Benedict Jacka and Alex Verus – Urban Fantasy Magic.

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So I was extremely pleased to discover the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka during my hunt for all good things Urban Fantasy – I have read and adored the first two books in the series, reviews to follow, and I still have two to go. Hurray! To celebrate the release of the latest instalment, Chosen, I caught up with Benedict and asked him one or two things. Here is what he told me….

Tell us a little about the origins of Alex Verus – how were the seeds for the story, character and world that he lives in sewn in your mind?

 

The Alex Verus world was originally the setting for a bunch of young adult novels I wrote back in the early-to-mid 2000s.  A lot of things were the same (the magic system was set in place early) but a bunch more were different – the parallel worlds played a much bigger role in the early stories, for one thing.  I used a handful of different protagonists for those stories, but they were all some variety of elemental mage – fire, ice, air, that sort of thing.  As time wore on, though, I started to get a bit dissatisfied with elemental magic as a problem-solving device, as it was a bit too easy for them to just brute-force everything.  Somewhere along the line I came up with the idea of a mage whose magic only provided information, and Alex’s character more or less snowballed from there!

 

 He is backed up by a fantastic cast of characters – do you have a favourite?
Luna’s probably the most fun to write these days, which is nice because she started out as one of the hardest.  As the books went on I got a better and better feel for her personality, until nowadays I can write her easily.  I like writing dialogue between her and Alex, it lets me be playful.

 

 I love to cast characters in my head – who would you love to see playing Alex in a film adaptation?
 
No idea!  I love watching movies, but I can never remember actors’ names.  If I got the chance I’d rather get a TV series than a film anyway – less rushed (yeah, I know, it’ll never happen, but it’s a fun idea.

One book you would want if stranded on a desert island?

Is there a book called “How To Get Off Desert Islands”?

 

3 People living or dead you would like to go out for a drink with?
Hmm . . . a bunch of my favourite authors would be nice.  I’ll stick to dead ones . . . Agatha Christie, Jack Vance, Tolkien.

 

Coffee or Tea?
Tea, though I don’t drink either very much.  I’m very boring when it comes to drinks, and I usually just have water!
Thank you Kindly Mr Jacka!
Reviews
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In my quest to find the best ever Urban Fantasy out there having fallen in love with this genre due to the Felix Castor novels by Mike Carey (thanks to my good friend Gary for his recommendations!) I came to the first in the series of Alex Verus novels from Benedict Jacka.

Alex Verus is a mage, a diviner to be exact, he see’s all possible futures and can act accordingly. Much preferring to stay out of the magic community, he runs a little magic shop and tries to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately a would be apprentice, a strange artifact at the British Museum and other mages both light and dark combine to foil his plans for peace and he ends up chasing clues all over London and trying to keep himself and his friends alive.

I LOVED this book. Its a rip roaring adventure with tons of humour, lots of action and, well, magic to boot. Who could ask for more? As is often the case for this type of novel, London is the setting, Camden more particularly and it lends itself well to the story – Benedict Jacka has an amazing ability to put you right on the spot, I’m never going to look at Camden in the same way again when I visit and I’ll certainly be looking out for Starbreeze! As for the characters they are all well drawn and despite their magical abilities very very like you and I. I loved all of them  – even the bad guys were great – I lived in that world while I was reading it and when I emerged I wanted to go back.

I would highly recommend this novel if you are looking to dip your toes into Urban Fantasy and I would also say for those of you who already love this type of thing that its at the top of its class. Brilliant. The very second my reading schedule allows I shall be returning to see Alex Verus again. You should join me. Happy Reading folks!

 

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So we come to the second book in the Alex Verus series from Benedict Jacka and it has solidified in my mind that this is a set of books I’m going to adore…and read every single one for as long as the author cares to keep writing them. Brilliant Urban Fantasy.

 

This instalment finds Alex still hoping for the quiet life..but with his reputation growing its not as easy as it sounds. Luna, his sometime apprentice and friend is living up to her name, and when a beautiful woman literally throws herself at his feet whilst in mortal danger Alex reluctantly realises that, quiet life wishes aside, he’s just going to have to leap back into the fray…

I do love the characters and the world they live in. A familiar world on the surface but with hidden depths you can only imagine. Alex is a terrific creation – constantly questioning his own motivations then just shrugging and getting on with it, there are some terrific scenes involved when he is in ironic mode. His “sidekick” if you like, Luna, is emotional and torn between wanting to enter the world of magic and yet not really wanting to follow the rules. ..hence she often finds herself in trouble with Alex attempting to ride heroically to the rescue. He is a bit of an anti hero and often luck rather than judgement wins the day…all in all this makes for terrific reading.

Humerous yet dark in places, and with some very real life themes hidden cleverly within the plot lines (cruelty to animals in this case…there are nefarious goings on surrounding the mystical creatures who pepper the world of Verus) these are terrific books and will take you away from the mundane in life and give you a hint of wonder…

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Also Available: Reviews coming soon!

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Find out more about Benedict Jacka here: http://benedictjacka.co.uk/

Follow him on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/BenedictJacka

Purchase information clickety click http://www.amazon.co.uk/Benedict-Jacka/e/B0034OYL22/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1379488049&sr=1-1

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Meet Steve McHugh…….and Nate Garrett.

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So today sees the relaunch of Books 1 and 2 of the Hellequin Chronicles from Steve Mchugh, two books I enjoyed muchly, so I caught up with Steve and asked him a question or two…here is what he had to say.

 

Tell me about how the idea for The Hellequin Chronicles first came about?

 

When my eldest daughter, Keira was born back in 2004, I decided that it was time to get serious about writing. I spent the next few years writing my first ever book, For Past Sins, which will remain in a drawer somewhere forever. But after that I knew I wanted to keep some of the elements from that book (the use of mythology).

Originally it was just Nate in my head for a long time and the story emerged around him. I had about 6 or 7 books written down in plot form and by that point Hellequin had solidified itself as a concept in my mind, and then the stories just kept on coming.

 

How much did well known legends such as King Arthur influence the writing?

I knew I wanted to have the Arthurian legends in the books, along with various other mythologies, but I wanted to twist them slightly to make them a bit easier to digest. Merlin always presented Arthur as that great white knight, but I knew he’d have a darker side. That’s where Nate came in, as the almost hidden shadow behind Arthur.
Is Nate fun to write? He’s always getting into scrapes….

 

Nate’s great to write. He’s an incredibly dangerous man, not just because of his power, but because he’s willing to go to a place that most won’t. And that doesn’t bother him. He’s also very smart-assed, which means I get to let my own smart-assed side out without the fear of reprisal.

He’s been in my head for so long, that I can just sit down and start writing him. It’s probably why I have plots for so many of them, his voice just comes easily to me.

Do you read Urban Fantasy yourself and if so, do you have a favourite book/series of books in the genre?

 

I love Urban Fantasy. I really enjoy Kevin Hearne, Jim Butcher, Ben Aaronovich and Kelley Armstrong. Jim Butcher is probably the man when it comes to Urban Fantasy.

One character from a novel you would like to be in real life?

Terry Pratchett’s Patrician. He’s smart, capable and knows exactly what’s happening in every part of his city. Besides I love the Discworld novels, but  living in that world would be terrifying. The Patrician is the safest person in the books.

Coffee or Tea?

Tea. Coffee is utterly horrible stuff. I like white or green tea if I get a choice.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

 

I’d like to live in Canada or American, specifically the northern states. It’s full of beautiful scenery, and the weather doesn’t seem that different to England. And I don’t do hot weather, so moving to a hot country is out.

 

 

 

Bio: Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.

It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel that was publishable, the results of which was Crimes Against Magic.

He was born in a small village called Mexbrough, South Yorkshire, but now lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.

 

Book blurb and my reviews

 

Crimes Against Magic:

 

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Hellequin Chronicles: Book 1

How do you keep the people you care about safe from enemies you can’t remember?

Ten years ago, Nate Garrett awoke on a cold warehouse floor with no memory of his past—a gun, a sword, and a piece of paper with his name on it the only clues to his identity. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his magical abilities to become a successful thief for hire.

But those who stole his memories aren’t done with him yet: when they cause a job to go bad and threaten a sixteen-year-old girl, Nate swears to protect her. With his enemies closing in and everyone he cares about now a target for their wrath, he must choose between the comfortable life he’s built for himself and his elusive past.

As the barrier holding his memories captive begins to crumble, Nate moves between modern-day London and fifteenth-century France, forced to confront his forgotten life in the hope of stopping an enemy he can’t remember.

Review

 

During my quest to find any and all examples of good Urban Fantasy novels, started by my love of the Felix Castor stories, I have found many strange and wonderful worlds – That of Jack Nightingale, Constable Grant and Matthew Swift to name but a few. And now to my utter joy, here is Nathan “Nate” Garrett, who awoke in a warehouse ten years ago with no knowledge of who he is. His only clues – A gun, a Sword and a piece of paper with his name on it, along with a tendency to practice magic. And there is the backdrop for a magnificent tale of magic, mayem and general delightful madness. Set in two time periods, we slowly learn more about Nate, his true identity and what has brought him to where he is today. Using his skills as a thief, one particular job puts him on the path to this knowledge and also sets in motion a series of events that throw him right into the deep end of all things strange and magical. This was a great novel to read – I especially liked how the author has woven a mystical tale around his protagonist, taking on such great legends as Arthur and Merlin, Helen of Troy, amongst others. Nate as a character is both honourable and frightening in his actions, you will certainly root for him all the way, whilst at the same time feeling a vague need to give him a good talking too! The supporting cast of characters are all just as good – you will meet Vampires and Werewolves, Gargoyles and Psychics, all of whom add depth and heart to the tale. If you like Urban Fantasy you will love this. If you love Thrillers and Mystery but have not yet dipped your toe into the world of UF, then this is for you – you will get the best of all worlds. I don’t think I have ever been so pleased to see the great words “Book 1″ in the title! “Born of Hatred” Book 2 is now sitting on my Kindle and I will be heading back to see what Nate is up too very very soon. You should come too…

 

 

 

Born of Hatred:

 

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Hellequin Chronicles: Book 2

 

There are some things even a centuries-old sorcerer hesitates to challenge…

When Nathan Garret’s friend seeks his help investigating a bloody serial killer, the pattern of horrific crimes leads to a creature of pure malevolence, born of hatred and dark magic. Even with all his powers, Nate fears he may be overmatched. But when evil targets those he cares about and he is confronted by dire threats both old and new, Nate must reveal a secret from his recently remembered past to remind his enemies why they should fear him once more.

Born of Hatred, set in modern London with historical flashbacks to America’s Old West, continues the dark urban fantasy of Crimes Against Magic, the acclaimed first book in the gritty and action-packed Hellequin Chronicles.

 

Review

 

I was very pleased to receive the updated copy of Born of Hatred…and I dived in pretty much immediately and didnt really stop reading (well I DID pop out and get chips!) until I was done. Once again I was immersed into the world of Nathan Garrett and co and what a world it is.

This instalment finds Nathan investigating a string of crimes as a favour for a friend, that leads him to a killer like no other…Born of Hatred indeed. Nathan may not be as feared as he once was but you don’t mess with him and his without consequences…As you learn more about Nathan through the intriguing use of flashback (as in Book 1) one wonders if it is really sensible to challenge him at all…

The reason I enjoy these so much I think is that they really are for adults…Steve Mchugh does not pull any punches and Nathan has a side to him that is less than pure – terrific fun to read and enthralling to imagine, the world he occupies bears a strong resemblance to our own but with a supernatural and magical underbelly. As with book 1 the supporting characters all add ambience to the tale, and there are plenty of new people to meet. More backstory means more grounding in the mythology of the series and as a sequel it works particularly well.

The plot is complex enough to keep your interest throughout – some twists and turns and once again Mr McHugh has used legends we are all aware of to flesh out the tale. Very enjoyable and I am looking forward to the next.

A quick comment – Comparisons to novels such as the Dresden Files and other Urban Fantasy tales are unavoidable for the author I imagine,  but I would say that, as usual, I don’t like to compare and contrast too much. However I think this bears saying:  Dresden is terrific. As are Felix Castor and Alex Verus – Nathan Garrett is his own man with his own mythology. I can’t put him in a box any more than I could the previously mentioned. I have enjoyed all on their own merits….and I will continue to do so. There is no “best” only what you enjoy. And you will enjoy this if you like Urban Fantasy, don’t mind adult content and simply love a book adventure.

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StevejMchugh

Website: http://stevejmchugh.wordpress.com/

 

Crimes Against Magic: http://www.amazon.com/Crimes-Against-Hellequin-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00CX5BYCI/ref=tmm_kin_title_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378489488&sr=8-4

 

Born of hatred: http://www.amazon.com/Born-Hatred-Hellequin-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00CX5BYD2/ref=tmm_kin_title_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378489488&sr=8-3

Liz Currently Loves…Nearest Thing to Crazy by Elizabeth Forbes.

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I recently read “Nearest Thing to Crazy” the debut novel from Elizabeth Forbes and it was superb. Elizabeth kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me about the novel and here is what she had to say….

 

Cass is quite a complex character – how well did you know her at the start of the writing process and how did she evolve?

 

I didn’t know Cass very well when I started to write her story. But I knew that she was vulnerable, and that she was very emotionally honest with herself. As such a large part of the narrative is focalized through her inner life, I wanted her to be both interesting and knowable – in terms of being a recognizable consciousness – to my readers. Being recognizable doesn’t necessarily make her likeable to everybody. And I know that a lot of people have found her vulnerability to be irritating. But, to me, that’s what makes her human. If she’d been a strong, feisty kind of character she wouldn’t have been open to the manipulation. And people can start off feisty and strong in their relationships, and yet get worn down and trapped. They can’t stand far enough outside of themselves to see their situations objectively. I suppose they get a bit eroded, like Cass. You either ‘get’ her or you don’t, as with people in real life.

 

I never really know my characters when I start to write, but as the process develops I find that they start to tell me who they are rather than the other way around. I get to see who they are by the way they react to the things I throw at them, and by the way their past has shaped them. Isn’t that the way we get to know people in real life too?

 

Do you have a favourite character from the novel?

Funnily enough, I’m not sure. I understand Cass and the way she is because I created her and, in the same way, I think I understand Dan too. I think he reacted to the situation in a way which many men would understand – which doesn’t make him right, but I don’t think he’s unusual in his behaviour, given the circumstances. And equally Ellie has a backstory which makes some sense of who she is. I suppose if I was pushed I’d probably have to say Cass because I was in her head so much of the time. And I like her dry way of seeing some of the things going on around her. I love the fact that she’s far from perfect. I think I’d like her if I met her at a party because she’s warm, modest and open, and she can be quite funny. But I’d also have to say that being inside her head was often a very uncomfortable place to be!

I’m a terrific fan of twisty tales, is it difficult to write one realistically and still manage to surprise?

Oh yes! I know that lots of writers plan their novels meticulously and know exactly how their novels are going to end. I never do, which makes life difficult at times, particularly when I get within, say, three or four chapters from the end and I still don’t know what’s going to happen. But on the positive side, by not knowing the denouement, I think this helps in not subconsciously laying clues down as to the way the twists will work out. If I don’t know, then hopefully neither will the reader.

I love that you use the word ‘realistically’. Because I want to write stories that really do connect with real life, and that people can think: ‘this could happen to me…’ or ‘I know this person…’. I’m not the first person to call it the domestic gothic, but I think that’s what it is. The real fear of real things which can happen in the home – that aren’t based around crimes or brutal murders. Mental abuse, physical abuse… isolation and depression, things that might be happening right under our noses to people we are close to, but may have no idea what’s going on. To me that’s really frightening.

 

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

I’m working on it now and hope to have it ready for publication in June next year. Again it will be based around the domestic gothic, and will be an exploration of the relationship of a dysfunctional couple. At the moment they are SERIOUSLY dysfunctional, and not particularly sympathetic, so I am trying to understand what has made them who they are, and what attracted them to each other in the first place, so I hope the reader won’t be put off. I always find the unlikeable characters so much more interesting, and am bemused when people say they don’t enjoy books unless the characters are likeable. Some of the best characters in literature have been pretty nasty, but maybe the point is they have to be understandable and vulnerable too. It’s an interesting dilemma, I think.  I am moving away from first person narration although the story will be focalised through the two main characters; so I get to be a man which is a challenge, and I’m using the present tense which is also a bit of a challenge. I think it will be darker than Nearest Thing to Crazy.

Favourite “comfort” read – either book or author. (or both!)

Jane Austen

First thing apart from loved ones and pets you would rescue from a burning building?

Computer – so then I’d have my photographs, my books and my music.

 

Favourite thing to do on a Lazy Sunday.

Tea and terriers and chats in bed. Sunday papers. The Archers omnibus – not necessarily because I know what’s going on, but because it’s soothing to have in the background. A visit from my grown up children. Chats in the kitchen with an excellent Bloody Mary made by my husband while roast and vegetables – preferably from the garden – crumble, etc are prepared. Maybe a few friends to join us, and a long, lingering, noisy lunch and then, when everyone’s gone, feet up on the sofa with three dogs squashing me and watching something great on the television – Homeland would be my ideal, but failing that Downton Abbey!

 

Thank you so much!

 

Review

So this book had been on my wishlist,  it finally got put into my latest book budget batch – and before I start the review I have to say I chose to go for the print copy rather than the Kindle copy because its got a terrific eye catching cover. Looks great in real life! Kudos to the designer. Sometimes I think that it is becoming a lost art what with technology allowing instant gratification of ebook downloads these days so I’m always on the look out for good ones for my shelf! Anyway apologies to Ms Forbes as I digress….

 

Cass and her Husband Dan live a quiet life in the country…One day they gain a new neighbour, the glamorous Ellie, arriving to write her new novel in the peace of the rural setting. At first Cass is pleased to welcome Ellie into their midst but a series of events leads her to  start feeling disconnected from her life…and a little scared…but she can’t pinpoint exactly why….

 

Very much a character driven novel, mostly seen through the eyes of Cass herself, this is a beautiful and brilliantly written example of a psychological thriller, a terrific twisty tale and a completely captivating look at village life to boot. Cass is both amazingly complex and deceptively simple – the author has given her a true voice…and it almost casts a spell over you as you read. Never quite sure whether she is reading too much into things or whether something really is afoot, it will keep you deliciously off balance throughout the story….

 

A snapshot of village life, the setting is almost a character in itself. Village gossip abounds…the supporting cast can almost be imagined as being in the midst of a rather long running game of chinese whispers…but who is saying what and why? More to the point who is HEARING what and why…cleverly achieved. Despite the fact that the majority of the novel is seen through the eyes of a single character it doesnt read that way…it appears as if they are all talking. And therein lies the magic of the story and the charm of the reading experience for me.

Very enjoyable, a high standard of writing and  lovely prose make this a must read for fans of this type of tale and indeed fans of intriguing storytelling in any genre.

 

You can follow Elizabeth Forbes on Twitter here. https://twitter.com/lizzieforbes

For purchase information clickety click : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nearest-Thing-Crazy-Elizabeth-Forbes/dp/1908122587/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379314497&sr=1-1

 

Happy Reading Folks!

A Little Game Called Beat the Author….and the two that got me!

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So when I read a wonderful twisty tale I always play a little game called Beat the Author. Can I work it out? Will I end up with my jaw on the floor or a smug sense of satisfaction that I got there before the end…

I’m not beaten very often. In my younger years as an avid reader of the (still) Queen of Crime Agatha Christie, I was often floored by the ultimate resolution. Hercule Poirot  always had a far superior intelligence as did Miss Marple…as soon as it became clear that THEY knew the answer, at whatever point in the novel that was, but I didnt, I knew I was beaten.

Strangely, apart from the two authors you can hear from in a moment, the other living author who has often come close to beating me is Sophie Hannah – not quite but nearly. Her twisty tales are, for me, oddly similar to Ms Christie’s, and now she is the author chosen to give us a new Poirot story. I know that this decision has been controversial (not necessarily that Ms Hannah is the one but that anyone at all should dare) but I am excited and enthralled by the news. I’m positive that great things are about to happen…

Now to the point. Two authors whose books I love, with one of their creations, managed to utterly, unequivocably and with dramatic flair, completely beat me. I never saw it coming, could not have imagined such a thing, and certainly I now understand the phrase “Jaw Dropping” in the very literal sense…

I asked both these lovely ladies the same questions about these books. And here is what they had to tell me. Lets start with this….

 

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Also author of The Poison Tree and The Sick Rose, I am a huge fan of Erin Kelly. Certainly The Poison Tree was a book that stayed in my soul, and in the future you can hear more about that. Today however, its “The Burning Air”…a book that had such an unexpected turnaround and game changing twist  that I stayed up all night to finish it….Yes Ms Kelly you got me. And properly as well!

When you wrote “The Burning Air” did you start with the twist and work around it or was it more organic than that?

It was definitely an organic process. I don’t plan much in advance, writing in scenes rather than chapters, and the plot evolves as I go along. My books are character-driven and I would find it hard to start with a twist, or a concept, and work backwards from there.
 
The Burning Air is about a family weekend in a country house that goes horribly wrong when the youngest member is kidnapped. As the book progresses, it emerges that the baby was taken for reasons that are rooted years in the past. The book essentially tells the same story from the viewpoints of five different characters. The first part of the novel tells the story of baby Edie’s abduction from her mother’s point of view, and I always knew that I wanted to end the book by telling the story’s conclusion from the perspective of Edie’s grandfather. But during the first draft I left the middle open ended, because three people were in the running to be the culprit and I wanted to get to know my characters a little more before I committed to one. Only when I read it through for the first time did I see the opportunity for the twist, and I hesitated for a long time before I went for it. It’s more tricksy and audacious than anything in either of my other novels, and I almost didn’t include it at all.
How does it feel when a reader tells you that you surprised them and they never saw it coming?

Very satisfying indeed. It’s sort of what I live for.
Do you have a favourite twisty tale that you have read?
 
My favourite plot twist of all time comes halfway through Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. I don’t think it’s giving too much away to reveal that it relates to a certain character’s identity, and it’s a masterclass in how to create a twist that shocks the reader without ever cheating them – when you look back, the clues are there, and that should be true of all fiction but especially suspense and thrillers. It’s a handbrake turn that changes the direction of the rest of the book and recasts everything that’s come before in a new light. And the reveal takes place within a brilliant, atmospheric scene that is one of the great set-pieces of the book. Jake Arnott plays a similar trick to brilliant effect in He Kills Coppers, as does Ira Levin in A Kiss Before Dying.
 
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is the book I wish I’d written. If, like everyone else on the planet, you’ve read Gone Girl, you’ll know that in Flynn’s writing the twists and turns come thick and fast, and the beauty of Sharp Objects is that ‘the big reveal’ is followed a few pages later by the real truth, which got me so completely that I had to put the book down for a moment and think about what I’d read. Again, it’s so hard to discuss without including spoilers, but I’ll just say that every now and then on Twitter, I see a tweet along the lines of ‘Oh my god, I’ve just got to the bit with the teeth!’ and they’re always talking about Sharp Objects.

Do you play a version of “beat the author” yourself and if so, how successful are you?
 
I think everyone does that when they’re reading to some extent, even if we don’t consciously make a game of it. I do read books in my own genre slightly differently since I have been published. I can’t help but wonder where I would be taking the story if it was mine. And I have to say that the more I read – and the more I write – the easier it gets to tell where things are going. Maybe that’s because I don’t select my own reading as much as I used to. I get sent three or four books a week, often debuts, by publishers looking for blurbs. I try to read as many of these as I can and the law of averages means that some of them will be predictable.
I’ve probably read three or four psychological thrillers in the past year where I was completely swept along without a clue where the author was taking me: the first that come to mind are Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald and The Sacrificial Man by Ruth Dugdall. When books are this well-written, this tight and convincing and atmospheric, I don’t want to beat the author. I just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Follow Erin Kelly on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/mserinkelly

 

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Next we come to Tina Seskis and “One Step Too Far”. The question this book asked was..”No-one has ever guessed Emily’s secret…will you?”. And I said. Of course I will. I am extremely clever and NO-ONE gets me (except Erin Kelly). Sigh. Did I get it? Well of COURSE not! Otherwise you wouldnt be reading this now. Here is what Tina had to tell me…

 

When you wrote “One Step Too Far” did you start with the twist and work around it or was it more organic than that?

I actually had the idea for that twist whilst on holiday in Venice, completely out of the blue, for no good reason at all.  Up until that point I’d had no intention of writing a novel (having tried once many years ago – for about half an hour – on a beach in Goa), but when I got the idea for One Step Too Far I was so excited by it that when I got home I started writing the story down, and it went from there.  Re the other twists in both my books, half of them I don’t even know are going to happen myself until I’ve physically written them down, so they can come as quite a shock to me too!

 How does it feel when a reader tells you that you surprised them and they never saw it coming ?  
I always hope that I surprised them in a good way – in that revealing the twist allowed the novel to make sense at last, that it was plausible, that they could relate to the characters and maybe feel some of their emotions.  I have been humbled by some of the comments I’ve received.
 Do you have a favourite twisty tale that you have read?  
Any of Agatha Christie’s classics – I devoured all her books as a child.  Plus a few years ago I read a more contemporary novel that I must confess I didn’t enjoy that much but that completely got me at the end.  I suppose thinking about it now its twist is a little similar to the one in One Step Too Far – although I can’t tell you which book it is in case it gives the game away.  Aha, now you can play “Guess the novel that One Step Too Far is influenced by!!”
Do you play a version of “beat the author” yourself and if so, how successful are you?  
I am RUBBISH at guessing twists, so I almost never get them.  (I’m even worse with films.)
Follow Tina Seskis on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/tinaseskis
Thank you both so much for taking part have loved to hear some of the background to two such terrific books! Reviews for both of the books mentioned can be found in the “Highly Recommended” section of this site.
Happy Reading Folks!

Joanne Graham and Lacey’s House.

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So a few weeks ago I read a wonderful novel, Lacey’s House, and it was emotional and compelling. I caught up with the author, Joanne Graham and asked her a few questions – here is what she had to say.

 

I believe Lacey’s character was inspired by your maternal grandmother. Can you tell us a little more about that?

My Grandmother Hilda was a fairly unique person. I remember that growing up everyone treated her gently when she came to visit, as though she may break. We spoke more softly around her, we didn’t criticise anything or play too vigorously. As I got older I learned about her depression when my mother was younger. That my mother had lived for a while with her own Grandmother when my Grandmother was struggling. I learned of her overwhelming grief following the deaths of two of her children and that ultimately she received electric shock treatment and was lobotomised as a result. When I first started researching the history of lobotomy in order to develop Lacey as a character, I was horrified by what I found and some of these horrors made their way into the book because I felt they were stories that needed telling. Although Lacey herself is a fictional character, some of her experiences were based in a reality that caused suffering and heartache for many people. The sad fact is that my Grandmother’s depression was treated with violence and cruelty and her story brought into sharp relief the tragic lack of understanding that existed around mental health issues; issues that, to an extent, still exist today. I wanted to create a character that was both sympathetic and likeable but also confused and struggling with reality.

 
You have created two very strong yet haunted female characters – did they evolve over the course of the writing or did you know pretty much everything in advance? 

 

Perhaps a little of both.  I knew the sort of person I wanted Lacey to be and I knew that I wanted Rachel to carry her own wounding with strength as well as vulnerability. I had written a character analysis for both of them around these points. But their character’s really developed fully when I started weaving their stories together, as the story unfolded and they began reacting to one another in such a way as to create the personal bond that grows as the tale is told. I knew roughly how each of their stories would end before I had even begun to write the first draft but there were some things that happened that came as a bit of a surprise even to me, things I hadn’t thought of until I reached a certain point in the story.

 

How did it feel to win the 2012 Luke Bitmead Bursary and can you tell us a bit about it?

 

I’ll never forget how it felt to win the Luke Bitmead Bursary. It had never occurred to me that I would win. I knew that I could write but I have never been particularly confident in my own creative ability and so I was thrilled simply to have been shortlisted. I thought that I would go to London for the awards ceremony, meet some other writers, toast the winner and say congratulations and then go home again. It was a very surreal moment when I was announced as the winner and it is something that only really exists in a blur, I think that perhaps I went in to shock. In that moment my pipe dream career became a reality and I never thought that would ever be the case. It made me realise that you should always aim high and reach for your dreams because sometimes they do manifest in ways you never believed possible.

 

Favourite genre to read ?

 

I love to read thrillers, anything that has me on the edge of my seat and turning the pages super fast and, equally, I love fantasy such as David Eddings’ Belgariad. I love tales told around mystical lands, magic, dragons and unicorns, for me that is the ultimate in escapism.

 

Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday?

 

On the very rare occasions that I have a lazy Sunday, I find pyjama days utterly blissful. Snuggling up on the sofa with piles of snacks, a good film and a pile of cushions. Hair unbrushed, feet stuffed into fluffy socks and a chilled bottle of dry white wine as night falls. Sigh!

 

Favourite comfort food?

 

Ooh comfort food…so many to choose from. I would have to say that savoury would be something rich and spicy, I adore a spicy Chilli topped off with an obscene amount of sour cream and grated cheese and sweet would be some kind of fresh cream cake, preferably raspberry pavlova but anything creamy and cakey really, it’s all good!

 

Thanks Joanne!

 

Review

 

Lacey is the village enigma. Considered to be a mad old lady, ignored by the locals and teased by the children she lives a solitary life. When Rachel moves in next door an unlikely bond forms between the pair…could it be that they have more in common than they realise?

 

What a pair of amazing female characters Joanne Graham has created here…both with great sadness in their past and worries about their future, watching the friendship develop over the course of this novel was a beautiful thing. Told chapter by chapter with either one or the other taking the lead, we slowly find out what has affected them so deeply and just why they are perfect companions – yes there is a mystery here, the mystery of Lacey and whether or not she can be trusted and just what she might have done but that is really kind of peripheral to the point for me. Its a story of friendship. How the most unlikely people can become the ones closest to your heart – a story of love, of loss and of trust both given and received.

 

Its a gentle tale but a compelling one. An interesting look at how a less than perfect childhood can affect your whole life – and yet both these ladies are strong in their own way, perhaps because of that. The writing style is easy and flowing with a clever eye to reality. The ups and downs of village life are apparent…and how one rumour can last a lifetime.

 

I loved it. Insightful and intriguing, heart wrenching and wonderful, keep the tissues handy when you are reading this one. I needed a box full. I can’t wait to see what this author gives us next.

 

You can Follow Joanne on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/YarrowH

Find out more about Legend Press here: http://www.legendpress.co.uk/

Find out more about the Luke Bitmead Bursary: http://www.lukebitmead.com/

To Purchase Lacey’s House clickety click. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Laceys-House-Joanne-Graham/dp/1909395676/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378969344&sr=1-1&keywords=laceys+house

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

My Life In Books – A-Z Questions.

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So thanks Susi for encouraging me to do this – its been terrific fun. And here are my answers!

 

Author You’ve Read The Most Books From

Stephen King. No doubt. I have read everything he has ever written and more than once as well. Amazing writing, totally absorbing every time, I’ve never met a Stephen King novel I did not love.

When I was in my teens Victoria Holt and Agatha Christie also  took up my time along with Mr King. Victoria Holt wrote romantic historical mysteries and I have the complete collection which I return to on occasion. Agatha Christie of course still reigns as the Queen of Crime all these years later. I still find reading her novels fascinating.

 

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Best Sequel Ever.

 

Oh tough one. I’m going to go with “The Lonely Dead” the second of the Straw Men Trilogy from another of my favourite authors, Michael Marshall. Expanding on the mythology of the tale beautifully, I probably enjoyed this one even more than the first because I already knew and loved the characters. The standard did not drop with “Blood of Angels” the third in the trilogy and currently the last. I live in hope though….

 

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Currently Reading.

 

The Mermaids Singing by Val Mcdermid as I embark on a re-read of all her books to update her page here. Alongside that I am also reading a brilliant debut, “The Twins” by Saskia Sarginson and a wonderful twisty tale “Game” by Anders De La Motte which is coming soon.

 

Drink of Choice while Reading

 

Coffee or Coca Cola. Which is pretty much all I drink most of the time. And the odd gin of course – but normally not while reading!

 

E Reader or Physical book.

 

Both! I love a great print book but the ability to read what you want NOW is compelling. I love my Kindle and my book collection – try and take either one away from me and there WILL be blood!

I buy print books now either to complete a collection or because the cover art speaks to me. Great covers are becoming a lost art in the digital world – lets bring them back! If you want me to buy your book in the physical form then give me a reason to love it! If the cover compels me I will purchase the novel and keep it safely on one of my beautiful shelves.

 

Glad you gave this book a chance..

 

The Humans by Matt Haig. The book that saved my life. Not in my immediate comfort zone genre wise, it might have passed me by. Thanks to the joys of Twitter it did not. And now it is one of my best loved books of all time and I do not jest when I say I am still in this world because of it.

 

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Hidden Gem Book.

 

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey. Practically forced upon me by a good friend, it was my first foray into the Urban Fantasy genre. I loved it and I love those types of books now. I read them all. Matthew Swift, Dresden, Peter Grant I love them all!

 

Important Moment in your reading life…

 

Finding a copy of “The Stand” on offer in my local shop. When it was released in paperback in the uncut version they ran a promotion. In those days I was young and living on pocket money, I picked it up simply because I wanted something to read and it was within my budget. Imagine if I had not – A life without King possibly? It doesnt bear thinking about….

 

Just Finished.

 

The Reluctant Cannibals by Ian Flitcroft. A most amazingly delightful book, if you adore reading and are looking for a terrific tale, pick this one up. A culinary delight!

 

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Kinds of books you won’t read…

 

I don’t read and never will again, books about child abuse like the ones written by David Pelzer. I have read two – one of his and one other. Its not because I find them hard to read, although true stories of this nature are heart wrenching, but because I have found several times that the so called “true” nature of some of these tales have been outed as, in fact, false. I know that there are genuine novels from genuine sufferers out there and my heart goes out to them – but sorry I’m not reading your stories because its an emotive subject and one that should be taken extremely seriously and not used solely for financial gain. This is absolutely a personal opinion – there are a lot of these books out there and they tend to sell well, so people obviously want to read them. Everyone should be allowed to make their own reading choices without censure or judgement. They are just not for me.

I don’t tend to read a lot of true life stuff anyway. Unless its books by profilers about profiling – a subject I find endlessly fascinating.

 

Longest book you’ve read.

Hmm I’ve read a few long ones. Probably The Stand by Stephen King and Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I do love a good long book – some books are over before you know it!

 

Major Book Hangover because of …

 

The Book  Thief. Thanks Will Carver for insisting I read it, but I cried forever and actually get tears in my eyes when I look back on it. Runner up would be 11.22.63 by Stephen King – the bit at the end had me in pieces.

 

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Number of Bookcases you own..

 

3 in the Dining Room which also doubles as my office for the blog. 5 dotted around the front room and a couple upstairs. I also have a book cupboard, an attic full and my dining table teeters on the edge of book destruction….

 

One Book you have read multiple times.

 

Way too many to mention…Re-reading is one of my great joys. I am currently in the midst of a re-read of John Connolly, Stephen King, Val McDermid, Michael Marshall and R J Ellory so I can update all their pages.

Stephen King is my most re read set of books. They are my comfort novels and if I feel even vaguely distressed, his is the shelf I turn to…

 

Preferred place to read.

 

Curled up in bed or in my gigantic comfy swivel reading chair that takes pride of place in my front room and overlooks the garden…

 

Quote that inspired you from a book you read…

 

“Your Life will have 25,000 days in it. Make sure you remember some of them. ”

The Humans. Matt Haig.

 

Reading Regret.

 

None. Even when I don’t like a book I don’t regret picking it up. I don’t waste time though. If you havent captured me by chapter 3, you are not capturing me at all and you will end up lost in the mists of time ( or my local charity shop to be precise)

 

Series you started and need to finish…

 

The Sanctus Trilogy from Simon Toyne. Kate at Harper Collins sent me the first one as I was refusing to read it on principle (I hate Religious Conspiracy Thrillers in the ilk of Dan Brown) and I had a massive reading  turnaround by loving every bit of it. I immediately bought the other two and they are on my shelf looking at me but I’m busy…Soon though..soon. And I can’t wait to read the third in “The Passage” trilogy from Justin Cronin. I wish it would hurry up!

 

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Three of your all time favourite books.

 

The Stand by Stephen King, The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway and more recently The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell.

 

 

 

Unapologetic Fangirl for….

 

Neil White. Love that guy and his books. I WILL force you to read them if you havent already….

 

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Very Excited for this release more than others…

 

Dr Sleep by Stephen King of course! The Shining being a terrific novel ( and no it has yet to be made into a film that matches the brilliance of the reading experience, despite the fact that Jack Nicholson rocked!) I cannot wait to find out whats next for Danny. And with the exception of The Dark Tower series and The Talisman books written with Peter Straub, Stephen King doesnt do sequels….although if you are a “Constant Reader” you know he gives you character updates….

 

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Worst Bookish Habit…

 

Throwing books I’ve disliked out of the window. Literally. Little piles often hang around until someone else in the household does something useful with them….

 

X marks the spot…start at the top left and pick the 44th Book.

 

Like Susie, I have gone with my age for this one. I landed on “The Likeness” by Tana French. Such a terrific writer I’m sure she should be more famous than she appears to be….

 

Your latest book purchase.

 

The Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell. Having read The Shadow Year I can’t wait to get into this one…

 

ZZZ snatcher book.

 

Stayed up all night finishing “Black Chalk” by Christopher Yates because I HAD to know. Erin Kelly’s “The Burning Air” as well. HAD to finish that one. Would have died trying if necessary….

 

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So there you go. Hope I’ve managed to be vaguely interesting. I would encourage other bloggers to do this one – it was great fun!

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Woman Walks Into A Bar….Rowan Coleman on behalf of Refuge.

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In a moment you can hear from Rowan Coleman all about her book and the things she is trying to achieve – I caught up with her and asked a few questions. Before that though….

First of all I’m going to tell you the most important thing about today’s post. You can help support Refuge and get a great story to read to boot, by clickety clicking the link and purchasing Woman Walks Into A Bar. 100% of royalties will go direct to Refuge and the aim is to raise £10,000. We can do that…right? Its a great cause and a lovely thing that Rowan is doing and if you love reading it is a fun way to help out if you can of course.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Woman-Walks-into-Bar-ebook/dp/B00E5D94SC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378796273&sr=1-1&keywords=woman+walks+into+a+bar

 

So I talked a little to Rowan about it all and here is what she had to say.

 

Domestic abuse is an emotive subject – were you surprised at the response you got when researching for your writing?

 

Surprised and shocked, and horrified. I suppose, like many people I thought that abuse with in a relationship was rare, happened to people far away, who lead very different sorts of lives. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, it affects women, men, children. And yet its still a problem that exists in the shadows and behind closed doors.

 

Are the characters in “Woman Walks into a Bar”  based on anyone you know?

 

They are not. Its funny, when I wrote that book I had Sam, the lead character very firmly pictured in my mind, she was very vivid to me. Its been nice to get responses from people who’ve read who feel sure she is a real person. Also when I wrote Sam’s daughter, my daughter was 5, she is 12 too now, and I recognise a lot of traits in her!

 

Tell us a little bit about Refuge – the charity that you are supporting.

 


Refuge was founded in the year I was born 1971, and it was one of the first organisation to seek to offer help, advice and a place of safety to women and families seeking to escape an abusive situation. It’s done amazing work in brining the problem of domestic abuse into the public eye over the decades, and continues to work hard reaching out to people who need help, giving them the support and courage they need to make the break. I am very pleased to be able to do my small bit to support them, although its mainly the bloggers who are helping me spread the word and especially the readers that download the book, that are the ones to thank. So, thank you! xxx

 

Thank you Rowan and good luck! I will certainly be purchasing a copy and I will review it on site soon.

 

Book Synopsis

A night out with the girls changes Sam’s life forever…

28-year-old single mother Sam spends her days working in the local supermarket and her Friday nights out with her friends letting her hair down at the White Horse. Life hasn’t been easy for Sam and her daughter, Beth (who always looks on the bright side) but she’s always hoped that one day she’ll break free from her past and meet The One.

But after a series of terrible dates with men she’s met through an internet dating site, that have all been as awful as her daughter’s terrible jokes, she’s starting to lose heart – until her friends tell her they’ve set her up on a blind date. Sam’s horrified but finally she agrees to go. After all you never know when you might meet the man of your dreams; just maybe Sam’s happy ending is just about to begin….

But will Sam have to face up to her past before she can find a new future?

 

Find out more about Rowan and the books here: http://rowan-coleman.tumblr.com/

You can follow on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/rowancoleman

#supportafriend

To find out more about Refuge and how they help : http://refuge.org.uk/

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Lets Talk Serial Killer Thrillers…..Don’t be scared!

So I love a good thriller – even more so when it involves a shadowy figure whose motives are difficult to fathom…the Serial Killer. Thomas Harris and Silence of the Lambs was the first novel I read in this genre and I still shiver when I think about it. It was also one of those books that was turned into a superb movie..with Anthony Hopkins becoming the definitive Hannibal..Fava Beans and a nice Chianti anyone? I tracked down three authors who have written great books of this nature and asked them the same 4 questions. Here is what they had to say….

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Lets start with Michael Marshall. Author of the superb Straw Men trilogy amongst other great books, he created a killer like no other…and he had some friends. Here is what Michael had to say.

 

Was your Serial Killer inspired by any real life case or book you had read?

 

No. In fact, what I was trying to do was collate everything I’d read and thought about a range of serial killers, to try to find unifying themes or underlying connections between their behaviours. Each killer manifests in their own way – though usually not as cinematically or glamorously as the ones we see in movies or books – and each case follows its own course, shaped and constrained by environment and happenstance. Underneath that, however, these events share a common root, something that is far more telling about fractures in human nature and fault-lines in our species’ minds, and that’s what I was trying to look at.

 

Is it difficult to write the “evil” characters and make them scary?

 

I don’t know – in the sense that I don’t know whether the ‘evil’ characters I write are scary or not – that’s for other people to judge. I think the hardest thing about making bad characters credible and affecting is making sure that they feel *real*. They can’t just be being evil for the sake of it – nobody ever is. They have to either believe in what they do, or feel compelled to do it – manifesting extreme forms of behaviour that the reader can recognise at least a little of in themselves. That’s what makes the bad guys scary – the idea that they’re not so different.

 

Do you have a favourite “Serial Killer Thriller” book that you have read or film you have seen?

 

I think the best novel about a sociopath that I’ve ever read would be THE KILLER INSIDE ME, by Jim Thompson. Spare first person style, chilling and yet oddly approachable and compelling. In terms of non-fiction, I think Elliott Leyton’s HUNTING HUMANS is the most insightful I’ve read.

 

Why do you think people in general are so fascinated by these types of killers?

 

Because they know they’re not that different to the rest of us. Worse, but not different. We find it very convenient to demonise – staring with awful fascination at Hitler, or Bin Laden, or Ted Bundy. It helps us put our own bad thoughts on the other side of a fence, where we think they’ll be safe. They’re not. We’re a great species, but we do bad things. We need to understand that and face up to it. Looking carefully at serial killers is one way of starting that process…

Thank you Michael!

You can follow Michael on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ememess

 

Review: The Straw Men

 

Ward Hopkins returns to his parents home after they are killed in a car accident. Whilst at the house, he discovers a note from his father…and so begins a journey into his past and that of his loved ones, a dangerous journey of discovery that may not end well. Meanwhile a young girl, Sarah,  has gone missing and former LA Detective John Zandt, a man fighting his own demons, begins his own journey of discovery. Is it possible that Ward holds the key to saving Sarah from her fate?

This is a beautifully crafted story. One part leading to another to another a bit like Russian dolls – as Ward moves ever closer to learning the truth about his life, so John perhaps moves further away from himself and his own conscience….the terrible things they both face draw them together but also tear them apart. The mystery itself is well imagined – Serial Killer Thriller? Yes. And No. Or maybe. You decide. Certainly the author has created a rich mythology here – using real life events that we will all recognise he has woven an intricate tale and its extremely clever. Ward’s growing incredulity at what he is discovering will mirror your own as reader and looker on of events as they unfold. The supporting cast all do their bit – but its Ward and John that will interest you. And perhaps The Upright Man….

All in all fantastic. This is probably the third time I have read this book and each time I discover something new. Mr Marshall may smile when he learns that I’ve only just got the point of Sarah’s “safety” blanket – how many times have I read the name and it didnt sink in. You know what Im talking about…Don’t you Mr Marshall?

I’m not waiting. The Lonely Dead is next. Bring it on – what will I discover that I missed this time? You’ll have to await my next review.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

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Next up is Joe Conlan. With this debut Thriller “Nameless” he created a wonderful example of a fictional killer – with a very cold heart…..

Was your Serial Killer inspired by any real life case or book you had read?

 

I can’t say that Shem Chassar was modeled after any one real-life serial killer.  A lot of his characteristics and personality traits were purely a figment of my imagination.  I did draw inspiration from some of my favorite serial killer authors such as Thomas Harris and movies such as Copy Cat and Seven.  With regard to Shem’s penchant for blood and other gruesome qualities, there were a few serial killers of the past such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Denis Nilsen whose disturbing and vicious MO’s were always a fascination.

 

Is it difficult to write the “evil” characters and make them scary?

 

Yes and no.  I wanted to stretch my imagination to the limits to create the most evil character possible.  Many ideas came easily, especially those related to the development of Shem’s personality.  Describing  the murders did get very difficult.  For instance, there were several times while writing the scenes involving Hannah’s murder that I had to stop and settle myself.  Believe it or not, I wouldn’t harm a fly and I have a soft spot for older ladies.

 

Do you have a favourite “Serial Killer Thriller” book that you have read or film you have seen?

 

I’ve already mentioned Copy Cat, Seven and Untraceable.  I found the serial murderer in each of those stories quite chilling and compelling.  I’m especially intrigued with the brilliant ones.  I can’t forget Jeffrey Deavers’ The Bone Collector either.  Great stuff.  I absolutely loved all 4 books and movies.  The Hanibal Lecter series is right at the top of my list as well.  I would have to say that he is my favorite fictional serial killer.

 

Why do you think people in general are so fascinated by these types of killers?

 

That is a very good question.  I have often wondered about that especially with regard to my fascination for them.  It has made me worry about myself.  I’ve read some articles about the subject.  There are all kinds of theories.  For me, it’s kind of like one of those horrible or disgusting things like a terrible accident on the road that you really don’t want to look at but you can’t keep your eyes off of it.  I also love to hate them.

Thanks Joe

You can follow Joe on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/conlan_joe

 

Review: Nameless

 

A terrific twisted tale of a serial killer and the FBI agent bound and determined to catch him, this novel is a no holds barred ripping yarn bound to keep you up at night. For once you get a proper background for the killer – the novel is as often told from his point of view as it is from the view of the main protaganist and I strangely ended up feeling at times quite sympathetic towards him despite the fact that he is evil personified. Not for the faint of heart – the violence is properly violent as all real such acts are – and adds a nuance to the story often missing in this type of novel where the authors worrying about the sensibilities of the reader may overcome the more natural urge to write it as it is. Don’t get me wrong – the violent scenes are not overtly intrusive, and only there when the telling of the tale requires it, but they do ensure that your reading heart is entirely with FBI Agent Falcone as he follows the trail, often to his own detriment, to the bitter end. It twists and turns – the “filling out” of each major character you meet is cleverly done – you are left in no doubt as to the motivations for their actions, even when you are screaming at them to stop being so completely idiotic (as some of them, most especially for me Daniel’s wife, often are). The ending was superb and very unexpected – therefore this authors next book is high on my list of reading priorities. If you like crime fiction, most especially “serial killer” thrillers then I would say they don’t come much better than this

 

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Finally I caught up with Luca Veste – His debut novel Dead Gone will be released towards the end of the year and I was lucky enough to be one of the first to read it. His Serial Killer is dark indeed….

 

Was your Serial Killer inspired by any real life case or book you had read?

 

The overall idea came from one of the first psychology lectures I attended. It took a little longer than others, but I eventually started studying a couple of years ago as a mature student. It was one of those lectures which is designed to ease you into the course and ended with the lecturer talking about a whole bunch of experiments which psychologists carried out in the past. Most of these were carried out on animals, which (in my crime writer/reader mind) instantly led to the thought “what would happen if these experiments were on humans instead?” Thus the book was born. The serial killer is inspired in part by fictional creations (real-life serial killers are far too f*cked up to be believable!). John Doe in Se7en was an influence, as was Stuart Nicklin from Mark Billingham’s ‘Scaredy Cat’.

 

Is it difficult to write the “evil” characters and make them scary?

 

There’s a fine line between scary and ridiculous, I found. It’s difficult to stay on the right side of that line, but some of the most enjoyable parts of writing the book involved the evil parts. I was also very aware that I was entering a crowded genre, so I had to get the “evilness” right. Hopefully that’s the case.

 

Do you have a favourite “Serial Killer Thriller” book that you have read or film you have seen?

 

I have one of each. Favourite serial killer book would be Dark Room by Steve Mosby. A highly original idea, combined with some of the best prose in crime fiction. A stunning novel, which I wish I could describe more, but I don’t want to spoil it. It’s fantastic. Read it.

 

 

Favourite serial killer film is Se7en. I love the bleakness of it, the fact it rains pretty much throughout the film until the final (heartbreaking) scene. It’s relentlessly dark and has one of the best endings committed to film.

 

 

Why do you think people in general are so fascinated by these types of killers?

 

Well…this is just my opinion, which probably isn’t shared by all! I think we as a species are, in the main, terrified of randomness. Serial Killers are the embodiment of randomness, killing a whole range of people, strangers the vast majority of the time. That scares people. The idea that they could be targeted without realising, not seeing something coming…it’s scary. Combine that with the idea that people use fiction to safely explore their fears, it’s no wonder serial killer books are so popular. It also gives the reader the chance to peak behind the curtain; to see what the motivations of those killers are. It’s a way of investigating our fears from behind a veil of safety. We know, for the most part, that “good” will conquer “evil” so all will be satisfactory at the end. It’s that safety in reading fiction which attracts readers to these types of stories..

 

Thanks Luca!

You can follow Luca on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/LucaVeste

 

Review: Dead Gone

 

In Dead Gone we meet DI David Murphy – a man who has suffered a terrible loss – as he attempts to track down a killer. Not unusual you might think. But actually it is. This is a new breed of serial killer and David, alongside his partner in crime DS Laura Rossi will find themselves entering the darkest recesses of the human mind.

So lets talk for a moment about that group of books commonly known as “serial killer thrillers”. There are many out there – good ones, bad ones, scary ones…go into a bookshop and you will find plenty. To my mind the best ones have been written by Thomas Harris, John Connolly and more recently Joe Conlan.  I would also like to give a nod to The 50/50 Killer by Steve Mosby – a fairly stunning example of its genre. Now you can happily add Luca Veste to that list…This I can say with certainty. Its not easy to avoid cliche when writing a book of this kind, its also not easy to give it a new “voice” but this is what Mr Veste has managed to do and with terrific success. Engaging, frightening, genuinely shocking in places it will grip you to the last. Flowing storyline, terrific writing and a nod to those that have come before, this is an amazing debut.

So. Characters. You all know I love great characters yes? You will find a fair few in the pages of this novel. David Murphy, haunted, searching for reasons, has great depth to his character. I loved that he often set off down the wrong path – made assumptions then had to correct – not the perfect policeman who you are always sure will eventually solve the case but a realistic nod to investigative technique.  He is open to development – a great thing especially when you know that this is the start of a series. Laura is intriguing also, especially in her background and ties to family. I look forward to finding out more about them.

The mystery elements are well imagined and will keep you guessing – the very heart of any crime read. Its complex – no easy trail to follow here but always intriguing and never dull. The resolution will not disappoint. This is going to be a terrific addition to the genre. And if this is the first book, gosh, what is to come? I will wait to find out. Impatiently.

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Thank you to all the authors who took part today – some terrific answers there, fascinating stuff! Please see below some purchase/pre-order links.

The Straw Men:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Straw-Men-Michael-Marshall/dp/0006499988/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378712019&sr=1-1&keywords=the+straw+men

Nameless: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nameless-ebook/dp/B00BTIMY0Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378712062&sr=1-1&keywords=nameless

Dead Gone: http://www.amazon.co.uk/DEAD-GONE-ebook/dp/B00E31D9J6/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1378712096&sr=1-1

 

All 3 come highly recommended from me! I will be getting Mr Marshall back on site soon to talk about his other great novels and Luca Veste will tell us some interesting things again upon the release of Dead Gone.

In the meantime…Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves…..Cross and Burn by Val McDermid.

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Coming October

First of all, thank you to the author and publishers for the advance copy of this novel via netgalley. I was overjoyed to receive it as I’m a long time fan of Tony Hill and indeed all books from Ms McDermid. My beautiful Hardback copy remains on pre- order. Hey, Bookshelf OCD. Can’t have a missing one from the collection…

So, the latest instalment finds Tony and Carol at odds in the aftermath of “The Retribution”..meanwhile Paula Mcintyre takes front and centre as she takes on the case of a missing friend…and also begins the hunt for a killer alongside her new Boss, someone she is not sure of. Paula can’t  resist getting Tony involved, this must mean that Carol will not be far behind….surely?

I’m used to a high standard from these novels – I will admit to some slight concern about what would come next, The Retribution having had such an emotive storyline for those of us who are fans of the Carol/Tony pairing…and leaving us with such huge consequences for their relationship. How could she top that I wondered? I kept the faith though and my faith was more than justified. Here we have not only a top notch mystery as usual but a wonderfully written continuation of our favourite characters ongoing story.

By cleverly giving more focus to Paula, a character I have always been inordinately fond of anyway, and for at least the first portion of the book putting Tony and Carol very much in the background of the story as it relates to the current investigation, Ms McDermid created for this reader, a thing of beauty. I was equally enthralled with the new case and with Paula’s struggles to come to terms with new relationships..both personal and professional. And then flipping the coin and seeing just how Carol is coping with her life and how Tony is trying to cope in his world that simply, at this moment, does not have Carol in it.

Other characters, both old and new make an appearance, a little twist to Paula’s case gives us some unease and I had to make myself slow down a little and appreciate the writing  – I could happily have read this one in a few hours straight when as usual it is a thing to be savoured….

Pulling together the strands of the story, Ms McDermid polishes things off in her indubitable style and gives us, her constant readers, a satisfactory conclusion and yet…a very real need to find out whats next for Tony, Carol et al. Oh dear, here comes my chronic impatience again…

So for the readers. If you are already immersed in this world then this instalment will more than satisfy you..I have no doubt. If you have yet to meet Tony Hill and Carol Jordan then don’t start here – you COULD, in fact you could start anywhere, but I would highly recommend that you start at the very beginning. Tony and Carol have had a whole life before this. “The Mermaids Singing” begins their story…where it will end we have yet to discover.

You can find out more here: http://www.valmcdermid.com/

Follow Val on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/valmcdermid

To Pre-Order Cross and Burn : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cross-Burn-Tony-Hill-McDermid/dp/1408704560/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378641068&sr=1-1&keywords=cross+and+burn

And to start from the beginning: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mermaids-Singing-Val-McDermid/dp/0007344678/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378643240&sr=1-1&keywords=the+mermaids+singing

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Next Week to Liz Loves Books.

So yet another week over and its been terrific! Thanks so much to all the authors that took part in the various interviews and thanks for the amazing reads! So what do we have for you next week I wonder?

 

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On Monday I am doing a “Serial Killer Thriller” feature about that terrific sub genre of books that include the scariest of killers. Taking part will be Joe Conlan, Michael Marshall and Luca Veste all of whom have written great titles in this vein. I have asked them all the same questions and you can find reviews of the books as well.

 

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On Tuesday I shall be talking to Rowan Coleman, all about “Woman Walks Into A Bar” – a novella I am going to be encouraging you all to download onto your Kindle as 100% of royalties are going to Refuge. I will tell you a bit about the charity and why they need our support. What a great cause, lets get behind it!

 

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On Wednesday at the request of great Twitter friend Susi Holliday, I shall be answering the A-Z questions on my “My Life in Books”.  Find out what my answers are and see Susi’s here as a little taster. http://sjiholliday.com/

 

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On Thursday I shall be talking to Joanne Graham all about the wonderful novel Lacey’s House – a favourite recent read of mine from the amazing Legend Press. Looking forward to that one and don’t miss the book!

 

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On Friday I shall be returning to a very popular subject- that of a good twisty tale – and doing a feature called “Beat the Author”. This is a game I play with all twisty tales and so far the only living authors to absolutely beat me are the ones who will be taking part. Erin Kelley and Tina Seskis. They will answer some questions for me and I will also be giving a nod to Agatha Christie – the Queen of Crime- another author who got me every time…

 

So thats next week. Have a great weekend everyone.

 

Happy Reading folks!