News Roundup: New Releases from Clare Lydon, Jade Winters & KE Payne, New UK Author Jen Silver, Interviews, Reviews, Blogs & More!

23 Oct

There’s certainly been no sedate shift into autumnal mists and mellow fruitfulness in UK LesFic land. Nope, far from battening down the hatches and settling in with a nice hot water bottle and a slanket, we have new books flying out of the traps, awards being awarded, TV deals being done, and a new author to welcome to the site. So, let’s just get on with it, eh?

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Shall we open this week with a bit of blogging and a couple of interviews?

stilllifeFor those who couldn’t make it to the recent Spot-On Romance weekend at the Virtual Living Room, L.T. Smith has been writing about her experiences as one of the authors in the Spot-On spotlight:

The questions posed were so thoughtful, almost like a gentle coaxing, that I didn’t realise I was being questioned at all. It was like a chat with some very good friends about subjects that we all held dear. All that was missing was the cafetiere and the smell of scones baking.

Head here for the full piece, and try not to be put off by the scary-looking kid right at the start (L.T. if that’s your scary-looking kid, then I apologise unreservedly…)

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catherine hallOn a slightly darker note, Catherine Hall has posted a guest blog here in which she reveals the inspiration behind her latest novel, The Repercussions:

I used to work for an international peacebuilding organisation and in 2003 I took a trip to Rwanda with a photographer to talk to people and take photographs that we could use for our communications work…

I was profoundly affected by that trip. For months I felt sick, and had terrible nightmares. The photographer I was with had been there during the genocide and she was still traumatised. And so I began to wonder what it must be like for a war photographer, who sees more wars and even more close up, than most soldiers. And that was where the idea for Jo, my war photographer came from.

Hit the link for the full, thought-provoking piece.

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Kerry-Hudson-008Kerry Hudson, who won the Scottish First Book Award for Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, has a recent interview in the Daily Record. Her second novel Thirst features an unconventional love story between a Siberian shoplifter and a London security guard, and has just been long-listed for the Green Carnation prize. You can read the interview and check out the other novels longlisted for the Green Carnation prize by clicking the two links – you might have to answer a stupid question about Homebase to access the interview!

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And what would a news round up be without a mention of Sarah Waters? She’s been chatting to Lambda Literary about – you guessed it! – The Paying Guests, in an interview worth reading if only for her answer to the 10th question. I mean, it’s worth reading anyway, but that one is particularly amusing.

You can also catch up with interviews on the LGBT radio show Out in South London with Sarah Waters and Catherine Hall, both discussing their latest novels. Click here for details and to listen to the show.

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jensilverThis week we issue a warm welcome to new author Jen Silver who, along with most of the northern England lesbian contingent, lives near Hedben Bridge in Yorkshire (true fact, international readers!) Her début novel, Starting Over - an archaeology-themed romance – was recently published by Affinity Press and has already garnered an excellent review from Terry Baker:

History, romance, intrigue, mystery, infidelity, love and loss are all entwined together in this wonderfully well written, fast paced, debut romance from the pen of new lesfic author Jen Silver… This is a story which grabbed me from the beginning. Both Ellie and Robin have their faults and flaws. It’s their journey on the path of love in this story that shows how love can conquer almost anything. But, it also shows that relationships have to be worked on and the course of true love doesn’t always run smoothly.

starting overAnd from Rainbow Book Reviews:

There is a large and diverse ensemble providing many fascinating, amusing, and lovingly delicious interactions. It is always enjoyable when an author can sculpt such intriguingly different dynamics and backgrounds for the distinctive women and men covering a wide range of ages. The collection of lesbians alone in this fairly small community in northern England generates some felicitous tension as previous pairs, possibly active pairs, and the central off again/on again couple add a saucy and crackling good dynamic.

All of Jen’s bio and contact information can be found on our Author page, and more details for Starting Over are on the New Releases page.

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Mari-Hannah-008And now to the Congrats! section of the news, where we offer bouquets and something shiny to Nicola Griffiths, who has scooped the Washington State Book Award (given annually for outstanding books published by Washington authors the previous year) for Hild.

Applause also to Mari Hannah whose Kate Daniels series of crime novels has been optioned by TV company Sprout Pictures. A further two books in the series have been contracted by her publisher with the first due out next year. For all the gen, head here.

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once the clouds have goneAs folks get back from their summer jollies, the news and the new releases are both picking up speed.

October has seen the release of BSB author KE Payne‘s first “contemporary romance” (KE is better known for YA novels) Once The Clouds Have Gone, which see its heroine returning to her small Scottish home town following the death of her father, and meeting up with “the intriguing and spirited Freddie Metcalfe.”

In a recent review, Terry Baker had this to say about the characters:

Both Tag and Freddie are flawed women in different ways. Both have been hurt in the past. Both need to let go of their pasts to enable them to move on and have a future, either together or not as the case may be. It’s their background stories that makes this present day story real and true to life. Their stories could happen to anyone. There is nothing remotely far fetched about them at all. As with all families, there are ups and downs. This is a real roller coaster ride of ups and downs, thrills and spills. A book I enjoyed from start to finish and could not put down.

You can find the full blurb on our New Releases page, and if you’re suitably intrigued yourselves, the novel is available to buy at all the usual places. The rest of Terry’s review is here.

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As you may have fathomed from her guest post on the blog this week, a new Jade Winters romance Second Thoughts has also hit the shelves this month, and Jade has released a trailer for the novel here.

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TheLongWeekend-640x1024Clare Lydon is swiftly following up her best-selling début London Calling, with The Long Weekend which is due for release in November. Clare has been teasing the novel over on her blog where she’s had this to say:

Book two is a drama-filled weekend flecked with humour, featuring a bunch of old friends simultaneously revelling in each other and bringing out each other’s worst attributes. It’s packed to the rafters with tension, romance, fine food and arguments, all set against the backdrop of a sparkling Devon coastline.

Keep an eye out on Clare’s blog in the run up to the book’s release where she’ll be posting the first two chapters. In the meantime, more details about the novel can be found over on the New Releases page.

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JodyKlaireFinally this week, Jody Klaire has revealed the blurb for her second novel, Fractured (book one in the Black Wolf Chronicles), which will be released in November.

Nita Ramirez, an amnesiac enforcer for the omnipotent criminal empire of Los Lobos is sent to Edinburgh, a city held in the icy grip of a serial killer, to protect an ally of her boss La Señora. While in the city, Nita discovers that the darkest depth of winter holds torturous memories, an unfinished mission to stop the murderous Slasher, and the monstrous truth that the killer she spent so long trying to find is far closer to her than she could ever imagine. To catch this killer, you have to be one.

I’m sure we’ll have more news on Fractured, and hopefully a cover, in the coming weeks.

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And I think that just about covers everything. If it doesn’t – because things do slip by us – please feel free to give us a shout :-)

Jade Winters: Saying “I do” when you so don’t

21 Oct

JadeWintersphotosmToday’s guest post is by the author of multiple best-sellers, Jade Winters. She’s written us a teasing blog about her new novel Second Thoughts which has already hooked her many readers.

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When we’re lost in the heady moments of new love, powerless against its mesmerising spell, how many of us actually listen to that tiny voice within? You know the one, that niggling little voice of reason telling us something’s not quite right. That inner voice that sees through the lust and wild passion and points out the cold hard truth none of us wish to hear – “Sorry love, she’s just not right for you.” So, hands up, who has ever listened to that little voice?

Frankly not many, if divorce statistics are anything to go by! But even if we do harbour such doubts, can we ever truly know if we are marrying the right person until it’s too late? This is the dilemma that the central character Melissa faces in my new novel Second Thoughts. Her quandary is further compounded by the unexpected arrival of her ex-partner, Sara – the one that ripped her heart out, the one that destroyed her. Talk about bad timing. Still, you know what they say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

SecondThoughtsSo Melissa is confused to say the least. But that’s not all. Add to the mix a giant dose of bereavement and heartache, and you see how fate has truly mixed her a lethal cocktail. One which will play havoc with her ability to make any type of decision, let alone one that will change her life forever.

At this stage in her life, Melissa’s motivation is clear. All she wants is to feel safe and secure – something she has never experienced. A loving but distant mother, a sister who was emotionally unavailable – is it any wonder she said “I do” to the safe, reliable Bettina when she asked her for her hand in marriage? Life is so simple now, she had thought, all worked out. How wrong could she be! The last thing Melissa would have expected was for Sara to turn up and throw a heart-shaped spanner in the works. Sara the heartbreaker. Sara the dissembler. The one that left. She had her chance but had blown it when she decided to put her career ahead of their relationship. How could she come back now, just as Melissa was getting her life sorted? Does Sara really deserve redemption, after all it was Bettina who picked up the broken pieces of Melissa’s life and made her whole again?

And so the dice is thrown. The book follows Melissa’s roller-coaster of emotions as she struggles to decipher what, and more importantly who she wants. Should she plod down the safe road of the tried and tested with Bettina or throw caution to the wind, chancing it all on the fickle and unpredictable Sara? Then just when she thought things couldn’t get worse, a dark family secret explodes like a bomb, shattering her world further. The course of true love never did run smooth…

News roundup: award shortlists, interviews, new releases and something for the weekend

10 Oct

The eagle-eyed and elephant-brained among you may have noticed and retained that UKLesFic slept through last week’s news. Don’t worry, it was a planned lie-in, as we intend to bring you the news fortnightly in future. UK authors are a much busier bunch than we ever anticipated so we’re going to a slightly cut-down version of the news every two weeks. We’ll still be covering everything from Booker prize winners to the latest debut publications, but we’ll leave out, for example, reviews of novels that have already been covered well.

In that vein, here is the news:

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rainbowawardsfinalistUK authors have been putting in a good appearance in the Rainbow Awards. In the run-up to announcing the finalists, honourable mentions were made about books that received 36 or more out of 40 points from at least one judge, and for the Brits that included: Clean Slate and Nightingale by Andrea Bramhall, Tumbledown by Cari Hunter, Secret Lies by Amy Dunne, That Certain Something by Clare Ashton and the anthology When The Clock Strikes Thirteen which includes a short story by LT Smith.

The list of finalists was published on Sunday and UKLesFic were especially pleased to see that it included the following books.

In the Lesbian Romantic Comedy category: Playing My Love by Angela Peach and That Certain Something by Clare Ashton

Lesbian Sci-Fi / Futuristic & Fantasy: The Empath by Jody Klaire

Lesbian Mystery / Thriller: Tumbledown by Cari Hunter

LGBT Anthology / Collection: When the Clock Strikes Thirteen featuring a short story by L.T. Smith

Lesbian Contemporary Romance: Clean Slate by Andrea Bramhall, Nightingale by Andrea Bramhall and See Right Through Me by L.T. Smith

The winners of the awards will be announced on December 8th, and you can find the full list of finalists and read what the judges had to say about the Honourable Mentions at this link.

As well as the judged entries there is also a cover contest which is open to a public vote.
theempath_lglondon callingthat certain somethingtumbledownforblogBooks from four UK authors have made it through to the final round of voting and are: The Empath by Jody Klaire, London Calling by Clare Lydon, That Certain Something by Clare Ashton and Tumbledown by Cari Hunter.

You can vote for your favourites here – you need to vote for at least three for your vote to count, but you can vote for more if the fancy takes you! Voting closes 18th October.

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planetlondonVoting is now open for the Ultimate Planet Awards. These awards were launched last year and were designed to recognise the lesbian, bisexual and queer women in the community who contribute the thriving social scene. They have two categories for authors this year and these are the excellent shortlists together with reasons for the nominations:

Author of the year:

Catherine Hall – “for her new book The Repercussions which is unputdownable”
Kiki Archer – “Kiki Archer is a young and vibrant author appealing to a young and vibrant reader. There is also much warmth and humour in her novels.”
Sarah Waters – “At the top of her game. Just when you think she can’t get any better she brings out a new book to blow your mind”
Stella Duffy – “Intelligent, warm lady with a charm to match. Her books are something else”
VG Lee – “She delivers all emotions and gives an insight into her own world. She just draws you in and compels you to read. A truly talented writer.”

Debut author of the year:

Clare Lydon – “Clare has come into the charts with a brilliantly exciting novel, one of which you won’t want to leave until the final word and full stop.”
Karen Campbell – “Karen is new on the lesbian author scene and deserves to have her work recognised for the talent that she demonstrates.”
Robin Talley – “Interestingly written & beautifully captivating.”
Sarah Westwood – “The Rubbish Lesbian continues to bring it. Every time.”
VA Fearon – “writing hard hitting fiction with lesbians central to her story. The book is tight, well paced and she captures an underworld with a sharp eye, yet also some humour.”

Go and vote for your favourite authors! Here’s the link.

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Interviews

330x235valmcdermidA couple of nice interviews for you now. Val McDermid was interviewed on The Big Thrill.  It’s a long and interesting interview and covers inspiration for The Skeleton Road, her Scottish background, crime novels and her time at university at Oxford:

“…I went to St. Hilda’s when I had just turned seventeen. I was the first person from a Scottish state school they’d ever accepted. And for me, it was a huge culture shock. Fife is quite a parochial place. For a long time it was quite cut off from the rest of Scotland, until we got the road bridges fifty years ago, and so it was quite inward looking, and to go from somewhere like that to Oxford was quite a shock. For a start, nobody could understand a word I said, because I had a very thick Fife accent, and they still use a lot of dialect words in Fife. They also talk with a fast kind of speak, a fast kind of tempo.

So first, I had to learn to speak English!

You can read the interview in full here or listen to it here.

catherine hallThere is also an excellent interview with Catherine Hall in the Polari Magazine. With the publication of her latest novel The Repercussions, it delves into her fascination of writing about war,  partly inspired by her time making documentaries about developing countries and her work in an international peace building organisation:

In 2003 I took a trip to Rwanda and the Congo with a photographer to talk to people involved in those terrible conflicts … I was profoundly affected by that trip. For months I felt a sense of nausea, and had terrible nightmares. The photographer I was with had been there last just after the genocide and she was still traumatised. I began to wonder what it must be like for a war photographer, who sees more wars, and even more close up, than most soldiers. And that was where the idea for Jo, my war photographer in The Repercussions, came from.

She also talks about her writing process, on being categorised as a lesbian writer and the importance of reflecting queer life in contemporary fiction for both queer and non-queer readers. The full interview is here.


Reviews and blogs

the repercussionsStaying with Catherine Hall for a moment, you can catch a review of The Repercussions over on Shiny New Books:

The Repercussions cleverly intertwines the lives of two women through its narrative structure. What seem on the outside like two disparate stories from different time periods are shown to have a thematic relationship to one another… Despite all the horror that both Elizabeth and Jo witness in the book, there are beautiful moments of great joy and humour. The novel shows that, even though people may be hampered by tremendous grief and trauma, there is a chance for happiness if you are brave enough to grab it.

Still Life by LT Smith was reviewed by Terry Baker:

stilllifeThis is obviously a romance and the story follows the tried, tested and successful girl meets girl, girl loses girl and gets girl again formula. It’s the journey the characters take in this book that sets it so far apart from a lot of similar romance books. Set in the art world, there is a mix of love, angst, and a wonderful laugh out loud humor throughout. The fact that Jess and Diana are flawed women and each have unhappy pasts adds into the intrigue. The push and pull of will they won’t they get together, will they won’t they stay together, will Jess get her act together is what kept me feverishly turning the pages through to the end.

BSB_Secret_LiesAmy Dunne has a guest post on Queer Romance Month. She talks about her background, her personal experiences of the good queer fiction can do and why she writes it now:

Reading books can be an enjoyable pastime, but it can also offer a different perspective, support, guidance, and encouragement to those who desperately need it. Stories and characters can give hope in an otherwise bleak and lonely world. I truly do believe that queer fiction can save lives. It helped me and the many readers that I’ve been fortunate to hear from.

You can read the full piece here.

New and future releases:

notsuchastrangerDalia Craig‘s latest romance, Not Such a Stranger, is out now. Here’s the blurb for her Whitby-set romance:

Two women, a lovely old house, and an ancient family feud, come together in this lesbian romance set in and around the picturesque seaside town of Whitby, North Yorkshire.

When Jaime Fyre inherits Rykesby from her uncle, James, the unexpected bequest proves increasingly problematic. The sudden arrival of Kimberly Marshall, who lays claim to the property, adds to Jaime’s troubles. Why is Kimberly so convinced Jaime is both a liar and a cheat?

The mystery deepens when Jaime finds a photograph of her mother amongst her uncle’s possessions. Why is it there? Did her mother and her uncle have a relationship? Jaime’s search for answers draws a blank. With nobody left to ask, the list of unanswered questions grows, matching the tension between Kimberly and Jaime.

As Jaime’s future happiness, and her relationship with Kimberly, hang in the balance will what Jaime discovers behind a locked door in the library help or hinder her quest for truth and reconciliation?

enthralledNiamh Murphy will be rolling out her new story on Wattpad first – she’ll be posting a new chapter every week until Halloween. The blurb’s below and here’s the link to more details for Wattpad.

Enthralled follows Stella, a huntress with only one mission: to kill. But one night she has decided to take on a Vampire hive completely alone and it seems she has an ulterior motive.

199stepstolovePauline George has revealed the cover and blurb for her next release. 199 Steps to Love should be out Jan 2015:

At 61, Lucy finds herself divorced and decides to go on holiday to Whitby. There she meets the gallery owner, a woman named Jamie, who she is drawn to in ways she can’t yet understand.

Jamie is also drawn to Lucy, despite the advice of her best friend against lusting after a straight woman.

But just as they come together, Lucy leaves without explanation, not only putting a physical distance between them, but an emotional one as well.

Can they overcome the distances and find each other? Or is it more than just the miles that’s keeping them apart?

Finally, don’t miss:

Jade Winter’s book giveaway for Second Thoughts. Closes midnight tonight. Details on her Facebook page.

Kerry Hudson‘s short story on Radio 4 this Sunday at 7.45 pm. Grown on This Beach is taken from the Out There anthology and is “a touching and poetic story about a woman talking through her past relationships with her new found love.”

LT Smith taking part in a Spot-on Romance weekend in the online discussion group the Virtual Living Room. Click here to join.

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Until next fortnight… ta ra!

The Great British Romance Q&A

3 Oct

Heart-FlowersWith summer fading into autumn and shorter days just around the corner, thoughts of UK LesFic naturally turn to cheerier things. Romance, love, and smoochy stuff, to be precise. Bearing this in mind, we rounded up a pucker (hey, if you can come up with a better collective term, feel free to let me know!) of UK romance authors and asked them all to ponder these questions:

As a romance author famed for bringing passion to your pages, who is your favourite smoochy fictional couple – literary or screen – and who is your favourite romance author?

Have they (the author and/or couple) influenced your own romantic scribblings in any way?

Which couple or heroine made you tear your hair out, and how would you rewrite their story?

Here’s what they had to say:

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Clare-Lydon-LV-cropClare Lydon (“writer, blogger, lover”) burst onto the LesFic scene in March of this year with her best selling début London Calling. She is a Virgo, a Spurs fan, a new convert to turkey rashers and a Curly Wurly devotee. A second book is currently “in the works.”

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starting from scratchMy favourite lesbian romance author is Georgia Beers – she produces hugely enjoyable and readable books time after time – I particularly liked Too Close To Touch, Mine and Starting From Scratch. I also just read Melissa Brayden‘s Kiss The Girl and that’s a fantastic read where the chemistry from the two leads jumps off every page. And I have to mention K.E. Lane‘s And Playing The Role Of Herself which mixes the glamour of Hollywood with an at times absurd plot, but you can’t help falling for Robyn and Caid. They’re probably my all-time favourite lesbian romance couple. I’m also mainlining Lindsey Kelk right now to see what I can learn from her – she’s a hugely successful and funny straight romance writer.

For on-screen lesbian couples it’s slim pickings, but I think Bette and Tina from The L Word ticked a lot of boxes – their reunion was a thing of beauty.

love waitsGeorgia Beers has certainly influenced me in how I try to build character development – she’s a master at it. And K.E. Lane wrote a book where the characters get together in the first half of the book – and I liked that a lot. It wasn’t a whole book of realisation dawning, followed by angst, followed by trepidation and finally, a climax. I think romance readers need a gamut of options in their plots, not for everything to follow a formulaic structure. Obviously, you can’t stray too far from the rules, but I’m all for breaking them a bit.

 

I can’t really think of any stories that have had me tearing my hair out. I read Geri Hill‘s Love Waits recently and although it’s smoothly written, my goodness, you have to wait forever till the pair get together. What can I say? I’m a very impatient woman, clearly.
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hp munroEdinburgh-based author H.P. Munro has had a pretty good year, with Grace Falls and Stars Collide both romping up the amazon charts, and her first novel Silver Wings scooping a Goldie award for best Historical Fiction. The least said about the L-Fest pirate outfit the better, however…
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As a romance author famed for bringing passion to your pages, who is your favourite smoochy fictional couple – literary or screen – and who is your favourite romance author?
I have been pondering this since you asked me a couple days ago and I can’t settle on one for either question, I think I’m too fickle to choose…However there are some fictional relationships that have resonated and stuck with me.

sunset songSunset SongLewis Grassic Gibbon. I first read it as a fifteen year old and hated the story, then while doing my Higher English I re-read it and fell in love with the book that tells the story of a young woman growing up in Aberdeenshire in the early 1900’s. Thanks to the main romance in the book, it was the first book to break my heart and I had to sit quietly in class wiping tears as the book ended. I have re-read the book about a dozen times since then and it elicits the same response now as it did to my seventeen year old self.

Not quite as literary is the relationship of Helen and Nikki in Bad Girls, it was the second mainstream TV portrayal of two woman falling in love that I saw and connected with (the first was Beth and Margaret on Brookside, which prompted me to tell my best-friend that I was gay, her response was ‘no you’re not.’ It was another twelve years before I finally got to say ‘told you so’)

I adored Helen and Nikki, the show took the time to show the friendship and subsequent relationship develop and it was my first foray into fanshipping. My penchant for getting overly attached to TV characters resulted in me writing so I guess it makes that first time special.

As for romance writer – I have a few that will make me do a happy dance when I see a new book from them. Robin Alexander, Melissa Brayden and LT Smith.

bad girlsHave they (the author and/or couple) influenced your own romantic scribblings in any way?

I definitely think so, they all are able to create an organic relationship despite how strange or unusual the meeting circumstances and they’re great at dialogue. I try to make sure my characters speak the way that I do with my friends (minus the Scottish accent). I think having a relaxed dialogue helps show the chemistry between the characters. The other thing that I like about them is that they all write with humour. I definitely try to make sure that humour is part of my work, I think the best way to a woman’s heart is being able to make her laugh (even when she’s ready to wring your neck – it’s a tactic that I find useful, if not lifesaving!)

Which couple or heroine made you tear your hair out, and how would you rewrite their story?  

Almost every book I read I end up almost yelling “Will you just speak to her!” the lack of ability to communicate honestly and openly is a plot device often used in books – mine included – but that doesn’t lessen my fury when if one or both of the characters would just use their words, they could live happily ever after sooner. Although that would probably make for a crap book. They meet, fall in love, talk…the end!

So with that in mind LT Smith’s latest book Still Life, falls into that category, but I wouldn’t want to change anything about it.

Given ten minutes with Harry Potter and I’d definitely have Hermione cop off with Harry though!

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jenny frameJenny Frame lives in Motherwell with her partner and a very spoiled dog. An Academy of Bards fan fic author, her début novel A Royal Romance will be published by Bold Strokes Books in 2015.

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My favourite fictional couple has to be Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I love the book, and the dynamic of their relationship. There have been many actors who have represented them, but I think the two who captured them best were Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in the BBC adaptation.

BSB-LoveHonorFor my favourite Romance author I would have to say both Ali Vali and Radclyffe. They were the first lesfic authors I discovered, and the ones whose characters I could relate to the most.

Have they (the author and/or couple) influenced your own romantic scribblings in any way?

Absolutely. As a relative newcomer to the world of writing, I think each new book you read teaches you something new about the process, building characters, building worlds etc. So a big influence I would say.

Which couple or heroine made you tear your hair out, and how would you rewrite their story?

Emm… I don’t think there’s been a fictional couple who have made me want to rewrite their story, as I’m not a big fan of angst ridden romantic fiction. I’m more a happily ever after type of girl. In saying that, probably Mr Darcy and Miss Bennet are the ones who would make me tear my hair out in a good way. They have so many false starts and misunderstandings, but that’s what makes it all the more romantic in the end. Well…I think so anyway!

pride-and-prejudice

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stilllifeL.T. Smith is “a late bloomer when it comes to writing”, who didn’t begin until 2005 with her first novel Hearts and Flowers Border. She soon caught the bug and has written numerous tales, usually with a comical slant to reflect, as she calls it, “my warped view of the dramatic.” Her latest novel, Still Life, was published by Ylva this month.

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Smoochy fictional couple?  Really? Smmmooooochy? Hmmm. Okay.  I will focus fully on the tasks ahead of me and try, yes try, to be as honest as I possibly can.

When asked who is my favourite ‘smoochy’ fictional couple I actually felt every thought in my head disappear as if it’d been written with a dry wipe pen and the question had acted like a white board eraser.  No. It wasn’t the word ‘smoochy’ that did it, even though the term does make the soles of my feet itch with want of running.  The main reason is because I just can’t make a decision.  There are so many couples out there that I have loved, lived with, lost over the course of a book or length of a film – and, in some cases, over a span of a series, to just choose the one.

kiss migGut reaction? Still buggered over.  I loved the characters in Kyss Mig – the delectable and edible Frida with those gorgeous blue eyes loving it up with the serious and seemingly distant Mia. But then I think of Tala and Leyla in Sharmim Sarif’s I Can’t Think Straight (for me, the book is better than the film – just saying) and the jury is out once again.  So many to choose from, Rebecca and Paris (A Perfect Ending), Elena and Peyton (Elena Undone) and many many more that I doubt you want to hear about from me.

OMG! I am expected to pick just one author from the many brilliant writers I have read? Which one of these authors has tickled my proverbial fancy with his or her construction of believable romantic figures? Each author has created people that have crawled beneath my skin and lived there for a long and beautiful time.  These characters have been part of my life for longer than it took me to read the book. That is the key to it all. If their memory echoes, if I look for them and miss them, then they are keepers.

If I had to choose one writer it would have to be Sarah Waters.  Susan Trinder and Maud Lilly will forever be my ‘look for’ ladies and Fingersmith is still my all-time favourite book.

fingersmith-bookcoverSo, has Ms Waters and the brilliant Fingersmith (not me, I hasten to add) influenced my writing?  Too damned right – the name’s a giveaway for a start.  However, it is the dual narrative found in my ‘fave’ book that gripped and grabbed and held me.  Experiencing the love and romantic dabblings between these two women from different perspectives was one of the main reasons why I penned my story Miracle in the same style.  I loved how the couple in Fingersmith relived the moment so differently but with the same love and passion. How, ultimately, this sexual joining of two women in love could hold so much yet break apart straight after.  I won’t go into detail in case you have not read the book, but for me, the point of their not getting together at this point, will press me forward and onto my next point …

This is the tearing my hair out part.  Why couldn’t Sue turn in Maud’s arms and nibble her lover’s lily white throat before whispering, ‘For all my sins, my Maud, I love you completely’ instead of pretending everything was the same as before they’d made love? But I wouldn’t change it for the world and could never rewrite it to be any better.  The only thing I would change would be the ending. I want to see more, experience more, and feel it thrum through me just like it thrummed through them.

But then again, maybe this is just me not wanting to let them go.  I’d do anything to keep them with me just for a little while longer.  That’s because even after all this this time, I still miss them.

Yes.  I am a sad git.

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BSB-AndreaBramhallLgAndrea Bramhall writes romances with an appealing difference, whether it be scuba diving in Florida Keys for Ladyfish or love across cultures in Nightingale. Her last novel Clean Slate won this year’s Lambda Award for romance and Swordfish, her follow-up to Ladyfish, will be out in January.

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As a romance author famed for bringing passion to your pages, who is your favourite smoochy fictional couple – literary or screen – and who is your favourite romance author?

Hmm…tough one. I think I’d have to admit that I don’t have a single favourite. Depending on the mood I’m in I find different dynamics attractive. Some days it’s got to be Reese and Tory, other days, it’s Dar and Kerry. Catch me on another day and its Eve and Selene. Fave romance author? Again, depends on the mood, ladies. *Shrug* What can I say? I’m fickle.

tropicalstormHave they (the author and/or couple) influenced your own romantic scribblings in any way?

Undoubtedly. But I think the couples I don’t have that much affinity for affect my writing even more. I can look at those more critically and figure out the parts that I see reflected in my own writing and help to eradicate them. Everything we read, good or bad, can have a massive influence on our own writing. That’s why the biggest tool in a writer’s arsenal is their own reading.

Which couple or heroine made you tear your hair out, and how would you rewrite their story?  

Oooo…I’m pleading the fifth on this one. I won’t give reviews to other writers and I won’t insult someone else’s work or effort by going down the route of this should have been done like this, that, or the other. I’m sorry. I don’t think it’s fair or ethical to do so. Gran always told me, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

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JadeWintersphoto Jade Winters has a knack for finding an appealing plot. Her novels, including Faking It and Say Something, shoot to the top of the charts and have their ardent fans. Her next book, Second Thoughts, is out in October.

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As a romance author famed for bringing passion to your pages, who is your favourite smoochy fictional couple – literary or screen – and who is your favourite romance author?

barbaracartland_1539376iRight, without a doubt, my favourite fictional couple would have to Tala and Leyla, in I can’t think straight. The characters have great chemistry and appeal that I found myself falling in love along with them. The fact that Lisa Ray is drop dead gorgeous is totally beside the point :-)

My favourite romance author apart from Barbra Cartland (joke!) is Sarah Waters – although her novels always have a lot more than just romance, which is what really appeals to me.
ttvHave they (the author and/or couple) influenced your own romantic scribblings in any way?

I have always loved the work of Sarah Waters and find her writing inspirational. Her language is so poetic. She manages to add such charm to her books, such a sense of being there that you can’t help but fall in love with her characters. That to me is the ultimate goal for a romance writer – you want the reader to fall under the spell of your romantic heroines too. That’s what it’s all about – making the reader ‘feel’. I think she does that incredibly well and that’s what I aspire to do in my writing.

Which couple or heroine made you tear your hair out, and how would you rewrite their story?

Definitely Nan and Kitty from Tipping the Velvet. They were so obviously right for one another. It would be nice to see them in a straightforward romance. If I was to rewrite it I would make it into a coming out story for Nan during the Victorian era and their fight to stay together despite facing adversity.

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clareashtonWhen Clare Ashton isn’t being a blog mistress on here, or attempting to corral two lively toddlers, she somehow squeezes in the time to write a book or two. Her twisty, sumptuous novel After Mrs Hamilton won a Goldie award, and her first foray into the RomCom genre, That Certain Something, shot to the top of the Amazon LesFic charts and stayed there for quite a while. 

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pride and predThe book that I could re-read ad-infinitum, and would never fail to be captivated by the roller-coaster romance, is Pride and Prejudice. Fiery, intelligent Elizabeth Bennet and rich, unattainable Mr Darcy – classic and difficult to beat. And on the silver screen it’s a romance between two actors I find completely unappealing (so this really says a great deal about the script) and that’s When Harry Met Sally. I will try very hard not to endlessly quote lines from it. Very hard. Really very hard. But the impassioned speech that Harry gives Sally on New Year’s Eve that ends “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” makes me well up every time.

I think I must have a soft spot for romcoms, and Jane Austen did write awfully good ones, and hate-at-first-sight romances.

SilverLiningS250My favourite lesfic romance writer is Diana Simmonds – and funnily enough her latest (Silver Lining) was witty and had that hate-at-first-sight beginning. Diana writes with such flair. There’s never a lazy sentence or mundane line of dialog. She could make the menu of a chip shop entertaining. And she makes writing seem like the easiest thing in the world. God she pisses me off.

Have the above influenced me? Oh undoubtedly, but with my own writing I tend to go for the love-at-first-sight archetype. I do love the heaving passions and emotions that burn as the couple so right for each other are kept apart, especially when one is an older woman.

Which couple or heroine made you tear your hair out, and how would you rewrite their story?

loisThe book would be Monica Nolan’s Lois Lenz Lesbian Secretary – “Her soul was pure. Her desires were sinful. Her typing was impeccable.” It’s a fantastic 50s style pulp romance – a steamy lesbian version and very funny in places. I know Netta was the right girl for Lois. And I know even through Pamela, Paula, all the others that it would only ever be the serious, smart, beautiful-behind-the-glasses Netta. But I really wanted Lois to have the wrong girl. Which reminds me, I still need to read Monica Nolan’s The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories.

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So, do you agree with our authors? Who are your favourite couples and writers and which duo drove round the bend?

News Roundup: Ali Smith, Stella Duffy & Val McDermid hit the airwaves, New Anthologies from R.J. Samuel, Rebecca S. Buck, & Maureen Duffy. Interviews, Reviews, and More!

26 Sep

So, in the week that Scotland decided to vote nay to independence, what have our authors in this most United of Kingdoms been getting up to?

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alismithFirstly, congratulations to Ali Smith, whose novel How To Be Both has been short listed for the Man Booker Prize. You can hear her talking about the novel on this episode of Radio 4’s Open Book, an episode that also features Stella Duffy looking back at twenty years or writing, and discussing her new anthology of short stories, Everything is Moving, Everything is Joined (the blurb is available on our New Releases page.)

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330x235valmcdermidVal McDermid might be a little unhappy with the way the referendum went, but she has also been busy chatting on the airwaves. In this recent interview on Radio 4’s Saturday Live show, she talks about “her passion for football, her musical aspirations and where she finds inspiration for her novels.” If you’re wondering, she’s an avid Raith Rovers fan…

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Amy_Dunne_lgIf you’re anywhere near Nottingham this Sunday, Bold Strokes YA author Amy Dunne will be appearing at the inaugural night of a new women’s only entertainment event, Womyn’s World. Amy will be in the Green Room at the Nottingham Arts Theatre from 6.30 p.m. to talk about her début novel, Secret Lies, future projects, and to take part in a Q&A. The full program can be found at the link, with further events planned for the last Sunday in each month.

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the alleywayThe last few days have seen the publication of new short story anthologies from Rebecca S. Buck and R.J. Samuel. Rebecca’s “prison tales across time” e-book release A Queer Kind of Justice is available from the Bold Strokes website, or Amazon. Meanwhile, R.J. has published The Alleyway and Other Short Stories under her full name, Rejini Samuel.  The collection isn’t LesFic, but we thought you might be interested in hearing about it anyway. This is what R.J had to say about the anthology:

Nervous and excited as I’m going to be publishing this collection of very short stories on Amazon tomorrow. Doing it under my real name as I wrote most of them a few years ago and some of the stories were shortlisted in competitions under my name. They’re also quite a bit darker than my novels. They feature a variety of main characters and no real ‘happy ending’, more like ‘no real ending’…but I hope they leave the reader thinking…

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Killing For Keeps RHB V3 copyKilling for Keeps, the fifth novel in Mari Hannah‘s award-winning Kate Daniels series now has itself a cover. The book is due for publication on December 4th, and its blurb goes like this:

Two brothers from the same criminal family die within hours of each other, five miles apart, one on the edge of a Newcastle industrial estate, the other in a busy A & E department of a local hospital, unseen by the triage team. Both victims have suffered horrific injuries. Who wanted them dead? Will they kill again? Investigating these brutal and bloody killings leads DCI Kate Daniels to break some rules, putting her career as well as her life on the line.

As the body count rises in the worst torture case Northumbria Police has ever seen, the focus of the enquiry switches, first to Glasgow and then to Europe ending in a confrontation with a dangerous offender hell-bent on revenge.

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paper wingsMaureen Duffy‘s new collection of love poems, Paper Wings, has been turned into “wonderful and varied images by the artist Liz Matthews” in a free exhibition which has just opened at Enitharmon Press, 21 Bury Street, Bloomsbury, London. The exhibition is open 10-6, Monday to Saturday, and closes 17 October.

From Maureen’s FB page: There’s also a beautiful (but affordable) artist’s book version of the entire exhibition – and Paper Wings is also available as a DVD, with Maureen reading the poems aloud in the background as the images appear, page by page, on screen.

You can find more information about the exhibition at the above link.

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stilllifeIt’s hard to resist this introduction to L.T. Smith‘s latest blog entry, extolling the virtues of a new audio file she has posted:

Maybe you want to protect your hearing. Maybe you have had enough of screeching Northerners to last you a lifetime – thanks to Coronation Street and/or Emmerdale – and would prefer to skip this small audio clip I have made. The decision is completely yours and the onus is definitely on you.

If that’s tickled your fancy, and you want to listen to L.T. – whose voice has apparently been extra-butched up thanks to a cold – reading a chapter from her latest novel, Still Life, then head here to her blog, where you’ll find the YouTube link.

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catherine hallCatherine Hall has been answering 10 lovely, varied questions over at the Alma Books website. If you want to know what three books she’d save from a house fire, or which period of history she’d most liked to have live through, then click the link.

Catherine’s new novel, The Repercussions has also been reviewed over at the Elysion website:

She manages to evoke the horror and confusion of World War One and twin it with current day experience, laying bare the personal cost of conflict. In amongst the often harrowing settings, the book blossoms hope through its tales of love and longing which expertly manage to keep humanity as the core theme and lend a softness and compassion to the whole book.

…It’s a lovely and touching novel; not always comfortable reading, but somehow sad and optimistic at the same time – a perfect read for an autumnal night.

You can read the full text of the review here.

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Writer-Sarah-Waters-006Finally this week, I know we’ve had a lot of Sarah Waters stuff to highlight of late, but this interview with the Salon website is probably one of the best that’s come out of her publicity tour for The Paying Guests. It’s a fun, in-depth, and candid chat with Laura Miller, who obviously knows Waters’ novels backwards:

There’s a maturity in being able to write novels about lesbian relationships and not feeling obliged to depict them as this perfect bond that society is unjustly crushing.

I’m also conscious that being able to write about lesbians is a luxury of living in my own society, one that’s fairly relaxed about gay lives. Plenty of other parts of the world wouldn’t have that luxury. I remember when “The Night Watch” was published in Russia, they sent me a review and translated it for me and it said something like, “This novel gives us a fascinating glimpse of the tragic lives of these poor …”

“These poor, poor, tragic lesbians!”

Go read it at the link.

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And that brings us to the end of another romp through the LesFic news. Have a splendid weekend!

Guest Blog: Catherine Hall on The Repercussions

19 Sep

catherine hallToday’s guest post is from Catherine Hall, an author who was born in the Lake District and worked in documentary film production and international peacebuilding before publishing her first novel, Days of Grace, in 2009. She was chosen as one of Waterstones’ New Voices that year and as an Amazon Rising Star. Her next novel, The Proof of Love, won the Green Carnation Prize 2011 and a Fiction Uncovered Award.

We invited Catherine to write a guest blog about her latest book, The Repercussions - newly released this month in paperback and on Kindle – and we were rather delighted when she said yes…

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Hi there, it’s so nice to be here on UK Lesfic and have the chance to tell you a bit about my new novel, The Repercussions.

the repercussionsThere are two main stories in the book, intertwined in various ways. My main character – or one of them – is Jo, who’s a war photographer who’s just returned from Afghanistan and has moved into the Brighton flat that she’s inherited from her great-aunt. She’s in a bad way because of things that happened in Afghanistan, and other, more complicated reasons, and hopes to hide out for a while and sort herself out. Jo finds a diary in the flat that belonged to a woman called Elizabeth who nursed Indian soldiers at the Brighton Pavilion in the first world war. Reading this diary forces her to come to terms with things that happened in Afghanistan but also her relationship with her ex girlfriend Susie – the book is written in the form of a long confession to her. So, having said there’s two stories, there’s actually four: what happened to Jo in Afghanistan, what’s happening to Jo now, what happened with Susie, and what happened to Elizabeth in 1915.

Jo’s a tricky character. I think anyone who spends most of the their life hopping from conflict to conflict, seeing more wars than most soldiers, is bound to be affected by it. And that was what I really wanted to explore in the book – the impact of her work on her and on her relationship with Susie, the girlfriend who was left at home while she went to some of the most dangerous places on earth. Susie was always desperate to have a baby – a thought that terrified Jo and led to their break-up. I started to write the book when my first child was six months old and finished it two years later, a week before the second one was born, and so the impact of children on careers and relationships was very much on my mind.

days_of_grace_original_coverMy first book, Days of Grace, was about an old woman haunted by what happened when she was evacuated as a young girl to a vicarage in Kent during the first world war, and fell in love with the vicar’s daughter. She was never able to really express her sexuality, and that repression ruined her life. In this book, I didn’t want Jo’s sexuality to be the main point – or at least not something that bothered her. I think that’s something that’s changed in lesbian fiction over the last ten years or so. Not everything has to be a coming out story – we can write about lesbian lives and loves in a broader context – and they can even have happy endings!

proof_of_love-original-cover1I recently did an event at Gay’s the Word bookshop in London and spoke about how I first went into the shop aged 16 or so, when I’d sneaked away from a school trip. Shaking at the thought of being in a gay bookshop, I dared to buy a copy of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. It was a great feeling to be there, 25 years later, with my own book, and talking to a room full of people who wanted to know about it. It’s still not easy to persuade publishers to buy books on gay themes – they’re so cautious about finding audiences – but I think the audience is definitely there. I also think that lesbians are still slightly invisible in mainstream culture but the more we write about ourselves the more we’ll be seen and hopefully understood.

That all sounds very serious! I hope at the end, I’ve written a story that people will want to read and be entertained and hopefully moved by. I guess that’s what any writer ultimately wants.

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Cheers very much, Catherine!

To find out more about Catherine and her novels head to her homepage, and the full blurb for The Repercussions is up on our New Releases page.

 

 

News Roundup: Landmark Scottish LGBT Anthology, New Author Chrissie McDill, Fingersmith gets a Korean Makeover, UK Authors on Tour, & More!

16 Sep

With only two days to go before Scotland decides on its independence, you may well be wondering what will happen to UK LesFic should the vote go with the yes camp (alternatively, you may be wondering what the hell I’m talking about, in which case, turn on your telly!) The answer – from my POV at least, as Tig’s on holiday and we’ve not discussed it – is absolutely nothing. We like our Scottish authors, they’re funny and supportive of the site, and I think we’ll let them stick around. Plus, I’m far too lazy to go and edit the author listing. Whatever happens to the UK, best of luck to us all, eh?

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OutThereAs if to prove a point, we’re sticking with Scotland for our first three news items this week…

Keren McGill at Freight Books has been in touch about their new Scottish LGBT anthology, Out There, an important landmark in Scottish literature and LGBT writing worldwide.

In the year that Scotland votes on independence from the rest of the UK, Freight Books brings a new and definitive anthology of prose writing and poetry from Scotland’s leading and emerging LGBT writers. It will be edited by Zoë Strachan and includes a stellar list of contributors; Ali Smith, Louise Welsh, Kerry Hudson, Jackie Kay, Ronald Frame, Toni Davidson, Val McDermid, Damian Barr and UK poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy to name but a few.

Following Glasgow’s ‘Gay Games’ and the now famous Glasgow Kiss, this is the first anthology of its kind in over twelve years. Out There is the perfect barometer of just how far Scottish LGBT writing has come in that time. The writing is diverse, sometimes hilarious, sometimes polemical, often surprising and deeply moving, but always suffused with energy, wit and empathy.

‘It will pose key questions, not just about LGBT writing in Scotland today, but also about the social and sexual landscape of our nation as a whole.’ LGBT History Month

The anthology is available to purchase now, and you can see photographs from a preview event at Glasgow’s Pride House at this link.

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no way to liveThe newest author to our listings is Chrissie McDill, who describes herself as “an ageing writer for the more mature lesbian”. She has lived in London and Surrey, where she beat the feminist drum to become one of the first women branch managers of a national building society in the early 80’s. She left in 1988 to start her own women’s taxi business, which has provided her with a wealth of ideas for her stories. Since retiring and moving back to her native Scotland, she has published No Way to Live, a psychological thriller about a woman haunted by her past and terrified of her future. Chrissie lives with her partner and two bonkers but loveable Cairn terriers in South Lanarkshire and can be contacted on Facebook. For more information on Chrissie, pay her website a visit, and look out for her new novel in the next couple of months.

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hp munroTo round up our north of the border news, H.P. Munro is the latest author to be profiled over at Planet of the Books. These short, snappy interviews are good fun, and this one is no exception:

Where do you write? And what do you need around you? 

To begin with I wrote while travelling for work, so it was on planes and train and in airports and hotels. Now I tend to write at home in whatever room takes my fancy or where the comfy seats are. I recently got some friendly abuse from some fellow writers from posting photos of me writing at the poolside while on holiday in Thailand, which was easily the nicest place I’ve even written.

To read the full interview, head here.

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the murder wallCongratulations this week to Mari Hannah who has made the longlist for the CWA Dagger in the Library award. The award honours an author’s whole body of work, rather than a single title, and the longlist was voted for by readers and librarians. The shortlist will be announced on November 3rd, with the winner revealed in a ceremony at the end of that month. To see all the authors on the longlist, hit the link.

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Andrea Bramhall has been chatting to the good ladies at the Cocktail Hour podcast for one of their Conversation at the Bar features. You can download or listen to the interview at this link. Sadly, said link contains no photographic evidence of Cheri’s amazing bed head.

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Writer-Sarah-Waters-006With a few UK authors currently embarking on country-wide tours, it was getting a little complicated to keep up with the wheres and whens. To try to remedy this, I’ve just updated the Events page with links to the listings of all forthcoming UK appearances by Nicola Griffith, Catherine Hall (we’ll have more for you from Catherine on Friday!), and Sarah Waters. Sarah has recently added a Manchester date to her listings, which is good news for everyone in that area who’s not working a bloody night shift that night (12th October.) Tickets for lucky, not at work northerners can be purchased here.

Meanwhile, the incomparable AfterEllen website has revealed that a big screen version of Fingersmith is on the way, only this version will transplant the story to Korea. Casting for Agashi (English title still to be decided) will take place this month, with production getting under way early next year. Click here to read the full piece.

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stilllifeFinally, if you’re between books and wondering what to read next, the Lesbian Reading Room has a new review of L.T. Smith‘s latest release Still Life: 

The writing is sharp and witty. Very British humour and language so you Americans need to be prepared. L.T.’s style is down to earth, direct and realistic. When Brits are full of angst you really know it. The writing flows and the story weaves around us, playing on all the stupid mind games we all go through with often hilarious results. Of course that’s easy to say as a reader, much harder when it is your heart on the line.

Still need more? Okay, then, you can read the full write-up at this link.

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Right, I’m off to bulk-buy Haggis, Irn Bru and shortbread before they become rare foreign delicacies.

GOOD LUCK Scotland whatever you decide :-)

Haggis-creature

A rare sighting of the Haggis in the wild.

 

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