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 50: Jane Risdon

Welcome, Jane Risdon

How would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Jane:  Fast-paced, twisty, realistic.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nIf you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Jane: This is a hard one. Most of my characters are criminals and I am not gay, so having a relationship with the divine Ms B (Birdsong) is a no-go area. Having given it a lot of thought, I think I might well go for Ms Birdsong Investigates and her ex-lover and ex-MI6 partner, Michael Dante. He and she have had a long relationship which was rocky to begin when he was first seconded to MI5 for a series of operations, however, it quickly developed into a passionate and mutually respectful partnership, which ended violently when Ms B was ‘voluntarily’ retired from The Service when an operation they were involved in, went belly-up. She ended up in rural Ampney Parva with time on her hands. He was sent to Moscow.
Michael is confident, ruthless, and devious. He is drop dead gorgeous, but knows it, with a wicked glint in his eye. He loved to tease her, they rowed passionately and often, but he always knew if it came down to it, she’d have his back and he would (and almost has, many times) die for her. In-spite of his seeming arrogance, he is really down to earth and fun, but deadly serious about his work. I like him a lot and I guess if I had to tangle with one of my characters, it would be him; though DCI Luke Wareham would be an understudy.

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?

image1Jane: Difficult one. I’m not sure if I’d last five minutes in one of my crime/thrillers, unless I had the training and skills Lavinia Birdsong has. I’ve spent my life in music in a mainly male world, and I can get into a young male musician’s head so well having babysat so many of them, for decades, so I’d have to exist as a central character in one of my music related stories, such as Only One Woman – co-written with Christina Jones and scheduled for publication January 2016. I might like to be Scott, the lead guitarist in Narnia’s Children, as he manages to have two young women madly in love with him, whilst playing the field with all the ‘groupies,’ he can handle, and enjoying all the benefits at the expense of the two love-struck women closest to him. That might be fun – I’d get the slim hips and turquoise eyes! For once this is not a crime/thriller so I would get out alive unlike some of the women in my books, who don’t. A week on tour with Scott, possibly in Switzerland, hob-nobbing with Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, or in other exotic places in the late 1960s, with all that he experienced back then, might be fun to try. What could be more exciting than the Swinging Sixties and all that conjures up!

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

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Jane: Oh God! Where to start. I hope I can have a huge dinner party (I always love them the most), in a very old castle with enormous grounds. It would be a summer evening and the garden and banqueting rooms would flow into each other. The grounds would be lit by lighting designers, and fountains would gently tinkle as a background to the conversations. We’d have piped music by various guests playing not too loudly so people can’t hear. Some guests might even get up and perform when the Port and Cheese is served later on. It would be a buffet, so my guests could move around freely, chatting, eating, drinking and sitting in the gardens, or in the deep sofas and armchairs dotted around the rooms. Chill out zones would be set aside for the older guests or those wanting a breather. No smoking would be the rule.
I’d serve Crystal champagne and other fine wines. There’d be Oysters, with an ice sculpture centre-piece on the main table, with every shell fish imaginable, lobster and caviar. A selection of meats and sausages, cheeses from all over the world, a variety of vegetarian and vegan foods, as well as lots of salads; hot and cold, and huge variety of fresh bread and rolls. Wild boar would be roasting with jacket potatoes, outside on the terrace. Deserts would be plentiful including fresh fruit and sorbet; ice creams from Italy. Desert wines would be offered. Guests would be served by waiting staff, though they could help themselves from a bar with every alcoholic or other beverage they could wish for. My kind of entertaining.
BeatlesLet’s see, guests: I’d have to have Professor Brian Cox, Stephen Hawkin, Patrick Moore, Carl Sagan, Einstein – I love their intellect and knowledge and I can drive them mental with all my questions. Leonard Da Vinci too – what a brain and talent. I’d love Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Kathy Reichs, Karin Slaughter and Tess Gerritsen with former MI5 Chief, Dame Stella Rimmington, to be there, as well as Peter James, Peter Robinson, Michael Connolly, Jeffrey Deaver, John Le Carre and Frederick Forsythe. Oh and I can’t forget Doris Day, Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone. Also Elvis Presley, Katherine Hepburn, Margaret Rutherford, Howard Keel and David Niven. There’d be Alan J Lerner, Rogers, Hart, and Hammerstein, Irvin Berlin and both Gershwins. The Bee Gees, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, and The Beatles, but John would have to keep a low profile. Aretha Franklin, Whitney, and Maria Carey too. I would love to chat with Prince Charles so he would be there too. Dress would be for cocktails.

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

Jane: Well I write mainly crime but I have also wandered into ghost stories and what I call, observational humour. Only One Woman is leaning towards romance and I never thought I’d write a romance. I am not a romantic person. I enjoy observing the world and writing humour, and I think I’d love to write more; so I shall say humour.

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Jane: I love writing provided technology works. But really I just want to think my stories and they appear. I hate the physical writing by hand/typing. I dislike editing and although having my work edited is fraught with stress for me, I’d glad of an editor. I just wish I didn’t have to do any of it. I hate checking everything endlessly after I’ve written anything – I should be used to going over and over things because in the recording studio that is just what you do…forever and ever and….! I guess record companies and publishers etc. have all left their scars…and I was the manager, not the artist!

Favourite word? Jane: Discombobulated.

Jane Risdon was in the chair, contributing author to several short story compilations. Published by Accent Press.

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Web: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

In The Chair 31: Jan Edwards

Welcome, Jan Edwards.

How would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Jan: Conversational, chilling, humorous.

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

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Jan: Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties is a collection of supernatural short fiction, so probably not! Many people have been in situations where they have seen or heard something that cannot be rationally explained, and most are only to happy to tell those stories, which by their very nature are looking to chill and thrill. If I have managed to do that with my offerings then job done!

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

Jan: Right now I am working on a crime novel set in WW2 and I would love to be ‘Rose’ for a week in order to soak up the atmosphere. But… being the badge-carrying Fae detective romping through my Urban Fantasy series (currently with an agent) would also be huge fun. As I don’t plan stories in advance, and seldom know the ending in anything more than hazy ideas, I tend to inhabit the skins of main protags and watch the story unfold through them. For me writing is more fun if I am surprised by what comes next.

Jan in Hat 001

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

Jan: Ooh – tricky. I have organised a few conventions and had dinner with a lot of living fantasy and horror writers, who are seldom how you might imagine them from their writing; those horror bods are usually far more sane than the things they commit to paper would have you believe!  I would love to have met Daphne Du Maurier, who wrote in the spheres of horror, crime and romance with equal skill; Jane Austen because she was such an acerbic observer and Arthur Ransome purely because Captain Nancy was my hero(ine) when I was nine years old. If I named all the writers I’d like to meet we’d be here all day.

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

Jan: Having had a taste of scripting (as part of a team for a Dr Who spin-off coming out in August) I should love to tackle a larger project.

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Jan: Lack of money? It is increasingly difficult to make a living as a writer and I cannot see that changing in the near future, at least where novels are concerned. But – I may strike lucky one day and hit that elusive zeitgeist that editors are always telling us writers to aim for…

Favourite word?

Jan: Discombobulation! It just rolls of the tongue.

Jan Edwards was in the chair: author of Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties; & Sussex Tales

Web: https://janedwardsblog.wordpress.com/

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Home for Christmas: My Musical Christmas Muse

Christmas music; whats the first track that springs to mind? Its usually always Slade, that staple of commercial radio and drunken office parties. And as much as we may hate this stuff being regurgitated every year, it wouldnt be the same without it, such is the power of music and the way it can set a scene

The brief – to myself – was three, longish-short stories set in my usual comfort zone of Snowdonia, North Wales, UK. I wanted to make them all very different from each other, and Ive chosen three pieces of music which I feel sure heavily influenced my dormant festive muse.

I started my Christmas selection back in July and it was a tall order to find the mood when the sun was beating down on the parched Welsh mountains. This is where music plays a massive part, well, that and mince pies. I relied quite heavily on baked goods as husband objected to Christmas music in high summer, and even considering earpieces theres always a certain level of wailing-along to contend with. So, an empty house, a dangly piece of bald tinsel and plenty of icing sugar… 

Rudolph the Brown-Nosed Reindeer

Rick isn’t looking forward to his lonely corporate Christmas, but it’s the season of goodwill and magic is in the air.

An off-beat love story, with all the hierarchy of the Christmas office party to contend with. It’s time Rick wore his heart on his sleeve, or is it too late? Lessons in love from an unlikely source, in this case, Rudolph. This story has its wry fun, but Rick-the-Reserved is in major denial. Oh, hes the tall dark sensitive sort but theres a limit to self-preservation and hes in danger of losing whats under his nose. Rejoice is one of those tracks that seems to become richer with every listen, rather like peeling away the layers of doubt and indecision – something my main character needs to examine. Rick would do well to listen to the lyrics of this track and take some of them to heart. Above all, it managed to transport me to the snowy forest in the story. Can you hear the snow dripping and the fire crackling in the grate?  

Rejoice: Katherine Jenkins:


Jim’s Christmas Carol

Santa and Satan pay a visit. One brings presents, the other an unwelcome presence.

Paranormal reality? Jim’s played with fire and it’s time he got his comeuppance, but from who?

Paranormal isnt something I seek out to read, let alone write, but Sarah Brightmans track Angel, was one of the triggers for this story. Jims Christmas Carol isnt a serious tale, it does have an element of farce about it, but Brightmans track (and especially the video) is interesting in that the words and the imagery can be interpreted in many different ways, a bit like Jims Christmas Carol. And a lot like our kaleidoscope of beliefs when it comes to religion, guardian angels and all things paranormal.

Angel: Sarah Brightman:


Home for Christmas

Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Fa la-la la-la, la-la la-la. Tis the Season to be jolly…

Romantic-comedy. Pip might accidentally find her true vocation, but the folly of her fibs are about to catch up with her…

The local village play, Deck the Halls, not only saves Philippa Lewisham from herself but promises an entirely different direction for New Year. She’s something of an old-fashioned girl, hiding behind a carefully fabricated facade of career-driven feminism – but she’s very much a fun-loving party-girl too, who’s perhaps lost her way a little. 

I love the drunken fun of the Pogues song. It never fails to make me feel Christmassy, and lots of scenes in Deck the Halls take place in the village pub and the old school hall with a jangly old piano. In this story I flirt with romantic-comedy and yes it does have a happy ever after, but I cant bear mushy sentiment in books, film or music, so for me, The Pogues track IS Christmas.  

 The Pogues: Fairytale of New York (You WILL sing, and you will tap your feet):


Merry Christmas! Nadolig Llawen!

Originally posted on The Roz Morris Undercover Soundtrack: http://mymemoriesofafuturelife.com/tag/jan-ruth/ 

Short Stories: How Short and How Tight Should They Be?

When someone says shorts what does it mean to you? I always used to prefer those continental jobs that the tennis players favour. But are they short trousers, or long shorts? These days, now that I am back to writing ‘shorts’ mean something totally different.

I’ve always written novel length stories, and I’m thinking now that my penchant for long trousers may have a subjective effect on all of this. I hate my legs in shorts! Does it explain why I find writing short stories so difficult? They are time capsules, a brief but intense insight into someones world. They still have to carry all the same criteria as a novel, but all the principles have to be honed to within an inch of their life, or hems, if you want to stay with the theme. The length can vary from ankle grazing continental style (almost a novella, but not quite?) to an old fashioned pair of budgie smugglers… flash fiction?

I think mine are the discreet kind, just on the knee or maybe slightly above. Is all this the first signs of madness? Oh, very probably, and yet I found someone from the same sewing box. John Hudspith is a man with pins in his mouth and a pair of pinking shears in his hand. I send the big roll of material to him and it comes back all cut out into smaller, more pleasing shapes. He can turn any billowing sheet of raw silk into a pleasing pair of shorts. A silk purse from a pig’s ear. This is my editor’s comfort zone without a doubt, he devours the over-worded paragraph with the tenacity of a royal dress maker. When I’m writing I see him in my minds eye with a machete, bearing down on the over-grown narrative until I give in and hit delete.

Let’s be serious for a moment now. I have a small but tortured history of working with editors, agents and publishers and one develops a ‘nose’ for the real thing, like the fragrance of fresh washed cotton… Oops sorry about that, lapsed into analogy again. When I was introduced to John Hudspith I don’t mind admitting I was on the verge of despair. I’d had dealings with a big editorial company from London some thirty years ago, so I know how editing and proofreading should work but of course with self publishing we don’t have the cash advances and the backing, and we have to make all of these decisions for ourselves. I wanted to find someone with those same skills who didn’t charge the London prices. I struggled. I was let down, and disappointed. The internet is a very messy sewing box and not everyone puts the needles and pins in a safe place.

Until I found John Hudspith. I want to see his shorts. I’m betting they are very very small.

shorts