Tag Archives: Val McDermid

News Roundup: New Books from Karen Campbell and Jen Silver, Clare Ashton Hits a Top 10, Val McDermid webchat, Sarah Waters video, and much more!

9 Apr

Be warned, this week’s news is fuelled by unseasonably warm sunshine and loads of Easter chocolate, so things might just get a bit giddy. On the bright side, if I do decide to write this whilst wearing shorts, at least you won’t be able to see them!

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diary of a broken heartLet’s kick off with the news that Karen Campbell has published her new novel The Diary of a Broken HeartThis is Karen’s third novel, and its blurb reads like this:

The Diary of a Broken Heart is a year in the life of thirty-eight year old lesbian, Vivian Westwood. Viv is an over-weight night-shift Tesco worker, who likes to eat, watch ‘Jeremy Kyle’ and lament the state of her love life.

The diary introduces Viv and her friends: Trace at work with the topsy-turvy love life; best friend, Lor, that Viv is hopelessly in love with; and her pen-pal Flash (Morag Gordon) who obsesses over Kate Bush.

But this is more than just a diary. This is an insight into the mind of an ordinary woman, who gets through her ordinary days in an ordinary way until she is diagnosed with cervical cancer. This diary will bring her self-deprecating humour to the fore as she fights this ghastly disease and begins to see her life in a new way, finally seeing the truths from her past and making decisions for her future happiness.

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that certain somethingMeanwhile, over at the Lesbian Review, Clare Ashton‘s Lammie nominated RomCom, That Certain Something, has been included in their Ten Best Lesbian Books:

This is a delightful, quirky romance with a boatload of angst thrown in for good measure. This is my favourite of Ashton’s books. It manages a lightness not generally present in her work. The characters are well written and believable. The book is filled with moments so lovely you wish you could frame them and keep looking at them.

The site has a full review of the novel here.

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clarelydonClare Lydon (AKA: The busiest author in LesFic) has narrated the first chapters of The Long Weekend and London Calling for your listening pleasure. You can find both excerpts here.

If you’d like the chance to meet Clare in person, she will be chatting to readers and selling her books at the 2015 Indie Author Fair, April 17th at Foyle’s bookshop in London. For more details about this Indie extravaganza and a chance to win one of 40 books, see Clare’s blog or our bang-up-to-date Events page.

And squeaking in just under the deadline – the sixth episode of Clare’s Lesbian Book Club podcast, which features an interview with Katie Bennett-Hall of Planet Of The Books, is available to listen to right here.

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arc over timeSome news on forthcoming books now, and Jen Silver recently revealed the cover and blurb for her second novel, Arc Over Time, the sequel to her début, Starting Over.

Dr Kathryn Moss, professor of archaeology, has much to think about. The job offers are flowing in after her exciting archaeological discoveries at Starling Hill the previous year. Now she has choices to make that could jeopardise her relationship with Denise Sullivan, the fiery journalist, who has become her lover.

Den has her own worries. She feels they have moved beyond the casual sex stage to something more like a true relationship. However, she’s not sure how to handle Kathryn’s continuing infatuation with Ellie Winters, the beguiling owner of Starling Hill farm.

Arc Over Time is a journey of discovery for all involved. I hope you will be tempted to come along for the ride.

The first chapter is available to read here, and the book is due for publication in May.

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PLayinginshadowSticking with the theme of sneak-peeks, a quickie reminder that Bold Strokes Books publishes excerpts of their forthcoming novels that are far more expansive than the traditional Amazon “Look Inside” feature. This means that the first three chapters of Gill McKnight‘s Soul Selecta, Lesley DavisPlaying in Shadow – both released this month – and Jenny Frame‘s May début, A Royal Romance, can be found by hitting those handy links and clicking on the Excerpt tag.

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With a general election pending, those of you who have ever wondered about the political bent of thrillers and crime fiction can hop over to this link where Val McDermid will set it all out for you. I’m not sure it’ll help you choose which idiot will make the least mess of our country over the next five years, but it does make for interesting reading:

val mcdermidThe current preoccupations of the crime novel…lean to the left. It’s critical of the status quo, sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly. It often gives a voice to characters who are not comfortably established in the world – immigrants, sex workers, the poor, the old. The dispossessed and the people who don’t vote.

The Guardian also ran a live webchat with Val towards the end of March, the full transcript of which can be found here.

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intothefireRemember the days before Facebook, e-books and Twitter? Remember modems and dial-up? It’s hard to believe that fifteen years have passed since the release of Manda Scott‘s Dreaming the Eagle, but my grey hairs would seem to suggest that that much time has actually gone by, and this blog by Manda adds further credence to the claim:

We’ve sold somewhere around a million books since then. And this week, the e-book of Eagle was reduced as a way to introduce Boudica and her era to a new generation of readers around the world (we’re working on the US/Canada digital version, trust me on this) and to give them time to work through the series before the launch of Into the Fire in the middle of June. (It’s a dual time line book. Half is set in the world of Jeanne d’Arc, another woman warrior whose story is not remotely as we’ve been led to believe: the other half is contemporary – if you want a taste of my contemporary thrillers, head back to No Good Deed). 

Read the full blog here if you want to know more about Manda’s novels, and get all nostalgic about waiting till after midnight to access the Internet because the lines were busy!

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Writer-Sarah-Waters-006A treat now for Sarah Waters fans, with a new video interview being posted over at her website. Sarah was chatting to Canadian LGBT online magazine Daily Xtra, and you can find the full 20-minute interview here. The Events page of Sarah’s site has also been updated to give details of a tour that’s taking in Scandinavia, South Africa, Australia, and um…Norwich. Some of the details are still pending, but you can get an idea of the locations and dates here.

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I think that about covers it for this week. The sunshine and my back garden bench are beckoning, so I shall bid you all a fond farewell.

News roundup: new books, old books, events and more events! Everything from L Fest to Aye Write and Manda Scott to Nicola Griffith

28 Mar

Whoever is planning the festivals this year has suddenly got their arse in gear because events are being announced every which way this week. But first, some other tasty morsels from around the interweb.

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You Are What You Eat, and if it’s a biscuit you’re probably a Brit, and if it’s a cookie you’re more likely to be from the US. And that’s before you even get to different brands. This causes a problem for the likes of Cari Hunter who can’t go two chapters without someone having some’t nice to eat. Her trials and tribulations with the great food divide across the pond was explored in a Curve article this week by Diana Simmonds:

no good reasonHunter says, of her culinary concerns, ‘I think it’s a fear of chucking a reader out of a scene by throwing something at them that’s so completely alien it makes them stop and go ‘huh?’ I’ll probably swap custard creams for shortbread. But I am sad Americans don’t have Battenberg cake, though, I mean look how pretty it is!’

And so it is, even if you don’t like marzipan, and whether you care or not that it might have been named in honour of Queen Victoria’s husband. But that’s the thing: if you don’t explore, you might as well stay home and guzzle more S’mores.

Read the rest of the entertaining article here.

There’s more from Cari as she gears up for the publication of No Good Reason in June with a taster of her life as a paramedic, which closely resembles that of her heroines.

I’ve worked for the ambulance service for thirteen years, eleven of those as a paramedic, and the last four of those leading a dual life as an author. My books tend to resemble my world – medical themes, with police, doctors, chaos, and violence – and I’ve always tried to keep them on the right side of realism. Bearing that in mind, none of my leading ladies are uber-heroines, those striding, muscle-ripped superwomen so beloved of cop/doc fiction, and the central pair in the Dark Peak series are no different. Sanne and Meg are bright, intuitive, and good at their jobs, but they get knackered, get puked on, laugh at the wrong things, and fuck up just like any of us.

Have a read of the post No Angels Here for an excellent taster of life as a paramedic – it’s a typically gripping and funny read.

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On to new books and pieces.

Lesley DavisPlaying in Shadow is now available from the Bold Strokes website (it will be available on Amazon April 20th). This is the link if you want to get your mitts on a paperback or have your ereader gobble up an ebook.

Lesley has also revealed the blurb and cover for the next book in the pipeline, Starstruck, which is due out January next year. Here’s the blurb and cover:

starstruckActress Cassidy ‘CJ’ Hayes is famous for her role in “The Alchemidens”, a fantasy show where she plays a kick-ass heroine. Her rising success has brought her quickly under Hollywood’s glaring spotlight. It also gained her the unwelcome attentions of an obsessive fan who wants more than just an autograph. Aiden Darrow is both a well-respected screenwriter and a writer of lesbian romances. As a big fan of actress C.J. Hayes, Aiden is astounded when the woman of her dreams ends up moving into the house next door to her. Their attraction is undeniable but Cassidy is understandably nervous about getting too close to anyone. Aiden, meanwhile, is trying to separate reality from fiction because Cassidy is nothing like the character she portrays so well. All through her childhood, Aiden dreamed of a hero to come rescue her. Can she be the hero that Cassidy so desperately needs now?

reloadKiki Archer has been quiet of late, beavering away on a screenplay and waiting for news from various production companies in between the odd appearance on Sky News. But she has been tinkering with a short story or two. Her latest is another funny piece, Reload and Try Again, and has been published in the digital magazine Cracked Eye. Head on over here to download the app and buy a copy of this promising new magazine.

intothefireManda Scott has released the synopsis for her forthcoming novel Into the Fire (release date of June). It starts:

FORGET WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW…

2014 – A man’s charred corpse is found in the latest of a string of arson attacks in the French city of Orléans. There’s a secret, hidden within the body that changes everything.

1429 – Joan of Arc, warrior-knight, leads the armies of France into victory, and escorts her king to his consecration. But even then, her story was a lie.

SOME LEGENDS NEVER DIE – but they may be rewritten…

Brilliantly linking past and present, Manda Scott’s exhilarating thriller challenges us to think again about one of the most enduring legends in history.

swordfishUKLesFic doesn’t know if there is any lesbian content, but that sounds like a cracking read. The whole synopsis and excerpt is available from Manda’s website, which is looking beautiful after a recent make-over.

And a quick mention of Andrea Bramhall‘s Swordfish: her sequel to Ladyfish is now available from Audible. Flutter over here for a copy.

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Now for some books that have been out for a while but which have had rather nice mentions this week:

hild coverNicola Griffith‘s Hild has made it onto a list of 29 Awesome Books With Strong Female Protagonists (and for some reason it bugs me that they didn’t find 30). This is what they had to say about the epic: “Nicola Griffith’s Hild is a sweeping, historical novel that takes place in Britain during the Middle Ages, where a bright, curious child named Hild, the king’s niece, becomes his seer in a brutal, violent time. Strong-willed and gifted, Hild grows up to become one of the most powerful women in seventh-century Britain: Saint Hilda of Whitby.

Go and have a shufty at the rest of the list here.

(Do you think that looks like Nicola on the cover? Apparently six out of 10 readers think Nicola looks like one of her heroines. Here’s the pie-chart to prove it.)

pennanceClare Ashton‘s books got a favourable mention on Indie Reader in an article about how indie publishing is allowing marginalised authors to reach an audience beyond the traditional publishing world, often criticised for being being male-, hetero-, cis- and white-centric.

The article lists nine authors who don’t fit the usual publishing industry mould. Of Clare’s books, it says “[they] are shining examples of literature featuring lesbian romance. Her first novel, Penance, is a hauntingly moving ghost story, and the romance that blossoms from tragedy demonstrate Ashton’s unique ability to spin a yarn.” All true you know :p

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Right, on to those events.

LFest2015Hot off the press is the lineup for L Fest in July, and it’s looking mighty fine with a first showing for the literary salon, Polari, at the festival. VG Lee and Kiki Archer will be appearing as part of that session and will pretty much guarantee a good guffaw from even those with the most insensitive of funny bones.

There also looks like a great mix of indie authors on the panel entitled Close & Personal with the Indie Authors: Desire, Dramas & Divas. Go and rub, err, shoulders with HP Munro, Karen Campbell, Veronica Fearon, Suzanne Egerton and Clare Lydon, who’ll be hosting the panel.

AND Manda Scott will be there. She’ll be doing an hour-long slot on Women Warriors: “from Boudica to Jeanne d’Arc to Christine Grenville, Nancy Wake and Violet Szabo of the SOE, there have always been women that wanted to fight – and were good at it. In this hour, we celebrate their victories, and look at what’s changed – and what hasn’t – when fighting flows in our life blood.

L Fest is a unique lesbian festival with three days of entertainment from fabulous UK authors, bands, cinema, workshops and you can have a laugh with a great big bunch of lesbians in a field, all for £99. Have a look at the rest of the lineup here.

ayewriteThe Polari Salon will also be popping up in Glasgow as part of the Aye Write Festival in April. Paul Burston will be the fabulous host as usual to guests Jackie Kay, VG Lee and Patrick Gale. Not one to be missed! The session costs £9 and will be held at the Mitchell Library at 7.30 on April 23rd. More details and tickets on the Aye Write website.

Kerry Hudson and Jackie Kay will also be appearing on the Out There panel. They will be reading their work from the anthology of the same name and discussing issues around LGBT literature in Scotland. The panel is in the same place on the same date as Polari, just a little earlier in the evening. More details and tickets here.

Kerry Hudson will also be appearing at the Ullapool Book Festival in May, as will Val McDermid. More details here.

catherine hallCatherine Hall gets around a bit.  On Wednesday 22nd of April, she’ll be taking part in the Reader Series at Canterbury Christ Church University at the Sidney Cooper Gallery.  The event is bargainously free. More details here.

She’ll also be appearing at the Brighton Pavilion, which is where her latest book, The Repercussions, is set. The event is on Friday 24th April, costs £8 and includes wine. You can’t get much more convivial than that.

Meanwhile, Maureen Duffy will be appearing at Poetry at The Print Room on Tuesday 14th April. This is part of a series of intimate evenings in the company of contemporary poets at The Coronet in Notting Hill. More details here.

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Phew! Nearly there.

And finally, don’t forget to catch up with the latest Lesbian Book Club podcast with Clare Lydon. Clare has a romp through the UK and US Amazon lesfic charts and also gives us a quick update on progress on her own writing with book 3 – the yet unnamed follow up to London Calling. She then interviews Karen Campbell about her gritty novels.

Karen reveals (in that rather lovely Scottish accent) how she started writing years ago with Violet’s Story after mulling over a story centred on mental health and featuring that favourite name of hers. They cover a great range of topics, including the follow up to The Knowing, a hint of the supernatural, the madness of writing and being shy and introverted, with some hints about a collaboration with Angela Peach. Oh, and football. Have a listen here.

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That is all. Good night!

News Roundup: Brits’ Lambda Award Joy, New Author Evangeline Jennings, Emma Donoghue on the Stonewall Honour List, and More!

12 Mar

It’s been an excellent couple of weeks for news here in UK LesFic land, not necessarily in terms of quantity, but definitely in terms of quality. So let’s bloody-well get on with it, eh?

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that certain somethingFirst and foremost, a massive shout out to our very own Clare Ashton whose delightful RomCom, That Certain Something, has been shortlisted for a Lambda Literary award.

For those not in the know about these things, the Lambda Literary Awards “identify and celebrate the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year and affirm that LGBTQ stories are part of the literature of the world. The Awards ceremony has consistently drawn an audience representing every facet of publishing.”

The much-anticipated shortlist was announced on Wednesday 4th March, with Andrea Bramhall‘s Nightingale joining That Certain Something in the Lesbian Romance category. Sarah WatersThe Paying Guests was also listed in the category of Lesbian General Fiction.

The awards ceremony will take place on June 1st, and a full list of all the finalists can be found here. Congratulations and all the luck in the world to the three Brits (and to everyone else, of course!)

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riding in carsIt’s always lovely to welcome a new author to the site, and Evangeline Jennings has recently joined our listing. Born and raised in Liverpool, Evangeline now spends most of her time in Austin, TX. She is the author of Riding in Cars with Girls, a crime-themed collection of essentially feminist, very noir, and almost entirely queer short stories and novellas. She is also the founding editor of the Pankhearst writers collective. Her full bio can be found on the Authors page, and her next publication will be a short story in this erotica anthology.

You can find out more about Evie over at her blog.

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Nicola Griffith‘s website has a whole new look and very nice it is too, with links to all of her books, loads of information, a blog section, and updates about guest appearances. The site is still a work in progress and Nicola is keen for reader feedback, so pay a visit and see what you think.

Sticking with that theme, Val McDermid‘s site has also had a makeover. There’s certainly a lot of information to be found, but with so much moving, streaming, and jumping out at you, you might want to take some Hyoscine before heading on over there!

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frog musicIt’s a very award-themed update this one, and Emma Donoghue has just announced that Frog Music is one of four Honor Books in Literature for the 2015 Stonewall Book Awards:

The first and most enduring award for GLBT books is the Stonewall Book Awards, sponsored by the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table. Since Isabel Miller’s Patience and Sarah received the first award in 1971, many other books have been honored for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.

All of this year’s Stonewall winners can be found here, and Emma’s news nicely coincides with the paperback release of Frog Music, which comes complete with a rather natty new cover design.

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Cold to the TouchSpeaking of new covers and shiny things, I was pleasantly surprised to receive word from Bold Strokes that my fifth novel, Cold to the Touch – the second in the Dark Peak series of crime thrillers, and the sequel to June release No Good Reason – will be published in December, 2015. That was rather earlier than I’d anticipated, but very fitting for a winter-themed book. I suppose I’m a bit like the 192 bus: you wait and wait for one book to come out, and then two turn up in quick succession.

Given that the first book in the series isn’t out yet, I’ve tried to keep the blurb for book two spoiler-free, but it should be enough to give you a general idea…

Winter in the Derbyshire Peaks: months of knee-deep snow, short days, and rocketing crime rates.

Detective Sanne Jensen is living in self-imposed isolation and quietly falling apart, while Dr. Meg Fielding–Sanne’s best friend and occasional lover–is struggling to cope with her violent brother, who is back in town and demanding money that she doesn’t have.

When the murder of a drug addict is dumped onto Sanne’s already unmanageable caseload, she suspects the death may be the start of something more sinister. But how can she investigate a crime when no one cares about the victim? And how can she stop a killer who has no identity, no motive, and no conscience?

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POLARIpinkLARGEA call to all budding UK LesFic authors now, as the Polari prize opens for submissions. If you’ve no idea what I’m yammering on about – where have you been?

Now in its fifth year, The Polari Prize is for a first book which explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in English by a writer born or resident in the UK within the twelve months of the deadline for submissions (this year 1st February, 2015). Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible for submission.

Previous winners and nominees have included Mari Hannah, Kerry Hudson, and Beatrice Hitchman. All submissions for this year’s prize need to be in my May 1st, and for more information about the process, head over here. Good luck!

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mask of the highwaywomanNiamh Murphy
‘s recently republished swashbuckling epic, Mask of the Highwaywoman has been reviewed by jj over at Rainbow Book Reviews, who had this to say about its central characters:

Bess is a rather sweet enigma wrapped in a formfitting disguise for the road that somewhat has her blending in with her highwayman colleagues and initially she is masked as they are… Along with Evelyn, I was constantly losing my balance and a sense of perspective largely because the highwaywoman is so difficult to get a handle on and nothing that unfolds could possibly have been anticipated. Disconcerting and exhausting, it was also exciting and extremely challenging. These twists and turns more than elevated the excitement. For me, they put this book in a class by itself! 

You can read the full text of the review here.

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Rounding out the roundup with a couple of dates for your diary…

manda-scottCatherine Hall will be appearing at the Words by the Water Festival in beautiful Keswick on Friday 13th March, at 10.45 a.m). Tickets and more information are available here.

Hopping across into April, and Manda Scott will be discussing the topic Romans to Redcoats (which probably has nothing to do with Butlins!) at the Wrexham Carnival of Words on Saturday April 25th. The event will run from 2.30 p.m., and tickets can be purchased at this link.

As ever, event info can be found separately on our Events page, and I’ve recently updated the New & Upcoming Releases page as well – authors if you have a book out in the next five months or so, let us know about it!

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And that’s about all she wrote for this update. Have a lovely weekend and watch out for the eclipse (20th March!)

 

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!

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!

News roundup: a scorching Scottish anthology, new books, Sarah Waters and more!

23 Aug

It’s the summer bank holiday which would explain why I’m sitting here with two jumpers on and have a streaming cold. Here is the news…sniff…

First up are shiny new covers for forthcoming books.

OutThereOut There is a very promising anthology of works by Scottish LGBT authors and includes pieces by Ali Smith, Kerry Hudson, Jackie Kay, Val McDermid and Carol Ann Duffy. The publisher describes the collection of poetry and prose as “diverse, sometimes hilarious, sometimes polemical, often surprising and deeply moving, but always suffused with energy, wit and empathy” and with that list of authors I’m not surprised.

The book is available late September and now available for pre-order on Amazon.

SecondThoughtsJade Winters has pencilled in her new book Second Thoughts for September and it has this very pretty cover. Here’s the blurb:

Melissa Carter thought she had it all. On the cusp of an exciting new journey with her partner Amy, Melissa’s once perfect life is thrown into a roller coaster ride when her ex, Sadie Miller, shows up unexpectedly. All too soon, Melissa’s emotions are pulled in different directions as she is faced with a life changing dilemma: should she choose the safe haven with Amy or follow a long lost dream with Sadie? With her wedding to Amy looming, one thing is for certain, time is not on her side.

RoyalRomanticNew Bold Strokes author Jenny Frame has also revealed her sumptuous cover for her debut A Royal Romance. Here’s the blurb for the 2015 publication:

Georgina, Princess of Wales, has always known her destiny, but she never expected duty to call so soon. When her father dies suddenly, she is called back from her Royal Navy post to assume the crown. While the people acclaim their new Queen, Great Britain’s first openly gay monarch, all George feels is the isolation of her station.

Beatrice Elliot’s staunch anti-monarchist views have always been a point of gentle contention with her working class, royalty-loving parents. When Bea—director of a hospice charity—must spend six months working with Queen Georgina, her charity’s new patron, sparks fly and passion blooms. But is love enough to bridge the gap between Bethnal Green and Buckingham Palace?

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Well it’s still not August the 28th is it? But if you’re wringing your hands in anticipation at Sarah WatersThe Paying Guests, here are a few more tidbits to torment yourself with. (I wonder how many times Sarah Waters has been asked if there are lesbians in it.)

First up is a short video of Sarah talking about the background to the novel and the story itself. It’s well worth watching for anyone at all interested in the novel. She covers her research of the time and setting of early 1920s suburban London – a turbulent and very different place to the glamorous latter half of the decade in the city. She says the heart of the novel is a romance and that the story is about what happens to a loving relationship under pressure of guilt and shame. Here’s the vid:

September’s Diva also has an interview with Sarah Waters discussing the novel and her research into the era and setting. Again well worth a read and if you’re already wondering about what Sarah is working on next, apparently she hasn’t anything specific yet but you could bet good money on it being historical.

The Guardian has a review by Rachel Cusk of the Paying Guests. She says of the novel:

This fascinating domestic scenario might have made for an absorbing short novel; but at more than 500 pages long, The Paying Guests has ambitions elsewhere. That these pertain to plot rather than to the development of the novel’s core ideas is disappointing

She also adds that “the sexual perspective is designed for the modern reader,” and labels the novel as “middlebrow entertainment”.

I for one couldn’t be more pleased to hear it. It sounds like a bloody good quality read.

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nightingaleAndrea Bramhall has been blogging about L Fest over on Women and Words. She talks about the Bold Strokes panels, the event in general and that tricky decision of whether or not to camp at a British festival. Here’s what she says of the event:

L-Fest itself had been set up like a music festival but with a little bit of everything thrown in. Paintballing, comedy acts, live music, fancy dress disco, volleyball, a dog show, workshops, Indie authors, a massage tent, thousands of lesbians…it had all the ingredients to be a fabulous weekend, especially when there was free child care available in the day for all those who were travelling as a family, and doggie day care for those with fur-babies.

While we’re with Andrea we should also mention that her latest novel, Nightingale, is now available on Audible. Here’s the link to the unabridged audio book.

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the knowing

And this just in (or at least I’ve only just seen it), a smashing review of Karen Campbell‘s supernatural thriller The Knowing.

This book is probably one of the best I’ve ever read. The character of Jen is fantastically written and I really felt like I connected with her on every level, actually feeling every emotion she experienced, both good and bad. There are so many twists and turns in this book you really don’t know what is going to happen next and this made we want to continue reading, I found it hard to actually put the book down.

You can read the full review here.

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Right I’m off for a glass of Talisker. My grandad used to swear by it, or at least swear a lot after it. Ta ra!

News Roundup: Great British Giveaway, Ylva Call For Sensual Submissions, Polari on Tour, Reviews, Blogs, and More!

15 Aug

It’s the height of summer! Which obviously means we’re all snorkelling our way to work , paddling to the shops, and generally getting soggy every time we step outdoors. Bearing that in mind, hang up your brollies for a few minutes and take a look at this week’s news…

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CurveFollowing on from the recent Curve article highlighting The Best of British Reads, the Lesbian Reading Room is holding a giveaway to celebrate the piece. A signed copy of a book (or an e-book) from each of the authors mentioned in the feature – Clare Ashton, Andrea Bramhall, Amy Dunne, Veronica Fearon, Cari Hunter – is available to win over at the LRR. All you need to do is head over to the site, have a toot at how the competition will work, and enter your name into the hat. Easy, eh? The closing date is Sunday 17th August, so get your skates on.

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the skeleton roadVal McDermid is gearing up for the release of her new standalone novel The Skeleton Road:

Set in McDermid’s hometown of Edinburgh, The Skeleton Road centres on a Cold Case investigation. A skeleton is discovered, hidden at the top of a soon-to-be renovated Gothic building. Detective Karen Pirie is tasked with identifying the decades-old bones and soon finds herself unearthing a series of past conflicts, false identities and secrets that have long been buried. 

I have no idea as to the lesbian content in The Skeleton Road (if any), but it’s set for release on 11th September, and Val will be appearing at the Norwich Playhouse on 12th September, 8pm (tickets £12) to chat about the novel and her other books. For more details and ticket information, hit this link.

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clareashtonTickets are now on sale for the Midlands Polari evening that Tig mentioned in last week’s news. Scheduled for Saturday 15th November, the event will be held at Mac, Birmingham and feature readings from Kiki Archer, Clare Ashton, and VG Lee, amongst others. These evenings always look like a blast, so if you’ve never been able to make it down to the Big Smoke for the regular London events, take advantage of this travelling salon! Tickets are £5, with a special £2.50 offer for the first ten early bird bookings. For more information and ticket booking, head over here.

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ylvaYlva have sent up a call for erotica submissions (not submissives, although they might be looking for those as well!) for a new short story anthology focusing on the naughtier things in life.

Writers, send us your most lustful, lascivious, even lewd stories for this one. Plot? Yes, we’d still like your story to have one. But this particular collection will focus on the sensual, red-hot delights of sex between women and the celebration of the female form in all its diverse hedonism. So what we want are tales of lesbians getting down and dirty in the bedroom (or any other place they find arousing) and having loads of fun doing it.

The deadline for submissions is March 15th 2015, which should give you plenty of time to think up something suitably juicy. As ever, all the details you could possibly need are at the above link.

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theempath_lgWith the release of her début novel imminent, Jody Klaire has been blogging about the Celtic influences at play in The Empath:

One of the things is that some places have a funny looking language on them. Things like ‘Croeso,’ which in the green (currently soaked) fields of home means ‘welcome.’ And you get to try putting on a funny accent to say it, you ready? Croy-see-yo. That’s it, you got it. Try rolling your r for extra points.

You can read the full piece – which includes the opening paragraph from the novel – here.

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paying guestsSarah WatersThe Paying Guests was recently featured in The Guardian‘s feature Book Now: The essential new fiction from the big names in 2014:

South London, 1922: genteel Frances and her widowed mother have fallen on hard times, rubbing along in a big suburban house that used to be busy with menfolk and servants. During the war, Frances saw opportunities for freedom and love; now duty and bereavement have resigned her to confined spinsterhood and the kind of domestic hard labour previously unknown to a woman of her class. Until a couple of the “clerk class” move in as lodgers, and surprising intimacies develop … Waters has created both a page-turning melodrama and a fascinating portrait of London on the verge of great change.

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HILD_jacket_closerA couple of reviews now to round out the week, starting with a full page write-up of Nicola Griffith‘s Hild in the September issue of the BBC History Magazine:

This is a powerful, clever novel. Griffith illuminates the so-called Dark Ages, reconstructing an often alien historical world with great precision, and in Hild has created a sympathetic, complex character to act as a guide. 

The full review isn’t available online, but the magazine is on sale now.

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WhenYouKnowLast but by no means least, The Lesbrary has been catching up with Kiki Archer‘s novels, with Elinor reviewing the best selling One Foot onto the Ice and its sequel When You Know:

These books are campy, full of slapstick, and made me laugh. They are mostly light, and easy and fast reads. I enjoyed them a lot. Archer manages to show Jenna and Susan’s chemistry through delightful banter…I recommend these books to anyone interested in lesbian romance. The books are best together, and as a pair they make one of the most fun lesbian romantic comedies I’ve read.

You can read the full and very comprehensive review here.

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Right, as the heavens open once more above Manchester and I banish all hopes of getting my washing dry, that’s the lot for this week. Toodle-pip!

 

 

 

 

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