Monthly Archives: January 2018

Author Influences with Nick Quantrill

Hello and welcome to another Author Influences. I’m chuffed to be joined today by crime writer and fellow Hullian (is that what you call people from Hull?) Nick Quantrill to talk books.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was a big reader as a child and would make my mum take me to the local library every week. I loved the Famous Five, devoured them all, and couldn’t be more delighted that my six-year-old daughter is discovering them and their brilliance. From there I moved on to Sherlock Holmes, so I guess crime stories are in my blood…

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
There’s a loaded question! I don’t recall massively enjoying English at school, but like a lot of teenage boys, I simply stopped reading for pleasure, unable to find books that appealed to me at the time. Maybe it was the sense of enforced reading and other things in life becoming more interesting, but I guess the reading bug was always there, even if it was dormant for a few years.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I’m proud to say I’m a crime writer and love reading around the genre. The beauty of it is that it’s so varied. One week it might be a Lee Child thriller, the next it might be a psychological novel or a police procedural. The choice is endless. It was always going to be crime when I started to write. I see the reading I did in my twenties as my apprenticeship.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’ve dabbled with writing for children and it was definitely fun. I’d also really like to try to write a non-fiction book. I’ve lived with Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter project for a decade, so have seen the effort that goes into such a thing. It clearly needs to be a subject you’re passionate about, but I keep looking around…

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
In many ways it was Ian Rankin. I love the way he blends together razor sharp views on society with such a strong sense of place. His work sets the bar, in my opinion. Maybe the actual prompt was reading a really bad crime novel and thinking I could do better, that it couldn’t be that hard … turns out it is incredibly hard…

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
I have so many favourites! From the big hitters, Rankin, Child and Connelly are must buys. I’m also a huge fan of Graham Hurley and will buy anything he writes. Lesser well-known, but Ray Banks is a brilliant modern noir writer. He keeps a low profile, but a new book from him is an event in my world.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I think it’s largely as above, but a recently blagged a copy of Eva Dolan’s new one, This Is How It Ends. It’s so sharp and astute. Her eye for what’s happening in the world and what needs exploring in crime fiction is exceptional. On a wider note, Grapes of Wrath and To Kill A Mocking Bird still resonate with their power and anger. Who wouldn’t want to leave a legacy like that behind?

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Ha! I think when you write about a specific, real life location like I do with Hull, you can’t help but be influenced by events and people. I’m fortunate that the city has changed hugely over the last decade – from UK Crap Town to UK City of Culture – so I’ve had plenty of material to go at from regeneration to cigarette smuggling. Follow the money…

A huge thanks for taking part, Nick. I’m also a fan of Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Nick’s latest book The Dead Can’t Talk is out now. Here’s what it’s about…

How far will Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, go to uncover the truth about her sister’s disappearance? Approached by Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she’s previously sent to prison, he claims to have information which will help her. As the trail leads from Hull and the Humber’s desperate and downtrodden to its great and good, an unsolved murder twenty-five years ago places their lives in danger, leaving Stone to decide if she can really trust a man who has his own reasons for helping.

About Nick

Nick Quantrill was born and raised in Hull, an isolated industrial city in East Yorkshire. His crime novels are published by Caffeine Nights, the latest being The Dead Can’t Talk. A prolific short story writer, Nick’s work has appeared in various volumes of The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. Nick is also the co-founder of the Hull Noir festival and regularly writes for the official 2017 UK City of Culture website.



Review – All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

The Blurb

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

My Thoughts

‘“God’s darkened Grace, Chief Black … The clouds pour down their moisture, and abundant showers fall on mankind”’

I adored Chris Whitaker’s debut novel Tall Oaks and had heard so many great things about All The Wicked Girls, his second novel that I was dying to get my hands on it. As is often the case when you have heard nothing but praise for a book, I went in to All The Wicked Girls with a sense of excitement and trepidation.

Set in the small town of Grace in Alabama’s bible belt, All The Wicked Girls centres around a spate of girls going missing in the local area. When much-loved Summer Ryan goes missing her twin sister, Raine, along with two local boys carries out her own investigation as to what has happened to her.

I always have to remind myself that Chris Whitaker is a British author when reading his books as he writes so convincingly as an American. The sense of place and the character’s voices all come across as authentic. From the outset I found myself reading All The Wicked Girls with a southern American drawl. Whitaker tells the story through the perspective of Summer, leading up to the point in which she goes missing, and through the perspective of Raine, the police officers investigating and Noah and Purv, the two boys assisting Raine.

I have to confess that initially I struggled to get into this book partly, I think, due to the amount of characters I had to get my head around and also because I had, perhaps, gone into it expecting it to be a certain way. It therefore took me a little while to settle into it and fully appreciate it. All The Wicked Girls is a slow burner and the characters, imagery and setting are all of as equal importance as the central storyline. If I had to, I’m not sure what genre I would put this book in.

In fitting with the setting, sin and religion play a huge part in this book. Grace is a small town that has had the industry and life sucked out of it. While the various inhabitants of Grace struggle to build a life and survive via a variety of methods that include prostitution, alcohol misuse, and abuse, they continue to attend church and hope for redemption via confessing their sins. As someone who doesn’t subscribe to any religious beliefs and often struggles with, what seems to me, the hypocrisy of it all and yet is fascinated by it, I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.

All The Wicked Girls is a very dark book and the overall feeling of oppression consumes you as you read it. In keeping with the religious angle of the book, Whitaker effectively uses the contrast of light and dark to evoke atmosphere and get across the extreme religious views of original sin and what constitutes as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Dealing with some difficult topics, there were a couple of times in the book when I felt my heart break.

As Whitaker carefully plots the story with cleverly placed red herrings, I did not manage to guess what had happened to Summer Ryan. The actual outcome surprised me, but not in the usual way. I initially felt a bit deflated, however, as the book came to a close I found myself appreciating it. There is so much more to this book than the central storyline and, on reflection, it fitted perfectly. A little cryptic, I know, but you will have to read it yourself to find out what I am talking about!

Brilliantly constructed, wonderfully written and yet heavily oppressive, All The Wicked Girls is a book that weighed heavy on my mind and that I came to appreciate more as I progressed through the book. A totally unique take on ‘the missing girl’ scenario.

Published on 24 August 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre you can buy a copy HERE.

My thanks go to Chris Whitaker and Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for my copy in exchange for my review.

Blog Tour – Stand By Me by S.D. Roberston *Review*

Today I bring you my thoughts on S.D. Robertson’s latest book, Stand By Me, as part of the blog tour. This was a gorgeous book to read in what is, let’s face it, the crappy month of January. So, before I share my thoughts with you here is what Stand By Me is about…

The Blurb

They’ll always have each other…won’t they?
Lisa and Elliot have been best friends ever since the day they met as children. Popular, bright and sporty, Lisa was Elliot’s biggest supporter when the school bullies made his life a misery, and for that, he will always be grateful.
Twenty years later, life has pulled the pair apart and Lisa is struggling. Her marriage is floundering, her teenage kids are being secretive, and she’s so tired she can’t think straight. So when Elliot knocks on the door, looking much better than she remembers, she can’t help but be delighted to see her old friend again.
With Elliot back in their lives, Lisa’s family problems begin to improve – he’s like the fairy godmother she never had. As their bond deepens, she realises how much she’s missed him, and prays that this is one friendship that will last a lifetime. But sometimes, life has other ideas…
A heartwarming story perfect for fans of Keith Stewart and Jojo Moyes, that will leave you with a tear in your eye but hope in your heart.

My Thoughts

Stand By Me is the first novel by S.D. Robertson that I have read although I have been aware of his previous two novels. Now I have ventured into his books I will definitely be reading more by him. Stand By Me is a gorgeous tale of friendship, life and appreciation.

When Lisa’s childhood best friend, Elliot, returns to their home town for a visit after twenty years, she has no idea about the impact he will have on her and her family’s life. Struggling through a difficult time, Lisa’s life is about to change for the better thanks to her old school friend.

The prologue and the first few chapters work effectively to draw you into the book. You know from the start that there is more to what’s going on than meets the eye but you are not sure what that is and you have to keep reading to find out. Luckily, I had a box of tissues from the cold I had over the Christmas break and, oh boy, did I need them at the end of this book!

Roberston takes us between timelines, flitting between the present and the 1990s. There is often a danger with dual timeline books that you will prefer one storyline over the other, however, this wasn’t the case with Stand By Me. The 1990’s side of the book worked effectively to show the friendship between teenage Lisa and Elliot and the reason behind Elliot’s current actions. It also ensures that you feel emotionally invested in the characters. I found myself really caring about the main characters. I also really enjoyed how Robertson captured the early 90s – through the TV programmes, music and lack of technology – and it added a nostalgia that I really enjoyed.

Equally I enjoyed the current storyline and while this isn’t a fast-paced book with thrills, spills and cliffhangers, Stand By Me gets under your skin as spend time with the characters and the issues they are each facing. Robertson gives us a depiction of family life and how it can become difficult following one dreadful event and yet it is optimistic. The appreciation Elliot has for his old friend, Lisa, is moving and will have you thinking about the people and friends that have come (and sometimes gone) through your life.

As it progresses Stand By Me becomes more than just a book about friendship and becomes a book about hope. It will have you mulling over life, death and the universe. How many of us are remembered for the seemingly small acts of kindness we have bestowed on others without thinking about it? In an often cynical and dog-eat-dog world, Stand By Me is a welcome break from the doom and gloom. It is a book to snuggle up with and immerse yourself in which, despite the tears at the end, leaves you feeling uplifted. Wonderful!

Like the sound of Stand By Me? You can grab a copy HERE.

A huge thank you to S.D. Robertson and Sabah at Avon Books for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Catch the rest of the tour…

Author Influences with Denise Deegan

Happy hump day and welcome to another Author Influences. Today I am delighted to be joined by Denise Deegan who tells us all about the books and authors that have inspired her.

What authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was obsessed with The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. Feels like I read it every day. Also loved the Happy Prince.

I was also particularly fond of Irish Fairy Tales by Sinead DeValera. There was a lot of mischief in these stories.

I remember adoring the illustrations in The Water Babies.

I loved all the Ladybird classic fairytales. My favourites were: The Elves and the Shoemaker, Rumplestiltskin and the Magic Porridge Pot.

(I am having the best time checking out all these books on Amazon and remembering all the illustrations.)

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was an honours student but didn’t particularly shine; our teacher never read out my work, for example. I loved all of the stories we read: Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, Charles Dickens’s Hard Times, even Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Macbeth. I didn’t like analyzing the stories, though. For me, it got in the way of a good story. I have the sneakiest feeling that the authors just wanted their work loved not analyzed. But maybe that’s just me.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love books for young people – from teenage novels right through middle-grade and down to picture books. I think some of the best writing falls into these categories.

I also love smart, contemporary stories for adults such as The Rosie Project.

I cannot explain my fascination with WWII books, across genre.

Rather than being influenced by what I read, I would say that I am drawn to read the same kinds of stories that I am drawn to write.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I am smiling here because I’ve written for adults, teenagers and children. I’ve also written both contemporary and historical. If anything, I should stick to one genre! But I write the stories that come.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Consciously, no. Subconsciously, I would say, yes. The trauma of watching Bambi’s mum die must have had a big impact! I continually write about loss.

I also think that The Selfish Giant has left its mark. My stories make people feel – as The Selfish Giant did to me, day after day after day.

And look at all those fairy tales I grew up on…. Not such a surprise, maybe, that I’ve written The Prince and the Pea.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Two great Irish, Young Adult authors: Deirdre Sullivan and Claire Hennessy. I’ve also just stumbled on an American writer of teen fiction called Adam Silvera. I will be reading all of his backlist.

Which books have you read that have made you think ‘Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I wish I had written a picture book called Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson because it’s fun and clever and joyous.

I also wish I’d written The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because I loved those characters so incredibly much.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people?
Just one, Through the Barricades. My historical novel is based on a revolution that happened in 1916 in Ireland called The Easter Rising. It is also based on life in the trenches of WW1 in Gallipoli. I researched this story for two years.

Through the Barricades has changed my experience of the city I live in. Every time I go into Dublin now, the old buildings jump out at me and I imagine rebels and soldiers on the streets and on the buildings. I love Dublin even more now and feel so connected to its past. It’s a wonderful feeling.

A huge thank you for taking part.
A huge thank you for having me, Abbie.

Denise’s current novel, Through the Barricades, is out now. Here is what it’s about:

She was willing to sacrifice everything for her country. He was willing to sacrifice everything for her.

‘Make a difference in the world,’ are the last words Maggie Gilligan’s father ever says to her. She is still carrying them in her heart, years later, when she signs up to become a freedom fighter.

‘Don’t go getting distracted,’ is what Daniel Healy’s father says after seeing Daniel with the same Maggie Gilligan. Daniel is more than distracted. He is intrigued. Never has he met anyone as dismissive, argumentative… as downright infuriating.

The story of Maggie and Daniel is one of friendship, love, war and revolution, of two people who are prepared to sacrifice their lives: Maggie for her country, Daniel for Maggie. Their mutual sacrifices put them on opposite sides of a revolution. Can their love survive?

About Denise

Denise Deegan lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies.
Denise has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was being a checkout girl, although ultimately this experience did inspire a short story…
Denise writes for both adults and teenagers. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House, Hachette and Lake Union Publishing. Writing under the pen name Aimee Alexander, Denise’s contemporary family dramas have become international best-sellers on Kindle.

Denise’s most recent novel, Through the Barricades, won the SCBWI Spark Award 2017.
Her writing for Young Adults includes the much-loved contemporary trilogy, The Butterfly Novels: And By The Way, And For Your Information and And Actually.
Denise writes women’s fiction as Aimee Alexander including Pause to Rewind, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar and All We Have Lost.





Blog Tour – The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye *Excerpt*

I’m delighted to be taking part in The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye blog tour today and I’m excited to be able to share an excerpt with you. There is also a giveaway in which you can win a signed copy!

Firstly, what is The Second Cup about?

The Blurb

Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye’s heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything – including why Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?

As promised here is the excerpt. We’re introducing Abbie – one of the four main characters – and we catch up with her while she’s sitting in A&E waiting to find out how her friend Beth is after a suspected overdose.

So how does this praying thing work? I’m starting to wish I’d paid more attention when Beth went on one of her rants about her Catholic upbringing, as it would have put me in good stead for knowing what to do right now.

My closest friend has downed a bottle of Paracetamol and is lying the other side of a locked door that requires a keypad access code. I’ve been the other side of the keypad and it is no easier – although at least you have NHS staff on your side when you’re that side.

I have positioned myself on the row of plastic seats along the far wall so I can watch the comings and goings through said door without having to strain my neck muscles. But so far every raised chin has been greeted with nothing – no glance in my direction, no calling out “Beth Adam’s friend” or “Abbie? Abbie Tomlinson?” repeating your first name as part of some sort of ritual. I listen to the strange names being called out, finding myself adding a second surname to the announcements to make them even.

“Emily? Emily Paterson?”


“Robert? Robert Samuels?”


“Gobinda? Gobinda Mudri?”


I only catch myself doing it when I realise I’m saying them out loud and the person two seats away shifts further along the row, giving me a worried glance as they go. I want to scream “I’m not mental” at them, but that would make me seem the opposite. And I would also feel very guilty at the inference that there was something wrong with being mental when I’m sitting here waiting for the doctors to save my friend from an overdose.

And I’m sure my little habits and rituals are perfectly normal for someone who’s under as much stress as I am at work.

I just like things to be even. To be balanced.

I look up at the clock. I’ve not been here a full half-hour yet and yet I feel as if a day’s worth of energy has been drained out of me. I’m wondering if the clock is playing tricks on me, so I decide to stare at it and count along with the second hand – this time in my head so the lady a few seats down doesn’t feel she needs to move even further away. The full 60 seconds pass, as they should.

“Okay God,” I think, “If I can hold my breath and sit completely still for a full 60 seconds, you have to make Beth live.”

I wait until the second hand is at 12 and take a deep breath in – probably loud enough to scare the timid lady on my row, but I can’t look to check because sitting still is part of the pact. Time feels like it’s slowing down as the hand gets to 11. I watch – 56, 57, 58, 59, 60 – and then breathe out.

I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything worthy of saving a life. Maybe that was just a test pact and now I have to do another one. This might be how prayers work; why you have to say so many of them while you count rosary beads. You start off with a simple one and then build up to more complicated and challenging ones.

I shift on my plastic seat, massaging the ridges the edge has left mid-thigh on both legs. I take a few sips from the now-cold cup of coffee on the table ledge next to me. The temperature makes it no more or less drinkable as it was disgusting from the first mouthful, my brain immediately forgetting just how undrinkable it is, so each sip is a brand new shock to my taste buds. My brain is too busy willing Beth to stay alive to process information like “stop drinking because it tastes terrible”.

I’ve stretched and taken on more fluids, so I’m ready for my next challenge. Four is my lucky number. So maybe I need to hunt out for things in fours? Four is like your engine number, you breath in and out; your heart beats up and down. A four-stroke engine. It’s this four that powers you, so maybe if I find lots of fours it will be a sign that Beth is going to make it.

Scanning the room I notice four people with touchscreen phones out, ignoring the faded posters rather forlornly telling people to turn their phones off. I’m wondering if they’re all iPhones or Samsung, but I might be pushing my luck, so I check for other fours. There are four girls with ponytails. There are four noticeboards. There are four internal doors of the waiting room – if you don’t count the toilets.

There are four people with rucksack style bags. No, there are five, but one is close to the door and he’s put his bag on the floor – while the others are still wearing theirs. And he’s by the door, organising the content of his bag. I have to resist reaching out and kicking him with my leg to get him to go. C’mon. C’mon. And he’s gone. I can breathe again, even though I didn’t realise I was holding my breath. I hope it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t for 60 seconds. Maybe fours don’t matter after all, I tell myself.

We’re now a four – me, Beth, Olivia and Faye – but I preferred us more as a three.

Before Faye.

If that has whet your appetite for more you can purchase a copy of The Second Cup HERE.


There are three signed copies up for grabs and it is open internationally:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975, to English Catholic parents. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie’s childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing… until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression.
It’s a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision.
Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor’s scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel – about family, friendships and mental health.
Twitter –

Catch the rest of the tour


Blog Tour – Hydra by Matt Wesolowski *Review*

I am so pleased it is finally my turn on the Hydra blog tour as I have been dying to shout about this book for what feels like an eternity. The much anticipated follow up to Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski is finally published this month and it’s fair to say that I liked it just a tad! So, here is what Hydra is about and my thoughts on it.


The Blurb

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will
speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.
King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as diminished as her legal team made out.
As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…

Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.

My Thoughts

Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories was my book of 2017 and if I thought it was difficult to write a review to do Six Stories justice I once again have my work cut out reviewing Hydra. Quite simply, Hydra is to die for!

In 2014 Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and sister to death with a hammer and following her trial she has been incarcerated in a medium-secure mental health hospital. Once again, we find ourselves in the safe hands of Scott King, the creator of the Six Stories podcasts, as he sets out to explore if the diminished responsibility ruling that Arla’s defence team argued holds up. Through the interviewing of five witnesses and Arla herself, King attempts to unravel the events that resulted in the ‘Macleod Massacre’. I was instantly attracted to the premise of Hydra as it sparked off childhood memories of me reading about Lizzie Borden, the ’40 whacks’ poem about her and the kind of morbid fascination I had about the case. Wesolowski taps into the consciousness of the majority of people who seek to understand why some people go on to commit such horrific acts, making his books immediately interesting and compelling.

Demonstrating that he has his finger firmly on the button of what is happening in today’s society, Wesolowski draws on mental health, social media and the media to ensure that Hydra is a bang up to date thriller. It has a considered intelligence about it as he draws on such as issues as media sensationalism, the search for ‘blame’ in order to rationalise and explain the unexplainable – often in the wrong areas, think Marilyn Manson in Columbine and Child’s Play in the Bulger case – and the pervading nature of the internet in our lives. With social media Wesolowski immediately draws on one of my fears and coupled with the black-eyed children that play a part in the book, he had me looking over my shoulder as I read. Hydra is creepy as hell … and I’m not one who gets scared easily!

In terms of the prose, Wesolowski again skilfully ensures that the unique character of each voice shines through. Hydra is every inch as beautifully written as its predecessor, Six Stories, demonstrating that Wesolwski is no one trick pony but, indeed, a formidable talent. Hydra is every inch as fresh and current as his debut which will delight all those readers who have eagerly anticipated this book. Hydra literally pulses with atmosphere as you wind your way through the stories to its startling conclusion. Could I have possibly already found my favourite book of 2018?

Intelligent, thoughtful and damn scary, read Hydra with the big light on and not before bedtime! Absolutely bloody brilliant!

Published on 15 January 2018 by Orenda Books you can grab your copy HERE.

A huge thank you to Matt Wesolowski, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my advance copy of Hydra and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

About the Author

Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio…

Follow the rest of the tour…


Author Influences with Linda Huber

Happy hump day, I’m back with another Author Influences this week with the lovely Linda Huber.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I started with Enid Blyton’s Noddy, then moved on to The Famous Five, and then her school stories… to The Chalet School books… on to Agatha Christie – and that was me hooked on crime fiction!

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved English. I wasn’t especially brilliant at it, but I was usually in the top half of the class. We used to get home readers, and this was great because they were often books I wouldn’t otherwise have found.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I mostly read crime fiction – I just love psychological suspense. As a girl, I discovered Mary Higgins Clark and her books, and I would snap them up as soon as they came on the market. Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine was another. Nowadays there are so many great books out there I couldn’t begin to list my favourites of the past couple of years.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I dabble a little in romance, too. Sometimes it just does your soul good to get away from the blood and guts and grim reality of crime fiction… My first published writing was romantic short stories for womens’ mags. But the suspense/thriller writing definitely takes precedence!

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I started writing novels around the turn of the century, I can’t remember exactly when. It was more of a gradual process; I’d had some success with the short stories, and I loved Mary Higgins Clark and her books, and I suppose I just thought – why not try? So I did.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Val McDermid’s Tony Hill series, and Elizabeth George and her Lynley. And I’ve made so many crime fiction-writing friends since 2013 when my first book was published, and I always get their books too. Jane Isaac, Bea Davenport, Alison Gray – and now I have a whole lot more at Bloodhound Books! It’s lovely.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes comes to mind. It’s an old one; it was a school reader, and the story is told as seen by eleven-year-old Emily. Hughes gets right into the child’s point of view; it’s amazing writing. And the ending is chilling.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not real people, but real stories. I had the idea for Baby Dear when I saw a news story about a woman who had lost her own baby, and then abducted another woman’s child from the maternity hospital. The idea for The Cold Cold Sea came when I was researching my family tree, and discovered a child in my extended family had drowned in the 1940s. I’d known nothing about her.

A huge thank you Linda for taking part.

Linda’s latest book Baby Dear is out now. Here is what it’s about…


Caro and Jeff Horne seem to have it all until they learn that Jeff is infertile. Caro married Jeff because her biggest wish was to be a mother, and he had the means to give their children a better life than she’d had. Jeff, who is besotted with Caro, is terrified he will lose her now they can’t have a baby.
Across town, Sharon is eight months pregnant and unsure if she really wants to be a mother. Soon her world will collide with Jeff’s. He wants to keep Caro happy and decides that getting a baby is the only way.
Then Caro is accidently drawn into an underworld of drugs…
Meanwhile, Jeff is increasingly desperate to find a baby – but what lengths is he prepared to go to?
Is Sharon in danger, and will Caro ever have the family she’s always dreamed of?

About Linda

Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle.
Her writing career began in the nineties, when she had over fifty feel-good short stories published in women’s magazines. Several years later, she discovered the love of her writing life – psychological suspense fiction. Her first novel was published in 2013, and was followed by five others. She has also published a charity collection of feel-good short stories.

Amazon Author Page:


Review – The Hoarder by Jess Kidd

The Blurb

Maud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic – is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent Cathal Flood. Yet despite her best efforts, Maud is drawn into the mysteries concealed in his filthy, once-grand home. She realises that something is changing: Cathal, and the junk-filled rooms, are opening up to her.
With only her agoraphobic landlady and a troop of sarcastic ghostly saints to help, Maud must uncover what lies beneath Cathal’s decades-old hostility, and the strange activities of the house itself. And if someone has hidden a secret there, how far will they go to ensure it remains buried?

My Thoughts

The Hoarder is the second novel by Jess Kidd and it had a lot to live up to as I completely fell in love with Kidd’s debut novel, Himself. Kidd has certainly proved herself as an author we can expect great things from as The Hoarder is wonderful.

Maud Drennan is a home carer who has been assigned the difficult Cathal Flood as her client. His once-grand home, Bridlemere, is stuffed to the rafters with junk and as Maud attempts to clear some of it she finds herself embroiled in a mystery.

The characters who make up The Hoarder are brimming with personality. Cathal Flood, despite being a grumpy so-and-so, has a charm that ensured I adored him and wanted a positive outcome for him. Another favourite character is Maud’s agoraphobic landlady and neighbour Renata. Kidd’s skill at developing offbeat characters who get straight to your heart is second to none. The peripheral characters of the saints who ‘haunt’ Maud are a welcome addition, serving to add a sardonic humour with their sarcastic observations. You will never think of St Valentine in the same way again!

This quirkiness is one of the things that sets Kidd’s books apart from anything else you are likely to read. While The Hoarder is at heart a mystery, it is quite unlike any other. It has all the elements needed to make it a gripping mystery but also biting Irish humour and observations and a supernatural twist. It is like a modern day gothic novel with unearthly going-ons in a house that willingly gives up its secrets to Maud.

The prose throughout The Hoarder is beautiful. Kidd certainly has a way with words and her descriptions are stunning, ensuring that The Hoarder is literally brimming with atmosphere. All of the senses are used to build an evocative picture.

A first-rate follow up to her debut novel, The Hoarder was everything I expected from Jess Kidd. If you haven’t yet read anything by this author ensure you do now! The Hoarder is exquisite, sublimely written and a great story.

The Hoarder is published on 1st February 2018 by Canongate Books. You can pre-order a copy HERE.

A huge thank you to Jess Kidd, Sue at Conville and Walsh and Canongate Books for the advance copy of The Hoarder in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Isolation Junction by Jennifer Gilmour *Guest Post*

I’m delighted to be helping Jennifer Gilmour with the promotion of her book, Isolation Junction, today. The fictional account of Rose, a young woman trapped in an abusive relationship, Jennifer has drawn on her personal experiences to write this book. She hopes that it will help others to recognise if they are in an unhealthy relationship and to enable them to see that they can break free from it.

Domestic abuse is a subject close to my heart and I am always pleased to support Jennifer in the work she does to raise awareness. For a limited time Jennifer has made Isolation Junction free on Kindle. Today is the last day it is up for grabs so grab it while you can. 

I will now hand over to Jennifer to explain why she has decided to give Isolation Junction away for free.

My name is Jennifer Gilmour and I am a survivor of domestic abuse, I have pub-lished two books both with a focus on raising awareness about domestic abuse at their core. Whilst both aim to raise this awareness one is written as a work of fiction whilst the other is a compilation of survivor stories and therefore non-fiction. Both work in different ways to educate and raise awareness of this insidious and unac-ceptable behaviour.

Over Christmas, incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police rise. Assault and domestic murders increase 25% during the festive period with a third of them been on Christmas Day itself. Bombarded with images of the perfect nuclear family gathered around the gold baubles of a Christmas tree, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is a time of coercion, punishment and violence for many women* and men.

Now I know it isn’t Christmas anymore but January can be just as bad because all those credit card bills come in alongside your usual direct debits. There is even a day in January called Blue Monday and this year it’s on the 15th. The date is generally reported as falling on the third Monday in January, but also on the second or fourth Monday, or the Monday of the last full week of January.
The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.
Can you imagine this formula and applying it to an abusive relationship?

For 5 days my debut novel Isolation Junction is going to be FREE on Amazon Kindle, this is the first time ever to happen. It’s the week before Blue Monday, I wonder if those reading will be inspired to take action?

I ask you all to share the link and break the silence surrounding domestic abuse.

UK link:
US link:


A huge thank you to Jennifer for doing everything she can to raise awareness about this issue. 



Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

You can read my review HERE.

About the author:

Born in the north-east, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write her first novel Isolation Junction. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.

Since the publication of her debut novel, Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recovery programme for those who have been in abusive relationships.

Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that Clipped Wings give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.

Author Influences with Joanne Griffiths

I am very pleased to be back with Author Influences and welcome Joanne Griffiths as the first author of 2018 to take part. 

Which authors / books did you like to read as a child?
One of my favourite books, when I was around 10 or 11 was Dodie Smith’s 101 Dalmations. I loved this book and can remember reading it several times.

By the time I was a teenager, I had moved on to Agatha Christie and it was after this that I became hooked on crime fiction more than the happily ever after innocence of childhood stories!

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I don’t really have happy memories of school. I have always liked English and was in top set but my school years were difficult ones and I didn’t really apply myself as well as I might have done. That said, the one teacher who I can say helped me focus leading up to exams, was an English teacher and she encouraged me to do well in that subject.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love crime fiction and have been an avid reader of this genre for many years now so it’s not surprising really, that my own genre of writing is also crime fiction.

I do enjoy different genres and feel-good stories, a bit of romance, or a nice easy read can be found amongst my collection of books but I have to say that crime fiction outnumbers them.

I feel more comfortable writing a whodunnit and although I have tried my hand at romance, the temptation to throw a murder or two into the mix, was very tempting.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I would choose a happily ever after feel good story. Perhaps someone overcoming a difficult situation or succeeding in the face of adversity. Sometimes, I think we all need those feel-good moments and taking inspiration from a book of that nature can allow the reader to leave their own troubles behind, at least for a while.

Did any authors work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who and why?
Agatha Christie’s Sleeping Murder was the first of her books to capture my attention and I loved how an unassuming little old lady could actually go on to solve something so serious as murder. The way Christie took her readers on a journey to solving the crime stuck with me and a desire to become a crime writer stemmed from there.

There have been several writers since then; the late Colin Dexter, Lynda La Plante, Ian Rankin and John Grisham amongst others, who I would say encouraged me to put pen to paper.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
There are authors whose books I like to read but I don’t automatically go out and buy the new release as soon as it’s published. I am more likely to buy it if I have enjoyed a previous novel but I also like reading books from authors I have never heard of before but have been recommended or received a good review.

Which books have you read that have made you think ‘Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
There are several detective series that I have read and wished that I could have written it. Apart from Agatha Christie’s Marple or Poirot, there’s Ian Rankin’s Rebus or Ruth Rendell’s Wexford and Colin Dexter’s Morse.

I would love to write a detective series, developing his character (I would choose a male detective) throughout the books so that the reader can identify with him, live through his ups and downs as he solves each case. I think it takes a lot of skill to carry the same detective through several novels.

Have any of your plots / characters been influenced by real life events / people?
I do think that lots of real life situations can give you material for your writing. For example, something that someone said in conversation once, gave me a broad idea for my second novel. Developing the characters and story line all stemmed from that single remark.

As far as characters go, they are all fictitious but probably share certain mannerisms or characteristics with people I might have come across at some point. I wouldn’t say x character is y person but they certainly show some similarities.

Thank you for taking part, Joanne. 

Joanne’s debut novel A Deadly Game is out now. Here’s what it’s about:

A chilling serial killer thriller
Kate Palmer, an undergraduate student, discovers that she is pregnant and makes the decision to drop out of university. However, on the evening before she returns home, her body is discovered in Aston park. She is the first victim of several murders that will rock the city of Birmingham.
DS James “Jim” Wardell, who has his own issues to contend with, is given the case.
When Eddie Carter, a popular talk show host on Birmingham’s radio station, is contacted by someone claiming to be the killer, it is the start of a cat and mouse game between a deranged killer and the police.

After a second body is discovered the pressure mounts on the police to capture the person responsible.
Who is killing these women and why?
Can Jim apprehend the twisted killer before more innocent women are murdered?

About Joanne

I had often dreamed about becoming a writer and started writing my first novel some 25 years ago. I never seemed to have the time to commit to it though as everyday life would get in the way.

It was only after a serious health issue in 2014, that I began to focus on what I wanted to achieve in life and the desire to become a writer featured highly again.

Dusting off my manuscript, I finally finished writing A Deadly Game (published by Bloodhound books on 20/06/2017) and I am now working on my second novel, An Easy Target.

If I’m not writing, I enjoy reading and always have a book on the go. I also enjoy watching many of the police / detective / thriller series on television, and often find myself trying to work out the plot before the programme’s conclusion.