Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Maureen and the Big One by Jonathan Hill

Maureen's latest outing takes her to Blackpool for a weekend.  She's not impressed with her first impressions of the B & B she's booked into.

Maureen is still a walking disaster, but with each expedition she sets out on, we get to see more and more of what makes her tick and I get to like her more and more.  This story has a greater depth to it than the previous stories and I liked that.

Here's to more Maureen.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Wolf by the Ears by Lexi Revellian

Another book by Lexi Revellian and another genre for her to be listed under.  This time it's the "wrong place, wrong time" mystery genre.  Tyger gets a cleaning job at a very rich Russian's house, then gets mixed up in his affairs.

As usual with this author's works, the story is well written and well paced.  there's friendship, romance, chases, murder, bad guys and good guys.

I enjoyed this story.  It wasn't over-the-top with heroics, it was one girl against the bad guys, doing the best she can.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Off The KUF Volume 2

This is the second collection of stories from the KUForum authors.  A handful of them are available elsewhere, but most of them were new to me (and I devour books by KUF authors).

You get a lot for your measly £2. Over 300 pages.  30 stories by 29 authors, of varying lengths.  Some are drabbles (100 word long stories) and some are much longer reads that you'd probably spend 77p on just the one.

As with any collection of stories there are some you like more than others.  With this, I liked practically all of them and didn't dislike any.

This collection is value for money and I will be looking out for longer works from quite a few of these authors.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hide in Time by Anna Faversham

This was an interesting story that I was dragged into from reading the sample.  In fact I was on holidays with over 80 books loaded onto my kindle to choose from, but once I started reading this, I knew I had to get it to finish it.

Part time travel, part historical romance, part mystery, this was a very enjoyable read.  The back and forth between time periods gave the story a different edge to a normal romance. 

I think this is a very solid start for a new author.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Four Seasons Quest by Cecilia Peartree

This is the second book in the Oliver Quest series. Flora and Oliver are officially a couple, but love doesn't run smoothly for them.  Not when family members are being murdered and Flora is haunted by her past.

This series is set in post war London, and the countryside.  It is a gentle read - not withstanding the murders, muggings and beatings - and is set at a much gentler pace than people nowadays are used to.  Checking that someone's OK means a half day train journey, phoning someone means sending someone else to get them to a neighbour's phone.  I found this story just a bit slower than the previous one.

This is, however, a very enjoyable read, both in the story and the telling of it.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

An Odder Quintet by Michael Brookes

This is a selection of 5 slightly abnormal stories.  As with the author's other books and short stories, his twisted mind shows.  Whilst not X-rated, they have a creepy, tenseness to them.
In saying they are short stories, they have a meatiness to them.

I liked the first story the best.  An evil prisoner enters an experiment that would be hell for most people.  All the stories are very enjoyable.  The fourth one is similar to one in the first collection and is just the radio talk of a group of soldiers stuck inside a house that isn't what it seems.  Whilst not my favourite, the tension was certainly ramped up with each call.

A decent collection indeed.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Seesaw II by Rosen Trevithick

Like Rosen Trevithick's first anthology, Seesaw, this is a collection of novellas, short stories and flash fiction.  I read some of the stories elsewhere as they are available as standalone books and in the KUForum anthology Off the Kuf volume 1, however this set of stories goes well with the author's ups and downs of her writing and her life.

The stand out piece for me is 'My Granny Writes Erotica'.  This is a wonderfully funny story of a granny needing to raise money and deciding her book can be published on kindle.  

The first story 'A Stormy Afternoon in Falmouth Harbour' is edge of your seat stuff and makes you not want to put the book down.

The flash fiction pieces work well as they kind of follow on from each other and when you get to the next one you have to read it.

I'm not really a fan of Trolls, but this was readable in that you get the human version of the story in 'The Other Father' which is quite a powerful piece, then the Troll version which was interesting in a writing way to me rather than a troll story way.

Even if you've read one or two of the pieces of this anthology elsewhere, you get a lot of story for your money in this anthology.


Saturday, 30 November 2013

Lost Wife Saw Barracuda by John Kean

As a lapsed scuba diver who did my first dives in Sharm, I was drawn to this book.  There are a lot of “me, me, me” books about at the moment, some of which are good and some are just somebody’s diary that should be kept hidden away.  This one, however, was a delight to read.

The over-riding arc of this book is the author’s tale of teaching a group of students to dive.  In between he tells various stories, both funny and very serious.   He tells of his life living and working in Sharm and also some occurrences such as the bombing of Sharm in 2008 with him being on the scene at the time.

I was reading this on holiday and I hadn’t dived for 5 years and was a bit nervous about going back in, but it actually made me want to go diving again, so we had a refresher lesson and a nice dive.  Having read some of the skills he teaches and how the students coped with them actually helped me a little.

I found this a very enjoyable read.  Would it appeal to anyone who hasn't been diving?  I'm not sure, but I'd say probably as there are many tales about human character and less about the fish.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Off The KUF Volume 1

This is the first of 3 volumes of short stories, drabbles and novellas from the KUForum's authors.
I am a big fan of many of the authors who hang out there, so I knew I'd like this book.  I was wrong, I loved it.

From the start with Lynda Wilcox's story 'Intelligence Test' to 'The Last Story' I was enthralled throughout.

I'll just mention some of my favourites.

The first one 'Intelligence Test' is a great opener.  Malcolm is up for a job which is on offer at the Foreigh Office.  The test seems way too hard in a simplistic way.  Who will get the job and what is the job anyway?

The very next story is by David Haynes and of course is one of his trademark creepy, macabre stories - a bit of a ghost story.

'Blackberry Crumble' by Cecilia Peartree is a longer "short" and I really enjoyed that one.  It is always great to read a new Auto story from David Wailing.

Rosen Trevithick has 2 parallel stories in this collection.  One is a Troll version and it is interesting to read them together.

'The Last Story' by H.K. Abell was intriguing and interesting and as it progressed it made me wonder about the sanity of the author.  The ending is well weird, but I think I liked it.  I thought it was an interesting way to finish off this collection

Of the 30 stories in this collection there was only one I didn't like, which is not bad going for such a large collection.

There are highs, there are lows, there are scares, there are laughs and there's the origin story of The Imp.  Oh and Trolls.

There are definitely some new authors here for me to go and investigate.


Last Christmas by Talli Roland

As with any Talli Roland story, you know what you will get and with this I wasn’t disappointed.  Lucy’s previous Christmas was her worst ever when she proposed to her boyfriend in Paris only for him to dump her.  She’s had a miserable year and is persuaded to have the best Christmas party ever this year.

I did find this a bit short for my liking, but that’s because I love reading Talli Roland’s work.  The story itself was very well written and extremely enjoyable.  Definitely a “sit down, start it, oh, I’ve finished it, where did the time go” book.

In saying that the story is a bit short for me, it didn’t lack any detail or story.  The characters were great. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Interrogating M T McGuire

Here’s M.T.McGuire.  She’s mad she is.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?
To be honest, I don’t. I have no idea what other people want to read, all I know is what I want to read. So I write that and hope that it bears a vague enough resemblance to what other humans like for them to enjoy it. I do sometimes keep a picture in mind of the kinds of other people who I think might like it; my teenaged nephew, a friend’s teenaged sons and me.

The thing is, I can’t sell something I don’t believe in. Actually, I can’t do anything I don’t believe in. So I have to enjoy my stuff – and I hope that if I do it’ll make it easier to convince other people they will.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

I love playing with scientific ideas. I get a grain of truth and extrapolate an imaginary edifice the size of a galaxy from it. Doing that is a lot of fun.

Having grown up with lots of 1960s re-runs of things like the Saint, the Avengers, the first StarTrek series and the Cantina scene from StarWars, I’ve always enjoyed making up my own worlds, and species, with their own rules. Although my current project , the K’Barthan Trilogy, is set in a parallel reality rather than in space. It’s sort of liberating if not all the characters in my stories are human. It also makes it easier to deal with real world issues honestly without offending anyone.

I also really enjoy fantasy, that getting lost in a different world. That said, I don’t really feel equipped to write proper dragons and elves style fantasy. I read, with awe, books by people who can. But I fear my book about dragons would be buried under an avalanche of feedback from people who know more about them than I do, telling me I’d done it wrong. Hmm... that sounds very much as if I’m too chicken, which I probably am.

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?

Absolutely. I have notebooks. Stacks of them, and I keep them all. I still refer to the back of my notebook from 3 years ago when I want the number of my son’s school. I have one with pages of silly names. Corporal Punischment, Colonel Ischzue and Private Land are all in there, as well as lots of other ‘characters’. Many are place names which sound like people, usually signposted off the A1: Leighton Bromswold and Carlton Scrope appear in my current work.

I also use pictures and music. One book is three lines of dialogue and a picture of an aeroplane, so far. Another is a single song.

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed like...er...bunnies)?

Unfortunately, I incorporate nearly all of them into the story and a lot of them can end up working out quite well.

However, I quite often end up rewriting them or binning vast tracts of stuff and starting again with a slightly different aspect of the same idea. It’s as if I have to look at all sides of the situation before I can work out which way to go.

The hard bit is when it’s wrong and you know you’ve got to get the scissors out or just rewrite it hugely. It’s always sad to cut a character out, but I suppose you just have to convince yourself there’s more where that came from. I usually save a new version of my book so I have the old stuff there if I change my mind. I’m on version 23 of my current one.

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with?

Some of my characters are hybrids, some contain bits of my own personality, usually because when they’re in a tricky situation and I need to empathise and make it convincing I do so as myself. There’s nobody who’s wholly me or wholly someone else. I don’t want reality getting in the way. I really like Ruth and she’s probably the ideal me but then, it would be very liberating to be as much of a git as my baddie.

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

McOther reckons that I devote about 5% of my brain power to the real world at any given time. I’m not sure it’s quite that bad – it must be over 6% – but certainly, if the real world demands too much of my attention I get extraordinarily cranky. Writing is my crystal meth, my not so secret addiction. It’s why I always call myself an authorholic.

Getting back to the question...The thing really worrying me is that when I’m old and have lost my marbles, I will start to think my characters are real. I’m not sure McMini or McOther are going to appreciate being referred to by the names of imaginary beings, most of whom are not even human. I certainly have no idea how the nursing home staff will cope.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

Yes and no... I loved the Narnia Books. One of the first books I read on my own was The Magician’s Nephew. However, I also get a lot of inspiration from film and TV. Indeed that’s probably where I go for fantasy and sci-fi the most. In the world of books, I read absolutely anything that looks interesting and with a few notable exceptions very much outside the genre I write in. What spills out onto the page when I sit down to write is mostly inspired by dodgy 1960s TV. Imagine if someone like Terry Pratchett, only not as funny, had decided to write the Man from U.N.C.L.E.

What lengths do you go to o convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

Mwhah ha haargh! Probably not enough! I just tell people that it’s funny and there are flying cars in it. That would be enough for me, to be honest.

Actually, between you and me, I sell more out of the handbag than I do online. Perhaps because begging is more effective when it’s done face to face. Phnark.

No, no, nooooo! It’s not true! I don’t beg... much.

However, in real life, when people see the book they are usually interested because in real life not every single person I meet is an author. Online it’s much harder, most of the people I meet are writing something themselves and have a whole different set of criteria upon which to judge other works.

I find reviews help a lot – especially if they’re coupled with interviews or blog spots like this one. I try to do interviews and/or bludgeon people into reviewing my books regularly. Two interviews and two reviews each month are usually the difference between selling a handful of books or none at all.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

Gutted that I missed it (think Monty Python Fork Sketch) but delighted that someone else has picked it up so I can get rid of it!

What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums?

It’s a good laugh. I really enjoy the forums. Writing is a solitary profession and I guess the forums are my water cooler. This is one aspect of the internet where the fact there are lots of other writers is just brilliant. They are smart, they know stuff and they are happy to share their expertise and advice. If I’m going through a difficult patch with a book or if the Real World is being a pain in the arse, there’s always someone else in the same boat or who understands.

What is on your near horizon?

My feet and beyond those, the telly. OK, sensible answer, I’m nearly at the end of the K’Barthan Trilogy. About 75% of the third book is written, and the other 25% is all tied up. What I have to decide now is whether this book, the ‘third’ and ‘final’ one, is actually books 3 and 4.

Where can we find you for more information?

There’s quite a lot of it. But basically, if you say hello to me in any of these places I am more than likely to reply. Here goes:

Lots of info about my books and links to where they are on sale www.hamgee.co.uk/books

Social Media:
Twitter: @mtmcguireauthor
Twitter profile (for easy following) https://twitter.com/MTMcGuireAuthor
Amazon: http://Author.to/MTMcGuire – this will take you to my author page, with all my books, at your local Amazon.
Tumblr: http://mtmcguire.tumblr.com/ caveat, I’ve no idea what to do with Tumblr but wordpress offered to add my blog posts and it seemed churlish to refuse.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Chocolate, Lies, and Murder by Sibel Hodge

This is the fourth in the Amber Fox mysteries.  You don't necessarily need to have read the other 3 as this is a stand-alone mystery but it helps to know the background to the characters.

Amber is due to marry Brad in a week's time.  If things were to run smoothly, then there'd be no book. As it happens, Brad gets mixed up trying to protect his ex Aleesha from a stalker threatening to kill her.  Amber didn't even know Brad had gone out with glamour model and TV tart Aleesha.

This is a fun novella, very easy to read and I enjoy reading more of the characters in this series.  Amber's mum gets a bigger part as she gets involved with some undercover spying.  At times Amber got on my nerves for doubting Brad, but she's a feisty lady and pulls everything together - mostly.

The product page for this says it's 154 pages.  It felt like a longer story than that implies.  It didn't feel too short, it felt like a proper sized story.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Sugar Men by Ray Kingfisher

Susannah is 80 years old and dying.  She should have died 65 years earlier in a concentration camp but didn't.  This is her stories of now, then and just a bit earlier.

Yes, this is a harrowing story of a part of history no one really wants to read about, but this is weaved in with Susannah returning to put her demons to rest.  The different parts of the story are written in different tenses and once I got the hang of it, it was easy to follow.

Ray Kingfisher has written very different stories, and I've loved every one of them.  This was a bit similar in tone to Matchbox Memories in that it was about families and coping with them.  Even though this is obviously about a time of utter horror, I didn't find it too bad, the story was a small scale one of a family trying to cope with a new life they did not want.  I did cry towards the end so I am glad I didn't save this for a holiday read.

In my opinion, this is a special book, a hard story but told with sympathy to the subject.  Don't be afraid of it.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Dark Stone by Mark R Faulkner

I started reading this story without the first idea of what it's about.  Mark Faulkner is one of the authors that I will read their book, whatever it is.

This story was about a young boy in ye olden times who loses his family to the plague and has to survive on his own wits.

This is a gory story at times, what with dying of the plague and dying of being chopped to death and it's not a happy story at all.  The author sets the scenes so well I was feeling cold and wet most of the time.

This is yet another good book by this author, very enjoyable indeed.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Music of the Spheres by Julie McLaren

When God realises mankind is about to ruin Earth, he gets a bit miffed and decides to have words.  The people of Englandshire don't notice the plagues He sends as He is a bit out of practice and so He decides he needs to do something a bit more to get on the nightly news.  Nigel comes to His attention, so He decides that Nigel shall be His prophet.  As you can imagine, Nigel is not too impressed with this turn of events.  All Nigel wants is to be abducted by aliens.

With a plot synopsis something like that, how could I not be drawn in.  Just a few paragraphs and I was hooked.  This is a delightful story.  Just the right side of surreal and it's very small town British.  It is witty without being overly clever.

I liked the character of Nigel.  He really doesn't want to do much, just get on with his small life looking to his big horizons.  I also liked God and the supporting characters.  They were well rounded out.

In short this was a treat of a read that I came across unexpectedly and it's reads like this that make me love my Kindle and finding new authors.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Few Are Chosen by M. T. McGuire

The Pan of Hamgee is a coward.  This  comes in very useful when he's on the blacklist and has only his wits and his cowardice to keep out of trouble and stay alive.  However he soon gets caught up in the very trouble he's avoiding.

Even though I knew I'd like this book, it took me a few goes to get into it.  As it's an other worldly adventure, I kept getting thrown by mention of characters' greenness and antennae.  But once I got used to that and once the heist got going, I got carried along myself.

This was a gently funny story.  I liked the characters of Ada and Gladys as they seemed to know more than they let on.  The Pan was likeable enough and made a lot of sense in his trying to keep out of trouble.

I had a big problem in that the story ended kind of in the middle of a bit of action.  The first chapter of the next book was included and that wrapped things up a little better.  I think if that first chapter was this book's last chapter, then it would have been more satisfactory and tidy.


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Saying Goodbye to Warsaw by Michael Cargill

This is a story set in a Ghetto in Warsaw during the war.  We follow one family of mum, 17 year old son and 9 year old daughter in coping with this extreme change of life.  Horrors are never too far away, hunger is always with them.

They don't do anything special, they aren't heroes, they are just living from day to day, hoping they get to see another one.

Whilst not much happens, I was glued to this story.  I knew the outcome, whatever it would turn out to be, would be bleak.  Not many people back there and then had happy endings.  This author's stories are about the journey, not the destination and I was certainly carried along.
When I put the book down, I'd be thinking of the characters and wishing for a happy ending for them.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Interrogating Simon Jenner

Meet Simon Jenner, action and adventure author.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

I try to write what I’d like to read as second guessing what the reading public would like is a minefield. This means that I aim for a book that is action packed, character driven, not bogged down in too much description and where the baddies get what is coming to them. I hope there are other readers out there that enjoy this sort of book.
The only compromises I make are to stick to one genre per book. I have a few drafts where I’ve merged sci-fi with action, mystery or thriller but I will probably change them before unleashing them on the public.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

I write thrillers because they are an escape from life.  I can’t read books about the day-to-day lives of good people suffering, just as I can’t watch soap operas on the TV.  I need to take the bad people in life and ensure they suffer the consequences they deserve.  However, I like to write a thriller where the hero isn’t ex-SAS or somehow trained to be better than the rest of us.  In the Ethan Justice series, I was excited to write about a guy who couldn’t be more average (John Smith, nonetheless) and throw him into a terrifying adventure. 

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?

I’m forever having thoughts about characters, plots, dialogue etc but it wasn’t until I got an iPad that I’ve been able to keep track of them. Now as soon as the thought occurs to me, I dictate it on my iPad and email it to myself.  I organise these mails in various folders so that I can peruse them later and use them when and where appropriate.

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed like...er...bunnies)?

I try to keep my writing tight to the plot as I go, even when I’m not sure what happens next myself.  I often come up with secondary plots that I use but I never stray too far from the original path. These bunnies haven’t really troubled me so far – they’re mainly breeding a completely different plot so I just keep a note of them for future books.

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?

There’s a bit of me in many of my male characters.  I have so many flaws it’s great to be able to make my fictional characters suffer in the same way and then see how they cope. John Smith, from the Ethan Justice series, is my favourite character by far.  He has my sarcasm and an inbuilt instinct to do the right thing but I’d need to be a few hundred times braver, 20 years younger and good looking to be any more like him!

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters? 

I think my wife would prefer me to get so wrapped up in my writing that I could crank out the words more quickly, but no, once I’ve had a long day writing, I tend to want to chill out as myself, so she’s stuck with the real me!

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

I’ve mostly been reading thrillers recently although I do occasionally read books in other genres that are recommended to me directly by friends on Goodreads. I also tend to stick with indie authors at the moment to support the cause and to see what they are up to.

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

I’m still trying to work out the whole marketing process.  I always believed that if a book was good then it would find its market.  But who was I kidding?  I’ve rewritten my book description several times with a view to convincing readers it is exciting and worth a try, but I think reviews are the main factor that persuades readers to try a book. The trouble is no one sees the reviews if they don’t find the book’s page so I’m slowly working on getting copies of my book out there, in the hope of more reviews, as well as getting people to my book’s page one way or another.

However, here’s a pitch for the X factor of the Ethan Justice series given that you asked! It is different from other action thrillers in two ways. Firstly the hero is NOT a highly trained professional who can kick arse at the drop of a hat as is the case in many thrillers today. Instead my hero is born of circumstance - a lost soul with hidden depths that only surface under extreme conditions. Ethan Justice: Origins is a story of self-discovery where danger lurks around every corner and the reader can relate to the everyman as he battles his risk-averse nature to become the man of the moment.   Secondly readers can really get into the head of the antagonist. He is written in the first person present tense so I could really put across what made him tick. This brings him to life and allows the reader inside his disturbed mind.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

Grateful, but frustrated. I cannot believe how many times I (and my editor, wife and beta readers) can read the book and still find mistakes. They breed like bunnies! The only good thing is that any mistakes can be corrected quickly and easily in today’s digital book world.

What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums?

Chatting with readers and other authors is very eye-opening and also makes what can be quite a lonely profession much more interactive. I love to hear what readers like and dislike in other books, how they find the books that they choose to read and what they are up to in their everyday lives. I also like to chat with other authors to hear about their latest projects, successes and what they are doing in terms of marketing. I have made quite a few good friends that I’ve never met but chat to regularly. The only downside is that my TBR list grows too fast and with the limited reading time I have, I will never get through it.

What is on your near horizon?

I am currently writing Ethan Justice #3 and have the start and many ideas for book #1 in a new series. I’m hoping both will be out before Christmas but I tend to be overoptimistic in terms of what I imagine I can achieve so we shall see.

Where can we find you for more information?

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Ethan Justice: Origins by Simon Jenner

This is the first in what will be a series of adventures of Ethan Justice.  However, this being the "Origins", the lead character is named John Smith.  John is an aimless 31 year old who is living off his parents soon to run out goodwill.  When he finds his best mate dead, he's cast into a world where everyone's after him and he has to cope being chased round London.

As an adventure story, this was quite enjoyable.  It seemed like it was heading to one conclusion, but then swerved.  It is first person, but at times, the bad guy had the first person, but as this was in itallics it was a good change of perspective.

Some bits of the book seemed to drag a bit and I thought that John's quick conversion into "action man" was a bit too quick, but apart from that, a jolly good romp.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The See-Through Leopard by Sibel Hodge

Jazz is sixteen years old, she lost her mother in a car accident that gave her scars to her face.  She is very conscious of this and everyone pointing and staring at her.  Her father (a Longleat vet) decides they are going to Kenya for a year to work at his friend’s safari lodge.  Jazz doesn’t want to go and doesn’t want to join in.  Soon after arriving, at her lowest, she finds a leopard cub whose mother has been killed and decides she wants to take care of it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, it was just lovely.  It wasn’t soppy or over the top, the story also deals with the harsh side of running lodges, with poaching and killing.  As I was reading it, my eyes often misted over for a range of emotions, happiness, pride, sadness.

This was a lovely story (can you tell I thought it was lovely, lol) just the right mix for teenagers and adults.  It’s a coming of age story for both humans and leopards.


Friday, 23 August 2013

Interrogating Tom Barber

Introducing Tom Barber, a young blonde author who writes about Sam Archer, a young blonde policeman.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any? 

For me, the two are the same thing. I am your typical thriller fan; if I purchase a book, I want every last drop of adrenaline I pay for! Writing a book is a major, time-consuming commitment, so if I’m going to do it I’m damn well going to come up with something that both myself and other people will enjoy.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in. 

This might be slightly unusual for an author to admit, but I'm a movie fan first, book fan second. I’ve always read tons of books and love good ones, but I'm not ashamed to admit my favourite thrillers take place on the big screen. I’m not talking about recent work either; I’m talking about The Terminator, T2, Die Hard, Alien and my all-time favourite movie, Aliens.
All those films are perfect examples of what I’m trying to achieve in my work.
Jaw-dropping action, and tension. The highest of stakes. Characters that seem so real you couldn’t bear the thought of them not making it to the end credits. Intense emotion as well as action, and a pulsating 3rd Act that takes your breath away. I can remember vividly the first time I saw each of those movies, and I can say without a doubt they are my biggest influence as a writer.
I try to tell my stories in a very visual way so my books can be enjoyed like movies.
And most importantly of all, I want my thrillers to blow you away!

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them? 

I always remember good names when I hear them! I’ve used a few already, like Porter, Farrell, Wicks, Drexler, Rivers and Jorgensen, but have others stored away. Naming a character can be surprisingly difficult; sometimes, it can take me a number of attempts before I get it right.
In terms of other ideas, I scribble stuff down as it comes to me. I leave them near my computer or around the house but luckily, no one else can read my handwriting!

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed like...er...bunnies)? 

Simple: cut them out. The best thrillers are lean and mean, with no extra fat. I’ve thought of quite a bit of stuff that I’m currently saving for later books, good ideas that don’t quite fit a particular story I’m working on at that moment.
If you’re going to be a successful thriller writer in the long run, you need to pace yourself!

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ? 

My lead character, Sam Archer, is the most obvious person I share similarities with (he’s slightly more heroic than me though!). I have the same kind of sense of humour as his best friend, Chalky, but like Archer I hate coffee, don't eat breakfast and get restless pretty fast.
Archer’s situation in my first book, Nine Lives , was very similar to my own when I wrote the novel. Unlike a lot of thriller heroes, he is very young in that story, only twenty six, but is desperate to be given an opportunity to show what he can do. I felt the same way in my own writing career. Luckily, we’ve both been given our chance. 

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters? 

Luckily I’m 26 years old and single, so that isn't a problem! I often try to come up with dialogue and talk to myself when I walk the dog, so people I pass probably think I’m crazy.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write? 

Yes. But there’s a catch.
In all honesty, aside from most of the Jack Reacher books, I can’t remember the last thriller I started and actually finished. In my opinion, I think the genre is running the risk of becoming slightly stale, much like the vampire/werewolf craze. The thriller genre is chock-a-block with ex-Special Forces soldiers or government-trained assassins struggling to move on from their pasts.
With Archer, I’ve tried to do something different.
Given that he is still young, just 28 at this point, he doesn’t always have the answers and he feels just as much fear, pain and regret as the rest of us. In response to your question, I grew up on Stephen King, David Gemmell and Lee Child. I think you can see elements of each author in my work; heroism, shades of horror, action and character.

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor? 

Check 'em out, guys. Trust me; you'll enjoy them. I try to make each one like a roller-coaster, stories that will stay with you and make you feel a bit better about everyday life when you read the last page. However, I want you out of breath by the time you finish, so I’m not going to make it easy!

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

Appreciative. It used to jar me when I spotted a mistake in a book I was reading, but then I realised after going through each of my books about forty times (no exaggeration) with my editors that Microsoft Word can seem to have a mind of its own! An advantage of Kindle books is that such things can be corrected in a matter of hours.

What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums? 

I love interacting with people who’ve enjoyed my work, plain and simple. I don’t get to meet a lot of readers who’ve read my books but it’s always nice to correspond with them.

What is on your near horizon? 

Aside from writing a stack of more thrillers, I’m planning to set a up a film production company in several years. I want to start seeing some of my work on the big screen, most likely starting out as independent film. I recently released a thriller novella called Condition Black which could well be the first thing I want to see go into production.
I’m also going to be living on the road for the next few years before I settle down; the beauty of writing is one can do it anywhere, and there’s a lot of the US and Europe that I want to explore. By the time I was 22 I'd already lived in 5 different continents, so I think travelling around is in my DNA!

Where can we find you for more information? 

I’m active every day on my Twitter handle @TomBarberBooks. Go there if you’d like to sign up to my mailing list, check out my work and website, or just get in touch! I’d love to hear from you.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tom-Barber/e/B008GLXTLC/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 

Thanks for your time Joo!