Monday, 19 February 2018

AUTHOR INTERVIEW | 5 Minutes With... Louise Walters

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am delighted to be sharing with you guys another author interview, this time with author Louise Walters, who is the author of three books. Her themes tend to be family, relationships, friendships, memories, regret and redemption. Not only is Louise an avid reader and writer, but she even has her own publishing imprint, where she aims to publish the very best in literary and commercial fiction. 

Louise's latest novel, The Road to California, is an achingly emotional book about a mother and son's relationship, and the various problems and difficulties that come in between. Check out the blurb here...

Proud single parent Joanna is accustomed to school phoning to tell her that her fourteen year old son Ryan is in trouble. But when Ryan hits a girl and is excluded from school, Joanna knows she must take drastic action to help him. Ryan's dad Lex left home when Ryan was two years old. Ryan doesn t remember him - but more than anything he wants a dad in his life. Isolated, a loner, and angry, Ryan finds solace in books and wildlife. Joanna, against all her instincts, invites Lex to return and help their son. But Lex is a drifter who runs from commitment, and both Joanna and Ryan find their mutual trust and love is put to the test when Lex returns, and vows to be part of the family again.

And today I am lucky enough to have Louise on my blog, where we will be chatting about The Road to California, the long writing process that accompanied it, and what book she was facinated by as a child...

What is the inspiration behind The Road to California?

It’s the first novel I attempted to write, over ten years ago, and much of it was based on my life at that time.

Tell us a bit more about Joanna. Do you have anything in common with her?

She is a much more attractive and assertive version of me! I love sewing and I home educate some of my children, so we do have a few things in common.

What made you want to write about parenthood and the various problems that family life can throw up?

It was my first novel and “write what you know” is the standard advice. I’ve now written three novels, and parenthood, family life and relationships of all kinds do seem to be my natural subject matter.

Do you normally come up with plot or characters first?

The characters tend to come first and I think about them for quite a long time, trying to get to know them, and from there I work out the kinds of things they might get up to.

What was the writing process like for The Road to California?

Long! I abandoned it for a few years in favour of my second novel (Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase) and again for my third novel (A Life Between Us). I also tried to change the story dramatically but I couldn’t do it. My original story and characters seemed to insist on staying put and being written.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I read lots of books growing up, so I have several favourites. I do re-read a book called Come Back, Lucy by Pamela Sykes as it fascinated me as a child, and it still does.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read more than you write. It serves me well, and I still regard myself as a reader first, writer second.

Sum up The Road to California in three words…

Sad, simple, and hopeful.

Thank you so much for appearing on my blog, Louise!

Buy The Road to California here:

Check out Louise Walters here:

Until next time :) 

Monday, 5 February 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'The Last Days of Archie Maxwell' by Annabel Pitcher (****)

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am delighted to be posting another book review, for a novella I read before Christmas - from the wonderful Annabel Pitcher, who you might know wrote Ketchup Clouds and Silence is Goldfish. The Last Days of Archie Maxwell is another brilliant Barrington Stoke publication - and again I have to applaud the gorgeous, clear font, the quality of the pages and the cover art. If you haven't already picked up a Barrington Stoke book yet, I'd highly recommend doing so <3

The Last Days of Archie Maxwell is a brilliantly written, heart-wrenching novel all about modern family life, being a teenager and all the confusion and complications this brings up. When Archie's Dad leaves, he doesn't think life can get any harder. But when a massive secret is discovered that threatens to break up Archie's family for good, Archie doesn't know what the future holds anymore. Will Archie be able to find his own truth, and will he be able to live with it?

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Full of love, humour and heartbreak, this beautifully crafted YA novella from the multi-award-winning author of Ketchup Clouds and My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is a compassionate and distinctive tale of modern family life and its issues.

When Archie’s dad leaves, it throws his life into turmoil. He discovers there’s been a secret at the heart of his cosy family life – and he can’t accept the truth of that secret, however hard he tries. So, Archie heeds the siren call of the trains that run past the end of his garden. But when he finds himself at the track, he realises that the trains have been calling to someone else too. Someone Archie knows very well indeed. This is the story of what happens when they meet.

Right from the first page I fell hopelessly in love with this story. The writing was so effortlessly beautiful but also searingly honest. Archie is a brilliant character and everything about him was so realistic as to what goes through the mind of a teenager at a really crucial point in their life. 

The story itself was perfectly plotted and really suited the length of a novella. I felt totally satisfied with how the story was structured and this was the perfect book to snuggle up with in bed and devour in one evening. There were plenty of twists that kept me on edge and the story was emotional yet realistic in equal measures.

Another brilliant part of The Last Days of Archie Maxwell is the way that Pitcher deals with numerous important issues in such a sensitive but also honest way. Family relationships, sexuality, bullying and suicide are all carefully and intricately explored in the novella, and Pitcher really reveals the honest truth of these issues, and the various ways in which people can respond to them. For me, the message at the heart of the novel is the unquestionable importance of kindness, and acceptance is embroiled in this idea of kindness in the story. 

The Last Days of Archie Maxwell is a hugely important story for teenagers and adults alike, and can definitely be dubbed as essential reading. If you haven't discovered Annabel Pitcher's writing already, I would highly recommend that you do so - her voice is an exquisite and significant star in the incredible galaxy which is the YA universe!

Check out Annabel Pitcher here:

Until next time :)