A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “mystery”

Blog Blitz – ‘Fractured’ by Billy McLaughlin ~ @bilbob20

Big congratulations to Billy McLaughlin whose new book, ‘Fractured’ is out today as an eBook and is also available in paperback.  Having previously hosted Billy on my blog, I was delighted when he contacted me to ask if I would like to participate in a blog blitz.

Billy has written a special publication day guest post.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Even killers die!

A woman in a psychiatric hospital finds herself on the wrong side of the law when another patient is found murdered. Proving her innocence might have to wait though as she comes face to face with an old adversary.

 

Guest Post

Publication Day

So publication day for Fractured has finally arrived. A quick draft, consisting of approximately 20,000 words was written in May 2017. At the time I had just finished promoting The Dead of Winter and finishing up on The Daughter. In the year since the latter was released, Fractured has undergone several changes. I’m glad to be finally handing it over to you.

Today will be a day of reflection, nervousness and excitement. Many of you who pre-ordered woke up to find it on your kindle this morning. I know some of you have voraciously inhaled the past books within days of release. I imagine a couple of you might already be on Chapter twenty. I simply cannot write at the speed some of you read. I’m very impressed, if a little frustrated. The eighty stories in my head, the twenty five semi-written books on my laptop and the thousand other ideas on the backburner just won’t write themselves quickly enough for your liking, or mine.

So today I plan on spending the evening with some other writers, some readers, some family and friends as we all get together for a little online launch party. I’ve managed to get a few book prizes from some fellow authors as well. It is officially my last day as the sole owner of Fractured, and that’s a terrifying but thrilling thought. I really hope that you all enjoy it as much as I want you to, and as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I have one ritual when publication day comes. I just take a deep breath. That’s what I’m doing now as I bring this mini-blog blitz to a close and gear up for tonight’s online get together. I really want to thank ‘A Lover of Books’, and all the other bloggers who took part over the past five days. Good luck with all the prizes and see you soon.

Billy x

~~~~~

‘Fractured’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fractured-Billy-McLaughlin/dp/1724959778/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1535653001&sr=1-1

 

About Billy McLaughlin

Billy McLaughlin is the author of the Glasgow based DI Phil Morris series. Opening with the #1 thriller ‘Lost Girl,’ he followed it up with ‘In the Wake of Death’ & ‘The Daughter’. Work on a fourth DI Phil Morris entry is now underway.

His novelette ‘Invisible’ first arrived in March 2016 to rave reviews and was then followed by stand-alone novella ‘The Dead of Winter’ and the award-winning ‘Krampus’, a novelette released to raise money for an illness called NKH.

Boasting nearly 20,000 downloads in 2 years, McLaughlin unleashes his seventh release ‘Fractured’ on 31st August. The story reveals the fate of a character who previously graced the pages of his work, whilst spinning an entirely new twisted tale about two traumatized women who seek vengeance.

To see more information on future releases, please see http://www.facebook.com/billymclaughlinbooks or contact him on billymclaughlinbooks@gmail.com

 

Links

Amazon Page – https://mybook.to/BMB

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/bilbob20

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/billymclaughlinbooks

 

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Blog Tour – ‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’ by Hannah Lynn ~ @HMLynnauthor

‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’ was published as an eBook on the 11th July 2018 and is also available in paperback.  I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this book and would like to thank Hannah Lynn for inviting me to participate.

Do I have a treat for all of you today or what.  There are some Questions and Answers from the author, an extract from her book and there is also a giveaway which is being run throughout the tour.  All that to come in a minute though.  First, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Walter Augustus is dead. His current state of existence has become a monotony of sweet tea and lonely strolls and after decades stuck in the Interim — a posthumous waiting room for those still remembered on Earth — he is ready to move on. Only when he is forgotten by every living person will he be able to pass over and join his family in the next stage of the afterlife. At last the end is tantalizingly close, but bad luck and a few rash decisions may see him trapped in the Interim for all eternity.

Letty Ferguson is not dead. Letty Ferguson is a middle-aged shoe saleswoman who leads a pleasant and wholly unextraordinary life, barring the secret fortune she seems unable to tell her husband about. However, when she takes possession of an unassuming poetry anthology, life takes on a rather more extraordinary dimension.

 

Hannah Lynn on her new novel The Afterlife of Walter Augustus

How did you get the idea for The Afterlife of Water Augustus?

I can actually remember exactly when the idea came to me as I was in a really bad mood at the time! It was the weekend of my birthday and we were meant to be going on holiday, but my husband was unwell so we had to cancel. We also had visitors over, so between checking on my husband, looking after them and working I felt completely run off my feet.

One of our guests was watching a TV programme about a psychic, and that got me thinking about the afterlife, and how there could be enough space for everyone. I was still mulling over the concept when the idea of Walter being trapped until he was forgotten sprung into mind and I honestly thought, this is it, this is the reason I didn’t go on holiday because if I had I would never have had the idea.

 

That sounds like you’re a believer in fate?

Hmm, the jury’s out. So much is beyond our control and I’ve had a couple of very peculiar instances, but then there are too many bad things happening to good people for me to be convinced.

 

What did you find yourself researching for this book?

I spent a surprising amount of time researching the ins and out of professions in the 1800s. In my first draft Walter started out as a doctor, so I spent time researching the different type of medical practitioners that were around back then. Afterwards, when I decided that wasn’t quite right, I got stuck into research about ironwork and being a farrier.

 

Who was your favourite character?

This book was tough. Quite often I have a clear favourite, but in this one I don’t. I have genuine affection for them all, even the ones who don’t appear that nice!

 

Why did you write about the afterlife?

It’s always been a source of intrigue to me and I think to many others.  I’ve tried before to write novels about it, but this is the first time all my ideas seemed to fall into place.

 

How long did it take you to write The Afterlife of Water Augustus?

Walter was the quickest first draft I have ever written — however it then took another 3 drafts to get something more concrete to work with. In total, it was a little over 2 years.

 

What was the hardest part to write?

Probably making all the time frames to work logistically, particularly with Walter popping in and out of the Afterlife

 

Who should read the Afterlife of Water Augustus?

Anyone who is not convinced they are going to live forever! Seriously though, it’s a book that I hope will be both amusing and comforting.

 

Extract

Chapter Two

The corridor in the interim was by no means your standard corridor. In fact, it would not, by the average lay-person’s standard, qualify as a corridor at all. A sea of free-standing doors stretched out endlessly into an infinite landscape which — like the doors themselves — would change and transform almost daily. It was easy to see how people found pleasure in the unexpectedness and beauty that rose from this magnificent panoramic backdrop which was so central to the interim afterlife.  Although Walter was not one of those people.

Today, the doors were a heavily stained cedar, from which rose an earthy and damp perfume that blended perfectly with the cut grass and linen aroma. The floor, by contrast, was an infinite expanse of powdery sand that shimmered and glinted in the soft light, and from somewhere far off came a light-fingered mastery of the mandolin. The destination of these doors was, to Walter, as elusive as the manner in which they were constructed.

Perhaps, it was his age or the cynicism that had grown from being alone for so long, but to Walter, the interim no longer possessed the irrefutable prestige it once had. There had always been the odd rancid egg — those that had difficulty letting go or found pleasure in the obscure — and, of course, those whose memory lived on for the most abhorrent reasons — but it was the vast quantity of them still hanging around that was worrying. Men, calling themselves actors, gathered in droves, discussing the time they had a walk-on part as a half-eaten zombie or laughed about their pet cat on ice going viral, whatever that meant. Wives of ex-cons gossiped and whinged about the good old days over frozen margaritas and manicures, not in some secluded doorway, but out in the open, for everyone to see. Gamblers, addicts, and musicians: once their time here had been brief, but now, they never seemed to leave. Yes, in Walter’s opinion, the prestige of the interim had most definitely deteriorated.

Walter kept his head down as he hurried through the corridor. He had visited Betty often since she had moved into the home and barely needed to lift his eyes to find the way. After a few minutes and having successfully avoided the gaze of every person on his route, Walter found the door he was looking for. He twisted the handle and stepped through.

Elizabeth Mabel Green was the last person on Earth who knew who Walter Augustus was. She had read Seas, Swallows and all but Sorrows — the only remaining copy — in the early sixties, and while some parts of her memory had given way over time, she had remembered his name as clearly as she remembered her own. She remembered how she chewed on a crumpet whilst her father read the poems over breakfast and how the melted butter dripped down her chin as she listened. She remembered the coarse woollen blanket that covered her knees while she fought off the cold and re-read her favourites in the first home she had ever owned. She did not remember every word of every poem, but she remembered the way they made her feel.

When Pemberton finally departed the interim, Walter had assumed he would not be far behind. But Betty continued to cling to his name and his poems. Even now, in her last days, Walter could feel the tugs as he flitted through his memory. After all, Walter was family.

Betty Green’s hospital room was adorned with several bunches of flowers. It sported a small white cabinet and plug-in air fresheners at every available socket, although they did little to camouflage the scent of Dettol and urine that rose from the carpets and bed sheets. Betty lay beneath a powder blue blanket that, at a casual glance, appeared motionless, although Walter— and any person who cared to sit and study it long enough — could see there was still life in the old girl yet. Walter watched the faint rise and fall. He could hear a gentle hiss as the air was drawn in and then expelled from his great-great-great-great-granddaughter’s lungs and the weak double thud of her fading heartbeat.

‘Are your kitchen tiles a nightmare to clean?’

Walter jumped back from the bed.

Behind him, a small black box was affixed to the wall, inside which a tiny woman was on her hands and knees scrubbing a floor. She looked out at Walter, opened her mouth and spoke. Beads of sweat began to bubble on his forehead.

‘You need to try Fleazy Klean.’

The woman’s voice, rather than coming from her mouth, came from another little black box, two feet to the right. Walter shuddered. A television. Even avoiding the present day as he did, Walter had not managed to evade this unnatural source of wizardry. One glimpse of the shiny black glass was enough to send his post-organic frame rigid with tension and his surplus-to-requirement pulse into overdrive. He side-stepped away — keeping half an eye on the mini-man who was now on screen, apparently trying to sell him some kind of dental apothecary — and focused his attention on Betty.

Walter knew there must be pain; there always was at that stage, but for now, she seemed at peace.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, leaning over and whispering. ‘It’s not the end. Everyone’s waiting for you.’ Betty mumbled softly. Walter reached down and stroked her forehead. ‘Take all the time you need,’ he said. He waited another minute, offered a final uneasy glower to the man with too many teeth on the television, then opened the door and stepped back into the corridor, a spritely spring in his step as he walked.

***

Low slung clouds shrouded the sky as Letty strolled up the high street.  The evening was cool, and a light breeze carried on it an aroma of oak trees, honeysuckle, and the slight hint of motorbike fuel. Donald would be glad of rain, Letty thought. The humidity of the last month had played havoc with his joints too. A little way up the high street, she stopped. Resting her arm against the yellowish Bradstone wall, she kneaded the base of her spine with her knuckles. In one of the stores across the road, the back-to-school sales signs were already being pulled down and replaced with pumpkin banners ready for Halloween. Letty’s stomach churned. If the thirty-first of October marked everyone else’s Halloween, Letty’s personal day of nightmares came a few weeks earlier each year.

Despite living less than five miles away, Letty and her sister Victoria saw each other an average of three times a year, Christmas, the twins’ birthday, and once in July to remember their mother’s birthday. Occasionally, they would place a meeting somewhere between January and July to bridge the sixth month gap, but that was not always the case. As it was, Victoria had cancelled the July meet-up this year, as the twins had a last-minute gymkhana competition they simply couldn’t afford to miss.

There were various reasons that meetings with Victoria tended to be tense, one of the overwhelming factors being money. While Letty suffered from an affliction of saving money, the same could not be said for her sister.

‘It will just be a short-term loan,’ Victoria said the last time. ‘And the interest we’ll give you will be far better than any you’d get at the bank.’

‘But what about Mum’s inheritance?’ Letty said. ‘That was over twenty thousand pounds.’

‘My thoughts exactly. And I’m guessing it’s just sitting in your account earning you nothing. If you look at it that way, we’re actually doing you a favour. Think of it as an investment opportunity.’

Letty had mumbled something unintelligible as she shifted uncomfortably.

‘Great,’ Victoria said. ‘Do you want me to set up a bank transfer before I go?’

‘What’s she doing with all their money?’ Donald said when Letty told him of the conversation a couple of days later. ‘And what happened to her share?’

‘I didn’t want to ask.’

Donald huffed. ‘Well, you know how much you’ve got left of that money. If you think we can lend her a couple of grand, then it’s up to you. But don’t go leaving yourself short.’

That had been over a year ago, and Letty had neither seen or heard anything of her investment opportunity since.

The other point of tension came from the children. As anyone who had witnessed Letty at work could testify, she had an uncanny affinity for small children. Be it screaming toddlers, or sulky teenagers, somehow Letty could bring the best out of them all. All children, it seemed, apart from her nephew and niece.

Whilst some may have seen fit to liken the pair to characters from a Stephen King novel, Letty would have considered this unfair, given the possible moral redeemability of the bloodsucking clowns and monsters Mr. King portrayed. Likewise, adjectives such as spirited and boisterous seemed far more suited to rescue puppies than to the double delinquents with whom she somehow shared DNA. Born after years and years of trying, Victoria viewed her children as nothing short of miracles. Throw in the added guilt she felt at being an older parent and a father who was barely home, and it was clear how Victoria and Felix had raised nothing short of monsters.

Every visit included a fight. Sometimes, these involved weapons, such as a plastic Buzz Lightyear or a conveniently placed lamp. Other times, it was simply teeth and nails.

‘They’re energetic,’ Victoria said. ‘Lots of intelligent children are like this.’

Letty wasn’t so sure. The twins’ birthday, the singular time of year when Letty truly considered giving up baking for good.

The cake thing had become somewhat of a venture lately. Twelve months ago, she had been doing one order, maybe two a month. Now it was more like that a week. And gone were the days of simple round cakes with a little bit of pipe work. In the last month alone, she had created one Peppa Pig cake, two M&M piñata cakes, a Louis Vuitton handbag, three cupcake wedding towers, and a hen-do cake that even now turned her cheeks scarlet at the memory. Of course, the area manager had dropped by for a chat on the morning she had taken that one into work. The meeting had been tortuous. Letty sat nodding, her mouth bone dry, beads of sweat trickling down her forehead as the box sat perched above his head resting on top of the size 12 men’s brogues.

‘There’s really no need to look so worried,’ the manager had said. ‘Everyone’s numbers are down on this time last year. You should see Stroud’s numbers.’

Letty nodded mutely.

When he finally left, she had told Joyce she was taking an early break, at which point she collapsed onto a box of lime green flip-flops, red-faced and trembling. No more hen party cakes, she decided after that one. Not unless they were picked up from home.

‘You should be charging proper money for these,’ Donald said, almost every night as she stood in the kitchen rolling out fondant and mixing up buttercream.

‘I’m not doing it for the money.’

‘Well, maybe you should be. You’re wasted at that shop. And we can’t rely on my wage forever. I’m getting old.’

Despite Donald’s concerns, Letty was savvy enough not to be out of pocket. She charged enough to cover the ingredients and a little bit more so that people felt they were getting quality. In her opinion, people always became suspicious if they thought things were too cheap.

The sky twisted with soft greys and lilacs as Letty ambled towards the crossroads. Somewhere, a bonfire was burning, and the tang of pine drifted the air.  She glanced down at her watch. Five thirty-two. Friday night meant Donald would be out for drinks with the other men from the water board. A homemade pie was defrosting in the larder, and a large apple crumble awaited them for dessert. She had a little time to spare. With one last glance at her watch, she changed her course and crossed the road. Thirty seconds later, she was standing inside the bank.

Letty preferred these bank machines, as unlike the others on the high street, they were tucked away inside a building. Whenever she used the outside ones, it felt as though someone was there, peering over her shoulder, trying to steal her PIN code or tutting if she took too long. That afternoon, only one of the machines was in working order, and when a young man with a toddler in tow stepped through the automatic door only a moment after she did, she waved him in front.

‘Honestly, you go,’ she said.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Of course, of course. It’s no problem.’

Letty stood what she considered a suitable distance behind, while the man did his business. After he finished, she offered him a polite smile and watched as he exited the room. Only after the automatic doors had closed and she felt certain that no one else would be entering for at least a minute, Letty moved to the cash machine, inserted her card, and tapped the screen.

Entering her PIN was a reflex response. After all, she had had the same PIN for every card that she had ever owned and had no intention of changing it anytime soon. A series of options, including Cash or On-Screen Balance, appeared in front of her. She selected balance.

As she waited for the number to appear, she withdrew a small notebook and pen from her handbag pocket and wrote the date at the top. A moment later, a number appeared. Sixty-seven thousand, six hundred and sixty-eight pounds and twenty-four pence. Letty wrote it down in her notebook. After confirming with the machine that she did not require any more services, she withdrew her card, placed it back in her tattered old wallet, and selected another.

This second account gave a similar reading to the first, as did the third and fourth she checked. The fifth came in slightly lower, at only twelve thousand, two hundred and nine pounds and thirty-three pence. She was about to check her sixth when a cough behind her caused her to jump.

‘Sorry,’ Letty gasped. She pulled out her card and hurriedly backed away from the machine. ‘I’m all done now.’

Even two minutes later, when she was back on the street, her pulse was still pounding. Her money situation, she reasoned, had lost control. Letty sighed, causing a small flock of pigeons on the pavement beside her to take flight. She was going to have to tell Donald sooner or later. She just had to find the right way to word it.

***

Deciding to make the most of what was possibly his last day in the interim, Walter gathered a loaf of bread and small bottle of ale from his miraculously stocked larder and placed them into his satchel. He was dressed in his usual attire of a twill woven shirt and breeches, but had abandoned his apron for the day. With a light-hearted jaunt, he stepped out through his back door and strolled to the end of the garden.

A narrow path lined with daisies and buttercups materialised and meandered down to the bottom of the cliff. His feet crunched on the fresh grass. He would miss this scent, he decided, but then perhaps, it was the same wherever he was going next; after all, it seemed too good a choice to meddle with. Walter closed his eyes and breathed in the warm, salty air. He couldn’t have asked for a better day.

A little way away from the shingled coast, Walter was stopped. He stared and blinked and felt his pulse hasten in his veins. Dampness built on the palms of his hand, and a noose-like sensation tightened around his throat. He gaped at the figure on the shore. This was his beach. Why would anyone come here? Who even knew about it? Walter’s pulse cranked up another notch as he scanned the area. It was definitely his beach, his place alone, his private corner of the interim. Perhaps it was a mistake, he thought and, with silent steps, trod forward. The grass gave way to sand dunes and then to shingle, all the while his eyes locked on the shadowy figure. He was less than six feet away before the air was knocked from his lungs.

‘No,’ Walter gasped.

The face turned around to look at him. It was a long face, so long it was difficult to see where his nose ended and chin began. His cheeks were hollowed, as if sucking on a sweet, and the smell of pear drops that emanated from his breath appeared to confirm this. In one fluid movement, the body went from sitting to standing and then peering straight down his nose to Walter.

‘Well, Augustus,’ he said his voice patronisingly slow. ‘What have you done this time?’

 

~~~~~

Wow!  This extract has certainly left me intrigued.

‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Afterlife-Walter-Augustus-Hannah-Lynn-ebook/dp/B07CLL98QC/ref=pd_sbs_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=BMK2ZGD0YFDY3D39PP2N

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Afterlife-Walter-Augustus-Hannah-Lynn-ebook/dp/B07CLL98QC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Giveaway

To coincide with this blog tour, Hannah Lynn is running a competition.  These are the  prizes:-

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader, plus an eBook copy of ‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’.

1 of 5 x paperback copies of ‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’, signed by Hannah Lynn.

To enter, click on this link – Rafflecopter Giveaway.

 

About Hannah Lynn

Hannah Lynn was born in 1984 and grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction. Her first novel, Amendments, was published in 2015, her latest novel, The Afterlife of Walter Augustus, is out July 2018. Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/HMLynnauthor

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HannahLynnAuthor

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13830772.Hannah_M_Lynn

 

Other Books

‘Amendments’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amendments-H-M-Lynn-ebook/dp/B00W1X95S2

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Amendments-H-M-Lynn-ebook/dp/B00W1X95S2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

The Guernsey Novels Blog Tour

I am thrilled to be helping to kick off this blog tour, along with TripFiction, Chat About Books and Breaks.com.  I would like to thank The Globeflower Agency for inviting me to take part.  I have read and reviewed a couple of Anne Allen’s previous books and her latest one really was fabulous.

You are all in for a treat because not only do I have a guest post from Anne Allen herself, but there is also a fantastic competition being run throughout this tour.

 

Guest Post

Anne’s Idyllic Childhood Holidays Inspired Her Love of The Sea

Anne Allen was born and raised in landlocked Rugby. However, she recollects the magical summer holidays she spent with her Welsh grandparents in Rhosneigr, Anglesey.

“Thanks to the wonderful summer holidays I spent in Rhosneigr, I have developed a life-long passion for the sea,” Anne says.

“The sea is definitely in my blood and has shaped my life.”

Anne’s grandparents ran the main village shop in Rhosneigr, back then it was called Empire Stores. They sold grocery produce, fresh fish and shellfish, including lobster.

Whilst visiting her grandparents, Anne and her sister slept in a little attic room which they accessed via a step ladder. Their room had a window looking over the road and down to the beach.

“As we spent the majority of our year, in landlocked Rugby. Our summer holidays in Rhosneigr were magical and we had adventures like the characters out of Enid Blyton books.

“We would spend most of our days on the beautiful beach with our buckets and spades digging up the masses of golden sand.”

Anne’s father taught her how to fish for perch in the local lake, Llyn Maelog, on the edge of the village.

“We went in the early evening but we rarely caught anything. However, I enjoyed spending quality time with my father.”

Anne’s happy childhood memories of being beside the seaside in Anglesey, led her to spend a lifetime of trying to get close to the sea and eventually inspired her writing career. She continued living in landlocked Rugby until tragedy struck and changed her life forever.

“Whilst in my mid-thirties, my husband died and I was left to raise three young children on my own.

“During my grieving period, I craved to be beside the sea again.

“We initially moved to Devon. However, I then visited Guernsey and it’s golden sands reminded me of my childhood holidays in Rhosneigr.

“Craving a fresh start, I sold my house and moved to Guernsey!”

She initially tried to buy a small guest-house in St Peter Port to use as a residential health centre. However, the deal fell through shortly after they arrived on the island with her car laden with all their belongings.

“I was devastated, but looking back I can see it was just as well, for at the time interest rates were sky high and financially it would have been difficult.”

Initially, life on the island was not plain sailing, as a non-local she had to live ‘Open Market’ which was both restrictive and expensive. Anne set up her own psychotherapy practice on the island and began to build up a number of regular and loyal clients. With their support, she was eventually able to get a housing licence. Anne and her children created many happy memories on the island.

“One friend had a boat and we would go out for fun trips with our children, mooring up in one of the lovely south coast bays. The boys would jump into the sea and splash around while us girls lay decorously on deck to top up our tans.”

Anne never envisaged leaving Guernsey, however, life threw her some curve balls, and she eventually moved back to Devon. She had always craved creativity, yet, never found the time due to being a busy working mum of three children. When they flew the nest, she eagerly put pen to paper and drafted her first novel, Dangerous Waters. A few months later, she was encouraged to enter a true-life writing competition in Prima magazine and was surprised when she won. This helped to boost her confidence and encouraged her to publish her first novel.

The novel was awarded Silver (Adult Fiction) in TheWishingShelfAwards 2012. Since then she has published five more books in The Guernsey Novels series.

 

About Anne Allen

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. She was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea.

Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but has long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of her mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now retired from the ‘day job’, there’s more time to write and Anne has now published six books in The Guernsey Novels series. She will be publishing her seventh novel later in the year.

To find out more about Anne visit her website: you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Competition

 

Win a two-night break

courtesy of The Guernsey Novels by Anne Allen

Would you like to visit gorgeous Guernsey? Well, here is your chance to win a two-night trip to this beautiful island, courtesy of Anne Allen, author of the riveting book series, The Guernsey Novels.

The Guernsey Novels

Anne Allen’s fascinating book series, The Guernsey Novels, comprises six standalone novels. All the stories in her novel series, take place predominantly on the island of Guernsey and are linked by characters popping up from one book to another.

They provide an ongoing story of a ‘village’ spread, so far, over 6 years. Each book is standalone with fresh new lead characters with their own links to the German Occupation during World War 2, having an impact on the present.

The Guernsey Novels are a mix of mystery, family drama, and love story and influenced by the author’s love of the island where she spent many happy years. Guernsey itself is always a main character in the books, offering a gorgeous backdrop to all the sorrows, joys and tragedies she describes.

The Guernsey Novels are available from all leading bookstores:

Book #1 Dangerous Waters

Book #2 Finding Mother

Book #3 Guernsey Retreat

Book #4 The Family Divided

Book #5 Echoes of Time

Book #6 The Betrayal

 

Enter the prize draw to win a two-night break at Hotel Ziggurat in Guernsey

Enter The Guernsey Novels Prize Draw https://js.gleam.io/e.js

Read more details about the prize draw, including the Terms and Conditions on Anne Allen’s Website

 

Blog Tour Organised by The Globeflower Agency Ltd

The Globeflower Agenc

 

Blog Tour – ‘Bryant & May – Hall of Mirrors’ by Christopher Fowler

‘Hall of Mirrors’ is the fifteenth book in the Bryant & May series.  It was published on the 22nd March 2018 in hardback by Doubleday, and as an eBook by Transworld Digital.  I was invited to take part in the blog tour for this book by Anne Cater of Random Things Through My Letterbox.

There is a chance to win a copy of ‘Hall of Mirrors’ further down the page.  First though you will be wanting to know what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

The year is 1969 and ten guests are about to enjoy a country house weekend at Tavistock Hall. But one amongst them is harbouring thoughts of murder. . .

The guests also include the young detectives Arthur Bryant and John May – undercover, in disguise and tasked with protecting Monty Hatton-Jones, a whistle-blower turning Queen’s evidence in a massive bribery trial. Luckily, they’ve got a decent chap on the inside who can help them – the one-armed Brigadier, Nigel ‘Fruity’ Metcalf.

The scene is set for what could be the perfect country house murder mystery, except that this particular get-together is nothing like a Golden Age classic. For the good times are, it seems, coming to an end. The house’s owner – a penniless, dope-smoking aristocrat – is intent on selling the estate (complete with its own hippy encampment) to a secretive millionaire but the weekend has only just started when the millionaire goes missing and murder is on the cards. But army manoeuvres have closed the only access road and without a forensic examiner, Bryant and May can’t solve the case. It’s when a falling gargoyle fells another guest that the two incognito detectives decide to place their future reputations on the line. And in the process discover that in Swinging Britain nothing is quite what it seems…

So gentle reader, you are cordially invited to a weekend in the country. Expect murder, madness and mayhem in the mansion!

~~~~~

‘Hall of Mirrors’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bryant-May-Hall-Mirrors-Book-ebook/dp/B0732K6JH4/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1523385562&sr=1-1

 

Competition

One very lucky person will win a hardback copy of ‘Hall of Mirrors’.  To enter just leave a comment telling me who your favourite fictional detective is.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 18th April 2018.

The winner will be chosen at random within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be given to Anne Cater who will then pass them on to the publisher.

 

About Christopher Fowler

Christopher Fowler was born in Greenwich, London. He is the multi award-winning author of 45 novels and short story collections, and the author of the Bryant & May mysteries. His novels include ‘Roofworld’, ‘Spanky’, ‘Psychoville’, ‘Calabash’ and two volumes of memoirs, the award-winning ‘Paperboy’ and ‘Film Freak’. In 2015 he won the CWA Dagger In The Library. His latest books are ‘Wild Chamber’ and ‘Hall Of Mirrors’. His most recent collection ‘Red Gloves’, 25 stories of unease, marked his first 25 years of writing. Other recent novels include the comedy-thriller ‘Plastic’, the haunted house chiller ‘Nyctophobia’ and the JG Ballard-esque ‘The Sand Men’.

He has written comedy and drama for BBC radio, script, features and columns for national press, graphic novels, the play ‘Celebrity’ and the ‘War Of The Worlds’ videogame for Paramount, starring Sir Patrick Stewart. His short story ‘The Master Builder’ became a feature film entitled ‘Through The Eyes Of A Killer’, starring Tippi Hedren. Among his awards are the Edge Hill prize 2008 for ‘Old Devil Moon’, the Last Laugh prize 2009 for ‘The Victoria Vanishes’ and again in 2015 for ‘The Burning Man’.

Christopher has achieved several ridiculous schoolboy fantasies, releasing a terrible Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, writing a stage show, posing as the villain in a Batman graphic novel, running a night club, appearing in the Pan Books of Horror and standing in for James Bond. After living in the USA and France he is now married and lives in London’s King’s Cross and Barcelona.

 

Links

Website – http://www.christopherfowler.co.uk/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/chrisfowlerauthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Peculiar

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ by K A Hitchins

The Gardener’s Daughter was published on the 15th March 2018 in paperback and as an eBook by Instant Apostle.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which I have interviewed K A Hitchins.

 

First of all can you tell me a bit about your new book please?

The Gardener’s Daughter is a Young Adult thriller exploring the theme of identity. The main character is a motherless nineteen-year-old girl who accidentally discovers she was adopted and runs away in search of her biological father. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang,  her journey of discovery unearths the shocking truth behind her mother’s death and the identity of her real father – with plenty of excitement and a sprinkling of romance along the way.

 

What made you decide to write this book?

When I lost my Dad to cancer and began speaking to friends about what he had meant to me, I realised just how many people don’t have a good relationship with their fathers, or even have any real contact with them. Most of the positive things in my life are a direct result of the happy and secure upbringing my parents gave me, rather than the result of anything especially good or talented about me. What would happen, I wondered, if I woke up one day and realised that everything in my childhood had been a lie, and that my real father had abandoned me before I was born? That was the premise for the book. Ava’s identity is intrinsically linked to knowing where she’s come from and finding a place she can call home.

 

How long did it take you to write?

It took about five months to write, but then another couple of months working with my copy editor and proof reader to really tighten up the manuscript.

 

Did you have to do any research?

Much of the action takes place in a cheesy caravan holiday park. As I’ve had more than my fair share of family caravan holidays, I didn’t have to do much research on the setting. Surprisingly the most difficult part of the book was the historical era. I’ve set the book in 2003, before Facebook, Twitter and Smartphones. I had to keep reminding myself that my main character, Ava, couldn’t check her emails on her phone. It’s amazing how much we depend on technology to know what’s going on and to connect with people. Without it, Ava has to depend on more traditional detecting methods to track down her real father.

 

What do you hope readers will get out of this book?

I hope readers have a really great experience. I love it when I get reviews from people who couldn’t go to bed until they’d finished one of my stories. That makes it all worthwhile. However, there is an underlying message in the book about love and forgiveness which I hope readers will find uplifting.

 

Are you working on any other writing projects?

I have another completed manuscript called Love in the Village of Drought which requires some editing before I submit it to a publisher, and I’m in the very early stages of writing my fifth novel, provisionally entitled, ‘The Shortness of Life’.

 

What has the publishing process been like for you?

I started writing seriously in January 2012. While I was writing my first book, The Girl at the End of the Road, I joined the HarperCollins online writing community called Authonomy. Authors would post up their chapters or completed novels and receive feedback and ratings from other writers and readers. Every month the top five books would receive an editorial report from HarperCollins, with the possibility of a publishing deal. The feedback I received from other writers really helped me polish my manuscript about a shallow, materialistic man who falls in love with a woman with Aspergers until it was ready to be sent out to publishers and agents.

By January 2015, my novel reached number four out of more than 6,000 books on the Authonomy site. I waited for the promised critical feedback from a Harper Collins Editor, but heard nothing. I was still sending the manuscript out and in May 2015 I was offered a contract from a small independent publisher called Instant Apostle. After a few agonising hours of wondering whether to hold on for my Harper Collins review or accept the bird in the hand, I agreed to meet the publisher and signed the contract the following week. Four days later, Harper Collins sent me their review and expressed an interest in the book.

I must confess, I had a short internal tussle of, ‘What if’, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m with the right publisher for now. They are small, flexible, inclusive and supportive, and want to bring me into all the decision making relating to the cover and the blurb etc. Even with this support, the experience has been overwhelming so I know I wasn’t ready back then for anything more high-powered.

While planning the launch for The Girl at the End of the Road (which took place in March 2016) I mentioned to my publisher that I’d started writing a book about a girl in a coma who was trying to solve her own murder. They immediately asked me to sign a contract, even though I’d only written a few chapters. The Key of All Unknown was launched in October 2016. It’s the story of brilliant scientific researcher, Tilda Moss, who wakes up in hospital unable to speak or move and with no recollection of what happened to her. Determined to find answers and prove to her family and doctors that she’s not in a persistent vegetative state, she searches for clues in the conversations she overhears and in the fractured memories that haunt her.

In between writing The Girl at the End of the Road in 2012 and The Key of All Unknown in 2016, I’d finished two further manuscripts: Love in the Village of Drought in 2013 and The Gardener’s Daughter in 2015.  It’s been great to work with the Instant Apostle editors to bring the latter project to completion. I can’t believe I’m about to publish my third novel in two years. I’ve learned such a lot about the publishing process and how to promote my books on social media, that I now feel confident to call myself a proper writer.

 

What advice have you got for anyone wishing to write a book? 

My advice to everyone is to read widely and step outside of your comfort zone every now and then. It’s all too easy to get into a rut with a favourite genre, but mixing it up a little and picking up a book you wouldn’t usually choose, particularly one which stretches your heart, mind and soul, is a great way to broaden your reading experience and improve your writing.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Writing is what I do in my spare time. I’m a busy mum, a Trustee of a children’s charity working in Togo, West Africa, and I also help other authors with their social media promotion. It’s difficult  not to let my writing get pushed to the bottom of the pile of things to do. To get away from the ever present housework, I take myself out to a supermarket café at least once a week for a couple of hours of writing.

 

 

Book Blurb

Motherless nineteen-year-old Ava has always believed brilliant botanist Theo Gage to be her father. But when a chance discovery reveals she is not his daughter, her world falls apart. Determined to discover her true identity, Ava impetuously runs away and enlists the help of inexperienced private detective, Zavier Marshall. Pursued by shadowy figures, she takes on a new name and follows in her dead mother’s footsteps to work at the mysterious Fun World Holiday Camp. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, will Ava survive in a world where she’s more valuable dead than alive? Will she discover the shocking truth behind her mother’s death? And will she find her real father before it s too late?

‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ can be purchased from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gardeners-Daughter-K-Hitchins-ebook/dp/B07B3V1PQF/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1521880845&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=kathryn+hitchins

 

 

About K A Hitchins

K A Hitchins studied English, Religious Studies and Philosophy at Lancaster University and later obtained a Masters in Postmodern Literatures in English from Birkbeck College, London University. Her debut novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, was published by Instant Apostle in March 2016, followed by The Key of All Unknown in October 2016. Both books were short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2017, with The Key of All Unknown reaching the final three. Her third novel The Gardener’s Daughter was published on 15 March 2018. She is married with two children and lives in Hertfordshire.

 

 

Links

Website:   www.kahitchins.co.uk

Twitter:  @KathrynHitchins

Facebook:-

Kathryn Hitchins

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015464465799

K A Hitchins, Author page

https://www.facebook.com/KathrynHitchins/

Instagram:  kathryn_hitchins

 

Blog Tour – ‘Our Little Secret’ by Claudia Carroll

‘Our Little Secret’ was published as an eBook and in paperback on the 8th February 2018 by Avon Books.  I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour.  I have heard so much about this book and I really hope to read it one of these days.

I have an exclusive extract for all of you, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

A sparkling story about what happens when you let someone into your life… but they turn out to want more than you’d bargained for!

Sarah Dee has the perfect life. A high-flying job in a law firm, a beautiful daughter and a house to die for. So how does she find herself looking in through the kitchen window while another woman enjoys it all?

When Sarah takes pity on a struggling young graduate who can’t get a job, she thinks she’s doing the right thing. She’s being kind, generous and helpful to others, as she always is. But as Sarah allows the younger woman into her home, her law firm and even her family, is there more to this pretty youngster than meets the eye? And could this be a good deed that goes further than expected?

Claudia Carroll does it again with a sparkling new novel about what happens when your life becomes up for grabs…

 

Extract

Liz

‘And now, I’d ask you all to raise your glasses to my beautiful bride. Stella, you make me happier than I ever could have dared to hope, and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t fall in love with you just a little bit more. So thank you, my love. Thank you for being my soulmate. Thank you for being my life partner throughout all these years of happily unmar­ried bliss.’

‘Yeah, because it’s all downhill from here you know!’ some smartarse from the back of the function room yelled out. I swiveled around to see who it was, but it was too packed to see properly.

‘Thank you for putting up with me,’ Tony, the groom went on, valiantly soldiering on with his speech, ‘and for being such a fantastic mum to our gorgeous kids all these years. Stella, you’re the glue that keeps our little family together, and I love you just as much, if not more than I did on the day we first met. I can’t tell you what joy it gives me to be able to say that in front of all our nearest and dearest. I love you from the bottom of a very full heart. And today Stella, you’ve made me the happiest man on earth. Ladies and gentlemen, will you please raise your glasses to my beautiful bride!’

There was a round of thunderous applause at that and not long after, the happy couple took to the floor for their first dance. Meanwhile, the rest of the guests, myself and Harry included, formed an impromptu circle around them, as bride and groom whirled away to their first dance.

Which was to There May Be Trouble Ahead, by Nat King Cole by the way, to gusts of giggles from the assembled throng. But this couple had already dealt with just about everything life can throw at any of us; the good, the bad and the ugly. What further trouble, we all wondered, might possibly lie ahead for them, that they hadn’t already come shining through?

Harry’s chunky hand slipped over mine as we stood side-by-side watching the bride and groom dance and I squeezed it back, really delighted that the day had gone off so well. Stella may have claimed to be a ‘Ryanair bride’ who insisted on no fuss or frills, but still. This was her wedding day and I knew she wanted it all to run smoothly. And by and large, it had.

It was coming up to 9pm but, amazingly, the sun had shone all day and it was still bright enough that smokers and anyone who wanted a gulp of fresh air could drift in and out to the gardens through the open terrace doors, without fear of getting hypothermia. We were in the gorgeous, uber-luxurious Rathsallagh House for the wedding and the staff had really excelled themselves. The banqueting hall where the reception dinner was held had been lovingly decorated in delicate shades of lavender and lilac, all to compliment Stella’s bridal colours.

~~~~~

Has the extract left you needing to read this book?  If so, it’s available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Our-Little-Secret-Claudia-Carroll-ebook/dp/B073YKLMY2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519493725&sr=1-1

 

About Claudia Carroll

Claudia Carroll is a number one bestselling author in Ireland and a top ten bestseller in the UK, selling over 670,000 copies of her paperbacks alone. She was born in Dublin where she still lives and where she has worked extensively both as a theatre and stage actress. She now writes full-time. Her 2013 novel Me and You was shortlisted for the Bord Gais Popular Choice Irish Book Award.

 

Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Claudiacarrollbooks/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/carrollclaudia

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16566.Claudia_Carroll

 

Guest Post by Andrea Jutson

I would like to welcome Andrea Jutson to my blog.  Her book, ‘Senseless’, the first volume of The James Paxton Mysteries was published in paperback and as an eBook last month by Williams & Whiting.  Andrea has written a guest post which I hope you all enjoy.

~~~~~

Pick Your Poison – The Many Flavours of the Crime Novel

What I love about reading – and writing – crime is that, as all crime readers know, there’s no such thing as “the crime novel”. When I set out to write my first crime novel, Senseless, choosing my genre wasn’t as simple as going ‘I’ll write a book with murders in it’. I had to fight really hard to keep my writing and my characters on track, with just the right level of humour to keep it from being the sort of dry police procedural I’d grown tired of, but not so funny it headed into screwball territory. I spent some time reading the kind of authors I aspired to be, and thinking: “What would Mark Billingham sound like here?” Or conversely, having to murder my own best lines, in agony, because the punchlines ruined the punch.

It made me really think about how much crime, as a supposedly single genre, really encompasses all sorts of different conventions that each require their own skills. There’s cosy, there’s Sherlock Holmes-style detective, there’s the eight-minute hardboiled, and six-minute with a few soft bits, there’s darkly funny, the serial killer thriller, there’s police procedural, spy novel, historical – and that has as many sub-genres again – screwball caper, psychological thriller, supernatural…the list goes on. Despite all the genre-blending and bending that goes on, the hardest thing for me as a new writer doing a serial killer thriller with elements of the supernatural was staying on my side of the road. Or even finding the road.

Oddly, the amount of detail I spent describing people’s meals also seemed to come highly loaded – too much detail, and it sounded like a cosy American novel where everyone always seems to eat delicious meals of lobster or linguine with garlic-buttered dinner rolls hot from the oven and pie for dessert, but too little and it came out Lee Child. This seems like a pretty firm rule, and yet while Canadian author Louise Penny is always describing her characters’ gourmet meals – so far, so cosy – the books are somehow psychological studies. Likewise, Andrea Camilleri’s novels can spend chapters on the seafood and pasta dishes Inspector Montalbano stuffs in, and they’re hilarious, but they’re also as political as all hell. The very best crime novelists – hello, Stuart MacBride – can play very close to the edge, regularly veering off into farce while still managing to shock the hell out of us. Rules, it would seem, are meant to be broken.

It makes me shake my head when I see pages of reviews devoted to supposedly “proper” literature, when crime is reduced to just a sidebar. To me, crime is the most multi-faceted genre of all, and it’s definitely the hardest to write. Not only do crime authors need to give you plenty of clues – often more than the real police get – but like the anti-Christmas present, the clues should only be recognisable once they’re all wrapped up. Many’s the time, while pondering how much to reveal at any given moment, that I wished I’d started something easier, like a doctorate.

Now that I’ve had some time to let my own voice develop, the battle’s become easier. I’ve got to understand my characters better, and who I am as a writer. If the flavour of my books matures along the way, that’s fine with me. The wonderful thing about subtly changing your formula is that there are always plenty of readers with tastes to match. (Although the one sub-genre that stubbornly fails to excite me is the psychological thriller – I’ve never been super-keen on unpleasant protagonists! Unless they’re funny…)

 

About my books

Senseless and The Darkness Looking Back both feature barman and reluctant psychic James Paxton, an Englishman who tries to escape his reputation back home, but ends up hunting murderers in his adopted city of Auckland, New Zealand. The twists and turns are spiced with dark humour and the beautiful Auckland setting (if I do say so myself). They are now available for the first time in the UK, and are intended to be read, first and foremost, as crime novels, with a tinge of the supernatural.

 

Here’s the blurb to Senseless:

A small park in a nice Auckland suburb is the least likely spot to stumble across a body. The discovery of a man recently bludgeoned to death shatters the illusion of midwinter calm. But unfortunately for James Paxton, death is nothing out of the ordinary. Suspicion falls all too easily on the Englishman who’s hiding a secret. Not only did Paxton find the dead man – he spoke to him, too. Gifts he wished he never had are called into play when Mark Bradley begs him to track down his killer, for the sake of his daughter. Paxton’s carefully constructed new world threatens to crumble as he is sucked into the hunt for a predator, while the police snap close at his heels. And the corpses keep on mounting, one by one …

A darkly gripping mystery with an other-worldly twist.

 

Paxton’s story continues in The Darkness Looking Back. No matter which flavour of crime novel you prefer, I hope you’ll enjoy them!

~~~~~

‘Senseless’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Senseless-1-James-Paxton-Mysteries/dp/1911266829/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518460367&sr=1-2&keywords=andrea+jutson

eBook – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Senseless-James-Paxton-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B078S6YT1F/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518460367&sr=1-1&keywords=andrea+jutson

 

About Andrea Jutson

Andrea Jutson is a writer from Auckland, New Zealand. She has written two crime novels featuring reticent medium James Paxton, the first of which is Senseless, and is at work on a third. In her career, Andrea has been a bookseller, journalist, collections librarian, book buyer and journalist again, and once spent almost a year selling tickets at a heritage site in London. She now works at a public relations agency, and lives in South Auckland.

To find out more about Andrea Jutson’s books visit – http://williamsandwhiting.com/

 

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

 

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

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‘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

blog-tour-poster

‘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

Author Picture

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

 

‘Dangerous Waters’ by Anne Allen

‘Dangerous Waters’ is Anne Allen’s first novel.  I was asked by Anne if I would review her book and as it appealed to me I was more than happy to.  This is a story of mystery, loss and love.

Fifteen years ago, Jeanne Le Page was involved in an awful boating accident in which she lost both her mother and father.  Unable to cope and suffering from traumatic amnesia she fled from the island of Guernsey.  Now after learning of her grandmother’s death, Jeanne has to return there to sort out her affairs including the cottage which she has inherited.  Deeply unhappy after the recent end of a long-term relationship, Jeanne has no desire to pick up her life on the island and does not really know what she is going to do.

Having suffered from nightmares for years following the accident, Jeanne finds that her return to Guernsey triggers flashbacks which become extremely frightening.  Over the coming months Jeanne makes a very disturbing discovery.

I found ‘Dangerous Waters’ to be an enjoyable read.  The two genres romance and mystery worked well together.  I really liked Jeanne as a character and enjoyed getting to know her.  You get a good feel for her including what types of books she likes to read and what music she listens to.  I also found it admirable how she got on with things despite what she had been through, thus achieving a lot.  I loved the descriptions of the cottage and the garden too.

You also get to learn quite a bit about Guernsey, both in the present and the past during WWII when it was occupied.  Food certainly played a very big part in this story too.  There is a handy map of Guernsey at the front of the book, a glossary at the back and even some recipes.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

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