27 August 2016

Q&A INTERVIEW WITH Michael K Foster

Today I would like to welcome  author of The Wharf Butcher, Michael K Foster to my blog page. Michael has kindly offered to take part in my Q&A Interview.....Without further ado here is Mr Michael K Foster

Morning thank you for joining me this morning
Thank you for inviting me, Shell. It is a pleasure to link up with you.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
I was born in Plymouth, England, early enough to remember playing on World War 11 bomb sites. I failed miserably at school, and did not succeed academically until later on in life. I was always good at the practical subjects, but failed miserably at written tests. It was then they discovered I suffered from dyslexia.
After leaving school, I spent the next ten years serving in the British army, which certainly broadened my outlook on life. In 1995 I gained a Master’s Degree at Sunderland University, and set up my own business as an International Business Consultant.
Married, with two grown up children, my home town is Chester-Le-Street, which lies between Newcastle and Durham. It’s a beautiful part of the country, and it’s here where my crime thrillers are based.

When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? And how did you go about it?
Ever since I was a young boy I’d always wanted to be a writer. I felt the need to say something and share it with others. With the help of a brilliant tutor, I began to submit short historical articles to well-known international magazines. Never put off by rejection slips, I got my first big breakthrough in 1992 writing military history articles. This eventually led to several editors giving me a regular slot. It was during this period that I wrote my first book for Pen & Sword.
I’d always thought about writing a crime thriller, but finding the time and self-belief were the problems. It was not until 2006 that I first put my hand to crime writing. At the time, I was working in the law courts as a magistrate – face to face with real criminals, which included murderers, rapists, terrorists, drug gangs, to name but a few. I learned more about life in those ten years than I would care to write about.

Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
I write about what I know, and what I love; besides, I’m a big fan of crime thrillers. My time in the law courts has taught me many things, above all, there’s a fine divide between right and wrong. Life is full of surprises, and the people who you think butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths always turn out to be the bad guys. Like many crime readers, I’m fascinated about what makes people tick, and what makes them do what they do. I’m lucky I suppose, as I’ve had first-hand experience of what really goes on behind the scenes.  


What is your writing process? And how long does it take?
I do not stick to any strict writing routines, as I never know what is going to happen in my books. I don’t start at the beginning; neither do I work on an ending as a lot of other authors tend to do. I simply expand on an idea never knowing where it will take me. I call it my sculpting process, and just as a sculptor adds and takes away clay from his subject matter, I do the same with my writing.

My first crime novel took me six years to write. It was originally futuristic, but after my agent advised it would best set in the current era and in my own city, it took a further two years to re-write. I guess I was on a learning curve, and developing my writing skills.
Suffering from dyslexia, I find myself having to constantly go back over my work. I’m a very slow reader, and my biggest fight is with the computer spell check. It’s a laborious process, but it does have its advantages I suppose.

Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
I’m a people watcher, Shell. I like to observe how other people fit into our world, and how they react to changing situations in their lives. I’m constantly on the lookout for people on the edge. These are some of the most interesting people I find. I keep journals, and take down copious notes of what I see and hear. That’s how my characters evolve. Let me give you an example of how that works for me.
One of the main protagonists in the current series (DCI Jack Mason) was actually based on a real person. This guy was something of a lost soul, whose past made his job complicated. Divorced, he all too often drank heavily and constantly broke the rules in order to get things done. Not the easiest of persons to get along with, he was inflexible, single-minded and had a tendency to rub people up the wrong way. The more I think about it, I couldn’t have created a better character had I tried. I can still picture him now. He was a nastiest piece of work I’ve ever come across, but please don’t ask me his name!


Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?

No, and if ever I did, the book would probably be taken off the shelf.


What research do you do?

You can never do enough research in my opinion. The closer to the facts you are as a crime writer; the less likely you are open to the critics. I’m currently working on my third novel, whilst jotting down ideas and researching book 4 in the series. I have professional people I can call on for help. From SOC photographers, paramedics, barristers, even reformed petty criminals.

The question I’ve often ask myself is, how do you write about the inside of a coroner’s office if you’ve never been inside of one? You can always read up on it, but how do write about the smells you experience, the personal anxiety, and the not knowing what’s coming next?

Who would you like to co-write with and why?
Like me, Ian Rankin is passionate about the area he lives in and writes about. If ever we were to get together, I guess it would need to include both Edinburgh and Newcastle in the storyline.

What’s your favourite book?
It has to be Mickey Spillane’s fourth novel, One Lonely Night. It was one of the first novels I ever read, and it has stuck with me ever since. It features a private investigator called Mike Hammer who goes for a walk on a rainy night in Manhattan and comes across a terrified woman and her pursuer on a bridge. He kills the man but the woman, terrified, jumps to her death from the bridge. It’s a great storyline, but full of Americanisms.

What’s your favourite food?
I love Greek food, but my favourite food is good old fish and chips with loads of salt and vinegar!!!!

What’s your favourite film?
Harry Brown. Directed by Daniel Barker and starring Michael Caine. Don’t you just love it when the bad guy finally gets his comeuppance!

What’s your favourite song?
I love JJ Cale, and have collected all of his albums over the years. I don’t have a favourite song as such; as it depends on the mood I’m in at the time.

How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
Through my official website: www.mike-foster.me  with links to Goodread, Facebook, YouTube and Amazon of course.
Forums:  Crime Book Club, Crime Fiction Addict, UK Crime Book Club, Durham Writers, to name but a few.
out 20th October

26 August 2016

Angel: A DCI Ryan Mystery by L.J. Ross

Angel: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 4)Angel: A DCI Ryan Mystery by L.J. Ross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After devouring the last two books of this series I swiftly moved on to LJ Ross latest one Angel and yet again sure has hell doesn't disappoint . This series simply gets better and better I cant tell you how much I love this series and Angel is the best one to date even though all four are brilliant.

The Prologue starts off in Easter 1990 off a stunning description of a girl escaping down through a tiny bathroom window and shimming down a drain pipe and falling to her death.Then we fast forward twenty six year later to serial killer! with one eerie description......yet again I was hooked. DCI Ryan is looking forward to spending time with his fiancee over Easter weekend and finds himself called out to out to a crime scene at one of the largest cemeteries in Newcastle. The body of a redheaded woman has been found buried in a shallow grave and the killer has given her wings, like an angel. Panic spreads like wildfire with bodies appearing in the cemetery. And DCI Ryan must find the killer before he strikes again.

With one tense start I just couldn't put this book down and devoured it in one afternoon. This is a page-turner and a half. Like all of the Ryan Mystery books the authors writing is very atmospheric but I found this one more dark and gritty. LJ Ross has certainly upped her game with this very well crafted story.

And yet again I found this what I call an easy read and keeps you guessing until the end And wow what an ending I seriously cant wait for the next installment. This can be read has a standalone but I would recommend reading has a series.....its a fabulous one not to read.

Would love to see this has a TV drama its just brilliant. LJ Ross has certainly hit my favourite author list along with this book being on the list for my top reads for 2016.

If you haven't tried any this authors books you definitely wont be disappointed. I highly recommend this book giving it a very well deserved 5 stars.

Thank you to LJ Ross for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.





View all my reviews

25 August 2016

DCI RYAN MYSTERIES by LJ ROSS

Holy Island (DCI Ryan Mysteries #1)

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.


When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation.


Sycamore Gap: A DCI Ryan Mystery (DCI Ryan Mysteries #2)

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan believes he has put his turbulent history behind him. Then, in the early hours of the summer solstice, the skeleton of a young woman is found inside the Roman Wall at Sycamore Gap. She has lain undiscovered for ten years and it is Ryan's job to piece together her past.


Enquiry lines cross and merge as Ryan is forced to face his own demons and enter into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who seems unstoppable.


Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular scenery of Hadrian's Wall country in Northumberland.


Heavenfield (DCI Ryan Mysteries #3)

When a man is found dead at the remote church of Heavenfield, DCI Ryan is the only other person for miles around. The police have no weapon, no motive and no other suspects.


Already suspended from Northumbria CID, Ryan must fight to clear his name. But soon, more than his career is at stake when prominent members of the mysterious ‘Circle’ begin to die. Somebody wants Ryan’s name to be next on the coroner’s list and to survive he must unmask the devil who walks among them – before it is too late.


Unfortunately for Ryan, the devil looks just like everybody else…


Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit from LJ Ross, set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.


My thoughts

For those of you that have been wondering why I have been quiet on social media recently, Is because I have been devouring my way through this flawless series of books.Having read Holy Island and hearing that LJ Ross has a fourth book coming out, I felt it was time to play catch up having heard so many rave reviews. And OMG what a series this is, I have read them more or less back to back. And thought it would be easier to write one review for the first three books.

What can I say but this series is simply unputdownable. To say I liked it, is an understatement. I absolutely flipping loved it. DI Ryan is one cracking series to say the least and will have you hooked from start to finish.

Holy Island starts off with off with gruesome murder.Sycamore Gap starts off with a skeleton of human remains being found and Heavenfield starts off with a man found dead in a church.Exciting or what?!  Detective Chief inspector Ryan is on the case to solve each mystery. Although in Heavenfield Ryan ends up a suspect….. Oh and what a brilliant character he is. I am starting to get a character crush with him that's how likeable and believable he is. His character grows stronger throughout each book, has we get  know him more.

The series is set in Northumberland and after reading it I would love to visit there one day. I felt like I was actually there in the story. There are plenty of twists and turns in this series keeping you guessing until the end. I love the author's style of writing with descriptions that are very atmospheric and I found them an easy read.

LJ Ross certainly knows how to write a good story, what can I say but this series is spot on which I highly recommend and you won't be disappointed from stunning book covers to captivating plots. These can be read as a standalone but it is to good a series not to be missed.

It's a massive well deserved 5 stars from me, I cannot wait to read more by this author

19 August 2016

Q&A INTERVIEW WITH KAREN LONG

I am delighted that Karen Long to my blog today. Author of The Eleanor Raven Series, which I loved and gave 5 stars to. Has dropped by my blog to take part in my Q&A interview….. So without further ado I would like to welcome Karen Long



Morning thank you for joining me this morning
Thank you for inviting me

Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
I’m in my fifties and love running and travel. I’m a vegetarian and wildlife enthusiast, with a particular obsession for all things feathered. Originally a Black Country girl, I’ve spent my adult life in rural Shropshire, where I still live with too many dogs and my daughters.

When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
I think I’ve always wanted to write professionally but had the opportunity to give up full time teaching in 2001 and concentrate on writing. I began by writing screenplays and some television before starting on my first novel, which was aimed at the YA readership. Having managed to write an entire novel I focussed on my genre and began.

Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
I write crime fiction and, if I was to indicate a readership, I’d suggest the Mo Hayder/Thomas Harris audience would be the most likely to appreciate my style of writing. I focus on character, procedure, accurate forensics and criminal psychology.

What is your writing process? and how long does it take?
I am glacially slow. My word count is abysmal, despite my best intentions. Easily distracted and reluctant to commit, every page is like pulling teeth. However, I do make every effort to get domestic tasks finished in the morning, so I can settle at my desk/conservatory/bed and get on.

Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
They are fictional but each has a flavour of an actor or an acquaintance. Even if it’s just an eye roll!

Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?
Well, I write about kidnappings, BDSM and plastination, so I’d have to say not really. However, I have visited TS clubs, witnessed post mortems, seen plastinated bodies and handled weapons and live ammunition.

What research do you do?
If I can’t arrange to experience something first hand, I will visit museums, watch documentaries, speak to experts and read everything I can on the subject. If I don’t do that, I’m writing science fiction, not crime fiction.

Who would you like to co-write with and why?
I’m not sure that I’m really cut out for co-writing. I never discuss plot lines with anyone, while I’m writing, though I’m more than happy to take notes on the second/third draft. I’d love to share ideas with Denis Lehane, who is a phenomenal writer.

What's your favorite book?
I have a great many favourites but if I had to choose one, it would be ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding.

What's your favorite food?
I love Mexican food. Anything with mushrooms and vegetables gets my vote.

What's your favorite film?
‘Seven’ by David Fincher. It’s very dark.

What's your favorite song?
I’m not a big music fan. Song and tunes slip in and out of my life and, once gone, I rarely revisit. However, I will say that ‘Jerusalem’ can still lift my heart and bring a tear to my eye.

How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
I have an Author’s page on Amazon, where you can buy The Safe Word and The Vault and several media pages.

Website:         KarenLongWriter.com
Twitter:           KarenLongWriter
Facebook:      Karen Long
Pinterest:       The Safe Word/The Vault
Good Reads: Karen Long




17 August 2016

JAMMED UP by Steven Hayward

Jammed Up by Steven Hayward
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

First things first, I am loving the new cover. Jammed up is a prequel to Mickey Take, so for those of you who have read Mickey Take will get to meet Herbert Long again. A character I wanted to know more about so I couldn't wait to get stuck into this story.And once again Steven Hayward certainly doesn't disappoint. I absolutely loved it.

So in this story we meet rude-boy Jam, its been ten long years and he has been working his way through a list of men who tormented his best friend Jabba. Taking a job with Herbert Long which he knows something is quite right. And little does he know what he is getting Jabba and himself into.
DI Terence Pinner needs to settle a debt with London gangster Raymond Riggs, but with so many people involved things could get messy quickly.

WOW what a series this is turning out to be! I found this one a quick and easy read that I simply couldn't put down. Even though it is a novella it is 200 pages long, so you get plenty of story and insight to the characters.

I enjoyed getting to know Herbert more, after reading Mickey Take I felt there was plenty more to know about him and there truly is. Being from the Black Country we don't exactly talk proper English LOL so for me I found the street dialogue easy to follow.

Jammed up can be read has a series of a standalone. If gangster genre is your cup of tea then I highly recommend this giving it 4.5 stars.

Thank you to Steven Hayward for a copy in exchange for a honest review.



View all my reviews

15 August 2016

Dark Necessities by Robin Roughley

Dark Necessities (DS Lasser series Book 12)Dark Necessities by Robin Roughley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OK so I'm finally jumping on the Robin Roughley band wagon, its only taken me twelve books! Well what can I say but OMG can this guy write a book story. In fact he is better than good. Robin is definefly a very talented writer, who knows how to draw the reader in straight from the start. Keeping you captive until the end

This exciting story starts off were we meet Chaz Finch and his brother Ronan, who are driving a stolen car (well Chaz is, Ronan is the passenger drinking white lightening!) Then Chaz ends up dropping a stone from a motorway way bridge....which sparks off a whole chain of events. While Lasser is having problems of his own he knows Plymouth is on the warpath and those responsible will suffer. Then there is abuser Paul Conroy and Lasser knows he has to catch him before he finds his next victim. As the stakes grow ever higher Lasser finds himself trapped in a maelstrom of murder and violence as the clock ticks away the seconds towards the ultimate confrontation.

The story is built up with lots of short chapters leaving me with anticipation and racing on to the next chapter to find out whats going to happen. I love the fact that the author just gets on and tells the story without to much description of the scenery for example a Tesco car park, we all know what one of those looks like.

This is a story about two families at war which has the gangland genre about it. And not forgetting the gruesome parts that made me cringe, very graphic I have to say. But also a sensitive story. I cannot begin to describe how well crafted this story is. But what can I say this book is freaking amazing I bloody loved it. And will be playing catch up reading all of the books in this series. The characters are brilliant and after reading so many rave reviews I am very pleased that I have finally met DS Lasser and Plymouth. If your looking for a new series to read I would certainly give this one a try.

Dark Necessities is one hell of a page turner which I highly recommend giving it 5 massive stars.

Thank you to the author for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.







View all my reviews

12 August 2016

Q&A Interview with Jean Harrod

Today I am delighted that Jean Harrod author of the Diplomatic Crime Series, which include Deadly Deceit being the lastest novel and in the series. Which I highly recommend giving it 5 stars. Has dropped by my blog to take part in my Q&A interview….. So without further ado I would like to welcome Jean Harrod.

Morning thank you for joining me this morning
Morning, Shell. I’m really happy to be here. Thanks for the invitation.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
I was brought up in north west London, not far from Heathrow. As a little girl, I used to stand in the garden watching the planes circling as they waited to land. So exciting. I dreamt of being on those planes and travelling the world. Back then, I wanted to be an air hostess. That was the only way I could think of getting on those planes. But when a Personnel Officer from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office visited our College to talk to us about all the embassies and consulates we could work in around the world, it was like a light bulb moment for me. As soon as I could, I applied to join. Much to my surprise, I was accepted, and spent over 25 years living and working overseas as a British diplomat.

When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
From childhood, I have always loved books, especially adventure books. I have always wanted to write, and always have. In my work, I spent my time writing reports, briefings, press releases and masses of factual info about other countries. That was often my job, to report to London on the politics, economics, trade, investment and social issues of the country I was living and working in. In my spare time, I wrote several plays, sketches, revues and short stories. With such a busy job, I didn’t have the space in my head to write novels. However, as soon as I left the Foreign Office, I started writing them.

Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
I am writing a series of crime thrillers based on a female diplomat (Jess Turner). Like all diplomats, she goes from country to country as she climbs the career ladder. But she’s like the proverbial bad penny. Whenever she turns up for work at an embassy overseas, murder and mayhem quickly follow.
My first novel, Deadly Diplomacy, is set in Australia, where I worked for nearly six years. The second, Deadly Deceit, is set in the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, where I worked in the Governor’s Office for a couple of years. So I am writing for an audience who love gripping, fast-paced crime thrillers, but with an international backdrop. An audience who like to be out of their comfort zone, and like travelling around other countries.

What is your writing process? and how long does it take?
I set aside two days a week for writing. Some weeks I do more, some less. My first novel took two years to write. My editor made me do lots of re-writing. “Jean,” she would say, “you are writing a crime thriller. We want murder. We want tension. We want conflict. We don’t care what people are eating for breakfast. It’s too slow!”  So I speeded it up, and now it “goes like the clappers”, as someone wrote on an Amazon review.
My second novel, Deadly Deceit, which is just out, I found easier to write. This time, I managed to get the plot and characters out in the first draft, although there was still some re-writing to do. I hope that means I’m becoming a better writer. I’m on book 3, so I’ll soon know!

Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
I’ve met many people, of different nationalities, across the world. But human traits are very similar, whatever the country or culture. My characters are a mix of people I’ve met along the way. Having said that, one of two people might see themselves in my novels.

Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?
My plots and characters are fiction (I’m bound by the Official Secrets Act for life). However, I include a lot of factual information about the countries I set my novels in; and what it was like to live and work as a foreign diplomat in that country. I think I also give readers a snapshot of the internal workings of embassies, government, and international diplomacy.
It was when I was working as the British Consul in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the 90s that the idea of this series of crime thrillers came to me. As Consul, I was responsible for the protection of British citizens in that country. And they got into a lot of difficulty. I was based in the embassy in Jakarta, but I spent my time travelling across this archipelago of 33,000 islands trying to help Brits in trouble. I spent time on murder investigations, and learnt a lot about forensics and pathology. I spent time in the morgue trying to identify bodies from passport photos. I visited Brits in prison, and attended their trials. I dealt with drownings, and deaths from boat, train, car and plane accidents. I spent time on jungle-clad mountains with rescue forces, looking for missing British backpackers; and helping with the release of British hostages during a terrorist kidnapping. So I have a lot of personal experience to bring to my novels.

What research do you do?
I am writing a lot from memory about a country I have lived in.  But it is very important to get everything as factually correct as possible. I try to check everything out, even my memories. Anyway, if I ever tried to take the easy way out and fudge something to save time, my editor picked it up.  So I decided I might as well get it right first time.
For my latest novel, which is set in the Caribbean, the plot took shape while I was working in the Turks and Caicos. We had a problem with sloops coming over from Haiti, packed with illegal migrants. With 8 million Haitians just across the water, and only 50,000 TC Islanders, I wondered back then just how far a country would go to stop migrants overrunning them and destroying their culture and way of life. That’s when the dark plot for Deadly Deceit took shape in my head.
I also had to deal with the aftermath of a sloop sinking where 60 Haitians, mostly women and children, who were in the cargo hold of the sloop, drowned on a stormy night. An absolute tragedy that haunts me still.
For Deadly Deceit, I did more research on voodoo, which was part of the plot.  Voodoo is more of a religion to the Haitians, mostly spiritual and healing. It came with enslaved Africans who were brought to Haiti in the 16th century. Their slavers forced them to convert to Catholicism and banned their tribal practices. But voodoo simply went underground and became a mix of their former tribal practices, and Catholicism (to fool their slavers). Voodoo has its dark arts too, but not quite like we saw in the James Bond movie of poppet dolls and zombies.
 
Who would you like to co-write with and why?
I would love to be one of the authors James Patterson co-writes with. Who wouldn’t? I read somewhere that he likes to see an outline of the novel, and then each chapter in draft. That sounds like a good collaboration.

What's your favorite book?
There are so many, it’s difficult to pick one. When I was a child, I loved the Enid Blyton Famous Five adventures, and then the Mallory Towers series.  As a teenager, I read the classics as school. Didn’t we all? But, alongside them, I was reading all the Agatha Christie novels too. My mother had to get them out of the Library for me, as they thought I was too young. That’s what started my love of the whodunit. I have read masses of crime thrillers. They were the perfect read as I travelled the world.

What's your favorite food?
Chinese.  I have a great collection of recipes, having spent over five years in China in the 1980s - three years in our embassy in Peking, and two years in Shanghai opening a new British Consulate. Fascinating times. (Book 3 is sent in present day London, and in Shanghai in the 80s.) There were no Western restaurants, and no Western food to buy in the shops, when I lived there. So we existed on local Chinese food, which I learnt to cook. I’ve never been so healthy. Honestly!

What's your favorite film?
I would love to see my novels on the screen. Australia is beautifully scenic, as is the Turks and Caicos Islands…
However, back down on earth, both in my job and in my spare time I’ve always been a passionate advocate for British theatre and films. My favourites are: The Railway Children (heartwarming); Zulu (a stunning epic), Don’t Look Now (terrifying); Educating Rita (hilarious); Shakespeare in Love (Tom Stoppard is a great playwright); The Day of the Jackal (great story and thriller).

What's your favorite song?
I haven’t got one, but my favourite artists are Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand, especially when they sing together. As I’ve travelled the world, the Rolling Stones seem to have followed, pitching up in nearly every country to give a concert. What’s Mick Jagger really been up to?  So I have a fond memory of their songs, linked to the countries I’ve lived in, across the decades. I love Andrea Bocelli too.  


How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
My website www.jeanharrod.com has more information about my life and my books. I also give lots of talks, especially across the county of North Yorkshire, where I live. So I may pitch up at a local Literary Festival, Library, or Town Hall near you sometime soon.
Thank you so much for joining me today Jean I wish you all the luck in the world with your books. Which for those of you reading this and would like to take a look at Jean’s books, you can grab on the link below.
Thanks, Shell, for hosting me today. I enjoyed chatting to you.

                                                           Amazon UK