Today I’m delighted to welcome author Carol Wyer. Carol has both a light and a dark side as she alternates writing romantic comedies with gripping crime thrillers. Her earlier non fiction books also offer some timely, light-hearted, advice for what we older ladies can do with ‘grumpy’ partners. I must investigate those!
Carol Wyer, who also writes as Carol E. Wyer, is an award-winning author and stand-up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping thrillers.
Her book, GRUMPY OLD MENOPAUSE won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction 2015.
Carol moved to the ‘dark side’ in 2017 with the DI Robyn Carter series, starting with best-seller LITTLE GIRL LOST. The Robyn Carter series has sold over 350,000 copies and foreign rights have been sold into 9 countries, earning her acclaim as a crime writer.
2019 sees the release of three more DI Natalie Ward books and two new romantic comedies, the first, the much anticipated WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE.
Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.
So over to Carol
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Mr Blue Sky by ELO. I absolutely love this song. As soon as I hear those first few notes I think happy thoughts and whenever I’m invited onto a radio show and asked if I want a request, I chose this. It’s uplifting and always makes me want to dance and sing… although it’s probably best if I don’t do the latter. I sound like a muffled donkey.
One Shining Moment by Diana Ross. I’m married to the aptly named Mr Grumpy who not only complains most of every single day but can in no way be considered romantic… well, that was until one evening when we were washing up together and this track came on the radio. He asked me to turn it up and then as he rinsed off a dish said… ‘I like this song. It always reminds me of you. You’re my shining moment.’ I almost dropped the plate I was drying but since that day, the song has meant a great deal to me and whenever it is played I smile as he sings along to it. Who said romance is dead?
Andante, Andante by ABBA. In truth I could have chosen a few ABBA tracks as so many are really brilliant, but this lesser known one is probably my favourite because it is incredibly beautiful and relaxing. I suffer badly from insomnia and for a while I also suffered from panic attacks during the night that would wake me and set my heart racing as if it were about to leap from my chest. A full-blown panic attack can make you believe you are having a heart attack and is very frightening. I used to hum this song which reminds me of a gentle lullaby, and by the time I’d reached the end of it, I would be calmer. It has helped me through many a dark night. Nowadays, if I can’t sleep, I hum it to myself. I don’t always fall asleep but at least I lie awake peacefully.
The Sailor’s Hornpipe by Mike Oldfield. In my hedonistic days as a student I went to a great number of concerts but Mike Oldfield’s were always the most memorable and I watched him perform five times. This track performed during his Tubular Bells tour reminds me of a concert in Stafford. The audience was a mix of old and young but all absolutely glued to the performance. The concert was, as usual, electrifying and the atmosphere wonderful. When Mike Oldfield played the first few notes of this song there was a wild cheer from the audience – a mixture of old and young – and suddenly everyone leapt to their feet as one, linked arms with their neighbours and began dancing to it. We danced up and down the aisle, grinning at total strangers and for time the band played it was a surreal, harmonious experience. The memory is still with me, along with that same sense of well-being I felt that night and whenever I hear it now it requires all my willpower not to suddenly link arms with whomever is closest to me and twirl about the floor.
Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) by Peter Sarstedt. It’s no secret that I’m a Francophile and have spent a lot of my life in France. I could have chosen any number of songs by French artists as I own a vast number of CDs performed by a variety of French artists, but I’ve opted for this 1969 release from a British singer-songwriter which conjures up the jet set lifestyle of the era. There’s something so ‘French’ about it. It begins with accordion music and is packed full of references to famous Parisian places and people. It conjures up glamorous images of France – St Moritz, Juan-les-Pin – places I have since visited and I can’t hear it without thinking of some of the hotspots in France such as St Tropez, Cannes, Nice and the principality of Monaco where we felt like members of the jet-set for the duration of our stay. (Although we didn’t wear designer necklaces and outfits and as I recall, my ice cream cone was really expensive!)
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Benefit Foolproof Brow makeup. I have always had very pale eyebrows but about five years ago, I woke up to find they’d disappeared altogether. All the hairs had completely fallen out and I resembled an alien. Since then, I have relied on this marvellous makeup to pencil on eyebrows every day. It’s painstaking and some days I draw one eyebrow arched higher than the other and spend the day looking quizzical, but I couldn’t be without it!
My massage balls I’ve undergone major spinal surgery on a few occasions and having a condition that means my spine is gradually decaying. To help combat the deterioration and strengthen my muscles, I have to do daily intensive stretching and exercise. That, combined with hours of sitting at my laptop, usually means, in spite of my efforts, I still have terrible aches and pains in my shoulders and back. The massage balls are a recent purchase but oh my, I would now not be without them! There’s a knack to manoeuvring them between your sore shoulders or back and the wall, but once you get the hang of it it’s like receiving a sports massage. All the knots and tension are rolled away. The balls are like very hard small tennis balls but in my opinion are mini miracle workers.
Large sized Post-its. I wouldn’t be able to write a book without them. I use them for plots, character notes, reminders, in fact anything to do with whatever I am writing. Before I begin writing a book, I put all the character traits and descriptions on the notes and stick them all over a wall so can refer to them easily. Each character is assigned a colour so they don’t get mixed up. I use them for all sorts of other things too: shopping list, reminders, birthdays, must-do notes and so on. I also keep a pile beside the bed in case I get inspired during the night. If you’ve read my DI Robyn Carter series, you’ll know Robyn commits everything to Post-it notes too… if it’s good enough for my ace detective…
Slow cooker. The slow cooker I’m currently using is the third generation – I wore out my first two – and I really couldn’t live without it. I’m not a great cook or indeed a keen one, but slow cookers are magic! I throw everything into mine in the morning: vegetables, chicken, pulses… whatever I fancy, then add some herbs and water and leave it to cook for the entire day, leaving me free to write and not worry about preparing Mr Grumpy’s dinner. The smell of the cooking is divine. I recently made a delicious curry that was so tasty Mr Grumpy had seconds and thirds which is unheard of. Best cooking device ever.
My jar key. I can’t for the life of me, remove lids from jars. It’s not that I have weak wrists, just that my fingers slide around lids like they’ve been greased with butter. The jar key slips under the lid and releases it with a soft pop so the top can be removed without any effort and I am able to slather marmalade over my morning toast.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Unfortunately, my younger life was so dismal and I was so desperately unhappy for reasons I’d rather not go into, I’ve succeeded in blocking out almost all my childhood memories. I think rather than offer advice to my 10-year-old self, I’d give her a hug and say, ‘Look… this is you in the future… it’s going to be alright.’
To my 13-year-old self I’d say, ‘Wear your damn glasses! I know you get bullied and think you look a prize idiot but if you put them on now, you won’t spend years squinting and frowning at stuff you can’t see properly. And by the time you reach forty you won’t have massive furrows between your eyebrows that can’t be erased by any cream or treatment. Besides, glasses make you look clever – put them on! Now! Do it!’
To my 16-year-old self I would warn against the use of olive oil and lemon juice as a sun tan accelerator. That foolish girl would make it up in a plastic bottle and douse herself in it. It might have given me a beautiful suntan back then but my older self isn’t too keen on the crêpey neck, or the abundance of wrinkles caused by sun damage. Thank goodness I didn’t suffer any more serious consequences.
To my 20-year-old self, reading both English and French Literature at university and unhappy at the volume of books she had to get through each week, I’d say, ‘Enjoy it! This is the one time in your life where you’ll be able to escape from reality and read fantastic works every day and not feel guilty about the time you are spending doing it. You have no other responsibilities to detract you from it. Later in your life, reading will become a luxury and you’ll look back on these days and wish you’d appreciated them more.
To my 23-year-old self, I would suggest bleaching her lengthy brown hair that she can sit on, and having it permed at the same time, is a massive mistake. I know she thought it would look good and it did for three days until her hair started falling out, but she really shouldn’t have done it.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I am related to comedian Ernie Wise which is something I didn’t know until recently and after I took up stand-up comedy.
I was the first person in the country to have metal Harrington rods screwed into my spine. They were used with much success on people with deformed spines but at the time I got mine, it was a relatively new procedure. The rods had to be removed a couple of years later when I fell on the dance floor and one dislodged! Not a pretty sight.
I was once a magician’s assistant. He was performing at a hotel resort where I was staying with my parents. I became a stand in for his sick assistant because I could speak French and could translate for him. I got entangled in his magic hoops by mistake, much to the delight of the audience, and afterwards a television company representative who’d been in the audience, invited us onto a television show but my parents vetoed it!
I can juggle. I taught myself to juggle as a child using the apples in the fruit bowl. My mother couldn’t work out why they were always brown and thought the greengrocer was selling us dodgy fruit but really it was my fault because I kept dropping them. I also taught myself yoyo tricks although I smashed a light trying to do ‘Round the World’.
I learnt to fly a helicopter in the late 90s. It was a training helicopter – a Robinson 22. I went solo after 21 hours and buzzed about like an angry wasp in the circuit. It was one of the most demanding but satisfying things I’ve accomplished.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
I’ve completed the bucket list I wrote in my forties. I figured I had to get it all done in case I wouldn’t be able to physically manage all my tasks when I was older. (See above about my spine condition).
I did a PADI diving licence and dived wrecks in the Bahamas, Egypt and Barbados, I swam with sharks and with turtles and dolphins, rode a quad bike up a mountain in South Africa, did a zip wire, went zorbing, took a 4X4 over a glacier in Iceland, went on a safari and numerous other challenges. Once I got all the adrenaline-surging activities out of my system, I tackled the less demanding challenges: taught myself to draw, tried belly dancing, took up stand-up comedy and wrote my first novel.
There isn’t a lot left on my bucket list but
I would still love to learn to play an instrument. I can’t read music so that might prove a real challenge. I can bang out a tune on a piano without any music but it would lovely to be able to play properly.
I’ve been fortunate to have travelled to many places but top of my ‘go to’ places is Canada where I’d like to travel, meet some of my super online friends who live there, and finish off at Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife. Buffalo Airways fly a fleet of vintage aircraft, including a DC-3 that flew on D-Day and an Electra. The show Ice Pilots was all about them and we were glued to the entire series. Mr Grumpy is a massive aviation fan so obviously I’d take him and do a tour of the hangar there, chat to the pilots and go out in one of their aircraft.
Continuing the travel theme, I’d also like to buy or rent an old classic car and drive through France, Germany or Italy. Mr Grumpy and I have driven a Ferrari in Florence, sports cars around a race circuit and modern cars in many countries but never driven a vintage one. I fancy a sporty model with a drop-top roof so I could sit in sunglasses and draped in a headscarf like a 1950s glamorous film star although I’ll probably look more like Nora Batty from Last of the Summer Wine.
Goodness Carol, if only your younger self knew you’d achieve all these things, it might have made life more bearable for you. As it is, I love that fact you’ve grabbed life by both hands and made the most of your opportunities. Long may that continue, you are an inspiration!
(click on the image for a non-affiliated buying link)
Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.
With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.
Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…
Detective Natalie Ward Series
Charlotte’s baby is safe. But is she?
When the body of young mother Charlotte Brannon is discovered by her husband in their immaculate, silver bedroom, Detective Natalie Ward is first on the scene. The killer has left a chilling calling card: the word ‘Why?’ written on the wall in blood.
Determined to find justice, Natalie quickly discovers the husband is hiding a troubled past, and she’s sure the teenage babysitter’s alibi doesn’t quite add up.
But before Natalie can dig deeper, another mother is murdered, her young son left distraught, staring at a fresh ‘who’ scrawled beside her.
Natalie knows it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again, but all the key suspects have alibis. It’s her toughest case yet, and with her marriage hanging by a thread, the cracks are beginning to show.
Just when Natalie finds an unsettling clue she thinks could solve the case, another young woman and her baby disappear, and a member of Natalie’s team is put in terrible danger.
Can Natalie stop this twisted killer and save one of her own before more families are torn apart forever?
One hot summer’s afternoon, five-year-old Ava Sawyer went to a party. She never came home…
Two years later, Ava’s body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party …
Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward. A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that still keeps her awake at night…
Natalie soon discovers that Ava’s mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she’s sure Ava’s father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she’s not telling Natalie …
Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn’t come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken?
Detective Robyn Carter series
On a hot summer’s morning, a young father is found murdered in a cornfield, outside the quiet town of Colton. Tied to a post, arms spread wide; Detective Robyn Carter is reminded of the crucifixion, and she knows she’s looking for a killer with a twisted sense of right and wrong.
The victim’s girlfriend is devastated, unable to fathom how she will tell her sick little boy. Still reeling from her own loss, Robyn vows she will find the killer – no matter what.
But then a local doctor – a popular woman with a young family of her own – is found dead outside her surgery. There are similarities between her and the first body and Robyn must take another look at the picture-postcard town, where no one has any enemies.
Can Robyn untangle the hidden web of secrets, lies, and smouldering grudges, at the heart of this close-knit community, before another life is lost?
The boy studied the bruise turning yellow at the base of his neck. With quick fingers his mother tightened his tie, and pulled his collar high above it. Her eyes alone said, We will not speak of this…
Years later, a man is found shot dead in a local park. On his phone is a draft text: I can’t keep this secret any longer. The recipient is unnamed.
Detective Robyn Carter knows this secret is the key to the case, but his friends and family don’t offer any clues, and all her team have to go on is a size-ten footprint.
Then a nurse is found in a pool of blood at the bottom of her staircase, and a seemingly insignificant detail in her friend’s statement makes Robyn wonder: are the two bodies connected, and has the killer only just begun?
When another body confirms Robyn’s worst fears, she realises she’s in a race against time to stop the killer before they strike again. But just as she thinks she’s closing in, one of her own team goes missing.
Buried in the past is a terrible injustice. Can Robyn uncover the truth before another life is lost?
One girl found dead. Another girl gone…
Long shadows danced on the tin walls. Inside the trunk lay Carrie Miller, wrapped in plastic, arms folded across her ribcage, lips sealed tight forever…
When a girl’s body is found at a Midlands storage unit, it is too decomposed for Detective Robyn Carterto read the signs left by the killer.
No one knows the woman in blue who rented the unit; her hire van can’t be traced. But as the leads run dry another body is uncovered. This time the killer’s distinctive mark is plain to see, and matching scratches on the first victim’s skeleton make Robyn suspect she’s searching for a serial-killer.
As Robyn closes in on the killer’s shocking hunting ground, another girl goes missing, and this time it’s someone close to her own heart.
Robyn can’t lose another loved one. Can she find the sickest individual she has ever faced, before it’s too late?
Colourful, plastic boats were scattered in puddles on the floor. In the bathtub lay Linda Upton, fully-clothed, lips a shade of blue, and bloodshot eyes wide open.
When a young mother is found drowned in the bath, clutching a receipt saying ‘all debts paid’, Detective Robyn Carter knows it’s just the beginning of a harrowing case. She recognises the signs of a serial killer, and a second victim with a receipt confirms her worst fears.
There are no witnesses. The victims had no debts. With the body count rising and the local press whipping the public into a frenzy, Robyn is under pressure to solve the crime in record time. But her team can’t find a link between the victims, and the cracks are starting to show.
Just when her leads have dried up, Robyn discovers photographs in two of the victims’ houses, which she thinks could unlock the case. But as she hones in on the killer’s shocking motive, one of her own is put in terrible danger.
Can Robyn stop the most twisted killer of her career before it’s too late?
Her breath rose and fell in fearful gasps but it was too late. She could already see what she dreaded most. The back seat was empty.
Her little girl was gone.
Abigail lives the perfect life with her doting husband and adorable baby Izzy. But someone knows a secret about Abigail and they want the truth to be told.
When Izzy is snatched from a carpark, it becomes a case for Detective Robyn Carter. Someone has been sending threatening messages to Abigail from an anonymous number. What is Abigail hiding?
Robyn’s instincts tell her there’s a connection between Izzy’s abduction and two murders she is investigating. But the last time she acted on impulse her fiancé was killed. To break this case and earn her place back on the force, she must learn to trust herself again – and fast. Robyn is on the hunt for a ruthless serial killer. And unless she gets to the twisted individual in time a little girl will die …
Feel Good Fiction
When Charlie’s husband leaves after ten years of marriage, her spirits hit an all-time low. She just isn’t sure how to pick herself up again. So, best friend Mercedes makes it her mission to put a spring back in Charlie’s step with the perfect bucket list.
As Charlie takes a chance and bungee jumps and belly dances her way through an array of adventures, her love life also begins to look up and she’s soon enjoying a few dates as a newly single woman. She begins to realise that finding romance, might not be so hard, especially when you’ve got someone like journalist Jake who has an adorable little boy and is very easy on the eye.
But is Jake too good to be true? As Charlie’s challenges on the bucket list get bigger, so do her questions about Jake. Should she continue to hold out for the fairy-tale? Or should she take a chance on Jake and hope for a happy ending?
Amanda Wilson is all geared up for an exciting gap-year, travelling across Europe. She soon finds her plans thwarted when she is abandoned in France with only a cellarful of Chateau Plonk, a large, orange Space Hopper, and Old Ted, the dog, for company. Fate has intervened to turn Amanda’s life on its head. First, Bertie, the camper van, breaks down. Then her dopey son, Tom, who is staying in their house in the UK, is wrecking it, one piece at a time. Next, the jaw-dropping video Skype calls that her irrepressible mother insists on making are, by contrast, making Amanda’s humdrum trip even less palatable. Finally, she discovers that her new-found, French friend, Bibi Chevalier, had engineered a plan to ensure that her philandering husband would never stray again; unfortunately, Amanda is unwittingly drawn into the scheme, becoming a target. Meanwhile, on a beach in Sydney, a lonely Todd Bradshaw realises that his first true love, Amanda Wilson, is definitely the only woman for him. Can he get back into her good books and hopefully back into her arms with his latest plan? Or will fate intervene yet again and turn everyone’s lives upside down? Surfing with Stilettos touches on some very real and harrowing life experiences. Marital infidelity, false identities and how that can be used to prey on vulnerable members of our society … and how we in our culture identify strongly with the work we do.
Amanda Wilson cannot decide between murder, insanity, or another glass of red wine. Facing fifty and all that it entails is problematic enough. Amanda knows she shouldn’t have pressed that Send button. The past always catches up with you sooner or later. Still, her colourful past is a welcome relief to her monochrome present especially when it comes in the shape of provocative Todd Bradshaw, her first true love. Amanda has a difficult decision to make one that will require more than a few glasses of Chianti. This light and entertaining book is a must-read for every woman who has ever shuddered at the thought of a birthday, be it thirty, forty, fifty or beyond. Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines portrays the fruits of mature living with hilarity and empathy and reassures us that we really are as young as we feel …
Just Add Spice
Dawn Ellis needs to escape from her painfully dull existence. Her unemployed husband spends all day complaining about life, moping around, or fixing lawnmowers on her kitchen table. The local writing class proves to be an adequate distraction with its eccentric collection of wannabe authors and, of course, the enigmatic Jason, who soon shows a romantic interest in her. Dawn pours her inner frustrations into her first novel about the extraordinary exploits of Cinnamon Knight, an avenging angel — a woman who doesn’t believe in following the rules. Cinnamon is ruthless and wanton, inflicting suffering on any man who warrants it. Little does Dawn realise that soon the line between reality and fiction will blur. Her own life will be transformed, and those close to her will pay the price. Hidden beneath the humour is the stark reality that life is short, relationships are complicated and not always what they seem and most importantly, opportunities should not be wasted.
She wanted a new life and true love. But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side…
All Polly has to her name is a string of failed relationships and a mountain of debt. She sees herself as a hopeless case and would do anything to change her luck.
So when she’s given the opportunity to swap all she’s ever known for a life of luxury, Polly jumps at the chance. Soon, it’s all diamonds, spa days and celebrity parties. Now all that’s missing from her life is a bit of romance. Will hunky Matt be the man to heal her broken heart?
But money can’t always buy you happiness. Can the life she’s always dreamed of get in the way of true love.