Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Family Drama, Guest Post

Tell Me Where You Are by Moira Forsyth

Maybe the worst thing hadn’t happened yet. You couldn’t know the awful things lined up in the future, looming.

The last thing Frances wants is a phone call from Alec, the husband who left her for her sister thirteen years ago. But Susan has disappeared, abandoning Alec and her daughter Kate, a surly teenager with an explosive secret. Reluctantly, Frances is drawn into her sister’s turbulent life.

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Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour the latest novel by Moira Forsyth, Tell Me Where You Are, but also sharing a special guest post from the author herself. But first lets chat a little more about Tell Me Where You Are.  

For thirteen years Frances has raised her two boys alone after her husband, Alec left her for her sister.  For Frances, that’s in the past, she’s moved on and has a full life with her two (now grown) boys, her job as a headteacher and a new man.  Old feelings are reawakened though when Alec calls out of the blue to say that Susan, the sister he left her for, has disappeared. Susan has also left behind her daughter, Kate and he asks for Frances to care for her whilst he tries to find out what happened to Susan.

Family life can be complicated and history can weigh heavy for all involved. Susan is almost like a ghost for most of the book.  We catch glimpses of her through the memory of others and she hovers in the background throughout.  Yet there are many skeletons in the closet of this family and Moira draws them out gradually, with a sensitive hand as you progress through the novel.  As the old saying goes ‘you can’t choose your family’ but you can choose whether to have them in your lives and some things are just too hard to forgive.  Aren’t they?

Tell Me Where You Are is a gentle, family saga that proves that family life can be filled with deceit and heartbreak but also filled with love and hope.

About the author

Moira Forsyth

Moira_Forsyth_Tell_Me_Where_You_AreMoira Forsyth grew up in Aberdeen, lived in England for nearly twenty years, and is now in the Highlands. She is the author of four previous novels and many short stories and poems published in anthologies and magazines. Waiting for Lindsay and David’s Sisters, originally published by Sceptre, are now available as e-books from Sandstone Press, which also published The Treacle Well in 2015.

Guest Post from Moira Forsyth

THE BEST JOB FOR A WRITER by Moira Forsyth

The Orkney based writer Duncan Maclean once told me that the best job he’d ever had was as a caretaker. Not much to do and no creative thought required, so plenty of time to think about writing, and indeed to write. My best job was as a Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in a small town. If nobody was born, got married or died, and my minimal paperwork was up to date, I had nothing to do. I wrote a whole novel in the fifteen months I was in that job.

Now I’m an editor, a job many people might imagine is ideal for a writer. Lots of
practice in editing – my own work must be perfect!

I’ve certainly learned a huge amount about writing through editing. I’m much harder on myself as I redraft, refine and polish. Editing is crucial: the best novels are as tight as a good short story – not a word wasted or superfluous.

As a creative writing tutor, as fiction editor for a literary magazine, and since 2002 as
Editorial Director of Sandstone Press, I’ve been assessing, supporting and editing other writers’ work for nearly twenty-five years. It’s only since Sandstone became established and recognised as a literary publisher that I’ve been doing this almost full time, without another ‘day job’ too. The focus of my working life is other people’s writing.

On a daily basis I assess authors’ ideas and the quality of their writing. This makes
you think hard about what constitutes ‘good writing’ or a ‘good novel’. Once we’ve accepted a text, my aim is to help the author make it as excellent as it possibly can be. Close discussion and exchange of edited versions of the novel are particularly helpful for debut authors, but it’s also a process to which I submit my own work when it goes out to my trusted readers and then my editor. I bear this in mind when I speak to any author about changing their work – it’s not easy to have someone else tell you what’s wrong! Editing means keeping an open mind: you can’t just impose your own views, though I’d not be doing my job if I let something go that was weakening a book.

I’m not sorry I have a job in addition to being a writer. Writers who do nothing else
are at risk of losing touch with the kind of life everyone else lives, so that they end up writing about writers – a subject of limited interest. However, I can’t pretend it’s easy to keep going when I’m dealing daily with other people’s work, when there are meetings and emails, book fairs and launches, staff to support and blurbs to write; when there are designers, agents, and many others to communicate with, with whom it’s essential to build good relationships.

If your head is full of someone else’s novel, you can’t write your own. It’s not finding
time to write that’s difficult, it’s having a dreaming space in your mind for the slow, organic growth of characters and narrative. Despite these constraints, I know I have to start thinking about the next one. In that uneasy space between novels, getting anxious about how Tell Me Where You Are will be received, I feel a bit lost.

However committed I am as an editor, having no work of my own on the go means something is missing that is still, after all these years, important and necessary.

http://moiraforsyth.com/
https://twitter.com/moira_forsyth
https://twitter.com/sandstonepress
https://www.facebook.com/moiraforsythauthor/
Link to the book: https://sandstonepress.com/books/tell-me-where-you-are-1

Tell Me Where You Are is published by Sandstone Press on 15 May 2019 at £7.99 in
paperback.

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Adult Fiction, Review

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

I first read Chocolat by Joanne Harris in 2001. I remember it so well because it was the book I took on my honeymoon.  Back in those days there was no social media and more often then not a book would be chosen by simply browsing in a book shop or Library.  Even now, that is something I still get great pleasure from.  The cover is always the first thing I notice when I go into a bookshop.  The displays may be there to entice me with prominent positioning and ‘Books of the Month’, but it’s the the cover image that will call out to me and prevent me from walking on by.  Although I have only a very vague recollection of buying Chocolat,  I know that it was purchased at the airport as I browsed amongst the shelves whilst awaiting our flight.

It was the paperback version but still had the glorious purple cover which sparkled with magic and images of golden eggs.  ‘Try me…test me…’ read me…    I have to admit I’m not sure of I had seen the film at this time but I feel that the book came first for me although that may simply be because I have read it so many times.  As our flight took off on route to New York I began a journey to Lansquenet.

I leant that first copy of Chocolatpurchased all that time ago at the beginning of my own exciting journey,  to a friend.  Unfortunately both the friend and book are now long gone but when I realised it would not be returning to me I searched online for another edition with the same cover.  I found a small hardback first edition which I now treasure.  Sadly the friend was not so easy to replace but like that lost paperback I will always have a place in my heart for her.

So now nearly eighteen years later I am thrilled to return to the village of Lansquenet and the characters that found their way into my heart.  Of course I have returned many times before, repeatedly with Chocolat and also with The Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé,  but there is something wonderful about a new story. The turning  to the first page, not knowing where it will take you.  Even so, these characters have meant so much to me over the years that I was slightly nervous as to what may now hold for them.

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The Strawberry Thief

Everyone is different.  Some of us are just more than others…

Vianne Rocher has settled down.

Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become home.  With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community.  Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray.  The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal all of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder…

This is a very welcome return to Lansquenet and it’s inhabitants.  I have missed their stories, the smell of chocolate and the whispering of the wind. This time the story focuses on Narcisse, Reynaud, Rosette and a mysterious new visitor to the town. A visitor who brings change, something that Vianne fears.  What do I remember of Narcisse from the earlier books?  Not a great deal.  He ran the flower shop, was kind to Roux and offered him work when others turned their back and he didn’t see eye to eye with the local Curé.  Yet I felt a sadness when he died, that feeling you get when you wished you had gotten to know someone better when they were alive.  He was always in the background, just out of sight.

Upon his death he leaves a wood to Rosette.  It is a place that is incredibly special to her in a way that only Narcisse understands.  Yet that very action causes anger and mistrust amongst his surviving family.  They are suspicious of his motives and eager to see the confession he left behind.  But the confession is for the eyes of Reynaud only.  His old adversary and someone who has more in common with him then he thinks.

Right within the very heart of the story, Vianne remains fighting to keep her family together.  Constantly on guard of the wind and what it might bring… or take away.  Narcisse’s death brings with it a mysterious stranger to the town of Lansquenet, a stranger not unlike Vianne herself.  Yet the wind begins to blow and stirs up hidden danger, accidents and an unknown force that threatens to tear apart her carefully protected life.

As always I fall into Joanne’s story with ease, returning to Vianne’s life is like a warm hug or a soothing cup of hot chocolate. Her writing is beautiful and as I read I can hear each syllable resonating through my head.  I imagine the audio books are wonderful too, like listening to an old friend.

If you have yet to discover these books then I would recommend starting at the beginning with Chocolat.  Of course it’s not vital but I do think you’ll get so much more from the stories.  I think it’s time I returned there too, back to the beginning and with the hope that before too long we may return there again for another new story.

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Other recommended books by Joanne Harris

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Blackberry Wine

What if you could bottle a year of your past? Which one would it be? Which time of year? What would it smell like? How would it taste?

These are the questions which began Blackberry Wine: the second volume of my “food trilogy” and the story of Jay Mackintosh, a writer of pulp fiction with one literary success to his name and a dwindling grasp of reality. Trapped between an unresolved past and a humdrum present, suffering from writer’s block and the beginnings of alcoholism, Jay has lost his bearings.

But the accidental discovery of six bottles of home-brewed wine, a legacy from an old and vanished friend, seems to hold the key to a new beginning, a means of escape, and a final reconciliation. For there is something magical about this wine; something which brings the past to life, an agent of transformation. Under its influence, time can work backwards and the dead return to life – as Jay finds, when, on impulse, he gives up his glamorous London lifestyle and escapes to a half-derelict farmhouse in a remote village in Gascony, where two mysteries await him; a ghost from the past whom no-one else can see, and Marise, a reclusive widow with ghosts of her own…

Published in 2000, Blackberry Wine is another favourite of mine that I return to again and again.

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The Little Book of Chocolat by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde

Try me…test me…taste me…

Joanne Harris’s Chocolat trilogy has tantalised readers with its sensuous descriptions of chocolate since it was first published.  Now, to celebrate the much-loved story of Vianne Rocher’s deliciously decadent chocolaterie, Joanne Harris and Fran Warde have created the ultimate book of chocolate lore and recipes from around the world, bringing a touch of magic to your kitchen.

 

This is a stunning recipe book filled with incredibly mouthwatering recipes.  Now THIS would make the perfect Easter gift.

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Joanne is currently busy with a book tour to coincide with the publication of The Strawberry Thief.  Visit Joannes website here for more information and to see if she will be coming to an event near you.  I am very much looking forward to seeing her talk at the Chiddingstone Literary Festival in May.

You can also follow Joanne on Twitter at @Joannechocolat

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Thank you for taking the time to visit Tales Before Bedtime today.  Joanne Harris is a writer of enormous versatility and writes in many genres.  Which of her novels is your favourite?

 

Please do share the Tales Before Bedtime love on Twitter, Facebook etc. and follow the blog by clicking the tab to the right.

Thank you.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Ghost Stories, Thriller

The Lingering by S.J.I Holliday – Blog Tour

51pwBO4B-VL._SY346_Jack and Ali are looking for a fresh start and a new home at Rosalind House, a self-sufficient commune established in a former psychiatric hospital.  But the couple are clearly not all they seem, and their arrival sparks a chain of unexpected and unexplained incidents.

As the disturbing history of Rosalind House and the nearby village come to light, events from the past return to haunt the residents, and someone is seeking retribution…

Atmospheric, chilling, the tension masterfully built as the true horror of the story is revealed.  Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Lingering by SJI Holliday and this one, dear reader, is a cracker of a novel.

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Something lingers at Rosalind House. The place has a reputation with the locals and certainly the commune that is currently based there is only adding kindling to the flames. Yet all they seek is to live in peace and remove themselves from the excess of modern life. They simply seek an escape.

Jack and Ali arrive in what appears to be a last ditch attempt to save their marriage, their sanity and themselves.  They have left everything behind and yet there is the sense they are running away from something, something that isn’t quite ready to let them go.  Their circumstances are revealed gradually through the story and I have to say that parts of their backstory gave me more chills than the events at Rosalind House. Not everyone is suited to the life of a commune and Ali struggles to adapt. Strange things start to happen and it’s not long before she begins to doubt her decision to go there. Their past however, doesn’t seem to want to leave them and it creeps slowly into the day to day life of the commune.  Their arrival causes Rosalind House to stir.  It’s dark history leaving them unable to find any peace until the icy, chill of its touch reaches out and grabs them. Evil has been lingering in the shadows of Rosalind House and it seems that Jack and Ali’s arrival only helps bring it out into the light.

A fantastic mix of psychological thriller, murder mystery and ghost story, The Lingering is simply wonderful.  It pulls you in right from the get-go and consumes your thoughts long after the final page is turned.  Even now, several weeks later, it still send shivers down my spine and creeps into my dreams.  I do love a creepy, story but just one word of advice… perhaps don’t read this in the bath.

The Lingering by S J I Holliday is another fantastic offering from the wonderful Orenda Books

You can follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday or visit her website: sjiholliday.com.

Thank you so much to Anne at and Orenda Books for my review copy and for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.  This is a book I will definitely be recommending and I now look forward to reading more from S J I Holliday.

There is a fantastic promotional video on Facebook which I very much urge you to take a peek at here.