#BlogTour #GuestPost #TheSecondSon by Andy Blackman #NewRelease @gilbster1000 #Belize

*Apologises for alternate date for #BlogTour post, this is due to a recent hospital admission*

The Second Son Cover
The Second Son by Andy Blackman

As the second son of the Duke of Hampshire, Grenville St John Hampton isn’t likely to inherit his family’s title or estate, leaving him pondering an empty, aimless future. During the summer break from university, he impulsively decides to go backpacking with one of his oldest friends, Johnathan; their destination is Belize.

One sultry night on the Central American coastline, Grenville and Johnathan meet Tom. A game of darts takes a vicious turn. Realising he has nothing to look forward to back at home, Grenville decides to stay on in Belize with Tom, in pursuit of adventure. Together, the new friends establish an import business, and for the first time in his life, Grenville has a sense of purpose.

But back in England all is not well. The sudden death of his brother leaves Grenville with an unexpected – and now unwanted – inheritance, with new consequences and responsibilities. He will return to claim the family’s seat with a dark secret in tow.


Why you choose Belize as a location?


The reason I chose Belize as the place where Tom and Grenville meet, is because whilst serving in the British Army I was lucky enough to have served there for six months in 1983.

In 1983 Belize is not the same country as it is today, in 1982 Belize was granted independence on 21 September 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation because of its longstanding territorial dispute with the British colony, claiming that Belize belonged to Guatemala. About 1,500 British troops remained in Belize to deter any possible incursions.

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Belize was always for the Army on a state of battle ready, but did not stop us from having a good time whilst there. The country was split in two parts by the Army, Belize North run from AirPort Camp from the Capital, Belize City, and Belize South run from Punta Gorda , where I was stationed. Punta Gorda was not as built as it is today the camp was situated some 5 miles from it in the jungle, but we used to take trips to Punta Gorda at weekends to visit the local bars.

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The border between Belize and Guatemala.

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The Border between Mexico and Belize.

So as I spent some time in Belize and knew the county quite well I decided to include it in my book, as it was a place I knew about and could confidential write about. I love my time spent in Belize and as I mentioned in my book the first thing that hits you is the heat, it is soul sucking and takes ages to get used to it, but eventually you do. The only way from the North to the South was by boat and my first few days in the country was on a small landing craft going down to Punta Gorda wishing like many others it would all end soon. That is why I could have Tom in my book sail his boat, as I had done it myself so I knew it was possible.

#BlogTour #GuestPost #FoxHunter by @authorzoesharp #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Action

*I have swapped #BlogTour dates with the lovely Ayo from Shotsmag Confidential, due to being in hospital, apologises to the author & publisher*

Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp
The dead man had not gone quietly … There was a time when I would have given everything I owned to be the one responsible for that.’

Charlie Fox will never forget the men who put a brutal end to her military career, but she vowed a long time ago she would not go looking for them.

Now she doesn’t have a choice.

Her boss and former lover, Sean Meyer, is missing in Iraq where one of those men was working as a private security contractor. When the man’s butchered body is discovered, Charlie fears that Sean may be pursuing a twisted vendetta on her behalf.

Sean’s partner in their exclusive New York close-protection agency needs this dealt with—fast and quiet—before everything they’ve worked for is in ruins. He sends Charlie to the Middle East with very specific instructions:

Find Sean Meyer and stop him. By whatever means necessary.

At one time Charlie thought she knew Sean better than she knew herself, but it seems he’s turned into a violent stranger. As the trail grows more bloody, Charlie realises that unless she can get to Sean first, the hunter may soon become the hunted.



Zoë Sharp

I deliberately did not set out to put Charlie Fox down into the middle of the Iraq wars. For a start, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that led to the Gulf War took place in 1990-1991, which is rather early for Charlie to be involved unless she enlisted in the army as a very young girl soldier. The second major Iraq War with Western allies, which ended in the fall of Saddam Hussein, finished in 2011, by which time Charlie had been back in civvy street for some time.


Considering the way time can be stretched and compressed in the world of a book, though, there’s no reason she couldn’t have played an active military role in any of the conflicts of the late 1990s or early 2000s. After all, when Robert B Parker wrote the first of the books to feature his classic private detective, Spenser, (THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT, published in 1973) the character was described as a veteran of the Korean War of 1950-1953. This would have made Spenser a somewhat elderly (but still remarkably agile) man by the time the fortieth novel in the series, SIXKILL, came out in 2011, a year after Parker himself died at his desk. However, because book-time was in play Spenser was able to remain ageless to the last, existing in a kind of floating ever-present.


I deliberately did not want to place Charlie into a full-blown military situation in my latest book, FOX HUNTER, as that period of her life belongs in the past. I know Lee Child has returned several times to Jack Reacher’s service as a military cop, but I have already made it clear that Charlie’s time in uniform did not end well, and I didn’t want to take her back there.


Not yet, anyway.


I do intend to return to Charlie’s army past in the project I’m currently working on, which will be a prequel to the series. It will detail not how she came to be thrown out of Special Forces training, but what she had to do in order to be chosen for it in the first place.

But that, as they say, is another story.

For FOX HUNTER, I wanted to take Charlie to the Middle East in general—and Iraq in particular—but in more contemporary, post-war times. I wanted to explore the roles of women in this uncertain and shifting landscape, both those working in the male-dominated profession of the private military contractor, and those living day-to-day amid the threat of violence and retribution. In this situation, Charlie is both an outside observer, able to empathise only too well with victims, and very much an active participant.


By focusing down onto individual stories rather than global themes, I hoped to portray a broader picture of this troubled area, where good and evil are rarely clear cut, and everyone has their own idea of what it means to behave with honour. Somehow, that felt easier to write in such an unsettled location. Having said that, as I read the news reports at home every day I think this story could have been transported back here just as easily.

We live, as the Arab curse has it, in interesting times …

Zoë Sharp was a photojournalist for almost twenty-five years before she quit to write fiction full time. She loves to travel—and has done so by all means including horseback, camel train, motorcycle, yacht, skidoo, and steam locomotive, as well as by more conventional forms of transport. She has so far achieved well over a million words in print, and there’s no sign of her stopping any time soon. www.ZoeSharp.com

Zoe Sharp








#BlogTour #GuestPost #TheManWhoDied by @antti_tuomainen @OrendaBooks #TeamOrenda @annecater

The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen
translated by David Hackston
A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, markinng a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.


Where Do You Get Your Ideas, or, The Anatomy of The Man Who Died

Two things have happened: I have worked very hard for a number of years and I have been, at times, very lucky. Both have been elemental in my becoming a fulltime writer and having written seven novels to date. Of those seven novels, five have been translated from the original Finnish to other languages. One book has been translated into 28 languages with the other four getting anything between 12 and 2 foreign editions per book.

I think no one is more surprised by this than I am. I never expected this. It nevertheless happened and it’s been wonderful. In the beginning, almost surreal. But – and I will eventually get to the point, I promise – what it has also done is getting me invited to other countries. This is where it gets even more surprising. Somebody somewhere is willing to pay for a writer to visit her/his country and talk about – and this is where it gets just downright unbelievable – her/his books. And I have been invited. All over the world. From Mexico to Hong Kong. From Stockholm to San Francisco.

On these numerous trips both home and abroad, I’ve done what has been asked of me and I have indeed talked about my books. Hundreds of times to what must be by now thousands of people. What most often happens after I’ve talked or been interviewed for the allotted time is that there are audience questions. And no matter where I find myself, a few of these questions seem indeed universal: Why do you think Scandinavian crime novels are so successful? Is Finland really that cold? What do you think of (insert here the name of the country you’re just then visiting)? And, of course: Where do you get your ideas?

Now this is where it becomes slightly difficult – never mind the questions about family (I’m married to Anu who is both beautiful and funny), my sobriety (14 years and counting, one day at a time) or money (no, I’m not rich). It gets more complicated because I feel there really isn’t a simple, ready answer. So I usually reply with what feels like the most honest and thought-through statement: I really don’t know. After all, it is to a large extent true. But that of course makes no one any wiser, myself included. So I thought I’d try to answer that question a little more thoroughly here and thought it would be easiest through a case study of sorts: by seeing how my new book The Man Who Died came to be.

My new book The Man Who Died marks a great change of direction for me. After writing five very dark novels ranging from the icy North of The Mine to the dystopia of The Healer I felt I had given all I had in that direction, at least for the time being. I tried to write a few things in the same vein but they felt forced and wrong. I had to do something different, something new. This was the first lightbulb moment. I had to take a step back and do a little inventory.

Two of my great loves, artistically, have been with me ever since I made up my mind about becoming a writer at 18. Noir and comedies. I dearly love them both. And I realized I had been curiously restricting myself. I had held back on the comedy aspect. I don’t know why the realization hit me so hard just then and there but it did. It was quite obvious I needed to combine the two. I needed to write a noir comedy. I was through with restricting myself. You have to write what you have to write. First hurdle cleared.

This led directly to the main character and his dilemma. Every story I’ve ever worked on, I always start with a character/characters. I don’t worry about the plot. Well, not anymore. I used to, but I’ve gotten over it. I trust the characters will show me where to go. I needed a person with the biggest problem and suddenly had him: a man is sitting in a doctor’s office and hears he is dying. That’s a problem, I thought. He’s been poisoned over a long period of time. That’s an even bigger problem. For a good reason, he doesn’t want to go to the police. Perfect, I thought.

I still had a number of problems. One of them was setting. My first idea for the setting of the story was an advertising agency in Helsinki. I was already on page 45 or something like that when I was about to fall asleep. The setting was so boring. I’ve worked altogether 12 years as an advertising copywriter in various advertising agencies and I can assure you that it is nothing like what you see on movies, TV and books. It is not sexy, flashy, dangerous, slick or even very cool. It is work. You enter the agency in the morning, work, leave in the evening. In between, you think, write and speak with people. I would think that applies to quite a few jobs nowadays. Anyway, that setting had to go.

One morning I was walking to my office on the other side of downtown Helsinki. I remembered an article I read a while back. It was the kind of article you see haphazardly, glance your eyes over it and forget it. And I had forgotten it, until just now. The article was a speculation about a certain type of mushroom you can (potentially) find in the Finnish forests that is (presumably) in high demand in the culinary circles in Japan. The article further speculated that if someone in Finland were to pick them and export them that might be a good business.

I called my agent immediately. Not because I wanted to start a mushroom exporting business but because after weeks of desperation I had a suitable setting for the kind of story I was telling. There was something wonderfully absurd about this. In a short time, I built a successful mushroom business – on paper, I mean. I invented a whole operation to make it possible for someone to succeed as a premium mushroom entrepreneur and exporter.

In hindsight, I must have done it quite convincingly because I was later interviewed for the Finnish Mushroom Magazine and many people who were into mushrooms told me that they never would have guessed that I know so much about mushrooms and both the international and the domestic mushroom industry. Truth is, I don’t know anything. There is neither an international nor domestic mushroom industry. I made it up. But, to get back to the original task, this was one more hurdle cleared.

The mushrooms were beneficial in another way as well. In my previous five novels, Helsinki, my home city where I’ve lived all my life apart from a year in the US and a shorter period in Berlin, had been one of the main characters. I had loved writing about Helsinki, showing its many sides, but now that had to go as well. There are no mushrooms on the streets of Helsinki. Well, there are, but they are of the illegal kind.

So the location presented another challenge. But I didn’t have to look far. I found what I was looking for in less than two hours’ drive from Helsinki. I spent my boyhood summers in Hamina, a small town on the Baltic shore, east from Helsinki. To a boy, it was a magical place in the summer months. The sea was everywhere as the town was built on peninsulas and islands. And I knew the town. I knew how it feels, how it is, I knew the streets and the environments. There were the dense forests around it, perfect for mushrooms. And somehow the small town atmosphere was, again, perfect for the kind of story I wanted to tell.

The rest of the answer, I think, lies in the writing, the physical act of sitting down and writing the book. Because that is actually where the ideas really happen. You write to see what you have to write. It might sound a bit simplistic, but it is true. For me, at least. By writing I find what I need to write next. I can think about things no end, but I won’t know if it works unless I write it. The proof is in the pudding, as I’ve heard said.

To conclude: I seem to get my most of my ideas one at a time, gradually. Both by being honest about what I want to do and by seeing what needs to be done in order to achieve that. Secondly, I need to write to see if it can be written at all. And what still remains a mystery is the part that really can’t be explained: Where did this strong urge to change directions come from? Why did I suddenly think about that article? To properly answer the original question seems impossible. But hopefully my little case study has provided some answers. I know I’m a little more aware of the anatomy – both of the novel and my own.

Antti Tuomainen
Antti Tuomainen
Author bio:
Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. The Mine, published in 2016, was an international bestseller. All of his books have been optioned for TV/film. With his piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and The Man Who Died sees him at his literary best.
Authors links:
Twitter: @antti_tuomainen
Website: http://anttituomainen.com/
via publisher: http://orendabooks.co.uk/antti-tuomainen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142432.Antti_Tuomainen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnttiTuomainenOfficial/