Why Did You Write That Book?

Readers often wonder what inspired a writer to write the particular book they have just enjoyed, and it’s a fair question to ask, since the novel may deal with a subject that is somewhat out of the ordinary or a place they have never been. I know I find it interesting to have some background information about a book I have enjoyed. What about you? Let me know in the comments if you feel the same. With that in mind, here is a snippet of insight into the inspiration behind some of the novels I’ve written.

Much of my inspiration springs from personal experience. I grew up not knowing my birth father and, over the years, concocted many stories to explain his non-appearance in my life. As an adult, I became a very private detective, since I was my only client, and set about finding out who he was and where he was. It’s a theme I return to in many of my writings.

41QJW-AUatL._UY250_ Family Matters, my first published novel, revolves around a woman whose husband abandoned her and her two young children. She’d like to know why, and what happened to him. Eleven years later, after her son dies, she discovers that he’d been trying to trace his father, so she follows the steps he took in an effort to find out how much he’d uncovered. In this book, I draw on some of the procedures I used to trace my father. Paperback.

41C9fKLVtzL._UY250_Making it Home has, as part of its theme, leaving home and whether it’s possible to make one’s way back. The main protagonists are three women who become friends and help one another overcome their different problems while each works out what ‘home’ means to them and where ‘home’ is. Part of the inspiration for this novel was what I knew was discovered in an elderly aunt’s home after she died.  Paperback.

41WL0eRCVLL._UY250_ In Flying Free, the main protagonist loses contact with her father, when she and her mother leave the family home when Jayne is still a young child. So, in effect, it is she and her mother who are the missing people in this novel. The story traces Jayne’s efforts to come to terms with the why and how of the situation. Paperback.

517rcMAIR-L._UY250_ Here at the Gate is a story of a secret past, one threatened with exposure. Who is Mhairi? And why is she so afraid of what her daughter might find out when she traces the family tree. The inspiration for this novel was a snippet of a family story related to me in childhood. Paperback.

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In researching for my novels, I found that:
Approximately 2,300 Americans are reported missing—every day.
This includes both children and adults, but does not include Americans who have vanished in other countries, individuals who disappear and are never reported, or the homeless and their children.
That’s somewhere around 900,000+ a year.

In Britain alone, an estimated 250,000 people go missing every year. Many of those cases are resolved by police; just 2,500 people remain untraced more than a year after they disappear, some of them stay missing long after a year, ten, twenty, thirty years and more.

But that can still mean those who are contacted by police or other authorities do not return home and that families are not told if their loved one is alive or safe.
A closed case simply means the police are confident that no crime took place.

And how many of these missing people are children or young teenagers?

It is estimated that at least 8 million children worldwide go missing each year.
800,000 children in the U.S; 40,000 children in Brazil; 50,500 in Canada; 39,000 in France; 100,000 in Germany; and 45,000 in Mexico; 230,000 in the U.K.
And in most of the developing world—including Africa, Asia, and Latin America—no one is counting missing children.

These (probably wildly out of date now) figures, while chilling, also show me that the fictional stories I have written or will yet write are a drop in the ocean compared to the true stories no-one is writing.

I know how it feels for someone to be ‘missing’ from your life. I wonder how many of you know that feeling too? If you feel you’d like to, please feel free to share your story in the comments.

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The Reluctant Detective Series, is about Mirabelle, a rather eccentric lady whose daughter went missing. While searching for her daughter, Summer, she builds up a network of contacts and, with the help of them and her friend, DI Sam Burns, she finds other missing persons and is able to reunite them with family.
People become aware of her expertise in this area and begin to come to her for help. Reluctantly, she becomes a bit of a private detective and her home becomes an unofficial missing persons agency.

Mirabelle is mostly able to find young women, in their teens or early twenties. Those who have not been missing too long. Though her expertise stretches further, and, with the help of her network of unusual contacts, she’ll have a try at finding anyone.

Searching for Summer Final

The first of the series, Searching for Summer, is mainly focused on Mirabelle’s search for her daughter, and the building up of her network of helpers. As her reputation for finding missing people grows, she becomes increasingly involved in other cases, the reluctance of the title of the series being because each case takes a bit of the focus off Summer. Paperback.

Traces of Red, the second book in the series, takes Mirabelle out of Edinburgh, her usual searching territory, and further north in Scotland, up as far as Pitlochry and Aviemore, helping in the search for a missing husband, and two missing young women, one of whom could be the mother of the abandoned baby, found in Edinburgh. Paperback.

And the third in the series, Rusty Gold, takes Mirabelle and her assistant to the Island of Skye, searching for the daughter of a dying woman. The missing daughter, whose life may be in danger, is also an old friend from Mirabelle’s schooldays, and finding her proves both difficult and exciting. Paperback.

To find out more about the rest of my novels, click here for the ebooks and here for the paperbacks.

Meet The Author – Christine Campbell | Reading Head

It was fun to see myself on someone else’s blog!

Thank you Liza Shaw for giving me this opportunity to let your readers get to know me a little.

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Searching for Summer    pastedGraphic_4  THE book cover pastedGraphic_2  Featured Image -- 1966

Meet The Author – Christine Campbell

Welcome all.

Today I’m very lucky to interview Christine Campbell, author of Searching for Summer and four other novels.

Christine Campbell

Hi Christine, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you, Liza, it’s very kind of you to ask. Perhaps the first thing you should know about me is that, although I live near Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, in my imagination, I live somewhere much warmer, where I can still run up hills and swim in the freshwater pools under waterfalls, and I am 26 years old.

I know, I know, my oldest child is well into his forties, and I have ten grandchildren, but, in my heart, I’m 26 years old.

I don’t intend getting any older, no matter what age I look, no matter the walking frame, the poor hearing, the poor eyesight, the poor health. I am rich in so many other ways.
At a cuddly 4’11’, I’m also tall, slim and beautiful.

Read the rest of this interview via Meet The Author – Christine Campbell | Reading Head.

2014 NaNoWriMo Winner

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

It’s December and the weather has turned wintry and cold here in Scotland, but I have that warm and fuzzy feeling inside left over from November’s marathon writing sprint. Now, I know the marathon and the sprint are two different races, so it may seem as though I am mixing my metaphors, but it’s what NaNoWriMo is for me. It’s a marathon in that it continues right through the month, but it’s also a sprint in that at the end of that month I have a first draft and that used to take me months, if not years, to accomplish before I cottoned on to NaNo.
NaNO has not changed how much hard work I put into writing a novel, but it has revolutionised how long it takes me to do that work.
Declaring a daily word-count is such a strong impetus to keep me writing every day. And, yes, I have tried just setting myself a daily target. It doesn’t do it for me. NaNoWriMo does: it just works for me. I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly is mine. I have completed three NaNos, coming out of each with that precious first draft, that invaluable something to get my editing teeth into.

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My first NaNo novel was Here At The Gatea Contemporary Women’s Novel. If you haven’t read it, you can get your copy right now by clicking on the title, which will take you straight to Amazon, if I’ve managed the link correctly.

Here is a brief synopsis of Here At The Gate

Mhairi had worked hard to build herself a normal, stable life, but there had always been a dark fear inside her. No matter how happy she was, it was always there.

It followed her about like a black bat, haunting her nights, hiding in a corner during her days, flapping out at odd moments, scaring the wits out of her.

It was as though she was standing outside a high-walled garden, barred from the secret of her past by the wrought-iron gate. She could see all the bushes and trees, the rhododendron and hydrangea. She could even smell the roses and the honeysuckle, but then the gate would swing shut and she was outside and it was dark.

Now her happy, settled life was being threatened by her own daughter and she knew she had to force through the darkness. She needed to remember what she had spent a lifetime forgetting.

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My July Camp NaNoWriMo 2014 novel and my November NaNoWriMo novel? Well they are both in the editing phase and are due to be released very soon, as parts one and two of a series about Mirabelle, who becomes a very reluctant detective when her daughter goes missing.

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Book Review: Here At The Gate

A delightful new review of Here at the Gate.

It’s always good to get a fair review of your book, better to get a good one, even better to get a really good one, which I think this one is.

Zenobia Southcombe has found the essence of the story and felt it, as I did as I wrote it.

Here at the Gate is available on Amazon, both in eBook and paperback format.

Here At The Gate

How good is your memory?

Can you remember much about your childhood? The happy times maybe?

But what about dramatic events. I’m sure you can remember them, can’t you?

What about an event that was so dramatic it became traumatic?

How good is your memory then?

Here at the gate 3

Mhairi had worked hard to build herself a normal, stable life, but there had always been a dark fear inside her. No matter how happy she was, it was always there.

It followed her about like a black bat, haunting her nights, hiding in a corner during her days, flapping out at odd moments, scaring the wits out of her.

It was as though she was standing outside a high-walled garden, barred from the secret of her past by the wrought-iron gate. She could see all the bushes and trees, the rhododendron and hydrangea. She could even smell the roses and the honeysuckle, but then the gate would swing shut and she was outside and it was dark.

Now her happy, settled life was being threatened by her own daughter and she knew she had to force through the darkness. She needed to remember what she had spent a lifetime forgetting.

HERE AT THE GATE

Available on Amazon all over the world:

http://a-fwd.com/asin-uk=B00KIW95OW&asin-com=B00KIW95OW

feedaread.com

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and can be ordered from bookstores.

Here At The Gate

How good is your memory?

Can you remember much about your childhood? The happy times maybe?

But what about dramatic events. I’m sure you can remember them, can’t you?

What about an event that was so dramatic it became traumatic?

How good is your memory then?

Featured Image -- 1966

Mhairi had worked hard to build herself a normal, stable life, but there had always been a dark fear inside her. No matter how happy she was, it was always there.

It followed her about like a black bat, haunting her nights, hiding in a corner during her days, flapping out at odd moments, scaring the wits out of her.

It was as though she was standing outside a high-walled garden, barred from the secret of her past by the wrought-iron gate. She could see all the bushes and trees, the rhododendron and hydrangea. She could even smell the roses and the honeysuckle, but then the gate would swing shut and she was outside and it was dark.

Now her happy, settled life was being threatened by her own daughter and she knew she had to force through the darkness. She needed to remember what she had spent a lifetime forgetting.

HERE AT THE GATE

Available on Amazon all over the world:

http://a-fwd.com/asin-uk=B00KIW95OW&asin-com=B00KIW95OW

feedaread.com

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and can be ordered from bookstores.

Ever Had Hiccups?

Hiccups hurt.
Mhairi’s life hiccupped when she was eight years old and the hiccup lasted until she was twenty-one. A long hiccup.
This one looked like being longer.

There are many folk remedies for hiccups, including standing on one’s head, drinking a glass of cold water upside-down, being frightened by someone, and holding one’s breath.

Life hiccups are different. Mhairi’s life was stood on its head, cold water thrown over her, and fright caused them. Mhairi held her breath for thirteen years then set about rebuilding her life.

Now her daughter, Rhona, was causing another hiccup, and there was only one way to stop it.

IMG_8785

Want to find out how she did it?

HERE AT THE GATE

Available on Amazon Kindle and in Paperback

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ENJOY!

The First Time

They say, ‘There’s a first time for everything.’ and I guess that’s a truism if ever there was one. But, self-evident or not, it may come as a surprise sometimes to find yourself doing something for the first time. Having stood up in the circle and declared, ‘I’m a writer!’ it shouldn’t really have surprised me that, at some point in  my career, I’d be asked to give a talk about writing…but it did…surprise me, I mean. It delighted me too.

Asked to read excerpts from my latest novel, Here At The Gate, my fourth published novel, and to talk about my writing process and getting published the indie way, I felt excited, but nervous too.

I’m passionate about writing, delighted with how Here At The Gate, my #NaNoWriMo 2013 novel, turned out, and passionate too about indie publishing, I knew I could do it. But could I do it well? Well enough to not let down myself and my good friend, Jane, and her boss, who organised the event?

Well, I got through it and it seemed to go well. I’ve had lots of good feedback,

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I signed and sold some books,

photo

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and I had some lovely chats with new-found friends.

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So, yes, this was my first ‘Author Event’ and I hope it will not be my last.

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FINAL Front Cover

Available on Amazon:

http://a-fwd.com/asin-uk=B00KIW95OW

FeedaRead.com:

http://www.feedaread.com/books/Here-at-the-Gate-9781784077211.aspx

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones

and can be ordered from bookstores.

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#HereAtTheGate #NaNoWriMo #FeedARead #AuthorEvent #BookSigning

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Let’s Open That Gate an Inch or Two

FINAL Front CoverIt was difficult to decide which part of my new novel to let you read. I didn’t want to let you peep too far into the gate and spoil the story for you. Nor did I want to show you the beginning, because you can read that on Amazon, can’t you?

So, what about this part? It is fairly near the beginning and lets you see how Mhairi is coping with the things that are upsetting her.

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She could be going about her daily life, thinking of nothing more than the task she was working on, the meal she was planning, when a word, a phrase, a smell, a trick of light, and there, something was triggered in her head and she’d be taken back to that garden or to the life without it.
To the abyss of loneliness: overwhelming despair that had bowed her head and bent her back. To the void of hopelessness: deepening shadow that had darkened her eyes and destroyed her sleep.
It amazed her she had lived through it: shocked her she had been forced to.
Mhairi dragged herself from the brink again, as she had so many times over the years. Whenever she allowed herself, or was unable to stop herself remember those barren years, she came so close to losing her mind that it frightened her. Each time, it took a huge effort of will not to allow the past to drag her down into its morass of hurt and blame. Each time, she had to remind herself she had survived before, she would survive again.
Forcing herself to take a long, deep breath, she gathered her coat and keys and took herself out.
Driving into Edinburgh at this time of day didn’t take too long and she reached Holyrood Park in thirty-five minutes. Parking the car, she crossed the road and walked briskly to the bottom of the hill. At a slightly slower pace, sometimes walking the well trodden paths, sometimes scrabbling over rocky parts, she reached the top of Arthur’s Seat in not much more than two and a half hours. Breathless and elated, she stood at the top and gloried in her accomplishment. It got her every time. That hard push beyond thinking, beyond pain. No matter how desperate she felt, no matter the weather, climbing this hill imbued her with power. As long as she was able to force her legs and her lungs through the burning pain of this climb, she could believe there was hope that the past would not catch up with her, that she was strong enough to fight against its drag.
The wind was strong up here by the cairn, but Mhairi loved it. Sitting on the grass, she closed her eyes, leant back on her hands and offered her face, feeling the wind chill her skin and whip her hair, taking her breath and throwing it back at her with full force as it swirled. Not until it had whipped the last thoughts of the past from her mind did she open her eyes to look at Edinburgh lain out at her feet.
The city, the castle, the river, the hills: it was all set out before her like an architect’s model, with background views all round, full-circle: over the Pentland Hills; the city; the Forth Road Bridges; the Fife coast, and out to Bass Rock and the conical shape of Berwick Law. When she stood up, she had almost a complete three-hundred-and-sixty degrees of ever-changing view — all wrapped in blue sky with heavy white clouds hanging in it, undecided whether to release their load now or wait till later.
Autumn had already rushed in on the scene with a chill wind, ripping half-turned leaves from their branches earlier than they would have chosen to fall. Though there were no trees up here at the top of the climb, she could see them in the vista she surveyed.
Mixed with the peaty smell, there was the sniff of snow in the air and she filled her lungs with the sharp, freshness of it, loving how cleansing it felt.
The city looked very small: cars and buses moved along the grid like tiny ants, insignificant from this vantage point; people were no more than dots, too small to even bear the label ‘insignificant.’ What arrogance to think mere mortals were the pinnacle of creation. What were they but specks of dust on the surface of the planet: a planet placed in a veritable plethora of celestial bodies all moving in a majestic choreography.
What was her life compared to the vastness of the world around her? What place did she hold in the universe?
Yet there was something in her that clung to life, clung to the value of her own life. She spread her arms to the wind, turning slowly in a circle, embracing the sky, the hills, all of it. “I am here,” she told the world. “I am me. This is my place.”
No traffic smells, no traffic sounds, but the smell of snow and heather on the wind, the sound of the same wind in her ears, the distant mumble of the earth turning. Up here, she had space in her head to hear the hum of life. It was made up of insect noises and bird calls, human voices and the thrum of her own blood. Up here she could shut out the past and live in the moment, her only thought how to drink it in and hold its healing in her heart. Up here, she knew she was alive. Up here, she felt invincible.
“I am here. This is my time.”
There were always walkers on the hill, regardless of wind and weather. She acknowledged with a nod the one or two she passed as she walked round its crest, revelling in the rawness of the day and the bounce of the tough grass beneath her feet, pulling the crisp air deep into her lungs and holding it for as long as she could. Spreading her arms wider and lifting her face back to the sky, eyes closed, she spun slowly round and round, round and round until she felt as though the whole world spun on this axis, this was the centre of the planet, everything spun out from this point.
Other walkers smiled back at her, complicit in her pleasure. It was good to be here. Good to get perspective: to know that just as every blade of grass on that hillside added to the wealth of its beauty, so too, did each one of them have a part to play in the great drama of life. ‘I am here. I am me.’
Enough. It was enough. She was restored.
As she made her way to the car, she studied every part of the walk back down the hill as though she would be asked questions about it later. Was there much heather still blooming? Had the wind stripped the gold from the gorse? What about birds? Did she see many? Which ones? She was greedy for it all, anxious to store it for barren days ahead, when this walk might be denied her.
Enough? It would never be enough.

~~~

HERE AT THE GATE

Available on Amazon:

http://a-fwd.com/asin-uk=B00KIW95OW

FeedaRead.com:

http://www.feedaread.com/books/Here-at-the-Gate-9781784077211.aspx

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones

and can be ordered from bookstores.

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ENJOY!

The Birds Have Flown: A Book Is Born

Here in Scotland

Spring has washed into Summer

Summer hangs days out to dry

With a wary eye on the weather

Not sure of that azure sky.

Pheasants chicks have grown gangly

Teenagers already it seems

The doves have flown free

With no thoughts for me

And the stuff of my

Hopes and my dreams.

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Forgive me while I sing my little ditty

Forgive if I scream and I shout

The work of the springtime is over

And I have a novel just out!

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Yes, the first draft I completed in November for NaNoWriMo has been nurtured and nourished, polished and preened and is ready to fly off to meet you.

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***NEW RELEASE***

HERE AT THE GATE

Available in both paperback and ebook format.

FINAL Front Cover

Contemporary Popular Fiction, Here At The Gate is a relationship novel, with a touch of romance, a sprinkling of humour, a lot about family, a wee bit about Scotland, and a mystery to be unravelled…and all for the price of a cup of coffee and a cream bun.

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Here’s what Here At The Gate is about:

Mhairi had worked hard to build herself a normal, stable life, but there had always been a dark fear inside her. No matter how happy she was, it was always there.
It followed her about like a black bat, haunting her nights, hiding in a corner during her days, flapping out at odd moments, scaring the wits out of her.
It was as though she was standing outside a high-walled garden, barred from the secret of her past by the wrought-iron gate. She could see all the bushes and trees, the rhododendron and hydrangea. She could even smell the roses and the honeysuckle, but then the gate would swing shut and she was outside and it was dark.
Now her happy, settled life was being threatened and she knew she had to force through the darkness. She needed to remember what she had spent a lifetime forgetting.

~~~

Available on Amazon:

http://a-fwd.com/asin-uk=B00KIW95OW

FeedaRead.com:

http://www.feedaread.com/books/Here-at-the-Gate-9781784077211.aspx

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and can be ordered from bookstores.

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Here At The Gate is ready now for you to enjoywith that cup of coffee and cream bun, if you’re feeling flush!

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