Guest Post by Ross Greenwood – Author of Lazy Blood

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I’m extremely pleased to introduce fellow local author to me, Ross Greenwood. Ross is the author of his recently released debut novel Lazy Blood.

Are your friends to die for?

Did you make friends at school?
Are they still your friends now?
Do you trust them?
Will is on his way to prison. His life is a mess, but who is to blame?

Here, Ross talks about what inspired him to write and he also gives us a brief idea of what to expect from his second upcoming novel The Boy Inside.

 

‘Lazy Blood.’

By Ross Greenwood

I never wanted to go to prison. It was certainly not one of my choices at school when asked. Doctor, postman maybe, radiographer (obviously later on), never prison. I had passed my A-levels but was so unfocussed I just decided to get a job. As the years went by I seem to find myself working in a variety of call centres. First, as a phone jockey and then as a manager. Good money, as I was good at it, but hardly inspiring stuff. I found myself never staying in one job for long. Even now, at 42, the last job at 4 years’ service is over twice as long as anything I had achieved before.

I found myself travelling to get my thrills. The usual holidays when I was young, 18-30 etc., European capitals, then later 3 months in Asia and a year in Australia. More obscure capitals followed, living in Spain and then a month in Indonesia and 3 months in South America, before unexpectedly (how did that happen) children arrived. It was at that point, as I was trying buy-to-let and being a landlord, that the need to write a book was becoming very difficult to put aside. I had met such a range of people and had participated in so many amusing, mad events that I hoped I had a book people would be interested in.

I began what eventually became Lazy Blood. Life gets in the way and soon the need to get a job outweighed the urge to finish the book. I was stuck anyway. I had managed to mould many different attributes of hundreds of different people into four likeable and flawed characters, but I was struggling for a start and a beginning; the bite that would make the book interesting and exciting.

I wanted a career change though. No more insurance companies and depressing Mondays, I wanted something exciting. I was going to get it. I actually wanted to join the Police but, as you can imagine, my CV wasn’t going to stand any kind of investigation. The prison service wasn’t so fussy. As government cuts bite it is even less so now, the staff are leaving in droves.

After the training, how I got through those first few weeks I will never know. Only a commitment to myself to finish what I started got me through that period. HMP Peterborough is a B-category local jail. The hardest type to work in. We were constantly understaffed, sometimes running 80 man wings on your own for hours at a time. It is a revolving door for some, the drug addicts and shoplifters, but it takes all the prisoners from Cambridge, Huntingdon and Peterborough Crown and Magistrates Courts.

So there were murderers, rapists and psychopaths merged in with dangerous drivers, embezzlers and drug dealers. All of them meshed together in a crazy world of violence, depression, suicide, anxiety, drug abuse, self-harm and disorganisation that they weren’t allowed to escape from.

Obviously after a little while I had more ideas and stories than I could ever imagine. I was desperate to get back to writing my book. All the time the book was percolating and composting in my head. I think that was one of my coping mechanisms. When they wanted volunteers to put riot gear on and break up a barricade, I would be there, sometimes just for the experience. When you work in that environment, you certainly know you are alive. Then another child came along and the book went back on the shelf.

By that time I had got to grips with the job. I found consistency, professionalism and politeness with a certain amount of apathy was generally the best way to get the job done. Aggression and arguing generally led to assaults and rage. The prisoners get to know you too. They know which officers will help them and they are also fully aware what a tough job it is.

Another year went by and I took child friendly hours and started to work in Resettlement. The idea behind it was that you assisted them when they arrived in prison. For example, ringing the bank for them, finishing tenancies and then when it was time to leave you set about making sure people had somewhere to go. Unfortunately that wasn’t always achievable.

This job still had its difficulties as some people were almost impossible to help. There are many charities out there and Peterborough Council do a brilliant job in housing people, but If you have been made to sign the sex offenders register or, worse, are an arsonist, then it is very hard to find somewhere for you to live as there is a duty of care to existing residents.

I got to chat to a lot of people and got much more material! I still wanted to finish my book and my boy gave me the opportunity. He was waking for his four a.m. feed and with a sense of determination that this was my time, I completed it in the early morning hours. Lazy Blood is available on amazon and has been well received. Just £1.99 until the 1st May.

Prison is a crazy place, not for the faint hearted. It is an unnatural environment but not what people expect. Prison for most is Bad Girls, Shawshank, Prison Break and Porridge. A British jail is none of these things. Most people there are not ‘bad’ people. Sure there are career criminals and obviously these figure strongly in the book too. That’s why we love crime books, but many have just done something stupid. Perhaps used their phone whilst driving and killed someone. Silly things with terrible consequences. Got involved with drugs and had to steal to service their habit. Maybe borrowed a few quid from work and things have got out of hand, or had a few beers and got in a fight. These things could happen to most of us. This is their story too. The list is endless and so are the ideas for characters.

I finally left the job after nearly four years to get my first book published and take a year out to do some more writing. I will look back fondly on my time there though. By far and away it was the worst job I ever had, but it was also the best job. I worked with some amazing people as well. The money wasn’t great, but the commitment had to be. I’m nearly six foot tall, mature (ish) and fourteen stone so I walked on those wings armed with physical presence and life experience. You had to bow your head to small school leavers on their first day in the job, whose nervous hands fumbled with confusing keys, as they entered the abyss.

What I wanted to focus on for my second book, ‘The Boy Inside,’ was one of the more depressing and sad parts of prison society. The young. Before you judge these boys in hoodies you should really have walked a mile in their shoes. I know that is a little cliché but many of them never stood a chance. Parents who were drug dealers for example, or no parents at all.

Once you are in the police and prison system, especially as a juvenile, it is hard to get out. The people in it often do not have the skills, knowledge or finances to climb out of the hole they are in. They become careless, chaotic and have no expectation of any kind of future. They are a burden to society and there seems to be little appetite to deal with these issues. There are many who work tirelessly with young people and try to get them back on track, often without being paid, but it is hard work and often unsuccessful.

Ironically to paraphrase The Shawshank Redemption, a life without hope is a terrible thing. Many of these issues are brought up in ‘Lazy Blood’ and the ‘The Boy Inside,’ but they are also books about persistence, determination and luck. In some ways they are also modern love stories. I hope to change your perception of those who end up in prison, but after reading these novels there is one thing I can be sure of. You will never want to go there yourself.

Lazy Blood is out at amazon now, read the reviews and you decide.

www.rossgreenwoodauthor.com

After you have finished the book you can visit the website and see if you can match the locations in the story to those on the site. Some of the names have been changed for obvious reasons. All the best, Ross.

 

Thank you for such an interesting post Ross. If you want to connect with Ross on social media you can find him on Facebook and on Twitter @greenwoodross

 

ross

 

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Goodnight Sweet Prince

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What is it with 2016 being the year to take some of our much loved and multi-talented celebrities? On Wednesday it was the wonderfully witty Victoria Wood, prior to that it was the great David Bowie and the wonderful Alan Rickman, not to mention the very talented Terry Wogan and hilariously funny Ronnie Corbett, to name but a few. And then of course, yesterday, we were informed of the death of the iconic musician Prince.

Prince’s UK publicist said “It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57.”

Prince was allegedly a great believer in Chem Trails – perhaps he was onto something or perhaps 2016 is just proving to be a crappy year for the loss of some great and influential people.

I loved Prince. His music played a huge part in my formative years. I often remember, with great fondness, slow dancing to Purple Rain, along with the likes of George Michael’s Careless Whisper and Spandau Ballet’s True, at the end of school and college disco’s. And 1999 – what an amazing song. When I listened to that song, I was young, inexperienced about life and 1999 was a lifetime away. I was pretty convinced when that particular year did come around, my angst ridden years would be long gone and the world, and my place in it, would make perfect sense. How naive was I?

It wasn’t just Prince’s music that I loved though, a multi-instrumentalist, actor and record producer, he was also flamboyant and eclectic. Like David Bowie, he dared to be different, which was a nod to those of us that didn’t quite ‘fit in’ that it was actually ok to march to the tune of your own drum.

Prince produced and released many albums over the course of his career, some of the notable releases were:

  1. For You. 1978. Prince’s debut album, released when he was 19.
  2. 1979. Included his first signature tune, “I Wanna Be Your Lover.”
  3. Dirty Mind. 1980. Featuring Prince in a thong on the cover, the record helped cement the singer’s ascendency to pop superstardom.
  4. 1982. The album’s title track would become an anthem for millennium parties the world over.
  5. Purple Rain. 1984. The soundtrack album to a movie of the same name, the record would later be recognized as one of the greatest of all time.
  6. 1986. Featuring arguably his most-recognized song ever, “Kiss.”
  7. Sign o’ the Times. 1987. A defining soundtrack to the 1980s, Prince demonstrated his musical scope with a swirling kaleidoscope of sounds.
  8. 1988. Prince sparked controversy by posing nude on the cover of the album, which includes the classic “Alphabet St.”
  9. 2006. Prince’s 31st studio album, debuting at No.1, marked a major comeback and his first album to hit the top spot since “Batman” in 1989.
  10. 2014. Featuring his backing group 3rdeyegirl, the record showcased Prince’s continued hunger to experiment, innovate and entertain.

(This list was copied from The Telegraph article by Raziye Akkoc and David Lawler which you can read here)

I listened to Purple Rain as I lay in bed last night and was amazed at how all the old places and experiences of my youth, played out across my thoughts like grainy old film footage.

Goodnight sweet Prince and thank you for the music.

I leave you with the opening verse from the aptly titled Freedom, a song from the 1999 album.

Don’t sleep, ’til sunrise, listen to the falling rain
Don’t worry, ’bout tomorrow, don’t worry ’bout your pain
Don’t cry, unless you’re happy, don’t smile unless you’re blue
Never let that lonely monster take control of you

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An interview with Sonya on A Lover Of Books

Read my recent interview with the lovely Sonya on her Book Blog A Lover Of Books.

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Eva Jordan is having her book, ‘183 Times A Year’ published in paperback soon.  I asked her a few questions.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘183 Times A Year’ please? 

183 TIMES A YEAR is a humorous observation of contemporary family life and the story unfolds through two narratives. Lizzie—exasperated Mother of Cassie, Connor and Stepdaughter Maisy—is the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself—out loud. 16-year-old Cassie—the Facebook-Tweeting, Selfie-Taking, Music and Mobile Phone obsessed teen—hates everything about her life. She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her ‘undivorced’ parents—and Joe, of course. However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack throws the whole household into disarray. Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery—accepting some less than flattering home truths along the way. Although tragic at times this is an amusing exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and ultimately friendship. A poignant, heartfelt look at the complex and diverse relationship between a Mother and daughter set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.

 

How long did it take you to write?

With rewrites and waiting for feedback, I suppose it took somewhere between twelve to eighteen months.

 

Is it a book that both teenagers and women would enjoy? 

Yes, I believe it is. I’ve had a lot of good feedback and some brilliant reviews from an eclectic group of readers. Clearly some of these have included some exasperated mothers (one reviewer said she could have sworn I had surveillance cameras at her home, so similar were some of the mother/daughter conversations) however I’ve also had some great feedback from younger readers and those without children.

 

Are there any similarities between you and the characters?

All my characters are fictional but like most writers I’ve drawn on people and characters I know.

 

Would you like to see this book made into a film or TV drama? 

Definitely! Some reviewers have said they could see it as a film or TV series. After I’d finished writing my novel I did start to imagine certain actors for certain roles. I’d love Simon Pegg to play Simon, Nick Frost would be great as Andy, Julie Walters would make a brilliant Nan and Ray Winstone would be wonderful as Grandad. I’m still thinking about the others.

 

Are you planning to write anymore books?

I am writing the sequel to this book at the moment. It starts three years on from the end of this book and there’s lots going on! I’ve also written ideas for stories for completely different genres.

 

Did you always want to be a writer?

It sounds like a cliché but yes, I have always wanted to be a writer. However, I don’t think I was ready to do so until now. Life experiences have made me mature as a person and I didn’t embark on my English/History degree until I was in my late thirties (when I was newly divorced, bringing up two small children and working – I like to make things easy on myself!). Studying for a degree helped give me the confidence and some of the tools needed to be a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you need a degree to be a writer, I just believe I learned a lot that ultimately helped me.

 

Do you jot down ideas as soon as they come to mind?

Yes, or I tap them into my phone or record voice messages to remind me.

 

Are you a people watcher? 

Absolutely – always have been. My partner, Steve and I, will often make up stories about some of the people we watch. We’ll give them names, jobs and characteristics based on what they appear to be doing – or not doing!

 

Who are your favourite authors? 

Oh wow! How long have you got? That list is endless and there is so much I haven’t read it almost seems unfair to say I have favourites. I don’t have a favourite or preferred genre so my reading is really eclectic. In no particular order the following are some of my favourite authors, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Louisa May Alcott, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad, J.R.R Tolkien, Phillip K. Dick, Alan Sillitoe, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Angela Carter, Stephen King, Fay Weldon, J.K. Rowling, Helen Fielding, Anna McPartlin, Louise Doughty, Jodi Picoult, Gillian Flynn and tons more!

 

If you could only keep three books which would they be?

No! Only three? That really is impossible. I really don’t think I can answer this. I’ll say (if I have to!) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, anything by Charles Dickens and Bridget Jones’s Diary.

 

Describe your life at present in five words.

Family. Love. Writing the dream!

 

About Eva Jordan

I am a short story writer and author of the debut novel 183 TIMES A YEAR. I live in a small town in Cambridgeshire with my fiancé and ours is a blended family. Between us we share one cat and four children, all of whom are a constant source of inspiration! My career has been varied, including working in a Women’s Refuge and more recently at the city library. However, storytelling through the art of writing is my true passion.

As well as writing, I love music and film and of course I love to read, both fiction and non-fiction. Many writers have inspired me from Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Joseph Conrad to Angela Carter, Sue Townsend, Stephen King—and recently Anna McPartlin, Gillian Flynn and Louise Doughty. I enjoy stories that force the reader to observe the daily interactions of people with one another set against the social complexities of everyday life, be that through crime, love or comedy.

It is the women in my life, including my mother, daughters and good friends that have inspired me to write my debut novel. A modern day exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and friendship set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.

 

Links

‘183 Times A Year is available in eBook from:-

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015G3FIZM

Amazon US – http://amzn.com/B015G3FIZM

 

Urbane Publications – https://t.co/UTxfI9RsYT

Website – http://www.EvaJordanWriter.com

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/EvaJordanWriter/

Twiiter – @evajordanwriter

Guest Post by Pete Adams – Author of A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza

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I’m extremely pleased to introduce fellow Urbane published author Pete Adams as my guest author today. Pete is the author of A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza (released by Urbane Publications in June 2015), the third novel in the Kind Hearts and Martinets trilogy with the fourth in the series, Ghost and Ragman Roll, due for release on the 1st November 2016. Although a crime thriller, A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza is also infused with Pete’s wicked sense of humour as you can see from the following hilarious book description;

DCI Jack Austin – Jane to his friends and the not so friendly – knew he shouldn’t have come in to work. Following a terrorist bomb, an incident with a tutu and a hangover that would fell an elephant, investigating dead dogs, dodging bullets and being pulled sopping wet from a naval harbour is not conducive to a sunny disposition. But when the Head of Armed Forces and a City Banker are brutally murdered what is a dashing DCI to do? FORCE, a powerful Star Chamber, is under threat and Jack will need to go deep undercover to get to the bottom of the sinister plot. As revelations and rocket attacks threaten to turn his world upside down (and ruin his best pair of trousers), Jack will need courage, skill and a huge dose of lady luck if he is to bring the perpetrators of a nefarious plot that goes all the way to the Prime Minister’s office to justice. As the trail leads to a showdown at the Albert Hall, Jack Austin, quintessential jumped up barrow boy and Portsmouth’s very own self-styled national icon, must fight to save his reputation, the country, and the lives of those who matter most. And work out just what a dead dog has to do with it allIt is a fine line between genius and madness, or so they say, and so, with just a little trepidation, I asked Pete Adams, author of the Kind Hearts and Martinets trilogy in eight books, and the self illustrated nonsense books Whopping Tales, are you mad, and do you have to be at least a little mad to be a writer?

Now, read my interview with Pete, with a straight face if possible, and learn how, amongst many other weird and wonderful things, he became a writer. Oh, and don’t forget to take a quick look at his wonderful self-portrait at the end!

So Pete, are you Mad? 

My mum used to say to me as a kid, and then, using the word loosely, as a grownup, “You’re mad, M U D, mad”. I think she meant it kindly, but I have always taken on challenges that I am generally perceived as incapable of doing, but I did, have, and still do, and likely always will. But success in all that I have tried, well that would be another matter, and it is the varying degrees of achievement, or not, that drives me MUD.

So frustration at lack of achievement, or people’s faith in your ability to succeed, is it this that drives you? And does this make you mad? 

I became an architect after I was advised to stick with being a draughtsman; I qualified with distinction. I set up my practice within six months of getting my professional papers, against all advice, because I couldn’t handle being told what to do. That was in 1977 and my practice still goes, not always thriving, as I am want to tell the clients where they may be going wrong, nicely, if a tad forcefully sometimes, but, we are good designers and I am proud of our ability, my ability. So, a successful practice, you will need to define success; I can hold my head up, though we are sometimes called MUD.

So that is success surely, or is it arrogance that troubles you? 

No, never ref.

It’s about self belief then?

Maybe, or it just could be that success is not as important to me as the doing, and that drives the people around me MUD.

So it is audacity? 

Who knows; I have done, and failed in various degrees, many other things from a total and complete failure at DIY for instance, my partner, she says “Destroy it Yourself”, and anything else practical with only partial success; I garden using the scorched earth policy, never could stand pottering.

Nerve then, like a sportsman when he goes onto the field? 

Hmmm, sport, I was okay at cricket except the ball kept hitting the wicket, shite at rugby, but loved it and stayed on the team because I was a laugh on the pitch; I have the rare distinction in my club as being the only player told by the ref, “One more joke and you’re off.” The team and I were proud of that, but it drove the ref MUD.

Brass, would that be it? 

Yeah, maybe, I was good at the after rugby stuff, and became MC Mariner, a post that was retired when I retired from the club; I MC’d the Annual Mariner Charity dinners for more than seventy five years, it was actually twenty, maybe a few more, but I was so bad at rugby, and my head, being particularly oval shaped, was often mistaken for the ball, so the memory…and anyway, dinners would be an exaggeration as we cooked them ourselves, a national theme every year and David Duckham, celebrated England winger, still talks to this day of his invitation to the Russian dinner, referring especially to the beetroot soup, beetroot starter, beetroot main course and beetroot ice cream, for a hundred guests or more – still they kept coming back, on the condition I stuck to MC’ing and not cooking.

Sigh – Impudence, temerity? 

Who you calling Temerity, that’s a girl’s name. Yes, my daughter says that at my funeral she will say in her eulogy, “He tried everything, and with such enthusiasm, he became a leg end, but it drove everybody else MUD”.

Audaciousness?

Hmmm, maybe, and oh how they laughed when I said I’m gonna write.

So, imperiousness? 

Oi, I’m a socialist and proud of the fact.

Sorry, 

         S’alright sweet’art, just pulling yer leg.

So, I started one evening, after settling myself under the stairs, set the washing machine and tumble drier going, and began; it was a summer and so the boiler remained still.

Brazenness?

(Are you getting fed up Eva?)

Shusssh, answer the questions please, you’re starting to drive me MUD

(Ooh err missus) 

I have often argued I could have been a sturgeon, even if I did have Bowyer fingers and not fish fingers, but I resisted that branch of a challenge as I never could stand the sight of blood, or Tartar sauce for that matter. However, I managed the handwriting, though the College of Sturgeons (collective noun for caviar producers) say I am not known for my delicate touch, and my clumsy one finger typing commenced that balmy summer’s evening, barmy being the operative word, and the novels rattled out with a keyboard replaced every six months; “For Gawds sake type softly”, calls from around the house; seems my typing drove everyone MUD.

Gutsiness, spunk? 

I’ll have none of that language please and yes, I do like Guinness, there’s eatin’ and drinkin’ in it.

So, my huge family conspired, “He’s writing books now…”

“What?”

“Feckin’ books” (My missus is Irish)

“Dad, didn’t you fail English?”

“What’s that got to do with the price of fish?” I replied quoting Abraham Lincoln. I failed GCE English ‘O’ level, twice; well, it was hard; they’ve dumbed it down a bit since then.

But you got a degree and a post graduate Distinction in Diploma for Architecture, what was that, brashness, gall, backbone, brass neck or cockiness? 

It was schtummness?

That’s not a word.

Could be, I’ve applied to my mate Colin who is thinking of starting a dictionary.

I kept schtumm and got all the way through School of Architecture, degree and post grad, and had the interview for my post grad distinction when they picked up the fact that I did not have the necessary qualifications to get onto the course. Well, they never asked, just presumed, and who am I to presume to tell them, and this drove them MUD.

So audacity? 

Maybe, but immediately after I submitted my first, first year design report, the tutor called me in and seemed surprised that I was not a Johnny Foreigner, which drove me MUD. I was so MUD, I made it my business to learn English, and steadily my reports improved and by the time I was in my post graduate years (Janet and John standard), I was getting plaudits for my writing; “Look Janet, see Peter writing, isn’t he dead good an that”, and it helped in their decision to award the Distinction; anyway what could they do?

I told them life was like a bowl of cherries and I think that was the clincher.

So hubris? 

Yes my books are thought to be humorous, although I prefer to think of them as serious but make you laugh. I’ve written eight novels and three illustrated nonsense books since settling into my sous-escalier utility room to write, (for those of you who need illuminating, escalier is like a small onion shaped like a staircase, and Sous is the girl next door, a right sweet’art)

Phew – Tenacious, would that describe you? You have an adventurous spirit, you have guts? 

Yes, I would say I have an intestinal fortitude that can defy the meanest Jalfrezi, and in the world of books and an immense Mickey taking family, you need pertinacity and a dogged determination.

Oh I see and that involved hiding away under the stairs in the utility room, sorry writer’s den / study, because you lacked a certain loftiness, bluster, braggadocio when writing, did it? 

Listen mate, I’m actually tall and I love all things Italian, I even have a picture of the Eyeful Tower in the utility room, writing den (it has the top bit bent over as it wouldn’t fit because of the stairs), and if you must know I am probably the most modest person you are ever likely to meet and would probably win the Booker Prize for Modesty, if there was one.

Alright, I give up, what is it that best describes you and your approach to writing, and life really? 

Chutzpah. 

Chutzpah?

Yes Chutzpah, I think he was the brother of Ghunga Din? That’s me; except I don’t play the bugle, but I do blow my own trumpet.

 

**************

Pete chose the subject of madness himself as he is currently writing his ninth novel, Larkin’s barkin’, sub titled, ‘Where’s me chutzpah?’ And he tells me that his writing career really took off after kissing the Barmy Stone.

Thankyou Pete, most illuminating, and please take that smirk off your face, it is driving me MUD.

 

Take a look at the following links if you want to find out more about Pete and his books.

Facebook – Book Page – reviews, interviews, I review other books, and for those who would ordinarily sit at the back of the class tittering, some funnies:

Facebook here

Book One – Cause and Effect – self published here

Book Two – Irony in the Soul – self published here

Book 3 – A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza – Urbane Publications here

All of the 8 books in the Kind Hearts and Martinets trilogy are written:

Book 4 – Ghost and Ragman Roll – will be published by Urbane out on the 1st November 2016

Book 5 – Merde and Mandarins

Book 6 – The Duchess of Friesian Tun

Book 7 – Rhubarb in the mammon

Book 8 – Umble Pie

Guest Post by M J Lee – Author of City Of Shadows

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It is my great pleasure to introduce Martin Lee as my guest author today. Martin is the author of the Inspector Danilov novels and the recently published City Of Shadows is the second book in the series. Martin is also the author of the recently released Samuel Pepys and the Stolen Diary.  Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another and here he talks about how his love of history and travel merged one evening during a stroll in Shanghi, sparking the idea for the Inspector Danilov novels.

City Of Shadows is described as,

A family has been found murdered in the heart of 1920s Shanghai. But what could have compelled them to open the door to their killer?

Thanks Eva for this opportunity to talk about myself and the Danilov novels. It’s something I love doing almost as much as I love writing the books.

You see, I had two passions growing up. I fell in love with history when I was very young. I have a vague memory of sitting up in bed one summer’s evening, I must have been five or six years old, reading a book my mother had given me with pictures of the Kings and Queens of England in it. We weren’t a big book reading family and besides, we were Irish, so why we would have this particular book? I haven’t the foggiest. But I do know with absolute clarity that was the moment I fell in love with history.

The other passion was crime novels. Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dashiel Hammett, Mickey Spillane and Ed McBain all graced my sticky little fingers. I still have many of the copies of the books with their wonderfully lurid covers at home.

Well, a few years has passed since then. I did a degree and postgraduate degree in history, but never became a criminal, having no opportunity to put into practise the methods of murder so beautifully described by Ms Christie. I spent most of my working life in advertising (it was the only place that would pay me to have ideas), taking a couple of sabbaticals to write. I still have the rotten evidence of those sabbatical years on my computer – three books that have no hope of ever getting published.

A couple of years ago I became a freelance Creative Director, writing novels in the mornings and doing my freelance work in the afternoons.

Finally, I had achieved the sort of balance I wanted in my life ( a book in each hand). I remember very clearly when the idea for writing a novel set in the Shanghai of the 1920s and 1930s came to me.

I was out strolling one evening in Shanghai (we were living in the city at that time). It was around dusk in October, one of the best times of the year in the city. Perfect walking weather. I reached the crossroads at Jiangxi Middle Road and Fuzhou Road, just opposite the Metropole Hotel. A square where four Art Deco buildings built in the 1930s meet. For a moment, there was no traffic and no people, a strange occurrence in a city of over twenty million people. I closed my eyes and was suddenly transported back to the 1920s, imagining old Dodges, Packards and Chevrolets rolling up to the hotel, discharging carloads of flappers and elegant men wearing tuxedos. A lovely moment, trapped in time.

The Inspector Danilov books were born. And what a time to write about. Back then; the city of ‘joy, gin and jazz’ was an amazing melting pot of adventurers, spies, triads, opium smugglers, merchants, con-men, communists, criminals, fascists, Japanese miltarists, gamblers and refugees. With such a witches cauldron of deceit and double-dealing, happiness and despair, wealth and poverty, it soon became obvious that only a crime novel, with its strong moral compass, could explore the depths of the abyss that was Shanghai.

The two main characters, Detective Inspector Danilov and Detective Sergeant Strachan, are both outsiders, in a society full of outsiders. They are employed by the Shanghai Municipal Police but distanced and separate from the rest of their colleagues, and from the society of the time. Mavericks are always so much more interesting to read about and to write. The choice of Danilov as the lead in the books actually came from a line in a policeman’s memoir of the time. He mentioned that when they had a problem, both the French and Shanghai police turned to White Russian members of their forces to solve it for them.

At last, my two passions, history and crime, can now both co-exist together. So far, two books in the series have been published, Death in Shanghai and City of Shadows, with a third on the way in October. Given the wonderful cesspit of characters who lived in the original ‘Pearl of the Orient’ there’s no shortage of wonderful material for the future.

The Danilov series of historical crime thrillers is published by Carina, an imprint of Harper Collins. They are available at Amazon and other online bookstores.

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You can find Martin and his books here on his Amazon Author Page

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Twitter: @writermjlee

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Website: http://www.writermjlee.com