East of England by Eamonn Griffin | @eamonngriffin @Unbound_Digital | #RandomThingsTours #guestpost

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for East of England by Eamonn Griffin. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join. Author Eamonn Griffin visits the blog today and shares ten things you didn’t know about him, but first here is what East of England is all about.

Author : Eamonn Griffin
Title : East of England
Pages : 368
Publisher : Unbound Digital
Publication date : January 24, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Dan Matlock is out of jail. He’s got a choice. Stay or leave. Go back to where it all went wrong, or simply get out of the county. Disappear. Start again as someone else.

But it’s not as simple as that.

There’s the matter of the man he killed. It wasn’t murder, but even so. You tell that to the family. Especially when that family is the Mintons, who own half that’s profitable and two-thirds of what’s crooked between the Wolds and the coast. And who could have got to Matlock as easy as you like in prison, but who haven’t touched him. Not yet.

And like Matlock found out in prison, there’s no getting away from yourself, so what would the point be in not facing up to other people?

It’s time to go home.

East of England blends a rural take on the noir thriller with a fascination with the British industrialised countryside that lies east of the Wolds, between the Humber and the Wash. Unlit byways rather than the neon-bright and rain-slicked city. A world of caravan parks, slot machines, and low-rise battery farms.

The flatlands of the east coast; decaying market towns and run-down resorts, and the distant throb of offshore windfarms. Where the smell you’re trying to get out of your clothes is the cigarette taint of old phone boxes and bus shelters, and where redemption, like life, is either hard-earned or fought for, one way or another. 

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

| GUEST POST |

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Me

1. I’m left-handed; we’ve evolved from the right-handers, you know.

2. I used to be in a church choir when I was a kid. There are incriminating photos of a cute nature held in the family archives in case I step too far out of line.

3. I’m a big fan of part time study. Love the Open University.

4. I once had a pee standing next to Antonio Banderas.

5. I don’t drive. I lack the gene necessary to pass driving tests.

6. I’m hard on laptops. I seem to be able to break them with unpractised ease.

7. I was a film extra once. In 1990’s Memphis Belle. I’ve looked, but I haven’t seen myself in the movie, though.

8. My favourite book? Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. It never fails to astonish and amuse me in equal measure.

9. One day I’ll do a photography book about buildings that used to be cinemas. Love former cinemas, both the derelict ones and the refurbished.

10. If I’m caught and sent to the electric chair for my crimes, then my last meal would be sushi. The good stuff.

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Eamonn Griffin was born and raised in Lincolnshire, though these days he lives in north-east Wales.

He’s worked as a stonemason, a strawberry picker, in plastics factories (everything from packing those little bags for loose change you get from banks to production planning via transport manager via fork-lift driving), in agricultural and industrial laboratories, in a computer games shop, and latterly in further and higher education.

He’s taught and lectured in subjects as diverse as leisure and tourism, uniformed public services, English Studies, creative writing, film studies, TV and film production, and media theory. He doesn’t do any of that anymore. Instead he writes fulltime, either as a freelancer, or else on fiction.

Eamonn has a PhD in creative writing with the University of Lancaster, specialising in historical fiction, having previously completed both an MA in popular film and a BSc in sociology and politics via the Open University. He really likes biltong, and has recently returned to learning to play piano, something he abandoned when he was about seven and has regretted since.

The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl | @HoZ_Books @alexdahlauthor | #BoyattheDoor #LoveBooksGroup #guestpost

Today, I join the blog tour for The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl. Thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroups for the invitation to join. Author Alex Dahl visits my blog with a truly wonderful guest post but first, here is what the book is all about.

Author : Alex Dahl
Title : The Boy at the Door
Pages : 384
Publisher : Head of Zeus
Publication date : January 10, 2019 (first published in 2018)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Everyone has secrets. Even those who seem to be perfect…

On a rainy October evening, Cecilia Wilborg – loving wife, devoted mother, tennis club regular – is waiting for her kids to finish their swimming lesson. It’s been a long day. She can almost taste the crisp, cold glass of Chablis she’ll pour for herself once the girls are tucked up in bed.

But what Cecilia doesn’t know, is that this is the last time life will feel normal. Tonight she’ll be asked to drop a little boy home, a simple favour that will threaten to expose her deepest, darkest secret…

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

| GUEST POST |

Not That Kind of Mother

It’s one of those days. You know, when you have so much to do at work your head is literally spinning. Your breath is shallow, your palms itchy, your entire being shaking with the ravages of your caffeine addiction. Then school calls to say your little munchkin is feeling iffy. You have little choice but to pick him up, but his illness magically evaporates as soon as you arrive home and the bored child then spends the rest of the day whinging. You wish you could stick him in front of Fortnite until two seconds before bed time, but you’re not that kind of mother, hell no, in this house there are rules and boundaries, and one of them is no gaming if off school sick. 

You put your head phones in and hope for the best. You dream about that big glass of Pinot Noir when the kids are in bed and then you remember it’s Dry January and you’re actually doing it, if only to silence the (alarming) number of friends who laughed in your face when you said you might. We all know the mummy-and-alcohol jokes- mummies love the vino a little too much because our little angels bleed us dry. But not me, oh no. I’m not that kind of mother, either. I don’t succumb to the dangerous clutches of alcohol to soothe my shot mummy nerves. 

Then your dog gets some kind of virus and stages an actual shit-show. It alternates between hysterical barking and literal general disgustingness. You clean up and plug the ear plugs back in. You’re just making a dent in your inbox when it’s time to pick up your other child. You walk, in torrential icy rain, dragging the half-squatting dog along, because you’re not the kind of mother who drives everywhere and spews more pollution into our children’s already doomed world. 

You drag the dog and the kid home, shouting snippets of French vocabulary over the downpour as you go along, why waste the opportunity to learn something? (Allez! Vite! Il faut manger! Repeat after me- mon chien s’appele Figaro, etc) You get home and decide to bake because your gluten-free low-carb six-seed paleo bread sure isn’t going to bake itself. While it is in the oven you check if anyone responded to your Mummy chat room bid for interesting vegan recipes for the whole family. And they did. Lots of them, in fact. 

What kind of psycho would make their kids go vegan? 

How the hell do your kids get protein? 

I am so sick of these goddamned vegans, go away, die, BURN! 

Your kids aren’t vegan, by the way. Perhaps you aren’t, either- it’s besides the point. The point is the fury. The judgment. The anger- the sheer, unbridled anger. It’s everywhere- in the media, in the chat rooms, at the school gates, in the way we make harmless jokes about ‘the kind of mother who…’ Why are we so angry? Why do we subject other women and ourselves to these insane, impossible demands? These questions are at the very core of my novel, The Boy at the Door. Cecilia Wilborg is consumed by appearances, obsessed with maintaining her flawless façade, at any cost. She may be an unsympathetic narcissist, but the point is that it is society’s entirely unreasonable demands on mothers that drives her to some very dark places. We are sold an idea of perfection, of having it all. We are expected to work harder and harder, while parenting our children in an ever more hands-on (smothering?) way, holding their hands well into adulthood. 

No wonder mummy needs a drink or ten to avoid cracking up. Just kidding- you’re not that kind of mother! 

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian author. Born in Oslo, she wrote The Boy at the Door while living in Sandefjord.

Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen | @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook | #blogtour #guestpost

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen! My thanks to Emma Welton for the invitation to join. Owen joins us today to play a around of Dessert Island Must-Haves but first, let’s see what the book is all about.

Author : Owen Mullens
Title : Out of the Silence
Pages : n/a
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : January 28, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there.

When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Seven years later in the city of Lahore, members of a prominent family are being brutally murdered, one by one. The only clue is a hand-carved wooden bangle left at the scene of each crime.

As the list of suspects grows and the tension mounts, Ralph realises the answers might be closer to home than he ever thought possible.

Solving the mystery will put him back on top but at what cost?

Only when the smoke clears will the killing stop and honour be satisfied…

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

| GUEST POST |

My wife Christine set me this fun challenge… so I thought I’d share it with you.

Dessert Island Must Haves

You have been washed up on a desert island with no hope of rescue in the foreseeable future but before leaving the ship you have just enough time to grab 1 item from each of the following… Tell us what/who you would choose and why. 

A Book – I suspect that being on a dessert island may not be all its cracked up to be,  sure to be a few down days.  And,  as you’ve probably discovered, sand gets everywhere. With all of that going on I’m liable to need some spiritual uplifting.  The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho has helped me before and probably would again:  a simple tale,  simply told with a host of powerful messages on how to navigate the journey through life – and desert islands. Fantastic! 

An Album – So many to choose from, but I’d go with something from a time when music was very important to me. I was still at school when The Beatles double album – sometimes called The White Album came out.  And what an impression it made on me; great songs,  too many to mention.  Think I’ll put it on while I’m writing this. I remember teaching myself to play Blackbird in my lunchtime breaks and being over the moon  when I got it. 

A Film – Often comedy films don’t make me laugh. Having said that,  probably my favourite film of all time is…As Good As It Gets. Jack Nicholson is always great but in this movie Helen Hunt, Cuba Gooding Junior and Greg Kinnear all give him a run for his money.  The film manages to be cringe-worthy cruel,  sad and laugh-out-loud funny. No wonder it won 2 Oscars. I’ve seen it a dozen times and if I see it another dozen that will be fine with me. 

A fictional character – As a crime fiction writer I’m often asked who my favourite fictional character is and I always say Sherlock Holmes.  However,  old Sherlock would be heavy going on a desert island – out of his face on dope most of the time, because there would be no crimes to solve and he’s depressed. Then, when he gets started on his violin… couldn’t handle it.  So who would I like to be there with me?  No contest,  Patrick Logue from the Charlie Cameron series.  He would always make me laugh and if it turned out there were natives he’d soon be on first name terms. Might even keep us off the menu! Though I would have to keep my eye on him or he’d have the coconut milk out of my tea. 

A luxury item – There would be plenty of time to kill so I’d take a guitar,  I was always able to lose myself in music and I would maybe even discover that elusive 4th chord. 

A photograph – I’d take the photograph I took of Christine a few days ago in Chania. She was looking wonderful,  and I captured it. 

A weapon – I’d take a machete because it could double as a tool. And if it turned out that there were natives and they weren’t friendly, they just might think twice before attacking a mad Scotsman wielding one of these – in my head I’m seeing Braveheart🤣

One useful item – I could imagine mosquito repellent just might come in handy, but I’d go for matches to keep that signal fire burning. 

One food item – A big jar of curry powder for obvious reasons. Too long without a curry and I’d get withdrawal symptoms. 

One drink item – Coffee,  I’d definitely struggle without the bean! How could I possibly get into the day?  I’d need to get used to no Stevia though; not looking forward to that. 

One fun item – A football; nothing like a kick about on the beach! 

I already got stuck on the first question 😂. Great answers, Owen! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this wish us!

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist.

Owen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; he still loves to perform on occasion. His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home in the Greek Islands where In Harm’s Way and the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’ were created and written. His latest novel Out Of The Silence is a truly compelling thriller set in Pakistan. 

The Disappeared by Sibel Hodge | @sibelhodge @Bloodhoundbook | #blogtour #guestpost

Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for The Disappeared by Sibel Hodge! My thanks to Emma at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity join. Author Sibel Hodge joins me today to talk about her writing day but first, here is what The Disappeared is all about!

Author : Sibel Hodge
Title : The Disappeared
Pages : 318
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : January 10, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

On a routine flight from Africa to England, Dr Mason Palmer is tragically killed when the light aircraft he’s travelling on crashes and disappears in dense bush land.

The Widow…

Ten months later, Nicole Palmer is still trying to block out the grief of her husband’s sudden death. Until one morning she receives a photo of Mason through the post, along with a cryptic message. A message only he could’ve written.

The Secret…

But when Nicole tries to find out if Mason is really alive and what actually happened to him in Africa, everyone she turns to for answers ends up dead.

Determined to find the truth, Nicole uncovers a conspiracy that spans the globe, and discovers there are powerful people who are prepared to kill to keep her silent.

Who’s lying? Who’s watching Nicole? And can she expose their murky secrets before they catch up with her?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Wordery | Goodreads

| GUEST POST |

My writing day…

I’m a morning person so I’m most productive first thing. My day starts at about 5 or 6 a.m., and after a cuppa while I’m checking out emails and social media I do a 30 minute yoga and meditation set. A banana and iced soya latte later and I’m good to go! 

When I’m working on my first draft I always aim to write 3000-5000 words per day. I’m a pantster, not a plotter, so I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write until the words tumble out of my head, and it’s not until I finish my first draft, when I really know I’ve got something solid, that I can properly relax. My first draft can end up anything between 45,000-70,000 words, and I tend to write shorter and add more later, rather than longer and cutting anything. Then for the editing process, which means going through it and through it, tweaking, filling plot holes, adding character’s personality, more dialogue, bits of research, etc.

Even when I’m not writing, you can often find me staring into space, thinking about the book—an idea, what I need to do next, working out a problem, imagining a character. And I can’t escape the book in my sleep because I dream about it too. There have been so many times I’ve woken up with my characters having conversations with each other, and I keep a notebook by my bed in case inspiration strikes as I’m falling asleep or during a dream. I’m living it full time, completely immersed in it. I always think being an author is like being an actor, except an author is playing all of the characters at once, getting inside all their heads and going through what they’re going through, and they’re in every scene, which can be exhausting mentally and emotionally at times. 

I write mostly at a standing desk, which I love. It’s actually a really rustic piece of wood shaped from a tree trunk. Or sometimes I’ll be sprawled on the sofa with my laptop on my knees, and often accompanied by up to seven cats that all want to get in on the action and type gobbledygook on my keyboard just for a laugh. 

It’s got to be dead quiet when I’m working. No music for me. No one talking. I need silence and calm to concentrate. Although the calmness doesn’t extend to my work space. I’ve got notes everywhere when I’m writing a novel. Snippets of ideas and dialogue, bits of research, things I need to add in. Sometimes I can have hundreds of pieces of paper scribbled with stuff. 

At my house, we (read : I) call that organised chaos 😉. Thank you, Sibel, for stopping by and sharing your writing day with us!

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Sibel Hodge is the author of the No 1 Bestsellers Look Behind YouUntouchable, and Duplicity. Her books have sold over one million copies and are international bestsellers in the UK, USA, Australia, France, Canada and Germany. She writes in an eclectic mix of genres, and is a passionate human and animal rights advocate.

Her work has been nominated and shortlisted for numerous prizes, including the Harry Bowling Prize, the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition, The Romance Reviews’ prize for Best Novel with Romantic Elements and Indie Book Bargains’ Best Indie Book of 2012 in two categories. She was the winner of Best Children’s Book in the 2013 eFestival of Words; nominated for the 2015 BigAl’s Books and Pals Young Adult Readers’ Choice Award; winner of the Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Book from a Series Award in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013; winner of the Readers’ Favorite Young Adult (Coming of Age) Honorable award in 2015; a New Adult finalist in the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s International Digital Awards 2015, and 2017 International Thriller Writers Award finalist for Best E-book Original Novel. Her novella Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave has been listed as one of the top forty books about human rights by Accredited Online Colleges.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

Facing A Twisted Judgment by K.J McGillick | @rararesources | #blogtour #guestpost

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Facing A Twisted Judgment by K.J. McGillick! My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. Author K.J. McGillick joins me on the blog today to talk about how she tackles writing her books. But first, here is what Facing A Twisted Judgment is all about.

Author : K.J. McGillick
Title : Facing A Twisted Judgment 
Series : Lies and Misdirection #2
Pages : 270
Publisher : KJRM Publishing LLC
Publication date : November 16, 2018

What happens when tunnel vision clouds a police investigation? Is it true that once you are labeled a person of interest you really are the prime suspect? Can you trust the legal system? Probably not.

After a bitterly contested legal battle over inherited property, the hard-won art collection and its owner Samantha Bennington disappear. Both have vanished without a trace. 

When blood spatter is discovered under the freshly painted wall of the room in which two of the paintings were hung, the theft becomes the opening act in a twisted tale of jealousy, revenge, and murder leading to a final judgment for all involved. 

As the list of suspects narrows, the focus lands squarely on the husband. Some labeled Samantha’s husband a corrupt attorney, others an opportunist. Either way, he’s in the crosshairs of law enforcement and they are calling him a murderer. But is he the only viable suspect? What about the missing woman’s drug-addicted sister and her convicted felon brother? Both were furious over their loss at court and have more than enough reason to hate Samantha. 

Guilty until proven innocent leaves Alexander Clarke facing a twisted judgment.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?

I have tried both methods and I can’t say I like one over the other or one works better. I believe the story choses the method as opposed to the writer.

My first book THREE: Deception Love Murder came upon the heels of months of research about the craft of writing. The research I did I saved at http://writingresearch.homesteadcloud.com/. Using all this research I felt comfortable to craft my novel. The first step involved meticulous plotting of the story chapter by chapter with lots of attention to detail. The second step encompassed the fleshing out of characters down to physical attributes, flaws and where they fell on the Myers Briggs testing. I could have drafted the novel at this point but instead purchased thirty poster boards, lots of tape and found pictures that story boarded how I wanted my story to progress. Now I was ready. The subject research came after twenty years of museum visits, many PBS documentaries, and many art appreciation classes. Once I started the novel, the story unfolded naturally. 

My second book TWO: Mind Games and Murder was a book written somewhat by the seat of my pants. Again, the subject matter research accumulated in my mind over many years and a few Google searches updated the statistics I needed. Although I knew about black market organ trafficking things had changed over the years and I needed new information. My outline was sparse and consisted of a page that included the seven points I needed to hit to provide plot development. This book was an easy write. My law practice exposed me to women who were victims of emotional abuse and gas lighting and thus my book gave them a voice. Complex characters who didn’t understand their own motivations gave me a great deal to work with and allowed my story to unfold as it wanted leading to a great story.

My third book ONE: Rage Vengeance and Murder was the most difficult to write of the long and grueling subject research. I chose not to do an outline for the book, felt I knew my characters from the second book. However, the lack of a formal outline led to two full manuscripts being trashed and unnecessary frustration. The only way to open my mind to complete the trilogy involved a trip to Denver for a few days and start the new and final version in a new place to allow my mind to breathe. 

My fourth book The Last Lie She Told was back to the tried-and-true formula that worked for me the first time. I opened my power point and completed in detail my one-page Essential Scenes in Every Story seven-point wheel and a character analysis. 

My fifth book Facing a Twisted Judgment I opened  my Word document and started to write without a safety net. I had no idea where I was going and the only thing I knew was the story’s main character would be a ethically challenged lawyer. I had no plot, story line or blurb and trust my mind to let the story unfold.   

I believe as Lee Child that some books need to be written by the seat of your pants so even you don’t know where the story will take you to keep your interest. 

K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right?

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

The Merest Loss by Steven Neil | @stevenneil12 @rararesources | #blogtour #guestpost

Happy Sunday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Merest Loss by Steven Neil. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join. Author Steven Neil joins me on the blog today to talk about researching and writing historical fiction. But first, here is what The Merest Loss is all about.

Author : Steven Neil
Title : The Merest Loss
Pages : 368
Publisher : Matador
Publication date : November 28, 2017

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet? 

Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father? 

The central character is Harriet Howard and the action takes place between 1836 and 1873. The plot centres on Harriet’s relationships with Louis Napoleon and famous Grand National winning jockey, Jem Mason. The backdrop to the action includes significant characters from the age, including Lord Palmerston, Queen Victoria and the Duke of Grafton, as well as Emperor Napoleon III. The worlds of horse racing, hunting and government provide the scope for rural settings to contrast with the city scenes of London and Paris and for racing skulduggery to vie with political chicanery. 

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Independent Author Network | Goodreads

Researching and writing historical fiction

In many ways, writing historical fiction is no different to writing any other fiction. The author still has to think about the five key elements of novel writing i.e.

  1. Point of view
  2. Plot
  3. Setting
  4. Character
  5. Dialogue.

In addition to these consideration however, there are particular issues which need to be borne in mind if the historical fiction novel is to come across as a credible representation of the period being described.

In writing 19th century historical fiction, as well as specific research in reference books, I always read widely the dominant fiction of the time e.g. Trollope, Dickens, Hardy, Thackeray, to assimilate the sound and feel of the age. I have also developed a number of questions I pose to myself whilst I am researching and planning my novel and I share some of them with you here.

Point of view

What point of view best suits the story you are telling? This seems a rather obvious question but there is a reason why Trollope and Hardy used the omniscient narrator: they wanted to be in complete control of the characters and to manage the reader by knowing everything, by contrast with their characters, who don’t. In this way there is almost a conspiracy between writer and reader at the expense of the characters.

Of course, Trollope and Hardy were living in the 19th century and could sustain an all knowing perspective with reasonable ease. What the contemporary writer has to ask, if they are to write credibly in a 19th century setting, is whether they have done the research necessary to replicate an omniscient narrator. It took me a long time researching to satisfy myself on that point.

Plot

Is this turn of events plausible and credible for the time?

What assumptions are being made about the law, the state of politics, the monarchy, the church, the class system?

Do the events fit with what is happening in the historical timeline and background to events e.g. war, peace, political turmoil, the economy, religion.

Readers will suspend disbelief up to a point (albeit different points for different readers), it is, after all, fiction but if it doesn’t ‘ring true’ you may lose your reader.

Setting

Did that park, that building, that street, that room actually exist at that time?

Would it have looked like that?

Would the flora and fauna have looked like that?

Would the clothing have been worn in that way?

Would the lighting, heating, glazing, transport means have looked like that?

There is a famous story told by Ian McEwan, who was assiduous in his medical research for the novel Saturday, who was berated by a reader because he had a driver easing his particular Mercedes 500 SEL into first gear, when, according to the complainant, this particular version only came in automatic, so the correct phrase would have been to put it into drive. Some people!

Character

Is it likely that someone would behave like that at that time?

What cultural norms and standards of behaviour existed and are the characters conforming to them?

Does the way someone is behaving fit with what you have already described about their education, social class, sex, prejudices, opinions?

Is there continuity of character; is the character suddenly and inexplicably behaving in a way that the reader will struggle to accept?

Characters can be complex and may sometimes behave unusually, but I am told that one of the most common phrases amongst book club members is along the lines of ‘I didn’t think he/she would have done that and that spoiled the story for me.’ Beware!

Dialogue 

Is this how people really spoke at that time?

Would they have used those words?

Are modern idioms creeping into your draft?

Is the way someone is speaking consistent with a character from the 19th century and from chapter to chapter?

As a rule, speakers in the 19th century did not preface their statements with ‘Do you know what’ and other ubiquitous, meaningless phrases but they are so wired in to modern expression that it can sometimes be hard to keep them out.

This is far from an exhaustive set of questions but asking these sorts of questions early in the research period and at the planning stage will save work later on when you are editing. It is very easy to become ‘snow blind’ during the editing phase and I find it much harder to catch glaring errors at a late stage than it is to filter them out at an early stage.

© Steven Neil

Steven Neil has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. In his working life he has been a bookmaker’s clerk, management tutor, management consultant, bloodstock agent and racehorse breeder. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch | @Angela_Petch @rararesources | #blogtour #guestpost

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join. Author Angela Petch joins me on the blog today to talk about what prompted her to write this novella.

42431584

Author : Angela Petch
Title : Mavis and Dot
Pages : 206
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : November 14, 2018

aboutthebook

A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship.Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.”This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with a lot of readers.” Gill Kaye – Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer, Angela Petch’s seaside tale is a departure from her successful Tuscan novels. 

All profits from the sale of the books will go towards research into the cure for cancer.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

guestpost

Mavis and Dot is a departure from my usual historical novels and I’m apprehensive about how it will be received. But, it’s a novella I have wanted to write since losing my best friend to ovarian cancer twelve years ago.

Olga and I met at the school gates. Our daughters remain best friends – my Emily was bridesmaid last year to her Beth. A candle for Olga was lit and I am sure she was there… When she was alive we often went on “jaunts”, as we called them, hunting in charity shops for bargains. Sometimes we found monstrosities too and we basically had a good laugh. We called each other Mavis and Dot. When her diagnosis was terminal, I wrote her a silly story about us – but it wasn’t really about us. It was about the caricatures we’d invented for ourselves. She enjoyed it and drew a picture which I have framed on my loo door.

It’s taken me a long time to turn into something longer than one story and I hope it will entertain and raise some pennies and pounds for research into cancer. Because she and loads of other sufferers should still be here today.

There are ridiculous moments in Mavis and Dot, but there are poignant episodes too. Both ladies had difficult pasts. Recently retired to the seaside, they are lonely and, although very different, form a friendship; a kind of prop. Then, Mavis meets Lance, a singer in a night club who likes to wear frocks and in Chapter 22, he drags them out one autumn afternoon.

Two days later, Lance came to the door. ‘Right, ladies, I’ve come to whisk you both away for the afternoon.’

He stepped into the hall and Mal growled, the fur on his back rising, ‘It’s all right, mate, don’t you remember me?’ Lance said, bending to the dog who backed away, tail between his legs.

‘You have to admit,’ said Dot, ‘you do look rather different from the other day.’

Her gaze took in his knee-length black frock, fur jacket and crocodile-leather ankle boots.

‘Can’t your hound smell my scent, Dottie?’

‘She’s Dot, remember!’ Mavis intervened.

‘Oh, I don’t mind Lance calling me Dottie,’ said Dot.

‘Takes one dotty person to recognise another, eh?’ Lance giggled,

‘Yes, well…’ Dot said. ‘Anyway, Mal probably can’t recognise your scent today because of whatever you’ve drenched yourself in.’ She pinched her nose between finger and thumb. ‘What on earth is it?’

‘I stopped in Beale’s on the way to the bus and tried loads of perfume testers,’ Lance said, holding out his wrist to Dot, who wrinkled her nose. ‘I’m not sure I can come with you today,’ she said. ‘What if hospital lets baby Dorothea out early? I should be here for them.’

‘I’m taking no excuses, Dot. It will do you good to get out of the house,’ Lance said. ‘Mave, do you have a belt I could borrow? To nip this in at the waist?’ He pulled at the loose material of his dress.”

I’ll admit Mavis and Dot are caricatures – exaggerations or oversimplifications. But we all have our little ways, we are all products of our past and we are all individuals. One of my editors was annoyed by my ladies “of a certain age”. “I was a young woman in the 60s,” she said, “and I would never have behaved like Mavis.” We are all different, is my counter-argument.

I hope readers enjoy meeting Mavis and Dot.

abouttheauthor

A prize-winning author, Angela Petch lives half the year in West Sussex and the summer months in a remote valley in the Tuscan Apennines. She recently signed a two-book deal with Bookouture for her Tuscan novels and “Mavis and Dot” is a temporary departure from her usual genre. She has travelled all her life: born in Germany, she spent six years as a child living in Rome, worked in Amsterdam after finishing her degree in Italian, moved to Italy for her job, then to Tanzania for three years. Her head is full of stories and she always carries a pen and note-book to capture more ideas.

In May 2017, Angela Petch won PRIMA’S monthly short story competition and recently had a dozen stories published by The People’s Friend magazine.

“Mavis and Dot” was written in memory of a dear friend who lost her battle with ovarian cancer. All profits from sales of the book will go towards research into a cure for cancer. 

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

page-divide_12_orig

11192018_mavisdot

The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond @GaryRaymond_ #blogtour #guestpost #TheGoldenOrphans #damppebblestours

It’s an absolute pleasure to join the blog tour for The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond today! My thanks to Emma Walton for the invitation to join the tour!

Gary Raymond joins me today to talk about what he thinks makes a good literary thriller. But first, here is all you need to know about The Golden Orphans.

39849912

Author : Gary Raymond
Title : The Golden Orphans
Pages : 155
Publisher : Parthian Books
Publication date : June 30, 2018 (ebook)

aboutthebook

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

guestpost

Gary Raymond’s new novel, THE GOLDEN ORPHANS, a dark, twisting thriller set on the island of Cyprus, has been getting great reviews so far. Here he writes about what he thinks makes a good “literary thriller”?

For a start, let’s not get bogged down too much in the terms of reference. We all know, in a roundabout sort of way, that “literary” means you’re getting something more than just a simple thrill ride, more than a series of set-pieces designed to make your head spin and your heart pound. (Nothing wrong with either of those things, by the way). And “thriller” doesn’t just mean “to thrill”, but that there are certain genre-defined expectations. That’s what those two terms mean to me, anyway. So from a writer’s point of view, I went into THE GOLDEN ORPHANS wanting to hit those two marks. THE GOLDEN ORPHANS is about ideas that preoccupy me as a writer, and, away from writing (if that is possible) things that just preoccupy me as a person (same thing, really). Genre tropes might mean structural conservatism, but it can also mean you have a stable framework within which you can really shake things up. And so THE GOLDEN ORPHANS both follows certain lines familiar to thriller readers, but also then throws in some serious twists and turns. 

The premise – that a down-on-his-luck painter goes to Cyprus for the funeral of a friend and gets mixed up with the Russian mafia – is part of a tradition in British writing of “the Englishman abroad”. Graham Greene was a big influence on this book, and he used that idea time and time again as he used his own experiences of being that Englishman abroad to craft fictional stories. (I have done the same thing, really – I lived in Cyprus for six months in 2006, and this was the basis for my book). 

There are also other tropes in the book – red herrings, femme fatales, clandestine operations going in etc. (there are many more) – and I really enjoyed employing them. Graham Greene’s masterpiece of this type, THE POWER AND THE GLORY (1940), is a snappy little novel about faith and betrayal and what it means to have a relationship with God, all wrapped up in the garments of a chase story. And it is just that. A corrupt and obsessive police chief chases the last catholic priest in a mid-purge Mexico across the country. But inside that tension, that rawness, is a book about human frailty, and human strength.

In THE GOLDEN ORPHANS, I wanted to do what Greene had done, and find a way to excite the reader, to be cinematically urgent, while at the same time not letting up on the fact literature is the greatest space in which to explore ideas. And so my narrator is caught up in intrigue, and there are a few gunfights, and there are villains, and building moments of peril leading to a (hopefully) big pay off at the end – but he is also discovering things about himself and the world around him, about his relationship to others, about what it’s like to live in a society that operates under a shadow (in this case the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974), and what such a shadow can do to a country. 

That’s what a “literary thriller” does – it excites, but it also attempts to contribute to ideas, to thinking, and to debates. I hope THE GOLDEN ORPHANS has managed to hit those two marks.

[I’d say the many good reviews you’ve been receiving so far, Gary, must mean you’re doing something right! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and I wish you the best of luck with The Golden Orphans and whatever project is next for you!]

The Golden Orphans is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Nook | Waterstones | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

page-divide_12_orig

10252018_goldenorphans

One Perfect Witness by Pat Young @py321_young @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #guestpost #OnePerfectWitness

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the stops on the blog blitz for One Perfect Witness by Pat Young today. My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation to join.

41710242

Author : Pat Young
Title : One Perfect Witness
Pages : 362
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : October 1, 2018

aboutthebook

On a remote Scottish hillside, three paths meet. On each path, a boy, one carrying a gun.

When their paths cross, a shot is fired and a boy dies.

That leaves two – one killer and one perfect witness.

This killer will stop at nothing to make sure the witness says nothing. Difficult for most people, even for someone who’s been guarding a secret of his own for five years.

What if the witness decides he’s been silent too long? Sometimes even the unspeakable must be spoken, if we can find the words.

Amazon US | Amazon UKGoodreads

guestpost

I never intended to be a writer. So you can imagine my surprise when I recently found myself nestling between JK Rowling and Dan Brown near the top of Amazon’s bestseller charts, when my debut novel, Till the Dust Settles, appeared in audiobook format. From day one the response to Till the Dust Settles has been quite overwhelming, both in Europe and the United States with many readers expressing the hope that there might be a sequel in the pipeline. 

My publisher, the wonderful Bloodhound Books, had already contracted me to write a second book, (another psychological thriller but with a very different subject matter). When Betsy Reavley of Bloodhound saw the appetite for a follow-up to Till the Dust Settles, she encouraged me to write it. In fact, I already had over fifty thousand words written and filed away. Not because I ever expected folk to love Till the Dust Settles and request a sequel, but because I knew that Lucie’s story was far from over. Readers knew that too. 

It wasn’t difficult to pick up where I left off and soon I know where you live was ready for my publisher’s approval. That was a tense few days. I have never written to a deadline before or under the pressure of expectation and I admit to being terrified at times. I found this book harder to write than the first, for those reasons. The story was never an issue. It told itself.

The inspiration for I know where you live came from a geographical location. Before I wrote a single word, I could ‘see’ the ending, visualising a setting that I knew existed but had never seen. I knew what would happen there, although the details would only come to me later, as I wrote. In fact, when it came time to write the climactic final scene, I ended up acting it out at the top of a staircase, with my husband and my tennis bag!

The setting of the dénouement allowed me to go back to my roots and I actually feature the cottage where my father lived as a child. The nearby village, Auchinleck, is where I grew up and went to school and is, some might say, an unlikely choice for an author. But the place has long been connected with the written word as James Boswell, the biographer of Samuel Johnston lived there. And after all, don’t they say you should write what you know? 

Writing about what I know helped me choose the other setting for I know where you live, Carcassonne, in the south of France. As well as being a place I love, Carcassonne is special for a slightly superstitious reason. In the autumn of 2015, when I was hoping (but not expecting) to find a publisher for Till the Dust Settles, I was in Carcassonne on holiday and found a tiny book, no bigger than a thumbnail, lying on the esplanade outside the mediaeval fortress. A book so small it could have come from a doll’s house. To this day I have no idea how I spotted it in that large open space that’s usually crowded with tourists. But I did and from that moment on, I was utterly convinced I would be published one day. 

Less than two years later my dream became reality and Till the Dust Settles was released by Bloodhound. It feels like a nice closing of the circle that the sequel should be set in Carcassonne. 

I use the town not only as a backdrop to the story but for the cover too. Choosing a book cover is much harder than you might think and it took a few days to get this one right. Bloodhound is an amazing company to work – they are so writer-centred. The cover design is a prime example. I didn’t know what I wanted for my new cover but I knew I’d recognise it when I saw it. I felt quite strongly that since I know where you live is a sequel to Till the Dust Settles it would be good to have a similar style of cover. Betsy Reavley herself designed my first cover and I think it’s fabulous, with that cloud of dust just hanging there. Second time around she was just as patient, determined to help me get it right, even though I rejected several designs. When I suggested Carcassonne as a background, Betsy used a photo I’d found and I absolutely love the result. Hope you do too. 

Most people of course don’t ever see the cover on an actual book and that, in itself, is a challenge. Whatever you choose needs to look strikingly good in colour on a computer screen as that’s where so many potential readers will shop for a book. I think Till the Dust Settles shows up well and I never tire of seeing it on screen. It thrills me every time. But a cover must also be clear and eye-catching in a tiny black and white thumbnail for those who select their next book on the small screen of an e-reader. Perhaps we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but a lot of readers still do.

Choosing the cover of my new book, One Perfect Witness was easy. It has no connection to the other two, being a completely different story. I was sent three designs and it was no contest. The boy on the hill (which was almost the title) captures the essence of the story. If, like me, you’re fascinated by what happens when someone disappears, you’ll enjoy this book of secrets, lies and deception. Sometimes, he who says nothing has most to tell. 

[It’s true I often don’t notice covers, especially for digital books. But on the other hand, many a book on my shelf has been bought based on the cover alone. This one for One Perfect Witness says quite a lot and I can see why you chose this one. Thanks for stopping by, Pat!)

abouttheauthor

Pat Young grew up in the south west of Scotland where she still lives, sometimes. She often goes to the other extreme, the south west of France, in search of sunlight.

Pat never expected to be a writer. Then she found a discarded book with a wad of cash tucked in the flyleaf. ‘What if something awful happened to the person who lost this book?’ she thought, and she was off.

Pat knew nothing of writing, but she knew a thing or two about books, having studied English, French and German at Glasgow University. A passion for languages led to a career she loved and then a successful part-time business that allowed her some free-time, at last.

Pat had plans, none of which included sitting at her desk from daybreak till dusk. But some days she has to. Because there’s a story to be told. And when it’s done, she can go out to play. On zip-wires and abseil ropes, or just the tennis court.

Pat writes psychological thrillers. Her debut novel Till the Dust Settles, has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable Stag trophy. Following publication in July 2017 Pat was delighted to be chosen as an ‘emerging talent’ for Crime in the Spotlight and read from Till the Dust Settles to an audience at Bloody Scotland – another dream come true.

Published by Bloodhound Books, I Know Where You Live is the much-anticipated sequel to Pat’s gripping and unmissable debut thriller, Till the Dust Settles. It too is a psychological thriller with a skilfully told story that makes for an enjoyable stand alone read. It will hook you from the start.

One Perfect Witness, Pat’s third novel to be published, tells a completely new story. If, like Pat, you’re fascinated by what happens when someone disappears, you’ll enjoy this book of secrets, lies and deception.

Author links : Twitter

page-divide_12_orig

10022018_perfectwitness

Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies @CaitlinDavies2 @unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours #blogtour #DaisyBelle #guestpost

Today, it is my pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join. Author Caitlin Davies visits the blog to talk about the two inspirational women this novel is a tribute to, but first here is what Daisy Belle is all about.

40881833

Author : Caitlin Davies
Title : Daisy Belle
Pages : 241
Publisher : Unbound Digital
Publication date : September 1, 2018

aboutthebook

Summer 1867: four-year-old Daisy Belle is about to make her debut at the Lambeth Baths in London. Her father, swimming professor Jeffery Belle, is introducing his Family of Frogs – and Daisy is the star attraction. By the end of that day, she has only one ambition in life: she will be the greatest female swimmer in the world.

She will race down the Thames, float in a whale tank, and challenge a man to a 70-foot high dive. And then she will set sail for America to swim across New York Harbour.

But Victorian women weren’t supposed to swim, and Daisy Belle will have to fight every stroke of the way if she wants her dreams to come true.

Inspired by the careers of Victorian champions Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker, Daisy Belle is a story of courage and survival and a tribute to the swimmers of yesteryear.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Goodreads

guestpost

There are two inspirational women behind the story of Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World, and the first is Agnes Beckwith.

I first came across her about eight years ago. I was researching a book on the history of outdoor swimming on Hampstead Heath in north London, when I saw a Victorian poster held by the British Library. 

It was advertising an aquatic performance at the Royal Aquarium in 1885 and it showed Agnes Beckwith resplendent in a white satin costume, stockings and boots, one arm resting casually on a rock. Just behind her in the water a man had both arms raised in the air, his mouth open in alarm, presumably in the process of drowning. 

Then I read a brief reference to a swim Agnes had completed in September 1875, when at the tender age of 14 she had plunged into the Thames at London Bridge and swum all the way to Greenwich. When I then went on to write Downstream, a history of Thames swimming, I had the chance to further explore her career. 

That’s when I realised just what a trailblazer she had been – no one had ever made a public swim of this length in the River Thames before, not even the great Channel champion Captain Matthew Webb. Yet virtually no one has heard of Agnes Beckwith today. So I decided to write a novel, a fictionalized life story inspired by her incredible career.

Agnes Beckwith was born in Lambeth, south London, in 1861. Her father Frederick is believed to have come from Ramsgate in Kent, and he was a leading swimming professor and English professional champion. By the time of Agnes’ birth, he was swimming master at the Lambeth Baths and his ‘Family of Frogs’ started giving public displays in the early 1860s. 

At the age of nine Agnes was performing with her brother Willie, himself a champion swimmer, as ‘Les Enfants Poissons’ in a plate-glass aquarium at the Porcherons Music Hall in Paris. All seven of Frederick’s children were involved in his aquatic galas; his second wife Elizabeth (whom he married in 1876 after Agnes’ mother died) played the piano during shows, while his daughter Lizzie went on to became a renowned swimmer and performer. 

Agnes Beckwith completed several record-breaking swims in the River Thames, including 20 miles in 1878. She then formed her own ‘talented troupe of lady swimmers’ and travelled the country giving exhibitions. In September 1880 she spent 100 hours submerged in a whale tank at the Royal Aquarium, eating her meals in the water and reading daily accounts of her swim in the press. 

Two years later she was being billed as ‘the premier lady swimmer of the world’ before setting off on a tour of the United States. In June 1883 she declared her intention to swim from Sandy Hook in New Jersey to Rockaway Pier in New York. 

Returning to England, Agnes continued to take part in shows with her family and was still holding exhibition swims in the early 1900s, now married to theatrical agent William Taylor. Their son William performed alongside his mother as ‘the youngest swimmer in the world’. 

Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World was also inspired by another forgotten Victorian superstar – Annie Luker. She was born in 1870 in Oxfordshire, and she too was the daughter of a swimming professor. Annie started out as a river swimmer and in 1892 she attempted to swim nearly 19 miles from Kew to Greenwich to establish a claim to ‘the female championship of the world’. 

Two years later she was ‘World Champion High Diver’, performing at the Royal Aquarium where she plunged 70 feet into a tank containing just eight feet of water. Annie Luker successfully challenged a male diver, Professor O’Rourke, and remained at the Royal Aquarium for six years, as well as training female divers. 

According to family lore, Annie Luker was later arrested as a suffragette after a protest dive off a bridge in London and imprisoned in Holloway, under the name Annie Parker. 

I wanted to write this novel as a tribute to women like Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker because they are yet to be properly recognised. There has been no induction into any swimming Hall of Fame, and yet what they did and the prejudice they overcame made it possible for women to swim and dive today.

[They really are the most amazing inspirational ladies and they deserve this tribute. Thank you so much for visiting and telling us their stories, Caitlin!]

abouttheauthor

Caitlin Davies was born in London in 1964. She spent 12 years in Botswana as a teacher and journalist and many of her books are set in the Okavango Delta, including a memoir Place of Reeds, described by Hilary Mantel as ‘candid and unsentimental’.

Her novels include The Ghost of Lily Painter, a fictional account of the arrest and execution of two Edwardian baby farmers, and Family Likeness about the fate of ‘war babies’ born to African American GI fathers in England during World War Two.
Her non-fiction books include Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath, a celebration of 200 years of outdoor bathing, an illustrated history of the world famous Camden Lock Market, and Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames.

Her latest non-fiction is Bad Girls, and her latest novel is Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World, based on the lives of several Victorian aquatic stars, to be published by Unbound on September 1, 2018.

She is also a teacher and journalist, and was a regular feature writer for The Independent’s education and careers supplement. From 2014-17 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Westminster, Harrow, in the faculty of Media, Arts & Design. 

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

page-divide_12_orig

09012018_daisybelle