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Death at Lovers Leap by Catherine Coles #Review#PublicationDay

    Today I am featuring the third in a cozy crime series by Catherine Coles , The Martha Miller Mysteries . Death at Lovers' Leap is published today, on February 16th by Boldwood Books .You can read my review of the first in the series, Poison at the Village Show   here amd the second, Death at the Country Fair   here .     Westleham Village 1948 As Valentine's Day rolls around, Martha Miller finds herself unusually melancholy at the state of her own love life. With husband Stan still missing and with her growing feelings for Vicar Luke still shrouded in secrecy, there’s only one place Martha can go - famous local beauty spot, Lovers' Leap. Legend has it that those with a broken heart throw themselves off the bridge that spans the river, but Martha is certainly not about to do such a thing! But it looks like someone else has had other ideas…. Because there in the river, Martha finds a body. But is this misadventure, a moment of lovesick madness, or is foul play a

Meet the Author- R.D.Stevens

I am delighted to introduce you today to R.D. Stevens whose novel, The Journal, was published in February 2018, by Troubador.

Welcome to Books, Life and Everything.

Would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself and how you started as a writer?

First of all, thank you so much for giving me the chance to tell you a little about myself and my recently published book The Journal.

I grew up in an unremarkable village in Kent in the 1980s and, after finishing school and studying for a Philosophy degree, I escaped and travelled/worked my way around the world for two years. After returning to the UK, I worked in the charity sector briefly before training as a teacher and completing my MA in Religious Education. I currently live in South East London with my wife, young son and dog, and work as a Head of Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at a nearby secondary school. 

I have been writing on and off for about ten years now and thoroughly enjoy the process. I write mainly in the time that I try to find during my evenings and weekends. What began as writing songs for a number of decidedly mediocre bands, turned into something more substantial when I signed up for a series of creative writing classes. During the classes, I really enjoyed setting aside the time to write and free up my mind to think about something completely different. Now, when I sit down at the laptop and stare at the pixelated page, I enjoy the feeling of escape and the freedom of retreating into the world of my imagination for a few hours.

What are you interests apart from writing?

I love to listen to and play music. I play a few different instruments and have been a member of some highly unsuccessful bands. I take headphones with me wherever I go and find that any music that is what I would describe as ‘honest’ can be a source of inspiration for my writing. I have a passion for philosophy and must say that I enjoy teaching it; the experience of discussing philosophical and ethical questions with enquiring, critical minds is something in which I find great value. However, one of my greatest loves is to travel, and I used certain places that I have visited as the inspiration for the setting in The Journal.

Tell us about your latest book without giving the plot away.

The Journal poses the question: What do you do when you lose the only thing that you truly care for? It is a coming of age story about Ethan Willis, a young man on the cusp of adulthood, who is compelled to discover what happened to his sister, Charlotte, a wild adventurer who was last heard from in the depths of Southeast Asia. Ethan sets out to follow in her footsteps and embarks on a journey without a clear goal in sight, unaware that his life is about to change rapidly and irrevocably. The closer he gets to discovering the truth about his sister, the more he begins to understand himself, as well as his place in the world. 

The Journal draws on my experience of teaching philosophy and there is plenty of existential musing and blue-sky dreaming in the book. The naïve protagonist is led to address many of his questions about meaning, truth and beauty as his journey progresses. The Journal is aimed at readers who enjoy thoughtful, poignant reads that examine the nature of the relationships between family, and the philosophical questions that we all face about truth and finding our place in the universe.

How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic? 

Whilst travelling abroad I keep journals and try to use those first-hand experiences of beautiful, complex or stark settings as part of the research for my next book. In beginning The Journal, I instinctively felt that South East Asia would be the perfect setting for the story I had in mind. There is such a rich depth of variety, colours, tastes, sounds and experiences in South East Asia that I felt it would be the ideal place to throw my protagonist, Ethan, in at the deep end. On my travels, I spent over six months in South East Asia and visited Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia and The Philippines. I wanted Ethan’s journey, and introduction to the backpacking world, to begin in a busy, bustling capital city and then take him out to some of the beautiful countryside and stunning beaches that are on offer. 

I decided that Phnom Penh in Cambodia would be the place to start, with the horrors of the Killing Fields and S-21 prison camp offering a stark contrast to the party lifestyle of the backpacker scene in the old Lakeside area of Boeung Kak (which I believe has since sadly been landfilled by property developers). I knew his time in South East Asia, as he traced his sister’s footsteps, would be brief and decided that the climax of the story would fit the excitement and anticipation of a Full Moon Party on Ko Pha Ngan. Opting for Ethan’s journey to begin in Cambodia, and end in Thailand, I wanted him to experience Laos as a counterpoint in between. These places can offer visceral experiences in which the beauty, awe and corruption of the world are never too far away, but they are also very culturally different, and I wanted to ensure that came through in the narrative.

I set The Journal almost entirely in places that I had personally visited in order to be able to authentically represent their feel and character as best as I could.

Do you have any guilty pleasures which stop/ help you write?

I find that I cannot successfully make myself write if I am not in the correct frame of mind. I am envious of those who can set aside a particular time each day and guarantee some kind of end product. I try to build the time into my evenings, and putting on some good music with a glass of wine or a cold beer often helps me to relax and get into the right mindset to try and be creative. 

Does writing energize or exhaust you? 

I really enjoy writing and would continue to write even if nobody ever read anything I wrote down (which is always a possibility!). The process often energizes me and I find that if I can get into the right groove then the time passes very quickly. Holding on to that passage of time when everything is going well is one of the most challenging aspects of writing for me because, given that I lack the luxury of writing full-time, there is always something else to consider and real life inevitably returns.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Avoid adverbs and saying anything is ‘like’ something else wherever possible. Keep dialogue and any action scenes clean and uncomplicated. Consider whether the words that you use in any context are absolutely necessary. If there is any chance that the sentence would still work without a particular word, then leave it out. Basically, I would tell myself to leave out any non-essential language, which when I first started writing composed much of what I had written. I would also tell myself that just because you’ve written something that you think is clever, does not mean that it is…

Do you believe in writer’s block? What do you do to break its spell? 

I don’t believe in writer’s block per se. There are undeniably moments when it is easier to write than others, but I’m not sure I would describe this so much as a ‘block’, rather as an ‘obstacle’. ‘Block’ implies immovability, obstacles can be overcome. If I have an obstacle, then I find either going away from the writing and coming back to it in a different setting or putting on a different piece of music can help to shift the pattern of my thinking.

Can you give any hints about any upcoming books you have planned? 

I am currently in the process of writing my second novel. This story is very different from the first and is set in a world that is similar to ours but with one or two crucial differences. The inspiration for this came from Sidney Shoemaker’s thought experiment concerning the possibility of a world in which there is time without change. The style is very different to The Journal, but there are some familiar themes present concerning existentialism and the quest for meaning. I am excited about finishing the story, however there is still a lot of writing to be done!

That sounds fascinating! For those who would like to know more about The Journal, here's a little about the book: 

What do you do when you lose the only thing that you truly care for?

Ethan Willis is a confused 18 year old who struggles with the uncertainties of life and has just embarked on a quest to find his elder sister, Charlotte, who disappeared whilst travelling in South East Asia. Ethan admires and idolises his sister for her spontaneity, individualism and worldly understanding. His quest to locate her throws him into the backpacking world and, following what could be his sister’s ghost, he is taken on a journey through the countryside of Cambodia, into the remotest parts of Laos and finally to the party islands of Thailand.

When Ethan finds his sister’s journal by chance, he traces her footsteps. The travel journal, along with flashbacks to their childhood, reveals Charlotte’s nature and her relationship with Ethan, taking the young man on an existential journey as he is led to address many of his questions about meaning, truth and beauty.

With the help of a Elodie, a fragile and complex girl with whom he has developed a meaningful relationship, and his own growing sense of self-esteem, Ethan begins to question his relationship with his sister and why she disappeared. When he finally learns of a place in which he might be able to locate his sister, will he be ready to find her?

You can follow the author here: Website   |  Twitter 


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