Monday, 10 August 2015

Fishbowl - Bradley Somer

About the book...
Told through the eyes of a goldfish named Ian, who is currently falling from the twenty-seventh floor balcony of an apartment building, this novel follows an eclectic cast of characters on one single day.A quirkily charming, highly original and philosophically joyful novel with the unlikeliest of heroes. This is Tales of the City as seen by a goldfish.

There is the handsome grad student, his girlfriend, and his mistress; the building’s superintendent who feels invisible and alone; the pregnant woman on bed rest; and the home-schooled boy, Herman, who thinks he can travel through time. In this one building are stories of love, new life and death; and of learning that sometimes taking a risk is the only way to move forward…

About the author...
Bradley Somer has written a ton of short fiction, which has appeared in a plethora of literary journals, reviews and anthologies over the past eleven years. His stories show a bent for the off-kilter with a touch of the urban fantastic.

Bradley’s debut novel, IMPERFECTIONS, was published in Fall 2012 by Nightwood Editions. It earned a starred review from Quill & Quire magazine, won the 2013 CBC Bookie Award for debut author of the year and was one of the Canadian Bookseller’s Top 8 Picks for 2012.

His next novel, FISHBOWL, will be published in North America in August 2015 through St. Martin’s Press. Publication rights have sold in over fifteen countries and the book will be available in many translations.

Bradley Somer is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency

My thoughts...
One very ordinary day I opened an email from Elaine Egan, a press officer at Ebury Publishing asking me if I'd like to read a debut novel by Bradley Somer about a goldfish called Ian who falls 27 floors from a tower block.  Needless to say I did a double take, re - read the blurb and thought WHAT!  Why not - it sounded intriguing, different and totally unlike any of the books I'd read over the last couple of years.

What a book, I don't quite know where to begin to explain how I feel about this book.  Have you ever wanted to look behind closed doors in a hotel or an apartment block, to get inside the minds of an eclectic mix of people and see what makes them tick?  I know I have, that in-built nosiness was satisfied big time.

Each chapter introduces the reader to a character/resident from the apartment block, The Seville on Roxy, with the protagonist played by a goldfish. Ian, is a goldfish, owned by Connor.  He was a gift from, new girlfriend Katie after telling her the tale of his utter devastation when, as a child he lost his pet dog, also called Ian. He takes a tumble over the balcony on the 27th floor and has split second glimpses inside the apartments of the many residents - clearly demonstrating we really don't know what goes on behind closed doors.

I smiled, laughed, cringed and sat open mouthed at the antics and characters Bradley served up to us.  Each one living side by side yet not even knowing each other or anything about each others lives - quite sad and pitiful but so very true of many apartment blocks I'd say.

This is a truly fun, original book that will get you thinking and wondering about the people we come across in our everyday lives.  Viewed through the eyes of a goldfish with a one second memory was just perfect.  No time to think or judge, just accepting everything and everyone for what they seem.  Ian was loving his adventure forgetting each snapshot of life as fast as experiencing the next - with no sense of fear just living for the moment.

We could all learn a lot from a goldfish!  I urge you to read this book, it's original and certainly very different but highlights so many things.  A goldfishes perspective on life clearly demonstrates how to live for the moment, accepting people for who they seem, yet not accepting everything at face value.  Even people who at first appear to be opposites in character can live alongside each other, to form a community that can and do, help and support each other in their own way.  

With such an unusual premise and eye-catching cover I was so glad I loved this book.  I was highly, entertained throughout this book and make no hesitation in recommending Fishbowl. It's a breath of fresh air to read something so unique, 320 simply whizzed by and everyone knows I love a book that makes me think and isn't predictable.  Huge thanks to Elaine for letting Bradley, through Ian get inside my mind, whirring my cogs.

You can follow Bradley and Ian on twitter - please do :)

Monday, 3 August 2015

An Interview with Nigel May

Imagine how excited I was when I was given the opportunity to interview one of Bookouture's wonderful authors Nigel May - a hugely talented, down to earth author with a cheeky smile.  Read on to see what he had to say...

About the author...
Nigel May has been described as "the UK's male Jackie Collins" and is an author, TV host and journalist. His three fiction novels have all been published by Bookouture.

His first glam fiction novel was TRINITY, an action-packed blockbuster (or bonkbuster) about the lives of the rich and famous. Glamour, beauty, fame and celebrity mix with murder, intrigue and danger to create an explosive novel which gained incredible reviews and fans across the globe. His follow-up was the glitz-meets-grit whodunit ADDICTED which was also a huge success and once again dived into the diamond-dipped world of the mega-rich but showed that all of the money and fame in the world do not always make for a happy ending. His third novel SCANDALOUS LIES is steeped in secrets, sin, sex and scandal and takes readers around the world as a mysterious celebrity disappearance is investigated. His books have been Amazon best sellers, read by celebrities and fellow authors alike, and have proved that a man can successfully write in a 'bonkbuster world' that has always been a strongly female domain. 

Nigel was the only male writer amongst 44 authors featured in the chart-topping, beach-read anthology of short-stories SUNLOUNGER. He also contributed a short story to SUNLOUNGER 2. 

On television he regularly presents on UK shopping channels where he has built up a substantial following. He has also featured on Channel 4, C5, ITV and broadcast live from America. He is also one of the UK's most popular craft personalities, having launched his own successful range, A-May-Zing.

As a writer he has written for many of the UK's most successful magazines and newspapers, specialising in showbiz and celebrity, as well as writing on subjects ranging from relationships through to exotic travel.

Follow him on Twitter @Nigel_May 

Guest Interview...
* Tell us a little bit about yourself? 
My name is Nigel Peter May, I’m a typical Scorpio, I write bonkbuster books, present some things on TV and love a good chinwag so I think I’m in the right place.
* How and why did you get into writing? 
I was a showbiz journalist for many years interviewing celebrities for magazines and newspapers but then when I fell into working as a TV host I concentrated solely on that, so for a while I didn’t really do any writing. I suddenly reached a stage where I missed it terribly so I thought I had better start doing something about it. So on my days off from TV work I started to write Trinity, my first novel. As soon as I began, it reignited my wordy mojo and I kept at it.
* If you weren’t a writer what would your dream job be? 
I would like to host the Eurovision Song Contest. I am obsessed with it and have been for many, many years. I speak French so I’d be alright on the language side and I do present on TV in ‘my other job’ away from writing so hosting the biggest song contest on earth would be a dream come true. 
* Describe a typical day in the life of Nigel May the author/tv host. 
It depends which ‘head’ I’m wearing. With the TV I normally present four live hours of TV a day, which I absolutely love. If I have my writing head on then I tend to get up really early and start writing by about 6am. I’m a morning person and tend to get a little distracted by the time Loose Women and Judge Rinder come on the TV so I like to start early. I will be fuelled by cups of green tea. 
* You are always smiling, what gives you such a positive outlook or are you miserable as sin underneath the grin? 
I love my life – I have nothing to not smile about. I have days where things can niggle me slightly but I read a book once that said if you have a negative thoughts about something during the day then shelve any angst until 6.30pm that night and then work out why you are annoyed. To be honest by half six you have forgotten why you were in a mood in the first place. I love writing stories and I adore creating characters so if people keep enjoying them then I will carry on smiling. 
* From your website and twitter feed it’s clear you love travelling - I could see you as a tour rep/cruise host - has this career ever crossed your mind? 
Grabbing my passport and heading off (in the name of book research of course!) is one of my favourite things to do. There’s a whole wide world out there to be explored. I’ve never considered being a tour rep or a cruise host but I think you’re right…I would love to do it. Now you’ve planted that seed in my mind you have started me thinking….as long as I can keep writing of course! 
* What book are you reading at the moment and do you read and write in the same genre? 
I am reading Shameless by Paul Burston at the moment. It’s a very funny book about gay life. Paul is the man who runs the legendary Polari Literary Salon which I read at recently and he has read some of my books and liked them, which was thrilling for me. I do like reading a god bonkbuster though and adore glam fiction. Jackie Collins, Victoria Fox, Shari King….all fabulous. I will read anything that grabs my attention though. 
* Tell us about your current book
My latest book, my third glam fiction novel, is called Scandalous Lies and is soaked in mystery, fame, celebrity and glamour. It centres around the disappearance of two famous UK dance stars, Mitzi and Foster, who mysteriously go AWOL during a trip across America. Mitzi’s best friend, UK weathergirl Georgia, is determined to find out what has happened to them and uncovers all sorts of nightmares and problems as she and her hunky boyfriend, Charlie, try to investigate. 
* Is there a message for your readers in your books and what do you hope they take from them? 
I hope that readers of my books find escapism and are whisked off to world of decadence and danger. The characters in my books are normally larger than life, surrounded by secrets and scandal and normally have some kind of inner demon to deal with too. Good books are like a good recipe – they need all of the right ingredients to make something delicious. My ingredients are always fame, glamour, travel, riches, sex, betrayal, envy, celebrity, murder and mayhem!
* What can we expect from you in the future? 
My next book is another sexy glam mystery, but at the moment is set in the 1980s to give it a slightly different feel. It has some very strong women in it, as do all of my books, and of course there is a mystery to be solved. There is death, destruction, bitching and some fabulous 80s fashions too. It should be winging your way next year. 

And now for a little fun, a glimpse at the real Nigel May:- 
What’s your favourite tipple?  
Vodka, lime and soda….with ice. And I love Cherry Lambrini. It’s like fizzy pop. 
Do you prefer savoury or sweet things?  
Savoury all the way. If it’s a slice of cake or a bag of salt’n’vinegar then I reach for the crisps.
Friends coming round  - cook or get a take-away?  
My partner is a fantastic cook so to be honest I am spoilt in the fact that Al will cook up a wonderful feast for friends. If it was left to me to cook it would probably be a good curry….delivered to the door. I’m not very good in the kitchen!
Do you prefer hot or cold climates?  
It depends. I will go anywhere that interests me, so am happy to spend two weeks baking on a beach in Barbados or spend a week whale watching in Alaska. Not that I have been to Alaska yet. Maybe I should set a future novel there. 
Do you prefer a beach holiday or city break? 
I love a city break. Europe has some amazing cities and I love jetting off for a few days. With the economy airlines being so popular and affordable it’s more achievable for everyone than ever before. Berlin is one of my favourite places to visit. 
Which would you prefer luxury cruise or fly long haul first class?  
Oh I’m happy in Premium Economy when it comes to flying. I only have little legs so I don’t need much space. Cruising is not really my cup of tea as the endless days at sea are not for me. I prefer to fly…..not that I have ever been first class (don’t tell anyone!).
Do you prefer to go to the cinema or theatre?  
I love going to the theatre. Musicals, comedies, drama….me and Al go off and see as much as we possibly can. The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper was incredibly good. And I could see musicals like Hairspray or Cabaret time and time again. I do like the cinema but there is something about the theatre that is so ‘alive’. I think it’s seeing the actors in the flesh. 
Which do you prefer comedy or true stories when watching a film?  
I’m actually a bit of a horror fan. I love a scary movie. The old Hammer classics are still my favourites. I do like old-school comedy though. If a Carry On… movie comes on then I’m there until the credits roll. 
Do you have any pets?  
Two cats, ginger toms called Jasper and Oscar. They were rescue cats and we took them in earlier this year. There are brothers but completely different to each other. Jasper is small but like an assassin – he can frighten a bird at 100 paces and Oscar is a lot bigger and likes to sit on the windowsill and stare out of the window all day looking at the garden. I think Oscar might be a tad silly, as he still hasn’t worked out how to use the cat flap. 
Tell us something we don’t know about you? 
I was one of the first people in the UK to interview Take That back when they first began. And I have reached the finals of both Pointless and The Weakest Link…and then lost! 

Thanks for visiting my blog Nigel :) 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

An Interview with Elaine Spires

About the author...

Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine's keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels. Elaine spends her time between her homes in Essex and Five Islands, Antigua (W.I.).

Find Elaine:-

Guest interview...

I am delighted to be hosting the wonderful Elaine Spires on Crooks on Books today. Welcome to Crooks on Books Elaine.
  • Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a novelist, playwright, director and actress who writes reality novels which include travel, sex, humour and twists.  I spend part of my year in Antigua, which I love.  I am also mum to a gorgeous daughter who is a beautiful person both inside and out.  When I'm not writing, acting or directing I can be found lost in a book or watching tennis.  
  • How and why did you get into writing?
I always enjoyed composition at school and loved making up stories.  As a member of the Anna Scher Theatre I loved writing and putting on plays, and I successfully staged one of my plays - What's Eating Me - on the London and Edinburgh Fringes.  I loved Eileen, the heroine of the play and didn't want to let go of her, so I turned the play into a novel; my first book.
  • Your books are travel inspired and loosely based on your own experiences, was this a conscious decision?
Yes, it was.  My travel background was a really rich resource for my Singles' Trilogy (Singles' Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way) and Sweet Lady and it's no secret that I've battled over-eating all my life, which is the problem Eileen faces in What's Eating Me.
  • What aspect of writing daunts you the most?
Promoting my books.  As an indie-author I haven't got a publishing house behind me so I have to do all my own publicity and promo.  It's not easy!
  • If you wasn’t a writer what would your dream job be?
I would be an actress.  Or a tennis commentator.  Travelling the world and watching tennis would be a dream.
  • Describe a typical day in the life of Elaine Spires.
Well, the mornings are usually spent writing - if I'm in Antigua I get up very early and sit and write on my veranda while it's cool.  My house is in a semi-rural area and it's quiet and peaceful and very conducive to to creativity.  I often meet my daughter or friends for lunch or afternoon tea - I love afternoon tea!  Then supermarket or errands before the shops shut, home for a bit of TV and then a bit more writing late at night.
  • You are based in Essex and Antigua - daft question perhaps but, if you could choose ONE base, where would that be?  
Oh that's like asking me to choose which child I'd throw out the lifeboat!!  I do love Antigua; the beaches, the weather, the fresh mangoes, the peace and quiet, the colours, the music, the people, BUT, I also love life in Essex.  It's a much-maligned county but it's a great place to live.  I can be in the West End in forty-minutes on the tube.  I love London and all it has to offer and then I can be on the coast fairly quickly, too.  And, of course, my family is there and life-long friends.  And I love the change-of-seasons you get in UK but not in the Caribbean. So I'm going to sit on the fence with this one.  Sorry!
  • From your own experience how do you cope with self publishing, a knock on effect is self promotion too?
As I said above, self-promotion is hard.  I'm getting the hang of Twitter, very slowly and I've got an author's Facebook page.  I have some great people, like Kim Nash and you, Dawn, who have been really helpful in promoting me and raising my profile.  But it's hard. 
  • Tell us about your next book.
My next book has The Banjo as its working title.  It's set in Dagenham in 1950s and 60s and will be the first of another trilogy.  Banjo is a word, peculiar to Dagenham, which means a cul-de-sac.  There were loads of them on the council estate that was built in Dagenham over forty years from 1920 onwards.  The story follows the 'lives' of the eight houses in the banjo and the families that move in and out.  The second book will be 1970s and 80s and the third from 1990-present day.
  • Do you get the chance to read very much yourself and if so what book are you reading at the moment?
I'd spend my life reading if I could!  My mum used to say the world could end around me but if I had my head in a book I'd never notice.  I'm just about to start Peter James's You Are Dead, no 11 in the Roy Grace series.  I've just finished Renita D'Silva's A Sister's Promise, which I can only describe as exquisite.
  • Do you find you read and write in the same genre?
No, unfortunately.  I love thrillers and murder-mysteries, Peter James, Val McDermid, Lee Childs, Angela Marsons.  I would love to write like them.  I am in awe of their ability.  Perhaps one day......who knows?
  • Is there a message for your readers in your books and what do you hope they take from them?
The sub-title of Sweet Lady is, Nothing Is As It Seems.  And I hope that's the message in all my books - nobody is as they seem - often people have so much to offer if they're given the chance and conversely, the good are often hiding something.  This is rather a long-winded way of saying - give everyone a chance!
  • What advice would you give to a budding new author?
Write!  Get on and do it!  Don't wait until you have the full storyline and all the characters complete; just start writing and the story will come to life on its own.  And don't worry about negative reviews.  Not everyone will like your work.  But, please, please, use correct grammar.  If you're unsure of something, look it up or invest in a grammar book such as Murphy's English Grammar in Use.
  • Where would you like to be career wise in a years time?
At the top of Amazon's best-seller's list!
And now for a little fun, a glimpse at the real 
Elaine Spires:-

What’s your favourite tipple? 
Bailey's on ice.
Do you prefer savoury or sweet things? 
Sweet - no contest!
Friends coming round  - cook or get a take-away? 
Probably take-away.
Do you prefer hot or cold climates?  
I can appreciate both but I have to come down in favour of hot. 
Do you prefer a beach holiday or city break?  
Once again, both!  Love the beach but also love exploring cities.
Which would you prefer luxury cruise or fly long haul first class? 
Luxury cruise. 
Do you prefer to go to the cinema or theatre?  
Nothing beats the theatre. 
Which do you prefer comedy or true stories when watching a film? 
Comedy if it's well-done. 
Do you have any pets? 
Not at the moment because of my travelling but I've had cats and dogs in the past and I do love animals.
Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I opened the first Chinese restaurant in San Antonio, Ibiza.

Thanks for visiting my blog Elaine:)

Her books...

What's Eating Me - Eileen Holloway is an obese mother of two, whose husband went out to see a man about a car one night and never came back, struggling to keep all the plates spinning.  But Eileen becomes a celebrity the day her mother puts her forward for Barbara's Beautiful Bodies, a reality TV show which follows the journey of the seriously overweight as they are put on a rigid diet and exercise routine to change their lives for better and for ever. What's Eating Me looks at what happens to her once her journey to reach her target weight is over.
Sweet Lady - the story with a couple of huge twists, where nothing is as it seems!  East London artist Eleanor West is holidaying in Antigua with her daughter Victoria before her latest summer exhibition.  When beach-bum Tyrone walks into their lives, nothing will ever be the same again.

The Singles' Trilogy:-

Singles' Holiday - Antigua, the Caribbean at its most luscious; cloudless, cobalt skies, silver sand, turquoise sea, and a group of total strangers, with just one thing in common: they're single.  Some have come just to have a good holiday; some for something more.  Some will become lifelong friends; others just won't get on.  But it is, perhaps, their tour manager Eve who has the biggest shocks of all as she takes care of her group through sunny days, boozy, balmy nights and a tropical storm as we get to know each group member, while they, in turn, get to know each other.

Singles and Spice - A singles' holiday to India's Golden Triangle - Taj Mahal, the pink city of Jaipur, tiger-spotting in Ranthambore, the noisy, crowded streets of Delhi - all go to make up a trip that is hot, humid and spicy. Eve Mitchell, Travel Together's tour manager extraordinaire has a couple of familiar faces in her little group of travellers and others that she hasn't met before; sexy man-eating pensioners, a compulsive over-eater, a constant whiner and a man with a personal problem. And there's a big surprise awaiting someone -and Eve! - one morning at dawn. By the end of the tour, which sees our group travelling by plane, coach, rickshaw, train and elephant, she will know rather more about some of their innermost secrets than she'd like.

Single All The Way -  Travel Together Tour Manager Eve Mitchell is planning a quiet Christmas at home to rest and relax before an extra-special New Year. But she soon, very unexpectedly, finds herself in the depths of the Essex countryside looking after a singles' group which contains some old, familiar faces and some pleasant - and not so pleasant - new ones. With its country walks, quizzes, disco and black-tie ball, the Christmas and Twixmas Break passes quickly, but just as they think it's all over the plot takes a twist and we learn some dark secrets...

Short Story Collections:-
Holiday Reads - Short stories for your sun-lounger - or wherever! Seven women, each with a different holiday problem. Meet, Olivia, who wishes she wasn't on a tennis holiday; Estelle, alone on a cruise; Fiona who's flying too close for comfort; Shelley, who shouldn't have got involved with a foreigner; Alison who finds our her husband's off on a cruise - but not with her!; Eloise who's having a rotten time in Ibiza and Karla who's desperate for her family holiday in Corfu to go well

Holiday Reads 2 - More quirky short-stories with a holiday theme for reading on the plane, on the beach or by the pool, your back garden on a sunny afternoon or curled up on the sofa if it's raining.

Two Novellas:-

The Christmas Queen - in which we meet up with Eileen Holloway again. Her whole life through, Christmas for Eileen has always started with loads of work and preparation and ended in bitter disappointment, and involved huge amounts of energy and emotion along the way. But this year, although she knows it will be emotional, she's determined things will be very different. This year she's going to be a Christmas Queen...
Weak At The Knees - Estelle is out and about making her Valentine's Day deliveries. What she discovers as she presents four very different women with an armful of flowers is a real eye-opener ...

COMING SOON - THE BANJO - A trilogy set in Dagenham from 1950s - present day.