I Remember You by Elisabeth De Mariaffi – Guest Post – Blog Tour.



It is my pleasure today to welcome to my blog Elisabeth De Mariaffi  to talk about writing her novel I Remember You that I hope to read shortly.

About the Book

Heike Lerner has a charmed life. A stay-at-home mother married to a prominent psychiatrist, it s a far cry from the damaged child she used to be. But her world is shaken when her four-year-old son befriends a little girl at a nearby lake, who vanishes under the water. And when Heike dives in after her, there s no sign of a body.
Desperate to discover what happened to the child, Heike seeks out Leo Dolan, a television writer exploring the paranormal , but finds herself caught between her controlling husband and the intense Dolan . Then her son disappears, and Heike’s husband was the last to see him alive …

To purchase the novel see here

Guest Post

When I first began writing I Remember You, I wasn’t sure what I had was a novel at all. The first scene I wrote felt more like myth, like a kind of magical short story: a young mother and her little boy lounge on a raft in the middle of a pond, when suddenly a strange girl surfaces from the water—seemingly, out of nowhere. While her son is enchanted by the girl and immediately begins to play with her, the mother is anxious: Where did this girl come from? Where are her parents? The woods around them are still. When, a moment later, the little girl skips across the surface of the pond and then dives back under, the mother knows something is terribly wrong. She holds her son tight against her, waiting. But the girl never resurfaces.

I’ve written previously about how important traditional fairy tales were to the crafting of the novel, but it wasn’t until after I was well into the writing that I began to understand how important they were to my protagonist, Heike Lerner, as well. As a teenager in the last days of World War II, Heike escaped from Dresden on foot, just days ahead of the fire bombs. By the time we meet her again, her life is completely changed: it’s 1956, and she’s living in a swank summer house in upstate New York with her new husband, Eric, an American psychiatrist, and their young son.

It’s a charmed life, but the hard truth is that the trauma of the war had its effect on Heike. She remembers very little of what came immediately after her escape. All she has to go on is the story that Eric has told her, and that he asks her to repeat back to him: where they met, how they married, the ways they began their life together.

But Heike has a story of her own to tell. At night, when she’s putting little Daniel to bed, she makes up fairy tales as bedtime stories—and one in particular, that she repeats over and over, might just be a clue to her past.

Into all this comes the very charming Leo Dolan, a television writer and producer whose work I based on that of Rod Serling, creator of the ground-breaking series “The Twilight Zone.” Dolan, like the real-life Serling, wants to control his own show in part to get out from under the thumb of network censors. He wants to be able to write stories about real conflicts of the time: racism, fear of the nuclear threat, fear of the unknown. It’s this part of him that is so attractive to Heike: like herself, Dolan is a storyteller. Also, like Heike, he is committed to telling the story the way he sees it, rather than just accepting the version that conservative 1950s society has rubber-stamped. Before I knew it, the book had folded over on itself: stories within stories within stories. For a writer, what could be more enticing?

Once Dolan made his entrance, I got to up the ante. The novel is full of Easter eggs – references to fairy tales are buried throughout, as are hidden nods to some of my own favourite Twilight Zone episodes. In the end, I wanted the entire book to be able to function as a kind of standalone Twilight Zone episode itself – albeit, admittedly, a rather complicated one.

I Remember You blog tour (COMPLETE)


Insane by Hollie Thubron – Guest Post


Last week I had an email from Hollie Thubron asking me if I would like to read and review her novel that is published today. Unfortunately with the books I have committed to read I can’t read it right away so Hollie agreed to do a guest post where she talks about her novel.
This is what she says.

Guest Post

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all having an amazing day. My name is Hollie Thubron and my debut novel is launching today!

First off, I want to thank Steph for allowing me to be a guest on her blog and talk to you guys!
I’m going to talk a little bit about why I wrote my book, “Insane”.

Insane is a psychological thriller about a serial killer. She kills because she enjoys it. You might call her insane, but who are you to judge?

I wanted to write this novel because I am a philosophy student, and having studied many different moral theories, I came to the conclusion that universal morality is made up. There are so many proposed theories – and most of these directly conflict with one another, so that one of them would say an act is right, and one would say it is wrong. This made me think that, really, there is no universal morality – otherwise we would all be using it! For me, this doesn’t mean there is no such thing as morals, but instead that morals are individual, personal and unique values we each have. No two are the same.

It is a natural and instinctive thing that when we see or hear of someone committing a certain act, we will ask ourselves; “what would I have done in that situation?” and from this answer, we will deduce whether that act was right or wrong. But really, with morality being individual, we cannot project our beliefs and values onto other people. We cannot say absolutely and categorically that what we think is right and what someone else thinks is wrong.

So let’s talk about Avery Blake. Avery Blake is a serial killer. Initially, you might think that there is something wrong with her, or that she had a difficult childhood. This is what most people think when it comes to the topic of serial killers. But really, there are four types of serial killers – and only one of those are classed as clinically insane. Furthermore, while a lot of serial killers have things in common, there is no cause and effect. If there were, everyone who had been abused would turn out as a serial killer. Or everyone with divorced parents. The list goes on. If you can strip it right back to basics, Avery simply has a different opinion than you (I’m assuming). So really, is it fair to judge her, or anyone, by your own beliefs?

I’m not expecting anyone to agree with killing for any reason. Nor am I condoning it. But really, who am I to judge? My morals are different from yours. As are the influences on my perception of morality. We can’t understand everything. But that doesn’t make what we don’t understand wrong. There is no greater or lesser influence on our perception of morality.

This book can either be enjoyed as any other psychological thriller, or it can be looked at with this perspective and hopefully shed new light on your morality. Either way, I hope you enjoy the read.

About the author


Hollie Thubron is a singer, songwriter and author from the outskirts of London and has been writing novels since she was a child. It has always been her dream to be a published author and that dream has been achieved, with Insane being her debut novel. She is fascinated by the psychology of serial killers as well as the debate about morality and so she is studying Philosophy at the University of Bristol.

About the Book

My name is Avery Blake. I will be the hero for the next 300 pages. Well, in my opinion I will be anyway. After all, this is my story.

My primary occupation is as a pharmaceutical rep. I hate to say I do love the sales and I definitely love the cash… But it doesn’t send adrenaline shooting through my body and make me bounce up and down like a kid in a sweet shop.

No, the things that really get me going include painting, volunteer work, killing, tap dancing and golfing.

Yes, you read that correctly.”

One person’s crazy is another person’s reality, with so much in this world being left to interpretation, is killing really wrong? Are serial killers really insane? Anyway, who are you to judge?

The locals of Southhurst would never dare wonder the streets alone at night, since there has been a serial killer terrorizing the area for fifteen years. But Avery Blake isn’t afraid.

Avery Blake is a serial killer. She kills because she enjoys it. But how long can she go on like this, before someone catches on?

Insane is a psychological thriller addressing the different perceptions of morality and what influences them.

Her Website is insane novel

Her twitter is twitter

You can purchase the book Here

White Midnight by Daniel Culver – Guest Post.


Today it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog Daniel Culver to talk about his writing process. This is a book that I am really looking forward to reading.

About the Book

Elizabeth Nowicki, a British woman and self-confessed stoic, settles down in the seemingly idyllic American town of Midnight, with her new husband and his two children. Six months on, life as a step mom is harder than she thought, and the shine of the American Dream has already worn off.

Bored and lonely, Elizabeth is drawn into a nightmare when someone in a duck mask murders two local cops…and the investigation reaches her new neighbourhood. When this is followed by strange happenings across the street, leading to another death, Elizabeth starts to conduct her own investigation….but can she find the killer before the killer finds her?


My Writing Process

I figure people like these origin stories, nosey nods to one’s writing practice, so this is mine. Here goes.
I used to be a ‘pantser’. Actually, I was full ‘commando’. I started with an abstract idea and just ran with it, a bit like making Lego with no instructions. Lego without instructions usually looks like something you left in your pantsters; at least mine did. Something with no firm structure usually falls apart very easily, too. Unless you’re a genius. I’m not a genius, so I need stabilisers.
Now, I am an ardent planner. A Micro Manager, as Zadie Smith suggests. This works for me because my ideas are both abstract and erratic. I don’t write in sequence, so I can slot whatever I make up into a timeline. Actually, I would say I am re-planner. I usually begin with an idea and I need to let it ferment in my head for a long time. I will probably begin with one or two scenes to properly set the tone, and while I’m writing those, I will use a Beat Sheet (see Saves The Cat Beat Sheets, they’re great) to construct the plot, which I will then break across three separate documents – my three act structure.
This allows two things: to easily navigate my manuscript(s); while also allowing me to easily re-structure things as I go, according to my Beat Sheet.
I usually end up shuffling things quite a bit and while I’m going that, I will then write each character’s story, depending on how many POVs there are in the plot. Once I have the plot structured across the three acts, I will then dissect and insert the individual story arcs. I’m sure there is software out there that does this type of thing for you, but my system doesn’t cost anything and I’m set in my ways. This is my own organised chaos.

So, in short, while in the early writing stages I usually have: A beat sheet, which contains the plot points. A work in progress file, for ideas and snippets that are not yet finished or fully realised. My actual manuscript at this point is dived into the three acts, which I will lay my beat sheet to. Finally, I have the separate story arcs for the main character(s), which will be inserted into my three acts once I am happy with the plot. So, no less than six separate documents in all.
Basically, I see it as a play. I construct the necessary beats across the three acts. I then set the scene or furnish the set. My WIP is like a rehearsal, riffing on ideas until they are ready to be added to the script. Finally, once the characters/actors are ready to go in, I slot them in to place.
I’m not fun at parties!

You can purchase the book here

Daniel and James

We Have Lost The Chihuahuas By Paul Mathews – Guest Post.

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Today, I am delighted to feature a guest post from Paul Matthews author of We Have Lost The Chihuahuas.

About the Book

London, 2046. The British Republic has a new First Lady. She’s Californian, ‘in-your-face, for sure’ and she’s got big plans for a Buckingham Palace refurb. When her three Chihuahuas go missing, one man is determined to avoid getting dragged into it all. His name is Pond. Howie Pond – presidential spokesperson, retired secret agent and cat lover.

Meanwhile, Howie’s wife Britt is handed her first assignment as a National Security and Intelligence Service rookie – to solve the mystery of the missing canine trio.

Will Howie manage to slope off to the pub before he can be roped into help? Will Britt unmask the dognapper and grab the glory? Find out, in the latest, crazy comedy-thriller from dog-loving British author Paul Mathews.
Pre-Order link:

Guest Post

1. What is the most important item you require for a quiet night in?

Jack Daniels and Cola Zero – a match made in alcohol heaven.

2.Is it best to always tell the truth or is it sometimes better to tell a little white lie?
As my main character Howie asks in my latest book, where would the employees of the world be if they told the truth all the time? Unemployed – that’s what!

3. What’s your signature dish?
Anything that someone else is cooking.

4. Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook, why?
Twitter is better for news and intelligent comment. Facebook is more for those times you need to watch a cute animal video or you want to convince the world you’re having a full and varied life by taking selfies of yourself in strange places.

5. Which book character do you wish you had written?
Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole was my hero in my teens, so I’ll pick him.

About the Author

Paul Mathews is a quite funny British guy who’s managed to escape his day job and is currently on the run as a comedy novelist. His sharp, satirical – often surreal – sense of humour draws on 20 years as a British Government press officer, during which time he encountered politicians, senior civil servants, HR managers, and lots of other people who really sucked at their jobs.

His popular ‘We Have Lost’ comedy-thriller series set in 2040s London, starring beleaguered presidential spokesman and wannabe secret agent Howie Pond, currently comprises four titles with more on the way. Paul has read all the books at least ten times and highly recommends them.

Make him happy by signing up for his ‘Very Funny Newsletter’ here: www.quitefunnyguy.com/newsletter. If you don’t want to sign up for it, stay calm and do nothing.

Paul also owns a cat, Lulu, who works as his assistant. All fan mail to her, please.

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Lost In Nashville by Neil White – Q and A


Today it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog best-selling crime author, Neil White to talk about his new novel Lost in Nashville which will be published by Manatee on November 9th. I found this novel to be a fascinating read and listened to quite a lot of the songs mentioned whilst reading.

About the Book

James Gray is a lawyer and his life is a success. Or at least, he thinks it is, but something is missing – a bond with his father, Bruce.

Bruce Gray is old, retired and estranged from his family. He spends his time drinking and drifting in the small seaside town in England that James once called home.

James decides to take Bruce on a road trip, to try and connect with his father through the one thing that has always united them: a love for Johnny Cash and his music. Together they travel through Johnny Cash’s life; where he grew up, the places he sang about – a journey of discovery about Johnny, the South and each other.

Always fascinating, an evocative and emotional road trip, Lost In Nashville will captivate you, inform you and along the way may even break your heart.

Lost In Nashville Q & A

1) I’m aware that you usually write crime fiction. Was this novel something you always wanted to do or did the death of Johnny Cash give you the inspiration? Or was there another influence?

It was the book I always wanted to write, because it was very personal.
My father was a Johnny Cash obsessive and, as I grew up, that was the music I heard. It was very much the soundtrack to my childhood and made me a fan. I got to the point where I thought that I needed to get on and write or I’ll never get round to it. It wasn’t inspired by Johnny’s death, but perhaps it gave the book a little more poignancy.
As a book, it took various forms as it evolved. My initial intention was to write as a Bill Bryson sort of book, a road trip, all factual, but as I tried to write I realised that my skills were not in that field.
I decided to fictionalise it, but then make it autobiographical, write it as if I’d taken my own father on the road trip. I finished that version and decided that there was too much of me in it, as the book was never meant to be about me. I fictionalised it even more, although elements of all its incarnations make it into the finished book.

2) Was the road-trip as emotional as it appeared at times in the novel?

Not really, I’m afraid to say, as I didn’t take my father with me, he was too infirm for that. Instead, I took a drinking buddy with me, someone I used to visit the States with before I had children. I told him that it was my trip, my route, so I would provide the hotels and car. All he needed was his air fare and some beer money.
He was fine with that, and I devised the route so that we’d be at wherever we were staying by around seven so that we could head to a bar.
The emotion I felt doing the trip was one of awe and wonder, because I was visiting places I’d only heard about in songs. To be a lifelong fan and to suddenly find yourself in Johnny Cash’s boyhood home, or staying in his motel room in Starkville, Mississippi, was amazing.

3) Did you write the books around the songs featured or was it the other way around?

Around the songs.
The book came about really because I was looking at a map to find Dyess, Arkansas, the town Johnny grew up in, out of idle curiosity. As I looked, I saw how close Memphis was, and then Starkville, where he based a song after spending a night in the drunk tank, and it occurred to me that I could travel his life by tracking his songs. The more I researched, the more song locations I found, and I realised I could do it in chronological order. Johnny Cash, cradle to grave told through his songs.
That’s how I came up with the idea of having each chapter based around a song, because I was visiting some places purely because of the song. Like Starkville, Mississippi. Or Canton, Mississippi, where Casey Jones died. Or Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the setting for Boy Named Sue. I just needed to wrap a story around it, and I tried to match the personal relationship between the characters in the book to the state of Johnny’s life at the time.

4) How difficult was it to choose the songs that you mention, and were there any that you felt that you couldn’t use?

Geography picked some, because it was a road trip. There were others where I had to be a little more creative. For instance, the characters pass through Selma, Alabama, on their way to Montgomery, the site of the Hank Williams Museum and the beginning of Hank’s last journey. Those places are more famous for the civil rights movement, but Johnny Cash didn’t write or sing any songs that were overtly in support of the movement. One of my favourite songs however, Orange Blossom Special, was released at the same time as Martin Luther King was trying to lead the marches from Selma to Montgomery, in February 1965. In those chapters, the characters talk and wonder why he didn’t outwardly support the civil rights marches, and they talk about the civil rights movement.
I would have loved to have extended the trip to include Washington DC, so I could have talked about Mr Garfield, Johnny’s song about the assassination of President Garfield, which seems to be very much a forgotten assassination. The site of the shooting is now part of a shopping mall. In the end, the distance was too great, because I wanted to end the trip in Nashville and at Johnny’s grave.

5) If you had to recommend one song to somebody who didn’t know his music which would it be?

Orange Blossom Special, for the songs he recorded in his heyday. It has the railroad rhythms that was the backbone to many of his songs and just flows along. And everyone knows Ring of Fire.

6) Did doing the road- trip make you think differently about Johnny? e.g. did you find out anything that you never knew before you went?

I didn’t find anything new because I had done a lot of the research in advance and the trip was really about visiting the places.
What I got out of it was just seeing the places he’d sung about. That was what I wanted from it, and I loved it.
What I realised too was how hugely popular he was, and how huge country music is. Every bar we were in when visiting Nashville played a Johnny Cash song at some point. The Johnny Cash Museum was the only one we queued for. The bars in Nashville got very busy, a band in every one, and they were singing cover songs and everyone knew the words and I knew I’d never heard them before. I understood how there is a huge scene that just isn’t seen over here.

7) Would you do a road-trip again for a different artist or author or do you feel that this was something you could only do once?

I couldn’t imagine doing a road trip for another artist but perhaps for a genre.
One part of the trip that I loved researching was the history behind the music, both the blues and the traditional country music, Johnny’s music being a mix of the two in some ways. My buddy and I had a great day roaming all the places of old blues legend in the Mississippi Delta, like Dockery Farms, or Greasy Street in Ruleville, or Tutwiler, or Robert Johnson’s grave. Much of it was run down but there was no denying it was atmospheric. Once we headed east, we toured the area around Clinch Mountain, where the original country artists lived and who gave us the “big bang” of country music in the legendary Bristol Sessions.
I’d love to do a book exploring the roots of country music, again as a road trip, or possibly the blues.

8) How exciting is it to be one of the first authors to be published by a new publisher?

Incredibly exciting. I knew the book would always be a difficult sell to mainstream publishers because there is too much Johnny Cash for the fiction publishers, and too much fiction for the music publishers. From the outset, Lisa Hall and Liz Wilkins from Manatee have been supportive of the book and wanted to publish it. They approached me, I didn’t approach them. I hope their faith is repaid.
For me, I just loved writing the book. As much as I enjoy writing crime fiction, and I want to keep on doing that, this book is very much a labour of love. I hope this comes across.

Many thanks to Neil for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can buy the book at amazon