Christmas Checklist

I hope by now that everyone is well on their way to being organised for Christmas. Are your decorations up, have you dressed your tree and wrapped your presents? No…..phew that’s good because I’m certainly not that organised.

My Christmas Checklist

My tree

Tree – Yes decidely it’s a very wonky one but it’s lit up and decorated. Even though it’s not the prettiest tree it smells divine and looks the part. Top tip for all you real Christmas tree fanatics – don’t buy it from a farm in the middle of nowhere when it’s dark unless you have a very good torch and a spirit level.

Decorations – Yes up to now I’ve decorated the hall, the front of the house, the kitchen and the living room. Phew a couple of glasses of wine helped to ease the pain. It’s taken a week but it looks very festive.

Presents – Hmn, erm, sort of. I have a lot of people to buy for which include five children, a granddaughter, two sets of parents and numerous nephews and nieces. I’ve made a really good start I think and I’m off to Manchester next week to hopefully finish off whatever it is I need. I’m sure that I will end up coming back with everything that I didn’t want or need but I’m looking forward to it.

Cards – I’ve made a start, which is all I’ll say on that subject. They normally get delivered on Christmas Eve after a large Baileys and it’s anyones guess which letterbox they get posted through.

Wherever  you’re up to with your Christmas preparations I hope that it doesn’t overwhelm you and take away the magic of Christmas. I think that we are so busy working and rushing around we sometimes forget that the best and sometimes the worst part of Christmas is being able to spend time with the ones we love. It can be a special time of year as long as we don’t put too much pressure on ourselves, so what if the tree is wonky or I burn my sprouts again this year, the point is I’ve tried my best and that’s all anyone can ask.

Helen xx

The Zeitgeist Thriller by Amy Bird

The zeitgeist thriller – guest post by Amy Bird, author of Yours is Mine

Amy pic

 When I first started to write fiction, my biggest fear when I walked into a bookshop (yes, digital authors do frequent print bookshops) would be that I picked up a book, read the dust-jacket, and found that it was the same as the one I was writing. Recently, though, I’ve come to think of this as less as a nightmare, more of an interesting point about literary trends.

We are often told there are only seven basic plots. Be that as it may – when two books come out that are strikingly similar, both in terms of plot, mood, and tone, that is something to take note of. Some particular cases in point recently have been Gone Girl v. Precious Thing, and Kiss Me First v. my very own Yours is Mine.

 

Now, we are all used to books proclaiming to be the next Gone Girl. Mine has been called that, I hope fairly. But the comparisons tend to be because of tone, or the use of two narrators, or just because it will keep you wake until 2am. Colette Mcbeth’s Precious Thing, as anyone who has read it will know, really is very similar to Gone Girl. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but the similarities in the way they both use perception shifts, the constant uncertainty as to whether one person is the criminal or the victim, plus the central disappearance, really is as uncanny as the tales they tell.

Closer to home, I was amazed when two books about identity switches, both by North London writers, came out within days of each other earlier this year. The first was Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach, in which one woman agrees to masquerade as another on-line. The second was my debut thriller, Yours is Mine, in which one woman agrees to masquerade as another on-line – and in real life. The motivations and scenarios in each book are very different, but both Moggach and I have taken a vulnerable character as our protagonist, making her susceptible to the ulterior motives of on-line predators, and shown her life being exchanged and imperilled to various degrees.

You would think, maybe, that people would tire of this sort of story. But no: if my experience is anything to go by, we are delighted to find ourselves in familiar territory of the twisty thriller, not knowing who to trust, what the secret is, and there are enough differences to keep us hooked. The psychological motivations for the characters are different, and in Colette Mcbeth’s Precious Thing the focus is a destructive friendship, not a toxic marriage like in Gone Girl. In Yours is Mine, it is the other woman in the life exchange who is out to get the heroine, whereas is Moggach’s book, that other woman is also a victim of sorts.

So why do these books come in waves? For Yours is Mine and Kiss Me First, the answer is perhaps obvious: we are all putting so much more of our identities on-line, that the risks this poses make crime writers ask ‘what if?’. For Gone Girl and Precious Thing, perhaps it is the constant risk-taking when we make ourselves closer to one person than any other, never really knowing what that person is thinking, and the ever-increasing ability of the media to save or destroy reputations. Whatever the reason, for anyone who enjoys bringing a thrill to their Kindle, long may this doubling-up of chilling treats continue.

 

Yours is Mine

Yours is Mine is published by Carina UK, the digital imprint of Harlequin, available from Carina UK (http://www.carina.com/yours-is-mine), Amazon UK (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Yours-Mine-Amy-Bird-ebook/dp/B00DP220YY) and US (http://www.amazon.com/Yours-Mine-Amy-Bird-ebook/dp/B00DP220YY) and all other good e-book retailers, including iTunes and Kobo. You can get the other books mentioned in this blog there too!

 

You can find out more about Amy at www.amybirdwrites.com , follow her on twitter at https://twitter.com/london_writer or facebook her at https://www.facebook.com/amybirdwrites