Author Showcase, Writing Tips and Tricks

Author Q&A: AJ Frazer – THE JAGGED EDGE

For an author, there is nothing that quite beats the thrill of publication day, no matter how many books are under your belt. And just such a momentous day is fast approaching for AJ Frazer and his timely eco-thriller, The Jagged Edge.

A madman hellbent on revenge. An ex-war correspondent – once lauded – desperate to find his old edge. And the countdown towards the end of the world as we know it begins.

A thriller with a conscience, The Jagged Edge does for climate change what John Grisham has done for the law, cutting to the heart of the biggest threat to humanity the world has ever seen. 

I worked with AJ on this gripping race-against-time novel, ensuring the novel maintained the perfect balance of a pacy and entertaining thriller and a thought-provoking ecological warning.

AJ, welcome! The Jagged Edge is your latest novel. Tell us a little more about it.

Mercurial madman, Victor Sagen, is hellbent on saving the world from escalating climate change. Sagen is convinced that the only solution is to launch a devastating cyber weapon, called Biblical, that will send humanity back to the technological dark ages. A once lauded ex-war correspondent, Dominic Elliston, is desperate to find his old edge. Through a series of heart-stopping events, he is dragged (willingly) into Sagen’s orbit and, ultimately, finds himself in a position to stop him from releasing Biblical. But the question even Dominic must ask himself is, should he? The answer will shock him. 

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Author Showcase, Writing Tips and Tricks

Publication Day: Author Q&A: Rolly Bastard – KILL IT ALL AWAY

For an author, there is nothing that quite beats the thrill of the publication of their first book. And today is that lucky day for Rolly Bastard and his debut Kill it All Away.

I worked with Rolly throughout the editing process and it was certainly lively! A thriller with twists and turns at every chapter, this is a novel that’s hard to put down. No matter how much you try, it’s almost impossible not to be lured in by Rolly’s charistamtic – albeit not always diplomatic – narration, and the shocking and entertaining story that he has to tell.

Rolly, welcome! Thank you for joining us here today. KILL IT ALL AWAY is your debut novel, isn’t it? Tell us a little more about it. 

This book is a thriller at its core, with murder, mystery, and twists, but also an examination of one man’s attempt to put his life back together, especially the relationship with his twenty-year-old daughter. And I know that description doesn’t sound like it, but there is also a lot of humour – dark humour – but humour all the same. 

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Book Review: TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH by Gilly Macmillan

📚Suspense fans—read this now!📚

By day, I edit crime, suspense and thriller, and by night, well, I read crime, suspense and thriller. It’s a genre that I have always loved; there is something about a complex, changing narrative of intrigue and mystery and a bloody good twist that I just can’t resist.

And an author who delivers on this level with every single book is the masterful Gilly Macmillan. Her latest novel To Tell You the Truth is my favourite yet (and I actually helped edit her previous book THE NANNY, so that’s saying something). Gilly has created a complex and fascinating character in Lucy – a novelist whose talent for imagination may have gone too far. She narrates a dark and multi-layered tale of deception, death and lies – or so you think. With twists at every turn, I was compelled to read the novel late into the night, desperate to uncover the truth.

Set in Gilly’s hometown of Bristol, I was transported back to my university days in a city that I loved, but this also added an extra level of intrigue as much of the action takes place on the other side of the Suspension Bridge from the city, which I actually only visited a couple of times. This created an otherworldy sense for me in a, which was unnerving and built on Lucy Harper’s complex world that Gilly has weaved together so well. (On an aside, this book is also a delight for those who work in the world of books and publishing; I couldn’t help but smile at Lucy’s interactions with her publishers – everyone loves a treat hamper!)

To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan publishes on 25th June 2020 in ebook and hardback. But if I were you, I’d preorder it now…

Thanks to the author and publishers for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

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Crime, Suspense and Thriller Reads by Black Authors – BLACK LIVES MATTER

Across the world, a revolution is happening as people are coming together to protest against racism and promote anti-racism.

I want to do what I can by amplifying the Black voices of my first love: fiction. I am, of course, a specialist in all things crime, thriller and suspense so I wanted to share a list of some of the brilliant Black novelists writing in the genre to add to your reading lists and to-be-read piles.

The below is just a limited selection of the fantastic array of crime, thriller and suspense written by Black authors – I wish I could fit them all in – so I would urge you to check out the Crime Writers of Colour website as well as the Black Mystery Authors Directory to discover even more fabulous writers, and hopefully your next read.

Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 15 novels and has been making up stories since she was 13 when she used to share her stories with her convent school friends. Her published titles include: Tell Me Your Secret, The Brighton Mermaid, The Friend, When I Was Invisible, That Girl From Nowhere, The Flavours of Love, The Woman He Loved Before, Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run.

Her next novel All My Lies Are True is out in July.

Eric Jerome Dickey

Eric Jerome Dickey is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty-five novels as well as a six-issue miniseries of graphic novels featuring Storm (X-Men) and the Black Panther. Originally from Memphis, Dickey now lives on the road and rests in whatever hotel will have him.

Angela Henry

Angela Henry was once told that her past life careers included spy, researcher, and investigator. She stuck with what she knew because today she’s a mystery writing library reference specialist, who loves to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations. She’s the author of five mysteries featuring equally nosy amateur sleuth Kendra Clayton, as well as the thriller The Paris Secret. When she’s not working, writing, or practicing her stealth, she loves to travel, is connoisseur of B horror movies, and an admitted anime addict. She lives in Ohio and is currently hard at work trying to meet her next deadline.

Rachel Howzell Hall

Rachel was born in Los Angeles, California fifteen days after Paul McCartney announced the split of the Beatles. As a child, she kept a pen in her hand, writing everywhere—in notebooks, on loose-leaf paper, in her big brother’s prep-school yearbook and on the back of church bulletins. But never on walls, buildings or freeway overpasses. That is graffiti.

In 2002, her debut novel, A QUIET STORM, was published by Scribner to great notice, including reviews from O Magazine and Publishers Weekly, with a starred review from Library Journal and also chosen as a “Rory’s Book Club” selection, the must-read book list for fictional television character Rory Gilmore of The Gilmore Girls.

Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is one of the most versatile and admired writers in America today. He is the author of more than 43 critically acclaimed books, including the major bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins. His work has been translated into 23 languages and includes literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, and a young adult novel. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and The Nation, among other publications. He is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in New York City.

Malorie Blackman

Although not strictly thriller, as a teenager I loved Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses, so couldn’t great a list without it.

An award-winning British author and dramatist, Malorie Blackman is a major voice in children’s publishing, holding the post of Waterstones Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015. She is best-known for her bestselling novels Noughts & Crosses series as well as Pig Heart BoyThief, Cloud BustingBoys Don’t Cryand Chasing the Stars. The fifth novel in the Noughts & Crosses series, Crossfire, was published in August 2019.

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Fiction in the Time of Corona: How the global pandemic may have messed up your plot, and why that’s not always a bad thing

Yesterday, I read a fascinating article by American novelist Ben Winters. I had the pleasure of working with Winters briefly whilst I was at Penguin Random House and found his unique predicament intriguing.

The article, published on Slate.com, is discussing how the global pandemic of coronavirus and COVID-19 has basically screwed the plot of his new book, The Quiet Boy. It begins in January 2020 and hurtles towards a finale in July 2020 – in a music festival. Well, that’s not happening any more . . .

So it got me wondering how writers and namely the plots of fiction novels have been affected by the pandemic. It must be soul-destroying to have worked so hard, giving up months if not years of your life to curate the perfect plot line, create the characters that you need and finesse the timeline just so until you have a novel that you’re truly happy with . . . for a global pandemic to make it no longer relevant.

But my question is, does it matter? The role of fiction isn’t about facts. As the dictionary defines it, fiction is ‘the type of book or story that is written about imaginary characters and events and not based on real people and facts’. Of course, the best inspiration comes from the world around us – and no doubt the market will be flooded with coronavirus diaries, novels, etc. (Although I question whether there will be a market for them after we emerge blinking in the sunlight post-lockdown – we don’t want to go through that again *shudders*.) But, what better excuse than the world going a bit bananas around us to make use of this fantastic tool that we have hidden deep in our brains: the imagination. There is no better time to let our minds wonder and think of what-if and how-about.

Winters has a point when he says that ‘Right now, we are in the middle of total and utter upheaval. What reader will accept that my characters blithely go about their business in Los Angeles in the spring and summer of this year we’re in?’ Perhaps we should have more faith in our readers. Every day, fiction asks us to suspend our disbelief and fall headlong into a world that isn’t real, not based on fact, the product of the workings of someone’s mind. Yes, it looks a little like the world we live in, but the fiction form is prism not a mirror, twisting the light of the real world into a kaleidoscope of colour – otherwise the sci-fi and fantasy genres would already be in deep water!

With this in mind, over the weekend, I had the delightful experience of kicking my heels up and devouring Rebecca Serle’s smash-hit novel In Five Years. The whole concept of the novel taking a classic interview question – ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ – and twisting it on its head. The novel is all about how no matter how much we try to plan our ideal lives and how we see ourselves in five, ten, even twenty years time, life has a funny habit of getting in the way. Serle’s characters begin in 2020 and happily work, live, love their way through to 2025 (when it starts getting a little pear-shaped), no mention of pandemic in sight. Of course, when Serle wrote her manuscript, COVID-19 hadn’t reared its ugly head, but the novel is no worse off for it. In fact, it might even be an added strength as it reminds us that although the world looks less than peachy at the moment, we’ll get through it, whatever happens.

Admittedly, there might be a new couple of new courses on the syllabus for future literature students – Pre, Post and COVID Literature – but I’m excited to see what new writing this situation brings us, and whether authors choose to engage or not – some already having voiced their claims of not touching the topic with a barge pole, Anne Tyler and Harlan Coben being among their number. I feel for Winters, who has decided to push the events of his novel back to 2019, but whether you choose to set your next writing project in a world affected by COVID or not, I think the readers are willing to welcome you with open arms. To be honest, we’re just thankful for something to read!

Book Review, Meet the Editor

Book Review – The Girl on the Page, John Purcell …

… and a defence of commercial fiction.

39726936As an editor, I was completely drawn to the cover of The Girl on the Page. Funnily enough, not for the reasons those of us who work in the publishing industry would want us to – yes, we design books so that you do judge them by their covers – but because it was covered in all the tools of my trade. I thought the cover design was so clever, using proofreading symbols and other editorial mark-ups to create the cover and marketing copy. Ingenius. I was bound to like this from the start.

It was always a joke around the lunch table with my colleagues when I worked in-house that someone should write a book about the mad world of publishing. But it seems that John Purcell has beat me to it.

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