My Mother's Shadow by Nikola Scott ** Blog Tour Guest Post and Review**

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Nikola Scott to Books, Life and Everything today to give us the lowdown on her 'Writing Tools'. I am thrilled to be part of the official Blog Tour for Nikola's debut novel, My Mother's Shadow. Before we meet Nikola, let us find out a little more about her novel:

Hartland House has always been a faithful keeper of secrets.

Sent to beautiful Hartland to be sheltered from her mother's illness, Liz spends the summer with the wealthy Shaw family. They treat Liz as one of their own, but their influence could be dangerous...

Addie believes she knows everything about her mother Elizabeth and their difficult relationship until her recent death. When a stranger appears claiming to be Addie's sister, she is stunned. Is everything she's been told about her early life a lie?

How can you find the truth about the past if the one person who can tell you is gone? Addie must go back to that golden summer her mother never spoke of... and the one night that changed a young girl's life forever. 

Welcome to Books, Life and Everything, Nikola. Over to you!

                                                               My Writing Tools

I have an unhealthy addiction to notebooks – I keep one for every novel, two if I write a dual time-frame, and I will often go through two or even three per plot. They would probably not make any sense at all to anyone but me because I use them to brainstorm plot and character on the page: notes, fragments, questions to myself. There’s two whole double-page spreads in there somewhere, where I trial-kill off every single character in the plot to see which one would have the biggest impact.

I bought the smallest, lightest laptop I could because I will often carry it along to while away the waiting time at kids’ activities, appointments or I’m taking it with me on holiday.

Scrivener is the writing programme I use and it is hands-down the most brilliant, most useful tool I’ve come across in recent years. I’m addicted to lists and structure and, well, let’s face it, order in general, and this has completely transformed the way I write. It allows you to plot laterally as well as chronologically without letting you descend into chaos, it keeps tabs on characters, it enables you to isolate individual plot strands and about a million things more. And you can make it look pretty and colourful, too!

I adore my noise-cancelling headphones. Not only are they like little duvets for your ears, but they keep the outside world at bay, useful both for writing under extreme conditions and just generally when life gets a little too much. These are quite old already and well-loved. As with everything else in life, they now only produce fancier and bigger models, so my children know not to touch these under absolute pain of death, so that I can still write with them on when I’m 70.

I love stationery and pens and I will often colour-code or highlight my notes. I admire writers who write their first drafts in longhand and even though that wouldn’t ever be me, I do find there’s a strange and quite amazing alchemy when you put a pen to paper, so I use all these colours copiously in my notebooks.

Thanks so much, Nikola. Having read My Mother's Shadow, I am in awe of your plotting and can see that you have put all these tools to good use!

                                                                  My Thoughts 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading My Mother's Shadow. It was partly because of the gorgeous writing style which evokes the place and time so beautifully but also because the characters are so elegantly drawn. The story moves along two different timelines, one in 1958 and one in the present day. It is intriguing to see not just the differences in attitudes in the two times, but also to pick out the similarities between the two women. Motherhood and in particular relationships between mothers and daughters are central to both stories. It is also heartbreaking to see both Liz and Addie thinking about their mothers and knowing that they can never have a conversation again. Secrets from the past come down through the generations. There is a melancholy to the story as both Liz and Addie are left bereaved and bereft.

    The outstanding aspect of the book has to be the descriptive prose which captures the atmosphere of an English Summer in 1958. The opening chapter completely sets the tone and as the story unfolds, the twists and turns in the mystery intrigue. I also thought that the blossoming relationship between Addie and Phoebe who claims to be her twin sister is believable, as they alternate between caution and then feelings of kinship. Addie's relationship with her younger sister, Venetia, is complicated and has a ring of truth as they vie for the memory of their mother. The jealousy which lies just beneath the surface coupled with the sincere affection they feel for each other is a clever touch.

    Attitudes towards women in the 1950's are revealed to be at times, rather cruel and dark. Despite the efforts of women in the recent World War, some have relegated them back to the traditional homemaker role of earlier decades and respectability has a very narrow remit. It is interesting to compare the attitudes of society in the present day chapters with the 1950's and particularly of the men towards the women in the story.

In short: a family mystery told in beautiful, evocative prose.

                                                                 About the Author

Born and raised in Germany, Nikola studied English and German at university before moving abroad to work as a crime and women’s fiction editor in New York and London for many years. She now lives in Frankfurt with her husband and two boys, writing full-time.

You can follow Nikola here: Website 
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  |  Pinterest 

Thanks to Nikola Scott and Becky Hunter of Headline Press for a copy of the book and a place on the Blog Tour via Bookbridgr.

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