Interview with Crime Book Junkie, Noelle Holten

Noelle with BusterToday I’m delighted to welcome Crime Book Junkie, Noelle Holten (and her chocolate lab, Buster) to the blog. When I asked Noelle if I could ask her some questions, she asked why I’d want to. Noelle is one of the biggest book bloggers around, with a huge audience of review readers that I’m sure would like to get to know her better. I rest my case! So Noelle, I’d best start the interview.

 

You have traveled the world quite a bit (Ireland, Canada and now the UK.) Which part of the world is your favourite and why?
I wish I could say I was well traveled, but those are places where I have lived or where my family are! My favourite? Well, I absolutely love Canada ~ my home ~ as nothing beats a Canadian winter. Snow up to your knees, snowflakes falling on your face or the glistening sight from a fresh snowfall under the streetlights, a proper snowball fight, tobogganing. *Sigh* -Good times! But I recently had the chance to visit Scotland and absolutely fell in love. In fact, the scenery and atmosphere reminded me a lot of Canada and I would not be surprised if one day, Buster and I just picked up sticks and ended up moving there! Never say never!

narniaWhat was the first book of your childhood that made you realise that from that point on you’d never be without one?
My dad bought me The Chronicles Of Narnia box set. I fell in love. I have been reading ever since. Though my taste in books have changed, Narnia is still one of my favourites. It was the first time I ever felt a story come alive. I must have been about 6 or 7. And I was always checking wardrobes in the hopes that I might find my Narnia too!

Do you think your love of crime books influenced your career choice, or does working in the probation service reinforce what books you choose to read?
Good question! Honest answer…I don’t know…though if my choice of books influenced my career, I would have ended up a serial killer as I started reading horror and true crime when I was 12 years old and moved on to crime fiction probably around my early 20’s!

I try to separate my work head from my reading head as I think I would be too overly critical of plot lines or characters otherwise. You know, like how some Police Officers get hung up on incorrect use of procedure or protocol or how a Doctor might think a surgical scene is all wrong. Literary licence is a wonderful tool and I don’t ever want to become too hung up on what would or would not happen…so I try to leave work…at work!

Continue reading

Book Review of Guilt by Joan Ellis

Guilt‘You died a month before your fifth birthday. You were probably dead long before Mum downed her third gin with Porky Rawlings.’

In the 60s, seven-year-old Susan is left alone with her younger brother when he dies of an overdose. The guilt informs the rest of her life. When it threatens to destroy not only her but also her relationship with her new baby, she sets out to discover the truth. What she uncovers is as disturbing as it is hopeful.

 

 

Extract:

From that day, I loved school. Well I wasn’t much good at maths, but I loved English. Writing was a great way of getting rid of all the words and feelings that upset me. Dumping down my thoughts was my way of dealing with them and moving on. I could write whatever I wanted, lie if it made me feel better. Only it’s not called lying when you write, it’s called using your imagination. I did a lot of that. Made up all sorts. I was very good at it. Sometimes I’d re-read the story and even I couldn’t tell which bits were true and which parts were imaginary. Y’see, Mark, the trouble with writing is it doesn’t help you forget, it forces you to remember every last detail. But writing does allow you to forgive yourself absolutely anything.

At first writing was hard work, going over and over stuff, deciding what to put in and what to leave out but before long, my essays were the best in the class. They were so good the teacher read them out in the lesson. All the other kids couldn’t believe I had turned into a brainbox overnight. Even Paul Brown developed a grudging respect for me and found someone else to bully. Like I said I loved school. I would’ve slept there if I could. Home was too big cold and big without you. Dad was in his own world, a crazy place that I couldn’t and didn’t want to enter. I remember showing him my English book once. Obviously, I didn’t let him read any of my essays but he saw all the ticks, stars and full marks. I thought he’d be pleased, proud even but all he said was ‘Is that it?’ I never showed him anything after that.

Continue reading

Interview with Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound

1Joan Stewart headshot 180 by 180Today I am pleased to welcome Joan Stewart, well known as The Publicity Hound, to the blog. Joan is a publicity, marketing and PR expert. She helps get products, services and books in front of as many people as possible. Many of the resources Joan offers are free and easy to implement, such as the hints and tips she suggests in her twice weekly e-mail newsletter.  I recommend you subscribe here. Thank you for taking part Joan, let’s begin the interview:

I see on your blog that you were a newspaper editor before a Publicity Hound. What was it that caused the job change?

By the mid-80s, it was apparent that the newspaper industry was marching toward the graveyard. I also disliked working in an industry in which customer service was always at the bottom of the priority list. I loved writing and editing the news. But eventually, by the 90s, that turned into a job in which I did little more than cut budgets and lay off reporters, and hear people who didn’t get their paper gripe that there was no one in the Circulation Department to take complaints on Sunday morning, when we sold the greatest number of papers.

 

Since starting your business have you always been known as The Publicity Hound and how did you decide on that name?

One of the first books I read when I started my own business was Marcia Yudkin’s book “6 Steps to Free Publicity.” One of her chapter titles is “The Publicity Hound.” I can remember thinking, “Clever.”

About a year later, when I decided to publish a print newsletter, I needed a name. “The Publicity Hound” popped into my mind one afternoon while I was walking. The print newsletter eventually bled red ink. It morphed into an ezine, and that morphed into twice-a-week snack-size email tips. People kept commenting about the name “The Publicity Hound” and how it was such a memorable name and a great brand. Media Relations Consulting Inc. (big yawn) became “dba The Publicity Hound.” I got a trademark for “The Publicity Hound” and now use it exclusively.

 

As an editor and publicist you write a great deal. Have you ever considered writing any fiction?

Never! I wouldn’t know where to begin. Besides, I know how much work book marketing is, particularly for fiction. I decided long ago to forego the print book and concentrate instead on much more profitable info-products.

Continue reading

My Top 10 Reads of 2015

As this is my last post of 2015, I thought I’d use it to share my top ten reads of the year. I’ve chosen one to receive a Special Mention and one is my Top Recommended Book of the Year. So, in no particular order:

 

1 CCooksonTo Be a Lady: The Story of Catherine Cookson
by Cliff Goodwin.

Book Description:
A biography of the bestselling author and northern cultural icon, Catherine Cookson. Following her story from her birth as illegitimate daughter of a South Shields woman who became an alcoholic in later life, through her career as a laundry worker, to her current star status, this work features interviews with the subject and original research, and reveals a great deal of fresh information.

Catherine Cookson is one of my favourite authors. I’ve read many of her books and own many of the film adaptations on DVD. The depth of detail in the research is amazing and it was nice to have snippets of interviews with Catherine throughout this book. I read it in April and you can find my 5* review here on Goodreads.

 

his kidnappers shoesHis Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James

Book Description:
Daniel Bateman is one angry man. He’s just discovered a devastating truth; the woman who calls herself his mother is really his kidnapper. Snatched from his birth family when he was four years old, Daniel’s always been tormented with vague memories from his former life. When he is confronted with a second shattering revelation, his life falls apart; booze and casual sex help numb the pain.

Daniel knows one thing for sure. He’ll never be able to forgive his kidnapper. Never. Because of her, he’s been denied his dream of becoming an artist. More importantly, he’d have grown up with a mother he could love instead of one he can barely tolerate. And the shadow of his controlling stepfather wouldn’t have darkened his life.

Furious, his life in pieces, Daniel needs the answer to just one question. Why did Laura Bateman kidnap him?

He’s not sure he’ll ever find out. The woman now under arrest for his kidnap twenty-two years ago isn’t talking. Laura Bateman doesn’t believe a crime has been committed; to her, stealing Daniel seemed her only option at the time. Until she receives Daniel’s forgiveness, something he’s sworn she’ll never get, Laura’s staying silent as to what really happened all those years ago.

There’s a saying that you have to walk a mile in someone’s shoes before judging them. Will Daniel ever be ready to step into Laura Bateman’s shoes?

A tense novel of psychological suspense, His Kidnapper’s Shoes weaves one man’s quest for his identity with one woman’s need to heal her troubled past.

This is the first of four stand alone full length novels written by Maggie James. I read it in early April and then went on to read Maggie’s other three novels. If you are a fan of tense psychological suspense and complex characters, then I’d recommend this book. It got 5* from me and you can read my review of it on Goodreads

 

1faithpeterjamesFaith by Peter James

Book Description:
Ross Ransome is at the top of his profession; one of the most successful, and certainly one of the richest, plastic surgeons in the business. Such a man would expect his wife to be perfect – and why not? After all, he has spent enough hours in surgery to get her that way.

But when his wife falls ill she turns her back on conventional medicine, and her arid marriage, and seeks help from the world of alternative medicine and a charismatic therapist who promises not just medical salvation.

For Ransome, this is the ultimate betrayal. It defies logic, and Ross Ransome is a profoundly logical man. Logically, he can see no reason why any man should have his wife when he can’t. It’s all completely rational…

I am a fan of Peter James novels and this one didn’t disappoint. If you like your antagonist to have a little back story where you can find out why he’s like he is, then you’ll enjoy unraveling the ‘logic’ of Ross in this book. I read Faith in May and my 5* review is here.

Continue reading

Author Interview with Graham Downs.

GrahamDowns

 

Today I’d like to welcome author Graham Downs to the blog. Graham has written 5 books in a range of genres including mystery and paranormal flash fiction. Thank you Graham for taking part, lets begin:

 

1. What was the first piece of fiction you wrote and what was it about?

When I was still at school, I “read” (played) a lot of Gamebooks. My favourite by far was the Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever.

At the age of about eleven or twelve, I wrote one of my own, on my father’s computer, in an old version of WordPerfect. This would’ve been around 1991 or 1992.

I can’t remember very much about it, and it’s unfortunately been lost now – no Dropbox back then. What I do know is that you, as the protagonist, played the role of a contemporary secret agent. I distinctly remember one scene where you had to follow a trail of “stompies” (cigarette butts in South African slang) to track someone down.

I’m sure it was very bad, and it’s therefore probably a good thing that it’s been lost to the sands of time!

2. You say in your blog that you published your first book, Petition to Magic, at the age of 32. What led you to write and publish it at that stage of your life?

1Petition to magic I’ve always been interested in storytelling, from those humble beginnings in Primary School, right through High School and beyond. After Gamebooks, I graduated to tabletop roleplaying. My first foray was a game called AmeriCHAOS 1994, and later I discovered Dungeons & Dragons and eventually GURPS. I’ve experimented with many other systems since then as well – far too many to count.

I used to lament the fact that I always ended up being the Game Master in our sessions, but in truth I wouldn’t have had it any other way because it gave me the chance to do what I loved best, which was to tell my stories.

Despite all this, I never ever considered actually pitching a story to an agent and trying to get it published. It just seemed like far too much effort, for very little gain.

In 2012, I happened to meet a man on Twitter, by the name of Ryan Peter. He was (and is still) a Christian, like me, and we hit it off. I discovered that he was in the process of self-publishing his book, When Twins War. Once he was finished, I went out and bought an e-book copy, and really enjoyed it.

The rest, as they say, is history. I mean, what a pleasure! Here was this technology that allowed anyone to tell any story they liked, put it out into the world in a matter of hours, and get instant feedback. No hoops to jump through, and no-one to tell you whether your story is or isn’t good enough to reach readers.

As an added bonus, I realised that the process was a little bit technical (he self-published first on Smashwords, which admittedly isn’t the simplest platform to use). Me being a computer programmer by trade, it seemed the perfect combination of my two great loves.

I was hooked, and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon.

Continue reading