Wednesday 20 November 2019

Location, Location, Location - Guest Post Louise Mangos

I just love reading stories set in other countries and I love reading suspense. Author Louise Mangos has combined both of these elements in her two thrillers, Strangers on a Bridge and Her Husbands's Secrets, which is why I was delighted when she offered to write a piece for Wendy's Writing Now on the importance of setting in a novel.

Over to you, Louise.

I believe it was Mark Twain who initially coined the phrase “Write what you know.” Like me, he was a voracious traveller, and often spent weeks at a time in the settings of his stories.

Both my suspense novels are set in different areas of Switzerland, and I am lucky enough to have spent several years in two of the locations. My debut, Strangers on a Bridge, is set in and around the valley where I currently live.

My second novel, Her Husband’s Secrets (previously titled The Art of Deception) has a dual timeline in two settings. The backstory is set in the area I lived for more than 16 years when I first arrived in Switzerland many years ago, a ski resort in the French-speaking part of the country. Although never once mentioned by name in the novel, the resort of Leysin is the setting for artist Lucie’s torrid love affair with ski teacher and womaniser, Matt. Their union deteriorates into a shaky relationship of increasing mistrust, coercion and deception. But Lucie cannot leave because they have a son together. And then one afternoon something terrible happens.

The present-day part of the story is set in Switzerland’s only all-female prison, Hindelbank, situated north of Bern. The prison required a significant amount of research as I hadn’t been there before, but became fascinated with its history as I began researching where the convicts in my story might be imprisoned. Hindelbank prison is built within the grounds of a magnificent castle, and was originally a work house for disreputable young women. It has a tainted past, and I was able to weave some of these facts into the novel’s narrative. I visited the prison several times, conducted interviews with the prison staff, and was given a tour of the communal and work spaces. For the remaining information about the day-to-day life, routines, philosophy, and the sleeping quarters for the prisoners, I was able to ask the prison director and she willingly shared the information I required. I even bought crafted objects made by the prisoners for their annual Christmas market – the Schlossm√§rit – an event I also managed to include in the story.

Although I know my settings intimately, I work hard to bring them to life for the reader. There are some amazing locations in Switzerland for the settings of stories. I like to portray them with a complexity I might award to any of my characters. The geography and climate are as moody as the people I write about.

So I do agree with Mr Twain: Write what you know. But I also believe writers should research what they don’t know to make their novels better.

 Book link:  Amazon

Louise is a compulsive writer and drinker of Prosecco. Her novels, short stories and flash fiction have won prizes, have been placed on several shortlists and read out on BBC radio. Apart from the two novels mentioned above, her short fiction has appeared in Mslexia and Firewords, and in the Hammond House, Brighton Prize, Nivalis, Ellipsis Zine, Bath Flash Fiction, Hysteria, and Reflex Press anthologies. She lives in central Switzerland with her Kiwi husband and two sons.

You can find Louise here:


Wednesday 6 November 2019

Meet Suspense Author Lynda Stacey

Author Lynda Stacey is no stranger to my blog and I wouldn't want her to be as we have been online friends for many years (as well as meeting up at writer gatherings). Lynda's writing has taken a new direction in recent years and she now writes suspense. I thought it would be fun to ask Lynda a few questions to see what life has thrown at her since she was last guest on Wendy's Writing Now.

Can you remember where you were and what you were doing when the idea for Keeper of Secrets first came to you?

I certainly do. For my day job, you know, the one that pays the mortgage, I’m a Sales Director and one morning when I arrived at work, my accountant passed me a church magazine. It had an article about the Sand House in it, it showed pictures of the tunnels, of the elephant & his mahout, the original house and of the 17-storey block of flats that now stood above it all. I couldn’t believe that I’d never heard of this Victorian marvel and my first reaction was to go and see it, to physically go down the tunnels and to take in the history that was right there, right below the pavements that I’d played upon as a child.

What three words would you use to describe your novel?

Family, intrigue, murder.

How long did it take you to write?

This book probably took the longest. I normally write a first draft in around six months. But for some reason, this one took around a year. I think it was because I was so close to the subject, too afraid to over ‘tell’ the story. I was also very aware that this was probably the only book I’d ever write that was set in my hometown, so I really wanted to do it justice.

Keeper of Secrets features an archaeological site that’s being excavated. Is it based on somewhere you know or is it fictitious?

It’s a site that was filled with concrete in 1964. The council needed the land to build high-rise
flats and they had to fill the tunnels to give the land the stability it needed. So sad that this site wasn’t kept though. I honestly believe that in any other country it would be preserved as a site of historical importance and we’d still be able to see it.
If anyone would like to see the real Sand House tunnels and their history, here’s the Sand House Charity’s website

What was your favourite chapter to write?

I actually loved the chapters between Cassie and her Aunt Aggie. I loved Aggie’s story, her secret and the fact that she’s always cared for her nieces. There’s also a true love between these two ladies and I really hope that shows in the words.

Describe a typical publication day.

Lol... I’m normally at work. I get up in the morning early. I post as much as I can on social media, I set tweet deck up to shout about the release all day in my absence and then I turn into a Sales Director and I go about business, albeit with bated breath for the whole day.
I must admit though, my mobile is always close to hand. I check it repeatedly and I both love and hate waiting for those first reviews to drop in. Once two or three of them are there, and they’re good... I feel the relief and start to breathe again.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to go on holidays. I have a new found love of cruising. I love to scuba dive and I really enjoy good food. I used to love going for long walks. I live in the countryside and keep saying that I’m going to get another dog to take out with me. Since losing my Springer Spaniel, Bonnie, a few years ago, I still feel a bit lost and love the fun that a dog brings to the house.

What does your family think of your writing?

I’d like to think that they’re proud and probably read the books looking for themselves in the characters. But I wouldn’t do that to them... would I?

Any advice for budding authors?

Don’t stop. Keep writing. Write every day and keep submitting.
It’s all about persistence. The more you write and the more you submit, the better chance you’ll have. Make friends in other authors, they’re the only people who understand what you’re doing and what you’re going through. Authors are great sounding blocks and people who’ll brainstorm with you for hours and hours over coffee and cake.
Finally... believe in yourself.

What next for Lynda Stacey?

I’m currently writing a story set on the east coast, near Filey, called The Consummate Storm. It’s a story of two sisters. Of sticking together through thick and thin and of how the dynamics change when a man comes between them. Especially when that man isn’t all he initially appears to be.


Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist. 

But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes. 
It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

Buying Links:

Google Books:

A Little About Lynda

Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire,
Her own chaotic life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition.
She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for almost 30 years.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @Lyndastacey