New year, new thing: 255bookreview.com

For the last couple of years I’ve been collating capsule film reviews of every movie I’ve watched (since Feb 2017). It’s a collaborative exercise with a couple of former work colleagues that you can find over at 255review.com (my reviews are tagged “Eamonn”, straightforwardly enough).

It only takes a few minutes to put some brief thoughts together, plus it acts as a personal diary/reminder of what I’ve seen and not seen.

So I’ve decided to branch out from this and do the same for books. In the past I’ve played with the likes of Goodreads and book blogging. I did this a lot when immersed in post-grad study and had to keep tabs on my reading, but the 255 character format I’ve shifted into has the benefit of brevity, being able to fit into a single tweet, plus there’s something of a challenge to get capsule thoughts and a one-line book description together.

I’m also reminded of the value of reviews to other writers, so part of my thinking is that I can cross-post these to Amazon or wherever and pay a little back to the author that way.

I’ve made the decision not to use star ratings or grades out of ten, or anything like that. I’ll work also not to be negative where at all possible; a straightforward “Not for me” will suffice in pretty much most cases I’d have thought. These are, after all, opinions, not reviews as such.

Anyway. Here we go. The new site’s at 255bookreview.com. It’ll take time to get much in the way of content up there, but I’ll try to remember to cross-post links back here too.

In the meantime, East of England is out on 24th January, and can be bought in ebook and paperback here and from all good bookshops, real and virtual.

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East of England festive update

Hi all

Here's where we are with East of England. The book's done, I've approved the final artwork for the back cover, and the project's being sent to print. It'll be rolling through the presses shortly after the Christmas break.

That means that subscriber copies will be posted out mid-January in advance of the official launch of the book on the 24th, for those of you that have gone for paperback options. If you've got an ebook coming your way, then you'll also get an email from Unbound with instructions on how to download your copy. 

I'd hoped to have included a pic of the full back cover, not least because there's a couple of lovely quotes on there from two writers who have read East of England and claimed to have liked it very much indeed! When I've got something to show you, I'll let you have a sneak preview. 

For everyone else, the book’s out on 24th January.

If you want to read East of England before its release, then you can do that by subscribing (it's free) to the bookclub app The Pigeonhole, and signing up to their serialisation of the book; East of England will be released in 10 daily episodes starting 4th January. There's more details on that here

On the assumption that I don't darken your inbox again this side of 2019, then have a fine Christmas and New Year, and I'll see you on the other side of the festivities. 

Thanks!

Eamonn

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East of England is being serialised for free on The Pigeonhole

East of England is being serialised for free on the reading app and “global book club in your pocket” The Pigeonhole, starting on 4th January 2019.

If you’ve not heard of The Pigeonhole, this is what all of that means.

pigeonhole logo.jpg

The Pigeonhole is an app that you download to your phone (Android and Apple versions are available). Via the app you get access to a range of books to read for free. There are two main categories of books: new releases/premieres which are being previewed via The Pigeonhole, and which are available for a limited time only, and classics, which are available permanently.

The app releases a portion of the book in question every day (the app calls them “staves”, as a nod to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which uses the same word to divide its events). So, East of England will be made available in ten daily staves beginning January 4th. This gives the reader a handy daily chunk of the book ideal for commuting, lunch breaks, whiling away a spare half hour in a coffee shop, as a bedtime read and so on.

The app’s interactive, so readers are encouraged to comment on their reading as they go, chat with other app users, and generally make the book a social experience. All of this is entirely optional, by the way; you can either just read the book, or chat with others about it, or go on and write reviews and post them online. It’s up to you.

What’s in it for me as the writer? Well, it’s all about word of mouth, and about hopefully getting folk interested in East of England, having some reviews generated, and most importantly, getting reader feedback in more-or-less real time. I’ll be reading the book along with everyone who’s signed up to sample the book, and will do my best to answer questions along the way!

You can sign up at any time (the sooner the better really, as spaces will be limited to some degree) and the book will be on the site for a month after its release, so don’t think you have to keep up with the daily chunks if life gets in the way.

Here’s The Pigeonhole’s own explanation of who they are and what they do.

Here’s the sign-up page for East of England.

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East of England: crowdfunding/subscription is closed!

That’s it. After 315 days (thought the book reached its funding target back in July), the opportunities to be part of the crowdfunding of East of England have now closed, so that the publishing elves can get on with the business of completing the printing and distribution of the book.

East of England is out on 24th January 2019. It’’ll be available from all of the places that sell books, both offline and online, and can be pre-ordered here (a selection of links for you).

Out 24th January.

Out 24th January.

A massive set of thanks to all of you who’ve contributed to the book’s funding. That list of glory is here if you want to peruse it; just click on the tab marked “Supporters”. Each and every one of you is a patron of the arts, and may use the letters POTA after your name.

The rest of you? You pay retail (see the links above).

Thanks again!

Eamonn

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East of England: cover reveal

Hi all

Here’s the cover for East of England:

East of England cover

East of England cover

Not bad, is it?


As I've mentioned before, the book's released on 24th January. At the time of writing, there's still a last-minute change to be a patron of the book via pledging to the project at the publisher's website. This closes on Monday 3rd December and is the absolute last opportunity to have your name immortalised in the book's credits. Get in while you can! 

East of England can be pre-ordered at all of the places that you can buy books from, both in ebook and in paperback. There's a list of links to East of England's page with a range of booksellers here

If you've already pledged to support the book, then your copy will arrive shortly before the 24th January. 

In a few days, I should be able to give details of a handful of book signings and the like...

Thanks for your support!

Eamonn

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East of England: a brief update

Hi all

Here's where we are with East of England

First, I've had a few proof copies printed up. These are for review and advance promotional purposes only, so that folk can sample the book in advance of publication (and hopefully garner a few supportive quotes for publicity use along the way). They turned up today, and I've posted the first few out, so hopefully, they'll get a positive response!

Second, East of England is now available to pre-order from all of the places that sell books and ebooks: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/East-England-Eamonn-Griffin/dp/1789650143  
Books Etc: http://www.booksetc.co.uk/books/view/-9781789650143
Foyles: https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/east-of-england,eamonn-griffin-9781789650143
Hive: https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Eamonn-Griffin/East-of-England/23300459
Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/east-of-england/eamonn-griffin/9781789650143
Wordery: https://wordery.com/eamonn-griffin-author

Plus your friendly neighbourhood independent bookshop too. Incidentally, buying through Hive - currently, the cheapest as they've got a pre-order offer on - supports your local bookshop, as a percentage of the sale goes to them.
  
That's it for now. Next stop, the cover (mid-December maybe). The book goes on sale on 24th January!
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10 Questions: Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief

Hi all!

Another in my sporadic series of 10 Questions interview / survey things with fellow writers! I know, it’s been a few weeks, hasn’t it? I’ve expanded the casting of my author net a bit, so not all the writers featured from this point onwards are with Unbound. Mind you, that won’t stop me plugging my own noir thriller East of England, which is out on 24th January 2019, and which can be pre-ordered from all the places that sell books, such as here.

Today, it’s the turn of Alison Belsham, whose The Tattoo Thief is out now from Orion:


Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name’s Alison Belsham and my debut novel, The Tattoo Thief was published in September by Orion/Trapeze Books. It’s a police procedural set in Brighton:

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again...

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There's a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims' bodies while they're still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer's next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

AB.PNG

 

Why should folk read your book?

 If you’re the type of reader that relishes a gory serial killer tale with as many twists and turns as there are pages, this might be right up your street. For anyone who knows Brighton or for anyone who has a tattoo there’s an added layer of interest. The pace doesn’t let up for an instant, so it’s great for a holiday read when you want to be swept away by the story.

What’s the appeal of your book?  

I think one of the main appeals of The Tattoo Thief is the dynamic between the two main characters. Francis Sullivan is a young, newly-promoted DI. He’s as far from the usual fictional DI as is possible – he doesn’t drink, he isn’t divorced, he’s fiercely ambitious and he goes to church every Sunday. He crosses paths with Marni Mullins, the tattoo artist who finds the first body. Marni is older and wiser, but she has a dark past and a strong distrust of the police. The pair are thrown together, trying to track down a serial killer who’s targeting the tattooing community – and the sparks start to fly the instant they meet. Add to that the chance to get right inside this serial killer’s head, and you’ll find yourself on something of a roller coaster.


Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

Amazon, Kobo, Waterstones, iBooks and hopefully all good bookshops. Not to mention your local library.

The Tattoo Thief_Approved Visual.jpg

Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I get up at about 7.00 and usually try to go to the gym for a workout or a swim. Then back home for breakfast. My working day varies – sometimes I’m writing all day and at other times I split my time between writing fiction and copywriting, which is my day job. Being a freelance copywriter and working from home, it makes it easy for me to decide how to structure my time between the two sorts of writing. As well as working at home, I inject a bit of variety by also working at the library and in a number of favourite coffee shops. I sometimes wonder what the people on the adjacent tables would think if they knew I was writing a particularly gory murder scene while they’re enjoying their coffee and cake! I usually stop working at around five or six. Living in Edinburgh, there are a huge number of book-related events such as book launches and author talks, so I try to go to these regularly or just out for a drink with fellow crime writers, who despite what you might think, are an incredibly friendly bunch!

          

Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

One of the first books about writing I came across was Solutions for Novelists: Secrets of a Master Editor by Sol Stein. I think this is a brilliant book and though I’ve read many since, this is still a book I turn to when I want to remind myself about some of the basics of writing. I can thoroughly recommend it to novice writers and the more experienced alike.

 

Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

Bleak House – Charles Dickens

Although the latter two are not crime books, these books had a great impact on me when I read them and I think it’s down to the extraordinary characterisation these writers achieve.

           

Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

The Art of Fielding – Chad Harbach

 I don’t think I could ever tire of Rebecca and Cold Comfort Farm always makes me laugh. The Art of Fielding is an extraordinary and moving coming-of-age novel.


Any words of writing wisdom?

I think the last thing any writer needs is words of wisdom from me! There’s a mountain of advice out there for novice writers, with plenty of contradiction – so all I would say is find your own way and your own voice. The more you write, the better you’ll become, but there’s no right way or wrong way – just do it the way that feels right to you. Perseverance is what you need most.

           

Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

The Tattoo Thief – the title says it all!

 

Social media contacts:

Twitter - @AlisonBelsham

Facebook – @AlisonBelshamWriter

Instagram -  alisonbelsham 

Book URL: mybook.to/TattooThiefpaperback 

Website: www.alisonbelsham.com

 

Thanks very much to Alison for playing along!

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East of England's publication date is ...

… 24th January 2019!

A few details here, plus another nudge to pre-order yourselves a copy or two, or even to get in on the pledging and be listed in the book as a patron while that’s still an option.

More information as it emerges, but book-wise, there’s now officially something to look forwards to in the doldrums of late January…

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Benches of Louth now available

Benches of Louth is now available!

Paperback and Kindle ebook options for your reading pleasure here.

There’s also copies at Off The Beaten Tracks in Louth.

I’ve got a limited edition of 50 numbered and signed paperbacks which come direct from me. Perfect for those who fancy a signature in their reading matter, are addicted to numbers lower than 51, and/or don’t want to buy their books via Amazon. As of 10th November, I’ve got 25 of these left. Ideal gifts for the sitter-down in your life.

If you fall into any of these categories, PayPal me £9.99 (make sure there’s a delivery address, and it’s clear who you’d like the book dedicated to, if that’s your wish), and I’ll send a copy out. Just click the PayPal button below to get started. Thanks!

BoL cover 3D.PNG

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Authors Unbound: Nottingham Waterstones 6th October

As part of the ongoing crowdfunding-related shenanigans for my upcoming thriller East of England, I’m involved in a day-long writing event at Waterstones in Nottingham on Saturday 6th October.

Authors Unbound offers a keynote speech from award-winning author Alice Jolly, plus five themed panels with discussions - and audience Q&As on contemporary writing, genre fiction, historical writing, non-fiction and documentary writing, and on comic writing. There’ll be a few readings to round out the day also.

Here’s the running order:

6 Oct running order.PNG

All the writers featured have works either in-progress or published by Unbound. Tickets are £% plus book fee (the fiver’s redeemable against book purchases, which makes it almost free, really!), and can be bought here in advance from Waterstones.

Also, in support of the event, we’ve put together an e-book sampling a fair selection of those in Nottingham on the day. That e-book can be downloaded here (It’s free for a limited time, so gt in quick and you might snaffle a freebie!).

Lastly, many of the writers who’ll be there have been interviewed on this very blog in my 10 Questions series. Have a look-see here:

Eli Allison

Lulu Allison

Tim Atkinson

Stephanie Bretherton

Erica Buist

Sue Clark

Alys Earl

Eamonn Griffin (yes, I interviewed myself)

Maximilian Hawker

Paul Holbrook

Stephen Leslie

Miles Hudson

Patrick Kincaid

Amy Lord

Virginia Moffatt

John-Michael O’Sullivan

Emma Pusill

PJ (Philip) Whiteley

Hope to see you on the 6th October if you’re available, and if not, at least consider downloading the ebook (it’s free until the morning of Tues 25th Sept, 99p thereafter - that’s the cheapest it can be made), as well as checking out these fine author types.

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My book in three books ... I'm interviewed by Mark Bowsher

I’ve been interviewed by the excellent Mark Bowsher of Rabbit Island Productions about East of England. Specifically, about three books which have been - in some way - an influence on the novel.

Here’s the interview.

Mark’s own recently-published novel The Boy Who Stole Time is out now from all good, reasonable, and slightly shabby retailers. You can find out more about his book here.

There’s still time to find more out more about (and to pre-order) East of England here.

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10 questions: Stephanie Bretherton, author of Bone Lines

It’s been a few weeks since the last 10 questions; time for another! Today, my guest writer is Stephanie Bretherton, whose novel Bone Lines is published by Unbound on 19th September. That’s more than enough from me, so here’s Stephanie:


1.          Who are you and what’s your book about?

Great question. The whole process of being published for the first time demands that you ask those two questions until you are no longer sure which way is up! In short, I am a word peddler who feeds her body through copy-writing but has fed her soul by pouring years of love, sweat, tears and lost weekends into a genre-bender of a novel that asks that very same question: ‘who are you?’ 

But in this case the net is cast a little wider to explore what lies at the heart of being human.

SB headshot.jpg


2.          Why should folk read your book?

Because they will never have read anything quite like it! While my tongue-in-cheek ‘elevator pitch’ goes something like “Sole survivor of Clan of the Cave Bear hits The Road with Professor Alice Roberts” it’s always been hard for me to sell the book along the lines of “if you loved (insert bestseller here) then you will love Bone Lines.” It’s a distinctive book that will probably divide opinion, but which, thankfully, every reader so far has seemed to really enjoy. 

3.          What’s the appeal of your book?  

It explores some of the bigger questions but also day to day dilemmas of love and survival... and, so I am told, keeps you rooting for its pair of unique; and courageous heroines, whose stories are told in a dual narrative set many millennia apart.

4.          Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

It is available from 19th September paperback or e-book on most major retailer sites (Amazon UK and Waterstones as examples), and a wide range of indie and high street bookshops.

BoneLinesFrontCoverAug18-HighRes.jpg


5.          Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I still run my PR and communications business full time, so there’s no typical day for writing fiction, except the weekends. I was so fired up for the first draft of Bone Lines, however, that for the first six months I was up at the laptop every morning from 6 to 8:30! Then researching at lunchtimes and evenings. The various rewrites and edits (and the skeletons of the two sequels) were written mostly during weekend  afternoons - at no small cost to my back or my personal life. But like most authors I’m passionate about what I do and have little choice but to do it. 


6.          Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

 Oddly enough, I found something called Fiction: The Art and the Craft on a neighbour’s wall among other cast offs recently, but haven’t opened it. I tend to write organically then edit later, but the whole process of editing Bone Lines with professionals (even before I submitted to Unbound) has taught me so much. Otherwise I tend to find useful essays on writing or the creative process online. For example, Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings is a fantastic site. 


7.          Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

I know everyone must say this, but only 3? That’s brutal. But in terms of early inspiration for unforgettable characters and atmosphere, Perfume, for ‘social’ influence then To Kill a Mockingbird, and for sheer mind-blowing literary mastery, The Road


8.          Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without: 

Not sure I couldn’t live without any of these, but because I can have only 3 then range and variety would be a good thing:

Poem for the Day, an anthology edited by Nicholas Albery for Random House – yup, 365 of them from classic to contemporary

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (might go as mad as Lear on my blasted island, but there’s nothing about human experience that the Bard hasn’t covered.)

And the book I’m re-reading now and so would hate not to finish, The Chymical Wedding by Lindsay Clarke, which would also offer some great inspiration on being ‘one’ with my island.


9.          Any words of writing wisdom?

Write the first line. Just write it. Then a paragraph, then a page. Delete if nothing works, but something probably will. You have to keep the cogs oiled and machinery moving. Look for ideas and inspiration everywhere, documentaries, news items, overhead conversations. Don’t bend your style or passion to suit a genre or a trend – write what you want to write, and from the heart. But (and this is one I need to keep learning) don’t fall so much in love with your characters that you find yourself protecting them from the plot! 


10.          Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Oh, yes please, let’s! But I have already covered that above? Though maybe in the movie version, the cave woman would ‘meet’ the scientist on some kind of hallucinatory trip? There’s so much you can do with the medium of film that you can’t with prose, so I’d like to see all the audio-visual potential explored. And the soundtrack! How much fun would that be? Anyway, Cate Blanchett would be ideal for Dr Eloise Kluft, and the young prehistoric shaman character would be a great ‘breakout’ role for an up-and-coming actress of colour.

Web/Social media

Website:  http://stephaniebretherton.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrethertonWords1/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrethertonWords

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brethertonwords2/?hl=en

Huge thanks to Stephanie for her time! I’ve got a copy pre-ordered, so I’m looking forward to reading Bone Lines

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10 questions: Lulu Allison. author of Twice the Speed of Dark

Today's Unbound-published writer is Lulu Allison, who's here to tell us all about her novel Twice the Speed of Dark. Straight over to Lulu:

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Lulu Allison and my book, Twice the Speed of Dark, is about a mother coming to terms with the death of her own daughter at the hands of a violent boyfriend. Furious that people pay so little attention to such domestic murders, she expands this observation of indifference and begins writing portraits of the ignored dead, strangers who die in terror attacks in far-away lands. It is an experiment in caring about the deaths of strangers, an experiment in empathy and love.

Lulu Allison.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book? 

If folk are interested in books driven by the internal, by people’s psyche, by their struggle and survival, if they are interested to think about how a strong young woman comes to fall into a relationship that robs her of her ability to protect herself from harm, they should read my book

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

I am particularly happy with the portrayal of death, from where the daughter reclaims her story and shares it with the reader. It is a cosmos with which I have taken liberties, made the darkness a material, made speed and arc its structure. I hope people will enjoy the language and the exploration that both central women are forced to make in order to move forward from the bleak place they find themselves.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

http://www.kemptownbookshop.co.uk

http://city-books.co.uk

amazon.co.uk/Twice-Speed-Dark-Lulu-Allison-ebook/dp/B077919TGJ/ 

Lulu Allison cover.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it: 

I start early, sometimes in bed. Then coffee and some kind of action - mad tidying up or I put on a 70s funk and soul playlist and have a dance. Then I write a bit more. Some days I only write a few hundred words, others a couple of thousand. I don’t have much of a pattern to it. I write in our living room so am at the mercy of the rest of the household, so I tend to be opportunistic and try to maintain rigorous flexibility - if you know what I mean! No point in letting patterns creep in. 

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it? 

I haven’t read any books about writing. I didn’t know I wanted to write until I started so didn’t do much prep. Turns out I learnt quite a lot about writing from having been an artist - try, fail, be rejected, experiment, explore, don’t be precious, edit like hell, value the work and do the work,  - it’s all there in an art practice too.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer: 

The Emperor’s Babe - Bernadine Evaristo

Paradise Lost - Milton

In Our Mad and Furious City - Guy Gunaratne

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without: 

King Lear - William Shakespeare

Life and Fate - Vassily Grossman

Night Train: The Sonny Liston Story - Nick Tosches

9. Any words of writing wisdom? 

See above: try, fail, be rejected, experiment, explore, don’t be precious, edit like hell, value the work and do the work. 

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch: 

In a perplexing cosmos, a purgatorial darkness black as pitch, a young woman reels in her story from the burning arcs of space to tell herself back together, to heal the undoing of the coercive violence that killed her.

Meanwhile, safe but imprisoned under the softening sky of earth, her mother learns finally to carry her grief by writing portraits of strangers who die in distant wars. 

Piece by piece, after the eviscerations of violent death have flung them apart, mother and daughter finally pull themselves back towards each other.

Social media links:

Twitter: @luluallison77

Website: LuluAllison.net 

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/twice-the-speed-of-dark/ 

 

As ever, huge thanks to Lulu for submitting to the rigours of the questionnaire. Twice the Speed of Dark is out now, so pick yourself up a copy!

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10 questions: Stephen Leslie, author of Sparks

A quirky one today from the upcoming Unbound list of crowdfunded books (my own offering is here, by the way)! Here's Stephen Leslie to explain more ...

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Stephen Leslie and my book SPARKS is a collection of short stories inspired by photographs I’ve taken over the past twenty years.

Stephen Leslie.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because there is genuinely nothing else like it out there. I’m a well-known street photographer but I’m also a screenwriter, so this is a unique book in which I make up fake contexts for my photographs. It’s funny, aesthetically pleasing and mischievous. 

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

We are constantly bombarded with images but rarely have the time to stop and consider them in any great depth. What SPARKS tries to do is get the viewer to slow down for a moment and imagine where these 80 photographs might lead. In this way you can look at a photograph of a man standing on the Holloway Road dressed as a pirate and then read about how he’s dreaming of a way to escape from his career as a chiropodist, or find out what happened to the man with the a giant python I photographed being arrested in a children’s playground....   

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

The hardback book will be in the shops / available online from August 23rd but it can be pre-ordered now (for a discount price) on Amazon. 

Stephen Leslie cover.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

It depends what I’m working on. I write film and TV scripts for a living so my day is either about researching those projects, writing the actual scripts or shouting / weeping down the phone to my agent. In the time left I’m out taking photographs and, currently, trying to organise the exhibition to accompany the book launch.  

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

I’m going to cheat and pick a book by an American street photographer. Sidewalk was the first book by Jeff Mermelstein. It’s truly amazing but it doesn’t contain a single word, there’s no introduction and none of the photographs are titled. However, his photographs are stuffed with potential, he captures utterly surreal moments that take place in Manhattan and from repeatedly devouring this book I’ve learned so much about the power of suggestion and the way that narrative can be implied by a look or a tiny detail. His work has been a massive influence on both my writing and my photography and indeed what my book, SPARKS does is to try and extend out from a photograph and fill in the blanks. 

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Kevin Barry’s short story collections, There Are Little Kingdoms and Dark Lies The Island are both fantastic. Denis Johnson’s Jesus Son is magical and the collected stories of Raymond Carver is pure gold.  

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

10th of December by George Saunders.

All of the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn.

And a huge compendium of street photography featuring all my favourite photographers!

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Good ideas are sticky and magnetic, they won’t go away and they fire off in all sorts of unexpected directions. Plan but don’t be afraid to change as you go along. Follow your gut. And most of all, it’s as much about re-reading and re-writing as it is about writing.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

It’s impossible to make as a film. And, given my day job, it’s the last thing I’d ever want to do. I wrote this as an escape from the bloody film industry.

Social media contacts:

Website: www.stephenleslie.co.uk

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/sparks/

 

Huge thanks to Stephen for his time and his answers! As he says, Sparks is available from all good bookstores, real and virtual, from 23rd August, so you've really got no excuse to avoid getting yourself a copy!

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10 questions: Miles M Hudson, author of 2089

Hi everyone

Today's guest author is Miles Hudson, who's kindly submitted himself for the 10 Qs treatment. Here's Miles to talk about his forthcoming futuristic thriller 2089, which is being published by Unbound, with a street date of 20th September 2018.

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I'm Miles M Hudson.

2089 is an action adventure, with socio-philosophical themes about surveillance in society, the over-reliance on technology, and how human communities should be structured, in order to make for a happy life?

Set in 2089, in the ultimate surveillance society. They’ve developed a system for remotely tapping into your optic and auditory nerves. Everything that you see and hear is detected and published publicly online; nothing you see or hear can be secret.

The action of the story has one of the surveillance policemen blow up the old GCHQ building in Cheltenham, to destroy the surveillance computers and release everyone from what he sees as an Orwellian nightmare. He goes on the run across post-apocalyptic, climate-changed Gloucestershire, until a ragtag posse eventually catches him and brings him back to trial, where the people, who’ve never known privacy, don’t understand his ideas at all.

Miles Hudson author pic.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book?

The page-turning action adventure will also stimulate them to think about a whole range of philosophical questions.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It’s scarily topical - current world events could easily slip into the cataclysm that leads to my imagined 2089.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

Published by Unbound on 20th September. So, all good bookshops or ebookshops. 

2089.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I read the papers with a cup of tea in bed, and make it to my desk by about 930am. Work till about 2 pm, lunch, and then wander into Durham for a coffee and Private Eye. Either go swimming, or play hockey in the evening.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Stephen King’s On Writing. His analogy of writing as palaeontology really resonates with me. The dinosaur skeleton is already there, and complete, and our work just brushes away the dirt to reveal that complete story. I regularly feel like I’m just channelling the characters, who go off and do things on their own and I just record it, rather than invent it.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Great Expectations.

The OED.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

I rarely read books a second time. There aren’t any I ‘couldn’t live without’. There are so many books in the world and not enough lifetime to read them all, I feel like reading a book again is wasting that time when I could be discovering a new one. Ok, so that’s the opposite of living on a desert island, but, um, it is the reason why I can’t pick these.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Everything is valid.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

The movie will have constant tension as the hero is constantly looking over his shoulder to evade the surveillance and the posse.

The cinematography will blow the viewer away: climate-changed and post-apocalyptic Gloucestershire, with repeating allusions to the strength of nature that Man could not destroy - the phases of the Moon and the surge of the River Severn’s tides. Whilst the book is along the lines of 1984 meets Station Eleven, the movie has a real chance to hit the qualities of both Blade Runner films.

Social media contacts:

FB: Miles Hudson author

Twitter: @milesmhudson

https://www.mileshudson.com

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/2089/

Previous publications:

The Cricketer’s Corpse

About 20 physics textbooks. Most recently Edexcel A Level Physics Books 1 and 2 

 

Massive thanks to Miles for playing along. As he said, 2089 is out in September. so hopefully there's something here to intrigue you about the book!

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10 questions: PJ (Philip) Whiteley, author of The Rooms We Never Enter

Hi all

Today's Unbound Publishing author discussing their new/upcoming book in a ten question style is PJ (Philip) Whiteley. So, let's get straight to it! 

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

PJ (Philip) Whiteley. The Rooms We Never Enter is a contemporary drama, a romance with some comedy, so maybe a rom-com, discuss. It’s set mostly in Leeds, and features the on-off relationship between a successful entrepreneur and a single mum on minimum wage.

PJ (Philip) Whiteley. Photo credit: Ben Bowles

PJ (Philip) Whiteley. Photo credit: Ben Bowles

2. Why should folk read your book?

I’ve been told it’s sweet, funny with some depth. It questions the extent to which gender roles have changed substantially in modern Britain, though it isn’t an issues-led book; the relationship is always centre stage. Both characters have been unlucky in love and yearn for someone who will care for them.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

I think that there is humour in the exchanges, and drama in the clash of cultures. There are twists that I think will be unexpected, and some changes of fortunes for the two main characters. I hope the reader will be rooting for them. I think the insecurities of an apparently successful man may surprise some readers.

4Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

When I reach target in the crowdfunding campaign! I’m past half way, so I hope that this will be by the end of 2018.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I’m a full-time writer, so my typical day is writing from around 8.30 in the morning til 5 in the afternoon, and sometimes a little in the evening, though I often take a long lunch break. I do paid-for commissions in non-fiction – business writing – and I spend as much time on fiction as I can.           

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

George Orwell’s Collected Essays contains timeless advice, including the famous one about the English language. He taught me most of what I needed to know to become a professional writer.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

As mentioned, Collected Essays & Journalism by George Orwell. I was also inspired by Pratt of the Argus by David Nobbs and Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, as styles I could emulate; I acknowledge I’m never going to approach the genius of my three favourite books (see below), with all due respect to David and Nick.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

This is an easy question, because for years I have referred to the ‘holy trinity’ – three books of unsurpassable beauty and genius that they belong in a separate category: 100 Years of Solitude and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Plague by Albert Camus. Why does no one attempt books like these anymore?

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Draw upon your personal experiences, and tap into your emotions. Craft is not enough. There is too much non-fiction in many modern novels.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

This is Bridget Jones meets Fever Pitch; two complex and likeable characters yearn for each other in a funny and subtle romcom after meeting near a football stadium. But can their love conquer the social divide? (John Simm and Angela Griffin are both from Leeds, and would be perfect for the roles. So casting is easy)

Social media contacts:

Twitter: @Felipewh

Facebook: PJ Whiteley author page https://www.facebook.com/PJWhiteleyauthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/rooms-we-never-enter/

Previous publications:

Close of Play, Urbane Publications, 2015.

Marching on Together, Urbane Publications, 2017, with a cover commendation by Louis de Bernières

Massive thanks to PJ for playing along! As he says, The Rooms We Never Enter is currently crowdfunding via Unbound, so please check out the book on Unbound's website and consider pledging to make this book a reality. 

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10 questions: Emma Pusill, co-author of The Lido Guide

Straight to it today, so without any fanfare, here's Emma Pusill to tell us about her book The Lido Guide, coming soon from Unbound Publishing: 

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Emma Pusill, and together with Janet Wilkinson, I’m writing The Lido Guide. It’s just as well you asked what it’s about, because the title is a bit oblique. Maybe we need to work on that.

Anyway, in a nutshell, it’s a user guide to all the publicly accessible open-air pools in the UK and Channel Islands.

Emma Pusill

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because I’ll be massively offended if they don’t.

Aside from sparing my feelings, however, this book will appeal to:

·         Swimmers

·         Dippers

·         Bobbers

·         Non-swimmers who like to hang out in nice places

·         Tea drinkers

·         Cake fans

·         Architecture fans

·         People who need a pitstop during long journies but would rather chew their own left leg off than use service stations

·         Day trippers

·         Sun worshippers

·         Rain gods

·         People who like warm water

·         People who like cold water

·         Picnic lovers

·         Folk interested in community enterprise / volunteering

·         Photography fans

·         Relatives of any of the above who have run out of ideas for what to get said relative for birthday / Christmas gifts

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

Anybody who falls into any of the above categories will find the book invaluable because it will help them to find around 120 outdoor pools, where all of the above passions (and many more besides) can be indulged. It’ll give all the information needed to find and contact the pools, a description of what it’s like to swim there and advance warning of any quirks. You really don’t want to be finding out about coin-operated showers when you’ve already lathered up the shampoo and are frantically trying to make the water work. Yes. That’s bitter personal experience.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

The book is due out in Spring 2019. It’s fully funded, so if you preorder via https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide/ you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home – it’ll land right on the doormat. How cool is that? After launch, it’ll be available online and offline, and you can expect it to be stocked in some quirky places, including pools. Some of those pools won’t even be outdoor pools, which we hope will help bridge the indoor/outdoor divide. And if we can manage to resolve that thorny bit of tribalism bringing together both sides of the Brexit debate should be a doddle.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

My half of The Lido Guide was written, almost entirely, on a sun lounger in Tenerife. You have no idea how much I wish I could say that was typical.

Other writing is squashed in around single-parenting, two fairly demanding jobs and trying (mostly in vain of late) to do some actual swimming.

Because of that I often find I am writing in unusual places. To date these have included:

·         Swimming pool spectator galleries

·         Public libraries hundreds of miles from home

·         Cafes – tip: bacon fat and laptop keyboards will never be best friends

·         Pubs – tip: self-discipline required in even larger than usual quantities

·         Supermarket carparks

·         Atop tiny single beds in cheap B&Bs

·         A-road laybys

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

It’s the only book I’ve read that could even remotely be said to be ‘about writing’. Which makes why I have chosen it plain.

But isn’t it just about running, I hear you ask? Well, yes. Mostly. But it also sheds light on Murakami’s approach to writing, what he sees as good qualities for a novelist and writing’s place in his life alongside running.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Jenny Landreth’s Swimming London is everything a good guidebook should be. It captures all the dry, practical knowledge and coats it in personal experience.

Bella Bathurst’s The Lighthouse Stevensons was the first book I read that showed me how factual material could worked into a captivating story akin to a novel.

Dava Sobel’s Galileo’s Daughter deftly draws together what is known from historical evidence, and what can only be extrapolated from that evidence in a work that bridges the gap between fact and fiction. I write some fiction, although not as much as I’d like to, and I invariably find that what I write is part fact, part fiction. I don’t usually set out that way, but that’s what seems to want to come out of my fingers. The piece I had published in Watermarks, an anthology edited by Tanya Shadrick, is a perfect example of that. A story built on a foundation of fact, but nevertheless not factual.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

An etymological dictionary

Essential Sources In The Scientific Study Of Consciousness – Baars, Banks, Newman

Feminism and the Third Republic – Paul Smith

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Beyond extolling the virtues of sun-loungers and a warm climate I’d advocate peace, quiet and time. And drafting. And re-drafting. And cups of tea.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Two middle-aged women cover thousands of miles, driven by an inexplicable (to their loved ones) need to seek out outdoor pools. Along their way they experience adversity – pools that close because of a drop of rain, pools that are closed when the sign on the door very definitely says open (as does their website), picnics eaten in car parks thanks to said closed pools, traffic jams, flight diversions, testosterone fuelled triathletes having punch ups in the deep end, cafes that have run out of cake. But, ultimately, the adversity gives way to triumph; they swim in the rain, they swim in the sun, they talk to the thousands of humble volunteers who keep pools afloat, they learn about themselves, each other, and the richness of communities where not everything has to be about money.

Social media contacts: @lidoguide on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide/

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10 questions: Virginia Moffatt, author of Echo Hall

Hi all!

Time for another questionnaire-style interview with an author with a book from Unbound Publishing (my own East of England is in edits with them as we speak, and will be out in due course). Today, it's the turn of Virginia Moffatt, who's here to tell us all about her new novel Echo Hall

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Virginia Moffatt. I am a writer from Oxford. After decades of working in social care, I’ve had a few different jobs. I currently work as a Procurement and Contracts Manager in a multi-academy. I’m married with three teenagers who are all in full-time education.

Echo Hall is my first novel. It is about the echoes of history and asks the question, is conflict inevitable or can we find another way?

Virginia Moffatt.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book?

Firstly, I have tried to write a rattling good story and create characters you will care about, and want to follow through to the end. Second, because I think it has something interesting and useful to say both about the nature of war and peace, and the role of women in society. I would hope that it is the kind of book that will linger long after the final page has been read.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It’s got a lot of different elements – gothic, family saga, politics, history – so I think that is appealing to a wide range of readers.  It is also fiercely feminist, with three strong heroines: Ruth in the 1990’s, Elsie in the 1940’s and Rachel whose story runs between 1911 and 1924.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

Please, please, please buy it from your local bookshop, or if you can’t do that order it via Hive, as they will give a donation to your favourite High Street shop. It is also available via the usual online platforms if you prefer them.

Echo Hall.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I don’t really have one, because writing is crammed in the spaces I have between work and family life. I tend to do it in fits and starts, so when I’m in a writing phase, I’ll be up at 6 and write till 7 before getting ready for work, making sandwiches and chivvying teenagers out of the house. When approaching a deadline, I’ll probably be continuing in the evening after tea, between 7 and 9, and for as much of the weekend as I can get away with. From time to time, I go away on writing retreats which are very productive as I can please myself and will write from the moment I wake till the moment I go to bed. 

I tend to finish a draft and leave it to cook for a bit. So if I’m not working on a nonfiction project or blogging, or posting guest articles, I use that time to market my work (currently Echo Hall and an essay collection I’ve edited; Reclaiming the Common Good: How Christians Can Help Rebuild This Broken World.  I am looking forward to a day when I can work part-time and have at least one day a week devoted to writing, but that’ll have to wait till the day I get a major book deal!

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.  I had to read a lot of books about writing when I studied for a Diploma in Creative Writing and I found most of them dull and prescriptive. A friend sent me Bird by Bird. I immediately loved the accessible style and the fact that Lamott recognises there are many ways to write - you have to work out what methodology suits you.  I also love the encouragement in the title, drawn from real life experience when the author’s brother was overwhelmed with the enormity of a school project on birds. Their Dad fixed it by telling him to approach it Bird by Bird which is great advice for any project but particularly helpful for procrastinating writers.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Only three? Gosh.

I love Gothic novels, but I think it is Wuthering Heights, that’s had the most impact on Echo Hall. When I was writing, I went back and had a look at how Nelly Dean tells Lockwood the story of Heathcliff and Cathy, to help me write Rachel’s story. For a while, I had Rachel’s son telling this to Elsie when they were trapped in a cottage overnight, but in the end, I changed it to a letter format. However, I hope something of the spookiness of Wuthering Heights remains and there are one or two nods to it in the book.

The structure of the novel is also inspired a bit by David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which is a series of interlocking parts. Each story is told till the halfway point, and then another story begins which has a connection to the previous. The sixth story is told in the centre of the book, and then we get the second half of the fifth, fourth etc till we are back at the beginning. I actually can’t remember if I’d worked my structure out before reading Mitchell’s book, but I certainly recognised the connection by the time I’d finished my first draft. I kept checking Cloud Atlas after that to see how the author constructed it and found that very helpful.

Finally, I reread George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying to get a sense of 1930’s life. Elsie, the second of my three heroines is living in the 1940’s but there are some flashbacks to her life before the war, and Orwell was a definite influence on those segments. He gets name-checked too.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without

The Lord of the Rings. First read it aged 13 and roughly every 18 months/2 years ever since. I love it for its heroism both big and small, huge scope and sense of landscape, journey and adventure.

Cloud Atlas, because it is an astonishing journey through time and space, full of intriguing characters, interesting ideas, heartbreaking situations. Mitchell also uses language and imagery to great effect. It is stunning and I find something new every time I pick it up.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. It’s a brilliant novel about life, death, fate and God with the most heartbreaking last line ever.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Write the story only you can write. Develop a thick skin to deal with the critics. Work hard, experiment, learn from critique. Keep going, and believe in yourself, your time will come.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Three generations of women experience love, loss and conflict during times of war. Is such conflict inevitable or can we find another way?

Social media contacts:

@aroomofmyown1 (twitter) Virginia Moffatt  & Echo Hall (Facebook)

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/echo-hall/

Previous publications:

Rapture and what comes after:  Flash Fiction Collection. Gumbo Press (2014).

Non fiction.

Life without Jargon: How to help people with learning disabilities understand what you are saying (1996).

Reclaiming the Common Good: How Christians can help rebuild this broken world Darton, Longman and Todd.(2017).

‘Nothing More and Nothing Less.’ A Lent course inspired by the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’. Darton, Longman and Todd. (2017).

Huge thanks to Victoria for her time and thought. Can't beat an Owen Meany fan! Echo Hall is out now, so please rush out and grab an armful of copies!

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