Gone by Rebecca Muddiman – Blog Tour.

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So as part of the Blog tour for the terrific crime novel “Gone”, in the spirit of my “Why We Write” occasional drop in features, Rebecca Muddiman kindly wrote a guest article all about her writing process.

 

My Writing Process

I’m constantly searching for the perfect writing process and routine. I have a copy of Daily Rituals by Mason Currey next to my bed which outlines the habits of other writers and I do wonder about copying some of the greats in order to get the work done. Unfortunately, many of them include drinking large amounts of alcohol, often in the day, which I’m terrible at; or taking naps, which I’m also bad at, unless I’ve been drinking but then that’s your whole day gone. So, instead, I’ll just stick to what I know.

Most of my writing starts with a vague idea – maybe something I’ve read or seen on the news. Watching TV and films or listening to music sparks a lot of ideas too but often these ideas don’t fit with the kind of crime novels I write. Warning to my editor: I’ve just re-watched Twin Peaks so things could get a little weird in the next book.

Some ideas never get past the swirling around in my brain phase but those that do end up being scribbled on various scraps of paper until those bits of paper start to look like they could become an actual story.

With my first novel, Stolen, the plot came first and the characters were built around it. Even DI Gardner was just a bit part in the initial draft but over time became the star. And because he kept growing and his back story kept developing, when it came to writing Gone, the plot became informed by his character.

The next part of the process is often the most fun and the most frustrating as I try to piece everything together. I do this by writing down each plot point or scene on a little bit of paper and then spread them all over the floor. This way I can see more clearly where things are missing and also how best to structure the book. I shuffle the pieces around until I’m happy and then write up a vague chapter by chapter outline. I use this to guide me once I start writing but often I’ll go off on tangents anyway.

My writing day sort of depends on where I’m at in the process – planning, writing the first draft or editing. Writing the first draft is usually the most rewarding, mostly because I can watch the word count rise and it feels like I’m getting somewhere. Editing often feels like treading water.

I try to be at my desk by about 8am and work until it’s dog walking time. After lunch I get back to it and work some more until I’m either hungry again or my brain seizes up. I always work from home, rarely venturing out to write somewhere new. Our house is nicknamed Murder Cottage as both me and my boyfriend both write crime novels. We thought about getting a plaque but wondered whether the postman would stop coming. Anyway, it’s really nice to work from home because you never know when you’re going to need a stiff drink or a nap.

About the book:

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250,000 people go missing in the UK every year. 91% of those reported to police are found within 48 hours. 99% of cases are solved within a year. And 1% stay gone. 11 years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body has been found in woods near Blyth. DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, and is determined to make up for it now. But when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that nothing is as simple as it seems.

My Review:

An extremely clever and addictive mystery story to be found here, another great crime novel and it kept me on my toes throughout. I have been lucky lately to find a lot of new crime novels, one of my favourite genres – this is a top notch addition to my must read authors list.

Some brilliantly drawn characters lead us along – the most fascinating of which is one Lucas Yates, someone who has a past with missing teen Emma Thorley – now presumed dead – and who was not that fond of her. Then we have DI Michael Gardner, a man haunted by his past when it comes to his present colleague relationships, with the sense that he did not do the search for Emma justice at the time of her disappearance. These two very different but equally compelling characters made this book for me – I was eager to find out the outcome for both.

The mystery element is beautifully imagined and very well constructed – as the story ebbs and flows there are some great twists and turns and Rebecca Muddiman has a great turn of phrase and descriptive prose that keeps you deep into the story throughout.

Overall then highly recommended for Crime Fiction fans, an excellent addition to my list of author favourites.

Find out more here: http://rebeccamuddiman.wordpress.com/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/RebeccaMuddiman

Purchase Information:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gone-Gardner-Freeman-Rebecca-Muddiman/dp/1444791591/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421048905&sr=1-1&keywords=gone+rebecca+muddiman

 

Happy Reading Folks!

New Release Spotlight: Tell No Tales by Eva Dolan. Author Interview.

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Tell No Tales is the second in the DS Ferreira and DI Zigic series, an intense and terrific crime novel – I caught up with Eva to ask her all about it.

The first novel “Long Way Home” set the scene and introduced us to DI Zigic and DS Ferreira – tell us a little about the inspiration behind the characters.

Before starting Long Way Home I’d thought a lot about the world I was going to be exploring and knew I’d be setting the book in a Hate Crimes department, so I wanted characters who’d be sympathetic to that and who were steeped in the community they’d be working with. Having detectives from migrant backgrounds was just the natural way to go.

 Zigic and Ferreira aren’t quite a ‘chalk and cheese’ cop duo, they’re both conscientious and determined but in very different ways because I like a bit of a frisson between main characters, so while Zigic is a settled family man, sympathetic and logical and thoughtful, Ferreira is more gut-driven and combative, her experience is much closer to that of the victims and criminals they deal with, being a first generation Portuguese immigrant herself, and because of that she’s got a bit of a chip on her shoulder.

They’re huge fun to write and just now, finishing the third book in the series, I’m enjoying finding out more about them and seeing how they react under new pressures.

What made you decide to set the books in Peterborough specifically?

The storyline of Long Way Home led me to Peterborough. Once I knew I’d be writing about immigration I wanted a location which was small enough for an influx of migrant workers to have a pronounced effect and obvious reaction, but somewhere large enough to contain lots of stories if the series continued for awhile. Peterborough has seen several waves of economic migration during the last hundred years and as such has an interesting ethnic mix. It’s one of those post-industrial Midlands-ish cities with its fair share of deprivation and social challenges, good fodder for a crime writer as the series continues. It’s also on the edge of thousands of acres of bleak and beautiful fenland, great for chase scenes and dumping bodies in.

How did the plot for “Tell No Tales” start forming for you?

The storyline for Tell No Tales came out of unused research I did for Long Way Home, looking into the British far-right, its history and make-up and how it was now becoming worryingly mainstream thanks to a certain Euro-sceptic party and the medias obsession with its racist, sexist, homophobic members. I wanted to explore how the political arm of the movement related to the foot soldiers, the internal warfare they’re constantly locked in, and what would happen if you threw murder into the mix.

 
There are some important issues highlighted within the books – do you find its important to you to try and inform and influence as well as entertain?

A year is a long time to spend writing a book and for me there needs to be something  ‘bigger’ at stake that just telling a good story. I want to be moved by the subject matter, so tend to seek out issues which I believe are important, usually ones which make me angry or I feel are being overlooked elsewhere. Getting fired up like that helps create momentum and with Tell No Tales the mainstreaming of ultra-right ideology was very much in the news while I was writing, so every time I opened a paper or saw a bulletin there was some fresh annoyance to spur me on.

There’s nothing wrong with writing to entertain – all authors should strive to do that – but writing solely to entertain is not for me. Don’t know if I’ve ever managed to influence anyones thinking but if a reader comes away from my books feeling like they’ve seen a world that’s new to them then I’m happy.

Any writing habits? Must have coffee? Chocolate?

I am hugely superstitious, so I have to have my big, ugly writing cardigan on and my lovely Toast pyjamas, two cups of very strong coffee in my special writing mug, two roll-ups, and some Lindt dark chocolate for sugar infusions during long sessions. I’ve found lately that music is too distracting while I’m working but I need some kind of background noise so put on the BBC news channel for a low murmur and occasional inspiration. I usually prep my brain with a few hands of poker but it takes a lot of self control to close that table and start writing, especially when I’m winning!

One book you recommend to everyone.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy because it’s the most accessible of his books and I want everyone to get sucked into his dark and deeply twisted world.

3 people alive or dead you would love to have at a dinner party.

Mark Thomas, Nigel Farage and Shami Chakrabarti – I don’t hold with that convention of not talking politics or religion over dinner and I think they would make for a memorable evening.

Thank you Eva!

Review:

The car that ploughs into the bus stop early one morning leaves a trail of death and destruction behind it.
DS Ferreira and DI Zigic are called in from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit to handle the investigation but with another major case on their hands, one with disturbing Neo-Nazi overtones, they are relieved when there seems to be an obvious suspect. But the case isn’t that simple and with tensions erupting in the town, leading to more violence, the media are soon hounding them for answers.  Ferreira believes that local politician Richard Shotton, head of a recently established right-wing party, must be involved somehow. Journalists have been quick to acclaim Shotton, with his Brazilian wife and RAF career, as a serious contender for a major political career, despite his extremist views, but is his party a cover for something far more dangerous?

Another gripping read from the pen of Eva Dolan, who’s first novel in this series, Long Way Home, gave a fresh take on Crime fiction and was terrific. The follow up “Tell No Tales” is, if anything, even better as now we know the characters and understand a little of what they are up against.

In this instalment a hit and run causes tensions to rise within the community and Ferreira and Zigic are under pressure to get a result before things explode. It is not that easy however as political shenanigans and extremist tendencies get in the way.

I love how the author paints a picture of a community here – troubled yes, but also rich in history and diversity – I was particularly taken with Sophia, who has a difficult life, often made worse by her own actions. The political landscape is extremely well drawn, echoing the issues we see in our society today and giving them a voice and an authentic background, it is endlessly fascinating and totally addictive.

Beautiful flowing prose and a distinct ability to get to the heart of the matter make this a top notch, brilliant crime read and definitely solidifies the author’s place on the list of those Crime writers who are only going to get better, classics in the making. I, for one, can’t wait to find out what is next for DS Ferreira, DI Zigic, their colleagues and the Peterborough community.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more here:  http://loiteringwithintent.wordpress.com/

Follow Eva on Twitter here:  https://twitter.com/eva_dolan

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tell-No-Tales-Zigic-Ferreira/dp/184655778X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420704877&sr=1-3&keywords=eva+dolan

Also Available:Read First:

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Long-Way-Home-Zigic-Ferreira/dp/0099584395/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420704984&sr=1-1&keywords=eva+dolan

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Why We Write- Drop in feature – Guest Post from Jan McDonald

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I’m pleased to welcome Jan McDonald to the blog today telling us why she writes.

 

WHY DO WE WRITE?

 

I have often asked myself this question, usually in the middle of the night when I’m sitting at the keyboard yawning, and I guess there’s no straightforward answer. I can only answer for myself.

 

There is a myth abroad that writing for a living is a romantic, almost spiritual experience, with imagery of candles and keyboards and cats curled up on desks. It isn’t at all like that, it’s hard work and often unrewarding, especially when there is that one bad review among a host of good ones, and the only thing curled up on my desk is the sandwich I made for lunch and then forgotten about as I was intent on finishing the next chapter. So, the question remains, why do I do it?

 

Firstly, a very broad and unspecific answer is; I love it. I love to try and create a world peopled with characters that begin as strangers and eventually become almost ‘family’; caring about them, listening to their voices as they almost tell their own stories. No, it’s not time for the men in white coats; it’s what happens, really. I have given the characters a voice within a story and unless I ‘listen’ to them, I would probably end up with a story that had no depth, or sense of reality. Now, given that I write about the paranormal, that’s not always easy. 🙂

 

So, I write because I love it, which begs the question, why do I love it? The answer to that one is a little easier to answer. It’s because I love reading. I have always almost revered books, their feel, their smell, the anticipation of opening to the first page, and, of course, their content. My earliest happy memories as a child involve books; rag books progressing to cardboard books, and picture books. Winnie the Pooh, Alice, of course, and the ubiquitous Enid Blyton and her Faraway Tree absorbed me in my early childhood rather than dolls or other toys. If I was asked what I would like for a treat, it was always a book, any book, and there was always a treasure in my Christmas stocking.

 

Words to me are magical. They have power. The power to heal, to induce tears and laughter and to provoke thought. I have read the great, the good, and sometimes the not so good, all of which have inspired me to write; sometimes well and sometimes not so.

 

I remember the first thing I wrote. It was a short story, very short in fact. It was during a maths lesson at school, when faced with rudimentary mathematics, I switched off and instead of producing a column of neat figures, I wrote the story. I was sent to the headmaster expecting a telling off accompanied by a letter to my parents; instead I found myself in assembly reading it out. At the tender age of ten I knew what I wanted to do – I wanted to be a writer.

 

But life has a habit of taking us in different directions, and after careers and children I found myself in a world far removed from my original plan. But when I had to take early retirement due to a health issue it was a blessing, because now, I finally had the time to write ‘for real’, and it came as a huge surprise to me that others actually enjoyed reading what I had written!

 

I have always been intrigued by all things paranormal and those children’s books quickly gave way to the masters of the art; Edgar Allen Poe, M R James, H P Lovecraft and all the other guys in the band. So when it came to what to write, it was a no brainer.

 

I hope that I will always write, it’s when I am at my happiest, weaving a world from words that, hopefully, will entertain others. This is another answer to another question, why do I continue to write. It’s because there are lovely people out there that take the trouble to buy and read my books and appear to be enjoying them. Something that began as a way to satisfy a compulsion to write for my own pleasure, has become something that I find I can share.

 

The greatest gift I was given at an early age is the ability to read and therefore the ability to transport myself into far off worlds, adventures, sagas and books that make me laugh out loud, for which I am always grateful.

 

 

Follow Jan on

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JanMcDonald1

Website: http://janmcdonald.ravencrestbooks.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8532246.Jan_McDonald

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janmcdonald.author

Why not try one of Jan’s books?

Purchase information:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jan-McDonald/e/B001KCCGBI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1420619106&sr=1-2-ent

 

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves….Empire by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard.

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Publication Date: Available now from Headline

Source: Publisher review copy

Syl Hellias: an Illyri, the first of her kind to be born on Earth. Paul Kerr: a human, dedicated to his people’s resistance of the alien invasion. Brought together by chance they formed the strongest of bonds. Now they are to be punished for that love.
Exiled to the outermost reaches of the universe, Syl and Paul must each make journeys that will lead them to the horrifying truths harbored at the heart of the Illyri Empire. And to a force with the power shake the the universe to its very core.

I was a huge fan of book 1 in this series – Conquest – so to say I was excited to read Empire would be putting it mildly. The great news is that Empire is brilliant – taking the initial imaginative concept and expanding and even improving on it as things move forward for Paul, Syl et al, this was a magnificent read, utterly compelling, beautifully written with some visionary world building and totally cool characters.

Syl and Ani are with the sisterhood, Syl determined to find out Syrene’s secrets whilst Ani begins to find herself feeling at home. Paul and Stephen are off on enforced service within the Illyri military – separated by distance but working towards the same goal, all of them will make frightening and horrific discoveries about the conspiracy at the heart of the Illyri empire.

This is a series aimed at Young Adults – it is intelligent, superbly done and could equally have been written for adults – in that sense it defies a genre tag or a “target audience”. Realistically speaking, anyone who enjoys fantasy, science fiction, adventure or almost anything reading wise for that matter,  could get a lot out of this. There are some thrills and spills, mystery elements, a gorgeously drawn romance, extravagant and ingenious worlds to explore and bang at the heart of it simply a darn good yarn.

I am in love with all the characters, the good, the evil, the downright enigmatic and one of the best things about both Conquest and Empire is the intricate weaving of interpersonal relationships between all the players – in the case of Empire, the slow but sure downturn of the previously solid friendship between Syl and Ani is one of its strengths – a “coming of age” arc where the heart and soul of that particular pact is threatened by outside influences and I was totally absorbed by it.  Emotionally speaking all the character arcs pack a heck of a punch – Syrene is such a compelling and wonderful character, to pick at random one of the many others you will find here, she is so terrifically evil and yet absolutely engaging.

As for the Universe they all inhabit, it is magnificently drawn. Whilst Conquest was set mainly on Earth, Empire goes beyond the horizons and takes the reader on a fast, furious and brilliantly engaging rollercoaster ride around the galaxy – brought vividly to life and often horrifically scary, right there is another element to the story as a whole that will often have you on the edge of your seat.

I was considering baking John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard a cake for writing such a fun, sometimes dark, always thrilling yet deeply emotional fantasy tale but then I read the end and realised I had to wait. WAIT for more. Not on. So instead they get a glare from me, all be it one with a hint of a smile, plus this review. Consider me one happy reader. Mostly. Ok, completely then.

Sparkling stuff. Highly Recommended.

Find out more here: http://chroniclesoftheinvaders.com/

Follow John Connolly on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/jconnollybooks

Follow Jennifer Ridyard on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JennieRidyard

Purchase Information: Special signed edition: http://www.goldsborobooks.com/books/empire-chronicles-of-the-invaders-2-john-connolly-jennifer-ridyard-4214.html

Purchase Information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/john+connolly/jennifer+ridyard/empire/10467264/

 

Also Available: Read first.

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http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/john+connolly/jennifer+ridyard/conquest/9962196/

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Top Ten 2014 Spotlight: The Girl with all the Gifts. Interview with M R Carey.

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So in at No 2 of my Top Ten Reads of 2014 came the magnificent “The Girl with All The Gifts” which reminded me why I read in the first place and still stays with me even now. Mr Carey kindly answered a few questions for me: so here you go.

 

 
Tell us about the inspiration behind Melanie and her story.
The starting point was this image of a little girl writing an essay in a deserted classroom – and writing around or just plain missing the fact of her own mortality. A dead girl, writing about her future. For once I was writing to a spec brief – a story for a themed anthology of shorts with a general focus on “school days”. So I had to come up with a story set in a school or playing off a school situation. I cast my mind back to my own school days, and this was what came up.

 

What’s scary is that I’ve since spoken to a friend (Al Davison, the writer/artist of Spiral Cage) who has severe physical disabilities, and he said his experience of school was incredibly close to Melanie’s. Al has spina bifida, and has been confined to a wheelchair for most of his life. He told me that as a child, in a specialised school for physically handicapped children, he was made to take naps at stipulated times and to sit unoccupied in his chair for long periods every day, and this was very tightly regimented. So I made up this nightmare institution and then I found that there are, or have been, places very like it.

 

Are you tempted to write more set in that world? Or indeed are you planning to?
I don’t have any immediate plans to write a sequel. It feels as though it would have to be a very different kind of book, because of how the climax of The Girl With All the Gifts plays out.

 

But I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a sort of meanwhile-quel. A book that would be set in Beacon at the same time that these events are playing out in London and the midlands. We never do get a definitive answer in Girl as to what’s happening in Beacon and whether it’s even still standing, and I think it might be an interesting (if unsettling) place to visit.

 

That would be some way in the future, though. I have at least two other books to write first.

 

Apart from Melanie, did you have a favourite character to write?
I enjoyed writing all of the core characters, but I confess I particularly enjoyed writing Sergeant Parks. The gradual process by which he comes to respect and then to care for Melanie is – after Melanie’s friendship with Miss Justineau – one of the emotional pivots of the story, and I very much liked opening up this initially very closed and taciturn character to the reader’s view.

 

Which book would you most like to give to friends and family this Christmas?

 

Always a tough question! Okay, as you know I have a background in comics writing. A lot of my friends this year are going to find A Dream of Flying in their Christmas stockings. It’s the first volume in the re-issued Miracleman saga. It’s so exciting to see these Alan Moore classics back in print after a quarter of a century – and I know many people who will utterly love their clever, disturbing deconstruction of the superhero genre. The central situation is a bizarre one, but Moore takes it to some amazing places. Imagine you were a middle-aged guy, living a fairly humdrum life, and you suddenly remembered that as a young man you had a magic word that turned you into a superhuman being with godlike powers. And then you remembered the word, and you said it aloud for the first time in twenty years…

Thank you!

 

Original Review:

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her ‘our little genius’. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

So. Mr Carey. I have been waiting for another book in another series, some folks will know what I mean, but I thought hey, this one will do to be going on with. Especially when good blogger friend Kate waxed lyrical about it and told me I must read it. Frankly it wasnt a hard sell..

This is an INCREDIBLY difficult book to review without spoilers – I had no idea why Melanie was so special going in, and I’m not going to tell you either, but special she is. And not just because this is a clever, fascinating, addictive story about – ha see you nearly had me – its about THINGS OCCURRING –  but because she is ridiculously easy to love, so well written is she. In fact all of the characters pop right off the page for one reason or another.You will either want to protect them with your life or shoot them in the head. Often with no inbetween.

Its a horror story. But not really. Its a fantasy. But then, no not really. There is certainly love there. And loss. And some stand out scene setting. And a heck of a lot of jaw dropping moments. And don’t start reading it just before bed time. You won’t sleep. For various reasons…not all of which will have to do with how eager you are to find out what happens.

When I read a book like this it reminds me why I love to read. Utterly compelling, taking you away from the madness of the real world and into the madness of another…offering a new twist on a popular theme and getting you right at the heart. RIGHT at the heart. Its only the end of January but I would be MOST surprised if this one doesnt end up in my top 5 of the year. And trust me, choosing last years top 5 was hard enough..

PLEASE be careful which reviews you read of this one before you dive in my reading friends. It really is best arrived at with a beautiful blissful ignorance.

Highly Recommended. HIGHLY.

Follow on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/michaelcarey191

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-All-Gifts-M-Carey/dp/0356502732/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_har?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392974174&sr=1-1&keywords=the+girl+with+all+the+gifts+by+m.+r.+carey

Happy Reading Folks!