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Archive for the tag “mystery”

Blog Tour – ‘Know Me Now’ by CJ Carver

‘Know Me Now’, the third book in the Dan Forrester series, is CJ Carver’s new novel.  It is being published as an eBook on the 14th December 2017 by Zaffre and will be out in paperback on the 11th January 2018.  I am absolutely delighted to be participating in this blog tour which has been organised by the lovely Emily Burns, along with a number of other bloggers.  I have for you all an interview with CJ Carver.  I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

Firstly, can you tell me a bit about ‘Know Me Now’ please?

Quintessentially, the book is about friendship.  Dan Forrester is one of a group of four people who’ve known each other since they were toddlers, and when the son of one of these friends – Dan’s godson – is found murdered, Dan teams up with his old friend DS Lucy Davies to find out what happened.

When Dan discovers his father has also been murdered, it suggests things are more dangerous than anyone imagined.  A coded message is left in a newspaper advertisement; spies are engaged; an assassin deployed.  And all because of a terrible secret that has been lying undisturbed for decades.  A secret someone will do anything to keep buried . . .

Can you describe your book in five words?

Friendship, betrayal, greed, loyalty and love.

 

Did you have to do much research for it and if so what did it entail?

I’m lucky enough to have a family of top scientists to hand locally, and they are my first port of call for anything technical.  The book is set mainly in Scotland, which was pretty easy to get to, but even though I only set a handful of chapters in Germany it was incredibly valuable going there to make sure I got things right, like police duties in the Federal Republic of Germany are a matter for the individual Countries (16), which are absolutely sovereign in this area… oh, sorry, I might have sent you to sleep with that bit of research!

 

How long did it take you to write this book?

The idea came to me over two years ago when lunching with a Professor friend of mine.  From there, it germinated as I completed Tell Me A Lie, during which time I continued gathering more ideas and information until it was time to plot it out.  From the plotting stage to sending off the proof, took around a year.  However, if you’re talking about the first draft, this book was a good three months, which gave me time to put the manuscript aside occasionally to let it perculate.

 

I noticed that ‘Know Me Now’ is part of a series.  Can it be read as a standalone?

Absolutely.  I make sure that each book in any series can be read without having to read the others, and I was really pleased when a reviewer remarked that although Tell Me A Lie was her first Dan Forrester book (2nd in the series) she didn’t feel at all left out with any backstories.  Oh, and I make sure there are no spoilers to the other books!

 

Are there more books in the series to come?

Ooooh, yes.  I’m writing the fourth right now, and rather wonderfully had a “Eureka!” moment last week when I came up with a cracking idea for the fifth.

 

Can you relate to any of the characters in this book?

I think a writer has to relate to the characters they create, even the villains.  I like to know what makes each person tick in the book, their dreams and their worst nightmares.  I admit to enjoying writing DC Lucy Davies immensely as she is wonderfully outspoken and I wish I could be a bit like her!

 

What would your reaction be if one of them turned up on your doorstep?

If Dan Forrester turned up I would freak out because danger follows him like a shark follows blood.  I would be looking up and down the street behind him for bad guys.

 

What has the publishing process been like?

I started out before the internet, so things have changed a lot.  I think it’s incredibly exciting today with the self-publishing prospects and some indie authors are doing really well.  Having a traditional publisher, however, does mean that it can be a bit of a rollercoaster from time to time, but that, I’ve learned, is part of an author’s life.

 

Is writing something you have always wanted to do?

Well, when I was ten, on holiday in Scotland, I announced to my parents that I was going upstairs to write a book.  Neither looked up from their Agatha Christies, but I remember my father saying, ‘That sounds like a good idea.’  I started my “book” but after the first page realised I didn’t have much of a story and how difficult it was going to be!  I gave up.  When I toddled downstairs after about an hour, Mum and Dad never mentioned it, which meant I didn’t have to get defensive over it!

I eventually fell into writing, but only because I followed my dream: to drive from London to Saigon.  On my return from the 14,500-mile journey, I was asked to write an article for Car Magazine, so I trotted to my local Waterstones and bought a book How to Write and Sell Travel Articles.  It was probably the worst article I ever wrote, but it got published and, amazingly, I got paid.  I’d enjoyed writing it so much I approached other outlets with my story and ended up becoming a travel writer which eventually led me to writing my first novel.  (Which this answer to your question seems to have been…!)

 

Which authors if any have helped to influence your work?

Do you know, on balance I think Dick Francis had the biggest effect on my writing.  Galloping adventure stuff I thoroughly enjoyed as a teen and an adult but what I found magical was that Francis’s books were written from the viewpoint of an “ordinary” person thrown into extraordinary circumstances, which is exactly what happens to Dan Forrester in my books.

A lot of people think Francis is lightweight, but his fast plots and authentic backgrounds in my view were outstanding, along with his characterisation.  His books weren’t long, and they introduced me to punchy, no holds-barred storytelling.  Now that, I remember thinking, is what I want to write: page turners.

 

What are your thoughts on social media?

It’s the biggest time waster of all time.  However, it is also a fantastic support to writer’s and I couldn’t do without it.  That said, when I’m writing I’m very strict about my time on Twitter or Facebook and set a time limit, maximum forty minutes.

 

Have you got any pearls of wisdom for people wanting to pen their first book?

WRITE.  Just do it.  Sit down and get started.  It doesn’t matter if you think it’s rubbish, just keep going and before you know it, you’ll have a chapter, and then another.  And another…

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a travel addict, so whenever I can I pack up the camper and hit the open road.  My perfect day is walking across country with a stop at a pub for lunch somewhere, then tucking up with a good book and a cuppa at the end of the day.

 

You have been given a choice of three tasks: stay on a desert island for a month, spend a week in a prison or spend the night in a supposedly haunted castle.  Which one would you choose?

Desert island, please!  I’m a bit of an adventurer so I’d love the challenge.  Can I take a copy of How to Survive on a Desert Island with me?!

 

About CJ Carver

C.J. Carver’s first novel Blood Junction won the CWA Debut Dagger and was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the best mystery books of the year. Half-English, half New Zealand, C.J. has been a travel writer and long-distance rally driver, driving London to Saigon and London to Cape Town. Her novels have been published in the UK and the USA and translated into several languages.

 

Links

‘Know Me Now’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Know-Me-Now-Dan-Forrester-ebook/dp/B0748J34JF/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Website – http://www.cjcarver.co.uk/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/C_J_Carver

 

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Blog Tour – ‘Rocco and the Nightingale’ by Adrian Magson

‘Rocco and the Nightingale’ is the fifth book in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series.  It was published in hardback, paperback and as an eBook on the 19th October 2017 by The Dome Press.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which Adrian Magson has written a guest post.  First though here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

When a minor Paris criminal is found stabbed in the neck on a country lane in Picardy, it looks like another case for Inspector Lucas Rocco. But instead he is called off to watch over a Gabonese government minister, hiding out in France, following a coup.

Meanwhile, Rocco discovers that there is a contract on his head taken out by an Algerian gang leader with a personal grudge against him. Against orders, he follows some leads on the original murder case, discovering as he does so, that the threats against him are real. The minister he is protecting is kidnapped, and it soon becomes apparent that the murder, the threats and the minister’s kidnap are all interconnected…

 

Guest Post

I DID IT TO SEE IF I COULD

It’s not unusual to hear authors say that they always knew they wanted to write. I’m not sure that was ever the case with me, but I do remember thinking when I was very young that telling stories must be the best job ever.

It came about when, aged 8, I was given a stack of Leslie ‘The Saint’ Charteris books and some Zane Grey westerns. Living at the time in very rural, wet and windy Norfolk, I was quite happy to be told to get reading and stay out of trouble. Although a lot of the words and meanings went right over my head at that age, I devoured the books and made my way to others, and that’s where my desire to read even more began.

I think my desire to write must have followed later, probably helped by winning a story competition at school.

The Saint books appealed to me because here was a character who solved crime, rescued people in distress and generally helped himself to the already ill-gotten gains of criminals in the process. What wasn’t to admire? Then there was Hank Janson and Mickey Spillane and a host of other stronger material to help me through the teen years.

But it was stumbling on the likes of Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, Adam Diment, John Gardner, Adam Hall and many others that wedded me to the idea of writing a spy thriller.

It took a while and many attempts, in between a day job and writing hundreds of short stories and features for women’s magazines, but I eventually got a publishing deal (a crime novel, ironically, followed by four more in a series). Then came my first spy thriller – ‘Red Station’, also the first in a series. But that wasn’t all; by chance I’d also written a book set in France, where I grew up and went to school during the 1960s. ‘Death on the Marais’ turned out to be the first in what was to become the Inspector Lucas Rocco series, and both books were sold by my agent within 48 hours of each other, setting me on the path of writing two books a year.

The Rocco book came about because I wanted to try something different to the spy novel simply to see if I could. And that was where a lot of my writing began over the years, from comedy gags for Roy Hudd, short stories for BBC radio, a (very) short play featured during the Oxford Literary Festival, even some poetry which convinced me I was no poet when a magazine bought them but asked me not to submit any more. There were features for magazines here and abroad, words for greetings cards, T-shirts and beer mats.

Basically, trying anything to see if I could.

And now I’ve come back to Lucas Rocco with ‘Rocco and the Nightingale’, simply because I wanted to. After four books and a novella, it was bugging me – quite apart from being asked by readers when was I going to produce another one.

Here it is, and I hope you like it.

AM

 

About Adrian Magson

Hailed by the Daily Mail as “a classic crime star in the making”, Adrian Magson’s next book is Rocco and the Nightingale (The Dome Press – October 2017). This is the fifth in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in France in the 1960s.

Before this, Adrian had written 21 crime and spy thriller books built around Gavin & Palmer (investigative reporter Riley Gavin and ex-Military Policeman Frank Palmer) – “Gritty and fast-paced detecting of the traditional kind, with a welcome injection of realism” (The Guardian); Harry Tate, ex-soldier and MI5 officer – “fast-paced, with more twists and turns than a high-octane roller coaster” (New York Journal of Books); Inspector Lucas Rocco (crime series set in 1960s Picardie) – “Deserves to be ranked with the best” (Daily Mail), “Captures perfectly the rural atmosphere of France… a brilliant debut” (Books Monthly); Marc Portman (The Watchman) – prompting one reviewer to write: “the most explosive opening chapters I have read in a long time. Give this man a Bond script to play with!”; investigators Ruth Gonzales and Andy Vaslik – “Magson takes the suburban thriller overseas and gives it a good twist. [Readers] will happy get lost in the nightmare presented here” (Booklist Reviews).

Adrian also has hundreds of short stories and articles in national and international magazines to his name, plus a non-fiction work: Write On! – The Writer’s Help Book (Accent Press).

Adrian lives in the Forest of Dean and rumours that he is building a nuclear bunker are unfounded. It’s a bird table.

 

Links

‘Rocco and the Nightingale is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rocco-Nightingale-Adrian-Magson/dp/0995751056/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1508870169&sr=1-1

The Dome Press – https://www.thedomepress.com/product-page/rocco-and-the-nightingale-hardback

 

Adrian Magson is on Twitter @AdrianMagson1

Website – http://www.adrianmagson.com

Blog – http://adrianmagson.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Cover Reveal – ‘No Bodies’ by Robert Crouch

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for ‘No Bodies’ by Robert Crouch, the second book in the Kent Fisher series which is out as an eBook on the 19th October 2017.  I love this cover and I think it’s my favourite of the two so far.  There will of course be a blog tour taking place next month so keep a look out for that.  In the meantime here’s what ‘No Bodies’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

Why would environmental health officer, Kent Fisher, show any interest in finding Daphne Witherington, the missing wife of a longstanding family friend?

The police believe she ran off with Colin Miller, a rather dubious caterer, and Kent has problems of his own when a young girl who visits his animal sanctuary is rushed to hospital.

When enquiries into Colin Miller reveal a second missing wife, Kent picks up a trail that went cold over a year ago. But he’s struggling to find a connection between the women, even when he discovers a third missing wife.

Is there a killer on the loose in Downland?

With no motive, no connection and no bodies, Kent may never uncover the truth.

 

‘No Bodies’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK – http://bit.ly/AmUKtoNBRC

Amazon US – http://bit.ly/AmUStoNBRC

 

Blog Tour – ‘Deadly Alibi’ by Leigh Russell

The wonderful Leigh Russell is back.  ‘Deadly Alibi’, the ninth book in the DI Geraldine Steel series was published in paperback by No Exit Press yesterday the 25th May 2017.  I am delighted to be participating in this blog tour and have I got a treat for you.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

A hand gripped her upper arm so suddenly it made her yelp. Biting her lower lip, she spun round, lashing out in terror. As she yanked her arm out of his grasp, her elbow hit the side of his chest. Struggling to cling on to her, he lost his footing. She staggered back and reached out, leaning one hand on the cold wall of the tunnel. Before she had recovered her balance he fell, arms flailing, eyes glaring wildly as he disappeared over the edge of the platform onto the rails below. . .

Two victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt: Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which jeopardises not only her career, but her life.

When her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, her problems threaten to make Geraldine’s life turn toxic in more ways than one.

 

Competition

Hopefully the blurb has left you dying to read more.  If so, you’re in luck as I am running a competition in which you can win 1 of 3 x paperback copies of ‘Deadly Alibi’.

To enter just leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 4th June 2017.

The winners will be notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to No Exit Press who will send out the prizes.

 

About Leigh Russell

Leigh Russell is a CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award nominee, a CWA Dagger in the Library longlisted author and People’s Book Prize finalist. She is the author of the internationally bestselling Geraldine Steel series: Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act, Killer Plan, and Murder Ring. Cold Sacrifice was the first in a spin off series featuring Ian Peterson and followed by Race to Death and Blood Axe. Leigh studied at the University of Kent gaining an MA in English and American literature.

 

‘Deadly Alibi’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Alibi-gripping-thriller-Geraldine-ebook/dp/B01M5AMWY3/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495739398&sr=1-1&keywords=deadly+alibi

 

Guest Post by Richard Whittle

Big congratulations to Richard Whittle whose new book, ‘The Man Who Played Trains’ is out today published by Urbane Publications.  Richard took part in my Urbane Blog Event in March and it is a real pleasure to have him back on my blog with a guest post.

~~~~~

Sonya, thank you for inviting me to write a Guest Post, I really appreciate it! In March you were kind enough to interview me and to publish an extract from my novel, The Man Who Played Trains, which will be published on 25th May by Urbane Publications. My publisher calls it an intelligent thriller.  What more could I ask?

The Man Who Played Trains is not my first novel. Fifteen years ago I was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger Award and received a runner-up prize, presented by Ian Rankin – who, tongue in cheek, asked me not to set any novels in Edinburgh. He also told me to keep writing, encouragement I didn’t need at the time but which I would have appreciated many times before, and since, that day. Like so many writers, I’d had short stories published, but no full-length novels. I had been submitting novels to publishers and agents for years, receiving those negative responses we all know so well. Also, occasionally, a few words of encouragement.

The best writing advice and encouragement I ever had was from Random House. Years before my modest success with the Dagger I submitted the typescript of a full novel to the company (probably as part of a scattergun approach to publishers and agents, I cannot even remember which novel I sent). Somehow it fell into the hands of one of the company’s directors and he personally edited, with a lot of red pen, the first three chapters of my book. The letter accompanying the returned typescript ran to two single-space pages of helpful critique and suggestions. He ended by assuring me that one day I would be published. He did add that it might take some time. He was right.

A few years ago I became so disheartened with the responses to my submissions that I gathered up all my correspondence and ceremoniously shredded the lot. Regretfully, the Random House letter died in this purge – though if I am honest with myself I see little point in keeping such things – I read somewhere that we are known for what we do today, not what we have done in the past. That is not always true (think Mandela, Einstein, Pankhurst, Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky…) but it is sound advice that keeps me on my toes.

So where are all these novels, you might ask? Complete and incomplete typescripts litter my hard drives – stories not dead but merely sleeping, awaiting modification and renovation. Many stem from a stage when I wrote only for myself (I had spent far too much time submitting my work to agents or publishers and not enough time writing). During this time, a period of about four years, if I tired of the novel I was writing I put it aside and started another. It is rather like having a big garage full of old cars, some in bits, some almost ready to run (apologies for the analogy if you know nothing about old cars. I am sure you can think of another).

One of these restarts and rewrites was Playpits Park, a novel I self-published on Amazon. To my surprise it acquired more 5-star reviews that I could ever have wished for. The Kindle version was downloaded more than six thousand times.

So who do I write for now, myself or the reader? That is not an easy question to answer. When you read The Man Who Played Trains you enter a world I inhabited before you, a world built from real and imagined places, real events and fictional events. I believe Robert Harris said it first – there are holes in history that you can fall through. This story, set in Edinburgh (sorry, Ian), the far north of Scotland around ten years ago and in Germany in wartime, is a crime novel, a mystery, a thriller and adventure story. My greatest wish is that you enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoy writing it. That makes it all worthwhile.

I wrote at the start of this post that The Man Who Played Trains is not my first novel. Nor is it about trains, though they do appear now and again. Thank you for reading this guest post until its end. That, too, makes it worthwhile!

 

Buy The Man Who Played Trains from Urbane: http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-man-who-played-trains/

Also at Waterstones, Blackwell’s, Amazon and all good bookshops.

 

Cover Reveal – ‘The Third Note’ by Virginia King

book-cover

I am absolutely thrilled to be revealing the gorgeous cover of Virginia King’s new book, ‘The Third Note’, which is due out towards the end of this month.  Read on to find out more.

 

Book Blurb

A mysterious parcel. An unsolved crime. A spell from beyond the grave.

After returning from her last strange quest, Selkie Moon is more than ready to settle down. So when she receives a parcel from her great grandmother 35 years after her death, opening it seems like such a bad idea. But curiosity wins and the objects it contains plunge her into long-buried family secrets. Suddenly an old mystery begins to echo with the present and Selkie is wrapped in a spell that won’t let go: frightening visions, deadly encounters and a pull from the past that she can’t ignore. Armed with only her wits and psychic twinges that are hardly reliable, Selkie is drawn into a web of cryptic clues that delve deep into the folklore of Ireland where superstition still weaves a powerful – and fatal – spell.

If you love mysteries with lightning pace, twists and turns you never see coming, quirky clues and a sprinkling of the supernatural, then you’ll love The Third Note.

~~~~~

Who is Selkie Moon?

Selkie Moon is a modern woman with a mythical name. One of her dead mother’s extraordinary ideas. The selkies are the seal people of Celtic folklore who peel off their skins and dance in the moonlight in human form. With a name like that, Selkie can’t help getting tangled in mysteries that spring from the haunting elements of mythology from around the world.

 

The Selkie Moon Mystery Series

Laying Ghosts (prequel)

The First Lie

The Second Path

The Third Note

 

Download Your Free Prequel

Get a taste of the Selkie Moon mystery series with your free 60-minute adrenaline rush, Laying Ghosts – and be notified of the special launch price of The Third Note when it’s published at the end of March.

http://www.selkiemoon.com/

 

About Virginia King

author-picture

When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series, what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard and waited until Selkie Moon turned up. Soon she was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.

Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.

 

Links

Website: http://www.selkiemoon.com/

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

Retail Links: http://www.selkiemoon.com/buy-the-books/

 

Fellow book blogger, Linda Hill reviewed ‘Laying Ghosts’ for Virginia King.  You can read it here:-

https://lindasbookbag.com/2016/09/18/short-story-laying-ghosts-by-virginia-king/

 

Blog Tour – ‘A Brush With Death’ by Malcolm Parnell

blog-tour-banner

‘A Brush With Death’ was published as an eBook on the 9th July 2016 by 3P Publishing.  All week a number of bloggers have been taking part in a blog tour for this book and today it is my turn.  I have an extract to give you all a little taster, but first let’s get to know Malcolm Parnell.

 

What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?

The Island of Adventure – Enid Blyton

Who is your favourite literary character?

Matthew Shardlake Created by CJ Sansom

Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?

1984

If you could only take one book with you on a desert island, which would it be?

The False Inspector Dew – Peter Lovesey

What are you currently reading?

The Various Haunts of Men – Susan Hill

Who would be at your dream dinner party (alive, dead or fictional)?

Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Agatha Christie

What’s the best advice you have ever received?

Anyone who ever accomplished anything, did not know how they were going to do it. They only knew they were going to do it. Bob Proctor

What’s the worst advice you have ever received?

Know your place, expect nothing else. My Mother

Who is your hero or heroine (real or fictional)?

Bob Proctor. Motivational speaker

Where are you happiest?

In a restaurant surrounded by family and friends.

Who would you like to star in the film of your life?

Bill Nighy

Describe your best ever holiday.

Mediterranean cruise

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do? (easy, tiger!)

Behind the scenes at a TV or film production

If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?

Sitting in a street café in the south of France eating scones and fresh cream

What do you think is the best thing about social media?

People sharing good ideas and offering support.

And the worst…?!

People sharing drivel

What is the most important item you require for a quiet night in?

A good book

Is it best to always tell the truth or is it sometimes better to tell a little white lie?

Sometimes tell a little white lie

What’s your signature dish?

A Sunday roast

Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook, why?

No idea

Which book character do you wish you had written?

Matthew Shardlake

Why did you write a book?

To fulfil an ambition and to entertain

Why did you choose your genre?

I love mysteries and I love humour so I tried to combine the two

If you had to write in a different genre, which would you choose?

Children’s adventure

What’s the worst thing about writing a book?

Staring at a blank page

What’s the best thing about writing a book?

Seeing the finished published product

If you could be anyone for the day, who would you be?

Me with a million pounds

~~~~~

Extract

PROLOGUE

25 years ago

The boy pulled back the curtains and peered through his bedroom window. The view was to most eyes nothing spectacular, but for him it was magical. Straight ahead he could see across open farmland. Over to his left, separated from the farm by a meandering brook lay an area of marsh land. Mundane and of no practical value to some, to him it was a very special place, a place where all things were possible, a place where you might encounter lizards, snakes and all manner of creeping things. Rats and voles lived there and further on where the earth sloped upwards onto drier ground, foxes, rabbits and who knows what else roamed free. The boy watched his world unfold as light from the sun transformed the grass from a colourless mass to every shade of green. Each blade dancing as the lightest of breezes touched the tips bringing movement like the rolling sea.

Inside, the house was quiet. The only other occupant was his father and he had yet to awake, still clinging to the last vestiges of sleep. His day had not yet begun, but when it did the boy doubted it would involve snakes and lizards.

…………………………….

Water droplets fell like diamonds shimmering in the morning sun as the small net swung round in an arc and then hovered expectantly over the waiting glass jar. Peering into the net, the boy held his breath as he examined his prize. Scooped from its watery lair the great crested newt clambered up the sides of the net before falling back exposing its fiery belly. With a shout of triumph the boy plucked the newt from the net and dropped it into the jar. Holding it up to his face both boy and newt scrutinized each other, the captor and the captured caught in a moment of time, both bathed in the glow of the rising sun, one relishing it, the other, desperate to hide.

The stream gleamed and sparkled, bent and fragmented by stones and tree roots, it seemed to go forever twisting like a coil of rope through the meadows.  Where he was standing was the widest point and the water was calmer here among the shallows, providing the perfect home for frogs and fish. The reed fringed banks giving way to a vast bed of water lilies that constantly nudged and swayed against his wellington boots. Further on, the banks grew more steeply and behind the blackthorn bush the lichen covered bricks of the old bridge could just be seen. How long the bridge had spanned the stream no-one knew. Neither could anyone fathom the reason for it being there. No road ran across it and either side was overgrown with wild blackthorn and holly. Those of a fanciful nature suggested it was a bridge to another world, but there seemed nothing other worldly about its overgrown walls and wild flower covered floor, although it is true that if one wandered into the darkness beneath the arch a gap in the bricks could be found. The boy had once explored this further, but after negotiating the almost un-penetrable array of spikey leaves and thorns, he eventually came disappointedly into the open air of the meadow which could have been accessed by the easier route of skirting the bridge further downstream.

The boy gave the newt one final look and lowered the jar into the water. He watched as the newt eager to be free, swam down into the depths and disappeared amongst the vegetation.

A sudden splash caught his attention and without turning his head he said, “You came then?”

From behind, a cheerful voice said, “’Course. I said I would, didn’t I?”

“I thought you were going to be dragged off shopping.”

“Nah, made a bit of a fuss. Mum chucked me out. So, Peter me lad, it’s you and me.”

The boy turned to greet his friend. John lived a few doors down from him and they had grown up together.  People in the street saw it as a strange alliance as the boys were like chalk and cheese, both physically and in temperament. His friend was short and dark with a mercurial nature, subject to whims and flights of fancy. His attention span was short and he got bored easily which often led him into trouble as his need for thrills caused conflict with the elders. Peter, on the other hand was tall and willowy, prone to deep thought and consideration. He was a shy boy and considered by some to be easily led, but he had a sharp mind and inquisitive nature.

“Not caught anything then?” his friend asked surveying the now empty jam jar.

“I had a crested, just let it go.”

“Have you had a go for Billy?”

“No not yet.”

Billy was a fish, a bullhead, commonly known as a millers thumb. He inhabited a half-submerged rusty oil drum that lay on its side further downstream, here the brook flowed through a small coppice. As bullheads go he was big, at least the size of the boy’s hand and though often seen, was elusive, as the water was deeper there and once the bottom was disturbed, clouds of silt would obscure the view.

“Still, there’s plenty of time.”

The boys grinned. Today was the first day of the school holidays and the immediate future held six glorious weeks of climbing trees, hunting, fishing and exploring. New worlds would be discovered and the prospect was mouth-watering.

The next few hours were spent engrossed in the world of water. Taking turns, they pushed and prodded the fishing net through lily beds and rushes. Many fish were caught, including – to both boys delight – a small jack pike weighing around 1lb. By the middle of the afternoon they had wandered about half a mile upstream and had come to the spot where the blackthorn embraced the old bridge. Climbing out of the water, the boys scrambled through the thick thorns and holly roots before emerging, scratched and torn under the dark recesses of the bridge. Sitting on the moss covered stones they each produced packs of sandwiches and bottled water from their jacket pockets.

“This bridge is creepy.” His friend muttered, chewing on ham and tomato.

“Yeah it’s brill.” Peter answered also chewing on his lunch.

“It’s supposed to be haunted. Tommy Greenway says that a long time ago some kids disappeared from somewhere around here.”

Peter shrugged. He too had heard the story, but was unimpressed.

“Tommy Greenway’s a girlie. He’s scared of his own shadow.”

“Yeah, but, you’ve gotta admit it’s a funny place.  For one thing there’s no sound. I don’t like it, I’m going back.”

“What? Why?

“Don’t like it.” John got up to leave and turned his head. “You comin’?”

“No, not yet, I’ll catch you up.” Peter answered and watched his friend back track through the water until he reached the part where the brambles gave way to clear meadow. Soon John was out of sight.

Peter stopped chewing and tilted his head. It was true, it was quiet, the silence only punctuated by the occasional bickering of squabbling coots further upstream. But then, a sound could be heard, difficult to make out at first, a sort of scraping noise. The sound a knife makes when being honed to a sharp point across a sharpening stone. Peter quickly looked around, his eyes wide trying to penetrate the gloom. Then, terror struck as a shadow emerged from the walls of the bridge and moved towards him.

 

‘A Brush With Death’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brush-Death-Malcolm-Parnell-ebook/dp/B01I88X0YI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478029262&sr=8-1&keywords=a+brush+with+death

Blog Tour – ‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ by James Calum Campbell

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‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ was published on the 1st November by Impress Books.  I took part in the cover reveal for this book and as I liked the sound of it I was sent a copy to review.

Dr Alastair Cameron-Strange hasn’t had an easy time of it.  After a recent bereavement he decides to go to the other side of the world and is only just rediscovering his life when the British Authorities track him down.  After much persuasion, they manage to recruit him on a mission which will see Cameron-Strange travel to the furthest reaches of New Zealand, to Xanadu where Phineas Fox, the American business tycoon is.  Mr Fox seems to be involved in just about every venture going and he also has his eye on the White House.  There’s something really quite dodgy about him and Cameron-Strange with a bit of help is determined to find out exactly what it is.

Dr Cameron-Strange doesn’t know it yet but he is facing seven different ordeals and some of them are going to be very tough.  Will he survive them?

I found this to be a very enjoyable and well written book.  I really liked how the story opened and I found the medical terms throughout the story interesting.  ‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ was fast-paced and at times very exciting, especially towards the end.

I liked Cameron-Strange and thought it unusual for the main character to be a doctor getting involved in rescue missions and tasks.  He was a hero in his own way.  Phineas Fox really was a nasty piece of work even though he did appear quite charming at times.  He was rich beyond belief and had a number of house staff.  I loved the names of the staff and thought a couple of them were really funny.  Phineas wanted to run for presidency at the White House.  Imagine what a nightmare that would have been.

A good read, though I couldn’t help thinking that a glossary would have been useful as I did find myself having to look up some of the words.  It would also have been great if there had been a map of the volcanoes in Auckland rather than trying to picture them all in my mind.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seven-Trials-Cameron-Strange-Cameronstrange-Book/dp/1907605835/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1478460652&sr=1-1

Interview with Amanda James

Amanda James

Amanda James will be having a new book published this summer.  I asked her a few questions.

 

Could you tell me a bit about your new novel, ‘Summer in Tintagel’ please?

Hi Sonya, yes it would be a pleasure.

It’s a mystery with a supernatural element. Young journalist Rosa Fernley has been asked to fulfil her grandmother Jocelyn’s dying wish. Jocelyn has also passed on a secret – in the summer of 1968, fleeing from the terror of a bullying husband, she visited the mysterious Tintagel Castle. Jocelyn wasn’t seeking love, but she found it on the rugged clifftops in the shape of Jory, a local man as enigmatic and alluring as the region itself. But she was already married, and knew her husband would never let her find happiness and peace in Jory’s arms. Now as her days are nearing their end, she begs Rosa to go back to Tintagel, but is unwilling, or unable, to tell her why.When she arrives in Tintagel, Rosa is challenged to confront secrets of her own, as shocking events threaten to change everything she has ever believed about herself and her family. She also meets a guide to the castle, Talan, a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jory…

 

When is it due out?

This summer – July 14th 2016

 

Where did you get your ideas from for this book?

I got them while walking in Tintagel along the cliff tops by the ancient church. Tintagel is a magical and mysterious place and the ideas just came. A small part of the supernatural element is based on something that a Psychic once told me.

 

Are you planning a nice celebration once it is published?

I think a nice glass of something with bubbles in it will be in order!

 

How many years have you been writing?

I have always written, but I guess I took it up seriously in the last twelve-years or so.

 

Will we be seeing more books from you?

Oh yes. I have four already published, one I finished in November last year called Cast Away Stones and I’m half-way through another called The Calico Cat.

 

Would you like to see any of your books made into a film?

I would indeed. Some famous authors say that film has ruined aspects of their work, but I’d like to see mine on the silver screen, or as a TV series.

 

What’s it like in Cornwall?

Cornwall is the best place to live in the world! I have always wanted to live here since I visited aged four. Three years ago we managed it! I love the Atlantic Coast most of all and am lucky enough to live just fifteen-minutes from it. I feel as if I belong by the ocean and don’t like to leave it for too long. Being beside it soothes jangled nerves and puts the soul in touch with nature. I did once fancy living in California because we used to visit America quite often, but some bits of the coastline here look just like California. I call beaches like Mawgan Porth or Holywell Bay where much of Poldark is filmed – little California.

 

Do you think you could live without social media?

Yes, but it would be hard. When Facebook or Twitter ‘goes down’ people panic! I think we are all used to being connected nowadays and worry that we’ll miss something if we aren’t. I suppose it has replaced the old close knit communities that we used to have, where everyone knew everyone else and all the gossip!

 

Who are your favourite authors?

There ares so many, so I’ll just say the one who inspired me and influenced me the most. Dean Koontz the American suspense writer. He has sold 600 million books but still found the time to write me a few personal letters. An amazing writer and man.

 

Have they influenced your work at all?

Yes, because his stories in general are wonderful, surprising, full of intrigue and always have a message of some kind. More specifically, I have tried to keep my sentences shorter and to the point, as I noticed that’s what he does. I also try to select the most effective words to put in them. Having said that, Koontz says in a few words something that would take me a paragraph. But I’ll keep trying.

 

If you could describe writing in five words what would they be?

Inspiring, necessary, frustrating, rewarding, wonderful.

 

About Amanda James

Amanda James grew up in Sheffield but her dream was to eventually live in Cornwall. Having now realised that dream, the dramatic coastline around her home inspires her writing and she has sketched out many stories in her head while walking the cliff paths.

Known to many as Mandy, she spends far more time than is good for her on social media and has turned procrastination to a fine art. Amanda has written many short stories for anthologies and has four published novels. Two are about a time travelling history teacher, A Stitch in Time and Cross Stitch, two are suspense – Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Dancing in the Rain.

Amanda left school with no real qualifications of note apart from an A* in how to be a nuisance in class. Nevertheless, she returned to education when her daughter was five and eventually became a history teacher, though she never travelled through time, apart from in her head.

When Amanda is not writing she can be found playing on the beach with her family or walking next to the ocean plotting her next book.

 

Links

‘Summer in Tintagel’ is available to pre-order from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/summer-in-tintagel

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Tintagel-Amanda-James/dp/1911129783/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458134911&sr=1-1&keywords=summer+in+tintagel

 

Twitter – @akjames61

Facebook – mandy.james.33

Blog – http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Blog Tour – ‘No Longer Safe’ by AJ Waines

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‘No Longer Safe’ was published on the 4th February 2016.  Today it is my turn on this blog tour.  I have been given an extract but first here’s my review.

When Alice receives a totally unexpected invitation in the post from a friend who she hasn’t heard from in several years, she is keen to accept it.  Karen, who she was friendly with at University has invited her to come and stay with her in a remote cottage in Scotland.  Alice sees this as a chance to rekindle their lost friendship.  What she doesn’t expect though is two former students to also turn up, people she was never exactly friendly with.  This instantly changes everything.

As the snow keeps falling and the atmosphere in the cottage chills, Alice notices that Karen isn’t like how she used to be.  Then someone dies and she finds herself caught up in a tangled web with no way of escaping.  What happens next is for you to find out.

I really enjoyed reading ‘No Longer Safe’.  Well written, this was a very exciting story and one which was hard to put down especially later on.  I could feel the atmosphere and what it must have been like staying in the cottage with no way of getting away with all that snow.  I would have found it very claustrophobic I reckon.

To me it was obvious from the start that things weren’t what they seemed.  Things just didn’t add up.  Personally I think Alice jumped the gun a bit too quickly, but then I guess when you get an invitation out of the blue like that it is hard to resist.

I just knew there was something fishy about Karen and I didn’t trust her at all.  She wasn’t the nice person Alice thought she was.  I would never have guessed in a million years what she was planning though.  I wasn’t particularly keen on the other two people staying in the cottage.  I especially didn’t like Mark.

‘No Longer Safe’ will take you on a rollercoaster of a ride with a very unexpected and shocking end.  This is an ideal book for fans of psychological thrillers.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

~~~~~

It’s time now for an extract from the book.

 

No Longer Safe by AJ Waines
Chapter 1 (part only)

15 November
You were the last person I expected to hear from. After all this time. After all the cards and letters that had come back marked ‘return to sender’.

I drifted from the hall into the sitting room, carrying the envelope on both outstretched palms, like a piece of newly discovered treasure. One slice from Dad’s paper knife and it was open. At first I thought it was an invitation to a wedding, but there was no card; instead it was a letter wrapped around a glossy brochure of a castle nestling amongst snow-capped mountains.

It was your handwriting for certain. I looked straight down to the bottom of the second sheet to confirm it. Karen Morley. That’s when I had to sit down. My head was suddenly too big for my body and I couldn’t trust myself to read without feeling giddy. Was it really you? I checked the address – Brixton – in London-terms that meant you were practically on my doorstep. No distance at all.

I made my brain slow down so I could trail my eyes across the curves of your fountain pen. That was a novelty in itself – the personal touch – when nearly everything that landed on our doormat these days was typed. But that was very much your way of doing things, Karen – making people feel special, making that extra effort to show you cared. Would be wonderful to see you again…remembered your birthday…love to invite you…important time for me…

I read the first part again. It was an invitation, but not to a wedding. You were inviting me to a cottage in the Highlands – on holiday.

I slid from the arm of the sofa into the seat. Nearly six years without a word and now this. I tried to reach you after we finished Uni, of course I did. You were the one who stood out, the friend I thought I’d found for life. Once Uni was over, other associations tailed off and calls were replaced with Facebook updates with the odd round-robin email. But ours was different.

To be honest, I hadn’t expected you to fall away like you did, Karen. We’d established a real bond – or so I thought. Afterwards, you moved to Bristol while I moved back to London, but I was certain we’d visit each other; I’d travel one weekend, you’d travel the next. I had my heart set not only on keeping in touch, but staying best friends.

I did go to stay with you at the start – just once, remember? You replied to my emails for a while, sent a cheery card that first Christmas, but then, like the rest, you drifted away from me and I never heard from you again. Until now.

I held the letter under my nose, stupid I know, just to see if there was a trace of you left on the paper. Then I held it to my chest and allowed your presence to sink into me again. You were my inspiration, the person I wanted to be. I’d never felt that kind of admiration about anyone before. You brought everything alive and coaxed me out of my shell.

With no siblings and a small disjointed family, my only proper relationships were with my parents and I’d always found them impossible to talk to. It had never occurred to me to bare my deepest feelings to them. You were different. I knew straight away the first time I spoke to you. All my doubts and failings came tumbling out, because you made me feel so safe, without any sting of judgement. No one had ever offered that to me before. No one else ever seemed to notice when something was wrong. I’d spent most of my life going it alone, because I was awkward and shy and people didn’t know what to do with me.

I brought my hand to my mouth. It must be a mistake. You must have mixed me up with someone else and posted the invitation to the wrong person. That would explain it. This was too much to expect after almost six years of silence; it was too big a deal. An invitation to spend fourteen days together out of the blue, without any preamble? But then that was you, Karen – always surprising people, keeping us all on our toes.

 

About AJ Waines

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AJ Waines has sold over 100,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany (Penguin Random House) and USA (audiobooks).

In 2015, she was featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and was ranked in the Top 20 UK authors on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Southampton, UK, with her husband. Visit her website and blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

‘No Longer Safe’ is available to buy on Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ebooks-No-Longer-Safe-J-Waines-ebook/dp/B018UAAAW4

 

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