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Archive for March, 2017

In case you missed all the excitement earlier (where were you by the way?!  My excuse was “mum duties”), I am so incredibly excited to share the cover for Caroline Mitchell’s latest Ruby Preston novel and even more importantly it is available for pre order NOW!

UK: 🇬🇧  http://amzn.to/2oFTxLj 

US: 🇺🇸  http://amzn.to/2npDVLY

Sleep Tight

Description:

Close your eyes … Just pray you don’t wake up.

A killer stalks the streets of East London. All over the area, murdered young women are discovered, their bodies posed into a sickening recreation of fairytale princesses.

Detective Ruby Preston is determined to hunt down a disturbed individual who is using the women to realise their twisted fantasies. But when body parts are found at the home of her lover, Nathan Crosby, Ruby is torn between her job and her heart.

Convinced that he is being framed, Ruby must catch the killer before Nathan becomes the number one suspect. But as more victims are found, it becomes harder to prove his innocence.

Ruby is in too deep, knowing that the cruel individual is getting ever closer, looking for his next beautiful victim. But can she stop a killer hell-bent on fulfilling their horrific desires – before it’s too late? And how well does she really know the man she loves?

A terrifying, addictive serial killer thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, for readers of Angela Marsons, Peter James and Rachel Abbott.

 

Praise for the Ruby Preston series is already high, check out what some of the best bloggers have been saying:

‘Oh my friggin God! Thisssss booooook! Su-bloody-perb! …a quadruple #HellYeah recommendation from me! Tantalisingly terrifying, twisted, and darkCrime Book Junkie

‘Just superb!! I can tell you, you will NOT know the ending until you get there!! It’s a shocker!Next Book Review

‘OMG what a corker of a book. I absolutely love Ruby.  I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough … Loved it, loved it, loved it.’ By The Letter Book Reviews

‘Compelling, absorbing, chilling, gruesome and freakishly brilliant.  Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop.’  Jen Med’s Book Reviews (5*)

‘Ruby is an excellent character. Real, raw and utterly relatable’ Bibliophile Book Club (4*)

‘Caroline Mitchell creates some seriously dark and scary stuff ‘ StefLoz Book Reviews

‘Fast paced, great lead character and twists and turns, what more could you ask for?’ Worcester Source (4*)

It will certainly have you holding your breath on more than one occasion… I really can’t wait for more from this series.’ Victoria Wilkinson – I Love Reading

Oh my God…this book blew me away! Kept me hooked right till the last page’ The Book Guzzler (5*)

‘Ruby, well she’s just in a league of her own. She shows so much strength yet I love the vulnerable side to her’ By The Letter Book Reviews (5*)

‘I think I pretty much held my breath through the last few chapters! There are twists and turns aplenty and it’s packed full of action and suspense’  Chat About Books (5*)

‘It’s a compelling and dark read; it gives you thrills, it gives you the fear and it gives you all the twists and turns you are looking forChapterinmylife (5*)

‘A thrilling ride that blurs the boundary of what is right and what is wrong. The plot is terrifying yet somehow heartbreakingKitty Catalyst – Bibliophile (5*)

 

About the Author:

CM

A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex.  She now writes full time.

www.caroline-writes.com 

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Hello and welcome along to another post to Celebrate Indie Publishing, today I am delighted to share a book from the wonderful Orenda Books, the driving force behind this amazing outfit being one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the opportunity to “meet”.  Today’s fantastic book featured is ” Deadly Game” by Matt Johnson and I’m delighted to say that this post is also part of the blog tour for the book.


Book Feature:

Published: 15 March 2017

Description:

Deadly Game A/W.indd

 

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Deadly Game” is actually the follow up book to Johnson’s “Wicked Game”, and although it’s is not essential to have read the books in order I would highly recommend it.  This book does read well as a stand alone, Johnson writes incredibly well and ensures that the readers are aware of what happened previously to Inspector Robert Finlay.

The plot in this book is absolutely 5 shining gold stars of brilliant, it really is.  There is so much tension and suspense curled around the plot that the reader almost needs to reminders to keep breathing.  The complexities of the plot make this such a thrilling read, and quite terrifyingly realistic (in a good way!).  Characterisation is superb in this, very well developed characters bring the plot alive and it is refreshing to see a protagonist who battles so very much.  Finlay is a man that makes mistakes, he’s not what you would expect from a “hero”, but all the same he is a character that many readers will feel a connection to and the way in which his PTSD is explored makes for hauntingly brilliant reading.

The emphasis on detail in this shows just how skilled a storyteller Matt Johnson is, the background that he has enables him to give detailed information on tactical procedures, weapons etc and this really does add credibility to it all and makes it all the more thrilling to read.

The subject matter in places can be quite gritty but nonetheless is it is very real.  The sex-slave trade is a subject that is perhaps not given the full spotlight in the media that it might, and here Johnson realistically portrays people trafficking in such a way that it shows how easily victims can become trapped by the traffickers and their devious ways.

There are so many things I could say about this book but I daren’t for fear of giving anything away! An absolutely exceptional series that I cannot wait to continue!

You can buy a copy of “Deadly Game” directly from Orenda Books here (ecopy) or via Amazon here

About the Author:

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years.  Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing,  Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital.  Hidden wounds took their toll.  In 1999,  Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  While undergoing treatment,  he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders,  shootings and terrorism.  One evening,  Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition.  His bestselling thriller,  Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result.  Deadly Game once again draws on Matt’s experiences and drips with the same raw authenticity of its predecessor.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for more reviews, guest posts etc.

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Today I’m very pleased to welcome to The Quiet Knitter blog the star of the Tara Sharp series – no, not the author Marianne, but Tara Sharp herself.  I’ve never interviewed a character before but some of the responses make me wish that Tara Sharp were a flesh and blood person – she sounds like fun! 

The third novel in Marianne Delacourt’s series of paranormal crime novels about unorthodox PI Tara Sharp, ‘Too Sharp’,  launched this week.  The novel is available from all online retailers, including Twelfth Planet Press and Amazon.  Readers new to Delacourt’s Tara Sharp series can spark their addiction with ‘Sharp Shooter’, the ebook of which is available for free for a limited time to celebrate the launch!

Too Sharp

Book Description:

Tara Sharp’s new case brings her to Brisbane, where she is placed in charge of Slim Sledge, a high-maintenance rock star. Tara’s a sucker for a backstage pass, and it’ll provide some much-needed distance between herself and her mother’s not-so-subtle hints about getting a “real” job, not to mention crime lord Johnny Viaspa, the only man on the planet who wants her dead.
 
She expected the music industry to be cut-throat, but Tara soon uncovers more problems than just Slim Sledge’s demands and his rabid fans. Everywhere she turns, the grudges run deeper and the danger ramps up.
 
Has Tara finally pushed her luck too far?
You can buy a copy of “Too Sharp” in the UK via Amazon here and for a limited time, snap up your free copy of “Sharp Shooter” in the UK via Amazon here

 


The Quiet Knitter chats with Tara Sharp:

You’re quite the ‘Girl Boss’ with your PI business. What exactly does your business entail and how did you get started?  

I’ll let you in on something… I’m not a registered PI or business as such.  But I have certain… skills, so jobs come to me by word of mouth.  Y’know, kinda niche stuff.  I handle the quirky requests that PI’s don’t want to do.  Once you get known for “psychic” anything, the weird comes out.

‘Psychic’? Sounds pretty unconventional, can you tell us a bit more?

I find it a bit embarrassing to talk about.  I mean, it put me into therapy.  Let’s just say that I’m good at reading people.  Like… VERY good.  I see things most people can’t sense.

Speaking of the ‘weird coming out,’ the types of clients you’ve worked with is getting quite diverse – From a motorcycle racing team owner to Madame Vine’s escort agency – For those of us excited about Too Sharp, can you give us any hints about your upcoming work?

Well, my security chief, Wal, has this mate who works as a music promoter in Queensland.  I’ve promised Wal I’ll help him out with this hip hop artist he’s bringing out from the states.  It’s a revival tour because the dude’s been in rehab.  I’m supposed to be his minder.  It’s not my usual thing, but then again I don’t really have a usual thing.  Word is that the dude is high maintenance.

It’ll be good to get away from home for a while though.  Things have been a bit stressful here between work stuff and guy stuff.

Sounds like that’s not likely to change if this hip hop artist is high maintenance. Could you describe your ‘ideal’ client?

You’re probably right, but a change is good as… Hmmmm, I definitely prefer the paying kind. Not being a legitimate PI has its disadvantages.  People try and short change you all the time, and your friends want freebies!

You do seem to have a particular skill for getting yourself into sticky situations. What’s the tightest spot you’ve found yourself in so far?

Ummm…honestly, I feel sick even thinking about it, let alone talking about it.  But I was recently abducted by a f’real hit man.  I know. Crazy right?

You were abducted by a hit man? I guess I’m quite lucky to be sitting here talking to you now. Actually you are looking a bit pale, Tara – moving swiftly on.

I have to say, you have quite a sense of style. How do you achieve a good work-life balance?

The truth is that my life has no balance at all.  And thanks for the compliment but my style is entirely down to Smitty and Bok.  I just do as I’m told.  Having two best friends who are the style King and Queen of the town, I learned early on not to resist them.  Bok edits a fashion magazine and Smitty, well she’s just Smitty: born with an unfair share of natural grace and style.

Excuse me if this is a little personal, but I think I speak for a lot of readers when I say I feel quite invested in your love life. Do you think it’s time to start taking things more seriously with beautiful Edouardo?

Ask away… Sigh.  He is beautiful, isn’t he?  But that’s the problem see.  He’s SO beautiful.  I just can’t help feeling that he’ll wake up one day and realise he should be dating a Hollywood star.  Also, he’s younger than me, so I worry about my cellulite.

Do you have any ‘life goals’ for the future?

Nothing too intense.  Lose ten kilos, move out of home for good, hook up with a man who doesn’t steal my furniture, make a living from my own business, be good to my friends.  Oh yeah, and live to see thirty.  Joke?  Not.


A huge thank you to Tara Sharp for keeping us entertained today and causing a few giggles with her fantastic answers!  Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for “Too Sharp”, simply follow Marianne on Twitter @mdepierres or her publisher Twelfth Planet Press for more information.

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Published: 9 March 2017

Copy provided by Quercus Books & Netgalley

 

Description:

The bestselling author of The Villa and The Saffron Trail returns with a gorgeous summer read about love and starting over – set in West Dorset and beautiful Sardinia. Perfect for fans of Santa Montefiore, Dinah Jefferies and Harriet Evans.

Faye has just completed her degree in interior design when she finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less. While debating what to do next she receives a surprise phone call from her old college friend Charlotte who now lives in Sardinia and is married to Italian hotelier, Fabio.

When Charlotte suggests that Faye relocate for a month to house-sit, Faye wonders if a summer break in sunny Sardinia might be the perfect way to recharge her batteries and think about her future. But then Charlotte tells Faye that there’s something more behind the sudden invitation: her friends Marisa and Alessandro are looking for a designer to renovate a crumbling old theatre they own in the scenic village of Deriu. The idea certainly sounds appealing to Faye, but little does she know what she’s letting herself in for if she accepts this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . .

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Little Theatre by The Sea” is only the second book by Rosanna Ley that I’ve read, and I really must get round to reading more of her books as they are like a breath of fresh air.  The way in which Ley writes utterly transports the reader, not only to the Mediterranean setting of Sardinia but also to the rugged coastal setting of Dorset.  She writes with such descriptive flair that the reader cannot help but feel the settings come alive between the pages, the vibrancy of Deriu, the smells, the architecture all of it leaps from the pages before your eyes.

Faye was a character that I felt an easy connection towards at times, I relished her passion for her vocation, her compassion towards others and the need to understand “why” in so many situations reminded me of someone I know.  But at the same time, her need to know “why” was infuriating, sometimes there is no answer to that question, well certainly not an easy to give answer.
Marisa and Alessandro were also interesting characters, the brooding presence of Alessandro providing much delight for Faye at times.  Both complex characters, strongly driven by their family ties but also very individual.  Pasquale was a character that was incredibly well written, and one that I struggled to work out, was he merely a saddened villager trying to relive his younger days on stage by visiting the derelict theatre, did he have a motive behind befriending Faye – whether to glean information on the restoration project to feed back to other villagers or was he planning to sabotage the restoration project himself?  Characterisation seems to be a key aspect of Ley’s writing, strong characters, with terrific detail make the story flow fluidly and it’s easy to lose track of time completely when reading this book.

The plot is superb, combining the tales of Faye in Deriu and the history of the picturesque village and it’s theatre, as well as the lives of her parents back in Dorset.  With so much going on you would be forgiven for worrying that you’d not keep up, but fear not.  Each strand of the plot is masterfully woven together, no detail is forgotten and Ley manages to sneak a few surprises in the narrative.
At the heart of this book is the overarching theme of secrets, everyone has their secret and its who they chose to share it with that makes it more or less of a burden.  Whether a person is trying to save another by not imparting a knowledge, or merely saving themself by keeping information locked away, the secret still exists and the price to keep it such has to be paid.

This is a wonderfully rich tale, perfect for holiday reading or even just curling up on the sofa for a quiet afternoon – the perfect escape.

You can buy a copy of “The Little Theatre by The Sea” via Amazon here or via Wordery here.

 

 

 

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I am delighted to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for Roger A Price’s “Vengeance” and share a piece with you where the author discusses the road to publication.

Book Description:

Vengeance

 

Jack Quintel is a hit man. When a job comes in to kill the Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police Jim Reedly, he contracts it out to a new guy, Charlie Parker. Watching in the shadows, Quintel sees Parker shoot out Reedly’s windscreen, then drag him into the woods and thinks the job’s been done. But when Parker tries to pass off a pig’s heart as Reedly’s, things start to go very wrong. Jack’s right hand man Jason kills Charlie, who it turns out is an undercover police officer.

Detective Vinnie Palmer is with the Preston police. He was called in when they

received the information about the impending hit. Now he has to figure out how to clean up the mess. And he wants whoever killed Parker bad. He finds the man who put Parker in touch with Quintel, a low life hood named Dempter, living in an estate in Preston. He doesn’t know much, but motivated by money, agrees to be an informant for the police.

Christine Jones is a TV reporter. She and Vinnie had worked together before, chasing a serial killer. They meet again at the warehouse where Charlie was killed, and realise their relationship could be more than professional. But first, Christine wants to know what’s happening. Vinnie agrees to keep her in the loop.

Meanwhile, Christine is working on a documentary about positive discrimination against non-Catholic officers in Northern Ireland since the peace process. She mak

es contact with a former police officer in Northern Belfast named Paul Bury, who feeds her some of the information she needs.

Meanwhile, as the bodies start to pile up in Preston, there’s another attempt on Reedly’s life, when a grenade is thrown at him at his brother in law’s funeral.  As Vinnie fights to keep Reedly alive, suddenly Christine’s life is in danger. And they both start to wonder if the contract against Reedly has anything to do with her documentary on Northern Ireland. But how could it?

Filled with twists and turns and gritty detail, this is must read for crime fans everywhere.

You can buy a copy of “Vengeance” in the UK via Amazon here or in the US via Amazon here

 

Roger is kindly running a giveaway over the course of the blog tour and you could win paperback copies of “Nemesis” and “Vengeance” – just follow this link.

 


When did you first decided to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper?

I’ve always harboured the desire to write, but always found excuses not to. That said when I was a working detective, time was a precious commodity, so when I left the cops with a huge amount of experience in both the covert and overt side of investigations, I knew I had to try.

How long did that first manuscript take to perfect?

Over the years, I had done some formal training on how to write creatively, but having not put any of it into practice, I’d forgotten most of it. My dilemma was, do I do a further course/night school, or do I just write? I decided to just get on with it.

After nearly a year, I thought I had my first book – which became ‘By Their Rules’ – as good as I could get it, so then took the plunge and sent it to a literary consultant and paid them to critique it. What came back was little short of a crime scene after it had been ripped to shreds. And rightly so! After I had stopped crying I started to go through the in-depth report and put all the structural mistakes right. Such things as POV errors, ‘head hopping’ being a common mistake made by new authors. I worked and re-worked on it until I felt it was ready to start submitting.   

How did you get it in front of publishers?

I learnt a lot about how to approach editors and agents through Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, perfecting my covering letter and synopsis before attaching my sample chapters and starting to send my submission out.

Did you have an agent?

No, but I have had some interested, some very, but not enough to offer representation. I think fewer and fewer are taking the risks they once took with an emerging voice. Also, a lot is down to luck; hitting the right agent (or editor) with the right story at the just the right time. What feedback I did get from my many rejections was that I could write to submission standard, and I could tell a story. That was a massive positive and inspiration to continue.

My first two books ‘By Their Rules’ and ‘A New Menace’ are in their own series, but ‘Nemesis’ and ‘Vengeance’ are a different series (The Badge and the Pen series). I needed to change publisher so needed to create a new series. It took me a further year of rejections and then I was offered two contacts in the same week! I am now happily signed with the marvellous Endeavour Press.       

What was the first reaction of people?

You really do feel naked when your first book is published and you are awaiting the first reaction from readers and reviewers. I’ve been very fortunate to have received hugely supportive and positive feedback to date. But I’m never complacent; you are only as good as your last book/review.  

Did the publishers want to change a lot? All? Nothing? Did you agree? Or stick to your guns and find someone else?

An interesting question; before my first book was signed, one publisher rejected it but asked for a re-write to reduce it by a third! They were very prescriptive in which episodes they wanted removing. I did the work and then resubmitted, only for them to reject it and ask for no further work to be done! That left me with two very different versions of the book. I chose to stick with the original and drop the abridged version which proved to be the correct decision.

What input did you have on the cover? Font? Etc. …

You are asked your opinion, but the decisions are already made at this stage bar minor tweaks. The cover design is part of the publisher’s brand so it is understandable that they make the decisions. When I was researching who to approach, looking at the cover designs of other books published by a particular publisher is important. I always thought Endeavour Press’ were stunning.

If you could do it all again, what would you change?

Perhaps if I’d taken on some more training before I started I might have saved myself a lot of pain from that first critical critique; that said, it was just the kick up then pants I needed.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, guests posts and your chance to win paperback copies of “Nemesis” and “Vengeance”.

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I am delighted to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for “Burden of Truth” by Pete Best and share a piece written by the author.

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Egocentric Brent Sandler knows he needs to change his life for the better. He’s hit rock bottom, penniless and in deep trouble as he discovers an awful tragedy lying in wait. The problem is, he knows this tragedy is all down to him and his past actions. Now he’s determined to put things right as the consequences of these actions are rapidly making their mark.

Meanwhile in Bodhgaya India, Peter Cannon has just made a shocking discovery that will change his life forever. Like Brent, he must come to terms with his guilt. But his past, his secret and the woman he loves are slowly hunting him down.

And if they find him, questions will be asked.

The tale of The Burden of Truth is a suspenseful thriller of how these two men are pulled apart and then drawn together as each man tries to fulfil his own quest for happiness. But they are soon to find out this quest is thwart with love, as well as danger, and both are lurking just around the corner.

You can buy a copy of “The Burden of Truth” here via Amazon


A Question of Theme.

Quite a bit back in the local coffee shop a group of young girls doing a project in school wanted to ask me some questions about writing.

At the time I was rather flattered when they approached me so I asked them why they picked on me?

The answer came back because they didn’t know anyone else to ask!

Okay, perhaps I wasn’t so flattered at this point but I was still more than happy to help.

So, the first question from one very keen young girl was, “What makes a good book?”

Well I took a deep breath and started to give the standard answer I normally give to what seems to be a very popular question.

“Okay,” I said. “A good book always has many elements to it. “For example, the story must grip the reader from the start. It must also have some very interesting characters and a very good plot.” I may have slipped in a few others at the time but I think that would have been the general gist of it.

However, at the end of the answer the look on her face told me she was a little disappointed in what I had said. It was obvious she had heard all this before and that perhaps she was looking for just that little bit extra.

I then quickly rattled my brain and tried my best to come up with something else to say about the subject. So the best I could come up with was that, “We also need to bring all of these under one umbrella and give the story a theme.”

She looked at me rather puzzled. Then she asked me to explain what exactly did I mean, the story should have a theme.”

So there I was thinking, what can I tell this young lady about theme?

“It’s the feeling of the story,” I answered quickly. “It’s about what the book is trying to tell us and the idea behind it. Not so much the storyline of the novel but more along the lines of what the message of the book is and what the writer is trying to say to us.”

Now the girl looked a bit happier, however she still asked me to explain a bit more.

“Think of it this way.” I continued, “A story may be about a certain plot. For example a crime novel may be about an unfortunate murder and the detective is trying to solve the case. A very simple plot sure, but that is what the story is about. However, part of this story may be about the thoughts of the detective. Perhaps there may be a strong sub plot be running on the lines of the detective’s fear of failure and what he does to overcome this fear. Or perhaps something like the murderer having some sort of illusions of power over his victims. Both of these examples could easily give the writer an opportunity to put messages into the story. Now we can say these messages could be considered a story theme.”

So at this point I was quite happy with the answer I had just given, however the young lady was still not fully satisfied. She then went on to ask, “Well, how do you start to write a theme into a story?”

Okay, I thought to myself this is now going to be trickier than I thought. Anyhow I started to give some sort of an answer back.

“First you start with the main character of the story. Obviously the main character is the backbone of the story. The writer has to make sure that the reader must understand this man (or woman.) fully. Not just the physical side of him but also what he does, how he thinks, everything about him. The reader must know this character inside and out.”

I then continued quickly before the young girl butted in to ask for a deeper explanation.

“Now let’s go back to our detective’s fear. It’s his own conflict in the story. Now in this case, the writer must make sure that the reader fully understands how and why he has this fear of failure. This part can be built up through the first part of the story. However, towards the end of the story the writer must show how this fear of failure is resolved; providing it is resolved! Remember this is the theme we are talking about not the storyline. It may be that the detective may have caught the killer but perhaps his fears still remain. Towards the end of the story the writer must start to wrap things up and then show how the detective is now feeling.

Perhaps he is now happy he has solved the case. Perhaps in a way he has won some sort of contest with the murderer. However, despite his success his fear of failure still remains, so he has not won his own personal battle.

Now while all of this is going on the writer could then write some message into the story. Perhaps something like; even if one is victorious he might not have progressed in life. He may have been successful in capturing the murderer but in doing so he may still be fearful that he may not be able to solve his next case.

Therefore the message and theme of the story could then be about hollow victories and then pose the question; is being victorious always a good thing?

Well, now I looked at all the young girls writing furiously in their notepads. Strange thing was, I starting to look forward to the next question and I was not disappointed. However, I’ll tell you about that some other time.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for some amazing reviews and guest posts by the author!

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Hello and welcome along to my stop on the blog tour for Laura Gascoigne’s “The Horse’s Arse”, I am delighted to share a guest piece written by Laura on where the idea came from for this novel.

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Description:

Patrick Phelan is an ageing artist who has never made it big but who somehow manages to live on air in a North London suburb.

When not running art classes for amateurs, Patrick wrestles in the shed at the bottom of his garden with his life’s work: a series of visionary canvases of The Seven Seals.

When his wheeler-dealer son Marty turns up with a commission from a rich client for some copies of paintings by modern masters, Phelan reluctantly agrees; it means money for his ex-wife Moira. However the deal with Marty is, typically, not what it seems.

What follows is a complex chain of events involving fakery, fraud, kidnapping, murder, the Russian Mafia and a cast of dubious art world characters. A contemporary spin on Joyce Cary’s classic satire The Horse’s Mouth, The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne is a crime thriller-cum-comic-fable that poses the serious question: where does art go from here?

You can buy a copy of “The Horse’s Arse” via Amazon here.


Where the idea of The Horse’s Arse came from and where it went

Where does any idea come from? A simple idea might drop into your head fully formed, but a novel is never that simple.

After working in the visual arts for 20 years, there were a lot of things about the art world that made me mad and a lot of things about it that made me laugh, depending which side of the bed I had got out of. Some of the writing I do is commentating on the art world, so I get the occasional chance to let off steam, but mostly to a narrow circle of likeminded people. I wanted the chance to reach a broader audience and make them aware of what was going on.

I started my art career when I fell into a job of editing the practical art magazine Artists & Illustrators. I had gone there as a part-time editor’s secretary to earn pin money while my kids were in primary school, and they sacked the editor and gave me the job. It was in 1994, three years before the advertising mogul Charles Saatchi put on the notorious exhibition Sensation at The Royal Academy that launched the YBAs – Young British Artists – into the public consciousness. Before then, nobody but a few avant-garde curators took contemporary art seriously; after it, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and co became household names and tabloid celebrities.

From the perspective of Artists & Illustrators, this was a strange phenomenon. The artists we featured in the magazine were mostly traditional painters of landscapes, portraits, flowers, still life etc. (We drew the line at cuddly kittens.) They ranged from Royal Academicians at the top end to scuffling bohemians at the bottom. We would get them into the studio for step-by-step art shoots and photograph them in action, which was fascinating to watch – a mesmerising performance. This was the time when the idea of ‘performance art’ was just taking off on the other, fashionable side of the art world divide.

One day I did an interview with an artist in his 60s who had painted some wonderful pictures of the Thames at Wapping. He had been working in an old warehouse in Clink Street, as it happens, and some fashionable young artists had dropped in to watch him. He described how they stared at him as if he had come from another world and was engaged in some bizarre performance. That’s when the idea came to me that painting was the ultimate artistic performance, and the seed of the story of The Horse’s Arse was planted.

What I needed next, of course, was a plot. I knew that most people knew very little about how the art world functions and probably cared less, but I also knew that they were fascinated with the idea of paintings selling for obscene sums of money, especially if they were fakes. I thought if I gave the book a thriller format – punchy dialogue and quick cutting between scenes – the plot might drive people on to turn the pages and find out how the art world works without noticing. As the plot developed, a whole cast of characters just seemed to materialise out of nowhere. They took the story in different directions, and before I knew it there were several plotlines weaving themselves into a complex plot.

I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t turn down paying work to write the novel, so I had to squeeze it in between writing commissions, a week here, a couple of weeks there. I didn’t always have time to read back what I had written and sometimes things happened that didn’t fit and the plot had to be rejigged to accommodate them, which added unforeseen layers of complexity. I don’t think I could have sat down and plotted the whole thing at the start, if I had I would have got bored writing it. This way, the story acquired a life of its own and I was following it out of curiosity to see where it went.

In fact, the whole process was very like making a painting, which has to be worked and reworked before the image comes together. We watch the book’s hero, Patrick Phelan, doing something similar as he wrestles with his series of paintings of The Seven Seals. In the end he succeeds in finding a home for the paintings he has been working on for half his life. I hope I will have similar success in finding readers for the novel he has inspired!


My thanks to Laura for joining me today and sharing that with us, it’s always interesting to find out where an author finds inspiration for their novels.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews and other fantastic content!

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