Interview with Monica Nash: Narrator of The Serendipity Game Audiobook:

I'm delighted that the audiobook edition of The Serendipity Game is now available to listen to and enjoy!

The Serendipity Game is a romantic comedy and here's the blurb: 
When Casey meets Jake sparks fly. But Casey has no idea that Jake’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Elena, is using her to extract more than the pre-nuptial agreement from Jake. While Jake and Casey spend time together, Elena changes her mind about the divorce and plans to eliminate her competition. A drama-packed, entertaining romcom that will have you rooting for the feisty Casey and praying for her HEA.

The audiobook is available at Audible:
Also from iBooks at the Apple Store 

Monica Nash is the brilliant actor who narrated and produced The Serendipity Game audiobook. She is a graduate of the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Monica is a pleasure to work with and I cannot believe I had the good luck to have one of my books narrated by her. Thank you, Monica! 

Interview with Monica Nash

1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I was born in Reading and grew up in Berkshire where my parents taught at a boarding school. I come from a large family and was very fond of climbing trees, cycling and playing endless games with my sister and our large collection of dolls. For the most part I enjoyed school, particularly English, Art and History.

2. Did you always want to be an actress and what drew you to the performing arts as a career?

 I was always in school plays and loved performing in general as a child, but for years my great passion was ballet. I loved the music and the costumes, but most of all I loved the storytelling. It was as a teenager that acting took over as my primary interest. I knew then that I wanted to act professionally, and never seriously considered any other career.

3. When did you first perform and where did you train?

As an undergraduate studying English at the University of Bristol, I was heavily involved in the drama and music scenes. Later, I went to Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, where I studied for two years. My first professional acting jobs were in 2014.

4. Who are your influences? 

I have drawn inspiration from many people over the years, from family members to school teachers. My greatest professional influences have been certain members of staff at drama school, and, more generally, actors ranging from Samantha Morton to Emma Thompson to Joyce Grenfell. I am influenced by any great piece of theatre that I see.

5. What do you do to prepare?

It depends on the project but generally speaking I jump straight in with the script, and do any research that needs to be done as I go along.

6. What are your strengths as an actor and how do they contribute to the style that makes you unique?

I have always been confident with language, and my English degree has been an enormous help to me. I am good at spotting the rhythm of a line and knowing how to deliver it effectively. This is useful in both comedic and serious roles, and I always try to be a performer who can pass seamlessly between comedy and drama at the drop of a hat.

7. What fears/anxieties do you have about your work?

Actors always worry that they are not getting enough auditions, and I am no exception! In this line of work, financial stability is never guaranteed, so that is sometimes a concern. I am also worried about the way this industry has historically treated women, although I do think that it is improving.

8. What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor and what impact did that success have on you?

My greatest achievement is that I am still working and making my living in this industry six years in! Probably my greatest specific achievement was successfully learning to walk on stilts, from scratch, in only six days, for a theatre role. It definitely made me more confident about learning new skills and gave me more faith in myself that I could rise to a challenge.

9. How does recording an audiobook stretch you as an actor and what was the biggest challenge you faced in recording The Serendipity Game?

Recording audiobooks is unlike any other form of performing since you do it alone without fellow cast members to inspire you and buoy you up. ‘The Serendipity Game’ in particular has a large cast of characters. Flitting seamlessly from one voice to another was probably the greatest challenge.

10. What did you like about Casey in The Serendipity Game?

Casey has had a difficult childhood and has come out of it as a very independent and spirited woman. She is loyal to her friends and stands up for herself. These were all great aspects to bring to her character.

11. If you had the chance to perform any role in any play or film, who would you choose and why?

There are far too many to choose from, but it’s probably a toss up between Eliza Doolittle in ‘My Fair Lady’ and Cruella de Vil in ‘101 Dalmatians’. Eliza is a richly comic part but also a nuanced character who goes on an incredible character journey, of a kind which is hugely rewarding to play. Cruella is a straightforward, larger than life, insane, bloodthirsty villain (with fantastic costumes) – who doesn’t love playing one of those?

12. Who do you look up to?

I love the work of directors like Josie Rourke, Emma Rice and Vicky Featherstone. The actor I most look up to, in terms of her range, emotional clarity and career choices, is Lesley Manville.

13. What is your next project?

I am working on another audiobook called ‘Hello’, a psychological thriller, and I am in rehearsals for an outdoor concert performance of Sondheim’s musical ‘Into the Woods’, playing Cinderella.

14. Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

Still acting! Hopefully with a rich and varied CV, having made many more wonderful friends.

15. What do you do when you’re not performing or recording audiobooks?

I have done various other non-acting jobs over the years. At the moment I am doing some online tutoring, as well as writing and performing some comedy pieces for a podcast. Outside of work, I sing with a chamber choir called Vivamus, spend time with my family and friends, drink copious amounts of tea, and see as much great theatre as I can.

16. What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?

Probably a longish walk ending up at the pub followed by watching a movie on the sofa with friends.

If you want to find out more about Monica you can contact her via her website:

If You Think It, You Can Write It!: The Hook

When I decided at the beginning of the year to share what I've learned about writing and publishing a first novel, I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep to the schedule I gave myself. But I have and I'm really pleased to poston time, which surprises me even morea chapter that can be one of the most challenging, apart from your characters, plot and setting that is. This being the case, I invite you to read on...

Chapter 7: The Hook

The start of a story where you introduce the protagonist and the setting, referred to as the exposition, is the door you open for readers to step through and sample what kind of world you’re taking them to. You have a few minutes to tempt them if you don’t want them to leave and move on to the next author. The hook is a challenging event, an appealing description, a compelling character, something that grabs the reader’s interest, inviting them to continue. As the first act can take up to 15 to 25 percent of your narrative, you will also have space to provide some relevant background information and key events from their past.

When a reader begins a book, she/he puts aside their normal understanding of the world—known as suspension of belief—and you want them to know where they are without delay, so the initial sentences should plant clear clues for the reader to orient themselves in the world they’ve entered. You present the protagonist, showing the audience a glimpse of who they are and a problem they encounter in their day-to-day existence.

Eight-year old Jimmy kicked his heels against the wall behind him and chewed his lip as he took in the chaos erupting around him. The first recess in a new school was never fun.
The first sentence tells us Jimmy is nervous. The second lets us know this isn’t the first time he’s been in this situation and his expectations are low.

The train picks up speed as it leaves Stuttgart. He grew up here, amid long shady streets footed in ancient cobblestones and gardens bright-spotted with afternoon light, but it is no longer the place Anton knew when he was young. (1)
The location and mood—reflective and melancholy—is clear as the character remembers the past and compares it to the present. The chapter heading, Fatherland, September 1942, lets us know this is Nazi Germany.

My working relationship with Lucifer began on a rainy Monday. I’d just settled down to a long afternoon of watching the holovid soaps and doing a little divination, spreading the cards and runes out on the hank of blue silk I’d laid out, when there was a bashing on my door that shook the walls
. (2)
Here the speaker is at home, relaxing when an ominous (door bashing and walls shaking) visitor arrives. Although a bright sunshiny day might have given a greater contrast to the action taking place, the choice of ‘rainy’ (gray, overcast) foreshadows the trouble that’s arrived on the doorstep.

All three indicate mood and describe the setting, and we are well equipped to venture farther into this new dimension as we know who, where and when.

In Medias Res

Another method of pulling people in is to start in medias res, (from the Latin) which literally means ‘into the middle of things’. This term comes from the Roman writer Horace who, when defining the perfect poet in Poetic Arts, stated: Nor does he begin the Trojan War from the egg, but always he hurries to the action, and snatches the listener into the middle of things.

In medias res sidesteps exposition which is later given in another way, generally through straightforward accounts of the past or flashbacks or dialogue. With in medias res you open with a bang but slow down afterward to fill in the blanks. Instead of 1, 2, 3 you do 3, 1, 2 or 3, 2, 1—whatever works in your particular tale. Movies often open with an action scene as film directors aim to grab the audience’s notice straightaway.

None of the heat and bright luster of the mid-afternoon sun bathing the city of Tropolis reached Lower Level Park Four of the multi-storied downtown parking lot. The erratic flickering of the fluorescent light bulbs created uneasy shadows, and the air was rank with the stink of old seaweed, rotten cabbage and sewage stirred into the mix. It was a stench that slunk along the ground like a dense November fog off the river—the stench of goblin.
       As the elevator door slid shut behind them, JB turned first to Nikki, indicating she should go to the right and block the exit ramp. He signed he would head in a diagonal line toward their quarry before sending Gemma straight ahead. They padded off with guns raised, making little noise as they eased closer to their objective. A dark indistinct shape blurred across the back wall.
This is the opening scene of Sorcerous Deeds, the second in my Adept Solutions series of urban fantasy novellas about a private detective agency. Here JB and his team are tackling a bounty hunting job.

They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time. No need to hurry out here. They are seventeen miles from a town which has ninety miles between it and any other. Hiding places will be plentiful in the Convent, but there is time and the day has just begun.
Although we haven’t yet met the ‘they’ in question, the introductory sentence grabs attention, making it impossible not to read on further to find out what occurs next. This is the opening paragraph of Toni Morrison’s Paradise and a masterclass example of in medias res.

‘It’s official,’ Harley said. ‘They killed the Berliner two nights ago. You’re the last.’ Thereafter a pause: ‘I’m sorry.’
     Yesterday evening this was. We were in the upstairs library of his Earl’s Court house, him standing at a tense tilt between stone hearth and oxblood couch, me in the window seat with a tumbler of forty-five-year-old Macallan and Camel Filter, staring out at dark London’s fast-falling snow. The room smelled of tangerines and leather and the fire’s pine logs. Forty-eight hours on I was still sluggish from the Curse. Wolf drains from the wrists and shoulders last. In spite of what I’d just heard I thought: Madeline can give me a massage later, warm jasmine oil and the long-nailed magnolia hands I don’t love and never will. 
     “What are you going to do?” Harley said. (4)
This opening is from Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf where we learn of Jacob Marlowe’s dramatic situation at the same time he does. We’re also made aware of his world-weary character as despite this shocking news his thoughts turn to easing the aftereffects of his recent werewolf shift rather than how to combat his upcoming demise.

Learning point: Chekhov’s Gun
Chekhov’s gun refers to an example the writer Anton Chekhov gave where there is a gun on the mantelpiece. However, if no one ever uses this gun, it misleads the reader into giving it importance it doesn’t possess, and a sense of confusion when it’s never used. Everything you include should relate to the story you are telling.
For example, don’t let little Jimmy go up to Mabel and ask can he join in her game if, later on, she has no relevant role to play. Readers become invested in what happens to your character(s). Chekhov's message is, don’t lead people down dead-ends.

Whichever way you choose, if you’ve done your work, your audience is connecting with your character, you’ve drawn them into the world you’ve created and they will continue to follow your hero’s journey.

Exercise 1: Think about how you can improve your opening sentences. Whether you start with exposition or in medias res, write an alternative opening to the method you already used.
Exercise 2: Look at the book you’re currently reading and analyze what choice the author made. If you have an ereader, go through half a dozen books or so doing the same. Think about your reaction to what you read, what you like, what impresses you and and what you can learn. has a good list of books starting in media res. You can check out any that interest you by going to Amazon and using the ‘Look inside’ feature.

Stay well, stay safe and keep writing—no matter what!
Best wishes,


(1) The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawkins, 2018, Lake Union Publishing, Seattle.
(2) Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow, 2005, Hachette Digital, London.
(3) Paradise by Toni Morrison, 1997, Vintage Books, New York.
(4) The Last Werewolf by Duncan Glen, 2011, Cannongate Books, Edinburgh.

Photo: Eric Ding on Unsplash.

Title & Cover Reveal (plus a sneak peek!)

 I Know It Was You Wow! I’m thrilled to reveal the title and cover of my new book. The publication date, October 10th, is fast approaching, ...