My characters have their say (again)

You'll Never Walk Alone by Chris Hall Share the love this Valentine's month

‘I do like this new cover, Ms Hall.’ Cynthia opens the book and riffles the pages in front of her. ‘And I love the smell of a brand new book!’ She holds it out in a finely manicured hand and examines the cover again. ‘It conveys an air of romance, but without all those bulging biceps and bosoms like so many of the genre.’

Connor frowns. ‘I’d never really thought of it as a romance novel per se; it’s more gritty and down to earth, but with the elements of mystery and fantasy cleverly woven in.’

‘Oh, but Connor, it’s full of romance, right from the start. When Pierre sweeps Lucy off her feet… But you’re right; it has much more substance to it than a typical romance.’

For a moment I bathe in my characters’ praise.

Connor hands me a cup of tea, then picks up the whisky bottle from the sideboard and waves it in my direction. I shake my head. Connor shrugs and returns it to its place. ‘I hear you’re running another promotion*, Ms Hall; riding on the wave of Valentine’s month, so to speak.’

‘Romance Reading Month!’ exclaims Cynthia clapping her hands together so that the fine bracelet on her wrist jingles. I haven’t seen that before. ‘Charming idea.’

‘And you have a couple of interviews lined up, I gather,’ Connor continues. ‘You know, my few days at the Edinburgh book festival last year made such a difference.’ Connor sips his whisky-enhanced tea. ‘My agent’s got me an advance for another slim volume of my poems on the back of an interview I did.’

Okay, so my poet’s doing better than me. I did give him the agent though. And the gig at the book festival.

I change the subject. ‘Where’s everyone else?’ Normally I’m confronted with a roomful of my characters.

As if on cue, there’s a tap on the door.

‘It’s open, darling,’ calls Cynthia.

Lucy appears, her long blonde hair shining. I notice her face and arms bear a lovely honey-coloured tan.

‘You’re back, Lucy!’ I exclaim.

‘Of course I am; we’ve Gina’s wedding to plan.’ Well, okay, I knew Gina had got engaged after the book ended, I saw the ring.

‘Is Pierre with you?’ I should know, but my characters have a habit of making it up as they go along.

Lucy nods. ‘He’s got a job at Probe Records.’

‘I suppose having a…’ Connor interrupts himself with a cough. ‘Sorry, I almost gave an important piece of your plot away there.’

‘And guess who else is coming over for the wedding… oh,’ Lucy clamps her hand over her mouth, ‘now I nearly did I!’

‘There seems to have been a lot happening in your lives,’ I say.

Connor raises an eyebrow in my direction. ‘Enough to write a sequel perhaps? Of course we know you’re busy with another project but…’

‘…maybe next year?’ Lucy winks at me.


If you’ve no idea who these people are, or what they’re talking about, you’d better read the book!

*Valentine’s Month Offer:
Download for 99c at amazon.com or 99p from amazon.co.uk

read it anywhere

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Many thanks to author and songwriter, Kevin Cooper, for his review of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. My two animal characters are thrilled to bits at the shout out he gave them. “Sound bloke this Kevin,” said Fingers when I read out the review. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Author Kevin Cooper

When Lucy is given a beautiful ruby necklace by Pierre, a gorgeous man she’s only just met, her life suddenly becomes more complicated. 
But the necklace isn’t Pierre’s to give and he and Lucy are forced to flee from Albie Chan, the local Triad boss. With night-club owner and would-be gangster, Big Al, also in pursuit, Lucy is drawn into Liverpool’s shady underworld via a secret network of underground tunnels. Here we meet the enigmatic Aurora, her suave yet sinister assistant, and a band of strange little people.
There’s a kleptomaniac monkey called Fingers, and an Abyssinian cat with a talent for tracking which comes in handy when an odd little jade statue in the shape of a camel turns up. A possibly-forged painting is discovered, and there’s even a cameo appearance by 1980’s pop star, Pete Burns, although these two things are not necessarily related.
Finally, when the adrenaline…

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The Characters’ Wish

promotional items for YNWA lunasoline

‘She’s been making cards and stuff all afternoon,’ says Gina in a confidential whisper to Cynthia.

‘Cards? I thought it was a book launch? Anyway, how do you know what she’s been doing?’

‘We’re her characters; we’re in her head, aren’t we? So, of course we know what she’s doing; especially if it’s about to Our Book.’ Gina nods her head meaningfully.

‘Oh, I see,’ says Cynthia. ‘I’ve never noticed. It seems a bit impolite poking about in her head, though.’ Cynthia pauses. ‘But why the cards?’

‘Marketing,’ says Gary, joining them at the little table in the back garden. ‘Giveaways, contact details, that kind of stuff.’

‘Look at you, eh, Mister Marketer,’ Gina gives Gary a playful prod in the arm. ‘Ever since he left the Social Security and went to work in that posh insurance company in town,’ she glances down at her new engagement ring and smiles, ‘he’s come over all ”private sector”. He’ll be voting Tory next.’

Gary pulls a face at her.

‘Connor showed me that lovely review she received, from that nice young lady In Sheffield…what’s her name?’ said Cynthia.

Ellie Scott you mean?’

‘That’s right, darling. I though she caught me rather well, don’t you? I’m sure she didn’t mean to imply I was something of a lush.’

‘That would never enter anyone’s head, Cynth,’ says Gary, almost managing to keep a straight face.

Cynthia glares at him frostily and stares toward the bottom of the garden where Connor is gesticulating animatedly. ‘Who’s he talking to now? Or is he just declaiming to that old rosebush again?

Gina follows her gaze. ‘It’s her,’ she hisses. ‘It’s our author! Look, they’re coming this way.’

‘Oh well, in that case…’ Cynthia leaves her sentence unfinished and disappears through the French doors.

I follow Connor back up the garden. He’s been reading to me from his latest slim volume of poetry. Perhaps I’d like to include some of it in my next book. My next book?

‘Ms Hall and I have been talking,’ Connor announces as we approach.

‘Are you going to write another book for us?’ Gina asks, eyes widening with excitement.

‘Like that nice young woman suggested,’ adds Cynthia, emerging from her French doors carrying a tray of glasses and a bottle of wine.

What’s this? My characters are at it again!

Connor gestures to me to sit down on the garden bench which has been moved to a sunny spot near the little wrought iron table where they’re all gathered. I sit and Asmar, Cynthia’s beautiful Abyssinian cat, jumps on my knee, purring his head off.

Cynthia pours the wine. ‘We do hope your book launch party goes well on Friday, darling,’ she smiles at me.

‘Hear hear, old thi…Cynthia,’ Connor adds, picking up a glass from the tray and raising it to me. ‘Cheers.’

We hear a noisy old vehicle rattle to a halt outside. Moments later Bob appears at the side gate with Fingers on his shoulder who immediately starts to chirrup excitedly. Tony Wong is behind them in what looks like a new suit. He has an air of someone who’s come into money and has plans.

‘Well, Ms Hall, the gang’s all here,’ says Connor. ‘What’s our next story?’

I take the glass which Cynthia is holding out to me. Maybe. I lean back and close my eyes. Let’s see…

asmar


If you’ve no idea who these people are, or what they’re talking about, you’d better read the book!

Tunes from the book

YNWA by Chris Hall for UK on twitter

You see the couple dancing on the cover of my latest novel? Well, that’s Pierre and Lucy, whose prowess on the dance floor is a key element of the main plot.

There are a number of musical references in the book, and I thought I’d share them with you. It’s music which was around in the 1980s, so will be familiar to some.

Come and take a walk down memory lane with me…

Dancing Queen by Abba

 

You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) by Dead or Alive

 

Let’s Dance by David Bowie

 

One in Ten by UB40

 

Finally, this is how I imagine the fictitious ‘Kingston Jazz Cats’ might have sounded playing Godrell Clarke’s beloved American Jazz in the 1960s


If you want to find out how all this fits together you’ll have to read the book.

Have a great weekend further!

 

The Characters’ Verdict

youll-never-walk-alone-by-chris-hall-proof-copy.jpg“Here it is!” I hold up the proof copy of You’ll Never Walk Alone to Cynthia and Conner, who are sitting outside in the little garden wasteland outside Cynthia’s flat. It is pleasantly and unseasonably warm for an April afternoon in mid 80s Liverpool.

Connor stretches out his hand. “Let’s have a look then.”

I hand the pristine proof over to him. He turns it over in his hands and nods. “Look rather fine, I must say, Ms Hall. Worth the wait, so it is.” He flicks through the pages and frowns. “Print’s a bit small.”

Cynthia takes the book from him. She riffles the pages, holding it up to her face. “I love the smell of a new book.”

I nod and grin enthusiastically. “What do you think?”

“It’s very nice, my dear.” She looks at the pages more closely. “Oh look, Connor, there’s a little drawing of a cat here.” She holds the book out to him, open at the title page. “Is that my clever boy, Asmar?” 

As if on cue, Cynthia’s beautiful Abyssinian cat emerges from the bushes and stretches languidly in front of us, mimicking the pose in the drawing.

Cynthia turns to the back cover. “Nice photograph of you, Ms Hall.”

“Thank you!” I smile delightedly.

“It must’ve been taken quite a while ago.”

I wince. Cynthia leans forward and pats my hand. “Well why not? None of us is getting any younger.”

Before I have the chance to reply, we hear voices coming around the side of the house. It’s Gina and Lucy. As soon as they see me, they call out in greeting. I hold up the second proof copy I have ordered for my household of characters.

“She has our book!” Lucy and Gina say together. Never mind that it’s my book. Whose name is on the cover?

They take it from me and sit down on the tatty wooden bench next to the wall. They exclaim in delight at the opening paragraphs. Lucy and Gina are, of course, in the opening scene. They start to read and for once they fall silent. After a couple of pages they look up. I can see in their eyes that they approve.

asmar


You’ll Never Walk Alone‘ a novel by Chris Hall will be published next month (we hope).

Character Confusion

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Previously

I’m back in Cynthia’s flat and the main characters from my very-soon-to-be-published novel are all staring at me. They don’t look happy.

“The book’s going to be out soon. Aren’t you pleased?” I say brightly.

Connor stares at the bottom of his empty wine glass then looks directly at me “We’re pleased that you’ve set the wheels in motion, so to speak.”

“Good.” I nod. “I’ll get the draft copy of the paperback around Easter.”

Connor looks around the room at his fellow characters. Cynthia nods at him.

“Well, Ms Hall, the thing is…”

Lucy interrupts. “We’re sorry,” she says, squeezing Pierre’s hand, “but we’re not really sure about the cover.” She smiles at me weakly.

“Oh?” I shake my head. “Have you any idea how long it took and how many versions of my beloved’s artwork I uploaded before we, or rather I, was happy?” I frown at them all. “I’m really pleased with it. It looks really…”

 “Old-fashioned.” Gina interrupts.

I was going to say ‘retro’ actually. Like a Penguin Original.

“But why a drawing?” Lucy says, fiddling with her long golden hair. “Why not a nice photo of all of us?”

“That’s, er, not going to be possible.” How do I tell them they don’t actually exist?


Another true-life story of an author and her characters 😉

When your characters really come alive

fortune-cookie-elena-koycheva-40lenneek-on-unsplash.jpg
Elena Koycheva @lenneek on Unsplash

Connor turns from the window where he has been gazing out onto the empty street. “You’re the author, Ms Hall; we’re entirely in your hands.” He fiddles with the change in his trouser pockets. “But well, we were wondering, when exactly is our book coming out?”

I stare back at him, not comprehending the situation. My gaze travels around the room. Next to me, dressed in a blue silk caftan, legs curled up underneath her on the couch, is Cynthia. She is busy examining her beautifully manicured nails. Opposite sits Lucy, long blonde hair glowing.

“It’s just that it’s been so long,” Lucy says, a little breathlessly. “I mean…” her voice trails off and Pierre, her boyfriend, who is perched on the arm of her chair, squeezes her shoulder gently.

Lucy turns to Gina who is sitting in the matching armchair next to her. I notice she is fiddling with a shiny new ring on her third finger. The light catches the bright solitaire diamond sending patterns flashing across the worn Persian rug where Asmar, Cynthia’s cat, is lounging. He dabs at the flickering light with a casual golden paw. The blaring of a televised football match filters down from the flat upstairs where Gary, Gina’s boyfriend fiancé now? must be watching.

Gina sits forward and leans towards me. “It’s not that we’re ungrateful. We’ve loved our story. It was so exciting!” She pauses for a moment. “Well, mostly.” She frowns momentarily. “It all turned out all right in the end though,” she adds, grinning. “It’s just that, I’m sorry to have to say this, but we feel like we’re in limbo.”

I look around the room at these people whom I know so well; these people with whom I’ve spent so many hours.

Connor clears his throat. “Time waits for no man… or woman.” He takes his hands out of his pockets and puffs out his chest. “I have had a second slim volume of my poetry accepted for publication since you finished our manuscript.”

I gave you an agent, I think to myself. I fiddle with the pen I’m holding and glance down to see my notebook open on my lap.

Connor darts forward and grabs it. “Oh no, Ms Hall. No more changes. It’s done. Finished. You told everyone so.”

I hold my hands up. “I know. And it is. Finished I mean.” I sigh, my hands dropping into my lap. “I’m just waiting for the artwork for the cover.”

Connor nods gravely.

At that moment there is a knock at the door.

“It’s open,” calls Cynthia.

Tony Wong, whose flat is across the hall and who is landlord to Cynthia, Gina and Lucy, smiles and enters. He pads over the rug and holds out a bowl stacked high with pale brown crackers. “Would you like a fortune cookie, Ms Hall?”

I take one and pull out the little paper message, but it’s like one of those plot-halting moments. I can’t read a single word.


A true-life story of an author and her characters 😉

Would you buy this book?

liverpool skyline pixabay
Liverpool Skyline, Pixabay

When 23 year old Lucy is given a beautiful ruby necklace by Pierre, a gorgeous man she’s only just met in a Liverpool nightclub, her humdrum life is changed forever. But the ruby is more than just an expensive jewel, and Albie Chan, the sinister Triad boss, is determined to have it for himself, forcing Pierre and Lucy to flee the city.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s best friend and flat mate, Gina, has been tracking down the father whom she never knew. Now Godrell Clark, once a sailor from Jamaica who was part of the Liverpool jazz scene in the sixties, finds his past is catching up with him fast, all the way to Kingston, Jamaica.

But there is an even greater prize than the ruby, and passions run high when a mysterious little jade statue turns up in a pile of boxes belonging to the upstairs tenants in Lucy and Gina’s rented house.

Lucy is snatched by Chan and Pierre faces an impossible choice: obtain the statue for Chan and gain Lucy’s freedom, or hand it over his one-time guardian and employer, the mysterious Aurora, to whom he owes his freedom from his brutal childhood.


So, you know what this is? It’s my long-sweated over first attempt at a blurb for my recently-completed novel. I’m not entirely happy with it, but I’ve stared at it long enough!

Some of you may have read the story (or bits of it) as a work in progress last year, so you’ll have an idea of the story. Others won’t, and you’re coming to it cold.

Would you buy on the strength of the pitch?
Would you at least ‘download it for a dollar’?

Writerly friends, please would you care to give me some feedback? Constructive criticism really is most welcome.

2018 Christmas Charity Appeal – Help Me Raise £250 For The Dogs Trust By Leaving Me Links To Your Blogs And Books

In a good cause!

Hugh's Views & News  

The Christmas tree is up, but something is missing. There are no gifts under it, and I need your help to put that right.

#christmastree #christmas #charity #dogstrust

For this year’s Christmas charity appeal, I’m asking you again to help me raise some money for The Dogs Trust.

The Dogs Trust, formerly known as the National Canine Defence League, is an animal welfare charity and humane society in the United Kingdom which specialises in the well-being of dogs. Click here to go to their website.

Want to get involved? Here’s what you need to do.

  1. In the comments section of this post, leave the name of your blog and a link to it. This can be a link to your ‘about me’ page, a favourite blog post you’ve published, or the home page of your blog.
  2. If you’re an author, you’re also welcome to leave a link to any books you have published. So, for example…

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Writing for Children with Kieran Fanning

Great little interview. Check it out if like me you’re busy with a children’s story for NaNoWriMo.

A Writer's Path

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Our interview today is with Kieran Fanning. Kieran is a teacher in Co. Meath, Ireland.  He has an MA in Children’s Literature and wrote 4 puzzle/adventure books for children.

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