Ones To Watch in 2018: The Night Market Jonathan Moore.

Publication Date: January 2018 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Source: Netgalley

It’s late Thursday night, and Inspector Ross Carver is at a crime scene in one of the city’s last luxury homes. The dead man on the floor is covered by an unknown substance that’s eating through his skin. Before Carver can identify it, six FBI agents burst in and remove him from the premises. He’s pushed into a disinfectant trailer, forced to drink a liquid that sends him into seizures, and is shocked unconscious. On Sunday he wakes in his bed to find his neighbor, Mia—who he’s barely ever spoken to—reading aloud to him. He can’t remember the crime scene or how he got home; he has no idea two days have passed. Mia says she saw him being carried into their building by plainclothes police officers, who told her he’d been poisoned. Carver doesn’t really know this woman and has no way of disproving her, but his gut says to keep her close.

A mind-bending, masterfully plotted thriller—written in Moore’s “lush, intoxicating style” (Justin Cronin)—that will captivate fans of Blake Crouch, China Miéville, and Lauren Beukes, The Night Market follows Carver as he works to find out what happened to him, soon realizing he’s entangled in a web of conspiracy that spans the nation. And that Mia may know a lot more than she lets on.

Brilliant. The last book in the loosely connected Noir San Francisco trilogy and probably my favourite of the three, The Night Market is creepy and intense, set years after the events of the previous books and throwing us into a world that is the same but also quite quite different.

Beautifully descriptive both in character and setting the San Francisco we find in “The Night Market” has a tangibly different feel to it than before. Carver lives here, is part of the law here and so through him we can see the different nuances and the sense of feeling Mr Moore brings to the narrative is wonderfully absorbing.

From the very first chapters where we, the readers, feel the full impact of what happens to Carver, then watch him haunted by the missing memories, determined to find out the truth, it is utterly gripping and plays on your mind while you are away from it  -It never really lets up  until that very last page, with its beautifully emotive ending. The theme running through it is scarily authentic, a possible future that is far from beyond the realms of possibility – a thought provoking nightmare journey that Carver takes us on with him.

An unpredictable story told with razor sharp edges and deeply felt impassioned moments, The Night Market cleverly and rather brutally yet beautifully brings an end to this show – With The Poison Artist you get a psychological thriller with a classically layered unreliable narrator, with The Dark Room you get a tense, nail biting police procedural and character drama, with The Night Market you get a speculative dystopian tale and holding all of these together is that city – San Francisco – in all its glory – and the people that live there.

If you’ve not read The Poison Artist or The Dark Room yet then I recommend them – whilst each novel stands on its own, read all together they make a complete work of art.

Highly Recommended.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter for updates, you can Pre-Order The Night Market or if you can’t wait why not catch up with The Poison Artist and/or The Dark Room.

Readers in the US click here.

Happy Reading!

Ones to Watch in 2018 – The Confession. Jo Spain.

Publication Date: January 2018 from Quercus

Source: Review Copy

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

So moving on in the “Ones to Watch in 2018” feature we have Jo Spain’s “The Confession” her first psychological thriller and with any luck for us readers, not her last.

I am used to this type of book by now, I enjoy the majority that I read but these days I look for those that do something different or something special. I wouldn’t say that The Confession necessarily has a whole new hook in to the psychological thriller genre but what I WOULD say is it has that X-Factor, that indescribable something that makes it stand above the rest.

A multi-stranded story taking in three separate narratives – Julie, the wife who sits aghast and unable to move as she watches her Husband brutally beaten, JP, the attacker and Alice, the detective determined to get to the bottom of things – The Confession slowly and intelligently reveals the intersecting lives that have lead inevitably to this one brutal moment.  JP Delaney says of this book “Enthralling, Spain dissects her character’s secrets with razor-sharp precision” – That is spot on and exactly what happens over the course of the story and you cannot look away. This is yet another one sitting (relatively speaking) read for me, the whole thing was entirely fascinating.

I can’t give too much away, this book has twists of character so beautifully done that I would not want to even risk letting anything out before you read it yourself – but you’ll find out about Julie, about Harry who we only meet in retrospect and through the filtered eye of others, about JP and even about Alice, the author bringing this eclectic group dynamic to incredibly authentic life.

Viewed through a glass darkly, the true nature of the players in this drama slowly emerges, their realities and their consequences – it is gripping gripping stuff and takes the notion of a “Whydunnit” to whole new levels.

You’ll find out who did it on the very first page. On the last page you’ll find out why…

Follow Jo On Twitter

Pre-Order The Confession

Happy Reading!

Ones to Watch in 2018. The Feed. Nick Clark Windo

Publication Date: January 2018 from Headline

Source: Review Copy

It makes us. It destroys us. 

The Feed is everywhere. It can be accessed by anyone, at any time. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it.

Tom and Kate use The Feed, but they have resisted addiction to it. And this will serve them well when The Feed collapses.

Until their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing.

Because how do you find someone in a world devoid of technology? And what happens when you can no longer trust that your loved ones are really who they claim to be?

Warning: The Feed is ludicrously addictive so take the day off when you know it’s coming!

So the second of my “Ones to Watch” for next year is this one,  “The Feed” by Nick Clark Windo – and it is a dream of a read, speculative fiction set in the real world and incredibly current considering how fast technology is advancing and what it is becoming capable of – the author writes a cautionary tale about our reliance on such things and manages to make it beautifully authentic, often very emotional and always always fascinating.

In Tom and Kate we have two very engaging and different characters, struggling in a world left bereft. trying to do the best that they can. Then they lose Bea, their 6 year old, the rest of the book is made up of their desperate attempts to find her, it is a “road trip” of extreme danger and frustration – and boy do you feel it.

I loved the very human feel of this – the layers and the nuances – it is one reason for it’s highly addictive quality and the writing is stunning in its descriptive sense and terrific character building. There are a few spanners thrown in the works that will have you on the edge of your seat and there is an ending that may tip you over.

I devoured this story barely putting it down. Great concept, great execution, plenty of book trauma with a huge emotional rush of an ending. Left me vaguely tearful.

Highly Recommended.

You could follow Nick on Twitter

Pre- Order The Feed

Happy Reading!

#NeedTheFeed

Conflicts of Interest: Getting to Know You with Terry Stiastny

Very pleased to welcome Terry to the blog today as part of my “Getting to Know You” feature. Welcome!

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..

Conflicts of Interest is a story of two friends, one a journalist, Lawrence Leith, who’s down on his luck, the other a PR man, Martin Elliot, for whom everything seems to be going perfectly. When they meet again in the south of France, an accident sets off a course of events which show that Martin’s life doesn’t correspond to the image he presents. They both live in a world of politics and the media where image is everything and friendships can easily be betrayed.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I grew up in Guildford, in Surrey. My father’s Austrian and my mother’s Scottish but spent her childhood in Asia; they met in Vienna and moved to Canada where they got married and I was born. We returned to the UK when I was a baby. So I had a fairly conventional English Home Counties childhood, but always with a sense that I might easily have been living somewhere else and might have grown up differently as a result. My British grandparents had spend years abroad and we often had friends and relatives from Austria visit, which added to that feeling of having slightly different horizons.

Academic or creative at school?

Both, really. I was very academic and loved history in particular, but I also used to love drama and taking part in school plays, either on stage or behind the scenes. I used to write for school magazines and set up official and less official school newspapers, with varying degrees of success.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

It’s always been writing in one form or another. I still have handwritten or laboriously typed ‘novels’ and screenplays that I wrote as a child. As a teenager, I wanted to be a film director and screenwriter. Later, as I became more interested in politics, I decided that I wanted to be a journalist, which is what I did after university.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I recently found a copy of what I’d called ‘Terry’s only book’, a version of Beauty and the Beast, partly written, partly typed, pages stapled together. I must have written it when I was about four or five. I can’t remember a moment that I didn’t want to write, to be honest. I was always writing stories from as soon as I could.

Who are your real life heroes?

Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright turned hero of the Velvet Revolution and then President. In literary terms, John le Carre.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

I remember once falling into the river next to a pub garden — I was jumping from a boat to the bank, I would have been about seven — and feeling more embarrassed at my Mum’s rush through the garden to rescue me than I was worried about being in the water. I’m so terrified of embarrassment that I’ve wiped any later incidents from my mind…

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I was a radio reporter for a long time so I became OK at wiring things up and solving computer problems, mostly through trial and error. So I’m the person in the household who often sorts out the tech. I’m less good at anything properly old-school practical. I can build self-assembly furniture but that’s about the limit of it.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

Anything except a lark. I’m not a natural early riser, but I’m happy to be out in the sun and I don’t mind staying up late — though not as late as I used to.

A book that had you in tears.

The saddest book I’ve ever read is Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. The awful waste of human potential made me despair, and ‘Done because we are too menny’ almost makes me cry just thinking about it.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh, is both the funniest and one of the truest books about journalism ever written. The technology may have changed a bit from when William Boot set off for Ishmaelia with his cleft sticks but the characters he meets are still familiar.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

I generally don’t think I’m qualified to give people life advice, so I try not to do it often. One saying that I’ve sometimes found helpful, though, is not to judge the inside of your own life by the outside of someone else’s.

About the Book:

It is 2010 and failed war correspondent Lawrence Leith has retreated to a small town in the French countryside where he is taking refuge after the end of his marriage and the loss of his job.

When a friend from the past arrives in town, he stirs memories that Lawrence has been trying to forget; memories of a dusty road in the Congo where everything went disastrously wrong. Martin Elliott is convinced that what Lawrence needs is to get back in the game but when that involves returning to Africa, Lawrence isn’t convinced. That is until he meets Isabelle Vernet, the woman leading the trip.

When Martin goes missing, Isabelle’s and Lawrence’s lives are thrown together in ways neither of them could have imagined and when the lies that bind the three of them together start to unravel, truths are revealed that no one could have expected.

Follow Terry on Twitter

Purchase Conflicts of Interest

Happy Reading!

Ones To Watch in 2018 – The Woman in the Window A J Finn.

Publication Date: January 25th 2018 from Harper Collins

Source: Review ARC

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

So now we are midway through the year I’m hoping you all have managed to read some of the great titles from last year’s “ones to watch” list – so its time to kick off the feature that will tell you about some of the best books you can look forward to NEXT year. And let me tell you based on what I’m seeing, once again 2018 is going to up the ante on addictive and brilliantly written reads…

Talking of which, January will see the release of A J Finn’s “The Woman in the Window” an ode to Hitchcockian film noir and a genuine page turner. Featuring a hugely engaging unreliable narrator in main protagonist Anna Fox and delivering a plot twistier than a truck full of pretzels, The Woman in the Window is chock full of beautifully considered prose, atmospheric scene setting and a fair few moments that will have you emotionally traumatised.

Rear Window being the obvious inspiration, AJ Finn takes that psychological dramatic element and runs with it – there is a very visual quality to the writing, almost like watching a movie (and hey you’ll be able to do that too, this having been picked up by Fox)  but he does what a movie cannot do as well, taking you deep into the psyche of his main character and by means of telling her story, the psyche of those she watches.

Utterly gripping, beautifully voyeuristic and best of all insanely well written, The Woman in the Window is unpredictable, intense and ultimately lead to one of the best reading day’s I’ve had in ages. By the time I finished it I was literally on the floor. I love those moments so AJ Finn gets the first Gold Star of 2018 from me.

There will be more, one of which I’m reading right now (watch this space) but they say you never forget your first. So don’t forget this – The Woman in the Window. One to sink into in 2018. And hey, just after Christmas too. We all need a pick me up. This will pick you up then probably throw you out feeling slightly dazed but it’ll be worth it I promise.

Highly Recommended.

You could Follow AJ on Twitter for updates and Pre-Order The Woman in the Window so you don’t forget. I will certainly be picking up a hardback edition for my collection because I’ll be reading it again for sure, it being perfect for those second read nuances.

Happy Reading!

 

Rock Beats Paper – Getting to Know You with Mike Knowles.

Today I’m very pleased to welcome Mike Knowles to Liz Loves Books – this is a post that was meant to run during the blog tour but slipped through the cracks – huge apologies to all concerned but better late than never!

Tell us a little about your current novel, and what readers can expect from it.

The current book is titled Rocks Beat Paper. The novel is the sixth in the series about a career criminal named Wilson. In Rocks Beat Paper, Wilson goes to New York to meet with nine other men about a jewellery store heist. At first, Wilson can’t see a way to make the job work — there are too many people vying for control and too many layers of security protecting the diamonds they are out to steal. The death of the inside man derails the job and sends everyone walking — everyone but Wilson. With the crew gone and the diamonds still locked up, Wilson is free to execute the job his way. Wilson assembles his own team and sets a con in motion that will walk the stones out of the store and into his hands.

The plan took everything into account — everything except the number of people out to steal the diamonds. Everyone is playing to win and no one is willing to walk away because the job is about more than money, the job is about diamonds. And in this game, rocks beat paper every time.

Academic or creative at school?

Looking back, I would say creative. As a kid, I took a by-any-means-necessary approach to doodling. I had stories floating around in my head and I loved to put them down on paper. I didn’t consider using words instead of pictures until I was a lot older and it was less socially acceptable to doodle all day.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

I wanted to be a police officer when I was younger. I think it was less about the job and more about the stories. I liked thinking about being a police officer and the kinds of things that could happen in a job like that. Most of my interest was in the daydreaming about the job rather than the job itself. I didn’t go that route when I got older, but I never stopped thinking about cops and robber type stories.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I think I realized that I wanted to be a writer later than most. I always loved books and I spent most of my youth reading, and looking for, every crime novel I could get my hands on. I didn’t realize that I wanted to write my own stories until I took a creative writing class in my fourth year of university. I think the course had such an impact on me because I had been on a steady diet of writing about things other people told me to write about for years — the sudden freedom to write whatever I wanted sparked something in me and I never stopped writing.

Who are your real life heroes?

I geek out pretty hard for other writers. I really admire people who have the ability to consistently push boundaries with their work. When I was younger, I would find a series and devour it as fast as possible. There were times when I would find a book that strayed from a series; that used to drive me nuts. There was a formula that worked, and that I loved, and I was always disappointed when a writer went in another direction. After writing a few books of my own, my opinion has changed. I’d like to think that I have developed a greater appreciation for the craft of writing and I am a bit more aware of the writer’s presence in the book. What used to bother me is now something that I admire in other writers. There are a lot of fantastic writers who seem to push against the idea that they have to be a certain kind of writer, or the idea that they have to stay faithful to a particular character or genre. That ability to be fluid and the skill to craft something unique is something wonderful to find and something that I take inspiration from.

Thank you!

About the Book:

A phone call brought Wilson and nine other men to a job in New York. At first, he couldn’t see a way to make the heist work, but the score — millions of dollars in diamonds — kept him looking. Wilson came up with a plan he knew would work . . . until the inside man got killed and took the job with him.

With no way inside, the crew walks away without the diamonds. Alone, Wilson is free to execute the job his way. Wilson sets a con in motion that should run as predictably as a trail of dominoes — except the con doesn’t rely on inanimate tiles, it relies on people.

Wilson pushes all of the pieces across the board only to find out that there are other players making their own moves against him. Everyone is playing to win and no one is willing to walk away because the job is about more than money, the job is about diamonds. And in this game, rocks beat paper every time.

About the Author:

Mike Knowles lives in Hamilton with his wife, children, and dog. His Wilson mystery In Plain Sight was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel.

You can Purchase Rock Beats Paper HERE.

Happy Reading!

Taking a Few Days Off…AKA its time for Crimefest.

Yep it is that time of year again so there will be no new blog posts for a few days. First up for me in London the Orenda Roadshow – then all being well I’m off to Crimefest. Look out for live reports via my  Twitter and Facebook pages and a host of features in the next few weeks about what happens.

I’m hoping to interview some lovely authors and spend quality time with the bookish crew- no alcohol will be involved.

One of those things might be a lie.

Find out more about Crimefest Here

See the brilliant programme Here

Read about my adventures last year Here.

Happy Reading!

 

Getting to Know You with Grace Coleman.

Today I am happy to welcome Grace Coleman to Liz Loves Books, telling us about her novel Walking Barefoot and a little about herself. Thanks Grace!

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..

Walking Barefoot explores the life of Will Balston, past and present. As the story unravels we try to come to terms with the source of his unhappiness. It’s a brooding dystopian novel; more character-driven than traditional Speculative fiction with an intriguingly headstrong but flawed protagonist. Set in the futuristic, but broken, city of London, it paints a vivid portrait of what the world could look like.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

The majority of my childhood (6+) was spent in Sussex in a town not quite big enough to be interesting and not quite small enough to be quaint. My family life had ups and downs but there was always a lot of love there, so I count myself very lucky. I’ve always been very close to my big sister too, although five years older she really is my best friend.

Academic or creative at school?

I was a bit of a brown-nose at school so did well in most subjects. I loved the thrill of acting in front of the class in Drama as much as I loved the satisfaction of working out a tricky maths equation. I chose History to study further and now work in the business side of television, so I think I’ve always put myself in situations that combine the academic and creative.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

I wanted to be a generic business woman for a large part of my childhood. This involved carting round a plastic pink phone having imaginary but very important conversations, writing endless notes at my writing desk and answering our home phone with ‘Miss Coleman speaking, how can I help you?’

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I really don’t. Writing has always just been there; whether it was presenting my mum with stories about magic frogs, hours of not-so-veiled teenage angst poetry or a way of imagining the Californian record-label hotshot I would become (spoiler alert – I didn’t make it), writing has always been a way of exploring and expressing myself and letting my imagination run wild.

Who are your real life heroes?

I tend not to hero worship, but I’m very proud of both my grandmothers. One for her strength and smarts in pulling herself out of working class Belfast to a career in fashion in the city at a time when it couldn’t have been easy for a woman trying to make it in the working world. The other for successfully raising a family of seven (and uncountable grand and great grand kids) with endless love and patience that is still felt in the family today.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

If my mum reads this I’m dead.

Coming back from a night-out, alone tripping in heels and wearing an over-sized coat, I eventually gave up on walking (I think I was heading in the wrong direction anyway) and hailed a taxi. I was a bit perplexed when he said ‘It’s OK get in the front seat’ and even more concerned when I couldn’t see a metre anywhere. After a few comical back and forths it became painfully apparent that I thought he was a taxi, and he thought I was a prostitute. Of course my reaction was to burst into tears. His was to drive me back to my house (well, near my house) giving me lectures all the way about stranger-danger. At the time I was pretty shaken up, but since then I’ve taken a more philosophical approach to the encounter: First, don’t get into strangers’ cars. Second, even old men who pick up prostitutes can be nice people.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I like to be self-reliant and hate asking for favours; so if I ever have a DIY need I do it myself with a hammer. I’m not very patient or precise so my attempts usually end up in gaffer tape solutions.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

There’s something intrinsically more exciting about the night-time but I’m definitely more melancholy in the evening. Plenty of sunshine and natural daylight keeps me on an even keel. I like the to think this means I’m a typical Aries, but it probably means I’m a typical human.

A book that had you in tears.

I cry quite easily but I remember being really affected by the final lines of Phantom of the Opera. I like books that twist your expectation, where the line between good and evil are blurred and there’s such a broken tragedy to Eric.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

I stumbled upon Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on our family bookshelf before going on a long haul flight. I don’t even know what it was doing there (no one in my family appears to be a fan) or why I decided to take it with me. I stayed up the whole, overnight flight with my little reading light on, chuckling away (much to the annoyance of my neighbours). Every word was so purposeful. It reinvented what writing (and reading) could be for me.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

Be kind.

Thank you!

About the Book:

Set in a futuristic London in a world ravaged by war, Walking Barefoot explores the life of Will, past and present. The cocksure eighteen year old who, in a bid to find himself, goes travelling and the city-living adult, who despite his well paid job, upper quadrant apartment and sexy girlfriend, struggles to be happy. When nightmares begin to haunt his sleeping and waking life Will is unsure whether he is suffering from the illness that killed his father or being led by unseen forces to uncover a city-wide conspiracy. As his paranoia heightens he must ask himself – is he willing to lose himself to find the truth?

Find Out More

Follow Grace On Twitter

Purchase Walking Barefoot

Happy Reading!

20 Questions For…Peter Laws.

Next victim on my 20 Questions is the rather lovely Rev Peter Laws author of one of my favourite books of the year so far, that would be Purged, a shoe in for my top ten in December so I had a load of fun with this one. Not sure how much fun it was for him but I don’t care so much about that. So here you are…

So go on then tell us about Purged. Only 5 sentences though (these questions have very random rules that I make up as I go along)

Okay, so Purged is the first in a series about an atheist ex-vicar turned University Professor. He spends his time writing books that debunk the Christian Faith while also helping the police solve religiously motivated crimes. In Purged he’s trying to catch an evangelical serial killer who baptises his victims before killing them – he figures that’s the most caring way to fast track people to heaven. It’s crime fiction with a healthy dose of horror and spookiness. Ooo…one sentence left…it’s got a green cover.

When the world throws a sudden shortage of Marmite at you (yes this is a question so related to my career choice) how do you cope?

I drop to my knees and praise the sweet lord for ridding humanity of Satan’s hair gel. Seriously, that stuff is rotten and probably demonic in origin.

Later this year (and VERY SOON FOR ME I hope) you’ll be unleashing Unleashed which will once again feature Matt Hunter, a man very much after my own heart. Do that thing where you give away a little about Unleashed without in any way spoiling Purged. It’s a challenge.

Unleashed takes place a few months after Purged, and kicks off with a horrific dog attack at a primary school open day (I wrote it because my life consists of constant school runs, so you’ll appreciate my need to unleash some mayhem into that scenario). It’s through this attack that Matt is made aware of a fifteen year old poltergeist case, which seems to be returning – with homicidal consequences. While Purged explored the concept of Baptism and ideas about salvation, Unleashed explores the human desire to see patterns in life and how that can lead to a clash of worldviews. The book is filled with people having different opinions on what is killing people. I really like Unleashed. It’s a meaningful story to me.

Normally now I ask the cheese question but I’m over cheese so given your Horror credentials I think this will be harder. One Horror film. Definitively. Can be old can be new but only one. (Remember the random rules thing)

That’s like getting me to choose between my two kids…but that’s fine because I only like one of them anyway (that’s a joke by the way). But yeah, to choose one film’s tricky, but I’ll do it. I’ll opt for The Changeling from 1980 starring George C Scott. It’s my favourite haunted house movie and it influenced the writing of Unleashed because I listened to the soundtrack to that film on a loop while I wrote it. Amazing film, that is, which so many other horror movies copied.

Oh go on then what IS your favourite cheese?

I’m really getting into Blue Cheese and Stilton. It’s because I follow that Joe Wicks guy who suggests it in recipes a lot. It tastes like old lady’s tights, which at first was the attraction because it was so rough it made me only eat tiny bits at a time. Very slimming. Now I’ve got a taste for it I’m eating chunks of the stuff, so maybe it’s time to find a more disgusting cheese. Like Marmite flavour, perhaps.

When I was at your book launch t’other week I asked you whether you thought genuine possession ever happened (or something like that I had after all had a glass of wine or two) – I remember everyone being fairly fascinated by your response so I’m asking again for readers of this madness.

The Bible is pretty clear that demonic possession is a phenomenon that can happen, but I do think we need to be extremely cautious in this area. Some forms of mental illness (such as epilepsy, tourettes syndrome, alien hand syndrome etc) could have been seen as demonic in ancient times. Thankfully, we’ve stopped stigmatising these natural conditions, and treat people accordingly. So I’m extremely reluctant to label someone as possessed, especially when some of the signs of possession are so easy to fake (such as increased strength, aversion to Holy symbols etc).

However, there are other signs that have been reported that are not as easily mimicked. I’ve heard reports of people levitating for example, or their eyeballs turning completely white. Plus there are cases where a subject has knowledge they wouldn’t naturally have known – so when the so-called possessed person starts spouting out secret (and specific) information on the Exorcist it’s scary. Like if a subject mocked the priest by saying, ‘Ha…I know you tried to kill yourself when you were seventeen, on the trainline to Leeds. I was there.’ If that turns out to be true and nobody knew it, it’s pretty freaky – though I guess it could be a form of telepathy and not demonic. Still though, with all these cautions in place I’m open to it happening and the Matt Hunter books certainly explore the subject of demonic influence in the world. It’s going to be a running theme, that behind every crime there may be a mundane explanation, or a sinister more supernatural one. I leave that to the reader to decide.

In a very loosely connected to the above question – How much of you is there in Matt Hunter and how much of Matt Hunter is there in you?

To be honest with you, there’s quite a bit of me in Matt Hunter. For a start he’s a trained church minister, like I am, though he’s jacked his faith in while I haven’t. He’s also a bit of a geek, which I’d say I am too. He’s more intelligent than I am, younger and more handsome, clearly. But we share a quirky sense of humour and a fascination with the bizarre.

Lettuce. Why. Just WHY?

Ha ha! So many people have spoken to me about the lettuce scene in Purged. It’s given people nightmares, which for a writer is a punch the air moment. Funnily enough the bits with the possessed Nigerian woman and the lettuce are linked to a real-life case where some nuns ate some unblessed lettuce. Afterwards they started acting crazy and were considered to be possessed. So basically I picked lettuce because it has a historical precedent and…most importantly…it freaks people out.

Last book you read that you wanted to recommend to everyone. That wasn’t one that you wrote.

I just read a great Australian thriller called Fear is the Rider by Kenneth Cook. Sadly Cook passed away some years ago, but the manuscript for this novel was found in his belongings, and thankfully it got published. It’s a read-in-one-sitting horror thriller where two urban professionals are chased across the Australian outback by a feral man. It’s got very little character development or extra detail – it’s just 200 pages of pure action and adrenalin. I’d also recommend Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Strangers by Taichi Yamada and On Chesil Beach by Ian McCewan. All of which made me cry – which is good. I like books that move me.

As a Rev I know you go and give guest sermons. Having heard you speak about your novels I’d definitely be interested in hearing you in “other” professional mode (assuming that is I could walk into a church without immediately being struck down) so how do they come together? Obviously with a different approach than writing or talking about writing and horror stuff – or is it significantly different?

I speak in a lot of churches on Sundays (and am available for anybody out there, if they want to get in touch!). I don’t tend to write and deliver horror sermons (though I can occasionally drop in a few creepy facts now and again). But on the whole I just look at a Bible passage and examine what it meant when it was first written to the ancient world. I was taught a bit of Greek in Bible college so sometimes I’ll translate some of the words from the original text, so I can stay close to the original intention. Then I spend a bunch of time trying to bring the message of that text into modern life. So much of the Bible can speak into our everyday challenges. I like sermons that are fun and down to earth but that raise big questions, sometimes from unusual angles. Writing a sermon can be hard work, but when I’m delivering it, it feels kind of special. Like I’m doing something important and meaningful for both me and those who are listening.

Also, you could definitely walk into a church without being struck down. Some people get the impression that God is like a ticked-off headmaster annoyed with anybody who knocks on his door – but in my opinion he’s like the best, most loving, perfect Father who sees his prodigal son on the road and rushes out to hug him and throw a party. I was very anti-Christian up until I was in my early 20s. I’d constantly pick on my Christian R. E. teacher for her ‘pointless and outdated’ religion, and I was even in a band for a while which sang about spitting on God and the Bible. Yep, I wrote that one. Then I started going to church in my early 20’s and I didn’t feel like God was waiting with a cane to whack me. I felt him throw his arms around me and my life changed forever. I know this sounds a bit whacky, but my life really has changed in so many wonderful ways because of my faith. But I hate the idea of forcing my beliefs on anybody, hence why Matt Hunter is a staunch atheist. In fact, some readers have said that Purged comes across as really anti-Christian, ha ha!

That was a bit deep that last question so let’s get back to the important stuff – if you were stuck on a desert island for no apparent reason whatsoever except that I say so and could choose 3 famous people living or dead to be stuck there with you who would you choose?

William Shatner. Without a doubt. He’d be first on the list, because I’ve loved that guy since I was a kid. Then I’ll have Stephen King because as everybody knows, he totally rules. Let’s have Elvis Presley too, cos I’d love to chat with him. Aw, hang on…I’ve used up my go’s and I ended up with all men. Bummer!

What one food did you try once then immediately wish you could delete from the planet?

I think I already answered that above. But if you want another it’s liquorice. That’s dirty food, I’m telling you.

On that note – tipple of choice?

I’m into Whiskey at the moment. I tend to drink Bourbon with just ice. Not only does it make a cool clinking sound in the glass, it makes me feel like J.R. or sumthin. I’ll also take Red Wine, lager and beer if you’re asking.

I know you compose – but what type of popular (using the term loosely) music do you enjoy just chilling out to?

I’ll listen to anything, me. My daughter loves Little Mix for example, and I’m happy to have it on in the car. I also think Bruno Mars writes some brilliant songs. But on the whole tend to listen to a LOT of film soundtracks. I like electronic music too, especially people like John Carpenter or Carpenter Brut. I’m back into Vinyl so have been buying some great albums on that. Oh, and I like cheesy lounge music too. Bit of metal, bit of funk, and I really love music from old Blaxploitation movies. Heck, I pretty much like everything.

Guilty pleasure – that one thing you feel you really shouldn’t enjoy but do (Me, its singing very loudly along to Taylor Swift songs with the windows open in Summer)

Well I’m not sure if I should feel too guilty about this, but I really got into the TV soap opera Nashville recently. My wife was watching the first season and I wandered by and just casually watched the last ten minutes of an episode. Then we both avidly watched all the seasons. I wasn’t really into country music much, but that show had me loading up my Spotify list with the Nashville albums. Which is kinda cheesy, but hey. It’s odd because I have zero interest in the popular British soap operas – but when it comes to stuff like Dallas or Prisoner Cell Block H or Dark Shadows I TOTALLY get the appeal.

What on earth made you decide to write fiction? You KNOW it’s hard right, and yet so many of you do it. And do it so well…

Hey, thanks! I just had as notion to write a novel, while I was walking in a field with my wife. The idea was for a book called Congregation – which will actually become Matt Hunter 3 if the first two sell enough and the publishers want more. Writing fiction is hard, but I’m currently writing a non-fiction book for Icon books called The Frighteners and that’s even harder! It asks why human culture is drawn to the morbid so there’s a lot of fact checking on that one – but at least I’ve been able to hunt werewolves, be chased by zombies, stay in haunted ruined churches and be surrounded by wild dogs in Transylvania for it!

The most irritating thing you can think of (please don’t say wonky wheeled supermarket trolleys I obviously do my best but I’m only one employee…)

The slap of a flip flop against the underside of a foot. That sound is like Chinese Water Torture to me.

Last thing that made you laugh.

I watched a bit of Smokey and the Bandit the other day and that always makes me chuckle.

Last thing that made you cry.

A friend of mine has been through a horrendous time of stress recently and my wife and I went to visit him for dinner the other day. We prayed for him, and as soon as I closed my eyes I felt myself filling up. Prayer’s pretty interesting – it can be boring sometimes, but at others it’s really powerful. Oh, and on the same day I took my kids to see this film called The Boss Baby, which has a scene where an older brother is lying in bed waiting for his parents to read to him, but they’re fast asleep on the couch because the baby brother is taking up all of their time. The film was trying to say that sometimes you get left out and forgotten and that got to me a bit. Maybe it had echoes of the last five years and me trying to get a book deal, ha ha!

How much do you hate me right now?

My hate levels for you are at the same zero percent they always are. I’ll let you know if they change, but let’s face it, Liz, I seriously doubt it.

Thank you!

Thank YOU!

About the Book:

Read my review HERE

Find out MORE

Follow the author on TWITTER

To Purchase Purged clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

Getting to Know You with Vera Brook. Sand Runner.

Today I am very happy to welcome Vera Brook talking about her YA novel Sand Runner and a little about herself – the book is available for pre-order and if you are in the US or Canada as I know many of my visitors to this site are, there is a goodreads giveaway going on as well, linked below.

 

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it…

SAND RUNNER is a YA science fiction novel. It’s set in a dystopian future, and it follows a 16-year-old Kaiden Reed—or Kai for short—who gets recruited for the No Limits Race, a brutal competition that’s the most popular sports event on the planet. The winners become instant icons and get insanely rich. But there is a price to pay. The runners have to upgrade their bodies to qualify for the race. And, of course, there is more to the No Limits Race than Kai expected from years of watching it on TV, and he has to make some difficult choices along the way.

In terms of what the readers can expect? High stakes, a fast-paced plot, and lots of suspense. SAND RUNNER was inspired by science and technology—specifically 3D printing and bionics. But that’s just the background. The story is really about a group of characters who have to learn to trust and rely on one other in life-or-death situations, even though they don’t always see eye to eye. And Kai is at the center of this. The story is about him finding out what he’s made of. And also what he wants in life, what he values, and how far he’s willing to go to fight for his dreams.

Academic or creative at school?

Can a person be both? I was always a bookworm and interested in every subject, so I did well in school. I’m a very curious person by nature, so I was motivated to learn. But I also kept notebooks with story ideas and took black-and-white photographs. So I always had a creative side, too.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

When I was a small kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved animals and my family always had dogs. I thought a veterinarian was someone who talks to animals and they talk back. Once I discovered that wasn’t true, I lost interest.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

Good question. Depends on what you mean by “write.” I started keeping notebooks with story ideas in 4th or 5th grade, I think. So I wrote, and I wanted to be a writer, for a long time. But I wasn’t serious about it at first. I never finished things. I would start a story, and then jump to a new one.

It was pretty recently—maybe 3 or 4 years ago—that I got serious about writing. The biggest difference is that now I set writing goals for myself and I push myself to finish things. So for me, writing is more about discipline than about inspiration. I always have more ideas than I know what to do with. The trick is to resist the temptation to stop writing, or to jump to another project, when I get stuck.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

I’m terrible with names. So any time I run into someone and they address me by name, and I frantically search for their name and nothing comes up. Until I have to say, “Sorry, remind me of your name again.” It’s very embarrassing.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

Depends on what’s broken. If it’s something like my car, then I wouldn’t even dream of trying to fix it. But if it’s something I’m trying to do on the computer – like format an ebook, or write a line of HTML code—then I’m going to give it a try first, before asking for help.

Also, it’s amazing to me how many online resources there are. People are very generous with sharing their knowledge and information. Indie publishing community is wonderful for that. You just poke your head into one of the Facebook or Goodreads groups and ask your question, and without fail, several people will respond and help you out. It’s nice.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

Definitely a night owl. I love the sun. But I’m just not a morning person. Everything takes me twice as long in the morning, pre-coffee. But at night, I can stay up until late and get a lot done. It’s also my favorite time to read.

A book that had you in tears. A book that made you laugh out loud.

Actually, one and the same book had me in tears and made me laugh out loud. Or a series of seven books, to be precise. The Harry Potter series. I love J. K. Rowling’s writing. I love the characters, the magic, the humor. But I love the darkness in these books, too.

Thanks Vera!

About the Book:

Welcome to the No Limits Race.

In the near future, 16-year-old Kaiden Reed makes a bold and dangerous decision to enter the most brutal sports competition on the planet. One in which he will undergo a radical upgrade and become a new kind of athlete and a new kind of hero.

Part human. Part machine.

All Kai wants is a shot at a better life and to impress the girl of his dreams. But the stakes in the Race are higher, and the choices tougher, than Kai ever imagined. The physical challenges are just the beginning.

Ten days. Ten contenders. One winner.

Does Kai have what it takes to compete? How far will he go to win? And should he trust the person who recruited him in the first place – or is she using him to carry out a bold and dangerous agenda of her own?

Find Out More

Follow Vera on Twitter

Purchase Sand Runner

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway

Happy Reading!