Researching Art by Sandra Danby

I am very pleased to welcome author, Sandra Danby, to feature on my Blog as a guest. In celebration of her new book, ‘Connectedness,’ Sandra talks about her research into the wonderful world of art.

‘Connectedness’ is the 2nd book in her ‘Identity Detective’ series, a story that revolves around the art world, adoption and romance, from London to the cliffs of East Yorkshire and the orange blossom streets of Málaga in Spain.

So how did you, go about your research for this book, Sandra, and will you tell us about the story and the characters?

Author, Sandra Danby

Author, Sandra Danby

“Novelists are always asked ‘how much of the book is about you?’ With my first novel I could honestly say not much, apart from sharing an occupation with my heroine. We are both journalists. My new novel Connectedness is slightly different. It is second in the ‘Identity Detective’ series and so again features journalist Rose Haldane, but the main focus is on a birth mother seeking to find the daughter she gave up for adoption twenty-seven years earlier. In creating Justine Tree, I used two locations close to me – Yorkshire and Spain – and I gave her a profession I have not experienced. She is an internationally-successful artist.

This was a clever plan that gave me the opportunity to go to loads of art museums and exhibitions and say I was ‘researching’. I’m lucky enough to live near London and have become a regular visitor to Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Royal Academy of Arts and the Victoria & Albert Museum. All feature in Connectedness. I quickly realised that not only did I need to understand more about art, artists and how they create their work; I also needed settings. I immersed myself in exhibitions, books and television programmes, absorbing information and sifting the bits I might be able to use.

Art museums, the Tate Modern and Royal academy of arts

A quick scan of my Art Research folder shows that I read [or at least flicked through] a wide variety of sources from Essential Crochet by Erika Wright to Modern Art: A Very Short Introduction by David Cottington. I quickly focussed on Tracey Emin as an example of an artist who puts all her emotions and experiences into her art, something I wanted for Justine; though in Justine’s case, what you see is not always what you get. Most useful were two Emin books, My Life in a Column is a collection of her articles for The Independent newspaper; Strangeland is her memoir from her childhood in Margate to her rise to fame as a YBA [Young British Artist] in 1992.

Art as portrayed by Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin, an example of an artist who puts all her emotions and experiences into her art.

So from Emin I drew her emotions and the fluidity of technique from drawing and painting to embroidery and installation. I embraced the outwardly chaotic appearance of Emin’s art and hopefully showed Justine’s process of making it; sometimes chaotic, but also considered. To that I added the Spanish link. Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga – near to where I spend part of the year – and I decided to use this link [more art museums to visit!] to add an unpredictable twist to Justine’s student story in 1983. Picasso brought artistic gravitas to my research and to Justine he brought collage, the technique that introduces the teenager to her artistic path.

Ceramic jug decorated with fauns, by Pablo Picasso 1951 [photo: Musee National Picasso-Paris]

As a teenager, Justine experiences a torment of betrayal, jealousy and anger and begins to paint outdoors. Here’s a short excerpt that in my head is set on a clifftop footpath on Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire, where I grew up:

Knowing she might throw up, Justine ran until she had no breath left, sinking to the ground with a puff of summer dust. She cried for a long time, for lost love and lost friendship and then, recognising betrayal, she got angry. She opened her satchel and took out a sheet of drawing paper, orange furry pencil case and tube of paper glue. She weighed down the paper with lumps of chalk culled from beside the path and then, careless of the dust and grass seed flowing freely in the soft breeze, she created her first collage. A tangle of gull feathers, grass, dock leaves and smears of mud made of the dusty earth mixed with tears. She carried the half-finished jumble to her father’s shed where she carefully dismantled it, sorted and re-assembled it, fixing it together permanently with some plaster-like stuff from his workbench. She rescued a Frosties cereal packet from the dustbin and then, imagining it was the boy’s A-grade physics essay of which he’d been so proud, she tore it into strips. She sat holding a felt tip pen feeling empty of words until they spilled forth from a subconscious thesaurus: Traitor. Betrayal. Envy. Hurt. Jealousy. Theft. Unfair. Friend. Pain. Lies.”

About ‘Connectedness’

TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALWAYS HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING

Book cover of Correctness by Sandra Danby

Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.

A family mystery for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore.

An extract from ‘Connectedness’

Prologue

London, September 2009

The retired headmistress knew before she opened the front door that a posy of carnations would be lying on the doorstep beside the morning’s milk bottle. It happened on this day, every year. September 12. And every year she did the same thing: she untied the narrow ribbon, eased the stems loose and arranged the frilled red flowers in her unglazed biscuit-ware jug. Then she placed the jug on the front windowsill where they would be visible from the street. Her bones ached more now as she bent to pick them up off the step than the first year the flowers arrived. She had an idea why the carnations appeared and now regretted never asking about them. Next year, someone else would find the flowers on the doorstep. In a week’s time she would be living in a one-bedroom annexe at her son’s house in a Hampshire village. She walked slowly back to her armchair beside the electric fire intending to tackle The Times crossword but hesitated, wondering if the person who sent the flowers would ever be at peace.

1
Yorkshire, May 2010

The clouds hurried from left to right, moved by a distant wind that did not touch her cheek. It felt unusually still for May. As if the weather was waiting for the day to begin, just as she was. She had given up trying to sleep at three o’clock, pulled on some clothes and let herself out of the front door. Despite the dark, she knew exactly the location of the footpath, the edge of the cliffs; could walk it with her eyes closed. Justine lay on the ground and looked up, feeling like a piece of grit in the immensity of the world. Time seemed both still and marching on. The dark grey of night was fading as the damp began to seep through her jeans to her skin. A pale line of light appeared on the eastern horizon, across the flat of the sea. She shivered and sat up. It was time to go. She felt close to both her parents here, but today belonged to her mother.

Three hours later, she stood at the graveside and watched as the coffin was lowered into the dark damp hole. Her parents together again in the plot they had bought. It was a big plot, there was space remaining.

Will I be buried here?

It was a reassuring thought, child reunited with parents.

The vicar’s voice intoned in the background, his words whipped away by the wind. True to form, May was proving changeable. It was now a day requiring clothing intended for mid-winter, when windows were closed tight and the central heating turned on again. Or was it that funerals simply made you feel cold?

‘Amen.’

She repeated the vicar’s word, a whisper borne out of many childhood Sunday School classes squeezed into narrow hard pews. She was not paying attention to the service but, drawn by the deep baritone of the vicar who was now reciting the Lord’s Prayer, was remembering her first day at art college. The first class. Another baritone. Her tutor, speaking words she had never forgotten. Great art was always true, he warned, and lies would always be found out.

In her handbag was a letter, collected from the hall table ten days ago as she left the house for Heathrow and Tokyo. She had expected to return home to London but, answering the call from her mother’s doctor, had come straight to Yorkshire in the hope of seeing her mother one last time. The envelope, which was heavy vellum, and bore smidgens of gold and scarlet and the Royal Academy of Arts’ crest, was still sealed. She knew what the letter said, having been forewarned in a telephone call from the artist who nominated her. It was the official invitation. If she accepted, she was to be Justine Tree, RA.

About the ‘Identity Detective’ series

Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz.

Author Bio

Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted.

Author Links

‘Connectedness’ at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2q6qy5Z
‘Ignoring Gravity’ at Amazon http://amzn.to/1oCrxHd
Author website: http://www.sandradanby.com/
Twitter: @SandraDanby
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6563021.Sandra_Danby
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/

Photos [all © Sandra Danby unless specified] show the author, Sandra Danby, Royal Academy of Art – banners on Piccadilly, Tate Britain – front steps, Tracey Emin, quilt, I do not expect 2002 [photo: Tracey Emin] – Ceramic jug decorated with fauns, by Pablo Picasso 1951 [photo: Musee National Picasso-Paris] and the book cover of Correctness.

Thanks for sharing this, Sandra, and it’s been great to learn more about the research you undertake for your series. I have read your first book,  ‘Ignoring Gravity,’ and found it a deeply moving tale. After reading this, I am really looking forward to getting stuck into your second novel. Enjoying research is something we both have in common and like you say, it’s a good excuse to lose yourself in interesting places.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s a suggested tweet:

How CONNECTEDNESS author @SandraDanby researched art & turned reality into fiction #amwriting via @SFDPBeginnings https://wp.me/p2b3Yf-oO

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Leading Men in Fiction: Guest Post by Carol Thomas

Today it is an absolute pleasure to welcome Carol Thomas back onto my blog as a guest, with a charming, light-hearted post about leading men in fiction…

Photo of author Carol ThomasCarol writes contemporary romance novels, with relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads. So onto Carol’s article:

One of the questions writers frequently get asked is whether their characters are based on people they know. Generally, most writers will say no to this. But some will confess to borrowing features from friends, family, work colleagues, and so forth.

Another question that crops up is, who would you pick as your dream cast to play your characters? It’s a good question and coming up with an answer during the early stages of writing is not a bad exercise to help you pin down the fundamentals of your character type. I know a thriller writer who always has a big screen action hero in mind while writing.

And if you are submitting to Choc Lit, expect to be asked to describe your hero in terms of chocolate!

That was a new one on me. For those who are intrigued to know how I responded, regarding the leading man in The Purrfect Pet Sitter, I said: He is tantalisingly tempting to be around. He is delicious and desirable, able to provide melting moments that are satisfying and sensual, and yet solid and dependable – no matter what the occasion.

While none of my male leads are directly based on men I know, I do borrow features I like. Not wishing to make a lovely male lead sound like Frankenstein, one character I wrote had my dentist’s eyes, physical build and surname, and the happy trail of one of my husband’s friends. I wasn’t peeking on purpose; he stretched up while standing next to me and it was revealed.

It was a bit of a, “Oo hello!” moment, and I wrote it into my debut novel.

As for my dentist, I later confessed and got his picture holding my book (I thought it was funny, though I am not sure if he doesn’t now consider me weird – it’s a good job he changed practice!).

When I am creating a hero, I consider their role in the story, their age, job, mannerisms, name, background – all things that might have a bearing on their final appearance and characteristics. In The Purrfect Pet Sitter one character is a landscape gardener. As a result of this, he is tanned; his hair has highlights from the sun, he is muscular and has arms and hands that reflect physical labour. He is not one of the leading men, but I grew very fond of him. I also try to include different types of men, to appeal to different readers.

So if I was choosing my dream cast, who would I pick to play the leading man in The Purrfect Pet Sitter? My vote for the lovely Nathan Baker would go to Chris Hemsworth – sigh! His blond hair, blue eyes and muscular build fit Nathan perfectly. He has strength while looking like the type of man you could happily spend an evening snuggled up in front of a roaring fire with. Perfect!

Chris Hemsworth

The blurb:
Introducing Lisa Blake, the purrfect pet sitter!

When Lisa Blake’s life in London falls apart, she returns to her hometown rebranding herself as ‘the purrfect pet sitter’ – which may or may not be false advertising!

But being back where she grew up, Lisa can’t escape her past. There’s her estranged best friend Flick who she bumps into in an embarrassing encounter in a local supermarket. And her first love, Nathan Baker, who, considering their history, is sure to be even more surprised by her drunken Facebook friend request than Lisa is.

Book cover of The Purrfect Pet Sitter by Carol Thomas

As she becomes involved in the lives of her old friends Lisa must confront the hurt she has caused, discover the truth about her mysterious leather-clad admirer, and learn how to move forward when the things she wants most are affected by the decisions of her past.

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Ruby Fiction, the new imprint of Choc Lit

Buying Links:
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/TPPS-AmazonUk
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-purrfect-pet-sitter
Ruby Fiction: http://www.rubyfiction.com/dd-product/the-purrfect-pet-sitter/

View the book trailer:

About the author:
Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively young Labrador. She has been a playgroup supervisor and taught in primary schools for over fifteen years, before dedicating more of her time to writing. Carol is a regular volunteer at her local Cancer Research UK shop. She has a passion for reading, writing and people watching and can often be found loitering in local cafes working on her next book.

Website and Social Media Links:
http://carol-thomas.co.uk
http://facebook.com/carolthomasauthor
http://twitter.com/carol_thomas2
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/carol_thomas2/
https://www.instagram.com/carol_thomas2/

Blog:
http://carol-thomas.co.uk/blog

Thanks Carol Thomas for this lovely, entertaining post but enough swooning… I wish you the best of luck for your new novel and have pre-ordered my copy, which will be popping up on my Kindle soon!

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Book 2 #BlogTour and #Giveaway

After a successful Blog Tour in January for ‘Beginnings‘ I thought it would be nice to follow this up with another tour and relaunch ‘Visions’ the second book of the series, ‘Same Face Different Place.

Visions Blog Tour Banner

As before, I asked Rachel of Rachel’s Rare Resources if she could arrange a similar tour for my book. The nice thing is, I have already attracted a few new ‘fans’ from the last tour, some of whom were eager to jump on board.

This Blog Tour was great for reviews; some from bloggers who had read the first book in the series and a few who hadn’t. For the latter, obviously they were not familiar with the opening story but it didn’t seem to be a problem. Visions can be read as a standalone psychological thriller and with enough background infused into the story to get a gist of the story. But one thing that did emerge is that some bloggers really want to read the first book now. This has been really encouraging.

As before, there is a competition attached to the tour where you can win a signed paperback of VISIONS. Each post has a rafflecopter link where you can enter.

So without further ado, here are some of the best comments, picked from all those wonderful reviews:

“The synopsis is intriguing, but I was surprised by  this story, it was totally captivating, addictive and I thoroughly enjoyed it.” Says Yvonne from Me and My Books

“There are moments of shock, surprises and stand out jolts, some quite extreme violence and psychological warfare, yet as well there is love and tenderness. The term emotional rollercoaster is often used, I have to say that in the case of this story, it applies perfectly.” Says Richard from Welcome to my Worlds

“I thoroughly appreciated how all the stories weaved together perfectly. Giving the reader little insider peaks at what was going on behind the scenes. Building up the suspense.” Says Dash Fan Book Reviews

“Helen has a great ability to create powerful and rememberable characters.” Says Wrong Side of Forty Book Magic

“It is a great series with some brilliant characters and excellent story-telling.” Says Donna’s Book Blog

” I love a good psychological thriller, where I question everyone and everything.” Says Ashley’s Got Book Excitement

“It is called a Psychological Thriller, and it most definitely is that, but it’s much more. For me it was a time travel, love story, emotional thriller, as well as psychological thriller.” Says Sassy Redhead Book Reviews

“The second book in the Same Face Different Place series is as suspenseful as the first.  Ms. Christmas effectively creates cunning and sinister antagonists that give the reader a high level of intense foreboding.” Says The Eclectic Review

Video Trailer for Visions

And last but not least here is a list of all the book bloggers who took part in the tour and a big thanks to Rachel for organising it all:

Stephs Book Blog
https://stephsbookblog.com/2018/04/08/visions-same-face-different-place-book-two-by-helen-j-christmas-blog-tour-review/

Bound 2 Escape
http://bound2escape.com/giveaway/blog-tour-giveaway-visions-by-helen-j-christmas/

Just Books
https://rainnes.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/visions-by-helen-j-christmas.html

Me and My Books
https://vonnibee.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/blogtour-same-face-different-place-visions-by-helen-j-christmas/

Welcome to my Worlds
https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/in-association-with-rachels-random-resources/

Dash Fan Book Reviews
https://dashfan81.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/blog-tour-visions-9418.html

Being Anne
http://beinganne.com/2018/04/blogtour-visions-by-helen-j-christmas-sfdpbeginnings-rararesources-giveaway/

Wrong side of Forty
https://wrongsideoffortyuk.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/visions-by-helen-j-christmas-blogtour-review/

A Booking Good Read
https://www.bookinggoodread.com/2018/04/visions-blog-tour_9.html?m=1

Donna’s Book Blog
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/blogtour-review-of-visions-by-helen-christmas-rararesources/

Book Reviews by Jasmine
http://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/visions-by-helen-j-christmas-book-tour.html

Ashley’s Got Book Excitement
http://ashleysgotbookcitement.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/blog-tour-visions-by-helen-j-christmas.html?spref=tw

Reflections of a Reader
https://reflectionsofareader.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/blogtour-visions-by-helen-j-christmas.html

A Magical World of Books
https://amagicalworldofwords.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/blog-tour-book-blitz-giveaway-visions.html

Nesie’s Place
https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/blogtour-visions/

Chelle’s Book Reviews
http://chellesbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/visions-by-helen-christmas-blogtour.html?spref=tw

Portable Magic
http://portablemagic.net/blog-tours/helen-christmas-visions

Birdie’s Bibliotheca
https://birdiesbibliotheca.com/2018/04/13/visions-a-review/

Sassy Redhead Reviews
https://sassyredheadbookreviews.blog/2018/04/14/blog-tour-of-visions-by-helen-j-christmas-rararesources-sfdpbeginnings/

The Eclectic Review
https://eclecticreview.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/booktour-bookreview-visions-same-face-different-place-book-2-by-helen-christmas-sfdpbeginnings-rararesources/

Book Babble
http://memesandfiction.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/book-tour-and-giveaway-visions-same.html

What next for ‘Same Face Different Place?’

The whole series is finished but I cannot resist going back and editing the books from time to time. Right now I’m enjoying ‘Retribution – Phase 1’ having picked it up for the first time in a year and tweaking a few things. Next I was to give Book 3 Pleasures another look, since out of all the books in the series, this is the one I enjoyed writing most.

At the same time, I am putting together an anthology of stories based on the lesser known characters of the series and hope to have the new book out this year…

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Blog Tour of “Visions”, by Helen J. Christmas @rararesources @SFDPBeginnings

#BlogTour #Review of Visions by Helen Christmas #Giveaway #Win. I’ve been dying to post a bit about my blog tour, so here is a little teaser… More to come soon!

Sassy Redhead Book Reviews

Visions Full tour BannerI am thrilled to be part of Rachel’s Random Resources Blog Tour for Visions.

Visions is a psychological thriller set in rural England. The year is 1985. It’s been 12 years since Eleanor escaped London, discarding the fragments of her tragic past to discover a new life. She is hiding in a remote country village, a place where she truly believes she is safe.

Her neighbour, James Barton-Wells is desperate to save his historic country house from ruin but this has attracted the attention of a wealthy property developer from London whose seemingly altruistic offer to ‘bankroll the restoration’ masks a sinister game plan. Suspicious of his motives, Eleanor consults her friend, Charles Bailey. But Charlie has his own story, fearful that Perry Hampton is the man who undoubtedly destroyed his own life.

The characters are drawn together in a battle to save Westbourne House, oblivious to the menace that…

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Visions by Helen J Christmas #Blogtour #Review

#BlogTour #Psychological #Thriller #Competition #Win #Giveaway #AmReading #Booklove

Visions by Helen J. Christmas @SFDPBeginnings @rararesources

via Visions by Helen J Christmas #Blogtour #Review

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New Book: My Current Work in Progress

I don’t do enough blogging, the main reason being that unless I have a guest blog, I only publish when I have something worth writing about…

Well it is time to take the plunge; ever since completing ‘Same Face Different Place’ I have started something new at last!

I had an idea lingering on the back burner, ever since we visited Yorkshire in 2016, the notion of writing shorter stories, based on some of the lesser known characters of the series. These are the hidden stories, tales from childhood that were always simmering in the background but never actually made it into the pages of SFDP.

For example, references were made to some darker aspects of child abuse; but they would have detracted from the main plot. Two characters will be familiar to readers of the series. But there is a character I am introducing for the first time, one who hardly featured in the latter books. Bessie Summerville is Peter’s little sister, someone he spent a lifetime searching for, so I thought it was time to tell her story.

Nuns from Ireland

Nuns from Ireland, mentioned in one of the first stories.

New Research

It is also worth mentioning that writing though Peter’s eyes encouraged to dig a little deeper into his story and the era when he worked at Toynbee Hall.

I confess to having only known a little about the organisation. But I would love to speak to anyone who remembers it from the 197os. Luckily a member of staff pointed me in the right direction, an enquiry that brought me to the Metropolitan Archives in North London. Studying the original annual reports from 1972 – 1979 gave me a snapshot of the structure of Toynbee Hall, as well as their good work. I will say that this worthwhile research painted an entire backdrop of one of my new stories. Furthermore, I have a request to deposit a copy of my writing in the library at Toynbee Hall once completed.

Annual Report 1972

To conclude, the book is well underway now with ten stories drafted and possibly another five to reach a conclusion. In my next post, I hope to bring you a synopsis and finally a cover reveal as hinted in the stock images shown…

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Guest Post: with #Thriller Writer SC Cunningham

This month, I am very excited to be discussing the life and works of Siobhan Cunningham, author of The Penance List, Unfinished Business and The Deal.

Photograph of Siobhan Cunningham, authorS C Cunningham creates psychological crime thrillers and paranormal romance with a skilled mix of fuelled tension, dark humour, and pulsating sex scenes. Having worked in the industries she writes about, her novels offer a fresh level of sincerity and authority, rare in fiction.

Abducted as a child, she survived; and every night for months afterward, she prayed to God, asking for a deal. This personal journey sparked the fuse behind the intriguing and riveting fictional world she portrays in The Deal, the first in The Fallen Angel series. Twenty years later Cunningham crossed paths with a violent serial attacker, sowing the seed for her mind-bending thriller, The David Trilogy; The Penance List, Unfinished Business, For My Sins.

An ex-model, British born of Irish roots, she married a rock musician and has worked in the exciting worlds of music, film, sports, celebrity management and as a Crime Investigator for the British Police (Wanted & Absconder Unit, Major Crime Team, Intelligence Analyst, Investigations Hub).

She is the proud mother to contemporary Artist Scarlett Raven and owned by three dogs.

So Let’s start by exploring a little more about your Genre, Siobhan… why did you choose to write in this genre?

I write Paranormal Crime Romance and Psychological Rom Thrillers. Also, as respite from the blood and gore, I’ve written a children’s picture book about a rescue dog (based on a rescue Pyrenees Mountain Dog I had when living in Texas), my artist daughter, Scarlett Raven, produced the art work.

My current passion is a Paranormal Crime Romance series of 8, The Fallen Angel Series. When I was about 3 or 4 years old I was taken, I got away, the following week another little girl was taken, but she didn’t get away, she died. I come from an Irish Catholic family; I remember saying my prayers at night, asking God to do a deal with me. If I was a good girl, when I die would he let me sit on a cloud for a while, invisible, and help him get the baddies that slip through his fingers? I have always had a strong feeling of justice, of looking after the underdog.

Book cover for The Deal by Siobhan Cunningham

There have been a few times in my life where I seemed to have been extremely lucky to have survived situations. I call it my Angels looking out for me.

There is something else up there; I don’t know what it is, but it’s there. If my gut says something, I have learned to follow it. My paranormal works are taking this idea to the next level, of Vigilante Angels dishing out tough karma from the skies. I am a romantic, therefore there is always romance.

My Psychological Thrillers are based on an incident that happened to me in my 20’s, I crossed paths with a prolific serial attacker who was haunting London at the time, targeting girls living on their own in basement flats in Notting Hill and Olympia. I got away unscathed (those angels again) and helped Police with a photofit. I remember looking at him wondering why? What makes someone so evil? The seed for my David Trilogy was sown.

The common thread here is I write about what I know. I guess it choses me.

Oh my God, that’s actually quite chilling! It’s easy to see where you got your inspiration from.

Yes, from life experiences; story-lines that provoke thoughts, that teach, that help others. I’ve worked in various industries; Music, Film, Football, Modelling, Sports Celebrity Management, and more lately in crime – Crime Investigator, Major Crime Team, Intelligence Analyst, Wanted and Absconder Unit for Sussex Police.

So to be short and sweet, how would you describe your novels in 10 words?

Fast paced, exciting, thought provoking, sexy, funny, heart pounding, thrilling.

Now just to lighten the tone a little, let’s talk about your writing environment.

I have a writing room at home. I write whenever I can, I have no social life, am a bit of a recluse. I set the scene to write, with lovely smells/candles, soft music, lighting and dogs curled at my feet. It takes hours to block out the world in my head, then I settle down to churn out the words. It’s hard to get to the writing ‘place’ but once you are there, it is wonderful. My ideal place would be in a villa with a pool in the sunshine, where I could pop out to take a dip in the pool between chapters… but hey, one day…

That sounds so chilled out. Dogs are great writing companions – mine curls up with me too when I’m writing but moving on, are any of your characters based on real people?

From my own life experiences, studying people, observing, listening, I see stories in everything, even as I walk down a street… sometimes it’s a bit exhausting. Characters are a mishmash of different people I know. It is easier to write about the truth.

So I must ask, which authors do you like and do you have a favourite book?

My chosen authors include Lee Child, Martina Cole, Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Agatha Christie, Harlan Coben, John Grisham, Patricia Cornwell and Karin Slaughter. The Lee Child Jack Reacher Series is my favourite… I have a crush on Jack Reacher. Although if I ever get to meet Lee Child I will bollock him for selling out to Tom Cruise. Cruise is wonderful, but he is no Jack Reacher.

Thanks for sharing that! So who would you like to see playing the lead character in your book?

My Psycho Thriller books, Tom Hardy. I think he has the depth of mind to play the part. He’s been there and done that in his own life, therefore can bring it to the fore in his acting. My Fallen Angel Series, Hmmmm… (scratches head)… I actually cannot think of anyone yet… maybe an unknown actor could step forward and shock the socks off people!

So going back to your books, do you work out a strict plot or just start writing?

I just start writing and it develops itself. If I knew what happened in the end I would be bored. I love the way a story writes itself.

Writing is the fun part, so what about research?

My life is research in a way. I’m constantly observing, learning and adapting my own experiences to the page, and am of course SO grateful to google which answers any technical questions I may have i.e. blood splatter, gun calibre, drugs, health symptoms etc (my web search history is damming). My Police Investigation work is like a university degree in the criminal mind. However I have signed the official secrets act, therefore am not able to talk about cases I work on – which is of course right.

That’s understandable… I know what you mean about browser history, the mind boggles. Do you have any tips you’d like to share about writing, to inspire others?

Just start, keep doing it, every day, the first outline can be as rough as you like, no one else sees it. The magic then comes in the first edit, shining the coal into a diamond.

That’s a lovely analogy. So do you have any future plans for writing, that is, are you working on anything now?

I am finishing off the series and trilogy, then adapting them to screenplay. Book I of the David Trilogy has been adapted to film script and is sitting on a desk in Hollywood as the moment. Fingers crossed.

Good luck! That would be amazing. Last but not least, here are the links to the books.

Books by S C Cunningham

UK LINKS

Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/S-C-Cunningham/e/B002L3ZC2U/

UK The Deal (Fallen Angel Series Book I) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deal-Fallen-Angel-S-Cunningham/dp/1521465479/

UK The Penance List (David Triogy Book I) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Penance-List-David-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00B0HMTW4/

UK Unfinished Business (David Trilogy Book II) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unfinished-Business-David-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00B623ABC/

REVIEWS

“Cunningham has crafted an epic in proportion novel here. Her characters are sultry and as real as they can get.”

“The book is dark, naughty…sometimes downright nasty. Cunningham will hold your attention to the very end.”

“Delicious and salacious, this novel offers a new twist on the modern romance and the classic psychological thriller.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/user/siobhancunningham8
Websitehttp://www.sccunningham.com/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/SCCunningham8
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pg/sccunningham8/
LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/sccunningham/
Google+https://plus.google.com/+SCCunninghamAuthor
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/siobhancunningham8/
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3120154.S_C_Cunningham

AND LAST OF ALL, HERE ARE SOME INTERESTING (AND JUICY) SNIPPETS FROM SIOBHAN’S BIOGRAPHY

  • Sports Celebrity Management job consisted of working for the management company of footballer personalities – i.e. David Beckham, Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Gaby Logan and helped coordinate a EURO Football Tournament in Belgium and Holland. Got to see first hand the crazy way fans and women react when a footballer walks into a room/club!!
  • Worked in music business (8yrs) with first husband, Raf Ravenscroft, who played sax on Baker Street by Jerry Rafferty, he played with the likes of Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed etc. We had a recording studio in Oxford Circus, making music for film,TV and radio. Was the eye candy in a band (couldn’t sing or play an instrument), appeared on Wogan Show twice, entry for Eurovision Song Context.
  • Single mum with Scarlett from age of 7. Worked in London until she finished Uni, then she didn’t need me any more and could start my writing life in earnest.
  • Worked in Horse racing for 5yrs, running events, looking after international VIPs coming into UK for Ascot, Derby etc. The horse racing world is racier than any other industry I have worked, its all that hay and sweat. Great fodder for authors like Jilly Cooper.
  • Got fed up lining the pockets of the rich, wanted to line the pockets of the poor so worked for a year or so as an international coordinator for Children’s Charity raising awareness and funds for HIV, orphanages, schools, meds etc in Africa – visiting these children was a humbling experience.
  • Got drunk and married in Vegas to second husband, a tall dark handsome Texan. We lived in Dallas, had great fun for 2 years, love the Texan larger than life, can-do-anything mentality.
  • Fashion model for 5 years, catwalk and beauty (makeup etc). Europe USA & Far East. Witnessing the behind the scenes behaviour of the glamour world. Sadly, I liked my food too much and didn’t bow down to the ‘casting couch’ mentality/pressure.
  • All of the above are great fodder for my story-lines.
  • Charitable causes I wish to support are; Veterans, Mental Health and Animal Abuse. 

I am angry with the way Veterans are treated in this country, MH is increasingly prevalent, especially in my Police work, and I prefer animals to some humans.

It’s been an absolute treat to have Siobhan as a guest on my blog and I am intrigued by her novels. Check them out for yourself and add them to your reading list!

Posted in Guest Posts, Thrillers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments