@urbanebooks #BlogTours #ComingSoon @LloydOtisWriter @AngelenaBoden @DStuartDavies #Teaser

I wanted to post a piece regarding the three upcoming #BlogTours for urbane books! I have been amazed and astounded by the fabulous support for these authors and novels!
So here they are………..

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Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis
Synopsis:

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Lloyd Otis brings a startling account of the past back to life over a burgeoning ’70s landscape, and delivers a thrilling piece of crime fiction that will excite any fan of the genre.

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Lloyd Otis
authors links:
Twitter: @LloydOtisWriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LloydOtisDeadLands/

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The Future Can’t wait by Angelena Boden
Synopsis:

The Future Can’t Wait is a contemporary novel set in multi-cultural Birmingham against a background of growing radicalisation of young people sympathetic to Islamic State.

Kendra Blackmore’s half-Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her cutting off all contact with her family. Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home-loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers – and to bring her estranged daughter home…

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Angelena Boden
Authors Links:
Web: http://www.angelenaboden.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelenaBoden @AngelenaBoden
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bodenangelena/

BANNER blogtourBLOODRITES Cover
Blood Rites by David Stuart Davies
Synopsis:

Blood Rites is the latest gripping DI Paul Snow thriller from renowned crime writer David Stiart Davies.

1980s Yorkshire. DI Paul Snow has a personal demon. He is a homosexual but is desperate to keep it secret, knowing it would finish his career in the intolerant police force. As this personal drama unfolds, he is involved in investigating a series of violent murders in the town. All the victims appear to be chosen at random and appear to have no connection with each other. After the fourth murder, he is removed from the case for not finding the killer but continues investigating the matter privately. Gradually, Paul manages to determine a link between the murder victims, but this places his own life in great danger. Can Paul unmask the killer as he wrestles with his own demons?

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David Stuart Davies
Authors Links:
Web: http://www.davidstuartdavies.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DStuartDavies @DStuartDavies
Via Urbane: http://urbanepublications.com/book_author/david-stuart-davies/

***All titles are available via Amazon for pre-order***

 

#Review and Q&A #LittleBoyLost by #JDTrafford 5*Genius

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Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford
Synopsis:

A broken city, a missing young man, and a lawyer searching for truth when nobody else cares.

Attorney Justin Glass’s practice, housed in a shabby office on the north side of Saint Louis, isn’t doing so well that he can afford to work for free. But when eight-year-old Tanisha Walker offers him a jar full of change to find her missing brother, he doesn’t have the heart to turn her away.

Justin had hoped to find the boy alive and well. But all that was found of Devon Walker was his brutally murdered body—and the bodies of twelve other African American teenagers, all discarded like trash in a mass grave. Each had been reported missing. And none had been investigated.

As simmering racial tensions explode into violence, Justin finds himself caught in the tide. And as he gives voice to the discontent plaguing the city’s forgotten and ignored, he vows to search for the killer who preys upon them.

My review and Q&A:

This is one of them novels where I have Loved every single page! It has crime, politics, diversity and most of all intensity! It is almost as if the novel takes you on a journey through the USA, its legal system and modern racial tensions. I feel educated, moved and humbled by the story of the lost boys!
So let me start by telling you why…….

The protagonist of the novel is Justin Glass, a mixed race attorney from the shabby side of Saint Louis. Now I only mention his race as it is pivotal to the story and themes within the novel. One day he is alone in his run down, seen better days, office when in walks Tanisha Walker. She has a jar full of change from her grandmother’s cuss jar. She is a fearless and savvy little 8-and-a-half-year-old and I liked her instantly. She asks Justin to attempt to find her brother Devon Walker (16yrs), who has been missing a month. Justin is reluctant to take the case. But upon learning the police have had zero contact with the family, he reluctantly agrees to do a little digging.
At this point Justin has no idea, what he will unearth………

We learn some more about Justin and his background. How his father and brother are political figures and his grandfather a retired judge. We also learn they have ties to the civil rights movement, right from its beginnings. Justin is recently bereaved of his wife Monica and left to raise his 11-year-old daughter Sammy alone. The theme of grief/depression is fully explored and we learn of Justin’s fall from grace due to his inability to cope with his personal grief.
Justin is barely hanging on!

Justin contact local police officer David Schmidt (Schmitty) to gather some information on Devon and it is not positive news. Devon is known to the local police since the age of just 6yrs old. He recently had a warrant for his arrest in a serious case of aggravated robberies and was in the process of being transferred to adult court. Devon had a full juvie file and incident reports, including photos of his tattoos held by the gang unit. Devon one of a series of young men bored, uneducated, disconnected and disenfranchised that turn to crime. Schmitty hands over the files and states
Devon is more than likely just a runaway case and will turn up soon.

“he was only sixteen, but getting arrested had become a way of life”

As Justin continues to investigate, chasing Devon’s previous girlfriends etc. He stumbles upon his friend and fellow business owner Nikolai being assaulted. He calls the cops and offers Nikolai assistance but when the cops arrive, they just see a black male, towering over a white victim. Justin is instantly arrested and beaten. When his father and brother arrive at the jail to bail them out. His father warns Justin’s brother Lincoln not to make this political, as “you don’t want to light a fire that we can’t put out”. The continue to discuss the relationship African Americans have with the police.
This makes for eye-opening reading to the non-USA reader.

“The white only signs have been taken down but they’re still there. This is your fight now”.

Recuperating from his beating, Justin receives a call from Schmitty. He is summoned to a wooded area at Castlewood State Park. Where hikers have stumbled upon a mass grave. Schmitty believes one of the victims to be Devon and asks Justin to inform the family. The mass grave contains the bodies of 9 juvenile African Americans with criminal records. Is this the work of a crazed serial killer with a score to settle? Justin informs the family, whom meet the news with mere acceptance, almost as if they news this news inevitable. The media labels the kids as ‘the lost boys’.
Someone is cleaning up the streets one lost boy at a time…………

Sensing his workload is about to surpass his capacity. Justin hires Bosnian refugee Emma Tadic, as his paralegal. Emma turns out to be the perfect assistant and re-organises Justin’s hectic life. Justin agrees with Scmitty to interview the families with missing/lost boys, knowing they won’t work with the police. He also notices a distinct pattern in the young men’s lives. From their teens, to truancy, to petty crime, to gangs, to regular disappearances, to serious crime, to probation and finally gone! When Justin interviews mother Deonna Villa, she informs him that she has had no contact from the police, that they never even called. Why does no one care about these young boys lives? Why are they so casually throwaway? Justin becomes distracted from the case when his daughter goes through some issues with her school and the case loses even his attention.

“Rules equal love. If you let your children run the show, then you really don’t love them”.

Justin meets with Schmitty and they agree that the cases are too cold, calculated and organised. They both begin to suspect it may even be the work of a cop or probation officer. Then more bodies are discovered at Castlewood State Park. This is now a high profile case, with the media watching their every move. With some of the boys sharing the same probation officer, Jimmy Poles. He immediately becomes suspect number one. when Jimmy Poles online and offline racist activities are uncovered. He seems to fit the profile exactly.

“Racism had become the last defence of a way of life that’d been dead for over a century”.

Justin pulls out all the stops and contact local juvie judge Danny Bryce, he is determined to solve this case at all costs. He attends Devon’s funeral and is moved by the words of Reverend Battle “truly sad that the most diverse neighbourhood in our city is one for the dead and not the living”. Justin rallies the community in an effort to stop a repeat of past riots. But then a Twitter account leaks details of the case, naming Jimmy as suspect number one! with a whiff of police corruption, it isn’t long until Jimmy’s house is set alight and the Governor calls a state of emergency!
How will Justin solve the case, while the city burns?

This novel is a mixture of crime fiction, legal thriller and diversity. The USA justice system is fully explained for those non-USA readers like me! I also think this explains the legal system better than any novel I have ever read before. The location of Saint Louis, its social and cultural changes are fully explored. I almost felt as though I was in the city, watching the events unfold. The novels offer’s so much food for thought is terms of discussion about disenfranchised youth, BAME young males and their life opportunities etc. It is very diverse in its writing style! I think the author has achieved a very intelligent and gripping novel.
Easily compared to the likes of Greg Iles, Joe Ide and John Girsham etc.

5* Genius

Q) I had a little nosey at the about the author section at the end of the novel. For the readers can you give a brief summary of yourself and your novel Little Boy Lost?

A) Like many authors who write “legal fiction” or “legal thrillers,” I graduated from law school. That’s also where I met my wife, who is an excellent immigration attorney. After we graduated law school, she worked in human rights. My work before and after law school related to consumer fraud, health care, and housing. I also represented individuals in communities of color who were the victims of predatory lending.  Little Boy Lost is a mystery related to a young African-American man who disappears and nobody seems to want him found.

Q) The novel explains the American criminal system exceptionally well. In fact, it is the best explanation I have ever read in a novel. Was this intentional, so that you wouldn’t alienate non-USA readers?

A) I’m always a little frustrated by legal thrillers that make our legal system seem really exciting and quick. While there are certainly interesting cases, it is mostly a grind. I wanted to show that side of the legal system to both readers in America and abroad.

Q) The novel is based in Saint Louis, what was the inspiration behind this?

A) I used to live in Saint Louis. My wife is from the Saint Louis area, and I go back often for holidays. It is a city that is unique geographically and historically, and I’ve wanted to write a story that takes place there for over ten years. After the high profile police shootings in the United States, I figured out the background for the story.

Q) The novel offers up so much food for thought as mentioned in my review above. Was there a specific incident that inspired the themes of racial tension and relationship with law enforcement in the novel?

A) I was in Saint Louis shortly after the Michael Brown shooting. I went to Ferguson while there were still boards on the windows downtown and visited the site where he was shot. There was a group of teenagers hanging out on the steps of the apartment building nearby, and they were watching me. My focus shifted away from the stuffed animals, flowers, and cards in front of me, and my mind started to think about them.

Q) The novel is extremely diverse in its style. I loved this and the mixture of characters such as Emma and Nikolai. What drew you to include a wide range of diverse characters?

A) Saint Louis is diverse, and I wanted to represent different aspects of the city. I also wanted to provide a little relief from the heaviness of the rest of the novel.

Q) Finally, I admitted I loved every single page of this novel. Will there be a next in the series? Will we get to see Justin Glass’s progression? Can you give us any snippets of information about a next in the series?

A) My next book is not a Justin Glass book. It is called “Good Intentions,” and it will be out next summer. It involves a young judge in Oakland, California who handles child protection cases works with children in foster care. His mentor is killed and he tries to find the person responsible while, at the same time, he is coming under intense public scrutiny after the unrelated death of a child on his caseload.

I have the next Justin Glass book partly on the page and mostly in my head. It begins with Justin Glass, now a state senator, balancing life as a politician with his commitment to follow his principles.

Some of my favorite books involving race and politics are:

The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay

Pagan Babies, Elmore Leonard

The Emperor of Ocean Park, Stephen Carter

*Huge thank you for agreeing to take part on this Q&A on my blog. I wish you every success with this novel.

 

 

#BlogTour #TheWaitingHours by #EllieDean #Review @arrowpublishing #Cliffehaven

The Waiting Hours Jacket
The waiting Hours by Ellie Dean
Synopsis:

Slapton Sands, 1943

War has not been kind to Carol Porter. It took her husband and baby, and with them her heart. At last she’s found some peace, working as a land girl at Coombe Farm. But Carol’s sanctuary, the whole local area in fact, is about to be disrupted.

When Pauline Reilly hears Carol’s news she’s worried for her little sister. But as rumours about Slapton Sands reach Cliffehaven, Pauline can’t help be more concerned for her only surviving son. And despite her sister-in-law Peggy’s best efforts, nothing soothes Pauline’s fears.

As Carol prepares to face the impending upheaval alone her beloved mother, Dolly, swoops in to Slapton, and packing up Carol’s life presents unexpected opportunities for them both: Carol looks to her future while Dolly confronts a ghost from her past, and they both have a chance to mend their broken hearts.

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My review:

An engaging WW2 saga, about love, loss and family! The year is 1943, with the novel actually building up to the events of Christmas 1943 and right through to D-Day invasions. Although not a Christmas novel, the fact that it covers the Christmas period in-depth means, it would make for the perfect Christmas gift!

Carol Porter knows the pain and hardships WW2 can bring to innocent civilians, having lost both her husband and baby. She is alone in her grief and sets out to become a land girl, in an effort to channel her pain. Carol starts work at the Coombe farm, ran by the Burnley family. Cantankerous yet loveable Jack Burnley and his battle-axe wife Millicent. The work is hard and makes for long days of manual labour. The other land girls Maisie, Pru and Ida at only 21yrs old, have fled London after their homes were destroyed in the bombings. Carol is a lonely character, that you often pity and admire in equal measure. But carol has family and they make for quite the multitude of characters themselves…..

Carol’s mother Dolly, is quite an unusual woman. Known for her fur coats, high heels and glamourous lifestyle. But what Dolly’s daughters don’t know, is that she secretly works for the SOE and is involved in missions relating to operation overlord. Upon hearing of the requisition of Slapton Sands and knowing Carol’s house stands to be taken over by American forces. Dolly descends upon Slapton Sands.
But there is a mysterious American who means both betrayal and love to Dolly that she wishes to avoid at all costs!

Carol’s sister Peggy lives locally at Cliffehaven with her husband Jim, daughters Daisy, Cissy and Anne, sons Bob and Charlie. She is a family orientated woman, who is a ray of sunshine bring love and warmth to everyone she meets. She is often the closest protector of her sister-in-law Pauline. Pauline having experienced the loss of two of her sons in the war and with a husband and surviving son still serving, is awash with nerves and worry!

American General Felix Addmington and his British Sgt Cornwallis arrive in Slapton Sands to a very cool/uneasy welcoming. The locals don’t want to be forced out of their homes and cannot gather the importance at the mission being created around them due to its top secret nature.
Can Felix win over the locals?
Why does Dolly avoid Felix like the plague?

At times the novel felt overly descriptive and I felt it needed some tweaks on historical accuracy. But it is a saga and therefore, to be told from the character’s point of view. Which it does incredibly well.

There is a wealth of characters from all ages, that resonate with the reader. The relationships and the impact of the war is always at the forefront of the story. The Devonshire setting adds to the location, giving of a ‘local’ feel to the way the characters interact with one another. The moment when Pauline waves off her surviving son Brendon to war, I felt tears sting my eyes. It reminded me of my grandmother (90yrs old) telling me “that every mother on her street, lost a son in the war”.
The characters feel real and authentic, you root for them and the various troubles the face! 4*

Ellie Dean
Ellie Dean
To find out more about the author and her novels visit her website:
http://www.ellie-dean.co.uk/index.htm

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*If you follow @arrowpublishing via Twitter, tomorrow they are hosting a #Giveaway for the novel!

#BlogTour #NothingStaysBuried by #PJTracy #Review @MichaelJBooks #WhereIsMarla

Nothing Stays Buried Blog Tour Card
Nothing Stays Buried by P.J. Tracy
Synopsis:

There’s a search for a missing girl, and another for a serial killer: death holds all the cards . . .

When Marla Gustafson vanishes on her way to her father’s farm, her car left empty on the side of an isolated country road, even Grace MacBride and her eccentric team of analysts are baffled.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis, homicide detectives Gino and Magozzi have a serial killer on their hands – two women murdered in cruelly similar fashion, with playing cards left on the bodies. But one card is an ace, the other is a four – it seems the killer is already two murders ahead.

With both teams stumped, it slowly becomes clear the evidence is inexplicably entangled. And they have little time to unravel the threads: a twisted killer is intent on playing out the deck…

My review:

I thought this novel started quite slow, but the pace quickly picked up and it made for epic reading! I was well and truly hooked! I really enjoyed how well written all the characters were!

The prologue opens with local town sweetheart and all around good girl Marla, as she navigates her way to a late night call-out at a farm. Marla has lived a privileged life, and is now a vet in her hometown. Her father Walt tells her often “good things come to good people”. That is until one fateful night she stumbles upon a dead body in a body bag. Only the killer dumping the body hasn’t left the scene yet.
Marla runs…………..

When Marla isn’t anywhere to be found her father Walt, calls the local sheriff Jacob Emmet. The local sheriff and deputies are overwhelmed with the case and have limited experience and technical equipment. They need help!

Meanwhile across Minneapolis, homicide detectives Leo Magozzi, Gino Rolseth, Harley, Annie and heavily pregnant Grace Macbride, are struggling with a bizarre case. The killer is targeting lone female joggers in parks. Killing them via strangulation and leaving a card at the scene. The cards found so far are an ace and four of spades. What is the significance of the playing cards? Where are two and three of spade? Is this the work of a serial killer? Then they are contacted to assist with the case of Marla’s disappearance.

Chief Malcherson is facing the pressure of the media and fear of a serial killer and the threat to the community this poses. He presses the team to work on both cases. Sheriff Jacob Emmet informs the team of his findings, there is DNA at the scene where Marla went missing. It belongs to Diego Sanchez, a Mexican national with ties to the Sinaloa cartel.
What has the cartel got to do with Marla’s disappearance?

As the novel flows we meet Cassie Miller, an undercover FBI agent as a grocery store. Attempting to covertly access her boss’s files. But why are the FBI investigating Global Foods? One thing is for certain Cassie is being watched………

Who stalks the women of Minnesota?

When more bodies pile up with the same MO and the playing card. The team question the significance of the cards. The mob was known to leave an ace of spades on their victims in the prohibition era. American soldiers also left them on Vietcong soldiers to psych the enemy. Why is this killer leaving the cards? Then one of the team recognises which casino the cards come from. Is this the lead they need? The team contact head of security at the Eagle Lake casino, Sammy ‘Junior’ Liman, to check his CCTV and records.

Back at Marla’s we learn more about the young woman whom vanished without a trace. The team investigate every aspect of her life and are stumped. Her father Walt, lost his son in a farming accident and his wife to cancer a year later. The team are desperate to get him some answers! But Walt is not naïve and understand the cruelty the world has.

“There’s no way we can figure this out, I know that. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and somebody bad and dark either took her or killed her. It happens all the time doesn’t it” – Walt

Marla’s journal references a person called Angel, but Walt claims to not know this person. Who is Angel? How does he/she fit into Marla’s life? There is a moment between pregnant Grace and Walt, where they share a conversation about her having her first child. It is very moving and emotional. Throughout the novel you constantly root for Walt and hope he is reunited with his daughter.

Where is Marla?

When the FBI raid Global Foods and the evidence of cartel links is revealed. The case picks up pace immensely. This novel is exceptionally dark and gripping. I highly recommend for those who enjoy crime with a dark theme throughout! The ending for me was absolutely brilliant, it was layered with tension!
I literally could not put it down! 4.5*

“Thirteen cards to a suit, four suits in a deck, do the math, that’s fifty-two”

PJ Tracy
P.J. Tracy
To find out more about P.J. Tracy visit the website: http://pjtracy.com/

Q&A with @jojackson589 #Author of #TooLoudASilence and #GuestPost #CulturalIssues

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Too Loud A Silence by Jo Jackson
Synopsis:

A secret held, a fear unspoken. Green gates and a flame tree – just as her mother described. The bolt screeches back …

It is 2011. Egypt is in the grip of the Arab Spring as journalist Maha Rhodes flies to Cairo.

Born in Egypt but raised in England, Maha no longer knows who she is. Finding out becomes important.

Events draw her into the political mayhem. She experiences the passion and violence of the revolution and is confronted by her own naivety.

How will her life be changed as a web of lies and deceit unfolds?

Too Loud A Silence will take you to Egypt. A beautiful, poignant and, at times, brutal story based on real events.

Q&A:

Q) Can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your novel?

A)I always loved to write. My junior school typed, illustrated and bound an adventure story I had written and it was put in the school library. It was my first success. I was very proud. At grammar school, I was fortunate to have an inspirational English teacher but despite all her efforts I chose a career in nursing at Guy’s hospital over reading English at university. Following qualification, I went on to train as a midwife and enjoyed every minute of it. It was whilst practicing midwifery that I became fascinated in how all of us exist in relationships and how these impact on us as individuals and on family life. I chose to study for an MSc in systemic psychotherapy and for the remainder of my career I was a family therapist with a private practice as well as working with companies, in schools with young people and staff and latterly in a boarding school for boys with autism.

None of this, coupled with bringing up 3 children, gave much time for writing and although the inspiration for my novel arose out of living in Egypt in the 1980’s it wasn’t until I retired that I began to write again.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) My story was inspired by two little Egyptian girls. I have no way of knowing what became of them when the orphanage they were in was closed to visitors, suddenly and without explanation.

I was an expatriate wife living in Egypt with my husband and three small children. I wasn’t allowed a work permit so instead found other things to do. One of these was to take twin babies from an orphanage out for the day. I did this every week for almost two years. I would bathe them, dress them, feed them and play with them, offering them the stimulation they so lacked.

As a family, we watched them grow and we became very fond of these children. Although we eventually left Cairo to return home we never forgot them.

I began writing this fictional story shortly after returning to England and still have the hand-written manuscript from that time. Career and family got in the way and it was never finished. On retirement I joined a writing group and the story I had always wanted to write for the twins resurfaced. With great sadness I had watched the events of the Arab Spring unfold in Egypt in 2011 and knew then that I wanted to make the political mayhem the backdrop of my novel.

It took me two years to complete a draft that I was happy with but I was determined that if it was going to become a published book then it would be something I could be proud of. I had it professionally edited and copy edited. The process was invaluable.

I sent the manuscript to twenty agents and heard from five of them. I planned to give the traditional publishing route six months then if no-one had taken it up I would self-publish. This is what I did and my book was launched in November 2016. Over a hundred attended the launch and the whole evening felt quite surreal. I couldn’t believe I was an author!

Q) Who are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) My best ever book, for the sheer joy of its language, is God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. My other favourite authors are Gerbrand Bakker with the Twin and Ten White Geese and Marilynne Robinson the American author. I love the sparseness of their language and the sense of place they invoke in their novels.

I also read a lot of non-fiction with Frances Osborne –Lilla’s Feast and The Bolter and Joanna Olczak, In the Garden of Memory being books I would recommend.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) As a child, I read all the Cherry Ames and Sue Barton series. I’m sure these stories were why I wanted to become a nurse. I had a more eclectic taste as a teenager but John Steinbeck had the greatest impact as well as a book called The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane.

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

A) I was recently invited to give a talk in a local library. Before the talk began an elderly lady came in with a notelet. She couldn’t stay for the evening but she wanted me to know how much she had enjoyed my book and to thank me for writing it. I thought that was so kind. I will treasure the card.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) So many people but particularly my writing group, Wenlock Writers on the Edge. Without their feedback, their encouragement and support this may never have been written. The author, Sarah Vincent was my professional editor and Colin Taylor my meticulous copy editor. A wonderful local artist and friend Catherine Downes painted the beautiful cover.

And of course, my husband and children who knew why I needed to write the story.

JJ
Jo Jackson
Authors links
Twitter: @JoJackson589
Facebook: JoJacksonauthor @Steppingintobooks
Website: http://www.jojacksonwriter.com

#GuestPost

Tackling the cultural issues.

The Arab Spring was a wave of unrest that spread across north Africa from Tunisia through Libya and into Egypt.

I watched the scenes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the television. I saw the passion of the demonstrators and their determination to bring about change. All Egyptians were represented: Muslims, Christians, men and women, rich and poor; the doctor and the road sweeper marching together with one voice.

I was living in Egypt in 1981 when President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by a breakaway militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sadat’s economic policy had sent inflation soaring and introduced corruption at the highest level. Hosni Mubarak was hailed as a modern leader who would put Egyptians first. Thirty years later millions were calling for him to be deposed. He had betrayed them by preferring to align himself with the west. Loans flowed into the country but the wealth bypassed the people and was squirrelled abroad. The cost of basic items such as bread had risen by 70%. By 2011 the population was poor and desperate.

Too Loud a Silence is a novel I wanted to write for two little girls whose fate is lost to me. I knew I wanted the Arab Spring and the politics to provide the backdrop. I questioned my ethical right to make it so. I wasn’t there; I hadn’t been back to Cairo for decades. Was it presumptuous to think I could even begin to understand the complexities of the politics, capture the essence, portray the problems? Should I use such a momentous turning point in Egyptian history as the background of a fictional novel? This was my dilemma. I was determined to try, with integrity and credibility always to the forefront of my writing.

My aim was to use my characters and their human stories to portray the situation. Maha, the main protagonist, an Egyptian born journalist with a British upbringing, experiences the violence personally, alongside the people she meets and those who befriend her. She is caught in the cross-cultural trap of never quite belonging. Through Hosni, a taxi driver, we feel the tragedy of his country’s collapse, see the effect of widespread unemployment and the inability of the government to provide basic services. He strives to safeguard his family and avoid his father’s and brother’s path into extremism. Behind all this is a backstory set thirty years before.

Conflict, through the ages, has always been an excuse for abuse This was no less the case in the Arab Spring. Violence, beatings and imprisonment were the underside of the revolution. Peaceful demonstration was hijacked by thugs. Those in charge used authority to perpetrate crimes.

The revolution was significant in that women played an important part; both sexes demonstrating alongside each other. Many women were arrested just for being present. They were threatened with prostitution charges and subjected to virginity tests. All of this was designed to intimidate and reinforce more traditional narratives around women. Some perpetrators have since faced trial but human rights campaigners say the general situation in the country is now far worse than before the uprising.

 

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Women’s issues were not given value in the aftermath of the revolution or in the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2011/12 They were not allowed representation, their role in bringing about change largely ignored. Was this an attempt to maintain the status quo?

When I lived in Cairo it was a safe place. My family and I experienced first-hand Arab hospitality and friendliness. This will not have diminished but where Muslims and Christians lived side by side in harmony a by-product of the revolution was that political groups and religious extremists sought to introduce suspicion, distrust and discrimination. Coptic churches were burned, individuals targeted. Fundamentalists wanted to see the introduction of Sharia law.

Despite the violence and the chaos millions of protestors displayed incredible discipline and dignity along with the will to hold wide ranging debate about how to reshape their country. Egypt’s culture of deep communal bonds and trust was never more apparent than in adversity.

I am not positioned to judge the success of the revolution. Others more qualified have spoken of the price of seeking freedom in Egypt. History will tell its own story.

Too Loud a Silence is based on real events: those of Egypt’s Arab Spring and my own story of living in the country. I describe the book as a web of experiences woven into words. First and foremost it is a work of fiction with all the license that implies.

Audiences and book reviewers continue to tell me that until they read my book they knew little of the Arab Spring; it stimulated their interest and they have sought to discover more. For me that is a small vindication of my decision to tackle it in the way that I did.

Meanwhile the revolution still lives in the heart of the people. For them it is the cause they believe in.