Blog Tour Q&A: Wrong Way Home by Isabelle Grey

Today, I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on the Blog Tour for Wrong Way Home by Isabelle Grey, published by Quercus. For the tour I have an interview with the author herself discussing her new novel, her writing process and what she’s writing next.

The Blurb:

A cold case leads DI Grace Fisher on the hunt for the most dangerous killer of her career – but after twenty-five years, can she really be sure she will get to the truth?

The same night a local hero saved two people from the burning Marineland resort in Southend, a young woman was raped and murdered minutes from the scene of the fire, the culmination of a series of brutal rapes in the town. The killer was never found.

Twenty-five years on, new DNA techniques have blown the cold case open. DI Grace Fisher relishes the prospect of finally catching the culprit, but when the evidence doesn’t point to one clear suspect, she must reconstruct the original investigation. Any suggestion that the Essex force was less than thorough at the time could alienate her colleagues and destroy her chances of reaching the truth.

Grace finds her investigation shadowed by a young true-crime podcaster backed by veteran crime reporter Ivo Sweatman. As pressure mounts she cannot afford to be distracted. She knows that a cold-blooded killer is slowly being backed into a corner, and a cornered predator is often the most dangerous of all…

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The Interview:

Welcome to the CKT blog, Isabelle.

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your novel, Wrong Way Home and what inspired the idea behind this investigation?

I became hooked on what it must be like for the police to go knocking on someone’s door after twenty-five years and say: you know why we’re here, don’t you? It’s an extraordinary moment for the detective and a life-changing event for the suspect who thinks he’s got away with his crimes, as well as for his family who might have no idea of who he really is. A lot can have happened in the intervening twenty-five years.

It occurred to me that this kind of story would also make a great true-crime podcast, so I introduced Freddie Craig, a young man desperate to break into crime reporting.

The whole book then slowly unfolded from there – with a fair bit of expert advice along the way.

Your novel features a cold case set twenty-five years ago. Did you find it difficult to research what the original investigation would have been like and insert this into a modern day investigation?

I’m old enough to remember how violence against women used to be handled. I remember, for example, Roger Graef’s hard-hitting 1982 TV documentary series Police which revealed how appallingly rape victims were treated, and also the shock of the first series of Prime Suspect, which showed the prejudice against a female officer in a senior role. A little later Jackie Malton, the DCI on whom Prime Suspect was based, became a friend, so I’ve learnt a great deal from her experience.

Plus, when DI Grace Fisher has to do the dogged police work that wasn’t done at the time, I loved showing how such painstaking door-to-door detail can pay off just as much as cutting-edge forensic science

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

There are events in Grace’s past that make her root for the victim, to be sceptical about the powers-that-be, and, if necessary, to defy the official ‘line’ to get to the truth. Although she’d hate the idea of being some wounded ‘noir’ maverick, she nonetheless senses that she will always be a bit of an outsider. This makes her value the friends she has – even the loyal but disreputable tabloid crime reporter Ivo Sweatman. Grace has learnt not to care if she breaks the rules, but it’s not second nature – as it’s not for many women brought up to be ‘good’ girls.

Wrong Way Home is the fourth book in the DI Grace Fisher series. How do you manage to keep your series so fresh and exciting?

I suppose that fifteen years as a freelance journalist taught me to keep my antennae alive to what’s going on in the world and especially to shifts in attitude or understanding. Now I can’t help but let that awareness seep into what I’m writing, even unconsciously. Crime fiction has always been good at reflecting social shifts as they happen, and I also really admire TV series such as The Good Wife – now The Good Fight – that snatch hot new issues and feed them straight into drama. That’s exciting.

Can you tell us about your writing process; do you plot the story out first or just dive right in? Or a mixture of the two?

A mixture of the two. I have a good idea of what the set-up is and roughly where I’m going to take it, do enough research to open some unexpected  avenues, and then start writing. Sometimes I have to unpick and go back a bit before I can go forwards again, but it’s worth it.

What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

I’ve recently read Don Winslow’s The Force, which was a real moral and emotional rollercoaster. He brings the reader right up close alongside his protagonist, New York Detective Sergeant Denny Malone, so you feel the full tragic power of his story. I also love going back to earlier classics, everything from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca to Dorothy B. Hughes In A Lonely Place.

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’m taking a little break from Grace Fisher to return to psychological suspense, writing a novel about women, ambition and motherhood. It’s inspired by a kind of mash-up of all my favourite post-war ‘noir’ movies, and by the spirit of the great screen actresses of that era.

Big thanks to Isabelle for letting me pick her brains!

Thank you, Rachel!

Also big thanks to Anne Cater and Quercus for inviting me to be a part of this fab tour.

About the Author:

Isabelle Grey Author Picture

Isabelle Grey is a television screenwriter whose credits include Jimmy McGovern’s BAFTA award-winning Accused: Tina’s Story as well as over thirty-five episodes of Midsomer MurdersCasualtyRosemary and ThymeThe Bill and Wycliffe. She has also written non-fiction and been a magazine editor and freelance journalist. Isabelle’s previous novels include two psychological thrillers, The Bad Mother and Out Of Sight as well as the first two books in the DI Grace Fisher series, Good Girls Don’t Die, Shot Through the Heart and The Special Girls. Isabelle grew up in Manchester and now lives in north London.

To find out more about Isabelle Grey follow her on twitter @IsabelleGrey.

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

Wrong Way Home is the fourth in the DI Grace Fisher series and can be ordered from Amazon here.

As always don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this fabulous 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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Blog Tour Q&A: Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb

Today, I’m delighted to be hosting the next stop on the Blog Tour for Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb, published by Orenda Books. For the tour I have a cheeky Q&A with Lori Anderson – the main protagonist from this novel and the series – where I am a ‘reporter’ asking Lori some difficult questions…

First up the blurb:

Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row.

Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free. Teaming up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor threatens to put the whole job in danger.

But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything…

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Location:  The Hinkey Harlow bourbon bar, Jacksonville, in Florida

Interviewer: Rachel Emms, (RE), Reporter.

Interviewee: Lori Anderson, (LA), Bounty Hunter

RE: [I open the conversation up as Lori is taking a sip from her glass of Bourbon. The whisky in here isn’t half bad.] Bounty Hunting is a pretty dangerous job for a woman, how did you get mixed up in it all?

LA: It’s kind of a long story, and not one I chose to dwell on real often. The how and the why of it isn’t something I like to talk about, so all I’ll say is that it had to do with the death of my best friend Sal.

RE: Don’t you think it’s a job better left to the men?

LA: No, why, do you? A lot of the job is about finding a person who doesn’t want to get caught – tracking them and getting a fix on their location – your gender doesn’t matter, you just need to be street smart and savvy. On the physical side, oftentimes I think there’s things a woman will do different for sure, but that doesn’t mean we’re any less capable than the men. In fact, it’s exactly your kind of attitude that lets us female bounty hunters get close to our targets before they realise who and what we are. Being female makes fugitives less likely to view us as a threat – something real easy to use to swing the advantage our way.

RE: Your daughter, Dakota, how is she feeling after recent events? She’s not traumatised is she is? [I wouldn’t be surprised if she was.]

LA: [Lori narrows her eyes]. Why she’s doing just fine, thank you for asking.

RE: [I can sense a shift in tension, I better get her off the subject of her daughter.] You seem like a fearless woman, but what’s your biggest fear?

LA: Nobody is fearless, and those that say they are, well, they’re either lying to themselves or just as dumb as a stump. I’m fearful on every job I do. My biggest fear is that something will go wrong and I won’t get to go home to my daughter. But that doesn’t mean the fear is bad. You need the fear, I reckon. It’s what keeps you on your guard, ready to react to whatever the job throws your way. And that focus it gives you? Well, that’s what keeps you alive, honey.

RE: What exactly is your relationship with that hunk, JT? [I twirl my pencil around in my hand. I really hope she answers.]

LA: That’s a complicated question. The short answer is a matter of public record these days – he’s my ex-mentor, the man who taught me everything I know about the bounty hunting business. He’s also the father of my child, Dakota. We didn’t see each other for ten years, but that changed recently when fate kind of threw us together. Now he’s in jail and, like I said, things have gotten real complicated. You want more detail than that? Well, if you want the long answer you’re going to need to buy me a whole lot more bourbon.

RE: [I lean forward, surprised at her honesty.] How do you feel now that JT has been taken in by the Feds? Must be hard… I believe he’s on death row for killing a fella. Do you think you can save him?

LA: I won’t say too much about the Feds. There’s a situation in play that’s sensitive an all, so I can’t be talking details to you. Just know that I can’t let them put him on death row. It cannot be allowed to happen. Whatever it takes I’m going to get him free.

RE: What’s it like teaming up with Dez McGregor, I understand you’re not quite getting on at the moment? I mean he’s no JT now is he?

LA: JT is unique – a pure one-of-a-kind kind of guy – so there’s just no way someone like McGregor could measure up to him. McGregor has specific skills I need for the job I’m doing though, so I’m doing my best to get along with him without rubbing his fur all backwards, but it’s pretty damn hard. The thing is, he’s got the same attitude as you, he doesn’t seem to think a woman should be working as a bounty hunter either. And of course I can’t let that kind of view stand, now can I?

RE: [I sense the interview is coming to an end. I decide to ask a risky question.] Finally, how did you get mixed up with Alex Monroe, my sources tell me he isn’t exactly kosher….

LA: Well aren’t you real persistent, asking me about this job all manner of ways trying to get yourself an answer! Well, seeing as you have a bit of spirit I’ll tell you… Special Agent Monroe came to me when I was in a real fix and offered me a deal. I had prior knowledge of a fugitive he was after and he thought I could be valuable in hunting them down. He said that if I catch Gibson Fletcher before he flees to Mexico he can help me get JT’s name cleared. Well, I was all out of options so I took the deal. Now all that remains to be seen is whether I can find Fletcher in time. But, as you know, I’m sure going to try my damnedest.

RE: It’s at that point that Lori drains the rest of her drink, gets up from the booth and leaves the bar. I didn’t even get to say thanks.

Curious about finding out more about Lori, JT and Dakota? All you need to do is purchase a copy, which I would highly recommend this as I love this series.

To order Deep Blue Trouble from Amazon just click here or to order this from Waterstones click here.

About the Author:

Steph Broadribb

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most
of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego –
Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging
at http://www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the
latest releases. Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction)
at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She
lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Her debut
thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in
two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts.

To find out more about Steph Broadribb, aka Crime Thriller Girl, follow her on twitter @crimethrillgirl.

Big thanks to Steph for answering my questions and to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for inviting me to the tour.

As always, don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this epic blog tour!

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Blog Tour: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

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

First up is the blurb:

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

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

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

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Welcome to the CKT blog, Gillian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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