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Q&A with George Roberts, author of From Ten Down To Three @FTDTTGRoberts

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From Ten Down To Three by George Roberts

Synopsis:

In 1986, James collapses after a game of football at school. The cause is diagnosed as a tumour on the brain. Although treatment is successful, James will never be the footballer he was. The story of James continues on into his thirties as he falls in love, starts a family and becomes, in a modest way, a hero.

In From Ten Down to Three George Roberts examines fate as events happen in James’s life that leave him questioning whether things are meant to be or are simply coincidence. A phone call made in error lead to him finding love. A bang on the head reveals the presence of the tumour. Saving a young woman’s life leads to an unexpected encounter.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Hi, I was born in Kingston Upon Thames during the heatwave of 1976, my mother often reminds me of this as she was also carrying my twin brother. My mother was an ex police officer and my father was a prison officer. I lived in New Malden until the age of 11. In 1987 we all moved to Malvern, Worcestershire, this was my father was born, Malvern is the place that I still consider home.

From Ten Down To Three is partly fiction but a lot of it is based on my own life, my own thoughts, feelings and events, although this is told through the eyes of James, a fictional character.  For many years I had always been writing short stories, stories that would pop into my head at any given time. I may have seen something that was slightly out of the ordinary, this led to a trigger in my mind and would often evolve into an elaborate story as to why that man may have been walking along with one shoe, a woman may have been crying in the middle of town. I’d always think why?, why was she crying? I just love writing, but I love it even more when I get the burst that begins the start of a story, I really enjoy how the plots unfold in my mind. From Ten Down To Three looks into the feelings, thoughts and scenarios that James finds himself in. James is very inquisitive and is always looking for answers as to why things happen, happen to himself but also to others. After the discovery of a brain tumour these questions just got bigger and bigger, James starts to look into the events that led him to certain points in his life, he questions himself as to why they happened, if they hadn’t of happened where would he be now. The tumour was found by luck, luck that happened just before it was too late.  James starts to examine the possibility of fate, and he has a strong feeling that he is being helped by someone or something during the darker times in his life. James has a great and strong family who help him during the recovery after having the brain tumour removed. James, although going through this rough time deals with everything with his strong sense of humour, a humour that his whole family have, a humour that leads him to some hilarious moments, moments that follow him into his adulthood.

n 1986, James collapses after a game of football at school. The cause is diagnosed as a tumour on the brain. Although treatment is successful, James will never be the footballer he was. The story of James continues on into his thirties as he falls in love, starts a family and becomes, in a modest way, a hero.

In From Ten Down to Three George Roberts examines fate as events happen in James’s life that leave him questioning whether things are meant to be or are simply coincidence. A phone call made in error lead to him finding love. A bang on the head reveals the presence of the tumour. Saving a young woman’s life leads to an unexpected encounter.

From Ten Down to Three is a delightful read full of wit and a dash of tragedy.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) The journey from writing for me was at times quite a difficult one, and very frustrating. I’d often read articles by authors that writing the actual book was the easy part, getting an agent or finding a publisher was the hard bit.  I now realise that this is very true.  So, the book was finished, well in my eyes it was. Right lets find an agent, this was tough. The rejections, the near misses and the criticism was not was I was expecting.  Eventually I had some great news, an agent had seen my work and decided to take me on.  I had the book edited and refined, all was looking great, where was my agent? I couldn’t get hold of him at times, the times that I did speak to him he seemed to be away with the fairies. He promised me many things, publication, book signings etc, nothing.  I made the choice that it was best that we went our separate ways, trouble is I could not get hold of him to let him know.  I eventually did but I had wasted nearly three years with him. 

All of this taught me much, and all of the trouble that I went through was for the best because I then found Austin Macauly, they took on my book and the process was so much smoother. The rejections in the early stages toughened me up and they also gave me the motivation to keep trying. I never gave up, it is not in my nature.  Nobody should ever give up on their dreams,  keep going and always remember that just because some people say it’s not good enough does not mean that they are right,  KEEP GOING!!

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Wow, I have so many.  I love Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes,  I could read these over and over again. I really enjoy Dan Browns work, The Davinci code was amazing, although the film….erm. Digital fortress is another favourite. You can probably tell that I like anything with a great plot with plenty of twists, these two authors are exceptional at delivering both. I did however enjoy the Harry Potter books, and I really love Stephen King also, his best work for me is The Green Mile, the film was great too. I would recommend any of these books to almost anyone.

I used to read a lot of Sherlock Holmes as a teenager actually. I loved Roald Dahls books, The BFG, THE TWITS and THE WITCHES, that’s just to name a few. It was around the time when I was reading these books that I would start to write short stories myself. Roald Dahl, I guess was probably my earliest recollection and my introduction to the world of books.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) OK, there have been quite a few moments, my first radio interview, my first book signing, the people I have met along the way, most have been lovely and so helpful.  The best moment for me, and I would think for most authors is that moment they get their finished book in their hands for the first time,  let me tell you, its an incredible feeling. All your hard work is there in the palm of your hands, it is actually quite an emotional moment really.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) Throughout the whole process from writer to published author I can honestly say that my whole family have been so supportive,  it is however my wife and children that have had to put up with my frustrations, disappointments and the odd hours that I would find myself writing. My wife has been fantastic and so honest, if she doesn’t like something that I have done then she will tell me, she is good like that, 

Authors Links:
Twitter: @FTDTTGRoberts

*Huge Thanks to George Roberts for taking part in a Q&A on my blog.

#GuestPost by the fabulously talented #WW2 author Robert Ryan @robtryan #Inspiration

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THE SPY WHO INSPIRED ME

 

It is summer 2004 and I am sitting in the sunshine at the rear of Gunton Hall near Norwich, sharing a bottle of red wine with my friend John Debenham-Taylor, admiring the Robert Adam chapel that sits at the end of his garden. I have known John for five years or so. He helped with the Special Operations Executive background to my novel – based on a true story – Early One Morning, about Bugatti champions turned secret agents (he was for a while an instructor at the Beauleiu ”finishing school” and seems to know everyone who passed through SOE), and we have kept in touch. He is excellent company, a raconteur and gentle bon viveur, a man in his early eighties but with an enviable lust for life and an ear for a good story.

I have come this day, though, to pick his brains once more. I am working on a novel set during the Berlin airlift of 1948 and he mentioned in passing at one of our previous meetings that he had been there at that time, as part of his peripatetic diplomatic career. As the wine flows, he offers me plenty of insights into his time in the city, including a memorable trip to East Berlin, where he attended an opera and found that the Russian officers weren’t inclined to remove their ludicrously tall hats during a performance and that the chronic shortage of soap was most in evidence during such gatherings (“You could buy almost anything with a bar of Lifebuoy,” he said).

As I am leaving, my notebook and tape recorder full, I hesitate and ask one final question. “John, you said you were a diplomat in Berlin at that time?” He nods. “But there was no embassy. The city was under military governance by all four Allied powers.”

John, for the first time since I have known him, looks uncomfortable. “Excuse me a moment, Rob,” he says and scurries inside. He comes back, his face set to serious and sits, beckoning me to do so once more. “I have just asked my wife if it is all right to tell you the truth.” About? “Well, I was in Berlin working for SIS.” Or MI6 as it is more commonly known. “In fact, I worked for them all my life since the war.”

I take my coat off and fetch my notebook once more. I can always write in the margins.

What were you doing in Berlin? I ask. “Waiting for the Russians to roll across and take West Berlin. We had a network of ex-Luftwaffe radio operators who would come on line if that happened, to be our eyes and ears.” Anything else? “Well, yes, we ran a couple of brothels in the East.”

That was a showstopper.

“The idea was that the Russian officers would indulge in a little pillow talk.” Did it work? He thinks for a moment. “No, but we gave them some terrible diseases.”

 

*

For several weeks I was chuffed with myself. I had tricked the old spy into admitting that he had switched from SOE to SIS at the end of the war. Then the realisation slowly dawned on me. John had been an instructor in escapology at Beaulieu – in his seventies he had demonstrated for a TV documentary how to get out of Gestapo handcuffs when your hands are behind your back – and techniques in resisting interrogation. There was no way I had trapped or cracked him. He had taken me by the hand and led me to a point where even a dolt like me had to ask the right question. A career spy like him would never volunteer information. I had been played. (And by the way, the “giving them some terrible diseases” remark wasn’t just an off-the-cuff joke – any officer who caught such a thingw as shipped back to Moscow; it was a good way of nobbling a troublesome opponent).

Later, I found what a remarkable career he had really had. His first secret mission involved going to help the Finns against the Russians in 1939 by instructing hem how to use the howitzers that the UK had (secretly) shipped to the country. When I told the Finnish Embassy about this, they struck and awarded him The Winter War medal, more than seventy years after the event. In 1943 he helped plan D-Day, subsequently joined SOE, volunteered as a Jedburgh – three man sabotage teams – to help the partisans in Warsaw, although the Germans liquidated all opposition (while the Russians stood by) before he could be deployed, so he ended up working out in the Far East for Force 136.

As all these facts and accompanying stories dripped out slowly over the years, some of these found their way into my books – The Blue Noon, After Midnight, The Last Sunrise and Dying Day in particular.

Later I discovered that he had enjoyed a career in espionage that took in Bangkok, Hanoi, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Washington and Paris, and that back in London he was deputy head of MI6 and had even turned down the top job. Much of this latter information came to light after his death last year. So here we have a man who was covert operative from 1939 to his retirement, just after the Berlin Wall fell. I miss him a lot; miss our chats, his wine cellar and his astonishing adventures.

So, I am going back to my notebooks, to write a series that will eventually run the gamut of his remarkable life in secrets, from Finland to the last days of the Soviet Union. It will be fiction (much of what he did remains classified) but this way I hope I can hear his voice, and self-deprecating chuckle, in my head once more. The title of the series? The Longest Spy.

 

* You can find a summary of John’s life and times here: http://www.scotsman.com/news/obituaries/obituary-john-debenham-taylor-intelligence-officer-1-4050722

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Robert Ryan
Authors Links:
Web: https://robtryan.com/
Twitter: @robtryan

#Review and Q&A: Purged by Peter Laws 4* @revpeterlaws @AllisonandBusby #Horror meets #CrimeFic

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Purged by Peter Laws

The synopsis:

Matt Hunter lost his faith a long time ago. Formerly a minister, now a professor of sociology, he’s writing a book that debunks the Christian faith while assisting the police with religiously motivated crimes. On holiday with his family in Oxfordshire, Matt finds himself on edge in a seemingly idyllic village where wooden crosses hang at every turn. The stay becomes more sinister still when a local girl goes missing, followed by further disappearances. Caught up in an investigation that brings memories to the surface that he would prefer stay buried deep, Matt is on the trail of a killer determined to save us all.

My review:

Wow crikey bobs, this novel is dark, creepy and is destined to give you the heebee jeebies. I am a huge fan of horror movies, since my early teens. The one to truly scar me, was The Exorcist! I knew it was due to the religious elements. Years later I read the novel, of The Exorcist in one day and then refused to keep it, as I didn’t want it in my house. There is just something about the darkness of religion in horror or crime fiction, that is guaranteed to make this reader, feel terrified!

The novel opens with a very dramatic and vivid scene. So you will know straight away, if this is one you can handle! As the novel develops we meet Matt Hunter, fallen Christian and Professor of sociology. Matt regularly works with Sgt Bob Gerard and DS Larry Forbes to assess/assist with crimes with a possible religious element. Almost immediately we are taken to an emergency hostage situation where Nigerian Kwame Adakay is holding a knife to his wife’s throat, claiming she is possessed and demanding a vicar. I couldn’t believe how much action and intensity the novel held within it’s opening pages. A very impressive start by all accounts.

Next, we meet Matt’s family. Wife Wren and step children Lucy and Amelia. Lucy appears, not be Matt’s biggest fan and the standard step parent/child relationship is easily explained. The family are due to leave for a holiday in an idyllic Oxfordshire cottage. As Wren attempts to win a contract to develop a local church, as Wren is an architect by trade. However, when they arrive at the church, they discover the church is not all it seems…….

Matt’s past is explained slowly throughout the novel and in particular the story of his mother’s death and eventual break from the fold of the church is both moving and horrifying! Whilst staying at Kingdom Come Church, Matt is reacquainted with someone from his past, Chris Kelly. Pastor Chris runs a church with 300 members and they hold what they call ‘purging’ ceremony’s. Members are baptised, saying bye to their old selves as the enter the ‘kingdom of light’. Now as this storyline unravels, I found it getting more and more creepy. Is this a church or a cult? Why does someone’s deep passion for their faith, scare me so much?

When Matt receives an image of a young girl via email and the young girl is reported missing in the village moments later. The novel shifts to a much darker and intense vibe, mainly due to, creepy pastor Chris. I found his character, one I would want to avoid at all costs. He comes on very strong, appearing controlling and self-righteous. When another woman is reported missing and the numbers of missing females rises. Matt must solve the mystery, before it strikes at the very heart of his family. What is the connection behind the girls/women? Is there a religious element to their disappearances? Can he solve it?

Due to the religious content, I was not only questioning the intent of the characters. But what could also be visions of faith or delusions. My general opinion, is that it drove me slightly mad, but totally in a good way! Gripping, dark and almost definitely sinful stuff! 4*

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you give a summary of your novel Purged

A) Purged is the first in a series of novels featuring Matt Hunter. He’s an atheist ex-vicar who now works as a London academic. As well as writing books debunking the Christian faith he uses his Biblical training and theological skill to catch religiously motivated murderers and cults. In Purged, he’s on the trail of an evangelical killer who’s obsessed with baptism. Basically – and this isn’t given any spoilers since it’s in the first chapter – he wants to save people’s souls for heaven so he kills people soon after they’re baptised. It’s a way of fast-tracking them into paradise without giving them time to lose their faith. Yeah, he’s a nut – but he makes for an interesting killer, because in many ways he cares for his victims.

…and what’s your background?

Like Matt Hunter, I’m also an ordained church minister – but unlike him I haven’t turned away from that! These days my denomination (Baptist) have freed me up from looking after a local congregation, so now I write full time. But I still travel around speaking and preaching in churches.

I also present a YouTube channel and podcast called The Flicks That Church Forgot, which reviews scary films from a spiritual perspective. I write a horror film column for the print magazine The Fortean Times. So basically, my working life has a lot of scary and sacred stuff in it! But I balance that out with lots of fun stuff too, ha ha.

Q) Crikey Bobs! I hate to make a sweeping generalisation, but that was not a novel I expected from a Reverend. I have to know, where the inspiration for this novel came from?

A) Yeah, people seem surprised because the book is pretty gory and unpleasant in places and there’s a bit of swearing here and there. But I think the main thing that strikes people is that the main character is so openly antagonistic toward God and Christianity. Some might expect me to write a more cosy book that promotes Christianity. In some ways, this book does the opposite! I’m okay with that though, because I think readers can handle that. Plus I’m just really interested in Matt as a character. A lot of crime fiction has a hero who battles with alcoholism or divorce etc, but Matt is healthy and happy in his family. His issues just tend to be a little more cosmic – so he struggles with the idea of faith. I think a lot of people struggle with it, actually, so I’m hoping people can relate to it. I’ve had some amazing responses to the book, both from religious people and atheists.

Q) I have to be careful not to risk spoilers but the novel dangles the possibility that Kingdom Come Church, may be a cult with Pastor Chris in church. Was this something you researched?

A) I didn’t do any specific research into cults, but I do have lots of experience of people assuming the Christian church is freaky and cult like! To be honest, Abby, I only started going to church when I was in my early twenties. Before that I was really anti-religion, especially towards Christianity. And my early stereotypes of Christians were that they were at best boring and irrelevant or at worst corrupt and trying to brain wash me. Then at University I met Christians who were really normal people, and intelligent too. They were experts in science and other subjects I assumed would clash with religious faith. So I looked into the claims about Jesus and it did change me. I don’t mean I turned into some freaky Stepford Husband, who lost his personality. I just mean it totally revolutionised my sense of purpose and worth. These days, I’ve seen the local church as a pretty amazing place for community, support and spiritual adventure – but I still remember my suspicions of it…and I also appreciate that there are plenty of really whacky believers out there who get the attention. Even more so, with these Matt Hunter books, ha ha!

Q) I think the character of Matt and his backstory worked very well. Is there a real life Matt that you based the character around?

A) In terms of his backstory of losing faith, he isn’t based on anyone in particular. He’s more a composite of reasons why people get understandably disillusioned with the idea of God. But in other ways, he’s kinda based on me. I know it’s lazy, but I just couldn’t help it. We share the same quirky humour and lots of his observations about the church are based on my own thoughts. Course, he’s way cooler, braver and intelligent than me, but I can live with that.

Q) As stated in my review, the one horror movie. To truly scar me was The Exorcist. What was a movie that frightened you as a teen or adult?

A) Oh, The Exorcist. That really freaked me out, but it also was one of the first films that made me really start to think about the idea of spirituality. Oddly enough, horror movies and scary stories have been an important part of my coming to believe in God. Which sounds a bit odd, I know.

Other films that scared me include Roman Polanski’s Repulsion – about a young woman who gradually goes insane. That really got under my skin. And films like The Amityville Horror and The Changeling from my youth really gave me the creeps. I watch all sorts of films, but I do love horror. It’s one of the reasons why Purged is listed as a Crime Fiction book, which it is, but there’s a generous dose of the macabre in there too, with hints of the supernatural. So some people have described it as a mixture of the two. But it’s written in such a way that you can read it purely as a crime thriller and it works fine that way. I just like a bit of extra spook in my stories, so that’s there too if you like it.

Q) What’s next, have you anymore plans to write another novel?

A) Not just plans…it’s already done! The follow up to Purged is called Unleashed, and it hits shops on July 20th. Hopefully if enough people buy the first two books, the publishers will commission more – I certainly have book three plotted out and ready to start working on. Since Matt isn’t tied to one city or police department, he can technically go anywhere in the world, tracking down crazy religious killers.

Incidentally, I actually spent the last five years trying to get published and wrote four novels in that time. It’s been a long road of rejections, but not that the books are coming out, and being so well received, it’s fantastic.

As for what I’m working on right now, I’m actually writing a non-fiction book for Icon Books. It’s funny how that came about. Basically I was worried I might not get any publishing deal for Matt Hunter, so I asked my agent to pitch my idea for a non-fiction book instead. Then I got a two book fiction deal, and soon after the non-fiction was accepted too! So that’s three books of mine coming out in the space of 18th months or so.

So this non-fiction thing is (currently) called The Frighteners and comes out in hardback and audio in the UK and US next year. It’s basically me on a Louis Theroux-style quest to understand why humans are drawn to the strange, morbid and scary. I’ve been interviewing psychologists, anthropologists and other experts while also meeting self-proclaimed vampires and ghost hunters. I’ve been werewolf hunting in Hull, trekking the snowy streets of Transylvania, I’ve held a lock of Charles Mansons hair in my hands, and have been subjected to a bizarre day and night of scares for a BBC documentary which is out next year. In October, I’ve even been invited to Germany to board a vintage schooner ship, to recreate the journey Dracula made from Transylvania to Whitby! That’s with a bunch of Norwegians who will be in character for the full trip. I just heard that my character is somebody posh so I don’t have to spend the trip scrubbing decks!   I also like composing music, and so I have recorded and released a full soundtrack album to Purged. It’s currently streaming for free at https://peterlaws.bandcamp.com/album/purged-the-original-soundtrack

*Huge Thank you to the author for taking part in a Q&A on my blog.

PL: Nah, thank YOU for being interested!

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Peter Laws
Author Links:
Web: www.peterlaws.co.uk
Twitter: @revpeterlaws
Instagram: @revpeterlaws
Facebook: Peter Laws Author

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgZZklJNcUEZplFDboNho6g

Podcast:

 

 

Guest author Q&A with, Katie Salidas @quixotickatie #USATodayBestseller #Supernatural #Roamance

Today I decided to open up my blog to something a little different! I want my blog to be inclusive and cover a wide-range of authors and genres. So I am super pleased to feature a guest Q&A with author Katie Salidas.

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Katie Salidas

Katie Salidas is a best-selling author known for her unique genre-blending style that led to the award-winning Paranormal Dystopian Thriller: Dissension.

Host of the Indie YouTube Talk show, Spilling Ink, nerd, Doctor Who fangirl, Las Vegas Native, and SuperMom to three awesome kids, Katie gives new meaning to the term sleep-deprived.

Since 2010 she’s penned four bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, and the RONE award-winning Chronicles of the Uprising. And as her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

Find out more about Katie Salidas by visiting her website and signing up to be a VIP Reader with access to exclusive FREE books and sales.

KT

Katie Salidas
Authors links:
Web: http://www.katiesalidas.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Katie-Salidas-Author/214780936916
Twitter: http://twitter.com/QuixoticKatie
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Katie-Salidas/e/B003APXXWO

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Happy to be here today, and thank you very much for the opportunity to chat with you and your readers! I’m genre-blending paranormal author, Katie Salidas.

The paranormal realm is my playground. I have always had a love of creatures that were beyond what we consider normal and have secretly wondered if it was possible that such beings could really exist. That’s the underlying theme to all of the books that I’ve written and published.

When I was a child, my greatest inspiration came from reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. She wrote characters that were traditionally beastly creatures ruled by their lust for blood. But, what she did with them, that set them apart from other novels that fit squarely into the horror genre, was give them life and meaning. She showed us that these creatures could be more. They could do more. They could also, and this is the kicker, fit into society nearly undetected by the humans surrounding them.

That thread was something I took and ran with in my own writing. I aimed to deliver stories about creatures who, at times, are more human than the humans they interact with.

One of my favourite series, The Little Werewolf, is all about dealing with very human issues but from a supernatural point of view. Being a freak, or thinking you’re one, is something all teenagers go through at some point or another. But, what if you were really a freak of nature? In Giselle’s case, she is a werewolf who was lost into the foster care system when she was just a baby. She never grew up with a family or a pack so she truly considers herself a freak of nature because she was never taught that it was okay she sprouted a big bushy tail and howled at the moon each month. Naturally, her condition has caused her many problems growing up, and she’s never been adopted, so growing up this way has made her guarded, unable to trust, and wary of getting close to anyone. Other than the fact she’s a werewolf, many of these feelings are things kids who have had a rough childhood or grown up in the system have experienced. Even kids who’ve had normal upbringings struggle with whether or not they fit in and deal with social anxiety. And that’s what makes this series so popular. It’s relatable while capturing all of this from a supernatural perspective.

Just like with the stories I read in my youth, I wanted to give my creatures a real place within the normal world and maybe, have the reader questioning if these creatures could be living next door to them and going to school or work with them.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

I like that you call it a journey because it is very much that. There are two types of writers out there: Pantsers and Plotters. And of those two types there are varying shades of grey in between, but for arguments sake, let’s look at black and white. I’m a pantser. That means when I set out to write a story, I experience the plot unfolding as I go. I meet the characters and, in essence, follow them along on their journey, chronicling the story as it happens.

I may start the story with an idea of what I want to happen, a to-do list if you want to call it that, but ultimately the book takes on its own life as I work through each chapter and surprises me with new twists and turns I never expected.

And that is the easy part. Writing that first draft is very much like jotting down the short hand of what you see watching a movie for the first time. After that there are numerous rounds of revisions that take place before it is ready for anyone to read.

I call that first draft the skeleton draft. And once the bones are in place it’s time to add the muscle, the flesh, and the heart into it.

Between finishing that first draft and eventually going to print, that manuscript of mine sees no less than 8 layers of revisions and improvements, making its way through beta readers, my editor, and proof-readers.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

I’m very pro indie author. I work with a lot of independent authors through my youtube show, Spilling Ink and have found a wealth of new and innovative reads from some extremely talented authors. Depending on your genre preference I’d suggest Jenna Elizabeth Johnson for some wonderful Middle Grade to YA epic fantasy. For the Upper YA readers, Alexia Purdy. If you’re a thriller or horror reader, check out Jason LaVelle.

The indie market is filled with some very excellent authors and a variety of stories that break from traditional tropes and really deliver thought provoking ideas.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

My love of supernatural creatures began with, as I said above, Anne Rice. As a teen I also enjoyed reading the Vampire Diaries (before they became a popular TV series), and being the oddball that I was, I really enjoyed Tolkien.

I must have read and re-read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings at least 5 times. I really enjoyed the depth of that world, all the way to the songs that often broke the pace of the book, to sing.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

The best moment any author can hope for is when a reader tells you, in person, that they loved your work. When I go to conventions or bookstores with my backlist, nothing brightens my day more than seeing a familiar face come up to me. Maybe they picked up a book at a previous show. Maybe they friended me on Facebook. Whatever the circumstances are, I remember them. I cherish my readers! When I get to stand with that reader and chat with them one-on-one, and hear how much they loved the book, it’s pure bliss.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

My family are so supportive of my writing. My oldest daughter loves to attend events with me. She brags to her friends that her mother is an author. My mother and father both tell me how proud they are. My father is always bragging to anyone who will listen about his talented daughter. My siblings too. They are like my cheering squad. Without them, I doubt I would have made it this far. And in this business you really need to have people in your corner, bolstering your confidence, because as an artist your self-worth is often tied to how your art is received by the public.

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Review Hunting The Hangman, Q&A with author Howard Linskey @HowardLinskey @noexitpress

Hunting the Hangman Blog Tour Poster

Hunting The Hangman by Howard Linskey

Synopsis:

TWO MEN. . . ONE MISSION. . . TO KILL THE MAN WITH THE IRON HEART

Bestselling author Howard Linskey’s fifteen year fascination with the assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the holocaust, has produced a meticulously researched, historically accurate thriller with a plot that echoes The Day of the Jackal and The Eagle has Landed.

2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on a man so evil even fellow SS officers referred to him as the ‘Blond Beast’. In Prague he was known as the Hangman. Hitler, who called him ‘The Man with the Iron Heart’, considered Heydrich to be his heir, and entrusted him with the implementation of the ‘Final Solution’ to the Jewish question: the systematic murder of eleven million people.

In 1942 two men were trained by the British SOE to parachute back into their native Czech territory to kill the man ruling their homeland. Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik risked everything for their country. Their attempt on Reinhard Heydrich’s life was one of the single most dramatic events of the Second World War, with horrific consequences for thousands of innocent people.

Hunting the Hangman is a tale of courage, resilience and betrayal with a devastating finale. Based on true events, the story reads like a classic World War Two thriller and is the subject of two big-budget Hollywood films that coincide with the anniversary of Operation Anthropoid.

My review:

I am a huge fan of the ww2 genre, whether it be fiction or non-fiction books. This novel was perfect for me as it was a mixture of the two. A fictionalised account of Operation Anthropoid the mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich! Being released just days before the 75th anniversary of the operation, it is the perfect gift for the WW2 fanatic in your life.

The novel has in-depth research and the historical accuracy is on point. However, where it really delivers is in its portrayal of the real life characters Jan Kubis, Josef Gabcik and Reinhard Heydrich. They are written with such insight into their personalities and thought process. It makes for terrifying reading to be listening in, on Heydrich’s inner most thoughts.

Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik are the two agents, recruited by Emil Strankmuller and Frantisek Moravec, to parachute back in to occupied Czechoslovakia. The mission is one of secrecy, surveillance, strategic planning and all while under the threat of death upon discover. The novel really does depict the bravery of the WW2 SOE agents and the determination to bring down a violent and brutal regime. There is also a real break down of Kubis and Gabcik personalities. What drove them and what they were like as men.

Reinhard Heydrich is a well-known SS Obergruppenfuhrer from WW2 history. Most readers can easily picture his face and his ‘aryan’ look. Within this book, we get to really know him as a man, father, German and a Nazi. Heydrich was rumoured to be Hitler’s Heir to power, part of the ‘thousand year Reich’ Hitler promised his followers. Heydrich was also a huge figurehead in the planning for the Final Solution which in turn led to the deaths of 11 million people. Known as the ‘blonde beast’ and the ‘Hangman’ in Prague. Heydrich was a man whose reputation superseded him. With rank, power and privilege, Heydrich was a man who could make your life a living hell, what stood between you and the gates of Dachau.

We also see Heydrich the father, how he doted on his favourite child daughter Silke. His ambition to raise his family up within German society, whilst suffering inner fears he may have some non-German ancestry. Heydrich was not a conflicted man with his responsibilities, he took great pleasure in organised murder. Referring to sparing one Jewish child, as assuming Germany of a further future enemy! A friendless, career obsessed, suspicious man with an accusatory mind, is one to be avoided at all costs. But imagine Heydrich was your boss? Your neighbour? A distant family member? With Himmler concerned regarding the effects of mass killings on the SS men themselves. Heydrich must come up with a plan. But how do you kill millions of people quietly, discreetly and rapidly? In constant competition with Josef Goebbels, a growing hatred for Martin Bormann, Heydrich is under pressure to please his beloved Fuhrer.

Gabcik is a Slovak native, at just 29 years old he has barely lived. Gabcik is portrayed as patriotic, loyal, passionate and easily angered. He has medals for gallantry. Gabcik is a fiercely determined young man. Kubis is just 28 years old, he has a youthful face. He struggles with the shame of not fighting and although not originally picked for the mission, he fully embraces it. Kubis also has a secret love still in Prague which adds to his determination to strike back at the Nazi’s. They begin to plan their attack. How do you kill a Nazi, when you know there will be repercussions? Where is Heydrich most vulnerable? How will they undertake this mission with no help from resistance? The intelligence suggests that Heydrich does have a weakness, one that can be exploited. Heydrich has relaxed security and a gluttonous appetite for mistresses.

When Heydrich is asked to give a speech, at Hradcany Castle his official residency (commandeered from a Jewish sugar trader) to the cream of the SS to boost morale. We learn of his military background, even being awarded a fighter pilot badge and the Iron Cross. We also learn that the choice for those living in occupied land is one of, co-operation and survival or resistance and death! A time when suspicion of being a double agent can mean you simply disappear from existence!

The plotting of Kubis and Gabcik continues and they endeavour to outsmart the Nazi’s at every turn. The novel portrays the attack and aftermath in excellent detail and the author really has done his homework. There is so much detail, I simply can’t cover it all in my review. The novel is atmospheric, evocative and thought provoking. You really get a sense of the bravery of the SOE agents and what the war cost them, in term of loss of life and loss of living! As a reader you also get to see the inner working within the Nazi party and its members. How it is runs on a basis of ‘one up manship’, brutality, violence and fear. Highly recommended 5*   

Q&A:

I have followed Howard’s crime series for quite some time. They are guaranteed good reads and I love to escape to Durham within the novels. When I saw via a Facebook post, he was writing a novel in the WW2 genre I was instantly intrigued. The WW2 era is one of my favourites in terms of novels, non-fiction reads and movies. I just find the whole era fascinating! I was lucky enough to read an arc of Hunting The Hangman and it is absolutely brilliant! There is so much detail and historical fact, which meant I instantly had so many questions about the authors research process. So here is my Q&A with Howard Linskey.

Q) Let me start by saying that the cover is amazing! What was your response when you saw the finished cover design?

A) I absolutely love the cover. No Exit always do great covers and we talked about how it should look. It was important that readers knew what they were buying, even before picking it up. We figured this was a book for people who might read WW2 non-fiction and grew up with books like ‘The Day of The Jackal’ and ‘The Eagle Has Landed’, just like I did, so we deliberately went for that retro look. I think it’s stunning personally and I am so glad you like it.

Q) You are already an established writer in the crime fiction drama. What was the inspiration behind writing Hunting The Hangman?

A) It started a long while ago, way back in 2000, when I saw a documentary on TV about the assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich. I’m not sure I had even heard of the man back then but I kept wondering why this episode wasn’t better known? I think Operation Anthropoid is one of the most dramatic and emotionally engaging stories of the Second World War. I was gripped by the tale of just two men going after Heydrich in occupied territory then the shocking aftermath of the incident.

Q) Is there a possibility you may write a WW2 genre crime fiction novel?

A) I do like the idea of WW2 as a backdrop to a crime story. People have tried it of course and it does work. Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther springs to mind and more recently Rob Ryan had Dr Watson from the Sherlock Holmes stories rejoin the army as a doctor and investigating murder at the front, which was inspired. Admittedly that was World War One but I thought it was a great concept. I do have another WW2 story featuring a fictional S.O.E agent, which came about because of the research I did on the Special Operations Executive’s part in the Heydrich mission. If people like ‘Hunting the Hangman’ then maybe it will spur me on to complete this.

Q) Hunting The Hangman is incredibly well researched and has fantastic historical accuracy. What is your research process? Did you come across anything that shocked/surprised you?

A) After I saw the documentary on Heydrich, I bought numerous books, including Callum Macdonald’s brilliant account of the assassination attempt, the memoir of one of Heydrich’s closest Lieutenants, Walter Schellenberg, and a dozen other books; about Prague under Nazi occupation, the Third Reich and the S.O.E. I also researched endless articles on the web and got into all sorts of mini-topics, like how a Halifax plane had to be adapted from a bomber into an aircraft capable of dropping parachutists. I flew to Prague to see all the major locations in the story and even managed to find some places that only feature briefly, such as the exiled Czech President Eduard Benes’ house in Aston Abbotts, Buckinghamshire. To be honest I immersed myself in this story.

I think the most surprising thing that came out of the research was Heydrich’s own hang-ups about race and his fear he might have Jewish blood himself, which is a dreadful irony, considering he wanted to murder eleven million people on that exact same basis. He even shot a mirror when very drunk because he thought its reflection made him look Jewish. As for what shocked me, well pretty much everything he and the Nazi hierarchy wanted to do was almost beyond belief and I still find their efforts to enact multiple murder on so many human beings incredibly shocking.  

Q) Reinhard Heydrich is a well-known and famous SS face of Nazi Germanys history, The man behind the ‘final solution’. One thing I liked in your novel, is the way we the reader, see the many faces of Heydrich as a man, father, German and Nazi. How much time went into researching Heydrich? Was it difficult to write his thoughts and actions?

A) As you can imagine, I read a lot about Heydrich and his conduct. Even his fellow Nazis called him the Blond Beast so that should give you a clue as to his true nature. It was difficult to write those chapters because I had to try and get inside his head, to view the world like he did, and his world view was extremely disturbing. I also wanted to show how these people could appear normal, even loving, in the right context, with their families for example. It’s important to remember that so we can spot these evil men in the future. They didn’t wear horns or rant and froth at the mouth all of the time and that’s what makes their vile thoughts and deeds even more shocking. Each chapter heading has a real quote from a senior Nazi; a device I used to show I was in no way exaggerating their twisted views.

Q) The novel also covers the bravery of double agents and SOE agents. I have a few favourite WW2 heroes from history such as Violette Szabo, lieutenant Peter Luard, Alan Turing and Odette hallowes. Who are your WW2 favourite heroes?

A) I read a lot about the S.O.E agents and they were incredibly courageous. Many of them didn’t make it out again as we know. In particular I’d recommend reading about another S.O.E heroin, Nancy Wake, who showed incredible heroism working with the Maquisard. There are so many real people I admire from the Second World War, so it is hard to single them out but I am in awe of Major Dick Winters from the 101st airborne division, made famous by Stephen Ambrose in ‘Band of Brothers’ and played brilliantly played by Damian Lewis in the TV adaptation. He showed tremendous leadership and courage as well as humility.

Q) What are your favourite/recommended reads in the WW2 fiction and non-fiction genre?

A) In non fiction I love all of Ben Macintyre’s books, especially ‘Agent Zig Zag’ and ‘Rogue Soldiers’ and always recommend Anthony Beevor’s incredible books, ‘Stalingrad’ and ‘Berlin – The Downfall’. ‘First Light’ by Geoffrey Wellum is one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve finished it. It’s his account of flying Spitfires in ‘The Battle of Britain’ at just eighteen years of age, which is hard to imagine.

In fiction, I’d single out Jack Higgins for ‘The Eagle Has Landed’, Rob Ryan again for his S.O.E books, especially ‘Early One Morning’ and James Clavell’s ‘King Rat’, which depicts the struggle for survival in a Japanese P.O.W camp in Singapore.

*Huge thanks to the author for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you success with Hunting The Hangman and your future writing. 🙂

HL: Thanks so much for having me on the site and asking such interesting questions. It’s been fun!

HL
Howard Linskey
Authors Links:
Web: http://www.howardlinskey.co.uk/
Twitter: @HowardLinskey
Via Publishers:http://www.noexit.co.uk/howard-linskey

Huge thanks to the fabulous people at No Exit Press, for my arc copy of Hunting The Hangman, in return for an honest review. 🙂