Genre: Romance (with a hint of the paranormal)
Date of Publication: 20th January 2015
ISBN: ISBN-13 978-1-60659-849-8
Number of pages: 332
Word Count: 90,000
Cover Artist: Niki Browning
In the madcap, chaotic days when Communism crumbled in the USSR, Tonia meets and falls in love with Englishman, Peter Monroe. Despite the protests of her family and the more strenuous
objections of the KGB Tonia agrees to marry Peter only for him to mysteriously disappear.
Twenty years later a life-toughened Toni must revisit these bitter-sweet memories when she finds herself and her daughters endangered by the consequences of that love affair.
In her despair Toni comes to realise that true love really does conquer all … even death.
Present Day: Dorset, England
Excitement being a kindred spirit to fear, Toni was undecided as to whether it was a trickle of fear she felt shivering down her spine or a trickle of excitement.
As she sat staring at the screen of her laptop, the darkness shrouding the room seemed to draw in on her: her head swam, her palms became clammy. Tears welled up in her eyes. She blinked them away, hoping that by doing so the message on her screen would disappear. It didn’t.
Peter Monroe wants to be friends on Facebook
Hesitantly she maneuvered the cursor over the ‘connect’ button and pressed ‘enter.’ The screen mutated to show the Facebook page for ‘Peter Monroe.’ It was Peter! She recognized the profile photograph instantly. She’d taken it. She remembered posing him in front of the bandstand in Gorki Park on that spring day back in 1990, remembered laughing at the stupid faces he pulled, remembered the way his long chestnut hair flopped over his forehead, remembered…
How could she forget? He had been her one true love.
Love. A word made empty by misuse…by overuse. She wondered how many had ever endured the touch of real love, that soul-eviscerating sensation that comes when you know you have found your soul-mate. Very few, she decided. Perhaps this was all for the good: true love brought anguish in equal measure to joy. As the last twenty years had taught her, finding true love was a bitter-sweet blessing. Her fingers trembled as she typed.
Is it really you, Peter?
The reply was instantaneous.
Yes…I’ve missed you, Tonia.
She couldn’t stop herself: the tears flowed down her cheeks.
She paused, terrified that what she would type next might cause this marvelous mirage to vanish.
But I thought you were dead.
The seconds ticked by, then:
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’ve always wanted to write. I started out making up fairy tales when I was a little girl growing up in Moscow, Russia and reading them to my classmates. But it was only when I moved to England that I realized it was possible to write a book and to have it published. That sort of thing was unimaginable in the USSR. My other dream as a kid was to be a classical pianist but although I had the talent I didn’t have the blat (that’s Russian for ‘connections’) to get in one of the best conservatoires so I opted to study English and Linguistics … just like my lead character in “Ghost Love” did. Now there’s a coincidence!
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
When I first held the paperback copy of ‘Ghost Love’ in my hands. That’s when a writer knows they can drop the adjective ‘wannabe’ from their job description.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
I sent “Ghost Love” to Phaze Books after about a year of it sitting quietly on my computer silently nagging me to ‘do something’. Phaze came back three months later to say they were interested (Phaze is a very serious and well-organized company: I have nothing but praise for them). After that it took about six months for it to go through the various edits (and for me to stop tinkering) and for the cover to be finalized. It came out in January this year.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
My current day job is PA to the directors of a ballet school in London (which one day will be immortalized in another of my stories)! I also create Murano glass beads and jewelry and write about them (you can check out my book “Glass Bead Jewelry Projects” and my work on Etsy). False modesty aside, I’m pretty good (I’ve won awards) but jewelry making is a seriously time consuming activity so it’s had to take a backseat to writing. I also sing jazz (you can check me out on youtube): I recorded a critically acclaimed album “Jazz Noir” back in 2003. On top of that I’m a wife and mother, so I keep very busy!
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
“Ghost Love” has two, intertwined stories of the romantic tribulations of Tonia, set against the backdrop of a disintegrating USSR and in England twenty years later, Tonia coming to realize that true love really does conquer all … even death. Oops, that’s more than 20 words.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
“Ghost Love” has been published by Phaze Books.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Six months. I do a lot of research, even when, as in the case of “Ghost Love”, I’m drawing heavily on personal experiences. I write about 4,000 – 5,000 words a week, then I re-read them, realize they’re rubbish and re-write. Finally I have something presentable which goes to my beta-reader, then I edit again, give a big despairing sigh and send it off to the publishers.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I’ve got another story of contemporary romance (again the intertwined story of a Russian girl) with the working title “Hotel Rus”. But I’m also doing the background research for a Regency era romantic thriller – I’ve got a really cracking idea for the story and I’m busy planning it all out. But a word of warning to any would be Jane Austens out there: the research needed to get it right is simply mind-blowing …
What genre would you place your books into?
Romantic thriller with a flavoring of the supernatural.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I like action and a good love story – who doesn’t? The supernatural aspect is present because I’m a woman, and I think almost every woman believes in miracles … that Cinderella outcome.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
Georgie. She’s a tough, no-nonsense, fast-living and utterly disreputable girl. She’s almost everything that I am not, but (say it sotto voce) would like to be (apart from the drunk bit!). She has guts and then some. I might give her a reprise if there’s ever a sequel to ‘Ghost Love’.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
“Ghost Love” is my first novel; I was inspired by my husband Rod Rees, who is a writer of SF thrillers (“The Demi-Monde” series, “Invent-10n”) and who has been extremely supportive and encouraging. Best piece of advice? When I showed him the drafts of the first few pages of “Ghost Love”, he read them, nodded and said ‘This is good stuff. Keep going.’ So I did.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I write on the train which takes me to and from London every day. I edit at home and this is when I put the music on: jazz music features heavily in "Ghost Love”, so I occasionally have to dig out my CD “Jazz Noir” and listen to it again, remembering what I thought when I was recording the album, doing gigs, and facing an audience.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes, I do – it is important for me to know what people think of my creations.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
“Ghost Love” was in my head for a long time sort of gestating, so I had the title before I started writing it all down. The same happened to “Hotel Rus”, so I guess the title comes before the book is written.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Some characters were named from the very start: Tonia’s teacher was always Zoya Mikhailovna, Peter was always Peter, as was Paul – you might notice a hidden meaning here, but that’s a secret waiting to be revealed.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
The important aspect of “Ghost Love” is the contrasting of Tonia as a young Russian girl facing the uncertainties of the Second Russian Revolution when Communism collapsed and the Tonia of twenty years later living and working in England. The first Tonia is shy and unsure of herself, in the “other” story she is life-hardened and decisive. From the very start it was clear to me how and in which way she would develop.
Your favorite color is?
Your favorite Author is?
My husband, Rod Rees. He’s been my inspiration - and occasionally my tormentor when my keyboard enthusiasm waned.
Prize 1: "Pink Flowers" Necklace from Nelli’s "Jewelry for All Seasons" collection (handmade lampwork beads, sterling silver findings, crystals and hand dyed silk ribbon);
Prize 2: "Malachite Mystery" Pendant and earrings (handmade lampwork beads, sterling silver findings and chain, crystals);
Prize 3: "Tiger! Tiger!" Earrings (handmade lampwork beads, sterling silver findings, crystals);
Prizes 4-7: Bookmarks with glass bead ornamentation (handmade lampwork beads, crystals, steel dividers);
Prize 8: Signed paperback copy of 'Ghost Love';
Prize 9: Signed copy of Nelli’s book 'Glass Bead Jewelry Projects';
Prize 10 - 14: Signed promo copies of Nelli’s album 'Jazz Noir'.
Nelli Rees, born in Moscow, trained as a linguist and a musician. With her future husband Englishman Rod she worked and travelled around Russia, finally coming to live in England in 1998. Nelli has had several successful careers: recording a critically acclaimed nu-jazz album “Jazz Noir”, becoming an award-winning jewellery maker, writing a book “Glass Bead Jewelry Projects”, and doing all this whilst being a mother and a wife. “Ghost Love” is Nelli’s first novel and draws heavily on her own experiences as a young woman in Soviet Russia and the obstacles she and her husband-to-be faced during those difficult times.
Video of Nelli performing "Falling In Love Again":