Monday, 22 May 2017

#LeighRussell #BlogTour #DeadlyAlibi @noexitpress


DEADLY ALIBI, the latest in the DI Geraldine Steel Mystery Series by LEIGH RUSSELL is out on 25th May 2017 from No Exit Press. 

Two murder victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt.... Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which threatens not only her career, but her life. And then her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, with problems which are about to make Geraldine's life turn toxic in more ways than one!


I am thrilled to welcome Leigh to my blog today! Leigh has been to two of my author events in Harpenden and I'm always struck by how generous she is with her time, her advice and her support for all things bookish and writerly. As author of sixteen crime novels - which have sold over 1 million copies - and winner of several awards, she really is a fascinating person to talk to. Although I can't claim to have read all her 16 books, I can genuinely say that the several I have read, really are very good stories! 

Anyway, enough from me, let's get on with the guest post from Leigh! Thanks again Leigh for stopping off at Bibliomaniac as part of your Blog Tour for Deadly Alibi

LEIGH RUSSELL ON WRITING:

Two of the most useful pieces of advice concerning creative writing were penned by successful authors. William Faulkner's advice has never been bettered: 

Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.

            By pure chance, this has mirrored my own experience, because I never set out to be a writer. When I was growing up, there were none of the courses in creative writing that proliferate nowadays. My childhood was spent lost in books - down the rabbit hole, through the back of the wardrobe, and later on marooned on an island with small boys reverting to savagery, and wandering the moors with Catherine Earnshaw. As a young adult I spent four years studying literature at university - more reading - and finally ended up teaching literature. In all that time, it never occurred to me to try my hand at writing fiction myself. Authors were mysterious people who lived, well, somewhere else, set apart from ordinary people.

            Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin. Whether someone else leads you into a different world, or your own imagination creates a fictitious world for other readers, stories transport us away from our everyday lives and offer us a holiday from the pain, insecurity, and boredom, of reality. So I spent the best part of four decades reading avidly and then, one day, an idea struck me. I began to write it down and somehow the story took hold of me and I couldn't stop writing. It was an instant transformation, from avid reader to compulsive writer.
           
            Like reading, writing becomes all consuming. As Eugene Ionesco said, 'A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of writing or thinking about writing.' But teaching others how to write is a curious phenomenon, because the creative impulse drives us to produce something unique and original. William McIlvanney said on this subject, "All you can do is encourage writing. I don't think you can teach writing, but it's valid for people who want to write to have writers teach them. It depends on the writer but I think somebody who really feels a powerful compulsion should watch out about taking too much advice from anybody. You don't want to theorise it to death. Writing is ultimately an inexplicable compulsion. When I taught creative writing classes, I didn't tell people how to write. I encouraged them to write and to see that defying my advice was possibly as valuable as following it."

            This is absolutely right. There are numerous tips I can share with aspiring writers concerning the craft of writing, and I'm happy to do so whenever I'm invited to give creative writing master classes. But the most important advice anyone can give you is to trust yourself. You are the writer. There will always be others who wish to encourage or perhaps undermine you, people who want only to please you, or who would prefer you to write something different, or who believe they can write better than you. But if you don't have the urge to write your own story, there is little point in making the attempt. If you do have the 'creative itch', then you may find you have no choice but to dedicate your time to writing the story clamouring to be written. And once you discover the joy of writing, there is no going back.

Thank you so much Leigh! Great advice and inspiring quotes! I'm sure there will be a few of us reaching for pen and paper after reading this post! 

Don't forget to follow the other stops on the Blog Tour and check back over the ones you may have missed!



LEIGH RUSSELL 
Leigh Russell
After many years teaching English in secondary school, internationally bestselling author Leigh Russell now writes crime fiction full time. Published in English and in translation in Europe, her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson titles have appeared on many bestseller lists, including #1 on kindle. Leigh's work has been nominated for several major awards, including the CWA New Blood Dagger and CWA Dagger in the Library, and her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson series are in development for television with Avalon Television Ltd.
And if you want to read my review of Deadly Alibi please click here

For more recommendations and reviews you can follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3

#BabyDear #LindaHuber #Review

Baby dear

Caro and Jeff Horne seem to have it all until they learn that Jeff is infertile. Caro married Jeff because her biggest wish was to be a mother, and he had the means to give their children a better life than she’d had. Jeff, who is besotted with Caro, is terrified he will lose her now they can’t have a baby.

Across town, Sharon is eight months pregnant and unsure if she really wants to be a mother. Soon her world will collide with Jeff’s. He wants to keep Caro happy and decides that getting a baby is the only way. 

Then Caro is accidently drawn into an underworld of drugs…

Meanwhile, Jeff is increasingly desperate to find a baby – but what lengths is he prepared to go to?

Is Sharon in danger, and will Caro ever have the family she’s always dreamed of?



I have read all Linda Huber's books. She is my go-to for a reliable, dependable, psychological thriller fix. And I use words like "dependable", "reliable" and "satisfactory" as huge compliments because it means when I finish turning the pages of her books I feel like I have been treated to a well written, well structured and enjoyable book. Not all books do that - and not all books can do that consistently. Sometimes you want an easy read, a page turner with enough twists to surprise you but not tangle you up into so many knots you never sleep again! Linda Huber's novels do everything a satisfying suspense novel should. Baby Dear is no exception.

It opens with a prologue and I am a fan of this controversial tool. It is deliciously shocking and suitably anonymous and confusing. I think having the words gun and baby in the same line is very bold and certainly prepares us for a story that is going to pull at our heartstrings.

The opening of the novel focuses on Caro and her desire for a baby. Infertility and the journey some couples go through to have a child is a massively emotive subject and one which people will react to strongly depending on their experiences. Huber does not hold back expressing the raw pain of Caro and the colossal impact their state of childlessness is having on them. Huber never shies away from strong characters who can either have strong opinions themselves or provoke strong reactions from her readers and in Baby Dear again is no exception. But, Huber explores Caro's emotions and interaction with her husband with sensitively and thoughtfulness.

Obviously having a child is a very intimate experience and the conversations around this are very private so I was impressed at what length Huber went to to portray this and share it with the reader. And as I was just beginning to find it a little intense, she moves the story along by introducing the other characters and some further action that propels the plot forward.

The novel focuses on three women, all in very different situations regarding motherhood. This really works as it allows Huber to really play with the interaction and dynamics between the woman and really explore all that it means to be a mother. It also brings in more characters, more sub plots, more suspense and more tension. All of the women are well crafted, believable and relatable. Sharon in particular, who does not want to become a mother and voices some strong thoughts, is handled well; we see that actually things are not that black and white and her point of view contradicts that of the others so much it sets up some exiting tensions. But the reader feels something for all the women and is involved in each of their stories and situations.

I think what I also enjoyed about this book was that it dodged some cliches. This is about a couple who are so desperate they want a child but it did not play out in the way I expected at all and the most disturbing character was not the one I conventionally suspected.

I don't want to give too much away but, as with all great Huber novels, the plot escalates suddenly to a totally page turing dramatic climax where suddenly everything collides and the reader is dragged breathlessly through towards the end, gripped and shocked, desperate to see how it will resolve itself. It's good read. It won't disappoint. I recommend!

Baby Dear is published by Bloodhound Books on 18th May 2017.

LINDA HUBER

Linda Huber


Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, where she trained as a physiotherapist. She spent ten years working with neurological patients, firstly in Glasgow and then in Switzerland. During this time she learned that different people have different ways of dealing with stressful events in their lives, and this knowledge still helps her today, in her writing.

Linda now lives in Switzerland, where she works as a language teacher in a little town on the banks of beautiful Lake Constance.

Her debut novel The Paradise Trees was published in 2013 and was followed by The Cold Cold Sea in 2014 and The Attic Room in 2015. she has also had over 50 short stories and articles published in magazines, some of which are available in a collection called The Saturday Secret. In 2016 she published Chosen Child and Ward Zero. 


LindaHuber19
http://lindahuber.net/

You can find my reviews for Linda's books by using the links below:
Ward Zero
Cold Cold Sea & Chosen Child
The Saturday Secret

And you can find me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3

Sunday, 21 May 2017

#CrimeFest17 Day3 20th May


Day 3 of the fabulous Crime Fest 2017! Another book filled day or listening to talented and articulate writers chat about their books - life doesn't get much better!

Here's a run down of the panels I attended today!

DEBUT AUTHORS: FRESH BLOOD 

DodgersThe Night Is WatchingMy Sister's BonesButterfly on the Storm (Heartland Trilogy #1)

This was a great panel to go to as the authors are all talking about their debuts so there was a bit more about the novel itself, what inspired them and their writing journey.

I love "My Sister's Bones" - I gave it 5 stars and meet Nuala Ellwood at an event in February so I was pleased to see her again on this panel. Her novel is about a war reporter, PTSD and explores the unsettling situation of when you don't know whether what you are seeing is real or not.

Walter Lucius is a filmaker, theatre director and TV script writer in Amsterdam and his debut is the first in a trilogy. His novel is about corruption and conspiracy.

Lucy Cameron's debut novel is a thriller novel with a mix of the supernatural. The murderer is known as the "couple's killer" as he butchers the men and drains the blood of the women. It also has a main character who is no longer sure what is real and what to believe.

Bill Beverly's Dodgers is going to be massive - it has won multiple awards already and is sure to be a bestseller. Beverly has an academic background and this is his first fiction title. It's set in America and focuses on a group of teenagers that set off on a road trip which takes them away from home for the first time on a journey that changes everything.

The authors all have very different routes into publishing - some already working within the industry, some have completed MA courses and some have worked in supermarkets. But all of them have been writing a long time and all of them advise just to keep going, don't be put off and speak to people so you get good feedback, support and advice.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHERE THE FACTS END AND THE FICTION STARTS?

Reconciliation for the DeadA Thousand Cuts (Spike Sanguinetti #5)Death in Bayswater (Frances Doughty #6)A Meditation on MurderZodiac Station

All of these books are part of a series and all of them have aspects of the authors' lives incorporated into the main protagonists, whether it's that the author and their main character share the same job, have travelled to the same places or have grown out of something the author has studied or researched. There was a lot of debate about "reality" and "truth", "fact" and "fiction".

Paul Hardisty felt very strongly that in his books he wanted to bring the reader as close as he could to the real issues, events, people and places so he needs to recreate something very convincing that will provide that immediacy so the reader believes it. In his work, Hardisty has had to write a lot of scientific reports and from this he's found that facts aren't always the truth.

On the other hand, Robert Thorogood, who writes "Death in Paradise", has created a fictional island and therefore can play with the truth and wriggle out of inaccuracies. But, he will always make sure he is true to the genre of the murder mystery and always stay true to what makes a convincing and well written novel.

There was a lot of chat about location and how important that is in each of these novels. Linda Stratmann's novels are all set in Victorian Bayswater, Thomas Mogford are all set in Gibraltor, Hardisty's in the Middle East and Thorogood's on a fictional island. There were some interesting comments about the size of this canvas and the challenges of writing about a location you weren't living in.

AMERICAN NOIR

DodgersVicious Circle (Joe Pickett, #17)The Butchers of BerlinStealing People

This was an entertaining panel, expertly moderated by Barry Forshaw. Two of the authors are American and two are British but their books are all set in America. After a general introduction to the authors and their novels, there was some discussion about what the panel understood by the term "American Noir" and what were the key differences between British Noir and American Noir.

There was some discussion about why Chris Petit and Robert Wilson chose to set their books in America and it seems that basically America provides a bigger canvas; the roads are longer, the landscape is bigger and it seems to just lend itself better to the stories they want to write.

When chatting about America it's impossible not to mention the current political climate so it was interesting to hear how the authors and their writing might be affected by the new President. And whether America, seen for so long as  palace of great optimism and opportunities, will now become a darker place and symbolise something different.

The authors recommended some classic American Noir authors too including Patricia Highsmith and Raymond Chandler.

ANTHONY HOROWITZ 

The House of Silk (Sherlock Holmes, #1)Scorpia (Alex Rider, #5)Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes #2)Magpie MurdersTrigger Mortis

This was a real treat!! There were two headline acts today, Anthony Horowitz and Anne Cleeves. As an English Teacher and mother of an Alex Rider fan, I had to see Horowitz. And it was a real treat. Horowitz is so animated, interesting, entertaining and energetic that the time passed really quickly. He was full of fantastic anecdotes from his writing life and plenty of insightful comments about crime fiction. Here are a few highlights but honestly, it's impossible to condense everything he said as he's achieved so much, written so much and seemed to share four times as much information as any of the other authors I saw this weekend!

  • Horowitz has a different pen for each time he writes a new book and prefers the fluency of writing his stories by hand first rather than the abstractness of the computer where there is a bit of detachment
  • Alex Rider was banned in one school! 
  • Alex Rider unlocked Horowitz's success- his children's book needed to grow up a bit and when they did, he found success. 
  • Horowitz talked about 3 objects that were important to him and why - the objects were a human skull, Tintin's moon rocket and a pair of broken sunglasses 
  • Arthur Conan Doyle didn't like Watson and how important it is to stay faithful to the original author when building on their stories
  • Netflix is the future! 
And there was so so so so much more. It was a really enjoyable interview to listen to and has certainly made me want to read Horowitz's new book which sounds intriguing and exciting.

ESCAPING THE SHADOWS OF THE PAST: WHEN YOUR PROTAGONIST CAN"T FORGET

Never AloneThe Secret (DS Imogen Grey, #2)Rupture (Dark Iceland - English Publication Order #4; Original Publication #4)The Boy Who Saw (Solomon Creed #2)Cursed (Henning Juul, #4)

Elizabeth Haynes was moderating this panel and she threw them all in at the deep end by asking them to disclose something they had done that they would rather forget! I'm afraid I can't share as what's said at Crime Fest, stays at Crime Fest!

The authors talked about the past stories in their protagonists' lives and how intrigued they all were by family - every family has a dark side, and every family has a secret....!! Toyne and Diamond use a lot of violence in their novels but they explained that it was not gratuitous and as it served the story it was justified.

Elizabeth Haynes asked a great question about what they thought the reader wouldn't be able to forget once they'd finished the book. It seems that the locations of each of these novels is what is so memorable about them - and also essential for hiding secrets and shadows. Diamond's book is set in a museum, Toyne's novel is in France and Jonasson and Enger use their Nordic homelands. The locations for each of these novels is intrinsic to the plot and therefore must make a great impression on the reader.

All four authors have new books coming out soon so look out!

So that was Saturday - another 5 panels and another stack of books added to my TBR pile! But another fabulous set of panels, lots of inspiring words and entertaining stories.  I've had a great day and thoroughly enjoyed meeting readers, writers, bloggers and authors, discovering new books, hearing about favourite ones and generally getting to soak up a wonderful atmosphere for 3 days! 

Thanks for reading my posts and I hope you've found some new authors or new titles to add to your TBR pile! 

Keep an eye out for my interviews with Leigh Russell, Paul Hardisty and Bill Beverly that are coming soon and check back over my blog to read the interview with Johana Gustawsson that I did on Thursday. 

Follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 to keep up to date with all my reviews and recommendations! 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

#CrimeFest17 #Day2 19th May



Well I rather excelled myself today and managed to attend 5 panels, 1 author presentation and meet 2 authors for interviews. My head is so full of titles, names, characters and crime that I can barely string a sentence together - so this post will be interesting!

Day 2 of Crime Fest and it was another fabulous day mingling with authors, bloggers, writers, readers and anyone who likes crime fiction. Here's a run down of the panels I attended and some of the highlights of my day!

HOW MANY DEATHS? THE APPEAL OF THE SERIAL KILLER IN CRIME FICTION

Deadly Alibi (DI Geraldine Steel, #9)Day of the Dead (Eve Clay #3)Perfect Prey (A DI Callanach Thriller)The Quiet Man (A Jefferson Winter Thriller, #4)Strangers (Lucy Clayburn, #1)

Perhaps not the lightest of topics to kick off a Friday morning with but while in CrimeFest..... This panel started by talking about why there was such a fascination with serial killers. Leigh Russell thought it might be because in childhood we read fairy tales about monsters, in adulthood the serial killers in crime fiction become these monsters. Helen Fields commented that perhaps our fascination is because there is a tiny bit of a serial killer inside all of us - we all have a fascination with the darker side and novels give authors and readers a safe place to explore and experience this.

There was some interesting chat about the kind of duty an author has when writing about serial killers and crimes. Although the novel is fiction and needs to be engaging and exciting, it cannot be flippant. Real crimes happens, people do commit murder and the number of lives affected by a murder are very far reaching from the immediate family to the police officers and lawyers. Serial killers perhaps, are interesting because we are interested in the impact their crime has on people- not the body count.

Some of the authors on this panel have direct experience of working with murders through their 'day' jobs so there was some discussion about whether you can 'spot' a killer and some anecdotes about situations in which the writers had felt uneasy or on edge. When working with criminals you have to engage with them but can't be drawn into their world.

GENRE JUMPING: CROSSING BOUNDARIES 

ImpurityBehind Her EyesWhy Did You Lie?Defender (The Voices #1)The Incubus (Thomas Berrington Historical Mystery Book 4)

As the title suggests, this panel was discussing how authors blend genres - the focus was mainly on horror and crime, or crime and supernatural, but there were lots of really interesting points raised. It started with a question about why we needed 'genre' - was it to help the reader, help the publisher or a marketing ploy? And does an author make a conscious decision to 'pick' a genre or do they just write a good story?

I found the question about what influence the homes and places where the authors write had on the genre they wrote in. For example Yrsa Siguaroardottir comes from Iceland where recently a road was moved to protect the elves and the children grow up being told not to throw stones as they don't want to hit the hidden people!

It was interesting to hear from four authors who were all generally writing using the same genre but mixing it and blending it to all produce books that are original and unlike each other. Each author had a different approach to writing, planning and word count but they did all agree on one thing and that was this - a great top tip for an aspiring writer!

"It's not write about what you know, but make sure you know what you write about."

And I'll leave you with their recommendations for books which they thing are perfect examples of authors who cross boundaries and jump genres!

The Shining (The Shining #1)DenialThe Silence of the LambsThe Picture of Dorian Gray and Other WritingsJoyland

YOU ARE NOT ALONE: GIVING YOUR PROTAGONIST FAMILY AND FRIENDS 

The Mountain in My ShoeCursed (Henning Juul, #4)Wolves in the DarkThe EscapeThe Other Twin

So, protagonists in crime fiction who have family and friends - oh no, sorry they don't. Why don't they? Does it remove all the extra baggage, character descriptions, mundanity of chores and details? Does a protagonist work better when they have hit rock bottom and are totally alone? Does it make for a more dramatic story? Or is it because ultimately we all fear being alone?

All of the above it would seem! That and a need to really challenge and push the main character so they are really tested. If they are isolated they are more alone, more challenged, everything is harder and the author can really explore the emotional strength of their character.

Why are families so dysfunctional in crime thrillers? Why is their such a fascination with 'toxic' siblings and parents? Again, is it because everyone has a family, every family has aspects of dysfunction with in it, and ultimately we are all intrigued by what has make these people or these relationships toxic. "Home is where the hurt is".

One of the questions from the floor was what is the best and the worst thing about being a writer. It seems the authors all suffer from anxiety and self doubt about their work and the best bits are the actual writing itself, the fun they can have playing with their characters and coming up with the initial idea. Cally Taylor also added that her best thing was when you get an email from someone who hasn't read for a long time - until they discover your book! Let's hope she also now thinks the best thing is when a starry eyed fan proclaims their love for her when she's signing books. Not that I did that. Obvs. (I know, I know, my suitcase is packed.....)

Finally here are some of the books that influenced these authors:

HeidiFlowers in the Attic (Dollanganger, #1)The World According to GarpThe Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes, #5)Fool Me OnceWuthering HeightsSecrets (Sweet Valley High, #2)

OBSESSION: PASSION, MANIA, OR SIMPLE ENTHUSIASM

The Woman Next DoorThe Second SisterExquisiteThe House With No Rooms (The Detective's Daughter, #4)The Intrusions (Carrigan and Miller, #3)

Ok so this panel was all about obsession and stalking. (No wise cracks please, I will always plea I'm "simply enthusiastic"...!!) The discussion on this panel raised a lot of interesting questions as the authors talked about whether stalking was ever alright, what causes people to do it - whether it is just an obsession out of control or something more pathological, why do stalkers think they have that sense of entitlement and whether it is triggered by some trauma in their youth.

The authors talked about what inspired them to write about stalkers and if this was the intention when they began writing. Kendal's first book (The Book of You) is written in the 2nd person which creates more intensity for a story already focusing on someone's intense obsession. The authors also talked about how many of us enjoy a little bit of (innocent) stalking - watching out the window and making up narratives about our neighbours, following the same routes on our daily walks, lurking on line to look up ex boyfriends...... And if it is this reason that makes us want to read about them.

There was a question about the impact of social media and how this might affect novels about stalking. Most of the authors have not included social media in their novels due to setting, time or the age of the characters - and they did feel that obsessive fixations with people usually required something more present and close which you couldn't get online or virtually.

Here are there favourite 'stalking' novels:

You (You, #1)The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley, #1)HerStrangers on a Train
Misery

And Finally - PARENTING 101: WHEN YOUR PROTAGONIST HAS COMMITMENTS

Deep Down DeadThe Contract (John Q, #2)The Stolen ChildAfter She Fell (Alex Devlin, #2)Thin Ice: An Inspector Gunna Mystery

What happens when your protagonist has a child? What happens when they lose that child or have to take that child with them on a journey that's not safe or when they have to compromise their children's safety? All of these authors have chosen to write about parents and children in different ways and for different reasons. Most of them felt that by giving their protagonist a child, it made them more real, more empathetic, less of a lone wolf.

There were some interesting discussion points raised about the difference between parenting in the US and the UK, whether you needed to be a parent to write about being a parent, how you found your way into the head of the young child you were writing about and how much of yourself and your own family you put into your novel.

Again, as with the other panels today, there was a diverse range of authors, all with different kinds of stories, settings, locations and protagonists and all with different approaches to giving their main character commitments. It was a very interesting chat with which to end the day!

Thanks so much to all the panelists for such a fascinating day. I have loved every minute of listening to all they've shared and really enjoyed hearing more about their thought processes, writing lives and the wider issues that are explored through crime fiction. 

And once more, a further handful of books to add to my TBR pile!!