Welcome to the Asylum…

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It’s here – launched today on Amazon worldwide in ebook format and paperback –  The Venetian. It’s the first in my new This Haunted World paranormal series – a set of books not connected by characters but by places in our big wide world that are considered haunted. Each book will be a standalone and seeks to mix fiction with fact – or at the very least the myth and legend that haunted places tend to be shrouded in. Like all my books, I try to find the ‘human’ story behind the ghosts, what they’ve suffered, why they’re still grounded, and why some of them seem hell bent on revenge and destruction. They’re not ‘horrors’ but sometimes, and inevitably, the boundaries blur.

Set between ‘the world’s most haunted city’ and Poveglia, ‘the world’s most haunted island’, dare you encounter another side to Venice – the dark side – crossing still waters to an island where madness once reigned?

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Here’s the blurb:

‘Welcome to the asylum…’

2015

Their troubled past behind them, married couple, Rob and Louise, visit Venice for the first time together, looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Not just a romantic destination, it’s also the ‘most haunted city in the world’ and soon, Louise finds herself the focus of an entity she can’t quite get to grips with – a ‘veiled lady’ who stalks her.

1938

After marrying young Venetian doctor, Enrico Sanuto, Charlotte moves from England to Venice, full of hope for the future. Home though is not in the city; it’s on Poveglia, in the Venetian lagoon, where she is set to work in an asylum, tending to those that society shuns. As the true horror of her surroundings reveals itself, hope turns to dust.

From the labyrinthine alleys of Venice to the twisting, turning corridors of Poveglia, their fates intertwine. Vengeance only waits for so long…

To celebrate there’s an online Facebook launch party between 10am – 6pm today, with plenty of giveaways from me and other authors, so head on over and join in the fun. Meanwhile, if you fancy a read, here’s the links. I hope you enjoy it!

UK http://tinyurl.com/goardwp

US http://tinyurl.com/zl6jx7c

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An Interview with Mark Tilbury

It is my absolute pleasure to be hosting Mark Tilbury on my blog – I sent him a few questions and he’s very kindly answered them. Mark is the author of The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused, I read the first almost in one sitting it’s that gripping (it normally takes me ages to read a book!) The second is still a delight to come but I know I’m going to enjoy it because Mark’s writing style is fluent and edge of the seat, with shades of my favourite author of all-time, Stephen King. Grab a coffee and have a read about what inspires him and the writing process. Take it away, Mark…

The-Revelation-Room-Complete-200x300.jpgTell us about the book(s) you’ve written. What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book? How did it develop?

The idea behind the Ben Whittle investigation books was to try to create a character that was not your typical sort of private investigator. He was thrown into the role by the kidnap of his father by a religious cult. Ben just worked in the office at Whittle Investigations. A shy, insecure boy with a traumatic past. I didn’t want the usual super sleuth who cuts his way through a minefield of clues to slay the dragon at the end. I wanted to create something much more subtle than that. To show that the ordinary guy, who is full of self-doubt and lacking in confidence, can also overcome the odds and stand up to evil.

How would you describe your writing process? Do you outline or are you (like me) a ‘write the first line and let’s see where it goes’ type of person?

I used to write and see where it took me. I quite liked the excitement of discovery, finding hidden trails and seeing what obstacles lie in wait for my main character. Unfortunately, that lead to too many blind alleys, and it seemed to take longer to unravel the mistakes than it did to sit down and write a proper plan. So for my third novel, which should be out later this year, I planned it meticulously. I know I’m probably tempting fate, but it seemed to go without a hitch. First draft written in ten weeks. It’s also a departure from the first two books. More of a supernatural thriller. Very dark and emotional. Somewhere I really want to explore in future books.

How has writing books changed you?

I’ve become a lot more focused on the job in hand. I plan more than I used to, although the germ of a novel still tends to spring from one of the main characters (usually the bad guy) speaking to me in my head. I’m also a lot more aware of what works and what doesn’t. It’s like a huge learning curve. Also, feedback helps enormously, and I’ve learnt so much from people’s comments, both good and bad. Overall, I’m much more aware of the need to respect the art of writing and give my very best when I write if I want to share it with other people.

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What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question, a theme, the last line of the book?

The characters. Making sure that they act, speak and behave consistently, and that the main character follows the character arc I have set for him/her.

Is there an aspect of writing that you favour over others, e.g. dialogue, setting, or character? Is there one that is more difficult for you?

Dialogue. I really love writing dialogue and putting words into my characters mouths. Or do they put thoughts into my head? I’m never quite sure which way around that is! I can only really get going with a plot when the characters speak to me. Once I get the flow and the rhythm of their voices, I’m pretty happy. The rest of it I find quite hard work. Like anyone, there are many areas I still need to improve on, but the dialogue comes more naturally to me than the rest.

Tell us about the funniest/craziest/most interesting thing that has happened to you as a writer.

It’s something that happens right out of the blue. One of the characters will speak to me in my head before I’ve even got a story to put them in. For example, in the Revelation Room, long before it was the Revelation Room, Edward Ebb, the bad guy, spoke quite clearly. He said, “you’re going down the rabbit hole where all the burnt bunnies go.” I quite literally had to work the rest of the story out from there. Another guy spoke to me recently. He said, “What doesn’t kill you will make you wish it had.” I have no idea what story he’s from, because I haven’t even thought of it yet. I know his name’s Peter King and he’s a narcissist. It’s now up to me to fill in the blanks.

What would you tell aspiring writers today?

To always believe in yourself and to never stop learning. Listen to advice, constructive criticism and anything else of value that comes your way.

Mark’s books are available on Amazon and, if you want to find out more, here’s his stalk links:

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/294Gdd0
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor
Twitter profile: http://www.twitter.com/MTilburyAuthor
Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/marktilbury

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Ailsa flies in!

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(Hammering from inside a cupboard)

Ahem! I’m in here. Can you let me out please? Hello? Hello?

Ah, hello Shani. I thought for a change I’d teleport instead of using the magic carpet and I must have said “Tighten” instead of “Brighton” because I’m a bit cramped in here. Gissa hand up would you?

Thanks.

Oh that’s better. Bless you for inviting me over again for a chat. Anything hot will do, you know me, tea coffee etc.

So. You wanted to know how my work is going now that break in the Italian forests got me writing again, didn’t you? Weeeeeeeeeeell….my mother always used to say that if there were an easy way and a hard way to do something it was a sure-fire bet which way I’d do it. I seem to do everything back to front, like writing my series by starting with Book 2 and having to write Book 1 as a prequel.

Getting back into writing again properly I decided I needed my workspace back so I set to shifting the two tons of yarn in my stash. Mistake.

Having had scoliosis of the spine following an accident aged fifteen, that has developed into spinal arthritis so humping great boxes of stuff around is not good for me. However, my study is just about finished so I can shut myself away and at least have a “my place” to write.

As far as ideas go, I have loads. Last count I had four Works In Progress and, being me, I can’t settle on one and do them in any coherent order.

When I was little I always wanted to learn to ride a unicycle but at the moment I feel as if I’m riding one backwards, blindfold; while juggling kitchen knives.

This is all pretty normal for me what with being Bipolar and having been dropped on my head too often. The stroke didn’t help but then they very seldom do, no?

All that being said I’m actually doing OK.

In the Alchemy series there are at least two more books, one mainly about Riga and Iamo, the other following Dagda’s solo adventures once Riga has left the Black Shamen’s Guild. On top of that I’m being asked to release my tales of Otter and her pals which appear on my blog and Nanny Ab my alter-ego and biographer wants to ghost write the story of my life in France over the past twenty five years, working title “Knitting With Eels”.

Busy? Well rather. Given that I only ever get 1Z hours out of 24 due to my ME and having to sleep a bit during the day, just a touch. I take advantage of that time by putting my TENS machine on and electrocuting my spine at the same time so at least I’m doing two things at once.

I’d love more coffee please. I swear I don’t have a blood stream these days, it’s pure caffeine.

Inspiration? Never a problem. Ideas keep pouring in, characters move into my house, as you discovered when you came to stay during my absence and they begin pestering me to write their stories too. My idea of writer’s block is far more physical with my damaged body not being able to get the words on the screen and yes I tried a voice recognition app but I’m as British as Princess Anne so the American machinery mangled my words into worse rubbish than I could type.

Shani, darling, it’s been lovely and thanks for the hot drinks. I needed that. Now if you could just guide me out into the garden so I can see which direction I’m going, I’ll disappear in a cloud of cobwebs. Yes, I think I’ll stick with the magic carpet in future, less hassle. You remember I can always send it over for you to come visit again.

Aisle, I’d love to come and visit very soon. Meanwhile, here are the buy links for Ailsa’s superb books – all available on Amazon worldwide.

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Link for YOUR Amazon 

Find Ailsa on Twitter  and Facebook  too!

 

Peter James, Brighton and the Paranormal!

It is with great pleasure that I have fellow Brighton author, Peter James, on my blog today, talking about his books (of course!) but more than that, the paranormal aspect to them. And yes, that does include reference to his incredibly popular Roy Grace books! Peter is the author of some of my favourite paranormal books, and also Alchemist, which is in my top ten. Here’s the questions I asked and how Peter replied…

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The very first Peter James book I read was Alchemist. A very powerful book, it changed the way I viewed not only the pharmaceutical industry but the way in which all big industries are run. It did what all good books should – it got me thinking. The second I read was Sweet Heart, a chiller of a tale that delves into aspects of the paranormal. What inspired you to write both books?

Thank you! For Alchemist – I’ve always been interested in conspiracy theories – the idea that there is a group of people who secretly control the world! I met the head of one of our biggest pharmaceutical companies who told me that his company were busy patenting human genes and that the ultimate power in the world will lie in the hands of pharmaceutical companies. For Sweet Heart – I became interested in of past life regression and underwent it myself as an experiment and it gave me the idea for this book.

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I read in a newspaper article that The House on Cold Hill, your most recent paranormal book, released in October 2015, was inspired by true life events – can you tell us more about this?

The House On Cold Hill is very much inspired by – and modelled on – an isolated historic house in Sussex that my former wife and I bought in 1989, and lived in for a decade – which turned out to be very seriously haunted. Whilst I have never actually seen a ghost, there were things that happened at that house I really couldn’t explain. I saw on many occasions, tiny pinpricks of white light floating in the air. A medium who I used a lot during my writing of Possession, visited my house and she told me I was slightly psychic, and that is why I saw these pinpricks, and that while I was not actually seeing the entire apparition, I was picking up on some of its energy.

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We both base our books in and around Brighton (our mutual hometown). How important is location to you and why?

For me there was only ever one location for Roy Grace to be based….my hometown of Brighton. To the outsider, Brighton is a hip, beautiful seaside city, but it has a long history of darkness – right back to its roots as a smugglers village! In Regency days it gained a reputation both as a fashionable bathing resort, but in 1841 when the London-Brighton railway line opened, criminals flooded down from London, finding rich pickings and a much nicer environment than their city! They brought cock-fighting, prostitution, pick-pockets, muggers, smugglers, burglars, and gangs. Simultaneously, with the railway enabling quick access from London, many wealthy Londoners brought their mistresses down here and it became known as a place for “dirty weekends”.

Three consecutive past Chief Constables of Sussex Police have all told me that Brighton is the favoured place in the UK for first division criminals to live in. The reasons are: Firstly it has a lot of escape routes, very important to all criminals: It has the Channel ports, Eurotunnel, and Gatwick Airport just 25 minutes away. London is only 50 minutes by train. It has a major seaport on either side – Shoreham and Newhaven, perfect for importing drugs and exporting stolen cars, antiques and cash. It has the largest number of antique shops in the UK – perfect for laundering stolen goods and cash. For many recent years it held the title the Tourist Board do not like me mentioning: “Injecting Drug Death Capital of England”! It has a wealthy young population combined with the largest gay community in the UK, providing a big market for recreational drugs. It has two universities, so a big drug-taking student community. A huge number of nightclubs and a large transient population. Very importantly it has not been over-written by other writers.

One of the characters in my books, Ness Patterson, a psychic, has worked with Brighton Police in the past to solve some rather heinous crimes. How open is Roy Grace, the main protagonist of your crime novels, to using the paranormal in this way? I ask because in the very early books I remember it was suggested.

A key aspect to Roy Grace’s character is his open-minded attitude to the paranormal. This is not just in his searching for his missing wife, Sandy, but his willingness to turn to the occult when desperate on a case. I have come to realize that being open-minded to absolutely everything is a key asset for an effective homicide detective. The use of mediums by police in the USA is far more openly commonplace than it is here – but I have met many UK police officers, at all levels from Chief Constables down, who are more than prepared to talk to any sensible medium who claims to have information. As one said to me: “If I am in a desperate situation and all else has failed, I would be derelict in my duties if I failed to listen to a medium who claimed to have information.”

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I’m sure we’re all intrigued – what’s a typical writing day like for Peter James? Do you tend to do all your research before you sit down to write a book or research as you go?

My whole writing day is back to front… It is from the time when I was writing novels whilst working full time in film and television as a screen writer and producer, so I had to make my “Me time” to write. My writing day starts at 6pm in the evening, when I mix a large vodka martini, with four olives, put on some music, light up a cigar and get into a zone. I try to ensure that whatever I’m doing I leave myself time to write 1000 words 6 days a week. In terms of research – a lot I do before, but then as I progress I realise there is more I need to learn, and I’m an absolute stickler for research.

Who are your favourite authors in the paranormal genre?

Stephen King, M R James, Edgar Allan Poe.

The writing industry is a tough business and, in many ways, it is getting tougher. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

The best possible advice I can give to any aspiring writer is to read, read, read, and analyse, and write, write, write.  Writing is a craft, and any craft is improved with practice.  But most importantly is to read the most successful of the kind of works you would yourself like to write:  So if you want to be, for instance, a crime thriller writer, read the blockbusters of the past fifty years.  Analyse them, literally deconstruct them and try to figure out what made them so popular.  This is what I did when I started out.  I took the books I most admired, the ones I most wished I had written, and literally read them until I knew them inside out.

And (keeping fingers crossed!) do you plan to release any more books in the paranormal genre?

I had a great time writing The House On Cold Hill, and certainly plan to write more in this field. Possibly even a sequel!

Find Peter James on Social Media

My brand new YouTube channel: www.peterjames.com/YouTube

My website www.peterjames.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peterjames.roygrace

Twitter: http://twitter.com/peterjamesuk

Instagram: https://instagram.com/peterjamesuk

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44 Gilmore Street… Dare You Enter?!

Gilmore multi.jpgToday’s the day! After writing it, having it beta read, re-writing it, sending it to the editor, tweaking it, then tweaking it again… and again… and again… it was time to call it a day and admit it’s as ready as it’ll ever be! Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is now available to buy from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble (links below)! Time to sit back and take a breather? If only! I’m having an online Facebook launch party to celebrate and would love it if you could join in. There’ll be plenty of prizes on offer, including a signed paperback copy of 44 Gilmore Street and five fantastic authors of the paranormal popping in at various stages to offer e-book prizes of their books.

The line up is (GMT times):

3.30pm – Sarah England (Father of Lies)
4.30pm – Rumer Haven (What the Clocks Know)
5.00pm – Rebecca Patrick-Howard (the Taryn’s Camera series)
5.30pm – John Bowen (Where the Dead Walk)
6.30 pm – Adrian Martin (The Helland Reckoning)

Here’s the link – click on it, press ‘going’ and you’re in!

Launch day is always a nerve-wracking time for authors, you wonder if people are going to enjoy your latest offering or not. This is my eighth book and I’m getting pretty good at telling myself that as long as it’s as good as you can make it at the time of producing it, then you’re on the right track. And to help me do that my thanks go to my team of beta readers (you know who you are, I tell you often enough!) and my editor, Jeff Gardiner, who is just such a pleasure to work with. And thank you Laurence Patterson at Crooked Cat also for being so patient with me when I’m STILL making edits at galley stage!

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44 Gilmore Street is the third of six books in the Psychic Surveys series (there will be spin-off novellas from the series too such as Eve) and from relatively light beginnings it’s getting darker! If you do read it, thank you, I hope you enjoy it. Now, what was I saying about taking a breather? Better get cracking on the next instalment…

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

UK http://tinyurl.com/jobnwoo US http://tinyurl.com/j6jvev5

Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me

UK http://tinyurl.com/n9q352z US http://tinyurl.com/nzjz62x

Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall

UK http://tinyurl.com/lak4ub2 US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78

Psychic Surveys Prequel: Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story

UK http://tinyurl.com/nmnajss US http://tinyurl.com/pe5f6db

 

 

Coming back to haunt us …

As Tim said, I’m haunting you again on his blog with an interview about Gilmore Street.

Tim's Blog

Today I welcome back  fellow Crooked Cat author Shani Struthers, on the eve of her next book launch. 

Hello again, Shani!  Your latest book, Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is coming out tomorrow. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

All the Psychic Surveys books deal with a particular theme and in Book Three it’s reincarnation. Ruby meets Elisha Grey, who is tuning into a past life that’s frightening her. Ruby isn’t keen to get involved because she is so busy and doesn’t see the need to diversify – reincarnation is not her specialist field. Also, there’s the on-going case of 44 Gilmore Street to deal with – the spirit causing trouble there is very territorial and growing increasingly violent, able to interact physically on occasions. The case is drawing public attention – negative public attention – adding to the strain. Elisha, however, is adamant that…

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Sleep With the Lights On!

It is with great pleasure that I have Sarah England on my blog today talking about her latest release, Tanners Dell, the sequel to Father of Lies. She is one of my favourite authors and a very nice lady too, despite her ability to write genuinely terrifying books. I’m a quarter of the way through Tanners Dell and yep, just as I did during the first one, I’ve already had a nightmare! But even so, her writing is both compelling and intelligent, Sarah England knows her stuff and there’s nothing gratuitous about it – that’s what’s scary – it could all be true… Rather than me blather on, grab a coffee and let Sarah tell you about the books and what inspires her, and, if you’re brave enough, go and buy the books from Amazon too – they’re available in e-book format and paperback.

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Sarah, I’ve read Father of Lies and found it supremely scary, so much so I had to save it for daylight hours only! Give us a bit of background to the novel and what prompted you to write it.

 Oh I’m so happy it scared you, Shani – in the nicest possible way, of course. ‘Father of Lies’ centres around an extremely disturbed and violent young woman – Ruby – who suffers from what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder (now Dissociative Identity Disorder). Because she hadn’t responded to any treatment after two years, and was actually getting worse, the psychiatrist decided to hypnotise her; and after that… well let’s just say he wished he hadn’t!

 The idea originally came after meeting a lady with this condition. I had a medical background and had also been a writer for many years, but once I heard her shocking story, I was inspired to write ‘Father of Lies’. In 90% of DID cases there has been some form of trauma or abuse in formative years, and the victim’s identity can become fragmented as a coping mechanism. It’s horrific in its own right. However, I also wanted to explore the fine line between madness and possession: what is real and what is not. I liked the idea of taking a scientific, somewhat atheistic point of view, coupled with that of a mediumistic clairvoyant. After that, well I guess I just got drawn to the dark side…

 And now there’s a sequel (yikes!) – what’s it called and is it darker than the first? How long have we got to brace ourselves before we can read it?

 Yes the sequel is launched on 29th May, although the kindle may well be available a few days earlier. It’s called ‘Tanners Dell’ and will also stand alone, but it’s probably best followed on from ‘Father of Lies’ so the reader has the full story. In my opinion ‘Tanners Dell’ is much scarier, because it delves into just what really went on in the creepy, desolate mining village Ruby hails from. I had some serious night terrors whilst writing it, and although I had to do some terrifying research first time round, this was in some ways worse because…oh no… you see you almost got me giving it all away…J

 How much research goes into your writing (and, considering the type of research you must do, how do you handle it?)

 A lot! I originally trained as a nurse and then worked as a medical rep specializing in psychiatry, so I had first hand experience of both working and visiting psychiatric units. In fact one of my first nursing assignments was at an old Victorian style asylum on the outskirts of Sheffield (now knocked down). In addition to that I spent a lot of time talking to the DID sufferer and understanding what she went through, plus her clairvoyance. And I read some factual books that would make your hair stand on end – I could only read one chapter at a time and only in daylight. After I’d read them I didn’t want them on my bookshelf so I gave them to a friend and she burned them! We’re talking demonology and exorcisms….

Do you ever scare yourself witless with your own writing?

 Yes. I get into the head of each and every character and live it. I search for the most horrifying true events and twist them into the story. I guess different things scare different people – for example monsters and vampires don’t frighten me at all – but possession and madness scare me half to death. One example – I used to mess about with tarot cards but one time I drew the same three cards every single time. I shuffled and cut, shuffled and cut for at least 2-3 minutes each time…yup, same three cards. And when I had a light, cool breeze on my face and the feeling of a hand brushing over my hair… something else happened to me too that I can’t ever forget but it’s quite shocking…anyway it was time to quit!

 What does the future hold writing wise – more horror?

 Well next is to package up some of the hundreds of short stories and serials I’ve written over the years (I was a magazine fiction writer for 10 years before starting horror novels). And then it will either be more occult horror or it may be a psychological horror/thriller, which I will start in September. I’m definitely staying on the dark side, anyway!

 Who are your favourite authors and why?

 I still love the classics – Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen…who are just breathtakingly brilliant authors, and when you think they wrote by hand! I also greatly admire Ian McEwen – his prose is stunning. My favourite storytellers range from Susan Hill (The Woman in Black) to Sarah Waters to Alison Weir. I enjoy historical fiction and anything gothic as long as the story races and the prose flows. I like to read the best and be inspired. In addition to this, I love the supernatural genre and a good ghost story is hard to beat, so your series is right up my street…44, Gilmore Street in fact!

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Buy Links:

Father of Lies:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015NCZYKU http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015NCZYKU

Tanners Dell: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FYBQZAS and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FYBQZAS

Social Media Links:  

https://www.facebook.com/sarahenglandauthor
http://www.twitter@sarahengland16
http://www.sarahenglandauthor.blogspot.com
http://www.sarahengland.yolasite.com