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The Darkness Within Book Tour – Extract

The Darkness WithinOn the book tour for Lisa Stone’s gripping new thriller, ‘The Darkness Within’, enjoy an extract from chapter seven from the dark tale.

It was a little after 3 p.m. and as Jacob gazed out of the side window listening to his music he suddenly realized he was very hungry and craving meat, which was a first. Since meeting Eloise at university he’d become a vegetarian as she was, although he still ate fish, cheese and eggs. But right now, after all that healthy eating in the hospital, he was craving meat: a rump steak or a rack of ribs, rarely cooked red meat that he could sink his teeth into.

‘What’s for dinner, Mum?’ he asked, removing an earbud so he could hear her reply.

She turned to face him. ‘I’ve made a vegetarian cottage pie,’ she said, pleased he was regaining his appetite. This dish had become one of his favourites and she’d put time and effort into making it. ‘Eloise is coming as soon as she can dismiss her class.’ Eloise was a primary-school teacher at a school not far from where she lived with her parents – about an hour away.

‘Any chance of some meat?’ Jacob asked. ‘I really fancy some tonight.’

‘Well, yes, if that’s what you prefer,’ his mother said, surprised. ‘I’ve got some steak in the freezer.

I’ll take it out as soon as we get home.’

‘Count me in,’ his father said chummily, glancing at his son in the rear-view mirror. Neither of them were vegetarians except when Eloise joined them for a meal. Jacob knew that given a choice his father would much rather have meat than Quorn or soya beans any day. He threw him a conspiratorial wink in the mirror.

‘Oh Jesus!’ Jacob exclaimed as the rectory came into view. A large Welcome Home bunting was draped across the front of the house and bunches of balloons festooned the porch. ‘Did you have to?’

‘It was your mother’s idea,’ his father said, ignoring the blasphemy. They only used Jesus Christ’s name with reverence.

‘We can soon take it down,’ Elizabeth said, feeling a little hurt. She’d wanted everything to be perfect for his homecoming. ‘I thought you’d like it.’

‘Suit yourself,’ he said with a shrug.

You can buy The Darkness Within from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

This Beautiful Life Book Tour – My Playlist Of My Life By Katie Marsh

Katie MarshOn the book tour and the publication day for Katie Marsh’s new book, ‘This Beautiful Life’, Katie talks about her love of music.

I’ve wanted to set a book to music for a very long time, but I only found the courage once Abi arrived in my head one day and I knew that she – like me – set her entire life to music.

In ‘This Beautiful Life’ Abi has just recovered from bowel cancer when the book starts, only to discover that her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made some decisions that are about to come back to haunt him and her son Seb is battling with a secret of his own. The story follows them over the ensuing year, with each month set to a song on Abi’s cancer survival playlist, which she creates to remind her of the people that matter and the life that she doesn’t want to leave.

Ever since I discovered mix tapes I have set my life to music. From trying to capture the final lines of ‘Parklife’ before Simon Mayo talked over them, to creating playlists for each book I write, I am a confirmed addict of mixing songs from all genres to create a mood or a feeling. For me, nothing is more evocative than music and today I’d love to share the playlist of my life with you. I’ve kept it short – twelve songs just like Abi – but believe me there were three hundred in the running and so it took many tortuous hours to choose.

‘Thank you for the music’ by ABBA. The first song I learned by heart and – unfortunately – one I liked to perform for customers at my parents’ trout farm. Thank goodness it was before the age of phones with videos.
‘The Wombling Song’ by Mike Batt and Chris Spedding. This was playing at my first ever school disco, when I danced with Matthew Archer and learnt that perhaps there were more moves than ‘step-shuffle’.

‘I don’t care’ by Transvision Vamp. I LOVED this band when I was a teenager. I was going through one of those ‘wear-DMs and only buy skirts with bells on’ phases and I used to play this constantly at full volume, much to the irritation of my entire family. Wendy James is pretty much entirely responsible for a very painful experiment with hair bleach. This song sums up teenagerdom for me.

‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles. Will always remind me of mum and dad and their beloved vinyl collection. Such a simple and beautiful song.

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. My brother and I always used to fight over what music to play in the car. This generally won and I have to say, he had better taste than me.

‘Sit down’ by James. I can’t hear this song without seeing me and my mates jumping up and down in a sweaty huddle and then falling to the floor for the chorus. This still happens every time we hear it, come to think of it.

This Beautiful Life

‘Children’ by Robert Miles. I have danced on roofs to this, danced in sweaty nightclubs to this and now I listen to it whenever I’m stuck on a chapter and I need to dance around until I work it out. This is the anthem of my twenties, no question.

‘The Promise’ by Tracy Chapman. I walked down to the aisle to this beautiful, heartfelt song and I still cry every time I hear it.

‘A Tisket-A-Tasket’ sung by Ella Fitzgerald. An amazing extravaganza of scat-singing and pure joy, this is Ella at her best. And my grandparents adored it, so when I hear it I think of them dancing in their garden.
‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’ from ‘Hello, Dolly!’ This is what picked me up after my second novel was rejected and I really wondered if now was the time to give up. I made an ‘I’ll show them’ playlist and started number three, which was eventually published as ‘My Everything.’ This song was the opener.

Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A Major. At school I played the clarinet, and attempted parts of this work, and as a result I know a) how technically difficult it is and b) how glorious it can sound when people who aren’t me play it. My number one classical listen for peace and wonder.

‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyoncé. A song to dance to, to bounce to and to be inspired by. Love it.

You can buy This Beautiful Life from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Lawn Job Book Tour – Updating The Femme Fatale

Chuck CarusoOn the book tour for Chuck Caruso’s exciting new book, ‘The Lawn Job’, Chuck talks about how he updated the role of the femme fatale for the book.

The femme fatale has been a more or less constant trope in crime fiction for generations now. The phrase brings to mind the gorgeous, vamps of film noir, dangerous dames in stunning black and white cinema from the 1930’s and 40’s. These fatal women were played to great effect by the likes of Mary Astor, Lana Turner, and Rita Hayworth.

Some scholars see the archetype of the dangerous woman in ancient figures like Helen of Troy or Cleopatra, but for me the femme fatale finds her proper home only in murder stories. Crime fiction offers the milieu where she can best lure a morally questionable man to his doom. He knows better, but he’s willing to do anything to win the girl, even if part of him knows that she’s playing him.

Still, I’d argue the figure of the dangerous and willful woman goes back at least as far as Lady Macbeth whose own ambition and lust for power prompts her to push her husband to claim the throne by murdering the rightful king. She suggestively tells Macbeth, “Screw your courage to the sticking place / and we’ll not fail.” When he loses his nerve after committing the awful deed, Lady Macbeth shows that she’s the one with real backbone. She snatches away his bloody daggers and uses them to frame King Duncan’s guards for the murder. If that’s not a deadly woman in all her glory, I don’t know what is.

Fashions have changed over the years, but mystery authors and Hollywood screenwriters have periodically offered updated versions of the femme fatale. Kathleen Turner (‘Body Heat’), Linda Fiorentino (‘The Last Seduction’), Sharon Stone (‘Basic Instinct’), Sarah Michelle Geller (‘Cruel Intentions’), Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (‘Femme Fatale’), Laura Harring (‘Mulholland Drive’) and Nora Zehetner (‘Brick’) have all played delightfully devious women in excellent neo-noir films over the past few decades. Kim Basinger even sleekly reprises the traditional femme fatale in ‘L.A. Confidential’, a neo-noir film set in the 50’s and based upon James Ellroy’s nostalgic crime novel, the third book in his brilliant L.A. Quartet series.

Noir and its associated tropes have never gone completely out of style, but a few years ago, Gillian Flynn gave us an exciting new twist on the femme fatale in ‘Gone Girl’, her blockbuster novel and its film adaptation starring Rosamund Pike. Flynn’s brilliant innovation with the novel was to tell the story with multiple first-person narrators. Not only do we hear the familiar perspective of the woman’s dupe of a husband, in alternating chapters we are insidiously won over by Amy Dunne’s calm and reasoned voice as she tells the treacherous tale from her point of view. In a passage that promises to be one of the most remembered in the annals of contemporary crime fiction, the reader is both amused and appalled by Amy’s sharp insights about how a woman can win over any man by pretending to be a “cool girl.” In ‘Gone Girl’, Flynn’s meditations on the “cool girl” are profound for what they reveal about her Amy’s understanding of the male characters, but the passage is revelatory for its commentary on female manipulation of male desire.

'The Lawn Job

Revisiting and revising the trope of the femme fatale in my own debut crime novel ‘The Lawn Job’, I decided to present the reader with not one but two dangerous women. These two dangerous women each embody a different aspect of this characteristic noir figure.

Sheila Passarelli comes off as the classic blonde bombshell, a woman who has always used her looks and her sexuality to make her way in the world, but who now, as an aging trophy wife, finds herself possessed of a deep desire for personal vengeance on those who have wronged her. In some ways, Mrs. P represents the ultimate femme fatale, descended from a long line of vamps and vixens. She’s learned all the deadly lessons of her predecessors. She draws power from the desire she provokes in the men around her while allowing them to underestimate her. Mrs. P is a modern woman, possessed of strong agency that remains concealed by her willingness to play the traditionally submissive role of wife and mother.

By contrast, my second femme fatale represents a more contemporary counterpart to Mrs. Passarelli. A transgender stripper and the sometime girlfriend of my ex-con protagonist, Juana lures readers in as surely as she seduces the men around her. Juana intrigues us because she immediately occupies a less clear space in the conventional social order. By turning away from the masculine gender identity she was born with, Juana surrenders much of the inherent cultural privilege that comes with being a man; however, as a gorgeous and sexually available femme fatale, Juana takes on the ability to turn men’s own power against them. She uses their desire for her not only as a means to undermine their self-determination but also as a way to empower herself as a woman.

Don’t get me wrong. Even though I play with these tropes in my novel, I didn’t set out to give it a heavy message. Authors stop being entertaining when they start getting up on their soapboxes. I had a great time exploring ideas about the femme fatale while writing this novel. ‘The Lawn Job’ remains first and foremost a fast-paced crime thriller. It’s a hell of a ride, and I want my readers to enjoy it.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

You can buy The Lawn Job from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Jane Fallon Reveals New Book – Faking Friends

Faking FriendsI’m delighted to see that Jane Fallon is back with a delicious new book called ‘Faking Friends’.

What the back cover says

Amy thought she knew who Melissa was – then again, Amy also thought she was on the verge of the wedding of her dreams to her long-distance fiancé.

When her career suddenly begins to unravel, Amy pays a surprise trip home to London. Her boyfriend Jack is out, but it looks like another woman has been making herself at home . . .

And that Other Woman is Melissa.

Amy has lost her job, her fiancé, her best friend and her home in one disastrous weekend – but instead of falling apart she’s determined to get her own back.

Piecing her life back together won’t be half as fun as dismantling theirs, after all.

After loving Jane’s last book, ‘My Sweet Revenge’, I’m on the countdown to ‘Faking Friends’.

You can pre-order Faking Friends from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 11th January 2018.

Giovanna Fletcher Reveals New Book – Some Kind Of Wonderful

Some Kind of Wonderful‘Giovanna Fletcher has revealed her latest book and it looks and sounds beautiful. It’s called ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ and will be her first novel to be published as a hardback.

What the back cover says

Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since their first day at university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they’re about to get engaged. A romantic escape to Dubai is the perfect moment, but instead of the proposal Lizzy hopes for, Ian reveals he’s not sure he even wants her anymore.

Lizzy is heartbroken. But through the tears, she realises this is her chance to seize the opportunities she missed as Ian’s other half. But what does she want? How much of her is really Lizzy, and how much was Ian’s influence? Determined to discover who she is at heart, Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before – and in the meantime, have a little fun.

You can pre-order Some Kind of Wonderful from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 16th November 2017.