Saturday, December 10, 2011

Featured Author: SHALINI BOLAND


“HIDDEN” (Marchwood Vampire Series)
- by Shalini Boland

About the Book
Review
Author Interview
Links to Shalini’s Pages



“HIDDEN”
A paranormal romance that spans the centuries from modern England to 19th century Paris and ancient Cappadocia. 

Madison Greene is in foster care until one day she inherits a fortune, she inherits a house, she inherits a cellar full of danger. 

Alexandre Chevalier lives in 19th century Paris. On an archaeological expedition, he discovers a lost underground city where his life changes forever. 

Their lives entwine, but this is only the beginning... 

REVIEW for “HIDDEN”
by Ellen Fritz

As the first book in the Marchwood Vampire series, "Hidden" is the perfect introduction to a new series. The author masterfully balances captivating storytelling, adventure and tender moments throughout the story. Often you will ask yourself who you should trust and who not as some secrets are diligently kept for a surprise ending  

There are a rather large number of important characters in “Hidden”. Introduced and developed in such a skillful manner, there is no danger of the reader getting them confused. Although the narrative switches back and forth between events in modern day England and the back story in the nineteenth century, I found it easy to keep track of and understand where I was in the story. The vivid and detailed descriptions of nineteenth century France and Turkey makes you feel as though you are there, experiencing the events along with the archaeologists and their families. From the underground city in ancient Cappadocia to rural England, we are taken on an unforgettable journey of adventure, suspense and romance.

The author takes the necessary time to create a believable and realistic background for the existence and very nature of her characters. She allows the characters to grow as the tale progresses: Maddy from a rebellious unhappy foster-care teenager into a responsible young adult and Alexandre Chevalier from a thoughtless Parisian socialite into a man who takes his duties towards his friends and family seriously. 

There are also quite a great deal to smile about, as the language barrier is hilarious at times.  Imagine a nineteenth century French aristocrat with a command of some formal Victorian English, suddenly catapulted into twenty first century England. Victorian English verses modern slang?  Look at this excerpt.
`Do not take it too much to heart,' Alexandre said, watching her pace around the lounge. He stood in front of her and put a hand on her arm. `Your reaction was perfectly normal. Isobel would have screamed the house down and run for her life.' `Yeah, no offence to Isobel, but she's a Victorian chick and I'm supposed to be an enlightened street-wise hard-ass, not a wuss.'
`I maybe understood about three words in that sentence,' Alexandre replied. `Translation ­ I'm embarrassed at being so scared of a skeleton and ashamed I treated Harold like that.' She covered her face and cringed as she remembered her over-reaction to the discovery of the skeleton.(excerpt)

Then there are some humorously presented pearls of wisdom like:
‘You can't start thinking what if. That's a short cut to a shit life.’  (excerpt)

The vampires in the Marchwood universe are also unique.  Garlic, crosses, stakes to the heart, even an ax to the neck will not kill them. Oddly enough, the one thing that will is also the cure for the debilitating sleeping disease from which all vampires seem to suffer. 

When you get to the last few chapters however, you will not be able to turn the pages fast enough while you sweat and panic towards the suspense-laden conclusion.  Add to this some really tasteful romance and beautiful descriptions of nature and you have a book that is an absolute must read with the promise of a fantastic new series in the making. “Hidden” receives two thumbs-up and five well deserved stars! 

ELLEN’S star rating: 5/5

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MEET this week’s FEATURED AUTHOR:

Shalini Boland lives in Dorset, England with her husband and two noisy boys. Before children, she was signed to Universal Music as a singer songwriter. 

Now, writing novels has hijacked her life and she is usually to be found with a laptop welded to her fingers and the house in a permanent state of neglect. 

'Hidden' the first book in the Marchwood Vampire Series, is available in print and as an ebook. 'Outside', a post-apocalyptic novel was published in July 2011. 'Thicker Than Blood', the second book in the Marchwood Vampires Series will be published soon.

INTERVIEW with author SHALINI BOLAND

ABOUT “HIDDEN”

Q: How long did it take you to write this book?

A: It took me six months to write the story, but a further year to edit and get it where I wanted it to be.

Q: Which of your characters are your favourite?

A: I love my main characters Alexandre and Madison. They were such fun to write, especially as they come from completely different backgrounds with such contrasting sets of values. But I also love Maddy’s younger brother, Ben. He’s so sweet and funny and he and Maddy have a great relationship which allowed me to show her softer side.

Q: What was the hardest part of writing “Hidden”?

A: Getting my characters out of trouble. I always tend to back them into impossible situations with no clue how I’m going to resolve them. There’s always a point where I think I’m going to have to rewrite the whole thing to make it easier for them, but thankfully, a solution eventually hits me/them.

Q: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

A: I learnt tons of stuff: I learnt how I’m never satisfied with what I write, that I would rather write than eat/go to the bathroom/clean the house, that my skin is thicker than I thought it was and that a writer’s work is never ever done. Even if I worked 24 hours of every day, I would still have the next project to work on and the next. It’s all consuming.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in “Hidden”?

A: Yes!!! And I think I’ll probably feel the same way with any book I write. There are always things I wish I’d tightened up, or scenes which I could’ve added/omitted.But, as a story, I’m really proud of it and it actually feels like a part of me.

ABOUT YOU

Q: Where are you from?

A: There’s a really long version to that question. But, the more straightforward answer is: My father was Indian, my mother’s Irish, I was born in London, grew up in Gloucestershire and now live in Dorset in the UK.

Q: Who are your favourite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

A: Paullina Simons for her Bronze Horseman trilogy; Stephenie Meyer for her angsty teen love story and Jean M Auel because she is a master at bringing the past to life. Faye Meredith is one of my favourite YA authors as she has the ability to make me laugh out loud at some of her outrageous scenes.

Q: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

A: Go out on mini adventures with my family, sleep and read.

Q: Five things on your Christmas wish list:

A: Apart from the obvious health, happiness, world peace etc. I would have to say:
-        Chocolate (lots)
-        Some Rocket Dog boots
-        Trashy and glossy magazines (eg OK and Elle)
-        A cosy jumper (non-xmas themed)
-        An amazing book I’ve never heard of before by a prolific author whose back catalogue I’ve yet to discover.

Q: List five "Good to Know" facts about you.

A: My best friend and I used to go into shops and put on accents pretending to be from different places. I’m particularly good at Liverpool and Scottish accents. She’s a master at Australian.

I hate bananas.

My cooking skills could do with some honing. I was making a Moroccan tagine and I put too much water in the couscous so it ended up a soggy mess. I tried to save it by adding more couscous, but grabbed the packet of Demerara sugar by mistake. We ended up eating cheese on toast that night.

I cry really easily watching movies and TV programmes. I’ve even been known to cry at the adverts.

I used to own an events company, but it was so stressful I’ve tried to block it out of my memory. Over the course of three years we experienced: a forest fire, major theft, the worst storms on record, foot & mouth disease, a bomb scare and gate-crashing ravers. I much prefer writing.

ABOUT WRITING

Q: What would you be if you couldn’t be a writer?

A: Not an events organiser.

Q: When and how did your interest in writing start?

A:Before children, I was a singer/songwriter, but afterwards, the lifestyle became way too hectic. I missed the creativity and ended up writing fiction in my spare moments. I initially wrote just for myself, but eventually decided to try and publish.

Q: What are your current projects?

A: I’m writing Book 2 in the Marchwood Vampire Series - Thicker than Blood. It continues the main story of Maddy and Alex in the present day, as well as going back in time to the 6th century and the Byzantine vampires. I recently held a competition where two of my fans got the chance to become vampires in the book. I’m working with them to find out their personality traits so I can incorporate them into the fictional characters.

I’ve also just published Outside - a post-apocalyptic adventure.

Q: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

A: Here’s an exclusive excerpt from Thicker than Blood, Book 2 in the Marchwood Vampire Series.

A fingernail of sun slipped behind the hill as Aelia walked into the village carrying the heavy jug of water. It was quiet. Something felt different. She glanced around and strained her ears. There was no chatter, no clacking of pots as meals were prepared, no children playing outside. The dwellings were silent and still.

She tiptoed up the main path and turned left as the eerie silence followed her. Had everyone fled? Had some foe attacked their peaceful village? Should she knock on someone’s door and ask? She walked up to a house, set the jug of water on the ground and raised her hand to rap on the door, but then lost her courage and lowered it again. She was too scared to make a sound in the echoing silence. Her throat felt dry. She scooped up some water from the urn and drank a few sips. Then wiped her wet hands on her tunic and resumed her course towards home, along the silent road. A dog barked twice and a startled bird cawed. Her heart beat loud in her ears. The sun was halfway behind the hill now.

Suddenly she made out a murmur of voices. As she walked, the murmur grew louder. It became a buzz and a hum, like a chattering crowd. She sensed … fear? No, more like agitation and anger. The closer she got to home, the louder the noise. A new seed of worry began to grow in her chest.
Aelia quickened her pace, a pearl of sweat formed at her breastbone and slid down towards her navel. She rounded the last corner and saw a gathering of people. It looked as though half the village was standing outside her house. Shafts of evening sunlight striped everyone with swirling dust motes. As she approached, the crowd gradually grew silent and all eyes gazed at her, but Aelia couldn’t read their expressions. She could still hear a couple of voices, one of which was the croaky sound of her father. His normally quiet tones, now raised loud and angry.

What on earth was going on? She tried to find a face in the crowd, someone who might smile and tell her what was happening. But each time she tried to catch someone’s eye, their gaze fell away to the floor. Her fear was really taking hold now, squeezing itself around her ribs and numbing her thoughts. As she walked woodenly towards her house, the crowd parted to let her through. Whatever had happened, she and her family must be at the centre of it. Within seconds she was outside her dwelling where she saw her father arguing with Praetor Garidas the village leader. Her mother saw her and stumbled over to where she stood.

‘You stupid, stupid girl!’ her mother shrieked and grabbed hold of her arms, shaking her so that she dropped the water urn. It shattered and the liquid soaked quickly into the parched ground. But now her mother was holding her and sobbing into her shoulder.

Only a thin slice of sun was left sitting on the top of the rocky hill, its light now a heavy orange glow. Aelia suddenly realised what was happening. She understood the reason for the crowd, for the argument between her father and Praetor Garidas and for her mother’s inconsolable disappointment. Aelia understood that it was her fault and that her life would never be the same again.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?

A: Everyone has their own way of doing things but the one thing I’ve found useful is to try to set aside specific times to write – to just sit down and do it whether you’re in the mood or not. Otherwise, the days run away from you and the book doesn’t progress. Even if you only write a page that day, it’s one more page, and those pages add up.

FIND SHALINI HERE:


GET YOUR COPY OF “HIDDEN” HERE:


MORE BOOKS by author SHALINI BOLAND:

“OUTSIDE” - a post-apocalyptic novel (The Outside Series)

Book One in The Outside Series. 

The future is divided by Perimeters: high-security gated communities where life goes on as normal. If you’re inside you’re lucky. If you’re outside, life expectancy takes a nose dive. 

Riley is fortunate to have been born on the right side of the fence. But her cosseted life of privilege comes crashing down when someone breaks through and murders her sister. 

She forsakes her own safety to go in search of the killer. Luc decides to go with her otherwise she’ll be dead before she’s past the security gate. But what awaits her outside is more unbelievable that she ever imagined. 



“A SHIRTFUL OF FROGS”

A children's timeslip adventure where the life of a WW2 evacuee collides with the world of a boy from the present day. 

Jimmy Sweeney lives in the East End of London with his ten brothers and sisters. WW2 breaks out and he is evacuated to the country. He’s now an outcast, bullied by the local kids and treated cruelly by Mrs Cribbins, the woman with whom he's been billeted. 

The story jumps to 2011, to twelve-year-old Nathan Pepper who has just moved to the country. One night he awakens to the sound of crying. He follows the sound to discover six-year-old Jimmy in the attic. 

The attic is a bridge between the two eras and over time the boys become friends. But Nathan discovers that something chilling is about to happen to Jimmy and realises it’s down to him to save his young friend.


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