Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane | @MichaelJBooks @sriya__v | #extract #excerpt

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, here is what this novel is all about.

Author : Mary Beth Keane
Title : Ask Again, Yes
Pages : 388
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : August 8, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

| EXTRACT |

one

GILLAM WAS NICE ENOUGH but lonely, Lena Teobaldo thought when she first saw it. It was the kind of place that if she were there on vacation she’d love for the first two days, and then by the third day she’d start looking forward to leaving. It didn’t seem quite real: the apple trees and maples, the shingled houses with front porches, the cornfields, the dairy, the kids playing stickball in the street as if they didn’t notice their houses were sitting on a half acre of grass. Later, she’d figure out that the kids played the games their parents had played growing up in the city. Stickball. Hopscotch. Kick the can. When a father taught a son how to throw a ball, he marched that boy to the middle of the road as if they were on a block tight with tenements, because that’s where he’d learned from his father. She’d agreed to the trip because it was something to do and if she’d stayed in Bay Ridge that Saturday, her mother would have made her bring food to Mrs. Venard, who’d never been right since her boy went missing in Vietnam.

Her cousin Karolina’s dress was hanging on the hook behind Lena’s bedroom door, altered and ready for Lena to wear in just six days’ time. She’d gotten her shoes, her veil. There was nothing more to do other than wait, so when Francis asked if she wanted to take a little trip to check out a town he’d heard about through a guy at work, she’d said sure, it was a beautiful fall day, it would be nice to get out to the country for a few hours, she’d pack a picnic lunch. They unpacked that lunch on a bench outside the public library, and in the time it took to unwrap their sandwiches, eat them, sip all the tea from the thermos, only one person entered the library. A northbound train pulled into the station and three people got off. Across the town square was a deli, and next to it a five-and-dime with a stroller parked outside. Francis had driven them in Lena’s father’s Datsun—her brother Karol’s copy of Led Zeppelin IV stuck in the tape deck. Lena didn’t have a driver’s license, didn’t have the first idea how to drive. She’d assumed she’d never have to learn.

“So? What do you think?” Francis asked later as they eased back onto the Palisades Parkway. Lena opened the window and lit a cigarette.

“Pretty,” she said. “Quiet.” She slipped off her shoes and put her feet up on the dashboard. She’d put in for two weeks of vacation time—a week before her wedding plus a week after—and that day, a Saturday, was her first day of the longest stretch of days she’d had off in three years.

“You saw the train? There’s also a bus that goes to Midtown,” he said. She thought it a random piece of information until it hit her like a kick in the shin that he wanted to live there. He hadn’t said that. He’d said only that he wanted to take a spin in the car, check out a place he’d heard of. She thought he only wanted a break from all the wedding talk. Relatives from Italy and Poland were already arriving, and her parents’ apartment was packed with food and people every hour of the day. No one from Ireland was coming but some relation of Francis’s who’d emigrated to Chicago had sent a piece of Irish china. Francis said he didn’t mind. It was the bride’s day anyway. But now she saw he had a plan in mind. It seemed so far-fetched she decided not to mention it again unless he brought it up first.

A few weeks later, the wedding over and done with, their guests long departed, Lena back at work with a new name and a new band on her finger, Francis said it was time for them to move out of her parents’ apartment. He said that everyone had to tiptoe through the narrow livingroom if Lena’s sister, Natusia, was in there with her books. Karol was almost always in a bad mood, probably because the newlyweds had taken over his bedroom. There was nowhere to be alone. Every moment Francis spent there, he said, he felt like he should be offering to help with something, do something. Their wedding gifts were stacked in corners and Lena’s mother was always admonishing everyone to be careful, think of the crystal. Lena thought it was nice, a half dozen people sitting down to dinner together, sometimes more, depending on who stopped by. For the first time she wondered if she’d known him well enough to marry him.

“But where?” she said.

They looked on Staten Island. They looked within Bay Ridge. They climbed walk-ups in Yorkville, Morningside Heights, the Village. They walked through houses filled with other people’s things, their photos displayed on ledges, their polyester flower arrangements. On all those visits, Lena could see the road to Gillam approaching like an exit on the freeway. They’d socked away the cash gifts they’d gotten at the wedding plus most of their salaries and had enough for a down payment.

One Saturday morning in January 1974, after he’d worked a midnight tour plus a few hours of overtime, Francis got to Bay Ridge and told Lena to get her coat, he’d found their house.

“I’m not going,” she said, looking up from her coffee with her face set like stone. Angelo Teobaldo was doing a crossword across from her. Gosia Teobaldo had just cracked two eggs onto a skillet. Standing six foot two in his patrolman’s uniform, Francis’s face burned.

“He’s your husband,” Angelo said to his daughter. A reprimand. Like she’d left her toys scattered on the carpet and forgotten to put them away.

“You keep quiet,” Gosia said, motioning for him to zip his lip. “We’re having breakfast at Hinsch’s,” she announced, extinguishing the flame under the skillet.

“Let’s just go see, Lena. We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

“Oh, sure,” Lena said.

An hour and twenty minutes later, Lena pressed her forehead against the glass of the passenger window and looked at the house that would be theirs. There was a brightly lettered For Sale sign outside. The hydrangea that would flower in June was just a clump of frostbitten sticks. The current owners were home, their Ford was in the driveway—so Francis kept the engine running.

“What’s that? Are they rocks?” Toward the back of the property were five huge rocks, lined up by Mother Nature hundreds of millennia ago in ascending order, the tallest maybe five feet high.

“Boulders,” Francis said. “They’re all over this area. The realtor told me the builders left some as natural dividers between the houses. They remind me of Ireland.”

Lena looked at him as if to say, So that’s why you brought me here. He’d met a realtor. His mind was made up. The houses on that street— Jefferson—and the surrounding streets—Washington, Adams, Madison, Monroe—were closer together than the houses farther from town, and Francis said that was because these houses were older, built back in the 1920s when there was a tannery in town and everyone walked to work. He thought Lena would like that. There was a porch out front.

“Who will I talk to?” she asked.

“To our neighbors,” he said. “To the people you meet. You make friends faster than anyone. Besides, you’ll still be in the city every day. You’ll have the girls you work with. The bus stops right at the end of the block. You don’t even have to learn to drive if you don’t want to.” He’d be her driver, he joked.

He couldn’t explain to her that he needed the trees and the quiet as a correction for what he saw on the job, how crossing a bridge and having that physical barrier between him and his beat felt like leaving one life and entering another. In his imagination he had it all organized: Officer Gleeson could exist there, and Francis Gleeson could exist here. In academy, some of the instructors were old-timers who claimed they’d never in their thirty-year careers so much as drawn their weapons, but after only six months Francis had drawn several times. His sergeant had just recently shot a thirty-year-old man in the chest during a standoff beside the Bruckner Expressway, and the man died on the scene. But it was a good kill, they all said, because the man was a known junkie and had been armed. Sergeant hadn’t seemed the slightest bit concerned. Francis had nodded along with the rest of them and gone out for drinks when their tour was over. But the next day, when someone had to meet with the man’s mother and the mother of his children to explain to them what had happened since they wouldn’t leave the waiting room for anything, it seemed to Francis that he was the only one who felt rattled. The man had had a mother. He’d been a father. He hadn’t always been a junkie. Standing by the coffeepot and wishing the women would go the hell home, it was as if he could see the whole rest of the man’s life—not just the moment he’d foolishly swung around while holding his little .22.

And though he told Lena none of this, only that work was fine, things were busy, she sensed the thing he wasn’t saying and looked at the house again. She imagined a bright row of flowers at the foot of the porch. They could have a guest bedroom. It was true that the bus from Gillam to Midtown Manhattan would take less time than the subway from Bay Ridge.

If you would like to read more about Francis and Lena and the events that will impact their family for years to come, then why not grab yourself a copy of Ask Again, Yes as it’s available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Mary Beth Keane’s first novel, The Walking People (2009) was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and her second novel, Fever (2013) was named a best book of 2013 by NPR Books, Library Journal, and The San Francisco Chronicle. In 2011 she was named to the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35.” She was a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Fiction and her new novel, Ask Again, Yes, is forthcoming in June of 2019.

The Daughter in Law by Nina Manning | @ninamanning78 @BoldwoodBooks | #BoldwoodBlogtour #extract #excerpt

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Daughter in Law by Nina Manning. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, let’s see what this book is all about.

Author : Nina Manning
Title : The Daughter in Law
Pages : 354
Publisher : Boldwood Books
Publication date : August 1, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

No one is good enough for her son…

As a single mother, Annie has an especially close relationship with her son, Ben. They have always been together. Just the two of them. So, when Ben brings home his mysterious beautiful new wife, Daisy, immediately Annie doesn’t trust her. Who is this woman who has taken her son away from her? And what is she hiding?

She’ll protect him with her life…

When Ben disappears, suddenly Annie and Daisy are all the other one has. Alone in Annie’s big, remote house, just the two of them, the tension is rising. And like any protective mother, Annie will stop at nothing to expose her new daughter in law, and the secrets she is hiding…

| EXTRACT |

Annie

My favourite room is the spare bedroom at the front of the house. It gets all the light in the morning and looks so inviting. I’ve done it up like a picture I saw in a lifestyle magazine: a checked throw across the end of the bed, floral sheets and hooked back curtains, a little wicker chair in the corner with a few well-read paperbacks stacked on top of it, and a white vase on the bedside table. It really is the most comforting place to be. Of course, no one ever uses it. I like to keep the house looking nice. But it was only ever going to be me and my son.

Getting out of bed was particularly hard this morning. It has been every morning since Ben left. I keep thinking, what is the point? I’ve been feeling that empty hopelessness for several months now. Since Ben deserted me.

For her.

I’d heard all about empty nest syndrome but I never imagined for a moment it would happen to me. I never actually thought he would leave. I thought we would just keep existing together. Forever.

He kept so much of his stuff here initially, that I felt sure he would return – but just last month, he came and took the lot.

It’s so quiet here now. It was quiet anyway, that’s why I took the house. It’s the house I grew up alone in with my father, but fled from as soon as I was able to support myself.

How do you define an unhappy childhood? In those days it was unheard of to make an allegation about your relative. I accepted the violence – it was, after all, part of him and all I had ever known. Throughout my motherless upbringing, the beach house provided a sanctuary for me with plenty of places to hide. I got stealthier as I grew and with my legs pulled up tightly into my chest and my head pressed to my knees, I would squeeze myself into an alcove, the airing cupboard or the shed with the ringing sound of my father’s threats in my ear. Later on, I would sneak out and find my way back to my bedroom past my father’s drunken snores. The next day he wouldn’t remember a thing. Had I not been able to escape down to the shore to skim pebbles or poke about in rock pools, then I would have run away sooner. The sea kept me safe. But as soon as I turned sixteen I took myself hundreds of miles away. I never heard a whisper from my father, who had told me daily I reminded him too much of my brazen excuse of a mother. Then he was dead and the beach house was mine. I left it sitting empty for a while, too scared to return, too busy trying to salvage my own marriage. Then Ben arrived and I knew it was time.

When I returned here all those years later with my son, it was fairly run down and rotting in places I couldn’t get to, much like my father for all those years. The brown weather-worn cladding needed a sand down and varnish and the white framed windows were peeling, but overall the exterior wasn’t so bad. I did the best I could with it and I could overlook most of the natural decay when I scanned the vast horizon and breathed in the fresh sea air.

It’s a remote spot, perched right on the edge of the peninsular before it slopes round into the sea. Standing in the garden or looking out of the window, you would be forgiven for thinking there were no houses for miles, but there is one around along the shore and to the left and then they begin to scatter more frequently as they feed towards the village. People rarely walk this far down as the shore is a little more rustic with huge pieces of driftwood and great mounds of seaweed washing up daily. Besides, the stretch of beach at the end of the garden and over the low battered wall essentially belongs to me. We are protected a little from the wind by a few surrounding trees, but it does get a little breezy here at times. But when it’s still and the sea looks like a flat piece of mirror you could walk across, that’s when I love it the most. Of course, I love the waves too, especially the ferocious ones that thrust themselves towards the wall. I like to watch those waves and feel my own fury in them.

A house on the seafront, much like a savannah plain, is the perfect spot to see when enemies are approaching. And anyone who tries to come between me and my son, I consider an enemy.

But despite the weather and the waves, I know the house is empty. And although I try to fill my days with mundane daily tasks, I too feel empty. I need to feel fulfilled again. I need my son back. Back where he belongs.

There’s no one downstairs humming a tuneless song whilst they make their breakfast. There are no dirty trainers in the hallway, or piles of washing in the laundry basket. There are no toast crumbs on the kitchen side, or butter streaks in the marmite. The house is so eerily quiet. I have never experienced this. Not since having Ben. I forced all the bad memories away from the time I lived here as a child and made it all about me and Ben. It’s our sanctuary; our hub. Our place away from the world.

Now he’s gone. He hardly texts or rings. She has him wrapped around her little finger. Calling all the shots no doubt.

It was a real shock when Ben told me he had met someone. It was more of a shock when he told me he had gone and gotten himself married. He had been spending a lot of time at her house, that I knew. But I had no idea things had evolved so quickly. And to have done it without telling me, his own mother, first. We used to be so close. I am not coping so well.

I did the right thing, of course. I invited them over for something to eat – mostly because I needed to get a good look at the woman who thinks she has replaced me.

But I know it’s only temporary. I can’t be replaced. My son can’t live without me.

Hm. Well, I don’t know about you but I sense trouble ahead. If you’d like to find out what Annie gets up to next, then you can purchase a copy of The Daughter in Law right now!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast.

The Daughter in Law is her debut psychological thriller, and will be published in August 2019.

She lives in Dorset.

Mahoney by Andrew Joyce | @huckfinn76 | #guestpost #extract

Good morning! Today, I welcome author Andrew Joyce to the blog to talk a little bit about his novel Mahoney and how he came around to writing it. But first, let’s see what Mahoney is all about.

Author : Andrew Joyce
Title : Mahoney
Pages : 495
Publisher : William Birch & Assoc.
Publication date : May 19, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey.

After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849.

Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

| GUEST POST |

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Eva has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, Mahoney. So, I thought I’d tell you how it came about. But to do that, I gotta tell you how my mind works.

A few years ago, I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. I had them as adults in the Old West. Kind of like Wyatt Earp type characters. It was a modest success and won an award for Best Western of 2013.

I think my favorite book of all time is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I’ve read it a number of times over the years—the last time being two years ago. Now, for those of you who may not have read it, it’s about one family’s trek from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of the 1930s to the “Land of Milk and Honey,” also known as California. Of course, California wasn’t a land of milk and honey. If anything, the family was worse off in California than they were in Oklahoma. The subtext of the book is how those on the lower rungs of society’s ladder are oppressed and have very little voice to fight against that oppression.

Near the end of the book, Tom Joad, the protagonist, runs afoul of the law and must leave his family or else be arrested on a trumped up charge or be killed by the big landowners’ goons. His mother, quite naturally, will miss him and is worried for him. The words he spoke to her in that scene have become iconic.

“I’ll be aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be everywhere-wherever you look. Wherever there is a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folk eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

So, here’s what I did. Just like with Huck and Tom, I started thinking about what ever happened to Tom Joad after he left his family. I wanted to write about injustices and the people who suffer those injustices. I thought I’d follow Tom around and write about what he encountered from about the mid-thirties to 1963 when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech.

However, there was just one problem with that: copyright laws. The character of Tom Joad belongs to the heirs of John Steinbeck. So, I had to come up with another angle. After some thought on the matter, I decided to expand my initial time frame from between 1933 and 1963 to 1849 and 1963. I’d start the story in Ireland during the potato famine and work my way to America and then I’d end up where I had originally intended.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a riveting story of adventure, endurance, and hope as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America.

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

Well, that’s how Mahoney came about. For those of you who may read it, I hope you enjoy it. It took me almost two years of full-time research, writing, and editing to get it to where I wanted and to tell the story I wanted to tell.

| WEE TEASER |

The reflected firelight flickered across awestruck faces and mirrored in the eyes of those who listened as stories were told of yesterday’s indignities and tomorrow’s aspirations. The look in those yearning eyes spoke of hopes and dreams. The laughter heard around the fire conveyed a sense that somehow it would all work out. For a few short hours, on Saturday nights, in the deep woods of a place none of them had ever heard of before, the constant fear that lived within their hearts was banished from their lives.

In time, they would prevail. Their sons and daughters would one day stand straight and tall as proud Americans, as proud as their fathers had been to be Irish.

Doesn’t this sound good? If you’d like to read more, you can purchase yourself a copy of Mahoney right now!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Wordery

Thank you so much, Andrew, for stopping by and sharing your Mahoney journey with us!

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Andrew Joyce left home at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer.

Joyce has written seven books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

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What Lies Around Us by Andrew Crofts | @AndrewCrofts @RedDoorBooks | #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #extract #excerpt

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for What Lies Around Us by Andrew Crofts! Today, I have an extract to share with you all but first, let’s see what this book is all about.

Author : Andrew Crofts
Title : What Lies Around Us
Pages : 256
Publisher : RedDoor Publishing
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

It is possible that since this book’s publication you will have heard that I have died in ‘suspicious circumstances’. Obviously I hope that will not be the case, but I believe it is worth taking the risk in order to get this story out there.

Why would one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful billionaires offer a British ghostwriter a million dollars to write the autobiography of Hollywood’s biggest star?

Only once he is living and working among the world’s richest and most beautiful people does the ghost realise that there is way more than a publishing deal at stake.

The ghostwriter must face the dark underbelly of the tech industry. He must face corruption and manipulation, come to blows with people who will do anything to remain at the top of their game and uncover the dark truth behind what it really means to be an influencer . . .

| EXTRACT |

From Chapter 1

The day the first email arrived, Caroline suggested I start a diary, although neither of us had the slightest idea how enormous the story would become.

All I knew was that I had been contacted personally by one of the mightiest beasts from the world of the business and technology superpowers. Roger Rex’s name was right up there with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk; a modern-day witch doctor who was believed to not only be able to see into the future but to be able to shape it too; a magician for our times. And instead of a fire-breathing dragon, this sorcerer had his billions to give credibility to the rumours of his magical powers and stupendous brain.

I was aware that the email could have been a hoax. I mean, what were the chances that one of the half dozen richest people on the planet had actually sat down and written a note directly to me? But there was no reason not to accept it at face value, at least until it proved to be something else. The message was simple; I am going to be in London next week and I would really like to discuss a possible project. Could we meet for lunch? I will be staying at the Four Seasons.

Even if it came to no more than a lunch with Roger Rex at the Four Seasons it would be an adventure worth having. I would love to, I emailed back, just let me know where and when you would like to meet.

“I love your work, Andrew,” he said once the complications of the menu had been ironed out and the staff had quietly withdrawn to prepare the meal as ordered and attend to other customers. “Particularly the human interest stories; ordinary people battling against the odds…”

“Really?” I said. “You’ve read my work?”

“Of course,” he seemed shocked by the suggestion that he might have come to a meeting unprepared. Leaning down beside his chair he dipped his hand into his backpack, which he had refused to relinquish to the staff at reception, producing Secrets of the Italian Gardener with a flourish, making the gold inlay of the cover glitter in the subdued restaurant lights. “Fantastic story. And short too. I like a book I can read in one flight.” He paused for a moment before adding awkwardly, “my condolences on your loss by the way.”

“Thank you.”

The social niceties apparently now out of the way he reverted to monologue-mode. I wished I was recording him because I wanted to remember everything he was saying so that I could relay it to Caroline once I was home, but our relationship had not yet reached a point where I could whip out a Dictaphone or a notepad. At this stage it was just a casual lunch and I still had no idea why he wanted to meet me. Everything he said was interesting. There was too much of it for me to hope to remember more than a few main themes; too many ideas, too many digressions, too many extraordinary pieces of information and exciting predictions, all sparkling with the most dazzling name-drops in the world – Clinton, Obama, Gates, Mandela, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Soros, Clooney, Swift, de Niro and Streep – delivered with no apparent self-awareness, simply reporting something interesting they had said to him or done. He had no need to boast about who he knew, it just so happened that many of the people he talked to in the course of his average days were world famous. I wasn’t even sure that he realised how famous they were, or cared.

“So,” I grabbed a fleeting opportunity to interrupt his flow, “are you thinking of writing a book?”

“Sure,” he said, apparently surprised by the question, “sure, sure, but not yet.”

“If we were to commission a book but we had very strong ideas about what should or shouldn’t be in it. Would you mind being told and having to re-write and edit a great deal?”

“Usually I suggest that I write the first draft as I think it should be,” I replied, “but ultimately it is the author’s story, so they can make whatever changes they want.  When you say ‘we’ would have very strong ideas …?”

“There are a few people interested in the outcome of this book. It could have huge global impact. Absolutely huge.

“Can you give me an idea what you mean by ‘global impact’?”

“Not yet, no. Not until you’ve talked to the lawyers. You would be great for this job, really great. Your books made me cry. You’ve done celebrity books too, right?”

“Yes, a few.”

“It’s important not to be star struck.”

I remembered reading that he had been buying up film studios and television networks, corralling creative talent so that he could control the creation of the content he needed for streaming services into smartphones and social media. Were these the sort of stars he was talking about? I felt my heart thump a little faster – surely everyone’s star struck about somebody.

“Can you tell me anything about the story at all?”

“No,” he shook his head and gave a sharp bark of laughter which made several heads turn in our direction. “Lawyers. You’ll have to sign away your life before we can tell you anything. Do you have an agent? Is there someone we have to talk to?”

“We can go through an agent if you like,” I said, “there are a few that I use for different projects. Or you can just deal with me.”

“We would prefer that, if you don’t mind. If there is an agent involved then that is one more person who has to know at least some of the details of the project, one more person who might leak, one more stage in the process, slowing things down. This is really great coffee! Such a great aroma.” He held the tiny cup close to his nostrils and inhaled deeply, closing his eyes in apparent ecstasy. “We will want to pay you an outright fee so that we own the copyright completely. Your name would be visible nowhere. Would that be a problem?”

“Absolutely not.”

“This is great, really great. It’s going to be so great!” he rocked happily back in his chair, clapping loudly, his huge hands flapping like a seal’s flippers. “I’ll get the lawyers to contact you. We are going to make history.”

If this extract has left you wanting more, then why not to go ahead and grab yourself a copy of What Lies Around Us!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Andrew Crofts is a ghostwriter and author who has published more than eighty books, a dozen of which were Sunday Times number one bestsellers. He has also guided a number of international clients successfully through the minefield of independent publishing.

His books on writing include “Ghostwriting”, (A&C Black) and “The Freelance Writer’s Handbook”, (Piatkus), which has been reprinted eight times over twenty years.

Throughout his bestseller, “The Ghost”, Robert Harris quotes Andrew’s seminal book, “Ghostwriting”. Harris’s book went on to become a major movie by the same name, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Ewan McGregor as the eponymous ghost. The opening lines in Robert Harris’s book sum up Andrew’s philosophy:

“Of all the advantages ghosting offers, one of the greatest must be the opportunity that you get to meet people of interest”.

Andrew was on the Management Committee of the Society of Authors from 2012 to 2015. He lectures on the subject of making a living from writing at Kingston University, presents Masterclasses on the subject at The Guardian and frequently guests at writing workshops, literary festivals and in the media. He blogs regularly on matters pertaining to publishing, self-publishing and writing.

The House On The Edge Of The Cliff by Carol Drinkwater | @MichaelJBooks | #blogtour #extract #excerpt

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The House On The Edge Of The Cliff by Carol Drinkwater today! My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, here is what this novel is all about.

Author : Carol Drinkwater
Title : The House on the Edge of the Cliff
Pages : 448
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : May 16, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provencal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

| EXTRACT |

Beyond gently billowing muslin curtains, the windows were open wide, exposing a waxing crescent moon hanging midway in the sky. It was a little after five in the morning, and I was awake. My head resting on Peter’s chest, I tuned in to his heartbeat. Its speed was alarming. In spite of his daily medication, it still beat disconcertingly fast. By com-parison, my ticker is an old plodder. I lifted myself to a sitting position. Peter was sleeping, sighing and moaning.

‘My darling, please get well.’

I have always been in the habit of rising early. When the house is silent, I slip out for a long walk and a swim, like a full-sail galleon scudding across a cloudless sky, leaving my cares behind me. But during these anxious days, these fretful days of waiting for Peter’s operation, once out of bed I dally, hang back before heading for the beach, watching over my husband until I feel secure about leaving him.

This early-May morning, my knees tight against his side of the bed frame, I gazed upon him. Peter, my beloved, swathed in a twisted, sweaty sheet. He was fight-ing for equilibrium. His heart had become his enemy, hammering furiously at him. It pained me to observe his suffering, his visible decline. I bent low to him, stroked his shoulders, reassuring him of my love, while taking care not to disturb him. I crouched, laid my cheek against the fleshy part of his upper arm, softly kissing it. I inhaled him, the night on him. The heat, the worry sweat. He claimed he was not apprehensive about what lay ahead, but I would have argued otherwise. I was witness to his unsettled dreams.

I am the spectator, tuning in to his restlessness.

Throughout his waking hours, I had begun to remark a new expression in Peter’s eyes. A fixed stare, glassy, as though his pupils had glazed over or been coated in a thin layer of varnish. This focus disguised his fear, blocked it out, blocked me out. Peter was pushing me away, which, according to his logic, was to protect me. He believed that he was sheltering me from his terror, or sheltering himself from my terror, my inability to confront the worst possible outcome: his death.

I dreaded losing my husband, his heart packing up without warning, ‘worn out by strain’, in the consultant’s ominous words. Snatched from me while he was sleeping or, when the appointed day arrived, while he was under sedation. A being submerged beneath the effects of medication who would never awaken.

I refused to compare it to the past, to the first time I had lost someone, a lover who never resurfaced, the years it had taken me to come to terms with it.

Had Peter made the connection, cast his mind back to 1968, ‘our first summer’ together at this house, our long, carefree days together on this beach? Until calamity had struck.

It had come as no surprise to me that Peter was diag-nosed with atrial or supraventricular tachycardia, SVT. He had lived his life at a supersonic pace, in the turbo lane. He had travelled ceaselessly, worked incessantly, handled and triumphed over high-profile legal cases, which had won him a coveted international reputation and the honour of a CBE. However, alongside the acknowledgements came high stress levels. His caring heart carried the burdens of those less fortunate, those whose liberties he fought for and won. In his juridical field, few reputations, if any, surpassed Peter Soames’s.

Long-haul flights were his norm, sometimes once or even twice a week. He was always out of bed by five thirty a.m. no matter when we had turned in the night before. Even after we had stayed up till two watching a movie, he had set his phone alarm for five. And then he’d switch it off and roll over for half an hour, indulging in his ‘lie-in’.

I longed for him to slow down. Some days I felt as though I’d never catch hold of him, never pull him by his shirt tails and draw him in slow motion back to me, begging, ‘Hey, what’s the rush? Bide time with me.’

I turned now from the bedside and pattered to the open window, leaning my elbows on the sill, mesmerized by the swallows dipping and circling above the pink-tinged beach. I loved this time of year, with the first stirrings of summer ahead. I loved this old cliff house built high into its scrubby hillside overlooking the Mediterranean. Heron Heights. Peter had inherited it, this rather splendidly eccentric sunlit villa, from his late aunt, an artist, Agnes Armstrong-Soames. Yes, the painter. The very same.

I loved the privacy, the isolation, the villa’s distance from the nearest town. Our lives here have become secluded, our world privileged. The environment has cocooned me, allowed me to feel safe, even from the past. My past. Our past. The tragedy that took place here too long ago to remember. Except that I do remember. I have never allowed myself to forget it, but I have forgiven myself. Forgiven myself for the foolish, brainless role I played in someone’s death.

Peter and I never talk about it, never allude to it. That long-ago midsummer night.

But what happened on that long-ago midsummer night? If you’re intrigued and you’d like to find out more, The House on the Edge of the Cliff is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Anglo-Irish actress Carol Drinkwater is perhaps still most familiar to audiences for her award-winning portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. A popular and acclaimed author and film-maker as well, Carol has published nineteen books for both the adult and young adult markets. She is currently at work on her twentieth title.

Envy by Amanda Robson | @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K | #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Envy by Amanda Robson! My thanks to Sabah at Avon for the invitation to join. Today, I have an extract to share with you but first, here is what Envy is all about.

Author : Amanda Robson
Title : Envy
Pages : 432
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : April 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Erica has always wanted to be exactly like her neighbour, Faye: beautiful, thin, and a mother. But Faye’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems – she has a terrible secret, and slowly but surely, it is threatening to destroy her and everything she holds dear.

When Faye’s daughter Tamsin goes missing after school, the police turn to Erica. But is Erica the only one who has been enviously watching Faye? Or is there another threat hiding in the shadows…?

| EXTRACT |

Tamsin hides, giggling, behind your shapely legs. She looks so vulnerable today, so much in need of my love.

‘Well,’ you say, ‘nice to meet you. Best be going home. Stuff to do. Tea to cook.’

And then you walk away holding Tamsin’s hand. I think Georgia has fallen asleep in the buggy. You are leaning your head towards Tamsin, listening to what she is telling you.

But you don’t deserve to have her to listen to, do you? Two-timing whore, with a high opinion of yourself. Adulterer. Liar. You deserve to lose your children, like my mother lost me.

I close my eyes and that ache engulfs me. The ache I get when I remember the children at school calling my mother a slag. The jeering and bullying, which began on the walk home from school when Tommy Hall hit Geoffrey, spread like wildfire, in the classroom, in the playground.

Intriguing, eh? If this sneak peek has left you wanting more, why not grab yourself a copy of Envy right now!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

After graduating, Amanda Robson worked in medical research at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and at the Poisons Unit at Guy’s Hospital where she became a co-author of a book on cyanide poisoning – a subject which has set her in good stead for writing her dark and twisting novel about love affairs gone wrong. Amanda attended the Faber novel writing course and writes full-time.

Suddenly Single by Carol Wyer | @carolewyer @canelo_co | #blogtour #extract #SuddenlySingle

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Suddenly Single by Carol Wyer today! My thanks to Ellie at Canelo for the invitation to join! I have an extract to share with you but first, here is what the book is all about.

Author : Carol Wyer
Title : Suddenly Single
Pages : 308
Publisher : Canelo
Publication date : April 8, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When bestselling romance author Chloe Piper’s marriage implodes a week before Christmas, she flees her cheating ex and the village gossips for the solitude of the newly built Sunny Meadow Farm and the company of her hapless dog, Ronnie.

But Chloe is soon pushed out of her comfort zone. Because with a lively development building crew – headed up by charming Alex – and a larger-than-life neighbour determined to make Chloe’s love life her pet project, Chloe finds herself in a whole new world of chaos…

| EXTRACT |

Faith was the first to comment. ‘Chloe, it’s perfect. So you.’ 

The kitchen was a blend of contemporary trends of industrial and neutral tones, while holding on to a warm essence. Open shelving created a relaxed atmosphere and the designer Italian stools that stood by a large rustic island would be ideal for casual dining. Mood lighting over the island and task lighting over the kitchen units created a great balance while the natural light that flooded through the huge windows softly illuminated the entire space.

Faith pointed to it. ‘I can picture myself sitting there, glass of wine in hand and snacking on some warm, crusty bread. Ah, bliss!’

‘You’ll definitely come and visit me here in the wilds of Staffordshire, then.’

‘You bet. It has a certain appeal,’ she added, her eye drawn to the figure tapping on the window attempting to attract Thomas’s attention. It was Jack. Thomas stuck up a thumb in acknowledgement and the carpenter departed.

‘They’re all keen to know if you’re happy with it,’ said Thomas.

‘Very,’ replied Chloe, savouring being in her own home.

The island’s pale marble top had a hint of pink that was reflected in pink roses that stood in a light pink flower bag. She hastened towards them breathing in their delicate perfume.

‘The flowers are beautiful. You shouldn’t have bought them.’ Her cheeks had turned the same shade of pink as the petals. Thomas merely smiled a response, his attention on Ronnie, who scuttled about the kitchen checking every corner and sniffing the length of every skirting board.

‘Is this the lounge?’ asked Faith, wandering towards the wooden door at the far end of the kitchen. She opened it and emitted a squeal of delight. ‘A whopper of a log burner, and it’s alight! It’s gorgeous. How toasty! Ooh, lovely huge settees. You have good taste, Chloe. These are much nicer than those leather things you had at the old place. Okay, forget the island and the crusty bread. I’m thinking more of snuggling up in front of this with a glass of mulled wine.’

The smile on Thomas’s face broadened. He turned towards Chloe. ’Couldn’t have you coming into a chilly house, could we? I got my lad, Alex, to fetch up some wood for you. We stacked it around the back of the house and you should have enough to last you over Christmas.’

‘I really don’t know what to say. You’ve been amazing. I’m sure you’ve done more than you ought to have for me. You’ve been here to take delivery of my furniture, bought me light shades, sorted out the television aerial man, advised me on materials and design and held my hand during the whole process.’

‘We all need a little hand-holding from time to time. The lads and I work on developments all the time. It’s our business and it’s easier for us to find those little necessary bits and pieces, like toilet roll holders and outside lamps or doorstops, than for you to mess about. We only help out the clients we like though,’ he added with a wink. ‘Now, can I ask you a favour?’ He put his large hand into his coat pocket and extracted a copy of a book.

‘My missus would love you to sign this.’

Chloe looked at the cover and gasped. ‘How did you find out? I thought I was anonymous here. No one is supposed to know I wrote it. I wanted to keep it quiet.’

Thomas tapped the side of his nose. ‘I like to find out as much as possible about the folk who buy my houses and I have a particular fondness for this development. This is going to be my last project ever before I retire and I want it to be special with only the “right” people living here. I’ve turned down many folks who have put in offers on these properties. I’m only accepting those from people I feel ought to be here. Call me old. Call me stupid, or quirky, but that’s what I’ve decided to do. It’s taken four years of planning and arguing with authorities to get it this far. I designed all the houses myself so I want them to be cared for and loved as much as I care about them. Don’t worry. I won’t spill the beans about you. An old pal in Appletree told me about you. He heard a rumour. You will sign the book, won’t you? Patricia loved it. She can’t wait for your next one.’

Faith, who had returned from the lounge, pricked up her ears. ‘You’d better get that laptop out pretty quickly. You have fans. And they can’t get enough of your naughty vicar stories. What a great place to write. It’s so peaceful and calm. I expect many more bonkbuster novels from you, Chloe Piper. I’m depending on you to keep me in designer clothes and expensive holidays.’

‘This is my agent, PR guru, right-hand woman and best friend, Faith Hopkins,’ said Chloe, spotting Thomas’s eyebrows lifting in interest. He held out a hand. Faith obliged and shook it.

‘You in publishing?’

‘I am and Chloe is my star client.’

Chloe took the copy of Spank Me Harder, Vicar together with the pen Thomas offered, and wrote a brief message. He read it, smiled, and thanked her.

‘Patricia will be stoked and the ladies at her book club are going to be very jealous she has a signed copy. Thank you. By the way, the flowers aren’t from me. They’re from an anonymous admirer,’ he said, tapping the side of his nose with a broad forefinger again. He opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of champagne which he handed over. ‘But this is. From the first time I met you I knew you were the right person to buy Sunny Meadow Barn. I hope you’ll be very happy here, Chloe. Now I’m going to leave you and your lovely friend to settle in and if there’s anything you need, just come over to the big barn. The lads will be there until four o’clock.’

Chloe thanked the man again and watched as he plodded carefully around the house and onto the gravel drive towards the as yet unfinished outbuildings.

Has this extract piqued your interest? Do you want read more? Then you’re in luck, because Suddenly Single is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Toys in the Dust by N.M. Brown | @normthewriter @Bloodhoundbook | #blogtour #guestpost #extract

It’s a real pleasure to welcome author N.M. Brown to the blog today to talk about what inspired him to write his latest book, Toys in the Dust! I’ll also be sharing a teaser but first, let’s see what his new book is all about.

Author : N.M. Brown
Title : Toys in the Dust
Series : Leighton Jones #3
Pages : 252
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : March 20, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Two seven-year-old girls, Tina and Suzy, are playing in a dusty creek when a stranger appears and strikes up a conversation. He is sad that he doesn’t have a doll to play with like the girls do, so Suzy hurries home to fetch one. When she returns, Suzy discovers both Tina and the stranger have vanished. 

A short while later, traffic officer Leighton Jones, who is fighting his own demons, is driving home from the scene of a near-fatal accident. When Leighton sees a young girl race out in front of his car and vanish into the countryside, he reports the sighting. Unfortunately, his superiors, who are increasingly concerned about Leighton’s mental health, doubt the child exists. 

But after Tina’s mother confirms her daughter’s disappearance, Leighton risks his job by pursuing his own investigation of the case.

Meanwhile, in the Californian countryside, a child killer is relentlessly searching for the one who got away. 

Leighton has his work cut out. But can he prove his sanity and find Tina before the stranger does?

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Wordery

| EXTRACT |

The loss had broken him; as a man and a husband he had failed. His wife had drifted out of existence, and he felt that he had allowed it to happen. This left his daughter without a mother, and stuck with a dysfunctional father. And yet this single fact – his sole responsibility – made it necessary for him to somehow make things okay for Annie. If it had been his fault that things were bad, it was also his duty to put things right. That was his only means of redemption. Now, in the absence of anyone else to share the roles, Leighton stared through his windshield and figured he would have to commit to learning how to braid hair and paint nails, and make it through. 

It was then, when Leighton was caught up in his critique of his inadequate parenting that it happened.

The figure of what appeared to be a child, if that was what the apparition was, burst suddenly out of the tall grass at the side of the road and ran blindly across the road in front of his car. In that instant, Leighton saw nothing more than a momentary orange blur in the shape of a child – there for a moment, then gone. In instinctive response, he slammed on the brakes of his car. It skidded to a squealing halt on the hot road surface. The momentum threw him forward, his seatbelt digging painfully into one shoulder. Leighton let out a deep sigh, and his hands, still fastened on the wheel, began to tremble.

‘Jesus,’ he muttered.

Having managed to coax one hand off the wheel, Leighton switched on his hazard lights, and unclipped his seatbelt. He then opened the door and climbed out. The road and the surrounding area were so quiet he could hear the faint hushing sound of the restless surf, punctuated by the chirrup of bugs in the grass. Wandering around the car, Leighton peered into the long grass, door handle-high, at the side of his car. It had been less than a minute since the child had slipped into the grass, yet the area appeared undisturbed. Leighton took a cautious step into the dusty wilderness and called out across the parched landscape.

‘Hey, kid, are you okay? Is someone with you?’ Leighton’s deep voice carried on the warm air.

He waited for a moment, standing on the road, listening intently and staring out into the panorama of grass and trees stretching toward the rocky distant hills. 

‘Can you hear me, kid?’ he yelled, and held his hand up to shield his eyes from the low afternoon sun. 

There was no answer other than the slow ripple of the needle grass and the relentless creak and whirr of the hidden oblivious insects. Staring into the wilderness, Leighton wondered for a moment if he had somehow imagined the child.

| GUEST POST |

Toys in the Dust – inspiration 

Whilst researching the other Leighton Jones novels – both of which involve people disappearing, I spent much of my time listening to true crime podcasts. These programmes covered every situation from recent abductions to historical cold cases, many of which were utterly captivating. 

Listening to programmes such as Crawlspace or Generation Why, pulls me into a rabbit hole of theories, suspects and secrets. It is perhaps the greatest possible stimulus for Crime writers. 

Occasionally, I would encounter cases that were hard to shake off. There were a couple that were particularly haunting for me. The first involved one of the most famous cold case in the United States, involving a young girl who was abducted from outside her home on a snowy afternoon.

The second case involved a group of three children who vanished from an Australian beach in the late 1960s. At the time of the disappearance kids could wander freely around, but this case shocked the nation and changed the way in which people now parent. 

Both these cases seemed to stay with me until I knew that I had to write about a child being abducted, but somehow escaping and turning the tables on her abductor. So partly, the story was driven by my own personal need to make things right – at least in the fictional world.

I also wanted to write a paired down story, which revealed a less experienced cop stumbling through things personally and professionally.

Finally, much as my first novel The Girl on the Bus is full of hidden references to serial killers (Eddie G’s diner at the start is named after Ed Gein – the real life Norman Bates, etc) in Toys in the Dust there are numerous fairytale elements, but I’ll let the reader discover them, hopefully.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Norman! I think Leighton is the perfect person to (hopefully) find Tina.

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Norman has enjoyed writing for more than two decades. He has always considered a combination of decent fiction and good coffee as providing the best way to unwind and slip out of ordinary life for a while.

Having grown up Central Scotland, he studied English at Stirling University, where he began penning poetry, drama scripts and short stories. However, his real commitment to writing resulted from spending a snowy winter attending a series of fireside writing workshops in Perth.  

More recently, Norman’s love of crime fiction led him to create the weary detective Leighton Jones. Having based his debut novel around this character, Norman felt so intrigued by him that he decided to give Jones at least two more outings.

Aside from his family, Norman’s other passion is cooking, which may explain why culinary elements always seem to creep out of his kitchen and into his stories.

Get in touch with Norman via Twitter

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski | @borstinski @damppebbles | #guestpost #damppebblestours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi. My thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles tours for the invitation to join. Today, author Leopold Borstinksi visits my blog to talk about which book he wishes he’d written and why. But first, here is what his own book is all about!

Author : Leopold Borstinski
Title : Mama’s Gone
Series : The Lagotti Family Series #4
Pages : 301
Publisher : Sobriety Press
Publication date : March 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When the children grow up, the parents must die.

California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love. 

As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them. 

But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone? 

Amazon US | Amazon UK

| GUEST POST |

For reasons I am not able to express, I was asked recently what book I wish had written and the honest answer is Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre because it is a work of total genius that changed the way I viewed the world. It is an existentialist work, but four years after I first read it I found out that Sartre had written the slender novel under the influence of mescaline. This explains a lot. But if you ask me which fiction book I most admire then hands down it is The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy. Why? Let me tell you…

This was the first Ellroy book I read and his particular prose style amazed me as much as it challenged me. The way that internal monologues sleep through every paragraph and the non-standard approach to language made it a very difficult first hundred pages, but the rewards were immense.

I was introduced to a cast of characters as vast and disparate as you could get. Given the reach of the story – covering the assassination of JFK and pushing toward the next Kennedy death – and the breadth of mob, politician and underworld criminal worlds depicted, it is nothing short of fabulous. At the time, I was a Joe Public book reader, but now I am a writer as well, I have a greater understanding of the complex hurdles Ellroy needed to surmount in order to deliver the book as published.

First of all, of course and I hope this doesn’t count as a spoiler, but we all know that JFK gets killed, so the central premise – will they or won’t they top the president – is null and void as something to generate tension. Anyone who has read The Day of The Jackal knows how hard it is to suspend your disbelief long enough to read a tale about famous historical events.

But I was gripped right up to the end. And there were sequels as well that kept me riveted too. One of the central conceits of the book is to meld real-life people with fictional folk. You wonder the extent to which Ellroy researched the Kennedy clan and those around them. I wanted it all to be true, real, genuine, but I know in my heart of hearts that this is not a documentary or even a dramatisation of actual events. This is fiction and the people with real names are as made up as the other characters.

And yet I still love the book. What’s the best bit about it? It’s size? From memory, my copy weighed in at about 800 pages – it was purchased at a time when an eBook was a typo and not the norm – it was about as thick as the Lord of the Rings, but it was a pure crime novel. Not a furry critter in sight.

Since then, I have devoured almost everything of Ellroy I can lay my hands on, but the Six Thousand remains my favourite. Perhaps because it was my first, but definitely because it is a juicy steak of a book. Oh and I lied: I do wish I’d written it, but I wanted to make myself seem clever in the opening paragraph.

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay | @Tatianaderosnay @WorldEdBooks | #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Rainwatcher by Tatiana de Rosnay. My thanks to Julia Forster at World Editions for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, let’s find out a bit more about the novel.

Author : Tatiana de Rosnay
Title : The Rain Watcher
Pages : 288
Publisher : World Editions
Publication date : March 5, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

It is raining non-stop over Paris. The Malegarde family – split between France, London, and the US – is reunited for the first time in years.

When Paul, a famous yet withdrawn arborist, suffers a stroke in the middle of his 70th birthday celebrations, his son Linden is stuck in a city that is undergoing a stunning natural disaster.

As the Seine bursts its banks and floods the streets, the family will have to fight to keep their unity as hidden fears and secrets also begin to rise.

In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates her wealth of skills both as an incredible storyteller and also as a connoisseur of the human soul.

| EXTRACT |

Opening to The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

“It’s been like this for the past two weeks,” says the listless taxi driver. The rain pours down, a silver curtain, hissing, obstructing all daylight. It is only ten o’clock in the morning, but to Linden, it feels like dusk glimmering with wetness. The taxi driver says he wants to move away for good, flee Paris, find the sun, go back to balmy Martinique, where he is from. As the car leaves Charles de Gaulle Airport and edges along the jammed highway and ring road that circles the city, Linden cannot help agreeing with him. The sodden suburbs are dismal, clustered contours of cubic volumes bedecked with garish neon billboards flickering in the drizzle. He asks the driver to turn on the radio, and the man comments upon his perfect French, “for an American.” Linden grins. This happens every time he returns to Paris. He replies he’s Franco-American, born in France, French father, American mother, he speaks both languages fluently, with no accent at all. How about that, eh? The driver chortles, fumbles with the radio, well, monsieur certainly looks like an American, doesn’t he, tall, athletic, jeans, sneakers, not like those Parisians with their fancy ties and suits.

The news is all about the Seine. Linden listens while squeaky windshield wipers thrust away rivulets in a never-ending battle. The river has been rising for five days now, since January 15, lapping around the Zouave’s ankles. The huge stone statue of a colonial soldier situated just below the pont de l’Alma is, Linden knows, the popular indicator of the river’s level. In 1910, during the major overflows that inundated the city, the water had crept all the way up to the Zouave’s shoulders. The driver exhales, there’s nothing to be done to prevent a river from flooding, no use fighting nature. Men need to stop tampering with nature; all this is her way of lashing back. As the car inches along sluggish circulation, unrelenting rain pounding on the car roof, Linden is reminded of the email the hotel sent him on Tuesday.

Dear Mr. Malegarde,

We are looking forward to your arrival and stay with us as from Friday, January 19th, at noon, until Sunday, January 21, in the evening (with a late checkout, as requested). However, the traffic situation in Paris might be problematic due to the level of the river Seine. Fortunately, the Chatterton Hotel, situated in the fourteenth arrondissement, is not located in an area liable to inundations, and therefore will not be concerned by the inconvenience. For the moment, the prefecture informs us there is nothing to worry about, but our policy is to update our guests. Please let us know if you need any assistance. Kind regards.

Linden read it at the airport on his way from LA to New York, where he was booked to photograph a British actress for Vanity Fair. He forwarded the message to his sister, Tilia, in London, and to his mother, Lauren, in the Drôme valley, who were to join him in Paris that Friday. Linden had not included Paul in the email because his father only appreciated letters and postcards, not emails. His sister’s answer, which he received when he landed hours later at JFK, made him chuckle.

Floodings?! What?! Again? Don’t you remember there was already a scary flood in Paris last November? And what about the one in June 2016? It took us years to organize this bloody weekend, and now this?! She signed off with a series of scowling emoticons.

Later, his mother replied to both of them: Will come by boat if we have to, dragging your father away from his trees! To at last be together! No way will we cancel this family gathering! See you on Friday, my loves!

The Malegarde family was meeting in Paris to celebrate Paul’s seventieth birthday, as well as Lauren and Paul’s fortieth wedding anniversary.

Linden had not given the hotel’s warning another thought. When he left New York for Paris on Thursday evening, he felt weary. It had been two full days, and before that, weeks of hard work around the globe. He would have preferred to fly back home to San Francisco, to Elizabeth Street, to Sacha and the cats. He had not seen much of Sacha, nor the cats, in the past month. Rachel Yellan, his dynamic agent, had landed him one job after the other, a dizzying swirl from city to city that left him depleted and longing for a break. The narrow blue house in Noe Valley and its cherished inhabitants would have to wait until this special family event was over.

“Just the four of us,” his mother had said, all those months ago, when she had booked hotel and restaurant. Was he looking forward to this? he wondered as the plane took off. They had not often been together, just the four of them, since his teenage years at Sévral, where he grew up, and more so, since he had left Vénozan, his father’s familial domain, in 1997, at nearly sixteen. He saw his parents once or twice a year, and his sister whenever he went to London, which was frequently. Why did “just the four of us” sound both so cozy and ominous? 

On the flight to Paris, Linden read Le Figaro and realized with a jab of apprehension that the situation described by the hotel was, in fact, disquieting. The Seine had already flooded in late November, as Tilia pointed out, after a wet summer and autumn, and previously, in June 2016. Parisians had kept a wary eye on the Zouave, and the little waves lapping up his shins. Fortunately, the flow had stopped increasing. Le Figaro explained that thanks to modern technology, one could predict the river’s engorgement three days ahead, which left ample time for evacuating. But the actual problem was the torrential rain, which had not lessened. The river was on the rise again, and threateningly fast…

If this extract and Tatiana de Rosnay’s beautiful writing has left you wanting more, then why not buy yourself a copy of The Rain Watcher!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Tatiana de Rosnay, of English, French, and Russian descent, was born in 1961, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and raised in Boston and Paris.

After studying literature in England at the University of East Anglia, Tatiana worked in Paris as a reporter for Vanity FairPsychologies Magazine, and ELLE.

She has published twelve novels in French and three in English including New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, which sold over eleven million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Kristin Scott Thomas in 2010.

Her books have been published in 42 countries and in 2011 she was listed by Le Figaro as the fifth most-read French author worldwide.