Blog Tour: Winter Downs by Jan Edwards @Jancoledwards

Novelgossip


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK
Release date: June 3, 2017

Publisher: Penkhull Press

Blurb:

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.


Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?


Winter Downs is first in the Bunch Courtney Investigates series.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Winter Downs. I have a Q and A with the author to share today.


Q&A

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

I don’t have a…

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Winter Downs Blog Tour day 5 Sam’s Lair

Interesting insight into the dark side of rural Sussex.

Jan Edwards

Today I have a guest blog with Sam Stone on the Sam’s Lair page.

“Winter Downs grew out of a deep affection for the South Downs, and of Sussex in particular. My parents were from Wales and Northumberland but Sussex was the area that I grew up in, on the cusp between the Sussex Weald and the Downs themselves. Perhaps the very fact that I was something of an outsider in a close knit community allowed me to view the place and the people with a dispassionate eye; even though I may not have realised it at the time.”

Read more at Sam’s Lair

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Bath-Time.

The Odd Sock Diary (and Other Stories)

Half term has come and gone. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve just about survived, and am now counting the minutes until they go back to school. I’ve never felt that way about the holidays, and after twenty years as a parent, I feel that way even less. You see, I now know from experience that one day your children grow up and fly the nest, and then you don’t get to see them for weeks and weeks at a time. And then you miss them like hell. That, without doubt, has been the hardest part of parenting for me.

After a couple of days away from home I’m usually good and ready to come back to my gingerbread-latte cottage on the edge of the woods (this is no word of a lie – my house really is just five minutes walk away from the enchanted woods at Bradwell…

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Winter Downs: Interview with Jan Edwards

Jenny Barber

Winter Downs Jan Edwards front coverAnnnnnd, welcome to the next stop in the Winter Downs Blog Tour, celebrating the launch of the ever excellent Jan Edwards’ new book – Winter Downs – a thrilling ride of 1940’s crime fic starring the kick ass Bunch Courtney.   I interrogated Jan to find out more…

Winter Downs is the first in your Bunch Courtney Investigates series – who is Bunch and what can we expect from future books in the series?

Bunch Courtney is a well connected young woman who is set adrift  by the changes that the coming of war has imposed on her, and knows that the life she was brought up to lead will never return. When she stumbles on a murder she discovers a talent and taste for sleuthing as she interacts with the local police force; and with Chief Inspector Wright in particular.

Bunch Courtney Investigates is an open ended series with…

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It’s not Rocket Science

Delicious recipe just right for our asparagus season. Thanks Barry.

Being Britalian

I was watching a British chef on television this week enthusing about risotto; in fact he was making so much noise about it’s preparation that you’d think he was solving complex equations rather than making a simple Italian rice dish. I turned off the TV and went shopping for some ingredients to make my own and so here’s my recipe for pancetta and asparagus risotto with none of the bells and whistles. For this recipe which serves 4 people, you’ll need:

1 red onion. 500g Arborio rice*. 500g asparagus. 100g soft cheese. 100g cubed pancetta. 400 ml vegetable stock and 2 garlic cloves. You’ll need salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon to season. A glass of white wine and my special asparagus stock.

To make my asparagus stock for extra flavour, Snap off the bottom inch or so of the asparagus using your fingers; the stems…

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My Working Day: Lynn Smith

My guest writer today is Lynn Smith. As always it is fascinating to learn how other people work.

Lynn's photo

I’ve done my usual five-minute browse of the world beyond the window. Nothing exciting to report. Dull sky, noisy crow on next-door’s roof, but no real diversions.  A promising day. I’m in my writing space, small, but big enough. It has all I need, laptop, notebooks, pens and an array of non-essentials.  It’s here, among the clutter, that I try to bring life to an imaginary world.

Creativity involves thinking before doing.  My characters are often born in those mundane moments of domestic boredom, when it’s possible to allow the creative part of the mind to wander and let the practical one get on with chores.  Mine wandered so much one Christmas that the preparation of dinner produced a thousand-word story which featured my grandchildren and a sprout called Cyril.  Can it ever be a waste to wander?

But at times there are static pauses devoid of any kind of creativity.  That has been my problem recently.  Like neglected puppets thrown to the back of an under-stairs cupboard, two of my favourite characters are now still and silent.  The truth is that I have become so detached from them that I’ve been tempted to just leave them in that cupboard.

I want to get back to serious writing.  Enough of diversions and distractions, I need motivation and inspiration.  I find these in music and poetry and in quotes where someone else’s experience and wisdom can clear the fog.  So, ignoring my usual weaknesses, Twitter, Facebook and emails, I opt for Brainy Quotes.  Coffee and croissants at hand and feeling optimistic, I am, hopefully, absorbing the insight of the gifted.

Ernest Hemmingway said that, “When writing a novel, a writer should create living people; people not characters.  A character is a caricature.”

Sounds like my problem.  I’ve forgotten who and what my characters are. They are certainly not living right now.  It’s depressing to recognise that I’ve failed them, but it happens.  I’m annoyed and frustrated.  Too eager to get to the last full stop, I cut corners.  That doesn’t ever work.  I know that and yet, for a while, I indulged in idle writing, assuming that it would turn out ok.  It didn’t.  I have no excuses.  So, life got busy, disorganised.  Happens to everyone.

I need to revive my characters.  I need them to be Evie and Harry again.

Time to go back, to read about them, not as a writer looking for errors or faults, but as a reader looking for a connection.

More coffee, a comfortable chair and a browse through the draft. There are chapters that catch the essence of both the story and the characters.  The Talk in the Park is one of them.  I’ll start with that.

They are sitting on cold metal chairs outside a small café overlooking the lake.  It’s a chilly autumn morning.   Evie is cold.  Harry is ordering hot chocolate. It’s a simple, but vivid scene and within the first few words, I am part of it.  At the point where Harry notices Evie’s tears fall into her hot chocolate, I am feeling.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader….”   Robert Frost.

I’m making shambolic notes now. Thoughts and ideas coming fast and it’s exciting to feel this enthusiastic again.

Notes:   little things make the biggest impact.  Need to be in the room, not looking through the window.  Harry needs a scarf – don’t know why yet, just know he needs a scarf.

Another two chapters and I’m feeling more optimistic.  I do know these two.

I know that Harry makes Evie happy, but I don’t know what makes her dance around the kitchen when no-one is there.  He is her rock and even rocks must crumble at times but I don’t feel it, so he doesn’t show it.

Notes:  characters hesitant and fragile.  No confidence in the writing – no pleasure in the reading.  Too black and white, no shades. Too many spaces, too little emotion.  No fun. But I can fix this.  We need a party.

Hans Christian Anderson: “Where words fail, music speaks.”

So, lunch, a thirty-minute break with iTunes and playlist one, then time to let Evie and Harry out of the cupboard.

The best thing about imagination is that anything can happen when your eyes are closed.

Evie would have been a wild child, given half a chance.  Harry is Harry and always has been.  Solid, dependable, a perfect foil for Evie.  She’s dressed, sixties style and Shakin’ all Over with Johny Kid and the Pirates. He’s still in 2017 and he’s donned jeans and trainers to fit in, although, given half a chance, he’d be Leaving on a Jet Plane with John Denver. Evie’s having a ball and he’s watching, tapping his feet and despite feeling out of place, enjoying her enjoyment.

These people…people now…not characters, are living in the moment. Me too.  I can’t keep up with them, my pen is on fire and so am I.

Note:  Why the scarf?  A whole chapter taking shape.

When the dance hall in my brain closes, I’ll head for the keyboard and hit it – hard!   I think I may be back on track.  Perfect day.