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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