Tag Archives: Guest Post

**Blog tour** Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley #GuestPost @mrsmjriley @KillerReads

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Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley. This book is described as A darkly compelling psychological thriller, full of twists and turns, perfect for fans of Louise Jensen, Cass Green and Alex Lake. For my stop of the blog tour the author has written  A day with author……… post

First of all here is the book description to whet your appetite.

Secrets lie beneath the surface…
Two men, seemingly unconnected, are discovered dead in a holiday boat on the Norfolk Broads, having apparently committed suicide together.
Local journalist Alex Devlin, planning an article on the dangers of internet suicide forums, starts digging into their backgrounds.
But Alex’s investigation soon leads her to a much darker mystery – one that will hit closer to home than she could possibly have imagined, and place the lives of those she loves in terrible danger.

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We (my husband and I) are woken up bang on seven in the morning by Reggie, the youngest of our two golden retrievers, who, until then has been sleeping (relatively peacefully) down by the side of my bed. He is so reliable as an alarm clock that we haven’t set an actual alarm for over a year. My husband gets up and makes me a cup of tea before he goes off to work (he is a television reporter). I stay in bed and listen to the news for another half-hour or so. This is luxury for me as I had years of getting up at just after five for my job.

About half-past eight I take the dogs out. We are lucky to live in a small village with a lot of countryside around, and a large area of common land at the bottom of our garden. I find the walk really useful for thinking about what I’m writing, solving plot problems, working out my characters and how to move them from one place to another.

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When I get back I fiddle about having some yoghurt and honey and tidying up a bit before making a coffee and hitting that writing desk…..where I fiddle and faff about some more, having a quick look at twitter and e mails and Facebook and Instagram and then I open up the document with writing in it…and begin. Hopefully I will have left the previous days masterpiece in the middle of a scene or I’ve worked out what I’m going to say while on the walk so I’m not sitting there wondering where to go next.

I write some words.
I delete those words.
I look at Twitter and Facebook for inspiration.

I turn the WiFi off. Then have to turn it on again when I need to research something or look at a map (necessary for what I’m working on at the moment) so have to be very firm with myself and turn it off again or maybe I will fiddle about on social media…I do have the attention span of a gnat!

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More coffee and a thousand words later (hmm… a bit of creative licence there…) it’s time to take the dogs out again…a shorter walk this time and I take the opportunity to listen to a play or the omnibus edition of The Archers or the Kermode and Mayo film podcast – fabulous stuff if you like film!

Back to the desk for thirty minutes, then lunch and then… *whispers* a little sleep (sometimes curled up with Reggie on the futon thing in my study) or watch something on Netflix – often something recommended by author Mark Edwards (though he doesn’t know I take him up on his Twitter recommendations!) before feeding the dogs (see how they dominate!) and then doing bits of housework, like making up the fire, cleaning the floors (dogs, remember?) and other dreary tasks. I might do some more writing before my husband gets home at about 8.15pm. Then it’s a glass of wine (just the one?) and maybe a chat with one of the children (two boys and a girl, all of whom have left home).

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This is an ideal writing day which happens occasionally, though is more often than not interrupted by real life and shopping. And it has taken years of writing around the children and the day job and many, many rejections to get to this point.

I have, of course, glossed over the tears and the swearing and the banging of head on desk when the writing doesn’t go according to plan!

About the author

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Mary-Jane wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Mary-Jane has three grown-up children and lives in Suffolk with her husband and two golden retrievers.

DARK WATERS is her third crime thriller featuring investigative journalist, Alex Devlin

You can follow the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryjanerileyauthor/
Twitter: @mrsmjriley
Instagram: maryjanerileyauthor

Links for the authors books:

Dark Waters http://amzn.to/2CLaUkK

After She Fell http://amzn.to/206Pp3u

The Bad Things http://amzn.to/2CJc3sN

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**Blog tour** End Game by Matt Johnson #GuestPost @Matt_Johnson_UK @OrendaBooks

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers on the End Game by Matt Johnson blog tour. END GAME is the riveting conclusion to Matt Johnson’s Finlay trilogy. The author has kindly written an exclusive guest post which explores modern day slavery,  but first here’s the book description to whet your appetite.

Book description

Robert Finlay seems to have finally left his SAS past behind him and is settled into his new career as a detective. But when the girlfriend of his former SAS colleague and close friend Kevin Jones is murdered, it’s clear that Finlay’s troubles are far from over. Jones is arrested for the killing, but soon escapes from jail, and Finlay is held responsible for the breakout.

Suspended from duty and sure he’s being framed too, our hero teams up with MI5 agent Toni Fellowes to find out who’s behind the conspiracy. Their quest soon reveals a plot that goes to the very heart of the UK’s security services. End Game, the final part in the critically acclaimed Robert Finlay trilogy, sees our hero in an intricately plotted and terrifyingly fast-paced race to uncover the truth and escape those who’d sooner have him dead than be exposed.

End Games is available to purchase via Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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Modern slavery, closer than you think – Matt Johnson

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To many, the word ‘slavery’ conjures up a picture of people in chains, abducted and forcibly transported against their will to work on plantations across the world. Today, in a town, a street or a home near you, modern slavery is taking place under our very noses.

Just recently in the news, we heard about the Oxford and Rochdale cases which involved British girls trafficked within the UK for sexual exploitation.But although sex trafficking makes the headlines, modern slavery is just as prominent in forced labour and domestic servitude.

During my research for both Deadly Game and End Game, I travelled to Romania to learn about the routes used to move young women from their villages to work in places where they think they are heading for a better life. This is one thing I learned that all victims share. They think they are heading to a better job, for a more interesting life or for an education. Whatever the reason, they all share one thing – they are travelling to something they believe is better than they are leaving behind.

In the UK, the slave trade was outlawed and abolished in the 19th Century. After that, a person holding slaves could be prosecuted for offences such as false imprisonment, assault and – in more modern times – under Health and Safety legislation.

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It was only in 2004 that an offence was created of trafficking people into the UK for the purpose of forced labour, and it wasn’t until 2009, when the Coroners and Justice Act came into being, that an offence of holding a person in slavery or servitude was created. A similar offence also covers requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and, for each offence, our prosecuting authorities have to prove that the accused knew, or ought to have known, that the victim was being held or forced to work against their will.

Deadly Game started in Romania, and is based on a gang who move young women from their homes to work in the sex-trade. Although fiction, the story has a sound basis in fact.

Sex slavery isn’t a new concept to Europe. In World War II, the Nazis set up ‘Joy Divisions’ in concentration camps that were filled with young Jewish women. These brothels were frequented by both the soldiers and the co-operative non-Jewish inmates. Across Europe, the German Army also set up many ‘Soldattenbordell’ where local women were forced into providing unpaid sexual services in return for avoiding the camps. Mass kidnapping raids were carried out in countries such as Poland, where young women were rounded up and then transported to become entertainment for the troops.

As the war ended, many Romanian soldiers who had been serving in the German Army returned to their homeland with an understanding of the money to be made by forcing women into the sex trade. As the forces of law got to grips with the criminal gangs, the method of providing girls simply changed from one of coercion to one of deception. In times of economic depression, hungry and desperate for paid work, it became easy to trick girls into applying for waitress, cleaning and other menial jobs in the cities. Once on the journey, the girls were doomed. It is no coincidence that most of the victims of trafficking are from economically deprived areas.

Deadly Game follows the journey of once such girl. End Game concludes the story. I’m aware that book are fiction, and will be read for entertainment, but I also hope that, by telling the story, I may be able to raise awareness in people’s minds that slavery hasn’t gone away, and the chains on the victims, although less easily seen, are still very much in use.

About the author

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Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital.

One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He has used his detailed knowledge and memory to create what has been described by many readers as a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing.

 

More information, including book tour dates and festival appearances at www.mattjohnsonauthor.com

Newsletter sign-up at https://mattjohnsonauthor.com/newsletter-signup/

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A day with author James Carol #GuestPost @JamesCarolBooks

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Today I’m thrilled to have author James Carol share a guest post about his day as a writer. I’m a huge fan of this author and I especially love his FBI profiler Jefferson Winter series, it’s one of my favourite crime series. The author has also just published a psychological thriller as J. S. Carol it’s called Kiss Me Kill Me, and another read I would highly recommend

So without further ado here’s……………..

A Day In The Life Of James Carol

A typical day starts with getting the kids to school. One of the big advantages of working from home is that I get to do things like that. If there’s a school play or sports day, I can get there. My best memories of the past year are hearing my daughter sing like an angel at the Christmas concert, and watching my son running his heart out to win his race.

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Once the kids are in school then it’s time to put on a CD and get to work. Writing in silence is a kind of torture for me. Music helps to block out all the other distractions so I can focus on the words. I listen to everything and anything. For example, right now I’ve got a Police compilation playing. That said, it could just as easily have been The Beatles or Lorde or even Taylor Swift.

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If I’m working on a first draft, my aim is to get at least 1,500 words written. Do that for a week and I’m 7,500 words further on; do it for fourteen weeks and I’ve got a novel. Like Stephen King said, a novel gets written one word at a time. Think about it. Writing one word is achievable, however, if you’re sat there at the start of a novel and you’ve somehow got to find at least 100,000 words, that’s just too daunting. Where the hell do you start? So I write one word at a time, and it’s amazing how quickly those words turn into sentences, then paragraphs, and whole chapters.

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I tend to clock off around one. By that point my brain is fried. Of course, writing is one of those occupations that you never totally switch off from. I’ll often find myself falling back into the novel at various points during the day, working through things in my head. Then there are those times when I end up doing the dreaded night shift. This usually happens when I’ve got a particularly gnarly plot problem to work out. For some reason, my brain decides that two o’clock in the morning is the best time to do this. And, no, I don’t get out of bed to write things down. If the idea is good enough then I’ll remember it. Lennon and McCartney did a similar thing in their early days, and it seemed to work out okay for them.

About the author

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James Carol is the bestselling author of BROKEN DOLLS, the first in a series featuring former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter. The novel was released in the UK in January 2014 to rave reviews and reached number 1 on the Amazon fiction and thriller charts. In addition James is writing a series of eBooks set during Winter’s FBI days. PRESUMED GUILTY is the first of these. Under the pseudonym J.S. Carol, he has also written a number of standalones. KISS ME KILL ME is the latest.

James was born in Scotland and moved to England in the early-eighties. At various times he has worked as a guitarist, sound engineer, guitar tutor, journalist, and a horse riding instructor. When he’s not writing, James can usually be found in a pair of headphones writing and recording music. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children.

For more information go to: www.james-carol.com

To learn more about James Carol’s book click here….James Carol Books

My thanks to James Carol for taking time out of his busy schedule to write this post for my blog.

**Blog tour** Beneath The Skin by Caroline England #GuestPost @CazEngland

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Today I’m thrilled to be the next stop on the Beneath The Skin by Caroline England blog tour. To celebrate the occasion The author has written a special guest post for the book review café. Before I get to the post I should mention this is the author’s debut novel and was published by Avon on the 5th October 2017 so you don’t even have to wait to buy a copy. I thought I would include some of the comments about this book to pique your interest.

‘I loved Beneath the Skin. It’s so beautifully written and kept me hooked right to the end. Caroline England knows her wonderful cast of characters inside out. I didn’t want this book to end.’ LIBBY CARPENTER, AUTHOR OF 99 RED BALLOONS

‘I was gripped immediately and I couldn’t wait for it to finish – perfect for fans of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins’ KATERINA DIAMOND, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE TEACHER AND THE SECRET

‘Gripping, immersive, horribly believable, Beneath the Skin asks can we trust our friends? Should we believe our lovers?’ SANJIDA KAY, AUTHOR OF BONE BY BONE

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If Beneath the Skin was made into a film…

Who would I cast? This is a fun question but surprisingly difficult!

Firstly there’s Antonia, beautiful, perfect, flawless on the outside, but on the inside… Physically I always picture Alesha Dixon in my mind, but an actress who’d be perfect is Thandie Newton. Remember her playing DCI Roz Huntley in Line of Duty? The way you didn’t really know what was going on behind her fine eyes? Yup, that’s Antonia!

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Her husband David… Big, posh and gregarious on the surface. Not a trouble in the world; everyone’s friend. He’s probably a little too young, but James Norton could act his socks off as David. Or Rupert Penry-Jones, he’d fit the bill nicely.

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Then we have Irish Mike. This is tricky. So many dark haired handsome Irish actors around. Colin Farrell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Cillian Murphy, to name a few. But which actor can play someone who is thoughtful and introspective as well as being a joker with a great smile? Well, it has to be Aidan Turner, hasn’t it. I’m thinking more Mitchell in Being Human than Ross Poldark! Aidan played the many layers of Mitchell so brilliantly, he could certainly nail the complicated Mike.

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Mike is married to Olivia. Her feisty character doesn’t necessarily match her pale, pretty and petite looks. Carey Mulligan could play her strident and intelligent personality perfectly. She suits an elfin-style hair cut too!

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Sami is charming, swaggering and vain! He’s also drop-dead good looking. The obvious contender would be Idris Elba, but perhaps he’s a little too jaded. Did anyone watch Marcella? Nicholas Pinnock, who played Marcella’s not-so-nice husband? Remember his chiselled good looks, his confident stride? And he looked great in a designer suit!

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Then there’s Sophie. I’m struggling to cast her. She’s acerbic but fun, always the centre of attention. Not traditionally beautiful, but the force of her personality shines through her emerald eyes. Geri Halliwell in her plumper days? Or maybe ask Kate Winslet to dye her hair auburn. I’m sure she could pull off any role.

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Though he can be grumpy at times, Charlie’s a good soul. He’s a bit set in his ways and has always looked older than his years. Toby Jones is a fantastic actor, he’d do a great job.

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Charlie’s wife Helen is a no-nonsense academic who’s often inadvertently blunt. She doesn’t give two hoots about her appearance, but she’s not unattractive. Helen McCrory is such a versatile actress, she would be perfect.

Helen McCrory

Book description

Presenting a stunning debut psychological thriller about a life-changing lie.

Caroline England’s, Beneath The Skin is a tense and compelling read, exploring truth, friendships and betrayal.

No-one remembers your past. But you do.

‘Antonia, Antonia. My name is Antonia.’

It’s been her name for many years. But sometimes, like tonight, she forgets. Antonia has a secret. A secret so dark and so deep that she can barely admit it to herself. Instead, she treats herself to Friday night sessions of self-harm while her husband David is at the pub, and her best friend Sophie is drinking too much wine a few doors down.

Nobody close to her knows the truth about what the teenage Antonia saw all those years ago. No-one, that is, except her mother. But Candy is in a care home now, her mind too addled to remember the truth.

Antonia is safe. Isn’t she? The lies start small. They always do. But when the tightly woven story you’ve told yourself begins to unravel, the truth threatens to come to the surface. And then what’s going to happen?

Buying links:     Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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Born Yorkshire lass, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer and instigated her jottings when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. In addition to the publication of her short story collection, Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses by ACHUKAbooks, Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary publications and anthologies. She was shortlisted for the Impress Prize 2015, in the Pulp Idol 2016 finals and long listed for the UK Novel Writing Competition 2017.

Follow the blog tour…….

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A day with author Robert Bryndza @RobertBryndza

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Today I’m thrilled to start my new weekly feature A day with author………it’s something I’ve always wondered about, what does an author do in a “typical day? (Some would say that’s being nosey, and I guess I am 😂😂). So although it’s not an original concept by any means,  I can’t be the only one wondering what author’s get up to, or am I? So I decided to see if I could find out what authors get up to and I have had such a great response to this feature so far, so I’m hoping to make it a long running feature. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I did.

As I’m sure you all know by now I’m a huge fan of Robert  Bryndza (and just in case you didn’t, I am 😂) and the gripping Detective Erika Foster series, so you can imagine my delight when the author agreed to write a post about his day as an author for the book review café, So without further ado welcome to A day with author Robert Bryndza…..

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The alarm goes off at six thirty, but our two dogs Ricky and Lola always seem to anticipate it by ten minutes, so by 6.20am I’ll have various squeaky toys shoved in my face, my ears nibbled, or more disgustingly, Lola will stick her tongue up my nose.

I’d love to be one of those writers who can roll out of bed and start writing, but dog walking comes first. Unless it’s raining, we take the dogs around the park opposite our flat and I really enjoy this, it gets ideas flowing and I love watching the seasons change, the sunlight on the river and meeting all the other half-asleep dog walkers.

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I’ve been writing full time for a few years now, and I’ve found I work best if I treat it like a full time job. I try to sit down and write by eight-thirty or nine in the morning, and I work through until twelve. The internet needs to be switched off on my phone and laptop, or there is no hope of work being done.

When I’m writing about murder and mayhem I always seem to crave a break from it all by lunchtime, so we’ll eat in front the TV and watch comedy. Right now, it’s the sitcom Mom with Alison Janney and Anna Faris, this is one of my favourite shows, along with Entourage, Kath and Kim or Father Ted.

I find that I’m more productive after lunch, and afternoons are when I re-work what I’ve written in the morning. I can get really sucked into the story until I stop at three thirty. I try to write 2,000 – 2,500 words a day, more if things are flowing nicely.

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Until last year, I used to write in the living room or sitting on the bed, but now we’ve moved to a house with a spare room which has become my office, and is full of books and I love it. I work in a cosy chair, and there a small bed for when guests stay over, but most of the time the dogs lie beside me snoozing when I work.

My husband Ján also works from home, and we are lucky that we rarely get on each other’s nerves. He works as my manager, and he runs everything to do with my career, and seven of my books which are still self-published in ebook, audio and paperback. He’s also the first person who reads what I write.

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I try not to write during the weekends, but I do like to use them for research. When I start a new book I buy a new notebook which becomes my bible, with ideas, research, character and place names. When I read my first draft through I will note down what happens in each chapter, any vital pieces of evidence, the names of murder victims, how they were killed, and any other important info.

As a book progresses, I become more obsessed with what I’m writing, and work will seep into weekends and evenings, and this is the time when I start waking in the night and worrying about motives, murder weapons, plot lines and pretty much everything else in between. This is when the notebook begins to fill up even more.

I realise that this all sounds idyllic and a slightly smug, so I will add that it’s been a long journey to get here with years of rejection, and there were plenty of times when I nearly gave up!

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There are days too where I procrastinate and waste time on the internet. Writing for me is never easy, I am often riddled with doubts and have to push myself to stick to deadlines.

But it’s the best job in the world and I am very grateful every day that I get to do it full time.

About the author

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice, which is the first in his Detective Erika Foster series.

The Night Stalker, Dark Water and Last Breath are the second, third, and fourth books in the series, and the fifth book, Cold Blood has just been published.

Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies and have been translated into 27 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

You can find out more about the author at http://www.robertbryndza.com and on Twitter and Instagram @RobertBryndza

Sign up to Robert Bryndza‘s New Release Mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/UITxz

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My thanks to Robert Bryndza for taking time out of his busy writing schedule to take part in A day with author…….

If you would like to learn more about the Erika Foster series or buy any of the books you can find them here…..Robert Bryndza Books Amazon

**Blog tour** Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir #GuestPost @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks

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Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir. I don’t really worry to much about the cover of a book but I do have to mention I love the cover for this book, my favourite colour and a highly original cover to boot  

Snare is published by one of my favourite publishers Orenda Books and you don’t even have to wait to buy a copy, if you pop over to Amazon “one click” and it’s yours.

Although I haven’t got a review to share with you I do have a fabulous guest post from the author herself.

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Strange names … Strange places
Lilja Sigurðardóttir

I once had an English friend who couldn´t read a book I gave her because she thought the names of the characters in the story were too strange. The book was Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness´s Independent people and she really lost out on a good story there. But I did understand. Icelandic names are indeed strange and Halldór Laxness didn´t really use the easiest ones. Now that I have my first book translated into English, I have been terrified that readers would give up and think that the names of people and names of places are too difficult to deal with, and therefore miss out on the story. But I can see right away, by the feedback I am already getting, that there is no reason to worry and my old friend was just a wimp and not at all representative of the average reader of the English language.

To my benefit I´ll say that I don’t use so many strange names for the characters. I use more modern names, in line with how people are named in Iceland nowadays. We of course still have our patronymic system for surnames, where everybody is somebody’s son or daughter (dóttir) but the given names have simplified in the passing of time and now trend towards the international as old Nordic, heathen names give way to biblical ones. Sara is a more popular name that Thorgerður now, and Adam much more common than Hallfreður.

But the places are another matter. As my stories mostly take place in Iceland I have to name the towns and streets and mountains and restaurants and those are hard to simplify or translate. If the name of our capital Reykjavík was translated into English it would be named Smokey Bay. And that just doesn´t sound Icelandic. It sounds more like a place somewhere in North America.

Besides the strange names themselves, we also have a different way of spelling them. Our alphabet has quite a few variances from other language alphabets as all our vowels can be accentuated to give a different sound, some of them in more than one way, like o can be ó and ö. Then for fun and complications we also have some extra consonants.

My translator, Mr Quentin Bates, has been an advocate for introducing some of the Icelandic alphabet into literary translations and in Snare the decision was made to use the letter ð in the names and places it belonged, such as in Ríkharður and Davíð. The ð makes a very weak th-sound, but could as easily be spelled with d. I do hope readers will like this little quirky Icelandishness in the book.

I have stopped worrying now about readers possibly being put off by Icelandic names and places, as I have heard from quite a few early readers, and not one of them mentioned difficulties with the names. Just that they enjoyeded the story. And that´s the way it should be. Because translating literature is all about opening up the world, and giving people access to new stories. Even if the names are strange…

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Book description

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

Lilja Sigurðard.

Lilja Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic crime-writer and playwright, born in 1972. She is the author of four crime novels, Steps (Spor), 2009, Forgiveness (Fyrirgefning), 2010, Snare (Gildran) 2015, Tangle (Netið) 2016 and Cage (Búrið) 2017.

Her debut stage-play Big Babies (Stóru Börnin) was staged in the winter of 2013-2014, became critically acclaimed and won the Icelandic Theatre Prize Gríman as “Best play of the year.”

Lilja´s latest book, Tangle, (Netið) was published in Iceland in October 2016 by Forlagid publishing. The rights to the novel have already been sold to France/Switzerland/Luxembourg/Canada (Éditions Métailié); World English (Orenda Books)

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#GuestPost by David Videcette @DavidVidecette

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Today I’m thrilled to have David Videcette author of the highly gripping crime thrillers, The Theseus Paradox and The Detriment appear on the book review café, both books are based on true events, and are books I would highly recommend if you are looking for a highly original crime thriller

David Videcette has very kindly written a special guest post for me to share with you all, and what an intriguing post it is too. So without further ado…….

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CRIME FICTION: SHOW ME THE BODIES

I’ve been in the book writing world for two years now, having come from life as a detective. I really enjoy it and I’ve met some truly fantastic people. But, standing in a room with readers, book bloggers, other authors and publishers, as I often do, I always have the same uneasy question buzzing around in my head: Why are all these people obsessed with murder and killing?

When you pick up pretty much any crime fiction novel, it’s full of death and murder. Crime fiction authors are obsessed with body count – the more cadavers and the more gruesome the death, the better.

Watch the average detective series on TV or pick up one of the hottest new paperbacks and you’d be forgiven for thinking that slaughtered corpses of murder victims were as numerous as pigeons in Trafalgar Square.
I have often wondered whether we should just rename it murder fiction. Why bother with the ‘crime’ prefix at all?

Murder capital of the UK?
 

One of my old favourites is the television series, ‘Midsomer Murders,’ based on Caroline Graham’s novels. Tally up the show’s total body count and it’s currently running at around 265. That’s almost four-and-a-half murders per episode in one tiny, rural area. And that’s not even including the twelve accidental deaths, eleven suicides and eight deaths from natural causes…

I write Crime thrillers based on truth events, so it got me thinking – do we ever stop to wonder how common these incidents are in real life? Or do we simply want to be entertained in a fantasy world of murder fiction?
 
Let’s start with some basics. (I’ll use the UK crime figures from 2015 for this bit.)

Murder is extremely rare – there were six and a half million crimes recorded in the UK in 2015 – just 573 of those were murders; that’s less than 0.01% of the overall total. 

If we delve further into those figures, we find that crime fiction not only over-represents murder, it also blurs the reality of who the victims are and how they are killed.

Who gets it?


In real life, most murder victims are men (64%) – and 2015 was an unusual year for male homicides, they normally make up nearly 70% of a year’s overall total. Men are mostly either stabbed or beaten to death. They are as likely to be killed by a stranger, as they are to be killed by someone they know. I think this underscores how lots of men end up dead. It’s mainly spontaneous violence by other men that kills them. Unplanned, messy, screaming, beating-each-other-up violence. In 2015, just five men were shot dead in the UK.

Women always make up the minority of homicide victims. They represent around 30% of the victims normally, but in 2015, this figure was running slightly higher at 36%. And if you’re a woman, again, in real life, the most common form of murder is to be stabbed. You are very unlikely to be beaten to death, unlike your male counterparts. Asphyxiation also features highly amongst female murder victims, perhaps demonstrating that many women are most likely to be killed by their partners in fits of rage following years of domestic abuse.
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So crime fiction tends to major on women being the victims, which is far from the truth – as you can see from the figures. A juicy murder yarn also tends to depict women being killed by strangers. But in real life this is very unlikely – just twelve of the 186 victims that year were killed by strangers. Just 6.5% of all female murders are by strangers, a tiny proportion.

When we look at crime fiction books published over recent years, many of the most high-profile releases were big on serial killings perpetrated by one individual, but how many of these feature in the year’s crime stats? None. You’d have to go backwards some way to find statistics on any real life serial killers – male or female.

And here we find another difference between real life and ‘murder fiction’. The terms serial killer and mass murderer are often used interchangeably in fiction, but in real life, they are two distinct, separate things.

Mass murder is when the killing of more than one person takes place at the same time, with little or no passage of time between the killings. This might be an act of terrorism or people killing their own family all in one place.

A serial killer is someone who repeatedly kills, normally three or more people, and there is space between the killings. The space might be several hours, days, months or years, but it is often multi-site, rather than all in one place – and the case will often hinge on premeditation, rather than a split-second act in a mist of rage.

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If we compare our 2015 real life stats with fictional events in Midsomer during 2015, sadly there were only four episodes of the show made that year. But don’t let that disappoint you, because in just those four episodes, we saw 12 locals strangled, 13 poisoned, 16 drowned – including one in a vat of soup – four killed by bow and arrow attack, and six decapitated. That’s 52 gruesome deaths in four episodes!

So, why the obsession with death and killing in crime fiction? Why is it that screenwriters and authors keep churning out book-after-book that doesn’t represent what is actually happening in real life? 

Maybe we see murder as the ultimate crime? It does after all have the most serious penalties. Perhaps as readers, we want to escape, to explore our darkest fears in a safe and secure environment?

Supply and demand

Perhaps it is easier to ask: Who creates the market for killing, in the world of crime fiction? Is it what the reader wants, or is it that there is nothing else on offer?

One thing I’ve found since being in the book business, is that it is dominated by women. The agents are mainly women, the editors are mainly women, the publishers are mainly women and the book buyers and bloggers are mainly women. And as authors, many of us are bound to write what our agents and publishers tell us that they believe the market wants.

As any large publisher will tell you, as many told me – ‘Most of our readers are middle-aged women who are married with children. Remember that’s who you’re writing books for.’

Industry figures back this up, showing that around 70 to 80 per cent of crime fiction readers are women, and 80 per cent of those signing up for writing workshops to become aspiring crime writers are also women.

So why is it that mainly middle-aged women with children who love to read and write about murder and serial killers – the blood thirstier the better?
 
Various people have hypothesised that women, many of whom see themselves as vulnerable, want to explore the darkest depths of the human mind, and that crime fiction is a metaphor through which they see themselves.

So, how do we explain the rise in novels which depict women as the killers themselves? And how likely is that?

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Women do kill, of course, but again it’s rare. Female serial killers are even rarer. There are currently just three women in the UK who have been given life imprisonment without parole for this crime.

When women do kill, it’s mostly domestic-related killing of partners.

Women adore murder


Germaine Greer once wrote that, ‘Women have very little idea how much men hate them.’ Although I do not agree with her, I do wonder if this rise in the popularity of the female killer in crime fiction, is down to women seeing the world as male dominated and wanting to explore ways of killing the men that they hate and that they believe hate them – metaphorically speaking? Or are there just a whole bunch of women who do secretly hate men and want to kill as many of them as possible?

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I don’t have the answers. But you can see why I worry at these book events, surrounded by these women, hungry for blood…

Perhaps for both women and men, crime fiction gives us all an outlet for our hidden sides; the vindictive avengers within us who hold angry and bitter grudges against those who’ve wronged us in the past.

In real life, murder is rare, most often perpetrated by a partner and over in an instant. But because of its rarity and shock factor – murder in fiction is a simple hook to cling to. In other words, it’s an ‘easy sell’.

But when I look at some of the most harrowing crimes I’ve investigated as a detective in real life, murder has featured very little. Where are the books about getting into the depraved mind of a serial male rapist who drugs and rapes other men?

How many books have you read that look at the effects of serious fraud perpetrated on a female victim who then has to turn to a haunting and tragic life of prostitution to survive? How many books look at drug addiction and what twisted and degenerate acts mothers will do in front of their children, just to be sure of their next fix. 

But these would be far harder to write, and far harder to sell.

So maybe we should just stick with the slaughter.

After all… everybody loves a good body count?

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IMG_2187David Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator with twenty years’ policing experience, including counter-terror operations and organised crime.

He is the author of detective thrillers The Theseus Paradox and The Detriment. Based on true events, David’s books are perfect for readers who like their crime fiction as close to real crime as it gets.

He loves to interact with fans of all crime fiction genres. Readers can chat to him on FacebookTwitter or Instagram. For the chance to win a signed copy of David’s latest thriller, pop in your Email address here

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My thanks to David Videcette for the fabulous guest post and the images shown on this post.