blog tours, guest post, how to, writing

#BlogTour My Writing Process by Rachel Amphlett, author of Cradle To Grave. @RachelAmphlett #CradleToGrave @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to welcome Rachel Amphlett too If only I could read faster as part of the blog tour for Cradle To Grave. Rachel has written a piece just for us on her writing process. I found it really interesting to read and I hope you will too.

My writing process

These days I’m a full-time author after years fitting it around first full-time work and then a part-time job, but something that hasn’t changed is that every day, I write.

When I started out, I lived on the northern outskirts of Brisbane, Australia. Our suburb was the last stop on the train line into the city and so every morning, I’d find a seat, open my laptop, and write my word count for the day. By the time the train got into Brisbane half an hour later, I’d typically have 500-750 words. I was usually too tired after a day’s work to write, but I maintained this morning habit every day for three years of my writing life. 

I’ve carried that habit with me since I got made redundant in mid-2017 and being a writer became my full-time role. 

Today, I’ll make a cup of coffee, head up to the spare bedroom that serves as my writing cave, add anything going around in my head to my “to do” list next to my computer so it doesn’t clutter my thoughts, and then settle in to write.

When I first begin a book, I usually have the first scene in my head and a few ideas for other scenes spread throughout the story so I open a new file in Scrivener and start setting out these Chapters. Scrivener is a brilliant app for writing because I can keep all my character profiles, research, location information, and the manuscript all in one place. That way, I’m locked into my story world and not getting distracted by having to open up other documents to find something – or surf the internet!

I write fairly quickly – a first draft typically takes me 8-9 weeks, a bit longer if it’s a standalone novel or the first book in a new series when I’m getting to know new characters and settings. I set a deadline date, tell Scrivener how many words will be in the first draft, and the app spits out a target for the day’s writing. I don’t touch the “to do” list, social media, or emails until I’ve hit that target.

I don’t always hit the target in one go. I’ve been in the habit of working from 8am through to about 9:30am, then take my dog for a walk to blow away the cobwebs and mull over what I’ve written. When we get home, I’ll go back and keep writing until I’ve either hit the target or gone past it. If I’m really flying along in a particular scene, then I won’t stop – I’m not one of those writers who can hit pause and go back to the scene the next day.

Once the first draft is done, I’ll leave it alone for a few days before having a read-through. It takes a few more weeks while my close-knit team of first readers have a look at it before it goes off for edits and a proofread prior to publication.

Of course, while all that’s going on, I’m already writing the next book…

Blurb:

When a faceless body is found floating in the river on a summer’s morning, Detective Kay Hunter and her team are tasked with finding out the man’s identity – and where he came from.

The investigation takes a sinister turn when an abandoned boat is found, covered in blood stains and containing a child’s belongings.

Under mounting pressure from a distraught family and an unforgiving media, the police are in a race against time – but they have no leads, and no motive for the events that have taken place.

Will Kay be able to find a ruthless killer and a missing child before it’s too late?

Cradle to Grave is the eighth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series by USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett, and perfect for fans of Ann Cleeves, Peter James and Stuart MacBride.

The Detective Kay Hunter series:

1. Scared to Death
2. Will to Live
3. One to Watch
4. Hell to Pay
5. Call to Arms
6. Gone to Ground
7. Bridge to Burn
8. Cradle to Grave 

About the Author:

USA Today bestseller Rachel Amphlett writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Kay Hunter British detective series, the Dan Taylor espionage novels, the English Spy Mysteries featuring Eva Delacourt, and a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Rachel is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers as well as her own stores at http://www.rachelamphlett.com. 

You can stay in touch with Rachel via her Reader’s Group by joining at http://www.rachelamphlett.com.

Download the FREE Official Reading Guide and Checklist to Rachel’s books here: https://www.rachelamphlett.com/books/official-reading-guide-and-chechttps://www.rachelamphlett.com/books/official-reading-guide-and-checklist/

Cradle to Grave by Rachel Amphlett is out on October 6th 2019 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, funny, guest post

#BlogTour #GuestPost 10 Things To Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe @BernardOKeeffe1 #RandomThingsTours #backablogger

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for 10 Things To Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe. I have yet to read the book but it sounds great and that’s why I wanted to be part of the tour, even though I didn’t have time to read the book yet. Instead the author has given us a fun list of things about it that will make you laugh.

Guest Post:

  • I am Irish-Italian. This means two things – Catholicism and a huge temper. I don’t often lose my temper but when I do, Vesuvius and Etna spring to mind.
  • My favourite book is ‘Not Now, Bernard’. This is because 
  • It features my name in the title
  • I read it to both my children when they were babies
  • I, like Bernard, feel I am often being ignored
  • It’s about an enormous child-eating monster.
  • I can’t drive. I tried, but it just wasn’t for me. Of the tests I failed, two involved the examiner grabbing the wheel to steer the car away from parked vehicles – in one case this was about ten seconds into the test. 
  • When I was teaching I found my ability to make two sounds very useful. The first was being able to whistle very loudly with my fingers. It’s a skill that’s served me well in all kinds of places (football matches, concerts) but a really loud whistle can have a great effect in the classroom. I can also do a very good impression of a clucking chicken. A well-timed chicken cluck can be both amusing and terrifying. 
  • Before I became a teacher I worked in advertising and was nearly recruited as a spy. Had I become one I already had a name sorted out – agent Double O’Keeffe/ OOKeeffe
  • I am named after a nun. My cat is named after the country singer Emmylou Harris
  • I hated writing school reports. I only ever wrote one I was pleased with. It was about a pupil who hadn’t been doing particularly well. It read – ‘ X has not only taken his foot off the pedal – he has got out of the car and abandoned the vehicle’.
  • I taught the banjo player in ‘Mumford and Sons’, three members of ‘Noah and The Whale’ and two members of ‘Crystal Fighters’
  • I am a huge fan of Leonard Cohen and a QPR season ticket holder – two things which reflect my willingness to look for moments of joy and hope amongst the gloom. One of my favourite Leonard Cohen lines is ‘there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’.
  • One of my most embarrassing moments (up there with my driving tests) was an appearance on a TV quiz show. It was called ‘Masterteam’ and it was on BBC in the late 1980’s hosted by Angela Rippon. The question was ‘Of what was Senator Joseph McCarthy talking when he said ‘it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and  quacks like a duck’. The answer was ‘communist’ but for some reason I pressed the buzzer and said ‘a duck’, Everyone laughed. Angela Rippon laughed. The audience laughed. My team laughed. 

Blurb:

Ruby has had a difficult year to say the least. Just before she started Sixth Form, her father died from a heart attack. In the difficult months that followed Ruby became so depressed that she attempted suicide. She missed a lot of school, but now she’s about to go back and she’s worried. Is she well enough to get through her final year? Will the depression return? Should she apply to university? The night before term begins, Ruby finds something that makes the prospect even more daunting: an envelope addressed to her in her father’s handwriting. Inside is a list: ‘Ten Things I Hope You Do Before You Leave School’. It makes no sense. She can’t understand why he’d want her to do these things, let alone whether she’ll be able to do them. As Ruby navigates her way through UCAS, parties, boyfriends and A-Levels, she decides to give the list her best shot, but her efforts lead her into strange situations and to surprising discoveries. Will Ruby survive her last year at school? Can she do the ten things on The List? Will doing them make any difference?

About The Author:

After graduating from Oxford, Bernard O’Keeffe worked in advertising before training as a teacher. He taught for many years, first in a North London comprehensive, then at Radley College, where he was Head of English, and most recently at St Paul’s School in London, where he was Head of Sixth Form. 

He has reviewed fiction for Literary Review and The Oxford Times and, as an editor of The English Review, has written over a hundred articles for A Level students on subjects ranging from Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle to Jane Austen and Shakespeare. In 2013 he published his first novel, ‘No Regrets’.

Website: http://www.bernardokeeffe.com/

Twitter : @BernardOKeeffe1

Things To Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe is available from Amazon UK.

blog tours, guest post

#BlogTour #guestpost Signs in the Rearview Mirror by Kelly Smith. @kellys_author #toxicrelationships

Signs in the Rearview Mirror

Ok, I have to hold my hands up and admit that this post should have gone live yesterday but it didn’t. I am very sorry for that and have many excuses (and pretty good ones at that I think) but I won’t bore you with them now. This is the worst part of blogging, the times when my flawed humaness gets in the way. I’m especially annoyed as I really support this book and what it is about. So sorry to Rachel who organised the tour but especially to the author, Kelly Smith.

Guest Post:

Dating after a toxic relationship can be difficult. Dating after any relationship ends can be difficult, but it’s even harder after you have been abused. In my book Signs in the Rearview Mirror, I talk about my toxic abusive relationship with my ex Gabe, but I also write about my toxic mother and the relationship I had with myself that was extremely toxic. In order for me to be ready to even think about dating again, I had to heal. I had to learn why I was abusive to my ex husband and why I would allow myself to be in an abusive relationship.

After getting out of my toxic relationship, I got help. I began a recovery program and I began to see my therapist a few times a week at first. I had a lot of healing and self exploring to do. I have learned that it’s best to not date while in recovery, but of course I had to learn that the hard way, by doing it. While I was in recovery I felt being single meant you were unlovable. So I tried time after time to force myself to get into a relationship. It didn’t work. The only thing I got from it was bad first dates and good lessons. Now I will share some of my lessons with you.

Dating before you are ready can affect you and the person you are dating. If you have not had a t least one year to go through the motions of your “firsts” you will have a bad time dating. Trying to get through toxic damage while trying to build something with someone is my version of hell. It is near impossible to know if you are with someone because you want to be or because you don’t want to be alone. Take the time to heal before you date again. How do you know you’re ready to date???

  • Time. How much time has passed since you left your previous relationship? Less than one year may not cut it. You can’t speed up the recovery process. You owe it to yourself to find real happiness with someone and you won’t be able to do that if you rush into something too soon. Spend your year of firsts on your own. Your first birthday on your own Christmas, ect. Learn how to be alone and to get comfortable with it.
  • Healing. All time does is pass. That’s it. Time fixes nothing. It is what you do with that time that matters. Get into a recovery group. See a therapist. Once you realize you may be in a toxic relationship and you stay, you need to figure out why. Why would you stay with someone treating you poorly. That is what you need to figure out. You have to take responsibility for your choices to stay where someone is abusing you.
  • Happy on your own. When you can laugh, make plans, figure out solutions to your problems on your own, you are probably ready to date. When you are comfortable staying home alone, making your own decisions, and figuring out who you are, that is when you are probably ready to date. You have to get to a place in your life where if you meet someone and it ends your world won’t come crashing down. Once you are comfortable on your own and secure with yourself, you will be unstoppable.
  • Financially responsible. Once you get to a place where you can support yourself, you will no longer accept anything toxic in your life. Once you can pay your bills and support yourself, you will see how quickly you will not waste time with anyone who does not deserve you.

Those are just a few ways to know you may be ready to date again. You also have to listen to your gut. For me it took a few years to really be ready to date. Now that I am ready, I am having fun with it. Of course I am always on the hunt for red flags, but now that I have healed and I am recovering, I can spot them much easier.

Learn to love yourself and always be brave!

Blurb:

What kind of person ends up in a toxic relationship? And why does she stay? This searingly honest novel answers both those questions head-on. Coming out of a failing marriage, Kelly turns to Gabe out of fear of being alone. Her gradual slide into danger is at once terrifying and inevitable, and the steps she takes to get out of it will both inspire and offer hope.

About The Author:

Signs - fullsizeoutput_37aeBoston born and raised, Kelly now makes her home in Austin with her three sons and one amazing Giant Schnauzer Bullseye. Kelly has written for Huffington Post, blogs at Thoughts Becoming Words, and hosts a podcast, Lets Get Wicked Deep.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/kellye95/

https://twitter.com/kellys_author

Signs in the Rearview Mirror by Kelly Smith is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, guest post

#BlogTour #GuestPost Now You See Her by Heidi Perks @arrowpublishing @HeidiPerksBooks #NowYouSeeHer #booksuggestions

Now You See Her Blog Tour Banner.png

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for Now You See Her by Heidi Perks. I really, really want to read this book but I just couldn’t squeeze it in in time for this post, so instead Heidi Perks has written a fabulous guest post about inspiring books that she’s read lately. I’ve read some of them and have to agree that they’re great books so I’m going to add the others to my tbr pile!

Five Books That Have Recently Inspired Me

I’ve always been a prolific reader, something I believe has undoubtedly helped me develop my own writing. I like to know what’s current in my genre – who the bestselling authors are and what topics they are writing about – but I also learn a lot from their style and characterisation.

As a child I devoured Enid Blyton and fell in love with the book, The Last Of The Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Edwards. Having recently read this and The Castle of Adventure to my children I’m certain my love of writing is rooted in my eight-year-old self. In my twenties I was blown away by Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper. This was the type of book I wanted to write too, I realised, though it wouldn’t be for another ten years that I finally started writing seriously.

Since then I read differently. I can still fall deeply into a story but often I find myself wondering about why the author chose certain techniques. Then sometimes I’ll take away something that helps me develop my own writing. Here are five books that have shaped the way I write:

The Dry by Jane Harper. I read this while I was well into round three of edits with my agent, Nelle Andrew. I could see straight away Jane Harper has an incredible skill for writing but what hit me most was her frugality with words. Her story was concise, there were no unnecessary sentences and as soon as I put the book down I went back to the start of mine and began the round of edits again, this time peeling back until I was happy that I was only saying what needed to be said.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Moriarty has a magical way of making her characters leap off the page in all her books. I read Big Little Lies at the point when I started writing Now You See Her and it taught me how effective a well-drawn character can be. Getting to know your own – their reactions and what makes them tick – is paramount. You might want your characters to surprise your reader but it shouldn’t be because they’re inconsistent.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman. If you want to cast one hundred characters in your book and you need each of them to earn their place on the page then this is a book you should read. I have nowhere near as many characters as there are residents of Beartown and I’m pretty sure if I did I wouldn’t be able to write them half as effectively as Backman. But what I took from this book was that you can create an effective picture of every secondary character in as a little as a couple of lines.

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton. I read this a while ago but it has stayed with me ever since. I have no interest in visiting the Alaskan wilderness in the depths of winter but the book was so atmospheric I felt the icy coldness embedding into my bones even though I was reading it in summer.

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon. I love a book with different time frames or points of voice because I find it gives the story more perspective. This is why I decided to use both in Now You See Her. While I flash forward two weeks, in Seddon’s book she flashes back to years before and what she creates so effectively is two more or less standalone stories that are then entwined to create an enthralling book.

Blurb:

Now You See Her Hi-Res Cover ImageCharlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.
Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

Someone is hiding the truth about what really happened to Alice.

About The Author:

20151120_Heidi-Perks_015Heidi Perks was born in 1973. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and two children.
Heidi graduated from Bournemouth University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then enjoyed a career in Marketing before leaving in 2012 to focus on both bringing up her family and writing.
She successfully applied for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course and after that dedicated her time to completing this, her first novel.
She has a huge interest in what makes people tick and loves to write about family relationships, especially where some of the characters are slightly dysfunctional.

Now You See Her by Heidi Parks is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, guest post

#Blog Tour #GuestPost The Bespokist Society Guide to London. #The Bespokist #thebespokistsociety #RandomThingsTours #bookblog

bespokist society

So at first glance The Bespokist Society Guide To London is a great and unique guide book that will show the reader new and interesting places to visit. But dig a little deeper and all isn’t as it seems. Perhaps a look at the logo with the words BS being shouted out loudly from a gramophone, what else does BS stand for? I’ve had a quick look at the book which led to lots of chuckling and a smile on my face, I must have a better read of it soon! Don’t take it all too seriously, but do enjoy it!

Guest Post: How the Bespokist Society saved our family 

by Tanya DeVosser

Picture the scene : a family of three, sitting at home in our living room in Kingston, staring out of the window and wishing there was somewhere we could go. Much to our son Hector’s annoyance, you can’t spend your whole life doing cryptic crosswords!

And then on 1 April 2018 The Bespokist Society Guide to…London was launched and our life has been transformed. We quickly realised that the Bespokist Society wasn’t just publishing a guidebook, it was showcasing a way of life. Suddenly we realised what we have been missing all these years – a genuinely curated book suggesting places in London to eat, drink and even visit!

Part of the problem is that we aren’t like most families. Hector has HAIS (highly advanced intelligence syndrome) and he is constantly challenging us to find new experiences. But here’s the rub – unless they have been specifically curated for him, Hector simply isn’t interested. Which is where The Bespokist Society has been a lifesaver. Without it we would never have gone on an excursion to Fecal Matters in Soho where we had a wonderful, bonding family colonic; and we certainly would have missed the mindblowing Courgette Gala in Hanger Lane.

The Bespokist Society has also been proved invaluable as far as food is concerned. Hector won’t touch the kind of kids menus that feature chicken nuggets or even pasta, mainly because he has unique tastebuds that need almost hourly stimulation. The Bespokist Society is on our wavelength – and showcases destinations like Etrusci where Hector gets to feast on an incredible range of offally cuts like lymph nodes and gizzards to his heart’s content!

Adults aren’t forgotten either. The guide has inspired my husband Matthew to get into the ethically sourced forest meat scene while I’ve been spending more and more time at the Temple of Tao where Peter Vaaaje does extraordinary things with naked limbs.

Most importantly, the guide has inspired us to link up with all manner of likeminded families. We have started to spend a lot of time at The Bespokist Society hub in Norbiton where there’s always something going down – last week there was a Mah Jong tournament for kids and a lovely lady from Croydon turned up selling artisanal tripe buns from Shaanxi province. And over the Summer they’re going to be putting on a festival of mindful winemaking where the UK’s very first cogniscent prosecco is going to be launched. It’s going to be a blast!

Blurb:

The Bespokist Society Gramo+BS 1“Wow!!! A genuinely bespoke city guide!!!” – Tommy Sponge, Chairman, The Bespokist Society

As the first travel book produced by the hugely influential Bespokist Society, this handy guide takes you to a London you’ve never seen: a London of challenging Etruscan restaurants, edgy branding parlours, emoji hotels and hidden Icelandic communities; a London where 8-ply toilet paper is a thing.

On the way, meet an eclectic band of inspiring Londoners – from scriveners to socialites via urban wordsmiths and coffee preachers – and see why London is now the global epicentre of Bespokist consciousness, community and culture.

About The Authors:

This is the information on the Bespokist Society’s website. I have no idea if it is true or not, but I suspect not.

THE BESPOKIST SOCIETY JEZ

Jez Tapano

Born : Easter Island

Lives : Plaistow

Favourite drink : Messy Monk IPA

Favourite food : Heritage carrots

Favourite hangout : Vine n Vinyl of course!

 

 

Nastya Petrov

Born : Vladivostock

Lives : Harrow on the Hill

Favourite drink : Dagenham Gin on the rocks

Favourite food : Rare breed walrus

Favourite hangout : Nina Saviceu gallery

 

 

 

The Bespokist Society Guide To London is out now and available from Amazon UK or direct from their website.

 

 

 

blog tours, guest author, guest post, how to

#BlogTour #Content Tips for writing about the past by Tiit Alexsejev #LBFBALTICS #BALTICBOOKS @midaspr

From today in London there’s a very big event happening for the book world, it’s the London Book Fair. They’re focusing on celebrating literature from the Baltic Countries and I have a guest post by Tiit Aleksejev talking about writing historical fiction. Enjoy!

Baltic Books Blog Tour

Guest Post: Tips for writing about the past – lessons from a historical fiction writer.

Tiit Aleksejev (1968) is historical fiction writer and playwright. He won the European Union Prize for Literature for his novel The Pilgrimage, which accounts the First Crusade. Since April 2016, Aleksejev has also been the chairman of the Estonian Writers´ Union. Estonia and the Baltic Countries are the Market Focus at this year’s The London Book Fair.

Aleksejev provides some tips on approaching the difficult historical subject matter and turning it into accessible fiction.

  • Do your own research into the period you are writing about. Then forget most of what you have learnt, the reader is not interested in your knowledge; but he or she cares about authenticity. Small errors kill the credibility, an accurate detail can be a cornerstone. Check the details but don’t overload your writing with them
  • Read as many resources as you can: chronicles, accounts, battle reports, songs, poems etc. Most will be inclined or distorted, they are written in favour of someone or something. For example the medieval conception of truth and veracity is completely different from ours. But you may find authentic fragments and voices; it is all about voices.
  • We don’t know how the ancients spoke, we know how they wrote, but this writing was done by a limited social group. So, you have to reconstruct – to invent in most cases – spoken language. Avoid anachronistic speech. It was probably not “O thou noble boy, hand me over this golden chalice!”. Distinguish everyday talk and ceremonial talk. Do your characters speak like priests or beggars? Or do they speak like people who surround you? If you are not sure how they really spoke, go for the brevity and laconic dialogues.
  • Find original names for your characters which suddenly sound right to you. Chronicles is a possibility. Or tomb stones if you are not afraid of the dead.
  • Visualize space: a room, a house, a street, a city. You need to see what is in the room. Pieces of furniture may be unaccustomed to us e.g. shelves for the scrolls. Maybe the room is empty. Then you have to see it empty.

The Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – will be the Market Focus for the London Book Fair 2018 (10th – 12th April).

About The Author:

Tiit Aleksejev

Tiit Aleksejev in 2011

Tiit Aleksejev (born 6 July 1968) is an Estonian novelist and playwright.

Aleksejev was born in Kohtla-Järve. He studied history at the University of Tartu, and served as a diplomat in France and Belgium.

His debut novel was a thriller called Valge kuningriik (The White Kingdom, 2006). It won the Betti Alver Prize for best first novel. His second novel was a work of historical fiction, set in the time of the First Crusade. This novel called Palveränd (The Pilgrimage, 2008) won the EU Prize for Literature and was translated into several languages subsequently (e.g. Italian, Hungarian, and Finnish). In 2011, he published a third novel Kindel linn (Stronghold). Palveränd and Kindel linn are the first and second part of what is to become a trilogy.

His first play Leegionärid (Legionaries), about the fallen soldiers of the Estonian Legion, appeared in 2010 and premiered in 2013 in Rakvere. It received the Virumaa Literary Award in 2011. Another historical play, Kuningad(Kings) was published in 2014 and is about the murder of the four Estonian kings during the St. George’s Night Uprising (1343).

Aleksejev lives in Tallinn.

blog tours, guest author, guest post

#BlogTour #Content 88 North by J.F. Kirwan. @kirwanjf @RaRaResources #thriller #spythriller @HQDigitalUK

 88 North Full Banner
Today I am delighted and excited to be part of the blog tour for 88 North by J.F. Kirwan. Readers of my little blog will have seen my reviews for the first two books in this series, 66 Metres and 37 Hours, both of which were very enjoyable, fast-paced, thrilling reads. I agreed to take part in the blog tour for all three of the books without having read any of them, something that is quite a big commitment for any book blogger that is inundated with requests to read and review books. I was relieved when I read the first one and really enjoyed it and when I finished the second one I asked whether I could have a copy of 88 North so that I could also read and review it, along with the guest post that I’d agreed to post. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to fit in reading 88 North yet, but I absolutely and most definitely will. This is a good series!
And I love this guest post where the author talks about his writing and how he gets his ideas. I like it because he is like me and doesn’t plan much, that he knows the beginning and the end but has no idea about the middle, just as I do and it seems that he does his best thinking in the bath, which is almost the same as me, because I hate baths and shower instead. Perhaps I’m not doing it all wrong then?!!

Guest Post:

Writing and Russian Roulette

by J F Kirwan

People always ask me if I know the end of my next book. I always reply yes, because I do, and that I also know the beginning. However, the middle 300 or so pages are a different matter. It’s like being able to see a house on a faraway mountain, but the valley before it is shrouded in mist. As a writer, having promised a book to a deadline, it kind of feels like Russian Roulette, because there’s a chance that the inspiration simply never comes… I believe this tension travels down through my fingertips into my laptop. I also believe it’s essential, at least for me. If I had it all plotted out, I’d get bored and my writing would be flat. Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of writers turn out fab thrillers and plot everything out meticulously beforehand, but it just wouldn’t work for me.

After 66 Metres and 37 hours, which have the same protagonist (Nadia) but are slightly different books in style, I wanted the third one also to be different still. For about a month I was keen to start the next book, but after writing the Prologue I stopped, because I couldn’t see the twists and turns I would need to make this one stand-alone from the others and not simply be ‘more of the same’. Mostly, I couldn’t see the overall arc of the protagonist. If you’ve made it to the end of 37 hours, you pretty much know what Nadia needs to do. But what challenges would she have this time, possibly her last? It had to be something new. Luckily for me, my Sony laptop broke (the keyboard – I get carried away and sometimes I can’t type fast enough) – and I had to wait 10 days for a replacement (a Mac – 10 days? I live in France – just don’t ask).

And then, following in the great footsteps of Archimedes, I was sitting in the bath one evening thinking about nothing in particular, and the plot came to me. Just like that. Like it was hiding in plain sight and I’d missed it all this time. I got out, vaguely dried myself and began scribbling notes. This went on for 10 minutes, then I sat back. It would work. Already the shape of the book started to form, the clouds lifted from the valleys, and I could see the road, the places Nadia would travel, the obstacles in her way, and how it would change her. I didn’t go any further, because I still needed that uncertainty to drive me forward.

I also play Russian Roulette with my characters. Quite a few of them die in my books. One in particular, a real innocent, is someone Nadia saves in 88 North. In the initial draft she lived, and my fellow writers applauded. But the more I thought about it, it lessened the dramatic tension, and I knew Nadia’s nemesis, Salamander, would do everything he could to put Nadia off her game. So I killed the innocent. This led to one of the most dramatic scenes in the book, in Sudan, where Nadia finds out, and goes on a killing spree fuelled by revenge. One reader told me she punched the air while reading that scene. Had I planned it all out, and stuck to the plan, it never would have happened.

The ending was also re-written several times, as was the epilogue. I don’t mean edited, where the basic frame stays the same, I’m talking about major-rewrites here (even if the same characters remain standing at the end). But you can’t rewrite too much. Russian Roulette is a good analogy. Six chambers, one bullet. After three pulls of the trigger, you are really pushing your luck…

Blurb:

88 North

The deadliest kind of assassin is one who is already dying…

As the radiation poisoning that Nadia Laksheva was exposed to in Chernobyl takes hold of her body, she knows she has mere weeks to live. But Salamander, the terrorist who murdered her father and sister has a deadly new plan to ‘make the sky bleed’. Nadia is determined to stop him again, even if it is the last thing she ever does.

The only clue she has are the coordinates 88˚ North, a ridge in the Arctic right above one of the largest oil fields in the world, three thousand metres below the ice. If Salamander takes hold of the oil field, he could change the climate of the whole planet for generations to come…

But can Nadia stop him before her own time runs out?

The gripping third and final novel in J.F. Kirwan’s brilliant spy thriller series. Perfect for fans of Charles Cumming, Mark Dawson and Adam Brookes.

About the Author:

KIRWAN Barry 01 ret 6x8J.F. Kirwan is the author of the Nadia Laksheva thriller series for HarperCollins. Having worked in accident investigation and prevention in nuclear, offshore oil and gas and aviation sectors, he uses his experience of how accidents initially build slowly, then race towards a climax, to plot his novels. An instructor in both scuba diving and martial arts, he travels extensively all over the world, and loves to set his novels in exotic locations. He is also an insomniac who writes in the dead of night. His favourite authors include Lee Child, David Baldacci and Andy McNab.

Website: www.jfkirwan.com 

Blog: www.jfkirwan.com/blog 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kirwanjf/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kirwanjf

88 North by J.F. Kirwan is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.