Q&A with author of: A New Map Of Love, Abi Oliver

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A New Map Of Love by Abi Oliver

Synopsis:

How can you pack for the journey of a lifetime?

George Baxter has settled for a comfortable life, content as the years unfold predictably – until Win, his wife of twenty-six years, dies.

With his loyal dog Monty by his side, George throws himself into his work as an antiques dealer. His business is at the heart of the village and all sorts pass through the doors, each person in search of their own little piece of history.

When George meets local widow Sylvia Newsome, he imagines a different kind of future. But life has more revelations to offer him. Over the course of an English summer George uncovers some unexpected mysteries from his past, which could shape his tomorrows . . .

Q&A:

Q) Your novel A New Map of Love is set in 1964. What was the inspiration behind the era and setting?

A) I have written a large number of stories set in times before I was born and I wanted to write about a time that I could – at least dimly – remember. I was three in 1964! But here are a number of things about that year which made it a good setting for the kind of book I wanted to create. The summer of 1964 was a long, hot one and I wanted to write one of those novels which captures the loveliness of the English summertime – something which is of course real, but which is also a kind of fantasy archetype that most of us hold in our minds in relation to our landscape.

1964 was also the year when the Beatles were really beginning to emerge, after sex had been discovered (according to Philip Larkin) – and later in the year the government changed. Big changes were looming which only reached rural places like distant echoes to begin with – but reach them they did, gradually.

Q) Your character George Baxter is a country antique dealer. Is George based on anyone from real life?

A) My father was a country antique dealer. Now I look back on it, it was a great life at that time. All jobs have their stresses of course, but it involved him knowing a huge amount about all sorts of things. My father had huge knowledge and experience. It also involved driving about the countryside going to visit other dealers – extended lunches in the pub, that sort of thing! And we had a workshop out at the back where the men restored furniture and sometimes made up extra things that people needed like bookshelves. There was always a sense of business and the smell of sawdust coming across to the house. Not to mention all the characters – there was a staff of about seven – and that was before you get on to the customers.

I have actually spent many years writing about Birmingham (as Annie Murray) and this part of my life was put very much on a back burner. But the idea of writing about it has been waiting in my mind for some time.

The reason I finally began was that I studied for an MA in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University. The book that is now A New Map of Love was my main project for the degree.

Q) Your novel begins with your protagonist running off “from his wife’s funeral do like a bolter fleeing a wedding.” Despite his actions, you have crafted a very sympathetic character. Tell us about how you developed the character of George Oswald Baxter?

A) George was one of those characters who seemed to arrive almost fully formed. I think because he is the sort of Englishman of a certain type and generation with whom I am pretty familiar, I could work out his reaction to things quite easily. I quickly grew very fond of him and realized that despite being an intelligent and sensitive man, in his loneliness he might not always see straight or have the best judgement. His character developed gradually as the story also developed and then further in the editing process.

Q) Can you talk us through the route from idea to publication? could you also tell us a little bit about your writing process?

A) I wrote A New Map of Love over about two years in first draft, though I had to do quite a bit of re-writing. Process wise, I think ideally having a good while to think about a story before you get too far into the writing is very helpful. For example, the novel I am working on now is one which I have been thinking about for several years. I wrote A New Map of Love in longhand, which I prefer. Every, let’s say 5000 words I would type it on to the computer, which is the first stage of re-writing, but I find a great sense of freedom in writing by hand. As I had planned to set the book over one hot summer, the simplest thing seemed to be to structure it month by month. I like to have an over-all structure in my head though, and the classic three part arrangement – even if the novel is not in three parts – is very useful as a benchmark of the rhythm and shape of it.

Characters also present themselves and have to be gradually built upon – such a Eleanora Byngh (with an h). I find I gradually see into them and what is driving them by writing about them.

It’s always vital to remember, as another writer once said to me, ‘the first draft is not the last.’

Q) You say you have written under another name. Can you tell us about your writing background?

A) I’ve always written, – maybe something to do with growing up as an only child. We also travelled quite a lot, so I had hours of time to fill on journeys. I suppose I’ve always been writing something. In the end I did do a degree in literature. For much of the time since then, I have belonged to writers groups. I was a member of Birmingham’s Tindal Street Fiction Group and lately, have set up two more workshops with another writer, Oxford Narrative Group and Leather Lane Writers in London. The collective sharing, insights and support of writer’s workshops has been very important.

In 1991 I won a short story competition run by SHE Magazine and also This Morning with Richard and Judy. Through this I joined the wonderful Darley Anderson Agency which has represented me ever since. Darley sold my first novel – what in the trade would be called a ‘regional saga’ set in Birmingham, and it was published in 1995. Since then I have published 21 novels – as I write, the 21st, The Doorstep Child is at number 6 in the paperback chart!

During those years though, we moved as a family, away from Birmingham, which still has a lot of my affection and fascination as a place, back to the Thames Valley, where I come from originally. The place has worked its magic on me and I’ve found I wanted to write about that too. So I have a sort of town mouse identity – Annie Murray. Abi Oliver is more of a country mouse. And I love all of it.

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Author’s Links:
Web Site:http://www.abioliver.co.uk/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16500831.Abi_Oliver
Twitter: @AbiWriterOliver

*Huge thanks to the author for being part of a Q&A on my blog. Review to follow soon!

New release review: Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles – 5*

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Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles

The synopsis:

A father on trial for murder. A son whose world is falling apart.

Former prosecutor Penn Cage sees his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone and his father, Dr Tom Cage, once a pillar of the community, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover.

For decades Tom Cage has had a second son known to almost no one. It is this bitter son who set in motion the murder case against Dr Cage. But a murder charge may be the least of Tom’s worries.

The Double Eagle group, a savage splinter cell of the KKK, will stop at nothing to ensure that Tom either takes the fall for their past deeds, or takes his secrets to an early grave.

Unable to trust anyone – not even his own mother – Penn battles to discover the secret history of both the Cage family and the South itself, risking the only thing he has left to gamble: his life.

My review:

So the wait is finally over, for the 3rd instalment in the Penn cage trilogy. I discovered Natchez Burning (#1) back in 2014, it was my book of the year! I then went on to devour The Bone Tree (#2) at the same fast pace. I can’t recommend this trilogy or series, highly enough! It is absolutely first rate in terms of depth, complexity and emotions. Greg Iles doesn’t tell you what to think, he just delivers the facts! You will feel, what you will feel!

The novel opens 9 weeks after the events of The Bone Tree. Those familiar with the trilogy, will know there were some catastrophic developments within the novel, yet we were still left waiting for answers! There are some characters from within the series and some new ones on the journey too. Keisha Harvin was one of my particular favourites in this novel. Keisha is sassy, no nonsense and a veteran of war.

Ultimately the novel centres around the court case where Dr Tom Cage, local physician and hero is on trial for the murder of his former nurse Viola Turner. His son and local Major Penn cage, must navigate the many discoveries and emotions thrown into this case. This case is exceptionally complex, not only due to its themes of race. But the added scheming of the Double Eagles (a spin off from the KKK) an extremely violent and racist group, hell bent on covering up their past crimes. Which lead to the pasts of both Dr Cage and Nurse Viola. It features the corrupt cops/judges, meth trade, blackmail and bribes rife in the deep south’s past and present.

One particular moving scene is between Lincoln Turner (love child of Dr Cage and Viola Turner) and Penn. Where the story line touches upon the different lives they lead due to race, opportunity and secrets their lives hold. I found this incredibly moving and a very accurate contrast between the two characters. Brothers by blood but an entirely different raising. Obviously the novel has a theme of racism, but it’s not just a plot focused on solely racism. It explores race in many forms such as politics, justice, interracial relationships, framing of black men for crimes, fear in the black community, the collaboration between police & KKK, secrecy and sadly that, that it is just the way that it is/was. I did ponder that the excuse, it was another time/era, is an all too familiar approach to historical racism. But as the novel points out “Times change, but not at the same speed, everywhere”.

I was surprised not to see the quote sins of the father……….
Due to the complex father/son relationships portrayed. However, it was more focused around, the racism of the past equates to consequences for the future and “Mississippi Blood, beat but not broke” powerful words indeed. This is possibly one of the most brutally honest novels, you will ever read. Just when you think you have a handle on the plot, it will shift and become much more complex. Highly recommend 5*

#1 Natchez Burning
#2 The Bone Tree
#3 Mississippi Blood
Penn cage trilogy within the series.

Authors Links:
http://www.gregiles.com/
Twitter: @GregIles

Cover Reveal & Giveaway for, The Art Of Fear by Pamela Crane.

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Super excited to do my blogs first ever cover reveal!
Extra excited, as this book sounds, oh so very dark and oh so very awesome!

Check out this deliciously dark Synopsis:

A dead father, a sex-trafficked daughter, and a cunning killer hiding deadly talents in apparent suicide.

From award-winning author Pamela Crane comes a terrifying tale of small-town secrets and murder.

Ari Wilburn’s life ended long ago—the day she let her little sister die in a tragic accident. Crippled with self-blame and resented by her parents, Ari stumbles through life…and into an unlikely clue that casts doubt on whether the death was accidental.

A psychological wreck, Ari joins a suicide support group where she meets Tina, a sex-enslaved escapee who suspects foul play in her father’s death. In a pursuit of justice, Tina drags Ari into playing a dangerous game with the killer.

Faced with a murderous wake-up call, and desperate to salve her conscience, Ari’s investigation fuels the killer’s desire to see her dead.

Will Ari find closure and stop a killer, or make those she loves suffer?

If that isn’t enough to draw your interest, check out this incredible cover:

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Now, if that isn’t screaming “buy me now” it’s just about to get even better!!!!

The author is kindly running a giveaway, which comprises of 3 individual & international prizes, they are:

1st Prize – An Ebook copy of The Art Of Fear and a Amazon gift card for the value of £5.00 (or international equivalent)
2nd Prize – An Ebook copy of The Art Of Fear
3rd Prize – An Ebook copy of The Art of Fear.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is email: Noelle.thickasthievespromo@gmail.com
Quote my blog, the book itself and #Giveaway as subject. Noelle will then pick three winners at random and I shall announce them via my blog page! 🙂
Good Luck!

Here is some interesting information about the lovely author, herself:

Pamela Crane is a professional juggler. Not the type of juggler who can toss flaming torches in the air, but a juggler of four kids, a writing addiction, a horse rescuer, and a book editor by trade. She lives on the edge (ask her Arabian horse about that—he’ll tell you all about their wild adventures while trying to train him!) and she writes on the edge. Her characters and plots are her escape from the real world of dirty diapers and cleaning horse stalls, and the masochist in her thrives off of hurting her characters to create an entertaining tale.

She is the author of several best-selling and award-winning thrillers. To pick up a copy of a FREE book and other prizes, or to find out more about her chaotic existence, visit her website at www.pamelacrane.com.

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Authors Links:

www.pamelacrane.com

www.pamelacrane.wordpress.com

http://www.amazon.com/Pamela-Crane/e/B00FOS91AI

www.facebook.com/pamela.crane.52

The Art Of Fear by Pamela Crane, released July 18th in the UK!

 

 

Blog Tour: Kill Or Die by Ann Evans – Review

BLOG TOUR

Kill Or Die by Ann Evans

Synopsis:

KILL OR DIE; An utterly gripping new crime thriller

A vicious burglary goes horribly wrong when an elderly victim is killed and one of the burglars is injured.

In the detached house next door, Julia is preparing to leave her husband.  He has let her down for the last time and her bags are packed. Taking their eight-year-old daughter, Lucy, from her bed they set off in the fog.

But on this cold, dark night, fate steps in and these strangers collide.

When Vincent and Nash abduct the mother and daughter, and take them to a derelict house, the situation takes a grave turn.

Meanwhile, Julia’s husband, Ian, is distraught that his wife and daughter have left, and when the murder and burglary are discovered, suspicion falls on him.

For Ian, Julia and Lucy, life is about to become a nightmare.

Can Julia and Lucy escape from the twisted criminals?

What will Julia decide when the choice is –  kill or die?

My review:

On a quiet foggy Warwickshire street, in the dead of night. Two men commit a burglary that ends in a murder, nearby in a house a mother wakes her sleeping child as she attempts to flee in the night from her cheating spouse. Tonight their lives will come crashing together and none of them will ever be the same.

The novel opens with the two ‘baddie’ characters Vincent and Nash, both armed robbers and neither of them nice men by any measure! Nash is a heavily disfigured nasty piece of work and Vince is not better himself. Upon feeling a burglary, they crash into the car carrying mother Julia and sleeping daughter Lucy, who at just 8yrs old has no idea what is going on. This novel is heavy on the scares for many reasons, the atmospheric settting with the fog making visibility difficult, the point of view being driven from the victim’s perspective and ultimately how truly bad the ‘baddies’ really are!

Julia’s spouse Ian is a background character; a man whose selfish acts have finely caught up with him. Entangled in an affair with the manipulative Shelley De Man, he fails to put the pieces together. I wasn’t a big fan of Ian, he came off as a general all round loser, who failed to grasp any urgency in his wife’s disappearance but I think this was intentional in the writing style.

Julia and Lucy are kidnapped by the two men and taken to an abandoned property deep in the woods. Now this is when the plot really amps up the fear factor! Julia is forced to assist and aid an injured Nash and the men become desperate in their attempts to contain the situation. With subtle rape threats suggested by Vince, Julia knows it’s only a matter of time before the man resort to violence. How do you respond when held in captivity? What if your child was with you? What if you fight back and your child pays the price?

Trapped with the violent monsters, the violence, threats and intimidation reach breaking point and Julia has a choice to make, Kill Or Die? This novel is crime thriller, but it is definitely not of the usual police procedural. It focuses on the victims and their stories, their survival and their choices. Not to be missed, highly recommend 4*

Authors links:

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http://www.annevansbooks.co.uk/adultreads/
Twitter: @annevansauthor

New Release: Ararat by Christopher Golden- Review 5* Genius read!

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Ararat by Christopher Golden

The synopsis:

Meryam and Adam take risks for a living. But neither is prepared for what lies in the legendary heights of Mount Ararat, Turkey.

First to reach a massive cave revealed by an avalanche, they discover the hole in the mountain’s heart is really an ancient ship, buried in time. A relic that some fervently believe is Noah’s Ark.

Deep in its recesses stands a coffin inscribed with mysterious symbols that no one in their team of scholars, archaeologists and filmmakers can identify. Inside is a twisted, horned cadaver. Outside a storm threatens to break.

As terror begins to infiltrate their every thought, is it the raging blizzard that chases them down the mountain – or something far worse?

My review:

I wouldn’t usually read about mountaineering, now I am concerned with what I have been missing out on!
The novel centres around a bunch of various specialists within their individual fields. I loved that this group included a mixture of men and women and people of various faiths. The group being diverse gives the plot a realistic/real feel to it. The specialists are exploring mount Ararat and in particular a secret myth that it contains Noah’s Arc within it’s cave systems. The group make a disturbing discovery and find themselves battling an evil entity and eventually themselves.
Their slow descent into turmoil and their focus to add some sense & logic to the situation makes for gripping reading.
The plot also has a very clever ending & I was hugely impressed by this author.
This was my first by this author but definitely wont be my last!

I tried to read this novel, alone in the dark at 5am, with the room only lit by the light from my kindle and I was genuinely too terrified. lol

*I received an Ebook arc copy via Netgalley.

Authors Links:
http://www.christophergolden.com/
Twitter: @ChristophGolden