The Fourth Character

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Earlier in the week we celebrated a double release day with Victoria Cornwall for two books in her ‘Cornish Tales’ series: The Thief’s Daughter (now available in paperback and eBook) and The Captain’s Daughter (available in eBook). Today on the Choc Lit corner, Victoria talks about one of the most important aspects of her historical novels … location! 

In its simplest form, a story has a hero, a heroine and an antagonist. However, there is another element to a story that has as much importance and influence over the storyline as the main characters themselves. It is the setting where the story unfolds or what I like to call the fourth character.

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Daphne Du Maurer recognised the important role a setting holds and wasted no time in introducing Mandalay to the reader in her novel, Rebecca. Wuthering Heights and Jamaica Inn are as memorable as the main characters of their novels, so important their authors used their names for the title of their books. Even Poldark is out shadowed by the location the story is set in. The county of Cornwall. My birth place and home.

Cornwall

Cornwall remains a firm favourite with novel writers, but the county is more than a beautiful backdrop to a story.  It drips with history and, to the discerning eye, there are signs everywhere relating to its past. Celtic stone crosses and place names remind us of its numerous Cornish saints. Oddly named coves, such as Pepper Cove and Prussia Cove, hint at its smuggling and wrecking past. The silhouette of derelict mines still frame the skyline and wind-tortured trees continue to stretch their branches inland.

Pepper Cove

When I wrote The Thief’s Daughter I knew that Cornwall, in particular its coastline and smuggling past, would play a key role in the story. I wanted the reader to experience a face of Cornwall which is very different to the picture-perfect postcard, where sandals, towels and sandcastles are the only things that litter the beaches. I wanted the reader to feel they are with Jenna and Jack as they fall in love, hear the winter sea winds and smell the smoke of their fire as a downdraft puffs it back down the chimneys during a gale. I want the reader to see the salt stains on the glass of their windows and feel their anxiety as the coastal winds rob them of their breath as they climb its steep cliffs. Until you experience these things, you cannot truly convey what it is like to live in Cornwall, away from the tourist routes and picture postcard summer scenes. Inspired by Winston Graham’s writing, I have tried my best to show the side of Cornwall a tourist rarely sees and open a window on a murky past it can never forget.

Lundy Bay

In my second novel, The Captain’s Daughter, I moved inland to the barren landscape of Bodmin Moor. Atmospheric and dramatic, it provided the perfect backdrop to Janey’s journey from an innocent girl to a strong, courageous woman. The National Trust property, Lanhydrock House, inspired Bosvenna Manor where she takes up a position of Lady’s Maid. Grand, daunting, yet beautiful, with its strong demarcation line between the servants’ accommodation and those of the gentry, the house bears witness to the events that unfold within its walls. Events that will change the lives of those who live there forever.

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If you like the sound of Victoria Cornwall’s evocative Cornish novels, you can find purchasing options here:

The Thief’s Daughter
The Captain’s Daughter 

For more on Victoria Cornwall:

Follow her on Twitter @VictoriaCornwall and Instagram: www.instagram.com/victoria_cornwallx
Like her on Facebook: Victoria Cornwall
Check out her website:  www.victoriacornwall.com

A little help from Jenson Button …

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On Tuesday we celebrated the paperback release of Kathryn Freeman’s racy new book Before You, which is set in the glamorous world of Formula One. Today we welcome Kathryn to the blog to talk a little bit about her inspiration for the novel – and the help she received from a certain Mr Button ;)  

On Tuesday morning you would have found me pushing a bottle of fizz into the fridge, ready for the evening (okay, you’ve twisted my arm. Lunchtime). Why? Because this week it was the paperback publication day for Before You, my book set in the world of Formula One. Unlike the drivers on the podium though, I made sure not to waste a drop of fizz!

Motorsport for some is nail biting. The thrill of watching drivers perform breath-taking manoeuvres at great speed, dicing with death. To others, watching cars go round and round the same track over and over again is simply one huge yawn. Whichever side of the fence you sit on though, I believe there is something seriously sexy about a man who sits in that driver’s seat, pitting his strength, his wit, his instincts against other drivers, and against the track. Indeed, my long time sporting hero, Jenson Button, is a real life sexy racing driver. Little did I realise when my husband (who works for a company who sponsor Jenson’s old team, McClaren) brought me home this cardboard cutout that it would inspire me to write a romance set in the word of Formula One.

Me and BY close up study

But the cutout sits by my desk and I automatically turn to it whenever words dry up – which can mean me spending a long time staring into Jenson’s blue eyes. I defy anyone not to be inspired to write about a sexy driver after that.

My fictional racing hero is Aiden Foster, who lives his life like he drives his cars, fast and hard. His father had been a racing driver, too, and by the time of his tragic death he’d won five World Championships. Aiden has yet to win one. He’s now with a new team and, with a few dollops of luck and no distractions, he believes this could be his year.

Of course this author isn’t about to make life that easy for him …

His first distraction comes in the form of Melanie Taylor, his new press officer. She’s more girl-next-door than the glossy, beautiful women Aiden’s used to, but he finds her refreshing. She’s sharp, funny, dresses down rather than up and has an ability to see through him that’s as admirable as it is scary. Just as he’s trying to work his way through his attraction to her, he finds himself on distraction overload when he gets a shock call from a boarding school.

I’m going to leave it there, and hope that whatever side of the motorsport fence you sit on, you’ll consider giving Before You a try.

Before You is now available as an eBook on all platforms and as a paperback from all good book retailers. For buying options click HERE.

For more on Kathryn visit:

 Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

Hero Material

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We’ve recently released the long-awaited Summer in San Remo by Evonne Wareham, which is the perfect fun and sunny read for this time of year! One of the many intriguing aspects of the book is the rather gorgeous hero Jake and Evonne is chatting a little bit about him on the blog today. You’ll definitely want to meet him by the end!

There was a debate here on the Choc Lit blog a while ago about the appeal of writing the Beta hero. My fellow authors who specialise in them made an excellent case – I wouldn’t expect anything less – and I can understand the appeal of a cute Beta in certain circumstances, but he’s not really the hero for me. Some of that may be because I like to write romantic suspense and with the situations I throw at my characters, you need an Alpha to get them out again – handy with fists, guns, cars. Maybe he’s not so good at sorting the recycling, but then it’s not that sort of book. I’m not sure where the fascination came from – possibly too many hours in my misspent youth watching TV shows like The Professionals and The A Team? Am I a closet adrenaline junkie who wouldn’t dream of getting her hands dirty in real life, but is quite happy to inflict it on her heroine – who is capable and independent and up to the challenge, but clear-sighted enough to know when to accept help from an expert? I’ve really no idea, but that’s the sort of guy I like to write and I’m stuck with him.

Except … now there is Summer in San Remo. I haven’t given up on writing romantic suspense, but this book is a departure from my usual style. It’s the start, I hope, of a series of summer sunshine reads. It’s a romantic comedy, with a very light dusting of crime and mystery, so the new hero on the block is not quite like the others. Jake – well, when the book opens, Jake is … disgustingly rich, gorgeously good-looking, mega confident … and if we’re being truthful, a bit of a jerk. (Heroine Cassie is nodding furiously in the background here.) He’s very, very sure of himself, but all that is set to change when he goes sleuthing with Cassie on the Riviera. It’s not the kind of book where he’s called on to rescue Cassie from anything too life-threatening – thinking about it, at the start he’d probably pay for her to have a body guard, rather than doing the job himself. But he is protective of her, although it takes a while for him to realise it. I had a lot of fun creeping up on him and getting him more and more enmeshed in loving Cassie, and changing in the process. He likes to be in control, which made it all the more fun getting him out of his comfort zone. Cassie gives him an excellent run for his money until finally the penny drops for both of them …

Is Jake an Alpha? Most definitely, although all his triumphs have been in the board room, not on the mean streets. He’s the hero for the job in hand, which is dealing with a mystery, not catching a killer.

I like to unsettle my Alphas by getting them into a relationship they have never experienced before. On that one, Jake is no different – he’s never been in love before. Or has he?

 Really, he’s only got himself to blame for the mess he’s in …

Summer in San Remo is available as an eBook on all platforms. For buying options click HERE.

For more on the author, you can follow her on Twitter @EvonneWareham

Or check out her blog: www.evonneonwednesday.blogspot.co.uk

A Tribute to Wuthering Heights: Girl in Red Velvet by Margaret James

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This week has seen the release of Margaret James’s long-awaited new novel – Girl in Red Velvet. The book is set in the sixties and miles away from the Yorkshire moors, but today on the Choc Lit blog, Margaret is talking about its similarities to one of her favourite works of fiction – Wuthering Heights!

This month, I’m delighted to have a new novel published by Choc Lit and to be able to tell you how I came to write it.

I’ve always loved Wuthering Heights, which was one of my favourite books when I was a teenager, and which remained a favourite throughout my twenties, thirties, forties and beyond.

As I have grown older, I have come to admire the novel and its creator even more than I did when I was young, impressionable and often drawn to attractive bad boys like the dangerous and terrifying but (to a starry-eyed teenager, anyway) irresistible Heathcliff.

How did a motherless girl living in a remote village in 19th century Yorkshire come to understand the power of such a horrible man? Who did she meet that inspired the wayward but charismatic Catherine Earnshaw? Did Emily Brontë know a real Edgar Linton, a man who was fatally drawn to the volatile Catherine while knowing all along that she was completely wrong for him? It’s taken me nearly fifty years, but at last I’ve got round to writing my own take on this difficult situation in my fan fiction tribute to one of my favourite classic novelists.

The three main characters in Girl in Red Velvet are just as flawed as those in Wuthering Heights. But nobody lives on the Yorkshire moors. Nobody is as wicked as Heathcliff, as difficult to love as Catherine or as saintly as Edgar Linton. I have given the stories of all three of my central characters – Lily Denham, Harry Gale and Max Farley – what I hope is a resolution that’s satisfying for the reader and also for them.

But, at the same time, I’ve tried to keep it real. I’m not Lily, but she says and does things I and many other women have said and done. She makes mistakes, she takes wrong turnings and she chooses unwisely. When things go wrong for Lily, it’s often because she consciously made a bad decision and then found she had to live with it. But she also tries to do the right thing, even though this is often hard.

As for Max and Harry – unlike Heathcliff and Edgar Linton, who are implacable enemies, Max and Harry are best friends. Then Lily comes between them. It soon looks as if it’s going to be impossible for any of them to find their personal happy-ever-afters. But I’ve tried to suggest a few possibilities. I hope I leave everyone in the places they want and deserve to be – and the reader with a smile on her face!

C-VCiZFXoAIKeB1Girl in Red Velvet is now available to purchase on all eBook platforms. Click the banner above for purchasing options.

For more information on Margaret James:
Follow her on Twitter: @majanovelist
Like her on Facebook: Margaret James Novelist
Check out her blog: www.margaretjamesblog.blogspot.co.uk

Who is the Girl on the Beach?

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In January we released Morton S. Gray’s fast-paced and suspenseful The Girl on the Beach, which is set in the fictional seaside town of Borteen. Today on the blog, Morton talks about her love for the seaside – and who ‘the girl on the beach’ might be … 

I do like to be beside the seaside … It’s quite apt that my debut novel is called The Girl on the Beach. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved being by the sea. A walk along the sand, especially with incoming waves, is good for the soul like nothing else on earth.

We used to holiday at the beach when I was a child, Tenby, Saundersfoot, Woolacombe, being amongst some of the resorts I remember. I’m the blonde one in the picture with my sister – didn’t I look sweet? I must be about nine here.

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Ironically, I probably live as far from the sea as you can get in England, but then maybe that is why it’s special for me to go to the coast.

There is nothing I love better than beachcombing, trawling the edge of the surf for interesting stones and sea glass. I’m fascinated by those who produce jewellery incorporating things found on the shore and I want to learn to set stones and glass into silver jewellery sometime very soon.

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Llandanawg, near Harlech, North Wales – Morton Gray with little white dog.

My favourite beaches these days are Bamburgh in Northumberland, Llandanawg, near Harlech in North Wales and Barricane Bay Beach at Woolacombe.

My fictional seaside town – Borteen, from The Girl on the Beach is an amalgamation of many seaside places I have visited. When we first meet my hero, Harry, he is disappointed that Borteen doesn’t have a surfing beach like those in Devon and Cornwall he’s used to. Ellie, the heroine, has her gallery in one of the alleyways off the High Street in the town and she loves the beach. A lot of the action in the book takes place on or around the sands and the promenade behind the beach.

I’m busy writing more books centred around this fictional seaside town and its beach, so I do hope my readers like the setting too. The sound of the waves and the wind near the shore, the smell of the sea, the soothing feel of the sea and sand on bare feet – I’m sighing just thinking about it!

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Bamburgh Sands, Northumberland

One of my favourite memories is sitting on the café steps above Barricane Beach in Woolacombe, sipping hot tea and watching the sun go down. That moment when the sun merges with the water is truly magical.

Who is the real girl on the beach? It’s me! In my heart, anyway.

The Girl on the Beach is available as an eBook on all platforms. Click HERE for buying options. 

 For more on Morton visit:

Website: www.mortonsgray.com

Twitter: @MortonSGray

Introducing a new imprint: Death by Choc Lit!

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Last week, we released the first book on our ‘Death by Choc Lit’ crime imprint; A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase. Today on the blog Clare introduces the imprint and talks a little bit about the ‘ingredients’ that went into the making of the first Death by Choc Lit novel …  

Death by Choc Lit? What flavour of novel is that?

I feel very honoured that the publication of my latest novel, A Stranger’s House also marks the launch of Choc Lit’s new imprint, Death by Choc Lit: gripping, edge-of-your-seat reads.

The tagline got me thinking about crime, mystery and suspense fiction, and the vast range of stories that fall under that banner. I know that all Death by Choc Lit titles will promise a healthy dose of suspense, but beyond that, the specific ingredients will vary. A Stranger’s House is a murder mystery, and within that, here’s my particular mix:

A developing relationship

I know you’d expect this from a Choc Lit title! Ruby, my heroine, has been through a rough time with her ex-partner, Luke, and she’s cautious about any new emotional entanglements. However, the intensity of the situation she finds herself in throws her feelings into confusion. And the person who stirs her interest is holding back a momentous secret.

A location with more to it than meets the eye

I chose to set this book in Cambridge, and have written a follow-up, featuring the same characters, that’s also set in the city. I’ve lived here for over twenty years now, and the place fascinates me. It’s achingly beautiful at times, and there’s something constantly melancholic and nostalgic about it. I think it’s because of the high proportion of students. If you stay and become grown-up in the city, you’re always conscious of the passing of time, and lost youth! Cambridge is also a place of contrasts. You get choirs singing Elizabethan madrigals from punts on the river, whist drunks deal drugs on the commons. It’s a small city too, and secrets travel fast. A high proportion of residents work for the university (I used to myself), and there are lots of connections you might not expect.

A mystery to unravel

I like stories where I’m presented with information that could, in principle, allow me to guess the identity of the villain. There are plenty of clues to work on in A Stranger’s House, so the book’s ideal for anyone who likes to indulge in some armchair sleuthing!

A tense climax

I’ve always loved books that mix the detective element with a gradual rise in danger, leading to a life-or-death climax before the action’s over, so that’s the format I follow in my novels.

Crime fiction can be gritty, dark and violent, and of course it can also be humorous and cosy. My novels tread the line between the two. I’m a big fan of Elly Griffiths’ books, and love her balance of life and relationships with sleuthing and suspense. I belong to the Crime Writer’s Association, and they ask their members to rate their offerings on a profanometer, and a platelet counter! I can say that my book is very low on bad language, and there’s no focus on the gore. To me, it’s the characters’ motivations and the mystery that are interesting, and the suspense and relationships that add the spice.

A Stranger’s House is now available on Kindle. Click on one of the links below to purchase.

Amazon UK    Amazon US    Amazon AU    Amazon CA

For more on Clare, follow her on Twitter @ClareChase_ or check out her blog.

DEATH BY CHOCLIT trans

Happy New Year and Happy Publication Day to Linda Mitchelmore!

The Christmas and New Year celebrations may be over but at least there’s still a year of Choc Lit novels ahead of you! Linda Mitchelmore is our first release of the year with Emma and Her Daughter (part three of her ‘Emma’ series) which is out TODAY! To celebrate, she talks new year’s resolutions on the Choc Lit corner  …

dscn03881It’s been a long, long time since I wrote a list of New Year Resolutions. I’ve been there, done that, failed miserably – were it a mark-able exercise I’d have got a D- every single time. Every January the first the list would be the same:-

  1. Lose weight
  2. Drink less wine (and everything else with an alcohol content)
  3. Exercise more
  4. Watch less TV
  5. Say ‘No!’ to things I really, really don’t want to do but which I feel I should
  6. Try a new experience – kayaking, Salsa dancing, playing chess – every month

Yawn, yawn, yawn. All very worthy but dull, dull, dull. When I became a writer there were other worthy things added to my list.

  1. Write 1000 (substitute number of choice) words every day
  2. Grow thicker skin to cope with rejection
  3. Send something out to a magazine/newspaper/agent/publisher every week
  4. Try writing in a genre that isn’t your preferred scenario

ARE YOU STILL AWAKE???? It’s all a bit mind-numbing, isn’t it? Doomed before we start. Why do we persevere? What’s the point? It’s like wearing sack cloth and ashes 24/7 and there are nicer things to wear than sacks.

If you’re going to make a list of resolutions you just know you’re unlikely to achieve then why not write something you KNOW you haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving? You’ve already accepted failure, haven’t you? A bit of a spoof on it all. A little dalliance with fantasy. The list could go something like this:-

  1. Next time Liam Neeson (substitute celeb pash of choice) rings up and asks you over to his, telling you to bring nothing but your lovely self and a toothbrush, say ‘Yes!’ and go.
  2. Sell every single thing you own that’s portable and buy diamonds with the proceeds
  3. Wear nothing in bed/when gardening/to the supermarket but above diamonds
  4. Ring the BBC and tell them you’re offering them first refusal on the rights to make a mini series of your novel
  5. Ring the BBC again to thank them for their acceptance and say you will do the scriptwriting, or else!
  6. Get an alligator for a …

You get my drift. But hang on … do I feel a novel coming on? How many words

A day was it I said, I’d do? Bye for now. Toodlepip …

Emma and her Daughter by Linda Mitchelmore CMYKFind out more about Emma and her Daughter and Linda’s other novels:

Linda’s Facebook

Linda’s Twitter: @LindaMitchelmor

Linda’s blog: Linda Short Stories

Emma and Her Daughter is available on Kindle:

Kindle Uk   Kindle US 

My New Book

Wow. Choc Lit have just sent me the cover design for my book Starstruck, due out in the Autumn. Bear with me a moment, while I stare at its loveliness….

Oh, what, you want to see it too? Oh, all right then. It’s a story about a woman who has no recent memories, due to brain damage. She is whisked off to Nevada by her best friend, to a Sci-Fi convention, where she meets…oh, I see what you’re trying to do here! Trying to get me to divulge the plot! Well, you’re just going to have to wait…

Isn't it beeeyyoooooootifull?

Isn't it beeeyyoooooootifull?