Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Getting To Know... Jim Ody

Today on Getting To Know... I have the very wonderful Jim Ody, author of Lost Connections and The Place That Never Existed. 

You write thrillers, what is it that draws you to this genre?

I have always been big into psychology. I love to explore how different people act within certain situations, as well as understanding individual's thresholds, and the ability to push people's buttons, or manipulation. I also believe that if you can keep the reader guessing, then you are more likely to keep them wanting to read until the end of the book. 

I love red herrings, and trying to lead the reader, before surprising them with a twist in the tale. I am a huge fan of M Night Shayamalan, and in my knew book, The Place That Never Existed I drop subtle clues throughout as to what the twist at the end might be!

Have you always known that you wanted to be an author?

Yes, pretty much. I grew up on a farm and understood early on that this seemed like a lot of work for little reward! My dad is a good businessman and slowly developed the farm buildings into business units when farming no longer paid. From watching Convoy and riding in my dad's lorry, I wanted to be a lorry driver, and for a short period a stunt man (I loved The Fall Guy in the 80's), but since a child I had a love of writing stories and maintained this dream up until today. 

You have written a short story, The Moth In The Jar, which has been published in the anthology Dark Minds. Do you have a preference over writing a novel or a short story?

Yes, most definitely! I prefer writing novels. Had the opportunity to write the story for Dark Minds not arisen, then I am not sure that I ever would've written a short story ever again!  I love the complexity of a novel. Fully exploring the characters and intertwining the back stories. I am lucky that stories just pop into my head, and  I had half written another story The Pocket Watch, when I decided that with the high caliber of authors I needed to step up and have a story that packed a punch. The Moth In The Jar virtually wrote itself in a couple of days, and opened me up to consider writing more short stories in the future.

In Lost Connections, there is a comedic undertone throughout. Are you a natural comedian or is it something that you worked on for the story?

I was blessed  - or cursed - with a strange sense of humour (depending on how long you are forced to be around me), and I am never happier writing than when I am adding something comedic to the story. I love to have banter between characters, and there is always one that performs the roll of the 'the fool' on some level. Personally what I strive to do is write a novel that is multi layered. There will be flashes of ideology and philosophy (both that I have a fleeting interest in), an understanding of relationships (I studied Sociology at college), but a simple path of a main story-line with a light comedic tone. In the second novel that I ever wrote (the unpublished ...Just South Of Heaven) it was a crime/caper full of exaggerated characters (A hit-man with narcolepsy, a retired clown that still wears the make up each day, and a trio of Elvis fans), so I have toned down dramatically the comedy so as it is no longer satire (the follow up book was called Missing Miss Legless, about a one-legged pornstar that goes missing). I want to write crime/thrillers with comedic undertones rather than comedy/capers with a crime undertones...although I may revisit this series and finally release them in the future...

When you are writing, do you have a set routine or schedule that you like to follow?

I start with a simple idea for the beginning, and then usually a twist of an ending. I then sit down and let the rest of the book writ itself with little or no planning. I get bored and distracted easily (the PC I write on doesn't have internet access so as I am not distracted!), so for me if I have the whole book planned out, then I will disregard it halfway through and start writing the next story that has popped into my head. I have more than half a dozen half written novels...The downside to my approach is that I tend add something big halfway through, and then have to re-write the change throughout the beginning again. For Lost Connections, I probably wrote the equivalent to three or four novels with all of the re-writes that I did.  

You have written a huge amount of music and gig reviews and have also interviewed bands (colour me jealous). Do you have a favourite story that you can tell us and do you have a favourite band or artist?

I have many stories! From The Futureheads complaining to my editor about my review because I didn't rate it very well, being heckled by drunk band members when I was interviewing a local band, to meeting and interviewing my favourite band back then Bowling For Soup at London Astoria. I really enjoyed my time reviewing bands, and at one time I was being quoted all over the place in Press Releases, and being thanked on band websites and in album notes, but actually it stalled my novel writing. It took sometime to get used to focusing on something that I might not get good feedback or the sort of recognition that I was beginning to get used to.

When you're not writing what would we find you doing?

I have three children aged between 4 and 8, so they keep me pretty busy! However I play football twice a week, and the drums when I can. I love music, films and I read about a book a week.

If you could give younger you any advice about your writing journey, what would it be?

Write more and not give up! I wrote my first (unpublished) novel in 1998 called Mojo Retribution, and then ...Just South Of Heaven a year or so later which briefly had an agent interested in, but when they eventually decided not to take a chance in me, I gave up. It was over ten years before I finished another novel. I was just as self-destructive with football , and at the same time was playing in the Wiltshire League when I took a dislike to being substituted and threw my shirt at my manager, walked off to the changing room, got my stuff and drove home. I never played for the club or at that level ever again.  

Do you have a favourite author?

I am a huge fan of Joe R Lansdale. I love his wit, from his gritty crime Hap & Leonard series, to his books like The Bottoms and Sunset And Sawdust, which are set in turn of the century small town American . Touching and moving they tell of the struggles of race, poverty and injustice. I love Linwood Barclay and Harlan Coben for thrillers, classic Grisham, Kinky Freidman's banter and the ever adaptable Dean Koontz.

The Place That Never Existed has only recently been released but what can we look forward to from you next? 

I am busy busy busy! Currently I am writing a novella called The Whispers which I hope to be available next spring, and a who-done-it-with-a-twist novel (that I am pretty excited about), which I will hope to have released by the end of next year. After that I have half of another novella written, and an idea forming for another crime novel. My editor also planted a seed in my head about writing a YA book featuring Daisy and Miss Chambers from my debut novel (a sort of spin-off), which I am seriously considering. 

I am a self-published author, and whilst I am not particularly actively seeking a publisher, I cannot say that I wouldn't be open to offers. This may well influence where my writing direction goes - although not before I have the backing of my brilliant agent (and adviser) Shelagh!

Thank you so much to Jim for answering my questions, I have thoroughly enjoyed his answers. 

To Connect With Jim Ody 

Twitter - @Jim_Ody_Author

The Place That Never Existed 

For Paul and Debbie it was meant to be the happiest time of their lives – a small village wedding in front of their family and friends, followed by a quiet honeymoon in Devon. Not everyone was happy to see them together. Someone from the past was intent on ending their marriage before it had really started. Now, supposedly away from it all in a picturesque log cabin, Paul and Debbie find themselves in the midst of mysterious happenings. Unexplained disappearances with people turning up dead, and all of it centred on the site of an horrific murder. A place the locals wish was a place that never existed.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb - Blog Tour Review

Today I am very excited to be on the blog tour for Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb and I will be bringing to you my review of this extremely exciting book. 

Deep Down Dead

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than her former mentor JT—the man who taught her everything she knows. Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where "bad things never happen," but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

My Review

Deep Down Dead is one of the most fast paced, thrill of a roller-coaster book that I have read in a long time!

Lori Anderson is a strong but flawed badass of a main character and I loved her voice. I enjoyed reading the whole book in what I pictured to be Southern American accent, it immersed me so much more into the world of the book and what was happening. I thought her relationship with her daughter was very realistic as it was full of unconditional love, snark, laughter, back chat and feeling like a failure. 

I also fell Deep Down in love with J.T. He is such a great character and has still so much to share that I already can't wait to find out more about him going forward into the next book! He is your typical tall, strong bad boy with a soft side. But he's a bad boy for justice which just makes it hotter! The relationship between him and Lori is intense and you can feel the heat between them whenever they are in the same room together. He is also an absolute sweetheart with Lori's daughter Dakota which was really good to see. 

From the moment the story started it takes you on a ride and you just cannot get off till you're done. Steph Broadribb leaves just enough breathing space between action to keep you going before hitting you in the face with the next bit of action. 

I don't think that I've ever read anything with a bounty hunter in before (or watched Dog The Bounty Hunter), so I found it really interesting seeing somewhat how the work and I loved the rules that both Lori and J.T. followed. 

Overall an absolutely excellent book and one I recommend to everyone. I read this in two sittings and that was only because I needed sleep so that I could be an adult, or I would have definitely read it all in one go. 

I gave this book a very big five stars! 

About The Author

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego - Crime Thriller Girl - she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.

DEEP DOWN DEAD is her debut novel.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Getting To Know... Chantelle Atkins

Today on Getting To Know... I am extremely happy to welcome author Chantelle Atkins to my blog. 

Your novels are a lot more gritty than the usual contemporary fiction. What draws you to this genre and why the darker side of it?

I really don't know! I suppose it might come from the books I've been inspired by, especially when I was younger. The Outsiders was a major influence on me. I prefer to read things that are gritty and dark. I'm interested in human life, particularly the lives of those who are often unseen or unheard. I've always been one for people watching and wondering what's happened to people to make them the way they are. Human nature fascinates me. I also find it hard to find books written with working class characters in, reflecting their problems and lives. So many books these days tend to be written by middle-class writers and address middle-class problems, which I find hard to relate to.

Do have a favourite character that you have written so far?

Yes, it would have to be Danny from The Boy With The Thorn In His Side. I first wrote this book (or a very early version of it) when I was 12. I rewrote it at ages 16 and 19 and then finally got it done in my 30's, so his character has been with me since my own childhood. He was always in my head and still is now.

You have written both novels and short stories, do you have a preference over which you write?

Definitely novels, as I find short stories a real challenge. I am still mastering the art! Most of my shorts tend to be character snapshots, or extra scenes or alternative endings to my novels. The characters just keep coming back with more. I'm currently writing short stories and releasing them with my monthly newsletter and most of these are basically sample chapters for a series of books I am planning. I love writing novels as you can lose yourself in this world you have created for however long it takes to get it done. The characters get inside your head and you are never alone, and always working on it, even when walking the dogs or making the dinner. I do find, though, that the more short stories I write, the more ideas I get for them, so it's something I am getting more into and working harder to improve.

When you're writing do you have a set routine or schedule that you like to follow?

I don't tend to get much actual writing done in the day, as I have four children and the youngest is two. I do tap things into my phone and write in notebooks though! I do the bulk of my writing when the youngest is in bed, which usually gives me two-three hours a night. I'll start with emails and anything pressing such as preparing a blog post or being active on my social media pages and then I'll turn that all off and just write. 

Your books cover a range of topics from drug use to self harm and mental illness. Does a lot of research go into ensure that you portray them in the right way?

Yes, to an extent. Where there is something that I have absolutely no knowledge of and no one to ask, (such as making a speed bomb in The Boy) then I will research it. I can ask my brother anything relating to crime and punishment and police procedures as he is a policeman. A lot of the things I write about are things I have some experience of in some way, so a lot of is writing from that knowledge. But yes, Google is my friend when it comes to anything unknown. I did a lot of research into dementia, for This Is Nowhere, for example.

When you're not writing what would we find you doing?

Looking after the kids and the animals mostly. I have two dogs, two guinea pigs, one rabbit, nine chickens, one cockerel and three ducks! I am also trying my hardest to become more self-sufficient, so we have an ever growing vegetable patch, and where there is something we can do ourselves or make from scratch, we will. I love being outside, any weather, so walking my dogs is one of my favourite things to do. I also run with them to try to keep fit. I read a lot. I review books that are occasionally sent to me by other authors and I also review books for Underground Book Reviews. In between those books I have an ever increasing to-read list! I am also a huge music fan, so will go to gigs and festivals when finances allow, and music is on constantly in our house! I also run a writing business, Chasing Driftwood Writing Group. I only started it in 2015, and have many plans for the future. I run adult writing clubs and workshops and creative writing workshops for children too.

Music plays a big part in your books The Boy With The Thorn In His Side. Is music as important to you and do you have a favourite band or artist? 

Yes, music seems to creep into all of my books to varying degrees. Jake has his mother's music to remember her by in This Is Nowhere, and Joe is really into music and puts a band together in The Mess Of Me. My current WIP is also very musical; it's about a boy who wants to be a singer and is taking part in a local singing contest whilst also struggling with an alcohol problem and various other issues! But yes, I have loads; Britpop was my era, so Oasis are hugely important to me, as are Blur, Pulp and many others. I also adore The Stone Roses, Nirvana, The Clash, The Smiths, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Neil Young, Primal Scream! I like a lot of new stuff too, such as Jake Bugg, Jamie T, Frank Turner and Steve Mason. Oh and old stuff like The Four Tops and The Foundations! Hard to pick a favourite but if I did it would have to be Oasis.

Do you have a favourite author?

I have a few! It's mainly Stephen King, Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac

If you could give younger you any advice about your writing journey, what would it be?

Keep doing what you're doing, be brave, share it! Believe in it, and don't waste loads of years not writing at all because of small children and work!

What can we look forward to next from you?

I have two books that are close to release. The Tree Of Rebels is a YA dystopian novel that I've been working on for about two years now. I keep thinking it is ready and then change my mind. Currently, it is awaiting a bit of a rewrite actually, so is less ready than it was! It's very much an environmental novel, a warning about where we are all heading, and through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl. It's been a huge challenge. Then I have Elliot Pie's Guide To Human Nature which I wrote at the same time, basically just jumping back and forth between the two novels, while one was with beta readers I would work on the other and so on. This book is aimed at adults but has a young protagonist; 12-year-old Elliot whose single mother is sinking into depression and agoraphobia, as she is so terrified of the world and people and thinks everything is doomed. Optimist Elliot is on a mission to prove her wrong, and he decides to do this by befriending strangers! It's really an exploration of human nature and asks the question, is the world getting worse? Are people behaving worse than they used to? This one is currently having another once over by a beta reader, having gone through this process twice already. I think it will come out early next year. While I am waiting for those books to be ready, I am busying myself with the current WIP, with the aim of getting the first draft finished before I go back to Elliot and Tree Of Rebels and totally finish them both. The WIP is another story I started as a teenager and am finally rewriting. A Song For Bill Robinson, as I mentioned earlier, is about a teenage alcoholic with a massive singing talent. On top of this, I am writing the short stories for a future project, which I envision will be a four book YA series. I can't stop the ideas for this one coming, even though I have so many other things on the go, so I have planned it and written character bio's and write the short stories when the drama unfolds in my head. It's called The Day The Earth Turned and is essentially a Lord Of The Flies scenario, where all the adults have been deliberately killed off by nature itself, leaving the kids to work out how to proceed or suffer the same fate. Again, a strong environmental theme in this one!

To Connect With Chantelle Atkins

Twitter - @Chanatkins

The Mess Of Me

Everyone has one summer they will never forget. Lou Carling is 16 and obsessed with getting thinner. Joe is her best friend, and last night they found something they shouldn't have in Joe's older brothers wardrobe. Travis and Leon are shady figures, leading shadier lives, and during one summer Lou and Joe find themselves pulled into the drama, the confusion and the violence. Will Joe go to any lengths to impress his older brothers? Will Lou's obsession with losing weight spiral out of control? Is Marianne, her self-harming friend, really her friend, or an enemy in disguise? And will Lou and Joe ever be more than just best friends?

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Getting To Know... Paul Toolan

Today on Getting To Know... I have Paul Toolan, lovely author of A Killing Tree and A January Killing.

You write crime fiction, what is it that draws you to this genre?

It’s a genre I’ve enjoyed since as a schoolboy I read and re-read the Sherlock Holmes stories. Mysterious plots, enigmatic characters and atmospheric settings feature strongly in the Holmes books – they’re central features of my novels too. And there are so many routes crime novels can travel. They don’t all have to be about serial killers mutilating women [usually] in gory, voyeuristic ways. Mine aren’t.

Zig Batten is the main character in your series, is there any of your personality in him or is he based on someone in real life?

While he’s a creation from my imagination, and not based on a real person, there are some parallels between him and me. We’re both from urban Yorkshire in the north of England, and moved south to live in rural Somerset in the West Country. We’re both Eng Lit graduates, reflective, socially aware, ironically-minded. I’ve never worked for the police or the legal profession, though, and when I’m writing, I often make Zig do the opposite of what I’d do in the same situation. I’m not producing an autobiography. Characters should extend the writer, I feel. And alas, he’s 25 years younger than me!

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far?

I like Zig Batten and Sergeant Ball – liking them helps me to write them, though I write their faults too. But I’m warming to the minor members of Batten’s police team, especially to Detective Constable Eddie Hick, whose nickname is ‘Loft’, because he’s full of crap. As the series has grown, so has Hick, and his intelligence is emerging despite his physical jerks and awkwardness – he has a body that is ‘part windmill, part wrecking-ball’.

DC Nina Magnus, a black detective in largely white rural Somerset, takes on a bigger role in book 3, An Easter Killing [which should be out by Easter 2017], and I think Eddie Hick may do much the same in book 4. A fair-sized police team is harder to deal with as a writer, but the reward is having plenty of scope.

When you are writing do you have a set routine or schedule that you like to follow?

I really should have’ is a constant thought, but I’ve always been a peaks and troughs person, needing moderate deadline pressure to get things done to my satisfaction. I tend to write later in the day, as a bit of a nightbird, but sometimes I wake early with a thought or two and can be tapping the keys at 6 in the morning. I try to write every day but my pattern in every book is to have a fallow period. For the first book, this was three months - far less now.

I bought one of those desk extensions a while ago, and I now type standing up. I’m writing this standing up at my desk in the study, with research notes and reference books and music around me - and a comfy chair for a sit-down now and then. I’m told that standing is better for the back and that we work around 300 of our muscles just to stay upright. Writers don’t have to be couch potatoes unless they wish to be.

Before writing crime fiction, you wrote lyrics for musicals. What inspired you to make the jump?

I worked in Performing Arts education before moving into management and then universities, and so wrote short plays and compilations for students for years. Basic music skills an ear for dialogue led me to lyric writing. Good lyrics aren’t quick or easy to do, but you can write one song, and then another. Only when I retired did I have the space and time to take on the complex plots and multiple characters demanded of longer forms, such as crime fiction. Even with good notes and research, you have to hold an awful lot of stuff in your head!

When you're not writing what would we find you doing?

I regularly walk in the Somerset countryside – which is where the first book came from. In A Killing Tree, a hiking group finds a body at the top of a local hill called Burrow Hill, a real place. When I was admiring the view one day I wondered what would happen if...

I have a fair-sized garden which I can neglect when the muse is upon me. Same is true with fishing [Zig Batten also fishes and struggles with his garden]. What Batten dislikes is cricket and foreign travel, both of which I love. So far, every book includes a foreign visit. These days, my holiday travel has become part relaxation, part research.

Do you have a favourite thing about being an author?

I don’t write to pay the rent, and I’m glad, because writing for a living is tough. I write for enjoyment and like the freedom of writing when I want to – or not. And there’s tremendous satisfaction when you bring a complex plot together and it works. I guess it’s like completing one of those giant jigsaws with thousands of tiny pieces that look almost - but not quite - the same.

Do you have a favourite author?

Too many to reduce to one, I fear. An early influence was Mark Twain – I sometimes think Batten has a touch of Huckleberry Finn’s habit of ‘bemused observation’. I suppose I was brought up on the classics to some degree. We did Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Dickens, Jane Austen etc at school, and I enjoyed Joseph Conrad, Hemingway, James Joyce and the like at university.

I’ve tried many crime/mystery writers, especially enjoying Ian Rankin, Michael Connolly, John Le Carre, Henning Mankell. Latterly, I’ve gone off the more gruesome stuff [Jo Nesbo became a bit too gory for my taste].

I seem to have less time to read now in any case. Writing - and promoting one’s writing - soaks up time.

If you could give younger you any advice about your writing journey what would it be?

Without question, I’d tell myself to be patient and only publish the first book when it was as good as I could make it. Indeed, it might make sense to write the first two books before publishing either. I say this because as a new author, the first book is often a learning project. After writing A January Killing I looked back at A Killing Tree and didn’t think it as good as it could have been - so I revised and improved it and issued a new edition. A good thing, I hope, for readers, but it slowed down my writing of book 3.

What can we look forward to next from you?

I think An Easter Killing will be an engaging read – a little more contentious than the first two, and with more character development in the police team.

I may agree to narrate the whole series for Audible Books, though this is a tall order, time-wise. I’m writing a few short stories too, which have gone down well at public readings.

Occasionally, an insensitive reader asks me when I’m going to write a ‘proper’ novel! For now, crime fiction provides all the scope I seek. But watch this space - who knows?

Thank you so much to Paul for answering my questions and joining me on my blog today.

To Connect With Paul Toolan

Twitter - @ptoolan1https://twitter.com/ptoolan1

A January Killing

January, white-frost, a pitch-black orchard. 

Despite the cold, Detective Inspector Zig Batten is enjoying his first West Country ‘Wassail’ - an ancient apple-orchard ceremony. His partner’s young daughter is this year’s Wassail Queen. A torchlight procession ends in the ritual firing of shotguns, to scare ‘evil spirits’ from the trees and trigger this year’s apple blossom.

But not every shotgun fires blanks, and next day a dead body has blossomed in the orchard. 

What is the killer’s motive? Why this victim? And who is sending anonymous letters to the villagers of Stockton Marsh, where Batten’s own Sergeant lives? 

Winter closes in, but murder does not stop with the dead - it tunnels into the living too, as Batten and Ball discover. Will their own endangered lives and relationships ever be quite the same?

As snow descends, the police make ready. Until another body is found...

Monday, 9 January 2017

Gilding The Lily by Justine John - Blog Tour Review and Q and A

Today I am very excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Gilding The Lily by Justine John. I am bringing my review of Gilding The Lily as well as an interview with Justine John. 

Gilding The Lily 

A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees London-based Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, has guiltily never liked her father’s women, but does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wit’s end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them any answers. The ruthless truth is something no one expected…

This fast-paced psychological debut will keep you guessing until the very end.

My Review

I could not put this book down. I enjoyed Justine's writing so much, it is so easy to get into and is really engaging. 

The characters are all very relatable and realistic. I could vividly picture each character, even the ones who are only in the story for a short amount of time. I thought Amelia and Jack in particular were especially well rounded characters and their relationship felt very believable and was very sweet. Even though Evelyn was such a nasty character, I really enjoyed her and I think she really stood out to me.

Another relationship I thought was dealt with really well was the one between Amelia and her father Roger. You could feel the love between them even through the stuff that had happened over the years and you really felt for both of them that they had missed out on so much time due to circumstances beyond either one of their control. It was a very realistic relationship and one that probably a lot of people can see in their own families. 

The story is paced perfectly which kept me reading far later into the night than it should have done. I felt very much like it was a modern version of a classic psychological mystery story, think an Agatha Christie type of feeling but with a bigger setting of London and New York. 

A lot of the book is set in New York; I have visited New York and I thought that Justine has captured it perfectly in her writing, I recognised many of the places and I really felt like I was back there at times. 

The tag line of the book, is very, very true -  This fast-paced psychological debut will keep you guessing until the very end - The opening of the book is a funeral with someone thinking about what they have done but you don't know who or when this is. Throughout the book I must have had everyone as the person who was doing the thinking and when everything is realised it is such a brilliant reveal I was left open mouthed! 

Overall this is an excellent debut novel and I gave it 5 stars and I look forward to more from Justine John in the future. 

To Purchase A Copy Of Gilding The Lily from Amazon UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gilding-Lily-Justine-John-ebook/dp/B01N535MZY/

Q and A with Justine John

Gilding The Lily is a domestic noir suspense, what is it that draws you to this genre?

I believe that suspense is the thing that makes a book un-put-downable.  Its fine to create characters that come to life but the story has to have some suspense in it to draw the reader in and really want to know the them. I love to lose myself in a good novel, and they’re the ones that offer suspense – it’s what gets me turning the pages.  I get bored with non-fiction or auto-biographies.

When you're writing, do you have a set routine or schedule that you like to follow? 

Yes, I have to put aside a minimum of two and a maximum of four hours a day and I have an office in the garden where I can completely get away from outside life and distractions which is majorly important.  If I get distracted, then I get no writing done, so I have to be really serious and dedicated to that time.  Sometimes this is hard work, just the plain discipline, so I tend to reward myself, and set incentives – if I write 2000 words in my three hours allocated today, I will allow myself, I don’t know, an extra glass of wine, a long hot bath or a lie in or something!!  Something small and luxurious that I love doing – nothing that’s non-achievable though.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far? 

I love all my characters so far – they’re all their own people and sort of like friends.  I haven’t really got a favourite, but if I was forced to choose it would have to be Amelia because we have so much in common.

You have switched from the corporate world to the literary world, what was it that made you decide to make the change? 

I’ve always wanted to write and be a ‘writer’ seriously, so once I had the opportunity, it was an easy decision.  But actually seizing the opportunity itself was more difficult – I was at a stage where I was not enjoying my work and I became quite ill with endometriosis.  It became so bad that eventually I had to have a total hysterectomy, and I was written off work for eight weeks.  The other side of this coin was a blessing because I thought ‘this is my chance – all that time off – I can start a novel’.  So I did, almost immediately I was home from hospital and I didn’t go back work!  I’ve never looked back.

When you're not writing what would we find you doing? 

Either walking my two Dalmatians (DJ and Molly) or riding my horses (Enzo and Patrick).  I walk for miles each day – it’s beautiful where we live in the Surrey Hills. With both the horses I also compete regularly at show jumping.  We do quite well!

Gilding The Lily is set primarily in New York, was there a reason behind the location choice?

I know New York quite well because, like Amelia, my own father lived there for many years.  It’s a city where anything can happen and often does, and it just felt right to have what happened based there.  New York helps this story come alive.  Writing it seemed more real than anywhere else.

Did a lot of research go into writing Gilding The Lily, particularly around the DEA side of things?

My husband is an ex cop, like Jack, and I questioned him over and over again.  My step-son is a catholic priest and he checked over my dialogue in the Prologue.  I visited all the places I describe, and took notes and photos which I Blu-tacked up all over my office.  And good old Google was also extremely useful, of course!

Do you have a favourite author?

Not really – I go through phases of buying several books by an author that I like and then seem to find someone else after a while.  I loved the Bronte sisters in my youth, I had a ‘classics’ stage where I read as many classics as possible.  Then I got into Iian Banks after reading the Wasp Factory,  Ian McEwan,  Nicky Hornby and now it’s whatever takes my fancy from Lawrence Durrell to Dawn French, Jo Jo Moyes and Maggie O’Farrel.  I love Graham Greene and recently read The End of The Affair for the first time which I adored, and also The Paris Wife by Paul McLain.  Right now I am reading Something To Hide by Deborah Moggach which I’m really enjoying.

As well as writing your novel, you also write a blog, what was it that inspired you to set this up?

The blog is a way of putting things out and on paper that I write about when I’m not ‘really writing’.  It helps me practice and work out how to phrase things.   You know, thoughts and little ideas and gems that come to mind.  I use the Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook a lot for referencing and found my mentor via them.  They asked me to write about a blog about my journey as a debut author and I transferred this to my own blog and try hard to update it - I always have lots of good ideas for it, but don’t often find the time to do this, which is something I must address.

Gilding The Lily has not been out very long, but what can we look forward to from you next?

Yes, I have a plan for a prequel.  It will be the same genre, but I’m hoping to throw a bit more romance into the mix next time!

About The Author

After over thirty years of working in the corporate sector in London Justine John left the rat
race for the stunning countryside of the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, horses and two dalmatians.

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