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Archive for the ‘Urbane Publications’ Category

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Dead Lands, a trilling crime story set in the 1970s.  I am delighted to be able to share a guest post with you about the research behind the book so grab your cuppa and read on…..

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Description:

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alexander Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Dead Lands is the thrilling debut of award winning short story writer Lloyd Otis, and intelligently covers issues of race, discrimination and violence in a changing 70s landscape. 

You can buy a copy of Dead Lands via:

Urbane Publications (Publisher)
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

** My thanks to Matthew Smith at Urbane Books  for my copy of this book and to Abby Fairbrother (the immensely awesome Anne Bonny Book Reviews) for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **


Guest Post:

Dead Lands – building the story

A tremendous amount of research had to be conducted for Dead Lands and this was mainly for two reasons. The first reason:  the story is set a few decades ago and the second reason: a real-life event serves as its backdrop. I had to find out what the climate was like back then. I needed to feel it to some extent, to smell it, and to understand what the attitudes were like towards migrants, towards the police, and women. An author has to approach this sort of research carefully, which can be highly rewarding. To learn something new that will affect your story, or that you could insert into it for more realism, is an amazing feeling and I felt grateful to know what that was like.

Language and attitudes definitely change over time and I had to make a decision on how to approach that. For this story, I tried to strike a balance. With Dead Lands being set in the latter part of the 70s, it made sense that the attitudes of the times were reflected as much as possible without being an obstacle to the main story – although I gave myself more flexibility with the language. I spoke to people who were around at the time which was very important, because sometimes there is no substitute for speaking to someone who lived during a particular period. Of course you have to find those people, but when you do and you hear what they have to say, well it’s worth it. It really is.

With that part in place, I had to think about the other layers of the story and how they would interlace with each other as seamlessly as possible. Which character would have their identity pulled apart and questioned, which character would be telling the lies, and who would be hiding the biggest secrets? Setting Dead Lands in the past enabled me to highlight the complexities of proving guilt – DNA procedures as we know them today weren’t in place back then, so you really needed a good detective at the helm. Therefore, in terms of the people leading the charge, I needed strong characters.  I liked the polar opposites of a male and female investigators, and especially in that period of time, so Breck and Kearns fitted the bill perfectly. Having them operate within a fictional unit offered some flexibility with regards to what that unit was allowed to do, and in Breck, we have a bit of a maverick. A different kind of officer operating in a turbulent part of South East London. Amongst the temptations and whispers of corruption, he’ll do his job and he wants to do it the right way. That’s what he signed up for and why he joined the force. But ultimately, as the investigation progresses, he feels something is up, he’ll follow his nose and see it through to the end.

There’s a gritty underbelly to the story and life in the force is not sugar-coated in Dead Lands. Work for Breck provides a temporary escape from his feelings of discontentment and relationships are particularly important in this story. We even see this with Troy. From being a city high-flier to a man on the run, he is forced to turn to a small net of trusted people that may or may not be able to help him.

That is the landscape which I set out to create. There is no internet, no mobile phones, just a man and his limited resources, with an alibi that he can’t use and time running out.


Now I don’t know about you, but that has got me really keen to get reading and find out more!!  Perhaps I may just sneak this one up the reading pile and get lost in the world of Breck.  My review will be posted in November (sometime….)

 

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Hello and happy Friday!
Welcome along to another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” , the publisher this week is Urbane Publications, and the book being featured is “The Secret Wound” by Deirdre Quiery.


Book Feature:

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Published: 9th June 2017

Description:

Deirdre Quiery’s follow up to the critical success of Eden Burning, The Secret Wound draws the reader into a complex web of relationships within the ex-pat community in Mallorca, discovering their dangerous secrets…and a potential murderer in their midst. One of their number carries a dark and deadly secret from their past, and has murderous plans for a fellow ex-pat. Can any of the close- knit community discover the brutal plans before they are all put in mortal danger? Deirdre Quiery’s gripping thriller is not just an addictive page turner, but provides a compelling exploration of human emotion and desires, and the terrible costs of jealousy and ambition. Perfect for fans of Jane Corry and Amanda Brooke.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The idea of “The Secret Wound” intrigued me from the outset, it’s a book that holds a multitude of secrets but also heavily features the theme of forgiveness and the idea of finding oneself.  Sounds like quite a lot in one book doesn’t it?  But somehow Deirdre Quiery pulls it off.

We first meet Gurtha who is struggling with the loss of his mother Nuala, her murder leaving him confused and questioning the meaning of life.  On the advice of family friends he heads to Mallorca to take time away from his responsibilities, to try and find himself and more importantly find the answers that make up the meaning of life.  It is during Gurtha’s  day stay in Mallorca that the tale of “The Secret Wound” unfolds and we see things are not as they first seemed.  That’s all I want to say about the plot, otherwise I might give something away!

Beautifully vivid descriptions of settings really bring this book to life, small details about Gurtha sitting in on the bed and hearing the bells of  the sheep on the mountain side, the noise of the birds combine with the description of  La Torretta to conjure a vivid and atmospheric image in my head.  Even descriptions of the sky are wonderfully poetic “The sky was a flowing emerald with streaks of ruby.  Golden light reflected onto the waves, twisting in turquoise and yellow hues into waves which looked like molten olive branches.” Beautifully flowing descriptions transport the reader into another world.

There is a thought provoking quality to this, indeed Gurtha’s realisation “human beings do have a conscience and it will triumph in the end” leads him to think that living a simple life will be more fulfilling and rewarding, that he would be best relying on a moral compass in life.  The way that Nuala lived her life also gives pause for thought, highly thought of for the best of reasons – knowing when to speak up and when not, not judging people but knowing the right thing to do, being content with what you have and enjoying life to the fullest.  I can’t help but wonder if we all were a little more like Nuala there might be less unhappiness around.

You can buy a copy of “The Secret Wound” directly from directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository


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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.

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Published: 11 May 2017

Description:

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow.

When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission. Freda’s misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust?

As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’. David Barker’s gripping debut will thrill fans of Scott Mariani, Steve Berry and Richard North Patterson.

My Thoughts & Review:

The plot of this book piqued my interest when I first heard about it, it’s a thriller with a very scientific and future world feel.  I don’t tend to read many scientific based novels, I’m a reader who likes the action to be set in the current world (or indeed a time period  that has already elapsed), but there was something about the way that this was written that made it very readable and captivating.

I’m sure most people will say that the start of this book really grabs their attention but it really does, the writing is so taut and atmospheric.  It’s hard for the reader not to feel like they are surrounded by the massive snowdrifts, gun toting choppers and danger.  And just as you prepare to get lost in a world of action and peril, the perspective shifts to a perilous situation of a different kind, Sim Atkins reminiscing that things had been so different two months previously when he was sat at home playing a computer game.

It is in the first section of the book that we meet the main characters and learn about their histories, and the concept of an international war over water.  Water is a resource that you don’t often think of as running out, and so by featuring it in this way it gives the reader something new.  I also found that this sparked a great conversation with my husband on “what if”, it was quite interesting to allow my imagination to wander freely for a while pondering this.

Sim is a character that readers will quickly come to like, his sense of humour and personality are on the right side of fun to lighten the situations he finds himself in.  Freda Brightwell is a character that has a backstory and one that as a reader I could not wait to delve into.  The snippets of her childhood she shares through classic film quotes are brilliant and show off a side of this character that I’d love to see developed in future novels.  Sim of course will feature in the next novel, the sneak preview of the sequel at the back of this book well and truly ensured that I would be hooked for “Rose Gold”, now I just need to find out when I can read it!

This is a very intelligently written novel, the timeline throughout is disjointed but in a way it gives the reader a wonderful feeling of being immersed in the action and means that they experience the unravelling of salient plot points at just the right time, however this may not be preferential for all readers.  The level of detail that David Barker includes in both the description of this characters as well as settings is top rate.  I felt that I was able to see the activity at the airstrip, taste the sands in the desert and feel the painful chill of the Himalayas as well as the perilous situations the characters found themselves in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and flew through it, eager to find out what happens next, now the wait for “Rose Gold”…..please don’t leave us waiting too long Mr Barker!!

You can buy a copy of “Blue Gold” via:

Urbane Publications
Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to David Barker and Urbane Publications for the opportunity to read this and take part in the blog tour.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

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I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for “Death’s Silent Judgement” today.  I have a wonderful guest piece written by Anne Coates to share with you.  “Death’s Silent Judgement” is the sequel to “Dancers in the Wind” (I reviewed this back in December 2016 here’s the link to the review).

Description:  

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Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a close friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her pro bono dental practice at St John the Evangelist church in Waterloo. The free surgery Hannah runs is attended by the homeless people who comprise Cardboard City nearby and initially the police are quick to place the blame in their direction.

Hannah is not convinced and nor is Lady Rayman, Liz’s mother who employs the journalist to investigate.

With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…

You can buy a copy of “Death’s Silent Judgement”  via:

Amazon
Urbane Publications
Wordery


My Inspiration for Death’s Silent Judgement

Many people have assumed that my protagonist Hannah Weybridge and her situation are, at least in parts, autobiographical. Of course this is true to a certain extent and I couldn’t put it better than Virginia Woolf who wrote: “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” Although I would probably have changed his to her!

I have dug deeply into some of my own experiences to create Hannah however her life has been refracted through various prisms. How she reacts to situations is part of her personality not mine. She is, like other characters, one of my imaginary friends. I confess I love the way characters arrive in my narratives – sometimes uninvited. I remember a spiritualist telling me she saw spirits vying for her attention and that’s how I feel. Sometimes they are all clamouring for a bigger role. It can get quite noisy in my head.

So where did the idea of discovering one’s best friend dead in the crypt of a church where she held a free dental clinic for the homeless, came from? In truth I have no idea. I had never been into St John the Evangelist at Waterloo and I do not have friends who are dentists – dead or alive. However I have experienced – as most people have – the loss of a friend either through circumstance or death. In particular I lost touch with one close friend when I was pregnant and I have used that situation to explore feelings and emotions in the interaction between Hannah and Liz, which I have done via flashbacks in Death’s Silent Judgement. But that is a kernel of truth that expands fictionally. A “what if…” that that takes me into the fictional world.

A sense of place is also important to me. The murders in Dancers in the Wind began in Kings Cross. In the sequel, the killings and much of the action has moved further south to Waterloo. This is an area I knew and know well. My mother was born there and a lot of her family lived there. As she was the only child of a second marriage, her half-siblings were between ten and 18 years older than her and died years ago. I modelled two minor characters, Eileen and Kit, on one of her sisters-in-law and her half-sister. That’s to say I took them as a starting point. Although I know the area well from when we visited family when I was a child, I also got to know the area as an adult when I worked at IPC Magazines in Stamford Street. The homeless people in the cardboard city of the Bull Ring (now the Imax Cinema) were a familiar sight.

Another source of inspiration is the amazing work individuals do to make life better for other people. WaterAid is a charity I support and they do such important and life-saving work. I have a charity in Death’s Silent Judgement – but I deliberately made the organisation a small, fictitious one. At the outpost where Liz was based, girls suffered rape and abuse through lack of amenities. Sadly this is a situation which continues today.

As a journalist I have been privileged to share and write about many people’s experiences and situations from celeb interviews to talking to prostitutes (my starting point for Dancers in the Wind) and like most writers I love eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. I always have a notebook at the ready for priceless gems! Plus I am fascinated by how people are dressed and present themselves. I make notes and keep them handy for my characters. (I wish I had a hidden camera that Hannah uses to take photos of people who intrigue me.) And I am indebted to friends who offer insights into their lives and careers.

All of this goes into my mind’s melting pot. I use nuggets of information to go off on a journey in my imagination. Often a character will lead me down a different path and reveal his or her secrets in an unexpected way. I was stunned by how this happened with one character in Death’s Silent Judgement and then I realised that the character had been giving me clues all along the way. I just hadn’t been paying close enough attention!


A huge thank you to Anne for joining me today and sharing where she gets her inspiration from.  I’m sure you will all agree that it’s always fun to find out where ideas for characters and plots come from, just be sure never to say anything too juicy around Anne, she might have that notebook handy to jot down all the details!

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Published: 23 March 2017

Copy provided by Urbane Publications & Netgalley

 

Description:

Ireland’s gone bust, and with it Aisling Finn’s life.

She flees austerity for adventure in the desert.  But the Arabia she finds is not that of her dreams.  Everyone is chasing a fast buck, a fast woman and another G&T.  Expats and locals alike prickle with paranoia.
Debonair fixer, Brian Rothmann, charms Aisling with champagne brunches and nights at Bedouin camps.  But is Brian a hero or a desperate expat prepared to go to any lengths to get what he wants?  Is this Aisling?  Or is he using her as bait?
Her only hope is Hisham, a local activist.  But where do his loyalties lie?  Aisling faces severe peril when the sleazy expat and blood-lusting desert worlds collide, as the Arab Spring erupts. 

She has to ask, whom can she trust?  Can she trust her instincts?  Humanity blisters in this haunting, lyrical thriller about trust and treachery.

My Thoughts & Review:

For once a book has left me speechless, I finished reading “Electric Souk” over a week ago and have struggled to put into words just how brilliant this book is.  Even then I don’t think that brilliant is a word that does this book justice.
I first heard about this book when I featured the lovely Rose McGinty over on my “Celebrating Indie Publishing” post at the beginning of March and was so intrigued by the sound of her book I knew I needed to read it as soon as I could.

The reader is plunged into a tale of an adventure almost instantly when they encounter Aisling heading to the Gulf to start a new job and a new life.  But things aren’t as easy as she hopes, life doesn’t run as smoothly in the desert and danger lurks in the shadows.

The reader is submersed in such authentic and realistic surroundings, the details that Rose McGinty pours into her writing are absolutely amazing.  I felt that I could smell the fragrances, feel the intensity of heat, taste the sand that surrounded Aisling.  I also found the cultural details fascinating to read, the customs and traditions that are observed there were new to me and so I felt that I could take some knowledge from this book.  McGinty writes with such a flair that it is evident that she has spent a lot of time in the Middle East and understands the culture and lifestyle.

I particularly enjoyed the thriller element to this tale, the clever way that the tension was wound tighter and tighter meant that my attention was held fast.  Aisling is in a difficult position, there are people who would manipulate her at any opportunity for minimal gain, even if it were to make another person look bad.  She is also in a dangerous position as she can’t really be sure who is safe to trust.  The friendships she forms are interesting, Angie the lively Liverpudlian is one character that made me laugh and smile.  Moazah on the other hand, oh how I felt so much frustration towards this character.  The levels of manipulation and greed that this character would stoop to in order to further her own agenda were shocking.
Brian Rothmann was a character I struggled to work out initially, he seemed almost “too good to be true”, appearing to be almost too saccharine.

Trust and the lack thereof is the overarching theme in this book, and as the tension rises so too does the creeping paranoia.

For a debut novel I am considerably impressed, Rose McGinty writes with an ease that hints towards years spent writing.  Not only does she bring settings alive, but she creates characters who develop fantastically throughout the novel, creates an atmosphere that is serene yet dangerous and manages to give her readers something that shocks, entertains and delights.

A book I would absolutely recommend to others, and I can already see myself reading it again before the year is out!  It’s definitely one that will be on my list of “Top Indie Books for 2017!”

You can buy a copy of “Electric Souk” directly from the publisher here or via Amazon | Wordery

About the Author:

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Rose McGinty was born with itchy feet, which she has yet to decide is a blessing or a curse.  Certainly, surviving Hurricane Sandy, an earthquake, a spider bite, jumping 192 metres off the Sky Tower in Auckland, and nearly being arrested for inadvertently smuggling a rocket in Vietnam, make her wonder about locking up her passport.  But then, it was her adventures in the Middle East that gave her the itchy fingers to write.

Rose lives in Kent, where as well as enjoying writing short stories, flash fiction and poetry, she also paints.  She works in community health services and has worked overseas in Ireland, Canada, Sweden and the Middle East.  She completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, under the guidance of Richard Skinner, in 2015.  Electric Souk is her debut novel and Rose says of her story, ‘The parts of the story that are true, I probably wish were not; while the parts that are not, I probably wish were true.’

If you’d like to know more about Rose and her books you can check out her  website or follow her on Twitter @rosemcginty

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Welcome along to another post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  I am delighted to introduce you to another of Urbane Publications books and authors.  This time the book in question is the brilliant thriller “Imperfection” by Ray Clark and we will be shining a light in the eyes of Rose McGinty to find out the secrets of her writing success.


Book Feature:

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Published: 30 March 2017

Description:

“For long weary months I have awaited this hour.”

A haunting message scrawled on the dressing room wall of a theatre: the scene of the first murder. It had been written using the blood from the victim, previously drained in a separate location.

At the autopsy, D.I. Gardener and D.S. Reilly are shown a riddle carved into the chest of the corpse, informing them there would be more.

Their efforts to find out why are continually blocked by a wall of contradiction, with little in the way of evidence to support their cause.

Steered back to the scene of the crime and a disused prop room, Gardener and his trusted sergeant find another puzzle.

The murderer – it seems – is playing games.

The second victim is hanging upside down in a busy city centre shop in mock crucifixion, with yet another message. And once again, the killer has used the victim’s own blood.

Later, at the autopsy, another conundrum awaits them.

It soon becomes clear to Gardener and Reilly that to find the killer they have to solve the clues, and to do that, they have to tunnel their way into the past, to the beginnings of motion picture production: where the streets were paved with gold, and to a man who terrified people before either of them had even been born.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the very moment I started reading “Imperfection” I was hooked, the style of writing is snappy and gets straight into the action of the murder and the police investigation, and made me feel like I’d stepped right into the heart of the novel.  Short and perfectly baited chapters ensure that the reader’s attention is ensnared from the outset and keeps them reading on to find out what happens  and learn more about the detectives as well as the deviously twisted antagonist.

Detective Gardener strikes me as someone that has done his job for so long that he has encountered every “type” of person;  the ones that want to help with the investigation, the amateur sleuth, hostile witnesses, people who don’t realise the importance in what they have seen etc.  His “people skills” can be severely tested at times but it never impacts upon the job at hand, in one instance reminding a witness that he is investigating a murder and not merely inconveniencing them for the fun of it.
All of the characters are well crafted, there is great depth to each which allows the reader to conjure a clear image of not only their physical appearance but also distinct mannerisms and attributes.

As the story progresses, the tension mounts brilliantly.  With such a twisted antagonist this tale becomes tantalisingly  fascinating to read, the glimpses into his mind are compulsive and interesting reading.  The writing itself it intelligent and succinct, the plot is well structured and should delight fans of crime thrillers and police procedurals.
I’m trying desperately not to give any hints or spoilers away for this book, there are so many parts I want to point out, or comment on certain characters but that might give too much away!  Suffice to say I throughly enjoyed it and it captured my attention from the opening pages.

You can buy a copy of “Imperfection” directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository


Author Feature: FullSizeRender-225x300

Rose McGinty was born with itchy feet, which she has yet to decide is a blessing or a curse.  Certainly, surviving Hurricane Sandy, an earthquake, a spider bite, jumping 192 metres off the Sky Tower in Auckland, and nearly being arrested for inadvertently smuggling a rocket in Vietnam, make her wonder about locking up her passport.  But then, it was her adventures in the Middle East that gave her the itchy fingers to write.

Rose lives in Kent, where as well as enjoying writing short stories, flash fiction and poetry, she also paints.  She works in community health services and has worked overseas in Ireland, Canada, Sweden and the Middle East.  She completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, under the guidance of Richard Skinner, in 2015.  Electric Souk is her debut novel and Rose says of her story, ‘The parts of the story that are true, I probably wish were not; while the parts that are not, I probably wish were true.’

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

My writing group is my favourite thing. We met at the Faber Academy and two years later we are still meeting on a monthly basis to critique each other’s work, share our love of reading, pass on tips about the publishing world, and support each other through good times and bad. And – drink wine, possibly the most favourite part for us all.

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

That dot on the horizon is my tail, zipping away from me at Usain Bolt speed. I always seem to be chasing my tail and I panic that there’s never going to be enough time to get all the stories down on paper that are itching away in my head. You just can’t rush any part of the writing process- from the dreamy state early in the morning, when ideas have to be gently coaxed from the shadows – to editing, where every word has to be challenged for its place on the page.

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

Wuthering Heights – has another landscape or two characters, like Cathy and Heathcliff, ever haunted the collective imagination with such fire. Emily Bronte’s writing is raw, brutal and honesty. Stripping back to that purity is my aspiration but it takes such skill and bravery.
How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I’m not sure that as a writer I ever truly have spare time.  My eyes and ears are always tuned into what is happening around me, observing people and situations. Characters chatter away all the time. And when I’m not writing I am reading as I passionately believe you only become a better writer by reading far and wide and constantly.

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

I’m a binge writer. My writing routine is crammed into weekends and holidays. I have a demanding day job and commute three hours a day. So I try to protect one day at the weekend to write. That’s not to say that I’m not thinking about my writing throughout the week, especially as I walk to the train station. I jot down ideas, leave messages on my phone with new pieces of dialogue, map out plot lines, so that by the time I sit down at the weekend I am ready and desperate to go. I absolutely relish holidays when I can write for a couple of hours every day and long for the flow and immersion I get at these times. My dream is that one day I will be able to write every day.

A big part of my routine is that I like to use photos as I work as prompts to take me into the worlds I am writing about. Often just a tiny detail in the corner of a picture can open up a new scene. When I was writing Electric Souk a photo of a lone sidra tree on a tiny islet in the Arabic Gulf led me to the scene where my protagonist, Aisling, first spends time with the charming, but sinister, Royal advisor, Bryan.  The vulnerability, yet resilience, of the sand-storm battered tree touched a chord with Aisling’s predicament.

 

A huge thank you to Rose for taking part and letting us know more about herself, if you’d like to know more about Rose and her books you can check out her  website or follow her on Twitter @rosemcginty

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

 

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Welcome along to the first post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  I am delighted to introduce you to Urbane Publications run by the lovely Matthew Smith, who endeavours to bring some of the best books to the reading populace as possible.

Today I have the great privilege to share with you a review of The Gift Maker, the debut novel by Mark Mayes which will be published on 23rd February 2017 and a fantastic short interview with Urbane author David Gaffney.


Book Feature:

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Published: 23 February 2017

4.5 out of 5 stars

Description:

Gifts ought to be free, but they never are. They tie you to the wishes of others. To your own sad expectations. To the penitentiary of your dreams.’

Late one night, Thomas Ruder receives a strange package: a small blue box. Another such item is delivered to his friend Liselotte Hauptmann. These ‘gifts’ will change their lives forever. In the far-off border town of Grenze, a play is to be performed at the Sheol Theatre. Reynard the impresario expects a very special audience. Thomas and Liselotte, together with their friend Johann, are drawn into Reynard’s seductive web, as Daumen, the gift maker, must decide who his master really is.

The Gift Maker is a story about identity, about fulfilling your dreams and becoming the person you always were … at whatever cost.

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Gift Maker” is a book I would struggle to restrict to any one genre other than fiction really, there are elements of Fantasy (Dystopian), Metaphysics and something that borders upon a fairy tale all cleverly cloaked in intelligent language with some incredibly impressive plotting.
Followers of The Quiet Knitter will be somewhat used to my occasional reading tangents, merrily wandering off into the abyss of an intriguing sounding book, beguiled by a concept that challenges my logically restricted brain.  I have to say this is one of those books I am happy to branch out of my comfort zone with.

The overarching theme that runs through this novel is one of self discovery, each of the main characters sets out on their own journey and in doing so takes on the challenges that lie in their way to fulfil their dreams, regardless of the cost.  There’s just the right level of suspense in this and something almost haunting about the story that moves the pace along well.  I almost want to describe it as disturbing at times but not in a negative way, more in the way that this book leeches into your subconscious.  I found that even when I wasn’t reading it, my mind was wandering back to Thomas, Liselotte and Johann, imagining the thrall of Reynard or contemplating how it all evolved into something bigger, in essence a tale of morality.  A very philosophical read and one that challenges how you perceive things, is it as simple as good and evil?  How far would you go to achieve your wildest dreams?  And in doing so, at what cost?

Despite being completely out of my comfort zone I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was challenging but rewarding to read, the skill that Mark Mayes demonstrates through is writing is superb.  It’s refreshing to see an intelligently written book that does not shy away from linguistic excellence (and yes, I admit there was the occasional word that I checked on the dictionary of my kindle –  I love finding new words).  The atmospheric description of Grenze was haunting but absolutely fantastic.

You can buy a copy of “The Gift Maker” directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository


Author Feature:

david-gaffney-colour-small-218x300

David Gaffney comes from Cleator Moor in West Cumbria and now lives in Manchester. He is the author of Sawn-off Tales (2006), Aromabingo (2007), Never Never (2008), The Half-life of Songs (2010) and his latest collection of short stories, More Sawn-Off Tales (2013). David has written articles for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times and Prospect magazine and is a judge for the 2015 Bridport prize as well as heading up the Arts Council in the North of England.

David’s novel “All The Places I’ve Ever Lived” will be published by Urbane Publications on 26th February 2017.

As part of the “Celebrating Indie Publishing” I thought it might be good to get to know some of the authors behind the books.  David kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his likes and dislikes of being an author as well as sharing where he prefers to do most of his writing.

 

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

Being an author is like being given your own big private storage unit where you can put all your ideas and thoughts. Because without this storage unit, what can you do? Haul it all around with you everywhere. So it’s such a relief when you are a creative person to be given a repository, an outlet like that. Like the pages of a book or a novel. Writing books is like bleeding your radiators. If you don’t bleed them, they get clogged up with creative ideas and everything else in your head stops working unless you have a way to get rid of all the imaginative gunge.

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

People expect you to be able to answer questions about grammar and punctuation – like hey David what’s the definition of an Oxford comma? Or define the correct use of a semi colon, would you please? You’re an author aren’t you?

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

I wish I had written the Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills. Everything from the title onwards is like a compelling dream, and so incredibly funny and serious all at the same time, a mix of surreal and banal that is very European and somehow also very northern English.

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

I also play music so I’d be ideally playing piano or guitar – but the writing takes over I’m afraid most of the time.

Do you have a set routine ?

I like to write on trains if I can so that’s where I do a lot of it. Sometimes I go away to work, such as my friend’s cottage in Wales, or a place in a city. I don’t really like remote places in the country side. The last place I stayed in with the purpose of completing a book was in the middle of Lisbon, and I’ve done the same in Paris. Writing in a city means that at the end of the day there’s something to go out and do rather than just look out of the window at the sheep or stare at the fire and wonder what it would be like to have the internet. Oh and I often hold a pen in my hand while I type. I think it helps me to think.

A huge thank you to David for taking part and letting us know more about him, if you’d like to know more about David and his books you can check out his website www.davidgaffney.org or follow him on Twitter @ggaffa


If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

 

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