Writing Journeys – with Angela Marsons and Rachel Abbott

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Today I am delighted to host the brilliant Angela Marsons and Rachel Abbott having a really quite fascinating conversation about their writing journeys and general writerly type things – Rachels “Kill Me Again” is available now and Angela’s “Silent Screams” will be published in paperback by Bonnier and is also available now in e-book. Details of those to follow. Over to this terrifically lovely writerly pair…

 

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Angie: I’d like to thank the amazing Liz Barnsley for allowing us onto her fabulous blog to have this conversation.

Angie: Rachel, thank you so much for agreeing to answer some of my questions. I read your story at a particularly low point in my writing journey and found it incredibly inspirational. I know you faced rejection with your first book Only The Innocent but you managed to keep the faith and keep going. How did you do that? Was there someone in particular who consistently urged you to carry on?

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Rachel: To be honest, I only approached a small number of agents – no more than six, if I remember correctly. I didn’t write Only the Innocent with any intention of being published, and it was support and encouragement from family that persuaded me to try to get a publishing deal. The rejections weren’t totally negative. In fact, one agent was terrific but felt that my book wasn’t what publishers were looking for at that time. So I just forgot about it for about six months. And then I saw that people were uploading to the Kindle and I decided to have a go – which were my words precisely. If it hadn’t been for my family believing that my book was a good read, I would never have self-published.

What about you? What was your route to such amazing success, and tell me a bit about the best and the worst bits of your story to date?

Angie: I started submitting relationship based books to publishers about 25 years ago and the response was always ‘we like it, we just don’t love it’. I had always wanted to write crime but thought the plotting and planning was a challenge too far. Eventually I had to write the story that I wanted to write expecting to fall at 10,000 words. Unbelievably I did finish and called it Silent Scream. Finally I managed to secure an agent who wasn’t able to sell the book to traditional publishers. We parted ways and that was the lowest point of my writing journey. The high point for me was when the editor I’d worked with at the agency submitted Silent Scream to the digital publishers Bookouture who signed me in a four book deal. I read your amazing story at that low point and it truly inspired me to keep going. Your incredible self-publishing success really helped give me hope. Have there been any similar low points where something you have read or seen resonated deeply with you?

Rachel: Because I had never planned to be a full time writer (although can’t imagine any other life now!) I never really suffered the lows that I know so many people have gone through. If I lost my agent now, I think that would be truly terrible and I hope and pray that she can put up with me for a good while longer. My low points come when I read the first draft of one of my own books and wonder if I will ever manage to knock it into shape, and then I hear of really famous, successful authors (and it would probably be unfair to name names) whose books have been edited and rewritten ten times over before being published. I was talking to a really excellent writer the other day whose book had been acquired by a top publisher, but it had been four years from when she was taken on by her agent until they had a book that was good enough to publish. That gives me hope when I read a first draft (which I am about to do today!). Often the issue is getting the characters right and credible. In my books I like to create dilemmas for my protagonists, and readers don’t always agree with the decisions they have made. But you have created such an amazing character in Kim Stone. Where did your inspiration for her come from, because I just love her.

Angie: I don’t think your agent is going anywhere and if they do, give me a call because I’ll take the job. Like you I like my characters to have an inner story going on that draws the reader in. I think, for me, that comes from writing character driven stories first. I actually want to know everything that makes my characters tick, even the minor ones. Although that means that I get to know them so well they become major characters instead.

The voice of Kim Stone had been rattling around in my head for a few years but she sounded quite brusque and rude. I knew how she sounded before I knew her back story. I didn’t dare commit her to paper as I thought no-one would like her. Once I decided to give her a voice in Silent Scream her character began to round itself out and although she still sounded brusque and rude, the reasons for that attitude became clearer in my mind. As did the passion for justice and the tenacity that helps soften her lack of social skills. I do love writing about her and even I never know what she’s going to do next. Your books also feature the same protagonist and I wonder if your DCI Tom Douglas has ever surprised you by doing something you didn’t plan and how do you keep the character fresh?

Rachel: I never intended to write a series, and I like to think that it isn’t really a series. When I wrote Only the Innocent somebody was killed in the first chapter – so I needed a policeman. I had started my second book without the police in sight, and then readers started to want to know more about Tom Douglas, so he’s become a fixture. But I never think of my books as being about Tom. They are about (and often told through the voice of) the victims and the perpetrators of the crimes. Tom and Becky – his DI – actually only feature in less than half of the chapters.

Tom does sometimes surprise me, though. In Kill Me Again he nearly loses it with somebody, and in Stranger Child he gets very emotional. I am going to stick with Tom, but I have some ideas for other thrillers where there are no police involved at all.

What about you – are you sticking with Kim Stone, or will you be exploring other major characters?

Angie: I’m definitely sticking with Kim for now. Luckily for me she seems to have a lot to say and I enjoy revealing something new about her character or past with each book.

Many reviews have asked for the rest of her team to get bigger parts in forthcoming books which is something I’m definitely looking to do. Only last night I was reading some of the reviews for Kill me Again – which are obviously phenomenal – which made me wonder how you feel about the not so favourable ones. At first I took them all very personally and it took quite a while to develop a thicker skin and not be incredibly hurt but at first it was pretty tough. Do you have a particular strategy for dealing with it?

Rachel: It’s really hard when you get the first bad one, isn’t it? But I don’t expect everybody to like my books, any more than I would expect people to share a taste in clothes. Sometimes people don’t agree with the actions taken by my protagonist but that’s fine, because I want people to think about what they would do under the same circumstances. I suppose I am disappointed when people feel that, because they haven’t agreed with the choices made, it means the book isn’t good. But I do read the bad reviews and try to see if I can learn something from them. If the majority were bad I think I would give up and crawl into a very small hole – but while people tell both of us how much they are enjoying or novels, I think the only sensible attitude to the bad ones is to take them on the chin.

Your reviews are amazing. But when you first started writing, did you give any thought to the reviews, or did you just have an overwhelming desire to tell the stories that you wanted to tell, without worrying whether people would love them or hate them?

Angie: I love this question. When I first started writing it was simply to tell the stories that were bursting out of me. I just had to get them down on paper. I didn’t worry about reviews because the idea of being published was such a far-fetched dream. When the publication of Silent Scream began to draw closer I found myself worrying about it quite a lot. Because I am a bit too sensitive sometimes I worried that they would make me want to just disappear and never write again – and with another three books to write that would have been a problem. Once I read my first few bad reviews I was quite philosophical about it and chose to concentrate on the good ones. I think some can be constructive and others are just a bit mean. But on a more positive note, what has been the highlight of your writing journey so far – the moment you wish you could relive?

Rachel: There have been so many highlights over the last four and a half years – getting Only the Innocent to number one, selling my first million ebooks, receiving my first tweet from a reader to say how much she had enjoyed my book. But I think the very best moment came as recently as last year. Amazon had done an analysis of sales on Kindle since its launch five years previously. I had been named the number one self-published author in that period, which was brilliant. But the thing that really blew me away was being named the 14th highest rated author across all authors – beating popular writers like Jeffrey Archer and Karin Slaughter. I was totally staggered by this result, so I think that has to be the high spot. What about you?

Angie: Those are some incredible moments and I’m chuckling as my own favourites are so similar. Reaching number one with Silent Scream was totally mind-blowing. I was like a shaken bottle of pop. Signing a print deal with Twenty7 books was unbelievable. Seeing my first book in paperback format and actually holding it in my hands was a truly emotional moment but I think my favourite moment is when my publisher first responded to the submission of Silent Scream with the response ‘We don’t like it, we love it.’

Oh Rachel, I could talk to you all day but I fear Liz may have to throw us off her blog so finally, may I ask if you can give your fans (and me obviously) any clue as to what you’re working on now?

Rachel: I agree – we could chat forever because life is just so exciting for us both right now. I’m working on the next Tom Douglas book, which I’m really enjoying. And I also have an idea for a stand-alone book that has been in my head for a while. It’s a risk – I don’t know if my readers will be happy if Tom isn’t around – but it’s a story that works better without the police (although there’s a lot of bad stuff going on!). That will have to wait until Tom’s next story is finished – but I can’t wait to start. It’s been great chatting to you, and perhaps you could sign off by telling all your fans what they can expect next from you. You seem to write much more quickly than me (although I never seem to stop working!).

Angie: I think your readers will be happy with whatever you write and I’m very excited to hear more about this stand alone book. Oh, how I wish I wrote as quickly as people might think. Luckily for me I had already written a few Kim Stone books prior to being signed so I had a couple in the bank but am now writing to schedule with Kim book 5 being published around November time. I still have three more Kim books to write to fulfil under my Bookouture contract so at the moment it’s still all about Kim. Thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation with me and for answering some questions that I’ve wanted to ask you for a while.

Rachel: And thank you so much for the chat – and I can’t wait to read more of Kim Stone’s exploits!

 

About the books:

 

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Even the darkest secrets can’t stay buried forever…
Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

You can purchase Silent Scream by clickety clicking right HERE

Follow Angela on Twitter HERE

Or visit her at her website HERE

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When your life is a lie, who can you trust?

When Maggie Taylor accepts a new job in Manchester, she is sure it is the right move for her family. The children have settled well although her husband, Duncan, doesn’t appear to be so convinced.

But nothing prepares her for the shock of coming home from work one night to find that Duncan has disappeared, leaving their young children alone. His phone is dead, and she has no idea where he has gone, or why. And then she discovers she’s not the only one looking for him.

When a woman who looks just like Maggie is brutally murdered and DCI Tom Douglas is brought in to investigate, Maggie realises how little she knows about Duncan’s past. Is he the man she loves? Who is he running from?

She doesn’t have long to decide whether to trust him or betray him. Because one thing has been made clear to Maggie – another woman will die soon, and it might be her.

You can purchase Kill me Again by clickety clicking right HERE

Follow Rachel on Twitter HERE

Or visit her at her website HERE

Happy Reading!

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Valentina by S E Lynes – Blog Tour Review

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Publication Date: July 1st From Blackbird Digital

Source: Review Copy

When  Glasgow journalist  Shona McGilvery moves with her partner  Mikey  and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.

But with Mikey working offshore, the  frightening  isolation of the Aberdeenshire  countryside begins to drive her insane…

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina.

She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she?

Valentina was a surprisingly good addition to the psychological thriller genre – intriguing gorgeous writing and clever plotting, with a dark, quite emotive vibe throughout the narrative that really pulls you deep into the story.

Its not new – if you read widely in this genre then you’ll know the likely themes and character types you will meet, but there is a difference between playing it by numbers and writing a genuinely insightful, fascinating and darkly realistic story that will play on the readers mind and keep them turning those pages – S E Lynes has written the latter, it is cleverly immersive and absolutely gripping.

There is some beautiful descriptive prose in Valentina, the characters are richly drawn and believable, the unsettling feeling that the author weaves into the ongoing narrative is intelligently done, as things unfold it is fascinating and eminently readable – this is one of those novels you might well read in one sitting.

Overall it is a great read, addictive yes, unpredictable sometimes, character driven absolutely. In fact if you love psychological thrillers then Valentina ticks all the boxes then adds a few as well. Definitely recommended.

You can follow the author on Twitter HERE

To Purchase “Valentina” clickety click right HERE

Follow the Tour!

Valentina by S. E. Lynes – Blog Tour

Happy Reading!

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Security by Gina Wohlsdorf – Author interview and review.

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Today I am VERY happy to be interviewing Gina Wohlsdorf, author of “Security” about her novel – a book I really loved for its unique vibe and slasher movie sense. Details and review follow the interview.

Where did the original inspiration come from for “Security” ? It’s quite an original premise for a novel most specifically in the writing style.

I always wondered why John Carpenter’s Halloween didn’t exist in book form. I immediately thought of setting a slasher novel in a hotel, and I even drew a map. But that was just a premise. I didn’t have an approach, a voice – all things I need before I can start a book. So it sat in my idea folder for several years.

Then, in grad school, my professor assigned Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet, a French realist from the fifties. It features a first-person narrator who never once uses the pronoun ‘I’. It blew my mind. That’s where I got the idea for the Head of Security, and I was off to the races.

I think I can guess that you are a bit of a slasher movie fan. I love them especially the old school Friday 13th movies. What is it about them do you think that make them so entertaining?

You are my hero. Friday the 13th Part 7 is my go-to sick-day movie.

Genre can be so formulaic, and the narrower the niche gets within a genre, the more rules and conventions there are to follow. Slasher movies’ content is all but dictated from the very beginning, and it fascinates me to see where a filmmaker finds ways to innovate.

The Friday franchise is all over the map, from the good (1, 2) to the so-so (3, 6) to the unbelievably wretched (5), but 7’s my favorite, because it actually pauses with each character and lets us know who they are. They all have a defined (albeit flat) identity. For example, there’s the “resident writer,” who obsesses about his short story rejections and is overall sexually unappealing. Hurts my feelings every time.

Plus, let’s face it, it’s pretty amazing that the ultimate conflict involves Jason sparring with a young woman who kicks his butt eight ways to Sunday using the power of her mind.

I think horror films are a place where we can confront our mortality in relative safety, and even find moments to laugh. Jason’s just so ridiculous by Part 9. By Part 4, really. There’s something magical about looking at a guy in a hockey mask who’s wielding a machete and saying, “Man, you gotta let it go. You had it rough as a kid, I get it, but you gotta let it go.”

In the novel you use a “split screen” approach for several scenes – what effect did you hope to achieve with this? I thought it worked extraordinarily well and added into the whole “movie in a book” feel..

The credit goes to a teacher here, too. Ann Beattie mentioned off-handedly in workshop that she’d read a novel where the page split. She thought it was interesting how it put the responsibility on the reader – deciding what to read first, where their larger interest lay.

On any other night at Manderley, Brian and Tessa’s reunion would be the most interesting thing happening in the hotel. Though, even then, it would have some competition – Franklin’s duplicity, Jules and Justin’s disintegrating marriage. Death is arresting, but so are our lives. Our everyday dramas, the things we call our best friend about at the end of the day so she can tell us we’re being (fill in the blank), what we should do is (x, y, z), keep that chin up and let’s get a pedicure on Saturday.

That’s also why The Killer winds up being, oddly, the most human character in the novel. We see him snack, nap, sit on the toilet, throw a tantrum. In a way, he’s the most boring character in the novel.

Could you tell us a little about what might be next for you in the writing stakes?

I’ve got a two-book deal with Algonquin, and I’m in revisions on the second novel now. It’s very different from Security. Still a thriller, but less a narrative puzzle and more (If you can believe it) voice-heavy.

Of course, after that, there’s always zombies . . .

Tell us about you in 5 easy soundbites…

* Tea Coffee or other – Both, and kombucha.

* Desert Island book – I want the truth to be The Divine Comedy. But the truth is It by Stephen King.

* One thing you’d like to be good at but are not – Dancing. I look like a muppet on methamphetamines.

* Author who gives you writers envy – Kazuo Ishiguro. He has patience and a gift with pacing and those are my Achilles heels.

* Favourite way to spend a lazy Sunday – Reading. Getting a massage or a facial. Ooh, getting a massage and a facial and reading in-between them!

Thank you so much!

Thank you so much — glad you liked the book.

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Publication Date: 13th July from Algonquin

Source: Review copy

The terrible truth about Manderley is that someone is always watching.

Manderley Resort is a gleaming, new twenty-story hotel on the California coast. It’s about to open its doors, and the world–at least those with the means to afford it–will be welcomed into a palace of opulence and unparalleled security. But someone is determined that Manderley will never open. The staff has no idea that their every move is being watched, and over the next twelve hours they will be killed off, one by one.

Security was great fun, tense and claustrophobic, beautifully written for maximum effect and uniquely involving.

If you, like me, are a fan of the old school horror flicks, the Halloweens and Friday 13ths and similar then you will LOVE Security because really, its like one of those in a novel but with added character depth. The author stalks the reader while her characters are being stalked by a shadowy killer, shades of Christie with a dose of John Carpenter thrown in for good measure – very clever with some great set pieces and hold your breath moments.

The setting is pitch perfect, floor after floor of empty rooms – think The Overlook hotel minus the supernatural elements  – as our small and intricately drawn core character group prepare for a grand opening unaware that one by one they are dropping like flies. Gina Wohlsdorf keeps things off kilter and disturbing, not a whodunnit or a whydunnit but just simply the fact of it. A mysterious “other” figure hovers in the background and in the parts where she splits the action it is cleverly constructed and horrifically addictive.

Its always nice to find something different – thats what Security is – a different and fascinating way of telling a story, if you like your thrillers bloody but unbowed, scary but characterful then Security is for you.

Highly Recommended. Tip: Get a physical copy. For a start its a beautiful looking book and for another I don’t believe the story would work so well in e-book.

You can purchase Security HERE

Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: Lying in Wait – Liz Nugent

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Publication Date: 14th July from Penguin Ireland.

Source: Review Copy

The last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden.

Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart.

But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.

Having been a huge fan of Unravelling Oliver I really wanted to see what Liz Nugent would come up with next and that would be this – Lying in Wait. If you thought Oliver was a nightmare wait until you meet Lydia…

What I loved about this, and indeed about Unravelling Oliver, is the very different way the author approaches crime. Here there is no “whodunnit” but more a psychological character study of a group of people involved whether intentionally or otherwise, in murder. With Unravelling Oliver Liz Nugent literally did just that, unravelled the personality of a killer – here with “Lying in Wait” she does that again in some ways but this time expands that experience, in a completely intensely addictive ripple effect kind of way. Erm not sure if that covers it well but its the best I can come up with.

“My Husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.”

Thats where we start, with a killer opening and an introduction to Lydia, who you really have to read to believe. And you will believe too, she is completely utterly authentic and fascinatingly complex in her determination to protect her status, her husband and her child no matter what the cost. At various times we also hear from her son Lawrence and also Karen – sister of Annie who is determined to find out her siblings fate. These three do a dance of fateful consequences which is brilliantly plotted and extraordinarily immersive. The ending is as killer as the opening and the whole thing is really very clever, very evocative and very very dark.

I loved it. There are layers of mystery here, not in the who but in the why. There are themes of obsession and love and a lot of things inbetween. But mostly its just about people. Human beings and human nature in all its sometimes horrific glory.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more HERE

Follow the author on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Lying in Wait clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Epiphany Jones – Blog Tour Review.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda

Source: Review Copy

Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

Well. What to say about Epiphany Jones.

First of all you should be warned that Michael Grothaus threw all the rules out of the window when writing this novel. I do like a rebel, someone who is not afraid to push boundaries and just tells a story. A dark yet often laugh out loud  humerous story.  It is vivid, irrational, punchy, intense and gut wrenching. And beautiful, insane, creatively stunning and has a touch of mad good lunacy in its prose.

In other words it is utterly brilliant.

And socially relevant. Sex trafficking. Not a pretty subject, not a fictional creation but a real world thing. If you can’t cope with reality within fiction avoid this novel because the author slaps you with the reality right round the face. Using an incredibly unusual, often unlikeable, rather twisted protagonist. And Epiphany Jones. You won’t ever look at Hollywood in quite the same way again.

Epiphany Jones is just astonishingly powerful.  As a concept, in its execution, with its characters and settings and amazingly surreal feel, you won’t read another book like it. You may wonder what you are getting into when you read the first bit but go along for the ride, it is a fast, furious, funny and dangerous one. And you know, its one of those books that come along every so often that really should be read by everyone. It honestly will blow your mind. Whats left of it by the time you reach the final page…

I’m incredibly crazy about this book. In a low down, secretly shoving it at everyone, nodding sagely and pointing at it without telling them what they are about to experience kind of way. Mostly they come out of it dazed and confused and I laugh a bit conveniently forgetting that the other side of it for me was a VERY bad hair day from all the random tugging at the roots. And wow has been used as a descriptive sense of it.

It is a wow book. But not in any way you will be expecting even having read this review that isnt really a review but more a ramble.

The upshot of it is though, you might want to read Epiphany Jones.

HIGHLY recommended. It won’t be for  everyone with its dark themes and often deeply disturbing vibe but it will also make you laugh (occasionally inappropriately) and is a journey worth taking.

Find out more HERE

Follow Michael on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Epiphany Jones clickety click right HERE

See who else was on the tour!

Epiphany Jones Blog tour

Happy Reading!

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Pigeon Blood Red – Guest post from Ed Duncan.

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Today I am pleased to welcome author Ed Duncan to the blog talking about characters in his novel “Pigeon Blood Red” and Reining Rico In…

 

Reining Rico In – Ed Duncan.

I had been a practicing lawyer at a national law firm in Cleveland for about twenty years when the idea for a novel first came to me. I was attending a legal seminar in Honolulu and I was strolling the manicured grounds of the hotel after dinner. It was a beautiful evening, as most evenings are in Honolulu, based on my limited experience.

(I’ve since returned there once and have another visit planned in the Spring.)

Sandwiched between these two trips was a visit to Maui. I had sat on a bench to admire the lush setting and the moonlit sky when the kernel of an idea sprang to mind. What if a lawyer on holiday in Honolulu, or attending a seminar as I was, had a chance encounter with a mysterious woman who was running for her life from some unknown danger, and the lawyer, against great odds, managed to save her? The woman, of course, is both vulnerable and attractive, in addition to being innocent of any wrongdoing.

This is the basic idea from which Pigeon-Blood Red arose. Eventually I was convinced by someone at a writers’ conference I attended that the lawyer and the woman couldn’t be strangers because no one would go to the lengths the lawyer goes to or would expose himself to such danger for a total stranger. Maybe, maybe not. But I made the change. Now I needed a reason the woman was in danger and I needed an antagonist who was deadly but also smart enough to match wits with the lawyer and the woman, who I decided would be a college math professor.

The reason the woman was running for her life was that a pigeon-blood red ruby necklace (worth millions, but unknown to her) innocently came into her possession. The phrase “pigeon-blood red” lends an exotic air to the novel. That description was coined by Indian gem dealers centuries ago. It refers to the color of the first two drops of blood that trickle from the nostrils of a freshly killed pigeon. Rubies with that pigmentation are the rarest and most valuable in the world.

As had the idea for the novel, the name of the antagonist came to mind without any thought on my part: Rico. It just sounded right. This is its derivation in the novel: The character’s full name is Richard Sanders. Rich is short for Richard and “rico” means rich in Spanish. Rico was the nickname given to him by some Puerto Rican kids in his neighborhood.

As I thought about the character, I wanted him to be a ruthlessly efficient hitman, but I wanted him to have a code of his own, i.e., a line he wouldn’t cross despite his vocation, and I wanted him to have a dry sense of humor. So that’s the way I wrote him.

There was a problem, however. The lawyer, Paul Elliott, was always meant to be the main character (after all, he is a highly idealized version of me!), and the woman, Evelyn Rogers, was meant to be a close second. Both have interesting back stories, but the more I developed Rico’s character, the more he fought to become the central focus of the narrative. The more I tried to rein him in, the more he resisted. Although I didn’t surrender, I like to

think we fought to a draw. By that I mean that Paul and Evelyn are at least arguably on par with Rico as the driving forces in the novel. So if the novel were turned into a movie (which I’m working on through Voyage Media in Los Angeles), I think Rico, Paul, and Evelyn would all share top billing. Incidentally, Rico has a girlfriend in the novel, Jean, a lady of the evening, and their relationship is every bit as intriguing as the relationship between Paul and Evelyn. In the movie Jean would get fourth billing.

In retrospect, Rico is in many ways an amalgam of three of my favorite movie heroes. Two appeared in westerns that were based on novels of the same name: In chronological order they are Shane, starring Alan Ladd, and Hombre, starring Paul Newman. The third is Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen. What they all have in common is that all are essentially loners and all have codes of their own. Unlike Rico, though, all three are on the right side of the law.

I didn’t start out thinking I would base Rico on these mythical characters, but the fact they he has so much in common with them probably explains why he fought so hard to be the center of attention in Pigeon-Blood Red, and why I could only fight him to a draw.

About the book:

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For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.

As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

Find out more HERE

Follow Ed on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Pigeon Blood Red clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

 

 

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4 Awesome Authors. 4 GREAT books. First Monday Crime in July.

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First Monday Crime is fast becoming the place to be or to follow if you want to get your reading on (although not necesssarily good for your bank balance I always come home with a bag full of books) – fascinating panels showcasing some brilliant authors and their equally brilliant books. I was very happy (after a little bit of stalking in my book love way) to be able to get a short sharp interview with each of the amazing  writers appearing at First Monday in July – and I’m really happy to say they will all be back on the blog individually soon to talk more about their novels and other things in further features (or have already eh Mr Booth?)  But in case you fancy tootling along to London to hear them speak in person on the 4th July and perhaps pick up some new reads for your book heap (ticket information to follow) here’s a little taster from each of them.

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Anna Mazzola is the author of “The Unseeing”  (Tinder Press) A novel I have just finished and boy are you in for a treat.

“The Unseeing” is the novel we will be hearing about at First Monday – could you tell us a little about the inspiration behind it?

The Unseeing is based on the Edgware Road murder, which I first read about in the Suspicions of Mr Whicher. When I read through the Old Bailey transcript of the trial, I noticed that very little was said in defence of Sarah Gale, who was accused of helping her lover, James Greenacre, to conceal the murder of Hannah Brown. As Sarah Gale was facing the death sentence for her part in the horrific murder of another woman, I thought that was very strange. What was preventing Sarah from speaking out to defend herself? Why was her lawyer not denying the things said against her?

Can you give us a brief soundbite about what readers can expect from the story or that you hope they will take from it?

The Unseeing is about truth and deception – about the lies we tell ourselves as well as the lies we tell others. Mainly, I hope that people will find it a fascinating read, but maybe also that they will see things a little differently afterwards.

Which writers inspire you?

Ooh, lots. Margaret Atwood, Sarah Waters, Jane Harris, Patricia Highsmith, Christie, Dickens. My favourite books generally have crime at their centre but aren’t always classed as ‘crime’ novels: they’re explorations of why people end up committing terrible acts.

Tell us one fact about you that is unlikely to come up at the First Monday event.

My love of mystery stories goes a long way back. As a child, I was obsessed with the Riders at Black Pony Inn series by Christine Pullein-Thompson, and then with supersleuth Nancy Drew. I in fact made my poor friends act out the stories, playing the parts of Bess, George and Ned Nickerson. I, of course, was always Nancy.

Thanks so much Anna!

You can visit Anna at her website HERE

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Andrew Taylor is a Crime and Historical novelist whose latest novel is The Ashes of London (Harper Collins)  I’m a big fan of this author so very much looking forward to the new book and to hearing him talk about it in July.

“The Ashes of London” is your latest novel and the one we will all be hearing about at First Monday Crime on 4th July – you are known for novels with a strong evocative historical flavour – not all in the same period but varied and intriguing. Can you tell us a little about what inspires each setting?

It’s very simple – it has to be a setting that interests me, something I want to find out more about. It’s as simple as that. Researching the setting is one of the hidden benefits of writing – and reading – historical crime fiction. The only trouble is, the research is by its very nature open-ended and sometimes it’s so interesting that it’s hard to stop doing it and start writing.

Can you give us a brief soundbite about what readers can expect from the latest story?

A glimpse of London reduced to smouldering ruins, St Paul’s Cathedral as you’ve never seen it before, and a variety of corpses…

Which writers inspire you?

Among the dead (so much more tactful): for crime, Margery Allingham, Josephine Tey and Patricia Highsmith; for history, Penelope Fitzgerald, Mary Renault, Alfred Duggan. Almost all women…

Tell us one fact about you that is unlikely to come up at the First Monday event.

I once played in a band called The Pukes. You didn’t hear that from me.

Thanks Andrew!

You can visit Andrew at his website HERE

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Stephen Booth is the author of the long running Cooper and Fry series (of which I am a huge fan) – the latest, Secrets of Death ( Sphere) looks brilliant and I can’t wait to get to it.

“Secrets of Death” is the novel we will be hearing about at First Monday – this is number 16 in your long running series – does that feel mad?

Insane! I set out to write one book about Ben Cooper and Diane Fry originally. But all the publishers who were interested in it wanted two books. Since then, I’ve never known how many there were going to be in the series. People just seem to keep wanting more…

Can you give us a brief soundbite about what readers can expect from the story or that you hope they will take from it?

‘Secrets of Death’ explores the idea of ‘suicide tourism’ – suicidal individuals who choose to end their lives at a favourite location. Ben Cooper and his team are faced with a spate of suicide tourists in popular Peak District beauty spots, with no idea where the next dead body might turn up. And of course there’s always the possibility that one of those deaths might not have been suicide at all…

Which writers inspire you?

One of my greatest writing heroes was Ruth Rendell, who had a talent for subverting the genre and was always able to come up with something new and exciting. But I admire anyone who can create strong, believable characters with the potential take on a life of their own long after the author has gone. I think that’s the greatest achievement any writer can hope for.

Tell us one fact about you that is unlikely to come up at the First Monday event.

People still ask me about the dairy goats we used to breed (which we haven’t had for a few years now). But a fact which doesn’t come up very often is that I was once a director of an artificial insemination company. Of course, we employed specially trained people to do the technical stuff!

Thank you Stephen!

You can visit Stephen at his website HERE

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Last but by no means least is Beth Lewis – her debut novel The Wolf Road  (The Borough Press)you  may have already seen me raving about here but if not here’s Beth to give you the lowdown…

“The Wolf Road” is the novel we will be hearing about at First Monday – could you tell us a little about the inspiration behind it?

The Wolf Road was initially sparked by a short scene in a TV show. It was a few seconds showing a girl and her father – who was a monstrous serial killer – and the girl’s complicity in his crimes. It made me question who was the victim, did she know what she was doing, did she willingly partake? I thought that was a fascinating psychology to explore, so The Wolf Road and Elka were born.

Can you give us a brief soundbite about what readers can expect from the story or that you hope they will take from it?

I want readers to come away feeling unsettled, not because of a gory or brutal scene but by being invested in a character who has done so many awful things and then to still be rooting for her.

Which writers inspire you?

Probably my biggest inspiration is David Mitchell. He’s just so damn good and takes so many risks, it’s hard not to be inspired.

Tell us one fact about you that is unlikely to come up at the First Monday event.

When I was 21, I spent six weeks in South Africa cage diving with great white sharks. I even touched one!

Thanks Beth!

You can visit Beth at her website HERE

I’d like to thank ALL the authors for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions and hopefully you guys reading this will have found a book or two that takes your fancy (or like me all of them!)

If you would like to come along to First Monday Crime for July  HERE is the ticket link via the amazing Goldsboro.

July’s First Monday is sponsored by the equally amazing KILLER READS where you can ALWAYS find your next Killer Read…

Happy Reading Everyone!

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Cover Reveal. Double Trouble exclusive: The 2 O Clock Boy by Mark Hill.

Today I am REALLY REALLY REALLY EXCITED, erm  I’m quite pleased to part of a “double trouble” exclusive, along with my really good friend and partner in crime that awesome author and super blogger Steph Broadribb (more commonly known as Crime  Thriller Girl ) Today we have the  cover for a new novel coming soon that just HAPPENS to have been written by another really good friend of ours the uniquely funny and talented Mark Hill.

His debut thriller is called “The 2 O’Clock Boy” and the cover is icy cold gorgeous with a touch of real glass. Erm class. Both in fact. It is a stand out cover for sure. Don’t believe me? Then LOOK.

 

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Now you want to know more right? Well its your lucky day because I have the blurb right here…

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

A truth both must hide
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

Yep sounds good right? Twisty Turny thrillers are one of my favourite things and the cover just screams READ ME which we’ll all be able to do on 17th November when it is published by Sphere. I’d mark it in your diaries if I were you…

Happy Reading!

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Justin Cronin at Waterstones Piccaddilly for The City of Mirrors

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So last night I was really excited (turns out for good reason as it was entirely brilliant) to go and see Justin Cronin speak and answer questions on the finale to The Passage trilogy – The City of Mirrors. Along with my fellow uber fan (who also happens to be my daughter) Mel and a couple of friends, we all had a great time – Turns out Justin Cronin is a bit of a star, a fascinating and wittily funny guy who also just happens to be a hugely talented writer. If you want to see what I thought of the finale and indeed of the trilogy you can see me attempting to put that into words HERE.

So I’m not going to blather on I’m just going to put up some pictures and give some highlights…

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Mr Cronin started with an atmospheric and haunting reading from the novel then  he opened it up to audience questions which came thick and fast – it was all very inclusive and took on an intimate feel – more of a chat than anything else. Some fascinating facts emerged. Plus there was a lot of laughter. And at the end he signed what must have felt to him like a million copies of various versions of the trilogy and took the time to have pictures taken and have a little chat to everyone that queued. Considering he had just done an hour of talking that was pretty amazing.

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Reading from “The City of Mirrors”

Some random titbits.:

The novels are heading for television (I blanked the next 10 questions in my excitement)

On writing tips we were told “You must put some dirt on the heroes and some sun on the villains”

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Answering Questions

Zombies apparently are always dressed for work (yep)

His daughter was concerned that his books might be “boring” and told him to write a book about a “little girl who saves the world” – and hey look what happened!

Mr Cronin is apparently very domesticated and definitely not a serial killer (phew) but just sits down and writes about terrible things.

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Fully engaged with the audience

There was so much more but you kind of had to be there – one thing for sure, it was a fantastic event, Justin Cronin is hugely likeable and very grateful to his readers which came across in his absolute willingness to engage and entertain. I may be a little in love (again. Ok I’m fickle)

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It was a packed house

I should say a huge thanks to Orion, Waterstones Piccadilly and of COURSE the man of the moment Justin Cronin for such a great evening. And for bringing us The Passage Trilogy – a truly remarkable writing achievement. Some moments will stay with you…

Special thanks to Angela who has accepted my random shrieky emails about these novels with good grace and a metaphorical pat on the head. She is a star.

And there we were….

Here are my companions for the evening ready to get their books signed.

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Here is Orion’s Angela keeping an eye on proceedings and doing a stellar job! (Also taking what must have felt to her like a million pictures on behalf of attendee’s)

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Then the moment (Sorry Kelly I know you were pointing at me NOT to take your picture but I ignored you) that the guys got their books signed.

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Then there was a real moment for me (one of those I’ll never forget)

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Then sadly it was home time. But we had a fantastic evening and whatever Mr Cronin has up his sleeve for us readers next you can bet that I’ll be first in the queue!

If you have not read the trilogy yet then take a hop skip over to HERE and rectify that if you can. You really shouldn’t miss the epics. And trust me this one is Epic. With a capital E.

Happy Reading!

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A Tiding of Magpies. Guest post from Peter Sutton.

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Very happy to welcome Peter Sutton to the blog today with a guest post on writing. Thanks so much Peter!

Write whatever you like – Peter Sutton.

Writers like constraints and borders, rules and deadlines, word counts and themes. Well I do anyway. I was at an event recently where an editor was talking about an anthology he’d put together. He told the audience that he’d given the writers the loosest of briefs and for some this was liberating, for others, terrifying. I fall more in the second category than the first I think. My first collection of stories – A Tiding of Magpies – comes out on the 28th June. The stories were written over a three year period and themed upon the counting magpies song – One for sorrow…

Each story is inspired by a particular line. I never set out to write a themed collection. I was writing stories to prompts, either online or for anthologies . I wrote a story for Visual Verse called Waymarker which was inspired by a picture. In it a serial killer is named – “The seventh magpie”, I liked the image and the name and used it again in a fantasy setting – Tales for the Ferryman – for Far Horizons Magazine.

Sometime later I had to write a flash for a reading and I revisited the concept of “A secret never to be told” and wrote a story called Roadkill (published in The Speculative Book) which tells of a small boy obsessed by roadkill, and with the counting song.

It wasn’t until I wrote a third story – Thunder and Magpies – that I decided that I was writing to a theme. Again and again my mind came circling back to it. I realised that unconsciously my other work prior had also featured birds – An Unexpected Return, which won the Hodderscape dodo story competition, featured dodos of course, and my first published story – Artifice Perdu – (published in Airship Shape) featured pigeons.

And once I’d realised I had a theme I could riff off it. I could use the constraints as inspirations. I could put my stories in conversation with each other.

Where I live there are often magpies and their strange clacking song is an accompaniment to my writing. And they have snuck into my storytelling consciousness now and I wonder if they’ll ever leave.

A lot of my stories feature child protagonists, or narrators. Many are ambiguous with the possibility of the supernatural and many feature death. Maybe the playful nature of magpies, and the childhood TV show lend them a reason to feature. Maybe it’s their psychopomp nature?

As I said, birds feature in my short work (and in both the novels I have written too, just not so centrally). So is it a constraint or a freedom to write with that in mind? Not every story features birds of course, so there is freedom. But when I am given an open writing brief my mind circles back to the feathered kind. Thus , for example, when responding to a call for submissions for After Lines; for an exploration of – “the before, the after, and the un-spoken in fairytales, myths, and legends.” My mind naturally turned to a fairytale with lots of birds in it and I wrote Swan, Wild a sequel to Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen.

But is that constraint done with now that the collection is coming out? I don’t know. Maybe. I have spent most of this year working on a novel – Sick City Syndrome – which hopefully will be coming out towards the end of the year. I haven’t written may short stories so far this year. The last I wrote – Twelfth Night – did have birds in it, and psychopomps and creatively interpreted the brief I was given, to write a ghost tale. There was a constraint, a clear brief, a ghost tale taking place on a significant date, that became much looser as I wrote. But, if the brief had been – write whatever you like – would I ever have come up with that story? I doubt it.

Pete Sutton is a writer, book blogger, magazine editor and literature festival organiser. You can see more about Bristol Festival of Literature here: http://unputdownable.org and Far Horizons Magazine here: https://farhorizonsmagazine.wordpress.com/

He is a contributor to the Naked Guide to Bristol and you can read his latest published story – – The Detectives Tale – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/637833

published by The Refuge Collection (with all proceeds going to refugee charities)

You can follow him on Twitter @Suttope and read his book blog here: http://brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/ & his website here: http://petewsutton.com/

Pete’s books A Tiding of Magpies and Sick City Syndrome will be released by Kensington Gore in 2016 – for details see: http://www.kensingtongorepublishing.com/

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This ‘Deliciously Dark’ collection of stories written by Pete Sutton, tells tales themed on the counting magpies song – “One for sorrow… “

A Tiding of Magpies is an enchanting short story collection which will give you a pleasurable shiver up the spine. Whether it is waking up to unmentionable sounds in Not Alone, or taking a trip to the land of stories in Five for Silver, the surprising use of a robot butler in I, Butler or competition winners It Falls and An Unexpected Return, these thirty one tales, ranging from tiny flash fiction to long stories of several thousand words, always entertain, even when they unnerve. These darkly fantastical tales have been published in anthologies and magazines or written especially and collected here for the first time by Kensington Gore Publishing.

“Pete Sutton has a talent for the fantastic.” – Paul Cornell (Shadow Police series, This Damned Band, Doctor Who, Elementary)

“…there is a sweet and subtle music to Sutton’s stories. They take you to strange places.” – Mike Carey (Lucifer, The Unwritten, The Girl with all the Gifts, Fellside)

“As if Raymond Carver turned his hand to writing science fiction.” – David Gullen (Clarke Award Judge)