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Archive for April, 2018

I am so excited to share a guest post today that was written by L J Morris, the author behind Desperate Grounds, an action packed thriller published by Bloodhound Books as part of the pre publication blog tour.

 

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When the secrecy of a nuclear weapon agreement is thrown into doubt, a disgraced intelligence operative is recruited to find out if the deal is still safe…

Ali Sinclair, wrongly convicted and on the run from a Mexican prison, is enlisted to infiltrate her old friend’s inner circle and find the evidence.

The only people on her side are an ex-Cold War spook and the former Royal Marine that was sent to find her. Together they discover that the stakes are much higher than anyone knew, and the fate of the world is at risk…

But when you live in the shadows who can you trust?

 

You can buy a copy of Desperate Grounds via Amazon UK

 

Guest Post:

Character Building

Whenever I start to write a new story, I usually have an idea of who the main character will be and how the scene that will introduce them plays out. That scene can change dramatically, as it did for Desperate Ground, but it gives me a starting point.

When I sat down to finally begin writing Desperate Ground I already had two of the main characters in my head, Ali Sinclair and Frank McGill.

I’d created Frank McGill for two short pieces that I’d written a couple of years earlier. He had an existing back story and had developed over the course of the stories. I felt like I knew him, and he would be perfect for my novel. Originally, McGill was the main character in Desperate Ground, but I soon realised that that had to change.

McGill is an ex Royal Marine, fiercely loyal and used to taking orders but, now he is a civilian, he can pick and choose who he takes orders from. With that in mind, what would his motivation be? He has no love for the authorities so why would he work for them? That’s when I realised he couldn’t be the lead protagonist. With his recent past and death of his wife and unborn child, he was more likely to tip over the edge and become one of the bad guys. I needed him to have a reason to get involved and risk everything. I needed him to have a cause he was willing to die for. As McGill has no family or friends, I had to create another person that he cares about. That’s where Ali Sinclair came in. McGill’s motivation would be to help her. She would be the main protagonist and McGill would be her backup, her bodyguard.

Ali Sinclair is loosely based on someone I know. A young woman who served on the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan. She later became a private military contractor before moving into civilian security and close protection. Those experiences on their own would make the basis of a good character but there was more.

The real woman I based Sinclair on is as hard as nails when it’s needed but, as anyone who knows her will tell you, she also has a heart of gold. People who meet her today would only see the loving mother and care worker she became when she left the security business. She spends her time helping others, but underneath that is the tough military veteran who shouldn’t be messed with. That contradiction in her personality intrigued me and the character of Ali Sinclair was born.

Sinclair is angry at her treatment after being abandoned by those that she expected to help her. She too has no family and sees McGill as an older brother, the only person she can rely on. She is the dominant personality in the relationship and keeps McGill in line. She makes the tough decisions and prevents McGill from giving in to some of his darker aspects.

When I created the rest of the team, I wanted characters that I could grow and reuse in further stories. Not just the two other members of the main team, Simeon Carter and Danny Kinsella, but also some of the secondary characters. I’ve always enjoyed series which use recurring characters. I think it gives the reader a feeling of familiarity. The world in the books seems more real as characters you’ve already met reappear at different times and in different plots.

Simeon Carter, the old Cold War spook, and Danny Kinsella, the younger tech savvy computer expert, are a combination of characters in books I’ve read, film or TV series I’ve seen or people I’ve met. All the years I spent reading any genre I could get my hands on have now paid off. I have a built-in library of different traits and flaws from various influences that I can combine to form new characters. There are definitely some similarities between Simeon Carter and characters in the classic Cold War novels of Len Deighton and John le Carre, but also characters in TV programmes I grew up with. This also holds true for the villains I create. Although they are less likely to be based on people I know.

The other major ingredient in any story I write is the location. I was once told to think of location as another character and treat it the same. So, I tend to base locations on real places I have visited, although sometimes I combine actual places with made up ones.

A large part of Dangerous Ground takes place in Texas, a part of the world I lived in for a while. Many of the scenes are from memories I have but some of the locations are a combination of different places. For instance, the Houston motel that appears in one of the chapters is a description of a real place I stayed, whereas the ranch is based on different buildings including the secure apartment complex I lived in.

Occasionally, I need a specific location that I have no experience of at all. That’s where research takes over. Google maps is fantastic to get an idea of what an area looks like but, to get an idea of the feeling of a place, various travel guides and travelogues are my favourite place to look. Once I can picture the place in my mind, I describe it as if I was telling someone about a recent holiday trip.

To sum it up, I will use any influence I can to create a character, which is why I’ve warned all my friends that parts of a character’s personality might seem a little familiar.

I’m sure you will agree that’s a fascinating piece, I always love knowing where authors get their ideas for characters from.  I really like the idea that there are similarities between the characters in this and in some of my favourite novels from the masters such as le Carre and Deighton, cannot wait to read this one!

 

About the Author:Profile 1_LJM

L J Morris is an author with a love of books and storytelling that he developed as a child.

After a career in the Royal Navy, which spanned most of the 80s and 90s, he settled back in Cumbria and soon realised that an unsuccessful attempt to write a serial killer novel at the age of 12 hadn’t blunted his ambitions.

He started to write again and has enjoyed success with his short stories appearing in several anthologies. Although he still enjoys writing short stories, his passion has always been for thriller novels and he has spent the last few years following his dream of being a published novelist.

Social Media Links:

www.ljmorrisauthor.com

www.facebook.com/LesJMorris

https://twitter.com/LesJMorris

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First Monday Crime is always exciting, and when I got a sneaky look at the authors lined up for 30th April I struggled to pick which book(s) to feature, there were so many brilliant authors on the list!
Eventually I tossed a coin and picked Cathi Unsworth’s That Old Black Magic as my read to share with readers of The Quiet Knitter blog.

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** My thanks to Serpent’s Tail for my copy of this book and the awesome folk at First Monday Crime for having me as part of the reviewer panel **

 

Description:

April 1943: four boys playing in Hagley Woods, Worcestershire make a gruesome discovery. Inside an enormous elm tree, there is the body of a woman, her mouth stuffed with a length of cloth. As the case goes cold, mysterious graffiti starts going up across the Midlands: ‘Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?’

To Ross Spooner, a police officer working undercover for spiritualist magazine Two Worlds, the messages hold a sinister meaning. He’s been on the track of a German spy ring who have left a trail of black magic and mayhem across England, and this latest murder bears all the hallmarks of an ancient ritual.

At the same time, Spooner is investigating the case of Helen Duncan, a medium whose messages from the spirit world contain highly classified information. As the establishment joins ranks against Duncan, Spooner must face demons from his own past, uncover the spies hiding beneath the fabric of wartime society – and confront those who suspect that he, too, may not be all he seems …

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The moment I read the description of this book I was hooked, WWII setting, spies, black magic … what more could I ask for?!

This is an interesting historical novel that gives readers a glimpse into a dark side of WWII that they may not have encountered before.  The clever blending of fact and fiction amalgamates in a fascinating read that details the use of the occult by the Nazis in their strategies to win the war.

The detective entrusted with the investigation into the case of tracking down the traitors to the British war effort and German spies is DS Ross Spooner, an Aberdonain lad who grew up in an antique bookshop.  This bookish early life being hugely beneficial, sparking an interest in the occult and such like.  His work with MI5 bringing him into contact with many occurrences to investigate the occult circles and practices.
Spooner is a character that I took a liking to, perhaps it was his connection to my home town … but he was an intelligent and thoughtful character that does that needs to be done in order to solve a case or get answers, even if they turn out to be ones he’d rather not get.

This is a very detailed book and one with a plot that keeps readers guessing.  There are factual characters that readers will recognise as well as ones based loosely on real people, The Chief being one such character who was based on Maxwell Knight, one of the great spymasters of the 20th century.

The plot is one that’s hard to do justice to in a short review, and equally one that I don’t think I want to break down in my review, there are subtitles that could potentially spoil this book for others but I will say that it keeps readers on their toes, provides them with questions as well as answers and pulls them in with a hypnotic danger that is eerie and haunting.

Unsworth has done some brilliant research for her novel and I have to say that this sparked a little bit of my inquisitive nature and I want to find out more, there are things I want to look into myself, satisfy my curiosity.  She has pulled together some brilliant strands of plotting to weave a novel that will have readers wondering about the possibilities of the supernatural world and the power it holds over people.

You can buy a copy of That Old Black Magic via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

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Cathi Unsworth began a career in journalism at nineteen on the music weekly Sounds, and has since worked for many music, arts, film and alternative lifestyle journals. She is the author of five other novels, Without the Moon, Weirdo, The Not Knowing, The Singer and Bad Penny Blues, and the editor of the award-winning crime compendium London Noir, all published by Serpent’s Tail. She lives in London.

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Another Monday has rolled around, and so that means that that it’s time for another exciting First Monday Crime evening in London!  The authors featuring are superb, each brilliant in their own right and have all written some fantastic books!

So I shall attempt to share my review of Blue Night by Simone Buchholz, from February …

The Quiet Knitter

Today to Celebrate Indie Publishing I am delighted to share a book from the amazing Orenda Books, a publisher who brings exceptional books to the hands of readers around the world and I’m pleased to say that today’s offering is one such book!

Blue Night cover final

** My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

Description:

After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital – almost every bone in his body broken, a finger cut off, and…

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** My thanks to the wonderful Karen Sullivan for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller
Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Clever claustrophobic reads are in, and this book falls under that heading.  What Louise Voss has done here is write a superbly intelligent thriller that makes you wonder what to trust and who to believe.

I want to avoid saying anything that relates to the plot of this book through fear of hinting as to what goes on in this book, but suffice to say, this is one book that caught be completely off guard.  There’s a creeping unease that leeches from the pages, the reader knows that Ed’s diagnosis of early-onset dementia could shatter the idyllic world that Lynn and Ed have created, but there’s no way of knowing how bad it might get.

Lynn Naismith is a character that I found that I wanted to understand, the early hints about her made me curious.  Just how did she meet Ed, what was it that she saw in him when they met, what did she give up to be with him?  There were times whilst reading that I didn’t quite understand her motivations and could not necessarily agree with her actions but nonetheless, this didn’t stop me from caring about the character.  And as I read on, I found that I became more invested in her, I was soon caught up with what was happening to her and frantically trying to untangle the events around her to make sense of what she was facing.  Don’t you just love when a character becomes so tangible and you try to work out what might happen to then if various things occur?

The plotting of this is excellent, the build up is paced perfectly.  The reader is lulled in, not realising that Louise Voss has woven a web of intricate darkness around them until it’s too late.  There’s always a point in a book that you get to where you know that you’re not going to be able to put the book down and absolutely have to keep reading to find out what happens and Voss really knows how to bait the chapters perfectly.
It’s slick, it’s impressive and it’s addictive reading!

Louise Voss is a name that will be appearing on my “must read” list from now on!

 

You can buy a copy of The Old You via:

Amazon UK
Orenda Book eBookstore

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Today’s Celebrating Indie Publishing features a brilliant book that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and I am so thrilled to share an extract from Rebellious Spirits with you.

Rebellious Spirits was published by Elliot and Thompson on 19th April 2018 and is available to purchase now via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository
Waterstones


Description:Rebellious Spirits PC rev.indd

A delicious taste of the secret, exciting and often dangerous history of illicit spirits

Britain has always been a nation of enthusiastic drinkers. Any attempt to regulate, limit or ban our favourite tipple has been met with imaginative and daring acts of defiance: selling gin through pipes in a London back alley; smuggling brandy across Cornish clifftops; or dodging bombs and shrapnel running whisky in the Blitz.

The history of spirits in Britain has more illicit in it than licit – and that history has shaped these isles. Packed with wild stories, as well as authentic recipes from the past, Rebellious Spirits reveals the colourful characters and tall tales behind Britain’s long and lively love affair with booze.


The extract that I have to share with you today is on wartime cocktails, so sit back and enjoy!

We’ll Drink Again extract – Rebellious Spirits by Ruth Ball

It wasn’t just alcoholic drinks that were in short supply: production had stopped of most fizzy drinks and cordials too, leading to a terrible shortage of mixers for long drinks. Creativity and substitution came into their own here as well. No lime cordial to make a gimlet? Try a teaspoonful of lime curd! None of that either? Luckily the Ministry of Food were offering a recipe that made the best of a limited supply of citrus and egg to make an economy curd.

Lemon Curd:

1oz margarine; 1 level tablespoonful cornflour; 1 lemon (2, if small); ¼ pint water; 5oz granulated sugar; 1 egg

Peel the rind off the lemons, put into the water and bring to the boil. Beat the egg and cornflour, add the lemon juice and strain the boiling water over. Return to the pan, add the sugar and stir over heat 3 mins. Add the margarine and stir it in well, bottle immediately.

Ministry of Food advisory (1943)

THE ALCHEMIST’S VERSIONS

For the gimlet:

2 tsp lime curd (you can make the wartime curd below, or use shop-bought)

25ml water

50ml gin

Spoon the lime curd into the bottom of a short tumbler and add the water slowly, stirring well as you do. Add the gin and give it another good stir, then add ice and serve. It’s not quite the same as it was before the war, but it’s not too bad.

For the lime curd:

Zest and juice of 2 limes

150ml water

1 egg

1 tbsp cornflour

150g sugar

30g margarine

Put the lime zest and water into a large pan and bring to the boil. While it is coming to the boil, beat the egg and sprinkle over the cornflour a little at a time, stirring continuously to prevent lumps. Then add the juice of both limes, a little at a time. Once the water has boiled, pass it through a sieve into a jug, then immediately add it to the egg while stirring. Transfer everything back to the pan and add the sugar. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring back to the boil and simmer for 3 mins. Mix in the margarine and then bottle as for carrot marmalade (see page 188), or simply pour into a small bowl for immediate use.

Technically, for authenticity, your margarine should be made of whale oil; but since this is both disgusting and now illegal, it is fine to stick with something based on vegetable oil.

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It’s always exciting when you get a sneaky peek of a new book cover, and I have to say that when the AWESOME damppebbles told me she was organising blog tours and had a book cover to share I jumped at the chance……and she’s a real book fairy cause she’s offering you the chance to get a free short story written by Russell Day!  Read on my bookish chums…..

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Book Blurb:
Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn’t her husband.

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the

adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it.

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth – but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.

 

You ready for the cover?!

 

 

 

 

needle song

 

FREE RUSSELL DAY SHORT STORY IN EXCHANGE FOR A TWEET:

Russell Day came to Fahrenheit Presses attention when they asked for submissions for their NOIRVILLE short story competition.  A panel of judges placed Day’s stories in first AND SECOND place!  Only one of the stories features in the NOIRVILLE anthology which means we’re giving the second story away for FREE, you lucky people!…….(well, free in exchange for a tweet!).

To receive a copy of Russell Day’s award-winning story, make sure you’re following @damppebbles (so you can receive the DM with the download links) and then tweet the following:

NEEDLE SONG by Russell Day (@rfdaze) published by @fahrenheitpress in eBook on Monday 30th April! #NeedleSongBook | @damppebbles.

http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_fahrenheit.html

No retweets, it has to be a shiny new tweet otherwise it won’t count!  Any problems then please contact @damppebbles.

 

About the Author:

Russell Day

Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s has always been a miserable bastard.

 

 

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Today I have a mini review to share as part of the blog tour for Kjell Ola Dahl’s The Ice Swimmer.

The Ice Swimmer AW.indd

** My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my copy of this & Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

 

Description:

When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated. Not only is she dealing with a cancer scare, a stalker and an untrustworthy boyfriend, but it seems both a politician and Norway’s security services might be involved in the murder.
With her trusted colleagues, Gunnarstranda and Frølich, at her side, Lena digs deep into the case and finds that it not only goes to the heart of the Norwegian establishment, but it might be rather to close to her personal life for comfort. Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.

My Thoughts & Review:

I do love dipping my toe into Nordic Noir, and what better author to act as lifeguard than the awesome Kjell Ola Dahl.  For those unfamiliar with this author, I would urge you to check out his books, they are utterly brilliant and authentic.

The Ice Swimmer is a well plotted police procedural that keeps readers guessing throughout.  There’s a darkness that this book exudes, it’s so cleverly twisted and and full of suspense.  Whilst the pacing may not be breakneck speed, it works perfectly with the plot, complimenting it.  The investigation is thrilling and complex, but the glimpses into the lives of the team are what really makes this a such an enthralling read.  There’s something so realistic about the characters, but more so when you see the looks into their personal lives, this authenticity makes them come alive, even if their names are almost impossible to get your tongue around.
The atmospheric setting is beautifully written, Oslo is so crisp and vivid.

The translation by Don Bartlett is as ever seamless, none of the subtle nuances are lost when the work was translated into English.

You can buy a copy of The Ice Swimmer via:

Amazon UK
Orenda eBookstore

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** My thanks to Sarah at Bloodhound Books for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

While Inspector Jim Carruthers and team are busy investigating a series of art thefts they receive an anonymous tip about the body of a young woman on a deserted beach.

The bizarre clues to her identity, and what might have happened to her, include a strange tattoo, a set of binoculars and slab of meat left on the cliffs.

The team’s investigations lead them to a local shooting estate and its wealthy owner Barry Cuthbert. However, Carruthers suspects Cuthbert is not all he seems and the DI soon starts to wonder if the cases of the missing works of art, the dead woman and the estate are connected.

Then when the body of a young gamekeeper is pulled from the sea tensions boil over. The trail of clues lead the team to the unlikely locale of Tallinn and into the sinister world of international crime and police corruption.

Needing answers Carruthers must look further afield than Fife. However, the closer he gets to discovering the truth the more danger he finds himself in.

Since everyone who crosses the vengeful killers seem to end up dead, can Carruthers solve the case with his life in tact?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

From the outset I have to admit to breaking my own rule of reading a series in order, this is the first book of the Jim Carruthers detective series that I’ve read and in all honesty, it reads pretty well as a stand alone novel.  There are enough details about past events revealed to allow readers to understand the characters and their back stories without bogging down the plot in the current novel. 

Jim Carruthers is an interesting character and one that I really took a liking to, he cared about his team (the ones that wanted to be there and actually do the job), he cared about the investigations he was working on and wasn’t afraid to push himself to the limit to get answers, even when it meant putting himself in the line of danger.
There are some truly damaged characters in this novel, some who have managed to move on from the events in their lives and exist more comfortably, but there are some who carry the scars and thoughts with them in their daily life.  The struggles make these characters more relatable and gives them a layer of reality that readers need to connect with them.

The plot is a whirlwind of action and intrigue, a dead body on a beach, binoculars and chunks of meat on a clifftop….just how do these connect?  And with artworks being stolen from their wealthy owners this makes for a case that Carruthers and his team need to solve quickly before anyone else ends up dead.
The investigation leads Carruthers to Estonia and I have to say the pace really does gallop merrily onwards from here, and I found that I was equally intrigued by the events occurring around our protagonist as I was the events from the hotel’s history.  Having an interest in the cold war, I found the links to the hotel’s past fascinating and will definitely be looking into this further.

The descriptions of the settings were really fantastic, having been to some of the wee villages around Fife, I found that I could well imagine the coastal settings and the isolated beach, the steep climb to the tattoo shop (reminded me a little of Pittenweem), giving the reader a wonderful feeling of being able to “see” things in this book.

You can buy a copy of Mark of the Devil via Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Profile Picture 2017

Edinburgh based Tana Collins is the author of the popular Jim Carruthers detective series set in Fife. Her debut novel, Robbing the Dead, published February 2017, became a No 1 Amazon bestseller for Scottish crime fiction.  Care to Die, the follow up in the series, also became a Top 10 Amazon bestseller. Published on 1st June 2017 Care to Die was described by Peter Robinson, author of DCI Banks,  as  “A finely plotted mystery. Tana Collins racks up the suspense on this one. DI Jim Carruthers is a cop to watch.”  In September 2017 having won one of the coveted Spotlight places at Bloody Scotland Tana supported Lynda La Plante on stage.

Her third novel, Mark of the Devil, is to be published 24th April 2018. Author Leigh Russell writes of it, “A cracking read. The suspense never lets up.”

Tana is a trained Massage Therapist and Stress Management Consultant.

 

Social Media Links:

Website: tanacollins.com

Twitter: @TanaCollins7

Author Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Tana-Collins-490774634440829

 

B L O G B L I T Z

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Today I am thrilled to share a guest post written by John Marley for the blog tour for his latest book Godsend.  Not only does Godsend sound like a really interesting read, the author behind the book has a wonderfully delightful sense of humour but I do think he should maybe look into buying some ear plugs for his wife….

Description:J.A. Marley - Godsend_cover_high res

It has been eighteen months since Danny Felix pulled off the robbery of his life.  His plan brought London to a standstill, but at a heavy price.

Now, living a quiet life running a charter fishing business in the Florida Keys, Danny is trying to come to terms with the death and destruction he had unwittingly unleashed. However, the low profile is beginning to wear thin and he soon starts to crave the adrenalin rush of his former criminal ways. 

Little does he know that three very different women are about to enter his life and turn it upside-down. Soon Danny finds himself right back in the action.

But why has he been chosen? And does he have the appetite to pull off another job where the stakes are so lethally high?

You can buy a copy of Godsend via Amazon UK

 

Shhhh! Don’t wake the Mrs!

 

When I finally managed to become a full-time writer, the one thing I wasn’t expecting was the lost sleep.

It’s not so chronic that it could be called insomnia, but there are long periods when I’m writing my books that are clearly defined by one thing. Bleedin’ characters waking me up at around 4.30am to poke and prod me about a plot point or development.  An idea for a set piece sequence might rouse me, or the motivation for a secondary character’s sudden burst of violence might cause me to toss and turn. I might have to sit bolt upright because of a sudden realisation that a I have to kill this one or that one to give my plot an added burst of momentum.

So why are you complaining, you ask…. isn’t this all adding to productivity, the onerous word count, the dreaded deadline? Well, yes…but why does it have to come to me with such a bolt at an indecent hour? I quite like my sleep…I definitely like my bed.

In an effort to facilitate a swift return to the land of nod, I have tried all sorts of things.  First was the pen and notepad by the bed.  Now, in theory that is all well and good, except I tried to do this without putting the light on so as not to wake the Mrs.  I’d scribble down my creative titbits and nestle back into my pillow secure in the knowledge that the inspiration had been captured for use later.  Except… at that time of night my handwriting is a bit like a spider who has enjoyed a few light ales, a half bottle pf whiskey and a late-night curry before knocking over an inkpot and scurrying across my notepad.  Indecipherable?  Pretty much.  It might as well have been written in hieroglyphics.

Next up I tried using the voice notes recorder on my phone. Scrabbling half-awake to get to my phone, wake it up, remember my lock screen code, find the app, get it going and then start whispering into it like a wildlife presenter in the midst of a whoop of gorillas. This didn’t work.  Because when I listened back to these mid-night musings, I sounded like I had downed the beer, the whisky and the curry.  It also caused the Mrs to stir…not good!!

So, what’s an insomniac scribbler to do?  I gave up and gave in. I get up, pad to the bathroom, get my dressing gown, affectionately known as Wuffly Bear in my house, and descend the stairs. Now this sounds all well and good right? Wrong!  We have two cocker spaniels.  They sleep at the foot of our bed.  If I get up they instantly assume it is either a) breakfast time or B) breakfast time.  Our bedroom has wooden floors. The food dance then breaks out, where our dogs spin in celebration of their imminent feast.  This sounds something like a Hollywood studio floor when Fred and Ginger are going at it for all their tap dancing worth. Little claws pinging about the place at four in the morning.  Needless to say, the Mrs stirs.

So, I have now developed an almost stealth like method of sliding soundlessly from under the sheets and across the bedroom to fetch Wuffly Bear.  As you can imagine this takes patience and time. When I eventually make it down the stairs, it’s laptop powered up, kettle on, backside in chair and write. Phew!

My first two books have been crafted in this manner, and whilst I am usually a grumpy sod due to lack of sleep, I have to admit that in these moments, I am actually quite chipper, because at the end of the day I’m very blessed to be able to spend my days (and nights) pursuing my dream of being an author.  So what if it wakes me up? So what if I have to creep round my own house like Santa Claus on the 24th December?  I’m the lucky one. I get to be creative and hopefully, along the way, readers will be thrilled, enthralled, surprised and entertained.  I can think of no other pursuit that it’s worth losing sleep over.  I’m very blessed.  The Mrs on the other hand…

 

About the Author:

John Marley, 27April2016, photographer Bronac McNeill

John A. Marley’s writing career started with a poem about two brothers who both liked sausages…their names were Butch and Dutch and his Primary School teacher Mr. Murray liked it so much it made the main noticeboard at the entrance to Holy Child Primary School in West Belfast.  A little older but none the wiser, he ended up as a film journalist in his native Northern Ireland, contributing to local newspapers, BBC Radio Ulster and latterly writing as the main film critic for the glossy magazine, Northern Woman.

John’s love of good stories came from the Irish predilection for telling a good yarn and the fact that there was nothing quite like sneaking away his Dad’s battered paperbacks to read even though he knew they were meant for adults and not kids. And so pulp fiction such as The Edge Westerns by George G. Gilman, the adventure novels of Alistair MacLean and the thrillers of Jack Higgins all served to whet his appetite for a good story told at pace.

These days, his reading tastes still focus on thrills, spills and good plot and he can’t walk by a James Lee Burke or an Elmore Leonard without pausing to read a few pages…even if it is in a busy bookshop.

John A. Marley is also a TV producer with a proven track record in creating and producing distinctive, original entertainment and factual programming and formats for both a UK and international audience. His eclectic portfolio of high-profile shows include Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside the RAFBritain’s Flying PastStaraokeBest of FriendsSkatoonyNoel’s House PartyThrough the KeyholeSMTV:Live/CD:UKHow Euro Are You? and live coverage of “The Oscars” with Barry Norman.

John runs his own production company Archie Productions which he launched in 2008. Prior to setting up his own indie, John enjoyed a wide and varied career in television will creative roles at Talent Television, Planet 24, Carlton Television and Walt Disney UK. John’s broadcast media career started in his native Northern Ireland as a radio host.

Godsend is the follow up to John’s debut novel, Standstill in which we first met master thief Danny Felix.

Social Media Links:

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It’s Friday, so that means it’s time to celebrate another independently published author and their book.  Today’s book in the spotlight is The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter written by Cherry Radford.  It was published by Urbane Publications on 5th April 2018 and is available to purchase now.


Book Feature

Description:

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After the break-up of her marriage, Imogen escapes to her aunt’s converted lighthouse on Beachy Head. Writing for a tedious online magazine but hoping to start a novel, she wants to be alone until she finds an entrancing flamenco CD in her borrowed car and contacts the artist via Twitter. It turns out that actor-musician Santiago needs help with English, and is soon calling her profesora.

Through her window, the other lighthouse winks at her across the sea. The one where her father was a keeper, until he mysteriously drowned there in 1982. Her aunt is sending extracts from his diary, and Imogen is intrigued to learn that, like her and Santi, her father had a penfriend.

Meanwhile, despite their differences Imogen is surrounded by emotional and geographical barriers, Santi surrounded by family and land-locked Madrid their friendship develops. So, she reads, did her father’s but shocking revelations cause Imogen to question whether she ever really knew him.

Two stories of communication: the hilarious mistakes, the painful misunderstandings, and the miracle or tragedy of finding someone out there with whom you have an unforeseen, irresistible connection.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter is a unique book that opens with a wonderful playlist of tracks to play whilst reading the book, giving the reader a glimpse of the important role that music plays.  The connection of music is what draws two characters together, one a musician in Madrid and the other a journalist/author in Beachy Head.  The discovery of a CD in a borrowed car leading to a friendship between the two and setting off a chain of events that lead to self discoveries and uncover long buried secrets.

Imogen has sought the sanctuary of her aunt’s lighthouse following the break up of her marriage, relishing the peace and tranquility that the remote setting offers her, despite missing her teenage son terribly.  However, her sadness is only magnified when you realise that the lighthouse she is staying in has another in it’s view, the one that her father worked at and subsequently lost his life at.
The backdrop of the setting is poetically offset with the struggles that Imogen has to work through.  Heartache is something that Imogen has experienced before, but the diary extracts she reads from her father rock her and throw her into a deeper turmoil.

Musician and actor Santiago Montoya in Madrid is working on a soap opera and not able to spend as much time working on his music as he’d like, his band no longer performing.  He begins learning English in the hopes that it might open new opportunities up for him in his career and is one day surprised when a tweet comes from a woman in England saying how much she connected with this music, how it made her feel alive, made her “feel”.

Their connection through Twitter is like the beginnings of a modern day love story, social media linking them from one country to another.  Imogen’s personality shines through her messages to Santiago, her chatty happiness positively glows from the pages.   The easiness of their friendship makes for enjoyable reading, the budding friendship between them grows, Imogen helping Santi with his English and he in turn helping her with her Spanish.

The story of Imogen’s father is one that slowly unravels throughout the book, and one that I found I was desperately hooked upon, wanting to discover what drove him to take the course of action he decided upon.  The diary extracts give a great insight into the mind of her father, and an alternative view to Imogen of events from her childhood.

Themes of relationships and emotion are a huge part of the plot, this is a book that takes readers on a journey along with the characters.
Vivid descriptions of the settings help to transport the readers, from the rocky, windswept Beachy Head to the sunny and continental Madrid.

An enjoyable escape.

You can buy a copy of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter via:

Amazon UK

 


Author Feature:

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Cherry Radford was a keyboard player in a band, a piano teacher at the Royal Ballet School and an optometrist/post-doctoral researcher at Moorfields Eye Hospital before suddenly starting her first novel in the middle of a scientific conference in 2009.

Following the publication of Men Dancing (2011) and Flamenco Baby (2013) by a small Brighton-based independent, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter is her first novel with Urbane Publications.

Cherry lives in Eastbourne and Almería (Spain).

She chats about writing and other passions on her BLA BLA LAND blog (https://cherryradforddotblog.wordpress.com), Twitter (@CherryRad), Instagram (cherry_radford) and website (http://cherryradford.co.uk).

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

My favourite thing is being immersed in the world of my novel, particularly in the last few chapters. At that point, I’m way past the dreadful 25K doubting stage, I’ve come through the plot-tangling developments, and I pretty much know how it’s going to end – but love watching how the characters take over and decide the final details. This isn’t the favourite thing for people around me, however; apparently, I behave like a woman in that antsy stage of labour, and… well, on all three occasions I’ve been encouraged to book into a hotel!

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

Although I love Twitter, Instagram and running my BLA BLA LAND blog, I have far too many technotantrums about things like managing photos, uploading stuff and trying to figure out how the hell Goodreads works.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

I love unusual romances that are written for both men and women – what I call People Fiction as opposed to Women’s Fiction. It would have to be one of the stellar examples, such as Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. I am totally in awe of that novel.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

If I’m not plotting, I’m researching, writing or editing a novel – or possibly two of these, on different novels! I’m always reading something – a novel or some non-fiction for research – but spend far too much time Tweeting and Instagramming with all sorts of wonderful people e.g. other authors, flamenco musicians and an engineer who goes around the country fixing lighthouses! I try to swim or walk each day (both great for ideas), and two afternoons a week I have my lovely piano pupils.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

Oh yes. I developed stationeryphilia through years of doing scientific research, and this condition was easily transferred to my writing when I started it nearly ten years ago. I have to write in pocket-size elasticated leather notebooks you can stick a (colour-matched, Pentel) biro into. The sight of a white screen page makes me nervous; I’m much happier scribbling by hand and later filtering as I transfer to the laptop. It also stops me fussing about word count, which I think is a daft way of measuring progress (does a painter count how many tubes of paint he’s using up?). It’s getting through the chapters that counts –  and not irritating readers by having too many words in them. I’m a recumbent writer – bed, sun-lounger or beach rug – but always get my break-through ideas when in the bath or swimming.

What’s on the horizon?  What can your fans look forward to next?

More seaside! I’m writing a saga about a family who own a pier, starting in 1930. At least, I hope I am; I’m still in the dreadful doubting stage.

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be?  

Put down the phone and read – there are so many great novels out there, and only one lifetime to read them in!

Social Media Links:

Blog: https://cherryradforddotblog.wordpress.com)
Twitter: @CherryRad
Instagram: cherry_radford
Website: http://cherryradford.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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