Saturday Shoutout: Q & A with Mark Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor

Happy Saturday everyone, I hope you’re all having a wonderful start to your weekend. I have a Q & A to share today with Mark Tilbury, I recently read his latest release, The Key to Death’s Door and LOVED it! Here’s a little information about the book:

Blurb:

If you could discover the murderous truth of a past life and seek justice in this one, would you?

Teenager Lee Hunter doesn’t have a choice when he nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light that lets him to go back to the past, Lee finds himself reliving the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically.

After recovering from his near death experience, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

Struggling against impossible odds, Lee and Charlie set out to bring this man to justice.

Will Lee be able to unlock the past and bring justice to the future?

The Key to Death’s Door is a story of sacrifice, friendship, loyalty and murder.

Q & A

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

I tend to write in the afternoons. I’m pretty useless at doing anything in the morning except drinking coffee! I sit in a room with the curtains closed and music on to drown out any possible distractions. I target 2,000 words a day and try to keep going until I reach it. Not that it always happens that way – sometimes the muse decides to have a day off, and I just have to walk away and leave it alone.

2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?

I started with poems and adventure stories when I was about eight or nine. I was naturally quite good at English, and one particular teacher encouraged me to write. I loved creating my own worlds. It was my way of being in control in a world controlled by adults. Make them do what I wanted for a change!

3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Tom Sharpe. I’ve tried to take a little something from each of them and mould it into my own style. Koontz’s description, King’s natural way of talking to his audience and Tom Sharpe’s humour

4. Anything you can tell us about current projects?

My latest novel, The Key to Death’s Door is being published by Bloodhound Books on 16th April. Teenager Lee Hunter nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light, Lee is sent back to relive the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically. As time passes, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

I’ve also just finished the first draft of a new novel which has a working title of The Hunter of Lost Souls. Without giving too much away, it’s about a woman who is attacked and left for dead after her assailant is disturbed by a man walking his dog. As she recovers, the headaches and nosebleeds begin, and she soon realises she has been left with an ability to see into the mind of her assailant.

5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.

I nearly always start with a character. He/she speaks in my head. Something completely random. Peter King in The Liar’s Promise said, ‘What doesn’t kill you will make you wish it had.’ That was interesting enough for me to really take notice. Think about who would say such a thing? Where could they fit into a story? The stories themselves are usually random ‘what if?’ ideas. In the Liar’s Promise it was – what if a young child remembers a past life in which she’d been murdered, and the killer is still at large? Then it’s just a case of matching story to character and seeing where it leads.

6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?

Liam Truman from The Abattoir of Dreams. Gutsy, stood up for what he believed in, took no crap. Someone I really admired. He held onto hope for all he was worth, even when facing death. The only character in one of my books who made me cry when writing him.

7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?

Readers can e-mail me using this address mark@marktilbury.com or send me a message on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor

8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

Three months. I’ve written six so far, and each one has come in around that time, regardless of length.

10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?

Lee Hunter in The Key to Death’s Door. He’s more of a follower than a leader, but he’s never afraid to take part or test himself. Fortunately, I’ve never experienced any of the horrors Lee does in the book, but I imagine it’s how I might react if I did.

11. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?

I’ve been extremely lucky to have received a lot of compliments about my books, but for me it’s the ones who say they wouldn’t normally read this type of book, but they are really glad they did. It’s as if I’ve converted them, and that, for me, is so rewarding.

Huge thanks to Mark for joining me today!

Q & A with Vivien Brown author of Lily Alone @VivBrownAuthor

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: January 30, 2018

Publisher: Harper

Blurb:

Lily, who is almost three years old, wakes up alone at home with only her cuddly toy for company. She is afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers.

But why is Lily alone and isn’t there anyone who can help her? What about the lonely old woman in the flat downstairs who wonders at the cries from the floor above? Or the grandmother who no longer sees Lily since her parents split up?

All the while a young woman lies in a coma in hospital – no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy…

And for Lily, time is running out…

Happy US publication day to Vivien Brown, her novel Lily Alone is out today and to celebrate I have an interview to share.

Q & A

What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

I gave up paid employment four years ago to concentrate on my writing, so I now have a choice about when to write instead of squeezing it all in late at night or at weekends. Ideally, I love to write in the afternoons, in a sunny garden with a cold drink and a bar of chocolate to hand, but London weather doesn’t offer many opportunities like that, so I use a bedroom turned into a study, overlooking the garden, with a small TV, all my books and writing stuff around me, and two goldfish for company.

How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?

I loved English lessons at school and started writing poems at about the age of 16. My first short story to appear in a UK women’s magazine while I was a stay-at-home mum of twins gave me such a thrill that I wrote more, and more, and have had around 140 published now under my former name of Vivien Hampshire. I have also had more than 250 articles published, largely about working and reading with kids. Novels crept up on me slowly. My first two were learning experiences, appearing as ebooks only under my old author name, but I now have a ‘real’ UK publishing contract as Vivien Brown and I’m being read in both ebook and paperback, so I couldn’t be happier!

Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

I read a real mix of novels, about fifty a year – from romance and sagas to psychological thrillers, American and British, but almost always books written by women and with strong women as their main characters. Some of my favorites in recent years have been Clare Mackintosh, Milly Johnson, Jean Fullerton, Veronica Henry and Iona Grey.

Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?

Launching Lily Alone to an American audience on 30 January is exciting but nerve-wracking, and I have been told the rights have been sold to a Turkish publisher too, so I am looking forward to seeing it in translation, even though I won’t understand a word! My next novel will be out in the UK later in 2018 and is currently at the editing stage. I haven’t even seen a cover for it yet, but it is called Five Unforgivable Things and will look at the five pivotal moments in a long marriage when mistakes were made and things just might have turned out differently if only…

Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.

I write very much about the world I know. London-based contemporary relationship stories, with all the drama that arises when people meet, marry, have children, divorce or make life-changing decisions and mistakes. I worked in banking, and then with children under the age of five for a long time, so these regularly feature in my stories, as do lovable old ladies, based loosely on my own grandmother! A story for me starts with a character or an incident, and I rarely know exactly what is going to happen along the way until I actually write it.

Favorite character from one of your own novels?

I like most of my characters, but I do have a soft spot for Agnes, the elderly neighbour in Lily Alone, who is widowed and lonely, suffering from arthritis, living somewhere she really doesn’t want to be, but has a very good and loving heart. Of course, things will work out well for her by the end of the book. And her old cat Smudge, who plays an important part in the story. I love him too!

Preferred method for readers to contact you?

I use twitter, facebook, email, and have a blog (which I don’t add to very often), but any way is good for me. Hearing from readers is a lovely part of the job. Or write a review – always so much appreciated.

On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

 

Taking a year to think, plan, write and edit a book from idea to finished manuscript works for me. I’m sure it can be achieved more quickly, but I like to feel comfortable and unrushed, leaving me time to have a life away from writing too.

If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?

Probably still working with very young children. It was a dream job, introducing them and their families to the magic of books, reading stories and leading rhyme sessions to groups in libraries, organising picture book-related events, running training courses about reading to children, and giving away free books. I did it for 12 years, in an area of London where there were a lot of families from other countries and cultures, or with very little income, for whom reading had never been a large part of their lives. I only left because the urge to write was so strong.

What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?

When someone I have never met reads my novel and leaves a review telling me it was gripping or nail-biting and they couldn’t put it down. That’s the sort of writing I set out to achieve and it’s lovely to know I have managed it. I just hope that American readers will enjoy the book as much as British ones have.

Huge thanks to Vivien for joining me today, you can catch her on social media at the following links.

Amazon.co.uk link: http://amzn.to/2nF1iDC

Amazon.com link: http://amzn.to/2qFxdaN

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VivBrownAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/viv.hampshire

Website/Blog: https://vivienbrownauthor.wordpress.com/

Email: vivbrownauthor@btinternet.com

Blog Tour: Disposal by David Evans @DavidEwriter

Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon U.K.

Release date: January 16, 2018

Publisher: Orchard View Publications

Genre: Crime Fiction

Blurb:

August 1976 and it seems as though the long hot summer will never end. Early morning at Clacton on the north Essex coast, a light aircraft takes off from the airstrip but struggles for height and crashes into the sea. First on the scene, Sergeant Cyril Claydon pulls the pilot’s body from the wreckage. But something else catches his eye. A bulky package wrapped in black plastic is on the passenger seat. Returning to investigate, he makes a grim discovery – another body. And so begins a series of events that puts him and others in danger as he is drawn into the investigation, having to work alongside DI ‘Dick’ Barton, a man with totally alien attitudes. Can they work together?

I’m so pleased to be a stop on the blog tour for Disposal today! I have a fantastic interview with the author to share.

Q & A:

Q Why did you write a book?

I enjoyed reading and have always had creative thoughts. Years ago, I joined a Creative Writing Nightclass and, after a few terms of writing various exercises, I realised a couple of those were linked in some way. After that, it was a small step to see if I could write more on the same theme that would eventually form a book. And so the first draft of what became Trophies was born.

Q Do you write every day?

When I have an active project, I tend to write every day but sometimes, I take a break for a short while – recharge batteries and provide valuable thinking time.

Q Do you work to a plot or do you prefer to see where the idea takes you?

Initially, I need a plot – that is vital. For instance, for the last 3 projects, once I have the ideas, I will write around 10,000 words and pause. At that point, I am able to judge if it ‘has legs’. Then I’ll look to draft a loose synopsis. Once I have something I think will work, I carry on writing. Every now and then, I’ll go back to the synopsis and tweak it to line up with what has been written. I use the synopsis as a guide but don’t allow it to dictate rigidly if my characters or plot take me ‘off message’. That way creativity isn’t stifled. Also, when the first draft is complete, it is a matter of one last tweak to have a completed synopsis – one of the hardest tasks to perform when writing.

Q How long does it take you to write a book?

As I’ve written more, I’ve found that the time to write each book has shortened. The first draft of Trophies took me over 2 years, but that was coping with a full-time job. It has also gone through 8 further drafts. Torment took about 2 years on and off (again with a full-time job) but has required less re-drafts. Talisman was about 18 months in the drafting whilst Disposal took about 16 months. However, other writing matters had been prioritised during the writing of Disposal – like achieving a publication deal for the Wakefield Series. I also like to have 2 or 3 threads running through the books and that takes time and concentration to meld them together.

Q What’s the worst thing about writing a book?

Getting it out there, all the marketing and promotional work that has to be done. Like most writers, I’d rather just think about the next one and create.

Q What’s the best thing about writing a book?

When your characters take over. For instance, when I was writing Disposal, I had my two main characters, Cyril and Barton in the front seats of a car. As they drove, it was as if I was in the back seat listening to their conversation. When we set off, I didn’t have a clue what they were going to say, but they obviously did. That was so satisfying.

Q Why did you choose your particular genre?

Because crime fiction is what I enjoy reading. I think if you don’t enjoy what you’re writing that will become apparent in the finished work.

Q If you had to write in a different genre, which would you choose?

Possibly some non-fiction historical work might interest me.

Q Which book character do you wish you had written?

It would have to be John Rebus, the brilliant creation of Ian Rankin.

Q What do you think are the best and the worst things about social media?

The best would probably be the instantaneous feedback and contact it allows. The worst has to be the ability of it to run away with time – possibly our most precious commodity.

A few questions, just for fun:

Q If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

That would be difficult. The danger with that would be coming across conversations others may be having about you which it might be best not to learn. A better option would be the ability to go back in time as an invisible person to soak up the experiences and atmosphere of earlier times.

Q If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?

It would be on a warm summer’s day, a visit to a preserved railway to experience the sights sounds and smells of what I consider to be the art in motion of a steam locomotive. The aromatic mix of steam and hot oil is something difficult to describe. We’d have lunch at a pub followed by taking a well-behaved dog for a walk and allow our thoughts to drift to the latest writing project. Finally, we’d spend the evening with friends, back in the pub to catch up on what everyone had been doing.

Q What’s your signature dish?

Chilli con carne or Paella, both of which I seem to have mastered pretty well (so people tell me).

Q If you could be anyone for the day, who would you be?

I’m quite comfortable in my own skin and with my own company. However, for the benefit of this question, I’d like to be a contestant on The Apprentice. I’m not bothered about the prospect of winning, I’d just enjoy being alongside some of the dopy people who take part. Finally, in the boardroom, after all the other sycophants have tugged their forelocks and referred to the man as ‘Lord Sugar’, I’d take great delight in telling him to take his job and shove it before walking out!

About the Author:

David Evans is a Scots-born writer who found his true love as well as his inspiration for his detective series, set primarily in Wakefield. Having written all his life, in 2012 he decided to go for it – successfully as the next year, in 2013, he was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award.

The Wakefield Series became an International Bestseller in June 2017 with success in Canada and Australia as well as the UK. But now, whilst the Wakefield Series awaits the next instalment, David Evans has written Disposal, the first in the Tendring Series, a completely new detective series set in north Essex in the 1970s.

David Evans on Social Media

Author Website: http://www.davidevanswriter.co.uk/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/davidevanswriter/
Twitter: @DavidEwriter

Blog Tour: That They Might Lovely Be by David Matthews

Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK

Release date: December 8, 2017

Publisher: Top Hat Books

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb:

No-one thought Bertie Simmonds could speak. So, when he is heard singing an Easter hymn, this is not so much the miracle some think as a bolt drawn back, releasing long-repressed emotions with potentially devastating consequences… A decade later, Bertie marries Anstace, a woman old enough to be his mother, and another layer of mystery starts to peel away. Beginning in a village in Kent and set between the two World Wars, That They Might Lovely Be stretches from the hell of Flanders, to the liberating beauty of the Breton coast, recounting a love affair which embraces the living and the dead.

I’m so pleased to be the stop on the blog tour for That They Might Lovely Be today! I have a wonderful Q & A with the author to share today.

Top 5 with David Matthews

Top 5 books

Riders in the Chariot by Patrick White – a brilliant reworking of the events surrounding the death of Christ, set in Australia, this novel reminds me that the Christian story can be played out time and again throughout history

Waterland by Graham Swift – a beautifully narrated ramble through the secrets of the past, tangled with evocative description of place

Middlemarch by George Eliot – a richly woven tale of middle England in the 19th century bringing a wonderful array of characters to life, all finely nuanced and caught up in the preoccupations of their circumstances

Wake by Anna Hope – one of the most moving books I have read recently; revolving around the internment of the

Unknown Soldier, this novel captures the devastation and courageous endurance which follows loss and grief. It is a beautifully written elegy.

Saturday by Ian McEwan – his best book, in my opinion: a tight portrayal of the anxieties and preoccupations haunting modern urban living.

Top 5 films

The Third Man – wonderfully atmospheric with the use of music and shadow and the most poignant end sequence of all.

Brief Encounter – a period film about emotional restraint set against the most searing music; sacrifice can be exquisite.

Ex Machina – a film for our times, where human emotion confronts the chilling independence of the machine; we are at the mercy of what we create.

Diva – a French film directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix which focuses on a young man’s obsession with beauty. The soundtrack is great.

Went the Day Well? – an Ealing Studio’s working of a story by Graham Greene. It is set in the heart of England during the Second World War and has stayed with me as an exploration of how ordinary, domesticity copes with overwhelming crisis.

Top 5 songs

Bailero – Joseph Canteloupe from ‘Songs of the Auvergne’

All By Myself – Eric Carmen

Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

Adelaide’s Lament – Frank Loesser form ‘Guys and Dolls’

Smoke gets in Your Eyes – Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach, sung by Dinah Washington

Top 5 holiday destinations

Any rural retreat in France – good food and wine, beautiful scenery and a culture which says the quality of life and simple pleasures are more important than material progress

Alnwick, Northumberland – a quintessential English town and you can’t ever get a more stimulating blend of countryside, wild coastline and amazing castles; it’s great in all weathers

Great Blasket, Dingle peninsula, Ireland – this is the most western point in Europe, it’s wild and the weather can be dreadful but there is atmosphere in abundance; every Englishman should learn Irish history from a native Irishman standing on these sea-tossed shores

Sicily – there is over two thousand years of history here with Ancient Greek and Norman remains. The coast is stunning and the interior far more lush than you’d expect. There is also a palpable sense of the mafia’s shadow with a thriving culture of tax-avoidance. And the holiday-maker will see obvious poverty and that is an important reminder of how the world is.

My garden, when everyone else in the family has gone away – having the chance to retreat into your own space is a luxury. I work on my garden so that it is a beautiful place to sit and also a place to potter if I want to empty my mind.

Top 5 tips for writing a debut novel

Plan the plot carefully in advance but do not be afraid to let it develop its own shape during the course of writing.

Imagine the characters as rounded people and never allow them to behave out of character. Instead, rework the mechanics of the plot if necessary.

Draft, re-draft and re-draft again, looking out for the patterns of meaning which you (or your sub-conscious) have laid down and highlight or suppress them as you think appropriate.

Direct speech should be used sparingly; it rarely helps drive the plot forward but should reveal depths of character and motivation.

The ‘Great Literary Equation’: (plot + character + setting) x language = themes. The values of these components may change from genre to genre but this reminds you that what you want to leave the reader with at the end of your book is a fresh perspective on the ideas that the novel explores.

Big thanks to David for joining me today!

Q & A with Pankaj Giri, Author of The Fragile Thread of Hope @_PankajGiri


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK

Release date: October 29, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people–Soham and Fiona.

 

Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.

 

After a difficult childhood, Fiona’s fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.

 

But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.

 

Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?

 

Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?

 

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of familial relationships.

 

Inspirational and heart-wrenchingly intimate, it urges you to wonder–does hope stand a chance in this travesty called life?

Happy Saturday everyone!! This book first caught my eye after I read Jules review and while unfortunately I do not have room in my schedule  to read this anytime soon, I was pleased to be able to interview the author! Enjoy.

Q & A:

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

 

I write whenever I get time, at home or at the office, especially if I am in the process of writing a book. Else, I take a break and enjoy my life.

 

My perfect writing environment would be a silent room with my laptop, a cup of black tea, a box of chocolates, and a good internet connection. Contrary to traditional belief that internet distracts a writer, I need the internet to find perfect synonyms, check if a sentence is grammatically correct, and research facts necessary for my book.

 

 

2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?

 

Frankly speaking, I never even dreamt ofbecoming a writer. In fact, I didn’t even use to read (except for Harry Potter, which I read in my late teens). But after my father passed away four years back, some of my friends suggested me to start reading to divert my mind from the pain. I followed their suggestion, and slowly I fell in love with reading. I also began writing, starting with book reviews. Over the years, having read many books and developed my writing skills by writing several blog posts, I thought of trying my hand at writing a novel. A plot slowly developed in my mind, and soon I started writing. The rest is history.

 

 

3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

 

My favorite writers are Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner is arguably my favorite book), Renita D’Silva (a UK-based, award-nominated, critically acclaimed writer of six bestselling books), Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (award-winning bestselling US-based writer), and J.K.Rowling (can never forget the magical experience which has become a part of my life).

 

 

4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?

 

I have not thought about it yet as I am busy promoting The Fragile Thread of Hope. Once I settle down, I will reflect on my next book.

 

 

5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.

 

More than two years ago, the plot of The Fragile Thread of Hope took birth in my mind. Probably the story was influenced by the books I was reading at that time–the complex brotherly love between Hassan and Amir in The Kite Runner and the beautiful love between Noah and Allie in The Notebook. Those themes stuck with me, so I felt like weaving a story based on love, loss, and family relationships. Gradually, the characters developed in my mind, and scenes began taking shape and haunting me. After a few weeks, the characters began putting pressure on me, as if prodding me to bring them to life on the canvas of my novel. Then, as I finally obliged, The Fragile Thread of Hope was born.

 

(The Notebook is one of my favorite books!!)

6. Preferred method for readers to contact you?

 

Readers can either contact me via mail (pankajgiri.ps@gmail.com) or via social media.

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PankajGiriAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_pankajgiri

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pankajgiri.ps/

 

 

7. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

 

Generally, it takes me around a year to write a book, but editing takes a lot of time thereafter. Overall, I can produce a decently edited book in two years.

 

 

8. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?

 

That has to be Soham. He is my alter ego. Not only do we share pains, but we share many characteristics as well. However, I made him a bit more mentally stronger than me because eventually, it’s the writer’s choice. 🙂

 

 

9. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?

 

I used to work in the software industry in Bangalore, but after my father’s death, I had to relocate to Gangtok, my native place. Now, I work in a government job. But my passion lies in writing, and I devote a majority of my time on it.

 

 

10. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?

 

When Renita D’Silva–a marvellous writer and my literary idol–read my book and said that it is one of her favorite books. Whenever I remember that, I always get a very special feeling.

(Renita is a brilliant writer, what an amazing compliment!)

About the Author:


Pankaj Giri was born and brought up in Gangtok, Sikkim–a picturesque hill station in India. He began his writing career with a book review blog, and now, after several years of honing his writing skills, he has written a novel–The Fragile Thread of Hope, a literary inspirational fiction dealing with love, loss, and family relationships. He is currently working in the government sector in Sikkim. He likes to kill time by listening to progressive metal music and watching cricket.

Q & A with Rebecca Stonehill author of The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale @bexstonehill


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK
Release date: October 29, 2017

Publisher: Sunbird Press

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Blurb:
A compelling page turner of a buried past resurfacing, set against a backdrop of the 1960’s youth culture and war torn Crete.


1967. Handsome but troubled, Jim is almost 18 and he lives and breathes girls, trad jazz, Eel Pie Island and his best friend, Charles. One night, he hears rumours of a community of young people living in caves in Matala, Crete. Determined to escape his odious, bully of a father and repressed mother, Jim hitchhikes through Europe down to Matala. At first, it’s the paradise he dreamt it would be. But as things start to go wrong and his very notion of self unravels, the last thing Jim expects is for this journey of hundreds of miles to set in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he hates most in the world: his father.


Taking in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, the clash of relationships between the WW2 generation and their children, the baby boomers, this is a novel about secrets from the past finally surfacing, the healing of trauma and the power of forgiveness.


A captivating story that will mesmerise fans of Lucinda Riley, Dinah Jefferies and Tracy Rees. 

Hi everyone, I’m so pleased to be the stop on the blog tour for The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale today! I have a wonderful interview with the author to share today. 


Q & A:

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

 

The mornings are always quite fraught with three children (and various animals!) to be fed before the school run, so nothing really starts on the writing front before 9am. Armed with a strong coffee, I sit on the verandah of our wooden cottage in a Nairobi suburb and write myself into the day. I love writing outside, surrounded by trees and birds. It feels like such a privilege.

 

 

2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?

 

I have loved writing for as long as I can remember. As a child, I was far fonder of books than of people and lived in imaginary worlds. I would fill notebooks with snippets of stories, poems and observations about people and places and could often be found in cupboards, under beds and up trees spying on people!

 

3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

 

I read so much that I feel like I am discovering favorite authors all the time! But to name a few of them: Kazuo Ishiguro, Susan Fletcher, Vikram Seth, Henry James and Maya Angelou. As for inspiration, nature has always been my greatest teacher.

 

4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?

 

I am soon to embark on a six-month journey around India with my husband and three children, travelling and home schooling – very exciting! The plan is to have a short break from novel writing during this period and focus on blogging about our experiences.

 

 

5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.

 

I am not a very organised writer, I must confess. But I don’t think there’s a blueprint for how these things ought to develop. People often talk about two (very general) different types of writers, the ‘planners’ and the ‘pansters’ i.e. the fly by the seat of their pants type of people. Well, I am the latter! Stories almost always end up being wildly different from how I envisaged them in the early stages.

 

6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?

 

Iris from The Girl and the Sunbird. As a woman born in 1977, I have no idea what it would be like to not be able to chose to go to school or university or to have a say in one’s husband. Of course for women of a certain period (and, indeed, for many women still today) this was/is the reality, but I feel a deep empathy for Iris which I think allowed me to develop her character effectively. She is strong-willed, intelligent and compassionate, but she is also flawed, as I believe good characters should be.

 

7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?

 

I absolutely love to hear from readers. I can be contacted through my Rebecca Stonehill Books facebook page, through twitter @bexstonehill or via the contact form on my website rebeccastonehill.com

 

8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

 

This is a hard question to answer as they have all been very different! But, if I have few interruptions, I need about a year to research and write a decent first draft of a book.

 

 

9. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?

 

I have always loved the idea of being a photographer. Being behind a camera and taking photos has been a great pleasure of mine for a long time. Perhaps one day I can combine this passion with my writing.

 

 

 

10. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?

 

I’m a bit of a softie at heart, so when people tell me they have been moved to tears by my work, I feel immensely gratified. When I write, I pour my heart and soul into the stories and have been known to be sitting at the screen myself sobbing! I purposely don’t choose easy topics to write about, and sometimes I find the novel’s development painful, yet necessary. So if I have helped another person to really feel something through my work, I have achieved what I set out to do.

 

 

About the Author:

 

Rebecca Stonehill is from London but has lived in Nairobi since 2013 where her husband’s job as Water and Sanitation Engineer took them with their three children. She has written three novels, The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale, being the most recent and also set up Magic Pencil, an initiative to provide greater access to creative writing for young people.

 

Rebecca can be contacted through her website rebeccastonehill.com, on twitter @bexstonehill or via her facebook page Rebecca Stonehill Books.

You can also sign up for her newsletter here.

 As an added bonus I have a sneak peek at the book as well!

 

 

Opening section of the novel:

 

PART ONE

 

Chapter One

Twickenham, 1967

 

When I open my cupboard doors on Saturday morning, it’s immediately clear that all my trousers have disappeared.

​’Bloody hell Ma, not again,’ I mutter.

I rifle through t-shirts and underwear, pulling out pairs of folded and ironed socks and push splayed fingers through the shirts that hang neatly, accusingly, on their hangers. I blink into the dark of the wardrobe and catch sight of myself in the small mirror, running a hand through my hair. Dark woody brown and long around the ears, far longer than what my father considers respectable. Just yesterday he told me that if I didn’t get my hair cut, he’d pin me into a chair and cut it himself. Treating me, as always, like I’m seven, not bloody well seventeen.

I frown at the poster of The Who and give the wardrobe door a great kick. I can smell toast and bacon, crisp and sweet and my stomach flips, almost battering my resolve. But no, I clench my jaw, I know this trick, I know what this is all about.

Pulling on a pair of underpants and a vest and shirt over my head, I march downstairs where I find Ma at the stove in her pleated apron, breaking eggs into the frying pan, her hair in curlers. She always keeps her hair in curlers for Friday night and the whole of Saturday, the only day of the week she never leaves the house.

​Swivelling on her slippered feet, she smiles brightly.

  ‘Morning, Jimmy!’

‘Ma,’ I say firmly. ‘What have you done with all my trousers?’

She turns back to the stove, but I can see the slight tension in her shoulders.

‘Trousers, dear?’

‘Trousers, Ma,’ I say slowly. ‘Where are they?’

​She leans over to the windowsill and switches on the radio, the staid voice of a BBC reporter booming out.

​’…we can expect the temperature to reach a pleasant seventy degrees today, if not a little more. Perhaps summer has finally…’

I flip the dial off.

‘Ma!’ I say sharply. ‘Will you stop playing games and talk to me!’

​She turns to face me. I can make out a faint smudge of yesterday’s mascara under one eye and wisps of her dyed brown hair escaping from her curlers and I suddenly feel deeply irritated by her. 

‘What was it you wanted to talk about?’

‘You know very well what. It’s Saturday. I need to put some trousers on and go out, but you’ve hidden them again.’

‘They’re all in the wash, dear,’ she says blankly.

I throw my hands up in the air in exasperation as I turn from Ma and sink into a chair at the table.

‘Won’t you have some bacon?’

‘Why, Ma? Why are you trying to stop me going out again?’

 She purses her lips as she marches over to the sideboard and starts slicing through the loaf of bread with a knife, thick slices crumbling as she attacks it.

‘You know your father doesn’t like you going to that island.’

‘I forgot,’ I mutter, ‘Father doesn’t like it when I actually enjoy myself. Anyway, who says I’m going to the island?’

Ma turns, breadknife in hand and points it at me.

‘Well, aren’t you? Tell me you’re not, then.’

‘I’m eighteen, Ma, I’m an adult now.’

‘Seventeen.’

‘Practically eighteen. And it’s not what you think it is, it’s just a bit of music and dancing. All very…quiet really.’

She snorts as she finishes cutting the bread and thrusts it into the toaster.

‘Actually, I will have some of that bacon, it smells damn good.’

‘Language,’ Ma retorts, but her features soften as she fetches a plate and cutlery.

‘Honestly, Ma,’ I continue, ‘you should come with me some time, so you can see for yourself that it’s all very tame.’

​I have absolutely no intention of my mother coming to the island with me; I know very well that all her worst fears would be founded, but I’m also aware that my invitation may make my jaunts over there seem more innocent. Ma sighs deeply as she sits at the table opposite me and watches me eat.

‘Your father will be furious if he knows you’ve gone,’ she says wearily. 

‘I know,’ I reply. ‘God Ma, this bacon is amazing. The thing is…’ I pause as I chew. Ma gets up to butter the toast. ‘The thing is, that hiding my trousers isn’t going to stop me going. You know that really.’

‘But why? Why do you want to make your father so upset and angry?’

‘I don’t want to make him angry, I’m just living my life. I need to be my own person – ‘

‘When you leave school, then you can be your own person.’

‘You know that won’t make a blind bit of difference. You know that Father will still be on at me the whole time, to do this and be that and join the family business. I’m not the same as him; I’m not him. He’s completely forgotten what it’s like to be young – ’

‘Just do your A levels, love.’ Ma reaches over the table and pats my hand. ‘I’m sure your father will take the pressure off a little after that.’

‘Now that,’ I point my fork at her, ‘is a lie and we both know it.’

​I finish eating and walk to the back door where I pull on my boots.

‘You’re not going out like that – ‘

‘I told you, I have to.’

‘But – ‘

‘Super bacon Ma, thanks ever so much.’ I lean over, peck her on the cheek then snatch my sunglasses up from the table and with that, I slip out of the back door and break into a trot.

 

Huge thanks to Rebecca for joining me today!

Q & A with Joy Norstrom author of Out of Play @norstrom_joy


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: October 27, 2016

Publisher: Crooked Cat

Genre: Chick Lit

Blurb:

Gillian Campbell is out of patience. 


Her husband is choosing his hobby over her. And the hobby in question? Live Action Role-Play, or ‘larp’. Larp involves dressing up as a character (be it medieval knight, banshee or centaur) and participating in imaginary battles for entire weekends. 


Gillian is not impressed. She seeks professional advice and is surprised when her therapist encourages her to try larp. Who knows? It may make you smile. It may make you laugh. It may even improve your sex life. How terrible could it be?


The advice seems super sketch to Gillian, but she decides to don a costume and give it a go. If larp doesn’t work a marital miracle, Gillian will be able to walk away knowing she tried absolutely everything before giving up.


Will going on her own role-play adventure heal Gillian’s marriage, or will the game shed light on everything that is wrong? 

Hey everyone, I hope your weekend is off to a fantastic start! I have an interview with Joy Norstrom to share today.


Q & A
 

Hello Amy! Thank you for hosting me on your Saturday Shout Out. I’m celebrating the one year anniversary of my book baby, Out of Play, and it seems a great time to think about my writing journey. What questions do you have for me?

 

Q: What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

 

A: My typical writing day is a few stolen hours when the kids are in bed or in swim practice or watching a movie. I think that’s a similar reality for writers who are trying to balance day jobs and young families with their creative processes.

 

The big exception are Mondays—my favourite day of the week! I don’t work on Mondays, the kids are at school and so that leaves just me and my lap top…and twitter and facebook and insta. Lol, there are still a lot of distractions but at least it’s quiet. Silence is definitely my preferred writing state. I know. I don’t sound fun at all, do I?

 

I also enjoy a warm beverage or two when I write. Coffee with cream in the morning. Bengal Spice tea in the afternoon. I’m also inspired by nature and like to write by a window with a view.

 

Q: How did you get started writing? Was it something you’ve always loved?

 

A: I’ve always been a storyteller. That’s probably a nice way to say ‘chatty.’ I grew up in a house of readers and most of us happened to be oral storytellers too (picture a group of chatty readers and you’ve got it). I was on my second maternity leave and my mom suggested I should write a children’s book. I was very quick to dismiss the idea. I didn’t think it was possible to get published and I doubted whether anyone would be interested in what I might come up with. And yet the seed was planted. I wasn’t able to shake the idea and I spent most of my thirties working on my writing craft.

 

What I love about storytelling is seeing an emotional reaction and I think that happens when readers (or listeners) feel a connection with the main character. How great is it to know you’ve helped people to feel something powerful? My two favourite reactions are laughter or empathy. Don’t you agree that life is better when there’s humour and a connection to other people’s lived experience?

 

Q: If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?

 

A: Writing is somewhere on the spectrum between ‘hobby’ and ‘career’ for me. It requires more time, energy and skill than an average pastime, and yet it’s not quite an occupation either. I work part-time as a registered social worker in community development. I actually love my job because I am passionate about social inclusion and get to have an integral role in building a more just society. Storytelling is also a powerful tool for building empathy and understanding, and so I find splitting my time between these two roles is a great way to keep my creative and grounded.

 

Q: What’s the best compliment you’ve received about your work?

 

A: When I receive a review where the reader says they both laughed and cried, I know I was able to reach my goal of writing a story that matters.

 

Q: Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

 

A: I’ve been deeply inspired by two Canadian authors:

 

Miriam Toews. Can anyone not recommend Miriam Toews? Her voice is beautiful. She writes a great mix of humour and heartbreak and I basically think she’s amazing. The Flying Troutmans is one of my favourite books. It’s one of those books you keep sneaking back into your room to read, because you’ve got to find out how it ends.

 

Susin Nielsen. If you haven’t heard of her you should look her up. She writes younger YA but doesn’t shy away from tough topics. My ten year old likes her books and so do I. That’s like a (mumble, thirty, mumble) year audience span so quite impressive that Susin can engage such a wide span in audiences. My favourite Susin Nielsen book is The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen but perhaps a better title for a younger reader would be Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mother.

 

Both of these authors successfully weave humour and tragedy into their stories. I find it inspiring because it’s what I want to do with my own writing.

 

Q. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?

 

A. My current project is about a single mom who lives in a small sawmill town. Her son doesn’t fit into the fairly rigid gender norms in their community. With little income (and few choices) she crosses paths with a group of older women who want her to teach them about dating in the twenty-first century.  

 

I’m currently interviewing parents with children who identify outside mainstream gender norms as a way to better understand my character. If you’re reading this and are interested in sharing your experience with me, I would love to hear from you.  

 

Q: Preferred method for readers to contact you?

 

A: It’s great to chat on social media and I can also be contacted via my website.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/norstrom_joy

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joynorstrom/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joy.norstromauthor

Website: http://www.joynorstrom.ca

 

Q & A with Marsha Cornelius author of Up to No Good @marshcornelius


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: December 31, 2016

Genre: Cozy Mystery/Humor

Blurb:

Rachel likes to think she’s inquisitive. Her husband Brian says she’s a snoop. They’ve been married for 15 years, they work together in their home, and she’s approaching the dreaded 40th birthday. This humdrum combination has made their marriage a bit stale.

Maybe that’s why her nosy nature has escalated. She’s gotten it into her head that a house down the road might be used to make adult films. Her clues? The blinds are always drawn, and there are never any garbage cans at the curb. Obviously no one lives in the house. They just use it late at night for porn videos.

As she and Brian look into this mystery, they find that the adrenaline rush of getting caught works as an aphrodisiac as well.

But if her snooping keeps discovering unexpected dirt, it may be the last thing she ever does.

Happy Saturday everyone! I have an interview with Marsha Cornelius to share today, enjoy. 

What does a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

 

 

Have you seen the cartoon called Family Circus, where the little boy is supposed to go out the front door to tell his dad it is time for dinner? But instead, the boy goes out the back door, chases the dog, climbs a tree, jumps in a pile of leaves, and plays tag with his sister before he finally delivers the message to his dad.

That’s my writing day.

 

I’ve often felt I need a seat belt on my desk chair to keep me from wandering around the house looking at dusty tabletops, or staring out at a garden choked with weeds. Let’s not get into the forays to the kitchen in search of snacks.

I used to write on a laptop that was not connected to the Internet so I wouldn’t get distracted by email, Facebook, or Twitter, but it died and I’m back on my PC.

I’ve gotten a bit more disciplined over the years, but there is still very little structure to my day.

 

My ideal writing conditions are silence and solitude. For instance, I cannot listen to music. What if I’m writing a touching love scene and Alanis Morrisette comes on with:

​Every time I scratch my nails

​Down someone else’s back I hope you feel it

Instrumentals are no good either. If I’m listening to Sojourner by Paul McCandless, I can’t very well write about some bloody massacre, now can I?

 

Solitude is a bit more challenging since my husband retired. He knows if he hears me typing, he can’t interrupt. But that doesn’t stop him from wandering into the room, standing in front of the picture window, and sighing from boredom.

And I have a very vocal cat. He’s a lot like a child that needs to tell you something the moment you get on the phone. Only the cat is usually complaining that there isn’t enough food in his dish, or it has gotten stale, or he dove into the bowl with such zeal that half the kibble spilled out onto his placemat. (And all cat owners know that a cat will NOT eat food off the floor.)

 

Tell us about the books you have written.

 

My book list is as random as my writing day because I write in different genres.

 

H10N1 – post-apocalyptic thriller about the aftermath of a deadly global pandemic. Two survivors must work together if they hope to find a safe haven.

 

The Ups and Downs of Being Dead – speculative fiction. A dying man chooses to have his body cryonically-preserved. Now he must ‘wait around’ as a ghost until science figures out how to bring him back.

 

Losing It All – women’s fiction/drama. A homeless man helps a woman and her two small children get off the streets.

 

Habits Kick Back – speculative fiction. It’s the future, and people take pills for everything: Concentration, memory enhancement, stress reduction, libido suppression, weight control. A college girl decides to stop taking them all and finds life much more difficult, but certainly more interesting.

 

A Tale of Moral Corruption – speculative fiction. A reversal of A Handmaid’s Tale. In this book, women run the world and men are in the subservient roles. The men even wear the portable wombs that are growing babies.

 

Up To No Good – cozy mystery/humor. A busybody suspects her neighbors are making porn videos in their home. She decides to investigate, with hilarious results.

 

Who is your favorite character from Up To No Good?

Definitely Rachel. Here’s a big surprise – she’s a lot like me.

I try to mind my own business, honest I do. But then I’m walking in the neighborhood and I see Al and Carol are digging up their driveway and I just have to go snoop to see what’s going on.

Folks around here know I’m a busybody, so whenever they want to know what’s happening, they ask me. (‘Hey, what’s Al doing to his driveway?’) And of course, if anyone has a juicy bit of gossip, they’re always sure to tell me. I’m like a walking neighborhood newsletter.

 

 

Where did you get the idea for Up To No Good?

There actually is a house a few miles from me that looks suspicious. The blinds are always closed. I never see anyone working in the yard, or a hose dragged out, or garbage cans at the curb. I never see a car in the driveway.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Maybe these people aren’t slobs like me. If they use the hose, they put it away. And they don’t have a garage full of junk so they can park their car inside.

I’m not buying it. For years, I’ve speculated that no one really lives in the house. They just use the house at night to make amateur porn videos.

I worked with a woman once who was ‘dating’ a guy. He bought her fancy lingerie and took her back to his house for sex. But while they were going at it, he would groan and make faces like he was posing for a camera. When she broke her leg at work and had to wear a cast, he dropped her like a hot potato.

 

On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

I write a book a year. I’m sure I could do it in less time if I had that seat belt. (Refer to the first question above)

 

What else do you do besides write books?

In the writerly vein, I have organized a monthly literary event called A Novel Idea. I invite six authors to a coffee shop in Canton, Georgia (near where I live.) It’s at night, so guests come to sip wine or coffee, and listen to the writers talk about their work and read a short excerpt. It’s a fun night out, and everyone gets to meet Atlanta’s local authors.

 

I also teach exercise classes to senior citizens in a fitness program called Silver Sneakers. I started attending classes after my first hip replacement about three years ago. Now I teach the hour-long sessions four times a week. It’s great to get paid for doing what my physical therapist told me to do.

 

How can people reach you?

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMarshaCornelius/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/marshacornelius

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Website – http://mrcornelius.com


 

Up To No Good is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Up-No-Good-Marsha-Cornelius-ebook/dp/B01N1RNHIR

Q & A with Author Tessa Robertson @authoringtessa


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: September 20, 2017

Publisher: Crooked Cat Books

Genre: Thriller 

Blurb: 

What would you do if the mystery to your mother’s death lay with your employer? 


After years of unanswered questions, Mishka Vald sets out to uncover the skhodka’s involvement in her past. What she doesn’t expect is to join forces with men who push her to become a double-agent and confirm her future. While hunting down leads, the ruthless assassin realizes a life in the shadows is the only way for her to protect those she loves.   


For Mishka, forbidden love is worth the pain when it comes to Eddie Harper, a military man turned cop. Her affection waivers when duty comes first and she joins forces with an elite Russian soldier, Alexei Petrovich. With a blackmailer threatening her school love, she seeks refuge with a fellow assassin, Nickolas Volkov. And when pushed too far, she’s ushered to a secure location…and straight into the arms of mysterious handyman, Dylan Kain. As the pieces fall into place, their mangled order reveals each man’s true intention. Whose deceit can she accept and whose will obliterate her? 


All roads lead back to the woman she thought dead—her mother. Now, as weddings are crashed and alliances tested, Mishka uncovers a deadly game and the players involved. Her heart, once unable to budge, is thrust into action, but which man can keep her soul intact?

Happy Saturday everyone! I have a fabulous interview with Author Tessa Robertson to share today. 
1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment. 

For me, writing happens when I least suspect it. Sometimes, it’s while I’m at my day job (shh don’t tell) and other times it’s right before I go to bed at night. My perfect environment is a light rainstorm outside while I sit on my favorite chaise by the window. Of course, writing wouldn’t be complete without my two cats and two dogs on my lap somehow.


2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved? 

I’ve always been interested in creating stories ever since I was a child. As the youngest child for six years, it wasn’t uncommon for me to play outside by myself with imaginary characters and go on great adventures. When I was seventeen, I wrote my first full length novel. I didn’t get serious about writing as a profession until a few years ago. 


3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations? 

I absolutely love Jane Austen’s works. There’s so much spirit in her works that led me to strive to write something memorable. I also love Maya Banks and her Scottish series because who doesn’t love a man in a kilt?


4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects? 

I am in the process of writing my sequel to Assassin By Day. I hope to have it completed and to the publisher by fall. I also have another book I’d like to bring to Crooked Cat, but it needs editing. Lots and lots of it.


5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process. 

Typically, I start to write what I feel. At times, the characters come from personal experience or the result of people watching. I try to include characteristics different from your normal characters so they’re more like life. Sometimes, that means pushing the envelope. For Assassin By Day, I didn’t plot much until I went back through to edit. The plot charts helped me tie the plots and relationships together and keep tabs on what I wanted the next few books to look like. 


6. Favorite character from one of your own novels? 

Definitely Mishka Vald. She’s a kickass assassin who’s been through hell, but somehow still finds room in her heart to love. 


7. Preferred method for readers to contact you? 

I’m very active on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, so I would go there first. I also have a website readers can subscribe to get news about upcoming events and my blog insights. https://authortessarobertson.wordpress.com/


8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book? 

Assassin By Day took about two months to write, but much longer to edit since I changed quite a few things along the way. On average, from pen to final product, I’d estimate a good 4-5 months if I’m just working on that project. That doesn’t happen too often, though.


10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?

 I’m going to go with Mishka again. I created her to be a combination of myself and I can relate to a few situations she goes through in the book. I don’t want to give away too many details, but she’s my spirit animal in many ways. 


11. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing? 

Well, right now I’m only writing part-time. I’d love to be full-time someday. When I’m not writing, I work as a paralegal at a law firm. Criminal cases are my favorite. 


12. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work? 

The best compliment thus far is ‘I couldn’t put it down and lost sleep to finish the book’. 

Huge thanks to Tessa for joining me today! ❤️

Q & A with Ed Duncan, author of Pigeon Blood Red @pigeonbloodred


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: February 25, 2016

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 

Blurb:

For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.


As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves? 

Hey everyone! I hope y’all are having a wonderful weekend. I have a Q & A with Ed Duncan to share today, enjoy!

Q & A

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

Since I’m retired, I really don’t have a typical writing day. I just came back from a writing conference, and one of the key note speakers, Lisa Scottoline, said that she writes, I believe, 2 to 3,000 words a day without fail. I’ve heard a number of other writers say they spend a certain number of hours per day in front of the keyboard or that they write a minimum number of words per day, and sometimes I feel guilty about not having a set routine that I follow day in and day out. However, that would make writing feel like too much of a job (and Lisa and the other writers referred to above do indeed treat writing as a job — which they enjoy), and having retired after 37 years of practicing law, often under highly pressurized circumstances, having another “job,” even one more relaxing than my last one, is the last thing I need. 

 

In short, I only write when the muse arrives, and that can be any time except bright and early in the morning since I’m an insomniac and don’t go to bed until the wee hours of the morning. When I was practicing law, I had to force myself to get up in the morning. Now I stay up until I’m sleepy. When the muse does arrive, the perfect writing environment for me is the upstairs room where I write, surrounded by silence, save for the sounds of me typing on the keyboard of the computer.


 


2. How did you get started writing? Was it something you’ve always loved?

 


I’ve enjoyed writing since English composition days in high school. My teachers often complimented me on my writing, and one of them wrote on a term paper of mine that my writing was seldom, if ever, equaled among her students. I considered that to be the ultimate compliment, and it caused me to think that I might have the talent to become a writer some day. Alas, I became a lawyer instead and I did a great deal of writing in that career. For instance, in 2008 I wrote a legal treatise for lawyers and judges called Ohio Insurance Coverage and updated it annually through 2012. But what I really wanted to do was write fiction and I retired to do just that (and also to travel.)

3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

Some of my favorite writers in my genre (crime) are Dashiell Hammett, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Walter Moseley, and Scott Turow. Other favorites are Ernest Hemingway, James Jones, Somerset Maugham, Richard Wright, Ken Follett, Theodore Dreiser, Bruce Catton, and Michael Shaara. They are a diverse group but, of course, what they all have in common is their command of the English language.

4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?

Pigeon-Blood Red is the first installment in a trilogy. I just finished the second, which will be called The Last Straw. It reunites the main characters from the first book. Here is the log line: “When a teen-age girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history join forces to protect her from a hit man with an agenda of his own.” The third book in the trilogy is tentatively entitled Rico Stays.

 5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.

The two main characters in my trilogy — Paul, a lawyer, and Rico, an enforcer/hit man — come from different sides of the tracks. Consequently, their paths would not normally intersect. Therefore, I had to dream up realistic fact patterns that would bring them together in the context of a crime that impacted both of them. So that required a fair amount of brainstorming. I have come up with the ingredients for each book in the trilogy and after I finish the third, I may decide whether to add one or more books.

6. Favorite character from Pigeon-Blood Red?

Rico is my favorite character. I suspect he will be readers’ favorite as well. A “killer with a conscience,” he is filled with contradictions, which makes for a complex character. He has no qualms about killing men but he never kills children and he kills women only reluctantly and when they richly deserve it. He justifies killing at all on grounds that his victims all “had it coming,” but he knows he cannot always be certain of that. He is loyal to a fault and if you do him a favor, he’ll never forget it, even if you want him to. His girlfriend is a prostitute but that doesn’t bother him because her job doesn’t define her. He is a man of few words and he can be distant and brooding, but he also has a quick, dark sense of humor. In sum, you may question how he makes his living, but if you are in trouble, you want him on your side.

7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?

Readers can check out my author page on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/edduncan), and they can visit my web page (www.eduncan.net). I’m also on Facebook (www.fb.com/ed.duncan 1210), Twitter ((@pigeonbloodred), and Pinterest.

8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

That’s difficult to answer because I don’t maintain a strict writing schedule. So it depends on how much time I happen to be writing per day when I’m writing at all. I worked on Pigeon-Blood Red for years because I wrote only at night after work and on weekends, and sometimes I set it aside for months on end. By contrast, I think I was able to finish The Last Straw in about 9 months.

9. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?


 


I relate to Paul the most. He is a greatly exaggerated version of my younger self, only he is taller, smarter, better looking, more resourceful, etc. In fact, Paul was meant to be the main focus of the novel, but Rico fought me at every turn and ultimately took over the narrative by dent of his strong personality.


 


10. If writing wasn’t your career, what would you be doing?


 


I would be traveling to every corner of the world. Actually, I’m doing quite a bit of that now. I’ll be leaving for China, Hong Kong, and Japan in late September, and I visited South Africa and Cuba last year. Assuming I had to earn a living, though, I would probably still be a lawyer.


 


11. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?


 


I’ll quote it:  


 


“Duncan is definitely an author to keep an eye on. He can do humour and he can do heartbreak. This was more than just a crime thriller [sic] it was also about love, marriage and second chances. Pigeon-Blood Red is a superb crime thriller debut and I’m looking forward to the next book in this trilogy.”


 


That was high praise indeed and I hope every novel in the trilogy lives up to it.

Huge thanks to Ed for joining me today and to Kelsey at Book Publicity Services for arranging this!