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Don’t Turn Around By Amanda Brooke

Dont Turn Around‘Don’t Turn Around’ is the latest book by Amanda Brooke and it’s a thrilling and gripping story that really hooks the reader in.

Ten years ago, Jen’s cousin Meg killed herself after failing to escape an abusive relationship. Now, Meg’s ex is back and Jen’s domestic abuse helpline has started getting frightening calls from a girl who knows things about Meg – details that only the dead girl or the man who hurt her could have known. As Jen starts to uncover the past, someone is determined to stop her. Can she save this young woman from Meg’s fate? Or is history about to repeat itself?

The story is seen through the perspective of Jen and her aunt Ruth, who both never fully recovered from Ruth’s daughter’s suicide, Meg. Both are adamant that there is more to Meg’s death than meets the eye and now ten years later they are still fighting for the truth. To recognise Meg and other women who have been subject to domestic abuse, they set up the Megan McCoy Foundation, a helpline offering advice and one day they receive a call and are convinced that the woman is being abused by Lewis, the teenage boyfriend of Meg who they believe is responsible for Meg’s death. The story then follows both women as they try to rescue the woman as well as face up to old ghosts as Lewis reappears in their lives, after being gone for ten years.

This book is a dark and disturbing that does make for unsettling reading, particularly the flashbacks to Meg leading up to her taking her own life. Jen and Meg are best friends and Jen is in awe of her feisty cousin and could never believe that she would just give up and as long as she has breath in her body is determined to prove everyone wrong. But as Jen delves deeper in the past, she finds herself not only getting emotionally involved but also putting her life and others at risk.

Fast paced with tense scenes throughout, ‘Don’t Turn Around’ is a suspenseful tale about the search for justice and the truth and has a shocking ending, that will stay with you, long after you reached the final page.

You can buy Don’t Turn Around from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Amanda Brooke’s Writers Tips

Amanda BrookeAmanda lives in Liverpool with her daughter Jessica and writing was most definitely a late discovery for her. She didn’t really begin to explore creative writing until she was almost 40, at which point her young son Nathan was fighting for his life. Poetry and keeping a journal helped me through those difficult times and the darker times to come when he died in 2006. He was three years old. She continued to write and in 2010, she found an agent. Shortly afterwards in 2011 she was offered a book deal with HarperCollins. Her first novel ‘Yesterday’s Sun’ was published in January 2012 and she was absolutely thrilled when it was selected for the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club List. ‘Don’t Turn Around’ is her latest book.

Today Amanda shares her writing tips for aspiring authors.

To be a writer you have to put in the hours and write, so the best advice I can give is not to talk yourself out of it. Don’t tell yourself it’s too late to start writing, or that the opportunity has passed you by. If you want to write, write and if that isn’t enough to get you filling that first page with words then ask yourself if you’ve found the right story. The story, when it comes, has to be one you’re desperate to get down on paper because you’re going to be spending a lot more hours than you think bringing it to life. And if a full length novel is too daunting, start off small to hone your skills. Writing competitions are a great way to develop discipline as they come with a theme and a deadline, and who knows, you might win the odd prize or two.

Read more about Amanda and her writing journey here

Amanda Brooke

Amanda BrookeAmanda lives in Liverpool with her daughter Jessica and writing was most definitely a late discovery for her. She didn’t really begin to explore creative writing until she was almost 40, at which point her young son Nathan was fighting for his life. Poetry and keeping a journal helped me through those difficult times and the darker times to come when he died in 2006. He was three years old. She continued to write and in 2010, she found an agent. Shortly afterwards in 2011 she was offered a book deal with HarperCollins. Her first novel ‘Yesterday’s Sun’ was published in January 2012 and she was absolutely thrilled when it was selected for the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club List.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    I wasn’t one of those people who grew up always knowing I’d be a writer. I was in my late thirties before I took any real interest in writing, and it was at a time when I was dealing with a nightmare rather than pursuing a dream. My son, Nathan was twenty one months old when he was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2004 and I found writing poetry and keeping a journal helped me remain strong for both my son and his older sister Jess. When Nathan died in 2006, writing was a way for me to process my grief. At first I wrote about my son but once all of those precious memories were committed to paper, I found I wanted to carry on writing. Yesterday’s Sun was my first attempt at women’s fiction and was inspired by my experiences of motherhood. The story not only secured my first book deal but was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2012. I’m slightly stunned to be publishing what will be my ninth novel, and all because of one little boy who left behind an amazing legacy.
  2. Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming book, ‘Don’t Turn Around’.
    The story opens ten years on from Megan McCoy’s death and is told from the perspectives of Meg’s mum, Ruth and her cousin, Jen who was also her best friend. Meg died from suicide and in the years since her death, her parents have established a charity in her name and currently operate a helpline for young people in crisis who need someone to talk to. The family are trying to rebuild their lives but there are questions that haunt them. What hold did her boyfriend have over her and why did she protect him to the very end? Was the brief note she left meant to be a cryptic message or did someone destroy part of the note before her father found her body? The family had thought they had come to accept there are no answers, but then a young woman phones the helpline and reveals things that only Meg could know. Is she suffering as Meg had suffered and can they save her?
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Actually, I’ve recently been invited to join a book club in Liverpool and that group includes Sarah Haywood who wrote ‘The Cactus’. It was one of my favourite reads of 2018 so Sarah would definitely be on my wish list. There are a few other local authors I also like to keep in touch with so I’d happily chat books with Caroline Smailes, Catherine Isaac, Debbie Johnson, Rachel Lucas, Mary Torjussen and debut author Caz Finlay whose first book, ‘The Boss’ is out later this year. If there’s room for more, I’d love to invite Cecelia Ahern as I was a big fan of her books long before I’d ever thought of writing one myself, and we now share the same publisher.
  4. Dont Turn Around

  5. Is there anything that you would change about your writing journey?
    That’s a tough one to answer because I doubt I would have become a published author if my son hadn’t died, so there’s always going to be a part of me that wishes I had never had to start my writing journey. Thinking beyond that, I don’t think I would change a thing. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have become a published author. I gave up my day job two years ago and it’s thanks to my publisher and my readers that I’m now doing something I love and long may it continue.
  6. Who’s your favourite literary villain?
    I’m going to be cheeky here and name one of my own characters. In ‘The Bad Mother’, Adam is responsible for mentally abusing his wife, using a form of abuse known as Gaslighting. He was outwardly charming but he was ruthless and cruel as he stripped his wife of her confidence and her sanity. When the book was published, it was the first time I’d ever had hate mail, although I should point out it was directed at Adam rather than me. I was thrilled that readers hated him as much as I did.
  7. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    I’m going to pick something I’ve read recently and that was ‘Our House’ by Louise Candlish. The opening line is: ‘She must be mistaken, but it looks exactly as if someone is moving into her house.’ It sums up the premise of the story perfectly because it’s about a woman who comes home one day and discovers someone has sold her house without her knowledge and a new family are moving in. The hook is there immediately and it’s another of my favourite reads of 2018.
  8. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    I was a big fan of horror in my teens, having started my obsession with ‘Carrie’ by Steven King but the stand out novel for me was ‘Watchers’ by Dean Koontz. It’s about two creatures who escape a secret government experiment. One of them isn’t so nice but the other is an extremely clever dog called Einstein and now I’ve thought about him, I need to go back and read the book again.
  9. Why did you decide to write crime fiction?
    I’m not sure I’d describe my books as crime novels although my last few have become darker and there are certainly crimes involved. However, I’m more interested in the telling the victims’ stories and exploring what impact the crime has on them and their families. I do tend to put my characters through emotionally wrought experiences but they come out fighting and they’re the ones who ensure justice is done, not the police.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    I mentioned reading horror in my teens but I also loved fantasy and one of my favourites is ‘Lord of the Rings’ and because it’s a trilogy, I’m sneaking three books in for the price of one. My second selection would be one of Jane Austen’s novels. After reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’ at school, I went on to read her other books and loved them all. I’d happily add any of them to my book pile but at a push, I’d choose ‘Persuasion’. My last book would be a collection of poetry. I don’t know if the book exists but I’d like something that includes a mixture of classic and modern poetry with verses about love and tragedy, loss and longing, as well as poems written for children – I had a book of Roald Dahl poems was I was younger and loved it. Poetry would be ideal for a desert island because you can read verses over and again and find new meaning in the words based on your current mood or experiences.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    To be a writer you have to put in the hours and write, so the best advice I can give is not to talk yourself out of it. Don’t tell yourself it’s too late to start writing, or that the opportunity has passed you by. If you want to write, write and if that isn’t enough to get you filling that first page with words then ask yourself if you’ve found the right story. The story, when it comes, has to be one you’re desperate to get down on paper because you’re going to be spending a lot more hours than you think bringing it to life. And if a full length novel is too daunting, start off small to hone your skills. Writing competitions are a great way to develop discipline as they come with a theme and a deadline, and who knows, you might win the odd prize or two.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    That’s an easy one to answer. When I gave up the day job to write fulltime, one of the first things on my list of requirements was a dog. My cockapoo is called Mouse and she has a bed next to my desk. I start writing each morning at about eight o’clock and as lunchtime approaches, Mouse will move to the armchair where she will sit and stare at me to let me know it’s time to take a break. We go for our walk and that’s when I’ll have those little bursts of inspiration that keep the plot of my current book ticking along.
  13. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website.
    My tenth book is going to be about a support group for young widows and widowers. I have three main characters who have all been widowed under the age of fifty and the story begins when the youngest and most recently bereaved joins the group. She forms close friendships with the other two characters and they each face challenges in their lives, one of which will lead to a tragedy. As the draft stands, the first scene hints at what fate awaits one of my characters, however, I won’t reveal what that is in case that opening doesn’t survive the editing process.
  14. Follow Amanda Brooke on Twitter Amanda Brooke

    You can buy Don’t Turn Around from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Book Tour – The Affair By Amanda Brooke

The AffairToday on the book tour for Amanda Brooke’s new book, ‘The Affair’, sit back and enjoy an extract from the book.

After placing their orders, it was Sarah who kept the conversation flowing. And while she was busy telling Bryn how her company supplied the hummus he had ordered for starters, Nina let her mind wander. She looked at her children in turn and wondered how the next critical years in their lives would play out. She was hoping that her marriage would add some stability to their lives; although they weren’t quite there yet, Scarlett appeared more comfort- able in Bryn’s company of late, possibly because she had worked out that she had a chauffeur at her beck and call. Except she didn’t look comfortable now, Nina realized when she saw a deep blush rising in her daughter’s cheeks.

‘What’s wrong, Scarlett?’ Nina asked quietly. ‘Nothing.’

Scarlett pressed her chin to her chest. Her sleek blonde hair fell over her shoulders and partially obscured her face while she played with her hands.

Liam was first to locate the source of her embarrassment. ‘It’s Mr Swift,’ he said, tipping his head to the far side of the restaurant.

Scarlett’s form tutor was even more handsome than Nina remembered and, in contradiction to his students’ teasing, his thick dark hair showed no signs of thinning. On the few occasions she had spoken to him at parents’ evening, she had been almost tongue-tied, but it was Mr Swift who looked lost for words at present. He was with a small group consisting of two women and a young child, and was as yet unaware of the attention he had drawn from their table, being fully preoccupied with the two helium balloons that had been tied to the back of his chair. A large silver number three and a matching zero.

‘I remember him, he was one of Charlotte’s teachers,’ Sarah said. ‘Why didn’t we have teachers like that in our day, Nina?’

‘Maybe we should go and say hello,’ she suggested.Scarlett snapped her head towards her mum. ‘Don’t you dare!’

‘She’s only teasing,’ Bryn said. ‘Even your mum wouldn’t embarrass you that much.’

‘I think the embarrassment is all his,’ Miles said. ‘I spent my thirtieth in New York having a whale of a time.’
‘Would that be the business trip you were forced to take while I was at home caring for our baby girl?’

‘Ah, yes,’ Miles said and cleared his throat. ‘When I said a whale of a time, what I meant was because I was working so hard, dearest.’

Nina bit her tongue. Unlike her oldest friend, who would jump at the opportunity to scrutinize the cracks in someone else’s relationship, Nina preferred to focus on the positives. Sarah’s marriage might have its faults, but it had been strong enough to endure an affair, and if Miles had strayed since, he was a brave man indeed. By contrast, Nina’s first marriage had disintegrated at the first hint of a problem, and Nina would be eternally grateful to Sarah, who had stopped her falling apart by convincing her she could go it alone.

‘Thirty is so old,’ Scarlett was saying.

Sarah choked on the sip of wine she had been taking. ‘God knows what she makes of you then, Miles.’

‘Fifty is the new forty.’

‘And twenty years more than thirty,’ remarked Scarlett. When the starters arrived, the English teacher and his family were all but forgotten as the grown-ups focused their attention back on their own table.

‘So what are you up to, Liam?’ Sarah asked. ‘Not much.’

‘Have you picked a university yet? I’m sure it was around this time that Charlotte dragged us all around the country for countless open days. Typical of Charlotte, she opted for the first one we’d seen.’

‘She’s at Liverpool, isn’t she?’ Bryn asked.

‘Yes. I can’t believe it’s her final year so soon, and now the little madam has her mind set on a career in advertising. If I’d known she wouldn’t be coming home to work for me, I might have thought twice about paying for all that extra tuition that got her into uni in the first place.’

‘It’s a different generation,’ Nina offered.

‘Maybe, maybe not,’ Sarah told them. ‘By hook or by crook, I’ll rope Charlotte in eventually. I know I take advan- tage of Miles, but we can’t go on as we are. It’s only going to get busier in the next year.’

‘I can’t imagine convincing any of mine to become florists,’ Nina said, confirmed by the expressions on her children’s faces. ‘And I wouldn’t want them to. I’d like them to go off and explore the world. Liam came up with a long-list of possible unis over the summer, but I suppose we do need to whittle it down. Isn’t January the deadline for getting applications into UCAS?’

‘It doesn’t matter any more,’ Liam said. ‘I’ve changed my mind.’

‘Pardon? What do you mean, you’ve changed your mind?’ ‘Not everyone has to go to uni.’

‘I know,’ Nina said slowly to keep her temper in check, ‘but up until now, it was what you wanted. And if you don’t go, can you please tell me what you do have planned?’ ‘My company has a very good apprenticeship programme,’ Miles offered. ‘Or failing that, there could be opportunities with Sarah’s new housing development. It’s still going through planning, but once we get the green light, I’m sure we could persuade one of the contractors to take you on. What kind of career were you thinking about?’

Nina was struggling to keep up with the pace of the conversation. ‘Hold on, can we rewind for a minute. We haven’t ruled out university yet.’

Rather than answer, Liam returned his attention to his phone. The argument was closed, for now at least, and perhaps that was for the best. She didn’t want Miles mapping out her son’s life for him, she had managed well enough on her own so far.

‘I’ll be out this evening and, by the sounds of it, so will Scarlett,’ Bryn said. ‘Maybe you two could have a chat about it later?’

‘Good idea,’ Nina said, admonishing herself for forgetting she was in a partnership now. The conversation she needed to have with Liam might be better alone, but it felt good knowing she had backup.

While everyone had been concentrating on Liam, Scarlett became disengaged from the conversation. She had finished her starter and was looking absent-mindedly around the restaurant. Taking her lip gloss from her purse, her mouth open in a pout, she stroked the wand across her lips in soft, sensual strokes.

‘A word of advice, my lovely,’ Sarah said, her note of caution laced with a hint of envy. ‘Don’t do that in public unless you want to attract the attention of every hot-blooded male in the room.’

Bryn and Miles remembered themselves and looked away from the fifteen-year-old schoolgirl.

You can pre-order The Affair from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 12th January 2017.

Amanda Brooke Reveals New Book – The Goodbye Gift

The Goodbye GiftAmanda Brooke recently revealed the cover to her new book, ‘The Goodbye Gift’ and it’s lovely.

The story of ‘The Goodbye Gift’ is –

Three best friends. One tragic accident. One heart.

Lucy Cunliffe is waiting for a heart. Just twenty-four, she’s spent most of her life going in and out of hospital and after numerous operations, there’s nothing more the doctors can do, other than wait for the right donor. The day she gets the call is a day of joy and sorrow. Because for Lucy to get a new heart, someone else doesn’t need it any longer…

Julia, Helen and Phoebe are bound by long-standing friendship and mutual support, but each faces her own demons and a tragic accident is about to impact on their lives in a way they couldn’t have foreseen.

As the bonds of friendship are tested, we know one thing: Lucy will get her heart. The question is, who will give the gift of life?

I’ve yet to read Amanda’s last book, ‘The Child’s Secret so I have to catch up so that I can read this mysterious and intriguing story.

You can pre-order The Goodbye Gift from Amazon and will be available from good bookshops from 11th August 2016.