Hard Cold Winter – Glen Erik Hamilton – Author interview

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Publication Date: Available Now from Faber.

Today I am very happy to have Glen Erik Hamilton on the blog talking about Hard Cold Winter, my review will follow – these are great atmospheric thrillers that come recommended from me. Thanks to Glen for taking the time.

I loved Hard Cold Winter, it definitely solidified my love for Van Shaw – can you tell me a little about the origin of the character for you?

I always love reading about characters who are facing tough decisions. That can be at a crossroads in their life, or in a situation which challenges their personal beliefs. Having grown up consuming mystery and crime fiction, I was intrigued by the idea of a protagonist who was raised with a crook’s mindset. There were at least two ways to go with that: A young thief who is forced to acknowledge the moral cost of his life, or a solid citizen who had stepped away from the criminal life, who has to confront unfinished business. I cheated. I wove interstitial chapters into the main narrative of PAST CRIMES (and did the same for HARD COLD WINTER), to show Van at a young age. That allowed for the thrills and chills of his lawless apprenticeship under his grandfather, and the ethical minefield he’s walking today.

And for me “2nd book syndrome” is a thing – how did you approach the follow up in order to move the narrative forward – harder than the first or easier because you’ve got the basis to work from already?

The time pressure is certainly harder. You have as long as you like to finish your first novel, but once you’re on deadline, the work gets very focused very fast. But it is an advantage to have an established world, and a practiced voice for the lead character. The big thing, the thing I most wanted to get right, was for the second round to have an emotional wallop like the debut.

That’s tough to do, because you’ve shown some of your cards already. If the main character had a huge life-changing event, then that would have been at least referenced in the first book, assuming you were playing fair. So I went back to things mentioned in PAST CRIMES but not fully explored. In this case, that meant more about Van’s time serving overseas, and the psychological impact of combat.

The PTSD element is emotionally resonant – how do you speak to that within a thriller?

Van has spent his entire adult life in the military, most of it in the Army Rangers. He has had multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s been wounded at least twice, and his body and face bear the scars of that. So does his mind. Van wrestled with PTSD in the past and largely conquered it, but stress is a snaky, evil thing, and symptoms can re-emerge.

I didn’t want that to be a casual thing, or something that I trotted out simply as Van’s version of kryptonite. For one, Van’s not a superhero. He’s a scrapper. For another, that would be insulting to veterans who struggle with the real thing. I did a lot of homework, reading and interviews, for HARD COLD WINTER, with the goal of getting it right. And for Van, the revival of old nightmares is a motivating factor. He empathizes with the victims. And maybe his subconscious is telling Van that there’s something wrong with the official story.

Seattle is almost (is in fact) a character in its own right. You know it well?

I used to know it very well, having grown up and spent my whole life in the area. I’ve lived in California for about a decade now, and now I have to work at keeping up with changes in Seattle. They seem to happen overnight. In fact, the rapidity of the social and economic upheavals was part of what spurred me to write about the city. During visits home, I would see new buildings, and even radically overhauled neighborhoods. That’s good in some ways, very tough in others. Seattle is becoming so expensive that locals, like Van, can’t always afford to live there, at least not how they might have settled in and raised families a generation ago. Being on the outside looking in, I see my hometown with different eyes now.

Can you tell us a little about what is next for you?

I’m hard at work on Book Three in the series, and have some ideas for a fourth adventure for Van as well. A standalone novel might be in my future. And I’ll go to the Edgar Awards for the first time at the end of April. No matter what the result, I feel like I’ve won already, so there will be some serious celebrating.

Thank you so much!

Thank you! It’s always great to talk to you!

Hard Cold Winter by Glen Erik Hamilton is out now (Faber & Faber, £12.99)

About the book:

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When an old crony of Van Shaw’s late grandfather calls in a favor, he embarks on a journey deep into the remote forest of the Olympic Mountains in search of a missing girl tied to his own criminal past.

Discovering a brutal murder scene, Van finds himself caught between a billionaire businessman on the one side and vicious gangsters on the other.

In an attempt to survive Van will have to face some of the toughest questions of his life, not least over his relationship with his iron willed girlfriend, Luce. But with the clock ticking, a desperate Van may just need every ally he can get, especially as someone prepares to unleash a firestorm on Seattle that could burn them all to ashes.

This is the second Van Shaw novel – I love these, intelligent and atmospheric thrillers with enticing plots and some great characters, having been a fan of Past Crimes I was very pleased to see Van Shaw returning.

Hard Cold Winter is a fast paced, addictive read that leans towards some dark themes and has the benefit of being entirely engaging throughout – it has a gorgeous past/present vibe of the type that I love and a brilliant sense of place when it comes to Seattle so you get a real feel for everything going on.

Once again Glen Erik Hamilton connects his main protagonist to the ongoing events with a personal touch – in this case a girl from his past – Van is intriguing, flawed and kind of gets thrown into things rather than actively seeking them out which gives the books a deeper sense of reality.

The fact that our hero has a criminal background as well as being an ex army ranger really keeps things fascinating – in this case he is also struggling with PTSD whilst chasing after some very dangerous people. It is exciting (and emotive) and cleverly constructed to keep you turning those pages well into the night.

Overall another brilliant read from this author. Bring on book 3!

Highly Recommended.

Find out more here.

Follow the author on Twitter here

You can purchase “Hard Cold Winter” by clickety clicking right HERE

Also Available:

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

All Through the Night – M P Wright. Blog Tour review.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Black and White Publishing. *April 14th Paperback*

Source: Review copy

“It’s quite simple Mr Ellington. When you find Fowler, just ask where we can find the truth.”

With these words, private detective JT Ellington embarks on a seemingly simple case of tracking down a local GP with a dubious reputation and retrieving a set of stolen documents from him.

For Ellington, however, things are rarely straightforward. Dr Fowler is hiding a terrible secret and when he is gunned down outside a Bristol pub, his dying words send JT in pursuit of a truth more disturbing and deadly than he could possibly have imagined.

I was a huge fan of Heartman, the first in this series, can’t say that has gone away particularly after banging through “All Through the Night” in record time – I just love this authors writing, atmospheric and totally absorbing – I am especially fond of the setting both time and place that comes across so beautifully in the narrative and takes you right there.

JT Ellington as a character is really fantastic – in this instalment he takes on something not realising where it will lead, responsibility he may not be ready for and some dark and dangerous paths ahead. In his second novel M P Wright has increased the page turning factor by about 100, incredibly addictive and twisty enough for the most ardent psychological thriller fan whilst keeping its authenticity and the gorgeous noir undertone.

JT lives in a different era, a time when we were not as enlightened (although perhaps on the way) – this is a theme explored here and really well too, another tick in the sense of place box -not only that but the emotive aspects are bang on, you really feel it all. We move away from Bristol for some of this, expanding the horizons – plus our favourite characters from Heartman are back along with some new ones. Really you couldn’t ask for much more.

Beautifully written, absolutely immersive and intensely delicious – loved this. I have no complaints whatsoever. And if you know me at all that should tell you how good this is.

Highly Recommended.

Follow the author on Twitter here

To purchase “All Through the Night” clickety click HERE

Also Available: Read First:

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Happy Reading Folks!

Saints Blood Sebastien De Castell – Blog tour review.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Jo Fletcher Books

Source: Review Copy

How do you kill a Saint?

Falcio, Kest, and Brasti are about to find out, because someone has figured out a way to do it and they’ve started with a friend.

The Dukes were already looking for ways out of their agreement to put Aline on the throne, but with the Saints turning up dead, rumours are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension. Now churches are looking to protect themselves by bringing back the military orders of religious soldiers, assassins, and (especially) Inquisitors – a move that could turn the country into a theocracy. The only way Falcio can put a stop to it is by finding the murderer. He has only one clue: a terrifying iron mask which makes the Saints vulnerable by driving them mad. But even if he can find the killer, he’ll still have to face him in battle.

And that may be a duel that no swordsman, no matter how skilled, can hope to win.

Man I love these books! They are just so beautifully escapist, I devour them usually in one sitting and boy was I happy to reimmerse myself into the world of Falcio and co and live an entirely different life for a while.

Swashbuckling good, the Greatcoats series from Sebastien De Castell just grows in stature with every passing novel, huge amounts of adventurous fun, witty and incisive dialogue, a set of characters to die for and layer upon layer of fantastic world building – with laugh out loud moments interspersed with dark and dastardly doings. Plus swordfights. What more could you ask for?

Sebastien De Castell manages to make these entirely character driven (Falcio especially is a highly intriguing and engaging character who the author puts through the wringer poor chap) whilst also making them chock full of action and suspense, as far as fantasy goes he is bang on the money. Saints Blood had the same emotional tug as the previous two books (and please, in this case, DO read in order or something will be lost) its hard sometimes to know whether to laugh or cry as you follow along on another rip roaring trail of mayhem,

The biggest strength lies in our central core – Falcio, Kest, Brasti – their relationship ebbs and flows, they are increasingly addictive to read about and realistically imagined even with the fantasty vibe. I love them all dearly. And jeez but the dialogue crackles, jumps off the page at you, not sure I’ve seen it done better anywhere else. Big love from me for these guys.

I make it sound entirely fun but the Greatcoats series has a deeply dark heart – the world these characters reside in is a broken one, the author explores the depths of human nature with a wry eye and an insightful clarity – you feel every moment, see every setting, a really incredible descriptive achievement that puts these right at the top of my pile when it comes to gorgeous, relatable storytelling.  Sebastien De Castell allows for escape from the real world whilst in a lot of ways shoving reality in your face and making you think about life, the universe and, well, everything. Thought provoking fantasy. **nods**

Anyway by now you’ve probably guessed that these come highly recommended from me. I can imagine any reader, no matter their reading preference, picking up this series and falling in love. As I’ve been saying a lot lately – banging! 2016 is really incredible for books and here is another one.

Join the Greatcoats!

There is a great competition going on at Jo Fletcher books HERE

Find out more about Sebastien – visit his website HERE

And follow on Twitter HERE

You can purchase Saints Blood HERE

Also Available: Read First.

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Homecoming – Tanya Bullock. Author Interview.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Blackbird Digital

Today I am very happy to welcome Tanya Bullock to the blog talking about her emotional novella Homecoming.

Necessarily this will be a rather obfuscated interview due to possible spoiler issues – I would not want to spoil the heart of “Homecoming” but could you talk a little about the inspiration without giving too much away?

With ‘Homecoming’, I was suddenly hit by a spark of inspiration as I was driving to work. The first few lines of the novella came into my head almost instantly, so I pulled over and made a memo in my mobile phone. I knew I’d hit on the perfect theme for me as a writer, as I’m passionate about giving voice to protagonists who are usually neglected by the mainstream. With my last novel, ‘That Special Someone’, I wrote about the love life of a young woman with learning difficulties, so the story of two elderly lovers seemed like a natural progression. I was also inspired to have elderly central characters as a tribute to my grandparents. My maternal grandfather was a French politician and diplomat and one of the first French Commissioners of the European Coal and Steel Community after World War II. As you can imagine, he was a pretty awe-inspiring figure! As he got older, I felt a huge sense of sadness that his many achievements seemed to disappear from his memory. I think this feeling of regret has found its way into ‘Homecoming’. Rosie, my heroine, is loosely based on my paternal grandmother. She and I were great friends and I never saw her as ‘old’. We would have very frank, open conversations about love and relationships and l learnt a lot from her. Her greatest gift to me was the knowledge that there are no barriers to human relationships. I knew her as a woman, not as an ‘elderly’ woman.

The book has many fascinating characters even given its short length – did you have a favourite to write and if so who was that and why?

I love Rosie. She’s a brave and spirited woman who has had to overcome a great deal of adversity. I liked writing about her because of all the similarities and differences between her and I. It was a challenge and at times I had to get my thinking cap on (I’m 39 so writing about someone who was born before WWII required a certain amount of research and careful consideration). However, some of Rosie’s feelings and opinions are also mine and it’s always a lot of fun to give voice to your thoughts through a feisty mouthpiece!

Rosie and Tom certainly do have a battle on their hands – we like to think that true love conquers all, a strong theme in the narrative, but how about you? Romantic or pragmatist?

Good question. Can I sit on the fence and say both? I’m a very practical person and a realist in many ways. I don’t think that love conquers all, unfortunately – there’s too much sadness in the world for that to be the case. But I’m also an optimist. I believe in love and dreams and in the healing power of both.

Can you tell us anything about what is next for you in the writing stakes?

Yes, I’m writing a detective novel. It’s very character driven and the protagonists are rather eccentric. I’m not sure if I can pull it off yet, but time will tell.

Thanks so much!

Thanks so much to you too

About the book:

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Rosie and Tom belong together.
For too long, war and its devastating aftermath have kept them apart.
Now that Tom has finally returned home, Rosie hopes that they will be able to put the past behind them.
But when a mysterious sequence of events unfolds, their love is put to the test once more.
With a shocking secret hanging heavily over their relationship…
With circumstances conspiring against them at every turn…
Rosie and Tom find themselves caught up in the biggest battle of their lives.
Will their demons ultimately consume them?
Or will love conquer all in the end?

Homecoming is short but intense – a novella I was persuaded to read due to its cover funnily enough, the words “Romance” usually making me run a mile. Not my preferred reading. But Homecoming inspires and is not your usual love story…

Rosie and Tom have a huge battle on their hands – the heart of that battle is emotional and thought provoking – Tanya Bullock takes the idea of “love conquers all” and turns it on its head, you will root for this pair all the way. Some fascinating characters and a central theme that is current and emotive make this a fast, addictive read as you wait to see if Rosie and Tom can overcome all barriers and be happy.

I can’t say too much without spoiling it, but Homecoming is both an inspiring and often sad story but with a hopeful vibe running through the narrative. Ultimately whilst not necessarily a feel good romance it is a realistic one, unconventional and making the point that love comes in many forms and at many different levels, not all hearts flowers and fluffy kittens. But always incredible and important none the less.

Recommended if you like a read that will give you pause for thought.

You can follow Tanya on Twitter here

To purchase “Homecoming” clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Tall Oaks – Chris Whitaker. Stole my weekend.

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Publication Date: Available now (e-book) September (Paperback) from Twenty7

Source: Purchased Copy

Everyone has a secret in Tall Oaks . . .

When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town
Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect..
Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures.
Newcomer Jared, with an easy charm and a string of broken hearts in his wake.
Photographer Jerry, who’s determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all.
And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own . . .

Tall Oaks was an amazing read – talk about sucking you in and eating up a day, that is basically what this novel did to me this last weekend. Clever, atmospheric and with possibly  the most diverse and divisive set of characters found together in one book, Tall Oaks is the story of one community, its rythym and rhyme and the people that live there.

The small town vibe is brilliantly described, holding it all together is the smart and psychological mystery element – just what DID happen to 3 year old Harry – the journey Chris Whitaker takes us on to find the answers is a deeply absorbing, character driven joy to read. Rather than focus solely on the investigative track, Tall Oaks is all about people and the secrets they keep – not all of those secrets relevent to anything external, what you are doing here is watching lives unfold and somewhere in there the answers will be found.

You’ll find yourself totally engaged with every little thing going on – I mean I worried about the wedding cake, briefly considered taking up bird watching and one scene involving a Pizza Hut, a “Gangster” and a whole load of paperwork had me crying with laughter. Chris Whitaker keeps a darkly humerous tone running through a lot of the narrative, whilst never losing sight of the fact that the heart of this story involves a missing child. It is at turns emotionally distressing and then hilarious – in truth life does go on, you cannot remain in limbo forever, no matter the tragedy, this is something that is captured so well.

All the characters are intensely well drawn, the setting is pitch perfect, the dialogue crackles most especially when Manny is involved – oh Manny how I will miss you. If ever there was a perfect character in fiction Manny is it. I defy you not to fall in love. Incredible. They all are but he deserves special mention.

From the haunting and really quite scary opening salvo to the utterly unexpected and totally killer ending, the goings on in the town of Tall Oaks will grip you entirely. The rich and descriptive writing style, the sometimes slow stroll sometimes fast run towards the ultimate resolution, the sheer ability the author has to distract you from the realities will keep you reading until BAM he hits you with the truth in real knockout fashion. Pure brilliance.

Highly Recommended. In my running for book of the year.

Follow Chris on Twitter HERE

To purchase Tall Oaks clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading Folks!

 

In Her Wake Amanda Jennings – Blog Tour Review

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Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda

Source: Review copy

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

In Her Wake is what I call a “Wow” book – you know, those novels you read, that you are fully immersed in, you turn the final page and you just have to sit for a minute going, well, wow..

This is not a fast, furious psychological thriller full of cliche, Amanda Jennings has written a quite gorgeous, considered and beautifully layered tale of one woman discovering her life was not what she thought – we follow her on an extraordinarily moving and emotional journey that explores many themes including family, identity and trust. The characters will all be as real to you as the person standing next to you, the sense of time and place is evocative and highly engaging, a story which once started grips you from the very first sentence until the very last word.

It is actually quite difficult to write a review that gets across exactly how good this is – in truth there are very few books that are quite as good as this one both on the surface and underneath when you go deeper. In Her Wake gave me the kind of reading experience I live for, where the world goes away for those few hours you are in them, where you are emotionally all over the place when you have finished them, when they linger in your mind for days afterwards. These are the ones I throw at everyone and go READ THIS because THIS is what a damn  good book looks like.

I’ve always enjoyed Ms Jennings novels, loved them even, but with this book, this time, she joins the ranks of those authors that I talk about automatically when asked for an opinion on who to read – and that list is smaller than you might think.  People who know me will know who else is on that list and now you can add Amanda Jennings. In my (humble) opinion “In Her Wake” is a breakout novel, the one that took her out of “very good” and into “Incredible” – proper storytelling, proper storytelling I say, not trying to fit into some kind of market trend but being entirely its own thing. And a wonderful thing it is too.

To sum up, “In Her Wake” is  beautifully written, an emotionally stunning story that envelops you into a kind of reading madness as you follow Bella down the rabbit hole. Distinctly descriptive, gorgeous in language and psychologically chilling, this is bound to be one of the standouts of the year.

Highly Recommended

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

You can purchase In her Wake by clickety clicking HERE

Follow the Tour!

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New Release Spotlight: Spare me the Truth by C J Carver

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Publication Date: Available Now from Zaffre

Source: Review Copy

Dan Forrester, piecing his life back together after the tragic death of his son, is approached in a supermarket by a woman who tells him everything he remembers about his life – and his son – is a lie. Grace Reavey, stricken by grief, is accosted at her mother’s funeral. The threat is simple: pay the staggering sum her mother allegedly owed, or lose everything. Lucy Davies has been forced from the Met by her own maverick behaviour. Desperate to prove herself in her new rural post, she’s on the hunt for a killer – but this is no small town criminal. Plunged into a conspiracy that will test each of them to their limits, these three strangers are brought together in their hunt for the truth, whatever it costs. And as their respective investigations become further and further entwined, it becomes clear that at the centre of this tangled web is a threat more explosive than any of them could have imagined.

Spare Me the Truth is a fast and addictive thriller, an intelligently woven plot with multiple layers all coming together in bang on fashion right at the end. Just what I like. Beautifully written to be entirely engaging (and exciting) throughout with pitch perfect characters, a healthy dose of reality in amongst the fictional shenanigans and overall a stonking good read all round.

Spooks and spies, always a good time – I was genuinely absorbed by the huge issues facing Dan as he realised everyone around him was lying and that his gaps in memory had not been filled with truth by those closest to him. In a wonderful mix up of family drama and underground political plot C J Carver builds the tension using a group dynamic that is highly intriguing, throwing different people from different backgrounds into the same boiling pot and then letting them simmer.

Loved Lucy – struggling with her own personality and Grace, like Dan, realising her life has been full of lies. The story has some wonderful twists and turns, also adding some twisted murders, a half serial killer vibe that causes a shiver – although in Spare Me The Truth nothing is as it seems. I always have a great time with a book when I have no flaming clue what is going on, just that I MUST know so therefore I’m desperate to pick it up again. It helps when the writing is full of depth and beautifully descriptive as it is here, when it has characters you can root for and relate to, the emotional connection between reader and story is achieved in clever fashion.

Overall loved it. More like this one would be good. Please. And bring Dan back. You know you want to.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here

You can purchase Spare Me The Truth by clickety clicking HERE

Happy Reading Folks!

New Release: Fellside M R Carey – Author Interview.

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Fellside, One of my favourite  books of the year so far comes out today, and I was very happy to get to ask the annoyingly talented Mr Carey a couple of questions or so about it . Fellside comes highly recommended from me and you can see my original review HERE

 

I am incredibly fascinated to find out – what was the creative spark that lit the flame that then became Fellside – a novel of many layers.

I think there were a lot of things that came together. I’m fascinated by enclosed environments in which people are both forced into narrow roles and forced to interact with each other. The army base in The Girl With All the Gifts was very much that kind of space, and obviously Fellside Prison is one too.

The prison system was on my mind for other reasons too. There have been so many stories recently here in the UK about the crisis that the prison service is facing, with prisoner numbers almost doubling in the last twenty-five years and a massive cut in staffing. The tragic consequences are playing out in real time in front of us in prisoner suicides, deaths from drug overdose and a massive increase in mental illness. I mean, obviously a lot of people who go to jail are already mentally ill. But now we’re seeing people actually having mental health problems as a direct result of incarceration – of being literally shut in a single room for twenty-three hours a day, not because they’re disruptive but because there are no staff to oversee them. This is a massive failure of governance and people need to be aware of it. Decision-makers in government need to be smacked around the head with it.

And then the other strand is addiction. I’ve known a lot of people who have either been destroyed by addiction or who have fought very bravely against it and beaten it. It’s an area I’ve wanted to visit in a story for a very long time, while at the same time being kind of afraid to. It felt like it was time to go there.

Could you talk a little about Jess and the evolution of that character? Her inner turmoil is pretty intense. And the cast in general – how did you focus the group dynamic.

Jess was a real challenge to write. Addicts often live very chaotic lives (not that I’m in a position to throw stones). They also live lives that are built around the regular surrender to their craving, whatever it might be. From the outside that can be very unattractive, and you don’t always see the struggle. The tragic dimension. In Jess’s case it’s even harder to feel any sympathy because a lot of the things she does have awful consequences for other people besides herself. But I very much wanted to get past that point and make the reader see how she got to be where she is and how hard she’s fighting against it. That was the goal.

Of course to some extent the way the novel does that is through progressive reveals that are hard to talk about without giving spoilers. But partly too it’s about manipulating point of view. As in The Girl With All the Gifts the novel shifts about a lot, letting us see things from the perspective of different characters. So we’re allowed to build up a picture of Jess in jigsaw pieces, and I think – I hope – that the final picture is different in some ways from the picture on the box, as it were. There are surprises.

And as in many stories, we judge her partly by comparing her with her enemies, the characters in the story who stand against her. Grace and Devlin are flawed in different ways than Jess and they’re frightening in different ways too. If Fellside is an ecosystem, they’re the top carnivores and Jess is – to begin with – just krill.

There’s a very large cast. I wanted to give a sense of the intense relationships that form in prisons, where you’re cast adrift from all the relationships that defined you on the outside.

Fellside sits at the centre of things – descriptively it comes to life, did that come from somewhere you have visited?

Indirectly, yes. I worked as a legal clerk intermittently for several years in my early twenties, and I did a lot of prison visits as part of my job. But those were HM prisons, because private prisons weren’t even a thing back then. And all the research I was able to do for the book similarly related to HM prisons. I wasn’t able to get into a private prison, although I did talk to some former inmates. So I made Fellside up as a sort of composite based on what I’d seen, what I’d heard and what I’d read.

The thing about private prisons is that they’re run on a cost centre basis. Prisoners are units of income, but everything you do to provide for them – educational services, exercise, counselling, whatever – is a cost. And staffing is a huge, huge cost. So you get a narrowing of options and a winnowing away of staff, which means that prisons function less and less efficiently in terms of the welfare of prisoners and their rehabilitation.

Part of the problem is that the political rhetoric is all about being tough on crime, because that plays well in terms of public opinion. The previous justice secretary, Chris Grayling, tried to ban books inside prisons, which is so stupid it defies description. There’s very little recognition of the extent to which people fall into the prison system through poverty, mental illness, addiction – through having chaotic lives rather than through being evil. And once you’re in it’s very, very hard to break the cycle and get your life back to any kind of normalcy.

Looking back a moment to The Girl with all the Gifts, which managed by way of bookish gossip to become a bit of a phenomenon (rightly so given its sheer imaginative genius and emotional core) – was there a certain trepidation in what you might do next? A tough act to follow…

There was a lot of trepidation and a lot of scrutiny. Or at least the sense of a lot of scrutiny. GIRL exceeded everyone’s expectations, I think, and it changed a lot of things in my life. I had a lot of intense conversations with my editors both in the UK and in America as to what I might do next. We talked very tentatively about the possibility of a sequel to GIRL, but given how the book ends I felt – and everyone else agreed – that a sequel would have to be a very strange animal indeed. It would be in a totally different genre to the original, for one thing.

I came up with a number of pitches, but Fellside was the one that I was the most invested in and it was the one that stuck. It’s nice when it works out like that. Sometimes when I was writing comics I’d send in a pitch for something I desperately wanted to write and a couple of half-hearted makeweights I’d cobbled together on the back of an envelope – and then the response would come back that the publisher wanted to commission one of the makeweights! Fortunately that didn’t happen here.

But yeah, there’s still the question of how Fellside will be received. A lot of the people who read it will be picking it up because they read and enjoyed GIRL, and obviously it’s very different from GIRL. I’ll have to wait and see…

In the spirit of Fellside, if you could see inside the dreams of any one person, who would you pick and why?

That’s a tough one. Donald Trump, maybe. You’d be bound to have a wild ride, and it would be cheaper than drugs.

You caused this reader a lot of book trauma with both of these novels (in the very best way possible of course) – are you sorry for my sleepless nights? Or secretly doing an evil little laugh and rubbing your hands together…

I am both ashamed and kind of proud. You write to have an effect on people. A good effect, obviously, but also a powerful one. Chuck Palahniuk used to choose his short story Guts when he was asked to do a public reading because it invariably got very intense reactions, including (but not limited to) people throwing up, crying or fainting. He said he felt short-changed if he didn’t get at least a few casualties. I was a little scandalised when I read that, but I also knew where he was coming from. You want your stories to touch people, and to stay in their minds. It’s a tiny, tiny piece of immortality.

Finally are you able to give any hints as to what might be next for you?

I’m finishing work on a new novel, tentatively titled Bedlam Bridge. I’m meant to be delivering that to Orbit in April, and I’m still on course to make that deadline. Without saying too much, it’s quite similar in genre and theme to The Girl With All the Gifts but with a different spin and a different setting.

I’m also working on Highest House, a series of graphic novels with Peter Gross for French publisher Editions Glenat.

And apart from that, what I’m mainly doing is screenwriting. It feels weird and amazing to say that. The screenplay I wrote for the movie version of The Girl With All the Gifts seems to have opened a lot of doors. I’m currently working on a draft for a TV pilot and treatments for a number of movies. It’s exhausting, but crazy fun – a new world for me, which I’m exploring with great pleasure.

Thank you so much!

You’re welcome, Liz. And thanks for having me on the blog!

Follow the author on Twitter here.

You can Purchase Fellside by clickety clicking HERE

About the Book:

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Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It’s not the kind of place you’d want to end up. But it’s where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.

It’s a place where even the walls whisper.

And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Wicked Game Matt Johnson. Blog Tour Review

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Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda

Source: Review Copy

2001. Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London. He’s looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans. A policeman is killed by a bomb blast, and a second is gunned down in his own driveway. Both of the murdered men were former Army colleagues from Finlay’s SAS regiment, and a series of explosive events makes it clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues and new family think he is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse in which Finlay is forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined, unidentified enemy.

Wicked Game is an incredible thriller. In fact I’m not even sure I like to call it a thriller (even though it thrills) because that often brings to mind banging action with very little depth elsewhere (nothing wrong with that, books are for all seasons) but Wicked Game is full of depth and feeling. Chock full of it. Plus thrills as well. You can’t go wrong really.

Robert Finlay is also an incredible character. Keeping the reader hooked into a story is often the job of the main protagonist and in Robert Finlay Matt Johnson has created a perfect storm. Challenged and flawed, the author shows us that which  defines him, throws us into his world and then throws all of us off a cliff. Robert lives a much quieter life until a series of events bring his past into sharp focus – suddenly he is having to remember who he was, the man he thought he had left behind and it is an engaging, emotive and yes exciting journey.

Excellent character study aside this novel is also genuinely thrilling – you know, that little feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when action is jumping off the page at you – Wicked Game has that in spades and will often get the reading adrenalin going. Taking reality and weaving fiction around it is one of the obvious strengths of this author – nothing in this book is unbelievable, an authenticity that hits hard, unsurprising in some ways considering Matt’s background. However knowing it doesnt mean you can necessarily write it and make people understand the terror and the horror and the kind of inner strength it takes to deal with such unimaginable situations – this author can and does. From first page to last.

Wicked Game builds the tension in an intelligent and emotional way, has many layers to both time, place and sense of character and is basically a top notch “thriller” that has a dark heart and an emotional soul. It is not a book that will be read and then forgotton – this one will stay with you. As such it gets the highly recommended tag from me and in my “most anticipated” stakes the follow up to Wicked Game is somewhere high up my list. Excellent, thought provoking, clever and beautifully written.

Find out more here:

Follow Matt on Twitter here:

To purchase Wicked Game clickety click HERE

Follow the Tour!

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

A Time of Torment John Connolly. The Mythology of Charlie Parker.

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A Time of Torment comes out this Thursday, you can see my review HERE but the book is as always entirely brilliant. Under the gentle chiding of the lovely Kerry at Hodder I’ve been persuaded to take a little readers journey through the Charlie Parker series, looking at various aspects and I’ve really enjoyed doing it and I hope you enjoy reading it. Today I’m talking mythology – as the week goes on some very lovely blogger friends of mine are hosting other articles so I hope you enjoy those too.

Creating a world – Building the mythology

John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series started out in original observation as fairly standard crime fiction. Anyone that has been in this world since the beginning however, knows that the “Crime fiction” tag ends up being a loose one at best, this series has a brilliantly imagined mythology full of layer and depth that builds slowly but surely with every new novel.

When we first meet Charlie in “Every Dead Thing” he is haunted by his dead wife and child – but whether this is literally or figuratively is not clear. Watching the events of that very first book pan out, as a reader you come to understand that there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. A world beneath a world, the main protagonist does not understand where he fits any more than we do. And so it begins…

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Over the course of the now 14 books, the darkness inside the outer core builds, becoming often more obscure but always more intriguing. It becomes clear that Charlie is important somehow above and beyond himself, the feeling the books give is that of a build up to an unknown crescendo – the end when it comes is bound to be explosive.

With each new case Charlie and his companions get drawn further and further into the maelstrom, the villains are villainous beyond just being killers, they come from something other – They are as drawn to Charlie as he is to them, there is something else at work here and it is endlessly fascinating. My feeling as a reader is that Charlie could be a savior for the world but could just as easily be the destroyer of it. Right there is the hook that keeps you reading, even the quieter moments within each story ripple with menace and something coming that you can’t quite see.

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Whilst every book in the series adds to the whole there are some key novels that bring the world building into sharp focus.  “Black Angel” takes us out of the comfort zone, hitting hard not just in its storyline but in what it tells us about the realities of Charlie’s world – right here is where you know for sure that he is in for a battle, one that may not be winnable. With “The Lovers” comes the understanding that all of this has its roots somewhere way back, before Charlie, before he steps into the mix.

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Whilst “The Lovers” takes us back, the more recent novels move us forward. A life changing event for Charlie and the start of some extraordinarily clever foreshadowing, an important focus is now being given to Charlie’s children. His daughters, one living, one dead are moving to the forefront, becoming far more important to the full picture and creating yet another layer to this already rich and imaginative mythology. Perhaps the destroyer or savior of worlds is to be found elsewhere. Mr Connolly is not saying just yet. But with beautiful language, incredible atmosphere and the true genius of creativity he is going to keep us hanging on every word.

As for “A Time of Torment” well. Sometimes words are not enough.