Monthly Archives: December 2016

Review – Cold Calling by Russell Mardell

Cold Calling Cover

The Blurb

Still reeling from is break-up with the love of his life, insurance firm cold-caller Ray English has become a bit of a screw up.  Cynical and withdrawn, Ray is aimlessly drifting through life in London with his long suffering best friend, Danny.  However, once he is asked to reform his college band for a friend’s wedding, Ray is soon forced to face up to his old life, and the hometown he had tried so hard to turn his back on.  Anya Belmont is a woman with a secret and a history that continues to shape her life.  A coffee shop owner in Salisbury, Anya is successful, yet bored; married, yet lonely.  She is also slowly being driven to distraction by her highly temperamental friend, the child-hating children’s author, Eva Cunningham.  Through fate, coincidence or just bad timing, Ray and Anya’s lives begin to change when Ray cold calls Anya and the two strike up a seemingly innocuous conversation.  Against their better judgement, their conversation is soon the start of a relationship played out over the phone.  But can there ever be anything real in a phone call? A sharp-witted, saccharine-free, thoroughly modern tale of lost loves and found friendships.

My Thoughts

Cold Calling by Russell Mardell is a sardonic observation of life, love and friendship with wry humour and moments of perfectly placed astuteness.

Ray is still getting over his ex-girlfriend five years after they split up. Seeing a counsellor, it is Anya, a woman he ‘meets’ over the telephone during a cold call he makes as part of his job in an insurance company who helps him achieve the closure he needs while Anya finds the courage to discuss a part of her life which she had kept to herself. A friendship is established between Ray and Anya despite them never meeting.

Cold Calling is quite unlike anything I have read before. It is told in first person narrative by four different people – Ray, Anya, Ray’s friend and flatmate Danny and Anya’s author friend Eva – with the main story line centring around the phone calls between the main characters. The characterisation is fantastic with each bringing their own unique voice and perspective to the story which serves to add a wider perspective and humour. Ray is a little bit of a screw up, his relationship with Katie was not long lasting and yet his life has been on hold for the five years since they split up. Anya has issues of her own she is dealing with and her friendship with Ray allows her the opportunity to find the courage to discuss her issues with her long standing friend, Eva. Eva is a successful author, but not in the genre she wants to write. Like a petulant, spoilt child she is infuriating and yet funny and Mardell’s observations of the world of writing for a living made me laugh. The characters are likeable and not perfect which gives them an authenticity.

While in the main humorous, there are touching moments throughout the book. Ray’s memories of his grandfather and the words of wisdom he gave to him before his death are told in a down to earth way and yet have a real depth and genuineness to them.

The nature of friendship plays a central role in this book. We accept and love our friends despite their flaws and foibles. They may drive us mad but we stick with them and support them.

A great light read – if you are after a book that is different, witty and gives accurate observations on life and love look no further that Russell Mardell’s Cold Calling.

A huge thank you to Russell Mardell for the copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Published on 18 February 2016 by Troubador Publishing.

Blog Tour – Witness by Caroline Mitchell *Review*

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I’m so pleased to finally be able to share my review of Witness by Caroline Mitchell as one of today’s hosts of the blog tour alongside Kate at Bibliophile Book Club.  So without further ado I will tell you what Witness is about and my thoughts on it.

The Blurb

To Rebecca it was a brave decision that led to her freedom from domestic abuse.  To Solomon it was the ultimate betrayal.

It’s been ten years since Rebecca’s testimony saw Solomon locked away.  Enough time for nightmares to recede, the nerves to relax; enough time to rebuild her life and put the past behind her.

Then one day a phone rings in her bedroom – but it’s not her phone.  Solomon has been in her home, and has a very simple message for her: for each of the ten years he has spent in jail, Rebecca must witness a crime.  And, to make matters worse, she has to chose the victims.

‘Fail to respond and you get hurt.  Talk to the police and you die.  Ready to play?  You have sixty seconds to decide…

As the crimes grow more severe, the victims closer to home, Rebecca is forced to confront a past she had hoped was gone forever.

My Thoughts

Just how far would you go to protect your family? Rebecca finds herself having to answer this question in Caroline Mitchell’s searing new psychological thriller Witness.

When Rebecca’s abusive ex-partner Solomon is released from prison after serving time for murder, the new and safe life she has built up over the course of ten years comes crashing down around her. Hell bent on revenge after Rebecca’s testimony put him away, Solomon demands that Rebecca become a silent witness to ten crimes…with her choosing the victims. Afraid of the consequences of not complying with his demands and the impact on her family Rebecca feels she has no choice but take part in his sick game.

Witness had me totally hooked from the prologue and whispering ‘oh my God!’ to my Kindle at 3 percent. Caroline pulls you into the story from the first paragraph and she doesn’t let you go until you have devoured the whole book. A totally unique and compelling storyline Witness has you thinking about your morals and dying to have the ‘what would you do?’ discussion with someone else who has read it.

Perfectly structured with a dual timeline that switches between the present and the past, the reader is given real insight into the nature of Rebecca and Solomon’s past relationship – how it began, progressed and evolved – evoking empathy with Rebecca and adding to the understanding of Rebecca’s reaction to the situation she is in. Told by Rebecca in first person narrative and Solomon in third person narrative, Witness seamlessly flows while ensuring the reader stays with the predicament Rebecca is in while also getting a look at the mindset of Solomon. I always love it when the bad guy features as I’m intrigued by them and Caroline doesn’t disappoint. Needless to say the characterisation is great.

It is clear that Caroline has worked with those who have suffered domestic abuse as she writes with an insight and an understanding about the issue. Acknowledging that there is so much more to domestic abuse than physical attacks, the emotional, sexual, financial abuse and complete control that often features in abusive relationships are all demonstrated in the relationship between Rebecca and Solomon. The fact that their relationship begins when Rebecca is at a particularly vulnerable time in her life is realistically portrayed. Solomon’s tale is one of generational abuse and the impact of a child’s tenuous attachment to their parents.

I absolutely loved the premise of Rebecca having to decide who would be the victims of the crimes she is forced to witness. As Rebecca tried to make her decisions based on her morals and who is and isn’t deserving it becomes clear that appearances can often be deceptive. I really felt the dilemmas Rebecca faced each time a message came through on her phone, along with her guilt.

The tension is palpable throughout, along with the ever growing fear that Rebecca feels when her own safety and those she loves is put in jeopardy. The isolation of her home is the perfect setting to add to the unease the reader feels.

Caroline has written a first class psychological thriller and the absolute definition of a page-turner.  Witness is all-absorbing, completely gripping and thought-provoking, I absolutely loved it. You really need to read this book!

A huge thank you to Caroline Mitchell and Thomas and Mercer for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Published on Ebook and paperback on 20 December 2016  by Thomas and Mercer.

You can purchase a copy HERE.

A massive thank you to Caroline Mitchell for inviting me to take part in the Witness blog tour.  Be sure to catch the other bloggers on the tour.

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Author Influences With Sam Carrington

Delighted to welcome Sam Carrington to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today.  Sam has recently celebrated a second book birthday as her debut psychological thriller Saving Sophie was published in paperback on 15 December 2016.  Today she is talking about the books and authors who have had an impact on her.

Author picture-Sam Carrington [159307]

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?

Enid Blyton – The Adventure series, Mr. Twiddle, plus loads more!
Judy Blume – Like – Are You There God, It’s me, Margaret.
All the ladybird books I could get my hands on! I made my mum and dad read them again, and again, and again…

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?

It was my favourite subject all through school. I was top set, so fairly confident, and I loved writing stories. I found one recently when sorting through the boxes of things my mum had kept from my school years, it was in the same vein as Agatha Christie’s ‘And then there was one.’ That was quite funny to read!

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?

My key genres to read are crime and psychological thrillers and these definitely had an impact on what I now write. I have been part of a book group for about seven years though, and therefore have read outside of these genres (despite kicking up a fuss sometimes!) The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, turned out to be one of my all-time favourite books – so it goes to show…

Ultimately, given my ‘go to’ genre being crime/psychological, and having worked in a prison facilitating offender behaviour programmes – I think I’ve found my comfort zone with writing in this genre.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?

My first attempt at writing anything longer than a short story was a chick-lit style novel. I enjoyed writing it, the light-hearted, humorous content was fun to write. I only got to about 15k though – and I entered it into the first Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition! Obviously, it didn’t get anywhere…

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?

I was going through a particularly stressful and emotional year in 2013 when I first read Elizabeth Haynes’ Into the Darkest Corner. I can’t say I thought – ‘I must write a novel’ after reading it, but it did encourage me to make changes in my life, which then led to me picking up my pen.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Patricia Cornwell – although I haven’t got her most recent ones
Sharon Bolton
Elizabeth Haynes
Sarah Hilary
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?

The Girl on The Train – it was such a brilliantly simple concept to have a woman make up stories about the people she saw when on the train journey and Paula Hawkins expertly weaved in the twists and turns. Plus of course, who wouldn’t love those sales figures and a film adaptation?

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)

The idea for the plot of Saving Sophie came from an actual event that at the time challenged my emotions considerably! The way I reacted surprised me, and so (after everything was resolved) I began to wonder about how people tend to respond to bad/challenging/traumatic events differently than they imagine they would. I took that as a starting point. I don’t think anyone I know influenced any of the characters as such, but I guess certain character traits might have been lifted from people I know.

A huge thank you Sam for taking part.

About Sam Carrington

Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children.  She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse.  Following the completion of a Psychology degree She went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator.  Her experiences within this field inspired her writing.  She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of becoming a novelist.  Saving Sophie is her debut psychological thriller novel.

Saving Sophie

Saving Sophie is out now on Ebook and paperback and you can read my review HERE.

Connect With Sam

Website: samcarrington.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @sam_carrington1

Facebook: Sam Carrington – Writer

Review – History Of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

History of Wolves

The Blurb

Even a lone wolf wants to belong…

Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of northern Minnesota.  The other girls at school call Linda ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’.  Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices, whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on.

So when the perfect family – mother, father and their little boy, Paul – move into the cabin across the lake,  Linda insinuates her way into the family’s orbit.  She begins to babysit Paul and feels welcome, that she finally has a place to belong.

Yet something isn’t right.  Drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand, Linda must make a choice.  But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand the what the consequences will be?

My Thoughts

 History Of Wolves is an intricately told tale of a teenager’s experience of being the outsider and the consequences of naively made decisions made in order to belong. To be honest, even after a few days mulling over this book I’m still not really sure what I think about it and have found this review quite challenging to write.

Written in the first person, Linda narrates as a thirty-seven year old reflecting on her life as a teenager, interspersed with glimpses of her life as an adult. There is no clear line of demarcation between these different time points as you see in other books, ie separation through chapters, however it flows well and is not confusing. I rather liked this more complex structure and it is well executed.

Linda grew up on an old hippy commune in Minnesota with parents who largely give her free rein. This causes difficulties for her at school as she is marked out as different by the other pupils. I didn’t particularly like Linda, or any of the characters, however this wasn’t a problem for me as I often get as much out of disliking a character in a book as I do those I like. Linda comes across as a voyeur as she comments and observes her fellow pupils, teachers and later her new neighbours who she becomes tied up with. Some of her actions and thoughts are questionable, yet understandable given her upbringing.

The pace is slow moving, taking a while in my opinion to get to the main crux of the story. What I initially felt was the main storyline turned out not to be so and this led to my interest in it waxing and waning as I read. When I eventually thought I knew where the story was going it changed again. Linda’s teacher is found guilty of possessing indecent images of children, however the story then becomes dominated by another theme. I still haven’t fully figured out the role this story line played, is it a red herring or have I just failed to see it’s relevance?

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away as it came as a surprise to me and I would hate to ruin this for future readers, but the eventual reason for the trial Linda refers to in the beginning relates to a religion and it’s devastating consequences. What eventually occurs is, however, both thought-provoking and shocking. Fridland is great at drip feeding snippets of information that eventually make sense and giving that feeling of something not being right that you just can’t put your finger on. Her use of prose wonderfully sets up the sense of time and place with the cold and barren nature of teenage Linda’s surroundings shining through from the pages.

An intriguing book that has certainly stayed with me, causing me to swing between liking it and not really liking it. It is a book that I may re-visit as I get the feeling it is a book that could be enjoyed more the second time around. Read it without the expectation that it will immediately grip you but will take you on a slow-burning journey you won’t forget in a hurry.

Thank you to Emily Fridlund, Grove Atlantic and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my review.

Published in the UK on 3 January 2017 by Weidenfeld and Nicholson.
Published in the USA on 3 January 2017 by Atlantic Monthly Press.

Review – The Night Before Christmas by Rose Collins

The Night Before Christmas

The Blurb

It was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring,

Not even a…BEAR?

Clement Clarke Moore’s much loved poem is brought beautifully to life in this gorgeous picture book with a twist – as Santa visits a family of bears on Christmas Eve. 

Share the Christmas magic and experience a whole new retelling of the timeless Christmas classic.  With beautifully illustrated pages, The Night Before Christmas is the perfect gift for any child.

My Thoughts

Rose Collins has taken the classic 1822 Clement Clarke Moore poem The Night Before Christmas and given it a modern twist that will appeal to today’s children.

By slightly changing some of the words Rose has made it easy for children to understand and yet managed to keep it’s charm. Each page has a gorgeous brightly coloured illustration with lots to see which capture the magic of Santa‘s journey with his reindeer. I did find some of the pictures a little too similar but slight differences in them give parent and child something additional to talk about and can be used to encourage the child to do actions such as touching your nose and winking.

I liked the use of a family of bears rather than humans which gives the book a real bed time story feel, with the bears in their pyjamas being evocative of the teddy bears children often sleep with.

This book will be sure to capture the imagination of young children and keep them entertained with the beautiful illustrations while introducing them to a classic. A lovely book to read with your children on Christmas eve.

Thank you to NurseryBox Books for the copy in exchange for my unbiased review.

The Night Before Christmas is out now and can be purchased HERE.

Bloomin’ Brilliant Books’ Favourite Reads of 2016

I have pondered over this post for a couple of weeks and it has been incredibly difficult to narrow it down into my all time favourite books because 2016 has been an incredible year. There have been so many books that I have loved but this would be a ridiculously long post if I included them all so I told myself to keep it to ten. Being an emotional reader I have decided to base it on the books that had the biggest emotional impact on me.

You can click on the title of each to read my full review. So, in no particular order, here goes…

The book that made my skin crawl and stuck with me for days…
My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor

My Husband's Son

Deborah’s debut novel is gritty, seedy and the ending totally shocked me. It got right under my skin and I couldn’t shake off the feelings it evoked in me for days. A fantastic debut novel, I can’t wait to read more by Deborah in the future.

The book that totally transported me to a different time and place…
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

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Another debut novel, Goats and Sheep is set during the long hot summer of 1976. Joanna brought back so many memories of that time and the early 1980’s with her rich descriptions that every time I settled down to read it I was living, breathing and feeling that era. Goats and Sheep is also a beautifully written, intricate novel – a truly breathtaking debut that makes you laugh and think.

The book that made me feel as though I was going to have a heart attack…
See How They Run by Tom Bale

See How They Run

Bloomin’ heck this book took me on one hell of a ride. The pace never lets up and it is relentless. Utterly gripping, Tom has written one hell of a page turner with a momentum that never ceases.

The book that sent shivers down my spine…
Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

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From the amazing first line to the shock ending this deliciously dark book left me open-jawed and gasping. Full of hideous characters (which I love) Liz has written what could quite possibly be the most chilling psychological thriller I have read in a long time. Absolute perfection!

The book which made me read lines over and over again…
Jacques by Tanya Ravenswater

Jacques

This book is poetically written and to be savoured as you take in the sheer gorgeousness of the prose. One of those books that makes you think ’I wish I could write like that’.

The book that totally enchanted me…
Himself by Jess Kidd

Himself

Totally beguiling and wonderfully written, Jess incorporates stunning symbolism and descriptions in this dark yet funny novel. I love gothic novels and Himself incorporated all that I love about them.

The book that made my heart ache…
The Mountain In My Shoe by Louise Beech

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Louise’s book touched me so deeply, she has conveyed the emotions of a child within the care system with empathy, intelligence and real insight. I challenge anyone not to be totally moved by this book.

The book that outraged me…
Untouchable by Sibel Hodge

Untouchable

Sibel has created both a tense thriller and an authentic social and political commentary. A story about injustice and how the elite can get away with literally anything, Untouchable really hit a nerve with me.

The book that made me howl with laughter…
Melody Bittersweet And The Girl’s Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French

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This book totally cheered me up when I most needed it. Melody is kooky and off-the-wall and her antics with The Girl’s Ghostbusting Agency produce hilarious resultsPerfect lighthearted reading.

The book that re-ignited one of my past interests…
The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

The Secret Wife

I have always been fascinated by Russian history but had kind of forgotten about it if that makes sense? Gill reminded me of this interest in her wonderfully written part fiction/part historically accurate account of Grand Duchess Tatiana and cavalry officer Dmitri. Completely capturing the time and setting Gill made me cry with this beautiful tale of love in extreme circumstances.
There are so many other books I have loved this year and could write a post that would take days to read. I want to give a big shout out as well to Helen MacKinven for Buy Buy Baby, Susan Gandar for We’ve Come To Take You Home, Simon Booker for Without Trace, Chris Brookmyre for Black Widow, Sam Carrington for Saving Sophie and Jane Corry for My Husband’s Wife as these six books stuck in my mind (click on the pictures for my review).  And that’s it…time to walk away from this post before I add any more!

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So what do you think of my choices? Are any of these books in your top reads of 2016? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Cover Reveal – After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

Delighted to be able to share with you the cover for Linda Green’s forth coming book After I’ve Gone, which will be publishing in ebook on 18th May 2017 and paperback on 27th July 2016 by Quercus.

The Blurb

A gripping new thriller from the #1 bestselling author of While My Eyes Were Closed.
On a wet Monday in January, Jess Mount receives the devastating news that she hasn’t got long left to live. She doesn’t hear it from a doctor, though. She discovers it when her Facebook timeline skips forward eighteen months and friends and family start posting tributes to her, following her death in a terrible and mysterious accident.
At first, Jess thinks this must be a sick joke by a colleague jealous of her handsome new boyfriend. But as the posts continue and it becomes clear that no one else can see what she can, Jess is forced to confront that her impending death might be all too real . . .

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 I’m very excited about this, it looks and sounds amazing!

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour – The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto *Review*

I’m chuffed to be hosting today’s post for The Finnish Invasion blog tour and am sharing with you my review of The Mine by Kati Hiekkapelto…

Cover

The Blurb

Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday.  But when her bag is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case.  Her investigation leads straight to her own family and to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all.  As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading across Europe.  How long before everything explodes?

Chilling, tense and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland’s most celebrated crime writers.

My Thoughts

When Anna Fekete returns to her home town of Kanizsa in Serbia for a holiday and has her bag stolen by a thief who is later found dead her investigation takes her on journey she never expected.

This is the third book in the Detective Anna Fekete series, however it works perfectly as a standalone novel as I have not read the previous two. The first chapter immediately drew me in with it’s stunning prose and the need to know what has led to that situation as Kati gives you a glimpse of what’s to come while effectively leaving you hanging on to find out more. The following chapters take you back to events leading up to the first chapter. The structure of this book is well constructed and works extremely well as you follow Anna each day with occasional flashbacks to the past and to other characters.

The tension is built throughout the book with chapters ending at just the right moment leaving questions in the readers mind. The prose is stunning with a subtlety that adds to the atmosphere of the setting and the events that unfold. This fits perfectly with difficult subject matter that runs throughout the book.

Kati has spun a story of corruption set against the backdrop of a tenuous political climate. Current topical issues play a part in The Exiled with the current refugee crisis and the subsequent rise in the far right playing an important role in the story. Kati has covered this with an understanding and insight and yet does not force her views down your throat. She acknowledges the plight of refugees but also acknowledges the concerns of those who lives have been touched by it inadvertently.

Anna is a central component to the story, beyond being the detective who is trying to uncover the truth. Feeling rootless and struggling with her sense of identity and belonging, her experiences and feelings mirror, in some ways, those of the refugees around her. I really empathised with Anna and she is a character I look forward to finding out more about. 

The Exiled unfolds with the gradual peeling away of layers where secret upon secret is slowly unravelled. Anna’s personal journey and the social situation add to the depth of the novel, making this much more than your average thriller.

Intelligently and beautifully written, The Exiled is a tense read perfectly mixing gripping thriller with social and political commentary.

Thank you to Kati Heikkapelto and Karen Sullivan at Orenda for the copy in exchange for my review and for including me on the blog tour.

Published on 10 October 2016 by Orenda. You can purchase a copy HERE.

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About Kati Hiekkapelto

Kati Hiekkapelto was born in 1970 in Oulu, Finland.  She wrote her first stories at the age of two and recorded them on cassette tapes.  Kati has studied Fine Arts in Liminka Art School and Special Education at the University of Jyvaskyla.  The Subject of her final thesis/dissertation was racist bullying in Finnish schools.  She went on to work as a special-needs teacher for immigrant children.  Today Kati is an international crime writer, punk singer and performance artist.  Her books The Hummingbird and The Defenceless have been translated into ten languages.  The Hummingbird was shortlisted for the Petrona Award in the UK in 2015 and The Defenceless won the best Finnish Crime Novel of the year 2014, and ha been shortlisted for the prestigious Glass Key.  She lives and writes in her 200-year-old farmhouse in Hailuoto, an island in the Gulf of Bothnia, North Finland.  In her free time she rehearses with her band, runs, hunts, picks berries and mushrooms, and gardens.  During long, dark winter months she chops wood to heat her house, shovels snow and skis.  Writing seems fairly easy, after all that.  Follow her on Twitter @HiekkapeltoKati or visit www.katihiekkapelto.com.

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour – The Mine by Antti Tuomainen *Author Guest Post*

I am so pleased to be hosting todays turn on The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour for The Mine.  I have a beautifully written guest post from Antti Tuomainen on writing a new book, so I will hand you over to Antti…

Cover

 

The New Book
by
Antti Tuomainen

At first, there is a vivid picture, an impulse: it’s either a character or a setting or combination of these. It’s just a glimpse, a flash. Something that sticks to your mind and stays there, something that at some point begins to demand attention, or at least a question: what’s happening here, who is this person and why is she acting this way? Then there is the question of theme: what is this book about? Is it about love, revenge, betrayal, breaking free, someone becoming the person she was meant to be. Usually the theme comes from the character and her main dilemma, problem or challenge. It has to be something I’m interested in, something I care about.

This impulse-gestation period can take anything from ten years to a couple of months, in my experience. I make notes, highly random bits. I write down name suggestions, both for the novel and for the characters. I go through books, movies, music. I use Google Maps to look at, well, maps. I’m beginning to get a tentative grasp on things. At this point, I write a one-page presentation to my agent. This page of maybe six or seven or eight paragraphs is not a synopsis nor a summary because I don’t know enough to write anything like that. It is more a presentation of a general story idea, my main character, the setting, descriptions of the mood and the tone that I have in mind.

Speaking of the tone and the mood, this is highly instinctual as well. I don’t know where it comes from but I often ‘hear’ the tone and the mood of the novel as music; music that befits the story. I start listening to that music in my study. Not daily, perhaps, but I go back to it. I also go back and forth with my presentation. My agent makes suggestions, I present more characters, some key moments in the story that I think will take place (and sometimes don’t).

Through this working out of character, pinpointing her problem, other characters, setting, tone, mood, assorted stuff, comes the plot. At least a preliminary one, a very rough one. But it’ll do at this point: I’m ready to start writing. I start where I think the story starts. I say ‘think’ because I’ve learned a few things about beginnings. You always have to rewrite them. I always really only know how to begin once I’ve written the whole thing once. But you have to start somewhere, so I start where I think I should.

Writing, the physical act of writing, doing pages, is in many ways a thought process. Naturally, I think what I write, but by writing, I also learn and find out what I have to write next. I’ve learned to trust this method. The writing itself will tell me where to go. (Although, admittedly, I do take detours and make mistakes, but they’re important as well: if nothing else, they tell me where the story doesn’t go.) By writing, I find out what the story really is, what it really is about. Also, I know that once I get to the end I will know the whole plot, too.

And this: this is where I am now. About to begin. Once again. For the seventh time. Writing to find my way to more writing. I love this. This is the new book.

 

The Blurb

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.

Published on 10 October 2016 by Orenda you can purchase a copy HERE.

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About Antti Tuomainen

Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b.1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007.  The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later.  In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, won ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award.  The Finnish press labelled 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 his piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and he is currently working on his seventh thriller.  Follow him on Twitter @antti_tuomainen, on Facebook at AnttiTuomainenOFFICIAL or visit his website at www.anttituomainen.com.

A huge thank you to Antti for the stunning and thoughtful guest post and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda for allowing me to take part in the blog tour.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to read The Mine but it is high on my TBR list so keep your eyes peeled for my review in the future.  Don’t forget to catch the other fantastic bloggers on The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour. 

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour

Author Influences with Sibel Hodge

I have to admit to being stupidly excited to have one of my all time favourite authors on Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today…the incredibly talented Sibel Hodge. 

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Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
From as early as I can remember I always had my head buried in a book. Enid Blyton was a huge fave, and later, Agatha Christie.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved English language and writing stories. Weirdly, I hated English Literature. I think it’s because of the books we had to read: Shakespeare—I couldn’t understand what he was going on about! And Thomas Hardy, which was so hard going. Other classes were given To Kill a Mockingbird, which is one of my all time favourites. If I’d had that to read maybe I wouldn’t have failed my English Lit O’Level!

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I’ve always loved crime, mystery, and thrillers. I also love YA, women’s fiction, and chick lit. They have definitely had an impact because those are the genres I write now.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I started writing the funny stuff—romantic comedies, chick lit, comedy mysteries because they were a great fit for me then. But my writing journey led me onto a new life journey and I became transgenre! Now my stuff ranges from children’s books and YA to NA, thrillers and suspense.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
A huge combination of authors, but some big influences that inspired my chick lit style of books were Catherine Alliott, Marian Keyes, and Sophie Kinsella.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
John Connolly, Lee Child, Gillian Flynn, Samantha Hayes, Tammy Cohen, Elizabeth Haynes, Ian Rankin, Lianne Moriarty, Mark Edwards, Julie Corbin…My list is endless, I could go on and on!

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Two biggies I can think of straight off: Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Mostly I think because they involve very flawed and pretty unlikeable characters (which I love), and because they were just SO different to the normal tropes in thrillers.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Oh, yes indeedy! If anyone pisses me off they could find their way into a book as a nasty character, LOL! But I also like to use my voice to highlight social issues/injustices that I feel are important or don’t get talked about much, for example: human and animal rights issues, and domestic violence and abuse.

A huge thank you for taking part.

Thank YOU so much for hosting me! xx

About Sibel Hodge

Sibel Hodge’s No.1 bestseller Look Behind You has now sold over a quarter of a million copies.  Her books are international bestsellers in UK, USA, Australia, France and Germany.  She writes an eclectic mix of genres , and she’s a passionate human and animal rights advocate.

DuplicityUntouchable

Sibel’s next novel Duplicity is published on 27 December 2016 (you can read my review here), and Untouchable is out now (you can read my review here).

Connect with Sibel

Website:  sibelhodge.com

Twitter: @sibelhodge

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SibelHodgeBestsellingAuthor/