Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! Thanks for dropping by for this week's Thursday Thirteen. Since I'm very busy, preparing for my trip to the US next week and wrapping up all the work on 27 Stages, I thought I'd share a few pics which have inspired me throughout the long slog from start to finish.
So, yeah, it's a blog of cyclist photos. *clears throat*
Anyhoo... Please, allow me to present to you
Thirteen Photos Which Inspired 27 Stages!
This is *literally* the moment where the story started taking shape in my head. As I watched Cancellara receive the maillot jaune, I was speaking to my husband on the phone (he was in Italy, I was in the US). When the camera panned out and showed Cancellara on the podium, I said, without thinking, "I want to lick his legs." My husband didn't miss a beat and said "If you can catch him, go right ahead." That moment, combined with the team politics on display by the Astana riders (specifically Contador and Armstrong) led to the creation of 27 Stages.
There is a scene in 27 Stages which was written before I saw this photo, but which mentions a photo Abby takes over her shoulder without even looking, after sensing someone is watching her. When she looks at it later, she finds Federico was in the crowd after all. This is *literally* the sort of image I imagined her capturing.
And there you have them: Thirteen Photos Which Inspired 27 Stages.
Of course, there were many, many more photos than this to inspire me since 2009. I simply can't share them all, though.
Which is a bit of a shame, really.
And I know I owe you at least one more pic, so...
I hope this will do.
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! It's time for another Thursday Thirteen, and this week I have a special treat for everyone. You see, back in 2008-9, I had the pleasure of meeting a number of good writers on the Harper-Collins Authonomy website. I read many great books while they were still in their development stage, but there was one book in particular which stood out in my estimation. One, a psychological thriller (which is not a genre I normally read), was so good, I read all of the available sample and asked for more of it. I was generously given the still-incomplete manuscript to read at my leisure. To this day, it is the only book I've managed to read while sitting at my computer.
Well, now, that book - called Affinities - is available for purchase, along with another thriller, Subculture. Both are well worth a read, but you might also want to get to know the author a little better, first.
So please sit back, relax and enjoy this interview with the lovely and talented (and former Authonomite), Chris Hollis!
Thirteen Questions for Chris Hollis, Author
1) So, Chris - tell me something about yourself.
Well, I’m a mid-thirties writer, fighting off life while I try to make my mark. Writing is the one job in entertainment where you can still be considered at the start of your career in your thirties. Many of the greats didn’t reach their stride until their kids were all grown up (not that I have any).
2) When did you first get bitten by the writing bug?
That’s not so easy to pin down. Winding back the clock, I was originally an aspiring (failed) cartoonist, then a director-without-a-camera, which turned into a screenwriter. Book writing evolved some point in my early twenties. I dabble. It’s always been one of my problems – disciplined, but rarely focussed.
3) Tell me about your books.
I have two available as of 2013 – Subculture and Affinities. Both are thrillers, and fast, but the similarity ends there. Subculture is an action-packed, breakneck, A-to-B kind of affair, whereas Affinities is a good deal more complex. Even I can’t remember all the different threads I wove into it. Every inanimate object has a specific pathway through the novel, developing in the reader’s eye, something like a character.
4) Which book was the greater challenge to write?
Easily Affinities. That kind of detail takes time to get right. After six years of putting it together, I just wanted to write a nice linear plot, something you could read on a sun lounger in a couple of days. That’s Subculture. Still, both are child’s play compared to a couple I have on my desktop. Ten years hasn’t been enough to call them finished...
5) How much research do you do when you're writing?
Copious and endless. Google images helps me to write descriptions, then I look up sunset times, weather forecasts, road names, people names. You can’t afford not to research every last little detail. It also helps to write Q&As as you go along, to remind yourself what the overriding point of the novel is. Then you can research your own research!
6) What genre do you prefer to read? What are your favorite books in that genre?
I’m into soft sci-fi and paranormal. Different genres, but they boil down to the same thing – an ordinary protagonist versus a strange adversary. Giant monsters and spooks. Think Triffids, Martians, vampires in a 1990s sense. Vampires are a bit different now, I feel. Less edgy, less fun.
You can’t afford not to research every last little detail.
7) What made you decide to be an Indie author?
I would have baulked at the concept ten years ago, determined to follow in the footsteps of the people who inspired me. Then one day I realised it should be the readers who decide what they like, and nobody else. So now I’m out there, along with two billion other authors, walking the fine line between shameless self-promotion, and blindly hoping to get noticed.
8) When you're writing, do you need noise or silence?
Great question. Silence, and it’s a bone of contention. When I’m doing a first draft, ambient noise is acceptable, but when it comes to doing that perfect paragraph – I mean the one where every word just flows poetically – it has to be silent like the grave for miles around. Hence why my output isn’t higher. One book a year is hard enough as it is when you struggle to concentrate like I do.
9) What's your typical writing day like?
Few and far between, really. Sometimes, I stay late in the office and pace up and down, proof reading, lapping up the solitude. But those rare pajama days amount to maybe seven hours of writing, and five of procrastination. They’re fantastic for getting the house clean!
10) Where did the ideas for your books come from/what inspired them?
Someone once said to me “think of a terrorist”, and I had the image I think most people would – a Middle-Eastern bearded man, with a vendetta that many Westerners perhaps wouldn’t understand. I didn’t like the stereotype, and so I decided to make terrorists who were homegrown, but still organised en-masse. The other ground, I felt, had been over trodden. [note: that book became Subculture]
Affinities, at conception, was a one-man play. Every chapter was supposed be a different night in the same location, with just one character. Turns out that would be boring as hell, so I scrapped the idea as I learned how much a story needs both dialogue, and autonomy. You can still see the roots in the first five chapters, though.
11) Say your books take off and you start earning Stephen King money: What is the first thing you purchase?
Remember the speedboat David Beckham rode along the Thames, holding the Olympic torch? I heard they couldn’t sell it. I’d have that. There were lights shining into the water jets that made it look all futuristic.
12) Give me a completely random fact about yourself.
I was the one who left the office window open overnight. Feels good to clear the air.
13) Any final words of advice or declarations to make?
It seems to me that every writer around is part of a gold rush for the ebook market right now, with many struggling to get as many books out there as quickly as they can. My advice is relax. Better to have three great books than six that are merely okay, right? You’ll be tagged with those books for the rest of your life (and then beyond). The other tip is go sit in a sauna. Quiet thinking time, and also nice and warm.
And there you have them, Thirteen Questions for Chris Hollis, Author!
I hope you've enjoyed getting to know him, today. If you're intrigued and would like to learn more about Chris, you can visit his website.
His books are available on Amazon US and UK, in both paperback and ebook.
Affinities (US ebook)
Affinities (UK ebook)
Subculture (US ebook)
Subculture (UK ebook)
No eye candy today (well, unless you count Chris himself) but drop by tomorrow for a tasty treat!
Ciao for now!
Hello, all! While I'm excitedly making preparations for a visit to the Museo del Ciclismo in Magreglio, Italy, I didn't have a lot of time to prepare a full-bodied Thirteen for today. So I've decided to share a portion of my TBR pile (that's "To Be Read" for those unfamiliar with the term) with all of you, as I've well over the requisite number of books waiting for my attention.
Shameful, I know.
So now, please allow me to present to you:
Thirteen Books (and e-Books) on My 'To Be Read' Pile
1) John Irving: In One Person (Hardcover)
2) Stephen King: The Wind Through the Keyhole (Hardcover)
3) Stephen King: Full Dark, No Stars (Paperback)
4) Matt Shaw: 9 Months - Book One (9 Months Trilogy) (e-book)
5) Tim Krabbe': The Rider (Paperback)
6) Margaret Atwood: The Year of the Flood (Paperback)
7) David Nicholls: One Day (Paperback)
8) Kurt Vonnegut: 2 B R 0 2 B (e-book)
9) Matt Seaton: The Escape Artist (Paperback)
10) Jonathon Budds: Consumed (ebook)
11) Simon A Forward: From Evil With Love (ebook)
12) Graeme Obree: Flying Scotsman (Paperback)
13) Amanda Egan: Diary of a Mummy Misfit (ebook)
And there you have them: Thirteen books which are currently resting atop my TBR pile. Maybe you'll feel compelled to check them out, too, now you've seen them listed here?
At least you'd be reassured of a lovely selection of books for yourself as the autumn nights grow longer and cooler.
You could curl up on the sofa with a cup of cocoa, or coffee, or tea...
And then, you know...
Select a good book and...
Ciao for now!
Hello, all! This week, I thought I'd continue the bookish themes from previous weeks and give you another glimpse into the creative mind of an indie writer. This time around, I've interviewed my new friend Jill Pennington, author of the slightly unusual ex-pat memoir The Diary of a Single Parent Abroad.
So, here are:
Thirteen Questions for Author Jill Pennington
1) First, please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a ‘Britalian’ Originally from Yorkshire (England) I have been living in Italy for 8 years, I have three teenage children and far too many animals. We live in the Apennine mountains and love it.
2) Could you sum up your book in one sentence for us?
An expat story with a difference.
3) Had you ever considered being/Were you a writer prior to writing this?
I have always written about my life and observations since childhood. I thought everyone did it but apparently not.
4) What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
Re-living the hard times.
5) Since The Diary of a Single Parent Abroad is a memoir, did you have to resist the urge to fictionalize any of it?
Oh no, the material just piled up in a corner, in fact there is still so much that I didn’t capture. My friends say that more things happen to me in a week than happen to most people in a year!
6) Have you considered writing fiction? Why/Why not?
Yes, I am currently considering this idea.
7) Is this book traditionally published or self-published?
8) Why did you choose that route to publication?
It appears in the current publishing climate, that unless you are a celebrity or already published there is very little chance of being taken on by a traditional publisher, so I decided to try going it alone.
9) What has been the most challenging part of publication for you?
Marketing, the hard work starts after you publish.
10) Are you considering writing another book yet?
Yes, I hope to write many more.
11) What will it be about?
Probably a sequel to the first but I have other ideas to explore as well.
12) What is your favorite book you've read this year?
Ooh I would have to say ‘Ask Me if I’m Happy’ by Kimberly Menozzi (sorry I am biased due to living in Bella Italia)
13) What is your favorite book ever?
Stig of the Dump by Clive King –My favourite book as a child, I read it over and over, then got the chance to enjoy it again as a parent.
Or use the following links:
You can also follow Jill on Twitter (@jillipen) and Facebook. Her promo for the book can be found on Youtube.
I hope you've enjoyed this conversation with Jill, and that you'll consider having a look at her book.
I'm sure you'll enjoy it, as it's an entertaining and sometimes enlightening look at life in Italy.
In the meantime, I offer you a chance to reminisce about last summer's Olympic events.
Why? I hear you ask.
Do you really need a reason?
Ciao for now! :)
Author. Happily Married. Survivor of life with a deranged kitten.
Please note: Thanks to an increase in spam comments, I'll be approving the comments before they post. Sorry!