In The Chair 69: Nell Peters

Welcome, Nell Peters.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Nell: Pantster. Twisty. Humorous (until my editor gets his big red pen out!)

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Nell: Assuming it doesn’t have to be a sexual relationship, that would be protagonist DCI Rose Huntingford from the series Double You, Santa’s Slays and (working title) Be Sure Your Sins. Rose is all the Fs – fat, forties, frustrated and fantasising about a job where she’d never again have to look at a dead body or haul herself out of bed before dawn. She has done well to progress so far in the patriarchal Met, but secretly longs to vegetate between designated coffee and lunch breaks in a proper job and get herself a life before it’s too late. I’m very fond of the character, not least because I took her name from my paternal great grandmother, who was born in extreme poverty in Kingston-upon-Thames Workhouse in 1876. Her mother, also Rose, was born there too and it’s impossible to imagine how hard their lives must have been. Real Rose also could have been crushed by the patriarchy and class constraints of Victorian society, but managed to pull herself up by the bootstraps and marry a wealthy landowner – the sort of social mobility that was almost unheard of in those times. What a gal! But then so is DCI Rose, albeit in a very different way.

If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Nell: I’d be an also-ran in one of my back list, The Call. It would be entertaining to listen to Gabrielle – an is-she-isn’t-she guardian angel – telling her charge, history teacher Chris Salmon, stories from ‘the other side’. She also puts him right about historical fact – for instance that Jack the Ripper was actually a woman, and why the Titanic really sank. I could learn a lot.

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

o-jamie-oliver-facebookNell: I’ve sat in this chair before, and went for the usual suspects like Agatha Christie and Ian Rankin – also Jean Jacques Rousseau, because I wrote a dissertation on him and wondered if he’d approve. This time, however, I’d invite some of my fellow Accent authors and others whom I’ve ‘met’ on social media. It’s a huge list, but let’s start with Jan Ruth (she’d only sulk if I didn’t invite her), Jenny Kane, Kelly Hambly, Gilli Allan, Eric McFarlane, Jane Risdon, Georgina Troy, Pete Adams and Eva Jordan. That will be enough for the first sitting, I think – even though we have a 9’ dining table (huge family!) people need elbow room. I loathe cooking and I’m rubbish at it, so I’ll sneak in one additional guest – Jamie Oliver – on condition he does the honours.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

shutterstock_185032865-700x467Nell: I recently wrote a 1500 word piece for a charity horror anthology. I don’t generally read or write horror – and I’ve never even seen The Exorcist, but when I was asked to submit, I thought I’d give it a go. And I really enjoyed the whole exercise, helped by the fact that the ‘horror’ brief was pretty loose and humour was allowed (phew!) My story wasn’t uber-gory or full of decapitated ghouls with running sores – nor indeed did it feature any scaly monsters with eight flashing red eyes. I mostly relied upon the suggestion of something ghastly and I suppose it also drifted into the paranormal. I’m not sure if I could manage a full length novel, but I’d certainly give it my best shot.    

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Nell: Self-promo! I’m an introverted soul and I don’t like to raise my head above the parapet – my mother’s words, ‘Who on earth do you think wants to hear what you have to say?’ remain forever echoing around my head.

Favourite word? Nell: WINE!

Nell Peters was in the chair, author of:

Hostile Witness: http://mybook.to/hostilewitness

By Any Other Name: http://mybook.to/BAON

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In The Chair 68: Anna Legat

Welcome, Anna Legat.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Anna: Pacey, acerbic and character-driven.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Anna: It would have to be Count Karenin! And I don’t mean the stiff, elderly character from Anna Karenina but the one from my DI Marsh mystery, Swimming with Sharks. His real name is Mikhail Lakso – Misha. He is handsome and even more exotic than the Maldivian location of the book. He has a deep Russian soul where many of his dangerous secrets are buried. It’s uncanny how some women are attracted to those dark, broody types. I am one of those women and on occasions (especially those innocuous fictional occasions from which I can walk away unscathed) I like to throw myself at the mercy of a dangerous man. Misha may or may not be dangerous –  ambiguity is his trademark quality. He is a man with a past but, when the fancy takes me, he will sweep me off my feet and take me to St Petersburg to show me the glitz and glamour of the high life. Can’t wait!

P1040507 (2)If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Anna: I’ve always been an observer. No centre stage for me! Even at school when all my girlfriends wanted to be actresses or pop stars, I just wanted to write. I could write play scripts for their blockbusters or lyrics to their hits, but I couldn’t care less about coming anywhere near their bright spotlight. So I guess, if I ever landed in one of my books, I would be watching from the side lines. Perhaps I’d be solving somebody else’s crimes. I’d be good at it; hopefully as good as DI Gillian Marsh, the lead detective of my new crime series. I’m definitely as incompetent as she is in my personal and family life – we have a lot in common. My husband would probably argue that I would make a fantastic Hercule Poirot. Apparently we have a few quirks and an odd turn of phrase in common. Surely he’s trying to fit a round peg into a square hole?

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

Chinese_Fold-Pak_000Anna: I am a very, very bad cook so no literary tycoon would care to come to my dinner. Not the alive ones at any rate if they knew what was good for them! I would probably have to serve a Chinese takeaway, but I would present it nicely on my grandmother’s china complete with her vintage silver cutlery. At least it would look good. I would love to have Ruth Rendell over. She is my absolute literary hero! Her early books in particular had me eating from her hand. But her characters are flawed and twisted, so to lighten the atmosphere I would quite like to share a joke over the prawn cakes with none other than Dawn French. We would have a hoot of a good time! Having Milan Kundera at my dinner table would be a privilege. The Unbearable Lightness of Being made me think long and hard about the meaning and purpose of life wherever and however you happen to live it. It’d be great to talk to him and debate existence well into the night.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Anna: Horror. I love to be scared, but I am too scared to write about it for fear that my worst fears might come to life! Fear is such a powerful emotion. One day I may gather all my courage and write one hell of a chilling horror.

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Anna: I feel people read less and are less personal about their choices these days. There is this mass culture that has made its way into the world of books so you will have those mega-superstars like EL James, and every man, woman and child will read her indiscriminately until the next mass trend makes way for another celebrity. As a writer I intensely dislike templates and I like to surprise my reader. I just hope readers still like to be taken by surprise.

Favourite word?

Anna: Décolletage. Don’t ask!

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Anna Legat was in the chair, author of: Life without Me & Swimming with Sharks. Web: https://goo.gl/JfQ0Sg

In The Chair 64: Caroline Dunford

Merry Christmas, Caroline Dunford!

SantaToymakerChair

How would you describe your Christmas in only three words?  

Caroline: Champagne, Children, Challenging…

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why?

Caroline: I’m sure there was a bit about Mr Darcy at Christmas, wasn’t there? (Actually I’ve always thought that once wedded Mr Darcy would be difficult and grouchy to live with.) I can’t say I have a thing for men with white beards nor am I particularly interested in sitting down and discussing accounts with the charitably challenged. Did Conan Doyle ever do a Sherlock Holmes Christmas story – or can someone write one, please? I’ve loved Sherlock since I was a little girl.

colnut2-blog480If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be? Caroline: Oh dear, I think I am showing my sad lack of knowledge of Christmas stories from the modern era. I can think of lots set in the past, but honestly if you like your creature comforts like staying warm and having enough to eat an awful lot of those Christmas stories are not where you want to spend time. I think I’ll cheat and go for a ballet – The Nutcracker. I’ve love to see everything coming to life on Christmas Eve.

Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve? 

Doctor-Who-Christmas-Special-2014Caroline: Steven Moffat (so I could get him so drunk he’d write me a promise I could write for Dr Who), Jane Austen (for wit and incisiveness), Conan Doyle (I bet he’d tell the best Christmas Eve ghost stories), Robertson Davies (the late, incredible Canadian novelist), Dorothy L Sayers (because Lord Peter Whimsy is wonderful). I’d also let my husband and children come too – because Christmas is about family.

I’m vegetarian so I’d be having some kind of dead plant loaf, but I never try to enforce my diet on anyone else, so there would also be turkey (free range), loads of veggies, particularly fine roast potatoes, my signature onion and red wine gravy, followed by profiteroles filled with cream and lavishly coated in chocolate sauce, followed by after dinner mints and a cheese board. There would be Champagne at the start, a good full bodied red for the main and cognac and fresh, black bitter coffee for afters.

image1If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be?

Caroline: I’ve done two. They are both short stories, The Mistletoe Mystery and What the Dickens? I much prefer the second. If I were to write another I think I’d call it – ‘It will all be over by Christmas’. But then my series, The Euphemia Martins Mysteries,is shortly going to crash headfirst into WW1.

What do you dislike the most about Christmas?

Caroline: I love the build up to Christmas. Christmas Eve is my favourite time. I hate the moment Christmas is over – whether that feels like the moment I swallow my last mouthful of Christmas pudding or the end of the holidays with the kids going back to school. For me Christmas is all about the preparation, people embodying the season of goodwill (why not do this all the time?), the buying of gifts and of course the Christmas parties. I love sharing food and presents with the people I love on Christmas, but eventually it’s over and at that point the next Christmas is soooo far away and I hate that!

Favourite festive word? Caroline: Pudding!

Caroline Dunford was in the Christmas chair: Author of The Euphemia Martins Mystery Series.

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Published by Accent Press

Web: http://ow.ly/VCsoO

In The Chair 62: Christina Jones

Merry Christmas, Christina Jones!

SantaToymakerChair

How would you describe your Christmas in only three words?

Christina: Cosy, sparkly, snug

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why?

Christina: Bob Crachit from A Christmas Carol (I’m a bit obsessive about Dickens…). But Bob Crachit, while possibly not my physical ideal – I tend to think he’s a bit of weed and looks nothing like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, but this is fantasy and a girl can dream! So, bless him… Such a cheerful, positive, hard-working chap despite the drudgery of his poorly-paid job, and the sadness at home (Tiny Tim – not a well child, and to be honest, possibly a bit of a goody-two-shoes – and no doubt getting *all* the attention). Sorry, Mrs C – but I’d like to spend a little festive time with your husband and show him the joyous side of Christmas – long before old Ebeneezer sees the light and sends you the turkey and gives you the pay rise etc. Bob and I could walk the snowy Victorian streets, hand-in-hand, peeking through the lighted windows of the houses we passed, watching the children decking the halls and dressing the new-fangled Christmas trees… And in the lamp-light, as the snowflakes fell, we’d listen to the angelic voices carried on the icy air as the choirs sing Christmas carols in the street for the very first time. And then, in the darkness we’d share a kiss under the mistletoe – and I hope he’d go home to his tumultuous family a happier man.

snowglobe-peppaIf you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be?

Christina: Peppa Pig’s Christmas. I adore Peppa and her lovely, cosy, happy family life. And I’ve read and re-read this story to my granddaughter, and it’s just perfect. Everything about The Pig’s run-up to Christmas is just perfect. Old-fashioned, amusing, chaotic, a little crazy – just like home! I’d be so happy there!

Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve?  

Christina: Peppa Pig and Charles Dickens and the whole cast of A Christmas Carol for the above reasons. James Stewart so he can give us all the inside info and gossip on the making of It’s A Wonderful Life. And J Jefferson Farjeon who wrote some gorgeous-to-curl-up-with Christmas mysteries back in the 1930s. I’m a rubbish cook but a good hostess, so I’d get them nicely warmed-up and relaxed with whisky-macs and my special snowballs, then serve the full traditional roast dinner – turkey with all the trimmings, and a big Christmas pud made by my mum who was an ace cook – oh, and as I’m a veggie, there’d be a nut roast as well…

redfaceIf you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be?

Christina: Christmas Stockings!

What do you dislike the most about Christmas? Christina: Commercialism. And the fact that it all starts so early. I don’t even think about Christmas until Advent. And the fact that the TV advertisers seem to think a sofa or a flat-screen telly is going to make Christmas soooo much better.

Favourite festive word? Christina: Mistletoe!

Christina Jones was in the Christmas chair: author of several award winning novels. Published by Accent Press.

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Web: http://ow.ly/UycOE

In The Chair 58: Eric McFarlane

Merry Christmas, Eric McFarlane!

SantaToymakerChair

How would you describe your Christmas in only three words? 

Eric: Family. Love. Not-turkey

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why? Eric: I’m tempted to say Rudolf but to avoid some aggro I’ll choose Prancer or perhaps Olive. It would be a short relationship as roast venison has always been a favourite.

If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be?

2005_the_chronicles_of_narnia_006Eric:  It would be the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. First, I’d lock up those stupid kids. Then negotiate a truce with the white witch who has obviously staked her energy policy on the promises of the renewables industry (Oooh, controversy). I’d negotiate a shale gas concession with her and an open doors policy so that it can be piped to Narnia via a wardrobe pumping station. Once Narnia had warmed up the witch might be in a better mood and perhaps romance might blossom without the fear of frostbite. The lion, faun and the rest of them would go in the Narnia zoo to be enjoyed by the other citizens as a reward for happily paying the 50% income tax imposed on them to pay for the expanding Narnia Nuclear Programme.

Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

Surely-youre-joking-Mr-Feynman-ReviewEric: I’d start where my own love of comic writing started with PJ Wodehouse. Thomas H Cook would provide the seriously good meat for the main course and Sofie Kinsella for a lightly spiced pudding. For coffee – Richard Feynman to give us a turn on his bongoes and explain life, the universe and everything as we fall asleep by the fire. Hmm, gender imbalance alert. Who else? Lauren Beukes for a turn to the dark side. Tess Gerritsen to keep us guessing and someone I’ve always wanted to meet ever since reading her first travel book Full Tilt and her quite astonishing autobiography Wheels within Wheels, octogenarian Irish travel writer Dervla Murphy. My goodness. I’m salivating. I really, really want this to happen.

rudolphIf there was any time for eating it would be something fishy to start, prawns, smoked salmon, herring. A main course of leg of roast lamb with roast potatoes, or possibly some roast Rudolf, sprouts (hey it’s Christmas) and mint and rosemary jelly. Pudding, a choice of strawberry trifle, Christmas pudding (see sprouts) or a cheese board with Manchego, Dunsyre blue and Jarlsberg (auto-correct wants to change that to Carlsberg!) or just about any cheese that’s new to me.

After a short acceptance speech for my award from the turkey preservation society we would retire to a highland bothy to sit round a crackling log fire telling outrageous ghost stories.

If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be? 

Eric: A Cloudy Damp Affair: a novel of love, lust and Christmas overtime at the Met Office, with too much pudding.

Me-fiddleWhat do you dislike the most about Christmas?

Eric: Easy, commercialism. Or perhaps not commercialism as such. Commerce is how the world works after all. It’s inevitable. It’s the ready acceptance by so many that you show love by buying stuff no one wants. Christmas isn’t about stuff. It really, really isn’t. Whether it’s a commemoration of your God coming to save humanity or just a week away from work, it should be about giving yourself, giving your time to your spouse, your children, aunty Senga or the irritating bugger next door who might just be a little afraid of growing old alone. And if, really, he is just an irritating old bugger well, you tried.

Favourite Festive Word?  Eric: Love.

Eric McFarlane was in the Christmas chair: Author of A Clear Solution. Published by Accent Press.

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Web: http://myBook.to/AClearSolution

In The Chair 56: Kelly Florentina

Merry Christmas, Kelly Florentia!

SantaToymakerChair

How would you describe your Christmas in only three words? 

Kelly: Sparkles. Friendship. Expensive.

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why?

Kelly: It would have to be The Ghost of Christmas Past as I like to learn from the errors of my ways and evolve. But also, I’d like to be reminded of the things I did correctly so that I can mirror them in the future or pass them onto anyone who may need my help.  I’m a firm believer in personal growth (at any age and any stage of life).

If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be?

Kelly: A Christmas Carol. I’m fascinated by time travel and would love to be teleported to the 19th century. It would be amazing to see how people coped without all the modern facilities we have at hand. I’m sure that I would appreciate our ancestors a lot more if I could experience what they went through and how they coped.

Profiteroles-560-x-730_51ef83e544c0c792cd004e7fdf2d1420 Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

Kelly: Oscar Wilde. I’d serve him a traditional Christmas lunch, I think, with all the trimmings. I’d introduce him to Elderflower Bellinis and we’d scoff profiteroles in front of the T.V. while watching Strictly Christmas Special. After a game of Scrabble, I’d pick his brains for writing tips. I hope he’ll teach me how to write clever, witty meaningful prose which will result in my first best seller!

If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be?  Kelly: Mr and Mrs Christmas.
……be careful what you wish for.

Kelly_ChistmasWhat do you dislike the most about Christmas?

Kelly: Buying presents. Don’t get me wrong, I do love buying people gifts. I love the whole experience of thinking about what they’d like, their tastes etc., but I always go over my budget, then I worry that they won’t like it! I’m relieved on Christmas morning when I’m given the thumbs up (I usually am).  Not sure if this is relevant but I also don’t like the fact that people send eCards instead of paper ones (or don’t send them at all!). I know it’s expensive (stamps) and time consuming (writing 30 cards is thirsty work), and, of course, it is their prerogative, but I love Christmas cards. For me, they’re a part of the decs (I’m minimalistic). Christmas is a time for love and friendship. I love sifting through my pile (I always buy charity ones) and choosing a fitting card for each person. And I love that warm, glowy feeling I get as I think of the recipient while I scribble away in their card. I equally adore getting cards. It’s as if I’m receiving a little bit of fairy dust through the letterbox. Magical.

MistletoeFavourite Festive Word?  

Kelly: MISTLETOE (kissing is scrumptious).

Kelly Florentia was in the Christmas chair. Author of: To Tell A Tale or Two & The Magic Touch. Published by Accent Press.

Web:http://www.kellyflorentia.co.uk

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In the Chair 52: Georgina Troy

Merry Christmas, Georgina Troy!

SantaToymakerChairHow would you describe your Christmas in only three words? Georgina: Family. Chaos. Fun.

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why? Georgina: Ernest Heminway in Christmas in Paris, simply because I’d love to spend time talking to him and asking him questions.

If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be? 

Georgina: The same as #2 above, because I’m fascinated by Paris in the twenties and the literary people that lived there at that time.

20150915_151850-1 - CopyDead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

Georgina: I’d invite Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf simply because I’ve got so many questions I’d like to ask them, and Jackie Collins because she seemed like a fascinating woman who I’m sure would be great fun and would cheer the conversation up, if necessary. I’d serve them a traditional turkey lunch with all the trimmings and bottles of great wine.

If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be?

BankJumperGeorgina: A Jersey Christmas!

What do you dislike the most about Christmas? Georgina: Taking down the decorations.

Favourite festive word? Georgina: Jolly.

Georgina Troy was in the Christmas chair. Published by Accent Press.

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Web: http://bookShow.me/1783757094