Nail-biting thriller in my handbag to read on the go

Jenn Bregman 

 

 

 

 

Author, lawyer and adventurer, Jenn Bregman, stopped off in Wales whilst visiting the UK.  She stayed in the Brecon Beacons Mountain Range, so I drove out there, from Cardiff, to meet up with her. The year before, Jenn had just completed a reverse summit of the Grand Canyon, after having trekked up the 14,265 foot Quandary Peak in Colorado; she was on a roll to tackle even more hiking. We agreed to walk the summit of Pen y Fan and to chat at the same time.  I packed a picnic so that we could stop on route to chat.

The clouds over head looked ominous but we did not let that deter us from ascending the mountain.   The refreshing temperature was ideal for the climb over the rocky footpath.    As a lawyer, Jenn wears lots of formal suits, so she loves to really mix it up her outfits outside work.  She was wearing a red and white handkerchief shirt with her work-horse khaki hiking pants. Her brilliant green jacket matched her multi -pocketed rucksack. There was a copy of her book peeping out of one of the pockets of her rucksack.

Jessie:  I haven’t read your book so can you tell me more about it?

Jenn Bregman

Jenn removed a, well worn, copy of her book, ‘The TimeKeepers’.  The dramatic cover of a clock set against a background of the City of Los Angeles in muted blues and stark black, couldn’t have screamed “thriller” better.

Jenn: When attorney Sarah Brockman witnesses a random horrific car crash, she is thrust into the darkest shadows of Big Law greed and murder where she must not only confront a cunning and deranged adversary, but her own secret fears, if she is going to win.

Jessie:  The book sounds thrilling and complex.  Where did you get the ideas for the narrative?  Did your research it or do you have experience in this area of life?

Jenn:  It is all pulled from my experiences as a lawyer.  I worked in Big Law and I wanted to do work that made a difference.  Fortunately, I have always worked in firms that had the highest standards of ethics and personal responsibility, but in my practice, I came in contact with others that I could imagine could do things like some of the cunning and deranged antagonists in the book.

Jessie:  This kind of suspense legal thriller is very popular.  What do the reviewers say?

Jenn removed her mobile phone to search for the reviews.

Jenn:

Publishers Weekly: “Bregman’s legal thriller featuring a plucky solo practitioner fighting for the little guy should appeal to John Grisham fans.”

Ridgely’s Radar: “OMG! Do you want a fast moving, edge of your seat, twisting and turning book that you can’t put down?  Well, I have a book for you and . . .this is a MUST READ!  I was so scared to turn the page and find out what happened, it was heart pounding suspenseful and I didn’t want it to end.  I really hope the author brings back a sequel . . . loved the characters and want to know what happens next!”

White Rhino Report: “The author dials in more than the average ratio of plot twists and surprises.  The pace of the action is break-neck, and the characters are colourful enough to be interesting and amusing.  I could not wait to find out what would happen next, and found myself rooting strongly for Sarah, and for Sam.”

Jessie:  I get the impression that the style of writing is controlled and the tone is edgy. Am I right?

Jenn: The story is character and dialogue driven and the action is break-neck.  You don’t catch your breath until the very end when all the pieces come together in a powerful conclusion that makes you wonder what the characters are going to do next.

Jessie:  Can you read me a brief extract from the book that captures the essence of the novel?

Jenn:  “But that was all it was — a small detail.  Neither she nor her lawyer would ever find the money.  It was too well hidden.  He made a note to transfer last month’s draw to his accounts at Obelisk Holdings.  Some details he did care about.”

Jessie: How did you feel when you finished writing your book? 

Jenn: Utterly exhausted.  I couldn’t even look at it for about two weeks!

Jessie: I think that it is normal to want a break from the book when it’s finished. Who would you like to read your book? 

Jenn:  I would like young women to read this book and know that they ARE good enough, that they can fight, and that they can WIN!

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my bag? 

Jenn: Once you start, it’s like Lays potato chips – you can’t put it down!  I’ve had people tell me they were reading it at stoplights.  Not the best idea, to my mind.  But if you have it with you, you can read a couple quick pages while waiting in line at the bank, or at the car wash, or on the train!

Jessie:  What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Jenn: “Move it, now!”

Jessie: What’s the biggest challenge as a writer?

Jenn: Finding, not only enough time, but enough emotional and mental space to write.

Jessie:  Do you dedicate your time to writing or do you have to juggle it with another career?

Jenn:  I have twin 5 year old boys . . . ’bout sums it up!

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have been given as a writer?

Jenn: Finish the darn book already!

More about Jenn…

I am an explorer and adventurer who does, at least, one scary thing a day. My scariest to date is probably worming my way up to meet John Grisham at Book Expo/Book Con after my book signing in June and giving him a signed copy of my book!

I love animals to a fault, if there is such a thing. I have nurtured lizards, newts, turtles, cats, rescue animals of every persuasion growing up, but then had two rescue pug dogs that I still consider my first set of twins.

I am a horrible cook. My favourite story is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for 20 where I bought most of the side dishes from a local food store.  Somehow, I couldn’t get even the side dishes warmed up satisfactorily in time so people were eating mashed potatoes that were cold at one end of the fork and warm at the other!  People were so kind, no one said a word until I sat down, started eating and started laughing at myself.  It turned into one of our best Thanksgivings ever!  I guess the take-away is “be thankful for your gifts and be thankful for the gifts of others!”

Best of luck to Jenn with her debut novel – ‘The TimeKeepers.  It is a fast-paced thriller: so, tighten your seatbelt, check your brakes and try not to skip a red light.  Prepare to plunge headlong into the depraved underbelly of Big Law and big money where greed is king, murder incidental, and winning is the only thing that matter.

 

Please see all of my interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

Helene’s fictional exploration into the human mind

Helene Leuschel

Helene Leuschel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helene grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh.  She has recently written a collection of novellas.

It was a pleasure to welcome Helene Leuschel to the Chat Room.  I collected her from Cardiff Airport and we could chat on the journey.  I instantly liked her and she was genuinely thrilled to be in Wales. Helene is bright and bubbly and it is obvious that she enjoys meeting people.

Once we arrived, Helene requested some green tea.  She had brought some delicious nutty biscuits from Belgium.   It was rather grey and cold outside, such a contrast to Helen’s home in Portugal.

Jessie:  Welcome to Wales.  Do you speak Portuguese?

Helene:  Olá. Yes.  I attended language classes as soon as I moved to Portugal.  I believe that languages are the door to the county where you live, it allows you to understand people’s customs and habits.  I love meeting people.

 Jessie:  I can imagine that you have met lots of people on your travel and through your profession.  Now, tell me about your book. 

Helene: ‘Manipulated Lives’ is a collection of five novellas, each different in perspective yet with the same core theme: psychological manipulation. From the octogenarian, an ageing mother, young professional to a vulnerable teenager and a manipulator himself, the stories develop the pitfalls that any individual can fall into when charmed and deceived by clever manipulators.

Jessie:  Why did you decide to select the theme of manipulation and what is the genre of your collection of novellas?

Helene: I heard of someone whose husband lied, cheated, deceived and manipulated not only his wife and children but every single person who ever crossed his path in an extremely clever manner. Family members and friends had made numerous attempts to ‘free’ her from her husband’s abusive control, but it took immense courage and determination to eventually follow it through. I realized that during much research and talking to psychologists that manipulators can invade a person’s life at any stage. The five stories, told from five different perspectives, were the result of that creative idea. Maybe my collection of novellas will provide support for someone suffering from manipulation in the future.

Jessie:  Your collection sounds intriguing and thought-provoking.  I like the idea of taking a theme and then presenting it from different perspectives.  It sounds like a unique read. How has the book been received? 

Helene opened her notebook and read from a collection of reviews.

‘The beauty of Leuschel’s collection of stories is how they highlight the way we, as humans, often blind ourselves to the truth which can make us both manipulators and victims. The stories are all character driven by realistic and flawed characters and this allows us to relate to the behaviour depicted no matter how extreme it may become.’ E.L. Lindley

‘This book is made up of a superb collection of 5 short novellas depicting manipulators and the manipulated, highlighting to what extent abusive manipulation can distort and threaten lives.’ Miriam Smith

‘All five of these stories are thought-provoking and emotional and it is clear that the author has well researched her subjects. There is a lot of in this book, but Leuschel gets the balance between information, education and entertainment spot on.’ Feminisia Libros Book Blog

Jessie: Read an extract to tempt a reader.

The moment I wake up, the dismay and desperation are back. I cannot understand why I am lying in this tiny room attached to an IV drip with only a glass of water as my companion.

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

When I finished writing my book, I felt excited as well as apprehensive all at once. It had been a long emotional journey. Thinking about the characters, I guess there is one who I missed the most. It is Molly, the teenager in my story ‘Runaway Girl’. She is still on my mind and the reason why I would like to write a follow up story.

Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why?  This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.  

Helene: I would like my former neighbour, an experienced clinical psychiatrist to read my book one day (when there is a translation into French available) because throughout her long career working as a private therapist and in prisons, she has witnessed the baffling power of denial time and again.

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?

Helene Leuschel

As much as the five novellas are linked by the same underlying theme, they are each a standalone story that can be enjoyed in one single sitting – during a commute, when waiting for an appointment or an hour before going to sleep.

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Helene: ‘It had felt right but not for long enough.’

Jessie:  Tell me a little more about this sentence.  Is this an insight into your next book?

Helene: Yes, I have finished with the first draft of my first novel and what felt right for the main character at the start of the story, doesn’t for very long …

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Helene: For me it was pressing the ‘publish’ button. I was exhilarated, worried and nervous all at the same time, so much so that I couldn’t sleep a wink the following night.

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

There is plenty of good advice around but the following work for me:

  1. Give yourself a daily target – 1000 words, 2000 or more, it doesn’t matter but make sure you sit down and reach the target. Be consistent, so turn off social media, switch off the phone, whatever it takes to remain undisturbed so you stay focused on filling the pages.
  2. When you are finished writing, start editing – be ruthless, don’t hold on to paragraphs that simply don’t sound right. Be brave, send your text to someone who you know is critical as well as fair. Lastly be truthful, write something you’d like to read not what you think could appeal to an audience. It won’t sound authentic.
  3. Don’t give up – feel the story come alive, the characters breathe as if they were real people and most of all enjoy the journey.

Helene lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind.  When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.  Her collection of stories sound intriguing and completely unique.  Helene has received high praise and support from her readers. I admire the fact that she had used fiction to explore a challenging theme.

Helene’s philosophy:

As much as I attempt to see the good and authentic before the ugly and corrupt, what tends to always convey peace and quiet for me is noticing the beauty of nature.

For more information about the author and her upcoming books, please visit

Website www.heleneleuschel.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/HALeuschel

Facebook www.facebook.com/HALeuschel

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15337013.H_A_Leuschel

 

 

Please see all my articles on my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Celebrating authors in Handbag Gallery and Chat Room

Last week, the Handbag Gallery was launched to celebrate authors and their work.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the authors for their overwhelming support.  It has been great to meet such a variety of wonderful authors.

The gallery displays authors’ books in their handbags/bags, and each photograph is linked to details about the author’s book.  It is an opportunity to celebrate all authors and to introduce them to readers and other authors.  Angela Petch also pointed out that ‘it was an excuse to buy a new handbag’.

I am delighted that twenty seven authors have sent me photographs of their books in their bags/handbags.  It is gratifying to receive comments from the authors. The amazing Ian Wilfred commented that ‘it was great fun to be part of BookInHandbag gallery’ and he supported the initiative throughout the launch week.  Many authors and readers said that they ‘loved the idea’ and it was ‘original’. For instance, Caz Greenham tweeted that ‘it was a great idea by Jessie’. Juliet Greenwood shouted ‘hurrah’ when her handbag was displayed.  Imogen Matthews declared that it was an ‘honour to be in such company.’

Viewing the gallery, it is clear to see the creativity informing the composition.  Some compositions suggest drama whereas others are more relaxed.  Rosanna Ley described her composition as ‘exotic’. Many authors take care to co-ordinate their handbag/bag with the front cover of their books.  Every single composition sets the scene and tells a story.  There are themes such as mystery, escapism, adventure and romance.  The images demonstrate the fact that authors are fun story-tellers who absolutely adore a creative challenge! To find out more, step inside the gallery.  You never know who you might meet in the Handbag Gallery

It would be an honour to showcase the novels of more authors.  I invite authors to email a photo of their book in their handbag/bag to jessiecahin@aol.co.uk if they want to be included in the Handbag Gallery.

What next for the jessiecahalin.com blog?

I have been building another room but no builders were required – great savings on the cost of tea and biscuits.

This week, I have been adding the final touches to the Author Chat Room with a picture gallery of My Guests.  I have already interviewed Elaine Jeremiah and am preparing for more authors.  My guest list includes: Angela Petch, Sue Moorcroft, Imogen Matthews, Emily Williams, Jan Ellis, Rosanna Ley, Diane Need, Helene Leuchel and Rosemary Dun.

I was delighted when Imogen Matthews tweeted that, ‘The Author Chat Room is such a great idea! @BooksInHandbag is going from strength to strength.’

This week, I chatted with Angela Petch in Italy as the Chat Room is still under construction.  It was warm out there but a cool glass of Prosecco helped, and we talked for a long time.  Angela is charming and the inspiration behind her story-telling is moving.

A celebrity author in my handbag

Carol Cooper

 

 

 

 

Carol Cooper is a doctor, journalist, and author who turned to fiction after writing a string of popular health books. Her second novel, Hampstead Fever, was chosen for a prestigious promotion in WH Smith travel bookshops. She lives in Hampstead and Cambridge, and has three grownup sons.

As Dr Cooper, Carol is a frequent face on Five News, Sky News and other TV channels, as well as on radio, where she often comments on a range of topical health matters. I was excited about meeting this celebrity author with such a wealth of experience.

Carol had been invited to speak at Cardiff University, and we managed to grab some time in Cardiff Bay to chat about her second novel.

I waited for her in my favourite coffee shop, Cadawaladers, in Cardiff Bay. Cadawaladers sits above the water, on a jetty, and is accessed via a small bridge. Carol hurried over the bridge and was wearing a red dress. She joined me at a table, located on the balcony, overlooking the water.  We ordered coffee and some muffins.  It was Graduation Day, in Cardiff, and a constant stream of chattering graduates walked past. We took our time to absorb the vibrant atmosphere before beginning the chat about Carol’s new book.

Jessie:  Can you capture the essence of your new novel, Hampstead Fever, in a couple of sentences?

Instantly, she retrieved a copy of her novel from her large blue handbag. 

Carol:  Hampstead Fever is about six Londoners grappling with life’s problems in the sweltering summer of 2013. Emotions are already at boiling point when a mysterious actress arrives on the scene, upsetting those around her and forcing decisions they may later regret.

Jessie:  It sound like another great read.  Read me an extract that will tempt the reader.

Carol flicked through the book and winked as she restrained a mischievous grin.

Carol: “What are you going to do about this?” complained Geoff.

“Do about what?” said Daisy, even though it must have been blindingly obvious.

He threw the sheet back dramatically, hoping to amuse her. “This.”

Carol’s fun manner is infectious.  It was clear that the women on the neighbouring table were straining to catch a glance of the new novel. Carol left the book peeking out of her blue bag, and it was impossible to miss the tempting front cover.  One of the ladies searched for the book on her phone.  

Jessie:  Your first novel, One Night at the Jacaranda received high praise.  What have the reviewers said about Hampstead Fever?

Mischief lit up Carol’s face again as she read out a review so that the ladies could hear.

Carol:  I’ve had some great reviews for Hampstead Fever, but these three are my favourites so far:

“Wow! With its racy storylines, dovetailing plots, fascinating characters and a well-known but equally interesting setting, Hampstead Fever is one of those books you just can’t put down.”

“Fast-paced and sharply observed. I whipped through this in one sitting!”

“Cooper just makes these characters come alive. Why can’t all love stories be like this?”

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Carol: My characters have become very special to me, even the less likeable ones, so I did miss them when I stopped writing. There are six main characters in Hampstead Fever, and I’d like to spend more time with some of them, so I’ll be taking them into another book to have new adventures.

Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why?  This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.  

Carol: As I’m sure most authors say, it would just be nice if lots of people read and enjoyed my novel. Having said that, I’d quite like my English teacher from school to see it as I think she’d be proud of me (and hopefully not too shocked by the racier passages).

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?

Carol: While Hampstead Fever has some important themes like parental anxiety, ageing relatives, and sick children, it’s also an easy and entertaining read with fairly short chapters. That makes it a good book to pick up while you’re waiting, or whenever you find you have a moment to read.

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Carol: It’s for the novel I’m currently writing. The story is set in Egypt, where I grew up, and many scenes are from a child’s viewpoint.

‘Tante Zahra was famed throughout Alexandria for her burping, a habit she blamed on swallowing air with her meals. She wore a towelling turban to hide the fact that she was too old to have any hair left.’

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Carol: I think it’s making your work visible. You could write the most wonderful book ever, but nobody will buy it if they don’t know it exists. There are over two million new books published every year, nearly 200,000 of them in the UK. So, even with the backing of a big publisher, most authors have to work very hard (and need a bit of luck) to get their book noticed.

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

The best advice I ever had is to keep my writing simple. When writers start out, they often use flowery words, and far more of them than they need. As Somerset Maugham put it, “The best style is the style you don’t notice.”

Carol’s links

Blog Pills & Pillow-Talk

Twitter @DrCarolCooper

Facebook author page Carol Cooper’s London Novels

Website drcarolcooper.com

Instagram drcarolcooper

Pinterest drcarolcooper

 

Please see all my interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Peeking Inside the Book Blogger’s Bag

Dr Carol Cooper has interviewed me about blogging and writing. it was fun to be answering someone else’s questions for once. Read it here at:

Peeking Inside the Book Blogger’s Bag

 

 

I have sent this out again as the ‘re-blogging’ function didn’t work properly.

 

‘I’m a Celebrity…’ producer for my designer handbag

Lisa Mary London

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Lisa Mary London, former producer of ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ together with famous Maltipoo pooch Baby-Girl, the canine star of her hilariously witty debut novel Reality Rehab.

My exclusive interview with them is tongue-in-cheek, but Lisa’s answers are honest, fun, fascinating, and at times, gob-smacking. Enjoy!

It was a crisp winter’s morning in upmarket Highgate, North London, as I waited to meet Lisa and Baby-Girl, the world’s first four-legged reality TV star. Word must have hit social media about Baby-Girl’s imminent arrival, as a crowd of eager paw-tograph hunters had gathered – Reality Rehab fans, desperate for a selfie with mutt-of-the-moment.

I checked my phone for messages, then in the distance saw the candy pink stretch limousine approaching. The crowd surged forward as it drew up outside the Village Bistro.  The lady chauffeur, resplendent in a pink uniform that matched the vehicle, shot out to release the door, before Lisa and her famous furry friend Baby-Girl emerged, both wearing designer sunglasses.  My vision was blurred by the snapping of cameras as excited fans strained to catch a glimpse of the cuddly canine star of Reality Rehab.

London’s swanky Highgate is home to A-list celebrities including Kate Moss, Sting, Harry Styles and Reality Rehab’s heroine, soap star Gloria Grayson.  Gloria had generously loaned her beloved pet to Lisa for the day, for our exclusive interview.

Lisa and I escaped the crowd and headed to Highgate’s boutique shops for some retail therapy. Lisa explained that as a celebrity dog, Baby-Girl never walks anywhere. When a human isn’t carrying her, she travels in Gloria’s chauffeur driven pink limo, otherwise known as The Poochmobile.  

Lisa remarked with a wry smile:  “Baby-Girl has legs, but she doesn’t like to use them!”

We popped into one Baby’s favourite pet boutiques, ‘Pooches With Panache’, and listened for her barks of approval as Lisa made various pink purchases. We chatted as if we’d known each other for years. Dressed in a vintage leopard print coat with a fabulous Chanel handbag, Lisa is fun, witty and charming and I was looking forward to our interview.

We bought lunch from a classy deli, (needless to say, Baby-Girl only ever eats human food), and returned to The Poochmobile. The three of us settled on the spacious leather seat and the chauffeur popped in to pour champagne for the ladies, and a bowl of Evian for Baby-Girl. Lisa adjusted the pink bow in Baby’s hair and we started to chat.

Jessie:  Lisa, let’s talk about your book before we eat.  Capture the essence of Reality Rehab in a couple of sentences.

Lisa:  Reality Rehab is a topical laugh-out-loud satire on the cult of modern celebrity, written by myself, a former TV producer on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

A cast of hilarious characters, cliffhangers galore, and an authentic voice that could only come from a TV insider, Reality Rehab is a must-read novel!

Jessie:  The book sounds great fun and is already getting national media attention. What have reviewers said about Reality Rehab?

At the mention of the book title, Baby-Girl threw her head back and howled, jumped off the seat and retrieved a copy of Reality Rehab from Lisa’s handbag. Lisa laughed and took the book from Baby’s mouth – discreetly wiping down the pink cover with a pink handkerchief.

Lisa:  First, here’s an extract from Chapter Two. Gloria and her agent Belinda arrive at a TV station for a meeting with producers about the hit TV show Reality Rehab, and they step into the lift together

I sneaked a sidelong glance at my esteemed agent. She was 70 if she was a day, pumped to the gills with fillers and on her fifteenth facelift – one more procedure and she’d be facing the other way.

Lisa: I’ve been overwhelmed with the response from readers, they are loving the book’s humour and enjoying a revealing peek behind-the-scenes of reality TV! Here are a few of the rave reviews:

“A sharp and skilfully observed satire that lampoons celebrity culture. The author has worked in TV and is clearly writing about what she knows, with authenticity dripping from each very turn-able page. Enjoy!” Ben Ando – BBC News Correspondent and Author

“Even if you have never seen reality TV, you will be tickled by Lisa Mary London’s hilarious novel. Get ready to read it and weep with laughter. A great pick-me-up… a Bloody Mary of cheerful reads!” Deborah Lawrenson – Bestselling Author

“A book that will lift your spirits, bring a tear to your eye and make you belly-laugh when you least expect it. But don’t be fooled by the frivolity, behind the humour there are some very meaningful themes, moving ideas and wonderful wisdom!” Howard Brenner – Amazon Reviewer

Jessie:  How did you feel when you had finished writing your book and did you miss any of the characters?

Lisa:  I couldn’t quite believe I had actually completed a novel, after endless months of writing, proofing, polishing and editing those 86,000 words. When the initial euphoria wore off, I suffered a crisis of confidence – as most writers do – scared that no one out there would want to read it! To my great relief that fear wasn’t realised, and the book is getting rave reviews!

Reality Rehab’s protagonist, feisty former soap siren Gloria Grayson, has a special place in my heart. I based her on the glamorous actresses I looked up to as a child – sassy stars like Diana Dors, Elizabeth Taylor and Pat Phoenix. Women not girls, who dust themselves down and get back in the race, no matter what knocks and shocks life throws at them. Reality Rehab is Gloria’s story, and as I held her hand throughout her many triumphs and disasters, I must admit I was sad to let go after typing The End!

Gloria’s pooch Baby-Girl is one character I didn’t have to say goodbye to, because thankfully she often keeps me company when I write! Baby-Girl would sell her soul for a sausage and when not eating everything in sight, can usually be found fast asleep beside me, gently rumbling from both ends.

Jessie:  Who would you like to read your book and why? This could be another friend, someone famous, a friend or member of your family.

Lisa: Without doubt Victoria Wood, who I was so lucky to call a friend for many years. I met her as a teenager through my love of comedy writing, and she was a friend, supporter and confidante for nearly three decades.

Vic read an early draft of Reality Rehab, and loved it.  She said the synopsis was ‘hilarious and exciting’, and enthused that if she read that blurb on the back of a book jacket in WH Smith’s, she would buy it. She described Reality Rehab as ‘…really clever and very ‘now’’, said it deserved to be a hit and could translate well as a TV comedy drama. She was of course a brilliant writer and I like to think, in some small way, her influence and guidance over the years rubbed off on my writing. She generously gave me invaluable pointers which improved the structure and flow of the Reality Rehab plot.

Her death last year at just 62 was a devastating blow. She was immensely wise as well as witty, and a wonderful friend.  I was so excited about giving her a copy of my finished book, and I’m desperately sad that she will never read it. Reality Rehab is dedicated to her.

Over the years Vic and I enjoyed many laughs over a cuppa or a glass of wine, and I know my debut novel would have made her chuckle. I’m hugely thankful for the time we shared. And I hope her comments about the book working on the small screen as a comedy drama could one day come to pass. Who knows? Truth is stranger than fiction.

Jessie:  How incredible to receive such an accolade from a British comedy icon. It is such a shame she never got to read your published book. Why should I keep Reality Rehab in my handbag?

Lisa:  Reality Rehab is that fabulous, funny friend you can always rely on to cheer you up when a red electricity bill’s popped through the door, you’ve broken a fingernail or the dog has weed on your new sofa. Carry a copy of Reality Rehab in your handbag, and you’re never stuck for wonderful company that will put a smile on your face, a spring in your step, and bring the feelgood factor to your world!

Jessie:  I am keen to know if you are writing at present?  What’s the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Lisa:  I’m currently working on the sequel to Reality Rehab, and the last sentence in my notebook reads: Get tea bags and sausages! I was running low on both items and had to re-stock as priority – I can’t write a stroke without the company of endless mugs of PG Tips and a well-fed pooch!

Jessie:  What’s the biggest challenge for an author?

Lisa:  Staying off social media – the call of Twitter and Facebook is strong and if you’re too quick to answer it, a five minute browse can easily become several hours of lost writing time!

Jessie:  What’s the best advice you’ve received as a writer?

Lisa:  Be a ruthless editor! The best writers delete as much text as they keep, are their own toughest critic, and are never totally content with their work.  A bit of self-doubt is a healthy thing!

I’ve been privileged to come into contact with some exceptionally talented people in my life, and this rule of thumb applies to all of them. They are hard-working perfectionists to a man – and woman – with no concept of complacency. If a writer is smug and thinks they’re the bees knees, chances are their books will tell a different story!

Baby-Girl started to urgently nudge Lisa’s arm with her nose, fixing her with pleading eyes.

Lisa:  She’s telling me she wants her posh deli sausages, Gloria always feeds her about now. In fact Gloria always feeds her – at all hours of the day!

Baby-Girl devoured her bowl of bespoke bangers and we unpacked our deli delights and shared a glamorous limousine lunch, as befits the hot new celebrity satire everyone’s talking about, Reality Rehab!

It was fabulous to meet Lisa Mary London, she is such a unique character.  I know that her wonderful wit and skilled comedy writing will make Reality Rehab a winner.  I look forward to seeing Baby-Girl’s next appearance on a reality TV show. Who knows, maybe there will be a spin-off series – ‘I’m a Celebrity Dog… Get Me Out of Here!’

I will let Lisa have the final word about herself!

Lisa Mary London is… A total one-off
Lisa Mary London is… A fabulous friend!
Lisa Mary London is… A fearsome foe!

Lisa Mary London went from Chief Reporter on a sleepy Cotswold newspaper to become Celebrity Producer on some of Britain’s best-loved TV shows.  Her TV credits include An Audience with Ken Dodd, A BAFTA Tribute to Julie Walters, The British Comedy Awards and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! She’s worked with stars from Sir Billy Connolly to Ant and Dec, and her debut novel Reality Rehab features around 200 famous names.

‘There’s never a dull moment when you’re working with the stars’, says Lisa. ‘One minute you’re sipping champagne with Pierce Brosnan, the next you’re standing in the Ladies’ minding Barbara Windsor’s handbag.’

Reality Rehab is based on her real life, behind-the-screen experiences as a Celebrity Producer. ‘I’ve met many old school stars like my book’s protagonist Gloria Grayson, who curse reality TV and think the cast of TOWIE should be stacking shelves at Tesco, not walking the red carpet.

‘She’s a cross between Diana Dors, Boadicea and Miss Piggy, a glorious, garrulous anti-heroine with bags of attitude – Gloria puts the real in reality TV!’

A journalist by profession, Lisa has written for the Daily Mail and was briefly a News of the World reporter, but made her excuses and left before anyone was imprisoned for phone hacking.

Gloria Grayson’s petulant pooch Baby-Girl is closely based on the book’s cover star, Lisa’s beloved Maltese Dolly-Dog (says Lisa – ‘You couldn’t make her up’).  Dolly-Dog won fame on ITV’s Loose Women when she married Sherrie Hewson’s Westie Charlie, in a ceremony officiated by John Barrowman (available on YouTube).  The couple split acrimoniously and are currently fighting for custody of a chew toy.

 

 

Please see all my interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

A big Yeehaw from the would-be cowgirl author!

Lottie Phillips 

 

 

 

The Little Cottage in the Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

During my holiday in Sussex, I managed to meet up with Lottie to discuss her delicious new book, The Little Cottage in the Country.  Lottie cycled out to the holiday cottage on a vintage red bicycle.   I had spent the morning setting up a temporary Books in Handbag Chat Room.  Lottie arrived on a gloriously sunny day wearing cropped jeans, a Gingham shirt and cowboy boots. Her beautiful book was peeking out of a fabulous leopard print handbag.  As soon as I opened the door, I was greeted with Lottie’s big smile.  She removed a tempting parcel of pastries that she had bought from the local bakers in the village.

The intense summer sun sent us inside the cottage. We drank a beautiful blend of coffee, as we savoured the freshly baked cakes.  Eating the cakes delayed our conversation a little.  The plump dried fruit enhanced the sweetness of the pastry and the oozing custard was divine.  Lottie walked around the holiday cottage and admired each detail.  The space, in the tiny holiday cottage, had been designed thoughtfully to create a sense of home.

Lottie handed her beautiful book to me, and we noted how the colours of the cover blended perfectly with the room. The book could have been photographed, in situ, as part of a magazine feature.

Jessie:  The book cover looks more delicious than the cakes that we have just eaten.  Please tell me what the book is about.  I challenge you capture the flavour of the book in a few sentences.

Lottie: Anna Compton thought that moving to the countryside, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution.

But very soon she’s chasing pork pies down hills, disguising her shop-bought cakes at the school bake sale – and trying to resist oh-so-handsome Horatio Spencerville, who just so happens to be the Lord of the Manor…

Jessie:  Well, the book sounds like the perfect escape for me.  What have other reviewers said about the book?

Lottie:

‘It’s funny, witty and well -paced book that I highly recommend you to select as your summer holiday read! Fabulous debut!’ (Sparkly Word)

‘Highly recommended as the perfect summer read and I guarantee it will have you chuckling in no time!!’ (Karen Mace, Amazon Reviewer)

‘Loved it. I laughed my way through it!’ (Donna Orrock, NetGalley reviewer)

Jessie:  The reviews sound brilliant.  I’ll open a bottle of wine so that we can toast your success. Come on, read me an extract from the book that will tempt a reader.  Lottie’s eyes sparkled with mischief as she started to read the extract.

Lottie: ‘The conversation with Diane did not go according to plan: somehow (and Anna blamed the one bar of signal and not the fact she had polished off most of the Merlot).

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Lottie: I was bereft! I missed Anna, Linda and Diane more than words can say! They were incredible fun to write and had taken on a life of their own. In fact, between you and me, they’re still here * taps head * so watch this space.

Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why?  This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family. 

Lottie: Anyone who needs a giggle and a feel-good book! Though if someone is able to put a copy in front of Graham Norton or Miranda Hart then my dreams would come true…

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag? 

Lottie Phillips

Lottie: I’ve had people tell me this book should be available on the NHS. If you are ever feeling a bit down, in need of a pick-me-up, reading even a paragraph of this book should hopefully put the spring back in your step. Call it a handbag-sized natural remedy… And who doesn’t love to read about a hunky Poldark fellow like Horatio?

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Lottie: It’s about the novel I’m currently writing and it reads: Tom, Hawaiian shirt, good-looking, makes dinner, OTT

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Lottie: Oh, tough one. I would say the biggest challenge is self-discipline… Twitter is fantastic as I can chat to my readers but, equally, it is amazing how much time I can waste posting GIFs…

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

Lottie: I’ve had so much advice from so many wonderful people but the best piece is this: don’t ever stop writing (and reading), practice really does make perfect.

Lottie is….

…a rubbish baker but still harks after the cosy kitchen scenario where she expertly shows her child how to make the perfect cupcakes (with no mess and not one bead of sweat in sight)…

…obsessed with interior décor…

…in love with Country and Western music and wine (preferably together). One day she will go to Nashville, wear suitable cowgirl attire, swig beer with a sexy nonchalance and be an expert in line dancing (obvs).

Lottie stayed chatting into the evening.  It was a great treat to find someone who also admitted that they enjoyed County and Western music.  We sat in the garden listening to various tracks on my iPlayer as we finished a couple bottles of wine.  Lottie is great fun and that bodes well for any reader of her new novel The Little Cottage in the Country. Who doesn’t want to live in a Little Country Cottage?

 

 

Please see all my author interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.