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Costa Book Awards Finalists Announced

We're pleased to announce that the finalists for the Costa Book Awards was announced today, with two large print titles being nominated.

Nominated For Best Novel
The Gustav Sonata

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in 'neutral' Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav's childhood is spent in lonely isolation, his widowed mother strangely indifferent to him. As time goes on, an intense friendship with a boy his own age, Anton Zwiebel, begins to define his life. Jewish and mercurial, a talented pianist tortured by nerves when he has to play in public, Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav's are entwined. Ultimately, Gustav must discover what it does to a person, or a country, to pursue an eternal quest for neutrality, and self-mastery, while all life's hopes and passions continually press upon the borders and beat upon the gate...
Published February 2017 - this title is available to preorder
Hardcover Large Print - General Fiction - £20.89
On the Run

Nominated For Best First Novel
On the Run

My Name Is Leon by Kit De Waal

1980: Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile - like chocolate bars, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum...
Published April 2017 - this title is available to preorder
Hardcover Large Print - General Fiction - £20.89
On the Run


Q & A with Dilly Court

Dilly Court is the author of 18 novels. She started her career in television, writing scripts for commercials. Dilly grew up in North East London but now lives on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Her books are full of nostalgia with plucky heroines set in turn of the century London.

What inspired you to write? Where do you get your ideas from?
My mother used to write stories, but didn't make the effort to get them published. After she died I made up my mind to take up the cudgels and see if I could succeed for both of us.

According to my late grandfather, I started making up stories when I was three. I had a rag doll called Penelope, who, apparently, was a bit of a tearaway, and used to do naughty things like "kicking the wireless shop" - obviously heading for an ASBO. I wrote my first novel when I was 13, very much influenced by Georgette Heyer, but life, work, marriage and children left me little time to write, although I always had stories going round in my head.

My ideas come from all kinds of sources - The Dollmaker's Daughters came to me when I saw Victorian dolls, with hand-painted china faces, on The Antiques Roadshow. Ragged Rose was inspired by the acts I had seen in the old East Ham Palace when I was very young, and, perhaps my own early ambitions to be a dancer. Inspiration for The Swan Maid came from researching my ancestors. I discovered that one of them was a soldier in the Crimean War, who survived the carnage, winning a medal in the process. That, together with the amazing history of Mary Seacole brought the whole period to life.  My memory is like a ragbag - filled with titbits of information - which can sometimes be very useful.

Most of your books are set in turn of the century London. What draws you to this particular period and location?
I grew up in North East London, and although I lived in the suburbs I was very familiar with the East End, and I loved the old buildings and Georgian terraces, most of which are sadly razed to the ground and replaced by glass and concrete office towers. I can remember the dreadful smogs, or peasoupers, having been caught in a couple when I first started work in Kingsway, so I can relate to what it must have been like in Victorian London. The 19th century was a period of enormous social and industrial change. The railways altered the face of Britain forever, consigning the horse-drawn mail coach to history. Gas lighting, followed by the power of electricity, transformed the way people lived and worked, and the telegraph made it possible to communicate across the world. Women infiltrated the previously male dominated field of medicine, and demanded the right to vote. I could go on, but that would sound like a history lesson.

How do you research your novels?
I use the internet - where would we be without search engines? But I also back my research with books and maps. I always start a story with an exact area of London in mind, using old street maps and photographs. That way I can visualise each scene as if it were a movie, so that I can paint a picture in words to describe the sights, sounds and smells (some of them very nasty).

What, for you, is the best thing about being a writer?
The best thing about being a writer is spending time doing what I love - creating different worlds and characters that, when I'm writing, are very real to me. I meet each one with an open mind - and they all have their own stories and distinctive personalities. Sometimes a character starts off as being hateful and then develops into someone not so bad after all - each story is an adventure from start to finish.

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
I have a contract with my publishers, so that means that each book has to be delivered in a given time. I write two or three books a year, and each novel takes on average four months. That includes editing, checking page proofs etc. There's no time for sitting around waiting for inspiration - it's a job, but a very enjoyable one.

You also write under the name Lily Baxter, are you writing any more in this series?
I am often asked this by readers and I always say - never say never - but I haven't any plans to write another Lily Baxter at present. When I wrote the WW2 books I was contracted to do two Dilly Court books and one Lily Baxter book each year, and jumping from one century to another is interesting, but it isn't particularly easy when working to a tight schedule.

Do you have any favourite characters and, if so, which?
No, I don't. I love all my characters at the time of writing, which would make it impossible to choose one over another. Each book is an experience in itself, and writing the last line is like saying goodbye to old friends, but there are always others waiting in the wings to tell their stories. It keeps me very busy.

You started your career in television, writing scripts for commercials. What were you most memorable adverts?
I got into writing scripts almost by accident. My boss at the time was looking for a script to put up to a prospective advertiser, and, on my commute home I came up with an idea. I typed it out on my aunt's old Underwood portable typewriter and left it on his desk next morning. That was the start of my short career as a copywriter. The scripts I wrote were presented to companies to give them an idea of what could be done in an advertising campaign designed specifically for them. I remember being given a grand tour of Selfridges, who were interested in a television campaign at that time, and I enjoyed that immensely.  Unfortunately my career as a copywriter was cut short when my family left London and moved to North Wales. After that I had all manner of jobs, too numerous to mention.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Never give up. When things aren't working out the way you want them to - just keep going. You'll get there in the end.

The Swan Maid is out in large print in December. A full list of Dilly Court's books can be found here. Her books published under Lily Baxter are available here.

Interview by Nicky Solloway at Magna Large Print Books.


Good Reads Choice Awards Finalists Announced

The Good Reads Choice Awards finalists were announced yesterday (17/11/2016) with a number of Ulverscroft titles being amongst them.

Finalist For Best Fiction 2016

On the Run

Lily And The Octopus by Steven Rowley

It's Thursday the first time I see it. I know that it's Thursday because Thursday nights are the nights my dog, Lily, and I set aside to talk about boys we think are cute...  Ted Flask's best friend and only companion is Lily: a twelve-year-old, bedclothes-burrowing, ice-cream-eating, shrewd and sassy dachshund. Sure, she's ageing, but the two of them have great times together - until that Thursday night, when Ted learns that there is something very wrong with Lily, and is forced to confront the possibility of life without his treasured dog. What follows is a story about loving fiercely, learning to let go, and how the fight for those we cherish is the greatest fight of all.
Published March 2017 - this title is available to preorder
Hardcover Large Print - General Fiction - £18.76
On the Run


Finalists For Best Mystery & Thriller

On the Run

Brotherhood In Death by J.D. Robb

Just as Dennis Mira is about to confront his cousin Edward about selling the West Village brownstone that belonged to their grandfather, he gets a shock:Edward is in front of him, bruised and bloody...and then everything goes black.When Dennis comes to, Edward is gone. Luckily Dennis s wife is a top profiler for the NYPSD and a close colleague of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Now Eve is determined to uncover the secrets of Edward Mira and learn what enemies he may have made in his long career as a lawyer, judge, and senator. A badge and a billionaire husband can get you access to places others can t go, and Eve intends to shine some light on the dirty deals and dark motives behind the disappearance of a powerful man, the family discord over a multimillion-dollar piece of real estate...and a new case that no one saw coming.
June Published June 2017 - this title is available to preorder
Hardcover Large Print - Crime - £18.76

On the Run

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship. A chance for travel journalist Lo Blacklock to recover from a traumatic break-in. Except things don't go as planned... At first, Lo's stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties sparkling, the guests elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, grey skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard from the next-door cabin. Yet all passengers remain accounted for, and records show that no one ever checked into that compartment. So the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo's desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong...
Hardcover Large Print - Mystery - £20.89


Finalist For Best Romance 2016

On the Run

The Obsession by Nora Roberts

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama, and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn't always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn't always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn't always felt that her life was a total waste. So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be those of Tommy Burke - a former love of both Brid and Evelyn - the village's dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community's worth of anger and resentment, secrets and regret.
Published in January 2017 - this title is available to preorder
Hardcover Large Print - Romantic Suspense - £18.76


Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards Winner

Winner Of The Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book Of The Year

On the Run

Holding by Graham Norton

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama, and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn't always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn't always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn't always felt that her life was a total waste. So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be those of Tommy Burke - a former love of both Brid and Evelyn - the village's dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community's worth of anger and resentment, secrets and regret.
Published in July 2017 - this title is available to preorder
Hardcover Large Print - Thriller - £20.89

Q&A with Jessica Blair/Bill Spence

 

You may be surprised to learn that Jessica Blair is in fact a 94-year-old war veteran called Bill Spence. Born in Middlesbrough in 1923, Bill trained as a teacher but signed up to the Royal Air Force in 1942 and went on to fly 36 Lancaster missions over Germany. More recently he ran a post office with his wife Joan, who sadly died a few years ago. A father of four and a great grandfather, he lives in Ampleforth, Yorkshire and has written dozens of family sagas, westerns and a non-fiction book about the history of whaling.

How did you start writing? Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a writer?
I was always encouraged to read. From a very early age I was allowed comics. There were always books, magazines etc around our house.  We had two eight volume encyclopaedias and I spent hours browsing through them. (I still have them!) I think all these situations led me to a love of books which has remained with me all these years. I am passionate about them. I believe it is this deep interest that brought me a desire to write. 
Like many people the war changed my life. I married during the war, was fortunate to survive and I settled with my wife, Joan, where she lived in Ampleforth. The desire to write was still there and I wrote short items for a local newspaper, gradually moving to magazines but I had a desire to write a book. But what about? My experiences in the RAF?  There was a ready-made subject. I liked fiction and non-fiction so I combined these in a story with my experiences as background. I did this for my own satisfaction - I knew nothing about publishing or where to go with my finished book. Then came a stroke of luck. I saw a small paragraph in our evening paper stating that a paperback publisher was running a competition for war stories.  I thought, why not send mine to that publisher? It did not win the competition but they offered to publish it.  Great - I was an author!!!! I was bitten, but what do I write next? I had read a lot of Westerns and knew a lot about the West so I wrote a Western.  I called it the Return of the Sheriff. It was eventually published by Hales.

How many books have you written to date?
70, including 36 Westerns and 26 Jessica Blair novels.

Where do you get the ideas for your books?
Ideas come from all over. Something will spark an idea off.  And it evolves from there. I pose questions as the story develops by asking myself 'What if?'

What do you find are the best and the worst things about writing?
The best thing is writing the first word - a new world awaits me. Worst: - Copy editing is a chore - you have to be so careful.

Do you think writing keeps you young?
Yes I do.

Do you know how your stories are going to end before you start writing them?
Nearly always. I then have an aim.

You write under a female pseudonym. Does that ever bother you?
No. A female name is what the publisher wanted - so OK.  I am the story-teller which is what I would have been if I had been using a male name. Jessica Blair came into being when my publisher, Piatkus, accepted my first historical saga and declared that, for various reasons, they would prefer to publish it under a female name and they suggested Jessica Blair.

Are your readers surprised when they find out you are a man?
Some are but whatever, they are looking for a good read and that is what I aim to give them.

How do you go about researching your books?
The internet brought a change in research. In my day there was no such thing. I used a public reference library but for me it was not always possible to get to one when I needed to so I gradually built up a library of my own relevant to my work.

Did you start out on a typewriter or writing long hand? Do you find that new technology makes the writer's job easier?
I wrote in longhand for a while and had the script typed for me. I then did my own typing but that was a chore because I wasn't a good typist. Then came the COMPUTER. My life changed because mistakes in typing were easily changed.

What are your thoughts on library closures? What should be done to keep more libraries open and why are libraries important?
I am strongly against closures. They are vital to us all and to our lives. Closures take away some of the bright lights that are essential to the well-being of our world. They bring a better understanding of the world and of relationships within it, so essential to a peaceful existence. If only people would let books speak to them for their own good.

What's the best advice anyone's ever given you?
Be young in heart and young in mind.

We have published a number of Jessica Blair titles. A full list can be found here.

Interview by Nicky Solloway at Magna Large Print Books.


The Light Between Oceans Set For Cinematic Release

The smash-hit M.L. Stedman novel 'The Light Between Oceans' is set for cinematic release. Starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz, we can't wait to see it!


 

On the Run

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Tom Sherbourne, released from the horrors of the First World War, is now a lighthouse keeper, cocooned on a remote island off Western Australia with his young, bold and loving wife. Izzy is content in everything but her failure to have a child. Years later, after two miscarriages and a stillbirth, a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man - and a crying baby...now the path of the couple's lives hits an unthinkable crossroads. Safe from the real world, Tom and Izzy break the rules and follow their hearts. It is a decision with devastating consequences...

Hardcover Large Print - General Fiction - £20.89

 Q & A with Mason Cross

Mason Cross is the author of the Carter Blake thriller series, which began with The Killing Season. Recently described as a 'bestseller in the making', Cross's second book, The Samaritan, was picked for the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club earlier this year. His third book in the series, The Time to Kill, came out in the summer and will be available in audio next April and in large print later next year. Mason lives in Glasgow with his wife and three children and juggles his writing with a day job in IT.

Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a writer?
I always loved writing stories at school, and I was lucky that my parents and teachers were always really encouraging. As a kid I wrote science fiction and action stories, and some Choose Your Own Adventure style stories, which I would print out and sell at school. After university I remembered how much I loved writing anything that wasn't an essay and, inspired by Stephen King's On Writing, began writing short stories and submitting them to magazines and competitions. I piled up a heap of rejections and eventually managed to get published in a couple of places. I also uploaded some of my work to HarperCollins's Authonomy website, and was surprised when I was contacted by the top-flight agent Luigi Bonomi, who had read some of my work online. He signed me up and gave me some great advice, and a couple of years on I landed a book deal with Orion. It's scary to think how much luck is involved, but it demonstrates the importance of getting your work out there.

Have you always written thrillers and crime stories or did you start off with a different genre?
I've always leaned towards crime and noir, although I did write a few horror stories when I was younger. For me, mystery is an essential element of any story, and crime and thrillers seem to be the most natural structures for exploring that. That said, if I had an idea that would work for a different genre, I would certainly pursue it. 

On an average day, how much time do you spend writing? Is it difficult to juggle writing with your day job in IT?
Most of the writers I know have a day job and/or kids, and I have both. It just means that discipline is even more important: I have to make sure I hit a certain number of words in the time I have available, which is usually night-time after my three children have gone to bed. When I'm writing I'll try to fit in some words whenever I have downtime: during lunch, on trains, whatever. It helps that I'm using a different part of my brain than I do at work, so it doesn't feel like one long working day.

 

What do you find are the best and the worst things about writing?
I love starting work on a fresh book when the possibilities are infinite and you're excited to explore a new story and characters. The worst thing is the midpoint crisis, which almost every writer I know experiences, when you can't see how you're going to finish this thing and start to doubt your abilities. I hate that part, but you just have to grit your teeth and fight through to the other side. 

Your novels are set in the United States, have you ever lived there? How do you do the research for your books?
I've never lived in the States, but I've visited a few times and spent time in LA, San Francisco and New York. Like most people, I do a lot of research online: the internet is a fantastic resource for everything from the geography and history of a particular place to sunrise and sunset times, to the intricate details of cyber terrorism. I'm also lucky to have American friends who will read early drafts, highlight any mistakes and give me invaluable local knowledge. 

Are you planning to write any thrillers set in Scotland?
I have a half-finished psychological thriller set in Glasgow that I keep meaning to go back to. It's different from the Carter Blake books - more influenced by Hitchcock and Ira Levin. I'd love to have the time to finish it, so I can find out how it ends.

Do you know how your stories are going to end before you start writing them?
Sort of. I write a reasonably full outline of about four pages. That gives me enough idea of the plot to get going, but I always make big changes along the way. The ending always comes out differently from how I had planned - I need to have written the rest of the book first to be able to work out the ending.

What's the best writing advice anyone's ever given you?
Write every day, but don't overdo it. Hearing about authors committing to writing two thousand words a day used to really put me off, until someone suggested I try to hit 500 a day. 500 words is a manageable amount: it doesn't seem too daunting, you can do it in half an hour or less, and if you do that every day, in six months you'll have the first draft of a novel. 

Interview by Nicky Solloway at Magna Large Print Books.


A Street Cat Named Bob Set To Hit The Cinema 

When A Street Cat Named Bob first hit the shelves it became  something of a literary sensation. Now Bob is set to hit the big screen with A Street Cat Named Bob hitting the big screen soon. You can watch the trailer below:


On the Run

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen
When James Bowen found an injured, ginger street cat curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation, he had no idea just how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet. Yet James couldn't resist helping the strikingly intelligent tomcat, whom he christened Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas. Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other's troubled pasts.

Hardcover Large Print - Non Fiction - £20.89


Q & A with M. C. Beaton

M. C. Beaton is hugely popular with library users across Britain. In fact last year more people borrowed her books than any other British adult fiction writer. Born Mary Gibbons in Glasgow in 1936, she is the author of over 160 Regency romances and mystery novels, which she writes under various pen names. She is widely known for her popular Hamish Macbeth Murder Mysteries and Agatha Raisin detective novels.  Many of her books are available in large print and audio from Magna Large Print.

How do you feel to be one of the most borrowed British adult fiction writers in the UK?
I cannot yet believe that I am the UK's most borrowed British adult fiction writer.  Just as well.  Nothing like a swelled head for causing writer's block.

You started your career as a bookseller - did you always dream of one day becoming a writer?
I
worked as a bookseller in the days when it was regarded as a profession. I actually dreamt of writing a short story for Chamber's Journal and that dates me.

Did your work as a crime writer for the Scottish Daily Express inspire you to start writing detective stories?
My work as a crime reporter for the Scottish Daily Express is the reason I regard myself more as an escape artist than a writer.  Real life crime is too often nasty and brutish and real life murderers are boring psychopaths. So only occasionally are my books based on reality.

What for you, is the best thing about being a writer?
The best thing about being a writer is making one's own time and being one's own boss.  I love crosswords and so I love juggling all my suspects together and planting clues.

You're such a prolific writer, where do the ideas for your novels come from?
I get ideas for my books everywhere.  For example, have you ever noticed how loudly customers at the hairdressers talk when they are under the drier?  And how loudly they shout out the intimate details of their lives?  Great for a blackmailing hairdresser and so the Wizard of Evesham was created.

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about six months to write a book.  I often wish I had more time and yet I usually end up putting off work until I'm rushing and screaming to make the deadline.

Do you have any favourite characters and if so, which?
I don't have any favourite characters.  They do what I write and I don't want them running away with me.  As Nicholas Blake said, 'Never fall in love with your characters'.

You've had many different pen names, why is it important to use a pseudonym?
I originally had different pen names because I was writing Regency novels for different publishers.  I had settled down to writing all under Marion Chesney, my real name, when St. Martin's demanded a pseudonym, feeling the critics might think a romance writer could not write detective stories.

Titles published by M.C Beaton can be found here.

Interview by Nicky Solloway at Magna Large Print Books.


Jack Reacher Is Back - Never Go Back Set For Cinematic Release

Jack Reacher is back on the big screen! Tom Cruise will be continuing to play the much loved protagonist. The film is set for a world-wide release in November.


On the Run

Never Go Back by Lee Child

Drop-out military cop Jack Reacher has hitch-hiked his way to Virginia. His destination, the closest thing to a home he ever had: the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th Military Police. Reacher has no real reason to be here, except that he spoke to the new commanding officer on the phone. He liked Major Susan Turner's voice. But now he's arrived, she's disappeared, and things are getting weird. Accused of a sixteen-year-old homicide and co-opted back into the army, Reacher says nothing. But he's sure as hell thinking of a way out...

Hardcover Large Print - Thriller - £20.89

Q&A With Jax Miller

Freedom's Child is New York native Jax Miller's debut novel. Shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year, it tells the tale of Freedom, a woman who had lived 18 years under witness protection. When she hears that her daughter has gone missing she must give up her new life to find her, and face the consequences of her past life. Jax Miller now lives in Ireland and is working on her second book. Freedom's Child was published in large print this month and to celebrate we asked Jax a few questions.

You were originally born in New York but now live in Ireland, what have you learned on your travels?
I’ve learned that my heart was right. Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to see Ireland; I was just drawn to it. The second I stepped off the plane, I knew I was home; it was something I could feel in the air. My two week trip turned into five years and counting. I learned that sometimes it takes some searching until you find what home is and where you belong.

Where's your favourite place to be?
There's this place in Killarney, Co. Kerry called The Lake Hotel that I just love. It's not extravagant, but I fell in love with the views a few years back and it's since been a tradition. I try to make it out there a couple times a year, I even get the same room every time. I find great inspiration there so when the writers' block hits, I get in the car and go south. It's where I go when I need to get away.

What is your definition of freedom?
Freedom is pursuing your passion without caring what others will think of it, but I realize it's hard. I think everybody has the ability to do it, it's just that sometimes it comes with a cost. But if you can just chase what you love and do so without the influence or fear of other people, then you can know Freedom.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Not at all. I figured it was for the academics, the well-to-dos (of which I was neither). Writing was something I stumbled upon while I was going through some dark and stormy days in life, in times where everything seemed impossible. Someone saw potential in me and encouraged me to write. I thought it sounded ridiculous, but I tried it anyway. It was love at first write. I surprised myself in seeing it helped me purge certain parts of my soul I didn't need, I found it to be a coping mechanism. This was in my early/mid twenties and I haven't stopped since.

Did you plan out the plot of Freedom's Child before writing it or did you just start and see where it took you?
Freedom's Child was written blindly, but it completely correlated with whatever mood I was in at the moment I wrote it. If I had a crappy day, Freedom had a crappy day. If I cried, Freedom cried. If I felt empowered, Freedom felt empowered. I'm a moody writer, I think, the extreme emotion has to be there in order for me to get a story out. The great thing about this was that when the reader was surprised, I was just as surprised in writing it. The ideas come as I go, they're not plotted, so sometimes it's like: "Oh my God, she did not just do that!" And then the other half of my brain snaps its fingers and says, "Oh yes she did."

Are any of the characters in Freedom's Child based on yourself or people you know?
While our circumstances are different, Freedom and I shared emotions. It was through this fictional character that I was able to deal with certain things in life, things that felt out of my control. This book was where I found my control, I was essentially playing God. We were both tattooed, redheaded bartenders going through different grieving processes, but we went through them together. Something I think was lost after several drafts was the symbolism tied to Freedom Oliver. Her daughter represented her lost innocence, her son represented her logic, and her former in-laws represented the past she hated herself for. So in some weird way, there's definitely a little bit of me in each of my characters.

What can readers expect from Freedom Child?
Grit. I've heard a lot of people say, maybe because it was a woman who wrote it, that they expect a girly book. And it's not. At all. Nope.

It's real in-your-face, aggressive and hard-hitting. But if you keep with it, like in real life, you'll find the tender and softer side to life despite the more tumultuous stuff. Oh, and if you're offended by bad language, then this isn't the book for you. I try for areal visual story, as I'm more inspired by film than books (is that blasphemous in my field?). I try to get as close to a movie-going experience as I can get through writing.

What's the best piece of advice you've received?
It depends, are we talking book-related or non book-related advice? If book-related, than my advice is not to take advice. I'm dead serious. I think it's so important not to emulate others or aspire to be a generic form of the greats. In this field, I believe the key is originality, dancing to the beat of your own drum. Don't read other authors, it just takes up legroom.

But if we're talking about non book-related advice, it's this: Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison on a regular basis and expecting the other person to die.

'Freedom's Child' is now available to order in large print
.

On the Run

Freedom's Child by Jax Miller
Most people know that Freedom Oliver works at the local bar and likes a drink or two. What they don't know is that Freedom is not her real name; that she has spent the last eighteen years living under Witness Protection, after being arrested for her husband's murder. They don't know that she put her two children up for adoption - a decision that haunts her every day. Then Freedom's daughter goes missing, and everything changes. Determined to find her, Freedom slips her handlers and heads to Kentucky, where her kids were raised. No longer protected by the government, she is tracked by her husband's sadistic family, who are thirsty for revenge. And as she gets closer to the truth, Freedom faces an even more dangerous threat. She just doesn't know it yet...

Hardcover Large Print - Thriller - £18.76

The Girl On The Train Movie Trailer Released

The book everyone has been talking about is soon to become the film everyone is talking about! The trailer for the smash hit novel The Girl On The Train has been released and it looks brilliant. Starring Rachel Weisz, the film is set to come out this November. We can't wait.

 

On the Run

The Girl On The Train By Paula Hawkins
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She even feels she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. Now they'll see: she's much more than just the girl on the train...

Hardcover Large Print - Thriller - £18.79


Q&A With Leah Fleming

Leah Fleming lives in a small village in the Yorkshire Dales. She worked as a teacher and owned a cafe before becoming a writer. She has now had 17 books published. Her latest, The Last Pearl, is out in audio in September and in large print early next year.

How did you start writing? Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a writer?
“I started when the Settle to Carlisle railway was under threat. I'd been to Ribblehead Viaduct as a parent helper with the school and I was absolutely fascinated by the history of it. At that time I had a cafe and I realized early on that it was a terrible mistake and really wasn't me, so I ended up selling the cafe and with a very strong urge to write about the Settle to Carlisle railway. That was the very first time I thought I could write a novel. It was called Trouble with the Wind and it eventually got published by Hodder. I then wrote a Romeo and Juliet story about a black GI and a white waitress, set during war time in Lichfield. I knew all about cafe's, the good sides and the downsides, so I wrote about what I knew. That was called Dancing at the Victory Cafe.

Where do you get the ideas for your books?
Every book has been sparked by either an experience that I've had or something I've seen on television or read in the paper. The last book came from this pearl necklace that my husband gave me. I started to read about pearls and I went up to Perth and talked to a jeweller who is licenced to deal in fresh water pearls. It's now illegal to fish fresh water pearls. He showed me a large pearl and as soon as he put it in my hand, it was like a frisson. He then showed me a necklace, which was quite small, but it was strung with fresh water pearls and it was worth 33,000. He said the last pearl is always the hardest when you're stringing pearls and that gave me the title of the book. I went to Mississippi to the pearl museum there. It led into all sorts of interesting things. I even researched pearl fetishism. You never quite know when you start a story where it's going to lead.

What do you enjoy about writing?
I think it's the adventure of starting a new topic. Each book is a new adventure. I've just finished one where I've taken a group of Yorkshire Quakers across the Atlantic in a rickety old ship to form a colony, a little settlement in Pennsylvania. It's the story of one girl and what they went through -  the persecution here, the terrible journey, the conflict with the native Americans; the conflict between the community about what was right and what was wrong and how she never really fits in. I always wanted to write a pioneer journey and it's all based on fact. There were masses of families who went out there in the 1680s from Yorkshire.

How long does it take you to write a book and when do you write?
It normally takes me around nine months, it's like a pregnancy. You are on a contract so you have to deliver. I tend to write in the mornings.

Your books sell well on the international market - how many different languages are they translated into?
They are translated into 10 different languages, or maybe more. I don't see half of them.

You used to help with a mobile library, can you tell us more about that?
There used to be a mobile library van where I live but when that went we used our own car laden with books. I've had to stop but the mobile library is still going and they have a nice little team, I'm really pleased it's still going. For me libraries were a lifeline to literacy. As a child we didn't have books and the library was a real source of interest. I was talking to one of the librarians at Settle library and they have 40 volunteers but come March there will be no professional librarian there at all.

How do you come up with storylines for your books? Do you plan the whole plot before you start writing?

If I knew the whole plot I wouldn't write the book because I'd be bored. I have an idea and I know there will be conflict all the way. Every book is a journey.


What's the best writing advice anyone's ever given you?
An American publisher once said ‘off-stage is frustrating and slow down when you get to the big emotional moments'. So you have to imagine a close-up camera when you get to the big scenes, for the love scene for example, it's the slowing down, not rushing. I was also told: Make 'em laugh, make 'em cry, make 'em wait.

There's got to be something that holds their interest. If you're a writer you must read, read, read. You have to read around your subject, read for fun and read quality writers. My characters are always flawed, they make mistakes, they don't listen, they do what they think is the right thing, but it may be wrong. I couldn't write about perfect people.

Interview by Nicky Solloway at Magna Large Print Books


Q&A With Adventurer Sean Conway

Sean Conway

Our fourth interview is with photographer turned adventurer Sean Conway. In 2013 Sean was disenchanted with his job and wanted to try something new. He set himself a challenge: to swim the length of Great Britain in two months to raise money for the charity War Child UK. Swimming 900km in 135 days, Sean conquered the challenge, becoming the first person to do so. Sean went on to write about his immense adventure in 'Hell And High Water' which we have published in large print this month. To learn more about the man behind the book (and the beard) we sent him a few questions.

Were you adventurous growing up?

I grew up on the banks of the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe in the heart of the African wilderness so early childhood was pretty adventurous. There's nothing quite like chasing elephants out of your garden to feel like Tarzan of the savanna. I remember only running around barefooted continuously and having to take thorns out my toes.

What made you decide to quit your job to embark on a life of an adventure?
Throughout my twenties I lost my ambition, my adventurous spirit. I didn't do anything that challenged me. I just existed, not lived. When I turned 30 I realised my life was wasting away and I was miserable. From then I decided to add life to my days rather than just exist accumulating "stuff".

We've recently published 'Hell and High Water' in large print. What can readers expect?
Spending 4.5 months swimming at sea was the toughest challenge I had ever done. Most people said it simply wasn' possible and I would probably die trying. The next 4.5 months saw me battle huge waves, crippling fatigue, jellyfish stings to the face and near death when getting caught out in a freak storm. But determination and resilience didn't allow me to give up. No matter what. It really was Hell in the high water.

What challenge are you setting yourself next?
I've done a big cycle and a big swim. I want to do a big run now. Maybe Africa. Watch this space.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Take more photos. No matter how amazing that sunset is there is a chance that in your old age you may forget it so take as many photos as possible. They will be your most treasured possessions in years to come.

Do you have any tips for anyone wishing to emulate your challenges?
Just do it. Research everything. Speak to people. get excited and just go for it. There is no better time than now. Go. Now. Stop reading this. Go!!!!

'Hell And High Water' is available to order in large print.

On the Run

Hell And High Water by Sean Conway
In 2013, Sean Conway embarked on his bid to be the first person to swim the length of Britain, raising money for the charity War Child. Accompanied by three support crew on a tiny, leaky yacht, he set out from Land's End, aiming to hit John O'Groats in two months. From swimming alongside a dolphin and amidst stunning night-time phosphorescence, to tackling treacherous tides and growing a huge beard to protect himself from jellyfish stings, this is a story of immense courage and determination over an incredible 900-mile journey.

Hardcover Large Print - Non Fiction - £16.79


Q&A With Cornish Writer Liz Fenwick
Liz Fenwick

In our second instalment of  'Ulverscroft Interviews' we asked the wonderfully talented Liz Fenwick a series of questions. Born in Massachusetts, Liz has lived around the world before settling down in Cornwall. An award winning author, her newest Ulverscroft published novel is 'Under The Cornish Sky' which was nominated for the RNA Romantic Novel of the year award.

You moved to Cornwall after living in Massachusetts, what attracted you to the UK and Cornwall in general?

I discovered Cornwall thanks to love. I moved to London at the end of April 1989 then on the first May Bank Holiday I met the man who is now my husband. After a month and a half of dating he took me to Cornwall. I thought it was to meet his parents but I've since learned it was to take the 'Cornwall' test. If I hadn't fallen in love with Cornwall that glorious June weekend I don't think I'd be preparing to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary in July. And to answer the first question... what attracted me to the UK... the men. I was twenty-six and bored with the men I was meeting in Boston who spoke of nothing but business and sport...the rest they say is history.

So far all your books have been based in Cornwall, is that due to you living there or is there something specific about Cornwall that makes it perfect for your books?
I'm sure that having our home there helps but there is something about the landscape that inspires me, calls to me and motivates me. Writing about it is the one way that I can hold onto it.

How do you come up with the plots for your books? Do you have a general iin this case snippets of life, odd facts, bits of research...) which then when one key piece comes our way it pulls the others together. For example I was researching A dea and see where it goes or plan it out beforehand?
Each book has been different. I believe writers are magpies picking up shiny objects (Cornish Affair and found the old Cornish saying... save a stranger from the sea, he'll turn your enemy. My mind went ping and suddenly the setting, Frenchman's Creek, and the characters arrived in my head. But each book is different. I never used to plan at all but now that I'm published and have less time some planning is essential.

We recently published 'Under A Cornish Sky' in large print, how was that to write and what can readers expect from it?
I loved writing the characters in Under A Cornish Sky. Both Victoria and Demi were so different that putting them on the page together was fun. Then I added in some Cornish myths and legends, which created an extra layer of intrigue. So readers, I hope, can be swept away to Cornwall with two women whose circumstances suddenly change when they're brought together at the beautiful Boscawen estate and their lives take an interesting, and unexpected, turn.

Have you always wanted to be an author?
YES! I am an only child and books were what kept the loneliness at bay. It wasn't a huge leap from continuing these stories in my head to writing them down... it just took many years for them to be worthy of sharing with others.

Are any characters in your books based on people you know or have known?
Yes and no. I love watching people and imagining their characters. As I mentioned above I'm a magpie, so I pull bits from many and create something new. Having said that Old Tom from The Cornish House is based on what I imagine my husband's old headmaster is like. I have met the man several times and he struck me as one of the last of the true gentlemen - informed, courteous and always thinking of others before himself. Also there is more than a bit of me in Tamsin...

How long does it take for you to usually write a book?
Good question... the actual writing part is broken up by the first draft - 3 or 4 months then more research and then rewriting for another 3 or 4 months then polishing, polishing, polishing as long as my editor lets me! It's all normally completed in about a year but the book I'm working on at the moment The Returning Tide is taking a bit longer.

What's the best advice you've ever received?
Learn to love yourself so that you can truly love another and accept their love in return.

And finally, do you have any advice for budding authors?
Listen to your work. I use text to voice software so that my computer reads the books to me... this gives me distance and allows me to be more critical of my work.

 A full list of Liz Fenwick published titles can be found
here.


Q&A With Yorkshire Writer Diane Allen

In the first in a new series of interviews with authors, we hear from well-known Yorkshire writer, DIANE ALLEN
Diane Allen worked at Magna Large Print Books for 26 years and spent the last 16 years as the General Manager, before turning her hand to writing her own books. She is now a best-selling author in her own right.Writing at the kitchen table of her cosy country cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, Diane Allen has penned six novels and will soon start work on her seventh.

Where do you get the ideas for your books?
Basically all around me. I'm a devil for being nosy and I listen to conversations. I've always been into history so I embroider the history with a bit of truth.

When you worked at MAGNA did you always dream of becoming a writer yourself?
No I had no idea I was going to be a successful writer. I'd never written anything before in my life. There are no writers in my family unless you count four generations back.

What do you enjoy about writing?
Well I love it because you're in your own fantasy world and you can go back to any time you want to be in. It's fascinating because you learn all sorts while you're writing because you have to do quite a bit of research. In my last book I wrote about a photographer in 1883 and I hadn't got a clue about photography then but I've had to look into it.

Do you carry a notebook around to jot down ideas and storylines?
No it's all up here in my head - a notebook, what's that?

Where do the ideas for your characters come from?
Perhaps I shouldn't say this but it's usually people I know and places I know. I bet everybody will be analysing the books now.

Do you sketch out a character description before you start writing?
I do but I don't actually physically write it down. It's in my head and I know the character inside out by the time I've finished with him or her. I'm good at picking up people's traits so I quickly analyse people.

How do you research your books?
I spend a lot of time at the library and I look on-line, I ask anybody I think who might know something about it. I look here there and everywhere. It will take me two months of research and then I might have to go and find more because I never set the story down, it twists and turns as I write.

Are any of your characters autobiographical?
A little bit. Polly from For a Father's Pride is not far off. She's the one that everyone can relate to because she's a typical farm lass. All my books are set in the Yorkshire Dales and it's the only place I'll ever write about. It's no good writing about somewhere you don't know and you don't love I don't think, it doesn't work.

Do you worry that you'll ever run out of ideas?
I do panic a bit yes. But then something springs up. I'm really enjoying this trilogy I'm writing at the moment, but I'm always thinking about the next book.

How long does it take you to write each book, roughly?
At the moment it takes two months of thinking and researching and then it depends, probably about three or four months. It depends how organised you are, for me it's helped that I've worked in an office. You've got to be disciplined.

Books published by Diane Allen can be found here.

Interview by Nicky Solloway at Magna Large Print Books


The Shepherd's Life Shortlisted For RSL Ondaatje Prize

The shortlist for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje was announced yesterday (09/05/2016) and we're very excited to see James Rebanks' The Shepherd's Life has made the shortlist. The winner is set to be announced May 23rd.

On the Run

The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks

These modern dispatches from an ancient landscape tell the story of deep-rooted attachment to place, describing a way of life that is little noticed and yet has profoundly shaped history. In evocative and lucid prose, James Rebanks takes us through a shepherd's year, offering a unique account of rural life and a fundamental connection with the land that most of us have lost. It is a story of working lives, the people around him, his childhood, his parents and grandparents, a people who exist and endure even as the world changes around them.
June
Hardcover Large Print - Crime - £18.79