Q & A with William Myers, A Killer’s Alibi @williammyersjr

It’s publication day for one of my recent favorite reads, A Killer’s Alibi and I have a Q & A with the author himself to share. First, here’s some more information about the book, this one comes highly recommended by me!

Blurb:

For attorney Mick McFarland, the evidence is damning. And so are the family secrets in this twisty legal thriller from the Amazon Charts bestselling author of A Criminal Defense.

When crime lord Jimmy Nunzio is caught, knife in hand, over the body of his daughter’s lover and his own archenemy, he turns to Mick McFarland to take up his defense. Usually the courtroom puppeteer, McFarland quickly finds himself at the end of Nunzio’s strings. Struggling to find grounds for a not-guilty verdict on behalf of a well-known killer, Mick is hamstrung by Nunzio’s refusal to tell him what really happened.

On the other side of the law, Mick’s wife, Piper, is working to free Darlene Dowd, a young woman sentenced to life in prison for her abusive father’s violent death. But the jury that convicted Darlene heard only part of the truth, and Piper will do anything to reveal the rest and prove Darlene’s innocence.

As Mick finds himself in the middle of a mob war, Piper delves deeper into Darlene’s past. Both will discover dark secrets that link these fathers and daughters—some that protect, some that destroy, and some that can’t stay hidden forever. No matter the risk.

Q & A:

Share the first sentence of the book. How did you come up with it? What is its significance?
“Eight are with him at the table.” This is the first sentence of the Prologue and I wanted it to have some punch. I also wanted it to feel a little ominous; although the scene begins with jubilance and bonhomie, it ends very darkly. It is also a pivotal point in the life in one of the books antagonists, Philly crime lord Jimmy Nunzio.

How did you come up with characters’ names and/or the title of the book?
A good question. For main characters, like Mick McFarland, Piper McFarland (his wife) and Tommy McFarland (Mick’s brother), I played around with the names a lot and settled on the ones I chose once they “felt” right. With Mick and Tommy I wanted solid, traditional names. Piper has a little more whimsy to her, though, as a character, she becomes a stronger person with each new book. I chose “Christina” Nunzio’s name because I like irony (one you read the book, you’ll know what I mean).

Q & A with Karin Slaughter, Pieces of Her @fictionpubteam @SlaughterKarin

I’m thrilled today to be the stop on the blog tour for the Queen of Crime aka one of my all time favorite authors aka Karin Slaughter!! If you missed my review of Pieces of Her you can find it here. I have a fantastic Q & A to share today, but first here’s some more information about the book.

Blurb:

Andrea Oliver is celebrating her birthday over lunch with her mother, Laura, when they fi nd themselves in the middle of a deadly shooting.  Terrified, Andy is frozen. But Laura – calm, cool and collected – jumps into action and stops the killer in his tracks. No one can understand how a quiet, middle-aged speech pathologist could possibly have the knowledge or ability to stop a shooter on the rampage.  The fall out and widespread media coverage quickly unravels the carefully curated life Laura has built for herself and her daughter. And Andy discovers that the person who she thought she knew best in the world is a total stranger. The bigger problem though is that someone wants them both dead. As two intersecting timelines – 1986 and the present – gradually converge, Pieces of Her begs the question: can you ever truly escape your past?

Q & A:

Where do you find inspiration for your books?

Most of the time I have no idea. I only know in one book, PRETTY GIRLS, I had a dream. I’d slipped a disc in my back. I’ve never smoked a cigarette or taken any kind of drugs—I don’t even drink—and I was taking a narcotic for my back, and it gave me these insane dreams. I woke up, and I wrote down what I had dreamt, and it was the opening for PRETTY GIRLS. Literally the first 100 pages. And I was already working on a different book, what eventually became THE GOOD DAUGHTER and I called my editor Kate Elton, and said I have an idea for this book and that’s the one I want to write instead. She said, “write the book you want to write. Just please do it quickly.” And that’s PRETTY GIRLS. But really I don’t know. Sometimes the first chapter comes to me in bits and pieces, and I have my little pad in the shower I write things down on. One of the Will Trent books, the entire opening is in my shower pad right now.

What kind of research do you do for a book, and how much do you research before you start writing?

I research all the sex myself. It depends on the book. For PIECES OF HER, there wasn’t a hell of a lot. And after doing this a long time, I have a lot of knowledge of things the police do, or how investigations work, or clues or things like that that are in my head just from working on previous novels. With the GOOD DAUGHTER, that opening—I talked to Georgian Bureau Investigation Agents who were at school shootings. I did a drill with all the agents at the GBI, where they took over an abandoned school and simulated a shooter. Each agent had to go through and find the bad guy. I was pretty conversant with that, but I wanted to talk about what an investigation would look like, because there’s always things that surprise me that people who are on the other side of law enforcement never think about, like the fact that—I talk about this in the GOOD DAUGHTER—everybody shows up. They could be ATF, they could be training canines for the DEA, they all show up. They’re all there to help. And no one says where’s the jurisdiction, where’s the money coming from, or whatever.  It’s just “tell us what to do” when a large scale tragedy happens. I love those kinds of details. With PIECES OF HER, I talk about how even if you’re in Witness Protection, you might still go to prison. And just from a practical standpoint, Andy’s driving. Andy’s figuring out the mileage. That was hard for me because I’m not good at that sort of thing. I’m the kind of person who’s told to get on a train—I was in Rotterdam, told to get on a train to Antwerp, and I ended up in Germany. So, I’m not very good with directions at all. I just had to knuckle down with all that, and think about how many days it would take and what it would feel like. Because I’ve been on trips like that, and I wanted to describe them in a way that made sense. I’ve done trips like that in Europe, and it’s not as big as America. Taking a detail, like you could put all of England in Michigan and it wouldn’t touch the sides, that kind of puts it in scale for people. But just the grueling hours and hours of being trapping in a car, and what that would look like on the interstate, I know intimately from long road trips. I wanted to capture that with Andy.

Do you have secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes. There are secrets. I have secrets that no one has ever found. I think maybe it plays into being the youngest of three, because I’d always have these secrets and then I’d drop truth bombs at the most inappropriate times. That was just my way of being the Erin Brockovich of my family.

What has been your hardest scene to write?

That was probably ending Grant Country. I was sobbing like a baby. It was really hard to write. It was really scary, because I thought, I could just write Grant County books until I’m 80, and have a nice living, and be comfortable, but that’s not what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a writer, and really challenge myself, and I wanted it to be about the work. I want each book to be as good as the last one, if not better. That’s always my goal, to top myself. That’s one of the reasons why I wrote PIECES OF HER, and it’s such a different novel. It was such a big leap for me creatively to write THE GOOD DAUGHTER, and I had a journalist in Holland say to me—he tossed the book on the table and said “How are you going to top this?”  I have known him for years, but I thought, “Are you kidding me?” And I decided, you top this by writing a completely different book, that’s fun, that full of important things, and you just keep doing what you’ve been doing. And I always think, for some people, well it’s not that hard to by a hardcover book, but for some people it’s a stretch. And I always remember, when I was a college student, and I would save up money for a hardcover from my favorite author, and it would end up being bad, and I would feel cheated. So I’m always aware of how much minimum wage is, and how many hours of a person’s life it takes to read a book. And I never want to be in a position where I’m not doing everything I can to make sure a person likes that book. I mean, I can’t guarantee they’ll love it, but I can guarantee I’ll work as hard as I can to write the best book I can, because that’s why I’m doing this.

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

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! 

Blog Tour: The Man Upstairs by Mark Fowler @MFowlerAuthor


Goodreads|Amazon UK|Amazon UK
Release date: September 29, 2015

Genre: Crime Fiction

Blurb: 

Frank Miller, hero of the best-selling mystery novels written by The Man Upstairs, works the weird streets of Chapeltown as a private detective. During the legendary case of the Black Widow everything changed when Frank became aware of his fictional existence. Proclaimed at the time as a work of genius, Frank wonders if it was the first sign that The Man Upstairs was sick. This latest case, involving the death of a care worker, and coinciding with the appointment of Chapeltown’s first elected mayor, has Frank baffled. The Man Upstairs appears to be losing the plot, giving the womanising Frank a steady girlfriend, Marge, who warns him that to survive he must change from the tired cliche that he has become. As the case darkens Frank recognises the depth of his creator’s sickness. His days are numbered as clearly as the pages in the books in which he features. The looming battle with the Mayor of Chapeltown is nothing less than the battle to save himself, Marge, the series – and the mind of The Man Upstairs. The Man Upstairs is plotting to kill Frank Miller and take Chapeltown to hell.” 

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Man Upstairs, I have a Q & A with the author to share today.


Q & A

Hi, I’m Mark L. Fowler, author of three published novels. Coffin Maker was published in 2014. The Man Upstairs followed in 2015, and Silver was published by Bloodhound Books in 2016. My latest book, Red Is The Colour, is due to be published, again by Bloodhound Books, in July 2017.

WHAT OR WHO WAS YOUR FIRST INSPIRATION TO PICK UP A PEN AND WRITE? WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR CURRENT INSPIRATION?

I’m not sure I can trace that initial inspiration to any one author. As a child, I used to love reading Enid Blyton, and the Pan Horror series. Then I discovered the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Lawrence Block, Minnette Walters, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ambrose Bierce and so many others. I tend to draw inspiration from all over the place, from fiction and non-fiction, TV, film and real life. Once the antennae is tuned in, I find, there is inspiration to be found everywhere.

WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE YOUR PARTICULAR WRITING GENRE. HAVE YOU WRITTEN OR THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING IN ANY OTHER?

I began writing short stories, and I was able to experiment with a number of my favourite genres, sometimes mixing them to create particular effects. I had a restless drive to explore what lay out on the borderlands. I write in a few genres, ones that I enjoy reading in. As I love reading crime and mystery novels, psychological thrillers, gothic fantasy/horror I tend to write mainly in those genres. Red Is The Colour is my first out and out crime novel, while Coffin Maker was gothic horror/fantasy. With The Man Upstairs and Silver I mixed genres. The Man Upstairs was an opportunity to use a hardboiled detective in a fantastic context, and it was so much fun to write. The cynical wit of the world-weary pulp-fiction hero seemed perfect for an existential crisis.

HOW DO YOU LIKE TO CONDUCT YOUR WRITING? IS THERE A SET ROUTINE YOU FOLLOW?

If I possibly can I like to write most days, and I generally feel happiest when I have a project on the go. I enjoy that sense of momentum, and having something to get my teeth into. There’s nothing worse than a blank page. Having said that, a blank page can also be a challenge. I often start a new project with a What If? scenario that grabs me and gets the juices flowing.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE YOUR COVERS? WHERE DO YOU START AND HOW DO YOU COME TO THE FINAL DECISION? DO YOU HAVE A FINAL SAY?

With Silver and Red Is The Colour, Bloodhound Books designed the covers, though they consulted with me in the process. I chose the covers for Coffin Maker and The Man Upstairs, and spent quite a long time searching for just the right images. I was particularly pleased with the cover of The Man Upstairs.

ARE YOUR CHARACTERS, GOOD OR BAD, BASED ON ANYONE YOU KNOW?

There are a few instances where I have been inspired by someone I know, but I am always very careful to create my own characters and not lift them wholesale from real life. Occasionally there may be a character inspired by more than one person, and I may take a bit from here, a bit from there. Frank Miller, the hero of The Man Upstairs, was based on the hardboiled detective heroes of American Noir. You are unlikely to come across anyone quite like him, but at the same time you are bound to recognize him too.

IS THERE ONE PIECE OF WRITING YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF AND WHY?

I’m proud of all of my books. They’ve all involved a lot of hard work, but also a great deal of fun and satisfaction. Doing what I love best and telling stories. Because Coffin Maker was my first book, it will always hold a special place in my heart. A lot of people like that book and it is impossible to pigeonhole. But The Man Upstairs is special in a different way. Sometimes I feel like I could spend the rest of my life writing about Frank Miller.

AND FOR A BIT OF FUN…..

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK FROM CHILDHOOD? WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK AT THE MOMENT?

I recently rediscovered Enid Blyton’s The Mystery That Never Was. I loved that book as a child. Possibly my favourite book at the moment is Pop 1280 by Jim Thompson.

IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY 4 AUTHORS (ALIVE OR DEAD) AT A DINNER PARTY WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson and Thomas Harris. They all have such fantastic imaginations and they all know how to tell a story. I think it could be a very long dinner party, and I hope that during the evening we could all gather around a roaring fire to hear some ghost stories.

QUICK FIRE ROUND……


Favourite colour- Red is the Colour at the moment.

Favourite food- A good roast or a stir fry.

Favourite film- Casablanca.

Favourite song – Kentucky Avenue, Tom Waits.

Real ale or wine? Wine.

Beans or peas? Peas.

Sauce-Red or brown?- Red.

Kindle or paperback?- I prefer a book for non-fiction, particularly reference books, but for novels I really don’t mind.

Chocolate-Milk or Dark?- Dark.

Tea or coffee? Tea in, coffee out.

Coke or pepsi?- Don’t care.

Tapes/C.D’s/Vinyl?- CDs – I never play my vinyl these days, sadly. I keep meaning to though.

Marmite-Love it or hate it? Hate it.

 Huge thanks to the author for joining me today! 

About the Author: 


Mark L. Fowler is the author of the novels Coffin Maker, The Man Upstairs, Silver, and Red Is The Colour, and more than a hundred short stories. His particular interests are in crime and mystery, psychological thrillers and gothic/horror fiction.


His first published novel, Coffin Maker, is a gothic tale set between our world and the Kingdom of Death. In the Kingdom the Coffin Maker lives a solitary existence, and every coffin he completes signals the end of a life in our world. One day he discovers that he is to be sent two apprentices, amid rumours that the devil is arriving on Earth.


Mark’s second novel, The Man Upstairs, features the hard-boiled detective, Frank Miller, who works the weird streets of Chapeltown. Having discovered that he is in fact the hero of twenty successful mystery novels, authored by The Man Upstairs, Frank has reasons to fear that this latest case might be his last.


In 2016, Silver, a dark and disturbing psychological thriller was published by Bloodhound Books. When a famous romance novelist dies in mysterious circumstances, she leaves behind an unfinished manuscript, Silver. This dark and uncharacteristic work has become the Holy Grail of the publishing world, but the dead writer’s family have their reasons for refusing to allow publication.


Red Is The Colour is Mark’s latest book, a crime mystery featuring two police detectives based in Staffordshire. The case involves the grim discovery of the corpse of a schoolboy who went missing thirty years earlier. Red Is The Colour is the first in a series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills, and will be published in July 2017 by Bloodhound Books.


The author contributed a short story, Out of Retirement, to the best-selling crime and horror collection, Dark Minds. Featuring many well-known writers, all proceeds from the sales of Dark Minds go to charity.


A graduate in philosophy from Leicester University, Mark lives in Staffordshire, and is currently writing a follow up to Red Is The Colour. When he isn’t writing he enjoys time with family and friends, watching TV and films, playing guitar/piano and going for long walks.

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