Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with @anne_obrien #Author of, Queen Of The North #HistoricalFiction #Medieval England 1399 @HQstories #AuthorTalks ‘This is one woman’s quest to turn history on its head’

Queen Of The North by Anne O’Brien
Review to follow

To those around her she was a loyal subject.

In her heart she was a traitor.

1399: England’s crown is under threat. King Richard II holds onto his power by an ever-weakening thread, with exiled Henry of Lancaster back to reclaim his place on the throne.

For Elizabeth Mortimer, there is only one rightful King – her eight-year-old nephew, Edmund. Only he can guarantee her fortunes, and protect her family’s rule over the precious Northern lands bordering Scotland.

But many, including Elizabeth’s husband, do not want another child-King. Elizabeth must hide her true ambitions in Court, and go against her husband’s wishes to help build a rebel army.

To question her loyalty to the King places Elizabeth in the shadow of the axe.
To concede would curdle her Plantagenet blood.

This is one woman’s quest to turn history on its head.

#BlogTour Q&A:

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

A) Although I now live in the Welsh Marches, in Herefordshire, I am a Yorkshire girl by birth in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, I lived in East Yorkshire for many years where I taught history. Writing was not something I ever thought of doing.
That was in a past life.
Moving to Herefordshire, I gave up teaching and began writing historical novels. It has brought me much enjoyment and a new career. Now I live with my husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage with a large garden, where I write about the forgotten women of medieval history. It is a marvellous area for giving me inspiration, full of castles and churches and battlefields.

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

A) – Firstly I have to select a medieval woman as the central character. She must be well connected and involved in the politics of the day. There must be an element of notoriety, scandal, or interest about her life to make her a worthwhile candidate to tell the story.
– A timeline is essential to put the woman and her family into historical perspective with other characters and historical events.
– After many weeks of historical research to put all the relevant facts into place, I start writing. Accuracy is essential.
– A year later, after four separate drafts, additions of events and characters who often take me by surprise, much editing and reviewing and it is complete to be sent off to my agent and my editor
– With my editor’s keen eye, there follows some polishing, usually with regard to length. I tend to write too much.
– And hopefully, sixteen months after I began, the novel is finished.
It is not always as seamless as this of course. Real life tends to break in to my writing schedule with such mundane occupations as dusting and shopping and cooking a meal or two, but I try to write something every morning. It also takes perseverance, patience, and compassion with my characters and what they wish to say. All of it though is highly enjoyable.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) If I wish to read historical fiction, it has to be Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, six novels that carry her hero through sixteenth century France, Scotland with visits to Russia and the Levant, all magnificently constructed to combine fact and fiction.
If I feel a need for some atmospheric crime, then what better than Anne Cleves’ Shetland series, now a superb TV adaptation in the bleak but beautiful islands off northern Scotland.
An excellent blend of folklore, myth, crime, and rural creepiness makes compulsive reading with the novels of Phil Rickman’s series with Merrily Watkins the priest in the depths of Hereford, starting with Wine of Angels.
If I want a novel of family or the relationships and interaction between people, then there can be no better than Anne Tyler. I first discovered her years ago with Breathing Lessons, and continue to read her novels.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) They tended to be historical. My interests have not changed.
A loved the novels of Mary Renault, particularly those which brought the Greek myths to life. I think the first I read were The King Must Die and Bull from the Sea. The novels of Alexander the Great also make great reading in my teenage years, starting with Fire From Heaven. I have re-read them more recently and find they have stood the test of time.
The Passionate Brood was the first historical novel by Margaret Campbell Barnes that I recall reading. It tells the tale of the children of King Henry II and Robin Hood. It showed me what could be done with history to make it a page turning experience for the reader.
Mary Stewart’s novels of King Arthur and Merlin, beginning with The Crystal Cave , captivated me, and still do. I still have a soft spot for King Arthur novels.

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

A) It has to be, every time, holding the completed novel in my hands. All is done and it can no longer be changed and edited. It is complete in its cover. It is proof that I have produced something tangible over the past year that has come together in readable form. It is proof that not only have I enjoyed writing it, but my editor and my agent have also enjoyed reading it. It is also a time of some trepidation of course. Now the novel is out of my hands and available to the vast the reading public. I always hope that they enjoy it too.

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

A) For me writing is a very private matter. No one reads my novel, not even sections of it, until it is finished when it is sent off to my agent and editor. Even so the support of those around me is invaluable. My husband who I often dragged into my discussions of historical motivation and logic. His interest in 19th Century history but he is fast becoming well educated in the politics of medieval England. My agent who I know will give me all her support if I get into difficulties or simply need some encouragement. My editor who has the final sweeping view of the novel and gives me advice. I trust her expertise implicitly.
I am blessed to have such support in what can be a very lonely world between me, my PC, and people who have been dead for at least six hundred years.

Anne O’Brien

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***Review to follow soon***


Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Author Q&A with @RebeccaLFleet – The House Swap #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease #TheHouseSwap #AuthorTalks @TransworldBooks Be careful who you let in. . .

The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet
Review to follow

‘No one lives this way unless they want to hide something.’

When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap, they jump at the chance for a week away from home. After the difficulties of the past few years, they’ve worked hard to rebuild their marriage for their son’s sake; now they want to reconnect as a couple.

On arrival, they find a house that is stark and sinister in its emptiness – it’s hard to imagine what kind of person lives here. Then, gradually, Caroline begins to uncover some signs of life – signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music in the CD player might seem innocent to her husband but to her they are anything but. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone she used to know; someone she’s desperate to leave in her past.

But that person is now in her home – and they want to make sure she’ll never forget . . .


Q) For the readers can you tell us a bit about yourself and your new novel, The House Swap?

A) Hello! I’m 38, live in London, and in my day job I work as a brand strategy consultant. I’ve always written, but The House Swap is my first foray into psychological thriller/suspense. It tells the story of a married couple struggling to get their relationship back on track after a difficult few years. To this end, they decide to enter into a house swap and have a break away from home, but when they reach the new house it isn’t long before the wife, Caroline, begins to feel that their surroundings are loaded, carrying memories of a traumatic period of her life that she has worked hard to forget. She starts to wonder if it can be a coincidence – and if not, who she has just let into her own home.

Q) The novel has the unique theme of being centred around a house swap, what was the inspiration behind this idea?

A) I had noticed the growing popularity of house swaps through sites such as Airbnb and not been remotely tempted to try it myself, as I always found it a rather worrying concept – our homes are such personal and private spaces, and allowing a stranger into them without being there ourselves requires a high degree of trust. I started thinking about what could go wrong, and how it would feel if you became aware that you had opened up your own home to someone who might not be a complete stranger after all, and who had their own dark motivations for being there.

Q) The novel focuses on a couple trying to get their marriage back on track. Does this add extra depth to their characters and backgrounds?

A) I hope so! I always saw the book as a relationship drama as much as a thriller. These days, psychological thriller is a pretty broad term. For me, the tension in the book springs largely from the dynamics between the key characters, their relationships to one another and the ways in which they might undermine each other and threaten the fabric of their lives through their own behaviour. The couple in the book, Caroline and Francis, aren’t intended to be wholly likeable; the whole point for me was to show them as real and very flawed people who are trying to do the best they can in difficult circumstances – sometimes misguidedly.

Q) The novel also has a theme of past relationships and those we’d rather leave in the past. With social media and sites such as friends reunited, this has become much more difficult. Did this inspire the novel in any way?

A) I think that our attitudes to past relationship in general are very different in today’s society. The temptation to “keep tabs” on people in a virtual sense even when they have disappeared from our day-to-day lives is a strong one, and it’s almost become socially acceptable, even if we don’t like to admit it. So although this might not have inspired the plot of the novel consciously, I do think that I was aware that these days, trying to leave a relationship in the past as Caroline is doing in the book requires a lot of discipline and dedication. It’s so easy to slip back into wanting to know what that person is up to, and it’s a short step from that to still caring about them.

Q) With the psychological/thriller genre being massively competitive, does this encourage authors to think outside the box and develop new ideas and themes?

A) It’s fair to say that there is quite a bit of repetition when it comes to psychological thriller plots, which I think is pretty inevitable – there are only so many themes and ideas to go round! But yes, I do think it has become more important to try and push the boundaries of those and put a new spin on them. The funny thing is that often new trends emerge which perhaps you find yourself part of without having known or planned it; recently in the Evening Standard, The House Swap was included as an example of the new “criblit” trend (psychological suspense/thrillers with houses at their heart). At the time of writing the book, I don’t think this was a “thing”, but I suppose that sometimes there is just something in the water…

Q) House Swap is a debut novel, what was your feeling upon seeing the finished cover and promotional materials?

A) I have actually had a couple of literary novels published under a different name in a past life (!), but the experience was quite different this time. The psychological thriller genre is one that lends itself brilliantly to strong covers and promotion, and Transworld have done a great job on that. I immediately loved the cover concept of the two monochrome doors – I think it stands out nicely on the shelf and sets the right tone. And then there have been the posters, the book trailer… it is more than I had hoped for and very exciting to see it all coming together.

Q) How will you be celebrating your books launch/release?

A) I had my launch party on 3rd May, which was a great occasion! We held it in a bookshop in Notting Hill and it was the perfect chance for family and friends to come together along with people from Transworld and my agent to celebrate the book’s release. It was very much like a wedding in the sense that in retrospect I can’t actually remember much of what I said to people or even who I talked to, but I was left with the sense of having enjoyed it a lot, which is what you want really…

Q) Finally, what is next in store do you have a next novel planned and are we allowed any details?

A) Yes, I am currently working on my next book, which is in the same genre but not directly connected to The House Swap. In brief, it concerns a man who discovers that his wife is in the witness protection programme as a result of a crime involving her sister eighteen years earlier, and the action shifts back and forth between the present day and the time at which the crime took place. I won’t say too much more about it now, but hopefully it will appeal to the same sort of readers who enjoy The House Swap!

Rebecca Fleet

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Anne Bonny Q&A with @mleyshonauth Matt Leyshon #Author of, Jack The Ripper Live And Uncut and #Extract – Chapter 18 #JackTheRipper #TrueCrime meets #CrimeFiction

Jack The Ripper Live And Uncut by Matt Leyshon

When you want to solve the greatest cold case of all time, you don’t find the witness, you become the witness…

Investigative Reporter Carl Axford is offered the story of a lifetime. When recruited by Limbo, (a covert group that uses unique technology to solve cold cases), Axford is presented the chance to crack the greatest cold case in existence. Catch Jack The Ripper!

The opportunity of a front row seat to the Jack The Ripper murders seems too good to be true. What will Axford discover in 1888? Will he be able to identify history’s greatest criminal and bring him to justice? Or does Victorian Whitechapel hold further secrets that influence events of the past as well as the present?

Jack The Ripper may not be the only mystery Axford has to solve.

Teaser 1


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

A) Sure thing. I was born and raised in Australia and grew up in Sydney, in a suburb called Liverpool. I have been encouraged to write since I was six years old and it has taken me a long time to deliver on that. Now that I have that feeling of achievement and satisfaction with the first book I definitely want to write more. Like most authors it is all I want to do but maybe that will come eventually.

I moved to the USA in 2004 and love it here. In an age when so many people have a poor option on where to live I consider myself lucky that I have two great choices.

I live in Tampa, FL with my wife Susan and children Reece and Charlotte. I always refer to them as “the greatest story I have”.

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

A) My journey was a little different to others I feel, and that is how it should be.

As I had mentioned I had wanted to write for years but had never been struck with the right motivation. Just over two years ago I did an online tutorial called “Masterclass”, a website that has celebrities teach in their given specialty. Mine was conducted by James Patterson and the topic was thriller writing. It was very educational and it was also the kick up the ass that I needed. Another huge incentive was that Patterson was running a competition for his class members; submit a hook, synopsis and sample chapter for a potential novel. The winner got to write their book with James Patterson. I came up with three submissions, one of which was the book I wrote. So that was the original source of inspiration. I didn’t submit it however as it was something I really wanted for myself. The day I heard I did not win his competition was one of the happiest days of my life. I immediately began working on my book, “Jack the Ripper: Live and UnCut”.

What follows was months of research as well as establishing an outline. I had a lot of what I referred to as “plot beads” but I still didn’t have my thread. Finally, after working exclusively on that for two and a half weeks, I was able to create my thread, and everything fell into place after that.

Having the outline was huge. There were some chapters that I didn’t get to write for months and I was relieved that I had placed a lot of relevant information in there and not have to research it again.

While writing the story I did develop other characters and device plots that were not in my outline, so I went back and added them in. An outline is a great tool, sometimes your best friend, but its completion should never signify the end of creativity for your story. It should be a balance of structure and spontaneity.

It took me sixteen months to write the book, but that did include a three month break. Being immersed in my research and story was something I would often describe as “going down a dark rabbit hole”. Some people love that rabbit hole, many live in it. I didn’t want that for myself nor may family. The majority of my book was written between 10:00pm and 2:00am. I am a night owl but also try to be a husband and father first. My wife and children went on a road trip in which I wrote 180 pages in 10 days. I love them dearly, but man…..I get so much done when I’m on my own!

Writing the novel was definitely a journey. There were many moments, many celebrations. One evening I wrote a chapter I had been eager to write for 6 months. I wrote through till 1:30am, but could not fall asleep due to being full of so much adrenaline. I thought, if my readers could feel a tenth of how I did, reading this material then I would be happy. Subsequently I have heard that people who have read the book have had it keep them up some nights. I actually like that. I didn’t want the premise to set a scene that was gory, I wanted it to be creepy. Gory is disposable, creepy remains with you.

After completing the book I did three rounds of edits as well as engaged two other professionals for edits. I continued to tweak it and at the same time began to looking into my publishing options. Sadly, I did not research that as well as I did the subjects in my book, and as a result have made some naïve choices that have not served my book well. Like I always say to people “I’m a storyteller, not a story seller.”
Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I have several, and all for different reasons
Martin Cruz Smith – Writes so beautifully and with great philosophy. His Arkady Renko novels are all masterpieces and he is so quotable with his description of places or people. Also the way he shows his main character evolves through his various stories but also how Russia changes along with him. He is literary God to me. I can easily pick up a Renko and read it.
James Patterson – James is the ultimate page turner. Usually when you read a Patterson you make short work of it, mostly because you don’t want to put his book down. One thing he said that I loved was when he tells a story he doesn’t want to hear somebody say “that’s great” he would rather hear somebody say “I’d like to read more”. That is Patterson in a nutshell and he is the master of stories that propel forward and at a quick pace.
Ben Elton – I love Elton as I have been a fan of his humour for decades. When he branched out from television and wrote novels I have enjoyed not only every story he writes but also his variety. He has written satires, murder-who dunnits, thrillers and always has great social commentary in every novel. He also has great humour in his books which is expected given what he gave to tv viewers.
Dan Brown – I love the Langdon series. What impresses me so much about Dan Brown, when I first read Angels and Demons, was that this book would make a terrific movie. I have felt that way about all of the Langdons. Needless to say I was very happy to hear that they were doing exactly that, and have done with three of them. When reading Brown you truly picture a scene playing out in your head. What I also like is Brown doesn’t dwell on getting to know the hero. Robert Langdon is a likeable hero but we don’t connect with him necessarily. We do become invested in his adventure though and want to see him succeed and it is through the journey that we learn little bits about Landon. I also appreciate that in those books it is Langdon’s talent that ultimately helps him progress through a mystery. The story is moved forward by what he knows and what he is good at. I like that a lot. I also like that Brown is not afraid of tackling a topic that knows will court controversy. He researches his books well, weaves history into a great story, but one that is ultimately fiction. Brown on his own admission concedes that these are stories……..not preaching to base a belief structure on.
Very honourable mentions to Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare. Both capture the drama of horror or tragedy so beautifully. Plus Poe just really knows how to creep his reader out, which is something I tried to emulate. Their work has been the template for everybody that followed them.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I was always an avid reader as a child and also loved a good mystery, even as a kid. I used to love reading The Three Investigators, an Alfred Hitchcock series, my sister was really into Trixie Belden mysteries, and I used to read them after she did. I also read Secret Seven and Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Man…….really showing my age here.

I actually got into Cruz Smith’s Renko novels in my teens. I read Gorky Park when I was 15 and it changed my life. During my later high school years I also loved reading Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe.

Around the same time I also read my favourite book from my entire childhood in the same year. It was The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. Just an incredible book and a wonderful tale, so rich in humour, intelligence and fun. I was filled with joy when my sister bought my son his own copy of it for his last Birthday. The legacy continues.

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

A) There are several, each for their own reason, and each with high significance. All of which I feel a person in my place can relate:
1. Receiving that Proof copy. Seeing a tangible copy of the book brought me to tears. It wasn’t even published yet but to see and hold it as an actual book was an incredible feeling. All the effort was worth it in that moment.
2. My book launch and signing. I felt like a proper author that evening.
3. My review and feedback from Ripperologist Magazine. I had received excellent feedback till this point, but this publication was the most likely to criticize it. The reviewer is synonymous in the JTR community and his review was nothing short of fantastic. His feedback via email also contained the highest praise. It also led to my being interviewed in Ripperologist Magazine, a rarity for a fiction author, as well as an invitation to appear on the Rippercast podcast. It was at this point when I felt validated in my work, and that I truly had a great book to share.

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

A) Without a doubt, my wife and children. My research and late nights were very difficult to sustain in day to day life. It was nice to have that warmth that comes with a hug from my son or daughter, as it would always bring me back to centre. My son would always make me laugh because he wants to read my book, I tell him in about another 12 years or so.

My wife would also listen to me bounce ideas for the plot and bounce off the walls at the same time. She stayed up late while I read new chapters to her and her feedback has been invaluable. For any creative person, knowing that your partner supports your passion is a huge deal.

I have also received a lot of support from family, friends and new friends I have made as a result of this venture.
*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.
ML: Thank YOU so much. It has been a pleasure 🙂

TWT Profile
Matt Leyshon
Teaser 3


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September 30th 1888

The fact it was just after 1:00am meant little in Whitechapel. Many of its residents saw fit to engage in work; trade and social activities at this hour. This would last through the night and well into the morning. That wasn’t to say things were not different to the affairs of the day.

St. Botolph’s Church was a great example of polarity. By day, it was a place of worship for many and a house of prayer for those seeking salvation or divine guidance. By night, it was known as “Prostitute Island”. A year ago, the Chief of Police, Charles Warren, had mandated that prostitutes would only be arrested if there was a direct complaint raised against them or if they solicited in the same location. Prostitution was still considered illegal but was now very lightly policed. So, they would abuse this “loophole”, circling in front of the church and applying their trade, yet abiding by the law, albeit barely.

Things were different these days. A lot of prostitutes worked here because panic and hysteria over the Ripper had caused most of them to live and work in fear. He was still out there; any one of them could be next. It was suffice to say, St. Botolph’s attracted God fearing folk by day and people who were afraid of the devil by night.

Across the road from the church, on the corner of Aldgate High Street and The Minories, a lone figure stood in the sanctuary of shadows, watching the girls walk in their customary circles. His breath emerging from the darkness in bursts of steam, but little else could be seen of him. The church’s clock struck a single ring to indicate it was 1:15am, for the Ripper the night was still young. The evening had plenty in store for him.

He laughed at the absurdity… These harlots thought working here offered safety in numbers, but little did they realize, they were currently part of a morbid buffet. Like a sushi train, the prostitutes would pass his line of sight, obliviously offering themselves up as a course for his liking. Paranoia had brought them to the church. It had also placed them on a sadist’s path.

One of them seemed to be going against the traffic, stumbling along and speaking incoherently to her other colleagues. Catherine Eddowes had only been released by police fifteen minutes ago but still appeared to be well and truly intoxicated. She was also blathering wildly and laughed as if she had told a joke only she understood. Unaware she was being watched, this was a terrible time to stand out in a crowd.

The Ripper began to draw heavier breaths, his heartrate accelerating. A murderous engine had ignited and was kicking into gear. This was partially brought on by an excitement of having seen his next victim, but it was also spawned from a disdain for women, especially prostitutes. He relished killing them. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than ending their livelihood with one slash of his blade, followed by the removal of their womanhood, and more, by his hand. He had them right where, and how, he wanted. It aroused him. Almost as much as the hatred he felt for them at his core. The engine gained momentum. This one, in particular, disturbed him, grated on every nerve that channeled to his malevolent heart.

It was settled: this cackling whore will die tonight!

He was about to step out and cross the street when he noticed Eddowes was already talking to another man. A customer, perhaps. The Ripper maintained his focus on them, extremely annoyed, ascertaining that it appeared a “transaction” was imminent and this angered him. This interfered with his plan and was prolonging an inevitability that he had already predetermined for this whore. The stranger looked around and then hurriedly led Catherine away, toward Duke Street. The look brought recognition, and disdain, for the Ripper. He knew the stranger and he detested this man, almost as much as he loathed Eddowes.

He observed them walking away and smiled. Nothing and no one was going to prevent Catherine’s fate. He had all the time in the world… The same could not be said for others.

The Ripper launched from the darkness, into full flight, pursuing his quarry. A Victorian surgeon’s knife was concealed but at his beck and call and ready to take life in an instant as he desired it. Like a true predator, he would stalk Eddowes and wait for his chance to strike. These transactions never took long and he wanted to be sure he was there to guarantee this imbecile was the last client Catherine Eddowes would ever have.

Teaser 4


Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Author Q&A with Matthew Sullivan – Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore #Literary #Mystery #NewRelease @arrowpublishing #BrightIdeasBookstore

Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

What do you do when the life you’ve carefully built for yourself comes apart?

Lydia Smith lives a quiet life, spent in the company of her colleagues and customers at the bookstore where she works. But when Joey Molina, a young and mysterious regular, hangs himself in the bookstore and leaves Lydia secret messages hidden in the pages of his books, her world starts to unravel.

Why did Joey do it?

What did he know?

And what does it have to do with Lydia?

Q&A with Matthew Sullivan:

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

A) I grew up in Denver in a pretty wild house with seven brothers and sisters. After moving to San Francisco for college, I spent a number of years bouncing around different states and countries (including living in England for a year), and was always a voracious reader and committed writer. Beginning in my twenties, after college, I spent a number of years working in independent bookstores, and those settings had such a strong impact on me that I eventually decided to try to capture them with fiction.

Enter Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, a crime novel about a 30-year-old bookseller named Lydia who, as a little girl, was the only survivor of a horrifying attack. Those murders traumatize her and define her life for many years, until eventually she finds sanctuary in an urban bookstore. As the novel opens, whatever semblance of peace she has found is disrupted when her favorite “BookFrog,” a young bibliophile named Joey, hangs himself in the store. Lydia soon discovers that Joey has bequeathed her his collection of books—as well as the messages he has cryptically carved into their pages. As Lydia follows his messages, of course she is led right back to that awful childhood night.

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

A) In the early stages of this book, I knew I wanted to write a dark mystery that focused more on character development than anything else, and I knew I wanted to pay homage to independent bookstores. Lydia would see books and the bookstore as an escape from her past, as she had her whole life, but early on I wasn’t sure what specifically she’d be escaping from. And then, during the writing process, I found myself returning to a horrible crime that happened not far from my home in the suburbs of Denver when I was 13 years old: one snowy night, a man with a hammer broke into a house and attacked a family as they slept, killing three of them and leaving a toddler badly injured. This was in a new, quiet neighborhood, and even now, three decades later, the killer—The Hammerman—has never been caught. We were all terrified. It was a disturbing entrance into adulthood. These things have a way of sticking with us, working their way out, and for me that was through fiction.

I spent many years writing the novel, mainly because I was also raising kids and being a teacher and trying to find time to write whenever I could. Once I had a draft done and was lucky enough to be noticed by my current agent and editor, I still ended up rewriting this beast for several more years. It helped to have some great editorial guidance along the way.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Where to even begin? Some recent favourite reads are Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, Jane Harper’s The Dry, Ian McGuire’s The North Water, George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, Colum McCann’s 13 Ways of Looking, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, and Denis Johnson’s posthumous collection, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden.

In the literary-mystery genre, I’ve always been drawn to crime writing that pushes against expectations, such as Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy, Tana French’s Dublin Squad series, Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths, Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, and Jess Walter’s Over Tumbled Graves (and everything else he writes).

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I loved the Encyclopedia Brown series and Judy Blume’s books, especially the Fudge books (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge). A bit later it was S.E. Hinton’s books, such as The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now, and I eventually made my way to Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut and Flannery O’Connor, all of whom blew my mind.

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

A) I’ve been very touched by the support people have given. You expect that from friends and family and the obligatory neighbor, but many, many other people—booksellers and students and childhood classmates—have really come out of the woodwork to support me and this story. They’ve been wonderful.

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

A) My vision for this book fell somewhere between an edgy contemporary mystery and a character-driven literary novel, so it has always run the risk of slipping between the two genres and disappearing. Despite that, from the start, my agent, Kirby Kim, was steadfast in his support, and steadfast in helping me stay true to my own vision of the book, even if in some ways it was different from a conventional mystery.

My most important ally, of course, has been my wife, Libby. We met over two decades ago while we were booksellers working together in the Children’s section of the Tattered Cover in Denver, and we’ve been together since. We still work together, too, at a community college in the rural Pacific Northwest. She’s a librarian there and I teach writing and literature. We try to keep our marriage on the lowdown at work, but plenty of students have seen the two of us around campus together. Their jaws sometimes drop when they realize that we’re a thing.

Matthew Sullivan *Credit Lucid Concepts

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Death Of An Actress Q&A with #Author Antony M Brown @ccjury & #Extract #TrueCrime #NewRelease #NonFiction @TheMirrorBooks #DeathOfAnActress Sex, lies & Murder on the high seas. . .

Death Of An Actress by Antony M Brown

Published in time for the 70th anniversary of one of the most dramatic trials in British criminal history.
DEATH OF AN ACTRESS is the second in the Cold Case Jury Collection, a unique series of true crime titles. Each case study tells the story of an unsolved crime, or one in which the verdict is open to doubt. Fresh evidence is presented and the reader is invited to deliver their own verdict.

October 1947. A luxury liner steams over the equator off the coast of West Africa and a beautiful actress disappears from her cabin. Suspicion falls on a dashing deck steward with a reputation for entering the cabins of female passengers. When the liner docks at Southampton, the steward is questioned by police. Protesting his innocence, he makes an astonishing admission that shocks everyone, and is charged with murder. His trial at the historic Great Hall in Winchester draws the world’s media. He is found guilty and sentenced to hang.

But was the verdict sound?

Many believe not.

Now for the first time, Antony M. Brown has secured unprecedented access to the police file, enabling the definitive story to be told. Included in the file are original court exhibits, including a hairbrush with strands of the actress’s red hair. Could a personal effect left behind in her cabin provide clues to how she might have died? Take your seat on the Cold Case Jury…


Q) What’s different about the Cold Case Jury true crime collection?

A) It is a series of cold murder cases, normally from the first half of last century, which combine history with a mystery. I have three goals. First, to engage the reader directly. Rather than passively describing events, I use dramatic reconstruction to show what happened and what might have happened. Second, to present key evidence in a special section. Where possible, I introduce new evidence, too. In Death of an Actress, I am the first author to have seen the police file, and new evidence and photographs are published for the first time. Third, to invite readers to deliver their verdicts online on what they think happened. Hence the reader becomes part of the case, helping to bring it to some closure.

Q) What is Death of an Actress about?

A) The second book in the series is about the tragic death of 21-year-old Gay Gibson in 1947. She disappeared from the passenger liner Durban Castle as it sailed from Cape Town to Southampton. A deck steward, James Camb, was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to hang, although many believe there was insufficient evidence to convict. Others believe he was innocent.

Q) Why is it an interesting case?

A) First, it is a murder on the high seas, which is rare. Second, there was no body – it was dumped into the sea. Again, this is unusual in a murder case because the body reveals the cause of death, and without one, the evidence is circumstantial. Third, there was no body because the only suspect confessed to disposing of it while protesting his innocence at the same time. Lastly, the case is from 1947, a different era from today in terms of travel, moral values and medicine. All these factors play a part in this fascinating case.

Q) Why did you select the excerpt below?

A) The extract dramatically reconstructs the first encounter between Gay Gibson and James Camb on board the Durban Castle. It is based solely on James Camb’s account, of course, but many details were gleaned from other evidence and witness testimony. We know from the statements of her friends – unheard at the trial and published for the first time in the book – that Gay talked intimately to strangers. Did this conversation spark attraction between her and the steward? Or was everything distorted in the mind of the man who would later be charged with her murder? Whatever you believe, it is no exaggeration to say that this encounter started a chain reaction that lead to the death of an actress.

Camb returned, holding a tray aloft with the palm of his right hand, his left tidily tucked behind his back. As he placed the cocktail glass carefully onto the drink mat in front of her, he observed the spark in her beautiful brown eyes.

“A John Collins, madam. Enjoy,” he said, bowing theatrically. Gay giggled and took a sip. “That’s perfect. Thank you.” She replaced the glass on the table, which gently moved up and down with the swell, as if the ship were breathing.

“So, you’re returning from holiday?” Camb asked, eager to restart the conversation. “No, I’ve just finished performing in a play in Johannesburg – Golden Boy. Have you heard of it?” Camb shook his head. “Well, my leading man was Eric Boon. I bet you’ve heard of him.” “Yes, of course, the Thunderbolt. He’s a good boxer.”

“He’s also an actor, you know. He’s already been in a film, Champagne Charlie.” The steward looked blankly. “With Tommy Trinder and Stanley Holloway?” Gay could see he was still none the wiser. “Well, I guess he brought some star quality to the production, being famous ’n’ all.”

“Is the play coming to London? I could come and see it when I get some leave.” “No, it finished early. It received good reviews and everything, but they closed the theatre.” “Sounds like tough luck. What will you do now?” “I’ve got some introductions to theatres back home.” She took another sip of her cocktail. “And your boyfriend’s joining you later?” Camb asked cheekily, although his only interest in the answer was to assess her likely availability.

“Charles has to run his business, so he couldn’t come with me, but I can’t stop thinking about him.” She placed both her hands across her breast. “We’ve been going steady for only a month, but I’m already crazy about him. He’s taken me to all the best restaurants and clubs in Johannesburg, you know.”

Camb was not deterred by her proclaimed affection, but her answer seemed a little odd. “Why not stay and act in South Africa, then?” he asked. “Well…” Gay hesitated, glancing down to the table. She took another sip of her drink. “Things are a little delicate right now.” “You mean he doesn’t feel the same way?” “No, he’s crazy about me, too. I just know he is,” she gushed. “Well, if you were my girl, I wouldn’t let you go,” he joked. Camb expected a giggle in response but instead Gay suddenly looked pensive. “It’s just…” she started, taking a puff of her cigarette. “Well, let’s just say, things may have become a little… complicated.” Camb asked jocularly, “You don’t mean to tell me you’re having a baby?”

Gay didn’t take offence at Camb’s familiarity. “Well, it’s rather too soon to know,” she replied cautiously. “If that’s the position, why don’t you marry the man?” There was a long pause. “It’s not quite as easy as that.” “The longer you leave it…” “He’s already married,” she cut in.

Camb said nothing, as he surmised the probable purpose of her trip to England. Gay changed the subject, her mood brightening a little as she spoke. “I’m going to have a rest after lunch. I always feel a little sleepy then. Would you mind bringing me a tray of afternoon tea in my cabin? At about four o’clock?” “I cannot leave the Promenade Deck, especially at that time,” Camb explained. “I’m busy with the tea service. When you want afternoon tea, summon the cabin steward and tell him what you want. I’ll prepare your tray and he will bring it to your cabin.” Gay nodded as a male voice called out, “Steward, is it possible for someone else to get served here?” “You’d better go,” she smiled.

Camb slid a printed Manila slip and a stubby pencil across the table. “Could you sign and date it. You settle your account at the end of each week.” Gay filled out the docket. “And your cabin number, please.” He took the slip and circled five pence in the top corner, although he was more interested in knowing the cabin number. He said goodbye, and promptly left. The next time he looked into the Long Gallery there was only an empty, lipstick marked cocktail glass on the corner table.

Image from the inside the book:
Image for GP2

Antony M. Brown
Antony M Brown
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