Monday, February 6, 2017


Tell us five things you love

Ooh, that’s easy. 

1. I love my son Max, who’s five. 

2. I love my mother (who just died) and I miss her like crazy

3. I love yoga. Yoga’s about the only thing keeping me sane. I’m a yoga teacher actually. 

4. I love cooking. I’m a pretty mean pie-maker. Apple pie, cherry pie, you name it…

5. I love my special yellow phone – which allows me to make calls to Heaven. 

What about five things you hate

Mm, that’s harder, because I’m quite spiritual and don’t believe in the word ‘hate’. It’s such a strong word. But if I have to think of five it would be:

1. My husband Mitch. Ouch, did I really say/admit that? Please don’t tell anyone…

2. I hate that my Mom just died. Life isn’t fair. She was only in her early fifties.

3. I hate that I’m weak. I should have left Mitch ages ago. Nothing good can come of it.

4. I hate that I’m starting to have feelings for this guy I’ve recently met, who’s also grieving. His wife died two years ago. Nothing good can come of that either, surely?

5. I hate the yellow phone as much as I love it. It’s tying me to the house and to Mitch, because it’s the only place I can use it, so I daren’t leave. I also fear that it’s going to cause me a lot of trouble. It certainly feels that way. 

Tell us more about this yellow phone. 

It’s hard to talk about the phone because I know nobody will believe me. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? A phone that can call Heaven – I must be an idiot to believe that a phone could actually do that, right? It defies logic. It just can’t be. But you’ll just have to trust me on this one. I’m telling you the truth. I really can and do speak to my mother on this phone. It’s mystifying, it’s scary, it’s thrilling and it’s wonderful, all at the same time. It’s given me hope. I now know that Heaven really does exist. And I’ve got my Mom back in my life too. How lucky am I?

Do you really feel lucky?

Hum, that’s a hard one. Sometimes I feel lucky and sometimes I feel cursed, like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I think ‘why me?’ Out of everyone else in the world, why has this happened to me? I’m nothing special. I’m just plain Amy and the most special thing imaginable is happening to me. And yet…I don’t always feel lucky. I feel that without the phone things could have been different. You see, I’ve come to know this great guy called Daniel. Dr Daniel my mother calls him, because he’s a doctor. A heart surgeon if you must know. And when I finally admit to him about the phone, I know he thinks I’m crazy. It ruins everything between us. And that makes me sad. 

Ooh, we want to know more about Dr. Daniel 

What can I say? He’s hot; he’s fit; he’s dark and brooding and he’s also sad, like me. His wife died a couple of years ago, leaving him a single dad of a gorgeous kid Max’s age. That’s how I’ve come to know him. Our boys play together. Sometimes I think he might be attracted to me. I know I am to him. He smells heavenly – of sandalwood. And he makes me feel…different. But it’s irrelevant. I’ve still got a husband, even if it is one who’s a monster. 

Can you share a secret about yourself with us, something nobody else knows?

My surname ‘Tristan’ comes from the French word ‘triste’ which means ‘sad’ – which is actually very fitting because at the start of A Call to Heaven I’m extremely sad – not just because my mother recently died, but because my husband Mitch is becoming more and more aggressive and I’m just not sure how to safely extricate myself from the marriage and keep my son safe.   

Last question – any chance you can let us use the yellow phone? 

Ha, I’m not sure. I don’t have the control. People ‘up there’ dictate how it works, who speaks etc. And for the time being they’ve only allowed me to let three others connect with Heaven and I’ve already chosen those three. If anything changes I’ll be sure to bear you in mind/let you know. But trust me, I’m starting to think that maybe this talking to Heaven lark isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, you know? It’s a liability as much as it’s a miracle. 

A Call to Heaven
Jo Kessel

Genre: contemporary romance
with a paranormal twist

Publisher: J.K Publishing

Date of Publication: January 27, 2017

ISBN-13: 978-1540490049 /
ISBN-10: 1540490041

Number of pages: 260 paperback /
320 kindle book

Word Count: 68k

Cover Artist: Ivan Cakic

Book Description:

"Everybody’s loved, everybody’s lost.

Grief strips you raw and makes you feel as if you’re sleepwalking through life, like the pain will never go away.

I’m Amy Tristan. I’m no different than anyone else. I’ve loved, I’ve lost and it sucks. I’ve got a five-year old son and an abusive husband. My mother died six months ago and I miss her like crazy.

I’m the biggest skeptic when it comes to other-worldly stuff, so when I’m told that I can pick up the phone and call my mum in Heaven, I should disbelieve it, right? Wrong. I pick up that phone, because there’s nothing I want more than to hear her voice trickle into the receiver.

And you know what? It works. I get to speak to my mother. It’s a miracle. If only it could stay this way, with those calls just for me, but someone up on high wants me to choose three other people to make a call to Heaven too. Who should I pick? How can I trust them to keep the phone secret? Making the choice is agonizing - if I get it wrong, my calls will stop. I wish I hadn’t told Daniel anything. He’s this hot doctor that I’ve come to know. But doctors are scientists, and scientists are bigger skeptics than even me. He didn’t believe in the phone. He thought I should be admitted to a sanatorium. Telling him was either the best decision of my life, or the worst. I’ll let you decide…"


Everyone’s looking at me. I’ve got the yellow telephone in my hands and I’m not sure what to do with it. I take a seat at the end of the table and lay the phone down in front of me. Beth is to my left, Ben is to my right. Daniel is opposite me. I look from one to the other and feel color flood my cheeks. My gaze finishes on Daniel and stays there for a beat. He nods, his eyes encouraging me. I return the nod, take a deep breath and count down from three to one in my head.

“I’ve got to tell you all something.” My voice comes out as a thin squeak, but actually I’m surprised I manage to articulate at all. I’m hot, so hot. I lift the hair off the back of my neck, flapping it around to try to cool my sticky, clammy skin. I can’t breathe, I need air. I unlock the patio doors, flinging them wide open. The inside of my mouth feels rough as sandpaper. I’m desperate for a tall glass of water packed with ice-cubes but, when I turn to see six eyes staring at me, I dare not leave to fetch one. I feel like an exhibit in a museum and in some ways I wish I were. I could hide behind a Perspex box next to the yellow telephone with panel blurb doing the explaining for me. I could be part of a new exhibition entitled ‘Incredible Discoveries’. I would share the same hall as the dinosaurs and anything else which took aeons for people to believe existed. I draw a deep breath and continue.

“You’re probably going to think I’m mad, but I’m going to tell you anyway.”

A breeze blows through the open patio doors. 

“What I wanted to tell you is this.” My voice is soft as a whisper. I sense all their bodies leaning closer towards mine, straining to hear. “I’ve recently started talking to my mother.”

There, I’ve said it.

I feel a great sense of relief, both that I’ve said it and that I no longer have to keep this to myself. Beth relaxes in her chair with a sigh, leans across and takes my hand, patting it. She’s got wavy brown hair and a kind, open face. She tilts her head sympathetically.

“Oh honey, you must have tried out that clairvoyant you mentioned. Please tell us all about it.”

I should have seen that one coming. 

 “No, you don’t get it.” I lift up the yellow phone, as if to demonstrate how to use such a contraption. In one hand I take the receiver, in the other the plug. “I don’t speak to her through a medium. I speak to her on this telephone. I plug it into a socket in my bathroom and I’m allowed to call heaven.”

There, I’ve said it now.

Nobody moves.

Not a muscle.

Their mouths all open, Daniel’s is the widest. I don’t think any of them even realize they’re doing it. As feared, they are looking at me like I’m certifiably insane. 

“I can see you all think I’m mad.” I actually manage to pull a small smile. Now that I’ve started, I feel much calmer. “And, if I were in your position, I would think I’m crazy too. But one night my mother came to me in a dream and told me I could use this phone to call her in heaven and, bizarre though it must sound, it turns out she was right. That’s why I stopped coming to Grief Support Group every week. I wasn’t grieving so much because my mother had come back into my life.”

The three pairs of eyes grow wider and wider, as if I’m slowly sprouting four serpent heads. I replace the receiver back into its cradle and drop the plug, holding out my hands in submission.

“You can believe me or not. It doesn’t matter. But the reason I’ve gathered you all here is because I’ve been asked to choose three other people to call to heaven.”

I sound like a fairy godmother or the good witch in the Wizard of Oz. I do not sound normal. I pause. The effect is dramatic although it’s not intended to be.

“And I’ve picked you guys.”

I look at them one by one.

“Beth, I know how much it might mean to you to be able to speak to your daughter and know that she is safe.”

Beth nods. Her gaze turns glassy.

“Ben, I’d do anything to be able to give you a chance to speak to your brother again.”

Ben nods, his mouth still formed in a perfect ‘O’.

Daniel is the hardest one for me to look at. He’s not nodding anymore and his eyes are no longer urging me to continue. Instead he’s shaking his head, a slow, subtle movement, but I catch it all the same. His full lips have now formed a thin line. He’s the only one who looks like he still thinks I’m certifiably insane. Hell, he’s a doctor; perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Part of me wonders whether I should abort this whole escapade and pretend it was all a joke. I’d do anything to not have Daniel stare at me in this way. He looks ready to call the local sanatorium and send them round with a straitjacket. But I can’t abort and I must continue. What happens next is up to him. 

“And Daniel, I thought that maybe you might like to speak to Katie.”

He opens his mouth as if he’s about to say something, but clamps it shut again without speaking. Nobody else says anything either. They all shift in their seats, pretending to take sips of coffee and look around the room. Perhaps they’re checking out the photos on the mantelpiece above the fireplace, trying to work out if I look like a madwoman in any of them. I pick up the knife. Now I probably do look mad or, at the very least, dangerous. 

“Right, who’s for some more pie?”

About the Author:

Jo lives in London with her husband, three children and Jerald the cat. In addition to being a novelist she works as a TV and print journalist (Sunday Times, The Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express.) If she could change one thing about her life it would be to introduce the thirty hour day, because twenty-four hours just isn’t long enough to squeeze it all in! Many a late night has been spent with a glass of red wine (preferably French) at her desk trying to keep her eyes open long enough to write these stories which keep demanding to be written. If only her cat didn’t constantly jump onto the keyboard as she writes, this book might have been finished months earlier. She loves yoga, skiing, travelling and English custard - though not necessarily in that order.


1 comment:

GO WITH JO said...

Thank you so much for featuring my new release, A Call to Heaven, on your blog today. Hope everyone enjoys meeting my heroine Amy Tristan as much as I did creating her!