Divided by a Common Language

An' de walls came tumblin' down

A huge welcome to the author Olga Swan, whose new book, An Englishwoman in America, is about to be published.

Hi Miriam!  I’m honoured to be invited onto your esteemed blog. Love its biblical title, btw.

Olga Swan, authorHello, Olga. I know that’s not your real name. Can you tell us why you chose to have a pen name and why you chose that one?

As some of your readers may already know, I lost my parents 50 years ago, swiftly followed by my two elder brothers. So, as a mark of remembrance I write under the nom de plume of Olga Swan, it being an anagram of my late brother A Olswang. In this way, as the last member of the family born with this name, I’m keeping them and our unusual name alive.

I didn’t know all of that. That must have been very hard for you.

You’re a…

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Spotlight: Sue Barnard, Finding Nina

Jennifer C. Wilson

Romance with a twist 2019.04.07Today, I’m delighted to welcome the wonderful Sue Barnard to the blog, with a post all about rationing during WWII, and the setting for her out-tomorrow novel, Finding Nina. There’s also a couple of recipes you might want to try… 


Finding Nina begins in November 1943, when World War Two was still at its height and the whole country was subject to stringent rationing. Rationing was introduced at the start of the war, to ensure that everyone, regardless of status or income, would receive an equal share of goods which were in limited or short supply.

Rationing poster

Rations varied from month to month, depending on availability of individual items, but here’s the basic weekly ration per adult:

BACON & HAM: 4oz (100g).

MEAT: to the value of 1s 2d (equivalent to approximately £2.50 in today’s money). Obviously the cheaper the cut, the more your…

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Romance with a Twist-Sue Barnard

Tessa Robertson

Happy Wednesday, lovelies! I have a very special author visiting my blog today. She is a fellow Crooked Cat and an incredible writer. Be sure to give her plenty of love around SM and the web.

Let’s find out more, shall we?

Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?

A lot of people probably have skeletons in their cupboards – but I wonder how many people know how it feels to BE one of those skeletons?  That was me, for more than forty years.

What made you want to become a writer?

It happened almost by accident, when I came across one of those lists of Things You Must Do Before You Die.  Most of them were fairly unappealing, but the one which leapt out was Write The Book You Want To Read.  I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet but…

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Distancing Ourselves from Our Fiction

Find out about Finding Nina, the new novel by Sue Barnard.

An' de walls came tumblin' down

(The reason for this title will become apparent at the end of this post.)

I’m delighted to welcome back to the blog my friend, colleague and brilliant author. It’s Sue Barnard! Sue’s next book, Finding Nina, will be published in just a week and I decided to ask her a few questions about the writing process.

Finding Nina is ‘part-prequel, part-sequel to the bestselling Nice Girls Don’t.’ Did you write Nice Girls Don’t knowing there would be a prequel/sequel or did the idea for Finding Nina come later?

Nice Girls Don’t was originally written as a stand-alone story, with no plans for a prequel or sequel.  Only after it was published did I realise that a loose end had been unintentionally left dangling.  Thankfully it didn’t affect the outcome of Nice Girls Don’t, but it did leave open the possibility of a spin-off. Finding Nina is…

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I’m a Naughty Girl

An' de walls came tumblin' down

I'm a Naughty Girl

It’s time to admit it. I broke three rules. Yes, three rules of writing, possibly more. And all in one book: Cultivating a Fuji, out tomorrow. Here are the rules:

  • Minor characters don’t have backstories.
  • Always begin with something exciting that draws in the reader.
  • No head-hopping.

BUT rules can be broken, as long as the writer understands the rules and breaks them knowingly. What do I mean?

Minor characters don’t have backstories

In this story, it was important to me for readers to understand these characters. I didn’t want readers to view them simply as villains who mistreat Martin. They are all people with lives of their own. Like most of us, their minds are mostly occupied by their own problems. When they encounter Martin, we need to remember that they don’t have the emotional space to handle such an alien character. And sometimes, something in a minor…

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