New vlog series – MEET KIERAN

Have you seen the interviews that cast and directors give when a new film or TV series is about to be released? I love them! I love getting an insight into the characters, locations and behind-the-scenes stuff of a new film. So, that got me thinking: why not have a go myself?

I’ve filmed a series of vlogs about Somewhere Beyond the Sea – talking about the characters, the locations I chose for the book and what it was like to write the book. I’m also going to give you some exclusive snippets about hidden gems in the book, who I’d cast in the movie version (*coughs* *looks around for any film producers in the area*) and what it was like to be involved in the amazing audiobook version of my story.

Here’s the sixth: Meet KIERAN MACKLIN… (if you’ve read the prequel novella, Christmas in St Ives, you’ll recognise him – lots of fun with a serious side he keeps hidden…)

Happy watching – and let me know what you think in the comments below! xx

New vlog series – MEET MOLLY

How many times have you read a book and wanted to delve further into the world the author has created? That happens to me all the time. Also, having spent a year or more of writing my books, I love getting the chance to chat about them (you may have noticed…) This is what happens when you finally unleash an author from her writing office into the big wide world!

So, I’ve filmed a series of vlogs about Somewhere Beyond the Sea – talking about the characters, the locations I chose for the book and what it was like to write the book. I’m also going to give you some exclusive snippets about hidden gems in the book, who I’d cast in the movie version (*coughs* *looks around for any film producers in the area*) and what it was like to be involved in the amazing audiobook version of my story.

Here’s the fifth: Meet MOLLY(Seren’s faithful chocolate Labrador – she’s a real character!)

New vlog series – MEET NESSIE

Have you seen the interviews that cast and directors give when a new film or TV series is about to be released? I love them! I love getting an insight into the characters, locations and behind-the-scenes stuff of a new film. That got me thinking: why not have a go myself?

So, I’ve filmed a series of vlogs about Somewhere Beyond the Sea – talking about the characters, the locations I chose for the book and what it was like to write the book. I’m also going to give you some exclusive snippets about hidden gems in the book, who I’d cast in the movie version (*coughs* *looks around for any film producers in the area*) and what it was like to be involved in the amazing audiobook version of my story.

Here’s the fourth: Meet NESSIE DIXON(I adore Nessie. She totally rocks!)

New vlog series – MEET AGGIE

Have you seen the interviews that cast and directors give when a new film or TV series is about to be released? I love them! I love getting an insight into the characters, locations and behind-the-scenes stuff of a new film. That got me thinking: why not have a go myself?

So, I’ve filmed a series of vlogs about Somewhere Beyond the Sea – talking about the characters, the locations I chose for the book and what it was like to write the book. I’m also going to give you some exclusive snippets about hidden gems in the book, who I’d cast in the movie version (*coughs* *looks around for any film producers in the area*) and what it was like to be involved in the amazing audiobook version of my story.

Here’s the third: Meet AGGIE KEATS(Aggie has the lines I wish I could say in real life…)

New vlog series – MEET JACK

How many times have you read a book and wanted to delve further into the world the author has created? That happens to me all the time. Also, having spent a year or more of writing my books, I love getting the chance to chat about them (you may have noticed…) This is what happens when you finally unleash an author from her writing office into the big wide world!

So, I’ve filmed a series of vlogs about Somewhere Beyond the Sea – talking about the characters, the locations I chose for the book and what it was like to write the book. I’m also going to give you some exclusive snippets about hidden gems in the book, who I’d cast in the movie version (*coughs* *looks around for any film producers in the area*) and what it was like to be involved in the amazing audiobook version of my story.

Here’s the first: Meet JACK DIXON. (full disclosure: I’m a bit in love with Jack…)

Happy watching – and let me know what you think in the comments below! xx

New vlog series – MEET SEREN

Have you seen the interviews that cast and directors give when a new film or TV series is about to be released? I love them! I love getting an insight into the characters, locations and behind-the-scenes stuff of a new film. So, that got me thinking: why not have a go myself?

How many times have you read a book and wanted to delve further into the world the author has created? That happens to me all the time. Also, having spent a year or more of writing my books, I love getting the chance to chat about them (you may have noticed…) This is what happens when you finally unleash an author from her writing office into the big wide world!

So, I’ve filmed a series of vlogs about Somewhere Beyond the Sea – talking about the characters, the locations I chose for the book and what it was like to write the book. I’m also going to give you some exclusive snippets about hidden gems in the book, who I’d cast in the movie version (*coughs* *looks around for any film producers in the area*) and what it was like to be involved in the amazing audiobook version of my story.

Here’s the first: Meet SEREN MACARTHUR(She rocks!)

Happy watching – and let me know what you think in the comments below! xx

Magic moments – listen to this!

(I’m not singing this time, promise!) I’ve just been sent the finished audiobook of Somewhere Beyond the Sea and it’s absolutely blown me away… 

On Monday I went down to the studio in London to record some author bits for the audiobook and I could tell from the team that they were excited by the work Clare Corbett and Jonathan Bailey have done reading Seren and Jack’s chapters in the book.

But I wasn’t prepared for how amazing it would be.

Here’s the thing: probably most people don’t know that I studied Drama at university and for a long time my ambition was to be an actor. It didn’t happen (two awful auditions put paid to that idea – remind me to tell you about them some time…), but I have never lost my love of drama, film and theatre. When I write, I see it in my head like a film. I remember a writer telling me once that writing books is the best way to fulfil a secret acting ambition – we give ourselves all the best lines through our characters. In my case I think that’s true! So where I couldn’t appear on a physical stage, I create a stage – a TV screen, a film screen – on the page instead.

When words on the page are brought to life by performance, magic happens. I read all my books aloud when I’m editing – particularly when I’m doing the final proof edit. If the rhythm is wrong, especially for dialogue, I always work out the right one by speaking it first. I write with a particular rhythm in mind – it’s very similar to writing music. The beats have to be right, the light and shade placed correctly, otherwise it clunks and is difficult to read.

So when I listened to the two opening chapters featured in the Soundcloud clip below, I knew where all the beats were. It’s scary waiting to see how someone else has interpreted your words! And what happened next was magical. Every beat, every rhythm, every point of emotion and humour, wistfulness and pain were hit perfectly – and there was more, too: nuances in the dialogue that I hadn’t anticipated, moments where I was drawn closer to the characters as they spoke, moments that made me giggle. It was like hearing my story for the first time and I couldn’t believe I wrote that. I wrote that! Wow!

I dream of one day writing a script that’s produced as drama, either for TV or film. Listening to Clare and Jonathan’s performances of my words has made me think that it might yet be possible. Somewhere Beyond the Sea is written from Seren and Jack’s alternating perspectives and is the closest to a monologue/Talking Heads-style story I’ve ever written, so to hear it spoken and performed so perfectly has made me so proud of what I’ve created.

Being very British I’ve often downplayed pride in my work, but I’m changing that, starting now. Somewhere Beyond the Sea is my heart and soul and I’ve poured everything I’ve got into it. I am so utterly proud of it. And the way that Clare and Jonathan have not only respected my words but illuminated them, given them breath and life, is an absolute gift. Often as an author the mountain-top moments are few and far between, but this is one of those pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moments where it all comes together.

Want to hear what’s reduced me to tears and made me grin like a LOON all afternoon? Click this link to hear the first two chapters of the Somewhere Beyond the Sea audiobook, starring Clare Corbett as SEREN and Jonathan Bailey as JACK. Prepare to fall in love!

Clare-Corbett

CLARE CORBETT as SEREN

jonathan-bailey

JONATHAN BAILEY as JACK

MirandaWrites 59 – Welcome to St Ives!

I’ve just returned from a week in St Ives and it was heavenly! The best bit was taking my shiny new book, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, to the place where the story idea began, two years ago. While I was there, I filmed a vlog because my life it’s been ages since I last posted one…

This year has been completely rollercoaster-y – for reasons I’ll be able to share with you soon. Lots of stuff going on, good and bad, plus lots of plans for the future that I hope to see happen. More on that in forthcoming posts here. It’s all good, though!

So, without further ado, here is my brand new, sparkly seasidey vlog! I take you around some of the locations featured in Somewhere Beyond the Sea (more to come in future vlogs, too), talk about my inspiration for the characters and tell you why this book and the town where it’s set are so special to me. (And if it whets your appetite for Somewhere Beyond the Sea, you can preorder it here and here…) Now, snuggle up and get ready for a little trip to beautiful St Ives. Happy watching, lovelies!

My favourite books for 2018…

2018 is going to be a corker of a year for great stories. My next novel, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, publishes on 14th June, but for this post I’m wearing my reader hat. I’ve been really lucky to read some amazing books that will be published this year, so here are my Top 5 recommendations for 2018…

I’ve only included books I’ve actually read in this list, and will of course squeak about more as I read them, but these are my absolute favourites of what I’ve read so far:

DARK PINES by WILL DEAN

Dark Pines

I loved every minute of this dark, twisty, Scandi-thriller. You’re right there in the bleak, claustrophobic town surrounded by dark forests, so much so that you can almost see clouds of your own breath in the wintry landscape as you read. Will’s writing is compelling and his lead character Tuva Moodyson is a star in waiting. Get in on this awesome series right at the beginning and prepare to be swept away! Published 4th January by Point Blank/Oneworld

THREE THINGS ABOUT ELSIE by JOANNA CANNON

ThreeThingsAboutElsie

Reading a Joanna Cannon book is like being welcomed into the most magical sweet shop and being invited to sample a treat from every jar. Her writing is delightful and evocative, with characters you can picture immediately. This book is warm, heartbreakingly honest but ultimately uplifting. 84-year-old Florence, whose story the book follows, will make you laugh, cry and want to hug her. There’s a mystery and a secret to uncover, too. Wonderful storytelling – a book to savour! Published 11th January by The Borough Press.

THE BONE KEEPER by LUCA VESTE

The Bonekeeper

As a big fan of Luca’s Murphy and Rossi series, I was chuffed to bits to be able to read his first standalone novel. And my life, what a book! Part horror, part crime-thriller, this story grabs you and won’t let go until the highly-charged, terrifying conclusion. Don’t read just before you go to sleep because this story will give you nightmares! I love Luca’s writing and this is his best book yet. Published 8th March by Simon & Schuster.

THE FEAR by CL TAYLOR

The Fear

This book had me gripped from beginning to end and is simply breathtaking. What I love about Cally’s writing is that she makes you side with characters you suspect you maybe shouldn’t be rooting for. I’ve read plenty of psychological thrillers over the last two years, but nothing as dark and multiple-twist-laden as this. It’s shocking, compelling and packed to the bindings with action. Masterful stuff! Published 22nd March by Avon/HarperCollins.

THE MAN I THINK I KNOW by MIKE GAYLE

The Man I Think I Know

A sign of a really wonderful book for me is when I want to hug it at the end. With this book, I was pretty much hugging it from the start and rationing pages towards the end because I didn’t want it to finish. Mike’s writing is warm, honest, unflinching in its observation but most of all gloriously uplifting. The story of James and Danny’s friendship – and the redemptive power of trust and love – absolutely had me in its spell. It’s real, compelling, funny and completely stole my heart. This one is very special and my favourite book for 2018 so far. Published 19th April by Hodder & Stoughton.

Thanks so much to the wonderful authors and publishers (Point Blank/Oneworld; The Borough Press; Simon & Schuster; Avon/HarperCollins; and Hodder & Stoughton) for sending me advance copies of the above books.

Read my favourite books of 2017 HERE…

Which books are you looking forward to this year? Let me know by leaving a comment below, or tweet me @wurdsmyth. Thanks for reading! xx

My Books of the Year 2017

Reading has become my salvation and sanctuary in a really testing year as an author – thankfully I’ve been spoiled for choice for awesome books in 2017. There are lots of ‘best books’ lists, so here’s mine. Some books I was lucky to read as advance copies, most I bought myself. Not all of the books in my Top Twelve below were published in 2017, but I read them this year, which is why they are included. So, without further ado, I proudly present my 2017 Books of the Year:

2017 Best Books image

Unconventional – Maggie Harcourt
I read this as a proof at the beginning of 2017 and completely fell in love with it. Maggie Harcourt’s writing is sublime – at turns funny, touching and clutch-at-your-heart-and-sigh romantic. Her book-within-a-book is downright genius, too. On a personal note, Unconventional was the one that made me fall in love with reading again after a very dry spell that followed losing my dad. It’s a gorgeous, uplifting, original and thoroughly unputdownable book and is pretty damn perfect.

The Killer on the Wall – Emma Kavanagh
I’m a self-confessed huge fan of Emma Kavanagh and have loved every one of her books. The Killer on the Wall is a twisty, psychologically dark crime thriller that tests your loyalties as a reader to the beautifully drawn characters. I loved how Emma drew me into the story and gradually twisted everything around me. It’s so filmic, too – I could picture every location, every scene and every character. Loved it!

The Last Beginning – Lauren James
I hadn’t read any of Lauren’s books before I was asked to take part in a reader event with her at the beginning of this year, so I read The Last Beginning before I met her and am now a firm fan! Clever, funny, mind-bendingly brilliant, this is an across-the-ages tale of true love and mystery. What I love most is the way Lauren’s characters grab you from the first page – you’re right in there, rooting for them.

Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
This is the first of Leigh Bardugo’s books I’ve read and I completely fell for her storytelling. It’s like a heist movie in a fantasy world – a band of outlaws out to get justice against an evil villain. I hadn’t read much fantasy for a while, so picked up Crooked Kingdom to redress the balance and my life, what a ride! Cool, gorgeously written, pacy and hugely compelling.

Then She Was Gone – Luca Veste
In recent years I’ve become a fan of crime thrillers, first reading Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels, then Ann Cleeves’ Vera and Shetland books. I’m a huge fan of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast (I even have a t-shirt!), which introduced me to the Murphy and Rossi series by Luca Veste. I read Then She Was Gone on holiday in Cornwall in January and it completely hooked me. You know a book is good when you carry it round with you all day, using any opportunity to sneak a read! I adore Murphy and Rossi and love how Luca draws you into their personal lives. Edge-of-your-seat, twisty awesomeness!

The Boy Who Saw – Simon Toyne
I’ve been a fan of Simon Toyne’s books since his debut Sanctus and love his new Solomon Creed series. This is the second book featuring the mysterious protagonist and it’s fantastic. A mystery, a thriller with a touch of the supernatural, The Boy Who Saw is gripping and twisty and so pacy you feel you’re hanging onto the book for dear life. What I love most about Simon’s thrillers is that they are peopled with characters who feel real – not just two-dimensional plot devices. And I really want to hug Solomon, poor lamb. He’s been through a lot

Hold Back the Stars – Katie Khan
Do you remember the scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Sam’s sister cries retelling the story of An Affair to Remember? Well, Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan has that effect on me whenever I talk about it. It’s an achingly gorgeous, utterly original love story set in space and I loved every word. Writing for a living can make it difficult to fully enter into books, so I love it when I’m completely swept away like I was with this story. Absolutely wonderful.

The Summer of Impossible Things – Rowan Coleman
When Rowan Coleman told me she was going to write a time-travel novel, I was so excited. I knew it would be brilliant, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how beguilingly beautiful and affecting The Summer of Impossible Things would be. Luna’s journey to unravel the mystery of her mother’s life – and the huge questions it poses to her own – is utterly compelling, heart-breaking and uplifting. And that ending… Wow!

Together – Julie Cohen
Julie Cohen has long been one of my favourite authors. With every book I think she can’t possibly better it, but every time she does. Together is no exception – in fact, I think it’s her masterpiece. I was very lucky to read an early version and it blew me away. The story of Robbie and Emily is told in reverse, from the day Robbie dies to the first time they meet. What follows is a powerful, brave and heart-breaking story of love against the odds and a terrible secret that both binds them together and threatens to tear them apart.

The Plea – Steve Cavanagh
I don’t often read a book in less than a week, but I devoured The Plea in three days (a personal record for me this year!). It’s a legal thriller with a twist and a lead character who knocks all the others out of the park. Eddie Flynn is brilliantly world-weary, chasing his own demons as much as the bad guys and thrown into so many life-or-death situations I don’t know when he even finds a second to breathe! I loved this book and Steve’s writing is sublime.

The State of Grace – Rachael Lucas
Easily the most original voice of the books I read this year, fifteen-year-old Grace draws you into her world in The State of Grace. Navigating life is challenging enough for a teenager, but when you have Asperger’s and you’re falling in love it can be a rollercoaster. What I loved most about this book is the insight it gives into Grace’s view of the world – and how it makes sense. It’s a celebration of her life and her worldview and is honest, rip-roaringly funny and touching. Loved, loved, loved it!

Calling Major Tom – David M. Barnett
The term ‘UpLit’ was coined this year (yuck!) and while I don’t like it or the way the literary media seem to think they’ve created the genre (they haven’t, some of us have been writing uplifting stories for years!), there are some books published this year that are truly uplifting. Calling Major Tom absolutely fits the bill. I was sent an early proof of this book and it completely stole my heart. Packed with fantastic characters and stuffed to the ginnels with brilliant Northern humour, David’s story of a marooned astronaut and the family who reach out to him is the one I can’t stop thinking about. It’s life-affirming, emotional, laugh-out-loud funny and reduced me to tears with its fantastic conclusion. I’ve loved all the books I’ve read in 2017, but Calling Major Tom is my Book of the Year.

Which books have you enjoyed this year? Which should I add to my reading list for 2018? I’d love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below or tweet me!

Coming soon – the five books I’m recommending for 2018!