Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Book Blog Tour Stop and Author Guest Post: Five Wakes and a Wedding by Karen Ross

Five Wakes And A Wedding by Karen Ross

Hello Ellesea! Thanks for taking part in the Five Wakes and a Wedding blog tour, and here’s my guest post
Write what you know, they tell you. And one thing I know more than I ever wanted to is about what happens when the roof leaks.
At the time, I was living in a basement flat. So I wasn’t getting rained on, but my upstairs neighbours were, which made the leaking roof my problem as well as theirs. The repairs turned out to be hideously expensive and the experience was stressful, to put it mildly.
But when you’re a novelist, nothing is wasted. And in my new book, Five Wakes and a Wedding, I was able to give my protagonist, funeral director Nina Sherwood, the problem of a dodgy roof.
This was a bit unkind, because Nina already has problems. She’s opened her funeral parlour – Happy Endings – in a well-heeled London suburb where the locals seem to hate her from the moment they discover the new shop on the high street will force them to confront death on a daily basis.
Nina’s starting to feel she’s made a terrible mistake. Until finally someone does come into her shop:
I’m on my fourth cup of coffee, which means I need to run to the loo again, but before I can leave my desk, the door opens and a woman comes in.
She’s five foot nothing, dressed head to toe in a bright orange ensemble of blouse, skirt, tights and clumpy boots. Her outfit clashes magnificently with her thick, shoulder-length hair, dyed in that unfortunate yet ubiquitous shade Gloria and I always refer to as menopause red, topped by a purple fedora that adds several inches to her height.
Good morning,’ she says. ‘I’m Sybille Newman. Your neighbour.’
The shop next door to mine is The Primrose Poppadum – ‘Modern Organic Indian Classics, Free from Dairy, MSG, Wheat & Egg’ according to its sign – and Sybille Newman doesn’t fit my image of a restaurateur. Then again, I’m probably not her idea of an undertaker.
Very pleased to meet you,’ I say cautiously.
So you’re the owner, are you?’ Sybille Newman has a cut-glass accent and she sounds cross.
Yes, I’m Nina Sherwood. Today’s my first day and—’
Never mind that. I’ve come about the roof.’
The roof. My husband and I live above the dreadful Indian restaurant.’ Sybille gestures towards The Primrose Poppadum with a flash of her Guantanamo orange fingernails. ‘Make sure you never go there – I’ve seen them arriving with carrier bags full of stuff from Asda. Organic my foot! We’re trying to get them shut down because of the dreadful smells. My husband has a respiratory disorder and they’re making it so much worse. But that’s not the point. The roof is leaking and we need a new one.’ She looks expectantly at me.
I’m sorry to hear that,’ I say. ‘But I don’t understand why your roof is any of my business.’
It’s a single structure that covers both properties.’ Sybille Newman frowns at me as if I’m being deliberately obtuse. ‘Ned and I have lived here for twenty-three years, and even when the betting shop was downstairs, back in the nineties, there was trouble with the roof.’ She leans on my reception desk and adds, ‘We’ve had it replaced twice, but now there’s water leaking into our living room again every time it rains. We’ve got a good jobbing builder who’s been patching it up, but we shouldn’t have to be doing that at our own expense. Not when it’s supposed to be a shared cost. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the purlin’s rotted. And there’s a ticking noise coming from the rafters that keeps us awake every night. Woodworm probably. Or beetles.’ Sybille smiles slyly. She seems almost pleased at the prospect. ‘So I’ll get some roofers round to supply estimates and let you have copies.’
Okay.’ I presume she wants me to pass them on to my managing agent.
And you need to complain to the council about the restaurant smell. Not that they’ll do anything about it.’
There’s something about the way she says this that makes me think Sybille Newman enjoys being a victim, that she’s the sort of woman who is happy only when she’s got something to complain about. I’ve already got a feeling that no matter how hard I try to be a good neighbour, nothing I do will be ever good enough.
Sybille Newman turns out to be an important character as the story progresses. As for that roof . . . it is destined to cause a great deal of grief before it finally gets fixed. (And as for me, I solved own my roofing issues by way of a change of address!)
Five Wakes and a Wedding has been described as romantic comedy noir, mixing light and shade. From the lovely feedback I’ve received so far, it will definitely make you laugh – and it’s made a few readers cry, although I think they’d forgiven me by the time they got to the end. If you decide to take a look, I’d love to know what you think: karen@karenross.online

Undertaker Nina Sherwood is full of good advice. For example, never wear lip gloss when you’re scattering ashes.
Nina is your average 30-year-old with a steady job, a nice home – and dead bodies in her basement. As an undertaker, she often prefers the company of the dead to the living – they’re obliging, good listeners and take secrets to the grave.

Nina is on a one-woman mission to persuade her peers that passing on is just another part of life. But the residents of Primrose Hill are adamant that a funeral parlour is the last thing they need… and they will stop at nothing to close down her dearly beloved shop.

When Nina’s ‘big break’ funeral turns out to be a prank, it seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin for her new business. That is, until a (tall, dark and) mysterious investor shows up out of the blue, and she decides to take a leap of faith.

Because, after all, it’s her funeral…
The perfect antidote to all those books about weddings, this book will make you laugh until you cry, perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley’s BridesmaidsFour Weddings and a Funeral and The Good Place.

Amazon UK           Amazon US 

As a former journalist, broadcaster and advertising copywriter, Karen Ross has followed a fairly traditional path into writing fiction. Five Wakes and a Wedding is her fourth book, and like its predecessors, the novel has two common threads: the setting is London’s Primrose Hill – Karen’s own neighbourhood – and one of the characters is a dog . . . this time he’s called Chopper and he’s almost the same size as a Shetland Pony
Karen has been self-employed for many years, and continues to work as a marketing consultant, in the absence of an offer to manage Tottenham Hotspur. By way of credentials, her other ‘job’ is trading profitably on the world’s first football stockmarket, a platform called Football Index, where you buy and sell players with real money.

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