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Posts Tagged ‘Authoright Marketing & Publicity’

The Watcher Cover

** My thanks to Rachel Gilbey  for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Watcher is the continuation of the story of Max, Erika and Netta Portner from Fifteen Words (my review can be found here).
Often there is a danger with follow up books that they don’t meet the high standard set initially, but here I think it’s fair to say that The Watcher is a wonderfully written book that is packed with strong emotions and exceptional characters.

The physical and psychological scars of the war are deeply imprinted on the souls of  Max and Erika.  Upon his return home Max is not the man he once was, and far from the man that Netta is expecting from the tales told my her mother and grandparents.  But more difficult, is that he is so far from the man that Erika used to know, his traumatic experiences in the Siberian POW camp have reshaped this character beyond recognition.  Today he would probably be diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but not back in 1949.  The murder investigation and the secrets that are unearthed add an extra layer to this well crafted plot.

As before, the author writes with a wonderful descriptive quality that gives the reader fully detailed account by these characters, there is a rawness to the prose that evokes emotion from the reader and almost makes you want to reach out to these characters.  You become invested in their lives and well being.  There is a poignancy in any tale about survivors of WWII, but here there’s something more.  Perhaps because I read Fifteen Words and witnessed the suffering that the characters endured previously I felt more of a connection reading The Watcher, but I really felt this book tugging on the heartstrings and lingering in my head long after I finished reading it.

I would thoroughly recommend reading both Fifteen Words and The Watcher, they are definite must reads for fans of WWII fiction.

You can buy a copy of The Watcher via Amazon UK

 

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Mário de Sá-Carneiro: The Ambiguity of a Suicide by Giuseppe Cafiero and share a guest piece written about Mário de Sá-Carneiro.

Description:

Print

The apparent suicide in 1916 of the writer Mário de Sá-Carneiro causes his friend, the poet Fernando Pessoa, great distress. Pessoa feels compelled to trace Sá-Carneiro’s final movements, to understand what could have caused him to lose all hope.
Exploring byways of the imagination and ambiguity with the investigator David Mondine and Dr. Abílio Fernandes Quaresma, solver of enigmas, the three men decide to uncover the conclusive certainties which led Mário to poison himself.
These suicide investigators travel to Lisbon – Mário’s birthplace – and to Paris, talking to strangers and friends who might shed light on the poet’s mysterious and sudden decline. As the city wrestles with the grief and tumult of war, the men hold court at the cafes and bistros Mário would have frequented. Their witty, enigmatic and sometimes obscure conversations illuminate the friendship between Mário and Fernando Pessoa, their poetry and their literary ambitions, revealing the tragic end of one of the founders of Portuguese modernism.

 

You can buy a copy of Mário de Sá-Carneiro: The Ambiguity of a Suicide via Amazon


Guest Post:

Mário de Sá-Carneiro with his chronic oddities. Mário who went about Paris in melancholy and shy solitude. Mário who believed it necessary to inflict heartache upon himself to atone for his dark irreverences. Mário who played the part of a fashionable anti-conformist. Mário who was so self-absorbed that he seemed to live in a constant dreamlike delirium. Mário who seemed to want to be surrounded by an atmosphere of non-involvement and thus to enjoy his disquietude. Mário who was afraid to retrace his steps because nothing could ever be the same as before. Mário who wallowed in his contemplative ecstasy because the rest was extraneous to him. Mário who complacently felt that he did not belong to any city or country. Mário who was extremely concerned about the dark sensations of his instinct. Mário who considered his mind able to create an inappropriate reality disturbing to the society he was compelled to endure. Mário who complained of a nostalgia which, in truth, he did not feel because no nostalgia could satisfy him. Mário who wasted time in remembrances that responded to memories recovered from a reality experienced in a distorted manner and never loved. Mário who wished to construct a world in his own image and likeness, even though an innate discontent forced him to presume that there could never be a world in his image and likeness. Mário who was tirelessly seeking a fictitious gratification of his intimate desires which seemed to him impossible on account of that kind of apathy in which he delighted in living. Mário who seemed to have a poor ability to reflect realistically about himself and his fantasies because he was a simple dreamer who did not wish to realize any dream. Mário who exhibited, according to many who knew him, a strong affective deficit and a smug reluctance to establish cordial friendships. Mário who seemed to feel the irrepressible desire to influence the world, to be a protagonist as a poet and playwright. Mário who had a true servile propensity for Pessoa, for which he was ready to satisfy any request or desire merely to please him.

 

My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Authoright for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

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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 guest piece written by Anne Boileau about Katharina Luther.

Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife

KatharinaLuther_FrontCover

On 31st October 1517, Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post:

Would you say that Katharina von Bora was one of the first feminists who shaped history?

We cannot claim that Katharina von Bora was a feminist because such a concept did not exist in the 16th Century. She was, however, a strong, well-educated woman living in a patriarchal and authoritarian society.  When she first experienced the secular world she would have been taken aback at the hostility men showed against her sex. This hostility was, if anything, even worse if that woman happened to be a former nun. Former monks were mocked and reviled as well. Ironically, though, the very fact that she had attended a convent school and been raised with the rigorous discipline and training required for a monastic life, gave her spiritual, mental and physical strength. She needed these qualities to adapt to the change in her circumstances on leaving the security of the convent walls.

Common men were lewd, aggressive, mocking. Other women were suspicious because they found the ex nuns rather threatening. As convent pupils, novices and nuns they had received an excellent education. They were literate in Latin and German. Latin was the language of the powerful, the ruling class and of men. And few women at that time, even of good family, could write well, even though they might be able to read. As nuns they had acquired many other skills: illumination of texts; stitching tapestries; sowing, weaving, spinning; gardening and a knowledge of herbal remedies; music, and singing. And of course, the discipline of regular worship throughout each day.

Moreover, living in a silent order of women required the ability to communicate without words. They used sign language, of course, but much more can be conveyed than we, in a very verbal society, can ever imagine, by the eyes, or subtle body language. A nod of assent, a wink, a slight shrug of the shoulder, a turning away, the shadow of a frown or smile, can speak volumes in the absence of speech. And with such daily silent communication they would have developed a high degree of empathy; an ability to avert, where possible, flash points of irritation or strife. More than anything, there was a need to maintain, where possible, peace and harmony among the women. It can’t have been easy!

So if you ask me, was she one of the first feminists? I would say this: she came out of that convent well equipped to weather a world in turmoil. Where the peasants were breaking out of their bondage, the ruling classes were at odds with each other and mustering armies, and the Church was about to split into several factions because they could not agree on fundamental matters of doctrine. Society was divided. So it was, that maids were forbidden to discuss religion while filling their pails at the Wittenberg wells.

Katharina had a strong faith, which was mediated through the Virgin Mary. But she was adaptable, able to bend like a reed in the wind and accept  Martin Luther’s fresh, more direct path to God, believing in justification through faith. From the monastic discipline she was also schooled in hygiene and herbal remedies, so knew how best to take precautions against the plague, which came sweeping across the land every fifteen or so years.

When she married Martin Luther and took over the running of his large and busy household she brought all these qualities to bear on her work and also on her irascible husband. She kept him healthy, curbing his excessive appetite; she kept him calm, mitigating his bad temper and disturbed sleep; she made sure he respected her and other women. And as he was a man filled with doubts and fears, she gave him courage and confidence, and calmed his feelings of guilt and remorse for the unrest he had unleashed on the world. She also gave him children, who would have kept his feet on the ground, because children tell the truth. He was a devoted father.

Dr. Martin Luther played a hugely significant role in the shaping of modern Germany, one might say Europe. Katharina, as his wife, helped shape him, making him more humane and down to earth than he would have been had he remained a lonely, celibate, childless monk.  Therefore, though we can’t really call her a feminist, we can say that she did shape history, simply by being at his side, his helpmeet, companion and wife.

 

About the Author:

Anne Boileau (also known as Polly Clarke) lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.

 

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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 guest piece written by Monika Jephcott-Thomas about the inspirations behind Fifteen Words.

 

Fifteen Words Fifteen Words Cover

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime.

His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?

Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

This is such an incredibly powerful story, it’s so moving and thought provoking.
I have been quite lucky in that I’ve read a number of books that allow readers to see WWII and the aftermath from the side of the German people and this is another book that affords readers the view of German perspective.  Here we see the tale through the eyes of two characters who’s settings are vastly different but and yet they both endure some of the same psychological factors.  Max is a German army doctor who is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to Siberia, where he struggles to keep the prisoners in the POW camp fit and healthy, being given a very strict target that only a proportion of the inmates may be permitted to be ill at any one time.  He also has to juggle caring for the officers of the Soviet Army and their families, and keeping on the right side of the guards in the camp.  His wife Erika, also a doctor, struggles with life without her beloved husband.  She is also heavily pregnant and travels to the home of her inlaws where it will be safer for her to give birth.
Both Max and Erika struggle with loneliness, desperation, and failing optimism.  However, the fifteen words that they are permitted to send each other give hope, courage, determination and love.  The power of those fifteen words can never be underestimated, and the danger they pose cannot be forgotten. 

The descriptive qualities of the writing are absolutely mesmerising, readers get such a clear picture of the perilous and painful journey that Max and his fellow prisoners make to Siberia.  The imagery conjured by the beautifully flowing descriptions was so crisp and added to the aura of power this book has.
Characterisation is so important, and here I think the author has matched the creations perfectly with her plot.  Each of the characters is multi-faceted and as the book progresses, more layers become apparent making them feel more real.  They are all damaged by what they have endured before the war as well as during it, the aftermath leaving inexplicable scars mentally as well as physically.

Such an incredibly poignant and moving tale that seems to have lived on in my head long after I finished reading and one I would highly recommend for fans of WWII fiction.

My thanks to Rachel at Authoright Marketing and Publicity for the opportunity to read this and take part in the Blogival.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post:

I was doing some research into my family history, as most of us do at some stage of our lives and, also as most of us do whose parents grew up during the world wars, I felt their stories were the stuff of novels. Unlike many who will be reading this however, my parents were both German. They met during the Second World War and were eventually separated by it, as Max and Erika are in the novel – my father having to go off and serve as a doctor in the German army, not because he wanted to (he was not a supporter of the Nazi party), but because he was conscripted, like so many young men across the globe in the early ’40s.

The novel is heavily inspired by the real-life trials and tribulations of my parents’ early married lives – simply because they are so inherently dramatic – whilst allowing me to depict the complexity of growing up in Nazi Germany among the potent forces of religion and fascism competing for young souls. It is also an exploration of the strength of human relationships, which the war tested greatly, in an age when letter writing was one of the few long distance forms of communication available to most; when the fighting separated husbands and wives, children and parents for extensive periods of time and over vast distances.

In the book, Max is a POW in a Russian labour camp on the edge of the Arctic for four long and painful years. I was shocked to find out, during my research for this novel, that German POWs in those Soviet labour camps were only allowed to send letters home if they contained a maximum of fifteen words. So, in the novel, Max struggles over how to express everything he wants to tell Erika with such limitations. He enlists the help of his more artistic friends to help him. But finally in despair he writes something damning. It becomes one of the themes of the book: how we can say so much in so few words to beautiful or destructive effect.

The book was written reasonably quickly, in just a few months, but that was mainly because I was steeped in all the stories from the research I had already done into my family history, which had unearthed all manner of letters, documents, photos and tape recordings. The real work was deciding which stories to follow in the novel. Apart from the themes I wanted to explore, the stories I eventually focused on were also the most gripping, page-turning aspects of the history. So the book has its fair share of explosions, air raids, prison breakouts, emergency medical procedures on the battlefield, not to mention a pregnant woman hanging on to the outside of a speeding train!

Fifteen Words is however, primarily a love story. Anyone who likes World War 2 fiction will find it not only interesting but, I think, refreshing. This book is unusual in that there are not many books written in English about the German experience of WW2. Many early readers of the manuscript found it an eye-opener, informing them about the war in a way they never thought of before, without it being a text which tries to rewrite history. In no way does it attempt to say the Nazis weren’t to blame for the atrocities of the war, but it merely points out that not all Germans were Nazis. As with any war, which we see all too often today, there are many civilian casualties, from all strata of society. In this very human story I hope I have been able to reaffirm how all of us, from whatever nation, for all our differences, still suffer and rejoice in remarkably similar ways.

 

About the Author:

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002.

 

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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

 

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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for “Hit” by P.S. Bridge, I am delighted to be able to share a guest post with you written by the author about research and inspiration for this thriller.

Description:

PS Bridge-01

 

A terrorist threat, a sinister organisation, and a threat to the security of the free world.
Renowned British lawyer and Sandhurst military academy dropout, Mark Lucas King is
assigned the case of his career: to prosecute known terrorist Mohammed Al-Azidi.
All King wants is justice and to do his job successfully. But his peaceful life is shattered when
a team of merciless hitmen targets him and his family and the court case collapses. Framed
for assault and suspected of his wife’s murder, King must leave his legal career behind and
go back to his old career as a British Army sniper in order to catch those responsible and
hold them to account. Mark King’s brand of justice doesn’t involve a court room.
Forced to battle against highly trained hitmen to clear his name, King discovers that a
sinister organisation known as Invictus Advoca is operating behind the scenes. What is their
connection to him and the Al-Azidid case?
As the hunt for those responsible takes him far across Europe, can Mark unravel the
mysteries that shroud this secretive organisation and peel back the layers to discover why
he and his family have found themselves the target of professional hitmen?
Time is not on Mark King’s side as he races to prevent a global terror threat, discover who
killed his wife, and find out who wants him dead, and why.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post: Research and Inspiration for ‘Hit’

The idea for ‘Hit’ has really been with me since my early career in the legal and financial industry. I used to wonder what would happen if one of the figures I worked with, those advocates of truth and justice, suddenly went rogue, and how they would handle it.

The character of Mark King was an amalgamation of a few legal figures I have encountered in my life. One in particular was an army reservist and always wanted to be a sniper but the personality of Mark King was several people all rolled into one.

In order for me to set Mark King on the path to becoming a hitman, I had to give him a reason to give up what he was doing, something that would fuel his desire for justice, and what better way than to have his wife murdered by professional killers and, being the kind of character he was, he wouldn’t let that go.

Initially, it was to be a TV series which no one was really interested in, until my partner suggested I turn it into a book. When I completed it, I initially wrote an ending in which Mark lives happily ever after, but try as I may, I couldn’t make it sound convincing, and so it grew into the second book in the series ‘Hitback’. Before much longer, I had planned 5 books, which again turned into what is now a series of 21 books!

When I created the character and his quest for justice, I realised it wouldn’t be confined to just one place, one country, and so I needed some locations. Having never really travelled abroad, I had no physical experience of locations as settings so I turned to the internet. An ex-major client of mine early on in my career was a shipping company and revisiting that part of my life gave me the inspiration for sending Mark King on a mission chasing illegal weapons imports, with one of the main ports my ex-client used, being Holtenau in Germany. I spent a long time researching the port, and, because of its size, it was perfect.

I also wanted things to be difficult for Mark King. It made no sense to have a hero who has it easy all the time and he had to get caught up with the authorities at some point. I couldn’t have him running about Europe killing people without gaining some sort of attention, so the character of Detlev ‘The Wolf’ Kastner was born. Head of the Germany secret intelligence service, he had to be hard and cold but closed off. I wanted him to be almost like a Nazi general, but the reader is never quite sure whether he is with the mysterious Invictus Advoca or not. Again, more research online was needed and, because of having some international clients both as a civil servant and in the legal and financial sector, I had some characters in mind to base Kastner on.

I had always wanted to write a big battle scene, but I wanted to place Mark King as the underdog against a large force of highly trained militia. I wanted a location which was heavily fortified but that was accessible from the air, so it had to be an island. I did some online research and came across an article another ex-client of mine had written about Spain. It was perfect, an uninhabited islet in the Balearic Islands, Spain, located in the Mediterranean Sea off the southern coast of Majorca. As it was uninhabited, and one had a castle, I decided this would be a fantastic setting for my large battle scene. However, Mark King could not stand entirely alone there, and so the character of El Toro ‘The Bull’ was born. An ex-military man and ex-member of Invictus Advoca, he needed to be experienced on the battle field, but older and now living in peace. The idea of him living on one of these islands wasn’t possible without a reason, so I made him the live-in curator and tour guide of the castle.

As I progressed through the book, Mark needed more than just professional killers to contend with. Someone had to have hired them and needed a reason to hire them, so being a massive fan of stories about organisations such as the Knights Templar, the Freemasons and occult power groups, I decided on creating an organisation which operated in the shadows, had a massive amount of financial resources and firepower at its disposal. Conducting research on such organisations, be they fictional, theoretical or actual, I found the same criteria in each of them. They usually had a military reach, and so could have resources such as militia, bounty hunters, and weapons. Next I looked at finances and how they would afford all these things and so I decided that my organisation would have links to pharmaceutical companies, weapons manufacturers, arms dealers, and world governments. As the series progresses, you will see more and more of this organisation come to light. I also wanted the organisation to have been around for decades and have a mysterious occultist type name and so I played around with Latin, until I came up with a title which I thought sounded powerful. The Unconquered Calling was the ‘working title’ for the organisation but once it was translated into Latin, it read ‘Invictus Advoca’. The Advoca part worked really well seeing as my main character and hero was an advocate and this provided me with an opportunity to link Invictus Advoca, to Mark himself.

Not only would Mark come to the attention of this mysterious secretive society, but also a young agent also intent on putting Azidi behind bars. It stood to reason that overseas intelligence agencies would eventually notice Mark King and so MI6 Agent Nathanial Williams was born. Not only is he after Azidi, but he also wants Mark King too. The two men cross paths but Williams just can’t seem to get Mark. It was fun creating an MI6 agent because I wanted to avoid the Bond type of agent and make it more realistic.

From the research perspective of the military side of things, it wouldn’t have been enough just to research guns and weapons online, I had to have more to add depth to the book. I was lucky enough to have grown up with a few friends who started off their lives in the Army cadets and some of them remained in the army and still serve now. The first thing I needed to do was to speak to those who had served in hostile environments and get some first-hand accounts of the use of weapons and how they behaved on the battle field. I spoke at great length with them, but due to sensitive information, they could only tell me so much before I had to elaborate on the rest myself by research.

All of the bad guys in the book are based on actual people I grew up around. After my father’s death when I was 4, my mother and I moved to a council estate and there were some pretty unsavoury characters there. My best friend and I had kept a log over 20 years of all the goings on there and so I delved into this to find inspiration for characters. For example, the characters of Hix and Vose, the two hired hitmen disguised as gardeners, were 2 older lads who gave me and my best friend a pretty rough time. They were perfect for the story and so I built up a collection of bad guys based on my experiences living there. It was the perfect environment to really get a look at the criminal lifestyle and how they behaved and a long time was spent on the phone to my best friend who now lives in Ireland with his young family asking ‘do you remember when this happened, what did so-and-so do and say?’ It was actually great fun and encouraged me to revisit some more traumatic events we experienced back then.

I think every writer has their own way to research and seek inspiration. For me, sometimes ideas come to me in the middle of the night, other times it’s when I listen to music, especially pieces I hear for the first time, and in my mind I build a scene around that piece. If I can, I’ll download or YouTube the piece and listen to it over and over whilst writing the scene. For characters, sometimes I’ll sit in a coffee shop or on the beach, or in the parks or shopping precinct and listen to people’s conversations. The comedian Benny Hill was a great friend of my parents and he used to come around to our house to see us. One of the things my mum said he used for inspiration for sketches was to listen to people’s conversations in the street and use them as the basis for his next sketch. For me, finding different personality types out in public was a great way to find new characters. So really as my partner says, no one is really safe from becoming a character in one of my books!

The main inspiration when I changed Hit from a TV script to a book was my mum. Sadly she never lived to see it as a fully-fledged book but during her chemotherapy sessions, she would ask me to read parts of it and offer critique and suggestions, often saying ‘you can’t say that, he wouldn’t behave that way!’ It took her mind off the pain and sickness. After her death last year, I couldn’t touch the book for a long time, but gradually, the way my mum faced Cancer with bravery and dignity and an outright refusal to give up, became my inspiration and a part of Mark King’s character. I always feel that a large part of my mum is in this book, and it will always remain special to me.

 

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PP and The Hungry Sheep

 

Description:

This short story was based upon the winter of 1963 which saw the country in the grip of severe snowfalls and record breaking cold temperatures. January and February saw many of the Saddleworth villages cut off for days on end. Many of the homes had no electricity as the overhead cables had collapsed under the weight of freezing snow. More than ever the camaraderie and neighbourly support was felt and shared by all in looking after each other. The severe weather caused the sheep from the surrounding Moors to take refuge in the village where farmers and villagers came together to provide emergency shelter and food for them.

 
Our Thoughts & Review:

Yes, “our” thoughts, because today I am joined by my mini book addict to review this lovely book.  Being almost three, I thought this book would be perfect for my daughter as it combines some of her great loves; snow, sheep and lovely bright pictures.  She absolutely loved this book, and it’s now a regular feature in the bedtime book pile (which seems to be growing at an alarming rate!).

With delightful and bright illustrations this book quickly catches the eye of younger readers as well as older ones, and they remind me of the illustrations in books from when I was a child, so there was something comforting and homely about reading this story.  The bright images were crisp and clear so that my little one could point to various pictures and tell me what was happening etc on that page.

The book tells the story of a bad snowfall in the village of Diggle and how it has a great impact on the villagers, Policeman Pete ensuring that people are helped to safety when their homes are without electricity.  The children of the village seem to be having the most fun with the snow, building snowmen and having snowball fights.  Everyone seems to be pulling together to make the best of a tricky situation until Farmer Bill and Policeman Pete discover a flock of hungry and cold sheep who have come down off the Moors in search of shelter and food.  In a show of wonderful community spirit, the local villagers pull together to ensure there is shelter for the sheep and hay is brought for them.

The tale has great feel to it, showing the power of community spirit and the importance of helping each other when difficult situations arise, which is an important message to explain to children.  The way in which the author presents this will appeal to younger readers as the story is fun, they will be able to grasp the concept of the sheep needing help because they are cold and hungry and it helped to create the idea of a friendly police officer who helps people like our other favourite, Fireman Sam.

Living in a rural setting like Diggle, we found this story particularly fun and will be buying some more of the books to expand our collection.

You can buy a copy of Policeman Pete & The Hungry Sheep via Amazon

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Policeman Pete’s Home Safety Tips

Policeman Pete asks that all children should try to learn their full name and also their mummy and daddy’s name. As soon as they are able the child should know their full address.

For the last of Policeman’s Pete’s tips for safety around animals please visit Books From Dusk Till Dawn – https://booksfromdusktilldawn.wordpress.com/ and check out Whispering Stories http://whisperingstories.com/ for tomorrow’s tip.

 

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