Monthly Archives: June 2018

Author Influences with David Olner

It’s Wednesday which means it is time for another Author Influences. Joining me today is David Olner, author of The Baggage Carousel.

Which authors/books did you read as a child?
I was bang into science fiction when I was a kid, before all the wonderment got knocked out of me. Quite high-end stuff, too, like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury. I remember the sense of disappointment when I took Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” home from the library, giddy at the prospect of reading it, only to find out it was some childhood memoir. I was a kid in a small town. I didn’t want to read about some other kid in a small town. I wanted robots and spaceships.
From there, I digressed into reading horror. I read James Herbert and Stephen King at what was probably a far too tender age. I don’t think the gore ever bothered me but I do recollect being completely distraught when Tad, the little boy, died in Cujo. I remember shouting “Why, Stephen King, why?” repeatedly and banging a scrawny fist against the top of my cabin bed. Cabin beds were a thing in the 80’s, by the way, I wasn’t at sea swabbing the decks or anything.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was, I even won a prize! My mum and dad still have the book (sci-fi, natch) I was awarded for my efforts. Maybe because it’s the only thing I’ve ever won. Meritocratically, that is, not including tombolas and scratchcards. I have enclosed photographic evidence.

 

Which genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read across the board, there’s no particular genre I’d care to be tethered to. I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking, so often my reading choices were dictated by whatever was available in hostel book exchanges that wasn’t printed in Scandinavian or German. Thanks to that I’ve read a lot of crappy books, but I’ve also picked up so much good stuff. The stuff you know you’re supposed to read but would never ordinarily get around to if it wasn’t an enforced choice. My first exposure to writers like John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson was through those book exchanges and I’d count them amongst my favourite authors now.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
“The Baggage Carousel” turned out a lot darker than I expected and a second book I wrote proved even bleaker. As a palette cleanser, I had a go at writing a YA book for a while. It felt good to be writing something that didn’t make me want to scrub my eyes away after I’d shut the laptop down. Time constraints meant I had to shelve it, but I’d love to return to it at some point.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and if so who, what and why?
I read Martin Amis’s “Dead Babies” in my early twenties and it blew my tiny mind. I remember when I was reading it I kept flipping the book over, amazed that a book like that could have a Penguin on its spine. Even the title seemed like an affront to decency. At that point, I realised that you could get away with almost anything under the banner of contemporary fiction. I determined to use that to my advantage, but it took me over twenty years to get around to it.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
George Saunders. I can’t stand it when people bandy the word “genius” around recklessly, it’s like when someone calls you a “legend” just for putting the kettle on. But I think George Saunders probably is a genius. I know he’s definitely a writer to be treasured.

Which books have you read that made you think “Wow, I wish I had written that?” and what was it about the book?
None. If I read a book that moves or inspires me in some way it seems obvious that the author was exactly the right person to write it. But if I read a book by, say, Sarah Waters, I am in awe at the amount of research that’s gone into it. All the depth of field she creates before she can even insert her characters and plot machinations.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
The basic conceit of “The Baggage Carousel” is true. I had a holiday romance with an Australian girl whose ardour cooled considerably when we return to our respective homelands. I remembered that I’d loaned her a nominal amount of money and contacted her to politely ask for it back and it was at that point she expunged me from her social media. The first time I asked her about the money I could’ve done with it, but the next half-dozen times I emailed her it was more about the principle! For the purposes of the novel I tried to imagine how something like that would affect a character who wasn’t as mentally well-balanced as I so obviously am.

Thanks for taking part, David.

David’s novel The Baggage Carousel is out now. Here is what it’s about:

Dan Roberts has a troubled past, anger management issues and a backpack named after an abducted heiress. A chance encounter with Amber, a free-spirited Australian girl, seems to give his solitary, nomadic life a new sense of direction. But when she doesn’t respond to his emails, the only direction he’s heading is down…

The Baggage Carousel is a visceral yet humane travelogue of a novel about life’s great let-downs; family, work and love. Dan Roberts is destined to go down as one of fiction’s great solitary men, equal parts Iain Banks’ Frank, Camus’ Meursault and Seuss’ The Grinch.

You can get your copy of The Baggage Carousel HERE.

About David Olner

Dave Olner likes to travel, relishing the opportunities to annoy people from different cultures. He currently lives in Humberside where he works as a fork-lift truck driver by night and sleeps during the day. Like a vampire, except without the bloodletting, immortality or superhuman strength.

Dave studied Film at the University of Derby. Films are like books where you don’t have to turn the page. He only got a Desmond, though, but bumped it up to a 2.1 on his CV. That little white lie enabled him to fulfil his lifelong dream of driving a fork-lift truck, by night, in Humberside.

“The Baggage Carousel” is his debut novel and will be released by those miscreants at Obliterati Press on the 23rd of March 2018.

Twitter: @daveocelot

 

Blog Tour – Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen *Review*

I am delighted to finally be sharing my review of Big Sister by the fabulous Gunnar Staalesen. Before I share my thoughts, here is what the book is about:

The Blurb

When PI Varg Veum is approached to find a missing girl, by a half-sister he barely knew, his investigation takes him deep into the dark web, and some personal history he’d rather forget…

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

My thoughts

The wolf is back! I was so pleased to be re-acquainted with Varg in Big Sister. He is a character I have a real soft spot for and I had eagerly awaited Gunnar Staalesen’s next book. And, oh boy, does Staalesen deliver again with the latest Veum instalment. While this is a long running series Big Sister does work as a standalone although I would highly recommend checking out the earlier books in the series.

When Varg is commissioned to look for the missing god-daughter of Norma Bakkevik, the case takes him into the murky world of a biker group and the darkest corners of the internet. This isn’t all, though, as the lady commissioning Varg on his latest job is the half-sister he had never met before which adds a personal element to the case.

Staalesen’s writing is pitch perfect and the translation by Don Bartlett is, as always, flawless. Big Sister is well paced and it is the combination of his writing, the characterisation of Veum and a tight plot that makes this book so good. Every word is perfectly placed and yet comes across as effortless. Staalesen has perfected the character of Veum and it really feels as though he is talking directly to you. I adore Veum’s dry observations of life and his down to earth manner.

As Veum has to deal with a whole cast of characters who are never a hundred per cent truthful, and who each harbour their own secrets, the plot is chock full of red herrings. It is utterly gripping and it left me stunned.

As the title suggests, family and its varying guises is one of the underlying themes of Big Sister, however, Staalesen looks at it from its darkest angle. One of the things I really like about the Varg Veum books is that Veum is a private investigator rather than a detective and he is an ex social worker. This enables Staalesen to go further with the plots as he is not constrained by police procedural issues. This fits perfectly with the often uncomfortable story lines that Staalesen writes. He never flinches from covering topics that are taboo, and he pushes you to the limits of what you are used to in crime fiction. This makes his books current, topical and thought-provoking and Big Sister is no exception.

The wolf is back and he is on top form! Big Sister is dark, contemporary, intelligent and incredibly well written. A real page-turner, it’s a fantastic addition to the series.

About the Author

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at
the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book
in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been
published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film
adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring
the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being
filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of
Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives
in Bergen with his wife.

Big Sister was published on eBook on 30 April 2018 and paperback on 20 June 2018 by Orenda Books.

Purchase Links: Amazon UK, Amazon US

My thanks go to Gunnar Staalesen, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

 

Blog Tour – The Date by Louise Jensen *Review*

I am beyond delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Louise Jensen’s latest novel, The Date with my blogging buddy Jen at Jen Med’s Book Reviews. Before I tell you what I thought, here is what it is about:

The Blurb

One night can change everything.

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her…

My Thoughts

Oh, how pleased I was to get my hands on Louise Jensen’s latest book, The Date. I loved The Sister and The Gift (I have The Surrogate sitting on my Kindle but, as with a lot of the books I have bought, I have not had time to read it yet).

In The Date we meet Alison Taylor who, having quite recently separated from her husband, has been on a date with Ewan following encouragement from her friends. However, the following day Alison wakes up with an injury to her head and she can’t remember anything about the night before or her date. The worst, though, is to come. When she looks in her mirror she doesn’t know who she is looking at.

Ali is later diagnosed with prosopagnosia, a condition which affects the ability to recognise faces. Ali’s world is turned upside down as she is no longer able to recognise her loved ones, friends or even herself. The whole concept of The Date is, quite frankly, terrifying. Having this condition would be frightening enough, but to have it happen just as you have woken up from a night out in which it appears you have been attacked, and you have no memory of it makes it doubly so. And things are about to get a lot worse for Ali.

What I really like about Jensen’s books is the way in which she takes a sensitive subject and, while making it frightening, also deals with the issue in a gentle manner. Jensen demonstrates a real emotional acuity in her writing, and she writes about Ali’s diagnosis of prosopagnosia in such a way that it is incredibly affecting and stirring. I just melted for Ali as she struggled to adjust to her diagnosis. Jensen’s depiction of a young woman dealing with this condition is realistic and heart breaking. Rather than skirting over it to concentrate on the thriller aspect, Jensen incorporates it in such a way that it adds so much more to the book.

The Date is also an incredible thriller. As the plot progresses it becomes incredibly unnerving and it plays on all our deepest fears. It becomes clear that Ali has a stalker who is going out of their way to frighten her. Jensen has weaved twists and turns that had me constantly trying to guess the identity of the perpetrator of Ali’s torment (at one point I was looking at the dog suspiciously, and I love dogs!). The Date seriously messed with my head.

Jensen has a real way with words. She manages to crank up the tension so you are constantly chewing on your lip or your fingernails as you read. Jensen also manages to make her thrillers beautiful with prose that is stunning and The Date is no exception. It feels as though every single word has been carefully chosen and yet it also feels as though it has come naturally.

Once again, Jensen has written an outstanding novel. The Date is utterly unnerving and totally tense, while at the same time sensitive and moving. An absolute must-read.

The Date is published on 21 June 2018 by Bookouture. You can get your copy here: 

Amazon: myBook.to/TDLJSocial
iBookStore: http://ow.ly/FMOm30kyQXf
Kobo: http://ow.ly/7lzy30kyQZH
Googleplay: http://ow.ly/9h2q30kyR2K

About the Author

Louise Jensen is a Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate. To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at www.louisejensen.co.uk, where she regularly blogs flash fiction and writing tips.
http://www.louisejensen.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/Fab_fiction
https://www.facebook.com/fabricatingfiction/

A huge thank you to Bookouture, Louise Jensen and Kim Nash for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

 

Author Influences with Rachel Amphlett

A huge welcome to this week’s Author Influences guest, Rachel Amphlett. Rachel has taken time out to tell us all about the books and authors that have influenced her.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
From an early age, I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series – I think it’s a prerequisite for being a crime writer! From there, I discovered Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series and because we used to go to a second-hand bookshop quite regularly, I picked up both The Crimson Rust and The Ring of Nenuphar by CB Rutley. The Ring of Nenuphar made an early impression on me because although written in the 1930s, it featured a female pilot and an adventure in northern Africa. It took me a while, but I managed to locate a copy to replace the one I had as a child a couple of years ago – and it’s still a great story.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved English at school – I got bullied from an early age through most of my school years, and so the library became a sanctuary for me. All that daydreaming paid off, because I used to love writing my own stories.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
Crime fiction and spy novels are at the top of the list – that stems from reading my grandparents and parents collection of books, including Dick Francis and Jack Higgins. Outside of those genres, I really enjoy historical fiction, especially by authors such as Ken Follett and Robert Harris.

Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Peter Robinson, and countless others have all had an impact on what I write – I make sure I read all their interviews, and every time they have a new book out I pounce on it, because I know I’m going to learn something new about the writing craft.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’d really like to write historical fiction – I’ve got a couple of projects on the sidelines, but it’s difficult to find the time to write them!

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
When I was still at school, reading books by Alistair Maclean and Jack Higgins got me started writing my own action and adventure stories.

I think my crime fiction writing happened by osmosis – I read so much of the genre, it’s impossible not to soak it up and after a few years of not doing anything creative after I left my last band, when I started writing again it was natural to lean towards the crime genre.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Yes, Michael Connolly is one, and Robert Crais is another. They have a real knack for pulling you into the story and you become invested in the characters and setting.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Any of the Shardlake series by CJ Sansom. His research is meticulous, so you feel like you’re in Tudor London with all the sights, smells, and political intrigue. He’s another author that when there’s a new book out, I’ll drop everything to read it!

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
No, but I hear snippets of conversation or read a headline and my brain goes off on a tangent playing “what if?” – that’s usually how stories begin in my head!

Thanks so much for taking part, Rachel.

Rachel is the author of the Detective Kay Hunter Mysteries and the first in the series is Scared to Death. Here is what it’s about:

“If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.

With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.

For the killer, the game has only just begun…

You can grab your copy HERE.

About Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian passports and can usually be found plotting her next trip two years in advance, usually with a crime fiction festival tacked on for good measure!

Website: https://www.rachelamphlett.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelamphlett.author/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelAmphlett
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelamphlett/

Author Influences with Richard Rippon

Today I’m delighted to welcome Richard Rippon to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books for this week’s Author Influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I used to read a lot of Enid Blyton stuff when I was very young. Not so much Famous Five, but The Secret Seven, which was obviously better because there were two more of them. I’d also read Roald Dahl. The Twits was a favourite. Then when I was a little bit older, I remember reading Grinny by Nicholas Fisk, which might have been where my fascination with darker stories began.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Yeah, I was pretty good at it. In middle school I won a story writing competition, where they gave you the start of the story, and you had to finish it. In my ending, everyone died of course. I won a nasty-looking lime green Parker pen.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I don’t read much crime fiction, with the exception of Thomas Harris and a bit of Val McDermid. I like to read stuff like Chuck Palahniuk, Irvine Welsh and Cormac McCarthy. I like the irreverence of Welsh and the economy of McCarthy, so that might come over in my work.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I think I’d like to make a Dario Argento-style leap from serial killer novels to more supernatural stories. Or maybe a dark sci-fi novel, like Under the Skin.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I can’t think of anyone specifically. It’s always been an ambition, but I never thought I could be any kind of success. I always thought it was too fanciful to pursue as a career, so I went off and became a scientist instead. It took me a long time to realise I was more suited to writing. Maybe Roger Hargreaves. It goes that far back. I wrote a book when I was very young called ‘Mr Lick-a-Lolly’.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
The truth is, I don’t read a huge amount at the minute, if it’s not for research. That said, I always buy the latest Brett Easton Ellis. The same used to be said for Palahniuk, but I’ve missed a few now.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I can remember reading High Fidelity and loving the natural style it has. I was going through a break up and I thought I could have written something similar at the time. I loved About a Boy too. I like a lot of Nick Horby’s stuff, but he loses me whenever he writes about football.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not so much plots, but I do steal bits of people, certain characteristics, traits or little scenarios. It makes things easier, because you’re drawing from real life and it makes everything feel more authentic. It’s not always the best idea though, because people recognize something and assume the entire character is based on them. Then you have to explain it’s a composite character, to their disappointment or relief, depending on the case.

Thanks for taking part, Richard. The Twits is my favourite  Roald Dahl book too!

Richard’s latest novel, Lord Of The Dead, is out now. Here is what it’s about:

A woman’s body has been found on the moors of Northumberland, brutally murdered and dismembered. Northumbria police enlist the help of unconventional psychologist Jon Atherton, a decision complicated by his personal history with lead investigator, Detective Sergeant Kate Prejean.

As Christmas approaches and pressure mounts on the force, Prejean and Atherton’s personal lives begin to unravel as they find themselves the focus of media attention, and that of the killer known only as ‘Son of Geb.’

You can grab your copy HERE. Check out my thoughts on Lord Of The Dead HERE.

About Richard Rippon

Richard Rippon has been writing since 2007, when his short story, Full Tilt, was long-listed for a Criminal Shorts Award. In 2009, he won a New Writing North Award for his first novel, The Kebab King. Since then he’s had a number of short stories published in newspapers, magazines and online. In 2012, he was commissioned to write a short story (The Other One), which appears in the Platform anthology. He lives on the North East coast with his wife and two children, and works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Richard was also a social media phenomenon in 2016, as one of the men behind the twitter sensation #DrummondPuddleWatch.

Follow Richard on Twitter @RichRippon and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/richard.rippon.3.

 

 

Author Guest Post – Needle in the Haystack by Steve Dressing

Please give a huge warm welcome to debut author Steve Dressing. Steve joins me today with a great guest post, which I’m sure you will enjoy reading. Steve’s book Game Keepers was published on 14th May 2018, however, I will tell you more about that later. So, I now hand you over to Steve.

Needle in the Haystack

I’m a new, self-published author with a book I think will be enjoyed by many if they can just find it. Game Keepers is the first of what I hope will be several books I publish over the next few years through my own publishing company, Number 6 Publishing. Turning from my career as an environmental scientist to a publisher and author of books for kids is quite a change. It has been a lot of fun, but there have been many new things to learn, most of which come with an unpleasant price tag. The world isn’t particularly kind to authors in my situation, but we’re a group that doesn’t give up easily.

Getting to the point of selling the book was probably the easiest part of the journey for me. Marketing has been a huge challenge, particularly after purchases by friends and family dried up. I know that the faithful have told others about the book but even with my large family that only takes you so far. It feels like my book is simply a needle in a huge haystack competing against the thousands of books neatly displayed in huge bookstores and featured on major websites. How do I get people to even bother to check the haystack to see if there is something worthwhile inside?

Multiple outlets are being used to advertise the book, including social media, libraries, and book stores. That alone doesn’t set you apart, however, because this business is very competitive with an ever-growing group of talented new writers. Of all the possible outlets, I want most to be able to share my book with the local community. Game Keepers has a baseball theme, and I am currently a coach and an umpire in the neighborhood Little League. I find it unethical, however, to use my platform in the Little League to advertise. That has caused me to seek other outlets to reach this same community, outlets such as the local hardware store. One day I would like to do a book reading at the store with both new and old faces from my community.

I haven’t yet dreamed of being lost in one of Van Gogh’s beautiful piles of hay in his “Haystack in Provence”, but sometimes I feel that way. Sometimes I feel as if my story is covered by layers of inescapable hay. My hope is that people will come by, pick up a fork, and tear apart the haystack. Quickly the needle lost in the haystack becomes treasure.

Thank you so much, Steve, for the guest post. Writing and completing your book is hard, but I always think that the marketing side is even harder! I (and I’m sure the readers of my blog) wish you every success with Game Keepers.

Game Keepers by Steve Dressing

Baseball is no longer fun for the kids in the Waterfalls youth league after the playoff game ends in an ugly argument among parents and coaches. The players leave the ballpark in shame, but big George Starr kicks at the ground and everything changes.

An amazing adventure begins as they discover a magical world underground, Down Home, and encounter strange and magical beings who help them play better and have fun. Trouble begins, however, when several players break the rules of this new world.

An intruder presents them with a far greater challenge. Can they stop this trespasser and save Down Home without breaking even more rules and risking permanent banishment?

Purchase links: Amazon UK, Amazon US

About Steve Dressing

Writing has always been a passion for Steve Dressing. Throughout high school and continuing through graduate school, Steve turned to writing in the forms of poetry, creative writing, and story building.

When Steve and his wife decided that one of them should remain home to help raise the kids, Steve agreed that he should be the one. At this point, the children were beginning to write in school. Steve’s oldest daughter, Courtney, would frequently come home with a different story she had written. This and his experiences helping out at school and coaching caused Steve to rediscover his own passion for writing.

Steve found the stories that deserved to be written from his observations of the world around him, stories that empowered children, allowed kids to find their own meanings to life, and argued that children should be wide open to the many opportunities of their youth.

Author Influences with Sandy Day

Welcome to this week’s Author Influences. Today I welcome Sandy Day to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books to talk about her favourite books and authors. Sandy has been on my radar for a while as I have read loads of great reviews of her book, Fred’s Funeral. It is a book that I will be reviewing later this year and I will tell you more about it towards the end of this post.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I read all the Anne books- that is, Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery. I read all the Misty books- the horsey ones by Marguerite Henry. And I read all the Jalna books- by Mazo de la Roche. I was into series.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Without even trying, I was a teacher’s pet in the English class. I could read well before the age of six, and I liked to write stories as soon as I could spell- even before! I loved reading, so English class was a breeze to me. I was always writing, so the analyses of texts interested me on a personal level. Receiving positive feedback from teachers served to reinforce my passion for language.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I have always read literary fiction. Every now and then, I dabble in romance or crime or mystery but I don’t really love them unless they’re written in a literary style, that is, lots of metaphor and subtlety and an original use of words and structure. I aim for that in my own writing.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Probably memoir. I’ve always been a bit of a confessional writer and have kept a journal since age eight. My fiction is usually based on real events so it would not be much of a stretch for me to write memoir.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
In grade 10 (age fourteen), I was introduced to Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. I have never been as blown away by a work as I was by that book. The subject matter (a cowboy outlaw), turned into poetry, turned into a narrative, mesmerized me. I’ve strived to write like that ever since.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Oh yes. Alice Munro- so sad she’s retired. Miriam Toews- I love her books.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews would be one of those books. The voice of the narrator, the subject matter (a Mennonite teenager living in Manitoba), the language and similes, the story (her complicated relationship with her father) – it’s still the best novel I’ve ever read. Coming-of-age stories are my favourites.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My novel, Fred’s Funeral is based on the life of my Great Uncle, a shell-shocked WWI veteran. I wrote a disclaimer in the front of it apologizing in advance to my relatives for the poetic license I took with the facts. So far, they’ve all given me positive reviews.

Thank you for taking part, Sandy. My TBR pile has just got bigger!

Sandy’s novel Fred’s Funeral is out now. Here is what it’s about:

Only at his funeral, does a family come to know and love a long neglected and shell-shocked soldier from WWI. Based on a true story. Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to war, and his ghost hovers near the ceiling of the dismal nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish and disparaging sister-in-law. As Viola dominates the remembrance of Fred, his ghost agonizes over his inability to set the record straight. Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he shut away for most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Why didn’t his family help him more? Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.

You can buy a copy HERE.

About Sandy Day

Sandy Day is the author of Poems from the Chatterbox. She graduated from Glendon College, York University, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Sandy spends her summers in Jackson’s Point, Ontario on the shore of Lake Simcoe. She winters nearby in Sutton by the Black River. Sandy is a trained facilitator for the Toronto Writers Collective’s creative writing workshops. She is a developmental editor and book coach.

www.sandyday.ca
www.facebook.com/SandyDayWriter/
@sandeetweets
amazon.com/author/sandyday
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5103092.Sandy_Day

Book Review – The Walls Came Down by Ewa Dodd

The Blurb

A young boy goes missing during a workers’ strike in 1980s Communist Poland, unravelling a chain of events which will touch people across decades and continents. Joanna, a young journalist in Warsaw, is still looking for her brother, who’s now been missing for over twenty years. Matt, a high-flying London city financier is struggling with relationship problems and unexplained panic attacks. And in Chicago, Tom, an old man, is slowly dying in a nursing home, losing his battle with cancer. What connects them? As the mystery begins to unravel, the worlds of the three protagonists are turned upside down. But can they find each other before time runs out?

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be able to read and review Ewa Dodd’s debut novel The Walls Came Down as it had so many elements that I love in a book. A triple timeline, three different countries (including one in Eastern Europe, which I love) and a mystery, The Walls Came Down sounded right up my street. And, I’m so pleased to say, that it was.

The Walls Came Down starts in 1980s Communist Poland when a young child, Adam, goes missing. We are then brought forward to 2010 and introduced to Matty in London, Joanna in Warsaw and Tom in Chicago. As each character tells their story via alternating chapters, we are left to wonder about the links between the three and where it will lead to.

Multiple points of view and threads can be a difficult thing to pull off, but Dodd does it with ease and all three work together really well, coming together beautifully at the end. Dodd has ensured that all three voices are distinct and I became fully invested in each. I have to admit, though, to having a special soft spot for Tom and his situation. Full of regret and guilt as he looks back over his life, Tom firmly wormed his way into my heart. Don’t read this book if you are feeling fragile as it is an emotional read and will result in the use of tissues!

I have a special affection for Eastern Europe, and I was delighted that part of the book was set in Warsaw, a city I hope to visit at some point in my life. While I didn’t get a true sense of place as The Walls Came Down is largely a character-based book, it didn’t really matter as I was so invested in each of the storylines and the glimpses I did get into Warsaw, I enjoyed. It does, however, provide an interesting glimpse into Warsaw’s tumultuous political history and I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.

The Walls Came Down is a book about loss, regret, self-discovery and how one action can have repercussions across decades and countries. I really enjoyed this emotional tale and look forward to reading more from Ewa Dodd in the future.

A huge thank you to Ewa for my copy of The Walls Came Down in exchange for my unbiased review.

You can get your copy HERE.

Cover Reveal – No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister

It’s been a while since I have taken part in a cover reveal but I could not resist being involved in this one as I have LOVED Gillian McAllisters previous books Everything But The Truth and Anything You Do Say (click on the titles to read my reviews).

So, before we see the cover here is what No Further Questions is about…

The police say she’s guilty.
She insists she’s innocent.

She’s your sister.
You loved her.
You trusted her.
But they say she killed your child.

Who do you believe?

Original, devilishly clever and impossible to forget, this is a thriller with a difference. You won’t be able to tear yourself away from the trial that will determine both sisters’ fates.

Oh. My. God. How good does that sound. But we are going to have to wait for a little while as No Further Questions is published on 2 July 2018. You can pre-order your copy HERE.

However, this is supposed to be a cover reveal, right? Well, here it is…

Whoop, whoop! Doesn’t it look and sound AMAZING??? I can’t wait!

Author Guest post – The Battle of the Bucket List Author by Urcelia Teixeira

I am delighted to welcome author of the Relic Chaser Adventures Urcelia Teixeira to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today. She has a great guest post for you to read and after I will tell you a little about her books. So, I will now hand you over to Urcelia.

The Battle of the Bucket List Author 

When I recently escaped my demanding brood and fled to the nearest coffee shop to finish my latest book, I soon found a complete stranger –all corporately dressed – pull up a chair at my invitation only table.

He had been sitting behind me and noticed that I was writing a book. I have no idea how long he’d been eyeballing my screen, but what followed was forty-five minutes of him sharing his dream to write and publish a book.

If you log onto Amazon or any of the massive online publishing portals, you’ll notice it’s flooded with – as I call them – ‘bucket list’ authors.
The stay-at-home moms, corporate dads, retirees or bookbloggers who have always had the desire to author a book are forced to succumb to the self-publishing monster to fulfill their dream. (Because let’s face it. You’d have to be JK Rowling or EL James to instantly get signed by a traditional publisher!)

And herein my confession… I am a proud bucket list author!

Yup, I am one of those who had the fulfilling corporate career, did my dues by raising three children (to where they are finally able to feed themselves!) and realized I only have about 20 years left before I am supposed to retire. (Yes! I’m 46!)

So, if not now, then when, right? And then came the self-doubt. That little voice in the back of your head that tells you the whole world will be laughing at you, so why bother?

Well, I did bother and have zero regrets! Yes! Even when my husband and kids had to resort to making their own two-minute noodles three nights in a row so I could finish another couple of chapters. I did it! I self-published not one, but two Archaeological Thrillers that will have Indiana Jones and Lara Croft cringing with jealousy! (Or so my reviewers keep telling me #grin). I have fans! Ones who actually want an autographed book and liken me to the Ernest Dempsey’s and Nick Thacker’s of the world!

But do you, the bookblogger, the avid reader, and dare I say publisher really know what goes on in the mind of a self-published author?

While I certainly can’t speak for the other bucket list authors out there, I most definitely can share what this bucket-list author endures on a daily basis.

Let’s start with the fact that I have to pop a pill every night just to switch my mind off from plotting a book good enough to sit next to my mentors, mentioned above, on the bestselling list. It never stops. Grocery stores, while driving my car, next to the soccer field even in church (Don’t judge me! Blame Alex Hunt!)

Point is; my mind is continually conjuring up exciting characters, ancient relic mysteries and evil criminals that will keep my readers coming back for more. I have become the catatonic zombie wife and mom, entirely self-absorbed and removed from my household because my mind is busy hunting down a relic in an underground tunnel in the middle of Cambodia somewhere. (Hint! Check out my latest book in the Alex Hunt series.)

Then, at some point, you heed to the advice of the professionals out there and fork out a small treasure to hire beta readers, editors, and proofreaders to turn your masterpiece into a scarlet canvas. Enter the devil on your shoulder that says you should stick to carpooling and take this dream off the bucket list! But you bounce back and keep going, tougher and stronger than before.

Then comes the copious amounts of self-marketing that tests your sales skills like never before! Years across multiple corporate sales industries left me totally unprepared for tackling this beast! The (I believe) sole reason so many authors chase after the coveted publishing contract. After all, they know all the shortcuts to beating Amazon’s algorithms and shoot you straight to #1 on the Amazon Bestseller lists; have the world’s best editors and book cover designers at hand and have a thousand book marketers fighting to get a copy of your book. What’s not to covet?

Which brings me to the much-needed book reviewers whom, as a new self-published author you simply cannot do without. But nothing grows a thicker skin than seeing that dreaded 1-star with the giant axe that chops you and your book to pieces and dooms you into slamming your laptop shut for two weeks while you lick your wounds. And we all get them. It’s an essential part of ‘growing up’; so don’t sweat the small stuff. Let the sarcasm and malicious word porn roll off your back and CARRY ON! It’s ok. It shapes you, humbles you, pushes you to do better and helps you learn from your mistakes.

So what’s left? Oh yes… the budget! Book marketing costs money; lots of it! Listing your book on large promo sites like Bookbub and Netgalley costs a small fortune (or a thirteen times bigger one if you live in South Africa and have to convert Rands!) Can you market your book for free? Absolutely, but it might take several books and years to get anywhere near any bestseller spot worthy of being discovered by hungry, adventurous readers.

What’s the moral of the story, you might ask?

Stay true to yourself as a bucket-list Author, don’t get discouraged and keep doing what you love! WRITE!

If I’ve missed anything or you wish to add more, do comment below or shoot me an email at books@urcelia.com

To sign up for my VIP reader’s list, please click HERE.

Massive thanks, Urcelia, for writing this great guest post. I really enjoyed reading it.

Urecelia has two books in the Relic Chaser Adventure series. Here is what they are about:

Alex Hunt and the Chase for Rhapta

I am Alex Hunt, daughter of the famous Archaeological Hunt Team. Head Researcher and… Relic Chaser!

When Alex Hunt’s mother tragically dies during her lifelong quest to find Africa’s ancient Lost City of Rhapta, Alex develops Agoraphobia (an unnatural fear of specific places and situations) and vows never to chase again.
So when her father, Professor Charles Hunt, Head of Archaeology at a prestigious British University mysteriously disappears several years later, it leaves her with no choice and forces her out of hiding to find him.

With nothing to lose, battling her worse fears and with the mighty University behind her, she travels to Tanzania, Africa in search of her missing father.

The chivalrous and charismatic Sam Quinn, the University’s illusive top Archaeology student accompanies her, and she finds herself in unfamiliar territory with a man who manages to chip away her self-built walls.

Her action-packed adventure through the treacherous African Jungle brings forth an abundance of danger, fear, and heartache as she rediscovers her love for life, science and ancient relics, beyond her cocooning existence and disease.

Will she find her father and the Lost City of Rhapta or will she die under the curse and the native-fearing Rhapter-bird said to guard the vanished city?

Alex Hunt and The Golden Urn

ALEX HUNT and SAM QUINN are back for another Action-packed Archaeological Adventure! This time, in the Cambodian jungle!
Finding The Golden Urn was supposed to be easy. Nothing the skilled Alex Hunt and Sam Quinn haven’t done before. But little did they know they would become the center of an international conspiracy. A conspiracy, so entangled in a web of secrets and crime that it could cost them their lives.

Faced with danger and underground syndicates, they soon realized they couldn’t trust anyone. Nothing was as it seemed.

After their return from The Lost City of Rhapta (Alex Hunt Adventures Book 1), Professor Charles Hunt retired and handed the reins to his daughter, Alex.

So, when the sacred Golden Urn believed to have contained Buddha’s remains, mysteriously disappeared from a mountain shrine in Cambodia, the Cambodian government hired the highly acclaimed pair for their assistance in finding the holy ancient relic and returning it to its rightful position in the Royal temple in Phnom Penh.

Alex and Sam were on the next plane to Cambodia in their quest to find the sacred Golden Urn. But what they encountered was far more than what they expected.

Would their pursuit for The Golden Urn put them through the ultimate test, or would it lead to the discovery of a relic no one even knew existed?

You can buy Urcelia’s books here:

Amazon UK and Amazon US

About Urcelia

An emerging author in Mystery Adventure Fiction, Urcelia’s inspiration for her novels emanate from her keen interest in all things mysterious. From vanished civilizations, ancient relics, and lost treasures to UFO’s, conspiracy theories and even Ghosts.

As a mother of three sons, she stands little to no chance not to be swept up in classics like Indiana Jones, National Treasure and The Mummy and often binge-watches Netflix mystery series like Stranger Things, with her husband.

Her novels are generally based on true-life historical legends, which she turns upside down into page-turning Action & Adventure Mystery fiction, and occasionally Romance Mystery Fiction; suited to readers from 15+.

She loves travel and solving mysteries and can’t resist sharing her adventures with her readers.

Connect with Urcelia:

www.urcelia.com

Facebook: @urceliabooks

Twitter: @UrceliaTeixeira

Instagram: urceliateixeira