Interview with Occult Horror Author, Sarah England.

Sarah England

Sarah England

Today I’m happy to welcome Sarah England to the blog. Sarah is an author of dark occult horror books that send a chill down your spine. She is currently busy putting the finishing touches to the third book in her trilogy, Magda, which will be available at Halloween – spooky! If you haven’t read Sarah’s previous books, Father of Lies and Tanner’s Dell, then I highly recommend them. Lets find out some more about Sarah:

Hi Mark! Thank you for inviting me onto your blog – I really appreciate it.

What were your favourite childhood books?
I was introduced to reading at a very young age by my mother, who was an English teacher – I can remember reading her cast-off Victoria Holts and Georgette Heyers in the back of our Cortina on rainy English holidays… I actually loved them…guess I started off being unusual way back then. My very first books were the Miffy books – so much so my nickname was Miffy. I also loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Sevens series…showing my age here, whoops!

Was there any interest in the supernatural when you were younger?
I got freaked out so easily and so badly my dad was a bit worried about me. I saw a film on Christmas Eve at the age of five where one of the presents under the tree was a doll, and as the family switched off the light for bed and closed the door, the doll’s eyes snapped open and its head span round on its stem. I hated dolls after that and wouldn’t have them in my room. Also, I was convinced the wardrobe door would open and would watch it on full alert until my parents came to bed in the next room. However, what really tipped me over the edge was my first ever boyfriend taking me to see the Exorcist age 17. I’ve been terrified of the supernatural ever since.

hat-manDuring your career in nursing did you experience anything occult in nature?
There were a lot of stories around in hospitals – mostly when we were staffing a ward at night …great when you had to go into a side ward with a terminally ill patient in the small hours…but the most common was that patients who were about to die would miraculously seem to get better the day before, and then deteriorate rapidly after that. This happened so many times it almost became an omen. But the other thing was – again when someone was about to die – they visibly brightened and stared at a far point no one else could see. Some said the man in the black hat had been to visit. All common stories and personally witnessed. I never saw a ghost though! That came later – a lot later. Continue reading

Book review of Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl

PortraitsBook Description:
Emma didn’t know how long he hid, silent and unmoving, in the large Victorian wardrobe to the side of her single bed. She didn’t know how long he peered, salivating and drooling, between the two heavy dark oak doors, and watched, mesmerised, as she slowly drifted into fitful sleep. She didn’t know what time he pushed the doors open and crept towards her in the drab grey darkness of the night.

Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer, who has already tortured and killed at least five young women.

The greater the evil, the more deadly the game… How far would you go to save your life?

 

Extract:
When she first awoke from her enforced slumber, Emma thought for one glorious, but all too fleeting moment, that the events of the previous night were just a nightmare. But the invasive throbbing pain seemingly erupting from every inch of her face and the congealed blood around her nose and mouth bought reality into sharp unrelenting focus, as she realised that one swollen eye wouldn’t open and reluctantly recalled events prior to the assault. Oh God, it was real. It was all too real! Life had taken a dark and unexpected turn.

 

4.5* book review:
This is another excellent novel from John Nicholl. Although a stand alone, this novel continues the author’s exploration of how the criminal mind and it’s actions have an impact on their victims minds and personalities. In this case a university student is kidnapped and kept in a windowless room, and tormented by the kidnapper.

I thought that the portrayal of the working relationships between the police team investigating the missing girl came across well. I also like how there were references made back to the arrest of Dr Galbraith (from White is the Coldest Colour.) I did think however, that there were some parts of the story that didn’t feature the missing girl that perhaps would have benefited from a chapter here and there with her in – just to let readers know more about her situation.

The best parts of the book were those that featured the antagonist. John writes a really good bad guy, and this one is sick and twisted. There are a few scenes that shock, but they are not over done and fit in with what is happening in the plot.

I also liked how the story kept taking me in directions I wasn’t expecting, and I didn’t see that ending coming either! This is a dark, twisted psychological thriller written by a brilliant imagination.

I received an ARC copy of the book in exchange for a honest review.

 

Portraits of the Dead is now available on Amazon for £1.99
You can find John across social media on Facebook, Twitter and his website.

As always, thank you for reading,

All the best,

Mark.

Interview with Booklover Catlady, Maxine Groves.

Maxine Photo 1Today I’m delighted to welcome Amazon and Goodreads top book reviewer, Maxine Groves, to the blog. Possibly better known by her reviewing name, Booklover Catlady, Maxine devours vast quantities of books whilst also offering publicity and reviewing services to authors. She’s also taking the first steps towards writing her first book. Without further ado, lets begin the interview.

 

 

After working for so long in recruitment and advertising, what made you decide to focus on books?
After a successful career in advertising, copywriting then recruitment, and human resources at senior management level, I injured my lower back very badly in the workplace. Despite extensive treatments and physiotherapy unfortunately my condition cannot be rectified nor is surgery an option. I tried working part time for a year with my back injury as a Job Coach to young adults with disabilities, which I loved, however it got too much for me as other serious health conditions impacted me and I had to resign from the job. I was facing never working again.

During an extended period of bedrest after the first of five surgeries I have had in the last 2.5 years, I started reading avidly to help get me through. This led to reviewing after discovering Goodreads and then on to Amazon reviews. To my surprise, I quickly started to rank highly as a Top Reviewer and Most Popular Reviewer on Goodreads, then Amazon and authors and publishers were contacting me with books to read and review. This was like a dream come true for a bookworm like myself.

A successful horror author contacted me (after another horror author recommended that I review his book) stating that he felt I would be really good at book publicity and could I do some for him? I took this on and it was really successful, at this point I realised that all the work experience and business knowledge I had plus my copywriting and advertising skills meant I could do this for other authors also. I saw a gap in the market for a quality book review service which is what I kicked off with. I am passionate about helping authors achieve their goals.

 

What has been your biggest:
(a) life achievement
(b) book/reviewing achievement?
Oh wow! That is a hard one. I think my greatest life achievement has been consistently rising from the ashes after a lot of very difficult situations in my life and somehow turning difficult times into opportunity. Having physical disabilities, then being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 42 plus chronic pain, was not going to stop me from doing something meaningful with my life. I think of myself as a tenacious survivor.

I am also super proud of my 16 year old son who has Aspergers and ADHD and how far he has come and the self-belief he has instilled in himself. He also believes nothing is a barrier to doing what you love. I run groups on Facebook for adult women with Aspergers and want to leave a legacy of making a difference in the lives of these women as well as all the other Autistic people out there who think they have nothing to offer. They do!

My greatest book related achievement has to be making it into the Top Ten Top Reviewers and Most Popular Reviewers in the UK on a regular basis as well as having some of my reviews featured in the Top 50 most popular reviews on Goodreads. Recently I hit number 94 in the Top 100 globally on Goodreads which just blew me away! I am also extremely proud of being a Top Ranked Reviewer on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk especially as my first book reviews usually read something like “I really loved this book! Highly recommended!”  Continue reading

Book Review of Bloodwalker by L. X. Cain

 

bloodwalkerBook Description:
Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…

When Zorka Circus performs, its big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, there are fewer children in the European towns it leaves behind.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the international performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. Nevertheless, he’s determined to find the culprit and stop them before anyone else dies and the only place he can call home is ripped apart by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravediggers and ghoulish bloodwalkers. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict rules, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable.

 

Book Extract:
On nearby streets, people left their offices and entered parked cars or waited at the bus stop. If any glance up at the peculiar form crouched on the church parapet, they’d betray no curiosity. That would be impolite – a violation of the keep-to-yourself code that held the country of radically diverse ancestries and cultures together. He’d be written off as trick of the light of maybe an extra gargoyle. The stone monsters sat atop the old facades in Budapest any way. Being mistaken for a monster was nothing new. Rurik was used to it.

The police presence and general alarm would be greater if they knew it was actually four children missing, not just one.

A little girl taken from a park in Northern Italy. A boy taken from a playground in Slovenia. A girl taken from an abandoned Slovenian train station a week later. And now a girl from Budapest. Continue reading

Interview with Crime Fiction Author, Matt Hilton.

Matt HiltonToday I’m pleased to welcome crime fiction/thriller author Matt Hilton to the blog. Author of the popular Joe Hunter series and Tess Grey thriller series, Matt’s fiction is all about thrills and action. Taking a break from writing the third in the Tess Grey series Matt has kindly agreed to answering some questions from me. Thanks for taking part today Matt, lets start the interview:

What inspired you to write in the crime action genre?
Back in my youth I read whatever books came into the house via my father. He was a huge fan of the men’s adventure books of the day, so these were the books I was picking up and reading too. I loved stories full of action and pace, and it didn’t matter to me if the protagonist was a spy (Nick Carter), vigilante (Mack Bolan), gunslinger (Edge) or barbarian swordsman (Conan the Cimmerian), as long as the story was fast and furious and full of hair-raising adventure. So, when it came to start penning my own tales, it was obvious that I’d try to emulate my literary heroes, and from all those genres I found the one that suited me best was crime action – which for me can encompass all the other genres mentioned above, as long as it’s in a relatively contemporary setting. These days when I pick up a book, I still reach for crime action (AKA crime thriller) first, so I suppose I haven’t changed much over the years. The other answer is that I write the kind of books I’d love to read.

On your website you say that you listened to your Dad tell stories when you were younger. What was your favourite, and why?
It’s difficult choosing only one, or even recalling any single story. Often the same story was told on different occasions and each time it took on a different slant, or had a twist, so they were ever changing, so kept on entertaining. If the stories featured action, there’d be a lot of play-acting (or role-playing) going on, with play-fights a must to get most enjoyment from the experience. But, I must say, my dad could tell a good ghost story, and from that I have also developed a lifelong love of a good spooky story. Continue reading