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An interview with Meg Tilly, author of the Solace Island series

Setting is a huge part of the atmospheric Solace Island series, which is set on a peaceful island village in the Pacific Northwest. Why did you choose this setting?

I live on Salt Spring Island and wanted to express the beauty of the place and how it feels to reside here. I didn’t know at first that I was going to set the Solace Island series here. I was bouncing ideas off Dawna, my dear friend and walking companion for the last 21 years. I knew I wanted to write about sisters, sort of as a nod to my own sisters and the closeness and love that we share. But I couldn’t settle on a location.

So, Dawna and I were tromping along, and I was tossing various possible locales out, when she said, “Why not base your book here on Salt Spring? We’ve got terrific scenery, the Saturday market, interesting residents.”

I stopped in my tracks. “Dawna, my dear, I could hug you.” The moment she suggested it, Salt Spring Island seemed exactly right. And then I did hug her, which made her slightly embarrassed but I like to believe quietly pleased her as well.

About 70 percent of the locations I used in Cliff’s Edge and my first romantic suspense novel, Solace Island, are based on real places on Salt Spring Island. There are a couple of fictional places, as well as a few that I tweaked a bit to fit the story, but, hey, the place is called Solace Island, so that gives me license to do whatever I like!

Wildflowers in the woods on Salt Spring Island

Your books are full of evocative details like the Tree House Café, which make the island feel so true to life despite it being a fictional place. Were any of these places inspired by real life locations?

The Tree House Café does indeed exist. I got permission from the owner to use its actual name in the book. Twang and Pearl, which is mentioned in both Solace Island and Hidden Cove (the third book, which is being released October 1 this year), is an actual store that I adore. However, I changed its location to the square where the art gallery is.

The only difference between the actual pub on Salt Spring and the one in my book is a consonant or two. Ditto for the park in Solace Island, where the sisters hike. I used our home as a template for the house Rhys and Eve see at the end of the book, but I placed it in a meadow surrounded by woods, whereas our home is by the ocean with the woods and my writing studio out back. The list goes on and on …

As well as writing about islands, you also live on an island yourself! How much did you draw on your own experiences of island life when plotting your characters and their day-to-day experiences?

Pictured: Carrots at the Saturday market on Salt Spring Island.

I drew on my own experience a lot! I would gaze out the window of my writing room and watch the sky change colors, the sparkles on the ocean dancing. I’d hear the lap of the water, the sound of the wind in the trees, the rain thundering down. I love how I can walk out the door and go for a hike through the woods, take a walk on the beach, go to the Saturday market and pick up fresh organic produce for the week.

Both my husband and I cook a lot, so the comfort of food is woven throughout my books. My sisters, Becky and Jen, don’t cook as much as I do, so in Cliff’s Edge Eve’s reluctance to commandeer the kitchen is a nod to them. Also, my little sister is an artist and paints, which I used for Eve. 

Yes, I used a lot of the island where I live as a template for the Solace Island series, the roadside stands that sell produce, flowers and baked goods, the quirky restaurants and so on. Also, many creatives types call Salt Spring Island home, and people who have left high-powered jobs and are now selling bread at the market, making cheese, opening breweries, etc. ,which make for interesting characters. There are also a lot of artists, writers, and … ahem … an actor or two.

Any tips for aspiring writers on how to make setting feel real to your readers (or on setting in general)?

For aspiring writers I would say that in order for your setting to feel read to your readers, it has to feel real to you. If you’ve taken a few sensory acting classes, those will come in handy. If you haven’t, no worries, you just need to learn how to walk and experience the world in a writerly manner. Not all the time, of course. That would be exhausting. But every now and then, just stop what you’re doing and notice, really notice your surroundings.

If you are washing dishes, how does the water feel against your skin? How long have your hands been in the water? Are they starting to get pickled? Is the water warm or is it losing its heat? How does your body feel? Has it been a long day? Are you weary? Where do you hold that in your body? Do feel aches in your lower back? What sounds can you hear, in the kitchen where you are, but in the rest of the house/flat as well? What about sounds outside? City noises? Country? What can you smell? Is the taste of your dinner still lingering on your tongue?

Pictured: Meg Tilly on the beach

If you, the writer, are in the body of your character, your readers will be as well. It doesn’t matter if the setting you are creating is a real place or one in your imagination. I’ve written books set in real places and in ones I’ve imagined, in ones I’m familiar with and ones I’ve never visited in person but I’ve done research on them. For me, the kicking off points vary, but, once I’m in the writing, the process is the same. Dive into the character, notice what they notice, feel what they’re feeling, observe the world through their eyes, and you will carry the reader along with you.

Good luck with the writing!

Credit for all the photos used in this post: Meg Tilly. Huge thank you to Meg for letting us reproduce them!

Maria Lewis giveaway Ts&Cs

Terms & Conditions:
1. This is a prize draw for one person to win a copy of The Witch Who Courted Death, Who’s Afraid? and Who’s Afraid Too by Maria Lewis. To enter simply like and comment answering the question on the competition post.
2. The winner will be selected at random from the entries received in accordance with these terms and conditions by a member of the Little, Brown Book Group, whose decision will be final.
3. The winner may see their entry posted on the Little, Brown Book Group (hereinafter the ‘Company’) website and on other websites and social media accounts.
4. There is no purchase necessary to enter.
5. The prize draw opens at 12:00 pm GMT on 31.05.19 and closes at 12:00 pm GMT on 07.06.19. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates will not be eligible for entry into the competition.
6. The prize draw is open to anyone aged 18 or over in the UK except employees of the Company, their families, or anyone professionally connected to the competition either themselves or through their families.
7. Only one entry per person allowed. Second or subsequent entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.
8. The Company is not responsible for contacting or forwarding prizes to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.
9. The Company reserves the right to alter the prizes or cancel the prize draw without notice. No cash alternatives to prizes will be provided.
10. The winner’s name will be published in a direct message to them, confirming they are the winner. They then have 7 days to claim their prize. If they have not responded via email in 7 days, a new winner will be chosen.
11. The Company will make available the name and county of the winner to anyone who requests this information by writing to the following address Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
12. The email addresses of entrants may be shared with companies within the Hachette group of companies but will not be shared with other companies outside the Hachette group. It will be used by the Hachette companies to send you news about books, products and promotions. You will be given the option of opting out in those emails if you don’t want to receive any further news.
13. By entering the prize draw you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
14. This competition is being organised by Little, Brown Book Group, Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
15. These terms and conditions and any disputes or claims (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of these terms and Conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.

Meg Tilly giveaway T&Cs

Terms & Conditions:
1. This is a prize draw for one person to win a copy of Cliff’s Edge and Solace Island. To enter simply like and comment answering the question on the competition post.
2. The winner will be selected at random from the entries received in accordance with these terms and conditions by a member of the Little, Brown Book Group, whose decision will be final.
3. The winner may see their entry posted on the Little, Brown Book Group (hereinafter the ’Company’) website and on other websites and social media accounts.
4. There is no purchase necessary to enter.
5. The prize draw opens at 12:00 pm GMT on 21.05.19 and closes at 12:00 pm GMT on 28.05.19. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates will not be eligible for entry into the competition.
6. The prize draw is open to anyone aged 18 or over in the UK except employees of the Company, their families, or anyone professionally connected to the competition either themselves or through their families.
7. Only one entry per person allowed. Second or subsequent entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.
8. The Company is not responsible for contacting or forwarding prizes to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.
9. The Company reserves the right to alter the prizes or cancel the prize draw without notice. No cash alternatives to prizes will be provided.
10. The winner’s name will be published in a direct message to them, confirming they are the winner. They then have 7 days to claim their prize. If they have not responded via email in 7 days, a new winner will be chosen.
11. The Company will make available the name and county of the winner to anyone who requests this information by writing to the following address Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
12. The email addresses of entrants may be shared with companies within the Hachette group of companies but will not be shared with other companies outside the Hachette group. It will be used by the Hachette companies to send you news about books, products and promotions. You will be given the option of opting out in those emails if you don’t want to receive any further news.
13. By entering the prize draw you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
14. This competition is being organised by Little, Brown Book Group, Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
15. These terms and conditions and any disputes or claims (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of these terms and Conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.

Black Dagger Brotherhood Giveaway Ts&Cs

Terms & Conditions:
1. This is a prize draw for one person to win a hardback of The Savior by J R Ward . To enter simply like and comment on the competition post on the Piatkus Facebook.
2. The winner will be selected at random from the entries received in accordance with these terms and conditions by a member of the Little, Brown Book Group, whose decision will be final.
3. The winner may see their entry posted on the Little, Brown Book Group (hereinafter the ’Company’) website and on other websites and social media accounts.
4. There is no purchase necessary to enter.
5. The prize draw opens at 12:00 pm GMT on 05.04.19 and closes at 12:00 pm GMT on 12.04.19. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates will not be eligible for entry into the competition.
6. The prize draw is open to anyone aged 18 or over in the UK, Australia and New Zealand except employees of the Company, their families, or anyone professionally connected to the competition either themselves or through their families.
7. Only one entry per person allowed. Second or subsequent entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.
8. The Company is not responsible for contacting or forwarding prizes to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.
9. The Company reserves the right to alter the prizes or cancel the prize draw without notice. No cash alternatives to prizes will be provided.
10. The winner’s name will be published in a direct message to them, confirming they are the winner. They then have 7 days to claim their prize. If they have not responded via email in 7 days, a new winner will be chosen.
11. The Company will make available the name and county of the winner to anyone who requests this information by writing to the following address Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
12. The email addresses of entrants may be shared with companies within the Hachette group of companies but will not be shared with other companies outside the Hachette group. It will be used by the Hachette companies to send you news about books, products and promotions. You will be given the option of opting out in those emails if you don’t want to receive any further news.
13. By entering the prize draw you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
14. This competition is being organised by Little, Brown Book Group, Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
15. These terms and conditions and any disputes or claims (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of these terms and Conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.

Valentine’s Day Giveaway

To enter simply comment on and share the competition on the Piatkus Fiction Facebook page.

This competition is run by Little, Brown UK. If you have any issues please email: competitions@littlebrown.co.uk

Terms & Conditions:
1. This is a prize draw for one person to win Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Nightchaser, Wicked and the Wallflower, and Where all the Girls Have Gone . To enter simply like and comment on the competition post on the Piatkus Facebook.
2. The winner will be selected at random from the entries received in accordance with these terms and conditions by a member of the Little, Brown Book Group, whose decision will be final.
3. The winner may see their entry posted on the Little, Brown Book Group (hereinafter the ’Company’) website and on other websites and social media accounts.
4. There is no purchase necessary to enter.
5. The prize draw opens at 11:00 am GMT on 14.02.19 and closes at 11:00 am GMT on 15.02.19. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates will not be eligible for entry into the competition.
6. The prize draw is open to anyone aged 18 or over in the UK, except employees of the Company, their families, or anyone professionally connected to the competition either themselves or through their families.
7. Only one entry per person allowed. Second or subsequent entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.
8. The Company is not responsible for contacting or forwarding prizes to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.
9. The Company reserves the right to alter the prizes or cancel the prize draw without notice. No cash alternatives to prizes will be provided.
10. The winner’s name will be published in a direct message to them, confirming they are the winner. They then have 7 days to claim their prize. If they have not responded via email in 7 days, a new winner will be chosen.
11. The Company will make available the name and county of the winner to anyone who requests this information by writing to the following address Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
12. The email addresses of entrants may be shared with companies within the Hachette group of companies but will not be shared with other companies outside the Hachette group. It will be used by the Hachette companies to send you news about books, products and promotions. You will be given the option of opting out in those emails if you don’t want to receive any further news.
13. By entering the prize draw you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
14. This competition is being organised by Little, Brown Book Group, Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
15. These terms and conditions and any disputes or claims (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of these terms and Conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.

Chocolate Pine Cones – a recipe inspired by Christmas Camp

To make these Christmas pinecone treats, all you will need is:

  • Cooking Chocolate
  • Cornflakes (any brand)
  • Butter
  • Icing sugar
  • Cocoa powder
  • Cupcake cases

Makes 10 or so pinecones

Method:

1. Melt some chocolate in a bowl either in the microwave on in a glass bowl over hot (but not boiling) water.

2. Mix the cornflakes into the melted chocolate, covering them completely. Spread onto a tray in the thinnest layer possible and pop in the fridge for at least 15 mins.

3. Mix 100g of butter with 200g of icing sugar and 50g of cocoa power. Keep mixing until the ingredients combine and form a thick butter icing. The thicker the better!

4. Get an empty cupcake case and your cold and set chocolate covered cornflakes from the fridge.

5. Spoon a blob of icing into the bottom of the cupcake case. Break off small chunks of the cornflakes and stick into the icing at all sides, building higher and higher.

6. Spoon another smaller dollop of icing onto top and stick more chunks of cornflakes on all sides. Stick a final piece of cornflake on top.

7. Pop back in the fridge for as long as you can possibly wait. (I recommend overnight.)

Before serving, you can sprinkle with icing sugar to get that snowy winter effect, or simply leave plain.

Exclusive Author Q&A with Kelly Elliott

Bestselling author Kelly Elliott just launched the first book in a brand new series – and because she rocks, she’s also done this exclusive Q&A for all her readers. Keep reading for the scoop on Seduce Me, and more  . . . 

*****

What’s been your favourite cover of all the books you’ve published, and why?

Oh, that is like asking who your favorite child is! I would probably have to say Wanted. It was my first book I published so it will always have a special place in my heart. The cover for Seduce Me is a close second. I simply adore that cover.

What are your best conditions to read in?

Snuggled up on an oversized chair, a blanket, some hot tea, and my chocolate lab by my side.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

Somewhere in the mountains overlooking a beautiful blue lake.

*****

What was the inspiration behind your new series?

I started writing Seduce Me about three years ago as a side project only. Just a fun story to write that didn’t have any pressures of deadlines or anything like that. My publicist saw I was getting burned out and she was the one who suggested it. I probably spent more time re-writing that book than any book I have ever written, because I had the time to play with it. The story line came to me one day when I was driving and I saw a young couple standing outside an office building in downtown Austin. I was at a light and I watched them walk up to each other and kiss. The way they both looked at each other you just knew they were in love. And from that one simple encounter, my mind started going. I imagined where they worked, what they did for a living, their names. I pretty much had the first part of the book plotted out in my mind before I even got home.

Why have you set this series in Austin, Texas?

One reason is I’m from Austin. The second reason is I was inspired by that one couple on that one street corner in downtown Austin. I knew the book had to be set in Austin.

Have you got a motto you live your life by? If so, what is it?

“Every day of your life is an opportunity to be a blessing to someone.” I truly believe everyone needs some sort of helping hand each day of our lives.  It could be something as simple as holding the door for some and wishing them a good day. You always have a chance to be a positive in someones world.

*****

Which of your characters would you most like to meet in real life?

That is easy! Charleston Monroe, from Seduce Me. She is probably one of my favorite characters I’ve written to date. I love how strong she is, yet vulnerable at the same time. Plus I like her name…and her cat.

Have you always written books? How did you get started?

I knew I wanted to be some sort of writer early on when I was in high school after reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I was told by a college professor that I wrote in circles and would never make it as a writer. So, I gave up on that dream and tucked away deep down inside.

Story telling has always been something I loved to do and I did it often in all sorts of ways. Maybe it is the Irish in me!  I filled journals with short stories that I never shared with anyone. Once they were filled up, I threw them out. I kept a journal when I was pregnant with my daughter and filled it with little stories about how my day was. Then I kept another one after I had my daughter. Any excuse to write, and I was writing.  A friend of mine read the journal I kept after Lauren was born and begged me to publish it, but I tucked it away for her to read someday. Then one day I got an idea for a story on my way home from dropping my daughter off at school. I came home, opened my laptop and three weeks later I had Wanted written. The hardest thing I had to do after that was share it with the world. Best decision I ever made.

If childhood Kelly could see you now, what would she be most proud of?

I hope she would be proud of how I have stayed true to myself during this whole process. And if I could give childhood Kelly a piece of advice, it would be not to listen to that college professor and follow her dreams.

*******

Seduce Me is out now, and available to buy in paperback or eBook

Royal Romance competition

To enter simply like and share the competition post the competition post on the Piatkus Facebook.

This competition is run by Little, Brown UK. If you have any issues please email: competitions@littlebrown.co.uk

Terms & Conditions:
1. This is a prize draw for one person to win A Promise of Fire, The Palace of Lost Dreams and Too Wilde To Wed . To enter simply like and share the competition post on the Piatkus Facebook.
2. The winner will be selected at random from the entries received in accordance with these terms and conditions by a member of the Little, Brown Book Group marketing team, whose decision will be final.
3. The winner may see their entry posted on the Little, Brown Book Group (hereinafter the ’Company’) website and on other websites and social media accounts.
4. There is no purchase necessary to enter.
5. The prize draw opens at 09:45 am GMT on 16.05.2018 and closes at 11:59 pm GMT on 20.05.2018. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates will not be eligible for entry into the competition.
6. The prize draw is open to anyone aged 18 or over in the UK, except employees of the Company, their families, or anyone professionally connected to the competition either themselves or through their families.
7. Only one entry per person allowed. Second or subsequent entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.
8. The Company is not responsible for contacting or forwarding prizes to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.
9. The Company reserves the right to alter the prizes or cancel the prize draw without notice. No cash alternatives to prizes will be provided.
10. The winner’s name will be published in a direct email to them, as well as the competition page on the Piatkus Entice website, confirming they are the winner. They then have 7 days to claim their prize. If they have not responded via email in 7 days, a new winner will be chosen.
11. The Company will make available the name and county of the winner to anyone who requests this information by writing to the following address Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
12. The email addresses of entrants may be shared with companies within the Hachette group of companies but will not be shared with other companies outside the Hachette group. It will be used by the Hachette companies to send you news about books, products and promotions. You will be given the option of opting out in those emails if you don’t want to receive any further news.
13. By entering the prize draw you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
14. This competition is being organised by Little, Brown Book Group, Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ.
15. These terms and conditions and any disputes or claims (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of these terms and Conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.