Sunday 28 January 2018

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Beatrice Fishback

I hope you're enjoying this feature as much as I am. Ever since I've been in a Facebook group called Book Connectors I've 'met' so many new to me authors and there's probably still lots more that I don't know. Today's author is one of those 'new to me' authors and she may well be to you too so I'm delighted to introduce you all to Beatrice Fishback and welcome her to The Hippo.

Photo courtesy of Beatrice Fishback

Beatrice Fishback, originally from upstate New York, lived in the East Anglian area of Great Britain for over twenty years and traveled extensively in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. She is the author of Bethel Manor and Bethel Manor Reborn, Dying to Eat at the Pub, Loving Your Military Man by FamilyLife Publishing and, with her husband Jim, is the co-author of Defending the Military Marriage and Defending the Military Family. She has been published in various compilations, magazines and online websites. She and her husband have spoken to audiences worldwide and currently reside in North Carolina where scones are called biscuits and are topped with gravy, and tea that is served over ice.

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Winter Wonderland is the latest book from Beatrice and here's a bit more about it.

A gruesome murder was inevitable, but how the death would unfold would be anyone’s guess. And the murderer’s identity? That would remain a mystery until the appropriate time…

Meet Daisy McFarland, an American spinster who has retired to England after teaching elementary school for thirty years. An aspiring novelist, Daisy looks forward to attending the Crime Writer’s Conference in Branick for the third year in a row.

The winter gathering provides a great excuse for Daisy to escape being alone and keep holiday blues away. It also gives her a chance to meet new people and reconnect with several British friends. Their lively spirits and enjoyment of a glass of wine spark Daisy’s creative juices—especially after she’s enjoyed a few drinks.

Teachers at the event are regular contributors, all specialists in law enforcement, forensics, crime scene photography, or pharmaceutical drugs. With such an intriguing lineup of classes, Daisy can scarcely choose which ones to attend.

Bitter weather keeps attendees indoors. But after a night of wine, joviality, and juicy gossip, a jaunt outside is exactly what Daisy needs to get her blood flowing. Much to her horror, she soon discovers that blood is also flowing in the lake.

Daisy had come to the conference to write about murder, not discover one. Who was the dead person floating facedown in the murky water, and who among them could have murdered this unfortunate victim?

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Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Not really. I think my own name is quite classy. After all, Beatrice is a princess’s name, and who can forget Fishback? But I understand why others use pseudonyms especially if they write different genres.

What other authors are you friends with and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have two rather well known author friends: Brian Haig, writer of the thriller series that star Sean Drummond; and Sandra Byrd, historic romance author. Sandra was my writing mentor for a year and I learned a great deal under her tutelage. Brian is a longtime friend and willingly read one of my manuscripts and gave invaluable, professional insights. Both have written short blurbs for my book covers. Their comments gave a boost to my confidence as a writer and are reminders that should I ever become a well-known author, I will do the same for others. Also, I have three critique partners who are published authors and we offer advice to one another and are each other’s cheerleaders when we are feeling downhearted. Having other authors who are willing to be honest and upfront is a huge asset. I can’t imagine my writing world without them.

Do you often hear from your readers and what do they say?
When I hear from readers that aren’t relatives or close friends, exhilarating emotional fireworks go off, and I dance a jig, especially when they connect on an emotional level with my characters. What writer doesn’t want feedback from their readers to get honest, and hopefully, encouraging advice? I am especially chuffed that as an American who writes historic romance set in Great Britain audiences from both sides of the pond can appreciate the stories. Some of the comments I have received haven’t necessarily been positive but getting suggestions on how to improve my work is also a great help. I want the next story I write to be a hundred times better than the last. But authors must be able to discern useful advice from harsh, unnecessary criticism. I have learned along the way that not everyone will enjoy what I write, and that is totally fine. That’s why we have such an amazing, diverse world of books. Everyone can choose a favorite genre/author and perhaps in the process one of mine will become someone’s latest best-loved book.

What’s your favourite motivational phrase?
Never give up. Winston Churchill’s well-known quote: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy…” As a writer, the enemy in our mind sometimes tries to convince us that our work with words is worthless. Writers must never give in to the enemy of discouragement but face the battle with pen in hand and conviction in their hearts. Someone may need to read what another writes in order to make it through another day. What better motivation is there?

What advice would you give your younger self?
Why in the world would you do something so stupid? Next time, think first!
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc come from?
As a child, before nodding off at night, I would ask my sister to tell me stories. She had a vivid imagination, and her words would soon lull me to sleep. Also, our mom was an avid reader and encouraged us by her example. She especially loved Agatha Christie. My sister and I became avid readers of the Nancy Drew series, and the author Victoria Holt. So I have to give my sister, and mother the credit for creating a reader/listener in my younger self. Writing came much later but it’s no small coincidence that I love to write cozy mysteries in line with Agatha, and historic romances as did Victoria Holt.

If a genie granted you three wishes what would they be?
I would ask to be so inspired in my next novel that it would garner the attention of a much wider reading audience—could a genie actually help my next book make the New York Times Bestseller list? Second, that my mind would never, ever stop creating new places and captivating characters for others to enjoy. Third, that I would never, ever lose the gift of laughter and enjoyment in life and with words.

If you were a superhero what would you be called, what would your super-power be and what would you wear?
If I were a superhero, I would be called The Great Aunt Bea (not original as my nieces and nephews already call me that 🙂). I would wear goofy glasses, black and yellow striped spandex and my power would be flying by the seat of my pants (which is what I usually do when I’m writing 🙂 )

You can find out more about Beatrice, her books and connect with her using the links below:

I'd like to thank Beatrice for stopping by today and answering my questions, it's been great fun getting to know you.

Saturday 27 January 2018

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Alison Brodie

Today I'm so excited to be hanging out with Alison Brodie, author of Zenka, which I'm hugely embarrassed to reveal I still haven't read. I'll be heading off to naughty corner, with my tail firmly between my legs when I'm done chatting to Alison though!

If you haven't heard of Alison Brodie, where have you been? This woman has been everywhere lately talking about her latest book Zenka and everyone I know who has read it tells me that it's fantastic, which is another reason why I need to get reading it. Anyway I digress, let me introduce you all to this fabulous and very funny lady.

Photo courtesy of Alison Brodie

Alison Brodie is a writer and animal rights activist.  Her books have been published by Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Heyne (Germany) and Unieboek (Holland).

Alison has now gone indie.  Here are some editorial reviews for her recent books: 

BRAKE FAILURE:  “Masterpiece of humor” –Midwest Book Review

THE DOUBLE:   “Proof of her genius in writing fiction” -San Francisco Book Review.

ZENKA has been chosen as a “Top Read of 2017”  by Being Anne, Ali the Dragon Slayer, Dash Fan Reviews, Lauren Sapala (WriteCity), and Wall-to-Wall Books.

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Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
All the time.  My name is boring.  As an author I need a memorable name to grab a reader’s attention, a name such as Donna Trump, Charlie Dickens, or Fluffy Winters

Do you often hear from your readers and what do they say?
When my debut was released (Face to Face) this girl came up to me outside the local village shop and grabbed my wrist hard enough to snap it and with eyes like saucers she whispered:  “I loved it!”  I didn’t know what she was talking about.  (My first fan!  And all I wanted to do was run away from her shouting “POLICE!”)

What’s your favourite motivational phrase?
“Get through the day and have a Guinness.”

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc come from?
Hell if I know.  I’m a Scot, and Celts tend to be creative. 

If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be and why? What would you get up to?
I would spend time with Beth (“The Double”) on the Kazka.  Just the two of us on the billionaire’s yacht, dressed in tiaras and designer bikinis, lazing in the pool and giving orders to the Russian stewards for more champagne.  But then I wouldn’t want to be her when the stalker gets her.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
I wouldn’t call it talent but I can’t stand injustice or people not helping others.  I’m always the first to help someone in the street, and I’m always picking up stray dogs from the side of the road (and boy! there’s a lot of strays in France!)

Photo found on Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project

If a genie granted you three wishes what would they be?
That everybody on the planet will be happy.  That everybody will care about all the animals we share the planet with.  And that the sodding plumber will get off his fat French butt and fix my leaking tap.

If you were a superhero what would you be called, what would your super-power be and what would you wear?
I would be called Pussy Aplenty.  I would be dressed as a cat, in a skin-tight costume (after I’ve had liposuction).   My super-power would be that I can just point at a room and it would miraculously clean itself.  My arch enemy would be Michael Fassbender and we would wrestle each other, mostly on the carpet.  My super-hero-buddy would be Bradley Cooper and he would come and save me and fly me off to his lair where he would ….  (You can guess the rest).

I'm really not sure why you would choose Mr Fassbender to be your arch enemy, but hey, while you're busy with Bradley Cooper. . . . . . 😉 😂

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A Comedy Noir set in gangland London

When mob boss, Jack Murray, saves Zenka’s life she vows to become his guardian angel, whether he likes it or not.  Happily, she now has access to shotguns, pistols and knuckledusters. 
But Jack doesn’t need her to go around murdering his enemies.  He wants her to toughen up his son, Nicholas, a mild-mannered community nurse whose patients call him an “angel”.  

 Zenka takes charge. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts she will bring out the gorilla in Nicholas. Her tactics are unusual, and illegal, and things soon start to spiral out of control.

“Don’t vorry, Jack. Ven I am finished vith Nicholas he vill be dog’s bollocks just like his papa” –Zenka

Zenka is currently available to download for just 99p.

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You can find out more about Alison, her books and connect with her using the links below:

I'd like to thank Alison for taking the time to stop by and chat with me today. It's always a pleasure having you here and I promise to quietly sneak Zenka into my schedule, but don't tell anyone ok! 😉