Category Archives: Guest Post
Alex Reeve – The House on Half Moon Street – Guest Post
I am delighted to welcome to my blog author Alex Reeve whose debut novel is a Victorian crime thriller called The House on Half Moon Street is released on 3rd May (Raven Books) an exciting new historical series. Leo Stanhope is a transgender coroner’s assistant who must uncover a killer without risking his own future.
A body is found in the River Thames it is London in 1880. Was it suicide, accidental or something more sinister. Introducing Leo Stanhope who is hiding one hell of a secret. He was born Charlotte, and his father was heavily involved in the church. When Leo left home at the age of fifteen he left his family home never to return or to see his mother and father again. He knew that life as Charlotte was not the life and he knew from an early age he wanted to be a man. Leo is in love with Maria but can his love survive this secret? At this moment in time he is hiding this secret from the world and it must not come out. Leo’s fear of being found out pours out of the pages of this historical thriller.
Now he is heavily involved in a mystery involving the body of a man washed up by the Thames. A superbly written thriller that is written with so much warmth for our protagonist Leo. Reeve’s describes Victorian London perfectly that you can almost feel the smog around you and also smells and noise of 1880 London. This is a novel that has been carefully thought out and the characters that Reeve brings to the reader are just so incredibly real. At times I was reading this while travelling on a bus and was totally lost in a bygone age. I feared for Leo as every page was turned wondering if his secret would be exposed and what fate would befall him. At times I was so involved in this intricate thriller that time just passed me by. There is so much in this stunning debut novel by Alex Reeve that touches so many subjects including gender. it is atmospheric and dark yet intricate. I cannot recommend The House on Half Moon Street highly enough and I congratulate Alex Reeve on a fantastic debut novel. I am already looking forward to book two.
Alex has been kind enough to write a little Guest Post for my blog and here he talks about his debut novel The House on Half Moon Street.
The story of the story
The first inklings of an idea for The House on Half Moon Street came during a train journey I took with a transgender co-worker. I felt great compassion and anger about the way she was treated. It wasn’t anything overtly aggressive, but it was persistent: glances, stares, whispers and sighs. And she had to deal with it every single day! All she’d done was make a choice about her identity. What more fundamental human right could there be?
Surely, I thought, things must be getting better?
I love historical crime novels, so I started doing some research. I found lots of examples of transgender men and women, and of course there must be lots more, people who lived and died in happy obscurity. However, I also found they suffered many of the same issues as today: societal disapproval, legal uncertainty and health issues, among other things.
At some point, Leo Stanhope took up residence in my head and wouldn’t leave. I knew everything about him almost immediately. I could hear his voice, both amused and exasperated, and sense his romantic nature. I knew I had to write about him and, after a few false starts, I did.
From the very start I decided this wouldn’t be a novel about being transgender; it would be about a man who happened to be transgender. That distinction steered the story; Leo suffers a tragedy that could happen to anyone, and he sets off to solve the crime. It’s neither caused by, nor solved by, his being transgender. His perspective might be unique, but so is everyone’s.
I’ve been asked before how it feels to write about a transgender experience, but actually I found writing the women much harder. After all, Leo is a man and almost all the time people treat him as a man. His personality is very different from mine though. In fact, one of things that most attracts me to this peculiar profession is the chance to live as someone else for a while, someone who’s quite different from me. If I only ever wrote versions of myself, trust me, the result would be very boring indeed.
And now I get to do it all again! The second in the Leo Stanhope series is nearing completion, and the plot of the third is taking shape. Soon there’ll be even more characters for me to live as, for a little while.
My thanks to Alex for giving his time ahead of publication for writing a Guest Post.
The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve (Raven Books)
Thank you to Amber Mears-Brown (Bloomsbury) for the advanced review copy of The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve.
Published by Raven Books on 3rd May and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
I am delighted to be apart of the celebration of Baltic literature that will be the Market Focus at the 2018 London Book Fair that runs from 10-12th April.
As part of the celebrating the Baltic literature I am delighted to welcome to my blog Estonian author Andrei Ivanov and he talks about his life experiences that inspire his novels.
Estonian author, Andrei Ivanov uses his fascinating life experiences as inspiration for his novels. Raised by a Russian, typically Soviet family, but born in Estonia, Ivanov struggled with his Russian and Estonian identity. At the age of 16, Ivanov developed a passion for punk music and its ideology, leading to feelings of discontentment and detachment from his life in Estonia. Ivanov fled the country, and for three years he lived in a refugee camp in Denmark – his most famed novel, Hanuman’s Journey to Lolland (Vagabond Voices, 2018, translated by Matthew Hyde) is based upon this time.
Hanuman’s Journey to Lolland was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize (2012) and won the Cultural Endowment of Estonia’s Prize for Russian-Language Literature (2010). Ivanov will be speaking at The London Book Fair as part of The London Book Fair 2018’s Market Focus on the Baltic Countries.
It came naturally that hunger, anger and fear became the forces that propelled my writing, and people, of course, they are inexhaustible sources of inspiration. But it was me and my experiences that inspired me the most. I’m full of surprises – I was born in Estonia but received an alien’s passport, due to my parents both being Russian. I was disillusioned at first, in my parents and their belief in communism; then as a teenager I had contradictions with my father (he was a policeman) and I revolted against the system that he represented.
After the fall of the USSR, I was cynical about the Republic of Estonia, because it tried to force me to be someone that I was not, naturalisation, so to speak, which is reflected in my novels Cinder and The Handful of Dust. It’s not easy to be a Russian in Estonia, because Russians constantly fight amongst themselves, they make mental barricades, terms, rules, requirements. It’s always been like this and it is like that everywhere they stay – they are living like secants! Pro-Russia and Anti-Russia, Russophobic and Russophile – all of them want me to take sides, but I never do, I recoil from them all instead.
I live as a foreigner in my own country, and therefore choose to write the majority of my novels in English. During my time in the Danish refugee camps, English was the shared language used by all – it bought people together from whatever country they originated from. Unlike the Estonia that I had grown up in, the refugee camps were a community that allowed different identities to live together. It’s this aspect that I’ve tried to recreate through my work, using those unique individuals that I met as my muses for the characters in my books.
My thanks to Hannah McMillan at Midas Public Relations for setting up this guest post and the Baltic Books Blog Tour.
Baltic Books Blog Tour – Celebrating Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian literature at the 2018 London Book Fair.
The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton
I am absolutely delighted to welcome Karen Hamilton to my Blog to write a Guest Post as part of the Blog Tour for her sensational debut novel The Perfect Girlfriend which is released on 22nd March through Wildfire. A terrifying and compelling read about an obsession and pure hatred go hand in hand at 40,000ft. Welcome to Juliette’s world. A must-read thriller for the Spring.
GUEST POST BY KAREN HAMILTON
The Perfect Girlfriend will be published nine years after I decided to take writing seriously. It was always ‘the dream’ but I only ever dabbled over the years, as I loved my job as cabin crew and enjoyed travelling. When my middle son was a year old, I decided to set myself a word count of one thousand words a day, which I stuck to (as much as possible) and began to enter competitions, attend literary festivals and author events. A big boost was when I came second in a first chapter competition for a magazine and this spurred me on.
I wrote a (really bad) book, but at least it taught me what I didn’t want to write. I wrote a second novel however; it wasn’t good enough to attract the attention of agents. I joined a local creative writing group and it was here that I first found the courage to read my work out loud.
In 2014, having left my flying career I went on the Faber Writing a Novel course. On the first evening, our course tutor suggested that we experiment, so I decided to write about a character who had been hanging around in my subconscious for a while, someone who came to me when I was changing out of uniform one day before travelling on public transport. I had already started writing the book in the third person, but switched to the first person and this seemed to bring Juliette’s character alive. I received such support and encouragement from our tutor and everyone else on the course, that it gave me the confidence to carry on, develop Juliette’s character and finish the first draft.
At the end of the course, students are given the opportunity to read their work out loud to a roomful of agents and editors (extremely nerve-wracking) but as a result, I am now represented by a wonderful and insightful agent. The Perfect Girlfriend is the result of many drafts, and a lot of edits, but I’m so thrilled. There have been a lot of the inevitable ups and downs along the way, but seeing the cover and, this week, holding my book for the first time have been a total dream come true. I feel very grateful for all the support I’ve received from so many passionate, dedicated people.
I’m currently writing my second novel and this time it feels very different. It’s another psychological thriller with a damaged woman at its heart, but this one is not set in the airline world, so I’m involved in a lot more research. I’m looking forward to finishing the first draft as one of my favourite parts of writing is editing; it’s the time when I become totally immersed in the book and try to shut out ‘real life’ as much as possible.
Thank you Becky Hunter at Headline for the advanced review copy of The Perfect Girlriend
The Prefect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton is published by Wildfire Books and is published on 22nd March 2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
How to follow The Perfect Girlfriend Blog Tour