I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. Blog Tour.

I Let You GoClare Mackintosh

 

 

Today I am pleased to welcome Clare Mackintosh, author of the brilliant “I Let You Go”  to the blog telling us about writing a first draft…

Writing the first draft

Most discussions within the writing community about first drafts seems to divide authors into two categories: ‘plotters’ and ‘pantsers’. The first term is self-explanatory: writers who plot out their stories in advance, often knowing exactly what will happen in each chapter, scene, even paragraph. The second category refers to those writers who fly by the seats of their pants, letting the words tumble out with little more than a vague idea of what the end result is and how they plan to get there.

When I wrote I Let You Go I was a plotter. Spread sheets and complex tables told me exactly what happened when, with special colours for ‘reveals’, ‘plot twists’, and ‘secrets’. Writing that way meant I never suffered from writer’s block because there was never a blank page to fear: I knew exactly what I had to write every day. When it was finished, I had a book.

But it wasn’t the right book. My obsessive plan had been so rigid that it hadn’t allowed my characters to make their own choices. The result was a plot-driven story that didn’t ring true with the individuals who inhabited it. ‘When Patrick finds out about Jenna’s past,’ my editor said, ‘do you think that’s how he would react?’ I thought for a moment; picturing him in my head, remembering where he’d grown up, thinking about his relationship with his parents, with his previous girlfriends. ‘No,’ I concluded, with a small sigh. ‘He really wouldn’t.’ I had to go back to basics, working through the story as my characters saw it, not in the way I saw it. At each crossroads I let them make the choices that felt right for them, and coped with the plot fall-out as it happened. The end result was a much more authentic story than that first draft.

As a result of this experience I have moved away from being a ‘pure’ plotter. I could never be a ‘pantser’ – far too terrifying – but I have adopted a hybrid approach that seems to be working much better for me. When I started working on book two I developed the backbone of the story and shaped it just enough to know what major events were going to happen, but I didn’t spend time sketching out the entire anatomy before I started writing. As I wrote the story evolved, and I didn’t think too closely about whether that chapter was too long, or that scene needed to be in a different place.

I also stopped editing as I went: endlessly going back over what I’d written the previous day, changing a comma for a semi-colon and then changing it back again on the next

read. Going through the editing process with I Let You Go made me realise just how many changes I would make to a book before it hit the shelves: what was the point in fiddling with sections of prose I might not even keep? If I couldn’t think of exactly what I wanted to say I simply wrote notes in capitals and carried on going, avoiding getting lost in internet searches, or trawling through the manuscript for someone’s last name.

When I wrote the first draft of I Let You Go I was trying to make it perfect, without realising that until the structure is right, perfection is impossible. Now I write very differently, and my first drafts are about getting the story down in as complete a way as possible, ready to be shaken up and put back down again. Only when that structure is right, will I start fiddling with commas…

 

Review

I Let You Go

 

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world is shattered. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape her past, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of the cruel November night that changed her life for ever.

First of all I have no problem saying that this is the best psychological thriller I have read this year, no prevarication. For sheer addictive reading and utterly compelling character arcs, a very emotional storyline and some exquisite twists and turns throughout I loved this one very much.

Jenna has retreated from life after a tragic accident left her bereft – but in the small Welsh community she ends up in there is hope of a new start and a brighter future. However some things are difficult to let go of and as Jenna attempts to move forwards there are things pulling her back into her past, things she must face if she is ever to find happiness again.

This is a totally haunting read -Jenna is a brilliantly drawn character who you will feel for every step of the way. To suffer as she has is unimaginable, and putting the rest aside this is a very emotional and heart wrenching look at how unexpected tragedy can torment us and affect our very soul. The heart of the novel is right there in Jenna as she struggles with the mundane day to day and attempts to move on, her attitudes and expectations of the new people in her life are very well described and utterly authentic.

Added to that very human story is a terrific mystery element that keeps you avidly turning the pages to find out the truth of the matter – Jenna aside there is a terrific range of characters to follow along with as things become untangled and slowly but surely we are lead towards a brilliantly poignant and touching conclusion.

Overall then a truly magnificent tale and one that I have no trouble at all recommending to everyone – If you love reading you will love this. Simple.

 

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

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/claremackint0sh

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/i-let-you-go/clare-mackintosh/9780751554151

Happy Reading Folks!

The Corpse Role by Keith Nixon – Blog Tour

24959617

Publication Date : Available Now

Source: Author review copy

Not everything that gets buried stays buried… sometimes things have a nasty habit of resurfacing…

When the body of a security van driver implicated in an unsolved £1.2 million heist turns up in a shallow grave two years later it’s just the beginning for Detective Inspector Charlotte Granger.

She embarks on an investigation that takes her into dangerous territory – a world of dirty cops, dodgy private investigators, local villains and nosy journalists. Meanwhile events from Granger’s own past are threatening to come back and haunt her..

Really terrific crime fiction from Keith Nixon – I basically read it in a day, bit of a page turner, some great characters and an authentic and hard hitting storyline.

Told in two timelines, brilliantly constructed and ever engaging, there is a beautiful flow to the prose that keeps you hooked right in, some twisty turny goodness and a jaw dropping ending.

Some really excellent plotting adds extra depth to both characters and storytelling, the past element being really most addictive – this is a crime thriller with heart, a mix of police procedural and thriller with intelligent storytelling and a sometimes almost noir feel.

You’ll note I havent said too much on the tale itself. For very good reason. Go find out!

Find out more here: http://keithnixonauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corpse-Role-Keith-Nixon/dp/1508933502/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430639799&sr=1-1&keywords=the+corpse+role+keith+nixon

Happy Reading Folks!

 

The Crooked House – Blog Tour.

cover56027-mediumChristobel Kent

Very pleased to be on the tour for The Crooked House with Christobel Kent. A terrific haunting read this one – here is an extract for you followed by my review.

 

Thirteen Years Ago

When it starts again she is face down on her bed with her hands over her ears and she feels it more than hears it. A vibration through the mattress, through the flowered duvet, through the damp pillow she’s buried her face in. It comes up from below, through the house’s lower three storeys. BOOM. She feels it in her throat.

Wait, listen: one, two, three. BOOM.

Is this how it begins?

Leaning on the shelf over the desk, wooden letters spelling her name jitter against the wall. They were a present on her seventh birthday, jigsawn by Dad, E.S.M.E. The family’d just moved in, unloading their stuff outside this house they called the crooked house, she and Joe, as the sun went down over the dark marsh inland. Creek House to Crooked House, after the tilt to its roofline, its foundations unsteady in the mud, out on its own in the dusk. Mum was gigantic with the twins, a Zeppelin staggering inside with bags in each hand. We need more space now, is how they told her and Joe they were moving. It was seven years ago, seven plus seven. Now she’s fourteen, nearly. Fourteen next week.

Ah, go on, Gina had said. Just down it. Then, changing tack, You can give it me back, then.

Esme’s been back an hour. She isn’t even sure Joe saw her pass the sitting-room door, jammed back on the sofa and frowning under his headphones: since he hit sixteen he’s stopped looking anyone in the eye. The girls, a two-headed caterpillar in an old sleeping bag on the floor, wriggled back from in front of the TV, twisting to see her. Letty’s lolling head, the pirate gap between Mads’s front teeth as she grins up at her, knowing. She mouths something. Boyfriend. Esme turns her face away and stomps past.

Mum opening the kitchen door a crack, leaning back from the counter to see who it is. Frowning like she can’t place her, she gets like that a lot these days. What are you doing back? Esme doesn’t answer: she is taking the stairs three at a time, raging.

Outside the dark presses on the window, the squat power station stands on the horizon, the church out on the spit that looks no bigger than a shed from here, the village lights distant. Make all the noise you like out here, Dad’s always saying, no one can hear.

Hands over your ears and never tell.

On the bed she lies very still, willing it to go, to leave the house. Whatever it is.

Her hands were already over her ears, before it started. Why? The boom expands in her head and she can’t even remember now. All she knows is, she was standing at the window, now she’s on the bed.

She grapples with detail. She heard a car. There were voices below in the yard and, after, noises downstairs. Something scraping across the floor, a low voice muttering and she didn’t want to deal with it, with his questions; she flung herself down on the bed and the tears began to leak into the pillow. She would have put on her music but she didn’t want him to know she was back.

Now. A sound, a human sound, just barely: a wounded shout, a gasp, trying to climb to a scream that just stops, vanishes. And in the silence after it she hears breathing, heavy and ragged; up through three storeys and a closed door, it is as if the house is breathing. And Esme is off the bed, scrabbling for a place to hide.
BOOM.

On the marsh behind the house there are the remains of an old hut with a little rotted jetty. The tide is beginning to come up, gurgling in its channels, trickling across the mud that stretches inland, flooding the clumps of samphire and marsh grass and the buried timbers. Behind her the house stands crooked in the wind freshening off the estuary.

The lights of the police cars come slowly, bumping down the long track, an ambulance, the cab lit. It is three in the morning but the inky dark is already leaching to grey behind the church on the spit. One of the coldest June nights on record, and it takes them a while to find her. She doesn’t make a sound.

Review:

Source: Netgalley

Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties, no home, a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. She’s a nobody; she has no-one and that’s how she wants it. 
But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme Grace, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote and dilapidated house on the edge of a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else’s – or so she thought.

This was an extremely atmospheric haunting tale, very addictive and beautifully written. A definite page turner for sure and one that will stay with you.

Alison used to be Esme – until a terrible tragedy found her with a name change and new location, she has worked hard to leave the past behind her and she keeps it hidden from those around her. When her boyfriend Paul persuades her to acccompany him to a wedding, she is reluctantly drawn back to her childhood home and finds herself haunted by memories of that terrible time and its aftermath. But memory is a strange and wonderful thing and as she reconnects with people from back then, she realises that the truth she has believed for so long may be a false one.

Intelligently plotted to keep you right in the story, this is a psychological mystery with a really likeable and sympathetic heroine at its heart – Alison/Esme is damaged yet braver than she thinks she is and you will be right there with her as she works her way through some difficult memories and tries to untangle the web of deceit, half truths and childhood innocence. The theme of child memory versus adult memory is extremely fascinating, as Alison puts a grown up spin on her flashbacks, especially relating to her parents and siblings. It is endlessy captivating and compelling throughout.

Surrounding Alison are various eclectic and intriguing supporting characters, some of which may be friend, some foe, all eminently enthralling and elegantly drawn. The relationship between Paul and Alison is definitely gripping and as it developed over the course of the novel I was jumping between wanting Alison to tell him everything and wanting her to tell him nothing. Some more peripheral characters, such as Kay and Aunt Polly I would have liked to know more about – of the rest they are all wonderfully puzzling – little conundrums that solve themselves over the course of the reading experience.

The sense of place is magnificently captured – the small community closing ranks around its own, the estuary at times both creepy and beautiful – and of course at the heart of it the little “Crooked House” of the title – the place where Esme morphed into Alison and this story has its soul. Brilliantly achieved.

Overall then a great read – one of the ones to look out for in January, a top notch tale that makes you very eager to see what the author comes up with next and also revisit her previous novels.

Find out more here: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/k/christobel-kent/

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crooked-House-Christobel-Kent/dp/0751556998/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429729854&sr=1-1&keywords=the+crooked+house+christobel+kent

 

Follow the tour!

 

crookedhouse_BLOGPOSTER2

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Normal by Graeme Cameron – Blog Tour. Author Interview.

cover58004-medium7189182_orig

Normal by Graeme Cameron is by far one of the best books I have read this year and I was lucky enough to ask the author a few questions for this blog tour – here is what he had to tell me.

 

Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this character?

 

A radio interview with a criminal profiler, back when I was young and thought I wanted to write pulp detective novels. It set me off reading everything I could find about serial killers, and I knew for years I wanted to write about one, but I was also aware I didn’t really want to write a whodunnit or a forensic procedural or a slasher story. In the end, Normal happened entirely by accident, as a result of an exercise in writing a gruesomely gleeful first-hand account of a terrible crime in an effort at eliminating ideas that couldn’t possibly work!

 

Do you   base your characters on people you have met in real life, and did you in this case (minus the killing aspect I assume!) ?

 

It’s hard not to pick up on people’s character traits and ways of presenting themselves and store them for future use, but there’s no one character that’s directly based on a real person. Although there might be one or two names in there that didn’t get changed to protect the innocent (no, I won’t tell you which ones)!

 

How much of the plot was planned as opposed to how it changed when the character came to life?

 

I hate to say it, but the book was a quarter done before there even was a plan! The only thing that really changed from that point on was the ending, which I originally conceived as a big overblown set-piece that didn’t fit the characters or the tone of the story as a whole and therefore fell by the wayside.

 

The relationship between Erica and our unnamed protagonist is one of the highlights. Was it fun to write?

 

Their relationship is the core of the story for me, and in a way yes, it was fun to write as the dynamic between the two of them changed and things became increasingly charged. But it also proved a valuable learning experience, because beneath the literal reading of that story are a number of truths about relationships in general that I’d never examined before, and that a good number of people who read Normal are living with every day. So in that respect, I’d say it was more illuminating than fun.

 

Do you have any writing habits /superstitions?

 

My biggest and worst writing habit is stopping to check my Twitter. 

 

One book you recommend to everyone.

 

Jar Baby by Hayley Webster.

 

3 People living or dead you would like to invite to a Dinner party?

 

Burt Reynolds, Bob Monkhouse, and my dad. Just to be absolutely sure.

Thank you Graeme!

Review

cover58004-medium

Publication Date: 9th April 2015 from Mira (Harlequin UK)

Source: Netgalley

He is the man who lives on your street. The one you see in the supermarket and nod hello to. He’s also a serial killer. Killing is what he’s good at. And you’ll want him to get away with MURDER….

Right. So where to start. First of all for me, this was one of those books that grips you so utterly that you practically live in it. In fact I probably have lived in it for the last couple of days even whilst doing the usual life type things like picking up the kids from school…hang on, wait, where are my kids? I’ll be back….

Seriously though, this was a marvel of a twisted tale, so addictive that a warning sticker on the front of the book would not go amiss, most horrifically fascinating and with at least two characters I will never ever forget. And I don’t even know the name of one of them.

Told from the point of view of the killer, a man who has few if any boundaries and yet is strangely in tune with his own lack of normality, you never know his name, hardly find out anything about his background and have no clue what he looks like. Yet you will get to know him well and quite possibly hope that he gets away with murder.

When I started this story I was wondering how he had managed to evade capture for so long, wanting the police to nab him and giving due consideration to how they might do that. By halfway through I was totally committed to every evil act he was involved with and by the time I was heading towards the end I was sitting on the edge of the seat PRAYING that he would get away with all of it. Yes I’m aware that this is wrong on SO many levels but Graeme Cameron has created an anti-hero so beautifully drawn and cleverly constructed that I  simply could not help myself.

You can’t even really justify it by his choice of victims – I mean we all love Dexter because he may be a serial killer but the people he kills are hardly worth the effort it takes to feel sorry for them. Mr Cameron’s serial killer is almost the anti-Dexter, his victims are innocents for the most part, certainly not deserving of their fate. And yet…somehow through sheer force of  a personality that creeps up on you, you gloss over all that and become complicit in his life.

Then we have Erica. Who I’m not really going to talk about beyond saying that I adored her with a fiery passion that only comes once in a while, you’ll have to meet her for yourself. Added to that there are a plethora of other people crossing the path of our unnamed unknoweable everyman, all seen through his eyes they take on a life all of their own. I had a soft spot for one or two of them, would not have been sorry to see at least one served up to our killer’s appetites, but every one adds to the whole and makes it a simple yet brilliant twist on an often done genre.

I am aware that this  will probably divide opinion and not everyone will react the same way – certainly if this was on television you would more than likely see the odd “glorifying violence” attitude towards it that happened with “The Fall”. Whilst both The Fall and Dexter are useful tools to try and explain whether or not you may like this book, do not think for one moment that “Normal” is anything at all like them. It is entirely its own thing, unique and terribly intelligent whilst also being a stonking good read. For me this has immediately gone onto my list of favourite books ever, simply because of my ongoing reactions and emotions to the events within the pages. And that ending. Boy oh boy! Loved it. Start to finish.

Eminently readable, more delicious than chocolate, elegantly imagined and utterly utterly captivating –  I dare you to read this and hold the moral high ground.

Highly Recommended!

Find out more here: http://www.graeme-cameron.com/

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

Order information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/graeme+cameron/normal/11458741/

 

Normal_BlogTourBanner

 

Hidden by Emma Kavanagh – Blog Tour.

HiddenHidden Blog TourEmma Kavanagh 2014 © Matthew Jones

I’m VERY happy to be part of the blog tour for Emma Kavanagh’s “Hidden” – review to follow – a brilliant psychological thriller that will keep you hooked until the end. Firstly, Emma tells us about characters in crime…

 

Crime From The Inside Out – Characters in crime

 

When I read, what interests me is the characters on the page. I want to see them come alive before me, watch them move through their world as whole, coherent individuals. When I write, I want the same thing. Whilst I write crime, it is rarely the crimes themselves that interest me, but rather the people involved in them.

 

Hidden tells the story of events leading towards a mass shooting, and one of the narrative threads comes from the shooter himself. Because what interests me is what pushes an individual to commit such an atrocious act, to inflict so much harm onto those that surround him.

 

Often what we concentrate on is the headlines – Maniac kills eight; psychotic killer slays ten. That’s not surprising because our ability to digest information is finite and, particularly in a story in which there is a great deal of trauma, our capacity to process can be diminished. So we take what we read at its face value. The man was a monster. He was insane.

 

But behind that insanity, underneath the nightmare of what they have done, is a real person, someone who talked with friends, was held by parents, someone whose existence extends beyond the atrocity. People make decisions. Often people make shockingly bad decisions. But uniformly they have made decisions for a reason. They chose the courses they chose because in some way it made sense to them. What fascinates me is in digging beneath the skin and understanding what it was about these people that made them choose to kill.

 

Hidden

Publication Date: 23rd April from Century

Source: Netgalley

A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman—before it’s too late.

So anyway, some people may remember what a huge fan of “Falling” I was, so it was with some trepidation I started reading “Hidden”. It is the usual thing of course, will you love it as much, what if the first one was a fluke, oh what can I say if I hate it? So I count myself lucky for more than one reason that within about 5% of this novel I was hook, line and sinkered.

A lot of that had to do with the haunting and rather exciting starting point – we see an aftermath. Horrific and heart pounding, it will draw you straight into the story and that will be that.

Going back then to prior events, we start to meet some of the people involved, find out more about them and about what has led up to this awful outcome. In true Emma Kavanagh style (once more and I’ll call it trademark) the characters become the skeleton key. Beautifully drawn and intriguing, from various walks of life but all with that line between them, a story starts to unfold, connections are made and slowly but surely that day is approaching when it all comes to a head.

It is all so addictive, so elegantly constructed and once again I found myself deep deep into the emotion of it – especially with Charlie who I related to on a very basic level. She wants to do the right thing yet often ends up doing the exact opposite, I can definitely stand by that one, so for me she was my favourite. All of them are brilliant and it really gives a wonderful emotive edge especially as you know at least some of what is coming.

I was especially fascinated by the portions of the story relating to armed officers – it felt terribly authentic, unsurprising really – not only on points of procedure but also on the feelings and issues that can arise. Aden is a really excellent protagonist here, torn sometimes but with a good heart and a determination to protect.

Overall then what was I worried about? Turns out if anything this was better than Falling – certainly if you love a psychological crime thriller that is mostly character driven, you’ll love this. The ending was pitch perfect and may surprise you. Don’t miss it whatever you do. Oh and maybe put a pot of coffee on before you start….

You can follow Emma on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/EmmaLK

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/hidden/emma-kavanagh/9781780892047

You can read an extract from Chapter One here: http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/index.php/extract-hidden-emma-kavanagh/

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

Focus: Bryant and May – The Burning Man.

bryant and may

Today, to celebrate the 12th instalment in the brilliant Bryant & May series, I am very happy to welcome Christopher Fowler to the blog telling us “The Truth about Bryant and May”.

 

Christopher Fowler

The Truth About Bryant & May

Christopher Fowler

 

When the first Bryant & May book was written as a stand-alone novel for the publishers Little, Brown it was turned down. To be fair to them, they had supported an author who seemed unable to settle into any style or genre, who threw all their attempts to pigeonhole or create a fanbase. They had made some mistakes, publishing my novel ‘Calabash’ under sufferance and not really understanding it, but generally they were good publishers and nice people to work with.

Transworld immediately ‘got’ Bryant & May thanks to their editor, Simon Taylor, who saw a future in them that even I hadn’t foreseen. He suggested a sequel, not me. As the first book had originally started out as a period romp, I rewrote it to set the thing up as an origin story, and so the series was born. I planned to cap it at six books, with a story arc buried within the entirely separate plots that involved a man called Peter Jukes and a Ministry of Defence conspiracy to cover up a series of deaths. I’m not sure that my real-life author pal Peter Jukes has forgiven me yet.

The arc was based on a number of real incidents occurring at the time, involving the suicides of several Indian workers. This is from a site called Truthfall.com;

What is it about scientists working at Porton Down that make them want to commit suicide? Just recently, the body of Dr Richard Holmes, 48, was found in a field only 4 miles away, and in very similar circumstances to the now infamous “suicide” of UK weapons inspector to Iraq, Dr David Kelly back in 2003. Holmes too, was a weapons scientist working at the government’s secret chemical warfare laboratory, until he resigned a few weeks ago.

When I closed the arc of six tales in ‘The Victoria Vanishes’, we adopted a wait-and-see approach to the books, which were selling to a small group of dedicated fans but certainly not a threat to the big names in crime. WH Smith wouldn’t stock me (they still don’t – apparently they think the books are too upmarket) but specialist shops liked the series, and both Waterstones and Foyles proved loyal stockists. Most importantly, the publishers didn’t actively lose money on them, so on we went.

I started to trim down the history lessons within the books, which were getting a bit lengthy, and began enjoying myself with the subsidiary characters. The first cover had been created by a wonderful artist, Jake Rickwood, who was represented by Meiklejohn Illustration. Coincidentally, I had known Chris Meiklejohn for donkey’s years beforehand, and he could have been in a B&M novel. A darkly handsome man with one arm, he wore a sinister black glove on his false hand and personally repped his artists around ad agencies.

When we came to do a second book, Mr Rickwood announced that he was retiring – landing us with no artist to take the series on. The result was that we ended up with a disastrous attempt to recreate the first cover, which was scrapped in favour of an even more awful one which became known as the ‘Simpsons’ cover, because on it Bryant & May were bright yellow. We finally found the brilliant David Frankland, who instantly understood the semiotics required for the books; a hint of those old railway carriage posters, an Englishness, a balance of architecture and humans, a touch of darkness.

Suddenly I was up to volumes 9 and 10, and another story arc had formed in my head, this time involving the characters. I knew that Volume 12 would had to bring us full circle with a building on fire, and that with it I had to close something off. Over the books, one of the pleasures for me has been confounding readers who said ‘you can’t surely get any more out of this genre’ by proving that I could. What’s more, I found it relatively easy, compared to my stand-alone novels. Because by this time I realised I had created a weird sub-genre of my own, not as comfortable as ‘cosy’, fanciful but within the realms of possibility.

After all, the original concept had been rooted in hard fact, my scientist father having worked in just such a post-war unit. Still, I planned to end the series at Volume 12 because it was where the second arc finished, and I had an idea for new crime series. Even more excitingly, when I ran the idea for this new series past agents they nearly all hated it, which was enough to make me want to prove them wrong and make it work.

Once again my plans were rerouted, because writing ‘The Invisible Code’ provoked a sea-change in me. If you look at the books from that point you can see something has fundamentally altered; they’re more relaxed, they trust the reader, they have more confidence and lightness of touch. It really helped that my outgoing agent Mandy had intervened to remove a new character and make me set him aside for another time. She said; ‘Concentrate on what you’ve already got.’ It proved to be great advice.

Unlike my stand-alone novels, such as ‘Plastic’ and ‘Nyctophobia’, the Bryant & Mays feel as if they write themselves. I’d be lying if I denied they’re hard work to put together – they are – but I have far more confidence now. I knew that typing ‘The End’ would come as a terrible wrench on the twelfth volume, so I didn’t (you’re not allowed to look and see what I put instead unless you’ve first read it!)

Now we sail into darker waters…shortly I’ll be explaining how I’m going to deal with the situation I’ve created, and what else you can expect.

Review

23346783

Publication Date: Available Now from Transworld.

Source: Publisher Review Copy.

London is under siege. A banking scandal has filled the city with violent protests, and as the anger in the streets detonates, a young homeless man burns to death after being caught in the crossfire between rioters and the police.
But all is not as it seems; an opportunistic killer is using the chaos to exact revenge, but his intended victims are so mysteriously chosen that the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to find a way of stopping him.

Another outing for the Peculiar Crimes Unit then, featuring eclectic detective duo Bryant and May – I’ve always really enjoyed this weirdly wonderful series, I have dipped in an out of them over the years and it is always a pleasure.

This instalment throws a lot of problems into the path of our pair, most especially for Bryant, as usual the mystery they face is both strange and difficult to fathom. I’ve always been a big fan of the construction of these stories – intelligent plotting and a wonderful backdrop (London is the 3rd character here for sure) Christopher Fowler challenges and engages the reader every time, keeping you immersed into the narrative all the way.

I like that you can read any of these as standalone novels, yet the mythology of the series is still ingrained into every one. This one would be a great one to start with, it is definitely one of my favourites so far (although I need to go back and fill in the odd gap) it was beautifully done and an absolute page turner.

Plenty of twists and turns, an elegantly woven puzzle with a social edge, with “The Burning Man” Mr Fowler has shown that there is plenty of life left in this series despite, or perhaps because of, its longevity. Highly enjoyable, eminently readable and a perfect blend of crime and character driven storytelling. Highly Recommended.

Find out more here: http://www.christopherfowler.co.uk/

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

Purchase Information:

Signed Edition: https://www.goldsborobooks.com/product/bryant-may-burning-man-bryant-may-12/

Standard Edition: https://www.waterstones.com/book/bryant-and-may-the-burning-man/christopher-fowler/9780857522047

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Spotlight Latest Reads: Hollow Blood by Austin Dragon. Blog Tour.

246751837035793

Publication Date: Available Now

Source: Author Review Copy

Ichabod Crane is dead! Everyone knows it. The Horseman took him—like so many others—one dark night in 1790. All that remained of the town’s amiable schoolmaster was his hat on the side of the road, with a shattered pumpkin beside it. But soon the fearful townspeople of Sleepy Hollow realized that the terrifying Horseman, that haunted their region for ages, had also disappeared, inexplicably, after that night. They were free!  That was 10 years ago. And now a lone stranger has come to their quiet town.

I spent a very pleasant (and horrifying) Sunday afternoon reading Austin Dragon’s take on the Sleepy Hollow legend – very clever and a storming read, if you are a fan of horror then this one is definitely for you.

There is a lovely little twist of horror and mystery to be found here – Julian Crane comes to Sleepy Hollow incognito to investigate the disappearance of Ichabod. Someone does not want him asking questions however, his belief being that his Uncle was murdered, is this the case or was he truly taken by the Horseman?

This is beautifully written descriptively speaking – a pervading sense of menace creeping up on the reader as it does Julian, whose beliefs are tested to the limits as he tries to discover the truth. The historical flavour of the story is excellent, a real sense of place and time where superstition is rife and anything could happen. The supernatural elements are blended seamlessly into the plot and there is an eclectic and genuinely intriguing bunch of characters to give the whole thing some punch.

A very compelling take on an age old tale – the ending was perfect and I really hope that there will be more soon.

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

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hollow-Blood-Sleepy-Horrors-Book-ebook/dp/B00T0LYTOI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427697074&sr=1-1&keywords=hollow+blood+austin+dragon

Also Available:

The After Eden Series:

180550191850076922041645

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Austin-Dragon/e/B00C84YBGU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Touched by Joanna Briscoe. Guest post from the Author.

TouchedJoanna BriscoePhoto by Jason Alden

Today I’m happy to welcome Joanna Briscoe to the blog. Her new novel “Touched” is available now.

Rowena Crale and her family have moved from London to a cottage in a picture perfect English village. But despite their efforts, the cottage resists all attempts at renovation.Walls ooze damp, stains come through layers of wallpaper, ceilings sag, and strange voices emanate from empty rooms.And then, one by one, Rowena’s daughters go missing….

Joanna’s childhood home was the inspiration for the house in “Touched”. Here Joanna tells us why.

 

The Village of the Damned

I spent my first four years in the village of the damned. This was where the classic 1960 horror film The Village of the Damned, based on John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos, was shot. I can even see my old house in the film. This was the most picture postcard perfect village, with old red brick houses set around a Green with a duck pond, a war memorial, and fields all about. The village was so pretty, and so near the Elstree film studios, that it was often used as a location.

When I went back there for the first time in adulthood, it was almost worryingly identical to how I had remembered it, every lane, every feature of the house coming back to me, though we had left when I was four. In its prettiness, it seemed almost creepy, as though ghosts or hidden perversions haunted the perfection.

Why is beauty so powerful? Why does it delude, make people obsessed and act in odd ways when we know it’s only skin deep? This is connected to Touched in two ways – the character of the beautiful girl Jennifer, and the pretty village that hides all sorts of darkness.

What is it about children that can be so disturbing in the context of horror or the supernatural? Does the root of this lie in their seeming innocence juxtaposed with darker psyches or abilities?

I wanted to write about a child who seems very disturbing – she dresses as a shabby Victorian while her contemporaries dress in the latest fashions of the early 1960s, when the novel is set – and her behaviour is certainly odd. But actually, at some level, it is her ordinary seeming and extremely beautiful sister, Jennifer, who is, in her blankness, more disturbing.

Joanna Briscoe is the author of Mothers and Other Lovers, Skin and the highly acclaimed Sleep with Me which was published in ten countries and adapted for ITV drama by Andrew Davies.

 

She spent her very early years in ‘the village of the damned’, Letchmore Heath in Hertfordshire, the location for the celebrated 1960 film based on John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos – and the inspiration, too, for this Hammer novella.

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

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

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/touched/joanna-briscoe/9780099590835

Praise for Touched

 

‘A ghost story interwoven with crime, love and horror. It works on every level… Touched is a finely balanced creation, reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Briscoe’s prose is sensuous, poetic, light. The rhythm is delicately controlled. A strange, fascinating tale’ Financial Times

 

‘Touched is a gripping novella, a waking nightmare in the home counties that is both erotic and claustrophobic. There’s a woozy atmosphere of menace, a satirical stab at Britain’s postwar commuter-belt aspirations, and an elegant, postmodern, cine-literate twist… has something of The Turn of the Screw, certainly, but with it, the brasher influence of Ira Levin, or Anthony Shaffer, screenwriter of The Wicker Man. And Briscoe is, of course, influenced by that strange and fascinating B-movie, the Twilight Zone chiller Village of the Damned… This is a haunting and disquieting parable… Touched would make a terrific 1960s black-and-white film’ Guardian

 

‘Children go missing from a cottage that resists renovation in a wonderfully claustrophobic horror. It’s all wonderfully creepy….Touched is thoroughly eerie, an enjoyably chilling sliver of ice on a hot summer’s day’ Thriller of the Month, Observer

 

‘A brilliantly eerie story’ Martha Lane Fox, Event Magazine, Mail on Sunday

 

‘That sense of suffocation and slowly creeping madness is something that Touched — the latest novella from the Hammer horror imprint — expertly mines’ Daily Mail

 

‘A spine-chilling tale of a creepy cottage and a mother’s terror’ Daily Express

 

‘An old fashioned, scary horror story’ Sunday Mirror

 

‘Haunting novella from Joanna Briscoe… a disorientating ride’ Grazia

 

‘A ghastly gathering sense of unease never lets up… chilling tale’ Woman & Home

Happy Reading Folks!

The Boy who Granted Dreams by Luca Di Fulvio – Blog Tour.

Cover_TBWGDLuca_Di_Fulvio_C_Olivier_Favre

Today a guest post from Luca Di Fulvio – welcome Luca and thank you!

 

It’s completely natural for Italians to think of emigration as part of their DNA, as integral as art, music and sunshine. Even for those of us whose relatives did not emigrate. It’s part of our national experience (even if, now that it’s our turn to accommodate all those coming from Africa or Eastern Europe in search of a better life, we sometimes seem to forget this).

For this reason, I didn’t have too much trouble putting myself in the shoes of Cetta, the mother of the protagonist of my novel, who leaves a shady part of Calabria for New York.

Almost all of our migrants, especially at the beginning of the last century, came from the south of Italy (and consequently they shape the popular view of all Italians), having been forced by hunger and social injustice to go in search of a new world and a new life. They were poor, often illiterate, struggling even to speak Italian. The modern world they found in America, and particularly in New York, must have been totally overwhelming. It has always seemed to me that the thuggish behaviour that made us notorious was a front concealing a huge amount of fear. And I think our national tendency to seal ourselves off in tight little groups began as a kind of remedy to that, a way to share that terrible fear among the community. These people’s nostalgia for their homeland (by which they meant not Italy but the little region they came from and the incomprehensible dialect they spoke), and for the roots they had been wrenched from, were simply a balm for the deep sense of not belonging they must have felt. I remember a friend of mine telling me about her grandmother who, twenty years after moving to France, had barely mastered the basic vocabulary needed to do the shopping.

But there was another type of emigrant, the adventurers who threw themselves into the melting pot, back when that concept was still in fashion. Who grasped and believed in the extraordinary opportunities the Promised Land had to offer.

Cetta belongs to this second category. But she keeps her wits about her. She is smart enough to realise that for her there can be nothing more than the ‘salad bowl’ on which American culture would fall back years later. But she has the foresight to invest all her hopes and dreams in a different future for her son, a future in which the mythical ‘melting pot’ could become a reality. As far as Cetta is concerned, this child, who set off for America with the Italian name Natale, but at Ellis Island had it translated to Christmas by a fledgling interpreter named Fiorello LaGuardia, can and must have what she will never attain. Christmas will be American. He will integrate.

People immediately tell her that Christmas is a negro name. But Cetta asks who the negroes are: ‘Are they Americans?’ And when told there’s no denying they’re American, she happily and proudly states, ‘Then my son has a new American name.’

Cetta, who has escaped from a quasi-medieval fiefdom whose padrone molests his female subjects, has no choice at the beginning but to work as a prostitute. But there is something spurring her on to succeed, to reach her aims. Maybe she wouldn’t have had the strength to succeed for herself (even though she is an amazing woman and I think she would always have gone far), but for her son, who is her future, she finds all the determination she needs to fulfil her ambitions.

Christmas is an extraordinary peddler of dreams, a giver of hope, and not only to the people of the Lower East Side ghetto; but there’s no doubt he gets this talent from Cetta, and the way she brought him up.

I tried to paint a picture of a girl (when she arrives in New York she is only a teenager) with a gift for lightness. The cruel, terrible world she encounters seems to leave her unscathed. The mud the other down-and-outs fling at one another seems to wash right off her. Sal himself, who will become her faithful companion, is none other than a pimp. A man who, in common with so many others like him in that era, chose to take the shortcut of criminality. And yet even he, under Cetta’s influence, will display a better side to himself, a side every one of us has.

It sounds like a fairytale, I know. But I firmly believe in human nature, despite everything going on around us. I have an unshakeable faith in the human being’s capacity to choose the right path and, with the help of circumstances, to open the door to a better world.

And in this story, Cetta is the character who shows others the way. With natural ease. With lightness, as I said before. Without airs and graces.

 

When Christmas was little, he and Cetta “would sit on a bench in Battery Park, next to one another, and Christmas would read aloud to her — first sounding out each syllable with difficulty, then more and more smoothly as he went on — the adventures of White Fang. One page a day.

“This our story,” Cetta told him the day they finished the book, almost a year later. “When we come here to New York, we like White Fang, like wolves. We strong and we wild. And we meet bad people who make us more wild, savage. And they kill us if we let them, eh? But we not just wild. We strong, too. Always you remember that, Christmas. And when we meet good person, or if we have some good luck, then our strength make us like White Fang. Americans. No more wild. That what book mean.”

“I like the wolves better than the dogs,” said Christmas.

Cetta stroked his fair hair. “You a wolf, my baby. And wolf inside you make you strong, more strong, when you big. But like White Fang, you listen when you hear voice of love. If you no pay attention when you hear, then you get like all those bad boys in neighborhood, those delinquenti, they not wild wolf, they mad dogs.”

 

The Boy Who Granted Dreams by Luca Di Fulvio is published 23rd March by Bastei Entertainment, price £4.99 in eBook

About the book:

1909. Ellis Island. Arriving off one of the many transatlantic freighters are Cetta Luminita and her illegitimate baby boy Natale, fleeing the poverty and violence of their Southern Italian hometown. Having sacrificed everything, and endured every possible shame, Cetta has but one wish: that her baby should be an American, and grow up with the freedom to decide his own destiny. As they alight, US Immigration officials give Natale a new name: Christmas.

Growing up in the Lower East Side of New York with his mother, who works as a prostitute, Christmas is determined to be a success, whether a decent person or a gangster. The city is ruled by gangs from each community, Italian, Jewish and Irish, and survival is dependent on ruthlessness and strength. But Christmas has a vivid imagination, and an ability to tell stories that people want to believe…and thus is born his imaginary gang, the Diamond Dogs, which earns him respect within the ghetto. All this changes the day he saves the life of a rich Jewish girl Ruth, and despite their different backgrounds, he falls hopelessly in love with her. When circumstance tears them apart, Christmas vows that he will find her, by any means possible.

A sweeping saga of love and hate set in the Roaring Twenties, The Boy Who Granted Dreams is the story of Christmas and Ruth; the story of the dawn of radio, Broadway and Hollywood; and above all, a story about believing in the power of dreams.

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boy-Who-Granted-Dreams-ebook/dp/B00T4QS5MG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427267452&sr=1-1&keywords=the+boy+who+granted+dreams

Follow the Tour:

blog-tour-800px

Tomorrow at https://crimethrillerfella.wordpress.com/

Happy Reading Folks!

The Faerie Tree blog tour‏ with Jane Cable

9781784622220_covfairy tree

Today I am very pleased to welcome Jane Cable to the blog – celebrating her new novel “The Faerie Tree”. Here she talks about keeping Fiction real.

 

KEEPING FICTION REAL

I tried to remember the first time I’d been here and to see the tree through Izzie’s eyes. The oak stood on a rise just above the path; not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings; pieces of ribbon, daisy chains, a shell necklace, a tiny doll or two and even an old cuckoo clock.
“Why do people do this?” Izzie asked.
I winked at her. “To say thank you to the fairies.”

The first time I saw the faerie tree I wanted to hug it. And I don’t generally go around hugging trees. I may sometimes talk to pot plants, but that’s different. No; wanting to hug this tree was something deeper, more elemental. I knew it was a special place. Just how special I didn’t come to realise until I started writing the book some eight months later.

The Faerie Tree is about the tricks memory plays; the main characters, Izzie and Robin, first fall in love in 1986. They hold hands around the faerie tree and make their separate wishes for a future together but within hours tragedy strikes and they don’t meet again for twenty years. When they do, they discover that their memories of what happened before are completely different.

With all this uncertainty having credible settings for the story was vital. They have to be real; I think, because the things which happen perhaps are not. They’re puzzling, mysterious – sometimes even other worldly – and to make that work I need them to be grounded in places I actually know.

The faerie tree in the story is on the banks of the River Hamble and stands in National Trust woods near the village of Curbridge. It is just as Robin describes it in the passage above; as an added bonus you can leave letters to the faeries in the box attached to the trunk and they will leave you a reply in the plastic folder tacked to the back of the tree.

The place has a magic all of its own and although probably few visitors to the tree would realise it, the practice of decorating oaks with offerings stretches back to pre-Christian times. Perhaps it is something in a shared memory that makes people do the same thing today. If you would like a virtual walk there, visit this page of my website: http://janecable.com/the-setting/4588312199.

Because the faerie tree is central to the story I needed to use other locations nearby in Hampshire. The fact the opening scene is in Winchester is a personal doffing of my cap to the wonderful Winchester Writers’ Festival which I have attended three times and has had a huge influence on the writer I have become. But more than that Winchester is a beautiful city, the sort of place that begs to be written into any novel.

As are the places the young Robin travels through on his journey. It was such a pleasure to pick out some of the jewels in crown of the coastline west from Southampton that I actually over-wrote this part of the book in the first draft. Sometimes it is far too easy – and self-indulgent – to write paragraph upon paragraph about places you love without realising the story is going nowhere. I hope the places which survive in the final version are those which add to the story rather than detract from it.

Although most of the book is set in Hampshire, Cornwall has a significant part to play as well, in particular its surf capital, Newquay. In the summer of 2010 I spent a long weekend nearby and my sister-in-law and I booked a surfing lesson. I was hopeless, but hooked. I even went into Newquay to buy my own body board and although I didn’t realise it at the time, the shop and the town itself stayed etched in my mind. Filed away, neatly, until I had a character – and a story – who would need it.

 

9781784622220_cov

How can a memory so vivid be wrong?

I tried to remember the first time I’d been here and to see the tree through Izzie’s eyes. The oak stood on a rise just above the path; not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings – pieces of ribbon, daisy chains, a shell necklace, a tiny doll or two and even an old cuckoo clock.
“Why do people do this?” Izzie asked.
I winked at her. “To say thank you to the fairies.”

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

With strong themes of paganism, love and grief, The Faerie Tree is a novel as gripping and unputdownable as Jane Cable’s first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It is a story that will resonate with fans of romance, suspense, and folklore

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

Follow Jane on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JaneCable

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Faerie-Tree-Jane-Cable-ebook/dp/B00UTI27AY/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427182212&sr=1-1&keywords=the+faerie+tree+jane+cable

Also Available:

18342969

Follow the tour! Tomorrow at My Reading Corner.

http://myreading-corner.blogspot.co.uk/

Happy Reading Folks!