Splendid Q&A with Author Fiona Cummins

 

Fiona Banner

 

 

 

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Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. Rattle, her debut novel, which sold at auction across Europe, is published in the US by Kensington. It has also been optioned for a TV series with scripts penned by The Grudge screenwriter Stephen Susco. Fiona lives in Essex, England with her family.

 

 

 

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INTERVIEW – FIONA CUMMINS

 
Compare your career as a journalist and your career now as a novelist.
In some ways, they’re two sides of the same coin. After 12 years on the Daily Mirror, I’m used to meeting deadlines and being edited. Both jobs shine a light on stories that have emotional resonance.

 
But publishing works so slowly compared to newspapers. In my old job, I’d write a news story and within a few hours it would have been sub-edited, laid out and printed. My first novel was published twenty one months after I signed my deal.

 

 

 

Typewriter with Novel buttons, vintage

 

 

 

Tell us about the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course and why you decided to attend.

 
I heard SJ Watson (Before I Go To Sleep) talking about it on the radio and I loved the sound of it. It was expensive and I’d just left my job, so I was worried we couldn’t afford it, especially as I had no idea whether I could write a full-length manuscript. But it gave me permission to take myself seriously as a writer. I also learned the importance of finishing what you’ve started.

 

 

Do you feel like you know your own writing process now?

 
Not really. Every book has a different feel about it. Rattle took multiple drafts to get right while The Collector took one. My third novel – I literally finished it about two hours ago – is quite complex and will need some more work, I think. But I have approached each of them in the same way. I don’t plot, it’s much more of an organic process. I have a rough idea of the shape of the story and that’s it. I don’t tend to start writing until I know the first line, and often, the last.

 

 

 

Rattle book

 

 

 

In another interview you talked about talent.”Talent is all very well tenacity, self-belief, originality, and the ability to get the words on the page….” I love this definition of talent.

 
Describe your experience of tenacity and how this affects writers.

 
I think it’s about keeping the faith. Talent is important, but persistence is key. Novels are rejected for so many reasons, some of which have nothing to do with an ability to write well. An editor is unlikely to buy a book about a crime-fighting circus act if she bought one like it the week before. A literary agent might already have an author writing a novel about a crime-fighting circus act and wish to avoid a conflict of interest. The market may have seen several books featuring crime-fighting circus acts and have become saturated. The point is, we all need a healthy spoonful of good luck too, but if you give up, you won’t even get a chance to lick the spoon.

 

 

 

Kind leckt den Löffel ab

 

 

 

 

Describe your experience of self-belief before after publishing your books.

 
If you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else will. It takes a lot of discipline to sit in front of a computer and write every day, to keep writing and polishing and editing. What keeps us going? Faith that we can do it. But not blind faith. It’s important to listen too. If your manuscript has been rejected by multiple agents multiple times, perhaps it’s time to think very carefully about where you might be going wrong and the best way to fix it.

 

 

 

Describe your experience of originality and how it can benefit writers.

 
Publishers are always looking for fresh voices, for the Next Big Thing. I enjoy books that do things a little differently, that have a distinctive narrative voice or approach their stories from an interesting angle. I try to do this with my own writing too.

 

 

 

original red grungy vintage stamp

 

 

 

 

Have you ever wanted to quit writing?

 
Never. I’ve been frustrated when I can’t make my stupid brain match my vision for a book, I’ve been beset by self-doubt, I’ve ridden the emotional rollercoaster of rejection and disappointment but why would I ever want to quit the best job in the world? Someone is paying me to sit in bed, wearing my pajamas, drinking tea, eating biscuits and making stuff up. You’ll have to prise my laptop from my cold, dead fingers.

 

 

How important is it to “Keep going?”

 
This was a regular refrain throughout the Faber Academy course and weirdly, this had never occurred to me. I made the mistake of thinking that if the first chapter wasn’t right, the book wasn’t right. We were encouraged to keep writing. First drafts can be worked upon, and often, the end informs the beginning.

 

 

 

 

never give up try again keep going

 

 

 

 

 

What are you working on now?

 
I have just finished my third novel. It is set on an ordinary street but some of the residents of The Avenue hide some very dark secrets indeed.

 

 

 

 

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Fiona Cummins

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The Collector Fiona cummins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books & Blurbs: March 15, 2018

Books and Blurbs March 15

 

 

BOOK AND BLURBS MARCH 15, 2018

 

I know where you live Pat Young

 

 

 

Penny believes she’s being watched. Yet no one should know where she lives.

Penny seizes the chance of a new life for her family when her husband is offered a job in Europe.

At the airport they meet charming Sophie, fluent in French and looking for work as an au pair. Penny, struggling to cope in France, offers Sophie a job and she soon becomes an important part of the family’s life. But Sophie is hiding something.

Then Penny’s toddler son, Ethan, is abducted and an international hunt for the child begins. The police beg Penny and her husband to take part in a television appeal but the couple refuse. Unknown to the police, Penny and Seth have new identities and are determined to lay low and protect them. But it may be too late for that.

Who has taken Ethan and why?

Are the couple’s true identities linked to the abduction?

And who has been watching them?

To save her son Penny may have to put her own life on the line

 

 

Blurb rating 8/10

 

Yes. I decided to rate blurbs, why not?

This book sounds very interesting.  It sounds shrouded in mystery, suspense and secrets. That sounds like a recipe for a good book! You have a family with a hidden past, hidden identities, in the midst of troubling circumstances leading to an uncertain future. I”m hooked.

 

 

First chapter impression…

 

First impressions are everything, right? I love where this story begins. A couple with an unspoken past that required witness protection involving the FBI. They went as far as getting new identities, so you now its gotta be pretty bad. So it makes you wonder. What happened to them? But that wasn’t even the first impression.

Penny, seems paranoid about someone watching her at every turn. Why is she paranoid? Who is watching her, and why?

Then they meet Sophie at the airport on the way to France. Right away I’m thinking who is the “Sophie” character. She’s already on my radar for a shady person.

This was a great lead in for the first chapter!

 

 

 

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Rattle US cover

 

 

On still nights, when the curve of a winter moon is smudged in the flow of the River Quaggy, the dead clamor for him. And sometimes he coaxes the living to join them. To other people, his victims might be mere medical oddities. To him, they are fascinating specimens, worthy of display. Above all, he is a collector, eager for recognition even as he hides in the shadows.

Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy is the first to recognize the connection between the disappearance of a young girl and a cold case that almost cost her the career she’s sacrificed so much for. A faceless psychopath is walking the streets of London, tantalizing the authorities with clues, taunting them with his ability to spirit his victims out from under their very noses.

Better than anyone, Etta Fitzroy understands loss. But this is one contest she will win if it kills her . . .
 

 

 Blurb Rating 10/10

 

Now that’s how you do a blurb! The first section poetically reveals the mysterious antagonist lurking in the shadows. By reading it you can sense his uniqueness, M.O., and ambition for recognition. Excellent.

Every serial killer requires a hard nose detective, and that sounds like Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy.  I like the fact that this has a female lead. intriguing indeed.

 

First Chapter Impression…

 

The first chapter was juicy! Fiona Cummins is quite poetic in her delivery and has a great command of the language. Her sentences flow nicely leaving you wanting more. I loved the use of metaphors to reflect the nature of the predicament of the family.  A lot is revealed in such a short chapter.

 

 

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Let me Lie

 

 

 

The stunning new novel from Clare Mackintosh, the international bestselling author of I Let You Go and I See You.

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

Last year, Tom and Caroline Johnson chose to end their lives, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents’ deaths, unwilling to accept the verdict of suicide.

Now with a baby herself, Anna feels her mother’s absence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as she digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her.

Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie….

 

 

Blurb Rating  10/10

 

I’m totally loving this blurb!

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

How can you not love that? Isn’t it striking?

Need I say more? Even in the blurb, nothing is as it seems. You can tell this is extremely suspenseful. Can’t wait to read this one.

 

First Chapter Impression…

 

Very fascinating first chapter! I love how she begins this book. A person flirting with death, or decision that might lead to it at the slightest misstep. The person speaking then turns their attention to their loved one, conversing back and forth in romantic tones. Who will die first? It doesn’t say who is speaking but we can infer it’s Anna’s parents based upon the blurb. Tom and Caroline Johnson. Impressive beginning.

 

 

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The Plea Steve Cavanaugh

 

 

“Rip-roaring legal thriller…Twisty, bloody, and convincing.” —Ian Rankin
An innocent client. A wife in jeopardy. Who will take The Plea?

When billionaire David Child is arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Clara, the FBI believes they can get him to testify and take down a huge money laundering scheme.

Con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn is given the job: persuade David to plead guilty and give the agents the evidence they need. If Eddie can’t get David to take a plea bargain, the FBI has incriminating files on Eddie’s wife – and will send her to jail. But David swears he didn’t murder anyone.

The evidence overwhelmingly shows that David killed Clara: the security video showed no one else entering their apartment, the murder weapon was in his car, and he was covered in gunshot residue he can’t explain. Yet as the FBI pressures Eddie to secure the guilty plea, Eddie becomes increasingly convinced that David is telling the truth.

With adversaries threatening, Eddie has to find a way to prove David’s innocence and find out if there’s any way he might have been framed. But the stakes are high: Eddie’s wife is in danger. And not just from the FBI…

The Plea is a locked room mystery from Steve Cavanagh, the author Nelson DeMille compares to John Grisham, Scott Turow, and Brad Meltzer.

“The Plea is one of the most purely entertaining books you’ll read this year. It’s a blast.”
—John Connolly, bestselling author of the Charlie Parker novels

 

 

Blurb Rating 10/10

 

From reading the blurb you can tell the plot is rich in detail, dilemma and complexity. I think I was hooked even half way through. It’s a winner. Steve Cavanagh is one of the new authors I’ve found that I can’t wait to read!

 

 

First Chapter Impression…

 

Even the first sentence is packed with intrigue, and it’s only the prologue! This is going to be a gritty legal thriller full of conflict, tension and moral dilemmas. Juicy, juicy, juicy. Hooked! Definitely recommend this one. I only read the prologue and was so excited had to stop and write something.