Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost Bad Turn #13 Charlie Fox #Series by @authorzoesharp #NewRelease #CrimeFiction

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Bad Turn by Zoe Sharp ~ #13 Charlie Fox

Synopsis ~

Ex-Special Forces trainee turned bodyguard Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox is back in this, her 13th adventure.

One bad turn…deserves another.

Charlie Fox has quit her job in close protection, been turned out of her apartment, and is apparently out of options.

House-sitting in rural New Jersey has to be the pits—TV and TV dinners. A far cry from Iraq… Bulgaria… Afghanistan. Unlucky or not, she happens to be around at the right time to foil a violent kidnap attempt on Helena, wife of billionaire arms dealer, Eric Kincaid.

Kincaid offers her a job looking after Helena. The rumours about Kincaid’s business empire say he’s gone over to the dark side, but Charlie is in no position to be fussy. And protecting people against those who want to do them harm is what she’s good at. But when the threats against the Kincaids escalate, and then follow the couple over to Europe, Charlie’s really going to have to up her game. It’s time to take the fight to the enemy.

Charlie’s at her best putting an end to trouble. Now she must learn to strike first. And hope that the Kincaids don’t discover the secret she’s been keeping from them, right from the start.

Guest Post ~ Real People Into Fictional Characters ~

Real People into Fictional Characters
BAD TURN: Charlie Fox #13

by Zoë Sharp

Inevitably, when you write, you ‘borrow’ characteristics or mannerisms you’ve noted in friends, relations, enemies, or complete strangers. This is one of the reasons writers love to sit somewhere crowded and people-watch like crazy. A twitch, a tic, a nervous gesture, the way some people look down at their shoes and pace very deliberately when they’re taking a phone call. It’s all grist to the writer’s ever-hungry mill.

I freely admit there were aspects of different real people in the early Charlie Fox books, although I refuse to comment on which characteristics those were and what use I made of them! It wasn’t until I did an event at my local library while I was plotting book four in the series that I realised people might actually want to appear in my work.

My local library in Lancaster were hugely supportive of my first steps into the world of being a published author. So, when one of the librarians mentioned that another member of staff, Andrew Till, would really, really like to be a character in a book, how could I refuse?

When FIRST DROP came out, Andrew Till was an FBI Special Agent-in-Charge who plays a vital role in helping Charlie defeat the bad guys—even if he does try to arrest her the first time they meet.

Since then, I’ve used numerous real people as characters in the books. Over the course of the series they’ve taken on the roles of PIs, LAPD detectives and CIA agents, as well as billionaire philanthropists, Charlie’s principal, main suspect, and even the outright bad guy.

I usually try, if someone has made a bid at one of the charity auctions held at events like Bouchercon, to include quirks that the donor would recognise. When I included BG Ritts in FOURTH DAY, for instance, she particularly asked me to do so in such a way that only she would recognise herself! (Well, I like a challenge.)

I’m not sure, though, that I’ve ever included quite as many real people in a single book as I have in the latest Charlie Fox outing, BAD TURN.

I ran a competition among my subscribers for two character slots in the book—one female and one male. The female part was of the woman Charlie is hired to protect. She is the wife of an extremely wealthy international arms dealer living in New Jersey and, by common consent among others in the industry, supposed to be off-limits as far as threats are concerned.

Needless to say, things don’t quite work out that way.

The male part was of a very laid-back bodyguard of the arms dealer himself. I initially made him rather too laid back, and I had to trim back some of his idiosyncrasies after my Advance Reader Team had given the book a trial run.

I made random selections from the entries and in the final book Charlie’s principal became Helena Kincaid (née Hoare). Helena admitted that her last name was not perhaps the easiest one to work with, although she also pointed out that it meant ‘white-haired’ from the same roots as hoar-frost.

The bodyguard became Hermann Schade. Because he is a character whose motivation remains clouded for much of the book, having someone whose last name might conceivably be pronounced “Shade” was perfect. I’m not sure his first name gets mentioned, though. Not in this book, anyway…

The reason Helena has the married name of Kincaid in BAD TURN is because I had already decided that the arms dealer himself was going to be named in honour of Eric Kincaid, who I think of as My Absent Host.

I call him this because on several occasions now when I’ve visited New York, he has generously allowed me to stay in his apartment up in Washington Heights, but we’ve never actually met. Eric was away for an extended period looking after his parents, hence having room to spare. Repaying his hospitality by writing him in to BAD TURN seemed the least I could do to say thank you.

And finally, one of my favourite characters is Kincaid’s Personal Assistant, Mo Heedles, who is as good at treating gunshot wounds in the book as she is at arranging her boss’s schedule. Somehow, though, I always thought of the character as Mrs Heedles. I hope Mo doesn’t mind being referred to so formally!

BAD TURN was published in ebook, mass-market paperback, hardcover and Large Print editions on September 27 2019. For more information visit www.ZoeSharp.com

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Zoe Sharp
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Link to first 3 chapters of Bad Turn

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*Apologies to Zoe & Ayo, for the post being a day late.*

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost Trust Me, I’m Dead by Sherryl Clark #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Thriller #DebutNovel #DebutAuthor @Verve_Books @sherrylwriter

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Trust Me, I’m Dead by Sherryl Clark
Synopsis ~

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 CWA DEBUT DAGGER FOR UNPUBLISHED FIRST NOVEL

She hasn’t seen her brother in years. Now, he’s dead.

When Judi Westerholme finds out her estranged brother has been murdered, she assumes it’s connected to his long term drug addiction. Returning home, she is shocked to discover he had been clean for years, had a wife – now missing – a child and led a respectable life. But if he had turned his life around, why was he killed in a drug deal shooting? And where is his wife?

Desperate to know what really happened, Judi sets out to uncover the truth, even though it means confronting her own traumatic past.
But she’s not the only one looking for answers…

With a gutsy, unapologetic protagonist, Trust Me, I’m Dead is a gritty and bold crime thriller that explores the sacrifices people will make for their families.

Guest Post ~

Writing about families and siblings

Our family is like any other – full of ups and downs, slights and offences, great memories and lots of fun. I’ve discovered over the years that my sisters, brother and I seem to have the same sense of humour – I’m not sure how that happened or if it’s usual! I’ve written poems about my family, but I haven’t put them in a novel.

But other people’s families? They’re loaded with story ideas! I still remember years ago being told by a friend that they refused to spend Christmas Day with their family because ‘we all hate each other’. At the time, it stunned me. Now I know this is not unusual at all. While there are a lot of novels about parents and children, abuse and estrangement, and long-held hatreds, I was more interested in siblings. I was especially interested in the saying, You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.

Sibling relationships seem to fall into two camps in the stories I hear. One camp is where everyone is friends. The other camp is full of envy, jealousy, comparing achievements and failures, and stewing on old grievances. I wondered about families where the parents were unloving, and how siblings might band together, support and strengthen each other and, if that failed, how the guilt and remorse might echo down the years.

We put such demands on each other. And where one sibling absolves the other of responsibility and simply asks for help, what might make the answer No? If you’ve been madly trying to pretend there is nothing wrong with you, while you push people away and refuse to commit, you might even push your own brother away when he needs you.

Thus was born Trust Me, I’m Dead. I initially read an article about someone who died and left behind an audio cassette of secrets that changed everything his family thought they knew. In my novel, I have a sister and brother, Judi and Andy, and a family history that both binds them and pulls them apart. The background to the story is Melbourne’s gangland wars, where families were murdered in revenge – even small children saw their parents killed. It was a horrific period in the city’s recent history that continues to echo, and became the perfect setting and plot stirrer for my characters and my novel.

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Sherryl Clark
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TRUST ME, I'M DEAD Blog Blitz schedule

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost by Patricia Macdonald #TheGirlInTheWoods #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease @blackthornbks

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The Girl In The Woods by Patricia Macdonald
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

“I have to tell you something. I did something bad.”

Fifteen years ago, Blair’s best friend Molly was murdered.
Fifteen years ago, Adrian Jones went to prison for it.
Fifteen years ago, the real killer got away with it.

And now, Blair’s terminally ill sister has made a devastating deathbed confession, which could prove that the wrong man has been imprisoned for years – and that Molly’s killer is still out there. Blair’s determined to find him, but the story behind Molly’s death is more twisted than she could imagine. If she isn’t careful, the killer will ensnare her and bury Blair with his secret.

Guest Post ~

Readers often ask me where I get my ideas for my books. In truth, I am always searching for the odd news story which piques my interest and engages my emotions. The inspiration for one of my books, NOT GUILTY, was a tiny article about a man who put a new, in ground pool in his backyard, even though he could not swim. When his toddler fell in, the man instinctively jumped in to save him, and drowned. I kept asking myself why anyone would do something so reckless and potentially dangerous—excavate a deep pooI in their yard when they had small children, and couldn’t swim. It seemed an improbable idea on which to base a book, but I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I finally decided to use it. It was both satisfying and difficult to create that murderous plot, but I was happy with the results.

If only there were a reliable source that I could consult whenever I needed inspiration! Just as important as inspiration, I need a story that will continue to interest me for the year or so which it takes to produce a book. It ought to be simpler than it is. I write suspense novels, so my story always centers around a crime, and the crime is always murder. But even though the news is full of murders, very few of them are sufficiently interesting to make me want to write a book.

It’s easier to say which crimes wouldn’t interest me than which would. I am never attracted to murders committed for financial gain. Greed seems a pitiful reason to kill. I’m not interested in the Mob, or gang warfare. Anything having to do with drugs puts me to sleep. And as much as I enjoy a good serial killer on the page or in a film, I never want to write about one. Their victims should be apparently unrelated, so that the investigators have to search for a pattern. I adore the search, but am invariably disappointed when the killer is finally cornered, and the trigger is revealed. It’s a letdown to learn that our diabolically clever criminal is some loser killing random girls who resemble someone that rejected him in high school.

No, I want something tortured and shameful as a motive. I want a tormented psyche formed by thwarted desires and family secrets. This is where the writer in me has to get busy. In addition to the killer, I have to create other characters who are also plausible as potential villains. This entails creating family histories for multiple characters who might have the motive to inspire mayhem. Luckily, this is part of the work which I enjoy.

Once I have my crime and my killer, I need an opening which will hold the reader’s interest while I set up the pieces of my chess game, if you will. My latest book, THE GIRL IN THE WOODS, opens with a deathbed confession. I always wanted to write about a deathbed confession, not only for the drama and the emotion of it, but because most of us have misapprehensions about the legal value of a such a confession. There are actually very interesting limits to its usefulness. This gave me two avenues to pursue, the psychological and the legal. I like to think that these dovetailed nicely in THE GIRL IN THE WOODS. I felt as if I met the challenges of this plot, but now, alas, it is behind me. Once again, I am searching for that rare and elusive source of inspiration, which will make me want to write again.

Pat Macdonald
Patricia Macdonald
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost ~ Why Write A Ghost Story? ~ #Haverscroft by @salharris1 #NewRelease #GhostStory @saltpublishing

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Haverscroft by S.A. Harris
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

Kate Keeling leaves all she knows and moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage. Little does she realise, Haverscroft’s dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity, her husband and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. Can Kate keep her children safe and escape Haverscroft in time, even if it will end her marriage?

Haverscroft is a gripping and chilling dark tale, a modern ghost story that will keep you turning its pages late into the night.

Guest Post ~

Why Write a Ghost Story?

What influences a Gothic novel; books, films and TV adaptions? Certainly, some have made an impression and I will come to those in a second, but firstly, there is something else. Advise often given to fledgling writers is to Write what you know. So how do you write a ghost story, assuming most of us will not experience the supernatural, even if we wanted too? I have not seen a ghost but I still have knowledge and experience of many aspects of my novel, one way or another. Let me explain what I mean.

One of my earliest memories is being held in the arms of someone who wasn’t my mother. Winter was giving way to spring, a crisp bright day. We were in a sunken garden at the end of a long, sloping lawn as she held me up to the branches of willow tree. I recall extending my red woollen mitten towards fluffy grey catkins, watching them swing in the sunshine, all the time aware of the huge, brooding house behind us.
The house was the home of my great aunt and uncle. They sold it before I turned three years old. My novel, Haverscroft, is a haunted house story. At the rear of Haverscroft House is a terrace similar to the one at my great aunt’s house; French doors overlook the garden, a long stretch of lawn flows to willow trees and a pond. My aunt’s house didn’t have a pond, or at least I don’t remember one which is probably a good thing – for more on that, see the novel!

Twenty-five years later I married and we moved to our current home, an 1840’s townhouse. Abandoned and empty for some time, it needed major refurbishment but the upside was it meant most of the original features were still there; fireplaces, shuttered windows, an old back staircase. The cold floor tiles that suck the warmth from Kate Keeling’s feet in Haverscroft are in our front hall. The many small brass doorknobs and locks missing their keys are on just about every door, and in the garden, the wisteria I planted more than 20 years ago drips purple blossom beyond the double French doors as I write.

There are far more ‘going’s on,’ (as my character, Shirley Cooper would say) at Haverscroft House than has happened in our home. For that, I am hugely grateful, but the back-drop, the setting, is all around me every day. I have never found our home sinister or creepy but our three children sometimes do; floorboards creak, a weak door catch clicks when a draught forces it open. More than one visitor suggests there is a very bad atmosphere at one end of our daughter’s bedroom and our son, when he was tiny, spoke of the lady in the long black dress standing in the corner of our front sitting room.
Write what you know. So I guess I have followed that advise then layered on top all the dramatic events typical of an M.R.James style gothic tale. You probably will not be surprised to know I’ve enjoyed reading authors such as Stephen King, Susan Hill, Daphne du Maurier. I have loved Kate Mosse’s The Winter Ghosts, Michelle Paver’s Dark Matter and I am currently reading her latest novel Wakenhyrst. Not everything I read is dark but much of it tends to be, the rise in popularity of the psychological thriller gave me much to enjoy along with older titles such as John Fowles’ The Collector.

Generally, I’m not a horror film fan. Stakes through the heart and gallons of blood and gore are not usually for me. An exception is Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (1999), heads may roll but it all adds to the unsettling tense atmosphere. I love the sinister creepiness of The Others (2001), Sixth Sense (1999) or The Orphanage (2017).

Two TV dramas made a big impression, perhaps because I was younger when they aired, Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black (1989) was terrifying, the atmosphere, chilling and I never forget to close the curtains on a dark night against the vampires in Salem’s Lot (1979). The children hanging outside the window, nails scratching against the glass, is an image indelibly printed in my memory.

So has writing Haverscroft got the Gothic out of my system? Is one ghost story enough? Perhaps I should branch out next time into romance, thrillers or chic-lit? My second novel, Silent Goodbye, is set on the Suffolk coast. The setting is clear in my head, the characters have wandered into my mind and made a home there. I keep feeling the need to travel to Dunwich, to take a walk along an empty beach and watch the waves roll in. And my great aunt and uncle, when they relocated from the brooding old house moved to Southwold, a property looking out across the North Sea. My memory is a rich seam to mine but do I believe in ghosts? Well, I’ve never seen one, but if I keep writing about them there’s still time yet to follow that advise and write what you know…

SAH
S.A. Harris
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Anne Bonny #Blog Tour #GuestPost The Secret Super Power Of Stories ~ The Storyteller by @pierre_jarawan #NewRelease #LiteraryFiction @WorldEdBooks #TheStoryteller #TranslatedLit

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The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan
Translated by Sinead Crowe and Rachel McNicholl

Synopsis ~

Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family’s new homeland, Germany, for volatile Beirut in an attempt to find his missing father. The only clues Samir has are an old picture of his father and the memory of the bedtime stories he used to tell. The Storyteller follows the turbulent search of a son for a father whose heart had always kept yearning for his homeland Lebanon. In this moving and engaging novel about family secrets, love, and friendship, Pierre Jarawan does for Lebanon what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan. He pulls away the curtain of grim facts and figures portrayed in the media and shows an intimate truth of what it means to come from a country torn apart by civil war. With this beautiful and suspenseful story, full of images, Jarawan proves to be a masterful storyteller himself.

Guest Post ~

The Storyteller begins with a comic scene: Samir’s father Brahim tries to install a satellite dish on the roof of the house, making it point 26 degrees east in order to receive Lebanese TV programs. The longer it takes Brahim to get it to point in the right direction, the more neighbors come and make comments until, finally, Arabic music is heard coming from the living room window and everybody starts dancing. Samir, the boy whose father will disappear a few weeks later, says:

It was crazy. It was magical! At this moment, there was nothing that would have indicated we were living in Germany. This could have been a side street in Zahle, the city where Father was born at the foot of the Lebanon Mountains. Zahle, city of wine and poetry, city of writers and poets. Around us, nothing but Lebanese people, talking and eating and partying in Lebanese fashion.

There is a feeling of warmth and comfort in that scene. Samir, who was born in Germany after his parents had to leave Lebanon because of the Civil War, feels at home and he defines home as “Lebanese”.

When I started writing The Storyteller I wanted to write a novel about a family that is torn apart between two countries. And Samir to me is a typical representative of the second generation of immigrants we have in Germany, but also the UK and so many other countries. This generation did not make the decision to move to these countries themselves. It was made for them. I, myself, am part of that generation too. I consider myself lucky. My father is Lebanese, my mother is German. I learned the best from both worlds. When I got asked what country I considered my home, I always said: both.

Things are different for Samir. And in that respect he represents all the difficulties young men and women of that second generation can face. In most cases their parents keep glorifying their old home. They watch Lebanese (or Turkish or …) TV, eat Lebanese food, get together with other people from Lebanon with whom they speak Arabic… and the children? They end up asking themselves where home really is. Although they go to the neighborhood school, speak the local language better than their parents and have local friends, they experience difficulties in developing an identity. Samir’s father is a great storyteller. And while every child loves having a great storyteller as a father, in Samir’s case these stories cause him to face personal conflicts, because they are about an image of Lebanon which is presented to him in these stories as paradise on earth; they literally make him dream about living there.

Only many years later, when Samir sets foot in Lebanon for the first time in order to solve the riddle of his father’s disappearance which tore apart his family’s idyll twenty years ago, he learns that there is and always has been a dark side to his father’s stories about the country – a side that was never mentioned.

What’s happening in Europe with the current “refugee crisis” had an immediate effect on me. It was in 2015 when I composed the sentence “I am the son of refugees myself” for the first time in my life. I had never seen myself or my parents in this way. They never saw themselves or talked about themselves as refugees. We were simply a German-Lebanese-Family. Period. It’s kind of strange, that in times where “truth” has become a nebulous term people are fighting over, I started to see my family’s truth clearer than ever before.

If you would ask me if literature, if books, if stories have a secret super power, I would say: Yes! I could cite countless statistics about how many people died in a conflict or while crossing the Mediterranean in a small boat or about how many young men and women are part of that second generation of immigrant families and are experiencing similar difficulties as Samir. But it is most likely that this would not cause you to reflect. It is different with stories. Statistics live in the head, while stories reside in the heart. Ultimately it is in the heart that stories can change you, and your way of thinking.

The Storyteller by Pierre Jararwan and translated by Sinead Crowe and Rachel McNicholl is published by World Editions in paperback on 4 April 2019 at £11.99

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Pierre Jarawan
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