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Today I am thrilled to welcome Maggie Christensen to join me to share a piece that she’s written about her life, her writing and the connections in her stories.


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 – heartwarming tales of second chances.

From her native Glasgow, 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 she selects and delivers books to the housebound. Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks.

When I emigrated from Scotland to Australia in my mid-twenties, lured by ads to Come and Teach in the Sun, featuring a man wearing swimming trunks and a gown and mortarboard, I had no idea that, fifty years later, I would be writing novels set in my native land.

When, as I neared retirement, I did begin writing fiction, I set my first novels in Australia where I lived and in Florence, Oregon where my mother-in-law lived and where we often visited. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me to set my books in Scotland.

However, I was often asked at book launches and book signings why I didn’t set any books in Scotland, and there was a story an aunt often told me of her ill-fated romance which I knew would make a good novel, if only I could find the right way to tell it.

So, when I was writing Broken Threads, which is set in Sydney, I introduced Bel, a secondary character who had an aging aunt in Scotland with the idea that – maybe – I would find a way to write my aunt’s story.

After several false starts, two years later, Bel’s story became my first Scottish novel, The Good Sister, with my aunt’s story fictionalised into that of Bel’s old Aunt Isobel. The story takes place in Glasgow, set mostly in the same street and in a house similar to one in which I lived as a student. But while I lived in a tiny bedsitter, Isobel MacDonald owns the entire house.

The Good Sister is the only historical novel I’ve written so far. It is set across two timeframes – contemporary and WW2 – which entailed a lot of research. I really enjoyed delving into the past for this story, searching the Internet, talking to older members of my family, and rummaging through old photographs of my parents and their generation.

As I wrote The Good Sister, I found many places of my childhood and teenage years came alive for me again. Much of my research took me back to the Scotland of my youth. Even words and phrases I hadn’t heard for years came back into my mind as I wrote.

I loved writing this book as I became totally involved in the lives of Bel and Matt who feature in the contemporary part of the book. I’d never intended this to be anything but a standalone book. But Bel and Matt took hold of me, and I began to wonder what the future held for them once Bel returned home to Sydney. This led to the sequel Isobel’ Promise which is set in both Scotland – on Loch Lomond where Matt lives – and in Australia – in Sydney where Bel lives.

Isobel’s Promise took me back to Scotland again, to the beautiful Loch Lomond where Matt lives, to the Glasgow of my student days – Byres Road, the pubs, now much gentrified, and into the heart of the city whose renaissance I had first researched while writing The Good Sister.

Bel and Matt became part of me – they were like good friends – so I continued to write their story. A Single Woman picks up the story of Alasdair, Matt’s son-in-law and takes place two years after Isobel’s Promise.

In A Single Woman, Bel and Matt are relegated to secondary characters along with Alasdair’s children Robbie and Fiona. Twelve-year-old Fiona is in a wheelchair and has proven to be popular with my readers.

The main characters in A Single Woman are Alasdair MacLeod and Isla Cameron –one reviewer described it as the thoughtful and touching story of the developing relationship between two rather damaged people (Put it in Writing)

The name Isla Cameron had been in my mind for some time – I had a picture of this tall, slim, dark woman who led a very insular life with a touch of mystery about her– but I didn’t know what her story would be. When I decided to write Alasdair’s story, I realised She was the perfect foil for him, and A Single Woman became her book.

I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane while writing this one. Isla lives in the same part of Glasgow I did as a student and in my early years as a teacher, so it was fun to revisit my old haunts – and to discover how much they’d changed since I lived there.

During my research I discovered some delightful nuggets of information. I was thrilled to discover The Willow Tearooms. They are based on the original Mrs Craddock tearooms from the early 1900’s in which the waitresses were called Mrs Craddock’s young ladies. The tearooms were inspired by the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and one of their offerings is Hendrick’s Ginn n Tea which, of course, Isla and her friend had to indulge in.

I also discovered a number of speciality ice cream shops and thanks to my cousin’s daughter – who has teenagers – led my teenage characters to enjoy ice cream churros from what is labelled as the UK’s first ice cream and churro bar.

While I’ll never go back to Scotland to live, I may set more books there. It’s too tempting a prospect to once again steep myself in the countryside I still love and to bring back memories that I’d all but forgotten. While Scotland may be a world away from where I live on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, I can open my computer and be there in a flash – enjoy the scenery, hear the dialect, and visit all my favourite places with my characters.

A huge thank you to Maggie for joining me today, it’s a huge privilege to welcome indie authors to The Quiet Knitter blog to speak about their books, their writing habits and find out what their next project might be about.

To find out more about Maggie and her books, check out her social media links!

Website  http://maggiechristensenauthor.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/maggiechristensenauthor

Twitter   https://twitter.com/MaggieChriste33

Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/maggiechriste33

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8120020.Maggie_Christensen

Amazon Author Page  https://amzn.to/2Lt8fkL

Buy link for A Single Woman  books2read.com/ASingleWoman

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  • Title: Code Name: Lise
  • Author: Larry Loftis
  • Publisher: Mirror Books
  • Publication Date: 9th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing.

Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission.

It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill. As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them.

They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and on to concentration camps in Germany, where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

This is portrait of true courage, patriotism and love amidst unimaginable horrors and degradation.

My Thoughts:

When I first heard about this book I was instantly intrigued, Odette Sansom was a name I had heard of in passing but wasn’t the most familiar with her tale, something I was only too pleased to clear up by reading this book.

In Code Name: Lise, the reader meets a young Odette in France and learns about her early life. We also learn about the sort of person she was, determined, tenacious and above all one that never gave up in the face of a challenge. As she gets older, she meets a man and falls in love, moves to England and life is going well for her, until the outbreak of World War II. Feeling guilt at being in the relative safety of rural Somerset, she immediately jumps at the chance to do her bit by supplying photographs of various locations in France to aid in the war effort, which leads to her becoming an SOE agent.

Odette’s first mission is in occupied France, but her journey to France gets off to an incredibly shaky start. The missions that Odette and the team complete are fraught with tension and make for utterly thrilling reading. The danger of agents being captured and killed was something Odette was very aware of, as was the threat of agents around them having being turned into double agents by the enemy. Fearing cover has been blown, Odette and her commanding officer, Peter Churchill flee for safety. But soon they are caught up by the cunning skills of German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher. Interspersed with the tale of Odette and Peter, is information about Hugo Bleicher, his life to this point and what he faced to get to where he was.

Life as a prisoner of the Nazis and SS wasn’t easy for Odette, but through it all, she never lost her spirit or determination to survive. The treatment she received was horrendous, the physical torture methods used were brutal but the psychological torture was something else, often leaving the prisoners questioning reality and their grasp on sanity. But reading through these awful details, my admiration for this character grew. Seeing what Odette endured and how she survived, I felt levels of emotion bubbling up and realised that I was holding in tears, screams of frustration and anguish and the feeling of utter helplessness.

Code Name: Lise is a truly remarkable tale, poignant and yet empowering, and combined with the writing of Larry Loftis, this reads as a thriller. It’s explosive, it’s gripping and the sort of read that gets under your skin.

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Celebrating Indie Publishing has a review of a book that I found impossible to put down. This was a read that I found equal parts fascinating and harrowing, but I needed to keep reading, I needed to find out how the cases being discussed unfolded, in the words of the author.

  • Title: The Killer Across The Table
  • Authors: John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker
  • Publisher: William Collins
  • Publication Date: 16th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

In The Killer Across the Table, legendary FBI criminal profiler and number one bestselling author John Douglas delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers he’s encountered, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process and divulging the strategies used to crack some of his most challenging cases.

Former Special Agent John Douglas has sat across the table from many of the world’s most notorious killers – including Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, ‘Coed Killer’ Edmund Kemper, ‘Son of Sam Killer’ David Berkowitz and ‘BTK Strangler’ Dennis Rader, and has also been instrumental in the exoneration of Amanda Knox and the West Memphis Three. He has gone on to become a legend in the world of criminal investigative analysis, and his work has inspired TV shows and films such as Mindhunter, Criminal Minds and The Silence of the Lambs.

In this riveting work of true crime, Douglas spotlights four very different criminals he’s confronted over the course of his career, and explains how they helped him to put together the puzzle of how psychopaths and predators think. Taking us inside the interrogation room and demonstrating the unique techniques he uses to understand the workings of the most terrifying and incomprehensible minds, The Killer Across the Table is an unputdownable journey into the darkest reaches of criminal profiling and behavioural science from a man who knows serial killers better than anyone else. As Douglas says:

‘If you want to understand the artist, look at his art.’
If you want to understand what makes a murderer, start here.

My Thoughts:

For fans of Mindhunter and behavioural science programmes, this is a book that you will want to add to your reading list.
This book takes an in-depth look at four serial killers and their paths towards becoming some of the most notorious killers in America. The way that Douglas gets people to open up to him is something incredibly fascinating to witness, indeed the snippets of previous cases he has worked on with the likes of Ted Bundy and Charles Manson provide another layer of insight that demonstrates the psychology of interrogation techniques and the human brain in those being interrogated. These conversations becoming the basis for some training material that the FBI would use to identify certain individuals in the future. His ability to keep his own emotions hidden at the revelations he heard took nerves and I was amazed that he could hold them back in light of the severity of the murders.

Breaking the book down into four sections, each serial killer is presented with detail and a professional detachment by Douglas. The cases are harrowing and not the easiest to read in some instances, but the exploration of the killer in each instance is exceptionally well detailed, giving readers a glimpse into their journey to the point of the interview with Douglas. Being able to follow the narrative through the thoughts of whether each individual is a case of nature versus nurture, whether there was key factor that triggered their killing sprees, if the killer knew their victims or picked strangers, makes this quite a disturbing but engrossing read.

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  • Title: A History of Magic and Witchcraft: Sabbats, Satan and Superstitions in the West
  • Author: Frances Timbers
  • Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
  • Publication Date: 3rd April 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.


Description:

Broomsticks and cauldrons, familiars and spells: magic and witchcraft conjure vivid pictures in our modern imaginations. The history of magic and witchcraft offers a window into the past, illuminating the lives of ordinary people and shining a light on the fascinating pop culture of the pre-modern world.

Blowing away folkloric cobwebs, this enlightening new history dispels many of the misconceptions rooted in superstition and myth that surround witchcraft and magic today. Historian Frances Timbers brings together elements of Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, Christianity, popular culture, and gender beliefs that evolved throughout the middle ages and early modern period and contributed to the construction and eventual persecution of the figure of the witch. While demonologists were developing the new concept of Devil worship and the witches’ sabbat, elite men were actually attempting to practise ceremonial magic. In the twentieth century, elements of ceremonial magic and practices of cunning folk were combined with the culturally-constructed idea of a sect of witches to give birth first to modern Wicca in England and then to other neopagan movements in North America.

Witchcraft is a metaphor for oppression in an age in which persecution is an everyday occurrence somewhere in the world. Fanaticism, intolerance, prejudice, authoritarianism, and religious and political ideologies are never attractive. Beware the witch hunter!

My Thoughts:

The study of witchcraft is something that I find fascinating, especially the origins of the ideas behind myth and fable that have evolved over many years to form the images we know now, and so when I saw this book I was delighted to build upon the knowledge that I already possessed.

With an engaging level of detail, A History of Magic and Witchcraft explores the many different ideas of witchcraft, the practices, the acceptance of information that has long been considered the truth about this such as witch trials and the subsequent executions, but also the subjugation of the masses through the fear of witch-hunts. It is also interesting to discover that Frances Timbers has, through so much research, found out that in some areas the percentage of men executed outnumbered that of the women. An exploration through the various ages and interpretations of witches give readers a glimpse into the ever changing mindsets and terminologies prevalent at the times as well as practices.

I particularly enjoyed reading chapter seven, The Tree of Life and Death, Persecution through Prosecution. In this chapter there are details of how prosecutions were held in the various parts of Britain, France and The Holy Roman Empire (“present day Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Alsace, Lorraine, northern Italy, and parts of Poland and the Czech Republic all came under the jurisdiction of the Holy Roman Emperor”). The history of the Scotland was a section that I found intriguing and found myself taking notes to look up certain things later for more research.
The role of the Inquisitions is also discussed in this chapter, as are the methods used to extract information from the witches whilst they were in gaol.

Torture was used as a means to extract information from the accused, and the author does caution readers “the extreme violence directed towards witches needs to be viewed in context. Certainly, torture is sadistic, but it was not particularly misogynistic. Authorities were torturing witches not women. And torture was not reserved just for suspects of witchcraft.” Therefore highlighting that during this time period that the examination methods used were not thought of as outlandish. The tools and methods used are detailed in this section, as are the punishments meted out, with note about how it differed between the different locations. Witches in England were hanged and not burned at the stake, unless she was guilty of killing her husband by witchcraft “which was considered petty treason”. However on the Continent and in Scotland, witches were burned at the stake, although interestingly if they confessed they were shown a form of mercy and garrotted before the fire was lit, the obstinately uncooperative were burned alive in public as a deterrent to others. Death was not the only punishment for witchcraft, excommunication from the church was seen as the damaging spiritually, but there was also penance, either privately or publicly.

For readers looking to do further reading or build upon the information here, the author has included a hefty reading list which covers each of the sections with in the book, and I will definitely be adding a few of these to my bookshelf! If you’re looking for something that’s different from other books out there about magic and witchcraft, then I would highly recommend this. It gives the reader lots to think about and asks then to really consider what they already knew, reassess what they already know and view it with fresh eyes after reading some of the information in this book.

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  • Title: Breakers
  • Author: Doug Johnstone
  • Publisher: Orenda Books
  • Publication Date: 16th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

A pulsatingly tense, deeply moving psychological thriller from the Number One BESTSELLING Scottish author of Fault Lines

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.

On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.

With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.

A pulsatingly tense psychological thriller, Breakers is also a breathtakingly brutal, beautiful and deeply moving story of a good kid in the wrong family, from one of Scotland’s finest crime writers.

My Thoughts:

When you pick up a Doug Johnstone book you know that you are going to be spoiled with some incredibly atmospheric writing that will utterly blow you away.
In Breakers readers meet Tyler, a seventeen-year-old lad who is struggling with the harsh realities of life and things are only going to get harder for him. The shining light in the darkness for Tyler is his little sister Bean, who he loves and will do anything to protect her, even hiding their mother’s drug addiction from her so as not to shatter her childhood entirely. Part of his survival depends on his participation in robberies with his older siblings, his lithe movements being useful for fitting through tight spots and another pair of hands is always useful when you’re robbing the homes of the wealthy. His illegal activities should cause a reader to dislike him, but instead Johnstone manages to turn everything on it’s head and causes the reader to feel empathy towards Tyler. The writing portrays a character with more than you first realise, Tyler has many sides to him but underneath it all is a deep sense of caring.

The most profound thing that I found when reading this was the idea that one decision can be the turning point life, and that you never really know where the road will take you. And we never truly know what happens behind the facades that we see, but what is clear is that Johnstone will draw emotions out of readers so effortlessly with his excellent writing.

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I love how much this Friday feature has grown and the support that it’s had out there from bloggers, authors, publishers and readers has been amazing, and it’s a huge honour to be able to shine a spotlight on some wonderful books and the authors behind them.

Today I am thrilled to shine the spotlight on Claire MacLeary, author of the Harcus and Laird series. The series includes Burnout, Cross Purpose and Runaway, links to the reviews of these can be found here.


Author Feature:

Glasgow-born Claire MacLeary worked in advertising, HR, and later as a training consultant in Edinburgh and London before her husband’s job entailed a move to Aberdeen. There she became an antiques dealer and entrepreneur. Back in Fife, she ran a number of successful businesses before studying for a MLitt degree in Creative Writing at the University of Dundee.

Her debut novel, Cross Purpose, was shortlisted for Harrogate New Blood and longlisted for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize. A sequel, Burnout, was longlisted for The 2018 Hearst Big Book Awards. Runaway, third in the Harcus & Laird series was published in March 2019.

Claire now lives in Glasgow and St Andrews.

When my first novel launched at Aberdeen’s 2017 Granite Noir, little did I think, a scant two years on, I’d have brought three books into the world and embarked on a fourth. The road to publication has been bumpy – jobs, kids and travel getting in the way. As my children grew, I enrolled in one evening class after another, tried my hand at short stories, had the minor thrill of seeing some in print. But it wasn’t until 2010 I set about writing seriously. A window of opportunity allowed me to study, full-time, for a year.

My first writing folio comprised a short story and an extract from a crime novel. Until that date, I hadn’t read much crime, but the genre seemed to suit my spare prose. That extract was to become the first scene of Cross Purpose, which I developed – with many re-drafts – in between business and family commitments over the next few years.

I submitted the finished manuscript direct to a couple of publishers, and was fortunate to receive an offer from Sara Hunt of Saraband Books, who was looking to expand her Contraband crime imprint.  What sold the book to her? I’d done extensive research, and decided there was a gap in the market which my protagonists – two non-professional women ‘of a certain age’ – might fill. Ordinary women, juggling homes and jobs and childcare. Women to whom readers could relate. I’d met many such women: resilient, resourceful, with reserves to draw on in a crisis. I wanted to give these unsung women a voice.

Happily, readers took Maggie and ‘Big’ Wilma, my unlikely duo of private investigators, to their hearts. But don’t be deceived, the series isn’t ‘cosy crime’. My books are dark and gritty, espousing big social issues.

I now write full-time, not necessarily every day. I have a dedicated study and write best in the morning, drawing inspiration from writers like Alice Munro, who describes beautifully the minutiae of domestic life. One of my favourite books on motherhood is Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries.

Driven as I am, I don’t have down-time. If I’m not tapping away at my computer, I’m jotting ideas in black ink on a reporter’s notebook. When I’m ‘in the zone’ I often wake in the night with dialogue running through my head. Then, I might shrug on a sweater and go to my desk or put some lines down on an iPad to be copied and pasted next morning.

I thought nothing could eclipse standing on stage at the McIlvanney Prize award with some of crime’s most celebrated authors, but the very best bit about being an author is when a reader tells you they enjoyed your book. It’s heartening to think your story has captured someone’s imagination and your characters come to life for them.

The worst aspect is the blank page. Without grind, you can’t produce a first draft, which your editor will then proceed to slash and burn! For one as impatient as I, the whole process is tortuously slow. That said, I’m currently working on Book 4, which should launch early next year.

I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to think readers need my advice. However, having described myself as having “a full life to draw on”, I’d say my motto is, Do It Now!

To aspiring writers who opt to go down the traditional publishing route, success is 95% attributable to hard work and 5% to luck, so be persistent, keep chipping away.

The theme of my latest book, Runaway – another page-turner with the, by now, well-loved cast of characters – is homelessness.

Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes, leaving behind a frantic husband and two young children, and Maggie and Wilma become embroiled in a covert investigation. But when a woman’s disfigured body is found in a skip, the PIs are dragged into a deeper mystery involving people-trafficking, gambling and prostitution – and they’re in deadly danger. With the police struggling for leads and the clock ticking, the race is on for Harcus & Laird to find answers.

If you’re already a fan of Maggie and ‘Big’ Wilma or new to the series, you can purchase a copy at your local bookshop, direct from Saraband Books saraband.net or via this link: clairemacleary.com/buy-runaway

A huge thank you to Claire for joining me today and having a chat, I am a huge fan of her writing so I have to admit to being a little start-struck when she agreed to take part.

To find out more about Claire and her books, check out her website or social media!

Website: clairemacleary.com

Twitter: @clairemacleary

Facebook: www.facebook.com/clairemacleary

Goodreads: clairemacleary.com/goodreads

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Celebrating Indie Publishing today has a book that I was so excited to read an early copy of and I was not disappointed. Cranachan Publishing are fast earning a reputation for great books that capture the imaginations and hearts of their readers, and they’ve well and truly secured mine with their marvellous books! And if the review wasn’t enough, the author has also taken part in a Q&A

  • Title: Sonny and Me
  • Author: Ross Sayers
  • Publisher: Gob Stopper (an imprint of Cranachan Publishing)
  • Publication Date: 16th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

FOURTH YEAR. TWO PALS. ONE MURDER. WELCOME TO BATTLEFIELD HIGH…

‘Whoever said yer school days are the best days ae yer life was at the absolute wind up. I hink maist adults dinnae mind whit it was really like. Wait til yeese hear whit Sonny and me got detention for…’

Daughter and Sonny are two best friends just trying to get through fourth year at high school. But when their favourite teacher leaves unexpectedly, and no one will say why, the boys decide to start their own investigation.

As they dig deeper into the staff at Battlefield High, they discover a dark secret which one person will kill to protect… Will they uncover the truth without being expelled? Can their friendship survive when personal secrets are revealed?

My Thoughts:

Ross Sayers was a name that first grabbed my attention with his debut novel Mary’s The Name in 2017, a book that I have read a few times since publication and somehow the magic from that story has stayed with me despite the numerous books I’ve read since.

As the first book from Cranachan Publishing’s new imprint Gob Stopper, Sonny and Me is the perfect book to set a high standard for others to follow. The writing is packed with humour and charming wit, an exciting plot and some fantastic characters that readers cannot help but love.

Battlefield High seems like an ordinary secondary school, full of teenagers all trying to find ways to be themselves and not stand out too much from the crowd. Two of these teenagers are best friends Daughter and Sonny, who are less than happy when their favourite teacher leaves and are the only ones not to know about the scandal that is rife through their school. Throw in a murder and you’ve got the makings of a madcap journey through the pages that will have readers racing through the book, caught up with the humour and the excitement of uncovering the dastardly figure behind the goings on.

Ross Sayers has the wonderful gift of giving his characters a unique voice, regardless of age or gender. And like in Mary’s the Name, he brings his main character to life so vividly, the voice of Daughter is realistic and clear. I cannot imagine that it’s easy to get into the workings of a teenage mind, follow the train of thought and stay rooted there throughout, but Sayers makes it seem effortless. What makes this a more impressive read is the fact that Sayers writes in dialect that brings the language alive. At times I felt like I could “hear” the conversations taking place between the characters and had to stifle giggles at their exchanges.

But aside from the humour and fun, there are some serious topics woven into the narrative. The exploration of the themes is done well and care is taken to handle them sensitively. Sayers demonstrates the intricacies of juggling life with what is expected of a young person with their want to do the right thing or stand against the grain to be their own person. And in doing this, he ensures that his writing is well rounded, easy to read and immensely enjoyable.
Although Sonny and Me is a Young Adult novel, I do think that this is a book that readers of any age can read and enjoy.


Author Feature:

Ross studied English in his hometown of Stirling. Not content with the one graduation, he completed a Masters in Creative Writing the following year. His stories and poems have featured in magazines such as Octavius and Quotidian. Ross also tried his hand at acting in the university’s Drama Society, which gave him valuable life experience at being an extra with no lines.

One of his short stories, Dancin’, was used on West College Scotland’s Higher English course. He only found out after a student tweeted him requesting a copy of the story so she could finish her essay.

Ross mainly reads contemporary and literary fiction, and loves it when a writer remembers to include an interesting plot. He heartily endorses not finishing books which bore you.

While researching Mary’s the Name in Portree, gift shop employees excitedly mistook him for Daniel Radcliffe; Ross had to burst their bubble. But at a football match in London, he agreed to have his photo taken with a wee boy, who believed he was Harry Potter, to save any tears or tantrums.

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

Probably seems obvious but when someone finishes one of my books and tells me they enjoyed it! It’s a lot of work and it makes it all worth it. Particularly the extreme reactions, either laughter or uncontrollable sobbing. Either’s good.

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

I’d say how long everything takes. In my experience there’s 2 years between starting a book and it being released. That’s a long time to re-read your work and convince yourself it’s rubbish.

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

I think something huge and epic like Game of Thrones. The world’s fantasy writers create are amazing and so thorough. I don’t know if I’ve got the stamina for that!

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

I have a full time job so that takes up most of my time sadly. At the weekends I like to read, watch a bit of Netflix, and catch up with friends.

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

Not really! I like to have the telly on in the background, something I don’t need to pay too much attention to. It tends to be at night after work. If I can get 1000 words done I’m happy!

What’s on the horizon? 

So I’m working on my third novel currently. It’s about a young woman who goes back in time 16 days on the Glasgow Subway and has to save a life to get back to her own timeline…

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

If you’re not enjoying a book, put it down and grab another! Even if it’s one of mine! As long as you’ve paid for it! Just don’t return it to get your money back or something silly like that.

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

Sonny and Me is the story of two boys in fourth year of high school who uncover a murder mystery within the staff at their school… It’s like Still Game meets the Inbetweeners and if that doesn’t sell it to you then I don’t know what to say.

A huge thank you to Ross for joining me today for a chat, it’s a huge privilege to welcome indie authors to The Quiet Knitter blog to speak about their books, their writing habits and find out what their next project might be about.

To find out more about Ross and his books, check out his website or his hilarious tweets on Twitter!
Website: http://rosssayers.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sayers33

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Today’s Celebrating Indie Publishing features the third book in the Gaia Trilogy, a series that I stepped out of my comfort zone to start reading and have loved. Science Fiction is not something that I regularly read, but this was a series that grabbed my attention and I have eagerly anticipated each of the books being published.

  • Title: White Gold
  • Author: David Barker
  • Publisher: Urbane Publications
  • Publication Date: 9th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

VENGEANCE ALWAYS HAS A PRICE

Sim Atkins, Overseas Division agent, returns to Earth, having saved the Moon base from a deadly terrorist plot (see Rose Gold). All Sim can think about is finding the criminals responsible.

But his fury and lust for revenge are put on hold when a nuclear warhead is stolen by Terra Former leader Matthias Larsson. Can Sim and his colleagues track down the terrorist cell and disarm the device in time?

White Gold is the gripping finale in the compellingly original Gaia Trilogy, page-turning thrillers that provoke as well as excite.

My Thoughts:

After finishing Rose Gold on such a cliffhanger, I was almost pacing around waiting to see what David Barker had lined up for Sim Atkins and the rest of the Overseas Division. This is a series that readers really need to read from the beginning to get a better grasp of how the events and characters are linked up and how they have progressed to where they are now.

In this instalment, Sim Atkins has returned from the base on the moon and is coming to terms with the events that took place whilst he tried to save the lives of many people in Rose Gold. Sim feels that his world has turned upside down, not truly knowing who to trust and where to turn, he tries to use old connections as a means to get information about the investigations that he cannot be part of. Sim wants answers, and vengeance but what price is he willing to pay for them? Life back home in the Scottish highlands is not the same for Sim, and so the opportunity to be part of a separate investigation gives him the chance to feel useful and find out what’s going on.

As well as catching up with Sim, readers also get to follow in the timelines of three other characters, Freda, Gopal and Rabten, who have grown and become integral parts of this series over the course of the three books. I especially liked Freda, her knowledge of films and fast thinking were qualities that made her stick in my mind from the very beginning. She’s a character that I think many readers will like and will become invested in. Following her through the books and seeing the scrapes she ends up in makes for some thrilling reading. Equally, watching the transformation in both Gopal and Rabten has been wonderful, these strong characters are fascinating and be delving into their respective histories and cultures, readers are given a colourful and well rounded cast of personalities to get to know.

David Barker manages to weave in an incredible amount of detail into the narrative and even though some things were new to me, some of the technologies mentioned were not things that I had encountered, I didn’t feel that I couldn’t enjoy reading this book. Indeed, I found that at times I paused my reading to head off into a rabbit hole of googling, keen to find out more. The atmospheric details that he writes into each scene are fantastic, Barker knows how to set the scene so vividly, be it on a submarine in the murky depths, a peaceful park or the offices of a government agency. There is so much here to stimulate the mind of the reader and have them feeling as though they have been transported to the location in the book!

Often people say they would love to see a book played out on TV or made into a film, and I have to admit that this is definitely one that I would really like to see brought to life on the big screen. It’s an adrenaline packed, taut and clever plotted read that has the reader desperate to find out what happens next.

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I do love when I can combine Celebrating Indie Publishing with a blog tour for a book that I have really enjoyed, and today is one of those happy days. I initially got an early copy of this book to read and I felt hugely honoured as I am a fan of this author and I think that everyone should read at least one of her books (or maybe all of them, it’s hard to pick just one). Scottish crime fiction is always a winner with me and this book is definitely one of those that will stay in my head for a while!

  • Title: Death at The Plague Museum
  • Author: Lesley Kelly
  • Publisher: Sandstone Press
  • Publication Date: 18th April 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

The pandemic is spreading.

On Friday, three civil servants leading Virus policy hold a secret meeting at the Museum of Plagues and Pandemics. By Monday, two are dead and one is missing.

It’s up to Mona and Bernard of the Health Enforcement Team to find the missing official before panic hits the streets.

My Thoughts:

For those not familiar with Edinburgh and the Health Enforcement Team team in Lesley Kelly’s Health of Strangers series, this is the third book in the series, the first two being The Health of Strangers and Songs by Dead Girls. Information about these can be found on the author’s website or your book buying website of choice. This can be read as a standalone, but to get a real feel for the the characters and the storyline, I would recommend reading th series in its entirety.

In this instalment of the series the HET have a mammoth task on their hands, tracking down a missing official who is a key member of the Virus policy, as well as their day to day job enforcing health checks for the residents of the city to restrict the spread of the deadly virus.
With the HET taking centre stage in this book, the reader gets to know the individuals, their lives and their backstories. A focus on Bernard and Mona in Death at the Plague Museum gives a wonderful human side to the story here, allowing readers to explore their individual stories and leaving them wanting more. This step into the personal lives of the team members allows for some fantastic character development, you get to see the side of them that isn’t the business persona, the organised HET professional, but instead the person with their own troubles, heartaches and wants. I do love a character that can come alive from the pages, the more complex the better and here I felt that these guys were so real, so vivid, and I was rooting for them to find happiness.

The two unexplained deaths and a missing official makes for an exciting plot, and with the investigation taking place over a week, the pace is spot on which is sure to keep readers hooked. The dark humour expertly woven throughout the narrative is pitched perfectly, and the inclusion of difficult themes is what makes this stand out, Kelly has a flair for writing stories that engage the audience and ensure they cannot put the book down.

As with many books with a mystery, it’s hard to say too much about the actual story, there’s always the worry about giving something away, and this is definitely a clever plot that you need to discover for yourself. It’s well structured and leaves the reader breathless as they race through the book. Such a wonderful series from an amazing author, and if Lesley Kelly isn’t a name on your list of authors to keep an eye out for, then I highly recommend you add her name!

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I am delighted to welcome you to The Quiet Knitter and share a review of Neil White’s latest thriller, The Innocent Ones.

  • Title: The Innocent One
  • Author: Neil White
  • Publisher: Hera Books
  • Publication Date: 24th April 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Three lives cut short. Two decades of silence. One evil secret.

By day, the park rings with the sound of children’s excited laughter. But in the early hours of the morning, the isolated playground is cloaked in shadows – the perfect hiding place to conceal a brutal murder.

When London journalist, Mark Roberts, is found battered to death, the police quickly arrest petty thief, Nick Connor. Criminal defence lawyer, Dan Grant, along with investigator Jayne Brett, are called to represent him – but with bloody footprints and a stolen wallet linking him to the scene, this is one case they’re unlikely to win.

Until help comes from an unlikely source…when the murder victim’s mother says that Connor is innocent, begging Dan and Jayne to find the real perpetrator.

Unravelling the complex case means finding the connection between Mark’s death and a series of child murders in Yorkshire over twenty years ago. Father of two, Rodney Walker, has spent years in prison after being convicted of killing of 6-year-old William and 7-year-old Ruby back in 1997.

But when Mark Roberts gets on the trail of the story, convinced that Walker is innocent, he exposed secrets that have long been buried. Secrets so dark, someone will kill to keep them hidden.

Dan and Jayne are in a race against time to uncover the truth – before a killer silences them forever.

My Thoughts:

As the third book in the Dan Grant and Jayne Brett series, this is a thrilling and wonderfully clever end to the trilogy. And I do think that it is possible for people to read this as a standalone without having followed the series. Previous connections and events are mentioned, enough detail given to clue readers in on what has passed without bogging down readers with extraneous information.

With a complex plot, this is quite possibly one of my most thrilling reads of 2019, a bold statement I know, but after some epic jaw dropping moments whilst reading this book, I think it will be hard for anything to beat this!

Tasked with defending a man charged with the murder of a London journalist, Dan Grant has his case in order, has his line of defence drawn up and knows how he wants to proceed with the case. That is until he is approached by a stranger offering help to find the true killer of the journalist Mark Roberts. The catch is that the stranger is the mother of the victim and Dan isn’t sure if she can be trusted.

Enlisting the help of investigator Jayne Brett, Dan Grant takes the tentative steps on a journey that throws up some of the most shocking revelations, many dangers and a few life changing events. Both Dan and Jayne encounter hostility as they investigate the claims made by Mark’s mother, but they continue to follow the clues and Mark’s story, oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead.

The historic case that Jayne and Dan end up investigating is dark and unsettling, the killing of children is never an easy read but White manages to ensure his plot is flawless without adding any unnecessary or gory details. His writing it pitched perfectly throughout ensuring that the story remains taut and intense, and with such intricately crafted characters it’s hard to drag yourself away from the book. I found that I was shocked by the killer, but wanted to know more, wanted to get inside their head to ding out why they acted as they did. I wanted to explore the case of Rodney Walker, find out what made Mark Roberts so sure of his arguments for Rodney’s innocence and the more I read, the more invested I became in finding out whether Mark was on the right track. Dan and Jayne are equally, if not more fascinating. Each has a past that is mentioned throughout the narrative, and if you’ve followed the series then you will be clued up on their respective pasts. The easy relationship between these characters makes them work well together, there is a lighthearted feel to their dialogue but an edge of concern and deep care when the situation needs it.

There’s so many things that could be said about this book, but I fear that I might give something away. But I will say that I was stunned at how the plot of The Innocent Ones panned out. I had an idea of what might happen in places, but I doff my cap to Neil White, because at certain points of the book I actually gasped out loud at what I’d just read.

A fantastic read and one I’d highly recommend!

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