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Dhow House by Jean McNeilDhow House by Jean McNeil

Thanks to Kirstie Turco of ECW Press, I am giving away one print copy of The Dhow House by Jean McNeil.

Description of Dhow House by Jean McNeil

A lushly imagined novel of passion and terrorism that asks When do we ever really know ourselves? 

When Rebecca Laurelson is forced to leave her post as a trauma surgeon in an east African field hospital, she arrives at her aunt’s house on the Indian Ocean and is taken into the heart of a family she has never met before. It’s a world of all-night beach parties and constant cocktail receptions, and within its languorous embrace her attraction for her much younger cousin grows.

But the gilded lives of her aunt Julia’s family and their fellow white Africans on the coast are under threat — Islamist terror attacks are on the rise and Rebecca knows more about this violence than she is prepared to reveal. Will she be able to save her newfound family from the violence that encroaches on their seductive lives? Or, amidst growing unrest, will the true reason for her hasty exit from her posting be unmasked? Rebecca finds herself torn between the family she hardly knows and a past she dares not divulge. 

Praise for Dhow House by Jean McNeil

“Jean McNeil’s latest is a completely absorbing, eminently readable ― to the point of being almost unputdownable ― complex, cleverly crafted work, principally about loyalty: what we owe to our country, our relatives, those we love and those who simply cross our path. You won’t read many better novels this year.” ― Daily Mail

“With dreamlike prose and an intriguing protagonist, fiction- and travel-writer McNeil (Ice Diaries, 2016) builds momentum to her novel’s surprising final chapters . . . McNeil’s storytelling will pull [readers] in and captivate them to the end.” ― Booklist

“Like the landscape she depicts, McNeil’s prose combines poetic grace with shadows of menace: behind every flowering bush or luxurious shrub there may be an exotic bird or a poisonous snake ― or an armed marauder. The effect is both gripping and unsettling.” ― Quill & Quire

About Jean McNeilDhow House by Jean McNeil

Jean McNeil has written ten books, including five novels. She has twice been the winner of the PRISM International competition, and her work has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Journey Prize, the National Magazine awards, and the Pushcart Prize. She is co-director of the Masters in Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia.

Originally from Nova Scotia, she has lived and travelled extensively in southern and east Africa and lives in London, England.

Giveaway of Dhow House by Jean McNeil

This giveaway is open to the U.S. only and ends on April 28, 2017 midnight pacific time.  Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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Border Child by Michel StoneBorder Child by Michel Stone

Thanks to Sarah Engelmann of  Doubleday Publishing, I am giving away one print copy of Border Child by Michel Stone.

Description of Border Child by Michel Stone

For Hector and Lilia, pursuit of the American Dream became every parent’s worst fear when their infant daughter vanished as they crossed from Mexico to the United States–now they must try to get her back. With great empathy and a keen awareness of current events, Michel Stone delivers a novel of surpassing sensitivity and heart. 

Young lovers Hector and Lilia dreamed of a brighter future for their family in the United States. Hector left Mexico first, to secure work and housing, but when Lilia, desperate to be with Hector, impetuously crossed the border with their infant daughter, Alejandra, mother and child were separated. Alejandra disappeared. Now, four years later, the family has a chance to reunite, but the trauma of the past may well be permanent.

Back in their sleepy hometown of Oaxaca, the couple enjoys a semblance of normal life, with a toddler son and another baby on the way. Then they receive an unexpected tip that might lead them to Alejandra, and both agree they must seize this chance, whatever the cost. Working increasingly illegal jobs to earn money for his journey north, Hector seeks more information about his long-absent daughter. Meanwhile, a bedridden Lilia awaits the birth of their third child, but cannot keep herself from reliving the worst mistakes of her past. 

In luminous, compassionate prose, Michel Stone drops readers into the whirlwind of the contemporary immigrant experience, where a marriage is strained to the breaking point by the consequences of wanting more for the next generation. 

Praise for Border Child by Michel Stone

“A gripping and politically savvy look at the human impact of current immigration policy and an honest examination of the perils facing desperate immigrants as they travel north.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Stone is a great storyteller . . . There is never a dull moment in this lyrical, engrossing novel . . . Particularly important reading in our current political climate.”—Library Journal

“Border Child is an important and timely must-read! Michel Stone writes with confident authority about the heart wrenching experiences of a young Mexican couple desperately seeking their child, lost at the border. As the reader journeys with them, a deeper, meaningful appreciation of their culture, decisions, and humanity takes root in our heart. Border Child is a cross-cultural tour de force.”—Mary Alice Monroe, author of A Lowcountry Wedding

About Michel StoneBorder Child by Michel Stone

MICHEL STONE is the author of The Iguana Tree, and has published more than a dozen stories and essays in various journals and magazines. Her work has appeared numerous times in the Raleigh News & Observer‘s Emerging Southern Writers series. Stone is a 2011 recipient of the South Carolina Fiction Project Award. She lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Giveaway of Border Child by Michel Stone

This giveaway is open to the U.S. only and ends on April 28, 2017 midnight pacific time.  Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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 White Lies by Susan BarrettWhite Lies by Susan Barrett

Publisher:  Create Space (August 30, 2016)
Category: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction; Contemporary Fiction; Family Saga
Tour Date: April/May, 2017
ISBN: 978-1536806847
Available in: Print & ebook,  164 Pages

White Lies

The story is told from three perspectives: that of Beth, the natural mother of Tess, Liz, the adoptive mother, and Tess herself.  The reader’s sympathy is engaged with each woman in turn, as the intricacies of the plot demonstrate how nature and nurture interplay in the formation of personality.

Beth is a guest at a wedding. The bride is Tess, her natural daughter, who’d been adopted as a baby. During the moments leading up to the marriage ceremony, Beth remembers the lifetime events that have led to her present state of sick fear. Recent revelations have made her suspect that the bridegroom is the first child she’d given up for adoption, and therefore Tess’s half-brother. Will she speak of this impediment to matrimony, as invited by the priest, or forever hold her peace?

White Lies gives the answer in a way that reveals the complexities of truth-telling in the context of parenthood and adoption.  An entertaining page-turner, the novel also traces the social changes in family life over the last fifty years.

Praise for White Lies by Susan Barrett

“A beautifully written study of motherhood, loss and what makes us who we are. The characters are deftly drawn and the writer clearly knows her subject. The narrative is expertly woven and fast-paced, delivering pain and joy blow by blow. Sharp and incisive, heartbreaking and so relevant to today.”-Vanessa de Haan

“A beautifully written, sensitive, yet amusing, and intriguing, tale around a subject that is rarely covered in literature. A delight to read.”- Amazon Customer

“This is a gripping read. It is not only relevant to those who have been involved in adoption but to all of us. It raises questions about families, about the fragility and power of maternal bonds, about love and disappointment. It charts with particular accuracy the difficulties of the tangled web of secrecy and complication that was characteristic of adoption in the mid-twentieth century. It keeps you guessing to the very end!”-Sally Woods

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the book group I belong to find this.   I was quickly gripped by it, feeling for the central characters, all of them very real. I partly wanted to read slowly to enjoy it, confident there would be a satisfying, un-folding, but partly wanted to race to find out what happened. Will enjoy reading it again.”-Amazon Customer

Interview With Susan Barrett

How much time and effort went into your research for the book?

I’m not one of those writers who spend a great deal of time and effort on research.  I don’t write the sort of books that need to be firmly rooted in a historical period or a particular environment, outside and beyond the author’s immediate knowledge and experience.  My material comes from my own lifetime’s experiences.  That doesn’t mean my writing is autobiographical.  Rather, what I’ve learnt, where I’ve been, who I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had – all raw material goes into the pot, gets cooked and forgotten, only to emerge, maybe years later, transformed to suit the fiction.

 White Lies, in particular, is drawn from the first-hand experience of being an adoptive parent.  My interest has always been in the interplay of nature and nurture in the development of personality. Also, I wanted to show the different perspectives of the triad, those of the natural and adoptive mothers and the adoptee.  Another aspect I wanted to describe was the different attitudes to adoption, and the circumstances which lead to it, over the last fifty years. 

What are you currently working on?

Before Christmas I began a new novel which I call “Greek Gold”.   So far I have written the first three chapters, about 11,000 words of what is likely to be an 80,000 word novel.  The previous novels I have written have all been around this length.  The plot of “Greek Gold” is fairly well outlined in my mind but I know it will develop and change as I write.  I find the fiction I write takes shape much in the way a river takes shape from the rivulets that appear at its source before they all come together in the main body of water.  Unfortunately, the flow of this present novel had to stop in February with a visit to our son in New Zealand, followed by an emergency admission to hospital for me.  Now I’ll be getting back to it, and I’m looking forward to that, in an apprehensive sort of way.  Will the streams have dried up in the interim?

 What is your favourite scene in the book?  Why?

Using my memory as a prompt, I might have chosen a scene when Tess, now adult, remembers gathering greens with a local friend on the Greek island where she lived as a child with her adoptive parents.  I like to recapture snippets from our own past to fictionalise as they need to be for the novel.  However, riffling through the book, I came upon a more substantial scene, conjured entirely from my imagination.  In this, Tess, the adopted daughter of Liz, meets her natural mother Beth in a café in London.  This was a challenge to write.  It’s hard to imagine what it must feel like to be adopted, as Tess was, or to have to give your baby up for adoption, as Beth had to.  

I’d written the first section of the book from the point of view of Beth, so I felt I knew her well.  Tess was more difficult.  The scene lies near the beginning of her section, which is the final one.  Still, she’d begun to gather substance in Liz’s section, and she was ready for the page.  Now, looking back at the novel, I consider the three characters are drawn vividly and credibly enough to convince a reader of their fictional reality. 

 How do you create names for your characters?

 Usually the names come easily when I conjure up the character.  The factors that I take into account are their age, their background, the context of the time, and their parents.  I ask myself – what would the parents of this character have wanted to call their child?  That raises the question: do people become the sort of people who are called by that name?  Another question to consider is: would this character have changed his name?  A girl called Willow by her alternative life style-leaning parents might want to become much more ordinary as a schoolgirl by calling herself Ann.  Vice versa, too. 

 A writer can convey a great deal about a character through their name and their attitude to it.  The name Clyde comes to me now, as in this example of how a name can inspire an image:

 Clyde is obviously an insurance salesman living in Columbus, Ohio.  His hair is thinning but he can train a handful from low down on the right hand side of his scalp to the left.  In the mirror this does the job.  However, by peering at his reflection, he’s made two deep lines pucker between his eyebrows and the worry of that makes him worry even more.  Yesterday, his boss, back at main office, made a remark about age in Clyde’s hearing.

 Writing this answer, I’m reminded that I don’t always find names easy.  In my present novel, “Greek Gold”, I’ve changed the main character’s name several times, and I’m still not entirely happy with it.   He started as Denys, and then became Steve.  Now he’s Alex.  He’ll stay Alex for the next chapter and he may persuade me that he is an Alex.

 Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from “White Lies”

There’s an actress who appears in television dramas over here, Olivia Colman, who would make a good adult Beth.  She wouldn’t be able to play the teenage Beth, though.   A more widely known American actress who could play the part would be Renee Zellweger. 

 If you could meet 3 people living, dead, or fictional, who would they be?

 Barack Obama, for his gift for speaking and writing.  I read his autobiography as soon as he became president.

Jane Austen, for her quiet modesty, wit, gentle satire, character descriptions, understanding of human nature and her writing style.  Visiting her home in Chawton, you can feel her presence.  I would love to have been a friend of hers, living round the corner.

My last person is Tess of “White Lies”.  In my imagination, she is not a bit like my own daughter (by adoption).  I had to forget Sophie when I thought up Tess.   If I met her, I’d be able to ask her if I got her right.   A strange idea, to ask a fictional character how real I’d made them!

Susan Barrett, March 15th 2017

About Susan Barrett White Lies by Susan Barrett

Born in Plymouth, Devon in 1938, Susan Barrett began writing fiction in the 1960s while living on a Greek island.  Her first novel was published by Michael Joseph in 1969.  Film rights were sold and renewed over several years. She went on to write six more novels which were published with mainstream publishers in hardback and paperback in UK and USA.   A book on Greece’s landscapes, flora and fauna, illustrated in watercolours by her artist husband Peter Barrett, was published by Harrap Columbus in 1986.  They have also produced many children’s books together, published in the US.  In the 1990s she trained in humanistic counselling and gestalt psychotherapy and has practised as a counsellor for the last twenty years.  Her latest two novels and a work of non-fiction are available as ebooks and in paperback editions.

Website http://www.aliveinww2.com
Twitter @SusanBarrett192
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/writersreadersdirect
Google+ https://plus.google.com/107631556274786388597

Buy White Lies by Susan Barrett


Giveaway White Lies by Susan Barrett

This giveaway is for 2 print copies and 6 ebook copies of ‘White Lies’, for a total of 8 winners. Print is open to Canada, UK, and the U.S. only however, ebook is open worldwide. This giveaway ends on June 1, 2017 at midnight pacific time. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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White Lies by Susan Barrett