Saturday Series Spotlight- Owen Mullen

It’s Saturday again, which means its time for the series spotlight feature. This week I’m joined by Owen Mullen, author of the Charlie Cameron series.

About Owen (via Amazon Author Page):
School was a waste of time for me. Or rather, I wasted time; my own and every teacher’s who tried to get me to work. It took twenty years to appreciate what they were telling me. Life has rules. They aren’t written down but they exist nevertheless. I got that. Eventually. But by then I was thirty five.
Along the way I missed an important clue. At ten I won a national primary schools short story competition – and didn’t write anything else for forty years.
SMART BOY WANTED
APPLY WITHIN
As a teenager my big obsession was music. Early on I realised if I was successful I would probably be rich and famous and pull lots of girls.
So how did that turn out?
Well, you haven’t heard of me, have you? And this morning I caught myself worrying about the electricity bill. So the short answer is: one out of three ain’t bad.
Running around the country in a Transit van with your mates is fun. It’s your very own gang. You against the world. Until you fall out and the dream lies bleeding on the dressing-room floor.
When that happened I went to London
[everybody from Scotland goes to London, it’s like first footing at New Year, or ten pints of lager and a vindaloo on a Friday night; a sacred tradition]
and became a session singer. I also started gigging with different bands on the circuit.
Back in Scotland – most of us come back with wild tales of great success, none of them true – I wondered what I should do with myself and didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Her name was Christine. We got married, I went to Strathclyde Uni and got a bunch of letters after my name, and toughing it out at Shotts Miner’s Welfare, or dodging flying beer cans at the Café Club in Baillieston, was in the past. The long hair was short now, I wore a suit and pretended to like people I didn’t like because we were ‘colleagues’.
After many adventures I started my own marketing and design business and did alright. Christine and I were very happy, we travelled all over the place; India, Brazil, Botswana, Nepal, Borneo, Japan. One day I suggested we move. To the Greek islands. So we did. We bought land and built a beautiful villa overlooking the Mediterranean. Then the pan global financial crash happened, years of fiscal carelessness finally caught up with Greece; the exchange rate dived and the cost of living in Paradise went through the roof.
I had to do something. Then I remembered the short story competition. I had been good at writing, hadn’t I?
I wrote another short story called The King Is Dead…the first thing I’d written since primary school. When I typed the last word [Christine taught me to type] I held the pages in my hand then started to read. An hour and a half, rooted to the chair unable to believe what was in front of my eyes. For four decades I had shunned a god given gift. And as I read I started to understand why. It was awful. Not just bad. Bloody terrible.
But I kept going.
And now, eight years and seven books later, three literary agents plus two I turned down [they were reading a different book] I am a writer. My books are on Amazon. People buy them and come back for more.
One seasoned London agent has predicted I am destined to be ‘a major new force in British crime fiction.’
Yeah!
So is the moral: follow my example, find something you’re good at and stick with it. Hardly. I didn’t, did I? Do it your own way; it’s your life


 

I love that bio so I had to add it in! 🙂 Without further ado I’ll hand you over to the man himself…

Venus and Mars

 

In Games People Play, Jackie Mallon – who runs the New York Blue bar/diner where Charlie Cameron has his office – decides to have a bagua done on the restaurant. Don’t know what a bagua is? You’re not alone. Jackie is trying to maximise the energy around the business.  A strange man comes from the Glasgow Feng Shui Society to help her.

[Don’t know if there is a Glasgow Feng Shui Society. If there is, please accept my apology]

Before long she is re-arranging the furniture, painting the front door red – apparently it brings prosperity – and strategically placing an ugly little chunk of marble in the image of a three-footed frog: the Toad God.

So where did that come from? Easy. From my own life. Kind of.

Years ago my wife, Christine, became interested in Feng Shui. She would sit quietly pouring over books with strange titles. I didn’t ask what they were although I was about to find out. One night I was looking for a magazine I’d bought months earlier. It wasn’t where I remembered leaving it. After an hour of fruitless searching I asked Christine if she knew where it was.

‘It’s in the bin,’ she said. ‘I threw it out.’

‘Why?’

‘You weren’t reading it.’

‘But I was going to read it. In fact, I want to read it now.’

‘Well you can’t. It’s gone.’

I didn’t understand.

‘What do you mean? Why throw a brand new magazine away.’

With a straight face she said, ‘It was clogging up the energy.’

A week after that I decided to listen to Billy Joel. We have a lot of CDs in our house; the one I was after wasn’t there.’

‘Have you seen the Billy Joel CD?’

Christine didn’t reply.

‘You know the one. Haven’t played it in ages.’

‘That’s right. I thought you were finished with it.’

‘How could I be finished with it? It’s a CD. People keep CDs.’

‘Use it or lose it.’

‘What?’

‘Use it or lose it. Otherwise it’s just clogging up the energy.’

We had a full and frank exchange of views the way married people do. I made my point and thought that was the end of it. Not so. Time passed, the Toad God became part of the family and I learned to live with him. Summer became autumn, then winter. One wet Wednesday, with the wind blowing hard enough to make the windows rattle, I decided it was clearly a day for my old leather coat. I’d had that coat for years; it was an old friend. Of course it was nowhere to be seen. Eventually I raised the subject with my wife [Christine had never liked it. She called it my ‘Flick of the Gestapo’ coat]

‘Where is it?’

‘Where’s what?’

‘You know what I’m talking about.’

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’

‘My coat. My leather coat.’

She hesitated. ‘Oh, that.’

‘I gave it away.’

I exploded. Christine stayed calm and the explanation she gave me made perfect sense. ‘ We’re surrounded by energy. Everything feeds from it. Possessions draw it to them so unless we use something or love it, it has to go because it’s…’

‘…clogging up the energy. I get it. What I don’t get is why it’s always my stuff. Why never yours. All those shoes for example. I mean, how many pairs of shoes does one woman need?’

She stared at me, her face set hard. ‘What’re you suggesting?’

‘I’m suggesting you get rid of some of them because they’re clogging up the energy.’

‘Get rid of perfectly good shoes?’

‘Yeah. Throw them away.’

She shook her head and started to walk away.

‘I can’t talk to you when you’re hysterical.’

——-

 

The point I’m making is that, for a writer, everything in life has the potential to be used for a story. The things we store away without even knowing we’re doing it can come back when they’re needed.

I don’t go through life filing stuff I think will be useful. I only realise I must have done it when it pours, seemingly from nowhere, on to the page. And of course I keep my eyes and ears open and dismiss nothing.

Because you just never know.

 

[by the by, the Toad God is still there. Persistent little bastard, isn’t he? Maybe I could have some Glasgow gangster kidnap him. I can think of a couple who might be interested]

 

Christine wants to add something.

 

‘I certainly do.  As I understand it, the advice on this topic is that we give energy to every single thing we own. So if we don’t love it, and we don’t use it, it’s just physical and mental clutter. Never believe anything a writer tells you. There was no magazine – it was old cooking utensils Owen hadn’t used in 100 years. The Billy Joel CD is still nestled beside all the other CDs Owen doesn’t play; the collection is set out in alphabetical order. Surprisingly, Billy Joel comes…wait for it…J Being a man, that concept is beyond Owen. Great writer but… Lastly, the coat. The coat was old and scuffed; the lining hung down at the back and the style wasn’t ever coming back. It was an embarrassment and yes, I pitched it out. Nothing to do with energy. It was a rag and the bin was the best place for it. Owen couldn’t see he was only achieving half of the ‘shabby chic’ look he was aiming for…and it wasn’t the ‘chic’ half!  
ps I like the Toad God, he’s come through once or twice, and at least he doesn’t use ‘poetic licence’ in his stories about me!.

Jpeg

 


I also asked Owen what series he’s read that he would always recommend, and he chose Sherlock Holmes and Neil Cross’ Luther series.

Huge thanks to Owen for taking the time to participate in the spotlight feature. Here’s all his info if you want to keep up with news, books etc!

Twitter:       @OwenMullen6
Instagram:  owenmullenauthor

Book Blogger Blind Date

Hi Everyone,

So today, I have something a little different on the blog. As the title says, it’s a book blogger blind date. Thanks to Jillian at Rant and Rave About Books I get to have a blind date with the lovely Amy from Novel Gossip in the USA!

We both decided that we would ask each other 5 questions, and we’d answer both sets so essentially it’s a mini Q&A 🙂

Happy Reading….

*Amy’s questions to me*

1. When you walk into a bookstore/library what section do you head for first? Or do you head for a particular author instead of a genre? Second place you browse? 
 
I will always and ever head straight to the crime fiction section. It’s what I love to read so it’s my happy place. I don’t go straight to an author unless they have a new book out and I don’t already have it! The second place I go to is the new fiction section, you never know what you might pick up there and there’s always loads to look at!

 
2. Have you ever been to any author events? Book signings etc?
 
Up until the weekend, my answer to this would have been no!!! However, I went to Dublin for an author/blogger meet up and it was lots of fun. I met some familiar names in blogging, met lovely authors and got starstruck meeting Liz Nugent, an excellent Irish writer whose second book has just been published!
 
3. You’re picking up a book as a gift for a friend, what book do you choose? Why?
 
I rarely pick up books as gifts for my friends, funnily enough. Not many of them are avid readers, so I wouldn’t know where to start though. I do give my Mother-in-Law books as gifts though. We have similar taste in books, so I give her books I think she might like based on either what I’ve read, or what other bloggers are buzzing about.
4. Do you take actual notes while reading? Or write in your books/highlight passages? 
 
I never used to take notes, EVER!!! And then I got busy! I had to multi-read so taking notes was the only way I could keep track of the different books and plots going around in my head. I still take notes now, but not as often because I try to write my review as soon as possible after finishing a book. That doesn’t always happen though! I don’t write in my books, maybe a proof I would have written a note. I read a book recently and the plot was spoiled early on by a simple typo and I had to make a note of it so I wouldn’t forget to address it! I never highlight passages!
 
5. Genre you stay away from? Why? 
 
Romance and erotic fiction. I’m not really a romantic person, and I don’t like cheesy books so I find it very hard to read them. I don’t mind if there is a small bit of something in a book, but I wouldn’t sit down and read a romance novel. The same can be said for erotic fiction. It’s just not my thing, it makes me cringe so no. Just no! 🙂
*And now mine to Amy*
What made you start blogging? Was there a particular reason?
Well, I’ve always liked to write, almost as much as I read. I also wanted an organized place for all my reviews because Goodreads just wasn’t cutting it. I read so much that sometimes I’ll remember that I liked a book but I can’t remember details, so having somewhere to keep all my past thoughts was appealing.  I toyed with the idea for a bit and my husband encouraged me to just do it. I’m so glad I did, the online book community is amazing! 
What is the one book you will recommend every time someone asks you what to read?
Lately I would say The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. I read it a few months ago and it’s still stuck with me. It’s got everything I love in a novel, mystery, intrigue, suspense. That changes often though as I read so frequently.
Have you a favourite genre? What is it and why?
Mystery/Thriller. I read a lot of genres (Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, YA, etc) but I pick mysteries most often.
How do you shelve your books? Alphabetical/ Genre/ Colour/ Whatever way the stack?!
Well…right now they’re mostly in storage as we’re in a temporary rental with not much room. When we eventually move and get settled they’ll be by color I think.
All time favorite book/author? Explain…

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. It’s the type of book that I feel like I could recommend to literally anyone regardless of age. It opens up a whole new world of magic and wonder for readers.

*And my answers*
What made you start blogging? Was there a particular reason?
For myself really. I had just had my daughter and I needed something to keep my mind occupied when she was sleeping, especially in the early days. Also, I’m pretty sure I was boring my family and friends with my constant ranting and raving about books so I figured why not concentrate my efforts into putting it all in one place and thus, Bibliophile Book Club was born.
 
What is the one book you will recommend every time someone asks you what to read?
Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. Every time. It is just a stunning example of a psychological thriller in every sense. The fact that it can happen makes it even more frightening.
EH1
 
Have you a favourite genre? What is it and why?
I love crime, in all shapes and forms.Thrillers, mysteries, psychological suspense, I enjoy them all. To be fair though I have a big grá (Irish for Love) for Scandinavian crime fiction especially. The cold climate makes it all the more chilling… Pardon the pun!!!
How do you shelve your books? Alphabetical/ Genre/ Colour/ Whatever way the stack?!
Oh Lord. Wherever they fit! At the moment, although organised, my shelves are fit to burst. I try to go by genre though. I mainly have crime though so its easy to keep it all together. I have some sci-fi, YA and the odd feel-good book too, so they are all grouped together. I’m short on space as my youngest has her toys on some of the lower shelves too so I’m sure I’ll have more room when she outgrows whatever is there at the moment!! Here is the most recent pic of my TBR shelves, but more have been added since I took this photo!!!
image
 
All time favorite book/author? Explain…
The Harry Potter series will always have a special place in my heart if I’m honest. It reminds me of my younger years. At the moment though, I’m massively loving Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series, they are just wonderful! I’ve had the absolute privilege of having a quote used in his book, so it’s hard not to love them!!

There you have it! The only least awkward date I have ever been on!!! 😉 I guess its easy when you have something in common!
Its all about the books! ❤
Thanks to Amy for taking the time to answer my questions from all the way across the Atlantic!

Sucker For A Series #2 Tracey Sinclair

Hi everyone,

So today is the 13th and its time for another Sucker for a Series post! Taking part today is author Tracey Sinclair.

Without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Tracey…


 

When it comes to reading, nothing makes me happier than finding a good series. While, if you asked me what my favourite books are, they would almost all be standalone works of fiction, when it comes to my favourite authors, it’s another matter – the writers who get me excited tend to be creators of series I can get my teeth into.

In part, I admit, it’s a comfort thing: I love an original, challenging book, but I also don’t have the energy to read that kind of thing all of the time. Sometimes I want to relax into a book like a warm bath, welcoming back characters I have come to know and love like old friends. I also think that genre, character-based series, while often neglected or even sneered at by literary critics, can be excellent vehicles for social and political commentary, without being heavy handed: I defy anyone to present a better example of toxic capitalism than Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal – and that’s a book that features trolls and golems. Dennis Lehane has written many fine standalone novels, but it’s in the seemingly throwaway details on the edge of a murder case for longstanding characters Kenzie and Gennaro (one of my favourite couples in fiction) that he presents a searing indictment of how the recession affected ordinary people.

As a writer myself, I’ve been on both sides of the table. My first novel was a ‘literary’ story, but I’m now thoroughly immersed in a series – my Dark Dates paranormal / urban fantasy books. And I can certainly see the appeal: it’s a joy to come back to characters who have become so real to you, and the reader reaction is addictive. Like any writer, I love hearing that people enjoyed my books, but when people start to care about your characters, it’s a completely different – and intoxicating – feeling. One of my proudest author moments was when one of my friends told me that she and a couple of workmates had had a heated water cooler debate over which of my male leads they fancied most!

John Connolly’s Charlie Parker books


I often start reading series out of order, since I tend to pick up a lot of crime novels in charity shops. (I never feel bad about this, since if I like a writer, I then tend to buy their backlist – so they are making their money off me!). Many of my favourite series – Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden – I started mid-way, fell in love and went back to the start. (And there’s a particular pleasure in finding a series that is already well established, so you know you have a decent backlist to wade through without having to wait). My current obsession was the discovered in the same way – and I’m glad.

I had fancied reading John Connolly’s Charlie Parker books for a while, drawn by their interesting covers, which seemed to imply a supernatural element, which always appeals to me. So when I found one in my local Oxfam – book 12 in a series that now stretches to 14 – I picked it up for a song, and discovered a gripping thriller with a fascinating underlying arc. Charlie Parker is a compelling lead, and his friends, Angel and Louis (a gay couple whose pasts are as bloody as Parker’s own) are two of my favourite characters in any books, ever. Yet to be honest, having read them all now, if I’d read book one first, I’m not sure I would have stuck with them: for a start, they feature my least favourite trope from fiction (man driven to seek justice for dead wife and child) and the characters didn’t feel as fully fledged as they were to become. I suspect this is true for many series, and why the majority of those I love I’ve started in the middle: unlike reading an author who specialises in standalone works, where it can be hard for them to bottle lightning twice, writers of series tend to improve, as they – and we – get to know their characters. I’ve seen this in my own work – the reviews I am getting for my latest book, Angel Falls, which is the third in the series, almost all say similar things. This can be galling (‘what’s wrong with the earlier books?!’ you want to demand, grumpily) but is also nice to read: after all, who doesn’t want to get better?

So I would say if you want a fantastic series of dark thrillers (and bloody hell, they are dark – you have to be okay with some fairly brutal killings) featuring some of the most interesting characters in genre fiction, all set against a mysterious but coherent and convincing arc that gets better as it goes on, then Charlie Parker is your man.

Tracey Sinclair is an author and freelance editor and writer. Her latest book, Angel Falls, the third in the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick series is out now.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-Falls-Cassandra-Bick-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01AMOGRBY/

www.darkdates.org