Archive for the ‘Adult’ Category

Cold Lonely Courage

Soren Paul Petrek

A new adventure for Madeleine Toche, alone against the German Army!
Madeleine Toche races to the front only to find her brother mortally wounded during the German Blitzkrieg attack on France at the outset of World War II. His death and her rape at the hands of an SS Stormtrooper cast Madeleine down a path of death and violence when she joins the British Special Operation Executive. Killing the Gestapo is one thing, but when she’s sent after Field Marshall Erwin Rommel the entire German Army stands in her way.
Discover a new thriller with Madeleine Toche, in war against the Germans to protect herself and her brother!


How I Research My Novels

by Soren Paul Petrek

Each novel is different, and the research requirements vary. For Cold Lonely Courage I started with the basics. I knew that my character would be in the French Resistance and ultimately the Special Operations Executive. I knew about the French Resistance from history classes and our friend Madeleine Behren who had been in the Belgian Resistance helping Jewish children escape the Nazis.

I learned about the SOE from reading a novel by Ken Follet. I was intrigued and began to look for books that told the true stories of the women in the Resistance and the SOE. I prefer first-hand accounts written by women who were in the Resistance and the SOE.

There is a wealth of information online both in the form of articles but also databases of interviews with people across the wide spectrum of society, soldiers, sailors, spies, politicians, leaders and the common folk in the street living under the bombs or caught between two armies.

I began to form a picture of the women who were given little credit for their indispensable work fighting the Nazis. Most novels about WWII focus on famous battles and male protagonists. When women are included it is usually in a subordinate role. I wanted to develop a character that borrowed qualities from all of the real-life women I studied. The dangers these common folk faced are incredible especially when people are called upon to act with little or no military training.

I continue to research as I write trying not to retell history but to use key events to frame the storyline. I love to do research as I discover a new plot twist or a historical figure that I can bring into the story.

I expect that some pure historians won’t like the liberties that I take with historical figures and events. I do not write non-fiction. My stories come from my imagination intertwined with the characters and fantastic events that happened during a pivotal time in our history.

Other books call from a mix of historical research and research done regarding places, people and things. When I wrote Angels Don’t Die, I knew little about Israel, important historical and political figures, it’s history and people.

My sister has friends who’ve lived in Israel. I asked them for various tips and descriptions of life there particularly during the time of the Yom Kippur War. I was fortunate that one of them had been there during that dangerous time.

I researched deserts, the Red Sea and many other subjects.

Research is a fountain of ideas for me.

Publisher: Encre Rouge
Publication Date: January 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 364
Genre: Thriller
Age: Adults
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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I Love You Billy Langley

Monika Jephcott Thomas
I Love You Billy Langley
Twenty-year-old Netta can’t wait to leave Germany and teach in Brighton, England. It’s the height of the swinging 60s, but Netta hasn’t bargained for the prejudice she’ll receive in a country full of anti-German sentiment just twenty years after the war. She finds solace in Billy, the school caretaker, with whom she falls in love. But when she takes him back to Germany at Christmas it’s Billy’s turn to be on the receiving end of a frosty welcome.


I Love You Billy Langley Extract

Netta Portner looked around her bedroom as if it were the last time she would ever see it. It wasn’t.
Not just yet. But she felt the need to capture everything in her memory now, before the chaos of leaving ensued and clouded everything. As she scanned the room she caught sight of herself in the mirror on the dressing table. She turned to face her reflection, smoothed down her dress, adjusted her glasses, and raised her chin in the confident manner she prayed she could adopt when she stood in front of a class of comprehensive school students next week in the south of England.
‘Here!’ Her mother came hurrying into the room, dumping three suitcases of various sizes onto the bed.
To Netta the hurrying and dumping seemed completely unnecessary and typically dramatic. For a split second Netta wondered if it was designed to mask a sadness at her imminent departure from the nest, but that notion was soon buried under her general irritation with her mother, which Netta had cultivated throughout her teenage years.
‘These served me well when I moved here from Kunzendorf,’ said her mother.
‘During the war? When you were pregnant with me?’ Netta asked, delighting in her albeit embryonic presence in the story her mother had regaled her with on many occasions – the story of an arduous journey all the way across a devastated Germany on its knees in the final months of the Second World War. Since then Netta had never been much farther from home than the north coast for family holidays.
‘Hm-mm!’ her mother sang her response as nonchalantly as she could. ‘So a little jaunt to England should present no issue for them.’
‘It’s hardly a little jaunt, Mama.’
‘Well it’s hardly a race across a vast nation being bombed mercilessly by the Allies either, is it?’ her mother said.
Netta seethed as she flipped open the lid of each case.
Her mother, hands on hips, looked around the room as if she had never seen it before. ‘At last I can give this room a damn good clean.’
Netta looked daggers at her mother’s back as she ran her finger along the chest of drawers and grimaced at the dust she found there.
‘Oh please, mother! When was the last time you cleaned anything?’
‘Well, I’ll get Emilia to do it. Chuck out all this rubbish too.’
‘Hey! There’s no rubbish in here. And don’t you go telling Emilia to throw anything away. This is my stuff. My room.’
‘You’re moving to England. So how can this be your room anymore?’
‘I might be back… for the holidays.’
‘Oh, Anetta, either you’re going or you’re staying, do make up your mind!’
‘So you don’t want me to come for Christmas?’
‘What I want has nothing to do with it, clearly. You’ll do whatever you want, as usual.’
‘Whatever I want! That’s a laugh.’ Netta muttered the next words only half-wanting them to be heard. ‘I can’t wait to be free.’
‘What was that? Free, you say? You want to be free? And what’s that supposed to mean exactly?’
There was a lifetime of gripes Netta could have listed to answer her mother, but instead she pouted, ‘Nothing.’ Then like the child her mother could always draw out of her just as her mother drew pus from her patients’ cysts, Netta whined, ‘Mama?’
‘Yes?’ her mother said in a tone which suggested she’d forgotten there was another woman in the room and only heard her baby in need.
Netta stared into the open cases as if they were bottomless. ‘What does one pack for a whole new country?’
Her mother tutted. ‘Well, that my dear, is for you to work out. I’m far too busy with the surgery to worry about things like that.’
Netta looked up from the cases when she heard her mother’s voice tremble, but she couldn’t see her face as she was already stomping out of the room.

I love you billy langley tour banner

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 228
Genre: Historical
Age: Adults
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Outremer lll: In The Beginning

D. N. Carter
outremer 3: in the beginning
For Alisha and Paul, their lives settle into a new routine of normality… but the world around them is changing rapidly and that calm routine is violently interrupted. Whilst Paul strives to learn as much as he can about the mysteries in Egypt, new people enter their lives that have direct, immediate and profound affects upon them and the direction they will follow. As confusion grows about their own beliefs so does whom they can trust. As mysteries from the past stretch out calling them, they have to make decisions that not only affect their lives, but the lives of countless thousands both then and now. The decisions they made helped shape the course of history.
Confronted by impossible choices and in making those decisions, they experience at first hand the painful realities and repercussions that threaten to destroy them completely as personal tragedies rip through their lives as a direct consequence. As friends become foes, and foes become friends, nothing will ever be the same again as explosive revelations about mankind’s true past and the Church are divulged that once learned can never be unlearned or forgotten… for truth once whispered, is still truth which only grows louder no matter how hard evil forces try to control and suppress it with fear, hate and war; forces Paul will have to confront head on in order to protect and safeguard a greater secret and legacy destined for all of us in or time.


Top Five Books I Absolutely Love

by D. N. Carter

All of my Top Five Books are International best sellers in their own rights nowadays, but the first two were not so when I first read them back in the late 1970’s.

1: ‘The Great Pyramid Decoded’ by Peter Lemesurier.
This is undoubtedly my number one book of the Top Five Books I absolutely love. This book set me upon a path of research and discovery that changed the very direction and course of my life. Peter was a Cambridge-trained modern linguist, teacher and professional translator. I first read this book, whilst living in Cyprus. Having visited the Great Pyramid, I had a deep sense that it was not just simply a single tomb for a Pharaoh, so when I saw this book squeezed between two volumes in the New Age section of the library I thought it had been placed there incorrectly; I simply had to take a closer look. Having a great love of castles, ancient ruins and tombs, I liked the drawings I saw inside…I was not so keen on all the mathematics and geometry I saw but decided I would read it, for I felt it possibly held some truths. And indeed it did as this turned out to be the one most significant book I have ever read. It covered everything and hinted at so much more. To my surprise I also discovered that I actually understood it all…my school friends thinking I had lost the plot when I tried to engage them in discussions about it. Peter was a world authority on Nostradamus, which led me to research him also, which in turn sent me in many directions of research. Many years later I became friends with Peter and his guidance and advice proved incalculable. Book II of Outremer is dedicated to him. He sadly passed away in 2016.

2: ‘The Sirius Mystery’ by Robert Temple.
I read this after reading the Great Pyramid Decoded. It had just been published and I liked the look of the cover artwork. It was academically presented and looked incredibly daunting upon my initial perusal having secured it from the library. I had only just turned thirteen years of age and my brother joked that it was far too difficult to read let alone understand. My initial reaction was that he was probably correct. I faltered and put it aside and read Chariots of the Gods instead which had lots of photographs and drawings. That was easy to read and captured my imagination. Upon completion I was drawn back to The Sirius Mystery, but I have to say with a greater sense of determination to read it…not only that, but understand it. This book made me ask many questions about our origins and also to look again at our myths, which I loved, especially ancient Greek ones, in a totally different light. I did not accept everything as absolutely correct in the book, but it made look deeper and further into various subjects I had never contemplated before. They included astronomy, science, physics and chemistry. It was a life changing read in many ways and acted like a bridge between The Great Pyramid Decoded and Chariots of the Gods. It was the start of a very personal journey that ultimately led to many more specialist areas of research ranging from esoteric mysteries, medieval history to quantum physics…which in turn directly influenced the content of Outremer series of books.

3: ‘Chariots of the Gods’ by Eric von Daniken.
I loved this book because it was so easy to read; not at all complicated or full of long words I had no idea what they meant like the two previous books mentioned above. The basic premise of the book was Eric’s absolute belief that aliens came to Earth many thousands of years ago and left evidence proving so. This fascinated me, and was the reason why I often ended up sitting outside in my garden late at night with my father’s binoculars, telescopes and cameras studying the stars above. Cyprus had perfectly clear skies for this. I secretly hoped I’d see a UFO…but didn’t. As said, I loved this book but something did not ring as totally true…that aliens were responsible. I had a deep sense that a lot of what was covered was in fact down to our very own, but highly advanced, ancestors who had reached a higher level of civilisation than we give them credit for. The evidence is certainly there in physical form, but also encoded within myths and religion. In Outremer I reveal but a part of that information which can all be checked and verified.

4: ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
I read this book from start to finish on a military exercise whilst stuck in an old farmhouse in Germany. A lot of the information presented within it has come under severe scrutiny and generated a lot of controversy since the books release but has also inspired other international best sellers, such as Dan Browns ‘The Da Vinci Code’. The basic outline of Dan Browns book is about the survival of a blood line directly from Jesus himself. His children no less and their subsequent lineage up the present day, but the research behind the story was mainly taken from The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. This book fuelled my deep interest in all matters relating to the Crusades, Holy Grail legends and Knights Templar.

5: ‘Peanuts’ by Charles M Schultz.
What can I say about the iconic Peanuts books with Charlie Brown and Snoopy? I collected nearly all of the books in the series. Still have them at my parent’s home. They gave a genuine and profound insight into real life. Invaluable advice in a humorous format.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 746
Genre: Historical
Age: Adults
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Armour Piercing

Peter Aengenheister

A defecting Russian space scientist, awaiting debrief, is in a Warwickshire safe house that comes under attack by an assassination squad. He escapes with plans for a conspiracy involving key members of secret services across the Western world. The only person he knows in the UK, or could possibly trust, is Pete Armour, the man who was to be his de-briefer. Killed before he can reach safety, he has hidden the secret papers where only Armour could ever find them. Armour becomes the target when he and a female newspaper reporter find themselves thrust together and on the run from at least two secret service agencies and British Intelligence, who seem more hell bent on killing him than helping him. And there is a price to pay. There’s always a price to pay. This is the first of the Armour trilogy. A gripping read. Fast-paced, a thriller packed with action, twists and turns.


Peter Aengenheister’s Favourite Spy Thriller Books

I tend to go by authors rather than individual books… Frederick Forsyth, John le Carre, Tom Clancy and Ken Follett…. All the usual suspects, but I also really like the Shardlake Series by C.J. Samson, and I have to say I am slightly influenced by Wilbur Smith too.

It’s all in the detail!

So, it is fair to say that I like a story that builds and is as authentic as possible in its facts and plausible in its drama. It’s great to have a lead role character who is facing the odds and manages to come through it in the end by hard work or guile. The bigger their nemesis, or the odds stacked against them, the better.

I think all the authors I have mentioned above follow a similar formula, and in doing so they have created their following.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 264
Genre: Spy Thriller
Age: Adults
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Cries of a Dying Waterhole

Wa’qaar A. Mirza

It was that one fateful meeting in Arlington cemetery that started a chain reaction. The outcome that no one could predict. Covert operations, hostages, chaos around the planet, world leaders at loggerheads… and this was just the beginning. Can Harry Firstone – despite his colourful past – pull off a geopolitical coup that could bring change to the social imbalances across world? Just as the spinning plates of his emotions start to wobble with incredible consequences. Does truth have any value? And is there anything that money can’t buy? Politicians, media, bankers. We live in a world where we choose to believe in lies, but it’s in the dirtiest of swamps that beautiful lotuses bloom. This book is set to inspire you. It will make you get up and do something good. Let your conscience take you on a roller-coaster ride and uncover something you never thought you could.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I think it’s the fact that you have given life and personality to characters and then you are their puppeteer, you can do what you like and you are the master of their destiny. You can give them flaws as well as powers. But I suppose the most favourite thing is transforming the readers into another world, your world. That’s fun, taking people on a journey that you control giving them enjoyment.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
It has to be Jon, the protagonist. He has so many personal issues and his complex personality and still remains focussed in his challenges and goals. He is real and has the weaknesses that any human has often not found in hero characters. That’s what I like, a sensitive person, but who sees the bigger picture

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
I really like jasmine tea and mint tea one they are both good for you, (but you need to drink more water) and second it’s quick and easy to make and available everywhere you go. It’s not heavy and you can have several cups without doing any damage to your health, I always add a slice of lemon and sometimes honey. Never add honey to boiled water, its bad.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Yes, I am sure we all do. I check my emails and take calls, it’s bad I know and does break the thought; I am getting better and with my work, is hard to lock your self away for a day.

How do you research your books?
I have travelled very much and worked in the circle of political elite and ultra rich, this has helped. I read many journals and articles and books on poverty, on actions of the government. I think I subscribe to around 8 major journals like the Harvard Business review, National Geographic, New Philosophy and many others. I did a lot of reading on the all subjects in the in book and looked at the issues facing the planet form the views of the best in the world, such as Monbiot, Rosling, Franklin, Bartlett and Chomsky to mention a few. Spent 3 months just reading about why we are in this mess in the world. Spoke to bankers, politicians, and other professionals. Can’t find any novels on my subject that I wrote about, it’s unique. I spent time with philanthropy movements to get their take on things.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I think I am a plotter, I have a game plan, I know where the book and readers are going, but sometimes you just go for it in a chapter and your imaginations just runs wild, I guess like most writers your both depending how you feel that day, but very strategic in writing.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Well I love the ‘back to future’ films, I think the ability to go back and forth in time is crazy, just imagine how much good and bad could be done, must be the most amazing experience ever. I could spend a day in the land of pharaohs and then a day with the greatest people lived. I would love to interview those that have made and ruined this planet. May be giving them some ideas.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Robert Langdon, Dan Brown’s books. He is all I would like to do, combine science, art, history, politics etc. etc. Really is an amazing, solving problem with just a thread of history. The ability to solve problems under pressure is a skill I love and have I think.


Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: February 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 300
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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The Monumental Secret of the Crucifixion

Julian Boyle

Throughout the history of Christianity there have been those claiming a monumental secret. Often centered around the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris and associated with French esoteric circles like Debussy who wrote in a review:
“Perhaps it’s to destroy that scandalous legend that Jesus Christ died on the cross.”
But even Canon Alfred Lilley came back from St. Sulpice questioning the crucifixion. There must have been some documentation in the church that convinced these people of something portentous. BUT now searching links between the history of Rome and the latest Biblical research, we finally reveal the extraordinary facts that prove exactly what the monumental secret was and its validity making the revaluation of Christianity, as we knew it, inevitable.


TEN THINGS YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT WRITING

1. GO TO BED. This is not a silly answer, it is very true. The reason I place it first is that it actually relates to my writing which is mainly non-fiction. I do nearly all my reading and research in bed. I should add that there are generally three times a day I go to bed. Once going to bed at night: secondly at siesta time: (my mum was Spanish so it comes naturally) and thirdly I often wake up around 3 am, get up, have a cup of tea and go back and read. This night one is a real test of the book as I either read pages and pages or it is so badly written that I drop off after a page. I have just struggled through such a book by a well-known Professor of Middle Eastern Religions (who shall remain nameless in case I meet him.)

I get my fiction from films so I mainly read non-fiction, related to historical subjects. You may think that being in bed is restrictive – but only in how bad my handwritten notes are. I write in the back of the book listing pages where there was something interesting. Here is the back page of my copy of Friedrich Nietzsche’s autobiography ‘Ecce Homo’ (behold the man) Pilate’s words when the flagellated Christ was brought before the rabble.

You see how bad my scribbles are. I was writing a play about the tumultuous relationship between Nietzsche and Richard Wagner. And as I read I marked interesting statements or events. Then when I started writing I would write, Wagner accusing Nietzsche of being rude – so I look at the back of my books and find here – 14 Rudeness (top right) – turn to page 14 and insert it into the writing to make Nietzsche reply, “Rudeness should not be undervalued, it is the most humane form of contradiction.”

Or alternatively there is a statement where Nietzsche ‘attacks’ Wagner, -17 Attack (top right) – and I wind the conversation round to it. “My friend you are applauded by a culture that confuses the artful with the rich and the late with the great.” The part in italics is his written words. So you see how the basics of the play all come from my research in bed.

We put the play on in Edinburgh and the official Review wrote ‘How anyone could write such an intelligent, seem-less script analyzing the complex ideas of the composer Richard Wagner and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is beyond me. “ But the thing is, it is beyond me too – I have shown you the mechanism but I still don’t quite know how it all came together, it just seemed to happen, thanks to all that preparatory reading in bed which maybe sank in to my subconscious as I fell asleep. Performing the play was both scary and exciting as it has music section that synch with the dialogue. The ending was tremendous as it used the 2001 theme that Straus wrote for Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Sprake Zarathustra” while Nietzsche goes mad on stage. As most of the play takes place in the Turin Lunatic asylum, we were able to film it cheaply. An American Philosophy magazine wrote glowingly saying it was ‘Masterful’ and now it is used in US Universities as a teaching aid. – https://goo.gl/ofmqeo

2. MAKING FILMS. Of course when I am not writing I am making films as that is my main job. Writing is extra. I either am directing my own films or editing or shooting special Fxs for friends like Terry Gilliam. I also direct Pop videos. You might remember Kate Bush’s ‘Cloudbusting’ with Donald Sutherland, which I directed. After that I got lots of girl singers asking me to do their video. But then Iron Maiden got in touch to do their clip ‘Can I Play With Madness’ and I lost all my girl singer requests and only got Heavy Metal Bands instead.

3. HUSTLING. Of course making films requires a lot of hustling to get them off the ground. I am totally useless at the process. I couldn’t even sell a bottle of water to someone lost in the desert. That is why I really enjoyed doing the play ‘Twilight of the Gods’ as one writes it, casts it, hires a venue and go straight into production without all the hustling.

4. SPORT. I play football twice a week and squash. One of the football games is with a bunch of celebs, like Alan Davies and Mark Stong, the game is organised by the playwright Patrick Marber. I think I have a hunters instinct and where I don’t like running or swimming back and forth, if you give me a ball to chase I am off on the hunt. I have been injured the last few months and from not playing I got a clear understanding of the difference between squash and football. I miss the squash running and chasing the ball down, the physicality: while football is a team came and in defence (where I play) it is about making rapid structural decisions about your own position and moving your fellow defenders around you. These decisions are too quick to be made consciously so clearly they are being made by the right side of the brain. I am very, very left sided, brain wise, and I think football is one of the only activities I do where I know I am using the right only to make decisions. And I am missing it.

5. AVOIDING WINTER. I think it is my Spanish blood that makes me hate being in the UK over winter. In the old days I was tied to a desktop computer to write. This was also true for editing films. Originally, like on ‘Life of Brian’, we edited the actual film in an editing room. Then things changed to computer editing. Terry Jones and I bought one to edit his film, ‘Wind in the Willows’. It cost in all £65,000 plus five big heavy 9 gig. drives, costing, can you believe, £2,000 each. Forty-five gigs, we thought we were the bees knees. Of course after two years we had to throw the whole thing in the bin as we couldn’t even give it away. Now with my trusty laptop I am free to head south. I can write and even edit anywhere. I remember editing my film ‘Chemical Wedding’ on an aeroplane. And that is my very favourite place to write somewhere warm like Tenerife, just 4 hours away but under palm trees and dripping bougainvillea, with the sun glistening off the sea. I remember the Python’s going to the Caribbean to write ‘Life of Brian’. I think it was a tax dodge – but under those tropical skies they did a wonderful job. At home I have a study but I don’t write there. My bedroom is at the top of the house with a balcony overlooking London and I have put a desk up there and that is where I write. Perhaps I need to look up from my work and have a view. Perhaps it is one of my skills, having a good eye as I direct and light films. I can spot a good shot not intellectually but emotionally. I love places where the sun sets over the sea, for instance my favourite place in France is Biscarrosse Plage near Biaritz on the Atlantic coast, as you can sit and have your sardines with a glass of Bordeaux and watch that magical moment as the sun goes down over the sea. I was once in Goa, which also faces the sunset over the Arabian Sea. Nice place but you must take your mosquito tablets. On the first day I went down to the beach got a beer and sat watching the sunset. Nothing! I felt nothing at all. Must be the jet lag. But the second day the same. And there I was again on the third with my beer and feeling nothing. Something was wrong. I stopped taking the malaria pills. Next day the sun fell towards the sea, the beer in my hand glowed, my heart swelled, I was back to normal. Those bloody pills were dumbing down my senses. That is when I realized I was not reacting intellectually to visual beauty, but emotionally. This was weird for me as I am very, very left brained. I wondered how anyone could live like that without being inspired by visual beauty. In every place I go my family know I have a sunset bar. One of my favourite unspoilt villages in Tenerife is El Medano. Although it is actually on the east coast there is a projection into the sea and there is my Sunset bar where you will find me at around 6.30 with my glass of wine.

6. THE PUB. Working on the computer all day makes you feel a bit isolated so I tend to pop in the pub in the evenings, not to talk but just to be around people. I have some pretty rough pubs I like to go in as you get more animated people in them. But if there is a time limit on my work I will take the laptop with me and write there with a glass of wine and a sandwich. Posh pubs don’t let you eat your own food in them. I was watching football on the TV in the Boston, one of my rough pubs, and a Film Director friend, Sam Miller came in and spotted me in the corner. I told him I was in the corner because I was having oysters with my wine and the locals would be a bit put off by me slipping live oysters down my throat. Sam plays football in my celebs game he enjoyed telling them with great glee how he found me in the corner of the rough old Boston, sipping wine and eating oysters.

7. LECTURING. I do several types of lecturing, sometimes in Film Schools like the London Film Academy or the Havana Film School. Other times in Universities like Sheffield or Penn State in America. In these academic institutions I talk on a variety of subjects, from Film Directing, Film Lighting and editing. But I also give informal talks to clubs and association and then I talk on more popular subjects like ‘Making Films with Monty Python.” I am now being invited to talk about crucifixion as I am now an expert after Crucifying the Pythons. Favourite amongst Python fans is that I was the Policeman who brought ‘Holy Grail’ to an end. Well we didn’t have much money and all the crew had to be extras.

8. FAMILY LUNCH. My Spanish mother always liked us to all get together for lunch and even after she died we still get together for a Sunday lunch or an evening birthday celebration. My brother and I; our wives, our kids with their spouses and the grandkids. At Christmas there were 15 who sat down to dinner. We celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, the Spanish way, which works out great because as most families go through several partners, nowadays the family come to us for Christmas Eve and then to the other halves for Christmas day. Works perfect. The other good thing about Christmas Eve is that we can have Father Christmas come after dinner. My house has a pitched roof at the front but a flat roof at the back so Father Christmas appears on the roof and all the kids are told he is on the roof. They run out and from the front it looks like he is walking on the pitch of the roof. We adults take turns in donning the costume, and it was my turn this year. I gave such a great performance, I fooled everyone under 4 years old.

9. SHOPPING. As I do quite a bit of cooking I also pop down the shops and shop for the basics. Our High street has about 8 charity shops and a car boot sale every Saturday. My wife loves the Charity shops and I have been amazed at the sensational clothes she has bought there. So I have found myself, after shopping for the food, joining her in her quest for a bargain, and have pulled some great bargains for myself.

10. PHOTOGRAPHY. I am not an avid Photographer but there are moments where I feel I must capture the image. We can be walking along and suddenly something gets me. Here for instance we were walking along the beach at Hollywood. (No not Hollywood, Los Angeles as there is no beach there, but, Hollywood Florida.) I said to the wife, “Stand on that wall.” And got this classic picture. You cant see she is on a wall but at ground level it would not have worked.


Publisher: Chippenham Books
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 217
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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The Rock ‘N’ Roll. ‘N’ That…

Steven J. Gill

“Rock ‘n’ roll is a nuclear blast of reality in a mundane world where no-one is allowed to be magnificent.” The former manager of The Runaways said that. The mad bastard. And Johnny Harrison swore by it. He had to. Almost forty, fully paid up member of the rat race and bored sh*tless. He had to believe in something. Then something happened. Something magnificent. A once in a lifetime band dropped out of the sky and right into his lap. A band unaware of just how great they could be. A band that had no idea what was about to hit them. A band that needed someone to light the fuse. That someone was Johnny Harrison and the truth was he needed them so much more. They were his ticket out. That’s how it is with THE ROCK ‘N’ THE ROLL. ‘N’ THAT. Buy your ticket and take the ride.


TOP FIVE THINGS ABOUT WRITNG THIS BOOK

1) An incredible sense of achievement when I typed ‘The End’. Writing is a discipline and you need great levels of perseverance which is not easy when you get tied up in knots with narrative cup-de-sacs.

2) When I ‘outed’ myself as an author/writer, the levels of support and admiration from friends really was quite something. My favourite comment from a friend who read an early draft was “I’m really glad it’s not shit!”

Quite possibly the best back-handed compliment I’ve ever received.

3) Seeing the hard copy of the book was a proper head spin moment.

It arrived just after Xmas and I’d just placed a sizeable Amazon order which by my reckoning had all been delivered. Upon openings the package, I was stunned to see my name on the cover of a book. An actual book!

And do judge a book by the cover, because the artwork is brilliant and I’m biased about the story but I know it will hook people in.

4) I’m enjoying talking about it no. The gestation period feels so long the relief is now palpable and I can take a step back and talk about it.

5) And lastly, the best thing about writing my book was seeing the narrative unfurl and take unexpected directions. I knew the ending from the outset but not the journey it would take to get there. It’s great to surprise yourself because you know that you’ll also be surprising your potential readers!


Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: January 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 217
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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Hidden Colours

Nillu Nasser

Each evening, nestled in Berlin’s Treptower Park, the immigrant circus comes to life.
When Yusuf fled Syria, he lost everything. Now the circus, with its middle-eastern flair, is the only home he knows. When the lights go on, the refugees dazzle their audience, but off-stage tensions flare.
Ellie is passionate about the circus and drawn to its broken people. Even so, if she wants to keep her job at the newspaper, she must head up a campaign against it.
One night, in the midst of a show, two young circus boys come to blows. With the circus at risk of closure, Ellie must convince her readers that we can have compassion for those we fear, or Yusuf will be forced to uproot again.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I write for the clarity it brings, that sense of immersion and wonder. I can take the time to weave intricate sentences or get the nuance just right without worrying that it is already someone else’s turn to speak. I can examine a thought carefully, tangibly, without it slipping through the fog of my brain like a wandering child at a funfair. In a world of constant change and fleeting lives, writing a book is an act of love and attention.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?

It’s so hard to choose, but in Hidden Colours my favourite character is probably Zul the Clown, one of my protagonist’s best friends.

Before writing Zul, clowns used to scare me: big red noses, white-painted faces, windsail trousers and giant shoes. Pennywise in It is murderous rather than funny. Heath Ledger’s awe-inspiring Joker in The Dark Knight is not a man you’d like to run into, even in daylight. They are not good-humoured buffoons performing slapstick and tricks; they are maniacs.

Towards the end of 2016, I read the story of a Syrian man called Anas al-Basha, who became a clown in Aleppo when it was besieged by fighting, to bring a smile to children there. He’d refused to leave the city and was killed by a strike at the age of twenty-four. My character Zul is based on Anas. I imagine his story continues here.

The Clown of Aleppo’s story made me aware of the humanitarian aspect of clowning. Clowns are compassionate and clever. They are artists, outliers and risk-takers. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. They remind us not to take ourselves seriously, to pick ourselves up when something goes wrong. The more I researched, the more I was struck by their empathy.

Zul doesn’t have much page time, but when he does, my heart goes out to him. He’s such a lovely guy despite trying circumstances. Maybe one day he’ll get his own novel.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?

It has to be a cuppa of Twinings Everyday Tea, which is beautifully rounded and a delight. The problem is that the moment I’ve made the tea (it has to be the right colour), I get engrossed in work and forget all about it. Cold tea just isn’t the same.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Yes I do! Not stretching enough, especially if I’m in full flow. I know from other writers that it’s best to stretch regularly before your body begins to creak. I also often begin my writing days listening to music with lyrics, when I know my focus is deeper and my pace quicker when I listen to instrumental music. I write while my children are at school so I really do need to wean myself off that initial temptation to have a singalong.

How do you research your books?
By the time I’ve committed to a story idea, I know the main character’s dilemma and the themes. Often, snatches of key scenes play out in my head like a film. By the time I begin writing the book in earnest, I know where I can draw on my own experience and where I have gaps. That’s key to finding out what work is needed before the drafting begins.

Next I turn to travel guides and photo books for setting details, non-fiction books for topics and speak to friends who can deepen my knowledge. For example, my research pile for Hidden Colours included books on circus history and maps of Berlin. Sometimes I watch movies that are knwn to have elements of my new project. The internet opens up a wormhole of unfiltered information, causing hours to disappear with the click of my trackpad.

I love meandering research, how stories are shaped by a chain reaction to materials I come across, and how ideas morph into something new. Even so, fiction writers aren’t historians. My aim is to write believable and authentic stories. At some point you have to jump into the story and not look back.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I leave my pantsing for poetry. That is a freer form for me: more emotion than logic. For a novel, just letting my words rain down on paper without knowing where I’m going would be too kamikaze.

I like to figure out my characters and their desires, as well as the themes of the novel early in the process. Then I spend a few days thinking about what scenes might suit the story. I organise these in a way that would suit a novel’s arc. The beginning and end points often stay the same, but the middle often changes once I get under the skin of my characters. Then the story takes on a shape of its own.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
I’d choose Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere or James Cameron’s Avatar. I write literary fiction, sometimes with elements of magical realism, but I also read fantasy, and who would choose to live in the real world when you could live in a fantastical one?

When Avatar first came out, I read news stories about how some fans became depressed at the thought that they would never be as entwined with nature as the Na’vi on Pandora.

Neverwhere is equally brilliant. I live in London and it made me see the city in a new light, reinventing well known landmarks, imbuing old streets and forgotten corners with magic.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I love female characters who are central to the story. Ones who may sometimes be confused or misguided, but are essentially brave and kind like Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood has just announced a sequel. Hooray!), Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird or Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter.

Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publication Date: December 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 315
Genre: Literary
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Lilith Gene

M. Cassol

Vesna, a Serbian PhD student in Art History living in Tuscany, is a master rock climber. The only thing she can’t get a grip on is her love life. Beset by terrifying panic attacks that strike every time she allows herself to be intimate with another woman, she strives to avoid the so-called mermaids in her life. Olga is a widened-eye nurse trainee in Sarajevo. It’s 1912 and Olga is all too keen to document her life and the world changing around her in her diaries. Olga’s passion for nursing is only rivalled by her love for her anguished boyfriend Gav. The arrival of the obscure Patient J.D. 347 at the hospital is about to change everything for Olga. Everything will change for Vesna too, when she meets the compelling art restorer Rafaella Guaritore. Rafaella holds the key to Vesna’s research into influential women painters of the Renaissance and the metaphorical Lilith Gene that all the rebellious ladies in art are believed to share. Will Rafaella hold the key to solving Vesna’s mysterious recurring dreams and find the root of all her anxiety? Or is the answer to Vesna’s problems hidden in Olga’s diaries?


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
The learning curve that is researching for the plot. In “The Lilith Gene” I spent hours reading about history, art, science and the more I read, the more it changed the plot. It was almost like the story had it’s own way of conducting the development and the book turned out to be nothing like what I had in mind at the beginning, transforming into something far better that I thought I could produce.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
If I say that characters are like children, I will sound too cliche, but indeed all of them are special. In “The Lilith Gene” if I had to choose one, it would be Perzie. I don’t want to spoilt the plot too much, but she was based on a true magnificent woman and everyone should read about her. Her name is Milunka Savić and she was a Serbian war hero and an extraordinary lady.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?

When I have the privilege of having a day all to myself to write, I am stuck in a constant loop of “is it too late for coffee/too early for wine?”

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
When I am thinking, I tend to to be very fidgety with my fingers and my cuticles end up paying the price.

How do you research your books?
Internet. Human kind’s greatest achievement. But also tend to talk a lot with people that have been through situations that are featured in the book. For “The Lilith Gene” I had long chats with people that suffer from anxiety (so I could describe the real feeling of a panic attack) and also people that have tried ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic plant called the Vine of Spirits, so what I’ve written could be as accurate as possible.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I am both really. With all the good intentions I had a straight forward plot in mind, but clearly the women that live in my head and are telling their stories trough me have other ideas and I end up in a complete different place.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s Amazon island. Not only it’s the lesbian paradise, I really would not mind looking a Gal Gador all day long.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?

I would definitely apply for the position of Uma Thurman’s side quick in Kill Bill. I can already see both of us, the Bride (AKA Black Mamba) and I, with matching outfits (although I would prefer a all red outfit and trainers instead of the yellow one) samurai swords, pursing the ultimate vengeance.

I would also need a strong killer name, being Brazilian would probably be something like “Amazonian Sucuri”.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 232
Genre: Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Brexit XXL

Vincent Pluchet

Plunge into post-Brexit Britain and follow Prime Minister Tracy Meller in the biggest struggle she has ever faced, as the country is hit by a huge crisis and her opponents leave her no respite. Meet ordinary people caught up in the storm. Visit Chequers and historical places where the action takes place.
London, 2022 Tracy Meller, the UK’s Conservative Prime Minister, is facing an unprecedented crisis.
Having halted the endless negotiations to leave the European Union four years earlier, Prime Minister Meller chose the most uncompromising of all possible exits, a “Brexit XXL” with serious consequences. The economy is at a standstill, the financial markets are panicking. The opposition Labour Party launches an attack on the Prime Minister with a promise of a return to the European Union. The country’s morale is at rock bottom: everyone is afraid for their jobs and losing faith in the future. As for Scotland, its thoughts are increasingly turning back to independence. Prime Minister Meller herself is beginning to doubt the wisdom of her decision…
Will the UK survive this historic crisis? Brexit XXL is a work of fiction about the most risky Brexit scenario, based on a detailed analysis of British political culture. Both realistic and instructive, the plot of the novel has a particular resonance today, encouraging reflection on the sovereignty of nations and the future of the European project..


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I marvel at the specific way in which books allow us to share emotions, knowledge and ideas, with people all around the world. It’s great to exchange ideas and get feedback.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Mrs Meller, the main protagonist, is my favourite character because though she is in a position of power, as Prime Minister, she is also very human. She has many weaknesses which her opponents use to attack her – she hesitates, she is sensitive. And she means well: she does what she thinks is best for her country, not just what is best for her politically. But is being a principled and nice person enough to be a good Prime Minister? She will experience many failures during her term of office. Would her less considerate, more opportunist opponents do better than her in the event? Mrs Meller raises the question of the balance between personality and power.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Tea with a spot of milk. Very British and not French at all!

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
My bad habit is that I sometimes stop writing for weeks! If I don’t have enough inspiration, I stop. But I know a regular writing discipline would be more efficient.

How do you research your books?
I do a lot of research. I read books and I trawl the internet. For “Brexit XXL”, I closely followed the news and publications on the topic, but I also did research about the places where the events of the book happen – like Chequers and the Black Country. And I like to share my findings.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser. When I started the book, I had no idea where it would take me. But for my next book, I’ll try to be a plotter! It saves a lot of headaches!

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
I like to be in the real world – sitting or travelling, and watching people and events. Once I sat in the main square in La Paz, Bolivia. It’s a small square, no bigger than the squares in many small towns. Around it are the Presidential palace, the Congress and the Cathedral. Everything was very peaceful, with pigeons and passers-by the only activity. But more than 150 revolutions and coups have taken place in that square. Talk about reality being more eventful than fiction!

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?

Definitely Guy Wick. He is a tough cookie, he has strong opinions and is not well behaved. But he is very cultured and is passionate about his beliefs. It would be good to be his friend and get to know him better.

Publisher: UK Book Publishing
Publication Date: August 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 212
Genre: Political Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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