#Celebrating the novels of @LesleyPearse #25in25 #Fife #Fact #BlogTour

To celebrate the publication of Lesley Pearse’s latest release, The Woman In The Woods. Penguin have organised a #25in25 blog tour to celebrate the authors incredible talent and fabulous novels.
The novel I have been chosen to celebrate is Faith and I have a little fact from the author herself.

Faith: The first time I’ve had an older heroine, and my only book set in Scotland. I walked miles in Fife planning this book, I visited a woman’s prison, and almost bought a little house in Fife I loved it so much.

I have incorporated some images that capture the beauty of Fife.

dusk at crail harbour in the east neuk of Fife
Dusk at Crail harbour in the East Neuk of Fife.

Elie lighthouse fife
Elie lighthouse, Fife.

 

16 Faith
Faith by Lesley Pearse
Synopsis:

Scotland, 1995. On the hills of Cornton Vale Prison.

She was convicted of killing her best friend . . .

Laura Brannigan has been put away for murder. She insists that she didn’t kill Jackie. But her search for true justice seems futile. Then she receives a letter that takes her back to her youth and the memory of an old love, Stuart . . .

Twenty years ago was a heady time for Laura: she’d escaped an abusive home, and together with Jackie they had made a fresh start. They had sworn to be sisters for ever.

What could have possibly gone so wrong? And why is Stuart writing to her now? Does he believe Laura’s innocent and can he help free her from prison . . . and her past?

fife image
Fife

cover
The Woman In The Wood by Lesley Pearse
Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old twins Maisy and Duncan Mitcham have always had each other. Until the fateful day in the wood . . .

One night in 1960, the twins awake to find their father pulling their screaming mother from the house. She is to be committed to an asylum. It is, so their father insists, for her own good.

It’s not long before they, too, are removed from their London home and sent to Nightingales – a large house deep in the New Forest countryside – to be watched over by their cold-hearted grandmother, Mrs Mitcham. Though they feel abandoned and unloved, at least here they have something they never had before – freedom.

The twins are left to their own devices, to explore, find new friends and first romances. That is until the day that Duncan doesn’t come back for dinner. Nor does he return the next day. Or the one after that.

When the bodies of other young boys are discovered in the surrounding area the police appear to give up hope of finding Duncan alive. With Mrs Mitcham showing little interest in her grandson’s disappearance, it is up to Maisy to discover the truth. And she knows just where to start. The woman who lives alone in the wood about whom so many rumours abound. A woman named Grace Deville.

My personal favourite of the authors work:
rm
Remember Me by Lesley Pearse
Synopsis:

In 1786 a fisherman’s daughter from Cornwall called Mary Broad was sentenced to be hung for theft. But her sentence was commuted, and she was transported to Australia, one of the first convicts to arrive there.

How Mary escaped the harsh existence of the colony and found true love, and how she was captured and taken back to London in chains, only to be released after a trial where she was defended by no less than James Boswell, is one of the most gripping and moving stories of human endeavour (based on an amazing true story) you will ever read.

*I first read Remember me, in 2003 I was heavily pregnant with my first child. I have since bought my 14 year old daughter a copy and she read it last year. I can still remember the emotions I felt and the tears I shed. I was absorbed in Mary’s story and her plight upon the Australian fleets. I would urge anyone to read this novel, it is without a doubt one of my all time favourite novels. 🙂

#BlogTour #GuestPost 5* #Review #WolvesInTheDark by #GunnarStaalesen @OrendaBooks

 

wolves blog tour poster

Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staalesen

Synopsis:

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts. When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material … and who is seeking the ultimate revenge. When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet. Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

Guest post:

A writer from day to day

I am often asked two questions: What made you a writer? And: What is your writing routine?

What made me a writer was being an avid reader. From when I learned to read, at seven years old, I have loved books. And this love of reading tempted me, when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, to write some short stories myself. Because I enjoyed drawing too, I illustrated my stories. So for some years I was creating cartoons, very much inspired by Disney’s Donald Duck, which was, and still is, very popular in Norway. I even wrote a crime short story, inspired by having read my first Conan Doyles and Agatha Christies.

In my early years, I wrote mostly for fun. However, when I was seventeen and a high-school pupil, I decided that I would try to write something that could be published. Of course, I started with the shorter forms – writing poems and short stories. I had some of these published when I was eighteen or nineteen, but when I was eighteen my first poetry collection was rejected by Gyldendal. Gyldendal would later become my Norwegian publisher!

Two years later the same publisher rejected my first, very short, novel; and then my second novel, too. With the second book, I was not sure if I agreed with the rejection, so I sent it to another publisher, was rejected by them too, and then to a third, who – surprise, surprise –wanted it. Thus, in 1969, at twenty-two years old, my first novel, Uskyldstider (‘Days of Innocence’) was published. It wasn’t a crime book, but a mainstream novel, clearly inspired by the American writer Jack Kerouac, as was my second novel, two years later.

After this came a period when I couldn’t find a publisher for my work: another novel and a collection of short stories. This was around the time when I started reading crime novels in a new way – not just as entertainment, but as interesting literature, written by authors like Sjöwall & Wahlöö, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald. Their books inspired me to write my very first crime book – for a crime novel competition organized by Gyldendal. I won second prize, but my future was sealed. I understood where my place in Norwegian literature was: I was a crime writer, and have been since 1975, when my first crime novel was published. Then, in 1977, I wrote my first novel about Varg Veum; and I found a friend for life.

So, to the second question: How do I work?

Well, if it is a good day – with no meetings with journalists and no answers to write for blog posts (…) – I always go for a short walk after breakfast, to get my blood circulating. After that I sit down, very often with a cup of coffee, and start working on my new manuscript. I write, with some pauses, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days. Then I have dinner, and after that, if I have not finished the chapter I was in the middle of before dinner, I prefer to finish that, so there is a new chapter waiting to be written the next day. I very often write like that: one chapter a day, be it a long or a short chapter. It usually takes me five to six months to write the first version of the book in this fashion. Then, after getting an initial response from my editor, all the correcting work begins, and I write a second version. After nine to twelve months I send the finished work to my editor, ready to be published. In Norway this is very often in the autumn, as the Christmas market is fundamental for most successful books in our country.

The year after I’ve written a novel, I try to do something different; for instance, write a new play for the local theatre. Then, the year after that, I’ll write another Varg Veum book. And, as we very often say in Norway, in this way, the days pass by.

I would say it’s a happy life. I do what I like most, and I can even make a living from it. Not all Norwegian writers can say that. We are a small country, but we have a lot of writers.
Gunnar Staalesen

My Review:

‘They came early’ as Varg Veum is all too aware. Veum is awoken to hear of a warrant for his arrest. Dazed and confused he asks them, on what charges, Child pornography they answer. It is from there; we are plunged into the nightmare with Veum. Desperate to clear his name and sickened by the charges, this is Veum’s darkest case yet!

Veum immediately calls a lawyer, aware that he needs the best representation but with little funds in his bank account, he calls in a favour from Vidar Waagenes. The police believe Veum is one of four main operators in an online paedophile ring that spans not only Europe but the globe. The evidence is stacked against him and aware that he has spent the last few years drowning his sorrows in alcohol and prostitutes. Even I the reader began to question his innocence. Is Varg Veum a sex offender of the most grotesque kind? Has he slumped so low, that even he doesn’t know if he is guilty of the most heinous acts?

The lawyer instructs veum to compile a list of all those, whom may hold a grudge against him. Whilst locked up on remand, with no access to visits, post and in complete isolation, he has little else to occupy his time. It is whilst held in Bergen state prison Veum takes us on a journey, the journey of his past, failed cases and people burned by Veum. This makes for eye-opening reading, does Veum’s past hold the key to the false charges?
Who seeks the ultimate revenge?

The reflective parts of Veum’s life, are very well written. This is a complex and intelligently weaved novel. The theme is dark and the subject matter of paedophilia and those whom abuse children, never makes for an easy read. But I feel that the author has portrayed the plot in an accurate light, rather than writing vivid scenes of abuse. It explains how people use the internet, how they get caught or get away with it. When Veum escapes from custody, the novel becomes more action focused. Veum needs to prove his innocence and solve the case, with time of the essence, Veum is backed into confrontations with those from his shady past……….

The novel ultimately is about what happens when vulnerability, innocence, trust, safe-havens, justice and honest intentions, meets betrayal, blackmail, scandal, slavery, sexual sadism, violence, bribery, lust and corruption.
It has an outstanding ending, that left me, staring at the last few pages in almost, disbelief!
5*

Granite Noir Fest 2017
Gunnar Staalesen
Web: http://www.vargveum.no/

 

 

#Mini #Review #FinalGirls by @riley_sager @EburyPublishing

Final Girls cover
Final Girls by Riley Sager

Synopsis:

Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead…

They were the victims of separate tragedies. Three strangers bound by similar traumas grouped together by the press.

When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet. Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And as the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.

My Review:

The plot was guided by a ‘American teen horror movie’ feel to it. Each victim being the sole survivor of a massacre or mass killing. But what this novel had that gave it the edge, was the story of the aftermath.
The novel flicks back and forth between events in the past as they unfold and the present lives of the victims Quincy, Lisa and Sam. Quincy is the central character, she is well written and I liked her.
The story develops into the victims struggles to deal with the trauma of the past events. Especially as they begin to question for themselves, what really happened in those massacres?
The book has some brilliant little twists and I would recommend to fans of the crime/thriller/horror genres. 4*

*Final Girls is released on 13th July in Ebook and Hardback and is available for pre-order. I received an ebook arc via netgalley, in return for an honest review.

#BlogTour #Excerpt #TheManUpstairs by @MFowlerAuthor @CarolineBookBit

Blog Tour Poster The Man Upstairs Mark Fowler - Extended Version
The Man Upstairs by Mark L Fowler

Synopsis:

Frank Miller, hero of the best-selling mystery novels written by The Man Upstairs, works the weird streets of Chapeltown as a private detective. During the legendary case of the Black Widow everything changed when Frank became aware of his fictional existence. Proclaimed at the time as a work of genius, Frank wonders if it was the first sign that The Man Upstairs was sick. This latest case, involving the death of a care worker, and coinciding with the appointment of Chapeltown’s first elected mayor, has Frank baffled. The Man Upstairs appears to be losing the plot, giving the womanising Frank a steady girlfriend, Marge, who warns him that to survive he must change from the tired cliché that he has become. As the case darkens Frank recognises the depth of his creator’s sickness. His days are numbered as clearly as the pages in the books in which he features. The looming battle with the Mayor of Chapeltown is nothing less than the battle to save himself, Marge, the series – and the mind of The Man Upstairs. The Man Upstairs is plotting to kill Frank Miller and take Chapeltown to hell.

Excerpt:

 

ONE: THE MAYOR, THE MAN UPSTAIRS AND THE GIRL IN THE BLUE PYJAMAS

 

The phone rang for the second time that night. I hadn’t liked the first call and I had the feeling that I wasn’t going to like this one any better. There was trouble coming to Chapeltown. Big trouble. Trouble with a capital T.

Don’t get me wrong – trouble was coming to the right place. Trouble was my business. Yet there was something in the air that I hadn’t felt before, the vibrations thundering down the track like a ghost train from hell. The cut-out sun had gone down on a universe out of kilter and TMU, The Man Upstairs, the god pulling all the strings had inexplicably let the stars slip out of alignment. It should never have been left to his creations to shuffle the firmament back into some kind of order.

I took the call.

The voice on the other end of the line belonged to a woman who had no place in my world. A woman named Marge. She wore blue pyjamas and she was further proof that TMU was losing the plot.

I told the woman it was late and that it would have to wait. She was saying that it couldn’t wait. She was always saying that it couldn’t wait.

While her voice rolled on I looked out of my window to see a fat old man, his face at least, smiling crookedly down at me through so many thousand miles of empty black space. Mad old moon, cut and pasted onto the Chapeltown sky.

The woman was becoming hysterical. I told her that I was on my way when I should have told her to jump out of the window.

*

Driving across town I thought about the other call. The earlier one. It was from a woman who spoke in whispers. She didn’t wish to disclose her name, though she knew mine the same as she knew my number. She had a tale to tell. A tale about a care worker by the name of Nancy Tate.

Nancy had been working for the Chapeltown Angels. One evening after she’d finished her shift she paid a visit to the Town Hall. Later that same evening, shortly after leaving the Town Hall a hit and run driver ended her short life.

Our infamous police department never caught the driver and concluded that her death was best filed under ‘Tragic Accidents’. The anonymous woman on the phone had come to a very different conclusion. She thought that Nancy Tate’s death was murder.

I asked the whispering woman if she had anyone in mind for the killing.

She did, as it happened. Thomas Jackson.

Not a man to get his hands dirty, apparently, this Thomas Jackson; but still, according to the whispering woman, he was the one who arranged it.

The name didn’t ring any bells and so I asked who this Thomas Jackson was.

“Are you kidding?”

I wasn’t and I said so.

“Well, I don’t know where you’ve been hiding lately, but Thomas Jackson is the elected Mayor of Chapeltown,” she told me.

“Chapeltown has an elected mayor?”

The laugh that followed suggested that her previous whispering was caused neither by illness nor disability, but rather the wish to remain anonymous. And discretion’s fine. I’ve been known to use it myself on occasions.

I said, “It sounds like your throat’s getting better. They say laughter is the best medicine. So how long has Chapeltown had an elected mayor?”

This time she didn’t laugh.

“Okay,” I said, “so why would this Mayor of Chapeltown – this Thomas Jackson – arrange to have a care worker killed?”

It was back to whispers.

She told me, this whispering enigma, how Jackson had hit the ground running, wasting no time extending his civic duties to the town’s young ladies.

One too many of them.

Nancy Tate, an enterprising girl, thought he ought to pay for his fun and promptly wound up dead. The police did what the police generally do in Chapeltown, which involves a lot of paperwork but very little police work, concluding that accidents happen and leaving Jackson to carry on playing at being mayor. Leaving those who knew Nancy Tate to say their goodbyes and resign themselves to the vagaries of an uncertain world.

“So Nancy was blackmailing him?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Not in so many words. Listen, I need to speak to you in person –“

“No!”

The whisper had slipped again. The voice came out raw.

“What are you afraid of?” I asked. “You think you might be next?”

“I can’t tell you anything more than I’ve told you already.”

“Are you sure about that?”

She hesitated. “You should visit Alice Coor.”

“Who’s Alice Coor?”

“She works for the Chapeltown Angels.”

The phone clicked and the whisperer was gone, back into the savage night.

*

I crossed the haunted landscape and headed into the centre, the Town Hall grinning out of the night like a clown at a dark carnival. I wondered if the mayor was working late. If I hadn’t been engaged on more ‘pressing matters’ I might have paid him a visit. Might have dropped in to ask why he hadn’t seen fit to let Chapeltown’s most famous dweller, Frank Miller, the Yours Truly of this sorry tale, know about his recent appointment.

I thought over what the whispering woman had said and none of it rang true. Chapeltown taking it upon itself to appoint a mayor, then this same guy immediately setting about the young women with a vengeance and silencing the first one to squeal.

No, I didn’t like it. Didn’t buy it for a second. It was like something straight out of a cheap crime mystery thriller. Bargain basement junk that The Man Upstairs always professed to have no time for.

As for the whisperer getting nothing from the police, well, that did ring true. As a general rule nobody ever got anything out of them. That’s when the good people of Chapeltown find themselves turning to Frank Miller himself, and knowing that they’ve done the right thing as soon as they catch sight of him riding into town in his Datsun Cherry…

 

I’d been driving that tired old jalopy since The Man Upstairs first set pen to paper and came up with the name Frank Miller. He’d tried me out in Vegas, Venice, Rome, London, even Sydney, Australia. But none of those towns worked. So he made up a place for me and called it Chapeltown. And before you could say “Old-School PI living on broads and booze”, the first Frank Miller mystery was out on sale.

Twenty books down the line and I’m still on sale, though I’m the only character in this town of the damned that seems to know the set up.

*

My old Datsun wheezed up Hill Street and spluttered out at the Honeywall Flats. I looked up to see the light in the third floor window.

Over the course of twenty books The Man Upstairs had given me nothing but one-night stands and I was not complaining. That was the Frank Miller style and not I, my readers, not even the ladies concerned had an issue with it. Yet here I was, three months into late night calls at the Honeywall Flats, answering the whistle like a faithful mutt.

I went through the broken door and up the stone steps.

Reaching the green door with the number 33 written on in black marker, I used the knuckles of my legendary right hand to tap out my trademark rhythm. It was the theme from an old western that had once formed the basis of my education.

Marge answered the door as though I was from the TV detection agency, her alabaster face peeping out at me with an expression poised between pleading and innocence. I said, “It’s Frank. I was under the impression that you were expecting me.”

I could see she’d been crying. She let me in and I went through to the living room and sat down on the big yellow sofa. She came in behind me and wouldn’t you know it, she was wearing those blue pyjamas again. The television was on but the sound was muted. Some film was showing but I didn’t recognise it. A lot of people seemed to be getting in and out of cars and there were a lot of serious faces and quite a few guns pointing here and there. I imagined that with the sound on it would have been a noisy affair.

“Practicing your lip reading?” I said, pointing at the silent screen.

“It’s on for the company, Frank.”

Marge didn’t use words idly.

“Three months,” she said, sitting two cushions away from me.

“Who would have thought it,” I said. “Were you expecting flowers?”

“Why do you have to be like that all the time?”

“I wasn’t being funny, Marge. Look, what’s this about?”

She looked ready to slap my face. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Then her expression softened, her voice bubbling with tears. “We’re getting along okay, aren’t we, Frank?”

Before I could say anything she was crying – big sobs, too. I covered the distance of two cushions and my arm did the right thing, wrapping itself around her shoulders. She looked up at me with those full eyes dripping and I thought about the girl in the fist of King Kong.

I’d watched that film with Marge a dozen times, though I could never see the point of it. Maybe she was trying to tell me something about Beauty and the Beast, but if that was the case then I’m afraid that I was too dumb to catch it.

Out it came. How she thought we had something special. How she wanted more than me just calling around when I had the “inclination”.

‘Summoned’ would have been a better description.

I kept the thought to myself. I was waiting for the C word. She used every synonym for that treacherous word but left ‘commitment’ hanging like a noose.

The way she went about assassinating my character made we wonder if this wasn’t the end. If she wasn’t about to send me back out into the night and let me get on with living the only life I knew how to live.

The wrong kind.

The Frank Miller kind.

“…You’re nothing but a walking cliché, Frank.”

“I’m who I am, Marge. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s how I was made.”

“But you can change, Frank.”

Now I got it and it was the oldest story in the book. A woman falls in love with a man and straight away sets about trying to change him. But sometimes it just can’t be done.

“To change me would be to kill me.”

“Not that old line, Frank.”

“I’m serious.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about The Man Upstairs.”

“Upstairs? Where upstairs? Believing in God now, are we? So you can blame Him for how you turned out!”

She was on the button. God/ The Man Upstairs – they amounted to the same thing in Chapeltown. TMU had made her as surely as he’d made everybody else in this town, but I didn’t plan on being the one to break the news. It wasn’t down to me to tell her just what her life amounted to – and certainly not while she was wearing those blue pyjamas. Those things should have come with a licence. Their effect on me was nothing short of lethal. And now the water in her big brown eyes had puffed those peepers up so full that I wanted to dive down into them.

So that’s what I did: went brown-eyes diving. And in no time her heart was hammering so loud I couldn’t hear my own above the din. The bedroom was ten feet away and it didn’t take us long to get there.

And then time and space yielded to the Chapeltown night.

 

She was back in her blue pyjamas and I was wrapped up in the matching cotton robe she had bought to celebrate our first month together. The muted television screen was still throwing shadows around the flat, and dim echoes of the unspoken C word and its spoken synonyms still reverberated around the room as we made small talk about the joys and terrors of the world as we knew it. I didn’t know whether to envy or pity her. All she knew was…this. For her there was no TMU.

I caught myself looking at her, wondering what I was doing spending a cozy evening in with a girl who wore an old lady’s bedclothes. Frank Miller had never been one for the homely ‘girl-next-door’ type. Frank went for the vixens in fishnets; the devils in blue dresses and red garters, thorns without even the promise of a rose.

So what was TMU trying to pull? His readers wanted the old Frank, the despicable me out sniffing for the painted creatures of the night, not some steady boyfriend conspiring with romantic evenings spent in the company of a plain Jane wearing grandma’s linens.

All the same she looked good in them.

Too good.

What was The Man Upstairs playing at?

At some stage those wretched blue Frank-teasers were off again and all time went back to the moon.

 

We woke up early. Marge had to go to work. She told me I could stay in bed and let myself out later. I had an afternoon appointment with Alice Coor, as recommended by the whispering woman. My morning was free though. I pulled Marge to me and told her to ring in.

“I have to work for a living, Frank. Unless you’re planning on taking me away from all this. Make an honest woman of me, Frank. Take me out of Chapeltown and show me the world.”

But Chapeltown was the world. For the likes of Marge and me there was nothing else.

I watched her tail disappear through the bedroom door and when I heard the shower kick in, pouring water on all of my dreams, I was about ready to put a fist through the window to restore a sense of equilibrium.

All done up for the hospital she came back into the bedroom and gave me the sweetest, most innocent peck on the cheek. Then she looked down and saw what was lurking beneath the sheets.

“Never gives you any rest, does it?” she said.

Wasn’t that the truth!

“I’ve got to go, Frank. I’ll call you later.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Since when did Chapeltown elect itself a mayor?”

“Since everybody voted for him.”

“I didn’t vote.”

“That’s up to you.”

“But you voted?”

“Bye, Frank.”

 

The door closed behind her, leaving the flat as emptied of life as the story book pages The Man Upstairs calls the universe. A dark, cold feeling swept through me. One I hadn’t encountered before. I almost went after her. The urge to share the burden of this secret life lived in public was suddenly overwhelming.

I knew little about Marge. TMU had chosen to provide me with mere scraps. I’d never seen her outside of the flat. She told me that she went off every day to be a nurse at the Chapeltown General. But what else did I know?

I knew nothing.

I thought about her as I lay on that bed – though I wasn’t thinking the way I usually did. I was thinking that it was a poor excuse for a life TMU had given her. She was hardly more than a sketch; a part-creation. For the reader she existed here, in this one place, and she always would and that was the extent of it.

And yet she had been given the role of trying to change the unchangeable Frank Miller. That was some undertaking for a minor player. What was he playing at? Had he forgotten the rules or was he just choosing to disregard them?

With one stroke of his pen TMU could wipe Marge out of existence. He could do the same for me, for that matter, though why would he? Where would that leave him? I was his bread and butter – the creation that had made him famous. I was the one he had tasked with telling his weird stories. If he killed me off there was nothing left.

I thought again about Marge, leaving the page; trading in her blue pyjamas for a hospital day-job uniform. To live or not live out an off-page life that was neither here nor there.

Maybe it was time that Marge knew the truth about Frank Miller and about the world that TMU had created. Maybe it was time for me to share the pitiful reality of existence with one other person in Chapeltown.

Yet I couldn’t do it. Didn’t think she could stand the knowledge.

For the first time I thought about what it would be like to live as somebody else. Empathy, I think they call it, though there’s precious little of it in this shrunken world of mine. Still, I tried it and for a few moments I was Marge, sitting there in that big empty bed, believing in a bigger reality; of a place beyond these tormented streets and broken lives – and it made me want to cry.

I lay back and thought about what she wanted. What she was asking of me.

No, it couldn’t be done.

It was impossible.

To change Frank Miller?

The public would never allow it.

It would kill the series.

And if the series was dead then so was Frank.

And Marge…

Mark L. Fowler Author Image
Mark L Fowler

MARK L. FOWLER – AUTHOR INFO

Mark L. Fowler is the author of the novels Coffin Maker, The Man Upstairs, Silver, and Red Is The Colour, and more than a hundred short stories. His particular interests are in crime and mystery, psychological thrillers and gothic/horror fiction. His first published novel, Coffin Maker, is a gothic tale set between our world and the Kingdom of Death. In the Kingdom the Coffin Maker lives a solitary existence, and every coffin he completes signals the end of a life in our world. One day he discovers that he is to be sent two apprentices, amid rumours that the devil is arriving on Earth. Mark’s second novel, The Man Upstairs, features the hard-boiled detective, Frank Miller, who works the weird streets of Chapeltown. Having discovered that he is in fact the hero of twenty successful mystery novels, authored by The Man Upstairs, Frank has reasons to fear that this latest case might be his last. In 2016, Silver, a dark and disturbing psychological thriller was published by Bloodhound Books. When a famous romance novelist dies in mysterious circumstances, she leaves behind an unfinished manuscript, Silver. This dark and uncharacteristic work has become the Holy Grail of the publishing world, but the dead writer’s family have their reasons for refusing to allow publication. Red Is The Colour is Mark’s latest book, a crime mystery featuring two police detectives based in Staffordshire. The case involves the grim discovery of the corpse of a schoolboy who went missing thirty years earlier. Red Is The Colour is the first in a series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills, and will be published in July 2017 by Bloodhound Books. The author contributed a short story, Out of Retirement, to the best-selling crime and horror collection, Dark Minds. Featuring many well-known writers, all proceeds from the sales of Dark Minds go to charity. A graduate in philosophy from Leicester University, Mark lives in Staffordshire, and is currently writing a follow up to Red Is The Colour. When he isn’t writing he enjoys time with family and friends, watching TV and films, playing guitar/piano and going for long walks.

AUTHOR LINKS:
Amazon
Author Page   http://bit.ly/AmUKtoMFowler Facebook        Author Page   http://bit.ly/MFowlerAuthorFB Twitter                                    http://bit.ly/TwtoMLF

#Review and Q&A, A Daughter’s Courage by @RenitaDSilva @bookouture #HistFic

cover a daughters courage
A Daughter’s Courage by Renita D’Silva

Synopsis:

How much would you sacrifice to save your family?

1929. When a passionate love affair threatens to leave Lucy in disgrace, she chooses a respectable marriage over a life of shame. With her husband, coffee-plantation-owner James, she travels to her new home in India, leaving her troubled past behind her.

Everything in India is new to Lucy, from the jewel-coloured fabrics to the exotic spices. When her path crosses that of Gowri, a young woman who tends the temple on the plantation’s edge, Lucy is curious to find out more about her, and the events that lead her to live in isolation from her family…

Now. With her career in shatters and her heart broken by the man she thought was her future, Kavya flees from bustling Mumbai to her home town. A crumbling temple has been discovered in a village nearby, and with it letters detailing its tragic history – desperate pleas from a young woman called Gowri.

As Kavya learns of Gowri and Lucy’s painful story, she begins to understand the terrible sacrifices that were made and the decision the two women took that changed their lives forever. Can the secrets of the past help Kavya to rebuild her life?

My Review:

I love the cover of this novel, it is absolutely beautiful. I love that the female is in a traditional sari and appears deep in thought. I think it matches the plot completely!

The prologue opens and sets the location and the atmosphere. Which must take exceptional skill, by the writer. You almost feel as if you are watching the scenes play out rather than creating them in your own head. The novel continues various female’s characters, in various eras.

Kavya a modern day woman and Bollywood star, turns her back on the limelight to return to her mother’s home. Her mother is such a cracking character from the off. Domineering, yet loving. Needy, yet able. With very traditional values. I love that we all know, a mother/grandmother, like Kavya’s mother. When she begins to inform Kavya of a local temple that has been discovered via an elephant charging through the area. The novel, suddenly changes and we see the deep historical knowledge come to the surface……..

The temple, is being claimed by Muslims and Hindus alike, whom all want a stake in the potential treasure unearthed. When Kavya’s mother reveals their potential links to the Temple, Kavya becomes determined to know the truth behind the temple. The temple’s main diety is the goddess Yellamma, patron of Devadasis. Which is illegal in modern day in India, but was a form of prostitution in the name of faith.

Gowri is a young girl, in 1924 and we discover the terrible secrets of the past that led her to the temple and the painful hold it had over her. We hear her thoughts and prayers, her internal struggles with gender/poverty inequality. Gowri longs to be a teacher and seeks to break tradition, she doesn’t want to just be some man’s wife. But fate, plays Gowri a much worse hand and she finds herself in service to goddess Yellamma, as a Devadasis, by the cruel trickery of a despicable man, with no soul……..

Lucy a young British woman in 1927 London, has fallen in love. The only problem is, she fell in love across the class structure, falling for a handsome young gardener named Robert. Lucy is forced into a marriage to James Bell, over the shame she would bring to her family if such a marriage to Robert took place.

Meanwhile, Gowri is suffering under her new regime. The loneliness and despair seeps from the pages. We learn of her only ally in the world her previous teacher and their deep bond. But when her only ally suddenly dies, Gowri is left all alone in the world, with just the men whom frequent her shack………

Sue is a modern day woman, also living in London. She has recently discovered she is pregnant, with a much anticipated child. However, Sue’s husband, a soldier fighting in the middle east, has recently been killed in action. Leaving Sue with no family, no friends and no support. She whiles away the hours reminiscing about her grandmother, a high flying archaeologist. The time they shared after the death of Lucy’s mother at a young age. When Sue hears the story of the Temple, over the radio one day, she feels drawn to the story and the secrets of the past. Amongst the rubble of the Temple, a child’s bones are found…………

This novel is a truly incredible story. A story of women and the different struggles they face, the mistakes made and the prices they must pay, spanning decades and right up to the modern day. What will be made of the secrets of the past, when the women’s lives and history, implode upon them?

Highly recommend 5*

*Having enjoyed the novel so much. I ended up doing some mini research myself!
Devadasi devadasione
Devadasis

Devadsi Temple to Lord Khandoba in Jejuri Maharashtra
Devadsi Temple to Lord Khandoba in Jejuri, Maharashtra

yellama
Goddess Yellamma

Q&A:

Q) The novel covers the history of the Devadasis. When did you first learn of the Devadasis?

A) I grew up hearing of the devadasis (I grew up in India), how they had once been respected and how over the past century, their status had deteriorated. The more I read about their plight, the more upset I was and I knew that one day I would write about them.

Q) The character of Gowri, has a painful internal struggle against gender/poverty inequality. Did you set out to cover these themes? Or was this how the character presented herself to you?

A) It was definitely the latter – Gowri grew on me, she took me over, she dictated her story and I was just the conduit, putting her emotions, her angst into words.

Q) Within the novel there are several female characters from various eras and of either British/Indian culture. The characterisation is fantastic and the reader is drawn to their stories equally. What was the inspiration for the individual women?

A) I wanted to show women through the generations and across continents; I wanted to contrast modern women with women from generations past, women in India with women growing up in the West. I wanted to explore their inner struggles, the choices open to them, the constraints of their respective societies and the consequences wrought by their actions. I wanted to show, with each of the women, how, despite the limitations imposed upon them by either their own actions or by society, they managed to keep their sense of self, fight against their circumstances in their own unique ways.

Q) The elephants charging through the jungle and discovery of the temple. Was this inspired by any one particular event?

A) I read a news article about an elephant that got separated from its herd and went on a mad rampage, causing considerable damage. What if the elephant discovered something? I wondered. Something that had stayed hidden for decades, been claimed back by nature. My imagination took over then, conjured up the temple. And it evolved from there.

Q) This novel has a real ‘female strength’ feel to it. The relationship between Kayva and her mother, made me smile very early on in the story. Also having seen the dedication at the start of the novel. Who are the influences from real life? Does your mother play a role in the creation of the novels and various plots?

A) My mother is definitely my inspiration. She is strong, fiercely intelligent and very loving. I was very close to my grandmother too. She was a little like Kavya’s mother – strident and uncompromising, fiercely protective where we, her grandchildren, were concerned, and hiding a generous, warm and hugely caring heart behind a prickly exterior. She is also my inspiration.

My mother does not read my books until they are done, but she does answer any questions I might have during research, although I don’t give the plot away J

Q) What are your favourite reads in the genre and other genres?

A) Oh it’s hard to choose favourites – there are so many brilliant authors and wonderful books out there. To Kill A Mockingbird is my favourite book of all time.

Q) What were your childhood reads and influences?

A) Andersen and Grimm Fairy Tales introduced me to the magical, beautiful world of stories and I haven’t quite recovered yet J

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) I love hearing from readers – it is rewarding and humbling to find out how your story has affected somebody else, the emotions it evoked in them.

RS: Thank you SO much Abby, for your beautiful review and for featuring me on your wonderful blog!

Rds
Renita D’Silva

Author Bio:

Renita D’Silva loves stories, both reading and creating them. Her short stories have been published in ‘The View from Here’, ‘Bartleby Snopes’, ‘this zine’, ‘Platinum Page’, ‘Paragraph Planet’ among others and have been nominated for the ‘Pushcart’ prize and the ‘Best of the Net’ anthology. She is the author of ‘Monsoon Memories’, ‘The Forgotten Daughter’, ‘The Stolen Girl’, ‘A Sister’s Promise’, ‘A Mother’s Secret’ and ‘A Daughter’s Courage’.

Authors Links:
FB: https://www.facebook.com/RenitaDSilvaBooks
Twitter: @RenitaDSilva Website: http://renitadsilva.com/
Email: Renitadsilvabooks@gmail.com

**Huge Thanks to the author for taking part in a Q&A, on my blog. I wish you every success, with your future writing career. Although this has been my first of your novels, it definitely won’t be my last!