Cover Reveal for Andie Newton

I’m thrilled to be able to share this gorgeous cover for Andie Newton’s next book, The Girls from the Beach, which is out July 9.

Woman in 1940s civilian dress walking on a dirt track with haphazard fencing - posts and barbed wire. She is walking towards a beach. War planes fly overhead.

About the book

We’d heard stories about the nurses in tent seven. A secret mission, stolen money, and spies…’

In 1944, four American nurses disappeared for five days. No one knew what happened to them. Until now.
When Kit and Red set foot on French soil during the Normandy landings, they know they have to rely on each other. As they head for the battlefield, their aim is simple: save lives. But when they’re called away on a top-secret mission to patch up a few men behind enemy lines, everything changes.

Alongside fellow nurses, Roxy and Gail, they’re told to prepare for the worst, trading in their nurses’ fatigues for civilian clothes and hiding medical supplies under their skirts. But it’s a lie. Their real mission tasks them with the impossible – to infiltrate the Reich and steal something the Nazis desperately need to win their losing war.

In an ultimate test of courage and comradeship, each woman must decide what she is prepared to risk and what she has to live for.

Publication date: July 9 2021

Pre-order from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon AU | Kobo | Nook

About Andie

Smiling woman with long blonde hair wearing a black Tshirt and standing in front of a tree

Andie Newton is the USA Today bestselling author of The Girl from Vichy (2020) and The Girl I Left Behind (2019). Andie holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Master in Teaching. She would love to say she spends her free time gardening and cooking, but she’s killed everything she’s ever planted and set off more fire alarms than she cares to admit. Andie does, however, love spending time with her family, trail running, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Follow Andie

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Cover Reveal for Julie Shackman

Thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for Julie Shackman’s upcoming book with One More Chapter, A Secret Scottish Escape! And look at this stunner!

Cover of A Secret Scottish Escape, a two-storey cottage on the banks of a loch in Scotland, with mountains in the background. A woman sitting at a table in the garden in front of the cottage. Quote by author, Julie Caplin 'Glorious...a wonderful taste of the Highlands'

Blurb

Escape to the beautiful Scottish Highlands for a heartwarming and feel good cosy romance that will whisk you away!

As Scotland’s sleepiest hamlet becomes the centre of hot gossip, Layla Devlin finds herself caught in a mystery…

When Layla’s fiancée has an unexpected heart attack and dies – in another woman’s arms, no less – Layla is determined to pack up and leave Loch Harris, the village she’s always called home. But an unexpected inheritance and love for her quiet corner of Scotland send her down a new path.

Now Layla finds herself facing a whole new kind of drama. Rumours swirl that a celebrity has moved into Coorie Cottage and Layla is determined to have him headline her opening night at local music venue The Conch Club. But the reclusive star is equally determined to thwart Layla’s efforts. Rafe Buchanan is in hiding for a reason, and soon his past comes to Loch Harris to haunt him…

Where can you pre-order it (ebook and print)? Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Nook | Kobo

Follow Julie Twitter | Instagram

Catching up again with Author Fiona Leitch

It is with great pleasure that I welcome fellow Renegade Author, Fiona Leitch to Off the Beaten Track, especially as it is publication day for the first book in her new cozy mystery series with One More Chapter! Let’s learn more about Murder on the Menu and the new series!

Cover of Murder on the Menu. Wedding cake in the foreground with a sharp knife sticking out of it. In the background, the coastline of Cornwall.

Tell us what inspired you to write Murder on the Menu?

I love murder mysteries that are cozy, without being either too graphic or, at the other end of the scale, too twee. I love ‘Midsummer Murders’ on the telly and I wanted to see if I could create something similar. But it would have to include three things I love: a great location, a strong female protagonist, and warmth and humour. I used to live in Cornwall and it is truly beautiful, but it’s also not always an easy place to live, what with lack of work and just being so cut off from the rest of the country. So I wanted to write about it, but not just as some glorious seaside town where the sun always shines.

I wanted a detective who’s not a complete bumbling amateur. Someone who could cut corners and not be tied to working within the law, as the police would be, but who isn’t constantly just stumbling over clues; she has to work for it. Ex-copper, Jodie, might be unorthodox, but she knows what she’s doing. She also knows how to rustle up a three-course meal for 100 people and make a banging Victoria sponge.

And finally, I wanted my protagonist to be warm, relatable and human. Jodie has responsibilities, she has a daughter and an elderly mother (and a dog!). She’s made mistakes in her love life and she may well make more. Then again, she may choose more wisely this time…

When did you start writing seriously?

I’ve been writing for years. I started out writing screenplays, which were always on the verge of being The One to break out … I had meetings with producers, got shortlisted a couple of times for the BBC Writersroom scheme, was a finalist in a big screenplay contest – but it never quite happened.

And then in 2017 I was persuaded to turn one of my screenplays into a novel. I’d always resisted writing a book, as there just seemed to be too many words! But once I started, I loved it. That novel, Dead in Venice, was picked up by Audible as one of their Crime Grant finalists. It came out in 2018, and that was when I realised I might actually be able to do this for a living.

What do you love most about being an author?

The same thing that I love about being a reader – the ability to escape into someone else’s life for a while! I get a little bit obsessed with my characters. They feel like real people to me, and I’m almost bereft when I get to the end of the book because it feels like I’m saying goodbye to them. Luckily, I can always write another adventure for them!

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the outlines for what I hope will be the next three Nosey Parker books. I love writing about Jodie and her friends. I’ve also got three romcoms outlined AND I want to write another book in the Bella Tyson series (Dead in Venice is book 1), so you could say I’m pretty busy.

What do you hope readers will take away from Murder on the Menu?

That a ‘cozy’ mystery doesn’t have to be twee or talk down to the reader, and that it can be well written. I think cozy mysteries, while massively popular among readers, have something of a poor reputation among book snobs. What they don’t seem to realise is that some of our best-selling and most critically acclaimed writers – Agatha Christie, MC Beaton and Alexander McCall Smith to name but three – could easily be categorised as cozy mystery writers.

More about Murder on the Menu

A sparklingly delicious confection to satisfy the mystery reader’s appetiteHelena Dixon, bestselling author of the Miss Underhay Mysteries

Still spinning from the hustle and bustle of city life, Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker is glad to be back in the Cornish village she calls home. Having quit the Met Police in search of something less dangerous, the change of pace means she can finally start her dream catering company and raise her daughter, Daisy, somewhere safer.

But there’s nothing like having your first job back at home to be catering an ex-boyfriend’s wedding to remind you of just how small your village is. And when the bride, Cheryl, vanishes Jodie is drawn into the investigation, realising that life in the countryside might not be as quaint as she remembers…

With a missing bride on their hands, there is murder and mayhem around every corner but surely saving the day will be a piece of cake for this not-so-amateur sleuth?

Where you can buy Murder on the Menu

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon AU | Kobo | Nook

More about Fiona

Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. After living in London and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters.

Fiona is represented by Lina Langlee at the North Literary Agency.

Follow Fiona

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thanks so much, Fiona! No doubt Murder on the Menu will fly off the shelves!

Cover Reveal x3 for Fiona Leitch!

I am very excited to be part of the cover reveals for Fiona Leitch’s upcoming cosy mystery series with One More Chapter.

Here’s the series blurb

Ex-copper turned caterer Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker returns home to Penstowan, the small seaside town in Cornwall where she grew up, after almost twenty years in London’s Metropolitan Police Force. With her teenage daughter in tow, and her slightly batty mother still living there, Jodie plans on having a quiet life running her new catering business.


But she soon discovers that life in Penstowan is not as quaint (or boring) as she remembers. Missing brides, bodies in the shrubbery, annoying writers pushed off cliffs and movie star madness all conspire to get this not-so-amateur detective back on the case. Helped by her old childhood sweetheart Tony and hunky newcomer, DCI Nathan Withers, not to mention new member of the family Germaine the Pomeranian dog, finding the killer is bound to be a piece of cake. Murder, mayhem and much consuming of pasties will ensue, to prove that when Jodie’s around, murder is always on the menu…

And check out these covers!

I’ve read Murder on the Menu and it is BRILLIANT. You’re gonna love this series. Clever, funny, pacey and yes, even romantic!

Buy links:

Murder on the Menu | A Brush With Death | A Sprinkle of Sabotage

And you can grab Fiona’s (brilliant) Bella Tyson books here:

Dead in Venice | Murder Ahoy! | Murder at the Grotto (Bella Tyson short)

My inspiration for The Christmas Swap

Out now!

Cover of The Christmas Swap
A beach in the lower half with a couple sitting next to two bathing boxes
A snowy mountainside view in the top half, a couple walking into a ski lodge

I am super excited about this book, as it celebrates one of my favourite times of the year, Christmas. I decided in June last year that I wanted to write a Christmas book, and as I do for all my books, I turned to my own travel experiences for inspiration.

You see, I am an ‘Aus-Meri-Pom’ as my grandma Joan used to call me. I have an English father, and American mother and I was born in Australia. I have lived in all three countries and consider the UK and the US my second homes, especially as I have so many loved ones in both countries.

With so many Christmases to choose from – some snowy, some wintry and cosy (but no snow), many hot, I considered how to pack more than one Christmas into one book.

That’s when I got the idea to have three childhood friends swap Christmases. This way, I could dive into what makes each one special, seeing each Christmas through fresh eyes.

The UK

My sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and great aunt all live in the UK, and we’ve had a couple of (lovely) Christmases with them in recent years (in 2014 and 2108). I LOVE how beautifully and traditionally Christmas is celebrated in the UK. Yes, we had chocolate oranges in our stockings; yes, we had plum pudding and brandy sauce; yes, we went to Christmas Fairs and Winter Wonderland, and sipped mulled wine and hot chocolate; yes, we watched the Queen’s speech; and yes, we even had a(n early) traditional Christmas lunch in a 500 year year old pub! All the yeses to this kind of Christmas.

I’ve also had many Christmases in the US, but one that has stuck with me all these years is the Christmas I visited a dear friend and his (lovely extended family at their mountain cabin in Colorado, then met up with my partner, Ben, for a ski trip to Breckenridge and New Year’s in Denver.

It is a stunning part of the world, and Breckenridge is one of those towns that looks like a filmset of a Christmas movie. These pics are from our drive into town.

And this was the “cabin” we stayed in for Christmas:

Large log cabin nestled in the snow surrounded by fir trees

There were 13 of us for Christmas – and we all had beds, with some to spare! Me in Colorado, all rugged up. Look at those mountains and that sky!

Most of my 51 Christmases, however, have been in Australia. It’s hot, sometimes swelteringly so, and we celebrate traditions that are as much about the family gathering together in summertime as they are about the holiday.

I always make a pav(lova).

We have a fake, but festive, tree (thanks to Ben for the gorgeous pic on the left).

There are salads, fruit platters, champagne (lots of bubbly), Christmas carols (even the snowy ones), some sort of roast, cheese platters, maybe a baked salmon, or some prawns or crayfish on the barbie, and I’ll always bake my fave Chrissie bikkies, Russian Tea Cakes (recipe for you).

We go to the beach, play boules after lunch, call our loved ones far and wide, play games out on the veranda, like Trivial Pursuit and Cards Against Humanity, while we sip crisp, white Aussie wine – you, know, Christmassy, family stuff – Aussie style.

With my dad and step-mum at Light’s Beach, Denmark, Western Australia

I absolutely LOVE Christmas, and if you do too, I hope you will love The Christmas Swap (buy links included). It’s out now!

Catching up with Author Kitty Wilson

Kitty Wilson Author Photo

Welcome Kitty – so great to have you here!

Thanks ever so much for inviting me on your blog. It’s lovely to be here. I thought I’d talk a little about Christmas Wishes as it has just been released in paperback and we are fast approaching the time of year to snuggle down with Christmassy reads.

Tell us what inspired you to write The Cornish Village School – Christmas Wishes?

Cover of Christmas Wishes, a snowy village with floral Christmassy foliage framing a church.

The Cornish Village School series had been up and running for a little while by the time I wrote Christmas Wishes. Initially the series had been inspired by my love of Cornwall and the sense of community I found living there, my experience as an Infant teacher and the fact that I loved nothing better than to escape into a romantic comedy. As the series developed it was clear that the books were representing each of the seasons and I had always wanted to write a Christmas book, to steep myself in everything Christmas, so this book was a happy inevitability. I wanted a Nativity, Carols, choirs, Christmas elves, all the fun of being in a school in that last week of Christmas term where everything is glitter and snowmen and celebration so I crammed it all in.

I also wanted to write a book about the outrageously good-looking vicar in Penmenna. He had started off as a minor village character with all the women of the parish panting after him and I wanted to expand his role, have a hero that the world thought encapsulated handsome whilst he himself had so much baggage that not only did he not see it, the attention was completely inexplicable to him. I hope by the end of it, readers see him as a man who’s truly heroic because of his character and his actions, that his looks have very little at all to do with it. 

When did you start writing seriously?

I have always wanted to write, ever since I was a tiny little thing and have been putting pen to paper most of my life, but in truth never seriously until a few years ago. I was working as a Reception teacher and absolutely loved my job when chronic illness struck. Suddenly I was unable to work, unable to parent the way I always had and my life as it was disappeared before me. I did try and hang on for a very long time but it made me worse and worse. It wasn’t long before I was dependent upon my children and the community around me for the most basic of tasks.

It took a couple of years to get used to and after a little wallow I realised I could reframe things. I had always wanted to write and I believed that one day I would get back to the classroom but until then I would use the time to write and indulge the dream. If nothing else it would be good for me to have a purpose, be something to do on the days I was well enough to type, and show my children that just because life dealt tough blows didn’t mean you didn’t try again.

I may not be back in the classroom, and I don’t suppose I ever will be, but I have five books published, a new career that I absolutely love and have found my tribe within the writing community.

What do you love most about being an author?

This could easily become an essay. I love SO many things about being an author. There is all the obvious stuff like working from home, living in pyjamas and eating biscuits all day if I so choose. Then there is the sheer indulgence of being able to lose yourself in thought for hours at a time and claim it’s work. The world-building, the development of characters and setting and plot and all of that being a little bit tricksy until you have one magic moment where it all falls into place and you can’t wait to get it down onto paper. Seeing snippets of life as you walk around in the world and loving something so much that you then work out how to weave it into your manuscript. This is all bliss.

Holding a book in your hand that is full of words that wouldn’t exist if you hadn’t sat down day after day and made them up is pretty awesome and whenever I have a new book published into paperback I do spend a couple of days with a really daft grin on my face but I think the most special thing for me is when readers reach out. When I get a message or read a review saying thank you, this made me giggle at a time in my life I really needed it. That right there, that is the very best thing about being an author.

What are you working on now?

Oh joy, joy, joy! I am writing another Christmas book and I am so excited, I really am. It is a little different to the Cornish Village School, but is still a light-hearted romantic comedy. It’s set in Bristol – I moved here the same weekend the very first Cornish Village School book came out – but despite the city being very different to Cornwall I seem to be weaving community though as much as I did with Penmenna. I am thoroughly indulging my own humour and my inner geek as I write it – which is giving me far more joy than should be legal. And that is all I can tell you at the moment!

What do you hope readers will take away from Christmas Wishes?

I hope that Christmas Wishes gives my readers that real seasonal escape that festive reads bring every year. I hope that they get caught up in the humour and relax a little with the Penmenna community as they read and enjoy a few hours away in a fictional Cornish village at Christmas time. I have to admit I really love the mischievousness of this opening chapter and Ethel and Annie (an elderly parishioner and Dan the Vicar’s grandmother) are two of my favourite characters.

But as with most light-hearted reads there are deeper issues sitting underneath the comedy and the will-they-won’t-they romance, and this one is about identity, insecurity and how we perceive ourselves compared to how others in our community perceive us. So, I also hope it helps remind people that we are all too often our harshest critic and we should be as kind to ourselves as we are to those that we love, especially at this fabulous but slightly pressured time of year.

Here’s the blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Penmenna…

Teaching assistant Alice has sworn off men, which is fine because with Christmas coming she’s super busy organising the school Nativity. This should be a blast with the help of close friend and village vicar, Dan – if she can ignore those more-than-just-a-friend feelings she’s developed for him…

Dan is happy to help Alice – his secret crush – but not only is his beloved Granny Annie about to be made homeless, the church choir has disintegrated and he’s battling some dark demons from his past.

With meddling grannies and PTA wars thrown in the mix, can Alice and Dan overcome their past hurts to move forward? Will they be spending Christmas together as friends… or something more?

Here’s where you can get it:

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay | Waterstones (UK)| Hive (UK)

And here’s where you can follow Kitty! She loves to hear from readers.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Catching up with Author Samantha Tonge

The wonderful Samantha Tonge warmly welcomed me to the writing community when I was a debut author and it is a pleasure to welcome her to my blog for a catch up.

Her latest book The Summer Island Swap is a wonderful way to vicariously travel to a far off destination from the comfort of home. So, let’s find out more.

Tell us what inspired you to write The Summer Island Swap.

My son returned from a conservation volunteering trip in the rainforest and I was fascinated by his stories of the work they did there and the rescued animals. And then I saw a photo of him with a monkey virtually wrapped around his head! I knew, in that instant, that I wanted to write a story about rescue animals and the kind of people who saved their lives.

Although I have to admit, I did also listen to tales of tarantulas and basic showers with horror and thought what fun it would be to drop a character into that environment who was expecting a rather more luxurious type of holiday – cue Sarah!

When did you start writing seriously?

When my youngest started school in 2005. Life had been a bit full-on until then although – corny as it sounds – I always knew that, one day, I would write. I was in my late 30s and it took a while, but I finally got my first publishing deal in 2013.

What do you love most about being an author?

Feedback from readers means EVERYTHING. To know that my work might have cheered someone up means the world. And sometimes my books have inspired people to follow their dreams and move abroad, or get help for a health condition, and finding those things out is extremely special.

What are you working on now?

My Christmas 2020 novel. I’m super-excited about it, even though it’s been extremely challenging to concentrate and write during lockdown. The male protagonist – funnily enough, Sandy! – is from Sydney and I hope readers find him as mesmerising as Jess, the female lead, does.

What do you hope readers will take away from The Summer Island Swap?

It’s a story about following your dreams and letting go of the past and I hope readers perhaps get inspired, in some small way, to do that. I faced 8 years of rejection to get published and it was difficult – and Sarah, the main character of this book, has faced hard times too to fulfil her dream which is to be independent and have her own home and a job she loves. So if readers took something from that, it would be brilliant. But more than that, I learnt a great deal about conservation whilst writing this book and doing so increased my love, even more, of the natural world. I hope readers find that interesting as well. However, having said all of that, what matters most to me is that readers simply enjoy the story and manage to escape from the difficult circumstances we are all facing at the moment.

The Blurb

Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.

But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.

So now Sarah’s battling mosquitoes, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

Buy Links

Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Kobo

Follow Samantha

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Catching my breath 2

It has been an incredible time over the past couple of months since I wrote the first ‘Catching my breath’ post. Here’s what I have been up to…

Like many of you, we are in lockdown here in Australia. In my ‘day job’ I work in adult education, specifically online adult education and as you can imagine, we have been ridiculously busy these past six weeks.

In addition to working fulltime, I have been a busy little author too.

  • I planned, book, and cancelled a BIG trip to the UK in June and July. I was particularly excited about this trip, because I was going to attend the RNA conference in Shropshire, meet my agent and some close author friends in Scotland (also part research trip), meet my editor and publishing team in London, and spend at least a month of that time writing while holed up with my family in Rugby. Instead, the whole thing is postponed until 2021.
  • In February, sent across my first round of edits for book 3 (and 3rd in my series), A Sunset in Sydney, and I just sent back my structural/copy edits a couple of days ago. It comes out early July so we are on track!
  • At the end of March I sent across my 4th book, The Christmas Swap, which is a stand-alone book that comes out in October.
  • My 2nd book, That Night in Paris, was published a few days ago, so my time on publicity and social media ramped up considerably this past week, and in the lead up to publication, I prepared 4 guest pieces, and arranged announcements with 4 associations. I even had a giveaway with ARRA.
  • I was an early reader for Sarah Louise Smith, Mandy Baggot, and Julie Houston‘s latest books (how could I say no?) They were all wonderful reads, by the way.
  • I’ve featured 4 authors on my site, Sasha Greene, Andie Newton, Nina Kaye, and Fiona Leitch.
  • I’ve updated my site and other author profiles with my upcoming books – covers and blurbs, and other behind-the-scenes author biz.
  • I’ve blogged about writing romance in the time of COVID.
  • Annnd, I am about to dive back into my 5th book, the 4th in the Holiday Romance series, which I started writing around this time last year and had to put aside when I commenced fulltime work. I am about 50% the way through, and for those who have read That Night in Paris (or are about to) my sneak peek is that it is about Jaelee and is set in Bali and New Zealand!

I hope you are all staying safe and well. Happy reading!

What’s in a (character) name?

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As an author, choosing names can be one of the most fun aspects of writing or one of the trickiest.

An author can spend hours on baby name generators, or genealogy and history sites to come up with the perfect names―not only for their main characters, but every supporting character, the names of towns, and even fabricated company names. As an author, I’ve even ‘borrowed’ names from my friends, family and former students.

But why is naming so hard? For me, there are a few reasons.

Names are subjective and (often) have personal connotations for the reader

As a former schoolteacher, there are some names that I won’t touch with a barge pole, simply because they elicit memories of difficult students. Those names may be completely innocuous to most readers, but as I’ll spend the most time with my characters, they make the ‘no go’ list.

The same goes for names with varying ‘heat levels’. If I’m naming a sexy love interest, are some names off limits? Is Milo a hot guy’s name or a hot drink from Australia? Where will my readers land on Rupert (no for me) or Henry (yes for me―but only because of Cavill)?

And while I am a huge Keanu fan―and of course there are quite a few Keanu’s out there in the world, especially ones born after The Matrix came out in ‘99―it’s just too evocative of the Keanu that it’s on the ‘no go’ list too.

Names are ‘fashionable’ and ‘unfashionable’

As we know, names go in and out of fashion, with some names circling back onto the ‘fashionable’ list every other decade or so.

After the film, Splash, came out in the mid-80s, the most popular girls’ name for years was ‘Madison’―simply because a mermaid named herself after Madison Avenue in New York. Until then it was just a last name, but it might be perfect for a character born in the 80s.

And writers of historical fiction are limited even further. There probably weren’t (m)any Kylies or Kylos in the 1800s. As an aside, I have so much respect for historical fiction authors―all that research!

Names have to ‘fit’ the character

I’ve heard this from other authors, so I know I’m not the only one to do it, but sometimes I will choose a name for a character and as I am writing, I realise it doesn’t ‘fit’―that they are not an ‘Eleanor’, but more of a ‘Susan’. Of course, this ties back to my first point about names having connotations, but the name must suit the personality of the character, as it is one of the tools an author uses to evoke their characteristics.

In my 4th book, one of the characters is an actor and I’ve given him a stage name―his mother’s maiden name as his first name. And I got her maiden name from researching last names from Oxfordshire. I tried combinations of last names until I got one that just evoked ‘international film star’.

And many authors I know will name the villain or the antagonist after someone they’ve encountered in real life. It makes me wonder if there really was a ‘Hannibal’ in Thomas Harris’s life, when he penned The Silence of the Lambs.

When naming comes easily

Sometimes naming isn’t hard, like when a character arrives in my head (almost) fully formed, including their name. And some names are an homage to someone special.

In my 4th book, there are three main characters―best friends―and all their names begin with ‘L’, Lauren, Lisa, and Lucy. I have special friends with those names and writing their names into a book is a lovely way of honouring them. Even naming minor characters after people I know can a fun way to include them in my work.

So, next time a character’s name lands with you perfectly, or rubs you the wrong way, just know that the author may have agonised over that choice. And ask yourself if it hit or missed the mark because one of the reasons I’ve mentioned here.

Originally posted on Portable Magic as a stop on my blog tour for That Night in Paris.

Catching up with Author Andie Newton

Today I am very excited to welcome my friend and fellow author, Andie Newton, who is here to talk about her debut novel, The Girl I Left Behind, a taut, pacy, spy thriller set in Nazi Germany. Let’s talk to Andie!

Tell us what inspired you to write THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND? I wrote the first words of my debut novel, The Girl I Left Behind, just over ten years ago. I never thought I’d write a novel. Ever. One day I caught a documentary on the History Channel about Nuremberg’s historic Kunstbunker, a secret art bunker the townsfolk hid from Hitler, and I was instantly intrigued. More so, the documentary talked about the youth resistance. I have a degree in History, so I suppose you can say my thoughts are already in the past. In this case, I set out to learn more about the youth of the German Resistance. I tried to find a novel on the subject and couldn’t find one, and as corny as it sounds, set out to write the novel I wanted to read.

What research did you undertake when writing The Girl I Left Behind?

I read a lot. I read diaries, interviews and news articles about resistance members. I also contacted businesses in Germany and asked questions about their past. Yep. I did that too! One of the most interesting stories that came from these emails involved the Korn und Berg bookstore in Nuremberg. They wrote me a long email relaying a story about when Hitler came into their bookstore and demanded they change the shape of their windows because they weren’t modern enough. Oh, you better believe I wrote that into this book!

What was your favourite scene to write?

My favourite scene to write was the tea scene with Ella’s aunt and her Nazi friends. There’s so much going on here than just a group of gossiping women. I’d read that Hermann Göring’s family was elevated in status after his career in the Reich took off, so I wrote that into the scene with one of the ladies. Also, well… I don’t want to give anything away, but when Ella offers to serve her aunt’s guests…ooh, I love it!

What are you working on now?

My next book will be out this summer, THE GIRL FROM VICHY. It’s about a woman who joins the French Resistance (1942) and spies on her collaborator boyfriend—a gendarme in the Vichy police. This book is about a family that is politically divided, which was really interesting to write. This book, as with THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND, is very fast paced and full of suspense. My third book with Aria Fiction will be released in 2021. This book is still top secret, but what I can tell you is that it’s a WWII female-driven spy novel involving American women, and I absolutely love it.

When did you start writing seriously?

I started writing seriously the day I began my novel, October 3rd 2009. Really. I started with zero experience, armed only with my ideas. I think the number one thing that stops writers who have great ideas is not writing regularly. You don’t need to have years of writing experience or have longed to be an author your whole life. But you do need to sit down and write, AND then work at it every day (and hopefully get better at it). My first pages were awful. AWFUL. I just kept at it.

What do you love most about being an author?

This may shock people, but the part I love the most is also the part I hate the most: Structural edits. These are the changes my editor suggests in the form of an editorial letter. My first letter (for THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND) was 7 pages long, my second letter (for THE GIRL FROM VICHY) was five. I think the biggest misconception is that people think an editor actually changes your manuscript, or the publisher does. Oh no, I’ve written every single word. The edit letter consists of broad suggestions, followed by smaller points. It is up to the writer to figure out how to apply those suggestions to the story.

The reason I love and hate structural edits is simple. I have to write under a deadline, which is stressful, but I love it because I can see the manuscript changing into something wonderful and strong, much stronger than it was originally, and that is why I love it. For me, the last day of edits is usually bittersweet, as it is the last time I’m knee deep in my character’s lives. What follows are the copy edits and proofs, and at this point all story elements are done.

Here’s more about Andie

Andie Newton writes female-driven historical fiction set in WWII. She’s the author of The Girl I Left Behind (Aria 2019) and The Girl from Vichy (Aria 2020). Andie holds a Bachelor degree in History and a Master in Teaching. She would love to say she spends her free time gardening and cooking, but she’s killed everything she’s ever planted and set off more fire alarms than she cares to admit. Andie does, however, love spending time with her family, trail running, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Her next book, The Girl from Vichy, is coming in August this year.

You can find discussion questions for her novels on her website andienewton.com. And you can follow her on:

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