Tag Archives: Crime

Frances Brody: Death of an Avid Reader (Review/ Blog Tour)

Frances Brody's picture

Frances Brody

aka Frances McNeil

Frances Brody has written three novels set in 1920s Yorkshire,featuring Kate Shackleton, First World War widow turned sleuth. (‘An excellent heroine’, Ann Granger.) The third book will be published in September 2011 (hardback) and March 2012 (paperback).

Before turning to crime, Frances wrote for radio, television and theatre, and was nominated for a Time Out Award. She published four sagas, winning the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award in 2006.

Book Description

dOaAR

A lady with a secret
Kate Shackleton’s sterling reputation for courageous sleuthing attracts the attention of the venerable Lady Coulton. Hidden in her past is a daughter, born out of wedlock and given up to a different family. Now, Lady Coulton is determined to find her and puts Kate on the case.

A mysterious killing in the library’s basement
But as Kate delves deeper into Lady Coulton’s past, she soon finds herself thrust into a scandal much closer to home. When the body of the respected Horatio Potter is found in the Leeds Library basement, the quiet literary community is suddenly turned upside down with suspicions, accusations and – much to Kate’s surprise – the appearance of a particularly intelligent Capuchin monkey!

The most puzzling case in Kate’s sleuthing history yet
Convinced an innocent man has been blamed, Kate sets out to discover the truth. Who would want Dr Potter dead? Does Lady Coulton’s missing daughter hold a vital clue? As the stories start to emerge in the seemingly quiet Leeds library, Kate is learning fast that this time, she can’t judge a book by its cover . . .

Review

2014 is the year I promised I would step out of my comfort zone, to read other genres and stretch my breadth of reading material. Death of an Avid reader is just such a departure, while it retains it toe in history being set in the 1920’s , this is yesterday in comparison to the ancient historical fiction i normally read. This book is predominately a “Cosy mystery” apparently a new sub genre of the crime market…who knew..i sure didn’t.  If im 100% honest it took me a little to settle with, because my man brain was looking for the swords, the battle the buzz of death and mayhem (im a simple chap with simple needs). But soon the very skilful writing of the author subdued me, and it was exactly what the sub genre states, a nice well written cosy story, something IMHO perfect for a wet raining sunday under the blanket with the fire on. Lovely characters, excellently portrayed and described settings, with that legitimate 20’s feel to the whole story, the author feels like she lived in the period when she wrote it (at least mentally…unless she has a tardis she has not mentioned?)

If you have not read any of the other books in the Kate Shackleton series, fear not, this was my first and it didn’t seem to make any difference, there were no trips of memory or references back to previous books. Would i read another?… TBH.. probably not, i made the journey, i enjoyed the stay, but im bound for new places and new reads. I do recommend this for the coming cold days, i think many will enjoy the gentle mystery and trip back to the majestic 20’s.

(Parm)

Series

 

Kate Shackleton
1. Dying in the Wool (2009)
2. A Medal For Murder (2010)
3. Murder in the Afternoon (2011)
4. A Woman Unknown (2012)
5. Murder on a Summer’s Day (2013)
6. Death of an Avid Reader (2014)
Dying in the WoolA Medal For MurderMurder in the AfternoonA Woman UnknownMurder on a Summer's DayDeath of an Avid Reader

Frances McNeil Novels

The Sisters on Bread Street (2003)
Somewhere Behind the Morning (2005)
Sixpence In Her Shoe (2006)
Sisters of Fortune (2007)
The Sisters on Bread StreetSomewhere Behind the MorningSixpence In Her ShoeSisters of Fortune

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction

Alex Connor: The Bosch Deception (Review)

Alex Connor

Alex C

UK

Alex Connor is also known as Alexandra Connor and she has written a number of historical novels. This is her first crime thriller. She is an artist, and has worked in the art world for many years. Alex is also a motivational speaker and is regularly featured on television and BBC radio. She lives in Sussex.

Description

Buy from Amazon

Bosch D

A TRUTH CONCEALED. Brabant, 1473. A clandestine brotherhood hides a secret that could bring down the Catholic Church. Their chosen hiding place – the art of Hieronymus Bosch. A TERRIBLE CONSPIRACY. London, 2014. An excommunicated priest approaches both the Church and the art world, claiming to possess an artefact that will destroy their reputations. A TICKING CLOCK. This man, Nicholas Laverne, is poised to end over 500 years of silence and injustice. Yet, unknown to Nicholas, he has just summoned a killer intent on silencing him.

Review

After the high that was the Caravaggio Conspiracy i had some very high expectations for this new book, possibly too high. The story as ever with an Alex Connor book is a little dark, very twisty and packed full of unexpected surprises. What i felt it lacked was a clear central character chasing down the clues, it needed Gil Eckhart. Don’t get me wrong it has characters that peck away at the clues, who try to unravel the plot, who search for the meaning and the answer, but me personally i like to have that single character pulling it together, Nicholas Laverne could not do that because he had another role to fill. It does though still have the great characters that Alex Connor is known for and the powerfully twisting plots she is known for.

A major bonus with this authors crime thrill rides is the education, there are not many thriller writers who leave me feeling i have learned something, before this book i knew nothing about Hieronymus Bosch, the book has led to finding out more, just as the last book led to learning more about Caravaggio. Any books that inspire that response is a winner in my book (pun intended).

As an avid reader of Historical Fiction and Fantasy i always need my secret (or not anymore) pleasure on hand, and that’s a great thriller. Alex Connor as ever falls into that category, based on my rating of the last book this one is a 4/5 but that’s probably because she knocked it out of the park with  The Caravaggio Conspiracy, once again a winner for the author and for Quercus, i look forward to the next book.

(Parm)

Novels
The Rembrandt Secret (2011)
aka The Other Rembrandt
The Hogarth Conspiracy (2011)
aka Legacy of Blood
The Memory of Bones (2012)
Isle of the Dead (2013)
The Caravaggio Conspiracy (2013)
The Bosch Deception (2014)
The Rembrandt SecretThe Hogarth ConspiracyThe Memory of BonesIsle of the DeadThe Caravaggio ConspiracyThe Bosch Deception
Novellas
Unearthing the Bones (2012)
Blood on the Water (2013)
The Forger, the Killer, the Painter and the Whore (2013)
The Garden of Unearthly Delights (2014)
Unearthing the BonesBlood on the WaterThe Forger, the Killer, the Painter and the WhoreThe Garden of Unearthly Delights

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Alex Connor, Crime, Historical Fiction

C C Humphreys: Plague (Review)

C C Humphreys

CC H

aka Chris Humphreys

Author Bio (and web site)

Book Description

Buy from Amazon

Buy from WH Smiths

Buy from Waterstones

Plague

London, 1665. A serial killer stalks his prey, scalpel in his hand and God’s vengeance in his heart.

Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especially, the theatres, where for the first time women are allowed to perform alongside the men.
But not everyone is swept up in the excitement. Some see this liberated age as the new Babylon, and murder victims pile up in the streets, making no distinction in class between a royalist member of parliament and a Cheapside whore. But they have a few things in common: the victims are found with gemstones in their mouths. And they have not just been murdered; they’ve been . . . sacrificed.
Now, with the plague is returning to the city with full force, attacking indiscriminately . . . and murder has found a new friend.

Review

Plague for me was always going to be a difficult book by this exceptional author. His last title Shakespear’s Rebel was just so amazingly well written, researched and composed, it became my book of the year last year, a book that had more than just writing passion, but I felt a little of the authors soul poured onto the pages. How can you follow that? Can you follow that?

Plague isn’t in the same league as Shakespear’s Rebel, but once again C C Humphreys has served up a real reading treat. The book very patiently paints a vivid and real London of 1665 (the dirt and squalor, but also the families who live there), adding in the authors usual realistic and dramatic main characters, developing the plot introducing each character carefully and fully. Moving carefully from a Highwayman, to a dangerous killer who is every bit as nasty as Jack the ripper, to a thief catcher of one of the boroughs of London. It doesn’t end there, some big great players walk upon this stage, including the King, I really enjoyed seeing the king portrayed in the book, his love of theater giving the impression of a frivolous king, but clearly hidden under that a sharp and keen mind. As ever I enjoyed the introduction of one of the Absolute Clan, the link that ties the authors books together.

Writing a book about the Plague is also a tough ask, its a seriously dark period of time, and a dark subject matter. Chris manages to imbue it with something different, the plague is happening, but it isn’t the key driver for the plot. There is instead a Psychotic and dangerous killer loose in London, a dangerous plot brewing,  families struggling to survive the danger that is daily life, let alone the plague. All of this we see though the eyes of Captain Coke and Pitman the thief and the thief catcher. So while this isn’t a new Shakespeare Rebel, it is a plot with many many levels with characters real, but for me having a hint of the stage about them, not that i mind that, in fact i enjoy it in this author books because its coupled with such vivid portrayal of the time, place and circumstances (the many sub plots).

So as ever I highly recommend this book, this time to fans of Historical Fiction, Crime, and books that are just brilliantly written.

(Parm)

Other Books

Series
French Executioner
1. The French Executioner (2002)
2. Blood Ties (2002)
The French ExecutionerBlood Ties
Jack Absolute
1. Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770s (2003)
2. The Blooding of Jack Absolute (2004)
3. Absolute Honour (2006)
Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770sThe Blooding of Jack AbsoluteAbsolute Honour
Novels
Vlad: The Last Confession (2008)
The Hunt of the Unicorn (2011)
A Place Called Armageddon (2011)
Shakespeare’s Rebel (2013)
Plague (2014)
Vlad: The Last ConfessionThe Hunt of the UnicornA Place Called ArmageddonShakespeare's RebelPlague

2 Comments

Filed under C C Humphreys, Crime, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

James Benmore: Dodger of the Dials (Review)

Author

James-Benmore-colour-smaller-216x300

James Benmore

James Benmore was born in Kent and currently lives in South-East London. He studied literature at the Open University and has since completed an Mst in Creative Writing from Oxford University.

A prolific short story writer, his short fiction has been published in various anthologies, including All These Little Worlds published by The Fiction Desk and The Failed Novelist’s Anthology 2011. These have received positive reviews from magazines such as Cherwell’s.

Dodger of the Dials  is his second novel.

Buy the book

Buy a signed copy

Description

DotD

Two years on from the events of Dodger, Jack Dawkins is back as top-sawyer with his own gang of petty thieves from Seven Dials. But crime in London has become a serious business – and when Jack needs protection he soon finds himself out of his depth and facing the gallows for murder.

Review

2013 saw in my (humble) opinion a very daring debut novel, in the form of James Benmore and Dodger ( Review ) . To take on writing the continuing saga of characters originally penned by Charles Dickens had a confidence that bordered either a deep love of the subject or  insanity. Thankfully it was the former and for me the book was a real triumph.

2014 see’s the next step and probably the hardest one, i have heard from a fair few writers that the second book is the hardest, you need to make sure book one isn’t a flash in the pan, you need to grow as a writer, add everything you have learned and come up with a new interesting, credible second idea/ plot. Did he succeed?

Well given i don’t review books i don’t like, damn right he did! But more than that, he did it in style. Dodger of the Dials blows its predecessor away, it retains the audacity of characters and brings even more of the original cast of Dickens Oliver Twist back to life. More importantly it brings growth to the cast, a development of Jack Dawkins (The artful Dodger) it brings Oliver twist himself back, an older grown up more mature Oliver Twist, the meeting of these two old acquaintances is something to behold, emotive, cathartic and inspired.

There are many parts to this book, the crimes, the underworld, the gangs and their Sawyers (leaders), but the real triumph for me was the time spent in Newgate Prison. You could feel the age of the stone, the despair of the men due to hang, the desperation of the inmates. That tempered with the ever present devil may care always optimistic outlook of Jack gave s conflicting yet perfect synchronicity to the time spent there. I was taken from truly humorous moments to cuffing away a tear for the loss of a brave man (that’s me not giving away the plot) .

How James Benmore has managed to mix Dickensian England  and characters with a modern humour and outlook on the world and retain that feeling of the original is a marvel. I wish him all speed to his pen for book three because i’m already desperate to get my hands on it.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Dodger books

1. Dodger (2013)  Dodger Review
2. Dodger of the Dials (2014)

DodgerDodger of the Dials

 

1 Comment

Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction, James Benmore

Andrew Swanston: The Kings Return (Review + Q&A)

Author

swanston

Andrew read a little law and a lot of sport at Cambridge University, and held various positions in the book trade, including being a director of Waterstone & Co, and chairman of Methven’s plc, before turning to writing. Inspired by a lifelong interest in seventeenth century history, his ‘Thomas Hill’ novels are set during the English Civil Wars, and the early period of the Restoration.

He lives with his wife in Surrey, near to their three children and two grandchildren. His interests include golf, gardening, and drawing.

Author Web site

Product Description

Buy the Book

kings return

Spring, 1661.
   Thomas Hill travels from his home in Romsey to London to attend the coronation of King Charles II. His sister Margaret has died, and both his nieces are now married. At a dinner party after the Coronation, Thomas meets the charming Chandle Stoner, and Sir Joseph Williamson, security advisor to His Majesty, and in charge of the newly restored Post Office. Learning of Thomas’s skill with codes, Williamson asks him to take charge of deciphering coded letters intercepted at the Post Office. Reluctantly, Thomas agrees. A spate of murders takes place in London — including two employees of the Post Office. Thomas finds himself dragged into the search for the murderer — or murderers. It soon becomes apparent that those responsible are closer to Thomas — and his loved ones — than he imagined. But can he ensure they are apprehended for their crimes before it’s too late?

 Set in the aftermath of the Civil War, in a dangerous and deadly London.Like Swanston’s other novels, this too features a combination of fact and fiction. The key context — the Post Office — was indeed a hotbed of spies both for the King and for his enemies.

Author Q&A

PARMENION BOOKS INTERVIEW

What led you to become a writer? I suppose reading led to writing. And from a very young age I filled notebooks with this and that – diaries, stories, half-formed thoughts – so the urge to write must always have been there

Favorite author / Inspiration? Conan Doyle and CS Forester were my first inspirations. I discovered them in the school library and devoured them. I still love Sherlock Holmes and Horatio Hornblower. A little later, PG Wodehouse.

Who do you read for relaxation? A mixed bag. John Gribbin (science), Michael Lewis (finance), Tom Holland and Anthony Beevor (history), Jared Diamond (anthropology) are among my favourites.  All brilliant in their own way.

What was your inspiration for Thomas Hill? Thomas was the product of Thomas Phelippes, who broke the code that proved Mary Queen of Scots was plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth which led to her execution, the Vigenère Cipher and the idea that Civil War Oxford would make a good setting for a story. I wanted an unusual protagonist, not a military man or a politician, but someone dragged unexpectedly into the war.

How long is the series? (Given that Thomas is aging rapidly in the series) Now that Thomas is about to be a husband and father, he will be on paternity leave for a while. If he decides to return, I do have a job for him.

What’s next for Andrew Swanston? (period of history?) I am working on two stories. A murder/mystery set in Cambridge in 1572 and a fictionalised account of the soldier chosen by Wellington as ‘the bravest man at Waterloo’. Hopefully, both will appear next year.

If you could have anyone from history to dinner, who would it be and why? I would invite to dinner the man known as Jesus of Nazareth. I do not believe he was the son of God but am willing to be persuaded.

Your PR person has decided the best way to push the book is to stand you outside Kings cross, you only have a few words to describe the books to passers by before they are gone, so…So how do you sell it? 

I would of course refuse this request, but……….

‘1661. England again has a king but London is a city of spies and malcontents. Murder follows murder. Can scholarly Thomas Hill find the killer and foil a plot that threatens the country?’

Parmenion Books Review

I find myself in a bit of a quandary with writing this review, a review is a very personal thing, and even 15 years on from the early days of reviews i find that i cannot move away from just giving my person insight, whilst tempering it with a hope that each of you will make up your own mind. As it had been some time since I read the last book and there had been many pages and many centuries between the books (From Rome, to modern thrillers) I decided that I would re-read books one and two and then dive straight into book 3, Kings return.

I finished all 3 books off in just over a week which clearly shows that there is something significantly engaging and entertaining in the books, that the characters are there and that they are well rounded and developed. That there has been a large amount of research put into the plot and its delivered in a very engaging style.

But: I found that the stories while well told and complex, felt like they lacked something, lacked those little nuggets of history that delight me (forgive me Andrew if i missed them) EG: in Simon Scarrows Young Bloods series about Wellington and Napoleon there is a wonderful scene where young Napoleon is at school and despite not being one of the “popular “ boys he ends up leading by force of character one of the sides in an all out snowball war. It’s a real nugget of history and its stayed with me for years. This series by Andrew Swanston has some delightful passages and really carries the reader along with the plot. But it feels to hover above history, slightly outside it, offering a birds eye view rather than immersing me in the history. I didn’t feel the heat of the island, I didn’t smell the stink of the sugar (and I live in a town with a Sugar factory so would have found it easy to smell the history), i didn’t feel the grime of old London .  It may well be that reading this just after reading The new God of Vengeance by Giles Kristen isn’t a fair scenario, that book was just stunning and so many authors would pale in comparison. On another day this series may gain a higher rating from me, but i could not escape the feeling of being a voyeur in Mr Hills travails rather than a participant. Please please though read these books, my review comes from my impression at the time of reading and in comparison to some truly remarkable writing. Andrews work is still a delight to read.

 I do truly feel that if you love Civil War history, and you love a puzzle, then try the series. The lead character is a cryptographer and there are many puzzles and turns to hold the attention of the reader. It is a fun and interesting read and has a pace that makes the books fly past.

 Well worth a read

 (Parm)

Thomas Hill Trilogy

1. The King’s Spy (2012)
2. The King’s Exile (2013)
3. The King’s Return (2014)
The King's SpyThe King's ExileThe King's Return
Novellas
Beautiful Star (2014)
Beautiful Star

Leave a comment

Filed under Andrew Swanston, Historical Fiction

Steven A McKay: The Wolf and the Raven (Review)

Author

P1100851x

Biography

My second book, The Wolf and the Raven will be released on April 7th, get your pre-order in now and come meet me at the London Book Fair between April 8-10!I was born in 1977, near Glasgow in Scotland. I live in Old Kilpatrick with my wife and two young children. After obtaining my Bachelor of Arts degree I decided to follow my life-long ambition and write a novel.Historical fiction is my favourite genre, but I also enjoy old science-fiction and some fantasy.

Bernard Cornwell’s King Arthur series was my biggest influence in writing “Wolf’s Head”, but I’ve also really enjoyed recent books by guys like Ben Kane, Glyn Iliffe, Douglas Jackson and Simon Scarrow.

I play lead/acoustic guitars (and occasional bass) in a heavy metal band when we can find the time to meet up.

Wolf-and-Raven-Banner_Facebookbanner

Book Description

In the aftermath of a violent rebellion Robin Hood and his men must fight for survival with an enemy deadlier than any they’ve faced before…

1322. England is in disarray and Sir Guy of Gisbourne, the king’s own bounty hunter, stalks the greenwood, bringing bloody justice to the outlaws and rebels who hide there.
When things begin to go horribly wrong self-pity, grief and despair threaten to overwhelm the young wolf’s head who will need the support of his friends and family now more than ever. But Robin’s friends have troubles of their own and, this time, not all of them will escape with their lives…

Violence, betrayal, brutality and death come to vivid life in The Wolf and the Raven, the brilliant sequel to Amazon’s “War” chart number 1, Wolf’s Head.

w and r cover

Buy the eBook

Review

I’m always intrigued by a series starring Robin Hood, there haven’t been too many worth while series in recent years, but then along came Angus Donald with his brilliant series with the style godfather meets robin hood, i was hooked again. Out of the blue another new name appeared, admittedly self published but for me that’s never an impediment, in fact with some of the latest awesome writers, SJA Turney, Gorden Doherty and now Steven A McKay can really write, easily as well as those historical fiction authors being represented and published by the big mainstream publishing houses.

Steven was kind enough to ask me to beta read this book, which for a frustrated writer like myself is a wonderful insight into the writing process. It also meant much less of a wait between books. Book one saw the building of a new world, a different Robin Hood, a Robin Hood those in Nottinghamshire (where i live) would point and shout thief! As he moves Robin Hood away from the boundaries of his fabled home, north into Yorkshire. He manages to pull this off with some considerable style and makes it believable, which is key to this type of book.

Book two The Wolf and the Raven takes Robin Hoods band of men to the next stage, they are still on the wrong side of the law, but now worse they are on the wrong side of a rebellion, and there is a new name hunting Robin and his men. Guy of Gisbourne, and Guy is not the blonde clumsy wally from the TV series of the 80’s this Guy is a black clad killing machine with a devious scheming mind.

I’m not going to say that this is the complete novel, but it is a great fun read, Its well researched, well thought out and has a really fun interesting plot that carry’s you from first page to last with a fairly rapid pace its well worth paltry £2.26 that is the cover price.

So if you’re looking for something to whisk you back to medieval times for a journey around the woodlands dodging soldiers, living off the land, robbing the rich to live and giving back what you can, some classic Robin Hood mixed with some realistic wolf’s head exploits, then this is a series you need to read.

I feel there is a lot more to come from this series and this writer.

recommended

(Parm)

4 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, Steven A McKay

J.T. Brannan : Extinction (review + Interview)

bg-1-141469

501_499_csupload_43731382

JT Brannan is the Bradford-born author of Extinction, Origin and Stop at Nothing.

Trained as a British Army officer at Sandhurst, before deciding to pursue a writing career, he is a former national Karate champion and doorman.

He now writes full-time, and teaches martial arts in Harrogate, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

He is currently working on his next novel.

324_500_csupload_61809943

 An extraordinary discovery in the Sahara desert will turn history on its head…

A series of unexplained phenomena create shockwaves across the globe – a huge religious statue moves its arm, and there’s a spate of floods and earthquakes. Many think it’s the end of the world…

Investigative journalist Alyssa Durham receives a call from an old friend claiming that these phenomena may not be entirely natural, but when he is assassinated in front of her, she finds herself on the run for her life.

Alyssa teams up with Jack Murray, a scientist from a secretive government research laboratory, to uncover the truth. But who wants them dead, and what are they trying to protect?

As chaos descends, Alyssa and Jack are drawn into a battle against an unknown enemy with the highest possible stakes, because one thing they’ve learnt is that nothing is safe from extinction..

Review

I had high hopes for this book and it didn’t let me down. When I first read the authors debut book Origin I found myself initially a little incredulous at the scope of the book. But then I re-read the book and found myself marvelling at the brass balls of the author, his ambition, drive and imagination to cover so many of the unanswered questions in the world, so many conspiracies under one book cover.

That however gave me a set of expectations for book 2, and initially my first read didn’t deliver that same ballsy scope, but then instead it delivered a quality thriller, and built to a world defining action packed book. One with great characters, ambitious global implications, high octane action and some very tight sparse fast paced writing.

As per book one JT Brannan keeps the reader guessing throughout the book, the edge of the seat action means that the book can easily be a single sitting read, 400 pages goes so fast. Its a real testament to the writing style, skill and the plot of the book.

I’m not going to explore the plot its self, the product description gives enough flavour, anymore is too open to spoilers. Suffice to say, nothing is as it seems, big brother is watching you, and nothing is to crazy and idea, it may just be true.

(Parm)

Q&A

Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions:

1: Book 1, what gave you the inspiration for such an insanely ambitious plot?

My agent asked me to come up with a high-concept thriller, and I remembered a story my wife and I had discussed one evening. We had been talking about advances in science, and wondering what effects this might have on a future society. How long could people live, after embracing genetic engineering, advanced medicine and nanotechnology? We decided that the most likely scenario would be that the rich – those who could afford it – would be the major beneficiaries, which might polarise society even more than it is today. What would result from such conflict? This discussion led me to develop a story which explored these ideas, but it was very much in the science fiction genre, and so the idea was shelved. But when my agent asked me for a unique, high-concept idea, I went back to this story and decided to twist it around and use it as the background for a contemporary action thriller. I’ve also always been interested in conspiracy theories, and I thought it might be fun to see if I could find links between any, in order to come up with a unique, all-encompassing conspiracy that could help to explain everything. Ambitious, as you say, but lots of fun!

2: After the high of book 1, book 2 is always a nail biter (congratulations on pulling it off) Was it hard having to start with new characters?

No, I really enjoyed it. It was a chance to explore different people with different ideas. In Extinction, neither Alyssa nor Jack have any sort of combat training, and I thought it would be interesting to see how these ‘non-professionals’ would cope when they’re hurled into a very dangerous environment. There’s a bit more of the ‘everyman’ about them than the characters in my first novel, and I think the result is really exciting. We really don’t know if they’re going to get through it or not.

3: What was the inspiration for book 2?

I’d read about HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) whilst researching Origin, and although it didn’t make an appearance there, I was very interested in what I found out and wanted to use it in another story. Essentially, it is a huge antenna array in the Alaskan wilderness, used to examine the ionosphere for the purposes of research into radio communications, navigation, and so on. But there are some people who claim that it is really intended to be used by the US military as a ‘weather weapon’, an ultimate WMD that can destroy entire countries through deliberately causing natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

I was also reading a lot about Gaia theory, the earth’s ongoing history of mass extinction events, various beliefs in a natural destruction/regeneration cycle and so on.

When I was thinking about my second book for Headline, it occurred to me that these two things put together might make for quite an interesting conflict, and therefore gave me the background to Extinction.

4: Without giving away any plot for book 2, book 3 will require new characters. Have you thought about a series using a repeated character?

Yes I have! My agent and editor have both asked me to explore such a venture, and so I am developing an idea for an ongoing series right now. I can’t say any more about it yet, but watch this space!

5: Will we see any more Mark Cole? (for those who have not read Stop at Nothing, do so its fantastic, the American Bond)

If there is enough interest, I would love to. I already have ideas about other adventures for Mark Cole, so maybe one day!

6: If you had to sell Extinction in your own words…..

Extinction is a fast-paced, exhilarating rollercoaster ride of a thriller, which deals with the most terrifying threat of all – the complete eradication of life as we know it.

7: Do you have your own writing process?

Not really anything laid out in stone, as such. The only thing is that after the concept phase, I like to research everything and plan it all out in meticulous detail, before I write a word of the actual novel itself. As far as the writing goes, I write at whatever time of day I can fit it in, wherever I happen to be. Sometimes I write at the dining table in our conservatory, other times I write in the café at our tennis club, and other times I write on the sofa whilst my daughter watches cartoons next to me. I’ll try and write an average of 1000 words a day, but this can range from absolutely nothing, up to 10,000 words if things are really flowing. I try and be as flexible as possible, which is important with a family. If the sun’s out and it’s a lovely day, we’ll all go out somewhere and I’ll write some other time.

8: Any tips to pass on to an aspiring thriller writer?

I think reading a lot is very important. You have to really love the genre, know it inside and out. I don’t mean you have to know anything about the authors, or remember every name of every character they’ve ever written; it’s more about the feel of the genre, how to get those ‘hooks’ in, how to get a reader to keep reading. Reading thrillers and trying to identify what makes the good ones work so well is a large part of this.

I would also recommend reading works on structuring stories too, as I believe it is vital for novels in the thriller genre to be properly constructed. If you set something up, there has to be a pay-off later in the book for instance. If not, the reader is going to feel cheated in some way. You have to know where the story’s heading, or you won’t be able to layer things in throughout; the ending will just appear out of nowhere, and again the reader might well feel cheated. Story by Robert McKee is good one to start with on this topic. It’s written from a movie screenplay perspective, but the principles hold up just the same for novels.

Another thing is to write. Everything needs to be practised if you want to be good at it, and writing is no exception. There comes a time when all the reading has been done, all the research, all the theory. There’s only one thing left, and that is the actual writing itself!

9: Top 5 favourite books?

Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy, First Blood by David Morrell, Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, and The Running Man by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman.

 10: Book you wish you had written?

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Who wouldn’t want to have invented James Bond?

Leave a comment

Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, J T Brannan, Thrillers