No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
Isabella Connor is the pen name for Liv Thomas and Val Olteanu.
Liv Thomas was born and raised in the South of England. A wife and mum, Liv works for the NHS, and is employed at the hospital which first featured in Channel 4's One Born Every Minute. Liv has travelled extensively, and as far afield as the United States and the Caribbean, without setting foot on an aeroplane as she has a fear of flying.
Valerie Olteanu grew up in Scotland, and her childhood ambitions were to travel and to be a writer. After studying English and Art History at the University of Glasgow, she moved to London where she worked in the Literature Department of the Arts Council England. Some years later, she decided to teach English and see the world. She lived and worked in Croatia, the West Bank and Mexico, before settling with her husband in Canada. She is currently an adult educator in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Below is a Q&A with the authors.
How would you describe your novel?
Liv – in Beneath an Irish Sky, a young Irish Traveller arrives in an affluent English village intent on seeking revenge and justice. Lives are changed and families fractured as secrets and lies from the past come to light.
What gave you the inspiration for the story?
Liv - some years ago, Debbie Horsfield wrote a fantastic series for the BBC called Sex Chips & Rock ‘n Roll, which featured a young Irishman who had experienced discrimination because of his nationality – Beneath an Irish Sky grew out of actor Joe McFadden’s performance in that series, and the character of Luke was born.
Where and how do you write?
Liv - at home, on a laptop in my living room. I don’t have an office or study. Originally, I had to use pen and notebook then copy into a document – for some reason, my brain didn’t work when in front of the PC, but I think I’ve got lazy where physical writing is concerned, and now find it much easier to just go straight to Word. Ideally I’d have peace, quiet and solitude. Ideally I’d also win the lottery. I know which is most likely…and it’s not the former.
Val – I wrote most of Beneath an Irish Sky while sitting on the patio of my local Starbucks because the apartment I was living in then was so small and cramped. Shades of J. K. Rowling and her Edinburgh café! Now I’ve moved to a house and I’m spoiled for choice: either the picnic table in the back garden in good weather, or the coffee table on the terrace when it’s raining. For me, fresh air and birdsong are very conducive for writing. That means I usually write longhand and transcribe – that in itself is a kind of useful editing process.
Who do you base your characters on?
Liv – we usually have visuals, invariably some actor who will be in the movie version. ;) I’m something of a people watcher, whether on TV (Jeremy Kyle!) or in daily life. I haven’t yet met anyone who I can honestly say would make a good book character, so the characters for me are based on my own perception of what a hero/villain etc. should be like.
Val – the characters I write are a mixture of a thousand fragments of people I know, have met, have heard about, have encountered in fiction or seen on TV. If anyone close to me thinks I’ve put them lock, stock and barrel into the novel, they’re wrong. They’d likely not even recognize the small fragment of them that I did use – thankfully!
What three things would you take if you were to be stranded on a desert island?
Liv – a boat? An electric generator? My Kindle wouldn’t be much use without one. Or if those aren’t allowed, then a stationery set which would compromise of a good supply of pens and paper; a photo of my family; a copy of Beneath an Irish Sky – if I never get off this island, it would be a lasting memory of the achievement of getting published.
Val – 1) a crate of notebooks and pens so I could keep writing; 2) a huge compendium of all my favourite poems – I’d learn them off by heart and recite them – that would keep me busy and at least I’d hear a voice, even if it was only my own; 3) a box of all kinds of useful tools like flints and fish hooks and awls – and thanks to a former camping-mad boyfriend, I’d know just what to do with them, too.
A promise is a promise - Art historian, Rachel Ford has returned to the Irish village of Kilbrook intent on keeping her promise to take revenge on the school bullies who ruined her childhood and destroyed her family. Australian actor Finn MacKenzie sets hearts fluttering when he turns up in sleepy Kilbrook to help his aunt with a school production. He seems to have a charmed life, yet his confident facade hides heartbreak and tragedy. Although Finn isn't looking for love, when he meets the mysterious Rachel, there's a definite spark between them. Rachel is torn between her desire for revenge and this new love affair. She doesn't want to deceive Finn, but can she trust him to keep her real identity a secret? And will he understand why she must keep her promise, no matter the cost?
Written with wit and a dash of Irish charm, this is a touching and easy to read debut about a family not approving of the son’s marriage to an Irish Traveller and how they destroy it. Following a tragic road accident Luke Kiernan’s world is turned upside down as long buried secrets are exposed. But with the tragedy come the chance of a love and a fresh start... Choc Lit, the publisher of this novel, was the 2012 Publisher of the Year as voted for by the Festival of Romance.