the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other Dorset writers

Best bits: The String Games blog tour

I have been delighted with the reviews I’ve received for The String Games during the blog tour that started on Monday 20 May 2019.

v2TSG Blog Tour poster

Here are the best bits and the blog links where you can read the whole review:

A story with an astute and lucid understanding of what it means to be a female growing up in a world of adversity and loss. Linda Hill, Linda’s Book Bag

The author writes really well and the attention to detail and the authentic feel to the narrative make this a compelling and thought provoking read. Jo Barton, Jaffa Reads Too

It’s ultimately a story of hope and forgiveness, fresh starts and new beginnings: it’s quite beautifully written, and I enjoyed it very much. Anne Williams, Being Anne

You you can tell from the start it’s going to be something special. Jennifer Rainbow, Bookworm Jen

A stunning piece of literature that is devastating and truly heartbreaking, with hope all rolled into one! Laura Turner, PageTurnersNook

Thank you to all the generous book bloggers who participated. Where would writers be without reviews?

The String Games is to be published in 28 May but you can pre-order here.

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The String Games: words and images

Following my earlier posts about the images that illustrate each of the three different parts to my debut novel The String Games, I’ve decided to post them all here to give a sense of the work that has gone into creating them. The novel acts as a coming-of-age story and shares the growing up experiences of the protagonist as she struggles to come to terms with the abduction and murder of her younger brother. Fiona Zeichmeister has cleverly demonstrated the growth of a child through the stages of development in these pictures: from child to teenager and the as an adult.

 

 

 

Together with the cover, I am absolutely delighted with these images.

tsg final cover image for use on_web

My publisher, Victorina Press, has also arranged for The String Games bookmarks to be produced. Here is the image that illustrates them:

bookmark_TSG

I have used to back cover design to create a poster to promote a blog tour which begins on the 20 May and which will offer reviews of The String Games by some notable book bloggers. Indeed, there is already one review posted on Goodreads to give you a taster of the novel.

v2TSG Blog Tour poster

The run up to publication day is an exciting time. If you would like to pre-order a copy of The String Games, you can do so at Victorina Press, Foyles or Waterstones.

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Introducing Danielle Maisano and her novel ‘The Ardent Witness’

I am really pleased to welcome Danielle Maisano to The Writer is a Lonely Hunter. She is also a Victorina Press author with a debut novel The Ardent Witness to be released on 9 March 2019. It is available to purchase here.

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I was lucky to receive a copy of the novel ahead of publication and really enjoyed reading it. Here’s a short review of the book:

Danielle Maisano’s The Ardent Witness is a character-driven novel set in Togo where the exuberance and camaraderie between young volunteers is shared and in Detroit (before and after the placement) where Lily’s personal development is explored. I particularly enjoyed the chapters set in Togo which included the frustrations, challenges and triumphs of trying to make a difference to the lives of people in a developing country. When tragedy hits, Lily reflects upon her own actions and her resolve to make a success of her placement is strengthened. This is a worthy debut novel. Thank you to Danielle for introducing me to Togo, a country I knew very little about.

And now, here is Danielle who has agreed to answer a few questions.

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Why did you decide to write a book, Danielle?

I don’t really think I decided to write a book, I just sort of started doing it. As I mention in my author’s note, I honestly never thought I would write about my experiences in Togo. I always wanted to write a novel but I never thought it would be about that. But when I moved to London after having spent my two years in a tiny village in Togo, I felt a bit lost. I was so homesick for the life I had left there. So I began to write about it and it was therapeutic. A way to remember. At first, I wrote about things as they had actually happened, but then I began to see a different story taking place.  Which sort of leads to your next question…

What is the inspiration behind your novel?

I moved to London to study International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies and as I was becoming more educated in things like historical materialism, dependency theory and heterodox economic models a lot of what I experienced in Togo was beginning to make more sense to me. So I wanted to find a way to write about what I was learning theoretically in a more human form, connecting it to what I had experienced as a development worker by writing a novel.

How did you decide on the title?

I took the title from an English translation of a poem by Pablo Neruda entitled “It Means Shadows” and I do think it sort of sums up the motif of the story –

“Let what I am, then, be in some place and in every time,

an established and assured and ardent witness,

carefully destroying himself and preserving himself incessantly,

clearly insistent upon his original duty.”

The narrator, Lily, is constantly looking for ways to do something meaningful with her life. She is young and idealistic and believes that she can make a difference in the world but she is struggling to find a way to do so. I don’t want to give too much away, but in the end I think she chooses a path that sort of embodies this sentiment. To be an ardent witness. It is both active and passive at the same time. To have a passion for life, morals, an ethical code, to want to do good, but at the same time to accept the fact that you may not always have the ability to change things, to right every injustice. But there is a power in seeing and sharing what you have seen. I think that, in a sense, is the duty and desire of every writer, artist, or poet. It’s what drives them to create.

Do you have a day job? If so, how does working in a different context affect your writing?

When I started seriously writing the book, I had just finished my studies at SOAS and I was looking for work so I had a lot of time to write. Then, in the year that followed I did an internship at an NGO, which was part-time. I worked in a coffee shop and also did a bit of freelance writing. So my schedule was much more flexible than doing a 9-5 job and that was really when I completed most of the first draft. When I finally did find a full-time job at a homeless charity in North London, that was a very unproductive time in regards to the book. Luckily, after about a year there, my husband and I decided to take off and spend some time with my family in the US and then his family in Chile. We were gone for about 8 months and that was an amazing time because I was able to really focus on nothing else but the book. If I hadn’t had that time I would probably still be writing it. Working  9-5 thing is very difficult when you are also trying to do something creative. But then, when I was looking for work, I also had a lot of guilt that I had so much time to write when I should be working or looking for work. Chile was different because that time had been specifically set aside to write and I was very fortunate to have had that, plus a very encouraging and supportive partner. Since returning to London, I’ve been able to do part-time and freelance work which I find the most conducive to writing but I realize it’s really a privilege to be able to have that option, one I still sometimes feel very undeserving of. But then again, I guess there will always be reasons or excuses not to write and half of the job is overcoming them.

Are the names of characters important to you? How did you choose them?

Well, a lot of the names of American characters were just names that were always floating in my head, like Sonia and Lily. They were always sort of these archetypical characters that I had named some time ago that were waiting to pop up in my writing. The names for the Togolese characters were more sentimental. Like the character of Fati, there was a little girl that lived near me, she was only about one or two years old when I moved there and her name was Fatima and everyone called her Fati. Her brother brought her over almost every day, we played together and she would cry when it was time to leave. She was the sweetest little girl and I will always wonder what her life is like now. I wonder if she remembers me? Am I some weird sort of memory to her? Also the name Gladys, there was a young girl I knew who was from Ghana and I could see she was very isolated and alone and some of the other girls made fun of her for not speaking French well and I felt a sort of connection to her. We were both outsiders. So in the book, there is a connection there.

What were the challenges in writing The Ardent Witness?

Basically the main challenge was just to keep going. Having the confidence to finish what I started and believe that no matter what came of it, it was worth doing. I think that was the hardest part in the end.

What’s next for you, Danielle?

I think I may have started writing my next novel. I guess only time will tell.

You can find out more about Danielle by visiting her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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Introducing Alison Morton and her debut novel Inceptio

IMG_3173_v_smINCEPTIO_front cover_300dpi_v_sm

I have great pleasure in welcoming Alison Morton to my blog. We met during a writers’ retreat in Portugal last year and I was hugely impressed by the quality of Alison’s writing and her commitment to see her novel in print. I’m delighted to say that INCEPTIO, Alison’s debut novel is published today.

 Tell us how you got started, Alison

An eleven year old fascinated by the mosaics in Ampurias (huge Roman site in Spain), I asked my father, “What would it be like if Roman women were in charge, instead of the men?” Maybe it was the fierce sun boiling my brain, maybe it was just a precocious kid asking a smartarse question. But clever man and senior ‘Roman nut’, my father replied, “What do you think it would be like?” Real life intervened (school, uni, career, military, marriage, motherhood, business ownership, move to France), but the idea bubbled away at the back of my mind.

I’d play with words much of my life – playwright (aged 7), article writer, local magazine editor, professional translator and dissertation writer. But I came to novel writing in reaction to a particularly dire film; the cinematography was good, but the plot dire and narration jerky.

‘I could do better that,’ I whispered in the darkened cinema.

‘So why don’t you?’ came my other half’s reply.

Ninety days later, I’d completed the first draft of INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova thriller series.

Of course, I made the classic mistake of submitting too soon, but had some encouraging replies. Several rewrites later and I’d had some full manuscript requests, even from a US agent (INCEPTIO starts in New York)! I had replies like ‘If it was a straight thriller, I’d take it on’ and ‘Your writing is excellent, but it wouldn’t fit our list.’

I was (am!) passionate about my stories so I decided to self publish with bought-in publishing services. Using very carefully chosen high quality professional backing (editing, advice, registrations, typesetting, design, book jacket, proofing, etc.), I’ve found it a fantastic way for a new writer to enter the market.

How is an “alternate history thriller” different from a normal thriller? 

Alternate history is based on the idea of “what if”? What if King Harold had won the Battle of Hastings in 1066? Or if Julius Caesar had taken notice of the warning that assassins wanted to murder him on the Ides of March? Sometimes, it could be little things such as in the film Sliding Doors, when the train door shuts and Gwyneth Paltrow’s character splits into two; one rides away on the train, the other is left standing on the platform.

The rest of the story, or history of a country, from that point on develops differently from the one we know. In my book, Roma Nova battled its way from a small colony in the late fourth century somewhere north of Italy into a high tech, financial mini-state which kept and developed Roman Republican values, but with a twist. It’s really fun working this out! But you really have to know your own timeline history before you can ‘alternate’ it. The thriller story then takes place against this background.

Stories with Romans are usually about famous emperors, epic battles, depravity, intrigue, wicked empresses and a lot of sandals, tunics and swords. But imagine the Roman theme projected sixteen hundred years further forward into the 21st century. How different would that world be?

So what’s INCEPTIO about?

New York – present day, alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to the mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe. Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, a ready-made family and a new career. But a shocking discovery about her new lover, the fascinating but arrogant special forces officer Conrad Tellus who rescued her in America, isolates her.

Renschman reaches into her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why he is hunting her so viciously. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it…

And next? I’m polishing up PERFIDITAS (betrayal), the second book in the Roma Nova series before it goes to the editor. You can find INCEPTIO on Amazon UK  and Amazon US

You can read more about Alison, Romans, alternate history and writing here:

Blog: http://www.alison-morton.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor

Twitter: @alison_morton

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