Friday, 13 April 2018

Our House Blog Tour: Q&A With Louise Candlish

Hello everybody and welcome to my stop on the Our House blog tour! Today I'm interviewing the wonderful Louise Candlish about Our House, writing and life as an author.

Q1.) Hi Louise, welcome to the blog! Can you tell us a little bit about Our House and what sparked the idea behind it? 

Thank you for having me! Our House is a thriller about property fraud inspired by the growing number of news reports about conveyancing crime. That was the starting point, then I created a bespoke crime, one that hinges on the fact that a married couple is in the process of separating. My couple, Bram and Fi Lawson, set out with the best intentions for conscious uncoupling, but end up in the most horrific danger.

Q2.) What can fans of your previous books expect from Our House?

They can expect the same irrepressible social commentary! There was a lot to sink my teeth into with this one. Anyone who enjoyed The Sudden Departure of the Frasers will recognise Our House as a development of the cautionary note I tried to strike there about our dangerous love of property. Fi has a line where she says if she had her time again she would concentrate less on her house and more on the people in it. That’s the message in a nutshell.

Q3.) What’s been your best moment as an author so far?

It’s hard to beat the moments when you see your book in a chart alongside one of your literary heroes. If feels like it must be some sort of fantastic accident. From a technical point of view, the best moments are when your plot is all tangled up and you know it needs something very clever to release it and then you finally have that moment of solution. You feel like a genius. (It doesn’t last.)

Q4.) What does your typical writing day look like? 

I’ll work for about five hours during the day, then, if I have a deadline, I’ll do a few more hours in the evening and at weekends too. For the last seven years, I’ve structured my day around dog walks. I’m simplifying this: in reality, I’m easily distracted and work time is fractured.

Q5.) Do you have any advice for aspiring thriller writers?

I’ve been very instinctive in my thriller plotting, so I might not be the best model to follow. I’m anti-formulaic and quite rogue, which is probably not what they teach you on courses. I would say that mood and voice are as important as the technical plotting. The key is the central idea, so read widely to expose yourself to all the stranger-than-fiction stuff going on in the world. Almost anything can be reconfigured as fiction.

Q6.) What books would you recommend to fans looking for stories similar to your own?

I’m not sure who is similar but I can tell you which current British suspense writers I really like: Clare Mackintosh, Fiona Barton and Harriet Lane. With each, you’ll get a combination of mystery and psychological dissection. On my TBR rock and calling like sirens are Gillian McAllister, Erin Kelly, Mark Edwards, CL Taylor, Amanda Jennings, Louise Jensen, Liz Nugent and BA Paris. I’m always behind with my reading and genuinely ashamed about it as other authors are incredibly generous and supportive.

Q7.) Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?

I’m just finishing the first draft of a novel about a group of neighbours obsessed with a newcomer to the street, who has destroyed the perfect suburban lifestyle they’ve created for themselves. When tragedy strikes, the police try to discover if they’ve plotted to kill him.

Q8.) And lastly, what three words best describe Our House

Homeowner’s worst nightmare.

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Fear Blog Tour: Q&A with C.L. Taylor

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Fear Blog Tour! Today I'm so excited to be interviewing one of my favourite thriller writers C.L. Taylor where we're talking about trauma, writing inspiration and being a bestselling author.

Q1.) Hi C.L. Taylor, welcome to the blog! I absolutely loved The Fear, what sparked the idea behind it? 

Hi Jess, thanks so much for having me on your blog.

I’d had the basic idea for The Fear for a while but it wasn’t until last year that it all started to come together. Without wanting to give too much away I wanted to write a novel about the power play between a prisoner and their captor but, when I sat down to write it I realised I had the back story all wrong. Instead of my main character confronting the man who was responsible for her sister’s disappearance eighteen years earlier she would be confronting the man who groomed and seduced her as a teenager and convinced her to run away to France with him. The idea immediately appealed. It was so much more powerful and – importantly to me – unusual than my original idea. There was one particularly high profile news story about a school girl who ran away with her teacher that dominated the paper for months. I was interested, not so much in the grooming angle, but on the impact that experience would have on the girl as she became a woman and started relationships with other men.

Q2.) What can fans of your previous thrillers expect from this one?

The Fear is slightly different from my other books (where women find themselves in strange or dangerous situations) because Lou actively goes after Mike, to confront him for what he did to her when she was fourteen. She’s the strongest, most pro-active female character I’ve written so far, although she’s also quite vulnerable. I also write from the point of view of Wendy and Chloe, the other women in the book and I think what makes the book quite powerful is that each of their stories are gripping and unusual and, when they all meet for the first time…well, that would be telling.

Q3.) The characters in your books typically deal with some sort of trauma and this is especially the case in The Fear, how do you get into that mind set to be able to write their stories? 

You’re absolutely right about that, my poor characters! When I start writing my books I normally know what each character wants (their goal), what their flaw is and what they fear. I spend a lot of time thinking about their past. What happened before the stories starts that made them the way they are? We’re all the result of our childhood and the relationships we’ve had since, whether we like it or not and I spend a lot of time thinking about my character’s pasts. Once I know all that it’s normally time to start the first draft. I think this is true of most writers but, when I write from the point of view of my characters, I become them. I see what they see, hear what they hear, feel what they feel. That makes writing traumatic scenes from their point of view really emotionally taxing because I’m feeling their fear, anticipation or dread. To get myself in the mood to go to a dark place in my mind I often write those scenes at night, with a couple of candles burning and some atmospheric instrumental music playing. Afterwards I’ll leave my study and go and watch something light hearted on the TV to try and shake myself back out of the character.

Q4.) Last year you released your first YA book The Treatment do you have any plans to return to the genre? 

I do! I’ve got a two book contract with HarperCollins HQ for young adult thrillers and, hopefully, I’ll be writing the second one this year. It’s going to be a little tricky through as the publishing process for the adult psychological thriller I’m writing now goes on until mid-September so I’ll have to try and write the young adult book in the two week gaps where my editor’s doing her structural and line edits or the copyeditor is doing her thing.

Q5.) What’s been your best moment as an author so far? 

I’m very lucky in that I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences since becoming an author in 2009 and it’s hard to pinpoint just one. Holding my debut in my hands for the first time has to be a highlight. So is winning a Dead Good Books award for The Escape last year, and being presented with Specsavers Nielsen Book Awards for The Accident and The Lie this year. Oh, and being able to give up my day job to write full time was a dream come true. So maybe that.

Q6.) Do you have any advice for aspiring thriller writers? 

Watch your pace and keep the action going. I get sent a lot of proofs and I can’t possibly read them all. As a result I’m pretty brutal about putting a book down when I get bored and picking up another. There are a couple of reasons why I get bored:

1) Too much description

2) Not enough action

3) Too much (character) reflection

4) Too much repetition (of how a character is feeling or summarising events I’ve already read about)

5) The plot is predictable or OTT

Each scene in your book should move the plot forward or give the reader a valuable (not redundant) insight into a character. As my author friend Julie Cohen says ‘make shit happen’. When I read through my own first drafts I always mark on the page (or use Kindle notes) when I feel my attention waver or I’m bored and want to stop reading. If I feel like that the chances are the reader feels like that too. Inevitably the reason I’m bored is that there hasn’t been any interesting action for a while so it’s time to cut or rewrite that scene.

Q7.) What books would you recommend to fans looking for stories similar to your own?

There are so many brilliant psychological thriller authors out there that I always feel bad when I answer this question in case a friend sees it and thinks, ‘why didn’t she mention me?’ But I do see certain similarities between my style and Mark Edwards’, and Tammy Cohen is the queen of a twist ending. Oh, and I hugely recommend Lisa Jewell’s psychological thrillers. They pack an emotional punch as well as being gripping reads.

Q8.) Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next? 

Not really as I’m only 24,000 words in and I’m superstitious about talking about a book before I’ve finished it in case it takes some of the magic away. But it will be the first of my books with a single word title and I’m hoping it will appeal to readers who really loved The Lie.

Q9.) And lastly, what three words best describe The Fear

Tense, claustrophobic and gripping.

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Friday, 16 March 2018

Blog Tour: The House of Hopes and Dreams Extract and Giveaway!

Hi guys! Today I'm very excited to be hosting my blog tour stop for Trisha Ashley's brand new novel The House of Hopes and Dreams. I have an extract from the book to share with you and if it leaves you wanting to read more then you're in luck as I have 3 copies of the book available to win over on Twitter!

Intrigued? Don't miss your chance to win The House of Hopes and Dreams! 

Make sure you check out the rest of the blog tour

Friday, 23 February 2018

Blog Tour: Review for Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris and Giveaway

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris 
Publisher: HQ
Release: 8th March 2018
Genre: Thriller
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he's engaged to be married; he's happy, and his past is only a tiny part of his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his future wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their relationship becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?"

B.A. Paris is one of my favourite psychological thriller authors, she puts her characters in these impossible situations and I can never turn the pages fast enough as I’m desperate to see how the story will unfold.

This time in Bring Me Back we’re following Finn whose girlfriend Layla went missing 12 years ago whilst the couple were on holiday in France. On their journey home Finn pulls their car into a rest stop but once he returns from the bathroom Layla has vanished, never to be found.

Now in the present-day Finn is engaged to be married to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Not long after their engagement Finn comes home to find Ellen clutching a Russian doll a symbol that holds huge significance between Layla and Ellen and their past. As more Russian dolls are left for them and Finn starts to receive emails from somebody claiming to be Layla the past comes rushing back to haunt them. Is Layla still alive? And if she is what really happened to her that day in France all those years ago?

Once again B.A. Paris had me absolutely absorbed in her writing. Right from the start you know that Finn is a suspicious character and that we’re not getting the whole truth from him but you’re never sure how much he is to blame for what happened to Layla. I loved playing detective and trying to guess what happened back then and if Layla truly is alive and well in the present day.

I also loved the role that the Russian dolls had to play in this book. It gave the story a distinctly horror-esque vibe that you don’t often see in thrillers, adding another chilling piece to this complex puzzle.

I have to say that I did have some mixed feelings on the ending to this one. I found that I had to suspend belief a little too much for my liking but it’s also an ending that got me thinking and discussing the situation with my friends to see what they’d do and I love when a book leaves you thinking long after you finish it.

Overall Bring Me Back is another gripping domestic noir from B.A. Paris and I’m already eagerly anticipating her next book.

As part of the blog tour I'm giving away a copy of Bring Me Back! 
Make sure you enter over on Twitter 

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Friday, 9 February 2018

Review for I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release: 5th April 2018
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"A powerful story of empathy and friendship from the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of If I Stay.

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

An emotionally cathartic story of losing love, finding love, and discovering the person you are meant to be, I Have Lost My Way is best­selling author Gayle Forman at her finest."

Gayle Forman is one of my very favourite contemporary YA writers so a new release from her is always cause for much excitement! It’s been three years since her last YA book and it’s safe to say that I Have Lost My Way was everything I wanted it to be, filling up the Gayle Forman shaped hole in my life.

I Have Lost My Way follows three teenagers who literally crash into each other’s lives when they each need a friend the most. We have Freya, an online singing sensation who is tipped to be the next big star, Harun the perfect Muslim son who is about to leave his home in search of a wife and Nathaniel who is visiting New York City for the very first time. Each character has recently lost something vital and is questioning their place in the world and how to move forward. As the three of them develop a friendship they help each other confront the things that they have lost and find the courage to carve a new future for themselves.

This book reminded me a lot of Just One Day, my favourite of Gayle Forman’s books. It takes place over 24 hours in New York City but instead of a romantic relationship this time Forman explores the impact that friendship can have on our lives and how just one person’s actions can change everything.

I Have Lost My Way doesn’t give up all its secrets at once. As you get to hear from each character in the present you know that something pivotal has happened in their pasts that has led them to where they are today. Of course, in true Gayle Forman style, as you learn about each character’s story your heart breaks for them and you want nothing more than for each character to find some hope and the strength to move forward. Although I loved all three characters so much my favourite was Nathaniel, his story was the one that moved me to tears.

Overall, I Have Lost My Way is another triumph for Gayle Forman. This book features a wealth of much needed representation on topics such as child carers, mental illness, suicide and coming out, to name just a few, and is handled in a compassionate manner that felt carefully researched. This short but powerful book packs an emotional punch and is one that I’d highly recommend to anybody who likes poignant writing on hard hitting topics.

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