Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Memories: My Only Pantomime Experience by Rebecca Raisin

When I contacted authors about taking part in my Fictional Characters in Panto feature I didn't even consider the reality that pantomimes are mainly a British tradition and are not as well-known in other countries.  So I'd especially like to thank Australian author Rebecca Raisin who offered to share with us her one and only experience of seeing a pantomime instead.

I’m not sure that pantomimes are as big here as they are in the UK, or it could be that I just live in a bubble! 

Though, when my boys were two we took them to a local pantomime, and the only one I’ve ever been to! The actors were friends of ours in the community, and we’d watched them rehearse on weekends, and were excited to see them on the opening night. 

The performed Scrooge, and I was completely blown away by how good they were! I was a little worried the boys would get bored, being almost babies still, but they sat there for two hours mesmerised! We sat close to the stage and they could see every minute detail from the costumes, to the make-up. They were entranced! 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Guest Post: My Favourite Christmas Songs and Movies by Stella Newman

Today it's my stop on Stella Newman's blog tour to celebrate the publication of her festive short story A Pear Shaped Christmas with a look at Stella's favourite Christmas songs and movies... dare you not to sing along ;-)

I love a neat list of Top Tens at this time of year but there are only four Christmas songs I genuinely like, and three films. (I a a fan of Bond, The Pink Panther, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, etc - but technically they’re just films you watch at Christmas, not films about Christmas.)   So on that basis, here are my top seven…

Fairytale of New York
As my upstairs neighbours will tell you, I’m a huge fan of karaoke.  They’ll also tell you I have a terrible voice.  Still, come the festive season, that doesn’t stop me from drunkenly belting this out in my living room like Shirley Bassey’s more confident little sister.   Those lyrics, those harmonies, that emotion!  One of the greatest pop songs ever written - I could listen to this 365 days a year.  

White Christmas
Of course it’s an obvious choice - but then again it’s the best selling single of all time for a reason.  It’s also the single that’s been most covered by other artists.  What other song could you imagine being recorded by singers as diverse as Bob Marley, Barbra Streisand, Rick Astley, Crash Test Dummies and Cee Lo Green?  Probably not the second best selling single of all time - Candle In The Wind…

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Fictional Characters in Panto: Talli Roland casts Snow White

When I contacted authors to take part in this Fictional Characters in Panto feature, Talli Roland was one of the first to say yes despite having never watched a panto.

I love writing over-the-top characters, so when it came time to cast my characters in a pantomime, I had no trouble. My first novel, The Hating Game, is a tongue-in-cheek take on reality television featuring very vivid individuals. 

With the evil, sausage-scarfing producer Silver, the ballsy female protagonist Mattie who’s locked away her love, and the dodgy group of men she’s meant to be dating on the TV show, one play sprang to mind: Snow White. Okay, so Snow White is rather passive while Mattie is the opposite, but they do meet their prince at the end – after many trials and tribulations.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Fictional Characters in Panto: The Wedding Proposal in Anti-Panto

Something a little different for you today from Sue Moorcroft for the festive Fictional Characters in Panto feature.

Pantomimes don’t lend themselves to my books. Panto heroines are too wishy-washy, hanging around and waiting to be rescued, and my heroes tend to be a bit too attitude-laden to fulfil the role of Prince Charming.

So here’s my anti-Panto: Elle, wishes for a new life on a boat in a marina in Malta, leaving behind her old self in Corporateland and volunteering at a drop-in centre. As she doesn’t have a fairy godmother, she makes this happen herself. Or maybe Simon, who lends her the boat, is her fairy godfather? I can’t see him in a tutu and wand. And he could equally be cast as a mischievous elf because he has also lent the boat to …

… Brooding Prince Lucas. Lucas is the good guy, he really is. Truth and honesty are his constant companions and right is always on his side. Unfortunately, he has been blinded to any form of the truth that’s not black or white, making him a teeny weeny bit judgemental, especially where Elle’s concerned. Beautiful Elle is hiding a boatload of secrets. And Lucas doesn’t like them. He does not need her turning up just when he’s reinvented himself as a divemaster in a magical land of sun and fun. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Fictional Characters in Panto: My favourite Panto Heroes and Villians by Clare Dowling

Today it's the turn of Irish author Clare Dowling to be creative for this festive feature.

It’s that time of the year again (oh no, it’s not!) when there’s a Christmas panto on at a theatre or town hall near you. Everybody’s got a favourite panto character or two, whether it’s Peter Pan or the Ugly Stepsisters (although I think they should get a medal for putting up with that wet rag Cinderella).  Pantoland wouldn’t be the same without beautiful princesses, wicked witches and men dressed up in enormous bloomers.  And hopefully a handsome prince to help the evening along.   

Here are a few of my favourite panto heroes and villains, except I’ve decided to mix it up by casting them with characters from my books.  Coming to a theatre near you…

The Character: Buttons.  One of the sweetest panto characters around.  Young and hapless, but capable of vicious jokes at the Ugly Stepsisters’ expense.  Deeply in love with Cinderella, except she has no idea.

The Cast: Anto Brady, from ‘A Special Delivery’.  Anto is an unintentionally funny teen who finds himself the butt of many jokes. Like Buttons, he too suffers from unrequited love, for the beautiful Nicola, who scarcely acknowledges his existence. Even if he’s a little rough around the edges, Anto’s a bit of a show stealer.  

The Character: Sleeping Beauty.  The first thing that should be said about her is that she sleeps a lot.  She’s also resilient and forgiving, even if she has to do a lot of hanging around waiting for that prince to come and kiss her.

The Cast: Nicola O’Sullivan, from ‘A Special Delivery’.  This would be casting against type, as the only thing Nicola has in common with Sleeping Beauty is that she, too, sleeps a lot, but for an altogether different reason.  Troubled and headstrong, Nicola never takes anything lying down.  And though she meets her Prince Charming in the end, it’s not quite as rosy as in fairytales.  

Author Interview: Amanda James

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of chatting to Amanda James about two of her books that had just been published, and today I'm delighted to welcome her back to talk about her third book of the year... busy lady... Cross Stitch, sequel to A Stitch in Time, which has just been published as an eBook.

A stitch in time may save nine but a cross-stitch spells disaster …

It should be the happiest day of her life. Despite past heartache, Sarah Yates is finally marrying her true love, John Needler.

But Sarah and John can’t pretend they’re an ordinary couple. They’re time travellers and where time travel is involved, nothing runs smoothly. One minute Sarah is saying her vows and the next she is hurtled back in time to a country that is on the cusp of war, and into the company of the bad-tempered Veronica Ratchet.

Newly-wedded bliss is certainly not on the cards for Sarah as events see her travelling from the British punk era to 1950’s America. And even when she returns home she can’t escape Veronica.

But when the past and the present collide, that’s when the real problems start …

Thanks for inviting me back to your blog, Sharon!

Can you give us a hint as to what we can expect in Cross Stitch? 
Sarah plans to marry her true love, John, but will she live happily ever after? A stitch in time may save nine, but a cross stitch spells disaster ...

Did you know when you were writing A Stitch in Time that you wanted the story to continue?  
I hadn’t planned on writing another but Sarah kept whispering in my ear towards the end so I left it open.

Is this the end for Sarah and John or are they likely to crop up again in the future?
When I was writing Cross Stitch I decided that it would be the end. The same thing happened towards the final few chapters however. So ... Sarah and John might pop up in the future and there might also be others ready to take over the time travelling baton too.