Tag Archives: Contemporary Fiction

Author Interview: ‘They Lived They Were at Brighton Beach’ by Iván Brave

About the Book:

Amid loss, hope, and despair, They Lived They Were . . . is a story about the power to move on.

It begins with a show at Brighton Beach, New York, where Ilya Gagarin performs a set of original dance music to a crowd of loyal fans. They know him as a rising internet star, only 22 years old, and the resident DJ at one of Brooklyn’s sauciest nightclubs. And yet, at the apex of this performance, a text comes in from his girlfriend who just happened to find his stash of coke and crushed prescription pills. Feeling betrayed for the last time, she leaves him. Deletes him. And goes on to have her own successful career as a blues guitarist.

The rest of the summer becomes a struggle to get her back.

The best way and only way Ilya knows how is to launch the debut EP he has been putting off. Unfortunately for the DJ, the club where he works at teeters on fiscal collapse, plus the security manager is a jerk, blocking his every chance for a release party. Only a has-been, mentor-type DJ, encourages Ilya to finish the project, and share it with the world.

As he works towards his dream, the pressure to succeed, paired with the growing pains of a professional artist, reveals a dark truth: the loss of his mother. Soon, recurring nightmares haunt the DJ, alongside distant childhood memories. Only the power of music, together with an urge to regain his abandoned Russian heritage, both of which are described passionately in his journal, keep him afloat week after week.

Soon, Ilya meets a real life guardian angel. Someone twice his age, and Russian, too: the ethereal yet grounded Julia Levina, a celebrated news anchor with her own troubled past. She inspires him to finish the album and land a date for the launch. By midsummer, her pity turns to empathy, which itself turns into something more. An affair ensues. A smart one, they convince themselves, since it doesn’t implicate her 6 year old child, nor pull Ilya astray from the path he believes will win back his ex-girlfriend’s heart.

Close to the date of the show, however, the DJ suffers a relapse, this time with dire consequences. He isn’t able to finish the album in time for the launch party, which comes and goes, and culminates in even more tragedy. Though things look gloomy, it does serve as the reality check that concludes the misguided affair and ends his substance abuse. But not before one final twist.


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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US


Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

It’s easy to look back and make sense of things in retrospect. Yet this remains a particularly poignant question for all writers. That’s probably why it is number one, no? My answer: it was during a quiet night in the fall of 2013, in Austin, Texas, bored and with nothing going for me in life, that I put together a one-page story about a father and a son. And everything feel into place. I felt so good after writing that page that I saw myself doing it the rest of my life.

Surely, for one ridiculous spark of creativity to have determined the course of my life, should tell you a little about who I am J

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Currently it’s the hour between breakfast and starting my full-time job. It’s untouchable, and non-negotiable. I would say, in general, those are always my favorite times to write: quiet hours that no one can take away from me. Writing is sacred to me. As for “place” I have always preferred my bedroom. Cafes and libraries don’t really do it for me. I suspect this is for the same reason as “time,” because my writing place must be wholly mine.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Well, to paraphrase the fantasy author Ms Riley (www.readingnook84.wordpress.com/2020/02/24/author-interview-secrets-of-the-sanctuary-by-octavia-j-riley), who you interviewed earlier this year, I would say the majority of my ideas just come to me. It’s like a little voice in my head or heart, that I trust more than I trust myself sometimes. “Try this,” it says. I reply, Uh ok, and go for it. It might be a small image or a loud first line that comes. Other times it is a whole character. Rarely is the idea a whole book. Except when it is, like with my current writing project, then I must begin from the big picture and work my way down, painfully seeking sentences, chapters, ideas, which may or may not come.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

My guiding rule is to try something different every time I embark on a new story. So I’ve done it both ways. Why not? I certainly don’t feel like I’ve nailed the perfect recipe down, so I am still apprenticing in a lot of ways. But, think of it this way, even if we did stumble upon the ultra-formula, why would we stick to it? I would get bored cooking the same food in the same way every night. So it is with preparing a story, and enjoying it too.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Ahem! Literary Realism, something like that. Now, look, I know the Reading Nook finds its origins in Romance, Paranormal, and Fantasy . . . and I quietly whisper that those are not my forte so to speak. Nevertheless, I have always been drawn to the fantastical, to the para-freaky, and to love. The type of fiction that draws me, then, is the one which borrow elements from Genre and employs them in a General Fiction way. For example, instead of a school of wizards with a wand-wielding professor, I prefer a normal university setting with a professor whose lessons are so honest they pierce you like a lightning bolt. Instead of a werewolf who tears his victim to shreds in the middle of the night, I am haunted by the image of a hairy chested stud who breaks a young girl’s heart with his words on the night of a full moon. Etc.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

I always told myself that I would want to ask the production house to hire fresh, never before seen actors, like first-time stars. The thought that my book launches someone’s career is just too attractive :). But heck, since we’re at it, in my latest book there are a ton of celebrity artists, so book them all for the script! And because I recently found out about her living in Romania, for the female true love interest at the end of the book, let’s hire Antonia Iacobescu. She would really make the audience hate the protagonist for ignoring her the whole story!

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

Do I read much huh? Even if I didn’t I wouldn’t be caught dead in the Nook saying something as deplorable as “I don’t read”!!! In fact, I can’t read enough!! Between writing, a full-time job, and spending quality time with my wife, it is an absolute necessity to carve out those quit 30 mins here and there to read. So yes, I do. On top of trying! In the most ideal of situations, however, I am able to go cover-to-cover on a normal book in 4-5 days if non-fiction, or 6-7 days if fiction. While a Gone With The Wind type novel may take 4-5 weeks.

Favor authors, in order of when they captivated me are Bukowski, Cortázar, and Tolstoy.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I’m currently reading Natsume Soseki’s I Am a Cat, the story of a nameless cat living with a middle-class family during early 1900s Japan, which if you may recall was a wild time for the country. The early chapters are kind of slow, but by the middle the book really, really picks up (isn’t that rare?). So good. I highly recommend it for anyone who find cats interesting, and would thus find their thoughts on humans hilarious.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I’m kind of like the kid from Perks of Being a Wall Flower who says his favorite book is the one he’s currently reading. But if I were pressed to pick just one, that had a huge impact on me and which I reread over and over, then I would say The Little Prince. So realistic, right?

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

I had to read your question like three times to come up with an answer. And it is this: “Stop thinking. Start writing.”

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Down below are all the links I use, but my favorite right now is my own blog. It used to be Instagram, because I loved making picture collages and wordplaying descriptions . . . but for now my blog is the best place to keep up with me and find out more.

Website: www.ivanbrave.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ivan.brave.author

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ivanbrave_

About the Author:

Iván Brave lives in Bucharest, Romania, where he writes poetry, reviews and novels, as well as promotes language learning in multinational corporations. He graduated from The New School in NYC with an MFA in Creative Writing, after earning a Bachelor in Philosophy from The University of Texas at Austin. Language, multiculturalism, and love, or anything that connects, are the themes dearest to his heart. In addition to winning prizes, such as the Writing Award from The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, his writings have appeared in literary publications like The American Scholar and The Acentos Review. Iván’s second novel, They Lived They Were at Brighton Beach, is out June 16th 2020.

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Book Blitz: ‘Versions of Her’ by Andrea Lochen

Title: Versions of Her

Author: Andrea Lochen

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC

Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction


About the Book:

On the surface, Melanie Kingstad-Keyes’s life is the picture of success. She’s a tenure track professor at a prestigious university and has a perfect husband. But a recent miscarriage has left her reeling and her marriage tenuous. Selling her family’s Lake Indigo summer home, which she hasn’t visited in fifteen years, feels like the perfect distraction from her problems. Now, she only needs to persuade her younger sister, Kelsey, to go along with her plan.

Stuck in a dead-end job, Kelsey Kingstad bounces from one doomed relationship to the next as she struggles to jumpstart her adult life. Carrying the guilt of her mother’s untimely death, Kelsey is reluctant to let go of the Victorian house filled with memories of her mom and their childhood.

When the sisters find a mysterious hidden door, Melanie and Kelsey discover that they can directly view their mother’s younger years and learn all the secrets she never shared with them. Delving into her memories is fun at first, but Melanie and Kelsey quickly uncover difficult truths, throwing their own life choices into question and making them wonder if they ever truly knew their mother. Visiting the past may help them find closure, but the cost could be steeper than they realize.


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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US



Kelsey dropped her overnight bag on the four-post bed. Who says I have to stay in my old tiny bedroom when this one’s available? It didn’t make sense for her to sweat and toss and turn when she could be sprawled out coolly and peacefully. She doubted her mom would have minded, and her dad wasn’t there and probably wouldn’t ever be there again before the sale of the house. Only Melanie would care, but her sister could deal with it. She hung up the dress in her parents’ closet then used the bathroom.

Melanie was leaning in the master bedroom’s doorway when Kelsey came out. “You’re going to stay in here?” she asked casually, but Kelsey could see her hands were clenched in tight balls.

“Yeah. Why not?” Kelsey responded equally as casually. “No one else is using it, and I’ll be much more comfortable. Besides, I don’t think Mom and Dad would mind, do you?”

Melanie shook her head stiffly. Maybe she was kicking herself for not staking a claim on the room first. It probably hadn’t occurred to her because her room was so much nicer than Kelsey’s. If she had, Kelsey would’ve been happy to stay in the bedroom with the tapestry. “I’ll have to take one of the queen-size quilts to the Laundromat,” she said.

“I could do it,” Kelsey offered. “Or I could sleep with the twin-size quilt tonight. I really don’t care.” She bent down to scratch behind Sprocket’s ears and saw his tongue was hanging out in a doggy grin. She would need to set out a bowl of water for him soon. “So what is this thing of Mom’s you wanted to show me?” She tried to sound appropriately enthusiastic.

But Melanie’s eagerness seemed to have lessened somewhat. She was still staring into their parents’ bedroom as if Kelsey had desecrated it somehow. “Right.” Melanie slowly returned her attention to her sister, and Kelsey got the distinct impression she was being appraised. “It’s in my room,” she finally said and ducked into the doorway of the middle bedroom. “But we should probably sit down first.”


About the Author:

Though Andrea Lochen had dreamed of being an author since the third grade, she didn’t realize creative writing was “an actual thing” until she stumbled upon the program at the University of Wisconsin as a college freshman.  After graduating from college, she earned her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Michigan and later achieved her dream of becoming a published author.

Andrea is now the author of three novels: The Repeat YearImaginary Things, and Versions of Her.  She teaches creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Waukesha, encouraging young writers to learn the craft and pursue their own writing dreams.  She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two small children, and their adorably fluffy dog, Maddy.  In her free time, she likes to bake cupcakes and cakes, see musicals and plays, and read as much as humanly possible.

Social Media Links:

Author website: http://andrealochen.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrealochen.author

Twitter: @AndreaLochen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6519007.Andrea_Lochen

BookBub: www.bookbub.com/profile/andrea-lochen

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing:


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Author Interview: ‘While Earth Still Speaks’ by Nancy Werking Poling

About the Book:

Elizabeth’s daughter, Angelica, has joined a cadre of eco-terrorists, and Mary (yes, the Holy One) has abruptly ended her “Operation: Earth Rescue” appearances at Elizabeth’s North Carolina farm. Now Elizabeth must discover her own calling, a passion worth risking her life for. It’s a journey into her own heart, and the adventure she embarks on is as unpredictable to her as it will be to the reader.


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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US


Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’m a late bloomer. While I admire the energy and honesty of young writers, I’d like to think that added wisdom and insight come with age. Freed from the hectic demands of job and parenting, I have time to reflect on my own life choices/experiences and those of people I’ve come into contact with over the years (which includes characters I’ve encountered through reading).

Yet I’ve always been a storyteller—that is, ask me a question and I’ll answer with a story. And I’ve long recognized a good story when I’ve heard about someone’s experience. That happened with Before It Was Legal: a black-white marriage (1945-1987). I met Anna and Daniel thirty years ago and thought, wow, that would make a great book. They agreed to an 11-day interview. However, the book didn’t come out until 2017. It took me that long to figure out how to tell a love story that didn’t end with “happily-ever-after.”

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I treat writing as a job. That is, I try not to schedule daytime activities. “Try” is the operative word here. Even though I’m an introvert I recognize the need for friends. But I limit engagements.

I’m neither a morning nor night person. Each morning I have to read the news and do a Sudoku before I get to my computer. That seems to get my brain in gear.

I’m lucky to have my own space, a quiet office that looks out on our wooded lot, distracted by little more than a male cardinal or nuthatch.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I’m often inspired by weird stories that appear in the newspaper. In the 1990s I read a short piece in The Chicago Tribune that Virgin Mary visitations at a Conyers, GA farm, had ended. Until then busloads of people had been attending. I wondered, what would the woman who had channeled Mary do now? She had become irrelevant.

At about that time I was looking up a word in my dictionary and came upon a picture of Mary Surratt (executed as a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth). I started reading about her. As deplorable as her actions were, she was committed to a cause. I found that interesting.

In more recent years I became worried about the environment. How could I make my life and my voice count? I considered several options, one of them eco-terrorism. No, I’m afraid of dying. My imagination returned to the Mary visitations. What if Mary came to a contemporary woman with the goal of rescuing Earth from ecological destruction? What if the main character’s daughter became an eco-terrorist? How could Mary Surratt somehow get into the story?

Thus was While Earth Still Speaks inspired.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

A character forms first, and I’m pretty sure what her dilemma is. I write and write until she’s fully revealed herself. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it’s challenging. I end up throwing away a lot of the initial writing. At some point the story takes on a life of its own, often surprising me. I’ll read and ask myself, “Where did that come from?”

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

If my stories fall into any genre it’s probably women’s fiction—not to be confused with chick-lit.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

I love this question. Meryl Streep as Elizabeth; Archie Panjabi (with added wrinkles and padding around the waist) as Mary.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

Yes, I read. Being part of a book club, I’m introduced to books I probably wouldn’t read otherwise. For example, June’s book was Behind the Beautiful Forevers, certainly not a pleasant story but one that broadens my circle of empathy.

My favorite author is Anne Tyler. I love her eccentric characters. Reading her books makes me feel like I have permission to imagine quirky protagonists. Isabel Allende’s a favorite too, mainly because of all the authors I’ve heard speak, she seemed the most genuine.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

In preparation for my next writing project, I’ve mainly been delving into non-fiction books about the South, particularly North Carolina at the close of the nineteenth century: the plight of North Carolina farmers, Jim Crow laws, and state politics. Last year I won the Alex Albright Non-fiction award for a piece about my husband’s grandfather: “Leander’s Lies.” I plan to develop that into a historical novel about Leander, a minister who deserted two wives and five children in North Carolina and married Wife No. 3 out in Missouri. I keep wondering, why did he leave?

9: What is your favorite book and why?

Giant, by Edna Ferber. I was very young when I saw Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean in the movie. I immediately checked the book out of the library. I don’t remember the differences between the movie and the book, but something in it touched a young girl’s heart at a deep level. Now as the mother of adult children and friend to many mothers like me, I appreciate the way each generation must map the future for themselves. AND how as mothers we must accept our children’s decisions.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

I’m not sure there’s such a thing as “thinking about” it. It’s a drive that grabs you and you can’t do otherwise. For some, like me, it takes longer for all this drive inside us to bubble up and erupt. But when it does…

It sounds like a cliché, you hear it so much, but you’ve got to sit down at the computer or with a pencil in hand and just start. It’ll likely be crap at first, and you’ll ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” You won’t be able to help yourself, though.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

I have a website: www.nancypoling.com, I’m on Facebook as “Nancy Poling, author,” and on Twitter @nancypoling.

A few years ago a hacker sent out a message through my Facebook page that I had lost thirty pounds through a miraculous weight-loss program. The grammar mistakes were the giveaway—plus acquaintances knew I hadn’t lost thirty pounds. I changed my password and went to a private setting. Recently I again established the public page at “Nancy Poling, author.”

For several years I’ve been blogging. I began to realize that all of my posts were political, which would get me all riled up while writing them. So I took a break and started an email list. For the next few months I’ll share scenes of the protagonist’s childhood that I decided not to include in While Earth Still Speaks.

About the Author:

I am a late bloomer. As a child I didn’t create stories nor did I dream of someday becoming an author. Yet I’ve long had other qualities associated with writers: I seldom follow directions and I’ve always been a daydreamer. Ask me a question, and my response is likely to be a long narrative that goes practically back to “In the beginning…”

Though born in Indiana, I was reared in Orlando, Florida, when it was still a sleepy little southern town. Yet my husband and I have lived in the Chicago area for more than twenty years. So I’m either a Midwesterner who’s been influenced by my southern upbringing or a Southerner influenced by midwestern ways. In December of 2008, to be closer to our children and grandchildren, we returned to the South, to North Carolina. The move further confuses my identity conundrum.

Friends think of me as having a positive outlook, but I can quickly create a list of negatives—things I DON”T do. I don’t cook. I don’t have a pet, nor do I want one. I don’t serve on committees. I haven’t adjusted well to technology (not even to the telephone).

I DO like sunshine and feel nostalgic for the days when we assumed it was safe to bake on a beach towel. I like time to myself. I like books. I travel every chance I get, and if I anticipate staying home for a while, I take trips vicariously through the Travel section of the New York Times. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Europe, Africa, and Asia. In 2005 and 2008 my husband was invited to teach a semester in Seoul, ROK. We both came to love the country and its people, who taught us much about hospitality.

Finally, I treasure time spent with my husband, Jim, our children, and grandchildren.

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Author Interview: ‘Winter Flower’ by Charles Sheehan-Miles

About the Book:

From the bestselling author of Just Remember to Breathe and The Last Hour, a shocking and poignant story of a family on the brink of destruction and the transformational events that could bring them back together–or tear them apart.

Every day, Cole Roberts reminds himself that life wasn’t always this bleak. He was once passionately in love with Erin. Sam used to be an artistic and lively kid. They hadn’t always lived in a shabby two-room house in rural Alabama, where he runs a mediocre restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

That was before Brenna disappeared. It was before Cole lost his job and they lost their home.
Every day it gets worse. Erin drinks wine out of the bottle and spends her days with a tormented expression, searching the web for signs of their daughter. Sam hides in his room and rarely speaks. And Cole works himself to a stupor for a paycheck a fraction of the size of his old salary.

Until one day a phone call changes everything.

Winter Flower is at once a tragic tale of the disappearance of a child; struggling with gender identity; of the dark world of sex-trafficking and the transformation and healing of a family. Sheehan-Miles’s longest novel delves into the depths of family life–and how, sometimes, we can heal and find restoration.


What people are saying:

“Sheehan-Miles’s writing, as always, is brilliant. I love this author’s voice and writing style. There’s an honesty to his storytelling which I think is why he is so good at conveying emotions and is why, with every book he’s written, including this one, I find myself crying while reading his words.” – Feeding My Addiction Book Reviews

“I feel emotionally wrecked in the best way.” – Bethany, Talkbooks Blog


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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US


Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I first articulated that I wanted to be a writer when I was in early middle school. At the time I was reading a lot of Marion Zimmer Bradley (before she and her husband turned out to be child molesters), Philip Jose Farmer, Tolkien, Arthur Clarke. At that age I devoured fantasy and science fiction; I wrote my first book long hand in the seventh grade. It was a naked rip-off of MZB’s work. I had a lot of encouragement from great teachers and my parents.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

The best time for me to write is sitting at a table in the shade of a porch on the beach while drinking a martini, or at least a cup of coffee.  Someone would keep me supplied with food and drink while I kept my feet up, working away on a laptop.

Life being what it is, I -actually- do most of my writing using Dragon Dictate software while driving my hour-long commute back and forth to work. I squeeze in more words whenever and wherever I can.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Life. I write about the things that scare me, the people I feel compassion for, the fears I have for my future and my children’s futures. While I don’t write autobiographical fiction, often elements from my life make their way into books. Some of the elements of one of the main characters in Winter Flower came out of my experience of losing my career during the Great Recession and ending up running a restaurant in Alabama. Other elements are fictional.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I often have a general idea of what the end of the story will look like, but I don’t always know how I will get there. As a result, I often end up having to rewrite the beginning or first third of a book, because characters or themes end up becoming far more important than I thought they would.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I’ve written in several genres, including military thrillers, romance, romantic suspense, espionage thrillers. But increasingly I’m crossing genres or writing outside of them. Winter Flower is a literary novel, with elements borrowed from crime fiction, suspense, family drama, coming of age, LGBTQ – I had a story to tell, and it mattered to me to get it right, regardless of where it lay in the genre and marketing spectrum.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

I’ve not given this even a moment’s thought. I’m not very good at naming actors and actresses.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I love to read. I would say some of my favorite authors are: Colleen McCullough, John Irving, Pat Conroy, Stephen King and Andrea Randall (full disclosure: I’m married to her!).

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I recently read On The Come Up by Angie Thomas. It was fantastic. I’m also reading the Mueller Report (digesting it slowly) and an early copy of Michelle Pace’s True Gold, which I believe will be released by Tule Publishing in July.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Just one? That’s impossible. But if I -had- to answer this, I would say it would be Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It’s 1000+ pages, amazing depth of character and history, and I’ve read it four or five times.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Focus on your art, not the market. During the two years I was a full-time writer, I spent too much time and energy worrying about the market, sales, advertising, promotion. It became a business instead of an art, because I had bills to pay. My writing suffered. I was happy to go back to work full time – it meant that I could focus on Winter Flower being the best book it could be, not the most marketable book it could be.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

My website is www.sheehanmiles.com.

My Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/CharlesSheehanMiles and I post regularly there about works in progress.

I use Twitter way too much, where I post about politics, books, military stuff, and only about my own books on a limited basis. @CharlesEMiles

And of course, Goodreads:


About the Author:

Charles Miles has been a soldier, computer programmer, short-order cook and non-profit executive, and is the author of more than a dozen fiction and non-fiction books, including the indie bestsellers Just Remember to Breathe and Republic: A Novel of America’s Future. He is a member of The Authors Guild and the Association of Independent Authors.

Charles and his wife Andrea live and write together in South Hadley, Massachusetts. He can be reached by email at Charles@sheehanmiles.net

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Blog Tour: ‘The Space Between Time’ by Charlie Laidlaw

Tour Banner

Welcome to the month-long mega tour for Charlie Laidlaw’s newest book, The Space Between Time, due for release on June 20th! There will be fantastic bloggers participating, who will be posting interviews, excerpts, reviews, and other exclusive content!

Additionally, there are loads of goodies being given away, so be sure to enter at the bottom!

Book Cover

The Space Between Time

Expected Publication Date: June 20th, 2019

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Dark Comedy

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

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Timescale for a Closed Universe

It wasn’t an afternoon that I like to remember, and not just because of my shrieking tantrum. Once I’d calmed down, Mum told me I’d been very silly, because it was all make-believe on a cinema screen. I reminded her that she’d cried when Bambi’s mum died, and that was a film and a cartoon. Mum said that it wasn’t the same thing at all. But I wasn’t being silly because I wasn’t old enough to know the difference between pretence and reality.

Dad had looked pretty dead on the screen. The blood on his chest had looked pretty real. If it had been a different dead person, I would have been OK. Children don’t really know where make-believe ends and the real world begins and, partly because of who I am, it’s remained pretty hazy ever since. I also don’t like to remember that film because it was the moment when I realised that our lives were about to change, and I didn’t know if that would be a good thing.

Sounds strange, yes? Here’s something stranger: I am a child of the sea, I sometimes think, and have done ever since we first moved to live beside it. I feel subject to its vagaries and tempers, with its foaming margins framed against a towering sky. I am familiar with its unchanging mood swings. That’s how I like things; I find the familiar comforting. I find change threatening.

I am the daughter of someone who, not long after that ghastly cinema outing, became one of the most famous actors of his generation and, importantly for me, the granddaughter of a rather brilliant but obscure physics professor. But despite their overachievements, I have inherited no aptitude for mathematics and my father positively hated the idea of his only offspring following in his thespian footsteps. He knew how cruel and badly paid the profession could be. But I still look up to my grandfather, and think of his ludicrous moustache with affection.

Gramps once told me that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on Earth. Just think of all those sandpits, beaches and deserts! That’s an awful lot of stars. He then told me, his only grandchild, that I was his shining star, which was a nice thing to say and why I remember him talking about sand and stars. On clear nights, with stars twinkling, I often think about him.

I still believe in my grandfather, and admire his stoic acceptance in the face of professional disdain, because I believe in the unique power of ideas, right or wrong, and that it’s our thoughts that shape our existence. We are who we believe ourselves to be.

I gave up believing in my father long ago, because speaking other people’s words and ideas seemed like a lame excuse for a job, even if he was paid millions, and met the Queen on several occasions. She must have liked him because she awarded him an OBE for services to film, theatre and charity. Charity! Who the hell told the Queen that?

I stopped believing in him one Christmas Day, a long time ago, when he simply didn’t turn up. It wasn’t his presents that I missed, or even his presence, but the warm, fuzzy feeling of being important to him. During that day of absence and loss I concluded that his wife and daughter couldn’t much matter to him, otherwise he’d have made a bigger effort to get home. That Christmas Day, my father was simply somewhere else, probably in a bar, immaculately dressed, his hair slicked back, the object of male envy and the centre of every woman’s attention for miles around.

In that respect, Dad was more tomcat than father, except that by then his territory, his fame, stretched around the globe. I know this: by then he had a Golden Globe to prove it. He gushed pheromones from every pore, squirting attraction in every direction, and even women with a poor sense of smell could sniff him out.

I feel mostly Scottish, but am a little bit Italian. It explains my name, Emma Maria Rossini; my dark complexion, black hair, the slightly long nose, and thin and lanky body. Obese I am not, and will never be, however much pasta I eat, and I eat lots. It also explains my temper, according to some people, although I don’t agree with them, and my brown cow’s eyes, as an almost-boyfriend once described them, thinking he was paying me a compliment, before realising that he had just become an ex-almost-boyfriend.

But mostly I am a child of the sea. That’s what happens if you live for long enough by its margins: it becomes a part of you; its mood echoing your mood, until you know what it’s thinking, and it knows everything about you. That’s what it feels like when I contemplate its tensile strength and infinite capacity for change. On calm flat days in North Berwick, with small dinghies marooned on the glassy water, and loud children squealing in its shallows, it can make me anxious and cranky.

The sea, on those days, seems soulless and tired, bereft of spirit. But on wilder days, the beach deserted, or with only a hardy dog-walker venturing across the sand, with large waves thundering in, broaching and breaking, then greedily sucking back pebbles into the foam, I feel energised: this is what the sea enjoys, a roaring irresponsibility, and I share in its pleasure. We are all children of the sea, I sometimes think, or we should be – even those who have never seen an ocean or tasted its saltiness; I can stand for hours and contemplate its far horizons, lost within myself, sharing its passion. In the Firth of Forth is the ebb and flow of my past and my existence, wrapped tight against the west wind. It is what I am, placid and calm, or loud and brash.

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About the Author


I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook | Twitter


I have 2 signed copies of The Space Between Time to giveaway, 3 fun coffee mugs featuring all 3 of Charlie Laidlaw’s books, and 3 digital copies of the book in the winner’s format of choice! Amazing right? Click the link below to enter!

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June 3rd

Reads & Reels (Review) http://www.readsandreels.com

The Writer’s Alley (Review) https://www.jacobrundle.com

Yearwood La Novela (Excerpt) http://yearwooddailybookreview.wordpress.com

June 4th

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

Little Tinklabee (Review) https://littletinkablee.com/

Jun 5th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

June 6th

Cup of Toast (Review) https://cupoftoast.co.uk

Gwendalyn’s Books (Review) http://gwendalynbooks.wordpress.com

June 7th

Breakeven Books (Interview) https://breakevenbooks.com

June 8th

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

June 9th

Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com

June 10th

Where Dragons Reside (Excerpt) https://kernerangelina.live/

Inked and Blonde (Review) http://www.inkedandblondeonline.co.uk

Go By the Book (Review) http://gobythebookblog.wordpress.com

Novel Lives (Review) https://novellives.com/author/literacybatmanlives/

June 11th

Valerie’s Musings – https://valeriesmusings.com/

June 12th

Misty’s Book Space – http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

June 13th

Brianne’s Book Reviews (Review) http://briannesbookreviewsvideo.wordpress.com

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June 15th

Wrong Side of Forty (Review) http://wrongsideoffortyuk.wordpress.com

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June 16th

The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

The Reading Chemist (Review) https://thereadingchemist.com/

June 17th

Erin Decker (Excerpt) http://erindeckerblog.wordpress.com

Reading Nook (Excerpt) https://readingnook84.wordpress.com

June 19th

Banshee Horror Blog (review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

June 20th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

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Sawdust & Spoons (Review) http://sawdustandspoons.com/

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Tsarina Press – https://www.tsarinapress.com

June 23rd

The Hufflepuff Nerdette (Review) https://thehufflepuffnerdette.wordpress.com/

June 25th

*Yearwood Novela – http://yearwooddailybookreview.wordpress.com

Kim Knight (Review & Interview) http://www.kimknightauthor.com

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks (Review) https://quirkycatsfatstacks.com/

June 26th

The Photographers Way (Review) http://www.thephotographersway.org

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Daily Waffle (Excerpt) http://www.dailywaffle.co.uk/

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June 28th

Scarlett Readz & Runz (Interview) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

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