Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear / #BlogTour #GuestPost

Hi guys! Are you all having a great Saturday?

So all you lovely folks out there. Today I have a new blog tour for you – Caz Frear’s debut novel, “Sweet LittleLies”, was published on 29th June by Zaffre. This book has won the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition – I have read some books that have won this competition already and they were all brilliant, so it’s already a great recommendation, no? Sadly, I haven’t managed to read this novel in time for my blog tour stop but I am already half into it and believe me, guys – it’s Special. It’s Something. And today I am thrilled to have a guest post from Caz on fascination with prologues – enjoy!

516zotzxaml-_sx323_bo1204203200_Prologues – what’s the fascination?  Should you or shouldn’t you?

Wikipedia states, a prologue is an opening to a story that establishes the context and gives background details, along with other miscellaneous information.’

Mmmm, I beg to differ, Wikipedia.  In fact, I’d argue that sums everything a prologue shouldn’t be.  More of that later.

But first, here’s a thing:  I’m not even sure if my novel, Sweet Little Lies has a prologue.  I certainly haven’t called it ‘The Prologue’ and it’s just become known as ‘That Bit at The Start’.  If truth be told, I was scared of writing the ‘P’ word as it’s such a divisive term in the literary world.  Some people can’t stand them.  They say they’re lazy, or indulgent – literary shorthand for “not important.”   However, surely the point of a good prologue is that there’s ‘something’ contained within it that’s so damn bloody important that it can’t just be covered casually, in passing, within the main narrative?

But then, as with everything in life, there are good prologues and bad prologues.

Rumour has it that some people skip prologues altogether – all I can say here is that I’m yet to meet one.  Then there’s also the slightly skewed myth that publishers and agents HATE prologues.  That they’re a fast-track to an auto-reject.  While, admittedly, I do know of a few book-folk who definitely aren’t wild about them, who think they’re overused etc, the very presence of the word PROLOGUE usually isn’t enough to make an agent or publisher banish you to literary purgatory forever, not if your writing shines and your characters sing.

They’ll just make you get rid of it in the edit, that’s all.

It’s sometimes remarked that prologues, especially within the crime genre, really took off with the rise of the e-book – the idea being that, with fiction at our fingertips, available at knock-down prices, the reader demands instant gratification in the first few pages or they simply cut their losses and move on.  While I don’t doubt there’s some truth in this, I think it does the poor prologue a slight disservice.  It plays up to it’s ‘cheap gimmick’ reputation and forgets that if done well, the prologue is an incredibly strong plot device.  After all, they’ve been knocking around since the days of Chaucer and Shakespeare certainly didn’t shy away from including one.  Also, by way of anecdote, I know of one very successful author who experienced a whole round of rejections when her non-prologued debut first went out on submission, but after a teeny bit of plot surgery and the addition of a killer prologue (literally), the book went to auction in the second round.  Pure coincidence – possibly.  But she firmly believes the prologue had a lot to do with it.

So, more knowledgeable folk than me have given their views on what makes a good or bad prologue, but hey, it’s 2017 and everyone’s got an opinion, so for what it’s worth, here’s mine…

A prologue should

  • Grab the reader by the throat. It shouldn’t be thoughtful, meandering or abstract.  Of course, that doesn’t mean there has to be a car chase or an explosion (although feel free) but it should contain some sort of action and pose an immediate question.  Who is she running from?  Why is the door locked?
  • Be relatively short. There’s no hard and fast rules on word-count, but more than a few pages and it either needs sharpening or scrapping (and calling ‘Chapter 1’)
  • Be set outside the main story. A different narrator, a different timeframe, a different continent, whatever.  Again, if it’s part of the main story, it’s probably not a prologue, it’s Chapter 1.

A prologue can…

  • Be the very last thing you write – in fact, there’s a case for saying it should be.
  • Exist without the word ‘Prologue’ written at the top. Prologues can come in the form of a diary entry/a newspaper cutting/a court transcript…
  • Be taken from a scene that comes much later in the book – the reader (usually) won’t mind the repetition as it now holds new meaning.
  • Allow you to use a very different tone, tense, narrator (not all prologues are narrated by the main protagonist.

A prologue shouldn’t

  • Be an info-dump. This is the last thing it should be and it’s my only ‘shouldn’t’.  Ultimately, a prologue is all about intrigue – the info and the history can come later (although seeded in gradually – an info-dump isn’t a great at any point!)

 

 

*DISCLAIMER  J

There are glorious, best-selling exceptions to all these rules – stream-of-consciousness prologues, fifteen page prologues, prologues that read like text-books until you reach the end and it all makes sense.   But remember they’re the exception, not the norm, and while brass-necked originality is what we think everyone craves, there’s something to be said for sticking to the norm – .to giving the reader what they expect.

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Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson / Blog Tour + Guest Post

I am thrilled to be hosting Patricia Wilson on my blog today. Her newest release – a debut novel –  “The Island of Secret”, has one of the most gorgeous and promising synopsis and with so many 5* reviews I am sure it’s going to be an excellent read! On my stop today I have a little teaser for you – an extract from the book. Enjoy!

island-of-secrets

 ‘Writing about locations’

Location is the gift-wrapping of a story. When you set the scene, you also set the mood, and hint at the drama and tension that will follow. A sensitive description of a scene’s location presents the ambiance that surrounds the action, drama, and emotion.

Location is more than scene setting, it should involve as many of the senses as possible, sight, sound, smells, and even touch. Trying to avoid the use of clichés can be difficult. The turquoise water, cobalt sky, and lashing rain, are all over used, but occasionally still have their place.

If you can’t go to your story’s location, use YouTube, google earth, tourist information and travel books to soak up the topography and atmosphere.

When it is possible, there is nothing to compare with actually visiting the scene in your novel and absorbing every element of the surroundings. However, the location does more than describe where we are, it also mirrors the action. Ugly back allies are the places where dastardly deeds take place. Beautiful beaches await happy families. Candle-lit restaurants are filled with romantic couples. Breaking with these, and similar, expectations can increase tension and unpredictability in a novel, thereby keeping the reader hooked.

Background people can also accessorise the location. Physical traits of the ‘extras’ in a scene can add much to the image and mood picked up by the reader. Nothing beats physically spending some time in your novels location. Take a pen, a notebook, and a camera. Video if possible to capture the noise too. Jot down the smells. Eavesdrop. Go through all these things when writing the drama that happens in that same location.

Strengthen the location descriptions once your story is down. Start with the strongest aspect, expand with lesser images. That way, the reader is fixed in the location from the off. The stink of the fish market, rather than, the market stinks of fish.

Keep the reader informed as to where they are, close to the start of a new scene. Jog the reader’s memory with a few words, occasionally, and this is where your extras come in useful. A sweating bartender smears beer stains on a chipped granite counter. A uniformed bartender flicks a pristine white cloth before polishing champagne flutes. Just refresh our memory.

Let the reader sense the atmosphere. The smoke, loud music, greasy wine glass, men squeezing past, body odour, flowery perfume. The location puts us in the mood for scenes that follow.

Describe the location as if writing flash fiction. Keep it strong and evocative. Make every word count, and don’t forget to bring in some contrasts to grab, and hold on to, the reader’s attention.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patricia Wilson lives in the village of Amiras in Crete where the book is set. She was wilson2c-patriciainspired to write when she unearthed a machine gun in her garden – one used in the events that unfolded in September 1943, and much of the novel is based on real stories told to her by the oldest women of Amiras. Women who’ve never spoken of their experiences before. This is her debut novel. #IslandofSecrets

Invisible Women by Sarah Long – Blog Tour + Guest Post

Hi guys, hope you are all doing great. Today I have a great guest post for you from the author of “Invisible Women”, Sarah Long. The book sounds totally like my cup of tea and I am looking forward for it being published in paperback in autumn – right now you can treat yourself to an ebook. She’s writing about Facebook addiction – rings a bell, no? Put your feet high and enjoy!

 

Blog by Sarah Long

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 Facebook Addiction

It makes you unhappy. You are forced to compare your ordinary existence with far more glamorous lives. You‘ve been to the supermarket and put some chops in the oven, while everyone else is on a tropical island or a ski slope, pouting at the camera to convey just how fab a time they are having.

And yet most of us are addicted. We pick up our phones the moment we wake up to check what our Friends have been up to. Marvelling at the person who posted his opinions on Brexit at four in the morning. Four in the morning!! The bragging of the proud grandmother, the international business jetsetter, the manic gardener. All of them shameless show-offs, even though we were taught as children not to blow our own trumpet.

There’s another purpose to Facebook, aside from keeping up with family and friends. Sorry, that’s Friends with a capital F. It’s a buffet against loneliness. You can dip into other people’s lives the way you might have leant over the garden gate in a former age to have a good old nose around.

In my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN, my heroine Tessa is feeling the emptiness now her youngest child has gone away to university. Or ‘uni’ as she has trained herself to call it, not wanting to appear old-fashioned. Every day, she stalks her daughter on Facebook, examining her photos, scrutinising all the boys and wondering which one she may be ‘seeing’ and which one she may have ‘friend zoned.’ She worries that Lola’s looking a little the worse for wear, you do hear terrible stories about Freshers’ Week, and teenagers overdoing the drink and falling into the river.

But it’s not her daughter she should be worried about. Social media is a notoriously convenient tool for stoking up old fires. You never really ‘move on’ from your past any more. Not when your teenage boyfriend can track you down so easily, even though you are now both in your fifties and one of you is married.  When Tessa receives a message from John, her world is turned upside down. Her Facebook addiction brings unexpected consequences in the form of a hot, illicit romance. Or maybe that is what she was looking for all along. If you’re bored with your husband and living life at one remove, as an online  spectator, why wouldn’t you embrace the chance for something as real and insistent as your former admirer who’s come all the way from America to claim you for his own?

 INVISIBLE WOMEN by Sarah Long is published by Bonnier Zaffre

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An Unsuitable Marriage by Colette Dartford

An Unsuitable Marriage by Colette Dartford

 

Publisher: Zaffre34035837

Publishing Date: 9th March 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction,  General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When the worst happens, could your marriage survive? A sharp and emotional novel of a family under pressure, perfect for fans of Joanna Trollope and Hilary Boyd.

Olivia always thought she had the perfect family life. A loving husband in Geoffrey, a thoughtful and intelligent son in Edward and a beautiful home in the Somerset countryside.

But all that changed when Geoffrey’s business went under. Now penniless and homeless, Geoffrey is living with his recently widowed mother, whilst Olivia has been forced to take a job as housemistress at her son’s elite boarding school.

Soon the cracks in the relationship start to show. And, increasingly desperate, Geoffrey makes a mistake. One that could have consequences for the whole family . . .

Rating: 3/5

I’ve read Colette Dartford’s debut novel “Learning to Speak American” some time ago and it was a steady, nice read so I really wanted to see how she managed with the dreaded second book. The synopsis to “An Unsuitable Marriage” is great, it sounds so chilling and I was sure it’s going to be a great read. However, this time, and I am sorry to say this, the story itself don’t do the synopsis justice. It’s not a bad read, not at all, and it has its moments, but it promises something that we, in fact, don’t get.

Olivia had everything – a doting husband, intelligent and talented son, Manor Farm house, money and no problems. But then her husband George goes bankrupt and everything in Olivia’s life changes – they find themselves homeless and with money troubles. So Olivia jumps at the chance of taking a place as a house parent at her son’s boarding school. Well, she doesn’t have a lot of choice, to be honest – either the job or living with George at his mother’s, and the two women never took to each other, and George has never stood up for his wife. As it usually happen, one trouble results in the next and there are really many problems on the horizon for Olivia and her family.

The characters were not the easiest to warm to – at least for me. However, while George seems to be stuck in the rut of living at home and finding new “hobbies”, at least Olivia is doing better, or she’s at least trying, she’s doing something. They are full of flaws, but that’s the thing that made them feel very realistic, however I had a feeling that there are too many flaws, especially in George. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if those two were anytime good for each other. I’m not sure if they loved each other, and they got married because of Olivia getting pregnant and George’s parents being so conventional and traditional. So there was really not much keeping them together when the things turned out the difficult way, or was there? They also felt too wooden and I’d love to get more into their emotions. Yes, they were convincing in the way they were and acted but they lacked the depth that makes the characters more realistic and more possible for me to relate to and to understand them better.

I think that what mostly disappointed me is what the author has done to one of the most significant characters. It was so sudden and unexpected and for me it looked as if Ms Dartford perhaps didn’t know what to do with her or how to finish this subplot. I mean, I didn’t like her, this character, I despised her to be honest but doing this what the author’s done just clipped my wings. I was hoping for more complexion, and it just seemed that the author has made her life easier, too the easy way out instead of trying to complicate the story and finish it in a different way. It was just as if she wanted to got rid of the problem, to remove her out of the way.

This book lacked in something for me, and I can’t put my fingers on what it was exactly, there just wasn’t any spark that makes the reading exceptional. It was not a bad book, oh my word, of course not, but it was also not the one that wow – ed me. It shows the real world, how real marriages work but it just didn’t capture my attention. I also all the time had a feeling that the book is set in the United States, even though it was set in England, but I just had the feeling that the setting, the descriptions of the places, the boarding school is too American. It also seemed to me that the author wanted to touch upon too many issues in her story. They were very important issues, such as betrayals, marriages falling apart, bullying and sexual abuse and while some of them were relatively well developed, most of them was rather brushed over. What was brilliantly written and captured in the best possible way was the boarding school and the dynamics between parents and students. The bullying doesn’t start at school, it starts at home and the author has really smartly smuggled those information on to her pages. It is rather sad that it works that way but it is the way that it really is, and, ultimately, children suffer while parents play their own games.

So “An Unsuitable Marriage” is a story about new beginnings and finding courage. While it was not my favourite read, please do try it for yourself because what doesn’t work for me may work for you! I am also already waiting for Ms Dartford’s next book, as I am really intrigued what she has in store for us next.

The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell

The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell

 

33784968Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 26th January 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella’. Another hilarious and heart-warming romantic comedy from bestselling author Anna Bell

When Lexi’s sport-mad boyfriend Will skips her friend’s wedding to watch football – after pretending to have food poisoning – it might just be the final whistle for their relationship.

But fed up of just getting mad, Lexi decides to even the score. And, when a couple of lost tickets and an ‘accidentally’ broken television lead to them spending extra time together, she’s delighted to realise that revenge might be the best thing that’s happened to their relationship.

And if her clever acts of sabotage prove to be a popular subject for her blog, what harm can that do? It’s not as if he’ll ever find out . . .

Rating: 5/5

“The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even” is one of the best titles ever, and when you read out loud it sounds even better – just try it! I love this alliteration – at least I think it is the name of the thing when every word starts with the same letter? Whatever, alliteration or not, if the book was written by someone else and had the same title, I’d buy it quick as a flash. That the author is Anna Bell is just a very, very nice bonus – with every new release her books are getting better and better and soon I will have to stretch out my rating to 10 stars because five are really not enough!

This book is a pure entertainment and every page has made me smile. I immediately warmed to our main character, Lexi. I loved her ideas of revenge, they were refreshing, unusual and totally entertaining, and if I weren’t so annoyed with Will I’d feel sorry for him, as he was so unsuspecting, and really, seeing how he’s wandering into the little web that Lexi has planned, just like an innocent lamb into a lions den, well… It made me really anxious to see what’s going to happen and what the outcome would be. Although I personally am not sure if I could live with such a boyfriend as Will was. There is being a sport fan and being a sport fan. I mean, I love many things in my life but I don’t just conveniently forget about everything or fake sickness to entertain myself. Although when reading reviews for this book I came across a few of them where their authors say that they know/live with such sport – obsessed Wills themselves, so as much as it was almost unbelievable for me, maybe it really happens in real life.

But I enjoyed every single second of this novel. Really. Following Lexi and Will around London and then Barbados was brilliant. I admired Lexi’s patience at fitting her life around Will’s game of darts (darts! I mean DARTS! I can understand football, and even cricket, especially when it is played on Barbados, but darts??? It is for me equally with cycling and bobsleigh on the boring – scale), and I really admired the fact that it took her so long to try and plot a revenge for her sport – obsessed boyfriend.

This book is written with such a natural way, with tons of natural humour, and it was flowing so effortlessly. There was such a great, positive vibe to this book and the feel – good factor, and I finished it grinning and feeling so warm inside. I love Anna Bell’s writing style so much, it’s warm, descriptive, vivid, bubbly and the way she tells the story is absolutely hooking. She has made out of this story an exceptionally good one. For me it was also not so predictable. I could never tell which way it’s going to go, what’s going to happen, what Lexi is going to plan, how far she’s going to go and if Will will eventually either spot something or go even further with his obsession. It was full of confusions and unexpected embarrassing situations and I loved it! This book, light, heart – warming rom – com, has really had it all: humour, romance, a little drama at the end, brilliantly developed characters and a storyline in which the main character starts to realise that no matter how much she loves her boyfriend, they must change something. Highly recommended!
And lovely Anna, thank you so much for the special “thank yous” in your Acknowledgements! Means TONS!

Corpus by Rory Clements / Blog Tour

Hi guys, happy Thursday! We’ve almost done it to the weekend, yay! In the meantime I have a very exciting blog tour for you today – “Corpus” by Rory Clements. The book sounds incredibly intriguing and it already has raving reviews – I personally can’t wait to start reading it! It is already on my bookshelf, but what with time – lack and life generally getting in the way I haven’t started it yet – but am so looking to it! I am sure that after reading the extract that I have a pleasure to post today you’ll be wanting to read it as much as I do!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

1936.26859967

Europe is in turmoil.

The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland.

In Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror.

Spain has erupted in civil war.

In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within weeks, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers.

In a London club, three senior members of the British establishment light the touch paper on a conspiracy that will threaten the very heart of government. Even the ancient colleges of Cambridge are not immune to political division. Dons and students must choose a side: right or left, where do you stand?

When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books. But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe – and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson…

Set against the drumbeat of war and moving from Berlin to Cambridge, from Whitehall to the Kent countryside, and from the Fens to the Aragon Front in Spain, this big canvas international thriller marks the beginning of a major new series from bestselling author Rory Clements.

Berlin, August, 1936

CHAPTER 1

The man was grey-haired, about fifty, and carried a black briefcase. He

wore black trousers, a brown linen jacket, white shirt and striped tie but

no hat. He might have been an office worker, except for the white socks

and brown, open-toed sandals. White socks and sandals. In the middle of

a working day, in the traffic-mad tumult of Potsdamer Platz, in the centre

of Berlin. He was standing beside her at the edge of the pavement, waiting

to cross.

Nancy Hereward turned her head and caught his eye. She stared at him

hard and he looked away. She felt like laughing, but her mouth was dry

and she had a terrible thirst. Surely, if he was following her, he wouldn’t

have made eye contact? Nor would he have dressed so distinctively. If

you were tailing someone, you had to meld into the crowd, not stick out.

A gap opened up between the trams, the buses, the cars and the horsedrawn

carts, and he made a dash for the other side of the road by way of

the clock tower island. Nancy waited.

Ahead of her, a policeman with white gloves was directing the onrush

of vehicles. To her left , two young women in sunglasses were examining

postcards at a newspaper kiosk. They wore flat slip-on shoes and shortsleeved,

calf-length summer dresses, one polka-dot, the other floral,

revealing healthy, tanned forearms. Through the fog of her brain, Nancy’s

first thought was that they must be tourists like her, but they seemed too

confident for that, and their shoes were not designed for tramping across

miles of an alien city. She caught the soft burr of their spoken German.

Their easy sophistication marked them down as bourgeois Berliners, not

provincials.

Nancy realised that she was doing the same to everyone she saw;

assessing them, deciding who they were, what they might be concealing.

Suddenly everyone looked like plainclothes officers. She had an urge to

confront everyone in the crowd and demand of each of them, ‘Are you

secret police? Are you secret police?’ She pulled her sun hat down over

her hair. Her hands were sweaty and her dress clung to her body. She

clutched her slim shoulder-bag closer to her side and walked on.

It was late afternoon but the heat of the day had not yet relented. She

and Lydia had taken the U-Bahn from the Reichssportfeld station at

the Olympic Stadium in the west of the city and had spent two hours

shopping and sightseeing in the broad avenues and boulevards around

Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden. Now she had slipped away and

was alone, the map of the streets she must walk down memorised.

The city was full of thousands of tourists, here for the Olympics and

all the fun surrounding the games. No one is following you. She said the

words under her breath. She gripped her hands into fists, then released,

then gripped again. She took deep breaths to calm herself and increased

her pace, trying to make herself look businesslike, less foreign. Less

interesting…

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rory2bclements2bcolourRORY CLEMENTS won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award in 2010 for his second novel, Revenger. He is the author of the John Shakespeare series of novels which are currently in development for TV by the team behind Poldark and Endeavour. Since 2007, Rory has been writing full-time in a quiet corner of Norfolk, England, where he lives with his family.

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Q&A with Herta Feely

Hi guys! I am extremely thrilled today to post a Q&A with Herta Feely, author of “Saving Phoebe Murrow”. I immediately knew that I want to read this book – since I’ve become a mum myself I am incredibly into novels about mothers and daughter, conflicts between them. This book is also special as it touches upon cyber – bullying, a thing that I am incredibly scared of. Sometimes I think that I’d love my daughter to stay 5 years old for ever, to be honest, as I know that I can’t protect her from the world that Phoebe Murrow has already entered – if you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it to you (keep your eyes peeled for my review coming here in the next few days). And thank you, Herta, for the lovey Q&A!

  1. Hi Herta, can you please introduce yourself to the readers?

I must admit I always find this question challenging, because it makes me wonder: What do 31328538 readers really want to know? To be quite honest, at the moment, perhaps what I want readers to know about most is my great concern and fervent wish for planet Earth. I hope and pray for a more peaceful and united world, on every front. It is a hope shared by millions, I’m sure, and the question always is, how can I do my part to make it a better place? That is how I begin this month.

 On a lighter note, I am an avid traveler of the world who loves orchids, cats, and butterflies. I also love sitting by a glittering ocean and reading a novel. Favorite times include homemade meals (prepared by my sons and husband!), laughter and food, wine, and chocolate with close friends. I’m a lover of classical music and rock & roll, as well as modern dance and string quartets! I loved reading romance novels as a teen, and science fiction, and some of the classics, of course. Now, I read all the time, including, on occasion, in a steamy tub full of bubble bath. And I do have lots of fantasies, but I can’t tell you about those. Now, I must get back to spinning prose out of straw in my third floor prison, because I’m slightly behind on the deadline for my next novel! (and for those who’d like to know more, there are “fun facts” about my life on my website http://www.hertafeely.com)

 

  1. What inspired you to write a book about the timeless struggle between mothers and daughters?

I didn’t set out to write about that topic, but it grew organically out of the story I was trying to tell, that Phoebe gets cyber-bullied, in part because of something her mother, Isabel, did. From the very beginning, as I began to write the story, I felt the tension between Isabel and her daughter. I suppose that storyline came naturally because of my own difficult relationship with my mother. Just as Phoebe feels her mother is too restrictive and fails to understand her, so did I with my own mother. However, the similarity between my own story and that of my fictional characters ends there. So, I suppose the tagline “timeless struggle between mothers and daughters” is as true today as it was in my day, and probably will continue to be so. I can’t say that I fully understand this struggle, perhaps in part because I only have sons, but it certainly seems to be the case with many of my friends who have girls.

 

  1. If you were to describe “Saving Phoebe Murrow” in three sentences…

Saving Phoebe Murrow is a story of mothers, daughters and the devastating potential of social media.  It delves into female friendships and the complicated web of adolescent relationships. And finally, it’s a novel about love and betrayal, but then aren’t most books?

 

  1. How do you recall your own teenage times? Mine were not SO long ago but I find them much easier… I think it’s somehow much more difficult for the present teenagers to live their teenage years through.

My teenage times happened in the 1970s when a cultural revolution was underway, not to mention political strife in the US and around the globe. It was an exciting, vibrant, but also frightening time and I wanted to participate. I tried everything, much to my parents’ chagrin, including protesting the Vietnam War and spending a few nights in jail. I believe that particular time, which shook up the world and the status quo, was probably as difficult to navigate as the world teens are growing up in now, just with a different set of issues to deal with.

 

  1. What was the most difficult aspect of the book to write?

Most difficult for me were certain aspects of the teens’ world that I simply couldn’t be sure of. I’d love feedback on that, though I haven’t heard anything negative from the teens and twenty-somethings who’ve read it. To write those scenes, I relied on snippets of what I’d heard from my own children, their friends and the experiences of my friends who had sons and daughters. What young people, who’ve read the book, seem most to relate to is the bullying aspect. Some have written to me, saying that Saving Phoebe Murrow took them back to their own teen years, reminding them of the difficulty of mean girls and bullying, which made me happy in the sense that the story resonated for them.

 

  1. What would you like your readers to take from “Saving Phoebe Murrow”?

I’d like them to think about the fragility and precious nature of all relationships. That it’s so important to treat others with love and respect and kindness. I’d love for mothers and/or parents to talk about social media and its implication for their children and how to deal with it. And of course I’d like my readers to thoroughly enjoy the story.

 

  1. Any tips for mothers of teenage daughters?

Stay in close touch. Ask questions. Listen. Be firm but kind. Love them with all your heart. (I know, easier said than done, but it’s important to remember these basic things and to try putting them into action everyday.)

 

  1. Are you working on a new novel already?

Yes, I am. In fact, I’m closing in on the finale of the story, but it’s just a first draft and still needs work. I’m quite excited about it, because it deals with some very different issues than my debut novel, although All Fall Down, the working title, also features a very strong female character, in fact, two of them. The story is mainly told through the eyes of Charlotte Cooper, a human rights activist about to receive her dream job at Amnesty International in London. Just before assuming her new position, her husband, an archaeologist, goes missing somewhere along the Turkish border with Syria. And her past comes back to haunt her, placing her job in jeopardy. The story then delves into the three men she loved—a Nigerian sculptor she met at Oxford, a Sandinista commander in Nicaragua, and Russ, the American archaeologist. So it’s a bit political and also, more importantly, a love story.

 

  1. And as it’s almost Christmas, Herta – what would you like to find in your stockings this year?

A trip to Cuba, high quality chocolate, and a movie deal for Saving Phoebe Murrow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 7755671  Herta Feely (also published as Herta B. Feely) is a writer and full-time editor. Her short stories and memoir have been published in anthologies and literary journals, including The Sun, Lullwater Review, The Griffin, Provincetown Arts, and Big Muddy. In the wake of the James Frey scandal, Feely edited and published the anthology, Confessions: Fact or Fiction? She was awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Artist in Literature Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for The Trials of Serra Blue. She has also received an award from American Independent Writers for best published personal essay for a piece on immigration. A graduate of UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University, Feely is the co-founder of Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization dedicated to saving children from unintentional injuries, the leading killer of children in the United States. Her newest book, Saving Phoebe Murrow, will be released in September of 2016. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and cats.