10 questions: John-Michael O'Sullivan, author of The Replacement Girl

Today's featured Unbound author (and therefore stablemate of my upcoming noir thriller East of England) is John-Michael O'Sullivan, who's here to talk about his book The Replacement Girl. No messing, it's straight over to John-Michael for the 10 questions treatment:  

1. Who are you, and what’s your book about?

I’m an architect and journalist, born in Ireland but now based in London. I write about photography, fashion and design for the likes of Esquire and The Observer. And for the past five years, I’ve been working on a book about Barbara Mullen, one of the top models of the Forties and Fifties.

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2. Why should folk read your book? 

We tend to take fashion at face value. And that’s particularly true when it comes to models: there are very few books about them, and those that do exist are largely collections of beautiful pictures, of beautiful people, in beautiful clothes. So this is a whole history that’s never been explored. It’s the story of how a profession that barely existed at the start of the 20th century became one of the most exciting, sought-after careers in the world — and the story of the women who became its first stars, a generation of pioneers whose attitudes and aesthetics still shape our notions of beauty today.) 

Most of all, it’s the story of a remarkable character; a girl from working-class Harlem who was catapulted into international society, and who’s always displayed a remarkable knack for being in interesting places at interesting times — from Mad Men-era Manhattan to Paris during couture's golden age, and from Forties Hollywood to life amongst the Sixties jet-set.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

Quite simply, Barbara! Her story offers a perspective on the world of midcentury fashion that no-one ever thought to explore, from the point of view of a group of women whose opinions were never sought. Also, there will be some beautiful pictures of beautiful people in beautiful clothes.

Barbara Mullen

Barbara Mullen

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

We’re currently crowdfunding the biography through Unbound, with the aim to publish next year. We’ve just passed the halfway mark — so technically we’re on the home stretch!

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

By day, I work in a design studio. So writing is the thing I do late at night, slumped on the sofa — or early in the morning, tapping notes into my phone on the Tube to work.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination — a wonderful exploration of how society shapes language, and of how that affects us both as writers and as readers.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer: 

Hermione Lee’s spectacular biography of Virginia Woolf; Norman MacLean’s Young Men and Fire: and Francis Spufford’s I May Be Some Time, which traces Britain’s obsession with polar exploration across the centuries.

8. Pick three desert island books.

The ones I go back to again and again are Graham Swift’s Waterland, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence — and, ever since I was eight, Alison Uttley’s A Traveller in Time.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Always read your text out loud. If it survives that test, it’s safe for the real world . . .

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch: 

Love. Hate. Glamour. Betrayal. Success. Tragedy. Frocks.

Social media contacts: 

Twitter: twitter.com/1972projects

Instagram: instagram.com/1972projects

Unbound URL: unbound.com/books/the-replacement-girl

Huge thanks to John-Michael for his time and input. It's well worth having a look at the project's Unbound page, not least for the great array of pledge levels and extras but also for some more incredible photos of Barbara Mullen. Hopefully, you'll be inspired to support the project and make this book a reality! 

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10 questions: Anna Lickley, author of Senseless

Today's Unbound author is Anna Lickley, whose novel Senseless is nearing publication. So, without any further waffle from me, here's Anna:

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Anna, I grew up in West Yorkshire and am back living up here after about 10 years in Bristol. I had a business teaching British Sign Language and Disability Equality before retiring on health grounds about 8 years ago (I have Neurofibromatosis type 2 and am deaf-blind now).

The great thing about retiring at 38 is that I have plenty of time to write and my first full-length novel, Senseless, follows the lives of Beth and Sam as they grapple through the rollercoaster of life as we all do.

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2. Why should folk read your book?

Senseless has characters who readers will grow to love. It is full of surprises, trauma, humour and resilience and everyone will identify with different parts of it. My proofreader asked Unbound to tell me that she ‘absolutely loved it’ and that it made her cry (hopefully laugh too!). All readers so far have been taken by surprise towards the end of the book.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

My editor said that it’s gripping and compelling, it’s very realistic and many people will recognise themselves in it sometimes (not literally). It’s a page-turning kind of book I hope!

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Senseless is through edits and just awaiting cover design and final tweaks before it can go to Publishingland. Hopefully, all will be ready by the end of summer, which is very exciting. It will be on Kindle and in many good bookshops or available to order from one. You can pre-order from Unbound via my project page (link below)

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

When I was writing Senseless, I tried to write every day, even if I didn’t feel like it at all, I wrote a minimum of 500 words if I could. Other days, I would sit at my computer for hours and only stop writing when my bladder was bursting.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Yikes, I haven’t read any! I HAVE read hundreds of fiction books though and I know when I read one that appeals to me. I did Google several sites to ask dumb, basic questions like ‘how long should a novel be?’ (80k seems about average, Senseless is 56k, hey ho). Mostly I write better when it’s just spontaneous.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Tough question, I’ve loved many books but I don’t feel they make me want to pick up a pen and write (or turn on my PC and type). Perversely, it has sometimes been not so good books that have pushed me to write. Books I want to answer to.

If I were to pick three compelling books I have loved and admired that are very much ‘my kind of books’, I’d say Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Room by Emma Donoghue.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

Definitely Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, I have read it about a dozen times (studied it at uni) and always enjoy it. It is a perfect novel on so many levels.

Middlemarch, by George Eliot as it is plenty long enough and I’m happy to read it many times.

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. The book that should have won the Mann Booker. Superb.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Just write your thing and see what happens.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

OK, so I had to Google ‘high concept’! I get you:

"Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe and be shocked as you travel with Beth and Sam on their messy, unpredictable and addictive journey through life and love."

Social media contacts:

Twitter: @annal_writes

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/senseless/

Previous publications:

Catch It Anytime You Can available via:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Catch-Anytime-You-Anna-Lickley/dp/099272970X

 

Massive thanks to Anna for answering these questions! Senseless is out later in the summer of 2018. It'll be available for pre-ordering from all the usual physical and virtual book shops, as well as direct from Unbound here

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10 questions: William J Meyer, author of Valkyrie

As part of the crowdfunding and whatnot for my own novel East of England, I'm showcasing other writers who've got projects with Unbound Publishing. Today it's the turn of William J Meyer. Over to William:

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

Hi! My name is William, I am a writer from Wisconsin now living in Los Angeles. I like to write novels, screenplays, plays, and audiofiction. My book VALKYRIE is about a Valkyrie named Hildr recruiting dying warriors for her own secret purpose. The book unites theatre and Norse Mythology to tell an adventure story of both sacrifice and grace.

2. Why should folk read your book? 

I think folks should read my book if they like theatre and myth. Large, explosive stories— but with moments of emotional intimacy. There’s romance and action and environmental concerns and the mystery of life and like much of myth, death and what happens after.

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3. What’s the appeal of your book?

One appeal might be, it weaves between prose and playwriting. Another would be, the notion of nested realities. The reader is an audience member watching a play, but they are also an actor in another, larger play. Also, swords and smooches.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

VALKYRIE is crowdfunding now on Unbound. It’s about 20% funding at the moment, so if you’d like to help bring the book to print, please visit its page on Unbound. Pledge rewards include concept art and original manuscript pages.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

Okay, I’ll describe the ideal day, saying the average day contains some bits and pieces of this. It starts with Twitter and breakfast. The Twitter habit is real. Then, a bit of reading to get my brain functioning. Currently, I’m half-way through ANNA KARENINA. Then I’ll do some writing, until about 5pm, and then I’ll take a walk. After dinner, I’ll do some more writing again, until I fall asleep. This sort of schedule is during the writing time I buy for myself with freelance post-production work, an example of which you can see in the VALKYRIE book trailer.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it? 

I choose Madeleine L’Engle’s WALKING ON WATER: REFLECTIONS ON FAITH AND ART. I like it because it challenges me.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer: 

GIANTS IN THE EARTH by O.E. Rölvaag for its multi-generational journey of Norwegian immigrants in the United States.

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë for its language and romance, and the religious ligaments that connects its themes.

A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs which, for me, was a revelation not to stifle my imagination. We can write anything. 

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

I’ll go with JANE EYRE again,  NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND by Hayao Miyazaki, and Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS. All these have romance, myth, and adventure to one degree or another.

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9. Any words of writing wisdom? 

Encourage empathy.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch: 

It’s colorful and full of music, like Coppola’s DRACULA. It’s melancholic and aggressive, like Kurosawa’s KAGEMUSHA. It’s theatrical and raw as an open nerve, like Tyrone Guthrie’s OEDIPUS REX.

Social media contacts: 
Twitter: @byWilliamJMeyer

Unbound URL: 
https://unbound.com/books/valkyrie/

Previous publications:

STRANGE/LOVE, my short story anthology podcast
www.strangelovepodcast.com

FIRE ON THE MOUND, my podcast novel
www.fireonthemound.com

Thakns to William for playing along! Hopefully, there's something about the book whcich intrigues you,and you'll consider supporting his crowdfunding efforts!

 

10 questions: Tim Atkinson, author of The Glorious Dead

As a means of supporting others who are going through - or have gone through - the process of crowdfunding their book projects via Unbound Publishing (my own humble effort East of England is here), I'm interviewing fellow Unbound authors. Today it's the turn of Tim Atkinson, whose post-WWI novel The Glorious Dead is being published later in 2018. Here's Tim:

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    1.        Who are you and what’s your book about?

Tim Atkinson – The Glorious Dead tells the story of what happened AFTER the guns fell silent at 11am on 11th November, 1918. Who cleared the battlefields and buried the dead? And why did so many men who fought – and survived – stay on?

    2.        Why should folk read your book?

It’s the untold story of the First World War. Thousands of troops volunteered to stay in France and Flanders for meagre pay, doing the Empire’s dirty work. Once the British Army finally withdrew (in 1921) many stayed on in a civilian capacity. Some never came home. People need to know why.

    3.        What’s the appeal of your book?

 War is universal and the fascination of the Great War shows no sign of diminishing. But there are still so many stories that need to be told. Perhaps the biggest of all, though, is the story of our own mortality and what facing it – as these men did, first in battle, then combing the battlefields for fallen comrades – does.

    4.        Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Before midnight on Sunday (July 1st) you can still pledge on Unbound. After that, it should be the shops (and be available online) in November.

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    5.        Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

My job is to get up, get the kids to school and then get in front of the computer. The walk back (from the children’s school) is great thinking time, and I’m usually ready to start writing as soon as I get through the front door.

    6.        Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Modesty prevents me choosing my own, of course! And I have to admit although I’ve taught creative writing classes, mentored authors (and written my own ‘how to’ book about it) I don’t actually read many books about writing. But one I unfailing recommend to students is the very funny How NOT to write a novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman.

    7.        Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Three? Impossible! Ok, then... but I’m going to have to make rules (for myself) like ‘no classics’. Otherwise, I’d seriously be here all day trying to whittle it down. So... I really really admire Sebastian Barry – not only as a prose stylist but as an insightful and intriguing writer. And The Secret Scripture was a masterpiece. I’ve only recently discovered Helen Dunmore and especially liked ‘Counting the Stars’ (although I could so easily have picked ‘The Lie’). Finally, I’m going to choose ‘The Emperor Waltz’ by Philip Hensher – Dickensian in scope but with the inevitability and tragedy of Dostoyevsky.

    8.        Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

Some might well come from the list above, but... the Authorised (King James) Bible would have to be there, as would Homer’s Iliad (in the translation by Robert Fagles). Finally... impossible to choose! More Homer? The Odyssey, maybe? Or something from Russia? Perhaps, The Idiot would be appropriate!

    9.        Any words of writing wisdom?

Keep it simple: one, write. You can’t be a writer without writing. (Sounds obvious, but it’s the most common error!) Two, write what needs to be written. Tell your story your way, or tell a story no-one else has told. Three, edit like mad. But only once you’ve finished. And preferably a long time afterwards.

  10.        Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

It's 1918 and at last the guns of the Great War fall silent. But for Jack Patterson the war still goes on. The enemy now is mud and unexploded shells as well as memories – both of the horrors of war and the dark secret back home that first led him to enlist... a secret Jack hopes isn’t about to be dug up on the Flanders battlefields!

Social media contacts:

Website: https://www.timatkinson.info

Facebook: https://www.Facebook.com/AuthorTimAtkinson

Twitter: @dotterel

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/the-glorious-dead/

Previous publications:

Writing Therapy (2008)

Discover Countries: India (2010)

Discover Countries: The United Kingdom (2010)

Tiny Acorns (ed.) (2010)

Fatherhood: The Essential Guide (2011)

Creative Writing: The Essential Guide (2011)

Homer’s Iliad: A Study Guide (2017)

 

Huge thanks to Tim for his time. Hopefully, The Glorious Dead shrikes a chord and it'll be of interest to you! The novel's available via Amazon here - other physical and virtual book retailers are also available! 

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10 questions: Patrick Kincaid, author of The Continuity Girl

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today's subject is Patrick Kincaid, whose novel The Continuity Girl has just  been published. 

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Patrick Kincaid and I am the author of The Continuity Girl, a comic love story set on the banks of Loch Ness in 1969 and 2014.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Jonathan Coe calls it a ‘wistfully entertaining romantic comedy’. I was wary of ‘romantic comedy’ while I was writing it – but I like ‘wistfully entertaining’. I think people find that the love story at the centre of the book resonates. Also, if you’re curious about the state of Hollywood in the late sixties, or the search for evidence of the Loch Ness Monster, there’s some detail here you might find intriguing.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

It’s one of those stories in which people from very different worlds collide. It’s also about outsiders – people who don’t quite fit in anywhere. I think at some level we all feel like one of those. Here, it’s a source of comedy.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

Amazon and other online retailers and bookshops throughout the country. Soon to be available in German, published by Heyne.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I still work as a teacher, a job that only gets more demanding. So it’s sensible to begin a novel in the summer holidays, to try and get a head start. When term begins, I write a very little every weekday – between 6.30am and 7.00am – and for longer at the weekends. Conrad managed 800 words a day - Will Self calls a unit of 800 words a Conrad. I tend to write in Graham Greenes – 500 words a day.  

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Never read one!

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

The End of the Affair, Lucky Jim, Restoration.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

They’d have to be big. Joyce’s Ulysses would be one. I’ve got a few translations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, so maybe I’d take the original and a teach yourself medieval Italian book.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

It’s really old, but you do have to be prepared to kill your darlings. This gets easier the more things you write – it’s tough when you’ve just that one book you’ve been working on for ages.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

What happens when a chic Hollywood career woman meets a naive British monster hunter, against a Scottish Highlands backdrop and with a 1969 jukebox score.

Social media contacts:

Twitter - @patrickkincaid Facebook – facebook.com/patrickkincaidauthor

Website: www.patrickkincaidauthor.com

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/the-continuity-girl/ 

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BIg thanks to Patrick for joining in. Hopefully you'll find his novel - available in all good and virtual bookshops alike - of interest!

Mne own crowdfunding book - a noir-ish crime thriller set in the flatlands of the east of Lincolnshire - is here: East of England. 

 

10 questions: Mary Monro, author of Stranger In My Heart

As you're no doubt painfully aware, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves, in a ten questions format.

Today, it's the turn of Mary Monro, the author of the just-published Stranger in My Heart

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I am Mary Monro and Stranger In My Heart is my quest to discover the lost world of my war hero father.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Understanding who you are starts with your family – parents, grandparents and beyond. Their lives influence ours in subtle and diverse ways, but the generations who saw the World Wars were mostly silent about their experiences and so we don’t incorporate them fully into our understanding. I want to inspire people to recover their family stories before they are lost forever.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

Stranger In My Heart skilfully weaves poignant memoir with action-packed biography and travels in modern China.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

It was published on 9 June 2018, available as paperback and digital editions from bookshops and online.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I wake early and often do some writing or researching before I go to work as an Osteopath. Sometimes I write in the evenings or if I have a free day I try to sit down for a good chunk of time, in between life admin tasks. I’m good at focusing when I need to – writing has to fit into all my other responsibilities.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

There are books about writing? I have just learned that Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande is a classic.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Beryl Markham’s Journey into The West is heartbreakingly well written. Laurens van der Post’s Yet Being Someone Other is a beautiful piece of reflective writing. Iris Murdoch’s The Bell is rich and compelling.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, The Heart of the Hunter by Laurens van der Post.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Write a lot and read a lot.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

A young officer survives intense battle and imprisonment in Hong Kong to escape through war-torn China, unable to hide or communicate, threatened as much by the Chinese as the Japanese. Later he faces another battle to rescue the PoWs he’d left behind, caught up in a power struggle between the architects of Pacific War strategy. In a bitterly ironic twist, he ends up in the blood and sweat-stained jungles of Burma, fighting a campaign that should never have happened. He dedicates the rest of his life to freedom.

Social media contacts: @monro_m276

Website: www.strangerinmyheart.co.uk

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/stranger-in-my-heart/

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Other retailers are available, though here's the Amazon UK link. Hopefully some of you will check out Mary's book!