?
It was a natural progression for Vicki and Dylan to get married and I knew the most romantic, mystical and beautiful location would be Ireland. During one of my recent trips to my ancestral home in Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, I had an occasion to speak to several people about The Troubles, a thirty-year period of violence that divided Northern Ireland into two factions: those who wished to remain part of the United Kingdom and those who wished to be reunited with the Republic of Ireland. I found the experiences to be so intriguing that I wrote in a character that helps Dylan navigate the wild and rural Irish landscape—a man whose past included work with the Irish Republican Army.

Stealth technology is something several governments have been working on for quite some time. Once the technology is discovered and used, the opposing military seeks to infiltrate it so that more “invisible” means of cloaking and mirroring are needed on a regular cyclical basis. I find the rapid advances in this type of technology to be fascinating.

Excerpt from Cloak and Mirrors:
“Nettie O’Connelly,” Jack began, “was the mother o’ nine children and a widow to boot. She lived in west Belfast within a stone’s throw o’ The Falls Road and within full view o’ the Divis Tower. It would have been the early 1970’s, so it would.” Jack shook his head. “There was violence every blasted day and night. The Catholics lived on one side o’ the road—divided by the Protestants by what is now known as the Peace Wall.”

He fell silent for a moment as he collected his thoughts. “Divis Tower was manned by British soldiers. Not much was done about violence against the Catholics—” he snorted for effect “—but violence against the Protestants, even in retribution or defense, was dealt a heavy hand. A heavy hand indeed.

“So it didn’t go unnoticed when one o’ the British soldiers stood at Divis Tower and looked down at Nettie’s home. Not once, mind ya; not twice. Every blasted day. She spent time each day washin’ and hangin’ her clothes in the yard—nine children can dirty a lot. She was still attractive, children or no; hair the color of a sunset and eyes snappin’ green. Petite thing she was.”

A gust of wind howled through the night, sounding like a woman’s protracted moan. Ciara began to paw the ground and Dougal snorted.

“We began to suspect a spy in our midst. Oh, it was a bad time, to be sure. Neighbors watchin’ neighbors. No trust, even for brothers. The slightest thing could set off the neighborhood like a powder keg just waitin’ to blow. There were brawls a’plenty. Boys gone missing overnight. Anyone suspected of cavortin’ with the Brits was dealt with severely.”

He rose and stepped to Ciara, stroking her mane in a gentle effort to calm her. “Then the ladies along the block began to notice a correlation between the colors o’ the clothes Nettie washed and hung and what happened afterward… When she washed her whites, she always seemed to leave her home at a particular time and always went a round-about ways. No one knew where she went. It wasn’t to the neighborhood butcher or grocer or any of the usual places a woman would go. Then one day she was spotted in the center of Belfast—an area declared to be accessible to both Catholics and Protestants, unionists and loyalists, which was laughable indeed.”

“So Nettie O’Connelly was a spy?” Alexei asked.

“We’ll never know, boy. That very night she was hauled from her home, right in front of her nine children. And never seen again.” Just as they thought the story was over, he continued. “My brothers were there. They told me about it afterward, I think as a warnin’ to keep my own mouth shut and my head down. They drove Nettie O’Connelly to the very spot where we were to meet the plane. Three carloads o’ men, at the least, and Nettie beggin’ for her life and for her children’s safety. A woman could scream till her throat grew bloody and not a soul would hear her out at the old lighthouse. And so it went on for hour after hour.”

Jack looked at the skies. “It would have been just about this time o’ year, I’d wager. The skies grew black around four or five o’clock and the sun wouldn’t make its appearance until nigh on ten o’clock the next morn. Long nights, they were. They said that Nettie was tortured until the witching hour approached, but she never confessed, never admitted to giving any one of us up. Not even when her children’s lives were threatened. She always maintained her innocence.” His voice grew quiet and then stopped.

After a long moment, Alexei asked, “What became of her?”

“They thought she was dead. Her body was laid out on a flat rock whilst the men debated what to do with her. Some wanted her buried, others brought out to sea. It wasn’t a night like this one, you see. There were no Northern Lights that night. No stars, not even a moon. Just a thick fog that rolled in from the sea, uncanny it was. It was so murky that the men carried a lantern from the cars to the water’s edge; otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to find their way. My brothers said they set the lantern beside Nettie’s body while they huddled just a few feet away. They realized everythin’ had gone black around them and when they looked back, she and the lantern were gone.”

Jack inspected Ciara’s bridle for a moment before continuing. “It was easy to see which direction she’d gone; the lantern was bobbin’ along one o’ the paths, around the brambles and the rocks and along the ridgeline. They followed it for a bit, shoutin’ as those men did—” he nodded his head toward the east “—and then the lantern was snuffed out.”

He wiped his nose. “They continued searchin’ for her but it was too dark. Black as pitch, it was. They left sentinels along the main roads to Belfast and left others in charge o’ watchin’ her home and her children. It wasn’t until summer that they found her at the base o’ a cliff, her neck broken. It’s said they brought her body—ravaged by time and the elements—into the ocean some three hours out and dropped her overboard.”

Alexei joined the two men. “And that was the end of the story?”

“Oh, no,” Jack chuckled but his eyes held no mirth. “That was only the beginning. For it’s said that Nettie O’Connelly still haunts these parts after all these years, carryin’ her lantern at the witchin’ hour, lurin’ men to their deaths.”

What’s the next writing project?
I am actually switching to an historical series because so many readers today are looking for escape from politics and the dangers of the day. In researching my ancestral home, I discovered a treasure trove of information about my ancestors: why they left Scotland for Ireland, their changing allegiances for or against England (much depended on the King or Queen at the time) as well as their personal hopes and dreams for their children’s futures, which led some to immigrate to the United States. I have begun in the year 1608 with my ancestor’s decision at the age of 18 to emigrate from Scotland to Ireland. It is a tumultuous period of colonization with warring clans, romance, crosses and double-crosses, devastating natural and man-made disasters. It has been very exciting to research—necessitating more trips to Ireland!

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book?
For me, it is the beginning and the ending—not of the story itself but the writing of it. I mull various ways of opening the book and laying the groundwork in a way that will capture the reader’s interest immediately so that action begins right away. From there, the book unfolds smoothly as I reach a mid-point that is almost like a climactic scene in itself and propels the rest of the book forward at breathtaking speed. When I am finished, I always have a sense of loss as if all the characters had been guests in my home and they have all moved out at once, leaving an emptiness behind.

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
I perform quite a bit of research in the beginning so I know the plot I am considering will carry the book and make for exciting reading. Then I continue to perform research throughout the book. I love using the Internet; I can easily hop onto websites that I know have reliable facts. Then during the editing process, my editor may ask a question that leads me to perform more research in order to flesh out certain scenes. I once served on a panel with an author that claimed he never did one minute of research for an FBI series he writes and that shocked me.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
My office is on the second floor of a detached garage. I have a 360 degree view, which I love. I have Celtic memorabilia surrounding me, such as a Celtic suncatcher, photographs of my ancestral home in Northern Ireland and the Irish coastline. I write on my laptop with my three dogs—two Jack Russells and a collie—at my feet.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
It isn’t necessary for readers to have read the earlier books in the series in order to understand and enjoy Cloak and Mirrors, because I have enough backstory to fill in all the gaps. But if readers would like to read them in order, they are: (1) Exit 22, (2) Vicki’s Key, (3) Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, (4) Dylan’s Song, (5) The Pendulum Files and (6) Cloak and Mirrors.

Thank you for having me here today!


Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews! Happy writing!

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