As well as wishing you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I’d like to start by thanking you for your support in 2018. It’s been a wonderful year where I have increased my readership and more than tripled my book sales! I’ve also been able to help a lot of other authors to publish and market their books through my mentoring programme. Just today, I had a wonderful message from one of my mentees, thanking me for my help and telling me how much the sessions with me have helped her writing career. This message was just the best early Christmas present!
New Look For The Nordic Heart Series
I began 2018 with a new look and titles for The Nordic Heart series of books. These novels recount the bittersweet love story between Kaisa, a Finnish student and the English Royal Navy Officer, Peter. Last year, I noticed that people often didn’t know what the books were about. Some readers thought that since I was writing stories set in the Nordic countries, they must all fall in the category of Nordic Noir, but alas, this is not the case.
As you may imagine, changing the titles and covers for four books that had sold quite well since I published the first novel in 2012, was more than nervewracking. I ummed and ahhed about the change for months, but if the sales of the books in the series since the change are anything to go by, the rebranding was a roaring success. You can read more about the rebranding of The Nordic Heart Series here on the Alliance of Independent Authors blog.
The latest book in the series, The Christmas Heart, has been my most successful yet, so I am a happy bunny going into 2019 and a new series of books.
The Åland Islands
My next book is called The Island Affair. It’s a story of Alicia, a Finnish journalist, her British surgeon husband Liam, and a Swedish reporter called Patrick. (See a more detailed blurb below). This novel will be the first in a new series of books, all of which will be set in Åland, a group of self-governing islands situated in the Baltic between Finland and Sweden. I know the place well, because my mother and stepfather live there, and I’ve spent many a summer holiday, as well as Christmas, on the islands.
To be honest, I’ve been wanting to write about the small community of these islands before. The Swedish-speaking population of some 30,000 people live mainly on the largest of the islands, called Fasta Åland, but there are 6,500 more skerries in the archipelago to the East. The population doubles in the summer when ferries travelling between Finland and Sweden bring tourists to the capital, Mariehamn. They stop there to take advantage of its tax-free status, a special dispensation by the EU.
There’s been a certain amount of political turmoil on the Åland Islands too. The islands were militarily crucial in the Crimean War and during the First World War, the Russian Government turned the small islands into a submarine base. Then there was a dispute on whether the islands should belong to Finland or Sweden. This ended in 1921 with a League of Nations resolution which deemed the islands to be an autonomous part of Finland. If you were to ask the people living on the islands, whether they are Finnish or Swedish today, they’ll reply, ‘I am an Ålänning.’
The people on the islands seem to love and despise both Finns and Swedes in equal measure, almost like estranged members of their family. But the Russians, they seem to fear. There are often stories in the local press about Russian submarines being sighted in the waters just off the coast of Mariehamn, or the Russians secretly buying up property on the islands, or about the significance of a piece of land Putin owns in Åland. A few years ago, two Swedish rappers built a gay bar on this piece of land and were taken to court for trespassing. The charges were dropped in the end, but this incident shows how a ban on promoting gay values in Russia can affect people in Åland!
The Island Affair
You can see how a place like this brings out the creative juices in a writer?
I am just in the middle of the last bit of editing of the first novel in the series, The Island Affair, which will be out in March 2019. If you would like a quick sneak peek into the story, you can download an excerpt now. This does require you to sign up to my mailing list, but naturally, you can unsubscribe at any time.
Two broken hearts. One hot summer.
After the tragic loss of their 17-year-old son, journalist Alicia and surgeon Liam struggle to keep their marriage afloat. During their usual holiday to Åland, the Nordic island where Alicia grew up, the rift between the couple deepens and Liam leaves Alicia behind and heads back to London.
Enter tall, blonde Patrick, with the most piercing blue eyes Alicia has ever seen. When Patrick confides in Alicia about the near loss of his daughter and the breakdown of his marriage, Alicia is surprised to feel an affinity with the Swedish reporter. He’s the only person who understands Alicia.
When the body of a Romanian boy is discovered in the reefs not far from Alicia’s parent’s place, secrets held by people close to Alicia are brought to the surface which, surprisingly, give her a reason to live – and love again.
The Englishman FREE Promotion
Finally, I wanted to tell you about a promotion that I’m running over the festive period. The English Heart, the first book in The Nordic Heart series will be FREE from Tuesday, December 25 12:00 am PST to Saturday, December 29 11:59 PM PST. That’s 8am UK time 25th and 7.59pm on 29th December.
If you haven’t read this “breathtaking Nordic fiction novel with an undercurrent of romance”, here’s your chance. 😉