Hugest of thanks to Fiona for inviting me to take part in the blog tour to help celebrate the anniversary of Bloody Scotland! Many congratulations to all of the team behind the annual event, for everything you have achieved over the last 10 years. Today I am shining the spotlight on Jack Jordan and his latest release, Do No Harm, which was published in May by Simon & Schuster. My thanks to the publisher for sending me an early proof pre release.
MY CHILD HAS BEEN TAKEN. AND I’VE BEEN GIVEN A CHOICE . . . KILL A PATIENT ON THE OPERATING TABLE OR LOSE MY SON FOREVER.
The man lies on the table in front of me. As a surgeon, it’s my job to save him. As a mother, I know I must kill him. You might think that I’m a monster. But there really is only one choice. I must get away with murder. Or I will never see my son again.
I’VE SAVED MANY LIVES. WOULD YOU TRUST ME WITH YOURS?
Okay, question for you: when you go to the hospital for an operation, or help prepare a family member for an operation, would you ever think that the surgeon and their team might go out of their way to, oh I don’t know, kill you? I mean, it’s a worry having an op, that everything ends up OK. It’s human nature. However, I hope I never have to put my faith into a surgeon after reading this book!!!!
Anna’s son gets abducted. She’s told that there is only one thing she can do to ensure her son is returned to her, alive. Yet that involves committing a murder. Killing someone else to get your child back. Stripping a family of a loved one just so you can get your loved one back. Doesn’t bear thinking about really, does it?
Ss macabre as this sounds, I fluffing loved ‘Do No Harm’. I’m not sure whether that was because of the high end suspense, or the fact that I was sitting smug because I wasn’t the one having to make such a life changing decision. Thinking about it now, it’s probably both! Jack Jordan, if you haven’t seen his author photos, has such an innocent looking baby face. This novel just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover because geeeeeez, he may look innocent but boy does he have a wicked mind!
Clever….but wicked! And I mean wicked in an insanely brilliant manner. ‘Do No Harm’ ticked all of my boxes and left me staring into space trying to make sense of what I had just read. I’m honestly surprised that I wasn’t tied in knots due to the multi layer plot and never-ending lines of coarse grit. It was absolutely, absolutely brilliant and is definitely one of the best books I have ever read.
If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to change that pronto!!
You can purchase ‘Do No Harm’ now from Amazon and other retailers.
Also, to find out more about Bloody Scotland, you can check out their website here.
Many thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘The Lost Ones’ by Marnie Riches, and for supplying me with an ARC. All thoughts written in this review are done so in an unbiased manner.
The girl is sitting upright, her dark brown hair arranged over her shoulders and her blue, blue eyes staring into the distance. She looks almost peaceful. But her gaze is vacant, and her skin is cold…
When Detective Jackie Cooke is called to the murder scene, she is shocked by what she sees. Missing teenager Chloe Smedley has finally been found – her body left in a cold back yard, carefully posed with her bright blue eyes still open. Jackie lays a protective hand on the baby in her belly, and vows to find the brutal monster who stole Chloe’s future.
When Jackie breaks the news to Chloe’s heartbroken mother, she understands the woman’s cries only too well. Her own brother went missing as a child, the case never solved. Determined to get justice for Chloe and her family, Jackie sets to work, finding footage of the girl waving at someone the day she disappeared. Did Chloe know her killer?
But then a second body is found on the side of a busy motorway, lit up by passing cars. The only link with Chloe is the disturbing way the victim has been posed, and Jackie is convinced she is searching for a dangerous predator. Someone has been hunting missing and vulnerable people for decades, and only Jackie seems to see that they were never lost. They were taken.
Jackie’s boss refuses to believe a serial killer is on the loose and threatens to take her off the case. But then Jackie returns home to find a brightly coloured bracelet on her kitchen counter and her blood turns cold. It’s the same one her brother was wearing when he vanished. Could his disappearance be connected to the murders? Jackie will stop at nothing to catch her killer… unless he finds her first…
YES, YES, YES, YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!
Okay, review done!!
Absolutely flipping brilliant. Sorry, being straight to the point on this one, no beating around the bush or anything! You simply MUST read ‘The Lost Ones’, you must!
Detective Jackie Cooke is one hard-nosed individual who, if she were to tell you to jump, you would simply reply with ‘how high?’. She demanded respect and she gave it back. Look I’m not saying she was perfect, but she was the police procedural version of Mary Poppins – PRACTICALLY perfect in every way. She had her flaws, she admitted those too. Granted that doesn’t make them any easier to swallow, but what the heck.
I want to know just how Cooke managed to keep up with her fast paced, risky job while she was heavily pregnant! Are we sure that there is a baby in her belly and not a huge amount of fire?!
‘The Lost Ones’ is a chilling and momentarily graphic read, both of which added to the storyline and gave it that dark factor, that hook. I loved the fast paced nature of the novel and the way that the story flowed, with each individual situation paving way for the next or setting the scene for any potential misgivings. It worked. It all bloomin’ well worked. I also thought the randomly placed humour was such a brilliant idea, with Cooke and her colleagues not afraid to have a laugh once in a while. They were such a mixed bunch, yet if you asked me to choose her a different partner or different colleagues to work closely with, I honestly don’t think that I could.
‘The Lost Ones’ is atmospheric, chilling, fast paced, gripping, and downright incredible novel. I cannot WAIT to get my hands on the next book in the series. Simply one of the easiest 5 stars I have given to a book, ever.
Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in north Manchester. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a Masters in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser.
Her best-selling, award-winning George McKenzie crime thrillers were inspired by her own time spent in The Netherlands. Dubbed the Martina Cole of the North, she has also authored a series about Manchester’s notorious gangland as well as two books in a mini-series featuring quirky northern PI Bev Saunders.
Detective Jackson Cooke is Marnie’s latest heroine to root for, as she hunts down one of the most brutal killers the north west has ever seen at devastating personal cost.
When she isn’t writing gritty, twisty crime thrillers, Marnie also regularly appears on BBC Radio Manchester, commenting on social media trends and discussing the world of crime fiction. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Salford University’s Doctoral School and a tutor for the Faber Novel Writing Course.
A serial killer to chill your bones A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.
He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.
Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.
Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.
What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.
Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge. It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.
I spotted ‘Rattle’ through chance one day in a charity shop. Fiona Cummins wasn’t a new author to me (I actually have another one of her books on my shelf waiting to be read), yet the premise of ‘Rattle’ was one I kept coming back to. There was something so….sinister about the cover that made me want to pick it up and read it. It felt so wrong, yet felt so right at the same time. It’s only just now that I have found out that this novel was the authors debut – wow. I literally had no idea! I certainly couldn’t tell that that was the case whilst I was reading it, it was as though the authors works had been there all along. Impressive.
When someone says that they couldn’t put a book down, I find it to be a bit ‘yeah right then’, however I actually could NOT put ‘Rattle’ down. With every page I turned, the more I wanted to find out what happened. I had to know the details. I had to stay until the very end (or what I thought was the very end). I just wanted more. From start to finish I was engrossed and, if I’m being perfectly honest, I was still engrossed once the book had ended and I was so thankful to find out that there was another book released after to continue the story.
The storyline was incredibly macabre, very cut throat (pardon the pun), and very intense – much to my delight. It had the sort of vibe where you didn’t want to look, yet you couldn’t keep your eyes away. It didn’t matter whether I was squirming in my seat due to the fact that my heart had begun to beat faster, or the fact that my mouth had gotten dry due to the suspense and amount of times the word ‘shiiiiii…….’ tried to escape out of it – I had to find out what was going to happen.
It isn’t often that you can pick up a book on the off chance, demolish it in a small amount of time, and then go on to purchase the next novel in the mini serial without missing a beat. Oh, and declare that it is one of the best books that you have ever read. See why I was so impressed with this debut?
Fiona Cummins has suspense down to an art. This author knows how to keep her readers wanting more. Cummins knows how to raise a readers heartbeat, make them feel a little bit edgy, and then completely blindside them with an event that appeared out of nowhere.
So yes, ‘Rattle’ is one of the best books I have ever read because of the brilliant, brilliant plot, the cleverly crafted storyline, well thought out characters, levels of suspense that were through the roof, and just sheer excellence overall. I have high hopes for the continuation of this storyline, ‘The Collector’, which is currently shouting at me to read it (as much as a hardback book can shout at you, but you catch my drift). If you haven’t read ‘Rattle’ already, you are seriously missing out on a fantastic read.
Growing up, Michael wanted nothing more than to follow in his dad’s footsteps and join the family business. Aged 18, he did just that and entered into the glamourous, dangerous world of organised crime. Michael s father, a career criminal and contemporary of the infamous Krays, was a wayward role model. Soon Michael s criminal activities were funding a reckless lifestyle of drugs, sex, and violence. But the high couldn t last.
In 1993 both men were arrested for their involvement in a £13-million smuggling operation. Michael was sentenced to twelve years, serving time in the same prison as his dad. Inside HMP Exeter, Michael found something he had never expected: answers. A chance encounter in the prison chapel led to an experience that would shake the foundations of his life. This is a true story of trauma and transformation, one man s search for redemption, and the struggle to become the father he never had.
*Many thanks to HarperInspire and Netgalley for supplying me with an ARC. All thoughts are written unbiasedly.
As I’ve gotten older, the more the genre ‘true crime’ appeals to me. There’s something quite intriguing about serial killers, prison inmates, and other people who have committed serious crimes. One of the first ‘true crime’ books I read was about the infamous Ted Bundy. I had heard of many others, for example, The Krays and Charles Manson, but Michael Emmett wasn’t a name I had come across before. I wanted to find out who this man was, what drove him to commit a crime that landed him in prison for a substantial amount of time. Thankfully, ‘Sins Of Fathers’ answered those very questions and then some.
Michael Emmett was born into a criminal family. Not that I am defending his actions by any means, but crime was what he grew up to know. Most children when they’re younger learn their alphabet, how to cross a road, manners. However Emmett was taught something completely different. He was taught how to break the law and how to keep it all hush hush without getting caught. Naturally the skills regarding the latter wasn’t exactly perfected as he got caught, but you catch my drift. The differences in upbringings between Joe Bloggs and those in organised crime, are incredible, yet that was all he ever knew. It was a case of survival.
Michael Emmett documents his early life, speaking (from what I could gather), in an honest manner. Or, to put it rather bluntly, he owned his schnitzle. His crimes allowed him to live the life of Riley in terms of materialistic things. They also gave him a sense of superiority when it came to women. I don’t know what it is, but some women seem to find ‘bad boys’ rather exciting, and of course Emmett went along with that and it went in his favour.
Until he got caught, obviously. The book describes Emmett’s life in prison, name dropping a certain Kray prisoner who he befriended. Having read a lot about The Krays, it was so interesting to read a book where they just popped up in it as though it was the norm. A bit of background noise if you were.
I want to clarify again that I do not condone Michael Emmett’s actions, however it wouldn’t be my place to, even if that were to be the case. I’m not sitting here judging what he did as I review his book, 1) because I wasn’t there and didn’t see things with my own eyes, 2) it was his life and his life only, 3) nobody should judge another human without knowing all of the facts. Yes, Emmett is honest in his book, he explains what he did, he owns up to the fact that he shouldn’t have done it and what he lost in the process. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to question his motives. The only person that is entitled to question/judge/whatever you feel suits; is Michael Emmett himself.
Towards the end of the book, Emmett talks about how he found redemption and kudos to him for finding something positive, in his eyes, to hold onto. If it worked for him, who am I to disagree?
I do find it hard, believe it or not, to review autobiographies because it isn’t my place to comment on someones life or the choices they made. I know, as humans, we are quick to comment on such things, but usually that is done in private, in a personal conversation, and not on a public platform for the world and his wife to see.
So yeah, rounding up my wonderful babbles, ‘Sins Of Fathers’ was 100% my cup of tea. It had the drama, the shock factor, the name dropping of other prison inmates, but, most importantly for me, it gave me insight to who Michael Emmett is, and who he was from a psychological point of view. If you’re a fan of true crime, then I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you.
The brand new unmissable thriller from the award-winning author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Chain.
IT WAS JUST SUPPOSED TO BE A FAMILY VACATION.
A TERRIBLE ACCIDENT CHANGED EVERYTHING.
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF UNTIL THEY COME FOR YOUR FAMILY.
After moving from a small country town to Seattle, Heather Baxter marries Tom, a widowed doctor with a young son and teenage daughter. A working vacation overseas seems like the perfect way to bring the new family together, but once they’re deep in the Australian outback, the jet-lagged and exhausted kids are so over their new mom.
When they discover a remote Dutch Island, off-limits to outside visitors, the family talks their way onto the ferry, taking a chance on an adventure far from the reach of iPhones and Instagram.
But as soon as they set foot on the island, which is run by a tightly knit clan of locals, everything feels wrong. Then a shocking accident propels the Baxters from an unsettling situation into an absolute nightmare.
When Heather and the kids are separated from Tom, they are forced to escape alone, seconds ahead of their pursuers.
Now it’s up to Heather to save herself and the kids, even though they don’t trust her, the harsh bushland is filled with danger, and the locals want her dead.
Heather has been underestimated her entire life, but she knows that only she can bring her family home again and become the mother the children desperately need, even if it means doing the unthinkable to keep them all alive.
*Many thanks to Orion for providing me with an advanced copy of the book. All of my thoughts are written unbiasedly.
Having read and devoured ‘The Chain’ in what felt like seconds, I had extremely high hopes for ‘The Island’ (not that I was putting pressure on the book, or the author, to deliver….much). In my head I was wishing and praying to the book fairies that this book would be just as good, if not better, than its predecessor. Thankfully the fairies must have thought I was a good little bookworm, (either that or Adrian McKinty wasn’t just a one hit wonder), because ‘The Island’ DID deliver in all its glory – I bloomin’ loved it! I feel so bad saying that I enjoyed reading a book that has death at the forefront of its storyline, as though I was revelling in the fact that these characters were no longer breathing; please say that I am not the only one?
Anyway, my morals aside, Adrian McKinty certainly is NOT a one hit wonder! He most definitely knows how to hook his readers, leave them gasping for air, and putting such fear up them that, when they’re so invested in a nitty gritty part of the storyline and their dog suddenly decides to bark, that they ever so nearly (but not quite) defecate ones underwear and jump as though they’re on a trampoline. Speaking from experience with this one! I was HOOKED on what was happening with Heather and the children, hoping their truths would set them free, that I was ignoring the fact that a leaf blew across the other side of the carpark and my dog spotted it from their slumber on the sofa, so much so that they barked and nearly made me cack myself. Hell, I would go as far as saying that that is a compliment to the author. (Just for clarification, I mean their ability to hook their readers, not the fact that I was a wimp and jumped at a ‘little’ noise).
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Heather at first. She seemed quite up herself in all honesty, and it came across as though she was afraid to be true to herself in case it didn’t match up to what Tom and his children wanted. I suppose walking into a ‘ready made’ family, so to speak, must be hard, especially dealing with three different levels of grief. Perhaps that may have been why Heather could have come across a bit guarded.
I took an instant dislike to Tom, I’m not going to lie. He was such a jumped up, arrogant, -insert bad word here-. It was as though he thought that he was better than everyone else, that his word was law. Erm, no, how about looking further than your nose and seeing that, oh I don’t know, other peoples opinions matter too? What a novel idea…..no pun intended.
What started off as such an uncertain tale, ended up becoming such an eye-opening, well rounded, cleverly written novel. It’s not often that I read a book where I feel as though all the loose ends were tidied up, but in this instance that was exactly the case. I would be lying if I said that the storyline wasn’t dark, because it really is, but I thought it added even more character to an already shady novel. I cannot wait to see what Adrian McKinty has up his sleeve for his next novel – one to watch indeed!!
Hugest of thanks to Jenny Platt and Hodder for asking me to be involved in the blog tour today, and for the ARC.
Molly lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.
Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.
But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin’s last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.
Where do I even begin writing this review!
You would have thought identical twins would know each other inside out, wouldn’t you? You would also have thought that they would be able to trust and rely on each other more than anyone else in the world. Sadly, that wasn’t the case for Molly and Katie. Whilst one twin was an extrovert who lived life to the full, grabbing adventures by the who-ha’s, the other twin was an introvert, fiercely afraid of her own shadow and worrying about what could happen….about anything.
I wasn’t expecting the storyline to unfold the way that it did, not at all. When it got to the half way point of the book, loose ends were becoming tighter and I couldn’t understand why. Had I missed something? I hadn’t missed a thing because what came next completely caught me off guard. I think the thought of ‘what the actual f……’ went through my head like a conveyor belt for 10 minutes straight.
Now I know you’re probably wondering what on earth am I going on about, but I can’t give too much away!
I didn’t want to put ‘First Born’ down, although I had to once or twice feed my child…and the dogs. Let’s just say that it wasn’t my choice to stop reading the book! I was hooked on ‘First Born’ like a little kid in a sweet shop! I have no idea how Will Dean managed to keep the timeline so iron clad throughout the entire thing without giving anything away. I was bloody impressed!
Stories such as this, is exactly why Will Dean is one of my most favourite authors of all time. The suspense levels were flawless, the attention to detail was absolutely spot on, and the gritty nature was enough to rival a sandy beach! If Will Dean isn’t on your radar, he really needs to be. I cannot wait to find out what he’s got up his sleeve next!
Brilliantly written with such a clever and gripping storyline – a belter of a book and then some.
Apologies for the day late review, I hadn’t quite finished reading it yesterday! Huge thanks to Penguin Michael J Books for the tour invite, and for supplying me with a copy of the book to read and review.
In 1999, seventeen-year-old Tone Vaterland was killed on her way home from work.
Desperate for a conviction the police deemed the investigation an open-and-shut case and sent her spurned boyfriend, Danny Momrak, down for murder.
But twenty years later William Wisting receives a puzzling letter. It suggests the wrong man was convicted for Tone’s death.
And the real murderer is still out there.
Wisting is quickly thrown into a terrifying race against time where he must find the sender, decipher this mysterious letter and catch the real killer – before they strike again . . .
I’m just going to put this out there, straight to the point – WHAT A BLOODY BOOK! It’s very rare for me to not even finish reading a book before I purchase another book from the series, but that is exactly what happened here.
‘A Question of Guilt’ is the fourth book in Wistings ‘Cold Case’ quartet, so if you’re one for reading books in order, then you might want to stary with ‘The Katharina Code’, however, I thought this installment read perfectly well on its own. Saying that, like I said above, I had purchased another book from the series before I had even finished reading ‘A Question of Guilt’. Honestly, it really was THAT good.
The storyline tells the tale of William Wisting, a Norwegian police detective, who ends up delving into a cold case or two, after being put onto their radar from an anonymous tip off. Because the book is about cold cases, the timeline does switch between years such as 1999, when the investigation was started originally, the present time, and other subsequent years in order to keep the flow of the book. Personally I found it easy to follow and pretty seamless.
I really didn’t know what to make of ‘A Question of Guilt’ to begin with, but it wasn’t long before I was sucked into the gritty storyline, the unanswered ‘whodunnit’, and the excitement of wondering what was waiting for me when I turned the page. I honestly thought this was a brilliant, brilliant novel, full of suspense, high energy moments, and a storyline that just kept on giving.
Without sounding too macabre, seeing as this book was in fact, a Nordic crime novel, I was gutted when ‘A Question of Guilt’ came to an end. I just wanted more! I recommend you put Jørn Lier Horst on your reading list PRONTO. I’m going to go and spend more money by buying the rest of the books!
Many thanks to the Hodder team for inviting me to take part in today’s social blast, and for providing me with a copy to review on my own free will.
THE BONES COME FIRST… When single mother Alex arrives at her new home with her two children, she can finally breathe easy. Pine Ridge, a rural community near the Australian coast, is beautiful, peaceful and most importantly, far away from the trauma she left behind.
NEXT, A DOLL… Then unexplained boxes start arriving at the house, and Alex’s teenage son begins to retreat into himself more than ever. As rumours and legends swirl through the community, Alex realises that Pine Ridge is guarding long-held secrets of its own.
AND THEN THE BLOOD. Something is lurking in the shadows, and Alex and her family are in grave danger. She must protect her children from the darkness at all costs – before it engulfs them whole…
The Shadow House intrigued me. From the get go there were questions being raised, such as why did they move, why did Pine Ridge have a ‘cult’ like feel to it, why were the other residents acting as though they were under some sort of spell.
Maybe that was just me who thought that, but it certainly gave me food for thought.
I have read many suspense/thrillers that have been slow burners, and I would have to say that The Shadow House falls under that category for sure. It took me a good while to get into the throws of the storyline as, even though the questions at the beginning gave me that all important hook, I found it a bit tricky to really grab the book by its horns. I’m not sure whether that was because I was a bit impatient, or whether the storylines full potential was a bit delayed.
With all that in mind, I enjoyed the concept of the novel, the drip feeding of eery moments, and the authors way of creating her characters. A thumbs up from me!
The Shadow House by Anna Downes, is published today in e-book/audio and can be purchased now fromAmazon
As a huge fan of Jack Jordan and his books, I just had to say yes when I received the email asking me to be involved in the blog tour for National Storytelling Week. For those who don’t already know, Jack Jordan is a tutor at The Novelry. Here is a little bit more about them and what they do:
‘Offering support for beginner and established authors at any stage of their writing career, The Novelry will take writers from the very kernel of an idea through to a polished manuscript ready for literary agent submission. With mentoring from bestselling authors and editorial advice from leading industry professionals, The Novelry is the writing school recommended by leading literary agents.‘
Enough of my talking, time to welcome Jack Jordan to TWG!
When did you first realise that you were a storyteller? I’ve had a vivid imagination ever since I can remember, expressing myself through storytelling via various outlets, whether it be writing, acting, or childhood play. Still, it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I first sat down and wrote a full-length novel. I struggled with agoraphobia at the time, and it helped to escape through my old love of writing. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the story and realised that I had written 100k words of a novel that I had the eureka moment: I was a writer.
Do you remember when you came up with the first story idea that would ultimately go on to be published as a novel? How did you know this was the idea that was worth telling? I believe that story ideas, however creative or outlandish, resonate from something deep within the teller. My debut novel, Anything for Her, is about a mother covering up a tragic accident made by her child, and how far parents will go to protect their children. I’m drawn to these kinds of stories due to the strong bond I have with my mum, who raised me as a single parent. So when people ask me how they might begin to come up with a story idea themselves, I often recommend that they look closer to home and the personal dynamics at play because they so often tell us who we are.
Do you have a story of yours that you are most proud of? I have to admit, I have two! I love my novel, Do No Harm, which is out 26th May this year, due to the high stakes the hook brings, and how subliminally asks the reader what they would do in Dr Anna Jones’ shoes: a crime ring abducts the child of a leading heart surgeon and gives her an ultimatum: kill a patient on the operating table or never see her son again. I have a deep personal connection to my novel Night by Night, which is about institutionalised homophobia within the police force, inspired by victims of serial killer Stephen Port. I’m proud to have a novel that centres around LGBTQ+ issues and have it resonate with readers.
Why did you decide to write novels, as opposed to telling stories in another format? That’s an excellent question. When writing a novel, I find I have so much freedom to explore a character’s inner world, exploring who they are and how they grow when placed in a hostile or precarious environment. I like the long game of this: meeting the character on the first page and then slowly peeling back the layers of their humanity throughout the story, until we meet them at the end, often dramatically changed from who they were when the story started. I find that I get to explore this vividly with novel writing.
Why do you think stories are important? I think stories are important because they reflect who we are as a society and all the beautiful differences from culture to culture. Stories can educate on a profound level and open people’s eyes to experiences they might never have encountered or people they might never have met. They also serve as an escape from life’s woes and inspire us to grow and change – and dream. I often write novels with moral dilemmas at the heart of them, and I love this because it gives the reader the gift of testing their own moral compass: what would they do in the character’s shoes? It’s like a workout for the soul.
National Storytelling Week is all about the oral tradition of storytelling. Do you think it’s important to keep this tradition alive when we have so many other ways of consuming and telling stories these days? I believe that storytelling and expression, in whatever form, is the glue that holds us all together. Imagination and empathy bring people closer, especially during times of difficulty, whether it be global pandemics or politically challenging times. Whether it’s diving into a book to get lost in the pages or sitting around a campfire with friends exchanging ghost stories, storytelling brings out the humanity in us. It gives us ways to connect with each other in an often isolating world. I also believe storytelling allows us to explore who we are.
What do you think is different about writing a story down on paper as opposed to telling it out loud? I think there is a real beauty to telling stories aloud because it blends with the art of acting, giving a sense of performance to a story that can really bring it to life. Spoken storytelling also derails any literacy hurdles a story-lover might have and allow a person to enjoy the art in a way that works best for them. What I like about writing novels is the opportunity to delve into oneself. As the reader reads the story in their mind, they paint an abundance of pictures and ask themselves so many deeply personal questions, and the characters I create can often become deeply personal to them too.
How do you like to consume your stories? (Reading, listening, watching, etc.) My two favourite methods of consuming stories are reading and watching. I love devouring novels and getting lost in a television series, and I love seeing shows too, whether it be West End shows or stand-up comedy.
What is your favourite story of all time? The story that changed me as both a reader and a storyteller is Malorie Blackman’s novel Noughts and Crosses. I still remember that profound sense of shock I felt when I reached the last page as the last scene came to an end, and it completely transformed the stories I read and the ideas I had for my own thereafter. Whenever I pick up a book, I hope to have that same feeling, and when I write, I try my hardest to give the reader that same emotional reaction.
What do you hope readers will take away from your novels? As a reader, there is nothing more enjoyable for me than when I pick up a story I love and never want it to end. It’s that warm feeling in one’s chest, the buzz of excitement in one’s gut as we pick up the book again and think about the story when life draws us away. If I can give at least half of my readers this feeling, I know I’ve done my job well.
If you had one piece of advice for someone wanting to tell a story of their own, what would it be? Growing up, I had a poor education – I didn’t go to college or university, and I had to teach myself a lot of the basics of the English language. For many years, I subconsciously didn’t allow myself to fathom the career I have now because I didn’t think it was meant for people like me, nor a possibility open to me. Realising that storytelling is for everyone, regardless of education, background, ethnicity, sexuality or gender expression, freed me to tell the stories that would go on to be read by over one hundred thousand readers. So often, we hold ourselves back from what we want to achieve due to being led astray by other people’s ideas of the world and how it’s supposed to work. So I always suggest storytellers analyse the barriers they see before them and ask themselves if they too are partly the reason they are in the way. Storytelling is for everyone, and I think the first hurdle we have to jump is giving ourselves the permission to express ourselves and explore.
Thank you so much to Midas Pr, Jack Jordan and The Novelry for such an honest interview. I think Jack made a wonderful point regarding storytelling being for everyone, regardless of status, and I am so pleased that he found the confidence in himself to put pen to paper – I cannot recommend his books enough! Speaking of which, if you fancy getting your hands on any of Jack Jordan’s novels, check out the following links:
The Writing Garnet is officially 5 years old TODAY! When I started my blog back in 2016, I never envisioned it turning out the way that it has. It never even crossed my mind that my blog could turn into a multi award winning blog (yes, multi), nor did it cross my mind that my review quotes would make their way into physical copies of books or even on the cover of some. Without blowing my own trumpet, I am unbelievably proud of all of that. At the very beginning, my blog was created as my way of saying thank you to authors for writing their books which has allowed me to escape via their words, when things in my personal life have been difficult. It wasn’t created as a popularity tool (because clearly I wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes had that have been the case), nor was it created merely to get free things because, in all honesty, I had no idea that that was even a thing when I first started.
Over the last 5 years I have met a wide variety of authors, met fellow bloggers, other like minded bookish folk, and found myself involved in a world that went beyond just loving books. I had never really had that before. I had never been able to sit and discuss books with people who had read the same book as I, nor would I have ever found the confidence to cart myself off to events such as Edinburgh Book Festival, Aye Write in Glasgow, or even more intimate events such as meeting the Orenda gang in Edinburgh (to name a few), if it wasn’t for a select few of people who, after ‘meeting’ through the online book world, have gone on to becoming real life friends (Jen, Mandie, Kelly, Joanne, Lainy, DC to name a few). Not only that, despite not having met them in real life yet, I have come to know even more people who I consider to be friends now, who one day I would love to be able to give them a hug (COVID permitting, obvs – special shout out to Liz B for being as true as they come). If I named each and every one of the people who I called friends and who I would do anything for, I would be here a while and would no doubt miss someone off so, to put it simply, if we talk, I adore you. Simple as, and I thank you for your kindness and support over the last 5 years.
For me, the highlight so far has got to be meeting Sue Perkins and Tom Fletcher as those were the times where I unintentionally embarrassed my little girl with my high pitched squealing and trampoline bounces. I think I was fair excited……. Would I have been able to meet them had it not been for my blog? Honestly? Probably not as I never knew events like that existed until I became a blogger. I have so many other authors, bloggers, publicists etc, that I would love to meet and I have everything crossed that that will become a reality.
I know blogging isn’t all about stats, but for the first time in ages I had a quick nose at the stats of TWG. In the last 5 years TWG has had:
160,424 views. 84,689 visitors. 1837 blog posts have been posted.
Also, I even worked out roughly how many books I have read over that time…..1270!!! Ermmmmmmmm, say what?
As I may have mentioned previously, 2020 for TWG wasn’t the greatest as, putting it quite bluntly, I was treated like dirt via the bookish community (not all of you, just to clarify), and it hurt me so much that I ended up retreating because I didn’t know what else to do because, as I have also said many times, I’m not the most popular of people and I don’t fit into the tight knit groups. I suppose my face doesn’t fit, so I knew that regardless of what I said and what I did, I wouldn’t have been believed which is unfair and incredibly hurtful. Because of that, my posts within the last year have been few and far between, however I still have been ‘here’ from afar and still able to keep my feet in the door so to speak. Again, I want to thank those who have stood by me, supported me, and been true friends during that time and continue to do so. I see you.
I am super shocked that my little, multi award winning blog turns 5 today. Yes there have been some ups and downs and confidence knocks along the way, and yes, at times I bit off more than I can chew and left myself over stretched. However the joys of anything in life is that you can learn from your mistakes and realise where you went wrong or what needs to change. There is only me running this blog and, even though I like to think that I can do everything, I physically can’t….I just wish it hadn’t taken me 5 years to realise that! Well, in all fairness it’s probably taken me over 20 years to realise that as I recently turned 31 but y’know, semantics.
Creating The Writing Garnet was probably one of the best, on the spur decisions I have ever made and I just want to thank every single author, publisher and publicist who have sent me countless books over the years and trusted me to review your books. I want to thank the organisers of book events of their hard work and dedication in bringing likeminded bookish folk together. I also want to thank each and every person I have come to know and admire for being true to themselves and becoming good friends of mine. I have your backs – you are all awesome. Major shout out to my fellow bloggers, and anyone who is thinking about starting a blog – you’ve got this! Just remember it’s okay to say no….
On that note, happy birthday to TWG! Heres to another year full of weird and wonderful books, intriguing debuts, and a truck load of reviews.