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: Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

To kick off the New Year I am excited to be hosting the next stop on Liz Nugent’s Lying In Wait blog tour.

So, as part of the tour I have a fab Q&A with Liz, the author, along with my review.

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Welcome to the CKT blog, Liz.

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your novel, Lying in Wait and what inspired the idea for this novel?

Lying in Wait details the story of the murder of a young woman in 1980 and the consequences for the family of the murderer as well as the family of the victim. At the centre of the story is a monumentally disturbed and obsessive maternal character, Lydia.

A man once told me that he strongly suspected his father had murdered a prostitute. He had no evidence or no way of proving it. He never had the courage to challenge his father and went to his grave wondering. He told me this story about 25 years ago and he is long dead now. I always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a house where you suspect your father is a murderer.

Lying in Wait is told from the view point of three different characters. My favourite character to read was Lydia’s view point as she was such an interesting and toxic character, but who was your favourite view-point character to write and why?

I really enjoyed writing Lydia because she says and thinks the most outrageous things and I find snobbery hilarious. But the challenge for me was to keep her real so that she is not a cartoon villain, so I had to explore her past to explain her current psychosis, but you know, when you are writing a character, you have to ‘become’ them a little so you do actually grow to like them no matter how monstrous they are.

I identified with Laurence the most because he is a coward like me who will do anything to avoid confrontation. Karen is the most decent character. She just wants the truth and is extremely tenacious about getting it.

Your novel features a number of time points, starting with 1980, and is full of many twists and turns which I loved! How did you keep track of everything that was going on? Did you plot the story out first or just dived right in? Or a mixture of the two?

I always start off with a half-baked notion but then I find tangents that lead me down more interesting paths as I go. I literally make it up as I go along. I do however, often start at the middle or the end and work my way backwards or forwards from there. Keeping track of things is difficult. It is like when you were a teenager and you lied to your mum about where you were going, but you have to remember the lie and remember all of the details of who knows what. It’s that multiplied by a thousand. Luckily, I lied to my mother A LOT when I was a teenager so I got a lot of practise!

Lying in Wait is actually your second novel. How did you find writing a novel the second time round after the success of your first one, Unravelling Oliver? Did you feel added pressure to write Lying in Wait?

The second novel is definitely harder than the first because you have the weight of expectation, a deadline, a genre into which you must fit, and a lot of readers who you don’t want to disappoint. The pressure is immense. I’m writing my third novel now, and it’s even worse.

The first draft of Lying in Wait was rejected. I rewrote about 75% of it in five months to meet the deadline. Funny thing is, the rewrite wasn’t half as tortuous as the first draft. I don’t mind rewrites. I know this is unusual and most writers hate them, but for me the wrenching of an initial story out of my head and on to the page is the most painful. I’d rather have root canal treatment.

Lying in Wait has an underlying theme of lies, hidden secrets and a mother’s suffocating love. Can you tell us a little bit about why you wanted to explore this in Lying in Wait and what fascinated you most about this darker side of your characters?

I have always been fascinated by the darker characters in literature. Think of Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff, for example, and imagine how his life (and Cathy’s) might have been so different if she had returned his love. She spurned him because of her own snobbery and consequently, they were both miserable for the rest of their lives. Another Bronte sister had Mr Rochester lock his mad wife in the attic while he entertained lavishly with balls and parties. On the outside, these people had money and servants and big houses, but inside, there was tragedy that ran through generations. I find that interesting.

Talking about the theme of secrets, do you have a secret which you would be willing to share with us?

I just ate the Curlywurly my husband thought he had hidden. I am going to plead ignorance and blame my nephew.

Apart from your own fabulous novels, what other crime novels have you read and would recommend as a must for die-hard crime fans, like myself?

The best I have read in recent times is The Dark Adapted Eye by Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine). It is so brilliantly structured as the truth is drip fed to the reader bit by bit. An absolute classic.

I really enjoy Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series. Her female detective and Neanderthal-but-strangely-attractive colleague Derwent are a wonderful team.

I’m also anxiously waiting for Sinéad Crowley’s third novel. She has a female detective, Claire Boyle, at the centre of her books too. I’m wondering if Claire’s fragile marriage will survive the next case.

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?

My third novel is called Skin Deep. It’s in the early stages so I’m afraid anything I say about it is subject to change. It’s about a woman who is scarred, but not just on the surface.

I would like to say a big thanks to Liz for letting me grill her!

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Now for the Blurb and my Review:

A Mother’s Love Can Be Murder

Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …

Review: I adored this novel with its cast of compelling but damaged characters, whose toxic lives seem to leap of the page and draw me further into the story.

The story starts off with a bang. I loved it from the very first line where the chilling words ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it’ truly haunted me. The narrative immediately grabbed my attention, already making me question things like why did he kill her? Why is she a lying tramp? What happened? Is the Lydia telling the truth?

I think my favourite character by far has to be Lydia. Even though she is a serial manipulator and a truly ghastly person, I thought she was a truly fascinating character which kept me reading on. I wonder what this says about me?

In this novel, the author creates a dark and claustrophobic world with its twisted tale of deceit and hidden truths and suffocating love. What is there not to love?

I don’t want to say anything else as I may spoil it, but what I will say is this is a dark and compulsive read full of twists and turns.

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About the author:

Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theatre and television. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television dramas and has written short stories for children and adults. Her first novel, the No 1 bestselling Unravelling Oliver, won the 2014 IBA Crime Fiction Award. She lives in Dublin with her husband.

With thanks to Sara D’Arcy at Penguin Random House for my advanced review copy.

 

To buy this book from Amazon click here.

To buy this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Liz Nugent check her out on Twitter at @lizzienugent.

Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on the Blog Tour!

*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:

frozen-minds

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.

 

Author Interview: David Mark

Today I’m thrilled to have David Mark, author of the DS McAvoy series, joining me for a quick chat all about his new novel Dead Pretty.

Welcome to the CKT blog David!

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your new book in the DS McAvoy series, Dead Pretty and what sparked your idea for the story?

I spend a lot of time wondering about in the woods and sitting in old churches, letting my mind drift and getting all existential. I was out at this gorgeous little church in East Yorkshire and was just having a bit of a daydream and because I’m the sort of person who plays the music of his life on the black keys, my thoughts turned dark. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I just had this notion that human beings see the sunshine as being full of hope and fairy-tales but nature is a different beast. I was thinking about how ladybirds look pretty until you see them chewing through an aphid. And I imagined a young girl, excited and happy and full of zeal for her clandestine meeting, and the peril she was putting herself in with her big heart and naiveté. It snowballed from there really. I found myself really interested in the sliding scale we use to qualify tragedy. Of course, that all sounds like a very Radio 4 kind of answer, so if you’re after a thrilling police procedural, I hope it ticks that box too. This is the story of a good policeman’s obsession with getting justice – even as a vicious killer exacts justice of their own. It involves armpit-scalping and a murder involving a toilet seat. I’m giving you no more than that.

I love the title of your novel, where did the inspiration for this come from?

That’s a hangover from my journalism days. Whenever there had been a murder it would be up to one of the journalists to acquire a picture of the dead. It was so strange that people thought it was somehow more tragic if the murdered girl was a look. You’d catch people saying ‘she’s dead pretty’ and then feeling awful for being callous.

I found the central investigation into the disappearance of Hannah Kelly and Ava Delaney’s murder compelling with a number of twists and turns I didn’t see coming. Did you plot the story out first or did you dive right in and see where the story took you?

I never dive right in. I’m a careful plotter. Sometimes parts of the narrative take off under their own steam but I like to know how it will end before I begin. I always knew that I wanted to write a story about the character of Reuben Hollow, who may or may not have killed somebody who bullied his daughter. I identify with that character very closely. Don’t judge me.

Who is your favourite recurring character in the series and why?

I think that would have to be Trish Pharaoh, Aector’s boss. She makes me laugh and she writes her own lines, in a way. I think she’s the most believable character I’ve ever written. But I do love the giant, scarred gangland enforcer, Mahon, who disappeared over the clifftop at the end of TAKING PITY and reappeared in the e-book A BAD DEATH. There may one day be a book about his youth, if anybody would like to make me an offer …

There is always a lot of debate about where the best place is for an author to write, where is the best place that you have found to write? And do you have any rituals or writing quirks?

I’m very lucky in that regard. I have a lovely office in my house, full of all the essentials, like books and maps and wrestling figures, and I just get my head down and get on with it. It’s a big change from all the years when I was unpublished – scribbling in notebooks while waiting for juries to return from murder trials.

David Mark ©a r t E A S TJust for fun…if you could collaborate with one author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I always thought it would be an honour to work with Terry Pratchett, but everybody I’ve spoken to says he was an absolute terror, so I may spare myself that. I’m actually very energised by mixed media projects and have half an idea that would work as a graphic novel so perhaps somebody in that area. I’d go into a coma of excitement if I got to work with Alan Moore. But I’m a bit of a control freak so it would be hard to share the creative process, I fear. I suppose if I was brutally honest I would like to have collaborated on one of the so-called ‘classics’ like Pride and Prejudice or Mill on the Floss. Perhaps that way I would have made them vaguely engrossing.

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’m always working on something! I write constantly. If I don’t, the voices in my head start to scream. I have my first historical crime novel coming out next year and there is another McAvoy, CRUEL MERCY, out in January, taking Aector to New York.  I’ve got a few radio projects up my sleeve and hope to dip my toe in the true-crime market. There’s no rest when you write about the wicked.

I would like to say a huge thank you to David for answering my questions for the CKT blog!

Don’t forget to grab your copy of David’s fabulous novel Dead Pretty which is out now and can be purchased from Amazon here or from Hodder here.

To find out more about David Mark follow him on Twitter @davidmarkwriter.

Author Interview: Anna Mazzola

Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Anna Mazzola join me for a Q&A about her new novel The Unseeing.

Welcome to the CKT blog Anna.

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Anna Mazzola (photo credit Lou Abercrombie)

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel The Unseeing?

Happy to. The Unseeing is a historical crime novel based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted in 1837 of aiding and abetting her lover, James Greenacre, in the murder of another woman. Sarah was sentenced to death and petitioned the King for mercy. The Unseeing begins with the appointment of the lawyer who is to investigate her petition, and he – and the reader – has to determine whether Sarah Gale is indeed innocent or whether she is far more involved than she would have us believe.

You have mentioned before that your novel is based on the real-life case of Sarah Gale who was sentenced to hang for the murder of Hannah Brown in the Victorian era. How did you find out about her case and what sparked your interest as a writer to write about this?

I first read about James Greenacre in the Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale. I was originally interested in the crime because it took place in Camberwell, not far from where I live. However, when I read through the Old Bailey transcript of the trial, it was Sarah who most interested me. Very little was said in her defence – she gave only a short statement denying being in Camberwell at the time of the murder. As she was facing the death sentence for her part in the horrific murder of another woman, I thought that was very strange. What was preventing Sarah from speaking out to defend herself? Was she guilty? Afraid of James Greenacre? Or something else?

Your novel is set in Victorian London, how did you research about this period and did you find anything new and fascinating which you had to include in your novel?

The research part was great fun. I loved visiting the British Library but, as I was mainly researching in the evening after work, I did a lot of my research online, for example on the  Harvard University website (which has many of the original pamphlets relating to Greenacre and Gale), in the British Newspaper Archives, and through a variety of other brilliant sites, including Lee Jasper’s Victorian London. Lots of nineteenth century texts are available via Gutenburg, Forgotten Books and Google books.

I discovered many astonishing and terrible things, particularly about child labour in Victorian London, the lives of the poor, the injustices of the justice system. A tiny fraction of my research became part of the story, but most of it is just stored way in the recesses of my mind and on my computer hard-drive. People go to fiction – even historical fiction – for the story. The facts can’t stand out or you’ll lose the reader.

Did you find it difficult to write about real people and weave them into a fictional story?

In short, yes. Although it was initially useful to have a ‘template’ – an idea of who the characters were, I then felt hampered by what they might have been and what they might have done. In a way, it was fortunate that I didn’t know more about Sarah. She remained an enigma.

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?

For The Unseeing, I created a synopsis and worked from that, but I now know that I should have plotted it out in a far more detailed way. Every writer is different, but I think I work best when I know where I’m headed (even if the plot later changes). For my next novel, I’m working from a far more detailed plot structure. I’ll have to see how that works out!

Who was your favourite character to write about in the Unseeing and why?

It was Sarah. It took me a long time to get to know her, but – probably because of that – she’s stayed with me. I want to know what happens to her next.

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’m currently writing my second historical crime novel, which is set on the Isle of Skye in 1857. It’s about a young woman who goes to work for a collector of folklore and discovers that a young girl has gone missing, supposedly taken by spirits of the unforgiven dead, although of course that’s not what she believes. Again, the idea was sparked by a real case, but I haven’t tried to base it on the facts in the same way that I did with The Unseeing.

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

Margaret Atwood. She’s been a huge inspiration since I was quite young. I made the mistake of telling her this when I met her a signing. She didn’t seem impressed: presumably I was the ninth person in the queue to have told her the very same thing.

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?

Nina Simone, Aung San Suu Kyi and Madonna. All terrifyingly powerful and talented women with fascinating stories. They would almost certainly have a fight.

A big thank you to Anna for taking the time to answer my questions! 

Don’t forget you can catch Anna Mazzola at the next First Monday Crime in July to grab a signed copy of The Unseeing.

To find out more about Anna Mazzola follow her on Twitter @Anna_Mazz. You can preorder your copy of The Unseeing from Amazon here.

Follow First Monday Crime at @1stMondayCrime for updates on their upcoming events.