Enjoy a #pirate adventure? Check out Vann Gellis: The Birth of a Pirate #thriller

Vann Gellis: The Birth of a Pirate (Vann Gellis – Pirate of the Gods Book 1) by Larry B. Litton Jr The first installment of Larry B. Litton Jr.’s long awaited series, The Pirate of the Gods – chronicles the … Continue reading

Looking for a thrilling adventure? Check out Migration: Beginnings by @walterwrites #thriller #gay

Migration: Beginnings After unknown forces throw the world into turmoil by detonating weapons throughout Europe, the Earth will never be the same.   Migration: Beginnings is the story of Dr. Rhys Tambor and his husband, Jason Frost-Tambor, and how an … Continue reading

Like a bit of #nostalgia mixed with your #murder #mystery books? @JackSussek

An author interview with Jack Sussek author of MANHATTAN AFFAIR Manhattan Affair is a tale of New York City nostalgia mixed with murder, conspiracy and sex. Mr Average, AKA, Jed Chase is living the quiet live; this is until he falls for … Continue reading

Halloween –A Good Time To Remember Ray Bradbury

by
Seb
Kirby

Halloween in a good opportunity to
remember Ray Bradbury. 
Though he’s been thought of more as a
science fiction writer in recent years, right from the start and throughout his
writing career, Ray Bradbury was interested in the macabre, the bizarre and
the unusual, all seen through the lens of his uplifting poetic imagination.
Ray Bradbury
Attribution: photo by Alan Light


The true story he recounts in the
Introduction to Volume 1 of his collected short stories sets the scene. He
takes us back to 1932 when, as a twelve year old, he met a remarkable performer
who was part of a ‘seedy, two-bit’ carnival that came to town:

‘Mr Electrico sat in his electric chair,
being fired with ten billion volts of pure blue sizzling power. Reaching out
into the audience, his eyes flaming, his white hair standing on end, sparks
leaping between his smiling teeth, he brushed an Excalibur sword over the heads
of the children, knighting them with fire. When he came to me, he tapped me on
both shoulders and then the tip of my nose. The lightening jumped into me, Mr
Electrico cried: “Live forever!”’

Making excuses to go back there the next
two nights, the twelve year old got to know the entertainer who told him he was
a defrocked Presbyterian minister out of Cairo, Illinois. Then, Mr Electrico
came up with the really surprising news. They had met before, he said, on the
battlefield of the Ardennes in 1918.  “And
here you are, born again, in a new body, with a new name. Welcome back!”

Ray Bradbury concludes that he had been
uplifted by not one but two gifts from Mr Electrico – the gift of having lived
once before (and of being told about it) …and the gift of trying somehow to
live forever.  He continues: ‘A few weeks
later I started writing my first short stories about the planet Mars. From that
time to this, I have never stopped. God bless Mr Electrico, the catalyst,
wherever he is.’

As a young boy myself not much older than
Ray Bradbury was then, I began reading his stories. His science fiction stories
came later for me; what captured my imagination first was the macabre mystery
of the stories in ‘The October Country’, ‘I Sing The Body Electric!’ and the
story that turned into a novel, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’. In these
stories he draws on the surreal imagination set off by that carnival encounter
back in 1932, producing quirky, challenging encounters that stretch the
imagination. But this is a forgiving horror. As in all of his writing there is
an optimism that rises despite the most difficult of odds and cuts through the
darkness.

So, have a good Halloween!  Banish those monsters!  Ray Bradbury will be with you every step of
the way.

Sadly, Ray Bradbury failed in one thing –
he didn’t find a way of living forever as Mr Electrico had demanded. He died
last year, aged 91. But he lives on in his wonderful stories, written in that
clear, inspirational voice that is a model to so many authors today.

Here he is, talking about his writing and
his hope of inspiring others.








Introducing
TAKE NO MORE



Nothing like a murder to get the blood flowing




When James Blake discovers his wife has been murdered in their London home, he is determined to find her killer. 



Julia, a conservator – a protector and preserver of fine art – has left him with just two clues: the words help me on her mobile phone and a strange attachment of Michelangelo’s Leda and the Swan. 




As the prime suspect of his wife’s murder, James flees England and sets out on a trail of deception and danger across the sweeping landscapes of Venice and Florence into a dark underworld of corruption, a trail that will lead him to the killer – and the shocking truth behind the mystery.



Seb Kirby was literally raised with books – his grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham, UK, and his parents inherited a random selection of the books. Once he discovered a trove of well-used titles from Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to more obscure stuff, he was hooked.


He’s been an avid reader ever since.


Other inspirations include Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and The Trial, George Orwell 1984 and Animal Farm, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon, Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley …

He is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and, coming soon, Forgive No More, and the science-fiction thriller, Double Bind.

Extract from TAKE NO MORE below
Gianacarlo met Emelia on the corner of Via Ricasoli and Via degli Alfani, quiet streets just a short walk away from the Academia. He had not told her why he had suggested that they meet there.

She had been crying, he could see that. ‘You all right?’

‘Not really,’ she said. ‘Why are we meeting here?’

‘There is something I want to show you.’ He took her arm and walked her along Via Ricasoli towards the Academia.

They didn’t make it easy for locals like Emelia to see inside. Most days the museum was besieged by tourists waiting for up to an hour to get in. But Giancarlo had a pass and that meant they could just walk in past the lines. Emelia did not complain but it was clear that she was apprehensive about where he was taking her.

‘Why here? Why here?’ was all she would say. 

Gianacarlo moved them on through the entrance hall and, in a few short minutes, they were standing in the Gallery of Slaves, the long corridor-like space that housed Michelangelo Buenorotti’s unfinished sculptures – partially completed figures trapped in the huge blocks of stone from which it seemed they had failed to escape. They had been donated by Michelangelo to Cosimo Di Medici after they had been turned down by the Vatican for Pope Julius III’s mausoleum.

Emelia stood and stared. Giancarlo did not say a word. She knew immediately why he had brought her here. Yes, he thought that her life was that of little more than that of a modern day slave, no different from the life of those souls trapped in those blocks of stone. She caressed the form of the Awakening Slave, running her hands over the cold, hard stone, feeling how the body shape had been worked out of the hidden structure of the stone, feeling the tool marks left behind as Michelangelo’s chisels struck with such precision all those years ago. And she began to cry.

Gianacarlo was concerned that the gallery staff would have them removed for touching the sculptures but in the event, no-one came.

‘So you brought me here, to show me this, to tell me that my life is no better than this?’ The anger in her voice matched the tears in her eyes. ‘Is this some new way you have found to drive me further down?’

‘It’s not designed to make you feel worse about yourself _______’.

‘Then why bring me here to tell me something that I should already know? Don’t you think that that is humiliating? Nothing to lose, eh?’

‘That’s not what I’m trying to say.’ He tried to hold her but she pulled away.

‘And I am so much the slave that I wouldn’t understand any of this if you hadn’t brought me here?’

‘Look up,’ Giancarlo said. He had managed to place his arm around her and was pointing her towards the statue of David in the circular gallery beyond. ‘What do you see?’

Michelangelo’s statue of David, fully three times life size, rising high above the surrounding tourists, looked back.

‘We trap ourselves. We make slaves of ourselves,’ he whispered. ‘We make our own chains. The powerful look on without a care, inflated by the pride made possible by our entrapment.’

‘And the David looks down on the gallery of slaves, and it’s been like that for as long as anyone can remember,’ she said. ‘Where is the hope in that?’

She looked at him and he could see the anguish in her eyes. ‘And you are no different. You use me and abuse me just like them. Why should I care if the sight of art gives you an excuse to seek to ease your conscience?’

‘It doesn’t have to be like that,’ Giancarlo said. ‘I’d never have known you if we hadn’t both been as we are, here and now.’

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Agatha Christie with added mayhem – The Ratcatcher

by 
Tim Steven
Like many thriller readers and writers, particularly of the
male variety, I grew up on the novels of Alistair Maclean. What appealed to me
about his books wasn’t just the exciting adventure plots, but also how they
nearly always contained a ‘whodunit’ element. The best of them had a disparate
group of people trapped in a life-threatening situation, and you always knew
from early on that one of them was a traitor or a saboteur of some kind; part
of the fun was trying to work out which of them it was. It was like Agatha
Christie with military weapons.

In my début thriller Ratcatcher I wanted to do something
similar. A group of disaffected former soldiers are planning to assassinate the
Russian president at a summit meeting in Estonia on the Baltic Sea. Which of
the three British MI6 agents trying to foil the plot is actually working with
the terrorists? To complicate matters, I made the treacherous MI6 agent one of
the point-of-view characters. To complicate them further still, I included both
women and men among the suspects, so the sex of the traitor was in doubt.
I got round the problem of hiding his/her identity in the
point-of-view scenes by referring to our rogue agent throughout as ‘the
Jacobin’, a nickname allocated by one of the other characters. Trickier was the
task of disguising the person’s sex, and it involved a fair amount of stylistic
and grammatical gymnastics to avoid all reference to ‘he’ or ‘she’. Not that
this has any bearing on the finished product – readers want to enjoy a good
story, not marvel at how cleverly the author has wielded the language,
unless
they’re fans of Martin Amis – but I actually found this quite a stimulating
exercise as a writer.
The other element of mystery in my novel was the method of
assassination chosen by the terrorists. In an odd way, it was like one of the
central puzzles in a country-house murder mystery, except the question wasn’t,
‘How could the murderer possibly have done it when the room was locked from the
inside?’ but ‘How are the terrorists going to kill the president when every
point of access to him has been anticipated and closed?’
This posed a serious
problem. I had an idea how to pull it off, but it took extensive (and
admittedly very haphazard) research online to find out if a particular piece of
technology existed that might serve my purposes. And I did want to stay within
the bounds of plausibility; I wasn’t writing science fiction.
Once I’d discovered that the technology needed by my
terrorists did in fact exist, I needed to find out more about it. And
everywhere I looked, I found the same basic information, but not the in-depth,
down-and-dirty detail I wanted. I asked a couple of ex-soldiers I knew, but it
was beyond them. I joined a few online forums to pick the brains of the
military eggheads there, but had no luck. One person even emailed me with a
friendly warning that I had to be careful about asking questions like this
online, as they might come to the attention of shadowy outfits monitoring the
web for signs of terrorist activity.
In the end, I decided it didn’t matter. If detailed
information about a particular weapons system was so secret that only the
manufacturers and their military sponsors were aware of it, then I could safely
speculate about the nuts and bolts in my book without worrying about looking
sloppy in my research to the average reader. This works as a general principle
for writers of fiction, I think: do your research, but don’t be so terrified
you might get a few details wrong that it takes your focus away from writing a
good story.
Oh, and if anyone reading this is an insider in the armed
forces or intelligence services of a certain Middle Eastern country and decides
to read my novel, I’d welcome your feedback and corrections. With not a little
trepidation, I should add.

The Ratcatcher
Amazon.com
Amazon.UK
Smashwords
Kobo
The police have Internal Affairs departments. 
British Intelligence has John Purkiss, the Ratcatcher.

Purkiss’s job is straightforward. 

Track down agents of the intelligence services who are taking kickbacks, committing crimes and bring them to justice. Straightforward doesn’t mean easy . . . 

After a renegade British former spymaster, Fallon, is sighted in the Baltic city of Tallinn on the eve of a historic summit meeting between the Russian and Estonian presidents, Purkiss is despatched to investigate, and uncovers a conspiracy that threatens to tear the world apart. 

But it’s become personal–Fallon murdered Purkiss’s fiancée. A murder that Purkiss witnessed.
As the countdown to a catastrophic conflict begins, Purkiss must keep his desire for revenge under control.

‘RATCATCHER is both an adrenaline fuelled action adventure novel and a hardboiled mystery story which exposes the world of the spy, in which few motives and actions are purely black or white.’

Author Tim Stevens
Tim Stevens was born in London and grew
up in Johannesburg. He lives in west Essex, England, with his wife and
daughters, and works as a doctor in the National Health Service.
His début novel is the acclaimed thriller
Ratcatcher, and both it and its sequel Delivering Caliban, featuring the return
of John Purkiss, are available in all ebook formats. Severance Kill, a thriller
without John Purkiss, was published in November 2012.
Tim Stevens’s other publications are the
espionage novella Reunion and novelette Snout, and his collections of macabre
short stories, Woodborn: Six Tales Of Unease and Quarry: Six Tales Of Dread.

Tim Stevens’s blog is Dead Drop meet him there!

Present day, alternate world, different rules

by

Alison Morton




Writing crime and thrillers with an
alternate history setting throws up twin challenges – to tell a tense, fast-paced
story with a punchy ending plus get the historical background right.
Historical? Well, yes. Unless a writer knows their history, they can’t alternate
it. Knowledgeable readers out there will be disappointed if a writer makes a
serious blooper when projecting history in a different direction. And disappointing
the reader is a writing crime.

Alternate history stories, whether packed
with every last piece of information about their world or lighter where the
alternative world is used as a setting with bare detail released only when
crucial, need to follow three ‘rules’: nail the point of divergence from the
real time line that has carried on in our world; show how the alternate world
looks and works; and flesh out the consequences of the split.
Writing crime,
mystery and thrillers in this environment ain’t easy, but it’s fun!


Readers can take cops being gentle
or tough, enthusiastic, intellectual or world-weary. Law enforcers are all
genders, classes, races and ages and stand in various places along the personal
morality ruler. But whether corrupt or clean, they must act like a recognisable
form of cop. They catch criminals, arrest and charge them and operate within a
judicial system.

In alternate history, writers draw
on history before the point of divergence as C J Sansom does in Dominion. But he then goes on to stretch
and distort the functions of the Special Branch we know into a Gestapo-like
force and the Special Constabulary into the Auxiliaries similar to the French Second
World War milice.
In my own earliest
story in the series set in the mid-twentieth century in a country founded
sixteen hundred years ago by Roman refugees, the town cops are still called
‘vigiles’ after the ancient Roman ones; then, they caught thieves and robbers,
put out fires and captured runaway slaves. They were supported by the Urban
Cohorts who acted as a heavy-duty anti-riot force and the even the Praetorian
Guard if necessary. The modern vigiles in my earliest alternate story carry out
the functions of a police force that anybody would recognise today. And there
is still a Praetorian Guard, but a very modern one. Both services have to deal
with the criminal mind whether rational, completely disconnected from societal
norms, opportunistic or terrorist.

Something to remember, especially
when writing a series, is to let organisations develop. My vigiles are
disbanded then re-formed as ‘custodes’ in the three later stories following a
catastrophic civil war.
They evolve in a similar way that London Bow Street
runners gave way to Sir Robert Peel’s Bobbies who in turn developed into the
modern Metropolitan Police.

Legal practicalities in alternate
history stories can be quite different to those in our real timeline, but they
must be consistent with history of that society while remaining plausible for
the reader. My alternate world has examining magistrates (echoing ancient Roman
practice) and a twenty-eight day post-arrest, pre-charge detention period which
police services in our timeline would probably love! Questioning is robust, but
there’s no gratuitous physical brutality – things have moved on since ancient
Roman times when
the punishment officer would take a criminal off into the corner and beat him into a pulp. In the 21st century, the approach is more psychological, wearing the detainee down, but the odd slap creeps in.

If writing in any foreign language
environment, whether in this world, off-planet or in a different time, using local
words for police, e.g. ‘Schupo’, ‘carabinieri’ or ‘custodes’ enriches the
setting.
But the writer has to explain in a non-obvious way. An example from my
earliest book:


He handed me his card.
“Kriminalpolizeikommissar Huber – GDKA/OK”. Juno, he was one of the German
Federated States organised crime investigators. We were in the big time here. I
glanced up at him, but he looked even grimmer, if it was possible. I decided to
play safe.
The same applies
for slang, which naturally peppers any thriller with police and military
characters:
‘Dear me,’ he murmured, ‘you
are a cross little scarab, aren’t you?’
I knew he was winding me up
by using scarab, the derogatory word for the custodes. I might deal with a lot
of shit in my job, but I was no dung-beetle.

Getting professional help? Do your research first! If writing a contemporary
police thriller, writers should at least read around the basics; detection and
arrest procedures, forensics, interviewing and case development. For political
or military thrillers, the same applies for structures, chain of command,
intelligence procedures and weaponry. Apart from watching television and movies
and reading other writers’ books, I find Wikipedia is an excellent place to
start if researching a specific force, police service or weapon. After that, most
libraries and bookstores will have real life accounts written by former members
of those services.
For legal background, you could start with the lawyers’
associations and see if they have any public education programmes, similarly
the probation and social services. If you ask reasonably intelligent, specific
questions (make a list!), serving and retired professionals will usually be
delighted to help you, especially if you mention them in the acknowledgements.



If you’re writing in a historical whodunit or
thriller, then as well as the reading, you are probably going to become good
friends with your county archivist and possibly the British Library staff.
As
you have no living professional to consult, you should find at least two preferably
three sources for your information. Law enforcement officers’ roles, powers and
practices varied hugely in the past and if policing existed at all in some past
eras, it was often carried out by the military. You soon get to know your
Tacitus from your Pliny or Caesar!


Crime, mystery and thrillers are
one of the most popular genres in our bookshops, whether online or bricks and
mortar. Whether you have a historical, contemporary or alternative setting,
research and meticulous accuracy are the watchwords for keeping on the right
side of the writing law.
Author Alison Morton

Alison Morton has a
master’s degree in history, has served time as a translator and soldier, and is
a deep-steeped ‘Roman nut’. 



Currently living in France, she writes Roman-themed
alternate history thrillers and her first novel, INCEPTIO, will be published by
SilverWood Books in March 2013.



Watch this space!

Trimming Down: to cut or not to cut?

One Author’s Experience

by 

Chris Lindberg 
Several years ago, I began writing the main
character for what is now my novel Code
of Darkness
: a mysterious loner-turned-vigilante known only by the name
Rage.  I had recently graduated from
college, was living in the suburbs with my parents, and commuting on a train to
downtown Chicago.  I decided the train
would be my “writing studio.” 


I remember coming up with that first line:
“Rage walked into the shadowy bar with one thing in mind: vengeance.”  The line contained a lot of angst, energy,
and foreshadowing for what would be the first chapter of my writing life.  I wrote the chapter in a few days, happy with
the result, and moved on to write other chapters, getting about a hundred pages
into it. 

About a year later I moved downtown, and
suddenly found a lot of other things to do with my time.  Without the long commute to give me a
“studio” in which to write, the book project was tabled for a long time. 

Five years ago, I moved back out to the
suburbs and started a family.  I was back
on the train, so I thought I’d try picking up where I’d left off.  I found the old manuscript and began to put
down new material.  But I decided to go
an entirely new direction.  I scrapped
old characters and storylines, and wove in new ones: a Chicago cop, a rogue NSA
agent, a government conspiracy.  My goal
was to make the story more of a page-turning thriller. 

But through all the changes, the chapters
that centered around Rage stayed mostly intact. 
That first chapter, the one in which I’d first introduced him, and most
importantly that first line, was always going to be my starting point, I’d
decided. 

I finished the novel at a whopping 198,000
words.  Yes – 198,000.  I was advised to get it down to about half
that.  Half my creation was going to be
on the chopping block?  No way was I
going to do that. 

But it quickly became clear that I was
going to have to.  So I began removing
chapters, storylines, characters.  In
some cases I was simply trimming fat.  Two
revisions later, at 123,000 words, I discovered an angle that would probably
cut another ten to fifteen thousand words easily: introduce the three main
characters together in the same chapter, putting them in a perilous situation
that would set the tone for the book. 
The problem with this was, what would this mean for my cherished
original starting point? 

I tried to find another home for it: the
second chapter, maybe later in the story, but nothing worked.  It just didn’t fit into the story
anymore.  And the problem was, the new
first chapter didn’t just cut the word count, it also gave the story a much
better starting point. 

So after much deliberation, I said goodbye
to that original first chapter, and my story became a thousand times better for
it.  It will always have a home in the
first draft of Code of Darkness, and
if enough people are interested, maybe I’ll post it on my blog someday. 

So now you now the rest of the story.  I’d be curious to know what all your experiences
were with your first novel: how long the first draft was, did you cut anything,
and if so how much … and most importantly, what was the biggest or most
difficult change you made? 
Chris Lindberg’s first novel, Code of Darkness, was released in
August.  You can find out more by
visiting www.codeofdarkness.com, or
visiting Facebook and searching on “code of darkness.”



Chris is also offering a FREE eBook version of Code of Darkness to the person with the best, funniest, cutest comment below. Leave your email and he’ll contact you.

To purchase Code of Darkness in paperback
or e-book edition, please check out: http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?fListingClass=0&fSearch=code+of+darkness
Or search “code of darkness” on Amazon or
BN.com. 

You can also email him at chris@codeofdarkness.com
– he’d love to hear from you. More about Chris:
Chris Lindberg was born and raised outside Chicago, Illinois.  After graduating from Northern Illinois University in the mid-1990s, he headed out to the west coast for a couple of years, where he began writing as a casual pastime.  



Some time after returning to Chicago he began attending writers workshops at StoryStudio Chicago, where he wrote two character studies, both of which have since been developed into key characters in Code of Darkness.

Chris now lives outside Chicago with his wife Jenny and their two children, Luke and Emma.  You might catch him working away on his second novel while commuting on his morning train into the city. 




Code of Darkness – When a routine bank robbery takes an unexpected turn, veteran Chicago police officer Larry Parker witnesses a heroic act by a mysterious intervener. But seconds later the Samaritan disappears, leaving Larry only with unanswered questions.


Suddenly, vigilante activity begins popping up all over the city – including several murders. Larry begins to gather the missing pieces of the puzzle, and finds evidence the Samaritan might be tied to them. When he learns the man’s identity – a loner known only by the name Rage – he prepares to move in for the arrest.

But there is much more to Rage than meets the eye: the case has also drawn the attention of a covert Black Ops division within the Pentagon. Their mission: find Rage, while keeping their operation out of the public eye. Seen as knowing too much, Larry suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs as well. After a deadly standoff, Rage is captured, forcing Larry to search for answers while on the run.

The deadly chase leads cross-country to a top-secret military facility in Virginia, where Rage and Larry uncover the greatest danger of all — and only they can stop the unthinkable from happening.

Purchase Links: 


Debut Novel by Scott L. Collins

DAYS’ END
Nysa is an up and coming DNA retrieval expert well known in the scientific community for her advances in the technology used in the field. After being recruited to work on a secret project by an extraordinarily wealthy and mysterious benefactor, Nysa is moved to a hidden lab outside Denver, Colorado. Isolated from the world and forbidden from contact with anyone outside the facility, she is unaware of the strange occurrences that begin to plague the planet. Her fiance Alastair becomes concerned about her welfare and, with the help of his father, begins a frantic search for her. They soon come to realize that their quest is producing more questions than answers, and some very unsettling questions at that.

Only one person, the silent man financing the operation, knows the true nature of the experiment. Although unaware of his true identity, Alastair comes to realize his foe will stop at nothing to see the experiment through to its completion.

Scott Collins was born and raised in Southern California but relocated to the Denver area following the birth of the first of his two sons. Days’ End is his debut novel and he is now working on a series of young adult books. In addition to writing, he enjoys spending his free time (with two kids that’s not much time) running and cycling. Please feel free to visit his website at www.scottlcollins.com.
 


Purchase links: Amazon.com and Smashwords.