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Opening Lines: Uncommon Cruelty by Liz Mistry

Thursday has come around again – which means it is Opening Lines blog day!

This week I’m welcoming Liz Mistry to my site with the first 500 words from her crime novel, Uncommon Cruelty.

Over to you Liz…

Uncommon Cruelty is a gritty police procedural based in Bradford, West Yorkshire and is the fourth in the DI Gus McGuire series.  It was released on April 14th 2018.

Inspiration comes from a variety of places for most writers. In this instance, a teenage house party gone wrong, raised the question, I’m always asking myself… What if …?

It was from that seed that Uncommon Cruelty was born.

Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BQVLGNQ/ 

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Uncommon-Cruelty-McGuire-case-Book-

Uncommon Cruelty Blurb

DI Gus McGuire and his team are called in to investigate the disappearance of a teenage boy after his parents return from a weekend away, to find their home trashed and their son missing.

But that is just the beginning.

As the investigation unfolds, Gus must discover what links a violent bikers’ gang, a Muslim youth group and a fundamentalist American based Christian church.

Alongside this, two cases from the past come back to haunt DI Gus McGuire and his DS, Alice Cooper.

Gus has a lot to juggle, but will he cope?

Uncommon Cruelty is the fourth in the DI Gus McGuire series set in Bradford West Yorkshire and is a gritty, Northern Noir read.

***

So, here’s the first 500 words of Uncommon Cruelty:

Prologue

Leeds, 2012

Mushrooms of dense throat-clogging smoke hung in the air. Every breath was like sucking through cotton wool and, even after gargling with mouthfuls of cold water, Detective Inspector Sandy Panesar could still taste it; a coating of ash, sharp and acrid on her tongue.

‘Have they got the child?’ Her voice was shrill as she rushed forward towards the dark figure of a firefighter wearing breathing apparatus leaving the blaze.

The figure carried an amorphous bundle that was wrapped so completely in a blanket that it was impossible to tell if it was even human. With practised ease, the package was transferred onto a stretcher trolley, leaving Sandy to watch, her heart hammering in her chest as the paramedic unwrapped the small, still body. Her heart plummeted. The child’s face, beneath its mucky streaks, was pale and its eyes remained closed, its body unmoving. Sandy focussed on the child’s chest but could detect no movement as she willed the paramedics to make a miracle happen. Their examination seemed to take forever and Sandy’s view was obstructed as they started chest compressions and fitted a drip. Their muttered words meant nothing to her as they worked with an economy of movement she would, in different circumstances, have admired. Just when she’d given up hope, one of the paramedics turned towards her with a smile and stepped away from the child; ten years old yet, the size of a three-year-old, with an oxygen mask dwarfing its tiny face.

Sandy, realising she’d been holding her breath, took in a huge gulp of air and sent a quick prayer heavenward before bending down and gently ruffling the child’s matted black hair. Two huge unblinking eyes stared right through her, seemingly lost in whatever hell played out in its mind. Her heart almost broke. Surviving the fire was only half the battle for this little one. The biggest battle lay ahead. She patted the kid on the arm and stood back.

The paramedic smiled. ‘It’s the shock, that’s all. It’ll pass with a good night’s rest and some food.’

Sandy wondered if he was referring to her or the child. Watching them take the child away, she thought, Yeah, a good night’s rest, some food and a lifetime of counselling. Pulling herself together, she glanced through the darkness at the crowd. The tall distinctive figure of her detective sergeant, with his head of three-inch-long dreadlocks, rose like a sphinx above everyone else. He tilted his head to let her know he’d seen her and continued directing the uniformed officers to control the gathering crowd before striding over.

He pointed to the departing ambulance. ‘Was that the kid, then?’

Sandy thrust her hands in her pockets, and glowered, ‘Yep, uninjured bar some smoke inhalation and shock, according to the paramedics.’

DS Gus McGuire acknowledged her words. ‘Yeah, although not unharmed.’

‘No, not unharmed,’ she agreed and kicked a loose stone towards the blazing house. ‘When the fire service have left and their assessors …’

Liz is contactable here:

Facebook: @LizMistrybooks

Twitter: @LizCrimeWarp

Blog: https://thecrimewarp.blogspot.co.uk/

Website: https://lizmistrycrimewriter.wordpress.com/

 

Liz’s Books  available here

Book 1   Unquiet Souls       http://ow.ly/1NLZ30iSwY4

Book 2   Uncoiled Lies        http://ow.ly/YOD630iSx4K

Book 3   Untainted Blood   http://ow.ly/fTtn30iSxa5

3 book Set  1, 2 & 3            http://ow.ly/FtpC30iSxeM

Book 4  Uncommon Cruelty

Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BQVLGNQ/ 

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Uncommon-Cruelty-McGuire-case-Book-

***

Many thanks Liz. Fabulous stuff.

Come back next week for the first 500 words from one of Vicki FitzGerald’s novels.

Happy reading, 

Jenny x

 


Interview with Karen King: Rise of the Soul Catchers

It’s interview time!

Today my lovely friend Karen King is dropping by for a chat. Why not grab a cuppa and come and join us?

What inspired you to write your book?

Rise of the Soul Catchers is a mixture of my favourite genres, fantasy and romance. It’ s inspired by my belief that love is eternal and that we meet our loved ones again when we die.  The two main characters, teenagers Sapphire and Will, are killed in the first chapter and separated. They discover that the afterworld is split into seven zones, each named after a colour of the rainbow. They each believe the other one to have been taken by the Soul Catchers to Red, a zone where all your nightmares come true. They love each other so much that they go to Red to find each other. The story is written from both their viewpoints, so for some of the story we follow their individual journey separately. It was first published as Sapphire Blue but has now been republished and rebranded, by Littwitz Press.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

I never base any of my characters on an existing person but I do take bits from people I  know or meet, things they say or do, certain mannerisms they have, so it’s very likely that some traits, actions or incidents will appear in one of my books. My daughters often say to me ‘you got that off me!’ or that they can think one of their characters is based on something one of their sisters did. And I confess in my acknowledgements that they are a constant inspiration for me

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

None! As it’s set in the afterlife I could make the world and characters however I wanted them to be!

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I don’t have a preference it depends on the character and the story. Rise of the Soul Catchers is written in the present tense, using first person viewpoint for Sapphire and third person for Will.  It was the way the story came to me, so I went with it. I chose different viewpoints for Sapphire and Will so that it would be immediately clear which character viewpoint we’re in. So far, I’ve used third person past tense for all my romance novels, but first person past for my other YA, Perfect Summer. The YA I’m now working on is written in first person too, so maybe it’s a YA thing!

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

A bit of both. I always work out my main characters and story plot before I start so I have a base to work from then I just write the first draft as it comes. The characters often do things I hadn’t planned, and the plot might go off at an unexpected tangent, but I go with it. Once I’ve finished the first draft I start rereading and revising, deleting anything I don’t think works.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Yes, can I give a shout out for my romcom, The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma, which is now on pre-order  and will be published by Accent Press on 7 June.

***

Blurb- Rise of the Soul Catchers

Can love survive anything – even death?

Sapphire and Will vow to love each other forever. But when a car crash ends that dream all too soon, they find themselves separated in an afterlife with zones named after the colours of the rainbow. Determined to find each other, they start an adventurous journey alongside a cast of characters they don’t know whether to trust. They finally meet again in the terror-fuelled Red Zone where the dreaded Soul Catchers are planning on taking over the entire afterworld and are plunged into a dangerous battle. Is their love strong enough to survive against the odds?

 (Previously published as Sapphire Blue)

***

Here’s a great extract for you…

Rise of the Soul Catchers extract. Sapphire’s Viewpoint

Chapter Two 

I am alive.

I lie still, keeping my eyes closed, trying to feel if I’m hurt, if anything is broken. I flex my fingers, my toes, move my head real slow from side to side. Everything seems fine.

Oh God, Will! Is Will okay?  I snap open my eyes, sit up, look over at the passenger seat praying that Will is alive too. Only there’s no passenger seat. No car. No Will.

What the hell has happened? Did I dream it?

I couldn’t have dreamt it. I remember it all so vividly. Will driving along, singing, the container in the middle of the road, the tree zooming toward us, the crash. Besides I’m not in bed. I’m…

I look around. Everywhere is covered by a thick, white mist and it’s eerily quiet. Where am I?

“Sapphire!”

Grandpa?  Surprised, I swing around and stare at my grandpa walking through the mist toward me, waving with a big smile on his face. Now I know I’m dreaming. Grandpa died two years ago.

“Sapphire!” Grandpa’s right in front of me. He holds out his arms for me to run into them, like I used to when I was little, but I can’t move. My feet are glued to the ground as I gape at him. “Grandpa?” I whisper

. “It’s me,” he says. “It’s really me.” He reaches out and envelopes me in a big hug. I feel his arms wrap around me, smell the familiar musky-scent and relax a little, allow myself to sink into the warmth and comfort of his embrace. “Don’t be frightened, I’ll look after you.” Grandpa’s voice is soft, gentle and I’m so glad to see him again that I nestle in closer and rest my head on his shoulder just like I used to do when I was little.

“I’ve missed you, Grandpa,” I mumble.

“I’ve missed you too, sweetie. It’s so lovely to see you again, but not like this. Not so soon. You’re too young.” His eyes are shining with tears.

Too young for what? Suddenly I’m jolted back to the present. What’s happening? What’s Grandpa doing here? I want to wake up. I don’t like this dream. I focus on waking, imagine myself opening my eyes, finding myself in my comfy bed with its bright, daisy-flowered duvet cover, snuggling up to the big, yellow Miss Sunshine cushion Will bought. That’s what he calls me. His Little Miss Sunshine. He says I brighten up his life.

Will.

Where’s Will? “Wake up,” I whisper to myself. “Wake up.”

“This isn’t a dream, love,” Grandpa tells me as he strokes my hair. “I know it’s a lot to take in and it will seem strange at first, but you’ll get used to it. There’s lots of family waiting to meet you, aunts and uncle and your great-grandparents. We’ll all look after you.”

His words freak me out. I try to pull away from him. “They’re all dead!” I scream. “And, so are you. You’re dead!” I pinch my arm. Hard. Squeeze my eyes shut. This is a dream. It must be a dream.

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! …

***

Buy Links

Rise of the Soul Catchers is available for pre-order from Amazon and will be published on 25th April.

Amazon: http://ow.ly/Fz1L30j0hqh

 

Author bio

Karen King writes edgy YA with a heart and sassy, heart-warming romance. Her first YA, Perfect Summer, was runner up in the Red Telephone Books 2011 YA Novel Competition and her second YA, Sapphire Blue, now republished as Rise of the Soul Catchers by Littwitz Press, was called ‘the best YA book out there right now’ by a reviewer for Ind’Tale magazine.

Karen has four romcoms published by Accent Press, and a fifth one is due out in June this year, Her latest romcom, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, was #3 in the Amazon bestseller holiday reads.  She has recently signed a two book-contract with Bookouture for more romance novels.

Karen has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Young Adult Books Facebook Page

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/ 

***

Many thanks Karen. Great interview.

I happen to know this is a fabulous book- so happy reading folks,

Jenny xx


Everything happens for a reason: James D Mortain

I’m delighted to welcome James D Mortain to my blog today. He- like me- is something of an accidental author- although out entry into the wonderful world of words is very different.

Over to you James…

Everything happens for a reason!

I consider myself something of an accidental author.

Why?

Well, up until a sequence of events changed my outlook on life, the concept of writing a novel had simply never crossed my mind.

In 2011, I was a detective in Bath CID with twelve years’ service behind me. My wife and I had been struggling to have a family for a number of years, but in this particular year, we were to be in luck! We had embarked on fertility treatment. For those reading this going through the same process, you know what ‘hope’ really means. It was a challenging pregnancy. My wife was in and out of hospital more times than I can remember. We knew we were going to have a little girl, due in the early part of January, but October came, and so began the sequence of events that would change my life.

It was early October when I received the first calls from my mother stating that my father wasn’t well. He was a strong man. He might have been a grumpy old git from time-to-time, but he was rarely unwell. Days passed. His condition worsened. The family knew it was serious. Mid October and dad was having tests at the hospital. By late October, he was diagnosed with widespread cancer. Just days later, he was gone.

My wife, now heavily pregnant, my commitment to the job, my family, my emotions, everything was spinning, but we had to ensure the health of my wife and our unborn child.

A few weeks later, having said our final goodbyes to my dad, a magical thing happened; my wife began labour pains — not so magical for her — but at last, we had a brief respite of positivity. It was 22nd December. On the 23rd, she was admitted to the maternity unit. We spent the late evening watching the clock — would we have a Christmas Eve baby? The clock went beyond midnight — yes, we would … oh! … No, we wouldn’t. Christmas Eve came and went. Christmas morning arrived and it was snowing outside in the hospital car park. The countdown was on and at just gone midday, my gorgeous daughter, Gracie, was born. The mixture of emotions we felt was obvious, but in my arms I held the most precious of gifts on Christmas Day.

I returned to work a father, having lost my own. Suddenly, priorities were different, concerns were changed and it provided clarity to my wife and I as to what was important and what we wanted the future to hold for little Gracie.

My mother-in-law, Liz, lived in North Devon, a place we loved to visit, particularly Westward Ho! We decided to prospect on the sale of our house in Bath — we had tried previously without a single viewing, but this time we had four full asking price offers on the first day! That was it — our sign. Offers agreed, we found a home in North Devon, but then came the hard part; I had to leave my job. It was a huge shock to all of my colleagues, but the relief and anticipation for me was overwhelming. All I had to do now was find a job in my new neighbourhood — how hard could that be?

August 2012, I was jobless, seriously homesick, missing my mates and missing the buzz of the job. I arranged to meet my old uniform colleagues for a night out in Bath and then the most significant event occurred. Towards the end of the night, I had consumed a skin full of booze. I got chatting to a chap seated alongside me at the end of the bar. He’d been to a book signing event at Toppings & Co. I asked him who he had seen (I had seen the brilliant Lee Child there a year or two before); his response, “It was mine, actually.”  I didn’t have a clue who he was, I apologised for not recognizing him and I asked for his name. Turned out I was chatting with Chris Ryan, ex-SAS veteran and author of many successful books. You can imagine my excitement at meeting a real-life legend. We continued to chat. He told me a little of his life as an author; I told him what I had recently done, and in that short conversation, the spark of creativity within me was ignited.

Next day, I enthusiastically relayed my chance encounter to my wife and mentioned something that he had said: that I had the knowledge and real-life experience that most crime writers would dream of having and why didn’t I consider writing a novel? To my astonishment, my wife agreed to the idea.

The trouble was I had no writing experience, no specific writing qualifications and frankly, no idea of what I was doing. However, I tried it anyway and later that same day I opened the laptop and Detective Deans was born. I gave the story a title, I knew the kind of real-life case I wanted to develop and I simply let the story take me where it naturally wanted to go.

What I hadn’t anticipated, was just how addictive writing would be. My story soon became a major focus in my life. I was now employed during the day, my little girl was growing and I was lucky that my wife indulged my ‘whim’. To her, it was my new hobby. To me, it was so much more.

After a year, the draft of STORM LOG-0505 was completed, but what was I going to do with it next? I truly believed in my story. I just couldn’t imagine anyone else being interested, after all, I still didn’t know what I was doing. I finally allowed a few people close to me to read it. They liked it. Some even loved it! I recruited professional help and found an editor. He picked my story apart, but crucially, he liked it too. I reached the stage where I had edited the thing so many times that I was making changes for the sake of it. I decided to take it to the next level and seek an agent. I threw all of my efforts into submissions and amazingly, within 48 hours of my first cast, I had a reply. An agent was keen to see my full manuscript. I sent it off. I waited. Soon I had a reply with lots of helpful tips and further proposed changes. I immediately went to work on the manuscript, and then BANG! I was struck down with viral meningitis.

I was sick. Very sick. For months, I lost control of my cognitive abilities, my vision changed, I suffered with blistering headaches and I battled with chronic fatigue. And with it, my hopes of gaining an agent evaporated, but … everything happens for a reason.

My condition slowly improved, I eased myself back into my day job and I took stock of the situation. I began writing again and I regained control. I wasn’t going to beat myself up and knock myself down with disappointment. It was time to go it alone.

I found a designer, Jessica Bell, who designed a fabulous cover for my story. Suddenly, my book was real. Editors polished the content and formatters made the inside look attractive. And then, in April 2016, STORM LOG-0505 was released to the world. For any author, releasing a new book is a special moment. For me, it was an achievement of Himalayan proportions. I watched the Amazon sales report like a hawk, waiting for those initial sales to start flooding in … but nothing happened, and so began my second publishing crash-course in marketing and promotion. I wasn’t using Facebook or Twitter at the time, but I soon began to build my platform and the sales started to trickle through. Then reviews came … and they were good … in fact, they were amazing! Four and five stars. People were actually enjoying my story AND wanting more! This trend continued until almost a year after its release, and one morning I woke up to discover STORM LOG-0505 had a little orange banner beside it on Amazon Kindle that said, ‘Best Seller’. My novel had reached the top spot in Psychic Suspense. Imagine my bewilderment!

I held author events — I absolutely loved them. Incredibly, people were bothering to hear me talk about my writing. I thought it was bonkers, yet all the while, I was working on the sequel.

Taking a third of the time to write and a third of the cost to publish, in November 2017, DEAD BY DESIGN was released. A week later, it too had a little orange banner beside it on Amazon Kindle.

Today, buoyed by the positive reviews and many kind messages I receive from my readers, I actually ‘feel’ like an author. I strive to improve and learn with each page I write, and each day I wake up and know I am closer to realising my goal of becoming a full-time writer.

Unexpected and magical things can really happen. Six years ago, I was slogging away at my desk, and thanks to a brave decision and a chance encounter, my new pathway in life couldn’t be further removed. We all suffer knockbacks and disappointment and I’m sure for me more will follow, but at least when it does, I can honestly accept that no matter how bad it might feel at the time, everything happens for a reason.

Biography

James D Mortain uses an author pseudonym and brings authenticity to his work through twelve years of police service with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary. His father’s death and the birth of his first child shaped a defining period and re-evaluation of his life, resulting in 2012 with his resignation from the police force and a move to North Devon.

Jobless and homesick James returned to Bath visiting friends, where a chance encounter and conversation with successful author, Chris Ryan, motivated him to start writing. Believing everything happens for a reason and nothing happens by chance, James embarked on creating a fresh British detective series influenced by his police experience and infused with paranormal overtones, inspired by a close friend with extraordinary ability.

James has created a character in Detective Deans, who must challenge everything he has been taught to believe. In the first book, STORM LOG-0505, Detective Deans hunts for a missing student, but what he discovers in a small North Devon community exposes him to a ‘paranormal awakening’ and the perilous clutches a sophisticated killer. DEAD BY DESIGN is the series follow-on and pits Deans against his greatest challenge yet. The final part of the trilogy is in the making and will be published in 2019.

Visit James here –
Website:        jamesdmortain.com
Twitter:         @JamesDMortain
Facebook:      James D Mortain & James D Mortain – Books

STORM LOG-0505

The wait is almost over for Detective Andrew Deans; years of agony and despair hanging on the results of his wife’s fertility treatment. But a student is missing. And he must find her.

Compelled to leave his wife in Bath, Deans heads to North Devon, where he encounters Denise Moon, a medium, who exposes him to a psychic dimension he could never have imagined existed, in what soon becomes a murder hunt.

Gripped by a mysterious happening attributed to his own paranormal awakening and alienated from all but his new mystical muse, Deans is closing in on a sophisticated killer, but all is not as it seems and Deans’ future is about to change.

Amazon UK  Amazon US

DEAD BY DESIGN

Detective Deans is back in this highly anticipated crime thriller sequel, but this time he seeks far more than just the truth!

A young couple in their prime is found dead in the marital bed. As they lie naked, staring at each other with eyes wide open – filled with fear, his colleagues assume a double suicide, but Detective Andrew Deans senses that darker forces are at work.

Deans is facing an awakening – a spiritual birth, but he is stuck in a living nightmare. Those around him are watching … judging … expecting him to break.

As he waits to hear the news he dreads most, Deans receives an unmarked DVD and the true meaning of horror is revealed.

Playing by the rules is getting him nowhere. Now, it’s time to do things his way. But death and tragedy haven’t finished with him… yet.

Amazon UK  Amazon US

THE NIGHT SHIFT (A SHORT STORY)

Thursday, 17th August. Ten years before…

When a fly-on-the-wall documentary crew drops in on a night shift in Bath city centre, PC Ellie Grange and her team are fuelled with anticipation at the thought of becoming TV reality stars.

They need it real, they want it uncensored, and they crave a true-to-life experience of the demands faced by Britain’s cops on our streets.

It’s a beautiful evening – the first night shift of a set in the historic Georgian city… what could possibly go wrong?

Amazon UK  Amazon US 

***

Fantastic blog- thank you so much James,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx


Opening Lines: The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

It’s time for another in the popular blog series “Opening Lines.”

This week I’m delighted to welcome Linda MacDonald to my site to share the first 500 words (precisely) of her novel, The Man in the Needlecord Jacket.

Over to you Linda…

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is told from the perspectives of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership.

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.

I was inspired to explore the issue of mental abuse in partnerships and the grey area of an infidelity that is emotional, not physical.  Here are the first 500 words …

Sarah’s Story – July 2013

In early December last year, my life took an ominous turn. It was a time of grey skies and drizzle-filled days and when Coll came over to my place for a midweek supper. I had finished decorating the small Christmas tree, tidied leftover tinsel and trinkets into a carrier bag and was sitting at my dining table putting stamps on my cards ready for posting. He arrived with a local Exeter paper in his hand and he waved it at me with a flourish before plonking it down in front of me, scattering my neat pile of cards.

No hello or how are you? I could tell he was on one of his missions. I would have to listen before I spoke, and then perhaps feign enthusiasm for yet another wild scheme which would take a good half hour in the telling. His eyes were excited and there was a smear of green paint on the back of his left hand. It’s interesting how one remembers trivial details surrounding major events.

He said, ‘I want to find an outlet for my paintings and try to seize some of the Christmas present-buying market. There’s a new restaurant opened this side of Pinhoe. I might try there, if someone hasn’t already beaten me to it. Look, it says “locally sourced produce”.’ And he jabbed a finger on the advert in question, demanding my scrutiny. ‘The clientele might appreciate local art too. Can’t get much more local than me. I’ll go and have a meal there on Friday and see what it’s like.’

I noticed he said ‘I’ll go and have a meal.’ Not ‘we.’ He saw my narrowed eyes.

‘You won’t want to be hanging around while I talk pictures,’ he said.

It would have been nice to have been asked. He was always inclined to do what he wanted without considering my feelings. A man of impulses. Highly annoying but also part of the attraction because when the impulses included me – which they did often at the start of our relationship – life was sublime.

‘Good idea,’ I said. I thought it was. I had no inkling that it was going to be the worst idea in the world.

Felicity – Early December 2012

My new restaurant has barely been open a week when I am hovering near the entrance lobby and a table for one is requested by an attractive middle-aged man. I assume he is on business, but as we are outside the centre of Exeter on the edge of a small village, this is unusual. Also, he is clad

like a rock-star in faded denim and a dark grey needlecord jacket. Not the favoured garb of my clientele who are usually besuited or, that most broadly interpreted of phrases, smart-casual.

I show him to a small table by the window and give him a menu. He requests a glass of house white in a voice of liquid gold. In my mind, I begin to elaborate on…

***

You can find out what happens next by purchasing The Man in the Needlecord Jacket from – Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Needlecord-Jacket-Linda-MacDonald/dp/1788037111/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

About the Author

Linda MacDonald is the author of four independently published novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. They are all contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths’, Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham, Kent.

Twitter: @LindaMac1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LindaMacDonaldAuthor/

***

Many thanks Linda. Great extract.

Come back next week to read the first 500 words from Liz Mistry.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Interview with Rachel Sargeant: The Perfect Neighbours

It’s interview time! Why not get the kettle boiling, make a cuppa, grab some cake and settle down to see what I’ve been talking about with author, Rachel Sargeant…

Hello, Jenny. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog and for giving me these fun questions to answer.

What inspired you to write your book?

My latest book, The Perfect Neighbours, came out of two ideas. I lived for ten years in a British expat community in Germany. It is an unusual, close-knit environment that I’ve always felt would make a great setting for a novel if I could find the right project. When I moved back to England, I read a newspaper report about a criminal case that was going through the courts at that time. The crime was so bizarre and audacious that many people thought it was a spoof. I did some research and discovered that the case was by no means unique. This kind of crime has sadly claimed many victims over the years. This made me wonder whether a similar crime could occur in a small community where everyone knows everyone’s business, or thinks they do. I found the right story for my expat setting.

 

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

My characters are completely made up. Apart from the dubious ethics of using real people, I don’t think I could mould real people to do and say what I want. My latest novel features a dark mix of secretive and menacing neighbours. Thankfully all my real neighbours, past and present, are nothing like them.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

This book started life as a portfolio piece for my M.A. in Creative Writing and required a lot of research for the accompanying academic essay. I researched a number of topics including hospitality and friendship. (There were other major topics too which I can’t mention without giving away the plot.) By the time I finished working with my editor at HarperCollins, the novel became more commercial and these topics provided only a light touch.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I tend to write in the third person, possibly because I like to feature several characters’ viewpoints in the story.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I have to plot. In life, I’m a planner and list maker. The same holds true for my writing.

What is your writing regime?

I get home from my job as a school librarian at 4pm, check social media and then write until 7pm. I also put in a few hours at the weekend. Most of this writing will be editing previous drafts as I tend to write first drafts in school holidays.

What excites you the most about your book?

The most overwhelming thing is seeing the reviews on Amazon and GoodReads from real readers who’ve bought my book, read it and written about it. It’s very humbling.

About the author

Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. The Perfect Neighbours is her third novel. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel has a degree in German and Librarianship from Aberystwyth University and a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

Website: http://www.rachelsargeant.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelSargeant3

 

About The Perfect Neighbours

The Perfect Neighbours is a Kindle Top Ten bestseller published by HarperCollins Killer Reads.

“An original, gripping thriller that is both unnerving and shocking in equal measure. I was immediately drawn into the strange, claustrophobic neighbourhood and Rachel Sargeant creates a thrilling sense of foreboding throughout.” Phoebe Morgan, author of The Doll House

The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies… When Helen moves to Germany with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to join the expat community of teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare.

Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret… As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.

When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the neighbourhood, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything.

Available from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Neighbours-Rachel-Sargeant-ebook/dp/B074M2VJ3P/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1507722593&sr=1-1&keywords=the+perfect+neighbours

Or HarperCollins website:

https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008276737

***

Extract from The Perfect Neighbours

Gary squeezed Helen’s hand. “Excited?”

She said nothing. Was she excited? New start in a new country. As a full-time wife. She managed a smile and nodded.

They drove off the A road – the Landstrasse as Gary called it – into a grey, built-up area. She thought of the coach trip she’d made with a Year 10 class to Bulgaria; Communist-built apartment blocks on the outskirts of Sofia.

Gary pulled up at traffic lights and pointed. “And behind there is the Niers International School.”

Through the spike-topped metal fence on the right she made out rows of full bicycle stands. It looked like a provincial railway station.

“But you can’t see it properly from here,” he added.

A pot-bellied man in a dark uniform was standing by a sentry hut, the wooden roof scabby and cracked.

“You have guards?” she asked.

“Don’t mind Klaus. We have two full-time security men to patrol the site. The parents like it. Except our guys spend most of the time playing toy soldiers in their little house.”

Helen laughed until she noticed Ausländer Raus spray-painted on a bus shelter. “Does that mean what I think it means?”

The light went green, and they turned left.

“Foreigners Out – but you hardly ever see that stuff. Most of the Germans love the international school,” he said. “Lots of locals work here in support roles, and the parents spend good money in the town.”

He’d told her about the parents before. Most worked for big international companies in Düsseldorf, and others were rich locals prepared to pay for an English-speaking education. And some were teachers.

“Think about it, Helen,” Gary had said when they sat down with their pros and cons sheet on one of his weekend visits, agonizing over where to live. “Not yet, but in a few years, if we have children, it could be their school. There are so many perks, as well as the salary.”

That had been the clincher: Gary could earn more staying out here than the two of them put together in the UK. Helen had stopped being stubborn in light of the cold hard figures. She quit her job and put her house up for rent.

He went over a speed bump, and she felt the seatbelt rub against her collarbone.

“Have you noticed the street names?” He pointed at one, multisyllabic, a jumble of Ls and Es. “Can you read them?”

She shook her head. They had been driving non-stop since Calais. The traffic signs after the border into Germany had become a strident Teutonic yellow. Here the street names were in white, more like British ones, but they were unpronounceable.

Gary crawled along at 20 mph and seemed unfazed by the need to slalom his way around parked cars, playing children, and speed bumps. She glanced at his profile – round cheekbones, smooth jaw, patient eyes. Who would have thought affability could be so magnetic? Her stomach settled.

***

Many thanks Rachel. Great interview and wonderful extract.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


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