Saturday 25 November 2017

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to G.J. Minett

Being a book blogger I'm always on the lookout for new authors and Twitter is one of my favourite places to look for them. Back in August I noticed Graham Minett and decided to follow him and when he very kindly followed me back we started chatting, I looked into his books a little closer and bought a copy of his first book, The Hidden Legacy, with the plan to sneakily squeeze it into my reading schedule. A few weeks later I started reading it and I couldn't put it down! You can read my review here and because I enjoyed it so much I asked Graham if he'd like to write a guest post for The Hippo ahead of his next book, Anything For Her, being published on the 30th of November and I was thrilled when he agreed.

Well, I think you've heard enough from me so let’s get to the main event, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you all to GJ Minett.

Photo courtesy of Graham Minett

Graham Minett studied Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge before teaching for several years in Gloucestershire and West Sussex. In 2008 he completed a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and subsequently won both the inaugural Segora short story competition in 2008 and the Chapter One competition in 2010. The latter consisted of the opening sections of what would eventually become The Hidden Legacy, which earned him the first of two separate two-book deals with Bonnier Zaffre.

The Hidden Legacy and Lie In Wait are both already published as eBooks and in paperback. His third novel, Anything For Her, will appear as an eBook in November 2017 and then in paperback in March 2018.

Now writing full-time, he is represented by Adam Gauntlett of the Peters, Fraser and Dunlop Agency and lives in West Sussex with his wife and children whilst nevertheless retaining close links with Cheltenham and the rest of his family.


You'd do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn't you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy's never forgotten her. He'd do anything for her then, and he'd do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing - reasons that might be more dangerous than she's led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.

                                                     *    *    *    *

The following scene, which does not appear in the novel, imagines an interview between Billy and a psychotherapist (MLW) at a time when he is recovering from his breakdown at university. He is 20 years of age and the consultation takes place 6 years before the opening scene of the novel.

                              Extract from interview with Billy Orr

Transcript from tape WO/MLW2
Date: June 16th 2009

Billy:     How long have we got left?

MLW:    About . . . seven minutes or so. Why do you ask?

Billy:     No reason.

MLW:    If you feel you’ve had enough for today . . .

Billy:     No, I think I can stand the excitement for another seven minutes.


MLW:    You sound . . . I don’t know . . . a little dejected. Were you hoping for more from this session?

Billy:     Not really. When it comes to expectations, I tend not to set the bar that high. You mind if I ask you something? How do you do this day after day? Is this what you always wanted to do . . . sit there and listen to a procession of wounded birds chirping away? I mean . . . you’re intelligent, university educated, it’s not like you’d have been short of options when it came to choosing a career. Why the hell would you go for psychotherapy?

MLW:    It’s not something that would appeal to you?

Billy:     No way. And you’ve done it again incidentally. You know how many times you people answer a question with one of your own? Is that part of the training? I mean, no disrespect but you act like actually engaging with a patient would be serious professional misconduct. You all just sit there, as if you’re thumbing your way through some text book – what is it, the Manual for the Terminally Unimaginative? You hide behind protocols and case studies like you’re too scared to really talk to me. You just tiptoe around the conversation we really ought to be having and if I ask any questions of my own you just deflect them back to me. Wouldn’t you rather communicate?

MLW:    So you think these sessions should be about you asking me questions?

Billy:     I think they should be less artificial. More like a conversation than an inquisition. I don’t know you – don’t know the first thing about you. I don’t open the door to the delivery guy from Tesco and immediately start telling him my innermost secrets. I don’t stop the bin man at the end of the drive and fill him in on what I dreamt about last night. I know both of them better than I do you and yet I’m supposed to sit here and open up to a complete stranger while she peeks and probes and tries to worm her way in. That doesn’t sound artificial to you?

(Long pause)

MLW:    And yet here you are, Billy.

Billy:     And yet here I am.

MLW:    Because . . .?

Billy:     Oh . . . right. Is that page 7? Get the patient to admit how central these sessions are

to his sense of well-being?

MLW:    Why are you here, Billy? Why will you be here again next week?

Billy:     Don’t flatter yourself. I’m here because my sister is worried about me. I can’t keep

going into meltdown every time the pressure starts to build up and if it will help her feel better about things I’ll visit every shaman and snake oil salesman who’s prepared to put up with me. But it’s not because I’ve got any genuine expectations that you’ll be the one to find the release valve.


Don’t mean to be rude but you did ask.

MLW:    So what do you feel I should do to make these sessions more relevant and meaningful for you?

Billy:     (sighs) Talk to me. Make it more of a conversation. More of an exchange, you know? I don’t know your first name.

MLW:    It’s Melanie.

Billy:     Melanie. Right. Talk to me, Melanie.  Forget for a few minutes that I’m a patient and treat me like a real person. Have a bit of respect for my intelligence. And if you want to know something about me, go ahead and ask instead of dancing around the question and trying to sneak in through the back door. If I don’t feel ready to answer a particular question, I’ll say so. Do you understand what I’m saying?

MLW:    Totally. But it’s not always that straightforward. These meltdowns, as you call them – they’re happening for a reason. You’ve been through some very challenging and distressing experiences and sometimes just charging straight ahead and tackling them front on may not be the best approach. It pays to be careful.

Billy:     It also pays to move forward every so often.

MLW:    You don’t feel we’re making any progress?

Billy:     Look, we’ve got a couple of minutes still. Why not go for a quick word association exercise to finish off. Just two minutes. I’m up for it if you are.

MLW:    You think that will help?

Billy:     Yes. Just go for it. Two minutes.


MLW:    OK. If you’re sure.

Billy:     Sure.

MLW:    Quickfire answers. First thought that comes into your head.

Billy:     Got it.

MLW:    OK. House.

Billy:     Bleak.

MLW:    Sun.

Billy:     Shine.

MLW:    Water.

Billy:     Fall.

MLW:    Family.

Billy:     Tree.

MLW:    Parents.

Billy:     Dead.

MLW:    Mother.

Billy:     Loving.

MLW:    Father.

Billy:     Dead.

MLW:    Girlfriend.

Billy:     None.

MLW:    Sister.

Billy:     Everything.

MLW:    Girlfriend.
Billy:     Move on.

MLW:    Deadlines.

Billy:     Matter.

MLW:    Girlfriend.

Billy:     Two minutes are up.

Additional note (MLW):

As he left, Billy challenged me to listen to the tape and decide which of the answers he’d given were fabricated.

He is clearly going to present something of a challenge.

                                        *    *    *    * 

Thanks for the insight into Billy's character Graham, I can't wait to find out all about him!
Anything for Her will be published on November 30th and is available to pre-order now.

You can find out more about Graham and connect with him using the links below:

There's also a blog tour for Anything For Her where you can read reviews and more which you can follow with these brilliant blogs:

I'd like to thank Graham for stopping by today and for taking the time to write such an intriguing guest post.

Thursday 23 November 2017

#Blog Tour - We Have Lost The Chihuahuas - Paul Mathews

Thanks to the lovely Emma Mitchell I'm delighted to be on the blog tour for We Have Lost The Chihuahuas today with a Q & A with the author Paul Mathews.

Before I chat to Paul let me tell you a bit about his new book and the man himself.


London, 2046. The British Republic has a new First Lady. She’s Californian, ‘in-your-face, for sure’ and she’s got big plans for a Buckingham Palace refurb. When her three Chihuahuas go missing, one man is determined to avoid getting dragged into it all. His name is Pond. Howie Pond – presidential spokesperson, retired secret agent and cat lover.

Meanwhile, Howie’s wife Britt is handed her first assignment as a National Security and Intelligence Service rookie – to solve the mystery of the missing canine trio.

Will Howie manage to slope off to the pub before he can be roped into help? Will Britt unmask the dognapper and grab the glory? Find out, in the latest, crazy comedy-thriller from dog-loving British author Paul Mathews.

                                                     *    *    *    * 

                                                  About the author

Photo courtesy of Paul Mathews

Paul Mathews is a quite funny British guy who's managed to escape his day job and is currently on the run as a comedy novelist. His sharp, satirical - often surreal - sense of humour draws on 20 years as a British Government press officer, during which time he encountered politicians, senior civil servants, HR managers, and lots of other people who really sucked at their jobs.

His popular 'We Have Lost' comedy-thriller series set in 2040s London, starring beleaguered presidential spokesman and wannabe secret agent Howie Pond, currently comprises four titles with more on the way. Paul has read all the books at least ten times and highly recommends them.

Make him happy by signing up for his 'Very Funny Newsletter' here. If you don't want to sign up for it, stay calm and do nothing.

Paul also owns a cat, Lulu, who works as his assistant. All fan mail to her, please.

Photo found on Google

                                               Q & A

What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?
I remember those Janet and John books at Infants School but not much else. In later life, I also remember reading Dr Who books and really loving comics. My brother and I put the comics we’d read in a box under the bed and re-read them before bedtime. It probably explains why I’m a comedy writer!

Who is your favourite literary character?
Marvin the Paranoid Android from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – I think we all feel a little like Marvin sometimes.

Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – its title inspired a phrase still in use today. I’ve seen some bad reviews of it, so I don’t know whether it’s stood the test of time. But everyone gets bad reviews – even me!

If you could only take one book with you on a desert island, which would it be?
Any large encyclopedia that floats.

What are you currently reading?
I’m 25% of the way through a Douglas Adams biography. It’s brilliantly researched and, therefore, extremely long. It’s fascinating how he took comedy ideas from his student days and worked them into his writing.

I'd like to thank Paul for taking the time to answer these questions. We Have Lost The Chihuahuas will be published on the 28th of November and it's available to pre-order here.

You can find out more about Paul and connect with him using the links below:

You can follow the rest of the tour with these fabulous bloggers: