Canine Characters in Fiction

Many fictional books include canine characters. They can end up being as popular with readers as their human counterparts. They can evoke a range of emotions, and for those of us who have enjoyed the company of dogs, remind us of those relationships.

In The Abattoir of Dreams, 14-year-old Michael rescues a dog he sees tied up in a yard, adopts him and names him Oxo. This boy and dog partnership created quite an emotional response in readers, with many commenting on it in their reviews.
For example:

‘I have to mention briefly Michael’s relationship with his childhood pet Oxo as well as Liam who he befriends in the boys home. These relationships moved me to tears and are ones that will stay with me for a long time to come.’
(From a review by Sarah Hardy.)

Oxo – although I’m a dog lover – I don’t usually mention animals in my reviews – but seriously – Oxo the dog – the scenes with him and Michael melted my heart – I was literally mush reading them!
(From a review by Sharon Bairdon.)

Every single character will evoke an emotion for one reason or another and that includes Oxo, Michael’s dog.
(From A review by Neats Wilson.)

When I was 8 years old, I overheard that a puppy was due to be put down after its elderly owner couldn’t look after it any more. All day I begged and pleaded with my parents to let me have the puppy. I couldn’t bare the thought of it being put down. The begging worked and Cindy was brought home. Continue reading

Warning! This Blog Post Contains Discussions about Trigger Warnings.

Are more warnings needed in book descriptions?

Is book censorship in danger of limiting creativity and freedom of expression?

 

 

 

I recently watched a discussion unfold on Facebook about whether The Abattoir of Dreams should have trigger warnings in its description. The person who started the discussion stated they had finished the book, thought it was good, but that ‘there really should be a statutory warning on book covers and blurbs, if a book deals extensively with child abuse’.

This comment then led to a debate about the pros and cons of trigger warnings. Trigger warnings are defined as: a statement cautioning that content (as in a text, video, or class) may be disturbing or upsetting.

As the discussion was taking place in a crime fiction group, many people didn’t see the need for warnings as they’d expect topics such as murder and abuse to be included anyway. The overall opinion was that the book description should make the content of the book clear, so that readers are aware of anything they’d prefer not to read before buying the book. I think that this approach is easier for both publishers and indie authors to implement

I asked best-selling crime thriller author, Peter James, for his opinion, and he told me that he never would put warnings on any of his books. His personal belief is that we live in an age where there are far too many warnings anyway. Continue reading

Interview with Tracy Fenton, Founder of THE Book Club – Part Two.

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Today I’d like to welcome Tracy Fenton back to the blog. Due to overwhelming popularity, I thought it only right to invite Tracy back for a second interview. If you haven’t already read the first interview, then you might like to read it here. Thank you, Tracy, for taking the time to answer my questions. Let’s begin.

 

Since your first interview here THE Book Club has grown to now having over 6000 members. How do you keep everyone in line?
I’d love to say with a taser gun and through threats of violence, but the truth is that the group pretty much regulates itself now, as we have such a strong group of dedicated members who are very quick to report “inappropriate” posts or even in the past calm down controversial posts just by being the kind and supportive people they are. We also have a very strong admin team who are online 24/7 watching and lurking and ready to delete when necessary. Shout out to Helen Boyce, Helen Claire, Sharon Bairden, Loo Elton, Teresa Nikolic, Carol Ellis and Sumaira Wilson and obviously Charlie Fenton.

tracy-with-tess-gertsonThere was a lot of excitement about (and photos of) the recent Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. What was your personal highlight of the event?
I had a fantastic time in Harrogate this year and quite a few stand out moments. I was invited to a private lunch with Linwood Barclay which was pretty cool. Listening to Tess Gerritsen (with Tracy, left) speak for an hour on her panel was jaw-droppingly awesome and so inspirational and then getting a signed book and photo with her. Meeting up with several TBC members who I hadn’t actually met in real life before and being able to give them a hug. Sitting next to Linwood Barclay at a private lunch. Meeting up with 4 of the TBC admin team for the first time despite chatting with them 10 times a day for the past year. tracy-with-linwood-barclayTaking a selfie with Linwood Barclay at a private lunch (as seen on the left.) Being invited to a special panel to discuss Mark Edward’s new book The Devil’s Work and finally did I mention I met Linwood Barclay?

 

 

 

How important is knowing authors on social media to your book buying choices? Are you more likely to choose a book by an author you know, rather than one you don’t?
Honestly? Not important at all. I read what I want to read when I want to read it. At the moment I have decided to only read TBC author members during the month of September and only read authors I haven’t read before #cherrypop which I am thoroughly enjoying as I am reading genres I probably would never read before… and some I will never read again. Knowing authors on social media can sometimes be a double-edged sword because I might LOVE them on Twitter and Facebook but I know that I wouldn’t read their book because it just isn’t my type of book, but because there is a social link there is a slight element of pressure to read their book.  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 Tracy Fenton, the founder of THE Book Club.

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You might be asking ‘who is Tracy Fenton?’ Well she is founder of THE Book Club on Facebook. This is a secret group that can’t be found via searching. The only way you can gain access is to be invited by an existing member. Tracy set the group up after becoming tired of the spamming and bad atmosphere of other groups that were too big to be moderated properly. After almost two years the group has become influential for authors and publishers – who often offer exclusive ARC copies of books to club members! The group is made up of a combination of authors and readers and has a really positive, supportive atmosphere.

So, I have asked Tracy (with no ‘e’ –  it’s important to remember that if you’re invited to join the group!) some questions so we can find out more about her, her reading preferences and how she reacts to meeting her favourite authors. Here’s what she said:

Tracy book What was the first book you read that made an impact on you?
Too many books to mention – however Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes was probably the first psychological thriller I had read and experienced some intense emotions including fear, dread and terror that it changed my entire reading tastes as prior to that book I was more of a chick-lit/rom-com type of girl. The Wronged Sons by John Marrs also had a profound effect on me. It was the first time I had ever been compelled to contact an author and tell him how much I loved his book. I messaged him via Goodreads and didn’t actually expect a reply and when he replied almost instantly telling me how important it was to hear from readers, my entire attitude to reading changed and I realised that authors were “human” too and needed love and support and encouragement.

Since setting up TBC, what has been your proudest ‘book’ achievement?
Again too many to mention. My first acknowledgement in a book, being a named character in a book, raising £10k for Cancer Research through our Charity Book Auction. Being contacted by authors asking for “my” opinion… really? Why me? Being contacted by members who tell me how much TBC has changed their reading habits and sometimes their lives.

Tracy with Peter James In a previous interview with #CrimeBookJunkie Noelle Holten, you say that you were a very shy child. Which author have you been the most shy or nervous about meeting?
I would have to say either Peter James (pictured with Tracy, right) or Lee Childs. I am a huge fan of both authors and meeting them at Harrogate last year was almost like an “out of body experience”. However, both Peter and Lee were absolutely wonderful and it was a pleasure and an honour to be able to meet them, have a chat and take some photos. Continue reading