Psychological Fiction: The Origins of a Genre

I had recently decided to read something completely different to what I’d normally choose, and picked up a copy of Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, which I highly recommend. First published in 1862, it became widely known in Victorian England as a piece of ‘sensation fiction’ and helped to launch a new genre. This new genre, full of tales of crime and sexual transgression, dominated the market for years, even though critics of the time didn’t favour it. Braddon herself wanted people to look deeper into the genre, asking, ‘Can the sensation be elevated by art?’

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

 

The book covers topics that all go against the norms and values of the time and Victorian womanhood. On one hand a young wife and mother is abandoned by her husband, exploited by her father and has to ensure the safety of her son – thus gaining the readers sympathy. On the other hand, this same woman covers her tracks, attempts murder, is defiant and shows no remorse – losing the sympathy the reader had for her. Continue reading

Tilbury Talks To… Yvonne Bastian

Today, Tilbury Talks To… Yvonne Bastian. Welcome to my blog Yvonne, please introduce yourself.

I have always loved reading from a very young age. I am originally from Lincolnshire and have lived in several places before finally settling down here in Cornwall and yes there are many, many books that have stayed with me and travelled with me. Over the years my reading taste has changed, I used to read certain genres for a couple of years and then move to something else when I felt the magic dwindling. Now however I read a large range, so from genre binger to genre butterfly. It was about 18 months ago when I started my blog and in that time I have read and reviewed a whole range of different books.

 

What went through my head when I decided to be a book blogger?
I had no idea there was such a thing and then when I stumbled across this I was so excited. I had spent the previous two years reading quite a few of the classics and didn’t review them, well apart from saying “I really enjoyed this”. This was because the reviews I had seen were so intimidating, people using those big fancy words I didn’t understand, often thinking it was as if I was reading a thesis rather than a review. Though I did write my own thoughts of the book on paper, that is where they stayed. Then at the beginning of 2017 I decided I wanted to read something modern and up to date, that was when I discovered that people wrote reviews that I understood, they conveyed what they liked or loved and why the book worked for them. I realised that this was something that I was already doing on paper, and then the lightbulb moment when I realised this was something that I could do and also wanted to do. Continue reading

Author Spotlight – Simon Farrant and Death Dolls

Today I’m delighted to welcome Simon Farrant to the blog. Please would you introduce yourself Simon, and then we’ll find out more about your most recent book, Death Dolls?

Hello Mark! I’m Simon, and I live in Corby. It’s a town an hour or so north of London by train and one of the fastest growing towns in the country. A bit of trivia, it’s the only town in the country with extensive ancient woodlands in the town.

I’ve been writing for just over a year. A friend of mine asked for short stories to submit to an anthology. That was it – I was hooked! At home I live with my wife, Louise, our three children, our Bengal cat, Missy and Skeddie the pink tongued skink.

So far I have co-authored a anthology of short horror stories, with Mark Nye, and three hard-boiled (gory!) crime stories. There’s a fourth one called Driven to Murder on the horizon.

Next year, I have a trilogy coming out in a much different genre; the limbo island books are low fantasy mixed with a bit of mystery. No dragons, sorry,

In the past I’ve gained a degree, driven 18 wheel trucks and been a special constable. In 2011 I became ill with the swine flu and this developed into fibromyalgia, and I also suffer with psoriatic arthritis. It eventually meant losing the jobs, and I now use a mobility scooter to help with getting around. Writing has given me a great new outlook on life, and I love it.

 

Death Dolls book description:

Will your skin become a handbag after you die?

Benjamin sees himself as a great guy who employs various misfits at his remote family farm, but when his mother dies during a house fire, grief takes its toll on his mind. Strapped for cash, Benjamin starts a new, gruesomely profitable leather business with Tilly, an expert craft worker.  The only hitch – where will they get the bodies from? Can they find people willing to sell their dead relatives’ skin or will they need to take matters into their own hands?

If you like fantastic, gritty, dark crime that’s not for the faint of heart then you will love Death Dolls. It is the third book in the hard boiled crime series, Newdon Killers, by Simon Farrant.

‘Absolutely fabulous story, Simon Farrant is an excellent author who keeps you pinned to the edge of your seat.’ – 5* Amazon Review.

Pick up Death Dolls to discover this exciting new book today!

You can find Death Dolls on Amazon by clicking on the book cover.

 

 

Did something you heard/saw inspire the plot for the book, or did the idea appear in your imagination out of the blue?
Last year I had a tattoo done, and I started to outline a story called Dr Tattoo. I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out, but it had the scene of Benjamin McGuinness building up his tattoo business in the countryside. I for some reason wondered if it was possible to make leather goods from human skin, and looked it up on the internet. To my surprise, it is possible and you can buy it. So, this was in the back of my mind, and the story came together. After introducing the next tattooist, the idea of a community of misfits seemed like a great plot.

The story started life as a short story in the book I mentioned earlier, the anthology, called Anathema. I was very pleased with the short story but knew that there was a much longer book bursting to be born. The ending is a little different too, which is fun as I wanted people who may have read the short to be surprised by the change.

 

Why did you decide to set the series in the same town, and do any characters feature in more than one book?
It feels right to have a fictional town, as it gives me a lot of scope to drop ‘Easter Eggs’ in stories that people who have read different books would notice. For example, in my upcoming book Driven to Murder, one character buys a pregnancy kit from a shop that features in the first book of the trilogy. Although they are quite different genres, it helps me to build a more multi dimensional world.

Sgt Laura Love features in Famously Ordinary, Death Dolls and much more so in Driven to Murder. She become DS Love in that book, and I plan to write some more mainstream crime books next year with Laura as the main police officer. The readers will have seen her try to tackle James Dean in Famously Ordinary, and then Benjamin McGuinness and his crew in Death Dolls and on to the murders in DtM, so I feel that readers will be rooting for her.

In Driven to Murder, a couple of high profile characters come back to the pages. I can’t reveal who yet, but I think that readers who have been fans of Newdon Killers will be happy….

 

Which character was the most fun to write – good or bad, and why?
This is a joint one, between the brother and sister Benjamin and Lisa McGuinness. Seeing the moral dilemma that Lisa feels along with her boss at the undertakers was interesting to write. Without giving away too much, it seems like a perfect money making opportunity for them. Benjamin was really fun to write, the cringe was strong writing the murder scene when Benjamin had to dispose of one of his original employees who was intent on blowing the whistle to the authorities.

I very much enjoyed writing the comic scenes of him flying a small aircraft with customers to dispose of their loved one’s ashes over the sea. I imagine that some readers will laugh at this, and it might be a bit more emotional to other readers.

 

In a few words could you tell us why we would enjoy reading Death Dolls?
Yes! Death Dolls is a short novel, so a fairly easy book to read in one great reading sitting if you have the time to do so. It’s been called unique, as in a bit of horror a bit of crime and a bit of suspense. One reviewer went so far as to call it ‘Brilliant’, although I am far too modest to say that myself! The characters are mis-fits, and the setting is quite unusual too.

 

Do you have a favourite part of the story? Would you like to share an extract?That’s a tough question, Mark!

I really like how Benjamin wants to provide a secure home for his employees; I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers could see themselves living there too.

The extract that I have chosen is from Chapter Five. I have picked this as it is a pivotal moment in the book. Earlier in the story, Tilly asked if she could fulfil an ambition of running a leather works business. Benjamin said yes, on the condition that she and her two sisters first made a success of an organic piggery that he had established…

 

Nine months to the day after the piggery came under the stewardship of the triplets, Skunkworks Leather opened for business.

Tilly stood with great pride when Benjamin gathered the workers in the yard and placed the ribbon that he had affixed across the door to celebrate his new business opening between the blades of a pair of scissors. He said, ‘Thank you all for coming.’ That generated some laughter from the crowd, all of who lived in the accommodation on site, so it wasn’t hard for them to be there.

He grinned and continued, ‘I am honoured Zack brought you women into my life. The business couldn’t have prospered without you. I declare the Skunkworks… open!’

A round of applause rippled around the workers, and a real ambiance of celebration settled over the group. Tilly hugged Benjamin tightly and whispered into his ear, ‘Thanks a million, you won’t regret this. I promise.’

‘You’re welcome, you three have been a total pleasure to have on board,’ said Benjamin.

Tilly tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and looked up at Benjamin, ‘You know, it has been so hard in the past. No-one has wanted to give all three of us a chance together in a job, but we can’t cope with being apart. This is so great, and I have more plans for the business.’

‘Oh, what’s that?’ Benjamin said, an eyebrow lifted in surprise.

Tilly looked over his shoulder into the distance and said, ‘Oh never mind for now, we’ll talk about it another time. Let’s not run before we can walk.’

Benjamin shrugged, ‘No worries, you can talk to me at any time you know.’

Tilly hugged him again and kissed him on the cheek, ‘You’re the best boss ever. Benjamin McGuiness.’

He blushed a deep shade of red, which was something that he never normally did. Zack and the other two sisters smirked.

Tilly laughed the awful laugh that the trio seemed to enjoy as if they knew they sounded like a coven of witches. Zack lit up a cigarette and puffed out a huge plume of smoke into the sky. Tilly pointed at him, ‘Don’t even think of smoking anywhere near this place Zack. There’s loads of chemicals and I don’t wish to risk a fire, mate! Anyway, see you lot in a bit, I have work to do.’ She went into her new workshops and got on with preparing ready for hides to arrive. Zack and Benjamin returned to the tattoo studio, and the two remaining women made their way back to the Piggery.

 

Thank you Mark for inviting me on to your blog, I very much appreciate the opportunity!
Best wishes and happy reading.

You can find and follow Simon on Amazon and across social media:
Simon’s Amazon author page.
Facebook: SimonFarrantOfficial.
Twitter: @asfarrant.

 

Thank you for your continued support,

Best wishes,

Mark.

 

Book Review: Monkey Arkwright (Wardens of the Black Heart 1) by Rob Campbell

Book Description:
Budding writer Lorna Bryson is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her father when she meets Monkey Arkwright, the boy who loves to climb. The two strike up an immediate rapport, and Monkey challenges her to write about him, claiming that he can show her things that are worth writing about.

True to his word, Lorna is catapulted into Monkey’s world of climbing and other adventures in the churches, woodlands and abandoned places in and around their home town of Culverton Beck. When the two teenagers find an ancient coin in the woods, claims from potential owners soon flood in, including the mysterious Charles Gooch, who is adamant that the coin is his. But this is only the opening act in a much larger mystery that has its roots in some dark deeds that took place more than a century earlier.

Combining their talents, Lorna and Monkey set about fitting the pieces together in a tale of budding friendship, train-obsessed simpletons, the shadow of Napoleon and falling pianos.

 

My Review:
This is a tale of mystery and suspense. One where you have to find clues alongside the characters. There were times when I wondered where the story was going, and what some character’s motivations were, but all questions were answered.

I enjoyed the supernatural elements to the story. There are no ghosts, vampires etc, but the story does make you question your opinions on luck, faith and why things happen the way they do. One character, Charles Gooch, makes you feel uneasy and wary of his intentions, with his ability to be in the right place at the right time. And what is the darkness in his briefcase?

Some of the description used I really liked. For example, ‘But autumn’s grasp had shaken the trees bare, and winter’s broom had swept away the last few leaves. It seemed that the seasons changed everything except for the graves and their permanent residents.’

Although described as a YA read on Amazon, this book has a wider appeal and would be enjoyed by anyone who likes a well told mystery with a supernatural twist. A great first part to a trilogy.

 

About the author:
Rob Campbell was born in the blue half of Manchester.

He studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Manchester Polytechnic, gaining an honours degree, but the fact that he got a U in his Chemistry O-Level helps to keep him grounded.
Having had a belly full of capacitors and banana plugs, on graduation he transferred his skills to software engineering. He still writes code by day, but now he writes novels by night.

Listing his pastimes in no particular order, he loves music, reading and holidays, but he is partial to the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.

His favourite authors are David Morrell, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch & Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

He lives in Manchester with his wife and two daughters.

Rob’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rob-Campbell/e/B07K5JM84G/.

 

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Mark.

Tilbury Talks To… Kate Noble

Today on Tilbury Talks To…I’m delighted to welcome Kate Noble. Thank you for agreeing to take part today Kate. Would you let everyone know a little bit about you?

 I’m a mum, wife and proofreader as well as book blogger and have managed to amass a wonderful collection of books that I wouldn’t want to part with. Rather proud to say that my daughter is also turning into quite the little bookworm. I try to juggle reading and knitting by using a kindle wedged between cushions but occasionally this leads to dropped stitches or me completely abandoning the wool and needles in favour of my book. My go to reads are usually crime and historical thrillers but I do like to challenge myself with something different now and again.

 

What went through your head when you first decided to start your book blog?
It was a way to give my time some shape whilst my baby napped initially. I’ve always been a reader and shared my thoughts on books with family and friends, but a book blog seemed like a good way to keep track of my thoughts on books in one place. Initially, it was just for me, but soon I found out that other people were interested in “hearing” my thoughts on books and so I began posting my reviews on to social media for others to read too.

What are the best and worst things about being a book blogger?
Best would probably be the connections you can make through the book blogging community. There are a whole raft of people out there who love books and aren’t afraid to shout about books. The friendships I’ve made through blogging are wonderful, bloggers are a great bunch who put their hearts and souls into what they do and in turn, offer advice, friendship and comradery.

Worst would probably be learning the hard way that I cannot read every book that I want to, no matter how much sleep I lose. I hate to let people down and feel awful when I have to turn down a review request, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

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