A Lover of Books

Interview with Justin Sheedy

author-picture

I would like to introduce you all to Justin Sheedy.  For a while now my husband has been following him on social media and has expressed an interest in reading his books and I must admit that I am rather tempted by them too.  I wanted to interview Justin and was really pleased when he agreed to one.

 

Firstly, can you tell me a bit about the types of books you write please?

I write in two distinct styles: Firstly my make-you-laugh-and-cry portraits of childhood, teenage & growing up in 1970s & 80s Australia, “Goodbye Crackernight” & “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer”. (Yes, my first job out of school.) These two books have been warmly received by readers as they’re not just My story but OUR story, a mirror to US.

goodbye-crackernight

memoirs-of-a-go-go-dancer-by-justin-sheedy

Secondly, my more serious World War Two historical fictions, “Nor the Years Condemn”, “Ghosts of the Empire”, and my just-published “No Greater Love”. Bringing to life the stunning true saga of Australian, British and Commonwealth pilots and aircrew in World War Two, though hyper-accurate to the true history, I’ve written them as historical fictions so as to engage readers with the shining young characters who made the true history, the loss of such shining young characters rendering my stories the true anti-war portraits I intended them to be.

nor-the-years-condemn

ghosts-of-the-empire

no-greater-love-by-justin-sheedy

 

What made you decide to write about World War Two?

Well, imagine your grandfather, when he was 21, was a real-life young superman loved & respected by all around him. Then he volunteered to fight against the worst evil imaginable, crossed the earth to do it, fought against it in the most exciting way possible and WON, only to end up an old man surrounded by the forever 21-year-old ghosts of all his friends. And it’s all true. How could one NOT want to write a story about that?

 

Did you have to do much research?

A massive amount. Reading, documentaries, online research, emailing museums & local councils particularly in the UK as that’s where my war stories are chiefly set. And people can be so enthusiastically helpful. Just for example, for “Nor the Years Condemn”, book 1 in my trilogy, the local council of Callander in Scotland emailed me mile-by-mile maps of the area between Loch Leven and Loch Lubnaig so my Australian pilot’s first (training) flight in a Spitfire would be as accurate as possible, tearing around the summit of Ben Ledi then super low up Loch Lubnaig though the forest of Strathyre. Their final note, “The RAF jets do it to this day!” was just one of those wonderful conincidences. I also interviewed about 5 Australian WWII veterans, pilots & aircrew who at 90+ looked 70+ as they were basically Olympian/Formula 1 calibre young men back in the day. And so modest! One flew a Kittyhawk fighter and apologised to me that he had not been in an actual dog-fight, only in ground attack. I almost fell off my chair.

 

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Well, one gets more efficient with each book one writes but my most recent, “No Greater Love”, a 360+ page novel, took me a year and a half.

 

What are you working on now?

A novella entitled “Other People’s Wars” which will be a free ebook as a promotional tool for my war trilogy. For release at the end of this year, it will feature starring characters and key themes from my trilogy. Importantly though, each book in the trilogy stands on its own, written to be read in any order; parallel adventures in the same mighty saga.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you go to write?

I’m ALWAYS writing in my head. Can’t help it. No matter where I am.

 

Would you like to see any of your books made into a film and if so, which actors/actresses would you like to play the parts?

It’s my dream & holy grail. If I had a dime for every time people have vowed my books should be movies, I’d be rich.  And the question of which actors/actresses might play the parts has long fascinated me. The tricky thing is that, if cast accurately re age, they’d all have to be 21 as that was the average age of fighter pilots in World War II. (The ‘old man’ of the squadron was 25!) It’s key to my war stories: they’re heroic, tragic portraits of shining Youth. Though I assume in this cinema day & age they’d have “star” 30-somethings playing the roles not 21-year-old newcomers. For my latest book, “No Greater Love”, for its main character, Spitfire pilot rough-diamond Aussie Colin Stone (“Stoney”), when writing I always thought of a young Bryan Brown, a beloved Australian actor, as he was in the 1979 classic, “Breaker Morant”.

 

How important is social media to you?

Oh it’s essential. For ongoing publicity for my books, book-signing events and reviews. It is, in fact, the very reason I have the privilege of taking part in this interview as you & I got in contact through Facebook.

 

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to write their first book?

Come up with a brilliant idea then re-write it 20 times until your book ends up the book it Deserves to be.

 

Do you think you’ll ever come to the UK to do book signings?

I would very, very dearly love to. Before I can, however, my books must be able to be stocked on the shelves of the Waterstones bookstore chain. This is being wrangled by my Australian book distribution company as I write this. (At the moment my books are only available as print-on-demand paperbacks from Waterstones online which is wonderful but my goal is to be signing books in Waterstones Piccadilly.)

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love reading, classic TV & movies, comedy, music, pop culture & aviation, also historical documentaries, Mediterranean cooking, white wine, skiing, mountains and snow.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

So many but in the context of my ‘growing up’ stories, Clive James, Roald Dahl, Bill Bryson, for my war stories, Ken Follett & Roald Dahl once again (“Going Solo” possibly my favourite book of all time), Kate Grenville, Tim Winton & Peter Carey for their emotive Australian historical fictions.

 

About Justin Sheedy

Justin Sheedy had his first book, “Goodbye Crackernight”, published in 2009, a comic memoir of growing up in 1970s Australia, back in a long-lost era when a child’s proudest possession was not a Playstation but a second-hand bike. “Goodbye Crackernight” was so warmly received by Australian readers that it secured Justin a place on the program of the prestigious Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2010.

In 2012 Justin released “Nor the Years Condemn”, an historical fiction based on the stunning true story of the young Australian fighter pilots of World War Two. A tale as exhilaratingly heroic as it is tragic, “Nor the Years Condemn” is a portrait of shining young men destined never to grow old, and of those who do: the survivors ‘condemned by the years’, and to their memory of friends who remain forever young.

In 2013 he released “Ghosts of the Empire”, Book 2 in his “Nor the Years Condemn” series, and to Rave Reviews.

In 2014 he released “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer”, his long-awaited sequel to “Goodbye Crackernight”. “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer” is Justin’s rock & roll portrait of teenage in the 1980s under the threat of nuclear annihilation before he ever kissed a girl. Rave Reviews have once again flooded in.

Justin has just released his 5th book, “No Greater Love”, Part 3 in his “Nor the Years Condemn” trilogy. After a sell-out book-launch at Australia’s premier bookstore, the iconic Dymocks George Street Sydney, rave reviews for “No Greater Love” have already been received – see at the book’s Amazon listing along with Amazon 5-Star ratings.

Justin’s books are available in Kindle & paperback at Amazon, Dymocks bookstores, Waterstones & Barnes and Noble Online, The Book Depository and via ALL bookstores. Justin relishes signing copies of his books at regular bookstore events and would love to hear from you at his Facebook pages, on Twitter or at his blog, Crackernight.com. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

 

Book Links

Amazon / Amazon UK / Waterstones online / Barnes & Noble online / The Book Depository / Dymocks bookstores across Australia.

 

Blog Tour – ‘Strangers’ by Paul Finch

blog-tour-banner

Having absolutely loved Paul Finch’s last book, I was thrilled to be asked if I would like to take part in this blog tour as well.  ‘Strangers’ was published on the 22nd September 2016 by Avon.   I have still to read this book but I am almost 100 per cent sure that I will enjoy it just as much if not more.

Paul Finch has written a guest post for me to host, but first here’s what ‘Strangers’ is all about.

 

Book Blurb

Unknown, alone, and fearing for your life.

As PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is.

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come.

Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line.

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

Always gripping. Always gruesome. Paul Finch will leave fans of Rachel Abbott and MJ Arlidge gasping for more

~~~~~

How dark can detective fiction go?

Before we can answer this question, we need to remember that detective fiction is a pretty broad church, ranging from the pastoral-flavoured subgenre of the village green murder mystery to the ultra-violent world of inner city cops and the heinous criminals they pursue.

But by the nature of the beast, I think we must expect that it will always have the potential to get pretty dark. The bedrock of modern detective fiction for me is still the Hardboiled genre, as pioneered by the likes of Hammett and Chandler, and in which cynical antiheroes walk tightropes through worlds of crime and corruption.

Even back then in the more censorious 20s, 30s and 40s, our fictional investigators found themselves confronting the dregs of humanity, encountering contract killers, incest, rape, drug addiction, child abuse, sex slavery, domestic brutality – the whole gamut of social ills that still make us shudder when we’re watching the newsreels today.

It’s one of those difficult areas, I guess. In most cases, people read as a form of recreation, and therefore we authors write as a form of entertainment. But can it ever be morally acceptable to dredge through the most miserable of human experiences so that others can have fun?

The answer to that must be that we all live in the real world, and that we writers would be short-changing our readers if we tried to pretend that this wasn’t the case. It would be like telling a war story without the violence, or writing about the Third World as if there was no poverty or disease.

But the question still stands. How dark can you go?

Well … I’ve seen it done superbly well at the extreme limits of the spectrum. If you look at the world of horror novels rather than thrillers, some amazing examples stand out: THE WOLFEN (1978) by Whitley Strieber, in which two New York detectives hunt for an apparent cannibal killer and gradually come to realise they are tracking a werewolf pack; and LEGION (1983) by William Peter Blatty, in which a time-served cop investigates a series of appalling torture murders in Georgetown, only to find that he’s dealing with Satanic ritual. Neither of these books stint on the horror, but such is the skill and intensity with which they are told, that they are basically unputdownable.

In these cases, of course, the supernatural element is likely to alleviate any concerns one might have about excessive gruesomeness and depravity, because that earmarks these works as fantasy, which means that not only is it not real, but that it’s not supposed to be real.

We authors are on slightly dodgier ground when we are purporting to tell stories that could easily be true.

For example, when I sat down to write STALKERS, my first DS Heckenburg novel, in 2012, I wondered if the idea of the Nice Guys Club, a crime syndicate who for big money would provide clients with rape victims of their choice, belonged more in a horror novel than a crime thriller. It seemed a very extreme notion. However, at the time, and despite my prior police experience, I truly had no idea how much sex trafficking there is in the world, how much torture-for-fun, how many Snuf movies are made. It soon transpired that I had no need to worry about my risky concept, because it was only representing one harrowing aspect of real life.

I think that’s why I’ve tackled my latest novel, STRANGERS – another potentially controversial one – in full-on fashion. This one is a no-holds-barred tale of the hunt by undercover policewomen for a female killer known to the press as Jill the Ripper, who preys on her johns and sexually mutilates them.

We’ve all seen TV dramas in which female detectives go under cover as prostitutes, and it’s often treated lightly, as if all the heroine needs to do is don a short skirt and stand sexily on the nearest street-corner. However, I’ve seen enough of it in real life to know that this is far more difficult and dangerous work than that. And after extensive discussions with fellow author and good friend of mine, Ash Cameron, who as a long-serving policewoman in the Met, performed this duty many times, I felt I had a duty to paint as realistic a picture as possible of this grim business.

So … I make no apologies for the grimy subways or dingy toilet blocks, for the vomit in the gutters, the needles in the back-streets, the abuse the girls suffer from their punters, the violence from the pimps and dealers, the thrown excrement, and so forth.

Yes, I suspect STRANGERS is the darkest crime novel I’ve ever written, but no – because of the desperate state of some of our real lives – I don’t think I, or any other crime writer of my acquaintance, has even come close to pushing the boundaries towards unacceptability thus far.

You think crime writing’s gone dark? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

 

You can buy ‘Strangers’ from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Strangers-Paul-Finch-ebook/dp/B01ARS4LRM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474806100&sr=1-1&keywords=strangers

 

Cover Reveal – ‘If Ever I Fall’ by S.D. Robertson

book-cover-1

This is the cover of S.D. Robertson’s new book, ‘If Ever I Fall’ which is being published in both eBook and paperback by Avon on the 9th February 2017.

 

Book Blurb

Is holding on harder than letting go?

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.

Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?

In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?

 

‘If Ever I Fall’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/If-Ever-Fall-S-D-Robertson-ebook/dp/B01KEPJJPM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474804797&sr=1-1&keywords=if+ever+i+fall

 

Guest Post by Gillian Mawson

author-picture

I am delighted to have the lovely Gillian Mawson on my blog today.  Gillian has written a truly fascinating guest post which I hope you all enjoy reading as much as I did.

 

“I WON’T HAVE ANY EVACUEES!” – THE  BRITISH FAMILIES WHO REFUSED TO TAKE IN EVACUEES DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR

Since 2008 I have interviewed over 500 people, who were evacuated as children or as adults, from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands. Families have also given me access to the testimony and documents of those who have passed away. During the Second World War it was viewed as an important part of the British war effort for householders to take evacuees into their homes. Letters from local councils and wartime posters appeared everywhere, entreating housewives with the words, “When you take in an evacuee you will be doing a splendid service for the nation” and “Caring for Evacuees is a National Service.”

picture-1

However, a study of wartime newspapers shows that, for various reasons, some householders emphatically refused to provide accommodation to evacuees. A Staffordshire newspaper revealed that housewives had slammed the door in the faces of the Women’s Voluntary Service when they called to ask how many evacuees could be accommodated at that house,  ‘There were occasions when householders slammed the door in the faces of  the WVS ladies! That, to say the very least, was adding insult to injury.’  James Roffey still recalls the day in early September 1939 when he and his sister were taken to a cottage in Pulborough, West Sussex:

The young man who had brought us there knocked loudly on the door. No one appeared and the door remained tightly closed, so he knocked again, much louder this time. Suddenly the door opened and a very cross-looking woman appeared and shouted, ‘Who are you and what do you want?’ The young man, who was obviously taken aback, replied, ‘I have been sent by the Billeting Officer to bring these two evacuees.’ She immediately answered, ‘Well you can take them away again. I won’t have any bloody evacuees!’ and slammed the door shut. He knocked on the door again and the woman immediately opened it and again started shouting at him, but this time he put his foot in the doorway to stop her shutting it. Then he pushed us inside, saying, ‘You’ve got to take them by law; if you don’t I’ll call the police.’

Few households were willing to provide a home to evacuated mothers with a child and the Rochdale Observer stated, ‘The accommodating of mothers and children presented great difficulties and in the final stages, compulsory powers had to be exercised. ‘ Alfred Goble will never forget his arrival in Somerset, with his mother and sister, ‘They gave us a bun and a cup of tea and put us into this hall for the night. No one wanted to offer us a home. The next day we had to go to Wells and the same again there – no one wanted the three of us. I remember standing by the Cathedral and Town Hall, weeping with Mum as we were kept waiting.’

picture-2

Some families initially took evacuees into their homes, then quickly tried to get rid of them.  One Cheshire housewife asked her local Billeting officer, ‘Can you find another home for the girl? I simply don’t have the time to look after another child as I already have two of my own.’   Newspapers described court cases involving families, who, for various reasons, refused to keep evacuees. The Stockport Advertiser stated, ‘Mr and Mrs Jones of Offerton were charged with refusing to accept an evacuee. The clerk pointed out to the couple that it was unpatriotic of them and they were fined.’ The Leek Post stated, ‘For failing to accept two evacuees Mr. William Wardles Sales of Leek was fined two pounds and ten shillings costs at Leek police court on Wednesday. This was the first case of its kind to be heard in a local court.’[i]  Later on in the war, more cases appeared in the Leek press when hundreds of London evacuees arrived in the town, fleeing the flying bombs:

Three people were each charged with failing to comply with a billeting notice and total fees and costs amounted to over £40 were imposed. The defence in each case constituted a plea of poor health and in 2 of the cases lack of domestic help also. Mr Horace Bowcock was charged with failing to comply with a billeting notice on the 25th of July, and with a similar offence on the 27th of July. The Clerk read a letter from Mr Bowcock stating he was unable to comply with the notices during the past 5 years. His wife has been in poor health and has constantly been receiving medical attention. At the time of the billeting notice they were expecting his wife’s unmarried sister who was ill to come from Macclesfield on a visit. They had only 2 bedrooms and a small room which was used as a study.[ii]

A Gloucestershire newspaper shared the tragic case of a couple who had become depressed because evacuees were billeted with them. As a result, Sir William Reid had gone into Burford Woods, killed his wife then shot himself:

Sir William’s brother stated in court, ‘Soon after the evacuees arrived, Sir William asked me to go over with him on his wife’s behalf to try and get the evacuees taken from the house. Afterwards he got very dissatisfied because I know he got rather short shrift.’ The coroner replied, ‘Did having to take in evacuees depress him?’ The brother replied, ‘Yes, it was owing to his intense fondness for his wife that he attempted to get rid of the evacuee children billeted with them. He told me that he was quite sure that his wife could not carry on.’ The jury returned a verdict that Sir William murdered his wife and then himself whilst not of sound mind.

My third book, ‘Evacuation in the Second World War told through Newspaper reports, Official documents and the Accounts of those who were there’ will be published on 30 November 2016 by Frontline Books. It contains testimony, wartime photographs and documents from hundreds of evacuees – children and adults – who spent the war years in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It also includes testimony from Channel Island and Gibraltar evacuees. For more information, see:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gillian-Mawson/e/B008MWQ0IE/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_

My British evacuation blog can be found at:

https://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/

 

________________________

[i]      Leek Post and Times, 18 January 1941, p.1. The Argument was his wife’s bad health – they would like children but could not manage them.

[ii]     Leek Post and Times, 11 August 1944, p.1.

 

Blog Blitz – ‘Christmas at the Little Village Bakery’ by Tilly Tennant

book-cover

Congratulations to Tilly Tennant whose book, ‘Christmas at the Little Village Bakery’ is out today.  With it’s lovely cover you are bound to start feeling that little bit Christmassy.  To celebrate, Bookouture thought it would be great if there was a blog blitz and I’m really happy to be a part of it.  I asked Tilly some questions.  I hope you enjoy my interview with her.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘Christmas at the Little Village Bakery’ please?

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery takes us back to the village of Honeybourne to catch up with the characters of The Little Village Bakery. It’s Christmas, so Honeybourne is sparkling with newly fallen snow and buzzing with anticipation for the festivities. But as usual, the holiday season is not plain sailing for everyone. This book centres around Dylan’s friend, Spencer, and a new arrival at the bakery, Darcie, who is Millie’s cousin. Everyone is keeping secrets and everyone seems to be having some battle or another – whether it is against forbidden love or warring parents, and peace and goodwill to all men seems a long way off!

 

When did you start working on this book?

I started it in February of this year, suffering from post-Christmas blues and wishing we could have it back!

 

Where did you get the idea for this novel from?

Really it was just a natural progression of where we had left the story at the end of The Little Village Bakery. People wanted to know what had happened to certain characters and I was only too happy to find out along with them!

 

What’s it like writing a Christmas book at a different time of the year?

Because this one was written only just after Christmas it didn’t seem too weird. But last year I was writing a Christmas book in July and that was very weird. It’s hard to get in the zone when it’s thirty degrees outside your window and everyone is eating ice-cream!

 

What do you hope readers get from your book?

If they get a few hours of a new world to escape to and a nice feeling at the end, I will be happy I’ve done my job well.

 

Do you have a village bakery near you?

One or two fantastic ones, although they’re more city bakeries as I don’t live in a village. They do make good cakes, though.

 

Have you ever wanted to start your own bakery business?

God no, I’d be hopeless! Much easier to write about a business than run one!

 

What’s your favourite cake?

Cake. Basically I love nearly all cake!

 

When will your next book be out?

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery is out today. I’m currently working on a new series set in Rome and the first one of that is due out in the spring of next year.

 

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to write their first novel?

Stop worrying about whether it will be good or bad and just write it! So many people tell me they would love to write a book but the fear of it being rubbish stops them.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love getting out and about with my teenage daughters. I do like baking but I’m not very good at it. I like going for walks and seeing new places. If I could afford to be on holiday every week I would!

 

Finally, what will you be doing this Christmas?

Collapsing after the mental year 2016 has been! In all seriousness, it will probably just be a quiet family Christmas, but sometimes they are the nicest ones, aren’t they? I’ll be enjoying the break and getting fired up for 2017.

 

About Tilly Tennant

author-picture

From a young age, Tilly Tennant was convinced that she was destined for the stage.  Once she realised she wasn’t actually very good at anything that would put her on the stage, she started to write stories instead. There were lots of terrible ones, like The Pet Rescue Gang (aged eight), which definitely should not see the light of day ever again. Thankfully, her debut novel, Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was not one of those, and since it hit the Amazon best seller lists she hasn’t looked back. Born in Dorset, she currently lives in Staffordshire with her husband, two daughters, three guitars, four ukuleles, two violins and a kazoo.

 

Links

‘Christmas at the Little Village Bakery’ is available to buy from:-

UK: http://amzn.to/29glVkf

US: http://amzn.to/295yTw0

Tilly Tennant’s Website – www.tillytennant.com

 

‘The Constant Soldier’ by William Ryan

the-constant-soldier

‘The Constant Soldier’ was published on the 25th August 2016 by Mantle, an imprint of Pan Macmillan.  I was interested in reading this book and got my proof copy from NetGalley.

It is 1944 and Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army returns home badly wounded from the Eastern front.  The village has changed a lot and certainly not for the better either.  A SS rest hut has been set up as a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps.  It is run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who against all odds have so far survived the war.

Just by chance Brandt catches sight of one of the prisoners and he knows instantly that he must somehow gain access to the rest hut whatever it takes.  Inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years ago and he feels he must do what he can to protect her.

As the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of the SS rest hut and its inhabitants are numbered.  While there is hope there is also impending danger.  Will Brandt and the female prisoners survive?

Over the last few months there has been a lot of talk about ‘The Constant Soldier’.  Having now read this book for myself I can see exactly why.  The writing is absolutely superb and of the highest quality.  From the very first chapter I was drawn into the story.  So clear were the descriptions that I could actually picture some of the scenes in my head.

There were a lot of characters in this book, Paul Brandt being my favourite.  I thought he was really brave.  I felt sorry for the female prisoners.  The way they were treated at times was abominable.  And those poor refugees!

It’s easy to forget sometimes just how much work goes into writing a book.  An author can spend years slaving over their next title.  With ‘The Constant Soldier’ it was obvious that a lot of research had been done.  This is confirmed by the lovely author’s note at the end.

‘The Constant Solider’ is a must read.  It is a powerful, emotional and thought provoking story about war, guilt, loss and survival.  This book will stay with me for a long time and it is definitely going on my list of favourites for 2016.  Thank you for a wonderful read.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

Cover Reveal – ‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ by James Calum Campbell

book-cover

I’m back at last from my blogging break and I have lots of exciting things to come.  Today though I am pleased to be revealing the cover of James Calum Campbell’s new book, ‘The Seven Trials of Cameron Strange’, due to be published by Impress Books on the 1st November.  There will be a blog tour for which I will be writing a review.  For now though here’s what this book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Fox stepped swiftly through the door.  There was an audible click.  And there came the sound of a bolt sliding into place.

What follows is the stuff of nightmares…

Just when the bereaved and troubled Dr Alastair Cameron-Strange rediscovers his life on the other side of the world, the British authorities track him down. They recruit him on a mission which takes him to the farthest reaches of New Zealand, to Xanadu with all its grotesque gargoyles, chief among them Phineas Fox, the American business tycoon whose baleful eye is on the White House.  There’s something not quite right about Mr Fox, and Cameron-Strange, with the help of the beautiful Nikki, is determined to find out what it is.  He survives six ordeals, but will he survive a seventh?

 

About James Calum Campbell

James Calum Campbell is a doctor-turned-author who divides his time between Scotland and New Zealand. He won the Impress Prize for New Writers 2014 with his debut novel Click, Double-Click. He was born in Glasgow, read Medicine at Edinburgh, and practised in Papua New Guinea, Queensland, and Auckland, where he was Clinical Head of the busiest emergency department in Australasia.

 

Taking a blog break

House

I have some very exciting news to tell you all.  We are finally moving into our first home and it’s all happening from tomorrow.  This means that I am going to be taking a blog break for a while.  I plan to be back sometime in September.  I will still be on social media and I’m sure I’ll get some reading done so I may even return with some reviews.

Love from Sonya xx

 

Guest Post by Simon Michael

Simon Michael

Simon Michael’s new book, ‘An Honest Man’ is out on the 7th July 2016.  I recently read and reviewed ‘The Brief’ which I absolutely loved.  To coincide with his new book being published, Simon has written a guest post for my blog.

 

TRIAL BY JURY

Photo A (wig)

The life of a criminal barrister is one of high stress, sweat-inducing responsibility, poor pay, unbeatable camaraderie and extremely funny stories.  I have often thought that the “life-and-death” issues in which barristers deal – like police officers, surgeons and firemen – make humour an essential coping tool.

I was a pupil barrister in the Chambers of Robert Flach QC, in the Middle Temple, of whom hilarious stories are legion – but this guest blog is not about him.  It is about two very green barristers, your writer and a man who was to become a close friend, whom I shall call Derek.  We were both about 23 years of age and pupils to an up-and-coming criminal barrister, hereinafter referred to as “Mr Smith”, who was at that time being led by an eminent QC in a high-profile criminal trial at the Old Bailey.

Mr Smith had left us to do some paperwork while he was in court that day and we were, as always, floundering around a mountainous pile of papers involving arcane and unfamiliar concepts, nattering away and finding every available excuse not to deepen our knowledge of the Law.

Then the telephone rang.  It was our senior clerk.  Mr Smith had left behind some important documents, and one of us needed to run the papers down to Court 2 at the Old Bailey immediately.  Enormous excitement – this would be the first time that we had actually been in the legendary Central Criminal Court.  Did we need to be robed?  Mr Smith didn’t say, replied the clerk, but better safe than sorry.

So we changed our Windsor collars for brand-new wing collars, pushing the brass and mother-of-pearl collar studs through the buttonholes closed with dried starch, tied our bands (those white things worn also by vicars) pulled on our gowns, and grabbed our wigs.  Then we looked for the papers on Mr Smith’s desk and found what amounted only to two short Statements, no more than ten pages.  So, only one of us was needed to make the delivery.

‘Toss for it,’ I offered.

‘Fair enough,’ agreed Derek.  I won.

‘Best-of-three?’ suggested Derek.  Like an idiot, I agreed.  He won the next two.

‘Best-of-five?’ I suggested.

‘No time,’ he said, looking at his watch, and off he scuttled, wig in one hand, statements in the other and black gown billowing behind him.  I followed; having changed into my fancy dress, there was no way I was going to miss the adventure.

It took us little more than five minutes to jog down Fleet Street, over Ludgate Circus and left into Old Bailey.  We paused outside the heavy swing doors of Court No 2 and Derek placed his wig on his red Irish hair.  Inside we could see the tall wooden dock in which sat our pupil master’s clients, the raked banks of jurors, the massed ranks of reporters and the packed gallery.  The back of the prosecution QC could be seen as he addressed the Recorder of London, who sat robed in black and purple, higher than everyone else in the court, under an enormous pediment bearing the crest and the words “Dieu et mon droit”.

‘How do I look?’ whispered Derek.

‘Fine,’ I replied.

‘Okay.  Here we go.’  He took a deep breath and reached for the door.

‘Don’t forget to bow,’ I reminded him.

He turned back to me, his face slightly pale.  ‘Right, thanks,’ and he pushed open the door.

The door made a loud squeak just as, unfortunately, there was complete silence in court.  The jurors turned at the noise, followed by the members of the press.  Derek’s progress down the centre aisle towards the barristers’ benches at the front of the court was followed by forty pairs of eyes.  The prosecution barrister began speaking again but realised that the attention of everyone in the court was on something going on behind him.  He turned, and every other barrister on the benches followed suit.  Within a few seconds Derek was the centre of attention of everyone in the court.

Blushing as red as the hair emerging from under his wig, Derek located Mr Smith in the second row amongst all the other identically-dressed barristers.  He walked along the front of the row and handed our pupil master the Additional Statements.  He then turned and, apparently remembering my last comment, bowed to the judge.  He bowed to the ranks of barristers.  He bowed towards the dock, causing the jurors to giggle.  Hearing the noise he then made a quarter turn, and bowed to the jury, causing the giggle to become a ripple of laughter.

He then backed back up the aisle – bowing once more to a surprised court usher holding a water jug – felt behind him for a door, opened it, and stepped backwards – into the exhibit cupboard, closing the door behind him.

Everyone in the court knew that poor Derek was now standing in complete darkness surrounded by boxes of exhibits, and they waited to see if he would emerge again.  Like the rumbling of distant thunder, the laughter grew until it became a crescendo of hilarity ringing around the court.  After about thirty seconds of what must have been complete torture to Derek, but during which he was utterly immobilised by embarrassment, the Recorder of London took pity on him.

‘For heaven’s sake, usher, let the poor fellow out,’ he directed.

The usher put the jug on a bench and walked up the aisle.  She opened the door to be greeted by a mortified pupil barrister standing in the dark.  Derek stepped into the court to an eruption of wild applause.  He cast about himself, saw me furiously beckoning from outside, and ran to the safety of the corridor.

I’m delighted to tell you that despite this setback, Derek enjoyed an extremely successful career at the Bar, but perhaps unsurprisingly he forsook practice at the Old Bailey, opting instead for the quieter life of a civil practitioner, toiling through mountains of papers, but safe from the ridicule of any jury.

_________________________________________________________________________________

[Simon Michael’s The Brief was reviewed by me here https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/the-brief-by-simon-michael/ and the sequel, An Honest Man, is to be published by Urbane Publications on 7 July 2016 but available for pre-order now.]

 

Honest Man cover

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/29ko0Iz

Criminal barrister Charles Holborne may have just escaped the hangman by proving he was framed for murder, but his life is now in ruins.  His wife is dead, his high-flying career has morphed into criminal notoriety, and bankruptcy threatens.  When the biggest brief of Charles’s career land unexpectedly on his desk, it looks as if he’s been thrown a lifeline.  But far from keeping him afloat, it drags him ever deeper into the shadowy underworld of 1960s London.  Now, not only is his practice at stake, but his very life.  Caught in the crossfire between corrupt police officers and warring gangs, can Charles protect himself without once again turning to crime?

Based on real Old Bailey cases and genuine court documents, An Honest Man is the second in the Charles Holborne series, set on the sleazy London streets of the 1960s.

 

About Simon Michael

Simon practised as a barrister for over 35 years, many of them spent prosecuting and defending murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy. He had several books published in the UK and the USA in the 1990s and his short story Split was shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan/Perrier Short Story Award.

In 2016 he retired from legal practice to devote himself to full- time writing. The Brief (September 2015) and An Honest Man (July 2016) are the first two books in the Charles Holborne series, set on the gangland streets of 1960s London, based upon his experiences. Simon is a founder member and co-chair of the Ampthill Literary Festival. He lives with his wife, youngest daughter and many unfulfilled ambitions in Bedfordshire.

 

Links

Website and blogs: www.simonmichael.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simonmichael.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonmichaeluk

Email: author@simonmichael.uk

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/28ZFrwQ

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ by Cathy Bramley

Blog Tour Poster

‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ was published as a paperback original by Corgi on the 30th June 2016.  I absolutely love Cathy’s books and was delighted to be asked if I wanted to take part in this blog tour.   For each day of the tour a question taken from an interview by Zarina (@zarinatweets) is being asked.

 

Here is today’s question…..

What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?

I have a lot of author friends and we all have periods of doubts about our ability to write, so don’t worry about failure, just go for it and do the best you can.

 

About Cathy Bramley

Author Picture

Cathy Bramley is the author of the bestselling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm and Wickham Hall (all four-part serialised novels) and Conditional Love. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog.

Cathy loves to hear from her readers. You can get in touch via her website http://www.CathyBramley.co.uk, Facebook page Facebook.com/CathyBramleyAuthor or on Twitter: twitter.com/CathyBramley

 

‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

http://amzn.to/29mo7pm

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: