Tag Archives: Manda Scott

All’s Well That Ends Well…

27 May

For the past four years, Tig and I have had a blast creating this blog and this community of readers and UK authors. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege, and we owe a lot to the authors who’ve contributed, offered freebies, written blogs, and kept us up to date with their news and releases. To finish things off with a bang rather than a whimper, we corralled a few folks to answer one simple question:

What are your hopes for the future of lesbian fiction?

This is what they had to say…

Manda Scott

My hope for the future of lesbian fiction is that it remains vibrant, inspiring and above all, literate – that we continue to write stories that are not confined to the ghetto, but that spread to the wider world. At this time of global chaos, with the collapse of eco-systems and the 6th extinction happening all around us, and yet, with LGBTQ rights under threat in ways we thought were long gone, we need a resilient, informed, emotionally intelligent response that helps people to understand at a core level that we have more in common than that which divides us. The best of lesbian fiction has always offered that. My hope is that it will continue to do so.

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Manda Scott’s novels have been short listed for an Orange Prize, nominated for an Edgar Award and translated into over twenty languages. She was a long term columnist for the Glasgow Herald, is a reviewer for the Independent and has contributed to the Telegraph, Times, Daily Express and BBC History Magazine. She has appeared on Time Team as an expert on the Boudican era and contributed to Radios 4 & 5. Her most recent release is Into The Fire, a dual timeline mystery set in 2014 and 1429.

VG Lee

VGLeeOutside of the lesbian book-reading community, I feel that lesbian fiction – with a few notable exceptions – isn’t highly regarded.  For a change to take place, our authors may need to widen the scope of their work. I’ve said this before, but the number of respected mainstream lesbian authors can be counted on the fingers of our hands and this list hasn’t altered very much in years! I’m glad that there are many younger authors coming up, some I very much admire, so I do believe that the situation is going to get better.

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VG Lee is the critically acclaimed author of five novels: The Comedienne, The Woman in Beige, Diary of a Provincial Lesbian, Always you, Edina, and her latest release Mr Oliver’s Object of Desire. In 2012 VG Lee was nominated for a Stonewall Award for writing and in 2014 she won The Ultimate Planet award for Best Established Author. In her sixtieth year she decided to become a stand-up comedian and is now a regular performer at Laughing Cows comedy nights in London and the Midlands.

Jody Klaire

I’m really blessed that UK Lesfic was around when I started publishing books. Being an author is a wonderful career but it’s a really tough to establish yourself in a busy marketplace and having you guys supporting and cheering made a real difference. It’s been fantastic from my point of view to watch your own efforts, hard work and talent get more and more recognition. I’ve been cheering you guys too.

I think it’s important that, like a wonderful friend wanted, the bar is raised and continues to be raised. If we are respected for the polished prose, story-telling ability and high-quality of our work then our authors will be in a better position to reach, entertain and promote understanding in readers. I’d like to see more family friendly fiction with an emphasis on showing a positive, uplifting message that you can be sassy and classy. It’s important that message is clear. Self-respect is something I feel passionate about. I’d like any reader to be able to pick up my work and feel that they are unique and deserve respect whoever they are. The community is blessed with a perspective of what intolerance feels like and why it’s all that more important that to understand the right to be happy and loved should be universal.

Men’s strengths are often displayed in fiction but everyone seems to miss that women are incredible. We step up when needed; we run homes, work long hours, raise children (or furries,) seek to help others, feel compassion for others, take on so many different roles at once yet, usually, without complaint or hesitation. No, we roll up our sleeves and get on with making a difference every day. I try very hard to show that strength in my characters. I try to show just how beautiful we are as human beings inside and out. I hope it shows: Sassy but classy, intelligent and kind, compassionate yet strong and we should demand high-quality fiction that gives us the respect we deserve.

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Jody has been everything from a serving police officer, to recording artist/composer and musician until finding her home in writing. She lives in sunny South Wales in the UK with a ‘lively’ golden retriever called Fergus and other furry friends. She has four books released in the Above and Beyond series, and two in the Renovating Hearts series. You can find out more about her and her novels here at her blog.

Jen Silver

I had a dream…and awoke to find I was as famous as Sarah Waters…

A few months before my first novel was published, I attended a residential writing course and on the first evening all the participants were asked to give a brief description of what they were working on. I suspected I was the only ‘gay in the room’. So, when it came to my turn, I told them that I’d had a novel accepted for publication and it was a lesbian romance. Someone piped up, “Oh, like Sarah Waters.”

This was obviously the only lesbian author they’d ever heard of and I could only nod and say, “yes, like Sarah Waters”. Well, unless any of my books get made into TV series or films, I’m not likely to become that well known. But this is what came to mind when I thought about answering this question – what are your hopes for the future of lesbian fiction?

I hope that it will continue to flourish and grow. We need a strong presence—visibility—in the world, now as much as in earlier times. As both a writer and a reader, I want to create and read stories about lesbians who come across as real people leading normal lives, free to love who they want…not portrayed as monsters to either be hidden away or destroyed.

Later on, at the course I mentioned above, one young woman asked why I referred to my books as ‘lesbian romance’. Why didn’t I just describe them as ‘romance’? I don’t know what answer I gave her, but thinking about it now, my answer would be that a separate genre is necessary so that we can find books about ourselves.

Maybe, in time, that will change too.  A time when Sarah Waters won’t be the only name that defines lesbian fiction. A time when we no longer need a neatly labelled niche to share our stories with the world.

That is my hope.

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Jen lives near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire with her long-term partner whom she married in December 2014. She has always enjoyed reading an eclectic range of genres including sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction and lesbian fiction. As well as reading and writing, other activities include golf, archery, and taking part in archaeological digs. Jen’s latest novel, Christmas at Winterbourne, was published by Affinity in October 2016.

Anna Larner

As I wrote this blog I began to think about what it means to have hope, after all hope is one of the most important strengths an individual can possess. It takes tremendous tenacity, resolve, vision, belief, and courage to hope for something. It is at the heart of the human spirit. Without hope very little can be achieved.

Have you noticed that hopeful people are rarely naive fools, but individuals who have spotted the possibility of something – they have seen what others blinded by scepticism may have missed. The hopeful see the potential in things.

Hope, like optimism, is infectious. A hope which is shared by others has energy to it and gathers a momentum which builds and grows to the point where it is unstoppable.

So with this in mind here are my hopes – I hope that we will continue to promote and carve out the physical and emotional space we deserve for the literature we cherish. I hope that we will remember the writers who went before us, who bravely put into words what many could not speak. And I hope that we will have the same self-belief and courage as them as we continue to imagine characters and narratives that console, captivate and inspire.

The only limit for the future of lesbian fiction is our ability to have hope for it.

I know that what we hope for together, as writers and readers, we can and will achieve.

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Anna has a degree in English Literature and Master’s degrees in The Word and Visual Imagination, and Museum Studies. She has written and curated a permanent exhibition of LGBT voices and memorabilia, based at Leicester’s LGBT Centre, one of the first permanent exhibitions in the UK. As a former member of the Steering Committee for the Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland LGBT History Project, Anna is passionate about preserving LGBT history and ensuring that LGBT voices are heard. Anna’s debut novel, Highland Fling, was published by Bold Strokes Books in April, 2017.

Clare Lydon

What are your hopes for the future of lesbian fiction?

Crikey, no biggie then.  I’d say the future for lesbian fiction looks bright – there’s never been a better time for lesbian fiction than now. More choice, more authors, more books, more sub-genres – you name it, it’s here.

But what I’d like to see is more crossover into the mainstream and more coverage in mainstream media. I already know it’s not just lesbians who read my books – they’re enjoyed by a cross-section of people representing all flavours of the sexuality and gender spectrums, which is great.

But I’m greedy – I want lesbian fiction to have a positive impact on more lives around the globe, to see our lives reflected back not just to us, but to millions more. And as the world gets more connected every day, the growth potential is there.Lesbian fiction to the masses! Hurrah!

Finally, in the romance and crimes genres especially, we have some cracking stories just begging to be made into films or TV. So my ultimate hope would be to see these stories hit some kind of screen, large or small, and watch their reach widen even further. Why not Cari’s Dark Peak series or my London Romance series on Netflix? Why not Tig’s Poppy Jenkins as a movie? I’d be watching, and I wouldn’t be the only one.

Thanks to you two for shining a light on UK lesfic over the past few years and for taking part in the rise of lesfic. When I first started writing, your site was invaluable, and you’ve been a constant support to countless writers over the past three years. We all owe you both a debt of gratitude.

I’m going now before I start sobbing ;0)

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Clare is a London-based writer of contemporary lesbian romance. She’s a No.1 best-seller on lesbian fiction charts around the globe with five full-length novels to her name, as well as writing the All I Want series, which concluded with its sixth instalment, All I Want Forever in January, 2017. Clare is a lively and enthusiastic member of the UK Lesfic community and regularly hosts the Lesbian Book Club podcast over on the Lesbian Lounge.

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And the final words go to…

Cari Hunter

I still remember how exciting it was to go into Gay’s The Word as a fledgling, still in the closet, wet-behind-the-ears lesbian, and discover shelf upon shelf of lesbian fiction. My girlfriend (now wife!) and I bought a copy of Sarah Dreher’s Stoner McTavish and dashed back a few days later to buy every other book in the series.

Almost twenty years later, fledgling lesbians are spoiled for choice in terms of lesbian fiction. As mainstream authors still have a tendency to sideline or closet their LGBTQ characters, the small presses and the indie authors have stepped in to fill the void, and they’re doing it in a considerable amount of style, climbing the bestseller charts, and proving that UK lesbian and bisexual authors are writing and that, more to the point, they’re being read.

My hopes for the future of lesbian fiction, then? That our community continues to thrive and to grow, and that the mainstream publishers and the mainstream media eventually sit up and recognise that we’re here and that we’re worth supporting. That UK authors continue to set their books within their own regions, and write in their own dialect, chucking in slang and foodstuffs that make people scratch their heads and hop over to Google. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, I hope authors continue to write and readers continue to read, because that will ensure that lesbian fiction continues to exist.

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Cari Hunter lives in the northwest of England with her wife, their cat, and a pond full of frogs. She works full-time as a paramedic and dreams up stories in her spare time. Although she doesn’t like to boast, she will admit that she makes a very fine Bakewell Tart.

Cari has just finished a new crime series based in the Peak District. The first book – No Good Reason – won the 2015 Best Lesbian Thriller/Mystery Rainbow Award, and its sequel Cold to the Touch won a Goldie and a Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Thriller/Mystery. The third book in the series – A Quiet Death – was published in January 2017.

Clare Ashton

Most of all I hope people keep writing, whether it be that detective of iron integrity or the hapless heroine of the romcom who wakes up in the armpit of the wrong woman. Comfort reads that delight even after the tenth reading are magic and a nugget of happiness for many.

A broad range of literature is essential for expanding your horizons and developing empathy towards others but finding yourself represented, validated and worthy of a happy ending is precious. So please, keep writing!

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Clare Ashton lives in the Midlands with her partner and two lovely distracting kids. She loves a moody atmospheric novel but she’s a big softie inside and can’t resist writing romcoms. Her latest award-winning romance is Poppy Jenkins.

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So for one last time: that’s all folks, from Cari and Tig.

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A Frolicking and Festive Q&A

18 Dec

We close out this year with our annual romp beneath the mistletoe with some of our most popular UK LesFic authors, who very kindly took the time to discuss their reading highlights of the year, the books they’re most looking forward to in 2016, and their traditional festive indulgences…

 

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Clare Lydon

Clare-Lydon-LV-cropClare had a busy old year in 2015. Not content with releasing two novels (This London Love, and the festive frolic, All I Want for Christmas), she continued to hosting her popular Lesbian Book Club over on the Lesbian Lounge, and appeared at LFest. Keep up to date with Clare, here at her blog.

– What was your favourite read of 2015 and why?

all the littleI read quite a few books in 2015, but two stuck in my head. The first was G Benson’s All The Little Moments. It’s a debut novel about a family dealing with grief and it had me in floods of tears – I mean, *sobbing*. But as well as being a family drama that put me through the wringer, there was romance, no shortage of humour and two gorgeous little kids running around the novel too. The characters stayed with me and continue to pop into my head months after reading it.
My second choice is a book written in 1969 but only read by me this year. It’s called Patience And Sarah by Isabel Miller and it’s the story of a love affair between two women in the 19th century and is loosely based on a true story. It’s poetic, sublime, romantic and made me want to crawl inside the pages and just lie there, soaking it up. I loved every delicious word and plan on reading it again soon. If you haven’t read it yet, do it!

– What’s top of your reading wish list for next year?

at the waters edgeI’ve interviewed loads of fab authors on my Lesbian Book Club podcast and quite a few have new books coming out next year. I’m particularly looking forward to new novels from British authors Angela Peach and HP Munro – we’ve been waiting a while, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it! Also, Harper Bliss is planning on producing something every month, so she’s going to be interesting to keep an eye on – I really liked her At The Water’s Edge. It’s going to be a stellar year I’m sure!

– What’s your favourite seasonal traditional or indulgence?

I love Christmas and all its traditions. I love the invisible deadline whereby you have to see all your friends beforehand, so end up having dinner out for 20 days straight (it’s already started for me). I love autumnal weather. I never get bored of hearing Wham!, Mariah, The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl. I love The Holiday, Elf, The Muppets Christmas Carol. I love buying presents, sending cards, inhaling tins of Quality Street and glugging mulled wine. But most of all, I love the excitement and anticipation of Christmas. The build-up is pure, blissful magic.
The Boxing Day hangover, though? Not so good.

HP Munro 

hp munroHP lives in Edinburgh with her wife and a wauzer named Boo. Her début novel Silver Wings was shortlisted for the Golden Crown Literary Society Historical Fiction award in 2014, her second novel Grace Falls was published in Feb 2014, swiftly followed in late May by novel number three, Stars Collide. 

– What was your favourite read of 2015 and why?

the red filesjpgIt’s been a good year for reading, as most of my favourite authors all published this year (some of them twice!) but I’m going to go with one that I sort of stumbled across. The Red Files by Lee Winter, had everything that I wanted and more. Action, suspense, and political drama. Not to mention my absolute favourite plotline of a love story -two protagonists who start out from a point of dislike who are thrown together to unravel a bit of a mystery.

– What’s top of your reading wish list for next year?

In the interests of my own sanity I’d love to have a book out there next year, aside from that – non lesfic I’m impatiently waiting for Christopher Brookmyre’s new book in January and lesfic wise I’ll settle for all my favourite authors publishing again….twice!

What’s your favourite seasonal traditional or indulgence?

My favourite thing about Christmas is my wife’s face when I inevitably select the most humungous tree (last years was over 12ft) When we get it home I put on the festive music, crack open a bottle of bubbly and dress up in my Santa suit to decorate the house.

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Karen Campbell 

karencampbell2Karen has just published her fourth novel The Strange Adventures of Mavis Street, and won the Ultimate Planet (New) Author of the Year Award in 2014. Karen is Scottish, grumpy in the morning, supports Arsenal and Rangers, and drinks lots of Irn Bru. She is partial to a tattie scone and square sausage when she goes home. She likes music to be played loudly and is not keen on spiders. At all.

– What was your favourite read of 2015 and why?

all my friendsI don’t read lesfic, although I did read The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, which was good once I got past the 200 page mark. I found it slow to begin but she writes beautifully so I didn’t mind. My favourite book I read this year was called All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman.

– What’s top of your reading wish list for next year?

I am getting a Jeanette Winterson book for Christmas called The Gap of Time. It is a reworking of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. I love Jeanette, she is my favourite
author in the whole wide world.

– What’s your favourite seasonal traditional or indulgence?

I don’t have any. I am the only Scottish person I know who doesn’t get drunk at Hogmanay. I participate in Christmas for other people, I don’t care one way or the other. It’s nice to see my nephews happy but other than that, I think the message has been lost. We need to be kind and thoughtful all year.

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Jenny Frame

jenny frameJenny hails from the small town of Motherwell in Scotland, where she lives with her partner, Lou, and their well loved and very spoiled dog. She made her lesfic début in 2015 with A Royal Romance, and her second novel Heart of the Pack is due to be published in May, 2016.

– What was your favourite read of 2015 and why?

PLayinginshadowI’m way, way, behind on my 2015 reading list, but of the ones I’ve gotten through I enjoyed, Playing In Shadow by Lesley Davis, and Just Three Words by Melissa Brayden, and The Romance Vote by Ali ValiPlaying In Shadow I really enjoyed because it had lots of elements I really enjoy, including video games references and gothic rock. Just Three Words is a sweet book. So utterly romantic that it makes you swoon. The Romance Vote was really enjoyable to read. I knew next to nothing about the American political system, and I came away from the book with a little bit more of an insight into it. The second thing thing that made it so great was the deliciously handsome butch character, which you can always be sure to find in a Ali Vali book.

prescription for loveWhat’s top of your reading wish list for next year?

I’m hoping to catch up on my reading list over Christmas and the New Year, and first on the list is, Ready or Not by Melissa Brayden, and Radclyffe‘s Prescription For Love.

What’s your favourite seasonal traditional or indulgence?

Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Yum yum!

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Andrea Bramhall

BSB-AndreaBramhallLgAndrea is a Stockport native who now runs a campsite in Deepdale, and is planning a move to the Lake District in the not too distant. Somehow she finds time to write novels and scuba dive! Her second novel, Clean Slate, scooped the 2014 Lambda Literary award for best lesbian romance. Her sixth novel, Collide-O-Scope is due to be published by Ylva in 2016.

– What was your favourite read of 2015 and why?

The Red Files, by Lee Winter. Funny, good mystery, great characters, and some pretty hot love scenes. Well worth a read.

What’s top of your reading wish list for next year?

the fifthTop of my reading list for next year – hmmm, tricky. There are so many books on my “to read pile” right now. Building a house is not conducive to keeping up to date with new releases. But I’m really looking forward to Michelle Grubb‘s upcoming release The Fifth Gospel. I’ve really enjoyed Michelle’s previous two books, so I’m excited about this next one.

– What’s top of your reading wish list for next year?

Fave seasonal piece – I don’t really have a fab seasonal book. I like to spend time with my family and friends so I spend more time away from books at this time of year than any other. We do have a sort of tradition though. On Christmas Eve my partner and I watch Christmas movies…lots of them, but A Christmas Carol is always one of them. Used to be the old black and white one, but we’ve modernised. Patrick Stewart as Scrooge works best now.

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Manda Scott

manda-scottManda Scott’s first novels were a series of critically acclaimed crime stories featuring lesbian detective Kellen Stewart, and her debut Hen’s Teeth was short-listed for the Orange Prize. More recently she has been better known for her best-selling historical novels – the Boudica Series and then the Rome spy thrillers set in the same era. Into the Fire published in 2015 is a historical thriller linking arson attacks in modern-day France with the story of Joan of Arc.

spygames2My favourite read is always the most recent – which is Spy Games by Adam Brookes. It’s not remotely lesbian, but it’s an exceedingly good spy thriller, one of the best I’ve ever read.  This man really is the new Le Carré.

Of the rest, Tuesday Falling was excellent (by S Williams) and I always love the work of Andrew Taylor: his most recent A Silent Boy is exceptional. Non-fiction would have to be This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein and in the light of the Paris climate talks, this has to be required reading for everyone, along with The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. If you haven’t read both, they’re essential.

– What’s top of your reading wish list for next year?

The new Neil Gaiman, whatever that is. The new Andrew Taylor, whatever that is. The new Imogen Robertson

– What’s your favourite seasonal traditional or indulgence?

Christmas indulgence… I give myself a week of reading between the solstice and the end of the month – which is sheer, unencumbered indulgence and gets me through the seasonal hostilities. I’m really, really looking forward to this.

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VG Lee

VGLeeVG Lee is a fond favourite of many a lesbian fiction reader. Her first novel Diary of a Provincial Lesbian was a treasure back in the days when lesbian fiction was thin on the ground. And now in more plentiful times, her work
stands out for its quality, comedy and poignancy. Sarah Waters described her most recent book, Always You Edina, as “A real treat of a novel”. As a judge of the Polari First Book Prize, VG samples a good selection of queer fiction and her recommendations are always worth heeding.

carol– What was your favourite read of 2015 and why?

I re-read Carol by Patricia Highsmith as the film was due out. I’d feared that it might sound dated but quite the contrary. It’s a great, exquisitely written book – the characters aren’t particularly likeable but that seems very in keeping with much of the fiction today. Haven’t seen the film yet but the book would make a great Christmas present.

– Which novel is top of your wish list for next year?

DeliriumDelirium, the Rimbaud Delusion by Barbara Scott Emmett. Now I’m not sure if this is lesfic as I’ve only heard a short section from it when the author, Barbara Scott Emmett was chosen from the Polari Workshop in Newcastle to read at the evening event. It did sound as if there is at least a lesbian element in it. The piece the author chose to read out captured the entire audience and I’ve now ordered the novel on Amazon.

– What’s your favourite seasonal traditional or indulgence?

I may have mentioned this before but I spend the whole of Boxing Day in bed with Christmas present books and cheese and pickled onion sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Pickled onions courtesy of author Rose Collis!

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Kiki Archer

Kiki-264After a year out screenplay writing, the original lesbian chicklit favourite came back this year with a scorcher of a novel. Too Late I Love You smashed the lesbian fiction charts and had a foray into the contemporary fiction charts too. Rumour has it that a glitzy novel is on its way for next year.

– What was your favourite read of 2015 and why?

justthreewordsMelissa Brayden‘s Just Three Words. It’s the second in the Soho Loft Series and focuses on Hunter and Sam, two friends, work colleagues and house mates who risk everything when desire takes hold. I loved the book because it portrayed a growing shift of feelings between friends. Come on, we’ve all been there – that friend who’s a friend, until they’re not.

– Which novel is top of your wish list for next year?

gettingbackI have so many I need to catch up on, but top of the list is Getting Back by Cindy Rizzo. Cindy excels when writing strong and powerful women and I love the idea of a novel focused on the publishing industry and changes within it.

– What’s your favourite seasonal traditional or indulgence?

Christmas is my favourite time of year. The tree is always up by December 1st, the house is swamped in festive lights and carols are played on repeat. As for indulgence it has to be tree chocolates. It’s the naughtiness of announcing to the children they cannot be pinched without permission… and the minute they’re in bed that’s exactly what I do. No one in the family knows I’ve replaced the whole batch three times already.

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rainbow treeA massive thank you to each of our participating authors – we hope they’ve given you plenty of ideas for stocking fillers! All that remains for Tig and I to do is wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a peaceful 2016. We’ll be back with more news, guest blogs, and features in January.

News Roundup: awards, events, new books, freebies and more!

15 Dec

It’s time for the last post of 2015!

Apart from the next post that is, which is our fabulous best of 2015 lesfic as chosen by several wonderful UK lesfic authors. But apart from that, here’s the last post of the year!

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no good reasonAnd firstly massive congratulations to that Cari Hunter whose No Good Reason has made off with the Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Mystery/Thriller. The awards organiser Elisa Rolle was tickled to make out the award certificate: “Cari Hunter has been awarded… for No Good Reason”. But actually there were very good reasons and the book was judged to be “Brilliant” and “A fabulous mystery”. More details and fine words about the book here.

Cold to the TouchAnd if you’ve had the good sense to have read No Good Reason already, you are in luck because book two of The Dark Peak series, Cold to the Touch, is now available on Amazon.

The Velvet Lounger at the Lesbian Reading Room has been quick off the mark and reviewed Book 2 already:

Cari Hunter writes decidedly good stories. She combines excellent plot lines, which twist and turn, with crime drama and just the right amount of thriller to keep us on the edge of our seats. Each book feels distinctive, enjoyably new and refreshingly different to standard crime dramas. Cold to the Touch is a sequel to the excellent No Good Reason, and fans of Sanne and Meg will love where she takes them this time. Cold to the Touch is more than strong enough to stand alone, but why miss an excellent series?

blindtrustYou can read the spoiler-free review here.

Congratulations also to Jody Klaire whose Blind Trust was runner up in the Rainbow Awards in the Best Lesbian Mystery/Thriller category. Jody is on Book Three of the Above and Beyond series and you can get a sneak peek at Untrained Eye on her website.

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Speaking of awards, The Ultimate Planet Awards are now open for voting. The awards were created to recognise, thank and promote the work of grass-roots event organisers and community businesses who improve the lesbian, bi and queer scene.

ultimateplanetThere are three categories related to lesfic: Independent Author with nominees Dawn Carter, Karen Campbell, Kiki Archer and Sally Edwards. Publishing House Author with LT Smith, Sarah Waters and VG Lee. And LBQ Book nominees Diary of a Broken Heart by Karen Campbell, Murder by Proxy by Dawn Carter, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters and Too Late I Love You by Kiki Archer. Good luck to all the nominees and get voting here.

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AllIWantForChristmas-Clare-LydonOn to reviews, and The Lesbian Review has been busy. First up is Clare Lydon‘s All I Want for Christmas. The review site says:

“All I Want For Christmas by Clare Lydon is a must-read Christmas novel. It will fill you with holiday cheer and make your heart sparkle with twinkly lights.

It is the story of Tori who, exactly a month before Christmas, decides that all she wants for Christmas is someone to love. This ensues in a delightful romantic romp through bad dates, missed opportunities and long lost loves returning to her life.”

You can read the full review here and if you fancy buying a signed copy for Christmas then scuttle over here before last post.

starting overJen Silver‘s Starting Over is also reviewed:

The book starts off with one of the most awkward and hilarious visits that I have ever read… This is a gentle read that explores the intricacies of a relationship and what it means to different people. It’s an awesome read for people who like happy endings and for those who like to take a peek into other people’s lives.

Read the full review here.

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A bit of blogging and chatting now.

catherine hallIt’s good to hear that Catherine Hall, author of The Repercussions, is working on a new novel. She did a rare blog recently about getting back in the saddle and her writing routine:

I’ve been accused before of obsession, of being compulsive about order, my habits, my routines, and I think there’s probably some truth in it. But to get to the marathon end of a novel, a certain amount of obsession is required. You have to protect your time to write it from all the other people and things that make their demands. You have to really care about this thing that you’re creating, enough to keep going for as long as if takes, going back to it day after day, facing your own imperfections, your lack of talent, nitpicking over words, checking details, historical fact. It’s horrible, it’s exhausting, it’s fantastic.

You can read the full piece here.

Cari HMeanwhile, Cari Hunter has been ruminating about why she writes what she writes. Why crime and why lesfic?

When I put pen to paper at the start of No Good Reason, I didn’t really consider my motives. Crime has long been a favourite genre of mine, and I had thoroughly enjoyed getting my teeth stuck into the police procedural aspects of my third novel Tumbledown, so it seemed like a natural step to try my hand at writing a fully fledged crime novel. I also craved the opportunity to write a series, and a format where a fresh case could be investigated by recurring protagonists fitted that bill nicely.

Read on here.

jenny frameAnd Jenny Frame, author of A Royal Romance, was interviewed over on Lynn Lawler’s site. Jenny talks about why she started writing, her background and her inspiration behind A Royal Romance. There’s also a sneak preview of her forthcoming book Heart of the Pack – A Wolfgang County Novel.

You can read the full piece here.

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HopeHeartWinterRebecca Buck has a new short story set in the roaring twenties and, at the moment, it is free on the Bold Strokes Website! Here’s the blurb.

In 1927, Evadne Burns invites her closest school friends to join her for a weekend reunion at her grand home, Winter Manor. The passing of time and the dark shadow of the First World War has shaped them all as women, yet their friendships remain strong. The tragedy of the era has only made them more determined to live their lives to the full.

Evadne is delighted to see Clara and Courtney again, two women dedicated to each other since they were schoolgirls and still unable to keeps their hands off each other, even in view of Winter’s servants. There is the more conservative Madge, to remind them of the life they were expected to lead. But most of all, Evadne is pleased to see Edith Richardson, with whom she shared one precious night but left a lasting connection. With Edith, she chooses to share a secret that will affect the rest of their lives, together or apart.

Rebecca’s forthcoming novel, Fragile Wings, set in the same era is also available for pre-order on the site. And she also blogs about the Great War over on the Bold Strokes Author Blog site.

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wheniknewyouKe Payne has a release date for her next novel, When I Knew You. It’s her second adult romance (after Once The Clouds Have Gone). It’s just been through its final edit stage and will be published by Bold Strokes in March. Here’s the blurb:

When Ash Wells and Nat Braithwaite are thrown together after seventeen years apart, old resentments and passions are rekindled. The days of their heady teenage relationship are long gone – or are they? As they put aside their differences to honour the memory of a friend, Ash and Nat learn that sometimes, to build a future, you have to be willing to let go of the past.

Ke will be with us in the new year to tell us about her latest book.

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VGLeeA little way in the future yet but some early notice from VG Lee about a Gaia Women Tutored Writing Retreat next September in Scotland. The event runs from 5th to the 10th. VG will be the resident tutor supplying advice and running the writing workshop covering the novel.

There will also be a second tutor overseeing the short story section. For more information on the retreat see the Gaia Woman website.

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Writer-Sarah-Waters-006On to more best-selling authors and their favourite picks.

Sarah Waters was recently interviewed at the Cinema Museum in London about her Desert Island Movies. Here’s her list. And while you’re on her website check out the details for the theatre adaptation of The Night Watch starting in May in Manchester.

manda-scottManda Scott has been picking her favourite books of the year over on her website. She’s picked the best of her reads from fantasy to World War II fiction. See the full list here and there’s more from Manda in our best-of-2015 Q&A!

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Finally the fabulous Women and Words are running their Hootenanny so nip over there every day for the chance to win in the massive lesfic giveaway!

Tara a bit!

L Fest 2015

21 Jul

The sun shined DSC_1606on L Fest this year, and a fun and cozy event it was too. Live music got the big top treatment and the arts stage was hosted nearby in an airy bright tent. Stalls lined the edges of two grassy areas with everything from busking to dog shows. There were fewer author panels this year, and no fiction workshops, but what the sessions lacked in quantity they certainly made up for in quality.

Karen Campbell

Jubilation at working microphones and a brilliant reading from Karen Campbell

First up was the Indie Panel ably captained by Clare Lydon. HP Munro had the unenviable task of kicking off the show before the microphones arrived but was beautifully audible by the time her reading of the merkin scene from the much-loved Stars Collide came around. Sally Edwards read from her self-confessed highly autobiographical debut How to Love. Karen Campbell enthralled the audience with a brilliant reading from her work in progress about a lesbian dwarf. And Suzanne Egerton, who has one of those voices you need for Book at Bedtime, delivered her humorous story Diva like a pro.

Polari Panel

The fabulous Polari panel: Diana Souhami, host Paul Burston, VG Lee, Kiki Archer and VA Fearon

Sunday morning was time for Paul Burston‘s Polari panel and a large and eager crowd was up early to see some sparkling readings. VA Fearon started the session with a reading from her gritty London gangland thriller The Girl With the Treasure Chest. Some light relief was dished out by Kiki Archer with the shitting-mobility-scooter-icecream scene from Too Late…I Love You, much to the delight of the audience. Diana Souhami was a great inclusion, effortlessly entertaining with her own witty observations and reading wonderful snippets from her biography of the fascinating Alice B Tokas and Gertrude Stein. VG Lee supplied the grand finale with two Deirdre stories to a most appreciative crowd.

Manda Scott

Manda Scott

The last author session was from the big-selling Manda Scott. The historical fiction author took a handful of questions and then talked most impressively about everything from living in round houses to knights steering horses with their bums and how genuinely terrifying battle reenactments are. She offered a few interesting tidbits about her writing career such as her name change (to MC Scott) being forced upon her for the Rome series, much to her chagrin, and the barriers to writing the Boudica series – pressure to keep to her previous thriller brand and established historical authors suggesting there was not enough material to support new fiction – Manda went on to write a series of four sizable tomes.

It was, all in all, a fabulous festival. But let’s hope 2016 sees a beefed up arts side to L Fest.

Polari

Polari panelists VG Lee, Paul Burston, Kiki Archer, Diana Souhami

HP Munro

HP Munro reading the merkin scene from Stars Collide

Suzanne Egerton

Suzanne Egerton

News roundup: reviews, profiles and a bit of a natter

17 Jul

Got your tickets for L Fest? There’s still time. But not much, so let’s get on with the news because there’s sleep to be had, bags to be packed and children and wife to be bundled into a car destined for Uttoxeter.

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Let’s start with some cracking reviews of the recent releases.

arc over timeJen Silver‘s second novel Arc Over Time, the follow up to Starting Over, had two great reviews. The Lesbian Reading Room had this to say:

As with Starting Over, Ms Silver has delivered a charming, witty and clever observational novel. Her characters are very authentic people, warts and all – recognisable characters many of us will have encountered. They live in a real world and, unlike so many lesbian romances, behave like real people.

Planet London also says “All in all Arc over time is a gripping read, a well written lesbian romance set in England which allows for a chance to learn about history and archeology along the way. Although this is the sequel to Starting Over it can be read separately without losing any of the enjoyment.

too late I love youKiki Archer‘s Too Late… I Love You is reviewed in this month’s Diva, where the sex-toy shopping spree scene clearly made its mark, and has also been picked up by All Things Lesbian:

This book is what all young lesbians are in search of when they start reading romance novels. Kiki Archer is the lesbian answer to Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones’ Diary), Sophie Kinsella (Remember Me?), and Cecelia Ahern (P.S. I Love You)…. All in all, this is possibly one of the best lesbian novels I’ve read

no good reason
Cari Hunter
‘s much admired No Good Reason also had a fabulous review over on The Lesbian Reading Room:

I love Ms. Hunter’s writing. Clean, neat, purposeful, it drives us forward with faultless delivery. She crams in a whole host of action, drama, and character development without it ever feeling rushed or heavy-handed. Each book has improved on the last and this is no exception—an absolute winner for lovers of crime thrillers and slightly oddball romance that makes a refreshing change.

CariDiInterviewYou can also hear Cari have a natter with Diana Simmonds about this first book in the Dark Peak Series. The Curve columnist and romance writer has a chuckle with Cari about cross-the-pond differences in English that baffle the Brits and perplex Americans, writing authentic thrillers, other fiction pet peeves and Cari coming back home with her latest Brit crime novel. You can find the video on Women and Words.

Meanwhile, Clare Lydon was featured on My Writing Life where you can read an excerpt from Clare’s latest  This London Love. Clare also gets a chance to talk about her writing:

Clare-Lydon-LV-cropPeople sometimes get mixed up with the genre I write in – contemporary lesbian romance. They think it’s erotica, but it’s not – rather, my books are chicklit with lesbian leads. My characters are sassy and full of life, constantly tripping over their own feet but always managing to get back up again. My books have an over-riding message of love and hope, with a healthy dollop of British wit thrown in.

Clare is also one of the authors profiled on The Lesbian Review. Authors are posed a standard set of questions and this is Clare’s response when asked who inspired her to start writing:

Originally, my dad. He was a journalist back in the day, and he instilled a love of books in me from an early age. He took me to the library as a child, and bought me a book every week when I was a young adult.

Discovering Georgia Beers’s novels opened up the lesbian romance genre for me. If you haven’t read Georgia Beers yet, you should – her books are fab.

A few years later, after reading about tons of American lesbians, I thought, ‘Hey, I could do this!’, but set the books in the UK to reflect the British experience.

You can read the rest of her responses here.

INTO-THE-FIRE-largeFinally a few bits and pieces from one of the star authors at L Fest, Manda Scott.

Manda’s tale of Joan of Arc intertwined with a modern day police investigation,  Into the Fire was reviewed at the Crime Worm blog:

This book’s got the lot to be one of this year’s intelligent hits. For those who like their crime fiction, there’s a superb present-day mystery, which is intelligently and classily done, with plenty of action. There’s the historical fiction aspect; the spies (in both storylines); political machinations (ditto); war scenes, exciting and readable – real edge-of-your-seat stuff; back-stabbing; great dialogue; an absolute dream of a cast, each one superbly drawn and nicely rounded

Manda has also been talking about writing dual timeline thrillers, such as Into the Fire, on the Big Thrill:

Still, there are some kinds of writing that have always struck me as way more scary than the standard “get on a horse and make it go” variety. Writing a dual timeline novel particularly, feels more like the circus trick where you stand on the backs of two over-bred greys and send them spinning round the ring in the hope that neither will decide to bolt off at right angles: you have to be a hardcore adrenaline junky even to contemplate it.

You can read the rest of her piece here.

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Right. Where’s me camera? Moff to take some snaps of them authors. Ta rah!

News Roundup: Clare Lydon Lovin’ In London, Kiki Archer & L.T. Smith Interviews, New Releases from Manda Scott & Jenny Frame, and More!

3 Jul

With a mini heatwave, England coming so close in the footy, and everyone cooking at Wimbledon, it’s been a busy ol’ fortnight here in the UK. So what have all our authors been up to?

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This-London-Love-CoverIt’s always nice to kick off the week with a new release, and we’ll start with the new ‘un from Clare Lydon, whose third novel This London Love is currently riding high in the UK amazon LesFic charts. The book is a spin-off from Clare’s début hit, London Calling, and you can find a trailer for it right here.

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For all those folks who live up north, the rather fabulous Hideaway Cafe in Urmston, Manchester is building on the success of its regular Saturday LGBT nights by launching a women’s LGBT reading group. The inaugural meeting will be on Tuesday July 7th at 7 p.m., and it’ll be a chance to meet like-minded women, pick a book, and eat cake. And trust me, the cakes there look amazing. Also, the cafe is licensed, which is always good news. The cafe’s owners – the Sponge Sisters – have strong ties to the local LGBT community, and Jo and her missus are also planning a lesbian book fest to take place on September 12th 2015. The details are still being finalised, but Tig and I will be going along, to read, chat, sign, but mostly to eat cake with lesbians. Personally I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday. Hit the link for more information on the Hideaway, and we’ll keep you updated with details of the book fest as we receive them.

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too late I love youWith Too Late… I Love You kicking up a storm in the Amazon charts, Kiki Archer has been chatting to Plumsauce Productions about the novel and her move towards writing mainstream fiction:

I noticed that my two previous novels One Foot Onto The Ice and When You Know both broke into the mainstream contemporary romance charts, at one point sitting alongside JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy. Both novels were obviously lesbian-romance, the covers and the blurbs made that very clear, yet they were charting as mainstream. This made me wonder how many straight women were actually enjoying my books, and if I did release one with a pretty, typically chick-lit-type cover, would this work to push sales even higher into the charts…

To find out exactly how successful that tactic was, hit this link.

The book has also been reviewed over at A Modern Girl’s Bookshelf, in a write up that emphasizes its appeal to a mainstream readership:

Something many people don’t realize (and something Too Late… I Love You certainly proves) is often, LGBT lit isn’t much different from popular lit that features a heterosexual relationship. I feel like there’s this unspoken misconception that gay/lesbian relationships portrayed in literature can’t be appreciated or enjoyed by straight readers. Sure, it’s viewed as “cool and quirky” to feature a secondary relationship that isn’t straight, but for some reason, if it’s the protagonist’s relationship, it’s a big deal. I’ll say it here, loud and clear: that is not true! Lately, popular fiction authors have been taking strides to rid the bookish community of this idea (see: Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On; Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia; John Green & David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson), but LGBT genre writers have been doing it for years. Enter the captivating world of Kiki Archer…

For the full text of the review go here.

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heart of the packFollowing on from the success of her début novel, A Royal Romance, Jenny Frame has revealed the cover of her next book Heart of the Pack (a Wolfgang County novel). The book will be released via Bold Strokes in 2016.

Jenny’s début A Royal Romance has been well received by book blogger Leeanna.Me:

It was just fun to see the relationship develop between George and Bea, to see George’s life as queen and Bea’s as a commoner. It was also refreshing to see that both of their families were encouraging, even when Bea doubted that things could work between them because of their class differences. I did think the ending was a tad rushed, considering all the build up and back-and-forth on their relationship. But A Royal Romance left me wanting a sequel, and romances don’t usually do that to me.

Find the full review here

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L.T. Smith is the under the spotlight over at the Ylva website, with an interview discussing the reissued version of her novel, Once:

Personally, I would describe Once as a book about overcoming life events and experiencing the wondrous realization of how strong the human spirit actually is. Once is about rediscovering hope, falling in love, and learning to love life. This book is about friendship, new beginnings, recognising that although we do have limitations these are definitely outweighed by our strengths but it just takes a little time to remember that.
And, best of all, Once has a dog in it. What else do you need to know?

The interview also reveals the title and cover for L.T.’s next novel Driving Me Mad, which is apparently “a little darker” than her usual fare. Driving Me Mad will be released in October, and its blurb reads like this:

Driving Me MadFor Rebecca Gibson, her journey to a work convention will be one she’ll never forget. After driving around for four hours, Rebecca stops to ask for directions at an isolated house on the outskirts of Kirk Langley, Derbyshire.
Her initial meeting with the house’s attractive owner, Annabel Howell, seems strange and unsettling, but at her hostess’s insistence, Rebecca spends the night.
Plagued by nightmares, Rebecca senses that her dream world has blended with what she believes is reality. When she leaves the next day, her life has changed. Can Rebecca solve a mystery that has been haunting a family for over sixty years? Will she find love along the way? Or will the events drive her mad?

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INTO-THE-FIRE-largeManda Scott has been busy publicising the release of Into the Fire with a series of interviews and blogs, the most recent of which is this in-depth and revealing interview at Writerly Witterings:

When my mother died, I found amongst her ‘saved from childhood’ file, my first book – it was 10 pages written in feltpen from the perspective of one of the owls in the kitchen. It was early self-publishing, it had a copyright and a publisher’s marque and it was all bound up with blue ribbon. So yes, I always planned to write, but what I hadn’t planned was how much focus veterinary medicine was going to take to be any good. Then I had a 3 month gap between jobs and that let me start my first real book – a fiction set in a Vet School.

Full details for the official Into The Fire blog tour for can be found here. 

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emma-donoghue-illo_2373764bEmma Donoghue has revealed details of her first novel for middle-grade readers (8-12 year olds):

The Lotterys Plus One introduces Sumac Lottery, a girl with six siblings, two moms, two dads, and a tranquil cloud-painted room in the big Victorian house they all call Camelottery. When her racist, homophobic grandfather nearly burns his house down, he has to move in with the Lotterys, a volatile situation about which no one is happy, least of all Sumac, who has to give up her room. The Lotterys Plus One explores family, the limits of tolerance, and the possibilities of love.

The book will be released February 2017.

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VGLeeVG Lee has loads of events and appearances on the way, with the first being LFest on July 19th, where she’ll be appearing alongside Kiki Archer, VA Fearon, and Diana Souhami. You can find the full list of VG’s upcoming events here, and there’s more details about LFest – including a list of all the other UK authors who’ll be attending – on our own Events page.

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And that just about covers it. I’ll be over here eating a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. Y’all go and read a book 🙂

News roundup: latest releases from Cari Hunter, Kiki Archer and Manda Scott, Clare Lydon getting around a bit, Ke Payne’s next romance and more!

20 Jun

Hell of a week for Cari Hunter to bugger off on holiday. But luckily the launch of her latest book seems to have taken on a life of its own, and I see No Good Reason not to start with her news. Badum tsh. OK, it’s been done before….quietly gets on with the news….

no good reasonSo, the first book in Cari Hunter‘s Dark Peak crime series is now available absolutely everywhere including Amazon UK in downloadable ones and zeroes and black marks on a page.

If you’re quick, you’re in with a chance of nabbing a free copy. Pop over to the Bold Strokes Facebook page before Sunday and share the cover and you’ll be entered into the draw.

The Velvet Lounger has already devoured the book and had this to say in a glowing review in Curve Magazine:

The plot keeps us on the edge of our metaphorical seat, turning the pages long into the night. The setting of the English Peaks District adds ambiance and a drama of its own without excluding anybody. And through it all a glimmer of humour and a large dose of humanity keep us engaged and enthralled.

Meanwhile, Kiki Archer‘s new novel has been quick out of the gates and even though it’s only been out a little over a week it’s rapidly claiming the top spots in the lesfic charts and heading up the mainstream charts too. Let’s hope mainstream buyers like Kiki’s lady-loving twist. Here’s the cover and blurb which missed last fortnight’s news by a whisker.

too late I love youConnie Parker isn’t convinced by this falling in love lark. Falling hurts, you end up with bruises and scars.

She has the perfect answer: she’ll write about love instead. But what happens when the novel-in-progress describes more about Connie’s own dull existence than she wants to admit? And when will she realise that her hero is beginning to resemble her new best friend Maria – a woman who seems to turn every simple outing with their 3-year-olds into a fun-filled adventure for them all?

In trying to make sense of the puzzle of her life, Connie learns there is no perfect person. Just that person who’ll fit you perfectly.

Too Late… I Love You is available on Amazon.

INTO-THE-FIRE-largeManda Scott‘s Into the Fire has hit the Amazon shelves and there’s also a chance to win a paperback on Goodreads. Eighteen copies are being given away and you have up until the 24th to enter (UK entries only). You can join the giveaway here.

Manda’s tale of Joan of Arc intertwined with a present-day police investigation has already been reviewed on For Winter Nights:

Into the Fire is without doubt the finest novel I have read so far this year. The writing is astonishing – beautiful and poetic. Its characters are complex and true, its heroism and evil are breathtaking. Every page of this magnificent book is a pleasure. I’ve sung Manda Scott’s praises for a fair few years – her Rome series is outstanding and I adore it – but with Into the Fire Manda has outdone herself. It is glorious!

You can read the full review here.

There’s also a piece about Manda over on Dead Good Books which asked Manda’s editor to describe why her writing was so special:

whatever she’s writing, Manda’s books have the kind of depth that drag you in and make you live, eat and dream the characters, and the kind of writing that leaves you breathless, but it’s the scope of the ideas that never ceases to amaze.

You can read the full piece here.

wheniknewyouKe Payne has just revealed the cover and blurb for her next romance. When I Knew You is out in Spring 2016 and very enticing it sounds too:

When Ash Wells and Nat Braithwaite are thrown together after seventeen years apart, old resentments and passions are rekindled. The days of their heady teenage relationship are long gone – or are they? As they put aside their differences to honour the memory of a friend, Ash and Nat learn that sometimes, to build a future, you have to be willing to let go of the past.

Clare-Lydon-LV-cropClare Lydon is gearing up for the publication of her third novel, This London Love, and has been talking to Diva about that and her lesbian fiction podcast.

She says of the show, which has included guests HP Munro, Amy Dunne, Karen Campbell and Angela Peach:

I’m shaping the show as it goes, but it’s very informal and chatty – much like a usual radio show. I do a run-down of what’s hot in the Amazon lesbian charts in the UK and US, and I update on what I’ve been doing bookwise and share any lesfic news. Then I’ll interview an author about their books, their writing process and their take on lesfic. The show lasts around 45 minutes, so it’s a good bite-sized chunk of goodness.

Here’s the full interview and past episodes of the lesbian radio podcast.

And, if you haven’t read Clare’s London Calling yet, perhaps the After Ellen site can persuade you:

Well, it’s official: I am moving to London. According to Clare Lydon’s debut novel, London Calling, the city is a hotbed (quite literally) of lesbian activity, where the drinks are constantly flowing, everyone’s fashion sense is impeccable, and the only real problem is a surfeit of women flinging their bras at you.

BSB-AndreaBramhallLgAndrea Bramhall is on the move. The Lambda Award winning author joins the pack at Ylva with her next book and is also their new UK Events Manager. In their announcment, Ylva says “[Andrea] will be taking charge of all future Ylva special events in the UK, including author appearances and our famous travelling pitch sessions, where new authors can meet with Ylva staff and propose a book idea in person.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for those new events!

The Green Carnation Prize organisers have announced the judges for the 2015 LGBT award and they include Jack Monroe and Sophie Ward. Submissions are now open and books published between 1st of October 2014 and 30th of September 2015 are eligible for this year’s prize, although self-published works are not. For more information click here.

Finally, a big thanks to Jen Silver. Her post on UKLesFic last week was so popular that she’s been super lovely and upped the number of giveaway books to three! Congratulations to Lin Shepherd, Barbara G and Ann. Happy reading all!

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And for this week, that’s all folks. If we missed something, let us know. We’re always on the lookout for news items and new places to look. Have a spiffing weekend!