An Interview with Triona Scully, Author of Nailing Jess

Nailing Jess cover

I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for Nailing Jess by Triona Scully. I have a super publication day interview with Triona for you.

Nailing Jess is published today, 26th June 2017, by Cranachan and is available for e-book purchase and paperback purchase here.

Nailing Jess

Nailing Jess cover

Welcome to Withering, a small town with a big problem in modern, matriarchal Britain. Here the women wear the trousers, while the men hold the handbags. Literally.

There’s a serial strangler on the loose and the bodies of teenage boys are piling up on maverick D.C.I. Jane Wayne’s patch.

Wayne needs to catch ‘The Withering Wringer’, but it’s not going to be easy. Demoted for her inappropriate behaviour, she must take orders from a man—and not just any man—an ugly one.

Still, at least she can rely on her drug stash from a recent police raid to keep her sane…

Shocking. Funny. Clever. A gender-bending, Agatha-Christie-meets-Chris-Brookmyre, mash-up. Simply genius.

Scully’s debut novel takes classic crime and turns it on its head with a deliciously absurd comic twist.

An Interview with Triona Scully

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Triona. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and Nailing Jess in particular. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me, Linda, and for using the phrase ‘considerable humour’, which will be incorporated into my marketing, at the earliest opportunity.

I’m an Edinburgh based Irish writer. Nailing Jess is my first novel. I wrote the first draft in six weeks a few years back.

Why do you write and when did you realise you were going to be a writer?

Because I always have. I’ve always felt like a writer, but before Nailing Jess, I’d never written anything with enough commercial potential to pursue to publication.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

I find it easiest to free flow words and ideas. I find returning and re-writing harder. Being edited, and having to incorporate other people’s opinions into the process, I find most challenging of all.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

I write at home, in the morning, when Mikey is at school. I work at the living room table, by a window, over-looking my unkempt garden.

Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about Nailing Jess?

Nailing Jess is a fairly gruesome crime novel with a very high body count and an ever narrowing pool of suspects. It’s also a tale of an unlikely friendship between two people from very different worlds. Lastly, it as a satire on both these concepts.

So often teenage girls are the victims in crime novels but you’ve chosen to make boys the victims in Nailing Jess. What made you decide to buck the usual trend?

Nailing Jess is set in a matriarchy but it is not so much a tale of female empowerment, as it is of male disempowerment. The women in the book don’t come off looking so good, but at least they are, for the most part, still alive. It was very important that the boys and men be victims, because I wanted to explore how that would look and feel and be for them. I wanted people to connect with the innocence and hope the boys shared. I wanted them to see those same boys, post strangulation, presented in a titillating fashion. Death itself an extension of the sexual act, leaving behind a sexual corpse. I wanted to show how that might feel like. Is a silk stocking still sexy, if the dead leg it’s attached to is male?

(Oh – good question! I wonder what blog readers think?)

Nailing Jess is decribed as ‘The most shocking book you’ll read this year’. How far was shocking the reader a deliberate intention in your writing.

I’m not sure how much it featured in the creative process. I was very conscious of having an over the top plot, that would enable me to present the female characters at their very worst, and the male characters at their most vulnerable. More than anything else, I wanted woman as subject, with all the best action and dialogue, and man as object, however pretty, destined for background.

I know you often torment yourself in the middle of the night with ‘What if..?’ questions. Why do you do it and how do you deal with this?

Now, If I knew why Linda… I think it’s just part of the tortured artist psyche, that I can never completely lose. Motherhood, for me, was an amazing leveller. It allowed me to live in the now, in a way I’d never been able to master before. It forced me to be positive, because children do that, and it enabled me to kick a life-long habit of over thinking, over analysing and over sharing. Writing a book, and putting it out there, taps into a base human fear of rejection. For reasons varied and complex, that matter little to anyone but me, I have an acute fear of rejection. It’s ironic, because I’ve never been a mainstream thinker.

Nailing Jess has considerable humour. How did you manage incorporating humour into a story about a psychopath?

‘Considerable Humour’. That will be tweeted later. Many thanks, Linda, because that was my absolute intention. One of my favourite movies in my teenage years was ‘Serial Mom’. It featured the out-standing Kathleen Turner as a suburban mother, who, when she wasn’t either making cup-cakes or folding laundry, was killing people in ever more gruesome and absurd ways. Best of all, she got away with it! Not for her the tortured ramblings of Lady Macbeth, post-kill, she’d mop up the blood in a pair of kitten heels, whilst slow cooking a roast in the oven. I’d never seen a woman portrayed in this way. It should have been shocking, but I found it hilarious. The killer in Nailing Jess isn’t a funny character, nor are the killings. But, everything surrounding them is. People are more receptive to ideas, if they can find humour in them.

Your protagonist DCI Jane Wayne has a man’s name as her surname. Was there a particular message you wanted to convey in naming her this way?

John Wayne is to me a perfect archtype of masculinity. Of course, he’s a bit dated, but so too is masculinity, and yet… I wanted Jane Wayne to have all the gravitas that this name holds.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

Crime, mostly. Though I’ve just finished a Marian Keyes, which I guess would be chick -lit. Only that’s just a lazy term for almost all women’s writing coined, we must assume, by the patriarchy.

(Interesting point – I’m not sure where the term originated.)

If you could choose to be a character from Nailing Jess, who would you be and why?

Wayne, I’d love to be Wayne. She’s so irreverent. I’d love to be that rude. Always. Sometimes, I’m a little rude, like I might mumble ‘thanks’, or if you’ve really provided bad service, I might with-hold thanks, but there’s very little gratification in it. I don’t think I’m a naturally polite person. I am very polite, but I’ve been socialised and conditioned to be this way, so who can tell? I could perceive it as a virtue, and that’s how most women sell it to themselves, but I’m not sure it is.

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Nailing Jess should be their next read, what would you say?

It’s a cracking crime caper and a wry observation of gender politics.

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions Triona and happy publication day.

Thank you Linda.

About Triona Scully

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Born in Ireland Triona now lives in Edinburgh where she enjoys writing, current affairs and heading out for long walks on the beach. Formally neurotic, motherhood has changed all that!

You can follow Triona on Twitter and visit her blog. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

nailing jess poster

Cover Reveal: White Silence by Jodi Taylor

WHITE SILENCE kindle

It always gives me a bit of a thrill to see the cover of a new book in advance of publication and I think the cover of White Silence by Jodi Taylor looks stunning.

White Silence will be published by Accent Press in e-book on 21st September 2017 and is available for pre-order here.

White Silence

WHITE SILENCE kindle

*The first instalment in the new, gripping supernatural thriller series from international bestselling author, Jodi Taylor*

“I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I am.”

Elizabeth Cage is a child when she discovers that there are things in this world that only she can see. But she doesn’t want to see them and she definitely doesn’t want them to see her.

What is a curse to Elizabeth is a gift to others – a very valuable gift they want to control.

When her husband dies, Elizabeth’s world descends into a nightmare. But as she tries to piece her life back together, she discovers that not everything is as it seems.

Alone in a strange and frightening world, she’s a vulnerable target to forces beyond her control.

And she knows that she can’t trust anyone…

White Silence is a twisty supernatural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

About Jodi Taylor

Author photo Jodi Taylor

Jodi Taylor is the author of the bestselling Chronicles of St Mary’s series, the story of a bunch of disaster-prone historians who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. Do NOT call it time travel!

Born in Bristol and educated in Gloucester (facts both cities vigorously deny), she spent many years with her head somewhere else, much to the dismay of family, teachers and employers, before finally deciding to put all that daydreaming to good use and pick up a pen. She still has no idea what she wants to do when she grows up.

You can follow Jodi on Twitter @authorjoditaylo and find her on Facebook. Jodi also has a blog.

My Pen is My Gun: A Guest Post by Khaled Talib, Author of Incognito

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I’ve spent my life encouraging others to read – from when I was a teacher to now I’m in a U3A reading group. Consequently, I’m delighted to welcome Khaled Talib to Linda’s Book Bag today. Author of Incognito, Khaled sums up exactly what I’ve been trying to tell non-readers and readers alike about the value of books.

Published by World Castle on 17th May 2017, Incognito is available for purchase here.

Incognito

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Pope Gregoire XVII was last seen waving to the crowd at Saint Peter’s square from the famous Apostolic Palace window. Despite several layers of tight security, neither the Gendarmerie nor The Entity (the Vatican’s secret service) or the Swiss Guards claim to know anything about his sudden mysterious disappearance.

As the world mourns for the pope, a frantic search begins in Italy and beyond its borders amid speculation that the Holy See may know more than they are telling.

Ayden Tanner, a former British SAS commando officer — who is officially dead — is dispatched with two other crew members to find the Supreme Pontiff by The League of Invisible Knights, a covert division of Anonymous that aims to bring about the triumph of good over evil.

A secret arrangement is made for Ayden to meet Rafael Rabolini, the Papacy’s press secretary, in Geneva, who might be able to tell him more. But trouble unexpectedly starts from the moment Ayden arrives in the city that winter day…

The story unfolds to reveal an insidious plot by Willem Van Der Haas, a ruthless Dutch senator who has aligned himself with a world power bent on its own global ambitions.

In a gasping chase that races from the snowy mountains of Switzerland to the secret passages under Saint Peter’s Basilica to the hilly terrains of Istanbul to the harsh desert air of Egypt, Ayden and his crew are forced to match wits with lethal assassins as they struggle on a desperate quest to prevent a terrifying tomorrow.

A tumult of intrigue, action, suspense from the author of Smokescreen.

My Pen is my Gun

A Guest Post by Khalid Talib

smokescreen

When my first novel, Smokescreen, was about to be published, a magazine editor in Singapore, cautioned me not to expect many readers here.  She described Singapore as not being a reading society. She was telling me something that I already know.

Our observation was confirmed by the local media when it ran an interview questioning the public about their reading habits. Most people admitted they don’t read, citing the lack of time. Tell that to the person reading a book in the New York subway or the London underground as he goes to work and back.

I don’t want to speculate the real reasons why people here don’t read. As it is, I am not relying on them to share my enthusiasm. The world is my oyster. If only they knew the value of writers.  After all, they didn’t give world acclaimed authors like Gabriel García Márquez and Naguib Mahfouz the Nobel prize for nothing.

Sometimes, an author’s novel makes you see the bigger picture by starting with a speck. If you don’t read, you might be inside that speck and not know it until it’s too late. Even if the author writes commercial fiction, there is value in his work because he is still inviting you to discover more about life through adventure or a situation. In that process, you might even discover more about yourself.  When you laugh, smile, get excited or angry as you read a passage, that is the author evoking your emotions.

I recall reading an eco-thriller by Jon McGoran. It tells you about the dangers of agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology. Yes, I’ve read newspaper articles about Monsanto. However, by reading novels, I learned about greed and the lack of empathy for humans that make giant companies do what they do for profit.

George Orwell’s 1984 wasn’t just a work of fiction. It was a warning. Look at the world today. Political austerity. His warnings came to pass.

Even romance novelists offer meanings in life.  Such authors teach you to be gentler, acquire finesse, be humbler. Who else is going to remind you to hear the birds chirp? Stories of romance also take you to various places that increases your general knowledge about people and the world. Is that not an education?

Many years ago, I recall reading Island of the Blue Dolphins, a children’s novel written by Scott O’Dell. It moved me. The story tells of a young indigenous American girl stranded alone for years on an island off the California coast. As a kid, all I knew about the native Americans is what I see on TV.  Cowboys and Indians: the former were savages and the cowboys were heroes. That book changed my perspective from the eye of the protagonist, a girl named Karana, who narrates her experiences. More importantly, all praise to the author of the book for opening my eyes. He made me more emphatic.

Authors try to stretch their imagination as far as they can go. His or her pen might take you on a serious or funny journey, but there’s always a message. A society without writers and artists is like having pasta without sauce. Don’t you agree? So how do you want to live your life? Colourful or bland?

About Khaled Talib

khaled

Khaled Talib is the author of the political thriller, Smokescreen, and the recently published Vatican thriller, Incognito. His third thriller, Gun Kiss, will be published this year by Imajin Books. Khaled is a former magazine journalist with local and international exposure. He is a member of the UK Crime Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers. He resides in Singapore.

You can find out more about Khaled on his website, on Facebook and by following him on twitter @KhaledTalib.

Time Travel: A Guest Post by Jennifer Macaire, Author of The Time For Alexander Series

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I’m really interested in ancient history, collect Roman coins, love travel and have been on an archaeological dig so I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Macaire, author of The Road to Alexander and Legends of Persia in the Time For Alexander series, to Linda’s Book Bag today. Jennifer has kindly agreed to write about time travel and is taking us back to Ancient Greece. You can also read an extract from the series.

Published by Accent Press, The Road to Alexander is available for purchase through the publisher links here. Legends of Persia is available here.

The Road to Alexander

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Sex, love, war, & quite a bit of vino – it’s a Greek myth come to life…

Ashley is a time-travel journalist who has fought to prove herself in a world that that believes her road in life was paved by her parents’ fortune. After winning a prestigious award, she is selected to travel through time and interview a historical figure. Choosing her childhood hero, Alexander the Great, she voyages back in time for less than a day to interview a man whose legend has survived to the present day. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her.

Stranded in the past, cold and aloof Ashley has to learn to befriend, to trust…and to love.

Legends of Persia

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Legends of Persia is the second book in the Time for Alexander series. Ashley continues her incredible adventure in 333 BC as she follows Alexander the Great’s army on his journey across Persia. As a presumed goddess, Ashley is expected to bless crops, make sure battles are won, and somehow keep out of the daily journals sent back to Athens, while all the time searching for her son and keeping history on course.

Alexander’s campaign against the mountain tribes in the Hindu Kush is given a new life, told from the viewpoint of a time traveling reporter.

Ashley knows he’s on the most dangerous part of his fantastic voyage, but she has to walk the knife edge of history, keeping Alexander alive and not bringing the wrath of the Institute of Time upon her.

Time Travel

A Guest Post by Jennifer Macaire

If I had a superpower, it would be the ability to travel through time. It’s no coincidence my favourite show is Dr. Who… I’d love to be able to have a TARDIS!

My passion for time travel started with a Kodak Brownie camera and a roll of 127 film.  I got my first camera when I was 7 years old, and my father would buy me a roll of film every month. The first batch of pictures came back with everyone’s heads cut off. My Brownie camera had a primitive viewfinder that exaggerated the lens’s reach – but after the “attack of the headless monsters”, as my dad jokingly called my first photo attempts, I was more careful. I continued to take pictures, buying my first reflex camera with my first paycheck (if I couldn’t afford a horse, at least I could get a camera). I continued to freeze time on shiny paper, fixing everything in place in chunky albums. I love to take photographs. It’s a way to stop time.

When I started writing the Time for Alexander series, it was obvious I was going to have to do a lot of research in order to make the history believable. I wished for a time machine to send me back to the past so I could meet the enigmatic conqueror, and I wished for a tradi-scope that would enable me to understand and speak in any language, (my Christmas list is getting longer…) but instead I had the library and the Internet. I haunted the Louvre – I’m lucky, I live near Paris, and there is an amazing section in the Louvre devoted to ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Mesopotamian art and daily life. Little things like combs, mirrors, chairs, beds, mattresses, lamps helped make my book come alive. In one part, Ashley looks at herself in a mirror, and thanks to the Louvre, I knew just what the mirror looked like, what it was made from, and even what the perfume bottle and makeup was like back then. Museums are like time machines.

Ancient Greek mirror

While researching ancient Greece, I was also reading fiction and biographies about Alexander the Great. I’d read Mary Renault’s books as a teen and had loved them. Alexander’s biographies were fascinating too, but frustrating. Hardly anything contemporary to him remained. On the other hand, it made writing fiction easier. Books are like time machines; they take us anywhere we can imagine. My journey took me back to ancient Greece, and I hope you’ll join me!

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An Extract from the Series

Alexander was never cold. He thought I was strange, covering up in so many layers of wool and silk. I thought he was crazy, walking around half naked. The Macedonians, tough mountain people, were resistant to cold and wet. They strode through the snow barefoot, or as a slight concession wore sandals. The boots had worn out after only a couple of weeks, yet they had continued to put them on long after the soles had fallen off. To make me feel better, they said.

The Greeks were used to warmer weather. They huddled in their cloaks and wore boots and mittens. Most of them thought that the Macedonians, besides being barbarians, had some loose screws. The folk the Macedonians referred to as “barbarians” were Artabazus’s tribesmen from the Zagros Mountains. They were a massive group, usually tawny or red-haired, with blue or green eyes, and standing roughly seven feet tall. They were impervious to cold, or heat, or just about anything. They even survived the crazy football games Alexander organized in the snowy fields of Samarkand.

The games became a fixture that winter. A goat, hollowed out and stuffed with enough straw to make it resemble a football (well, in your nightmares maybe), was carried from one end of the field to the other. And there were roughly fifty people in the way who wanted to take it from you and run in the opposite direction. And you could never be quite sure who was playing on your team. The teams seemed variable things; one played for one team and then when the mood struck, one changed sides. There were no uniforms; if anyone tried to wear anything it was ripped off within seconds. So approximately eighty naked men and a stuffed goatskin hashed it out on a large, flat, snow covered field.

The snow was soon cleared away, and the farmer lucky enough to own the field didn’t have to worry about plowing or fertilizer for the next season. Enough blood and guts were spilled to insure a heavy crop. The villagers and the soldiers not playing lined the field and cheered. Sometimes the players spilled over into the spectators, and sometimes it was the other way around. There were people standing, sitting, eating picnic lunches, sitting in trees or on walls, and riding horses up and down the sidelines to watch. After the game, there was a big barbecue nearby. Goats and cows were grilled, and everyone ate, drank, and insulted the losers. The losers usually drank the most, bled the most, and made the most noise when they were drunk.

Usse spent hours binding, splinting and fixing up the players. He shook his head. “They get more wounds from goatball than against the opposing forces,” he told Alexander.

“Well, they keep out of trouble,” he answered, picking up a handful of snow and eating it.

I picked up some snow, too, and carefully fashioned it into a snowball. He caught me watching him, and I tried to look innocent.

“What’s behind your back?” he asked me.

“Nothing,” I said, smiling sweetly.

“Let me see?”

Well, he asked for it. Afterwards, he held me down in the snow and stuffed handfuls of it down my back. I thought that was horribly unfair and told him he was a brute.

Then we went to see what the fuss was about on the playing field. Alexander was considered an unofficial referee. Whenever there was a discussion (i.e., a huge, bloody fight), he would be called on to mediate.

This time, we arrived to find a large heap of Macedonians sitting on a small pile of Egyptians with several Greeks thrown in. The barbarians had taken the goatskin and were fighting among themselves; a lone, slightly mad Spartan was in the middle of that fray. The Bactrians and Madrians, still new to the army, were trotting around the fringes of the fight, unsure of whom they were going to help at this point, and the Persians, who prided themselves on just about everything, were jumping up and down screaming that nothing was going right. I remarked to Alexander that this was a fairly typical epitome of his army, and he nodded thoughtfully.

The players were separated, the wounded sent to the infirmary, one on a stretcher. Alexander listened as they all shouted at him at once, the words most used being, “they cheated,” and “it wasn’t fair”. After pretending to listen for five or six minutes, Alexander tilted his head to one side and in a very wise voice asked, “Who has the ball?”

There was a brief silence as everyone looked down at their hands, checked out his neighbor, then saw that the barbarians had crossed the line and were piled up on the far side of the field having a great fight over who should carry the ball back to the middle to start again. Faint cries of “you did it last time” and “it’s my turn now” floated over the frosty air.

“I rule that they won,” said Alexander, pointing towards the barbarians, “and the game is over for today.” He held up his hands to forestall any groans. “Everyone is invited to eat ox tonight.  I shall provide the wine!”

“Hurrah for Iskander, Oh, Mighty King!” bellowed all the players, and they rushed off to wash for dinner. Except for the Spartan, face down and unconscious on the field.

Alexander and I linked arms and strolled through the crowd. The townspeople were in awe of him, and they stood back a respectful distance. The sun was going down, in a few hours the oxen would be cooked, and fragrant smoke from cooking fires tickled my nose. Someone offered us a cup of hard cider. It was steaming hot, spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with honey.

We thanked the man, whom I vaguely recognized as one of the cooks working in the army. Alexander knew his name, though, and the man turned bright red with pleasure when Alexander handed the cup back to him saying, “My thanks, Khrysbaz, your cider is better than any I’ve ever had.”

The hot drink had warmed my belly. I leaned my head on Alexander’s shoulder. “What are you thinking about?” I asked him, hearing a large sigh.

“Barsine. I’m worried. It was the sports that put her to mind. She always was one for organizing games.” He shook his head ruefully. “She alone nearly wiped out half my army when we camped near Persepolis.”

I smiled, remembering the very large, red-haired princess throwing her javelin straight through Plexis’s tent one afternoon. Plexis had been standing behind her. She’d done it on a dare. She’d also done it to drive home a point. She was telling Plexis to stay away from her husband. Plexis had turned a rather sickly shade of green and had gone to sit beneath a fig tree for a while.

Alexander turned to me and cupped my face in his hands. “Why is it you aren’t jealous of my other wives?” he asked me.

“Because I am the one with you,” I answered. “I would be jealous of anyone who took you away from me. Why ask me that now?”

He looked over my head towards the far mountains. “I don’t know. I was wondering, that’s all. I’m terribly jealous. I would kill anyone who tried to take you away from me.”

“Don’t say that,” I said, strangely affected by his words. “We love each other. For me, that’s all that matters.”

He brushed his thumbs across my lips. “I think that’s why I can’t do without you,” he said. “You don’t care about my conquests, my kingdom, or my power. You care about me, only about me. If I were a beggar you would still feel the same about me.”

“Because you would still be yourself,” I said gravely. “In your case, it’s not the crown that makes the man. You wouldn’t change if you were a king, or if you were a beggar. You are completely Alexander, no matter what.”

He kissed me, bringing a rush of heat to my belly. “I am Alexander, no matter what,” he agreed, and he laughed.

The people around us turned at his laughter and smiled. He had a contagious, rich laugh, that overflowed like a child’s. I saw wonder in many faces. Alexander tossed his purple cape jauntily over my shoulders, covering us both in its purple swathe. “I want to ravish you here, in front of everyone, as we did at the ceremony of the fields.” He felt me stiffen and laughed louder. “You’re as pink as a carnation! Just look at you blush!” And he leaned closer and whispered a few things that turned my cheeks absolutely crimson.

We barely made it into the tent, and Axiom just had time to clear out before Alexander had my winter clothes strewn all over the floor.

“What’s this?” he’d cry, as another layer was uncovered. “You have more protection than my cavalry! What? Another shift? By the gods, woman, it’s like peeling an onion!”

After making love, we lay in a comfortable tangle on his bed. I was warm; Alexander’s body radiated more heat than the brazier standing nearby. Outside, the snow had begun to fall again. The farmers were overjoyed. To them, snow was a precious gift from the gods, and hardly a day went by that I didn’t find a present of some sort left  outside the tent. The people still thought I had something to do with the harvest goddess. Not that I minded. I loved finding a small wicker basket full of crisp red apples, with a light layer of snow like frosting on them, or a jug of hard cider, or a knit shawl.

About Jennifer Macaire

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Jennifer grew up in NY, Samoa and the USVI. She met her husband at the polo club in Paris. All that is true. But mostly she likes to make up stories.

You can follow Jennifer on Twitter and visit her blog, visit her Facebook page or find her on Instagram.

Social Media Don’ts for Authors, A Guest Post by Angela Clarke, Author of Trust Me

trust me

I’m thrilled to be part of the launch celebrations for Trust Me, the third book in Angela Clarke’s social media thriller series.

Angela was kind enough to provide a guest blog earlier this year all about growing characters that you can read here. Today, in line with the social media theme of her books, Angela has some advice for authors.

Trust Me,  was released by Avon Books on 15th June 2017 and is available for purchase here.

Trust Me

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YOU SAW IT HAPPEN. DIDN’T YOU?

What do you do if you witness a crime…but no-one believes you?

When Kate sees a horrific attack streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who attacked her.

Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but the trail has gone cold. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?

Dark, gripping, and flawlessly paced, Trust Me is the brilliant third novel in the hugely popular social media murderer series.

Social Media Don’ts for Authors

A Guest Post by Angela Clarke

  1. Don’t Sell, Sell, Sell.

We all know those authors, some of whom we may love between the pages, who only ever post about their book on social media. How disappointing when we wanted to get to know the person behind the work. Every status is an Amazon link. Every post is trying to sell you something. It’s like trying to have a conversation with a friend who will only respond by shouting: ‘BUY MY NOVEL!’ It’s boring. It’s embarrassing. It’s the quickest way to get unfollowed.

  1. Don’t Auto-Message.

I meet a lot of people in this industry, and when someone sends me a friend request, and we have upwards of twenty people in common, I err on the side of caution and presume I’ve met them (I was probably drunk, you’ve been to a book event, right? They have a lot of wine). Plus, their profile photo is a cat, I’ve definitely met lots of cats. But, then, that person, my proto-pal, fouls my inbox. They send me a private message in the form of a blanket pitch telling me to buy their book. I don’t know this person. It’s a trick. I’ve basically just made mates with a spam lord. Eject, eject, eject!

  1. Don’t Immediately Ask Me to Like Your Fan Page

Look, I geddit, I’ve only got 600 followers on my Facebook Author Page too (please like me!). It’s so tempting just to send out a few cheeky ‘like’ requests. And that’s fine, once in a while. But not as soon as we’ve met. At least retain the illusion we’re fun friends who have loads in common for a few days, before you start trying to pimp your product.

  1. Don’t Post Links to Your Book on my Page Uninvited

You’re basically flyposting. On the internet. You’re graffiti-ing other people’s walls. Seriously, that’s not cool. No one is going to buy your book that way. No one.

  1. Don’t Be Rude.

I may reject your friend request because my accounts are just for family and friends. I may not want to like your page because I’m not into that. I may not reply to your direct message asking me to retweet you. All of these responses from me are fine. It is my social media account. I make the rules. And regardless of whether you think I should do something else, never, ever, ever mouth off, either at me or about me. Never become aggressive, or post anything rude. That doesn’t make you an honest author just trying to shift enough books to pay the rent, it makes you a massive jerk.

About Angela Clarke

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Angela Clarke is an author, columnist and playwright. Her debut crime novel Follow Me was the first in the Social Media Murders Series.

Her memoir Confessions of a Fashionista (Ebury) is an Amazon Fashion Chart bestseller. Her debut play The Legacy received rave reviews after it’s first run at The Hope Theatre in June 2015. Angela’s journalist contributions include: The Guardian, The Independent Magazine, The Daily Mail, and Cosmopolitan. Now magazine described her as a ‘glitzy outsider’. Angela read English and European Literature at Essex University, and Advances in Scriptwriting at RADA. In 2015 Angela was awarded the Young Stationers’ Prize for achievement and promise in writing and publishing.

She is almost always late or lost, or both.

You can follow Angela on Twitter, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

Secrets of the Italian Gardener by Andrew Crofts

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I’m so pleased to be starting the launch celebrations for Secrets Of The Italian Gardener by Andrew Crofts.

Secrets Of The Italian Gardener was published by Red Door on 11th June 2017 and is available for purchase here.

Secrets of the Italian Gardener

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Mo, the wealthy dictator of a volatile Middle Eastern country, enlists a ghostwriter to tell his story to the world and enshrine him in history as a glorious ruler. Inside Mo’s besieged palace the ghost forms an unlikely friendship with a wise and seemingly innocent Italian gardener who slowly reveals that the regime isn’t all it appears to be. As a violent rebellion threatens all their lives the ghost struggles to cope with a personal secret too painful to bear.

Secrets Of The Italian Gardener takes the reader on a heart-pounding journey through the bloody downfall of a doomed tyrant in the company of a young couple struggling to cope with the greatest private tragedy imaginable.

My Review of Secrets Of The Italian Gardener

A ghost writer attempts to find time to speak with dictator Mo to gather materials for Mo’s ‘autobiography’, but not all the information will sit comfortably.

Secrets Of The Italian Gardener is such a clever and disturbing book. Metaphorical (or maybe more accurately, metaphysical) and philosophical, Andrew Crofts makes the reader question every underlying principle in their life. Just how would they behave in the same circumstances as the ghost writer? The terrible sense of unease this book creates is enhanced by the fact we do not get the ghost writer’s name, just a first person account, so that he could be any one of us. I think I would do exactly the same as he and his wife Caroline and this worries me. The ghost writer sells his soul to the devil, but his reasons are fully understandable. It is for this reason that I finished reading Secrets Of The Italian Gardener feeling completely disturbed.

Alongside the metaphorical elements, there is an exciting plot as the compound in which the Italian gardener, Lou, is working and where the majority of the book is set comes under increasing threat as the people in the street become violent and rebellious. I was reminded of every similar scene I’ve witnessed vicariously on television and again I felt uncomfortable as Andrew Croft made me complicit in the action just by reading the story.

The gardening theme was an aspect that Andrew Croft handled with consummate skill. Gardening is seen as a benevolent activity, but the things planted in the pristine gardens of Mo’s compound are not what we might expect and there’s so much more to Lou, the gardener, than meets the eye. This aspect of Secrets Of The Italian Gardener left me feeling shocked and not a little naive.

Other themes of personal grief, loyalty, marriage and love mean that there is lightness to balance the shade in the prose so that, although this is a relatively short novella, there is much to ponder and contemplate. I found Secrets Of The Italian Gardener totally mesmerising as it took me on a journey about human nature and made me question who is innocent and who is guilty. Ultimately, however, it left me feeling hope. There is the chance for nature to heal.

Andrew Crofts

Andrew Crofts

Andrew Crofts is a ghostwriter and author who has published more than eighty books, a dozen of which were Sunday Times number one bestsellers. He has also guided a number of international clients successfully through the minefield of independent publishing.

Andrew’s name first became known amongst publishers for the stories he brought them by the otherwise disenfranchised. Travelling all over the world he worked with victims of enforced marriages in North Africa and the Middle East, sex workers in the Far East, orphans in war-torn areas like Croatia and dictatorships like Romania, victims of crimes and abused children everywhere. He also worked with members of the criminal fraternity.

As well as using traditional publishers to reach readers he has also experimented with e-books, publishing, Secrets of the Italian Gardener, a novella which draws on his experience amongst the powerful and wealthy, and The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer, (a prequel to his traditionally published The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride, now filmed and appearing in episodes on YouTube’s This is Drama channel).

His books on writing include Ghostwriting, (A&C Black) and The Freelance Writer’s Handbook, (Piatkus), which has been reprinted eight times over twenty years.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter and visit his website. There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett

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My grateful thanks to Michele Gorman for an advanced reader copy of The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square in return for an honest review.

Having previously read and enjoyed The Big Little Wedding at Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett, my review of which you can read here, I’m delighted to be reviewing the second in the series, The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square.

The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square is published today, 23rd June 2017, by Harper Impulse and is available for purchase here.

The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square

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One chance isn’t always enough…

Everyone expects great things from Emma Billings, but when her future gets derailed by an unexpected turn of events, she realizes that getting back on track means traveling in a different direction.

She finds that new path in the closed-down pub on Carlton Square. Summoning every ounce of ingenuity, and with the help of her friends and family, she opens the Second Chance Café. The charity training business is meant to keep vulnerable kids off the streets and (hopefully) away from the Metropolitan Police, and her new employees are full of ideas, enthusiasm … and trouble. They’ll need as much TLC as the customers they’re serving.

This ragtag group of chancers have to make a go of a business they know nothing about, and they do get some expert help from an Italian who’s in love with the espresso machine and a professional sandwich whisperer who reads auras, but not everyone is happy to see the café open. Their milk keeps disappearing and someone is canceling the cake orders, but it’s when someone commits bloomicide on all their window boxes that Emma realizes things are serious. Can the café survive when NIMBY neighbors and the rival café owner join forces to close them down? Or will Emma’s dreams fall as flat as the cakes they’re serving?

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My review of The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square

When Emma tries to juggle marriage, twins and a new cafe under attack from a rival, it appears something has got to give.

Although I’m so glad I had already met several of the characters in The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square because I have read The Big Little Wedding at Carlton Square which introduces them, and it felt like returning to old friends I haven’t seen for a while, it wouldn’t make any difference to new readers as Lilly Bartlett weaves in their back story so seamlessly that there’s enough information to give them depth and familiarity to all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story of new enterprise, rivalry, marriage challenges and friendship and community. The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square provides a vivid sense of place. There’s mystery, sabotage, entrepreneurial growth and social conscience underpinning a fast paced plot. Reading The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square did prick my conscience slightly as I think I may have made similar judgements to those Emma initially makes about Lou for example and this is what elevates The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square above similar books in this genre. Lilly Bartlett has the ability to make her readers think as well as to entertain them.

What is also very skilled is the naturalistic dialogue and style. The prose is sassy, witty and appeals directly to the reader so that it is like being in Emma’s head rather than reading about her.

The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square is a smashing summer read that transports readers into another world for a while and I heartily recommend it.

About Lilly Bartlett

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Lilly Bartlett is a pen name of Michele Gorman. Michele writes books with heart and humour, full of best friends, girl power and, of course, love and romance. Call them beach books or summer reads, chick lit or romcom… readers and reviewers call them “feel good”, “relatable” and “thought-provoking”.

She is both a Sunday Times and a USA Today bestselling author, raised in the US and living in London. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word “portion”.

You can find Michele on Instagram and on Facebook . You can follow her on Twitter and visit Michele’s blog and her website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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