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’

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

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.

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

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The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet
Review to follow
Synopsis:

‘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&A:

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!

RF1
Rebecca Fleet
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A – Let Me Be Like Water by @_sarah_perry #Literary #NewRelease @melvillehouse #LetMeBeLikeWater #AuthorTalks

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Let Me Be Like Water S.K Perry
Synopsis:

Holly moved to Brighton to escape. But now she’s here, sitting on a bench, listening to the sea sway… what is she supposed to do next? How is she supposed to fill the void Sam left when he died? She had thought she’d want to be on her own. Wrecked. Stranded. But after she meets Frank, the tide begins to shift. Frank, a retired magician who has experienced his own loss but manages to be there for everyone else. Gradually, as he introduces Holly to a circle of new friends, young and old, all with their own stories of love and grief to share, she begins to learn to live again.

Q&A:

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

A) Let Me Be Like Water tells the story of the narrator – Holly – who loses Sam, her partner of five years when she’s in her early twenties. The novel takes place in the first year after his death, as she begins to process her grief. She moves from their shared flat in London to Brighton and – sat by the sea one day – she meets Frank, a retired magician. He introduces her to a Book Club he runs, teaches her to bake, and helps her find her feet. She takes up running and spends her time navigating the chaos of loss as best she can, getting to know herself again and reimagining the rest of her life without Sam. It’s sad, but also (I hope) funny, and really it’s about what it is to heal.
In terms of my background, after graduating uni in 2012, I worked in a call centre for a bit, during which time I co-founded the Great Men project, an initiative working with men and boys to discuss and affirm healthy masculinities, challenging behaviours linked to violence, sexual violence and disproportionately high suicide, addiction, and imprisonment rates in men and boys, and promoting mental health awareness and gender equalities. I then studied for an MA in Creative Writing and Education, and spent a year working in school using creative writing to promote emotional literacy and wellbeing. I spent a year as the Global Campaign Manager at PEN International, and have acted in gender consultancy and training roles for businesses and NGOs. As a writer, I was longlisted for the inaugural London’s Young Poet Laureate and was Cityread Young Writer in Residence in Soho, from which my poetry book Curious Hands was commissioned.

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

A) In some ways the book was vey accidental, which I think maybe lots of first novels are. I was working in a call centre (meaning lots of time to write), and then a family death and a life-changing trauma left me feeling completely adrift. I have a grandad I never met, who’s also a bit of a family legend, and I guess he became the starting point for the character Frank. I find the sea therapeutic and if I sit by it, or swim in it, I often find my mental health bolstered, so it made sense for Brighton to be the setting of my story, the place where the narrator Holly struggles to heal as she grieves the loss of her partner. As a woman in my early twenties I was yearning for narratives of female friendship; accounts of sexual experiences located in the female body; depictions of womanhood just started. I wrote about running because I think trauma is often processed by our bodies, whether we push them too hard or neglect them entirely. I wrote about food because I love to read novels that make you hungry. I wrote about sadness because I wanted to find a way to hold what I was feeling, a story other people could be held in too. It was a jumble of thoughts and feelings that felt like the beginning of a book so to motivate myself to finish it, I entered it into the Mslexia Novel competition. When it was longlisted I had to finish it (fast! I wrote 30 000 words in a fortnight), and then when it was shortlisted, I had time to edit it before pitching to agents at an event run by the competition. My agent, Laura West at David Higham, edited it with me for around eighteen months before it was sent out to publishers, and then last year Nikki Griffiths at Melville House said they were going to buy it. I was working on a project in Tegucigalpa, Honduras when my contract first came through, sat on a rooftop and eating with my colleagues; it was really surreal!

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I’m so fickle; anything I have just read and loved becomes my favourite! I’m currently reading Sharlene Teo’s Ponti, which is great. Most recently I loved The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. Some of my other favourites are: everything written by Zadie Smith; The First Bad Man by Miranda July; All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche; and All The Birds Singing by Evie Wylde. I love memoir and poetry too. When I Hit You: Or, a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy is phenomenal, as is Small White Monkeys by Sophie Collins. Poets I love include Belinda Zhawi, Mary Jean Chan, Miriam Nash, and Ella Frears. I also love and respect poets like Victoria Adukwei Bulley and Toni Stuart who are working across mediums, using film or documentary or dance for example, to do other interesting things in their work. Victoria produced the Mother Tongues films, which were some of my favourite pieces of literature I engaged with last year.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) As a child, I was wildly obsessed with Anne of Green Gables; my first true love was Gilbert who she ends up marrying and although I was happy for them, this really broke my heart. I think I was maybe a bit in love with Anne too, which made it even harder to swallow. Also I loved a book about a group of kids who founded a theatre: The Swish of the Curtain. I grew up in a wonderful time; we had the anticipation of each new Harry Potter book (I still fall asleep listening to those audiobooks again and again) and the Noughts and Crosses series, which were brilliant stories in themselves obviously, but also the first time the structures of whiteness were made visible to me as an eleven year old white girl. I wanted to be an actor, so as a teenager I read plays devoutly; I loved Shakespeare’s comedies, as well as Tennessee Williams. I was obsessed with Sylvia Plath for a while, and we read The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, and Saturday by Ian McEwan at school for A level English. I had great teaches and loved both these books so I think they were both quite foundational novels for me too.

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

A) Answering these questions the book isn’t actually out yet so I will have to wait and see! My favourite thing about writing is teaching though; I love working with other writers and creating ways they can tease out what they want to say and the best way of saying it for them. It makes me a better writer too, and it’s always a thrill to be present in someone else’s creativity.

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

A) I’m so blessed in this regard. I am surrounded by other writers and creatives who are very supportive, including my partner and some of my closest friends. My housemates are some of the best people in the world, and my family are really supportive and wonderful too. My agent is the person who has pushed me hardest and really nurtured me too; I’m so grateful for her support with this book. Being published by an independent is also very humbling; they take big risks on the books they put out because they’re smaller in terms of resources. I’ll be forever grateful to Nikki Griffiths at Melville House for taking the plunge with this book; putting it out there is a real show of support and I feel very lucky to have had that from her.

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

SK Perry © Naomi Woddis copy
S.K. Perry
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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 FC
Death Of An Actress by Antony M Brown
Synopsis:

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&A:

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.

EXTRACT:
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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Anne Bonny #BlogBlitz #BookReview and Q&A. Under The Woods by @KerryAnn77 KA Richardson 5* #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #ForensicFiles #AuthorTalks @Bloodhoundbook ‘All round this is a fantastic read!’ EBook just 99P

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Under The Woods by KA Richardson
Review copy
Synopsis:

Looking for a fast-paced crime thriller?
Then you’ll love the gripping Under The Woods.

When a homeless woman, Cheryl Whiffen, hears voices in her head telling her to do bad things, she can’t help but obey.

But when Cheryl becomes the victim of a serial killer who is collecting angels, this time the voices can’t help her. She is deemed not worthy of being an angel and the killer has to find another way to dispose of her body.

TJ Tulley has connections in the police force – her brother Jacob is a digital forensic analyst and her soon to be sister-in-law is a CSI. She knows many of their colleagues so when someone breaks into her house at the riding stables she owns, it’s not a surprise when the police dispatch CSI Jackson Doherty.

Is there a link between a suspicious fire at the stables and the serial killer?

As TJ and Doherty get closer to the truth they don’t realise the danger they are in. He is a killer – he’s angry at their investigation and he’ll do just about anything to protect his angels…

My Review:

I really admire this authors series and I was on the previous blog tour for Watch You Burn. They are police procedurals with a strong ethos on forensics. This novel is #4 in the forensic files. One thing I also love about the author is the way, in which she creates her characters. They come across authentic and she is not afraid to tackle difficult characters to create. Which in this novel, is the character of Cheryl Whitten a local homeless lady.

The prologue opens from the killer’s perspective, which is creepy and eerie. You almost feel like a voyeur watching a serial killer perfecting his craft. The killer talks of ‘his angels’ and ‘his treasure’ but what he is in fact referring to is society’s throwaway women, he has captured and killed. We become aware he is visiting the burial site of one of his previous victims, a beautiful drug addict turned ‘angel’.

Meanwhile, in Darlington it is the Christmas party for the forensics team. TJ Tulley has been dragged along as her brother Jacob’s designated driver. Jacob is a digital forensic analyst and the party is in full swing. It is at this party that TJ first meets loveable rogue Jackson Docherty. Jackson has an eye for the ladies, shall we say!

We later learn that TJ is the proud owner of Rainbow riding stables in Durham. However, the stables doesn’t come without its downsides. She must deal with local farmer and neighbour from hell Neil Brown. He is a brutish man and regularly openly berates TJ. He is an all-round pain in the backside. But you get a sense it is a simmering tension, waiting to bubble over into violence.

TJ herself has previously been the victim of a violent assault. Which has left her with chronic pain and physical suffering. The man who assaulted her was caught and committed suicide in his prison cell, adding further anguish to TJ’s recovery. Despite the trauma of her attack, TJ sees the positive in life and agrees to allow ‘difficult teens’ to assist at the stables. Which includes her attackers son Matthew. I really admired TJ’s ability to overcome the difficulties she has faced in life.
But I then began to wonder, were they just about to get a whole lot worse. . .

Cheryl Whiffen is a local homeless woman, she hears voices and they torment her every waking hour. When we meet her, she is hungry cold and feeling the strain of life on the streets. Her only friend in the word is a fellow homeless lady named Sally. When Cheryl goes missing, Sally is the only person to notice her absence. Can Sally get the police to take the case seriously?

‘She was definitely not, and never would be, one of his angels’

I think the author has done a fantastic job of her portrayal of not only homeless people, but of mental health conditions and how they manifest. I have worked in adult mental health and in facilitates which have re-homed mentally ill people from the streets. I think what the author did was give them a personality, a background etc. Allow the reader to see them as they truly are, people that matter! People that have lived through horrific life experiences, you hope to never endure.

But back to the case in hand, Jackson is at the scene of a dead body. A male drug addict found in the woods and partially eaten by his own dog.
Is this the killer that lurks amongst the pages?

There are chapters from the killer’s perspectives as he sets his victims tasks, of which they must complete. This element reminded me of the horror movie Saw. It was petrifying yet you couldn’t help but read on!
Especially the parts about the killer’s own childhood!!!!!!!

Farmer Brown’s son goes missing. Jackson faces harassment from an ex-lover named Nicki, who is a total bunny boiler. Someone is watching TJ, casually stalking her every move. Sally struggles to get the police to take Cheryl’s disappearance seriously. This novel is packed with various spin-off stories within.

The characters are authentic, their choices questionable but realistic.
All round this is a fantastic read! 5*

Q&A:

Q) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your current series the forensic files?

A) My name is Kerry and I live in north east England with my husband Peter and our 2 Dogs, Tala and Riley. I used to work as a csi and still work for the police albeit in a different role now. My csi background and passion for forensics is a massive inspiration when it comes to writing. The Forensic Files can be read as a series or as standalones as the characters change in each novel though there is always some overlap. They’re crime novels that are heavy on the forensics and that side of the police investigation.

Q) In my review I talk about the authenticity of your characters. Are they inspired by real-life people? Where do you find your inspiration?

A) The characters are not based on any one person but may well feature traits from a few different people all melded together. I find inspiration in pretty much everything from children’s laughter to rain on the windows, but I do love a good people watching session and often build descriptions whilst sitting in coffee shops. Often an outfit or a pair of shoes seen while doing this may feature in one of my novels.

Q) The character of Cheryl Whitten as a homeless lady with mental health problems, is very accurate. Did you research homelessness or mental health problems?

A) Cheryl was a complex character to write – it did involve research into mental health – primarily multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia – and also homelessness though in my current role for the police I have some interaction with that side of things. I loved her character though – I felt bad for having to kill her off.

Q) The reason I adored the characterisation of Cheryl and Sally so much, was your ability to bring them over on the page as real people. Not a label or a stereotype, but real people with stories behind their eyes. Is this difficult to achieve as a writer?

A) That’s a tough question haha. Most characters come to me screaming loudly to be heard and desperate to tell their stories – I like them to be as real to the reader as they are to me so I get to know them first. I write a character profile for the main characters whether bad or good. This involves things like how I see them, eye colour hair etc, their hobbies, likes/dislikes and friends/enemies etc. Because I get to know them before I start, I feel I get a good handle on them being real to me. And that’s important – I love and live and breathe these characters for the time I write them so if I didn’t know them fully then they might come across as flat or 2-dimensional. This process works for the most part thought there’s always the odd one who throws you a curve ball you don’t see coming – which is also insanely interesting and fab! I love it when they surprise me!

Q) TJ Tulley comes across as a street smart and savvy woman. Yet there is this element of her that is willing to take grief from her neighbour from hell. I found this quite symbolic of how women are often expected to take a certain degree of insulting remarks or insinuations. Was this intentional?

A) Subconsciously perhaps – most of us are willing to take a lot of crap in real life before we stand up and say enough is enough. Not sure exactly why that is but with TJ, it was important to me that she not be a ‘wet lettuce’ kind of woman. She is strong – has gone through so much and still is. I think she balances what’s worth worrying about with what’s not quite well.

Q) The character of Jackson added at times a spin on the above question. As He is expected to put up with a female character infatuated with him. Even though her behaviour becomes more and more irrational. It was an interesting dynamic that draws you to the characters and their histories. What made you decide to give Jackson his stalker?

A) When I first began writing about Jackson in watch you burn, I knew instantly he’d have his own story. He has a one night stand – the first in many months for him which is unusual – he’s trying to settle down and not be a player – Nicki unfortunately didn’t like the idea of a one night stand and is rather persistent. I’ve seen this quite a lot through work – where one party in the relationship just can’t let go or sees it completely different to the other. Jackson needed a challenge to overcome as well as TJ did and I think Nicki was definitely erring on the more Challenging side!

Q) finally, what can we the readers expect from the next book in the series and are we allowed any information?

A) The next book doesn’t have a title yet (sometimes these come straight away and sometimes they reveal themselves a bit later) but it’s set in Edinburgh and feature more of Ali and Alex’s family – specifically his brother Mark who is younger than them. Mark is lovely – he’s buried himself in working as a detective for so long he’s almost forgetting there’s more to life than just work. He’s got some flaws – claustrophobia being one. And he’s not a big believer in things like psychics – until one shows up in his life. It’s about darkness and shadows, murders in the vaults under the city and family dynamics. I’m loving writing it.

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KA Richardson
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