Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Lies Between Us – Ronnie Turner #BlogTour

Psychological Thriller
4*s

It wouldn’t be overstating things to say I have been very excited to see what fellow book blogger Ronnie Turner would come up with for her debut novel and so I couldn’t have been more delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour to celebrate its publication on 1 October 2018. I’m pleased to delclare that the result was not what I expected with her creation being more subtle and yet far more satisfying than many offerings in the psychological thriller genre.

Lies Between Us is three stories in one, with each one having a separate narrator. Their tales arouse both sympathy and horror along with firing up my nosiness as the author slowly reveals the secrets and lies that are lurking, sometimes in plain sight.

Miller’s story is downright creepy and begins in his childhood in the 1980s. Miller is the child that everyone avoids. Clearly disturbed he carries around the seven deadly sins in a rucksack on his back. But, as he grows he learns to hide these, not because he wants to be nice but because he knows it will allow him to get exactly what he wants.

In the present, successful writer John is happily married to Jules and they have a beautiful daughter Bonnie then one ordinary day while the two are having a minor tiff in the kitchen, Bonnie disappears. The despair is overwhelming and the police have few clues to pursue but they cling to hope as the kidnapper gives them proof that Bonnie is alive, for now.

Also in the present, Tim is in a coma and as his wife Heidi and young daughter visit daily, Masie the ICU nurse is on the side-lines, efficiently doing her job. Maisie is drawn to Heidi and the two begin a friendship as they sit beside the silent man watching and listening to the endless bleeps of the machines keeping him alive. But, Maisie has her own secrets and she thinks she detects that Heidi does too.

These separate stories were clearly signposted and each one had me enthralled in their own right but of course what I really wanted to know was how they were connected.

It was genuinely hard to believe that this book was the author’s debut novel, it was expertly structured with the pacing even throughout. I didn’t get the feeling that I was on a roller-coaster as I do with many in this genre only to find the final swoop is disappointing compared to the rest of the ride, it wasn’t that type of read which in my mind is to be applauded. Instead there was plenty to interest me not only in each of the narrator’s individual stories, but my mind was kept busy trying to connect the seemingly disparate dots.

Ultimately this is a story of obsession but we also meet love, loss, despair and damage to along the way. The genuine exploration of the effects of these was one of the things I enjoyed most about Lies Between Us. Too often I find, having read a wealth of books in this genre, the pointers to the emotions we have all met in our lives are used to move the story on but when examined in the cold light of day, are revealed as just that, devices. Ronnie Turner in slowing the pacing has allowed us to examine them in more detail and therefore experience them second-hand, with feeling.

First Published UK: 1 October 2018
Publisher: HQ
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK

Amazon US – audiobook

Author Bio

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. Ronnie now lives in Dorset with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. She is currently working on her second novel.

Twitter:@Ronnie_ _Turner
Facebook: @RonnieTurnerAuthor
Instagram: @ronnieturner8702
Website: http://www.ronnieturner.wordpress.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RonnieTurner

#LiesBetweenUs #WhereIsBonnie?

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on this blog tour – Ronnie Turner has definitely generated interest with her fellow book bloggers!

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Come A Little Closer – Rachel Abbott #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview

The publication of another DCI Tom Douglas always provokes excitement and so I was thrilled to take part on the BlogTour to promote its publication on 15 February 2018.

Before we get to my review of the latest thrilling episode Rachel Abbott kindly agreed to tell me about her last five reads – spookily so many of these, well all in fact, also sit on my own bookshelf. How many are on yours?

My Last Five Reads by Rachel Abbott

I have just finished a book called Hell Bay by the wonderful Kate Rhodes. I have been a fan of her books for a number of years, and nobody gives a better sense of place or character than this author. The body of a teenage girl is washed up on the shore of a small island in the Scilly Isles and a new detective – DI Ben Kitto – is asked to investigate. I suspect this is not the last we will see of Kitto – I certainly hope not.

 

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is another of my recent reads. Such a clever plot, and the strands slowly come together to a dramatic conclusion. It’s another story about a teenage girl who goes missing, but ten years later, when her mother has given up all hope of finding Ellie, she meets a new man and her heart almost stops when she meets his daughter. She is the image of Ellie. It is rare when a thriller also breaks your heart, but this one does just that.

This book isn’t out until April, but it’s available for pre-order now. I was lucky enough to be able to get a pre-release copy. As with all books by Sharon Bolton, one of my favourite authors, The Craftsman delivers compulsive reading. Dark and disturbing, it is the story of a Larry Glassbrook who confesses to a series of child murders. But now he is dead, and the young policewoman who originally arrested him returns to the scene. Did she get it wrong all those years ago, or is history about to repeat itself?

Although there is nothing current about this book, I recently reread Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I was asked to run a workshop on How to Write Suspense, and I wanted to use examples from a single book. Rebecca was the first novel to come to mind, and reading it with the specific purpose of focusing on the language was a wonderful experience. I have always loved the story – which I suspect needs no introduction to readers of this blog – but this time I enjoyed it for du Maurier’s amazing choice of words.

One of the books I have been looking forward to since I first heard of it is Anatomy of a Scandal (and what a brilliant title!). It is the story of a junior Home Office minister, James, who is accused of rape by one of this colleagues. The point of view shifts between James, his wife and the prosecuting barrister, and author Sarah Vaughan manages to combine all the elements of a psychological thriller with a tense and exciting court room drama. It was certainly worth waiting for; the plot twists and turns to the very end.

 

All I can say is that Rachel Abbott has very good taste in books!

My Review

Crime Fiction
5*s

Well we are already up to number seven in the DCI Tom Douglas and all I can say is Rachel Abbott keeps coming up with original ideas for our dear detective to solve. This book is dark and yet delicious.

I’ll admit I was a tad confused at the beginning. First there is a dead body in a twitcher’s hide with no clue how she got there, next there a young woman is jetting away from her awful boyfriend to visit Myanmar in memory of her dearly missed grandfather and lastly and most confusingly there are some women, who don’t talk and listen for footsteps. All very weird and if I didn’t trust Rachel Abbott as much as I do, I’d swear she’d lost the plot so to speak. Fortunately she hasn’t, it’s all under control, careful control with more than a dash of inspirational writing.

As always I was drawn into the story, ok I might not have had a clue what was unfolding but that doesn’t mean that each separate strand wasn’t compelling in its own right and I was more than happy to follow wherever it took me. Well that was a mistake, this book freaked me out! This author knows how to pull the spook out of the bag without any warning. Give me blood and gore any day to something that is completely crazy on one level, but absolutely believable on another. This is all the harder because the book is jam-packed full of action and so you barely have time to catch your breath following revelations in one strand when you are hit with something big in another strand.

As you can probably tell, I’m not able to give much away of what the plot consists of as that would entirely spoil the surprise for you. What I can say is we have the same characters in the Manchester CID. Becky is pregnant and not willing to sit back and watch Tom have all the excitement, the junior officer is a clever cookie and will clearly go far sitting back and putting the clues together to move the investigation forward and the chief is still urging Tom to attend meetings about crime figures. The other characters are brilliantly drawn with Ian the awful boyfriend being a composition of men you will have met in your lifetime however lucky you’ve been. Callie his girlfriend is far too nice but just finding the guts to do what she wants, hence the solo trip to Myanmar. The women in the shadows are also real women, once they speak, underlining one of the trademarks of these books that even the minor characters are not skimped. The look and behave as people you meet do. Ok so hopefully the people you meet aren’t in quite so much danger, but you know what I mean.

If you’re reading this series you really don’t want to miss out on this episode, it starts well and builds into such a crescendo it had me gasping for breath. If you aren’t reading this series and you enjoy brilliant crime fiction, why not?

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Rachel for providing me with an advance review copy of Come A Little Closer and for agreeing to provide an insight into her own reading habits. This unbiased review is my thank you to her.

First Published UK: 15 February 2018
Publisher: Black Dot Publishing Ltd
No of Pages: 406
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Discover Rachel Abbott here

Web : http://www.rachel-abbott.com
Blog: rachelabbottwriter.com
Twitter: @RachelAbbott
Facebook: RachelAbbott1Writer
Video: https://vimeo.com/253996703

 

The Rachel Abbott DCI Tom Douglas Books in order:

Only The Innocent
The Back Road
Sleep Tight
Stranger Child
Nowhere Child (Novella)
Kill Me Again
The Sixth Window

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Last Day – Claire Dyer #BookTour #GuestPost #BookReview

I was delighted to be invited to take part in this blog tour especially as the author generously offered to write an exclusive post.

Read what Claire Dyer has to say about polyamorous relationships!

The love triangle bug

Like many authors, I’ve caught the love triangle bug.

It all started when I took part in one of those ‘sum up your book in three words’ things on Twitter. I’d just begun the novel that was to become The Last Day and replied, ‘Crazy Love Triangle’ but I didn’t really know at that stage how this particular love triangle would play out.

I’d also been aware of features in the press about polyamorous relationships which seem, on the face of it, supremely glamorous but, being a monogamous type, I do struggle to understand how these might actually work out.

But, in the spirit of tapping into the zeitgeist, I wanted to blend the two and so in the novel I have my three main characters living in the same house as one another and all loving each other in slightly different ways, the result of which is that decisions get made and choices are taken that change their lives forever.

And, what I also decided to do in The Last Day was to alter the standard dynamics of the love triangle and make my two heroines like each other. As Vita says about her husband’s new lover, ‘… it would have been easier if I’d hated her’ but she doesn’t. What I wanted to do in this book was to talk above love in its many colours and so in my love triangle, there are no clear lines. In fact, it’s less of a triangle and more of a Venn diagram with a number of interlocking sections.

However, let’s just think about some other love triangles. There’s Scarlett, Ashley and Rhett in Gone With the Wind; Ilsa, Rick and Victor in Casablanca; Bella, Edward and Jacob in The Twilight Saga; Bridget, Mark and Daniel in Bridget Jones’s Diary and the huge array of triangles in Jane Austen’s novels, including: Elizabeth, Darcy & Wickham; Marianne, Brandon and Willoughby; Elinor, Edward and Lucy, and let’s not even get started on Shakespeare! The list, it seems, is quite endless.

What is it that makes love triangles so beguiling? Personally, I love writing them because they’re a challenge: can I write from three different points of view and make each one so that the reader believes in them and wants what they want, so that if there is a ‘happy ever after’, even if someone has to lose out in the end, the reader is on the side of all three?

The plot possibilities of love triangles are infinite and that’s what makes writing them such a wonderful thing to do.

 

My Review

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

The Last Day is a poignant and beautifully written novel and although it is quite different to my normal choice of reading matter, I loved it.

The synopsis had me wondering what I’d let myself in for. We have Boyd in his forties moving in with his wife along with his twenty-seven year old new girlfriend. The cynic in me doubted whether this was really a likely scenario but what Claire Dyer excels at is characterisation, and boy did these characters get under my skin.

Boyd and Vita have been separated for six years and the reader has to wait quite a while to find out what their last day consisted of before the decision was made to go their separate ways. Honey the young girlfriend works with Boyd at his Estate agency along with the steadfast Trixie. Honey is far more likeable than I’d imagined she would be but like all of the protagonists in the book has secrets. As the book progresses I wondered which one of these was going to blow the roof off the set-up. Boyd, Vita and Honey are people with faults and pasts, but they are also incredibly real and ultimately ‘nice’ people. If you are looking for a tale of discord, this isn’t the book for you.

The story is told from different viewpoints with each chapter devoted to one or other of the characters. This is done so very well as we slowly get to know all the different aspects to each one. I’ll admit I was drawn in by the excellent writing; this was one of those books that I started and knew that I would enjoy whichever direction the book followed. This isn’t a typical tale of dysfunction, it is actually a sympathetic portrayal of marriage, love the way life changes and grief. Now I usually steer well clear of books concerning grief because this is a topic I don’t like to dwell on but perhaps because the grief in this novel is not raw and the characters concerned have an understanding of the journey they’ve been through, I found it in accordance with my own experiences in some of the smaller details. I certainly think it helped that the author somehow manages to acknowledge that everyone grieves differently.

This is a reflective book which if I were reading those words in another person’s review I’d take to mean slow, but this book isn’t. Instead it is one of those rare novels book that allows you to think about what you’ve read, sometimes by reading between the words, a difficult skill to pull off but so very effective when it is done as well as it is in The Last Day. I doubt whether there will be many readers that don’t happen upon a situation or characteristic that they recognise either in themselves or someone close to them.

As I said earlier the characters make this book, there is a certain amount of looking back which I think is common once we get to a certain age, but plenty to keep the reader entertained with the emotions that lie behind the characters actions. There is a mystery, a secret – or two or three – and a bit of danger to spice things up so there is no time to get bored. I was very sad to say goodbye to all the characters but particularly Vita and her pet portraits as she entertained me with her no-nonsense attitude, one that hides a multitude of complexities.

I’d like to say a big thank you to The Dome Press who provided me with an advance copy of The Last Day. This unbiased review is my thank you to them. Even better I realised that I have one of this author’s previous books The Perfect Affair on my kindle and it now won’t be long before I read that one too.

First Published UK: 15 February 2018
Publisher:The Dome Press
No of Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Blog Tour

When A Killer Strikes by R.C. Bridgestock #blogtour #AuthorPost

I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the blog tour to celebrate the publication of the eighth in the DI Dylan series: When A Killer Strikes by R.C. Bridgestock which was published on 19 October 2017.

One half of RC Bridgestock, Carol agreed to share with me the important books that shaped her childhood and I hope you’ll agree it’s a fascinating, and for me, full of familiar and much-loved books.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on the woollen carpet, in the Children’s Corner at King Cross Library. It was to the right, inside the door but was cut off from the rest of the library by open book shelves that even I could see over for that reassuring smile from my mum choosing her own library books. I remember feeling safe and warm, those big cast iron radiators the colour of the mahogany woodwork didn’t half blast out some heat! Many-a-time, after a long day at school and the walk from school I recall laying on my tummy on the floor, the smell of old books that I’d pulled from the shelves to surround me and the quietness, the solitude would nearly lull me to sleep. The little solid, wooden chairs that slid underneath a child sized dark wooden table were always shiny and clean. I hung onto my library cards, with pride. The librarian had put my name on them, they belonged to me. I think I loved the books from the library more than I loved the books my mum and dad bought for me. Library time, was my time and space to explore and dream, sitting on that old, worn carpet… I loved the fact that the corners of the books pages were worn and thin from being thumbed so much. The books were alive to me, and the proof was the marks left on them by those who had read the books before me. I could feel in them the time that had passed since they’d read them. And now it was my turn.

             King Cross Library – Source Calderdale Libraries

 

My mother loved reading, still does, although her eyes are failing – thank goodness for technology, her iPad her best friend. It was on her knee that I recall being read the Five Little Kittens. I loved that book. I don’t forget the books I read when I was a child. They are burned in my brain, and each has its own scent, its rhythm and beat, which has stayed with me all that time. I remember where and when I read them, their shape, their thickness of the paper, the picture on the cover, if there was one. I even remember if the pages had come loose, or had been torn out and mended by the concerned, diligent librarian, the healer and surgeon of tattered books, it told me it was a much loved story book and one I knew I wanted to read. I even loved the yellowing pages and the stains, but most of all, I loved the notes written in the margins in many strange and different hands, and the drawings, and pictures – they made me smile. I could well imagine a few cross words from mum if I’d have done that. Last year I purchased an original copy of Five Little Kittens, which is in our bookcase and I now read it to our grandchildren.

 

It’s a simple storyline, mother cat goes to town to do some shopping whilst the kittens try to help clear up at home. It all goes terribly wrong but everything works out fine in the end. It’s beautifully illustrated and the pictures alone tell the story for me without the need for words, although it does have them.

Yes, I had a copy of this book with the self-same cover.

I learnt to read with the help of the Janet and John books, at Warley Road Infant School. Our teacher was a little old lady, who tied her grey hair up in a bun that sat in the nape of her neck. I can’t recall her name but what I do remember was that she was as round as she was tall. If we did well at reading she would let us choose a treat from her rusty old tin, that she kept in the right hand drawer of her desk. A sugar coated pineapple cube, a pear drop, a mint, or a thrupenny bit… What fun!

Your teacher sounds wonderful Carol my learn-to-read gurus were Peter and Jane.

Famous ‘Five On Treasure Island’: This was the book that lured me hook, line and sinker into the reading world. I still remember it like yesterday; my mum, dad, brother and I had just moved south. Away from my all friends, and my grandparents… I was eight, I was lonely. We lived near the sea, a harbour and I could see the Isle of Wight across The Solent. Little did I know that nearly forty years later the Island that I had called my ‘Treasure Island’ would become our home. Ah, the mysterious world of Julian, Anne, Dick and my favourite George made me forget my loneliness, and soon I made new friends and we had our own little adventures. Thank you Enid Blyton for bringing me to a world of limitless imagination.

Yes, another snap I credit the entire Famous Five series for my enduring love of crime fiction which may well be why I’m currently reading When A Killer Strikes.

The book from childhood that had the greatest impact on my life was The Diary of Anne Frank. This diary of a truly courageous young woman. Born June 12, 1929, was a German-Jewish teenager who was forced to go into hiding during the Holocaust. She and her family, along with four others, spent 25 months during World War II in an annex of rooms above her father’s office in Amsterdam. After being betrayed to the Nazis, Anne, her family, and the others living were arrested and deported to Nazi concentration camps. In March of 1945, nine months after she was arrested, Anne Frank died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen. She was fifteen years old – the same age as me. Her diary was saved by one of the people who helped the family. It made me feel very lucky, and grateful for all I had, and thankful that I was living in the now, not then.

And another yes! When I read this book I was aware of my Jewish ancestors, my immediate family having moved to the East End of London from Amsterdam. Much later I visited the Anne Frank Museum and found many of the family names in their book of those who were sent to concentration camps from the city.

The book I love reading to my grandchildren is, ‘Guess How Much I Love You?’ (Little Nutbrown Hare)

I think that this is one of the greatest books ever written. If it were required reading for all, the world would be a much better place!

I don’t have any grandchildren yet but when I do this book will also go on my bookshelf.

When A Killer Strikes by R.C. Bridgestock 

Blurb

“Boss, we’ve got a body”.
Detective Sergeant Vicky Hardacre, greets him at the scene, but what awaits them behind the blood red door of Colonial House is undoubtedly a murder. The approach identifies several prime suspects. But who is telling the truth; and who is lying?
Before the killer can be caught, another body is discovered, this time in a putrefying mixture of mud and slime, lain among the remnants of decaying food within a waste-bin shelter. Now it’s the task of the man in charge to make the call.
Are the two murders connected?
There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by working long hours, within strict budgets, and the usual pressure from above to obtain quick results.
However, Dylan is distracted by personal matters, with Jen being keen to seal the deal on a renovation project. He suggests they delay finalising the purchase; until he discovers the significance of the house, and that it’s about to be demolished.
In his absence, Jen’s pleas for help from his estranged siblings are answered, resulting in hidden secrets coming to light, as Dylan continues, through a twisting and turning plot, to ensure justice is done in respect of the murder victims, whose bright hopes for the future were cruelly snatched away. Amazon

Sounds good doesn’t it? My review will be up shortly but you can buy your own copy from:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Blog Tour

The Camaraderie of Crime by Simon Booker #blogtour

Blurb

‘They got the right matches. But did they get the right person?’

This summer Simon Booker is back. The prime-time TV murder mystery writer, with a voice that reads like ‘Val McDermid meets Stephen King’ (Hadley Freeman), returns withKill Me Twice, and we’d love for you to take part in the blog tour to launch this book.

Kill Me Twice finds investigative journalist Morgan Vine on the rise, her ‘one woman innocence project’ book become a bestseller, and she’s the go-to for everyone trying to overturn a wrongful conviction. But one of these cases catches her eye more than most…

Anjelica Fry is in prison for murdering her ex, Karl Savage, in an arson attack. Multiple forensic experts testified to finding his charred remains. Proving her innocence seems an impossible task. . It doesn’t matter that Karl was abusive. That Anjelica has a baby to care for. That she’s petrified of fire. The whole world knows Karl is dead.

Then he turns up outside Morgan’s window . . . A compulsively gripping thriller with a truly kick-ass female lead in Morgan Vine, Simon Booker turns up the heat in this follow up to his critically acclaimed debut Without Trace.

 

Sadly due to the sadness that has dominated this summer with both myself and my partner losing a parent in the space of two months, I haven’t managed to read Simon Booker’s second book featuring Morgan Vine yet but I do have a copy of Kill Me Twice sitting patiently on the bookshelf ready to read. This is a book I’m eager to get to after having enjoyed Without Trace so much and so I’m thrilled that Simon Booker has written a lovely post on the camaraderie in the crime writing community. This has just reaffirmed my vow that next summer I will manage to get to Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate!

 

The camaraderie of crime

  

Crime pays. Every crime writer knows that (although it’s true for some more than others.) But what every crime writer also knows is that we’re part of a writing community unlike any other. I’m writing this having just returned from the Theakston’s crime writing festival at Harrogate. Four days of panels, writers, readers, publishers, editors, publicists, bloggers and would-be writers, all spilling out of the Old Swan Hotel, onto the lawns, to gossip and chat, talk about books and catch up with old friends, as well as make new ones. I’ve been writing professionally for a bazillion years – TV drama, mainly, prime time murder mysteries for BBC and ITV, but now crime novels too – and I’ve never encountered such a mutually supportive group of creative people, all taking pleasure in each other’s company and sharing the rollercoaster ride of the publishing world. Of course there is a pecking order, and of course there are occasional squabbles and petty rivalries (and jealousy too – we’re only human FFS!) but there’s also a sense of camaraderie unrivalled in the world of books.

The cliché is that crime writers vent our everday frustrations on the page – killing off several people before breakfast – something that allows us to be ‘sunny’ in real life. Romance writers, meanwhile, are said to be filled with disappointment and disillusion, and not the kind of people you want to invite to the pub. As someone who has written rom-coms for US TV (one starring Anna Frield and Rob Lowe, and yes, his eyes really are that blue) I couldn’t possibly comment…

But I remember once attending a posh dinner of very grand Literary Types – more Booker winners than you could shake a stick at – and being painfully aware of how stilted the evening was, and of how everyone seemed to be trying to outfox and out-do each other, rather than enjoy each other’s company.

The same cannot be said of the crime-writing fraternity. Who’s that bloke in the silly hat, laughing with the woman in shorts? Oh, it’s Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. And that man over there, the one in shorts and shades, chatting with Ian Rankin? Oh, it’s Simon Kernick. I asked him if he’d like to read my new Morgan Vine thriller, KILL ME TWICE. He said yes, and a few weeks later offered a quote for the cover. ‘Simon Booker’s fast-paced, twisty thrillers are a must-read for anyone who loves a good page-turner’. Likewise Mark Billingham. ‘A cracking read.’ If that’s not solidarity – and generosity, and camaraderie – I don’t know what is.

 If you’d like to read a FREE 25-page short story, in which Morgan Vine must outwit an escaped prisoner who takes her hostage in her isolated Dungeness shack, please go to simonbooker.com

 

Posted in Blog Tour

Thriller writing – why Isolation is essential by Sophie Jonas-Hill Nemesister #Blogtour

 

 

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Nemesister and especially thrilled that Sophie agreed to write a piece especially for my blog, one that I hope you find as fascinating as I have. So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Sophie.

Thriller writing – why Isolation is essential  

At some point, every thriller writer will need to isolate their protagonist. The reasons for this are two fold – an isolated person has no one to ask for help and so has to fall back on their own devices and b) otherwise the book will probably end too quickly. As social animals, one of this things we fear most of is being alone, especially when we’re in trouble. For most of us being alone is unsettling at best, terrifying at worst, and people who crave isolation and separation are viewed with a mix of awe and distrust. As a writer, you have to think where your character might have to go to end up alone, and how sensibly they’re able to get there without it looking like a massively clumsy plot-device.

“Why goodness me,’ said John, ‘I never thought I’d actually win the all expenses paid solo trip to the Canadian Rockies, without an escort or working phone, but now I have I can’t wait to get there, even though my psychotic ex-girlfriend and ace mountaineer is still stalking me – ‘ yeah, you have to be a bit more subtle than that!

Mobile phones might be seen as a curse when trying to isolate your protagonist, but they’re actually a blessing – we’re so used to them, that when they don’t work we’re all the more vulnerable simple because we don’t make other provisions and so panic. In the old day of Nokia, they would last for days without a re-charge, which meant looking at more permanent ways to disable them – ‘Oh no,’ said John, ‘That elephant has just sat on my Nokia, I should never have left it there!’ but now, thanks to the myriad of functions on a smart phone, they only have to be a few hours from a charger and a few miles from a phone mast, and they’ve cut you off as completely as a blizzard in the olden days. I have a part in a current work in progress, where my main character finds her phone has died and, like so many of us, as she’s never bothered with a landline, as who uses them these days? – she’s suddenly as alone in a London flat over a desolate garage as she might be in a distant forest.

Once your main character is alone, they become dependant on your their own resources, which gives the reader a chance to see what they’re really made of. It’s then that you really need to know your characters, better than they know each other, so that the surprises they pull ring true. This joke encapsulates it perfectly – two friends meet a bear in the woods; one stands still in shock, the other begins to frantically change into his running shoes.

‘You can’t out run a bear!’ the first friend says desperately.
‘I know, but I can out run you,’ says the second

This is very much encapsulates the point – you might find that although your main character sounds vulnerable on paper, when it comes to it they may well be as ruthless as any criminal, and as a writer, you need to know why and what that means. Some of the best thriller writing is when the hunted becomes the hunter.

Isolation doesn’t have to be geographical; often psychological isolation is the most powerful, and the sort we fear the most as it can happen in our own heads without needing an exotic location or plot devices. You can be isolated in a crowd, if the crowd is against you – think of ‘Invasion of the body snatchers’ where the ‘free’ humans have to walk through a crowd of possessed ones and not give themselves away, knowing a single slip up and everyone will turn against them. If your character is being framed for a crime they didn’t commit, they cannot risk calling the police, or if they’ve been mis-treated by them in the past they may simply not trust them. In so many thrillers, the plot would fall apart in an heartbeat if the main character dialled 999, so you have to have a rock solid reason for them not to do so – which again comes right back to who they are, or character. Most regular people if approached by an enemy, or chased by gangsters, would go for help from those around them, so you need to know why your character will not or cannot do that. I am often to be found shouting at psychological thrillers ‘ring the police – ring the police!’ because the author hasn’t convinced me that this isn’t a sensible option, even if it might have more consequences than just a lengthy explanation, and yet it can be such a simple thing to get right. If you know your character, if you really understand them, you should know why they can’t ring the police, and that should inform everything they do.

So when it comes down to it, like with all good writing, the best kind of Thrillers thrive on the same thing as any writing – know your characters. From character comes plot, from plot comes the novel, and it’s the flaws, weaknesses and fears of your characters which will make the novel memorable.
And lets hope smart phone batteries don’t get better!

Thank you so much Sophie for visiting Cleopatra Loves Books and thank you all for reading, don’t forget to check out the other stops on the Nemesister Blog Tour

 

Blurb

An American Gothic thriller of deception and obsession, slicked in sweat and set in the swamps of Louisiana.

It’s a psychological mystery where the female protagonist stumbles into a deserted shack with no memory but a gun in her hand. There she meets an apparent stranger, Red, and the two find themselves isolated and under attack from unseen assailants.

Barricaded inside for a sweltering night, cabin fever sets in and brings her flashes of insight which might be memory or vision as the swamp sighs and moans around her.

Exploring in the dark she finds hidden keys that seem to reveal her identity and that of her mysterious host, but which are the more dangerous – the lies he’s told her, or the ones she’s told herself? Amazon

 

Posted in Blog Tour

Lie In Wait – G.J. Minett #BlogTour #Author Post

Lie In Wait

On 9 March 2017 Lie In Wait by G.J. Minett is being published as a paperback and looking inside the front cover I can see that I’m not the only reader to heap praise on this novel

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So I was thrilled to be asked to kick off the blog tour to celebrate the paperback publication especially as the author was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule, which includes submitting book three to the publishers, to write this exclusive post about writing characters!

Writing Characters

All authors have to choose a starting point that works for them and for me it’s the central character. That doesn’t mean to say that potential plots don’t occur to me from time to time – they do, and I tend to shut them away for future reference because until I have a character I want to work with, there is no story to tell. Once I do, I can then look for that character’s Achilles heel and choose a situation that is going to test her/him to the limit. But it’s character first.

In The Hidden Legacy, Ellen sprang out of an exercise we did for the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. We were given a comprehensive checklist which we had to use to ask our character questions ranging from which newspaper she read to what her deepest fear would be. I took ages over fleshing her out and carried her around with me for months, even asking myself how she would react to news items on TV. Not far off schizophrenic maybe but very useful for getting to know your character.

In Lie In Wait Owen was a composite of a handful of children I’ve taught over the years who seem to have the words ‘natural victim’ stamped into their psyche. Very often they are different but they are made more so by the reaction of those around them who exclude them from everything.

Writing is not just about central characters though and I’ve come up with three tips which work for me when developing the cast of supporting actors who help to bring the novel to life. In no particular order they are:

• Avoid extremes if possible. Not many people are without flaws and no one I’ve met is entirely without redeeming features. Try to make sure you throw in a few little surprises which show a different side to your characters or there’s a danger they’ll be too wooden and stereotypical to be interesting. It’s always better to challenge the reader’s expectations.

• Get the dialogue right. We all speak slightly differently from each other with a variety of hesitations, digressions, favourite expressions that, you know, we seem to kind of throw in every other sentence . . . basically. Know what I mean? Listen to people around you, borrow extensively from them. In an ideal world, it should be possible for a reader to listen to a dozen or so examples of speech from one character in your novel and know exactly who it is without being told. And the listening part is important too – try taping an extended piece of dialogue you’ve created and playing it back to see what it sounds like. If it clunks, change it.

• Test your characters. You won’t want (or have time) to do this with all of them but with half a dozen or so who appear relatively frequently, try to come up with a situation which will put them under pressure and bring out a different side to them. Characters when pressurised behave in ways that surprise us and readers tend to like being caught on the hop. At any social gathering, I don’t suppose I’m very different from anyone else in seeking out the individuals who are interesting, entertaining and informative and readers are the same. If we can make a character that little bit more interesting, we’re winning the battle for the their attention.

I did say these work for me. It doesn’t mean they will for everyone but if there’s even one small suggestion there that helps, I’ll be delighted.

Many thanks to Cleo as usual for the opportunity.

Thank you Graham, and one of the things I’ve loved most about both books is how realistic the characters are, for me it is the mixture of redeeming, and not so redeeming qualities which tends to convince me but I can see that by employing all of those tips, there is nothing to doubt about how life-like a character is.

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G.J. Minett’s first book A Hidden Legacy was published by Twenty7 Books then a new imprint of Bonnier Publishing, specialising in debut fiction from every genre. They are incredibly passionate about supporting the best new authors and finding innovative ways of bringing their books to readers across the world.

Lie In Wait
has been published by Bonnier and has already amassed an impressive quantity of five star reviews on Amazon.

You can visit Graham’s author page on Facebook at G.J.Minett author or on Twitter @GJMinett

Lie in Wait

Synopsis

A man is dead. A woman is missing. And the police have already found their prime suspect…

Owen Hall drives into a petrol station to let his passenger use the facilities. She never comes back – and what’s more, it seems she never even made it inside.

When Owen raises a fuss, the police are called – and soon identify Owen himself as a possible culprit – not least because they already have him in the frame for another more sinister crime.

Owen’s always been a little different, and before long others in the community are baying for his blood. But this is a case where nothing is as it seems – least of all Owen Hall…

A dark, addictive thriller, ingeniously plotted with a twist that will make you gasp, LIE IN WAIT is perfect for readers of Angela Marsons or Rachel Abbott. Amazon

Posted in Blog Tour

A Motif of Seasons – Edward Glover (Blog Tour)

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I was honoured to be asked to be part of the blog tour for A Motif of Seasons by Edward Glover, part three of the Herzberg Trilogy.

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Blurb

Two powerful 19th-century English and Prussian families are still riven by the consequences of an ancestral marriage – one that bequeathed venomous division, rivalry and hatred. Three beautiful women – each ambitious and musically gifted – seek to break these inherited shackles of betrayal, revenge and cruelty in their pursuit of sexual freedom and love. But the past proves a formidable and vicious opponent. Set against the backdrop of Europe’s inexorable slide towards the First World War, the final resolution of this ancient and destructive quarrel hangs by a thread and with it the fate of an 18th-century music book full of secrets. The last volume in the thrilling Herzberg trilogy, A Motif of Seasons finally solves the intriguing mystery at the heart of the series – in a definitive and surprising way. Amazon

Edward Glover kindly agreed to select an extract from his book to share with you all to celebrate the publication of A Motif of Seasons on 18 November 2016.

Extract for A Motif of Seasons Blog Tour

Across St James’s Park, Charles Hardinge sipped a whisky, perusing the closing arguments in favour of the defendant in the morning. His beloved Victoria laid asleep, her sheets of music fallen from the bed and scattered on the floor. He gathered them up, stroked her still auburn hair loosely tied back with deep blue ribbon. He softly kissed her cheek. She smiled at his touch.
Along the corridor Alice looked into the mirror as she watched her hair – released from its pins – cascade in gentle waves on to her delicate shoulders. She saw Nicolas watching her from the bed in expectation. Her life as a small child in Whitechapel had hung by a thread. Now she was woven through divine fate into a rich family tapestry where the struggle for fame and prestige was passionate in a world of legendary rivalries amongst the acclaimed of the musical world. Her visit to the East End two days before had been an unforgettable reminder that she should constantly strive to retain her husband’s love and loyalty, never to take them for granted; and also a reminder that a close companion in her life would forever be the fear of her existence once again hanging by a single strand. She had resolved as they returned from the Palace hand in hand that she would now play the part of Scheherazade to the King her husband to be sure he never relinquished her.
She stood to face him, letting slip her crimson shawl held against her breasts to reveal her slender alabaster body just as a butterfly silently sheds its silken chrysalis to reveal the beauty of its unfolding wings. With a bewitching smile Nicolas had not seen before she beckoned him. Entwined in each other’s arms, they stood pressed together – skin against skin – barely breathing. Then they lay together warmed and illuminated by the flickering fire. He slipped easily into her, her arms pulling him in ever deeper. Alice had become the magical Princess enticing her King with the promise of more. Their love she resolved would be enduring.
Extract from A Motif of Seasons by Edward Glover out 18th November. Available to order here

The Man behind the Book

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Edward was born in London in 1943. After gaining a history degree followed by an MPhil at Birkbeck College, London University, he embarked on a career in the British diplomatic service, during which his overseas postings included Washington DC, Berlin, Brussels and the Caribbean. He subsequently advised on foreign ministry reform in post-invasion Iraq, Kosovo and Sierra Leone. More recently, for seven years he headed a one-million-acre rainforest-conservation project in South America, on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Guyana Government.

With an interest in 16th- and 18th-century history, baroque music and 18th-century art, Edward was encouraged by the purchase of two paintings and a passport to try his hand at writing historical fiction. His first title The Music Book is a story of intrigue, betrayal, revenge, death and redemption, set in 18th-century Europe.

Edward and his wife, former Foreign & Commonwealth Office lawyer and leading international human rights adviser Dame Audrey Glover, now live in Norfolk, a place that gives him further inspiration for his writing. Edward sits on the board of trustees for Size of Wales and is a director of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Association, an associate fellow of the University of Warwick’s Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies and a board member of The King’s Lynn Preservation Trust.

When he isn’t writing, Edward is an avid tennis player and – at the age of 71 – completed the 2014 London Marathon, raising almost £7,000 for Ambitious about Autism.

Posted in Blog Tour

Intrusion by Mary McCluskey; Meet Sarah Cherrington

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Yesterday I wrote a review for Intrusion by Mary McCluskey which is a psychological thriller with depth with a focus on female friendship.

To kick off the blog tour for Intrusion the author, Mary McCluskey, has kindly agreed to write an introduction to one of the main characters – so I now present Meet Sarah Cherrington

If I were to take you somewhere glamorous tonight, a celebrity party, say, or a theatre opening and introduce you to Sarah Cherrington, your first impression would most likely be – she’s beautiful.   Beauty gets our attention.  You might notice her poise and confidence, her expensive clothing.  She would be charming on first meeting. She has that quality, found in charismatic people, of making the person she is with feel like the only person in the room who matters:  the eye contact intensity, the warm smile, the ability to listen and (apparently) empathise.

When readers first meet Sarah, in the early pages of Intrusion, as she begins to intrude into the lives of Scott and Kat Hamilton, she is a successful woman with a lot of charm and a head for business. She’s clearly wealthy:  she wears designer clothing; she has a number of luxury homes.  As readers get to know Sarah better, the fact that she is beautiful and charismatic will cease to matter.  If asked to describe her, they are more likely to use words like manipulative, controlling, vengeful.   Damaged?

Yes.  Sarah is indeed damaged. A childhood of careless neglect has left scars. Not the neglect of physical abuse, or grinding poverty but the neglect of indifference – a father who moved to another country without saying goodbye, a mother with clinical depression so severe that she chose suicide, even knowing that her young daughter was the person most likely to find her body.

Imagine the loneliness of this childhood: Sarah was sent away to boarding school at a young age and in an attempt to garner attention from her remote parents, got expelled from a number of them. Her circle of friends changed constantly.  She was nervous of bringing friends home because of her mother’s mercurial moods.  Even at home she felt in the way.  Her mother’s fragile mental health and obsessive love for her husband did not leave much room for Sarah.

After her mother’s suicide, a succession of aunts took over her upbringing until the one who took her in, one who actually cared for her: Helen.  But Helen, for all her Patrician attitude lived in a kind of genteel poverty – recycled clothes, old furniture, unheated rooms.  Sarah, despite her aristrocratic background, was poorer than her school friends.

All of these factors helped create a woman both ambitious and needy.  A dangerous mix. It is this combination that has made her calculating, manipulative and now, in adulthood, determined to succeed.  She will get what she wants. Whatever it takes. And she is vengeful. Those who have wronged her, hurt her, even simply disappointed her, will pay the price.  Readers will distrust her, of course.  They should.  They may overtly hate her.  But perhaps, even as they condemn her actions, hate what she does, what she is trying to do, they will understand what is propelling her into such egregious acts.  I hope so.

Intrusion by Mary McCluskey is out 1st July (£8.99, Little A) you can check out my thoughts on this book HERE

Intrusion

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Posted in Blog Tour

**Blog Tour** When The Killing Starts – RC Bridgestock

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When I was contacted by Carol to ask if I would be interested in taking part in the blog tour for their seventh book in the Jack Dylan series I said yes, of course – why? Well to be honest although I had read the first book; Deadly Focus I hadn’t kept up to date – the reason for my interest was the fact they’d been consultants on one of the few TV programmes I watch – Happy Valley and I was keen to know more, and fortunately as well as providing some fascinating background to how Jack Dylan came about Bob and Carol kindly included some information on that for me too.

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Fact to Fiction
Retirement is just a word….
Taking off the mask of the detective, which had been part of every day life for many years proved more difficult than we thought after leaving the police force. Five years later we found ourselves serendipitously writing how ‘it really is’ for a police officer and his family – in fictional tales. Eight years on we are having our seventh book ‘When The Killing Starts’ published by Caffeine Nights on June 30th, and also being Consultants to BAFTA winning Happy Valley, described as No. 1 Best TV drama. ‘With some of the most psychologically perceptive writing and acting that TV has ever seen.’ Also being credited by the Sunday Mail as giving the series Sally Wainwright wrote, gritty authenticity as advisors on the detailed plot-lines drawn from our own experience on real life cases.

We thought we had made a complete break when we ‘retired’ from the police force thirteen years ago; ‘Far from the maddening crowds’, to use the words of Author Thomas Hardy. Relocating three hundred miles from ‘our patch’ was intentional. Our move to pastures new on Bob’s police retirement (30 years of exemplary con-duct and dedicated service to the public of West Yorkshire the UK 4th largest police force), meant we would not be constantly reminded, of work. The latter three years of Bob’s CID led career was particularly gruelling as he took charge of twenty-six murder enquiries, some of which were very high profile. Fifty suspicious death investigations, twenty- four major incident incidents including drive by shootings, numerous sexual attacks and he was also, what the police term as an ‘on call’ Hostage Negotiator; an immediate police response negotiator for kidnap, suicide intervention, extortion and terrorism. These added onto his normal duties nearly saw him off! And how did he know these figures? Because on top of it all the police made the SIO’s keep stats for performance figures.

They say an SIO’s (Senior Investigative Officer) ‘lifespan’ is three years and Bob did five. He was almost dead on his feet and not even the love of his job, his desire to bring to justice the wrongdoer or the adrenaline could keep him going. He was on his knees. He has twenty-five commendations from Judges and Chief Constables for outstanding detective work and once won the coveted Denis Hoban Trophy but when his thirty year retirement date drew nearer he knew it was time to go.

Although he did his full service as required of him by his contract, the year before his retirement date he started to feel unwell. Initially it was thought he had had a slight stroke. Fortunately the scans and visits to a specialist showed that it had been his body sending him a warning signal that he was suffering from nothing more than ‘overload’. He was told in no uncertain terms that if he didn’t slow down he was heading for a breakdown. So it was certainly time to go. We bought a home on the Isle of Wight, our holiday destination for a number of years.
Although we keep in touch with a number of serving and retired police officers who have become friends over the years, our new social circle have no connections with the police service.

It took five years to renovate the house we bought. During this time we took time out to visit our daughter in Milan, go to London to see the shows, spent hours walking our dog Max on the beautiful sandy beaches. We bought a puppy, Belle and she had pups and we started to help raise money for our local hospice. It was heaven to spend time together again, whatever we were doing. As many serving uniform personnel will tell you ‘the job’ is a lifestyle.
Writing was most definitely not on our radar. Although I had always kept newspaper cuttings, to show the grandchildren in years to come what Grandad Bob did and I wanted Bob to write his life story a legacy to them – maybe one day he will… For now he writes his thoughts and feelings through DI Jack Dylan.

Our journey began through being asked to do a talk for the volunteers at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.
The audience, laughed, cried and truly engaged in the talk. We were booked for one hour and ended up talking for four – they even ‘forgot’ to break for the tea and cakes! We left with these words ringing in our ears. ’You two should write a book’.

There has been an element of serendipity to our writing that began on that day. In the County Press the next day there was an advert for our local college, ‘Write Your First Novel’ – the rest as they say is history.
We enrolled and attended the two hour sessions over a six week period at the local college. The first draft of Deadly Focus, our first novel in the Dylan series was written in longhand. Having typed it up we knew we had one hundred and twenty-thousand words. Cathartic? We have to say yes, in many ways… And so our writing journey continued.

The weather itself became both a character and an obstacle in Snow Kills our fourth DI Dylan novel. This was deliberate. All our books are born out of experience, those of our family, friends or acquaintances. We truly believe that the best way of writing for us is to write what we know…
We want the reader to feel as if they are present at the scene and we feel we can do that best if we’ve been there. We want the story to strike a note of authenticity to the reader/the viewer of our TV work. Our work isn’t James Bond, it’s how it really is…

For instance most of us can identify with being in a ‘gridlock’ traffic situation when a snowstorm arrives, creating problems no matter how much preparation there has been to keep the arterial routes open. In any murder investigation the weather can be a hazard and unforgiving and we worked on our experience ’in the job’ as well as our daughters experience of being stuck in the snow.

Because we work together characters are usually based on someone we have come across either in our professional life or other. Norris Regan is a character who has drawn many to make comparison with a certain Norman Bates. We agree now we’ve ‘looked him up’ but it wasn’t intentional and we hadn’t considered him. The character of Norris was based on personal knowledge of an individual’s appearance and lifestyle from which we created a murderer. The character in question was actually based on a guy who was part of a police enquiry, and was found living in an old people’s home for ladies. However, we would never use real life cases in our novels as we believe it is the victims of crime who serve the life sentence and not the perpetrator. The victims and their families have suffered enough.

One of Dylan’s greatest attributes, we feel, is his moral fibre. Dylan and Jen are based loosely on ourselves. I repeat ‘loosely’ very loosely. The moral fibre within the character comes from our own beliefs. As we said previously we find it easier to write what we know.

DI Jack Dylan is positively cheerful by accepted crime fiction standards. He isn’t your typical dour, downcast individual. He has a good sense of humour – as a police officer will tell you it’s an essential part of the profile. I guess that goes for any-one who works in the emergency services. You can’t allow yourself to be drawn into the sadness of an incident no matter how horrific it is, which is not easy especially with the added burden of breaking bad news to the family.

Most people who are the first responders to major incidents go into ‘autopilot’ and do what they have to do/what they are taught to do. There is a certain routine to follow and it’s only afterwards when reality sinks in that it hits you. If you didn’t laugh, sometimes you find yourself laughing at the most bizarre things. For instance Bob was in the mortuary at a post mortem when the dead person’s glass eye popped out and bounced off the table onto the floor. To the surprise of those present the assistance caught it and dusted it off! This is often called black humour, but I think it’s a necessary coping mechanisms. To give you another example what do you do at a murder scene when the body sits up? Do you laugh, run, or display that calm exterior as ‘the man in charge’? Be assured you want to run like anyone else, but if the man in charge runs the team will follow. Bob always tried to lead by example whilst he admits sometimes quaking inside…

With death and seeing the worst of man’s inhumanity to man constantly around him, Dylan values life as we do and has a good sense of humour born out of dealing with horrendous situations. He finds a positive in most things as Bob did and still does. RC Bridgestock is one name we chose to represent us both. Bob and Carol Bridgestock.

 

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How do you manage your writing together?

We are often asked does one of you have the ideas and the other the literary skills?
Although christened Robert, Bob is the name used throughout his life and it seemed right to use the pseudonym RC Bridgestock using our own names Robert and Carol. We never discussed how we would write together it seemed to evolve naturally, and this makes best use of our strengths. We probably write a bit like ‘the tortoise and the hare’. Bob setting off at pace writing the crime plot from start to finish with the mask of the police officer firmly in place. At this stage the incident unfolds as it does in ‘real time’ and he knows nothing more about the body or missing person involved, as you wouldn’t. It has to be procedurally correct for us and is a mixture of things he has experienced. There isn’t great depth to the characters or the surroundings at this stage, it’s purely about the plot and the investigation. This first draft will be around 65,000 words. He then moves away from this narrative and starts on another idea. He is usually one book ahead of me. This allows me to then develop Dylan’s home life storyline, develop the characters as I see them and set the scene. I use my own experience in the police force as seventeen years as a civilian employee but also as the wife of an SIO. I also interview Bob, and get him to open up to his real feelings, something that he is getting better at with time. I am in no doubt working for the police, the police officers stance but I want from him, his true feelings of the man ‘behind the mask of the detective.’ Also I want to know who he bases the characters on and more detail of the scenes through his eyes whilst he is writing. I have never been to a mortuary or attended at a post-mortem for instance, don’t want to, but I do need to find out what one looks, feels, smells, like to portray that to the reader. Perhaps in summary I put more ‘flesh on the bones’. The proof that this works comes from other officers/emergency staff who follow us specifically because we tell us ‘It’s just as it is…

Once this second draft is done the wordage is around hundred thousand. We then sit down together and go through every sentence, every paragraph and every chapter until we are totally happy with the story and the way it moves forward, at pace. The pace is really important as again this is how it really is… Then and only then does it go to our literary agent to read. This is such a useful exercise and one we didn’t have until we were signed by David H Headley, owner of DHH Literary Agency, Cecil Court, London. It is often the fresh eyes you need to look over the story before it goes to the publisher.

Characters and story lines often take us to places that we never intend at the start of a new book. The Dylan series – just happen that way. Each book stands alone with a new crime investigation but the family life continues – itself having a new storyline in each book as Dylan and Jen grow as a family with Maisy and Max, the dog. Our total service in the police force amounts to forty-seven years. I was a civilian support worker for seventeen and in that time did numerous roles in various administration departments. Bob and I worked at the same Division for a number of years so we knew the same people, both within the service and out. I was also obviously the wife of a serving police officer, who looked after our children and his home life, and therefore saw and felt how much each incident took out of the man I love. Some people say Jen is ‘too good’. There isn’t any other way but to be a team and yes, I wanted to kick ass sometimes and throw my ‘teddy out of cot’ when Bob was called out to a job whilst we were out shopping, at the theatre, for example; but what good would that have done, other than upset Bob and the kids? As I said before most partners of emergency/uniform personnel will tell you, you either live with the life or you get out.

Everything that has happened in our writing careers so far seems to have been ‘meant to be’ – even finding our publisher. Bob used to survive on coffee when he was in the CID, so when Caffeine Nights publishing appeared on screen, it seemed like the obvious choice to pitch at them and we were led to Darren E Laws who has now published six of our books and the next ‘When the Killing Starts’ to be released 30th June 2016. We are contracted to book 8 in the series and are working on that with the intention it will be published in 2017.

The TV work came about by our meeting with a Halifax Courier reporter we have both known for many years. Virginia was interviewing us when our second book, Consequences was published. She had recently interviewed scriptwriter Sally Wainwright as Last Tango in Halifax was about to be aired and suggested we talk to each other. Sally got in touch about a police series she had been commissioned to write for BBC 1. The ‘brief’ was a modern ‘Juliet Bravo’ and ‘Happy Valley’ was born. Happy Valley is a dark, funny, multi-layered thriller revolving around the personal and professional life of Catherine, a dedicated, experienced, hard-working copper. She is also a bereaved mother who looks after her orphaned grandchild. George Costigan (Unforgiven, Calendar Girls), Joe Armstrong (The Village, Robin Hood) and James Norton (Rush, Death Comes to Pemberley) will also star in the new drama. As will Adam Long (Spike Island, Waterloo Road), Karl Davies (Emmerdale, Game of Thrones), Ramon Tikaram (Casualty, Eastenders) and Charlie Murphy (Love/Hate, The Village).

After the success of the first series we were swiftly signed up to be consultants for story lines and police advisors for the award winning police series Scott and Bailey # 4, working alongside Amelia Bullmore and the general storyline/police advisors for Red Productions. Bob can regularly be heard commenting for BBC Radio Leeds on breaking news stories and we have featured on BBC Radio 4 – Steve Punt PI and more recently regarding Happy Valley’
Would you believe we have even been immortalised by the writers of the comic strip ‘Dick Tracy’  and voted #8 Best Crime Writers Of All Time WHS Readers Poll
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We are workaholics and daily involve ourselves in charity work. We are patrons for Patrons – BASH – (Brighouse And Surround Homeless) – Winners Yorkshire Choice Awards 2016
Patrons – Isle of Wight Society for the Blind – Winners Queen’s Voluntary Services Medal 2015
Patrons – RedLipstick Foundation
Ambassadors – Bethany’s Smile
Ambassadors – The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice
We have also seen our books taken into Turkey and South Korea in 2013 and optioned by The Gate Films to try to bring the series to TV. Working with The Gate has been such a dream…
This just goes to show you, you can have correct police procedure and drama rolled into one!

You can find out more about this series tomorrow at Shaz’s Book Blog