Tuesday 29 December 2015

Book Reviewer: Mahsuda Snaith

As part of our #diverseauthorday Greenacre Writers want to continue the trend and will be posting interesting books and linking to book reviewers. This one is just in time for #DiverseDecember.

Susmita Bhattacharya was born in Bombay, India in 1974. Addicted to writing from a young age she has published short stories in magazines such as Blue Tattoo and Planet and Poetry in Roundyhouse and Anterliwt. Her novel The Normal State of Mind deals with difficult subject matter of life in contemporary India. Susmita also has a blog on Her Writing Life.

The following quote is from a review written by Mahsuda Snaith for Jaggery Lit.

“Susmita Bhattacharya’s debut, The Normal State of Mind, is not your typical novel. Here is a book dealing with big subject matters—the limitations placed upon widowed women, the illegality of homosexuality in contemporary India, for example— that is also written with a lightness and fluidity that would rival any bestselling chick lit.

This is a book that deals with, what some might find, shocking subjects but does not aim to shock itself. It is a depiction of the ordinary lives of women dealing with an abnormal hostility for the lives they should be free to lead.”

Mahsuda Snaith, as well as an avid reader, is also an enthusiastic writer of short stories and plays and has written a novel called Ravine.  A winner of various competitions such as the Bristol Short Story Prize 2014 and the Mslexia Novel Competition 2013, Mahsuda also finds time to review books for magazines such as Jaggery Lit.

You can follow Susmita Bhattacharya on Twitter: @Susmitatweets

You can follow Mahsuda Snaith on Twitter: @mahsudasnaith

Sunday 13 December 2015

A Conversation with Caitlin Davies

Caitlin Davies was born in London in 1964. She wanted to be a writer from a young age. Both her parents are writers, but her mother in particular doesn’t think there is such a thing as a ‘writing gene’.

Whilst living in Botswana, Caitlin worked for Botswana’s first tabloid newspaper, The Voice. One of her earliest stories was tracking down a talking hippo. Caitlin said, 'The only problem was, I was so scared when I found it that I forgot to ask it a question.' She also worked as editor of The Okavango Observer, and won a Journalist of the Year Award, but the paper closed down shortly after she was arrested for ‘causing fear and alarm’. After 12 years in Botswana Caitlin returned to the UK.

Caitlin is the author of five novels, including The Ghost of Lily Painter (2011), which is is based in part on a true story - two Edwardian baby farmers who were hanged at Holloway Prison in
1903, you can read more about that here. Four books are set in Botswana: Jamestown Blues, (1996) a coming of age story about a girl growing up in a salt mine, The Return of El Negro, (2003) the true story of the body of a southern African man stolen from a grave in 1830 by two French naturalists, Place of Reeds, (2006) a memoir, and Black Mulberries, (2008) a tale of two feuding families during the birth of Moremi Game Reserve in the 1960s.

In the UK Caitlin has written for The Independent for several years, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications including: The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail. She has also written five non-fiction books, and several short stories. Caitlin is currently working as Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Westminster.

It's wonderful that Caitlin is shining a light on forgotten women's histories. We wish her the best of luck with the new books and look forward to reading her next novel which she is currently writing.

1. Tell us of your journey as a writer

It’s been quite a long journey…The first time I sent off a piece of writing for someone else to read was when I entered a Sunday Times short story competition at the age of 11. That was 40 years ago. I didn’t win but I got ‘commended’, which I tried to take as encouragement, even though I was gutted at the time.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I had my first book published and naively I thought things would then get easier. But with every book you’re starting from scratch, trying to convince other people it’s brilliant. I’ve now had 10 books published – 5 novels and 5 non-fiction books – although there are a fair number of other books that have been lost along the way.

2. How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?

I don’t think I’ve ever thought of having a role as a writer, but I like to entertain, to take people to another world, to tell a story that I don’t think has been told before. I particularly love uncovering the lost tales of women, whether Edwardian baby farmers or champion Victorian swimmers. The best thing is when someone says they missed their stop on the tube because they were so busy reading my book. You can’t get better than that.

3. Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?

Hmm, interesting question. No, I don’t think I have. But if I dislike a character that can be enjoyable in itself, especially if they get their comeuppance…

4. GW recently organised #diverseauthorday. What has been your experience of writing about characters of colour?

My first few books were set in Botswana so it seemed obvious to me that most of the characters would be black, while my first published novel was told from the perspective of a young mixed race girl. But getting these books published was hard. The Botswana publishing industry was tiny; I had a couple of near misses with South African publishers, and was eventually published in the UK.

But UK editors made it clear that they wanted central white characters, this was ‘more commercially viable’, and one even asked me ‘do black people read?’ How on earth are you supposed to respond to a question like that? I was told that my negative white characters were ‘stereotypes’ even though they were not. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first book (a memoir) that did really well had a central white character (i.e. me). That’s pretty depressing isn’t it?

More recently I wrote a novel about four childhood friends, the cover image showed four white women and when I pointed out one was black I was told ‘don’t worry, we’ll Photoshop and colour one of them in.’ I had a hard time trying to get the publishers to see how outrageous this was.

5. Do you think literature accurately reflects the diversity of society we have today?

The literature that is published certainly doesn’t! Nor does cinema. All children must grow up seeing themselves in stories.

6. If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?

Right now I’d be happy to be transported to Margate, the novel I’ve just finished opens in Margate in 1862 and the coastal landscape is stunning. I’d swim in the Walpole Bay tidal sea pool every morning, write the rest of the day, and have lashings of seafood and wine in the evening.

7. What advice do you have for would be novelists?

Develop a THICK impenetrable skin. Writing is very subjective, what some people love others hate so don’t take rejection too personally. Easier said than done! Keep going, enjoy it. Read a huge variety of books, try and pin point what you like/dislike about them and use that to drive you on. Also, get a ‘real’ job to pay the bills in the meantime.

8. What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?

Two things. A novel about a ‘champion lady swimmer of the world’, based on the careers of several women in Victorian times who were once incredibly famous and who are largely unheard of today. And a history of Holloway Prison in London, using biographies of prisoners and staff to tell a 150-year history of women, crime and punishment in the UK.

You can follow Caitlin on Twitter: @CaitlinDavies2

Friday 27 November 2015

Creeping Crawlers by Allen Ashley

Greenacre Writers tutor and award-winning editor Allen Ashley has a brand new book out called Creeping Crawlers 

This is an anthology of science fiction and horror stories centred on insects, worms, spiders… and other things which creep or crawl.

The book contains 19 stories; almost 400 pages.

Contributing authors include Dennis Etchison, Storm Constantine and John Grant as well as some newer voices.

The specially commissioned cover is by Steve Upham and it is published by Shadow Publishing (UK). The publishers are currently running a special offer which includes a limited edition souvenir postcard and envelope. Go to: http://www.shadowpublishing.co.uk/

You can follow Allen on Twitter:  @AllenAshleyUK

Read Allen's recent guest blog on: http://barneteye.blogspot.co.uk/

Sunday 22 November 2015

Sebitically Speaking: Reviewed by Mumpuni Murniati

Born in Ghana in 1975, Nana Awere Damoah is the author of four non-fiction books: Sebitically Speaking (2015), I Speak of Ghana (2013), Through the Gates of Thought (2010) and Excursions in my Mind (2008); and one fiction book, Tales from Different Tails (2011).

Sebitically Speaking

At dawn on Tema Motorway, a taxi driver goes along a nineteen‐kilometre stretch; half of the street lamps are out of order. At the same time he is dodging potholes with metal protruding, like a cat gnashing its teeth.

In the back seat the passenger, aware of the foreseeable dangers he’s facing, reflects: ‘Ghana is usually happy to be the first to hit a mark but we don’t do anything else beyond that, least of all maintaining the lead. We seem to have used all our allocation of creative ideas before 1966...’

To Nana Awere Damoah the motorway represents the state of his country’s development since her independence in 1957. Opened in 1965, it was one of the first motorways in Africa. Fifty years later it remains the only one. Nonetheless, it is not the only issue which tickles him: From education and social mobility to the Government’s absurd policies; from the running of the state-owned energy company to Sikaman’s customs, his musings list a number of developmental challenges still engulfing the Land of Gold. Sebitically Speaking deliberates on the unsolved and ongoing problems when it comes to meeting the basic rights for the citizens and attacks the politicians’ fixed mindset which hinders progress.

In his lucid and fervent narrations Damoah weaves in the wisdom of his enigmatic uncle Kapokyikyi, enthralled by the old man’s liberating mantra ka na wu : speak your mind and damn any consequences. ‘If a big mouth was the requirement for being a Catholic priest, the pig would be a cardinal,’ he says on one occasion. On another he enquires of the Chieftain as to whether he knew that his subjects were calling him ‘Comfort’ because he didn't crack a whip. Although he would say ‘sϵbi‐sϵbi’ beforehand – Akan’s phrase asking for permission to speak bluntly over a matter.

With humour bordering on irony Damoah is far from shy to admit that some problems depicted have gone from bad to worse. Thus, Sebitically Speaking, if half of the roofs in a primary school are gone after a storm, expect the government to fix them ‐ eventually. For a ‘deadline is on wheels’ is the norm – so, it is either: through a social media campaign the roofs return shipshape in five months’ time or wait. Also, Sebitically Speaking, if a road construction which began in 2007 is still uncompleted, consider it as an on‐going project. For one minute in Ghana Man Time (GMT) is a hundred seconds.

Be that as it may, Damoah’s comparison of his countrymen’s attitude with the neighbouring Nigeria is intriguing. From the traffic arrangement to voting for their next president, he expounds his views in the decision‐making process involved and points out the similarities in the results.

The drawback of the book seems to be its target reader. It may be easier for Ghanaians and West Africans to laugh at Damoah’s satirical illustrations, given their knowledge on both political and cultural contexts. Non‐African readers nonetheless may require background information on Ghanaian history and culture and therefore fleshing out some chapters, particularly for a certain custom, is in order. What’s more, selective use of Akan words will help the flow of the writing; having too often to refer to footnotes to find the meaning of a phrase can be quite taxing.

In the end, the book’s explorations on growth versus fixed mindset encompass race and ethnic groups. Damoah nails down the need to change attitude to move forward. The book may be about a West African country, but I suppose in every country in the world, regardless of economic growth, the dynamics of developmental issues and challenges bear resemblances.

Next time while driving on the A1 Northbound after dark, take a few minutes to imagine how it would be if the street lamps were not working, or remember what is was like to be stuck overnight in 2009’s blizzard.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Book Reviewer - Tony Malone

As part of our #diverseauthorday Greenacre Writers want to continue the trend and will be posting interesting books and linking to book reviewers.

Danish poet and writer Naja Marie Aidt was born in 1963. Her first book of poetry While I’m Still Young, was published in 1991 prompting Aidt into full time writing shortly after. She won the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 2006 for her short story collection Baboon and first novel Rock, Paper, Scissors(2015) was translated from the Danish by K E Semmel.

The following quote is from a review written by Tony Malone for WORDS without BORDERS:

“With many readers praising Naja Marie Aidt’s short story collection Baboon (Two Lines Press; translated by Denise Newman), it was not a huge surprise to see the efforts of writer and translator alike rewarded with the PEN Translation Prize earlier this year. Those who enjoyed Aidt’s slices of the darker side of life will be happy to see her vision extended over a broader canvas in her first novel, Rock, Paper, Scissors (Open Letter; translated by K.E. Semmel). This book is centered on the extravagantly-named Thomas O’Mally Lindström, the owner of an upmarket stationery supplies shop, with the story starting after his father, Jacques, an inveterate criminal, has passed away in prison while awaiting trial for an unspecified crime.

Tony Malone has been reviewing works of literary fiction in translation for over six years and has reviewed over seven hundred books. His site Tony’s Reading List comprises reviews on books originally written in German, French and Japanese and is expanding to works from Korea.

You can follow Tony Malone on Twitter:   @tony_malone 

Sunday 1 November 2015

A Conversation with Katarina Bivald

Katarina Bivald grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves she can get by her. She's currently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unneccessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparantly, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bath room to store books.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of getting lost in books, about learning from and possibly even hiding behind them. And one of the questions at its heart is whether or not books are better than real life or real relationships

The Readers of Broken Wheel has touches of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Chocolat, but adds an eccentric Swedish originality and intelligence all its own. It is a celebration of books and the bookworm. The descriptions of Broken Wheel are so lifelike that somebody once asked if Bivald had ever visited Iowa: "I just made it all up. In fact, When I wrote the book, I had never even been to the US, let alone Iowa. The only thing I knew about Iowa when I began was that they once had a library cat named Dewey Readmore Books"

Katarina Bivald sometimes claims that she still hasn't decided whether she prefer books or people but, as we all know, people are a non-starter. Even if you do like them, they're better in books. Only possible problem: reading a great book and having no one to recommend it to. But, of course now we have social media so never have to speak to a real live person ever again!

The Readers of Broken Wheel is a beautifully written book and we wish Katarina much fictional good luck with its future and look forward to the patter of tiny text in the not too distant future.

1. Tell us of your journey as a writer

I have always known I wanted to write, and somehow, I have always known that one day, I’d get a book published. It’s been a dream of mine so long that I never doubted it would come true. But then again, I never really worked on it either. Oh, I wrote. I started ideas. Gave up. Got a new one. Wrote for a weekend, or a week, or a few nights. Moved on to another idea. I studied and I worked and somehow I spent the least time and energy on the one dream that really mattered to me. I wonder if that’s not often the case in life? So one day I sat down, and I said to myself: pick any idea you like, it doesn’t have to be a great one, write a book, it definitely doesn’t have to be good. It will never be published. But write from Chapter 1 to The End and finish something.

Since I only wrote for practice, I decided to fill it with everything I like in books. And I like small American towns, quirky characters, unexpected friendships, books and love.

2. How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?

I want to write books that people put down with a smile after reading it; that makes people feel that life is more strange, fun, quirky and warm-hearted.

Otherwise, I don’t really know anything anymore about what a writer should be or do. I used to have very firm ideas on it. A writer should entertain, take responsibility towards her readers, write only great books but at least one a year, and whatever else, never experiment. Just focus on the readers and do their job. I need hardly say that I feel slightly different about it since becoming a writer myself…

My characters. That’s what I like most about writing. Writing is basically a socially acceptable way of having imaginary friends as a grown up. And if the book gets published, it’s like having imaginary friends that other people can suddenly see and relate to and have as their own friends.

3. Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?

Yes. He makes all the wrong decisions for partly the right reasons and suffers as a consequence – I identify with him, I understand him, I suffer with him, but I can’t bring myself to like him. I can’t even give him a happy ending. He just refuses to be happy. Although it’s not entirely his fault, but he refuses the small chances of happiness that he gets. I’m still not sure if I’ll ever be able to write the book. And if I do, I’ll probably have to use a pseudonym.

4. If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?

At the moment, Chiloquin, in Klamath County, Oregon. But like Sara in my book I don’t have a driving license for cars, so small American towns is somewhat impractical.

5. What is the one book you wish you had written?

Fried Green Tomatoes at Whistle Stop Café. It’s a wonder of a book. And I would have loved to get to know Idgie. But it’s also such a great book that I’m deeply grateful that I did not write it, but just get to enjoy it.

6. What advice do you have for would be novelists?

Write the same way you like to read. I often like to read for escapist purposes, to go some place else and meet other people, experience other things, make things up – so that was how I wrote The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. I had never even been to Iowa when I wrote it, but I could sit in my apartment in Sweden, look out on our pine trees and birches and see corn fields. And I could sit at a bar, talking to some acquaintances from work, and hear my characters answer instead. 

7. What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?

My second book has just been published in Sweden – Life, Motorcycles and Other Impossible Projects. It takes place in a small, fictive, Swedish town and features Anette, a single mom who starts taking motorcycle lessons when her only daughter moves away to study in another town. So at the moment, I’m toying with the idea for my third book – looking out over the small pine trees and birches outside my apartment and seeing the trees, mountains and lakes of Oregon. Or possible Idaho. I’m not sure.

You can follow Katarina on Twitter: @katarinabivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is published by Chatto and Winduspart of Vintage Publishing.

Saturday 17 October 2015

A conversation with Lucy Cruickshanks

Lucy Cruickshanks was born in 1984 and raised in Cornwall, UK. She holds a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Warwick and an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. She lives on the south coast of England and divides her time between writing and caring for her two young sons.

Lucys’ love of travel inspires her writing. A great fan of the underdog, she’s drawn to countries with troubled recent histories, writing about periods of time when societies are at their most precarious and fraught with risk. She’s fascinated by their uniqueness and moral ambiguity, and in capturing the people who must navigate them.

Her debut novel, The Trader of Saigon, began life after she sat beside a man on a flight who made his fortune selling women. It was shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and the Guardian Not The Booker Prize, longlisted for the Waverton Goodread Award and named a Top Ten Book of 2013 by The Bookbag. If you want to learn more about Lucy's first book, Simon Savidge, the man behind Savidge Reads, reviews it here.

Patricia Highsmith, Amitav Ghosh and George Orwell have all influenced Lucy’s writing, but her favourite books are Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard and Life of Pi by Yann Martel. In an article for Writers and Artists, Lucy talks about the importance of setting in novels, and what it can tell readers about your characters too: Creating a Memorable Sense of Place in Your Writing

We wish Lucy oodles of good fortune with her new book The Road to Ragoon. Described by the South China Morning Post as “Exotic, dangerous, slippery, enjoyable, well-written…” This emotional thriller takes place in the heart of Burma's exotic Rubyland. Three lives are thrown together by the desperate choices they make to survive in a country gripped by civil war.

1. Tell us of your journey as a writer

My husband persuaded me to write my first novel, The Trader of Saigon. Like a lot of people, I suspect, I had been saying ‘I want to write a book for as long as I could remember, but without ever picking up a pen. I’d been bouncing between jobs that I struggled to get excited about, and travelling as far and as frequently as I could to try to escape them. He encouraged me to think about writing and travelling differently, and to see that I could make these things my career if I stopped procrastinating, took a risk and actually wrote something. I left my job, enrolled on the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in the UK, and gave myself a year to write a novel and get a publishing deal. Of course, this was wildly optimistic, but at the end of the year I had a first draft, and real drive to see just how far I could go.

2. How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?

I think of being a writer as a job. It’s a wonderful job, though maddening at times, but calling it a role implies some sort of higher responsibility, which I’m not sure I feel. I write the stories I’m excited and inspired by and hope others will be interested to read them too. That said, I love the sense of adventure at the start of a new novel, where anything you can imagine is possible. I love research. I love the detail of language, of choosing words to build sentences, paragraphs and chapters along the way as I try to create the most evocative places and people that I can, and provoke emotions in the reader, be they horror or joy. I love the sense of accomplishment when you look at the finished beast and think: YES.

3. Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?

Absolutely. If anything, it’s what I strive to do. My novels are set in morally ambiguous worlds – post-war societies riven by poverty, corruption and violence – where it’s far too simplistic to pitch ‘good’ against ‘bad’. Living in the West, it can become easy to see the world as very black and white – to filter what is right and wrong through a privileged viewpoint as we generally live such comfortable lives. My protagonists don’t ever have this comfort, and their decisions of morality are rarely clear cut. They have been described as ‘slippery’, but really they’re caught between opposing sides, stretching the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ behaviour and doing what they must in order to survive. It may not always make them most conventionally likeable, but I hope it makes them authentic too.

4. If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?

I have two sons – a toddler and a newborn – so in truth I’d be happy with anywhere tidy and quiet. A sea view would be a bonus, though.

5. What is the one book you wish you had written?

There isn’t a single book I wish I had written, but there are certainly several authors I would like to emulate. One of my favourite novelists is Patricia Highsmith. I love the darkness of her wit, and the way she creates genuine anti-heroes and somehow leaves you rooting for characters that are utterly deplorable. Amitav Ghosh’s mastery of language is a joy. The way he can capture the essence of a time and place continually astounds me. I admire George Orwell for how he champions the underdog and his caustic judgments on the nature of power. Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is a triumph too. How he manages to make three hundred pages of a boy alone on a boat so captivating is a wonder to behold.

6. What advice do you have for would be novelists?

Don’t romanticise it. Writing is a skill as much as it is natural ability, so the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Read lots. Research thoroughly. Seek feedback, but learn to separate subjective criticism from the things you really need to have a hard look at. Make sure you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be precious. Draft and redraft. Persevere.

7. What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?

The novel I’m currently working on is set in Cambodia, against the backdrop of the trial of Comrade Duch, the first senior ranking Khmer Rouge official to be charged with atrocities committed under the Pol Pot regime. It’s early days and a long road ahead of me, but I’m excited to be working on something new.

You can follow Lucy on Twitter: @LJCruickshanks

The Road to Ragoon is published by Heron Books, an imprint of Quercus.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Five Crucial Things You Need to Know about writing a book

Greenacre Writers Guest Blog by Lisa Cherry

About two years ago I was standing in front of a small group giving a talk about the book I had just written when someone asked the question “how many books do you think you will write?” Without a thought, I replied “12”. I almost had to turn around to see who this person was that was answering questions on my behalf like that.
So there we have it. I am to write 12 books it seems and as I am just about publish book number 3 I thought a reflection on how I’ve made this happen to so far would be useful for anyone out there thinking about embarking on this journey of writing!
1.       It’s a project. If writing a book were only about the writing, I might attempt one every six months. You need a robust and tolerant team and the skill to pull it all together. As a guide, if you’re self-publishing, at the very least you need:

·         A proof reader (you can’t do this yourself even if you proof read)
·         An editor (you also can’t do this even if you’re an editor, you’re too close)
·         An isbn number or publisher
·         A designer (are you a graphic designer?)
·         A book cover creator (are you an artist)
·         A printer (do you have the machinery?)

2.      You’re not shit. It’s important that you know that the little voice in your ear telling you that no-one would want to read your stuff anyway, isn’t real. Give it a name and tell it to go away please, as you’re busy.

3.      Your book is now your business. Unless one of the big 6 publishers has published you, you’re going to be marketing your own books whether you self-publish or are published by a small firm. They are likely to want to see what sort of a ‘platform’ you have before they even look at your work and the developing of your platform needs to start long before the book is published.

4.      You need to able to set clear boundaries in your personal life.  Writing a book means people have to understand that you’re not available in the same way as you might have been before. Chances are that you’re doing this alongside the rest of your other life/work so ‘leave me alone, I’m writing’ needs to be understood for what it is and not taken personally.

5.      Writing a book will take you on an emotional journey, a professional self-styled degree in all things book writing, marketing and publishing and a personal learning opportunity you could never have imagined possible. Put it this way; it’s not for the feint hearted but if you want to be part of something that is a game-changer, then writing a book might be just what you’re looking for!

Friday 9 October 2015

Book Reviewer - A Life in Books

As part of our #diverseauthorday Greenacre Writers want to continue the trend and will be posting interesting books and linking to book reviewers.

Nellallitea "Nella" Larsen, born Nellie Walker (April 13, 1891 – March 30, 1964), was an American novelist of theHarlem Renaissance. First working as a nurse and a librarian, she published two novels—Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929)—and a few short stories.

As part of #diverseauthorday, A Life in Books posted details of Nella Larsen's writing and novellas:

"Recently published in a single volume, Quicksand and Passing are the only two novels – well novellas, really – written by Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen. They each deserve to be treated separately so I’ll start with Quicksand and save Passing for later. Written in 1928, it’s widely considered to be an autobiographical novel – like the book’s main protagonist, Larsen was the daughter of a Danish mother and a West Indian father – knowledge that makes reading it all the more chilling."

Find out more about Quicksand and Passing from A Life in Books here.

A Life in Books picks out snippets of book news that interest her and hopefully others, She discusses some of the books and alert readers to titles that might not find themselves in the glare of the publicity spotlight. She tends to tweet about literary fiction and interesting debuts.

You can follow A Life in Books on Twitter: @alifeinbooks 

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Sun, Moon, Planets and Stars Spoken Word Celebration

“Sun, Moon, Planets and Stars Spoken Word Celebration”. Hosted by Allen Ashley. At Alexandra Park Library, London N22. 1pm to 3pm on Sunday 18 October 2015.

Allen Ashley is hosting a themed reading at Alexandra Park Library, N22. Sarah Doyle is the featured reader. Free entry. Featured reader: Sarah will be reading from “Dreaming Spheres: Poems of the Solar System” (PS Publishing). Readers are invited to read one or two poems or a short piece of writing up to 250 words on the Sun, Moon, Stars and Planets theme. Your own or someone famous.

To book a reading space, email: 
with the subject line: “Sun, Moon, Planets, Stars Reading”.

The venue is on the 102, 299 and 184 bus routes. The 102 runs from East Finchley. The library is close to Muswell Hill and walkable from Bounds Green tube station. The 221 runs from North Finchley to Bounds Green. On road parking is available on Sundays. So, I would be grateful if you could let Greenacre Writers know and ask them to get in touch with me if they would like to read. If they just want to turn up and listen, that would be great as well.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Shame and Scandal

Albany Theatre London SE8 4AG
Friday 9th and Saturday 10th October 2015

Shame and Scandal is a dark comedy written by Alex Wheatle MBE and directed by Lunga Yeni. The inspiration for the play comes from a calypso/reggae song performed by The Wailers in the 60's.

The setting is Jamaica in the 1960’s. Milton and Diana are affluent Jamaicans who find themselves embroiled in a struggle to hold onto the family wealth when their son, Michael, returns home with his determined wife-to-be Sophia.

 As family conflict ensues damning secrets are revealed and lies are uncovered which threaten the stability of the family, altering their lives immeasurably. Full of twists and turns the play promises a very entertaining evening

Alex is a well-known writer of young adult fiction with eight books published. His latest, Liccle Bit, was released in March 2015 to excellent reviews. Alex was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008.

You can follow Alex on Twitter: @brixtonbard

Thursday 1 October 2015

Reflections from #diverseauthorday

A week ago today, something quite amazing happened. A small group of writers and readers got together and began tweeting about diversity, mainly authors and books. #diverseauthorday began trending on Twitter and this continued throughout the day. According to the stats, there were over 5,000 tweets that reached over 3,000,000 million people throughout the world.

The main engagement was from the UK and the USA, but we also reached Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Jamaica, The Bahamas, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabe, Botwana, Ghana, The Gambia, Uganda, Egypt, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, China (Yes!), Japan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Greece, Bosnia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Spain, and Portugal. This is pretty amazing and means that #diverseauthorday pretty much impacted all over the world. This is significant because the key message of the day was that the literature of the world should reflect the people of the world. And in the UK, what we particularly wanted, was for publishers to recognise the public's demand for diverse literature.

Jodi Picault tweeted that every day should be #diverseauthorday. Most people were in agreement that this was one of the key messages. Greenacre Writers will continue to include writers of the world on our website. It has been a huge learning curve for us, not only by initiating such a popular concept but also taking part in promoting diversity in literature. We are more aware than ever of supporting authors of the world, experimenting with our reading and trying new genres.

Mary Okon Ononokpono, writer and illustrator, ‏@iammissmary
"We won't see more representation of diverse authors until diversity is fully embraced within publishing. That means more non white agents, editors and publishers. That's where the real problem lies. As Viola Davis so eloquently put it, it's lack of opportunity. The lack of availability of diverse books isn't down to a lack of diverse authors, or indeed a lack of talent. I long for the day I enter waterstones and see my children's books displayed or see a central children's display featuring a non White protagonist. I think we're still quite a way from that."

A disabled schoolboy, Frankie, 14, asked Bloomsbury head why book villains ‘are usually deformed’, and says ‘society would get better’ if disabled characters were naturally included. And he's right. A scar or a limp for the baddy or some other disfigurement and it gives the wrong impression of disability.

Megan Winchester, YA Book Blogger and Vlogger, @BookAddictdGirl
"...like so many of us, I am desperate to see more diversity in YA books. But whilst I want to see all diversity (sexuality, ethnicity, etc), seeing more characters with disabilities is really important to me. Why? Well, some of you might know I'm a wheelchair user – I have been since the age of about twelve. And therefore I am desperate for more characters in wheelchairs or with missing limbs or who have non-terminal medical conditions – anything. But I want books where these disabilities aren't 'The Issue' and where there are all kinds of other diversities too."

Unfortunately, like many of the big UK publishing houses, Bloomsbury did not take part in #diverseauthorday even though it was trending most of the day. We were astounded and disappointed that more publishing houses did not take part.

However, one of the largest UK publishing houses did. Harper Collins @HarperCollinsUK tweeted that they were "proud to publish some remarkable voices from across the cultural spectrum".

The whole day started because of the lack of diversity in the publishing industry following the Spread the Word, Writing the Future: Black and Asian Authors and Publishers in the UK Market Place report, so it seems almost ironic that the majority didn't take part.

It would be interesting to find out why this is and it would be good if collectively, we ask them via Twitter, why this is the case. GW asked this question and are waiting to hear from Bloomsbury and Penguin. It's so important to continue the dialogue. Please do contact us via Twitter or by email if you hear from any of the major British publishers re diversity in literature.

#diverseauthorday writers and readers helped to make the event the fantastic global success that it was. Here are some of their reflective thoughts:

Alan Wylie, Librarian and campaigner, @wylie_alan
"The portrayal of disability in children’s books has important implications for everyone, disabled or not. Disabled people in books are almost always heroes or villains, almost never real ‑ never whole people with varied lifestyles and personalities."

Miriam Halahmy, Writer, @MiriamHalahmy
"Diverse author day worked for me because it stimulated a huge range of responses from the downright critical to the wildly enthusiastic. The debate has been thrown wide open by this invigorating Twitter day and has made an important contribution to the shift towards diversity which is needed across the industry."

Sunny Singh, Writer, @sunnysingh_nw3
"One measure of social media success is the alacrity with which structurally privileged voices chip in on a hashtag to undermine and attempt to hijack the discussion. #diverseauthorday attracted such naysayers early in the morning, even before it had begun trending. However the few naysayers were drowned out by an overwhelmingly positive response to the hashtag. While it is sad that such an initiative is needed in 2015, it is also important to note that the response also indicates immense hunger (and market) for diverse books that Britain's publishers and agents should take into account. On a personal note, I am delighted to have an even longer list of recommended reads brought to my attention by #diverseauthorday."

Irenosen Okojie, Writer, @IrenosenOkojie
"It was a great launch and platform. Lots of writers I know got involved and it was even trending on twitter at one point. Good to have Harper Collins involved. My recommendations for the next one is to have more focused and strategic marketing in the lead up to the day which would result in even greater awareness. Things like the call to arms of mobilizing people to buy a book on that day. Concrete actions that will make a difference and really help ensure some headway is achieved. There should also be a call to arms to publishers, challenging them to contribute to the day. Perhaps one could run a micro fiction competition which suits twitter as a medium or run an open forum about what they can do better as publishers to ensure the industry reflects the capital more. I also think we should get bookshops tweeting about it and maybe encourage them to display a diverse range of books on the day in their windows / on tables etcetera. Finally, target a big celebrity from the wider world who really loves book and has an interest in diversity. Get them to champion it and spread the word on twitter, to their mates."

Naomi Frisby, PhD Studen and Blogger, @Frizbot
"It was brilliant to see #diverseauthorday trending on twitter. So many people discussing a wide range of authors who don't often, if at all, get their time in the spotlight. Quite rightly some people used the hashtag to remind us that every day should be diverse author day, that people don't disappear just because the focus isn't on them. What I'd like to see come out of this is an equivalent to #readwomen where people can share books they've loved by writers of colour/LGBT writers/differently abled writers/working class writers until it becomes the norm and we read, recommend and discuss books by these groups as though they were simply part of our culture, just as they should be."

Danuta Kean, Books Editor of Mslexia, publishing expert and journalist, @danoosha
"It was fantastic to see so many BAME authors getting highlighted on Twitter. It showed the breath and diversity of writers out there. The fact that the hashtag was trending at number two also shows that claims that writers of colour are 'niche' and that there isn't a wide audience for their work is utter rubbish. I wish more big publishers would realise this. You have to wonder about their care or commitment to having lists that truly appeal to modern society when, of the top five publishers, only HarperCollins UK joined in the campaign. I found that not just depressing but inexcusable when they are all signed up to Equip - the Publishers' Association's diversity charter - and have made open declarations about it since the publication of Writing The Future was published in April.
There was some concern, I know, about the label 'diverse authors', but my hope is that days like this will act to banish the need for such campaigns and focus minds on having a literary culture that reflects our diverse society and not something from the 1950s."

Savita Kalhan, Writer, @savitakalhan
"The success of #diverseauthorday was best illustrated by the fact that the hashtag was trending on Twitter. It was a clear indication of the number of people who felt that there was something missing in the books they find in bookshops and in libraries. That something is the absence of 'otherness', or the underrepresentation of black, asian, minority ethnic, (BAME), LGBT, and disabled characters in contemporary fiction. There is clearly an overwhelming need and desire for greater inclusiveness, and I'm not talking about the type of books which simply nod in the direction of diversity with all its outdated racial stereo-typing. That kind of box-ticking is not what diversity means.
But is anyone listening?
The publishing industry is 97% white. Who's looking into the mirror they're holding up?"

Nikesh Shukla, Writer, @nikeshshukla
"#diverseauthorday was an excellent way to make noise for a subject that's close to my heart - making the universal less straight white male middle class etc. Calling it diverse author day did make me think a lot about the word diversity and what it implies. The focal point was race, which is important, but it did overshadow other elements of the intersectional spectrum. What we learned is, a group of disgruntled writers can make noise, and if more publishers, agents, publicists, got involved to recognise the problem and do something about it, rather than assume they are not the problem, maybe we'd have more than a day. And I can get on with the business of normalising my experience rather than celebrating my diversity."

Joy Francis, Executive Director, Words of Colour Productions, @WordsofColour
"Why should we be surprised that #diverseauthorday was so successful? It is indicative of the persistent disconnect between mainstream publishers, writers of colour and, more importantly readers. The prevailing idea that if you are non-white you will be unlikely to buy books by writers of colour is continually disproved, yet many mainstream publishers continue to dance around the reality that their job is to give readers choice. People want stories - good ones, great ones, unusual ones, shocking ones, ones that move them and ones that inform them. Many of the trending tweets during the day contained details of books and authors who were under many people’s radars. It also served as a timely reminder that if publishers still struggle to get their heads around race and ethnicity, what about intersectionality as a whole? As shown by Spread the Word's Writing the Future report, writers of colour are no longer waiting for publishers to wake up and and smell the proverbial coffee. HarperCollins's contribution to the debate isn't a surprise as it is one of the few publishers to have publicly taken on the report’s findings. Digital platforms are giving writers greater freedom and, as shown by the global engagement with the #diverseauthorday hashtag, they are also allowing writers to connect with readers directly. As well as Spread the Word we are working with Arvon and the Arts Council England to identify, support and help writers of colour shape and sustain their careers. We are also championing the independents, such as Jacaranda Books. There are other exciting developments being hatched behind the scenes, which I cannot divulge for now. What is clear is that change is afoot - and about time."

Rosie Canning, PhD Student, Blogger and Campaigner, @rosie_canning
"When I read the Spread the Word report, I felt the same way I do whenever I hear about injustice and discrimination. What I didn't realise was that September 24th, was to be significant and not just for #diverseauthorday. It was also my PhD induction day at the University of Southampton! Somehow I managed both events. I was absolutely delighted by the interest and engagement from the Twitter world. As with other campaigns I've been involved in Save Friern Barnet Library and Every Child leaving Care Matters, it demonstrates yet again what a small group of committed individuals can achieve when they come together and blast the world with their positivity."

Greenacre Writers would like to thank all the writers and readers ^above^ as well as:
Alex Wheatle,Writer, @brixtonbard, 
Emma Hutson, Writer and PhD Student, @Emma_S_Hutson, 
Susan Osborne, Book Reviewer and Blogger, @alifeinbooks, 
Lindsay Bamfield, Writer and Blogger, @LindsayBamfield 
and everyone throughout the world who took part in #diverseauthorday. We look forward to reading and learning more and more about authors and literature of the world. 

If you have any questions, contact us via email: greenacrewriters@gmail.com

Wednesday 23 September 2015

A Conversation with Nikesh Shukla

Nikesh Shukla is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Meatspace, which according to The Guardian, captures a cultural moment, 'Like Douglas Coupland's Generation X'. 'Buzzing with streetwise smarts and satirical barbs, it's a thoughtful, often hilarious, meditation on a young writer's loneliness in the digital age.' Independent on Sunday. 

His debut novel, Coconut Unlimited was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011. Metro described it as '…a riot of cringeworthy moments made real by Shukla’s beautifully observed characters and talent for teen banter'. In 2011, Nikesh co-wrote a non-fiction essay about the riots with Kieran Yates called Generation Vexed: What the Riots Don't Tell Us About Our Nation's Youth. In 2013, he released a novella about food, called The Time Machine, donating all his proceeds to Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. This won Best Novella at the Sabotage Awards. He also wrote the short film Two Dosas and the Channel 4 sitcom Kabadasses.

We're so pleased that Nikesh agreed to be interviewed and especially at such short notice, and all so that we could include him in #diverseauthorday. We think you'll agree that his answers are not just interesting but funny too. And we're lucky to have caught him before he dashes off to be a stand-up comic!

1. Tell us of your journey as a writer

Well, I spent much of my twenties avoiding spending the amount of time you should spend writing to get good at it because I was trying to be a rapper. I was in a bunch of bands, I rapped above pubs, outside record shops, made bland political statements and I was okay. I was just okay. So when the realisation that I was only ever going to be okay set in, I turned my attention to writing. I started with a bunch of short stories with a loose narrative, thought I was a genius because it was the first thing I’d ever properly written. I then wrote something else, was gutted that its genius wasn’t recognised, and then I sat down to write Coconut Unlimited, which I knew I loved, instantly, and I knew it would get published, and I knew it was an important book for me, because it was easy to write. Not that there weren’t difficult times, but because I had the resilience to bash through those difficult times. And then, after a lot of rejection and persistence, and weird comments (see this blog here: http://www.writerscentrenorwich.org.uk/nationalconversationfourexamplesofdiversityinpublishingbynikeshshukla.aspx) it eventually got published, and now I can’t stop, won’t stop.

2. How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?

It’s frivolous. What I’m doing isn’t important in any way other than I’m providing, I hope, entertainment to readers. I’m not writing stone cold classics. I’m not answering the important questions of our time (although I do ask questions important to me in all of my work). I’m doing it because I enjoy writing and I enjoy reading. I enjoy making people laugh and laugh and I enjoy the ability to tell them an emotional story that they laugh all the way through until the end when I give them something poignant to hold on to. And that’s not clever or big or intellectual or important, it’s frivolous. The most important thing I do is, as a brown author who doesn’t write frangipani literature with all the tropes and stereotypes people have come to expect of South Asian authors, I exist. I am here. And I defy the stereotypes of what is expected of authors from the South Asian Diaspora. And because I do that simply by being alive, that’s good enough for me.

3. Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?

Yes. Aziz in Meatspace is a horrendous person. He’s the embodiment of the douche bro culture online, like the utterly morally bereft idiot men pulling pranks on YouTube or railing against women in comments or being all high five-y about sports on Saturdays on Twitter. That’s him, really. He’s the embodiment of all that. But he’s also fearless and funny and fun and I like his voice. I’d probably be friends with him but wonder why a lot.

4. If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?

The window box in the Pervasive Media Studio in the Watershed where I work for my dayjob. I edit a magazine there. The window box is a little table encased in light, and it hides away from the rest of the studio. I do a lot of thinking there.

5. What is the one book you wish you had written?

The book I’m writing now. I wrote two novels avoiding writing this one, because it’s so personal, which is a joke because people tend to assume my work’s really autobiographical. I’m writing it now because I’m ready to feel good enough to write it.

6. What advice do you have for would be novelists?

The abundance of writing tips out there should tell you one thing. No one knows anything. If they did, there would only be one book of writing tips. Find the writing tips that work for you. Find the schedule that works for you. But remember, regularity is key, and if regularity, for you, means writing in the same slot every day/week, bloody do it, mate.

7. What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?

A book for teens, two television projects, a film project, another film project, my next book for adults, and an instructional guide for my daughter about life.

8. A diverse book I’d recommend 

Family Life by Akhil Sharma. It’s wonderful. It deals with the immigrant experience, alcoholism, depression and being a carer in a family with someone with a disability so well. It’s weird, funny, strange, concise and utterly emotionally destroying. It’s brilliant.

You can follow Nikesh on Twitter: @nikeshshukla 

Friday 18 September 2015

Rawblood by Catriona Ward

Book Review by Greenacre Writer, Carol Sampson

Catriona Ward was born in Washington, DC and now lives in London working for a human rights foundation. Rawblood is her first novel and is released on 24th September 2015.

Rawblood is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Iris Villarca is eleven years old and, against her father’s instructions, has one friend – Tom Gilmore. It is 1910 and Iris lives alone with her father at Rawblood, a magnificent mansion on Dartmoor. They are the only two remaining in the Villarca line. Iris is told that a congenital disease, Horror autotoxicus, runs in the family and she is forbidden to have friends of any sort in order to avoid courting the disease. This is just one of the rules laid down by her father.  It is only when Iris grows older and realises her father has lied that she dares to fall in love and the full force of the Villarca curse becomes apparent.

Through the halls of Rawblood she walks. A malevolent and sinister spirit with a disturbing agenda. She will not rest until she has achieved her purpose but what does she want from the Villarcas? Why does she torment all those who get close?

This chilling novel, full of terror and menace, is also infused with all the human emotions of love and devotion, betrayal and hate. It is grim and at the same time poignant. Harrowing yet engaging. The language is poetically descriptive.

“The Villarca blood is dark and strong. The Villarca temper is furious, sublime; full of poetry and madness. We seek the light, ever…but we never find it.”

This Gothic novel, with its supernatural theme, is told from the viewpoint of multiple characters and the past is thread into the nine years through which Iris’ story spans. It moves through various time periods in irregular order, which does require a degree of concentration to follow the timeline.  The voice of each character is unique and Catriona has captured the period and the disposition of each personality through well written narrative.

Although occasionally paragraphs can be difficult to comprehend, the details are beautifully scripted and never over described. The dark themes which are weaved into the story, although sometimes disturbing, serve only to enhance empathy with the characters rather than to shock.

At the beginning of the story, Rawblood is interpreted from the old language to mean “The house by the bridge over flowing water.”- a nice gentle name. It is apparent over time however that the name has a more sinister connotation.

Rawblood is a well plotted ghost story with a twist. Sometimes a challenging read but one worth embracing. It requires full attention to appreciate the intricacies of the plot and anyone who likes a story of the supernatural kind will love this book. Unlike many ghost stories the ending to Rawblood is convincing and does not disappoint.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

A Conversation with Cathy Rentzenbrink

Cathy Rentzenbrink, like most authors, has a profound love of reading. She says it is her ‘comfort, pleasure, hobby and addiction’. Cathy was born in Cornwall and grew up in Yorkshire. After the traumatic death of her much loved brother Matty she moved to London and worked in Waterstones’ bookshops for ten years.

Cathy was Project Director for the charity Quick Reads which helps people all over the world who struggle with basic literacy skills. She is also Associate Editor of The Bookseller and We Love This Book. These roles require Cathy to speak on television and radio and write for newspapers and magazines on a whole range of issues relating to literacy and literature.

Cathy joins host Nikki Bedi on BBC Radio London for a book club programme aired each month.

Cathy’s memoir The Last Act of Love is an honest and moving account of the devastating tragedy that shattered her family one summer’s night in 1990.  Cathy was just seventeen when her brother Matty, aged sixteen, was knocked down by a car as he walked home after an evening out with friends. Cathy prayed for Matty to live and her prayers were answered. It was some time before she realised that she had prayed for the wrong thing.

It is a book that will resonate with many who have been through their own personal grief - and for those who have not it enhances gratitude for being spared such pain. Cathy’s story conveys the strength of love that she and her parents had for Matty by their devotion to his care but it also shows the destructive nature of guilt that can accompany such a powerful love.

The Last Act of Love is beautifully written, tremendously sad in parts but exudes affection and dedication throughout.  A brilliant book with an extract available.

We thank you Cathy for answering our questions and wish you good luck for the future.

Tell us of your journey as a writer
I wanted to make up stories from the moment I knew they existed. I didn’t plan to write The Last Act of Love at all but the story line kept arriving uninvited in all the novels I was trying to write. An author friend said I should just get the story out of me and not worry if it ended up in a drawer. So, I started and then gradually realised that the pages I was making could become a book.

How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?
I’m much more used to being a reader than a writer and still feel very cautious even about describing myself as a writer. It took me until I was 41 to finish a book so I feel superstitious about assuming that I can do it again. What I like most about it is the sense of achievement in having wrestled so complex a story on to the page and I love hearing from readers and talking to them at events. I especially like it when people ask questions that make me think in a way that I haven’t quite before and I often learn something new about myself and my book by honestly answering questions about it.

Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?
All the time. And generally in life I empathise with people who might not be very pleasant. I tend to think that no one wants to behave badly, so, if they are, those actions are coming from a place of pain. A character without flaws would be rather dull, in life as well as in literature.

If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?
I’d like to be next to the sea, but not anywhere too hot. So, I’d take Cornwall if the magic machine could guarantee no rain. I love writing in Cornwall – I was born there and my parents live there – but it does rain a lot. I like to be able to go out for walks and look at down the sea from the cliffs when I feel a bit stuck. I love watching the waves crash against the cliffs and dreaming up stories of smugglers and wreckers.

What is the one book you wish you had written?
I don’t really think like that because it feels like any book could only be the product of the person who has made it. I suppose, following on from the last question, I admire the way Daphne du Maurier writes about Cornwall. I’d love to be able to pour suspense into a story the way she does in Jamaica Inn or Rebecca. In general, I envy writers who are prolific. I have so many ideas and it takes me so long to turn one of them into anything that I fret about the others. I wish I was faster.

What advice do you have for would be novelists?
Just go for it. Buy a notebook and write down some words. Try not to waste your time and energy on self-doubt, as that is an inescapable part of the creative process. Don’t argue with that nasty voice telling you you’re rubbish, just ignore it and accumulate more words. Read a lot and widely and consider a course if you can afford it. I did an Open University module that was very useful in making me write, rather than mope around thinking that I wasn’t good enough. If you can’t afford it or fit it into your life, then think about other ways to introduce structure and discipline. There are lots of good books about writing. A Novel in a Year by Louise Doughty would be a good place to start.

What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?
I’m in the beginning stages of a novel and trying to follow all my very good advice about self-doubt, above.

You can follow Cathy on Twitter: @CathyReadsBooks

Last Act of Love is published by panmacmillan