The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins #BookReview @lucyatkins @quercusbooks

IMG_1935

Book description

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?

img_1258The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins is one of those books, where you come to the end and feel a sense of loss, I loved every page, every chapter of this intricately plotted novel. Taut with tension from the off this is definitely one book that’s begs to be read in one sitting. The story centres around Olivia a high-flying TV presenter and historian, and the rather creepy Vivian Tester a socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper who becomes Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. what follows is a tale of deception, ambition and manipulation.

This book captivated me from the very first chapter and I found myself immersed in the complex tale of two very different women. Olivia and Vivian are far from likeable, they are as different as chalk and cheese, but scratch the surface and there are similarities between the pair, it’s these similarities which make them such unlikeable characters. Vivian is definitely the most despicable out of the two, she literally made my skin crawl, her obsessive, deluded and manipulative traits make her very difficult to like, but still what an intriguing character she made. 

The authors writing is beautifully descriptive and almost from the start of The Night Visitor you get a sense of foreboding, as she describes settings and the characters so convincingly. The attention to detail is impeccable whether it be the characters, setting or the description of beetles, which for me made this a hugely compelling read. As animosity between the two women bubbles away the plot began to feel very sinister, malice radiated from every page, and yet I found myself desperate to find out more about the toxic relationship between Olivia and Vivian.

The Night Visitor is very much a character led psychological thriller, it isn’t an edge-of-your-seat hardcore thriller. If you read it with that expectation, you just might be slightly disappointed. For me personally The Night Visitor made a refreshing change from the usual crime read, I found it to be a riveting and unnerving read, beautifully written with characters you won’t forget about in a hurry. I would highly recommend The Night Visitor if you are looking for a book that offers something different from the norm.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Quercus (4 May 2017)

My thanks to Linda Hill over at http://www.lindasbookbag.com for sending me her spare copy of The Night Visitor

**Blog tour** Reconciliation For The Dead Paul E. Hardisty @orendabooks @Hardisty_Paul

Reconciliation for the Dead aw.indd

Today I’m delighted to be the next stop on the Paul E Hardisty author of Reconciliation For The Dead blog tour. 

Reconciliation For The Dead is published by one of my favourite publishers on the planet Orenda Books, Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction. This book is available in both kindle and paperback  and you don’t even have to wait to get a copy as it’s already been published

To celebrate the occasion author Paul E. Hardisty has written a fascinating guest post, so without further ado…….

image

Engineering a Novel By Paul E. Hardisty

I was trained as a scientist and an engineer. In these disciplines, we are taught to apply scientific principles and mathematics to understand the forces, flows and stresses that govern a problem, and optimise a design to deliver the desired outcome. Over years of training and practice, this structured way of thinking becomes almost second nature, a part of you.

So, when I approach the writing of a novel, it won’t be much of a surprise when I say that I use the same approach. Even though it is a work of art, I engineer the novel.

First, I need to understand the problem. What is it that I am trying to accomplish with the book? Where do I want to take the reader, and why? What do I want to have the reader see, feel, think, experience, and what images do I want to leave them with? In other words, I need to have a firm idea, in my own mind, of the purpose of the book. For me, entertaining the reader is important, but it is not enough. I also want to inform, or evoke certain emotions, and to challenge the reader to consider other viewpoints than perhaps they might have had going in. In my new novel, Reconciliation for the Dead (third book in the Claymore Straker series), set in apartheid-era South Africa, the goals were to show readers how Clay became the man we meet first in Yemen during the 1994 civil war in The Abrupt Physics of Dying, and then in its sequel The Evolution of Fear. I also wanted to expose the reader to a little-known conflict, and illustrate why apartheid, and the ridding of that scourge from the earth, is still relevant today.

When I know where I want the book to go, I need to determine how to get there. For me, this means developing, or designing, the full narrative arc of the book, before I start writing. This arc is made of up a series of inter-connected and inter-dependent scenes. And if these pieces are not joined together well, the thing will fail when put under stress. Sometimes, I think of it a bit like a bridge, with each span and beam holding up the others. Sometimes, these designs can be quite complex, and in their own way, I hope, beautiful. In the first two books of the series, I used a simple time-forward structure, with events largely unfolding in un-creased chronological order. In Reconciliation for the Dead, I needed a more complicated structure. The core of the novel is a flashback to Clay’s time in the war as a young paratrooper in the early 1980’s. Interspersed within this are snippets of transcript (recreated) from the 1996 Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where Clay gives testimony, having returned to South Africa fifteen years after the war. This is buttressed on either end (by prologue and epilogue) with short scenes that take place after Clay has finished testifying, and is in Mozambique contemplating his future. You can call it a prequel set within the envelope of a sequel.

Once the structure is designed, I can start writing (building). I find that knowing where I want to go, what I am trying to say, and how I am going to get there, gives me a sense of certainty every morning when I sit down to write. Each day I plan to work on a specific span or section. Because I know where it fits in the whole structure, its unique role, and how it fits with the others, I can focus on the prose itself, and try to create the most beautiful and powerful imagery I can. Bit by bit, day by day, the whole structure rises, until one day, I have a first draft.

Then comes what I call the testing and infilling stage. The main structure is there, and (hopefully!) has achieved its overall objectives. Now, I weave in any additional detail and context that is required, not only to strengthen the whole, but to make the parts stand strongly together. This is where expert editorial support and review from others can be so helpful.
I have always felt that in science and engineering, there can be beauty. As I write a novel, I always get a strong sense that art and science are really not so far apart.

img_1639

IMG_1989

Canadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels.

In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

IMG_1992

Book description

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.

It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make.

Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed. Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

‘A solid, meaty thriller – Hardisty is a fine writer and Straker is a great lead character’ Lee Child

‘A trenchant and engaging thriller that unravels this mysterious land in cool, precise sentences’ Stav Sherez, Catholic Herald

‘Just occasionally, a book comes along to restore your faith in a genre – and Paul Hardisty does this in spades’ Sharon Wheeler, Crime Review

This is a remarkably well-written, sophisticated novel in which the people and places, as well as frequent scenes of violent action, all come alive on the page…’ Literary Review

‘Hardisty doesn’t put a foot wrong in this forceful, evocative thriller … the author’s deep knowledge of the settings never slows down the non-stop action, with distant echoes of a more-moral minded Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne’ Maxim Jakubowski

My thanks to Karen over at Orenda books who publishes the most amazing books, Anne cater who organises such brilliant blog tours for Orenda books, and Paul Hardisty for his guest post.

As my post doesn’t include a review you may want to check out some of my fellow bloggers reviews who are on the blog tour.

IMG_1987

Rattle by Fiona Cummins #Review @FionaAnnCummins #2017MustReads

img_0964

Book description

A serial killer to chill your bones A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter. He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum. Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs. What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge. It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

img_0925

If you only read one book next year here’s a piece of advice, make sure it’s Rattle by Fiona Cummins, I’m sure this book is going to be Huge in 2017. When ever I pick up a new book by an unknown author (to me) I always have a few reservations, will I like their style of writing, characters and plot? But any qualms I had disappeared after reading the first chapter of this highly engaging novel. This is the authors debut novel, but it certainly doesn’t read like one, it’s exceptionally well written, with an intriguing plot, which is both dark and sinster. Rattle is one of those books where an incredible sense of malevolence is there from the from the very first page and it remained there until the last spine chilling chapter, it’s a highly compulsive read, dark, totally gripping and very dramatic. It’s categorised as a crime thriller, but it goes beyond that it’s much darker and definitely more disturbing than the usual crime read.

I really don’t want to say to much about the plot as it really is one of those you need to read with little more than the book description to go on. What I will say is the author has produced a serial killer (The  Bone Collector) like no other, he made my blood run cold, in fact I actually suffered nightmares whilst reading this book, but my god what a complex character. This is a serial killer with two very different sides, the carer versus the evil caretaker, but his total lack of empathy in either role make him terrifying, even more so when Fiona Cummins describes his thoughts and feelings with such conviction, It gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath which made for a chilling read.

The author has the rare talent of making all her characters come alive, the victims family’s are very well depicted, their loss and anguish is palatable, as family’s personal relationships begin to disintegrate I couldn’t help become emotionally involved in their story, and the innocent victims well let’s just say they will melt even the hardest heart. Detective Etta Fitzroy was another intriguing character, she’s tenacious, and driven and shows great empathy for both the victims and their families, like many Detectives in fiction she does have issues but they add credibility to her character.

Rattle is told during the period of just over a week, the chapters have time stamps which add a sense of urgency to the plot. I’m sure my heart rate went through the roof, as Fiona Cummins doesn’t let up on the suspense. The dialogue is sharp and the writing fluid and at times beautifully descriptive, which added to my enjoyment of this rivetting novel.Fiona Cummings has given the reader a roller coaster of a thriller for sure, but this novel is also a rich and harrowing story of the psychology of evil and those who strive to stop it, insights that will stay with you long after you’ve finished Rattle.

In case you haven’t guessed I actually loved this book and it’s a MUST READ for fans of crime thrillers and if you like them Dark then you are going to love it too. Rattle is a chilling and inventive debut from a very talented author and I personally think this book is going to be HUGE when it’s published at the end of January 2017.

I won’t be giving Rattle 5 star’s but I will be giving it the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating it’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a good read, fantastic plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

image

Hardcover: 496 pages

Publisher: Macmillan; Main Market Ed. edition (26 Jan. 2017)

Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

IMG_1025.JPG

**Publisher In The Spotlight** #Moth

Moth red

Good morning everyone I’m going to be running an occasional new feature, called Publishers In The Spotlight (ok it’s not very original, but it’s the best I come up with!). First up its Moth, New Writing North’s Chief Executive Claire Malcolm explains how the arts organisation founded Mayfly Press and the Moth imprint.

The decision to found a new publishing house for writers in the north came about in a roundabout way for New Writing North. We’re first and foremost the writing development agency for writers in the north and in this role we manage and produce an array of opportunities for writers and work in partnership with broadcasters, publishers and producers to make good things happen for writers. As part of our programme we also produce Crime Story, the innovative conference for crime writers and readers with Northumbria University.

For many years we’ve run the Northern Writers’ Awards, a funding programme that supports new and established writers to pursue and complete new work. For a while the awards were sponsored by Paul Callaghan, a local digital entrepreneur and philanthropist. As the sponsorship drew to a close I took a number of our winning writers to lunch with Paul so that he could catch up with what they were doing and hear more about the work that his sponsorship had supported. It was a lovely lunch but during it a number of the writers told Paul how frustrating they were finding it trying to place their work. As we were leaving Paul said to me ‘we should publish some of this work’. Roll forward a year or so and we had created the idea of founding a joint publishing operation with Business Educational Publishers a trade-publishing house that Paul owned. New Writing North invested a little money into the start up and Business Educational Publishers invested a little more to help the venture get off the ground and we founded a partnership.

Moth was born and along with it the first Northern Crime Competition. We wanted to open out publishing opportunities to new writers and to use our publishing resources to launch new talent. We had a good response to the first competition and went on to publish four winners – Helen Cadbury, Rebecca Muddiman, Alfie Crow and Michael Donnovan. We were on a really steep learning curve when we published our first four books – we employed editors, developed contracts, learnt about digital publishing and made some headway into distribution. We were lucky to work with some great people along the way who helped us work out what we were doing.

Rebecca’s book took off quickly, closely followed by Helen’s and we were delighted with how our sales went over the first year. We also developed a partnership for selling foreign and audio rights that enhanced what we could offer writers. We helped both Helen and Rebecca find literary agents and through them they both went on to sign good contracts for their work with bigger publishers and have now published many more books and are building good careers for themselves as crime writers. We are realistic about how as a small publisher you often can’t afford to keep some of the writers that you discover in the long term.

To find our next wave of new writers we ran the second Northern Crime Competition and also opened entries for short stories. Entries for the second competition weren’t as strong overall and in the end we found one novel that we wanted to publish by the Leeds based writer Kathleen McKay.

The entries for the short story element of the competition were strong and we enjoyed putting together Northern Crime One our first collection of short stories that we launched in December 2015. We did some great events with the anthology – the sell out crowd for our Newcastle City Library launch was a highlight and it was wonderful to meet lots of the featured writers, especially as many were seeing their work in print for the first time.

Hard Wired, by our competition winner Kathleen McKay was published this August – it’s a gritty contemporary crime novel based around a bail hostel in Newcastle. It’s Kath’s first venture into crime though she has written literary fiction and poetry before. We’re excited to see how it does.

Towards the end of 2015 Moth made our first two-book deal with the author Benjamin Myers. I knew Ben’s literary work and thought that he was an amazing writer. We were working with Ben on a poetic commission tied to Durham Book Festival and during one of our conversations he mentioned that he was writing a crime novel. I was excited by the idea that Ben was turning his hand to this genre and knew that it would be something very special. I asked to read some of the work out of interest and when Ben sent me the first few chapters I was blown away.

Moth made a pre-emptive bid for the novel via his agent and we were delighted to agree a two-book deal. The first novel, Turning Blue was launched this August and brings to readers the unlikely crime solving duo Brindle and Mace – a detective and a local journalist. Turning Blue is dark, deep and beautifully written. I found it compulsive to read and loved the way that Ben has taken on a crime story but placed it so deeply into a specific location and community. Ben talks about his crime writing as being ‘folk crime’ and it rings true to me. The reviews so far have been very appreciative. He’s currently working on the next Brindle and Mace book that we hope to bring to publication in summer 2017.

Alongside Moth we also run the Mayfly Books imprint which so far has concentrated on bringing important northern writer’s work back into print. Again, beginning this imprint was partially accidental and driven by the love of books. We began by republishing Julia Darling’s wonderful novel Crocodile Soup in 2015 to coincide with the anniversary of her death. I’d know Julia and her work for many years and had always loved Crocodile Soup so it was a humbling experience to be able to bring it back for a new generation of readers. It’s a northern classic but also a wonderful comic lesbian love story. The novel was longlisted for the Orange prize and it was shameful that it had fallen out of print.

This September we are publishing Hame, My Durham a collection of work by the acclaimed County Durham writer Sid Chaplin, collated by his son the writer Michael Chaplin who has also written a commentary to accompany the work which gives an overview of Sid’s life and traces the influences of his real life experiences on his writing. Again, this feels like an important book to be bringing to readers and demonstrates our commitment to keeping northern voices alive and accessible.

To find the next wave of books for Moth we’re currently hosting an open submission period where writers and agents can submit work for consideration. We’re primarily interested in supporting northern writers but we are open to other suggestions too as the imprint grows and develops. If you’re a budding writer looking for a publisher the details are included in the links below 

We’re currently looking at how the publishing house can grow and develop in a way that supports New Writing North but also makes sense as a business. So far the partnership is working well for New Writing North. Profits generated from the first few years of the operation have been fed back into supporting our core work supporting writers. At a time when arts organisations need to be innovative and enterprising about how they raise money we have found Moth and Mayfly to be both a great way to do that but also a fantastic way to support writers to develop their work and grow their careers. Publishing isn’t without risk and balancing that can be challenging but it’s an exciting proposition all the same.

Claire Malcolm

 

LINKS

New Writing North
http://www.newwritingnorth.com

Crime Story
http://www.crimestory.co.uk

Northumbria University
https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/our-partners/cultural-partnerships/new-writing-north/

Northern Writers’ Awards
http://www.northernwritersawards.com

Durham Book Festival
http://www.durhambookfestival.com

Mayfly Press
http://www.mayfly.press

Helen Cadbury
http://www.helencadbury.com

Rebecca Muddiman
http://mayfly.press/rebecca-muddiman/

Alfie Crow
http://mayfly.press/alfie-crow/
Michael Donovan
http://mayfly.press/moth-publishing/michael-donovan/

Kathleen McKay
http://mayfly.press/moth-publishing/kathleen-mckay/

Hard Wired
Hard Wired

Northern Crime One
http://mayfly.press/moth-publishing/northern-crime-1/

Benjamin Myers
http://mayfly.press/moth-publishing/benjamin-myers/

Turning Blue
Turning Blue

Julia Darling
http://www.juliadarling.co.uk

Crocodile Soup
http://mayfly.press/mayfly-press/julia-darling/

Michael Chaplin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Chaplin_(writer)

Submission Link
http://mayfly.press/about-us/submissions/

**Blog Tour** For The Love Of Grace by Andy Blackman #GuestPost

image

Today I have an intriguing guest post from Andy Blackman author of For The Love Of Grace, which was published on the 27th September, so you don’t even have to wait to buy a copy. I confess I haven’t read For The Love Of Grace as my TBR pile has reached an all time high, but I’ve read the book description and it’s one that’s certainly piqued my interest. I hope you enjoy Andy Blackman’s guest post, and as usual I’ve included buying links further down the post.

image

 

A Guide to the destinations used as a backdrop to the story

I decided to base my book, initial in War torn England and picked the East End of London, as they still had a working docks, so it was central to the plot that although the characters live in the East End there was a way for Tom to escape easily. I had Tom escape to Odessa, I had never been, but have only read about Odessa and it sounded a magical place and I was convinced that although behind the “iron Curtain”, the people must had been ordinary and enjoy, and lived life as they did in any sea port around the world.

It was important to pick a sea port as Tom’s escape was by sea, so logically he would dock at a port. Belize I can say I have some authority on, I was stationed there for 6 months during my Army career, so I know the place well, especially Punta Gora as this was the town closes to our base, and sometimes at weekends we were allowed to visit and drink in the local bars, it was a rundown shanty place, but we lovely it being close to the sea, still hot even at night plus the bars never closed.

Belize City is a vast sprawling city with two airports, the international and the city municipal, I have flow from them both, even taking an island hopper plane down to the Keyes for a weekend from the municipal airport, which was an adventure in its self. The place Tom calls home in Belize, is a place I know, as just down form where the Army landing crafts were moored was a bank of abandoned seaside shanty building all with broken jetties, and I always thought one of these would make a great hide out, placing it near the main road into Belize City was just logical.

America of course is a country that I have visited many time, during my career, especially Washington DC, I once drove from Washington DC to New York, so I knew the journey, so having Tom drive the same route was easy, of course the hotels and the men’s club are fiction, but I am sure that New York has such places. As for Hampshire it was a county I lived in for many years and know it well, but of course the Duke of Hampshire is fiction but I am sure that Hampshire in the bygone days could have had a Duke, and of course there is a Marquees of Winchester and a Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, but I wanted Grenville to be much more grand and come from true blue blood background, and of course Hampton hall is based on your own idea version of a stately house, we can all imagine what Hampton hall is like.

About Andy Blackman

After serving in the British Army for over twenty-five years in the Parachute Regiment, Andy Blackman today lives in Bedworth, Warwickshire and works within in the IT sector. In his spare time he can be found visiting his three daughters and grandchildren.

Book Description

Grace Backer had a life full of tragedy. But despite everything, she raised her son, Tom, with her secret intact. Tom is a prodigal child, destined to escape the slums of the East End of London for a better life; circumstances will make him flee his loving mother and their home much sooner than expected. Tom starts a new life in Odessa, Russia, and with the help of new-found friends starts a business. At last, he is finally accepted into a new and loving family, but one which holds its own dark secrets.

A chance meeting with the son of a duke of the realm leads to close friendship and a new business partnership. When Tom decides to move his company to London and have his regal new friend run it, the firm thrives. However, not everything is as it seems, and Tom?s business soon conceals dangerous secrets of its own. Years later, when Tom finally decides to return to London, he is a wanted man, one hunted by the intelligence agencies. If he is finally to be reunited with his beloved mother and his best friend, he must fight to put the past behind him. But keeping secrets is never easy

Amazon UK     Barnesandnoble

image

**Interview** with Eva Lesko Natiello author of The Memory Box

 

img_1314

Today I’m delighted to have Eva Lesko Natiello author of The Memory Box pop by The Book Review café to answer some questions about her book. I must say the book description sounds very intriguing and I’m hoping to get around to reading it sometime in the not to distant future.

image

Hi Eva can you tell us a little about yourself, and your novel The Memory Box?

Let’s see, I grew up in New York and went to school at SUNY Albany where I studied psychology. After I graduated from school I moved to the Bahamas for my first job as a singer. Eventually I moved back to New York and worked for Estee Lauder as a Communications and Public Relations executive. It was never in my master plan to write a book. But some things just happen in life. When I had my second child and moved out of New York City to stay at home with them, that’s when I started writing.

The Memory Box is a story about an at-home suburban mom of two (that sounds familiar!) who Googles herself and discovers a past she doesn’t remember. (By the way, that’s where the similarities end…)

What was the inspiration for your story?

The impetus for THE MEMORY BOX came from an article featured in The New York Times years ago about when people started to Google themselves. It mentioned that a 17-year-old boy who was living in Los Angeles, Googled himself and discovered he was on a missing persons list in Canada. He had no idea until he Googled himself, that he was a victim of parental abduction. The fact that someone could find out something so personal about himself from a Google search was a fascinating concept to me.

The Memory Box is a dark, twisty psychological thriller. Where does your desire to write this type of fiction originate? 

Well, I’m fascinated by misconceptions. When things are not as they appear or seem. We make all sorts of judgments about people based on how they look, what they wear, how they talk, where they live, etc. And these assumptions in many cases can be wrong. I also am fascinated with the idea that bad people are not all bad and vice versa. I like to explore moral dilemmas. And I love to write suspense and thrillers because they are essentially literary puzzles. I guess I am a natural problem solver, so I do like to figure things out.

Usually writers like to read in the same genre that they write. What are some of your favorite books and genres to read?

Okay, this is going to sound very strange. I do not like to read in the genre I write. I get nightmares very easily and have trouble sleeping normally, so I cannot read thrillers or watch those types of movies. I can only write them. I can’t explain it. I think I know my characters so well, that I am never scared of them. As screwed up as they are, they do have redeeming qualities! One of my favorite books, and the one I credit for being my Do-It-Yourself MFA is White Oleander. I think it’s beautifully written, while tackling some dark subject matter. I also like to read historical fiction and humor (and I love to write humor, too!). Some recent books I enjoyed are: Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Lucky Us, The House We Grew Up In, Uninvited Guests, Midnight Circus, Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Paris Wife, The Kitchen House.

What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance or take away from the story?

There are a couple of reasons I chose Farhaven, a suburban town which is loosely based on a New Jersey town. I’ve always been intrigued by stories which have beautiful, upscale settings which juxtapose a dark, subversive storyline. The Stepford wives introduced me to this idea. It provides the first misconception to the reader, that only upstanding people could live in a place like this. The other reason it seemed right for the story was when I started to write The Memory Box, I was relatively new to the suburbs. I had just moved to New Jersey from New York City. It presented an instant learning curve. With my young children starting school, I was plopped into a new social circle of suburban moms. There is a definite way things are done in the suburbs that’s different from the way they’re down the city. I knew instantly that I wanted to set this psychological suspense in a bucolic, upscale suburb where the community of stay-at-home moms, a sub-culture all its own, would help highlight the juxtaposition of conformity and deception.

Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?

It was important to me that the characters were real. I hear from many readers who live across the globe from me, that they know the “suburban moms” from THE MEMORY BOX because they live in their own town. I certainly wanted the reader to identify with what Caroline goes through in the beginning of the book. This is very important if they are going to empathize with her plight. One common denominator I believe we all share is memory loss. These days, no matter who you talk to, people are either dealing with some amount of their own memory loss or that of a loved one. Memory loss is not just connected to one’s age anymore. Fuzzy memory can occur during or after pregnancy, during early motherhood, menopause. Geez, those are many stages of womanhood!

What is your method for writing a book? Do you spend a certain amount of hours every day writing?

I’m definitely not that organized. When I started to write The Memory Box, I knew the beginning and the end. I was always certain of those two things. And after the many years it has been since I started writing it, they have never changed. I did utilize an outline very late in the game, when I had to keep track of the sequence of things. When you write suspense and there are plot twists, it’s important to stay organized with timing especially. I actually drew up many versions of calendars for September 2006 and October 2006, the two months during which most of the book takes place. I also have many sketches of the floor plan of Caroline’s house. It’s very important to note that if a character walks down a hall from the den and made a right into the kitchen in Chapter 3, that she doesn’t walk down the hall from the den and make a left into the kitchen in Chapter 7. Most readers are very visual. Even if they don’t realize it, they see the book unfold as if it were a movie. They would pick up on a wrong turn in a heartbeat.

If The Memory Box was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?

My muse for Caroline was Julianne Moore. However, I started to write THE MEMORY BOX many years ago. While she could definitely play the role of Caroline, I could also see Amy Adams in the role. Perhaps Jennifer Lawrence for JD. My muse for Dr. Sullivan was the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I’m still too heartbroken to re-cast that one.

What made you want to become an author?

I must admit I never wanted to be a novelist. At different times of my life I wanted to be an astronaut, an actress, a singer, a sitcom writer, a cupcake judge and, according to a third-grade personal essay I wrote, a baseball player. I am not one of those people who claim that from a very young age they knew they wanted to write a book. I started to write THE MEMORY BOX as a way to channel my creativity and myself into something. It was very soon after I had taken a sabbatical from my career as a communications executive in the cosmetics industry and I moved with my family from NYC to the NJ suburbs. I was experiencing the culture shock of a new career and a new town in which I knew no one. The suburbs as a stay-at-home mom, was very new to me. Writing THE MEMORY BOX was my way of staying creative, strategic and communicative, even if it was with a book!

How do you come up with character names?

For THE MEMORY BOX, I asked my kids. It’s great dinner conversation when they were in grade school.

Name one of your all-time favorite books?

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

My thanks to Eva for taking the time to answer my questions.

About the author

Eva Lesko Natiello is the award-winning author of the #1 bestseller THE MEMORY BOX, a psychological thriller about a woman who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember. She is a speaker and essayist whose work can be found on her blog, Writing from the Intersection of Oops, Yikes & Awe at evanatiello.com where she writes about writing, creativity, parenting, food, fashion and humor. Eva is a former Estee Lauder communications executive and graduate of the University at Albany.

img_1315

 

Links to Author

Website     Facebook     Goodreads     Barnes & Noble     iTunes     Kobo     Smash words

Book description

What would you do if you Googled yourself and uncovered something shocking?

In this gripping psychological thriller, a group of privileged suburban moms amuse themselves by Googling everyone in town, digging up dirt to fuel thorny gossip. Caroline Thompson, devoted mother of two, sticks to the moral high ground and attempts to avoid these women. She’s relieved to hear her name appears only three times, citing her philanthropy. Despite being grateful that she has nothing to hide, a delayed pang of insecurity prods Caroline to Google her maiden name—which none of the others know.
The hits cascade like a tsunami. Caroline’s terrified by what she reads. An obituary for her sister, JD? That’s absurd.With every click, the revelations grow more alarming. They can’t be right. She’d know. Caroline is hurled into a state of paranoia—upending her blissful family life—desperate to prove these allegations false before someone discovers they’re true.
The disturbing underpinnings of The Memory Box expose a story of deceit, misconceptions, and an obsession for control. With its twists, taut pacing, and psychological tenor, Natiello’s page-turning suspense cautions: Be careful what you search for.

Amazon UK     Amazon US

what reviewers are saying about The Memory Box

“be prepared to toss that suburban fairy tale away, grab on to the steering wheel, and hope that you get through this obstacle course with all your mental faculties… Eva Lesko Natiello shows tremendous talent and courage in her creation of a powerful dichotomy, reaching beyond boundaries…” – San Francisco Book Review

“THE MEMORY BOX is a literary rarity–a story of high imagination cast with characters who seem as authentic as they are complex. From the moment Caroline Thompson dares to Google her own name, the stakes and suspense develop, treating the reader to a can’t-put-it-down mystery.” –Sidney Offit, author of Memoir of the Bookie’s Son

“In her impressive first novel, THE MEMORY BOX, Eva Lesko Natiello tells the fascinating story of a woman whose memories piece together a self-portrait she doesn’t recognize–until those memories yield to the terrible secrets they conceal.” –John Biguenet, author of Oyster

Nina Is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi #Review

image

Book description

Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

image
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book apart from what I had read in the book description, but this has to be one of the most brutal and harrowing story’s I have ever read. Nina is seventeen and loves a drink, well what seventeen year old doesn’t? You may ask, but Nina takes drinking to the extreme, Nina is in fact an alcoholic and in denial. We first meet Nina when she’s thrown out of a nightclub after committing a sexual act. She is so drunk, she doesn’t have a clue what really happened that night. However, it’s a night that will come back to haunt her in the most awful way. Nina is a girl hell bent on self-destruction and soon her drinking is out of control, having sex with strangers, sometimes more than one! falling out with friends and family, and drinking herself into oblivion. When Nina does the unthinkable, her mother at her wits end forces her to go to rehab.

You can’t help becoming emotionally involved in Nina’s story as her life spirals out of control, as does the drinking, at times she wasn’t the most likeable character, she appeared needy and desperate for affection, although in her defence you can see why she’s this way as the story unfolds, but she also had a vulnerable side which was heartbreaking to read about, as she made one bad choice after another, putting herself in some very dangerous situations. Nina’s character was frighteningly realistic as was her relationship with her mother, I felt I was living every mothers worse nightmare,and the relationship with her little sister Katie was heartwarming to say the least, and added warmth to a dark tale. fraught with tension and emotion throughout, I found myself completely immersed in Nina’s story. This could have been a dark and very depressing read, but the author adds just the right amount of humour through Nina’s dialogue with friends and family to counteract this.

As Nina begins her recovery and explores the issues surrounding her drinking, you can’t help hoping she will be able to find the strength to live a life without alcohol, I found this part of the book very emotional to read as Nina comes to terms with the terrible and heartbreaking things she’s  done whilst under the influence. Nina Is Not Ok is the definition of character driven, I can’t remember the last book where I became so emotionally involved with the characters or the plot, so much so I actually cried reading a few scenes.

Brutally honest and hard hitting Shappi Khorsandi deals realistically with the many issues facing teenagers today. Yes it’s an uncomfortable read at times due to the subject matter, and the author is very forthright in her writing, but in my opinion this made for a very powerful and realistic read. This book may not be to everyone’s taste due to the subject and sexual content, but in the authors defence this adds credibility to a shocking story. I would highly recommend you get yourself a copy of this book, whether your a teenager, a parent in fact I would go as far to say everyone should read this book, It’s the most tragic yet unexpectedly uplifting novel I’ve read all year.

5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Out of 5

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Ebury Press (Fiction) (28 July 2016)