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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 - Natasha Tynes


 I am happy to be welcoming author, Natasha Tynes to Books, Life and Everything today. Natasha's debut novel, They called me Wyatt  will be out in June 2019 from California Coldblood Books, an imprint of Rare Bird Books.  The novel is a murder mystery set between Jordan and the US. 


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





I’m a Jordanian-American award-winning author based in the Washington, DC area. My byline has appeared in the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, and the Jordan Times, among many other outlets. My short stories have been published in Geometry, The Timerbline Review and Fjords. My debut novel They Called Me Wyatt will be published in June 2019 by California Coldblood Books, an imprint of Rare Bird Books. I’m the recipient of F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival award for short fiction.


I started writing fiction as soon as I moved to the US from Jordan 14 years ago. I started by writing and publishing short stories in literary journals. Eventually, I gathered enough motivation and confidence to write my own novel.

When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?

Early on. Very early one, in elementary school. I was probably nine or ten years old. My teachers noticed it, and I always got compliments on my writing. I knew it was my calling most of my life. That’s why I pursued journalism as a career, because I was attracted to the writing aspect.  I only started writing fiction in my late twenties after I read a profile of Yiyun Li in the Washington Post. I was really impressed by the fact that when she moved to the US she hardly knew any English and that she first majored in science, and later switched her major, pursuing her love for writing.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I would be working in the communications field, which is what I’m doing now for my day job.  I would also work as a journalist, which is what I did for over a decade in the Middle East and in the US.

What are you interests apart from writing?

I like to read, of course. I love to cook. I also like to take hikes in the roads and run outdoors when I have the time.

What is your favorite childhood book?
 
I was really into the Baby Sitters Club series. I read all the books. I even decided to be a babysitter when I was 16.

Where were you when you heard your first book was going to be published? How did you celebrate?

I was at work that day. I think it was a Friday. I texted my husband and my friends immediately. That evening, me my husband and my three kids went out to eat at California Pizza Kitchen. My kids also treated themselves to some candy!

Tell us three surprising things about yourself.

I speak Spanish. Really well! I used to play the violin and was part of the Jordan National Symphonic Orchestra.  I’m really good at chess.

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

My book is about Jordanian student Siwar Salaiha who after she gets murdered on her birthday in College Park, Maryland, her consciousness survives, finding refuge in the body of a Seattle baby boy. Stuck in this speech delayed three-year old body, Siwar tries but fails to communicate with Wyatt’s parents, instead she focuses on solving the mystery behind her murder. Eventually, her consciousness goes into a dormant state after Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure.

Fast-forward twenty-two years. Wyatt is a well-adjusted young man with an affinity towards the Middle East and a fear of heights. While working on his graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies, Wyatt learns about Siwar’s death, which occurred twenty-five years ago. For reasons he can’t explain, he grows obsessed with Siwar and spends months investigating her death, which police at the time erroneously ruled as suicide. His investigation forces him to open a door he has kept shut all his life, a spiritual connection to an unknown entity that he frequently refused to acknowledge. His leads take him to Amman, Jordan where after talking to her friends and family members and through his special connection with the deceased, he discovers a clue that unravels the mystery of her death.

How do you plan to spend publication day?

I will most probably be at my day job that day. I plan to celebrate in the evening with my husband and my kids. Maybe we will go somewhere fancy (and also kid- friendly) to eat. I will probably grab a bottle of champagne on the way back home to celebrate with my husband after the kids go to bed.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

I write every day, rain or shine, early in the morning, when everyone in my family is asleep. I write at the dining table, so that I can be close to the kitchen for my constant coffee refills.

How many hours a day do you write?

Between an hour to an hour and a half every day. I don’t have much time to write during the day since I have a day job and three kids.

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

I use online resources, and I also consult experts. For example, to make sure my novel got all the police work details right; I shared the novel with a police detective who also happens to be a friend of mine. She read an early draft and gave me some comments that I incorporated in the draft.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?   

The first thing I do before I start a new book is to research other books with similar themes to the book that I plan to write.  I make sure to read those books and get inspired before I start mine. I just ordered three books from Amazon to start my research for my new novel. It takes me a few months of research before I usually start.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
 
Writing the first draft is the easiest part of me. It’s when I get to be creative, messy and I usually have a lot of fun. The editing part is grueling. I struggle with the edits, and I get depressed and I start doubting myself. That’s when I’m usually tempted to shred the whole manuscript. Eventually I perk up and get back in the swing of things.

How difficult was writing your second book- did having one published change how you went about it?

I definitely have more confidence now than when I sold my first book. I still doubt myself but it’s becoming less and less. Now let’s hope that my book does well, or I will go back to the same cycle of endless insecurity.

Were there any scenes which you had to edit out of your book which you still hanker after?

I had to change the ending, but I honestly think this was the best decision that I have made for the novel. I’m so glad I listened to my editor on this one. It made the novel much stronger, and from the early reviews that I got, everyone loved the ending!

How do you select the names of your characters? Are they based on anyone you know?

They are mostly based on people I met through my life. Since most of my characters are Jordanians or Jordanian-Americans, I try to pick names that are easy to pronounce in both English and Arabic. 

How long on average does it take you to write your first draft?

I would say between six months to a year for a 80,000 word novel.

Are there any secret references hidden in your books?

My book is a speculative murder mystery, so naturally it’s filled with secret references and red herrings. It is a wild ride that has many twists and turns. It will make your head spin.

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

Since I write mostly in the morning, I need coffee, lots of coffee and I don’t feel guilty about it. In the rare occasions when I write at nigh, I like to be accompanied by a glass of Pinot Grigio, and no I don’t feel guilty about that either. If I write at night during the wintertime, I like to sit by the fireplace. I have recently embraced the Danish lifestyle, hygge!

Does writing energize or exhaust you
Writing energizes me for sure. It gives me a blot of energy to start my day on the right tone. It’s my morning run. If I don’t start my day by writing, I will always feel off  and demotivated for the whole day.

Do you or have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym?

No. I never considered it.

 Do you have any other writers as friends and how do they influence your writing?

Yes. I belong to a group of writers who meet once a week to critique each others’ work. They have been instrumental in shaping my current book. They read and critiqued every single chapter of my book and more than once and for that I will remain forever grateful to them.

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

Be patient. Your writing will get better as you age. The more gray hair you get, the better sentences you write. Rejection is part of the process. Embrace it, celebrate it. It’s okay to doubt yourself. It’s also part of the process. Find a writing community and hug them tight. They will pick you up when you are down. They will make you a better writer. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? What do you do to break its spell? 
 
Actually I don’t. No offense to anyone who believes in it, but I think writer’s block is a cop-out, a way for us to get out of our daily writing commitment.

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

I’m trying to finalize my collection of short stories. I’m also in the early stages of planning my second novel. It’s a story about residents of a building in Amman, Jordan who all end up immigrating to the US. The story has elements of magical realism and discusses issues of immigration, race, identity and the need to belong.

Do you have any unfinished or unpublished books hidden away?

My collection of short stories. They need to see the light of the day some day!

Thanks so much for that great insight into your writing life, Natasha and good luck with the books! 

Book Spotlight - They called me Wyatt



When Jordanian student Siwar Salaiha is murdered on her birthday in College Park, Maryland, her consciousness survives, finding refuge in the body of a Seattle baby boy. Stuck in this speech delayed three-year old body, Siwar tries but fails to communicate with Wyatt’s parents, instead she focuses on solving the mystery behind her murder. Eventually, her consciousness goes into a dormant state after Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure.


Fast-forward twenty-two years. Wyatt is a well-adjusted young man with an affinity towards the Middle East and a fear of heights. While working on his graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies, Wyatt learns about Siwar’s death, which occurred twenty-five years ago. For reasons he can’t explain, he grows obsessed with Siwar and spends months investigating her death, which police at the time erroneously ruled as suicide. His investigation forces him to open a door he has kept shut all his life, a spiritual connection to an unknown entity that he frequently refused to acknowledge. His leads take him to Amman, Jordan where after talking to her friends and family members and through his special connection with the deceased, he discovers a clue that unravels the mystery of her death. Will Siwar get justice after all?

Book links: Amazon UK  |  Amazon US 

You can follow Natasha here: Twitter  |  Goodreads 

I will be reviewing They called me Wyatt on June 3rd 2019. 

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