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Death in Dulwich – Q and A with Alice Castle – BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to welcome Alice Castle to acrimereadersblog. Alice is the author of Death in Dulwich, which I was lucky enough to read on a recent train journey down to London.

Death in Dulwich introduces us to single mum Beth. She has recently got a job as an archivist in a local school. However her first day doesn’t really go to plan when she discovers the body of her boss. Obviously Beth is one of the first to be a suspect so she sets out to clear her name.

Thanks for joining me Alice. I enjoyed Death in Dulwich, and thought the character of Beth was great. Did your writing skills come naturally or did you have to attend courses to help you develop that creative side?
I’ve always loved to write. When I was about ten I started my first magazine, Good Mousekeeping. By the age of eighteen I had a holiday job on Woman’s Own. My first newspaper article was published in the Sunday Telegraph when I was twenty. When I left university, I started work on various newspapers including The Daily Telegraph, The Evening Standard, The Daily Mail, and The Times. I worked on The Daily Express as a feature writer for six years, then moved to Brussels and worked on both the English language magazines there, The Bulletin and Away. Brussels inspired my first novel, Hot Chocolate, which was initially published in German. Then when I returned to the UK I started editing and writing for the European Commission and then eventually produced Death in Dulwich.

Good Mousekeeping sounds a great read! What books/authors inspired your writing journey?
The first book I fell in love with was The Horse and His Boy by C S Lewis but I loved everything by E Nesbitt, Nancy Mitford, and P G Wodehouse, then progressed to crime via Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, P D James, and Ruth Rendell. There’s nothing nicer than discovering that an author I click with has written a whole series for me to devour. I do read more hard-boiled crime, like Jo Nesbo and Patricia Cornwell, but I have a special place in my heart for cozy crime, where the puzzle is more important than blood on the carpet – or walls.

Do you have any writing rituals? What are they?
I always write first thing in the morning, even though I’m not really a morning person. I write at least a thousand words a day if I’ve got a book on the go. Sometimes that can be done in a flash, sometimes it can take hours. If I’m at the editing stage, I do as much as I can bear!

If you could have written any literary character, who would it be and why?
Oh, I’d love to have written Elizabeth Bennett. She’s a wonderful heroine whose firecracker spirit has resonated down the years and inspired so many other writers and film makers. She grows so much during the course of the novel and her scenes with Darcy are some of the finest and most complicated prose I’ve had the pleasure to read.

Within your genre, is there a subject that you would never write about? What? Why?
I don’t think I would ever dip my toe into writing about really sadistic killings. I just don’t enjoy reading about torture, and I think I would hate writing it too – though of course a simple stabbing is absolutely fine!

Thanks very much Alice. Death in Dulwich is out now:

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Broken Branches – Q and A with M Jonathan Lee BLOG TOUR

I was lucky enough to be contacted recently by Hideaway Fall, a new publisher based in Yorkshire. They  asked me to join the blog tour for an interesting novel, Broken Branches by M Jonathan Lee. Broken Branches is about Ian and his wife and son who move into the family home after the death of his brother. When things start to go wrong, Ian sets out to prove that the cottage is cursed. This is a story of grief and a families reaction to tragedy that I really enjoyed. It is an intriguing read and I’m delighted to be able to welcome the author M Jonathon Lee to my blog.

Thanks for joining me Jonathon. Firstly can I ask, what was the inspiration behind Broken Branches?

A very good question. My grandfather passed away the year before last at age ninety-seven. As a family we began looking through some old documents and I realised that in each generation a child had predeceased their parents. This got me thinking about a potential ‘curse’. Further to this we found an old photograph, about a hundred years old, which simply said “George, the Dog Hanger” on the back. This became part of Broken Branches. It’s funny where inspiration suddenly appears from.

Do you have a ‘day job’? Or do you write full time?

I write full, part, time! After my third novel (A Tiny Feeling of Fear) I gave up my well paid job in this city to focus on writing. I do still spend a day or two a week working on tax and accountancy, but have far more time to write nowadays.

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

I tend to get up around 7 and begin writing as soon as I’m up. Definitely in my PJs. I tend to write until 11ish and then break for a couple of hours. Maybe read or watch a film, or catch up on emails and social media. I then begin again and maybe do another three hours in the afternoon. I’m unhappy if I don’t get to 3,000 words a day.

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

I get a lot of pleasure from the simple things such as gardening or taking the dog out. I also really enjoy watching films. I’m fairly easily pleased to be honest. If I can have the perfect evening give me loud music at a gig any day

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Yes. I tend to develop an obsession with a writer and then read everything I can get my hands on. I go through long phases of reading true crime or biography and then back to novels. Joseph Connolly never fails to excite me. I’ve just finished a marathon of everything Vincent Bugliosi ever wrote which included buying old out of print copies online.

Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on next?

I’ve just about finished my fifth novel, How Was I Supposed to Know How It Would Be? This book focuses on a man who would do anything to swap his life for the relative peace and ease of his neighbour opposite. But, how much does he actually know about what happens across the road. And when he finds out does he really want to swap?

That sounds fascinating, no one really knows what happens behind closed doors!

Thanks very much for joining me Jonathon, and I would highly recommend reading Broken Branches.

Broken Branches by M Jonathan Lee is out now (£8.99, Hideaway Fall)

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Marked for life – Q and A with Emelie Schepp BLOG TOUR

Today I’m delighted to welcome Emelie Schepp to acrimereadersblog. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Emelie’s great new novel Marked for Life. This is the first in a trilogy set in Sweden featuring public prosecuter Jana Berzelius.

Thanks for joining me Emelie, I thought Marked for life was a great novel dealing with some very harrowing events. What was the inspiration behind Marked for Life?

Thinking of a good story it is not always about how a victim was murdered, it is the characters and the interaction between characters that readers remember. And in my debut novel MARKED FOR LIFE I wanted to write about a woman that was odd. But I did not know how odd she was about to be until I read an article about child soldiers. In 2012 there was a huge debate about child soldiers after the viral movie “Kony 2012”.  The movie was about Joseph R. Kony who is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) a guerilla group that formerly operated in Uganda. He has been accused by government entities of ordering the abduction of children to become child soldiers. Over 66 000 children became soldiers. As I read the article I remember starting to question myself: “What happens when a child is forced to be a solider? And what if that solider wants to be a child again? Is it even possible?” I also started to think about what would happen if there were child soldiers in Sweden. If I wanted to use the child soldiers in my novel, where in Sweden would I find these children? I know it sounds very strange, but I had to find children that no one would miss, nor search for. Abducting a child in a playground leads to a media storm and I  did not needed the abduction to take place in secret, without anyone knowing.  

One evening as I watched the news I saw a truck with a container that had overturned on a highway. And when the police arrived at the scene they found several refugees in the container. They had not been registered at the border. They were illegal. No one knew they were in Sweden. So, I went down to the port of Norrköping and looked around. When I saw all the thousand containers I realized that anything could be hiding in them, including children, that’s how I come up with the story about Jana Berzelius. 

Do you have a ‘day job’? Or do you write full time?

I have now sold almost one million copies of my books in 29 countries around the world, so I am lucky to be a writer full time today!
Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you? 

I usually get up at 06.15, making coffee before waking up my kids and getting them to school. Then I sit down in front of my computer and write. The time between 8 am and 12 am is my writing time. I usually never answer my phone or any e-mail, I just write. At 12 I have lunch with my husband and he usually walks me through my author schedule – travels, signing-tours, book-fairs, and such. I am very blessed to have my husband working full time with me. We are partners in crime, business, and love. 

After lunch, I read the text through, and do some editing. Around 3 pm, me and my husband go for a walk or run, discussing the plot, a character, or a scene. 

At 4 pm, our kids come home from school and then we help them with homework or drive them to their soccer, or tennis practice. 

After dinner, or when our kids have fallen asleep, me and my husband work for a couple more hours. Then we always end the day watching a tv-series or a movie. 

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

For me, the idea of an “extra” day is simply too good to let pass by. I have tried so many times but I am really bad at doing nothing. If it was a sunny, warm afternoon, I would definitely spend the afternoon with my husband and kids, preferably we would have a picnic on the beach. 

A picnic on the beach sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon to me! Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Yes, I am an avid reader. My favourite authors and recommended reads are Jo Nesbø’s Phantom, Lars Kepler´s The Sandman and Roger Hobbs’ Ghostman. 

I’m a big fan of Jo Nesbo too, I haven’t read any Roger Hobbs though so will look out for him. Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on next?

Right now, I am reading, editing and polishing the fourth book in the series about Jana Berzelius and it is called Daddy’s Boy. The book will be available in Sweden August 21, 2017. Hopefully it will be available in UK in a couple of years. I am really looking forward to having Marked for Revenge and Slowly We Die available in UK and I do hope that readers will enjoy the first in the series: MARKED FOR LIFE.

Thanks very much for joining me Emelie, I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Emelie Schepp’s Marked for Life is out 6th July (HQ, £7.99)

Find out more at her website http://www.emelieschepp.com

Instagram @emelieschepp

Twitter @emelieschepp

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Soho Honey – AW Rock Q and Q – Blogival Tour

For my second act of the Blogival festival I’m delighted to welcome A.W. Rock to the ‘stage’ author of the gripping Soho Honey.

Hi and thanks for joining me. I believe you spent a while working in Soho, are the characters in your novel inspired by real people?

I have spent both my working and social life in Soho. I have worked in the film industry shooting, editing and dubbing tv commercials, pop promos and short films. Then at the end of the day socialising with with a wide variety of people that I have met in the bars and clubs. Some of these people have influenced the characters I have created in Soho Honey. No character is based on any one person but I have taken a variety of characteristics from people and distilled them into the characters in the book. A couple of the characters are a combination of only two people I have known e.g. Snowman and Mikey. Whereas others are a mixture of people I have known.

There was a lot of characters within your first novel, do you have any kind of system for keeping track of them?

I know them all so well that they are like real people to me and so I  don’t have a problem keeping them in mind. Also when they appear in the story they are relevant to that particular scene and since I know them so well I don’t have to give their characteristics a second thought.

What is your typical working day like, are you still involved in directing?

When it’s a day that I am going to spend writing I break the ice by taking an empty foolscap pad and writing my first thoughts down without trying to make any particular sense or being grammatically correct. I speed write one or two pages and then I’m ready to start the day on my latest project. It is a free thought process that allows me to open up my mind to work on the book or the screenplay. I then find it much easier to get involved in to the world that I’m writing about. I’m not making as many films as I used to but we had great fun shooting, editing, creating the music and dubbing the one and a half minute film trailer for Soho Honey which appears on the website sohohoney.com .

What is your ideal afternoon off work?

To go into Chinatown for a dim sum lunch. Then to Bar Italia for an espresso and one of their custard tarts. Then to watch a film in the cinema on Shaftsbury Avenue. Then go to one or two of my favourite bars in Soho and see who I bump into.

Do you read a lot yourself and if so who are your favourite authors?

Ross Macdonald – for his strong storytelling and strong dialogue. He comes from a crime writing period in the USA that for me is story-telling at its best. Raymond Chandler – for his wry observations of human behaviour and his dry ironic dialogue.  Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley books – because of the sense of foreboding that saturates her stories and her insight into the strange character of Ripley. Gogol – although not exactly a crime writer I love his engaging short stories that contain elements of crime, in an existential way.

What are you working on next?

I am writing a 60 minute pilot episode for a new tv series called Lying Low in Soho. It incorporates some of the characters from Soho Honey but with a totally new story. I have not shown it to anybody yet so it is as yet uncommissioned but I’m looking for a tv production company who would be interested in producing it. I have also got the skeleton of the story for Soho Honey, Book Two and will be writing it ASAP.

Thanks very much for joining me and I look forward to reading the next installment of Soho Honey.

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