Thursday, August 3, 2017

Riverside Lane NBtM

After arranging a house swap with a debonair antiques dealer, a darkly handsome American named Luca Tempesta arrives in a quaint English village. Tempesta, who claims to run a detective agency in Los Angeles, is supposedly on holiday – but the inhabitants of the village are unconvinced.

Yet, as they attempt to solve the mystery of the stranger in their midst, it gradually transpires that there are more than enough secrets to go around in the village itself, harboured by the local MP and his uptight, ambitious wife; the has-been former game show host; the respectable couple with the jailbird son; the hometown journalist, striving for a scoop that will rescue her from debt; and so on. The place is revealed as a labyrinth of deception masquerading as a picture-postcard hamlet; tension begins to mount in between the dinner parties and evenings at the pub, and soon culminates in an unexpected death.

Behind perfect privets and brightly painted front doors, the lives of Riverside Lane’s residents slowly unravel. Tempesta, guarding his secrets with a vengeance, is suddenly threatened with exposure by the elderly religious zealot Ivy Midwinter, whose own past involved keeping professional confidences. When she challenges him in church, she learns that Tempesta will stop at nothing to protect his privacy ...

Set against the exquisite backdrop of a gastronomic village by the Thames, Riverside Lane is a tautly paced page-turner that also gently satirises middle- class English manners: the upstanding denizens of the village watch and whisper behind a mask of English hauteur, whilst their own fragile lives come undone.

Ivy bolted the door behind the journalist. Returning to her desk, she locked the drawer and squeezed her eyes shut. “The blind will see, and those who see will become blind,” she intoned, blinking furiously to dispel the strange dots that had started presenting themselves in her vision. They were becoming more frequent; Ivy knew she should visit an ophthalmologist. She hoped it was not un-Christian, but the thought of being unable to read her beloved sheet music upset her more deeply than any of the memories from her past. The Victorian marble clock, which comforted her hourly with its sweet Handel music, proclaimed that there was just enough time to deliver the cheque to the bank and get back to the Village for Evensong.

Standing at the bus stop with the melodious clock chimes still echoing softly in her head, Ivy caught sight of Luca Tempesta walking through the churchyard. Handel, she thought, had been sent to law school by his father, just like this American. The former had abandoned his studies and blessed mankind with the “Hallelujah” chorus; the latter, according to Ivy’s preliminary investigations, had abandoned his to set up a private-detective firm; then, some years later, he had apparently disappeared from God’s Earth without a trace. Except he had not disappeared. He was here in the Village, living in Clive’s house, next door to Frank, smoking Russian cigarettes. And Ivy Midwinter planned to find out why.

Ginger Black – you’re hired!
By Gaynor Pengelly

Little did I know when I set out to write Riverside Lane with Julia Thum that we would end up feeling as if we’d taken part in the hit TV series, The Apprentice.

The ink was barely dry on ‘The End’, when we found ourselves caught up in a whirlwind of Apprentice-style challenges that tested every aspect of our business metal.

Sales, marketing, design, teamwork, negotiation – you name it, we’ve done it to secure the coveted first prize of a publishing deal. Writing an 85000-word novel was a ‘walk in the park’ by comparison.
During our three-year writing odyssey, in which we breathed life into a fictitious community set in the culinary village of Bray on Thames (home to The Waterside Inn and The Fat Duck), Julia and I metamorphosed from happy-go-lucky writers to ambitious, business-savvy entrepreneurs.

Julia and I knew that if we had the tenacity to write Riverside Lane in snatched hours before our families awoke and late into the night after a busy working day, we had the grit and determination to persevere.

So, instead of the long literary lunches we had dreamed about, days were spent designing websites, getting to grips with social media and masterminding PR strategies and press campaigns.

Having set up, run and sold a successful PR business, Julia had a clear advantage over me in the entrepreneurial stakes.  Blessed with bags of energy, an analytical mind and a genius for organisation, she has all the hallmarks of a natural born leader.   There is little doubt she would have been singled her out as the ‘one to watch’ from the get-go.

My approach to enterprise is slightly more haphazard. As my co-author sat surrounded by state of the art technology, tip-tapping genius campaigns and strategies on her high-end Apple Mac, my approach was to scrawl on endless pieces of paper and pluck ideas out of the air.

But while we are polls apart on business challenges, like our writing collaboration, a healthy dose of teamwork and the merging of two different styles – has made it happen.

Our first Apprentice style challenge was to create the Ginger Black website.  Something Julia, who has a propensity for giving everything a go with gusto, quickly abandoned when it was dismissed with howls of mirth from our nearest and dearest.

Luckily, our web-designer, Karl Salter turned out to be a digital marketing guru and taught us how to treat Riverside Lane as a commercial product, rather than a labour of love.

Getting to grips with social media was a learning curve, but we soon discovered the value of tweeting and writing blogs to raise digital awareness of the Ginger Black brand and promote Riverside Lane. Soon our website had more than 700 people signed to its mailing list, which proved a powerful calling card when we approached independent book publishers.

Within weeks, Ginger Black had several offers on the table, allowing us the luxury of signing to Momentum Books, a small team of literary giants whose enthusiasm for Riverside Lane has made the blood, sweat and toil of our business challenges worth every minute.

The days of rattling out a thrilling story and signing to a literary agent have long gone.  Today’s authors must juggle creativity with entrepreneurial flair, good PR and marketing skills, as well as a thorough understanding of social media are essential skillsets.

Don't forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Author Bio and Links:
Ginger Black is a writing partnership between Gaynor Pengelly and Julia Thum.

Julia left Somerset for London at 16. She founded & ran her own consumer P R agency representing a range of international brands including Braun, Molton Brown, Clairol & Kleenex. After selling the business she trained as a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders & hosted a phone-in show on Radio Luxembourg.

Julia writes bespoke literature & articles for private clients and visits secondary schools & prisons representing two national charities in providing emotional support to pupils & inmates. A keen kayaker and a passionate cook, she lives in Bray-on-Thames with her husband Nicolas and their four children.

Gaynor has worked as a national newspaper correspondent for more than twenty years, interviewing everyone from the great and the good to extraordinary people in ordinary lives. The rich variety of her subject matter and their circumstances has given her a rare insight into human nature and the challenges many people face.

Gaynor's great loves include sitting in pavement cafes watching the world go by, National Trust and English Heritage and hiking across the windswept Yorkshire moors. She lives in Bray-on-Thames with her husband Jonathan and their son, Freddie James.

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  1. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Who is your favorite literary character of all time? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  3. I enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing!