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?

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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.

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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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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.

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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: Tim Atkinson, author of The Glorious Dead

As a means of supporting others who are going through - or have gone through - the process of crowdfunding their book projects via Unbound Publishing (my own humble effort East of England is here), I'm interviewing fellow Unbound authors. Today it's the turn of Tim Atkinson, whose post-WWI novel The Glorious Dead is being published later in 2018. Here's Tim:

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

Tim Atkinson – The Glorious Dead tells the story of what happened AFTER the guns fell silent at 11am on 11th November, 1918. Who cleared the battlefields and buried the dead? And why did so many men who fought – and survived – stay on?

    2.        Why should folk read your book?

It’s the untold story of the First World War. Thousands of troops volunteered to stay in France and Flanders for meagre pay, doing the Empire’s dirty work. Once the British Army finally withdrew (in 1921) many stayed on in a civilian capacity. Some never came home. People need to know why.

    3.        What’s the appeal of your book?

 War is universal and the fascination of the Great War shows no sign of diminishing. But there are still so many stories that need to be told. Perhaps the biggest of all, though, is the story of our own mortality and what facing it – as these men did, first in battle, then combing the battlefields for fallen comrades – does.

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

Before midnight on Sunday (July 1st) you can still pledge on Unbound. After that, it should be the shops (and be available online) in November.

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

My job is to get up, get the kids to school and then get in front of the computer. The walk back (from the children’s school) is great thinking time, and I’m usually ready to start writing as soon as I get through the front door.

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

Modesty prevents me choosing my own, of course! And I have to admit although I’ve taught creative writing classes, mentored authors (and written my own ‘how to’ book about it) I don’t actually read many books about writing. But one I unfailing recommend to students is the very funny How NOT to write a novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman.

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

Three? Impossible! Ok, then... but I’m going to have to make rules (for myself) like ‘no classics’. Otherwise, I’d seriously be here all day trying to whittle it down. So... I really really admire Sebastian Barry – not only as a prose stylist but as an insightful and intriguing writer. And The Secret Scripture was a masterpiece. I’ve only recently discovered Helen Dunmore and especially liked ‘Counting the Stars’ (although I could so easily have picked ‘The Lie’). Finally, I’m going to choose ‘The Emperor Waltz’ by Philip Hensher – Dickensian in scope but with the inevitability and tragedy of Dostoyevsky.

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

Some might well come from the list above, but... the Authorised (King James) Bible would have to be there, as would Homer’s Iliad (in the translation by Robert Fagles). Finally... impossible to choose! More Homer? The Odyssey, maybe? Or something from Russia? Perhaps, The Idiot would be appropriate!

    9.        Any words of writing wisdom?

Keep it simple: one, write. You can’t be a writer without writing. (Sounds obvious, but it’s the most common error!) Two, write what needs to be written. Tell your story your way, or tell a story no-one else has told. Three, edit like mad. But only once you’ve finished. And preferably a long time afterwards.

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

It's 1918 and at last the guns of the Great War fall silent. But for Jack Patterson the war still goes on. The enemy now is mud and unexploded shells as well as memories – both of the horrors of war and the dark secret back home that first led him to enlist... a secret Jack hopes isn’t about to be dug up on the Flanders battlefields!

Social media contacts:

Website: https://www.timatkinson.info

Facebook: https://www.Facebook.com/AuthorTimAtkinson

Twitter: @dotterel

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/the-glorious-dead/

Previous publications:

Writing Therapy (2008)

Discover Countries: India (2010)

Discover Countries: The United Kingdom (2010)

Tiny Acorns (ed.) (2010)

Fatherhood: The Essential Guide (2011)

Creative Writing: The Essential Guide (2011)

Homer’s Iliad: A Study Guide (2017)

 

Huge thanks to Tim for his time. Hopefully, The Glorious Dead shrikes a chord and it'll be of interest to you! The novel's available via Amazon here - other physical and virtual book retailers are also available! 

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