Saturday, June 24, 2017

This Week on Books Direct - 24 June 2017

This Week on Books Direct -
24 June 2017

This Week on Books Direct - 24 June 2017

Here's a list of some great articles you may have missed this week. Enjoy!

How to Embrace Your Dark Side Without Getting Lost by Lisa Brunette

Movies: My (Sometimes) Gateway To Great Books by Tiffani Willis for Book Riot

Movies: My (Sometimes) Gateway to Great Books by Tiffani Willis for Book Riot

How To Self Publish An Ebook And Print Book by Joanna Penn for The Creative Penn

How To Self Publish An Ebook And Print Book by Joanna Penn for The Creative Penn

Authors and Political Agendas. We are citizens, too! by Hans M Hirschi

Yes, You Actually Can Make Money off Art by Jeff Goins

The Emotional Connection And Subtext by Anna Simpson for emaginette

The Emotional Connection and Subtext by Anna Simpson for emaginette

Top 5 Reasons Every Writer Should Join Camp NaNoWriMo by Sarra Cannon for Writer's Digest

Top 5 Reasons Every Writer Should Join Camp NaNoWriMo by Sarra Cannon for Writer's Digest

10 Tips To Help You Buy Fewer Books by Emma Nichols for Book Riot

10 Tips To Help You Buy Fewer Books by Emma Nichols for Book Riot

Tips for Turning Social Media Into Your Own Personal PR Machine on Meet Edgar

If you enjoyed this blog post, please visit the other This Week posts for links to more great articles.

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Stuck" by C. T. Collier

(The Penningtons Investigate Book 2)
by C. T. Collier

Stuck (The Penningtons Investigate Book 2) by C. T. Collier

Stuck is the second book in The Penningtons Investigate series by C. T. Collier. Also available: Planted.

Planted by C. T. Collier

Stuck is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Meet the Penningtons: Lyssa, Ph.D. Economics, and her husband "the handsome Brit" Kyle, Ph.D. Computer Science. When their clever minds ask questions, clever killers can’t hide.
Murder never entered the picture until Fritz Van Derzee decided, at long last, to clear his name. Who stuck a jeweled stiletto into his desktop after stabbing him to death? Fritz’s daughter, Emma, recruits her former professor Lyssa Pennington to find the killer.
But where’s the ten million Fritz was falsely accused of embezzling? Tompkins College President, Justin Cushman, hires his old friend Kyle Pennington to trace the missing money.
While Lyssa uses charm and tenacity on the long list of suspects, Kyle reconstructs the college’s old homegrown finance system. As they converge on the killer, Lyssa and Kyle may be the next two casualties.

Justin’s assistant claimed the president was in a meeting but added, “You sound out of breath, Lyssa. Is it urgent?”
“I’m running to a murder scene. Yes, it’s urgent.”
Justin came on the line, and she told him what little she knew.
“For God’s sake, be careful.”
That spooked her. But he was right. A man was dead. Was the killer still in the neighborhood watching the aftermath? Hanging around would be too risky, wouldn’t it? People in these neighborhoods watched what happened all day. And night. Someone must have seen something. Heard something.
She pressed forward the next two blocks and paused at the end of the Van Derzee’s brick walk. Where were the police? Emma had said she’d called them. Surely they hadn’t come and removed the body already? And why leave the door open?
Though the front door was open a crack, there was no sign of activity, no sound.
She took deep steadying breaths as she climbed the front steps and toed open the door.
From the front entry, she heard sobbing. “Emma?” she called in her loudest teacher voice.
“In here,” Emma squeaked from somewhere down the central hallway. One door stood open.
Lyssa peered in. Emma sat on the floor on the far side of the room between two windows, her back against the wall, knees drawn up, blotting her tears with a ragged tissue. She didn’t appear to be injured in any way, just huddled in shock.
Lyssa’s gaze shifted to the freestanding desk, angled to give whoever sat there a view out the bay window. Her breath hissed through her teeth at the sight of a man’s form, crumpled on its side, motionless, between the chair and the desk. His hair, white-blond, was the same shade as Emma’s. Over his chest, a stain darkened the blue polo shirt. One step closer, a coppery smell closed her throat and made her cough.
She avoided the man’s feet as she approached the desk, her attention drawn to a thin knife with a jeweled handle sticking up from the desk’s burnished wood. The murder weapon? Dark red stained the length of the blade and the wood below.
The weapon lured her. Her hand reached forward without her permission, until she almost touched the ornamentation. In her body she sensed the rage and triumph of the person who’d rammed it straight down into the dense wood.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Stuck, the second mystery in The Penningtons Investigate series, is just as wonderful as the first! The professor-sleuths Lyssa and Kyle are well-developed and engaging. The setting is sharply drawn, and the mystery unfolds at a steady pace, with myriad twists and turns to keep you guessing. Collier marries compelling attention to campus life with a very suspenseful mystery. I am a big fan of academic mysteries, and this one is an absolute delight." ~ Cyn

Interview With the Author
Author C. T. Collier joins me today to discuss her latest book, Stuck.
Thanks so much for hosting me today. I’m excited to tell your readers about my mystery series, The Penningtons Investigate. As you know, book two, Stuck, was released just a couple of months ago.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
Stuck is an adult mystery that will appeal to Cozy fans, Traditional mystery fans, and those who enjoy Academic mysteries.
What sparked the idea for this book?
While I was working on my doctorate, I did consulting for schools and colleges all over. One college was getting great press for reinventing itself (I won’t say too much, to protect their identity), and the PR suggested that their endowment and other funding had also increased. A year later, the college closed its doors. It was actually millions in the hole. A treasurer at a different college gave me a knowing look and said, "Somebody was doctoring the books, want to bet?" That case stayed in my mind for a decade or more until I started writing Stuck, which deals with an embezzlement scheme that nearly bankrupted a small college.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
Lyssa and Kyle Pennington came first, in their own romance novel (Waking Up To Love, written as Katie O’Boyle) a few years ago. In that book, Lyssa and Kyle worked together to identify criminal activity at Lyssa’s college, and I knew right away I had found the co-sleuths for the academic mystery series I’d been wanting to write. Quickly, the whole series of The Penningtons Investigate came into focus, with six stories vying for my attention.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Stuck, which is book two in the series, was much more difficult to write than the book before it, Planted. Honestly, the opening chapters underwent three complete revisions - each radically different from the one before. Then I found my rhythm with the story.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
As with all the books in the series, I want readers to keep turning the page to find out what’s coming. With Stuck in particular, I want readers to recognize how easily a con can slip into an organization and do major damage without anyone suspecting, even very bright administrators. It takes courage, collaboration, ingenuity, and tenacity to root out problems that undermine institutions. At the same time, I want my readers to chuckle at Kyle and Lyssa’s banter and smile at their cleverness.
How long did it take you to write this book?
More than my usual one year, mostly because of the three false starts I mentioned earlier. I had several critique groups giving me feedback, and that kept me from getting too far off track or quitting in frustration.
What is your writing routine?
I am committed to writing one hour every day, regardless of when that hour happens. But I’m at my most productive when I start each day writing; when I revise as I write; and when I regularly get feedback from critique partners on good-sized chunks at a time.
How did you get your book published?
The publisher of my romance series (written as Katie O’Boyle, for Soul Mate Publishing) was interested in the mysteries, but our business models didn’t mesh for my mystery readers. By then, I had learned enough about publishing to take the plunge into self-publishing, and I’ve been very pleased with the move. I’ve found a fabulous editor (Lourdes Venard, Comma Sense Editing) and a terrific book cover artist (Dave Fymbo, Limelight Book Covers). And, as always, my writers’ groups and my critique group keep me on track.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Write every day, develop your own voice, listen to feedback, and get connected with authors, with the express goal of getting published. If you do that, you’ll be guided to the right resources to help you make it happen.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I live in a naturally beautiful area - the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York - and I walk outdoors every day, often with a camera in my hand. I read every day, too, mostly mysteries of all kinds.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re excited! They enjoy reading early drafts and want to know when the next signing is happening and when the next book is coming out.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do a lot of direct marketing through local events and libraries, and that helps me know my readers and receive feedback from them. Individual readers have said things like, "The embezzlement story [Stuck] is fascinating," or "I just had to finish it that same day," or "I love how you work in the beauty of the Finger Lakes area." Recently, a teacher chose one of my books for her high school summer reading program, which I consider a huge honor. I’d love to know what the kids think!
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m working hard on the third book of The Penningtons Investigate, and there are six books planned in total. Check them out at my website.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Kate. Best of luck with your future projects.
Thanks, Lynda, I enjoyed my visit!

About the Author
C. T. Collier
C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting is entirely fictional: Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY (aka Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life).

Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a print copy (US only) or a Kindle or Nook copy (international) of Stuck by C. T. Collier. Check out the other tour stops for more chances to win!


Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Death on West End Road" by Carrie Doyle

Death on West End Road
(Hamptons Murder Mysteries Book 3)
by Carrie Doyle

Death on West End Road (Hamptons Murder Mysteries Book 3) by Carrie Doyle

Death on West End Road is the third book in the Hamptons Murder Mysteries by Carrie Doyle. Also available: Death on Windmill Way and Death on Lily Pond Lane.

Death on Windmill Way by Carrie DoyleDeath on Lily Pond Lane by Carrie Doyle

Death on West End Road is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Like a basket of warm cinnamon buns, an unsolved crime is something that Hamptons innkeeper and sleuth Antonia Bingham just can’t resist. Despite a busy high-season schedule and an inn booked to capacity, Antonia has agreed to investigate a cold case in her beloved adopted hometown, East Hampton, NY: the killing of Susie Whitaker, whose brutal 1990 slaying on a tennis court in the poshest part of town was never solved. And the person who has hired Antonia? Prime suspect Pauline Framingham, a manipulative pharmaceutical heiress from a powerful family. The crime scene is compromised, the circumstances are complicated, and former witnesses are cagey, haunted and very reluctant to revisit what happened on that sun-splashed afternoon decades earlier. As Antonia attempts to unravel the mysteries of the past she unearths even darker secrets and ultimately wonders if it would have been best to let sleeping dogs lie. To make matters worse, past acquaintances and love interests reappear in the Hamptons, disrupting Antonia’s world and causing her to scurry to the fridge for comfort.
Death on West End Road is the third book in the Hamptons Murder Mysteries. Along with a colorful cast of supporting characters, the beating heart of the book is Antonia Bingham, restaurateur, gourmand, and nosy carb-lover.

Click below to read an excerpt.

Praise for the Book
"... a wonderful book with plenty of twists and turns, and I hope to see many more from this author. Highly recommended." ~ vegas92(AnyGoodBook)
"Death on West End Road is a cozy mystery that packs it all into one book. It is interesting, funny, has just the right amount of romance, has just enough danger that threatens the main character and an ending that one really can’t complain about at all. I really enjoyed reading this book and I will be going back and reading other works by this author as well. If you are looking for a cozy mystery that will keep you engaged to the end then this is a book I recommend." ~ Seraphia
"This mystery has plenty of suspects, and so many twists and turns and evasions, that Antonia has to use all of her resources to try to solve it. The ending came as a complete surprise to me! All of the Hamptons Murder Mysteries are wonderful, and I think that Murder on West End Road is my favorite so far. Don't miss out on this great series which puts your right in the lovely town of East Hampton, both past and present." ~ C. Fowler
"The main character is real and relatable. The other characters add to the charm of the series and make you want to book a room at the Windmill Inn this Summer! This is a definite must read for Cozy lovers this Summer!" ~ LaGringa
"I truly enjoy Ms. Doyle's fast paced writing style and sense of humor throughout these books and look forward to the next installment. One of my favorite new series." ~ Vicki May

Guest Post by the Author
The Importance of Reading
I recently had a conversation with a writer friend of mine that left be shocked. The more I think about it; the more shocked I am. 
“I don’t read books,” he told me when I asked him what he was currently reading. “The last book I read was several years ago.”
“Yes, it interferes with my writing.”
“But doesn’t it make your writing better?”
I had to bite my tongue. This friend is a good writer, who has published books with renowned publishing houses, and met with some success. But that said, by no means is he Shakespeare or Tolstoy, or even Michael Connelly for that matter. His writing could be better, his career has stalled somewhat, and it is my deep belief that he is wrong. In fact, the more you read, the better you write.
“Make sure to reread,” was the mantra that best selling author Mary Gordon, my English professor at Barnard College, repeated every day of the semester when I took her class junior year. It was not sufficient to read a great book once, she cautioned, but many times over many stages of your life. I think of that often. I was young and still in school when I read Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, and Pride and Prejudice. Although I appreciated those books then, what did I really know about the challenges of marriage or the financial implications of a relationship or society’s class structure? A good book can resonate with you depending on the time you read it. There are different facets to a novel that you can relate to at different times.
I thought of Mary Gordon when I recently reread Jane Eyre, a novel I hadn’t read since sixth grade. I was surprised by how much I remembered, but I was also struck by how my impressions of the book were so different. What I enjoyed most of all was Charlotte Bronte’s wonderful descriptions of nature, something I am certain I didn’t pay attention to the first time. Because I write a series that takes place in the same locale every book - East Hampton - it’s important for me to take note of the landscape and try and find new ways to express the beauty of the village. Reading a book like Jane Eyre inspired me.
On so many levels reading is important: learning about a new place; being transported to another world; experiencing a range of emotions. But if you are writer, there is no greater tool or inspiration than reading as much as possible. It will make your writing better.

About the Author
Carrie Doyle was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire Magazine. She is currently a Contributing Editor of Hamptons Magazine and has written extensively for Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, and has also written for Women’s Health and Avenue on the Beach. With Jill Kargman, Carrie (as Carrie Karasyov) co-wrote the film Intern (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999), as well as several screenplays sold to Showtime, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Films and the Oxygen Network. Carrie and Jill co-wrote five books together, including three teen books for HarperCollins and two bestselling women’s fiction books, The Right Address and Wolves in Chic Clothing (Broadway Books). Carrie also penned the popular novel The Infidelity Pact (Broadway Books). Carrie lives in New York City with her husband and two children and is currently at work on an animated series for broadcast as well as her new series, the Hamptons Murder Mysteries.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three "Hamptons Summer" gift packs, including a beach bag and print copies of all three books in the series (US only).


"300 Days of Sun" by Deborah Lawrenson

300 Days of Sun
by Deborah Lawrenson

300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson

300 Days of Sun is ON SALE for only $1.49 (save $2.50) from 22 June to 1 July on Amazon AU. Author Deborah Lawrenson stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from the book. You can also read my review.
This blog post is brought to you by Publishing Push PR.

Deborah Lawrenson’s best-selling novel transports readers to a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past - where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes.
Travelling to Faro, Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career. Faro is an enchanting town, and the seaside views are enhanced by the company of Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But behind the crumbling facades of Moorish buildings, Joanna soon realizes, Faro has a seedy underbelly, its economy compromised by corruption and wartime spoils. And Nathan has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child’s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline over two decades ago.
Joanna’s subsequent search leads her to Ian Rylands, an English expat who cryptically insists she will find answers in The Alliance, a novel written by American Esta Hartford. The book recounts an American couple’s experience in Portugal during World War II, and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. Only Rylands insists the book isn’t fiction, and as Joanna reads deeper into it, she begins to suspect that Esta Hartford’s story and Nathan Emberlin’s may indeed converge in Faro - where the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger.

I met Nathan Emberlin in Faro, southern Portugal, in August 2014.
At first, I thought he was just another adventurous young man, engaging but slightly immature. His beautiful sculpted face held a hint of vulnerability, but that ready smile and exuberant cheekiness eased his way, as did the radiant generosity of his spirit, so that it wasn’t only women who smiled back; people of all ages warmed to Nathan, even the cross old man who guarded the stork’s nest on the lamppost outside the tobacconist’s shop.
Yes, he appeared from nowhere – but then, so did we all. I didn’t go to Faro to get a story. That summer, I was on the run, or so it felt; I was trying to consign an awkward episode to my own past, not to get entangled in someone else’s. Besides, a lot of people I met in Faro were in the process of change, of expanding their horizons and aiming for a better life. The town was full of strangers and constant movement: planes overhead, roaring in and out of the airport across the shore; boats puttering in and out of the harbour; trains sliding between the road and the sea; buses and cars; pedestrians bobbing up and down over the undulating cobblestones.
The café, at least, was still. On the way to the language school, it had the presence and quiet grace of an ancient oak, rooted to its spot in the Rua Dr Francisco Gomes. The columns and balustrades of its once-grand fin-de-siècle façade had an air of forgotten romance that was hard to resist. I pushed against its old-style revolving door that first morning simply because I was curious to see inside.
True to its promise, the interior was cavernous, the ceiling high and elegantly proportioned. But the plaster on the walls was cratered, and mould speckled the cornicing. The tables and chairs were plastic garden furniture, set out haphazardly on a coral and white chequerboard floor; few of them were taken. I went up to the main counter, into an aromatic cloud of strong coffee, where a group of men knotted over an open newspaper. The barman, wiping his hands on an apron that was none too clean, seemed to be engaged in voicing his opinion and was in no hurry to serve me.
Photographs of old Faro were set into wooden panelling: black and white scenes of a fishing community, of empty roads and dusty churches. The argument at the bar counter intensified, or that’s what it sounded like. It’s not always possible to tell in a foreign language. It might just be excitability. But some words were easy to understand. Contra a natureza. Anorma. Devastador.
Bom dia?’ The barman had noticed me at last. There was sense of a question about his greeting. Or perhaps it was supposed to double for “What would you like?” Four days into Portuguese for Beginners, and I could manage to order a cup of coffee. There didn’t seem to be anything more substantial for breakfast on display and there were no menus.
The barman pressed some buttons on a brute of a machine, which released a muddy dribble of liquid.
Bica,’ he said, pushing it towards me in a tiny chipped cup along with a bowl of sugar cubes.
The bill came to pennies. I didn’t know this was the Café Aliança.
No, I didn’t meet Nathan at the café. At that stage he didn’t know any more about the place than I did.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"A deeply satisfying novel, a rich story with a strong feeling for time and place and the expert pacing of the best thrillers." ~ Carol Gladstein, Booklist Starred Review
"Merges past and present, doubling identities and events to dazzling (and sometimes dizzying) effect. Set against the lush but corrupt coastal resorts of southern Portugal, the novel’s shadowy deeds seem only more dangerous in this sunny clime." ~ Ron Terpening, Library Journal
"A pulsepounder ... had me turning the pages with anticipation and dread to learn the secrets of seaside town Faro, Portugal." ~ Kahakai Kitchen
"Captivating characters, vivid settings, and an enticing plot ... a fascinating novel that is difficult to put down." ~ Nina Longfield,
"I couldn't wait to get back to it ... it lingered long after finishing." ~
"An excellent summer read ... romance, mystery, espionage, and a thriller aspect that make it quite a page-turner." ~

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Joanna Millard meets Nathan Emberlin in a Portuguese language class in Faro, Portugal, after breaking up with her boyfriend and losing her job as a journalist. Nathan approaches her to help him investigate an old family friend with connections to shady dealings involving holiday resorts and even some missing children. Jo and Nathan's present-day story is interspersed with excerpts from The Alliance, a novel that tells the story of journalist Michael Barton and his wife Alva, who flee from Paris to Portugal just after the World War II begins. The book is, in fact, an autobiographical account by Esta Hartford of events that have a direct bearing on Nathan's investigation.
Set on the Algarve coast of southern Portugal, a land which experiences three hundred days of sun, this is a story of romance, mystery, suspense, and international intrigue. Fictional elements are expertly blended with real-life details, such as the storm of 1941, the presence of expats during the war, the Portuguese government's dealings with the Nazis, and the disappearance of young children from holiday resorts. The author has a real talent for describing the oppressive atmosphere of the place, both in the past and the present. You will be kept in suspense, trying to work out how the two stories are connected.
An intriguing blend of contemporary and historical genres.

Some of My Favorite Lines
"Violet shadows stretched from the rocks, clock hands over the sand."
"Portugal was cheap, there were three hundred days of sunshine a year..."
"He looked about sixteen, hungry and desperate."
"The air was heavy with orange dust from the Sahara that fell like a sprinkling of paprika powder over the town’s white sills and ledges."
"Now and then, there were tantalizing glimpses of the river Tagus wide as a blue sea at the end of the street."
"In Faro, now here, with Nathan, I was on an authentic trail, destination unknown. I hadn’t had this frisson of excitement on a story in years. In Faro, now here, with Nathan, I was on an authentic trail, destination unknown. I hadn’t had this frisson of excitement on a story in years."
"A breeze struggled to get in but went away disappointed."
"He leaned in and rested his head on my shoulder. He was a boy again. A beautiful broken boy."
"Waves churned and chopped the surface into scribbles made by the wind, like messages she wished she could read."
"She felt wetness on her cheeks. It was impossible to tell whether it was caused by the sharp breeze, or by unhappiness."
"She put down the receiver knowing only that she had lost him. Perhaps it had happened much earlier, but it had only just registered."
"Life was not always what it seemed on the surface."
"I am glad you think I possess such a ruthless kindness."

Interview With the Author
Deborah Lawrenson joins me today to discuss her latest novel, 300 Days of Sun.
Please give us a short introduction to what 300 Days of Sun is about.
On the southern coast of Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career. At language school in Faro, she meets Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But nothing is quite what it seems. Behind the atmospheric Moorish buildings, Faro has a seedy underbelly, and Nathan admits he has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child’s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline over two decades ago.
Joanna’s search leads her to The Alliance, a novel that recounts an American couple’s experience in Portugal during World War II and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. At first it seems unlikely this book could have any bearing on the present, but soon she and Nathan find the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger.
Selected for National Reading Group Month Great Group Reads in the USA, this multi-layered novel combines a present day mystery with romantic suspense and wartime historical fiction.
What inspired you to write a book about child abduction?
I didn’t start out to write about child abduction. The subject insinuated itself into the setting, and the themes of identity, and power shifts and transformation that I wanted to explore. I started by writing about southern Portugal, trying to capture something recognisable, and I found I kept coming back to a real-life high-profile case of child abduction on the Algarve coast. Other disappearances and crimes involving children surfaced during my researches and the subject became impossible to ignore.
You spent your childhood moving around with your diplomatic service parents. How has that influenced your worldview and your writing?
When I was growing up I was always asked "Where do you come from?" and there was no simple answer. I was always the new girl. As a diplomatic service family, we moved around the world every few years. I also realized that it often meant, who are you? That is the key to this novel. Changes in circumstances are hard enough, but sometimes they also bring a change of identity, in various ways. I like to think that being brought up this way has made me more open-minded and adaptable, but it also undermined my confidence in some ways. I like to be sure of my ground, and part of that is my need to observe closely. I’m delighted that readers and critics have responded so positively to the "intriguing escapes to foreign settings with an atmospheric sense of place" in my novels.
You also worked as a journalist. How different is that from writing novels?
Very different, in that novels allow you the freedom to invent and misrepresent! But what I learned as a journalist has been invaluable. Writing accurate quotes as dialogue – knowing where to cut for maximum effect - is a journalistic skill. Accurate description is another. But perhaps the best lesson from my days on a newspaper is learning how to write fast, even when inspiration is lacking – because you have to. No self-indulgence or writer’s block. Start writing, and the story will take shape. With a novel, the joy is having the time to polish until it comes out right.
How, would you say, have you evolved creatively since you published your very first book?
My very first novels were written only with the aim of getting published – they were light-hearted satires set on a newspaper in London, so had a ready-made marketing angle. They were fun to write and promote but ultimately I wanted to write more multi-layered novels that combined my love of history, mystery and romantic suspense, all in a vibrant and interesting setting.
What has the reception of 300 Days of Sun been like so far?
I was thrilled that it was selected for National Reading Group Month Great Group Reads in the USA, last October. That was a lovely boost. It has also been published in translation in Portugal, where readers and reviewers really seem to have enjoyed the view of their country through foreign eyes, and found it authentic and life-affirming.
How did you manage to describe the town of Faro with so much detail?
I went to Faro with my daughter, who now studies languages at university. She was only seventeen when she signed herself up for a Portuguese language course lasting two weeks and I didn’t want her go to Portugal on her own. While she went to class every morning, I wandered around with my camera, through the gateway to the Old Town and up the narrow cobbled streets to the cathedral square, once the site of a Roman forum. Out the other side, the streets lead back to the sea and the green marshlands beyond.
Back in the streets behind the marina, I began to look more closely at the once-grand buildings that were now shut up, businesses closed. The most prominent of these was the Café Aliança and the mustard-yellow shops that adjoined it, in a prime position facing the lively marina. The sense of gentle decay was compelling, and I longed to know more. What was life really like here, behind the pretty houses covered in cracked tiles - azulejos - and crumbling stucco? In the afternoons, we went exploring by sea: to the beaches on the ferries, and the islands across the sea marshes.
How much research did it require from you to make the history ring true?
Almost everything I wrote about in the sections of the book set in the past actually happened in some form, though I have invented characters and situations. The years between 1940-45 in Portugal were an extraordinary time, when no one was sure what was true and what was an elaborate hoax, though behind all the fog of misinformation and espionage were many noble causes. I read widely to understand and visualize the peculiar clash of wartime enemies in the civilised peace of Lisbon and beyond. I did a great deal of research, but it was so fascinating it didn’t feel like work at all.
300 Days of Sun also features a novel-within-a-novel. Why did you take this approach?
I enjoy the writing within a past-present structure, and as a reader I have always loved the echoes between the two, especially when both provide clues to solve a puzzle. The novel-within-a-novel was just another way of achieving that – and seemed very natural, given that I had been building a picture of an era by reading books written at the time, as well as historical accounts.
It hasn’t appealed to everyone, because some people like a linear story and don’t like being thrown into another with new characters. But if you think about one of the themes of this novel being "new life, new identity", the change reflects this and the way it can be unsettling. And the novel within is a crucial part of the story, even if it doesn’t seem so at the start.
Where can readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
You can find out more about the book on my website, including a Reading Guide and a look Behind the Book.
I have a blog with lots of background photos to all my recent novels, including The Lantern and The Sea Garden.
You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.
Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by today, Deborah.

About the Author
Deborah Lawrenson
Deborah Lawrenson spent her childhood moving around the world from Kuwait to China, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Singapore, with diplomatic service parents. She read English at Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is the author of eight novels, including the critically acclaimed The Art of Falling, which was a WHSmith Fresh Talent novel, The Lantern, which was picked as a summer read for the Channel 4 TV Book Club in 2011, The Sea Garden, and 300 Days of Sun. She lives in Kent and spends as much time as possible at a crumbling hamlet in Provence, the atmospheric setting for The Lantern.