Blog Tour Q&A: 29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

Today, I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for 29 Seconds by T.M Logan, published by Bonnier Zaffre Books. For the tour, I have a fun character interview with Sarah Haywood, the main protagonist from this novel who I must say keeps her cards close to her chest….

The Blurb:

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Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . . .

When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.

BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS A NAME TO GIVE. DON’T THEY?

 

Interview:

Location: Queen Anne University, north London

Interviewer: Rachel Emms, (RE), Reporter.

Interviewee: Dr Sarah Haywood, (SH), junior lecturer.

RE: How did you get into your chosen field of research? It’s pretty niche.

SH: I’ve always loved books, so literature was a natural choice for me when I went to university. Then in my final year I did a module on the works of Christopher Marlowe, and just found him totally fascinating – born in the same year as Shakespeare, a playwright and poet during Elizabethan times, also a drinker and a duellist who was killed in a bar fight at the age of 29, in murky circumstances. Some said he was actually a spy and was assassinated on the orders of the Crown. Marlowe wrote a number of plays including Dr Faustus, about a man who makes a deal with the Devil, which is probably my favourite book.

RE: I decide to ask a hard hitting question first, before getting to the juicy bits. You work in a very male dominated sector, does this make you feel disadvantaged at all?

SH: To be honest I try not to think about it, I just want to get on with my job and do the best that I can. But it’s a fact that there are more male professors than female at my university, and the overall rates of pay for men are higher than for women, and progression through the hierarchy is generally faster for men. Things are changing, but it’s happening quite slowly. You just have to trust the system and believe that your turn will come.

RE: It must be a joy to work with the renowned Professor Lovelock. He is amazing at what he does. How do you feel about working with him? I look up from my notepad to watch her reaction.

SH: He’s… one of a kind. In terms of our area of research, on Marlowe’s works, he’s one of the most accomplished academics in the world. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Elizabethan literature, and of the period, and he knows everyone there is to know in academia. So working with him is really important for my career. Of course he’s quite famous as well, through his TV documentaries, books and appearances on chat shows and the like.

RE: Would you say you’re quite close? I’ve heard talk about Sarah in a not so professional sense…

SH: You mean, in a professional sense? I suppose so. He’s my line manager so we work together on a regular basis, he oversees my work and does my performance reviews, all of that kind of thing. We also collaborate sometimes on bids for new funding, and research projects. But we don’t have any contact outside of work.

RE: His parties are also legendary, have you been to one? I’ve only ever been thrown out of one.

SH: I’ve only been once. It was at his house – he holds them every year to raise money for his charitable foundation. Very plush, no expense spared, it’s quite an honour to be invited. Although the one time I did go along, there was an unexpected guest and things got a bit heated…

RE: Oh yes, I heard about that trouble maker. She’s my next job actually. Anyway, back to Sarah and the real reason I want to talk to her. I hear you recently rescued a young girl. Quite the heroine. Is this true? How did it happen?

SH: Yes, it is true although ‘rescued’ seems a bit strong. It was on my drive home from work, but all I did was try to help a girl who was in trouble – there was a man chasing her so I hit him with my car before he could get to her (I only gave him a bump, enough to slow him down). I don’t really feel like a heroine, I was only trying to help. I hope someone would do the same for my children if they were ever in that situation.

RE: I lean across the table and whisper. Finally, how did you feel when you received that offer of a phone call? Were you tempted?

SH: I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean. What did you say your name was again? I should go. I have to get to my next lecture…

RE: I watch as Sarah Haywood gathers up her pile of books and papers, before rushing out of the room. Great, that blows my chance…

A massive thank you to T.M. Logan for answering my questions for Sarah, a woman who gives nothing away…

About the Author:

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TM Logan was born in Berkshire to an English father and a German mother. He studied at Queen Mary and Cardiff universities before becoming a national newspaper journalist. He currently works in communications and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children. LIES is his first novel – published by Bonnier Zaffre in January 2017. His next thriller, 29 SECONDS, comes out in January 2018.

To find out more about T.M Logan, follow him on twitter @TMLoganAuthor.

29 Seconds is out in Ebook now and paperback on 8th March, and can be ordered from Amazon here. Or Waterstones here.

Don’t forget to check out all the other fabulous stops on this blog tour!

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Blog Tour Q&A: A Darker State by David Young

Today, I’m delighted to be hosting the next stop on the Blog Tour for A Darker State by David Young, published by Bonnier Zaffre Books. For the tour I have a fabulous interview with the main protagonist from the series, Karin Muller, who I’m sure everyone would like to know a bit more about – although I warn you it was very difficult to get much out of her…

The Blurb:

For the Stasi, it’s not just the truth that gets buried . . .

The body of a teenage boy is found weighted down in a lake. Karin Müller, newly appointed Major of the People’s Police, is called to investigate. But her power will only stretch so far, when every move she makes is under the watchful eye of the Stasi.

Then, when the son of Müller’s team member goes missing, it quickly becomes clear that there is a terrifying conspiracy at the heart of this case, one that could fast lead Müller and her young family into real danger.

Can she navigate this complex political web and find the missing boy, before it’s too late?

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Interview:

Location: East Berlin

Interviewer: Rachel Emms, (RE), Reporter.

Interviewee: Oberleutnant Karin Muller, (KM), Major of People’s Crimes.

RE: How did you feel coming back to work so soon, leaving behind your newborn twins? Especially leaving them in the care of your grandmother? How long have you known her?

KM: First let me say it is highly irregular for a reporter from the BRD or one of the fascist imperialist nations to be permitted to talk to an officer of the People’s Police. However, you have produced a signed authorisation. My deputy, Comrade Hauptmann Werner Tilsner is taking steps to check the authenticity of your documents at this very moment, and should we find any irregularities you will find yourself placed under arrest and detained here at our headquarters in Keibelstrasse, and the consular officials of your country will be informed. We will also be checking whether you crossed the Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier under false pretences.

I also have to warn you that I will not answer questions about any of our ongoing inquiries to you or indeed any reporters from the Republic either. This could jeopardise our investigations.

Your question about my children is a very personal one. However I am prepared to answer it this way. It is the duty of every woman and man in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik to play his or her part in working for the success of the workers’ and peasants’ state. Why should mothers be any different? All women should work for the good of the state and its workers be they mothers or not. It is true that my twins are currently being cared for by my grandmother, but the crèches, nurseries and preschool education in the Republic are some of the best in the world and I will have no hesitation in letting my children join the education system at the correct time. The day my son or daughter comes home singing the well-known song “I want to be a Volkspolizist” will be a very proud day for me.

The question about how long I have known my grandmother is a personal one that I am not prepared to answer. However, as the first female head of a murder squad there are a number of official publications that mention me that you could consult. VEB Buchveröffentlichkombinat Bonnier Zaffre have two titles I can recommend, Stasi Child and Stasi Wolf which have details of my career and life up to this point. Any details of current investigations that the People’s Police wish to release are – or soon will be – available in a document entitled A Darker State.

RE: I decide to try my luck, hey you only get one interview with Karin Muller. What do you think happened to that poor boy who drowned? I heard he was only young.

KM: As I explained in my first answer, I am not prepared to answer anything concerning People’s Police operations. You will have to consult the official documents. I recommend A Darker State.

RE: I try to push her again. I’ve heard whispers about Markus Schmidt disappearing, is it true? He’s your forensics guy’s son isn’t he?

KM: I am not prepared to answer anything concerning People’s Police operations.

RE: She really isn’t budging. I scratch my nose with the end of my pencil. Do you think it’s connected?

KM: I’m wondering if perhaps you have something wrong with your hearing, or your ability to understand German? I repeat, I am not prepared to answer anything concerning People’s Police operations.

RE: Do you trust everyone on your team? I’ve heard they have spies everywhere….

KM: You have been watching or reading too much counter-revolutionary propaganda, Ms Emms. Should you wish to re-educate yourself, I can recommend some of our more balanced current affairs television programmes such as Der schwarze Kanal. Every People’s Police officer swears an oath to, and I quote, “be loyal to my socialist fatherland, the German Democratic Republic and its government at all times, to keep official and state secrets, and to strictly obey laws and instructions”. I think that answers your question sufficiently well.

RE: I’m really not getting anywhere, and to be honest I’m starting to feel a little uneasy. What made you want to fight crime? Especially at this dangerous time?

KM: Once we have created the ideal socialist state, there will be no need for police force or any agency to suppress the proletarians. However, while there are still counter-revolutionaries trying to undermine that, I will, without reservation — under risk of my life — protect the socialist social, state and legal order, the socialist property, the personality, the rights and the personal property of the citizens against felonious attacks.

RE: Are you afraid of the Stasi?

KM: If you are referring to the Ministry for State Security, or MfS, then please give it its proper name. The goals of the MfS and the Volkspolizei are the same. The MfS is the sword and shield of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany.

RE: I think it was a big mistake coming here. Don’t you ever feel like packing it all in? Leaving the Stasi to it? Everyone else does….

[Hauptmann Werner Tilsner re-enters the room with two guards and whispers in Müller’s ear]

KM: I’m afraid, Ms Emms, that your papers, as I suspected, have proved to be false. These officers will be handing you over to agents of the Ministry for State Security. I can assure you that they will not be as accommodating as myself. I hope you will enjoy your stay in our socialist republic. But I doubt you will find the prisons at Hohenschönhausen, Hoheneck or Bautzen as comfortable as your fascist imperialist hotels back home.

RE: Prison? I gasp.

Big thanks to David Young for answering my questions, on behalf of Karin Muller –  a formidable woman I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with, especially after locking me up in prison!

About the Author:

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David Young was born near Hull and, after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree, studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism on provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and international radio and TV newsrooms. He now writes in his garden shed and in a caravan on the Isle of Wight, and in his spare time supports Hull City AFC.

To find out more about David Young, follow him on twitter @djy_writer.

Sound intrigued? If you haven’t read any of the series yet by David Young I would highly recommend!

A Darker State is the third in the Karin Muller series and can be ordered from Amazon here.

Don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this fabulous blog tour!

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Chiller Review: Shame on You by Amy Henydenrych

51Oo4snyfiLBlurb:

You think you know her . . .
Meet Holly. Social media sensation. The face of clean eating. Everyone loves her. Everyone wants to be her.

Or do they?

When Holly is attacked by a man she’s only just met, her life starts to spiral out of control. Was she targeted because of her online wellness empire, or is there a darker reason behind the attack? He seemed to know her – but she doesn’t know him.

Or does she?

What if Holly isn’t who she seems to be? What if Holly’s living a lie?

But surely we all lie a bit online, don’t we . . .?

Meet Holly Evans, a cancer survivor and celebrity health food blogger who has a army of social media followers. One late afternoon, she meets a handsome, mysterious doctor in a Starbucks and agrees to go on a date with him. But the night ends in the worst way possible when she is attacked. Her attacker seems to know her, but does she know him?

Wow! I really enjoyed this novel which really showed the extent of which we are willing to share our daily lives online and exist in a virtual world to ‘bare’ our souls, as well as the damage this could have on others.

I knew this story would be an absolute corker as soon as I started it – the opening scene really captured my attention and hinted at the dark crime at the centre of this story.

The story is told from Holly’s point of view as she struggles to both rebuild her life and discover why she had been attacked, and her attacker Tyler. As the story unravels it is difficult to decide who I have more empathy for, which just shows the captivating way the author tells the story.

I liked the way this novel played on modern online culture, focusing on the pit-falls of how we portray ourselves online which could lead us open and vulnerable to attack, and the way in which nothing is a secret anymore.

The author creates a beautifully claustrophobic way of telling the story, which is very descriptive and fast-paced with two very distinctive point-of-view character’s. It is also very dark and chilling in places, which I of course loved, and took me as the reader in a very surprising direction.

This is a claustrophobic psychological thriller with a fast-paced, tightly woven plot with two characters slowly spiralling out of control – a brilliant recommended read!

About the author:

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Amy Heydenrych is a writer and book blogger based in South Africa. She has been shortlisted twice for the acclaimed Miles Morland African Writing Scholarship. Her short stories and poems have published in multiple anthologies including Brittle PaperThe Kalahari Review and the Short Sharp Stories anthologies. When she is not writing her own fiction, she ghost-writes books and columns for global tech and financial companies. She is currently working on her second novel.

Big thanks to Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for my ARC.

You can order Shame On You on e-book from Amazon here or preorder the paperback here.

To find out more about Amy Heydenrych follow her on Twitter at @AmyHeydenrych.

Blog Tour: Know Me Now by CJ Carver

Today, I’m thrilled to be hosting the next stop on the Blog Tour for Know Me Now written by CJ Carver and published by Bonnier Zaffre. As part of the tour, I have some exclusive extract from the author herself sharing her experience on writing fiction and how her research influences this.

First up the Blurb:

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A SUICIDE. A MURDER. A CONSPIRACY. 
DIGGING UP THE PAST CAN BE DEADLY . . .

A thirteen-year-old boy commits suicide.

A sixty-five-year old man dies of a heart attack.

Dan Forrester, ex-MI5 officer, is connected to them both. 

And when he discovers that his godson and his father have been murdered, he teams up with his old friend, DC Lucy Davies, to find answers.

But as the pair investigate, they unravel a dark and violent mystery stretching decades into the past and uncover a terrible secret.

A secret someone will do anything to keep buried . . . 

Stranger than Fiction by CJ Carver

I always immerse myself in research, learning as much as I can so I can write with authority.  At least, that’s my excuse when I find myself at the airport headed somewhere I’ve never been before. Like Macedonia. Or Kosovo. Queensland. Alaska.

If I hadn’t actually travelled to Alaska, I would never have created the character Malone, who dresses head to toe in animal skins and has what appears to be a dead rabbit sitting on his head.  Also, I wouldn’t have met the Alaskan trooper who, when I was talking with her, took a call from a householder who needed help getting a moose out of her house.  Apparently it had walked through her open sliding doors and when it tried to turn around, its antlers got stuck, panicking the creature into trashing the entire ground floor.  The Trooper drove over there quick smart, and shot the beast.  Everyone on the street had fresh moose to eat for the week.

In Macedonia, I was researching human trafficking.  It wasn’t exactly a tourist destination back then and the international community were convinced I was some kind of spy and wouldn’t let me go anywhere on my own.  Which was probably a good thing as I was eternally grateful for my government escort in the Tetevo region, part of which was run by a particularly brutal gang back then.  They’d ‘break’ young girls into prostitution, and when one particular girl tried to run away, the gang leader hacked off her head and roped it to the front of his car as a lesson to the other girls.

I’ve met SOCO’s, DCI’s, SAS, SIS, RMP’s and fighter pilots.  You would be amazed what people tell a stranger.  Perhaps I have the kind of face that elicits confessions, but I am constantly amazed at what stories I hear.

Like the fisherman in Queensland who took me out in his little tin boat to show me where the biggest salt-water crocodile lived.  He told me about the giant cod caught out at sea the previous week, nearly six-foot long, and how when it was gutted a man’s head rolled out.  Morgan cod hoover up their food off the ocean bed, and the head was apparently wholly intact when it rolled onto a filleting table at the A Fine Kettle o’Fish filleting factory in Cairns.

When I wanted to use this as a plot device, my editor wouldn’t have it.  She insisted that it was too unbelievable even if it was true.

What about a drug that erases memories?  Another snort from my editor, but this is actual science, and became the basis for my first Dan Forrester thriller, Spare Me The Truth.  If scientists can remove a specific memory from the brains of rats while leaving the rest of the animals’ memories intact, why not humans?

I love true-life stories.  They are oxygen to my creative mind and if I didn’t listen half as well, I have no doubt I wouldn’t hear quite as much.

©CJ Carver 2017

About the Author:

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CJ Carver is a half-English, half-kiwi, author living just outside Bath. She lived in Australia for ten years before taking up long-distance rally driving – she has driven London to Saigon, London to Cape Town, and completed 14,500 miles on the Inca Trail.

Since then she has written nine critically acclaimed novels that have been published in the UK, USA and translated into several languages.  CJ’s first novel Blood Junction won the CWA Debut Dagger and was short listed for the USA Barry Award for Best Crime Fiction Novel of the Year.  Spare Me the Truth, the first in the Forrester and Davies series, was shortlisted for the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Best Crime Novel Award.

Know Me Now isn’t quite out yet, but the good news is you can preorder the ebook which is out on the 14th December, or the Paperback which is out on 11th January 2018 from Amazon here or Waterstones here.

To find out more about CJ Carver follow her on Twitter at @C_J_Carver.

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

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Chiller Review: All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

All the wicked girls

Blurb:

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

Summer lives in the dark, depressing small town of Grace, Alabama. She is a gifted student, the centre of her family’s hopes and dreams. Her twin-sister Raine is the complete opposite – a problem teenager who tends to get herself mixed up in all kinds of trouble, just like her father. But when Summer goes missing one day, Raine must push her troubled life to the side for Summer – because Raine vows to find her sister no matter the cost.

What I say:

I absolutely adored this book and can only describe it as a chillingly addictive masterpiece.

This story is told from Summer’s point of view in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, Raine’s view point set in the present day and Noah. I thought the author managed to capture the voice of each character and managed all three narratives very well.

One of the stand out things for me in this novel was the setting which had a very strong sense of place and really comes to life for me in this novel. The author does a fantastic job of creating a chilling, claustrophobic, bleak and religious backwater town in America. This also becomes apparent through the characters and the harsh climate they are in – there has been a steady decline in employment causing a lot of the townsfolk to survive on scraps of food and struggling to live as the area becomes more and more poverty-stricken. With nothing but their wits to survive, many of the characters in the town turns to religion which has them believing the down-turn in weather is really the apocalypse reeking vengeance.

Within this environment is Raine, Noah and his best friend Purv all trying to find Summer while hiding secrets of their own. I loved all three of these teenage characters who each have a really strong voice while facing up to the many secrets which are slowly revealed over the course of the book.

This is such a compulsive read, with its brilliant characterisation, dark themes and strong setting which really came to life for me. I would definitely recommend for anyone who loves a dark thriller.

Big thanks to Emily Burns and Bonnier and Zaffre Books for an ARC.

All The Wicked Girls is out now and be purchased via Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Chris Whitaker follow him on Twitter at @WhittyAuthor .

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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