Once again the Birmingham NEC will be taken over by the UK Games Expo this year at the end of May.
And between Friday 31st May and Sunday 2nd June 2019 there will be a fabulous atmosphere and loads of fun for all those who love games, fantasy, roleplay, cosplay and… books about adventure, fantasy, history, scifi, paranormal, or suspense.
Once again I’ll be there on the Author Stand signing books – along with a colourful medley of fellow-authors.
We’ll be on Stand 572 in Hall 2.
Come and say hello, and chat to us and browse the books!
Psychological, paranormal, mystery fiction
Author of Mystical Circles, A Passionate Spirit and Perilous Path
In Sherlock we discovered that Death had an appointment – with Mary Watson in the London Aquarium. Maybe London is Sherlock’s city and he knows the turf. But he was still unable to keep Mary safe, as he had promised. In the Agatha Christie drama, we were drawn in to the personal tragedy of a detective who was finally outwitted by the criminal; in Jonathan Creek we saw our lovable main character largely responsible for the horrific death of a villain; and in To Walk Invisible we were shown a tough and bristly Emily, a Branwell totally lacking in inner resources when things go wrong, a bossy and controlling Charlotte and a rather ineffectual Anne: and all of them powerless against tidal waves of blind misfortune.
I read in an interview with Toby Jones (star of the Agatha Christie episode, and also due to appear as the next villain in Sherlock) that Ten or twenty years ago, Poirot and Miss Marple were cutting edge. But the viewer’s brain processes genre faster now.
I feel this sums up well the challenge facing today’s TV drama writers, screenwriters and novelists. We can no longer get away with anything that approaches transparency or simplicity in plotting or tone or characterisation; especially if we write crime, suspense or thrillers, we have to be at least two or three steps ahead of the viewer / reader. For us, “the game” of which Sherlock speaks has to be the game we play with the reader’s expectations, which are now razor-sharp. In our books we can only get away with characters like Mrs Hudson saying things like “I’ll just go and make a nice cup of tea shall I?” if there is some kind of double or even triple irony bound up in the package of words and character and context.
Against all this perhaps, the Outnumbered Christmas Special was refreshingly light, unless you count the darkness of 1) being led astray by a mischievous old man, now deceased, to travel a long distance to scatter his ashes in a random beauty spot 2) the abrupt discovery that your son plans to disappear off to New Zealand long term, and 3) walking away defeated from a car accident having trashed your car, totally unaware your daughter has obtained evidence that the other party was completely at fault….
All of these dramas, though, are essentially English, and all are about life, and we love them, together with their characters and situations. The darkness in some way is cathartic for us; we identify, we exercise our powers of empathy as we are drawn into the tragedy and horror and irony of the characters’ experiences… and this is why drama, and fiction, is a gateway to truth, and so profoundly important in our lives.
No writing for the rest of today as I’ll be in London, but since that’s where my novel is set I’ll be able to put the trip to good use for my ongoing research!
Meanwhile I hope to see some of you at my two books-signings this coming weekend; I’ll be at Kingsley School Hall, Beauchamp Ave, Leamington Spa CV32 5RD on Saturday 27th and at Princethorpe College, Rugby CV23 9PX on Sunday 28th selling signed copies of my two thriller suspense novels Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit.
There’ll be plenty of lovely Christmas gifts and refreshments on both days, and remember: books make an ideal Christmas gift!
I shall be out and about in Warwickshire signing copies of my two thriller suspense novels Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit at three Christmas Fairs in the next few weeks:
Kingsley School Hall
Leamington Spa CV32 5RD
11am-2pm Saturday 26th November
nr Rugby CV23 9PX
2-4.20pm Sunday 27th November
King Edward VI School Hall
Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6HB
12 noon – 3pm Saturday 3rd December
There will be lots of beautiful craft items and quirky Christmas gifts for you to browse, plus plenty of delicious refreshments. I’ll be selling my books at a special discount: £8 for one book, £14 if you buy both together. And for people who like books signed by the author, you’ll have that benefit as well! And remember, books make an ideal Christmas gift.
If you like thrillers with more than a touch of the paranormal this is for you!
Janice an Amazon reviewer, took A Passionate Spirit on holiday with her and says I loved it, I was hooked from the very beginning, the characters got inside my head, and I couldn’t put the book down. I was really very surprised at how spooked I felt considering I was on a sunny beach in Tenerife very far removed from the Cotswolds. Thank you for a great read.
If you do, I suggest you read Mystical Circles first because it may add more depth to the background of some of the characters.
Sue W, an Amazon reviewer, has read both books, and says: This is something that I like in a book series – being reintroduced to characters at a different point in their lives, without a specific cross reference to the first story. …A Passionate Spirit provokes the reader into reflecting on the motivations of the characters. One that particularly fascinated me was James – remembering him from Mystical Circles, I found myself wondering about how he would have got from his life then, to his life now…. another way of saying that the character was believable in himself and not just a plot device…
But Sue does add that the two books could be read in any order and would still be enjoyable.Enjoy your holidays… and happy reading!
I’ll be there between 11am and 2pm on that day handing out free bookmarks and postcards as well as signing copies of my two thriller / suspense novels Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit.
Costa are great supporters of local community projects and that includes local authors! And in common with many others, one of the things I love to do is while away an hour or so in a coffee shop… and Costa features among my favourites. Even better if you are a writer who is able to while away several hours in a corner with a cup of coffee writing in your A4 lined pad… whether or not that café is in Edinburgh and has a view of the famous castle!
Many thanks to Mog and Pauline at Warwick Books for hosting my book-signing in the shop on Saturday 7th May… and thank you to those lovely customers who bought copies of my two novels Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit.Although the beautiful weather kept custom low – I suspect all the regular clientele may have been out and about, or sunbathing, rather than in the shop buying books! – nevertheless I was happy to sign books for some enthusiastic visitors.
One of my book-buyers said:
“I just cannot resist buying books when I come into a bookshop. I know I shouldn’t. My bookshelves are full. But it’s an addiction isn’t it?” When he learned I was a local author selling signed copies of my books, psychological suspense set in the Cotswolds, he immediately said, “Are you? Oh, well I’ll have to buy one of them then! Which one shall I buy?” I told him my 18 year old son Jamie, who was with me, had read both books. He said, “Your son must be saintly! Tell me then…” addressing himself to Jamie… “which book do you recommend me to buy?” So Jamie recommended him to buy “A Passionate Spirit.” He said, “All right then. I’ll buy that one.” So I signed it and sold it to him.
This is the sort of customer I love! I wish all subsequent customers had followed in his footsteps! But an author is only too well aware how varied people are especially in their reactions to published books, as shown by online book reviews: and I am grateful for those who encouraged me with their response.
One of my favourite Christmas gifts was one I bought for myself for 10p in the late stock-clearance at my son’s school Christmas Fair – an audio book of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.
I’ve been listening to it in the car over and over again. And despite Death Comes to Pemberley on TV after Christmas, I still cannot get enough of Elizabeth, Darcy, Mrs Bennett, Lydia, Wickham and all the rest of them.
In addition, as another Christmas gift I received the DVD set of the classic BBC TV series starring Colin Firth as Darcy and Elizabeth Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett.
You’d think that knowing all the story-points and the outcome would dim your enthusiasm for engaging with one novel again and again.
Yet in Pride and Prejudice my appetite is never sated.
On every hearing, there are new glittering gems of psychological insight, discernment and irony to be found.
Was there ever such a bitchy young woman as Miss Bingley? Or such a cringing sycophant as Mr Collins? Can we ever quite fathom the sardonic detachment of Mr Bennett? And was Lady Catherine really pleased with Mr Collins’s obsequiousness? And can we ever truly understand Charlotte’s decision to marry Mr Collins, or determine exactly what Mr Wickham imagined would happen to Lydia and her family once he’d finished with her in London and gone off abroad to seek better chances there – as was his avowed plan when Darcy finally hunted him down? And has any author ever written a better account of a changing heart than Jane Austen’s, in her depiction of Elizabeth reading Mr Darcy’s letter and coming to a new opinion of the respective characters of Mr Wickham and Mr Darcy?
We keen novel readers have many ideas of the best novel ever written. Some may say Cervantes’ Don Quixote, or James Joyce’s Ulysses, or Tolstoy’s War and Peace, or Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. But I say Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is the most perfect novel ever written because I can never get my fill of her wisdom and insight into human relationships and behaviour and motivation. And there seems no end to the power of this story and these characters and this author’s observations, to set off answering bells in my own life-experience.
Why, you may ask? The reason was because my teenage daughter wanted to see it. She’d seen a trailer and found it appealing; she likes the young star of the movie, actress Saoirse Ronan; and her friend had recommended her to see it.
So I added it to my “LoveFilm” list and it duly arrived a few days ago.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold was a book which has elicited very mixed responses. Although we are told “it received much critical praise and became an instant bestseller” on its publication in 2002, nevertheless I have spoken to people who have described it as “depressing”.
A young girl is raped and murdered by a serial killer and watches her family fall apart, from limbo.
From my point of view, as a romantic suspense author, I thought this a painful and difficult subject to handle in a novel.
Yet upon watching the movie I was totally captivated. The delicacy and beauty and wisdom with which the subject was handled reversed all my expectations.
Without reading the novel, I had thought the premise of the story essentially flawed. Firstly, telling people in this situation to ‘move on’ for its own sake, seems specious. Evidence tells us that in such cases victims above all desire justice – and until they have seen justice to be done, they cannot ‘move on’.
Secondly, to my mind, telling the story from the viewpoint of a murdered child in limbo, seemed to me a device that changes the subject in an artificial way right from the beginning. In this life, any such tragedy would be instantly rendered less agonizing if you knew for sure the lost person was in fact very close to you, present with you, and also in heaven. And of course the idea of wandering around in “limbo” as part of the post-death spiritual journey, is derived from Catholic tradition, and one of the explanations popularly given for ghosts.
I believe that in real life we never do have such immediate and uncontrovertible assurance – with or without religious faith.
So I thought it a very dubious quasi-spiritual approach to such a theme. And yet, in the hands of a skilled director – in this case, Peter Jackson – a book can be turned into a movie where these difficulties recede, and another message comes through.
In some respects, the subject invites comparison with the book The Shack.
In this book, too, a young girl is lured to a ‘killing place’ and murdered. The story follows the reaction of Missy’s father to this tragedy, and moves on into an exploration of God which, I dare to believe, hs the power to transform our habitual attitudes.
I felt that in each story a device of separation is used: defamiliarisation. It seems that some of the worst experiences in life can only be truly understood from a distance. This has long formed part of the genres of mystery and imagination.
This was well underscored by the music – slow, languorous and dreamlike behind the “In-between world” and edgy clanging discordant notes as the murderer starts to saw wood and construct his next killing den. The visual effects too were very powerful; shadows moving across rays of light “in the blue horizon between heaven and earth” like images in dreams, and the creepy dismal gloom of the world of grief which the family inhabit, with the father’s initial denial and continuous refusal to let go. Very striking too was the silence behind the murderer as the blackness slides aside to reveal him sitting in his house.
The words “I knew then even though he loved me he had to let me go ” restate the theme, as do the words, “I begin to see thing in a way that let me hold the world without me in it.”
Have you seen the movie? Do you believe that a flawed premise in a novel can be transformed by a movie director? Please share your own thoughts, on this, or on the issues it raises.