#GuestPost: In For The Kill by Ed James (@EdJamesAuthor) @EmmaFinnigan #InForTheKill #DIFenchurch #ThomasandMercer

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“A university student is found strangled to death in her bedroom, but when the embattled DI Simon Fenchurch is called in to investigate, the case strikes dangerously close to home.

On the surface, the victim was a popular, high-performing student. But as secret grudges against her emerge, so too does evidence that she was living a double life, working on explicit webcam sites for a seedy London ganglord. Everyone Fenchurch talks to knows a lot more than they’re willing to tell, and before long he’s making new enemies of his own—threatening to push him and his family pastbreaking point.

With too many suspects and not enough facts, Fenchurch knows his new superiors are just waiting for him to fail—they want him off the case, and off the force for good. His family is in more danger than evr before. So how deep is he willing to dig in order to unearth the truth?”

I am delighted to welcome author Ed James to damppebbles today. Yesterday saw the release of the fourth book in Ed’s DI Fenchurch series, In For The Kill (a belated ‘happy publication day’ to Ed and the folk at Thomas and Mercer!). And that’s exactly what Ed is going to tell us about today; the glitz and the glam of being a published author on launch day. Over to you, Ed…

Today’s your book launch.

You’re sipping sweet champagne for breakfast, along with the freshest croissants, leafing through a Tesla catalogue, looking at that Model X that’ll get from 0 to 60 in a stupidly short time but also like save the planet. Then you remember that you’ve got a reservation at the Ivy tonight. But the doorbell goes. Who could it be? Oh! It’s your new yacht! Twenty foot longer than the old one. And it’s gold-plated. And filled with fresh fifty-pound notes.

Right?

Or are you sitting at your desk, feverishly going through the copy edits for a book you’ve slipped the deadline on twice now, hitting the refresh button on the Amazon product page every five seconds to see if the ranking has changed or if anyone’s reviewed it or—

The ranking has changed! It’s gone down. Oh.

People think when you get that book deal, that’s you hobnobbing with the stars, pricing up yachts or villas in Greece, but what’s the reality like?

By the time that bloody book comes out, it’s a weight off your shoulders. You’ve spent months writing it, probably took a few years off your life in the process. Your agent tore it apart, so you rewrote it until they liked it. They sent it out, it got rejected but you were lucky enough that someone bought it. And they edited it, four different stages which seemed to go on forever and took more years off. They commissioned a cover and you acted like you know what you’re talking about when you critique it. They do some nice blurb text, which you comment on like you even care by this point. Then you wait, checking Amazon for the sales rank on preorder. Checking Goodreads. Checking your google alerts are working. Wait, is that a new review? No, it’s that old one, the one on Goodreads that someone posted for the wrong book.

Then you meet your publicist and they’ve got loads of really funky ideas to get you in the papers and on the telly. Then you get the advance copies through the post and you’re a professional author! Actual books! And CDs and DVDs with the audiobook! You start to feel something in the pit of your stomach — is it excitement? Or just sheer terror?

The blog tour kicks off. The Amazon chart placing doesn’t budge. Your agent and editor stop answering your emails about how many preorders it’s done.

ARGH.

At this point, the book is like Shrödinger’s Cat, it’s both the biggest hit ever and the biggest disaster ever, at least until someone looks inside the box.

And it’s book launch day. Supposed to be the best day ever. But you stupidly checked your Amazon page just before you went to bed, didn’t you? Kept you thinking about stuff you can’t control when you’re supposed to be asleep. You even managed to get off to sleep after an hour spent working out where you’d like to meet JK Rowling, Stephen King and Lee Child for brunch. But then you woke up from a fever dream about accidentally mistweeting something, where you pissed everyone off and you have to go back to your old joke. So you get up for a glass of water, but you’re really checking your phone. The Amazon page has nudged up a little bit. Yay! But JK Rowling, Stephen King and Lee Child still haven’t got back to you. And you didn’t really mistweet something. Phew. So you go back to sleep, eventually get some, blissfully without a dream, then you give up tossing and turning at about six. And you get up. Again, like a lab rat, you check your phone for that dopamine hit.

Everyone at your publisher has wished the book well.

Your agent sent an encouraging message, their agency tweeted it.

The blog tour is going well.

And you can see the preorders. It’s going okay.

But what the hell do you do with book launch day?

Copy editing. Ignore everything.

Once you’ve sent an email to your mailing list. Once you’ve reminded your early readers to review it. Once you’ve tweeted about it. Once you’ve posted on your Facebook page.

You put the Beatles on to cheer you up. You don’t even like them.

But the lid of the box is open. You can peer inside, if you want. You can find out if it’s dead, or if it’s alive. But do you? Is it a monster hit? Is it a disaster?

So you check. The Amazon product page hasn’t changed since the middle of the night. It’s a disaster! But you keep refreshing the Amazon product page. You keep emailing your agent and editor to see how they think it’s doing and do they want any more books and is your career over, is it all a disaster, do you have to go back to your old job?

At some point during that day, you see it’s doing something. It’s defined itself. It’s a thing now, its success a tangible fact. The sales are recorded on some ledger somewhere, someone’s report or spreadsheet starts processing it. You lost any control of how good it was after you finished editing. It’s someone else’s baby now. And it belongs to the readers now, not you. You just wrote it, but it’s become something else.

And the reality is that all that weird stuff was inside your head. You’re getting too paranoid, too frazzled. Spending that time copy editing was smart, it distracted you for that hour. The book idea you sent to your agent, who enjoyed it enough to make you feel like it could work, that’s what you cling to. The next thing. Something shiny and new. Something you can control until they take it from your burnt fingertips and put you through that again.

Or is it you putting yourself through it?

The reality is somewhere in the middle. You should sit back and enjoy it for what it is. Some small part of the world will be yours for a couple of days, maybe a week, maybe a few months. You’ve achieved something very few people do — you wrote a book, you edited it, you made it as good as you could at that point in time. It’s out there, someone else’s baby. You’ve got peers now, you’re welcome at the table. You’ll have friends who are writers too, ones more successful than you, but ones less successful. The important thing is to enjoy it, savour the moment when your book is released and you pass it on for everyone else to enjoy.

But make sure you refresh the product page every minute.

I love this post, thank you Ed. I admire your honesty and if truth to be told, I did giggle a little at times whilst reading it.

I have the first DI Fenchurch book on my wishlist so hope to make a start on what promises to be a cracking series soon.

In For The Kill by Ed James was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 19th April 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Ed lives in the East Lothian countryside, 25 miles east of Edinburgh, with his girlfriend, six rescue moggies, two retired greyhounds, a flock of ex-battery chickens and rescue ducks across two breeds and two genders (though the boys don’t lay eggs). While working in IT for a living, Ed wrote mainly on public transport but now writes full time.

Author Links: | Facebook | Website | Twitter | Instagram |

Author Image and Biog © https://edjamesauthor.com/

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#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Our House by Louise Candlish (@Louise_Candlish) @simonschusterUK @jessbarratt88 #OurHouse

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“FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Our House blog tour. Our House is the thirteenth novel from the pen of author, Louise Candlish, and was published by Simon & Schuster (UK) on 5th April 2018. Now, Louise Candlish is a new author to me (yes, I know what you’re thinking; thirteen books – how is that possible?!) but I am currently reading Our House and oh my gosh, what a thoroughly enjoyable read it is! The characters leap off the page at you, I’ve had many ‘OMG, NO!!’ moments and I cannot wait to see what the shocking twist is that EVERYONE is talking about (I don’t have a clue what it could be, by the way!).

The review is most definitely coming to the blog (pop back on Monday) but today, to celebrate the publication of Our House, I have a fantastic guest post from the author to share with you. Louise has chosen to tell us about the five books which inspired Our House. So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Louise…

Five books that inspired Our House
Louise Candlish

Capital by John Lanchester
I’m a huge fan of this book and was deep in Our House when the BBC dramatisation aired. The double-fronted house that causes all the trouble for Fi and Bram in Our House is not dissimilar to the one Roger and Arabella Yount live in in Capital – grand enough for south London, yes, but having accrued a value its builders could never have dreamed of. ‘The houses had become so valuable…and so expensive…that they had become central actors in their own right.’ Insane and terrifying.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Pretty much every thriller since 2012 owes a debt to Gillian Flynn’s smash hit, and the element that excited me was the husband and wife narratorial double act. Mainly the husband: Nick’s is the strongest voice, and the cheekiest – he even tips us off to his own untruths (‘that was my fifth lie to the police’). I see Bram as the key narrator of Our House. Because Fi is in the dark, the reader often knows more than she does and therefore the bond with Bram is stronger. That’s if he’s telling the truth, of course.

Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
Just about any Agatha Christie could be said to have inspired my writing, because she’s been a favourite since childhood, but I’ve chosen Peril at End House for its property and inheritance themes (there’s even a re-mortgaging). As one of the characters remarks, ‘I always knew something bad would happen in this house’. I also think this is a fantastic title, one of her best. ‘Peril’ is a great word.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
I love every word Sarah Waters writes, every corner of every south London interior she creates. I live quite close to Champion Hill, where the house in The Paying Guests is set. Rooms must be let to Mr and Mrs Barber ‘if the house were to be kept going’ and there are so many dramatic possibilities in the idea of our hanging on to our home, whatever it takes. In Our House, Bram and Fi are separating and neither has a hope of buying the other out. They must share it – a plan that leads to tragedy.

The Wimbledon Poisoner by Nigel Williams
The south London suburb in Our House has a fictitious name – Alder Rise – but local readers will probably recognise its real-life equivalents. It’s definitely not Wimbledon, I can tell you that, and in any case SW19 already has a story of suburban murder and mishap that none of us can top. The opening of The Wimbledon Poisoner is a tour de force: Henry Farr decides he wants to kill his wife, remarking, ‘Being a convicted murderer had the edge on being a solicitor’. Savagery in the suburbs – and that’s just the humour.

Thank you for joining me today, Louise and for giving us a sneak peek into your inspiration for the fantastic Our House.

Our House by Louise Candlish was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster (UK) on 5th April 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

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Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband and daughter. She is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Swimming Pool (2016) and The Sudden Departure of the Frasers (2015), Her new novel Our House, will be published in April 2018 by Simon & Schuster in the UK and in August 2018 by Berkley in the US.

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers has been optioned for TV by Hartswood Films.

Besides books, the things Louise likes best are: coffee; TV (so much TV, too much, probably); cats and dogs; salted caramel; France (especially the Ile de Re); Italy (especially Sicily); tennis; soup; Vanity Fair magazine; ‘Book at Bedtime’; lasagne; heavy metal; ‘The Archers’; driving towards the sea (but not into it); anything at the Royal Opera House; white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar).

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Facebook | Instagram |

#GuestPost: Call to Arms by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) #DetectiveKayHunter #CalltoArms

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“Loyalty has a price.

Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country’s most evil serial killers.

Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn’t the only victim of that investigation. DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.

Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.

But as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good.

Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay’s enquiries will reach far beyond her new role…

Call to Arms is a gripping police procedural, and the fifth in the Detective Kay Hunter series:

1. SCARED TO DEATH
2. WILL TO LIVE
3. ONE TO WATCH
4. HELL TO PAY
5. CALL TO ARMS

A page-turning murder mystery for fans of Peter Robinson, David Baldacci and Harlen Coben.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome the brilliant author of the Detective Kay Hunter series, Rachel Amphlett, to damppebbles today. I absolutely love the Kay Hunter series and always make sure I keep up with the latest release. The marvellous Call to Arms, the fifth book in the series, was published on Sunday 11th March 2018. To help celebrate Rachel has very kindly agreed to join me today and tell us about one of my favourite aspects of the series; Kay’s rather dishy other half, vet Adam!

Regular readers of the blog will know that I like my detectives damaged, on the edge and very much alone (i.e. no romantic counterpart). That is not the case with Kay though. Kay and Adam’s relationship really adds to the story for me. Plus the steady stream of creatures he brings home from work always makes me smile (and in Call to Arms, I have to admit I cried a little too).

So without further ado, I will hand over to Rachel to tell us why she chose a career in veterinary medicine for Mr Kay…

Why a vet?

One of readers’ favourite characters in the Kay Hunter series is that of her other half Adam, who’s a vet.

Writing a crime thriller series can be quite harrowing. A lot of the research can be disturbing, and let’s face it – when you’re running around chasing a serial killer or trying to solve a cold case murder, there isn’t much room for laughter.

I knew when I was first developing the idea for the series that I didn’t want my female detective to have a fractured home life – there were already plenty of other books like that around – and, as a lot of the crimes Kay Hunter investigates are dark and disturbing, I wanted her home life to provide her with a sense of normality.

The idea of Adam being a vet really appealed to me as soon as it popped into my head. (I blame watching repeats of the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small as a kid.)

Here was a character who was Kay’s equal in intelligence, could provide her with a safe home life AND give me a perfect excuse to provide some light relief for readers during the course of the series.

After all, you never know what animals a vet might bring home!

As well as Kay’s own career lows and highs, Adam’s veterinary practice impacts their lives too and I really enjoy seeing how these two characters support each other throughout the stories and challenges that their lives bring.

Of course, events in Kay’s professional life have meant it hasn’t all been plain sailing for her and Adam, but I think the dynamic between these two people is something that is working and seems to have been well received.

In fact, I’ve been amazed at how well readers have taken to Adam’s character – he and Kay are a real team, and I think it’s because they have a relatively normal home life (again, depending on what guests he’s looking after!) that readers can relate to the problems they encounter.

In Call to Arms, Adam gets his own chance to shine as we find him caring for a terminally ill patient. The storyline gave me an opportunity to explore his own character further, balancing out the investigation Kay leads with an emotionally-charged scene that anyone who has had a pet will relate to.

I hope that in Call to Arms readers get a greater sense of how much Adam cares about his work, his patients, and their wellbeing.

Adam is a huge support for Kay, and I don’t think she’d be the detective she is without him in her life.

Thank you so much for joining me today Rachel, and for giving us an insight into Adam. I have read Call to Arms and was delighted to see Adam shine. My review of Call to Arms will be up on the blog later this week so keep an eye out for that.

Call to Arms by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK by Saxon Publishing on 11th March 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

Author

Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter crime thriller series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014.

An advocate for knowledge within the publishing industry, Rachel is always happy to share her experiences to a wider audience through her blogging and speaking engagements.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | 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: 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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Smith & Sons (11)

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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Guest Post: Tracey Sinclair (author of the Cassandra Bick Chronicles) #damppebblesTakeOver

So here’s the thing, I was due to have wrist surgery at some point during July.  In preparation for my surgery and post-op recovery I had kept most of the month free of blog tours and other promotional bits and bobs; it was going to be quiet month. However, my surgery was cancelled so I’ve been left with a fairly empty blog, which is a very sad thing indeed!

After pondering on it for a few days I decided that I wanted to fill damppebbles during July with author guest posts.  Mainly from crime writers but I’m not scared of stepping out of my comfort zone into other genres every now and then!

With that in mind, I am delighted to welcome Tracey Sinclair to damppebbles today.  Tracey is a fantasy writer and the author of the Cassandra Bick Chronicles.  Book 3 in the series, Angel Falls, was published earlier this year and is available as an eBook.  Here’s the blurb…

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00027]“It isn’t easy to surprise Cassandra Bick. When you run a human-vampire dating agency, your colleague is a witch who is engaged to a shifter and your business partner is one of London’s most powerful (and sexiest) vampires, there’s no such thing as a normal day at the office.

But when a mysterious Dark Dates client brings a dire warning of a new threat to the city’s supernatural community, Cass and her friends realise they are up against their deadliest foe yet – and that this time, the danger is far closer to home than they could ever have imagined.

Sexy, snarky and with more bite than a crypt full of vampires, Angel Falls is the latest in the Dark Dates: Cassandra Bick series.”

Not my usual genre but the Cassandra Bick Chronicles sound fantastic!  Tracey has very kindly provided me with a review copy of  Dark Dates (book one of the series) which I will be reviewing on damppebbles in due course.

Over to you Tracey…

When genres collide… crime meets fantasy fiction by Tracey Sinclair

I’m a huge fan of genre fiction, and it’s always been one of my pet peeves when it’s dismissed as ‘not serious’ or not as high quality as ‘literary’ fiction (this was true even before I wrote genre fiction myself, honest!) I’m also fond of a series, which is something genre fiction specialises in, as they often focus on strong storylines and interesting recurring characters, rather than the ‘one big idea’ of a standalone literary novel. My favourite genres are crime and paranormal/urban fantasy, and I’ve realised they often have more in common than you’d think…

Charlie Huston – Joe Pitt casebooks
Vampire fiction has become synonymous with YA romance thanks to the Twilight phenomena. But Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt has more shared DNA with the hardboiled heroes of Raymond Chandler or Elmore Leonard than he does with Edward Cullen. Best described as pulp noir, these books are gory, gritty stories set in a New York that is instantly recognisable, despite having a thriving vampire population. Not for the faint-hearted, they don’t shy away from modern realities (Aids, racial divisions, economic inequality) and are utterly compelling and even ultimately romantic (after all, Pitt does it all for the love of a dame).

John Connolly – Charlie Parker series
Although these tend to be categorised as crime, they actually have a strong supernatural element, which only becomes more pronounced as the series goes on. They are on one level just exceptionally well-written (although very dark) thrillers, and much of the ‘otherworldliness’ is open to question: are there eternal evil forces at work, or is that just the delusion of criminals seeking justification for their wrongdoings? But as the books build into a satisfying arc, you realise that there is something bigger at play, even while you can’t quite figure out Parker’s role in it.

Jim Butcher – Harry Dresden files
Yes, the other wizard called Harry. One of the most consistently enjoyable urban fantasy series around, these start off basically as ‘wizard detective’ novels, as Dresden works with the police to solve crimes that may or may not have a supernatural element. In some ways he’s the archetypal PI – smart mouthed, cocky, too stubborn for his own good and with a weakness for a damsel in distress. As the series goes on, the storylines become more fantasy-heavy, as Dresden’s world opens up to everything from reanimated corpses to evil fairies, but by then you’re too hooked to care.

Terry Pratchett – the Men at Arms books (Discworld series)
Lots of people dismiss Pratchett out of hand – he writes about trolls and witches! Lots of people are wrong. Because while the first couple of books in his best-selling Discworld series have dated badly, the collection as a whole offers one of the most complete and coherent fictional universes, and he uses the oft-mocked (sometimes, admittedly, by Pratchett himself) tropes of fantasy to draw parallels to our own world, tackling everything from religious extremism to people trafficking to rampant capitalism. It may be stretching to call them urban fantasy (although they are mostly set in a city, so maybe not), but his books featuring the Night Watch are some of his best, following copper Samuel Vimes’ progress from disillusioned Watch commander with a fondness for the bottle, to (reluctantly) upstanding community leader who only occasionally gets to kick criminals’ doors in. On the way it has an awful lot of fun with all of the clichés of crime and thriller stories, from Columbo-style faux-bumbling questioning (‘Just one more thing…’) to the rebel cop being thrown off a case, all set against the background of an organic, evolving cityscape. Essential reading.

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Thank you Tracey for this fascinating post.  I have read a number of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series and have always enjoyed them.  As for Terry Pratchett, I devoured his books during my teens and they still have a special place in my heart.  My parents will, to this day, tell you about the holiday we took where I all I did was read Discworld novels (I’m not sure what else there is to do on holiday other than read….).

Smith & Sons (11)

Author image.JPGTracey Sinclair is an author, writer and editor who lives in Brighton. She’s a massive geek and lover of all things supernatural (and, indeed, Supernatural) and who probably spends way too much of her time on Netflix. She writes for a range of magazines and websites and her latest books are the Dark Dates series – which do indeed owe quite a lot to crime novels. The most recent of these are Angel Falls and A Vampire in New York and Other Stories.

 Buy Angel Falls via amazon.co.uk

Buy A Vampire in New York and Other Stories from amazon.co.uk

Connect with Tracey on Twitter @Thriftygal