Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Q&A Interview with Matt Johnson

Q&A Interview with Matt Johnson author of Wicked Game

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. Matt is currently working on a sequel Deadly Game.
Daily Telegraph article 'Ex-Met officer: my journey from PTSD to crime thriller writer'

Originally a self-published work, in 2015, the rights to Wicked Game were acquired by London based publishers Orenda Books.

Hello Matt, thanks for allowing me to interview you here - I'm really pleased for you that your book Wicked Game is now such a success. You have a very busy year ahead of you. Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming events for this year?

Sure. It's going to be interesting, particularly as to date my only experience of author events and literary festivals has been via Youtube. My first event is on 11 March, before the formal launch of the book. I'm off to Glasgow for the AyeWrite festival where at 6pm in the Mitchell Library I'm joining Michelle Davies doing an informal interview with Craig Robertson. Next comes the formal Orenda Launch which the Waterstones flagship store at Piccadilly, London have agreed to host. That's at 7pm on 22 March and promises to be a great evening. Some former colleagues from both the Army and Police are coming, as well as quite a few authors, readers and bloggers.

On 2nd April I'm off to Deal in Kent for the Deal Noir Event, then it's Llandeilo book fair on 30th April, the Orenda roadshow at Waterstones on 12 May and two slots at Bristol CrimeFest on 20th and 21st May.

And on top of this I have a two-week blog tour in March, I'm hosting a one-week facebook event, also in March, and some interviews for radio stations, the dates of which have yet to be set. All very surreal, and quite exciting.

How do you feel about the endorsements and high praise for Wicked Game that you've had from readers and people such as Peter James and Sir Ralph Fiennes?

Lost for words. Another endorsement came in from Kevin Maurer this week as well. Kevin is the author of 'No Easy Day' - the hunt for Bin Laden - and is another writer that I have huge respect for. Quotes such as these guys have so generously given have been very humbling, especially as I know that they are lending their reputation to my work, so they would only do so if they really liked it.

The response from readers has been both kind and humbling. It's one thing to have friends and family say that they like your book but when the reviews started to come in from complete strangers, people who had no agenda other than to tell me what they thought of the book, then I started to really appreciate that, perhaps, I did have an ability to write a decent story.

You have a lot of book promotions and book signing events coming up but has anyone requested an autograph from you yet in a public place?

Not yet, no. I've no doubt that if or when that happens, I'll be scratching around trying to find a pen!

If your books were turned into a TV drama series would you enjoy the fame?

That's a big 'if', given how many books are published every week and how few of them are considered suitable for film. In truth, I'm not sure how I'd react. Nice to secure that kind of recognition but I wouldn't relish losing my privacy and anonymity and I'd do my level best to ensure that I didn't.

When you started writing during your treatment for PTSD, did you ever visualise that one day your books would be published?

Not at that point in time, no. At the time I was simply writing as a means to avoid the emotion that overtook me when I talked about my experiences and the causes of the disorder. But later on, once I had started to weave the notes into a novel I found that I was enjoying writing and then, of course, the ultimate ambition had to be to see if what I could produced was good enough for others to enjoy and to then be published.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I remember, many years ago, when I discovered ebay for the first time, I realised how many hobbies I had! For example, I keep bees, collect unusual hats, ride a Harley-Davidson and own three dogs who I love to walk in the Brecon Beacons near to my home. In between my hobbies I try and find time to write, but it's not easy.

Which books do enjoy reading?

I read rather slowly and I'm easily distracted. As a result of which I'm quite fussy about what I read and if a book dooesn't engage me after fifty or so pages I tend to put it to one side. I like thrillers but not exclusively. My taste is pretty eclectic, I'm a Lee Child fan, and I've also enjoyed Sebastian Faulks books. Recently I read Ken Follet's 'Pillars of the Earth' and Lalline Paull's 'The Bees'. One book I loved is the Louise Beech book 'How to be Brave' which is a mixture of a ghost story combined with the tale of a mother coping with a young daughter with type 1 diabetes. Having a daughter myself, this book really struck a chord with me.

Do you have a space of your own in which to write?

Yes, I have my 'spudy'. It's a cross between a spare room and a study, so guests sometimes take over my work space and I'm forced to do a bit of tidying. The window behind my Pc looks out over the Beacons with the Sugar Loaf mountain on the horizon. Did I mention I get distracted easily?

If you could choose anywhere in the world to spend as long as you want just reading, relaxing and writing where would it be?

Oh heck, that's a tough one. I think it would be Kenya. On a farm I know near the rift valley. It's a heavenly place, quiet and peaceful.

Thanks Matt for your interesting replies and good luck with your writing career.
Will look forward to reading more of your books


The paperback will be on sale on 15 March 2016 in the UK and on June 1 in the US and Canada. Pre-order

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Chosen Child: Linda Huber

The following review of Chosen Child: Linda Huber was also posted on Amazon UK & US and Goodreads

I was initially drawn to the book by the beautiful cover. The suspense right from the very first chapter all builds up nicely to draw the reader right into this story.
An illicit affair, a child in need of a loving home, and one cataclysmic day that leads to such a build up of events that I just had to read on and on until the end to find out what happened.

Life can indeed be stranger than fiction at times, so the twists and turns of the plot are entirely believable and all the way through, one of the most quoted lines from Scottish poetry kept going through my head 'Oh, what a tangled web we weave. When first we practise to deceive!'. Indeed!

Will definitely be reading more from this author.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Q&A Author Interview: David Videcette

Q&A Interview with David Videcette, author of The Theseus Paradox
My Review Here

Hello David, thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed here on my blog. 

What prompted you to decide to start writing novels?
I went out to work one day and came home two weeks later wearing the same clothes and with fifty-six people dead.  

Ever since that fateful day on 7th July 2005had a story that I simply knew I had to share. I couldn’t bear the thought of taking it to the grave with me untold.
I’m lucky enough to have lived through some incredible experiences during my police career. I want to share with readers what it feels like to chase a suspect down a train track with an Intercity train approaching; what you see when you look into the eyes of a captured terrorist who has tried to blow up a city; how you pass yourself off as a pizza delivery guy to enter the mansion of a crime boss without getting caught.
I want readers to really know how this stuff works. Not the fantasy Hollywood made-up way of doing it – the real British police way - so that readers can experience it for themselves. I want to share crime faction instead of crime fantasy. I want readers to really experience what life is like as a police detective, to have your face in amongst the darkest recesses of society, 24/7. 

Have you found writing cathartic in any way?
All police officers, it doesn’t matter what area they work in, are pitted against the rawest elements of human nature. They have to deal with the things that most people choose not to think about day in, day out. The seven deadly sins can be witnessed in society daily - even when you’re trying to sort out the simplest of disagreements or disputes. Then there’s the horror you have to face in dealing with the dead or seriously injured. 
Police officers are not immune to any of this. I found that when I started writing. We push this stuff to the back of our minds and hope that it never sees the light of day again. We are just normal people. Writing has made me realise that I’ve boxed and bottled lots of things up. Things that I didn’t have time for or couldn’t face. So, yes, it’s been cathartic. 

Your book raises money for the Police Dependants’ Trust - Could you tell us a bit more about this please?
The Theseus Paradox highlights exactly what issues such as bereavement and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) do to police officers.  The Police Dependants' Trust has just launched a new initiative called the National Welfare Contingency Fund which will fund treatment programmes for officers caught up in major national incidents such as mass shootings, plane crashes or like my lead character, DI Jake Flannagan, a terrorist attack. These officers will receive counsellingand talking therapies to help with their mental wellbeing, so I’m pleased to say that sales of the book will support these activities.

The Theseus Paradox must have been a difficult book to write whilst keeping within the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act. Did you have to constantly seek advice over what would be allowed, or did you know yourself instinctively.

did take legal advice on the book – and I am also aware through my legal experience of where the boundaries lie. The Official Secrets Act is not allowed to interfere with my artistic rights, which is why, I can’t tell you the truth, but I can tell you a story… 

Why do you think your book is so popular across social media and has hit top ten in various Amazon categories?
Everyone can tell you where they were on the 7th of July 2005, when they saw or heard the news. Everyone can remember what they were doing. It’s something that touched all of us. The events of 7/7 made international front page headlines
But how much do you know about what happened behind the scenes after the eventThis book gives you an insider look into an investigation that very few people know anything about and is written by someone who spent five years on that case. It’s up to the reader to decide how much is true and how much is fiction.  
All that makes it compelling read and a very different type of crime fiction.
The question of ‘how real is it?’ sets it aside from what’s on the market right now.

Some might say that Jake Flannagan isn't really a very likeable character, but an extremely hard working one, when he isn't letting off steam in his rare, off-duty moments. Is he a purely fictitious character, or is there any resemblance to yourself?

Detective Jake Flannagan is a bit of a marmite sort of character and provokes strong reactions from people with regards to his behaviour. I’m really pleased that he gets these reactions, he’s an extremely complex and interesting character and there’s lots to come from him in the next book. 
I believe that to be an outstanding detective, you have to think like the bad guys to catch the bad guys – that’s why all the best detectives have a dark side.
Lots of people ask me how much of me is in Jake and vice-versa. Jake is driven. He’s dangerous. He’s stupid. He’s vulnerable. He’s caring. He’s selfish. He’s the man you want on your side in a fight, working on your investigation. Some women would also like to have him in their bed…. but you couldn’t live with him, not for long.
He’s a wild animal that needs taming. The trouble is he doesn’t know what he wants or needs. Right now, I know what I want and need - and that’s where the two of us differ.    

Do you have a marketing team helping you promote the book, or are you just very good at doing it yourself?

I don’t have the luxury of an agent or publisher. I’m doing it all myself. It’s been a steep learning curve so far, but I’m always hungry for more.  

The description of Jake's road traffic collision, in the early chapters of the book, was very realistic. Have you ever been involved in one yourself?

I always write from personal experience and I have been involved in a truly horrific car accidentIf you’re asking me how close to the truth that scene is  the answer is that you have to make up your own mind!

I hear that a follow-up and possibly a series is planned. Do you feel any pressure from fans now to hurry up and write the next one in the series?

I can’t write fast enough for some people! There is another book in development which is just as compelling and as amazing as the first. The next book is also based on personal police experience and a real-life case. I’ve got at least two books planned after that one too. There are issues and secrets that I’m itching to reveal.

You've had a lot of positive feedback about The Theseus Paradox, but have you had much in the way of negativity?

Some people don’t like Jake as a character or his unconventional methods. That’s currently the main negative feedback I get, which to me is absolutely fine. He’s like chicken vindaloo alongside a whole table full of spaghetti carbonaras.  Jake might appear a little unhinged, but he will alwaysalways get to the bottom of a case.

You appear to be a very busy man in one way or another, consultancy, writing, appearing on television current affairs programmes, and you also have time for your readers, and are appreciative of reviews, but what do you most enjoy doing during relaxation periods? 

I’ve found time in the day that I didn’t even know existed these past 18 months! I am very busy and I still do lots of varied things at work. I’m also volunteering on behalf of The 7/7 Memorial Trust  

I love spending time with my children, just doing the things a dad should do. I made decisions when they were young to throw myself into my job – I missed lots of special moments with them. I try to give them the most precious thing I can as often as I cannow - and that’s my time. That’s all they’ve ever wanted. That’s how I relax now – running them from after-school clubs to parties and all those normal sort of things that I should have done years ago!

Thank you David for your very interesting replies to the questions. Will look forward very much to reading more of your books

David Videcette’s Bio:
With twenty years’ policing experience, David has chased numerous dangerous criminals, searched hundreds of properties and interviewed thousands of witnesses during his time with Scotland Yard.
David was a lead Met detective on the intelligence cell in the investigation that followed the 7/7 London bombings. 
His debut thriller, The Theseus Paradox is based on the events of that time. Its secrets were probed by the UK’s leading investigative journalist, Andrew Gilligan, and featured in the Sunday Telegraph, the Mirror, The Sun and on ITV News.  
The Theseus Paradox topped its Amazon category within a month of launch and was acclaimed by numerous independent review websites - five of which listed it in their top books of the year.
Now a security consultant for high-net-worth individuals, David lives in London and is a regular commentator on crime and terrorism for the BBC and other media outlets.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Interview with the author L M Krier

Q&A Author interview with LM Krier, also known as Lesley Tither and Tottie Limejuice

Hello Lesley thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for my new book blog. Yours 

This is my very first author interview! 

I'm absolutely thrilled to be here, and overwhelmed to be a pioneer of what will no doubt be a fabulous book blog! Thanks so much for asking me.

Would you mind giving me a little potted bio about yourself and your background?

I'm a 'Dabber', born in Nantwich, Cheshire, brought up and educated, after a fashion, in Stockport. I studied and qualified as a journalist after leaving school and did ten years of mainly court and coroners' court reporting, book and film reviews and various routine things. I was a case tracker for the Crown Prosecution Service for a couple of years. I then took a break to do horse things, including running my own holiday riding centre in Wales, before returning to writing as a freelance copywriter and copy editor, from which I am now retired.

It's clear that you absolutely love writing but when did you first realise that you could actually write and that other people might enjoy reading your writing?

I grew up in a story-telling family, surrounded by books, with no television. At my junior school, we all had to keep a diary and write in it whatever we did at the weekends. I loved that! Always loved telling stories, all the better if they got a reaction from the listener/reader.

You've written a series of successful books in two different genres - memoirs and crime fiction. Do you find that fans of your memoir series also become fans of your crime fiction series, or do your books just tend to attract fans of either genre?

It's just crossed over into three genres now, with the completion of my first children's fiction book, The Dog with the Golden Eyes, under the pen-name of L M Kay, although that does have a strong crime element in it, so I suppose it's junior crime! It will be out later this year. Then there's the adult crime fiction and the travel memoirs, each under a different pen-name, L M Krier and Tottie Limejuice respectively. Crime is quite a specific genre, not to everyone's taste, so a lot of the travel memoirs readers don't go on to read the crime, although I'm happy to say some have done and have enjoyed both. I'm hoping the children's book will appeal to both sets of readers, either for themselves as it's quite grown-up in a sense, or for the younger members of their families. 

Which books do you enjoy reading yourself for pleasure, research or both?

I love crime, read lots of it, both in English and in French. I belong to a reading circle at my local library and through it I have discovered some very good new French authors of the genre, notably Olivier Norek and Ghislain Gilberti. I'm a big fan of Ian Rankin although goodness knows why, I suspect I would want to slap Rebus if I ever met him in real life. I also love things like The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings and Alan Garner's books, although I would not call myself a classical fantasy aficionado. For research, I prefer the Internet, as it's so easy to be influenced by other books and not to be original. I grew up with Agatha Christie and they are still outstanding examples of the genre which have really stood the test of time.

Are you a people watcher and if so do you use your observations of human behaviour and mentally file away little snippets of information to be used in your crime novels?

Incurably so! To create realistic characters, it's probably necessary to operate like that. It's also the perfect foil for anyone who says 'that could never happen' to be able to say 'well, actually, it did, and here's the link to the newspaper article where it did.' I often think back to some of the court cases I've sat through and the things I've heard there, especially in coroners' courts. They were always fascinating as the only certainty in life is that we are all, one day, going to die. I used to cover a dozen or so inquests a week at one stage of my life as a journalist and they were all fascinating in their own way.

You now live in France and your memoir series chronicle the events of your whole experience in moving to and living there so far. Do you have any feedback from those who read your books and are themselves planning to move to live in France?

Yes, lots, which is wonderful. In fact I've become good friends (although we've not yet met) with a lady from Wales, quite near to where I used to live, coincidentally, who did a similar thing to me and moved out here with an elderly mother-in-law in tow. She got in contact to say how useful she found a lot of what I had written was to her own circumstances.

The last book in your memoir series has recently been published. How do your fans feel about the series coming to an end? Would you consider continuing the series if your readers really wanted you to carry on?

The trouble is, I can't continue it as I'm now up to date with everything that's happened in the past ten years, from choosing house to moving here and settling in. I really would be scratching round for crumbs to try to add any more to it and I wouldn't want to do that to the readers. They deserve the best, and that's what I've already picked out to present to them. However, that's only ten years so there's all the previous 54 still to be talked about, and lots of material there! In particular, there's the eight years when I ran a holiday riding centre single handedly up a Welsh mountain. Plenty of tales to come out of that period of my life.

DI Ted Darling and his partner Trev from your Crime Fiction series seem to have become very popular characters amongst your readers. Why do you think this is?

I would like to think it's because they come across as real. I'm really pleased and touched how people have taken them to heart and really seem to relate to them and believe in them. One wonderful example is Betty's husband, who now drinks green tea because Ted does! But I think the prize must go to my French friend Domi who is using the Teds as her set books to learn English. It's above her level and they are, of course, full of northern slang which would be no use to her anywhere outside Greater Manchester, but she comes every week and we work doggedly through the books. She's earned the reward of having the fourth book in the series dedicated to her for her devotion. She never used to text me in English, always in French, but she will happily send English texts to 'Ted'.

Do you ever feel pressured by readers to hurry up with the next instalment of any book series?

Not pressured, I think more motivated and galvanised and that's a wonderful thing. To know that people have not only enjoyed what I've written to date but are eager to read more of it is very humbling and is what keeps me going. As soon as people stop asking, I'll stop writing, at least for public consumption, as I will know I've reached my sell-by date.

Do you believe in your own talents as a writer and enjoy rave reviews of your books, or do you have any self-doubt?

People who think they know me may be surprised to hear that I am absolutely riddled with self-doubt when it comes to my writing. It's partly because it was my professions for many years and part of my pitch, as a copywriter, was that if I couldn't produce copy the client was happy with, after one rewrite if necessary, I wouldn't invoice them for the work. My good friend and Alpha beta-reader Jill Pennington will tell you how much encouragement she has to give me to press the Publish button each time, for any of my books. I always worry the latest one isn't up to the right standard, people won't like it, or I've forgotten to tie up some very important loose ends in one of the crime thrillers. It's also, no doubt, to do with being a Leo – we have to be the best person in the world at everything or it's simply not good enough! 

What would be your ultimate goal for your crime novels?

What I'd really like would be just for more people to get to know Ted and Trev and hopefully to like them as much as my existing readers do. I particularly like it when someone who admits to not being a crime fan starts to read them and gets hooked. For me, the crime is almost incidental to creating a good story with characters who seem to come to life. As I said, I could slap Rebus, because I find him so very real. A lot of crime books I've read lately are very 'samey' and I can't seem to invest in the character as it just seems to be an amalgam of everything that's already out there. At least I can put my hand on my heart and say that Ted is genuinely different from the run of the mill copper in crime fiction.

If your DI Ted Darling crime fiction novels were to be turned into a detective drama series on TV, would you enjoy the fame?

Ted would be mortified! I think I'd cope. I have a pretty realistic take on my importance, or lack of it, in the greater scheme of this. I would love to see Ted on TV though, simply because he is so different from what is currently available. It just needs a brave enough production company to give him a go. My dogs are very good at keeping me grounded and stopping me from getting above myself. I recently decided I ought to try planking (don't ask!) As soon as I try, they cavort around me giggling and Fleur stars play-bowing to show me how easy it us!

What do you most enjoy doing in your spare time?

Spending time with Mother Nature and my dogs. Discovering the beautiful countryside here, camping, sharing a picnic, anything like that. I'm a big kid for sleeping in a tent. I've even been known to pitch one in the garden and sleep out there! Reading, too, also looking at maps and guidebooks to plan our next adventures. Oh and showing friends the beautiful region I live in. Which is why I'm launching something called Tottie's Tours, where people can come to the region, meet me, if they so wish, and I'll either take or send them to some of the best sites mentioned in the various Sell the Pig books.

Would you ever consider moving back to live in the UK?

Never in a million years! I haven't even been back there for a visit since I moved out here in 2007. My life is here, now. I couldn't afford to do it, anyway, I would never be able to afford somewhere as nice as my little 'grottage' at UK prices.

Your dogs seem to be a very important part of your life. Have you always loved dogs?

Always, from as far back as I can remember. I loved westerns on telly (my first big cheque for my writing was for a High Chaparral storyline) so I was always watching stuff like Rin-Tin-Tin, Champion the Wonder Horse with Rebel the dog, and The Littlest Hobo. We didn't have a telly in those days so I used to go to a friend's house to watch. I got my first dog, a German Shepherd, when I was about 19, I think. My parents wouldn't let me have one before that because they always had a cat.

What sort of meals do you enjoy cooking?

Campfire food! Cooked on an open fire or my rocket stove outside, which burns bits of twig. Food here is excellent and affordable. I eat a mostly veggie diet with some poultry and fish. I love things like a veggie curry, channa aloo mutter, for example, or just a great big pile of veggies smothered in melted local Cantal cheese. I like baking, too.

When is your next book due out for release?

I've got a busy year coming up! The fourth DI Ted Darling crime thriller, Shut Up and Drive, should be released early in March 2016. Next up will be the children's book, The Dog with the Golden Eyes. I'm working with a translator at the moment to bring the travel memoir Sell the Pig series out in French as there is quite a demand for those already. There should be time to do another DI Ted Darling by the end of the year, and somewhere in between, I hope to make a start on some of my Sell the Pig memoirs prequel(s).

Thank you very much Lesley for agreeing to be interviewed here, that was very interesting!

Thanks so much for having me, it really has been an honour and a delight, especially the very interesting questions. Good luck with the book blog and thanks for all your support.

L M Krier's author page: DI Ted Darling Series

Tottie Limejuice Memoir Series