Thursday, 21 April 2016

Author Interview - Poison in the Water

Take a look at my author interview about my new novel – Poison in the Water


Tell us in a couple of lines what the book is about.

Fashion designer Celeste Renshaw is living her dream amidst Hong Kong’s glitterati. But the sparkle on her glamorous lifestyle soon begins to fade when she stumbles on a dark secret her husband has been keeping.  

An exotic location. Tell us a little more.

There are a couple of key locations in the book. The protagonist Celeste takes a career break to travel and in Thailand where she meets Mr Charismatic – Alex Renshaw.  An unfortunate event pushes them together and they travel on from Koh Phi Phi to Krabi. The story takes you on a journey through the islands encountering the smells, sounds and the tastes of the East. Thailand remains a special place for the couple and they venture back there when their marriage is on the rocks.

Then there is London, which is home and where Cross is based (the name of the fashion house where the protagonist is a designer). The reader is introduced to luxe living and private members clubs and is given a glimpse into what life is like behind those closed doors.

In Hong Kong, where Celeste and Alex eventually settle, you have the atmosphere of street life - hawkers selling century eggs and glazed ducks hanging in windows. Hong Kong is such a busy place, full of culture and the hustle and bustle of street life at every corner. But  Hong Kong has another side as well - a commercial side  which can be quite anonymous. You have these towering skyscrapers and malls with exquisite dining options in each one.  Once you are inside one of these malls you really could be anywhere in the world.

You are a keen traveller. Are any of your travel experiences reflected in the book?

I backpacked around Thailand so I experienced some of what Celeste experiences. There is a scene in the book where Celeste is on a boat (very similar to the one I went on) and a little barefoot boy throws rice into the brilliant turquoise waters near Kho Phi Phi and hundreds of silver fish come to the surface to eat. That memory is so vivid in my mind from my time travelling that I just had to include it. There are a few snippets like that in Poison.

I have also spent time in Hong Kong – as a child we went there as a family on holiday, then again when I was backpacking and I have been there on business as well. My sister had an apartment there too. A few years ago I went over to help her furnish the three floor property and spent a good month in Hong Kong. Looking at fabric swatches during the day and eating at luxe restaurants at night. Each time I visited Hong Kong I experienced a different side to it.   It was just the perfect place to set a novel.

What inspired you to write Poison in the Water?

The lives of the rich can be something of an enigma to us. We are intrigued by socialites and we have certain perceptions of them. Whilst many are pretty ordinary, some are not. You just have to turn the TV on these days and you can see ‘The Real Housewives of….’ Or Millionaire’s Mansions. Programmes that revolve around a lifestyle with money.

I have been lucky enough to get a glimpse into this lifestyle and see what it is really like. The apartment my sister had in Hong Kong was luxury itself, set over three floors. It provided amazing inspiration for a place to set this book. I could just see Celeste and Alex living in an apartment like that with the money to match that lifestyle. I have had the privilege of going to private members clubs in London and going to expensive restaurants. It was this champagne lifestyle that inspired me to write the book. Because the adage of ‘All that glitters is not gold,’ is quite true and I wanted to explore this theme.

So the book revolves around a champagne lifestyle. What other themes are prevalent in Poison in the Water?

Love, of course. It is a romantic suspense and tells a love story. Celeste meets the man of her dreams, but things are not all as they first appear.  Friendships are a big theme in the book as well. Some are tested and some are broken. The protagonist has some close friendships, a man she adores and a meddling busy body assistant. They all help and hinder her to some extent. Knowing who to trust is a big issue for Celeste, especially when she has been let down so badly. But the protagonist is not perfect herself. She has made some mistakes too and finds it difficult to swallow her pride. Saying she is sorry to the right people is important.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Celeste, the protagonist. It has to be. She is a career woman with steely determination and when we meet her she has such a passion for life. I love that about her. She lives for the moment – whereas I am constantly thinking about the future. She reminds me to be more present in the present!  Celeste gets swept up into a world that is all diamonds and Dior, but the sparkle soon begins to fade and she faces some difficulties that no woman should ever have to face. She has some strong people around her, but she has to find an inner strength to truly move on. I suppose, on some level, I admire her and what she goes through in order to get out the other side.

What next?
I am working on the second book in the Chupplejeep mysteries. It’s called The Body in the Bath and is a light-hearted detective story set in rural Goa. I am also working on a thriller called Splinter.

Poison in the Water is on pre-order now and on general release from the 26th May. Marissa de Luna is an author with a passion for travel and adventure. Poison in the Water is her fourth novel. For more information see




Friday, 8 April 2016

A new book and a view on reviews!

It has been a while since I last blogged but I have been busy. Busy critiquing books by other fabulous writers in my writers group and promoting Under the Coconut Tree – which I might add has suddenly started selling well. You see, these things take time so 8 months after release it has taken off. I am hoping more reviews will follow and sales will increase. I had priced it at 99p with a view to increasing the price to £1.44 (the magic price that shot GT to no.1 bestseller on Amazon) on the 1st April – but the 1st came and went and I didn’t change the price. I have decided to change it mid-month. I don’t know why I guess I was on a high from the number of sales I made last month and didn’t want to jeaopardise it.


I have also finalised my front cover for Poison in the Water. Ta da!

What do you think. So Vain Books (my publishers) have been fantastic with everything and I am super excited. The first attempt at the front cover wasn’t great so we switched designers and got the above, I think it captures the mood perfectly and the blurb etc is upon my website now. You can also pre-order a copy (go on you know you want to) on Amazon now. For the bargain and a half price of 99p! Just click through to Amazon here!


My final comment today is about Amazon reviews. A fellow author reposted a blog post from an author and book blogger who has had two years of reviews removed because they think she is manipulating ratings. Although I find this hard to accept – you can’t possibly know all those authors– I also rely on Amazon for my self-pubbed book sales (I have tried smashwords, Kobo and Nook with limited success). So can I really criticise the giant that gave me the ability to get my work out there? I can’t bite the hand that feeds me. So although I agreed with the blogger I found it difficult to like or share the post for the reasons above. I do think that all reviews manipulate the ratings though – isn’t that what they are there for – I mean if you think about this in practical terms I could read a book in a genre I didn’t like and give it a terrible review because quite frankly I don’t like horror books. It could be no reflection on the author or his style, but I may not see that for all the blood and gore. I may criticise the authors writing, just because I hate the actual content (to no fault of the author). You can’t police people writing reviews and the more we advance technologically it will get harder to police. You end up affecting the small time authors (with fewer reviews) and not the big ones.


Also does it matter if you know the author and write a good review? Okay so it is biased, but believe me as an author it’s so hard getting people to review your book – believe me people you know are not going to be able to manipulate ratings.


As for the popularity of reviews, personally I think it’s a downward trend (I think I have blogged about this before). Why? Because these days everyone has an opinion which they want to share. And basically there are too many of us with opinions. Our opinions are determined often by our preconceived perceptions, our upbringing, maybe at our current moon. That 5* hotel you booked may have been faultless, but whilst there if your other half asked you for a divorce you may think differently. I used to trust Trip Advisor 100% about 10 years ago. Now, I don’t. I still love the site and use it… but I don’t really look at the rating… I look at the content of the review and whether a hotel is walkable to restaurants etc. (everyone has different expectations and I think Trip Advisor is the one site where you can really see when someone’s expectations (or their perceptions) don’t meet reality.

Sky Movies and Netflix ratings are another rating system that doesn’t work. Pick a movie my sister said, the other day, ignore the ratings they are not accurate.


It is only time before books go that way. Most readers I know never look at reviews – just the rating – for now, but soon that too will become a thing of the past – we rely on recommendations, word of mouth if someone tells me a book is worth reading I won’t even look at the star rating I just buy it.


Anyway rant over.