Happy thanksgiving to all my friends in the US. No turkey here but perhaps I can offer you a freshly brewed coffee from Seville.
This week’s prompt seemed particularly apt as I just bought myself a treat with my birthday money. It was my birthday on the 17th November… I tend to keep this much to myself nowadays. We went away to Seville for a few days holiday and I absolutely loved it. What a wonderful city.
I didn’t buy the new scarf there. Hubby isn’t a big fan of shopping… But I did manage to get him to spend a little bit of time shopping – he bought me some lovely new clothes for my birthday.
Now… the new scarf, is from Tavira in Portugal and it is very colourful! But, this prompt asked for a story to be told in poetry about a grey scarf so I thought why not! Give it a go…
Anyway, the poem isn’t true to life as I have no intention of casting my new scarf aside but a little artistic licence is allowed…
On a whim I bought a colourful scarf Like Joseph’s technicolor dreamcoat It brings me nightmares and trouble! My siblings are so jealous So, I cast it aside I buy a grey scarf No one sees me I sleep well It brings Joy
Me and my grey scarf have such adventures Settling around my neck with ease We paint the world in brilliance Nothing is ever drab now There is colour in dark Fountains of rainbows And no more sighs Light in shade Sunshine Songs
Tomorrow is the launch day for my new poetry, flash fiction and photograph collection. Excited for that! If you’d like to wish me a belated happy birthday I’d love it if you bought a copy of my new book.
Thank you so much to S. C. Skillman for this wonderful 5 star review of my latest poetry, flash fiction and photography book Do What You Love which is currently on preorder on Amazon.
Releases 25th November.
I have read this author’s work before: young adult novels, poetry and flash fiction, and I love her imaginative handling of the magical, the phantasmagorical and surreal. This short book is no exception to the quality of MJ Mallon’s output. I found her exploration of her past life captivating.
We may consider that the inclusion of often very personal material in a compilation of this sort would make it difficult for the outside reader to find a way in. This is not true at all of MJ Mallon’s poetry and prose: in many places, I related so much to what she writes, especially about a daughter ‘flying the nest’ to a faraway country. I particularly loved the device MJ Mallon uses to draw all this together: she presents it as a conversation with Atropos, one of the three Fates in Greek mythology: the Morai.
Atropos presides over the past. I thought this worked extremely well as a central metaphor. It had me googling the three Fates, and reading all about them: Clotho, who spins the threads of life, guardian of the present; Lachesis, who measures the length of life with her measuring rod, and is guardian of the future: and Atropos, who is the guardian of fate and destiny, and who chooses the manner of death by snipping the threads of an individual’s life.
MJ Mallon has had a fascinating and varied life experience: born in Singapore, she spent her childhood in Hong Kong and her teens in Edinburgh. She now lives in Cambridge. Every culture she has lived in, I believe, has influenced her imagination, her interests and her approach as a writer. In this book, we find a compilation of words and images which draw us in: poignant, sensitive, delicate, playful, as she opens up for us her past and present relationships, the places she has loved and spent time in, and her thoughts and feelings about it all.
I’m delighted to be joining Donna’s blog tour for Mark Richards new release today with an interview and review too!
Once upon a time I had a business in financial services: nice suits, smart shirts, stripy ties. But always with a small voice inside me. “Let me out,” it said, “I’m a writer.”
I kept the small voice securely under lock and key but then – in 2009 – my brother died of cancer. It was one of those pivotal moments in life. I either let the small voice out and pursued my dream, or I forgot about it for good. So I sold my business, sent my stripy ties to the charity shop and started writing.
Now my time divides between writing for clients – copywriting, ghostwriting – and writing for myself.
In the spring of 2016 I suffered the latest in a long line of mid-life crises and invited my youngest son to come for a walk with me. That led to ‘Father, Son and the Pennine Way’ – the first of three books ostensibly about walking, but really about my ever-changing relationship with my son.
…And now – in September 2020 – I’ve turned my attention to novels. ‘Salt in the Wounds’ in the first book in the Michael Brady series and, when that’s finished, I’ll look to develop two other crime series.
Michael Brady looked at Sandra Garrity’s face. Grey skin. Bloodshot eyes open. Blue lips, her tongue protruding. “Did you watch your husband die, Sandra? Or did he watch you die?”
“Brilliant. Brady is fast becoming the Yorkshire Rebus.”
Billy and Sandra were childhood sweethearts. Writing their names on a lovelock. Fastening it to the end of Whitby pier. Throwing the key into the sea. A lifetime together. A happy retirement in a peaceful hamlet on the North Yorkshire Moors. Until the day they were brutally murdered. “Whoever did this – he didn’t do it quickly. And he enjoyed it…”
Billy was a fisherman, making a living in the cold, cruel North Sea. One night his boat went down. Two crewmen drowned. Billy survived. Are the families looking for revenge? It’s the obvious conclusion. But why have they waited so long? Why have they killed Billy and Sandra? And why kill them in such a barbaric way? “This isn’t a murder, Mike. It’s an execution. A medieval execution.”
Choke Back the Tears is the fourth book in the Michael Brady series. Kershaw’s away, Brady’s in charge. The bucks stops on his desk. But at least Frankie Thomson is back to help him. For now… There are no clues. No motives. It’s a perfect crime scene. All Brady has is his experience and his intuition. And his small team is gettng smaller by the day… Meanwhile he’s battling problems in his personal life. His daughter Ash wants to know the truth about her mother’s death. Brady can’t put off telling her any longer. He’s having doubts about everything. Even the memory of his dead wife.
Choke Back the Tears is the most personal Brady book yet. He has to find the killer. He has to keep his team together. And he owes his daughter an explanation. Michael Brady needs a friend. But he doesn’t have one…
The Michael Brady books are perfect for fans of J D Kirk, Jason Dalgleish, David Gatward, T G Reid – and anyone who likes characters you’ll come to think of as friends.
“Mark Richards has created such a likeable character in Mike Brady that you want to become his friend, go for a drink with him or give him a hug when he obviously needs one. I’ve read all three Brady books within a week and am waiting for the fourth with bated breath.”
Interview with Mark…
Why write a novel? The brutal truth is that I wrote a novel because I ran out of excuses. Travelling back in time I was a dull bugger in a suit, with a business in financial services. I also had this small voice which tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Let me out, you want to be a writer.” In 2009 my brother died of cancer. It was one of those pivotal moments in life. I realised that I either let the small voice out and did what I really wanted to do, or I forgot about it for good. So I sold my business, sent my stripy ties to the charity shop and started writing – starting a new business as a freelance copywriter. Then the small voice started up again. “Let me out, you want to write a novel.” Fortunately I was too busy – no time. Then lockdown struck in March 2020: I immediately lost two clients in the day job and ran out of excuses. Suddenly I did have the time. I skulked away to the spare room and started Salt in the Wounds… Why mystery/thriller/crime? If I was going to move into commercial fiction I wanted a big market and clearly mystery/thriller/crime comes second after romance. My intention with Mike Brady was to land the books fairly and squarely in the middle of the target – to write books that were at least equal to those that were selling well. I read a couple of books by popular authors and thought I could do that. But the books are really about Michael Brady’s internal journey as much as they’re about the crimes. There’s a great quote – supposedly attributed to Joseph Wambaugh – along the lines of, ‘the best crime fiction isn’t about cops working on cases, it’s about cases working on cops.’ That’s how it is with Brady, and you’ll see the impact of the cases over the course of the series. Would you consider any other genre? I’ve got about 10,000 words of a post-apocalyptic book written. When I lost my clients and ran out of excuses it was really a toss-up between Mike Brady and Rafe Mueller (another damaged soul…) I have got other books out there: I’ve written three books about long distance walks I’ve done with Alex, my youngest son. Again though, they’re not about the walks as much as the relationship between Alex and me. Pop ‘Mark Richards, Father, Son and…’ into Amazon and you’ll find them. But brand is important for an author, so I don’t feature those books on my website: for the foreseeable future, I’ll focus on mystery/thriller/crime.
Why did you choose Whitby for the books? As a few people know I live in Scarborough, 20 miles down the coast from Whitby. I chose Whitby because it has such a good ‘sense of place.’ Captain Cook, Dracula, traditional English fishing port, history, Heartbeat, the Moors, fish and chips.
Living so close to it I thought I knew the town quite well. You don’t know a town at all until you start planning to murder someone there… Where did the idea for Michael Brady come from? We have three children – boy, girl, boy. When Eleanor was 14/15 it’s fair to say she went through a fairly rebellious phase. We’re great pals now and she’s my football-buddy, but at the time father/daughter relationships were slightly strained, and there were certainly boyfriends I wasn’t told about. I used to lie awake at night and ask myself a very simple question: ‘how the hell will I cope if anything happens to my wife?’ Simply put, that’s where the idea for Michael Brady came from and at the start of Salt in the Wounds that’s exactly where he is. His wife has been killed in a hit-and-run and he’s driving across the North York Moors with Ash (Ashley), his teenage daughter. He’s determined to start a new life, be a good dad to Ash and has absolutely no intention of going back into the police. And then his best friend is murdered… So Brady’s relationship with Ash is very much my imagined relationship with Elle (Eleanor). The sarcastic replies she gives him are exactly the sort of replies Elle gave me and – like I was when she was in her early teenage years – Brady has a permanent struggle between being protective and allowing her enough freedom. Interestingly one reader in the US took me to task, saying he wouldn’t allow his daughter to speak to him in the way Ash talks to Brady, “but I guess that’s the difference between the US and the UK.” I thought he missed the point – like many teenage girls Ash feels physically awkward around her dad, so when they have these ‘banter conversations’ she’s really giving her dad a sort of verbal hug. By the time you get to Book 4 Brady is tentatively starting his first relationship after his wife – and obviously Ash is going to have some views on the potential new girlfriend. And be on hand with dating advice… ‘All characters are fictitious…’ But what about Archie? Nail. Head. Archie isn’t fictitious. Archie is Pepper, our Springer Spaniel, brought back to life. We got Pep in January 2006. She was just the most brilliant family pet, and my walking buddy on the cliff top. We finally said goodbye to her in November 2019 – and I still drop my toast on the floor and expect her to be there. So Mike Brady’s dog, Archie, is Pepper brought back to life. Archie’s love of sausages and his desperate need to roll in a dead fish? That’s Pepper. If you want to know more about Pep I brought all the short stories I wrote about her and family life together in a book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08BCGLZTW How much research do you do? Compared to other writers? Honestly, I don’t know. I suspect ‘above average’ is the answer. I do all my own research and that includes the physical side of it. I’ve hung off the end of Whitby Pier (Alex held on to me), gone trespassing on a railway line, trekked across the Moors…
For ‘Choke Back the Tears’ I was contemplating jumping into the North Sea fully clothed (you’ll see why) but as I was recovering from Covid at the time I had a long conversation with a girl who goes wild swimming instead. One of the best things about research is how incredibly helpful people are. For Salt in the Wounds I had two or three long conversations with an officer in a woman’s prison, plus a paramedic. The River Runs Deep was witness protection and drowning. For The Echo of Bones I had long, long e-mail conversations with a forensic pathologist in Tennessee. And for the latest book about five trips to Whitby and a detailed conversation with a midwife. Coming up? Brady still owes Dave a fishing trip. I’ll have to go out on a boat and try and catch a ten-pound cod. I’m not looking forward to it – I don’t like boats – but it has to be done. And an idea I had this morning means I might have to sleep rough for a night. And while I didn’t use it in a book, my research has also taught me what to plant if you’ve buried a body in your allotment. Roses at first, then brassicas – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli… How much of you is there in Brady? Brady’s 42 and his sister tells him he ‘looks a bit like Chris Hemsworth,’ so there aretwo boxes I don’t tick straightaway… I’m in a lot of the small details of Mike Brady. How he likes his bacon sandwiches, how he has his tea, eating fish and chips by the harbour. But Brady’s physically brave – I’m not. Then again I’ve done stand-up comedy in Barnsley… Brady’s relationship with Ash is unquestionably based on my relationship with my daughter. The replies she gives him – ‘This is a cool town, Dad. Two garden centres and a garage. Oh, and a Chinese takeaway. And a car park. I’ll certainly be coming here with my friends’ – are exactly the replies Ellie would have given me. Ditto, Archie. We had a Springer for 13 years, before we lost her in November 2019. Archie is simply Pepper re-born, and when Archie rolls in a dead fish, that’s Pep. Rumour has it you’ve done stand-up comedy. How useful is that when you’re writing a novel? I have. I woke up with a midlife crisis one Saturday morning and told my wife I wanted to try stand-up. I did it for a year and was reasonably good – good enough to get paid and good enough to realise how good the top performers were. I did a gig in York where I was the warm-up for Russell Howard as he was just breaking through, and he was on another level. But stand-up is brilliant training for writing. When you’re writing stand-up material is has to be tight and sharp – I could give you a great example, but it involves a lot of swearing. The same is true of novels. ‘Get it right, keep it tight, cut out the £$%&e’ as the old newspaper editors used to say. You’re self-published at the moment. Would you like to be traditionally published?
As a few people know I had a little bit of a flirt with a publisher around Christmas/New Year. They offered me a contract but I turned it down because of changes they wanted to make to the books. In the short-term that was probably a poor decision, at least from a commercial point of view, but what they wanted to do was simply wrong and would have made the books worse. Long-term let’s see what happens. For now I’m concentrating on the next book in the Brady series which I’ll have written, edited and published for Christmas. No way could you do that with a traditional publisher. Netflix knock on the door: who plays Brady on TV? You know what? I don’t mind. I consciously don’t do detailed descriptions of my characters because I want to give the readers the freedom to imagine the characters as they see fit. If I can give them an impression, that’ll do fine. When Brady first meets the man who’ll be his boss, Kershaw, he’s described as ‘silver-haired, silver-tongued.’ Seriously, do you need any more? Who hasn’t had a boss like that? So no, I’m happy to leave it to the readers. Several of them see Frankie as Suranne Jones. I think she’s too old for Frankie, but I’m happy to leave it to Netflix. I’ll only get cross if they mis-cast Archie… What’s your favourite thing about writing? Let me say one thing straightaway: writing is an incredibly selfish pastime. You have to say to your wife/husband/partner, ‘Yes, I’m very willing to build you a cold frame/paint the kitchen/go out for a drink… But not now, because I have to finish this chapter.’ There are also plenty of times when I’m ‘there but not there.’ My wife will say something to me and I simply won’t reply. I’m in an alley in Whitby murdering someone… That said, I love writing. Why do I write? The same reason as I breathe. I’m not someone who believes in inspiration but occasionally you’ll write a sentence/para and it’s exactly right. Possibly even funny. There are not many better feelings. And two things I didn’t even consider when I started writing novels. The research (see above) and the interaction with readers, which I love. And your least favourite? Other than the comment above about selfishness, writing is time intensive. There are no economies of scale. Two thousand words takes twice as long as a thousand, and it has to be done – especially if you have a deadline and Jeff Bezos is threatening to flog you in the market square if you don’t meet it. On a lovely day that’s tough. The other kids are outside playing on the grass: you’re in the classroom writing your English essay. Your favourite fictional character? Probably Lisbeth Salander in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She’s in such a good place at the end of that book that I won’t read the next two.
Thomas Cromwell in the Hilary Mantel books if he’s allowed to qualify as a fictional character. And obviously Hannibal Lecter. “More than my job’s worth, mate.” “Fair enough, I’ll eat your liver.” Plotter or pantser? Gardener or architect? One of the things that stopped me writing a book for a long time was my conviction that I couldn’t plot a novel. I knew I could write reasonably well, but I thought I was limited to articles/blogs in the 600 to 3,000 word range. Essentially what I wrote for clients in the day job as a freelance copywriter. Then lockdown struck, I immediately lost two clients and my standard excuse – I don’t have time to write a novel – went out of the window. So I invented Michael Brady, killed his wife, stuck him in a car with Ash and let him get on with it. Right now I’d describe myself – whichever term you go for – as half way between the two. I know where the story is going and I know some of the key signposts along the way – but I do think you have to let the characters talk to you. Possibly the best example of that is Ruby in ‘The Echo of Bones.’ I had no real idea of Ruby until I started writing about her. But then she opened her mouth, started talking and was fully formed in front of me. The moment she spat in the tea Brady had given her I knew I had a really great character. You’ve got three children. Have any of them inherited the writing gene? ‘Yes’ is the simple answer. Dan has just finished his PhD at Leeds University which involved a fair amount of writing. Alex wrote a western during lockdown – which I need to edit for him. But girls always come out on top don’t they? Elle used to go upstairs to write her English essays and come down again 15 minutes later. She’s always been able to write at speed and I introduced her to an American hybrid publisher who specialised in post-apocalyptic books. She wrote four series for him and made enough for the deposit on a house. #ProudDadAlert What do you do when you’re not writing? A few people know the awful truth. I am North Yorkshire’s only known supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers. I watch illegal streams of their games and shout a lot. What do you write on? Wax tablet? State of the art Mac? I’ve got an HP laptop. I think it was about three hundred quid. It’s on a stand on my desk and I use a full size keyboard which connects to the laptop via magic. All I really do on my laptop is use Word and Excel, so I don’t need anything powerful. Oh, and the illegal streams, of course. But keep that to yourself…
Thank you to Mark Richards for being my guest today. I really enjoyed finding out more about him and his writing. And… I couldn’t resist reading and reviewing!
It’s rare that I read crime and I am now wondering why!
Many thanks to the author for an advanced review copy and to Donna Morfett for including me in the tour.
I absolutely loved this. I’m late to discover Mark but so glad that I managed to dive in and read book 4. First thing that struck me whilst reading Choke Back The Tears #4 is the short, snappy chapters, which carry your attention brilliantly. And the great characterisation, Brady is so well written, as are all the supporting characters and potential murderers/suspects. The murder scene is gory and much detail is given for the reader to deliberate the who and the what and the why. The setting of the scene in Whitby works well, you can just about smell and taste the fish, chips and bacon sarnies. And I just knew that Archie was fashioned on the author’s dog, guessed it before I read Mark Richard’s interview on my blog. I enjoyed the personal elements woven into the tale about Brady’s daughter which gave the story a pleasing human touch which I appreciated. But… perhaps the aspect I enjoyed the most was the story’s insight into how tough it must be for coppers and law enforcers to cope with the heinous impact of crimes such as these on their stomachs, (as in keep from puking,) and their daily lives.
It’s an easy one to rate… a page turning 5 stars.
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Delighted to announce that the preorder of The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet is now available. Amazon Kindle Pre-order buying Link: https://books2read.com/u/mv1OeV
The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet is a collection of poetry and flash fiction celebrating the beauty and the vulnerability of the forest kingdom. It begins with the poetic tale of the kind-hearted Hedge Witch, Fern, who discovers an injured stranger in desperate need of her woodland spells and magic.
The sweet pairing learn from each other and through Fern’s guidance, Devin embraces the power of magic to leave behind his troubled past to become The Musical Poet.
Poetry/flash fiction titles in section one ofthe collection include:
The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet, Rain Forest Love, A Forest Baby Boy, A Forest Baby Girl, A Modern Witch, Rock of Mine, Chester Don & I, The Network of Trees, More Trees Not Less, Two Boys Watching War, Mum Climbing Trees, Let’s Play, The Scorched Tree, Owl’s Holiday Home, A Man’s Holiday Home, A Child’s Excitement, The Teddy In The Woods, Run! The Organutans, All Hallow’s Eve Candy Girl The Forest Bash, Dreaming At Halloween, A Face on Bark, Golden Willow Tree, Rainbow – Parasol of Light, Lollipop Sunshine Tree,
In Section two I pay tribute to the following poets:Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline, Ruby Archer, King Forest,Bliss Carman, Woodland Rain, Emily Dickinson, Who Robbed the Woods, Rupert Blake, Stopping by The Woods on A Winter Evening,Oscar Wilde, In the Forest.
With my poetry inspired by their works:
The Forest Weeps, The Forest King, Raindrops and Childhood Dreams, The Woodland Treasures, Winter Woodland Moon, Child Me.
MJ’s favourite genres to write are Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories, various forms of poetry and flash fiction. She celebrates the spiritual realm, love of nature and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious at her blog home: https://mjmallon.com
She is a reading, blogging and photography enthusiast!
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 storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. 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 smile.
MJ writes fantasy/magical realism because life should be sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic! Her motto is to always do what you love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even it if appears that the odds are stacked against you like black-hearted shadows.
The First book in the Curse of Time series Bloodstone has received many fantastic reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and other platforms and was awarded a finalist book award recently from Amazon influencer N. N. Light, receiving a review rating of 5+ stars.
INDIE PUBLISHED BOOKS
Mr. Sagittarius Poetry and Prose, (with photography,) This is Lockdown, (an anthology,) and Lockdown Innit Poems about Absurdity and The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet.
Thrilled to welcome you to my blog to chat about your book launch for Vigilantes. Vigilantes releases today!
MJ: The blurb is very intriguing Allan. Where is the story set and why did you choose to set it in that country/place? Are your novels and short stories set in different countries? And what genres do you write in and why?
ALLAN: First, I would like to thank you, Marjorie for giving me the opportunity to visit your popular blog. The setting for Vigilantes is in Bordeaux, France where my protagonists are attending a funeral for one of their co-workers. Their escapades will take them to different European countries as well as more obscure destinations in Asia. They search for two brothers who have been evading the law for twenty years, by hiding in different countries. I love international stories and I wanted this one to take the readers to different settings as seen through the eyes of my hero.
Yes, I set many of my stories in different settings, different countries. Part of the fun in writing is the research, visiting various cities online, looking at photos, what is the country or city famous for? Can my readers see the cafes and boutiques, hear the language or the birds singing, or the waves beating on the shores? I hope so.
Although my reading preferences lean toward thrillers and mysteries, I love writing historical fiction as well and plain feel-good stories too.
MJ: Aww, so very fascinating and such a breadth in your writing. Thank you for your kind words. I love how you interview so many guests on your blog, Allan. Including me – twice! You are so generous with your time. The writing and creative community is so important isn’t it? You must have met so many amazing guests.
ALLAN: I have indeed, met many wonderful, friendly folks, like you. We are all in the same situation of wanting to share our stories with a new and wider audience. When I originally started my blog – South Branch Scribbler – I did so as a way to share my own writing and books and the idea came to me, I could have guests and share their stories, find out more about them and pass it on. It has been a fantastic experience. I not only discovered really cool people but really cool books. So much fun.
MJ: Yes, my thoughts too. We are all in this together and gain so much by being supportive friends. I see you are from Canada. Yeah! It’s a lovely country, so friendly and welcoming. If I could become an adoptee Canadian I would… My daughters and I visited Montreal in the days of easy travel before the pandemic. I loved it! Which area of Canada are you from? And fill us in on any family/details/hobbies you have…
ALLAN: I must admit, I love Canada and feel most fortunate to be a citizen of this huge beautiful country. Thank you for the nice comments and you’re always welcome. I too, love Montreal, a fascinating city with so many cultures and deep history. But there are so many other great places to visit. I live on the east coast of Canada, in the maritime province of New Brunswick. Our province borders the state of Maine in the west, The province of Quebec in the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The seaside community I live in is called Cocagne and is mainly a French speaking village of Acadian descendants. The bay is across the road and an inspiration and setting for many of my stories. My family lives close by and I see them all frequently. I’m fortunate that way.
As of late, I have been dedicated to my hobby of writing. I am fortunate to be retired and can devote more time to my stories. Previous hobbies included stained glass and woodworking and as gratifying as they have been, I’ve decided to concentrate on my writing and it remains my central focus.
MJ: Awesome. Your latest book is part of The Drake Alexander series. How many books are in the series and can you tell me how they connect, what inspired them and what they are about?
ALLAN: My newest novel coming is the third in the DA series, titled Vigilantes. The two earlier novels were the first stories I wrote. Drake Alexander is a former soldier of the Canadian Armed Forces. The first novel brings him and his people to look for the man that killed Drake’s best friend’s sister. It took them three years to track him down. During this novel, Drake discovered he and his cohorts have a talent for rounding up bad people. They have the financial resources, the time, the manpower, the know-how and they don’t back down from anyone.
The second novel has Drake and his team rescue a priest that is a boyhood friend of Drake’s when he gets in trouble from an historical relic discovered in his church in Peru. Incan gold and Spanish raiders. This setting was inspired by the horrible plight of the Incan people at the hands of Spanish and foreign looters. It was the first story I wanted to write but when I started, a novel by well known author, Clive Cussler, came out titled Incan Gold. I didn’t want to be accused of plagiarizing Cussler’s idea, so I passed on it and wrote Dark Side of a Promise, which takes place in Bangladesh, another country that amazes me.
Vigilantes picks up from the last tangle with the enemy. As I mentioned earlier, at a funeral, Drake is approached by a man who continues to mourn for his daughter that was killed during a bank robbery twenty years previous and the culprits have never been apprehended. He asks them to help.
MJ: Wow, good luck with Vigilantes, sounds fantastic. As you also write short stories, (and I do too!) which do you prefer writing long narratives, or short stories? I’d love to hear more about your short story collection.
ALLAN: I’ve always enjoyed reading short stories and love writing them. I have no preference when it come to writing a longer or shorter story. Sometimes an idea forms with no length in mind. Occasionally it ends as a short story or novella. Or maybe I get an idea that fits with the shorter version. It would be difficult to say which I like best as I find fulfillment in both. I feel it begins with the idea or inspiration. There have been several times when I sit to write and I intend for it to be a short story but most times, I let the words flow and see where it ends up. It only differs when I decide to write a longer version because of an idea, like the novels we talked about above. But I enjoy both equally.
My latest collection is titled A Box of Memories. Many of the short stories were inspired by memories of an incident in my life or a memory of what may have happened to someone else. One story in particular – Four Boxes of Memories – was inspired by my own boxes of keepsakes, things I can’t throw away, birthday cards, drawings by the boys when they were small, rocks and seashells, postcards, plane tickets, and such that make up our histories. There were four of them and I was thinking that someday I would have to part with them, no matter how dear they were.
MJ: That sounds lovely – I also find it difficult to throw things away! Are you a procrastinator/plotter/panster/cafe/at home writer? What is your favourite place to write?
ALLAN: I have the neatest spot to write in. I converted my previous workshop to a more friendly spot to read and watch movies… and to write. I’m a morning person and I cherish quiet moments. No music in the background, no one leaning over my shoulder. My wife has been terrific, allowing me to write freely and uninterrupted. I write from six in the morning until eleven, usually. And almost every day now. Unlike others, I could never write in a café or in public, too many distractions for me and yet, I admire writers who can do so.
I’m definitely a panster. I run with an idea, no outlining, just enough research to get me going. There have been a few times I knew the ending but not often. I like to see where it all goes. Interesting enough, on my WIP, I was stuck and stared at the computer for some time, unsure of where to go and when I couldn’t decide I started to write about where the protagonist was sitting and then the words followed.
MJ: Oh, me too Pantser to the core! What your writer’s tip and or disaster? Make it funny, serious or both!
ALLAN: So, my one and only tip is to keep writing and sort out the garbage later.
MJ: Sounds like simple but great advice. What do your family think about your writing?
ALLAN: When you mention family, I think of my children and they’re spouses. Their support and encouragement have been tremendous. Always attending my events, sharing my posts, telling their friends but oddly enough, they don’t read my stories. They are happy for my accomplishments but not readers. Oh well.
My other families’, siblings and in-laws for example, read and comment on my writing, usually favorable. They don’t always like the rough sections and tell me so, but in a nice way.
But the support is always there, the encouragement is always appreciated.
MJ: That’s wonderful!
The master vintner at Chateau Lambert Estates, Jean-Paul Chouinard, stares up the rise at the family cemetery, where the darling of the house was laid to rest yesterday. The grave site is surrounded by four men and a woman. The people whose service Mireille Lambert was in when she died. One of them was her lover. One of them is Drake Alexander.
Chouinard knows what they do. He knows who Alexander is. He hears the whispers. Vigilantes. He grieves knowing the brothers who are responsible for his daughter’s death twenty years ago have not been apprehended. Maybe it’s been too long. Maybe the brothers are already dead. Maybe, if he asked, Alexander and his people could find them.
Buy your copy of Vigilantes on Amazon:
I live by Cocagne Bay in Eastern Canada where the summers are hot and the snow is deep in the winter. I married the greatest gal on earth, Gloria, and have a son Adam, two stepsons Mark and Chris (Mireille)Young. Three grandchildren Matthieu, Natasha and Damien.
I love reading. My mother was a school teacher and taught me to read and write when I was young. I’m presently retired and write as often as possible. My other hobbies include woodworking and stained glass.
I love jazz and am a HUGE fan of JJ Cale.
I have a wonderful life. I hope that you will read my novels – Wall of War and Dark Side of a Promise & a short story collection titled A Box of Memories. I trust you will enjoy them and if so please tell someone.
I can be reached at email@example.com Please visit www.southbranchscribbler.com if you like short stories, guest writers, artists and musicians and interviews.
Lorraine writes bestselling crime: The DI Sterling series. There’s no crime in This Is Lockdown but Lorraine features a wide variety of authors in her Friday Fiction Features. She also has a critique and mentoring service plus information for writers on her blog.
19th July – Recap Promo of all the great promos- M J Mallon
20th July – Launch Day Promo M J Mallon – Lockdown Quotes. 21st July – Sharon Wilden of Shaz’s book blog – promo 22nd July – Ritu Kaur BP 23rd July – Richard Dee 24th July – D G Kaye ( Q and A) 25th July – Marian Wood
25th of July is the last day of the tour as I am going on holiday thereafter and taking a break from social media! As this has been a huge project and I reckon I will be exhausted by then.
The fabulous authors, bloggers and creatives who have contributed to This Is Lockdown. I’d like to give a shout out to them all.
This weeks Haiku Prompt challenge from Ronovan Writes really appeals to me as I have a bit of a fascination with time. Time always seems a thoughtful, contemplative topic to me so both of my haikus are more serious in nature. The first haiku ends on an a more positive yet sad note with – new life replaces old, as opposed to new life surrenders. It’s amazing where a few lines of haiku can make your mind drift off to! Quite unintentional, but interesting how both of my haikus end.
Below is my photo of the Corpus Christi Clock in Cambridge, a popular tourist attraction. My first haiku is inspired by this weird and wonderful timepiece.
New Life Replaces Old
Clock ticks on gossamer wings
Time runs its cruel rollercoaster ride
New life replaces old
Clock ticks on gossamer wings, time runs its cruel rollercoaster ride.
Time runs its cruel rollercoaster ride, new life replaces old.
Now on to my second haiku:
New Life Surrenders
The parched land crumbles
Time can’t wait for falling rain
New life surrenders
The parched land crumbles, time can’t wait for falling rain.
Time can’t wait for falling rain, new life surrenders.