When Curmudgeon Avenue Appeared at Glaston-Bury (one day event for charity in Lancashire).

I am so proud of my home town, Bury in North West England. Especially on August bank holiday when the town is taken over for a charity event called Glaston-Bury.

Taking their name from the bigger festival in the south, Glaston-Bury fills the streets of Bury with heavy metal, cover bands, poets, and this year a book reading of Curmudgeon Avenue (I wrote that) by my talented voice over friend and colleague Lindsay McKinnon.

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Those who know me know that I have MS and can’t stand up for long. And to be honest, I’ve been unwell ever since the event and that’s why it has taken me seventeen days to write this blog post. #MSsucks and fatigue is doing my head right in!

Anyway, back to the event. The reason we were welcomed to appear at this mostly music festival is because part of book four of the Curmudgeon Avenue Series is set at the Glaston-Bury festival!

Above is a sneak peak of a new cover – I’m always messing about. I just need to make the final decision about if Harold’s spectacles should be wonky.

Gil Von Black nearly broke Facebook when it was realised he would not be appearing on stage with his magic fingers this year. Gil Tweeted a photograph of Patchouli and himself with the caption #AugustBankHolidaychillin’. As soon as this was noticed on Facebook, there were many comments on the Glaston-Bury page. ‘Please can someone tell me which stage and what time is Gil Von Black on?’ several people asked. All with the same answer from the festival organisers: ‘He’s not performing this year’.

     Ahh, the life of the actual real-life session musician rock star; he will attend the festival along with the crowd (including Wantha, Toonan and their respective men). After Wantha had attended to her Instagram duties (doling out advice about what to wear at a local charity festival), she found her lip liner and was ready to go. Zandra and Gordon Bennett prepared themselves for their first Bury day out since arriving at Curmudgeon Avenue.

Our stage (actually the poet’s stage) was upstairs in a very cool record and coffee shop called Wax and Beans

It was actually tricky to prepare for the event. I am NOT a performer, fortunately, Lindsay is. Lindsay McKinnon has loads of acting experience and is the most talented person I have in my phone (or have met in real life). If you are reading this, and are looking for a narrator for your audiobook I would recommend Lindsay. Click HERE for her website.

It was difficult to choose passages from a book I started writing seven years ago. Especially as my head is full of my current work in progress. I suppose all authors go through this (laughing face emoji). I am yet to attend a (traditionally published) author talk since lockdown ended in the UK. I’ve been to loads in my time and they are usually full of an eager audience wanted to know the question that no one can answer; how can I get published?

Fortunately, Todmorden Book Festival has come to my rescue. I have tickets to see one of my favourite authors, Joanne Harris. I have so many questions for her but I know I will be too shy to ask any of them.

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Sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I was just trying to explain that I intend to attend more author talks and do more of my own.

I just need to get better first (I usually have a good management of my illness but I’m just weary at the moment – or as my window cleaner puts it ‘you look fr****d today’)

Speaking of tangents, one way that I look after myself is physiotherapy. When I was first diagnosed with MS I started doing yoga. Here’s the tangent, one of my oldest and dearest friends Carla (we met during nurse training, that’s how long we’ve known one another) gave me the tip off about the Todmorden Book Festival. Carla is now an excellent yoga teacher; she has just the right voice for it. If you are in or around Todmorden, you should definitely attend her yoga class click HERE for her link.

WELL I have gone round in circles today haven’t I? You could say I’ve gone round the mulberry bush – which would segue into a hint about my work in progress. I’ve decided not to reveal the title until the manuscript has been polished(I cannot wait to start sharing this book I am really enjoying writing it).

Have a great weekend, Samantha 🙂

PS I wrote these:

I’m Back! (and other mini-dramas)

I haven’t blogged for a while, or participated (properly) with social media. It’s all been for a good cause – I concentrated all of my energies on my BA (Honours) English Literature and Creative Writing degree, of which I have now completed the first half of my third year.

I used to be able to do more – either my MS is getting worse, I’m getting older, or the course is getting more demanding. Probably mostly the latter but also (probably) a combination of the three.

I have still been reading for fun, of course but all the other things (book promotions, reviews, adverts) have had to take a back seat.

I plan to use my summer to write my next standalone novel – I am too anxious to reveal the title today, although I’m not sure why.

First, I plan to relaunch my 2017 novel ‘1962 (an uplifting tale of 1960s Lancashire)

You know, someone hurt my feelings about this cover earlier this year and I could really have done without it. There’s a long story behind the cover, my dad didn’t want his face on the cover (!) and the person I gave the photograph to to draw a picture from didn’t illustrate an image of the bike. Amazon KDP were not happy with the original cover (too blurry) until eventually I was forced to change it. The cover you see above is aiming to be an old Penguin.

Postcards From Penguin: 100 Book Jackets in One Box: Amazon.co.uk: Penguin  Group USA: 8601404201011: Books

Anyway, I plan to change the cover when I relaunch.

One advantage of being an indie author is that I can make these kind of decisions and change things whenever I fancy it. (Although it doesn’t provide protection from busybodies)

Thank you for understanding, I hope everyone has a fabulous summer, Samantha 🙂

PS I wrote these!

Bleak House and Curmudgeon Avenue: A Comparison

Bleak House and Curmudgeon Avenue both written about houses.

Imagine my surprise when this years first book of my creative writing and English literature degree was announced as Bleak House by Charles Dickens.

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I had never read this book before, and it rolled onto my Kindle with an estimated reading time of twenty seven hours (I think they guess these times on your personal reading speed). The first thing I did (not for academic purposes) was to have a quick nosy on Wikipedia… Then I read this sentence ‘The novel has many characters and several sub-plots,’

Let’s just have a look at that again  The novel has many characters and several sub-plots, 

Remind you of anything?

Yes, Curmudgeon Avenue – the six and a half part series also has many characters and several sub-plots but I promise… or as we say in Manchester I swear down I had not read Bleak House before I started writing Curmudgeon Avenue.

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Here is a Gif of the American version of ‘SWEAR DOWN’ just in case my North West England vernacular confuses you.
(Also, we don’t spell it Northwest England).

When the multi talented Lindsay McKinnon of Theatre of The Mind Productions narrated the audiobooks of Curmudgeon Avenue, she wrote a post on her website ’50 Shady Characters & More’ which you can read and see her contact details (if you are looking for a narrator) by clicking on the words in bold.

I didn’t realise I had written 50 characters, but with all the supporting extras they do add up! Especially if you include all six and a half books.

Bleak house has 52 characters.

Incomplete sentences, some reviewers (in the US) have picked up on this. Yes I write with British English grammar and spelling, this includes a creative turn of phrase. My character Wantha Rose likes to refer to herself in the third person – particularly if her boyfriend Ricky has upset her (as so often he does).

Nobody upsets Wantha Rose. NOBODY.

See what I mean?

Charles Dickens was also a fan of incomplete sentences. The opening to Bleak House starts with the one word sentence ‘London.’ Say what you like about Curmudgeon Avenue but even George Eliot’s fancy-piece George Henry Lewes (famous philosopher and literary critic) was unable to review Charles Dickens into submission – even though they were ‘dear friends’.

Charles Dickens, the Victorian literary genius and me (I can’t say and I – I’m from Manchester) both like incomplete sentences in our books.

That’s books about houses, Bleak House and Curmudgeon Avenue.

Bleak House is set in London and Lincolnshire – there is an actual Bleak House in Broadstairs, Kent

Curmudgeon Avenue, is of course, fictional. This street could be anywhere in Whitefield, which as you know is a real life town north of Manchester.

Whitefield is located in Greater Manchester

Narration

Bleak House and Curmudgeon Avenue both have unusual narration choices.

Dickens’s Bleak house was serialised and the finished novel version appeared in 1853. The serials published in three or four chapters. The novel is narrated by a third-person omniscient narrator and the first-person limited account of character Esther Summerson. Though these narrative voices greatly differed, Bleak House worked because the narrations were not mixed within the chapter, (so readers either got Esther or the omniscient narrator speaking to them). This meant that Victorian readers of Dickens’s Bleak House knew what was going to happen next before the narrator Esther Summerson.

I’m about to write a long explanation… wait for it…

The Curmudgeon Avenue Series is written from the point of view of the first house on the street. The house becomes an omniscient character and so, the name Number One Curmudgeon Avenue has capital letters. This means that the books are second person witness narrated.

Very unusual, most books are either first person ‘I’, third person ‘they’. Second person is hardly ever used, the reader is addressed ‘you’. I couldn’t help it… I wanted the house to tell the story, and this technique allowed me to satirise the people who lived in the street:

‘Edna’s costume jewellery jangled like tinnitus’ [Who said this? Number One Curmudgeon Avenue, of course]

There is a review on Goodreads that explains it all from a reader who ‘got’ the Curmudgeon Avenue Series. The reviewer said something like ‘I wondered at first how the house got to know everything. But then I remembered I was reading a book where the house told the story, so why wouldn’t the house know everything?’

As writers, we must trust our readers to make what they will of our books. Otherwise, we would write books that TELL rather than SHOW. And although I am not against telling a little, it is much more fun to show the reader what you mean, that there is a house with a personality with eyes and ears watching every move and making fun of it (for our benefit).

A bit like Charles Dickens having fun with his readers when Esther Summerson doesn’t know what we know because we’ve already read about it when the omniscient narrator was having a turn. (I was going to pop a spoiler in here because Bleak House is a famous book, and if you were to Google it, you can read a plot summary, but I decided not to because that is cheating!) All I will say is the book is about Esther Summerson’s parentage and the long running Jarndyce and Jarndyce legal case.

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Repeated phrases.

Charles Dickens used repetition to remind his readers which character or location they were reading about. (Ideal for those early readers who caught the serialised editions in Household Words). Fog is mentioned thirty times as a literary device, a curtain of fog… readers must wait for the fog to clear before they get to know the plot. Mud is mentioned thirteen times, ‘mud and mire’, all a bit grim around Chancery and Tom-all-Alone’s. Mrs Bagnet’s domestic dinner-times. Grandfather Smallweed who does not go out without his Grandaughter, Judy who he speaks to as though she is his servant. And Mr Krook’s bottle shop and lodgings are said to symbolise ‘rock bottom’.

Repetition in Curmudgeon Avenue is just for fun really, I suppose I could say that I was trying to reflect the house’s disdainful personality. Repeated phrases (that I slotted in wherever I could) are ‘For longer than reasonably necessary’ or ‘quite some time’. Both probably reflect that Curmudgeon Avenue has been hanging around since Victorian times.

Social satire

Yes, both Bleak House and Curmudgeon Avenue are social satires.

Time

Bleak House was written as a contemporary novel in 1853, Curmudgeon Avenue is a contemporary novel of current times.

Dialogue

Dickens wrote Bleak House is a social commentary. The upper middle class characters are very well spoken ‘Anything to vary this detestable monotony. Oh, go on, do!’ This is Lady Dedlock, she sounds very posh to me. Dickens’s poorer characters have a colloquial vernacular which Dickens wrote in non-standard English grammar. ‘I know wot she’s come for!’

Curmudgeon Avenue is a bit of fun… All the characters are Northern, working class and speak with a Manchester turn-of-phrase. Using this technique aims to bring character to the… characters. Nobody ever says ‘and I’ in North West England. When we greet each other, we say ‘Alright’ sometimes, the exuberance of a hello sounds like ‘Alrite’ . These are not typos – it is how things are round here. ‘I knows someone called Ricketts(from The Terraced House Diaries)

Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com

I regularly watch a film or read a book and think ‘that reminds me of’ another film or book. Reminds doesn’t mean the same as. I love it.

Have you read a book/watched a film that reminded you of another story?

Happy reading, Samantha xx

Happy Christmas Everyone – I’ve Published Another Book :)

Curmudgeon Avenue #6

A Curmudgeonly Christmas (Curmudgeon Avenue #6) is the final instalment of the Curmudgeon Avenue series and will be published on the 27th of December. Available to pre order from today!

Curmudgeon Avenue has been going on for quite some time. Some would say for longer than is reasonably necessary. 

Feeling proper emosh! I have finished writing the Curmudgeon Avenue series with a Christmas special. 

Gordon Bennett is obsessed with the size of potholes on the street, Wantha and Ricky may or may not seal the romantic deal. Christmas is coming, and Francesca is getting fat. Patchouli’s past comes back to haunt her – will Gil Von Black be able to cope? 

Oh – and the ghosts are immune from any and all pandemic restrictions. 

A Curmudgeonly Christmas is intended to provide a bit of light relief during the week between Christmas and New Year. You know the one, that week we are all fed up with eating, drinking and each other!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The book started with Harold Edith and Edna, and the story of how they ended up living together. The series evolved into a social satire about a group of neighbours and their intertwined lives. Gossip, romance, dramas and laughs follow all written with British English spelling and grammar and narrated with a voice typical of how folk say ‘stuff’ in the Northwest of England.

All lighthearted, all easy reads, all a bit of fun.

Audiobooks narrated by the hilarious and talented Lindsay McKinnon.

Pre order A Curmudgeonly Christmas here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08QSJPQYT

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, happy reading, Samantha xx

Cheer Yourself up With a British Accent #CurmudgeonAvenue

A recommendation for indie authors looking for an audiobook narrator

Just over a year ago, I had the best bit of news since I started my indie author career.

An email arrived from ACX to informing me that a voice over actor had auditioned to narrate Curmudgeon Avenue #1 The Terraced House Diaries.

It turned out that the talented Lindsay McKinnon lives forty minutes up the road from me, she did such an awesome job of narrating that I am saying the audiobook is better than the book.

Last week, Lindsay sent me a video she has made which is an introduction to the characters and book

Obviously, I am keen to spread the word about Curmudgeon Avenue but I am also recommending Lindsay if you are looking for a voice over actor to produce your audiobooks. Lindsay’s website is called Theatre of the Mind Productions https://www.theatreofthemindproductions.co.uk/

Lindsay can also be found on Twitter @LindzMcKinnon

Obviously, I will be asking Lindsay to narrate everything that I write from now on.

Now scroll back and watch the awesome video!

Happy listening,

Samantha xx

The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue (Curmudgeon Avenue #5) Has Been Released Into The Wild! (Available on an E-reader Near You).

Hello Everyone!

Me again! Today I want to talk about my latest book, published today (30th of September)

The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue

What is it about?

THE ONE WHERE THE B*TCH RETURNS

Reformed rent burglar Georgina Foote moves back to Whitefield and into number 13 Curmudgeon Avenue. She is desperately seeking Kevin but all she finds is nonsense. Collecting enemies at work and at home, Georgina Foote does not belong here.

Meanwhile, a mass exodus occurs when Wantha Rose, Ricky Ricketts and newbie Krystina moved to Greenmount. They think that the world does not revolve around Curmudgeon Avenue, will they find out that it does?

A denouement of sorts resolves the ghost’s stories when Harold takes up residence in the House of Commons, and Edith reunites with her first husband.

Zandra Bennett’s career takes on a new direction when she unwittingly starts channelling the ghost of Edith in the under-the-stairs space.

We finally get to find out Mrs Ali’s first name, her story and her source of all knowledge.

Wantha and Ricky nearly get married, and we learn why the Rose sisters have such daft names. Their mother, Patchouli is still living the life of luxury, and occasional abseiling with Gil Von Black

Not intended as a cosy read, the characters in this social satire provide an utterly British escape.

Will the nincompoops of Curmudgeon Avenue survive without the street?
The ending is a shocker!

What is the series about?

Curmudgeon Avenue is a social satire comedy drama about a house that doesn’t like its inhabitants.

From Edna, Edith and Harold to Zandra and Gordon Bennett there are plenty of dramas, romances and quarrels.

The characters often come over as preposterous and unlikeable. Yet, they are all entertaining, in their own ways. Plenty of Manchester humour and language in the dialogue.

Readers are saying that the series is like a British sit-com, and one even said it is like a soap opera on speed.

How did I write book five?

Georgina Foote is a supporting character from book one. She had recently split from her husband Kevin, and so had moved home with her mother. But Pauline Foote had grown tired of her daughter, Georgina living with her and arranged for Georgina to rent a room at No.1 Curmudgeon Avenue. One day, she stole the rent and moved out, and we haven’t heard from her since.

IN BOOK FIVE Georgina is back, desperately trying to rekindle her relationship with Kevin. She thinks she is irresistible to men and cannot understand why Kevin is hiding from her… Or who is sending her hate mail.

While Georgina is collecting enemies all across Whitefield, Wantha and Ricky are trying to get married. But in an almost Far From The Madding Crowd style, Wantha turns up at the wrong venue.

SETTING

Curmudgeon Avenue is a fictional street in the actual town of Whitefield, North Manchester. I named the series Curmudgeon Avenue after an incident with a disabled parking space. And I chose Whitefield, because that is the place I always got stuck in traffic on my way home from my old job.

In book 5, Georgina is a psychiatric nurse who works in a community mental health team. Initially, I thought twice about this. But I decided to go with it. As writers, why shouldn’t our characters work in mental health care? It is the same as if Georgina had been a hairdresser. Because of the genre, we don’t get to meet any of the ‘service users’ just the staff, which leads me onto my next point.

I was a psychiatric nurse for twenty years. When I started my training, aged 18, I was told that I would be ‘eaten alive’. This was the early 90s and, even that recently (and unfortunately) attitudes towards mental health patients were terrible.

Obviously, I have created the character Georgina Foote using my own imagination.

You can buy The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue HERE

There’s more!

This morning, The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue got a 5* rating from Readers’ Favorite (Thank you)


Review
Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers’ Favorite

The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue replaces the stars of its previous novels with the Rose sisters (Toonan and Wantha), Georgina Foote, Zandra, and many other side characters (some fresh faces and some familiar ones). Wantha Rose stumbled upon Georgina Foote at Manchester Town Hall, where Wantha was scheduled to marry Ricky Ricketts. When Ricky Ricketts did not show up, the red-faced Wantha made Georgina swear that she would not talk about this day to another soul. However, Georgina Foote broke that promise over Facebook, thus insulting Wantha in her own territory, aka the internet. Georgina Foote, the rent-thief, continued her distasteful deeds, paving her way out of everybody’s hearts — not that she ever was in anybody’s heart — and onto their blacklists. On the paranormal side of the plot, with Edith’s ghostly help, Toonan created her tarot-card reading business. Since Edith was busy reconnecting with the ghost of her first husband behind Harold’s back, her inconsistent availability proved to be the biggest problem for Toonan’s business. The juicy gossips were just the right backdrop for the rib-tickling events.

Curmudgeon Avenue is a series that puts a never-fading smile on the lips of its readers as the nosey, loud, insensitive, and inappropriate nincompoops go about their ridiculous lives. The result is a hilarious novel that leaves its fans waiting for the next gossip of Curmudgeon Avenue. Although the star cast of the previous novels — Edna, Edith, and Harold — were mostly missing in this novel, “longer than reasonably necessary” and illogical conversations match the expectations of Curmudgeon Avenue series’ readers. Samantha Henthorn excels in introducing side characters in one novel and then putting these characters into the spotlight in the next book of the series. Her strategic act of passing the proverbial baton works flawlessly in just a matter of a couple of chapters. Wantha’s almost-wedding day, dishonorable actions by Georgina Foote, Zandra’s embarrassment about their unmentionable housewarming party were the building blocks of a novel that brimmed with excitement.

Samantha Henthorn has proved to be one of those authors who have a firm grasp of the expectations of their readers. Each novel of the Curmudgeon Avenue series is a testament to her awareness, and The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue is no exception to this fact. Humor fans will laugh at the illogical train of thoughts of the characters and gladly join in the gossip of Curmudgeon Avenue. I recommend not only this book but each novel of the Curmudgeon Avenue series to readers who enjoy light comedy.

IN OTHER NEWS!

Today is 30 days since book two of the Curmudgeon Avenue series ‘The Harold and Edith Adventures’ was submitted to ACX, so hopefully, it will be published soon for your listening pleasure.

Narrated by Lindsay McKinnon of Theatre of The Mind Productions

Lindsay has done a grand job again with awesome comic timing.

Lindsay is here on the left pictured at our book launch of book one’s audio at Radcliffe Library (pre-covid).

Buy book one’s audio HERE

Thank you for reading, happy Wednesday, Samantha and Petal cat.

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#Audiobook is HERE! Curmudgeon Avenue #1 is Now an Audiobook and I am Over The Moon! #IARTG

Hello Everyone!

I am sure by now that you all know the story about my husband encouraging me to put my book Curmudgeon Avenue #1: The Terraced House Diaries forward on ACX to see if anyone would transform it into an audiobook.

WELL I am glad he did and I am even more astonished/over the moon/pleased that the multi-talented voice-over actor Lindsay McKinnon contacted me about producing it.

Here is our book launch at a local library (pre lockdown)

You can read the blog I wrote about our live audiobook launch at Radcliffe Library HERE

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Curmudgeon Avenue is the book about a proud, yet grouchy Victorian terraced house in a (fictional) town in Whitefield. They do say that walls have ears, and some even say that walls can talk. So when mismatched sisters Edith and Edna Payne move in, the house has plenty to say.

One of the first ever reviews that Curmudgeon Avenue received described it as ‘Coronation Street on Speed’. I think that this explains it better than any blurb. Two years after first publication, I am currently writing book number 5 of the series.

The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue

(Yes it does, I can’t stop writing it!)

The book really lends itself to spoken word and Lindsay has done the finest job possible colouring the characters with accents.

Enough from me – here are the links: AUDIBLE     AMAZON

MORE ABOUT MULTI-TALENTED VOICE-OVER ACTOR LINDSAY McKINNON Theatre of The Mind Productions http://www.theatreofthemindproductions.co.uk/

Happy listening everyone! Please let us know what you think by leaving a review on Audible or Amazon,

Samantha and Lindsay xx

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A Big Day Out on Curmudgeon Avenue #AuthorEvent #AudiobookLaunch #RadcliffeLibrary @BuryLibraries

WELL, after much deliberation, I finally gave in to my husband’s demands (sorry – I meant suggestions) and put my book Curmudgeon Avenue Book One: The Terraced House Diaries forwards on ACX to investigate its audiobook potential. I did not think that anyone would want to narrate it, however, one sunny Sunday morning in October last year I received an email that has boosted my writing career no end –

From ACX: Lindsay McKinnon at Theatre of The Mind Productions wants to narrate your book.

(!!!!!)

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Photo by jonas mohamadi on Pexels.com

Just to give you some context, when I read the email, I was sitting up in bed, and my husband was in the bathroom. Upon his return, he said ‘What are you grinning at?’ and I said:

‘I’ve just had an email, someone wants to narrate my book! She sounds AWESOME! Listen to this!’

Wow, I wish I had one of those ways to add audio to this blog post, and I wish you could get in my head because when I listened to Lindsay’s audition, I swear down, she sounded exactly like I had imagined my book would sound when I was writing it. What a voice. How lucky for this to happen – I went from lacking confidence, doubting that anyone would pick my book up to… THURSDAY EVENING THE AUDIOBOOK LAUNCH OF CURMUDGEON AVENUE BOOK ONE! Where we put on a book event at the local library – Radcliffe Library where part of the book is set!

(I need to catch you up here, from anywhere in the globe, I managed to meet a narrator who lives half an hour up the road from me – again- what a moment of serendipity!)

We met fabulous Librarian Sarah of Bury Library services and she had set a little room up for us inside Radcliffe Library (nice building – recently refurbished)

Soon, we had a room full of expectant faces and one helpful husband holding a camera up ready to listen to Lindsay’s reading of my book and my waffling on about it (you know what it’s like when you get onto a good subject!)

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We played the Curmudgeon Avenue trailer, made for me by my friends J&E Productions:

Wonderful librarian Sarah introduced us, (I love librarians, can you tell? Also well jel of their job).

Then Lindsay kicked off the action by reading the dedication in her superb actor voice:

‘This book is dedicated to the Whitefield Massive!’ 

Lindsay then read the first chapter of Curmudgeon Avenue, August Apologies: ‘On the day this all started, the sky was full of August apologies for a summer undelivered.’ The first chapter is narrated by the house (yes, houses have personalities so why wouldn’t it narrate a book?) The scene is set for a proud, yet grouchy Victorian terrace who is suddenly empty and awaiting new residents… Enter sisters Edna and Edith, soon to be followed by lodger Harold.

 

 

Links for the Kindle and paperback copies of Curmudgeon Avenue Book One: The Terraced House Diaries UK and US

Trust me, links to the audiobook will be posted here the second that ACX starts to distribute it – any minute now!

Thank you for joining Lindsay McKinnon and myself for the cyber version of our audiobook launch.

If you are an author and are interested in Lindsay narrating your book through ACX I think, think the easiest way to find her is on Twitter @LindzMcKinnon or by typing ‘Lindsay McKinnon’ into the ‘search > producers for hire’ box on ACX.com or search Lindsay McKinnon on Linkedin. (Obviously, I want Lindsay to narrate the other books in the Curmudgeon Avenue series).

Samantha xx

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On How Modern Classic 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith Provided Inspiration for #CurmudgeonAvenue (After I started writing it) @McCallSmith #IART @LittleBrownUK

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It all started at Whitefield Library in 2014 when my nursing career ended (I accepted ill-health retirement due to MS).

My hometown of Bury provides an adult learning service. Despite my initial ambivalence, I signed up to a two hour per week creative writing class delivered by a beautifully inspiring teacher, whose name begins with Jill. One of our first tasks in the course was to write a short story titled ‘Winter’. What was I going to write? How would I approach this? As I drove home from Whitefield that autumn day, the sun shone lower in the sky and the rust coloured leaves drifted on to my car windscreen. I knew then that ‘Winter’ should be set in Whitefield. This same road reminded me of queuing in traffic, halfway home from my job in Salford. I remembered glancing at the houses on either side of my car. Commuters already home from work inside their houses lit up by the TV. I wondered what these Whitefield folk did with their lives.

Later that same week, Mr Henthorn and moi encountered an incident in a supermarket carpark involving a disgruntled driver and a disabled parking badge. A curmudgeon! I thought to myself (admittedly, I used a different word under my breath). Following this, the characters Harold, Edith and Edna were born, and I delivered my short story ‘Winter’ to a circle of keen creative writing students, nodding and praising one another without fail. ‘Winter’ was awesome – even if I say so myself – and it eventually made its way into the pages of Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue

This is where 44 Scotland Street finally gets a mention. The beautifully inspiring teacher I mentioned was subjected to further creative writing pieces including Harold, Edna and Edith.

‘You should read 44 Scotland Street’ I was encouraged ‘It’s like your Curmudgeon Avenue, about a street and all the characters that live there.’

I had heard of Alexander McCall Smith – of course, I had (someone who attended the same physio recommended I read The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency which I knew from The BBC). But I did not know about 44 Scotland Street. However, I immediately started to read the series (currently on volume 13, 2019) and thought this is right up my street! Book number one opens with Pat viewing a flat in 44 Scotland Street, the notable narcissist Bruce shows her round – I was drawn to this. Who doesn’t have a story about a narcissist? They’re everywhere! Later, Bruce has a conversation about Chardonnay, recounting a story about the ABC clubs of New York ‘Anything But Chardonnay’. His counterpart was tempted to tell him that Champagne is made from the Chardonnay grape.  When I read this I was over the moon, having recently had a similar ‘Anything But Chardonnay’ irritation at a book club in the village of Greenmount.*

I have read and loved all thirteen of the 44 Scotland Street books. I have doted on Bertie, never getting past age seven. Gaining freedom from his overbearing mother Irene who invents a schedule for him including yoga and psychotherapy; only to be bossed by the domineering Olive in his same class. (Fear not for Bertie, he has a friend Ranald Braveheart McPherson – love that name). I have enjoyed Angus’ and Domenica’s courtship and eventual marriage – but not before Domenica’s anthropological adventures. Big Lou’s cafe (and some of her romances) has been the hub of society. Matthew and Pat work in an art gallery (typical of what I now imagine Edinburgh to be). Matthew marries Elspeth who used to teach at Bertie’s school and they have triplets. You kind of have to be there – and I would recommend you read them all.

On the note of ‘being there’ here is my review of the most recent volume ‘The Peppermint Tea Chronicles’ 

Samantha Henthorn Author

24 November 2019

I have read and enjoyed every book in this series, I admit to having formed romantic ideals about Edinburgh. As a result – if I ever was to visit the real Scotland Street (minus the fictional 44), then I would be gutted not to bump into my friends – Big Lou and young Bertie. Because they are my friends., the characters have been created and continued so consistently I feel like I know them. In this book, I was delighted to read Angus and Dominica’s everyday situations, such as losing the right to carry a large bag about in private because they are married. My heart melted to find out about Bertie and Ranald’s wish for a pet puppy – and laughed out loud at young Bertie’s observation that ‘no matter what you did, girls would get you’. All rounded together nicely by a happy ending for Pat, Lou and Elspeth, and a satirist’s view of local authority call centres and shoe choices in social situations and saying ‘dinner rather than tea’. A book – a series that restores faith in human nature.
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Thank you again to the beautifully inspiring teacher that encouraged me to read 44 Scotland Street, and to Alexander McCall Smith for writing it.
Now you must allow me to talk a little about my Curmudgeon Avenue series.
*Greenmount, I mentioned earlier is a village just up the road from where I live and grew up the same house in Greenmount will cost you 100,000 more than anywhere else in the Bury area. It is inhabited by wealthy incomers – no one – it seems is originally from there, apart from my husband who I often tease would have been ‘Able to look down on me from Greenmount.’ I dislike snobbery fiercely, and this is reflected in the satirical style that Curmudgeon Avenue is delivered. (See – there is a curmudgeon in everyone).
After a few drafts and publishing other books in between, Curmudgeon Avenue took on a life of its own. Where 44 Scotland Street is omnisciently narrated, Curmudgeon Avenue is dangerously and unreliably witness narrated. Not intentionally – I wanted the house to speak for itself. This became the series where the house tells the story (often in brackets). Four books on, The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue was published in October. I have just started writing book number five The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue; where sisters Toonan and Wantha have fallen out, there is half a wedding and enemy Georgina Foote moves in at Number Thirteen. Reviews are coming in ‘Witty, dry and weirdly funny’ – ‘made me wonder what my house would say about me!’ and even ‘Move over Fawlty Towers!’ And the audiobook – narrated by established voice-over actor Lindsay McKinnon is due to be released early next year (2020).
Genre is everything to the independent author. I would say that Curmudgeon Avenue is a comedy-drama and it ticks the satire box (as I have when listing the series with KDP). It has been difficult to find other authors who write in the same genre. This is why I wanted to share this in a blog post; Curmudgeon Avenue – a bit like 44 Scotland Street. (Dare I say it!)
My series does not have the refined Edinburgh gentleness*, but it does have the Manchester sense of humour and northern warmth – it is a satirical window into first world problems – some of the scenarios are recipes for disaster but I love that house and all who live in her!  It is very different from 44 Scotland Street. Not exactly the same reading experience but essentially a book about the intertwined lives of people who live in and around the same street. ‘On the day this all started the sky was filled with August Apologies for a summer undelivered. 
*And I am not Alexander McCall Smith – he’s a genius obvs. 
Do you have any book inspirations or comparisons? I’d love to know.
Thank you for reading, Samantha xx

On My BBC Radio Lancashire Appearance, With VO Actor Lindsay McKinnon @LindzMcKinnon @GillyLancs

#BBC Radio Lancashire #IARTG

I had an awesome day last Friday (15th November). I was interviewed on the John Gillmore show on BBC Radio Lancashire with voice-over actor Lindsay McKinnon. We were interviewed about my book Curmudgeon Avenue #1: The Terraced House Diaries. Lindsay is currently turning this into an audiobook which will be released early next year – and generally bringing an entirely new dimension to the book, bringing it to life with her fantastic author voice. Lindsay can swap from narrative to dialogue in a variety of voices and accents. She’s extremely talented, I cannot wait to share this audiobook with everyone.

The Curmudgeon Avenue series really lends itself to spoken word. 

This is the BBC Radio Lancashire studio in Blackburn town centre – it’s a lovely building :

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I have never appeared on the radio before, I was a bag of nerves but I had a word with myself ‘YOU ARE MEANT TO BE DOING THIS!’ Lindsay knew what to say and gave a top performance of reading from the first chapter. John Gillmore (local hero) and lovely co-host Nishma Hindocha had prepared some questions, which guided me through. There are a lot of ‘erms’ on my end, but at least I didn’t collapse into nervous giggling!

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Lindsay and me moments before we had to speak into these massive green and yellow microphones.

This whole experience happened because of Lindsay – she contacted John Gillmore and made the interview happen. I’ve been very lucky that she chose my book to narrate.

I had help – I cannot drive on motorways because of MS, Lindsay offered to drive but this would mean coming back on herself and although she didn’t mind, I would’ve felt guilty. So I made Mr Henthorn drive – LoL!  He looked like super proud husband when we came out of the studio – and then made fun of me for saying too many ‘erms’ ! Actually, this audiobook adventure is all down to Mark’s encouragement – I had been shy about putting my book forward for audiobooks, I eventually gave in and it’s all happened at the right time.

During the interview, I was asked about the good reviews Curmudgeon Avenue has been getting. I waffled on, of course, and missed my chance. I should have thanked the reviewers … and asked for more! Yes, I am not too shy to ask Curmudgeon Avenue needs reviews. 

20191115_152901Local hero – John Gillmore.

20191115_152905 Beautiful co-host – Nishma Hindocha hiding behind her computer screen. She wasn’t really hiding, this was so weird for me having a conversation with radio folk – you don’t get to look at them! You just have to chat like everything’s normal! Sigh… that’s showbiz I suppose…

75472861_10162738946995714_88804977195089920_n A lovely snap of us all after the interview.

I left paperback copies of the Curmudgeon Avenue series with John and Nishma – I forgot/didn’t remember to ask if they wanted them signing – this is still weird for me I was brought up not to write in books!

THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF CURMUDGEON AVENUE WILL BE RELEASED EARLY 2020. If you can’t wait, here is the link for the interview on BBC listen again – it will be available until the start of December. (We are 2 hours 20 minutes in).

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07s1dp9

And if you really can’t wait, Curmudgeon Avenue: The Terraced House Diaries is available in E-book and Paperback Here UK Here US

Happy reading/listening everyone! Samantha x