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Axie Oh

XOXO Official Blog Tour

Sean Penn

BOB HONEY WHO JUST DO STUFF

Robert V.S. Redick

SIDEWINDERS Blog Tour

Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory

Bethany C. Morrow

A CHORUS RISES Blog Tour

William L. Myers Jr.

A KILLER'S ALIBI

BonHyung Jeong

KYLE'S LITTLE SISTER Nerd Blast

E.E. KNight

NOVICE DRAGONEER

Robert McCaw

DEATH OF A MESSENGER

Gregg Olsen

SNOW CREEK Podcast

Josh Duhamel

THE BUDDY GAMES

Lucinda Roy

THE FREEDOM RACE Blog Tour

Evie Green

WE HEAR VOICES

E.J. Mellow

SONG OF FOREVER RAINS Blog Tour

Sara Fujimura

FAKING REALITY Blog Tour

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Victoria Harris Interview - Wish


Photo Content from Victoria Harris

Victoria Harris is a Humanistic & Integrative psychotherapist in private practice who specializes in using creative techniques for emotional healing. Dr. Harris has trained in child psychotherapy and play therapy and researched the use of creative techniques in psychotherapy. She works with children, adolescents, and adults. Dr. Harris believes strongly in early intervention and using creativity as a tool for healing. She has two children and enjoys spending time in nature, especially in West Cork, Ireland. It is here surrounded by the rugged beauty of the landscape and the local folklore that she finds the inspiration for her books.

      
  


Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It was so rewarding to have the finished book in my hands! Also, to hear back from people who have read it and understand how it can be used as a vehicle for processing big feelings and issues.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I didn’t have a great experience of school. I struggled in math and science and my teacher told my parents I was not good enough for university. But this experience made me determined to follow my heart. So I learnt to overcome obstacles and not give up on the things I believe in.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
As well as working on the second book in the Otherworld series, I am also working on a picture book for 5-7 year olds. This will help teach them coping strategies and promote mental well-being.

Can you tell us when you started WISH, how that came about?
I work in private practice as a child psychotherapist. One in six children today suffer from a mental health disorder, affecting the way they learn, behave, and manage emotions. In order to help them navigate an uncertain world, we need to equip them with the skills to manage their emotions. Early intervention is crucial for this. By teaching children to process and regulate their feelings while they are young, they develop lifelong skills to help them navigate times of stress and trauma they will face in life.

The classic stories I read growing up like Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz spoke to my unconscious mind and helped me through challenging times. Then during my early client work, I came to realize that sometimes talk therapy could not soothe every emotional pain. Working in a suicide and self-harm prevention center, I began to see clients for whom words failed and where it was difficult to engage verbally. I knew I needed to build a relationship and help them to express and process what was going on for them but I had no idea what to do when a person wouldn’t—or couldn’t—talk to me. Then I remembered my own therapist and how she used creative techniques to help unlock aspects of myself that needed healing. So I began to use techniques such as storytelling with my clients and had so much success I trained in creative techniques and later researched them for my doctorate. Wish shows children they can author their own futures and helps them build emotional resilience in the process.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope that readers will identify with Cara’s struggles and challenges, because we all have big feelings and issues that we have to navigate in life. But like Cara, they remember to use their coping strategies and step into their power.

For those who are unfamiliar with Cara, how would you introduce her?
Cara is a twelve-year-old who is blaming herself for her father’s disappearance. She is struggling with negative thoughts and feels overwhelmed. She is dis-connected to her truth. Yet when she begins to fear her family has been cursed, she finds the strength to step into her power, and embark on a quest to find her father and free them all from darkness.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would like Hugo the hedgehog to meet Eeyore from The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh. Hugo, like Eeyore, can teach us that it’s okay to be who you are. In Wish he is a reluctant hero, too tired for quests and not afraid to express his feelings. Little does he know I have more in store for him in book two!

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
Growing up I have very fond memories of playing fairies and gnomes with my friend Louise in her garden. She had a beautiful stream in a wooded area and we would spend hours playing there, lost in our imagination.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Have an adventure and do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. I went backpacking around the world straight after finishing University and it was both uncomfortable at times and an adventure!

Memorable Summer?
My husband is a keen sailor and we have a sailboat. My most memorable summer is sailing with him and my two children around Corsica. The freedom of living on a boat, and waking up in the morning to jump into the sea is amazing. It is also very grounding and bonding, because when you are living in such a confined space with uncertainty you really have to work as a team.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
I think this decade because kids now have so much more choice than I did growing up. It is a very creative and progressive time.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?
Alice in Wonderland was my favourite book. I grew up in the New Forest close to Alice (in Wonderland) whom C.S. Lewis based his novels once lived. I was captivated by the story of a portal to another world and spent many hours imagining finding a door and what would be behind it.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
Not having to be responsible for adult stuff.

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
I was out with friends for dinner. I love a good belly laugh and after all the lockdowns it was great to be out with old friends once again.

TEN REASONS TO READ WISH
  • It is a fun fantasy adventure.
  • It speaks to your unconscious. Through the use of symbols and metaphor.
  • It has fairies and otherworldly creatures in it.
  • It is about empowerment. We all need to feel more of this!
  • It can help you process big feelings.
  • It offers tools to help regulate your body when overwhelmed.
  • It helps with understanding negative thoughts.
  • It has a green man of the forest in it. Growing up in a forest area I have always been fascinated by the green man.
  • It is based on Irish folklore.
  • It is magical.
Journey to writing WISH
My parents divorce when I was young had a huge impact on me. I struggled with my feelings and took refuge in my imagination. Interested in emotional suffering, I first studied psychology for A-level and then with undergraduate research on the influence of symbols on the mind. A Masters in Psychoanalytic Studies emphasized the importance of working with the unconscious if we want to heal emotional wounds.

I continued my training in child psychotherapy, learning play therapy and creative techniques which I used with clients when words were not enough. Often I wrote therapeutic stories for my clients, or used stories as a vehicle for healing. When I researched creative techniques for my doctorate, I found support that techniques such as using symbols and metaphor is a safe way to help bypass our conscious mind, working ‘under the hood’ to assist children and adults in processing emotions.

I wrote my book Wish in response to my research and my many years working with clients using symbols and metaphor. Wish on one level is an entertaining adventure, but on a deeper level it works to create change. Helping children process emotions and learn the skills they need to regulate and calm their system when they feel overwhelmed.

Most humans have forgotten their sparkle … hypnotized by the darkness that obscures it.

Twelve-year-old Cara O’Reilly always thought her father was teasing when he said she and her sister had fairy magic. But it’s been nearly a week since he went on a mountain hike and vanished—right after an argument with Cara. She wished him gone, and now he is.

Cara’s little sister Bri hasn’t spoken a word since his disappearance. In fact, Cara feels like her whole family is under a curse. And it seems like all the adults in their family are keeping some sort of secret. Her world further tumbles into chaos when, after a close encounter with a living, breathing fairy, Cara realizes the old stories are all true. Now, she must find the door to the Otherworld to retrieve an ancient treasure. But can she battle the darkness to save her family—and the entire world?
You can purchase Wish at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you VICTORIA HARRIS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Wish by Victoria Harris.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Wendy Holden Interview - The Duchess


Photo Content from Wendy Holden 

Wendy Holden has written numerous books and is a celebrated journalist. She lives in England.

        
  


Greatest thing you learned at school.
To love literature. Up until the final years I wanted to do history at university, but then one of those brilliant, world-changing English teachers blazed into my life. She turned everything around and from then on it was only English for me. But my love of history never went away and being a historical novelist means I can combine the two.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
In general, being in charge of my own destiny and setting my own work times and patterns. In as far as it is possible – see answer to next question!!

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
The pandemic! I wrote THE DUCHESS through the first and second lockdowns in the UK, so my teenage kids were at home rather than school. Trying to motivate them, as well as keeping them fed and in clean clothes, was a challenge to say the least. I grew used to diving from the Abdication to the dishwasher! But we all went through it, all over the world, so I can hardly complain.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
As a teenager I loved Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain. It’s about the tragedy of the First World War and its main themes are feminism and pacifism. But what appealed to me was the beginning; it’s the 1900s and the heroine, Vera, is desperate to go to Oxford at a time when few women did. In the early 1980s, I was desperate to go to Cambridge but I was a working-class person at a school which rarely sent people there. I took heart from Vera, who taught herself Greek in order to pass the Oxford exams. I thought if she could succeed, so could I, and I did!

Can you tell us when you started THE DUCHESS, how that came about?
It grew out of a chapter in THE GOVERNESS, my first historical novel, about the young woman who taught the Queen. Marion Crawford, the governess of the title, encounters Wallis in the woods near Balmoral. Wallis has just arrived and is dismayed. She was met by the King at the station but he was supposed to be opening a hospital. The evening papers have blamed her for this but it struck me, when reading about this real-life incident, that Wallis would have had no idea about the hospital; Edward was hardly likely to have told her. It made me wonder about all the other incidents she was unfairly blamed for, including the biggest one of all, the Abdication. I began to construct my alternative take on her from there. And so THE DUCHESS takes a fresh look at the story we think we know. Wallis is usually seen as the ruthless seductress who schemed to be Queen of England. But the more I researched, thought and wrote about her, the more I found myself resisting this version. My Wallis is witty, warm-hearted and intensely human. But this is no invention of mine; I found plenty of evidence in my research to support it. Wallis’s own autobiography and letters attest to her engaging personality while contemporaries such as Chips Channon and Lady Diana Cooper write about her with admiration and liking.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
Delving into Wallis’s past, I found a difficult childhood, a violent first husband and a lonely period in London in the late 1920s that I came to think of as her ‘Cinderella years’. Arriving in Britain to marry second husband Ernest, Wallis knew no-one and was cold-shouldered by society. When, via an unlikely chain of chance events (involving a cow show in Leicester at one stage), she finally met Edward, rumors exploded that she had bewitched him with sexual powers acquired in Shanghai. But it seemed to me that he simply just liked her. He loved Americans anyway; he saw it as the country of the future and thought its people were amusing, up-to-date and gloriously unsycophantic. And Wallis, alone of everyone else he knew, encouraged his pet project to modernize the monarchy.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from THE DUCHESS
In this scene, Wallis meets her future husband for the first time..

There was a snapping of twigs behind her. She turned to see someone emerging from the bushes with a rake. He was small and slender with a grubby shirt tucked into worn flannel cotton trousers. He had on canvas shoes and a straw hat pulled low over his eyes. “Can I help you?” he asked politely. He spoke in that London twang she had once found so difficult to understand.

“Oh,” she said, flustered. “Do excuse me. I’ve been asked to Fort Belvedere for the weekend. I thought I’d look round the garden.”

“Like it?”

“Oh yes,” she said, and was about to elaborate when a movement in the corner of her eye distracted her. It was Ernest, hurrying up the cedar avenue. “Wallis! I’ve been looking for you all over!”

The sweat stood out on his brow and he was obviously intensely uncomfortable in his thick suit. He fished out a handkerchief and mopped his brow and neck. “There’s no-one around,” he said. “Let’s just go back to London.”

She folded her arms. “We can’t just go! It would look so rude.”

“Well it’s rude of them not to be here to meet us,” huffed Ernest.

“I quite agree,” said a light Cockney voice from behind. They both turned to the gardener in surprise.

He removed his hat and all was revealed. That famous dazzling grin. That shining blonde hair. It could be nobody else.

Ernest gasped. Shock barrelled through Wallis. She had expected a build-up to this moment; time to anticipate meeting The Most Famous Man In The World. It would be like an explosion, the blare of trumpets, an electric shock, perhaps all three.

“I offer my sincere apologies,” he said. “I didn’t realise Lady Furness wasn’t there when you arrived.”

TEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT THE DUCHESS
  • 1. Wallis was actually christened Bessiewallis, which hasn’t quite the same ring to it somehow!
  • 2. But there were a lot of oddly-named people in her life. Her father was called Teakle and her one of her brothers-in-law was called Dumaresque.
  • 3. On her wedding night with her first husband Win (brother of Dumaresque), he produced a bottle of gin from a suitcase. It was the introduction to the third person in their marriage.
  • 4. Wallis once dressed up as a tube of toothpaste for a fancy-dress party
  • 5. Despite being famously skinny she was crazy about cooking. Her favorite dishes were Southern ones; bacon in molasses was her specialty.
  • 6. In London, she did her own shopping, which was unusual for a woman of her class (the cook usually got it sent round). The butchers, fishmongers etc of London gave her a hard time, but Wallis wasn’t standing for it. She would whip out her Fannie Farmer cookbook and show them exactly what cut she wanted.
  • 7. Edward VIII when Prince of Wales loved interior designing. He redecorated Fort Belvedere and installed telephones and ensuite bathrooms, ultra-technology at the time.
  • 8. But when he moved into Buckingham Palace as King he took two tiny poky rooms and lived out of boxes. It was almost as if he knew he wouldn’t be staying long.
  • 9. George V, father of Edward, used to shout at him about his fashionable clothes. “YOU DRESS LIKE A CAD!” he screamed at his son and heir.
  • 10. But Edward, for all his subsequent reputation for selfishness and fecklessness, had a loyal core and a loving heart. He rescued his brother George from heroin addiction and almost certainly saved his life.
Meet the Characters
Fiction allows you to interpret a character and inhabit their lives in a much deeper and more complete way. I had a really strong idea of Wallis and wanted to bring it to life. I think she was a much more appealing and interesting person than the social-climbing harridan she is usually portrayed as. The Wallis we think we know relates to the Abdication period, when she was seen as the villain of the piece. But THE DUCHESS goes back to her early years in London, the Cinderella years as I think of them, before she met the handsome prince. She found London a real struggle; she had no friends, little money and couldn’t understand the Brits at all, especially – and how ironic is this? - their obsession with royalty! She was a friendly, witty, very human and completely unpretentious person, and it was this that Edward VIII found so appealing about her.

But THE DUCHESS doesn’t just take a new look at Wallis. It takes a new look at the Abdication and the events that led up to it. Having initially accepted, like most people, that Edward was forced to renounce his throne, I soon began to reassess this view as well. So much of what he did was so completely bizarre, and while it’s been explained away as the actions of a man under stress, I began to suspect that it was nothing of the sort. Indeed, I began to wonder if he had wanted to get off the throne all along, and Wallis was the perfect excuse.

His insistence on marrying her before his Coronation was what puzzled me most. The Abdication crisis was in December 1936, but the crowning was slated for May 1937, a mere few months later. Had Edward waited, his huge personal popularity plus the authority of being the crowned monarch would certainly have meant he could have had his cake and eaten it too.

There were other odd things as well. He seems to have deliberately sought the very worst advice. Instead of getting men of his own outlook he retained the stuffed shirts from his father’s reign who all hated him. And, fatally, he made his marriage a constitutional matter, putting the power in the hands of the Government, who opposed it. The more I pondered all these mistakes the more I thought it was almost as if he wanted to renounce the throne.

Oh, wait..

Now it all made sense. The way he had wept a full hour on his mother’s bosom by his dead father’s bedside. He wasn’t mourning George V, but the fact of his own accession. He had hated the ‘stunting’ and ‘princing’ of being the heir, but being king was a thousand times worse. He had to be cattle-prodded into Buckingham Palace, where he refused to unpack his boxes and lived in a couple of poky rooms. And then there was the matter of an heir. Edward had endured an epically dysfunctional childhood which, my research suggested, made him determined not to be a father himself. For a king, this was an obvious problem. But what if there was someone else next in line, his brother the Duke of York say, with a crowd-pleasing wife and two adorable Little Princesses?

You can see where this is going. And so when Edward met Wallis, he was genuinely drawn to her lively modernity. But the fact she was American, divorced and equally uninclined to parenthood might have drawn him even more. She could not have been more ill-suited to the position of Queen Consort, and by insisting on marrying her Edward could conceal his horror of the throne under a cloak of romance and principle.

But what about Wallis? Did she realise what was going on? Almost certainly not. One of the most dramatic parts of THE DUCHESS is the run-up to the Abdication, when it gradually dawns on Wallis that Edward has intended this outcome all along. As her letters reveal, she never wanted to be his Queen. I’m not even sure she really wanted to marry him. She loved him, but he was controlling and demanding; if anyone was ruthless, it was him. Nonetheless, she got all the blame, and he not only knew it, he actively contributed towards it. This is one of the main themes of THE DUCHESS.

Your Journey to Publication
I was working on The Sunday Times in London. Being summoned to the editor’s office was a nerve-wracking experience. Had I done something wrong?

No, I was getting a new columnist. I was deputy editor of the Style section at the time, and in charge of the first-page column slot. We’d tried out various people, all short-term celebrities who, to quote Dickens, were ‘up with the rocket and down with the stick’.

The new writer, Tara Palmer Tomkinson, who I had seen in gossip columns kissing Prince Charles on a ski slope, looked more short-term than most. Little did I suspect what our collaboration would lead to.

The original idea, that Tara would pen her own weekly account of her glitzy partygoing life, soon hit the buffers. While she could write well enough, she had a relaxed view of deadlines. We settled on a plan of me ‘talking it out of her’ and writing the results up. This sounds easier than it was. Tracking Tara down was a weekly challenge worthy of M15. I would invoke the help of her mother, her sister and her agent, stopping just short of Interpol, before Tara herself would call (once from a car wash) and announce that she was ready to ‘do the column’.

Her voice was all rasping patrician glory. Like Daisy Buchanan’s in the Great Gatsby, it was full of money. But then, so was her life. At our first meeting she told me how her boyfriend, landing their helicopter in her parents’ garden, had blown all the petals off her mother’s herbaceous borders. “Mummy was furious,” Tara recounted between bites of toast. “So from now on it has to be landed in the orchard.”

I quickly realised that I was dealing with comic gold. And there was much more to come. When flying, Tara’s maxim was that ‘in Economy you make Enemies, in Club you make Comrades and in First you make Friends”. She warned me that champagne made your breath smell. Her suspicion of canap├ęs – ‘the ones that get dropped on the floor are put back on the trays’ – means it’s been years since I’ve been able to look miniature fish and chips in the eye. I also became expert on Tara-speak, the acronymic argot of the uber-Sloane: eg OPM (Other People’s Money), PJ (private jet), NSIT (Not Safe In Taxis) and QNI (Quiet Night In) – a rare occurrence in those heady days. Tara, by her own admission, barely slept for twenty years.

She was well aware of how funny this all sounded, and played up to it. She had a strong self-deprecating streak, happy to let me refer, in one column, to ‘the reader who wrote recently to say that me wearing La Perla underwear was the equivalent of putting Pirelli tyres on a Vauxhall Cavalier.” This ability to laugh at herself, along with the saga of her unsuccessful love life, was the secret of the column’s success. As big-haired Euro-hunks came and went the theme of her eternal quest for a man became the perfect foil to the enormous envy that contemplation of Tara’s stratospherically glamorous lifestyle would otherwise provoke in the reader.

And cripes, was it glamorous. Never before or since have I met anyone who had quite such a good time, all the time. Tara’s life, as chronicled through the column, was a succession of supermodel-stuffed parties, fashion show front rows, dinners, premieres and luxury launches. She took PJs like other people take buses, never leaving home without her passport in case lunch in Windsor ended up in Italy (one billionaire host decided English coffee wasn’t up to snuff and flew everyone to Venice). In London she would party with Elton John, Michael Caine and Princess Caroline of Monaco. In LA it would be Richard Gere and Tom Cruise. There was never a dull moment unless, like me, you were sitting in the small hours in a newspaper office waiting for Tara to ring you back.

Perhaps it was this that prompted me to ask her one day whether the glam and glitter ever got boring. Was I joking? “If rich people can be dull, poor people can be duller,” Tara quipped, but both she and I knew she didn’t really mean it. Beneath the glittery party princess was a wellies-and-Labradors girl who loved country walks and log fires. Her comment last year, that she had expected to be living the rural life of her parents by then, is horribly poignant in the light of her lonely London death. She was very protective of her family, who rarely appeared in the column, although ‘P-T Towers’, with its butler and 1,200 acres, sometimes did.

‘Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s Social Diary’ became amazingly famous with amazing speed. At the height of her fame she was written about in the Wall Street Journal (‘you’ll be able to buy shares in me soon,’ she joked). Everyone read it, and in some unexpected places. The Royal Scots Dragoons in Bosnia plastered their mess with a collage of the articles. A Captain Allison wrote to say Tara brightened up the Balkans for his bomb-disposal unit.

People were desperate to be in it. “Please mention us in your column,” begged Lord Frederick Windsor and friends when Tara ran into them at a burger bar. Tara duly mentioned them, as well as every shop, restaurant, club and brand of car with which she came into contact. The column had more plugs than B&Q but Tara’s breezy freeloading was all part of the fun. And fun was the word, looking back on them now I am struck by how jolly and innocent they are. Nothing sleazy or sordid, just Tara rushing from party to premiere like a friendly, designer-clad dog. She completely got it that the whole point was to entertain, and that the column should be as funny as possible.

Being the writer behind all this was a strange experience. If I mentioned my role, people thought I was a fantasist. While ghost-writing was hardly a new idea, everyone was absolutely convinced that Tara wrote every word herself. Possibly this is a reflection of how close the column was to her actual personality, and the extent to which she had instantly, effortlessly – and, it seems, eternally - embedded herself in the national consciousness. Her blue-blooded bonkersness had something very British about it.

That she was stunning hardly harmed things either; super-glamorous with glossy hair, a year-round tan and a fabulous figure which never gained an ounce despite the horse-like amounts of food she put away. Her favourite lunch was chicken, mash and gravy which she ate so often that the King’s Road restaurant she patronised christened it ‘Chicken Tara’. No Pot Noodles at home for Ms P-T.

Her famous drug problems came to light only after I had left her service, but they certainly explained a few things. And there were signs, even then, that her life was not as much fun as it seemed. As well as ‘lovers’, the column chronicled a revolving door of fair-weather friends. At one of her parties I found her in a corner saying she didn’t have the foggiest who most of the people there were.

When I finally left Style to become deputy editor of Tatler it was with the germ of a novel inspired by our relationship. Simply Divine had as its main character a column-writing celebrity socialite whose column is actually written by someone else. It was spookily prescient – the socialite, called Champagne D’Vyne, makes an idiot of herself on a chat show and eventually seeks help for her chronic drug problems. Tara had done neither of these things at the time but my inner Nostradamus was obviously on to something. I was nervous that Tara might take umbrage at her portrayal, but with typical generosity she was behind me all the way. She turned up to my launch party in a ski hat and gave me a quote for the book cover: “I’m Absolutely Furious but secretly very flattered”.

I was really sad to hear that she had died. She was such a funny, clever and kind-hearted person and there was so much more to her than people imagined. There were other It Girls around, but Tara easily led the field. She had something none of the others had – personality. In spades.

All the same, when I first met her, I didn’t think it was a defining moment. But it was. The success of the column gave me the inspiration for my first novel. It was an instant bestseller and made me into an author, and for that I will always be grateful.

Writing Behind the Scenes
Nothing especially to look at here; I just go to my garden office in the morning, type up notes if I’m still researching and if I’m writing, I work through the chapters. I try and take a break every hour (although usually less!) and drink about 20 mugs of tea a day. At lunchtime I weed a small part of our vast and overgrown garden while listening to the radio news. Sometimes, if I’m on my own, I work in the evenings too. If my family’s around, we might watch a film. We’re currently working our way through Clint Eastwood.

What is the first job you have had?
When I was at school, I pulled pints in a local bar. I really loved it. The thing about bars, people are always pleased to be in them – well, most people anyway. Another slightly quirky job I had was as a cartoonist. I have a knack for caricature and for a while I made a sort of living with it.

Best date you've ever had?
Way before we got married, when my husband lived in Cannes, we used to take picnics to the islands in the bay. We would buy baguettes and wine from the supermarket, get on the tourist boat and roar off across the blue waves. It was simple but it was perfect.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
Where are my spectacles?

What's your most missed memory?
Life before Brexit, Covid and the rest of it. It seems like paradise now, so sensible and simple, although I probably grumbled like anyone at the time.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
I am completely fascinated by The Queen. She has met everyone and seen everything. She is a piece of living history, but more than this she writes a diary every night which no-one sees but her. If I could be her I could read it!


It was a love so strong, a king renounced his kingdom--all for that woman. Or was she just an escape route for a monarch who never wanted to rule? Bestselling author Wendy Holden takes an intimate look at one of the most notorious scandals of the 20th century.

1928. A middle-aged foreigner comes to London with average looks, no money and no connections. Wallis's first months in the city are lonely, dull and depressing. With no friends of her own she follows the glamorous set in magazines and goes to watch society weddings. Her stuffy husband Ernest's idea of fun, meanwhile, is touring historic monuments.

When an unexpected encounter leads to a house party with the Prince of Wales, Wallis's star begins to rise. Her secret weapon is her American pep and honesty. For the prince she is a breath of fresh air. As her friendship with him grows, their relationship deepens into love. Wallis is plunged into a world of unimaginable luxury and privilege, enjoying weekends together at his private palace on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Wallis knows the fun and excitement can't last. The prince will have to marry and she will return to Ernest. The sudden death of George V seems to make this inevitable; the Prince of Wales is now King Edward VIII. When, to her shock and amazement, he refuses to give her up--or recognize that they are facing impossible odds--her fairy tale becomes a nightmare. The royal family close ranks to shut her out and Ernest gives an ultimatum.

Wallis finds herself trapped when Edward insists on abdicating his throne. She can't escape the overwhelming public outrage and villainized, she becomes the woman everyone blames--the face of the most dramatic royal scandal of the twentieth century.
You can purchase The Duchess at the following Retailers:
        

1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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The Fan Brothers Interview - It Fell from the Sky


Photo Content from The Fan Brothers

Brothers Terry Fan and Eric Fan received their formal art training at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. Their work is a blend of traditional and contemporary techniques, using ink or graphite mixed with digital. The Night Gardener was their widely acclaimed debut picture book.

Terry spends his days (and nights) creating magical paintings, portraits, and prints. Eric has a passion for vintage bikes, clockwork contraptions, and impossible dreams. 

        
  


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Stories are one of the ways we make sense out of life. By taking the often chaotic and random events of life and organizing them into a meaningful structure, we gain insight into the world, and into our own lives. Stories also give us a window into other people’s lives and experiences that we wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. A good story can expand the bandwidth of your imagination, and give you new ways of looking at the world, which in turn can impact your life in meaningful and tangible ways. Reading is also simply fun - a doorway into a new adventure and into other worlds.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
We’re currently working on final art for our next picture book, but it’s still early days so I’m not sure we can talk about it too much at this point.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
Eric: That’s a tough one. Probably the time we spent in Hawai’i. I love the ocean, and we spent a lot of time on the beach, or snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. The reef was still very healthy and bursting with color and life back then, and I remember swimming out past the shallow part of the reef, where it suddenly dropped off and got deeper. Below me were enormous brain coral, bigger than I had ever seen before; like luminous brains on the seafloor. I swam down and found myself surrounded by schools of colorful fish: trumpet fish, angel fish and parrot fish. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I’d probably be a little nervous about snorkeling in the ocean now, but a certain fearlessness comes with youth.

Terry: Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay ranks as one of my favorites as well, but I don’t have a specific happiest childhood memory. Some periods of my childhood bring back beautiful memories. Family trips to Hawai’i and Australia stand out, and the whole time we lived in the Rosedale area of Toronto during the 1970s.

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why?
Eric:
My two favorite classes were art and home economics. Art, because it was something I was good at and I loved to draw, home economics because they had a full kitchen and we were taught how to cook. One day we learned how to make pizza, and there was something magical about that to me; it was almost another form of art. Those classes stayed with me and I still love to cook till this day. I also loved creative writing, and had a teacher who was very encouraging about my writing. He would single out my stories and read them aloud to the class, which was both mortifying and thrilling.

Terry: I also loved art and home economics and have strong memories of the pizza-making class. I remember the teacher introducing us to the secret of what makes a pizza taste like a pizza, which was oregano spice. Like Eric, I also love to cook, and I think it all started with those mini pizzas. Another favorite class was History. I’ve always had a fascination with history, and at the time, I was especially enthralled with the Medieval period. I was collecting Medieval toy knights, along with miniature castles, trees, and catapults etc. A friend of mine had his own vast collection, and we would stage these epic battles between our armies, with elaborate, improvised stories to go along with them.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Eric:
I’m tempted to say “learning how to cook pizza” but I think the greatest thing was learning how to read, and being introduced to many great books.

Terry: I’m going say learning how to cook pizza then.

In your new book; IT FELL FROM THE SKY, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it.
It Fell From the Sky is about a strange object that falls into a garden one day. It’s an ordinary toy marble, but to the insects of the garden it’s a wonderful mystery. Each of them speculates about its origins and what it is, but it’s the spider who sees the potential to profit from it. He claims the marble as his own and begins to exhibit it and charge admission. In doing so, he eventually alienates his community and ultimately discovers that sharing is more rewarding than selfish materialism.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
We hope it offers readers some insight into the idea of materialism, and where we derive lasting happiness. We didn’t want the story to be didactic, but we did want to challenge the idea that happiness comes from endlessly acquiring material things or wealth. Ultimately, happiness comes from the relationships we build, along with a sense of purpose and meaning in life; that’s really the underlying theme of the book.

Did you learn anything from writing IT FELL FROM THE SKY and what was it?
Eric:
I’ve always been something of a collector - in fact, Terry and I both collected vintage marbles when we were younger – and I think the spider’s journey in the story gave me some insight into my own marble collecting, and how it ultimately lost some of its magic. As we learned more about the different kinds of marbles, and started coveting the rarer and more valuable ones, some of the enjoyment began to fade. What started as a purely aesthetic journey – finding a sea glass marble washed up on the shore, or an interesting marble for ten cents in an antique store – became something else. Soon it was all about rarity and value, and that’s when we both stopped collecting; the simple joy of seeing them as humble but beautiful objects was gone.

Terry: Eric summed that up nicely. I think we all have a little bit of the Spider in us.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Eric:
I would like to introduce William from The Night Gardener to Oliver from Oliver Twist. I loved reading Oliver Twist when I was younger, and it might be one of the reasons we made William an orphan in our book, so I like to think that they would strike up a friendship and both feel a little less alone in the world.

Terry: I’d like to introduce Spider from It Fell From The Sky to the Grinch from How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss. I have a feeling they would be best of friends.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
Eric:
When I was still in grade school we moved to Australia for a year. I was upset at the time, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience. When you move to a different country, you see the world in an entirely new way. The same thing happened when we visited our ancestral home in Taiwan years later. It’s one of the best things about traveling: seeing the world filtered through the lens of a different culture.

Terry: On one of our family trips to Hawai’i, we took a hike along the Manoa Falls Trail in Hawai’i. It’s a winding trail through dense, tropical vegetation, leading to a spectacular 150 ft. waterfall. There was a light, misty rain throughout the whole hike, which created a lot of mud along the trail. I was only wearing flip-flops, which were soon lost in the mud. So, I did the entire hike in my bare feet and felt like Mowgli from The Jungle Book. When we finally made it to the waterfall, it was a glorious moment. There’s a pool below the waterfall, and of course, we all jumped into it. I learned later that swimming in the pool below is highly discouraged because there is a threat of becoming infected with Leptospirosis. This disease causes mild to moderate flu-like symptoms that can last for up to 1 to 2 weeks. Anyway, luckily none of us got sick!

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Eric:
In terms of general advice, I guess it would be to not let fear or doubt limit your potential. It’s easy to get stalled in life when you give-in to negativity or self-doubt.

Terry: The most seemingly reckless decision of my life was quitting my day job in my late-forties to pursue art full time. It was also the best decision I ever made and led to things I could never have imagined, including a career in picture books. That one impulsive decision upended the entire trajectory of my life, and my only regret is that I didn’t quit sooner. So, be brave. Life can be full of surprises, but it needs a little help sometimes.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
Eric:
The effortless access to wonder, which becomes more difficult to reach as you get older. When you’re a kid everything is new and there is so much left to discover. Part of staying “young at heart” is finding new things to excited and astonished by.

Terry: That’s too difficult to answer, because I miss everything about being a kid.

What is your greatest adventure?
Eric:
Probably my current adventure as a picture book author and illustrator. It was always my dream to have a book published, and I wake up every day now amazed and grateful that that dream actually came true.

Terry: Yes, I can’t think of a more incredible adventure than everything that’s happened in the past ten years or so.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?
Eric:
My favorite book as a child, which was also the first book that had a profound impact on me, was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The moment when the walls of Max’s bedroom dissolve, giving him access to the magical world of his imagination, was the moment I realized how transporting and powerful a book could be.

Terry: That was also my favorite picture book, for the same reasons. It had such a magical, mysterious quality and acted as a springboard for my young imagination.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
Eric:
Aesthetically, there’s a lot to be said for any decade closer to the turn of the century; I like top hats, and horse-drawn carriages, and lamp light. Unfortunately, there are so many negatives associated those decades (in terms of medical advances and social equity) that I don’t think I’d actually like to grow up in any of them. We grew up in the 60s and 70s, which had some downsides of their own, but as far as childhood goes, we didn’t have cell phones or other modern distractions, so it forced us to engage with our imaginations, which might have played a part in us becoming storytellers, so I guess I’ll stick with those decades.

Terry: I’ll stick to those decades too. It was a wonderful time for me, and I have so many great memories from both the 60s and 70s.

TEN FAVORITE BOOOKS READ THIS YEAR
Eric: Since this is a book blog, I’ll go with “Ten Favorite Books Read This Year”. I’ll let Terry handle the interview prompt. In no particular order:
  • 1) Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
  • 2) Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan
  • 3) The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster, by Cary Fagan
  • 4) The Bloom Trilogy, by Kenneth Oppel
  • 5) The Blue House, by Phoebe Wahl
  • 6) Dune, by Frank Herbert
  • 7) Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica Lee
  • 8) Stanley Kubrick, by David Mikics
  • 9) The Marvels, by Brian Selznick
  • 10) Telephone Tales, by Gianni Rodari, illustrated by Valerio Vidali
 Your journey to publication
Terry: I'll choose “my favorite quote/scene from It Fell From The Sky, which is the scene where Spider is gazing up at the stars.

“The night, as it sometimes does, shared a secret. He gazed up at the sky, and the stars shone down. They didn’t hide their light from anyone. Not even a selfish Spider. He knew what he needed to do.”

The stars share their beauty with everyone, not expecting anything in return. So, Spider has an epiphany and realizes what he must do, which is to share any future discoveries with the rest of the insects, free of charge this time. It’s such a pivotal moment in the book, and visually it’s also one of my favorite scenes because it has so much drama and poignancy.



From the creators of the critically acclaimed The Night Gardener and Ocean Meets Sky comes a whimsical and elegantly illustrated picture book about community, art, the importance of giving back—and the wonder that fell from the sky.

It fell from the sky on a Thursday.

None of the insects know where it came from, or what it is. Some say it’s an egg. Others, a gumdrop. But whatever it is, it fell near Spider’s house, so he’s convinced it belongs to him.

Spider builds a wonderous display so that insects from far and wide can come look at the marvel. Spider has their best interests at heart. So what if he has to charge a small fee? So what if the lines are long? So what if no one can even see the wonder anymore?

But what will Spider do after everyone stops showing up?


You can purchase It Fell from the Sky at the following Retailers:
        

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Thank you THE FAN BROTHERS for making this giveaway possible.
4 Winner will receive a Copy of It Fell from the Sky by The Fan Brothers.

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The Clearing by Tom Deady




ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09BYX63QX
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vesuvian Books (August 10, 2021)
Publication date ‏ : ‎ August 10, 2021
Language ‏ : ‎ English 

Praise for THE CLEARING

“Downright creepy. Tom Deady brings the scares in this gripping novel of horror and courage.” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author

“Tom Deady excels in creating a history and mystery that is engaging and action-packed. The Clearing's strong protagonists and their realistic concerns, beliefs, and choices creates a memorable and thoroughly engrossing read that is difficult to put down and impossible to predict—just the ticket for a superior horror novel and should ideally reach into adult reader circles, as well as mature teens.” —Midwest Book Review

“Deady shows an ability to switch from adult to young adult horror with the ease and confidence of a true wordsmith. The Clearing is a fast-paced supernatural tale, intelligent and sparkling with great characters, and more than a few chills. Superb.” —Dave Jeffery, author of Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt and Ship of Shadows


When Hannah Green’s dog comes out of the woods carrying a sneaker that contains a partially decomposed foot, she thinks it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to her.

She is wrong.

Hannah and her best friend, Ashley, decide to play detective but find themselves in the middle of a decades-old mystery.

What is the strange old woman Mama Bayole hiding in her decrepit farmhouse? Why is the local librarian so determined to prevent them from researching town history? Who is following them around Hopedale, New Hampshire?

The girls make a shocking discovery about what has been happening in the woods behind Hannah's house. As they get closer to the truth, things take a dangerous turn, and they play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that may end up costing them their lives.
You can purchase The Clearing at the following Retailers:
        

Photo Content from Tom Deady

Tom Deady’s first novel, Haven, was published by Cemetery Dance in 2016 and won the Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. He has since published a novel entitled, Eternal Darkness, as well as several short stories and novellas, his most recent being Coleridge.

His novel, The Clearing, is book one in a horror trilogy and inspired by true events. (Vesuvian Books, 2021) Tom holds a master’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University, is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a member of the New England Horror Writers. He resides in Massachusetts where he is working on his next novel.
        

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