East of England blog tour round-up

Over the last two weeks, East of England’s been on a bit of a blog tour, and so it only makes sense to both thank all of those involved and to round up the various posts and reviews into a single posting. As you might imagine, it’s not easy for plucky underdogs like me to get reviews in the press, so every little helps, and that’s where the dedication of book bloggers comes into play.

So, thanks first and foremost both to my publishers Unbound and to book tour organiser extraordinaire Anne Cater. Thanks to each of the bloggers who took part too! In no particular order:

Cheryl MM - who said that East of England is “a clever tongue in cheek nod to the old gangster regimes, but with a small countryside flair to it”.

Novel DeeLights - who hosted a guest post by me; “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me”.

Hayley’s Book Blog - Hayley reckoned that East of England was “near impossible to put down”.

Reflections Of A Reader - who said the book was “great” as well as “dark and brutal”.

Don Jimmy Reviews - who was good enough to host an excerpt from the novel.

Beady Jan’s Books - Jan was kind enough to host a second guest blog post from me, this time on writer characters in movies.

Over The Rainbow Book Blog - who said that East of England was a “gritty, gripping read”.

Anne Cater’s own Random Things Through My Letter Box - Anne kindly hosted a second excerpt from the novel.

The Writing Garnet - who said that East of England was “an impressive roller coaster ride of a novel that left me breathless”.

Check out the links above for the full reviews/posts. Huge thanks again to all who took part!

East of England is available here in paperback and ebook, and from all good online and real-world bookshops. Also, its forthcoming sequel Canine Jubilee is crowdfunding now, and can be supported here.

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Blog tours and reviews

Hi all

Here’s the text of an update I posted over on Unbound’s site for East of England, though it makes sense to have it copied here too.

East of England has been out for a fortnight now, and most folk seem to like it, which is gratifying. If you've been able to leave a review already then thanks very much! If you haven't (or plain haven't got around to reading the book yet), then please consider leaving your thoughts - however brief - on Amazon, on Goodreads, and/or elsewhere on social media. For smaller publishers like Unbound, and for little fish in the writing pond like me, these things really matter, and can help get word of the book out to wider potential readerships. 

If you've not picked up a copy yet, then here's a chance for you!

The publishers have organised a blog tour - basically a sequenced run of interviews, extracts and reviews from crime fiction-oriented book bloggers - which starts tomorrow (Monday 11th Feb, as I'm writing this up on Sunday morning). I'll do what I can to promote this through the ten day run of this tour, but again, anything you can do support-wise (as well as reading what the different bloggers have got to say on the book) is both valuable and appreciated. 

East of England blog tour details

East of England blog tour details

Third, those who've read East of England will have seen (and maybe even read) the opening pages of a continuation novel - the second in a potential series - titled Canine Jubilee. That book again will be crowdfunded via Unbound, and there'll be some stuff coming out about that hopefully in the next few days. 

Fourth and finally, check out my brother Max's page for Field Notes - also being crowdfunded by Unbound - and consider backing the book. Details on that are here

That's everything for now. Thanks for the continued support!

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East of England blog tour details

We’re going on a blog tour. My first, so hold my hand.

Thanks to Unbound for sorting this out in collaboration with Anne Cater of Random Things Through My Letter Box, whose organised the tour. The graphic is by Go Book Yourself. Thanks also to the book bloggers who’ve invited my into their corner of web-space!

East of England blog tour. Anne Cater/GoBookYourself

East of England blog tour. Anne Cater/GoBookYourself

There’ll be a mix of the bloggers’ reviews, some fresh material from me, and a couple of excerpts from East of England. The book’s out in paperback and ebook from January 24th. If you’re minded, you can read sample reviews from folk who’ve read the book before publication at Amazon and at Goodreads.

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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: 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: John-Michael O'Sullivan, author of The Replacement Girl

Today's featured Unbound author (and therefore stablemate of my upcoming noir thriller East of England) is John-Michael O'Sullivan, who's here to talk about his book The Replacement Girl. No messing, it's straight over to John-Michael for the 10 questions treatment:  

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

I’m an architect and journalist, born in Ireland but now based in London. I write about photography, fashion and design for the likes of Esquire and The Observer. And for the past five years, I’ve been working on a book about Barbara Mullen, one of the top models of the Forties and Fifties.

JMOS author pic.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book? 

We tend to take fashion at face value. And that’s particularly true when it comes to models: there are very few books about them, and those that do exist are largely collections of beautiful pictures, of beautiful people, in beautiful clothes. So this is a whole history that’s never been explored. It’s the story of how a profession that barely existed at the start of the 20th century became one of the most exciting, sought-after careers in the world — and the story of the women who became its first stars, a generation of pioneers whose attitudes and aesthetics still shape our notions of beauty today.) 

Most of all, it’s the story of a remarkable character; a girl from working-class Harlem who was catapulted into international society, and who’s always displayed a remarkable knack for being in interesting places at interesting times — from Mad Men-era Manhattan to Paris during couture's golden age, and from Forties Hollywood to life amongst the Sixties jet-set.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

Quite simply, Barbara! Her story offers a perspective on the world of midcentury fashion that no-one ever thought to explore, from the point of view of a group of women whose opinions were never sought. Also, there will be some beautiful pictures of beautiful people in beautiful clothes.

Barbara Mullen

Barbara Mullen

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

We’re currently crowdfunding the biography through Unbound, with the aim to publish next year. We’ve just passed the halfway mark — so technically we’re on the home stretch!

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

By day, I work in a design studio. So writing is the thing I do late at night, slumped on the sofa — or early in the morning, tapping notes into my phone on the Tube to work.

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

Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination — a wonderful exploration of how society shapes language, and of how that affects us both as writers and as readers.

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

Hermione Lee’s spectacular biography of Virginia Woolf; Norman MacLean’s Young Men and Fire: and Francis Spufford’s I May Be Some Time, which traces Britain’s obsession with polar exploration across the centuries.

8. Pick three desert island books.

The ones I go back to again and again are Graham Swift’s Waterland, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence — and, ever since I was eight, Alison Uttley’s A Traveller in Time.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Always read your text out loud. If it survives that test, it’s safe for the real world . . .

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

Love. Hate. Glamour. Betrayal. Success. Tragedy. Frocks.

Social media contacts: 

Twitter: twitter.com/1972projects

Instagram: instagram.com/1972projects

Unbound URL: unbound.com/books/the-replacement-girl

Huge thanks to John-Michael for his time and input. It's well worth having a look at the project's Unbound page, not least for the great array of pledge levels and extras but also for some more incredible photos of Barbara Mullen. Hopefully, you'll be inspired to support the project and make this book a reality! 

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10 questions: Anna Lickley, author of Senseless

Today's Unbound author is Anna Lickley, whose novel Senseless is nearing publication. So, without any further waffle from me, here's Anna:

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

I’m Anna, I grew up in West Yorkshire and am back living up here after about 10 years in Bristol. I had a business teaching British Sign Language and Disability Equality before retiring on health grounds about 8 years ago (I have Neurofibromatosis type 2 and am deaf-blind now).

The great thing about retiring at 38 is that I have plenty of time to write and my first full-length novel, Senseless, follows the lives of Beth and Sam as they grapple through the rollercoaster of life as we all do.

me.JPG

2. Why should folk read your book?

Senseless has characters who readers will grow to love. It is full of surprises, trauma, humour and resilience and everyone will identify with different parts of it. My proofreader asked Unbound to tell me that she ‘absolutely loved it’ and that it made her cry (hopefully laugh too!). All readers so far have been taken by surprise towards the end of the book.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

My editor said that it’s gripping and compelling, it’s very realistic and many people will recognise themselves in it sometimes (not literally). It’s a page-turning kind of book I hope!

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

Senseless is through edits and just awaiting cover design and final tweaks before it can go to Publishingland. Hopefully, all will be ready by the end of summer, which is very exciting. It will be on Kindle and in many good bookshops or available to order from one. You can pre-order from Unbound via my project page (link below)

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

When I was writing Senseless, I tried to write every day, even if I didn’t feel like it at all, I wrote a minimum of 500 words if I could. Other days, I would sit at my computer for hours and only stop writing when my bladder was bursting.

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

Yikes, I haven’t read any! I HAVE read hundreds of fiction books though and I know when I read one that appeals to me. I did Google several sites to ask dumb, basic questions like ‘how long should a novel be?’ (80k seems about average, Senseless is 56k, hey ho). Mostly I write better when it’s just spontaneous.

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

Tough question, I’ve loved many books but I don’t feel they make me want to pick up a pen and write (or turn on my PC and type). Perversely, it has sometimes been not so good books that have pushed me to write. Books I want to answer to.

If I were to pick three compelling books I have loved and admired that are very much ‘my kind of books’, I’d say Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Room by Emma Donoghue.

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

Definitely Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, I have read it about a dozen times (studied it at uni) and always enjoy it. It is a perfect novel on so many levels.

Middlemarch, by George Eliot as it is plenty long enough and I’m happy to read it many times.

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. The book that should have won the Mann Booker. Superb.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Just write your thing and see what happens.

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

OK, so I had to Google ‘high concept’! I get you:

"Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe and be shocked as you travel with Beth and Sam on their messy, unpredictable and addictive journey through life and love."

Social media contacts:

Twitter: @annal_writes

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

Previous publications:

Catch It Anytime You Can available via:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Catch-Anytime-You-Anna-Lickley/dp/099272970X

 

Massive thanks to Anna for answering these questions! Senseless is out later in the summer of 2018. It'll be available for pre-ordering from all the usual physical and virtual book shops, as well as direct from Unbound here

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10 questions: Eli Allison, author of Sour Fruit

As a fan of East coast of England dystopias (my own upcoming novel East of England has a tinge of this in its focus on run-down Lincolnshire market towns and rusting funfair apparatus), I'm really looking forward to Eli Allison's Hull-set Sour Fruit. So, it's straight over to Eli to tell us more: 

eli allison author pic..jpg

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

My name is Eli Allison and my book is Sour Fruit, a dark dystopian. Set in a fictional part of Hull sometime in the future, in a rotting scrap yard of misery called Kingston. Onion has been kidnapped and wakes up earmarked for a skin-trader called The Toymaker. Surrounded by a creeping rot she has just three days to escape before the sold sticker becomes a brand.

 2. Why should folk read your book?

Because if I don’t sell some books soon, I’m going to have to sell my other kidney, I sold the last one to fund my kid’s Unicorn habit, but the pot's running low.

Kidneys grow back right?

3. What’s the appeal of your book? 

It’s not for the faint-hearted, it has spanking swears, riddled with dark themes and has a main character, Onion, that has all the subtlety of a hand-grenade and the charm of diarrhoea. She is my spirit animal.

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

Mid-July is my baby's birthday, but books can sometimes be overdue, suborn little things. You can pre-order now from Unbound.

sour fruit cover..jpg

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

I hit the cheese and crackers hard, coffee harder, and by the end of hour six have stripped off to my underwear in some sort of feral madness, think Martin Sheen in that hotel room, in Apocalypse Now.

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

Novel in a Year: A Novelist's Guide to Being a Novelist by Louise Doughty.

It’s a sweet-tempered guide-dog that eases you around the world of writing. The title is also hilarious. I purchased the book back in 2012; my debut novel comes out this year.

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

Fight Club, the sucker-punch prose of Chuck Palahniuk made me realise I'd didn't need a doctorate in linguistics to write novels. Just a drive to understand storytelling as an art form and a wheelbarrow of imagination.

The Thousand and One Nights also called The Arabian Nights.

I loved the wrapping of stories in other stories. The young wife who tells tales to avoid being killed is herself a story being told.  It's a crazy head melt which I've replicated with Sour Fruit. Onion is telling her story to the interviewer but also telling the stories of the city that someone once told her.

The Handmaiden's Tale, the first speculative fiction novel I ever read and since that's the genre I write you can guess how it affected me. 

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

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: the Trilogy of Four, as a brilliant read, but also as a heavy-duty weapon to pulverise nature with; I don't 'do' outside.

hitch 2.jpg

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, an intelligent and visceral book, that makes me wish I could write better.

The last book I'd take on a desert island?  How To Make Wines at Home: Using Wild and Cultivated Fruit, Flowers and Vegetables. (I don't need your judgment I just need wine.)

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Eli Allison quote .jpg

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

Think Mad Max but instead of the Australian outback it's set in a damp Hull and with an angry 15-year girl, instead of an angry Mel Gibson.

Social media contacts:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eliallison84/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EliAllison3

If you have room, my blog is an OK read: https://www.eli-allison.com/blog-1

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/sour-fruit/

 

Huge thanks to Eli for answering my daft run of questions (and for the artwork!). Hopefully, like me you'll find Sour Fruit intriguing and you'll want to read it!

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10 questions: Erica Buist, author of This Party's Dead

Hi all, today in the ongoing series of questionnaire-style interviews (I must have snatched the idea from distant memories of Shoot! and Look-In! magazines from my childhood, when football players and TV personalities/pop stars respectively would get quizzed in a similar manner about their likes and interests) is Erica Buist, whose book This Party's Dead is currently being crowdfunded via Unbound Publishing. 

Here's Erica to explain more:

EB Profile pic.png

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

I’m Erica Buist and I’m a freelance journalist, mostly for the Guardian. My book, This Party’s Dead, is about the world’s death festivals. It starts with the sudden and unexpected death of my father-in-law (which I wrote about in the Guardian), after which I decided to travel to seven countries to see how various cultures deal more joyfully with death.

2. Why should folk read your book?

It tackles something we will all go through (though I hope your experience with a losing a loved one is less graphic than mine). It’s full of fascinating people, rituals and facts – and editors who have read extracts have informed me they literally both laughed and cried.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It should appeal to those fascinated by how death affects us in our day-to-day lives, and also travel buffs. I’m visiting death festivals in Mexico, Nepal, Sicily, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and Madagascar. There’s also a quick stop off in San Francisco and New Orleans. Come with me!

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

The book is available on Unbound (as I’m writing it, because that’s how fast the modern world moves). It’ll be a little while yet as my final death festival is next September, but subscribers get updates as I go. You can grab a hardback or digital version, and there are even a few cooler options – would you like a bag of traditional Sicilian ‘bones of the dead’ biscotti with your book? Personalised video updates from the death festivals? A Spanish lesson from the author? A couple of people have even pledged for the option to have me call them at a random moment in the next year and rap Alphabet Aerobics.

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

I would LOVE to be the sort of writer with a typical writing day. It’s tricky because I juggle book-writing with pay-the-bills writing, and you never know which will demand more of your time week to week. I write in my basement office (cosy in winter but pains me when it’s sunny outside), where I have two armchairs, a bunch of floating bookshelves with blankets, a desk and a £40 Nespresso machine. My dog sits on the armchair, sleeping or watching me work, until it’s time to go for a walk. If inspiration strikes when I’m away from my desk, I type it all into my phone. I have nearly had several treadmill accidents this way.

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

It’s not strictly about writing, but I like Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey because it dispels those myths that “good writers always write in the morning” or “successful writers write every day” and what have you. Artists over the centuries have had vastly different routines and it’s really fine to pick one that works for you instead of trying to emulate what worked for Sartre (I could never handle that much amphetamine anyway).

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

The first book that made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and it was then that I started understanding the world pretty much entirely through comedy. I also loved the way Jonathan Tropper explored bereavement in How to Be a Widower, moving and heartbreaking and frequently hilarious. And I only got round to reading The Glass Castle this year; it’s a memoir I love for the incredible level of detail she recalls, and the essential ones that made us feel like we know her infuriating parents.

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

Three is SO STINGY. Surely there’s space on this damn island for more than three?! Ugh, fine; I’ll go with The Secret Garden for nostalgia, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin because it’s great and really long (I assume I’ll have a lot of time to kill on this island?) and a book of short stories, so I can feel like I have more books. Maybe One More Thing by BJ Novak.

9.    Any words of writing wisdom?

Writing nonfiction takes a lot of research, so write the parts you know first, the story on which to paint the rest. Then as you research, start to expand and colour it all in.

Don’t forget character, even though it’s nonfiction. The reader needs to know the characters just as much as they do in fiction. I would go so far as to say write nonfiction as if it’s fiction, with all the colour that entails – just make sure it’s true. The book Nine Lives: Life and Death in New Orleans by Dan Baum does this wonderfully.

Interview as many people as you can, and always ask, “Who else should I speak to?”

As I write, I snack on 100% cacao chocolate. Don’t do that. It’s disgusting.

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

Woman is surprisingly devastated at the death of her father-in-law, goes on a quest to see death in a more positive, joyful light. Look, it pains me to say it, but I know the snappy, time-is-money film pitch would be, “Eat, Pray, Love, but funny, atheist, and with dead people”.

Social media contacts:

@ericabuist (Twitter and Instagram)

@thedeathtivals (Twitter specifically about my book)

Website: http://www.thisisnotajourney.com/

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

 

Huge thanks to Erica for answering my questions. I've supported This Party's Dead and hopefully you will too, so that the book becomes a reality sooner rather than later! 

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Details on all of my books here.

10 questions: Alys Earl, author of Time's Fool

Today's fellow Unbound-signed author is Alys Earl. No shilly-shallying today, it's straight on with the interview:

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

I am Alys Earl, and my book – Time’s Fool - is about what happens when the supernatural invades the normal, or, perhaps, when we’re so hungry for something different that we invite those things into our lives.

More specifically, it’s about Steven and Sophia - two young people who experience a coming of age when they befriend a mysterious stranger, and about a monster who still remembers what it was like to be a man. It’s about what happens when those two storylines cross.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because, as well as being a dark, gripping horror novel, it also captures that moment in early adulthood where the future is entirely uncertain, when you are still carrying all the dreams of childhood, but are suddenly aware the world is a much larger and more uncaring place than you’ve ever realised.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It’s a love-song to the Gothic – but it is not an uncritical one. Time’s Fool has all the concerns, themes, and atmosphere the Victorian supernatural fiction, but it questions the place of those things in the modern – and postmodern - world. Plus, it’s spooky and a bit sexy, and that’s always fun.

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

Currently, it’s fully funded and in editorial development with Unbound – which means you can still pre-order it, and be listed as a supporter, on their website www.unbound.com/books/times-fool. However, it will be available to buy online and in bookshops in the autumn.

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

I wish I could make this sound exciting and glamorous! Basically, I get the kids to school, tidy up downstairs, make a cup of tea and then shut myself in the box room to tap out words or do admin until it’s time to pick them up again. I tend to sort out all the plot problems on that second walk, and then can’t work on them at least until my partner gets home, or the sprogs are in bed. That’s the ideal conditions – though I’ve been known to write literally anywhere and on anything I’ve got to hand.

Some days I write a lot - others I just stare at the screen for hours on end wondering why I chose to do this to myself, but either way, I still prefer it to the admin.

Back before I was a parent, I used to write in the evenings with a glass of wine or whisky, or pull an all-nighter if I got into the zone. I miss that sometimes.

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

This is going to sound terrible, but I don’t read books about writing. I’ve always been of the opinion that for every opinion about it, there is an equal and opposite opinion that has just as much in its favour. Besides that, I am really argumentative and hate being told what to do, so I used to get very frustrated, and it was just better for everyone that I stopped. What I do like, though, is writing which deals with creation thematically – so I’m going to go with Baudolino by Umberto Eco, which is an absolutely wonderful book about the power of lies.

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

I don’t think any book has ever had so profound an effect on me as Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber – it’s justly famous, so I probably don’t need to go too deeply in to why, but it simply showed me what could be done language, by story, just by everything. It’s an entirely perfect collection of short stories.

On a similar note, I read Poppy Z Brite’s Lost Souls at exactly the right age, and it was like a punch to the face, to be honest. I don’t think I’ve ever read another book – besides those two – that have actually taken my breath away. I just sat there, staring at the page thinking, “Is fiction allowed to do this?” So, the Carter was possibility, but Brite was permission.

And, finally, going a bit further back, Robin Jarvis’ The Wyrd Museum series – especially the final book, The Fatal Strand was really what set me on this path. I already wanted to be a writer, I have done since forever, but I wanted to do it like that. I wanted to give people the kind of nightmares that gave me – I wanted to make that rich, glowing sense of magic and dread that pervades his work. I still read the series periodically, and it still has that power over me.

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

Nooo! My idea of hell is not having many, many books available at all times! But the ones I couldn’t live without?

Little, Big by John Crowley – people don’t seem to know this one so well as they should do, and it’s really hard to do justice with words. Part myth cycle, part generational family saga, part apocalyptic novel, almost part philosophical mediation, it is a book I could go back to endlessly and never tire of. It tells of the interactions between the Faerie Court and the descendants of a visionary architect, in New York State over the course of the twentieth century and if that sounds really bizarre, then you’re partway to understanding how strange and wonderful this book is. Plus, Crowley’s prose is gorgeous, which is always a plus.

A much more recent one is A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. This one goes right to the heart – AI and genofixing in an imperfect galaxy, a novel about rights, identity, family, and home. I don’t think another book has ever moved me so much.

Then, American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Everyone knows about that now so I don’t need to tell you why it’s so brilliant, but it’s still my favourite book.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

I nicked this from Jane Casey, because she said it to me. Stop apologising for your work.

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

M R James for the student loans generation – what happens when you leave it to the Arts and Humanities students to face the vampires.

Social media contacts:

@alysdragon on Twitter and AlysEarl1 on Facebook

Unbound URL: unbound.com/books/times-fool/

Previous publications:

Scars on Sound – a collection of illustrated ghost stories with a folk horror theme. Available here

 

Huge thanks to Alys for playing along. Anyone who recommends Eco's Baudolino is alright by me. Hopefully, you find Time's Fool intriguing, and you'll get yourself a copy. The book can be pre-ordered here.   

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East of England: now funded, thanks to you!

A catch-up post from the other day, as I've only now come to realise that I've not actually mentioned on here that East of England has reached its funding total, and is beginning its journey from manuscript to printed/digital book! Huge thanks to those who've supported its crowdfunding journey thus far. The actual crowdfunding page remains open for people to pre-order their preferred version of the book. You can find that link, inevitably, here. Pre-orders in this way will ensure that those who've supported the novel will have their names listed as patrons of the project in the book. So, if you wish to be immortalised in print in this way, get on board sooner rather than later. 

I'll keep folk updated through this blog and via emails both from Unbound's website and via my own mailing list (you can sign up to that here). In the meantime, I've got a quick redraft to do. This'll include adding in the names of those who very kindly selected higher-level pledges that bought their (or a loved one's) name to be added into the book, plus a general tidy-up and a clarification of a few plot points. Then, as they say, the hard work begins. Structural and line editing, typesetting and proofing, working towards agreeing on cover art and so on. The slow churn towards publication day. 

In the meantime, writing continues apace. There's every chance that East of England will be beaten into print by another book of mine, but I'll give details on that closer to the time, For now, though, thanks again! 

10 questions: William J Meyer, author of Valkyrie

As part of the crowdfunding and whatnot for my own novel East of England, I'm showcasing other writers who've got projects with Unbound Publishing. Today it's the turn of William J Meyer. Over to William:

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

Hi! My name is William, I am a writer from Wisconsin now living in Los Angeles. I like to write novels, screenplays, plays, and audiofiction. My book VALKYRIE is about a Valkyrie named Hildr recruiting dying warriors for her own secret purpose. The book unites theatre and Norse Mythology to tell an adventure story of both sacrifice and grace.

2. Why should folk read your book? 

I think folks should read my book if they like theatre and myth. Large, explosive stories— but with moments of emotional intimacy. There’s romance and action and environmental concerns and the mystery of life and like much of myth, death and what happens after.

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3. What’s the appeal of your book?

One appeal might be, it weaves between prose and playwriting. Another would be, the notion of nested realities. The reader is an audience member watching a play, but they are also an actor in another, larger play. Also, swords and smooches.

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

VALKYRIE is crowdfunding now on Unbound. It’s about 20% funding at the moment, so if you’d like to help bring the book to print, please visit its page on Unbound. Pledge rewards include concept art and original manuscript pages.

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

Okay, I’ll describe the ideal day, saying the average day contains some bits and pieces of this. It starts with Twitter and breakfast. The Twitter habit is real. Then, a bit of reading to get my brain functioning. Currently, I’m half-way through ANNA KARENINA. Then I’ll do some writing, until about 5pm, and then I’ll take a walk. After dinner, I’ll do some more writing again, until I fall asleep. This sort of schedule is during the writing time I buy for myself with freelance post-production work, an example of which you can see in the VALKYRIE book trailer.

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

I choose Madeleine L’Engle’s WALKING ON WATER: REFLECTIONS ON FAITH AND ART. I like it because it challenges me.

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

GIANTS IN THE EARTH by O.E. Rölvaag for its multi-generational journey of Norwegian immigrants in the United States.

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë for its language and romance, and the religious ligaments that connects its themes.

A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs which, for me, was a revelation not to stifle my imagination. We can write anything. 

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

I’ll go with JANE EYRE again,  NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND by Hayao Miyazaki, and Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS. All these have romance, myth, and adventure to one degree or another.

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9. Any words of writing wisdom? 

Encourage empathy.

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

It’s colorful and full of music, like Coppola’s DRACULA. It’s melancholic and aggressive, like Kurosawa’s KAGEMUSHA. It’s theatrical and raw as an open nerve, like Tyrone Guthrie’s OEDIPUS REX.

Social media contacts: 
Twitter: @byWilliamJMeyer

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

Previous publications:

STRANGE/LOVE, my short story anthology podcast
www.strangelovepodcast.com

FIRE ON THE MOUND, my podcast novel
www.fireonthemound.com

Thakns to William for playing along! Hopefully, there's something about the book whcich intrigues you,and you'll consider supporting his crowdfunding efforts!