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 

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. 

Thanks for your time Joo!

Nine Lives by Tom Barber

This is the first story in the Sam Archer series.  We are introduced to the young blonde policeman as he gets his first major action in the Armed Response Unit.  A terrorist is trying to impress his bigwig drug cartel leading uncle by sending 8 suicide bombers into London on New Year’s Eve.  

I found this to be an exciting roller coaster ride.  The tension and chase was always ramped up with the discovery of clues for the next terrorist to apprehend.  I think this is a great start to a series of books.  The author says he wants his stories to be like action packed films and he does a good job of it here.

If I was a criminal mastermind, I’d time everything to go off at once.  But then it would be a short book.  Bang.  The End

Duallists by David Wailing

This is David Wailing’s off-earth future imaginings.  Joel Miller takes an immediate and intense dislike to Reese when he arrives on the Moonbug for mining Mars.  All he thinks about is getting even and trying to kill him.  The feeling is mutual.  

As with the author’s Auto series, you get thrown into the future and it is believable.  You can feel the claustrophobia of being on a spaceship for years.  The tone is adult with a bit of graphic violence.

This was a tidy read.  I must admit I skimmed through some of the fighting scenes, but I do that anyway, I like to get back to the story.

This book is not available anywhere now.  It is one of David Wailing's first stories and you can see the seeds of where he got his Auto inspiration from.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Alloria by David Staniforth

I keep saying “fantasy is not my thing” but whenever I read it, I enjoy it.  Perhaps it’s because I tend to read the younger, lighter stories.  This is the story of Alloria who was found in a cellar at 3 years of age and is adopted by kind people.  Even though they are poor they have more than enough love for her and another orphan, Nat.
One day when she is 10 years old, they go through a portal in the cellar, back to her homeland.  She finds out she can do magic.  Then the journey starts to find her real father.

At times I feel Alloria is older than her 10 years.  But this was a story of friendship as well as adventure.  Even though this is aimed at the younger audience, I never felt as if I was being talked down to.  This was a lovely story and I’m glad I read it.