The Next Big Thing

When Steve Bichard (who wrote Vantastic France) Vantastic France. Follow the adventures of a family moving to France by Steve … via @amazon

and is following it up with Encore Vantastic asked me to join in with the Next Big Thing, I was well chuffed.  Part of being an author (a lifelong ambition for me) is the joy of meeting like-minded scribblers and co-operating with them in the relentless round of marketing to get our wonderful works seen.
My first book, The Twisted Vine, is set in the French vendange of the 1980\’s.  I went grape-picking there myself at that time and met some great characters.  I hope that people who love to drink wine should find the harvesting of the grapes interesting, as I did, despite the back-breaking work!  Against this colourful backdrop is a romantic thriller story which will keep the reader guessing until the last page.  It\’s received over 15 5* reviews on Amazon.  Some of the key characters are French so I\’ve used italics when they are speaking in French to get round the language thing but there is plenty of French scattered among the pages and the scenery, food and culture of France are characters in themselves.

You can find some of the reviews elsewhere on my blog and here is the link to the book on amazon.

The Twisted Vine by Alex Martin via @amazon

 It\’s also available in print as a paperback via and and as an ebook on

However, THE NEXT BIG THING is about the next big thing all us authors are writing!

So I\’m following Steve\’s excellent example and using the same questions:

What is the title of your next book?

This book is called Daffodils.  It\’s a very different animal to The Twisted Vine but some of its scenes are also set in France – on the battlefields of the First World War.  It follows the changes war brings to young Katy Phipps, a naive but aspirational servant at Cheadle Manor in Wiltshire.  She tries to escape her humble beginnings but only manages to create a scandal that traps her into marriage before she\’s ready.  She makes the best of it and bears her husband a child.  All looks set for happiness but after tragedy strikes, they both leave for the Front.  Through the hardships and trauma of a global conflict, Katy gradually matures into a resourceful woman, who finally realises the value of the home she left behind.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I had both my children in a tiny Wiltshire village with very similar in geography (though not characters) as Cheadle.  One of my neighbours, Old Harry, who had a wooden leg, had lived in the row of tiny cottages since he was 4.  He was nearly 100 years old when I knew and loved him.  He had witnessed many changes over the years and I wanted to write about them before they were lost forever.  Then the story grew and before I knew it, it had morphed into a big sweeping saga about the First World War.  The research for this background was sobering but fascinating.  I hope I\’ve done it justice.

What genre does your book fall under?

This is easier than The Twisted Vine – historical fiction and I suppose also Military History.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Now this is a really fun game I often play with both my books when I can\’t fall asleep!
These are my stars for the Twisted Vine:
Toyah Wilcox when 23 would have been perfect for Roxanne.  Perhaps the shorthaired girl from the original Spooks now?  the guy playing the French windowdresser in Selfridges – who\’s actually called le Clair! – would be great for Armand and I\’ve always thought Charles Dance for Louis and Lindsay Duncan, her hair dyed black, for Jeanne Vallons.

Daffodils has a big cast so I\’ll confine my choices to the three main leads:  Hayley Atwell\’s intelligent acting would draw out Katy\’s character very well Hayley Atwell , though I see her as looking more ethereal, more like Keira Knightly Keira Knightley.  Jem\’s character could be portrayed by Jude Law, Jude Law if he was a lot younger and Lionel – mmm tricky – Christian Bale would make a good fist of him and he has the right name!  Christian Bale:   Of course this would only work if he dyed his hair golden.  Don\’t suppose he\’ll object to that – for such a part??

I can picture it all sooo easily!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Daffodils aims to encapsulate the immense social changes brought about by WW1 in the life of one working class woman\’s heartrending story.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Show me an author who doesn\’t want an agent to do the hard slog for them! But, even though I\’ll try and get one, I\’ll self publish first.  People are waiting…(I hope!)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Simply years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Birdsong springs to mind but there are many others written about this era.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See reference to Harry above but also everything I have learned about WW1 has drawn me into the global tragedy and the sheer huge waste of it.  Soon it\’ll be the 100th anniversary of that conflict.  I wanted to salute those who sacrificed their lives for ours.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Essentially this is a book about love.  Not just romantic love, although that is central but also love of family, of place and of children.  I hope everyone who reads it will empathise with Katy\’s trials as she battles her way through life at a time of high drama.  She starts out naive and aspirational, restless with the energy of youth and seeking adventure.  When real life presents challenges Katy rises to them and comes to realise what is really important.

I would like to tag the following five authors.  Please check back and give them time to add their own posts and links.  All of them write well and I have enjoyed their work immensely.

1.  Tomas L. Martin

Tom is, I admit it, my son, but he is a genuine writer of many years and much talent.  His genre is Science Fiction.  He\’s contributed to many reviews of other books, an anthology and is now engaged in bringing out a new boardgame for adults called Maelstrom.  He is also a brilliant editor for me!Here he introduces himself in his own words:

I have been a writer for more than ten years, and have been blogging on livejournal, blogger and facebook for a similar amount of time, although my posting regularity and medium has changed over the years. I was also a daily blogger on the excellent Futurismic for a year, posting about science, technology and geeky stuff. ​Over the last two years, I have had a lot more fiction publications, and am working on three novels, including one for a confidential project I\’m very excited about. As my fiction career begins to get serious, I\’ve realised that I really need an official site to represent it, and so I\’ve migrated these seldom-read blogs across to my new website at​

2. Penelope Hellyer

Penelope Hellyer was born in Sussex where she lived for 57 years before she moved to Northern Italy. She now lives with her husband Philip on the shores of Lake Como. Her days are filled with writing – both prose and poetry, painting, pressed flower work, sewing, knitting and photography.
Early retirement from working as a gardener/nurserywoman enabled Penelope to complete her first book \’The Haphazard Gardener\’. As the daughter of the late Arthur Hellyer – editor, horticultural journalist, author and photographer – her story is quite unique.
Follow the sentimental journey of her time in the garden, the most rewarding period of her life, when her ambition to open her own specialist nursery was fulfilled and the garden of the great Arthur Hellyer became accessible to the general public.
A Kindle version of \’The Haphazard Gardener\’ is now available but without colour photographs as planned.
Penelope\’s debut novel was published on Kindle in October. A paperback is to follow. Penelope is now preparing for the NaNoWriMo challenge in November; as well as working on a poetry book and stories for children.
She has had articles published in \’The Hardy Plant Journal\’.
One of her poems is included in \’My Home\’ – Stratford Literary Competition Winners 2011.
Penelope has recently published \’Alice\’ which is a fictional story of a girl of that name and is available as a Kindle book on Amazon.

3.  Karl Jones whose blog can be found at:

In the dark of the night and the still of the evening you\’ll find Karl Jones writing furiously to exercise his dark muse to the delight of his fans. Specializing in Crime and Horror thrillers, he refers to himself as a loner, haunted by the stories he pens and driven to push the boundaries until all lovers of the genres have no choice but to sleep with one eye open. Karl explores the dark side of humanity and turns the stories of some of the most depraved into literature you\’ll have no choice but to read with one eye on the door and every light in the house on. Grab a sample if you dare…

4. Malika Gandhi

This is the description of Malika\’s latest book:

Scattered Ashes is a series of stories of five people: Rakesh, Dev, Pooja, Amit and Sunil. Victims of the hate towards the Raj, they battle through relationships and prejudice and love.

This is Rakesh\’s story. A son, a brother, a friend and a Freedom Fighter.

When Rakesh heard the call of Quit India, he wanted in. Joining his fellow comrades in this “war” against the British Raj, Rakesh becomes a Freedom Fighter. Little did he know the pain he would cause his mother, father and his younger brother, Dev, when he chose to go on that march.

and here\’s the link:
Rakesh\’s Story (Scattered Ashes (Book 1)) by Malika Gandhi via @amazon
5. Ian Davies
Here\’s a list of some of his titles in children\’s stories:
Charlie Rabbit – Train to Funtown Park (Charlie Rabbit\’s Adventures) by Ian Davies via @amazon
A short story ideal as a bedtime story with a happy ending as always with Charlie Rabbit!
From the author of a 2012 #1 Bestseller in Kindle store in both Short Story Collections & Children\’s Short Stories \’Charlie Rabbit The Easter Bunny\’.
Some other titles available in this series:

Charlie Rabbit Discovers Christmas Day
Charlie Rabbit and the \”Haunted House\”
Charlie Rabbit Goes Pony Riding
Charlie Rabbit Goes Fishing
Charlie Rabbit the Easter Bunny
Charlie Rabbit Goes To The Seaside

Ian was too shy to speak for himself so here\’s his favourite character speaking for him:
Well the author was taking too long to add this bit so I am doing it on his behalf.
The author from Hampshire has very kindly made my home in these stories within the New Forest area of Hampshire. I am really pleased about this as it is such a pretty place to live.
We do get lots of visitors during the year but they are very good and drive slowly through the area as the ponies often wander across the roads and they are never in a hurry.
I do hope you get to visit me in these stories.
Talking animals? Of course, we all talk!
Best wishes to you.
Charlie Rabbit

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