Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen...Cass Grafton & Ada Bright

 It has been such a long time since Cass Grafton visited my blog, too long, in fact. I'm so happy to have her back again, and this time with her friend and co-writer, Ada Bright. These two long time friends have written the soon to be released, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen. It sounds like it will be such a fascinating read and I am all anticipation waiting for the chance to indulge in the pleasure of its company. I know that Cass Grafton is a very talented writer so I have no doubt this latest will be excellent, especially with the addition of another talented author. 

Cass and Ada agreed to answer some questions but have a few things they would like to say first. I'll turn the floor over to them before we begin the interview. L

Hello! We are Ada Bright and Cass Grafton. We’re friends who love to write together and, after years of talking about it, we’ve finally written a novel together, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen.

Ada and Cass at Hogwarts
Firstly, we’d like to say how grateful we are to Janet for inviting us to More Agreeably Engaged. We had a lot of fun answering the questions below, which we hope will tell you a little more about the story and about us too.

Secondly, happy belated Fourth of July! For those of you who don’t know us, Ada is American and Cass is a Brit. We met many years ago on a small Harry Potter forum and instantly connected. In fact, the first stories we co-authored were Harry Potter fanfiction, though we soon found out we had shared obsessions in several genres, including the works of Tolkien and Jane Austen.

So, where do we start? This was a common question from Ada during the writing process

How about the most logical place? This was a frequent direction from Cass during the writing process.

Perhaps we should hand over to Janet to ask her questions!

Okay, ladies. Let us begin. What was the inspiration for your story, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen?
Ada: *points to Cass*
Cass: Jane Austen’s main residence in the city of Bath (at No 4 Sydney Place) has been made over into four holiday apartments in recent years, giving fans the opportunity to stay in a house she once lived in.


Back in 2014, I had the chance to stay in the ground floor garden apartment. I went to bed the first night feeling a heightened sense of where I was - this was a building Jane Austen had lived in, and I was going to sleep here!

I wondered idly as I drifted off to sleep whether I would wake up in the middle of the night and find her ghostly figure wandering around (which in reality would have scared me witless!), but needless to say, nothing untoward happened. Until I got up, that is.

The door between the bedroom and the drawing room, which I had closed the night before, wouldn’t open! It had no visible lock, but though I tried everything, it simply would not budge! In the end, I had to resort to emailing someone from Bath Boutique Stays (the company which manages the holiday apartments) to ask for help!

They said it had never happened before, but my over-active imagination immediately wondered if it was because Jane Austen had been on the other side of the door! Then, later, I had the chance to sit down with Marcus Whittington, Director of Bath Boutique Stays, to talk about the building, and he informed me that the iron safe built into the back wall of the bedroom was sealed when they first came across it. Nothing they tried would open the heavy door, not even the expertise of a locksmith!

Off went my imagination again: was there something mysterious afoot? Some sort of protection on the safe so it would only yield to a certain hand?

From there, it was a quick step to a time-hopping Jane visiting Bath in the present day and staying at 4 Sydney Place, quickly followed by the thought: what if she became trapped here?!

So there it was! The early seeds of a story… I waffle, by the way. Ada will sum this up in about two sentences!


Ada: Yes, pretty much. Basically she had a great idea, and we knew we wanted to write something together. As far as I was concerned, the plot was secondary. As long as we were writing together, I had complete faith we’d figure something out.

Oh, I love how you came up with the idea! Your experience sounds terribly excitin, Cass. So,how far did you stray from that original outline:
Cass: Quite a lot!
Ada: Hardly at all!
Cass: The story took over in the end. We tried to steer it as best we could, but every now and then it would get away from us, and one of us would have to put the brakes on so we could work out where we were going!
Ada: Speaking of roles in our writing process, Cass has a great ability to see the big picture, and that includes when we needed to change something from the outline. One of my pluses is that I keep us moving - but without Cass, we’d be so far off on a tangent our story would be a mess.
Cass: And without Ada, the story would only be half written by now! 

Sounds like you are a great team. You did make me chuckle a bit there! J Would you give us some idea what the book is about?
Ada: The short answer is friendship, especially online friendships. And a mystery, with hints of romance. But friendship is the key.
Cass: That’s true. Our lead character, Rose, has long been an avid Jane Austen fan, so much so some decisions in her life have been influenced by her love of the author. Not only did she choose to rent the basement apartment below No 4 Sydney Place as her home, she also applied for her job - one she has grown to adore - because the office just happens to be located inside No 13 Queen Square (where Jane Austen is known to have stayed during a six-week holiday in her younger days).  

Rose has a rich social life on the Internet, based mainly around Austen-related forums, something she has been able to hide pretty effectively from her friends and colleagues in her day to day life, but this year, that is due to change. Rose has invited her best friend, Morgan, whom she has never met in real life, to the annual Jane Austen Festival. Despite some trepidation over mixing these two worlds, Rose is convinced it’s going to be the best week of her life.

That is, however, until she begins to get distracted by the visitor staying in the flat above hers, the ground floor holiday apartment of No 4 Sydney Place. The young lady is clearly a dedicated Jane Austen fan, from her very authentic Regency clothing to her attempts to speak in a Regency style, but she seems both fascinated and amused by this Festival honouring the famous author.

Rose’s continued interactions with the lady begin to cause her some disquiet, but things soon take a dramatic turn, and Rose and her new friend find themselves in an alternate reality with no clear idea of how to set things right.

Now you have my interest. I need to read the ‘rest of the story’. Did you have some characters which surprised you during the writing process and if so, which ones surprised you most?
Cass: Funnily enough, Jane Austen herself! She was supposed to be a background figure, never really interacting with our characters, and she certainly didn’t have lines!
Ada: I remember very clearly Cass setting up this rule at the beginning - that she did not want us to have the burden of trying to write believable dialogue for Jane Austen.
Cass: But she simply wouldn’t stay away, infiltrating our original plot, and the more we developed it, the more she insisted on participating! I love her, but she did give us some difficult moments!
Ada: The character that surprised me most is Rose’s best friend from America (I was in charge of developing her character - do you think I was typecast??). I thought I had a clear vision of her being not at all like me. I was picturing all the confident and spontaneous women I know in the real world when setting up the character, but as we went further, and especially when we started having to figure out how her life would have changed if Jane Austen had never published her books, I found her to be more vulnerable than I thought she’d be.  

I also did not realize I would fall quite so in love with James (Rose’s boss)… but… I might have a bit of a crush that is fairly obvious if you read the pages and pages that we had to cut that were from James’ point of view!

James must be quite the character for you to have a bit of a crush. Speaking of those cuts, what were the hardest cuts you had to make?
Ada: Small cuts are bliss with a co-writer, because as you read or edit you naturally cut the things that don’t work or the other person does, so it’s like magic editing. My biggest “darling” that had to be cut was as mentioned above - an entire POV!

Originally, we gave James his own POV so Rose and James’ scenes would intercut in a neat way, but as the story progressed, we realised there was simply no place for James’ journey as a character. We tried, believe me! I still mourn the scenes that never were (though a good amount of James’ Act 1 scenes were already written, and we plan to share some of these on our Blog once the book is out).
Cass: The hardest cut for me - after losing James’ POV, but that did happen quite early on - was a scene set in Chawton nearer the end of the book.

I love Chawton; I can feel Jane Austen all around me when I’m there, but especially inside Chawton Cottage, so I found writing a scene with Rose and Jane there really touched and inspired me. (note from Ada: It is a BEAUTIFUL piece of writing). However, as we were editing, it became clear the emotion from that scene was in the wrong place for where the ending of the story was going. We also found ourselves facing a dilemma, where we had too many different endings on our hands. In fact, not even counting this Chawton cut, we had three endings going until the last possible moment we had to choose.

I do hope you will share some of those cut scenes and especially the ones you just mentioned. Moving on to your Leading men: are any of them inspired by an Austen hero; Mr Darcy, perhaps?
Ada: No, but *sigh* I just like thinking about them.  
Cass: Not intentionally, but Jane Austen gave us some lovely heroes, so it’s hard not to be influenced by them!

So although neither of our two male leads are meant to invoke a particular Austen hero in your mind, we can’t deny they may have Darcy-like qualities, or a hint of Wentworth somewhere about them!
Ada: Aiden (an archaeologist who comes to speak at the Jane Austen Festival) is somewhat aloof, dark and dreamy, with intense eyes and a deep voice. He’s the man everyone is staring at but who doesn’t himself realize it. He’s completely wrapped up in his work. And James (Rose’s boss) is motivated, constant and implacable, and a little surprised by who catches his eye!  

That’s great! So - anything else you’d like to say in summary about the book?
Cass: If you’ve lots of friends you’ve made through online communities, whether you’ve met in person or not, we think you’ll enjoy the read! If you’ve ever been to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, it’s a chance to re-live it, and if you’ve never been but would love to, come and live vicariously through the characters!

Of course, it’s also a mystery with hints of romance, so hopefully something for everyone!
Ada: Yes - can you tell we had trouble deciding on its genre?! And we really take you on a mini-tour of Bath, which is a great place to visit no matter how obsessive you run on the Jane Austen meter. We love our characters and hope you do too!

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The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is due to be released in paperback and eBook (all formats) on 7th July, and is already available for pre-order at all the usual online stores (links below).

You can find us hanging out on our Blog, Tabby Cow: https://tabbycow.com



Cass and Ada at The Royal Crescent


Alternatively, we can be found on:

Facebook



Twitter

Ada: https://twitter.com/missyadabright  @missyadabright
Cass: https://twitter.com/CassGrafton @CassGrafton


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 Pre Order Links


Smashwords (for all eBook formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, PDF etc)
  



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Blurb

It’s September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the annual Jane Austen Festival, a celebration of the famous author and her works.

Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, can’t wait for her friends to arrive and the Festival to start, unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a secret that ultimately puts Jane Austen’s entire literary legacy at risk.

With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?

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Ms. Grafton & Ms. Bright, it has been great having you visit More Agreeably Engaged. Cass, please don't wait so long to come back next time. Ada, I hope you will visit again soon. I so enjoyed your interview answers. You made me smile and you aroused my curiosity. From the blurb and your comments during the interview, I think this is a book that anyone who loves JAFF should enjoy reading. I wish you much success with its release on the 7th.

Did I mention that I love your cover? No? Well, I absolutely do. It is a beautiful cover. Well done!

Now readers, to the part where you get a chance to win this awesome book and some other fabulous prizes! Wait until you see what these two have in store for a lucky winner. First of all, an eBook OR Paperback copy of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, winner's choice, is available internationally. In addition to the book of your choice, there is much more to this giveaway. Are you ready? I am excited to tell you, there is a lovely necklace with a quote from Captain Wentworth's letter, the screenplay of the 1995 Persuasion, a Jane Austen silhouette pin and a miniature copy of Persuasion from the Jane Austen House Museum. Isn't that a great gift for ONE lucky winner? Remember, it is international! Thank you, Cass Grafton and Ada Bright for such a generous giveaway! 

                         close up view of necklace                                       screenplay              

Readers, please leave a comment to be entered. Include your contact info because you do not want a lack of contact info to keep you from having a chance at this fab prize! The giveaway will close at 11:59 PM on the 11th of July. Good luck to all. 

48 comments:

  1. It is such a pity that with all modern tehcnologies and equipment Bath Boutique Stays has not been yet successfull in opening that iron safe. Rational part of me says that it is hightly likely that the safe is empty, but the intrigue!!! Oh, I love intrigue and mystery:) I have never been in Bath (or in UK), but as Austen fan I would love to, so reading The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen and "seeing" Bath and JA Festival through the eyes of the characters is a great opportunity for such as myself:) Thank you lovely interview and extremely generous giveaways!

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    1. They did get it open eventually, Oloore! Not sure how but I know it cost a few hundred pounds and guess what was inside? A peanut! Marcus, the Director of Bath Boutique Stays, says he thinks Jane Austen would have found it very funny they paid lots of money out for peanuts! ;)

      We really hope readers will feel they are walking the streets of Bath with our characters! Good luck in the draw!

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    2. HA! Thank you for commenting Oloore! And Cass - I don't think you ever told me there was a peanut in there. *spoiler alert* we don't mention the peanut. I think we should have!

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  2. I was 14 when a nice librarian lady introduced me to Jane Austen. It was "Price and Prejudice", of course. I stayed up all night until I finished it and absolutely loved it. I went back to the library and, subsequently, read her other 5 novels. The fact that there were only 6 of them...oh, how that thought made me shudder! I realize that "P$P" is loved the most by Austen readers but I have to admit that I have always preferred "Persuasion". Who can resist one captain Wentworth? So, I grew up loving Austen, went to the University and majored in English literature, mostly because of her. To make this more interesting, I'm from Serbia :) Jane Austen is, indeed, an international inspiration. (Contact info ratka79@hotmail.com)

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    1. I'm a huge Persuasion fan, Tamerlane! There's quite a few references to the story in the new book too!

      Good luck in the draw!

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    2. Yes Tamerlane, I do think the Captain may be my favorite hero of them all. Don't tell Darcy, I don't want to cause a fuss.

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  3. Oh my goodness. What a wonderful background to your story. I love the online friends finally meeting and at the Jane Austen Festival. That is someplace I would love to meet 'good fiends who never met' (loose quote from the Muppet Movie) that I met through our mutual love of Jane Austen. It sounds like such a fun story. I love the Wentworth-like and Darcy-like men we will be introduced to. Thank you so much for the generous give away. skamper25 (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Good luck, Deborah Ann! Really appreciate your support on all the Blog posts! You're a star!

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    2. Thank you Deborah Ann! (p.s. I love the Muppets!)

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  4. it's strange what events can trigger an idea for a story - my reaction, while sleeping, to a ghost appearing in a room my husband and I shared resulted in him writing some short stories. I like the idea of an unlockable safe.

    meikleblog at gmail dot com

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Vesper! Good luck in the draw!

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    2. Oh! Ghost story plot twins! Thanks for commenting Vesper!

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  5. patkf2007 [at] hotmail [dot] com

    I love stories thta has combination of mystery and romance.

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    1. I hope you love this one, BookLuver88! Good luck in the draw!

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    2. So do I Bookluver88! My favorite romances are subtle. I love that turn when it's been about the mystery the whole time but suddenly... something entirely different (romance) becomes clear.

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  6. OK, I have far too many questions! I envy your stay at Sydney Place and visits to Chawtpn. Both are on my bucket list. I've been to Bath, but only on a day visit. Love the concept for your story. When I was a professional writer years ago, cutting bits - or as we called them, "killing our babies" - was far and away the most difficult part. It must help to have a co-author. Like the two of you, I am also an avid Tolkien fan in addition to being an Austen devotee. And while I double majored in history and literature in college, I grew up wanting to be an archaeologist and took a good many courses in that subject as well, so this book sounds like it hits all my interests. Can't wait to read it!

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    1. Your knowledge of archaeology is probably better than ours, Bonnie! Mine mainly comes from watching back to back episodes of Time Team on TV one winter when I was recovering from surgery and couldn't move far!

      We both love Tolkien (and Harry Potter) so there are a few references here and there to them!

      I do hope you get to Chawton (SO special, such a wonderful place for Jane Austen fans to really 'feel' her presence) and back to Bath for a longer stay before too long!

      Good luck in the draw!

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    2. I also grew up wanting to be an archaeologist (Except I didn't want to travel) because I grew up reading the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters!

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    3. Cassandra, I LOVE Time Team! And Ada, when I reached the age of around 16 I realized I enjoyed staying in hotels better than tents, so I gave up the archaeology dream!

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  7. I'd love to read this book! The plot sounds like it was born out of your real life relationship, and isn't that cool! Here's wishing you loads of success. bennetdarcy (at) Austin (dot)rr (dot) com

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    1. Thank you Jan! Yes, we definitely borrowed from some of our real world interactions and especially the funny misunderstandings we've had!

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    2. I hope you enjoy it, Jan! Although we aren't 'in' the book ourselves, Ada is right, we have borrowed lots of nods to things we may have talked about or done over the last 14 years!

      Good luck in the draw!

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  8. This sounds like an amazing story!! I would love to be lucky enough to win the giveaway and the chance to read it as soon as possible instead of waiting to be able to buy it.

    Congratulations!

    tgruy at netscape dot net

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    1. Thank you tgruy! Good Luck - if we had all the resources in the world we'd give everyone a giveaway ;). I hope you get a chance to read it either way!

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    2. Yes, good luck, tgruy! Ada's right, we only wish we had endless copies to hand to send out!

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  9. Can't wait to read this one! The plot sounds very original and intriguing.

    What a wonderful array of prizes! Thanks for such a great giveaway!

    Pamh5230 at yahoo dot com

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    1. Thank you Pamela! I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it! Good luck!

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    2. Good luck in the draw, Pamela. Ada's right, we had so much fun during the writing of the story, we hope it comes across in the book!

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  10. I keep finding new Austen review blogs and seriously love them! Thanks for the interview! This book sounds amazing! I've just recently started diving into Austen alternate realities/contemporary versions! Can't wait to add it to my shelf.
    Contact me at: zinger393@gmail.com

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    1. Awesome Leah! Good luck and thank you so much for commenting!

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    2. Hmmm, contemporary Austen related stories with alternate realities? This definitely sounds right up your street, Leah! lol

      Good luck in the draw; glad you enjoyed Janet's interview!

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  12. Delightful visit and interview, ladies! I'm always nosy about where a story comes from. Bit of the Catherine Morland in Cass, I see. LOL But glad the visit, ghost, and safe all led to the germ of a story.
    That's funny about the multiple endings. You could have written a choose your own adventure story. Look forward to the extra 'cut' scenes after I read the book.

    Fabulous prizes. Thanks for the opportunity.
    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

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    1. Good luck, Sophia Rose!

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Really appreciate your support, here and at the other Blogs! You are so kind.

      Ha! I'd never thought of that before, but you're right! My over-imagining is rather Morland-ish! ;)

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  13. Just a lovely post! What a fascinating way to come to a story and share your passions with an enthusiastic friend. Thank you for sharing this post with us ladies!

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    1. Thank you, Claudine! No. 4 Sydney Place has a lot to answer for! ;)

      Good luck in the draw!

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  14. Thank you for a great Q&A interview. I, too, adore the cover of the infamous topaz cross and view of Bath. I am even more intrigued to stay at 4 Sydney Place, and it is on my bucket list. Thank you for the giveaways! evamedmonds(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. So pleased you enjoyed the chat, Eva! Hope you get to stay at No. 4 soon! It's a very special experience!

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  15. Wow! Wonderful interview! Now I'm even more convinced that this must top my Must-Read list. The genesis of the story is a whole 'nother intriguing story in itself. Many thanks for taking the time to share it with us and for your generous giveaway.

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  16. Yay, those Jane Austen Festivals... Can't wait to start it after I wake up from the night shift... miramagdoatyahoodotcom

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    1. Mira! Is that you?!

      I'm going to the opening weekend of the Festival this year - hope to see you there!

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  17. My goodness, what a lovely giveaway! The 1995 Persuasion is one of my all time favourite Austen dramatisations (after 1995 P&P) and is my go-to quick fix when I don't have time for anything longer. And the interview was just great, too. Thank you to all three of you.

    Since I stumbled across this wonderful online community, I've been fortunate to make some great friends from all around the world. I guess I'll never meet most of them, but the only one I've met is Cass herself and I have very fond memories of the lunch we shared a couple of years ago.

    So many topics mentioned above resonate with me too. I still watch Time Team re-runs sometimes when they crop up on TV and we actually went to see a dig being filmed years ago when they did a live one in York. If you knew where to look in the crowd, you could see our young son (as he was then) and my legs!

    Tolkien and Harry Potter are also favourite reading matter and I'm once more listening to the entire HP series with the wonderful narration by Stephen Fry. Currently about a quarter of the way through Order of the Phoenix.

    There are times when I almost (but not quite) regret my choice not to go to University in Bath (loved the city but didn't like the Uni or the version of the course on offer there) but as I met my hubby at Uni in Bradford, it's only a very small regret. I'd love to go to the Festival one day but until then, will definitely have to live vicariously through my online friends.

    Good luck with the launch and have a load of fun at the party!

    angmardee (at) hotmail (dot) com

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    1. I LOVE Stephen Fry's narrative voice for the Harry Potter series! You're making me want to start again with it too!

      I have fond memories of our lunch, Anji! Can't believe The Square Bar & Restaurant is no more! Next time, we'll be needing a new venue!

      Good luck in the draw. You've been such a wonderful support to us in the run up to publication!

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  18. It sounds like am amazing read :-) I want to read it now

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    1. We hope you enjoy it whenever you get to it, pailofpearls! (love the name, by the way!)

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  19. What a fun interview and such an intriguing premise! Congrats, Ada and Cass, this sounds like a great read!

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    1. Thank you, Joana! You were with us at the very start of it too!

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