New Release Spotlight – The Pocket Wife – Interview with Susan Crawford.

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The Pocket Wife is a beautifully drawn psychological thriller with a truly intriguing main protagonist. I was lucky enough to get to ask Susan Crawford a few questions about it.

 

  • Dana is a very compelling character – tell us what inspired you to start her story?

There is so much in the news that demonizes those with diagnosed mental illness. The notion that they are more likely than most to commit a violent crime is a commonly held belief, making the onus of instability all the more difficult for those struggling to maintain a delicate balance in their lives. Bipolar illness is arguably one of the most perplexing, with its strange, compelling energy and wild creativity that can spin into psychosis or crash into a pit of deep despair. For me, even the word bipolar conjures colors from bright reds to dusky greys. I wanted to tell the story from Dana’s point of view, hoping the reader might experience, to some extent, what she was going through and see the world through her eyes.

  • Was there a lot of research involved to get the nuances of bipolar disorder right? 

I got them right for Dana, for this particular character in this particular situation, but, just as everyone is different, every bipolar episode is different. The highs and lows might be similar, but the causes, the triggers, the actual experiences fluctuate. I studied towards a Master’s degree in counseling and I still have an interest in psychology, but most of my understanding of bipolar disorder comes from having friends with this illness. I have watched them swing from mania and unbelievable productive energy to the flatness of depression. I have seen their lives shattered.

  • Which character was your favourite to  write?

    This is a hard question to answer. I enjoyed writing Jack’s parts. He acted as a sort of anchor for the story, and it was interesting and challenging to be inside a man’s head. Ronald was really fun to write because he is such a conflicted character. Still, Dana was my favorite. I loved writing her parts because she was so unfettered and so outside the lines that it was very freeing for me as well. She is quirky and weird, but everything she does makes sense, considering her circumstances and what she perceives as truth.

 

  • Can you tell us anything about your next project?

My next book takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. It deals with a fatal late-night car crash and the aftermath, when the particulars of the accident are called into question by a zealous insurance investigator. Was the crash an accident, a suicide or a murder? Told in first person by the dead man’s widow and his girlfriend, the story exposes lies, deceit, and misdirection as it shows the struggles of these two women whose lives were toppled by the death of a man who loved them both.

 

  • One book you recommend to everyone.

There are so many!

  • Tea, coffee or other?

Tea. Definitely. I’m drinking a cup right now!
  3 people living or dead you would love to have a drink with?

 

Carl Jung, Joan of Arc, and Sylvia Plath

The Pocket Wife is published by Faber and Faber on the 19th March

Dana Catrell wakes from a drunken stupor in time to see an ambulance pull into her neighbour’s house a few doors down. Celia Steinhauser has been murdered. But Dana was at her house only a few hours ago. Celia wanted to show her a photo – a photo of Dana’s husband with another woman – and Dana has blank spots of what happened to the rest of the afternoon . . .

This is a thriller that makes the reader question everything. Dana, we learn, has a history of mental illness and as she descends into another manic episode, the line between what actually happened and what she has imagined becomes blurred.

A gripping domestic psychological thriller for fans of ASA Harrison’s The Silent Wife and Sabine Durrant’s Under Your Skin, The Pocket Wife will stay with you – as all good thrillers do – long after you’ve finished it.

 

Find out more here: http://www.susancrawfordnovelist.com/

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

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-pocket-wife/susan-crawford/9780571321889

Liz Currently Loves….The Stranger by Harlan Coben

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Publication Date: March 26th 2015 from Orion

Source: Netgalley

The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.

I am a fan, generally speaking, of this author. I havent loved EVERYTHING but for the most part I never fail to get a darned good yarn when I pick up a Harlan Coben novel – I was especially fond of the Myron Bolitar series and his standalone books always have a gorgeously twisted centre to them, a mysterious edge that means you cannot help getting involved.

With “The Stranger” I was utterly hooked. I read it all yesterday, a one sitting read (well interspersed with real life stuff like feeding the kids) that had me romping through the pages, desperate to know what was going on.

We meet Adam Price, happily married, two great kids, who one day meets a stranger. What this stranger tells him rocks the very foundations of that marriage and sets off an insidious chain of events that will put everything Adam loves on the line.

In classic Coben style we have a seriously addictive mystery element interspersed with some great characters who you want to root for. The really good thing about all the stories is the people that pepper the pages could be anyone – your neighbour, friend, loved one – they are all realistically drawn, often start off with fairly mundane normal lives, then BAM Mr Coben throws them (and the reader) out of that comfort zone and offers up a problem not easily solved.

In the case of The Stranger, there is a strong emotional edge to it – after all, what if someone told you that the person you trust most in the world is not actually trustworthy. What if, then, you start to look back on your life and the events therein with different eyes and a different outlook. This is what Adam faces here – those elements of the tale are cleverly done.

Overall this was really very satisfying. The story twists and turns its way to a stunning conclusion, there is a far wider picture to be had here which is drip fed to us in chapters not devoted to Adam, you may work this one out you may not – but the themes are varied and intelligently interwoven into the plot and this made for a really really great read. One of my favourite Coben novels so far.

Definitely highly recommended. Plus I somehow missed “Missing You” last year so I have that on my pile to read, which makes me very happy.

Find out more here: http://www.harlancoben.com/

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

Pre-Order information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-stranger/harlan-coben/9781409144632

Happy Reading Folks!

 

New Release Spotlight: The Girl in the Red Coat – Interview with Kate Hamer.

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Today I am VERY happy to welcome Kate to the blog where she tells us a little more about The Girl in the Red Coat.

  • Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the story.

The whole book really sprang from a very clear image I had – several years ago now. It was a little girl with curly, wayward hair and wearing a red coat. She was standing in a forest and was lost, I was sure of it, but I didn’t know why or how. Then one night in bed the first chapter came to me and I sat up and wrote it in one rush. Surprisingly, the chapter was not in the girl’s voice but her Mum’s – she’d been taken, that’s why she was lost.

It’s so hard to know where these things come from, but what I do know is that I was brought up on a diet of fairy tales. To a certain extent I think Carmel is a little Red Riding Hood, strayed from the path and threatened by wolves.

 

  • Was it difficult to write from Carmel’s point of view, following as it does her life from quite a young age – maturing as events occurred?

One of the missions in the book was to get eight-year-old Carmel’s voice right. On the one hand she is a child and that needs to be reflected in the voice. On the other I knew she was an intelligent child with her own thoughts and ideas and I didn’t want to ‘talk down’ to her by making her voice too childish. This balance was sometimes tricky – reading it out aloud really helped. In terms of her voice as events unfold though, I found I simply grew with her!

 

  • Beth was a beautiful character to read from an emotional point of view – was there any research involved in how people can react to the horrific realisation that your child has been abducted?

Quite early on in the writing of the book I made a decision to steer away from researching real life stories – for several reasons. I wanted this to be Beth and Carmel’s story, unique to them and the best way I could see of doing that was writing from the inside of the character, rather than pasting experiences on her – if that makes sense. But also in a funny way I didn’t want to feel I was appropriating anyone else’s experience for the book. This is Beth and Carmel’s story alone.

 

  • Can you tell us anything about your next project?

It involves another feisty girl – I’m very excited by it and my head is right in it now. So much so that sometimes I have to refocus a bit to talk about ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’!!

 

  • Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday.

Oh, catching up on reading every time – Sunday tends to me my day off from writing to recharge the batteries. Other than that going for a long walk with a pub lunch at the end of it. I lead a pretty quiet life!

 

  • One book you’d recommend to everyone.

That changes as it’s usually something I’ve read recently that’s particularly struck me. At the moment that would be ‘Great House’ by Nicole Krauss – she is an extraordinary writer.

 

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

I’d love to invite two authors whose books I run to when I’m feeling a bit down or bruised. The first in a mid-century American writer Betty MacDonald who books such as ‘Anybody can do Anything’ and ‘The Plague and I’ were drawn from her own eventful life. They have such humanity and humour – I love them. The same goes for Stella Gibbons, the author of ‘Cold Comfort Farm.’ The wry humour gets me every time – and I must have read it at least ten times. I think both women would be great fun and would have plenty to talk about with each other.

Lastly, it’s rumoured that I have a relative who founded her own religion. Joanna Southcott believed herself to be bearing the new messiah and attracted a sizable following in the eighteenth century. I’d love to meet her – but I’m not too sure what the other two would make of her!

 

THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT by Kate Hamer is published on 5th March, £12.99 (Faber & Faber)

Kate Hamer’s stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Carmel has always been different. Carmel’s mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter’s strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children’s festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.

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

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-girl-in-the-red-coat/kate-hamer/9780571313242

Happy Reading Folks!

Why We Write – Drop in Feature. Guest Post from Laura Elliott

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Today I am pleased to welcome back Laura to the blog telling us why she writes.

 

Why Do I Write?

 

I normally ask myself this question when I’m in the middle of writing a book. Inevitably, my characters are clamouring and misbehaving. Their lives have become as fragmented as the scattered pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and they expect me to sort out their problems!

Logically, and from past experiences, I know that I’ve the ability to slot those pieces into place. Somewhere, deep within me, call it my subconscious, my dark depths, whatever, their complete story is waiting to be unpicked. But all I feel is panic as I abandon my desk and go for a long walk.

That’s when the question arises. Why do I write? Why inflict this internal struggle on myself to sort out dysfunctional and complicated imaginary lives when I could be playing golf, tennis, jogging, sky-diving, bog-snorkelling, conquering Mount Everest or, more to the point, working nine-to-five and earning a regular salary?

The usual reasons come to mind. A love of reading that has stayed with me from the day I read my first book. A love of words and a fascination with their ability to enchant, deceive, uplift, deflate, spin a lie, shine a light on truth, reach into our hearts and tug shamelessly at our emotions.

When I was a child I was called a ‘day dreamer,” by my teachers. Day dreaming didn’t help pass exams and my school days were difficult. But I could always retreat into my imagination. It flowed like a river, story after story told to myself as I struggled through my studies, lay down to sleep, travelled by bus and train, stared out at the rain. It seems, looking back to those dreamy days, that all the stories I write have their origins in those early fertile years. Then I grew up. I stopped day dreaming and started paying attention to a previously unnoticed species…boys. The rest is history.

I was a mother of two and expecting my third child when I began to write. Timing has never been my strongest point. Suddenly, that river was in spate again, welling up with all those suppressed stories, now changed into adult format.

Initially, because I had a young family, my Great Novel ended up in a plastic bag. It lurks somewhere in my attic, dusty and forgotten. This is the fate of many first novels and, hopefully, I’ll never stumble across it.

From that initial burst of creativity my career as a journalist began. The features I wrote were short, finished within a day or two. My career developed. I edited magazines. I travelled abroad as part of my work and became increasingly involved in my career. But the yearning to write fiction never left me. Eventually, it was decision time. I gave up journalism and wrote my first book. I haven’t stopped since.

I take short breaks but withdrawal symptoms kick in within a few weeks and I start dreaming about writing. These are not day dreams but vivid sleep dreams. My hand moves across blank pages, filling them with words. I even write in foreign languages, flawless French, Spanish, Italian. The fact that I don’t speak these languages doesn’t stop me believing that I’m writing magnificent prose. Such illusions fade as soon as I open my eyes and those perfect words that flowed so effortlessly thought my unconscious mind are gone in the flash of daylight. Then it’s back to the computer and the reality of being an author…write, edit, delete, cut, copy, paste…head out for a long walk and believe that it will all work out…eventually.

Finally, I guess I write because it’s a passion. Like all passions it’s demanding, compulsive, errs at times on the obsessive and fills me with great joy, especially on days like today when a new book is launched. I hope you enjoy Fragile Lies as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

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

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fragile-Lies-Laura-Elliot/dp/1909490806/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423814154&sr=1-1&keywords=fragile+lies+by+laura+elliot