Monthly Archives: February 2017

Accent On … Rachel Ennis.

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Hi Rachel, and welcome to Writing in the Sand and the February edition of Accent On ….

Thanks so much for having me as a guest, April. I’m delighted to be one of the first up in your new ‘Accent On’ series.

Your 6th  Polvellan Cornish mystery, Moving On is about to be released and I was wondering, when you wrote the first book, Family Matters, did you plan to write a series of 6? And what was the inspiration behind the book/series?

I was offered the chance to contribute a short story to Accent’s Christmas Anthology, ‘Wishing On A Star.’  As a novelist I’m not really good at ‘short’, but the idea appealed and ‘Family Matters’ was the result.  It was the longest short story in the anthology!   My editor was keen on the idea of a series – we hadn’t decided how many at that point – and I wanted to write something contemporary set in a location I know and love, featuring regular characters that readers would get to know in greater depth over the series with the added intrigue of a mystery for Jess to solve in each book.

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I’ll have to get my hands on a copy of the anthology – sounds great! Now, you’ve mentioned Jess – the series features Jess Trevanion who, in book 1 returns, newly widowed, to the village where she grew up. She buys a small neglected cottage and sets up her own dual business, accountancy and researching people’s family trees.Are either/both of these, careers you’ve followed yourself before becoming an author? Or is genealogy something you are interested in as a hobby? Have you researched your own family tree?

My husband was self-employed before he retired. I did his accounts and have always done my own so this was something I knew a little about. I knew nothing at all about genealogy though I have a copy of my father’s family tree compiled by my uncle that goes back to 1759.  Family legend says we have links to Robert the Bruce, but I haven’t had time to look. I am fascinated by the discoveries Jess makes when she’s asked to look into someone’s family background.  I’d give examples, but they’d be ‘spoilers’ for anyone who hasn’t read the stories.

Intriguing! I’ve started book one, which I’m thoroughly enjoying, and I’m looking forward to finding out more. So, where do you write?

My office is a room in our double-garage with a large window that overlooks fields and woods. At the moment the fields are full of daffodils. But because the bulbs have been in for three years they’ll be dug up in autumn.

Sounds an ideal view for musing over story-lines. And do you prefer to work in silence or are you happy to work with background noise?

Definitely silence. But the weird thing is that my husband can have machinery running or be hammering something in his workshop on the other side of the garage, yet because in my head I’m away in Polvellan, I don’t hear a thing.

And when you’re not writing, what do you like to read, and where is your favourite place for reading?

I enjoy crime, thrillers, political biographies, and the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett who was an absolute genius. I can read anywhere except the bath.  A comfy chair, good light, the occasional cuppa, and I’m happy. And I always read before I go to sleep. So many books, so little time!

How true! Those “to be read” bookshelves just seem to keep on growing!  I actually love to read in the bath, which is one reason I prefer paperbacks – much less of a problem if I drop it! Do you prefer physical books or an e-reader? And why?

I alternate between the two.  An e-reader is wonderfully convenient as it holds so many books, the font size is adjustable, and it fits into a handbag. Yet I still enjoy a physical book, the smell and texture of it.  Our monthly mobile library van only carries physical books and I usually borrow 6-8 at a time. 

Cornwall makes such a wonderful setting – you can see why its popularity with authors just grows and grows. Are the places mentioned in the series a mixture of real and fictional?

Yes! 

I thought so – I do that myself, dotting fictional villages all over the New Forest, but never far from some real ones. I’d love to know how you came to be published by Accent Press?

About four years ago Lesley Cookman, author of the hugely popular Libby Sarjeant series set in Steeple Martin, mentioned on Facebook that Hazel Cushion, MD of Accent Press was looking for authors of historical fiction.  I emailed Lesley, mentioned my publishing history, sent her two titles and asked if she thought Hazel might be interested. Lesley passed them on, and Hazel was. ‘The Consul’s Daughter’ was shortlisted for the 2016 RoNA Historical Prize, and ‘Crosscurrents” was shortlisted for the 2016 Winston Graham Historical Prize.

Sounds like 2016 was a jolly good year! And what can we look forward to next?

I have almost finished writing the seventh in the series, called ‘Silver Linings’  and will start Book 8 immediately as I’m dying to know what happens next.

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That’s great news! Congratulations! Below is the Amazon blurb for Moving On. Now I’m determined to read them in order so it’ll take me a while to get to this one, but I’m looking forward to it already …

When investigator of historical mysteries Jess Trevanion is presented with a painting of a beautiful woman, and asked to identify who it depicts, she jumps at the chance to take her mind off things. Her relationship with Tom Peters isn’t all smooth sailing at the moment – and the painting’s handsome owner, Captain Harry Carveth, is a welcome distraction himself.  The painting has been hidden in the Carveth family home for over a hundred years – but why? Jess’s research takes her back to the tumult of nineteenth-century Europe…

Meanwhile, Jess’s friend Mor is gearing up for her wedding to partner Ben – a happy occasion for the village of Polvellan. But just when things might be on the up, one of Jess’s loved ones is rushed into hospital…

The sixth in the warm-hearted Polvellan Mysteries set in beautiful Cornwall.”

Amazon Link:https://goo.gl/ZM2X4G

Lastly, Rachel, is there anything you’d like to tell readers about yourself which might surprise them?

Well, I was once driven down the motorway at 100 miles an hour in the boot of a Mk 10 Jag driven by two Motor Patrol Officers. (I was a police cadet and it wasn’t my idea)

Also, our village newsagent is teaching me Berber.

Gosh! Well, good luck with the Berber, and with Moving On and the rest of the series. And thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

And next month’s post will put the Accent On … Nope! You’ll just have to wait and see!

Fab Fiction, Fab Food – At Emirates Lit Fest …

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This year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is getting closer, and one of the events I’m looking forward to attending is The Great British Afternoon Tea, with Nadiya Hussain.

Last week I mentioned the session Nadiya, lovely Sue Moorcroft and myself will be doing on Friday 3rd March, Secret Lives & Summer Love – Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Well, Sue will also be busy, tutoring a 3-day creative writing course – Start Up Writing Class from Sunday 5th, which I’d highly recommend for any budding authors here in Dubai. I’ll be visiting some schools. And Nadiya will, of course, be doing some “foodie” sessions, the first of which, Bake Me a Story – The Gingerbread Guy, takes place on Friday 3rd at 11.30am. I believe the book’s aimed at 6-11 year olds, but that’s not going to stop me slipping in at the back of the room and joining in the fun!

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Here’s how the website describes it – “The Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain’s Bake Me a Story provides a new twist on fairy tale favourites – by matching them with her recipes so that parents and children can bake together!
In this enchanting storytelling session, Nadiya will share her take on classic tales, with stories including the ‘The Gingerbread Guy’, ‘Jack and the Bean-Patty Stalk’, and ‘Ruby-Red and the Three Bears’.
And what about a demonstration of our favourite baker’s showstopping talent? Nadiya will decorate a Gingerbread Guy on stage and then children will receive a gingerbread man of their own to take home!”

Ooh! I wonder if there’ll be any extras – I am partial to a gingerbread man! But 2.30pm Saturday 4th is an event for which I’ll definitely be putting on my loosest trousers …

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Here’s what the website says – “From the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party to Proust’s madeleines, afternoon tea is one of the most celebrated mealtimes in literature. It therefore seems fitting we share it with one of the most celebrated names in baking: 2015 Great British Bake Off Champion, author of cookbooks and contemporary fiction, Nadiya Hussain.
Join us for an afternoon of tea (or coffee), cake and conversation as you listen to Nadiya discuss Bake Off, Buckingham Palace and beyond in her unforgettable journey from family kitchen to overnight superstar.
If you enjoy a delicious success story, the elegance of afternoon tea, or simply love cake, this is the event for you… whichever way you slice it.”

Well, I do enjoy a delicious success story, an elegant afternoon tea is my favourite meal, and I just adore cake (probably too much, hubby would say but ha! He isn’t coming …) So that sounds like just my kind of afternoon. The diet can wait!

 

What Do Best Selling Author Sue Moorcroft & Great British Bake Off’s Nadiya Hussain Have In Common?

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I’m glad you asked that question! Ok, so you didn’t actually ask it, but for the purposes of this blog post, let’s pretend you did.

Well … Sue and Nadiya are the two writers I’m delighted to be sharing the platform with at this year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. And I couldn’t be happier.

You see, I’ve attended Emirates Lit Fest as a member of the audience for the last 5 years, eagerly soaking up every drop of writerly wisdom from visiting authors, in the hope that one day I might actually be one of them myself. And when I found out I was going to be one of this year’s authors, I started wondering who I’d find myself sharing a session with.

I haven’t met Nadiya yet, but, as a lover of cakes – both the baking and eating of – I’m really looking forward to doing so. I’m also hoping to get my mitts on a copy of The Secret Lives of The Amir Sisters before then.

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Sue and I are both members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and have bumped into each other at a few parties and conferences, but haven’t had a chance to get to know each other yet. I can’t wait to rectifying that during the festival. I love her books!

Over Christmas I thoroughly enjoyed her latest, The Christmas Promise. Not only was it a fab Christmas read, I learnt a lot about hats and millinery, an added bonus. In fact I enjoyed it so much I immediately re-read Starting Over, the first novel set in the village of Middledip, where part of TCP is set. It’s a lovely fictional village, reminiscent of Trisha Ashley’s Sticklepond, and peopled with characters you’d love to spend time with. Like a lot of people, and especially authors as we have so many author friends (!), my To Be Read bookshelves are groaning, but I’d love to re-read the whole series.

And, of course, with the Festival coming up, there are going to be more and more books joining those buckling shelves. I hope to be able to tell you about a few more of them between now and the Festival, which takes place from 3rd to 11th March.

Our session, Secret Lives & Summer Love: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, takes place at 4.30pm on Friday 3rd March, at The Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City. We’ll be discussing writing about serious women’s issues with humour, and signing books afterwards. And I’m so excited to be launching the paperback of my second New Forest rom-com, Kind Hearts & Coriander that day. The e-book is already out on Amazon, but I’m an old-fashioned, loves-to-hold-a-real-book-in-my-hands kind of girl. Can’t wait!

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