Today, we welcome to HQ, that lovely quartet, the New Romantics 4 - aka Lizzie Lamb, June Kearns, Adrienne Vaughan and Margaret Cullingford, who all successfully self-published their debut novels last year. Here, they share with us a little of their midsummer madness …Over to you, ladies… Lizzie June Adrienne Mags
Call Nurse Lizzie…
When I was writing Tall, Dark and Kilted I was looking for a plot strand, which would make brooding hero Ruairi Urquhart, revise his opinion of heroine Fliss Bagshawe. He is attracted to her, but views her with suspicion. But what could I choose? When I became a writer, everyone thought I’d write children’s books because of my teaching experience. But where would the fun be in that? I like to try new things and learn new skills. So, I hit upon having Fliss deliver a baby during a storm which had washed the bridge away and prevented the local doctor from getting through. However, never having given birth I wondered where I could gain the necessary skills and expertise to write a convincing scene? That’s where June Kearns (mother of five), her sister-in-law district nurse, and a box set of Call the Midwife came in handy. June answered my hundred and one questions about giving birth and then the rest was down to my imagination and the internet!! This was one of the sites I used. I really loved writing that chapter because it shows my hero’s caring side, my heroine’s steadfastness and allowed my imagination free rein. But the story doesn’t end there. I had a lovely email from a reader (a retired midwife) who read Tall Dark and Kilted and wanted to know where I’d undertaken my midwifery training. Apparently, she was impressed that my heroine knew not to cut the umbilical cord until it had stopped pulsing (roughly about 10 mins after birth, if you’re interested!) Sadly, I had to disillusion her but we have since become Facebook friends. Because of writing that scene I now know what to do – should such an emergency arise. Call Nurse Lizzie – and I do look rather cute in the uniform although my bike riding skills leave something to be desired.
Midsummer Day- June’s Birthday…
So there I am, squashed in the centre of a crowd all dancing to the beat, arms held high and waving, in a sort of cellophane pod thingy. A bubble of plastic is over our heads and on top, performers are jumping, bouncing, swimming, sliding. Suddenly, holes open up and they swoop down on harnesses and hoist some of the audience, (mercifully, not me!) up into the air. We’re at the Roundhouse in Camden for a much-too-big birthday celebration, arranged by the family – (‘too-big’ in the oh-crikey-am-I-really-that-old sense.) I should have been warned when I rang up for an extra ticket and a bored voice confirmed: ‘Yeah, it’s a standing-only event, loud music, some nudity and you may get wet.’ (Whaaat!) Fuerzebruta. It means brute force. (Oh, you’ll love it, Mum.) And there we all were, in the midst of frenzied drumming, dry ice, wind machines and ticker-tape blizzards. Necks cricked upwards as massive paddling pools with mermaids frolicking, almost touched our heads. It was wow: it was truly amazing, and I only once really felt my age, when trapped in the middle of a shifting herd, in complete darkness, I suddenly thought: Oh, help! What if there’s a fire?
Adrienne’s Midsummer Madness – What’s your name again?
It was a proper Pimms party, well-heeled people, laughing in the gardens of a Georgian house. I was introduced to a bosomy lady in a floral dress. “Are you local?” she asked, cut-glass accent. “No,” I replied, “you?” “Been here forever,” she said, looking at me intently. “Come far?” “Only across the border,” I assured. “That takes me back,” she said, eyes glazing, “nipped across the border a few times, at school in Ireland. Those were the days.” She sighed. “You look familiar though. What do you do again?” “I’m a novelist,” I tried. “Of course you are!” she exclaimed, “you write romantic suspense – gripping!” I wanted to kiss her. “That’s me. That’s what I write.” She started to wave. “Look who it is everyone… Marian Keyes.” Blank stares. “You know, the Irish authoress,” she continued. They cluttered towards me, asking, “What’s your new one called?” “The Hollow Heart.” (I’m dying inside!) Bosomy friend whips out a tablet; up pops my book on Amazon. “I’ve just downloaded her new book!” She twirls around with the iPad. “Send me the link.” “Download it for me,” call my new-found fans. “I’ve never met an author,” says another, “a shame you didn’t bring paperbacks; we’d love signed copies.” “I’m not Marian Keyes, you know,” I admitted. “Knew you were one of them though. You look a bit like Edna O’Brien. Anyone ever told you that?” asked my bosomy friend. “Or Maureen O’Hara, a bit like her too,” said another. “Didn’t she write Gone with the Wind?”
What could I say? I just grinned and had another sip of Pimms.
“Roll Out Those Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer” – Mags Cullingford
I’ve thought long and hard, couldn’t come up with anything LOL hilarious, but something diverting maybe. Monica Sommers in Last Bite of the Cherry (my 2012 debut). Calista Blake in Twins of a Gazelle (to be published this year), plus Lexie Neave in my third novel, all three women made euphoric by languorous summer days, become irrevocably embroiled with attractive men their reason dictates will cause them nothing but heartache. In the heat of the pine-scented Riviera, Monica commits herself to Will Ackroyd, under the spell of magical Ithaca, Calista fails to walk away from PJ Wood, and, despite her best efforts, Lexie falls in love with an impossible man called Forbes. Each woman, at some point, has the chance of escaping their thrall. Instead, as though seized by a kind of madness, they plunge in heart first. Online, in The Free Dictionary, Midsummer madness is defined as ‘foolish or extravagant behaviour supposed to occur during the summer’. Would Monica, Calista and Lexie have behaved more rationally in winter, I wonder. Then, there would have been no story. Writers too need a touch of midsummer madness don’t’cha think.
For more information about the authors and their novels, visit: http://www.newromantics4.com/