fiction, historical fiction, Novel, Uncategorized

New Release: The Betrayal by Award-Winning Author, Anne Allen.

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Today I’m so pleased to welcome historical fiction author, Anne Allen, whose latest book, The Betrayal, will be released tomorrow, October 20th.

Hello Anne and welcome! Congratulations on the new release! This is a very exciting time for you as you’re launching the sixth book in The Guernsey Novels series and I’m sure you have a number of fans eagerly awaiting the release. 

There’s such a lot involved when you’re an Indie author. Can you tell me how you’ve found the publishing process so far?

Let’s say it’s not been easy! When I wrote my first novel 11 years ago, I naively thought I’d find an agent and they would, in turn, magic up a grateful publisher. Some years on and I realised this was not going to happen, in spite of some encouraging words from an agent or two. Fortunately, this coincided with the advent of self-publishing, and I took the plunge and used a service publisher, Matador, to launch ‘Dangerous Waters’ onto the unsuspecting, and probably not very interested, world. Since then I’ve established my own imprint and published another 5 titles. The advantage of going Indie is that I have more control and all of the royalties; the disadvantage is that I have all of the work, and the buck stops with me. But, I carry on, as I enjoy the writing process and there’s nothing quite like seeing the fruit of one’s hard work sitting on shelves in bookstores or lined up virtually on an Amazon page. ☺

I understand completely and I have to agree with you – and it’s definitely a lot of hard work but so rewarding as you say. What inspired you to write this story?

My latest in The Guernsey Novels series is ‘The Betrayal’ and is dual-time, split between the German Occupation of Guernsey in WWII and the present day. Two separate historical facts inspired the story: Renoir’s visit to Guernsey in 1833 when he painted numerous views of Moulin Huet Bay and the forceful deportation of Jews on Guernsey to concentration camps by the Germans.

That’s so fascinating – I love how the art concept captured your imagination and how you weaved it so seamlessly into the story.

Can you tell us a little about The Guernsey Novels?

All the stories take place predominantly on Guernsey and are linked by characters popping up from one book to another. I see them as together offering the ongoing story of a ‘village’ spread, so far, over 6 years. Each book is standalone with fresh new lead characters with their own links to the Occupation years having an impact on the present. A mix of mystery, family drama and love story and influenced by my love of the island where I spent many happy years. Guernsey itself is always a main character in the books, offering a gorgeous backdrop to all the sorrows, joys and tragedies I describe.

Place is such a vital element in a story, evoking mood, tone and memories for instance and it certainly shows that you know this place very well.

Are you a full-time author?

Only in that I don’t have another job! I was a psychotherapist for many years and started writing when I moved back to England and had few clients. For the past 4 years, I’ve decided writing is much more fun than listening to people’s problems every day ☺

Well it sounds as if you had a fascinating previous occupation and I’m sure that’s proved helpful in some ways to your writing.

How do you approach your writing and research? Do you plan strategically or do you wait to see where the muse takes you?

I have to have a plan, even if it’s a little hazy at the beginning. I always know the starting point and where I want to end up, or rather, where I want my characters to end up. My last two books have been dual time, which complicates the planning, but makes it more interesting. Most of my research is focused on the earlier time frame, WWII, as I’m pretty well up on modern Guernsey unless police procedure is involved and then I phone a policeman! I enjoy the research aspect but have been known to get carried away and forget I’m writing a novel which may only need a little background information. Shades of my days as a student studying history!

I empathise over the dual timeline and the difficulties of planning – something I’ve recently discovered for myself.

Have you ever been tempted to write in another genre?

As my books are cross-genre, I feel I’m dipping in and out of different genres anyway. I couldn’t write horror, fantasy or sci-fi, but perhaps one day I might be tempted to try psychological suspense or crime. Having said that, my books are littered with bodies…

What are you working on now?

‘Working’ is probably an overstatement as I’ve only started playing with the overall idea for book 7, ‘The Inheritance’. This will take me into new territory as part of the story will be set in late 19th Century Guernsey, the home of Victor Hugo for 15 years. He actually finished Les Miserables during that time, as well as publishing a number of other works. My character, Eugenie, is employed as his copyist and it’s her story I shall be telling. The other part of the dual time is set in the present and concerns a young woman, Tess, who inherits the house once owned by Eugenie, and goes on to discover family secrets.

That sounds amazing – looking forward to book 7 already.

What’s the hardest part about writing a series?

Not repeating myself! As the books are set in the same location of Guernsey, it’s difficult to find something fresh to say about the island in the present; not so hard when writing about the past. As characters pop in from book to book, I also have to remember what’s happening in their lives – partners, children etc. I really need to set up a spreadsheet!

I know – it’s only when I came to write novels that I discovered how unorganised I am! There’s so much to keep track of.

When you wrote the first book in this series, did you know it was to be a series from the beginning or was this something you realised after completing the book?

It took until the third book, ‘Guernsey Retreat’, to realise this was a ‘proper’ series, as opposed to books set in the same place. At that point I had new covers designed to form a brand, making all the titles instantly recognisable.

I love your brand – it’s something that’s vital, especially if you do write a series.

What part of the research process do you enjoy most?

Talking to people who have the specialised knowledge I can draw on. For example, with ‘The Betrayal’ I had long phone calls with a policeman and a funeral director. Makes for interesting conversations!

Can you tell us your latest news?

I was chuffed when ‘Echoes of Time’, book 5, won The Diamond Book Award 2017, a prize for Indie authors. It was also a finalist in the Readers Favorite Award an international award for all authors.

Congratulations on that news, Anne – that’s so wonderful for you. Thank you so much for chatting with us today. It’s been a pleasure and I wish you much success with your latest release. All best wishes to you.

New ReleaseAnne AllenThe Betrayal

Paperback & ebook available to buy from October 20th, 2017: Amazon

Blurb

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?

Reviews

I have now enjoyed all of Anne Allen’s novels, and I’m becoming a big fan. She is a very The Betrayal 3D Cover‘lively’ writer who seems to enjoy giving her readers a wonderful set of characters in a soft, almost velvety setting. Her books also offer a strong historical element, most often World War Two when the Germans invaded the island.
In the sixth novel in the set, Fiona and her twin brother, Nigel, discover hidden artwork in the walls of an antique shop. They attempt to discover whom it belonged to but, when Nigel ‘supposedly’ kills himself, Fiona attempts to discover the truth.

I must say that The Betrayal has a very different feel to it than the other novels in the set. The island is still lovingly described, the characters just as interesting and well developed, but the underlying mystery is so prominent in this story; in fact, in parts, it is almost a thriller. The pacing is faster right from the opening chapter with Teresa and Leo deciding whether to run from the invading Germans or not. And the ending is just as exciting. All in all, totally unputdownable!

To sum up, this is a wonderful novel, with tons of pace where pace is needed, and a setting so lovingly described, it is almost a character in the book. I am happy to recommend this story, in fact, all of them, to anybody who enjoys a well-plotted mystery populated with convincing and always credible characters.  A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review.

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5-Star Review

Source: Advanced reader copy received from publisher.

Having read Anne’s last book, Echoes of Time, I couldn’t wait to read her latest, and I wasn’t disappointed. The novel alternates between WW2 and 2011 and is set on the beautiful island of Guernsey. The Betrayal features twins, Fiona and Nigel, who discover a Renoir within the walls of their antique shop in 2011. When Nigel is found dead, and suicide is suspected, Fiona refuses to believe that her brother would end his own life and she sets out to uncover the truth. Unravelling the mystery will carry her on a journey back to 1940, and to the dark days of the German Occupation and the deportation of Jews.

The story is well crafted with beautiful scenes of the island of Guernsey springing to life and all things WW2 perfectly portrayed. Historical facts are seamlessly interwoven into the story which is well paced with realistic, well-developed characters set within a fascinating plot with twists and turns. All in all, it’s an engrossing read and one that will sweep you away to war, mystery and romance. I can highly recommend it. ∼Review by Suzy Henderson

About Anne

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter Iphoto for emailand two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, five having been published and the sixth, The Betrayal, is due out in October 2017.

For all the latest book and writing news, be sure to follow Anne here:

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Universal Buy Link: Amazon

 

 

 

fiction, historical fiction, Novel

New Release: Red Stiletto Strategy

Today I’m thrilled to have historian and author, Hunter S. Jones who has dropped in to chat about her latest release, Red Stiletto Strategy, and her writing life.

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Welcome! It’s a pleasure to have you with us today and congratulations on your latest release. I can’t wait to read this – I have my copy right here. Now, your book is quite a departure from your usual writing, having taken you to the turbulent  historical period of World War Two. Can you tell us a little about it? Are any of the characters based on real people?

Thanks for asking. Red Stiletto Strategy is a World War II espionage short story based in 1942 London. All the characters are fictional, but the RAF pilot looks like my husband. It’s funny how that can happen every now and then.

Now, this is your first WW2 story. How did you come to write about this historical period?

There was a call for historical fiction short stories by a UK based author’s site. For some reason, when I saw the announcement, the title immediately sprang to mind. Within 24 hours I had written the rough draft. It was as if the story wanted to be told. It’s been one of the most interesting writing adventures I’ve ever had.

That’s so fantastic. It’s amazing how the muse operates at times.

What do you enjoy most and least about writing?

Thank you for asking. I seem to really enjoy research more than writing. Once I find a topic, I want to find what food people ate, how they dressed, what make-up women wore…the list goes on and on.

I know exactly what you mean. The research aspect is fascinating, and it’s so easy to become completely immersed.

What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a panster?

Great question, Suzy! I’m an outliner. Then I research everything. After all that, the story almost writes itself.

What genres do you prefer to read when time allows? Favourite books?

I love actual history books. One year I took a 400+ page on the Plantagenets on vacation. My poor husband just looked at me and said, “Why?” Although, I love a good historical fiction read, and short stories are my guilty pleasure.

When did you begin writing – was it from an early age or did it happen later in life?

It’s been one of those life things. High school and uni papers, a couple of indie alternative rock rags, newspaper and magazine articles along the way. I ruptured my Achilles tendon in a freak accident 5 years ago and was bedridden for a year and a half. That’s when I started writing and playing around on social media full time. You have to make the best of a bad situation, don’t you?

You certainly do, and you truly have. Are you a full-time writer or do you have to fit writing into your home/working life?

I write full time. Actually, I’m a housewife with a very expensive hobby, according to my sweet, very patient husband. 2018 is shaping up nicely though. I have two books being released – one on sexuality in British history, the other on the actress Lillie Langtry. Hopefully, I will make it to London for the release of The British Stripped Bare. Fingers crossed and I’ll let you know. The Langtry story is having a launch party in Manhattan, which is so perfect for her and I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

The Atlanta Writer’s Club has asked me to speak at one of their events. I’m stoked about that! And, the Rivendell Writers Colony, which is associated with the University of the South, has invited me to be a Writer In Residence. It’s a super exciting time for my career.

Thank you so much for chatting with us today. I wish you all the very best with the new book and the next release – I’ll look out for that one too.

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Red Stilleto Strategy by Hunter S. Jones(3)

 

Publication Date 12th October 2017

ebook available to Buy Now

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Blurb

Born to an alcoholic, single mother in Texas, Luckie Stratton learns from a young age to keep her distance, avoiding getting close to anyone. She moves to LA as a young film actress, becomes enchanted by a swarthy English gentleman and flies to London in 1940 to join his secret British spy elites. The seductive blonde becomes an undercover assassin.

Armed with her charm, a switchblade and a Derringer, this femme fatale never fails her mission. Disguised as an anxious wife waiting for her British ‘husband’ to return from battle proves to be irresistible bait to Nazi covert operatives.

Tonight, she has a date with destiny.

Her newest lover is revealed as a double agent and she is given a Code Red: Order to Execute. But, the unexpected appearance of a handsome RAF pilot makes her lose her focus…her target…and betray her command.

Knowing the consequences of failure will make you either the hunter or the prey.

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Red Stiletto Strategy Excerpt

London, 1942

Luckie Stratten looked across her right shoulder into the mirror, then reached down and straightened her left stocking until the seam ran up her leg with the precision of a surgical knife. The room was dimly lit, and she checked her purse for the small Derringer pistol and the switchblade stiletto. Scraping the bottom of a lipstick tube, she applied the last of the Regimental Red she had brought from Los Angeles. She slipped her feet into her best heels and clicked off the table lamp. Smoothing her hair, she walked outside the apartment door, looking both ways before locking it.

Tonight, she had a date with destiny.

Dr. Smithers had been her mark for the last few months. Making her way into the misty haze of the London night, Luckie Stratton knew she had a mission to complete. Hamish had sent her a coded message yesterday saying that the German spy—a double agent—would be at the USO where Joey’s band played. She was to kill him by any means necessary. It was a job she had completed successfully many times, and what had earned her the nickname Luckie.

She was born in Red River, Texas; her mother had had a weekend fling with a doughboy she met in Dallas the weekend the First War ended. The boy left, her mother discovered she was pregnant two months later, and eventually moved to L.A. with the little girl. Her mother dreamt of being an actress but only became successful at becoming an alcoholic. Eventually, the young girl took on acting jobs to support her mother and herself. Fortunately for her, she learned early that if you didn’t become too attached to someone, you wouldn’t feel abandoned when they were no longer in your life. By the time she was eighteen, she knew she had a way with men; finding companionship with producers and businessmen was much more lucrative than being a bit player in movies. With her long legs and sultry voice, men were hooked once they met her. When she dyed her hair platinum blonde, the world was hers for the taking.

Then, war broke out in Europe and everything changed.

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Bio

 

Hunter S. Jones is passionate about the history of romance, science and music, a.k.a. sex, drugs and rock & roll. The Pulitzer Prize nominee has a popular history blog and is the author of the best-selling Anne Boleyn story, Phoenix Rising. She is a historian for Past Preservers Casting. When she isn’t writing, talking or tweeting about kings, queens and rock stars, she’s living the dream in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband.

To find out more, visit Hunter S. Jones’s website.

You can also connect with her on:

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Book available to buy here