~Blog Tour Guest Post~ Mike Thomas @ItDaFiveOh @BonnierZaffre #Unforgivable

Hi everyone,

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Unforgivable by Mike Thomas and I’ve got a great post from Mike for you all to read a little further down. First though, here’s all the bookish information you need to know!

About the book:

Unforgivable

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation. 
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside. 
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . . 

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

Out now from Bonnier Zaffre, click  HERE to get your copy!

About the author:

Mike Thomas 1

Mike Thomas was born in Wales in 1971. For more than two decades he served in the police, working some of Cardiff ’s busiest neighbourhoods in uniform, public order units, drugs teams and CID. He left the force in 2015 to write full time.

His debut novel, ‘Pocket Notebook’, was published by William Heinemann (Penguin Random House) and longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year. The author was also named as one of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for 2010. His second novel, ‘Ugly Bus’, is currently in development for a six part television series with the BBC.

The first in the MacReady series of novels, ‘Ash and Bones’, was released August 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre. ‘Unforgivable’, the second in the series, is released in July 2017.

He lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and two children.

Follow the author on Twitter at @ItDaFiveOh. More details can be found on the website http://www.mikethomasauthor.co.uk


 

 

The Writing Process

 

Some writers like to have a set routine. Some can’t operate unless they do the same thing day in, day out. You know, bounce out of bed at six in the morning, make a coffee then type away until noon, not stopping until they hit their word count target. Then it’s some lunch and social media and rewriting other stuff and finally a late evening stroll, possibly wearing something corduroy.

My writing life, in comparison, is chaotic. I’ve moved house half a dozen times in the last seven years, and within each new home I – for various incredibly tedious reasons like decorating and family coming to stay and that one time I got electrocuted – have had to constantly move ‘office’. As a result, I don’t really have a fixed writing place – at the moment it’s a desk in the corner of my bedroom, which is handy for rolling from under the duvet to my chair – never mind a ‘process’. It’s more of a very rough and ragged list of things I need – or need to do – in order to get a few words out. No writing-based profundity here, I’m afraid!

So here they are, in all their glory.

 

  • I always aim for one thousand words each session. I stay there and type until I hit my target. It might be sunny outside and ripe for a walk. Netflix might have dropped a new episode of Orange is the New Black. I might not have argued with anybody on Twitter for at least an hour. I KEEP WRITING. All that fun stuff can come later.
  • I turn all notifications off. Everything. Gong noises and whoops and alarms sounding plus envelopes and red dots popping up everywhere is just distracting, like having toddlers tugging at your ankles every five minutes, demanding attention. Off they go. Sometimes I forget to turn them back on, and lose followers on Twitter. Sorry everyone.
  • Tea. I like tea. Lots and lots of tea, piping hot with two sugars to help bring on Type 2 Diabetes when I reach fifty. This is a holdover from my policing days, when we used to drink urns of the stuff in the nick then laugh and laugh as our stomachs burbled and wobbled while we wrestled with drunks.
  • A window. One with a nice view so you can turn from the screen for a quick break and stroke your chin while thinking Fancy Writing Thoughts, or perhaps whether you should get a haircut as it’s a bit long (fact: I once spent an hour mulling this over). Anyway, I live in Portugal, and until mid-June this year I had a lovely view of bright blue sky and red roof tiles and shimmering eucalyptus trees but then the whole bloody country caught fire so now I get to see ash and charred tree trunks disappearing into the distance. Which is nice.
  • I cannot keep writing a single, hugely lengthy document such as a novel manuscript, typing new scenes and chapters as I go. I get completely lost, and as I am also incapable of using ‘writing software’ such as Scrivener, this is the only way I can do it: I write the chapters separately, working and reworking them until I’m completely happy they’re not utter rubbish. It is only then that I add them to a ‘first draft’ of the manuscript. In other words, they don’t get in the club unless they’re good…
  • I have a particular way of formatting the page – chapter headings, scene breaks, font (Times New Roman, every time) and so on. I can’t write if it’s not right. This will come across as a tad weird and borderline OCD, but I simply cannot create, darling, if things aren’t perfect. What I really mean is, I try to replicate the look of a novel, even if the MS is in its embryonic stage. It just helps me along a little, knowing what the thing will look like when – if – published…
  • I like to work on the latest novel in the afternoon. I am awful in the morning, a complete waste of space – staggering around, grumbling and unable to form a coherent thought, never mind sentence. So first I work on my other job as a writer-for-hire, doing travel pieces and ‘The Best Bartending School in Brisbane’ type articles. It pays the bills, and it also gets the rusted cogs turning in my head, so by the afternoon I’m raring to go for several hours. Or to stare out of the window at toasted countryside.
  • See the above regarding Scrivener. Several years ago my wife, oh so hilariously, told me she’d purchased a Scrivener subscription to help me write my debut novel, ‘Pocket Notebook’. Turned out to be a long roll of wallpaper lining where I could ‘do’ flowcharts and other plot-related stuff, using the handy set of pencils she’d also bought. But the last laugh was on her, because I now use it every time I begin to prep a new novel. I hang it – crammed full of flowcharts, bullet points, scribbles and thoughts – on the wall right in front of my desk in the bedroom, which is terribly unsightly and drives her mad. That’ll learn her, eh?

 


 

Many thanks to Mike for this great post, and to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for having me on the tour! Make sure to check out the rest of the tour too! 🙂

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Dads and Daughters~ Guest post from Caz Frear

Hi everyone,

Today I have a great guest post from Caz Frear, author of Sweet Little Lies. Now before I get to that, I need to share the all-important bookish information!

About the book:

Sweet Little Lies

WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the author:

Caz Frear

Caz Frear is the winner of Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller and Sweet Little Lies is her first novel.


 

DADS & DAUGHTERS – A COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP.

 

 

There’s a scene I cut from Sweet Little Lies where Cat is standing in a shop on Christmas Eve, agonising over which Christmas card to begrudgingly buy for her dad.  It was one of those scenes that I absolutely loved working on but something wasn’t quite sitting right so I cut it out, put it back, cut it out, put it back, and so on, until I finally realised what the problem was, and it was so simple – much as the scene had lots of dark comic potential, Cat would never buy her Dad a Christmas card, not even to keep the peace with her sister.  I mean, let’s be honest, she’s not exactly full of greeting-card sentiment for him.

 

It got me thinking though about dads and daughters, about the complicated, hard-to-articulate relationships that women can sometimes have with their fathers – relationships that don’t exactly fit with the artificial sentiments poured down our throats by the greeting-card industry every Christmas, birthday, Father’s Day, etc.  Incidentally, I’m writing this as Father’s Day fast approaches so it’ll soon be me dithering in Clintons/Paperchase/the slightly crap card section in my local off-licence, over what conveys if not exactly the perfect message, simply one that isn’t cloying and patently untrue.

 

Because what if your dad isn’t the ‘Best Dad Ever!’ by generally perceived standards?  What if he isn’t ‘The King of the House!’ or your ‘All-time Hero!’?  What if he lacks humour and doesn’t appreciate a jokey card that reminds him how you regularly rinse him of all his money/’borrow’ his car keys/test his patience.  What if he tests yours?  Taps you up for money?  Crushes your self-esteem with his sneery disapproval for every life choice you’ve made.

 

*Disclaimer – my dad is an absolute rock-star, one of my favourite people to hang out with, and he does none of the above, and yet….and yet……it’s complicated, as a lot of dad-daughter relationships are.  Anything too slushy or complimentary of his parenting skills feels a bit phoney, to be honest.  And the jokey cards never strike the right tone either.  They all seem to reference a) golf, gardening or gadgets which is SO not my dad or b) the fact that he’s inferior to Mum in just about every way – which isn’t in great humour when you take into account they’ve been divorced for the past twenty-five years!

 

So what would the ideal card say?  

 

‘Dad, you’ve f*cked up a bit but haven’t we all, don’t worry about it!’  

 

Ultimately, I think mine would say,

 

“I am me and you are you, and neither of us will change much now which is fine.  I love you.”  

 

I think this is what I was aiming for at the end of Sweet Little Lies.  It felt too big a jump for Cat and her dad to reconcile fully, but it was important for her to accept that dads are rarely ‘All-time Heroes.’   Instead they’re human and they’re flawed and capable of misery-making as much as the next person.  I knew I definitely didn’t want a happy ending for them, as such, just for Cat to be ok with the fact that their relationship is complicated and probably always will be.    

 

Because complicated doesn’t have to mean fraught.  And it doesn’t have to mean non-existent.  It just means accepting that ‘The Most Flawed Dad Ever!’ can still be ‘The Best Dad Ever!’ if you’re prepared to accept him for who he is, rather than who Mr Clinton and Mrs Paperchase tell you he should be.

 Catch up with the blog tour:


 

 

~Guest Post~ Nathan O’Hagan of Obliterati Press

Hey guys,

Something a little different today. Author Nathan O’Hagan has set up an indie publisher called Obliterati Press, and he’s written a guest post!

About Nathan:

Nathan.jpg

After spending most of his teens and twenties in various unsuccessful bands, Nathan eventually turned his hand to writing. In 2013 he self published a short fiction collection, “Purge”. “The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place” is his first completed novel, though he has since completed one more and is in the early stages of a third. He has also written a screenplay and and another series of short stores which he may self publish in the future. He regularly writes features and reviews for the online fanzine God Is In The TV.

Nathan grew up on Merseyside, rarely venturing away other than a brief stint in Carlisle. He now lives in Northamptonshire with his wife and two children and works full time for the NHS.

Follow Nathan on twitter @NathanOHagan and Facebook Nathan O’Hagan, writer.


And now over to Nathan…

A quick Google search for ‘independent uk publishers’ will tell you there is currently no shortage of publishing presses in operation. I wouldn’t even begin to try to count them all, as there’s probably already another few sprung up since I started typing this. When I first began discussing with my friend Wayne Leeming the idea of setting up our own small press, the main question I kept asking myself was ‘why’? Did the world really need yet another indie publishing press? Especially one set up by two blokes who, to be frank, didn’t have a clue what they were doing at that point. After a few months of discussion with Wayne the ‘why’ changed to ‘why not’? We agreed on the name Obliterati Press, inspired by the album ‘The Obliterati’ by American alternative rock legends Mission Of Burma, and agreed our focus, at least initially, and as much out of necessity as out of choice, would be to find debut or emerging novelists.

 

We talked about the kinds of books we were interested in publishing. Although we both have broad taste, and didn’t want to necessarily rule out any genre, we knew that the sweet spot was going to be books similar to our own, and to the books we loved most. There were certain key words; gritty, authentic, powerful, that came up a lot. Although both northerners, we both now live away from the north; me in the Midlands, Wayne in Somerset, so although we’re drawn strongly to northern writing, we were both agreed we didn’t want to limit ourselves to that alone. We talked about other publishers we admired; Armley Press (who published both my two novels and Wayne’s), Wrecking Ball Press, Dead Ink and others. Armley Press provided the most inspiration, not only as they published our own work, but we decided very early that, to make setting up financially realistic, we would copy the print-on-demand model they use. To get started, we knew we’d have to put in some of our own money, but to make things economically sustainable, print-on-demand was the only way to go.

 

The main breakthrough idea we had was that, rather than set up, try to build up a following and seek submissions from far and wide, leading to a potential glut of submissions the two of us would never be able to read through with sufficient care and attention (I still work full time, so my reading and writing time is limited), we decided that I would approach a couple of writers I knew who, although talented, were amongst the many gifted writers who had as yet been unable to find a publisher. I sent off a couple of emails explaining what me and Wayne were planning, and asked whether they would be willing to let us read their current, unpublished manuscripts, with a view to potentially putting them out as our first releases. Luckily, both were amenable to the request, and seemed cautiously enthusiastic about the idea of being there at the start of something new. First up was ‘Lord Of The Dead’ by Richard Rippon, a brilliantly dark crime-thriller set in and around Newcastle. Wayne and I knew right away that we wanted this to be the first book we put out. It had everything; a gripping, twisty plot, great lead characters, a distinctive regional setting, and great commercial potential. We were salivating at the prospect of publishing it, and, thankfully, Richard agreed to take a chance with a new press.

 

Next was ‘The Baggage Carousel’ by Dave Olner, a deliciously visceral dark comedy that will shock and amuse in equal measure, and contains a young male protagonist who is destined to go down in literary history with the likes of Caulfield and Meursault. Having struck so lucky with Richard, we couldn’t believe our luck when another brilliant writer, with such a brilliant novel, was willing to go with us.

 

So the answer to my original ‘why’ was, if books as good as ‘Lord Of The Dead’ and ‘The Baggage Carousel’ hadn’t found publication, then yes, there absolutely is a need for yet another indie press. There are so many great, undiscovered, unrecognised writers out there that, frankly, I don’t think there can ever be enough publishers. I can’t begin to imagine how many talented writers there are out there, just needing someone to take a chance on them, to give them a platform. We’re very proud we have done that for two brilliant writers, and hope to do so for many more writers as Obliterati Press hopefully grows and develops in the coming months and years.

 

‘Lord Of The Dead’ will be published in November 2017, and ‘The Baggage Carousel’ will be published in Spring 2018.

 

www.obliteratipress.com

@ObliteratiPress

Obliterati Press- Facebook

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Many thanks to Nathan for writing this guest post! Wishing you and Wayne all the best with Obliterati Press! 🙂

~Blog Tour Guest Post~ The Mayfly by James Hazel

Hi everyone,

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Mayfly by James Hazel and I have  great guest post for you all. I recently read and enjoyed The Mayfly, you can read my review by clicking here.

About the book:

Mayfly

A mutilated body discovered in the woods.
A murderous plan conceived in the past.
A reckoning seventy years in the making . . .

When lawyer Charlie Priest is attacked in his own home by a man searching for information he claims Priest has, he is drawn into a web of corruption that has its roots in the last desperate days of World War Two.

When his attacker is found murdered the next day, Priest becomes a suspect and the only way to clear his name is to find out about the mysterious House of Mayfly – a secret society that people will kill for.

As Priest races to uncover the truth, can he prevent history from repeating itself?

The Mayfly by James Hazel

About the author:

James_Hazel_author_photo(2)_colour

Before turning his hand to writing, James Hazel was a lawyer in private practice specialising in corporate and commercial litigation and employment law. He was an equity partner in a regional law firm and held a number of different department headships until he quit legal practice to pursue his dream of becoming an author. He has a keen interest in criminology and a passion for crime thrillers, indie music and all things retro. James lives on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds with his wife and three children.


Growing up on real war stories

 

In April of 1941, 100,000 British soldiers were relocated from Egypt to help in the defence of Greece against the advancement of German troops from Bulgaria and the Italians from Albania.

In truth, the move was nothing more than a political gesture; the notion that the Germans might not be able to break through Yugoslavia was nothing more than wishful thinking. The ill-prepared Tommies were soon outflanked and desperately re-establishing a new defensive position amidst fierce fighting.  

With defeat inevitable, the British carried out hurried evacuations from the southern Greek ports of Nabplion and Kalamata.

On the 4th May 1941, one soldier, a young driver in the RASC, slowly raised his hands to German guns. Along with many others, he was stripped naked and marched through a nearby town where later he would be sent to Stalag 18A, a POW camp at Wolfsberg, Austria.

He was one of 10,000 captured British soldiers.

Fifty years later, a grandfather recounts his stories to his mesmerized grandson: stories of survival, of life in the camp, of fighting in Egypt, of meeting Himmler; stories of fate and how the choices we make define not just our own lives but the lives of countless others through the generations.

Perhaps I should have been scared. As it happened, I was enthralled.

There were consequences of course. Like the time that my mum was called into school and questioned sternly about why I had written a piece of homework which included a picture of my granddad locked in a prison cell. Was he a criminal? Should Safeguarding be called in? After all, I was only six. Apparently, I also told an American tourist outside Buckingham Palace that my Grandad had a gun. This time I was only five.

Fortunately, things were mostly straightened out.

As a child, I didn’t have much appreciation of the context. He was just my grandfather: Arthur Hopewell, a man everyone called Bid, although no one seemed to know why. It’s only looking back on it now that I realise the enormity of it all, what had taken place, and what could have taken place.

On the 28th December 1940, the HMT Orcades arrived at Suez and the troops, Private Hopewell included, were lined up to embark on one of two ships to Greece. Just before boarding, someone who knew Grandad called him over to the other ship: a regiment there needed a driver. He swapped ships at the last minute. It was to become the most important decision of his life. The other ship was sunk and the troops on it were lost to the sea.

A different ship, a different decision, and I would never have been born.

The Mayfly is the culmination of my interest in the Second World War that started when I was five years old and my personal salute to the late Private Hopewell, the real hero of the story.

Make sure to follow the blog tour:


~Blog Tour Guest Post~ Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

Hi all,

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler and I’ve got a guest post on What Not To Do When You’re Writing by the author. I recently read and enjoyed the book too, you can catch my review here!

About the book:

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The worst thing that ever happened to you
And no one believes its true . . .

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.

The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The choice he forces her to make is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

 

Guest post:

What Not To Do When You’re Writing.

Prepare yourself to go bonkers when you’re writing and safeguard yourself against embarrassment, injury and costly accidents. Make sure your mind is free of the plot when doing the following; otherwise people who know you may consider that you would suit a white straitjacket:

Never think about the plot when you’re filling up your car at the garage, otherwise you could end up putting petrol instead of diesel into the engine. If you do, however, do this – DO NOT TURN ON THE ENGINE!!

Don’t forget about routine appointments to the dentist or doctor, and if you do remember you have an appointment, please make sure you present yourself to the correct professional – the dentist will not wish to carry out a smear test on you.

When shopping, especially in January, if you have to think about the plot, it is advisable to take only a shopping basket and not the extra-large trolley. Otherwise you will fill it! Pay for the goods and have to explain why you bought an electric barbeque for your garden which doesn’t have an electrical outdoor socket.

Never book a holiday unless your mind is completely focused, otherwise you may forget that you have been there before and not only did you not like it, but your kids didn’t either. They will delight in proving to you that you have been there, no matter how much you deny it, by showing you the evidence of their all-inclusive photo ID, dated the year before.

Don’t forget to pick the kids up from school and if you do, have a very convoluted reason – the dog got out and ran for three miles before you got hold of him! Don’t tell the teacher this excuse in front of the kids; otherwise they may remind you that you don’t have a dog.

Never ever think about the plot when your husband is talking to you about his job. Never call him by one your characters and if you do accidently rename him, just make sure it is the name of the handsome, but diffident, hero of the story.

Lastly, never forget your age. But if you do, make sure it’s a year older! So that when you end up back in the same holiday destination, the one you didn’t like, to the same hotel, the one you definitely didn’t like, and your kids start questioning your memory, you discover that you have been thinking for whole year that you are a year older! Best holiday ever!

 

Follow the blog tour:

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~Blog Tour~Watching You by J. A. Schneider~Guest Post

Hi everyone,

Today I’m one of two stops (The lovely Crime Book Junkie is my blog stop buddy today!) on the blog tour for Watching You, the latest in the Kerri Blasco series by Joyce Schneider and I have a great guest post from the author for you all to check out!

About the book:

WatchingYou-7a

A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.
In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Kerri isn’t convinced.
Until another random young woman is killed in the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?
Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.

Buy the book:

Watching You by J. A. Schneider

About the author:

JoyceAuthor250

J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.


 

What Makes a Book Compelling? by J.A. Schneider

 

What constitutes the big, mysterious “tug?” That feeling – I call it the ping! – that pulls a potential reader to choose your book over the tsunami of others cramming book stores or Amazon’s pages without number? Is it the cover? The plot or characters?

I can only speak for myself, how I react to choosing the next book…especially if the author is new to me. My decision always seems to happen in three parts.

 

  1. The cover is what first tugs.

Or doesn’t – no different from why the frosting on one cake looks more wonderful than the frosting on another cake. What’s inside the cake might disappoint, but like the frosting, the book’s cover is what first excites.

Why?

It all comes down to emotion.

Honestly, aren’t all our first reactions based on emotion, before we re-think or tell ourselves we shouldn’t or move on to the next thing? Authors have changed their covers multiple times, hoping that the newer, brighter colors or the half-naked guy’s torso will attract. Sometimes that works, but what to do when every romance cover has an amazingly buff male, or when every thriller/action cover has images that are kinda the same?

Again, emotion rules.

It’s what really grabs, whether the reader is male or female, and regardless of his or her genre preference.

The cover image must have something that pulls at you. Sometimes I’ve even stopped to stare at a cover I thought was ugly…but it was different, and that made it daring, told me something about the author’s voice inside, beckoning.

Her Last Breath is my eighth book, and I’ve never gotten such a response to any of my other covers. The close-up of that woman’s face…oh gasp…is she dying? Desperate? When I first saw her face, after many evenings scouring Shutterstock, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Other cover ideas beckoned, but that face kept haunting me.

And pulling me back.

The emotion of that cover is so focused, intense. Nothing too busy or muddled to confuse one’s emotional reaction. On Twitter I keep hearing, “Ooh, wow.”

It helps a lot if your cover has that “Ooh, wow” feeling.

Because feelings rule.

Always.

 

  1. Character

Character pulls me in next. If the character described in the blurb intrigues or tugs at my heart, I’m hooked.

Because of emotion again.

We all laugh, cry, feel stress and anxiety, and if I identify with the character’s trouble and how s/he deals with it – download!

Ditto the appeal of the antagonist – if what s/he is doing outrages or astounds, I definitely want to know more. (Am I the only one who felt a bit sorry for the husband in Gone Girl? He was a jerk – right, so divorce him! Don’t subject him and your family and everyone to such evil.)

But villains might be the most compelling characters of all. Imagine Peter Pan without Captain Hook: you’d have a bland nothing. Then there are the never-ending parade of serial killers. How to make them astounding? What makes Hannibal Lecter rise above all others in his monstrosity? That in itself could be the subject for a thesis, starting with the fact that Thomas Harris’s writing is so incredibly great.

Which brings us to…

The hardest job of the writer – the one we all struggle with – which is to go deep, explore and develop our characters as fully as possible. Make them emotionally compelling, different, wildly colorful even if they’re bad. THAT is the real challenge, the thing that elevates good writing from depicting mere caricatures.

 

  1. Plot

The plot should work. It really should, but if it doesn’t and if the writing has been fabulous, we are more likely to forgive…a little, depending on the reader. Somewhere I read that Stephen King just doesn’t know how to end a book, whereas he has described the plots of Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil, The Stepford Wives) as having “the brilliance of a Swiss watch.”

 

For me, the best, most satisfying reads combine numbers 2 & 3. A really satisfying ending after a story of fascinating, different characters, deeply explored and developed.

That’s a book that stays with you.  


Huge thanks, as always, to Joyce for today’s great guest post. Make sure to keep up with the blog tour!
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*Blog Tour* Dog Fight by Michael J. Malone

Hi everyone,

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Dog Fight by Michael J. Malone and I get to share a guest q&a with you all today. First though, here’s all of the bookish info!

About the book:

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Kenny O’Neill, a villain with a conscience, returns in a hard-hitting thriller of exploitation, corruption and criminal gangs. When Kenny’s cousin, Ian, comes to the aid of a fellow ex-squaddie in a heap of trouble, he gets caught up in the vicious underground fight scene, where callous criminals prey on the vulnerable, damaged and homeless. With Ian in too deep to escape, Kenny has no option other than to infiltrate the gang for the sake of his family. Kenny is an experienced MMA fighter, as tough as they come, but has he found himself in the one fight he can never win?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the author:

Michael J Malone.jpg

Michael Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult, maybe.

He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Don’t ask.

BLOOD TEARS, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge:Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a “J” to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake.

He is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com and his blog, May Contain Nuts can be found at http://mickmal1.blogspot.com/

He can be found on twitter – @michaelJmalone1

Q&A:

We never start on a question – this is your chance to introduce yourself and tell us about Dog Fight.

Cool. The blurb runs thusly – Kenny O’Neill, a villain with a conscience, returns in a hard-hitting thriller of exploitation, corruption and criminal gangs. When Kenny’s cousin, Ian, comes to the aid of a fellow ex-squaddie in a heap of trouble, he gets caught up in the vicious underground fight scene, where callous criminals prey on the vulnerable, damaged and homeless. With Ian in too deep to escape, Kenny has no option other than to infiltrate the gang for the sake of his family. Kenny is an experienced MMA fighter, as tough as they come, but has he found himself in the one fight he can never win?

 

What do we need to know about Kenny O’Neill?  Dog Fight is not his first appearance, does he have baggage?

Our Kenny first appeared in Blood Tears alongside his bezzie-mate, Ray McBain and he has appeared in every one of those novels. He took centre stage in Beyond the Rage and does so again in Dog Fight.

As the blurb says, he’s a villain with a conscience. Kenny is a lot of fun to write, he says and does things I wouldn’t dream of, nor would I (mostly) want to.

As for baggage? A shit-load. That’s an official psychological term by the way. You just have to read the books to get the detail.

 

It gets a bit “punchy” in Dog Fight, have you a history of getting into scrapes and scuffles which helped with your research? Rumour has it that Ayrshire is the Dodge City of Scotland.

Hell, no. I’m the biggest wimp you’re ever going to meet. I did karate for about 6 months as a teenager and learned all about “control”: striking without contact. And I practised this assiduously, while other people were actually hitting me, the bastards, so I gave it up. For research I read some books on MMA fighting, watched some clips of fighting techniques on Youtube, and I also watched some actual fights on satellite TV – through my fingers. These guys are brutal.

As for Ayrshire being the Dodge City of Scotland? My lawyer says I should reply with No Comment. There are restraining orders in process.

 

If you could pick one highlight from your writing career to date which memory brings the biggest smile to your face?

Aww, man – so many, and you want me to pick one? I will say that each time I get the first copy of one of my books, fresh off the press, that makes me smile bigly (to paraphrase a certain orange-tinged fellow).

 

Which book has made the best transition to film or a tv series?

Too many to choose from, and on a different day my answer would change, but today I’ll go with the first four series of Game of Thrones. After that the pacing went to shit. It’s still way ahead of most of the stuff that makes it onto our screens, but the more recent series could have been edited with more care.

 

And the obvious follow up – which of your books would you want to see make its way into film? You get to pick one and explain why that was your choice.

The Guillotine Choice. It’s set in the 1930’s and 40’s and is based on a remarkable true story about a hugely inspiring man from Algeria called Mohand Kaci Saoudi who submitted to a 40 year sentence on Devil’s Island rather than have his cousin guillotined by the colonialial French power. It would make great viewing – it has resonance with the state of the world today and is a demonstration of the power and strength of the human spirit when faced with potentially overwhelming adversity.

 

What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

Logan. It was excellent – and a lesson to all the other superhero film-makers that having a few exciting set-pieces isn’t enough. You need an actual story if you really want to engage the viewers.

 

Lots of discussion on whether the next James Bond and also the next Doctor Who should be a woman.  Do you agree (and if you do – who should get the roles)?

I’m not a big fan of either of these franchises so I haven’t spent much time thinking about it. However, I do think it’s important that we have a wider representation of humanity in our popular media – and Tilda Swinton would make an awesome Doctor Who.

 

What book(s) are you reading at the moment?

I just started an advance copy of Dennis Lehane’s next book, Since We Fell – out in May. He’s edging into psychological thriller territory here and I can’t wait to see what he does with it. I’m a huge fan of his work.

And nestling in my kindle is an advance of Lucy Cameron’s debut novel, Night is Watching. I’ve heard big things about this book and can’t wait to get stuck in.

 

You’ve hit your daily word target and saved some seriously good content into the WIP. How do you clear your head and unwind?

Walk the dog, go to the gym, binge-watch something on Netflix, eat too many sugary snacks. Not necessarily in that order.

 

What advice would you give to your 15 year old self?

Where to start? I was SO self-conscious and it was such a waste of energy. People look at you for like a second, dismiss you and then go back to inhabiting a world with their ego at its centre. Mostly, you don’t mean shit to them.

When in company and struggling for something to say ask the other person a question about them. If you are interested you become interesting.

You won’t always be this skinny. The cakes will catch up with you.

The things that come easy? Work harder at them, then you get a career you enjoy.

Embrace your love of cinnamon. Add it to everything. Especially porridge.

Brussel Sprouts. The curse of your childhood. You’ll never get over it. Not even garlic will make them palatable. You will continue to barf at the sight of them for the rest of your life.

You will develop a healthy disregard for the celebrity obsessed culture that is coming your way. Try to spread this particular view to as many people as possible. In fact make it your life’s work.

And finally, if my young self is going to pay attention to any of this it should be: ignore everything you’ve just read – the most effective lessons are the ones you learn for yourself.

 

What is the best job you have ever had?

This one. Writer. 100 per cent the best job ever.

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