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Posts Tagged ‘Celebrating Indie Publishing’

As it’s Friday I am delighted to share another post with you to celebrate independent publishing.  Today’s post features a book that is so different from any other I’ve read recently.  The book in question is Orchard View by Deborah Miles, and Deborah has kindly taken some time out to answer some questions about the ups and downs of being an author.


Book Feature:

Description:

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Digging in the garden, builder and current owner, Bill Maynard, discovers some old bones. He worries that the discovery will upset his plans for renovating and selling the house.

Fortunately, his neighbour tells him the whole area was a burial site at the time of the Black Death and finding bones is commonplace.

“Well, as they’re so old and the museums have enough bones already, I suppose we can ignore them. It’s not like there’s been a murder and we’ve just found the body,” he justified his decision.

But had they?

His discovery sets off a chain of unfortunate events.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Orchard View intrigued me from the moment I heard about it, the book suggested a puzzling mystery and a tale quite different.

Have you ever read a book where the setting has felt like a character in the story? It seems to take on a persona that comes to life through the narrative? Well in this book, the house at the centre of the tale, Orchard View takes on a leading role. Interestingly readers get to “hear” the thoughts of the house as various events take place over the years and this really adds something different to the book and made it stand out to me. The old saying “if these walls could talk” really comes into play when you see the house wishing it could speak up about the bones that are discovered early on in the story.

The story is told through a series of recollections of the inhabitants of the house and those connected with it. The really interesting part for me was that the house seemed to have strong opinions of the people and most definitely a favourite family. To keep the stories linked, Miles uses the voice of the house and the presence of the neighbour next door, so that no matter what year it is in the story and which residents are staying in the house there is always something to connect them.
It’s pretty true that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and you might not always know your neighbours as well as you might think, and this book really reinforces that notion.

It’s quite hard to review this book without giving anything away, there are things I would love to point out about characters or the way that the plot weaves together but that might inadvertently give something away! I will say that the characters are well thought up and there may or may not be ones that get under your skin, have you wanting to shout and have you wondering about them. This is the sort of read that I found impossible to put down and once I’d finished reading it, it was still running through my head.

You can buy a copy of Orchard View via Amazon UK

 

 

Author Feature:

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Author bio & image courtesy of Amazon UK

Deborah Miles is married with three grown-up children and lives in Kent.

She has worked in banking, tourism, education and social services, and has hosted international students for over 30 years.

Her interests include: genealogy, self-improvement, home computing, web design, D.I.Y/gardening, pen friends and writing.

Deborah is independently published and created the imprint Against the Flow Press for her first novel, Orchard View.

Deborah always enjoys hearing from readers!

 

 

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

I find writing can be very therapeutic. It’s great to get my frustrations down on paper and then turn them into fiction that others might enjoy reading. I love creating my characters, and sometimes I get so attached to them that I change the storyline for them.  I also love finding ways to kill them, and my Google search history is quite alarming!

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

I have a story in my head at the minute, but current events in my personal life are preventing me from sitting down and writing it, and what I have got down on paper so far, is not what I wanted to write. I’ve got a couple of issues with the plausibility of the story. I have discussed my storyline with a solicitor friend, and she came up with a completely different, legal way of achieving what I wanted to do in the story, but somehow that isn’t working for me. I feel like I’m banging my head at a brick wall, trying to get the story written the way I want to write it.

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

Ask me this question on another day, and you’d probably get a different answer. Today it would be Donna Siggers’ novel Broken. I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and some scenes and characters are still playing on my mind.  It’s the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t wait for Part 2. I considered answering A Good Night’s Sleep by Stefanie Simpson, but despite it being one of the best indie books I’ve read, it’s a tad racy for my pen.

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

I was recently given a Fitbit, and spend a lot of time walking on the spot whilst reading ebooks on my tablet. It looks silly as it sounds, and I don’t really like anyone in the room while I’m doing it, but I’ve lost 11lbs so far so that’s got to be good for me.  When not writing, I review books on my blog, againsttheflowpress.blogspot.co.uk. I am currently enjoying novels by other indie authors, but I read traditionally published books too.

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

I suppose I would have to answer ‘yes’ to this question. I like a calm, neat and tidy area to work in. Ideally I want to be on my own in the house. Even the cat can be a distraction! The room I work in is also important. Last year I moved my desktop into the den at the front of the house, but found I didn’t like that room. It felt wrong and stifled my creativity. So I moved it back, and immediately felt my creative juices flow again. I must have my housework jobs and other tasks done before I can sit down to write. I suppose that is my way of clearing my mind of any potential interrupting thoughts.

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

My next book has a working title of The Legacy. I am writing the back-story for the deceased at the minute.  Basically it’s about greedy relatives expecting an inheritance. There are a number of murders committed by someone who hopes to increase their share of the estate and a twist of the tale at the end. In Orchard View, I tell readers upfront who the killer is, but I haven’t decided yet whether or not to reveal the identity of the killer at the beginning this time.

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it? 

My debut novel is called Orchard View. Without giving too much away, it tells the story of a house and its various occupants from 1960 through to 1996. Orchard View is the name of the house and I see the house with strong female characteristics – maternal, nurturing and protective. She has her own voice in the story, and comments on some of the situations that occur. The story begins in 1996 when the current owner, a builder, finds some human bones in the garden.  We learn quite quickly the identity of the killer, and what happens to the builder, and others, as a consequence of his find. I don’t think it’s too dark, but it does underline that we do not know our neighbours as well as we might think!

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

Consider reading something by an indie author. There are some truly gifted writers out there who are not traditionally published. And, if you like what you read, then help them out by leaving a review, or at the very least a rating.

 

Social Media Links:

Blog: http://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeborahMiles7
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/againsttheflowpress/

 

A huge thank you to Deborah for taking part in Celebrating Indie Publishing and sharing her thoughts about writing. I have to admit, I have been known to march on the spot when I’m doing the ironing or cooking, although I’ve not tried it whilst reading … yet!

 

 

 

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Welcome along to another Friday here on The Quiet Knitter, and I am delighted to share an author feature with you! The author in the spotlight today is the lovely Kate Vane, so grab a cuppa and join us for a wee chat!


Author Feature:

kate vane author image

Kate Vane writes (mostly) crime fiction. Brand New Friend is her fourth novel.

She has written for BBC drama Doctors and has had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.

She lived in Leeds for a number of years where she worked as a probation officer. She now lives on the Devon coast.

 

 

 

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

I feel like I’m always learning. With each new book I’m asking a question – a series of questions – which I can’t yet answer. Whether it’s research, or craft, or the mysterious world of the imagination, it’s curiosity that drives me.

I also enjoy developing business skills as an indie author. I actually like tinkering with spreadsheets and data and finding my way round new software!

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

I love the freedom and independence of being indie but it can also be a burden. It means you’re responsible for everything and don’t have colleagues to fall back on. Having said that there’s a great indie author community online and I get buoyed up by the fantastic book bloggers who I’ve got to know both as a reader and an author.

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

That’s hard! Ruth Rendell’s Barbara Vine novels were a big influence on me when I started writing. In terms of recent novels, I’d be very happy if I could write something like London Rules by Mick Herron. I love the combination of strong characterisation, twisty plot, dark humour and sharp observation of contemporary events. And he writes beautiful prose as well.

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

I love gardening. We have a small pond and some bird feeders – and a few untidy areas – to encourage wildlife. I also like walking. We’re lucky to live right by the coastal path in South Devon.

Other than that, it’s mainly reading, audiobooks, podcasts and the occasional TV box set!

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

I don’t go in for rituals but I think routine is good. It gets you in the right frame of mind. I like to be up early and to write first thing. I try not to go online until my morning break, and then I go back to writing.

After lunch I generally do other tasks – writing blog posts, reviewing, marketing etc. Depending on what else I’m doing, I may do a second stint of creative work late afternoon or early evening.

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

I used to be superstitious about discussing work in progress but I suppose after four novels I can be more confident that I’ll finish what I start! My main project is the first novel in a series, which features two minor characters from Brand New Friend.

Tilda Green is an activist news blogger, and Freddie Stone is an old-school crime reporter. I thought they would make a great combination with their contrasting interests, strengths – and of course flaws!

In the new novel a murder which provokes a vocal online response but leaves a community saying nothing leads them to join forces to work on the story.

I’ve also got a back-burner project – a humorous mystery novel set near my home, in Torquay. It’s fun to work on and gives me a break from the other book which is much grittier.

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

I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro technique – where you do work in timed sprints. I’ve also started timing my social media use. If the clock is ticking while you’re on Twitter or whatever, you soon decide whether that article on what a commentator you’ve never heard of said about a random celebrity’s response to a politician’s Instagram feed is really a good use of your precious minutes or just an excuse to avoid working!

 

A huge thank you to Kate for joining me today, it was wonderful to get an insight into her writing process and find out more about her new book (which I will have to add to my groaning mountain of books to read). I love the idea of writing in timed sprints and have seen it used to good effect by academics (namely my sister in law), wonder if that might work with writing reviews!?

 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://katevane.com

Twitter: @k8vane

Facebook: /k8vane

 

 

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane

Wherever Paolo went, Claire had got there first. The gigs, the parties, the enigmatic artist he was sure he was in love with. He would never have joined the group if it hadn’t been for Claire. And maybe, if he hadn’t, no one would have died.

Journalist Paolo Bennett learns that Mark, an animal rights activist he knew as a student in the 80s, has been exposed as a former undercover cop. A news blog claims Mark was the fabled spy who never went back, who liked his new life better than his own.

Paolo wants the truth. He wants the story. Despite everything, he wants to believe his friend. But Mark isn’t making it easy for him, disappearing just as everyone wants answers.

Was their group linked to a death on campus, one the police were strangely reluctant to investigate? Why is Mark’s police handler lying dead in his garden?

And why does Paolo suspect, even now, that Claire knows more than he does?

Buy from Amazon: https://mybook.to/brandnewfriend

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Friday’s seem to roll around so quickly, and that’s never a bad thing when it means that it’s time to share a review of another great book from an independent author or publisher. This week is the turn of Death Rope by the wonderful Leigh Russell.
Death Rope was published by No Exit Press on 26th July 2018.

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** My thanks to Katherine at No Exit Press for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

THEY SAY SUICIDE. SHE SAYS MURDER.

Mark Abbott is dead. His sister refuses to believe it was suicide, but only Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel will listen.

When other members of Mark’s family disappear, Geraldine’s suspicions are confirmed.

Taking a risk, Geraldine finds herself confronted by an adversary deadlier than any she has faced before… Her boss Ian is close, but will he arrive in time to save her, or is this the end for Geraldine Steel?

My Thoughts & Review:

I think it’s safe to say that I am a huge fan of the Geraldine Steel series by Leigh Russell, and having discovered this series part way through, I wasted no time in catching up with the previous books.
Death Rope is the eleventh book of the Geraldine Steel thriller series and it’s a cracker!
Mostly told from the perspective of the detective, readers soon become swept away with the investigation of the death of Mark Abbott, what initially looked like a suicide is soon unearthed as murder and makes for a complex, head scratcher of a case.

For me, the magic in Russell’s writing comes with the clever characterisation that she weaves into her books. It never fails to impress me that each character is so real, so different and so unique. The various personalities seem to jump off the pages as you read, and you find yourself thinking of them as “real” people.
Not all of the key players in the plot are identified straight away, and you could be forgiven for thinking that this would make it hard to follow. Leigh Russell is a master at creating several separate strands to her plot, revealing small details that are just enough to give readers a glimpse at another aspect of the plot and making them wonder how it all links up. I really don’t want to say anything about the plot

As always with Leigh Russell’s writing, there is nothing gratuitous and the power of suggestion is used well. The way that tension simmers away throughout the book is key, readers are aware at times that something is very wrong, and there is an undercurrent of unease bubbling away all the time regardless of the focus being on the investigation or Geraldine’s personal life.

Whilst this is the eleventh book in the series, I would say that you can read this as a standalone. There is enough detail to keep readers in the loop of past stories without bogging down fans of the series, but I would recommend reading the previous books to fully appreciate the character and the cases she’s worked on.

You can buy a copy of Death Rope via:

Amazon UK
No Exit Press (Publisher)

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Hello and welcome along to another Celebrating Indie Publishing post!  I am delighted to be be able to shine a spotlight on some truly wonderful indie authors and publishers out there, and today is no exception.  I am joined by Margaret Skea, author of the Munro series and a fictionalised account of the early life of Katharina von Bora.


Author Feature:

Portrait

Margaret Skea grew up in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’, so is no stranger to conflict. Her passion is for authentic, atmospheric historical fiction, and now living in Scotland she chose a Scottish story for her first novel series.

Turn of the Tide won her the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best 1st Time Novelist 2014, and the sequel A House Divided was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016. Both follow the fortunes of a fictional family trapped in the long-running and bloody historic feud between the Cunninghames and Montgomeries, known as the Ayrshire Vendetta. The third volume is due in May. In the meantime she has turned her attention to 16th century Germany to bring a little known, but hugely influential woman – Katharina von Bora – out of the shadows. She is also a prize-winning short story writer and her first collection Dust Blowing includes some of her prize-winning stories.

 

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

Can I cheat and mention two?

The first is interacting with readers. There is nothing more satisfying, having written a book, than to hear that it has impacted positively in someone else’s life.

And secondly, while I’m writing, the most exciting part of the process is the joy of seeing characters coming to life on the page: growing and developing, sometimes in quite unexpected ways.

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

That’s easy – the need to market and promote both myself and the books. While I love talking about books and the craft of writing, I don’t enjoy the (essential) selling aspect.

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

I guess this is another way of asking what is my all-time favourite book. Going by the one that I’ve re-read most times it would be Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery. There is one point in that book at which I always have a lump in my throat no matter how many times I read it. (And I’ve read the book and watched the film multiple times.) I’d love to be able to stir a reader’s emotions to that extent.

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

I’m a Christian first and a writer second, so my priority always has to be out-working my faith, whether that is through my writing or in other aspects of my life. Consequently I strive to keep a balance between writing and responsibilities within my church and in the home, as well as making time for family and friends.

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

I can concentrate much more in the mornings, so in an ideal week I will write four of five mornings per week and I always set myself a target of 1000 words per day. Sometimes I manage more, sometimes less, but if I can achieve a word increase (after light editing) of 5,000 per week then I’m on track.

I’m not very good at self-discipline, though, so for the last 3 books I have gone to somewhere other than my own house to write, where I can neither be distracted by anyone else, or (worse) distract myself!

I do find deadlines concentrate the mind, so if I have one coming up I find I can write for many more hours in a day. But one essential for me is silence. (I can just about cope with the sound of the central heating, on the basis that without it I’d be miserable!)

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

Book 3 in the Munro series (Turn of the Tide, A House Divided) is with the editor just now and I hope it will be available in May.* I don’t have a title for it yet, though, which is a wee headache. And within the next fortnight I shall be beginning the second (and final) novel based on the life of Katharina von Bora (the escaped nun who became Martin Luther’s wife.) I hope to have it out in time for Christmas 2018. After that? Who knows? What I do know is that for the foreseeable future I am likely to stick to historical fiction and probably in and around the 16th century.

*Book 3 in the Munro series has now been published with the title By Sword and Storm.

Can you tell me a little bit about your latest book? How would you describe it and why should we go read it?

The latest published book is Katharina: Deliverance, which came out in October 2017. It is a fictionalized account of the early life of Katharina von Bora, up to the point of her marriage to Martin Luther. (The second book will finish her story.) She is a fascinating and enigmatic character who came alive to me through travelling around Saxony following in her footsteps. As to why anyone should read it – this is what the reviewer on the Discovered Diamonds website said –

     ‘First, a confession. All I really knew of Martin Luther was an impression of a man  

   in monk’s garb (incorrect) nailing parchments to church doors in the dead of night

  (also incorrect) and schoolboy giggles when reading about a diet of Worms. Thus,

  when this book arrived in my inbox, my heart rather sunk a bit for it is not a period

  that I am particularly well-versed, or even interested, in.

  However, any misgivings I may have had were dispelled completely by the time I had

  reached the second page. The quality and style – written in the first person and the

  present tense – didn’t so much grab me as to physically haul me back through the

  centuries and wouldn’t let me go until I had read every single word.’

 

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

To readers? – Don’t waste time finishing a book that isn’t to your taste. There are too many good books out there and you’ll never have time to read them all.  And to writers? – Treat your readers with respect and never, ever short-change them by giving them less than your best.

 

 

Buy links:
Turn of the Tide (Book 1 in the Munro series)
A House Divided (Book 2 in the Munro series)
By Sword and Storm (Book 3 in the Munro series)

Katharina: Deliverance

Dust Blowing and Other Stories

 

A huge thank you to Margaret for joining me today and sharing a little about herself. I have to admit, there are a few books that I read regularly that can pull the same emotions from me, regardless of how many times I’ve read them before. I sympathise about the distractions, I’m awful for being distracted by absolutely anything … even favoring doing a load of ironing instead of what I should be doing!

Social Media Links:

Website: https://margaretskea.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargaretSkeaAuthor.Novels/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/margaretskea1

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It’s such an honour to welcome along another wonderfully talented author to sit in the hot seat to day to share a little about the person behind the books and find out what’s on the horizon, so without further ado, welcome Maggie Christensen!


Author Feature:

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Author Image:  Krista Ellelstun

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA, her native Scotland or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them.

From her native Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where selects and delivers books to the housebound.

A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks. In 2014 she self-published Band of Gold and The Sand Dollar, Book One in the Oregon Coast Series and in 2015, The Dreamcatcher, Book Two in the Oregon Coast Series, and Broken Threads, the sequel to Band of Gold. Madeline House, Book Three in the Oregon Coast Series was published in July 2016, and Champagne for Breakfast, an offshoot from the Oregon Coast series set in Noosa, and The Good Sister, set in Scotland and featuring Bel from Broken Threads in 2017.

Maggie can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or on her website.

 

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

I love the thrill when I read a review or receive an email from a reader telling my how much they’ve enjoyed one of my books. It makes it all worthwhile to know that I’ve given pleasure to someone.

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

Without a doubt, marketing. I’m much rather be writing and lost in a world with my characters.

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

So many. But I’ll choose Marcia Willett’s Chadwick trilogy. These were the first books I read by this author and I immediately became a fan. I love her characters who become friends the reader really cares about, the sense of place and the way Willett brings back characters from earlier books to her readers.

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

If I’m not tapping away at my laptop, you might find me curled up in my favourite chair with a book, walking along the river or the beach with my husband, or sipping coffee with him in one of our favourite cafes along the Noosa River. I also select and deliver books to a lady who is housebound as a volunteer for our local library. I live surrounded by books – my idea of heaven.

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

I like silence and prefer to write in the early morning, though, if I don’t get my work count done then, I’ll revisit my manuscript in the late afternoon. I like to have a glass of water by my side and my copy of The Emotional Thesaurus, plus my notebook for the novel.

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

 I’m currently editing the sequel to The Good Sister, called Isobel’s Promise which should be published mid-year. When I wrote the end to The Good Sister, I knew I couldn’t leave Bel and Matt and had to continue their story. Isobel’s Promise is set in both Australia and Scotland

I’m also writing a follow on to Isobel’s Promise. A Model Wife will pick up Celia, a minor character in the Good Sister and follow her story almost two years later. It seems I’m developing a Sydney series as, in this book, readers will be reunited with characters from Band of Gold and Broken Threads too, some of whom appear briefly in Isobel’s Promise.

I love meeting old friends in the books I read – something Marci Willett does so well – so also enjoy writing them and hope my readers enjoy this too.

 

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

It’s never too late to follow your dreams.

 

Can you tell me a little bit about your latest book? How would you describe it and why should we go read it?

Set in Scotland and moving from the nineteen-thirties to the present day, The Good Sister is a women’s fiction book featuring compelling real-life characters, fascinating plot twists and a strong mid-life heroine.

To quote one reviewer The Good Sister is a beautiful Scottish based wartime saga that fuses the past with the present, through two unforgettable women, who are both named Isobel.

In 1938, as the world hurtled towards war, twenty-year-old Isobel MacDonald fell madly in love. But fate and her own actions conspired to deny her the happiness she yearned for. Many years later, plagued with regrets and with a shrill voice from the past ringing in her ears, she documents the events that shaped her life.

In 2015, sixty-five-year-old Bel Davison returns from Australia to her native Scotland to visit her terminally ill aunt. Reading Isobel’s memoir, she is beset with memories of her own childhood and overcome with guilt. When she meets her aunt’s solicitor, events seem to spiral out of control and, almost against her will, she finds herself drawn to this enigmatic Scotsman.

What is it that links these two women across the generations? Can the past influence the future?

Buy links

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2yK8iF6

Amazon US http://amzn.to/2h0DNB6

Amazon AU http://amzn.to/2hXWMMt

 

A huge thank you to Maggie for joining me today and sharing a little about herself, it’s always lovely to get to know more about the author behind the books.  I love the sound of The Good Sister, will definitely have to add this to my ever growing reading list.

 

 

Social Media Links:

Website: http://maggiechristensenauthor.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maggiechristensenauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaggieChriste33
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8120020.Maggie_Christensen
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maggiechriste33/

 

 

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I am bursting with excitement today as it’s time for another Celebrating Indie Publishing. Friday never seems to come round quick enough, the day I dedicate to screaming from the rooftop about the great indie publishers and authors, and today I am delighted to share a review of a book that’s firmly reserved it’s place on my top books of the year list!

The book in the spotlight today is … The Italian Chapel by Philip Paris.  It is published by Black and White Publishing in March 2018.


Book Feature:

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Description:

Orkney 1942. Forbidden lovers, divided by war, united by a secret act of creation.

Amid the turmoil of the Second World War, a group of Italian prisoners is sent to the remote Orkney island of Lamb Holm. In the freezing conditions, hunger and untold hardships of Camp 60, this ragtag band must work together to survive.

Domenico, a talented artist, is among them. He inspires his comrades to create a symbol of peace during these dark days of war, and out of driftwood and scrap they build the Italian chapel: a beacon of hope and beauty in a world ravaged by war.

The chapel soon becomes a place of love, too. When Giuseppe, another POW, falls for local woman Fiona, he decides to hide a token of his love there . . . the secret of which is unveiled for the first time in The Italian Chapel.

Based on an incredible true story, this heartbreaking and inspiring tale tells of forbidden passion, lifelong friendships and the triumph of the human spirit.

 

 

My Thoughts & Review:

This is such a beautifully written tale that calls out to the heart and soul of readers, there’s something so deeply moving in the way that Paris has taken the story of the chapel on Orkney and brought it to life with some exquisite writing.

I loved the way that the author took the time to lay a steady foundation for his characters, giving the reader an opportunity to get to know these POWs, see the volatility of the situation they were in and the struggles that faced them as they learned to adapt to their foreign surroundings.  The work undertaken by the POWs on Orkney was on an epic scale, creating foundations and building the causeways that would later link the islands of Orkney together.
The real special aspect of this is that some of these personalities are based on men who were there at the time, giving readers a wonderful personal link to the events taking place.  I appreciate that Paris took the time to include notes at the end of the book to let readers know what happened after the war to the men mentioned (where possible).

The story of how the chapel came into existence is a special one and I have to admit that I’ve always admired the chapel and it’s beauty but never actually looked into the history of it, never taken the time to appreciate the significance of it and I am forever grateful to this book for highlighting the story and the work of the team of men behind it.  Whilst part ficionalised, the story recounts the hard work and skill that was necessary to create this beautiful chapel.  The human element to the story is what really pulls the reader in, feeling a connection with characters and their lives really makes this stand out and feel so real.

Philip Paris has a wonderful way of bringing his writing to life, the descriptions of the chapel, artwork and people really conjure vivid images whilst reading this, and after reading this I did go and look up the chapel online to see more images to fully appreciate the intricate and awe inspiring details.  The inclusion of the detail of Palumbi’s iron work had me feeling a lump in my throat, his love of a local woman driving him to leave a lasting memento behind.

Such a special story, written with sympathy, sensitivity and attention to detail.  And one I would highly recommend.

You can buy a copy of The Italian Chapel via:

Amazon UK
Waterstones

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Today’s Celebrating Indie Publishing features an author from Scotland who has just recently published his second novel, Hellcorp with Urbane Publications.  I am delighted to welcome Johnathan Whitelaw to join me today to share a little about himself, the ups and downs of being an author, and making time to write.

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Description:

Sometimes even the Devil deserves a break!

Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.

But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…

This is a perfectly-pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch.

You can buy a copy of Hellcorp via:

Amazon UK


Author Feature:

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Author Image & bio courtesy of Urbane Publications

Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. HellCorp is his second novel following his debut, Morbid Relations.

 

 

 

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

This is a really difficult one – and to start off with too! You’re cruel!

Being an author is a real privilege – and I truly mean that. Just being able to call myself that is a huge reward for all the hours, days, months and years spent crafting characters, settings and terrible things to do to them. So being part of a collective that dates all the way back centuries, eons even, truly is a joy and I’m immensely humbled and proud to call myself an author.

Another part of the job that I love is the creativity. Not everybody can say at the end of a working day that they’ve catalogued a conversation between God and The Devil about holiday plans. HellCorp, in this case, gave me that opportunity and allowed me to say it to people without sounding completely bonkers!

You never really know what a new day or writing session will bring. I love that and I know it’s something I don’t acknowledge enough. So thank you for making me appreciate just how creative, vibrant and sometimes whacky my job can be. I love it!

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

Another tough question! That’s a one, two punch. I think I might feel like I’ve gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson after this!

In all honesty, I don’t think I have a least favourite part of being an author. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do from pretty much as soon as I could think. So to be able to do it really is wonderful.

There’s no part of being an author I don’t enjoy. Whether that’s editing, promotion, speaking about my work or giving advice, I enjoy it so much. And I’ve been lucky enough in my career so far to be able to do all of those things. I mean, how can you not love being able to say you opened for Christopher Brookmyre and were the first speaker EVER at a book festival. Or that you’ve had people all over the world send you pictures of your work and say how much they enjoy it. Really, that’s very special.

But I know that’s a cop out of an answer. And as a journalist, I know how infuriating it is to get a cop out answer.

So if I had to pick a least favourite part I would say the indecision.

With HellCorp,its characters and overall mood – there are a lot of different genres and styles at work. From sci-fi to fantasy, crime to thriller and a little bit of romance in there too, I found there were a great many avenues I could go down, almost at every turn. Deciding what to do, when to do it and who to do it with and to can be an infuriating and liberating experience.

I can also thank the wonderful people at my publisher Urbane for making this a whole lot easier. Matthew Smith and the crew have been so supportive with HellCorp, always happy to answer questions and offer advice – it can make a big difference for a writer. To know there’s a team who believe in you and your work as much as Urbane do really is an honour. And I can’t thank them enough.

In the end, and I’m not sure how other authors do this, when it comes to indecision I go with my gut. But it can be a long, hard wait until the very end before you realise you’ve made the right decision.

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

Now this is something I CAN answer.

When I was about ten or 11, my mum brought home a copy of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13.75 by the late, great and much missed Sue Townsend. My parents both worked for a national newspaper so they would often bring back press editions, previews, all kinds of stuff that was sent in. And it really was all sorts, from video games two months early to videos and of course books.

This would have been the mid-90s so I’m not sure if it was a re-release of the novel. But regardless, I was hooked from page one. I don’t know what it was, it still gives me shivers today – I’m 32!

While I’d always been a keen reader before, Townsend’s style, her knack for putting down on page almost exactly what I was feeling and going through as a young lad, and above all else her humour, meant I fell in love with the novel and reading in general. And I can safely say that I wouldn’t be the writer, or maybe even the person too, without it as a companion.

So if I got the opportunity to write any book, it would be that one. Really capturing lightning in a bottle the way Townsend did time and time again is something very special. But I know no matter how hard I tried, I’d never match her opus.

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

I love sport, the theatre, cinema and all aspects of pop culture really. I guess it’s a byproduct of my generation.

Writing is a huge part of my life and I like to get something down every day. But when I’m not doing that I always like to stay up to date on the latest news, reviews, TV shows and happenings. It also comes about from being a journalist – being a right nosy bugger.

And of course I love to read. As I mentioned before, this is a pastime that’s been with me all of my life. My P1 teacher told my mother that I should be encouraged to read more. It could be anything, even The Beano she said. And it worked. I even still get a Beano annual every Christmas!

I love to read almost any and every genre of fiction and more recently I’ve branched into political and ancient history. It helps that research is a big part of my writing so it always feels a little like a busman’s holiday.

I adore football and I’ve been a long-suffering Everton supporter for all of my life. My dad and step-mother are from Liverpool so I’ve got a strong link to that fantastic city.

And this year I’ve also been planning for a wedding! HellCorp is dedicated to my partner Anne-Marie and I’m delighted to say that we’re looking forward to our big day in the autumn. That’s been a fantastic experience of course and, along with HellCorp coming out, it’s made 2018 really a wonderful and special year for me.

But writing is still a huge part of my life. The enjoyment I get from it really does mean that it’s never very far away from what’s going on in my life. Inspiration comes from quite literally anywhere and everywhere. So I’m always on the lookout.

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

I used to. I used to have a very intense, rigid routine that I stuck to religiously.

For my debut novel Morbid Relations (2015) I completed the first draft in just six weeks. What would end up the final edition was done in about two months. I’m a fast worker but I admit there was a bit of a cheat for this.

Myself and Anne-Marie had moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh but I was still commuting for work. That meant an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening on the train – uninterrupted, focussed. I’m used to noisy, busy newsrooms so rush hour trains were no problem at all.

My circumstances changed not long after Morbid Relations came out and I didn’t have that two-hour window every day. And in hindsight, I don’t think I would go back to such a concentrated, intense style of writing. I think it worked really well for Morbid Relations but I know now, in terms of my writing style, my approach and what I know works, it wouldn’t do.

I don’t really have any set routines when it comes to writing. As I mentioned before I like to write SOMETHING every day. It can be 50 words, it can be 5,000, it doesn’t really matter. Making progress, making time for whatever I’m working on is important. I get to write all day as a journalist so the transition to my fiction work is normally very smooth and easy.

And I pride myself on being able to write anywhere and everywhere. It’s a byproduct of being a  journalist, where you’re ALWAYS up against the clock and often not in the most comfortable or amicable scenarios.

For HellCorp I was able to work on this at a more relaxed pace. That didn’t stop me from going on huge five, ten, sometimes twenty thousand word marathon sessions. What I found with HellCorp, and in particular the character of The Devil, was the enthusiasm that I threw myself into it with. Unlike any other project I’ve worked on before, I really couldn’t wait to get back into that world and it’s characters.

It’s a novel about relationships, about growing, about acceptance. And being able to explore those themes through a great story, some fantastic characters and setting meant that it never, ever felt like a chore to work. And I’m glad to say that’s carried over into the next adventure. But no spoilers!

Sat down at the laptop, a cup of tea and a rich tea biscuit (the single greatest biscuit of all time I should add) suits me just fine.

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

I’m always working. I’ve got a notebook filled with ideas of novels, novellas, comic books, scripts, you name it that I want to write. It just depends on what’s on the go.

As I briefly alluded to, I have a couple of ideas for more adventures with The Devil and the HellCorp cast. I don’t want to give too much away because it’s not fair on those who haven’t read the book yet (even though I love being a big spoil-sport! Wicked I know)

What I will say is that if there was ever a case of proving you can do something well you’ll get asked to do so again then The Devil is that. What that is, who it involves and whether he’s up to the challenge, well you’ll just have to wait and see!

 

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

And a nice tricky one to finish with. Lovely!

Whenever I’m asked to offer some advice or wisdom, I always go back to the best I was given.

When I was in university (I studied psychology before going on to creative writing and journalism) I got a tidbit from a lecturer that barely a day goes by where I don’t think about it.

“You can’t edit a blank page.”

On the face of it, it’s pretty handy for authors and writers. Get something down on the page – even if it’s absolute tosh, you’ve at least got something to start with. Sit down, write it and take it from there. By the time you’re finished that initial scribble might be absolutely unrecognisable. Or it’s the start of something really special. Regardless, it’s a start and it gets you started.

And I suppose it’s a mantra I’ve used in the rest of my life too. If you just get started with SOMETHING, then you’ve gotten over the hardest part. Everything from then on in is a learning curve and that, ultimately, will get you where you want to be.

The best advice, I’ve found, is usually the simplest. And that usually makes it the easiest to forget. So sometimes all you need is to hear it from somebody else.

It works for me. And hopefully other people too.

 

A huge thank you to Johnathan for joining me today and being so open and entertaining.  There is some extremely good advice in here for aspiring authors, and some wonderfully chuckle worthy answers to some tricky questions, and I doff my hat to you planning a wedding whilst writing and publicizing a novel!  Good luck to you and Anne-Marie for the Autumn, and yes, rich teas are awesome biscuits!!

 

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @JDWhitelaw13
Facebook: JonathanWhitelawAuthor

 

 

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As we’re almost half way through the year I figured that it might be a good time to round up some of the great indie books that I’ve featured so far, and some of the great authors who have given their time to take part in the author interviews.

Links to each of the book features and author features are below, alternatively if you want to use the search function at the top of the page just type in the name of the book or author to bring up the relevant page.

The books that have featured:

Book Feature Links:

Goblin – Ever Dundas
The Wreck of The Argyll – John K. Fulton
Blue Night – Simone Buchholz
The Trouble Boys – E.R. Fallon
Last Orders – Caimh McDonnell
Never Rest – Jon Richter
Spanish Crossings – John Simmons
Rose Gold – David Barker
Bermuda – Robert Enright
The Story Collector – Evie Gaughan
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter – Cherry Radford
Rebellious Spirits – Ruth Ball
Ten Year Stretch – Various
The Soldier’s Home – George Costigan
Burnout – Claire MacLeary

 

The authors who have taken part in author features, either alongside a book feature or alone:

 

Author Feature Links:

E.R. Fallon
Derek Farrell
Heather Osborne
Jon Richter
Steve Catto
Mark Tilbury
David Barker
Evie Gaughan
Cherry Radford
Anne Stormont
George Costigan

As always, I am forever grateful to the authors, publishers, and publicists for taking part in my Celebrating Indie Publishing feature.  I’m also deeply grateful to you, the reader for joining me each Friday and sharing my love of indie publishing, joining in, commenting, sharing posts and buying some of these wonderful books.

Without each of the fantastic people mentioned above, none of this would be possible!

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Welcome to another Friday, and a post to celebrate another great book from a brilliant indie publisher.  Today’s book is the magnificent The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan which was published Urbane Publications on 14th June 2018.


Book Feature:

thestorycollector-667x1024Description:

A beautiful and mysterious historical romance from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris.

Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English.

But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life…..

Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve.

The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan’s latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell. Perfect for fans of Jess Kidd and Eowyn Ivey.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Every now and again a book comes along that utterly captures your attention, takes your breath away and roots itself deeply in your heart….
I’ve been fortunate enough to have encountered a rare handful of these books, Rose McGinty’s Electric Souk, Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin, and William Ryan’s The Constant Soldier instantly spring to mind, but it’s fair to say that Evie Gaughan’s The Story Collector will be joining them.

This is a beautifully written tale that captures the heart and imagination of readers as it deftly weaves together two stories from different timelines that pull a range of emotion from the audience.  Readers first encounter a hint of mysticism, folklore and sadness from the opening pages, setting the tone perfectly for what lies ahead.

The two lead female characters in this book are not dissimilar in their struggles – both trying to find their place in the world and rebuilding after heartbreaking loss.  2010 sees the reader meet Sarah Harper, an American woman on a slow spiral of self destruction.  Life hasn’t worked out fairly for her, events have robber her of joy and happiness, her marriage has broken down and she seeks solace in alcohol.
Alcohol being the catalyst for a journey that takes her hundreds of miles from home, where she discovers a diary written by Anna, a young Irish woman in 1910.
Anna is an eighteen year old woman who lives in Thornwood Village, surrounded by tales of fairies, superstition and folklore, tales that the villagers are fiercely proud of.  An American scholar, Harold Griffin-Kraus, arrives in the village with the desire to hear the tales and collect them for publishing and soon takes Anna on as his assistant.  Their joint explorations of folklore and myth are beautifully and hauntingly captured through Gaughan’s awe inspiring writing.  The tales, whilst “otherworldly” are entrancing and having an interest in mythology and folklore, I found these utterly beguiling, wanting to read more.

Clever use of diary entries give narration from Anna’s perspective and breaks up Sarah’s story, slowly giving readers a heartbreaking tale from both of the main characters.  Only when the time is right does Gaughan reveal the full extent of the tragedy that befell her characters and by doing so, ensures that readers have become invested in her wonderfully crafted creations.

The exploration of emotion and human nature is beautifully written, at times the decisions made by the characters may not be fully understandable.  But when faced with the facts of what they have encountered, you soon begin to see that the decisions, actions etc are those of a fragile and damaged person, trying to do “the right thing”, without any concrete idea what the right course may be.  The evocative and descriptive writing is magical!  I found that I could see the grandeur of Thornwood House, the cramped but homely cottage of the Butler family, the warmth of Anna’s love for Betsy the family cow, but also the vivid rawness of Sarah’s emotional state.
Initially I struggled to connect with Sarah, something about this character felt hard and unreachable but the more I read, the greater my understanding became.  I found that I needed to know what went so wrong in her life, I want to find out more about her and I wanted her to stop and take a moment to just ‘be’.

An absolutely enchanting story that captures the heart of readers and transports them.

You can buy a copy of The Story Collector via:

Amazon UK


Author Feature:

evie-goodreads

Evie Gaughan is the author of The Heirloom, a fusion of historical and contemporary fiction set in Ireland and The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris, a magical story about a French boulangerie.  Her third novel, The Story Collector, will be published by Urbane Publications in June 2018.

Living on the West Coast of Ireland, which is not renowned for its sunny climate, Evie escapes from the inclement weather into a converted attic, to write stories and dream about underfloor heating. Growing up in a walled medieval city, Evie developed a love of storytelling and all things historical. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, her stories are full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell.

Evie is also an artist and has been known to hold the odd exhibit of her works in her native Galway.

 

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

Escaping into my imagination and creating something tangible out of nothing.  Seeing my manuscript make the journey from my head, to my laptop and ultimately to a book that I can hold in my hands.  I don’t think any author takes that process for granted, because from the moment that little idea pops into your head, you’re never really sure if it’s going to make it.

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

Aside from the crippling self-doubt??  I suppose, it’s having to fight to be taken seriously.  I think when people hear that you are a writer, but they haven’t heard of your books, they assume you’re delusional!  Lots of people are writers, it’s not some sacred vocation, we don’t wear robes (well, not all the time!)  So yes, that can get a bit tiring.

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

Oh my God, this is tough!  Actually, I’m going to give myself a get-out clause and choose a non-fiction book.  I wish I had written The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  It’s like a bible for creative types and has inspired millions of people around the world to pursue a more creative life.  I don’t know if I would be a writer today, had I not read that book – so yes, I would love to have written something that helps others find their inner spark!

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

Honestly, I’m not sure I know how to switch off properly!  Do any of us?  But when I do, I like the simple things in life like being in nature, being with people I love.

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

If being disorganised is a routine, then yes!  My favourite place to write is in my attic (when it’s warm enough).  I feel high above the world up there, so I put on some music and try to escape into the world I’m creating.  I’m not so much disciplined as dedicated.

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

I’m slowly piecing together the beginnings of my fourth novel, which I’m hoping will be a bit like Cloud Atlas but not as confusing!

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

Read what makes you happy – life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy.

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it?


The Story Collector begins in 1910, in a small lrish village called Thornwood, where a young American scholar undertakes a study to prove the existence of fairies.  He hires a local girl, Anna Butler, to help with his research, but before he can finish his work, he is thrown into prison and charged with murder.  One hundred years later, a young American woman arrives by chance in the same village, uncovering the true story that has been kept hidden for a century.

The Story Collector is a novel full of folklore and superstition.  It explores the unseen world that lies just beyond our fingertips, the fluttering of wings against the windowpane, blurring the lines between reality and imagination.

If you love stories that find magic in the everyday, then this one is for you!

 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://eviegaughan.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/evgaughan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/evgaughan/

 

 

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Today I’m delighted to bring you not one but two posts to celebrate Indie Publishing, one is an author feature and one is a review.  The author feature (should have) posted earlier and now it’s time to share my review of the prequel novella Bermuda which is published today!

Book Feature:

Description:

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Discover how it all began…

Franklyn Jones is a devoted husband, a loving father and a middle manager working in London. His only secret is he can see ‘The Otherside’, a world that hides in the shadows of our own. After his claims of these creatures leads to the loss of his family and his commitment to a mental health facility, Franklyn’s life came to a complete stand still.

Eventually, Franklyn is recruited by the BTCO, a secret agency that monitors and maintains the truce between both worlds. Thrust into an advanced training regime based on his ‘gifts’, Franklyn soon finds himself out on his first case, investigating the disappearance of several people in Elvedon Forest in Suffolk.

Closely monitored by his trainer, Denham, Franklyn edges further into this new world, hunting a violent entity that lives within the trees, whilst also being watched by a mysterious warrior.

The explosive prequel novella to DOORWAYS and THE ABSENT MAN, BERMUDA takes you back to where it all started.

Are you ready for the answers?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

I have been a huge fan of the Bermuda Jones series since I first discovered it last year and I was ecstatic when I heard that the author had been working on a prequel novella that explained the details of how our protagonist came to the attention of the BTCO and how his world was turned upside down by what he learned from his introductions to their ways.

The exploration of this character has always been one of the things I loved about Enright’s writing most, he has a way of bringing his characters to life and making them real for readers.  Franklyn “Bermuda” Jones is a troubled and broken soul, events in his life have conspired against him, he can see things that others cannot and this in turn makes everyone around him think that he’s lost his mind.  He’s lost those closest to him and the pain is almost too much for him.  His recruitment to the BTCO is his saving grace, the training her undergoes is the start of turning his life around, giving him a reason to live for.

The great thing of reading the prequel after reading the other novels is that it refreshed my memory of events and gave me answers for things that I had wondered about whilst reading the books.  Just how Bermuda got his nickname, what was the root cause of the hatred between Bermuda and Hugo were some of the things I had wondered about and I was so pleased to see that they were answered here, and it was brilliant getting to see more of Denham, a character that I found fascinating in previous books.

With all of these books, you can read them as stand alones, there is enough detail given about back stories etc to explain events and connections between characters without leaving readers feeling adrift as to previous events.

Highly readable and enjoyable series and one I would recommend!

You can buy a copy of Bermuda via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Author Photo

Born and raised in North West London and now residing in Hertfordshire, Robert Enright has been writing for over 10 years. His debut novel – ONE BY ONE – was self published on Amazon in March 2015, receiving critical acclaim and was nominated for Books Go Social Book of the Year 2015. The violent, revenge thriller gave Rob a path into crime fiction, but the constantly embraced geek within him went a different way. 2016 will see the release of DOORWAYS – published by Urbane Publications – the first in the Bermuda Jones series, a dark sci-fi about an agency dealing with the threat of a parallel world. He can’t wait to write the whole series – if he can put down his Xbox controller or his Nerf Guns!

For more information about Rob and his upcoming books, feel free to check him out on social media:

Twitter – @REnright_Author
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/robenrightauthor

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