Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Friend and author, Karen Moore makes a welcome return...

...to the blog this week.  Hi, Karen and thanks for making time to be here, and we're talking about the importance of setting today.  Tell me, what's your take on this...

KM  Read any novel and you can’t fail to be struck by its setting – when and where the action takes place - and the key role it plays in the overall story.  In some novels, the setting is bold, clamouring for attention, a character in its own right, while in others it may be meek, a mere backdrop to the action.
Writers know that creating the right setting is vital for the mood and atmosphere of the story, taking readers where they want them to go and making them experience the appropriate feelings along the way.  The right setting adds another dimension and helps to carry and support the plot. It also influences and reflects the behaviour, reactions, and emotions of the characters.
Picking a familiar setting can create an instant bond with readers, while opting for a more exotic one adds colour and heightens the reader’s sense of escapism.  My personal preference as a reader is to go for the latter as I love being immersed in new surroundings.
As a writer I have gone for the unfamiliar, the bold option, in my two thrillers, Torn and Release, selecting the contrasting land and seascapes of Sicily and Wales to provide a vivid and dramatic setting against which the story develops and unfolds.  Both areas are rich in culture and history relevant to the themes explored in the books, as well as being breathtakingly beautiful.  Both places fascinate and intrigue me and were wonderful to write about.
My latest novel, Release, opens in a serene setting: a family barbecue on a beautiful summer’s day in Wales.  That serenity is shattered by the devastating news that Hanna’s estranged mafioso husband has been released early from a Sicilian prison.  She fears he may come after her and her young daughter, Eva. The revelation leaves her with a dilemma: she has been invited to Sicily to attend her best friend’s wedding, but can she really take the risk?
But even staying at home in North Wales may not be safe.  As the lines between Sicily and North Wales blur, Hanna uncovers a criminal operation that leads her to fear for Eva’s life all over again.  Caught up in a web of intrigue and fear, how far will Hanna go to protect the ones she loves?
In North Wales, the setting shifts from mountain to coast, from Snowdonia to Anglesey, takes in a short trip over to Dublin in Ireland, then shifts to Sicily, from idyllic boutique hotel out in the countryside to the streets of Palermo, before moving to the coastal town of Cefalù, and from there up into the Madonian Mountains.
Coastal town of Cefalù
Even the weather plays a role, fluctuating from hot to cold, extreme heat to storms and floods, from tranquil to menacing in line with the plot.
All this with a sprinkling of local cuisine, a prominent feature of both books.  One reader even told me that she now drinks a certain type of Sicilian white wine after reading about it in my first book, Torn.
I’m currently writing the third book in the series.  Although some of the main characters remain, the setting shifts away from Sicily to Rome and Calabria.  And what about future books, will they continue to be set in Italy?  That depends very much on the storyline and finding the most suitable location for it.
Wherever it is, it will have to be a place I find evocative and fascinating.  For me, the writing journey is just as important as the finished product.  Writers spend so much time and effort on their books, it’s vital that it’s a labour of love.  If writers love their books, there’s a good chance that their readers will too.

about the author... Karen is passionate about all things noir – crime, mystery, thrillers – and writes in that genre.
She has been writing all her life, mostly for work purposes, and is now delighted to be able to spend more time developing her own creative work.
Karen worked as a tour guide across Europe, North America and Canada, followed by a career in PR and marketing.  She has lived in France and Italy and is now based in Cheshire, England.
Her debut novel, Torn, is a dark tale of intrigue and betrayal set in Sicily and North Wales.  Her second novel, Release, has recently been published.  Release is the sequel to Torn but is a stand-alone novel in its own right.  Karen is now working on a third novel in the series.

You can get the books on Amazon and you can follow Karen on Facebook and on Twitter 


Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Friend and author, Allan Hudson returns to the blog this week...

...to tell the story behind his story in the Autumn Paths anthology.  Hi, Allan, and thanks for taking some time out to be here today...

When the idea for an anthology was first discussed with my co-authors, it was an exciting time for me.  Not having been involved in an anthology prior to Autumn Paths, I regarded it as a highlight to my writing projects.  To be able to rub shoulders with authors I admire and have read is a feeling which is difficult to describe.  To be involved in this collection is pure joy.
Once the theme was decided upon, I wondered how I could contribute.  Where would Autumn Paths take me?  Would my story be up to the caliber of my fellow authors?  Ideas drifted through my mind.  It kept getting stuck on the main character (MC) of my Drake Alexander Adventures.  How could I introduce Drake in a fun way to a different audience?  Anyone who may have read the novels would know Drake Alexander is a former NCO in the Canadian Armed Forces. Looking back over the stories, I never told the readers why he chose to become a soldier.  You’ve seen cartoons where the Light Bulb of an idea appears over their head, well, that is what happened to me.  I would contribute a story to the anthology of when my MC was a boy, when he had the magical moment of deciding he would become a soldier.
What fun it has been to create a cast of eleven years olds up to mischief.  The title of my story is Warriors and Trickery.  One of the eleven-year-olds falls naturally into the role of being the ‘leader’.  Imagine, if you will, hanging with a bunch of your friends on a Saturday in the fall.  The trees are full of color, the sun is shining and a path to adventure awaits you.  They are not all boys, one of their best friends is a girl who loves escapades.  You’re only eleven and full of curiosity.  Lots of time on your hands.  You have the toy gun one of your friends carved out of wood stuck in your waistband.  You’re not interested in boring stuff, but, when one of your buddies suggest soldiers and war games, all kinds of images will fill your head.  Your imagination runs wild.  Camo uniforms, walkie talkies, guns and other weapons, maybe tanks.  Knowing you shouldn’t be doing what the rest of your gang is considering, the temptation is too great and you tag along.
I hope Warriors and Trickery will take you back to when you were a pre-teen. Maybe share a few chuckles with their antics.  It is the most fun I’ve had writing any story.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.
about the book... Nine writers - Seasonal Collective - from both sides of the Atlantic, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have created this miscellany of stories.
These tales of family, mystery, intrigue, adventure, and suspense will take you across continents, through time and space in this world and others.  With a linking theme of autumn, discover new landscapes, encounter new and intriguing characters, uncover secrets and lies, and witness the resolution of old enmities.
Take the first step on this roller-coaster of an emotional journey, and you won't be disappointed.
You can get the book Here

You can read more about the anthology Here  and  Here  And you can follow Allan on his blog the South Branch Scribbler

In the New Year, there will be more visits from other writers who also have stories in the anthology.  
The next visitor will be Pierre Arseneault in February and you can read his post here Here  I hope you will join us then... 

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Please welcome friend and author Jeffrey Metzger...

... to the blog this week.  Hi, Jeffrey and thanks for making time in your very busy schedule to be here today.   Tell me all about your recent work of fiction...

Several years ago, before social media and in the age of blogs, there was a blog devoted to more or less gentle mockery of the wedding announcements in The New York Times.  The posts focused on the uniform lives of privilege led by almost all the subjects of those announcements, extended soft-focus profiles of the well-off and unruffled.  Since then, of course, economic and social equality has become a much more serious and often grim subject in American life.  The internet also seems to have become a much less happy and innocent place.  So what if those columns got the same attention, but instead of light-hearted jeering it was murder?
The Wedding Column Murders is about a series of murders that initially seem to point in this direction.  Is someone killing people profiled in the high society wedding announcements of a major newspaper, one new target each week?  This of course seems far-fetched, and there are other suspects and motives for each killing.  But as the bodies pile up a pattern seems unmistakeable.  Could this be someone with a socioeconomic axe to grind, someone trying to start a revolution, or just someone from the same world as the victims who has their own reasons for wanting them dead?
The story is told by Ethan Balfour, a younger member of one of New York’s elite old money families.  He finds himself in the midst of the investigation and various other complications, including the fact that his own sister’s announcement is supposed to run in the paper soon.  Along the way there is plenty of humor, sometimes from one of Ethan’s sharp-tongued acquaintances but more often from one of his oblivious peers.  
Of course a novel is not a sociological treatise (though I think all forms of writing tend to take on a life of their own once they’re started).  Characters need to be fleshed-out human beings, not mere symbols of a social class or a political problem.  Some of my favorite parts of the novel are dialogue from some of the more amusing characters.  In the end the novel is as much about despair and human psychology as it is a traditional mystery or thriller.
about the book…
Someone is stalking the members of New York’s wealthy elite.
A series of murders has targeted some of Manhattan’s most affluent families, and the connection appears to be the exclusive wedding announcements column in The New York Primrose.
Ethan Balfour, a young member of one such family, is thrust into the middle of the investigation when the police ask his help in navigating the world of his often preposterous – and oblivious – peers.  Now, he splits his time between the police and the world of old money and high society, trying to uncover what, if anything, links the murders.
Reluctantly, Ethan finds himself drawn ever deeper into the case – until its final shocking revelation.
Will the culprit be caught before another member of the illustrious circle falls victim?

You can get the book from Amazon 

You can follow Jeffrey on his Author Page and on Twitter

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

I'm reviewing The Passenger...

…by Ulrich A Boschwitz

Born in Berlin in 1915, Ulrich was the son of a Jewish businessman and factory owner who had converted to Christianity.  His father died, as a soldier in WW1, shortly before Ulrich was born.  Ulrich's mother, Martha, an amateur artist, took over the running of her husband's business interests and Ulrich was destined to take on his father's original role once he was old enough.  However, with rise of National Socialism in Germany in the 1930's, Ulrich's heritage would be brought into question.  Martha took her son first to Sweden in 1935 and then to Oslo to escape the growing constraints on their business and their personal lives. Ulrich's first novel - People Parallel to Life - was written whilst he was in Sweden.  The book was published in 1937 under the pseudonym of John Grane.
The immediate success of that first story meant that Ulrich could go to Paris to study at the Sorbonne.  Whilst in Paris he wrote The Passenger.  November 9th, 1938, became a date of note that year and has continued to overshadow history ever since.  It was the reporting of what happened on Kristallnacht along with other privations that the family had suffered whilst still in Germany that prompted Ulrich to write The Passenger, again under his assumed name.  The book took about four weeks to complete.  The first English version was published by Hamish Hamilton early in 1939 under the title, The Man Who Took Trains.
I mention all this history because it is so pertinent to the story.  Beginning with Kristallnacht, the novel follows the plight of Otto Silbermann, a businessman living through the November pogroms, who is helped to escape arrest by his protestant wife.  The novel follows Otto through his emotional shifts as he tries, desperately, to reconnect with his family, his friends and previous associates whilst hiding in plain sight of anyone who might report him to the authorities.  He spends days travelling by train in an effort to get out of the country and many of the scenes are based on actual personal or familial experiences.
Although a novel, there are many autobigraphical similarities - Otto tries to cross the border into Belgium but is caught.  Ulrich had a similar experience in Luxembourg.  The closeness of scenes in the book to real life give the text an edge of nervousness that I, in my blissful and peaceful 21st century existance, can only partially understand.  But the growing sense of desperation and menace that Otto experiences is there on every page.
As a character, I didn't particularly warm to Otto but then, when under such extreme duress, having lost everything, would any of us behave in a way that would encourage empathy?  Probably not.  Otto's shifts from absolute despair through to whimsical belief for a bright future in the Germany of 1938 were sometimes hard to read, but the inner workings of his mind were an insight into the daily terror that ordinary people had to face during that time.
I found the writing style a little difficult at the outset, but it soon became very clear that the narrative voice employed was the only one that could fit such a unique story - a unique story that had to be told.  I can thoroughly recommend this book as a fascinating view of a terrible time in our recent history.
As for Ulrich himself, he and his mother settled in England in 1939.  With the outbreak of war they found themsleves interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man.  In July, 1940, Ulrich along with over 2000 other internees, was put aboard the troop ship Dunera to be deported to Australia.  During the 2 month journey the internees were maltreated and any belongings they had were rifled through and stolen or thrown overboard.  The troops on board to guard the internees were mostly men who had recieved a pardon and been released from prison to help the war effort.  Luckily, Ulrich made it; arriving in Sidney in early September.
Two years later, in 1942, Ulrich was allowed to return to the UK.  His journey this time was aboard the MV Abosso.  On October 29th, the ship was torpedoed whilst in the Atlantic and sank.  T here were no survivors.  Ulrich was twenty-seven years old.
His short and contraversial writing life has meant that it is only possible now for his two books to be published in his native language, hence the latest English version of The Passenger, which is published by Pushkin Press.  Ulrich wasn't only a novelist, he also wrote poetry.  Regettably, very little of his verse is available to us to read.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Please welcome, friend and author, Natalie Cammaratta...

...to my blog today.  Hi, Natalie, and thanks for bring here today.  You have two young boys, Natalie, so how do you manage to make time to write with children???

NC  Hello, people of very good taste who follow Angela.  And thank you, Angela, for having me.
AW  Thanks and you're very welcome.
NC  My debut novel was recently published by darkstroke.  I started writing it a month before COVID blew up, and I found myself locked into my house with my sons aged two and four.  As if being a stay-at-home-mom with one child always home and the other only in part-time preschool, wouldn’t have already been an overwhelming situation to add writing to, 2020 made it even more of an adventure.
People frequently ask me how I’ve completed two novels in a little over a year and a half with little ones underfoot, and to be honest, I don’t know how it happened.  Sometimes it takes on that dream-like blur, and I’m not entirely convinced elves didn’t do it while I slept, and I was handed a couple of complete manuscripts.  The reality is, I did it whenever I possibly could.
Nap time, quiet time, whenever: I’d open up my laptop, which until then was only used once a week or so to pay bills.  I wrote after my children went to bed, sometimes staying up until 2AM to get to a scene I was particularly excited for. The nights were fine, but my little human alarm clocks tended to start going off around 6AM, and they don’t have a ‘gentle wake up with soothing sounds’ mode, so days didn’t start in a very pleasant way.
Author and helper at work!
That’s when I made the shift to reset my internal clock and become a morning writer—setting my alarm for 5AM so I could have some quiet time to write before my children woke up.
  It’s also when I started my coffee addiction.  I’ve heard it said, and found it to be true, you can’t find time to do something for yourself. There is always plenty to stop you, but you can make time if it’s something important.  That’s what I did, and I’m glad for it.
Falling & Uprising was signed thirteen months after I started writing it and published four months later.  Now its sequel Scattered & Breaking will be released in December.  It’s been fun, and stressful, and rewarding.  I’d do it all again.  Or rather, I’ll keep doing it.  I don’t intend to stop writing books any time soon.

about the book... Serenity Ward is the golden girl of Kaycie.  She never questioned her city’s status as the last dry land on earth.  The Establishment takes care of its citizens…or so she thought.  But now she’s seen the map!

Why would they lie about other islands just beyond the horizon?  In a city built on falsehood, figuring out who to trust is its own challenge, but Serenity pulls together a feisty group who all want the same thing—an end to the government which has hidden a world from them.

Bram’s anger drives his own desire for revolution.  Being from another island, he was selected to be a brainwashed marshal in service to Kaycie, but he knows what’s going on all too well.  Hidden in plain sight, he is ready to draw blood to free the islands.  Only dealing with Serenity is the one thing he wasn’t prepared for. 

Can two people who were never supposed to meet stop fighting each other long enough to remember who the enemy is?
Falling & Uprising is a young adult dystopian series, available for kindle and free on kindle unlimited.
You can follow Natalie on her website Website  on Instagram and on Twitter  
You can get the books on Amazon