Cover Reveal – Before We Fall

Woohoo! Loving the cover of my next book, what do you think…???Before We Fall

When quiet Cally, an amateur ballet dancer, is diagnosed with cancer she runs away from her boyfriend Liam, her job in a call centre and her safe life in Wildham – in order to experience ‘real’ life in London. Taking a job as a stripper and flat-sitting in the top of an office tower she meets her obnoxious neighbour Bay; a tattooed, drug-taking, suicidal artist, haunted by the death of those close to him. Despite their differences, the two strike up a friendship – Bay pushes Cally to try new things while Cally provides Bay with a muse – and they fall in love. But their secrets threaten to tear them apart and time is running out…

Before We Fall, a standalone novel and the second book in The Wildham Series, will be published in both e-book on 9th August and in paperback on 16th August 2018 and is already available to pre-order online here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07D2CC9ST

A huge thank you to the team at Accent Press for all their hard work 😊

Taking Risks With Your Writing

When I wrote my first novel it was purely for my own pleasure. I had no intention of letting anyone else read it, no concerns about fitting into a genre or potential marketability and certainly no expectations of getting published. I wrote because a story had sprung up in my imagination, the characters wouldn’t stop talking, and I needed to get it all out of my head! No one was more surprised than me when, following an author-friend’s recommendation, I was offered a publishing contract. I still consider it a wonderfully brave decision on the part of Accent Press.
Taking Risks With Your WritingKindred Hearts is ostensibly an erotic romance novel – the story of a woman in love with her best friend’s brother – but that’s not all it is. At the time I created it, I had not read much in that genre, and with hindsight I think that afforded me a certain amount of freedom – to tell a story not guided by the usual ‘rules’ of romance. For anyone who hasn’t read the book, I won’t give too much away, but there is a third character, the protagonist’s best friend, who has equal, if not more prominence, than her brother, the male lead. Her name is Celeste.
Neither heroine nor villain, Celeste is attention-seeking, damaged and refuses to be sidelined, and yet, several years on, she remains one of my all-time favourite characters. But Kindred Hearts isn’t for everyone – the writing is raw, the sex scenes are graphic and the ending isn’t so much ‘happy’ as ‘bitter sweet’. So, where to go from there?
Ideas bookcaseHaving accidentally dipped my toe into the world of book publishing and inadvertently joined a vast online community of bookaholics and authors, I quickly gained a far greater understanding of the benefits of writing stories with potential readers in mind, and of sticking to genre. As a reader myself I appreciate having certain expectations fulfilled by a book – when real life is turbulent there is temporary comfort and reassurance to be found by escaping into a fictional love story, secure in the knowledge that you will be rewarded with a Happy Ever After. From a practical and financial standpoint it is also far easier to market a book to the right readers, if the genre is clearly defined – it’s common sense.
Wildham SeriesArmed with this new awareness and with a potential audience firmly in mind, I sat down to write a series of three new novels. And I am pleased with result, proud of the Wildham Series and excited to have people read these books, despite my characters persistently rebelling as I wrote them. Ultimately I have to write the stories I want to write, and these latest works, though romantic, seem to dance under the umbrella of Contemporary Women’s Fiction, due to the heavy themes involved. What can I say? I like a bit of grit to my fictional relationships – a dash of darkness to better emphasise the light – and I’ll always be a sucker for a juicy twist.
At the time of writing this, only Safe With Me, the first book of the series has been released, with the next, Before We Fall, due out in August, but I’m delighted to report that so far most of my readers’ feedback has been positive. I fully admit that I am still finding my feet as an author, but enjoying the process immensely. So do I regret the raw honesty of my debut novel?
Kindred Hearts, blue shelfNo. Sure it could do with a little polishing, and it will probably never make me rich, but I remain proud of it’s originality and like to think of it as the rough diamond in my collection – the black sheep if you will – full of glamour and sweet longing and skating dangerously close to taboo. My first, wayward, child.
Are you a writer? Have you written a story that colours outside the lines? If so how do you feel about it? And if you are a reader looking for something a bit different, maybe give Kindred Hearts a try and let me know what you think! 😉

Playlist – Safe With Me

Kat, the heroine in Safe With Me, has suffered a tough existence – from being abandoned as a child and raised in foster homes, to life as a virtual slave to her husband. But Kat has an irrepressible spirit, a big heart and stubbornly clings to her love for Jamie, a small boy she once knew.
Nothing expresses Kat’s natural warmth and determination, nor complements her passion for dancing with abandon, more than her uplifting taste in music.KatBelow is a short playlist of the songs referred to in the book, which can also be found here on spotify:

Don’t Stop The Music – Rihanna
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Gravity – DJ Fresh, Ella Eyre
Real Love – Clean Bandit, Jess Glynne
Lost & Not Found – Chase & Status, Louis Mattrs
Slam – Pendulum
Highway To Hell – AC/DC

Have a read, have a listen, have a dance – and let me know what you think!Safe With Me - Kat

Ten Favourite TV Romances

With the evenings getting colder and bleaker and Christmas fast approaching, tis the season to stay in, wrap presents, drink mulled wine, eat mince pies and binge watch TV. Those of you with a jam-packed social calendar need not read on, but if, like me, you spend most evenings snuggled at home and are craving a little romance, I have a few suggestions for you.

When I’m not working, writing or reading books, I watch quite a range of TV shows; mainly fictional drama series’ (not reality shows or soaps) featuring anything from detectives to zombies. Some of my favourites include: Breaking Bad, The Fall, Inspector Montalbano, Happy Valley, This Is Us, Vikings, The Walking Dead, Orphan Black, Fargo etc. all of which I’d recommend. However, most of these productions are not known for their romantic storylines, and since I write Women’s Fiction, and mainly Romance, I have come up with a list of ten favourite shows which do contain love stories that inspire me (please note that I’ve deliberately omitted Pride and Prejudice and Friends from the list for being too obvious).

Ten Favourite TV RomancesPersonally I am drawn to relationships with an unusual quirk to them, a sinister edge or a tragic undercurrent – traits that I try to bring to my own books – so if that appeals to you too, maybe you’ll find a show worth trying here. (They are listed alphabetically, because that was easier than trying to order them by preference):

Battlestar Galactica (2004)Battlestar Galactica

There can’t be many female leads cooler than hotshot viper pilot Lieutenant Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace. In this American military sci-fi series set in space, life is tough and dangerous and Starbuck is both heroic and deeply flawed. The plot is gripping and although Starbuck and Apollo (Captain Lee Adama), her almost brother-in-law, are often too busy in conflict to acknowledge the deeply-rooted affection and sexual tension between them, it simmers deliciously throughout.

FireflyFirefly

Sadly this futuristic, space western was curtailed after just one season, but pressure from fans resulted in a feature film, Serenity, which helped tie up some of the loose ends. The banter and sexual tension between proud Captain Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds and Inara, an equally proud, high-class escort, creates an interesting dynamic. But it is the touching relationship between Mal’s second-in-command, Zoe and her husband, their pilot, Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne, which really stayed with me. Zoe is a seasoned fighter – a warrior woman – and the interaction between her and her adorably soppy husband, is both amusing and deeply romantic.

FringeFringe

A Science fiction series exploring parallel universes, this show shares similarities with The X-Files, but I found the developing relationship between Agent Olivia Dunham and Dr Bishop’s estranged son, Peter, more satisfying than that between Mulder and Scully. I have long been a fan of Joshua Jackson (who plays Peter) and I’m a sucker for a romance between two people who first meet in childhood and then reconnect years later as adults (see my first two novels Kindred Hearts and Safe With Me). Unfortunately I feel the plot lost its way a bit in the fifth and final series, but don’t let that put you off.

LutherLuther

Though I’m not sure it technically counts as romance, a powerful attraction of some kind definitely brews between sexy Detective John Luther (Idris Elba) and supremely intelligent psychopathic murderer, Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson). Alice manages to be both an arch-nemesis and a friend to Luther and while she makes no secret of her fondness for him, as a man of the law he struggles with who she is and what she does. It’s addictively fascinating and I really hope there is a series five to come.

OutlanderOutlander

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the books that this TV show is based on, and I would recommend that you read Diana Gabaldon’s epic written works before watching the dramatisation if you can (Outlander features in my Ten Favourite Book Romances list). That said, the production team have made an excellent job of condensing the books down into screen format – in my opinion the casting is brilliant, the acting is above average for TV and the minor changes and embellishments they have made to the story are definite improvements. I could gush about the actor who plays Jamie Fraser but I will refrain and let you check out Sam Heughan for yourself.

Sex and the CitySex and the City

There are several reasons to watch this show – the contrasting four main women and the enduring friendship between them; the amazing fashions; the funny dating stories etc., but for me it has to be the epic on-off relationship between Carrie Bradshaw and her ‘Mr Big’ (whom, incidently, is played by Chris Noth, the same actor who plays Peter Florrick in The Good Wife below). The saga is a long one (spanning six seasons and two feature films) with many ups and downs, but the magnetic pull between the two characters is undeniable.

The Good WifeThe Good Wife

A courtroom drama full of litigation and American politics, this show is not heavy on romance, however, the subtle chemistry between the State’s Attorney’s wife – protagonist Alicia Florrick – and her lawyer boss and old college friend, Will Gardner, had me hooked. Despite her husband Peter’s public sex scandal and stint in prison, Alicia decides to stand by him, partly for the sake of her children. But she is a smart, independent, working mother, and he did betray her, while Will is giving her a second chance at a career of her own, when she needs it most. Alicia and Will try to ignore the attraction between them, but as a viewer you know it is there and I couldn’t help rooting for them to get together. If you do watch this for the romance, just be warned, you’re in for a shock in season five.

The OAThe OA

This supernatural/sci-fi series tells the story of a group of people who have been held prisoner for seven years, in glass cages underground, by a scientist who experiments on them. There is more to it than that, but I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t seen it. Prairie, the protagonist is one of these captives and over the years falls in love with Homer; the guy in the cell next to her. There is no overt ‘romance’ in this series (not in the first season anyway, I still have hopes for the second) but I’m fascinated by this idea of forming a relationship with someone while you are trapped together in very close quarters; sleeping next to each other every night, for several years – denied all privacy and freedom and unable to escape each other – and yet constantly, physically separated by a pane of glass. I think the tension and intensity of emotion created by eliminating the sense of touch between two people in love, holds potential for great romance.

True BloodTrue Blood

A must see for vampire fans this supernatural series is far grittier than The Vampire Diaries and rich with gore and dark humour. I found the chemistry between Sooky and Eric more interesting and convincing than the romance between Sooky and Bill, and again I preferred the earlier seasons to the latter ones, but overall worth a watch.

VictoriaVictoria

The enduring love between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is legendary and notable because historically royal marriages tended to be arranged purely for political convenience with no consideration given to love. This sumptuous period production dramatises both the romance and the conflict in the couple’s relationship and appeals all the more to me, for being based on real British history.

So, what’s your favourite TV romance? Drop me a line, I’d love to know.

Using Undercurrents to Lift a Story

What do I mean by undercurrents? I write women’s fiction, mainly romance, so each story has an exploration of love at its core and the promise of a Happy Ever After at its end. But I want each book to have its own unique sense of atmosphere – that almost intangible, often emotional, awareness that stays with you long after you have finished the book. While this is created by a number of different factors, such as the plot, the style of writing, the setting, the personalities of the characters, the weather and so on, there is a subtler tool that you can also employ.threadsMost people refer to this as a motif: imagery or symbolism that is repeated throughout a narrative. I call it an undercurrent because of the way it weaves and threads its way through a story, like a secret message, often hinting at something sinister or unexpected to come.undercurrentsFor example in Kindred Hearts, the undercurrent I chose was water – not the refreshing, life-giving aspect of the element, but rather the lurking, conductive, slippery power of water and its potential threat. Near the start of the book my characters are innocently playing in the water as children, but as the story progresses the water resurfaces, several times and with varying degrees of menace – like waves eating away at sand – right through to the epilogue. It isn’t a theme I expect a reader to consciously pick up on, but my hope is that it underpins the atmosphere and helps tie the story together.

seedlingsSo what other motifs tease a reader’s subconscious? Aside from the remaining three elements (earth, air and fire), there are an unlimited variety of objects, actions, sounds, colours and phrases that can be employed as symbols. For instance in Safe With Me I use plants to echo my main characters’ struggle to put down roots and grow, and in the second book of my Wildham series, Before We Fall (due to be published August 2018) I use the colour scarlet to hint at blood, sex and death.scarlet motifThere is often more than one undercurrent running through a story, and if you are a writer you may find that they develop naturally through your writing anyway, but I suspect the key is to be both subtle and consistent.

Which undercurrents run through your favourite book?

Secret Garden – Vanessa Conyers

Vanessa ConyersFor Christmas my wonderful sister gave me a beautiful gift – a small vase designed by ceramic artist, Vanessa Conyers. The vase, a part of her Secret Garden range, is so lovely and so perfectly fits with my idea of Natural Romance that I had to share it with you.

Secret Garden Vase

The original ‘devilishly delicate’ collection… A magical meadow where bunnies bounce and stags bellow under a molten sky…

Standing at just 8.4cm tall and 6.3cm in diameter this vessel is modestly-sized with a soft, slouching, overlapping shape – as if composed of fabric rather than finely-rolled clay. The exterior draws inspiration from nature and is lavished with a lustrous design of rose blooms and gold-flecked grass, while the interior is patterned with blue lace to striking effect. For me this vase perfectly bridges the divide between traditional and contemporary styles and lends a subtle, but glamorous, edge to my bedroom dresser.

Secret Garden InteriorDo you have a favourite piece of ceramic?

Cover Reveal – Safe With Me

I’m absolutely delighted to be able to share the brand new cover for my latest book with you – I think you’ll agree Accent Press have done me proud!

Safe With Me by Grace Lowrie

An emotional and evocative story about the deepest bonds of friendship.
Abandoned as children, Kat and Jamie were inseparable growing up in foster care. But their bond couldn’t protect them forever.
From a troubled upbringing to working in a London greasy spoon, Kat’s life has never been easy. On the surface Jamie’s living the high-life, but appearances can be deceiving.
When they unexpectedly reunite, the bond they share becomes too intense to ignore. But as secrets come back to haunt them, are they destined to be separated once more?
Perfect for fans of Hilary Boyd and Nicholas Sparks.

Safe With Me, a standalone novel and the first in The Wildham Series, will be published in both paperback and e-book on 22nd June 2017 – in time for the summer holidays – and is already available to pre-order online here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071F2QZB7

A massive thank you to the team at Accent Press for all their hard work in bringing this book to life!

Ten Favourite Book Romances

I enjoy reading a wide range of fiction in a variety of different genres and my favourite authors range from Iain Banks to Sarah Waters; Chuck Palanhiuk to George R.R. Martin; and Kate Atkinson to Stieg Larsson. But I write Women’s Fiction and mainly Romance so I’ve come up with a list of ten favourites.10 Fave Book RomancesWhile not all are classed as ‘Romances’ these books contain love stories that inspire me. I am drawn to those with an unusual quirk to them, a sinister edge or a tragic undercurrent – traits that I try to bring to my own work. To narrow down the selection I’ve excluded fave classics such as Pride and Prejudice, and focused on those published within my lifetime. (The list is arranged alphabetically, because that was easier than trying to order them by preference).

Archers_VoiceArcher’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

Archer Hale, the tortured male lead in this story, is both original and beautifully compelling and the main reason this book made such an impression on me. Bree Prescott is a girl with her own problems, but has the right combination of skill and determination, to draw Archer out of his shell.

AtonementAtonement by Ian McEwan

A masterfully written book, by one of my favourite authors, which starts in 1935 and takes us on through the Second World War. The potential relationship between Cecilia and Robbie, is witnessed second-hand through the eyes of Cecilia’s younger sister Briony, and yet it is as romantic, powerful and moving as any I’ve ever read.

ControlControl by Charlotte Stein

I’m a huge fan of this author’s work – she has a distinctive, almost neurotic style of writing, which quickly becomes addictive. This is the story of a woman torn between two, very different, potential lovers and the book is both erotically charged and laugh-out-loud funny in places. I can’t recommend it enough.

Gabriels_InfernoGabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

For those who like a bit of taboo, this explores the relationship between a university professor and his student, and has a deliciously Gothic feel; woven out of literary themes of sin, hell and spiritual love. I must admit I didn’t enjoy the second book in this series as much, but I highly recommend this first one.

Night_OwlNight Owl by M. Pierce

This book also features an enigmatic male lead, in the form of reclusive writer Matt Sky, who is as bold and darkly intriguing as he is secretive. This book is the first in a trilogy, and although I’ve yet to read the third, I definitely recommend the first two.

One_DayOne Day by David Nicholls

The quirk of this book is how it cleverly follows the relationship between two people over twenty years, but only on the same day of each year. The characters of Emma and Dexter are brilliantly written and believable and the story moved me to tears.

On_The_IslandOn The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

The enduring appeal of this gem of a book for me, aside from the main characters being stranded together on a desert island, is the unusual dynamic between the two – Anna is thirteen years older than TJ and was due to be his tutor before they found themselves marooned. But as they struggle to survive, with only each other to rely on, the years pass and their relationship strengthens and deepens.

OutlanderOutlander by Diana Gabaldon

A gripping time-slip novel set in rugged Scotland. Claire, the heroine, is feisty and determined, and Jamie Fraser – a true hero in every sense of the word – is perhaps my favourite leading male character of all time. I don’t usually choose to read historical novels, generally preferring a contemporary atmosphere, but I am in awe of this author’s epic work and am currently reading the eighth book in this phenomenal series.

The_Bridges_Of_Madison_CountyThe Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

I first devoured this book, in one sitting, when I was just a teenager and I have never forgotten it. The poignant story of two people who meet and have a brief tender affair in middle age, is as memorable for its quietly beautiful setting, as it is for the fact it made me cry.

The_Time_Travelers_WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

An enduring favourite and one of those books that really made me want to write. Henry is a sporadic time traveller but with no control over his ability, which often leads him to some dark places. The journey of Clare and Henry’s unusual relationship (she has known him since she was a child) is deeply emotional and told from both points of view.

What are your ten favourite book romances?

Natural Romance

While trying to decide what to blog about, I brainstormed a list of random things I liked – things that attracted and inspired me – without analysing or worrying about their importance or relevance as possible topics. So I was surprised to discover a common theme emerging – a sense; an overall tone – linking several of my passions. It seems my unconscious style choices, tastes and aesthetic preferences may not be as randomly scattered as I once assumed and I found myself asking:

What is this common thread, which helps to define me as me?

Girl at WoodsOf course I now have an urge to explore this idea – to name it – as if it’s a genre or flavour, or some kind of philosophy; as if by ordering and making sense of it, I might better understand myself. I’m calling it Natural Romance for now, until I come up with something better, but I don’t think it’s something unique to me; on the contrary I suspect that as a general concept it may well resonate with many other people, women in particular, but do let me know if you disagree. In a nutshell I’m drawn to nature and love and the crossover/interaction between the two.

When I say nature I’m mainly referring to plants (rather than animals or the elements) as that’s the aspect I’m most familiar with. I worked as a garden designer for many years and I am instinctively drawn to green spaces and the beauty of flowers. Humans have long tried to tame and control nature and while our gardens range from highly manicured Zen spaces to relaxed wild-flower meadows, and everything in between, nature’s gritty and optimistic spirit always finds a way to shine through.

Wild butterflyAnd when I refer to romance, I don’t mean a twee, cliched perfectionism, but rather the messy and often beautiful struggle of love in relationships.

Love struggleIt is this emotional mix of nature, love and hope that really appeals to me – especially when expressed through design. Over time I intend to blog about a variety of different topics that fall under this heading. But one of the most obvious examples must be the international style of Art Nouveau, defined in the Collins English Dictionary as follows:

A style of art and architecture of the 1890s, characterised by swelling sinuous outlines and stylised natural forms, such as flowers and leaves.

My mother has collected vintage decorative tiles of this period for years, so it was easy to be swayed by their beauty. It’s only now that I realise just why these 6×6 inch tiles appeal to me so much, and I wanted to share some of my favourites with you.

Art Nouveau Tiles CollageFor me these designs capture the essence of nature with a feminine sensuality that speaks of romance. So are you a fan of Art Nouveau? Perhaps you prefer the cleaner lines of the Art Deco style – there is often overlap between the two. Do let me know.