A Lover of Books

Archive for the category “Blog Events”

My 6th Blog Anniversary

It’s that time of year again, my sixth blogging anniversary.  Honestly I don’t know where the time goes!

The past twelve months have been quite eventful blogging wise.  I have read even more wonderful books and discovered some fantastic authors along the way, I have found myself taking part in lots more blog tours and I have realised that my TBR pile will probably never go down, even after all this time.  I have also been invited to a number of book launches and events and have met loads more fellow book bloggers and authors.

I did find blogging really getting on top of me at one point earlier this year, but I’m fine now and have lots coming up.  It’s just a case of learning to balance things out.  Positivity helps too.

 

Competition

I would like to thank all you lovely bloggers, authors and publishers for your continuous support.  To show my appreciation and to celebrate my sixth blog anniversary I am running a competition.  To enter just leave a comment.

1st Prize – Up to £20.00 worth of books from Amazon.

2nd Prize – Up to £10.00 worth of books from Amazon.

3rd Prize – A mystery prize from https://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com/

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only (due to postage costs).

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 6th November 2017.

The winners will be notified within 7 days of the closing date.

 

Good luck! 🙂

 

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Final Post – My Urbane Blog Event

Well, my Urbane Blog Event is over.  I have really enjoyed doing it and I really don’t know where these past two weeks have gone.  I’ll let you all into a little secret now.  Whilst organising this event I had a few doubts.  I thought I had lost the ability to organise another blog event.  As it goes, it all went very well.

I’d like to thank all my fellow book bloggers, authors and of course the Urbane authors for taking the time and trouble to share my posts.  I really was and still am totally overwhelmed at all the support I got.  You Urbane authors really are like one big happy family.  I’d also like to thank Matthew Smith for providing me with the book extracts.  Long may your publishing business continue.

I have decided that I would really like to feature Urbane authors on my blog on a monthly basis, about two or three posts a month.  If your book is due to be published do feel free to get in touch with me anytime.  I am always open to hosting guest posts and doing interviews.  I will also be reviewing lots more books.

Thanks again everyone!

 

Love from Sonya xx

 

Book Review – ‘Reunited’ by Daniel Gothard

‘Reunited’ is Daniel Gothard’s second book to be published by Urbane Publications. It came out in October of last year and seems to have been getting some very good reviews. I bought a copy for my kindle.

It’s 2012. Ben Tallis is thirty-six years old, has achieved his ambition of becoming a journalist and he’s engaged to a very ambitious lawyer. But there seem to be a couple of problems within the relationship. When Ben receives an invitation to a 20 year old school reunion he really doesn’t want to go. By mistake he mentions the reunion to his editor who smells a great feature article and insists that Ben returns home, faces his past, and writes a feature on how much we change and yet in so many ways we stay the same. It doesn’t look like Ben has much choice. So he reluctantly returns home, re-engages with his past and realises that you can never run from the truth or who you really are. The reunion gets Ben thinking back to 1992 when he was still at school and his best friends, including one he was secretly in love with. How will Ben get on at the reunion? Well, that’s for you to find out.

I started reading this book straight after ‘Simon says’. Again, the cover is very retro and bright which is a good thing as it stands out. Having read and enjoyed Daniel Gothard’s first book I was looking forward to ‘Reunited’, although to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure how I would get on with it. My school days aren’t exactly something I like to think about and I would never even consider going to a reunion. As it goes I really enjoyed this book.

I think going back between the past and present worked extremely well. I did on a couple of occasions get a bit confused though, as in I thought I was still reading about Ben’s school days when in actual fact the story was back in the present. Maybe this is because I got hooked and wanted to know what happened next in Ben’s past. Ben and one of his best friends had a really hard time because of bullies. I think going back home and meeting people from his past really helped Ben to put things into perspective.

I am looking forward to reading future books by Daniel Gothard and will definitely be buying a copy of ‘Reunited’ in paperback to add to my collection.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

Links

‘Reunited’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/reunited/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reunited-Daniel-Gothard/dp/1911129546/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489950517&sr=8-1

 

Book Review – ‘Simon says’ by Daniel Gothard

‘Simon says’ was published by Urbane Publications at the beginning of last year. I read several different genres and as I liked the sound of this book I bought myself a copy.

Simon Templar was named after a suave and heroic man of action, but of course he’s nothing like him. Out with his future father-in-law who gets rather drunk, poor Simon really doesn’t expect the night to end the way it does. It seems his one chance of happiness has just been taken away from him. Everything has changed in an instant. Simon is determined however to rebuild his life, hopes and dreams.

With the help and support of his best friend Sean and some rather interesting dates, Simon goes on a personal journey of self-discovery. Can he learn to trust again and finally understand what the true meaning of love is?

I so like the cover for ‘Simon says’. It’s bright, it’s retro and it shouts out to you, saying “Buy Me!” This book is very different from any I have read in a while. I really liked Daniel Gothard’s style of writing and how text messages played a big part in the story. It did take me a bit of time to get into the story, but once in I found it enjoyable and couldn’t wait to get back to it. There were some really funny moments too. Surely only Simon could get into certain situations.

I really liked Simon and not just because he worked in a bookshop. When Simon learnt what he did from his soon to be father-in-law he was naturally angry and upset. There were two ways to look at things, but personally I didn’t blame Simon for feeling the way he did. He needed to go and lick his wounds, take some time out and decide what to do for the best. I was so glad that Simon had Sean to turn to.

‘Simon says’ takes an honest look at relationships, love, life, longing and friendship. It is proof that male authors can write really good rom-coms.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

‘Simon says’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/simon-says/

Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Simon-says-Daniel-Gothard/dp/1910692484/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451671468&sr=1-1&keywords=simon+says+daniel+gothard

 

Interview with Daniel Gothard

I can’t believe this is the very last day of my Urbane Blog Event.  Where has the time gone?  Today I have for you an interview with Daniel Gothard and then later on there will be reviews of both of his books.

 

You have so far had two novels published by Urbane Publications. For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about them please?

“Simon says” is a book about youth, love and the value of great friends – classic tenets of a lot of romantic comedy. I think what sets the novel apart, or so I’ve been told by various readers, is this type of story being from a male point-of-view – heartbreak, starting over, strong friendship … A few people have referred to the novel as “male chick-lit”.

“Reunited” is set in 1992 and 2012 – the story is told in a first-person narrative by Ben Tallis (aged 16 in ’92, at school, dealing with the death of his dad, and being in secret love with one of his best friends. And then in ’12, at 36, a journalist, going to a 20 year school reunion). The chapters go between the 2 time frames and seem to have worked well – reviews have been very positive (to date!)

 

What led you to write them?

I’ve written in various genres – even a 16,000 word 2nd person Dystopian short story! – and I’ve always loved rom-coms: “When Harry Met Sally”, “Four Weddings And A Funeral”, et al. I had the ideas in quick succession and had a really good time writing the books. Writing can be genuinely hard work, but these were a pleasure and I found myself smiling and laughing at my own references and comedic scenes. It was a bit pathetic!?

 

Where did you get your ideas from?

Ah, the BIG question. Probably watching too much TV, too many films and listening to too much music in the 1970s and 1980s! My head is full of useless cultural markers – but they come in handy sometimes. The actual moment of inception, when the idea happens – for me – is just something I can create. That reads as a bit arrogant, but it’s just a thing I’ve done since childhood.

 

Would you like to see either of your books made into a film or TV programme?

Oh yeah! Money, money, money!! And for a wider audience. Artistically, of course, most books don’t translate that well on to the screen. But I love film and TV, and there are some brilliant actors and directors around these days. It would be fantastic

 

What would you do if a character from one of your books knocked on your door?

Pretend I wasn’t home! I mean that wholeheartedly … They are nice enough people, I’m the misanthrope.

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

Yep. I’ve got 2 books out with literary agents and publishers, but the difficulty with success in the creative arts is always about ‘shifting product’. Quality naturally counts, but a publisher and/or a literary agent has to be VERY sure of you to take the financial risks. I’ve been hugely fortunate. YouGov found, in 2015, over 60% of the UK had writing as their dream-job. 98% of submissions are rejected – and there are, literally, thousands of submissions each week.

 

How easy was it to get published?

Not easy at all. 2013-present has been very busy and my publication rate looks very good. But I started learning the craft in 2000, got married, had a day job and have 3 kids. It’s been a very long process. You have to REALLY want to write, act, make music, etc. to succeed. And there are absolutely no guarantees.

 

Have you got any pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to write a book?

Look at my answer from the last question. Keep writing, read great, ‘difficult’ books, learn from the best, take chances. Don’t give up. As one of my bosses used to say, “You’re a long time dead. So get on with getting on.” Morbid but true!

 

Has social media been of much benefit to you?

Undoubtedly. I wouldn’t have met Matthew Smith – MD of Urbane Publications – without it. I wrote, as an arts correspondent, for After Nyne Magazine and met the editor, Claire Meadows (another Urbane Publications author) through Twitter. It has changed everything for me.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Watch great TV/films. Read those ‘difficult’ novels.

 

Describe your writing journey in three words.

Long. Tough. Fulfilling.

 

If you could do all this again, would you?

Absolutely!

 

Links

Twitter – @bookslifelove and @GOTHARDDANIEL

 

Interview with Guy Fraser-Sampson

It’s a pleasure to have Guy Fraser-Sampson on my blog.  Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Hampstead Murders series, I was really happy when Guy agreed to be interviewed for this event.

 

I’ve really enjoyed the first two books in the Hampstead Murders series. For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about your books please?

I’m glad you enjoyed the first two Hampstead Murders. They are intended more as a serial than a series, so it really is a great advantage to read them in the right order. The first, ‘Death in Profile’ describes the hunt for a serial killer. The second, ‘Miss Christie Regrets’ is partly about a cold case enquiry in which, it turns out, Agatha Christie may have been a key witness. The third, ‘A Whiff of Cyanide’, which features suspicious death at a convention of crime writers, is due out in June.

I am a great reader (up to about 200 books a year) but for a long time now I have found it difficult to read modern crime fiction as so much of it feels the same: either noir or cosy. So I deliberately set out to produce something “different”, and above all to write the sort of book I would like to read. Instead of a single central character there are various characters, who ebb and flow in prominence during the course of the series. Instead of a damaged character with drink, drugs or gambling problems these are likeable people about whom the reader will care “what happens next”. Instead of a bleak coastal location there is the sumptuously beautiful townscape of Hampstead.

The books have been described as quirky and intelligent. There are references, both overt and implied, to various Golden Age writers and detectives, most notably Lord Peter Wimsey. Without being in any way surreal, they do ask questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, as well as the role of synchronicity (extreme coincidence) in human affairs.

I have also given my characters real personal lives, with all the problems of love triangles, private tragedy, and police politics. The love triangle in particular is part of the “what happens next” syndrome!

 

Where did you get the idea for this series from?

Once I had decided (after an approach from a publisher I knew) to write a detective series it took me about two years to work out what sort of books they should be and to work out the plot of the first one. Initially I was strongly tempted to write period crime but ended up settling upon this exciting idea of combining a contemporary narrative with a Golden Age writing style, which I don’t think anyone else is doing. Adverbs, for example, seem to have gone entirely out of fashion!

Hampstead was always going to be part of the equation. I’m a strong believer in the importance of a sense of place within a novel. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, for example, that two of my favourite novels are ‘Midnight’s Children’ and ‘The Alexandria Quartet’. So I knew I wanted something that could play the role of Oxford for Morse or Hastings Old Town for Foyle, and Hampstead was the obvious candidate, partly because it’s so beautiful and partly because I knew it so well.

 

Did you have to do any research at all?

I’ve always done a huge amount of research for my books. The Hampstead Murders, along with my Mapp and Lucia novels, feature real life people and events and it’s very important to get these absolutely right: Dorothy L Sayers made the point that if a reader spots a factual mistake then it weakens their suspension of disbelief so far as the plot is concerned. For ‘Miss Christie Regrets’, for example, I did a lot of research into the history of the Lawn Road Flats (the Isokon Building). A lot of real life people feature – Jack Pritchard and Wells Coates for instance – though I did change the name of the Oxbridge don who was recruiting foreign agents there …

 

Would you like to see your books made into a TV series and if so who would you choose to play the main parts?

Yes, I’ve always seen the Hampstead Murders as a TV series, which is partly why I chose the temporal format which I did. People love to watch period drama but it’s very costly to make. This way the production company gets the best of both worlds. It’s contemporary drama, so they don’t have to worry about covering up TV aerials or filming at four in the morning, but with themes like vintage clothing embedded within it, so we can still get to admire people in elegant outfits.

As for casting, I’m afraid the poor old author gets no say whatsoever in this. Look at the recent ‘Mapp and Lucia’ series for a perfect example. When you sign over the screen rights you’re essentially selling your children into slavery. You just have to walk away and not look back.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?

Year round I write in my study, which overlooks Spike Milligan’s grave in the graveyard of St Thomas’s church in Winchelsea. During the summer I do like to get out into the garden whenever I can. Ambience is very important to me. I have always found it difficult to do work of any description in unsympathetic surroundings.

 

How did you come to be published by Urbane Publications?

It’s no great secret that the Hampstead Murders were originally going to be published by somebody else, but they pulled out of issuing any new fiction titles just before we were due to go to print. Naturally at the time I was not very amused by this, but in fact things worked out pretty well.

I spent about a year trying to find a new publisher, and had some interesting responses. One described it as ‘a love letter to the detective novel’ but then perversely went on to give this as a reason for turning it down. Ironically, the very unique positioning which I had decided upon worked against it rather than in its favour. Nobody was prepared to take a risk on publishing something “different” despite the fact that my last three novels had all been optioned by BBC television.

Then I met (or rather re-met) Matthew at Urbane and everything fell into place. He had run Kogan Page when they published a book for me, and as soon as he read ‘Death in Profile’ he instantly “got it” about what I was trying to do, and has just been the ideal publisher. He’s very supportive, and encourages his writers to do what feels right for them.

 

You’ve also written a number of non-fiction books. Can you tell me a bit about them please?

I fear many of them would not appeal to the general reader as the early ones tended to be about finance and investment. The ones I would recommend are:

‘Cricket at the Crossroads’: telling the human story of what happened to the English Test side between 1967 and 1977.

‘The Mess We’re In’: a darkly humorous analysis of recent British economic history.

‘No Fear Finance’: de-mystifying finance for the general reader and explaining it in conceptual terms rather than getting bogged down in mathematics.

 

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

Go into it with your eyes open. Be prepared for a great deal of rejection, criticism and disappointment. If you can’t handle this then please don’t try, because you will end up just making yourself very unhappy and possibly even ill. Honestly, I know personally some writers who have ended up with severe depression and other mental illnesses as a result of what being a writer has put them through.

The perception is that you get your book published (a hugely difficult thing to accomplish in the first place) and then wake up famous. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that. The hard work hasn’t ended, it has only just begun. Now you have the task of promoting your book, because generally speaking if you don’t, then nobody else will.

Something else that people don’t appreciate is that you risk losing a lot of friends as well. Writers are obsessed with their book: they have to be. Our friends are not: it’s just a peripheral thing at best. We, understandably, expect them to buy copies of our book for themselves and their friends and family, to praise it fulsomely to complete strangers, to attend our events, and post reviews of it online. They, equally understandably, don’t see things that way; it just doesn’t occur to them how important it is to us. Although, a quick tip for any writers’ friends out there: please don’t ever, under any circumstances, say to a writer “I’d love to read your book – can you give me a copy?”

 

Will you be doing more book signings?

I love doing book signings, particularly as part of book festivals, because it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet real life readers and get feedback about what they liked and (just as important) what they didn’t. In fact, I happen to believe that there is a lot of untapped potential out there for writers, readers, and booksellers to interact much more efficiently than they do at present.

Events I am particularly looking forward to are Deal Noir on 26 March, Southwold on 17/18 June, and a crime fiction evening at Heffer’s bookshop in Cambridge on 6 July. For lovers of my Mapp and Lucia books, I will be part of the Rye Festival in September. I mention these because they are open to the general public. I’m also doing various private functions including speaking to various London clubs as well as the Womens’ Institute.

Readers are welcome to contact me at any time to investigate a mutually convenient event. Ditto anyone who would like to organise something.

 

How have book bloggers helped you

Oh my word, massively. The big publishers have a very cosy arrangement with the traditional national media which means indie authors can’t get reviewed there no matter how good they may be. So social media such as book blogs are our life blood, our only real route to a wider readership.

The really great thing about book bloggers is that they are serious readers so their opinions really matter. Getting a recommendation from a book blogger always gives me a real buzz, particularly when they say something that makes me realise that they have absolutely understood exactly what I was trying to achieve.

 

Facebook or Twitter?

I disagree with various writers about Facebook. I think you have to be really careful not to push your books on it too frequently. For me, one mention every couple of days is plenty, although I don’t think anyone minds you posting about events, whether before, during or after. I think people will find anything more than that intrusive, and you risk them unfollowing you.

Twitter is different and I use it a lot, sending tweets to targeted users who have shown an interest in, say, Golden Age detective fiction (or Hampstead!).

So, Twitter for me, although a lady called Laura Stone (@minxlaura123) has recently got me thinking about video blogs. She recently reviewed ‘Miss Christie Regrets’ on a live video feed and had several thousand hits.

 

Wine or Champagne?

Wine, please, and lots of it – preferably new world reds. I have no intention of dying sober.

 

Links

‘Death in Profile’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/death-in-profile/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Profile-Hampstead-Murders-no1/dp/191069293X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458486555&sr=1-1&keywords=death+in+profile

‘Miss Christie Regrets’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/miss-christie-regrets/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Miss-Christie-Regrets-Guy-Fraser-Sampson/1911331809/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484164698&sr=1-1&keywords=miss+christie+regrets

‘A Whiff of Cyanide’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whiff-Cyanide-Book-Hampstead-Murders/dp/1911129767/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489860093&sr=1-1&keywords=a+whiff+of+cyanide

 

Extract from ‘Glass Houses’ by Jackie Buxton

Following on from Jackie Buxton’s guest post, I now have an extract from ‘Glass Houses’.

 

Book Blurb

‘When she sent that text, all our lives changed for ever…’

51 year old Tori Williams’ life implodes when she sends a text while driving on the M62 motorway and allegedly causes the horrific crash in which three people die. Public and press are baying for her blood, but Tori is no wallflower and refuses to buckle under their pressure or be a pariah in society. Instead, she sets about saving the nation. But can she save Etta, the woman who saved her life? Or will Etta’s secret be her downfall?

This incredibly topical and contemporary morality tale appeals across generations and will find favour with fans of authors such as Liane Moriarty, Marian Keyes and Kathryn Croft.

 

Extract

Extract from ‘Glass Houses’

Guest Post by Jackie Buxton

Well, my Urbane Blog Event is almost over but I still have a few more posts.  Jackie Buxton took part in my event last year and I am thrilled to have her back on my blog again.  Jackie has written a guest post this time.

 

Glass Houses: the Unexpected Campaign

In the first chapter of Glass Houses, Tori Williams is slumped over the steering wheel after her Jeep has collided with the car in front. We quickly learn that moments before Tori crashed, she had sent a text to her husband reminding him to put the chicken in the oven.

Recently, I’ve taken to putting my phone in my bag on the back seat so that it’s totally out of reach when I’m driving. This is not because I consider myself some sort of model driver, nor is it because I’m some evangelical, holier-than-thou do-gooder, it’s because of the research I did for this novel.

Through the course of writing Glass Houses (where Tori Williams quickly becomes Public Enemy Number One, blamed for all the deaths in the collision, and has to fight to change public perception of her) I became consumed with the world of road traffic accidents. I spoke to police, other members of the emergency services, people who’d emerged from a coma and the loved ones of those who hadn’t. I read about victims of road traffic accidents and the stories of those behind the crash, and the more I read, the more I became convinced that there could never be a good reason to use a phone in the car. Your life, or someone else’s life, it just isn’t worth it, is it?

Many people have either said or posted in reviews, that because of reading Glass Houses, they would never now pick up their phone when driving, whether to speak or to text. I hadn’t expected this when I wrote the first words of Glass Houses, nor when I’d finished the first draft, not even when I had the very first copies in my hands. But I am so happy to hear this now.

My eldest child passed her driving test last summer and my youngest is about to start learning. It occurred to me that if we could start this young generation of drivers off on the right foot, instil from the start that there is no place for the phone at the wheel, then they could carry this practice forward, set the right example, put other generations to shame, and change a nation’s attitudes to phones in cars for ever.

I’m not saying this will be easy. I hear it all on radio phone-ins: Impossible! Nobody will manage it! We need our phones for work, for emergencies, to call our loved ones!

But I think it is possible, because this kind of change in a nation’s thinking happens all the time.

Back in the glorious 1970s when children played outside until they were hungry and walked to school on their own as soon as they could tie their shoe laces, back when they ate frozen mousse in a pot full of chemicals and when Wagon Wheels were bigger, I remember my three sisters and I playing Moving Houses. This was our game of choice on any car journey longer than ten minutes or so. Indeed, my abiding memory of the vast stretch of the eight hour journey from Wylam in Northumberland to Bridgend in South Wales for our annual summer holiday with our welsh relatives, was of our feet hovering six inches above the footwell, hands in laps, in Moving Houses position.

It wasn’t until much later in life that I realised this wasn’t a game entirely confined to my family – in fact, most of my peers seemed to have played it – this game involving great whoops of laughter as our orange Skoda saloon, weighted down with children and luggage, took a corner a little tightly and one, if not all of us, would lose that particular round as a foot inevitably touched the floor.

It’s incredible to me that this falling about in the back of the car happened in my life time. When I’d looked back on it previously, before I’d done any research for Glass Houses, I’d surmised that four girls between the ages of 7 and 12, wedged so tightly on the back seat, wouldn’t be going anywhere in a crash; even getting out of the car once stopped, it was difficult to move until others had detached themselves from the line. However, I’ve since seen the videos of simulated accidents and know that come crash, we’d have been lucky if all of us hadn’t careered out of the front windscreen, killing our parents en route. I heard that an unrestrained child in the back of the car would have the force of a baby elephant as it propelled forward and through the screen.

We know this now. And thus, after many unsuccessful attempts, seatbelt wearing in the front and back of the car has been compulsory since 1983 and 1986. I’m surprised it was as late as that but still, it’s a long time since I’ve seen anybody who doesn’t Clunk Click Every Trip.

I was too young to notice, but there were clearly many people and organisations protesting against a legal obligation to wear seat belts in the seventies and eighties, and I’m sure there were many others who recognised the need but didn’t believe that a nation could change its thinking.

And yet it did.

I think that we can get rid of mobile phones from the front of cars. And if Glass Houses can help persuade people to do this, although that was never my original intention, nobody would be happier about that than me.

Are you with me?

 

Links

‘Glass Houses’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/glass-houses/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Glass-Houses-Jackie-

‘Tea & Chemo’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/tea-and-chemo-fighting-cancer-living-life/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tea-Chemo-Fighting-Cancer-Living-Life/dp/1910692395/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448719909&sr=1-1&keywords=tea+and+chemo+by+jackie+buxton

Jackie Buxton’s Blog – http://jackiebuxton.blogspot.com

Jackie Buxton’s Website – http://www.jackiebuxton.com

Interview with Patrick Garratt

It’s time for another interview now.  Patrick Garratt’s debut novel, ‘Deg’ was published last year and I asked him all about it.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your book, ‘Deg’ please?

Deg is screen culture paranoia, anarchic politics and drug exploration written in an automatic, surrealist style. I wrote it in a fit of desperation I doubt I could ever replicate. The diary element to its method set the form of my further books, but it now seems that opinion and inspiration based on imaginary input will alway be subservient to reportage for me. Deg was likely a once in a lifetime event.

 

Is this a book you’ve always wanted to write?

In a way, I suppose. I’d been working on another novel called The Ooning, which I eventually canned after two rewrites, and was spending a lot of time reading twentieth century postmodernism. That these authors could write as they pleased, with little thought for the traditional notion of readability, was revelatory. In that sense I’d always wanted to write Deg. I was just ignorant of the fact.

 

Where did you get your ideas for it from?

Deg is my life story, a psychedelic diary. Thematically it’s a product of my family’s environment at the time of writing. Roughly three years before I wrote Deg we’d emigrated from the UK to Corrèze, a rural department in the Limousin region of southwest France. My wife and I lived in a huge house surrounded by forests with our three small children. Corrèze is so sparsely populated that it’s possible to get back to nature in a way I didn’t realise still existed in western Europe, and I allowed myself to start using cannabis again after a long abstinence from any drugs at all, including alcohol. The result was explosive. I just let it come out.

 

How long did it take you to write?

I wrote the first draft in around three months. It was a little like vomiting.

 

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Absolutely, yeah. As I said, it’s a thinly-veiled diary.

 

What was the publication process like for you?

A little bizarre, but ultimately amazing. I tried to get Deg published via the traditional route of finding an agent, but, unsurprisingly, it got rejected everywhere. I’d moved onto writing the next book, and had given up reasonable hope of seeing Deg published at all. On the advice of a friend I approached video game artist Ste Pickford to draw the cover as a precursor to self-publication, and he liked it so much he decided to illustrate every chapter. I saw Matthew Smith, Urbane’s boss, requesting book pitches on Twitter, and he showed immediate interest.

From then the process was incredibly relaxed. Matthew is eminently professional and I couldn’t be happier with the result. The hardback really is a thing of beauty, from the physical materials to the reproduction of Ste’s drawings, and that’s all I could have hoped for. Being published by Urbane was a great experience.

 

Have you got any good advice for anyone wishing to write a novel?

Jeepers. So much of this depends on your goals. Many people approach writing as a career, as a job. There’s a financial element to it, as in they want to make money from novels. They attend seminars and buy places on courses and do degrees in creative writing and whatever else, eventually (hopefully) becoming trained in the creation of commercial fiction. If that’s what you want, then off you go. There’s an entire coaching industry waiting for your cash.

I always wanted to be a literary author, meaning the route to success is far muddier. The truth is that if you “want to be a writer” then you must write. Write anything, everything, in any way you want, but you must be productive. Embrace your fear and write your brain, not someone else’s. Don’t worry about making money or getting published or getting an agent. Just be as good as you can be, and that means a constant striving for personal betterment, for self-tuition and the overcoming of internal struggle. If you want to create art then learn art. Allowing yourself to be the person you want to be, to be you, could well be the hardest thing you ever do, but you’ll only reach your core by remorselessly breaching personal barriers. Stop giving a shit about the opinions of others. You won’t be recognised for replication.

To give an example. While I was working on the book following Deg, I lapsed into quite a serious period of self-doubt (yes, this is normal: few people are more pitiable than unpublished novelists), and signed myself up for a distance learning course in novel-writing. After I’d completed the first lesson, part of which was to outline my goals as a writer, the tutor told me I would never secure an agent or a deal if my work wasn’t “accessible”. Urbane signed Deg the following week. I never got round to lesson two.

 

Are you working on any other writing projects?

It never stops. I’ve written two full novels since Deg and I’m about to start another.

 

Have any authors influenced your work and if so, who?

The more experimental twentieth century postmodernists, such as Gaddis, Burroughs, Ballard, Acker and Pynchon, have heavily influenced me. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition (it’s noteworthy as I read it just before starting writing Deg) showed me how strange fiction could be, that writing could be powerful as a result of being simultaneously formless and structured. It had a strong impact on my work.

I’m starting to read more theatre and poetry. Fiona, my wife, just passed a Masters in translation studies (with distinction, I should add: I’m very proud to be married to a genius), and she focused on Peter Weiss’s Holocaust play The Investigation for her dissertation. This type of experimental form is currently interesting me as I’ve been fixated with novel-length fiction up to now. I’ve also just finished a collection of Daniil Kharms’s poems and plays, something completely different from my usual reading. Some of his pieces are so beautiful, so insightful. It’s hard to not be influenced by him.

 

How long have you been a journalist for?

Forever. I started working as a video gaming journalist in 1998.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

We now live in the Vosges, a mountain region in the northeast of France, so I’m able to ski when there’s snow and go mountain biking when there isn’t. I work out a lot. Travelling is becoming a lot more important to me, and, obviously, I love to read.

 

If you were only allowed to own two books what would they be?

Probably Infinite Jest and Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. Ibbotson’s my children’s’ favourite author, so it’d always remind me of when they were young. I’d take Infinite Jest because I still haven’t read the endnotes. I’m such a fraud.

 

Links

‘Deg’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/deg/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deg-Patrick-Garratt/dp/1911129481/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489694327&sr=1-1

Patrick Garratt’s Personal Website – https://patrickgarratt.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/patlike

Deg Illustrator Ste Pickford’s Instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/stepickford/

Guest Post by Adam Steiner

I would like to introduce you all to Adam Steiner.  His debut novel, ‘Politics of The Asylum’ is out this autumn.   Adam has written a guest post for this event.

 

Notes From the Abyss

Politics of The Asylum (PoTA), forthcoming from Urbane (Autumn 2017), is a nightmare vision of the modern NHS. Based on the author’s own experiences, the novel tells the story of a hospital in decline through the eyes of a downtrodden cleaner, Nathan Finewax. As things fall apart accidents, mistakes and cover-ups are on the rise and Nathan becomes institutionalised by hospital routines, finding it harder to escape his circumstances and the inevitable fate of one day becoming a patient himself.

I wrote Politics of The Asylum with a clear goal in mind: I wanted to provide a critique of the NHS pushed to breaking point, based upon some of my own experiences working as a hospital cleaner. I started writing the book back in 2013, and it has become ever more prescient in the intervening years.

My pervading memory is a Proustian hangover of bleach. Endless bleach, washing and re-washing surfaces, day in and day out, life reduced to the mode of repetition – which ultimately made me question what the staff and patients were living for. This sounds very OTT, but at the time, I was trapped in a very debauched and damaging cycle of early-morning work and mad, wild evenings driving around country lanes of the Warwickshire hinterland, trying to find something to do and somewhere meaningful to go, with not enough sleep and steadily going out of my mind. Needless to say, there were many scrapes and much unpleasantness, but I’m glad to say I came through it, more or less undamaged, but I remember everything – and what I experienced went straight into the book. Names are changed, identities erased and the real fictionalised; in an ironic meta-sense, I’ve been as paranoiac and controlling as the NHS itself. And I’ve tried to be as respectful and secretive as I can to the dead and the damaged – but without pulling the teeth from the book.

From a political, that is to say, personal, standpoint – I believe that if we are to call ourselves a democratic society, one of our most important is to critique and question the political and civil state in which we live. So it should be with the NHS – it is an institution more meaningful to our daily lives than any monarchy could ever hope to perform – although I expect they go private – which makes them the enemy, or at least part of the problem.

The people who work as part of the NHS, dedicating their lives in order to help others, are, in my view, a form of civil servant – they have chosen this role, and with it comes certain expectations – the most crucial being the duty of care. This applies to frontline, hands-on staff, but also to all administrative bodies, up to the highest managers and directors – they would do well to remember this.

In any large organisation there is always corruption, maladjustment and the power of ego corrupted by power. And while I have to emphasise that the majority of NHS staff are excellent people with the right intentions; the purposeful dismantling of the NHS by the current occupying government is the major source of the rot which has created a climate of fear and decline in NHS behaviour and standards. I have experienced staff pushed to breaking point, attacked by the media and deliberately undermined by the state. Ultimately, this leads me to a wider philosophical concept, that undermines the unity of the NHS, the Death of Affect.

One of the major themes of my book is the nature of power relationships between individual beings; from the level of atomic exchanges of heat and energy, people pushing and shoving, and psychological manipulation of patients, staff and civilians – all of which reside in power – a preoccupation of the French philosopher, Michel Foucault. He argued that through completing an archaeological account of social and civic institutions, hospitals, asylums etc. we can draw an arrow of time through to the present, and re-evaluate how we live now. So far, so straight edge.

The minutiae of these day-to-day power relationships is embodied in the simplest of tasks; from handing a thirsty person a glass of water, listening to the lubb-dupp of their heartbeat or helping them to the toilet. These are acts of kindness, driven by duty and obligation of a role – but ultimately, these individuals are motivated by their ability to be affected by the plight and need of others. The NHS staff member is placed in an intimate position of power and responsibility, they are faced with options in their daily lives, hard choices to be made; and must make decisions of how and when to act – or not.

Death of affect is comparable to the lack of empathy present in sociopathic mindsets and psychopathological traits; where people see no need to act, let alone care, in order to help others. The pressure and pejorative scrutiny placed upon NHS staff creates this same deadening of affect – creates a failure to care or to act to the utmost of their abilities – engendering a return to the state of nature and sheer individualism – it is in this environment in which cruelty breeds and failure is accepted as a day-to-day occurrence. It is this schism in human nature, these internal tensions that are throttling the NHS that my novel explores, challenges and struggles to find the answers to.

Adam Steiner, 2017.

 

Interview with PJ Whiteley

I am delighted to have PJ Whiteley back on my blog.  His new book, ‘Marching on Together’ was published last month and I asked him all about it.

 

As you know I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Marching on Together’ when it was a work in progress.  For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about it please?

Thanks Sonya. Marching on Together is about belonging, family and memory, with a hint of romance. A short description would be: ‘Last Orders meets Fever Pitch’. It follows six Leeds United supporters, two of them brothers, on a sojourn to Bruges and the Flanders battlefields in August 2014, for the centenary of the start of the First World War. Yvonne, a central character, has cause to reflect on how a sporting controversy from 1975 continues to haunt her. She was caught up in some post-match violence after a major final, then a transport strike; the combination knocked her young life off course, for reasons that become clearer as you read the book. At the age of 56 in 2014, she has the opportunity to reflect, but also, finally, to move on.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

I love to combine depth and humour, and to have characters reflect on the most profound matters in quite mundane settings. Other writers can do war, murder and tragedy; I’m more fascinated by how a seemingly small turn of events can alter our life course, and even how we view the world, a bit like in the movie Sliding Doors. Sport and a sense of identity and belonging are also fascinating themes for me.

 

Are you a sports fan?

Yes, and I like to explore the comedy and tension that can lie when one person is devoted to a sport and their significant other is not! In Marching on Together I invert the stereotype because Yvonne is the obsessive football watcher and her husband becomes disenchanted, and feels left out. In Bruges, she has a bit of an argument with a German football fan, but then discovers he loves the band Genesis, and they bond over that. Plus, she fancies him.

 

What do you hope readers will get from ‘Marching on Together’?

I’ve had some very positive feedback, and strong start to sales; I think people engage with the characters. There’s drama in the fine line that can separate good and bad fortune in life – whether it’s on the football field or in your love life.

 

What would you do if one of your characters knocked on your door?

They wouldn’t dare: I know too much about them 😉

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

Yes. I will write books for as long as I’m breathing. The third novel is called The Rooms We Never Enter, and it’s a spin-off from Marching on Together; it’s a romance, and there’s only a little sport this time!

 

Can you describe Urbane Publications in twenty words?

Urbane Publications is an innovative, independent publisher that dares to publish original voices and empowers authors. It deserves success.

 

How has social media helped you?

Facebook and Twitter are essential for an author, when you don’t have a huge publicity budget. You can build a readership, and engage with existing readers.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

From my first magazine editor Roy (can’t remember his surname), in 1988: ‘Tell such a strong story, in such an elegant style, that the reader doesn’t notice it’s written; they’re just caught up in the narrative.’

 

If you had a second chance at life would you still write books?

Yes, and I would start at a younger age.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

I love a lot of the greats: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens. I’d like to give special mention to two very underrated post-war British authors: David Lodge and David Nobbs, whom I’ve sought to emulate in combining humour and depth. Javier Marias is an astounding author, so is Donna Tartt and Louis de Bernieres.

 

If you were only allowed one book on your bookcase what would it be?

La Peste, by Albert Camus, still the finest novel I’ve ever read: poetic, beautiful, bleak in its description of the harshness of fate, yet heart-warming in its portrayal of human friendship, funny and astonishingly profound, philosophically and politically.

 

 

Links

‘Marching on Together’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/marching-on-together/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marching-Together-P-J-Whiteley/dp/1911129333/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489606690&sr=1-1

‘Close of Play’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/close-of-play/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Close-Play-Philip-Whiteley-ebook/dp/B01080YEAI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458070338&sr=1-1&keywords=close+of+play

Website – http://www.whiteleywords.com/

Blog – http://felipewh.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @Felipewh

Extract from ‘The Prague Ultimatum’ by James Silvester

It’s time now for a taster from ‘The Prague Ultimatum’.  I hope you all enjoy it.

 

Book Blurb

Fear stalks the newly reunified Czechoslovakia, the terror wrought by international terrorism and violent extremists overshadowing the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Prague Spring, and threatening to burn the country in its wake.

Into this arena steps Captain Lincoln Stone, a disgraced British officer, humiliatingly scapegoated by his government for his role in the disastrous on-going Syrian Conflict. Plucked from his purgatory, Stone is teased with exoneration by British Foreign Secretary Jonathan Greyson, in return for his ‘off the books’ aid of Czechoslovak Prime Minister, Miroslava Svobodova. Stone, resentful of his treatment and determined to prove himself, is driven by deeper motives than the casual platitudes of his superiors, and finds himself at the epicentre as the country descends into chaos.

Cut off from the international community and isolated in the face of an expansionist Russia, and with the sinister Institute for European Harmony ever present behind the scenes, Czechoslovakia’s fate, and that of the world, hangs on the outcome to the Prague Ultimatum.

 

Extract

Extract from ‘The Prague Ultimatum’

 

Guest Post by James Silvester

I would like to welcome James Silvester back to my blog.  His new book, ‘The Prague Ultimatum’ is out on the 13th April.  James has written a guest post for this event.

~~~~~

A huge thanks firstly to Sonya for kindly allowing me back onto her site, and thanks also to Matthew at Urbane Publications for his continuing confidence in me.

Getting the nod from your publisher that he wants to commission your second book and that you need to start work is like downing a cocktail composed of wildly different elements.

First is the elation; sheer and complete. The idea that your work has been well received and the bloke you’ve been working so hard to impress has enough belief in your ability to invest in a future offering, brings with it a joy of a kind all its own. But shortly afterwards, once that has sunk in, comes the clawing spectre of self-doubt along with all its nagging chums. Whereas your first book might well have been written over several years, without deadlines or pressures other than those self-imposed, this time it’s a different kettle of fish. Now there is someone investing in you, both with money and time, and along with the investment comes expectation, deadlines and the deeply ingrained worry that you’re not really up to this…

Of course, you ultimately pull yourself together and crack on, but there’s no denying that some of the challenges are just that little bit harder this time; and this is nowhere more apparent than when designing your new characters. My second book, The Prague Ultimatum, serves as a sequel to 2015’s Escape To Perdition, although not so blindly that it can’t be read as a stand-alone story. But even though a number of characters make return appearances, the focus is on someone entirely new, and putting the pieces of the new protagonist together was one of the most challenging aspects of the entire process.

While in some respects it would be nice to slip back into writing for a familiar and established character, one for whom you have already developed a back story, motivations and relationships, in this case (all spoilers aside) it simply wasn’t an option. This new book required a new Lead, someone who could view the landscape with fresh eyes, less attuned to the political intricacies and moral ambiguities than Peter Lowe, the anti-hero of Escape To Perdition. I needed someone who could fill the role of a Stranger in a Strange Land, someone above the political intrigue and dark deeds that typify the espionage genre, and desperate to remain so. Rather than a repentant spy, ashamed of himself and his work in an unseen and murderous underworld, the story called for an honourable character, used to fighting his battles in more open territory; unwilling to be corrupted by the seedy world he has been thrust into, but slowly being overpowered by it nonetheless.

One of the questions I was often asked after my first book was how much of ‘me’ was there in the main character, and the truth is a sometimes disappointing ‘bits and pieces.’ Peter Lowe certainly shares my tastes in sixties music and fashion, and I can certainly give in to the occasional foul mood and desire for the odd tipple, but the character wasn’t intended as some sort of literary reflection. Besides which, I’m not sure a thriller about a balding writer with an ever expanding waistline, would make for good reading… If I’m honest, I’m guilty of peppering several characters with a few more ‘bits and pieces’ of myself and that’s true as well of The Prague Ultimatum’s chief protagonist, Captain Lincoln Stone, though I hope not in a self-serving or obtrusive way.

Though the story is fictional, it draws heavily on the political realities of today’s world, with the tensions and crises that occupy it very much present, whether in the form of international terrorism, populism or political instability. As must we all, Stone has little choice but to adapt to these tensions if he is to survive and move on, and he does so by falling back on his military training and experience. But as precarious as the international situation fast becomes, nothing is as important to Stone as the personal crisis he daily struggles with, having been unfairly scapegoated by his government and desperate to prove his honour to the world, and more importantly, to his son.

Putting together a new cast of characters is always a challenge; trying to keep them fresh and engaging enough to hold the reader’s interest and carry the story often feels a somewhat gargantuan task. The rewards though, when reading a kind review or listening to people’s reactions to characters, speak for themselves, and hard though it sometimes it, it’s a challenge I hope I never tire of.

And while Captain Stone fast becomes an essential cog in the mix, I hope his reactions and motivations reflect those of a good many readers in coming to terms with the issues of the day.

 

Links

‘The Prague Ultimatum’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-prague-ultimatum/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prague-Ultimatum-James-Silvester/dp/1911331388/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489603671&sr=1-1&keywords=the+prague+ultimatum

‘Escape to Perdition’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/escape-to-perdition/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Escape-Perdition-Could-nation-himself-ebook/dp/B01GW71G70/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489603846&sr=1-2

Twitter – @JamesSilvester

 

Extract from ‘The Man Who Played Trains’ by Richard Whittle

Did you enjoy my interview with Richard Whittle?  I’ve now got an extract from ‘The Man Who Played Trains’ for you to read.

 

Book Blurb

Mining engineer John Spargo is distraught when his mother is attacked in her home and later dies from her injuries. Her home has been ransacked. Determined to track down her killer and discover the truth behind her death, John finds a connection between his late father’s wartime mine and the wreck of a U-Boat. The connection deepens when he discovers the diaries of the U-Boat captain and a wartime mission to spirit Göring to safety along with a fortune in stolen art. When John’s daughter Jez is kidnapped, he is contacted by a mysterious consortium her life hangs in the balance unless he can find the stolen art. What is the link with his father’s abandoned mine? Who was the U-Boat captain? Did he survive and hide Göring’s treasures? John races against time to discover the truth…and in doing so may unearth secrets that were better left buried…

 

Extract

Extract from ‘The Man Who Played Trains’

 

Interview with Richard Whittle

I’m delighted to have Richard Whittle on my blog.  His new book, ‘The Man Who Played Trains’ is being published next month.  I asked Richard some questions.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘The Man Who Played Trains’ please?

The Man Who Played Trains is a crime novel and thriller in which two stories, apparently separate, run side by side. In one, mining engineer John Spargo is distraught when his mother is attacked in her home and later dies from her injuries. In the other, wartime U-boat captain Theodor Volker, on leave after a gruelling mission, is accosted by a stranger while waiting for a train to take him to the south of Germany to see his young son.

Though the stories appear to be separate, the reader gradually becomes aware of connections between them. John Spargo, desperate to understand who murdered his mother, and why, finds a link between his late mine-manager father’s wartime mine and the wreck of a U-boat found off the Scottish coast. The connection deepens when he discovers the diaries of the U-Boat captain and a wartime mission to spirit Göring to safety, along with a fortune in stolen art.

A mysterious consortium contacts John to say they have abducted his daughter, Jez. Unless he can meet their unreasonable demands, her life is at risk.

 

When I first saw the cover I was fascinated by it and I still am.  Where do those steps lead to?

The Man Who Played Trains has two main characters. Both are ‘underground men’. John Spargo is a mining engineer. The steps might well represent John Spargo about to come out from darkness in so many different ways. Also, perhaps, Theodor Volker emerging from a basement in Berlin. Or, possibly, from Hermann Göring’s Carinhall bunker…

 

Where did you get the idea for this book from?

This is a difficult one, and quite personal. Before WW2 my mother had a German boyfriend, the son of a ship’s captain. Just before the outbreak of war her father banned her from seeing him. I believe the boyfriend died in the war. I have often wondered what would have happened had my mother married that first boyfriend (apart from me being years older than I am now!). Having said all that, The Man Who Played Trains is not in the least bit autobiographical. Nor is it a war story. You asked me where I got the idea from. You will have to read the book to find out how that little bit of history fits the plot.

 

How long did it take you to write?

Several years ago, before setting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to write The Man Who Played Trains, I did almost a year of background research. Then, after drafting around 50,000 words, I put it aside and started another novel, returning to The Man Who Played Trains some months later. It is difficult to say how long it took to write, as I rewrote it at least twice.

I always have two or three novels in the pipeline, revisiting them every few months to add chapters and to revise and rewrite. Writing this way has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that I seldom get ‘writers’ block’. Almost invariably, in the intervening months, the next part of the set-aside novel has developed in my head. Another advantage is that when I restart, I have to read, and therefore edit, everything that I have written so far – though some would call that a disadvantage. Happily, it seems to work for me.

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

I am always in my characters’ heads. I have to be, it is the only way I can see what they see, think what they think, and say what they say. I try to make my lead characters ‘victims of circumstance’, who become entangled in situations not of their own making. From a professional point of view I can relate to John Spargo: as a geologist and engineer I spent time working underground, in mines, tunnels and caverns.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?

Always in coffee shops, seldom at home. I have a favourite café in a small, family-run garden centre south of Edinburgh, where they leave me alone and let me write.

 

Would you say that you are a people watcher?

Not really. I am more of a people rememberer. I have been a policeman, a diesel engine tester, a mature student, an engineering geologist and director. I can recall situations, individuals and conversations, even from way back. It is rather like having my own Aladdin’s Cave.

 

What has your experience of getting published been like?

The Man Who Played Trains will be published by Urbane Publications this April. Matthew Smith and his staff at Urbane have been a godsend because they have taken away the pressure I felt when I self-published my first novel, Playpits Park, with Amazon. For that novel I formatted the whole book, I even designed the cover. My previous attempts to find a publisher had elicited responses such as this does not fit with our current list. Or, more often, it is difficult to place your work in any genre…

 

Will there be any more books?

Undoubtedly. I am writing two others. In no way are they alike. Depending on my mood, I bounce between them. Is that weird? Maybe, but it works for me.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

Just keep writing! – advice given to me by Ian Rankin when he presented me with a prize when I was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

Kate Atkinson, Michael Connelly, Graham Greene, John Grisham, Robert Harris, Shona Maclean, Peter May, Ian Rankin. Note the alphabetical order, not order of preference.

 

Do you actually like trains?

I have always been interested in engines of all kinds. Like many boys of my generation I was a ‘train spotter’, standing on railway station platforms, ticking off engine numbers in a small book. Modern diesel and electric trains do not appeal to me in the same way.

Despite my novel’s title, railways play a very small part in the story, though the small part they play is crucial to the plot. Also, the man who played trains is not John Spargo…

 

Links

Amazon: https://goo.gl/a4lWwY

Waterstones: https://goo.gl/8riR5d

Urbane: http://urbanepublications.com/book_author/richard-whittle/

Richard Whittle’s blog:  https://playpitspark.wordpress.com/

Richard’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/richard1whittle

 

 

 

Guest Post by Rose McGinty

Rose McGinty’s debut novel, ‘Electric Souk’ is out on the 23rd March.  I am absolutely thrilled to have Rose on my blog today with a guest post.

 

Electric Souk by Rose McGinty

This is my first piece about Electric Souk for a blog review and I am delighted it is for Sonya’s site as her love of reading shines from the screen and she is such a supporter of new writers. Sonya asked me what inspired my story and to say something of my travels. I really enjoyed thinking back to my time in the desert and I hope you enjoy a glimpse into that world too.

Electric Souk started out as a letter home – from the desert. I had taken a job in the health service in the Middle East.  The day started early and finished by 1pm.  Now, I had always craved living in a culture where you could while away the afternoon in dreams. But I was somewhere that so saturated the senses that sleep was impossible. So while the desert afternoon was still I wrote a diary and long letters home, based on  my entries.

My letters at first documented nights in the shisha-smoky souk, or the bizarre scraps I found myself in as a lone, white, western woman. Such as the time when I had a meeting with the Director of the ambulance service and was given the typically hazy desert directions of ‘Go to the hospital and her office is next to the line-up of ambulances.’ I found a line-up of ambulances at the A and E.  I had my doubts and the receptionist quickly put me right.  The ambulance station was on the other side of the hospital complex.

‘Shukran,’ I called to her as I turned to walk back out. The receptionist and three porters bore down on me, ‘Lady! Lady! Where are you going?’ I was heading to the ambulance station.  ‘Are you crazee?’ It was at most a ten minute walk, admittedly in forty degree heat and humidity like a wet velvet towel.

There wasn’t a hope I was going to be allowed to walk there. I was going to be late. I didn’t have time to call and wait for a taxi. Taxis were almost as mythical as magic carpets. If you did manage to persuade a taxi to come and pick you up, you were in for a minimum hour wait in a city where the roads were permanently grid locked with Land Cruisers, and mostly the taxis never turned up.

I could walk I insisted, trying again to exit, managing to get half a foot over the threshold. I should have known better. Within seconds everyone in the A and E was shrieking at me. Step forward my hero in a green boiler suit.  Sami was a paramedic and he was heading over to the ambulance station. He would give me a lift. I was so grateful it didn’t click immediately that within the next minutes I would find myself hurtling downtown, the opposite direction to the station, in an ambulance.

Sami explained that the hospital enforced a strict one way system, which meant that whenever the ambulances needed to return to base they had to detour downtown. I gulped, fished out my mobile and rang my office to ask them to let the ambulance Director know I was going to be late.  A trip downtown meant a good hour in the snarling traffic, at least. As I explained my predicament on the phone, that I had got a lift but was stuck in traffic, carefully neglecting to mention I was in the back of an ambulance, I felt a sharp lurch.  Sami had stamped on the accelerator. The undeniable wail of the siren somewhat gave away my mode of transportation. I got to my meeting pretty much on time, Arabic time, but I never heard the end of it back at the office.

As the weeks turned to months my initial thrill of being somewhere so completely unfamiliar and disorienting wore off, and my diaries and letters became my life line.  The ripples of recession in Europe and America lapped at the edge of the desert. Gas and oil prices plunged deep. Threats of purging ex pats from government jobs intensified.  Suspicion about foreigners spread. The champagne brunches at seven star hotels lost a touch of their wild abandon. Was it time to cut and run? Would there be a coup? What was the truth about the rumours of a power struggle at the palace? The locals were whispering about it and after all power never transferred without bloodshed out here. You just can’t sweep away the desert, however many times a day you take a broom to the piles of sticky, red sand that insinuated through every tiny crevice.

Why did our mobile phones click, when they never did that at home? Who was the man now sitting on a stool outside my office every day? Who had been in my apartment, gone through my things yet not taken anything, just moved everything by an inch, and left the door open and a stubbed out cigarette – to let me know? And that night, that pitch, blistering night out in the desert – what really happened then?

Back home, free from the sand djinn, they still scorched my dreams. The only way I knew how to deal with them was to write. I took up my letters and diaries and pulled out morsels, popped them in the mouths of the characters that haunted my night terrors and Souk spoke as I put my pen to the page.

If you enjoyed this piece, you can read more about the moments that formed a backdrop to Electric Souk at my blog http://rosemcginty.wordpress.com

 

Links

‘Electric Souk’ is available from Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/electric-souk/

It can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Electric-Souk-Rose-McGinty/dp/1911129821/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489520881&sr=1-1

Twitter – @rosemcginty

 

Extract from ‘The Secret Wound’ by Deirdre Quiery

I think you all deserve another treat.  So here’s an exclusive extract from ‘The Secret Wound’ by Deirdre Quiery.

 

Book Blurb

Deirdre Quiery’s follow up to the critical success of Eden Burning, The Secret Wound draws the reader into a complex web of relationships within the ex-pat community in Mallorca, discovering their dangerous secrets…and a potential murderer in their midst.

One of their number carries a dark and deadly secret from their past, and has murderous plans for a fellow ex-pat. Can any of the close- knit community discover the brutal plans before they are all put in mortal danger?

Deirdre Quiery’s gripping thriller is not just an addictive page turner, but provides a compelling exploration of human emotion and desires, and the terrible costs of jealousy and ambition. Perfect for fans of Jane Corry and Amanda Brooke.

 

Extract

Extract from ‘The Secret Wound’

 

Interview with Deirdre Quiery

Let’s have another author interview.  Deirdre Quiery’s debut novel, ‘Eden Burning’ was published by Urbane Publications in August 2015 and her new book, ‘The Secret Wound’ is out in June of this year.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘The Secret Wound’ please?

“The Secret Wound” is inspired by my love of why we keep secrets, the world of myths, the sense that every single person’s life is a mythical journey, taking them through a world of adventure to transformation and metamorphosis and my love of storytelling.

I have always been fascinated by the “secrets” which people keep and take with them to the grave. That made me think that perhaps what makes people really unique and interesting is everything that we don’t know about them and maybe will never know.

It is as if when we look at another person we see a door but it is locked. We don’t have the key to open it. The person looking back at us is holding the key in their heart. They are torn by this dilemma. One part of them wants to hand us the key and allow us to open the door and to walk inside and see who they truly are. They know that this will open to them the depths of intimacy and acceptance which they so desire. The other part of them is afraid that if they hand us the key, we will walk inside and run away screaming in horror at what we have discovered. This second possibility is terrifying – as it has the potential of totally destroying the fragments of identity which the person is so desperately clinging to. They choose to keep the key in their heart and most insist on the door remaining closed.

When I started writing “The Secret Wound” I had a dream of creating “a new myth” – which would allow me to tell a new story about the hero setting out on a journey, facing challenges and returning home transformed. I imagined making it “new” by having the journey take place on two levels – one is a real physical journey and the second a psychological journey into the heart, where the hidden key is discovered. The individual with great difficulty opens the door which allows them to see themselves as they truly are and rather than run away screaming – this revelation of what was hidden and distorting their lives will be the catalyst for transformation.

Gurtha – a key protagonist – goes to Mallorca after his mother Nuala is murdered and his life is in disarray. He does not know who killed Nuala or why she was murdered. He decides to spend 40 days on the beautiful Mediterranean island to take stock of his life and to find a new direction and meaning for life. He meets with a circle of friends within the ex-pat community; dark secrets are revealed which transform each of their lives within 40 days and the secret about who murdered Nuala is unlocked.

 

Where did you get the idea for it from?

By observing in real life people acting in ways which cause great suffering to themselves and others but they are unaware of what is driving their behaviour. It is hidden to them. It is only when they see what is hidden that they are released from their personal “prison”, are healed and liberated.

 

Did you have to do any research for your new book?

Yes. I adored it. I researched the origin of myths, remembering Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero of a Thousand Faces” and “The Power of Myth”.

I then began to read Bernard McGinn’s books on the “foundations, growth and flowering” of mysticism. Bernard McGinn is a Professor of Divinity at Chicago University and is considered to be the world’s expert on mysticism. The path of mysticism is very much like the hero’s journey. It is a journey to experience love, casting off the ego along the way. It has phases of awakening, purgation, illumination and union. Union is the experience of ‘resting’ in a love beyond human understanding.

I so much enjoyed this research that I am off to Houston in August of this year to attend a 3 day workshop run by Bernard McGinn on the subject of mysticism.

 

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Yes. I am in them all in one way or another! When people have read “Eden Burning” they are quite shocked that I can create a murderer. However, I think a writer has to have empathy for every single one of their characters. If you have deep empathy that means that you understand how they feel, the situation that they find themselves in and why they are acting in ways which may not be understood by others.

When your level of empathy for your characters deepens, you find that you have compassion for them. For me, this means suffering with them. At that moment the writer and the character are one and the same. For that to happen, I have to be in them from the start.

When my friends say goodbye to me after a visit, they often say, “Don’t be murdering anyone today – well do it, only if it’s in your novel.”

 

Are you the type of person who wakes up in the middle of the night with ideas that you have to jot down straightaway?

No. However, I do awaken up at times in the middle of the night from a strange and wonderful dream which I always remember in the morning and which inspires my stories.

I love the dream world. I have experienced in my own life, dreams which predict the future, archetypal dreams presenting me with an insight into life and lucid dreams where I am aware in the dream that I am dreaming. In these dreams I can make the dream change according to my wishes. I remember one such dream when I realised within the dream that I could make anything I thought come true. I had great fun doing that!

 

Will you be having a book launch?

Yes. I am thrilled to be having my book launch on the 6th July 2017, at the Meditation Centre, St Mark’s Church Myddelton Square, London, EC1R 1XX – 1830 – 2100. At the book launch I will simultaneously be opening an exhibition of my art which will explore the theme of “The Secret Wound” in oils.

 

What do you want people to get out of your book?

I really want them to enjoy it. I love TV programmes like Agatha Christie – including Poirot, Criminal Minds, Inspector Morse, Lewis … I would like them to have a sense of reading a psychological thriller in which they are captivated. I also would like to give them a sense that life is really wonderful and mysterious. If they already feel this – then we can have a chuckle together about it.

 

Any pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to write?

If you want to write – you already have the desire planted within you which is your gift. All you have to do now is to honour it and begin to write. Don’t judge your writing but be open to feedback from people you trust and especially from people who know the key to your heart.

 

How long have you been painting for?

Since moving to Mallorca – 15 years ago.

 

What’s it like living in Mallorca?

When people hear that I live in Mallorca, they think I am lying on the beach for a large part of the year. However, nothing could be further from the truth. I actually haven’t been into the sea in 15 years – even though it is only 10 minutes from home in the car.

What I love about Mallorca is its natural beauty – being in nature – living beside the sea, seeing the oranges change colour at sunset, watching the figs appear on the fig trees, the orange blossom in April turning into Christmas oranges.

For the first year and a half, we lived in an isolated olive grove, with no running water, no TV, no fixed line telephone, no internet. It was then that I felt myself a part of nature – at one with sheep, cats, eagles, bees, beetles and the olive trees.

I would say that what I have learnt living there, when I am not travelling with work, is that life can be incredibly simple and we have a tendency to complicate it.

 

Would you ever move to London?

Never say never. I love London. I know this is going to sound weird but I feel really at home in London – more than I do after 15 years in Mallorca. I also adored living in Oxford for 12 years. I am going to keep an open mind and who knows what might happen. What I might struggle with is cutting my umbilical cord to living so intensely now with nature.

 

Describe your life in five words.

I’m a seeker still seeking.

 

Links

‘Eden Burning’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/eden-burning/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eden-Burning-Deirdre-Quiery/dp/1909273902/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458254682&sr=1-1&keywords=eden+burning

‘The Secret Wound’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-secret-wound/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Secret-Wound-Deirdre-Quiery/1911331833/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489434292&sr=1-1&keywords=the+secret+wound

Author Page with a weekly blog –  www.deirdrequiery.com

Twitter – @SupernovaQ

Link for the book trailer for Eden Burning – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0v5Su7exVI

Book teasers for The Secret Wound – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4jxyEb0s_A and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftirPMb515Q

Guest Post by Eva Jordan

I would like to welcome Eva Jordan back to my blog.  Eva’s debut novel, ‘183 Times A Year’ was published by Urbane Publications last year.  Eva wrote a guest post for this event.

 

IT’S NOT A LIFE, IT’S AN ADVENTURE!

Firstly, I’d like to thank the lovely Sonya for inviting me to take part in her Urbane Blog Event. Sonya is a great supporter of the Urbane family of writers and it was a real pleasure to meet her at the Urbane Shindig last year. For those of you that don’t know me, 183 Times A Year was my debut novel, published by Urbane Publications last year. My second novel, All The Colours In Between, is due for release in the autumn of this year. I have had several short stories published and I also write a monthly column and book review for a local lifestyle magazine called The Fens.

After recently reading the first edited copy of my second novel, comments from Matthew are, “there’s a comfort zone for existing 183 Times A Year readers but new readers will easily be able to read this as a ‘stand alone.’ It is also more adult and hard-hitting but I am very, very happy with it.” I hope this little teaser has wet your appetite, and don’t worry, like 183 Times A Year, there’s still plenty of humour in this book. In the meantime, for the rest of my guest post I thought I’d give you a bit of insight into how I came to write my debut.

After my children and family I have four other passions my life, namely reading books, listening to music and watching films, and the fourth is – yep, you’ve guessed it, writing. In fact, I probably almost love writing as much as I love my children – they’d probably say more so, if you asked them. And yes, it sounds like a cliche’ but I have always wanted to be a writer. Lack of opportunity, inexperience, and bad life choices all held me back to a point but a lack of belief in myself is probably what held me back the most. I did have a few minor publication successes with short stories and poetry when I was younger and I also co-wrote many original songs with my brother for his band, as well as singing backing vocals from time to time. Then came marriage, quickly followed by two beautiful children followed by divorce. That was my “Nodus Tollens” moment. I love this phrase, coined by John Koenig from his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows at http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/post/48395591256/nodus-tollens
it means “the realisation that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.”

Divorce was both difficult and unpleasant and financially life became very tough. My back was against the wall and I felt quite desperate at times. My children were very young at the time of my divorce so I found myself having to take jobs that fitted in around them – school holidays were an absolute nightmare; most of the money I earned went on childcare. I decided I wanted something better for my children and I. So, with the help of my parents (who babysat for me), I went back to college during the evenings. I studied English, History, Sociology and Psychology for two years then applied to study for a BA Hons Degree in English and History. It was a full-time course over three years so that meant finding work that both fitted in around the children and my degree. It wasn’t easy, I still had the school run to do, dinners to cook, uniforms to wash and iron, school plays and assemblies to attend, doctors appointments, hospital appointments, parents evenings, swimming lessons, dance classes, piano lessons, guitar lessons, not to mention all the fancy dress costumes I had to put together for various parties and the school’s annual World Book Day, as well as essays to write and exams to revise for, for my degree. And, somewhere in between, I had to find time to sleep. I sometimes look back at those years and wonder how the hell I did it. I definitely remember tears at times. However, in 2009 I graduated with a BA Honours Degree in English and History and gained a first for my history dissertation looking at civilian morale during the London Blitz of WWII. I felt immensely proud, as did my children and family.

By then I’d met my other half, who also had two children, and we all moved in together and became a blended family. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was when a seed was planted and ideas for my debut novel began to form. Being part of an extended family is fun, however bringing up children, whether it’s your own or others, is not always easy. My journey from single motherhood, to studying for and obtaining my degree, to finding love again which included step parenting and a blended family, taught me I was a far more capable person than my younger self had given herself credit for. After completing my degree I began working for the city library service, which I absolutely loved – I spent my time around books for goodness sake, what’s not to love! I also began writing a book, a thriller come love story based in 1960’s London. However, trying to navigate my new life as a working parent and stepparent was both fraught and outrageously funny at times. Sometimes I felt like pulling my hair out. I discovered through research and talking with friends and colleagues that many people were enjoying, but struggling with the same daily problems I was experiencing. I abandoned my first novel and started to write 183 Times A Year and the rest, as they say, is history. I have to add here, holding the printed copy of my book last year was one of the best moments of my life!

Life is slightly less manic now but it still isn’t easy at times. Unfortunately, due to an injury, I have been left with permanent neck and arm pain and some days this can make writing very difficult, but it will never stop me. I love writing and hope to expand to different genres. I am currently working on my third novel and I hope to write many more in the future because after all (in the words of Grandad in 183 Times A Year) it’s not a life, it’s an adventure!

If you want to know more you can find me at all the usual places:

Website: evajordanwriter.com

Twitter: @evajordanwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EvaJordanWriter/

 

Book links:

Urbane Publications: http://urbanepublications.com/books/183-times-a-year/

Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015G3FIZM

Amazon.com: http://amzn.com/B015G3FIZM

 

Interview with Simon Michael

It’s time now for another interview, this time with Simon Michael.  ‘The Lighterman’, the third book in the Charles Holborne series is being published in June of this year.

 

As you know I loved ‘The Brief’. For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about ‘The Brief’ and the series as a whole?

I confess that as I have got further into the series (the third book is about to be published and the fourth is underway) I have understood both Charles Holborne, the conflicted antihero barrister, and what the books are about much better. The seeds were there, but apparently buried in my subconscious. I have realised that the series of thrillers is about a man who tries to stay true to his integrity and honour despite being surrounded by corruption. So, the Kray twins, the Richardson brothers and the Messina brothers are engaged in a war in which they fire-bomb, razor and intimidate for control of their criminal territories; the Metropolitan Police are institutionally corrupt, taking bribes, assisting the criminals, and beating confessions from innocent people; and the judiciary are institutionally biased. Charles Holborne is torn between, on the one hand, his East End, ex-boxer and ex-criminal roots, where he still has friends and family and, on the other, his love for the law, the institutions of justice and his own personal code of honour. In The Brief Charles is framed for the murder of his wife and has to decide: “Will I rely on the dysfunctional machinery of justice to prove my innocence, or will I break the law to avoid the hangman?” I often have in my mind’s eye when writing Michael Corleone from The Godfather: a war hero and an honest man, a man whose Mafia family desperately want to keep “clean”, being dragged back into crime for the love of his father.

 

Where did you get your ideas from for this series?

Several threads combined to produce the series. Firstly I am a Londoner, and only the first generation in 500 years not to live in the East End. Secondly, boxing features in my family history. From the 1920s onwards several of my forebears used the same East End gym as the Kray twins and one became a successful professional boxer. Thirdly, when I became a barrister in 1978, although things had begun to improve, there was still an enormous amount of corruption in the English criminal justice system. There was also huge anti-Semitism and class prejudice. I was the first barrister to join my Chambers who had not been to a public school, and I can guarantee I was the only one who worked as a council labourer every vacation to raise money to continue my education! It was quite a shock to find that the venerable institution of the Bar was so riven by prejudice. So I joined these threads together, and emphasised them by simply moving the events back in time to the 1960s. But the legal cases on which the plots are based, and the court documents included within the text of the books, are based on cases I actually worked on as a barrister.

 

How long did it take you to write ‘The Brief’ and ‘An Honest Man’?

This may surprise you, but the first draft of The Brief took less than three weeks. I had been thinking about the story for so long that it just burst out of me and I just had to get out of the way. An Honest Man took a little longer, but only a few months. Once I have the idea, I write very quickly. On a “bad day” I might write only 1500 words but on an averagely good day I will write 5000 words.

 

Being a barrister would have helped you a lot with these books obviously. Did you have to do any specific research and if so what did it entail?

I had to buy some old legal textbooks to check the legal procedure in the 1960s, but after 37 years at the Bar I had a pretty strong grounding and just had to make sure I wasn’t accidentally including 1970s material in a 1960s book. I have been pulled up by a couple of ex-coppers who pointed out that there were no Crown Courts until 1972 – and they are absolutely right! I am always very grateful to people who point out mistakes. One of the policemen has agreed to act as a beta reader in future, which is extremely kind of him. I’m still learning, and that’s the only way to improve. So far as the 1960s are concerned, I do a lot of research on the Internet but even then mistakes do creep in. Somebody pointed out that the Mary Quant hairstyle I refer to did not exist for another two years, and one fan said that the engine of the Rover P5, used in The Brief as the getaway car, was in fact a 3 L not a 3.5 L at that time!

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

As you can see from my earlier answers, although these books are not autobiographical, Charles Holborne is based on me or, more accurately, on who I would have been had I been born a generation earlier. I think it is very difficult to be true to your ideals when you are surrounded, by friends and family – by your entire culture – at the bottom of the socio-economic pile and prepared to do anything to climb out.

 

Have you got any other writing projects on the go?

Believe it or not I wasn’t going to write this series at all and I didn’t consider myself a crime writer. I had an idea for a much “bigger” book but I thought The Brief and perhaps a sequel would just get me started as an author. Dip my toe in the water, so to speak. I didn’t realise there was an entire series here, and I really hadn’t expected the degree of success I’ve enjoyed. So now I seem to be pigeonholed as a crime writer and my agent says that if I do get round to writing the “big” book I will need to use a pseudonym.

 

Will you be doing any book signings when ‘The Lighterman’ is published?

Yes, as many as I can. It’s very difficult to achieve prominence in such a crowded market, and I am not good at social media. I like face-to-face interactions with people so book signings and talks are perfect.

 

I know there’s going to be a blog tour. What do you hope is achieved from it?

I hope people will start to notice the series. It’s an enormously crowded market, and there are hundreds of authors writing police procedurals and psychological thrillers. What I am writing is different, but so far as the publishers are concerned they fall within the same genre. To some extent that’s true – they are crime thrillers with a legal twist – but they are more than that. I am trying to write about real people with real homes, real lives, and I’m following one man’s personal journey. I don’t know anyone else who is writing 1960s thrillers involving an East End Jewish ex-boxer ex-criminal barrister on a moral journey.

 

How has social media helped you?

I’m not the right person to ask about this. I seem to have a relatively small band of devoted fans, many of whom have been reached initially by social media, but like I said I’m not good at it. I hate the self-promotion involved. It wasn’t the way I was brought up, and to shout about one’s achievements was frowned upon. Your achievements should speak for you. It’s a very English attitude, but in a market dominated by so-called “Amazon Bestsellers!!” if you don’t shout about yourself you won’t get noticed at all.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your career as a barrister please?

I was “called to the Bar” by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in 1978 and started doing what they call mixed common law cases. That is crime, matrimonial, landlord and tenant, contract, personal injury – everything. That’s not what happens nowadays where young entrants tend to specialise very early, which I think is a mistake. I was best at the crime because I identified with the underdog and loved working with juries. I suspect I should have been an actor like my children. Gradually my practice focused on crime and personal injury. I had to make a decision whether to continue doing the crime in the face of severe legal aid cuts when I had a young family and decided to move gradually into clinical negligence work. I developed a practice where I represented people who had suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of medical negligence and who needed very significant support and care. So, I prosecuted and defended in the Crown Courts, including the Old Bailey, for about 15 years before gradually giving it up for financial reasons. I still miss the buzz of the jury work, the camaraderie of the Bar Messes, prison visits and walking into the Old Bailey.

 

What made you decide to write?

I love telling stories. I always have, since I was a child. My ex-wife says that I “live inside my own head”, and there is some truth in that. When the writing is going well the world I’ve created in my head seems more real than the “real world”.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

In the field that I’m now working, Raymond Chandler, followed by Dashiell Hammett and John Mortimer. All three deal with crime and a hero who does his best to remain true to his principles, i.e. Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and Horace Rumpole.

Otherwise, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. Both see into the hearts and souls of their characters and recognise that all of us are a mixture of good and bad.

 

Links

‘The Brief’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-brief/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Brief-gripping-crime-drama-swinging-Charles-Holborne/191069200X/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489444677&sr=1-1&keywords=the+brief+by+simon+michael

‘An Honest Man’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/an-honest-man/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Honest-Man-Book-Charles-Holborne/dp/1911129392/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

‘The Lighterman’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-lighterman/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lighterman-Book-Charles-Holborne/dp/191158300X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Website – www.simonmichael.uk

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/simonmichaeluk

 

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