Blog Tour: In The Dark by Andreas Pfluger

Today I’m on the blog tour for In The Dark by Andreas Pfluger, published by Head of Zeus. For the tour I have a Q&A with the author himself to talk about his new novel and all things writing. As always please check out all the other stops on this tour.

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The Blurb:

She lost her sight, but she can still see the truth… Jenny Aaron was once part of an elite police unit tracking Germany’s most dangerous criminals. She was the best. Until it all went wrong. A disastrous mission saw her abandon a wounded colleague and then lose her sight forever. Now, five years later, she has learnt to navigate a darkened world. But she’s still haunted by her betrayal. Why did she run? Then she receives a call from the unit. They need her back. A prison psychologist has been brutally murdered. And the killer will only speak to one person…

Welcome to the CKT blog, Andreas

To start off with, could you tell us about your new novel In The Dark?

It’s about Jenny Aaron. She is a very skilled lady – physical and intellectual – and belongs to a German special police unit called “the Department”, where she is the only woman under forty men. The story starts in Barcelona, where Aaron loses her eyesight in a shooting. She fight  back to life and five years later she comes to Berlin for the first time after going  blind. A prisoner is accused of having killed a woman in jail. And he only wants to talk to one person: Jenny Aaron.

Your main protagonist has lost her sight but still needs to track down a serial killer. Did you find it easy to write from her point of view or did you find this a challenge?

The main story isn’t about the hunt for a serial killer. This man is only the reason why she is returning to Berlin. IN THE DARK is about another duel: between Aaron and the men who shot that bullet into her head – her nemeses.

No, it was not easy to create a book like this. It was the biggest challenge of my artistic life. To write a novel from the point of view of a blind person means the same as if asking somebody who is blind by birth to write a book from the point of view of a seeing person. I didn’t know that when I started but I had to learn it.

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Your novel has such an interesting concept, especially with your main character. How did you come up with the idea for your new novel?

I was reading a biography of Jacques Lusseyran, a French philosopher who went blind by the age of nine in 1930. When the Nazis occupied France he became the head of a resistance cell in Paris. He talked to every new candidate for the cell in confidence. It was risky because they never knew if some Nazi agent was among them. But Lusseyran’s people had great trust in him and said: “Let’s wait till the blind man has seen him. This was the big bang of my novel: A blind police woman who was able to distinguish the truth from the lie in a way only a blind person could.

How did you get into writing, both as a scriptwriter and as a published author? Have you always wanted to write?

I wanted to become a writer as long as I can remember. When I was eight I wrote little stories and sold them to my family for half a Deutschmark. You see I always had a strong feeling for the economic side of the business. And I never saw myself a screenwriter. I am a storyteller, it doesn’t matter if it’s a film or a novel.

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, do you plot your story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Do you have a different writing process for your novel writing compared to your scriptwriting?

When I write for film I always develop a plan, a kind of a roadmap, a treatment with a beginning, a middle and an end. A screenplay has a lot to do with mathematics. You have to follow rules. Nobody has invented it anew in the last eighty years. While writing a novel you are much more free in your storytelling. Not even because you don’t have to think about a budget, but mainly because you make up your rules yourselves. I start with a very vague idea and let my figures tell their stories. More or less I’m only their chronographer. All the time I get surprised by them. Sometimes they do things that I don’t understand or do not approve. But it’s their lives not mine.

Are you working on anything at the moment, if so could you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

The books about Jenny Aaron are a trilogy. The second part came out in Germany in the beginning of October. It takes place in Sweden, Berlin, Rome, Marrakesh and Avignon and, like IN THE DARK, is a story about revenge. At the end of the year I’ll start to write the third book with my blind heroine. To be true – I still don’t know what will happen. But as I said: That’s the way I write novels. It’s always an adventure and a journey in an unknown land.

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And finally, just for fun, if you could have a dinner party for three select guests, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Raymond Chandler, my favourite crime writer.

Sengo Muramasa, the best Japanese swordsmith (because Jenny Aaron follows the Bushido, the codex of the samurai.)

Winston Churchill, the politician I most admire.

Thank you so much, Andreas for taking the time to answer my questions for my blog.

About the Author: Andreas Pflüger is a German screenwriter and author. He has written a number of episodes of the hugely popular German police procedural Tatort. In the Dark is published in eight languages.

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Blog Tour: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

Today, I’m delighted to host the next stop on the Anything You Do Say blog tour, written by Gillian McAllister and published by Penguin Random House Publishers. As part of the tour I have a fab Q&A with the author herself.

First up is the blurb:

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor. 

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

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Welcome to the CKT blog, Gillian.

To start off with, could you tell us about your new novel Anything You Do Say?

Of course. Anything You Do Say is about a woman, Joanna, who receives some unwanted attention in a bar late one night. She leaves, and is sure the man has followed her. As he comes towards her, she lashes out, pushing him down a flight of concrete steps. He lies motionless at the bottom. At this point, two things happen: 1. She realises it wasn’t him 2. The narrative splits, Sliding Doors style, into two strands. In Reveal, Joanna calls 999, confesses, and is charged. In Conceal, she leaves the scene and goes on the run.

How did you come up with the idea for it? It is such a brilliant concept, I’m sure we all wish we thought of it!

Thank you – that’s very kind! I had been toying with the idea of writing a Sliding Doors style novel for months, but I wanted to do something original with it. I am a crime writer, so, one night, as I was taking the bins out (glamorous, I know), I thought: I wonder what a crime slant on Sliding Doors would look like?  And then, that night, I woke at 2.29am and thought: the decision over whether to hand yourself in. That’s honestly how it was born. Strange, I know.

You chose to tell the narrative from two different parallel stories, based on different decisions your main protagonist chooses. Which one did you enjoy writing the most?

I think I preferred writing Reveal, where Joanna hands herself in. It is the more ‘legal’ storyline and the structure of the justice system is a helpful plotting device: there’s police custody, a bail hearing, and then evidence gathering, witness interviewing, and a trial.

I found Conceal much harder. Partly because it was about unintended consequences of actions – which could go anywhere – and partly because it was hard to create tension: what Joanna was most afraid of (being found out) was already happening in Reveal. I re-wrote the Conceal strand three times as a result. Eventually, it came to me: she had to make it much, much worse for herself.

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, do you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?

I’m a big plotter. I don’t think I could write psychological thrillers without plotting. I open Microsoft excel, split it into forty boxes, and gradually fill them in, which takes weeks. Inevitably, I stray from it, re-write it, re-work parts of it, but I couldn’t be without my trusty outline: it stays open on my computer for the entire year I am writing the book.

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You also created a regular podcast with Holly Seddon, called The Honest Author’s Podcast (which I love). What was the idea behind this and how did it come about?

What an interesting question! We do have a podcast. We met for the first time at the Killer Women festival in London and became firm friends. I floated the idea of wanting to start a podcast and Holly replied enthusiastically. We decided to give it a go. We had heard of lots of podcasts about writing in general and getting agents but we didn’t know so many about what it’s actually like to be an author. It’s almost a year on and still going strong. Plus, she’s become one of my best friends, and I get to chat to her for a few hours every other week – we just so happen to record it!

 What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

  • You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood
  • Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
  • The Second Sister by Claire Kendal
  • Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon. What these novels have in common is a crime heart surrounded by really brilliant characters – they’re all so authentic.

Are you working on anything at the moment? If socan you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

I have just finished my third novel, No Further Questions. It’s about a woman who looks after her sister’s eight-week old for the night. The next morning, she discovers the baby has died in her care. The circumstances look suspicious, and she’s charged with manslaughter.

Oh my – sounds so interesting, I’ll be looking out for that one! And finally, do you know which decision you would’ve gone for? Would you have run or would you have told?

Oh, definitely, absolutely Reveal. I’m a lawyer!

Thank you Gillian for letting me grill you, it’s been a lot of fun!

Anything You Do Say isn’t quite out yet, but with the ebook out on 19th October 2017 and the Paperback out 25th January 2018, you can preorder it here.

To find out more about Gillian McAllister follow her on Twitter at @GillianMAuthor.

Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on the tour

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Blog Tour – Good Friday by Lynda La Plante

Today I’m thrilled to be hosting the next stop on Lynda La Plante’s Good Friday blog tour which is published by Bonnier Zaffre Books. As part of the tour I have an interview with the author herself (which I was so excited about). As always don’t forget to check out the other great stops on this tour.

First up the blurb for Good Friday:

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BEFORE PRIME SUSPECT THERE WAS TENNISON.

Every legend has a beginning . . . 

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused – some were not. 

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can’t identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation. 

‘Good Friday’ is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin’s Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It’s the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London’s entire detective force?

Now for the interview with LYNDA LA PLANTE

Welcome to the CKT Blog, Lynda I’m so pleased you have kindly agreed to answer some questions for my blog.

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To start off with, could you tell us a little bit about your new novel Good Friday and how you came up with the idea for it?

This is the third novel in the Tennison series where I’ve taken Jane Tennison back to her early career. The first book ‘Tennison’ was set in 1973 so after ‘Hidden Killers’, the date time line for ‘Good Friday’ was the year after the Belcombe Street siege, so I wanted to incorporate what was then happening in London.

Good Friday is the third novel which explores Jane Tennison’s early years. Did you find it easy to delve into Jane’s past and write from an earlier point in her career? Did you find any of this a challenge?

To begin with I found it quite constricting to realise that there were no mobile phones, no DNA, but then I started to enjoy using the problems – especially the DNA. We have come to expect such fast results and to realise that computers were only just being introduced was another interesting level to work from. So no data finger printing; fingers prints were matched by eye and magnifying glass!

Good Friday is set during the 1970s when the IRA bombings were becoming a regular occurrence in London. As this is a period of time which was within our lifetime, did you do a lot of research for this? And if so, did you find anything you didn’t know about or new and fascinating about this period which you had to include in your novel?

I was a student at this time and so I was very aware of the bombings but I found it odd that I had no clear memory of ever being fearful. I had to do a lot of research into the bomb disposal sections and I found it fascinating and my respect for the Bomb disposal squad has deepened. There is so much scientific expertise now with drones etc – back then it was down to steely nerves and training.

What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

Please read Patricia Cornwall’ s brilliant research and detail in the hunt for Jack the Ripper.

And finally, just for fun, if you could have a dinner party for three select guests, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Marlon Brando because I was such a fan of his. I would also ask if Napoleon was available, simply because he holds such fascination. There is a silent movie about him from the 1920s that is five hours long and every minute is stunning and Abel Ganse a brilliant director. Lastly, I would like Greta Garbo to join us as she is such an iconic beauty. With the other two guests I doubt she would get a word in edgewise, but I would just like to see her in the flesh.

A huge thanks again to Lynda for answering my questions.

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante is out now – published by Bonnier Zaffre price £18.99 hardback

Good Friday can be purchased via Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Lynda La Plante follow her on Twitter at @LaPlanteLynda.

 

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*Blog Tour* Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

Today, I’m thrilled to be hosting the next stop on the Sweet Little Lies blog tour, penned by Caz Frear and published by Bonnier Zaffre Books. As part of the tour I have a fab interview with the author. As always, don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this tour.

Welcome to the CKT blog, Caz. To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel, Sweet Little Lies?

Of course!  Sweet Little Lies tells the story of DC Cat Kinsella, a young detective with the Met, who starts to believe that her father may be involved in the murder she’s investigating to and the disappearance of an Irish teenager in 1998.  It’s very much a police procedural at heart, however it has strong domestic/family noir overtones as Cat struggles to balance her professional responsibilities and her personal allegiances.

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How did you get into writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Like most authors, I’ve been writing my whole life, on and off.  And yes, I always wanted to be a writer, even if I forgot for a few years in my mid-late-twenties when boys, boozing and going out kind of took over J  Things really started to come together though when I was selected to join the Curtis Brown Creative course a few years ago.  This was a huge personal challenge but also a privilege to work alongside other aspiring writers and learn from industry-leading experts.  I finished the course in 2015 with the seeds of Sweet Little Lies sown (although it has changed quite a bit since then) and in 2016, I became aware of the Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller competition.  The rest, as they say, is history….

 You have a killer premise, how did you come up with the idea for Sweet Little Lies and how long did it take you to write?

The honest answer is I don’t know, or can’t remember, how exactly I came up with the idea for Sweet Little Lies.  I always had an image of a young Irish woman travelling to the UK for an abortion and something happening to her, and I also knew I wanted to explore a toxic dad-and-daughter relationship as I think it’s a fascinating dynamic and not as represented in fiction as mothers-and-daughters.  Added to that, I’d always always wanted to write a police procedural (even though I wasn’t sure if I was qualified to!)  so the three things eventually collided, really, and after a lot of false starts, Sweet Little Lies just came to be!

All in all, Sweet Little Lies probably took just under two years to write but that’s taking it right from initial conception until that glorious moment when I tapped The End, and there were certainly periods during that time where life took over and I didn’t write as much. Having the deadline for the R&J competition was a godsend though, as I’d probably only written 30,000 good words by the end of 2015 (plenty of bad words!) but then in 2016 the remaining 80,000 were written in a 7 month deadline frenzy!

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, did you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?

I secretly wish that I could just dive right in and see where I end up but I’m a really plotter.  Sweet Little Lies and Book 2 spent their early lives on an Excel spreadsheet rather than a Word document, and I refer back to it all the way through – it helps me track who’s in which scene, whether the red herrings are evenly paced, whether there’s too much ‘personal’ stuff and not enough procedural etc.  Having been through the Excel stage with Book 2, it now currently exists as a 12,000 word novella – basically I’ve written it in incredibly messy form, I’ve got the gist of everything down and now I need to go back and tell the story properly.  I should add, I don’t always stick to the plan, there were a few twists and turns in Sweet Little Lies that actually surprised me, but I need a detailed plan to work from, at least.  I find it hard to get going if I can’t see where I’ll end up.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everyone and everywhere!  Characters are usually an amalgamation of several people I’ve crossed paths with.  Just overhearing a conversation on a bus can inspire a whole new piece of dialogue.  I think ‘inspiration’ is a slightly mystical term as usually there isn’t one image or anecdote that literally inspires the writing of a 100,000 word novel.  You just start with a character and a dilemma and get writing (or in my case, get plotting!).  Just writing, even badly, fuels inspiration, rather than the other way around.  If you wait for the killer idea or the killer hook to hit, you could be waiting a very long time!

Your book is set in London and Ireland and features a detective. How much research did you do for Sweet Little Lies?

In terms of locations, I know London extremely well as I lived there for fourteen years and I know the west coast of Ireland as well as any regular tourist as my parents both hail from there.  Mulderrin is a fictional town though.  As Ireland only features in very short chapters, I was conscious that I wouldn’t do justice to the beauty of the real towns I know across County Galway and County Mayo and therefore I made a deliberate decision to keep the Irish location pretty vague.

I did a lot of research for the procedural element of the novel.  A hell of a lot!  While I don’t doubt there’s still a few holes and inaccuracies, it was really important for me to get this bit as right as I could.  I’m a huge Lynda La Plante fan and I’m in awe of how authentic her books feel and so I strive towards this, at least.  Luckily in the course of writing the novel, I met the most patient and generous police officer who didn’t mind me fact-checking and putting scenarios to him on a daily basis!  And obviously these days, Google can be your guide – there isn’t a lot you can’t find out online (although I still think you can’t beat actually speaking to someone in the know.)Caz Frear

What would you say are your top five books you would recommend? (I know this is a hard one)

Very hard!  I’ve written a few times about my favourite crime novels but personal favourites are obviously very subjective so instead I’ll try to think of the top five books that I recommend to literally everyone – the crowd-pleasers.

  • The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer’s novel about mental health tells the story of Matt and the guilt he feels over his younger brother’s death when they were younger.  Sounds depressing, right?  It isn’t.  It’s funny, sharp and made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby.  Such clean, unaffected writing too.  I force everyone to read it!
  • What Was Lost, Catherine O Flynn tells the story of Kate Meaney, a 10 year old girl who went missing from a shopping centre in 1984, and the people who try to find out what happened years later.  Again this is a bittersweet tale – a really sad story that still manages to make you laugh and feel warm inside.  In Kate Meaney, O Flynn nails a precocious but also desperately lonely 10 year old.  She’s one of the strongest child narrators I’ve read.
  • Rachel’s Holiday, Marian Keyes had well and truly hit her stride by this 1997 cracker!  Rachel’s holiday is actually a stay in a Betty Ford-style rehab centre and while she’s initially pleased, thinking it’ll be a hotbed of celebrities and relaxing massages, what she finds is something quite different.  This novel is peak Marian Keyes in terms of combining fierce wit and warmth with a serious subject matter – addiction.
  • The Burning Air, Erin Kelly crafts the perfect psychological thriller – atmospheric, taut, beautifully plotted and with a mid-point twist that makes your jaw drop.
  • Lying in Wait, Liz Nugent is a recent addition to the ‘authors I rave about’ list.  Her first novel, ‘Unravelling Oliver’ was good but Lying in Wait is something else.  And what an opening line –My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle but the lying tramp deserved it.’  So deliciously sinister – I absolutely love it.

Just for fun, if you could have a dinner party with three guests (dead or alive) who would they be?

Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac – I just think she’s the coolest woman that’s ever lived – I even named my novel after a Fleetwood Mac song!  Actually that’s a lie, my editor came up with the title but I like to think it’s serendipity…

Arsene Wenger – Because I’m a massive Arsenal fan and I’ve got several bones to pick with him.  At least around the dinner table, we could keep it civilised.

Victoria Wood – She was an absolute genius and makes me cry laughing every time.  I love how she always gave the best lines to other people and she could be known to spend days on one joke, trying to make sure it was as sharp as it could be.  I adore that level of perfectionism.  I actually have a quote from her as my screensaver, it reminds me that even writing geniuses struggle like the rest of us…

I used to find writing scary but now I’ve got used to it once it gets going. I used to find it hard to start. Fear of the blank page. The first thing you write down won’t bear any relation to what’s in your head and that’s always disappointing.”

Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes – work has definitely started on Book 2!  Cat and MIT4 will be back for more fun and games and Cat’s family will still feature.  It’s a completely new story and one that Cat isn’t personally attached to this time (don’t want her becoming a Jessica Fletcher type, even though I’m a big fan J)  However the events of Sweet Little Lies will still cast a shadow over Cat’s life (and potentially her career *she added cryptically)

Finally, what is the rest of 2017 looking like for you?

Busy!  I’m doing lots of promotional stuff for Sweet Little Lies but then I need to roll my sleeves up and properly crack on with Book 2!  As I mentioned, I have the most detailed synopsis for Book 2, and I’ve started to have fun with key scenes and key characters, but what I really need to do is stop plotting and playing and just start getting the story in down in a linear way.  I’m sure my editor agrees J

Big thanks, Caz for answering my questions!

Thanks so much for asking them!

Sweet Little Lies is out now and can be purchased on Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Caz Frear follow her on Twitter at @CazziF.

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*Blog Tour The One by John Marrs*

Today I’m super thrilled to be a part of The One blog tour by John Marrs. I adored this book and cannot put into words how good it was, but will try along with a cheeky Q&A with the author. As always don’t forget to stop off at all the other stops on this blog tour – #MatchYourDNA

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The Blurb:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for. 

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Review:

Oh My – This was such a superb read which had me on the edge of my seat most of the time with all it’s twists and surprises I just didn’t see coming. It is definitely a psychological thriller with a difference.

The One tells the story of five characters who have all taken the Match Your DNA test, but what turns out as a simple DNA swab which millions of other have done previously, quickly turns into something more sinister. Something more shocking than they could ever have imagined.

  • Nick is content with his fiance Sally, or so he thinks, right up until the point she begs him to take the test. But what could possibly go wrong  when he is matched with a straight man?
  • Ellie is a successful businesswoman, closed off from the world but then she is matched. Can she open her heart? And what could go wrong when she does?
  • Jade is matched with a man halfway across the world, but does she have the guts to leave everything behind to meet the love of her life?
  • Mandy is ecstatic when she discovers she has been matched to the man of her dreams, after her past relationships but then she starts looking him up online…
  • Christopher is a psychopath who is so wrapped up in his own project that when he meets his match he is unaware of the effect she will truly have on him.

I loved how the author superbly weaves each of the character’s story, giving equal weight to each one while ending each chapter with a smallish-cliffhanger, leaving me as the reader needing to read more. It was one of those books where because of the short chapters you could keep reading another and another, although because I did just that one morning it forced me to literally run to work.

It was a book which really built the tension up from the word go with the author trickling surprise after surprise until you thought you couldn’t take anymore, well until the author wacked me with yet another corker of a twist about halfway through – turning the story completely on it’s head.

I just loved every minute of this book which had me literally gasping out loud with the many surprises and twists I couldn’t keep up with! I’m still not sure whose story was the most disturbing which makes it all the better. This was a novel so full of high drama which made for a fantastic read! I would recommend for all lovers of psychological crime.

I wonder, would you take the test? I’m not quite sure if I would anymore…

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So now onto the fab Q&A with John Marrs:

Welcome John to the CKT blog.

Thank you! I’m actually big fan of your reviews. In fact it was your review on The Kind Worth Killing last year that encouraged me to buy it and it’s become one of my firm favourites.

Aww thank you, to start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your novel The One?

Of course. It’s set in the present, but ten years after a gene has been discovered in all of us that links us to one other person in the world. And that person is the one who you are pre-programmed to fall in love with. However, you have no say over who it is. It could be someone in a different age bracket, religion, skin colour or of the same sex. To find the person, you just do a mouth swab, send it to an agency and when you get a Match, you’ll be informed. My story follows five people who have taken the test and we watch how their relationships proceed. And some take much darker twists and turns than others!

The One has such an interesting concept which I love – how did you come up with the idea of having a DNA test leading to something more sinister?

In December 2015, my partner and I were planning our wedding in New York. I was heading down the escalator on the London Underground thinking about how lucky I was to have found ‘the one’ and how different the world of dating might be if we knew there was someone out there who was made for us. Not just a soul mate, but someone who physically was made for you. Obviously if these people met and they were all ‘happy ever afters,’ it’d be a short book. So I picked five characters and started playing God with their lives.

The One is told from five different characters point of views, who is your favourite character from the novel and why?

I have two. One is Christopher who, without giving too much away, has psychopathic tendencies. So many books choose a psychopath as a central character and blame something awful in their childhood for how they turned out. I didn’t want to do that, I wanted him to be from a normal background but who’s brain was wired differently and got his kicks in a way you or I wouldn’t. My other favourite is Nick, a straight guy who’s about to marry his girlfriend until he discovers his Match is with another man, who is also straight. I liked writing his story a lot because of the awkwardness of what could happen when two men who aren’t gay fall in love with each other.

With five different story lines, how did you keep track of everything? Did you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?

It depended on what mood I was in as to which characters I would work on thath day. I can’t work methodically so I’d do a bit here, a bit there and hope it all came together when I edited it to become draft one. Also some of the characters were easier to write than others. There was one character I wasn’t so keen on and I almost cut her out of the final version. But Emily, my editor at Del Rey, helped me to transform her into someone a lot more interesting and now she’s one of my favourites. I very loosely plotted out which direction each character’s story was going to take but more often than not, I’d get a lightbulb moment and have an idea that would turn the story on its head.

 What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

I am a terrible reader. Since I started writing books, I don’t have time to sit down and read any more. Trying to juggle a full time job as a journalist alongside writing books and spending time with my husband and our families means I don’t get the time to spend a few hours reading novels. I used to download a lot of podcasts, but my New Year’s resolution has been to download audio books as I keep missing out on great reads. However, I’ve just ordered Peter Swanson’s first and latest book in physical format, so I’m going to make some time for him.

Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

I have just finished re-editing my first novel, The Wronged Sons, which will be released in late Spring on the Thomas & Mercer book label, although it’ll have a different title and cover. I’ve also just completed my first draft of book four, a psychological thriller under the working title of The Good Samaritan. It’s about a volunteer at a helpline who has her own agenda. That probably won’t be released until 2018 though.

And most importantly, would you take the test?

No, I’m afraid I wouldn’t. My other half, also called John just to confuse matters, is perfect for me. So I’m more than happy to say no to the test!

Thank you John for letting me grill you, it’s been a lot of fun!

It’s been a pleasure. And thanks for letting me stop off on my first ever Blog tour and visit your murderous corner of the Internet!

Thanks to Stephenie Naulls and Ebury Publishing for my ARC.

The One isn’t quite out yet, but with the ebook out on 26th January 2017 and the Paperback out 4th May 2017, you can preorder it here.

To find out more about John Marrs follow him on Twitter at @johnmarrs1.

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*Blog Tour* Frozen Minds by Cheryl Rees-Price

Today I’m delighted to launch the beginning of the Frozen Minds Blog Tour and to kick off the tour, I would like to welcome Cheryl Rees-Price today to talk about her new novel Frozen Minds and fictional detectives.

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Welcome Cheryl to the CKT blog.

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your new novel Frozen Minds?

Frozen Minds is the second book in the DI Winter Meadows series. It centres on a murder in a residential home for adults with learning difficulties. The victim, a seemingly well-liked and respected man, was the supervisor and had worked at the home for many years. Suspicion falls on the residents and the investigation requires sensitivity and understanding to gain the residents trust. The team soon uncover some unscrupulous dealings among the staff as well as a culture of fear. Just when Meadows thinks the case is solved the killer strikes again, and the home, which should be a sanctuary, is no longer safe.

DI Winter Meadows, your main protagonist, is not your stereotypical detective. For anyone who hasn’t read your novels, how would you describe DI Meadows?

DI Meadows was born and raised in a commune. He was home schooled until he was fifteen, then was sent to main stream school when the family moved. He had a tough time with bullies, his name, Winter, and background singling him out from the other teenage boys. Despite this he grew up retaining his principles and treats everyone as equal, he doesn’t see social status, race, class or sex, just people. His need to always try to see the best in people which can sometimes be his downfall, however; he is highly intuitive and has an uncanny gift for finding the truth.

Frozen Minds is the second novel in the DI Winter Meadows series. When you were writing your first novel did you have the idea for a series character in mind?

Yes, although the series I had in mind was for another character. I initially started writing the first book with DI Lester as my protagonist. I created Winter Meadows as a side kick for Lester. As it turned out Meadows was so much more interesting than Lester so I instantly promoted him. Lester still plays small part in the series as Meadows’ boss.

In Frozen Minds the first murder takes place at a home for adults with learning difficulties. I found the portrayal of these characters authentic, how did you go about researching this theme and incorporating it into your characters?

I have a family member who is autistic so was very fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with some of the carers as well as some other young adults who have autism and Asperger’s syndrome. It is a subject close to my heart. There has been reported cases of abuse in residential homes, yet no reports on the wonderful work some of the dedicated carers do. It’s not always an easy job. I wanted to try and portray this in the book.

Despite all the information we have at hand it surprises me that so few have an understanding of mental disabilities. One young man told me he gets called names and even has things thrown at him when he is out shopping. I was appalled listening to his story. The characters in the book are not based on one singular person but a mixture of the people I met. I hope I did them justice in the book and also hope that I managed to raise a little awareness.
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Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process; do you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?

I tend to do a lot of preparation before starting on the first draft. I start with creating the cast and backstories then work through the plot. Once the research is complete I put all this information into a file for easy reference. Usually when I start work on the first draft the story veers away from my plan, then I just have to go along with the characters and see where the story takes me.

Who are your favourite fictional detectives and why?

R.D Wingfield’s Inspector Jack Frost is one of my favourite detectives.  I’ve read all the books, more than once. Frost is down to earth, a little shabby, and useless with paperwork. He has a wicked sense of humour but can be sensitive and compassionate. Frost doesn’t always stick to the rules but getting results is more important to him than moving up the ranks. He’s certainly a memorable and realistic character.

Anne Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope is another of my favourites.  Vera doesn’t appear at first to be a likable character. A bit of a loner, she is short tempered and has little regard for her team’s family life. As the series progresses you get to know the character and witness her devotion to the job as well as some moments of compassion. Again I find this character to be realistic and memorable.

 What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

So many books to choose from! I think Tania Carver’s The Creeper is a good one to keep you up half the night turning pages. It certainly plays on your fears.

 And finally, are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

I’ve just finished writing the third in the DI Meadows series.  It’s a little darker than the first two and sees Meadows pushed to the limits in a desperate search for a missing child.  That’s about all I can tell you at the moment.

This sounds really intriguing! I would like to say a huge thanks to Cheryl for answering my questions.

Now for the Frozen Minds Blurb:

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When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home’s residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man. DI Winter Meadows knows there’s more to the case than meets the eye at first, though. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home – and some very sinister dealings going on between the staff. Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents – or is there something even more sinister afoot?

 

Go grab a copy and don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this great blog tour!

To buy this book from Amazon click here.

To find out more about Cheryl Rees-Price check out her Facebook page or visit her website here.

 

Blog Tour For The Love Of Grace

Today I’m delighted to host the final stop on Andy Blackman’s For the Love of Grace blog tour and have Andy Blackman here to talk about his new novel and what inspires him.

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To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your new novel For the Love of Grace?

For the Love of Grace, is about Family, and the lengths a mother will go to protect her child even if it meant breaking the law. The story begins with Tom Sharapova, a top assassin who is a wanted man, coming back to England after many years of absence. But with the intelligence services close on his tail, Tom is out for vengeance. But before he can be reunited with his mother Grace, who brought him up in the East End of London, he must face the danger head-on if he is to survive.

What inspired you, as a writer, to set some of your novel in Odessa?

The reason I picked Odessa was when I was growing up, Russia was behind the iron curtain and was always a far away mysterious place – somewhere where people struggled on a daily basis to survive. It was a place where we never knew much about apart from the odd news reports, which always looked cold and the people never smiled, so thought it must have been a harsh terrible place to live, which fascinated me. I did not want Tom to sail off in the sunset so thought Tom should at least have a form of sentence placed upon him. Although he had escaped the terrible fate that awaited him, Odessa was still a punishment as Russia was a strange uninviting country. I have never been to either Russia or Odessa but I used my imagination to capture the harsh world Tom is living in.

Who would you say is the biggest influence on your writing?

The biggest influence on my writing I would say would be my family; I was always brought up to believe in family, and how important it is to always look out for them, and as the saying goes “you can pick your friends but not your family.” My three daughters, who I have tried to impart the importance of family, are my harshest critics. I have always said I would try and write a book, but as we all know life gets in the way and it becomes a thing that is placed on the ‘bucket list.’.I remember reading a really bad book, which was predictable and basically very boring, after I had struggled to finish, I thought to myself I bet I could do better than that. After speaking to my daughters about it they told me to stop talking about it and just get on with it, so this time I decided to go for it and finally committed pen to paper or as you say in this modern era fingers to the keyboard.

I have two authors who inspire me. I find Dan Brown’s books compelling, and well written – what I find brilliant about his books is they are always well researched and very factual, and mostly always controversial.  It is the same with Jeffery Archer, perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but I find his diversity between books, most refreshing as he does not stick to one theme, his books are a nice light read but always have a twist.

And finally ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck. This was the first book I read in school and the book kicked started my love of reading. I found the book so well written that even today I still remember the story. I think a good author or book should be one that years later you can still remember and recall, plus a good book should be one once you start reading you find it hard to put down.

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process; do you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?

It is funny I cannot just sit at a keyboard with a blank page and start typing and the plot and characters come in a flurry of inspiration. I prefer to think and mull over the characters and plot in my mind which could take days or even weeks to formulate a plot. I especially do this at night lying in bed just before I fall asleep when it is dark and peaceful!

Once I have the basic idea for a plot or a character I then go to the keyboard and randomly type the outline. I will research as I go and like to use my own life’s experiences as research. For example, in the book I had Tom drive from New York to Washington, which I have done myself, so although the book is a work of fiction I think you still need to get some facts correct for continuity. Sometimes a thought will pop into my head in the strangest places, while at work under a desk fixing a computer, or standing in line getting a cup of coffee, so once the spark of an idea or a good character has taken root I will think about it and see where it leads.

Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

I am writing the next book called ‘The Second son’ and it is a continuation of the first book from Grenville’s perspective who features in the first novel. It does bring in Grenville’s childhood and how he becomes the Duke of Hampshire, his friendship with Tom, from the first book, and how he helps Tom in his quest.

And finally, what is the rest of 2016 looking like for you at the moment?

At present I am still in full time employment working in IT for a large company, so work is pretty busy and sometimes tiring. I must admit I do like my job but I am now 56 so perhaps deep down I needed a change and hopefully writing a book was going to give me that, so would love to write full time. I am, concentrating on the second book, ‘the second son’, which is going well. Also my middle daughter who was married last year is expecting her first child; this will be my third grandchild so I am very excited! I’m also very excited about my novel being published this year and hope my book is well received. It was easy when I was writing it as I was the only one reading it and of course, we all think what we create is good, the hardest part is when you put out your work for public scrutiny – it’s a game changer, and no longer just yours, and you have to put yourself up for criticism. I hope people enjoy the book, and want to read more of me in the future.

A big thanks to Andy for taking the time to answer my questions, much appreciated!

Now for the Blurb
Grace Backer had a life full of tragedy. But despite everything, she raised her son, Tom, with her secret intact.

Tom is a prodigal child, destined to escape the slums of the East End of London for a better life; circumstances will make him flee his loving mother and their home much sooner than expected.

Tom starts a new life in Odessa, Russia, and with the help of new-found friends starts a business. At last, he is finally accepted into a new and loving family, but one which holds its own dark secrets. A chance meeting with the son of a duke of the realm leads to close friendship and a new business partnership. When Tom decides to move his company to London and have his regal new friend run it, the firm thrives. However, not everything is as it seems, and Tom’s business soon conceals dangerous secrets of its own.

Years later, when Tom finally decides to return to London, he is a wanted man, one hunted by the intelligence agencies. If he is finally to be reunited with his beloved mother and his best friend, he must fight to put the past behind him. But keeping secrets is never easy.

About Andy Blackman
After serving in the British Army for over twenty-five years in the Parachute Regiment, Andy Blackman today lives in Bedworth, Warwickshire and works within in the IT sector. In his spare time he can be found visiting his three daughters and grandchildren.

To buy this book from Amazon click here.

To buy this book from Barnes and Nobles click here.

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