Friday with Friends: Embracing Change – M.J. Mallon | Meet The Authors @CamillaDowns

Thank you so much to Camilla Downs for featuring me at her blog Meeting the Authors – Friday with Friends – blog post. I am talking about embracing change!

I have a new release, or should I say rerelease!
My debut novel has been re-released with Next Chapter Publishing, Bloodstone The Curse of Time #1. This YA Fantasy novel is primarily prose but each chapter starts with a short poem, so there are masses of poems!
Good grief, it has been an interesting and somewhat daunting experience relinquishing control of my book to someone else – especially as I’m republishing a version and if you are a control freak like I am… there are obstacles, difficulties and invaluable lessons to be learnt.
Metadata, title changes these all effect your novel and make the process much more complicated. But I am hoping that the initial niggles will be overcome and it will be worthwhile.
Change is challenging but sometimes you …

Find out more at source on Camilla’s lovely blog: Friday with Friends: Embracing Change – M.J. Mallon | Meet The Authors

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Bloodstone (The Curse of Time Book 1) is Featured on Books Go Social #YA #Fantasy

“Don’t give up, keep on developing your craft,
read, write, repeat and find your tribe.”

Read the Interview

“Hope appears in conflicting messages and magical paints as a strange creature of skin and bone summons Amelina to the cottage.
In time, she discovers her magical Krystallos skills and hopes to cure her father of the curse of time and perhaps to release Esme from her mental trauma and imprisonment.”

Get the Book

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8 Steps to Side Characters #ARC #Review #Launch @Sacha_Black

MJ’s Review

8 Steps To Side Characters is part of Sacha Black’s many writing craft books – other titles include: 13 steps to Evil, 10 steps to Hero, and the Anatomy Of Prose.

Thank you so much for an ARC copy of 8 steps to side characters which I freely give my review and opinion of.

Sacha Black’s writing style is engaging, humourous, clear and informative. I definitely learnt a lot about writing side characters and also discovered how important these pesky folk are!

I had some laugh out loud moments. Here’s an example:

“If you don’t layer your conflict, and you only have world ending levels of conflict at every opportunity, it’s like electrocuting your readers over and over again.”

Yes, this had me in chortles.

Also, there are many light bulb moments too.

“It’s a misnomer that to create big universal feelings you have to describe giant emotions. It’s actually the small, unique and intangible things about our loved ones that create that effect.”

And…

“One thing all readers share in common is a heartfelt solidarity for a character going through shit times.”

“Just because you craft characters to be one way for the majority of the time, say, kind and tolerant, doesn’t mean they have to be that way or feel that way for the entire story.”

I read this on my kindle and highlighted lots of passages to refer to later.

At the end of each step she summarises all the important ideas that she has mentioned. There are also Questions to consider. Plus she makes it all really clear with real examples from film, and books (with spoiler warnings for well known books.)

Recommendation: Read this! Highly recommended – a must read and one to refer back to. 5 stars.

INSTAGRAM / YOUTUBE TIPS SERIES

She’s been sharing a tip a day from the book in a IGTV / Youtube video series. If you’d like to watch the tips or share the series, you can by visiting her on instagram or YouTube:

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sachablackauthor/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCmGEeUxCRW5ZVxwJ_mEunw 

Live Events

Join Sacha on launch day, 29th July, in her Facebook group for a live Q&A session. If you have any questions about writing, publishing, marketing, her books, unicorns or anything in between, hit her up on sachablack@sachablack.co.uk and let her know, or drop it in the Facebook group/event page here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rebelauthors/

Event: https://fb.me/e/GVZcAjmm  

 Your Side Characters and You LIVES

As part of the launch week, Sacha will be interviewing nine authors all about their side characters, their favorite side characters from books and films as well as their tips for creating better characters. And She’ll be doing that all LIVE on instagram every night at 8pm from the 30th July to the 8th August.

  • Friday 30th July – Mark Lefebvre from Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing Podcast
  • Saturday 31st July Jeff Adams from Big Gay Fiction podcast
  • Sunday 1st August Katlyn Duncan YouTuber and author
  • Monday 2nd August Daniel Willcocks, my Next Level Authors cohost, book coach and horror authors
  • Tuesday 3rd August Crys Cain, host of Write Away, cohost of TASM and author
  • Wednesday 4th August Kristina Stanley, CEO of Fictionary.co
  • Thursday 5th Helen Scheuerer author of fantasy
  • Friday 6th Miranda Bridges romance author
  • Saturday 7th Elaine Bateman urban fantasy author and staff writer at Indie Author Magazine
  • Sunday 8th August – if I haven’t collapsed, will be a solo show from me!

Buying Links:

Universal purchase link textbook: books2read.com/sidecharacters 

Universal purchase link workbook: books2read.com/sideworkbook 

Impressive! Or what…

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MJ’s Book Reviews: Life is like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony #poetry #newrelease @sgc58

“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” Arthur Brisbane 1911.

An image offers an opportunity to see endless possibilities depending on the viewer’s perspective. Where some might see beauty and joy, others imagine sadness and loss of hope.

In this collection, images and syllabic poetry are brought together to tell a story based on the author’s perspective. The poetry explores our human experiences such as love, happiness, hope, aging, friendship, new beginnings, dreams and loss.

The world around us is an amazing playground and source of all our essential needs as well as sensory experiences that bring wonder into our lives. What lies beyond the horizon? What surprises will we discover as a garden bursts into bloom? Where do the night creatures live?

At the end of the collection there are some longer poems celebrating memories of the author’s life of travel, teenage exploits and love of food!

My review

Life is like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony by Sally Cronin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What strikes me about Sally Cronin’s books is the quiet unassuming way in which they appear without too much fanfare. Sally is a wonderful supporter of the indie writing community, so I am glad to be able to give her a little fanfare too by writing a review for her latest book Life is Like A Mosiac: Random Fragments in Harmony. Great title, I’m sure you will agree!

I loved the dedication within with all the names of the people within her writing circles, so lovely.

I’m a big fan of poetry in all its forms, so this book of eclectic poems from Sally Cronin really appealed to me. There are a wide variety, some wise, some amusing, some thoughtful, some just darn well cute. They are all beautiful presented with accompanying photographs taken from various sources.

Favourites include: Farewell to Colourful Friends, Spices, Dreams, Happiness, Mother Nature, Immortality, Hope, Loose Lips, First Steps, The Circle of Life, Finding Clarity, Creatures of The Night, A Toast to Life, Beneath The Redwoods, Persecution in The Garden, Advancing Years, The Crocodile, Silver Lining to Isolation, The Wise Woman’s Apprentice.

Some are illustrated with personal photographs taken from the authors Childhood Memories in Ceylon, and on Summer Holidays, and as she gets a bit older she becomes Rebellious in Frome!

This poetry collection is accessible, unpretentious, (which I love,) and enjoyable. It will make you smile, reflect and bring back your own memories of when you were young, mischievous and perhaps a little difficult too!

In my case, it brought back memories of when I lived abroad in Childhood Memories – Sally’s poetry spoke to me taking me back in time.

Highly recommended – 5 stars

Many thanks to the author for an ARC copy for review which I happily give with no bias.

View all my reviews

My previous reviews for Sally Cronin:

Details about Sally Cronin:

Delighted to promote authors for FREE please see for details: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore

And the new: Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room

Sally’s books are available on Amazon, the Moyhill site and  Smashwords. 

Amazon: Amazon US

Amazon UK: Amazon UK

More reviews can be found on GoodreadsGoodreads

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019-2021/

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Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Update – #Reviews – #Poetry Balroop Singh, #YAFantasy M. J. Mallon, #Romance Jacquie Biggar | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Thank you so much to Sally for this lovely update featuring reviews for Balroop, Jacquie and myself. Do pop over to see Sally’s update  – link below.

Source: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Update – #Reviews – #Poetry Balroop Singh, #YAFantasy M. J. Mallon, #Romance Jacquie Biggar | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Oh and while I am here, just to let you know you can request a review copy of my YA Fantasy Bloodstone via Book Sirens: https://booksirens.com/book/H4SI6L4/Q9PZX3A

and for those who are on Netgalley: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/230784

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MJ’s Book Reviews: Perfect Daughter by @MrsAmandaProuse #BookReview #WomensFiction #Contemporary

Wife. Mother. Daughter. What happens when it all becomes too much?

Jackie loves her family. Sure, her teenage children can be stroppy. Her husband a little lazy. And providing round-the-clock care for her Alzheimer’s-ridden mother is exhausting. She’s sacrificed a lot to provide this safe and loving home, in their cramped but cosy semi with a view of the sea.

All Jackie wants is for her children to have a brighter future than she did. So long as Martha, the eldest, gets into university and follows her dreams, all her sacrifice will be worth something… won’t it? 

My Review

Perfect Daughter (No Greater Strength, #1)Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With a title like that I was bound to be drawn in! I’m a daughter, and have two daughters of my own.

This is an immersive story about Jacks and her family, her husband Pete, her mum Ida and her daughter Martha. It’s also a story about regrets, the choices we make, the fears that we could have taken a different path and perhaps had a more exciting life. Perfect Daughter doesn’t shy away from life’s difficulties and real struggles: looking after an aging parent with Alzheimer and keeping the family on an even keel especially when life has a way of veering off course bringing more grief in its wake.

Perfect Daughter doesn’t hide away from these issues, at times it’s quite difficult reading and at other times it is heart warming and uplifting. It is a generational story focusing on three female family members: Jack’s mother Ida, Jacks and Jack’s daughter situation too.

There is a sense of history repeating itself. Can Jacks discover what really matters beyond material wealth and the freedoms it brings?

Perfect Daughter whizzes back and forward giving us a taste of life when Jacks was younger to the present day difficulties. Should she stay with dependable Pete, (who was there for her through thick and thin,) or should she risk throwing it all away for a promise of rekindled love with someone who could give supposedly give her everything?

Thank you to the author for kindly gifting a hardback copy. My review is freely given and without bias.

Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Authors Website: https://www.amandaprowse.com/

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The Writing Life of: M. J. Mallon – Whispering Stories

Thank you so much to Stacey for this wonderful feature on her blog.

This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author M. J. Mallon, who will be sharing with us details of her writing life, telling us all about her new book ‘Bloodstone‘, which was released on 23rd June 2021 and answering a few fun questions too.

Source: The Writing Life of: M. J. Mallon – Whispering Stories

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Of Bloodstone: The Curse Of Time Book 1 Review – Becoming The Muse

Thank you so much to Beaton for this wonderful review of Bloodstone and pictures of the Grasshopper! Love it!

Source: Of Bloodstone: The Curse Of Time Book 1 Review – Becoming The Muse

And for his wonderful blog tour post which you can read here: https://becomingthemuse.net/2021/07/21/book-blog-tour-bloodstone-mjmallon/

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Media Kit: Bloodstone (The Curse of Time Book 1) @NextChapterPB #YA #Fantasy #Release

BLURB

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house.

When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden path where she encounters Ryder: a charismatic, perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?

A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal.

TRIGGER WARNING: this book contains mention of self-harm, mental health issues and alludes to the potential dangers of sexual attraction, which may trigger younger/sensitive readers.

To read an excerpt: https://www.nextchapter.pub/books/bloodstone

UK Book Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bloodstone-Curse-Time-Book-1-ebook/dp/B097QZBKNY/

US Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/Bloodstone-M-J-Mallon-ebook/dp/B097QZBKNY/

Universal book Link: http://mybook.to/bstmm

To download a free copy via Book Sirens click this link: https://booksirens.com/book/H4SI6L4/Q9PZX3A

Recent Publicity/Features:

Many thanks to the following authors and bloggers for their kind features, reviews and book alerts.

James Cudney Book Alert and Review: https://thisismytruthnow.com/2021/07/11/book-alert-bloodstone-curse-of-time-1-by-m-j-mallon/

Richard Dee Review: https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/new-edition-the-curse-of-time-book-1-bloodstone/

S C Skillman: Blog Tour Excerpt: https://scskillman.com/2021/07/06/blog-tour-bloodstone-the-curse-of-time-book-1-by-mj-mallon/

Sally Cronin New Book On The Shelves: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/07/07/smorgasbord-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-ya-magic-mystery-bloodstone-the-curse-of-time-book-1-by-m-j-mallon/

Darlene Foster Blog Tour https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2021/07/10/blog-tour-for-bloodstone-the-curse-of-time-book-1/

Ritu Bhathal Blog Tour: https://butismileanyway.com/2021/07/10/bloodstone-the-curse-of-time-book-1-by-marjorie_mallon-blogtour/

Allan Hudson Branching Out: http://allanhudson.blogspot.com/2021/06/branching-out-with-returning-author.html

Feature on Alex Pearl’s blog: https://booksbyalexpearl.weebly.com/m-j-mallon.html

To read the reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58417468-bloodstone

This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family captive. A captivating tale! Author Colleen Chesebro – (Editorial Review of 1st Edition – The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone.)

This is a totally different genre for me, but this year I have been reading books by so many exciting new authors that I wanted to give this book a try. This novel would be great for teenagers, or young adults and it follows the magical story of teenager Amelina as she steps into a world of crystals, magic and wonderment. There are some likeable and not so likeable characters and both are really well written. The book weaves a story of the main character learning new skills and you see her personal growth throughout the story. Nothing is what is seems and you want to find out how Amelia will use her enchanted gifts and learn who she can trust. A book packed full of intrigue, believable characters and poetic verse. Author Lizzie Chantree

This is a brilliant book for young adults interested in magic, supernatural, paranormal, fantasy and myth. I found it highly readable and the author’s imagination is phenomenal, as is the fluency of her language and the dazzling way she describes the curious events and characters in her story. I loved the idea of Esme, the girl trapped in the mirror. Author S C Skillman

An intricate fantasy novel with unique supernatural and magical elements which serves as a highly entertaining read. I had a great time reading this novel and exploring the magical world of Amelina full of magic crystals and enchanted mirrors. Author, Editor and Book Reviewer Heena Rathore P.

At its core, this is an emotional tale about a young girl figuring out her identity, learning who to trust, and discovering there is more to the world than the tangible things she’s experienced in the first one-and-a-half decades of her life. Magic Mirrors? Mysterious appearances? Letters that cannot be destroyed? Puzzling trust? What’s a girl to do when she’s followed by two strange boys in the park, only to realize something darker is beginning to happen? Mallon explores the fears in a young girl who wants to break out of her life but doesn’t know where to turn. She’s unsure about trusting friends and family. Ryder, who saves the day, might actually not be the best thing for her… safety… sanity… security. Can she fight the feelings burgeoning around her? Author James Cudney 

This magical young adult story is brimming with fresh imaginative ideas avoiding tropes often associated with fantasy. I was impressed with the unique vivid visual descriptions which brought both the settings and characters to life and the wonderful standard of writing throughout the story. A magical mystery unfolds for the main character Amelina, who makes discoveries during the plot, so we can enjoy seeing her grow in confidence and skill. The story involves complex content which was difficult to follow initially but becomes more understandable as the story develops. The introduction of the antagonist, Ryder, really helps us to root for Amelina. He is well written, and I enjoyed that he wasn’t given the typical look of a baddie but rather slowly and disconcertingly reveals his darker side, inserting himself between Amelina and her friends. I can see this being the start of a fabulous young adult series and hope there are more books to come! Sarah Northwood Poet and Author

Amelina is written so well. There is a part of her that all of us will recognise and emphasise with. At that awkward age where nothing fits and at the same time you feel as if you can conquer the world. Darkness creeps in slowly in the form of Ryder who at first seems the answer to all Amelina desires, or is he? Author Adele Marie Park

The overall world-building creates a wonderful, spiritual atmosphere. There’s a bit of poetry at the start of every chapter, a nice touch which leads us into the action. The story bravely tackles issues of mental health and self-harm, but in such a sensitive way that it can only help improve understanding.  Author Richard Dee

Amelina is a teenage girl whose world has been turned upside down by a curse within a world where magic is hidden and most don’t seem to know of its existence. In fact, it seems she’s a descendant of a line of magic-wielding enchanters who have a special relationship with crystals. But with this curse, her father is time-ravaged, a girl is trapped in her mirror, and her family is falling apart. There are a lot of unanswered questions come the end of the book, so be on the lookout for more in the series. There are mentions of delicate issues such as cutting and anorexia, both handled with care, and a séance, but I’d recommend this book for older teens and people who love magical stories that involve power within crystals, curses, and unexplainable happenings. Author Rachael Ritchey

This is a wonderful YA fantasy read. It’s very different from others I’ve read and I say this in the most positive manner. One way or is unique is through the use of original short poetry at the beginning of each chapter providing a clue to the chapter content. It is very well done. I do love originality. The whole work has a magical feel about it which draws the reader in with a yearning to learn more about all of the characters and their plight. My favourite characters are, Esme… The girl trapped in the mirror, and Shadow, the black cat. These two characters alone were enough to keep me rooted. Meanwhile, on the serious side of things, there are so many issues going on in this work in addition to that of dealing with a dysfunctional family. One’s familiarity will be tested and emotions may arise. That aside, when you add magic, a black cat, and a guitar and music into the mix… What is there not to love about this work? Author/Reviewer Kevin Cooper – (Previous edition of Book – The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone. )

Amelina is an indomitable heroine who will not rest until she solves the mystery and sets the world to rights. The device of magic crystals as a source of magic is novel and works well. There are loose ends that are clearly available to be addressed in future episodes of this series. As a precursor story that is relatively complete in itself, … as an introduction to the storyline and invitation to read on. MJ Mallon is not afraid to broach the risks that young girls on the cusp are subject to in these unruly times. Both physical violence and dangerous sexual attraction are broached in this tale.  Poet Frank Prem.

Beautifully written and poetic fantasy novel that perfectly sustains mystery and drama throughout the pages. The characters are very vivid and the world is rich in detail and atmosphere. Marjorie is excellent at painting imaginative and believable scenes with words and magic. A fantastic debut! Looking forward to her next book. Author/Illustrator Alina Surnaite

Here are a couple of beautiful images from the wonderfully talented Carolina Russo created for me of my characters – Esme – The Mirror Girl… and Eruterac – The Creature.

Images courtesy of Carolina Russo: https://yesterdayafter.com/

AUTHOR BIO

M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of writing began inspired by their vivid storytelling. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery, heart-warming smile to greet her.

MJ’s writing credits also include a multi-genre approach: paranormal, best-selling horror, supernatural short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She worked with some amazing authors and bloggers compiling an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown and she has written a spin off poetry collection, Lockdown Innit.

She’s been blogging for many moons at her blog home Kyrosmagica, (which means Crystal Magic,) where she celebrates the spiritual realm,her love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.

MJ’s motto is…

To always do what you Love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even if it appears that the odds are stacked against you like black hearted shadows.

Her favourite genre to write is

Fantasy/magical realism because life would be dull unless it is sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic!

So excited about Bloodstone and happy to say that I am making great progress on the sequel which I hope to submit to Next Chapter Publishing soon.

Please comment below with your thoughts on the 2nd edition of this first book in the Curse of Time series.

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MJ Interviews @AlexBPearl #author #interviews

Hi Alex welcome to my blog. It’s great to be able to return the favour, and to thank you for the lovely feature interview you did for me recently on your blog.

Alex Pearl is an extremely shortsighted copywriter, author, ghost writer, travel writer & artist.

MJ: I love the premise of your YA novel Sleeping with the Blackbirds – a darkly humorous modern fairy tale story – which tackles many important topics: bullies, homelessness, single mums and abusive parents. How did you get the idea for the story?

ALEX: That’s a tricky one. The story came to me gradually, and the circumstances in which it was written was fairly bizarre. I was working for an ad agency at the time that was going through a global merger, and work dried up while this was all going on. So I had time to think about my first book. Strangely enough, the title came to me before the story became fully formed. And the rough outline of the story involving the schoolboy Roy Nuttersley leading a miserable life with awful parents and school bullies looming large in his life, and of course, the birds who try to assist him – these were ideas that I had in my head before I started writing the thing. I think the idea of a young boy and birds may have come to me because my son at that time used to imitate seagulls, and he was quite brilliant at it. And it’s no coincidence that we have a 400 year-old-oak tree that towers over our own garden, just as one does in Roy Nuttersley’s. But the details of the story evolved as I wrote it. That said, the ending to the story, which many people didn’t see coming and seem to have enjoyed, came to me before I’d started writing it. So it was a case of knowing how it started and how it ended but not knowing much else until I started to write.

MJ: I believe your debut was published in 2011. Are you surprised at how your writing path has changed/developed since then?

ALEX: Not really. I’m a bit of a chameleon, probably because of my background in advertising and the fact that copywriters are always briefed to adopt a certain tone of voice that is suitable for the audience they are addressing. So for instance, you’d write in a certain formal style when talking about an investment trust to readers of The Telegraph, and a very different lighter tone of voice when talking about Smarties to children and mums. And my approach to writing books is the same. I’d like to have a go at any genre.

MJ: On your Amazon profile, I was amused to read that you are perhaps the only human being on this planet to have been inadvertently locked in a record shop on Christmas Eve. How did this happen? And did you manage to have your Christmas dinner?

ALEX: To this day, I’m not entirely sure how it happened. All I can remember is stepping into the shop in broad daylight. I think it must have been about 4.00 in the afternoon. So it wasn’t even normal closing time. I don’t remember hearing people locking up or anything like that. But that’s what they obviously did. And strangely enough, all the lights were left on. So when I finally found the record I was wanting to buy and discovered nobody behind the till my first reaction was one of mild annoyance. Then when coughing loudly and profusely still produced no results, I went behind the till myself and into a back room that was empty. At this point I gave up all hope of spending my pocket money and marched over to the front door and on yanking it hard to get out, nearly pulled my arm off. It was locked. Only then did I realise the full horror of the situation. But thankfully, I’d spotted a telephone in the back room (this was well before mobile phones had been invented), and I called my father who duly called the police, who in turn tracked down a caretaker who lived in Mile End and took over an hour to finally show up with keys to unlock me from my temporary prison. So in answer to your question, yes, thankfully I did get my Christmas dinner. But it must have been a miserable Christmas for the staff who I learned later, were fired.

MJ: Since you were an advertising copywriter, if I were to ask you to write your own slogan, what would it say?

ALEX: Aha! The advertising slogan question. I actually hate slogans. The best ads don’t actually have them. But that’s a subject for another day. I’d settle for something funny. There’s a lovely piece of graffiti that I’d love to have written: ‘Smile they said. Things could be worse. So he did. And they were.’ It doesn’t say anything about me exactly, but its delicious, deadpan irony is the kind of thing I love. So it does tell you something about me indirectly I guess. I suppose I haven’t really answered your question. Hey ho, or ‘La-di-da’ as Dianne Keaton says in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.

MJ: You mention that you are a slow writer, I relate! Is that because you get distracted? What is the slowest aspect of the writing process for you, or perhaps the most difficult part.

ALEX: I get distracted, I procrastinate, I put things off. I’m just generally a bit shambolic and disorganised. And then when I write I tend to take time; writing and rewriting. I’ve read that Douglas Adams used to go backwards and forwards like this and used to end up with mountains of screwed up paper in his bin, which I find reassuring. The hardest and slowest part for me is the planning stage. For my first book ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ planning took up almost as much time as writing. For my second ‘The Chair Man’ planning and research took me for ever – far longer than it took to write the thing. This said, ‘Blackbirds’ didn’t require any research at all. With ‘The Chair Man’ I had to look into the ways terrorists communicated in 2005. It’s not an easy subject to research as you can imagine. But I did find an obscure book written by academics in America that delved into this. I also had to find out about GCHQ and MI5, which again are difficult subjects to research for obvious reasons. Then, of course, I had to get the politics right. So all in all it was something of a challenge.

MJ: I love your book covers. Do you get much input into choosing them? And are you swayed by enticing covers yourself? What are your favourite cover/s and book/s.

ALEX: I’m glad you mentioned that. I’m very fortunate to have a good friend who is a serious, professional advertising photographer. He photographed and designed both my covers. I love his work, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer using John because you know whatever he produces is going to be fantastic. For ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ he took an atmospheric shot on Hampstead Heath and used an excellent typographer to design a special typeface for the title.

And for ‘The Chair Man’ he created this strong silhouette in the studio and again used a special typeface to create the title. Interestingly, John used a similar silhouette technique for the film poster he shot for Guy Ritchie’s ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.’

MJ: Awesome! I love the black and white style that you use on your blog to platform so many authors. How did that come about? What made you choose that style?

ALEX: Thank you, Marjorie. I wanted to keep the style of the website simple, consistent and stylish. So I deliberately kept the typeface reasonably large sans serif in grey, which always looks classy, and decided that all portraits should be in black and white. Besides creating a distinctive house look, it also gives the books the prominence they need, as they are always reproduced in full colour. Many people have commented on the look of the site, and some love the fact that it’s so very readable. There’s nothing worse than having to squint at tiny type on the screen that you have to blow up.

SLEEPING WITH THE BLACKBIRDS

Eleven-year-old schoolboy, Roy Nuttersley has been dealt a pretty raw deal. While hideous parents show him precious little in the way of love and affection, school bullies make his life a misery. So Roy takes comfort in looking after the birds in his garden, and in return the birds hatch a series of ambitious schemes to protect their new friend. As with the best-laid plans, however, these get blown completely off course – and as a result the lives of both Roy and his arch tormentor, Harry Hodges are turned upside down – but in a surprisingly good way.

“Wonderful images and thought-provoking scenes.” Bramwell Tovey, composer & broadcaster

“The strength of the author’s voice held me captivated long after turning the last page. With the wit of JK Rowling, Alex Pearl has definitely earned his place in the young adult fiction hall of fame.” Lisa McCombs, Readers’ Favorite

“A delightful fairy story that deals sensitively and compellingly with modern-day issues like homelessness, single mums and abusive parents.” George Layton, actor, screenwriter and bestselling author.

THE CHAIR MAN

Michael Hollinghurst is a successful corporate lawyer living a comfortable, suburban life in leafy North West London. But on 7 July 2005, his life is transformed when he steps on a London underground train targeted by Islamist suicide bombers. While most passengers in his carriage are killed, Michael survives the explosion but is confined to a wheelchair as a result.   Coming to terms with his predicament and controlling his own feelings of guilt as a survivor conspire to push him in a direction that is out of character and a tad reckless. In a quest to seek retribution, he resorts to embracing the internet and posing as a radical Islamist in order to snare potential perpetrators. Much to his surprise, his shambolic scheme yields results and is brought to the attention of both GCHQ and a terrorist cell. But before long, dark forces begin to gather and close in on him. There is seemingly no way out for Michael Hollinghurst. He has become, quite literally, a sitting target.”The nearest I ever got to a “terrorist incident” was in East London, when I heard the IRA bomb go off in Docklands in 1996. I cannot predict my reaction were I to be caught up personally in such events, but I hope I would not go the same way as Michael Hollinghurst, the central figure in this entertaining and elaborately plotted novel. It is a gripping thriller that repays careful and close reading (and I will certainly read it again).” Graham Smith

MJ: If you could share your experiences and thoughts whilst writing The Chair Man?
ALEX: Once I had worked out the story in some detail and written a synopsis, and had taken copious notes from research sources both online and from books, I felt able to start writing. And the writing process is far more enjoyable and liberating than the planning and research, which I don’t especially enjoy. But it’s the ammunition I need – a kind of road map if you like. Without it I just don’t know where I’m going and I simply don’t have the confidence to write. I envy people who are pantsters and can just sit down and write. I just can’t do it. I tried it once and after 15,000 words I dried up. I still have the unfinished manuscript somewhere. My daughter nagged me for ages to finish it, so I wrote ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ instead.
MJ: I believe The Chair Man is your thriller debut. Have you any plans to write any more thrillers and if so what topic/backdrop do you plan to use?
ALEX: I knew you’d ask me that. I really want to write a sequel to ‘The Chair Man’ but am struggling to come up with a storyline that I’m happy with. I know how the first half of the novel kicks off, but it’s the last two thirds that have so far eluded me. Perhaps I’ll resolve it. We’ll see.
MJ: How did you become an author? And do you think it has changed you?
ALEX: It just happened. I suppose I’ve always toyed with the idea of writing fiction, but never really had the confidence that I could do it. But once you have an idea in your head, writing it isn’t actually that difficult. Has it changed me? No. Not one bit.
MJ: Have you a favourite character in The Chair Man? Or a particular character that you had great difficulty developing, or who altered in a way you did not expect.
ALEX: That’s a really good question. And the answer is yes. Surprisingly, I ended up liking one of the terrorists Qssim who is a very complex character. I originally intended him to be pretty nasty, which he is initially. But as the book develops his character develops, too and he becomes a much more sympathetic character that you can relate to. It’s interesting that some readers find him more likeable than the protagonist who is a victim of a terrorist attack. 

MJ: What are your writing plans for the future? ALEX: If I can plan a sequel to ‘The Chair Man’ I will definitely write it. Time will tell. I’m also planning to get back into painting, which I haven’t done for many years. I used to paint large abstract paintings on glass and exhibit them. I’m hoping to produce enough new pieces for an exhibition in the next year or two. You can view some of my work here: http://glasspaintingsbyalexpearl.weebly.com

Wow, I’m impressed! And so jealous, I wish I could paint.

MJ. Is there one marketing tip you would like to share?
ALEX: I’m no expert at marketing. But I have found that offering a free ebook and using services like The Fussy Librarian to promote it can be quite effective. I have seen around 800 copies downloaded in one day. But services do vary. Ereader News Today managed to shift 1,000 copies on one occasion and only 300 on another. I was rather pleased with myself when I placed a free ad on Nextdoor.co.uk for residents of NW3 which is the postcode where my thriller is set. Doing so led to 100 downloads in a day and three reviews. And that cost me nothing.

Author Bio

Alex’s first novel ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’, a darkly humorous urban fantasy, written for children and young adults, was initially published by PenPress in 2011. It has since become a Kindle bestseller in the US. In 2014, his fictionalised account of the first British serviceman to be executed for cowardice during the First World War was published by Mardibooks in its anthology, ‘The Clock Struck War’. A selection of his blog posts is also available in paperback under the title ‘Random Ramblings of a Short-sighted Blogger.’ In 2019, his psychological thriller, ‘The Chair Man’ that is set in London in 2005 following the terrorist attack on its public transport system, was published as an ebook by Fizgig Press. The paperback followed in 2020.
Alex lives in NW London with his wife and two children who are far smarter than their old man.
He is quite possibly the only human being on this planet to have been inadvertently locked in a record shop on Christmas Eve.

This is Alex’s Linktree link:

https://linktr.ee/AlexPearl

Alex Pearl Linktree QR code:

You can visit his website at http://booksbyalexpearl.weebly.com

Love the sound of Alex’s books.

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