Summer of Ghosts cover image

Summer of Ghosts cover image

 

Today I’m delighted to welcome author P D Viner – author of the recently published Summer of Ghosts – to the CTG blog. 

So, to the questions …

Your latest book – Summer of Ghosts – came out a few weeks ago. Can you tell us a bit about it?

August was an incredibly busy month as on August 1st my second novella, The Ugly Man was released as a free download and on August 14th the paperback of my first novel, The Last winter of Dani Lancing, came out as well as the hardback of Summer of Ghosts.

So, I want to start by telling you that The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is the story of three people who have been traumatised by violence and left damaged and untethered from life as something happened to the girl they loved. In 1989 Dani Lancing went missing and for 22 years her parents, and the man who loves her, are frozen in their pain and loss. Her mother, Patty, was a crime journalist and she gave up her work to devote all her time to investigating the crime. Jim Lancing, Dani’s father, is left alone except for the spirit (if that is what it is) of his daughter who lives with him – and Dani’s boyfriend, Tom Bevans becomes a policeman as he needs to make up for the fact that he could not protect her. Tom Bevans, who rises to the rank of Detective Superintendent, but who is known to all his colleagues as The Sad Man due to the incredible loss he bears with him, heads up a serious crimes unit that deals with sexually motivated murders of young women. These three characters, the trinity of the pained, are all haunted by what happened to Dani in some way, they are all paralysed by their grief for 22 years. Then, out of the blue, a clue is revealed – something that could reveal what happened to her all those years ago. But it leads all three of them back down into the hell of Dani’s death… they will discover the truth of her death but it is at a great cost.

Summer of Ghosts (Hardback out Aug 14 2014) continues the story six months after the first novel. Jim and Patty are dealing with the truth of Dani’s final days (spoilers) but Tom has had a kind of breakdown. For six months he has wallowed in his self-pity and sense of loss – but he has to get back to work as the beautiful skin murderer has returned. Four years before, Tom swore to three mothers he would solve the murders of their daughters… but he failed. Now there may be a fourth victim – the daughter of the man who helped Tom try to find Dani all those years ago. A man called Franco, who also heads London’s biggest drugs gang – a man who is ruthless and cruel, a killer. Together he and Tom must track down the most dangerous man in Europe. Oh and Tom needs the best investigator he knows to help him: Patty Lancing.

Together they follow a train of events that take them from Greenwich to death inside a royal palace in Brighton, to the heart of darkness inside a war in Africa and finally to a showdown with a corrupt policeman and a man who has killed hundreds if not thousands. And, heartbreakingly, there is more about the death of Dani Lancing for her parents to uncover. For them the nightmare will not end.

So, Summer of Ghosts carries the story begun in The Last Winter of Dani Lancing, on a step further but it can be read as a stand-alone thriller without the sense that you are missing something. The plot twists and it is a real page turner, but the intention is also to drag you into the emotional lives of Tom, Patty and Jim. Reviewer and crime writer Stav Sherez said: Summer of Ghosts is strong, assured and with a plot that will poke your heart. I always love fiction that draws you into the lives of the characters – and that is always my intention.

 

And does Summer of Ghosts end the story for Tom Bevans and Patty and Jim lancing?

No, I have always planned the mystery of Dani Lancing to emerge over three books and there are also four novellas that deepen the understanding of the characters. Two of those novellas are already available as FREE downloads from all good ebook stockists. They are The Sad Man, which is a 110 page book that details the case in 1999 that made Tom Bevans’ career and allowed him to set-up operation Ares – his serious crimes unit that investigates sexually motivated, multiple murders. The second is The Ugly Man (120 pages) and is set in the heatwave of 1976 and has Patty dispatched by her newspaper to a sleepy Derbyshire village to investigate a brutal murder – and it leads to her uncovering thirty years of secrets and lies.

Next year the cycle of stories will be concluded by a third novel and two more novellas. It will not be the end of the line for Patty or Tom but will conclude this story. I have always loved linked books and while each one can be read alone, if you do read them as a set, then the tension does build and build. I hope when they are all done that my publisher will release a box set or a single volume collection with the novellas fitted in between the novels as I intend them to be read… that will be very exciting.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing cover image

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing cover image

 

Summer of Ghosts examines some strong themes including loss and grief. What was it that sparked the inception of the story – the characters or the plot (or something else)? 

When I began writing The Last Winter of Dani Lancing (then titled Three Drops of Blood), I had not thought about going beyond that story. TLWODL is dark and full of rage and pain – all the resentment I felt about my business being destroyed (I had a small audiobook company with my sister and we produced audio books of Shakespeare and the classics for GCSE and A level students) in the financial meltdown and the fear I had surrounding being the father to a two-year old when I was unemployed and in my forties… well, all of that was channeled into the book. Grief and just what we will do for love and to revenge ourselves on those who hurt our family – that was the touchstone that set the tone for the first book. As I wrote that story there was a tipping point, and I became so engrossed in the character’s lives that I began to imagine further – where they could go after the big reveal in Durham cathedral – the point where they finally know the truth of Dani’s disappearance and what happened to her. Then I thought: okay, what would happen to Jim and Patty after the truth was finally revealed. Could they stay together now? How did you cope with knowing the truth after twenty-two years of being in the darkness? How would they cope… that was the question, and the same was true for Tom; for him the finale of TLWODL is like a bomb exploding. I had to know more!

And that is one of the things that I often find series of books (and especially crime) gets wrong. The character just resets for the next book and is fine again… and I didn’t want that. I wanted the weight of the truth to sit heavily on my characters (especially as book three is going to beat them down to the essentials of their humanity) because that is life, human beings dwell in bad news, they get depressed and resentful and petty and angry and let stuff fester for months and years.

Summer of Ghosts keeps the sense of loss from the first books, though it becomes skewed as the world view shifts. Firstly we have three girls who have been murdered. We meet them in TLWODL as a background case – in fact we see Tom visiting the murder scene of the third victim – but in this book Tom is haunted by the fact that he failed these girls. We also have a major new character: Franco. Well I say new – actually we did meet him in the first book but he was a minor (though interesting) character then. Now he is the head of a large drugs ring and he wants out. He is a man who has killed many, created destruction everywhere he has gone… but… can he have a good heart? Could he, in some way, have a sense of morality, even if it is skewed and hard for us to see? That was what fascinated me about his life and the world he operated in – a world where violence is everywhere and life is cheap. It is the opposite of the world of the first book where one life is everything and one act of violence has destroyed the lives of Dani, Tom, Patty and Jim.

 

As a highly successful audio and film-maker, what was it that attracted you about writing fiction?

Success? Ha. As a film-maker I had some early success but after three years trying to make two projects I had written, I gave up and ran away to join the circus. The world of film is so tough and I just folded. I wrote two novels then and they lie under my bed like two deformed children. I feed them raw meat once in a while – but nobody was interested in them. Setting up my audio business was a way of being creative and making a living and working with actors and musicians with achievable budgets. I could direct hamlet with 21 actors and afford to make it and then sell it. They also won awards and got great reviews… but the business relied on library sales and after the financial crisis all libraries slashed their budgets and I was out of a job. I turned back to fiction writing as a way to salve my soul. Also I had a two year old and she needed me to pick her up from pre-school and have her two days a week (my remarkable wife has a real job) and so writing fitted the lifestyle I had. It was crazy to think that this time could get published – and so I didn’t think like that, I just wrote for me and I loved the puzzle of solving this mystery in my head. As it became more complex I had to get cleverer – writing crime is quite addictive you know. So that was that – I fell into an old love due to circumstance and (fingers crossed) this time it worked… as long as I keep killing.

 

Could you tell us a little about your writing process, do you dive right in, or plan the story out first?

It is somewhere between the two. Of course when I began TLWODL it was all fragmented as I learned how to craft a story over 100,000 words. With Summer of Ghosts, I had an idea of where I was going and I knew the ending – but it was the research process that filled out the bare bones. I spent a few days with the Sussex police – including a night out in a first response unit and with the 999 team – and that propelled areas of the story forward. The truth about being a professional writer as opposed to a part-time hopeful, is that you have deadlines to meet. I had less than 6 months to write Summer of Ghosts and so you have to be better prepared and plan more. That being said, every time I sat down to write the story would take me be surprise in so many ways. With the third book (in my head I am calling it The Fall of Hope) I have spent a day in a Victorian prison and spoken to a charity for victims. I know the broad outline of the book and have two notebooks full of ideas, but over the next 4 months I will write the first draft and it will take on life of its own.

 

What advice would you give to new writers aspiring to publication?

Write. I did a two-year creative writing course that was excellent and it didn’t teach me to write but it challenged me to flex my writing muscle and try different styles and think about who I was and what I wanted to say. During the course I began the book and at the end of the course I had 67,000 words and I had shared almost all of it with ten people who had helped me grow my characters. Having people you trust to take the journey with you is great – but we all have different circumstances. If you want to get published you have to write a book. Judge your own efforts with a critical eye and don’t be afraid to throw out large swathes. Write and re-write and discover what makes you tick as a writer. Don’t be afraid.

 

And lastly, what does the rest of 2014 have in store for you? 

Well there are only 4 months left and mostly I will use that to write the first draft of my third novel. As I said earlier the Dani Lancing mystery is 3 novels and 4 novellas, so I also have a novella to edit and a novella to write.

The other creative project, pinging about in my head, is a TV show I have written an extended outline for. This year I sold TV rights for TLWODL to Warner TV. It will almost certainly come to nothing but has been exciting (I do like a conference call with Hollywood) – but during the process I was thinking a lot about crime TV and was approached by a UK production team who also wanted to option Dani. I turned them down, but pitched them a new idea, written specifically for TV. They liked it, so I have written the 5 episode break-down and will make that into a script (in my spare time). It will probably never get made (I find it much easier to be pessimistic about TV and movies) – but I have really enjoyed writing it and I think it is bloody good. Anyway I shouldn’t get bored over the next six months.

 

A huge thank you to P D Viner for popping over to see us at the CTG blog and letting us grill him. It sounds like he’s going to be busy for good while yet!

To find out more about P D Viner and his books, hop on over to his website at: http://pdviner.com/

Dear Daughter cover image

Dear Daughter cover image

What the blurb says: “LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record. 

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?”

Published last month, there’s been a lot of buzz around this book and when I opened it up and started reading I could totally understand why. Told from the point of view of Jane “Janie” Jenkins you follow the IT girl turned criminal as she searches to find the truth about her mother’s murder – did she do it? If she didn’t, who did and why?

It’s an action-packed, cross-country race of a read with plenty of twists and turns as Janie follows the few clues she has to the secrets in her mother’s past – the family Janie’s never met, the childhood her mother never spoke about – hunting out anyone who can help her find out what links her glamorous, wealthy mother to a small town out in the middle of nowhere.

But it’s not easy with the media, and an especially determined blogger, out to find her. So Janie goes undercover, transforming her super bitchy, razor sharp-witted, hair to die for self into a more wallflower-esq alter ego. And it works, for a while. But as she digs deeper, and starts to uncover the secrets hidden for so long by her mother, and those of other members of the close-knit community, her true identity – and the danger that brings – is discovered.

This is a fabulous read. Janie is a real love-to-hate protagonist – smart and resourceful, and I loved riding along with her on the hunt for the truth, but couldn’t help gasping aloud at some of her more bitchy observations [no spoilers - you have to read the book to see what I mean!]. Noah, her long-suffering lawyer is a sweetheart, and the wonderfully larger than life characters in the small town Janie ends up in are brilliantly drawn.

Mystery, suspense, a non-stop pace and a wonderfully quirky, strong female narrator – this book has them all. I read it in a single weekend.

Highly recommended.

 

[with many thanks to Harvill Secker for my copy of Dear Daughter]

Personal by Lee Child cover image

Personal by Lee Child cover image

What the blurb says: Someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president but failed to kill him. The suspected sniper has serious skills and is a hard man to find. Reacher tracked him down once and put him in jail. Now he’s asked to hunt him again, and put him away permanently.
Tracking the shooter will take Reacher from France to England after a killer with a treacherous vendetta. He’ll need to uncover who did the hiring and what’s behind the assassination attempt before executing his orders.”

As a massive fan of Lee Child’s writing, I must confess that it was a huge thrill and a privilege to get to read an advance copy of PERSONAL.

In PERSONAL – the latest novel and nineteenth in the Jack Reacher series – Reacher spots an advert in the Personals from a military colleague asking him to get in touch. He owes this guy from way back and so Reacher being Reacher, he makes the call and finds himself pulled into a high profile case that threatens international security.

There’s been an attempt to assassinate the French president. The sniper fired from a range of fourteen hundred yards, more than three-quarters of a mile. There are very few people in the world that could have made the shot, and one of them has a bad history with Reacher. Question is, was he the one who pulled the trigger? And, if he was, can Reacher track him down before he tries again at the London G8 summit?

Partnering up with young agent Casey Nice, Reacher follows the trail, taking him from the US to Paris, on to London and back to the US. But with half-truths and bureaucracy at every turn, the inter-agency team remains a step behind their person of interest. With the time ticking away, Reacher takes matters into his own hands – in a way that only he can.

This is a fast paced, action packed story, with all the twists and turns you’d expect from a Reacher novel. Reacher himself is as witty and smart as ever, and a strong mentor for Casey on her first operational mission on overseas soil. And it’s great to see Reacher making a trip across to Europe. I particularly loved the London scenes, and picturing this great anti-hero in locations that I know.

Cinematic and slick, this heart-thumping, page-turning read is a must for all thriller fans.

Highly recommended.

 

PERSONAL is out today in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and on September 2nd in the US and Canada.

[with big thanks to Random House – Bantam Dell for my copy of PERSONAL]

Penguin Journeys Logo

Penguin Journeys Logo

With the last bank holiday of the summer here, there’s still time to get bookish inspiration from the fabulous #PenguinJourneys team.

#PenguinJourneys strives to make boring travel-time a thing of the past by giving holiday reading recommendations from Penguin Random House UK and its wonderful authors.

If you’re looking for a recommended read, simply tweet your bookish question to the team using the hashtags #AskaPenguin and #PenguinJourneys this Friday lunchtime to receive a recommended read in book, eBook, audiobook or even perhaps a podcast format.

You can also check out the fabulous #PenguinJourneys blog pages at http://penguinblog.co.uk/ to see some of the great journeys and reading recommendations they’re talking about including some sneak previews like a fabulous extract of The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion.

If pinning is your thing, #PenguinJourneys has teamed up with authors including Clare Balding and Graeme Simsion to take you on a literary odyssey around the world. Find out more on Pinterest here: http://www.pinterest.com/penguinukbooks/pack-your-bags-for-a-literary-odyssey-with-penguin/ and explore famous literary journeys, listen to extracts from the audiobooks mapped to each voyage, and be inspired by stories from their holiday destinations.

Let’s make this the best bookish bank holiday of 2014.

Happy Reading!

Dagger in the Library logo

Dagger in the Library logo

The Crime Writer’s Association (CWA) 2014 Dagger in the Library Award gives the chance for us, the readers, to nominate our favourite British crime fiction authors for the prestigious award.

Sponsored by Dead Good Books, the Dagger in the Library is given in honour of the author’s entire collection of work to date rather than one specific book. Previous winners include Belinda Bauer, Steve Mosby and Stuart MacBride.

Nominations close on 1st September 2014, so make sure you hop on over to http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/index.php/dagger/ and nominate up to three of your favourites.

What’s more, you’ll be automatically entered into a draw and in with a chance of winning £200 worth of crime books!

 

Michael Sears

Michael Sears

Today, Michael Sears, Edgar-nominated and Shamus-winning author of Black Fridays, drops by the CTG blog to talk about storytelling, family and the importance of reading …

I come from a family of storytellers. There were five children and to get any attention in that crowd, you had better have a good tale to tell. My father left me both his sense of humor and his heart, but it was my mother who fed my love of reading and language.

She was a powerful story teller and still is; it is her voice that is most heard at a family gathering. My cousins tell about a time when she was visiting and in the middle of telling a good yarn, a paper napkin, too close to the dinner candle, burst into flame. Without pausing for as much as a deep breath, or missing a beat in her story, my mother poured her water glass over the conflagration, doused the fire, and wrapped up the whole mess in another napkin. They were all in awe of her.

The various adventures of Freddy the Pig, in a series of two dozen or so books by Walter R. Brooks, introduced to me the idea of character, despite the fact that the few humans in the stories barely spoke. Freddy, Jinx the cat, and the cow, Mrs. Wiggins were all sharply drawn, complex characters with points of view, strengths, and weaknesses that made them distinct. They were talking animals, but they were more human to me than the Hardy Boys, who I could never keep straight. Frank was the older one, right?

One of the many benefits of being an avid reader, is that when your nose is deep in a book, parents think you are working and leave you alone. I was not excused from chores or having to do homework, but they couldn’t insist that I play with my little brother while I was reading.

I remember sometime in high school telling my father that I was reading War and Peace and he asked me, “Why?” “Because it is a challenge,” I answered. “It is the longest book I have ever read.” I don’t remember much of the story, but I do remember that it was very long. It was a challenge.

But a few years later, I was a lifeguard for the summer at a private club on a deserted stretch of Fire Island. The only access was by boat, or a mile hike along the beach from the next club, which was much fancier and had a ferry that ran to it (that was my daily commute). The club would get very busy on the weekends, but there were many days during the week when I was the only person there – all day. I couldn’t shut the beach down unless the weather or surf conditions warranted, so I sat there and read. I read all of Shakespeare that summer. Imagine the thrill it was for me to read aloud Henry V, or Lear, or Prospero, seated on a tall lifeguard’s chair, with the constant roar of breaking waves as background. It was a glorious summer.

I don’t understand writers who claim not to read. Not every reader has a book in them, but every writer must know what has gone before, if only to avoid the most common mistakes. Being a writer, now with two books published and a third due out next year, places me on a great timeline that stretches back for millennia. Like Homer, and the various writers of the tales of Gilgamesh or Beowulf, I am also a bard. A storyteller.

Mortal Bonds cover image

Mortal Bonds cover image

A big thank you to Michael for dropping into the CTG blog today. 

Michael Sears’s Mortal Bonds, the follow-up to Black Fridays, marking the return of financial investigator Jason Stafford in a sensational story of fraud, murder and redemption is out now, published  by Duckworth Publishers.

 

cover image

cover image

Last year David Khara, author of The Bleiberg Project, dropped by the CTG blog to talk about the launch of his new conspiracy theory action thriller eBook. As The Bleiberg Project – the first in the Consortium Thriller series – has now come out in paperback we thought we’d re-blog the interview and excerpt. 

But, before we get started with the interview, here’s a little taster of the book (please note contains strong language):

Excerpt:

“Besides work and getting high, what do you do all day?”

No answer. You’re out of luck, pal. I’m pig-headed. “The journey will seem shorter if we talk, don’t you think?”

He sighs. “When I’m not on an assignment, I paint.” I can’t help laughing. “You think that’s funny?”

“I’m picturing you on a stool with your palette and brush, gazing at a green valley or a snowy mountaintop. Sorry, but with your look and build, it’s funny!”

“If you’re just going to make fun of me, the trip is going to seem very, very long.” He clams up.

“There’s no harm in a little fun. OK, I’ll stop,” I snort, laughing even louder. Why do giggling fits always hit at inappropriate times?

“What about you? Besides driving home from clubs dead drunk, what do you do?”

Bastard. That’s below the belt. On second thought, I guess I deserved it. “I try to survive. I thought about blowing my brains out, but I’m too much of a coward. So I drink. I smoke like a chimney. Every day, I destroy myself a little bit more.”

“Suicide isn’t a sign of bravery, but of giving up. We all make mistakes. You don’t judge somebody by the number of blows they can give.”

“What do you judge somebody by, Mr Freud?”

“The number of blows they can take.”

His words hit home. “You’ve taken a lot, right?” I ask. A long, long beat.

“More than you can ever imagine.”

Why am I not surprised? This guy’s been around the block. I’d bet my life on it. “How do you do it?”

“Pardon me?”

“Blowing guys away like that. How do you do it?”

“Who said it was easy?” He sighs heavily. A long awkward silence.

(Excerpted from The Bleiberg Project by David Khara. First published in French as Le Projet Bleiberg, ©2010 Editions Critic. English translation ©2013 Simon John. First published in English in 2013 by Le French Book, a digital-first publisher specializing in best-selling mysteries and thrillers from France.).

And now, for the interview …

So David, your new book, The Bleiberg Project, is a thriller with links to World War II. What was it that inspired you to write a novel along that theme?

The whole idea for The Bleiberg Project idea came while I was driving to my office, listening to the news. A pharmaceutical company was doing research on an orphan disease that touched fewer than 100 kids in Europe. A man said that the study was being ended because the budget was 50,000 euros short. I was stunned. These companies make tons of money, amazing profits, and 50,000 euros is a drop in the ocean. When I got to my office, I started looking into the subject and found articles establishing links between Nazi and Japanese scientists during WWII and pharmaceutical companies. I also found information about how Allied governments were interested in the results of immoral and incredibly cruel human experiments. Through my research, I realized the world we live in rose up from the ashes of war, and was built on the corpses of 60 million victims. I wanted to write about it, through entertainment to make it more bearable.

What research do you do to ensure the atmosphere, locations and characters feel authentic?

The answer is pretty easy: 1000 hours listening to survivors, watching documentaries over and over again, and reading biographies. The point was not for me to merely tell the stories. I needed to get in the minds of both victims and criminals. I wanted to be there with them. This inspired many of the characters of the series, even those set in the present day. And everything that happens in the past is, at one point or another, is based on the truth.

Tell us a little about your writing process, do you plot out the story events before sitting down to write, or do you drive right in and see where the story takes you?

It is a very delicate mix of both. I’ve got a few dots I need to link together to get the whole picture. I do not use notes, nor do I write an outline. I know what I’m going to write, and since the novels are built as puzzles with chapters taking us back in time, I have everything in mind before starting. That means I constantly think about it. There is just no day off when I start working. Still, the absence of a written script gives the characters some space to explore unplanned directions. My job is then to make sure they don’t stray too far from the plot and my goals.

How do you organise your writing day: do you have a favourite time and place to write?

My writing day is a well-established ritual. I write in my garden, a cup of coffee on the left side of my computer, and my cigarettes (bad, I know) on the right side. I put sunglasses on, then headphones because I need music to keep me in the mood of each chapter. With that, I’m ready for 6 to 8 hours of intensive writing. I usually work from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening, with a break for lunch. When I’m not in the mood for writing, I go back to my research.

And what’s next for you, are you planning your next novel, or already well into the writing of it?

The Morgenstern Project, the third book in the Consortium thriller series, was just released in France, so I’m traveling a lot for book signings and interviews. My next novel is planned, and I’ll start writing it pretty soon and it is about time because I’ve had it in mind for three years now and lots of readers ask for it. The Bleiberg Project movie production should move to a new phase soon, which will have a direct impact on my schedule. 2014 will be a very busy year, believe me.

A big thank you to David Khara for dropping by to talk to us. To find out more about David and The Bleiberg Project, you can check out the link below:

Web page: http://www.thebleibergproject.com