Interviews

Exclusive Author Interview with Mary Jayne Baker (@MaryJayneBaker)

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I have the very great pleasure to welcome Mary Jayne Baker to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals. Author of romantic comedies ‘The Runaway Bride’ and ‘The Perfect Fit’ and one of the authors on the edge who wrote the wonderful Miss Moonshines Moonshines Emporium of Happy Endings.

About Mary Jayne Baker

Mary Jayne Baker is a romance author from Yorkshire, UK. She is represented by Laura Longrigg at MBA Literary Agents.

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them.

Website / Amazon / Facebook @MaryJayneWrites / Twitter @MaryJayneBaker / Goodreads

Interview

Frankie Hi Mary Jayne, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Firstly what five word’s would you use to describe yourself?

Mary Jayne Um… awkward, distracted, quite often asleep. Will that do?

Frankie Absolutely, If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?

Mary Jayne I’d love to visit England during the 1940s. I love the films and music produced during that period, and I’d be fascinated to see how people dealt with the terrifying reality of the Second World War in their day-to-day lives

Frankie Can you tell us a little about latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Mary Jayne The Perfect Fit returns to Egglethwaite, the setting for A Bicycle Made for Two, four years later. We meet Becky Finn, a Yorkshire lass who has returned to her home village after years living in London with reluctant fiancé Cole in tow. When Becky finds out the village hall is struggling to stay open, she rallies the villagers to revive the annual Christmas pantomime. But as Becky deals with bad actors, randy cast members, pompous T-Rexes and more innuendo than you can shake a stick at – not to mention a highly inconvenient and definitely unrequited attraction to handsome co-star Marcus – she starts to worry her embattled Cinderella might never make it to the stage

Although this is the second book in the Love in the Dales series, it’s not a direct sequel and can be read as a standalone.

Frankie Who was your childhood hero?

Mary Jayne I always had a soft spot for tomboys in classic literature, and the way they refused to accept the limitations of being a girl (although I probably wouldn’t have phrased it quite as fluently as that back then!). Jo March in Little Women was a favourite, and George in the Famous Five books.

Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead character’s?

Mary Jayne I’d love to see any of my books made into a film! The Perfect Fit would be a brilliant Christmas romcom, lots of pantomime fun and farce with a healthy side order of romance. I can definitely see Jodie Whittaker as heroine Becky, and I’d love Mark Addy and Sean Bean to play “Ugly Sisters” Gerry and Danny. Eddie Redmayne could be good as Becky’s fiancé Cole, whereas hero Marcus was named for a real actor I decided he looked like, Marcus Griffiths. I’m not sure what the real Marcus’s Yorkshire accent is like though, as he’s a Londoner!

 

Frankie LOL!! That would be absolutely brilliant. Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Mary Jayne Of my published books, definitely Deano Teasdale in the Love in the Dales series. He’s the eccentric chef in the village’s medieval-themed restaurant, with habits that include naming his favourite pans, flirting with the chair of the WI and going commando. It’s normal for romance writers to fall for their heroes, but I’ve got a bad habit of falling for the comic relief! I loved Deano in A Bicycle Made for Two, and it was a treat revisit him in The Perfect Fit.

Frankie Where doe’s your inspiration for your books come from?

Mary Jayne All over the place really – things that have happened to me, anecdotes people tell me, stories in newspapers and magazines, overheard conversations… I tend to think in terms of scenes and characters, so when I hear something that makes me laugh or feel sad, I’ll often wonder if I could work it up into a scene. Authors are terrible people to befriend as you never know what they might be making a mental note of to use later!

One example is a scene in The Perfect Fit where Becky is stood up in a Wetherspoon’s pub on her anniversary and gets chatted up by a group of men who feel sorry for her. Something very similar actually happened to me (only it was worse because it was Valentine’s Day!) and I squirreled it away for later.

Frankie What three tip’s would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Mary Jayne …..

 

  • Don’t worry about quality, just write. If you stop to worry you’re not good enough, you’ll never finish. Trust me, we all produce dreadful first drafts – but a dreadful first draft is better than nothing at all. It gives you something to work with.
  • Set yourself a daily word count. It doesn’t matter if it’s 2000 words or 200, as long as you’re getting those words down every day and working towards that magic “The End”.
  • Read Self-editing for Fiction Writers. Of all the books on writing I’ve read, that’s the one I found the most helpful when I was starting (and I still reread periodically).

Frankie If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

Mary Jayne Tough one! I think I’d invite Terry Pratchett, Groucho Marx and Emily Brontë. That should be interesting.

Frankie Thank you, Mary Jayne for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Mary Jayne As a Yorkshirewoman, it has to be fish and chips! I treat myself to them whenever it’s pub day for a new book.

I completely agree with you on that one, thank you Mary Jayne.

About the Book

The Perfect Fit

‘A wonderful book with a great story and a sparky, unusual voice. I loved it!’ KATIE FFORDE

After years living in London, costume shop owner Becky Finn is trying to build a new life for herself and fiancé Cole in her old home of Egglethwaite, a sleepy village in the Yorkshire Dales.

Keen to raise funds for the struggling village hall she loved as a child, Becky soon finds herself at the head of a colourful group intent on resurrecting Egglethwaite s Christmas pantomime. But, as she quickly discovers, there s more to panto than innuendo and slapped thighs.

As opening night grows closer, Becky starts to wonder if her embattled panto will ever make it to the stage and, with handsome co-star Marcus on the scene, if she s picked the right man for her after all.

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A Chat With….Author Andrea Bolter

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I have the great pleasure to welcome contemporary romance author; Andrea Bolter back to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive chat.

About Andrea

Andrea Bolter has always been fascinated by matters of the heart. In fact, she’s the one her girlfriends turn to for advice with their love lives. She can’t help but analyze people and imagine what goes on in their brains. A city mouse, she’s the one eavesdropping on you at a café or in the long line for the ladies’ room at a concert.

She grew up scribbling in notebooks with a poem here, a snippet of dialogue there, and an essay in between. Studying both creative and news writing in school, the first words Andrea ever got paid to write were procedure manuals for an insurance company. Not too sexy but, hey, she was off and running! Along the way, she landed as a journalist. After hundreds of articles and a couple of awards, she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction, first by publishing short stories.

Even with her soft spot for tales of loves, she credits more than just snooping and romance writing as her influences. She loves travel and music and movies. It might be a romantic comedy she’s seen a hundred times that inspires her forward into a new idea.

Lucky enough to have lived in great cities like New York and San Francisco, Andrea calls her childhood stomping ground of Los Angeles home. She’ll have to write her and her husband’s story into a novel someday. Meeting very young they dated for a few years, then separated for five, but found their way back to each other. Together, they have one marvelous daughter.

Andrea is jumping-up-and-down-thrilled to be part of the romance community! Say hi via email or social media

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon

Frankie Hi Andrea, Welcome back to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Firstly, Can you tell us a little about latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Andrea THE ITALIAN’S RUNAWAY PRINCESS will be released in the end of August/beginning of September (depending what country you live in). I’d been wanting to do some kind of runaway bride story and also to set a book in Florence, Italy. Those two inspirations came together here, with the addition of making the heroine a princess. I gorged on Florence in this one. They visit so many locations in that breathtaking city. If you like being swept into the locale of a book, you’ll like this one.

Frankie If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be?

Andrea I may have answered this for you when we’ve chatted in the past, and I said Los Angeles in the 1910s-1920s when the movie business was being established. So this time, I’ll say that same time period but in New York. I love how that was a time of great development and advances, but filled with scandal, corruption and bad behaviour!

Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead characters?

Andrea I have a habit of thinking of movie stars who are maybe too old to play the roles now but would have been right when they were younger. For Audrey in HER LAS VEGAS WEDDING I’d see a young Reese Witherspoon, a go-getter with high heels clacking across the room, like the vibe she captured so well in LEGALLY BLONDE. And for Shane, Bradley Cooper because he played the same kind of explosive chef in a movie called BURNT.

Frankie Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Andrea It’s Gio Grassi from this upcoming book. He’s a hottie tech billionaire, very Alpha while being a sexy nerd type at the same time. He was crystal clear in my head when I was writing him.

Frankie If you ever decided to write a different genre of book, which would it be?

Andrea Romantic Comedy. I find a lot to laugh about in the relations between romantic partners!

Frankie What are you reading at the minute? Or your last book you read?

Andrea The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank. It’s from 1999 and considered a very influential book in the continuum of what got dubbed “chick lit,” which I never exactly understand. (I just Googled that term and got this helpful definition – “literature that appeals mainly to women” LOL!!!!)

Anyway, Girls’ Guide was terrific. It comes in a little after Bridget Jones Diary, which was released in 1996, which I consider to be the crowning achievement and indisputable masterpiece of that era.

Frankie When writing do you plan the full book ahead, or do you just go with the flow?

Andrea I definitely don’t go with the flow. I have a basic plan. I know the setting, the important story points, the conflicts, what’s going to change things, what’s the worst moment for the characters, the ending (HEA, duh!). But I don’t necessarily know how many scenes or chapters I’ll have, or exactly what happens when or how.

Frankie How do you like to relax once you’ve finished writing?

Andrea Seeing friends without any time constraints. When I’m writing, everyone knows I can meet them for a late lunch but having spent the earlier part of the day writing, I have to do laundry and errands for my parents and grocery shopping and make dinner just like every other working mom. Having extra time with my awesome girlfriends is a great reward.

Frankie Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Andrea. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun….

If you were stranded in the middle of nowhere over-night, no civilisation around, with nothing but your backpack what four other things would you have with you?

Andrea Of course the practical things like water, food, flashlight and protective clothing. But in my special stash I’d wish for a way to hear music. Maybe an old-fashioned transistor radio and a big supply of batteries. I can’t go a day without listening to music! In a way, music would be my survival tool to keep me from freaking out. I’d have photographs of my family (wait, this question is making me sad!). I’d have a huge anthology of short stories. To pass the time, in my mind I’d expand each and every one of them into novels or film scripts. And I hope I’d still have my wedding ring to use as a touchstone that keeps me certain I’ll be rescued.

Frankie That sounds wonderful, Thank you!

Andrea Thank you!

About the Book

The Italian’s Runaway Princess

Is life outside the palace walls everything she dreamed of?

When billionaire Gio Grassi rescues a beautiful stranger on the streets of Florence he never imagined she’d be royalty! Princess Luciana’s vivacity intrigues him. With her arranged royal wedding only weeks away, can this chance encounter change their lives forever?

You can purchased The Italian’s Runaway Princess at Amazon.

A Chat With….Author Faye Hall

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Today I have the great pleasure to welcome Faye Hall, author of the Sin’s of the Virtuous series to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive chat.

About Faye

Come on a journey with me through 19th century North Queensland, Australia and explore the passions and hardships of unique characters.

There is corruption, deceit and murder, as well as cattle rustlers, slave traders and hell fire clubs. Explore townships of Jarvisfield and Inkerman, as well as Ravenswood and Bowen. One book even incorporates my great grandmother’s cattle station ‘Inkerman Downs Station’.

As well as an author, I am also the most spoilt wife in the world, and a very contented mother.
Come and discover all the passion and drama of North Queensland history with me.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Amazon / The Romance Reviews

Frankie Hi Faye, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today…..If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?

Faye I would love to go back to anywhere in the British Isles during the late 1800s because I just love that time period and environment.

Frankie Can you tell us a little about latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Faye Latest release is Apathy & Vigor, the fourth book in the Sins of the Virtuous series. It a heart wrenching and passionate tale of two people whose lives are ripped apart by fire and death and the cruelty of one man certain to destroy any chance they have of finding love again.

Frankie Who was your childhood hero?

Faye I always thought my parents were the most heroic people I knew. I still do. After everything they’ve been through and their struggles they’ve been happily married for over 50 years.

Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead character’s?

Faye I’d love Heart of Stone to be made into a film, with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts playing the main characters.

Frankie Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Faye I really loved writing Phoebe Porter from Amorous Redemption. She was based on my great grandmother and she is fiery and stubborn and strong whilst still being so vulnerable.

Frankie Where doe’s your inspiration for your books come from?

Faye A lot comes from the stories I was told as a child about my great grandparents coming to Australia. I always found their struggles heartwrenching and admired the strength of them to survive what they did.

Frankie What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Faye Write from the heart. Learn to take criticism. And never give up.

Frankie If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

Faye Sherlock Holmes, Veronica Franco and Agatha Christie.

Frankie Thank you, Faye for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Faye Hot chips with tomato sauce.

Frankie Mmmm! Yumm, Thank you, Faye! 😊

About the Book

Will the love of a woman save him from his own apathy?

Tristen Brone lived a carefree life of wealth and passion – until one day it all came crashing down around him. In only a few days he lost everyone he loved in the world – the woman he loved, his best friend and his parents. The once confident, handsome young man, was now scarred for life and on a quick downward spiral of sorrow and depression. He no longer wanted to live.

When Amalie Fergus arrives on his doorstep, a travel bag in her hand, begging him to take her in, he becomes suspicious. Despite his passionate past with this woman, and the feelings he still had for her, all he could think of was how quickly she abandoned him after the fire that killed her brother and left Tristen physically scarred. So why had she come back into his life after all these months?

Amalie Fergus lost her brother in a fire, her lover had abandoned her upon finding her with child, and now her father had been poisoned, leaving their properties to be repossessed. She had nothing and no one left to turn to. In desperation, she found herself forced to work for a living, trying to do her best as a maid for any rich gentleman who would take her in. What she hadn’t expected was for one of those men to try and force carnal favours from her, or for her now to be on the run for his murder.

Running from the scene of the crime, fearful what was to become of her, Amalie finds herself colliding with a man from her past who offers to hide her from the police on one condition – she return to Tristen and steal some property papers from him.

Trapped by the man from her past, and now forced back into Tristen’s life, Amalie searches for who murdered her brother. She could never have foreseen the cruelty she would discover, or the man she would willingly surrender her heart to.

The One That I Want by Lynne Shelby Blog Tour; Review & Exclusive Interview

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Hi Everyone, welcome to my stop on the One That I Want blog tour, I have the great pleasure to welcome contemporary romance author; Lynne Shelby to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive interview plus my own review of this wonderful book.

About Lynne

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, and my dream was always to be a published author. I write contemporary women’s fiction/romance.

My debut novel ‘French Kissing’ was published in 2015 when it won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition – sometimes dreams really do come true 🙂

My second novel, ‘The One That I Want,’ is due to be published in July 2018, and is the first in a series of stand-alone books set in the world of showbusiness.

When I’m not writing or reading, I can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city – with a writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand.

I live in north London with my husband and a lot of books, and have three adult children who live nearby.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Goodreads / Amazon

Interview

Frankie Hi Lynne, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Lynne Hi Frankie, Thank you for having me as a guest on your lovely blog.

Frankie It’s a pleasure having you here. Firstly, Can you tell us a little about latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Lynne My latest release, The One That I Want, is contemporary women’s fiction, set in the world of showbusiness. Its location is in and around London’s Theatreland, which is one of my favourite parts of London. In the book, Lucy Ashford lands a job at a leading theatrical agency – and literally falls into the arms of Hollywood heartthrob Daniel Miller. Handsome, charming and irresistible, Daniel is just what unlucky-in-love Lucy needs, and she is quickly drawn into his glittering celebrity lifestyle. But can she tame the A-list bad boy or is she just one more girl in Daniel’s long line of conquests? And then there’s up-and-coming actor Owen Somers, fiercely talented but as yet uncast in a starring role…

Frankie This is a wonderful book and one I highly recommend. If you could take a holiday in any era and place, when and where would it be?

Lynne That’s a difficult choice to make! I find so many historical eras interesting, but I think I would choose to visit Roman Britain. I enjoy exploring Roman sites like Hadrian’s Wall, and it would be fascinating to go back in time and see them in their heyday, and to meet the people who lived and worked in them. My trip to the past would have to be fairly short though, as I’m sure I’d miss modern technology!

Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead characters?

Lynne I’d love my debut novel, French Kissing, to be made into a film – especially if I could visit the cast and crew on location in Paris, where part of the book is set! For my heroine, Anna Mitchel, who is English and lives in London, I’d cast Dianna Agron (Glee, I Am Number Four) – she’s American, but I hope she wouldn‘t mind doing an English accent! For my Parisian hero, Alexandre Tourville, I’d cast French actor, Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, Les Chansons d’Amour).

Frankie Oooh, looks good! Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Lynne My favourite character tends to change with each WIP to one of the characters that I’m writing about, usually my hero or heroine, I think because they are the characters who I’m spending time with! In The One That I Want, my favourite character is Lucy because although she is suddenly thrust into a glamorous world and lifestyle, she manages to keep her feet on the ground, and remain loyal to her friends, especially her best friend from childhood. The importance of friends and family is one of the themes of the book.

Frankie If you ever decided to write a different genre of book, which would it be?

Lynne It would have to be a historical novel – I know I’d have a lot of fun doing the research.

Frankie What are you reading at the minute? Or your last book you read?

Lynne I’ve just finished reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, which is an original and atmospheric re-telling of ancient Greek myth for modern readers. It’s beautifully written, and at the same time, a real page-turner. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical novels.

Frankie When writing do you plan the full book ahead, or do you just go with the flow?

Lynne I know how my books are going to start and how they end, but when I start writing I have very little idea of what happens in the middle. Fortunately, there comes a point when it feels as though the characters have taken over the plot and decide for themselves what’s going to happen to them! When I’m about two-thirds through my story and have a clearer idea of the plot’s twists and turns, I plan future chapters to keep the action on track.

Frankie How do you like to relax once you’ve finished writing?

Lynne I read a lot – my tbr pile is taller than I am. I also very much enjoy visiting the theatre, especially musicals, and go to as many West End shows as I can.

Frankie Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Lynne. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun….

If you were stranded in the middle of nowhere over night, no civilisation around, with nothing but your backpack what four other things would you have with you?

Lynne A pen, a notebook, a torch and a novel.

Frankie Thank you!

Lynne Thank you, Frankie, I enjoyed chatting.

About The Book

The latest sparkling romance from the award-winning author of French Kissing.

When Lucy Ashford lands a top job at a leading theatrical agency in London, work mixes with pleasure, as she literally falls into the arms of Hollywood heartthrob Daniel Miller.

Handsome, charming and irresistible, Daniel is just what unlucky-in-love Lucy needs, and she is quickly drawn into his glittering celebrity lifestyle. But can she tame the A-list bad boy or is she just one more girl in Daniel s long line of conquests?

And then there’s up-and-coming actor Owen Somers, fiercely talented but as yet uncast in a starring role. After she takes him onto the agency’s books, Owen and Lucy’s friendship slowly grows. If she looks closely, Lucy’s leading man might be right before her very eyes…

The One That I Want id available now and can be purchased at Amazon.

My Review

Well this is a wonderfully, romantic story! This is the first book I have read by Ms Shelby and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to reading more from this talented author. The One That I Want is a fun, entertaining and very romantic. It’s a good old fashioned rom-com, where girl meets boy – or in this case boys – and she goes on a once in a life time journey to find who she is and who has stolen her heart.

When an old school friend who is now a famous children’s tv star, suddenly turn’s up on her doorstep, Lucy’s life changes completely. She is offered the chance of a life time to move to London and make a name for herself. She moves in with her old friend and her not-so-nice PA, t first Lucy is a little rabbit in head lights, everything is new, and the bright lights of London turn her head, but she soon gets over her initial awe of the city when she lands a lucrative job at one of the leading theatrical agencies.

As her career starts moving in the right direction Lucy soon finds herself torn between two completely different men. She meets the agencies leading star and ladies’ man Daniel who turns Lucy’s head with his silky charm and she soon falls head over heels for the charming attention loving Daniel. She is swept along in his fast and glittery lifestyle of showbiz parties and premiers. Then after signing her first client; the hugely talented, yet unknown actor and incredibly down to earth Owen, who has a genuine sparkle in those blue eyes and soon they are growing steadily closer. But which life does she want and more importantly which of our leading men claims Lucy’s heart?

Lucy is such an ordinary, down to earth young woman, who before she took the chance to move to London she was a bit stuck in a rut. She has a great open personality that believes and trust’s everyone she comes into contact with, even though at times I think that she maybe a little too naive when it comes to people as she later comes to learn. I really like the interactions between each of the character’s, they banter, flirt and have fun. There is drama and in each of their lives, that is engaging and keeps you reading.

This is the perfect book for lazing the summer days away, the story is charming and will appeal to all, not matter what you read. The story sweeps you away in a flurry of stardust that will leave you wanting an encore. The One That I Want is a wonderfully, glittery romance that is highly enjoyable and just like it’s lovable characters it’s fun and dazzling and very highly recommended.

This was an ARC copy via the author as apart of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Why not check out the other stops on the tour.

Exclusive Chat With George Standish-Brookes & Henry Fitzwalter, Stars of The Captain and the Cricketer.

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Today I have the very great pleasure to welcome the stars of ‘The Captain and the Cricketer’ George Standish-Brookes and Henry Fitzwalter to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive and illuminating chat. Really these lads are a hoot! (Plus, they provided scones, so I’m happy.) So, take a seat, get the tea and scones at the ready because you really don’t want to miss a moment of this chat.

Frankie: Hello lads, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Hello! Captain George Standish-Brookes reporting for duty all alone, alas, as Fitz is in the kitchen talking to a concerned resident about their ferret’s toenails or some such – village vets never sleep! So for now, at least, you’ll have to put up with just me.

Frankie: I don’t mind at all, it’s so good to have you here. Firstly, what five words would you use to describe yourself?

George: I’ll give you three. No, four. Captain George Standish-Brookes. One doesn’t like talking about oneself – the gossip columns have done enough of that already. Instead, I’ll give you five words to describe Fitz – Henry to his mum – instead, and he can deal with the George side of things. So Fitz, who has now joined me with a pot of tea and a plateful of scones, is five words of fabulous. Handsome, smart, tweedy, sexy, husband.

Frankie: Hello Henry, so glad you could join us.

Henry (aka Fitz): Oh hell, I’ve dropped the scones! Well that’s very kind of you, Standy-Bee. My five words for you would be… gorgeous, brave, mischievous, shirtless and kind.

George: I’m not always shirtless, just in case people were wondering about what I do in winter. Often, not always.

Frankie: *Smiling* If you could take a holiday in any era and place, when and where would it be? And why?

George: I’m very fortunate to have seen many of my bucket list destinations whilst filming my Secret Histories series for the Beeb. And as anyone who’s watched them (which is, I think, several million of you) will know, I’m no stranger to getting togged up and trying out life as it was back in Sparta, Rome, the Russian revolution, Sherwood Forest and half a dozen other amazing eras.

Henry: Several million? Could I have a sixth word to describe, George, please — cocky!

George: You’ll get us an X rating talking like that! If I take my pick though, I’d whisk Fitz and I back to Rome in the 1960s. We’d hop on a scooter and join Anita Ekberg for a frolic in the Trevi Fountain!

Henry: I’d pick the Treetops Hotel in Kenya in the 1950s — but without any shooting going on. I’d just like to drive about in a jeep with George and watch the lions at sunset.

George: Oh, that’s a lovely idea, darling. You and I tooling about, you in your Panama hat and sensible togs, me in far less. Sunblock and a smile.

Frankie: Can you tell us a little about your latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

George: The Captain and the Cricketer is a new release by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead that tells our story, Fitz and me, from daggers drawn to sharing scones and a lot more besides. In true promo fashion, you’ll have to buy it to find out how we solved a crime, saved a village and banished a billionaire!

Henry: And rescued a foal! George — if you blow on the scone, it’s perfectly edible. They were only on the floor for under five seconds.

George: Your mind’s in the gutter today, Fitz. Blow on this, cocky that! And yes, we rescued a lovely foal and a darling of a dog, who is eyeing that scone with interest but no hope of getting it. Fitz surrenders his scone to nobody!

Frankie: *Cough’s subtly* Who was your childhood hero?

George: Fitz. He was my best chum and I always wished I could be him, because he never struggled with his homework or got bowled out first wicket. He’s still my hero today, I’m very blessed to know him.

Henry: I always admired George when we were nippers. But might I say James Herriot? I have all of his books, and George and I were glued to the screens on Sunday evenings watching his adventures!

George: I always had a bit of a crush Tristan when I was a boy. The first stirrings!

Henry: Ah, Tristan — there’s a man who knows how to carry off a cricket jumper.

George: That was Dr Who, darling. Do you remember that stick of celery he wore? I should do that at the next match, cricket jumper, whites, celery. I’m halfway to a Bloody Mary.

Frankie: If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead characters?

George: The Captain and the Cricketer, since it’s the only Curzon/Harkstead novel that stars Henry and me. Whoever plays me would have to be very, very British. A posh boy who looks good in cricket jumpers and out of them!

Henry: Not that he was an actor, but my hero — James Herriot.

George: Good choice, Fitz. I have no idea what he looked like, but spiritually, you’re the heir to his stethoscope.

 

*Frankie’s note : Above left the real James Herriot and right my choice of who would play George; Toby Stephans.

Frankie: You are the stars of the Captain and the Cricketer, but who is your favourite character in the book – yourselves excepted? (Question rewritten by George and Henry!]

George: If I can, I’ll say say Jez and Nimrod, our horse and dog, because they’re a couple of gorgeous little heroes. Otherwise I think Reverend Standish-Brookes and Bad Billy Fitzwalter, our 18th century ancestors. They’re quite a trailblazing and scandalous pair! And the rev’s mum, Georgie, because she was up for just about anything and looked fabulous in a frock!

Henry: And you look fabulous in a frock, too, darling! As for me, well, the newts who live in Longley Parva Manor’s lake are a particular favourite.

George: I’ve spent many happy hours running programme ideas past those newts – they’re refreshing full of common sense for a chap who’s used to dealing with the British press!

Frankie: *Giggles away for a good five minutes* What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

George: Three tips for an aspiring anything, just to have a happy life. Be patient, be kind, eat cake.

Henry: I am an aspiring author myself, you know. I’ve started to write my memoir. A sort of 21st century James Herriot.

George: All Fitzes Great and Small.

Henry: That’s the working title! My advice would be: don’t let your dog chew your pens, don’t let your dog eat your notepads, and finally, don’t let your dog walk across your keyboard.

Frankie: *Laugh’s again* Great tip, just keep dog away. If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

George: I’m rather fortunate in that my careers as an occasionally shirtless TV historian means that I’ve been able to meet a lot of my heros and work with a fair few of them so I’m probably going to have to jaunt back into history for this one. What about you, Fitz? Siegfried, Tristan and Tricky Woo?

Henry: I always thought the late, great Robert Hardy would’ve been fun to meet — he seemed to be full of bonhomie. Jenny Lind — she could sing for us after dinner, as I’ve always wondered what her voice sounded like. Not on some scratchy old record, but live — that would be amazing, wouldn’t it? And the legendary W G Grace, too — would love to get some tips from him. Maybe practice with him in the hallway.

George: Oh, that’s a marvellous trio, you could all share a pizza and a few bottles – think of the stories! I would gather good old Magellan, whose voyage I recreated for the Beeb a couple of years ago. I’d love to meet the remarkable Sacagewa too, because she’s a lady we should all know a darn sight more about. To fill the third seat who better than the man, the legend, the great, David Gower. I’m sure they’d all find plenty of common ground. Cricket and exploring – perfect!

   

*Left to right : Jenny Lind, W.G Grace, David Gower and Siegfried, Tristan Farnon and James Herriot with Tricky Woo.

Frankie: Thank you both, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to chat with me today. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

George: Strawberries and cream shared with Fitz, sitting beside the lake at home on a balmy summer evening. Perfection!

Henry: With a bottle of champers?

George: At least. Maybe even two.

Henry: Sharing an ice cream cone on the prom at Brighton with George. With lots of sprinkles and raspberry sauce!

George: Everything’s better with lots of sauce.

Frankie: Perfect! Thank you, lads. It has been wonderful to chat with you today and thank you for the scones. I don’t mind that they’ve been on the floor. 😉

Meet the Authors

You have met George and Henry, now here are the two wonderful ladies who have given wings to their story.

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is an author and royal historian of the 18th century.

She has written extensively for publications including HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine, Your Family History, Real Crime, Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austen’s Regency World. Catherine has given solo talks at venues and events including the Stamford Georgian Festival, the Jane Austen Festival, Lichfield Guildhall, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and Dr Johnson’s House. In addition, she has appeared with An Evening with Jane Austen, starring Adrian Lukis, at Kenwood House, the Hurlingham Club, Godmersham Park, the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, the Jane Austen Festival, Bath, and the Stamford Georgian Festival.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine can often be found watching the mighty Huddersfield Town. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously step hill with a rakish colonial gentleman, a long-suffering cat and a lively dog

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.

Originally from the south-east, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

George and Henry’s Story

The Captain and The Cricketer

When an uptight countryside vet and a sexy TV star meet on the cricket pitch, they’re both knocked for six!

Henry Fitzwalter is a solid sort of chap. A respectable rural vet and no stranger to tweed, he is the lonely inhabitant of crumbling Longley Parva Manor.

Captain George Standish-Brookes is everyone’s favorite shirtless TV historian. Heroic, handsome and well-traveled, he is coming home to the village where he grew up.

Henry and George’s teenage friendship was shattered by the theft of a cup, the prize in a hard-fought, very British game of cricket. When they resolve their differences thanks to an abandoned foal, it’s only a matter of time before idyllic Longley Parva witnesses one of its wildest romances, between a most unlikely couple of fellows.

Yet with a golf-loving American billionaire and a money-hungry banker threatening this terribly traditional little corner of Sussex, there’s more than love at stake. A comedy of cricket, coupling and criminality, with a splash of scandal!

You can pre-order their story now at Amazon.

A Chat With…Author Jayne Davis

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I have the great pleasure to welcome Historical Romance author; Jayne Davis to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive interview.

About Jayne

I write historical romance, set in the late Georgian/Regency era, published as both ebooks and paperbacks.

I was hooked on Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer as a teenager, and longed to write similar novels myself. Real life intervened, and I had several careers, including as a non-fiction author under another name. That wasn’t quite the writing career I had in mind…

So here I am, finally publishing fiction. I hope you enjoy my stories.

Website / Amazon / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Frankie Hi Jayne, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Firstly what five words would you use to describe yourself?

Jayne Reader, writer, chocolate-eater, lover-of-the-outdoors*, romantic

*yes, I know that’s probably cheating!

Frankie Hahaha, not cheating at all. If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?

Jayne 12th Century England (with a suitable armed escort).

As a lover of the British countryside, I’d be fascinated to see how it has changed since then. Today, in Britain, we are used to a landscape outside cities that is mainly fields and small patches of woodland, or bare mountains and moorland. Back then, much more of the country was covered in trees. I’m also a fan of Ellis Peters’ Cadfael books – although I feel no inclination to set my historical romances in that period.

Frankie Oooh, yes! That sounds fabulous, Can you tell us a little about latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Jayne I have only one book out so far – The Mrs MacKinnons, a romance set in England in 1799. I had this and another full-length novel written as a hobby before I decided I really could publish them. Both have been extensively critiqued and revised, and are now so much better than my initial attempts! However I have also learned a lot more about book marketing, and the next novel (Playing with Fire) will sit well as the 2nd or 3rd book in a series, so now I am writing a novella to start the series (Sauce for the Gander), and possibly another novella that will be the 2nd in the series. They are all set in England, in the late Georgian period. All can be read in isolation, but it makes sense to publish them in chronological order of the stories. So maybe Sauce for the Gander will be out by Christmas (crosses fingers and resolves to spend less time procrastinating on the internet!) Find out more on my website.

Frankie This sounds brilliant! Who was your childhood hero?

Jayne The Apollo astronauts and Amy Johnson! This might seem strange for a writer of historical romances, but my first career was as an engineer, and as a teenager I was fascinated by space and aeroplanes.

Frankie Not strange at all, If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead characters?

Jayne Playing with Fire – possibly an unfair answer as it’s not published yet (but if anyone fancies being a beta reader, get in touch!). I love the characters in The Mrs MacKinnons, but a lot of the story depends on characters feelings and thoughts rather than actions, and I’m not sure how that would translate to film. Playing with Fire has more action, a feisty heroine and likeable hero. I’d pick Aiden Turner for Alex (although he won’t need to take his shirt off, sadly), and maybe Emma Watson as Phoebe.

Frankie Sounds great! Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Jayne I like most of them (apart from the villains!). I’m going to pick a secondary character from The Mrs MacKinnons. Sergeant Webb had a horrible childhood (as many of the ‘lower’ classes did in the 19th century), but still has an underlying decency. He’s just the kind of managing sergeant any officer needs, and he still acts like that when he finds himself in civilian life again.

Frankie Where does your inspiration for your books come from?

Jayne Thin air? It’s difficult to know, really. The idea for The Mrs MacKinnons came about when I wondered what would be involved in renovating a derelict house a couple of centuries ago, then the rest developed from that. Given that I wanted to write a romance, I needed to work out who the house belonged to, why it became derelict, why the owner (who would almost always have been a man in those days) would need help to renovate it, why a woman would agree to do so, and so on. Some of the characters seemed to just appear on their own. Webb, who I mentioned above, was initially just a means of getting Matthew out of prison in the prologue to the story – but then he seemed to elbow his way into the story. If that makes me sound a bit of a nutter – welcome to writer’s brain!

Frankie What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Jayne Just write. Even if it’s rubbish, get it down. You can edit it later.

Join a critique group. This can be a local author society, or a website – I’ve made good virtual friends on a site called Scribophile, where we critique each other’s stories. To me, this is easier than showing my work face to face.

Get an editor, doesn’t have to be a professional, but someone with a good grasp of grammar. You can never spot all the mistakes in your own writing.

Frankie Those are wonderful tips, Thank you. If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

Jayne Ooh, difficult! I’m going to stick to women, as men have had most of the chance to express their views over the years. Mary Wollstonecraft, I think, as a free thinker of her time. Caroline Herschel, sister of William Herschel (who discovered Uranus, amongst many other things) but was an astronomer in her own right. Finally, Lady Mary Stanhope, explorer and archaeologist.

Frankie Brilliant! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, Jayne. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Jayne A cream tea! Scones, jam, clotted cream. Yum!

Mmmmm! Yummy, Thank you!

About the Book

The Mrs MacKinnons

England, 1799

Major Matthew Southam returns from India, hoping to put the trauma of war behind him and forget his past. Instead, he finds a derelict estate and a family who wish he’d died abroad.

Charlotte MacKinnon married without love to avoid her father’s unpleasant choice of husband. Now a widow with a young son, she lives in a small Cotswold village with only the money she earns by her writing.

Matthew is haunted by his past, and Charlotte is fearful of her father’s renewed meddling in her future. After a disastrous first meeting, can they help each other find happiness?

The Mrs MacKinnons is available now and can be found at Amazon.

The Woolgrowers Companion by Joy Rhoades, Exclusive Author Interview and Review

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Today I have the very great pleasure to welcome Historical Fiction author; Joy Rhoades to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive chat and to share my review of her beautiful debut novel; the Woolgrowers Companion.

About Joy

I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of history, and a great and gentle teller of stories. My childhood gave me two passions: a love of the Australian landscape and a fascination with words and stories.

I left the bush at 13 when I went to boarding school in Brisbane. I stayed on there to study law and literature at the University of Queensland. After, my work as a lawyer took me first to Sydney and then all over the world, to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. But I always carried in my head a strong sense of my childhood: the people, the history, the light and the landscape. Those images have never left me and they would eventually become The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s a story I’ve felt I had to tell.

I currently live in London with my husband and our two young children. But I miss the Australian sky.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Amazon / Goodreads

Interview

Frankie Hi Joy, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Firstly what five word’s would you use to describe yourself?

Joy I guess I’m curious and tenacious. And kind, I hope. I try to be.

Frankie If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?

Joy If I could time travel, I’d like to go with aviation pioneer from the ‘30s, Amelia Earhart. To meet her and find out what happened to her. I have always wanted to learn to fly, and she was such a woman of firsts. Inspiring and tragic. I’m fascinated like many, as to what really happened to her in the end.

Frankie That would be amazing, she was such a fascinating and brilliant lady. Can you tell us a little about latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Joy The Woolgrower’s Companion is historical fiction, set in Australia in 1945 on a remote sheep station. It’s the story of a young woman’s fight to save her father’s farm, when he becomes ill. Kate Dowd, the hero, is somewhat newly married but her remote husband is away fighting in the war. When Kate’s father accepts two Italian prisoners of war to work, unguarded, on their sheep property, Kate must fight to protect herself and Daisy, her 14-year-old domestic, a product of the Aboriginal Domestic Training Home. Kate’s is a story of struggle but essentially a story of hope and of love.

Frankie Love it!! Who was your childhood hero?

Joy I really admired Amelia Earhart. I have always wanted to learn to fly so she had it all. A pioneer, an explorer, a woman. Unfortunate end, of course, but it seemed worth it.

Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead character’s?

Joy It’s funny but a lot of readers have told me how cinematic they find The Woolgrower’s Companion. A mate suggested Margot Robbie for Kate, perhaps? She’s from a small town not far from where I was born, so she’ll understand landscape. Luca? I asked my followers on social media and from the nominations, one name stood one: Aldo Mignone. And he looks just perfect for it.

 

Frankie Oooh, very nice! 😊 Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Joy I like Kate, the main character in The Woolgrower’s Companion. She grows a lot through the books, makes mistakes, learns sometimes, not always. But she ‘banks’ her learning so se feels stronger over time. I hope she’s inspiring.

Frankie Where doe’s your inspiration for your books come from?

Joy The Woolgrower’s Companion is based very loosely on family stories, especially from my grandmother Gladys Wyndham Mueller-Chateau. She lived almost all of her 102 years on a sheep place in northern New South Wales. She was very like so many bush women: resilient, funny and very proper 😊

Frankie Wow, that is incredible! What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Joy See writing as an end, a craft that you work at all your life, whether to be at the top of the NYT best seller list (I wish 😉) or just for yourself. But keep at it, working to hone your skills and take pride in that work. There’ll be such reward that comes within from just writing well. Anything else that a writer manages? Like getting a short story published or even getting a publishing deal? Clover.

Frankie Those are brilliant, Thank you! If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

Joy Wow. Where to start. The Australian poet and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal (formerly Kath Walker). And another Australian poet Judith Wright (she’s a distant relative of mine, which fact I love, hoping a drop, just one drop, of her outsize talent might have Australian-crawled its way through the gene pool to me :/) Tim Winton would have to be there, of course. We’d all talk writing and landscape, words and land.

Frankie Thank you, Joy for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Joy I love ice-cream. I’m torn between pistachio ice-crema and salted caramel. It’s close, but I think salted caramel wins 😊

Oh, yummy! 😉

Thank you Joy!

About the Book

Kate Dowd’s mother raised her to be a lady but she must put away her white gloves and pearls to help save her family’s sheep farm in New South Wales.

It is 1945, the war drags bitterly on and it feels like the rains will never come again. All the local, able-bodied young men, including the husband Kate barely knows, have enlisted and Kate’s father is struggling with his debts and his wounds from the Great War. He borrows recklessly from the bank and enlists two Italian prisoners of war to live and work on the station.

With their own scars and their defiance, the POWs Luca and Vittorio offer an apparent threat to Kate and Daisy, the family’s young Aboriginal maid. But danger comes from surprising corners and Kate finds herself more drawn to Luca than afraid of him.

Scorned bank managers, snobbish neighbours and distant husbands expect Kate to fail and give up her home but over the course of a dry, desperate year she finds within herself reserves of strength and rebellion that she could never have expected.

The Woolgrower’s Companion is the gripping story of one woman’s fight to save her home and a passionate tribute to Australia’s landscape and its people.

Joy’s debut book The Woolgrowers Companion is to be released on 28th June and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

My Review

Well, what can I say about this book, other than; It is incredibly moving and astoundingly good. Really, this book is really too good for words! The Woolgrowers Companion is Ms Rhoades debut and, my goodness what an introduction, this highly talented author is going to go very far in the world of historical fiction. I love the fact that ‘The Woolgrowers Companion’ is based on the real-life story of one of the author’s ancestors, and at the start of each chapter is a little quote from The Wool Growers Companion which fits in beautifully with the way the story and chapter is going. This is an astonishing, emotionally raw and beautifully written book which handles some very difficult subjects, but Ms Rhoades has covered them with the upmost care.

Set during 1945 in North South Wales, Australia where a young woman, Kate Dowd who has always been brought up to be a proper lady by her later mother has had to cast aside her lady-like gloves and behavior to help on her family farm; Amiens along with her increasing worrisome father; who built up the farm from scratch at the end of WW1. With the war nearing an end, the area is dry with drought and lack of able-bodied men, all gone due to the war which including her husband of six months; Jack. Amiens is the recipient of two Italian POW’s; Luca and Vittorio her father is very grateful for the help and so is Kate that is until she is given one of them to help her in the kitchen garden.

She becomes increasingly drawn to handsome and gentlemanly Luca, he isn’t at all what she expected when they had agreed to take on two POW’s. He is polite, hardworking and kind she knows she shouldn’t take an interest in Luca and he knows that fraternizing with the local girls is punishable with imprisonment and, yet there is a spark between them. To add to Kate’s worries her father has been borrowing money that they can’t possibly pay back, and the horrible bank manager is on the war path to take Amiens from them.

I love the fact that this is predominantly written through Kate’s point of view, she is a very real young woman, that you can relate to instantly. She goes through so many emotions that you share with her as the story goes along; from confusion over her startling feelings for Luca, surprise and anger at what her father has done and sadness that her husband Jack is so far away and that they are on the verge of losing everything her family have worked so hard for.

I will admit that even though I have read a lot of post war novels, this is the first time I have read one set in this setting. In my ignorance, I hadn’t known how the war affected those from Australia or even that Italian POW’s were sent to work on Australian farm’s. The ‘Woolgrowers Companion’ is an eye-opening and thought-provoking story that captures the reader’s imagination and invokes a thirst to learn more.

This book is simply stunning! Ms Rhoades has a rare gift for story-telling, she entices and enthrall’s with her articulate writing and rich, atmospheric detail that transports you from your armchair to 1945 Australia. Her attention to detail is min-blowing, the plot and characters are perfect, the story moves forward in a very natural and at times surprising way, each scene is full of historic details and mood of the times and characters. Rhoades has created a beautiful story that I can guarantee will stay with you long after you close the last page.

There are some very harsh and brutal moments such as racism, bigotry, PTSD and early stages Dementia which, Rhoades deals with it all in a respectful and honest and in a way that leaves a real sense of what these characters are going through. The authors genuine love of the story and her extensive research is evident on every page.

This really is something special, it is a fascinating and moving portrayal of the time from a new author whose career I am looking forward to reading more from.

Magical and beautiful.

This was an ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Woolgrowers Companion is to be released 28th June and can be purchased from Amazon.