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Q&A with #Author @hollyseddon @CorvusBooks @randomhouse

Cover #1
Try Not Too Breathe by Holly Seddon
Synopsis:

You won’t be able to put it down.
Just remember to breathe.

Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…

DCYE packshot
Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon
Synopsis:

Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…

And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship…

Q&A:

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

A) I’m a British author, living in Amsterdam with my family. My background is in journalism (the softer end, I’m too wimpy for hard news) and my first book Try Not to Breathe was published in January 2016.

Don’t Close Your Eyes is my second novel and follows the story of Robin and Sarah, non-identical twins split apart in childhood through their parents’ actions, and now living fractured and frightening lives. With danger knocking on Robin’s door and Sarah experiencing unbearable loss, they need each other more than ever.

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

A) Well, I think the path to debut publication is fairly well known. You send a synopsis and sample (usually three chapters) to agents, hopefully one or more will request a full manuscript and hopefully one or more will offer to represent you. They will then work on the manuscript with you, giving you editorial notes, and then when it’s ready, it will be submitted to publishers to see who will offer a book deal. That’s a very whistle-stop and optimistic version, but perhaps the path to second book publication is less well known?

With traditional publishers, you will generally get a two-book deal, as was the case with me. When you’re negotiating this, only one book will generally already exist but it’s quite common to include a paragraph or a longer outline of a potential book two. So the idea is often already known to the publisher, although you may end up doing a completely different book when the time comes.

I think most people have a close working relationship with their agents, and I certainly trust my agent immensely so I run ideas past her before I start to write. With Don’t Close Your Eyes, I wrote quite a detailed outline and refined it with both my agent and my editor before I started writing because there was quite a tight deadline and, with three school aged kids, a young baby and no childcare at the time, living in a brand new city, I didn’t have any cushioning to make a false start.

The fact is, as always, the finished first draft developed in its own direction a little but it had more or less followed the basic outline.

I then edited based on my agent’s notes (she has an amazing editorial eye) and then we sent it to my editor. From there, we went through several rounds of edits, chiselling away (in some parts, hacking and sawing) until it was ready. Alongside this, at the publisher, they will be looking at ideal publication dates, covers, maybe even title changes. All of my books have had their titles changed… I’m bad at titles.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Non-fiction wise, I love everything by Augusten Burroughs. I recommend starting with Running With Scissors, then Dry, then Lust and Wonder, and then anything and everything else that he’s written.

I adored Annaliese Mackintosh’s first story collection (part fiction, part autobiography) Any Other Mouth and am excited to start reading her first full novel, So Happy It Hurts.

I also really love the old mystery masters, I have a huge compendium of Sherlock Holmes stories that I’m very slowly working through.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) As a child, I read everything I could get my hands on. I loved The Famous Five, The Ghost of Thomas Kempe, The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tile, anything with adventure or ghosts.

As an angry, grumpy, emotional teenager it’s probably par for the course than I loved 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and of course, a little before that, I loved Judy Blume. Than god for Judy Blume when you’re 13.

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

A) When Augusten Burroughs tweeted a screenshot of my book and said nice things about it. It was out of the blue and I freaked out with excitement so much that my husband misunderstood and thought something terrible had happened. You know when a dog gets in a panic and spins around, whining and howling? It was a bit like that.

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

A) My husband has always been very supportive and encouraging, he’s always been my champion way before I did anything to merit it. And I’m very lucky with the good friends that I have, the ones that long predate any of this. I love them like family.

But I don’t think it can be understated how nourishing and rewarding and just bloody reassuring it is to have a group of writers you can call friends. People who understand exactly what each weird cycle of this mad and exhilarating process is like.

Holly Seddon bw
Holly Seddon
Authors Links:
Web site: www.hollyseddon.com
Twitter: (https://twitter.com/hollyseddon) @hollyseddon
Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/hollyseddonauthor/)
Instagram: (https://www.instagram.com/hollyseddonauthor).
Goodreads: (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9885531.Holly_Seddon)

 

 

#Review #TheBookOfMemory by @VascoDaGappah Petina Gappah @FaberBooks

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The Book Of Memory by Petina Gappah
Synopsis:

The story you have asked me to tell begins not with the ignominious ugliness of Lloyd’s death but on a long-ago day in April when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man. I say my father and my mother, but really it was just my mother.

Memory, the narrator of The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

My Review:

I have just devoured this novel, in 2hrs on a lazy Sunday morning! I keep day dreaming with thoughts on the themes and mostly my ability to assume the worst within the narrative. I rarely jump to conclusions in novels, I simply let the author tell the story. But with this novel I made false assumptions time and time again!
Which meant when I finally turned the last page, I was left stunned with so much to contemplate.

The novel opens with the protagonist Memory, narrating her life in Chikurubi jail. We hear the life stories of her fellow prisoners and the day to day struggle of like in prison. When we finally get to memory’s life story, it is one that will leave you shocked and saddened. Memory was sold by her parents to a wealthy white man, at just 9yrs old. After a childhood marred by evil spirits, curses and the family shame of being born albino. Memory carries the social stigma of being albino her entire life and even in jail, she is whispered about and mocked. I had so many questions, why did her parents sell her? Was there motivation, purely financially based? What are the intentions of a man whom buys a child? Would this lead to more misery and pain for Memory?

“In the years that followed, my feelings for Lloyd went through a complex spectrum that took in fear, affection, anger and revulsion, gratitude and, ultimately, pity”

All I can say, as I refuse to leave spoilers, is my initial assumptions were completely and utterly wrong! But to understand the full extent of the rich/poor divide.
The cultural aspects that make such a situation occur and the why Memory is languishing on death row.
You simply have to read her story……

Memory deals with her childhood loss of identity, her new life in jail and the painful relationships of her past, throughout her story. It is incredibly powerful, moving and emotive novel. From the final 30/40 pages I didn’t move a single muscle.
Highly recommended 4*

PG
Petina Gappah
Authors links:
Via Faber Books: https://www.faber.co.uk/author/petina-gappah/
Twitter: @VascoDaGappah

 

Q&A with Ed Duncan @pigeonbloodred #Author of Pigeon-Blood Red & #Chapter3Extract

BOOK COVER 1 BACK COVER
Pigeon- Blood Red by Ed Duncan
synopsis:

For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.

As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

Q&A:

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

 

A) Regarding my background, I grew up in Gary Indiana, which is about 30 miles east of Chicago.  At one time Gary was home to the largest steel mill in the country, and I worked there during some of the summers while I was in college. After graduation from high school, I went to Oberlin College, where I majored in Spanish.  Following college, I entered North western University Law School.  The main campus is in Evanston, Illinois but the law school and medical school are located in downtown Chicago just north and east of Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile.

.Upon graduation from law school I accepted an offer to become an associate at, by 1974 standards, a large Cleveland law firm.  In due course I became a partner and practiced for 37 years before retiring in 2012.  In 2008 I wrote a legal text entitled Ohio Insurance Coverage,, a reference work for lawyers and judges.  I updated that book annually through 2012.  I had thought  about writing fiction for years but I could never find the time.  Once I retired, I had the time, which I’ve devoted to writing and traveling.

The plot of my novel, Pigeon-Blood Red, may be summarized as follows:  In this interracial tale an underworld enforcer in pursuit of a stolen pigeon-blood red ruby necklace worth millions trails the thief, a businessman, from Chicago to Honolulu, but the chase goes sideways after the hardened hit man develops a grudging respect for a couple of innocent bystanders who accidentally become embroiled in the crime:  the thief’s unsuspecting wife, who is a college professor, and an old flame, who is a partner in a big Chicago law firm.  The enforcer, a “killer with a conscience,” must decide whether to follow orders and kill them or spare them and endanger the life of the woman he loves.

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

A) Pigeon-Blood Red is my first novel.  It was inspired by a trip I made to Honolulu about two decades ago.  I was attending a legal seminar when, during an evening stroll around the hotel grounds, the idea for the novel came to me.  At that point the premise was inchoate and barely an idea.  I saw in my mind’s eye a mysterious, alluring woman in danger and on the run from someone or something, and I saw a stranger (a lawyer, of course) coming to her rescue (or trying to).  That was it.  Over the ensuing months and years the stranger I envisioned was transformed into an old college classmate of the woman who had a crush on her when both were students almost two decades earlier.  The reason the woman was in danger became that, unwittingly, she had come into possession of the priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace stolen by her estranged husband.

As I mentioned, I didn’t find time to finish my novel until I retired, but I worked on it in spurts over many years.  I initially tried the traditional route of sending out multiple query letters to agents.  After numerous rejections, I found a small independent publisher.  The experience was not a happy one.  Within a few months following publication, the publisher went out of business.  I then self-published and contracted with a very good publicist to generate reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and multiple blogger sites on the internet.  Fortunately, most reviews have been positive.

Q)  What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Some of my favorite authors are Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, James Jones, Somerset Maugham, Richard Wright, Ken Follett, Theodore Dreiser, Scott Turow, Dennis Lehane, Walter Mosley, Frederick Forsythe, and Le Child.  My favorite genre is crime fiction.  My favorite authors in that genre are Dashiell Hammett and Lee Child.  Three crime novels I’d recommend are Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, and Killing Floor by Lee Child. As to literary novels, I’d recommend An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser and How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. Finally, nonfiction books I’d recommend are A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton and The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. (I’m a Civil War buff!)

Q)  What are your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) My favorite childhood/teenage favorite reads are The Catcher in the Rye and Great Expectations.

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

A) My favorite moment was a simple one.  It was when I received my first hard copy in the mail and saw my name on the book.  After all the years of thinking about the novel and working on it, at first sporadically and later intensely, this was concrete evidence that my novel was finished and was available for the world (or much of it!) to enjoy.  It was a heady time.

 I would have to give that honor to my three adult children who have been both first readers and proof readers.  My son has been particularly supportive because he too is a writer.  One day I hope to see his work published as well.

ED DUNCAN
Ed Duncan

Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy. To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/

 

Connect with Ed on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Chapter 3 #Extract:

Robert sat back and felt something lodged in the crack between the cushions. He reached behind him and pulled it out. It was the pouch Litvak had entrusted to Rico. He slowly removed its contents. The snippets of conversation he’d heard now made sense. Litvak had removed this from his safe. It looked expensive. But how valuable was it? He looked up. Rico was heading back to the car. He returned the necklace to the pouch and slipped it into his sock.

When Rico opened the door, Jerry was still laughing. “You told him?” Rico asked.

Jerry cleared his throat and managed to restrain his laughter. “He said it sounded sick to him.”

“Nobody’s ever said that before,” Rico said.

His tone was a little too serious for Robert. He quickly explained, “I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Life’s too short,” Rico said. “She has a nice body, doesn’t she?”

“I guess so,” Robert said.

“You guess?” Jerry said.

“Then, yes,” Robert said.

“She works hard to keep it that way,” Rico said. “No reason to hide it.” He turned to look at Robert. “Right?”

“No. No reason.”

Rico turned back around and gave Jerry a wink. “Glad we straightened that out.”

Robert was glad Rico was facing forward again. He couldn’t concentrate with Rico looking at him. His mind raced. Was he being a complete idiot to even consider what he was contemplating? He knew he couldn’t come up with the money he owed Litvak in two short weeks. He didn’t want to think about what Litvak would do then. But he knew what Litvak would do if he actually stole the necklace.

Then there was the whole idea of taking something that didn’t belong to him. He was a lot of things, but he wasn’t a thief—yet. But was he really a thief if he stole from an unsavory character like Litvak, a loan shark and probably worse? He convinced himself that he was not.

Still, it was a gamble. But he was a gambler.

He had time to pack and make it to the airport. If Evelyn’s plane wasn’t full…How long would he be gone? He had no idea. Nor any idea what he would do with the contents of the pouch. But now wasn’t the time to worry about it. He’d have time to think after the plane took off—assuming Rico and Jerry didn’t kill him before he got to the airport. Until now he hadn’t entertained that possibility, but suddenly he could focus on nothing else.

He stared at the bulge in his sock. It wasn’t too late to put it back where he’d found it. They’d never know. He perspired heavily. The resolve he’d felt an instant earlier had melted away, and in its place was indecision rapidly morphing into panic. He froze and as he did, the car stopped in front of the racetrack. He didn’t move.

“Get out of the car,” Jerry said without looking back. Still Robert didn’t budge. Jerry and Rico both turned around and stared at him. “Hey, you going deaf or something?” Jerry asked. “Get out of the car already.”

The decision had been made for him. They looked right at him, close enough to touch him. He couldn’t return the necklace now even if he wanted to. He could explain finding it in the back seat, but he couldn’t explain how it got in his sock.

“I’m sorry,” Robert said. “I don’t know what I was thinking.” He got out of the car and stood transfixed at it as it sped away. Robotically, he drove home and made his way to his apartment, locked the door behind him, and sank to the floor in a sitting position, his legs stretched outward and his back against the door. Staring at the ceiling like it wasn’t there and clutching his chest with both hands, he inhaled deeply and tried in vain to slow the pace of his galloping heart.

 

#Review 5* #DeadToMe by @LesleyPearse @MichaelJBooks

Cover
Dead To Me by Lesley Pearse
Synopsis:

Two very different women, one unlikely friendship. In the chaos of war-torn Britain, can any relationship survive?

Dead to Me is a story about loyalty, love and the strength of friendship in the face of adversity, from international number one bestselling author Lesley Pearse.

Spring 1935.
On London’s Hampstead Heath two girls meet by chance: well-mannered and smartly dressed Verity and dishevelled and grubby Ruby. Yet the mismatched pair form an instant friendship strong enough to survive their parent’s disapproval.

When war engulfs the country – sending Ruby to Devon while Verity struggles to find a new beginning under a shadow from her past – the girls are convinced they will always be there for each other.

Until the day one breaks the other’s heart . . .

Can Verity and Ruby find a way back to each other before it’s too late?

My Review:

I have been a fan of Lesley Pearse’s for many, many years! With my favourite novel of hers being, Remember Me. I am also a huge WW2 geek and love WW2 non-fiction and Fiction books. I have a very impressive collection!
So this novel was an obvious choice for me.

Spring 1935

The novel is ultimately a story of friendship and the strength of the bonds we make, with those whom, we share no blood. The friendship is between Ruby and Verity, who meet by accident one day in their childhood on Hampstead Heath. The girls come from very different walks of life one from exceptional wealth and one from abject poverty. As they witness a dead drunk being pulled from a pool Ruby remarks “no one cares why poor people die”. This intrigues Verity, on how the other half life and so begins a friendship. But neither girl has any idea what fate has in store for them and how their lives are about to change……………

Ruby (14yrs) agrees to show Verity (13yrs) the sides of London she has never seen before and in turn Verity will teach Ruby some manners of the middle class. This unlikely friendship mixed with the ‘coming of age’ of the girls age, really adds to the story. The divide between wealth and poor, clear to see in such young children. Ruby’s mum is a renowned local prostitute, who cares very little for Ruby’s safety and well-being. Verity has grown up in wealth at Daleham Gradens, with a distant mother but a loving housekeeper.
Their worlds couldn’t be further apart!

The novel moves through the years and features the trials and tribulations the girls endeavour as they bloom into young women. But when a tragedy occurs and one girl blames the other. A letter is sent containing only the words “YOU ARE DEAD TO ME”. With both girls no left feeling alone in the world, who will they seek out for comfort? What trouble lurks in the darkness, waiting to strike?

This novel has many dark themes within it, but it is displays how friendship may encounter great struggles but can last a lifetime. The WW2 setting adds to the emotions within the story and creates a fantastic backdrop to the novel. There are characters you will love, like Wilby (Mrs Wilbeforce) she reminded me very lovingly of my granny Winnie. Also characters you will despise more and more with the building of the novel, namely Archie (Verity’s father).
This novel touches upon a wide-range of emotion.
A thoroughly good read 5*

LP
Lesley Pearse
Authors Links:
Via Penguin: https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/lesley-pearse/21763/
Twitter: @LesleyPearse

 

#BlogTour #GuestPost #WritersBlock #PayThePenance by @RobAshmanAuthor @Bloodhoundbook

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Pay The Penance by Rob Ashman
Synopsis:

A stunning serial killer thriller from The Mechanic Trilogy

Murder. Corruption. Revenge. 

Lucas has been tracking a killer, known as Mechanic, when his world is shattered. Unable to continue his hunt for the murderer he is forced to rely on his friend and colleague Dick Harper. But Harper has a knack for not playing by the rules. And he doesn’t disappoint.

Meanwhile Detective Moran is trying to piece her life back together. The police stumble upon new evidence without grasping its significance and she must divert the investigation if she is to survive.

The police are closer to Mechanic than they realise which puts Moran right in the firing line.

#GuestPost

Writer’s block … take a bath

It is every writer’s worst nightmare when your story line dries up. I tend to be able to keep it at bay by employing a few simple strategies. Before I became a full-time writer I had jobs which were extremely varied, it was one of the things that kept me interested. I try and replicate that environment when I’m writing, so I write in every room in the house, with the exception of the downstairs loo!

I also write in two coffee shops and the public library. I enjoy the variety that brings and how it keeps my thinking fresh. However, there are times when I get a little stumped and cannot see how the next set of chapters will unfold. It is then I use my more unusual strategy – that is to take a bath.

I always think that an issue is easier to overcome if you can visualise the problem. The trouble with writer’s block is, what does that look like?

For me I picture a cinema showing the chapters from my book. I am sat on the front row while the events play across the screen. I can hear the dialogue and see the characters acting out what I’ve written. This is an old cinema house where the movie is played on giant reels of film and in my head I can see the man operating the projector. He comes to the end of one reel but he can’t find the next in the sequence. He knows it’s there but he can’t find it. That for me is what writer’s block is all about. The story is there, I just can’t lay my hands on what comes next.

I lie in the bath and run the scenes over and over until the man finds the next reel of film. He feeds it into the projector and off we go again. Sometimes I might only be in the bath for a matter of minutes before the plotline becomes clear. Having baths in the middle of the day might not be for everyone but it works for me.

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Rob Aahman
Authors bio:

Rob is married to Karen with two grown up daughters. He is originally from South Wales and after moving around with work settled in North Lincolnshire where he’s spent the last twenty-two years.

Like all good welsh valley boys Rob worked for the National Coal Board after leaving school at sixteen and went to University at the tender age of twenty-three when the pit closures began to bite. Since then he’s worked in a variety of manufacturing and consulting roles both in the UK and abroad.

It took Rob twenty-four years to write his first book. He only became serious about writing it when his dad got cancer. It was an aggressive illness and Rob gave up work for three months to look after him and his mum. Writing Those That Remain became his coping mechanism. After he wrote the book his family encouraged him to continue, so not being one for half measures, Rob got himself made redundant, went self-employed so he could devote more time to writing and four years later the Mechanic Trilogy is the result.

When he is not writing, Rob is a frustrated chef with a liking for beer and prosecco, and is known for occasional outbreaks of dancing.

Rob will be publishing all three books in the Mechanic Trilogy with Bloodhound Books – the second novel is titled In Your Name and the third is called Pay The Penance.

Authors Links:
Web site: http://www.robashman.com/
Twitter: @RobAshmanAuthor
via Bloodhound Books: http://www.bloodhoundbooks.com/rob-ashman/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rob-Ashman-Author-1428800800468097/