#BlogTour | #GuestPost: After the Affair by Jonathan Kaye (@JonathanKaye000) @baattyabtbooks

after the affair cover.jpgDo you like a book with a gripping story? A page-turner you can’t put down? A book with believable characters, a twisty yet credible plot and an easy-to-read pace? If that’s you, then this thriller set in Dublin should be right up your street. 

“University Lecturer David Ryan is having an affair. And he thinks no-one knows. 

He’s wrong. Someone does know. And that someone is out to blackmail him.

But when the blackmail attempt goes wrong, both Ryan and the blackmailer find themselves dragged into an underground (and decidedly seedy) world of secrets, lies and violence. A world where no-one can be trusted and everyone has something to hide.

Set in modern-day Dublin, ‘After the Affair’ is the unputdownable debut thriller from author Jonathan Kaye.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the After the Affair blog tour. My thanks to Helen at baattyaboutbooks for asking me to be involved.  After the Affair is author Jonathan Kaye’s debut novel and I, for one, am extremely excited to read it.  So far the reviews from fellow book bloggers and reviewers have been fantastic and they know what they’re talking about, let me tell you!

In celebration of this rather wonderful blog tour I have a fantastic booky focussed guest post from Jonathan Kaye to share with you today (I do love a guest post!).  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Jonathan…

A Blast from the Past

I once had very little money. Actually I still have very little money. But at this particular time in my life I had even less. I had a nice car though. (Which, in itself, was the reason I had very little money!)

Anyway, with my cash-flow limitations being what they were, my evenings were rather, well, free I guess you might say. The whole notion of going out to a pub or a restaurant or a cinema was something neither I nor my bank balance could countenance with a straight face. Indeed, if I even attempted to slot my cash-card into an ATM to check my funds, the machine would just spit it back out and ‘LOL’ would appear on the screen.

I worked in ‘The Works’ for £3.70 an hour. (Showing my age now, I know!!) Surrounded by books, stationery and, I have to say, amazing people. Oh, and occasionally very odd customers. “Do you sell cigarettes?” “Do you cut keys?” “Can I have two cornettos and a chocolate magnum please?” One’s best option was to smile, shake one’s head and say ‘No, I’m sorry.’ (Though I never quite understood why I was the one who ended up apologising for their obvious lack of brain equipment – but hey, I learned to let it go!)

I remember in particular the run up to Christmas being an epic, almost impossible, task. My colleagues and I were like a team of antarctic explorers with depleted food stocks and insufficient protection from the elements, battling the constant blizzard of last minute shoppers to reach our longed for destination of the South Pole – or 6pm Christmas Eve as we called it. Seriously, Shackleton, Scott and Crean had nothing on us. And when we made it to our Christmas Eve destination, we collapsed, exhausted but joyous, ready to celebrate our one single day of freedom before the Sales brought our respite to an abrupt and anti-climactic end. Oh retail joy, how I don’t miss you!

(It was in Milton Keynes by the way. And I know for a fact that the manager I worked for is still there. She’s a wonderful person so if you do happen to pop in to that particular store, tell her JK says hello – and when she looks at you blankly, just say the lanky Irish bloke who worked here in the mid-nineties…)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, evenings. My evenings were never going to amount to much in a social sense. To be honest, even if I’d wanted to go somewhere in my very nice car I’d hardly have managed to stump up for the fuel – which I soon realised rendered the concept of having a nice car rather pointless, but that’s a conversation for another day. Instead, my evenings (and remember we’re talking pre-internet here, pre-facebook, wow, imagine!) meant I had plenty of time on my hands. So I used that time to read. Yep, I read. A lot. An awful lot. I treated the bookshop like my own personal library. Now, don’t worry, I never damaged a single spine or marked a single page. In fact, I was so stealthy in my reading habits that no unsuspecting customer would ever have questioned the assumed virginity of their newly acquired book even after my grubby paws had been all over it. (Ugh, I’ll change that sentence before I share this piece on-line don’t worry ….. Ooops, too late!)

I devoured books, lots and lots and lots of books. But to this day, more that 20 years later, one particular novel still sticks in my mind. It was probably the first book I read where I experienced that ‘OMG sweet suffering jeeeeebers’ feeling as I turned the last few pages and found out what the previous few hundred had been leading up to. It was called ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ by Alan Folsom. Published in 1994 I think. And it was an epic read!

So if you like an good page-turning thriller and you’ve never read it, grab yourself a copy. You won’t be disappointed. Y’know, now that I think about it, I might even read it again myself sometime!

OK, I admit it.  I actually spat my tea out all over the keyboard when Jonathan mentioned using The Works as his own personal library.  Absolutely brilliant.  And how many UK based book fanatics haven’t dreamt of doing that at one time or another…?  Hmmm…? My thanks to Jonathan Kaye for such a humourous and interesting guest post.  And of course for the book recommendation!

After the Affair by Jonathan Kaye was published in the UK on 6th November 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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j kaye.jpgJonathan Kaye is a stay-at-home dad who decided to write a thriller when his son started school. The house was tidy by ten every morning so what else was he gonna do till, like, three? Apart from drink coffee with moms – which he is very good at by the way.

It took him a while to figure out the plot. He even had to use google to find out what policemen and judges and people like that did. Characters were easier. He just based one of them on himself and all the others on people he knew. Seriously it’s what all writers do. Why do you think Stephen King’s protagonist is invariably a novelist?

Three years after starting out, he wrote the words ‘The End.’ It was quite the experience. Then he proofread and proofread and proofread again … but he knows there might still be one or two typos and he asks you to not be too upset by the fact.

Finally, he’s sitting here now wondering why he’s writing about himself in the third person. It is making him feel important and aloof though!

Author Links: | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Boundary by Andrée A Michaud @noexitpress #BoundaryBook

boundary.jpg“It’s the Summer of 1967.

The sun shines brightly over Boundary lake, a holiday haven on the US-Canadian border. Families relax in the heat, happy and carefree. Hours tick away to the sound of radios playing ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ and ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’.  Children run along the beach as the heady smell of barbecues fills the air.

Zaza Mulligan and Sissy Morgan, with their long, tanned legs and silky hair, relish their growing reputation as the red and blond Lolitas. Life seems idyllic.

But then Zaza disappears, and the skies begin to cloud over..”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Boundary blog tour.  And it’s UK publication day for author Andrée A. Michaud and the lovely folk at No Exit Press.  You lucky people can purchase a copy of Boundary in either hardcover or eBook format today!

To celebrate Boundary’s release in the UK I have a fantastic guest post from Andrée A. Michaud to share with you.  So without further ado, I’ll hand to Andrée…

What’s Boundary about

 People often ask me, ‘what’s Boundary about?’. It’s never easy to answer what a fictional book is about without betraying its secrets. Novels are complete by themselves and if you try to summarise them, to rend their color in just a few words, you run the risk of missing the essential; that is to say, the atmosphere.

Having said which, I will play the part and try my best to do just that, and maybe, just maybe, I will pick up some new readers along the way:

Boundary, as its title suggests, is first and foremost a book about barriers, all kinds of barriers, between men and women, childhood and adulthood, countries, cultures, languages and, finally, between good and evil.

Boundary is also a book about the loss of paradise, of all paradises in fact, when men, who stupidly want to make those paradises better, slowly transform them into hell. It’s what happens in Boundary. The place is an Eden from which men are finally and inevitably expelled, because men are not able to survive in such a wild place, the violence of which mirrors their own, and because Nature always, in the end, chases away those who are spoiling or destroying her very essence.

In this sense, Boundary is a book about wilderness – its strength, its beauty, its self-reliance – and about wildness – of men, of war, of men when war destroy them and drives them mad. But I want to be clear here: there is no war in Boundary, except the war raging between a man and himself and his memories.

Boundary is also book about the Sixties, about the culture of those years, about the wind of liberty which was then blowing, about the evolution of mentalities, the timid apparition of feminism in the daily life of the middle class, etc. In a way this novel is, for me, full of nostalgia, because the Sixties were the years of my childhood, the most beautiful years of my life, before the death of my father, when I was ten. Andrée, one of the narrators, witnesses this period, and for her the summer of ‘67 is a time of transition, the moment at which she will have to say goodbye to her innocence. In a way, you could say that Boundary is a coming-of-age novel, in which the little Andrée learns the meaning of the words death, absence, forever.

Finally, Boundary is a book about solidarity, and about the frailty of solidarity when drama touches a little community in which everyone knows everyone, and when the person at the origin of that drama could be anyone: your father, your brother, your son or your neighbour.

***

I am so excited to read Boundary.  Even more so after reading this fabulous guest post from the author.  There are so many interesting themes running through the story that make it sound just my sort of read.  I’m excited, are you?

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(c) Marianne Deschenes

 

Andrée A Michaud is a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction (Le Ravissement in 2001 and Bondrée in 2014) and the recipient of the Arthur Ellis Award and the Prix Saint-Pacôme for best crime novel for Bondrée, as well as the 2006 Prix Ringuet for Mirror Lake (adapted for the big screen in 2013). As she has done since her very first novel, Michaud fashions an eminently personal work that never ceases to garner praise from critics and avid mystery readers alike. In 2010, her thriller Lazy Bird, set to the rhythms of jazz, was published by Les Éditions du Seuil in France, as part of the Point Noir Collection.

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Deadly Game by Matt Johnson (@Matt_Johnson_UK) @OrendaBooks

Deadly Game cover.jpeg“Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.”

‘Utterly compelling and dripping with authenticity. This summer’s must-read thriller’ J S Law, author of Tenacity • ‘Nothing is clear-cut in a gripping labyrinthine plot, which – despite thrills and spills aplenty – never falls short of believable’ David Young, author of Stasi Child • ‘Terse, tense and vivid writing. Matt Johnson is a brilliant new name in the world of thrillers’ Peter James

FOR FANS OF Lee Child, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Brad Thor and Vince Flynn

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Deadly Game blog tour which I share with the very lovely Karen over at My Reading Corner.  Karen’s blog is one of my very favourites so please give her a follow, if you don’t already.

Deadly Game is the second book in the Robert Finlay series, is written by author Matt Johnson and published by the lovely folk at Orenda Books.  To celebrate it’s publication on 15th March 2017 I have a fabulous guest post from Matt Johnson to share with you (I do love a guest post!).  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Matt…

Matt Johnson – a day in the life

As I looked forward to my retirement, I anticipated easy going days in front of the fire reading a book, time to pursue hobbies and catching up on those little jobs that I never seem to find the time to complete. I didn’t anticipate that I might start a new career.

When I sat down to have a go at writing a book, I really did think ‘How hard can it be?’ That shows how little I knew. With the book complete and, to my satisfaction, self-published, I sat back to enjoy the pocket money that appeared each month in my bank account. Then, everything changed. A published author read the book, his agent got in touch. I went up to London for ‘a chat’.

And now, two years later I have two books published by Orenda and a third in creation. I’ve been to festivals, events and book signings. I’ve given talks and have now been signed up – by the same agency representing Idris Elba – to do more public speaking. This is no longer the retirement I foresaw.

That said, I’m not complaining. Although I feel a little like a novice surfer riding a perfect wave that might crash down at any moment in an explosion of froth, I’m enjoying the ride. But my routine, well that has certainly changed.

Being a cop, I was used to being self-motivated and disciplined. Just as well, as it’s something you have to be when you spend your writing life on your own with only the dogs and your ‘imaginary friends’ for company. I never have been particularly good in the mornings – 6am starts in the Met were always a struggle – so I tend to start my day at about 8.

Almost without exception I start with a brew. It’s a habit that started in the military and continued in the police. Forty years later, it’s not going to change. Then, after a shower it’s out with the dogs, whatever the weather. I really enjoy walking, it clears the mind and sets you up for the day. If I have a plot idea to mull over or an idea comes to me I use the digital recorder that I normally carry. If I forget it, I fret until I can write as soon as I return home.

Working days start with email and social media. I like to clear this first so that once I start to write, I can continue without interruption. Writing can take many forms, sometimes it’s a talk, or an article. Other times it may be something such as a media campaign. It’s not always what I should be focusing on – the next book.

If I’m not in a frame of mind to write, I read. Not just books, I research on the net, read social media and read magazines.

Once writing, I hope to get into the groove. By that I mean the state of mind I believe all authors experience where you are away in this fictional world of your own creation, struggling to get the words down as fast as your imagination is forming them. When this happens, I lose track of time and woe betide anyone who telephones or calls at the house – I hate breaking off.

I tend to do my best creative work into the evenings, which means I don’t watch a great deal of television. I might break off for the news, or Match of the Day, but little else. Food? Well, that can be something of a luxury. I enjoy cooking, and a love eating. But managing the time to think about cooking? Now, that’s a much harder proposition. And, as the evening wears on, if I realise there won’t be enough time to explore the story thread I am working on, I write notes, an aide memoire to picking the story up the next day.

To write, I use an old pc. I sit at an oak desk – also old – on my favourite chair, also old. A bit like me, really. I swear if typewriters were capable of saving your work I would still be using one. I two-finger type, so not very fast and not terribly accurate. As a result, I have to do a lot of re-reading. But, that’s one thing I have learned – first drafts don’t need to be perfect, they just have to be written.

***

Brilliant post, thank you Matt.  Always interesting to see how an author organises their time and motivates themselves to write.

Deadly Game by Matt Johnson was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Matt2016.jpegMatt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Dead Embers by Matt Brolly (@MatthewBrolly) @canelo_co

“An explosive fire. A double murder. And that’s just the start

When DCI Michael Lambert is called out to an apparent house fire, he knows it can’t be routine. Instead he finds the remains of a burnt house, a traumatised child and two corpses – one of whom is a senior police officer.

Lambert’s got other problems. Anti-corruption are onto his boss. His relationships is on the rocks. He can’t get over his ex-wife and he keeps blacking out.

But when a detective has been murdered the stakes are too high to get distracted. All is not as it seems. As the investigation continues Lambert realises he is getting drawn into something altogether bigger and more terrifying than he could ever have imagined…

Trust no one.”

I am delighted to be one of two blogs hosting the Dead Embers blog tour today.  Dead Embers is written by author Matt Brolly and is the third book in the DCI Michael Lambert series.  I haven’t had the chance to read Matt’s books yet but I do have book one in the DCI Lambert series, Dead Eyed on my #terrifyingTBR.  So watch this space for a review!

To celebrate the release of Dead Embers I have a rather brilliant guest post from Matt to share with you today.  Over to Matt..

How to Write to a Deadline.

‘I love deadlines. I like the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’ Douglas Adams.

First of all, a big thank you to Emma from the wonderful damppebbles book blog for hosting me today on day two of the Dead Embers tour. With every release I’m continually amazed and humbled by the terrific response from bloggers and readers and it is hugely appreciated. Now to the matter at end, how to write to a deadline. First a cup of coffee….

Okay, I’m back! Some writers are rather good at procrastination. I’m seventy-eight words into this article already and I’m yet to address the question. How to write to a deadline? Hmmm. Tricky. More coffee, I think.

The simple answer would be to plan months ahead. To make mini deadlines for the first draft, second draft, twentieth draft, structural edits, line edits, proofread etc… but unfortunately a writer’s life is not so simple. It’s easy to say I’m going to write 2,000 words a day over a fifty-day period – I know it is because I say it to myself every time I start a new novel, yet fifty days later I’m rarely more than a quarter way through a first draft. Try as I might, life gets in the way. As does the complications of writing a novel.  Plan as I might, a novel has a way of taking its own direction. I find I have to rewrite the draft plan every two or three chapters, and the finished book is never as I initially envisaged.

And did I mention the procrastination? It is so easy to do anything but write. Make coffee, surf the internet (for research, obviously), tidy the house (though my wife would argue there is not much evidence for this), sleep. Working alone means there is no boss watching you’re every move. You have to be disciplined, manage your time, make sure you hit those word count deadlines every day… but there is a big television downstairs with a film you recorded last night waiting for you…

Good film.

I’m not complaining, you understand. It is a privilege to be a writer. It’s hard work, but then all jobs are. Citing procrastination is cop-out, obviously. It’s a hurdle you have to overcome. My advice: if Facebook or Twitter keeps calling, switch off the internet. If the television, or your bed, is too much of a lure, work in a library or coffee shop. If you’re deadline is fast approaching – work harder!

As I write the last words of this article (which needs to be sent over to Emma by yesterday) I have to admit there is no hard or fast rules for writing to a deadline. All I can say is that after writing for nearly twenty years with no deadline in sight, having a deadline is the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced in my writing life. And if my publishers (past or present) or agent is reading this, then I apologise for every time (only a handful, I’m sure) I’ve asked for a tiny extension!

***

Absolutely love it, thank you Matt.  And it’s true, it was a close call with the delivery of this post.  No harm done though.  It’s up and on the blog at exactly the right time.  All deadlines met!

Dead Embers by Matt Brolly was published in the UK by Canelo on 6th March 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He reads widely across all genres, and is currently working on the third in his Michael Lambert thriller series. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Sealskin by Su Bristow (@SuBristow) @OrendaBooks #Sealskin

Sealskin cover.jpg“What happens when magic collides with reality? Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous … and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.”

I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the Sealskin blog tour today alongside the lovely Steph over at Stephs Book Blog.  Sealskin was the winner of the Exeter Novel Prize in 2013 and is the work of author and Consultant Medical Herbalist, Su Bristow.  What an amazing achievement!  Sealskin will be published in paperback by the wonderful Orenda Books on 15th February 2017 so make sure you pre-order your copy NOW!

Today I have a fascinating guest post from author, Su Bristow.  Seeing as it’s day one of the blog tour, Su and I thought it best to start at the very beginning with a few words explaining the Selkie legend, which the book is based upon.  So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Su…

The Foundations of Sealskin
Su Bristow

First of  all, here is the version of the story that was the starting point for Sealskin:

THE LEGEND

Once, there was a fisherman who spent many nights fishing alone. One night at full moon, he witnessed a marvel: nine seals came ashore, put off their skins and became beautiful young women, dancing on the beach. The fisherman hid himself, and as he watched, he began to fall in love with one of them. Secretly, he hid her sealskin, so that when the others returned to the sea, she was left behind.

The fisherman took her home to be his wife, and he hid the skin at the bottom of a chest. They lived together for some years, and she bore him children. She seemed to be happy, but from time to time she would look out to sea and weep.

One day while he was out at sea, one of the children found the skin and showed it to his mother. When the fisherman returned at the end of the day, she was gone, and he never saw her again.

Stories about Selkies, or seals who can turn into people, are found along the coasts of Ireland, Scotland, Orkney and Shetland, and across the sea in Iceland and Scandinavia too. In fact, the word ‘selkie’ is just the Orcadian word for ‘seal’, but it’s come to be used particularly for these shape-shifting beings. And the stories vary from place to place, although they generally don’t end happily. It seems that selkie men and women are irresistible to the humans who encounter them, and they always fall in love. Male selkies are very willing to ‘mate’ with humans, but they won’t stay long, and always go back to the sea. Females, on the other hand, have to be tricked into it by hiding their sealskins; given the chance, they too will return to their natural element.

It’s interesting that whereas most mythological creatures are dangerous to us humans, selkies are usually gentle. Perhaps I strayed a little from tradition when I gave Mairhi some magic of her own; although she never uses it to attack anybody, she can certainly defend herself if need be. But the stories don’t go into much detail about how the marriage between the fisherman and the selkie woman actually worked, and that was what interested me. You wouldn’t expect any relationship to be possible after such a horrible start! So I added a few twists, which I won’t go into now because I don’t want to spoil the story for people who haven’t read it yet, except to say that almost immediately, Donald knows that what he did was wrong. And really, the whole story is about how he tries to make amends, and how that changes him and everyone else around him.

Going back to the legend, on a more general level it’s about how humans want to ‘own’ the wildness of nature. All over the world, people tell stories about interactions with animals and birds. Whether they really believe it on the practical level or not, they certainly portray animals as having minds and feelings of their own. Is it just us projecting ourselves onto the natural world, or is there a deeper truth there? The more we learn about animals, the more like us they turn out to be.

Maybe the selkies tell stories about us, too.

***

An absolutely enchanting post, thank you Su.  And congratulations on the wonderful praise you have received so far.  I’ve seen many bloggers say that Sealskin is one of their books of 2017.  What a fantastic way to start the year.

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Early Praise for Sealskin…

Sealskin is an accomplished and intelligent novel, a fine piece of craftsmanship and a pleasure to read’ Allan Massie

‘Bristow has taken a known myth, and created an enthralling, human love story.  A profound achievement, and a stunning debut’ Richard Bean

‘An extraordinary book: original, vivid, tender and atmospheric. Su Bristow’s writing is fluid and flawless, and this is a story so deeply immersive that you emerge at the end, gasping for air’ Iona Grey

‘I love books in which magic takes on a gritty reality, and Sealskin is just such a book. Dark and brooding and half-familiar, the tale steals over you till you’re half-in, half-out of a dream’ Jane Johnson

‘An evocative story, told with skill and beauty, that held me spellbound until the very last page’ Amanda Jennings

‘On the face of it, Sealskin is a gentle tale, a lovely reworking of the selkie legend many of us have known and loved since childhood. Do not be fooled, dear reader; beneath this simple re-imagining lies a story as deep as the ocean the selkie comes from. I was captivated from the first page to the poignant last one, by the sympathetically drawn characters and a mesmerising sense of place. In between are moments of tragedy, moments of grace and redemption; the whole wrapped in Su Bristow’s charismatic writing. This is a story that catches on the edge of your heart, leaving tiny scars; reminders of a journey into a beloved legend, the human lives caught up in it and the consequences of the choices they make. It is, quite simply, exceptional’ Carole Lovekin

‘In this achingly beautiful retelling of the classic Scottish folk tale, Su Bristow brings psychological depth and great warmth to the characters, making the ending all the more heart-breaking. It’s a story about the tensions of life in a tiny fishing community, about bullying and violence as well as the healing magic of nature. It’s written smoothly and skilfully with not a word too many or a word too few. I absolutely loved it and can’t recommend it highly enough’ Gill Paul

‘A beautiful and bewitching read that haunted my thoughts for days. The sense of the sea, of this small community, of guilt is palpable. This is one of those books you place reverentially on your bookcase and envy those who are yet to dive in’ Michael J. Malone

Sealskin is the most exquisite tale of love, forgiveness and magic. Inspired by the legends of the selkies, this gorgeous novel is a dark fairy tale, an ode to traditional storytelling, a tribute to the stories we loved hearing as children. But be warned – this is no happy-ever-after tale. The language is just glorious, poetic and rich but precise. And her characters – oh, they will remain in your heart long after you’ve closed the last page. Mairhi – especially since she never really “speaks” – is a beautiful mystery, but one who haunted me when I was between chapters. If this is her first, then I can’t wait to read whatever Su Bristow bestows upon the literary world next’ Louise Beech

‘Ms Bristow’s skill in weaving a centuries-old tale into a current-day fiction novel and binding the two together is simply superbly done. Sealskin is boldly written, brilliantly told and a tale of legendary proportions’ JM Hewitt

Sealskin is a magical and moral tale woven with a deft hand’ Sara MacDonald

‘With its beautiful language and magical storytelling, Sealskin is a clear winner for me’ Sophie Duffy

Sealskin is exquisitely written with haunting prose and evocative descriptions of the Scottish landscape. It’s filled with beauty, surprises and subtle twists and turns. There’s a mesmerising love story at its heart.  I really didn’t want the story to end, and felt bereft when it did, surrounded by boxes of tissues. I’m sure I’ll be reading this book several times to feel that magic again and again. It’s no surprise that Su Bristow is an Exeter Novel Prize winner. Her writing is beautiful and this book is stunning. Sealskin is destined to go far’ Off-the-Shelf Books

Sealskin really is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read … a flowing tale of love, friendship, acceptance and coming of age for the varying characters.  Set against the ruggedly beautiful Scottish backdrop, the vivid descriptions draw us in, detail oozing from the pages and giving the reader a chance to feel the coastal winds whipping at their faces, taste the salt in the air, feel the uneven terrain underfoot as they clamber through the heather and over rocks. There’s a magic in these pages … poetic and hauntingly beautiful’ The Quiet Knitter

‘A compelling and beautifully written book. At one level Sealskin is a delightful re-working of the selkie myth. But it is also a great deal more than that … The fishing village is a close knit community wary of incomers, the suspicion with which they greet Maihri is typical of how they behave. Strangers, especially ones who are a little out of the ordinary, are not made entirely welcome. It is a story of how relationships develop and grow. Sealskin is a quite delightful and extraordinarily well-written book. Highly recommended’ Trip Fiction

‘A sensuous and beautifully written retelling of the Selkie legend which captivated me’ Margaret James, Creative Writing Matters

’I knew this was special, right from the first paragraph. A beautiful book written with a deceptive simplicity. But Su Bristow does not shy away from asking some very big questions. How can a man atone for violence? Will he ever be forgiven? Will he ever forgive himself? Utterly spellbinding’ Cathie Hartigan

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Su Photo.jpegSu Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She’s the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern. Her published fiction includes ‘Troll Steps’ (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and ‘Changes’ which came second in the 2010 CreativeWritingMatters flash fiction competition. Her forthcoming novel, Sealskin, is set in the Hebrides, and it’s a reworking of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writing has been described as ‘magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey’.

Author Links: Blog | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: The Watcher by Netta Newbound (@nettanewbound) @BloodhoundBook

the watcher cover.jpg“Life couldn’t get much better for Hannah. She accepts her dream job in Manchester, and easily makes friends with her new neighbours.

When she becomes romantically involved with her boss, she can’t believe her luck. But things are about to take a grisly turn.

As her colleagues and neighbours are killed off one by one, Hannah’s idyllic life starts to fall apart. But when her mother becomes the next victim, the connection to Hannah is all too real.

Who is watching her every move?

Will the police discover the real killer in time?

Hannah is about to learn that appearances can be deceptive.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Watcher blog tour.  The Watcher is written by Netta Newbound and was published by the fantastic Bloodhound Books at the end of last month (January 2017).  I have been wanting to read a novel by Netta Newbound for such a long time now so I am rather pleased to have The Watcher loaded onto the Kindle, ready and waiting.  It’s received some wonderful reviews so far and I can’t wait to make a start!

But today, in order to celebrate The Watcher‘s release, I have a fantastic, informative guest post to share with you (I do love a guest post!).  So without further ado, I’ll hand the blog over to Netta…

13 Things I Wish I Had Known BEFORE I Started Writing
Netta Newbound

1 – Writing the book is the easiest part. Anybody who tells you any different is deluded.

2 – The book, no matter how fabulous, will NOT sell itself. Becoming a successful writer isn’t guaranteed. Being a talented writer with a unique voice will NOT automatically launch you onto the New York Times best seller list. It will take weeks, and even months, of self-promotion on social media to sell just one or two copies. You must at all times consider your books as the most exciting read ever, even if you are totally sick of the heroine, the dog, the plot etc. It takes focus, determination and above all a thick skin.

3 – No amount of studying or array of framed fancy diplomas will help if you haven’t got a natural talent for writing. Of course you can always enhance any natural talent you have by extending your knowledge, but not the other way around. You don’t need to be highly educated—anybody can learn punctuation and grammar and if not, they can invest in a good editor. Often it is the financial outlay that stops a budding author in their tracks, so be prepared to forgo a few cappuccinos and even a holiday. The sacrifices will be worth it in the long run.

4 – Not everybody is going to like your writing style. Prepare yourself for the worst reviews and you won’t be disappointed. I’ve found people can be vicious and cruel whilst anonymously slating you from the comfort of their armchair.

5 – Steer clear of asking family members to read your work, at least until it is the best it can possibly be. Your family are there to love and support you. It’s a given their opinions will be biased. So, no matter how glowing the words they use, take them with a pinch of salt and move on.

6 – Hundreds of book sales do not equate to hundreds of reviews. It’s a fact that less than 10% of readers leave a review, so that means more than 90% of people NEVER leave reviews—and you’re more likely to receive a negative review than a positive one from these people. Why? Who knows—who even cares. Suck it up! Being a published author is bloody hard work.

7 – But, there is still hope. The more you write, the better your writing will become. As with anything, practice makes perfect. Make the time to write something every single day. Carry a small notebook in your bag and never be without a pen. Most people procrastinate—make excuses for not actually getting down to writing, from the lighting not being right, to too many people in the house, too noisy, not sitting on your favourite seat, too many distractions and the list goes on and on. So my advice is not to be too precious about where you actually write. If you force yourself to write in a café, or in the car (as a passenger, of course), on the bus/train, in a waiting room, or in the garden, you will never waste what could easily be valuable writing time.

8 – As I mentioned earlier, investing in a good editor is essential. It’s too late to fix any errors after the fact. Any derogatory reviews will stay with your book forever, no matter how many alterations you make. And, even if you are an editor or a keen wordsmith, it is impossible to edit your own books properly. How often have you considered Spell Check your friend—the only editing companion you need? But there’s a limit to how much magic Spell Check can work when its faced with a feast of typos, misspellings and punctuation or homonyms and homophones (words that sound the same but mean something else, to/two/too, their/there/they’re, accept/except, affect/effect) and so on.

9 – Listen to your readers. My first novel Behind Shadows was meant to be a standalone, but my readers fell in love with the detective who was a secondary character, which is how The Adam Stanley Thriller series came about.

10 – There is no right or wrong way to write. Some people start at the first page and write in sequence until they reach The End, they have no idea where the story will take them—this type of writer is known as a Pantser—they write by the seat of their pants. Others may write down the entire sequence of events before they even begin writing—this type of writer is known as a plotter—they will plan out timelines and research fashion and weather conditions of the time or place. Months of research can go into what a reader might think is just a story. Some will write the ending first and then steer their story towards it. Some write chapters out of sequence and piece them all together afterwards. That is more heuristic in style, and yes, I had to research that word. But whatever your style is, just write.

11 – As a writer you will hear lots of dos and don’ts—never use the dreaded ly words, only use said in dialogue, cut out the metaphors and similes, don’t overdo exclamation marks, clichés are evil. While I suggest you take the advice, don’t be too rigid or your writing might lose its flow and become stilted and wooden. The advice is there as a guide only.

12 – Read your work aloud. It’s hard to judge the rhythm of your sentences when reading in your head. You may find that the inflection of just one word changes the whole meaning or intent of the sentence.

13 – Only naive writers think their work is fabulous-doesn’t need editing-doesn’t need a second and third draft or even proofreading prior to publishing. Leave your ego behind. Great writers will doubt and second guess themselves all the time. Yay!!!

***

Thanks so much for the sound advice, Netta.  Some of the points you raise I should take note of myself…such as overdoing exclamation marks!!

The Watcher by Netta Newbound was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 30th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook versions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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netta newbound.jpgNetta Newbound is the author of several best-selling psychological thrillers including An Impossible Dilemma and the Adam Stanley Thriller Series. Originally from Manchester, England, she now lives in New Zealand with her husband Paul and their boxer dog Alfie. She has three grown-up children and three delicious grandchildren.

As a child, Netta was plagued by a wild imagination, often getting in trouble for making up weird and wonderful stories. Yet she didn’t turn her attention to writing until after her children had grown and left home.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell (@Caimh) @McFori_Ink

The Day That Never Comes cover.jpg“Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.

Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy. 

Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence? 

When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?”

The Day That Never Comes is the second book in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Caimh McDonnell back to damppebbles as part of the blog tour for his second book in the Dublin trilogy, The Day That Never Comes.  Caimh McDonnell is no stranger to damppebbles.  He first popped by the blog back in September 2016 when A Man With One of Those Faces was released, with a brilliant guest post about comedic crime.  Then, as we were approaching the end of the year, I took a break from my blog tour reading and read A Man With One of Those Faces which I LOVED.  Click here to read my five star review if you missed it.  If my review piqued your interest then it’s only fair to mention that A Man With One of Those Faces is currently on offer at 99p/99c until Monday 30th January (Amazon UK | Amazon US) so what are you waiting for…?

So today I have another brilliant guest post from Caimh McDonnell to share with you. Without further ado, I’ll hand over to man himself…

Why Do We Hurt the Ones We Love?
Caimh McDonnell

Someone asked me recently if, as an author, you start to feel about your characters how parents feel about their kids.

My answer to that is very definitely not. Through two books, I’ve dreamt up numerous colourful and brutal ways to put my trio of central characters in harm’s way. I’ve no children myself, but if you’re doing that, I strongly suggest having a cup of tea and a very stern word with yourself.

That’s not to say you don’t develop affection for your characters, of course you do. It’s like on every author’s shoulder there’s an angel and a devil, with the devil placing these poor souls in danger and the angel hoping they pull through.

I do most of my ‘thinking stuff through’ while out on my daily walks, it is a great way to clear the head by getting away from that dreaded keyboard. It is on these epic sojourns that I’ve worked out, not just the plot of those two books, but a whole intricate backstory that might not ever make its way onto the page but is never-the-less, valuable stuff. Characters need to feel real, and every real person has defining incidents, both good and bad, lurking somewhere in their past.

For example, one of my characters is called DS Bunny McGarry. He is a fast-talking and foul-mouthed bundle of violent malevolence mixed with an inexplicably appealing level of uncouth charm. I have spent a great deal of time thinking through his history. At this point, I have such a depth of knowledge about his upbringing and the things that happened earlier in his career that if I ever need to assume a new identity to go into hiding, I’ll just become him. (Note to self: Probably shouldn’t have revealed that on a blog, Mafia hitmen might be able to Google.)

In the middle of one of my walks earlier this year, that little devil on my shoulder informed me of an incident that happened to Bunny eighteen years ago. I was so shocked that I stopped in the middle of the road and swore loudly, as did the bus driver whose way I was blocking. These days I try and keep my thinking to the part of the walk in the park, it is a lot safer.

The little red so’n’so on my shoulder got that pitchfork right under my skin that day. I must have looked like an absolute lunatic. In fact, keep that in mind next time you’re on public transport. The apparent crazy person sitting beside you talking to themselves, might just be a novelist running through how their main character spent the 1980s.

One of the biggest things I’m learning is that as a writer is that I need to always be digging to find those moments that shock and excite me, in the hope that they’ll have a similar effect on the reader. The risk of getting run over by a bus is a small price to pay. Besides, I live in Manchester – I’ve never seen one of our buses moving fast enough that it could bruise you, never mind kill you.

***

Absolutely brilliant, thanks again Caimh for writing such an interesting piece for damppebbles.  It must be strange for authors when a random reader declares their undying love for one of the their characters.  I haven’t quite got to that point yet but I do tend to get a little overexcited when writing my reviews.  As readers we all enjoy different elements of a book.  For me it’s always about the characters, closely followed by excessive amounts of blood, guts and gore!

The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell was published in the UK by McFori Ink on 23rd January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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caimh_press_pic2-1Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on @Caimh

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Games People Play by Owen Mullen (@OwenMullen6) @BloodhoundBook

51fe2drwqul“Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.

Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.

Against his better judgment Charlie gets involved in the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.

Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?

For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go.

His demons won’t let him.”

I am absolutely delighted to be today’s stop on the Games People Play blog tour.  Games People Play is the first book in the Charlie Cameron series written by author Owen Mullen and published by the incredible Bloodhound Books.  I’m excited to have Games People Play  on my TBR and can’t wait to read it.  Between you and I, I’m hoping to add book 2 in the series, Old Friends and New Enemies to the list soon too.

But there’s no point talking about book 2 when we haven’t celebrated the release of the first book in the series.  So today I have a treat for you, and it’s something that I don’t feel I’ve had enough of on damppebbles recently…it’s a guest post (I do love a guest post!  For new visitors to the blog my husband thinks I should coin the phrase, ‘I do love a guest post’ as my catchphrase.  He’s probably right…)  So without further ado I will hand the floor over to Owen Mullen who is going to tell you about the best and worst things about being an author.

The Best And Worst Things About Being an Author

I started writing with two objectives in mind. First, to join the great cannon of literature, and stand shoulder to shoulder with Dickens and Steinbeck; Mark Twain and Evelyn Waugh. My dream was to see my books on a shelf next to these awesome talents.

And second, I wanted to crack a few bob out of it.

Like anything else there are pros and cons. Taking an idea and developing it into a story with characters that almost become friends and a plot that keeps me interested, never mind anybody else, is a thrill. Getting the result published is another deal entirely.

Often the solitary aspect of writing is described as a down-side. Not for me. I am at my happiest in the worlds I have created; much more comfortable than the real one. And when the story comes together, the hundreds of hours spent creating it is time well spent. In the early days I would print out the final manuscript, with my name neatly typed on the cover, and sit it on the dining-room table. The feeling of satisfaction is hard to understand. I tend not to do that now although there is always a sense of achievement when the work is completed.

These and other pleasures come with writing, but, without doubt, the best experience is when someone – usually a stranger – tells me they have read my book, loved it, and can’t wait for the next one. People have been very kind to me along the way; it is appreciated, and I don’t forget it. I write to be read; otherwise, why bother?

I haven’t had a bestseller – yet – but can imagine that will be another high.

On the other hand, a book doesn’t just happen. It takes commitment, patience and belief, and even then an author might not reach the finish line. I have a routine. I write every morning for five hours, five days a week. No surprise the pages mount up. But I don’t always feel like it. Occasionally I baulk at the discipline required. Some days are more productive than others and the feeling of not quite producing enough isn’t pleasant: like a pain that has to be worked through. At times I would rather squander my time in any way that didn’t involve writing.

And now and then I do just that.

But I always return because this is who I am.

The parts of the process I don’t enjoy are mostly not connected directly with writing stories. The book business is a cruel and impersonal place. Rejection has to be borne because it comes with the territory and until a writer is a commercial success they don’t rate. The realisation that it is a business can be a rude awakening. Not just a business; one steeped in subjectivity. It can be hard to accept that your book is rejected because ‘We have just signed a Scottish author’ or ‘We tried a Scottish author last year and got our fingers burned.’

And unbelievable but true: ‘This book has everything. I know I’m going to regret turning it down.’

Every author I know has a collection of horror tales about how casually their work has been dismissed – often without even being read. I will put my experiences of that on paper when I’m sufficiently detached from the memories. Rejection hurts. And you never get used to it. At least I didn’t. But I kept going.

Though on balance, it’s no contest: the pleasure outweighs the pain. Then there is the knowledge that the longer you do it, the better you become. I feel privileged to be able to entertain folk I’ve never met, and the fact that someone somewhere may be reading an Owen Mullen book at this minute is a unique feeling.

No wonder I love it.

***

Many thanks Owen for such a personal post.  I must say, you are truly committed to your art; writing for five hours a day, five days a week.  Wow!  As for the rejection, that is exactly why I’ve never tried to write my own novel, I just couldn’t take the rejection.  That and the fact that it would be no good!

Games People Play by Owen Mullen was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 16th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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14949607When he was ten, Owen Mullen won a short story competition and didn’t write anything else for almost forty years. In between he graduated from Strathclyde University with a Masters in Tourism and a degree in Marketing, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; on occasion he still performs. He returned to Scotland to run a management consultancy and a marketing agency. He is an Arsenal supporter and a serious foodie. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow – where the Charlie Cameron books are set – and their villa in the Greek Islands.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson (@ragnarjo) @OrendaBooks #Rupture

41qs39koyul-_sx323_bo1204203200_“1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

Haunting, frightening and complex, Rupture is a dark and atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s foremost crime writers.”

Better late than never, isn’t that what they say…

I am delighted to be part of the Rupture blog tour today.  Rupture is written by the incredibly talented Ragnar Jónasson and is the fourth book in the Dark Iceland series.  I’m a little behind with this series as I’ve only read the fantastically claustrophobic Blackout which I loved. If you missed my review please click here for a recap.

Today I have a fascinating post from Ragnar about his favourite thrillers on the big screen.  So without further ado, over to Ragnar…

Classic Thrillers on Screen

In addition to reading classic crime fiction, I’m quite a fan of good films. I’d like to share with you some of my favourite classic thrillers and mysteries (using classic rather freely, referring to movies from the last century).

  1. Seven (1995) – Excellent David Fincher thriller starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Gwyneth Paltrow. Fincher has hardly hit a wrong note since then.
  2. Pulp Fiction (1994) – The Quentin Tarantino epic, his best movie to date, almost every scene a classic.
  3. Die Hard I & II (1988 / 1990) – The ultimate action films, both of them excellent in their own right.
  4. Rear Window (1954) – I am a great fan of Alfred Hitchcock and this is one of hist all time best movie, based on a crime story (short story) by Cornell Woolrich, starring the amazing James Stewart and Grace Kelly.
  5. Rope (1948) – Another classic Hitchcock, based on an excellent crime play by Patrick Hamilton.
  6. The Godfather I & II (1972 / 1974) – Perfect, epic crime stories.
  7. The Thin Man series (1934-1947) – A series of six wonderful mysteries starring classic golden age stars William Powell & Myrna Loy. The first one was based on Dashiell Hammett’s classic novel. Also look out for the interesting 2012 publication of “novellas” which became films in the series.
  8. Rebecca (1940) – Yet another excellent Hitchcock film.
  9. Dr. No (1962) – No list is complete without James Bond, and the first one in the series is one of the best.
  10. The Game (1997) – Another incredibly good David Fincher mystery.

***

Thank you for this interesting post Ragnar.  I think I’ve only managed to watch ‘Seven’ as I’m horribly squeamish and a bit of a wimp!  Following your recommendations however, I will endeavour to watch one or two more!

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook editions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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32b9843or-768x512Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, and he is currently working on his sixth. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters.

Author Links: Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour: The Mine by Antti Tuomainen (@antti_tuomainen) @OrendaBooks #TheFinnishInvasion

the-mine-cover“A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. Can he uncover the truth before it’s too late?

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life.

A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results … The Mine is a gripping, beautifully written, terrifying and explosive thriller by the King of Helsinki Noir.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on The Mine blog tour and day two of my stint on the Finnish Invasion blog tour (if you missed it I featured a brilliant Q&A with Orenda author Kati Hiekkapelto yesterday, which you can read if you click here).

Regular visitors to damppebbles will know how much I love a guest post (I love a guest post!) so today I have a fabulous post from The Mine author Antti Tuomainen to share with you. Without further ado I’ll hand over to Antti…

Family Matters by Antti Tuomainen

I have just published my third novel in the UK called THE MINE. (It is my fifth novel altogether.) THE MINE is a crime novel, of course, but it is also a family story. It tells the story of a father and a son, a journalist and a hitman. In the beginning of the novel, the father returns to Helsinki, his and his son’s hometown, after having been gone for thirty years.

That set up – the father and the son – was really how THE MINE got its start. It is also something that is common in all my novels. Close relationships, I mean. Looking back, I’ve always written about close human interaction in one way or another – husband and wife torn apart in The Healer, brothers on different side of the law, mother and son in Dark As My Heart, and so forth –  and I’ve always began building my novels through characters and their dilemmas. And of course, the secrets they keep from each other.

And this is where family comes in. Who are we closest to? Who do we most remind? Who do we most love or most hate or both? To make a story as dramatic as possible, the stakes have to be high. THE MINE, then, presents two men, sharing the same blood, from different stages of life. One is young, one is older. One is on the side of ‘good’, one on the side of ‘evil’. Of course, the further along we get in the novel, the more the lines blur.

(They are, in a way, brought together by a mine. It should be said that the actual mine in the novel, while fictional, was indeed modeled after a very real and very catastrophic actual mine in northern Finland. There was a sort of a mining boom in Finland a few years ago and at this time a huge nickel mine in the north was opened. It was, and continues to be, an utter disaster from the beginning. When it was revealed how the business got its start, how it involved politicians and business people in a highly questionable manner and how phenomenally huge was, and continues to be, the tax-payers’ bill I felt I had to ask a few questions.)

The son in THE MINE is a journalist. A question I have many times heard is that if I see myself in him since I did some journalism between being a copywriter and a full time writer of novels. (I do see a slight resemblance in some things, yes, at least when relating to the business of writing.) But for some reason I’ve never heard the question: “Do you see yourself in the father, the sixty-year-old lonely hitman?” I find this strange. Because, obviously, I do.

This doesn’t mean that I approve of what the father is doing: going to work means, to him, killing folks. I don’t think that’s an acceptable way to spend your days. But he is in a very recognizable human situation with the people he feels closest to. They both are. And THE MINE shows these men at crossroads. They are more alike than they would like to admit. They are obsessed. They take pride in their work, and how good they are at it. They stop at nothing, and it costs them. They try to do good, but in trying, they hurt other people. They miscalculate, misbehave, misunderstand. They try their best, they really do. Finally, they are willing to do whatever it takes in behalf of each other. They’re family. I can relate to that. I can understand how their family matters to them, as mine matters to me.

***

Thank you very much for such a wonderful guest post, Antti.  I have a copy of The Mine on my TBR and I can’t wait to read it.  I find your description of the father, the sixty year old lonely hitman very intriguing. And, of course, I adore translated crime fiction!  Watch this space for a review coming your way soon.

The Mine by Antti Tuomainen was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 10th October 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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antii-tuomainen-225x300Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labeled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen “The king of Helsinki Noir” when Dark as my Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula. Antti Tuomainen’s latest novel The Mine will be published by Orenda Books in 2016/17.

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