Try Not To Breathe – Getting to know Holly Seddon.

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Try not to Breathe was a brilliant book I read earlier this year (my review and details to follow) so I was very happy to get to interview Holly Seddon and find out more about the author behind the story. Thanks so much for taking the time Holly!

 

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I grew up in various small towns and villages around the Westcountry but spent the longest time – from 11 to 19 – living in Devon. I went to tonnes of schools, some of them more welcoming than others, and I was a bit of an oddball. I once carried a dead bee around all day to give it a proper funeral back at home, so as you can imagine how many kids were queuing up to be my friend.

My parents definitely weren’t the type to work 9-5 in the same job for years, so they did lots of interesting things and I inherited their itchy feet. They were very encouraging and understanding. They thought we could do or be anything, in never crossed their minds that we shouldn’t.

 

My dad’s a brilliant cook and when I decided (aged nine) to be a vegetarian, unlike a lot of parents, he threw himself into creating lots of meat-free meals for me. He never once complained, even though it was a gigantic pain. I didn’t realise how unusual that was at the time. He was a stay at home dad for a while and that was a real privilege as a daughter. My mum has a super strong work ethic and there were times when she strapped on steel toe boots (disguised as stilettoes) and broke down a lot of career doors.

I have a younger sister who I thought was the worst curse when she was following me everywhere and is now one of my favourite people in the whole world.

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Academic or creative at school?

A bit of both. Art and English were the subjects I enjoyed the most, but I got better grades in science and maths. I failed music GCSE though, on account of not being able to read music. Turns out you can’t wing it on pop culture knowledge alone.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

Honestly? Being an author. Always.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

Not as a specific moment, but my earliest memories generally revolve around reading and writing. Including when I wrote and drew all over the living room wall. It was supposed to be a nice thing for my parents to find… they didn’t really see it like that. I got such a wallop.

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Who are your real life heroes?

Anybody who can do the right thing in a room of people telling them that’s the wrong thing.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

I once farted doing the shot put at sports day. Which isn’t a very literary story.

I also tried to wear heels to work and fell over in front of a tabloid editor and had to be dragged back up by the elbow.

Most of my stories are about farts or falls.

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Is there a talent you would like to have but are useless at?

Playing music. Especially guitar or piano. I slogged away for a good ten years trying to master the guitar. All those years wasted. I’m so jealous of people who are naturally gifted at that kind of thing. Hopefully sometime during my lifetime, some twelve-year-old whizz kid will design a musicality app we can just plug into our brains.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

DIY enthusiast, who then has to have help ‘undoing’ the mess I’ve created.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

Can I be greedy? Staying up at night but then rising at lunchtime to soak up the sun (in my farfetched dreams).

A book that had you in tears.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs.

One piece of life advice you give everyone.

Nothing is ungetoutofable. So you might as well give it a go.

Thanks Holly!

About the book:

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Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…

Read my review of “Try not to Breathe” HERE

Find out more here: http://hollyseddon.tumblr.com/

Follow Holly on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/hollyseddon

To Order “Try not to Breathe” clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Blind Side Blog Tour – On Writing Extreme events with Jennie Ensor

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Today I am very happy to welcome Jennie Ensor to tell us about some of her writing challenges as part of the Blind Side blog tour. Thanks Jennie!

Writing about the extreme recent events – some of the challenges

It struck me when I was editing Blind Side for the final time these past weeks that the time I wrote about is actually recent history. When I first started writing the novel, around 2005, the London bombings and other events I mention were fresh in my mind. Over the years though, so much has changed in the world that this period now seem very much in the past. So I suppose there’s an element of historical fiction to the novel. These days suicide attacks worldwide happen with a terrifying frequency – in 2005 there seemed to be a element of disbelief that London had been targeted by suicide bombers. Lots of small things have changed too. For example back then pubs were smoky places and people didn’t have i-Phones.

The challenge of setting fiction in the relatively recent past is that so many more people actually have experienced the events compared with say the 1940s. Writing about terrorist attacks and terrorism is has further challenges – I’m aware of how many people suffered greatly as a result of the London bombings, or have distressing memories of this period. There are also definite challenges as far as creating tension when you are describing real events. Even if the reader hasn’t directly been impacted by them, ‘what actually happened’ is more or less agreed on so you can’t mess with that framework. But inside that framework there are many possibilities, no one version of reality.

I’ve tried to describe 7/7 and the attempted bombing two weeks later in way that people can recognise, to make them true both factually and emotionally. I’ve drawn on my own experiences of being in London that July – and the months immediately before and after – and those of others. Georgie goes to work by Tube the morning of 7th July and has to walk home afterwards. All around her she sees signs of the terrible thing that has happened, such as a woman’s spilled shopping on the pavement. I don’t take the reader into scenes of carnage, because I don’t need to. It’s often true that the more powerful the thing that one is writing about, the more one needs to stand back for the reader to feel its impact.

There’s a source of tension from the ‘train crash’ situation of the inevitability of real-life events, coming from what the reader knows must happen next… and another kind, out of the reader’s not knowing and having to guess along with characters what might happen next. So tension comes from characters interacting within the fixed framework of events, while their experiences are conveyed as vividly as possible through what they see, hear, smell etc, as well as their thoughts and emotions. For example when Georgie sets off to find Nikolai on 22 July, hours after the failed nail bomb is discovered, she knows what has happened from news reports and sees the effects of it at the bus stop and in the behaviour of people on the bus she takes towards Finsbury Park. She becomes increasingly concerned when she can’t reach Nikolai on her mobile; she doesn’t know where he is, what he might be doing and why he hasn’t contacted her. Impatient to get to him, imagining all sorts of scenarios, she avoids waiting for another bus and walks the rest of the way down a former railway line – a path I happen to know well – experiencing the stifling sensation of the hot and humid air, semi darkness and the almost unnatural silence after a traffic-filled road. She must go on a journey to reach him without knowing the outcome, and so I hope will the reader.

In the past strand of my novel, set in Russia and Chechnya I also describe imagined extreme incidents based on actual or probable happenings during the second war. I had no direct experience of these events, fortunately. But the scaffolding also comes from real events obtained through research, conversations with people and fact finding, and my imagination has filled in the spaces between.

To end, sometimes a writer tries to imagine not just the ‘space between’ actual events but another possible set of events that might have happened only no-one found out about them, or they weren’t fully realised. I’ve done this to an extent in Blind Side, imagining a horrific scenario that had to be carefully fitted around the framework of actual events. No room left to say anything else, I’m afraid.

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London, five months before 7/7: Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time but felt unable to tell her.

Despite some misgivings, Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.

Then London is attacked…

Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable? An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.

Find out more HERE

Follow Jennie on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Blind Side clickety click right HERE

Follow the Tour!

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Happy Reading!

 

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2016 Spotlight: The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

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Publication Date: Available now from Little Brown Piatkus

Source: Netgalley

To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey – child genius, musical sensation – is perfect. Yet several years ago, Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time. And now she’s free.

Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life.

By midnight, her mother is dead.

As a huge fan of “Burnt Paper Sky” I had that little worry that the second novel could not possibly be as good but noooooooo worries there – The Perfect Girl is a bang on target read, addictive, emotional, very intense at times with some really fascinating characters and a story with a few little twists in the tale…

So Zoe then, she was a pretty typical teenager except for her outstanding musical talent, but the typical teenager part threatened to destroy all that when one night at a party ended in tragedy.  When we come into the picture, Zoe is about to give the first performance of her new life but by the end of this night tragedy will strike once again.  Zoe it seems may be less on the perfect side and more on the dangerous…

Gilly Macmillan uses the multiple viewpoint plot device to perfection in “The Perfect Girl” – we hear from Zoe, from her Aunt, from her lawyer, all building a picture, not only of the present events but the past that lead them here. There is plenty of intricate character study running through the narrative, still waters run deep in this one, it is endlessly intriguing,  often very melancholy and absolutely authentic.

I read it fast, this is one you won’t want to put down until you find out what the finale will bring – it had one of those classic thought provoking endings that stay with you. In a way it is a story about “what if” those little decisions made that change so much of the bigger picture and at the heart of it sits Zoe, prodigy, musical genius but very much still just a girl growing up.

Really very excellent. Very excellent indeed.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more HERE

Follow Gilly on Twitter HERE

To Purchase “The Perfect Girl” clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: Dance with the Dead James Nally

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Publication Date: 28th July from Harper Collins,Avon

Source: Netgalley

Aspiring actress Elizabeth Smart lands her centre stage role: her mutilated body is found dumped in North London’s red light district. Clasped in her hand is a piece of human hair belonging to an unidentified body of a woman murdered two weeks ago.

PC Donal lands himself a place on the murder squad just as his unconventional brother, journalist Finton, unearths the secret double life of Elizabeth.

The bodies mount, each clinging to the strands of hair belonging to the previous victim. The police are convinced it’s the act of a serial killer. But how does Donal convince them it’s not?

The only people he can trust are the victims he dances with in his dream.

So one day not so long back I accidentally bought a book when doing some online shopping for , well not books  (yes EVERY TIME I tell myself I’ll just have a QUICK look see whats about but I’m accident prone)  – anyway that book just happened to be Alone with the Dead – the first Donal Lynch novel – and turns out I fell immediately in love with this character (you can see review for that HERE ) and all the rest. So when I spotted the sequel on Netgalley there was no stopping me.

Once again it was a banging read. Brilliant crime fiction with added “other” – possibly – or maybe Donal is just disturbed – he is certainly disturbingly hilarious at times- the dark often inappropriately laugh out loud moments James Nally brings to the table just makes the whole thing more addictive.

With “Dance with the Dead” we have a multi layered plot that speaks to Donal’s own background (and by the way his brother Fintan is a bloody marvel of a character seriously) and adds a possible serial killer into the mix all whilst the poor guy is trying to redeem himself within the police force. The crime elements of the plot are brilliantly imagined and ever so fascinating, there is huge depth to both character and setting that really rings true, even given the wilder elements. The fact that it is all set in the 90’s just makes it even better, James Nally builds his story around real life events going on in the background and it works extraordinarily well.

For me, this is classic crime fiction with a twist – I love the twist – and I love that Donal is so beautifully rubbish in his brilliance – his attempts at fanning the flames of a possible romance in this instalment made me smile such a lot.  Also the relationships he builds with family and the people around him make a great backdrop to the individual crime stories told, you just want to keep reading for many different reasons.

Book one was great. Book two was better. I think I may have found my new favourite crime thing.

Highly Recommended

Follow the author on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Dance with the Dead clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick

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Publication Date: August 4th From Harvill Secker

Source: Review Copy

Róisín and François first meet in the snowy white expanse of Antarctica. And everything changes.

While Róisín grew up in a tiny village in Ireland, ablaze with a passion for science and the skies and for all there is to discover about the world, François was raised by his beautiful young mother, who dreamt of new worlds but was unable to turn her back on her past.

As we loop back through their lives, glimpsing each of them only when a comet is visible in the skies above, we see how their paths cross as they come closer and closer to this moment.

Theirs are stories filled with love and hope and heartbreak, that show how strangers can be connected and ghosts can be real, and the world can be as lonely or as beautiful as the comets themselves.

I LOVED this book. It was something a little different, beautifully written and absolutely engaging.

Following our characters and those that came before them over a thousand years, snapshots of life whenever a comet is visible in the skies, this is a gorgeous, imaginative premise that really hits you in the heart. To be fair it is actually really difficult to review because you don’t want to give away the pure magic of it but also you want to throw it at people and just say READ THIS you will fall in book love.

The Comet Seekers has a haunting, surreal quality to it, the prose poetic but highly immersive and the descriptive sense of it just sits with you long after you have finished it. I read it in pretty much one sitting so caught up was I in the lives of these people, their world and experience, holding it all together in heavenly (yes) style is the night sky in all its glory – this is a journey in more than one sense of the word.

I adored how Helen Sedgwick made the connections, sent the threads up and around and through the narrative like a spider spinning a web on a dewy morning – pitch perfect to keep you involved and attached to the story unfolding.

Really really lovely. A lovely book – one that you will return to again and again just to find the things you have missed.

Highly Recommended

Find out more HERE

Follow the author on Twitter HERE

To Purchase “The Comet Seekers” clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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The Beauty of the End blog tour – Debbie Howells “Shelfie”

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Today I am really pleased to be part of “The Beauty of the End” blog tour as Debbie Howells shares a “shelfie” with us and talks about a few of her “must keep” books.

The Beauty of the End is an evocative and beautifully written novel – more details and a link to my review after this….

 

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My bookcase is downstairs – easy for friends to see what’s new and borrow! Favourite books I keep forever, but I like to lend them and many get passed on too. I also have a tiny, very pretty antique bookcase in which I keep a selection of my own books in different languages and covers, on top of which is a frame my daughter made of miniature covers. The books below definitely fall into the ‘keep forever’ category.

My Ibiza – Hjordis Fogelberg

Gorgeous book on everything you need to know about Ibiza, one of my favourite places in the world.

A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Amanda Lindhout was taken hostage in Somalia where she was held for 460 days. This book stayed with me for so many reasons – not only for the story, which is a true account of what she endured. There’s the sense of adventure and strength of the human spirit it embodies; I also loved the writing.

Rising Strong – Brene Brown

Since watching Brene’s Ted talks, I’m a fan. In a world that is so unforgiving of human weakness, I love how she explains that what makes us vulnerable and human are actually strengths.

Stillness Speaks – Eckhart Tolle

A book I never want to be without. My brother in law gave it to me and it’s on my coffee table, so that I can pick it up now and then, which I do – often. It’s a book to read to quieten your mind; to reflect on.

Talk Like Ted – Carmine Gallo

I was surprised by this. Not only is it about speaking effectively, which I found fascinating, but it’s full of wisdom from some awesome people.

‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.’ Steve Jobs.

Thanks Debbie!

About the Book:

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Publication Date: Available Now from Pan.

“I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . .”

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose–and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April’s name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

Or so everyone believes. . .

You can read my original review HERE

Find out more here

Follow Debbie on Twitter here

To Purchase The Beauty of the End clickety click right HERE

 

Follow the tour #ReadingBeauty

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Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

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Publication Date: 28th July from Sphere

Source: Review Copy

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

I See You was really really good – SO addictive, twisty turny excellence. If you read “I Let You Go” and loved it but worry that Ms Mackintosh won’t be able to repeat that level of book fun then stop worrying now. Read this. Although perhaps not just before setting off on a trip around the underground. Glancing suspiciously round at fellow travellers in case they are watching you just makes you in yourself look rather suspicious. This may become a whole thing…

So Zoe sees herself in a newspaper ad. A rather suggestive one. Those around her, including the police, dismiss it as coincidence. But then other women appear and the coincidences pile up and we are off to the races…

The concept behind “I See You” was brilliantly imaginative but I can’t really talk about that because otherwise I’ll spoil it and we can’t have that. As with her first novel Clare Mackintosh manages to write a banging good psychological thriller that not only digs deep into some emotive character study but also keeps you on the edge of the seat, wondering what will happen and being surprised quite often by what does…

The sounds of the underground echo through this one as an anchor, for any Londoners it will be a joy, you’ll be able to see things unfold in the minds eye – and to anyone who does not know London that well, has never experienced the joys (??) of that particular system you’ll feel like you know it well. I loved this aspect of it, but again thats all you get you’ll just have to read it.

Several viewpoints tell the story, the narrative is so well flowing and immersive you’ll be in it all the way – leading into a hold your breath and pray finale where everything comes together in a great big glorious reading rush.

Will you be surprised? Probably. Will you be delighted? Almost definitely. Do I recommend this novel? Yes absolutely. Loved it. Read it in two gulping sittings.

Ticked all the boxes. Whatever comes next I’ll be first in line.

Find out more HERE

Follow Clare on Twitter HERE

To Purchase I See You clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: The Hatching – Ezekiel Boone

 

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Publication Date: Available Now from Gollanz

Source: Review Copy

A local guide is leading wealthy tourists through a forest in Peru when a strange, black, skittering mass engulfs him and most of the party. FBI Agent Mike Rich is on a routine stakeout in Minneapolis when he’s suddenly called by the director himself to investigate a mysterious plane crash. A scientist studying earthquakes in India registers an unprecedented pattern in local seismic readings. The US president, her defence and national security advisers and her chief of staff are dumped into crisis mode when China “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb on a desolate region of its own country. As such unsettling occurrences mount, the president’s old friend (and her chief of staff’s ex-wife), spider expert Melanie Guyer, receives a box at her lab at American University that contains an ancient egg unearthed at a South American dig.


So begins The Hatching, the hair-raising saga of a single week in which an ancient, frighteningly predatory species of spider re-emerges in force. When the unusual egg in Melanie Guyer’s lab begins to vibrate and crack, she finds herself at the epicentre of this apocalyptic natural disaster. Working closely with her ex-husband and his very powerful boss, she has to find some way to stem the brutal tide of man-eating arachnids.

This book was completely horrifically brilliant.

If you’ve just read the above blurb you will know not to read this if you are irrationally afraid of Spiders.

Actually to be honest I wasnt irrationally afraid of spiders BEFORE I read this book but now I’m flaming terrified. My 8 year old will now be responsible for removing to the outside anything even remotely resembling a spider. Gone are the days in which I happily scooped them up and popped them out the window. Im just saying. Oh don’t worry he’s a little scientist in the making, he’ll be charmed. And hopefully not randomly consumed….

This is one of the best horror books I’ve read for a long long time – mainly because it feels oh so very very real. There are many fascinating characters, a healthy dose of scientific speculation and some hugely scary set pieces that will have you shivering from the edge of your seat. The writing is totally immersive and there are many layers to the tale each of them equally compelling.

I loved Steph (the president, yes she’s a woman and that is not as unlikely as it once was as we all know) – as POTUS having to accept some far fetched theories and take them on board super fast if she’s going to deal with this crisis. I liked her pragamatic and capable personality. Then there is Mike, dealing with some divorce fallout, thrown into the middle of an untenable situation and having to deal with the strangest and most surreal of circumstances. Surrounding these two are many many more, all in different places, all facing down an unknown future in their own way, so this is not only a banging horror story (with SPIDERS did I mention that bit?) but also has a strong, character driven heart. I’ll let you meet the rest of them for yourself but the author has a very keen eye for clever characterful plotting that just absorbs you into their world.

It was all set over the course of a very small period of time. There is no long drawn out “what where when” the what is creepy crawling all over you from very early in the narrative, the where and the when are here and now and it is fast paced and incredibly addictive. Intelligent and thought provoking too, scarily intense and yes I imagine it will haunt some dreams. Not MINE of course I’m far too sensible for that. **glances around nervously**

Also the ending….

But I’ll leave that there…

Loved it. LOVED it. Its really quite a good example of evil genius writing skill.

Find out more HERE

Follow the author on Twitter HERE

To Purchase The Hatching clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Cut to the Bone blog tour – Alex Caan takes over…

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Under the Spotlight – Alex Caan interrogates Liz Barnsley

I met Liz at a party. (Not surprising as she’s ALWAYS at a party.) And it took me about two seconds to decide we were going to be friends. It’s all that book energy you see, we can feel it. So when it came to the blog tour I could imagine Liz rolling her eyes and thinking ANOTHER writer wants to talk about THEIR book…so I thought, I will instead use my creative powers (which are ace and helped me write the brilliant Cut to the Bone) and I will interview Liz…That’s right, the spotlight has turned. The hunter has become the hunted, and the reviewer has become the…erm…reviewed? Or something…so anyway, I give you the Cut to the Bone blog tour…featuring Liz Loves Books!

So Liz I’ve been stalking, erm following your Twitter, and there are two writers you seem to love/ be a big fan of. Now I’m going to make you choose. You’re on a plane with Neil White and Paul Hardisty (all of you reading the amazing Cut to the Bone obviously) when the engines fail and it’s about to crash. There are only two parachutes. Who survives? (You decide!)

Aaargh. Dammit Alex! Oh dear. Well I love Neil obviously as a huge fan of his novels for well, ever. We definitely need more of THAT top crime fiction. I’m thinking maybe I should die for the cause and let them both live. Because Paul, he’s extraordinarily attractive, erm a really good writer (both in fact) – could I deprive the world? And they seem to both be REALLY nice guys. Polite and stuff. BUT WAIT. Dammit. If I sacrifice myself I’ll miss all the rest of the books forever. Unless heaven is a thing and a thing with books. Not sure I’m risking that. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW. Ok in that case sorry Neil you’ll have to crash and burn. If I’m about to be stuck in the middle of nowhere having been in a plane crash I don’t think I’ll need a lawyer. Paul has the survival skills. I’ll go with that. Plus we can hold a nice memorial when we get back to civilisation where we can all go and cry over Neil and stuff and everyone in the world will buy his books. Shame he won’t be around to enjoy it…

Unless Paul’s survival skills are Bear Grylls like and he eats you when you run out of food…just saying…(Neil #TeamZaffre White I got your back)

You’ve been described as one of the most influential people in book-world. Which writer would you like to influence and what would you make them do? (It’s ok I’m already writing the sequel to Cut to the Bone you don’t have to say that…)

Well firstly I think whoever described me as such to you was having you on a bit – was it BEFORE we became friends? Were you befriending me in a secret evil plan to have me hypnotise people into reading Cut to the Bone but then you discovered I’m actually just pretty normal (if often gin fuelled) and had to put up with me anyway? Because you know I haven’t read it yet right? I KNOW. But we are buddies so I can get away with it. I am going to read it. I mean I read the prologue and that was really brilliant. Anyway I digress. I’d like to influence John Connolly who writes my favourite series in the history of anything ever and make him write another Louis and Angel spin off novel. I want one. **stamps foot like a child** Also if I hadn’t randomly killed Neil White off earlier in this interview I’d like more Jack and Laura stories. Even a short one. Does that stamping of the foot thing ever actually work?

Yes people just remember that the prologue is brilliant…it’s all I’m going to get for now…sob…Lol don’t worry someone described you as that when I said we were already friends…darn it I should have done it the other way round I could have been an evil genius crime writer then…oh well…love John Connolly though! Stamp away but you just left him on that plane…

Desert Island Discs. Forget the discs, music is pants. Which five books would you take with you? (Cut to the Bone along with the Bible and Complete Works of Shakespeare is already there…) Actually you’ll never do this. So instead, pick five writers you would take with you and why. (P.S. I can do amazing things with a coconut!)

HA! Well erm not sure. OH well Steph Broadribb (also known as crime thriller girl) obviously would HAVE to come. Why? Well because she just would. I really don’t like going places without her and if I’m grumpy we are all grumpy. So we’d need Helen Giltrow too because when its the 3 of us what could POSSIBLY go wrong? Yeah don’t answer that you two if you are reading this. Stephen King so he can write us stories. I can’t go without new King stories are you mad??? Lee Child probably to keep Steph happy (we get even MORE grumpy when she is grumpy) then I’m just bringing Paul Hardisty along because heck I saved him from that blinking plane least he can do is come along to the Desert Island and make sure no bears attack. Or something. You obviously would be already there reading Shakespeare and awaiting company.

I was about to say where am I…hurrah! Steph is ace and you two always look like you’re about to do something really naughty but funny! Good choices all around.

You’re having a dinner party. Fine I’ll serve the water. Someone else can do the wine (because I know that person won’t be sitting down all night.) So tell me whose coming (anyone from fiction) and what dish are they bringing you?

OOH from fiction? Cool. I’ll have – hang on you didn’t give me a limit. Are we going to be here all night while I answer this one? I’ll need more wine. Tell you what lets make it 6 for dinner. I like the number 6 it takes no prisoners. So me and 5 fictional characters.

DEFINITELY Manny from Chris Whitaker’s Tall Oaks. He is my favourite one off (although I’m hoping he’s not entirely one off) character in fiction EVER. I would LOVE to see him in action in real life. Elizabeth Bennett because I’d like to see if she really was sassy when in a modern environment – she’s a favourite fictional character of mine. Also apparently could probably help if there is a zombie attack. Then ooh I don’t know. YES I do – John Connolly’s Charlie Parker (he’d definitely bring Louis and Angel with him even though I’ve not officially invited them so that’s a bit of a loophole that allows me to meet all 3) I think that would be quite scary but also very cool. I just hope none of the dark forces these guys attract try to steal the bread rolls.

I’d also like to have Tony Hill from Val McDermid’s books. And Carol Jordan. Would love to see those two interact also perhaps Tony could tell me whether hanging out with you crime types is actually the best thing for me. I’ll have Marnie Rome from Sarah Hilary’s series to make sure everyone stays in line. AND to be on the spot in case there is a murder. We’d better be prepared and she could solve it properly and with intelligence, not missing random really good clues for no good reason whatsoever to keep us wondering – which can happen in these situations…

I don’t really care what they bring. I don’t eat much. Wine though..

Oh yeah sorry…six will do! Brilliant choices I have to say…not sure about that Manny though, that Chris Whitaker already has too many mentions on my blog tour…And please tag Val/Sarah they are writing heroes of mine and I stalk, erm follow them on Twitter too…

Your crime writers gang invite you out for a weekend of wildness. What’s in your emergency supplies kit?

Gin. Bandages. A phone with a lawyer on speed dial. Packets of cheese and onion crisps. 9 books. At least 9. Probably more like 243453. WHAT IF WE GET STRANDED SOMEWHERE. You are coming along to carry all this for me I assume???

Oh yeah sure (quick think of an excuse…erm…erm…ok I have nothing…) I’ll carry it all…(I believe I’ve already carried a bag of books around for you on a couple of occasions though…)

David (of Stasi Child) and Chris (of Tall Oaks) invite you to join a séance. Who will the three of you conjure up?

Well you know? We’d probably have a plan, work out who we would like to contact, make a date to get it done. Then all go off and do other things and not do that thing that we said we were going to do for AGES. And in the meantime we’d do other things but not THAT thing. And we’d sometimes say on Twitter “HEY YOU WHAT ABOUT THAT THING” and then get the reply “you haven’t done that other thing yet”. This could go on for quite a while. I imagine the spirits will be drumming their ghostly fingers waiting for months to find out who it is we want to speak to. Which would be different people for all of us so we’d probably end up summoning a demon that would eat the world. I think this whole séance thing is a bad idea…

Totally agree…séances NEVER end well…so we’re doing one at Bloody Scotland right?

You’ve met so many writers over the years. Who’s the worst? (Name and shame!) (Alex Caan isn’t an option…)

Nooo I would never do such a thing. I WILL say that writers are people and I’ve met all kinds. Mostly they are completely lovely. I’ve made such good friends in the community. Are there writers out there that I haven’t found to be that much fun or to be a bit self important? Yep. Of course. But you’ll just have to keep guessing on that one I’m afraid….although in case you were wondering its not you. Or any of YOU that are likely to be reading this. Human beings eh? Takes all kinds.

I will ask you again when there is lots of gin involved in the equation…although VERY relieved it’s not me…

Have you ever written a brilliant review for someone, met the author and realised they were a right bleep ‘difficult’ individual, and changed your review to reflect them? (Yes I’m going to keep pushing till you name and shame!) (Again not me!!)

No I haven’t. Their personality wouldn’t impact on my feelings about a book I’ve already read. If I met a writer PRIOR to reading their book and they were completely horrible? I might not read it then mostly though because I’d be afraid that this experience would colour my emotional responses to that book and therefore I would not be able to give an appropriate review or response. But for that to happen they really would have to be COMPLETELY horrible. Don’t think I’ve ever found that.

Who will play you in the movie of your life? (Brad Pitt said he looks just like me so will do a cameo…)

Well I’d like it to be Helen Mirren . She is insanely talented and also very funny and seems great in real life too. Mind you if they are making a movie of MY life they are seriously scraping the barrel for new things to do. My life is actually VERY boring. Apart from the books. Can I not just have them make a whole load of my favourite books into films instead?

It’s your movie anything can happen…in mine I am Agatha Christie…only male and contemporary…erm…

Liz Loves Books. But what do you love more? (Alex Caan/Cut to the Bone/Your family are not viable answers…)

Apart from the answers I’m not allowed such as family and you which would OBVIOUSLY be my answer otherwise, nothing probably. Well maybe if you tried to take away my coffee there would be blood. And fiery death. Also I’ve got a secret (maybe not so secret) passion for all things Vin Diesel. So leave me my books, my coffee and my Vin Diesel movies and probably you’d be safe.

Vin Diesel? Oh sorry for a moment I thought you meant Van Damme! Ha ha!

NOOOO Not Van Damme.

Actually darn it I’m going to ask…name five books you can’t live without…ok fine five books you’ve read in 2016 you can’t live without…oh alright, five books you’ve read in 2016 you recommend. (Aw thanks but I think people already realise Cut to the Bone is amazeballs so pick something else…)

5 I recommend from 2016?

Girls on Fire Robin Wasserman. The Maker of Swans Paraic O’Donnell. The Constant Soldier William Ryan. Tall Oaks Chris Whitaker Black Night Falling Rod Reynolds.

Those off the top of my head. All are likely to have a place (not sure which place) in my Top Ten of 2016 which will be posted on Dec 1st as usual. And 2016 has been INCREDIBLE for books. Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus is possibly the maddest book I’ve read this year and is simply stunning. Then I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid has a lot of us talking at the moment – its one of THOSE books. Yes I snuck a couple of extras in there under the radar. I’m sure Cut to the Bone will be on there as soon as Ive read it and stopped being a TERRIBLE friend.

That’s ok I have put my novel in italics throughout so it will be the only novel people remember…quick use that hypnosis thing…

Which novel would you actually like to live in? (Probably not a crime thriller one…)

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. WHAT a world that would be to live in! Would be like a dream come true. Check it out people! A book for book lovers and a banging banging addictive story. If it WAS a crime thriller then it would have to be one of Ragnar’s Icelandic set novels. Just because. Who WOULDN’T want to live there. Well apart from the random death and destruction. I’ll just hide from that bit.

And Cut to the Bone when you read it…have I mentioned my novel enough yet?

Is there such a thing as mentioning it *too* much? I will read it I promise. No really. Just ask David Young I ALWAYS keep my promises. Eventually. At some point. On that date over there somewhere…

Well that was A LOT of fun thank you Liz for letting me into your mind! And for letting me use friend privileges to ask the questions!

You are welcome. Now gimme my blog back…..

Ok its me again now….so I’ll tell you…

ABOUT THE BOOK!

Cut to the Bone

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls. And she’s missing. She’s an adult – nothing to worry about, surely? Until the video’s uploaded. Ruby, in the dirt and pleading for her life.

Who better to head up the investigation than the Met’s rising star, Detective Inspector Kate Riley? She’s leading a shiny new team, high-powered, mostly female and with the best resources money can buy. It’s time for them to prove what they can do. Alongside her, Detective Superintendent Zain Harris – poster boy for multiracial policing and the team’s newest member – has his own unique contribution to make. But can Kate wholly trust him and when he’s around, can she trust herself?

Ruby’s millions of fans are hysterical about what may have happened to her. The press is having a field day and as the investigation hurtles out of control in the glare of publicity, it becomes clear that the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much, much darker than anyone could have imagined in their worst nightmares.

And the videos keep coming . .

You can purchase CUT TO THE BONE by clickety clicking right HERE

And if you are brave you could follow Alex on Twitter HERE

And follow the tour. This is one fun tour!

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Happy Reading!

Cut to the Bone

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The Traitor’s Story – Kevin Wignall. Interview and Review.

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I was lucky enough to meet Kevin Wignall earlier this year at Crimefest. Brilliant company and a very nice man, of course me being me that led into me reading something. Specifically Mr Wignall’s latest novel The Traitors Story. Turned out I kind of loved it. Also turns out that Mr Wignall is a pretty incredible writer as well as being utterly able to put up with randomly inane idiots into the early hours. You may think I’m referring to me but not so much…..you probably  had to be there…..

Anyway I gently persuaded Kevin to answer some bookish related questions for me. Here are the results followed by a little review and some handy links.

First of all where have you BEEN all my life (in the reading sense, lets not get carried away) because The Traitors Story is an absolutely banging thriller – hang on there’s a more appropriate question in there somewhere – what inspired this particular story. Or what generally starts you off on things…

Thank you, Liz. I suppose my books nearly always deal with the same themes, the fault lines between good and bad, moral and amoral, usually with background themes of regret and lost opportunity. Beyond that, I will often have lots of little ideas that slowly coalesce around a central plot. I think in this case I had two combined thoughts to begin with, one of a person who could help his neighbours find their missing daughter but who can’t admit to his own past, and the other of someone whose life has become so cauterised that he has more empathy with his historical subject matter than he does with his own girlfriend.

Talk to me about characters – especially Jonas who was my favourite (maybe it was supposed to be Finn but we’ll just have to live with my obscure tastes) but Finn too obviously. How do you bring life to them. Real life people you’ve met? A bit of yourself in there somewhere?

Hmm. Well, I think all my central characters are autobiographical to some extent. It’s quite hard for me to imagine how you could invest so much in a character who isn’t a projection of your own personality. I’ve said in the past that my protagonists tend to be slightly shorter but rather more charming versions of me. As for Jonas, you’re not obscure at all, because he is in many ways the beating heart of the book. I originally got the idea for him reading a book called “The Ice Palace” by Tarjei Vesaas, a character who appears briefly and who isn’t central, but who’s been engaged in a sad and lonely vigil “off-camera”. I thought originally of including a similar character, peripheral, but Jonas grew and grew and took on a life of his own. He also, of course, is very much like Finn, so it’s instructive that Jonas, in many different ways, is the person who reminds Finn of his own humanity.

I do like a bit of treacherous plotting. Are you a post it note kind of writer? Whiteboard? How exactly do you hold it all together?

Almost entirely in my head. I’ll occasionally write down a scrap of dialogue, I write down names. But it’s why I take so long planning a book. I plan it all in my head until it fits together perfectly, until I can “walk through” it in real time.

The question I always ask as it fascinates me – which writers are you inspired by? And name a book you’ve read that immediately made you go “Dammit I wish I’d written that”

Well, I make no secret that as a teenager I was hugely inspired by Graham Greene, although I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately – are we drawn to the writers who reflect our own interests and our own writing styles, or do they influence us? I suspect it’s more the former. Stephen Crane, Evelyn Waugh, Jane Austen (“The Hunter’s Prayer” is partly inspired by “Persuasion”), they all spoke to something that was already inside me, maybe just an aim to tell a story in the simplest and most concise form possible (apologies, that probably sounds precious!). As for “Dammit I wish I’d written that”, many, many books, but let’s mention some recent ones – “Bereft” by Chris Womersley, “The End of Everything” by Megan Abbott, “The Dispatcher” by Ryan David Jahn, “Winter’s Bone” by Daniel Woodrell, “I Remember You” by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, everything by Magnus Mills…

Do you have any future novel plans you can share with us?

I’m just starting work on a new novel. It’s called “A Fragile Thing” (that’s a working title, but the working title usually becomes the title) and it deals with money-laundering, but also with the complex tensions within families. It’s set mainly in Italy and Switzerland, which I fear is becoming a bit predictable for me, but it’s where it had to be. Should be out next spring.

Tell us about you in 5 easy soundbites –

*Tea, Coffee, other?

Both, but also a lot of the other.

* Strangest situation you’ve ever found yourself in

Seriously, I would have to think long and hard, because my normal seems to be most people’s strange. I woke up inside my own fridge once – I suppose that would count as a strange situation…

* One gadget you simply couldn’t live without

I feel like I want to say phone/internet, but I’m old enough to know that I was quite capable of living without either.

* Worst habit

I’m not sure that it’s a habit, but I have a terrible tendency to say what everyone else is thinking but too considerate/afraid to say. It’s a habit I try to break but it’s deeply ingrained. At a party recently, someone started to cry and Tom Wood looked at me and said, “It’s your fault.” I gave him a questioning stare and he said, “It’s always your fault”. And in that, alas, he has a pretty good point.

* Your Real life hero/inspirational person

Oh there are too many. I like reading Telegraph obituaries, what I call “multi-part lives”, these people for whom the headline will read, “Won an instant MC at the battle of Monte Cassino, and went on to save the Patagonian Mongoose from extinction”. That’s the kind of life I want, where there’s always something else to do. It’s not just war heroes and there are still people who keep pushing forward (Robert Plant’s a good example). That’s what I’d like – “Kevin Wignall, author of reasonably well-received thrillers, who later became a world authority on Memorial architecture and helped discover the wreck of the Tartarus in deep waters off the coast of Zanzibar”… that would be a real life, wouldn’t it?

Thanks so much!

About the book:

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When fifteen-year-old American Hailey Portman goes missing in Switzerland, her desperate parents seek the help of their neighbor, Finn Harrington, a seemingly quiet historian rumored to be a former spy.

Sensing the story runs deeper than anyone yet knows, Finn reluctantly agrees to make some enquiries. He has little to go on other than his instincts, and his instincts have been wrong in the past—sometimes spectacularly wrong.

But he gets involved anyway, never imagining that Hailey’s disappearance might be linked to the tragic events that ended his career six years earlier, drawing him back into a deadly world that has neither forgiven nor forgotten.

I loved The Traitors story. It was just perfect read at perfect time for me – I’d had a few disappointing starts with some novels so when I looked up having read half of this in one sitting, with a sudden jolting realisation that I was late for things I was supposed to be turning up to (sorry Hayley – you know what I’m like) it was like YAY. Book love kicking in.

This is a quietly absorbing thriller with some hugely fascinating characters and, as you can see from the above, a highly addictive quality, you just don’t want to stop reading. A complex plot that is still entirely and intensely readable, as we follow Finn both in his past and present, one of the best things about it is the sheer depth the author  brings to the characters and the world they inhabit. In Finns case a rather shadowy world – I do love a good spy story especially one this good- but also bringing a rich context to the more mundane.  The entire novel is beautifully written, absolutely engaging and never falters. An utterly banging read from the first sentence to the last sentence and all of the bits in between.

Its not like its just a straight up thriller either. Atmospheric, thought provoking in parts,  multi layered and completely believable, its a fictional world you can sink into and lose your own reality for a while. Plus it had Jonas. Really – I adored that character with a passion. I think perhaps I’d like an entire novel following him around – if I ruled the world…

Finn himself is entirely perfect as a main protagonist, deeply intriguing and going on somewhat of a personal journey, flawed yet engaging, whilst Jonas might be the heart here Finn is the soul. Plus you know, its a blinking good telling of a blinking good story. Kevin  Wignall it turns out is a true storyteller.

Definitely highly recommended by me – no prevarication. Don’t miss it!

The Traitors Story is available now from Thomas and Mercer by clickety clicking right HERE

Visit Kevin at his website HERE

Happy Reading!

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