Dog Fight Michael J Malone. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Contraband

Source: Review Copy

When Kenny’s cousin, Ian, comes to the aid of a fellow ex-squaddie in a heap of trouble, he gets caught up in the vicious underground fight scene, where callous criminals prey on the vulnerable, damaged and homeless. With Ian in too deep to escape, Kenny has no option other than to infiltrate the gang for the sake of his family. Kenny is an experienced MMA fighter, as tough as they come, but has he found himself in the one fight he can never win?

Loved Dog Fight – gritty, realistic and with a sharp edge of gulp, Michael J Malone takes us and his series character Kenny into the dark underbelly of underground fighting. It is visceral and visual, you’ll feel every punch. So to speak.

Its the perfect mix of thrills and character moments, I’m a bit of a fan of Kenny – in fact any of you who like the bad boys, Dog Fight is chocka block full of them, it is a real rollercoaster of a read with some really cool descriptive prose and a hell of a lot of oomph.

Michael Malone brings a lot of emotional themes into his narrative too, its not all about the adrenalin moments and I have to give him huge points for managing to write a non annoying child character. The feeling underneath it all is cleverly portrayed, especially in relation to PTSD  – you want to growl at those evil doers who take advantage of the vulnerable, the whole story just pops off the page and drags you right in.

Dog Fight is fast, gripping, decisively authentic and a real proper page turner. Anyone wanting to just get their read on should pick up this novel and dive right in.


Find out More

Follow the author on Twitter

Purchase Dog Fight

Follow the Tour!

Happy Reading!

Sometimes I Lie – an Interview with Alice Feeney.

Very happy to welcome Alice Feeney to Liz Loves Books today answering some questions about her wonderfully tense and brilliant psychological thriller, Sometimes I Lie. I should apologise that this was supposed to be part of the blog tour but me being me I missed my spot. But maybe better late than never!

Thanks so much Alice.

Thanks so much for agreeing to answer some questions for me on the wonderful “Sometimes I Lie” I’m a huge fan of it, especially of the main character here, Amber Reynolds. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind her, what originally started the journey?

Thank you! It’s so lovely to hear that you enjoyed it!

The idea for this story literally came to me in a dream! I scribbled it all down at about 3am one morning (I do this quite often) and when I woke up the next day, it still seemed like a good idea (this happens less often). I couldn’t stop thinking about Amber and so in the end, her story just had to be written.

Sometimes she lies – books with unreliable narrators are hugely popular as are psychological thrillers generally right now – In “Sometimes I Lie” the narrator herself tells us she is unreliable right from the start. How do you then go about weaving a plot that is realistic (it is!) yet still surprising to the reader?

I’m a planner. I think about a story for a really long time before I’ll commit to writing it – my stories often spend months simmering away in the background before I begin. I have a giant corkboard at home covered in different coloured cards – each one represents a chapter and I can’t write a word until the whole thing is planned out. That plan may change during the writing, and in my experience it always does, which is absolutely fine – it’s quite fun when the story starts to write itself. There is no right or wrong way to do it though, I think it is just about finding whatever way works best for you. There are authors who can just sit and write and I think they must be far cleverer than I am. For me, starting without a plan would be like setting off on a long walk with the dog to somewhere we have never been before without a map – I’d be worried the whole time about getting lost!

Can we talk about endings for a moment without actually giving the ending away – apart from to say I thought it was spot on – was that always the ending or did it change? Did you know how it would end when you started writing it or was it hard to find the right finish given the twists and turns that led up to it?

No, that wasn’t always the ending! In earlier drafts the story ended a little bit sooner than that. It felt like something was missing and so I wrote the chapter called Later. I’m delighted that you enjoyed the ending – thank you!

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

I can tell you that the first draft of book two is written, which I’m so happy about! The next book is another dark and twisty tale and will be published by HarperCollins in the UK next year.

Finally a question I like to ask – are there any books you yourself have read recently that you would like to recommend?

I read a lot. I live in a tiny Victorian house and there are bookshelves in literally every room except the bathroom! There are so many books I would like to recommend, but the one that has stayed with me the most after reading it recently is This Must be The Place, by Maggie O’Farrell.

Thanks so much!

Thank you for the interesting questions!

About the book:

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Read my Review

Find out MORE

Follow Alice on TWITTER

To Purchase Sometimes I Lie clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

20 Questions For – Matt Wesolowski. Six Stories.

In the final part of Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski, I’m asking him my 20 Questions. Pop back tomorrow so you can read my review of the novel as part of the blog tour.

And the biggest thanks to Matt for taking part over the last few weeks with his great guest spots.

So up to now we’ve been discussing Six Stories over the course of a few posts – So lets just do this. Tell me Six things about Six Stories…

1. It was my first attempt at a crime novel.

2. The manuscript was nearly consigned to my hard drive as it was just an odd little experiment that I never thought would go anywhere.

3. I had to re-read the manuscript before I pitched it at Bloody Scotland festival as I had completely forgotten whodunnit and why!

4. I had no idea whodunnit or why as I was writing it until the end of episode 5.

5. The original title was ‘Five go mad on Scarclaw Fell’

6. One of these answers is a lie.

Favourite flavour of crisps…

Ready salted. You don’t mess about with crisps. Pitta chips if you can get them. Heavenly.

An author whose talent you envy…

Lauren Beukes. If that woman wrote the text for a bus ticket, it’d still be enthralling…

When writing Six Stories what was your main inspiration…

It was the Serial podcast, beyond anything else, the rest of the story just fell out of my brain.

Favourite type of cheese…..

I don’t eat dairy products so cheese is a no-go for me…Violife do a good smoked vegan cheese though!

Planned plotting or to hell with it lets see what happens…

I never plan anything. If I plan, it tends to kill the story dead. There’s a little graveyard of planned stories on my hard drive, all of them terrible.

3 famous people you’d like to be stuck with for a day just to see what they are really like….

Marilyn Manson – they say don’t ever meet your heroes, but Mazza’s the only one who I think wouldn’t disappoint.

Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark – the hosts of the ‘My Favourite Murder’ podcast; I think we’d have a great time chatting about true crime.

Stephen King – like Manson, King transcends the ‘don’t meet your heroes’ rule.

You are published by the amazing Karen at Orenda books. How much do we love Karen?

We adore Karen for being so much more to us than a publisher. I have never felt so supported before; so valued for what I do. She is a phenomenon.

The best thing about the road to publication….

The anticipatory, abject terror of those first reviews coming in…

The worse thing about the road to publication…

The anticipatory, abject terror of those first reviews coming in…

Awesome chef like skills or stick something in the microwave….

I actually used to be a chef and interestingly, have never owned a microwave (that’s not terribly interesting is it though really?)

One teaser sentence on what you are writing next….

Serial killer goes Wendigo…

You recently went on an Orenda road trip – how much fun was that?

It was amazing, the other Orenda authors are all lovely people and made me feel welcome and worthy in their company. It was an experience I’ll never forget, sitting on a train with some of my literary heroes.

Easter soon. Chocolate person or not a chocolate person..

I do love a bit of dark chocolate but I’m more of a savoury snack man.

What small irritating thing irritates you beyond all reason…

Oh so much, can I have a few? All are terribly inconsequential: Poor punctuality, apostrophe abuse, ‘expresso’ instead of ‘espresso’…I could go on…

Favourite day of the week (If you say Tuesday we can’t be friends. Tuesdays should die)

Saturday – it’s the day outside of school holidays that I get to spend all of with my son.

A book you recommend to everyone…

The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe…I’ve been pushing that one on everyone since I was 16!

Last thing that made you laugh stupidly…

My five year old son is the funniest person I know, he often comes out with the most hysterically funny things; the other day he turned around and said to me, apropos of nothing “Dad, I’m going to feed you to a bat!”

Most idiotic thing you have done….

Oh man, there are so many to choose from. I did a lot of idiotic things as a teenager; once sneaking into my friend’s school under the fence, wearing his spare school jumper and pretending to be a pupil. It was only when one of the hard kids threatened to batter me that I had to sneak out again and run…

How much do you hate me right now?

You’re a book blogger, I have not the capacity to hate you…

Thanks Matt!

About the Book: 

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Follow Matt on TWITTER

To purchase the paperback clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!


Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski – Charlie Armstrong.

Today part 5 of Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski, this time he tells us a little about another character in the novel – Charlie Armstrong. We are nearly at the end of this now – Part Six on Friday when Matt will be answering my 20 questions brave soul that he is, then it’s my turn on the blog tour at the weekend when I’ll review the book. But if you haven’t got your hands on it yet – go! It is truly superb.


Charlie Armstrong.

Matt Wesolowski

Charlie was seen, not only by the other teenagers, but also by the accompanying adults as the ‘alpha’ of the group. Perhaps even more than that: he was revered by the others, looked up to and followed.

Charlie meant a lot to those who knew him.

We all knew that one lad. We were never that lad, but we all had a Charlie Armstrong somewhere in our life.

You remember your Charlie, he didn’t give a shit what anyone thought of him, he had his own style which you feebly attempted to mimic, he was funny, charismatic and everyone who encountered him was in love with him. That Charlie, you remember now, right?

Charlie was always into the best music you’d never heard of, he knew how to smoke, how to inhale properly without coughing; he could spit out a ball of chewing gum at hit it on the volley dead-on. Charlie didn’t get picked on, he slouched at the back of classrooms and hung round the end of the field at lunchtimes with the bad kids. Charlie had a darkness, deep, unfathomable, wore it like a cloak, streaming out behind him.

You followed Charlie round in adoration. You wanted to be Charlie, you adopted the same way of walking, the same way of talking, dropped band-names like chip-wrappers at parties.

When Charlie talked to you, when he chose to be seen with you, you lit up, you walked a foot taller, dropped your voice and octave deeper.

You hated yourself for how much you loved him, your Charlie.

Charlie was probably the most fully-formed character I had when I began writing Six Stories. I feel like in every friendship group there’s a Charlie and I wanted to reflect that without going over the top, without making him seem perfect. I guess Charlie is an amalgamation of many different people I’ve admired when I was growing up. It did make me wonder whether these Charlies we grow up alongside are ever aware of their prominence in the minds and hearts of their peers; whether they revel in it or are simply ignorant of the adulation that surrounds them?

Not being a Charlie, I’ll never know…

About the book:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Follow Matt on TWITTER

To purchase the paperback clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!



The Wolf Road – Neil White interviews Beth Lewis.

Today to celebrate the release of Wolf Road in paperback and the recent release of From the Shadows, I’ve got the lovely (mostly) Neil White having a chat to the lovely (all the time) Beth Lewis – all about Wolf Road and other things. Thanks both!

Over to Neil then….

Sometimes, the best thing about being a writer is coming across great books written by great people that perhaps otherwise I would have missed. So it was with The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis, my favourite read of 2016 and now due out in paperback on 23rd March 2017.

The Wolf Road and I, however, almost got off to a shaky start.

It was at the Harrogate Crime Festival in July that I came across Beth for the first time. As I squinted out my Sunday hangover in the July sunshine, Beth was sitting by a table with Liz, the host of this conversation, and Liz introduced me, finishing off with, ‘And Beth has a book out. It’s really good, and it’s in the book tent over there,’ and she pointed towards the canvas bookshop erected on the lawn of the Old Swan Hotel.

What could I do? I could hardly say, ‘Thanks for the tip, Liz, but I am not interested in the slightest,’ because Beth was sitting there, drinking tea and being all lovely and friendly.

I faked some enthusiasm and comforted myself with the thought that I might be able to bag it as part of a “buy one, get one half-price” sort of deal, and I shuffled across to the book tent.

At that point, I was committed. I could possibly lie and say it had sold out, but what if they checked it out? Imagine my utter horror, as a penny-pinching northerner, when I found out it was in hardback only, double the price of all the paperbacks in there.

I was trapped. I couldn’t go back and say, ‘I was slightly interested, but not at that price,’ so I harrumphed my way to the till and made my way back to Beth and Liz and pretended I’d never enjoyed spending cash as much.

I should not have been so stingy. When I came to read the book, I enjoyed it more than any book I had read for a long time. It wasn’t just the story, which was gripping and engaging, but the way it was told. I hadn’t enjoyed a book purely for the pleasure of reading for a long time, but I did with The Wolf Road, and I can’t wait for her next


That rambling introduction brings me to Beth herself, and my first question.

Beth, before we learn about The Wolf Road, people might want to know more about you, so what’s your story?

Beth: Gosh, now I feel a touch guilty but it is very difficult to say no to Liz when she recommends books. My story, well, I grew up in a tiny hamlet in Cornwall. There was nothing but fields and moorland between our house and the sea, it was beautiful and wild and I’d spend any time I could outside. There were two WW2 watch towers on the headland so my brother and I would spend summers exploring, making dens, finding artillery shells and rusted up rifles, even found a helmet once. My mother was all about books. We had a room of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stacked two-books deep and piles of books everywhere. She would tell me stories constantly. I’d write them down and soon started making up my own. When I was eleven or twelve I knew I wanted to be a writer and I knew I wanted to be published by HarperCollins because that’s who published all my mum’s favourite authors – Raymond Fiest, Clive Barker, Tolkien. Knowing also that I didn’t want to be a penniless writer freezing and hungry in a draughty garret, I pursued a career in publishing, figuring that even if I couldn’t write the books, I could at least work with them.

I can also juggle and will happily eat my bodyweight in cake.

Neil: Eating your bodyweight in cake is a noble hobby, because the very process will produce an ever-increasing target. One should always have a hobby with new goals.

It’s interesting that you’ve worked on “the other side” of the writing world. My only experience of publishing is as a writer, so what interests me is how it feels for you to be on this side. Do you view the publishing side differently now that you’ve experienced it from the writer’s view, and is the writer’s view what you expected?

Beth: I work in a very niche area of publishing so my experience wasn’t all that relevant to publishing fiction. I knew terminology and general stages of production – proofs etc. – but the finer details were lost on me so everything has been new. I’m not sure if it helped or hindered me that my partner works in marketing at Penguin Random House. I had a lot of insider information available to me, which was in parts really useful but in other parts, kind of disheartening. For every massive bestseller there are dozens of other books published that week that don’t get much traction or attention, especially from trade reviewers given how little space Books now receive in newspapers. The process hasn’t been wholly what I expected, it’s a strange thing to have a book published, but it’s an amazing experience and I’m hugely grateful.

Neil: This pre-amble brings me, neatly, to your fantastic debut, The Wolf Road, and I do have a few things to ask you about it. First of all, however, let me ask you the mundane questions: what is it about and how did you get the idea?

Beth: The Wolf Road is about a young girl abandoned by her parents, who discovers the man who raised her is a killer so flees into the wilderness to find her real parents. It’s set in Canada, in British Columbia (BeeCee) and the Yukon after some kind of world-changing event. I got the idea from TV. I watch too much and there was a particular show I loved at the time about a girl and her father and whether she was a victim in his crimes or a perpetrator. I found that fascinating and wanted to explore the psychology of that girl and her eventual realisation of her involvement. I’ve also always loved Canada and Alaska and I am addicted to Discovery channel shows set in the Pacific Northwest, as well as survival shows so all my passions just fell into place and the story, and Elka, came to life.

Neil: The locations came across superbly-well in the book, and they gave me a real sense of place and wilderness. Also, I loved Elka’s description of the world-changing event as “the Damn Stupid”, as it summarised her character up so well.

Dealing with the location first though, it struck me when reading the book how you not only captured that wilderness so well, but also the frontier-feel, so much so that it could have been set just as easily in late-nineteenth century frontier Canada. What made you choose to set in the future, set back by this world-changing event, rather than simply in the past?

Beth: Firstly, thank you! Setting a book in a far-off area of the world is a risk in terms of authenticity so it’s been a big relief that people – even Canadians in British Columbia – have found the setting and wilderness believable. I did think about setting the book in the past, during the Alaskan gold rush of the 1890s but that time in particular has been well documented, written about by all sorts of writers for more accomplished than me, so I didn’t feel like I could bring anything new to that particular time in history. I also didn’t want to have to deal with the gender politics of the time. Lyon wouldn’t have been believable as the merciless lawkeeper, Penelope probably wouldn’t have been educated and Elka, well, she’d probably have been exactly the same. I didn’t want to write a book about women overcoming societal barriers or one examining feminism in that setting. I also didn’t want to do a lot of historical research because I’m quite lazy. I wanted the story to be about Elka’s journey and her friendship with Penelope so I decided to strip away all the politics, social expectations, world events, and start from scratch. It was freeing, not having any established rules to adhere to. I felt like the story that emerged, the relationship with Penelope, was purer for it.

Neil: That’s really interesting, and I like your honesty, as well as your logic. My mantra for research is that it should be directly in proportion to the amount of people who’ll know you’ve got it wrong, so I reckon you’d have been okay, but I prefer it the way you’ve done it, now that I understand it.

This brings me neatly to Elka, as what you do so well is the character voice. That is how it was sold to me back in Harrogate, that the voice was somewhat unique, and it is. Elka makes the whole book so engaging, but how did you settle on her voice? Is it possible to define this? Did you have to adopt her voice in your head as you wrote, or was it something you were able to do almost instinctively?

Beth: I love strong voices and accents in fiction, movies and of course, real life. As a young, unpublished writer sending out manuscripts to agents and reading all about what they were looking for, the one thing they were all after was a unique voice. Elka’s voice came so naturally to me, I could hear her inside my head for months. It took me a little time to work out how I wanted to translate that onto the page though maybe now, looking back, I would adjust it somewhat. It’s a risk to write a whole book in dialect but I’m glad I did. I ended up talking, texting, emailing, like Elka. Friends and family who read it early on were also talking in her voice, coming up with their own ‘Elka-isms’. Then when the book came out, people tweeted me in Elka’s voice. The response has just been incredible. I wish I had a clearer idea of where the voice came from. It’s kind of a mix between the American South, Appalachian, and the Yukon and probably comes from a dozen different movies and TV shows, but none of those at the same time. I think it’s what makes Elka unique.

Neil: That is very interesting, but it makes me think that you’ve created a whole new set of problems for yourself, because from other conversations we’ve had, your next book doesn’t involve Elka, and has a wholly different setting. What is it about and how did you fix on a whole new voice for it? And when can I get my mitts on it?

Beth: The next book is totally different. It’s set in the early seventies, in a small town in the American Midwest. It’s out in May 2018, I believe. It’s about four kids, best friends, who discover a body and set about trying to solve a murder but they ask too many questions and gain the attention of the town’s darker elements with nasty consequences. It’s set over three summers and is dark as hell. For me, it’s all about growing up, letting go of childhood and realising your parents, your town, your world, is not all sunshine and hazy summer days. It’s also written in the first person, from the point of view of one of the kids. It’s not dialect heavy at all, it’s quite the departure from Elka but I didn’t want to repeat myself. It’s always tempting as a writer to stick with what has worked for you in the past, but I always want to challenge myself. Each book I write has to have a point to it and has to be new, whether in structure, voice, setting, it’s got to be unique.

Neil: Thank you Beth, that sounds fantastic. It’s a long wait for me but all the best things are worth hanging around for.

To Beth, I say thank you for the chat and the best of luck with the paperback of The Wolf Road.

To everyone else, I say buy the damn book! You won’t regret it. It’s out in paperback on 23rd March 2017, and is already on your Kindle.


About the Books: 


Everything Elka knows of the world she learned from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her under his wing when she was just seven years old.

But when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

Read My Review

Follow Beth On Twitter

Purchase The Wolf Road

He hides in the shadows, watching, waiting, until the time is right . . .

Mary Kendricks, a smart, pretty, twenty-four-year-old teacher, has been brutally murdered and Robert Carter is accused of killing her.

When defence lawyer, Dan Grant inherits Carter’s case only weeks before the trial starts, everyone expects him just to babysit it, but Dan’s not that kind of lawyer. He’ll follow the evidence – wherever it takes him.

But as Dan and his investigator Jayne Brett look into the case, they discover that there is more to it than meets the eye. In order to do their jobs they need to push the limits of the system, even if it means putting themselves in danger.

Together they will get to the truth – whatever the cost . . .

Read My Review

Follow Neil on Twitter

Purchase From the Shadows

Happy Reading!

20 Questions For…..C L Taylor.

Today I’m very happy to welcome Cally Taylor to Liz  Loves Books – she was brave enough to do my 20 questions a while ago which I’ve saved for now and a lot of fun it was too. The Escape, her latest psychological thriller comes out tomorrow – don’t miss it! Details follow after the interview.

So we’ve just had a brilliant cover reveal for your next book – now I KNOW how you love to twist the tale on ye olde psychological thrillers, tell us a little about this one…

THE ESCAPE is about a woman called Jo, an agoraphobic and part-time student support officer, who lives in Bristol with her husband Max and their two year old daughter Elise. One day after work a stranger asks her for a lift. Against her better judgement Jo says yes. It’s the worst decision she could have made. Jo’s life swiftly unravels as the stranger becomes more and more involved in her life. Jo believes that her daughter Elise is in danger but when the police, social services and even Max accuse her of lying the only way she can keep her daughter safe is to RUN.

Favourite cheese (we’ll get the cheese question out early)

I love a bit of Stilton. Ideally with bacon and brie on a panini. Or in a pasty with steak.

Are you a Christmas person or bah humbug?

Definitely a Christmas person. I love the build-up, the films, the sparkly decorations, the food, the look on my son’s face on Christmas morning, seeing family, playing stupid games. I could go on and on…

A movie you watch when you just can’t cope with reality..

I don’t have a favourite that I watch and re-watch but I do love a sci-fi film when I can’t cope with reality. Gattica is probably the one I’ve watched the most times.

Desert Island – 5 other writer types you’d like to hang out with if you were stuck for a while and why…

Oh this is too tough as I know and love so many brilliant writers. There are five writers that I always go on writing retreats with as they’re great company. They also happen to be my best friends so I’m going to go with them – Rowan Coleman, Julie Cohen, Kate Harrison, Miranda Dickinson and Tamsyn Murray. Brilliantly funny, highly entertaining, good listeners and they can neck prosecco and gin like no one else I know!

Drink too much wine or everything in moderation?

Ha! (see answer to my last question). I definitely drink too much wine.

Do you have a favourite character that you’ve written?

I am itching to write about the main character in my fifth psychological thriller because she’s so different from anyone else I’ve written before. That said I hugely enjoyed writing Max in THE ESCAPE and Drew, the sixteen year old protagonist in my YA debut THE TREATMENT. Oh, oh, and Isaac in THE LIE was a lot of fun. I can’t chose just one, the others will get upset.

How about a favourite character that someone else has written?

Now this is easier! Ruth, from The Lives and Loves of a She Devil by Fay Weldon has stayed with me for over twenty years. Also, Olive Martin from The Sculptress by Minette Walters is a big favourite. I do love a weird, strong, larger than life female character. Actually those two women are part of the inspiration behind my next book but I can’t say more than that…

If you are invited to a dinner party what would you hate to see on the menu? (And if it was on the menu would you eat it anyway to be polite or hide it in a plant pot or something)

Octopus tentacles. I shudder at the thought. It’s the suckers. I would definitely find a way to hide them.

One thing that irritates you beyond all reason.

People who walk slowly and seem to sway to whichever side I’m trying to overtake them on!

Last book you read that made you cry.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. What I thought was a book about a grumpy old man turned out to be profoundly moving.

When writing are you totally organised or flapping around in chaos?

I’m pretty organised. I do a lot of thinking and plotting before I write a word but there are definitely moments of flapping and/or smacking the desk with my forehead while I write.

One book that you would pretend you had written if only you could get away with it.

I want to say the Harry Potter book or the Bible but they’re obvious answers. Maybe a book that’s really stood the test of time because I think all writers would like their work to live on long after they’ve died and become a classic. Probably Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Not a crime book but definitely dark and memorable.

Biggest fear.

Something happening to my son.

Favourite flavour of crisps.

It’s changed over the years. I was an out and out salt and vinegar fan as a child and teenager, briefly flirted with cheese and onion in my thirties but now it’s ready salted all the way (am I becoming more bland in my old age?)

3 top songs that you can’t help but sing along to.

Um, right now the main one is the Chris Evan’s jingle ‘How D’Ya Like Your Eggs in the Morning…’ I listen to the radio with my son when we have breakfast and, if that song doesn’t get stuck in my head, it gets stuck in his and then it accompanies us on the fifteen minute walk to school (which is fun). I love The Cure and my favourite songs are the darker ones but when ‘Friday I’m in Love’ is played I can’t help but sing along. Also, ‘Every Day is Like Sunday’ by Morrissey which is a truly miserable song but with a bit of a jaunty tune.

Chasing Rainbows – something magical or unlikely that you absolutely believe in.

Real rainbows? With pots of gold at the end? Um…nope. But chasing your dreams. Hell yes.

How soon can I read The Escape? Tomorrow? Excellent…

You’ve already read it. How did you do that? Some kind of weird time turning thing? Clever.

Last thing that made you laugh out loud…

Lisa Hall sent me a tweet telling me that her email to my editor about The Escape was ‘WELL SCREECHY’. If you’ve met Lisa you can imagine a ‘well screechy’ email from her. It made me laugh out loud.

I know Lisa well. I can indeed imagine her “well screechy” email having had a few of those from her myself…

How much do you hate me right now?

I don’t hate you at all. Although the question about my favourite character was a bit evil.

I have to throw at least one evil question into all of these…

Thanks Cally!

About the book:


“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

My review:

I banged through this one. I started it then I growled at it some because it wouldn’t let me go then I finished it just like that. Definitively addictive.

SO the main character, Jo, annoyed the mother loving heck out of me. Yes yes she’s unwell, horrible experiences but it didn’t stop me wanting to slap her. I say this with 100% positivity – I COULD NOT stop reading this until I found out what was what, whether she was fragile or fruit loop and what the blinking heck had her husband been up to anyway?

See? Twisty. Twisty goodness. I’m a fan of irritating characters (and that obviously is subjective) that irritate you in a way that just keeps you turning those pages especially when they can turn around on you. Something that Cally Taylor does INDOMITABLY well is write the divisive, occasionally unsympathetic, layered characters that you engage with, whether by wanting to slap them (seriously can I slap her?) or by loving them or hating them or somewhere in between. Tis a thin line but the main thing is it’s a bloody good story and love or loathe those you find within you will be entertained and find yourself lost in their world.

I hovered between emotions while reading it – there are some stand out thrill moments and some contemplative insights, this is what the psychological thriller is supposed to do, make you crazy, whilst thoroughly embracing that crazy. Top notch really.

I like them when they are like this

Excellent stuff here from Ms Taylor.

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Happy Reading!

Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski – Anyu Kekkonen

Today we have part 4 of Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski, today he is talking about Anyu Kekkonen  – another character in the mix – and we are heading towards the end of this little feature which has been the best fun, with part 5 later this week and then a Q/A with Matt to finish things off before I FINALLY get to review the book as part of the blog tour. This is an excellent novel by the way. As I have said many times and will probably say a fair few more times!

Anyu Kekkonen

Matt Wesolowski

There’s something intriguing about Anyu – the way she holds herself, perhaps? She has this ethereal quality to her – an other-worldly serenity.

When writing characters, they often come to me, they emerge, unformed, taking shape the more I write. I have little control over who they become.

Six Stories was slightly different; before I started, I had an idea of who these characters were – but I didn’t want to touch them yet. I find if I plan or plot anything, especially characters it kills them and their story stone dead. I had to just write and see what happened, see who turned up.

With Anyu Kekkonen, I wanted to capture a character who is somewhat inscrutable; instead of making her mysterious as such, I wanted to make this inscrutability accidental, something she carried almost as a burden. I wanted the others to make her into a mystery, through no fault of her own.

The inspiration for this was fairly easy; I reached into my own experiences of being a teenager, for lots of boys, probably more than we’d like to admit, we put the objects of our affections up on a pedestal, weave mystery around them where is usually none. I wrote Anyu as the sort of girl my early affections would be bequeathed to, despite being aeons out of my league. I would have followed Anyu around when I was 15 like a lost puppy, forever wondering why she had no interest in me whatsoever!

What I also wanted to do was show that someone like Anyu, despite being perceived as exotic and mysterious, quite simply wasn’t; that she was an awkward teenager like the rest of them. Anyu Kekkonen has her own insecurities and her own unrequited feelings.

She also has stories…but I’m not going to spoil that for you here….

About the Book:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

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To purchase the paperback clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!


The Dark Room. Interview with Jonathan Moore.

Today I’m very happy to be talking to  Jonathan Moore all about his second novel in his loose San Francisco trilogy –  The Dark Room. I loved this one. You can find a link to my review at the end.

Firstly, can we talk a little about the inspiration or original spark that started you writing not only The Dark Room but the first and last in this beautifully atmospheric loose trilogy – The Poison Artist and the forthcoming The Night Market?

Nearly twenty years ago, when I was a college student living in San Francisco, I had an idea one night for the story that would eventually become The Poison Artist. At the time, I had no idea that it would ultimately become three books—or that it would take me so long to finish the first one. But when I was 22 or 23, I wasn’t prepared to write these books. I was only thirty pages in before I realized that I was out of my depth. I came back to the story in 2013, after I’d sold my first two novels. I was more confident, and more prepared to get out and research things like police procedure and post mortem examinations. The second time around, I had an easy time writing The Poison Artist and I finished the earliest draft in just a few months. I thought that was the end of it, but when I started writing my next book, I chose San Francisco as the setting and the atmosphere took over from there. Now I have three books set in San Francisco, and I think I’m done. But you never know.

The Dark Room has a very hard hitting and utterly gripping central premise around which you have built some remarkably engaging yet often quite damaged characters – is the darker side of human nature something that completely fascinates you?

I doubt I’ll start writing romantic comedies anytime soon. And that’s not to say that I look down on anything that isn’t dark, because I don’t. I never know where my stories are going until I get there, and I’m as surprised as anyone else when I look up and discover where I’ve wound up. So yes, I guess I must have a fascination with the darker side of people. But it’s never something that I’m consciously thinking about when I sit down to write.

If I could talk about Cain for a moment – the central character at the heart of The Dark Room – whilst he comes into focus as the novel progresses, at the end we are still (or I was as a reader at least) fairly in the dark (pun unintended but there!) as to a lot of his inner soul – how do you view him now, with some distance.

One thing I’m very conscious of when I’m writing is narrative focus. The Dark Room is written in the third person, but the point of view is tightly limited to Cain. I’m a visual thinker, so most of what I write is something that you could depict on a screen. (This is all part of my plan to lure filmmakers to my books so that I can quit my day job and live on a yacht in the Mediterranean). On the other hand, that means that you’re not going to find many inner monologues and backstories in the pages I write. But the trade-off being what it is, I think it’s a more realistic way of telling a fast-paced mystery—Cain is out there trying to solve a murder, so he’s going to be thinking about ballistic reports and whether he’s being lied to, and not where he went to kindergarten or how he got along with his parents, or how he’d spend his free time (if he had any). Still, I think you’ll find plenty of clues about what kind of man he is by looking at the things he says and does on the page—how he treats his partners and his colleagues, how he interacts with authorities, how he responds to deaths of people close to him, how much sleep he gets compared to how much time he spends on the street, working. I view Cain as a good man, who’s trying to do the right thing—and who’s too busy to preach much about it.

The Poison Artist and The Dark Room both have very different yet deeply noir undertones – who would you say your biggest influences have been in the writing world?

There are so many writers whose work I love. Cormac McCarthy, for his language—if they had a prize for making existential nihilism sound good, McCarthy would win it with every book. Hemingway, for his knife-like sentences that cut right to point. Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald, who had opposite ideas of what a mystery novel should strive to be, but who shared the same fascination: their protagonists grapple to make sense of their world, navigating cities that are mazes of secrets and complex relationships. In contemporary mysteries, I adore Michael Connelly. He’s never written a disappointing book, and you can feel the layers of research and care that go into his stories.

Are you able to tell us a little about The Night Market?

The Night Market is the final piece of my San Francisco project. It is a murder mystery set fifty years after the events in The Poison Artist and The Dark Room, but it pulls in elements from both of those stories. Each one of these books stands alone, and each one has a slightly different tone. If The Poison Artist is an erotic psychological drama, and The Dark Room is a fast police procedural, then the The Night Market is a near-future, dystopian noir. Of the three, it’s my favourite.

Finally, a question I always ask, is there anything that you have read recently that you would personally like to recommend to others?

Perfidia, by James Ellroy. But if you haven’t already read his L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, White Jazz and L.A. Confidential), start there.

Thank you!

About the Book:

Gavin Cain, an SFPD homicide inspector, is in the middle of an exhumation when his phone rings. San Francisco’s mayor is being blackmailed and has ordered Cain back to the city; a helicopter is on its way. The casket, and Cain’s cold-case investigation, must wait.  At City Hall, the mayor shows Cain four photographs he’s received: the first, an unforgettable blonde; the second, pills and handcuffs on a nightstand; the third, the woman drinking from a flask; and last, the woman naked, unconscious, and shackled to a bed. The accompanying letter is straightforward: worse revelations are on the way unless the mayor takes his own life first.  An intricately plotted, deeply affecting thriller that keeps readers guessing until the final pages, The Dark Room tracks Cain as he hunts for the blackmailer, pitching him into the web of destruction and devotion the mayor casts in his shadow.

Read My Review

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To Purchase The Dark Room clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!


The Sixth Window – Quickfire Q and A with Rachel Abbott.

Today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Sixth Window, I have a bit of an interview with the lovely Rachel Abbott.

If I had to go back in time and choose another career…

I’d be a psychiatrist. Writing psychological thrillers has made me think a lot about how people’s minds work, and to be able to understand that even better would be wonderful.

My guilty pleasure…

Chocolate gingers. I can eat a whole packet in one sitting!

The book (by another author) that I wish I had written…

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. A whole book without knowing the protagonist’s name! And somehow thinking that a murderer had done a good thing!

The one piece of advice I would give my teenage self…

Never go on a stupid diet when you absolutely don’t need to.

If I had to choose between appearing on Strictly Come Dancing or X Factor…

It would have to be X Factor – I love to sing and I’m a rubbish dancer. I’d be stretching the Overs group on X Factor somewhat, though!

My favourite city in the world…

Venice. An easy answer. I love everything about it.

If I could only have one meal for the rest of my life it would be….

Curry. A real, authentic, Indian curry – probably a chicken one with the special lemons they have there. Hot, but not burn your throat hot.

Favourite book to read again and again and again….

Gone with the Wind – the characters are all so amazing and so vivid. It may not technically be up there with the greats, but I love it.

What would be your specialist subject be on Mastermind?

Food and drink, I suspect. I love to cook (and eat) – hence the remark about diets above!

Who would play you in a movie of your life?

I would love it to be Julie Walters. I think she’s capable of laughing at herself as much as making other people laugh. It would be great to say Helen Mirren, but sadly I’m not that glamourous.

Favourite current TV show?

I’m cheating a bit here, because it’s not on right now – but Masterchef Australia. Not any of the other Masterchefs – just this one. You can probably see a bit of a theme here! I look forward to it each year – far more so than most TV dramas (although I can’t wait for more Happy Valley).

My most memorable meal…

There are SO many to choose from. Probably a meal at a restaurant called Uliassi in Senigallia, Italy. The chef is unbelievably talented, and on a terrace overlooking the beach we were served the Menu Degustazione – about eleven tiny courses of sublime food.

The best thing about being a writer…

Being able to invent characters, each of whom I understand completely (probably more than most people I know) and allowing them to do their best, or their worst.

About the book: 


After eighteen months of grieving for her husband Bernie, killed in a horrific hit and run accident, Natalie Gray has found love with her husband’s best friend – Ed Cooper – and has moved herself and fifteen-year-old daughter, Scarlett, into his home. But Natalie begins to suspect Ed has a dark side – and even darker intentions.

Desperate to get her daughter to a place of safety, she and Scarlett move to a new home that holds secrets of its own. But has removing Scarlett from one potential threat placed her in far greater danger?

DCI Tom Douglas is also chasing the truth, as his investigation into the suicide of a teenage girl draws him ever closer to Natalie and Scarlett. But will he be too late to protect them from the peril they face, or from the truths that will tear their lives apart.

Find out More

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Fear The Silence with D. Nolan Clark and Forsaken Skies.


Today I am very happy to welcome D Nolan Clark to the site, talking about his writing process and creating aliens. Love this!


by D. Nolan Clark

The writer who wants to invent an alien species faces a number of obstacles that require creative solutions. Aliens are by definition unlike anything found on Earth, and the writer needs to get that across. You can only get so far with blue cat aliens or Martians who look just like us except for a latex prosthetic on their foreheads. Aliens that satisfy readers and viewers, aliens that mean something, need to surprise or shock us with their differences from what we know. It can be a daunting task to create an alien species from scratch, but like all world-building it can also be fun and it can even open up your story, give it new dimensions you would never otherwise have considered.

I’d like to share my process for creating aliens. Obviously every writer has their own technique and this is hardly a definitive guide, but at the very least I hope it’ll spark some creativity.

My alien designs go through five main steps, each as important as the last. I tend to go through them in this order:

1) Concept: What role will the aliens play in your story? Are they violent aggressors or wise teachers? Are they a metaphor for people on Earth, or are they intended to evoke the strange and exotic? The concept of your aliens will shape the story in many ways. It may even become the crux of your tale. Do your aliens have three sexes, or seven, or none at all? Humans interacting with an asexual species could be the start of lots of interesting tales, and let a writer examine human sexuality from an outsider’s perspective—as an example. Your aliens don’t have to drive your story, but you still need to know why they’re there and how they’ll relate to your human characters.

2) Evolution: Assuming your aliens came from a planet of their own, what did that planet look like? How hot was it, how strong was the gravity? Every element you can imagine of the alien homeworld will have a massive effect on what your aliens look like now. If they evolved on a water world, they’re likely to have fins and maybe gills. If they come from a dry place they might have scales or nictitating membranes. Studying Earthly animals can be a great font of inspiration here, but make sure you don’t just lean on biology as we know it. Aliens that just look like bipedal buffalos aren’t nearly as interesting as creatures that evolved on a dark world and therefore have no eyes, but find their way around by echolocation. Knowing what senses your aliens possess will greatly shape how they perceive us. Details of their physiology will utterly define how we see them. How big are they? If they come from a high-gravity planet, they’re likely to be low to the ground and very strong by our standards, while aliens from a low-gravity environment will be frail and delicate when they come to Earth. Are they horrifyingly ugly, by human standards, or ethereally beautiful—or both?

3) Culture: Your aliens will have a rich history, a story of their own—a story that could include mistakes and brilliant successes, charismatic leaders and popular movements. History, art, the games they play—these are the things that define how your aliens live now. This is absolutely crucial to know. What aliens look like is almost less important than how their society works. This is also one of the great pitfalls of science fiction. It’s an old cliché that all aliens from a given planet dress alike, have the same form of government, enjoy a single form of art, etc. It’s a cliché because it works, to a degree—homogeneous aliens are a kind of shorthand, a way for a writer to get big ideas across without muddying the waters, but in the end they feel more like a force of nature than like people. Consider creating multiple religious sects, or simply having one of your aliens stand out because they’re famous among their people for being a terrible dresser, or for their unpopular political opinions. You can spend way too much time on designing alien art movements and changing tastes in music—stuff that may not make it into the final story at all, or that makes your aliens so chaotic that they might as well belong to multiple species (which could be an interesting story in itself, of course). But a little cultural differentiation can really make individual aliens pop. Think how few things all humans agree on—other species are likely to be the same, right? If they’re not, that’s a Concept in itself.

4) Psychology: Beyond what your aliens believe, how do they think? How is their thinking different from that of humans? Most humans value individual experience and freedom. Maybe your aliens have a hive mind. Conversely, humans are social animals, who like to live in close proximity to each other. Maybe your aliens evolved from solitary predators, and they live reclusive lives where they only get together to mate or to wage war. If you want to get really trippy with it, maybe your aliens experience time differently than we do, and can spend an entire week making breakfast, or they don’t recognize individual consciousness at all, and are so confused when they meet humans that they act like we’re invisible. Make it weird—but make sure it’s not so weird that your readers feel lost. Be able to think like your aliens, and to express their ideas as clearly as you express the thoughts and emotions of your human characters.

5) Technology: The previous four steps will likely determine the kind of machines and technologies your aliens use. Alternatively, this could be part of your high concept. How do your aliens relate to humans in terms of their overall development? Are their spaceships faster than ours, or invulnerable to attack, or are they incredibly slow, designed for creatures who think a hundred year journey is a quick joyride? Are your aliens still working on discovering fire, so that first contact with humans is likely to blow their minds? Or have they been tooling around the galaxy so long, and met so many other species, that they’ve seen our like before and aren’t terribly impressed? Technology is not the only factor that defines species, but it is the primary sphere where two species are likely to first interact. Imagine aliens showing up on the White House lawn tomorrow with force fields and the ability to teleport. Even if they claim to come in peace, we’re likely to be terrified of their destructive potential. We could also want very much to trade with them, to get fusion power or the cure for cancer—but what would we have to offer in exchange? On the other hand—maybe we’re at exactly the same level. Maybe our first starship meets their first starship halfway between here and Tau Ceti—what happens next? Do we compete for habitable worlds, or do we join forces to explore the unknown?

As you can probably see, if you want to create aliens you’ve got your work cut out for you. None of these steps is easy, and none of them should be done too quickly. Think of as many cool ideas as you can, right off the top of your head—but then give them time to marinate, to let the puzzle pieces interconnect, a process which can create whole new ideas. If you take some time and let yourself meditate on these factors, you may be astounded at how many story ideas just magically appear. A fascinating, well thought-out alien species is one of the great joys of science fiction. It doesn’t happen overnight, but when it’s done right, it can be the start of something amazing.

About the Book:


From the dark, cold void came an unknown force. Their target a remote planet, the home for a group of people distancing themselves from mankind and pursuing a path of piety and peace. If they have any chance at survival a disparate group of pilots must come together to fight back any way they can. But the best these aces can do might not be good enough.

Read my Review

You can purchase Forsaken Skies HERE

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Happy Reading!