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Recent recommended reads

In early March I landed a two book contract with highly acclaimed publisher Bookouture. That my next couple of novels could potentially reach a whole new wave of readers at home and abroad seemed like a dream come true and a real game-changer.

I was and am truly grateful for the opportunity but three months on, I realise just how committed authors signed to large publishers really are. The pressure to deliver to tight deadlines is immense. This isn’t a whinge, more of an epiphany, now that I find myself writing all day and every day; editing one book and writing a second from scratch, in order to meet my new publisher’s deadlines. It’s scary, exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure.

It has also meant a shift in priorities. The house is grubby (and on some days, so am I) and #Lockdown has proved to be a surprising ally, because no social life = no distractions, and so my progress has been better than I’d imagined (fingers crossed – my editor might tell a different story!). God alone knows how authors with full or part-time jobs and/or children manage – hats off to every single one of you.

Sadly, my reading has taken a hit. Fewer novels are landing on my night stand, and those I do pick up are taking much longer to get through – given that I now spend all day in Word-Land, and my eyes and brain are tired and fuzzy by the time I crawl into bed at night.

Regardless, here are some mini-reviews of my recent #Lockdown reads. I loved them all, so thank you to these brilliant authors for keeping me entertained and inspiring me to carry on writing.

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I Am Dust by Louise Beech

Review (Amazon 5 stars)

A new novel by Louise Beech is always an event and I Am Dust proved no exception. This book defies genre and is richer for it. It’s a ghost story, wrapped in a love story, bound up in a tale of ruthless ambition and avarice – all with a liberal sprinkling of magic and stardust. The timeline trips between 2005 and 2019 and I loved the setting: The Dean Wilson Theatre, Hull, which is haunted by the leading lady of its most dazzling production Dust. I instantly warmed to the author’s main protagonist, Chloe. Talented but under confident, a self harmer and unsure of her sexuality until she falls for Jess – the start of a love story that spans decades (and possibly eternity). The supernatural element soon becomes pragmatic and plausible, creating a spiritual backdrop for this wonderful story of unrequited love and ambition. Expect to be moved to tears by the unexpected ending. I loved it. Thank you, Louise Beech, for another beautiful and thought provoking read.

 

All the Rage by Cara Hunter

Review (Amazon 4 stars)

All the Rage is Book Four in the DI Adam Fawley series and having enjoyed the other three, I was keen to keep going. This time, Thames Valley Police, Oxford, are called upon to investigate the brutal attack of a young woman. Sometime later and in the same vicinity, another young woman goes missing and is found dead. Both attacks bear the same hallmarks of an evil predator.

As is Cara Hunter’s signature style, All the Rage is a complex and twisty thriller, which includes red herrings aplenty, a subplot involving a twenty year old case (that has the same MO as the current attacks) also investigated by Fawley and which involved his now pregnant wife, Alex. In addition, we continue to see the growth and development of Fawley’s team. I particularly enjoyed seeing the female officers shine (DCs Somer and Everett share the limelight here) as well as DI Rose Gallagher, on secondment from another force.

Fawley die-hards will love the novel – although for me personally, I preferred others in the series. However any lapse in pace was beautifully rescued by the shocking and satisfying ending.

Clever, accomplished and very real; another triumph for both Cara Hunter and DI Fawley himself.

 

Those People by Louise Candlish

Review (Amazon 4 stars)

Those People is my second visit into Louise Candlish’s intricately constructed world of class and one-upmanship in suburban London. Having spent most of my adult life living in the same streets she so eloquently captures, the characters and locations resonate brilliantly. So too does the minefield of non-conformist (read undesirable) neighbours rocking up to shatter the former middle-class idyll that is Lowland Way, with its cringey cliques and Play Out Sunday scheme. Readers may not warm to the characters, but we recognise them at fifty paces – and it is this familiarity that kept me turning the pages eager to find out what on earth could happen next.

Those People is a witty and satisfying read – although on balance I prefer the stronger plot of Our House – similar and yet more creepy. The key attraction here is that IT COULD HAPPEN. To you.

 

The School Friend by Alison James

Review (Amazon 5 stars)

Two gripping plots interweave in this twisty tale: the doomed friendship of schoolgirl besties Lucy and Adele set in the mid-90s, and the disastrous marriage of Lucinda and Marcus set in the present. A common theme in both timelines is the manipulation of Lucy – first by her pushy, wrong-side-of-the-tracks classmate Adele, and later by her obsessive and coercive husband, distinguished surgeon Marcus Wheedon.

As with most psychological thrillers, at the cornerstone of the plot sits a secret; a reckless act that took place during the girls’ childhood and which later comes back to haunt them.

Meanwhile in wealthy and genteel South West London, Lucy acts out the role of dutiful wife; a flightless bird in a gilded cage – until her life becomes untenable as Marcus, responding to NHS cutbacks becomes ever more erratic and controlling, to the point where the reader fears not just for Lucy’s wellbeing, but for her life.

Realising she is out of her depth, Lucy enlists the help of her old friend Adele and her dubious connections – with radical consequences. It is at this point that the action turns very dark indeed. I enjoyed the author’s smooth writing style – unfussy and with just the right amount of detail – but I predicted the main ‘twist’ ahead of its reveal. However, this did not detract from my overall enjoyment and I’d recommend this book to lovers of domestic suspense.

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Warning, this is a virus free post

Please forgive me, but I’d like to take a few minutes out. Away from the COVID 19 apocalypse we’re all living through and share a secret I’ve been hugging for weeks.

People who follow my blog may have seen a post on January 2nd about second chances. In it, I had voiced my wish for a second chance at being a writer. A month ago, that wish came true when the powerhouse that is UK digital publisher, Bookouture, offered me a two-book contract.

During 2019 I wrote my third book, but significantly, my first thriller. It was a completely different experience to writing the Eden Books – not to mention a steep learning curve.

This time I’d written something diligently plotted, full of twists and turns, rather than a character-led novel like the two I’d already published. It was exciting, frustrating, baffling… and yes, I almost threw in the towel at about the halfway mark. But I finished it and in January, I began the dreaded querying phase; the process of emailing publishers, begging them to read my book.

Fellow writers will empathise with just how exposing – and often withering – this experience is. However needs must, so aiming high, I contacted Bookouture with my manuscript straight after the Christmas holidays.

Imagine my surprise and delight then when I heard from one of its highly regarded Commissioning Editors, Therese Keating, telling me that she’d very much enjoyed reading my novel (which then had a working title of The Godson) and that she was interested in publishing it.

But there was a snag. In order to sign me up, Bookouture needed a second novel; a follow up thriller to secure a two-book deal. Cut to me having a meltdown for several days while I watched my big break disappear round the U-Bend.

Somewhere hidden in the bowels of my laptop was a started novel. Something sinister, twisty – a manuscript I had parked, unsure whether I wanted to go to such a dark place in my soul. I pitched the idea to Bookouture. It had potential. ‘Potential’s good,’ I thought, wondering how on earth I could write a book in half the time my three other novels had taken to complete.

So, without further chapter and verse, a way forward with Book Two was agreed – with huge amounts of creative input from Therese, and for which I’m very grateful.

Today the secret is out. I’m hugely thankful to Bookouture for signing me as an author and can’t wait to share the first thriller with readers in the autumn.

If you’ve read this to the end, thank you for indulging my good news and taking a break from the utter misery elsewhere. Yes, I do feel guilty, sharing a moment of optimism, but throughout this terrifying time, babies will be born, people will fall in love, celebrate anniversaries and birthdays and achieve personal bests. Because even during a state of international emergency, life goes on.

Be safe, be well, and keep turning to books, music and film to escape.

 

In conversation with
author Louise Beech

Louise’s debut novel, How to be Brave, was a Guardian Readers’ pick in 2015 and a top ten bestseller on Amazon. The Mountain in my Shoe longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2016. The Sunday Mirror called Maria in the Moon ‘quirky, darkly comic, original and heartfelt’. It was also a Must Read in the Sunday Express and a Book of the Year at LoveReadingUK. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was described as ‘engrossing and captivating’ by the Daily Express. It also shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year and longlisted for the Polari Prize 2019. Call Me Star Girl hit number one on Kobo. It also longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize and won the Best magazine Big Book Award 2019. I Am Dust is out in ebook now.

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I Am Dust

When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast, in a bewitching, beguiling, moving and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…

‘A delicate supernatural thriller of love, loss, murder and the dangers that come with getting what you wish for. Quite lovely in a dark, dark way’ Sarah Pinborough

‘Ghost story, murder mystery, romance. This mesmerising and entertaining book has it all…’ Emma Curtis

‘Haunting, provocative, and true to Beech’s style: packed with pain and heart’ Jack Jordan
[Source: Amazon]

#Kindle https://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Am-Dust-Louise-Beech-ebook/dp/B07X8SSJV7/

#Pre-order paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Am-Dust-Louise-Beech/dp/1913193217/

 

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BH: Hello Louise. I feel like a gushing fan here, but I can’t tell you how excited I am that you agreed to chat today.

LB: Oh, you are just a joy! I’m excited to chat to you too. Thank you for asking me.

BH: Can we kick off by talking about your sixth novel, I Am Dust, please? The paperback will launch 16th April, and I can’t wait to read it, having absolutely loved Maria in the Moon and Call Me Star Girl. Just reading the blurb and some of the reviews has given me Goosebumps. My impression, Louise, is that your books are very personal and connected to your own experiences. Can you tell us what inspired I Am Dust?

LB: Wow. Goosebumps? What a thrill. Yes, I would love to talk about I Am Dust. And you’re right, my books are always personal. Some real-life event usually inspired a theme or topic. This time it was when I did a Ouija board as a teenager. It was really intense and has haunted me ever since. I thought this kind of experience would be a great backstory for my usher Chloe, who works in a haunted theatre and has just heard that iconic musical Dust is going to be resurrected. I have to add that I wrote this book during a very difficult time – I started it last year just twelve days after my mum jumped off the Humber Bridge. She is recovering now, but writing this novel was my therapy.

BH: What incredible focus you have, to keep writing during such a difficult and traumatic time. In a few words, can you sum up the key themes?

LB: I explore where we go after we die. Whether witchcraft is real, or simply our own inner power. There’s betrayal, revenge, and a tragic love story too.

BH: It sounds incredibly powerful- full of intrigue and dark forces. I am soo looking forward to reading this book! Louise, you’re a huge inspiration to so many writers and very loved among the literary community. Can you think back to your first novel How to be Brave; how long did it take to write and what was your route to getting published?

LB: You’re so kind. I can’t describe how excited I was when How to be Brave was finally bought by Karen Sullivan at Orenda books. I had written four novels and all of them had been rejected over a ten-year period by every single UK publisher and agent – or so it felt! The book itself only took four months to write but then two more years to be published. I did the very unprofessional thing of tweeting Karen, telling her about the book. But she read it and loved it, so my cheek paid off.

BH: In spades! Ha-ha! Do you have any advice for fledgling writers?

LB: Never EVER give up. Simple as that.

BH: Hang on, I’ll just engrave that on my heart…  You’ve been very open about some of your personal struggles; your Mum’s mental health, being a single parent at a tender age (until you met your lovely husband of course). Back then, when life was really challenging, did you dream of being a writer, and do you think those early life experiences helped shape your novels?

LB: Oh, I dreamed of being a writer from the age of eight. I used to tell people at school that one day I’d be a world-famous novelist – haha. Not quite there yet, but never say never. But yes, my early experiences definitely shaped my writing and made me want to tell deep, emotional stories. I’m now writing my own – my memoir. And it has been the hardest but most rewarding so far.

BH: How important is location in your books and what makes Hull such a great backdrop for your writing?

LB: Ah, good old Hull. A great city. Gritty, full of maritime history and earthy people. The River Humber is one of the most dangerous in the world and so has featured in many of my novels. As have houses I lived in as a child, like The Cliff, which is now gone. There’s beauty in the rawness up here, in the biting cold on the docks and the rural landscape.

BH: Okay, a first on my blog: let’s end on a frivolous note with a quick-fire quiz. It’s just for fun so shoot from the hip.

1. Going out, or staying in?   Both, equally.

2. Spring or Autumn?   Autumn – I love the golden colours.

3. Cats or dogs?   Dogs all the way. (I’m a dog in Chinese astrology.)

4. The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?   The Beatles.

5. Dress up or dress down?   Haha – up for out, down for at home.

6. Heels or flats?   Flats. (I’m 5ft9.)

7. The last book you read?   An advance copy of John Marrs’ newest, untitled manuscript.

8. The last movie you saw?   It Chapter Two – loved it.

9. Favourite smell?   Warm bread.

10. Last thing that made you cry?   Everything makes me cry. Adverts, books, films…

BH: Louise, thank you so much for talking today. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better. Good luck with I Am Dust – not that you need it! Watch this space for my forthcoming review.

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Find out more or contact Louise Beech at:
https://louisebeech.co.uk/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Louise-Beech/e/B00XUIX0TW
Twitter @LouiseWriter
Published by http://orendabooks.co.uk/

Just three more of Louise  Beech’s stunning novels…

 

Book Review : What She Did by Alex Kane

Blurb: Beth is running from her past – and her abusive ex-boyfriend. She’s building a new life, but can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her.

Victoria is unhappily married to Greg. She knows he’s cheating, but doesn’t know what to do – until she contacts an old friend, someone who has never let her down.

Lydia knows only she can help Victoria. They haven’t seen each other for years, but she’ll stop at nothing to help her get revenge.
But Lydia has made a new friend in Beth. Now, none of them are safe…

Three women. Three stories. One devastating secret.

Review (Amazon 4 stars)

What She Did centres on three main characters: Victoria, Lydia and Beth, whose stories run parallel, seemingly unconnected at first. Three women linked by one grim thread – abuse at the hands of bullying, feckless and cheating partners. The action spans the recent past and the present, and the chapters are short and snappy, brilliant for reading in bite-sized chunks. Personally, I warmed to Beth’s character more than Vic’s – although all three women were compelling and convincing. I was also intrigued to read a novel set in urban Scotland (a departure from the myriad thrillers set in London). It’s the kind of book you find yourself theorising about as you go along…but the twists were fab and kept me guessing until the bitter end. What She Did is my first read by Alex Kane – I doubt it will be the last. Highly recommended.

Book Review : Hiding in Plain Sight by Eoghan Egan

The Blurb : A vicious serial killer roams the Irish Midlands… with his sights set on the next victim. A successful businessman has found the perfect recipe for getting away with murder. No bodies, no evidence. No evidence, no suspect. High art and low morals collide when graduate Sharona Waters discovers a multi-million euro art scam in play. She delves in, unwittingly putting herself on a direct trajectory with danger as the killer accelerates his murder spree. When Sharona gets drawn into the killer’s orbit, she peels away his public persona and exposes the psychopath underneath. Suddenly, the small town has no hiding place…

Review (Amazon 4 stars)

Set in a close-knit small town in Ireland’s midlands, Hiding in Plain Sight has an intriguing plot, engaging characters and a dark underbelly. A brutal serial killer (‘the art dealer’) stalks the close knit community of Ganestown, looking for his next victim. Meanwhile family life goes on as usual as we are introduced to an extensive cast of characters within or linked to the art world.

With such a large cast, it took me a while to establish everybody, but once I’d done so, my favourite character was Hugh; with an errant girlfriend, a spell of unemployment looming over him, and a mum with advanced Alzheimer’s, he already has enough on his plate without getting sucked into the orbit of serial killers…

A pacey and intricately written thriller.

In conversation with Iain McGeachin

Today I am privileged to introduce Iain McGeachin, better known to his 22,700 Twitter followers as @ataxiascot.

Scotsman, kilt-wearer, campaigner, fundraiser, traveller, Ataxia-sufferer – and let’s not forget, adventurer: Iain’s list of global challenges will leave you breathless.

In recent years, he has walked thousands of miles for charity, raising awareness of the little-known disease Spinocerebellar Ataxia, following his own diagnosis in March 2015.

 

*Photo (left) : Iain McGeachin with STV’s weather presenter Sean Batty 

 

You might think he’d want to take it easy after such a devastating blow -given that ‘Ataxia’ is an umbrella term for a group of progressive neurological disorders that impacts balance, coordination and speech. It affects people in different ways. In Iain’s case, his walking ability has been gradually reduced – to the point where he now relies on wheels. You can read more about Ataxia on Iain’s website at : https://www.ataxia.scot

But has Ataxia slowed him down? Well, not so you’d notice. During the progression of his illness, Iain has clocked up thousands of miles, raising money and awareness for the condition; dozens of routes that kicked off with the London City Bridges Challenge for Ataxia UK in September 2015, (his first kilted-walk) followed by his 50th birthday walk in Hyde Park, and ended with a “stroll” along the French Riviera from Monte Carlo to Cannes; walking (with an ever-increasing reliance on his walking stick) in Paris, Nice, Cannes, Milan, Parma, Pisa, Florence, Ljubljana, Amsterdam, 500 miles along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, a 4-day walk around the coast of Isle of Arran (an island just off Iain’s beloved Scotland), and a walk along the Canal Du Midi in France along the way: this ‘walk’ first signalled the end of Iain’s walking days when he sustained a heavy fall near Toulouse, suffering knee-ligament damage.

*Photo (above) : Iain’s first kilted walk in London

But enough from me. You get the picture; Iain McGeachin is a very busy man who likes a challenge, so let’s find out more in his own words…

*Photo (left) : Iain at another successful fundraising event

 

BH: Iain, you are a total inspiration. Your list of walking challenges reads like an Atlas. Are there are more planned walks in the diary? And by ‘walks’ I include the use of your wheelchair.

I McG: For sure. And like the current “AtaxiaChristmasGiveaway” on Twitter https://twitter.com/ataxiascot/status/1203966168471605248 it will be used to raise funds for FareShare UK. The planned trip will also allow me to complete at least one of the missing stages of my 2013 “Around The World By Train” trip, the journey that I was in the middle of when Ataxia first reared its ugly head.

However, the trip will involve other companies and sponsors, and until plans are more concrete, I am sworn to secrecy!

BH: I know you’re keen to focus on one particular fund raising initiative this month; the awesome #AtaxiaBookFairy project which raises funds for, and awareness of #FareShareUK – a charity focused on reducing food waste and feeding the hungry in the UK. Please, tell us all about it.

I McG: Now that my wheelchair has finally become a reality, physical fundraising for AtaxiaUK and MNDScotland has become increasingly difficult for any prolonged period of time, so I wracked my brains to see if I could come up with a means of fundraising that I could do from the comfort of home. The “#AtaxiaBookFairy” project was the answer.

It enables me to raise awareness of Ataxia, as well as raising funds for FareShare. Everyone knows what a book is; a few people even know what a “book fairy” is, so I’m hoping that people’s natural curiosity makes them find out more about this “Ataxia thing”.

The premise is simple too. Generous writers and publishers donate at least two copies of their books, which I then collate in two separate boxes. One copy I give away in online competitions (which promotes both the book-donor and FareShare); the other copy I give directly to various regional FareShare depots (for distribution to their volunteers). However, both copies are already labelled to encourage the sharing of the book, by leaving it in a public place – and readers are encouraged to do just this.

BH: I’m a keen reader and writer myself, but why books, Iain? How did #AtaxiaBookFairy start?

I McG: I read for the same reason I travel. Education. Now, I read for another (more important?) reason too: To exercise my brain – which is something everyone should do. In the same way that muscles are lost through lack of use (“use it or lose it”), mental exercise improves the health of our brains. And reading encourages us to do just that. We have to use our imagination to “colour in the pictures” ourselves.

BH: I am with you there, Iain – books can capture and open up whole new worlds for readers. Is there anything else you’d like to mention today?

I McG: Only to encourage people to take part in the #AtaxiaChristmasGiveaway on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ataxiascot/status/1203966168471605248

SEVENTY books (many of them signed by the author) are included in prizes worth over £800. The competition is free-to-enter, however, donations to my FareShare Appeal are encouraged.

BH: Thank you, Iain. That’s brilliant, really inspiring. I appreciate you taking the time to chat today, and I wish you every success with the Christmas Giveaways and with your ongoing fundraising.

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To find out more visit https://www.ataxia.scot

Or follow Iain McGeachin on Twitter @ataxiascot

Visit https://fareshare.org.uk

Or follow FareShare on Twitter @FareShareUK

 

Book Review : Don’t Think a Single Thought by Diana Cambridge

The Blurb : 1960s New York, and Emma Bowden seems to have it all – a glamorous Manhattan apartment, a loving husband, and a successful writing career. But while Emma and her husband Jonathan are on vacation at the Hamptons, a child drowns in the sea, and suspicion falls on Emma. As her picture-perfect life spirals out of control, and old wounds resurface, a persistent and monotonous voice in Emma’s head threatens to destroy all that she has worked for… Taut, elegant and mesmerising, Don’t Think a Single Thought lays bare a marriage, and a woman, and examines the decisions – and mistakes – that shape all of our lives.

Diana Cambridge is an award-winning journalist. She has written for many national newspapers and magazines, gives regular writing workshops, and is a Writer-in-Residence at Sherborne, Dorset. She is Agony Aunt to Writing Magazine. She lives in Bath. Don’t Think a Single Thought is her first novel.

Buy it here : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Think-Single-Thought-Diana-Cambridge/dp/199978099X

Review
In Don’t Think a Single Thought, Diana Cambridge serves up a heady Manhattan cocktail of glamour, mystery and intrigue, with a twist of danger on the side.

It’s a character led novel that follows the life of Emma Bowden, who has more than a whiff of Daisy Buchanan about her; beautiful but vain, shallow and utterly self-absorbed, fragile and haunted by the past. I found Emma largely unlikeable yet completely relatable – her depression clinging to her like lint to a dark suit, keeping her mired in a haze of pills and isolation; Emma kept me fascinated from first to last page.

The dark undercurrent to this book – that is, the unexplained deaths of several small children, always in Emma’s orbit – is perfect for the pre-forensics and criminal psychology era in which the book is set. But were all these ‘accidents’ mistakes or murders? The reader must decide.

Don’t Think a Single Thought is a rags-to-riches story, but it’s no fairy tale and don’t expect a happy ending.

I loved this brilliant book : it gets five shiny stars and an unreserved ‘highly recommended’ from me.

 

In conversation with
author Julie Newman

Julie was born in East London but now lives a rural life in North Essex. She is married with two children. Her working life has seen her have a variety of jobs, including running her own publishing company. She is the author of the children’s book Poppy and the Garden Monster. Julie writes endlessly and when not writing she is reading. Other interests include theatre, music and running. Besides her family, the only thing she loves more than books is Bruce Springsteen.

To date, Julie has published two novels with Urbane Publications, The Kindness of Strangers (April, 2018) and Beware the Cuckoo (May, 2017); I caught up with her as she is about to launch her third novel, Cast No Shadow, which publishes on 26th September 2019.

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BH: Julie, welcome, and thank you for making time to talk about life, writing and your books. I recently read your debut, Beware the Cuckoo – and loved it, although it was a tough read in places, given the subject matter and the incredible honesty of your writing. Can you tell me a bit about writing your first novel and your route to getting published, please?

JN: Beware the Cuckoo was a result of a conversation with a friend about Operation Yewtree and subsequent convictions. At the time she was working with some women who had experienced grooming. I spoke to them while writing Cuckoo and it was at their request that the explicit sections were included. They felt, in their words, that ‘the media coverage had desensitised the issue’. When completed I approached some agents but only received rejections, however one of them said my writing was good and suggested I looked at some of the indie publishers who were not so risk averse. One of them was Urbane and Matthew Smith offered me a contract straight away.

BH: Since then of course, you’ve enjoyed success with The Kindness of Strangers – which has excellent reviews – and you’re about to launch Cast No Shadow, your third novel. What can readers expect? Tempt us with the blurb.

JN: Samantha is a journalist who longs to crack the big story that will launch her career. In a search for her ‘big break’ she comes across a little reported story in India of an hotelier – Amit Joshi – accused of rape but exonerated when ‘he’ is revealed as a she.

Samantha believes there is more to the story and begins to investigate, helped by her colleague Gregory, whose brother Simon works for the British High Commission in Delhi.

But as more pieces of the story come to light Simon is found brutally murdered. When Gregory travels to Delhi to discover what happened to his brother he goes missing. With the authorities seemingly unable to help, Samantha must head to India to search for Gregory and discover the truth behind Amit’s story and Simon’s murder.

Thrown into a dark underworld with danger at every turn, Samantha discovers it is not just the truth that is under threat, but her very life.

BH: Wow, sounds gripping, Julie – it must have taken a great deal of research. In a few words, how would you sum up the book’s key themes?

JN: Gender, equality, western ignorance. There are instances in the book where assumptions are made about the characters. I hope I have demonstrated that you need to look beyond the stereotypes and preconceptions in order to understand not just others but yourself and society too. I also hope I have shown what a wonderful country India is.

BH: What inspired Cast No Shadow?

JN: I read a news item about a successful business owner. A ‘man’ who was revealed as a woman after being accused of a crime. In this instance the deception was just because it was easier as a ‘man’ to own a business. I thought it was a good starting point, but in Cast No Shadow the reason for the deception is a matter of life or death.

BH: I note that you’re a busy Mum of two – how do you dovetail writing with family life? Do you have a particular routine?

JN: I am busy, however I can no longer blame my children for that; they are 23 & 25 now. My writing day begins in the morning, around 7-30. I am definitely more productive in the mornings. Other commitments – where possible – I schedule for the afternoon.

BH: Are you working on a new book at the moment?

JN: I am. It’s too early in the process to reveal anything about it, other than to say it is something very different; not a thriller.

BH: Name the last three books you read.

JN: The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris. Normal People by Sally Rooney. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.

BH: And the last three feature films?

JN: I’m more of a theatregoer so sometimes I’m a bit late to the party where films are concerned but they were: The Favourite. Green Book. Bohemian Rhapsody. I am going to see Blinded by the Light this week as I love Bruce Springsteen.

BH: Finally, Julie, what are your three top tips for fledgling authors who are at an early stage in their writing journey?

JN: Every writer should read, and write every day, anything. Just get words on the page. Always keep a notebook with you as you never know when inspiration will strike. And be persistent, especially with yourself.

BH: Julie, thank you so much for chatting to me – really appreciate your time and insight, and good luck with Cast No Shadow, which is now available to pre-order here : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cast-No-Shadow-Julie-Newman/dp/1912666502/

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Follow Julie on Twitter @Julesmnewman
or check out her website https://julienewmanauthor.com/

Also by Julie Newman:

Beware the Cuckoo https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beware-Cuckoo-Julie-Newman/dp/1911129910/

The Kindness of Strangers https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kindness-Strangers-Julie-Newman/dp/191158376X/

Book Review : No Way Out by Cara Hunter

No Way Out is the third book in Cara Hunter’s brilliant DI Adam Fawley thriller series and it’s been creeping up my #TBR list all summer.

It was worth the wait and Fawley fans will not be disappointed. It’s New Year 2018 and we return to Oxford where Thames Valley Police are tasked with investigating a devastating house fire that has claimed the lives of several family members, including two small children.

With Quinn disgraced and demoted, DI Fawley is ably supported by DS Gislingham (Gis), while DCs Somer and Everett make a welcome return to complete the male/female dynamic.

From the outset, there are too many questions and no forthcoming answers, but one thing’s for sure; the fire was no accident and the deaths look like murder.

Running alongside the crime, we see Fawley struggling with his own demons – namely the recent and painful disintegration of his marriage. This adds a layer of poignancy as wife Alex floats, spectre-like, in and out of Fawley’s life – in an almost dreamlike way that was very intriguing.

During the first half, I found this book a little harder to grip than the author’s first two volumes; simply because I didn’t know who I was rooting for within the Esmond family. Later however, several cracking twists emerge which pick up the pace and make for a twisty second half and a shocking and very satisfying ending.

The combination of the authentic, relatable investigating team mixed with the intricate plot, makes for another gripping read as Cara Hunter serves up just enough familiarity but with a collection of thrilling new twists.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Way-Out-Fawley-Thriller/dp/0241283493/

 

 

Rain Walking

 

 

 

 

Dog stands by the door, feet planted, tail still
While I put on wellingtons and a mac
Dog’s eyes say: ‘Terriers hate rain; don’t you know nuffink?’
Collar and lead on, we set out
Past the village store, open all hours
Past the house with the broken gate
Where lives a woman with a broken heart
Past the post box, unleashing love and hope
And bills (but nobody wants those)
And to the footpath, muddied and brown
Passsing through fields of overripe wheat
Looking up I feel the kiss of clouds
As rain, fine as sea spray
Mists my nose, cheeks and eyelids
Field after field, until dog and I are bound for home
Each wetter than a paper boat

 

 

16.08.19 Beverley Harvey