Setting the Scene

When I plan a new book, first and foremost in my mind are my characters, and the dramas I’m about to put them through. I might have an idea of surroundings, but I don’t normally firm up the location until I’m literally about to start writing that first chapter. That’s not usually a problem as I tend to base many of my books in Liverpool where I live, so I ought to know it quite well.

I like setting scenes in areas of Liverpool that aren’t so well-known, but are familiar to me – or so I presume until I have to describe something in detail. There have been quite a few times when I’ve had to make an emergency dash so I can describe the colour of a particular set of railings, or the view from a particular entrance.

Sometimes I’ll use a little poetic licence and alter locations if there’s something about the setting that doesn’t quite work, and I also mix things up deliberately to avoid moving my characters into some poor unsuspecting person’s home. In The Missing Husband, you won’t find Beaumont Avenue in Liverpool, and you’d be hard pressed to find the short cut to West Allerton station.

There was one time when I almost came unstuck trying to find the right location for my novel. In Where I Found You, there’s a park that’s central to the plot as it’s where my main characters frequently meet. Before I’d even begun to write the story, I’d formed a very clear picture in my head of what it should look like – only to realise that of all the parks I knew in Liverpool, none were quite right. I extended the search using Google Earth but to no avail, the park didn’t exist anywhere except in my imagination, and that was why I created a whole new town called Sedgefield, which is nestled ‘somewhere,’ in the Cheshire countryside.

The Affair Out NowI returned to Sedgefield in my novella If I Should Go, and more recently in The Affair. When I was planning The Affair, I knew straight away that I didn’t want to use a real location, or more to the point, I didn’t want to use a real school. The story focuses on a pregnant school girl called Scarlett, and it’s her teacher who falls under suspicion. It felt wrong scandalising a school that actually existed. What would the pupils think, or the teachers for that matter? Despite the chaos I unleashed on the town this time around, I enjoyed my return visit to Sedgefield, and there’s always a chance I’ll go back there again some day.

When is an eBook better than the real thing?

A question that’s guaranteed to divide popular opinion (other than Brexit) is which is best – eBooks or paper versions? As a reader, I’d be more inclined to say that nothing beats the real thing. It’s the physical connection you get from an actual book that simply can’t be replaced virtually. I have quite a collection of books on my bookshelf that I’d hate to part with, books that have been signed by their authors or simply ones I plan to go back to one day because I enjoyed them so much. In my virtual library, there are undoubtedly books I’ve loved, and while I know they’ll always be there, I don’t get that same sense of satisfaction in ‘keeping’ them.

That being said, eBooks are SO convenient. If I want to read a book someone recommends, I can download it in seconds. I can take countless books away with me on holiday, and I can easily access a book on my phone when I’m unexpectedly stuck on a train or a bus, or when I’ve become tired of reading the posters in a waiting room.

Of course, you don’t run out of power when you’re reading a real book. And if you want to flick back to a favourite passage or check some fact or other, flicking through the pages is much easier than clicking through pages on screen.

Ah, but I forgot, you can add bookmarks and notes to eBooks, can’t you? And so the argument turns in my mind – and that’s before I’ve even considered the issue from an author’s point of view.

When I had my first book published, there was nothing in this world that could have replaced that feeling of walking into a bookshop and picking up my book from the shelf; feeling the crisp white pages and smelling the fresh ink that gave life to my words. I keep longing for the day when I’ll be sitting on a train and I catch someone with their nose in one of my books. It hasn’t happened yet, and probably never would if we all went digital; not unless I went around looking over people’s shoulders to see what they were reading on their tablet.

One advantage that eBooks do have is longevity. My first book Yesterday’s Sun was published in 2012, and while you’re unlikely to find it in a bookshop these days, it’s still available online for download, and hopefully will be for a very long time.

out-now-the-affairI suppose the conclusion I’m drawing to is that there’s room for both formats. I’m more than happy as a reader and a writer to have both options available, so back to the question I pose in the title of this blog: When is an eBook better than the real thing?

The answer is when my publisher decides to release the digital format of a novel before the official publication date, as is the case with The Affair. If you have any iTunes or Amazon vouchers burning a hole in your pocket from Christmas, and don’t want to wait until 12th January, it’s available for download now!


The Affair Blog Tour

To mark the eBook publication of The Affair, we have a lovely blog tour during November 2016. The first stop is on Monday 14th November, which just so happens to be my first official day as a full time writer so a great start to my new career!The Affair Blog Tour 2016

In amongst the stops will be interviews, reviews, giveaways and a few guest blogs too. I’ll signpost each of them on my Facebook Page, but here’s the full list:

Monday 14th November: 23 Review Street

Tuesday 15th November: Trish’s Blog

Wednesday 16th November: Female First

Thursday 17th November: Portobello Book Blog

Friday 18th November: Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom

Monday 21st November: Rachale’s Reads

Tuesday 22nd November: Miss Bookworm Reviews

Wednesday 23rd November: The Book Geek Wears Pajamas

Thursday 24th November: Crooks on Books

Friday 25th November: Debra’s Book Café

Monday 28th November: I Read Novels

Tuesday 29th November: Novel Kicks

Wednesday 30th November: Handwritten Girl

I’d like to thank all the wonderful book bloggers above for hosting the blog tour, and for all their hard work in supporting me and so many other authors by promoting our books.

Amanda x