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Why you must read Julie McLaren’s Deceiving Ellie

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Deceiving Ellie is about a girl – a university student – who finds herself pursued by Adam, a fellow student who she would never had considered as a possible boyfriend. She is small and physically unremarkable and he is tall, good-looking and striking. Could he really be interested in her?

Well, it seems he is, and the relationship develops, with a lot of ups and downs, to the point where she agrees to spend a week in a caravan in Shropshire with him. Her two best friends, Jess and Aisha, are concerned about this. Although Ellie is a lovely person, she is vulnerable and inexperienced and they are suspicious of Adam’s motives. It all seems too good to be true, but nothing will dissuade Ellie; she is hooked.

Ellie resolves to write a journal about her romantic week, but as the days unfold, her dreams are replaced by a reality which is anything but romantic.

So this isn’t a love story?
This novel starts as a romance, but turns into a thriller filled with suspense. There are many clues for the reader to pick up – clues which the innocent Ellie fails to interpret – but I know of no-one who has read the novel and guessed the ending.

Ooh, that sounds like a challenge! We’re looking forward to it.
If you like Gone Girl, you’ll love my book.

This novel will appeal to people who like suspense and psychological thrillers, although it will also appeal to readers of romance, as long as they are not looking for conventional characters or a conventional happy ending! There is a strong story line, but I have also tried to include some other interesting themes. For example, Ellie is a creative writing student, and there is quite a lot about being a writer in the book.

What else should we know about Ellie?

Ellie is a dreamer, and her dreams often find their way into her writing.

This is how I start the blurb for my book, and it is an important part of her character. The other thing that readers find out is that Ellie has a secret, and the title, Deceiving Ellie, does not only refer to her as a victim of deceit, although this is the central theme.

Intriguing. Tell us more.
I don’t want to give any more away, as it would spoil the novel for anyone who does decide to give it a go.

With Ellie being a writer, everyone is going to wonder how much of this is autobiographical.
Ellie is not really autobiographical. I like to think I would not be tricked as easily as she is! However, there are certainly bits of me in there, being small for a start, and there are experiences and memories which I have used, especially the parts about writing.

The final section contains other elements which are taken from my experiences, but it would be a huge spoiler to outline them here.

You keep teasing us!
Have you written any other novels that we can check out next?
My first novel is called The Music of the Spheres. It is totally different, as I wrote the first draft many years ago and resurrected it last year, when I decided that being an indie author was the way forward for me and my writing. It is a fantasy novel – the main character is God – but it is also (I’m told) very funny.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a semi retired teacher. As soon as I was released from full time working, I started to write seriously, and published two novels between July 13 and February 14. For the past 14 years I have worked with a central team supporting children in care, and I still work part time in the same role. This is why my third novel, Chickens, is about a man with a troubled past who joins a scheme to provide mentors for children in care. I’m about one third of the way through the first draft.

Do you have a website where we can keep up with your progress?
No, I’m hopeless. I know I should create one, but somehow the writing seems to get in the way.

In that case, you must be on social media.
Here is a link to my Facebook author page. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

How easily do new storylines come to you? If we give you four random words 
– Man, Woman, Mexico, Future – can you give us a brief storyline?
A woman meets a man whilst on holiday in Mexico. She is recently separated, and this holiday is supposed to be a cathartic experience, a chance to forget about her ex-husband and the younger woman he has been courting online for months, before finally leaving to live with her. She expects it just to be a holiday fling – she deserves a bit of fun – but when she returns he makes contact, expecting the relationship to continue. She has no desire to see him again, but her whole future is now at risk, as he will not give up and he threatens to reveal a secret she told him in a moment of intoxicated madness. How can she get rid of him without risking her job?

Back to the real world. So Chickens is what we should expect from the McLaren stable next?
I have to finish writing Chickens. I have some children’s stories on the back burner, but I’m waiting for some illustrations to go with them. After that, I have some vague ideas about a novel in which domestic violence is a central theme, but actually I quite like the Mexico story I just made up!

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