Thursday, June 15, 2017

Interview with mystery author Ginger Black

Today’s special guest is mystery author Ginger Black. Ginger Black is a writing partnership between Gaynor Pengelly and Julia Thum. We’re chatting about their new cozy, Riverside Lane.

Julia Thum left Somerset for London at 16. She founded & ran her own consumer P R agency representing a range of international brands including Braun, Molton Brown, Clairol, and Kleenex. After selling the business she trained as a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders and hosted a phone-in show on Radio Luxembourg.

Julia writes bespoke literature & articles for private clients and visits secondary schools and prisons representing two national charities in providing emotional support to pupils and inmates. A keen kayaker and a passionate cook, she lives in Bray-on-Thames with her husband Nicolas and their four children.

Gaynor Pengelly has worked as a national newspaper correspondent for more than twenty years, interviewing everyone from the great and the good to extraordinary people in ordinary lives. The rich variety of her subject matter and their circumstances has given her a rare insight into human nature and the challenges many people face.

Gaynor's great loves include sitting in pavement cafes watching the world go by, National Trust and English Heritage and hiking across the windswept Yorkshire moors. She lives in Bray-on-Thames with her husband Jonathan and their son, Freddie James.

During the virtual book tour, Ginger Black will be awarding a $10 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 the other tour stops and enter there, too.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Julia: Riverside Lane is a cozy mystery based on a house swap and set in the picturesque English village of Bray. Luca Tempesta, a mysterious American, arrives pretending to be on holiday but he has a secret and the villagers are determined to find out what it is. While busy bodying around Luca’s life, the characters reveal their own foibles and it becomes apparent that their visitor is not the only person with something to hide. The novel is a comedy of manners, gently satirizing the English and focussing on personal challenges rather than world events. We hope to evoke a lightness of heart with the beautiful setting along the river Thames and the quirky behaviour of a lot of villagers who pay too much attention to other people’s lives and not enough to their own. 

What inspired you to write this book?
Julia: For me it was our beautiful village of Bray on the banks of the Thames, famous for its turncoat vicar in the middle ages and for its restaurants (it has more Michelin stars per square foot than anywhere else in the world). When you walk the dog along the towpath you can actually smell the truffle oil drifting in the breeze from the Waterside Inn and The Fat Duck. 

Gaynor: Meeting Julia at the school gates (our children were in the same class) was the catalyst for me to write Riverside Lane. We were both approaching milestone birthdays and discovered a mutual lifelong ambition to write a novel, so we jumped right in! In many ways, it was easier to write a novel with a new friend, rather than someone I had known for years. It started out as an adventure, dreaming up our story as we walked the beautiful Thames towpath but very quickly turned into an all-consuming commitment. I was also inspired to write Riverside Lane in memory of my lovely father, who sadly passed away, and who always believed I had it in me.

Excerpt from Riverside Lane:
Ivy bolted the door behind the journalist. Returning to her desk, she locked the drawer and squeezed her eyes shut. “The blind will see, and those who see will become blind,” she intoned, blinking furiously to dispel the strange dots that had started presenting themselves in her vision. They were becoming more frequent; Ivy knew she should visit an ophthalmologist. She hoped it was not un-Christian, but the thought of being unable to read her beloved sheet music upset her more deeply than any of the memories from her past. The Victorian marble clock, which comforted her hourly with its sweet Handel music, proclaimed that there was just enough time to deliver the cheque to the bank and get back to the Village for Evensong.

Standing at the bus stop with the melodious clock chimes still echoing softly in her head, Ivy caught sight of Luca Tempesta walking through the churchyard. Handel, she thought, had been sent to law school by his father, just like this American. The former had abandoned his studies and blessed mankind with the “Hallelujah” chorus; the latter, according to Ivy’s preliminary investigations, had abandoned his to set up a private-detective firm; then, some years later, he had apparently disappeared from God’s Earth without a trace. Except he had not disappeared. He was here in the Village, living in Clive’s house, next door to Frank, smoking Russian cigarettes. And Ivy Midwinter planned to find out why.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Julia: We have already plotted the sequel and are about a third of the way through writing it. It is another cozy mystery, again on the banks of the Thames but this time set in the picturesque village of Cookham, home to the artist Stanley Spencer and the inspiration for Wind in the Willows.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Julia: What a good question! Is everybody who writes a writer? Or only those who complete, then get their novel published? I have loved writing since I was a child dreaming up stories and poems about my life on our farm in Somerset. I then wrote five children’s novels, one for each of my children, but I have not, until now submitted any for publication. I admit I had a moment of validation when we got our first pay cheque for Riverside Lane!

Gaynor: As a journalist I can still remember the thrill of having my first piece published in The Mail on Sunday. That was twenty years ago, so I am accustomed to seeing my by-line in print. But getting a novel published is very different. Having the fortitude to write and complete it, then the grit and determination to get it out there and published, and finally the commitment to promote it, ‘ain’t for the faint-hearted’. But if you have the strength of character to see it through, and never ever give up, it’s worth the toil. Seeing Riverside Lane on the shelves in book shops is pure gold.

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?
Julia: I heard a hugely successful author at the London book fair say he splits his time about 50/50 between writing and promotion. And Ian Rankin has just gone on the record saying that having to do social media reduces his output considerably. So, I hope I am in good company when I say I am the same. It takes a lot of time and effort to create the digital presence required to sell your work nowadays and after a quick kayak or run around the block I spend the morning on social media, updating the website and clearing the admin. I have also just started blogging, reviewing children’s books on my new site so there is a lot of reading to do. When all that is done I sit down to write. I am on a final edit for one of my children’s books and the afternoon disappears in a flash once I start that.

Gaynor: Working as a journalist I write all day - meeting inspiring people in the public eye and ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, gives me plenty of inspiration for our novels! Combining writing novels with a full-time career is not easy, especially when you throw a family in the mix with their long list of demands - it takes good organisational skills and a healthy dose of humour!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Julia: Unlike Gaynor I cannot see the shape of stories in my head and so to manage the pace and rhythm of a plot I need to see it written on a page. Obviously, that is impossible with a huge manuscript but I can somehow get a feel for it by drawing circles. I draw character circles and plot circles and I shade them (very roughly - scribble might be a more accurate work) according to the flow of the story.

Gaynor: I like to plot our stories on paper. When Julia and I meet she is surrounded by the very latest in gleaming technology and I appear with a pen and notepad. She is highly organised and I am completely haphazard, plucking ideas from the sky and bits of rolled up paper. She is DCI Jane Tennison to my Inspector Colombo! But it’s a chemistry that works.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Julia: An actress. I loved drama, Shakespeare, and having visited Stratford on Avon I developed aspirations to join the Royal Shakespeare Company (no other theatre group would have been acceptable to me). I’m afraid I was one of those dreadfully pretentious kids who drifted around quoting Ophelia and looking longingly into puddles!

Gaynor: Age 7 I wanted to grow up and be Donny Osmond’s wife. I loved his rendition of Puppy Love and the cute little denim cap he wore. By the time I hit my teenage years, I wanted to be writer, so getting Riverside Lane published, is the fulfilment of a long-held dream. I’m now happily married, but still have a soft-spot for Donny’s winning smile.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Julia: As you will have gathered we are a writing partnership and I’d like to say what a wonderful thing that is. Of course, we were lucky to find each other, working with somebody you didn’t like or respect would not do, but writing with Gaynor is terrific fun, a great learning curve and considerably less lonely than trying to go it alone. And there is the bonus we only have to write half a book each!

Gaynor: Only that life is short, seize it and enjoy every moment! And where possible, always try to be kind.


Thank you for being here today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Kim Pickett said...

Thank you for the chance to win!

Victoria Alexander said...

This sounds like a book I'll enjoy - thanks for sharing & for the great giveaway :)

Bernie Wallace said...

What is your favorite series of books? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for having us on your blog Lisa - it has been lovely to e-meet you! Julia x

Rita Wray said...

I liked the excerpt.

Bernie Wallace said...

Which book would you like to see a sequel to? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)Hotmail(d0t)com

Ally Swanson said...

Hope you are having a fabulous weekend! Looking forward to checking out this book!

Bernie Wallace said...

What is your favorite type of book? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)Hotmail(d0t)com

Ally Swanson said...

Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!