I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Impervious by AJ Hatley run by the incredible Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group
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@authorajhartley @publishinguclan @lovebooksgroup
Trina Warren didn’t plan on being anyone’s hero. She planned on going to fourth period as normal. But then there was a bang, and an overturned chair and everything was different.
Now Trina finds herself in a fantasy world, pursued by a faceless, nameless monster that only she can stop. Just one second is all it takes for Trina to turn from a regular clumsy high school girl, to a monster-fighting warrior. Just one second is all it takes for everything to change …
Treysville was, her friends agreed, literally the Worst Place in the World: a rural backwater almost exactly an hour and a half drive from anywhere, Charlotte, Raleigh, even Greensboro. It was a town just far enough from the interstate to be convenient for nothing, a sprawling line of low-rent strip malls, car dealerships, fast food joints, gas stations, and diners. It was at one of those – Jimmy-Jack’s – that Trina made a few bucks waitressing after school, with varying degrees of incompetence. It hadn’t always been like this. Predating the strip, Treysville had a run-down town centre with a church and a courthouse, and on the east side was a mostly disused set of railroad sidings that once served the now-defunct furniture business, but that was about it; there were a few farms, but mostly the school kids all came from the same nondescript houses, beyond which were equally nondescript trees and hills, scraggy and undramatic. Who could blame Trina and Jasmine for wanting out?
So school, which had been mostly boring, something that got in the way of Trina’s reading, videogaming and quiet longhand scribbling in the notebooks she hoped to turn into a fantasy novel, had become a trial by ordeal. Survive the ordeal and you were rewarded with escape into a new world, new possibilities. Trina tried to keep that in mind, but the trial itself seemed endless.
Though I live in the USA now (where all my books were first published), I was born and grew up in Lancashire. After attending Manchester University I left the UK to work in Japan, and eventually wound up in graduate school in Boston. I now live in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I teach Shakespeare at university there.
I’ve written long fiction all my life, and started publishing novels (mainly with Penguin) in 2005. I write for kids and adults, and (as you’ll see if you poke around) in various genres. Can’t seem to limit myself to one kind of story 🙂
I’m married with a son, and various animals, one of which–the dog–promises to be the size of a horse soon. I make beer and, occasionally furniture. I used to paint (not especially well) and play guitar and piano (likewise) but I struggle to find the time these days.
I hope you like my stuff. Drop me a line through my main website, or through facebook or twitter. I’m easy to find.
I am thrilled to be included in the blog tour for The Circle-A Killings by Sean Heary @Sean_Heary run by the wonderful Kelly Lacey of #LoveBookTours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours This is such an exciting time for any author, it is lovely to get involved and I am delighted that Sean took time to grant me an interview when he is so busy.
Returning from Moscow, Lorenzo Rossi finds himself forced to quit his job as head of the Vatican police. And to make matters worse, his fiancée, CIA Agent Cathy Doherty, calls off their wedding. Just as Rossi is settling into his new life as a visiting academic at Cambridge University, the CIA persuades him to rejoin Cathy in catching the killer of three American billionaires. Barely on speaking terms, the two devise a plan to befriend the CIA’s main suspect.
As they get closer to the suspect and his coterie of friends, Rossi and Cathy realise that they’re being played for fools. But why? Everything points to an international conspiracy. As friends and foes drop dead around them, they arrive at the truth. But to prove it they need to set a trap. A trap that turns them from hunter to prey. Will they survive to tell their tale?
What inspired you to write your book?
While writing ‘The Concordat’ I felt so strongly about the two chief characters that I couldn’t resist writing the sequel. While it’s more rewarding if you read ‘The Concordat’ first, I’ve written ‘The Circle-A Killings’ as a standalone story. Readers will not only be lured into solving the mystery, but will find themselves rooting for Rossi and Cathy before they too fall victims of the conspiracy.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
My favourite character has to be the sympathetic but very flawed protagonist Lorenzo Rossi. He’s a genuinely decent guy with his own set of values.
What was the first story you had published?
‘The Concordat’ in July 2018. I base the story around Lorenzo Rossi, head of the Vatican Police, who is sent to recover a written agreement (Concordat), between the Vatican and Adolf Hitler which the Vatican’s leadership has dismissed as a forgery.
Do you have another story planned or in progress? When can we expect to see that?
I’ve already mapped out the plot for the third book in the Rossi series. I’m about 70 pages into the story. The working title is ‘From a Position of Strength’.
Again, it involves the CIA and Russia, but this time also includes the Chinese—the rising super power.
Can’t tell you much more at this stage. Other than look out for it towards the end of next year.
Who is your favourite author?
In my favourite genre, spy thrillers, my favourite authors are John le Carré (Absolute Friends is one of my favourite) and Graham Greene (Our Man in Havana had me smiling from cover to cover). And when I’m in need of a cultural injection, it’s usually James Joyce, Thomas Hardy or Evelyn Waugh (Scoop is superb).
What do you like to do when you’re not planning or writing your next book?
I have two school aged kids, so most of my spare time is booked for homework and clubs.
My wife and I liked to eat out a lot—most school days we lunch at one of the dozen or so cafes that run off our street.
I like to keep fit. But it comes in fits and spurts. Swimming or running (read as jogging). And when it’s dark and wet, some aerobics in front of the television or weights at the gym.
When did you know you wanted to write novels?
I always had an artistic streak, but I never seriously considered writing until about six years ago when I was still in Moscow. After 10 years living a stone’s throw away from the Kremlin I started to think there was a story in there somewhere.
Do you write novels in other genres?
After ‘The Concordat’ I started a children’s adventure based on bedtime stories I used to tell my son. I got about fifty pages in before Rossi called me back to write ‘The Circle-A Killings’
Now I’ve begun the third book in the series, I guess my children’s book must wait.
What do you like most about being an author?
I like to write stories that enables me to communicate my concerns about modern politics and the state of the world without being seen to preach.
Do you have a specific routine for writing? Is there a special place or particular tool you use?
I like to write in the morning when fresh. I wrote both ‘The Concordat’ and ‘The Circle-A Killings’ in a café/cocktail bar 200 metres from my flat. I always wear earphones that are plugged into my laptop without the sound to block out the background noise. I usually sit tucked away in the corner for 3 cortados (read three hours) then go and meet my wife for lunch.
If your book were to be made into an Audiobook, who would you choose to read it?
Without a doubt: Alec Guinness. George Smiley is my all-time favourite John le Carré character. And no one played Smiley better than Alec Guinness.
However, given Sir Alec passed away 20 years ago, I’ll settle for Jeremy Irons (if he’s available).
If your book were to be made into a movie, who would you like to play main character’s name?
Funny you should ask. I wrote The Concordat with a movie in mind. Dreams, dreams, dreams. Hard to imagine after Borat, but Sacha Baron Cohen would make a great Rossi. If he’s busy then the American actor, Joe Manganiello.
Sean Heary is a former business executive who lived for many years only a stone’s throw from the Kremlin. No wonder he writes political thrillers. He also worked for several years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where he met his wife. Born and raised in Australia, Sean now makes Bonn, Germany his home.
Sean’s action packed, page-turning debut novel, The Concordat, was published in July 2018. His second novel, The Circle-A Killings, will be released in June 2020.
I am pleased to be joined by Andy Roberts, who is one of the dedicated writers I met at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Thank you so much for joining me today, Andy.
Please tell my readers a little about yourself?
I’m Andy, and I write historical adventure fiction reminiscent of the old pulp magazines (think Indiana Jones). I used to be an accountant, but I took some time out in 2018 to go to university and study for a BA in Creative Writing. One of my main ongoing WIPs is a series of swashbuckler stories about two wandering rogues named Kestrel and Scar.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I’d say I got my start through table-top roleplaying games (such as Dungeons & Dragons). It was fun to make characters and inhabit imaginary worlds. When I was 17, my brother introduced me to one such roleplaying game called Deadlands, a combination of Western, horror, and steampunk. My roleplaying group had drifted apart at that point, so I made do by writing fan-fiction set in the game’s world.
At that time, I was struggling with A Levels, and felt like writing was the only thing I enjoyed, and something the exam boards had no say in. It all took off from there.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
I love putting figments of my imagination through perilous situations. I also love finding kindred spirits within the writing community.
What is your writing routine like?
I do most of my writing after lunch. Usually with a coffee and some background music (either classical or video game music). If I can get settled in, I can put a lot onto paper as long as I’m not interrupted.
How much time is spent on research?
I’ll do some bare bones for a first draft, and then go deeper when I revise it. I often get caught up in it, though.
How much of the book is planned out before you start writing it?
Not a lot. I might make a few notes on characters, but for the most part, I go by the seat of my pants.
What do you think is most important when writing a book? Characters, plot, setting, etc
All are equally important, but I’d say characters are the most important. Sometimes a memorable character can carry a story.
What is your latest book about?
I’m currently working on a screenplay for a period crime drama/biopic about Jack Sheppard, a thief in 18th Century London who gained a celebrity status for his repeated escapes from prison. I started it for a university assignment, but I want to keep working on it and seek to develop it further in my third year.
What inspired it?
I’m a fan of a video lecture series on YouTube called Extra History. Around Christmas last year, they produced a serial on the history of law enforcement in the 18th and 19th centuries. The first two episodes looked at Jonathan Wild. Known as “The Thief Taker General of Great Britain and Ireland”, Wild led a double life as both London’s greatest crime-fighter and London’s greatest criminal mastermind. I decided he would make a good villain.
Why did you pick the genre or genres that you write in?
I like historical fiction because I’ve always been interested in history. If I’m writing something based on personal experiences, the historical setting allows me to distance myself from it. I’m often surprised by things I find during research, and I love writing misfits so I can challenge the attitudes and social mores of their contemporary societies.
How did you go about getting a publishing deal? Or how did you become self-published?
I haven’t actually had anything commercially published yet. However, I do have a Kestrel and Scar story serialised on a website one of my classmates set up for sharing work.
The story is available here: https://freepencollective.wixsite.com/website/home/categories/five-and-twenty-ponies
Any new books or plans for the future?
One of my final year assignments involves self-publishing. I’m looking at doing a collection of Kestrel and Scar stories for that.
I’m also looking at writing for roleplaying games. I’ve found a paying market for user-generated content, and am exploring that avenue with a comic fantasy setting.
What authors have been an influence on your writing?
One of my biggest influences has probably been Fritz Leiber, a fantasy author who wrote a series of stories featuring a barbarian called Fafhrd and a thief called The Grey Mouser. I love his character dynamics, and his belief that just because you’re writing fantasy doesn’t mean your character shouldn’t be realistic (which was his critique for Robert E. Howard’s Conan).
I also take influence from many authors of swashbuckler fiction. Notable examples include Alexandre Dumas, Johnston McCulley (the creator of Zorro), and Rafael Sabatini (who wrote Captain Blood).
What writing advice would you have given yourself when you started?
Don’t make changes as you go along. First drafts are meant to be bad, and should be finished first.
What writing advice would you give to an aspiring writer or a new author to the block?
For a start, don’t call yourself an “aspiring writer”. It doesn’t make you look confident. If you’re working on something, you’re a writer. Own it.
“Aspiring author” is okay though.
What has been your favourite book so far this year?
Hunter’s Blood. I haven’t really caught up with many new releases. I’ve been doing an English module on 20th and 21st Century Literature, and that’s had a lot of set texts. These have included Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood, and Brick Lane by Monica Ali.
What is your all-time favourite book and why?
Probably The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley, the original Zorro story. I love the way the character was originally presented, and how it combines two of my favourite genres; western and swashbuckler. What’s particularly fascinating is that Zorro and Don Diego are presented as separate characters until the big reveal at the end.
What genre do you read most often?
I read a lot of action/adventure or mystery.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading The Guns of Navarone by Alistair McLean for recreational reading. I’m also reading Thieves’ Opera by Lucy Moore, for some research reading.
Thank you so much for visiting my blog today, Andy. I wish you ever success in your writing career going forward.
I am thrilled to be included in the blog tour for The Very Real World of Emily Adams by Samantha Rose run by Love Books Group.
#Samantha Rose @lovebooksgroup
Emily Adams has reached a breaking point. Her boyfriend pushed her down the stairs, breaking her arm, and now she’s found herself in an unfamiliar city with fifteen cents in her pocket and nowhere to go. She’s decided that all that’s left for her, is to take matters into her own hands and put an end to her misery…
Until an encounter with a magic man in a dress changes everything.
In a story full of humor and heart, The Very Real World of Emily Adams shows that there is hope in darkness, triumph in tragedy, and the moment when things are at their worst is when you hold on the hardest, because you never know what good things are waiting for you on the other side of despair.
Samantha Rose is a forever-student at Utah State University, who will one day have her Masters Degree in Psychology. She wrote her first novel in permanent marker on her sister’s vanity chair when she was three-years-old. It wasn’t well received.
She currently resides in the mountains, in a little house full of toys, where she’s enjoying her happily ever after with her Prince Charming and three adorable, little bears.
Everybody was talking about The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy, so I had to find out why and bought myself a copy. What a unique book!
The author, by training is an artist and you will read the book in under and hour, but you will keep reading it for ever. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse takes you on a journey of discovery of the characters and yourself. Take the journey with the four unlikely friends and discover their story and their most important life lessons.
The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.
I don’t care if you are nine or ninety, this is a beautiful, thought provoking book. I will treasure my copy, so I highly recommend you buy your own.
Artist Charlie Mackesy has been a cartoonist for The Spectator and a book illustrator for Oxford University Press. He has collaborated with Richard Curtis for Comic Relief, and Nelson Mandela on a lithograph project, ‘The Unity Series’. His first exhibition for the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse was in London in November 2018. Charlie lives in South London with his dog.