Anne Bonny Q&A with #Author of The Savage Shore @david_hewson #NicCosta #Series #CrimeFiction #ItalianMafia #Italy @blackthornbks #TheSavageShore @midaspr

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The Savage Shore by David Hewson
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

The ‘Ndrangheta is a ruthless mafia organisation, one of the richest and most powerful organised crime groups in the world. Completely impenetrable to outsiders, merciless when crossed, they run the savage Calabrian coast of Italy, their influence everywhere. So why has the head of this feared mob, Lo Spettro, offered to turn state witness?

Detective Nic Costa is sent deep into the mountains to infiltrate this mafia family, with Lo Spettro’s help. With a new identity, Nic becomes one of their own. But one slip up would mean the end not just for the investigation, but for Nic, and his whole team.

Q&A ~

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

A) I’ve been an author for more than twenty five years now, with thirty books or so (you stop counting after a while) to my name. The Savage Shore is a new instalment in a story that started nearly twenty years ago with A Season for the Dead which introduced a young detective called Nic Costa, working with a state police team in the historic centre of Rome. Over the years Nic’s spent most of his time on stories based in Rome, with occasional diversions to Venice and beyond.

When I decided to bring the old crew back, though, I decided to throw a spanner in the works. Usually they’re kings of a castle they know and control very well: Rome. But here they’re strangers in a strange land, sent to Calabria in the south of Italy where they’re meant to organise the defection of a gang lord into police custody so he can turn state witness.

The problem is no one knows who the gang lord is, how they can find him, how they can extricate him and his family safely out of a gang that would surely murder them all if they knew what was going on. To make contact Nic has to go undercover and pretend he’s part of the crime clan, and the rest of the team have to wait under false identities on the coast.

Pretty soon it appears nothing, in the fabled land of Calabria, is really what it seems.

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

A) I tend to be very logical about these things and decide some key issued to begin with. The first here was location: I knew it wasn’t going to be in Rome, and I was very interested in Calabria as a backdrop. It’s got an amazing culture and history of its own – not just Italian but ancient Greece as well. And it’s the home of a crime gang which is huge and very powerful, the ’Ndrangheta.

After the location came the style of the narrative. As I said I wanted Nic and co to be strangers in a strange land. So I hit upon the idea of making them become almost criminals themselves, having to hide their true identities, which isn’t easy given they’re decent people who don’t like to keep things secret.

Another element of the book is that each section of the story is preceded by a brief extract from a fictional tourist guide to the area. This gives the readers some context to the story, but also, as the narrative proceeds, we begin to realise that this device is also part of the main story too.

Then I needed an opening which came when I was driving round Reggio, the capital of Calabria. I invented a bar for crooks, an illegal immigrant forced to work behind it, and a monkey with a taste for drink. Then in walk some people with guns…

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) That’s always a tough one to answer. I’m reluctant to name living rime authors because you always leave out someone you should have mentioned and the likelihood is they’re going to notice. So… current authors of non-fiction, Mary Beard for her great work on Rome, the history books of Tom Holland. Dead authors: Robert Graves, Mario Puzo, Mary Renault.

I, Claudius is one of my favourite books, something I reread from time to time for the beautiful simplicity of its writing and structure, and the timeless nature of the story it tells: a decent man becomes the monster he loathes.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Anything I could lay my hands on in my local library: Ray Bradbury, lots and lots of science fiction by people whose names escape me now, Conan Doyle, Saki, HP Lovecraft…

Q) What are you currently reading?

A) The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani, a story about the Jewish community in Ferrara just before the start of the Second World War. A very unusual book that’s both an emotional story of failed loved but also darkened by the coming of fascism to people who’ve no idea the world is changing.

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

A) My favourite moment is always the one when you know a book is finished – edited, revised, done.

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

A) You always rely on the advice and support of agent and your editors. Without them we’d never be able to achieve a thing. Writers are lone wolves but we need to connect with the flock too. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve worked with some of the best over the years.

DH
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Juliet & Romeo by @david_hewson #Literary #Romance #Historical #NewRelease @DomePress #JulietAndRomeo

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Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson
Synopsis:

Two young people meet: Romeo, desperate for love before being sent away to study, and Juliet facing a forced marriage to a nobleman she doesn’t know. Fate and circumstance bring them together in a desperate attempt to thwart their parents with a secret marriage. But in a single fateful week, their intricate scheming falls terribly apart. Shakespeare’s most well-known and well-loved play has been turned in to a gripping romantic thriller with a modern twist. Rich with the sights and sounds of medieval Italy, peopled with a vibrant cast of characters who spring from the page, this is Shakespeare as you’ve never read it before.

Extract:

Part One: To Borrow Cupid’s Wings

The Marangona bell in the Torre dei Lamberti had just sounded the hour. Nine of a busy Monday morning in what was once Verona’s imperial Roman forum, now its marketplace, the Piazza Erbe. The square thronged with shoppers bargaining at stalls selling meat and fish, cheese and fruit and vegetables, cheap wine and cheaper beer. In the shadows of the colonnades two youths lurked, Samson and Gregory, both servants of the Capulets. The first a skinny seventeenyear-old kitchen boy, the second a priest’s bastard from Padua, a tall and hefty stable hand shuffling on his big feet as he caught the glint of metal in Samson’s grubby hand. They wore the clothes of their class – rough wool jerkins, baggy britches, sandals held together by thread and nails. This poverty extended to the weaponry they took with them on to the streets. The sons of fine families were in the habit of carrying daggers and rapiers forged in Florence and Milan. The lower orders snatched at anything they could lay their hands on, sharp or blunt. They fought with fists and boots and punches to the balls. Died that way, too. A crude swagger stick sat on a piece of rope round Gregory’s fat stomach, a mallet handle with a spiked iron ball on the end. The blade Samson owned was nothing more than a paring knife stolen from the

kitchen, the edge honed carefully until it gleamed. He held it now, low by his side so that only his companion might see. ‘There’s that fat Montague pig Abraham with his mate. Time to put that stick of yours to some use, Gregory. Go over and wallop him. He wants it.’ Across the piazza, just visible beyond the stalls, two figures moved through the market. Much the same age as the two Capulets. Much the same size: one short and lean, one tubby and daydreaming. Samson and Gregory wore a scarlet feather in their caps. The Montagues a blue one. Not that any of these were flesh and blood of the Montague or Capulet lines. Just servants, sharing the same borrowed hatred and never asking why. Gregory kicked a fish head and stuck his fists deep into the pockets of his britches. ‘I don’t know. We’re getting hard looks from those blokes on the stalls. They don’t like trouble when they’re trying to sell stuff.’ ‘I reckon it was them Montague lads who had that kitchen girl of ours last week.’ Lucia. An orphan who worked the ovens. She’d gone out for a walk by the river. Came back in tears and rags, telling tales the soldiers of Escalus, the city’s current military master, didn’t want to hear. ‘That hare-brained lass should have been in the kitchen stirring the pots, not hanging round down them dark alleys in Sottoriva. Could have been anyone had his way with her. Besides the watchmen reckoned she was up for it. Plenty been there with that daft cow. You for one.’ ‘Scared are you?’ ‘Just thinking it through.’ The Montague pair had spotted them but they hadn’t moved their way. ‘I don’t see you in a rush either.’

Fights were fine so long as the numbers were on your side. And you had the right comrades. Samson liked to whine. It was his principal pastime. Action always came last. ‘It’s only fair. They had one of ours. A bit of gravy on their chops and then we leg it.’ Gregory pulled a stick of dried sausage out of his pocket, bit off a chunk and waited. ‘Master sent us out to buy grub for his ball tonight. He won’t be happy if we come back empty-handed.’ ‘We whack them round the head a bit. Then go hunting round the back of their palazzo. First girl that comes out of the kitchen’s mine. Unless she’s hideous – then you can have her.’ Samson had a sly and cruel face and it was turned on Gregory. ‘With a bit of luck we might get a virgin if the Montagues have got any left. You all right with that?’ ‘I’m all right with the girls. Escalus ain’t so bothered about them. It’s the walloping bit–’ ‘They got to know who’s boss. You with me or not?’ Gregory patted his pocket. He had a stable knife with him as well as the swagger stick. Short, a bit blunt. But he was strong enough to hold a struggling stallion when he had to. The thing would do. ‘I hate the buggers, too, you know. But like I say. Escalus has got that one wicked eye on lads like us. Same way his bosses in Venice have got their eyes on him. The Marshal hates riots. They get him in trouble too. I don’t fancy jail or worse just for giving one of them scummy Montagues a few bruises and a sore head.’ ‘Then let’s get clever. Make them start the scrap. I’ll look at them funny. Get ’em going. That way we’re just… defending ourselves. Which is every man’s right, and Escalus is bound to uphold us in that.’ Samson grinned, displaying a remarkable absence of teeth. ‘As

to the kitchen girls… well… everyone knows what they’re like. I want first go though. This’ll do it.’ Samson winked, grinned and bit his thumb. The oldest, stupidest gesture any of them knew. Someone said the Romans used to do it when they fancied a brawl. ‘Go on then,’ said Gregory and didn’t move. Samson looked up at him. ‘You first.’ ‘When we get around to the girl, you mean?’ ‘No. The fight. You’re the big one. You lead. I’ll follow.’ Gregory slapped him hard on the shoulder. ‘Ow,’ Samson whined. ‘That hurt.’ ‘Oh sorry, friend. We’re supposed to be buying stuff for the evening ball. There’ll be trouble if that goes wrong. Capulet will do the walloping himself and we both know what he’s like with that whip of his.’ Samson went quiet. He’d had enough of Capulet’s beatings. ‘Tell you what,’ said Gregory. ‘We’ll skip the girl. Next week. When we’ve got more time. And…’ A shape they recognised was moving through the crowds, a tall youth around their own age. But he was an aristocrat; it showed in his clothes, his manner, the haughty way he held his head above the swarms of common folk around him as if he couldn’t stand the stink of them. ‘Well, well,’ Samson murmured, gleeful all of a sudden. ‘If it isn’t our master’s well-loved nephew. Just the chap you’d want at a time like this.’ ‘I suppose,’ Gregory agreed, though the sight of the young man across the Piazza Erbe gave him pause. ‘I heard the noble Tybalt crippled a clerk who’d done nothing more than bump into him in the street a month or so ago.’

‘Dead right he did. I was there and he paid me well to keep quiet. Back last winter he ran a cheeky cart boy right through down by the brothels in Sottoriva.’ Gregory didn’t like those dark and dangerous colonnades by the river. ‘Our Tybalt got caught hanging round the tarts down there?’ ‘The only kind of girl that one beds are the sort you pay for. Expensive business. The old man had to dig deep to keep him out of Escalus’s clutches after he murdered the poor little bugger.’ Tybalt was bloodthirsty, vicious and short tempered, always armed with the latest weapons, forever spoiling for a quarrel and a chance to use them. ‘Nothing stopping our Tybalt,’ Samson added. ‘’Specially when there are Montagues around.’ He clapped his grubby hands. ‘This will be fun.’

DH
Photo: Dingena Mol / Crimezone Magazine
David Hewson
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