Category Archives: Guest Blog
Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett
Today I am delighted to welcome to my blog Rachel Amphlett the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels. Rachel has written a Guest Blog to talk about her new novel which is part of a new series involving Detective Kay Hunter. Here Rachel talks about the origins of a series and how the new series came about.
The origins of a series
After writing two novels in the Dan Taylor espionage series in quick succession, I wanted the opportunity to explore a new character that had been going around in my head for a while.
Several months ago, an idea popped into my head that comprised an entire scene. An accident had occurred, and a police detective had pulled over to the side of the road to see if the attending emergency services required assistance.
That one idea morphed into several pages of a new notebook. However, the more I wrote and the more I fleshed out the character, new ideas cropped up and it soon became apparent that I had a new series on my hands. Moreover, what I thought was going to be the first book in the series will likely be the third or fourth. And, unlike my espionage thrillers, this series centred around a female police detective in the UK.
Meet Kay Hunter.
As I fleshed out the ideas, one story in particular stood out for me as a way to kick off what I plan to be a new series. I began jotting down the various scenes that were going around my head, and then plotted the story out so that I had some sort of coherent plan to work on. I spent two weeks plotting about half of the story, and then began to write. Scared to Death came together really quickly. Once the story took hold and the characters started to stamp their authority on it, it became a very easy process. I think because time is of the essence for the investigating team, this sense of urgency translated to the actual writing and, I hope, to a fast paced read.
The one word I would use to describe Kay is “resilient”. She’s been through a hell of a lot in both her professional and her personal life, but I think this makes her more human and definitely someone to whom readers can relate.
She isn’t a quitter, but neither is she invincible. She realises that she can’t do everything on her own and compared to some fictional detectives, she is a team player – most of the time. When writing Scared to Death, I tried very hard to avoid any cliches that might normally be associated with a crime thriller. I didn’t want Kay to be a lone wolf, striking out on her own to solve the case with no help. There’s just no way that would be believable.
I also wanted to give the team around her a chance to shine, so Kay isn’t always the one that makes the breakthrough in an investigation.
I hope readers enjoy Scared to Death, and I’m really looking forward to sharing Kay Hunter’s next investigation in the not too distant future.
This is a new series by Rachel Amphlett in Scared to Death we meet Detective Kay Hunter. The book really starts fast and quick. A young girl has been taken and her panic stricken parents are doing everything they can to find her it is a desperate situation as they fear the worst for their daughter and when things turn out in the worst possible way, I could the pain and anguish and the sheer helplessness as well as the obvious grief pouring out of the pages.
Detective Kay Hunter is smart and a tough character and misses no stone that needs to be turned over. Though she may have a few secrets lurking in the shadows she and her team need to act quickly to stop the killer in his tracks before he strikes again. Time and speed are of the essence here. This is a superb crime novel that hits the ground running from page one and keeps the reader really on their toes. Rachel Amphlett’s writing is something to discover she knows how to write a crime novel and add some twists to keep everyone guessing. Thoroughly gripping read and if crime fiction is your favourite. This then is a must read.
Thank you to Rachel Amphlett for the guest blog and advanced review copy of Scared to Death.
The Scared to Death Official Blog Tour Continues
I am delighted to welcome Jennie Ensor as a guest on my review page as a guest blog talking about her forthcoming debut book Blind Side to be published on 23 July 2016. I will be reviewing Blind Side on 27 July.
How Blind Side came into being: inspiration, research, titles and more
First, I’ll tell you a little about who my story and who everyone is.
The main narrator is Georgie, a young woman at a critical stage in her life. She knows something important is missing from it, and she must decide whether to continue the path she’s on or to gather her courage to risk making a change. The second narrator is Julian, Georgie’s close friend, a slightly geeky chap who has nursed strong feelings for her but been unable to express them, because he knows she would probably run away. From the start, Julian is jealous of Nikolai, the Russian ex-soldier who nearly clobbers Georgie in a London pub.
I started writing Blind Side – or ‘Nikolai’ as I first called my work in progress – in early 2005, before the London terror attacks that July. Back then I had my three main characters, Georgie, Julian and Nikolai as a young Russian conscripted to fight in Chechnya. I knew I wanted to explore – among other things – the impact of war-time experiences on Nikolai, and that the story would involve guilt, loyalty and betrayal.
After 7/7, I realised I was going to make London and the terrible events that during that July a significant part of my novel. Like many other Londoners, I was deeply affected by the assault on our capital and the climate of fear and suspicion it evoked. The revelations that four terrorists were ‘home-grown’ (from Yorkshire) particularly struck me, and led me to incorporate the idea of an ‘enemy within’.
Blind Side is the novel’s third title. My editor suggested I change it to reflect Georgie’s viewpoint. After much indecision I managed to let go of Ghosts of Chechnya, which had been the title since 2008. I came up with ‘Blind Side’ during the early hours one near-sleepless night and knew it was probably The One. It fits the novel in many ways and sounds more like a thriller – also it doesn’t risk confusing the reader. Although past scenes are set within Russia and war-torn Chechnya, the present of the novel is mostly located in London (especially Kings Cross, Camden, Hampstead and Finsbury Park).
Research wise, much of my fact finding for this novel has involved reading copiously – and the internet. Goodness knows how many politically sensitive, suspicious-looking Google searches I’ve made, seeking information about Chechen separatist groups, the Russian mafia, murky goings on in the Russsia-Chechen war, the Beslan hostage crisis, the 2005 London bombings, etc etc. (A while ago, months before Edward Snowden’s revelations, I became rather paranoid and stopped discussing anything sensitive on the phone, just in case.)
Thankfully, some of my research involved visiting real places and talking to people. For ages I’ve been interested in abnormal psychology and the impact of trauma, but I didn’t know that much about Russia, Chechnya or the many years of conflict between the two regions. (President Putin’s ban on foreign reporters probably got me interested in this in the first place. Not that I was intending to go, but I did wonder what he was trying to hide.) I managed to track down two Chechens who’d fought against Russia and were willing to talk about their experiences. Other people helped me with all sorts of details, from Russian life in Soviet times to accidents on construction sites (an important strand in the novel).
Coming up with a genre for my book has caused me much grief, I freely admit. In the final (100th?) revision of the manuscript, I turned my sort-of contemporary novel into a psychological thriller with political overtones entwined around a love triangle.
I’ve gone for long enough, I think. 11 years since starting out on this project, I wait with anticipation laced with hyperventilating panic to see what readers will make of Blind Side.
About the author
Jennie is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. For much of her life she’s been a wandering soul, but these days she lives with her husband and their cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier. As well as from reading and writing novels, she loves poetry. Her poems, published under another name, tend to inhabit the darker, sometimes surreal side of life.
While on an extended trip to Australia, Jennie studied journalism and worked as a freelance print journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to the fate of Aboriginal Australians living on land contaminated by the British nuclear tests.
When not chasing the dog, lazing in the garden with a book or dreaming about setting off on a long train journey with a Kindleful of books, Jennie can be found writing or doing Writing Related Stuff. WRS can include singing and playing the piano (vital for destress) and watching thrillers/spy dramas on TV (research). She’s working on getting her second novel ready for publication, a dark and unsettling psychological thriller.
author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JennieEnsorAuthor
About BLIND SIDE
The story begins in London in 2005, a few months before the 7/7 bus and Tube bombings. Georgie agrees to have sex with Julian, her close friend from their university days. Wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, she is shocked when Julian reveals he has loved her for a long time but felt unable to tell her.
Soon afterwards Georgie meets Nikolai, an ex-soldier recently arrived from Russia. Despite her misgivings, she can’t resist him; Julian struggles to deal with Georgie’s rejection. Realising how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai, Georgie suspects that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.
Then London is attacked…
BLIND SIDE explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable? An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears
Blind Side by Jennie Ensor will be published by Unbound on 23 July.
I will publish a link as to where you can buy a copy of Blind Side in my review on Wednesday 27 July.
Blind Side by Jennie Ensor The Official Blog Tour.
The Last Word Review
Guest Blog – Owen Mullen
It gives me great pleasure to bring you a guest blog from a new author to me who I know will excite many readers. On my review blog I review books from successful writers and it is always a great pleasure to review books from those writers who are just starting or have recently started their writing journeys.
Today I would very much like to introduce a writer that is new to me but I know some already are enjoying his writing. Today Owen Mullen joins me on a guest blog to tell us how he became a writer. To-date Owen has written two books: Games People Play and his latest Old Friends and New Enemies.
The Bridges We Burn
Looking back, it seems to me that my whole life has been a long series of burning bridges. I have never thought of myself as a ‘risk taker’ although a quick glance at my history tells a different story.
As a teenager I was obsessed with music and formed a band with a couple of friends which led to the re-invention of myself from a short-haired assistant to the inspector of weights and measures [the first job I has after I left school] to a long-haired bass player, travelling the country in a beat-up Transit; singing songs about love – although I’d never been in love – and freedom – without ever having known a single day of oppression in my life. None of that was important. What was important was smiling at the girls at the front of the stage.
After about a year, I packed in the ‘assistant to the inspector…’ lark and went professional; a fancy way of saying we didn’t have other jobs. Years later I went to London, joined other bands and became a session singer. I had already started writing songs with another guy and managed to create a stir. For a while we believed we could crack it. But it didn’t happen. I returned to Scotland.
That was the end of the first re-invention.
Music had been a fabulous distraction but a distraction nevertheless. Without it to give me direction, I found myself singularly unqualified for just about everything so I set to putting that right. In the space of half a dozen years I went from sad old muso to Owen Mullen. MSc DipM MCIM. The transformation was remarkable though it didn’t fool everybody. A colleague saw the string of credits after my name and said. ‘Very impressive. What is it you’re insecure about exactly?’
He was joking but of course he was correct. In an attempt to catch up on the people whose evenings had been spent studying while I was in some garage practicing I had turned myself into an education junky. I gave the textbooks to the charity shop.
The second re-invention had crashed and burned.
For a guy who didn’t think he was much of a risk taker the next move was bold. And how it came to be was positively spooky.
I had left a large local authority where I would, most probably, have a job for life and went to work for one of Scotland’s top visitor attractions. I learned a lot there and met some good people. But I wasn’t happy. My wife, Christine, and I had always been great travellers: India, the Brazilian Amazon, Botswana, Nepal; the list goes on and on.
During one trip to Borneo, we were walking along a rope ladder high up in the rain forest canopy. Christine is much braver than I am; she went faster and was soon way ahead. I looked over my shoulder and saw someone – a woman – coming behind me. When she had almost caught me she said, ‘Excuse me. Are you from Scotland?’
I admitted I was.
‘Is your name, Owen?’’
This in the middle of the Borneo jungle!
‘You gave me a job. Don’t you remember?’
I didn’t remember and let her go. This happened in Poring Hot Springs on Mount Kinabalu. We went off to bathe in the water produced by the volcanic activity under the earth. In the bath Christine told me she wasn’t pleased.
‘You’re crazy. Don’t you realise what just happened? You’re at a crossroads. We believe there’s no such thing as coincidence. This is synchronicity. You meet someone who knows you in the bloody jungle – what are the chances? – and you don’t twig she’s carrying a message for you.’
An hour later, when we were leaving, this woman was waiting by the side of the road trying to get a lift down the mountain. We stopped and invited her to share our car. At lunch she told us her story and the message for me became clear. She had become dissatisfied with her lot in Scotland and had decided to go to Australia: the job, the boyfriend, and everything else were gone as she took a leap into the dark.
I never saw her again but she changed my life. I returned home, put in my notice and started my own marketing and design business. Another re-invention.
For the next seven years I ran that business and liked what I was doing.
But it couldn’t last.
We had just come back from a trip around Europe. One stop had been Athens and the island of Santorini. It was September; the weather was wonderful. We loved it. A few weeks later, in Scotland, an idea came into my head.
‘Why don’t we build a house in Greece and spend time living in the sun?’
Christine thought for a whole five seconds and said, ‘Okay. Let’s do that.’
It took a while and there were many obstacles to be over-come. Eventually we left Scotland for our new home. Re-invention number…Who’s counting?
No sooner had we arrived than the economic climate changed. The dream was in danger of becoming a nightmare. One leap too many perhaps? The gods were angry at me for spurning the many pieces of good fortune they had bestowed on my unworthy – fickle head.
What was to be done?
‘I know,’ I said. ‘I’ll become a writer.’
Christine said, ‘Are you sure. You haven’t really written very much, have you?’
And I did.
As I write this I am 10,000 words into my seventh book. Two books – Games People Play and Old Friends and New Enemies – are already on Amazon and I am firmly established as an author.
How long will it last? Is this finally it?
Watch this space.
I’ll be watching too. And nobody will be more interested than me.
One final thought. I read a quote recently that spoke to me.
“May the bridges I burn light the way.”
Boy do I understand where that guy’s coming from.
Look out for a review of Owen Mullen’s latest novel Old Friends and New Enemies very soon here. Both books are available to buy through Amazon.co.uk Here
Institutionalised by Kevine Walcott
Guest Blog on The Last Word Book Review
I am delighted to welcome Kevine Walcott to The Last Word Book Review with a guest blog presenting her new memoir that will shock anyone who reads it.
Institutionalised: When Government Abuse with Mental Illness.
What if you wake up one day and find yourself at the centre of online troll (abuse), and only months and years later to be told you are mentally ill when talking about your experience? What happens when the only witness of what goes on in your home is you and your perpetrator? When the police, intelligence services and doctors are in bed together there is no end to your suffering. Being told it is all inside your head and having no place to run and no one to turn to for help. These scenarios may sound like a nightmare, but for victims of government harassment these experiences are real. One in four of the population will suffer from a mental health condition at least once in their life, but to have mental illness being used as a punitive psychiatric policy is too much to stomach.
I was once a globe-trotting business owner; confident, happy and seemingly untouchable. However, after becoming the victim of YouTube cyber-attacks, I found herself institutionalised at an NHS facility and under the control of the country’s medieval mental health laws.
In ‘Institutionalised’, I bares all. Most shocking is that the cyber-attacks were not initiated by teenage trolls or a disgruntled former lover; but agents working for the UK Government. Prepare to learn about a shocking new form of modern oppression, because I has one searing story to tell.
My shocking and frightening new memoir describes her online victimisation at the hands of UK Government operatives, leading to her being institutionalised under the British government’s punitive psychiatric strategy. Fusing a memoir activism, I pulls no punches when exposing the illegal relationship between intelligence services and the NHS, while calling on readers to spread the world and end this new digital form of Governmental oppression.
This book is a personal account of one woman’s experience with the British government, its police and intelligence services, and mental health services after experiencing cyber attacks on YouTube by government agents. The book exposes government operatives online and within the National Health Services (NHS), and how mental illness is used as a punitive psychiatric tool to cover-up abuses by government.
It also provides some insight into the way government agents are allowed to pursue religious interest among other interest online and burry alternative views, and the role mental health services plays in these unfortunate activities. This book is not meant to be spy novel, the characters, scenes and account are real and frightening.
“It is vital that the NHS separates and distances itself from Police and Intelligence Services. Right now, they are virtually in bed with each other”. “Health professionals cannot make correct diagnoses while Government agents are part of the process and abusing their powers for the sake of control.”
“As a result, I became involved in the judiciary in ways I could never have imagined, and that entire process was also moulded around the Government’s mandate to control. If any case appears to be exposing Government abuse or their illegal activities, the Court will throw it out. It’s unbelievable, but true.”
People with a story to tell may also came under fire simply for putting pen to paper but these stories of truth must be told.
“They threatened to institutionalise me again just for wanting to tell my story. I now live my life treading on egg shells; a far cry from the beacon of confidence and independence that I was before. My advice to everyone is to watch your movements, be careful what you seek out online and – above all – trust nobody.”
About the Author:
Kevine Walcott is a property professional with a masters degree from University College London. She had found herself at the centre of an online hate campaign after accessing videos on ancient Egyptian religion on YouTube. She had discovered that some of her harassers were government agents. She had fought with her harassers who took their campaign offline and onto the streets and into her home. She had documented her experience in this thrilling memoir where the accounts are frightening. She told how her experience left her institutionalised by those using mental health as a disguising veneer to cover up abuses by law enforcement and the intelligence services and the role religion and history places in these unfortunate events.