Gemma Metcalfe lives in Tenerife, Spain with her husband and two fur-babies Dora and Diego. Besides being a writer she also teaches part-time! She also enjoys reading, eating and drinking wine! Her second novel A Mother’s Sacrifice was published yesterday, and today I am talking with her!
Gemma’s newest release:
Publication Date: March 9, 2018
God ensured she crossed my path. And that is why I chose her.
The day Louisa and James bring their newborn son home from the hospital marks a new beginning for all of them. To hold their child in their arms, makes all the stress and trauma of fertility treatment worth it. Little Cory is theirs and theirs alone. Or so they think…
After her mother’s suicide when she was a child, Louisa’s life took an even darker turn. But meeting James changed everything. She can trust him to protect her, and to never leave her. Even if deep down, she worries that she has never told him the full truth about her past, or the truth about their baby.
But someone knows all her secrets – and that person is watching and waiting, with a twisted game that will try to take everything Louisa holds dear.
Gemma’s debut novel:
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
One phone call. Two lives. Their darkest secrets.
Lana needs to sell a holiday, fast. Stuck in Tenerife, in a dead end job, she never expected a response quite like Liam’s. Thousands of miles away a phone rings. Liam never intended to pick up, he’s too busy choosing the quickest way to die. But at least someone should know the truth before he goes, even if that someone is a stranger. As time runs out both are drawn to the other, expressing thoughts they never imagined they would share. When you’re about to die will your secrets even matter?
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 32 years old and married. I’m originally from Manchester UK but now live in Tenerife with my husband and two fluffy hooligans Dora and Diego. I’m a writer and a part-time primary school teacher. I love reading, eating and drinking wine!
JRR: I also have two fur-babies: Sage and Curry! Mine are cats and almost three years old. Fur-babies are wonderful. Did you always want to become an author?
Yes! I never really believed it was possible though to be honest. It wasn’t until I started to hear about self-publishing that I thought I could give it a try. Luckily I was offered a contract with HarperCollins pretty quickly so didn’t need the self publishing route.
JRR: You were lucky to get picked up by HarperCollins, great job! What inspires you to write? Why do you write in the thriller genre? Do you get surprised with the twists or do you know what it will be from the beginning? How do the ideas come to you?
I write psychological thrillers because I’m interested in the mind and how it works. I’m also a huge fan of twists and double meanings. Its what interests me and I think you should always write what you’d like to read. The twists in both my books have come to me early on. In a way I think they have made the book for me. They have brought it from being just an idea to a story which I know has legs.
JRR: I really need to get to your novels. I love a great thriller! (As long as I don’t figure out the twist.) What does your writing process consist of? Do you research/outline, handwriting vs typing, music or no music?
It starts with a seed of an idea. The two novels I’ve written so far (Trust Me and A Mother’s Sacrifice) both started with a basic concept and a twist ending. From that I developed the story. I only do research when I need to, always type and need to work in silence.
JRR: What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?
Write what you love. Read the genre you are writing. Write the book you want to read. Take critique. Never give in.
JRR: Great advice! Were you a reader growing up? If so, who was your favorite author (or books) as a child?
Yes, I’ve always loved to read. I started with Enid Blyton but by 12 years old I was reading Martina Cole.
JRR: Who is your favorite author (or books) as an adult?
I don’t really have a favourite. I love so many different books. My favourite book is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes which is odd as that isn’t a thriller and mainly I read thrillers. I love Kimberly Chambers for crime and BA Paris and Mark Edwards for thrillers.
JRR: I also enjoyed Me Before You. I have really enjoyed BA Paris’s first two novels and I look forward to her third which comes out in the US in June.Now, which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
I read alot so I don’t think there’s any. However I do have a stack of books on my TBR pile.
JRR: Who doesn’t have that huge TBR? I have so many it isn’t funny! (Yet I keep acquiring books….) So what is the best advice you have ever received?
I guess it was just to be yourself and have faith in your own writer’s voice.
JRR: What can you tell us about your debut novel Trust Me? Where did you get the idea for it and what made you decide to get it published? How has your life changed since publication?
Trust Me will always be my baby. It’s set between Tenerife and Manchester and revolves around a phone call between two strangers Lana and Liam. Lana is working in a back street callcentre and is carrying a big secret around with her. Liam is at home in Manchester and moments away from taking his own life. The two connect by chance and as their stories unfold, secrets and lies begin to unravel. It’s a thriller but also it has character and relationship at its heart. There is a huge twist at the end too.
The idea for Trust Me came from my own experiences of working in a callcentre.
My life hasn’t changed too much. I only teach part-time now but apart from that everything is the same.
JRR: I used to work in a call center and it is a difficult job. I must read Trust Me now! Your second novel A Mother’s Sacrifice came out yesterday. What would you like to tell us about it?
A Mother’s Sacrifice is very close to my heart as it deals with issues such as infertility and anxiety, both of which are personal to me. It’s another twisty thriller, very psychological in nature, but hopefully you will once again see the heart of the characters and relate to them.
JRR: Sounds good. Hopefully it will do well! Is there anything else you would like to share?
I’m also working on a thriller with another author which we hope to release at the end of this year!
JRR: Great! I can not wait to find out more about that one!
**Thank you so much for your time with this interview Gemma!
Vivien Brown lives in West London with her husband and two cats. She worked for many years in banking and accountancy, and then, after the birth of twin daughters, made a career switch and started working with young children, originally as a childminder but later in libraries and children’s centres, promoting the joys of reading and sharing books through storytimes and book-based activities and training sessions. She has written many short stories for the women’s magazine market and a range of professional articles and book reviews for the nursery and childcare press, in addition to a ‘how to’ book based on her love of solving cryptic crosswords. Now a full time writer, working from home, Vivien is combining novel-writing and her continuing career in magazine short stories with her latest and most rewarding role as doting grandmother to two-year old Penny.
Vivien’s newest release:
Publication Date: TODAY; January 30, 2018
What sort of mother would leave her all alone… a gripping and heart-wrenching domestic drama that won’t let you go.
Lily, who is almost three years old, wakes up alone at home with only her cuddly toy for company. She is afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers.
But why is Lily alone and why isn’t there anyone who can help her? What about the lonely old woman in the flat downstairs who wonders at the cries from the floor above? Or the grandmother who no longer sees Lily since her parents split up?
All the while a young woman lies in a coma in hospital – no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy… and for Lily, time is running out.
Buy Lily Alone:
Universal Amazon Link
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
I am married with grown-up twin daughters and a little granddaughter, and live on the outskirts of London with my husband and two cats. For many years I worked with young children, introducing them to the wonder of books and reading stories to them in libraries, nurseries and parks, often with puppets, props and songs to make the whole experience come alive. At the same time I was writing short stories for women’s magazines, and have now had about 140 published. Away from writing, I enjoy tackling and compiling difficult crosswords, watching and taking part in TV quiz shows, and eating lots of chocolate!
JRR: Sounds like a nice relaxing life that I can only wishfor! It seems like I have too many things to do and never enough time….
Lily Alone is your first novel. What made you want to write this novel? Where did you get the idea for it? This story could be every parent’s worst nightmare: Their young child alone.
I have written two earlier novels, under a previous author name, both only available as ebooks, but this is my first ‘proper’ publishing contract and my first paperback. Having worked with the under-fives, I am fascinated by their growing independence and skills, yet am only too aware that they are still so vulnerable and helpless in many ways too. I wanted to explore how a two-year-old would manage alone, and what circumstances might have put her there. The novel looks at other forms of loneliness and feelings of abandonment too, whether as a result of divorce, grief, negligence or old age.
JRR: Who was the most influential author you read when you were growing up? Did his/her writings influence you to want to become an author?
When I was very young I read all Enid Blyton’s Mr. Pinkwhistle books for their simple stories and touch of magic. In my teens I adored Leonard Cohen, starting with his song lyrics, moving on to his poetry and then reading his novels. He made me want to use language more imaginatively and play around with words so not only the meaning but the rhythm felt right. He probably made me want to be a songwriter rather than an author and I would still love to have a go at that, even though I am not very musical.
JRR: Who is your favorite author as an adult? Who inspires you?
I read lots of different genres of fiction so it’s hard to pick just one. I have loved both of Clare Mackintosh’s psychological thrillers, but equally enjoy a good happy-ending romance from authors like Iona Grey or Veronica Henry. But, for sheer storytelling, I will say Jean Fullerton, whose ‘nurse’ series based in the East End of London in the 1950s have a real sense of place and a feeling of being part of a close community, and instantly drew me in.
As for inspiration, I suppose I would like to write like Jane Corry or Clare Mackintosh – authors who tell complicated stories, often from more than one point of view, and tease their readers, making them wait – and guess – right to the end. But I want to use those techniques in my own way, to enhance my dramatic family-based themes, not to veer towards the psychological thrillers or murderous plotlines those particular authors write so well.
JRR: Clare Mackintosh is an author I look forward to reading at some point!
If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?
Firstly Victoria Wood, whose writing (from stand-up comedy and funny songs to TV situation comedy and drama) can be hilariously funny or tragically poignant, with everything in between. She was a perfectionist, so they say, and a joy to work with, but was also well known for being shy so I know she wouldn’t intimidate or dominate the conversation and I think we would have got along.
Next, actor Kevin Costner, who would sit opposite me so I could just look at him! The most handsome and charismatic man alive, and star of many of my favourite films. But it wouldn’t matter what he talked about because I could just listen to his sexy voice all night long.
And lastly, my own dad Wilf Smith, who I lost almost 25 years ago – just so I could see him again.
JRR: Great choices! You last choice of your father would also be one of mine. My father passed away almost 19 years ago and I had just turned 19. So this year will be tough thinking about that.
Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
I always feel I should have read more Charles Dickens. Great storylines and settings, wonderful characters with the most unusual names, but the old-fashioned language can be off-putting and it is often so much easier to watch a film or TV adaptation.
JRR: That is true. I just listened to the audio version of A Christmas Carol narrated by Tim Curry in December. I grew up watching the story on tv, so I knew it, but I had difficulty with the ‘old-fashioned language’ in it.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
When it comes to writing and trying to get published, never give up. Perseverance really is everything, and often it can be more important than talent. If you are willing to listen to advice and criticism, take time to learn the craft, and work hard, you will succeed. I did!
JRR: Yes, you CAN achieve your dream!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes! The news that my next novel, to be called Five Unforgivable Things, will be published in the UK in July and in the USA a few months later. It’s another domestic drama, following the course of a long marriage and the five pivotal moments when mistakes were made – mistakes so big that they altered the course of the whole family’s lives.
JRR: That sounds good! I look forward to it.
**Thank you so much for your time with this interview Vivien!
Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.
She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.
Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.
She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.
Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.
A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian passports and can usually be found plotting her next trip two years in advance!
Rachel’s Newest Novella Releases: The English Spy Mysteries
The English Spy Mysteries is a new concept: Combining fast-paced thrilling reads with episodic delivery in the vein of TV shows 24, Alias, and Spooks, series 1 is a must-read for fans of Robert Ludlum, Vince Flynn, and James Patterson.
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a full time writer of spy novels and crime fiction. I lived in the UK until about 12 years ago, and then I emigrated to Australia. I currently live in Brisbane, Queensland.
In the past, I’ve helped to run a pub, played lead guitar in bands, worked in radio as a producer and presenter, and was a film extra in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough, which was a heck of a lot of fun!
JRR: You have lived quite a life with so many different experiences. Did you always want to become an author? What made you choose the genre you write in?
Absolutely – I was reading before I started school, and wrote my first short story when I was eight years old. It wasn’t very good, but it was a mystery so I started early!
I gravitated towards the crime fiction and spy novel genres because those were the sorts of books that were on the shelves at home. Both my parents and grandparents were voracious readers. By the time I was twelve years old, I was running out of stuff to read – at that time there wasn’t anything around like The Hunger Games. My grandad lent me his copy of The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins, and that kicked off my love of the spy novel genre. Both he and my mum also had a vast collection of Dick Francis novels between them, as well as books by Ed McBain and the like so that’s what started my love of crime fiction.
JRR: That is wonderful to come from a family of readers! What inspires you to write?
The ideas that keep going around in my head – it’s as simple, and as hard as that. Every time I see a news report that capture my imagination, it adds fuel to the fire. Plus, I love what I do. Now that I’m a full-time writer, I have an added incentive of course – it pays the rent!
JRR: Congrats on becoming a full time author! Keep on writing! Who was the most influential author you read when you were growing up? Did his/her writings influence you to want to become an author?
Well, both Jack Higgins and Dick Francis were influences while I was studying English at school. I had a bit of a hiatus from writing once I left school, because I then spent seven years playing guitar in bands.
JRR: Who is your favorite author as an adult? Who inspires you?
It’s very difficult to pick one author, because I’ve been influenced by so many. Authors such as Lee Child, Michael Connolly, Peter Robinson, Val McDermid, Robert Cray and Ann Cleeves all line the bookshelves at home (or the virtual ones on my eReader). When I returned to writing a few years ago, I re-read a lot of their books as well as every single interview I could find with them about the writing craft – it was like going back to school.
JRR: If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?
Charles Darwin, because he was a very savvy businessman
Keith Richards, because he’s been a guitar hero of mine since I was about 7 or 8 years old
My grandad, because I haven’t seen him for nearly two years – we’re catching up again in May when I return to the UK for CrimeFest, but if I could sneak in an extra dinner date right now with him, then I would.
JRR: That is a great list. Have fun catching up with your grandfather in May. I know you are looking forward to that!
Now, which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
A few people have told me I should read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts but I’ve never got around to it (yet!)
JRR: Thank you for sharing that as I had never heard of Shantaram. It’s a huge book, close to 1000 pages! Now, what’s the best advice you have ever received?
Always have an up-to-date CV and an up-to-date passport, just in case you ever need to do a runner 🙂
JRR: Great advice! I need to get my passport updated….. hmmmmm…..
You are releasing three novellas called The English Spy Mysteries this month over the course of three weeks. They are:
Assassins Hunted (186 pages, published January 7th)
Assassins Vengeance (112 pages, published January 14th)
Assassins Retribution (129 pages, published today, January 21st)
What made you decide to go this route with these novellas? The novellas are just long enough to get us going then they are over and we want more! At least the wait is just a week in between and the final one is out now!
As the story developed, it became apparent that at over 100,000 words it was going to be too long to fit into one book. On top of that, I’ve been reading more and more about how people’s attention spans are shrinking – we spend a lot of time on social media or watching Netflix and things like that.
So, I put two and two together and decided to release the story in “episodes”, just like a Netflix-type series – each episode is fast-paced and ends on a cliff-hanger, so hopefully you want to tune in next week to find out what happens next!
JRR: That is also how Stephen King released The Green Mile many years ago. I remember seeing each serialized part in the store. I did not read it until it was combined. I love that book.
You are self-published. What has that experience been like for you?
A lot of hard work, frustration, steep learning curves, long hours, and some marvellous opportunities – I wouldn’t change it for the world!
JRR: Yay! That is always exciting that you love the way life is going. Now, how do you research for your spy novels?
I’m lucky in that because I’ve been writing spy novels on and off for about six years now, I’ve amassed a good number of experts I can turn to with regard to things such as weapons guidance systems, submarines, and things like that. When I started out, I read a lot of books on specialised subjects and real-life accounts by bomb disposal experts. The defence section of online newspapers is a good place to start, too – The Daily Telegraph in the UK is a good one.
Nothing beats real-life experience though – in the time I’ve been writing spy novels I’ve done everything from pistol shooting to flying a Black Hawk helicopter simulator!
The trick is to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to learn, even when you’re not writing a story in the genre, so that you know where to find the information when you need it.
JRR: You have had some great experiences. You can’t know some things unless you have that experience. I am all for that as well.
You have both male and female protagonists in your novels. Who is more fun to write and do you prefer one to the other? Personally, I love a female protagonist who can be a badass. I love strong female characters. Then I also love villains, male and female alike. I like to say ‘the badder the better’ 😉
This is a difficult question to answer, because characters (and the inciting incident that kicks off a story) often pop into my head fully formed, so I don’t get a lot of choice in the matter!
It has been fun to write about Eva, because she’s like the really, really badass version of Kay Hunter, who leads my detective series.
The thing is as well, I see both of them as resilient rather than strong – I mean, they both have their limitations, but also rely on their experience and wiles to survive the situations they find themselves in, whereas someone like Dan Taylor has a bit more brawn on his side when it comes to facing down the bad guys.
I love villains, too!
Something I do keep in mind for every single character, even for someone who might only appear for a chapter or two, is to make sure they have a motive for what they do. Once I have that locked in, it becomes easier to create empathy towards them. Everyone has a reason for what they do, even the villains – you just have to keep tapping away at the character until you discover what that is.
JRR: Is there anything you want to tell us about Eva Delacourt, your protagonist of The English Spy Mysteries that we will get to know over the course of these novellas?
Eva finds it very hard to trust people, but she’s incredibly loyal once she has decided that you’re not going to harm her or the people she cares for.
Of course, if you do plan to harm her, you’d better watch out 😉
JRR: For someone who has not read anything written by you, what do you recommend for a start?
Any of my first in series books will give a reader a great taste of what’s to follow:
Assassins Hunted – the first book in the new English Spy Mysteries series
Scared to Death – the Detective Kay Hunter crime series
White Gold – the Dan Taylor espionage series
JRR: Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would love readers to come over and have a mooch around my website and find out more about me and my writing. You can find me at Rachel Amphlett.
Thank you so much for your time with this interview Rachel! It was a pleasure![Top]