#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : Double Identity #DoubleIdentity – Alison Morton @alison_morton

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘Double Identity’ blogtour, organized by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.
“Grips like a vice – a writer to watch out for” says crime thriller writer Adrian Magson about Roma Nova series starter INCEPTIO. All six full-length Roma Nova thrillers have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review.
Now Alison continues to write thrillers and drink wine in France with her husband.

Other works
The Carina strand
INCEPTIO where New Yorker Karen Brown is thrown into a new life in mysterious Roma Nova and fights to stay alive with a killer hunting her
CARINA, a novella, Carina’s first mission abroad. What could go wrong?
PERFIDITAS, six years on, where betrayal and rebellion are in the air, threatening to topple Roma Nova and ruin Carina’s life.
SUCCESSIO, where a mistake from the past threatens to destroy the next generation.
The Aurelia strand
AURELIA, in late 1960s Roma Nova, Aurelia Mitela battles her life-long nemesis, silver smuggling and is forced to choose between her love, her child and her country
NEXUS Mid 1970s, London, where a simple favour for a friend becomes a chilling pursuit across Europe
INSURRECTIO, where Aurelia Mitela struggles against a manipulative tyrant grabbing power. But it may already be too late to save Roma Nova…
RETALIO, a classic tale of resistance and retribution – the endgame between Aurelia and Caius

Extras
ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories from AD 370 to the present

Contributions
‘A Roman Intervenes‘ in 1066 Turned Upside Down
How Galla Mitela, Roma Novan imperial councillor, attempts to stop the Norman invasion of England. One of a series of possible alternative outcomes of 1066.
‘The Mystery of Victory’ in Rubicon (HWA/Sharpe Books)
What did happen to the Altar of Victory in the dusk of the Roman Empire?
‘The Idealist’ in Betrayal (Historical Fictioneers, 2020)

Non Fiction
Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War.
The 500 Word Writing Buddy: 35 Inner Secrets for the New Writer

Social Media:
Alison’s Roma Nova site
Facebook
Twitter 
Alison’s writing blog
Instagram 
GoodReads
Alison’s Amazon page
Newsletter sign-up

Synopsis :

Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.
It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.
Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.
But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover—and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.
Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?
A stunning new thriller from the author of the award-winning Roma Nova series, fans of Daniel Silva, Stella Rimington or Chris Pavone will love Double Identity.

Purchase Links:
Amazon
AppleBooks
Kobo
B&N 
Books2Read

Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and digital formats by Pulcheria Press on 7th January 2021.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I write thrillers featuring tough, but compassionate heroines, until now set in an alternative modern day Roman mini-state, Roma Nova. Several of six full-length novels, two novellas and collection of short stories have gained awards and been Amazon #1 bestsellers. But now, with Double Identity, I’m switching away from alternative history for a little while and turning to crime…
Although I’ve worked with words all my life – translation, government papers, reports, corporate documentation, magazine editing – it was only when I went to see a beautiful but badly written film that I was seized with the idea that I could write something better. I’d had all kinds of ideas swirling around my imagination for decades bursting to escape. After a three-year ‘apprenticeship’ of classes, conferences and mentorship, the first Roma Nova thriller came out in 2013.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
Growing up, I read anything and everything adventurous and/or historical including the Narnia books by C S Lewis, Leslie Charteris’s The Saint series, the Angélique stories by Sergeanne Golon, The Prisoner of Zenda (Anthony Hope). I graduated to James Bond, Modesty Blaise and the John le Carré spy stories and historical mysteries like Lindsey Davis’s Falco and Steven Saylor’s Gordianus series. As for crime and thrillers, J.D Robb, and for modern spy thrillers, William Boyd, Daniel Silva, Stella Rimington and Chris Pavone.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I didn’t include Robert Harris in the question above because his ‘Fatherland’ alternative history thriller had a unique influence on me. His historical fiction is equally gripping. He writes in a succinct style with a terrific sense of both place and pace.Yes, his brains would be well worth picking.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I’d love to sit down with my new heroine, Mélisende, or Mel as she calls herself when speaking English. She has a French father and English mother and, like me, has served in the armed forces. But it would probably be over a glass of our local Poitou white wine rather than tea.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Not as such, but I do drink industrial amounts of tea! Oh, and I write in complete silence.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
It starts with the characters who run around in my head demanding to be let out. Then I throw a lot of trouble at them and watch how they react. I’m a big fan of exploring ‘what if’ which is where my Roma Nova stories came from. I’m a bit of a fidget myself, so my stories tend to be more active than passive.
Double Identity came from the idea of dual nationality and crossing cultures. Mel thinks and speaks in French or English, switching from one to another as necessary. However, sometimes, she’s not completely sure which identity she’s inhabiting. Giving my heroine a background in rural Poitou in western France was easy – I live there myself!
Should people be worried? Haha! They’ll have to read Double Identity to find out…

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m 15% plotter, but 85% pantser. I scribble down a line for each of the inciting incident, the three crisis points, the ‘dark moment’, the climax and resolution, as a skeleton, then dive in.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Persist and don’t skimp on quality. Hone and polish your work until you are completely sick of it. If publishing independently, collect a series of beta readers around you and/or a critique partner, get a professionally designed cover and ALWAYS have your work edited.

What are your future plans as an author?
Currently, I’m writing a sequel to Double Identity, but I’ve also started on a new Roma Nova novel. But given the initial favourable comments by readers to Double Identity, I think the sequel to it will come first!

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Of course! Here’s the very start…

Mel shivered. A cold breeze drifted over her bare backside. Dieu, the window must be open. Stupid in late November in London. But windows had been the last things on Mel’s mind last night.
Still drugged with sleep, she stretched out her hand towards Gérard’s face. His eyes were closed, the lashes resting on his pale cheeks. Too much time indoors, Mel thought and smiled. In his early morning relaxed state, Gérard looked more like a boy of seventeen than a man of thirty-seven.
Her eyelids were so heavy. She closed them. After a few seconds, she realised she wasn’t tired, just thick-headed. Opening her eyes again, she blinked hard then tugged on the duvet to cover them both against the too fresh air, but it was trapped under Gérard’s body. Never mind, she could think of a much more pleasurable way to warm up than hiding under the bedclothes. She stroked his skin with the tips of her fingers sliding over the fine brown hairs on his shoulder, then down his chest and over his stomach towards…
He didn’t stir.
He was cold. Stone cold.
No.
Then the smell hit her.
She sat up. The world spun around her. She shot her hand out onto the mattress to steady herself, then knelt beside him. Not wanting to, but knowing she had to, she stretched out her hand, two fingers close together, for the side of his throat. Nothing. She pressed harder, desperate for a sign. But he was too still and too pale. And the blue lips…
Dieu, no. Not her Gérard. Not clever, witty, vibrant Gérard. He couldn’t be gone. But she’d confirmed enough dead bodies during her military life, the last only three weeks ago in a blazing desert wadi in Africa. She sat back, shivered and pressed the palms of her hands into her eye sockets. The sourness ran up her gullet. Clamping her hand over her mouth, she stumbled to the bathroom and threw up in the pan.

***

Ambulance. She must call an ambulance.

***

She sat on the toilet seat and gulped down water from the plastic tooth mug. In the bedroom, the green-uniformed man and woman were examining Gérard. Through the gap of the almost closed door, Mel could hear them mumbling to each other. After a few minutes, they stopped talking. They were making a call, giving the hotel name.
The woman came into the bathroom. Her calm face didn’t seem as sympathetic as it had been earlier.
‘What is it?’ Mel asked.
‘We’ve had to call the police. We’ve found something and there are marks on the deceased’s body.’
‘What? Let me see!’ Mel said and leapt up.
The woman held out her plastic-gloved hand.
‘No, stay here, and don’t wash. The police will want to talk to you.’

***

‘What sort of a name is Mellysand?’
She clutched the bathrobe tighter and braced her legs to steady her balance. This was surreal. Gérard was dead and they suspected her. Why? How was she supposed to have done it? She shook her head which seemed full of mush thumping to escape.
‘It’s pronounced “Mél-i-send-uh”,’ she said. ‘And it’s the name I was given by my parents.’
‘Not very English, is it?’
Le bon Dieu save me from these parochial Brits, she thought. And this cop was even worse than most. He didn’t look like one either in his jeans, tan leather jacket, unshaven and with a single earring. But his warrant card looked genuine, and the two uniformed police outside had let him in.
‘You got any ID?’ he barked.
Mel pulled a pale turquoise and blue card with her photo and signature out of her purse and offered it to him.
‘French?’ He frowned, flicked it over to the other side, then back. ‘You don’t sound very French.’
‘That’s where I was born. My mother is English.’
‘What are you doing here?’
‘Visiting friends and doing some shopping.’
‘I’ll need a list of those friends and dates.’
‘Why? Am I under suspicion?’
The cop looked down at the bed, duvet pulled back, bottom sheet stained by body fluids.
‘When there’s a dead man in your bed and you were presumably the last person to see him alive, let’s say you’re at least a person of interest.’

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Alison Morton.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : The Two Fathers (Sam Dyke Investigates #11) #TheTwoFathers – Keith Dixon @keithyd6

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

The Two Fathers banner

Today I’m on the ‘The Two Fathers’ blogtour, organized by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Keith Headshot red largerKeith Dixon was born in Yorkshire and grew up in the Midlands. He’s been writing since he was thirteen years old in a number of different genres: thriller, espionage, science fiction, literary. Two-time winner of the Chanticleer Reviews CLUE First in Category award for Private Eye/Noir novel, he’s the author of ten books in the Sam Dyke Investigations series and two other non-crime works, as well as two collections of blog posts on the craft of writing. His new series of Paul Storey Thrillers began in 2016.
When he’s not writing he enjoys reading, learning the guitar, watching movies and binge-inhaling great TV series. He’s currently resident in France.

Social Media:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Email

Synopsis :

TTF 2 vignette final Kindle sizeWhy does Jessica Hastings come home late several times a week?
Her husband asks Private Investigator Sam Dyke this simple question. Dyke doesn’t want the case: he doesn’t do divorce work … but Brian Hastings doesn’t want a divorce, he wants an explanation.
When Sam finds out what Jessica is doing, it opens up more questions. And when Brian Hastings goes missing, they’re questions he feels compelled to answer.
At the centre of the mystery is a man who most people in Manchester don’t know—Larry Stone. But those who do know him, know that far from being the simple florist he seems to be, he’s actually the biggest crook in town. He’s powerful, he’s dangerous, and he’s currently working a deal with a Dutchman who’s even worse.
And Sam is now caught in Stone’s sights as he works to find Brian Hastings, to solve a couple of murders, and to prevent Stone corrupting even more members of his own family than he already has.
Before the biggest deal of Stone’s crooked career goes down.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and digital formats by Semiologic Ltd on 14th November 2020.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’m British but currently living in France, a dream I had from the age of 16. I retired a couple of years ago from practising as a business psychologist, delivering courses on leadership, team work and personal development. I started writing short stories and scripts in my teens, but started taking it seriously in my early 20s, when I wrote 7 unpublishable books. For a long time I focused on work – I was a proofreader, a copywriter, a lecturer in English literature and, eventually, a business psychologist – but eventually came back to writing. I began the Sam Dyke series when I wondered what it would be like to be a private detective of the Philip Marlowe type, but living in the North West of England and not Los Angeles!

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I used our local library a lot and read the ‘Just William’ and ‘Biggles’ books. In my teens I read a lot of science fiction novels and short stories, and then graduated to serious literature, particularly American writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck. These days I read mostly American crime novels and books about American politics, which has always fascinated me.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
One of my favourite writers was Elmore Leonard, who sadly died a couple of years ago. I loved the way his stories followed his characters, and his characters were fascinating and the dialogue was brilliant. I read all his novels again recently and realised how good he was at the relationships between men and women, something I hadn’t really noticed first time around, over twenty years ago. I know he was a pantser, but I’d like to know more about his writing process.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I’d like to have Ishmael from Moby Dick as a guest. I’d ask him what Ahab was really like …

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
The worst habit I have is that I’ve started to write later and later in the day – it’s often past 11.00pm by the time I start. I spend the earlier part of the day correcting the previous day’s work, looking at my plan for the day, and staring at Facebook … I like to complete 1000 words a day, while hoping for more, so if I start at 11.00 it can be 1.00am before I’m finished. Luckily, I don’t have to get up early!

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Ha! Not now … The first Sam Dyke book, Altered Life, was set in a business consultancy that wasn’t a million miles from the one I was working in, but although I kept one or two character traits of friends and colleagues, I changed their physical appearances and their personalities. These days I’m alert to what’s happening in the news. I’ve found that if I pick up on something early on, then by the time I’ve finished writing the book that event or set of circumstances has often grown bigger in the public consciousness. For example, one of my non-Sam Dyke books refers to ‘county lines’, which is a system some drug peddlers use to transmit drugs around the country, using adolescents as couriers. Not long after the book was published this system suddenly attracted a lot of publicity and articles began appearing in the newspapers. I’d been a little bit prescient without realising it!

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I began as a pantser but the first two Sam Dyke novels took 7 and 4 years to write, respectively, and I thought this was crazy. I was spending too much time re-writing before I’d even finished the books. And also, I started reading more about structure and the reader experience, so I began to plot my books more carefully. I’m at the stage now where I plot all the way up to the last couple of chapters, and as the chapters accumulate my plotting gets more and more sparse so that I can allow for unseen developments. This gives me room to find links and changes that I might not have thought of until I actually started writing about the characters.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
These days, I’d say have an outline and, if possible, take that to the chapter level. I say this because it’s easy to have a beginning and even an end, but novice writers can get disheartened after having written a stunning beginning. With a chapter outline you never have to worry about what you’re going to write when you sit down to the next day’s work. Even if you change the plot as you go, you have a spine that can offer support when needed.

What are your future plans as an author?
At the moment I’m producing a series of YouTube videos under the title of Crime Writing Confidential. Each video looks at one work by a crime novelist, focusing particularly on how they produce their effects. Meanwhile, at the back of my head, I have an idea knocking about for a larger scale thriller, but I have to do a lot of research first!

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?

In my line of work it’s not good to hear a knock on your door at eleven o’clock at night. It sends all kinds of images scampering through your imagination and plucking your nerve ends.
But the knuckle-rap was tentative, faintly rhythmic, and suggested an approach by someone who didn’t want to punch my lights out or stick a gun in my stomach.
Both of which I’d experienced at one time or another.
Perhaps, I thought, it was someone selling water purifiers or de-icer sprays and trying a novel sales approach.
Given what was to happen later, perhaps I should have wished harder for either of these options to be true.
Whoever it was knocked again, this time a little louder. I walked from my lounge to the front door and stood a moment. A real private investigator would have had a spy-hole and taken the opportunity to peer through it, or would have strapped on his shoulder holster before drawing back three bolts on the door. I suppose it says something about my professionalism that I did neither.
I turned the knob and pulled the door open.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Keith Dixon.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : Subterfuge (A Tom Stone Detective Story #5) #Subterfuge – Don Simkovich & Lon Casler Bixby @DonSimkovich @LonBixby

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Subterfuge banner

Today I’m on the ‘Subterfuge’ blogtour, organized by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Authors :

Don-SimkovichDon returned to his love for writing fiction after years of writing and narrating a radio spot series, marketing copy, and handling the pressures of a wild and crazy family life.
Frequent calls to the local Sheriff’s office, plus the intensity of handling teen alcoholism and teen pregnancy pressed stories from his mind like Earth’s weighty layers turn shale into harvestable fuel.
Well, you get the picture.
Don has fine-tuned his craft writing romance to crime fiction and the recent Tom Stone detective stories.
He lives at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains with his family, two dogs, and anyone else who happens to drop by and live for a spell.

Twitter
Facebook
Website
Instagram

Lon-Casler-BixbyLon is a published author in various genres: Fiction, Poetry, Humor, Photography, and Comic Books. He is also a professional award-winning photographer whose work has been featured in a wide variety of magazines, art & coffee table books, and has also been displayed in Art Galleries throughout the world.
Lon lives out of his photography studio in Burbank, California where he shares his living space with his wonderful, albeit spoiled, Silver Lab named Silver.

Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Synopsis :

Subterfuge CoverA wounded man, fiberglass wreckage, and mysterious blue barrels wash up on a secluded beach north of Los Angeles in Malibu, California.
Detective Tom Stone jumps into action in this gripping thriller novel and uncovers human trafficking as drug smugglers try a new trick.
The Ojos Negros cartel forms an uneasy alliance with LA mob boss Frank DeVito. Using hidden sea caves as drop-off points, the new syndicate maneuvers to expand their brutal drug empire, and guns down anyone who stands in their way.
Stone and his team trail the lone survivor, Luis Delgado, who longs to return home to Mexico but is trapped in a deadly game of subterfuge. He vows revenge on the evil men who have destroyed his life and countless others with their greed.
The Detectives race to find Delgado and bring down the cartel, before another innocent victim is killed.
Uncover narco-subs plying the seas with page-turning action—and hold on for an explosive ending.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and digital formats by Carved in Stone Media on 6th November 2020.

Q&A with Don Simkovich :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Writing appealed to me since grade school when I watched the news and wanted to be a journalist. During university, I studied both fiction and journalism and went into the radio journalism route. About ten years ago durig an especially traumatic time in my family I began writing fiction. My first interest was romance and I was published through a small press where I worked with skilled editors. Then my co-author, Lon Casler Bixby, asked me to turn a screenplay of his into a novel and the Detective Tom Stone series was launched.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory captivated me in second grade. During third grade, I devoured comic books, found the Alfred Hitchcock series for kids and enjoyed adventure stories as I grew up. The World War Two story about Norwegian kids sneaking gold past German soldiers, Snow Treasure, still sticks with me.
In high school and college, the James Herriot books brought me into the world of Yorkshire and now I’ve immersed myself in thriller, detective and mystery. I’ve been reading Raymond Chandler in addition to the current best sellers and a variety of indie authors.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
John Grisham would be great because I’m sure he wouldn’t hold back a critique—but I find him skilled in developing tense scenes using the smallest details like he did in The Firm. Lee Child seems generous with other authors and I’ve admired his use of dry humor mixed with suspense with Jack Reacher.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Detective Jake Sharpe from our Tom Stone series of books would be the most fun to have for tea because he’s so personable and has a good sense of humor even though he’s seen the harshest side of life as a detective in Los Angeles.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I often do a work-out before writing like a run or fast walk. And then I grab a hot cup of coffee. I’m in So Cal, so throughout the year I can write out on my patio if it’s not too hot. I love being outside during the lockdown I’ve used my makeshift desk and folding chair in the park since coffee shops are closed.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
For the Tom Stone series, we’ve focused a lot on cocaine smuggling since that was in Lon’s original screenplay. During our second novel, legal marijuana dispensaries were booming around Los Angeles and we brought that into the storyline. We figured Stone would be suspicious as to why the suspect from Book 1 was now building a legal pot empire—could it be a front for something else?

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Mostly a pantser in Books 1, 2 and 3 but we began outlining more of the plot points in Books 4 and 5. It got too complicated and we needed to see where the story was heading. We’re going to write Book 6 soon and are laying out some direction ahead of time. We don’t feel glued to an outline, but I’m using one more and more.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Read in the genre that’s of interest to you. Read through the bestsellers but also find lesser known authors you enjoy. They could be good crossmarketing partners in the future but you’ll learn from them, too.
If you’ve never written anything before then go ahead and write short stories or novellas in the 10K word to 25K range. That way you can develop characters and a storyline as you build your skills.
Use all the free resources available—and there are plenty—from Reedsy, to Self-Publishing School and many more.
Commit to writing on a regular basis, even if it’s only a few hundred words a day.
Plan a series of about 5 books to write. We could’t foresee this, and make each book standalone.
See, it’s easy! 😊

What are your futureplans as an author?
We’re starting Book 6 in the Tom Stone series—I can see 7 books in the current series. We’ve talked about writing a cozy mystery series using an older couple who are minor characters now.
I have some memoir ideas, too, that I may want to develop since my family was formed through adoption out of foster care. Friends have asked about that but it’s been so personal that it’s difficult to write.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?

Stone settled near the head of the bed. He and Jake knew nothing about the man lying in it except for his name. Luis Delgado. They had to take his word since he had no identification. No money. Nothing. He had slept for hours after arriving at the room and hadn’t given an official account to anyone. Doctors sutured a gash along his ribs, made sure he was hydrated, and kept him stable.
The vulnerability of his situation touched Stone who was tempted to brand him as a drug runner since the contents of the containers tested positive—cocaine. But he wanted to let the man speak for himself to help bring all the pieces of the puzzle together.
“Mr. Delgado,” Stone began, “I’m Detective Tom Stone and I work with the Los Angeles Police Department. Looks like you had some trouble in the ocean. Can you tell me what happened?”
The translator relayed the message as Luis Delgado listened and then looked at Stone and nodded. His face showed worry.
“We’d like your help,” said Stone.
Delgado mumbled in Spanish, still very weak.
The interpreter relayed the question. “He wants to know where his son is.”
Stone shook his head. “His son? No, we don’t know anything. That’s why we’re here.”
Delgado understood Stone’s body language and sunk further into his bed. He mumbled again.
The interpreter told Stone and Jake, “He says he is nothing. Nobody.”
Jake addressed the man softly. “What do you mean that you’re nobody?”
Delgado looked at the ceiling and spoke in Spanish. “I’m cursed.”
Stone kept prodding for answers. “Were you on a boat? Was there an accident?”
“I didn’t want to be on it,” came the reply.
“Then why were you?”
The interpreter listened and told Stone the man’s response. “He says he didn’t have any choice. A gun was pointed in his face and he was forced to go. They said he would be paid well.”
Delgado muttered.
“He says they were lying about paying him.”
“Who said you had to go?” Jake perched near the window.
Delgado closed his eyes and took a breath. “I don’t know.” He squinted and put a hand against his head. “They forced me and my son.”
He looked to Stone and Jake with concern. “Do you know where he is?”

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Don Simkovich.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

dpbt 2

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #Excerpt : Forgotten Lives (A DCI Stirling Investigation #2) #Forgotten_Lives #ADCIStirlingInvestigation – Ray Britain @ray_britain

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Forgotten Lives banner V2

Today I’m on the ‘Forgotten Lives’ blogtour, organized by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Ray Britain - Damp Pebbles Tour copyRay Britain’s second novel ‘Forgotten Lives’ follows closely on from ‘The Last Thread’ (2017) with a new investigation for DCI Doug Stirling, the toughest of his career.
As a police Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led specialist investigations. He was also a Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator – a voluntary role – responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily. His roles took him to the USA, India, Europe, Australia and elsewhere, receiving Commendations in recognition for his work.
Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader at the heart of a complex, fast moving investigation with all of its uncertainties, stresses and frustrations, and of the dark, bitter sadness’s of people’s lives.
Ray also worked with the Serious Fraud Office and the Home Office, London, and with the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate.
When not writing, Ray might be found mountain hiking, following rugby, skiing, reading, sailing, or generally keeping fit.

Social Media:
Twitter
Facebook
Website
Instagram

Synopsis :

dfw-rb-fl-cover-ebookA man is murdered with quiet efficiency on his doorstep. A strange emblem left behind suggests a gang killing but when more bodies are found with the same emblem, and one of them a cop, DCI Doug Stirling’s investigation takes a sinister turn.
But what linked the victims in life, and now in death?
When more deaths are uncovered, miles away and years apart, but all with the same emblem left behind, pressure mounts on Stirling. Is it the work of the same person? If so, why are they killing again, and why here? One thing is clear. The killer is highly skilled, ruthless, and always one step ahead of the investigation. Is someone feeding information to them?
Working in a crippling heatwave with too few investigators, too many questions and not enough answers, when wild media speculation of a vigilante at work sparks copycat attacks, demonstrations for justice and with politicians fearing riots, Stirling needs a result – fast!
Meanwhile, Stirling’s private life is falling apart, not helped when Lena Novak of the National Crime Agency is assigned to his team. But is she all that she seems? Things could not get worse. Stirling takes a call from a retired cop. Things just got worse!
As Stirling closes in on the killer he finds the killer’s trademark inside his home – he is being targeted.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and digital format on 10th January 2021.

Excerpt :

Stirling & Doyle at a crime scene

As he followed Doyle and Hardy upstairs, Stirling was struck by a quiet hush throughout the building broken only by occasional radio transmissions rising from the hallway below that receded as they climbed; thin carpeting muffled plastic over-shoes, every step marked by the rhythmic brushing of legs enclosed in forensic coveralls. Behind him, the second SOCO carried a video and cameras. No one spoke.
From the first floor landing a narrower staircase led up to a smaller landing with a single door. Stirling thought it might have been servant’s quarters in the first iteration of the building’s story. At the door, Hardy turned and gave Stirling and Doyle a critical once-over to be sure they were suitably covered to prevent contamination of the scene before leading the way inside.
Hardy’s description had been accurate. The door opened straight into a small living room where a two-seater settee and a beaten armchair competed for space with a cheap wooden coffee table positioned in front of an old TV. On the table stood a half-empty mug of coffee, the debris of a Chinese take-away and some junk mail. On the corner nearest the armchair Carson’s pocket notebook lay open, a pen resting along its stapled binding. Under the table the unattached end of a power cable snaked away over dirty carpet into a shadow where it was plugged into a cracked wall socket.
Standing astride two of the aluminium stepping plates strung across the floor to compel direction of travel, Stirling studied the room to know its occupant, concluding that Carson had either not enough money to spend on possessions, or had not cared for home comforts. Or both. A general untidiness and need of a good clean looked and smelt of a man living alone. Lying directly under the roof, the room was still warm from the previous day. Strained through a grimy roof light, a squared bar of sunlight anchored to the floor was filled with dust that eddied and swirled under the impulse of their movements.
Other than for their breathing, the room was still and oppressively warm, heightening the stink of death stealing insidiously across the room from a half-open pinewood door. Noticing Hardy’s eyes above her mask watching him, waiting for his cue, Stirling gave her a nod to continue. Hardy pointed at the half-open door.
‘He’s in there but it’s a bit tight with the bed as well, so be careful where you step. The window’s shut in there too, so it doesn’t smell good.’
Stirling followed Hardy across the plates into the bedroom and edged his way sideways between the wall and a double bed which occupied most of the available space until he could turn to get a clear look at the back of the door. Doyle edged in to stand beside him. When she turned to look at the body, the thin mask sucked inwards as she gasped.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : Cooking for Cannibals #CookingForCannibals – Rich Leder @richleder @LaughRiotPress

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Cooking for cannibals banner

Today I’m on the ‘Cooking for Cannibals’ blogtour, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

RL B&W Light hat leaning against churchRich Leder has been a working writer for more than three decades. His credits include 19 produced movies—television films for CBS, Lifetime, and Hallmark and feature films for Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Tri-Star Pictures, Longridge Productions, and Left Bank Films—and six novels for Laugh Riot Press.
He’s been the lead singer in a Detroit rock band, a restaurateur, a Little League coach, an indie film director, a literacy tutor, a magazine editor, a screenwriting coach, a wedding guru, a PTA board member, a commercial real estate agent, and a visiting artist for the UNCW Film Studies Department, among other things, all of which, it turns out, was grist for the mill.
He resides on the North Carolina coast with his awesome wife, Lulu, and is sustained by the visits home of their three fabulous children.

Social Media:
Twitter 
Facebook
Website 
Instagram

Synopsis :

largeFountain of youth? More like murderous medication!
Carrie Kromer pushes the boundaries of science, not her social life. The brilliant behavioral gerontologist’s idea of a good time is hanging out with her beloved lab rats and taking care of her elderly mother and the other eccentric old folks at the nursing home. So no one is more surprised than Carrie when she steals the lab’s top-secret, experimental medicine for aging in reverse.
Two-time ex-con Johnny Fairfax dreams of culinary greatness. But when his corrupt parole officer tries to drag him from the nursing home kitchen, the suddenly young-again residents spring to his defence and murder the guy—and then request Johnny cook them an evidence devouring dinner to satisfy their insatiable side-effect appetite.
As their unexpected mutual attraction gets hot, Carrie and Johnny find themselves caught up with the authorities who arrive to investigate the killing. But even more dangerous than the man-eating not-so-senior citizens could be the arrival of death-dealing pharmaceutical hitmen.
Can Carrie and Johnny find true love in all this bloody madness?

Cooking for Cannibals is a dark comic thriller with a heaping helping of romance. If you like fast-paced plots, unconventional characters, and humor that crosses the line, then you’ll have a feast with Rich Leder’s wild ride.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Publishing Information:
Published by Laugh Riot Press on 14th January 2021.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Totally my pleasure. Delighted to be here!

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Here’s what my bio says:
“Rich Leder has been a working writer for more than three decades. His credits include 19 produced movies—television films for CBS, Lifetime, and Hallmark and feature films for Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Tri-Star Pictures, Longridge Productions, and Left Bank Films—and six novels for Laugh Riot Press.
He’s been the lead singer in a Detroit rock band, a restaurateur, a Little League coach, an indie film director, a literacy tutor, a magazine editor, a screenwriting coach, a wedding guru, a PTA board member, a commercial real estate agent, and a visiting artist for the UNCW Film Studies Department, among other things, all of which, it turns out, was grist for the mill.
He resides on the North Carolina coast with his awesome wife, Lulu, and is sustained by the visits home of their three fabulous children.”
I think that’s a pretty accurate picture of me. Anyone interested in hearing more about my somewhat unorthodox life choices can reach me at rich@richleder.com. I’ll email back. Always. Really.
As far as become a writer, I believe I’ve always been one. When I was boy playing in dirt with plastic soldiers and Tonka Toy tanks, my army men had backstories. Friends at home. Dogs. Hobbies. Favorite foods. They’d read each other letters from their wives and girlfriends. Who does that when they’re six years old? Writers, that’s who. I wrote skits and directed neighborhood kids in them for other neighborhood kids and their parents. We performed in the garage. The garage door was the curtain. I wrote a play in high school. But when I went to college, where it dawned on me that people were writing the movies I was watching…that was that. I was going to live my life as a writer.
So I spent a full decade in New York City, working in restaurants, studying screenwriting at The New School, and playing in rock bands. Then we moved to Los Angeles, where I got lucky and worked as a screenwriter for close to 15 years. That fabulous time was followed by 20 years in North Carolina writing movies and novels. A reasonable run, overall.
So, I don’t know when I actually became an author. Somewhere in there. But, like I said, I think I was born that way.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a boy, I read all the Hardy Boy books and most every book ever written about sports. As a grown-up, I read plenty of Donald E. Westlake, John D. MacDonald, Janet Evanovich, Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen, Chuck Palahniuk, Tim Dorsey, and Christopher Moore because they’re incredible writers and I work in their general neighborhood. But I also read lots of Richard Ford, John Irving, Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Tim O’Brien and many others because they’re wonderful writers and storytellers. When my kids were little, I read every Harry Potter book out loud with a dozen different character voices. And I love Dr. Seuss. Who doesn’t?

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Pretty much everyone on that list above because they tell the best stories I’ve ever heard—almost as good as my Dad’s stories.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Just so hard to narrow it down to one. Okay, okay, I’ll do it. I would like to have a formal Chinese tea with Fu Chen from my Kate McCall Crime Caper series. I’ve been writing him for 10 year and know him quite well, but he still, to this day, surprises me. And there’s still so much mystery about him. I don’t think he’s told me the truth about everything. I have so many questions for him.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I wish I did. I think it would be cool to say I had writing rituals. But I don’t. I sit down and try to write sentences I love and then string those sentences together to tell stories that grab me and don’t let go.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Ha! My wife, the awesome Lulu, read Cooking for Cannibals, walked down the hall to my office, and said, “Who are you?” So, maybe not worried, but aware that strange shit is always in running like a movie in my mind. Why? Where does it come from? I don’t know. Tiny little droplets of ideas germinating in my head for years suddenly appear before my eyes, and announce that they are ready to become a fun and funny ride.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Plotter. I must have a map to give me the courage and confidence to begin the journey. Though I surrender to the irrefutable fact that journeys are living things, predisposed to change without warning, on a whim. To which I say, no problem, let’s rework the map a bit.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Read everything and never stop reading. Write what you love with all that you’ve got. Those are two good ones. But the one I live by is: Write Anyway. No matter what you’re hearing in your head, write anyway. I’ve been telling myself that for 33 years. 50-plus screenplays and seven novels later I can say without hesitation it works for me. Write anyway.

What are your futureplans as an author?
I’m three quarters of the way through Gottiguard, the fourth and final Kate McCall Crime Caper, a hilarious murder mystery series set in New York City. Kate is a way-off Broadway musical actor who inherits her father’s PI business after he’s found brutally murdered in an insurance company elevator. In each book, she solves her new case while she tracks her father’s killer. She uses the eccentrics in the brownstone she lives in and manages and the melodramatic members of her histrionic acting troupe to help her with her cases—like a crazy kind of Mission Impossible. They’re funny books, yes, but they’re also rocking good mysteries. You won’t know whodunnit until the very end.
After that, I have four standalones waiting in the wings wondering what in the world the delay is, why aren’t I writing them yet. I do so love dark comic thrillers, so I’ve got three of those. And one magical romantic comedy.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Sure. Here’s a teaser from the scene where the fixer is trying to break the alibi chain of Carrie Kromer, the book’s leading lady. Cab driver Joe Cabot is part of Carrie’s chain:

The Prius arrived. Eduardo slid into the backseat and pointed his untraceable Glock 19 semi-automatic handgun at Joe Cabot’s head.
“Thank you, Jesus,” Joe said without a trace of irony. “Perfect timing. Just what I needed. Nobody in this godforsaken city needed this more than me. What do you want? Money? Sex? Nuclear codes? The inside dope on some inside dope? I write movies, mister, and you are a gift from the Hollywood gods. I’m Joe Cabot. Who are you? No, wait, don’t tell me yet. Let it build. Dramatic tension’s a good thing.”
He was forty-eight years old and had been knocking on Hollywood’s door with a stack of spec scripts for twenty-five years without so much as a sniff of the action—not one agent willing to hip-pocket him, not one producer angling for a free option, not one down-on-his-luck director offering to buy him a cup of coffee. He’d been a lost LA soul for more than a decade. A cab driver who told himself he was still a screenwriter. A screenwriter who’d surrendered to living the low-level life of a sad-sack cab driver. He’d been drowning for years in the Hollywood riptide and now the gods had thrown him a screenwriting rope.
Eduardo leaned forward, noticed a dozen or so word game magazines haphazardly tossed onto the front passenger seat, and leveled the Glock at Cabot’s face. “Drive, Joe. Drive like your life depends on it.”
“Love it.” Joe pulled the Prius into traffic and followed Eduardo’s directions to a secluded-restricted entrance of the concrete-channelized Los Angeles River. The gate was locked with a heavy chain.
“Get out of the car and push it open,” Eduardo said. “It’s dummy locked. If you run, I will shoot you in both legs and drag you into the river myself.”
“I’m not going to run. I wouldn’t miss this for all the money in the mint,” Joe said.
The cabbie got out of the Prius and did as instructed, re-dummy locking the gate behind them. He got back in the car and found Eduardo’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “Awesome. They shot Grease here. Chinatown. Terminator. Point Blank. Buckaroo Banzai. Now what?”
Eduardo did not sense fear. He did not sense insanity. He sensed some kind of irregular relief, as if this were the end of a dark day rather than the beginning of one. Or some odd sort of eagerness, some bizarre form of enthusiasm, like the threat of violence—being shot in the legs as he ran for his life, for instance—was reason to rejoice. He even sensed some off-the-wall variety of impatience. Impatience! In all the years he’d been fixing insufferable situations around the world, he had never experienced a problem so excited to be solved.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Rich Leder.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogBlitz #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : All Down the Line #AllDownTheLine – Andrew Field #AndrewField @BoomslangBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

All Down the Line banner

Today I’m on the ‘All Down the Line’ blogtour, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Andrew Field All Down The LineAndrew Field has spent most of his working life as a PR consultant raising the profiles of others. Now the roles are reversed as he steps into the spotlight with All Down The Line (published in 2020).
He handled Boddingtons Bitter during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday, developing innovative sports and cultural partnerships with TV and media platforms. Clients have also included a convicted armed bank robber and another who did eighteen months prison time for blackmail, although he didn’t know about their colourful backstories at the time. “I’d quizzed them more about their experiences. After all, hard-boiled grimness all adds to the mix, even if it is anecdotal.”
“Authors are by definition are relatively introverted. They work in isolation and inhabit imaginary world of their own creation. They can spend years staring at a computer screen bringing their characters to life. Then they have to become a different person to promote their work and market themselves.”
“Fiction is a great way to write about how you feel personally about this great thing we do called living. We disguise it by calling it crime fiction, but behind the genre there is a world view being expressed. In my eyes, the memorable books, films and music, good or bad, are the ones you’re still thinking about 24 or 48 hours after you finished reading, watching or listening.”
What can readers expect from Andrew’s work? “If you’re into noir from the likes of James Lee Burke, James Cain, James Ellroy, Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard, Ted Lewis, Ed McBain and Jim Thompson, you’ll see where I am coming from.”
Andrew lives, works and plays in Northumberland, England, Europe, with his wife Catherine. A novella, Wicked Games was published in 2014. Without Rules in 2018 by Boomslang. All Down The Line will be published in December 2020.

Social Media Links for Boomslang Books:
Website 
Facebook
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Twitter

Synopsis :

ALL DOWN THE LINE COVERMANCHESTER: Cain Bell thought he had closure over the hit and run death of his daughter. Ted Blake had confessed he was the behind the wheel just before he died.
Twenty years on and Cain’s world is thrown upside down when his fiancé claims the driver was lying. Before she says more, a savage attack leaves her in a coma fighting for her life.
To find out why Cain must uncover why four friends swore blind to never tell the truth about his daughter’s death.
Now, he must persuade Manchester’s most terrifying gangster to reveal the secrets that kept hidden for two decades.
And Billy McGinty is in no mood to break his own wall of silence.
Unless Cain can persuade him to talk, even if it means putting his own life on the line.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Publishing Information:
Published by Boomslang Books on 7th December 2020.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I used to write outlines of stories when I was bored at school but always lacked the discipline and focus to turn that into a very high-risk career as a young man. A career in PR and communications — originally editing Removals & Storage magazine and doing PR for the British Association of Removers — seemed a much more sensible move. Now I am a tad older, I have more time to write and publish.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
When I was a kid it was war comics (graphic novel where Tommy thrashed Jerry), westerns by JT Edson (an Englishman who wrote over 130 books) and iconic youth culture masterpieces like Richard Allen’s Skinhead and Suedehead and Ian Hunter’s Diary of a Rock and Roll Star. The latter kept me sane at boarding school. Nowadays, I like great natural story telling, the shorter the better.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Elmore Leonard … I’d love to ask him how he makes his dialogue work … and how long it takes him to make his writing appear so natural. If he tells me it is all first draft, I’ll be devastated! And I’d like to thank him for his 10 Rules of Writing … they are fun and tongue in cheek but I’ve never used ‘suddenly’ to start an action scene … or a prologue!

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
China from Without Rules, if it was a character from my own work, although it would be coffee and smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels and not tea. Moss from No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. I’d like to ask him two things. Why he went back to the scene of the drug massacre to give a dying man water? The man in the car was going to die, no matter what he did. And why didn’t he transfer the money into another bag? Never made sense in the book or the film. But then we aren’t always sensible in real life.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
No music when I am writing first drafts or rewriting entire sections …. Music is allowed when I am editing or fine tuning.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
My ideas come from my imagination but are authenticated in the real world so they are plausible. My characters are always composites as I want to avoid being sued!!

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Initially, I’d go with the flow, but experience says outline, write and edit until it is watertight without any plot potholes for unrealistic characters to fall in …

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Editing and time are the keys to good writing, unless you’re a born natural or can keep a straight face when you say you’re the king or the queen of the quick first draft. And focus on quality and being the best you can.

What are your future plans as an author?
Carry on writing for as long as I enjoy it. My partner Catherine was awarded a doctorate for studying flow, a concept where people report where they are completely involved in something to the point of losing track of time and of being unaware of everything else but the activity itself … The reward is the activity itself rather than fame, fortune and fans stroking your ego!!

Last, but not least: can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Simple. How would you convince Manchester’s nastiest and most ruthless gangster to spill the beans about the death of your daughter and an attack on your fiancée that has left her fighting for her life? And if you did that, what would your revenge look like?

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Andrew Field.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : Mongkok Station (An Inspector Samuel Tay Novel #6) #MongkokStation #InspectorSamuelTay – Jake Needham @JakeNeedham

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Mongkok Station banner V3

Today I’m on the ‘Mongkok Station’ blogtour, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Author photo (full size) copyJake Needham is an American lawyer who became a screen and television writer through a series of coincidences too ridiculous for anyone to believe. When he realized he didn’t really like movies and television all that much, he started writing crime novels.
Mr. Needham has lived in Asia for thirty years and has published twelve novels that have collectively sold more than three-quarters of a million copies. He, his wife, and their two sons now divide their time between homes in Bangkok and Washington DC.

Social Media:
Twitter
Facebook
Website

Synopsis :

Mongkok Station_ebookA city that’s falling apart, a man who’s falling apart, and a girl with a secret past who has disappeared without a trace. What complicates things is that the missing girl is the daughter of one of the most powerful men in America. She just doesn’t know it.
Hong Kong is teetering on the edge of anarchy. Violent street battles are raging between riot police and mobs demanding democracy.
Samuel Tay is a legendary Singapore homicide detective. He’s retired, but it was purely involuntary. It seems his legend made a lot of senior officers uneasy and they wanted him gone. John August is an American who has shadowy connections to the intelligence community. He’s done Tay a lot of favors in the past, and Tay owes him one.
When August asks Tay to come to Hong Kong to track down the missing girl, Tay doesn’t much want to go. August and his friends deal in the fate of nations. Tay deals with personal tragedies, one human being at a time. Even worse, he doesn’t like Hong Kong and, to be completely honest, he’s not all that fond of Americans either.
Regardless, Tay answers August’s call for help. He’s a man who honors his debts, his forced retirement really sucks, and there’s this woman… well, there’s always a woman in there somewhere, isn’t there?
August thinks that the triads may have kidnapped the missing girl. Tay doesn’t have the sources to get inside the Hong Kong triads so August teams him up with Jack Shepherd, an American lawyer living in Hong Kong who just might be the only white guy on the planet the triads trust.
Tay is considerably less than thrilled by that. Here he is in a city that seems only moments away from going up in flames, everybody is certain the missing girl is dead, and now he’s stuck with all these Americans. Can things get any worse than that? Oh yes, they absolutely can.
Tay has developed symptoms that indicate he may be very seriously ill. For everybody, there is always a last time around the track whether they know it when they make the trip or not. As Tay’s symptoms worsen, it begins to dawn on him that this missing girl just might be his own last time around.
If this really is the end for him, Samuel Tay vows he’s going to go out with one hell of a bang.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK (paperback)
Amazon UK (ebook)
Amazon US (paperback)
Amazon US (ebook)

Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and digital formats by Half Penny Ltd on 8th October 2020.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I was a screenwriter before I was a novelist. It was entirely accidental, but I was.
I had practiced law for a couple of decades doing mostly international work, and I found myself involved in a complicated and unpleasant corporate merger that involved companies in half a dozen different countries. To get the deal closed, I ended up buying a piece of the target company myself, mostly because no one else wanted it. It was a very modest little Hollywood production house that was making movies for cable TV in the United States.
Since I was stuck with the company, I did my best to make it profitable and I tried to focus it more tightly on what I thought it could do well. I dashed off an outline of the sort of movie on which I thought the company ought to be focusing its efforts, and a copy of that outline accidentally got sent to one of the cable TV networks the company worked with.
Several weeks later, the development people at the network called up and asked me to write it for them.
‘Write what?’ I asked.
‘The movie you sent us that treatment for,’ they said.
‘That wasn’t a treatment,’ I said, ‘that was a business plan.’
‘That’s okay,’ they said, ‘we want you to write it anyway.’
And that, girls and boys, is how I became a writer.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
Hardly anyone today knows the name Richard Haliburton, but in the 1930’s Haliburton’s adventures were chronicled in a series of books that were best sellers in America. When I was about eight, I found a copy of Haliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels at some relative’s house and I was instantly enthralled.
The book was made up of a series of adventure stories. Haliburton swam the Panama Canal from end to end, slipped into the city of Mecca disguised as a Bedouin, crept into the Taj Mahal in the dead of night, climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza, and dived into the Mayan Well of Death in Mexico. He retraced the expedition of Hernando Cortez to the heart of the Aztec Empire, emulated Ulysses’ adventures in the Mediterranean, duplicated Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps by elephant, and climbed both the Matterhorn and Mt. Fuji.
I learned from that book that I could go anywhere in the world I really wanted to go and do anything I really wanted to do. It was a magical discovery, and it shaped the rest of my life.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I read so widely, particularly in the mystery-thriller genre, that it’s really impossible for me to say that one writer has been more important to me than another. All writers are also readers, and my experience is that we take something away from everything we read. We learn something from every single book: the good, the bad, and even the really ugly. In the end, we become, as writers, very much the accumulation of our experience as readers.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I honestly never know how to answer questions like this without ending up sounding like a complete dolt. Maybe I don’t have much of a fantasy life. Whatever the reason, I have absolutely nothing intelligent or interesting to say here so let me off the hook on this one, huh? Please?

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Not really. I’m pretty dull in the way I work. I go to the office around nine. I work. Around one, I take a half hour or so for a bite of lunch, usually at my desk. I work some more. I knock off about six, go home, and have a glass of single malt and a cigar with my wife while she enjoys a glass or two of white wine. I’m not sure that counts as a ritual, but that’s the truth of it.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I write places from life, but almost never people. Maybe it’s that the people I can make up are much more interesting than the people I know, but the places I know are more interesting than the ones I can make up.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Every single book I’ve written has begun with me saying something like, okay, this time I’m going to start with a proper outline. But I’ve never done it. Not even once. It just seems to be something I’m not capable of doing.
So, I end up beginning every book the same way. I come up with a scene I like and a few characters, and I let the characters lead me from there. There’s an old joke about screenwriters: they’re guys who sit in a corner, talk to themselves, and write down what they say. Yeah. Like that.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Look, I don’t want to be glib here, but there’s only one piece of advice that has any value. Put your butt in a chair and write. When you get tired, read for a while, then go back and write some more.
Stop reading advice-to-writers books, stop taking online courses, and for God’s sake stop prattling to other writers on social media about all the things you’re going to do.
Shut up, sit down, and write.
That’s it.

What are your future plans as an author?
I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing, probably adding a book to my Jack Shepherd series next.
I like what I’m doing. I’m damn lucky to be doing it.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?

It was in the early fall that the riots, or protests if you prefer, began in earnest. It was just a coincidence, but that is the time of Hong Kong’s annual Festival of the Hungry Ghosts which occurs every year during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. It is a part of the year ripe with symbolism and rich with irony.
That is when, so legend has it, the gates of Hell open and the ghosts of everyone’s ancestors are set free to roam the earth. And roam it the ghosts do, seeking food and drink and entertainment, which makes them seem a lot like normal folks who are still alive. People burn joss paper houses, cars, televisions, furniture, servants, and even mistresses to please the ghosts. But most of all they burn spirit money called Hell Bank Notes as a tribute to the wandering ghosts. All of this is in the hope of enticing these homeless souls from the afterlife not to bring bad luck to the living.
Fourteen days after the festival, people float lanterns in containers filled with water and set them outside their houses. The purpose of the lanterns is to light the way for the ghosts to travel to the underworld. When the candle goes out, it means the ghosts have found their way back to the afterlife. No doubt all those candles went out this year just as they had for untold generations before, but many people said this time the ghosts only pretended to leave. This year they stayed.
As fall turned to winter and Hong Kong became a city under siege, it became easier with every day to believe that the ghosts really had done what everyone feared they had done. They had refused to return to the underworld.
Instead, they had brought Hell to the streets of Hong Kong.

– MONGKOK STATION, Inspector Samuel Tay #6

Mongkok Station_3D mockup-just paperback

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Jake Needham.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogBlitz #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : Always Adam #AlwaysAdam – Mark Brumby @brumbymark @AdamGregorReid @ASpencerBeck @BoomslangBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Always Adam banner

Today I’m on the ‘Crime and Justice’ blog blitz, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

mark brumbyA Cambridge economics graduate, Mark Brumby is a vastly experience financial analyst and owner of Langton Capital, an FCA-regulated advisory company specialising in the hospitality and leisure sectors. He is a partner in the Imbiba Partnership, which invests in pub, bar and restaurant start-ups.
Mark wrote Always Adam (originally published as Payback) in 2013. Boomslang is republishing the book in November 2020 as it deserves to reach a wider audience in the current pandemic climate.
“Covid-19 has brought home not just the fragility of human life but the power of vaccines. Very shortly, we hope, a vaccine could physically alter the cell structure of three or four billion people and protect the same number again via herd immunity. But what if a vaccine were misused?”
“In some ways the world has changed but in many ways it remains the same. The ‘facts’ re our existence have not and will not change. But the events of the last few months have brought home the truth that we are only animals and that we are almost as much at risk from novel diseases with high R ratios and significant mortality rates as we have ever been.”
“I tried to take a step back and look at how we got here & what we’re doing. That sounds deep but some 99% of species that have ever existed are extinct, so what makes us so special?”
“Indeed, we’ve very nearly joined the list of ‘used-to-be’ species list on several occasions. Anthropologists believe that the human population at times in our history fell to a total of less than 10,000 individuals worldwide. You could fit them all in a small football ground and it’s more than a 99.99% reduction on the number of people around today.”
“As an author, Covid-19 has moved the goalposts a little. It has made the unbelievable a little more believable. A pandemic, until December of last year was, literally, a fiction.”
Mark Brumby is married with five children and commutes between London and his home in York.

Social Media:
Twitter Adam Gregor Reid 
Twitter A Spencer Beck

Social Media Links for Boomslang Books:
Website
Facebook
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Synopsis :

always adamLondon-based financial journalist Spencer Beck is obsessed with billionaire biotech prodigy, Adam Reid, orphaned in his mid-teens when his parents died in a tragic murder-suicide in New York City. A shadowy informant with MI5 connections promises Beck unfettered access to the mysterious Reid and introduces him to Daniel Flanagan, a retired Big Apple detective who investigated the deaths of Adam’s mother and father. Spencer’s initial scepticism, fed by the suspicions of the former police officer, turns to excitement when Reid reveals the truth about himself and his altruistic ambitions to protect society from a deadly virus with a powerful vaccine he’s developed. But when Beck’s entire world starts to implode, he discovers Reid harbours a vendetta that, left unchecked, threatens not only his survival but that of an entire species.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Publishing Information:
Published by Boomslang Books on 30th November 2020.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Brought up in Hull in the 70s, I qualified as an accountant before going to university, where I read economics.
The university experience widened my horizons somewhat and I then moved down to London and worked for stockbroking firms before taking a job working for a bank in Geneva for a few years around the Millennium.
We, that’s Joanne, my wife and our four boys (we now also have a daughter) came back to the UK in 2002 and, although we based ourselves in York, I co-founded a broking firm in The City before setting up my own business, Langton Capital (www.langtoncapital.co.uk) in 2010.
As a financial analyst, I’ve written for a living for many years, but balance sheets and earnings statements lack a little something when it comes to excitement.
I had always felt that there was more to life – and much more to the written word – than talking about numbers and spreadsheets, and therefore made the time to put a few of my thoughts down on paper.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I grew up in the 70s and was fortunate to have an English teacher whose passion for books was infectious. He had to balance his desire to teach with the wants of a teenaged audience but he managed to move us on from comic books to books such as A Brave New World, 1984, Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird and later Darkness at Noon, The Siege of Krishnapur and many, many others.
He must have been at least partially successful as I’ve not picked up an Incredible Hulk comic since my early teens and don’t currently feel the need to do so.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
There are so many. I’ve always been drawn to well-written but commercial novels and to the authors with something to say behind them.
Mary Shelley and George Orwell come to mind alongside such contemporary authors as Robert Harris, John Irving, John le Carre, Dennis Lehane and Peter Carey.
In defence of the commercial novel I’d say you need to get past page one if you’re going to find out what the author has to say. Dickens (e.g. ‘…it was the best of times, it was the worst of times’) certainly knew that.
There’s no intent there to compare myself with Dickens but hopefully nor does mentioning the word ‘commerciality’ make me a Philistine.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Whilst the bad guys are often more interesting, they may change your life – and not necessarily to your advantage as Emperor Hirohito nearly said in August 1945.
Adam is an alleged murderer with genocidal tendencies. You wouldn’t want to forget to sugar his tea. Spencer, on the other hand, is an everyman. He’s easy to get along with and might even amuse.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Very much so as regards writing as a part of the day job as I write to a deadline. Early mornings are in order as our daily c3,000-word email has to go out by 7.30am. Much of it is formulaic but it nonetheless requires a lot of thought.
When writing for pleasure, less so.
I’m fortunate to have a home office. The Ergonomics are important and creating a structure, a framework for the book is vital but making the time to get down to the job of actually writing is very much a part of the equation. This needs to fit in with life’s other demands, regular trips down to London, company visits etc.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Yes, good point! Hopefully, I have more in common with Spencer than with Adam as my first hand experiences with homicidal maniacs have been thankfully limited.
Hence, the ideas must come from wider reading, observation and the deeper recesses of my mind. And that’s maybe a little worrying!

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
More the former as I like to have a goal, an end point. Setting off on a walk without a destination can be fun but it may be fruitless.
That said, an initial template need only be a few hundred words. At that point, hopefully, the characters move in to keep the plot moving from A to B and, ultimately, to an end point not wholly dissimilar to the one you had intended when you began the process.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Read, read and read again.
Decide what you like, what you think is good, whether the two are the same and whether your opinions gel with those of a wider audience.
And then write. Re-read and re-write.
There are first time geniuses out there. But not many of them. I know it’s common to say follow your dreams. If you want something enough, you will get it but, often, that needs to be tempered by realism.
Life’s not easy and you need to eat. Best not starve to death in a squalid garret. Deal with food before fame. Thereafter, be prepared to work regularly and hard and simply get on with it.
Too harsh?

What are your future plans as an author?
I intend to write a sequel in the New Year. Adam simply has too much to say and do for him to exit the stage at this point. I have two other unrelated books already written and, if time permits, I would also like to overhaul them. But more Adam first.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
History books are written by the winners. And, by simple virtue of the fact that we are here, we are descended from a long line of winners but, from time to time, it’s worth asking yourself ‘just how did the losers feel?’
And, as David Mitchell said to Robert Webb in a comedy sketch when looking down at his SS uniform, it’s worth asking: ‘are we the baddies?’
It’s here at 0 minutes 40 seconds – sketch.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Mark Brumby.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

dpbt 2

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : Crime and Justice #CrimeAndJustice – Martin Bodenham @MartinBodenham @DownAndOutBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

crime and justice banner V3

Today I’m on the ‘Crime and Justice’ blogtour, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Martin Bodenham - AuthorMartin Bodenham is the author of the crime thrillers The Geneva Connection, Once a Killer, and Shakedown. Crime And Justice is his latest novel.
After a thirty-year career in private equity and corporate finance in London, Martin moved to the west coast of Canada, where he writes full-time. He held corporate finance partner positions at both KPMG and Ernst & Young as well as senior roles at several private equity firms before founding his own private equity company in 2001. Much of the tension in his thrillers is based on the greed and fear he witnessed first-hand while working in international finance.

Social Media:
Twitter
LinkedIn
Website
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Synopsis :

Cover for Crime And JusticeWhat if we could no longer trust DNA profiling, the silver bullet of our criminal justice system? For years, we’ve relied on it to solve decades-old crimes, convict the guilty, and liberate the innocent from death row. But what happens to that trust when a crime lab scientist is leaned on to manipulate the evidence or, worse still, lose it altogether?
Ruthless Seattle mayor, Patti Rainsford, announces her candidacy for state governor. She’ll do anything to succeed. When her son is arrested for the rape and assault of a seventeen-year-old girl, Rainsford’s political career is in jeopardy.
Detective Linda Farrell is assigned to investigate. After twelve years working in SPD’s sexual assault unit, her career is drifting, not helped by the single-minded detective’s contempt for police protocol and the pressure of her failing marriage. The high-profile rape case is a rare chance to shine and maybe even get her life back on track. Nothing will stop her seeking justice for the young victim.
With a mountain of personal debt and his wife’s business on a knife-edge, Clark Stanton is facing financial meltdown. Then a stranger offers him a lifeline in return for a favor. As the manager of Seattle’s crime lab, all Clark has to do is make the rape kit evidence against the mayor’s son go away.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Google Books
Waterstones
B&N

Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and digital formats by Down and Out Books on 16th August 2020.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I came late to writing. I’d always wanted to write novels, but the career I entered on leaving college soon became all-consuming, leaving little time for anything else. I was a corporate financier and private equity investor, which involved putting together corporate acquisitions and financings, mainly in London.
It was the greed and fear I saw in the financial markets that inspired my first novel, The Geneva Connection. In it I tell the story of a private equity firm that discovers when it is too late that its largest investor is a front for a brutal Mexican drug cartel. I guess you’d describe it today as Breaking Bad meets Wall Street! I wrote that novel as I wound down from my career in finance. In 2013, my wife and I moved to Canada. Shortly after, I found a New York agent and took up writing full-time. My first three novels were financial crime thrillers. Crime And Justice is my fourth novel and is a new direction for me, in that it is a political corruption/detective story.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
My favourite books as a teenager were the adventure novels by H. Rider Haggard. They were set in another era (late 19th century), mainly in Africa. King Solomon’s Mines and Nada The Lily were the ones I remember most vividly.
Today, my favoured author is John Grisham. I love how he uses the knowledge gained from his first career as a lawyer to inform his legal thrillers. His writing looks easy. Believe me, it is difficult to create that breezy, easy-flowing style.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
It would have to be John Grisham. I’d really like to understand how he achieves a balance between adding sufficient legal content into his stories so as to be authentic and not over-burdening the reader with technical jargon. That was something I found tricky when I wrote my first financial thriller.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s)) would you like to invite for tea and why?
It would have to be Detective Linda Farrell, who heads up the investigation into the rape allegation against the mayor’s son in Crime And Justice. I love her rebellious character, her disdain for arrogance, and her unstinting search for justice. While she makes mistakes and takes decisions that appear reckless at times, her heart is always in the right place. I’d like to ask her what other cases she has on her desk as I’m hoping to make her a serial character for future novels.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Because I used to commute into London for many years, I am an early riser. Most of my writing is done in the mornings, often before 8 a.m. when the phone isn’t ringing and there are few disturbances. When I am writing the first draft of a novel, I set myself a target of 1,000 words a day so I can finish the rough version in three months. I have tried writing with the radio on, but it prevents my thought process. I prefer complete silence or quiet instrumental music in the background. My one rule is that I must have a strong espresso around eleven each morning to keep me going.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Some of my ideas have come from my first career in corporate finance. The corporate takeover world is full of big egos and larger than life people. Some of their characteristics I have “borrowed” for characters in my novels. As for storylines, I like to read news headlines and obituaries, both of which are great sources for plots and character arcs.
When I came up with the idea for Crime And Justice, I had recently seen a documentary on the use of DNA matching and its use in exonerating people in old cases. It made me realise how much we have come to rely on that forensic process, almost without question. I wondered how easy it might be for the results to be manipulated.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I am very much a plotter. Once I have a story idea, my next step is to create a paragraph or two for each of the fifty or so chapters. That becomes the outline of the story. I spend quite a lot of time at this stage, reordering the plot, looking for gaps and thinking of twists. Only when I have a complete outline of thirty pages or so, do I begin to write the novel. That way, I know I have a story that hangs together. Usually, as I write the book, new thoughts come to mind, which I try to weave in for greater depth. The outline has to be an organic thing. It cannot be too rigid. Some of my best plot twists have come from new ideas as I write the book.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Do it for fun, not money. Most writers don’t earn more than minimum wage!
Enjoy the process. Listen to editors. Don’t be precious about your work. None of us has a monopoly on good ideas. Editors can turn a good story into a great one.

What are your futureplans as an author?
I am working on the edits for book five. It doesn’t have a firm title yet, but it is about a woman stalker and is based on Vancouver Island. It’s quite dark and written mainly from the point of view of her male target. My publisher has it scheduled for publication in 2021.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Crime And Justice, although based around a charge of sexual assault, is really about Detective Linda Farrell’s search for truth and justice in the face of political corruption and corrupted evidence. If you like Lynda La Plante’s Jane Tennison, you’ll love Detective Linda Farrell.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Martin Bodenham.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : An Island #AnIsland – Karen Jennings #KarenJennings @HhouseBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

An Island banner

Today I’m on the ‘An Island’ blogtour, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Karen JenningsKaren Jennings is a South African author. She holds Masters degrees in both English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, and a PhD in English Literature from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her debut novel, Finding Soutbek, was shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for African Fiction. In 2014 her short story collection, Away from the Dead, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International short story competition. Her memoir, Travels with my Father, was published in 2016, and in 2018 she released her debut poetry collection, Space Inhabited by Echoes. Karen is currently living in Brazil with her Brazilian husband, and last year completed post-doctoral research at the Federal University of Goiás on the historical relationship between science and literature, with a focus on eusocial insects. In September 2019 her new novel, Upturned Earth, will be published by Holland Park Press. Karen is also affiliated with the mentorship programmes run by Writivism and Short Story Day Africa, both of which promote writing in Africa. Broadly speaking, Karen’s interests lie in colonialism, historically and in the lasting impact that it has had on the continent of Africa and beyond. She is particularly concerned with the quiet lives of the everyday people who have been mostly forgotten by the politicians, big businesses and the rest of the world. In this way, she strives to give the ordinary a voice that can be heard and appreciated.
The idea for An Island came to Karen during an afternoon nap at a writers’ residency she was attending in Denmark in 2015. In her sleep, she saw an old man, fiercely defending his island against interlopers. At the time, there was a vast amount in the news about the Syrian Refugee Crisis, which extended to what became known as Europe’s Refugee Crisis. There was a great global outcry against xenophobic responses and calls for humanitarian aid for Syria’s refugees. At the same time, there was almost nothing about refugees from Africa – not about what drove them to flee their nations, or what their dreadful experiences were, nor about their deaths or their futures. Karen chose to explore the relationship between refugee and landowner, but within an African setting, where xenophobia is as rife as in Europe, though it often manifests itself in different ways despite largely being born of colonialism. By reducing the action of the narrative to two characters, Karen felt that a complex issue could be rendered in simple ways that allowed for a focus on individual experiences.

Social Media:
Amazon Author Page  

Synopsis :

An Island CoverSamuel has lived alone for a long time; one morning he finds the sea has brought someone to offer companionship and to threaten his solitude…
A young refugee washes up unconscious on the beach of a small island inhabited by no one but Samuel, an old lighthouse keeper. Unsettled, Samuel is soon swept up in memories of his former life on the mainland: a life that saw his country suffer under colonisers, then fight for independence, only to fall under the rule of a cruel dictator; and he recalls his own part in its history. In this new man’s presence he begins to consider, as he did in his youth, what is meant by land and to whom it should belong. To what lengths will a person go in order to ensure that what is theirs will not be taken from them?
A novel about guilt and fear, friendship and rejection; about the meaning of home.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Waterstones
Holland House Books 
Foyles
Blackwells

Publishing Information:
Published in hardcover, paperback and digital formats by Holland House Books on 12th November 2020.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I am South African, but about four and a half years ago I moved to Brazil with my Brazilian husband. It has been a pretty challenging experience, to be honest, but on the positive side, I have been able to write more than ever before. I go to my desk every day and write, which is a wonderful thing to be able to do as I have always wanted to “be” a writer. However, I didn’t realise that being a writer would mean spending quite so much time in my pyjamas with unbrushed hair. It is very far from glamorous, that’s for certain.
As with many people, I was always writing little stories and books when I was younger, yet, as the years passed and I entered my 20s, I wrote very little, almost beginning to fear writing and the prospect of failure. Eventually I managed to gather my courage and write a novel, Finding Soutbek, and was fortunate enough to have it shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for African Fiction. Since then I have published a book of short stories (Away from the Dead), a memoir-travelogue (Travels with my Father), a collection of poetry (Space Inhabited by Echoes), an historical mining novel (Upturned Earth), and now my latest novel – An Island.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child I loved the classics, many of which were gifts from my father. Of course, I loved Jane Austen and the Brontë’s, but my two favourites were Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Both are quite dark for a child. On the other hand, I also loved Asterix comics, so it wasn’t all doom and gloom!
As an adult I have been most specifically drawn to works of social realism. I greatly admire many of the works of Emile Zola, John Steinbeck, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, for example. Such works have had a great influence on me and my desire to write about the everyday, or even forgotten, people and the small details of their lives.
Currently I am reading a lot of non-fiction – historical books and natural history. I will be starting a PhD in History next year and I am reading towards that.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Last year I read the autobiography of Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth century writer. I found him fascinating because of his work ethic. He had very strict rules for himself, such as getting up early every morning and writing something like 2000 words before going about his day. He would write 250 words per 15 minutes and made sure to keep a strict log of his progress. Travelling was no excuse for idleness – no matter where he was in the world, he would write, whether it was on a boat or a train, in a carriage, in the jungle, in the desert. He was “merciless”, that’s how he described his attitude to writing. If, for example, he finished writing a book, but he still had ten minutes of allocated writing time or he hadn’t fulfilled his wordcount, he would just pick up a fresh page and start a new book. Parts of this sound so mad to me, while other parts of it make sense, to a certain extent.
Steinbeck, on the other hand, seems to have been quite the opposite. In his diaries that he kept while writing Grapes of Wrath, he records often taking days off to hang out with friends or to enjoy the nice weather. Then he’d frenziedly work to the point of exhaustion for a few days before lounging around again.
I would like to be able to sit with the two of them and have a conversation about writing practice. I imagine it would be quite fascinating, but likely a disaster. I don’t see the two of them getting on very well!

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I suppose this is a rather strange answer: Harold Skimpole from Bleak House by Charles Dickens (though there are very many characters from Dickens that would be just as fascinating). Skimpole is only a minor character. He is a man who has never accepted life as an adult. He remains a child, unable to deal with money or punctuality. He is forever in debt and lives off the kindness of his friends. I read Bleak House for the first and only time when I was 18 or 19 and ever since then have been haunted by the character of Skimpole. In unkind moments I will tell myself that I am just like him and that I am selfish. This same selfishness is what makes me want to meet him. I want to see what he is like in person and whether I really am as bad as all that. Of course, I could also read the novel again and see whether I still feel that there are similarities between the two of us. After all, it has been twenty years! I’d like to think I have improved just a little. (I must say, though, that I have always been very punctual. I cannot stand lateness, which is too bad for me, living in Brazil where people have a very relaxed approach to time).

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I am very old fashioned and still write by hand. I will write a page or two in rough, then write it in neat, then maybe write it out one more time (depending on how much I want to change), then I type it up. I write all of the first draft that way until I have a “complete” manuscript, then I put it aside for a few months. When I come back to it, I will go through draft two in a similar way, but won’t necessarily write out everything by hand again – it all depends on how much rewriting and addition I am doing. Then I set it aside for a few months again, then come back and do draft three, and so on, until I am satisfied with the book.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
It’s hard to say. Ideas just pop into my mind. I suppose I can’t help but be influenced by my experiences and what I read. I’m trying to think of a more substantial way to answer this, but the truth is no more than that pop in my brain. For example, I was at a writing residency in Denmark finishing my previous novel and went to have a nap. During my nap the idea for An Island popped into my mind and that was that. I also do a fair amount of research towards a book once I have had the initial idea, so that helps too.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
With my first novel I didn’t do any planning. I knew how it would start and I knew how it would end, but I didn’t know much else. I can’t say that I really enjoyed writing that way. In fact, it was pretty awful. Now I try to be more organised, but not rigidly so. I do some planning, and a fair amount of research as I have said, but I give myself enough room to be able to still be creative and play around. Planning doesn’t always work anyway. Last year I finally completed a manuscript that took me much longer than it ought to have done. I had planned it quite well before starting on it, but by draft three I still felt that it wasn’t working at all. In the end I took the whole thing apart and fixed it by following my instincts rather than any kind of list or mind-map. I am happy with the end result, or at least I was when I last read it in September. Let’s see how I feel when I look at it again. I always end up hating everything I have written.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
I am sure that I am not going to win any prizes for originality with this one, but my two biggest bits of advice are:
A) Write, even if you think you’re writing rubbish. You can’t improve it unless you have it written down.
B) Edit, edit, edit. Write each sentence, each paragraph, each story, each manuscript many times until it is as close to perfect as you can get it. So many people think that writing one draft is enough. No, absolutely not. You have to rewrite countless times. And I am not talking about just doing a spell-check and changing a word or a comma here and there. You need to look at each and every word and sentence, asking yourself, “Is that the best way to say this?” and “What is this contributing?”

What are your future plans as an author?
I have a completed manuscript that I hope to get published, but the global pandemic has caused a backlog in terms of publishing. Everything is a mess! I will have to wait and see how things pan out. I have another manuscript that is about ¼ done. I need to finish that. But for the immediate future my focus will be on my PhD in History. Hopefully my thesis will be interesting enough to publish!

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
A young refugee washes up unconscious on the beach of a small African island that is inhabited by no one but an old lighthouse keeper. Unsettled by the presence of another person, the keeper is swept up in a series of memories relating to his former life on the mainland, a life that saw his country suffer under colonisers, then take up the fight for independence, only to end up falling under the rule of a cruel dictator. In the man’s presence, he begins to consider, as he did in his youth, what is meant by land and to whom it should belong. To what lengths will a person go in order to ensure that what is theirs will not be taken from them?

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Karen Jennings.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!