In which I have a brand new book

A very brief post today, just to say that I have a brand new book coming out very soon. This is very exciting for a number of reasons, which I shall innumerate for you now.

1. It has the most beautiful cover anyone anywhere in the whole wide world has ever seen. Look at it. Just look. See how simple, yet elegant it is…

All That Was Lost_High Res cover

I properly love this cover and am thinking of asking it to run away with me to the South of France and open a guest house near the sea. It really is that pretty.

2. This book is a proper book of the heart. It’s a book I’ve had bubbling away in the back of my head for years and years and years. Because of the weird two-speed way in which publishing works – either lightening fast or fossilization slow – I actually finished the bulk of  the writing and revising two years ago. So it’s been a long journey, and now it’s nearly here. I’m super excited for the world to meet Patience, and Patrice, and Leo and… anyway, here’s the blurb:

In 1967 Patience Bickersleigh is a teenager who discovers a talent for telling people what they want to hear. Fifty years later she is Patrice Leigh, a nationally celebrated medium. But cracks are forming in the carefully constructed barriers that keep her real history at bay.   

Leo is the journalist hired to write Patrice’s biography. Struggling to reconcile the demands of his family, his grief for his lost son, and his need to understand his own background, Leo becomes more and more frustrated at Patrice’s refusal to open up. 

Because behind closed doors, Patrice is hiding more than one secret. And it seems that now, her past is finally catching up with her.

3. It was the first book my fantastic agent, Julia Silk, sold for me and it was the book she offered me representation based on. And Julia is a very wise and very brilliant so for her to love this book was a proper moment of joy in my life.

I’m excited to be getting close to being able to share All That Was Lost with readers. It’s out on September 6th in ebook and paperback, and you can order your copy right now.

In which I think about Wuthering Heights (again)

Yesterday was publication day for The Heights, my first collaborative novel, co-written with Janet Gover. And in it’s honour I’m blogging for the second day in a row! I have definite strong intentions that in 2018 I will definitely blog at least once a week. But we all know that ain’t gonna happen, don’t we? So I’m taking the two in two days as a small victory for now.

Anyway, The Heights is an adaptation of Wuthering Heights, and is the third adaptation I’ve written so far, after Sweet Nothing and Midsummer Dreams.

Rereading Wuthering Heights when we were planning this novel was a strange experience – I wittered on a bit here about that. So why write a whole novel based on a book you have a love-hate relationship with?

Well largely because of that love-hate relationship. Wuthering Heights is a fascinating book. It’s not at all the book that we think it is in our shared popular imagination. It’s a book that’s encapsulated in many people’s minds by the image of Heathcliff and Cathy running towards each other across a misty, atmospheric moor. But that image doesn’t in any way sum up the book. Really that image doesn’t even sum up the Kate Bush song.

Wuthering Heights is about Heathcliff and Cathy. It’s also about passion. But I don’t think it’s about love, at least not in the sense that most stories that we’d describe as love stories are about love. If it is about love, it’s about love gone wrong, turned bad, turned in on itself. And it’s about families that go the same way. And about abuse, and the way that abuse ripples through generations.

And those generations form a whole chunk of Wuthering Heights that’s often forgotten. Cathy, the wild beautiful heroine, isn’t even in the second half of the book. That’s all about her child, and Heathcliff’s child, and Hindley’s child, and how the toxicity of their parents’ lives reverberates through the next generation.

Wuthering Heights is a big, unconfined, almost indefineable, beast of a novel. It ranges across time and across themes. In writing it Emily Bronte achieved a staggering feat of imagination. Her novel is almost infinitely open to interpretation. And maybe that’s what made us want to write The Heights – because when something is that unconstrained and open to exploration and reimagining, you need a whole novel’s worth of words to try to understand it.

Adapting an existing story forces you to identify the central theme and plot. Those become your touchstones, your pillars that can’t be messed about with. Very early on in the process Janet said to me, ‘This is a story about obsession.’ And that became our watchword, our obsession if you like, while we were writing. But it’s fascinating to think that another author could take the same ingredients – Wuthering Heights, Thatcher’s Britain, the miners’ strike – and write a wholly different book, simply by fixating on a different interpretation of what the story is about. If you set off on an adaptation of Wuthering Heights thinking ‘The story is about loss,’ or ‘this story is about abuse’, or ‘this story is about family,’ or ‘this story is about love,’ then you’d be just as right as we were when we landed on ‘obsession’ but your story would be quite quite different.

Emily Bronte’s genius is that her story manages to be about all those things.

The Heights is out now on kindle, iTunes, kobo and Google Play.

The Heights

Two hundred years since Emily Brontë’s birth comes The Heights: a modern re-telling of Wuthering Heights set in 1980s Yorkshire.

A grim discovery brings DCI Lockwood to Gimmerton’s Heights Estate – a bleak patch of Yorkshire he thought he’d left behind for good. There, he must do the unthinkable, and ask questions about the notorious Earnshaw family.

Decades may have passed since Maggie closed the pits and the Earnshaws ran riot – but old wounds remain raw. And, against his better judgement, DCI Lockwood is soon drawn into a story.

A story of an untameable boy, terrible rage, and two families ripped apart. A story of passion, obsession, and dark acts of revenge. And of beautiful Cathy Earnshaw – who now lies buried under cold white marble in the shadow of the moors.’

In which it is publication day and I have a whole new name

It is a new year. A new day.* And I have a new book out under a whole new name. Which, frankly, is a lot of shiny newness to get one’s head around.

So let’s focus on the new book and the new name. And I’ll do that by telling you all a little story of the birth of that new book and new name…

Once upon a time, in a land far far away** the Romantic Novelists’ Association held a conference and I did get up at that conference and give a little talk on adapting classic literature into contemporary fiction.

Adaptation talk
Me talking. With PowerPoint. And excitable hand gestures.

After the talk I was chatting to Janet Gover who said, ‘I’d like to adapt Wuthering Heights but they’re all Northern and I can’t write Northern.’ (Because she is from Australia which is a really very long way South.) And I thought ‘Lawks!’ and also ‘Aha!’ Because I am from North Yorkshire which is very much more North than Australia. So we agreed we should write it together. We were only joking of course, but then we drank quite a lot of wine which made the whole thing seems like an absolutely marvelous idea.

So we did it. And we finished it. And the lovely publishing people at Harper HQ thought it was a marvelous idea too. But they looked at us closely and noticed that there are two of us, and decreed that a new joint penname would be a jolly good idea too. So here it is –  a new book and a new name – inspired by an absolute classic of an old story:

The Heights

Two hundred years since Emily Brontë’s birth comes The Heights: a modern re-telling of Wuthering Heights set in 1980s Yorkshire.

The searchers took several hours to find the body, even though they knew roughly where to look. The whole hillside had collapsed, and there was water running off the moors and over the slick black rubble. The boy, they knew, was beyond their help.
This was a recovery, not a rescue.

A grim discovery brings DCI Lockwood to Gimmerton’s Heights Estate – a bleak patch of Yorkshire he thought he’d left behind for good. There, he must do the unthinkable, and ask questions about the notorious Earnshaw family.

Decades may have passed since Maggie closed the pits and the Earnshaws ran riot – but old wounds remain raw. And, against his better judgement, DCI Lockwood is soon drawn into a story.

A story of an untameable boy, terrible rage, and two families ripped apart. A story of passion, obsession, and dark acts of revenge. And of beautiful Cathy Earnshaw – who now lies buried under cold white marble in the shadow of the moors.

 

So that’s The Heights. You can buy it right here for your kindle. Also available from iTunes, kobo, and Google Play. I’m super excited for people to read this book. Wuthering Heights is a book that still inspires fierce debate – is Heathcliff a hero? Is Cathy a heroine? Is the story a romance? The Heights is our interpretation – our version of Heathcliff and Cathy, and I can’t wait to see people discussing how our idea matches up with their own.

*A new Wednesday to be specific.

** Telford. It was near Telford.

In which Midsummer Dreams is out today and there is much dream-related blogging going on

*clears throat*

Ladies and gentlemen I have a small announcement. Today is e-publication day for my fourth Choc Lit book, Midsummer Dreams – it’s my second 21st Century Bard novel. Here comes the blurby bit:

Four people. Four messy lives. One party that changes everything …
Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.

Midsummer Dreams

And in celebration of Midsummer Dreams’ first day out there in the wild on people’s kindles, I have begged, cajoled, and blackmailed a whole host of fabulous writers into joining me in what I’m enthusiastically terming a Blog Splurge. It probably ought to have a more official sounding name than that like a Blog Roll or a Blogathon, but splurge is such a pleasing word to say – I’m generally very fond of a word with a ‘pl’ sound in it ‘plonk’, ‘plinth’, ‘pleasure’ – and so that’s what I’m calling it.

The idea is simple. I gave all the lovely participants three prompts to get them thinking about dreams and nightmares, and over the course of the day (or next couple of days) they’ll be sharing their own thoughts on their own sites, for your reading and commenting pleasure, and to join me in virtually celebrating release day.

So here are my dream and nightmare related musings to get the ball rolling…

I had a dream… last night about Matthew Macfadyen. Specifically about Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, which was unsurprising in many ways because I’d just watched the film, but also a bit weird, because I really don’t like Jane Austen. Sorry. I know I’m supposed to being a romantic novelist and all, but she just doesn’t float my boat. Matthew Macfadyen in breeches though makes for very happy dreams indeed.

I had a nightmare… Actually I don’t have nightmares very often. When I do they’re generally of the classic ‘being chased’ or ‘falling’ variety. I used to have nightmares much more often – when I was younger I refused to watch any sort of thriller or crime drama because it would give me bad dreams. If I accidentally caught the start of an episode of Crimewatch I had to stay right to the end so Nick Ross could tell me that serious crime was still very rare and not to have nightmares. Weirdly, that did seem to work – Nick Ross clearly had a very trustworthy face.

My dream for the future… is obviously mainly that we will all wear silver onesies and own flying cars and hoverboards. My second dream for the future is all the important world peace and an end to poverty and disease stuff. My final, and if I’m honest currently most pressing, dream for the future is that lots of people – certainly more than seven – will buy the shiny new book. That would be awesome indeed.

And if you enjoyed those thoughts about dreams (and even if you didn’t) here’s two fab things you can do next.

You can hop over to Amazon and get your own copy of Midsummer Dreams.

And then you can take a look at some of the other fantastic dream related blogging that’s going on today. Below (in no particular order) are the people involved. And you can get involved too – contact me on facebook or tweet me @MsAlisonMay with your dreams and nightmares and look out for #MidsummerDreams on twitter for links to all the blogs as they go live.

Jane Lovering http://www.janelovering.co.uk/2015/06/midsummer-dreamsalison-mays-launch-and.html

Rhoda Baxter http://rhodabaxter.com/?p=3102

Sheryl Browne http://sherylbrowne.com/2015/06/12/755/

Laura James http://www.lauraejames.co.uk/?p=2958

Lisa Hill https://lisahillwriter.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/we-are-such-stuff-as-dreams-are-made-on/

Sally Malcolm http://sallymalcolm.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/daydreaming.html

Chris Stovell http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/waiting-games-and-midsummer-dreams.html

Clare Chase http://clarechase.com/2015/06/12/midsummer-dreams-and-am-dram-nightmares/

Janet Gover http://janetgover.com/?p=6010

Morton Gray http://mortongray.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/spotlight-on-alison-may-midsummer-dreams.html

Henriette Gyland https://henriettegyland.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/midsummer-dreams/

Ann Evans http://annsawriter.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/congratulations-to-alison-may-on-e.html

Christina Hollis http://christinahollis.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/midsummer-dreams.html

Kathryn Freeman http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk/i-had-a-dream/

Bernadette O’Dwyer http://secretwriter1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/midsummerdreams.html

Julia Ibbotson http://juliaibbotsonauthor.com/2015/06/12/midsummer-dreams/

Anne Stenhouse https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/dreaming/

Janice Preston http://janicepreston.co.uk/2015/06/12/midsummer-dreams-and-nightmares/

Linn B Halton http://linnbhalton.co.uk/psychic-nightmares-and-midsummerdreams/

Helena Fairfax http://helenafairfax.com/2015/06/12/a-fresh-take-on-a-midsummer-nights-dream-midsummerdreams/

Heather King http://regencywriter-hking.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/midsummer-dreaming.html

Sally Jenkins https://sallyjenkins.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/midsummer-dreams/

Holly Magill https://hollyannegetspoetic.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/midsummer-dreams-by-alison-may-and-a-bit-from-me-on-dreamy-stuff/

Kate Haye http://katyhaye.com/2015/06/12/midsummer-dreams/

Kirsty Ferry https://rosethornramblings.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/midsummer-dreams/

Evonne Wareham http://evonneonwednesday.blogspot.co.uk/ (Wednesday)

In which I have a lovely new book coming out

I’m absolutely delighted, pleased, chuffed and gladdened to be able to officially announce that I have a new book out – well not quite ‘out’, technically just ‘available for kindle pre-order‘. It’ll be properly out for kindle (or kindle apps) in June, and hopefully in other formats sometime after that, but still I feel like having an excited author moment, and frankly you can’t stop me.

This is my fourth book, and second full length novel, to be published by Choc Lit. Midsummer Dreams was the first new book I started from scratch after contracting my first one, Sweet Nothing and, in all sorts of ways, it was the classic difficult second novel. I had the idea of ‘a contemporary rom-com inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ months before I started writing, but translating that idea into words on the page was tougher than anything I’d written before. Suddenly I found myself wracked by doubt. Was the first book a fluke? Could I do it again? What if the publisher thought it was terrible? What if they were right? What if I’d broken too many ‘rules’ of the genre? What if I’d gone too far?

Happily the Choc Lit tasting panel, who read all the submissions before they go to an editor, didn’t share my concerns, and so earlier this year I found myself with my nose deep in the manuscript again making edits and revisions to polish the story up into a finished novel. And while I was doing that, somehow, I managed to fall in love with the story and the characters all over again. So here is my lovely new book baby. I hope you will buy, read, enjoy and love these four horribly messed-up people as much as I do.

MD Final Cover

Four people. Four messy lives. One night that changes everything …
Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice might not always be the right one.