I'd like to welcome Kelly Rimmer  to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of  Before I Let You Go  from Graydon House , a Ha...

Interview with Kelly Rimmer, Author of Before I Let You Go + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome Kelly Rimmer to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Before I Let You Go from Graydon House, a Harlequin imprint!

Welcome to Books � la Mode, Robyn! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women�s fiction author of five novels. Her latest novel, Before I Let You Go, will be released in April 2018.

Kelly lives in rural Australia with her family and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which will hit shelves next week:

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister�s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar�and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she�s not just strung out�she�s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she�ll lose custody of her baby�maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As the weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She�s in danger of losing her job, and her fianc� only has so much patience for Annie�s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters� childhoods, ghosts that Lexie doesn�t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.

The opioid crisis in the United States was recently declared a national public health emergency, and yet you started work on this book nearly two years ago. What inspired you to write about an addicted mother and the struggles she faces within the relentlessly harsh legal system? What kind of research did you conduct to write so accurately about the current politics of addiction and recovery for this often unmentioned population of women?

Addiction is an issue close to my heart, so I have been watching the crisis evolve for some time. The situation has been at �crisis levels for almost a decade, and I�m relieved that it�s at least beginning to get some national attention�although there�s a very long way to go yet before it�s effectively addressed.

I spent almost a year interviewing, reading, and researching to gain an understanding of the science around addiction and the legal issues involved in the book. I also, of course, spent time researching the complex issues for those who leave fundamentalist religious sects like the one the sisters are trapped within as children.


The novel really showcases how blurry the line between right and wrong is when dealing with addiction, and yet so often, women who are pregnant and addicted are dealt with harshly and in ways that negatively impact them, their babies, their families, and their communities for generations. The legal impact feels especially drastic in the book�s scenes when Annie delivers the baby and almost immediately loses all legal rights as a parent. Is this situation a common reality for women like Annie?

Laws around drug use in pregnancy are set at the state level, and each state handles the matter differently�but there are countless real-life cases like Annie�s across the nation, where women have lost their children or served prison time. It�s actually impossible to know how many women have had their parental rights removed like this because cases like Annie�s are often handled in the juvenile courts�which means case records aren�t publicly available.

At its core, Before I Let You Go is a powerful story of two sisters�Lexie and Annie�and the bond between them and the bond they both have with Annie�s baby, Daisy. How did you write about this relationship in such a real, moving way?

There are few relationships in life as profound as those between siblings�it�s a uniquely enduring relationship. Who else sees into the corners of our lives, right from early childhood? I wanted to try to capture the way those sibling relationships can stretch and bend under great tension�but it�s just so hard to break them, despite the fact that these are also the people we might fight with sometimes! In the case of Lexie�s special relationship with Daisy, I actually thought of her easy willingness to care for Daisy as an extension of her endless love for her sister, in a roundabout way. Of course, Lexie cares deeply for her niece, but her bond with Annie is so deep and so wide that she�d do anything for her and her child�even going so far as to step into her role as �mom� when the circumstances demand it.

You write in your author�s note about a favorite uncle who suffered from addiction and how that has influenced you. Even though this book is a work of fiction and not autobiographical, was your uncle an inspiration for this book?

It was the loss of my uncle that sparked my interest in issues around addiction in the first place. He was one of the voices of my childhood, always cheering me on and encouraging me to believe I could do anything. When it comes to my writing career, sometimes I can�t quite believe the things I�ve managed to achieve, but I�m also fairly confident that if my uncle were still alive he�d be quite smug about it�I can easily imagine telling me, �Well, I knew you could do it!�

But there�s also no sugar-coating it: my uncle�s behavior could also be immensely destructive, and this deeply affected both his own life and the lives of those who loved him, and the damage lives on long after his death for some of our family members. This is the nature of addiction�it is ugly and brutal, and there are no simple solutions because real lives are changed forever. Once beautiful, vibrant people get caught in its grip. That�s why I dedicated the book to my uncle, and although the story in no way reflects his story, that�s how he inspired it.

You�ve written several bestselling, acclaimed novels. Was the process and experience of writing Before I Let You Go different than your experience with past books?

The nature of the stories I write is that my writing process becomes deeply personal�but that was certainly true in a more intense way with this book. I think I lived and breathed Annie and Lexie�s story for six months and then �woke up� and realized my real life was actually still happening outside of my office!

What�s next for you?

I�ve finished the first draft of my 2019 novel�I�m so excited for the next one! I can�t say too much just yet, as it�s still in the very early stages of development, but I think readers who enjoy Before I Let You Go will love it, too.

Very exciting! Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Kelly! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!

Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of Before I Let You Go�woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Are you addicted to anything, or do you know anyone who is?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Kelly and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Me, no (other than internet or shopping addiction LOL). Sadly I think sugar addiction and alcohol/nicotine addiction are very rampant in my social circle. They may not seem as fatal as hard drugs, but can have health risks associated with them that society doesn't take as seriously.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist�a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends April 11th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US residents only�sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

0 coment�rios:

We Own the Sky Luke Allnutt from Park Row //  Harlequin A triumphant story about love, loss and finding hope�against all odds �We looked do...

Exclusive Sneak Peek: We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt + Giveaway (US/Can)

We Own the Sky
Luke Allnutt
from Park Row // Harlequin

A triumphant story about love, loss and finding hope�against all odds

�We looked down at the cliff jutting into the sea, a rubber boat full of kids going under the arch, and then you started running and jumping through the grass, dodging the rabbit holes, shouting at the top of your voice, so I started chasing you, trying to catch you, and we were laughing so hard as we ran and ran, kicking up rainbow showers in the leaves.�

Rob Coates feels like he�s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob�s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.


It was a bustling Thursday night. The streets were packed with commuters in suits, and you could hear the buzz of the work week coming to an end. I got to the pub before Anna and stood in the crowd of people waiting for a drink.

I saw her walk in. Even though we had lived in London for nine months, I had never seen her on her territory and it made me fall in love with her all over again: the cautious way she approached the bar; the calculations I knew she was making about the best place to stand; the way she fiddled with her new work glasses, which she said made her look like a secretary in a porno movie.

�Hello,� I said, and she turned around and smiled. For a moment, I thought she was going to hug me, but she just stared, intently, blinking as if the light was hurting her eyes.

�I owe you an apology,� she said.

�Why?�

�Because sometimes I wasn�t that supportive, of your idea, your software, and I�m sorry.�

�That�s not true, Anna, and you�ve essentially funded the whole thing by paying the rent...�

�Yes, but that�s not what I mean. It�s a horrible thing to say, but I think I doubted you. I�m very sorry. I feel very ashamed about it.�

She swallowed, and suddenly looked very sheepish. �It�s okay, Anna,� I said, putting my arm around her waist. �I understand that sometimes it�s difficult to recognize genius.�

She poked me in the ribs and removed my arm from around her waist. �Don�t get cocky. Wait, what on earth am I saying? You�re the cockiest man I�ve ever met.�

�Harsh. Shall we get drinks?�

Anna looked wistfully toward the bar. �I�m trying, although my plan of attack isn�t working.�

Suddenly, she turned to me and awkwardly kissed me on the cheek. It was chaste, like the kiss you would give an elderly aunt, but for Anna a rare display of public affection. �I prom-ised myself I won�t cry,� she said, �and I keep my promises, but I wanted to say how proud I am of you. Really, Rob. You�ve worked so hard, and you deserve all your success.�

I was just about to say something when I saw Anna tighten the strap on her laptop bag. She nodded toward the bar. �Let�s go,� she said. �We have an opening.�

�Did you tell your dad?� Anna asked, after we had found a table and I had gone over everything that had happened at the meeting.

�Over the moon, son. That�s footballer�s wages, that is,� I said, mimicking my dad�s East London vowels. �No, he was really pleased. You know how sentimental he gets.�

I could tell Dad was trying not to cry when I told him. He was still at the taxi stand, waiting for a call out. �Fuck me, son,� he kept saying. �Fuck me.�

When he had caught his breath, he told me how proud he was. �I still can�t believe it,� he said. �First Cambridge and now this. Taxi driver and a cleaner�no idea where you got it from, son.�

Anna took a notebook out of her bag. �I am very pleased of course, but I do have some questions.�

�Uh-oh. You�ve made a list, haven�t you?�

�Of course I have.� Anna flipped a page and I could see a numbered list in her improbably neat handwriting.

�Oh my God, you really did.�

She blushed a little. �It�s a big opportunity for you, Rob. I�m not going to let you waste it.�

�It�s a big opportunity for us.�

Anna fiddled with the salt shaker and took another sip of her drink. �Seriously, can we go down my list? I�m getting nervous now.�

�We should order some champagne first.�

Anna slowly and demonstrably shook her head.

�What, really? C�mon, let�s celebrate.�

�I�m not being a killjoy, Rob. It�s just that we�ll pay the absolute earth here.�

�Jesus, Anna. I just made one-and-a-half-million pounds.�

�I know and that�s good,� she said, hushing her voice in case anyone was listening. �It also brings me onto my first question.�

�You�re so sexy in your new glasses,� I said, raising an eyebrow.

�Thank you. That�s very kind of you. But Rob. Please.� She wiped some dust off the page. �So will they pay you a salary?�

�What?�

�On top of the money, will they pay you a salary?�

I thought back to the meeting. It was all a bit of a blur, but they did say something about a salary. �They will actually. They want me to run the company for them.�

Anna beamed. �Oh, I�m so glad.�

�Wait, you�re happier about that than what they paid for the software?�

�Yes, I am in a way. You�ll think me strange, but yes, the regular income does mean more to me.�

�Wait, what?�

Anna suddenly looked very solemn, her client face. �Really, it does. Look, the windfall is great, but it�s just a pot that will keep getting smaller.

Whereas your regular income is a pot that, over time, keeps getting bigger.�

�That makes sense I suppose.�

�One of the many benefits of having an accountant as a girlfriend,� Anna said, smiling and turning the page of her notebook. �Now, can I get through the rest of my list?�

About the Author


Originally from the UK, I�ve lived and worked in Prague since 1998.

I work as an editor at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and have written for various publications about technology and Eastern European politics.

I wrote about my father�s death from a brain tumor in Unspoken, a Kindle Single for Amazon. My debut novel, We Own The Sky, was published in the UK by Trapeze (Orion) in January 2018 and will release in the US from Park Row (Harlequin) in April.



Giveaway!


Books � la Mode is giving away
a print copy of We Own the Sky�yay!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What's something that never fails to break your heart?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Luke and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Anything that has to do with harm coming to dogs (like a dog dying in a movie) or orphans. They never fail to evoke an automatic tear jerk response.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher�a huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harlequin!
Giveaway ends April 9th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only�sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

0 coment�rios:

The Italian Party Christina Lynch from St. Martin's Press ( MacMillan ) Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany's...

Top 5 Shamelessly Fun Ways I Researched for The Italian Party by Christina Lynch + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Italian Party
Christina Lynch
from St. Martin's Press (MacMillan)

Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany's famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.

When Scottie�s Italian teacher�a teenager with secrets of his own�disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael�s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.

Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America's role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, Prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.


Ways That Researching The Italian Party Was Shameless Fun


I offer you, Young Aspiring Writer, two pieces of wisdom: a) novels take an absurdly long time to write, longer than it takes to gestate an elephant (and the results are much less charming), and b) you have to really want to write a novel or it tends to end partway down page one. Those who have the stomach for spending ten years writing about daily life in a Siberian prison camp well deserve the prizes they win. Me, I chose to write about Tuscany in the 1950s. I found a little darkness there, too, but I included just enough plates of pappardelle to keep me from putting down the pen for good.
  1. Setting my novel in Siena meant that (even though I had lived in Tuscany for four years) I had to go back for three weeks one summer and do research. I had to eat amazing meals night after night, because that�s what my characters do. I had to tour all around the stunning countryside and visit the hill towns because it�s part of the book. I really had no choice!
  2. I had to get into the mood of the book, even when it was February in California, which meant I had to drink Campari and sodas all year round. I did not deduct that from my taxes, even though it was essential research, out of fear that the IRS would engage in its own form of research...
  3. I had to spend hours idly flipping through the pages of Life and Look magazines from the summer of 1956�research. The same goes for Italian newspapers from that summer. I had to track what people were wearing, eating, the movies they were seeing, the books they were reading, and the refrigerators they were buying. Check the book: it�s all in there! I was not, as many people who saw me thought, wasting time.
  4. I had to lie on the sofa all day on many Sundays and read all about the glamorous life of Clare Boothe Luce, America�s first female ambassador, and her bejeweled, fur-clad years in Rome. Ditto for the mysterious stories of CIA chiefs, CIA wives and the never-dull Dulles brothers. If the lawn did not get mowed, you can blame research.
  5. I had to cook Italian meals for my friends, washed down with Italian wines, because otherwise I would not have been able to write with any kind of verisimilitude. I deserve a glass of Prosecco for spelling that word correctly, and you deserve one for reading it. Viva la research!

Giveaway!


Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Italian Party�yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Christina's question in the comments below:
What kind of research would you like to do, and what kind of book would you write after doing it?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Christina and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher�a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends April 3rd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

0 coment�rios:

Fatal Chaos   ( Fatal #12) Marie Force from HQN //  Harlequin First the calm. Then the storm... Escaping DC during the dog days of summer ...

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Fatal Chaos by Marie Force + Giveaway (US only)

Fatal Chaos (Fatal #12)
Marie Force
from HQN // Harlequin

First the calm. Then the storm...

Escaping DC during the dog days of summer is one of the smartest moves Washington metro police lieutenant Samantha Holland ever made. Beach walks aren�t quite as romantic with the Secret Service in tow, but Sam and her husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano, cherish the chance to recharge and reconnect�especially with a scandal swirling around the administration.

No sooner are they back home than a fatal drive-by shooting sets the city on edge. The teenage victim is barely older than Sam and Nick�s son, Scotty. As more deaths follow, Sam and her team play beat the clock to stop the ruthless killers. With Nick facing his greatest challenge�one that could drastically change all their lives and even end Sam�s career�will the mounting pressure deepen or damage their bond?


He put his arms around Sam and kissed the top of her head, his body relaxing in stages as the agents conferred and planned for a simple walk on the beach. Except nothing was ever simple. Not anymore. Well, that wasn�t entirely true. When it was just the two of them, alone together, it was still as simple as it had ever been, even as the world went mad around them. As they did when the madness swirled, they closed ranks, spent as much time alone as they possibly could and weathered the storm the best way they knew how, by keeping their heads down, their mouths shut and their arms wrapped around each other.

The press was desperate for interviews from either, or preferably both, but other than a perfunctory statement issued from Nick�s office after Christopher Nelson�s arrest, they hadn�t said a word about the controversy swirling around the president and his son or how it affected them. Nor had they offered any speculation on what it could mean for them if Nelson was forced to resign.

They were taking it one day, one hour, one minute at a time.

It had done them good to get out of Washington for this beach getaway with their extended family. Sam had spent weeks coordinating with the Secret Service to make it happen. Planning the vacation had been a huge undertaking that included finding a beachfront property big enough for all of them that met security requirements, clearing Nick�s schedule, taking vacation from her job as the Metro Police Department�s Homicide lieutenant and ensuring her paralyzed father would be able to join them for a visit. But the hassle had been so worth it.

In the three days they�d been here, Nick had been more relaxed than he�d been in weeks. Not to mention, he was actually sleeping rather than being tortured by the insomnia that plagued him, particularly during stressful times. Sam was determined to ensure he continued to relax and didn�t think too far into the future about what might happen when they returned to town the day before Labor Day.

�If you�re ready, Mr. Vice President,� Brant said a few minutes later.

Neither Sam nor Nick commented that they�d been �ready� fifteen minutes ago.

Nick kept an arm around her as they followed the detail down the stairs to the boardwalk that led to Dewey Beach on the Delaware coast. They�d garnered quite a bit of attention from people on the beach, but for the most part, they�d been left alone to enjoy their vacation. If by �left alone� you could overlook the Secret Service agents and the media that were camped nearby, hoping for a glimpse of the second family�or perhaps an exclusive, which wasn�t going to happen.

As they walked toward the water�s edge, Sam made a conscious effort to forget the agents trailing close behind them so she could focus exclusively on her husband.

About the Author


Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. In 2019, her new historical Gilded series from Kensington Books will debut with Duchess by Deception.

All together, her books have sold 6.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list many times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack�s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America�s RITA� award for romance fiction.

Her goals in life are simple�to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can, and to never be on a flight that makes the news.



Giveaway!


Books � la Mode is giving away
a print copy of Fatal Chaos�yay!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What is your dream car?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Marie and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Not at all practical, but I love Range Rovers!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher�a huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harlequin!
Giveaway ends March 30th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only�sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

0 coment�rios:

I'd like to welcome Tessa Arlen to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of  Death of an Unsung Hero , the newest installmen...

Interview with Tessa Arlen, Author of Death of an Unsung Hero + Giveaway (US/Can)

I'd like to welcome Tessa Arlen to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Death of an Unsung Hero, the newest installment of the Lady Montfort Mysteries from Minotaur Books, a MacMillan imprint!

Welcome to Books � la Mode, Tessa! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Tessa Arlen, the daughter of a British diplomat, was brought-up and educated in the beautiful Chiltern Hills of England, when she was not visiting her parents oversees in Asia, India and Europe. Her books are set in the pastoral beauty of her native England among its flint-stone villages, softly rolling hills, and airy beech woods.

Greatest influences on Tessa's writing are hands down Kenneth Grahame and Richard Adams for their wonderful descriptions of the beauties of the English countryside, and E.F. Benson and Nancy Mitford whose characters are so quintessentially eccentric and wickedly funny.

Her pleasures in life are simple: cooking and enjoying good food with family and friends, long walks with short-legged dogs and planning her next garden project. She lives in Santa Fe.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which just hit shelves this week:

In 1916, the world is at war and the energetic Lady Montfort has persuaded her husband to offer his family�s dower house to the War Office as an auxiliary hospital for officers recovering from shell-shock with their redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson contributing to the war effort as the hospital�s quartermaster.

Despite the hospital�s success, the farming community of Haversham, led by the Montfort�s neighbor Sir Winchell Meacham, does not approve of a country-house hospital for men they consider to be cowards. When Captain Sir Evelyn Bray, one of the patients, is found lying face down in the vegetable garden with his head bashed in, both Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson have every reason to fear that the War Office will close their hospital. Once again the two women unite their diverse talents to discover who would have reason to murder a war hero suffering from amnesia.

Brimming with intrigue, Tessa Arlen's Death of an Unsung Hero brings more secrets and more charming descriptions of the English countryside to the wonderful Lady Montfort series.

What inspired you to begin writing mysteries? Was the Lady Montfort Mysteries a series you always wanted to write?

Ever since I read Conan Doyle�s Sherlock Holmes when I was fourteen I wanted to write mysteries. I particularly enjoyed the Golden Age mystery writers: Dorothy L. Sayers Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham often referred to as the Queens of Crime who wrote detective fiction between the wars. And it wasn�t until I started to write mystery that I discovered that they considered their whodunits as a game for both author and reader: the elements of the mystery must be clearly presented but in such a way as to arouse curiosity, to entice the reader to try and guess the outcome and if they were as clever as the author, to guess it before the denouement.

I also wanted to write about the great country houses of England with their enormous and gorgeous gardens in the 1910s, where life for the privileged few was idyllic thanks to their servants, their money and the rigidity of the class system. The "have-nots" of course had a much grimmer time of it. My two amateur sleuths in the Lady Montfort series are from opposite ends of the class system and struggle with issues in context with their time and place in history. Clementine Elizabeth Talbot the Countess of Montfort is from of one of the oldest families in England and her housekeeper, Edith Jackson, was raised in a parish orphanage. Together these two remarkable women step lightly across the great class divide of Edwardian Britain to unite their considerable talents in clandestine inquiries that take them into all walks of life in the new 20th century when even the status quo was on the cusp of great change.


You have wonderful leading ladies in Lady Montfort and her no-nonsense housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson. Are there any supporting characters that came easily to you in the writing process?

I am particularly fond of my villains: I think Teddy Mallory in Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is a perfect example of an Edwardian rotten apple and I had great fun writing him. I write a short biography for my murderers: their physical appearance, idiosyncrasies, their likes and dislikes. I really enjoy enhancing the more positive aspects of their characters to camouflage their evil side, and then revealing little glimpses of their particular flaws.

But writing Clementine�s children came really easily to me, because I have three of my own �now grown-up, who gave me tons of fodder. In Death of an Unsung Hero, my favorite supporting character is Lady Montfort�s daughter Althea, who has skillfully avoided marriage to a "man of substance and background with a bank account to match" and has managed to engineer all sorts of opportunities for world travel. In the first three books she is a distant figure always off on another jaunt, but now that Britain is at war she is marooned on the family estate and is trying her best to run the local chapter of the Women�s Land Army or the Land Girls as they were called. The WLA was an organization tasked with providing farmers with labor�terribly important to an island cut off by the German U-boat blockade from importing food from America and Canada. Althea has to deal with farmers who don�t like the idea of city girls, or girls at all, working on their land. At the same time she is causing her mother all sorts of headaches as she is particularly independent in spirit and often irritated by the petty convention that young women of that time had to put up with. Althea was great fun to write she is bright, generous and sunny tempered but determined always to have a say in her world, to be effective and to contribute in a meaningful way. Althea could in fact be any one of my three daughters! There are some great scenes between her and her mother on the business of chaperones, and some lively moments with her and her brother when they decide to help their mother and Mrs. Jackson with some sleuthing. I found myself sympathizing with poor Clementine as she tried to deal with her independent daughter and her son, Harry, temporarily invalided out of the war, both of whom would rather be anywhere than on their father�s country estate.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out the research that went into writing Death of an Unsung Hero, and what time period Tessa looks forward to writing about next. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of the book, so you don't want to miss that either!

In your book, the officers are suffering from shell-shock (PTSD) among other things, when they arrive at the auxiliary hospital. How much research did you have to do regarding how PTSD was treated in the early 20th century?

I loved doing research for this aspect of the Great War, and my interest in shell shock goes back to a perfectly wonderful book written by Robert Graves in which he recounts about his WW1 experiences and those of his friends in Goodbye to All That. A complete non-conformist Graves blew the lid off the belief that it was �sweet and right to die for one�s country.� He was also a close friend of Siegfried Sassoon, the war poet, who was sent to Craiglockhart hospital for throwing his Military Cross into the Thames and writing a letter to the London Times about the waste of young men lives. It was such an inflammatory piece that he only avoided court martial by agreeing to undergo treatment for shell shock. From there I read about the work done at Craiglockhart hospital for shell shock, or Dottyville as Sassoon called it, by two very talented doctors who were pioneers of PTSD therapies used today: John Rivers and Arthur Brock. They believed that talk therapy and ergo therapy, the therapy of doing simple and useful everyday tasks, were instrumental in helping their patients recover from the mental stress of trench war fare. Craiglockhart encouraged its officer patients to write poetry and in my fictitious Haversham Hall hospital the patients were encouraged to paint. Any occupation that �outed� the locked down, stiff upper lip suffering of men on the front line for months on end was encouraged. Drs. Brock and Rivers were remarkable men for their time. Most military doctors treated shell-shocked men and officers with all sorts of barbaric methods: electric shock treatment, ice cold baths and other cruel treatments were the norm as of course was social ridicule. In 1916, after the Battle of the Sommes, the numbers of men suffering from what we call PTSD increased in such overwhelming numbers that it was finally recognized that their mental suffering was genuine and that they were not malingers, homosexuals or cowards.

Since you are currently conquering Edwardian England in the Lady Montfort Mysteries, is there another time period that you would be interested in writing about? 

I enjoy writing about times in British history that are full of conflict. I am particularly fascinated by the British Home Front in WW2 and in particular the arrival of the American armed forces in England in 1942 (after Pearl Harbor) when the United States joined the allies to fight Nazi Germany. There were over a million American men stationed in England for the last years of the war. The �Yank Invasion� brought a breath of supercharged air into a nation burdened by the loss of their young men after three years of war, the horrors of the London blitz and the austerity of food rationing and fuel shortages. Since I am an Englishwoman married to an American this offers me a great opportunity to write about the peculiar little misunderstandings inevitable between �two cultures separated by a common language.� But what is even more interesting to a mystery writer is that during these years a depleted police force struggled to cope with a soaring increase in crime mostly due to the very strict black out in force throughout the country, often making life on the Home Front almost as uncertain as it is on the frontline.


Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Tessa! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!

Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of Death of an Unsung Hero�woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
Who is your unsung hero? Whether it's someone you know personally, or a historical figure, tell us!
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Tessa and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher�a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends March 29th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide�there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

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Rainbirds Clarissa Goenawan from Soho Press Set in an imagined town outside Tokyo, Clarissa Goenawan�s dark, spellbinding literary debut fol...

From Aspiring to Published Novelist: Top 5 Lessons I Learned by Clarissa Goenawan, Author of Rainbirds + Giveaway (US only)

Rainbirds
Clarissa Goenawan
from Soho Press

Set in an imagined town outside Tokyo, Clarissa Goenawan�s dark, spellbinding literary debut follows a young man�s path to self-discovery in the wake of his sister�s murder.

Ren Ishida has nearly completed his graduate degree at Keio University when he receives news of his sister�s violent death. Keiko was stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister�s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate place years ago.

But then Ren is offered Keiko�s newly vacant teaching position at a prestigious local cram school and her bizarre former arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician�s mansion in exchange for reading to the man�s ailing wife. He accepts both, abandoning Tokyo and his crumbling relationship there in order to better understand his sister�s life and what took place the night of her death.

As Ren comes to know the eccentric local figures, from the enigmatic politician who�s boarding him to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, captivating young female student, he delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren realizes that Keiko Ishida kept many secrets, even from him.


Lessons Learnt After Publishing My First Novel


In October 2012, I quit my banking job. I was pregnant with my second child and having terrible morning sickness. But there was another reason.

I wanted to give myself a year to chase after my childhood dream. As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a writer. I was under no illusion that it was going to be easy, but I needed to try at least once.

It took me about five years to achieve my dream. Rainbirds, my debut novel, was published on March 6th. And here are some of the lessons I�ve learned along the way:
  1. Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint
    A cross-several-countries-kind-of-marathon that stretches for years.
    I was na�ve to think a year would be enough to write a book. I spent two years to write Rainbirds, a year plus to get an agent and a publisher, and two years for the publishing process. And I was told that mine was fast!
  2. You�ll need your tribe and a writing mentor
    Because writing a novel is such a long and arduous journey, you�ll need all the support you can possibly have. Get to know other writers who are going through the same thing as you. Cheer and help each other, especially during the toughest time when queries get rejected or worse, ignored. Writing groups, pitch contests, and writing competitions are great places to find like-minded people.
    Get to know someone who�ve gone through the same thing as you and have gone further away on this road. Look for writers whose works and personalities you admire. You�ll be surprised how generous the writing community is.
    I�ve been a mentee under WoMentoring Project and I�m a #PitchWars mentor. Both programs are free for eligible writers. If you think you might benefit from mentorship, I would definitely encourage you to apply. Mentors often go above and beyond helping you polishing your manuscripts.
  3. There is an element of luck.
    I�ve had the honor of reading quite a number of unpublished manuscripts. Some belonged to writing friends, and others I encountered while doing my #PitchWars selection. A few of the manuscripts are outstanding, but the writers are still unagented or unpublished. But these are great novels! What is happening?
    Let�s not gloss over the fact. A manuscript needs to land at the right place and at the right time.
  4. The hard work will pay off.
    Yes, I did say that there is an element of luck, but luck favors those who work hard. And you only need one yes (Okay, maybe two�one from the agent, and another one from the publisher). That yes might not come as fast as you thought it would be. But remember this: as long as you continue pursuing your dream, one day you�ll get there.
  5. Never compare yourself with others.
    Don�t compare yourself with others. There is always someone who will seem to do better than you. Comparing yourself to them will only lead to despair. Everyone�s journey is different. Make your own path.

About the Author


Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer.

Her debut novel, Rainbirds, is the winner of the 2015 Bath Novel Award. Her short stories have won several awards and been published in various literary magazines and anthologies in Singapore, Australia, the UK, and the US.

She loves rainy days, pretty books, and hot green tea.



Giveaway!

Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of Rainbirds�winner's choice! Yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What is your favorite type of bird?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Clarissa and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I think bullfinches are so cute! I'm no bird expert, but I like the cuddly looking ones lol

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher�a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and Soho Press!
Giveaway ends March 27th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only�sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

0 coment�rios: