Barbara Nadel’s Typical Writing Day

I’m joined today with English Crime Writer, Barbara Nadel who sat down with me to discuss her usual writing day…

6081-1[1]

There may be such a thing as a ‘typical writing day’ for some people, but I think that for most authors it’s all a bit free floating. That certainly applies to me.

Of course because I write two books per year, one in my Cetin Ikmen Turkish series and the other in my London based Hakim and Arnold series, discipline has to be part of my life. However when that happens, it is often a bit of a moveable feast. I have heavy family commitments and, at the moment, I’m moving too!

But let’s have a stab at a ‘typical’ day.

I get up early. Not because I’m industrious but mainly because I can’t sleep for thinking about all the things I have to do as well as all the things my characters have to get through. I try to avoid looking in the mirror first thing in the morning because nobody really needs to see that. Although I am accustomed to the corpse look now and no longer fear I may be picked up and taken away by passing undertakers, it’s still not nice.

If I’m being good, I go to the gym. I actually do like it, mainly because it’s full of people who look knackered and who wear the most outrageously awful old clothes. No lycra loveliness here! I always wear the same black tee shirt and jogging bottoms I’ve worn since Queen Victoria was on the throne. Nobody wants to be there and so there’s a lot of moaning. I don’t know if I feel better afterwards but I can at least come home, have a shower, get dressed (in black, I never wear any other colour) and then eat some guilt free rice pops.

Body Count PBB.indd

Then it’s tea. It’s tea all day long for me. I used to smoke like a coal fired power station but now my main vice is tea. Actually I used to also drink like Dylan Thomas and swear like a sailor too. A shadow of my former self I now drink tea and have the occasional fag when I just can’t take the cleanliness of my life any longer. I still swear like a sailor.

Over the first cup of tea I’ll read newspapers on line, mainly The Guardian and the Turkish paper Hurriyet Daily News. I might Tweet a bit about the latest bit of political madness in London and/or Ankara and then, at about 8.30am, the actual work will begin.

At the moment I’m finishing my latest Cetin Ikmen book and so, as well as a lot of sitting at the computer typing, there is also quite a bit of walking around thinking about stuff. As you’re writing a novel you’re thinking about the plot and the characters the whole time – I even dream about it/them. Sometimes I get up in he middle of the night to write. But the end of a novel is a uniquely troubling time because you have to bring everything you’ve worked on for six months to a close. You have to solve problems, satisfy your readers and decide what, if any, themes you want to carry through to the next book in the series. You also have to be true to your characters and to yourself as their creator. For instance a lot of people have said to me lately that they think that Cetin Ikmen really should, as he ages, be questioning his atheism. But he wouldn’t, he’s not like that and also when you have worked at the sharp end of policing, the fire service or public health, you take a view which, rarely in its essence, changes.

I worked in Mental Health Services for years and so I saw a lot of pain, rejection, self loathing and even suicide. I witnessed the closure of a psychiatric hospital and the consequent tipping out of patients into the arms of ‘community care’. Sadly the community didn’t care much and I recall going to one public meeting where a particularly vocal individual told everyone that if a ‘nutter’ ever came near him or his kids, he’d ‘burn him alive.’ That time very firmly entrenched my view that if a ‘loving God’ did exist, I couldn’t understand Him and wanted nothing to do with Him. But I knew religious people who took comfort from the fact that He was there and another of my big series characters, Mumtaz Hakim, is religious.

Lunch is usually boring crisp bread or something else that is supposed to be healthy. I know I have to do this stuff now I’m older than space, but I’d really rather eat chocolate. Halfway through the afternoon I may succumb to biscuits. That is if the family don’t intervene and I have to go out. If someone needs taking to the shops or the doctor, I sometimes have to do that. I’m also a sort of an unofficial counsellor to this lot. I don’t know why they think I know anything but they do. Maybe it’s because I’ve got a degree in psychology.

I’ll aim for about 5,000 words per day if I can but if I’m in the groove I will do more. Late afternoon I’ll generally have a break either to write my weekly blog at http://www.internationalcrimeauthors.com or my Mary Mystery column for the on-line crime magazine Mystery People or just to explore some new ideas.

My husband will get home any time from 5.30pm to 8pm. So when he gets in I’ll stop and cook something for dinner. This is generally a one pot meal or a salad because both of those things are easy and I am a crap cook. Like Cetin Ikmen, I don’t have a great deal of interest in food. Modern molecular gastronomy, in fact any gastronomy, is wasted on me. When I drank I could never really be bothered with food. Now I don’t drink I take delight in baked potatoes and Mars Bars. Well, as the old saying goes, you can take the girl out of the East End, but you can never take the East End out of the girl. Beetroot, three ways? I don’t think so! Fish, chips and a ton of vinegar and now you’re talking!

In the evening I’ll either watch TV, clean out my axolotls (Mexican aquatic amphibians – basically salamanders) or do some more work. I’ll eventually fall into bed at about 11pm and then read for a while. At the moment I’m reading a book called ‘John McPake and the Sea Beggars’ by Stuart Campbell. Long story short, it’s about a man who has an animated Breughel painting in his head which he hopes may help him find his long lost brother. It’s brilliant.

Twitter: @BarbaraNadel

Review of The Last Days Of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

Published: 19th June 2014
Publisher: Transworld
Pages: 448

Blurb:

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye. But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.

Review:

Thank you to Transworld for the review copy.

Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes has Cancer. She’s surrounded by a caring set of family and friends. What I valued the most about this plot was that it was honest from the start. There was no pretending that Cancer is a bitch – it was raw, honest, brutual and that’s why this book will be an absolutely hit.

“You’re angry and you wanted to give Baby Jesus the finger.”

We don’t just hear from Rabbit, we hear from her parents, her husband, her siblings, her friends and her daughter. It was a book jam packed with several point of views and every single character’s personality shone through. We don’t remain in the present as everyone shares memories of Rabbit which range from a child to an adult. I thought that was a touching aspect as it prepares the readers for the goodbye.

I was so caught up with the narrative that as I read the final page, I gasped. Anna did a remarkable job of writing a book surrounded by Cancer. I loved every single member of the Hayes family. I just wanted to know why Rabbit isn’t known by her real name of Mia.

Twitter: @annamcpartlin
Website: annamcpartlin.com

August Book Haul

bookhaul

I can’t quite believe that this is the eighth book haul of the year. Wow.
This is the only month which I haven’t bought any books.
The reason for that is that I’m working my way through the books I already have.

Books From Publishers

IMG_1656

Seeing Other People by Mike Gayle via. Hodder and Stoughton

The Secrets Women Keep by Fanny Blake via. Orion
(Already read and reviewed in Hardback)

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand via. Headline

Panic by Lauren Oliver via. Headline

bookhaul

With A Friend Like You by Fanny Blake via. Orion

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J Watson via. Transworld World

The Secret Paris Cinema Club by Nicolas Barreau via. Quercus

Tiger Milk by Stefanie De Velasco via. Head Of Zeus

photo

The Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne via. Quercus

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner via. Simon & Schuster

IMG_1658

As many of you may be aware, I was at Simon & Schuster during the first week of August for work experience in the Publicity department. I had one of the most incredible week’s of my life and I came away with not only a lot of books, but with a lot of knowledge and skills from the PR world. I learnt from the best. A mixture of departments were kind enough to hand over books which I didn’t expect – so thank you to them all.

The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

We Are Called To Rise by Laura McBride

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

The Year Of The Rat by Claire Furniss

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

The Postcard by Leah Fleming

First We Take Manhattan by Colette Caddle

Secrets Of The Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore

Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash

Miracle On Regent Street by Ali Harris

Books From NetGalley

Hello From The Gillespies by Monica McInerney via. Penguin

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes via. Penguin

A Week In Paris by Rachel Hore via. Simon & Schuster

Pieces Of You by Ella Harper via. Avon

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion via. Penguin

Saving Grace by Jane Green via. Pan Macmillan

Review of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Published: 15th May 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages:
240

Blurb:

We are the Liars. We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury. We are cracked and broken. A story of love and romance. A tale of tragedy. Which are lies? Which is truth?

Review: 

This is the most anticipated book of 2014 and I can’t believe it was only released in May. A lot of book bloggers have been going absolutely crazy for it, so when I had a chance to read it in between my review copies and I’m so pleased I did as it’s truly remarkable.

FYI, this is a NON spoiler review as this book has a very shocking ending!

Before the plot begins, we’re shown a family true to ensure that the readers are aware of how posh the Sinclair family are. They’re beautiful, athletic, tall and handsome – not to mention rich! Cadence, our narrator, is young, a little rebellious but most of all, she loves spending time with all her cousins. Gat (a non-family member) joins the Liars for every single Summer at the beautiful beach houses. He and Cadence aka. Cady have a wonderful, fun and fresh relationship but that all changes within an instant.

“So many stars, it seemed like a celebration, a grand, illicit party the galaxy was holding after the humans had been put to bed.”

The family tragedies affect Cady in a very serious manner, so serious that only one person notices.  As much as I enjoyed the narrative, I couldn’t help but notice how troubled Cady was – we see how rich her family are, but we also see how much her family cover up the imperfections. It’s a “plaster on a smile and all will be okay” type of family. She’s not the only troubled person in the narrative  though and that particular storyline never really comes to a clean cut end. Cady speaks of how she’s not the same after her accident and when all is revealed, it’s really quite shocking. However, I’m still trying to piece it all together but I finished the book with quite a few unanswered questions.

The ending, in my eyes, was over hyped. Everyone has been talking non-stop about We Were Liars and so for me, the expectation was extremely high. I thought I would be beyond shocked, but in reality, I was only slightly shocked. Yes, I didn’t see the ending coming but I also thought – “Is that it? Is that what everyone has been raving about?” Overhyped books really spoil it for everyone else. I understand completely that people love fangirling over books, but sometimes, it ruins it for everyone else. Nevertheless, I thought  this book was extremely deep and perfect for the Young Adult genre.

Twitter: @elockhart
Website: www.emilylockhart.com

Review of Will You Remember Me? by Amanda Prowse

Published: 17th July 2014
Publisher: Head Of Zeus
Pages: 345

Blurb:

Poppy Day is looking forward to her best year yet. She’s thirty-two, married to her childhood sweetheart, and a full-time mum of two gorgeous children. She loves her clean little house in the countryside – a far cry from the London estate where she grew up. Her husband Mart, a soldier, has just returned safe and sound from his latest tour.

But Poppy is so busy caring for others, she hasn’t noticed the fatigue in her body, or the menacing lump growing on her breast. If there’s anyone strong and deserving enough to defeat cancer it’s Poppy. After all, she’s fought harder battles than this. But does life really work like that?

Review:

Thank you to Midas PR for kindly sending me a copy.

In the prologue, Poppy has just married the love of her life – Martin. They’re crazy about one another and that love doesn’t seem to fade away anytime soon as we cross over into the present day. It’s the beginning of the New Year and the Cricket family are looking forward to being positive and having nothing effect them. That’s when the trauma kicks in.

When Poppy discovers that she has Cancer, readers will find it very difficult to smile as the pain unfolds from Poppy’s heart to your own. In regards to Amanda’s writing, I thought she was extremely brave to write about the nasty disease but she did it justice. 1 in 3 women suffer from Breast Cancer and it’s not just the victim who is affected. Amanda wrote the Cancer scenes with a lot of care and her understanding of the medical issues came across very well. I didn’t question Poppy’s motives once as everyone deals with Cancer differently. It’s like being in mourning – you can’t tell someone how to cope and I’m sure another author may have wrote the book a completely different way but that goes to prove how different the views of Cancer are.

I could talk about this novel all day long, but it’s one which you really have to read for yourself. A lot of other book bloggers cried their way through the pages, but not me. I thought the ending was very sad, but beautifully written. Amanda has done herself and her readers proud.

Twitter: @MrsAmandaProwse
Website: www.amandaprowse.org

Review of The Story Of Us by Dani Atkins

ATKINS_Story of Us, The

Published: 14th August 2014
Publisher: Head Of Zeus
Pages: 400

Blurb:

Emma Marshall can’t wait to marry her childhood sweetheart, Richard. But then a tragic accident changes everything, and introduces a stranger, Jack, into her life. Gorgeous and mysterious, Jack is like no-one Emma has met before. But Richard is the man she loves…

Two different men.
Two different destinies.
How will Emma end her story?

Review:

Thank you to Becci at Head Of Zeus for kindly sending me a review copy. I read, reviewed and LOVED Dani’s debut novel Fractured which was just utterly beautiful. My main question was – what Dani be able to produce yet another stunning book? Silly question…

The narrative begins at the end where Emma (great name!) is getting ready for a wedding. Her own perhaps? The scar on her head reminds her of how life used to be and so, we journey back in time to learn about The Story Of Us. Emma and her two bridesmaids, Caroline and Amy are driving back from the Hen Party when disaster strikes. Luckily for them, handsome Jack comes to the rescue and he is instantly painted as a hero. Panic was alight in my mind when the three girls were in trouble and I found myself frantically reading, wondering if they were all ok. The incident isn’t the only painful storyline to read about as the subplot of Emma’s Mum is quite difficult to read as it’s full of emotion, one which you hope you never have to truly experience for yourself.

In my opinion, the storyline between Emma, Richard and Amy was a little bit predictable as I found myself guessing what would happen between them. But the way in which Dani wrote it was tremendous and full of visual aspects. I thought it fitted well in with the plot and allowed Emma to be pushed into another man’s arms. Richard and Jack are two very different men. I instantly liked Jack but with Richard, he was Mr Nasty from the very start. Something just didn’t feel right about his character.

The ending was a true love story and once again, Dani has allowed the reader to wonder what is truly happening. It was such a beautiful, well told story and all the way through, I felt as if this was a real story. Definitely a favourite of mine from 2014.

Twitter: @AtkinsDani

Review of True Love Always by Siobhan Curham

Published: 13th July 2014
Publisher: Dare To Dream

Blurb: 

It’s a scorching May Bank Holiday and Caitlin Kennedy’s marriage is in meltdown, her daughter dreams of being adopted by Miley Cyrus and her four-year-old son has just declared that he wishes to be renamed Daphne. Where did it all go so wrong? In a bid to find out, Caitlin retrieves her long lost diary from 1984 and is sent hurtling back into her past. Back to a time where fashion crimes were committed on a daily basis, the striking miners were at war with the government and a hopelessly romantic teenager embarked upon a search for true love. As we journey back with Caitlin, we slowly piece together the events that changed the course of her life so dramatically. But there are still pieces missing from the jigsaw; pieces that Caitlin has been too scared to search out before. Forced to confront her past for once and for all, Caitlin uncovers a shocking twist in the tale of her first love with young striking miner, Jed.

Review:

No matter what genre Siobhan writes in, I’ll always read and review. She came to me in July and asked me to review True Love Always – it’s that much of a hit, she’s decided to re-release.

Caitlin is an adult with a husband, two children, a writing column and a biscuit eating best friend. She has everything a woman could ask for, but she has no excitement, no thrill…

Cat retrieves her old teenage diary from the attic and begins to read. We’re instantly taken back into the past and we see Cat’s love for Jed through her eyes. Her daily entries were fantastic to read and I loved how quickly the images came into my mind. They were so strong, clear and vibrate. But will anything come of reading her diary again? Who knows?

The ending of the book is very shocking – it’s reveal after reveal after reveal. I was left SCREAMING at Siobhan via. text – yes, seriously! I couldn’t believe what my eyes were reading, but I loved it. The narrative had such a powerful effect on me and that’s what makes a really good book.

Even though Siobhan and I have been friends for a couple of years now, I do have to be honest and treat each author like the next. I did find little faults with this book. I wanted to be shown the emotions, not told. I disliked how we were left with quite a few unanswered questions.

Twitter: @siobhancurham
Website: www.siobhancurham.co.uk

Review of Making Marion by Beth Maron

makingmarion

 

Published: 20th June 2014
Publisher: Lion Fiction
Pages: 320

Blurb:

Marion Miller comes to Sherwood Forest to uncover her father’s mysterious past. She is looking for somewhere to stay, but instead finds herself on the wrong side of the reception desk at the Peace and Pigs campsite. Despite her horrible shyness, she promptly lands herself a job working for the big-hearted and irrepressible Scarlett. It takes all of Marion’s determination to come out of her shell and get to grips with life on a busy campsite, where even the chickens seem determined to thwart her. Then an unfortunate incident with a runaway bike throws her into the arms of the beautiful, but deeply unimpressed, Reuben… Can Marion discover her father’s secret? And will she find peace, and perhaps even love, among the pigs?

Review:

Thank you to Midas PR for kindly sending me a copy.

Marion has purposely wandered into Sherwood Forest and has somehow lied her way into a job. From the first couple of chapters, readers learn that she’s a jumpy person and constantly on edge – but why? With the use of past memories, an aspect which I enjoyed reading about, we learn about her relationship with her Dad as well as a so-called “love life.”

I thought the plot was really well written but there was no main hook for me – nothing to really draw me in, nothing to make me say “oh wow, that’s fantastic.” For me, I thought the plot surrounding her Dad ought to be the main one but at times, it was pushed to one side and Marion just wanted to sort her love life out – really? Overall, I thought it was an easy read with plenty of adventure, but sadly it just wasn’t for me.

Review of A Cornish Affair by Liz Fenwick

Published: 23rd May 2013
Publisher:
Orion
Pages: 320

Blurb:

Running out on your wedding day never goes down well. When the pressure of her forthcoming marriage becomes too much, Jude bolts from the church, leaving a good man at the altar, her mother in a fury, and the guests with enough gossip to last a year. Guilty and ashamed, Jude flees to Pengarrock, a crumbling cliff-top mansion in Cornwall, where she takes a job cataloguing the Trevillion family’s extensive library. The house is a welcome escape for Jude, full of history and secrets, but when its new owner arrives, it’s clear that Pengarrock is not beloved by everyone. As Jude falls under the spell of the house, she learns of a family riddle stemming from a terrible tragedy centuries before, hinting at a lost treasure. And when Pengarrock is put up for sale, it seems that time is running out for the house and for Jude.

Review: 

Thank you to Orion to kindly sending me a review copy. I’m pretty sure I won this in a Twitter competition…

Jude is about to get married. She’s stood at the top of the aisle, but as she looks around she realises that this isn’t her wedding. Everything was picked by her Mother, even her dress which is too big for her. Does Jude really want to get married? Does she even truly love him or is she just pleasing her grieving Mother? If Rose was around, she’d know what to do.

When Jude decides on her marriage fate, there’s no conversation with her parents about how they both feel which I thought was quite odd. Why should Jude be made to write thank you notes to everyone when she needs to sort her life out? The plot line was good but for me, there were certain areas where I thought, “that would never really happen.” But that’s the beauty of Fiction – sometimes it can be very realistic and other times, not so much. But I did expect it in a Contemporary read.

As the plot progresses, Jude moves from Massachusetts to Oxford to Cornwall to Massachusetts and then finally, back to where she really belongs in Cornwall. This book wasn’t really about Jude walking out on her almost marriage, this was a book about mystery and secrets. It wasn’t just about Jude’s family, it was about another – one who have wanted the answers to so many questions for years on end.

The narrative had a really soft and inviting tone to it. I managed to read it in within a single day because I just wanted to know more. I wanted to know the truth about Jude’s sister Rose and the Pengarrock house. This book will take you on an unexpected adventure.

Twitter: @liz_fenwick
Website: www.lizfenwick.com

Review of To Have And To Hold by Helen Chandler

Published: 19th June 2014
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 352

Blurb:

From the outside, Ella has the happy marriage, the cute kids and the comfortable home – inside, she craves something more. But giving in to temptation will stir up a whole heap of trouble… Imogen’s relationship with Pete was once fun and carefree but since they’ve become parents, everything is different. Then an accident provides the catalyst for a life-changing decision. Fifteen-year-old Phoebe is miserable at home and at school. And now her dad, who was always her ally, seems completely distracted by something – or someone. Maybe it’s time Phoebe took a stand, and took control of her own life.

As Ella, Imogen and Phoebe contemplate taking the biggest risk of their lives, marriages, families and friendships hang in the balance. Should they take the leap, or will they risk losing everything?

Review:

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for kindly sending me a copy. I read Helen’s previous book and really enjoyed it.

Phoebe is being bullied at school and her Mum isn’t exactly supportive. “If you didn’t always have your head stuck in a book, lost a bit of weight…” She sounds like a lovely person, right? HA! Phoebe’s parents treat her very differently and readers are instantly Team Dad. Ella and Imogen have been friends for three years now. They’re both Mum’s and their lives are a little on the dull side. Ella wants excitement and for her husband Grey to do more around the house. Imogen, on the other hand, seems to do absolutely everything. Her baby’s Dad lives with them and he is actually in a relationship with Imogen – but he may as well not be.

I thought the narrative progressed at a nice, easy pace to read but at times, I needed the plot to speed up a little. Phoebe’s part in the book was the strongest in my eyes. As scared and alone as she was, I instantly connected with her. As for Ella and Imogen, I was surprised by their outcome. I thought Ella’s connection to Phoebe was a little on the unrealistic side, especially with everything that happened between Ella and Phoebe’s Dad.

Twitter: @HelenLChandler
Website: www.helenlchandler.wordpress.com