Tag Archives: ebook

Guest Post: Louise Mangos on Writing What You Know

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It is my pleasure today to welcome Louise Mangos to the blog to talk about her intimate knowledge of the setting for her debut psychological thriller ‘Strangers on a Bridge‘.

Louise writes novels, short stories and flash fiction, which have won prizes, been placed on shortlists, and have also been read on BBC radio. Her debut psychological thriller ‘Strangers on a Bridge‘ is published by HQ Digital (Harper Collins) in ebook, paperback and on audio. You can connect with Louise on Facebook and Twitter or visit her website where there are links to more of her stories. Louise lives in Switzerland with her husband and two sons.

Vic x

Portrait with orange dress

The much-travelled author Mark Twain allegedly said “write what you know. Having spent much of my time in central Switzerland for the past twenty years, the one thing I feel confident in portraying in my novels is the setting. Both my first and second novels are set in and around the Swiss Alps. 

Strangers on a Bridge begins with ex-pat Alice Reed out for a jog one morning when she sees a man – Manfred – about to jump from the Lorzentobelbrücke. As this is rather a mouthful for English readers, it is referred to in the novel as the Tobel Bridge. In reality it is a notorious suicide hotspot that has sadly found its way into many local newspaper articles over the years.


A quick trip on the bike to re-visit the setting for the first scene on the Tobel Bridges.

The area surrounding the village where my protagonist Alice lives is called the Aegerital, or the Aegeri Valley. It is a cleft of land gouged out of alpine granite with rivers running in and out of the jewel at its centre – the Aegeri Lake. Our family moved there twenty years ago when my first son was six months old. Many of the difficulties Alice faces in Strangers on a Bridge were challenges I also faced when we first moved, speaking no German and pre-occupied with a new baby. 

But that’s where the similarities end. I’m happy to report I never witnessed a person wanting to jump from the Tobel Bridge, and I was certainly never stalked by anybody. I should also point out that we worked hard to integrate into the community we now live in. We made an early effort to learn the language, and have experienced friendliness and acceptance from our neighbours ever since.

During the creative and theoretical modules for my Masters in Crime Writing at UEA, two of my professors, Henry Sutton and Tom Benn, talked about the importance of setting in a novel. They encouraged the students to incorporate the setting to such an extent that it effectively becomes one of the characters. 

No matter where a crime novel is set, this atmosphere must be conveyed to the reader to enhance the tension. This might include how a setting behaves through the seasons, for example, the environmental influences in extreme weather conditions.

Strangers on a Bridge begins in spring, the perfect opening for any novel. The season of births and beginnings. Alice is out for a spring jog when she sees Manfred on the bridge and is convinced he is about to jump. Her shock jars alarmingly with the beautiful alpine spring surroundings.

A great deal of research was still undertaken to make the narrative of this psychological thriller believable. Although I am familiar with many of the rules and traditions in Switzerland, police and legal procedures had to be subsequently verified and checked.

But with the setting clearly cemented as one of the characters in the narrative, it was a pleasure to embellish the plot to match the drama of the Alps.

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The view of the Aegerital from Alice’s running trail in spring.

Guest Post: Jennifer C Wilson on ‘The Last Plantagenet?’

Today, my friend Jennifer C Wilson joins us on the blog to talk about her first foray into self-publishing with her upcoming novella ‘The Last Plantagenet?‘ which is available to pre-order now. 

Having the opportunity to edit this novella, I’ve had a sneak peak and I recommend that you seek it out immediately. 

Vic x

Hi Victoria, thanks for kindly asking me to visit your blog again today, for the launch of ‘The Last Plantagenet?‘, my new time-slip romance novella. As well as being my first foray into time-slip (and romance, for that matter), it’s also the first time I have self-published anything.

It’s been a nerve-racking experience, getting everything ready in time for my self-imposed publication date of 2nd October, to tie in with the birthday of my leading man, Richard III (obviously…). I’m really lucky to have had beautiful artwork, from Soqoqo Design, and of course your good self to review and edit the content, but I’ve still been having nightmarish visions of people opening the ebook on the morning, and finding blank pages, every other word missing: the usual frets!

But it’s still been fun, and definitely an experience I’m not afraid to repeat, if another idea strikes me.

The Last Plantagenet?‘ follows Kate, as she goes out for a relaxing day at a joust re-enactment at Nottingham Castle. All is well, until the rain starts. Here’s the opening scene, to whet your appetite…

2nd July 2011, Nottingham Castle

The fireplace hadn’t looked like a time-portal. Of all the things flying through Kate’s mind as she gazed around the chaos that was the medieval kitchen, that was the one that stood out.

It was meant to be just an ordinary Saturday. A blissful day, enjoying the pounding of hooves cantering around the grounds of Nottingham Castle. Kate had relaxed for once, watching a re-enactment of the Wars of the Roses, celebrating the town’s part in King Richard III’s fateful final few weeks, as he travelled to Leicester to meet Henry Tudor, and his fate at Bosworth. As an avid fan of the period, it was Kate’s perfect Saturday, watching the actors in their armour or fine costumes. She meandered between the stalls, ate her fill of food from the time, and absorbed the atmosphere, enjoying a break from the drudgery of real life. Now, full of roasted chicken and mulled wine, even in the middle of summer, Kate was casually forgetting the accounts she knew she had to settle when she returned to the office on Monday morning. So few of the re-enactments Kate had watched featured Richard III as the hero of their piece, and yet, here he was, taking centre stage, just where he belonged in Kate’s opinion. Too many documentaries, plays and other works cast him as an evil, power-grabbing, child-murdering maniac; today, he was just as she had always pictured him – a man doing his best, no worse than any other medieval monarch, who fell foul of Tudor propaganda. Kate had always supported the underdog, she thought as she wandered around the tents, and Richard was certainly that.

But then the rain started. A summer storm, Kate decided, ignoring the gathering clouds for as long as she could, but once the heavens opened, they refused to close, drenching everyone to the skin as they ran for cover. Ducking inside, Kate found herself standing in front of the former kitchen’s grand fireplace, flickering away with fake, LED flames, fake meat roasting on fake spits. A clap of thunder made Kate jump, causing her bag to slide off her shoulder and in amongst the ‘burning’ logs; she leant in to retrieve it, just at the moment the first bolt of lightning struck.

In a heartbeat, the world went black.


It’s been fun spending time with a version of Richard III who’s actually alive for a change, rather than a ghost. I’ll be having an online launch party on the evening of 2nd October to celebrate the release – visit my Facebook page for more details, and to get involved.

And now, it’s back to my ghosts, as I’m working on what I hope will at some point become the third Kindred Spirits novel, exploring the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey. With over three thousand people buried or commemorated in there, there’s a pretty large cast of characters to choose from!

About Jennifer

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who spent much of her childhood stalking Mary, Queen of Scots (initially accidentally, but then with intention). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consulting since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to develop her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. She is also part of The Next Page, running workshops and other literary events in North Tyneside.

Jennifer’s debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, was released by Crooked Cat Books in October 2015, with Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile following in June 2017. She can be found online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as at The Next Page’s website. Her time-slip historical romance, The Last Plantagenet? is available for pre-order, and on sale from 2nd October 2017.

Getting to Know You: Matt Hilton

Today I’m super-thrilled to have Matt Hilton speaking to me on the blog today. We met earlier this week at South Shields’ library on World Book Night and he’s kindly supporting the I Am Woman campaign. Now he tells us about his writing life. Enjoy.
Vic x
Where do you get your ideas from?
I’ve got a pretty wild imagination, I guess. I’m not the type of author who plots deeply or takes notes or such before I launch into writing a book. I tend to see a scene, a bit like watching a movie inside my head, and I write down what I see., Often this will take me off on tangents I never expect, and keeps the writing fresh and exciting for me. I think if I were to plot a book out I’d feel stifled by it and never make headway. By ‘imagining’ a scene, I get to play all the time so it’s always good fun.
What do you like most about writing? What do you dislike (if anything)?
I love the process of putting words on paper (actually, I write directly onto a computer screen) and finding that at the end of many hours I’ve actually got an entire story. The real joy is when a reader then sits down and enjoys the finished product. It’s why I write – probably why most authors write. We want readership! The real satisfaction is knowing that all your hard work has been appreciated, and also that you get to touch someone with your words in a way you’d never get to do in real life. I’ve had letters from readers telling me that I’ve got them reading again, and it’s a terrific feeling when you hear that. Or I’ve inspired someone to get down and write the story they’ve also wanted to. Obviously, what I don’t like is the way in which people with an axe to grind attack you personally, because they didn’t like your book. Fair enough, my style of writing won’t suit everyone, but there’s no need for the personal insults that some ‘reviewers’ direct my way. Even if they didn’t like the book, they don’t know me and I am hurt when the slurs are personal or infantile, or quite obviously because the reviewer has another agenda to serve.
What inspires you to write?
I can’t ‘not’ write. It’s not so much an inspiration as it is a need, a compulsion. I don’t feel as if I’ve achieved anything if I don’t get words down on paper (or screen), as if there’s something missing from my day, and often find myself frustrated if I’m separated from my work for more than a couple of days at a time.
Do you find time to read, if so what are you reading at the moment?
Yes, I read as often as I can, and it’s a similar compulsion to my writing. I love words, plain and simple. If I haven’t got a book to hand I’ll read the ingredients on a tube of toothpaste. Of course, my writing takes precedence these days, so I don’t get the opportunity to read as much as I like but try to get through a book or two a week. I tend to read crime, thriller, action or horror stories. The book I’m reading at present is a terrific follow-up to Stuart Neville’s ‘The Twelve’ (AKA The Ghosts of Belfast), called ‘Collusion’, and one I’d heartily recommend – but read The Twelve first.
Which author(s) has/have had the biggest influence on your writing?
I’ve a few that come to mind. Robert E Howard (Conan the Cimmerian etc), Don Pendleton (Mack Bolan: The Executioner), George G Gillman (Edge western series), David Morell (First Blood/Rambo), and more recently admire John Connolly (Charlie Parker), Robert Crais (Elvis Cole/Joe Pike) and Jack (J.A) Kerley (Carson Ryder), but there are many others. I’m also constantly inspired by the current crop of writers whom I’m delighted to include as friends, like established authors Stephen Leather and Adrian Magson, and those on the rise like Col Bury, Lee Hughes, Lily Childs, Paul D Brazill and many more. Some of these names aren’t well-known yet, but they will be.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I’d probably still be a cop. I gave up a career with Cumbria Constabulary to write full-time. But I was in the fortunate position where I could do so. Without the contracts to write my Joe Hunter thriller series, I would still be walking a beat somewhere, dreaming of what I’d write when I got home.
What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?
As far as my writing goes, my strength is that I am prolific (or crazy), my weakness is that I’m easily distracted, and sometimes take on too much at any one time. It’s not unusual for me to be working on two or three different projects at any given time.
What are you working on at the moment?
This will illustrate what I just mentioned: I’m working on book 10 in my Joe Hunter series, plus I’m working on a new action thriller series with a character called James Rembrandt (about which I can’t say much at the minute), I’m writing a couple of short Joe Hunter stories for the USA ebook market, doing line edits on Joe Hunter book 9, page proofing Joe Hunter book 8, and also collecting and editing a short story anthology to be released to eBook, called Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol 1. Told you I was prolific (or crazy).
Where can we find you online?
I’ve a presence in lots of places online, but the main ones are my website http://www.matthiltonbooks.com, my blog http://matthiltonbooks.blogspot.com, on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/MattHiltonAuthor and at Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/MHiltonauthor. But I also pop up all over the place and like to support other bloggers and writers. I’m also the founder of Thrillers, Killers ‘N’ Chillers webzine, where I am the thriller editor. It’s a terrific resource for new or aspiring writers and can be found here: http://thrillskillsnchills.blogspot.com
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes. never give up. Try to write something each day, and don’t be afraid of rejection. Rejection is all part of being a successful writer, as it helps teach you where you’ve been going wrong. I was writing for thirty years, and had completed seven novels and countless short stories and articles before I was picked up by an agent and publishing house. Take me as an inspiration if you will: I’d no formal training, no education beyond secondary school, hadn’t any contacts, lived out in the sticks of north Cumbria as far away from the publishing centres you can think of, wasn’t a minor celebrity, didn’t even know another writer, but through perseverance managed to hook myself some major publishing deals both in the UK and USA. If I could do it, then anyone with a will can do so as well.
What’s been your proudest moment?
If we’re talking about my writing life there are two stand outs. The first was when I was finally picked up for publication, it was the culmination of a dream. The second was when I was recently asked to open the newly refurbished library in Carlisle where I grew up. It was an incredible honour, and I did so alongside Hunter Davies, who originally opened the library twenty-five years earlier. It’s funny, but I recall sneaking into the original Carlisle library as a little kid, thinking that you had to pay in. I felt like a criminal sneaking around the musty old bookshelves, in awe at the power of the  written word. Then to go back as an ex cop almost forty years later, and one of those who now helps fill those shelves with the written word, it was surreal and incredibly moving to me at the same time.
What’s the title of your latest book?
It’s called ‘No Going Back’ and is the seventh in my Joe Hunter thriller series. In this one, Joe Hunter – a problem solver – goes in search of some missing women in Arizona and comes up against a family as brutal as the desert badlands in which they live.
Download ‘No Going Back’ here: http://amzn.to/I22ALw
Order your copy of ‘No Going Back’ here: http://amzn.to/JGKO2F

Review: ‘Smile’ by Graham Taylor

Having been on the same university course as Graham Taylor, I was lucky enough to see this story through many stages of its development.

This finished article is a lovely debut. ‘Smile’ draws you in and Taylor’s wonderful descriptions helps the reader envisage the setting and characters.

There’s humour as well as drama and intrigue. This ebook is a great short read with a clever twist in the tale.

Vic x

Get your copy of ‘Smile’ here: http://amzn.to/GEyfSn

A Massive Thank You

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting at my desk at work when I decided to look at my Amazon page. To my suprise, I saw that ‘Letting Go’ was number 24 in the Amazon chart for free downloads.

Since then, my anthology has bounced up and down the Top 30 like a yo-yo. Its highest position has been #12 and I am absolutely thrilled. Someone pointed out that I’m only in the chart because ‘Letting Go’ is literally being given away. The way I look at it is: there are thousands of free ebooks available on Amazon and I’ve still made it into the Top 20.

I’d like to thank everyone who has retweeted the link, as well as everyone who has shared it on Facebook. Thanks also to everyone who has invited me to guest on their blogs. Most of all though, I’d like to thank everyone for downloading ‘Letting Go’.

Vic x

‘Letting Go’ is free on Amazon for the next 5 days!

My ebook ‘Letting Go’ is available from Amazon for the next 5 days at the bargain price of, oh wait a minute, FREE. That’s right, you pay absolutely nothing and in return you get eight short stories to read!

If you’re in the UK, you can download ‘Letting Go’ from: http://amzn.to/wK1WdS

If you’re in the US, you get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Letting-Go-ebook/dp/B007A6VAVA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1330874531&sr=1-1

I really hope you enjoy ‘Letting Go’.

Vic x