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Archive for the ‘Blog Tour’ Category

Welcome along to another post to celebrate Clink Street Publishing’s Second Annual Blogival!  The event is running from 1st August right through to 31st August across a wealth of wonderful blogs and features some amazing reviews, guest posts and other bookish goodness for you lucky readers!

Today I am delighted to share a fascinating guest piece written by Tony Halker about “The Importance of Keeping Folklore Alive in Today’s Tales”.

 

Description:

The Learn

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.
A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.
At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post:

The Importance of Keeping Folklore Alive in Today’s Tales

We create new folklore every day and and at the same time modify that we carry, that was bred into us by those who cared enough to want to give us ideas and stories that help form who or what we are.

Our parents generation gifted us tales that are a secure constant set of values; we like that and get angry or even emotional when film makers and others change characters that are a part of our folk memory, passed to us by older knowing others. Those film makers like the controversy, it gives them publicity

I expect all generations have modified lore passed to them, though with more subtlety than we do today, as we try to give our children ideas that better reflect societies values, those that we want to pass to them. It is much better if “new folklore” is democratically created by “the people” (whoever we are) rather than is owned, controlled and manipulated to sell soap powder or bottled water.

It has been said that there are only two stories, Cinderella and Romeo and Juliette, one with a happy ending and the other a sad one. Both these tales pass messages to us, are moral tales that should make us think and learn, make the next generation do the same.

I think all stories, whether novels or shorter tales should have a purpose or benefit for the reader beyond filling time while we sit on a train or wait to die.

Over time cultures imbue their folklore and the stories that relate it with the actions and values they want to believe they carry within them and can pass to their children and friends. It tells future generations about us and what we held dear, but perhaps we also filter out reality; we see Robin Hood as a down to earth Lord of the Manor who took to the forest and robbed the evil church and state to give to the poor. If he existed and to do what folklore tells us he did, he was probably a brutal guerilla fighter, a mafiosa who worked the system and played both sides one against the other; he has been romanticised by time and retelling.

Most of us identify with a past in defining who we are. We want to believe we came of a clan-tribe-family that was honourable, brave, suffered, endured, learnt, cared for others and fought for what is right. Each of us want to believe we could have drawn Excalibur from the stone, fought with King Arthur or against the evil King John. Hierarchies want heroes, especially in the depth of war or disaster and folklore is made from that, at Dunkirk, Khartoum or Rorkes Drift and then perpetuated by an establishment.

In my stories I am more interested in the tales we have of ordinary folk celebrating the changing seasons, the harvest, the rising of the sun, or even calling to their Deities asking that a warm sun will come again next spring. We have so many perceptions of Beltane, Samhain, the Oakman, the Green Man; of Druid warrior priests leading rites for these important events. My mother used to talk of dancing around the maypole and celebrating spring in what seems a more innocent time from the simplicity of the actions and dance that she remembered with affection and a smile.

In my debut novel “The Learn” I have tried to describe Celtic festivals where ordinary folk jump the fires, offer sacrifices, take lovers, gift offerings to streams, rivers and land as well as to sun sky and moon. I imagine the flowing rivers and seas pull the moon in the wake of their massive ebbs and flows. The ideas and concepts, the seeds of these stories come not from me but from folklore passed down to us and in us. My romantic imagination may play with it but old stories were and are essential for passing on the ideas.

Sometimes folklore keeps alive what may be facts: did Columbus discover America, was it the Vikings or indeed the Phoenecians before them?

Folklore can of course contain what we are beginning to call fake news; did Harold Godwinson really get an arrow in the eye? Did Richard III kill the princes in the tower? Tudor generated folklore says that he did.

Folklore enriches our view of who we are and those we come of, but we must democratise it and not let governments, big corporations and movie makers define it or modify the tales and characters that we care about or the values they propagate.

Folk lore not fake folklore!

About the Author:

Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.

Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/

Blog – http://www.tonyhalker.com/blog

 

Keep up with the posts of the Blogival:

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Hi and welcome along to my stop on the blog tour for “Unforgivable” by Mike Thomas.  This is the second book to feature Will Macready, the first in the series was “Ash and Bones” which I would thoroughly recommend reading (my review of this can be found here).  I’m absolutely delighted to be able to share a guest post today that has been written by Mike, and it’s very inkeeping with his sense of humour, and remember ladies and gents, there are other supermarkets out there if you would prefer their bags….

UnforgivableDescription:

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

You can buy a copy of “Unforgivable” via:

Amazon
Wordery

 


 

How a Bit of Cheek Got My First Novel Published (or ‘Mugging a Publisher’)

Getting your foot in the door of the publishing world is incredibly hard, right?

You write your book, you edit and polish and fret, and when you’re absolutely certain it’s as good as it’s going to get, that it’s going to make an agent or editor sit up and immediately make calls to get you signed, you do it: covering letter (not too long, quickly selling yourself, your novel), synopsis (punchy, intriguing, it has to draw the agent or editor in), three sample chapters (probably the opening, and you’ve made them a thrilling read, right?). Off they go, into the post or via email.

And you wait. And wait. Then you wait a bit more.

During this time your brain does weird things to you. You forget that people can be very busy and won’t respond straight away. When you haven’t heard anything for five hours, you worry that the post office lost the parcel. You think your email got lost in the ether. After two days, you wonder if your letter was a bit rude, or if you’ve managed to upset your chosen agent because the font you’ve used reminds her of an ex-boyfriend’s love letters. After a week you’re convinced the entire publishing industry despises you and you’re the worst writer in the world.

After two months of wretchedness: A LETTER ARRIVES.

You pause, staring at it. Holding it in your hands. Wondering if you will open it… and open up a whole new world.

Of course, it’s a rejection. They usually are. So you spend a day or two feeling numb then pick yourself up and send off another package. Then you and your brain go through it all again. And again. Ad nauseam. You repeat this rigmarole until you’re happy when you receive an electricity bill through the letterbox, just as long as it’s not another ‘We really enjoyed it but it’s not for us I’m afraid’ missive.

I went through all this for years. With three novels. I have hundreds of rejection letters from agents and publishing houses. All of them very polite kicks in the testicles.

By December 2008 I’d had enough.

At this point I’d gone back to university, and was halfway through a Master’s degree. I’d written a novel as part of it: ‘Pocket Notebook’, the tale of a demented police officer whose life comes crashing down around his ears. At regular intervals during the course we would have the chance to listen to and ask questions of guest speakers from the writing world: authors, academics, industry insiders.

For that December it was the Publishing Director of one of the biggest, most respected imprints in the UK, if not the world, who was traveling west from London to talk to us. I won’t name him, for reasons which will become apparent, but he was incredibly interesting to listen to. We sat, rapt, for over an hour as he gave us a glimpse of another world, another life, one that most in the audience aspired to live.

Especially me.

I’ve told you I’d had enough of rejection by this stage. It can do funny things to you. Make you desperate, even. And so, before the speech by the Publishing Director I Won’t Name, I hatched a cunning plan: I gathered the manuscript of ‘Pocket Notebook’, stole a large brown envelope from a University office, and parcelled it all up with my contact details WRITTEN VERY CLEARLY on the front, back, and every side. I ‘casually’ mentioned to my fellow students and several members of the faculty how I wished I could get my book into this publishing chap’s hands. I placed the bulky envelope inside a Tesco carrier bag so that it would be easier to carry on the train back to London, should anybody have to carry it…

And then I sat through the speech and asked some questions and we all really enjoyed it and once it was over and we were having a cup of tea I sidled up to him with the Tesco bag held to my chest and then one of my fellow part-time students – who also just happened to work for another imprint in the same building as the Publishing Director – and several of the faculty formed a small semi-circle in front of him.

And then it happened.

One of them – I can’t recall who – ‘casually’ mentioned that I had written a novel. Then another mentioned that it was half-decent. The Publishing Director nodded and smiled and didn’t actually say ‘no’ so it was then that I seized the moment.

I thrust the carrier bag into his hands.

“This is it,” I squeaked, and gurned at him.

He was incredibly gracious. It was a terribly rude thing to do, but as I’ve said, desperation can make a man do unconscionable things. So Publishing Guy shakes my hand and I stop trembling and the day ended and I went home and that was that.

And, oddly, I forgot all about it. You have to remember that by this point I was a thick-skinned Rejection Veteran, so instead of dreading the worst I simply didn’t think about it. I just went back to work, and Christmas came and went, then New Year, and it’s always a busy time for the police so my mind was on other things, and at this point I had two kids under three years of age and was rather preoccupied.

I was in work, late January 2009 when my wife rang.

I took the call in a side office. Her voice was shaking; I thought something terrible had happened to her or the children.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

And she told me that the Publishing Director had emailed to say he’d read my novel and loved it and wanted to publish it and would I like to come to London to talk about it a little bit more?

I went numb. Thought I’d misheard her. Asked her to read the email again.

Nope, I’d heard right.

I ran around the police station immediately after ending the call. In full uniform, whooping and punching the air. My colleagues watched, shaking their heads.

Why won’t I name this incredibly gracious, gentlemanly Publishing Director? It’s because another imprint came in for the novel soon afterwards… and I went with them instead. So despite what I’d done, and how kind he’d been, and how enthusiastic he was about ‘Pocket Notebook’, I chose somebody else. I used to beat myself up about it, but I’ve learned that, as with any other industry, publishing is a business. You’ve got to do what’s best for you and yours.

Anyway, the next few months were a blur of trips to London and writing articles for magazines and having photographs taken for The Guardian, while publishing people forced books and booze on me wherever I went.

It was a dream come true. And I’m still here. And, I really hope, will be for a while.

So in short: never give up. Keep at it, because you will get there. And sometimes, just sometimes, when the world keeps kicking you in the nuts and you think nobody wants your novel and you’re a terrible writer and you might as well give up… stop, and grab a Tesco carrier bag, and force your work onto people because you never, ever know where it will take you.


A huge thanks to Mike for joining me today and for sharing that with us, I know that it’s given me a fair chuckle!

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LittleBird alegra sans + ancona cd FINAL

Published: 31 July 2017

 

Description:

Some secrets are best kept quiet. Declan Wells, a forensic psychologist, has a lot on his plate. He has been struggling with the aftermath of a car bomb, which has left him in a wheelchair, his wife has been dutiful but Declan is certain she is having an affair, and his eldest daughter Lara’s new property developer husband, has dubious business practices.

Meanwhile, Anna Cole is running away from her mother’s death and a stale relationship. On secondment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland from Wales, Anna hopes that she can throw herself into work to distract herself from her guilt. Then the murders begin and the killer leaves behind some very strange messages. Can Anna and Declan work together to catch this deranged murderer?

Will either of them be able to get over their turbulent pasts?

My Thoughts & Review:

Little Bird is a gripping read with some very intriguing characters, and a killer that leans heavily towards depraved and gruesome.

Anna Cole leaves her home in Cardiff after the death of her mother, her marriage has come to a stalemate but her husband isn’t fully aware of it yet.  The opportunity for secondment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland affords her the opportunity to make a fresh start, expand on her skills and do some digging into her birth family who originate from Ireland.
In some respects she is a selfish character, taking the secondment without talking it over with her husband or even allowing him to voice an opinion on the matter.  She is also troubled by the cases she has worked previously, which have clearly left a lasting impression on her.  But amidst this, she is juggling the grief of watching her mother slowly die a painful death through cancer.  Some of her motives and actions are questionable, her involvement with certain characters makes the reader want to shout at her to stop.  She walks a very dangerous tightrope at times.
Her quest for answers about her birth mother unearths information that she could never have imagined.

The case that the team are investigating is strange, brutal and seemingly impossible to find connections between the murder victims.  The killer is a depraved individual that the author gives her readers a glimpse into the mindset of, this works well in building the tension throughout, and in some ways keeps readers guessing as to their identity.  But at the same time, there are aspects of the killer that I found hard to read about, being an animal lover I did find the reference to taxidermy and the mistreatment of animals a little uncomfortable to read about.  I wouldn’t say I was squeamish but there was a point in the book that I definitely felt repulsed by the killer, a hat tip to Sharon Dempsey for crafting such a strong character that can evoke that level of disgust and abhorrence.

Overall I would say this is a well written and well thought out book, there is depth to the investigation, lots of history that links in well with the plot without becoming too heavy and there is a very intriguing case for the team to solve.

My thanks to Sarah at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to read this and participate in the blog tour.

You can buy a copy via Amazon

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BLOG TOUR (4)

 

 

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Paperback Published: 27 July 2017

 

Description:

Francesco has a memory of his father from early childhood, a night when life for his family changed: their name, their story, their living place. From that night, he has vowed to protect his mother and to follow the words of his father: Non mollare. Never give up.

When Francesco is rounded up with a group of young men and herded into a camp on the island of San Domino, he realises that someone has handed a list of names to the fascist police; everyone is suspicious of one another. His former lover Emilio is constantly agitating for revolution. His old friend Gio jealously watches their relationship rekindle. Locked in spartan dormitories, resentment and bitterness between the men grows each day.

Elena, a young and illiterate island girl on the cusp of womanhood, is drawn to the handsome Francesco yet fails to understand why her family try to keep her away from him. By day, she makes and floats her paper birds, willing them to fly from the island, just as she wants to herself. Sometimes, she is given a message to pass on. She’s not sure who they are from; she knows simply that Francesco is hiding something. When Elena discovers the truth about the group of prisoners, the fine line between love and hate pulls her towards an act that can only have terrible consequences for all.

My Thoughts & Review:

Mussolini’s Island was a book that I was first aware of via a review from another blogger, Mairead over at Swirl and Thread wrote an exceptionally powerful review that grabbed my attention and had me desperate to read this book for myself.

Set against the backdrop of Fascist Italy, Sarah Day takes her readers deep into the heart of part of history that many know little about, the drive to rid Sicily of  degenerates, deviants and those who would cast a shadow on the great Italian name.  Benito Mussolini, leader of the National Fascist Party founded Italian Fascism, and Prime Minister between 1922-1943, made it practically impossible for homosexuality to exist in his ideal of a fascist Italy.  And so, the confinement of gay and bisexual men was was enforced on the outlying islands of the country.  Here we follow one group who were sent to San Domino.

Our protagonist, Francesco touches the hearts of readers as he recounts early memories of his father and life before Sicily.  Soon we learn that he and his mother fled their home in Naples to being afresh in Catania, with new names and a new history.  For Francesco, hiding his true identity comes as second nature, and when he begins to question his sexuality this is yet another secret he keeps close to his heart.  He some drifts towards the local arrusi, young men and boys meeting up in the shelter of darkened alleyways, dancehalls etc to spend time with their lovers for a few short moments of illicit freedom.

The expulsion of the arrusi to the island of San Domino leaves the men stripped of their identities, no longer are they village mechanics, waiters, fathers, friends, but merely an insult to the Italian people.  They are viewed as a contamination that needs to be contained.  The people of San Domino do not want them on their island, but in times of hardship a job is a job, and so if they are to be paid to guard these prisoners then they will do it.

Throughout the book, Francesco remembers vividly the quote his father repeated to him Non Mollare – Never Give Up and that’s exactly what he tries to do.  Regardless of the difficult situation he finds himself in, Francesco looks up, holds his head high and carries on.  He feels strongly that despite having let those around him down, he will do whatever he can to protect his loved ones. 

Sarah Day has written an exceptionally wonderful novel, so full of emotion and detail.  The historical information woven into the tale is fascinating yet at the same time utterly heartbreaking.  I found at several points I wanted to scream out at the injustice of what was happening, the way that the writing brings the story to life is so moving and yet it is handled with such care and devotion.  I cannot say that this was an aspect of history that I knew about, but it’s sparked my need to find out more and I thank Sarah for this.  Not only is this a beautiful book that I will cherish, it’s also made me think about society and what we are willing to tolerate.

You can buy a copy of Mussolini’s Island via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository

My thanks to Millie Seaward at Headline Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this exceptional book and take part in the blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Matt Hilton’s “Marked For Death”, I am delighted to be able to share a guest post with you written by Matt about where the inspiration came for his fantastic character Joe Hunter.

 

Description:

Marked for Death by Matt Hilton

Joe Hunter has been Marked for Death in his most explosive outing to date.

It should be a routine job. Joe Hunter and his associates are hired to provide security for an elite event in Miami. Wear a tux, stay professional, job done.

But things go wrong.

Hunter is drawn into what appears to be a domestic altercation. When he crosses the mysterious Mikhail however, he soon finds something altogether more sinister…

Before long this chance encounter has serious repercussions for Hunter and his friends. Good people are being killed. On the run, in the line of fire, the clock is ticking.

From the bars of Miami Beach to car chases and superyacht grenade battles, bestseller Matt Hilton dials up the intensity in this rip-roaring, set-piece filled thriller perfect for fans of Lee Child, David Baldacci and Stephen Leather.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post: Copping Out

When readers learn I was a police constable before turning my hand full-time to writing crime fiction, they often make the assumption that I must write police procedurals. It’s a fair mistake. I’d spent eighteen years in the private security industry, and then four as a constable in Cumbria in northern England. They say you should write what you know, after all, so I was well placed to write about police officers, but I chose to take a different direction altogether. In fact I chose to throw convention to the wind and write about Joe Hunter, an anti-hero of sorts, an uncompromising vigilante, and not only that but throw him out of the UK and land him in heaps of trouble across the pond in the USA. Also, rather than give Hunter a police background, I decided early on to make him an ex-soldier, one who’d spent his adult life taking on terrorists and organised crime syndicates. It wasn’t (and isn’t) that I have anything against the British crime fiction convention of having Detective Inspector Whatchamacallit as the protagonist, only that I felt that the market was very full of similar characters at the time, and not only that but written by authors that were doing a far better job than I could have. It wasn’t that I was copping out – if you’ll pardon the awful pun – just that I had different stories to tell.

I wish I could say that sending Hunter off to the USA was a clever marketing strategy on my behalf, where I would also snag a US publisher, as well as one based in the UK. The truth is, I hadn’t given that a thought – albeit that was what happened. My reasons for sending Hunter across the Atlantic was because I was an avid reader of American-style thrillers, and they were the type of books I liked to read most (write what you know). Other advice often given to aspiring authors is to write the book you want to read, and that was what I did. My first Hunter book – Dead Men’s Dust – was written without me having ever set foot on US soil. Everything I poured into the book was based on what I’d read in books, or seen on TV or in Hollywood movies. I guess that to me America was still a kind of fantasy or mythological land where I could imagine Hunter’s intense adventures taking place. It is a vast continent, with diverse cultures and settings, a frozen north, a semi-tropical south and everything in between, all different kinds of arenas in which I could place Hunter as he conducted his personal mission to take on the world’s bad guys.

Writing Dead Men’s Dust for me was somewhat cathartic. After spending a long shift, sometimes being spat on and verbally abused, the last thing I wanted to write was about my day job. I wanted to escape reality and did so by making Hunter slightly larger than life and throwing him into situations where he wasn’t constrained by rules and regulations. I’ve been asked if when I was a constable there were times when I’d have liked to have taken off the gloves: the short answer is yes. But to do so would have been career suicide. So instead I allowed Hunter to work off my frustration for me. I let him off his leash and took some pleasure from his actions by proxy. That isn’t to say Hunter is a brute or thug. Quite the opposite. He’s a good man doing bad things to terrible people. He stands up for the innocent and downtrodden, and metes out the only kind of justice brutal thugs understand. I don’t advocate violence, or vigilantism, but, well, y’know…sometimes you have to make a stand.

I’d say that the Hunter books are best defined as action thrillers, or crime thrillers if you prefer. Crime plays a central role in Hunter’s adventures, but not so much as a “who done it?”, as “how are we going to survive this?”. I was heavily influenced as a youth by the so-called men’s action books of the 1970’s. I have tried to update the action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled nature of those books in a modern setting. If you’re looking for a cerebral, thoughtful read, then Hunter won’t be for you, but if all you want is to kick back and enjoy a fun, wild ride, then he probably will. Often my books are compared to those of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series – sometimes good, sometimes bad – and though I think Hunter bears little resemblance to Reacher, they do inhabit a similar world, and genre. Through eleven books and a bunch of short stories in the series, with the twelfth – MARKED FOR DEATH published on 17th July 2017 – Hunter has worked for his friend Rink’s PI agency, but rarely as an investigator per se. He has been a protector and avenger. For me, Marked For Death is possibly his most explosive outing to date, where having interjected in what appears to be a domestic dispute Hunter stumbles into something far more sinister and life threatening. Although it is the twelfth book in the series, it is largely standalone, a great place for new readers to meet Hunter for the first time. I hope they enjoy making his acquaintance, and that my regular readers are happy to be in his company once more.

 

www.matthiltonbooks.com website

https://twitter.com/MHiltonauthor  @MHiltonauthor Twitter

www.facebook.com/MattHiltonAuthor Facebook

www.facebook.com/MattHiltonBooks official author page at Facebook

 

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Marked for Death Blog Tour Final (1)

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Hello and welcome along to my stop on the blog tour for Malcolm Hollingdrake’s latest crime thriller featuring DCI Bennett!  It’s a huge honour to take part in this tour and I am delighted to be able to share a fantastic guest post written by Malcolm.

Description:

DyingArt hand.jpg

Following his recovery from a personal and professional trauma, Detective Chief Inspector Cyril Bennett has been declared medically fit to resume his police duties. He returns to discover a complex case involving the art world.

Soon Bennett unearths a dark side of the industry where greed, ambition and dubious practices thrive and, where there is money to be made, violence and murder are never far away.

Working their way through a maze of galleries, museums and the internet, Bennett’s team struggles to make sense of the evidence.

Can Bennett tell the difference between what is real and what is fake?

 

You can buy a copy of Dying Art via:

Amazon

About the Author:

You could say that the writing was clearly written on the wall for anyone born in a library that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route.
Malcolm worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember.

Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and has four books now available. Presently he is concentrating on a series of crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm has never lost his love for his home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all three novels.

Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It’s a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in his latest novel.

 


Guest Post:

Detective Chief Inspector Cyril Bennett stared at the strange face that gurned back from the misted bathroom mirror; it was far from the face he knew. He deliberately closed his eyes but only one obeyed his order, the right eye continued to study the reflected disfigurement. It had to be said that the toothpaste liberally spread round his lop-sided lips and the fact that it continued its path to drip from stubble on his chin, didn’t enhance his appearance. Three days ago he had been fine. It had been a long day, yes, nothing abnormal in that, followed by a few relaxing drinks in the Black Swan and one or two night-caps once home and this was what he had awoken to.

“Bloody Bell’s pissing, poxy palsy,” he groaned in a strong, Yorkshire accent. “Great!”

 

It seems but a moment ago that I set the ball rolling with this opening paragraph of ‘Only the Dead’ the first in the DCI Cyril Bennett Crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but on reflection it has been quite a trek!

For one thing it was titled, ‘Keen as Mustard’, and it was self-published on Amazon. I had sent the manuscript to a number of agents and publishers but received the usual, ‘Thanks but no thanks’, response. Not one to give up too soon I wrote the next Bennett book, again self-published and titled, ‘Just above Hades’. I designed both covers. Again I eagerly sent book two out, like Noah sending the dove from the ark. Nothing!

The third book in the series had a working title of, ‘Inked’ and this too was optimistically sent out to a number of publishers but alas nothing. I probably should have given up, thrown in the towel at this stage but I enjoyed the process of writing, creating a parallel fictitious world that was mine. It sounds selfish and personal but the characters I had created had become part of the fabric of my life; I just couldn’t let them go. It was then that serendipity played its hand.  A number of things happened that I’ve detailed before in other posts and as if by magic I had a contact…Bloodhound Books to whom I sent manuscript three.

It’s funny that throughout history there are people who see what others miss and this can certainly be said of Betsy Reavley and Fred Freeman. Somehow they saw something in my writing that was worthy of a more in-depth look, what their expert eyes saw, I know not, but they believed the story to be worthy of a commitment and so it was that they offered me a contract for that book, book three which became, ‘Flesh Evidence’. They then realised that I had self-published books one and two and accepted those plus one other; I suddenly had a four book deal; I had the makings of a series.

From being totally dejected to being ecstatically excited took but a matter of days. It’s funny what effect those few words, We’d like to offer you a contract, can have on an individual. So what happened? Well, the first three books did really very well and book four ended series one. Now you have the beginning of the second DCI Cyril Bennett Crime series set in the beautiful surroundings of Harrogate. ‘Dying Art’ brings together two of my passions, my writing and my love of Northern art. To think that this has happened only since August, 2016. I feel proud to have five books published.

To get this far I have had a great deal of support. My wife, Debbie, never lost faith in my ability to tell a story, friends who have committed time, the bloggers, without whom I’d be nothing and the enthusiasm of the readers. Their support of the Bennett series has been both amazing and humbling. Their positive comments and reviews have generated an even keener appetite to create more of these books. I thank you! My sincere thanks, as always, to Bloodhound Books for their belief in me when nobody else did. There are two other people I must name and thank, Helen Claire who saw something in my work at the same time as Bloodhound. I hope you like your character in the book, Helen, and Caroline Vincent who has been a guiding light and true inspiration.

I would like to leave you with book five, ‘Dying Art’ and hope that you enjoy this latest DCI Bennett case whilst I continue writing book six.


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Published: 7 July 2017

 

Description:

With high tide comes murder…

When her beloved London theatre closes for renovations, costume maker Guinevere is excited to start a job at Cornisea castle, a centuries-old keep on a small tidal island off the coast of Cornwall. Imagine a whole summer full of stories of hidden treasures, fab food and long walks with her perky dachshund Dolly.

But when a re-enactment of a medieval trial in the castle dungeons ends in real-life murder, and accusations threaten the castle’s future, Guinevere and Dolly dig deep into the island community’s best-kept secrets to unmask the killer and save their Cornish summer.

The first book in the Cornish Castle Mystery series with the second instalment RUBIES IN THE ROSES coming August 2017!

My Thoughts & Review:

When I heard someone mention that “cosy crime” would be a big hit this year I wondered what new detectives we would meet and whether they would be a patch on the investigators of yesteryear when it came to detecting crime.  Here Vivian Conroy excels, and presents readers with a well written crime story that encapsulates the essence of cosy crime.

Guinevere and her delightful Dachshund Dolly are marvellous characters, Guinevere is a very likeable character that readers will take an instant liking towards.  The plot is interesting and well thought out, with plenty to keep the reader guessing as they try to piece together all the clues to solve the mystery.
Superb descriptions of the setting of Cornisea really make the place come alive from the pages, I felt like I was there and able to see the sights.  Likewise, the characters really come to life through the skilled writing making this a delightful and enticing read.

I’m trying desperately not to say too much about the plot, I think this is the sort of book that hints would give away too much and spoil it for others, but it’s well written and paced just right for an enjoyable and exciting read.
Fans of Conroy’s previous books which feature Lady Alkmene Callender should hopefully enjoy this book, and I would say that fans of cosy crime in general would enjoy this one!

Now to wait patiently to read Rubies in the Roses ……

You can buy a copy of Death Plays a Part via Amazon

 

My thanks to Vivian Conroy and HQ Digital for the opportunity to read this book and take part in the blog tour.

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Published 13 July 2017

 

Description:

The magical new summer novel by the author of Little Flower Shop by the Sea

One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.

But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious ‘Welcome House’? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

My Thoughts & Review:

I must confess that this is the first book written by Ali McNamara that I’ve read, I do own a couple but they never seem to make it up to the top of the reading pile sadly.  But after reading “The Summer of Serendipity” I’ve rescued the other books, bought a few more and will be slowly losing myself in the wonderful world that McNamara creates for her readers.

The plot is full of mystery and intrigue, our leading lady Serendipity (Ren) is on a mission in Ballykiltara to find the perfect retirement home for a client with her assistant Kiki.  The dynamic duo eventually find the perfect house but cannot find out who owns the property to make an offer to purchase it.  The more they ask locals about The Welcome House, the more complex the mystery becomes.  No one knows for sure who owns the house, some saying that the house has always been there since the time of the monks and Viking invaders, some saying it’s a place of sanctuary for travellers, a shelter with food that asks nothing more of people to replace what they have used (if they can).  With so much folklore surrounding The Welcome House Ren and Kiki look to the local priest for help, but instead of shining light on their mystery, Father Duffy imparts wisdom onto Ren that makes things more complicated.  And if that wasn’t enough for Ren to struggle to get her head round, there’s also a wee romantic interest for her in the shape of the brooding and handsome hotel manager,  Finn.

The setting of Ballykiltara is so exquisitely described that you cannot help but imagine the hotel, the wonderful woodland walks, The Welcome House or even just the general tranquillity of it all.  Ali McNamara’s writing transports her readers to the settings she writes about, and has them invested in the characters being written about.  The way that relationships develop through the book is interesting, seeing the ups and downs of friendships makes this feel realistic as well as makes the characters stand out.  The way that they come to life from the pages is another reason to love this book, Kiki is a fantastic character, so lovely and endearing.  Her muddling of words just makes her even more appealing and she works well as a contrast to Ren.  Ren, whilst a friendly and cheery person has secrets she keeps locked away and sometimes forgets to take her business hat off.  Finn, well what can I say about the dishy hotel manager?  His charm and impish ways are so well written that I could almost see him as I read (swoon!).

This book has almost everything you need for a holiday read (whether it’s a staycation or far flung destination), it’s humorous, it’s magical and it’s so full of delightful charm that you can’t help but enjoy it!

You can buy a copy of The Summer of Serendipity via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown Book Group for the opportunity to read this book and to take part in the blog tour.

 

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The Other Twin cover

Published 1st August 2017

Description:

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved?

And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana?
Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her?

Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as the truth…

You can buy your copy of The Other Twin via:

Amazon

Wordery

The Book Depository


Praise for The Other Twin

‘If your sister died under suspicious circumstances, how far would you go to uncover the truth? The Other Twin crackles with tension as Poppy’s search for answers leads only to more questions, her grief palpable and real as she learns her sister India’s deepest secrets. Hays’ impressive debut is a complex, twisty, disorienting tale that truly keeps readers guessing until the very end’
Karen Dionne

‘A cracker of a debut! I couldn’t put it down’
Paula Daly

‘The writing shines from every page of this twisted tale … debuts don’t come sharper than this’
Ruth Dugdall

‘This chilling claustrophobic tale set in Brighton introduces an original, fresh new voice in crime fiction’
Cal Moriarty

‘Wonderfully layered and gripping, I had to take breaks just to catch my breath’
Jendella Benson

“A fresh and raw thrill-ride through Brighton’s underbelly. What an enjoyable read!”
Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Slick and compulsive’
Random Things through My Letterbox

‘A propulsive, inventive and purely addictive psychological thriller for the social media age’
Crime by the Book

‘Delightfully disorientating’
Chapter in My Life

‘This will stay with me forever’
Emma the Little Bookworm

‘A whirlwind of secrets and emotional turmoil’
Cheryl M-M

‘Rolls along at a heart-pounding pace!’
Ronnie Turner

‘A contemporary thriller with a heart of darkness … terrific’
Live & Deadly

‘Blinding, surprising and simply magnificent’
Chocolate ‘n’ Waffles

 

About the Author:

Lucy Hay author photo

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

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The Cardinal's Man

Published 11 July 2017

 

Description:

A SPELLBINDING TALE SET IN CARDINAL RICHELIEU’S FRANCE

With enemies advancing on all sides and Cardinal Richelieu’s health failing, France is at breaking point. Yet salvation may arrive in the most unlikely form…

Born into poverty and with terrible deformities, Sebastian Morra is a dwarf with the wit of Tyrion Lannister and three foot, four inches of brazen pluck. Through a mixture of brains and luck, he has travelled far from his village to become a jester at the royal court. And with a talent for making enemies, he is soon drawn into the twilight world of Cardinal Richelieu, where he discovers he might just be the only man with the talents to save France from her deadliest foes.

My Thoughts & Review:

Historical fiction is a genre that I slip in and out of easily, and sometimes depending on my mood, it can be the only thing I want to read.  From the moment I read the book description my interest was piqued, however with little knowledge of Game of Thrones, the Tyrion Lannister reference was a little lost on me.

Set during the times of The Thirty Years’ War in France, the author lays out the foundations of a very well written debut with great detail.  The wonderful use of atmospheric descriptions for the locations evoke a wonderful sense of the period.  And it is clear from the depth of the writing that the author has done his research, yet he still manages to keep the writing light and entertaining in places.  Sebastian Morra is an fascinating character, he oozes wit and charm but there is a considerable wealth of knowledge hidden behind this.  Being born with dwarfism, his career choices are limited.  From playing jester in Louis XIII court he becomes a spy for Cardinal Richelieu in order to gain the notorious Cardinal’s protection after making one too enemies at Court.

Despite being set in an era I’m not overly familiar with, I still managed to pick up on the tensions that would later escalate to the troubles of the French Revolution.  But unfortunately this book just didn’t grab me as I’d hoped it might.  An interesting read and for the most part enjoyable just perhaps not my era.

 

You can buy a copy of The Cardinal’s Man via:
Amazon

Wordery

My thanks to Lina Langlee at Black & White Publishing for the opportunity to read this and to take part in the blog tour.

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