My Monday guest, Christoph Fischer, author of historical novels and contemporary family dramas

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Christoph Fischer today. Christoph was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers, he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging at home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline.

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How would you describe yourself as a colour, Christoph?

Warm but dark blue canvass oil. I like the idea of a solid consistency as opposite to runny water but I like that oil can have light or darker shades.

Are you a morning person, or a midnight candle burner?

Definitely a morning person – much to the joy of the dogs and to the annoyance of my midnight candle burning partner.

Ah! Tell me something you would like your readers to know about you.

I’m currently organising a local Book Fair in Llandeilo. It is being held on April 30th and I would like all your Welsh followers and readers to come and visit.

I hope they do! If you could morph into any creature what would it be?

A dolphin or a kite.

If you don’t mind me asking, why a dolphin or a kite?

So I could swim the Ocean or fly the skies.

Perfect! What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have an all-time favourite song?

I’m a bit of an 80s and pop man, but I like a lot of different music styles, too. Jazz, R&B and soft rock. My favourite song is Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John. Not ashamed to own up to it 🙂

Ha! Let’s talk about your writing now. How did you come to write your genera of books?

They always found me through my personal interests or ideas. I was doing some ancestry research in 2010 and that resulted in my first published novel becoming a historical novel, “The Luck of the Weissensteiners”.

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When Alzheimers’ Disease became a prominent feature in my life I read a lot about it and that turned into the subject of my next novel, “Time to Let Go” (almost naturally a contemporary family drama).

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Last year my partner mentioned the idea for a thriller and asked me to write it, which became “The Healer”.

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Would you like to write a different genre?

Oh yes. I would love to write a comedy. I love a good laugh but so far most of my stories have come out as dramas. The world needs more smiles and laughter.

So true. What is your favourite part of writing?

The first draft, when the story is still in development and anything could happen.

What is your least favourite part?

The first edits after beta readers and editors found flaws and inconsistencies. Sometimes I need to eliminate parts that were dear to my heart, like a character name, a location or just a phrase. It’s a necessary evil but it’s not fun.

I agree. ‘Murdering your darlings’ is always hard. Tell us, would you ever consider a joint project?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve collaborated on a few anthologies and enjoyed the inspirational spark that comes from working together with other authors.

Which of your own characters is your particular favourite?

Jonah Weissensteiner is a wonderfully warm and jovial father figure. He has a big heart, wisdom and a great sense of humour.

Tell us about your recently released book, please.

I’ve just released “Ludwika: A Polish Woman’s Struggle to Survive in Nazi Germany”. The book is very close to my heart because Ludwika Gierz was a real person, the mother of a friend of mine. Telling her story was very rewarding. It shows a different type of suffering that the Nazi Policies and WW2 caused. Millions of Eastern Europeans were used as slave workers in Germany. I also hope that through the publicity that the book creates, we may be able to connect Ludwika’s descendants in the UK with family left in Poland. Christoph 2

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That would be fab. And do you have a new book coming out soon?

I’m in the final stages of editing “African August”, a contemporary action drama set in Uganda. A 30-year old man drops out of society to go travelling in Africa. He finds himself torn between his plans to do some good and his appetite for adventure. The novel will be released as part of an anthology in aid of a no-kill animal shelter. Much of the story is based on my own travels in Africa.

Fascinating! Please let us have your social media and book links!

Website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/

Blog: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

Amazon: http://ow.ly/BtveY

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CFFBooks

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/christophffisch/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106213860775307052243

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241333846

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

Thanks for joining me and my readers today and all the best with your writing, Christoph.

Thanks for having me, Siobhan.

My Monday guest, Jane Risdon, writer of crime and women’s fiction

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Jane Risdon today. Having spent her adult life married to a rock musician, Jane Risdon had little time for writing. She and her husband managed rock musicians, singer-songwriters and record producers, rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous in Hollywood and around the world. Latterly, with time on her hands, she has used her experiences in the world of music and from an earlier job in The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to kick-start her writing career. She writes mainly crime, though she has ventured into other genres, notably a soon-to-be published novel with award winning romance author Christina Jones.

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Tell me something you would like your readers to know about you, please, Jane!

I’ve walked through the middle of a shoot-out in Los Angeles, between bank robbers and the cops following a robbery at Wells Fargo, not long after surviving the 1994 earthquake and tornadoes in the mid-West.  I am wondering about my other six lives now.

Wow! At bedtime, do you listen to relaxing-so-you-can-sleep sounds or something else?

I listen to Radio 4 as I read.  I love the Shipping Forecast. I’m that sad!

I love the Shipping Forecast, too. It’s wonderfully soothing. What kind of music do you listen to if you do listen to music?

Having worked with music all my life, in the studio, on the road touring and at concerts, I find I can’t really listen to music – for pleasure – without analysing it in detail.  I love Rock and R&B but I am a Doris Day fan too.  My all-time favourite song is one my husband wrote and recorded for me when we were dating…but that is a secret.

How intriguing! If your life were a movie would it be considered an action film, comedy, drama, romance, fantasy or a combination?

I think my life would be Calamity Jane meets Some Like it Hot with Smiley’s People mixed in.

Fascinating! Let’s talk about your books now. When did you start writing and why?

I’ve always wanted to write but life on the road baby-sitting rock musicians, constantly on tour or in the recording studio when keeping normal working hours is something other people do, there was never the time. If I ever had a spare few hours they were usually spent with family, but quite often we were never in the same country let alone the same room together, so finding time in such situations was almost impossible.  Beside, working on song writing with my artists and producers tented to drain my brain.  I’ve always read, mainly crime and spy thrillers, and the urge to have a go at it myself has always lurked in the back of my brain.  When we began to wind down our business and stopped travelling so much, I decided it was time for me to do something for myself and I was encouraged by my husband and also by his band’s former fan-club secretary, Christina Jones, to stop talking about it and do it.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Life on the road and working in the international music business (and with movies and television) provides some amazing fodder for a writer. I also worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall when I was younger and the whole atmosphere back then – during the Cold War – got my little grey cells excited and my imagination ran riot with possibilities for writing spy thrillers and crime stories.  Back then I had no idea I’d have to wait half my life to be able to write.

How did you come to write crime?

I think I have a criminal mind.  I don’t know how or why I wanted to write crime. I read crime and with the calibre of writers out there, I must be mad even thinking I could possibly stick my oar into their pond, but I have and I am.

Would you like to write a different genre? 

I do write in other genres, mostly short stories and novellas.  I’ve written a couple of Ghost Stories (for my publishers) which are in two anthologies, Shiver and Wishing on a Star.  I write flash fiction and have written about pirates, domestic abuse and various other topics including what I call ‘observational humour’ in another series of books (WIP) I call God’s Waiting Room. Whatever grabs me. I have just completed a joint project with award-winning author Christina Jones, called Only One Woman, which is going to be published May 2016 by Accent Press. We have always wanted to write together, having been friends since our teens when she was Fan Club Secretary for my husband’s band and working as a rock/pop journalist. This is a change of genre for me as it is Women’s Fiction.

What is your favourite part of writing?

Reading the finished product…when I know I can leave the story and start another.

What is your least favourite part?

Writing it.  I wish I could just think a story and it would physically write itself.

Which of your own releases is your particular favourite?

I don’t really have a favourite.  I do think that both my stories in the anthology, In A Word: Murder are some of my favourites. Set in the worlds of music and book publishing where money and fame drive people to commit the most terrible crimes.  Ms B is a favourite but she is not published yet.

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How do you handle writer’s block?

I don’t really suffer from it.  I can make myself write anything – it may well be rubbish – but I make myself.  I walk a lot and take photos and this helps me with locations for stories and clears the fog in my little brain if I am finding something particularly difficult.

A good tactic! Do you write long hand first, or does it go straight onto the computer?

Oh computer.  I used to have decent hand-writing but of late I can’t even read my own writing. Using a computer too much I guess.  My writing looks like a spider dipped in ink and let loose over the page.

That’s happened to me as well! Are you a “sit down and play it by ear” kind of writer, or do you need a structured guideline, or maybe a little of both?

I usually get an idea based on a personal experiences in the music business or espionage-related quite often, or something in the news. I know the name of the main character, the title of the book and the general idea for the story, but that’s it.  I sit in front of the computer and write. A bit like the process of song-writing, it just comes.

I love writing like that too. When crafting the story do you go from beginning to end, or do you jump around writing the scenes that are pushing themselves forward in your brain?

I am an A-Z kind of gal.  I think this comes from working in recording studios.  You being at the beginning and work through until the end of the project.

So, do you always know how a story will end when you begin writing it?

Vaguely.  I really am a ‘seat of the pants writer.’ I tend to think in terms of writing songs; you have a story to get across in X number of minutes (pages) and so you need impact with the opening line, you need a good hook (chorus) and a change of pace (middle 8 – bridge) and repeat the process again before ending on a high (cliff-hanger).  So I know what I need to do, and possibly how, but where it takes me is often a surprise to me.  I also see my story in terms of making a video or a movie, and again I apply the same process to writing but often there is more than one ending to a movie and so I never know which is going to be the Director’s cut.

Fantastic! Have your characters ever taken the story in a different direction than you had originally planned?

Often.  I started writing my series of novels, Ms Birdsong Investigates – a former MI5 Officer who ‘retires’ to live in a rural village to escape her enemies, and a former lover – with the idea she’d be a modern day Miss Marple, but she soon took over and now she is very different.  She is an action woman; complex, intelligent, feisty, experienced in the ways of covert operations, funny and sexy. A long way from where I thought she’d be.

Is location important in your books, then?

I tend to use locations I am familiar with.  I’ve written crime stories set in Hollywood, Beverley Hills and England, and I am writing a book based in Mumbai, though my personal knowledge of India was many years ago, so I am reliant upon my husband’s knowledge as he has spent many years working in Bollywood where one of my stories set.   Am toying with setting another book in Singapore as we lived there too.  Ms Birdsong is set in The Vale of The White Horse, Oxfordshire where we lived for many years and we used as a base during visits back to England.

Generally speaking, your work is based on real life experiences, isn’t it?

Oh I think it is well and truly based on real life experiences, though I have to say I have never murdered anyone or committed the kind of crimes I write about.  I have met some very ‘interesting’ people during my lifetime and some would think nothing of leaving a horse’s head in my bed if they didn’t like what I’m about!

How long does it take you to create a story on average?

When I write short stories/novellas I write really fast and can complete 10-15,000 words in a day or two. However, I have four full length novels on the go at the moment and the main one, Ms Birdsong Investigates, has taken me three years so far.  I thought I’d completed it and then something triggered book two and book three in the series and I started writing them so I wouldn’t forget the stories, and soon found that Ms B (book one) had to be re-written to accommodate books two and three.  By this time I discovered that I had become a better writer (in my opinion) than before, and so it has taken me some time to bring the whole thing together again. I plan on finishing all three books in the series this year and then concentrate on either a follow-up to Only One Woman, or complete the other (crime) book I’ve been working on.  Well, that’s the plan!

Awesome! Do you like to read crime fiction?

Yes I do.  I am a great reader of crime/thriller/espionage stories and if I watch movies (rarely) they would be this genre also. 

If you could see one of your stories turned into a Hollywood film, who would you like to see play the lead roles?

I really have no idea.  I know people in the movie business to whom I might pitch one of my books, but I am not sure who’d play any parts in one.  I am not keen on many of today’s movie stars, though I do love Johnny Depp as I feel he has depth as an actor, but not for any of my books that I can think of. For female roles based on my characters, I have no idea. Knowing how the industry works, the lead role would have to be an American and I don’t fancy that so the movie wouldn’t get made.

Do you have a special writing place, Jane?

Not really.  I have a desk and office and I am happy in there or writing on my lap-top sitting in bed late at night.  I need to be comfortable with tea and liquorice to hand….or wine, if someone has given me any.

Can you tell us a bit more about your Ms Birdsong Investigates series?

It’s about a former MI5 Officer ‘voluntarily’ retired following a disastrous joint mission with MI6.  She moves to a rural village in The Vale of The White Horse to lick her wounds and keep a low profile, however, old habits die hard and she tends to keep tabs on those around her.  The first book in the series soon finds her involved in the search for a missing woman which leads her to Russian Mafia people traffickers – financing Ukrainian pro-Russian fighters with their ill-gotten gains, and drug money.  The village of Ampney Parva doesn’t know what’s hit them when Lavinia decides to take matters into her own hands.

Tell us a bit more about Only One Woman, please, Jane.  

It will be published May 28th by Accent Press, I have co-written it with romance author Christina Jones.  We have a shared history in music dating back to our teens which inspired us to write a story set in 1968/1969 about two girls in love with the same musician. There is a lot of music, fashion, and atmosphere of the swinging sixties, along with epic world events providing the background for this love story. The book can be pre-ordered via Accent Press in paperback and for e-book.

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Fab! Please let us have your social media and book links!

My Facebook Author Page is:  www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2

My Author Blog is: http://wp.me/2dg55

My Amazon Author Page is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

My Accent Press link is: http://www.accentpress.co.uk/only-one-woman

My Twitter link is: https://twitter.com/Jane_Risdon

Thanks for joining me and my readers today and all the best with your writing, my lovely!

Thanks so much for having me as your guest and for the opportunity to tell you something about myself and my work. I have enjoyed being here and wish you all the best for 2016.

My Monday guest, John Holt, author of hard-nosed crime novels

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome crime-writer John Holt today. Please introduce yourself to my readers, John!

 Born in 1943 in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. I now live in Essex with my wife Margaret, who I married in September 1969; my daughter Elizabeth, and our cat, Missy, who actually adopted us deciding that she wanted to live with us nearly three years ago. For many years I worked in local government as a land surveyor, spending some time with the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. In 1972 I was employed by the Greater London Council, as a Senior Project Manager, remaining with them until the Council was closed down in 1986. I then set up my own practice carrying out property surveys, and preparing architectural drawings for extensions, conversions, and new builds. In 2004 I had a heart attack, which had a major effect on my business, and I eventually retired in 2008. I have also been concerned with animal welfare, and for many years I was Chairman of the local branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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Just to get a flavour of your personality, how would you describe yourself as a colour?

Well I’m basically a light kind of a person. I tend to see the best in things. What you see is what you get. But I can be serious when the situation arises. So I guess probably a pastel purple would be appropriate.

Sounds lovely! Are you a morning person, or a midnight candle burner?

I’m certainly not a morning person. I tend to stay up until midnight. That’s not working you understand. That’s watching old movies on TV. I have about 1200 old films on DVD or video tape.

What kind of music do you listen to?

My musical taste is quite wide. Back in the late 1950’s it was rock ‘n’ roll; Elvis, the Everley Brothers, Bill Haley, Little Richard. Then in the early 1960s it was negro blues. I used to write for a couple of blues magazines (no longer around). I would spend a lot of time going to concerts and writing Interviews and reviews. People like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins. Over the subsequent years my musical tastes have increased. I still like the Rock ‘n’ roll, and the blues, but I also like Sinatra, Dean Martin, Simon and Garfunkel, and I also like Classical music. As for an all-time favourite song, I’m afraid I could never pick just one

A great mix. When did you start writing and why?

I suppose, like many people, I had always wanted to write a novel, but I could never think of a decent original plot. Then in 2005 we went to the Austrian Lake District. We stayed in a small village Grundl situated on Lake Grundlsee, the first of three lakes in close proximity. The next lake was Toplitz. This lake was used by the German Navy, in World War 2, to test rockets, missiles, and torpedoes. As the war drew to a close many items were hidden in the lake – weapons, documents, counterfeit dollars, and pounds sterling, and jewellery. There were also rumours of gold bullion being placed into the lake, with plans to recover at some later stage. After the war extensive searches were carried out. These searches went on until the middle of the 1980s. Millions of counterfeit dollars and pounds were discovered; documents detailing where stolen artefacts were hidden; weapons; jewellery, but no gold bullion. A plot began to form in my mind, and in December 2006 “The Kammersee Affair” was published.

Excellent! Your general genre is crime, then. Why did you choose to write crime?

I have always been a fan of the detective film noirs from the late forties, and early fifties. Humphrey Bogart, Edward G Robinson, Cagney – great stars, great entertainment. I loved the style. The hard-nosed clever wise cracking detective who always solved the crime. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could recreate those times, and that kind of story. “The Mackenzie Dossier” was published in 2008. I very soon realised that I had failed in my recreation attempt, but I had done better, I had created my own unique style. I now have five novels, and three novellas, in the same genre.

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Would you like to write a different genre?

I’m quite happy with my chosen genre. It is the genre I prefer to read. Having said that, my first novel, “The Kammersee Affair”, was set during, and just after the Second World War. I have also written a historical fiction novel set during the American Civil War. “The Thackery Journal” is a what if story concerning the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Would you ever consider a joint project?

I like to think that my style is my own. It has much of my personality and much of my particular brand of humour. Unlike many modern authors there is no bad language in my books, and no graphic violence, and no sexual references. On that basis I would never be able to work with another author. So no, I would never consider a joint project.

Which of your characters is your particular favourite?

Tom Kendall, my laid back, private detective, has appeared in five of my novels. He is by far the most prolific of my characters, and has developed as time as gone by. Clearly he must be the favourite.

How do you handle writer’s block?

Not well, but what can you do? There’s no point sitting staring at the computer waiting for the words to miraculously appear. So I just leave it alone, and hope that sooner or later inspiration will come, and the words will flow once more.

Do you write long hand first, or does it go straight onto the computer?

I admire people like Charles Dickens who clearly wrote long hand, starting at page 1, and going on till the end. I couldn’t do that. Although I might have a basic outline of a story, I have to write as I think of something. Then it goes straight on to the computer in where I think is the appropriate place. It may be that when I think of something else to add changes might be made.

So your work isn’t based on real-life experience, I imagine.

I write about crime, murder, robbery, blackmail. These aren’t events I come across in my day to day life. I don’t know any criminals; I don’t know any private detectives either. My stories are pure imagination, and purely for entertainment. I write because I enjoy it, and I hope others get that same enjoyment.

What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?

I have been working on a sixth novel to feature Tom Kendall. It is close to being finished, but is being a little stubborn. Remember we were talking about writers block earlier on, well ….. Last year I wrote three novellas featuring another private detective, Jack Daniels. I have made a very tentative start on a fourth, but it is early days yet. What I am doing, however, is getting those novellas translated into other languages. So far “Trouble In Mind” has been translated into Italian; and is currently being translated into Portuguese, and Spanish; and “The Candy Man” is being translated into French and Dutch.

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Fantastic! Please let us have your social media and book links!

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Thanks for joining me and my readers today and all the best with your writing, John!

Thanks for having me, Siobhan.

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My Monday guest, Chhimi Tenduf-la, author of contemporary fiction set in Sri Lanka

Today, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Chhimi Tendul-La. Chhimi and I met about four years ago in the online peer-review group YouWriteOn and have kept in touch ever since. Half Tibetan, half English, Chhimi grew up in Hong Kong, England and India, before moving to Colombo where he has lived, on and off, since 1982. Educated at Eton and Durham, he manages an international school in Colombo. His first two novels, The Amazing Racist and Panther were released in 2015 and his third will be on the shelves in 2016. Chhimi is married with two young children.

Chhimi Tenduf-La at the BAREFOOT bookshop signing copies of his book The Amazing Racist.

Chhimi Tenduf-La at the BAREFOOT bookshop signing copies of his book The Amazing Racist.

Are you a morning person, or a midnight candle burner, Chhimi?

Both. I am not a great sleeper, so when I am writing to a publisher’s deadline, I edit late at night and write at 5am.  To edit, I use my kindle to read back what I have written that day and highlight places I need to make changes. This works well for me because when I get up the next morning I am excited about getting to my computer.

That’s a great tactic. If you could morph into any creature what would it be?

A koala bear because all they have to do is eat and sleep. If they could learn how to use a TV remote control and how to smoke cigarettes, they would have the perfect life.

Ha! If your life were a movie would it be considered an action film, comedy, drama, romance, fantasy or a combination?

I sway from being spectacularly lazy to being a real go-getter, so it might be a movie with a slow beginning and an action-packed end. It would almost certainly be a comedy only because I stay clear of serious conversations, and if someone shares their problems with me my reaction is to tell a joke. My wife would say it could not possibly be a romance.

Aw, bless! Let’s talk about your writing now. Do you write long hand first, or does it go straight onto the computer?

Straight on the computer. I simply no longer have the skill to write by hand at all. At a book signing a lady looked at what I wrote and said, ‘I travelled three hours for this scribbling mess? It looks like you were just testing your pen.’

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Hahaha! Are you a “sit down and play it by ear” kind of writer, or do you need a structured guideline, or maybe a little of both?

I always pretend to myself that I plan what I am going to write, but it changes enormously as I go along. In fact, sometimes I get into a zone where I barely think what I am writing and just let it go. At times, I read it back and think, wow, how did I come up with that? Or I wonder if I am drunk. I wish I could work to a structured guideline but I am not patient enough to do so. I just want to start and finish a book as soon as possible and hope that I fluke something clever and moderately readable.

So, is location important in your books?

I only write about Sri Lanka for now, because I know it so well and it provides a setting rich with unique characters, smells and noises. The reviews I like most, more than those in the press, are the ones from travellers to the country who say my books were great companions on their journey – or better still if someone says they were encouraged to visit because of my books (they are likely lying but still).

I don’t think they’re lying at all. You evoke your setting beautifully. Generally speaking, is your work based on real life experience?

Yes, absolutely. I try to write what I know so that I do not lose my sense of reality.  Both my books are based in schools, as is my work. The lead character in The Amazing Racist has a daughter the same age as mine, and Sri Lankan in-laws. There are numerous examples of how my life infiltrates my writing. Having said that, the lead in Panther is a child soldier, which I am not, and if I am very honest, at my age that ship has sailed.

The Amazing Racist final cover

What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?

We have just had another baby so I am not writing for a while. However, I am about half way through a book about a man, adopted at birth and taken to England, returning to Sri Lanka to meet his birth mother. In the process he discovers some fairly shocking family secrets, as he tries to discover who is father is.

Sounds fantastic. Tell us about your most recently released book, please, Chhimi.

I had two books published this year by the Indian arms of Hachette and HarperCollins. Panther is the more recent of these, and is about a former child soldier winning a cricket scholarship to an elite Colombo school. It is available worldwide on all the sites I can think of.

 PANTHER full cover

How can readers find you?

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon.

Fab! It was lovely chatting with you. All the best with your writing and congratulations on the birth of your son.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Siobhan.