Despite getting lost in festival organisation (or under Palm trees) I have managed to keep going with my next novel, the new Bebe Bollinger mystery, which is now back from the editor and undergoing the formatting and publishing process.
This is the provisionary design for the cover, for now still with the old blurb, but you get the idea…
On her return from a gig on a cruise ship Bebe Bollinger learns that fellow Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler has decided to enter Eurovision for the UK. While Bebe jealously watches Bonnie’s every step on her publicity trail to the event in Malmo, a string of ‘odd accidents’ endanger several of the song competition’s participants. This stirs not only Bebe’s desire to see if there is foul play in hand but also to check out the suitability of Eurovision for her own career.
Follow Bebe’s continued search for fame and a come back before it’s too late, step into the weird world that is Eurovision fandom with her and see how she gets on with her naughty daughter and deals with those evil TV presenters.
Here is an excerpt:
Bebe put on the headset and inspected her surroundings. It was filled with cameras and microphones and looked like the diary room on Big Brother, except it lacked comfortable seating. The bar stools without a back to lean on were a terrible choice. Bebe also preferred radio interviews where she could fully see the host. Here, there wasn’t even a glass screen to the DJ booth.
“Welcome,” she heard a deep voice through her headset.
“Hello,” Bebe said into the microphone nearest to her. “Is that Peter?”
“Your microphone isn’t switched on yet,” the voice said and laughed.
“Are we expecting more guests?” Bebe asked, pointing at the empty chair. When she didn’t get an answer, she assumed the microphone was still switched off. “Just as well,” she said to herself. “I just hope it’s not some godforsaken has-been and I’m part of an oldie-but-goldie programme.”
“What makes you say that?” the voice asked.
Damn! What could she say now?
“So,” she said and cleared her throat, “is there another guest?”
“Of course,” the voice replied. “Tonia Carmichael”
The name did ring a bell, but she couldn’t put it into context. She was damned if she should admit to her ignorance, so she said: “Nice.” Bonnie’s song ‘Believe In Me’ had just started to play in the background when Tonia arrived a minute later, ushered in by the same assistant producer. Tonia was a beautiful woman, slightly younger than Bebe, with dark hair and a figure Bebe would die for. The face looked familiar but Bebe still couldn’t remember where she had seen her before. Tonia sat down next to her after awkwardly shaking Bebe’s hand. Bebe thought maybe the woman didn’t know who she was, either. A harrowing thought…
Tonia put on the headset quickly and took a sip from one of the many bottles of water around. Tonia also, seemed to find the bar stool uncomfortable. She fidgeted nervously, trying to find a position that didn’t feel odd.
“Are you ready?” the deep voice said.
They both nodded.
A few seconds later the song faded.
“Welcome to my fashion spot where I interview people who think they have fashion sense but who are probably mistaken,” Beatle said.
Bebe immediately looked at Tonia, who was wearing a tight red dress, guessing it was probably not a cheap outfit, based on the silky shine and the soft material. Beatle introduced Bebe as singing ‘legend’ and Tonia as TV personality without giving any more details.
“As always, I advise viewers to go to our website and look at the dresses while we chat away and tweet us your opinions on their frocks, hashtag #fashionbeatle. I’ll give you a few minutes to check them out. In the meantime, here’s Coldplay.”
Bebe didn’t like the sound of this one bit. She saw Tonia nervously fiddling with her dress, adjusting it to look perfect. Bebe wanted to warn her that this was all being filmed, too, and would make matters worse. While the outfit probably made her look like a million dollars standing in front of a mirror, sitting down it wasn’t quite so well fitting, Bebe noticed. Was that the purpose of these dreadful chairs? When the song was finished Beatle’s voice came on the radio.
“Welcome Bebe and Tonia and thanks for playing along. Please tell us about your background in fashion,” he asked his guests.
“I daren’t say it now,” Tonia replied and giggled. “I started designing my own clothes when I was sixteen. I’ve stopped doing that now, but I’ve worked on a few TV shows as fashion advisor.”
“And what about you, Bebe?” Beatle asked.
“I’m no expert,” she replied. “I wear what I like and hope for the best.”
“A brave statement,” Beatle said. “Let’s see what the audience has had to say about your dresses. They didn’t take long to make a judgement,” he said. “For those who didn’t check the website: Tonia is sporting a designer label, a sassy red number by what could well be Dolce & Gabbana, clearly out to impress us.”
Bebe could see a smile on Tonia’s face.
“Unfortunately, Tonia chose to accessorize excessively,” Peter continued. “Look at the number of jewellery items. The dangling pendants and bracelets are reminiscent of Madonna in the Eighties, and not in a good way. I applaud Bebe for going with a simple blue velvet number and only minimalist jewellery. Not a very expensive or contemporary look but timeless.”
Tonia looked hurt, despite braving a smile.
“Bebe, you’ve been in the business for a while,” Beatle said. “Give her some advice on what to wear next, while we’re playing the Kaiser Chiefs.
The assistant producer came in and signed for them to take off the headsets and follow him to the room next door. Tonia put on a grey trouser suit, very similar to Bebe’s second outfit.
“You can’t wear that,” Tonia insisted when she noticed. “We look like clones.”
“Darling, we’ll be slaughtered by Peter and the audience, whatever we wear,” Bebe replied. “It doesn’t matter, we just have to brave his criticism and laugh along.”
“I hate that ….,” Tonia said, referring to him with shocking rudeness.
Bebe was so surprised that she let out a quick nervous giggle.
“Just look at his poster for the show in the lobby,” Bebe tried to calm Tonia down. “He’s no one to judge us. ‘Fashion guru’ Peter Beatle is wearing denim all over. And it’s obvious he’s older than he tries to look. The highlights don’t fool me and that face oozes Botox. One thing, though – when you go back in there, don’t adjust your dress as you did earlier. It made you look insecure. And don’t touch your crotch. Everything you do in there is on camera.”
Tonia nodded slowly, as if this was difficult to take in.
The assistant producer rushed them back into the sound studio where they could hear Peter chatting away to his audience.
“Now I’ve lured Bebe into a false sense of security,” he said. “Winning the first round she got careless and thought her grey trouser suit would find your approval. Reading your comments on Twitter it’s clear that neither of the women impressed you.”
Bebe shrugged and smiled in the camera next to her. She was furious at Fred for not properly preparing her for this show but she wouldn’t let that show.
“Tonia copied her in desperation to avoid a second defeat, but this time you’re both looking a bit too smart for what suits you.”
Before Bebe had time to reply she heard her voice over the loudspeaker: “Don’t touch your crotch.”
Tonia and Bebe looked at each other in panic. Their conversation had been recorded? Tonia’s rude name for Peter was played next, followed by Bebe’s giggles. “Don’t touch your crotch” was played yet again, along with the word and the giggle. And again.
“A little fashion advice Bebe dished out earlier to Tonia,” Peter said and giggled himself.