Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Someday Never Comes by Frances di Plino - Review and Interview

 Help me, Mama...

Detective Inspector Paolo Storey is determined to shut down the syndicate flooding Bradchester’s streets with young prostitutes.

When a child is murdered, Paolo becomes aware of a sinister network of abusers spread across Europe, and spanning all levels of society. But Joey, the shadowy leader of the gang, always seems to be one step ahead in the chase.

Has Paolo come up against a criminal he cannot defeat?

Someday Never Comes is the second in the gritty crime series featuring Detective Inspector Paolo Storey.

My review...

I thoroughly enjoyed Frances di Plino's first dark psychological thriller, Bad Moon Rising, and was equally impressed with this second in the D. I. Paolo Storey series: Someday Never Comes.

D. I. Paolo Storey is a flawed and empathetic character. Above all, he is a human, dealing with human problems and a man with whom we can readily identify. The villains too, are brilliantly-evoked and satisfyingly frightening.

This masterfully-plotted and engaging crime story, with numerous plot twists, page-turning levels of suspense, action and intrigue, gripped me from the start. Clues and red herrings are also expertly woven into the story, and kept me guessing right to the end.

Frances Di Plino is a powerful writer. Her prose seems to grab and mesmerize the reader, and I would highly recommend Someday Never Comes for lovers of dark crime fiction.

I don’t want to leave any spoilers here, but the last line is a knockout! So, for those readers who can’t help reading the last page first, please, try and resist!

Interview with Frances Di Plino...

My first, and probably most obvious, question is about Frances di Plino, your pen name. Can you tell us who is the woman behind Frances, and why she decided to use a pseudonym?

My real name is Lorraine Mace, but I needed a pen name to separate my children’s novels and other writing-related activities from my crime series. My great-grandfather was Italian. He arrived in the UK in the late 1890s without a word of English and a definite whiff of crime in his past, so I simply used the feminine form of his name.

The crime investigated in your novel is a very sensitive one: child sexual abuse. Did you find that disturbing to write about, and how did you cope with this sensitive subject?

I found it an extremely difficult topic, but child abuse is something that needs to be brought into the open. In preparation for writing Someday Never Comes, I did quite a lot of research into people smuggling, modern day slavery and the exploitation of women and girls for sexual abuse. The thing that kept me going while I was writing was the thought that I had no right to throw up my hands and say, oh this is too difficult, when there were people living through what I only had to endure writing about.

Did you receive any complaints about this subject from readers?

I haven’t so far! Most readers have commented on the subject matter being disturbing, but feel I have handled it well. It is a difficult subject, but it is something that is happening every day in towns and cities around the world. If we close our eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist, that obviously makes us feel better, but that doesn’t mean the crimes stop. Quite the opposite. Edmund Burke’s quote sums up how I feel about tackling such difficult subject matter. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

What are some of the difficulties in writing a series featuring the same main character?

I don’t know, because I haven’t encountered any yet. With each book I find that I know my characters better. I know how they will react in any given situation, who they will like and who they will detest, how they will dress, think, walk, talk and interact with others. I know I shouldn’t say this, but I am more than half in love with my central character, Paolo Storey, but don’t tell my husband.

You have numerous different writing jobs: tutor for The Writers Bureau, columnist for Writing Magazine, competition judge and provider of short story critiques for Writers’ Forum, writing agony aunt for Words with Jam Magazine, your writers’ critique service, as well as running three writing competitions (flash fiction, humour verse and novel opening) on this site. How do you juggle all these things?

I have the most amazing husband who sits down with me at the end of each month and asks what I have to do for the month ahead and what my deadlines are for the various jobs. I dump all the information in his lap and he comes back a couple of hours later with a complete day by day plan. Every day is separated into morning and afternoon sections, each containing notes on whatever it is I have to achieve. Without that sheet showing me what has to be done and when, I would simply collapse at the computer and sob.

I believe the third book in the D.I. Paolo Storey series is coming out soon. Can you give us a few hints please?

Call It Pretending is due out on the 18th December in both e-book and paperback. This time Paolo is racing against time to catch a killer who is murdering to a timetable – one victim a week for six weeks. Unfortunately for Paolo, there seems to be no connection tying the victims to each other, which makes finding the perpetrator almost impossible.

And lastly, are you working on any other novels besides book no. 3 in this series?

I have a literary novel I’ve been working on for so long now that I think I’ll be drawing my pension before it is finished. I only ever intended to write one Paolo Storey novel, but the success of the first led to the second, which has led to the third and so on. I have another couple of crime novels at the planning stage and my American publisher has asked for the next in my children’s series, so that literary novel might never see the light of day.

Thanks very much for answering my questions, Frances, and best of luck with your D.I Paolo Storey series!

About Frances ...

Frances di Plino is the pseudonym of columnist, editor, non-fiction author, short story writer, poet and writing tutor, Lorraine Mace. Writing as Frances di Plino gives her the opportunity to allow the dark side of her personality to surface and take control. Someday Never Comes, the second in the Detective Inspector Paolo Storey series, which follows on from highly acclaimed Bad Moon Rising, was released by Crooked Cat Publishing on 16 August. The third in the series, Call It Pretending, is due out on 18 December.

Contact Details ...

Lorraine Mace: www.lorrainemace.com

Blog: http://thewritersabcchecklist.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lomace

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorraine.mace.52

Frances di Plino: http://francesdiplino.lorrainemace.com/

Blog: http://francesdiplinoreviews.blogspot.com

Twitter : https://twitter.com/FrancesdiPlino

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frances.diplino.3

Books Available at ...

Amazon Frances di Plino: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Frances-Di-Plino/e/B007IEDS4Q/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Crooked Cat Books: http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/index.php?route=product/manufacturer/product&manufacturer_id=9

Amazon Lorraine Mace: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lorraine-Mace/e/B002VK4UV2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1383015949&sr=1-2-ent Accent Press : http://www.accentpress.co.uk/Book/1259/2984/The-Writers-ABC-Checklist.html

Thursday, 21 November 2013

And now .... Triskele Boxsets!

It's been quite a few weeks for Triskele Books. New releases. Literary Festivals. Triskele Trail. Not to mention getting to spend a whole weekend with the five of us together under one roof (not for the faint-hearted) ... but now we have something new to celebrate.

Gillian Hamer and JJ Marsh are proud, excited, (and a bit giggly) to announce the release of their first ever boxsets. Cover design and formatting has, as ever, been left in the capable hands of JD Smith, and the end results are quite frankly amazing. A real positive addition to the Triskele brand.

Gillian's first three novels The Charter, Closure and Complicit make up the first of her crime thriller series.

Gillian said. "I am blown away by the look and design of the books. I've always loved my covers but somehow they look even more stunning side by side. I can't wait to write the next trilogy just so I can have another boxset! I think they make a fantastic gift."

What They Say:

"This is the third of Gillian E Hamer's books I've read and I think it's the best so far. A contemporary police investigation and hints of the paranormal are threaded together with enormous skill." - Chris C, Amazon Review

"As with the author's previous two crime novels, the plot never falters and moves along at a cracking pace, the writing is as always crisp and clear and the intertwining of both past and present and the gradual connection between the two is done with real skill. I'm now completely hooked on this series and only hope that Gillian Hamer can write really quickly, as I can't wait to see what she comes up with next." - JaffaReadsToo (Amazon Top 500 Reviewer)

"When you love a book as much as I loved The Charter by Gillian Hamer, you always approach the next book with trepidation. I needn't have worried - her latest, Closure, is even better." - Welsh Annie Reviews.

"Fast paced and compelling. With its rich landscape of shipwrecks, murder, lost gold, faith and forgiveness, The Charter is storytelling at its best." - Amanda Hodgkinson, New York Times Bestseller.

Buy Gillian's boxset on Amazon

JJ Marsh has released the first three novels from her Beatrice Stubbs series: Behind Closed Doors, Raw Material and Tread Softly in one beautiful boxset.

Jill said. "I love the look of this boxset so much, I'm tempted to put it on my letter to Santa. Indulge yourself over Christmas - curl up with a glass of red, a box of chocolates and Beatrice Stubbs."

What they say about Beatrice Stubbs:

“Hooked from the start and couldn't put this down. Superb, accomplished and intelligent writing. Ingenious plotting paying as much attention to detail as the killer must.” – Book Reviews Plus

“I heartily recommend this as an exciting and intelligent read for fans of crime fiction.”– Judging Covers

“The characters leap off the page, the prose is witty and intelligent, and the plot twists keep you hooked till the last. What more could you ask?” – Barbara Scott Emmett, author of European thriller Don’t Look Down

"... crackles with human interest, intrigue and atmosphere. Beatrice and her team go all out to see justice is done. And author JJ Marsh does more than justice to the intelligent heroine who leads this exciting and absorbing chase.” – Libris Reviews

"Thrilling new crime fiction from a seriously good writer" – Annemarie Neary, author of A Parachute in the Lime Tree

"Warning: once you start this book you may not be able to put it down, and you may find yourself talking to it" - Compulsion Reads

Buy The Beatrice Stubbs Series on Amazon or Smashwords

Both boxsets are on Promotion for the whole of December!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Chorleywood Launch!

Triskele Books at Chorleywood

Thanks to the tireless enthusiasm and endless curiosity of Sheryl and Morag (the people who run Chorleywood's award-winning independent bookshop),Triskele Books became part of the Chorleywood Literary Festival. Festival guests this year include Ranulph Fiennes, David Suchet, Kate Adie, Terry Wogan, Hadley Freeman, Bill Bryson and ... Triskele Books! And what a wonderful day it was. When we arrived to set up, the venue was full of happy children, who'd just enjoyed the LitFest Storytime. Which explains why Morag was dressed as a unicorn.

Three events made up the indie fringe:

The Human Library

The Human Library

The Triskelites offered ourselves as reference books on all aspects of independent publishing. Attendees could borrow any one of us for a one-to-one chat on whatever subject they wanted to discuss. Chorleywood festival-goers kept us busy. Catriona's first client was an 80-year-old children's author, whereas Jill's was an 11-year-old fantasy adventure writer, who'd done all her own illustrations. We met a sports psychologist, a photographer, two sci-fi imagineers and a host of people who would not consider themselves writers, but were bursting with ideas. So busy engaging with our 'borrowers', we were almost late for the next event.

The Rise of the Author Collective

Perry and the Triskelites
Moderated by Perry Iles, our proof-reader and writerly colleague, we answered questions on the practicalities of operating as a collective. Jane explained how we remain independent while working as a team. Gilly shone some light on how five authors communicate across three countries and two time zones. Liza gave an honest insight into how much work really goes on behind the scenes. The audience had so many intelligent and perceptive questions, we ended up running far over our allotted time.

The Launch

Three new releases and unusually for Triskele, all in the same genre: historical fiction. But the time periods in question could not be more dissimilar.
Liza Perrat's Wolfsangel takes place in a rural French village under the shadow of WWII Nazi occupation.
JD Smith's Overlord is set in 3rd century Syria and follows the rise of warrior queen Zenobia.
Catriona Troth's Ghost Town explores race, racism and identity against the backdrop of 1980s Coventry.

The passion for the story radiated from each author, and the brief readings seemed to enthuse and excite the audience, so that our books table was overrun.

Celebrations in the pub and an extraordinarily lively Chinese meal rounded off a marvellous weekend in the company of writers, readers and booklovers. Thank you, Chorleywood!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Triskele Trail

Once upon a time, there were five writers.

They believed there was a third way of publishing, somewhere over the rainbow.

So they packed their books and set off to explore.

This is what happened on the journey.

The Triskele Trail is a true story.

About a writers' collective who made some mistakes and some smart decisions; who discovered opportunities, found friends and dodged predators in the independent publishing jungle.

Fourteen books later, here are the lessons we learned.

This is not a How-To book.

This is How-We-Did-It.

This is The Triskele Trail.

It's the combined wisdom of a range of independently published writers that makes the difference: practical know-how, up-to-date details about the financials and processes of publishing platforms and services, as well as other been-there-done-that tips – all of which I found in The Triskele Trail” – Libby O, author of Charlotte Aimes

"Despite having published more than eighty books with traditional publishing houses I found the path through the jungle of independent and self-publishing peppered with booby traps for the unwary. I wish I’d had this book when I set out, it would have saved me a great deal of time, money and heartache.

This is the ultimate jungle guidebook written by people who have actually cut their own path through the undergrowth. They have weathered all the set-backs, fallen into all the traps and climbed back out again, emerging into the light, bruised but triumphant, with a thriving small business and a number of handsome books. The lessons they have to teach are priceless for anyone hoping to follow them.

Modern publishing is an industry filled with dreamers, fantasists and the plain deluded. This book is a clear, calm, factual guide from people who truly know what they are talking about
." –Andrew Crofts, author, ghostwriter and publisher of Secrets of the Italian Gardner

For one week, The Triskele Trail is on promotion: grab it while it's hot!



Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Sense of Time and Place: Ghost Town

By Catriona Troth
Coventry Market and Precinct - a concrete canyon.

Coventry has a reputation as a concrete monstrosity – blighted first by WWII bombs and then by ill-judged post-war planning. Some of that is undoubtedly true. But in the seven years I lived there, from 1976 to 1983, I came to know a different Coventry.

Hidden away behind all that concrete are survivors of the old medieval city – the little pot-bellied houses on Spon Street, the Guild Hall with its extraordinary angel ceilings, the ‘Doom’ painting on the walls of Holy Trinity Church. One of the most beautiful places on earth to stand is on the steps between the old and new cathedrals, seeing the reflection of the ruins of one in the great West Window of the other.

Pot-bellied houses in Spon Street
Coventry in 1981 was the city of Two Tone and Ska. Bands like The Specials and The Selecter, known for their anti-racist stance, reigned supreme. When tensions between skinhead and Asian youths escalated into violence, it seemed in my memory as if it only took The Specials organising a Concert for Racial Harmony for the troubles to go away.

Coventry, then, was a city of light and dark, beauty and ugliness. And when, years later, I had an idea for a story that had an edge of racial tension to it, this seemed the perfect time and place in which to set it.

When I began to do my research, I realised that what had happened that summer was far darker and more complex than I’d realised. Two racially motivated murders – one of a student and one of a young doctor – took place in the space of a few weeks, as did the bombing of a Hindu temple. I realised that in order to be respectful of those events, my story had to be as true and honest as possible, and part of that meant anchoring it in the reality of that time and place.
Ruins of St Michael's Cathedral, looking towards the burn cross

Certain locations in Coventry had always had an emotional draw for me, and I found myself weaving those into the fabric of the story. The burnt cross in the ruins of the old Cathedral, made from two charred roof timbers, became an image I’d return to again and again.

Old photographs captured glimpses of the city that, in the thirty years since, have been swept away: the giant chess set in Smithford Way; the cream and navy WMPTE buses lumbering around Broadgate.

And then there were sounds, like the news vendors calling ‘City Final!’ Or the smells of the night shelter where I volunteered for a few months.

All these gave the novel a solid foundation. Whether you know Coventry well or whether you’ve never been there, I hope they provide a sense of tangible reality. Because those events that lie behind the fiction of my story? They really did happen.

For more background on the time, the place and the issues at the heart of Ghost Town, read Catriona's interviews with:
Sir Horace Gentleman, bassist with The Specials
Bob Eaton, writer and producer of Three Minute Heroes
Sukhbender Singh, author of Concrete Jungle
Jatinder Verma, founder of Tara Arts
Alex Wheatle, author of East of Acre Lane