Why we Write – Drop in feature- Guest post by Sarah Hilary.

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Why I Write

 

I grew up with stories of writing. My mother, aged three, learning to write with a stick in the sand, in a Japanese prison camp where people risked their lives to keep diaries. Writing with stubs of pencil on scraps of cloth and in the margins of books; finding ingenious hiding places to keep the diaries safe from searches. People who were often ill, always hungry, in fear for their lives and writing, always writing.

 

When, as an adult, I tracked down the diaries kept by the prisoners, I was struck by the different accounts of the same hardships: factual accounts of the injustices meted out in the camp; wistful accounts written for sisters and parents back home; accounts fired through with compassion even towards the people responsible for the suffering of the prisoners. The same story, it seemed, could be told in a hundred different ways. And it had to be told. These writers risked their lives to tell their stories. They were compelled to write, just as I was compelled to read.

 

The stories took me to a place and time I couldn’t otherwise have imagined. But the magic didn’t end there. Because I could feel the sand under my feet, and see the words written by my mother with her stick; I could hear cicadas and macaws and the colour of the sky when it swelled with rain. I wasn’t just transported; I was there, in the story.

 

Like any child, I read to escape. The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, the adventure stories of Enid Blyton, Lorna Hill’s ballet stories…

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But the greatest thrill was when I found Jane Eyre. Because I recognised this girl. This was better than escapism; this was finding myself in pages written years and years before I was born by someone who had somehow created a girl who felt the way I did and thought the way I did. That was the moment I knew: books are alchemy. Writing is alchemy.

 

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When I write, I hope to do two things: to pay a debt to an idea in my head and to connect. I want my readers to feel they’ve escaped into another world but one which they recognise, which resonates. Without that grain of truth, a story is simply about being taken out of the world for a few hours. I want my stories to bring readers back again, with fresh eyes and new questions.

 

Curiosity

 

I write out of curiosity, and to provoke curiosity in others.

 

All my writing notebooks are filled with questions. Who, how, when, why? I love questions more than cake. So please, if you see me at a book event or on Twitter, ask me a question. Anything at all. Feed the writer.

 

Thank you SO much Sarah.

Find out more here: http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.co.uk/

Follow Sarah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/sarah_hilary

Sarah’s BRILLIANT debut – Someone Elses Skin is available now: Don’t miss it.

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Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Someone-Elses-Skin-Marnie-Rome/dp/1472207688/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402387108&sr=1-1&keywords=sarah+hilary

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Liz Currently Loves….The Hunters Oath by Jason Dean.

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Available Now from Headline.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via BookBridgr

Amy Philmore knows something is wrong as she walks home alone through Fort George Hill. When a car pulls up and three men get out, it’s too late to escape. Now she is in hospital fighting for her life.
Her brother, Former Marine James Bishop, is determined to find the attackers before they return to finish the job. The cops are on the case but Bishop takes matters into his own hands, and nothing can hold him back in his hunt for vengeance.

So the latest James Bishop thriller from Mr Dean – not the first one I’ve read but the first one I’m reviewing – and I have to say this is fast becoming one of my favourite thriller series and with this instalment has definitely overtaken that staple of this genre, Jack Reacher, for me.

Anyway here we find Bishop with a problem – his Sister has been badly hurt, fuelled by a certain amount of guilt and an absolute determination to track down those responsible he takes us on yet another page turning, breathtaking and gripping journey. Don’t expect to get much sleep..

Things I loved most: Bishop as a character came into much sharper focus, the development continuing beautifully from the first two in the series and every story I read makes me fall a little more in love with him. Kidanu – enigmatic and absolutely compelling, becoming Bishops unwanted and yet eminently useful “sidekick” I really hope we will meet him again. I may have to have words.  Amy’s husband Gerry made me grit my teeth, the bad guys were as always very well drawn giving a real sense of peril and the storyline was intelligent and well flowing with some lovely little twists and turns.

Apologies to Mr Dean to go off topic slightly but this novel gives me a chance to put my viewpoint across on some stuff thats been discussed in the book world recently. I do love a good thriller it has to be said. I’d like to say they are my guilty pleasure but with all the furore recently over reading choices and whether we should be ashamed of them (Yes I read YA and I’m proud to do so) and all the chat about literary versus beach reads and what readers prefer – me I prefer a darn good book. I don’t really care where it comes from or what umbrella it falls under. THIS here, The Hunters Oath, is a darn good book – so its not a guilty pleasure at all. It is simply a pleasure…and from Blyton to Tolstoy there is something for everyone and age is a state of mind. Reading is and always should be a joy. Where you find that joy is entirely in the eye of the beholder. And half the pleasure is in discovering those gems that give you that pure adrenalin rush of reading heaven.

Back to the point  – my reading pleasure was most definitely enhanced by this wonderfully fun and intelligent thriller and comes highly recommended from me, as does the series as a whole. If you want some edge of the seat action accompanied by some terrific and fascinating characters, this one is for you.

Also Available:

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Follow Jason on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Jasondeanauthor

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jason-Dean/e/B00B29FUL2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

Happy Reading Folks (of whatever you fancy!)

 

Liz Currently Loves….Dodger of the Dials by James Benmore.

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Available now from Heron Books.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.

Two years on from the events of Dodger, Jack Dawkins is back as top-sawyer with his own gang of petty thieves from Seven Dials. But crime in London has become a serious business – and when Jack needs protection he soon finds himself out of his depth and facing the gallows for murder.

I absolutely adored the first book in this series where we were introduced once more to The Artful Dodger of Charles Dickens fame so I was looking forward to the sequel very much and was not disappointed.

The story comes into its own in this instalment, Mr Benmore managing to recreate the atmosphere and ambience of the original storytelling but giving it a modern day twist and sense of humour that whilst keeping the heart of the original firmly in place allows for a more contemporary and current readership. Cleverly done and absolutely addictive.

I was absolutely delighted to see Oliver Twist himself back in action this time round – older and wiser, one of the best parts of this story for me was the reaquaintance of these two well loved characters – and once again of course the London of the times is brought back to life in a very real way. The prison scenes are especially evocative and the sense of time and place is absolutely terrific.

I both laughed and cried at this, ALWAYS the sign of a great book for me and the plot is intelligent and compels you onwards all the way – I barely put it down from start to finish. Jack Dawkins and Co are in safe hands here – I wish them many more adventures. Preferably fairly quickly – as far as pure escaspism goes this is perfect reading. If you are a fan of the original story you will love these, if you have never picked up a Charles Dickens novel in your life this may well encourage you to do so.

Overall a most terrific read and one that definitely comes highly recommended from me.

Follow James on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/jhenrybenmore

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dodger-Dials-James-Benmore/dp/1780874685/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402134405&sr=1-1&keywords=dodger+of+the+dials

Also Available: Read first!

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Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dodger-James-Benmore/dp/1780874677/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1C2RQGD5R3T76VCGPSFD

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Its Book Break Day…

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BOOK BREAK – the new online book show series – Episode 5

Log on during your lunch hour for the fifth of ten monthly shows where author Alexandra Heminsley is joined by J B Morrisson, Tim Winton and Louise Millar who will be talking about their contemporary fiction novels.


Broadcast date: Friday 6th June
Broadcast time: 12:30pm 

In episode five of BOOK BREAK, anchored by author Alexandra Heminsley (Running Like a Girl), we are joined by J B Morrisson a hugely successful musician, Tim Winton, two-time Man Booker Prize nominee and Louise Millar, who has had a career spanning 20 years as a well-respected journalist.

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JB, Tim and Louise talk about their journeys into their successful writing careers and the trials and tribulations they experienced along the way.

 

J B Morrisson spent over ten years as a singer with punk-pop band Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, where he had 14 top 40 singles and a number one album. In this episode of Book Break, Jim Bob will be talking about how an ex Glastonbury headliner like himself came to write his third book, a quirky, life-affirming story that has enormous appeal: The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81.

 

Tim Winton began his writing career whilst at university, penning An Open Swimmer– which would go on to win the Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1981- amidst his academic commitments. This early acclaim has been steadily substantiated throughout Tim’s career, being nominated for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1995 and 2002 and winning the Miles Franklin Award four times. His latest novel, Eyrie, deals with disappointment, disillusionment and self-reflection.

 

Joining them is Louise Millar, whose book The Hidden Girl has just been published to critical acclaim.  Louise started her career as a music journalist before diversifying into women’s magazine. She has been a full time thriller writer ever since; her style is described as quietly creepy, chilling and riddled with suspense.

 

This month, in two special interview clips we’ll also hear from International bestselling author David Baldacci, author of recently released The Target, award winning author Emma Donoghue, author of The Room and most recently Frog Music and Professor Tanya Byron, who has just released her first novel The Skeleton Cupboard.

 

Follow #bookbreak on Twitter, subscribe to the Pan Macmillan YouTube channel or watch the broadcast right here at 12:30pm on Friday 6th June. 

WEBTV SHOW LOGISTICS 


Alexandra Heminsley is joined by J B Morrisson, Tim Winton and Louise Millar for Book Break which will be broadcast on Friday 6th June at 12:30pm

http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/book-break-5-jb-morrison-louise-millar

 

 FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT

 

Website:http://www.panmacmillan.com/

 

Hashtag: #bookbreak

Netwars: The Code. A Cross Platform Project.

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Today an introduction to Netwars: The Code with a guest post from author M Sean Coleman.

ABOUT M.SEAN COLEMAN: AUTHOR OF THE BUTTERFLY ATTACK AND THE CODE:

M. Sean Coleman was born in the UK and raised in South Africa. He started his career as a writer working for Douglas Adams on Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Online. Now, he is a writer of film and television drama, a novelist, and an award-winning writer and producer of cross-platform drama and reality series. He holds a BA in Scriptwriting from Bournemouth, and an MA in Screenwriting from LCP. He wrote the script for The Butterfly Attack graphic novel app, and is the author of the complementary netwars series The Code.

 

I first learned about the developing Netwars project in March 2012, when I received an email from a producer friend of mine, based in Berlin. He told me that he had been hired to work on a prototype app for a graphic novel about cyber-warfare, and that the production company, Filmtank, was keen to find an English writer to create the script and story for the app. He had proposed that they contact me, and wanted to know if I was free and up for it. There was no question – I was definitely up for it.

The project was right up my street, not just because of the subject matter – which was something I was already fascinated by – but also because the whole project was being planned as a multi-faceted, cross-platform project. I had been working as a writer and producer of cross-platform projects for years, and the opportunity to tackle a project that merged fiction and non-fiction about a subject matter I was enthralled by was an exciting prospect.

Of course, I expressed a fierce interest in being able to pitch for the job, and was sent a whole deck of information and research into the subject matter, from which to begin my plotting.

I had all sorts of Bond-meets-Bourne ideas about the world I was going to create, and the drama that would ensue, but quickly realized that none of the ideas would really work in the context of the project: the producers had already stipulated that whatever I came up with needed to be realistic.

Very early on in my pitching process, the producers organised a two-day kick-off meeting, to take place in Berlin, with everybody who would be working on the project. Of course, the whole team was not employed by that point, but it was an excellent way of meeting the coders, producers, artists, organisers, creative leads and everybody else who would play a part, in the flesh.

Over those two days, we brainstormed more ideas off the back of the ones I had pitched and I took copious notes. We also worked out a timeline for delivery, so that I could go away and research and write without holding up the development process of the whole app.

At that stage, the project was set to be a TV Documentary and the Graphic Novel app series. Very shortly afterwards an interactive Web Documentary became part of the plan too.

During the development of the story, I spent a lot of time working with and referring to the ever-patient experts who had been consulting on the TV Documentary. It was essential that nothing I wrote contradicted anything that the documentary would say was impossible.

Getting this balance right was very hard. I wanted to tell an exciting and engaging story, but I needed to make it real, and at first it seemed that everything I came up with would just never happen in the real world. We wanted the graphic novel to feel like a new take on the comic book form, using everything the tablet format allowed us in terms of interactivity and depth of engagement with the story and characters. Also, because of the subject matter, we were determined to play with how much information the reader could unwittingly give the app, and at the same time, give them the feeling that they, too, were hacking the devices of the main characters. We wanted it to be pacey, edgy and have exciting, almost superhero-like characters and situations, but at the same time, we didn’t want the audience to feel they had to work too hard to get any hidden information. It was a difficult balance to get right, especially across three episodes.

At the same time as haranguing the poor cyber security experts every day, I was talking to hackers and politicians to try and make sure that I could get the right beats for the story, and still get away with some of my Bond-esque moments.

As a creative team we relied on Skype to communicate, and we would have weekly team meetings online from London, Berlin, Stuttgart and sometimes Spain. Holidays, timezones and other potential disruptions were no barrier. We only actually met in the flesh a couple of times, at the beginning and end of the project, everything else happened digitally. It was strangely appropriate.

In mid-2013, the publisher, Bastei Lübbe, joined the project as a partner to publish the Graphic Novel series and they liked the concept enough to see that it would make a good thriller novel as well.

I have no idea how hard the producers at Filmtank had to push to get me selected as the writer of the novel as well, but by mid-September I was asked to come up with a treatment for a serialized novel. It was a dream for me, as a writer, to be asked to write the novel. That stuff never happens, does it?

Fortunately, I had been researching the world of cyber warfare, cyber terrorism and cyber crime for over a year by that point for the graphic novel, and I had a lot of interesting stories to draw upon. The publisher made it clear from the outset that it would be a very tight deadline, since they wanted to tie the launch of the novel in with the launch of the graphic novel, and they wanted to do it simultaneously in English, German and Mandarin Chinese.

They weren’t joking about the deadline: I sent off the story summary on the 16th September and delivered the completed novel on the 16th December! It was the most rigorous writing deadline I have ever had, and there was not a spare moment for anything else in those three months, but I wouldn’t change anything if I had my time again. It was a fantastic experience – I just had to write, every day, for at least eight hours a day. No excuses.

The novel still sticks to the same rules as every other part of the project – it is all based in truth. In the end, I think the novel adds yet another dimension to the project as a whole, and hopefully will reach another audience again. Hopefully it will be a thrilling read, but will remind readers that we need to be more aware of our presence online and our over-reliance on the ease and convenience of technology in almost every part of our lives.

What I wanted to do was write a rollicking good page-turner of a crime thriller novel, with a chilling, real-life core. I defy anyone who reads it to say that none of the threats that feature in the novel could happen to them.

 

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Netwars is a unique global cross-platform project created by leading German publisher Bastei Entertainment, following a group of hackers dealing with the impending threat of digital warfare between cyber terrorists and governments.

 

Published as six eBooks, the netwars project will also include three graphic novel apps and an interactive web documentary, with award-winning actor Nikolai Kinski (Aeon Flux, The Sinking of the Laconia, Yves St Laurent) playing the connecting character across all platforms. Each project can be followed as a standalone or as complementary to the other projects.

 

Just a few minutes after a nationwide blackout, life in the cities collapses. Famines, lootings and riots follow. It resembles a nuclear warfare movie scenario. But you don’t need a bomb to induce such a catastrophe… Just a computer is enough.

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL APP: The Butterfly Attack

 

An amazing interactive graphic novel app, animated in stunning 3D motion, The Butterfly Attack takes the viewer into a virtual cyberwar.

 

It’s 2017 and with new malwares created every day, Cyber Security is the No.1 top concern. By order of the European Defence Agency, elite security team Sixth Column are launching a hacking simulation to test their new security software. Led by former hacker Max Parsons, they are to conduct a secret cross-border cyberwar exercise, hitting the water supply, crippling power groups, and taking out transport networks in Norway. But then, there’s an explosion in Ranafoss power plant…

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Someone else has taken over the exercise. Someone from Max’s past? What started as a simulation has become deadly serious. With lives and the country’s security at stake, the six skilled hackers need to find and fight this unseen enemy.

 

The first of three episodes of The Butterfly Attack will be released as graphic novel apps available on iOS, Google Play, Amazon and Samsung in English, German, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish on 15th May 2014, price £1.99 per app.

See the trailer here: http://vimeo.com/89293355

 THE EBOOKS: The Code

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Don’t ask for forgiveness, nor pardon, nor grace.

Just understand this:

If you cannot live by the Code, you must die by the Code.

 

Scott Mitchell is a reformed criminal hacker, by day working for a government agency to prevent cyber-crime. At night, he stalks the Deep Web undercover as Strider, anonymously executing criminals who have breached his personal Code. But after taking out Anthony Prince, the corrupt head of security firm PrinceSec with a nasty penchant for preteen girls, Mitchell realises that his target was part of a bigger, more dangerous group of cyber criminals than he imagined.

 

Links emerge between Prince and Black Flag – an organisation of highly skilled and extremely dangerous hackers. With national security threatened, lives at stake, and Mitchell’s undercover alias jeopardised, the race is on to stop Black Flag before it’s too late.

 

The Code is an eBook serial novel and will be released in six weekly instalments in English, German and Chinese on the 16th May 2014, price £1.49 per episode.

THE WEB DOCUMENTARY

Imagine this: war is raging, and you’re right in the middle of it – without even knowing.

 

In this specially tailored interactive web documentary, meet the Salesman and learn about a cyberwar that has been going on for years.

 

Starring award-winning actor Nikolai Kinski, the five-part series explores the impending threat of cyber warfare. Blurring fact with fiction and featuring interviews from top security and hacking experts, it explains the background of the netwars setting and gives insights into past, present and future international hacker attacks. From the US-Israeli assault on Iran via Stuxnet in 2010; to today’s mass data collection by the NSA, and the multibillion dollar industry of digital security, the cyberwar is here.

A specially tailored interactive experience, the series makes one thing very clear – you are not in control.

 

Watch Episode 1: Out of CTRL                   

Watch Episode 2: Remote Attack            

Watch Episode 3: Back Up Your Life       

Watch Episode 4: Hacking The Mind      

Watch Episode 5: The Industry of Fear

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Why We Write – Drop in Feature. Guest Post by Liz Fenwick.

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After the popularity of the “Why we Read” articles (some of which are still to come) I asked a few lovely authors to do me a guest post about writing. First up is the lovely Liz Fenwick, author of “The Cornish House” and others. Here is what she had to tell me.

Thinking about why I write, my grandfather has a lot to answer for as he lived with us until I was seven. He came from Donegal and had a love of words. He loved poetry and quotations. He told me stories and he was my best friend. The seed he sowed before he died grew inside of me. The natural inclination of the Irish to enrich and embellish stories quietly developed in my head as I read book after book. I am an only child and books became where I lived when I felt I didn’t fit in which was most of the time.

 

Looking back my favourites are clear – Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes and Constance by Patricia Clapp (yes, vastly different reading to a child raised in the UK). They were all stories filled with adventure. I think I was about thirteen when I read my first Georgette Heyer, Regency Buck, and I was gone. I read everything of her that I could get my hands on. It was about this time that I began writing stories properly. Before this it was poetry as encouraged by school.

 

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I was fourteen when I travelled to Ireland to study for the summer and this was the year I read Leon Uris’ Ireland. I remember being told you needed to get through the first 200 pages and then you wouldn’t put it down! How things have changed. But I loved it and my desire to write about the Irish experience of coming to America grew in me as all of my grandparents had done this.

 

Jump forward to university where I did my degree in English Literature with a concentration on Medieval Studies and Creative Writing. It was during these years that I read Light A Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy. There on the page was exactly what I wanted to write. For my senior thesis I wrote 275 pages of An Irish Woman. My professor gave me the name of her agent to send it off to but I never did and I never finished the book.

 

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When starting to write fiction again in 2004, I stumbled across this agents name and Googled her… let’s just say opportunities I have missed. I also read the 275 pages of An Irish Woman and it was cracking read, but I left myself no notes on where it was going. I also laughed myself silly reading a chapter where someone was giving birth! At twenty-one I knew so little of life or pain!!!

 

What I discovered was that I could write and I could tell a story. So I began again. But now the seed of my inspiration is Cornwall. Everywhere I look when I’m there I see stories. They fill my thoughts continuously.

 

The need to tell stories had never died – even when I wasn’t putting them on a page they were always there in my head. I think it springs from the need to be in the stories myself all those years ago and even now. I write stories I want to be a part of and, of course, with hero that I too fall in love with.

 

Thank you so much Liz!

Follow Liz on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/liz_fenwick

Try out one of her fabulous books!

 

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When Maddie inherits a house in Cornwall shortly after the death of her husband, she hopes it will mean a fresh start. Maddie is enchanted by it and is keen to learn as much as she can about its past. As she discovers stories of generations of women who’ve lived there before, she feels her life is somehow intertwined within its walls.

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Sometimes running away is the answer…

Running out on your wedding day never goes down well. When the pressure of her forthcoming marriage becomes too much, Jude bolts from the church, leaving a good man at the altar, her mother in a fury, and the guests with enough gossip to last a year.
Guilty and ashamed, Jude flees to Pengarrock, a crumbling cliff-top mansion in Cornwall, where she takes a job cataloguing the Trevillion family’s extensive library. The house is a welcome escape for Jude, full of history and secrets, but when its new owner arrives, it’s clear that Pengarrock is not beloved by everyone.
As Jude falls under the spell of the house, she learns of a family riddle stemming from a terrible tragedy centuries before, hinting at a lost treasure. And when Pengarrock is put up for sale, it seems that time is running out for the house and for Jude.

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There’s an old Cornish saying: ‘Save a stranger from the sea, he’ll turn your enemy…’
When her reclusive grandmother becomes too frail to live alone, Gabriella Blythe moves into the remote waterside cabin on Frenchman’s Creek which has been her grandmother’s home for decades. Once a celebrated artist, Jaunty’s days are coming to a close but she is still haunted by events in her past, particularly the sinking of Lancasteria during the war.
Everything is fine until a handsome stranger arrives in a storm, seeking help. Finn has been left a family legacy: a delicate watercolour of a sailing boat which leads him to this beautiful stretch of Cornish water. As Finn begins to pick at the clues of the painting, he is drawn into the lives of Gabe and Jaunty, unraveling a remarkable story of identity and betrayal . . .
In her delightful new novel, Liz Fenwick weaves a spelling binding tale of romance and intrigue, set against the gorgeous Cornish coast.

 

Purchase Information:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Liz-Fenwick/e/B005PJTIPO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4?qid=1401865810&sr=1-4

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Author Interview: Ray Celestin The Axeman’s Jazz.

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One of my favourite books of the year so far, The Axemans Jazz was a wonderful tale set in New Orleans and with some amazing characters at its heart. I was lucky enough to get to ask the author a few questions – here is what he had to say.

 

How did you first come across the story of the original AxeMan?

 

As bizarre as it sounds, through scouring the internet looking for serial killers. I was working on another historical crime story based on the case of The Cleveland Torso Murderer, but unfortunately that idea fell through when I found out there was a competing project in the works. I was little upset because I’d done a fair bit of research, but I had caught the bug for writing about a serial killer from the past, so I went online and started looking for a new case to base my idea on. There are lots of true crime websites that list serial killers from around the world. I read about the Axeman on one of them and it seemed like a really interesting case, partly because the case went unsolved, but also because New Orleans at the time seemed so fascinating. The more I read about the place, the more I wanted to write about it, and the Axeman seemed like the perfect entry point for that.

 

Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for fictional elements of the story? Including why Louis Armstrong…

 

Most of the fictional elements came from trying to explain why the murders happened. No-one was ever caught, so I had to come up with a plausible reason to link all the killings together. Once I’d figured that out (with the help of a friend), it became a case of making the most of the setting. There was so much going on in New Orleans at the time – the birth of jazz, the birth of the mafia, the birth of prohibition, the end of the war, as well as the murders – I didn’t think I could have just one hero to explore all the layers, so I came up with three different heroes to each look into a different layer. It kind of made sense to have Louis Armstrong in the bits of the book that dealt with the jazz scene as he is the person who was in the city at the time that most readers would be familiar with. Also, I liked the idea of having an 18-year old Louis in the book, because I guess most people think of him when he was in middle-age and later life. There were other sides to him that are explored in the book that may be a surprise to some readers.

 

Do you have a favourite character from the novel?

 

 

Yes, Ida’s my favourite character. There’s this idea that when writers create the heroes of their stories, those characters are stand-ins for the writer, and that’s certainly the case with Ida – we’re both Sherlock Holmes fans, both read way too many books, and are both on the whole quite quiet. Aside from Ida, I also like Riley, the journalist character.

 

Can you tell us anything about what’s next?

 

Sure. I’ve just started work on the sequel, which is set in Chicago in the roaring 20s. Ida and Michael are in it, as is Louis, who was working in one of Al Capone’s nightclubs at the time, so the infamous gangster also makes an appearance. There are some other new characters too, and an intriguing case to solve. Aside from that I’m working on some film scripts and a few book ideas – including a Victorian ghost story which is based on a real-life story.

 

Best novel you have read lately.

 

I haven’t actually finished it yet, but I’m currently reading Jesse Burton’s The Miniaturist, which is excellent and incredibly well written. I also just finished re-reading Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. It’s the first time I’ve read it since I was at school, and I really enjoyed it second time around as the massively complicated plot actually made sense this time.

 

If you could live anywhere in the world…

 

Probably a Greek island. Kefalonia, maybe? Barring that, Croydon.

 

Tipple of choice.

 

Tea. Always tea.

 

A book character you would love to meet in real life.

 

Either Gandalf, for the fireworks, or maybe Sherlock Holmes, if I could get to investigate a case with him.

 

Thank you so much!

 

Review:

 

New Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer – The Axeman – stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him…

So. This year is going to be a GREAT year for debut novels and this right here is going to be right up there with the best of them. Why? Well you don’t find many books as well written as this one for a start – magnificent prose, flowing like a dream, hooking you into the ambience and sometimes horrific beauty of  the New Orleans of the era, then shoving in there with you a killer, several “good” guys, one good gal and, well, Louis Armstrong. For pure escapism it doesnt come much better than this.

The Axeman was a real killer, who between 1918 and 1919 killed six people in New Orleans. He was never caught. He wrote a letter, re-produced in its entirety in the novel – and from this true tale, Mr Celestin has woven a magical but perfectly rational absolutely possible piece of fiction. When you blend fact with pure storytelling as beautifully as this you deserve Kudos. So Kudos Mr Celestin…

What else to say without spoiling it – Its difficult. Apart from the aforementioned Mr Armstrong, we have Ida (Sherlock Holmes fan), Michael (I fell in love) Luca (I fell in love again, ok I’m fickle) all trying to track down a killer, a ghost, possibly a madman – and all this is set against the most magnificent backdrop of the musically minded, mob ruled, insane rollercoaster of a city also known as New Orleans.

I can’t even begin to put into words how the city comes to life under the inspiring penmanship of Mr Celestin – A character in and of itself you will want to live there whilst also running screaming in the other direction – but mostly you will want to live there. Even so, added to that we have a well drawn description of the inherent racism of the times, the different communities and mindsets of such and some wry and ironic observations on life in general. Put all the above together and you have an ambitious novel indeed. And absolutely addictive reading. It will get into your head – for a while you WILL live there.

Fans of Historical Fiction are going to go into a paroxsysm of joy over this one, and any reader of any kind who enjoys a good yarn will have a lot of fun. Appreciate the art folks. This is it right here.

Highly Recommended. Shall I say it again? HIGHLY Recommended.

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_12?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the%20axemans%20jazz&sprefix=the+axemans+%2Cstripbooks%2C235&rh=i%3Astripbooks%2Ck%3Athe%20axemans%20jazz&ajr=2

Happy Reading Folks!