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Payback by M.A.Griffen – Blog Tour Guest Post

BLACK BOOKS

by M. A. Griffin

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I first saw the cover to my new novel, PAYBACK.

I’d known the cover had been causing them a few problems. The design team knew what they were after but couldn’t quite get it to work. The wonderfully talented Helen Crawford-White was given the gig, and the publication date was put back as she laboured away; April became May became July.

Then the cover arrived, a pdf attached to an email. I was blown away. It was black, with cool, reflective gold foil lettering. And – I suspect I’m alone in this – I’d always wanted a black book. I have a thing about black books.

Here’s why. To me, black books are holiday books. I guess this goes back to the horror-obsession I had during my teenage years in the late 1980s. As my family’s summer break loomed each year, I’d pack black books about monsters. I remember James Herbert’s The Rats and The Fog, Guy Smith’s The Crabs, Steven King’s stuff and Peter Benchley’s The Deep (which might’ve been more like dark blue.)

It’s worth mentioning that PAYBACK – a heist novel about a gang of anti-capitalist teenage thieves – has little relationship to my summer reading all those years ago. PAYBACK is a thrilling series of robberies, an exploration of direct action and its consequences, a story following powerful and idealistic young activists as they target corrupt organisations and redistribute wealth to the needy. It’s Robin Hood meets The 39 Steps. Nothing like King or Herbert.

Other than, of course, in the colour of its cover.

Black books do special things when you take them to a sunny beach or pool, and this is why I love them:

1. They absorb heat and nearly burn your fingers when you pick them up.

2. The glue that binds them melts faster than other books and the pages begin to separate.

3. Sand attaches itself to the tacky glue between the pages in fine lines. The book almost crunches as you leaf through it.

4. The covers often curl as they dry so your summer read assumes the shape of that elongated ‘m’ we use to indicate distant birds in childhood pictures.

5. Splashed swimming pool water gathers in beads on black covers. Each becomes a super-heated pinprick before it evaporates.

So there you go, folks – five very good reasons to pack PAYBACK in your suitcase this summer!

Cover design by Helen Crawford-White  studiohelen.co.uk

PAYBACK by M. A. Griffin out now in paperback (£7.99, Chicken House)

#Payback

Follow M.A. Griffin on twitter @fletchermoss and find out more at http://www.chickenhousebooks.com

Do check out the other stops on the tour.

Thanks to Laura Smythe and Chicken House for the copy which I’m really looking forward to reading and burning my hands on in this heatwave.

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Writing Retreat – Guest Post

Have you ever wanted to be whisked away somewhere remote to get that book inside you written? And do you wish that you had expert guidance and support to help you while you did it?

If you answered yes to the above questions then you should definitely continue reading this post which is going to tell you all about the Atelier des Ecrivains (Writers’ Workshop) retreat.

Becky and Sarah who are co-hosting the writing retreat, and are both writers themselves, know that there are lots of people who harbour a desire to write a book but may either lack the confidence, the skills or the headspace to actually do it. They also know from experience that removing yourself from your daily life, with all of its pressures and interruptions, and coming together with like-minded people can be a great way to overcome those barriers. Where better to do that than in a beautiful 18thcentury manor house outside one of France’s prettiest villages, Aubeterre?

Helen Cross, author of My Summer of Love, which was turned into a Hollywood film starring Emily Blunt and whose other novels, screen and radio plays entertain people all over the world will be leading the workshop. She is an experienced teacher of creative writing and currently teaches on the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, UK. The combination of skills and experience offered by Helen, Becky and Sarah will be invaluable to authors at all stages of their writing journey.

ABOUT THE WORKSHOPS

Getting started – Thursday 20 to Monday 24 September, 2018
For people at the beginning of their writing journey, this workshop will help you develop your writing skills, find your creative voice, thematic material and literary style: create credible characters and reveal them through dialogue and active, dramatic scenes: and build your world – structure, point-of-view, and narrative voice. With a small group of up to 10 writers, we are promoting an environment of creativity and support with one-to-one feedback sessions and time for questions and answers.

Keeping going – May, 2019
For people who have already started their writing journey, this workshop will enhance your skills even further, help you overcome barriers and enable you to shape your words into the brilliant piece of work you know it has the potential to be.

Getting published – September 2019
For people reaching the conclusion of a writing project, this workshop is designed to support the final stages of writing and editing, and will contain lots of useful information about how to get published and successfully market your book.

You can find out more information about the hosts, venue and workshops here. To book your place or to contact the hosts, you can visit the website here.

I don’t know about you but I would very much like to go on this writing retreat. Maybe I should start doing the lottery.

Have you ever been on a retreat of any kind? How was it?

@fayerogersuk

BEYOND THE FINAL PROBLEM – CONTINUING THE TRADITION OF SHERLOCK HOLMES #ArtieOnTour – guest post by author Robert J Harris

The most famous crime in all of the Sherlock Holmes stories takes place in The Final Problem when Arthur Conan Doyle attempts to kill off his fictional detective, sending him over the Reichenbach Falls in the clutches of his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty. Doyle felt that Holmes had become a distraction from his more serious works. However, it only turned out to be a case of attempted murder. Such was Holmes’ popularity that Doyle was finally forced to resurrect him and bring him back to Baker Street for yet more adventures.

Such is the irresistible appeal of those gas lit tales, many other people have taken up the task of telling Holmes’ further adventures in books, films, radio and television. Some have been worthwhile, others not so much.

My own tribute to the Great Detective has not been to place him in a story of my invention but to find another way to recreate the atmosphere and excitement of Doyle’s masterpieces. I imagined that while he was still a schoolboy in Edinburgh, the young Conan Doyle (‘Artie’) had a series of adventures which would provide him with the inspiration for the stories he would write some years later. This would also give the reader some insight into the man behind the detective.

From letters he wrote in his boyhood we gain a picture of young Artie as an active, sporty young boy, who occasionally gets into fights and scrapes and loves reading adventure stories. Adding to this the details of his family life and the world of Victorian Edinburgh created the background for these new adventures.

And then came the first story itself: The Gravediggers’ Club.

The most notorious criminals in the history of Edinburgh are surely Burke and Hare, the body-stealers. This suggested the central mystery of the novel: why is someone digging up dead bodies from graveyards all over Edinburgh? By adding plenty of fog and borrowing a gigantic hound from The Hound of the Baskervilles (by far the most famous Holmes novel) I had all the elements of a classic thriller.

It was important to me, however, that my Artie should be true to life and not simply a miniature version of Sherlock Holmes, spotting clues the police are too dim to notice and making brilliant deductions at every turn. What he does have is courage and determination and a powerful sense of what is right.

Detective stories as such were not a recognised genre at this time – it was Conan Doyle who really established them as such. So Artie couldn’t possibly be attempting to imitate some fictional detective he’d read about. Only gradually does he develop those skills, a process that will continue throughout the series.

In The Gravediggers’ Club Artie has his own reason for pursuing the mystery. In The Vanishing Dragon he is actually hired to investigate a series of suspicious accidents that have befallen a magic show. These are his first steps on the road to becoming the man who will create Sherlock Holmes. I hope everyone enjoys joining him on that journey.

Do come back tomorrow to see what I thought of the first two adventures in the series and make sure to check out the other stops on the tour.

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