#Review The Crow Garden by @Ali_L Alison Littlewood @JoFletcherBooks @QuercusBooks #HistoricalFiction #Literary 4*

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The Crow Garden by Alison Littlewood
Synopsis:

Susan Hill meets Wilkie Collins in Alison Littlewood’s latest chiller. Mad-doctor Nathaniel is obsessed with the beautiful Mrs Harleston – but is she truly delusional? Or is she hiding secrets that should never be uncovered . . . ?

Haunted by his father’s suicide, Nathaniel Kerner walks away from the highly prestigious life of a consultant to become a mad-doctor. He takes up a position at Crakethorne Asylum, but the proprietor is more interested in phrenology and his growing collection of skulls than the patients’ minds. Nathaniel’s only interesting case is Mrs Victoria Adelina – Vita – Harleston: her husband accuses her of hysteria and delusions – but she accuses him of hiding secrets far more terrible.

Nathaniel is increasingly obsessed with Vita, but when he has her mesmerised, there are unexpected results. Vita starts hearing voices, the way she used to – her grandmother always claimed they came from beyond the grave – but it also unleashes her own powers of mesmerism . . . and a desperate need to escape.

Increasingly besotted, Nathaniel finds himself caught up in a world of séances and stage mesmerism in his bid to find Vita and save her.

But constantly hanging over him is this warning: that doctors are apt to catch the diseases with which they are surrounded – whether of the body or the mind . . .

My review:

Welcome to Crakethorne Asylum…………

Set in 1856, this novel offers a literary insight into the world of asylums. It details the ‘inmates’, doctors and a growing relationship between one doctor and his patient, the illusive Mrs Victoria Adelina Harleston.
Crakethorne Asylum is perfectly described, and you feel immersed inside its crumbling walls. Set in northern England, West Riding, Yorkshire. The author has done an outstanding job of portraying the opinions and attitudes held by many in the era.

“The north, despite its bluff inhabitants, austere weather and desolate landscapes, has indeed rather favoured the mad”

Dr Nathaniel Kerner is a new ‘mad doctor’ in post. He has an interesting backstory and is determined to absolve some inner guilt by creating a family legacy. Nathaniel/Nate is idealistic in his approaches and has felt inspired by the nearby York Retreat. He hopes to radicalise mental health. To do away with the notion that Bedlam Asylum has created, that all those considered ‘mad’ are lost causes with no hope of saviour.
He begins his post under the watchful eye of Dr Algernon Chettle. The Asylum houses 39 ‘inmates’ of various conditions. From epilepsy, to female hysteria and a child patient whom believes he is a dog!

“All physicians face the risk of succumbing to the diseases they battle” Dr Chettle

“Guard your mind – or you may discover one day it is entirely lost, and you may not find it again!” Dr Chettle

Mrs Harleston arrives with her husband, she has an interesting backstory and you become fascinated with her plight. Is she mentally ill? Is she manipulating the inexperienced Dr Kerner? Why is her husband so abrupt and callous towards the staff?
Mrs Harleston forms question after question, in the readers mind. But not just the reader, Dr Kerner’s fascination is also growing day by day………….

The novel details the workings of the asylum. The class structure, treatments available and meagre privileges afforded to the mentally ill. The other ‘inmates’ lives are detailed, almost as if you are reading their patient files. The chapters themselves include patients note/observations and entries from the doctor’s journals.
Which makes for brilliant reading!
Dr Chettle is obsessed with the physiology study. A study which believes a person’s afflictions can be predicted from their skull etc. A bizarre study but reflective of the era.

Dr kerner becomes convinced that talking therapy would work best with Mrs Harleston. That simply breaking down the walls of her defence, will provide a solution or cure to her current crisis.
As their conversations develop, I began to wonder, who is teaching who?

“How much of a woman’s life, do you think is spent being buried alive?” – Mrs harleston

Various therapies are explored with Mrs Harleston and each give an insight into her psyche. Her childhood, marriage and outlook on life are all fully explored. Other characters are slowly introduced into the story, they provided added deception, scandal and lies. I was glued to the page.
Then suddenly one dark evening, Mrs Harleston disappears………..

Who is the threat to Mrs Harleston? Or is she a danger to herself? Can Dr Kerner find her and return her to the asylum? Where/who would a woman with the odds stacked against her run to?

“The weight of society and authority was all on his side, what proof could I offer” Mrs Harleston

A fantastic historical fiction novel, offering an insight into mental health in the Victorian era. I think the ending is one for much discussion, but may leave some readers baffled.
I would be delighted to read more by this author!
Recommended.

AL
Alison Littlewood
Authors links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alison.littlewood.3?ref=tn_tnmn
Twitter: @Ali_L
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4655152.Alison_Littlewood
Website: http://www.alisonlittlewood.co.uk/

Author bio:
Alison Littlewood was raised in Penistone, South Yorkshire, and went on to attend the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (now Northumbria University). Originally she planned to study graphic design, but “missed the words too much” and switched to a joint English and History degree. She followed a career in marketing before developing her love of writing fiction.

Alison Littlewood’s latest novel is The Crow Garden, a tale of obsession set amidst Victorian asylums and séance rooms. It follows The Hidden People, a Victorian tale about the murder of a young girl suspected of being a fairy changeling. Alison’s other novels include A Cold Silence, Path of Needles, The Unquiet House and Zombie Apocalypse! Acapulcalypse Now. Her first book, A Cold Season, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club and described as ‘perfect reading for a dark winter’s night.’

Alison’s short stories have been picked for Best British Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. They have been gathered together in her collections Quieter Paths and in Five Feathered Tales, a collaboration with award-winning illustrator Daniele Serra. She won the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for Short Fiction.

Alison lives with her partner Fergus in deepest Yorkshire, England, in a house of creaking doors and crooked walls. She loves exploring the hills and dales with her two hugely enthusiastic Dalmatians and has a penchant for books on folklore and weird history, Earl Grey tea and semicolons.

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Available now in Ebook and hardback. 

#Review #NewRelease Brighter Days Ahead by @Authormary 5* Mary Wood @panmacmillan #Saga #ww2Fiction

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*

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Brighter Days Ahead by Mary Wood
Synopsis:

War pulled them apart, but can it bring them back together?

Molly lives with her repugnant father, who has betrayed her many times. From a young age, living on the
streets of London’s East End, she has seen the harsh realities of life . . . When she’s kidnapped by a gang and forced into their underworld, her future seems bleak.

Flo spent her early years in an orphanage, and is about to turn her hand to teacher training. When a kindly teacher at her school approaches her about a job at Bletchley Park, it could be everything she never knew she wanted.

Will the girls’ friendship be enough to weather the hard times ahead?

My review:

Brighter Days Ahead, is a saga by genre, but it tackles some thoroughly complex and very modern themes. Mary Wood has shown that she is not afraid to tackle the reality of the era. The attitudes and social behaviours are thoroughly explored. From the harsh domestic violence scenes, to the pre-LGBTQ generation, this novel has layers of depth.

The novel focuses around two young women, struggling to make their way in a male dominated society. However, the outbreak of world war 2, saw more women than ever before, enter the work place. For the first time in a very long time, women were staring to see equality on the horizon.
This novel tells the personal story of two of those women and their journey towards that horizon……

Molly is from the unforgiving east end of London. She has a brute and drunkard for a father, who with his roaming hands, makes life unbearable. The novel details her backstory, the man she holds a torch for, her best friend and her god-awful father’s decline into criminality.
It is when she is kidnapped by local black market racketeers, that she learns just how cruel, violent and barbaric, life can truly be!

“Please, god, don’t let what happened to Phyllis’s mate happen to me….. please!” – Molly

In Leeds we meet orphan Flo (Florence), who has not had the easiest starts to life. Flo is determined to make something of her life. She is intelligent, caring and hard working. When her night school tutor Mr Dinkworth (Roland), offers her a glimmer of hope with a potential job at Bletchley Park.
Roland is a fascinating character all my himself! Roland has a secret love, a love so powerful, the generation simply wasn’t ready for its acceptance.
Roland has a lover at Bletchley and his name is Simon……..

The novel revolves around the main two protagonists Molly and Flo. But the background characters are simply too strong to be held in the backstory and the novel, then details all of their journeys throughout the war. This unusual mix of friends and their individual stories, makes for extremely interesting reading.
Molly has a crush on her employer’s son David. But with David being of the Jewish faith, there is little hope for romance. Hettie, Molly’s closest friend and confidant, pushes the two together which leads to a surprising twist.
Roland and Simon must live a life of the upper most secrecy. Which means involving Flo and Simon’s half-sister Lucinda into their secret. With Lucinda as a cover story, the two men manage to arrange secret liaisons. That is until Kitty Hamlin decides to out them! When you think of the social and criminal repercussions for gay men in the 1940s, you wince with every comment that leaves Kitty’s mouth.
It is an outing that will lead to violence and heartbreak.

The novel details the hardships faced by women and gay men in an honest, realistic portrayal. All the characters will come to face great hardships, emotional pain and suffering. But it is their resilience and triumph over adversity that drives the narrative. The power of strong bonds of friendship and hope for a brighter future after the war.
This saga really is a blend of contemporary themes such as gay rights, but set within the ww2 era. It shows the power of two women, whom refuse to give up or ‘know their place’. It really is an incredibly read and definitely one to curl up with on the sofa over the Christmas period.

Perfect for fans of sagas, historical fiction and the world war two era.
Not to be missed! 5*

MW
Mary Wood
Authors links:
Twitter: @Authormary
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HistoricalNovels
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4336970.Mary_Wood
Website: https://www.authormarywood.com/

Author bio:
Born the thirteenth child of fifteen to a middle-class mother and an East End barrow boy, My childhood was a mixture of love and poverty. This encouraged me to develop a natural empathy with the less fortunate and a fascination with social history.

I was educated at St Peter’s RC School, where, at the time, the emphasis was on instilling the 3 R’s plus 1 – Reading, Writing, Arithmatic and Religion. When I left school, I was ill-equipt for a future career, as most girls of my background were. Life had to become a learning curve.

Mine took the path of factory work, then office work as I learnt to type and write words in little squiggles. After marriage, cleaning, catering and pub jobs fitted in best with family life, as did party planning – Tupperware and Pippa Dee. There was later a stint in the caring industry, and then pub and hotel management. Until finally, I went back to my office skills and through an agency, worked in the office of the Probation Service. When a post for admin became vacant I was offered it, and from there rose to be a Community Service Officer and finally a Probation Service Officer. This took me to retirement, from 9-5. However, there ws no stopping me. Through most of this time I had been writing and trying to get publsihed, now I could spend much more time pursuing that dream.

I met my husband, Roy when I was just fourteen and he was nineteen. In 1963 we married and have four children, eight grandchildren, and five step grandchildren. Great granchildren, and step great grandchildren, is an ever changing number as we welcome more each year. Each one is a blessing and enhances our lives.

An avid reader, I first put pen to paper in 1989 whilst nursing my mother through her last months, but only became successful in receiving rejection letters, until the dawning of kindle and the innovation it offered to authors to self-publish their work.

At last, I could call myself an author! And a very successful one at that, as my books soared to the top of their genre.

This changed my life. I was living as an ordinary pensioner, eeking out our pensions, and the little I could earn by freelancing as a Creative Writing Editor, and wasn’t even able to afford to run a car – I loved my bus-pass…. Then another author encouraged me to put my work on kindle, and suddenly, I was doing what I loved – telling stories, and earning money for doing so! My life changed as now I could fulfil another dream – to live in Spain for half of the year.

I love to travel. I go to many places in the world on holiday and more importantly, to carry out my research. All of this was now open to me. But more was to come:

In 2013, I was spotted by Pan Macmillan Publishers and offered a seven book deal!!!

This entailed, two new books and all of my five backlist. To date, two backlist have been published in paperback and two new novels.

I have since been given a further two book deal.

Two of my books a year are being published. Below are the ones that are in the shops now – WH Smiths and some supermarkets as well as all good book stores.

My most successful kindle book, An Unbreakable Bond, is coming out May 19th 2016. This book is a sequel to To Catch A Dream. And then, In November/December 2016, In Their Mother’s Footsteps, will be published. This book is a sequel to All I Have To Give.

I began my career writing northern sagas along the lines of Catherine Cookson, whom I loved and admired. Now I have branched out and write thrilling novels with a wartime setting. I usually set these novels in London, the north, and with a fair bit of the action happening in France, and Poland.

I would say that I am a gritty writer, who takes her readers to live the situations my characters find themselves in. Parts of my books are not for the feint-hearted. I bring my stories alive, and take my reader into the depth of them. I would feel as though I am letting my characters and my readers down if I didn’t do this, so be prepared to feel many emotions as you read my novels. Be prepared too, to tackle issues head on, to fight in world war one and world war two as if you are that nurse, that munition worker, that special agent. And in my northern sagas, be ready to experience what it was like to be a woman, in an era when it is was thought that there was no such thing as rape, and domestic violence was a man’s right to keep his missus in check. But you will also see the downtrodden triumph, and the just win through. I hope you enjoy my books. I hope too, that you will become a friend. Much love, Mary x

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Available now in kindle and paperback!  

#Review and Q&A Blood Truth by @coylem @oceanviewpub #AmericanNoir 4* #NewRelease

*I received an arc via the publisher is return for an honest review*

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Blood Truth by Matt Coyle
Synopsis:

A hard-boiled PI novel for fans of Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald and Dashiell Hammett.

Rick Cahill has long feared the truth about his own blood—the blood of his father coursing through his veins.

When a long-hidden safe unlocks clues about why his father was kicked off the police force twenty-seven years ago and then spiraled into an early drunken death, Rick determines to find the truth even if it proves the one thing he’s always feared.

But as he grapples with his father’s past, the woman he still loves pleads with him to find out if her husband is having an affair—or is involved in something much more sinister. Could the truth send her back into Rick’s arms? Would he have a last shot at happiness? He may never get the chance to find out, as killers who will do anything to protect their secrets lurk in the shadows.

My review:

I am completely new to the writing of Matt Coyle, but I am a huge fan of American noir. I love the crime fiction novels that revolve around specific divisions of the justice system or like this one, feature an intriguing PI.
Rick Cahill is the (PI) private investigator, he is the son of a rumoured disgraced police officer. Nobody has ever uncovered the truth, and this has burdened Cahill all his life. He deals with feelings of shame and self-hatred.
He longs to discover the truth but fears what that truth maybe………..

“We can’t quit just because things get hard” – Cahill motto

This novel covers two separate cases. The novels narrative jumps between the two, keeping you firmly on your toes.
You do not want to miss clues and the backstory, so play close attention to the writing.

The first case revolves around Cahill’s father. He is alerted that a safe exists in the family’s old home. The home was sold off many years previously. But the new owner tracks down the original owner of the safe, Cahill’s father.
Which in turn, leads to Cahill opening the safe……
What he finds, generates so many questions and confirms the inner belief, that his father was a dirty cop. But Cahill, being Cahill, wont rest until he can prove his theories.
No matter how painful they are.

The second case involves Cahill’s ex-lover Kim. She seeks to hire Cahill to spy on her husband and find out if he is being unfaithful. This also creates internal pain for Cahill, as Kim was the one that got away!
She is now married and pregnant. However, days after a positive pregnancy test, she finds her husbands second phone. A series of texts sent to a woman named Sophia Domingo. But who is Sophia Domingo? Is her husband really having an affair, so early in their marriage?
Kim needs answers, so she hires Cahill, as she knows he is the best in town, at what he does.
Rick Cahill’s characterisation is brilliantly written. The back story of his father’s career end and plight into alcoholism, makes for eye-opening reading. He has always believed that, sometimes you have to do what’s right, even if the law says it’s wrong, but never for personal gain. I felt that his internal struggle was that in some way, he would become his father. He feels great shame of the man his father became after the loss of his career.
The writing of this and how it has impacted Cahill’s life from childhood, to adolescence to adulthood, is intense.

Sophia Domingo and the mysterious affair. A case that also throws up more and more twists. I actually really liked Sophia as a character. She is a feisty woman, determined to get what she wants in life. She doesn’t care for who she hurts in the process. Sophia is quite the anomaly, because despite her behaviour being distasteful. I found myself smirking at the way she manipulates people with ease.
I also think it is a great testament to an author, who can write such a different bunch of characters exceptionally well.

The items found in the safe, lead Cahill to a cold case from 27 years ago. A cold case with ties to the mob, police corruption and caused much suffering for all it effected. Cahill asks his PI partner Moira for her, something she may come to regret! Moira is another fantastically written character and I enjoyed every page she was on!
Cahill refuses to back away from the case. But he is unaware it will strike right at the heart of the La Jolla police department; uncovering corruption others would prefer to stay buried with Cahill’s father.
Was Charles Henry Cahill a dirty cop? Where will the clues in the safe, lead Cahill? Who is watching Cahill? And do they seek to silence him forever?

This novel is perfect for fans of American hard-boiled PI novels.
It is a cracking read and Rick Cahill and Matt Coyle, have a new fan!

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I’m the author of the Rick Cahill crime series. The series has won the Anthony, Ben Franklin Silver, and San Diego book Awards and been nominated for The Macavity, Shamus, and Lefty Awards. I’ve worked in the restaurant, golf, and sports collectibles businesses. Although I knew I wanted to write crime fiction as a kid when my father gave me THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER by Raymond Chandler, I came to writing later in life.

BLOOD TRUTH is the fourth Rick Cahill book. Rick has long feared the truth about his own blood, the blood of his father coursing through his veins. When a long-hidden safe unlocks clues about why his father was kicked off the police force and then spiralled into an early drunken death, Rick searches for the truth even if it proves the one thing he’s always feared.

As Rick grapples with his father’s past, the woman he still loves pleads with him to discover if her husband is having an affair or is involved in something much darker.

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

A) The mystery about his father had been hovering over Rick since the first book, YESTERDAY’S ECHO. The shame, guilt, and disappointment of his father’s demise has been a determining factor in who Rick has become, good and bad. I knew the mystery had to be solved at some point and felt this book was the perfect place to do it. That was made all the more poignant when my own father passed shortly before I started writing the book. With my father’s passing, the flashback scenes of Rick with his father caused me to think about my own relationship with my dad. This made for a difficult, but, ultimately, very rewarding write.

The father/son journey figured to be enough for one book, but I wanted Rick to have other obstacles to overcome as he tried to unravel his father’s mystery. It made sense to have Kim, Rick’s ex-girlfriend involved as she was one of the few people in Rick’s life who he’d ever loved.

I don’t outline. My process is very organic. In other words, I’m disorganised. That used to worry me, but doesn’t anymore as I’ve come to trust the process. My subconscious works overtime when I write and I’ve learned to trust it. This method proved helpful in BLOOD TRUTH, as the thematic connection between the parallel plots became apparent to me with a simple statement by Kim that initially was just a chapter ender but came to have much greater influence on the story.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) My favorites go way back to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Sir Author Conan Doyle, Chandler and Ross Macdonald. Contemporary favorites are Robert Crais, T. Jefferson Parker, Michael Connelly, and Megan Abbott.
A few recommends are: THE SUN ALSO RISES, by Hemingway, SILENT JOE, by T. Jefferson Parker, and SUSPECT by Robert Crais.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) My brother gave me THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATED SHERLOCK HOLMES for Christmas one year and I read every tiny-fonted story in the tome. I also read all the Agatha Christie books I could get my hands on.

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

A) The night I won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel still stands out as my favorite memory. Winning the award was obviously a thrill, but I got to celebrate it with people who had been instrumental in me being in that position. My agent, Kimberley Cameron, who said yes to me after years of so many others saying no and who continues to be a wonderful advocate for my work, was sitting next to me when the award was announced. My publishers at Oceanview, who gave an unknown author with no writing creds and no platform a chance, were in the audience, as was a member of my writers group who had helped shape YESTERDAY’S ECHO into something publishable. Having those folks, as well as other friends, there to celebrate was truly special.

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

A) My family has been very supportive along the way. My mother, who never lived to see me published or even get an agent, always believed in me. My father supported me throughout, but his early encouragement was instrumental in me carrying on through some of the tough times. My brother and sisters have turned into guerrilla marketers of my books.
I learned early on in the writing process that you can’t write in a cocoon and become successful. You need people to critique your work along the way and I’ve been lucky to be in some great writers groups.
My agent, part cheerleader, part velvet hammer, is always in my corner encouraging me. I wouldn’t be where I am without her.

MC
Matt Coyle
Authors Links:
http://mattcoylebooks.com/
https://www.facebook.com/matt.coyle.77
Twitter: @coylem

Author bio:
I grew up in the tract home section of La Jolla, California, battling my Irish/Portuguese brother and sisters for respect and the best spot on the couch in front of the TV. I was a sports addict as a kid, but realized early on that I’d never be good enough to turn pro. Or even amateur.

That didn’t matter because I knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of twelve when my father gave me The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler.

Somehow, I smuggled a degree in English out of the University of California, Santa Barbara and decided to write the great American novel. That lasted two months until I realized I needed to eat and I got a job at a restaurant back in La Jolla. After managing the restaurant for years, I sold golf clubs for a decade and then went to work in the sports collectible business.

Thirty years after beginning the great American novel I finished it as a thriller, instead. Yesterday’s Echo is the first in the series of Rick Cahill crime novels. I’m currently working on book two in San Diego, where I live with my Yellow Lab, Angus.

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.

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Blood Truth by Matt Coyle
Available now in the UK and USA

#BlogTour @urbanebooks 12 Days Of Christmas. Q&A with @ggaffa David Gaffney #Author of, All The Places I’ve Ever Lived

9781911331063
All The Places I’ve Ever Lived by David Gaffney
Synopsis:

Part murder ballad, part ghost story, part true crime, All The Places I’ve Ever Lived takes you on a gripping journey from the small-town murder of a teenage girl in the 1970s to the recent real-life shootings in Whitehaven, West Cumbria. Are the crimes linked? Fifteen-year-old Barry Dyer may have the answers, but when events impact so horrifically on a town and its people, it always pays to tread carefully when revealing the truth…

Quirky, disturbing, and haunting, All The Places I’ve Ever Lived is a moving and tender exploration of a teenage outsider in a small community, as well as being a finely wrought portrayal of the neglected industrial settlements of West Cumbria, where nuclear plants, thermometer factories and chemical works contrast vividly with the desolate beauty of the Lake District.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I grew up in a remote part of the north of England called west cumbria where not much happens and hardly anyone goes. It’s not the lake district. And it’s not touristy or developed for visitors – no tea shops or scented candle emporiums It’s a bit grim and industrial to be honest. There is a big nuclear plant on the coast and some old iron ore mines and lots of other old defunct factories dotted about. But I really like it.

I always think that being brought up there formed my desire to write and tell stories about being on the edge, being outside of things, being different. So this book began as way of talking about Cleator Moor, the town where I was brought up, and trying to explain what it was like as a teenager to live in the middle of nowhere, in a place no one has heard of. But as well as this, I wanted to explore something else. When I was young I developed a skin condition called psoriasis which although it is quite common and harmless, it was quite debilitating for a teenage to have something disfiguring like that all over your skin when you are going through adolescence, and it had a big psychological effect on me, which I also think informed my being drawn into creative pursuits like music and writing.

I also discovered that other writers and creative people suffered from psoriasis too – John Updike, Dennis Potter, Ben Elton, Tom Waits, Gordon Lish (Raymond Carver’s editor) Art Garfunkel – even Nabakov apparently. I was in great company I thought – although they do say Stalin had it as well.

So I began to write about the psoriasis. However, I didn’t want the main character to be a sad little victim, moaning all the time about his poor skin, how special he was, and isn’t life awful. So I turned the skin condition into a kind supernatural thing – a covering of metal studs – which linked him to a sexy ghost and made him able to travel through time. I wanted his skin condition to be more like a superpower than a disability. And that’s how the books works. It links two crimes together over a period of thirty years – the murder of a teenage girl in Cleator Moor in the seventies and the multiple shootings by a taxi driver in west cumbria in 2010 who killed13 people including himself.

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

A) The book began as a very short novella but my agent at the time felt it could be improved by adding more detail about life in the town in the 1970s. And if it were longer, he said, it was likely to be be more successful. I agreed to write more and I added a further 20k words to the total, including more scenes at the boy’s school, scenes in the local church, a scene with a priest, a scene where they run away and sleep in a barn, and in general more texture and detail. It seems from feedback that people do really like these extra sections and so it turned out to have been a good move to extend the middle of the book in that way. I normally write very short stories (flash fiction) and I have a tendency towards the minimalist. But when writing a novel I feel there is a need to create a fuller world that readers can immerse themselves in, enable them to wallow in the reality of it. I think that more texture and detail about the world you are creating really helps. It feels like the budget on a film being increased so that there are more locations, more extras, more background action, and more believable props and costumes. I realised that with a novel, money is no object, so it isn’t necessary to have the same boy repeatedly cycling past on a chopper bike in the background to remind us we are in the seventies; we can have a cast of thousands. So, after that rewrite, I then sent the book to Urbane and they agreed to put it out. Mathew at Urbane has been just great. He worked closely with me on the cover which we were both really pleased with, and then he took the whole thing to market in a really clever way. It hasn’t been an easy sell because the mass shootings which the book focusses around were very recent, so many media outlets just haven’t felt able to discuss it.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I am a massive fan of Magnus Mills so would recommend everything by him

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I’d like to say that the first book that really got me interested in writing was something like Camus or Beckett. But it was actually Billy Liar a novel by Keith Waterhouse which I read and re-read when I was very young and it always made a big impression. Before that I thought all novels were Victorian and set in London and all about people of wealth; this story of a working class lad in Yorkshire made me realise what writing could do

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

A) It’s seeing someone on a train or in a shop picking up your book and watching their face as they read a little bit. Its not always a good expression I have to say.

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

A) I am part of a writing group ann all the members encouraged me and gave me detailed critical feedback on the work as it was in progress – so thanks to Elizabeth Baines, Sarah Butler, Sarah- Clare Conlon and Adrian Slatcher for all their help

David Gaffney, writer
David Gaffney
Authors Links:
Website: http://www.davidgaffney.org.uk
Twitter: @ggaffa

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#BlogTour #GuestPost #Location Tall Chimneys by @Alliescribbler Allie Cresswell @rararesources

Tall Chimneys - Cover image
Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell
Synopsis:

Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.
Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder.

Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself.

A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.
One woman, one house, one hundred years.
Publication Date: 12th December 2017

Guest post:

Location
There is nothing better than a book with an evocative, tangible setting. What would Wuthering Heights be without the brooding moor? What a loss the teeming streets of London and the busy banks of the Thames would be to Dickens’ novels. Anthony Trollope is the master of fictional geography. His imaginary county Barsetshire takes on a life on its own in his novels.

I think location should be authentic. If a writer sets his novel in Dallas he needs to know the geography, the street lay-out, the whereabouts of the rail terminus and the police station. You can be sure, if he gets it wrong, a reader will point it out to him, and rightly so. If readers are to engage with our stories we must make them believable. Similarly, if a writer uses an imaginary setting, that, too, must be plausible and consistent, so that readers can immerse themselves in it. Any wrong note will jar, and break the spell. I don’t know if you recall the film Somewhere in Time? A man literally wills himself back in time seventy or so years, transporting himself bodily through the power of his mind, but the discovery of a modern coin in his pocket breaks his concentration and he is yanked back to the present. This is not an experience we writers want for our readers!

Location should also be dynamic – it must exert an influence on the plot and the characters, or else, what is the point of it? It must be much more than a flat and immutable canvas. It must breathe and ripple and play a part. I might almost say it should be a character itself – changing, developing, vital, unpredicatable.

Location plays a large part in my latest novel, Tall Chimneys. It is set in Yorkshire, in a rural community hemmed in by moor. It is a beautiful setting, very painterly, and I introduced an artist, John Cressing, to render its colours and textures. The house itself is located in a peculiar depression in the moor, a sort of crater, surrounded by trees and invisible to the passer by. I wanted a sense of seclusion, for it to be outside of modern progress and almost outside of time itself. I hoped the house and the woman would be in a sort of vacuum, their close kinship fermented by their utter isolation. But I found the amphitheatre-like setting did occasionally echo with strains of the modern world – I couldn’t keep it out entirely. So the rise of the Fascists in the 1930s, the abdication crisis and WW2 do find their way to Tall Chimneys. The house is a shelter to the woman but it is also a huge burden of responsibility. At one point she asks herself if it is a refuge or a prison.

I have always been fascinated by houses and I wanted Tall Chimneys to have a vivid presence in the book, to be a character itself. It exerts a strange influence on Evelyn, my protagonist. In another of my books, Relative Strangers, a dysfunctional family spends a week at a country house and it acts as a crucible for all their resentments and misplaced loyalties. With all its many rooms and labyrinthine passageways, there is nowhere to hide and the family’s secrets come spilling out with tragic results. In The Hoarder’s Widow, a woman has become almost imprisoned in her house, fenced in by the towering piles of furniture and rubbish accumulated by her compulsive hoarder husband. In each case, the location of the stories – the houses and their surrounding environments – are authentic – I drew out their floorplans and gardens and localities so that I would be sure to be consistent. Each plays a part in the plots, influencing events, so they are dynamic too. I hope each is more than just bricks and mortar in the readers’ minds. I hope, like every good location, they reach out and grab the imagination, and draw the reader in.

Tall Chimneys - Allie Cresswell
Allie Cresswell
Author Bio
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, one granddaughter and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.
Tall Chimneys is the sixth of her novels to be published.

Author links:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/
Website – http://allie-cresswell.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Alliescribbler

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