Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Exclusive Q&A with Sandy Appleyard

I'm delighted to share an exclusive interview this week with author, Sandy Appleyard. Sandy is an ambassador for 'up and coming' writers, helping authors via the Internet and social media - and she was kind enough to review my first book. I was also intrigued to discover she lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario in Canada. What a location!

About the Author

You’ll usually find me holed up in my living room with my laptop open or with a book in hand.  If not, I’m doing yoga, petting the cat or braiding one of my kid’s hair.  When I write I do it without reservation and with no particular purpose in mind other than to enthral, inspire and express myself in such a way that I can touch at least a few readers.  I’m a born and raised Canadian, proudly married for ten years to a man who gives me the space I need to do what I love; to write.

Here's the Story:

A serial killer, a stock broker, and a police chief’s daughter clash in this mysterious tale of greed and love. Michael is forced to choose between his most precious asset and the love of his life, when a serial killer tries to take what matters most to him. Police chief Mark Tame and his team hunt for clues with Michael’s help, when they realize that the killer is linked to Michael. Jessica has the love and protection of both men, but will that be enough to keep her safe?

Now over to Sandy:

1.         Who is your favourite character in Don't Mess with Daddy's Girl  and why?

Michael - one of the main characters - is my favourite.  He’s the man every woman wants; he’s not afraid of commitment and is hard-working, handsome, and desperately in love with his girl.  Plus he plants a great surprise for Jessica - his girl - at the end of the book (that all female readers would love), which ties the whole story together.

2.         How did you settle on the title for your chosen book?

It was originally titled ‘The Night He Gave Up Saigon’ because the story encompasses the stock market, in particular a stock called ‘Saigon’, and the contention between Michael and Jessica surrounding it. 

But I decided that title was too exotic so I changed it to ‘Don’t Mess With Daddy’s Girl’ since I think that has more punch and heart and draws more attention to the fact that the main story is about a battle between two men who bring Jessica to safety and the resolve that Mark (her father) arrives at when she’s finally safe. 

3.         What's the nicest thing anyone has said about the book?

The nicest thing was from someone kind enough to review it.  I’ll quote it the review, “Sandy Appleyard is a masterful storyteller able to balance romance, action, suspense, mystery and wonderfully deep and emotional characters. She writes incredibly well, with attention to every detail of her plot and subplots, leaving no loose ends or annoying cliffhangers.”  Now if that isn’t a compliment I don’t know what is J (sorry to toot my own horn, but that review certainly made my day).

4.       What are you working on now?

I'm getting ready to release the third novel in my romantic suspense series called 'The Wheels of Change' - coming out in March 2015.  It's about a rich and young, womanizing man named Simon, who has an affair with a married woman and suddenly finds himself behind the wheel of a car without brakes.  There are several twists in the story, and Simon learns through his experiences in a wheelchair just how jaded his view of the world has been.

5.         What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

I love how the stories I write come to life and despite the notes I write for plans for the next chapter, the story takes on a whole different perspective.  It’s also great when a new story idea comes to mind, and best of all, I love typing in those proverbial long-awaited words ‘The End’.

6.         Which novel do you wish you’d written?

Without a doubt, Sandra Brown’s ‘Best Kept Secrets’.  That was the first of Brown’s books that I read and the first chapter was so well written I was completely hooked on her.  I’ve read so many of her works now I lost count.

7.         Can you list 3 of your favourite reads, this year?

I read ‘Best Kept Secrets’ at the beginning of the year, so that counts ;), but I also loved David Baldacci’s ‘The Sixth Man’, and definitely my all-time favourite was Sandra Brown’s ‘Rainwater’, that was probably one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read.

8.         In the reviews and feedback you’ve had for the book – what has surprised you most?

One reviewer said “This book has all the makings of a made-for-tv crime drama.” And that shocked me because that is exactly the mood I was looking for.  I watch a lot of Criminal Minds and Murdoch Mysteries and therefore much of the inspiration from that book comes from those shows.

9.         Which authors would you invite over for dinner to get to know better?

Nicholas Sparks - because the man has been through so much in his life (death of both his parents and his sister) and has found so much inspiration to write because of all the heartache he’s encountered, yet his work is so touching and thoughtful you’d swear he’s lived a charmed life. 

Of course, Sandra Brown; not only because she’s one of my favourite authors, but also because she started writing after leaving a desk job; similar to me, and I’d love to pick her brain about how she felt leaving the corporate world to pursue a writing career.

E. L. James - because…..well…..you can probably guess, but I’d like to know what her inspiration was when she wrote the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trilogy.

10.       Which one question would you want to make sure you asked them?

It would be a very loaded question: “What was the turning point in your career, and how did you get there?”  Because so many authors wish they hit a turning point (myself included) and would probably sacrifice just about anything to know how some of the greats arrived where they did.

I would probably ask E.L. James if she feels that writing such a bombshell trilogy and striking gold on her first try made the experience any less climactic; most writers have to work very hard writing countless novels to make it to the top, and likely when they get there, it’s magical.  I always wondered, since reading E.L. James’s books, if she ever felt less motivation to write now since she’ll likely never be able to top the success of ‘Fifty Shades’.

Sandy's website is: http://www.sandyappleyard.com/

Many thanks to Sandy for joining us!
If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE it using the buttons below. Thank you!

AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular Blog posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->

SIGN UP HERE for AJ's Newsletter with Competitions and Giveaways in 2015! Plus up- to-the-minute info on her new novels, sneak peeks and exclusive insider content.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Exclusive Interview with Rebecca Bradley

I’m delighted to present an exclusive interview this week with  author, Rebecca Bradley, whose debut novel, Shallow Waters, was published yesterday!

About the Author
Rebecca Bradley lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and her one-year-old Cockerpoo Alfie, who keeps her company while she writes. She needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis, in her writing, of course.

Once a month Rebecca hosts a crime book club on Google+ hangouts where you can live chat about a crime book everyone has read and has members in the UK, the US, France and Australia.

She blogs regularly at rebeccabradleycrime.com

DI Hannah Robbins will return in 2015.

Here's the Story:

When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.

Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.

But it doesn't stop there. When catching a killer isn't enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

Over to you, Rebecca:

1. Who is your favourite character in Shallow Waters and why?

A difficult question as I have a few. I'm going with DS Aaron Stone. He's blunt, won't answer questions the way you want them answering and yet he's methodical and steady. This made him great to write and I think he's charming. You can't help but like him.

2. How did you settle on the title for Shallow Waters?

Now this is difficult for a different reason. I hated titling this novel. Truly. Hated it. How people have tons of idea's for titles I'll never know. In the end it just kind of came to me for no apparent reason. I wasn't trying to think of one at the time. The book was already written and had a perfectly awful title sat with it, why did I need another? But this came out the blue and I loved it. Funny how that happens I suppose.

3. What's the nicest thing anyone has said about the book?

I was just told by a reader that a part of it made her emotional and she had never been affected that way before. She then told me which part of the book she was talking about. To know that your words have had that affect, well, it's something else.

4. What alternative title did you consider?

Really? Do I have disclose this? It's really bad.

5. What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

The ideas! The writing is hard work!

6. Which novel do you wish you’d written?

In terms of crime fiction, Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer. What a great concept for a novel, and a great read.

7. Can you list 3 of your favourite reads, this year?

Only 3! Wow, you're tough. I've read 83 books so far. Ok, lets try;

Cry Baby by David Jackson, Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

8. In the reviews and feedback you’ve had for the book – what has surprised you most?

That people are enjoying it. Doesn't that surprise every d├ębut novelist?

9. Which authors would you invite over for dinner to get to know better?

Stephen Fry because he's funny and genuine and real and also Matt Haig for the same reasons. I know, neither of them are crime writers.

10. Which one question would you want to make sure you asked them?

Do you want to swap bank accounts?
A big thanks to Rebecca for sharing her thoughts with us! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE it using the buttons below. Thank you!

AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->

Monday, 15 December 2014

Five Random Delights at Christmas!

I’m madly revising a new novel before Christmas and haven’t been able to research for a ‘proper’ blog post this week. I’ve also been washed out with a throat infection, which left me without a voice (not bad news for everyone!). It made me realise how lucky I am that it’s my fingers that do the talking. And this led me to ponder on the wealth of other things I feel grateful for. As ‘problem-solving’ beings, we tend to focus on the stuff that isn’t going well and needs sorting out, rather than on the aspects that are ticking along nicely.

So to celebrate, here are Five Random Delights in my life, right now:

1. Jacob’s Cheeselets. These are yummy and only seem to be around at Christmas. Just as well. They have magical qualities – one minute they’re in the dish – the next, they’re gone…How did that happen??

2. To-be-read list: Every writer needs one of these - here is my first batch for over Christmas and the new year. I adore having books lined up, ready to open. It’s like being in Doctor Who; I get to open the door of my Tardis and step into a new world.

3. ‘Family and Friends’ is an obvious choice, but when family are also friends – it’s even more special. My sister and brother-in-law have been brilliant this year, especially in sorting out ‘just about everything’ in connection with my father’s death. They really are amazing! A MASSIVE thank you to them...

4. Having a cello again after ten years of not playing is my next gratitude. The fact that I’m reunited with the same beautiful instrument I had 30 years ago is even more special and a bit surreal. My heartfelt thanks to Shirley who passed away in September and bequeathed it to me and to my father for this lovely pastel picture of me playing, from 1986.

5. Amaretto – a new discovery for Hubbie and I. Our Christmas dessert is going to be homemade vanilla ice-cream 'with a choice' of (aka both) hot chocolate sauce and poured-over Amaretto. Bliss…

Image: www.sweetlyscrapped.com
On that note, I wish you very good wishes for the Festive Season and have a lovely time over the holiday period! Back in the New Year! More novels on the way...
If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE. Thank you!

AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->
Or go to AJ Waines' Blog to sign up and see more posts.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Power-packed Psychological Thrillers - 3 Latest Reviews

It's that time of year when we're all getting cosy for Christmas and looking for some cracking books to snuggle up with by the fire.... Here are some reviews of recent novels:

Precious Thing - Colette McBeth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good? Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last for ever. 

They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Now in their late twenties Rachel has everything while Clara's life is spiralling further out of control.

Then Clara vanishes. 

Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you've shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.

'A searing portrayal of a vivid bond of love - and hate - between friends.' Some lovely imagery, intensity and depth in the writing here about a friendship between two women that goes off the rails. One of them goes missing and the truth about their past and present lives starts to unravel with devastating effects. This is not a book that relies on shocks and big-bangs! Beautiful writing - some wonderful 'moments' that the author manages to capture in words. A book to savour - highly deserving of 5 stars. I'm really looking forward to her next one!

The Beauty of Murder - A.K. Benedict
My rating: 3 of 5

Stephen Killigan has been cold since the day he came to Cambridge as a junior lecturer. Something about the seven hundred years of history staining the stones of the university has given him a chill he can't shake. When he stumbles across the body of a missing beauty queen, he thinks he's found the reason. But when the police go to retrieve the body and find no trace, Killigan has found a problem - and a killer - that is the very opposite of reason.

Killigan's unwitting entry into Jackamore Grass's sinister world will lead him on a trail of tattooists, philosophers, cadavers and scholars of a deadly beauty. As Killigan traces a path between our age and seventeenth century Cambridge, he must work out how a corpse can be found before someone goes missing, and whether he's at the edge of madness or an astonishing discovery.

This novel is certainly 'different'. I loved the quality of the writing (set in Cambridge) - it had a gothic, dark, magical feel to it, with unusual, surreal images, original detail ('crinkle-cut corduroy trousers') humour and quirkiness. Such as : 'There is something familiar about him. But then there is about all clergy: they all have that way of looking through you as if your sins were fluttering on a washing line with the labels showing.'

I didn't know when I started it that it had a 'time-travel' element, which wouldn't usually pique my interest, but it fitted well here, although I confess I did get a bit 'lost' in the storytelling at times. Perhaps, I wasn't paying enough attention – but there are a lot of elements to it – murder, maths, magic, time-travel, science-fiction, philosophy. The lead characters all had compelling and unusual traits and even if, like me, you weren't on secure footing with the tale itself (and it does feel like a 'tale') - it's definitely worth a read for the writing style and atmosphere.

The Sleeper - Emily Barr
My rating: 4 of 5

Lara Finch is living a lie.

Everyone thinks she has a happy life in Cornwall, married to the devoted Sam, but in fact she is desperately bored. When she is offered a new job that involves commuting to London by sleeper train, she meets Guy and starts an illicit affair. But then Lara vanishes from the night train without a trace. Only her friend Iris disbelieves the official version of events, and sets out to find her. For Iris, it is the start of a voyage that will take her further than she's ever travelled and on to a trail of old crimes and dark secrets. For Lara, it is the end of a journey that started a long time ago. A journey she must finish, before it destroys her...

This is a great suspense read - and verging on 5 stars. The 'hook' is powerful - a woman vanishes from a train - and I love mysteries involving trains (I've written one myself!). The first part of the novel written from Lara's point of view was done brilliantly. This is where she starts living a double life with the 'safe and tedious' husband at home (who adores her) and the whirlwind romance with the exciting new man on the train. I thought this section made great use of the dissonance between who Lara becomes with each man and the lies and deception she starts to build. When Lara goes missing, I found a slump in energy and suddenly we're seeing the situation through the eyes of Iris, a not-very-close friend. Then we're no longer in Falmouth or London and eventually the pace picks up again, but it becomes rather a different story from the one at the start. It is for me almost two stories in one and the first part is by far the most compelling. Having said that, the writing is excellent, it's engaging and solid good quality. I'll be reading more from this writer.
If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE. Thank you!

AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->
Or go to AJ Waines' Blog to sign up and see more posts.