Peter Jones – Author & Public Speaker

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Where do you get your ideas from?

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One of the questions an author is sometimes asked is “where do you get your ideas from?” My answer is usually “anywhere,” which is, I admit, a bit glib. The answer should really be “it depends which book you’re talking about.”

I came up with the idea for The Truth About This Charming Man many years ago when I was part of a small theatre company that ran Murder Mystery events for discerning clients. One evening a fellow actor walked into the dressing room and told us that he was off to Australia for a week. ‘Very nice’ we said, but he didn’t share our enthusiasm. Jeremy was flying half way around the world to claim a body.

It turns out that in Australia, a body can’t be released until it’s claimed by a blood relative. It didn’t seem to matter that Jeremy had never actually met his Great Uncle, the Aussie Authorities just needed him to fly out and place his signature on a piece of paper. A task which was not only costly, but extremely inconvenient for our Jez.

Which was when I had an idea: Did it really need to be Jez that flew out to Aus? Couldn’t one of us take on the role of Jez, and fly out on his behalf? Would anyone notice? Would anyone… care?

More than that, perhaps Jez was the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps there was a whole slew of potential clients in need of the services of professional actors. After all, haven’t you ever needed to be in more than one place at the same time? Haven’t you ever wanted to send someone to a boring social event or meeting in your stead? Haven’t you ever been tempted to hire someone to play your boyfriend for the evening in order to keep your colleagues, family, and everyone else, from asking why you’re always single?

Those are the sort of thoughts that make me want to sit down, and write a novel…

And if you’re a fan of Nick Hornby, or Mike Gayle, Rom Coms or Heist movies, or theatre, or just a bloody good read, then The Truth About This Charming Man could be right up your street.

Read the opening chapter for free…

Still need more convincing (to part with less than a quid)? How about a sneaky look at the first chapter?

Read the rest of the opening chapter, for free, here.

Charming, fabulous, witty and easy to read book,
cannot wait for the sequal!

says amazon reader Lynn Wedge

 

Reading this in an email? If there’s a gap above that’s where a video would normally appear. Jump over to youtube to watch it.

 


TTATCM sidebarHot news! 

The Truth About This Charming Man is 99 pennies for the month of May 2017. Download the book for your smart phone, tablet, or kindle, today.

Visit BUYTHEBOOK.TODAY to buy the book… today!

(The FREE kindle reading app is available for everything. Seriously; EVERYTHING.)

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Fabulous Last Minute Christmas Gifts

christmas-2016
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find gift shopping can be something of a challenge.

It’s not the ‘buying’ of the gift that I find challenging, or the wrapping, or any of that malarky, it’s coming up with an idea in the first place. Just what do you buy your cousin Edwina, the woman who seems to have absolutely everything?? It’s the stuff of nightmares. Many sleepless nights. Perhaps both.

If you’re anything like me the days roll past and before you know it, you’re roaming the aisles of your local shopping centre, desperately hoping inspiration will jump out, shake you by the shoulders, and end it all.

Well relax. This year inspiration has chosen to send you an email. Or a tweet. Or however the heck you stumbled across this blog post. Consider the following…

Books make excellent gifts

You see! And I know what you’re thinking – it’s so obvious now I’ve come to mention it! And here’s something else, books signed by the author are even more special. Ha! No more crappy I-didn’t-know-what-to-get-you-so-I-got-you-this-voucher from you! You’ve just become a master of ‘thoughtful’ gifts.

Now where on earth can you lay your hands on a signed book or two?

Right here is where!

With just a click of your mouse, or a tap of your finger, any one of the six books I’ve penned could be winging their way to you with a personalised greeting inside, or a simple ‘Best Wishes’ if you want to keep your options open. Simply select the book, or books, of your choice, by clicking the links BELOW.

The Truth About This Charming ManTTATCM kindle

My second novel… yes SECOND! Where have you been. If your Aunt (Dad, Sister, Wife, Husband, Niece… delete where applicable) enjoys a good rom-com comedy with a bit of a heist thrown in, this could be their bag baby.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

TGGGTGTG-drop-shadow

 

The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl

My debut novel… if your gift-recipient likes Chick Lit Rom Coms in the style of Nick Horny or Mike Gayle, this could well be right up their street.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

 cover with drop shadow

How to Do Everything and Be Happy

The book that started it all: ‘How To Do Everything and Be Happy’ is a book for ordinary people. With ordinary lives. It’s for people who have been ambling along and wondering why they’re not – well – just that little bit happier.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

SDSW drop shadow colour small

How to Start Dating and Stop Waiting

If they need a real guide to getting the girl, or guy, this is it. Written for everyone who’s ever found dating a challenge, dating websites to be less than fulfilling, or ‘first dates’ terrifying… How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting will help them dodge the liars, & Lotharios, and have
them dating Mr or Ms Right in no time.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

FITI kindle

From Invisible To Irresistible

The smaller, quirkier, companion guide to the previous title. Let me fix those underlying problems that make your otherwise attractive charming gift-recipient seemingly invisible to those they’d like to date.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

 

ELSS-drop-shadow-colour

How to Eat Loads and Stay Slim

And finally.. How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim. It isn’t a diet book. Not in the traditional sense. It’s a book packed full of thought provoking, scientifically-provable, ideas and changes you can make to your life to increase your chances of being slim. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

The Truth About… Elizabeth M Hurst

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liz hurst

All this month, my second novel – THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS CHARMING MAN – is just 99p, as part of Amazon’s ongoing Summer Promo. Grab your copy here

…but not before I use the opportunity to shine a bright light into the eyes of an unsuspecting reader, and uncover the truth!

Today we’re grilling genre blending fiction author… Elizabeth M Hurst. Or Liz Hurst. Take your pick. 

Let’s get straight into it.

Liz, tell us one fact – one truth – that most people don’t know about you.

I have six tattoos and two piercings, none of which can be seen when I dress normally.

Saucy! If that doesn’t keep my blog-visitors reading, nothing will! So anyway, in my novel, all Will’s ever wanted in life is to be an actor. What is, or was, your greatest ambition?

I have a deep-seated desire to visit another planet. This probably won’t be possible in my lifetime, but I do feel we need to keep exploring space and maybe, in the not too distant future, we will start exploring more.

Will makes a living pretending to be people he isn’t – have you ever pretended to be someone or something you’re not? Why?

This is really difficult actually, because I am such a lousy liar that I’m not sure I could ever get away with pretending to be someone else. For the same reason, I never play poker for money!

Reading this in an email? If there’s a gap below that’s where a video would normally appear. Jump over to youtube to watch it.

Will finds himself in a situation where he has to be two of his characters … at the same meeting! But most people have been in the situation where they’ve been expected to be in two different places at the same time, or to carry out two tasks simultaneously. Have you ever been in a similar situation? What?

I once double-booked myself on two different first dates which was… Stressful! I liked both guys and didn’t really want to cancel either, on the basis that I may well lose that opportunity for good. So, I did what any sane woman does: I went to both!

I turned up deliberately early for the first and sent a apologetic text to the second, asking if we could meet up an hour later.

Luckily, the first guy wasn’t really what I was looking for so I managed to leave early enough to make the second date. However, by the time I arrived I was somewhat flustered, and so not relaxed enough to enjoy my time with guy number two, which must have been obvious because in the end I went home alone and ended up with neither.

The moral of this story is: don’t do it!

1 pair of glasses

Without giving too much away… did you have a favourite scene (in TTATCM)? Which one?

The climax, in the restaurant, is my favourite part. In the movie version, Zorba the Greek should be playing in the background while the characters are dashing around. Hilarious!

Keira Knightley

Who would you like to see in a movie of THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS CHARMING MAN?

alex as willkatie as rachel

Will = Alex Hassell (left)

Rachel = Katie Holmes (right)

Zlata = Keira Knightley (above) – I’d love to see her smoking and eating junk food!

What are you working on right now?

The second novel in the Lost Souls series is my current Work In Progress. It features some of the same characters as Siren Spirit, but there’s a new mystery to solve, another haunting and a tricky emotional crisis to overcome. I’ve done much more historical.

Find out more about Liz on her website, on facebook, & on twitter.

Have you read The Truth About This Charming Man? Fancy being interrogated? Drop me a line!


TTATCM sidebarHot news! 

The Truth About This Charming Man is part of Amazon’s Summer Promo – for the entire month of June you can download the book for your smart phone, tablet, or kindle, for a mere 99p.

Visit BUYTHEBOOK.TODAY to buy the book… today!

(The FREE kindle reading app is available for everything. Seriously; EVERYTHING.)

The Truth About… Iain Pattison

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iain

All this month, my second novel – THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS CHARMING MAN – is just 99p, as part of Amazon’s Summer Promo. Grab your copy here

…but not before I use the opportunity to shine a bright light into the eyes of an unsuspecting reader, and uncover the truth!

Today we’re grilling humorist, and writer of all things quirky… Iain Pattison

Let’s get straight into it!

Iain – tell us one fact – one truth – that most people don’t know about you.

I’m terrified of clowns – I find masks of any kind creepy. However, I have absolutely no fear of heights. So if a clown came after me, I’d probably scramble up the nearest tree. Even if he didn’t suffer from acrophobia, I’d be counting on him finding it tough to climb in those oversized shoes…

All Will’s ever wanted in life is to be an actor. What is, or was, your greatest ambition?

 I’m a frustrated stand-up comedian. Sometimes when I’ve appeared at writers conferences kind souls have told me they thought I was very amusing and that I should give full time comedy a go. It’s an enticing thought but I know there’s a world of difference between injecting humour into a short story workshop and standing on a lonely Comedy Store stage at midnight facing a crowd of inebriated hecklers. For one thing drunks tend not to want to hear whether Noah’s flood ordeal counts as having a narrative arc …

Reading this in an email? If there’s a gap below that’s where a video would normally appear. Jump over to youtube to watch it.

Will makes a living pretending to be people he isn’t – have you ever pretended to be someone or something you’re not? Why?

Years ago when I was a cub reporter on my local newspaper there was a rumour going round that a national bakery chain was going to open a shop in our town, complete with cafe. Trouble was, they wouldn’t speak to any journalists to confirm the story. I rang up pretending to be from the local planning department and was put straight through to the Managing Director. Some people would call it lying – we hacks call it initiative.

Will finds himself in a situation where he has to be two of his characters … at the same meeting! But most people have been in the situation where they’ve been expected to be in two different places at the same time, or to carry out two tasks simultaneously. Have you ever been in a similar situation? What?

Also in my cub reporter days, I used to accompany the newspaper’s photographer around on a Saturday visiting various weddings in the neighbourhood. He’d take a snap, I’d get names and a few details so I could write a long caption.

One week Ken asked if I could do him a favour. He was double booked (he was a bit vague on details) and suggested that I go to one wedding on my own. He’d lend me a camera.

Reluctantly, I agreed. It was only when I turned up the church that I discovered to my horror that I wasn’t just taking a quick snap for the paper – I was actually booked as the couple’s OFFICIAL wedding photographer. Ken had been doing sneaky freelance jobs on the side and had got too greedy!

It was a fiasco of crash, bang, wallop proportions. I took pictures with people’s heads sliced off, missed the newly-weds kissing at the end of the service and mistook the best man for the groom. I don’t know who cried more – me or the bride. They demanded and got a full refund. I was so awful that I didn’t even get a bit of the cake that I failed to capture being ceremoniously cut.

99p for the next five customers

Without giving too much away… did you have a favourite scene (in TTATCM)? Which one?

I love the hilarious scenes where Will is desperately trying to teach his hopeless students to be actors – and failing at every turn. It reminds me of some of my more challenging night school classes teaching creative writing. “No, inner conflict isn’t your protagonist punching his own internal organs!”

Is it true that you once dated Helen Mirren?

No, but I’ll give a fiver to anyone willing to spread this scurrilous falsehood.

Who would you like to see in a movie of THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS CHARMING MAN?

johnApart from the fact that he’s American and now too old for the role, I’d love to see John Cusack cast as the lead.. He has that warmth, Kooky lost little boy charisma and sense of barely suppressed panic that makes Will such a likeable and scatty hero.

Helen-Mirren-1As for Zlata – his sexy/barmy/histrionic East European theatrical agent? A younger Helen Mirren springs to mind – but I’m afraid she often springs to mind. Hence the restraining order…

Find out more about Iain and his quirky goings on at IainPattison.com – and take a butchers at his latest short story collections at DoubleQBooks.com

Have you read The Truth About This Charming Man? Fancy being interrogated? Drop me a line!


TTATCM sidebarHot news! 

The Truth About This Charming Man is part of Amazon’s Summer Promo – for the entire month of June you can download the book for your smart phone, tablet, or kindle, for a mere 99p.

Visit BUYTHEBOOK.TODAY to buy the book… today!

(The FREE kindle reading app is available for everything. Seriously; EVERYTHING.)

The Truth About… Shelley Wilson

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this book 99p

It’s started! All this month, THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS CHARMING MAN – is just 99p, as part of Amazon’s Summer Promo.

Grab your copy here

Meanwhile, let’s use the opportunity to shine a bright light into the eyes of an unsuspecting reader, and uncover the truth!

SONY DSC

Today we’re grilling fellow self-help Author, YA fantasy novelist, blogger supremo (is that a word? Is now.) …and busy Mum of three, Shelley Wilson.

Let’s get straight into it.

Shelley, tell us one fact – one truth – that most people don’t know about you.

Ooh, I could tell you some stories but as my mum is one of your biggest fans (and will no doubt read this post) I better stick with a tame answer. I love tattoos and have two – one on my back and another on my wrist. I really want a third one but can’t decide what to have.

In the novel, all Will’s ever wanted in life is to be an actor. What is, or was, your greatest ambition?

From as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. It’s the one constant thing in my life. When I was about fifteen my mum bought me a tape cassette (yep, I’m that old) on ‘How To Write for Mills & Boon’ – I don’t think she would have encouraged me at such a young age if she’d realised how raunchy some of their books were!

Reading this in an email? If there’s a gap below that’s where a video would normally appear. Jump over to youtube to watch it.

Will makes a living pretending to be people he isn’t – have you ever pretended to be someone or something you’re not? Why?

I’ve never pretended to be someone else, although I did enjoy reading the scenes in your book when Will had to act out his scenario as ‘loving boyfriend’ and ‘flirting tutor’. It could be so much fun to pretend to be someone else – I was told I looked like Davina Mccall once so maybe I could pretend to live her glamorous lifestyle!

I do, however, pretend to be something I’m not on a regular basis – I pretend to be confident when I’m actually screaming inside. This tactic has got me through so many situations as I trick myself into believing that I’m this strong, confident woman. I believe that if you can act a certain way then you believe it to be true – maybe this is how Will prepares for his acting jobs?

Will finds himself in a situation where he has to be two of his characters … at the same meeting! But most people have been in the situation where they’ve been expected to be in two different places at the same time, or to carry out two tasks simultaneously. Have you ever been in a similar situation? What?

My life is a constant battle of having to be in two different places at the same time – that’s the everyday life of a single parent! Most of these situations involved getting my three children to various social/sporting events on opposite sides of town within minutes of each other. Most of the time I manage it, but occasionally I’ll admit defeat.

As a Gemini (on the cusp) I also have a knack for being able to carry out multiple tasks simultaneously – although I have realised that reading my kindle while stirring the Bolognese will always end in disaster!

Who would you like to see in a movie of THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS CHARMING MAN?

jakeI loved Will’s character as he was sweet, funny, and slightly desperate (in a nice way) and so I immediately thought about New Girl actor, Jake Johnson.

Rachel is your typical beautiful heroine, girl next door type who could be played by any of my favourite actresses – Anne Hathaway stands out for me.

missi-pyleZlata is a tricky one because she is so unique, funny, caring and eccentric, however, I think Missi Pyle would be perfect!

Without giving too much away… did you have a favourite scene (in TTATCM)? Which one?

Ooh, there are so many scenes that I love – most of them contained Zlata (everyone’s favourite agent). One scene that sticks in my mind is the flirting workshop that Will and Zlata run. I found this highly amusing as Will, in his acting role of ‘Gary’, tries to teach a group of men how to create romance out of nothing.

Talking of ‘flirting workshops’ & ‘romance’… what is the most awkward moment you’ve ever had on a date?

I briefly joined a dating site (many years ago) and went on a couple of disastrous nights out – on one such occasion my seemingly normal date proceeded to smell my hair in the pub, leap from his stool and exclaim that we were ‘Tresemme Twins’! I cancelled my account shortly after and have enjoyed – and embraced – the single life ever since.

Find out more about Shelley Wilson at shelleywilsonauthor.com

Have you read The Truth About This Charming Man? Fancy being interrogated? Drop me a line!


TTATCM sidebarHot news! 

The Truth About This Charming Man is part of Amazon’s Summer Promo – for the entire month of June you can download the book for your smart phone, tablet, or kindle, for a mere 99p.

Visit BUYTHEBOOK.TODAY to buy the book… today!

(The FREE kindle reading app is available for everything. Seriously; EVERYTHING.)

The Truth About Great Cover Design…

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TTATCM publicity

Book covers.

I hate ’em.

No really, that’s the truth, because that age old piece of advice – never judge a book by its cover – is universally IGNORED!

Everyone judges pretty much everything by its cover, ESPECIALLY books. So it really doesn’t matter how many months I spent slaving over the words on the inside, if the cover isn’t absolutely perfect (or as close as), I’ll have pretty much wasted my time. After all, I went through goodness knows how many covers for my first novel and to this day I’m still not entirely sure we got it absolutely right (read about that here).

So it was with considerable trepidation that I approached the cover design for my latest fiction offering; The Truth About This Charming Man. And just for “fun” (yours, not mine) my agent thought you might enjoy seeing the personal torment we went through to arrive at the FABULOUS jacket above / to the right. That’s nice of her, isn’t it.

Anyway, let’s start with these three doodles…

The Truth - proof4 The Truth - proof The Truth - proof2

If you’re shaking your head in bewilderment I can’t say I blame you. Let me give you some context:

My latest novel was never intended to be a novel at all. Back at the beginning of 2015, in a desperate attempt to plug the hole in my bank account, I’d written a five part story entitled The Truth. The plan was to submit it to a well-known weekly women’s publication in the hopes that they might serialise it. This is a bit like trying to solve a financial crisis by purchasing a single lottery ticket, but still, I was determined.

The basic plot was (and still is… to some degree) about a thirty something actor who, despite never having secured a ‘proper’ role on stage or screen, has, somehow, landed three unusuallet’s call them ‘positions’… pretending to be whoever his clients need him to be. And although it still isn’t proper theatre, by and large, life is pretty good for our hero… until the day he needs to play two of those people. At the same meeting.

It’s an idea that Kate and I originally came up with many years ago – although typically, when I actually came to write it, it morphed into something very different, and in my humble opinion, far better, than what we’d originally envisaged.

In fact, so pleased was I with my second piece of full length fiction that I resolved to self-publish it as a novella should the magazine in question decide not to take the story. Hence the doodles above. These are *some* of my attempts at what I thought might be the cover… and I hated them. I still do. In my head I had this idea about our hero falling between sinister versions of the two famous actor masks. I realised too that the design had to be at least sympathetic to my first novel, but I just couldn’t get it to work; close friends I shared these doodles with said it made the book look like a murder mystery. Arrrgghhh!

FORTUNATELY, around March of last year, destiny stepped in.

I’d just landed myself a new agent, who in turn had secured a publicity deal with amazon, which led to my first novel being re-vamped and re-published. But before I’d even signed my contract, my agent was understandably keen to know what else could be in the pipeline. So I showed her The Truth, and… she loved it.

Though she didn’t love the title.

Or the fact it was a novella.

“Go away,” she said, “and turn this into a proper, full-length novel… with a better title.”

Nine months later and I had finished The Truth About This Charming Man.

Which brings us onto this…

THE TRUTH kindle proof

 

I was still basking in the glory of somehow completing an entire novel in the tenth of the time it had taken me to write the first one, when this cover was designed. Maybe I wasn’t being objective but at the time I loved the masks. I loved the way they’re all angry or sad with the exception of the one he’s wearing. I loved the spot light. I loved everything about it. I was in love!

So pleased was I – and so confident that both amazon and my agent would love it too – I grabbed my wallet and went right ahead and had the finished artwork made up.

Oops.

My agent did like it, sort of, but there were some problems.

Firstly, apparently books that are obviously about actors or acting are unpopular with publishers (as are books to do with writers, or writing). So anything with actor masks on it was a strict no-no.

Secondly, my market, apparently, is women’s contemporary romantic fiction. Regardless of whether my books are heavy on the romance or not 90% of my readers fit that demographic, and therefore it’s those ladies that have to look at the cover and go “Ooooo…”

I was sent back to the drawing board, with strict instructions to come back with ‘at least three’ ideas that we could pick from.

Several days later – with the dread that this entire process might take as long as it did last time hanging over my head – this design popped out:

TTATCM man in heart sketch

I liked it!

I felt we’d finally cracked the font. I liked the colour. The strap-line felt right.

I wasn’t sure whether we’d get away with the mask on the man…  more than that though, I was even more worried it still wouldn’t appeal to the women’s contemporary romantic fiction market.

A fear that was addressed by the following…

TTATCM bench sketch copy

Bear in mind this is a sketch, so it’s a bit rough round the edges. Those lines on the bench wouldn’t be there in a finished version.

I hate it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. It’s more or less a scene from the book, and I like the London skyline, but it’s so… chick-lit. There’s nothing wrong with chick-lit of course, but slap a cover like this on my book and I could envisage two things happening:

  1. I’d lose every single one of my male readers (even though there are probably about 6, and I know them all by name).
  2. There would be more than a few female readers who were hoping for a plot that’s a good deal more romantic than the one I’ve actually come up with.

Put simply, I wasn’t convinced it was a  good fit, even if I knew, in my heart of hearts, that this was probably the cover amazon and my agent would go for.

There hardly seemed any point in having a third idea – so I suggested a simple typographical solution, using the font and background colour from the first idea, maybe the border from the second idea. Just something we could throw into the mix so we could say, hand on heart, that we’d delivered three covers. The book equivalent of a guy in a red jersey beaming down to an unexplored planet with Captain Kirk.

What I got was this…

TTATCM typographical solution sketch

This is another sketch. Those glasses, I was assured, wouldn’t have the words shutterstock across them. But I wasn’t listening. What I was thinking was…

Woah!

I knew pretty much instantly that this was it. There was a kind of stirring. In my loins. Despite the fact that this design was turned out in the time it took me to send an email, go downstairs, make a cup of tea, and come back up again – I just knew.

And I wasn’t alone. I sent all three covers to several friends, and most chose the design above over the other two. Especially those friends who hadn’t seen any other design, or had no idea what the book was about.

My favourite bit of feedback was this:

“I like the glasses. It makes me think of ‘deception’ – but also about those comedy glasses you could buy with a big nose and bushy eyebrows attached.”

Perfect!

Interestingly, those that didn’t choose this design, chose the couple on the bench. But no one liked the guy in the mask.

So, naughty though it may be, I casually forgot about the guy in the mask. I know, I know – I was tasked with submitting three ideas, but I wanted my favourite to have at least a 50/50 chance of winning even though I was 100% certain that the chick-lit cover would beat it to a pulp!

And I’m delighted to say I was wrong.

My agent circulated the two covers (the ones on offer) round her agency and my fave won hands down! The only objection being that it might not be *quite* romantic enough… and was it possible to ‘fix’ that? Which is why we came up with the finished version below by adding a little bit of a glow and a few love hearts (including the dot on the i in the word ‘charming’).

Personally I prefer the un-romanticised version, but hey – it’s not that much of a compromise. I’m still proud to be associated with this design.

TTATCM kindle

But… maybe we’ve got it wrong?

Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below.


TTATCM sidebar

Hot news; my second novel The Truth About This Charming Man is available right now, in paperback and for your phone, tablet, computer or kindle device!

Read the opening chapter, right now, right here.

The film will be along some time in the next decade.

Who could be in a movie of ‘The Truth About This Charming Man’?

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TTATCM cinema

Back in those early heady days of bashing out my first novel, my friend Wendy criticised me for being a little scant on my character description.

“I don’t know what these people look like,” she said.

I mumbled some rubbish about wanting my readers to make up their own mind and she probably gave me one of her looks, because I went straight home and spent the next few hours on google finding images of actors & actresses that reminded me of the characters I’d created, and could make a pretty good job of playing that character should the book ever be made into a movie, or turned into telly. I printed those pictures off, stuck them on a notice board in my office, and glanced at them frequently whenever I was writing.

It’s a trick that I’ve adopted ever since. Right now, hanging just to the right of my computer screen, is a cork board with a picture of Martin Freeman on it. An actor who would be absolutely excellent in the lead role of my third novel.

Yes, third.

My second novelThe Truth About This Charming Man came out mere days ago, and here’s something quite exciting, there’s already been some chat about turning it into a movie! And I’m not referring to  private insane ramblings between me and my cat. I mean proper, serious, genuine ‘chat’ by people whose job it is to rub shoulders with those who are in a position to actually make things happen, and tempt them with the movie / TV rights of their numerous clients.

Now I expect these kind of conversations happen quite frequently, and I expect the vast majority of those conversations never amount to anything – just as (so I’m told), only a very small percentage of books where the movie / TV rights are successfully negotiated actually ever end up being made into anything you’re ever like to see – but it’s all very exciting none the less, and because of my approach to figuring out character description, should anyone ever ask me if I’ve got any ideas who should play which role, I can do something more than mumble “I dunno, that guy from one of the X-men films?”

Here then, are those pictures that until recently were pinned just to the right of my desk. Those talented stars of stage and screen who I would dearly love to breathe life into the lives of people who up until a few days ago only existed in my head.

If you’ve already started reading The Truth About This Charming Man I’d love to know what you think. Post your thoughts, feelings, or alternative casting ideas in the comments at the bottom of this page (or here if you’re reading this in an email).

William Lewis (James MacAvoy)will

“My name is William. Will to my friends. Though it could just as easily be Gary, or Roger, or Stephan – just tell me who you’d like me to be and watch me morph into someone else. It’s not lying. Lying is an untruth. This is acting. It’s telling a story, and stories are a good thing: they teach us. They help us to make sense of the world. They allow us to stay safe – in that way they’re better than the truth.”

James MacAvoy was pretty much my first choice when casting the story’s lead character in my mind. Though I know nothing about the man (other than his numerous screen appearances) I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if he’s as obsessed about his craft in real life, as Will is in the book.

Nathia Brockenhurst (Olivia Williams)
nathia

“Nathia’s smiling when she opens the door. A big, warm, welcoming smile that promises an evening of laughter and cocktails. The smile falters when she sees that it’s me. “You’re late,” she says with enough venom to poison a small army. She turns and stomps back into her apartment, and I notice she’s already in full costume: slim-fit high-waist sleek-black trousers, semi-translucent shirt, killer heels – the usual Nathia attire.”

I’ve always been a big fan of Olivia Williams, and when it comes to playing high-flying brutal-business-woman-with-a-secret Nathia Brockenhurst, I have absolutely no doubt she’d walk the part.

Michael Richmond (Hugh Grant)hugh_grant

“In many ways Michael Richmond is a man out of time. A century or two ago he’d have a bushy moustache, impressive sideburns, and a belly the size of a small country. He’d spend his evenings smoking expensive cigars and talking about his time in Africa. Roll back the centuries still further and I can imagine him dressed in animal furs, sporting a heavy copper helmet, and wielding a blade high above his head before he conquers another village, and takes his pick of the wenches available. But instead Michael goes to the gym. He watches his weight. He pops statins. And on evenings such as this, he shares stories of boring corporate deals negotiated across expensive but dull conference room tables. Is it any wonder that he drinks too much, laughs too loudly, and always looks as if he might explode at any given moment? That granite exterior is holding a lifetime of frustration in place. “

Hugh Grant built almost an entire career playing ‘the toff’, ‘the fop’, and every variation in-between. But allegedly Helen Fielding always had him in mind for the character of Daniel bit-of-a-bastard Cleaver in Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s that charming-but-evil element that I think he could carry off so well in the role of Michael Richmond.

Rachel Richmond (Anne Hathaway)
rachel

“But behind that shy smile, those beautiful soft cappuccino eyes, and her tall, lean, slightly Arabian veneer, is someone else. And sometimes, when she’s asked me an innocent sounding question, she stays quiet after I’ve given my answer, like she’s waiting for me to say more, waiting for me to give myself away. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t give me something of a buzz.”

When it came to casting the love-interest it really didn’t take me long to come up with a suitable candidate. Oh come on. Can you blame me? If I’ve got to write convincing love-scenes then when I glance up at the pin board I need to be looking directly into the face of a woman I could easily find myself falling in love with! That’s my excuse, I’m sticking to it.

Zlata Ruzencova (Vera Farmiga)
Zlata

“One particularly chilly morning in March, an eccentric gum chewing woman of indeterminate years – all wild bleached blonde hair (with dark roots), pristine makeup (and plenty of it) – turned up on my doorstep.
‘Hello,’ she said, as I opened the door. ‘You are Lewis, the actor. Yes?’
‘If you say so,’ I replied. It was very early in the morning. Too early to be standing on my doorstep talking to a tall lady in a fake-fur-coat that just about covered her shoulders, and a snake-skin mini-skirt that was barely long enough to cover, well, anything.”

Of all the characters in the book Zlata is far and away my favourite. Even now, long after I penned her last few lines, she’s still in my head, passing judgement on all that I do, and asking me, sometimes several times a day, where is my plan for cake.

If I were an actress (just go with me on this), then Zlata would be the role I would love to play. Casting her however, was a huge challenge. No one seemed quite right – then a friend suggested Vera Farmiga and after that, well… there was no after that! She’s perfect.

So? What d’you think? Post your thoughts and / or alternative casting suggestions in the comments.


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Hot news; my second novel The Truth About This Charming Man is available right now, in paperback and for your phone, tablet, computer or kindle device!

Read the opening chapter, right now, right here.

The film will be along some time in the next decade.