Monday, 16 December 2013

Downton Interview with... Writer Morgen Bailey!

Hello Morgen! As a fellow Downton Abbey fan, no doubt you are looking forward to the Christmas Special. What would your fantasy storyline be for the plot of that episode, if you were behind it? Mine would be for Carson and Mrs Hughes to finally (please!) get together and for Mr Bates NOT to be revealed as having anything to do with the suspected murder of vile valet Green. I couldn’t face another jail storyline.

Hello, Sam. Thank you for inviting me. They've killed off too many characters recently so I'd not have any more... which may surprise those who know me as I do it often enough in my own stories. The Bates' are due some good fortune but I suspect if they found out they were going to be parents that would throw another spanner in the proverbial works. It's about time Daisy had some fun, and Isobel Crawley and the doctor got together.

In your book The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, journalist Isobel MacFarlane must date 31 men in a month and she labels them ‘Mr Could Be Right’, ‘Mr Not Bad.,’ etc – how would you label a couple of the men in Downton, if you got to date them? I would label Thomas Barrow ‘Mr Not On Your Life’!

Ah yes. I remember him from Coronation Street (he's far better in this). Would it be too sad to say that I like Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) as he was one of my favourite characters from Notting Hill (one of my favourite films)? He'd be my Mr Safe (although there's a sparkle in those eyes) and Matthew Crawley my Mr Yum (I was NOT happy when they bumped him off). The ex-chauffeur, Brandson, is cute too, although a little young, I fear.

Which character in Downton would you like to take the credit for creating? For me, it has to be the Dowager Countess with her sparkling one-liners.

Words are what make the show and she certainly has some corkers. I do like women with gumption and that's often where British movies / TV shows excel (dare I say, without alienating your US readers?) often action/banana skin-reliant US movies. Isobel gives the Countess a run for her money on more than one occasion so I'd be proud of her.

Out of everything you have ever written, which character are you most proud of creating and why?

Oh my goodness. Mmm. I've written eight novels and 400+ short stories so that's a tough one but one that springs to mind is April (from April’s Fool (short story)). She's a tough cookie. Issy (our aforementioned journalist) is no pushover either and if you / your readers read the book they'll see she stands up for herself.

Julian Fellowes , the writer of Downton, is also an actor – are you creative in any other way?

I love drawing cartoons, although unlike my writing, I struggle from imagination. One of my 2014 wish-list items is to draw more (and learn to lip read - I'm studying the latter locally next month, and for free, as I'm a fellow tutor!). 

Upstairs or downstairs?

  Upstairs, I'd love to wear brighter colours and be waited on.

Lady Mary or Edith?

Sorry, Edith, but it has to be Mary - it's her sharp tongue - although Sybil was feisty. Edith will get her moment, I'm sure. She has had meatier roles of late.
Mrs Hughes or Mrs Patmore?

Mrs Patmore's hilarious. Mrs Hughes has her moments, and yes, get your act together Carson!, but it's Mrs P for me. Lucky escape from Mr Tufton 

Thanks for joining me, Morgen and enjoy the Christmas Special!

 You're very welcome, Sam. Thank you for asking me. I look forward to it. (Sky+ planner at the ready).

 Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, editor / critiquer, tutor, speaker, and podcaster. Chair of two writing groups, she is a freelance author of numerous short stories, novels, articles, and some poetry. Like her, her blog,  is consumed by all things literary. Her books are available to buy from US Amazon and UK Amazon Morgen's email is

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Reality Show Interview with... Author Georgia Hill!

Hello, Georgia, lovely to have you on the blog as a fellow writer of reality-shows. In Doubting Abbey aristocratic contestants strive to win Million Dollar Mansion, to save their run-down estates… Can you tell us a little about the reality show Who Dares Dances in Say it with Sequins?

Hi Samantha! Thank you so much for inviting me on here. I absolutely loved Doubting Abbey, by the way! Who Dares Dances, which is the reality show in Say it with Sequins: The Rumba, is a mixture between Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of Here! Contestants have to learn to dance but also face a series of bizarre challenges, dreamed up by the director. I had great fun thinking up nasty things for the celebs to do!

The cover is gorgeous and really reminds me of Strictly Dancing – are you watching this year’s show and who have you most enjoyed watching? Mark Benton has really entertained me this year – brilliant!

I have to confess to being a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing with the Stars in the US). I never miss a series and have even gone to see the live shows, which are great fun. I’ve just booked to see Pasha Kovalev, my favourite pro-dancer, perform in his own show next year. I can’t wait. The cover of Say it with Sequins is absolutely gorgeous – I love it. I was away when it was emailed through and my husband tried to describe it down the phone – very funny and he didn’t do any justice at all to Alexandra’s beautiful design! Usually, I have a favourite dancer who I develop an enormous crush on but that hasn’t happened this year. Pasha remains my passion (he’s clever and a reader too, what a man). I’ve enjoyed watching Mark Benton and Dave Myers has made me laugh until I cried.

Having created a fictional reality show, does this mean you are a fan of the genre? I am, my favourites being Celebrity Big Brother and the jungle I’m a Celebrity…

I think I am a fan of reality TV, to some extent. I love Come Dine With Me and Four in a Bed but it’s really Strictly that does it for me. I love it.

Often, in the TV shows larger-than-life characters take part. In Million Dollar Mansion the Croxley family’s opponents, the Baron of Marwick and his son, are indeed larger-than-life. How would you describe your characters in Who Dares Dances?

Well, Bob Dandry, the director of Who Dares Dances is definitely larger-than-life and not in a good way (we learn more about him in later books). Jan, the Russian pro-dancer, is larger-than-life too – he’s about 6’5” – and mean!

Sum up your main character in three words.

Julia Cooper, my main character in Say it with Sequins: The Rumba, is talented, funny, insecure.

If you could take part in any of the current reality shows, which would it be? Have to say, I would LOVE to learn to dance properly – and wear those outfits!

Well, I’d have to say Strictly, of course but I’d be a ‘dance disaster’ as Craig would say. I’d work my leg-warmers off, though, if it meant wearing those gorgeous dresses every week and being held in the muscular arms of a hot pro-dancer. Pasha maybe?! Not to mention it’s a great way to lose weight and get fit!

What sort of contestant would you be in the jungle?

I’d be AWFUL! No way, could I eat those bugs. Ugh. And – all that endless sitting around in the heat and getting bored – I have a very low boredom threshold and would probably end up making trouble, just for the sake of it. And trust me, no one would want to watch me wearing a bikini in the outside shower …

Georgia Hill writes contemporary romantic comedy, written with love. She lives in a tiny village in Herefordshire, with her two beloved spaniels, husband (also beloved) and a ghost called Zoe. Say it with Sequins: The Rumba is the first in a series of three novellas, for Harper Impulse.

Who Dares Dances is a reality TV show with a difference. Not only do contestants have to learn to dance, they also face a series of bizarre challenges.
When Julia Cooper signs up, all she wants is to revive her flagging acting career. When she meets dare-devil Harri Morgan, though, the attraction is instant – and hot!

Forced to perform a sexy rumba together, the sequins really start to fly. Will they score the perfect ten, or is their romance destined to be a dance disaster? Find out in Say it with Sequins, the first in a series of three novellas.

Why not pre-order the first book now?! Available here

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Downton Interview with... Author Teresa F Morgan!


 Today I'd like to welcome Teresa F Morgan. She writes contemporary romance for digital-first Harper Impulse - and like me, loves Downton Abbey!

As a writer yourself, Teresa, and fan of Downton Abbey, which element do you think has been most important for the series’ success -  the characters or plot/setting?

--- I love the plotting and era, plus how everything has to match history, however the characters are what make this series such a hit. I have my favourites (Mrs Hughes especially) but they are all brilliant in their own ways.

If it were real, would you prefer to spend a month living there Upstairs or Downstairs?

--- I'd want to be Upstairs. Those servants worked so hard and hardly got a day off! And look at the lovely clothes Edith gets to wear.

Yes, me too! Who has the biggest woo-factor - Lord Grantham or Matthew Crawley?! (as in, who would you like to woo you!)

---- Oh, Matthew for me. Lord Grantham's too old and too oldfashioned lol! Matthew had a modern way of thinking. But I think I'd really go for Tom Branson :)
Which character would you like to take the credit for creating and why?

---- Ha ha! I don't think I can take the credit for these characters. Mrs Hughes is one of my favourites though, because she's very clever and approachable, and has a very warm heart.

Yes, she is wonderful - everyone needs a Mrs Hughes in their life... So, which is your favourite character out of Loving Winter Nights, the new collaborative book you have out from Harper Impulse (which, incidentally, is free!)?

----- There aren't that many characters, and it was such a short piece. I suppose Mark, because he does become the hero in the end.

Yes, we all like a hero! 
Julian Fellowes is also an actor – are you creative in any other way?

---- Actually I used to paint with acrylics when I was a teenager/young adult. But it's been a long time now since creating a landscape. I'm not that great otherwise. I don't do crafty things with the kids, it just creates too much mess and more work for mummy! Am I bad?

:) Thanks for joining me Teresa! And to finish off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I live in sunny Weston-super-Mare, trying to hold onto my Surrey accent where I was born and bred.

For years I persevered with boring jobs, until my two boys joined my nest. In an attempt to find something to work around them, and to ensure I never endured full time boredom again, I found writing.

I’m at my happiest baking cakes, putting proper home cooked dinners on the table (whether the kids eat them or not), reading a good romance, or sitting at my PC emptying my thoughts onto the screen.

I love writing contemporary romance, stories with a touch of escapism and creating heroes readers will fall in love with. Men who in reality, let’s face it, just don’t exist.

Find out more about Teresa here !

Loving Winter Nights:
Inspired by roaring campfires and the cold nights of the Pacific Northwest, a group of HarperImpulse authors came together to write their own round robin style romance.
Sitting around our virtual fire, one author starts the tale before passing it off to the person beside them and so on… The story builds as each person adds their part, concluding when it reaches the one who started it. The result is this charming, beautifully told romance ‘For Clara’.
So wherever you are – at home on your sofa, a steaming mug of hot chocolate in your hand, or snuggled into your softest scarf on the commute to work – imagine yourself out their in the wild, the crackle and hiss of the wood burning, the glow of the fire warming you through. Sit back, relax and let our authors entertain you for a while…

Loving Winter nights is available here !