guest author, short story

#ShortStory Time Served by Jaime Raven author of The Rebel. @Sabah_K @AvonBooksUK

 

therebel
The Rebel by Jaime Raven.

Today I have a great short story written by Jaime Raven, author of The Rebel which is published by Avon Books. I love a good short story and I’m sure that you’re going to enjoy this one!

 

Blurb:

Jaime Raven

The Rebel

From the author of The Madam and The Mother comes a gripping new thriller that will have everyone talking!

Sometimes you have to take the law into your own hands…

 DI Laura Jefferson will do whatever it takes to bring down London’s most notorious crime boss. When her team receive a deadly threat – stop their investigation or the police and their families will be targeted – but they aren’t willing to back down…

Then the killings begin.

A new body is turns up every day, and with no leads, Laura knows she has to take action. Her family is innocent and she’ll stop at nothing to protect them.

When someone close to her is hurt, she’ll break every rule in the book to get vengeance.

Short Story:

TIME SERVED

BY JAIME RAVEN

Author of THE REBEL

The day has finally arrived and it’s been a long time coming. Fifteen years, seven months and three weeks to be precise.

But having served my time I’m now going to walk out of those prison gates never to return. Sure, I face an uncertain future, but then so does everyone.

At least I’ll no longer have to endure daily threats and taunts and the endless cycle of violence.

I can still remember that bitterly cold December morning when I arrived. It was such a shock to the system that I didn’t think I’d be able to cope.

There were those awful smells that were impossible to identify and the cacophony of noise that gave me headaches.

I found everything about the place intimidating, especially the cold grey eyes of the man who for no particular reason took and instant dislike to me.

Tommy Butcher had already been banged up for five years of a ten year sentence for armed robbery. And he had a fearsome reputation as an uncompromising thug.

‘So what’s your name then?’ he asked me when I encountered him that first day in the prison canteen.

‘Samuels,’ I told him. ‘John Samuels.’

He gave me that creepy, gold-toothed grin that became so familiar, and said, ‘Well I’m gonna call you redtop on account of your ginger hair.’

Much to my dismay the name stuck.

‘Count yourself lucky,’ Bill Simpson said to me more than once. ‘They call me Homer and I hate it with a vengeance.’

Bill has been my best pal throughout. I’ll miss him, and I know he’ll miss having me around.

‘It’ll be my turn to get out next year,’ he tells me as we have our last conversation in the prison’s high-security wing. ‘And I really can’t wait.’

‘I don’t suppose you’ll be as nervous as I am right now,’ I tell him.

He laughs. ‘Try to relax, mate. You’ll be fine. You’ve so much to look forward to.’

I shrug. ‘It doesn’t seem like it. But then I’ve only got myself to blame. I messed up big time.’

We both fall silent and it gives me time to reflect on my mistakes and how much my life has changed since that day fifteen years, seven months and three weeks ago.

Susan divorced me, my only son got married, his wife gave birth to my grandchild and my ginger hair turned grey.

And so much around me changed as well in that time. Conditions inside the prison deteriorated as a result of overcrowding and underfunding. Violence reached an all-time high, and now it seems like every day is a riot waiting to happen.

I’ve managed to survive, though, despite everything that was thrown at me. And that’s no mean feat.

‘You’re still young enough to make every moment count from now on,’ Bill says, but I find that hard to believe.

And yet I know I’m incredibly lucky to have reached this point. Not everyone who’s in for the long haul comes out relatively unscathed.

Jaime Raven

About The Author:

James_RavenJaime Raven is a full-time author living in Southampton UK. Jaime spends some of his time writing at his second home on Spain’s Costa Calida. He has three daughters. He was born in London and grew up in the gritty streets of Peckham where his family were well known street traders.

 

 

The Rebel by Jaime Raven is out now in the UK and available from Amazon UK, you can pre-order The Rebel from Amazon US now.

 

 

 

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.

blog tours, guest author, guest post, how to

#BlogTour The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd. @AmyLloydWrites #TheInnocentWife @ClareJKelly

Blog Tour (1)

Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd. I haven’t read this book….yet, but I will be doing so. The blurb alone makes me want to read it, let alone all the great reviews the book is getting. Amy has stopped by to tell us about unlikeable narrators and difficult characters. I hope that you enjoy it!

Guest Post:

Unlikeable Narrators and Difficult Characters

Poor Samantha gets a lot of stick for being an unlikeable character. She’s got extremely low self-esteem and makes some terrible choices but this is why I found her so interesting to write. I don’t want characters that do exactly what they’re supposed to, what fun is that?!

When Sam and Carrie first meet in the novel they riff on the idea of what a ‘strong woman’ is. There’s a temptation to make every woman character in your novel a kind of role model, a feminist badass who we can all look up to. Or at least to make them ‘likeable’ (*shudder*), relatable and inoffensive.

I’m here to fly the flag for the deplorables. I say, Let women be awful too! Aren’t we all a little awful sometimes?

Male characters are allowed to be flawed but we hold women in fiction to a different standard. Take, for example, the way Hannibal Lecter was received when Silence of the Lambs was in cinemas. Some audiences applauded each time he appeared on screen. They revelled in his evil; they loved to be afraid of him.

Compare that to reactions to Amy in Gone Girl. I’ve seen her character called misogynistic and misandrist, depending on which Reddit forum you’re looking at. My own reaction to Amy was one of excitement. Finally! I thought, now women can be real villains too. Not an evil stepmother or a Lifetime movie mistress but a bon-a-fide psychopath just out there doing her thing. Progress!

So I was dismayed to see so many think-pieces devoted to analysing how her character reflects on all women. We accept that Hannibal Lecter is an evil character and we celebrate him but we are afraid to do the same for Amy because, as a woman, she is representative of her gender as a whole.

I’ve always found it fun to not like characters in fiction. I like to feel conflicted, frustrated by a protagonist’s flaws and to follow a murderer or a liar down the wrong path. I read so I can live different lives and have alternate experiences, so this was also how I wanted to approach writing.

It would be easy to dismiss Sam as weak or pathetic but she’s more complicated than that. Many people have said that there are moments where they related to her and those moments reminded them of when they were their worst selves.

We meet Samantha at a low point in her life. She is broken after a terrible relationship and she’s taken a huge leap that she’s not entirely confident in and this is what makes her so vulnerable and why she allows herself to be treated so badly by Dennis. This is hard to accept and it should be! We want her to find her strength and stick up for herself but will she? Or is there something more sinister about her motivations…

Blurb:

You love him. You trust him. So why are you so scared?

Her obsession started eighteen years after the first documentary … As the story
unfolded on screen everything else started to fade away. At the heart of it the boy,
too young for the suit he wore in court, blue eyes blinking confused at the camera,
alone and afraid. It hurt her to look at him … barely eighteen years old, alone on
Death Row.
You’re in love with a man who’s serving time for a brutal murder on Florida’s
Death Row. He’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a
frenzy online.
You’re convinced he’s innocent, and you’re determined to prove it. You leave your
old life behind.
Now, you’re married to him. And he’s free, his conviction overturned.
But is he so innocent after all?
How do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?

About the Author:

Amy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan
University. Her writing combines her fascination with true crime and
her passion for fiction. The Innocent Wife is her first novel and was
borne out of a course module in university. She lives in Cardiff with
her partner and two cats.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, guest author, guest post

#blogtour #guestpost Shadows by Paul Finch @paulfinchauthor @harpercollinsuk @Sabah_K

Blog tour banner

Sometimes a book comes along that you really want to read but you know that you will not be able to read it by the date needed. So when that happens if I can I offer to take part in the blog tour with a guest post, Q&A or extract.

So today I have a guest post from Paul Finch whose latest book, Shadows, is out now. I’ve no doubt that it is a great read as Paul Finch is a great author. And for us, he has written a post about a question that he is often asked, what kind of crime fiction he writes. Thanks for stopping by Paul!!

Guest Post:

WHAT KIND OF CRIME FICTION DO YOU WRITE?

 One question I’m often asked is … what kind of crime fiction do I write?

This presupposes that there are lots of different kinds. But while I’m not a big fan of pigeon-holing, I’ve no option but to basically share this viewpoint.

Most genres contain sub-genres. I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to say that. But certainly, where crime fiction is concerned, the lines between them often blur. There are many overlaps. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a few ways to illustrate this point.

For example, take the Village Green murder mystery, which has long been a staple of traditional crime fiction. On this front, one may consider the rules of US mystery writer, SS Van Dine (creator of the ultimate ‘golden age’ blowhard, Philo Vance), wherein …

crimes by house-breakers and bandits are the province of the police department – not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives, and where …

servants – such as butlers, footmen, valets, game-keepers, cooks, and the like – must not be chosen by the author as the culprit … The culprit must be a decidedly worthwhile person,

Such class-based stipulations often meld comfortably with the classic Whodunnit formula, in which the author undertakes to set out a list of viable suspects and the lead detective gradually works his or her way through the entire cast before he or she can name the villain. As I say, this is an age-old system. Crime writers of a certain era loved this. It came natural to many of them to merge it with the quaint traditions of the Village Green. But even today, there are perfect examples. Look no further than successful TV shows like Broadchurch, Grantchester (based on James Runcie’s hit short stories, of course), and Midsomer Murders.

But none of that really applies to me.

I’m certainly not loath to use rural or semi-rural settings. Dead Man Walking (the Lake District) and Hunted (Surrey) should demonstrate this amply. Though I can honestly say that I’ve never consciously done the Whodunnit thing. Okay, it’s always nice to catch your readers unaware if you can; to finally unveil the murderer and leave everyone gasping with shock. But I have never willingly constructed a roll-call of suspects, and provided each one of them, no matter how respectable they may appear on the surface, with a good motive for murder – before working my way through them systematically.

SS Van Dine, real name Willard Huntington Wright, said that the detective novel was ‘a game’.

Erm, no. Not mine.

In fact, it’s rarely the case that I ever build my books around a single murder. Quite often in my Heck novels – which concern the National Crime Group, who have a remit to cover all the police forces of England and Wales – the hero is on the trail of cults, societies and secret groups who are perpetrating repeated heinous crimes, while in the Lucy Clayburn novels, which are set in urban Manchester, the opposition often comes from organised crime. For example, in the new one, SHADOWS, she’s on the trail of a gang of vicious armed robbers, rather than a one-off murderer.

Of course, while this may specifically answer the question what kind of crime fiction do I NOT write, it doesn’t tell you exactly which kind I DO write.

Well, there are other crime sub-genres to consider.

The Police Procedural is another very popular form. And as both my investigative heroes – DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg and DC Lucy Clayburn – are operational police detectives, I think we’re now getting warmer. However, the Police Procedural often relies on an accurate, fact-based portrayal of everyday police protocols. We see the correct ranking structure and legalities, authentic depictions of police station interiors, of shift patterns, of crime scene procedures etc, and now, in the 21st century, the new fangled ultra-sensitivity that police chiefs like to imagine their officers have the time to show in a supposedly more sophisticated age. If all that sounds like a drag in that it means – for both writer and reader alike – wading through a mass of largely irrelevant minutae, I should point out that there is a huge appetite for it. Police Procedural remains as potent a form of crime writing now as it did when Dixon of Dock Green first hit our black and white TV screens.

And anway, just because you’re being factual that doesn’t mean you can’t tell a rattling good story. When I wrote for The Bill in the late 1990s, a TV series which had taken great pains, including the recruitment of senior police advisors, to ensure that it was as authentic as possible, while we writers were often told that facts were good, we were also advised that ultimately, they must not get in the way of a good tale.

The Police Procedural, of course, is a sub-genre much abused by writers, because while TV shows like The Bill may be an exception to the rule, and were admirable for their everyday accuracy, many authors who produce it still find it too much of a distraction to get heavily into the day-to-day detail. And I must confess that I’m increasingly one of these.

I like to be correct in my depiction of modern police-work, but I cut corners and leave out what I consider to be less interesting stuff. I alway say, when challenged on this, that I don’t write police textbooks. I write fiction, and ‘fantasy fiction’ at that, and again, I don’t think this is too controversial a statement. To my delight, a very fine police superintendent once came to my defence on this. When a punter at a literary event commented that depicting ‘fantasy policing’ was irresponsible, the super chipped in with: ‘Well, can anyone tell me where fantasy policing ends and real poilcing starts, because I don’t know and I’ve been in the job 30 years? People get up to all sorts to make this job work. Sometimes, what you call fantasy policing may be closer to the truth than you realise.’

But no, despite all that, I don’t really write Police Procedural any more. At least, not since I left The Bill.

 So, what’s left in crime fiction that could accurately categorise me?

Well, I think we’re getting much closer to the mark if we start looking at the twin schools of Noir and Hard Boiled.

Noir, of course, is another quite specific term. It first emerged in America in the 1940s, as a description of the movie thrillers fashionable in that era. Its main criteria were a melodramatic storyline, usually an urban setting – which invariably would be dark and sinister, hardbitten central characters, and back-stories concerned with corruption, exploitation and organised crime. By definition, the term also applied to the authors who created the moods that these films were trying to capture, the likes of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and Dashiell Hammett.

The style is much aped in modern crime fiction by both writers and movie makers alike, to the extent that we now have the offshoot sub-genre, NeoNoir. This more or less ticks all the original boxes, but gives them a distinctly contemporary spin – and now I think we’re really on home soil. I simply love my dark, shadow-filled cityscapes, and utilise them whenever I can. I also love my tough, cynical, uber-conflicted heroes; both Mark Heckenburg and Lucy Clayburn are children of the industrial north, and they display this in their opinions and attitudes. At the same time, though police officers, they are often at odds with their superiors, Heck because he simply doesn’t rate them, Lucy because her own father is a gangster and through her affiliation with him, she has learned just how inherently corrupt the system can be.

If you add a bit of the Hard Boiled to that, you’re almost completely there.

From the outset, the Hard Boiled sub-genre has sat alongside Noir, presenting us with authentically dangerous criminal worlds that are webs of deceit and viciousness, where cruel and violent thugs invariably work for much smoother criminals higher up the food-chain. This often takes us out of the realms of policework altogether, and presents us with lead characters who are reprehensible antiheroes – men like Jack Carter in Ted Lewis’s seminal Jack’s Return Home, or women like Sara Paretsky’s mean-talking, hard-hitting private eye, VI Warshawksi. These are characters you are asked to root for even though they will quicky resort to the same depths of violence as their opponents in order to mete out their own brand of justice.

Okay, my characters are serving cops, but I think most readers would agree that this could also be a fair description of Mark Heckenburg, and possibly, to a lesser extent, Lucy Clayburn.

Well, we’re basically there now. But I suppose there is one other sub-genre of crime fiction, which, if you added in a small doses to what’s gone before, would be the final piece of the jigsaw where my work is concerned – the Action Thriller.

I’ve always felt it important not to go too overboard on this front; the Arnie and Stallone movies of the 1980s now feel like a glaring anachronism. While they’re great fun, they are essentially an imposition of the Wild West on modern US cities, in which completely lawless lawmen engage with hordes of caricature bad guys. The result is earthquake-inducing car chases and thunderous, balletic gun battles in which thousands of rounds of ammunition are expended, and body-counts soar into the high hundreds. In the light of current tragic events, particularly in the States, I think it would be especially tasteless, not to say irresponsible, to indulge in too much of that. As such, in all my books thus far, there has been an action element – but only that, an element.

I’ve always gone out of my way to make my car chases exciting but realistic, to make my confrontations with violent suspects, even the protracted ones, as non-gratuitous as possible. Whether I’ve succeeded in these ambitions, I suppose that’s up to my readers to decide. Thus far, I’m glad to say, they seem to think it’s okay.

Anyway, there we are. For those who are interested, pick up a copy of SHADOWS (or any of my other books, though SHADOWS is the latest) and you’ll get a whole helping of NeoNoir/Hard Boiled, and a generous – though not too generous – dollop of Action.

Blurb:

shadows

‘A born storyteller.’ PETER JAMES

The SUNDAY TIMES bestseller returns with the second book in the PC Lucy Clayburn series – a must for all fans of Happy Valley and M.J. Arlidge.

 

As a female cop walking the mean streets of Manchester, life can be tough for PC Lucy Clayburn. But when one of the North West’s toughest gangsters is your father, things can be particularly difficult.

When Lucy’s patch is gripped by a spate of murder-robberies, the police are quick to action. Yet when it transpires that the targets are Manchester’s criminal underworld, attitudes change.

Lucy is soon faced with one of the toughest cases of her life – and one which will prove once and for all whether blood really is thicker than water…

About the Author:

paulfinch

Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist, now turned full-time writer. He cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, The Bill, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation and for Dr Who. However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers, crime and horror. His most successful works to date are the six-novel DS Heckenburg crime series, and the new Lucy Clayburn series, the first instalment of which, STALKERS, reached no. 7 in the Sunday Times best-sellers chart.

Paul lives in Lancashire, UK, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry. His blog can be found at at www.paulfinch-writer.blogspot.co.uk, and he can be followed on Twitter as @paulfinchauthor.

Shadows by Paul Finch is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US