Sunday 22 April 2018

The Hippo Hands Over to . . . . Simon Farrant

Today I’m delighted to be handing over to Simon Farrant, an author who is just starting out on his journey. To avoid Simon hanging about and getting any last minute nerves I’m just going to hand straight over to him and let him introduce himself to you all.

Photo courtesy of Simon Farrant

It is true, what they say; you never know where life is going to take you.

I’m lucky enough to have had a diverse experience of life thus far.

Back in 1975, I was born in Doncaster. I’m proud of my Yorkshire roots of course.
Over the following few decades, I lived in various places. I went to university in Derby and gained a HND and a BA (Hons). Since then, I lived, studied and worked in a few more places before finding the love of my life.

We moved in together, got married and had three kids. What an adventure; it started fifteen years ago. Since then, I am proud to have served as a Special Constable. I wanted to join up full time, but life had another plan. At the time, I was working for a major national supermarket as a HGV (large truck) driver, which I did for over a decade. I became ill, I think it was during 2011 with swine flu, but the illness never went away. Now I am disabled with various chronic illnesses; which resulted in my losing my job about four years ago.

I did wonder where life would take me next.

Mark Nye, a superb writer and a friend, asked for submissions for an anthology. I wrote a short story called Famously Ordinary. To my delight, Mark told me it was a good story. By then, I had caught the writing bug!

The anthology was never actually published, so I made it into a novella when I had some more writing experience. This is, I feel, a much better story.

I have a couple of novella’s available to buy, and if you like horror then pick up Anathema. That’s a short story collection from myself and Mark.  

Later this year I shall be releasing my first novel, Too Early for Death, which has been very well received by Beta readers. So much so, that I am halfway through writing the sequel.

I love writing as much as I can, and I look forward to hearing from you all.

Thanks a million for taking the time to read this bio, I am delighted that you have taken the interest.

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                                 Plotter, pantser or somewhere in-between

I love the question; ‘Are you a plotter or a pantser?’

I am certainly somewhere in between. Each story that I have written has been different. In the beginning, I was a pure pantser and just wrote where the words and characters took me. This was wonderful, and I hope that this happens again. I had a rough idea as to what was going to occur, but the story took it’s own path there. This really took place with the novella Famously Ordinary; trust me, I was really quite shocked at what the main character, James Dean, did when he carried out the murders. 

This changed slightly with a novel I have written, and am currently revising and polishing. It’s called Too Early For Death at the moment. I began with a kernel of an idea, which was about how one decision can change your life and have devastating consequences for a person and their family. As I went along it became an eternal love story, and that love never dies despite that decision. A while into writing the story, I decided on the ending. This is when the story became hybrid pants/plot. I knew the destination and where I had began… but no sat nav! 

When this book is published, the follow up book shall be released a month later. I am currently writing this. By necessity, as it is a follow up, there had to more of a plan than the first book. Of course, the beginning was the previous ending. While thinking about the book, I found a series of points that I wanted the story to touch. So, again we have a hybrid, but I can’t totally lose my pants and there is an elasticity to the plot. A new character has slammed into the book, whilst I was writing a chapter (what a rascal!) who has demanded their own chapter. 

So, I guess the answer is that I have elasticated pants!

I was lucky enough to find a wonderful tool called that has very much helped with the plot/story writing process. I would certainly recommend that any writer, new or experienced, check it out. 

Soon, I shall be writing a short story for a follow up book that Mark Nye has created. It is called Super Sick 2, I had a story in Super Sick. For this story, I am aiming to be a pure pantser and enjoy the freedom that brings.

Thank you for reading, I hope that you have enjoyed it!

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Thank you so much for stopping by today Simon. It's been great getting to know you and finding out more about you and your work and I'm sure the readers have enjoyed it as much as I have. I'm looking forward to reading Famously Ordinary and experiencing your writing for myself.

You can connect with Simon using the links below, I know he'd love to hear from you so why not give his page a like or follow him on Twitter. Go on, share the love and make a new authors day!

Saturday 21 April 2018

#Blogtour - The Key To Death's Door - Mark Tilbury

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Key To Death's Door by Mark Tilbury.

I'm sure you all have your favourites authors, the ones who when you know they have a new book coming out, you just know that you HAVE to read it. You don't need to know what it's about, you don't need a blurb . . .  you just NEED to read it. Well Mark Tilbury is one of mine and deservedly so.

Lee Hunter is a typical teenager, getting into scrapes and looking for adventure, but when he and his best friend, Charlie Finch, decide to spend the night at a local derelict boathouse no-one could have forseen the terrifying consequences it would have for both of them, but in particular Lee.

A severe overnight storm leaves the boys without any method of getting back to the shore so they decide to swim across the river. Charlie makes is back safely but Lee isn't so lucky, he disappears under the water and then blacks out. When he comes round is isn't where he expects to be and nothing is quite as it seems. Lee is going to wish he was back in the river, drowning.

The Key to Death's Door is a book that once read, will stay with you for a long time after you've read the final page. A tale of true friendship between two boys and I felt that the author really captured the essence of their friendship, making them feel real and because of that I really sympathised with their situation. Once again the subject matter is hard-hitting, there's animal cruelty, child abuse and torture to name just a few, but this is exactly what I've come to expect from Mark Tilbury's books and as strange as it might sound, this is why I'm drawn to them so much. I know that I can completely immerse myself in the story and become blissfully ignorant of everything that's going on around me.

As always with Mark's books there's one character that  made my skin crawl, to the point where I almost couldn't bear to read his name. After 'meeting' the truly repugnant Detective Carter in The Abattoir of Dreams I was pretty sure that no other character could ever come close to being as vile as he was, but boy was I wrong! Daryl Finch is the mother of all heinous characters and he certainly outstayed his welcome in my head once I'd reached the end of the book! I'm sure he even visited me in my dreams about a week later. . . . .and that's just rude as well as a little disturbing!

I can guarantee that The Key To Death's Door will give you palpitations . . . . but you'll love it, I know I did. Mark Tilbury is fast becoming an author to be reckoned with when it comes to dark and gritty thrillers, so if that's your thing this is one book and author that needs to be on your radar and more importantly on your TBR.

With kind thanks to Sarah at Bloodhound Books, NetGalley and Mark Tilbury for my review copy

Sunday 15 April 2018

#BlogTour - The Last Friend - Harvey Church

I'm thrilled to be today's stop on the blog tour for The Last Friend by Harvey Church.

Donovan's daughter, Elizabeth went missing from a fairground 15 years ago, so imagine how stunned he is when a young woman called Monica knocks on his door, totally out of the blue, claiming to have been Elizabeth's last friend.

Monica tells him how she was held captive with Elizabeth, she knows who abducted her, where her remains are, as well as details about her childhood, things that only Elizabeth would know. . . .  but is Monica telling the truth?

After more recent events, Donovan is a vulnerable and desperate man who really wants to believe that Monica has the answers to all is questions but does she have an ulterior motive?

I'm never sure what to expect when I read a new author but I'm pleased to say that Harvey Church didn't disappoint!

The Last Friend is a dark and disturbing tale of the lengths a father will go to to discover what happened to his daughter, regardless of how traumatic the outcome may be. My heart went out to Donovan and I really felt for him. I was instantly suspicious of Monica and that suspicion only grew as the story went on. I didn't want Donovan to be taken advantage of when he'd been through so much already and I feared how he would react if he finally got the answers to his long awaited questions. At the same time I was also thinking but what if Monica is telling the truth, she's been to hell and back.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The short, sharp chapters were a great way of adding to the tension as I quickly turned the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Harvey Church has written a compelling story about a sadly, all too regular occurrence in today's world  and dealt with it with subtlety and sensitivity. If you're looking for something that will grip you right from the outset and different from most missing child stories then I recommend you give this little beauty a try. I'd definitely recommend it and I'm looking forward to reading more books by this author!

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                                                    Author bio

Photo courtesy of Harvey Church

Harvey Church has a background in finance, which is how he found himself writing about the people and ridiculousness (sometimes the same thing) of that field in his Edwin Burrows light mystery series. Although he considers himself retired from that field (aka not working), he's planning another three Edwin Burrows novels for 2018.

His first "serious" novel, The Last Friend, is a Kindle Scout writing competition winner and was published by Kindle Press on January 9, 2018. The BookLife Prize called it "an entertaining read for mystery and thriller fans alike," and said it is "an unexpected and exciting series of events that will grab readers." Harvey plans two sister novels to The Last Friend in 2018, one titled The Last Night (Spring 2018) and the other tentatively titled The Last Survivor.

For fun, Harvey likes to practice street magic and spends hours engineering tricks to wow his audiences. He is also an avid hockey fan (Go Leafs Go). He has a wife and two kids. His favorite color is blue, but he drives a black car because he read somewhere, back in the 90’s, that radar detectors have a tough time seeing them. Interestingly, he never speeds because he's too busy singing like nobody's watching, or maybe it's that everybody is deaf. 

He's a supporter of double-chins, double-dates, and double-dipping (though never on double-dates), and obviously enjoys writing about himself in the third person, in the voice of the narrator from The Royal Tenenbaums. 

You can  connect with Harvey Church on his websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram

You can also find him wandering the streets of Chicago, Toronto, Montreal or the Lido deck of a Princess Cruise ship. If you ever meet Harv, ask to see a magic trick! 

Make sure you follow the rest of the blog tour with these fantastic blogs.

With kind thanks to Caroline at Bits About Books and author Harvey Church.