It’s my pleasure today to share a sneak peek from ‘Half a World Away‘ by Sue Haasler. I really hope this extract whets your appetite.
My thanks to Dome Press and Sue Haasler for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour for this brilliant book.
HALF A WORLD AWAY
As he reached the door of his flat, out of habit, he glanced down the stairwell and something caught his eye. Picking up the coal bucket he’d left by the door, he walked down the next flight of steps. The paper was lying crumpled in a corner, kicked and trodden on by various passing feet. He picked it up, glanced at it, and dropped it into the bucket as if it was toxic. He walked quickly back up the steps and almost forgot to breathe until he was safely inside the flat, door double-locked.
He took off his scarf, folded it neatly and placed it on the polished surface of the old hall table. Opening a drawer in the table he took out a notebook. The Yellowish pages were ruled in faint grey squares. Picking up a pen, he entered the date – April 17th 1987 – and the name of his elderly neighbour, Frau Bergman. Next to that he noted the time and the word COAL. There was nothing else to add, so he picked up a ruler, drew a neat line and then made another entry for her neighbours. Flicking back a couple of pages, he found he already had quite a few entries about these neighbours, the Schmidts. The son: who came and went at all hours of the day and had recently adopted punk clothing. The mother: who occasionally flaunted carrier bags from Western supermarkets. The father: who seemed overly fond of drink.
The piece of paper lying at the bottom of the empty coal bucket made him feel uncomfortable. He picked it out with a thumb and forefinger and placed it on the table. Who had brought such a thing in to his house? He’d bet it was that Schmidt boy from upstairs. He looked just the type to go round with his pockets full of this kind of rubbish. Peace? Disarmament? It was nothing but thinly-disguised propaganda against the state. Very poorly printed, too. He placed it between the endpapers at the back of the book, closed the book and replaced it in the desk drawer. Behind it were five other identical books, all full of information. Each little entry on its own was nothing. It was all about the patterns, the trends. It was about being observant and meticulous, ensuring nothing was missed. It was about safety.
Hearing the voices on the stairs, Detlef Ohm returned to the peephole and softly brushed the cover aside.
About ‘Half a World Away‘
East Berlin, 1987.
Alex is a talented saxophonist, flirting with ‘Western’ jazz as well as girls. When he meets Nicky – a beautiful English girl visiting East Berlin as an au pair – she makes him feel that his dreams could become reality.
Detlev’s love for his country has always been enough for him, until Alex makes him feel things he never thought possible. But what use is his passion when its object doesn’t even know he exists?
As Alex meets a new group of musicians, he moves closer to influences considered subversive by a state that has eyes and ears everywhere – and Detlev’s unrequited feelings threaten to endanger them all.
Sue Haasler was born and brought up in Co. Durham and studied English Literature and Linguistics at Liverpool University.
After graduating, she moved to London and worked for three years as a residential social worker. Since then, she has lived as an administrator for a disability charity, which recruits volunteer carers for disabled adults.
Many of the volunteers are from abroad and this is how she met her husband, who is from the former East Berlin.
Sue has written four books, ‘True Colours‘, ‘Time after Time‘, ‘Two’s Company‘ and ‘Better Than the Real Thing‘. ‘Two’s Company‘ was optioned for film by Warner Bros.
She has been commissioned by the BBC to write an authorized tie-in to ‘Holby City‘. She is married with an adult daughter and lives in London.
Posted in Blog Tour, Books, Writing
Tagged book, Books, commissioned, disability, disabled, English, film, graduating, Linguistics, literature, novel, novels, written
Our penultimate 2017 reviewer is the lovely June Lorraine Roberts.
Tomorrow is my annual review so I’d just like to thank all of the participants who’ve given their precious time and shared their experiences with us.
Vic xDo you have a favourite memory professionally from 2017?
I was a Bouchercon Toronto panelist: So Many Books, So Little Time and was very proud. Akashic Books published my flash fiction – The Hong Kong Deal, and I joined Sisters in Crime. All great things.
And how about a favourite moment from 2017 generally?
It was an incredible year for making new friends. From our US winter home to Bouchercon, and Noir at the Bar Toronto, it’s been terrific.
Favourite book in 2017?
It’s a toss-up: The Second Girl by David Swinson plus spending hours with David at Noir at the Bar and Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless – I hope to meet her one day.
Favourite film in 2017?
Another toss-up: Atomic Blonde (tough & zany) or Baby Driver (all-round fabulous).
Favourite song of the year?
Ed Shereen – Shape of You: great hook and rhythm.
Any downsides for you in 2017?
My brother died December 1st, he was funny, profane and loved beer. I feel hollow with him gone.
Are you making resolutions for 2018?
What are you hoping for from 2018?
Further flash fiction published, and my first short story. More writing, less thinking about writing. Also new friends from Bouchercon in St. Pete’s and my community at large. Reading and dealing.
I first “met” Alison Bruce on Twitter several years ago but this year was the first time we’ve ever met in real life. It was an absolute pleasure to spend time in Alison’s company and I hope it won’t be six more years until I see her again.
As you’ll see from her review of 2017, Alison has been very busy this year so I’m very grateful for her taking the time to share her year with us.
I think my favourite memory from 2017, is the day I handed in the manuscript for I Did It for Us. I was at Goldsboro Books’ Crime in the Court event a couple of years ago when, in an instant, I had the idea for the book. By pure coincidence, the day I finished the final edits was also the day of Crime in the Court and it felt like the perfect way to celebrate delivering a book.
My most memorable moments always involve my children, Lana, and Dean and my husband Jacen, but 2017 is also going to be remembered as the year I (belatedly) started at university. I’m taking Crime and Investigative Studies. I’m excited by the prospect of adding a new angle to my writing.
For my favourite book of 2017 I have to pick Deadlier which is an anthology of 100 crime stories written by women. This may seem like an unusual choice when there are so many great novels out there but it’s ideal for me when my reading time is in short blocks. The book contains stories from many of the more famous ladies of crime but also gives the opportunity to discover new voices too.
Thanks to my son I’m more of an expert on comic books then I should be and, because of this, my film of the year has to be Wonderwoman. When I was a child I loved the television series and I was slightly sceptical about any version of this superhero who didn’t spin round and change clothes in a puff of smoke however, it was a well-crafted combination of action-adventure and comic book styled heroics. If The Sinner has been a film rather than a TV show then I think I would’ve voted for that; it had an interesting premise and kept me hooked right until the end. If you missed it, it’s on Netflix.
My choice of favourite song of the year is split between my daughter’s latest, Hibiscus Heat, which she released for her sixth-form project, and Bad Seed Sown by the Bellfuries; any song which includes the lyrics “the kind of people hip to my kind of evil are few and far between, it lurks, it lies, it feeds on cries, it’s sophisticated and mean” is bound to appeal to a crime writer.
2017 has been pretty good year but I best but I guess the biggest downside has been feeling totally exhausted. It’s been an exciting but I would love to have a few days of doing nothing without feeling guilty about it.
I don’t think I’ll make any new year’s resolutions but I’m looking forward to the year ahead which will begin with the release of my first standalone novel, I Did It for Us on 4th January and its launch at Heffers in Cambridge a week later.
Posted in End of Year Reviews, Review of 2017
Tagged book, characters, film, novel, read, reading, stories, story, write, writer, writers, writing