Friday, 27 January 2012

KREATIV Blogger award

Over the past couple of days I have been nominated twice for the prestigious KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD. I'd never heard of it, so I looked it up.

Apparently the winner gets about a brazzilion dollars, eternal fame, astounding good looks, endless wit and a few more people visiting their blog. As I already have all but the latter (except for the first 4) I decided to take part and in order to do so I have been told I have to reveal 10 of my darkest secrets and nominate 6 other bloggers in return.

So here goes, the 10 things no-one knows about me:

1. I toss and turn in bed, so I sleep inside out to save wear-and-tear on my skin

2. There's something very wrong with my nipples: the ones on my back are bigger than the ones on my legs

3. After 18 months I've almost finished my second book. Okay, so I'm a slow reader!

4. I am undefeated at Wii Mariokart (except for those times when my daughters beat me, and they don't count)

5. I smoke. Yeah, I know. I once read a leaflet about the dangers of smoking and immediately gave up: I haven't read a leaflet since.

6. At school Mr Taylor, the English teacher, voted me the boy least likely to complete a coherent fish sorbet topped with I showed her wrong

7. I like to think I'm funny, but your reaction to the first six answers will be the acid test.

8. I didn't get into software development until I was 37. I took a course in a Microsoft language and the company teaching me offered me a job as a tutor after 15 months.

9. I am hopeless at DIY

10. I'd much rather write than watch telly. In fact, I can't remember the last time I just sat and watched a film without the laptop in front of me.

Now for the 6 other bloggers I admire (in no particular order):

Dawn Torrens is a lady who has been through so much in her life, yet is such a wonderful friend, not only to me but to many others. She dotes on her daughter and her debut book Amelia's Story is the harrowing tale of her life, from birth to her late teens. @Torrenstp

Mike Wells gave me some great advice when I first joined twitter, and I've regularly poured through his blog for a greater insight into how writing really should be done. He was good enough to exchange a few emails with me when I was a Twitter newbie and for that I am most grateful. @MikeWellsAuthor

Scott Bury has been a friend on twitter for some time now (well, some time considering I've only been on there for 7 months). I got some sound writing advice on his blog, and one of his posts was just in time, preventing me from uploading my debut novel with over 200 typos. I corrected them and uploaded it with just 120 typos, but that's a different story! @ScottTheWriter

Rob Guthrie What can I say about Rob? He is the founder of, a site created to let authors give something back and make a difference to the lives of the less fortunate. Rob himself donates a percentage of the profits of his book sales to help pay for the tuition of a young man called Ben, whose fees at The Joshua School are higher than normal due to his special needs. Never have I met such a selfless man as Rob Guthrie. @rsguthrie

Cinta Garcia was an early follower on Twitter and one of the very first people to read Gray Justice and realise what a fantastic book it is (he says, tongue firmly in cheek). Since then we have become great friends. I even received a Christmas card from her, all the way from Spain! Her blog is fantastic and she is probably the most prolific retweeter I have ever known! @Austenite78

Michael R. Hicks was one of the first blogs I visited when I first joined Twitter as a virgin author. I read blog after blog hoping to learn a few of the inner secrets, but this one stuck with me. As Michael rightly pointed out, there are around 6 Billion people on the planet, and if only a quarter buy English-language books, there is more than enough to go round. That is why I am happy to retweet or mention books written by what some will call rivals. I realise that if my work is good enough, it will get onto enough Kindles and Nooks eventually. Thanks for opening my eyes to that fact, Michael. @KreelanWarrior

Okay, all done. Vote for me because I need the money so that I can quit work and buy a sound-proof, kid-proof study and get some actual writing done!

Friday, 20 January 2012

An interview with Dawn Torrens

It is a real honour to have had the chance to chat with Dawn Torrens, author of the harrowing Amelia’s Story. It tells the true story of a young girl born to a mother who resented her every breath and who made life intolerable for Amelia and her siblings.

Beaten almost daily by her mother and her string of boyfriends, Amelia eventually found her way into the care system in the 1970s. One would hope there was respite from the abuse, but it continued for many years to come.

I found it hard to believe that anyone could be so callous towards a child, let alone a parent to one of their own. Despite all this, Amelia grew up to be a loving, caring mother herself.

Her motto is ‘The child first and foremost’

Your name is Dawn, yet your book is called Amelia’s Story. Was there any reason for the name change?

Yes, I made a very conscious decision before I started writing my story to change the names of everyone who would be mentioned in my book. Basically to respect the privacy of each individual. I had spoken at length with my brother about this and he also agreed it would be for the best for all concerned.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My beautiful 3 year old daughter was my inspiration for writing “Amelia’s Story” as it is for her I have written my story. I knew the time would come one day when she would want to know about my past as all children do of their parents, this is a natural curiosity! I often wondered how I would tell her, or where I would begin, would I tell her everything, or hold back some things. That’s when I decided to write my daughter a book (my autobiography) I thought this was the best way for both of us. I can only hope and pray that she will feel the same when she is much older and I hand her my book.

What was the hardest part of writing Amelia’s Story?

Writing Amelia’s Story has taken me on the most incredible journey, I have re-visited places I thought I never would again, the hardest part for me was the research involved in my story, I had to request the help of the Shropshire social services, which took me back to Shrewsbury town. I needed access to all my case review reports and care records for all the years I spent in the state care system. One of the children homes I had spent a lot of time in had been converted into a records department, amongst other things. When I arrived a few years ago to go through all my records it was very emotional for me, as it looked the same. There were a few changes, such as the bedrooms were now offices, and they gave me a tour of the place as I was a former resident. It brought back so many painful memories, as this was the place where my brother and I were separated. Another thing I found very hard was the discovery of new information regarding events from our past. I discovered some very unpleasant incidents that neither my brother or I had any memory of.

It must have been terribly difficult to go from the regimented life in social care to making your own way as a young adult. What was your inspiration, your goal for the future?

What I found most difficult was the sudden realization that I no longer needed permission for just about everything including taking a bath or simply changing my clothes. Strange as it may seem, I suddenly had to make every decision for myself and I found it rather daunting to begin with. However I soon became accustomed to my new found freedom! My inspiration for my future was to never be a statistic. This was so important to me because I wanted and needed to do well in my future life (I guess to show every one that no matter how awful your childhood was, you can still triumph and go on to do well in your life and be a success - this was always paramount to me).

Do you have anything else in the pipeline?

I am currently writing my debut thriller novel “Obsession”, which is due out at the end of April. Following that “Amelia’s Story 11” will be released in the summer.

If you had to name the best book you’ve read, what would it be?

There are so many great books I could mention. However, the one that stands out for me is “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte, and I am a massive fan of Dickens.

What book are you reading now?

“The devil of light” by Gaelynn Woods

Dawn, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with us. We wish you the very best of luck with your next venture and hope Amelia’s Story gets the recognition it deserves!

This is a powerful true story of one young girl's struggle to survive the care system during the 70s, and 80s. Amelia has one wish and that’s to make it through to adulthood. However, the obstacles placed before her are proving too hard to bear and she starts to wonder about the peace and finality of her own death. Amelia can see no light at the end of the tunnel; she just wants to hold her own destiny in her own hands, but adulthood was so far way she could not even catch a glimpse of her dream.

Friday, 13 January 2012

An interview with R.S. Guthrie

I am so honoured to have had the opportunity to interview R.S. Guthrie, author of the Robert MacAulay series of books. His first book, Black Beast, has been very well received, with 29 five-star reviews so far. The sequel, LOST (synopsis at the bottom of the page), hit the shelves on January 1st 2012 and the response has been just as enthusiastic.

Rob is also the founder of RABMAD, promoting authors who are giving back from the sales of their books. Writers who give a percentage of their net proceeds to their own chosen cause, non-profit, or charity. The site, launched in late 2011 already has 46 authors signed up, a magnificent acheivement in such a short time.

Rob, when and why did you begin writing?

I used to make comic books as a kid, so if you count that, it’s been most of my life. However, I didn’t start writing fiction until I was in college. I love great stories and I think I have just always had a few inside me that wanted to get out.

How did you come up with the title for LOST?

I got to thinking about children who are abducted and are lost to their families—normal families that can be turned upside down to the point where they are lost themselves. Then, when the monsters are found that would cause harm to a child, I think we want to become lost ourselves—more like those evildoers so that we can somehow punish them.

LOST is the second in the Robert MacAulay series of books. What plans do you have for him in the future?

Well the third book in the series will tie a lot of things together and will likely finish the “Black Beast” or “Clan of MacAulay” series. It won’t be the end of Bobby Mac, though—that much I will let on. I have a lot more planned for him, but I think most of all he wants to get back to doing what he does best: being a detective in Denver, Colorado.

What was the hardest part of writing LOST?

I kept getting frustrated because the story was moving along but the word count was low. I finally had to let myself off the hook and realize the story is what matters, not how many words it takes to tell it. The story wants to be what it wants to be. Even the writer can’t force that. After I let go of the unnecessary pressure, all was well again.

What books have influenced your life most?

I’ve said before that my imagination is due in large part to all the Stephen King books I read as a child. It’s hard to quantify that because those books also taught me to love reading, which in turn taught me to love writing. There was also a trilogy of books by an author names Terry Brooks—the Sword of Shannara series. Wow. I could not put those books down, and they were 800-1000 pages each!

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Honestly I don’t think so. Once I finish a story, it’s done for me—literally carved into stone. Up until that point, however, I am apt to change just about anything! I have learned to let go after the book is released, though. Otherwise I would drive myself crazy.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

A great friend of mine named Mike was a huge supporter. He once created a “must read” book list for me. I knew he was extremely well-read and I was ready to move on from King and Grisham—away from mainstream bestseller authors. I knew he could recommend literally thousands—the guy read a book a day. I tried to narrow it down by asking for contemporary authors, mostly fiction—the list he gave me really changed everything for me when it came to the written word. I still look at that list today and still find books on there I haven’t read.

Rob, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to share your experiences with everyone, and I hope the Bobby Mac series achieves all the success it deserves.


Denver Detective Bobby Mac returns in this intense horror/thriller, set in the northern panhandle wilderness of Idaho. After receiving a phone call from his brother, the Chief of Police in Rocky Gap, Idaho, Bobby Mac travels north to assist in the investigation surrounding two gruesome murders and the abduction of an eleven-year-old girl.

These two seasoned cops---estranged brothers reunited---will bring all of their experience to bear in a case that threatens not only the safety of a small town, but also the sacred lineage of a family of heroes.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Interview with Russell Blake

I am delighted to introduce Russell Blake, international bestselling author of hits including Fatal Exchange, the Zero Sum trilogy and King of Swords, to name but a few.

Russell lives on the Pacific coast of Mexico, where he spends his time writing, fishing, collecting & drinking tequila, and playing with his dogs.

He is also a proud member of RABMAD (Read A Book, Make A Difference), a site dedicated to authors sharing their profits with worthy causes.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was a forgettable non-fiction idiocy I wisely hurled into the garbage, and I think drinking had something to do with the inspiration. But it gave me a taste of sculpting language to create tapestries of images, and that got me interested in trying my hand at fiction. I mainly read thrillers, so when I sat down to write my first fiction book, it was naturally in that genre. Fatal Exchange was driven by a desire to do several things - first, experiment with a writing style that was percussive; short, high-velocity chapters that are the literary equivalent of a season of "24." Second, to weave two completely disparate stories along until they dovetail and resolve. Third, to base the entire thing around a completely plausible conspiracy. And finally, to create scenes, specifically the torture scenes, that would make readers squirm - to get their attention, and to demonstrate that language, used effectively, can evoke powerful emotions and imagery. The result was Fatal Exchange.

What made you choose a female protagonist for Fatal Exchange?

It really never occurred to me not to write her as female. I generally get my story ideas as single sentence bursts. This one was, "Hot NY female bike messenger stalked by serial killer and foreign government." From that, I needed to figure out why the rogue state was hunting her, and who the serial killer was, and why he was targeting bike messengers. It made it much easier for him to target females given that so many of those types of predators do. And I thought it was interesting to create an outwardly strong, yet inwardly conflicted character who is constantly having to make difficult moral choices as her life is in danger. Not to pat myself on the back, but I think it holds together well, and the readers seem to like it, so all's well...

If you had to name the best book you’ve read, what would it be?

In the thriller realm, it would have to be Day of the Jackal. Just a game-changer of a book, given that when it came out thrillers were largely of the Ian Fleming, cartoonish spy sort. Jackal brought reality into the genre, and changed everything, and it also introduced the concept of the protag who is not only fallible, but borderline forgettable and weak, who still prevails over a larger-than-life evil. Silence of the Lambs would have to come close second. Best book ever would have to be David Foster Wallace's masterpiece, Infinite Jest. Just broke every rule I can think of, and fascinates with every sentence.

Have any of your books been based on real-life experiences?

Boy. Don't want to let the cat out of the bag here. Let's just say that there's some real-life experiences in every novel I've written so far, although I have never been a contract killer or a Mexican police officer or a female bike messenger.

In order to become a successful writer you need to get your book into the hands of readers. Which method of marketing has served you best?

I think social media like Twitter has been instrumental in establishing my brand, if you will, as an acerbic, smart, hopefully funny writer with a different take on many things. Doing free books has worked nicely, and gets the work into many hands, so that's something I plan to do more of.

Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't had much time to read over the last six months due to my writing schedule, but I've discovered several I like. David Lender, because I enjoy financial system thrillers, Steve Konkoly, because he creates atmospheric thrillers that appeal to me, and Gae Lynn Woods, whose first novel took me by surprise at how well written it was. But there are doubtless many I should read, and intend to, but I'm still so backed up on workload it may be months before I get down time.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I'm finishing up my first attempt at a Clive Cussler/Dan Brown type treasure hunt novel with my usual conspiracy/action styling, called The Voynich Cipher, which is actually a sequel to the Zero Sum trilogy of Wall St. thrillers, in that it uses Dr. Steven Cross from those books as the protag. The short pitch is "the world's greatest secret is contained in the pages of the most enigmatic document ever written." The Voynich Manuscript is real, and was written in 1440 or so, entirely in an encrypted code that has resisted all attempts to break it. Consensus is that it's not a fraud given the distribution of the glyphs, which are far too complicated for a hoax language, and yet it's confounded cryptologists for eons. It's now housed at Yale, where it is the biggest draw in their rare book library. It's fascinating because nobody knows what it actually says, and yet it's clearly the genuine article - so it's a lasting mystery. I thought it was an interesting basis for a novel - what if Cross was able to decrypt it, and it held a terrible secret that could change the world forever?

Who designed the covers for your books?

I have a wonderful, inexpensive designer who works for a book publisher, but moonlights. I can't say his/her name, but I can send anyone interested the e-mail for contact. I've been totally happy with the over a dozen covers so far, and everyone I've referred has also been happy, so I can do so with complete confidence and sincerity. Anyone interest should give me a shout at Books (at) RussellBlake (dot) com and I'll hook you up. I don't mind helping out fellow indie authors - we need all the help we can get. It's a tough road, and great editing and covers improve one's odds of making it, I think.

I would like to thank Russell so much for taking time from his heavy writing schedule to share his thoughts with us. For those of you not yet familiar with Russell’s work I can highly recommend his critically-acclaimed assassination thriller, King of Swords:

King of Swords is an epic assassination thriller framed against a gritty backdrop of brutal drug cartel violence in modern Mexico.

The G-20 Financial Summit is planned for San Jose Del Cabo. The world's pre-eminent finance ministers will attend, along with the presidents of the U.S. and Mexico.

Captain Romero Cruz of the Mexican Federal Police uncovers an assassination plot against the attendees. In a roller-coaster race against the clock, Cruz must track and stop El Rey, the "King of Swords" – a faceless super-assassin responsible for a string of the world's most spectacular killings, before he turns the G-20 into a slaughterhouse.

King of Swords is an intelligent, rule-breaking rush that shatters convention to create a richly-drawn story that's sure to shock and delight even the most jaded intrigue/adventure thriller fans.

You can find all of Russell’s books on his blog:
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