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.

 

 

 

blog tours, guest post

#BlogTour #Content Dead North by Joel Hames. @joel_hames #DeadNorth @MainsailBooks @annecater

Dead north poster

Sometimes a guest post comes along that draws you in and takes you by surprise. The post that I’m sharing below did that. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as I didn’t know what author Joel Hames was going to be writing about, but I absolutely love the story that he told. Read it, you won’t regret it. I think that this story could be a book in itself.

Guest Post:

Lancashire, and half a world away

Hello @ifonlyread, thank you for hosting me, and hello everyone else, thank you for reading.

What I’m about to share is a true story, and the inspiration for the main sub plot in my latest novel, Dead North. I’ve changed the name of the principal person involved, and altered the locations and the dates, slightly, so as to afford some privacy to those affected. But the heart of it is completely and utterly true.

It was the back end of the millennium. 18 months to go until planes started falling from the sky and the world burned, or so they’d have had us believe. And I was in Patagonia, kicking myself, because if there was one place you’d want to be when the world did burn, it would, as Bruce Chatwin had recognised decades earlier, be Patagonia, and I was 18 months early.

I’d been hiking through South America for six months, prior to starting a career as a lawyer. My wife-to-be had joined me in Argentina, and we’d bussed and hitched our way down through the country, eating steak and learning to tango in Buenos Aires, revelling at the beauty of the Argentine Lake District, watching whales and penguins and elephant seals in Puerto Madryn, until we hit the huge, majestic wilderness of Patagonia.

We’d loaded up for a long hike. Dried food, tiny gas cooker, handy little tent, a lighter that could start a fire in the face of the most relentless Patagonian wind. Less than two hours into that hike, with the wind biting at our faces through alpaca-fleece hats, a van pulled up on the track beside us and asked whether we wanted a lift.

“It’s OK,” we said, eyeing the driver suspiciously. Contrary to everything we’d been told, Argentina had been a wonderfully friendly and safe place for us, so far, but we were on a deserted stretch of road, probably tens of miles from the nearest human being, and it paid to be cautious.

“Are you sure?” His English was good, accented but clear. He looked to be in his early thirties, maybe, tall and lean, ruggedly handsome, as most of the Patagonian men, to my chagrin, seemed to be. “You look like you’re in for a long walk. But with me, you can go much further. And you can enjoy it more, too.”

We laughed and thanked him. “It’s OK,” we said. “We like being outside, not in the van.”

“Not in the van,” he replied, clearly affronted by the suggestion. “We drive to my place. There, we take the horses.”

Our eyes lit up.

Over the next week our unexpected angel, Max, gave us everything he’d said he would and more. On horseback, we trebled the journey we’d been planning by foot, and although our knees might have been sore after eight hours in the saddle, our backs certainly thanked us, with the horses taking the load. We lit fires and feasted on milanesa, on steak and cartons of local red wine, on fish caught in remote icy rivers while we looked on and drank more of that wine. We saw more of Patagonia than we’d believed possible. We retired each night to our own tent while Max insisted on sleeping under the stars. Every morning we strolled down to the nearest river or mountain tarn and took a quick, refreshing dip. We laughed more than we’d laughed in years. And we enjoyed the company of Max, one of the kindest, most open, most charming men I had met in my life.

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Me and my wife-to-be crossing a river on our steeds, Hercules and Sorpresa

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When it was all over we disappeared, down to Tierra del Fuego, where we sat on trains with all the other tourists and admired the landscape and the old colonial vestiges, and missed Max, and on our way back up again we dropped in on him, pitched our tent in his field, and stayed with him for our last few days in Argentina, riding, chatting, drinking wine, drinking maté, the strange, bitter tea the Argentines consume by the gallon through metal straws, feasting, meeting Max’s friends and loving every minute of it. On our last night we sat in the field while he cooked up a giant asado, a barbecue of beef and lamb and sausages, and played with his German Shepherd, who’d accompanied us on our trek and had an unerring ability to find the nearest lake or river. The dog was also called Max – that was the dog’s real name, but I’m not going to change either of their names for this, because whenever I see the word, or hear it, or type it, I’m back there in that field, lying back on the grass laughing about something stupid with strangers-turned-friends as Max-the-owner scratched Max-the-dog behind his ear.

Max-the-dog, and my feet

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And then we went home.

We dropped Max an email when we’d been back a few days. Everyone used Hotmail back then. Even in Patagonia, there were internet cafes, but not in the remote hill-country Max called home. We didn’t expect a reply any time soon, and we didn’t get one.

A few weeks went by. We dropped him another email. Still no reply. I dialled the number we had for him, and it rang and rang until it went silent. No voicemail or answerphone for Max.

A final try, a couple of months after that. By now we were settling into our new lives, gainfully employed, enjoying the fruits of London and our monthly pay checks and although we missed Argentina and Max, we had other things to think about. No answer to the phone call. No reply to the email. We moved on.

I didn’t spare Max much thought for another eighteen years.

When I sat down to write Dead North, I found two of the characters needed a back story. Most characters do. But I was drawn, by these two, to Argentina, to the Lake District, itself a gentler, kinder version of the Patagonian wilderness below. And for everything to come together, I needed Max. I thought it was time to try to get in touch with him again.

Of course, by 2016, we had Google, and finding out about Max was much easier than it had been back in 1998. And what I found was this:

Four weeks after we’d left him, Max had gone missing.

He’d not been seen since.

The police had done what they could, but the area was so vast that searching it properly was impossible. His horses were all present and accounted for. His girlfriend – a stewardess for a local airline, they’d not been together long – had a good alibi, as did everyone else who knew him well enough to be considered a suspect. Not that there was anything to suspect anyone of, really. Max had no enemies, as far as I knew – and the eighteen-year-old police statements to the local newspapers I painstakingly translated from Spanish into English said much the same thing. There was no sign of forced entry to his home. Nothing was missing.

There was something he’d mentioned, once, idly, that didn’t feature in any of the police statements, but he’d kept his distance, he said; it was nothing to do with him. The fact was, he lived in border country. The Andes he rode through split Argentina from Chile, and given the scale of the area and the difficulty of monitoring it, this was profitable territory for smugglers. People brought things over one way and brought other things back home. Max had been asked to help them, in the past. He’d declined.

This was, I was certain, entirely irrelevant. And after all these years, there was little hope that Max could be alive.

But there was nothing to stop me from reviving him.

I hope this doesn’t seem strange or distasteful to you. In both the novel and this account, I’ve changed names and locations. In the short time I knew him, Max was a good friend to me. I can hear him even now, turning a slab of meat on the parilla and laughing at something my wife-to-be had said, turning to her, saying, as he said so often, “that’s another history, eh?”, and knocking back a cup of cheap local wine.

His role in Dead North is small. But brief as it was, Max’s presence in my life looms surprisingly large.

Blurb:

Dead North 3D coverOnce the brightest star in the legal firmament, Sam Williams has hit rock bottom, with barely a client to his name and a short-term cash problem that’s looking longer by the minute. So when he’s summoned to Manchester to help a friend crack a case involving the murder of two unarmed police officers and a suspect who won’t say a word, he jumps at the chance to resurrect his career.

In Manchester he’ll struggle against resentful locals, an enigmatic defence lawyer who thinks he’s stepping on her toes, beatings, corrupt cops and people who’ll do anything to protect their secrets. On its streets, he’ll see people die. But it’s in the hills and valleys further north that Sam will face the biggest challenge of all: learning who he really is and facing down the ghosts of his past.

He’s working someone else’s case and he’s in way over his head. But sometimes you need the wrong man in the right place.

About The Author:

Joel Hames Author PicJoel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist.
After a varied career in London which involved City law firms, a picture frame warehouse, an investment bank and a number of market stalls (he has been known to cry out “Belgian chocolates going cheap over ‘ere” in his sleep), Joel relocated from the Big Smoke to be his own boss. As a result, he now writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family choose to let him).
Joel’s first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015. The novellas Brexecution (written and published in the space of ten days following the UK’s Brexit referendum, with half of the profits going to charity) and Victims were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Joel’s website can be found at http://www.joelhamesauthor.com, where you can find out more about the writer and the books, and sign up to his email newsletter. If you want to know what Joel has planned for the future, what he thinks right now, or just stalk him a little, you can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/joelhamesauthor or Twitter at @joel_hames. Joel has never seen the word “Joel” appear as frequently as it does right here, and wholeheartedly approves.

Dead North by Joel Hames is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, guest post, true crime

#BlogTour End Game by Matt Johnson @Matt_Johnson @OrendaBooks #EndGame

End Game blog poster 2018 1

Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for End Game by Matt Johnson, published by Orenda Books. Matt has written an incredibly powerful account of losing his friend, WPC Yvonne Fletcher. End Game is the final part of the Robert Finlay trilogy.

Losing a friend 

17th April sees the 36th anniversary of one of the worst days I have ever experienced. It is a day when a friend and colleague was shot and killed. Three decades later, despite the identity of the killer being known, he remains a free man.

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On 17th April 1984 I was a 27 year old advanced car driver working in central London on a police traffic car. WPC Yvonne Fletcher was a 25 year old officer on the Vice Squad at West End Central Police Station. My wife of the time served on this same squad. Yvonne was one of her best mates and part of our circle of friends.

Yvonne had been at a house-warming party at my home a few weeks before this fateful day. My lasting memory of her is of seeing her sitting at the bottom of the stairs in my house, looking relaxed and chatting with friends.

At 10.18 am Yvonne was with a small contingent of officers supervising a demonstration outside the Libyan Peoples Bureau in St James Square, London. Her fiancé was among the officers with her. Yvonne had her back to the Bureau.

Without warning, someone in the Libyan bureau fired a Sterling submachine gun into the group of protesters and police officers. Eleven people were hit by bullets, including Yvonne.

WPC_Yvonne_Fletcher_shortly_after_being_shot

Severely injured WPC Yvonne Fletcher being helped by colleagues

An ambulance was quickly sent to the scene and my patrol car was sent to escort the ambulance to the Westminster Hospital.

Anyone who has worked in central London will know just how quickly a major incident can cause the streets to become blocked. Main roads rapidly snarl up and the side streets and rat runs that the taxis and locals use, soon follow. Gridlock is the result.

Getting the ambulance to the hospital proved to be a nightmare. We were forced to drive onto pavements and, on several occasions, we had to get out of the car to get vehicles moved so we could get through. At that time we were aware that the casualty was a police officer, but didn’t know who.

I remember that the ambulance overtook the police car just before we reached the hospital. We had to get out of the car to clear traffic from a junction and the crew seized the opportunity to make progress and get through. When we pulled in behind the ambulance, Yvonne had already been taken into the emergency area. I remember seeing the fantastic efforts and the work that was being put in by the nursing staff to help her. They were fantastic and couldn’t have tried harder.

Yvonne died from her wounds one hour later. She had been shot in the back and abdomen.

After escorting the ambulance, my car was sent to help with the traffic chaos that followed the start of the resulting siege.

I went home that afternoon and switched on the six o’clock news. It was only then that my former wife and I learned that the murdered officer was our friend.

The following day, I was assigned as a driver to the SAS team that had been brought in and stationed at a nearby RAF base. My job was to run the lads around, in short I was a gofer and taxi driver. I made frequent trips to the infamous ‘blue screen’ that was built to block the view into the square and I was present on the night that something amazing happened.

Yvonne’s hat and four other officers’ helmets were left lying in the square during the siege of the embassy. Images of them were shown repeatedly in the British media. They came to represent something quite iconic as a symbol of unarmed police officers who had been attacked so ruthlessly.

yvonne-hat1

What happened was that a PC, acting completely on his own, ran into the square and snatched Yvonne’s hat. There were shouts of ‘get back, get back’ from the firearms officers but the unarmed PC was determined and fast. As he returned to the blue screen, he was bundled away by a senior officer and a firearms officer. I never did find out what happened to the PC but I suspect he got into trouble.

Fact is, what he did was a reckless thing to do. It is quite possible that the hat may have been playing a part in the hostage negotiations that were going on behind the scenes. We will never know. But what I can tell you is how much that PCs actions lifted the spirits of people like me who were sitting watching while the ‘powers that be’ seemed to be doing very little. Grabbing Yvonne’s hat from under the noses of the terrorists stuck two fingers up to them and told them what we thought of them.

To that anonymous PC, I say thanks.

The ‘Peoples Bureau’ was surrounded by armed police for eleven days, in one of the longest police sieges in London’s history. Meanwhile, in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi claimed that the embassy was under attack from British forces, and Libyan soldiers surrounded the British Embassy in Tripoli.

No satisfactory conclusion was reached in the UK, and following the taking of six hostages in Tripoli, the occupiers of the Bureau were allowed to fly out of the UK. The Tripoli hostages were not released for several months, ironically almost on the exact day that the memorial to Yvonne Fletcher was unveiled.

In July 2012 Andrew Gilligan of The Sunday Telegraph received reliable reports that Salah Eddin Khalifa, a pro-Gaddafi student, fired the fatal shot. Unlike a previous suspect named as the killer, Mr Khalifa is known to be alive and may, one day, be arrested. He is currently living in Cairo, a city to which he moved as the Gaddafi regime crumbled.

yvonne-memorial

Yvonne’s death is still the only murder of a British cop on UK soil to remain unsolved.

But, we haven’t forgotten.

Blurb:

Robert Finlay seems to have finally left his SAS past behind him and is settled into his new career as a detective. But when the girlfriend of his former SAS colleague and close friend Kevin Jones is murdered, it’s clear that Finlay’s troubles are far from over. Jones is arrested for the killing, but soon escapes from jail, and Finlay is held responsible for the breakout. Suspended from duty and sure he’s being framed too, our hero teams up with MI5 agent Toni Fellowes to find out who’s behind the conspiracy. Their quest soon reveals a plot that goes to the very heart of the UK’s security services. End Game, the final part in the critically acclaimed Robert Finlay trilogy, sees our hero in an intricately plotted and terrifyingly fast-paced race to uncover the truth and escape those who’d sooner have him dead than be exposed.

About The Author:

Matt Johnson Author PictureMatt Johnson served as a soldier from 1975-78 and Metropolitan Police officer from 1978 -1999.

His debut novel Wicked Game – a crime thriller – was published by Orenda Books in March 2016. The sequel Deadly Game, was published in March 2017, the finale End Game, in March 2018.

 

In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whilst undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism.

Matt was eventually persuaded to give this a go, and one evening, he sat at his computer and started to weave his notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He used his detailed knowledge and recollections to create what has been described by many readers as a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing and terrorism.

I could be argued that Matt Johnson is living proof PTSD is a condition that can be controlled and overcome with the right help and support. He has been described by many fans as an inspiration to fellow sufferers.

Matt is represented by James Wills of Watson Little, Literary Agents and by Kaye Freeman of Andromeda Talent. The former for all literary, audio, tv and film rights; the latter for all public speaking engagements.

End Game by Matt Johnson is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.