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Thursday, 14 January 2021

Helen and Alison Tour 15th February


Alison Morton and Helen Hollick talk about their latest novels, Double Identity and A Mirror Murder.


It was with great delight that I met up with authors Alison Morton and Helen Hollick at CrimeFest in Bristol a couple of years ago. The three of us chatted over coffee (or was it wine?) about our future projects, and to our surprise both Alison and Helen, by pure coincidence, expressed their interest in branching out into writing something different to their usual novels. Ideas are all very well, but they do not always go further than a mere idea. However, I’m delighted to welcome Alison and Helen here to talk about ‘what happened next’...

 

Mel shivered. A cold breeze drifted over her bare backside. Dieu, the window must be open. Stupid in late November in London. But windows had been the last things on Mel’s mind last night.

Still drugged with sleep, she stretched out her hand towards Gérard’s face. His eyes were closed, the lashes resting on his pale cheeks. Too much time indoors, Mel thought and smiled. In his early morning relaxed state, Gérard looked more like a boy of seventeen than a man of thirty-seven.

Her eyelids were so heavy. She closed them. After a few seconds, she realised she wasn’t tired, just thick-headed. Opening her eyes again, she blinked hard then tugged on the duvet to cover them both against the too fresh air, but it was trapped under Gérard’s body. Never mind, she could think of a much more pleasurable way to warm up than hiding under the bedclothes. She stroked his skin with the tips of her fingers sliding over the fine brown hairs on his shoulder, then down his chest and over his stomach towards…

He didn’t stir.

He was cold. Stone cold.

 

“Thank you, Chris ... How’s that for an intriguing opening?” says Alison about the first of her new thriller series, Double Identity. “As I mentioned when we sat and talked, I knew I wanted to build on the success of my Roma Nova series, but what? Then it hit me. The new book would be  about a heroine with a strong connection to Poitou in France, which is where I live.”


She adds, “My Roma Nova thrillers are about an alternative society run by people descended from Romans who run their modern-day lives on Roman lines. Double Identity is a contemporary thriller  in the ‘real world’ featuring a tough and courageous heroine who has a dual nationality, which gives  some lovely internal conflict, especially with her British co-protagonist, DS McCracken, who is as prickly as his name sounds! My six years in army uniform left me a lot of useful background information, but I pored over French Ministry of Defence and armed services sites for hours to be certain of the French version! The most intriguing was researching French military voice procedure when using walkie-talkies! I also had to get other details right:  whether you can find a garage open on Sundays in rural France (you can’t!), the close community of  French rural life and the contrast with Brussels  and London big city life.

DS McCracken and Mel investigate in Double Identity


“We are both established and experienced writers,” Helen says, “I’ve known Alison for a long time now, particularly through our mutual interest in promoting good indie and self-published writers. I was first published in 1994 with my Arthurian Trilogy and Saxon historical novels, but when self-publishing started to become widely available around 2007, I went ‘solo’ with an idea I had for a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series. Being independent also means I can diversify when I want to, write to please myself and my readers, not adhere to a rigid mainstream contract. For A Mirror Murder, I wanted to write something where I could use my thirteen years of experience working as a library assistant during the 1970s – all those anecdotes I have stored in my memory – although I hasten to add I have never been involved in murder or serious police procedures!”

 


ABOUT A MIRROR MURDER:

Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.

 

But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram,  a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered... Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into  murder?

 

BUYING LINK:

Amazon Author Page (Universal Link) http://viewauthor.at/HelenHollick

ABOUT DOUBLE IDENTITY:

Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

 

It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

 

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

 

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover with the European Investigation and Regulation Service and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.

 

Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?

 

A good read for fans of Daniel Silva, Stella Rimington or Chris Pavone. 

 

 BUYING LINKS

Kindle:  https://mybook.to/DoubleIdentity    (ASIN: B08P5YD3CN)  

For all ebook and paperback retailers: https://bit.ly/3s0XUlV


 

 

ABOUT ALISON

Alison writes award-winning thrillers series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.

 

"Grips like a vice - a writer to watch out for" says crime thriller writer Adrian Magson about Roma Nova series starter INCEPTIO. All six full-length Roma Nova thrillers have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices.  AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review.

 

Alison now lives in Poitou in France, where part of Double Identity is set and is writing a sequel as well as continuing her Roma Nova series.

 


CONNECT WITH ALISON

On her thriller site: https://alison-morton.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alison_morton @alison_morton

 

 

ABOUT HELEN

Helen and her family moved from north-east London in January 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farmhouse through BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show.

 

First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages.

 

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She also runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction. She is currently writing more Voyages for the Sea Witch series and the next in the Jan Christopher Mysteries series. She has other ideas for other tales – and would like the time to write them!

 


CONNECT WITH HELEN:

Website: www.helenhollick.net

Facebook: www.facebook.com/HelenHollickAuthor

Twitter: @HelenHollick

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Christmas Greetings in this Strangest of Years

 


Before I start with my overview of the year, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I hope your turkey is nice and plump, you’ll probably still be eating it at Easter. I trust your wine is nice and chilled and you empty the bottles on Christmas day. And I hope Santa will fill your stocking with plenty of goodies and lots of books. As the old saying goes, ‘You can never have enough socks at Christmas’ well, just change the word ‘socks’ to ‘books’ and it’s spot on.

 

So, what has this year held for me? It started out well enough, although there were these rumours of a new disease in China. But China is far away from Scotland, so what was there to worry about? I was finishing my new book, Dangerous Destiny, and getting it ready to publish once my editor had taken her pruning scissors to it. Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics had done a brilliant cover for the book and I knew people were waiting for it, particularly at the markets I regularly visit with my bookstall.

 

In agreement with what Rabbie Burns said in his poem To a Mouse ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley’, my plan withered and died in front of me.

 

My last market was at the beginning of March and I was gaily promising my reader customers – the new book will be on my bookstall in April. But, as we all know, by the end of March we were all in lockdown and there was no April market.

 

I now had 150 copies of my new book with nowhere for it to go!

 


From March until July, I never ventured outside my garden gate. So, when lockdown ended and I gathered enough courage into my hands to walk up to the High Street (I was forced, I had to post a book to a keen reader) it felt very strange indeed. Next, I tentatively ventured to my newsagent, and it wasn’t too bad. However, I wasn’t yet prepared to cancel all my online deliveries, so I stayed well clear of the supermarkets.

 

It was at this time I was contacted by a television company wanting to commission me to take part in an episode of Secret Scotland with Susan Calman to talk about Devil’s Porridge, the explosive not the book. This was an offer I couldn’t refuse, but it meant travelling to Gretna, which was a hotspot for the virus at that time.

 

With Susan Calman at Eastriggs filming Devil's Porridge

I enrolled the help of my granddaughter and she drove me to Gretna, where we stayed overnight before filming at Eastriggs the next day. I must admit I was scared silly at the thought, but we did it and it all went smoothly, and no, I didn’t contract the virus, neither did my granddaughter. Susan Calman and the whole TV crew were lovely, and it was an experience I would have hated to miss. Oh, and if you’re interested, it was the Secret Scotland series 3, episode 4, Galloway and the Borders and it was shown in October on Channel 5.

 

Back home I became a hermit again and I’ve remained very much a hermit ever since. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever feel confident enough to brave the wide world again, outside my garden wall?

 

Looking on the bright side, I’ve become adept at Zooming! I’ve done several author panels on Zoom, as well as some interviews and talks. It’s a strange old virtual world.

 

The other bonus is that my new book, Dangerous Destiny, has been trickling out due to readers messaging me on Facebook to order it and online sales are also ticking away. Quite surprisingly, though, I’ve had a sudden rush on a Salt Splashed Cradle, which is not one of my crime books. It’s a historical family saga set in the 1830s in the fishing and whaling communities in north-east Scotland. I suppose you could call it a gritty romance. I’m absolutely hopeless at writing anything fluffy or light-hearted. My characters are more salt of the earth types.

 


Well, that’s about the strength of my year and I really must put my head down and try to finish my new work in progress. If it ever gets finished, it’s a contemporary thriller, the fourth in my Dundee Crime Series, and it’s all about the sequence of events when my main character, Tony Palmer, wakes up next to a dead body.

 

Have a lovely Christmas everyone and let’s hope the coming year is a lot better than the year that is now finishing.

 

Chris Longmuir

 Web site: chrislongmuir.co.uk

 Amazon Author Page

 

 

 

 

Friday, 9 October 2020

Secret Scotland and Devil’s Porridge


 

Most of you who follow me and read my books will be familiar with one of my Kirsty Campbell mysteries, Devil’s Porridge. What I hadn’t expected would be that someone from TV land would have noticed it. But notice it they did, and an email landed in my inbox asking if I would like to take part in an episode of Secret Scotland and asking me to phone them.


Now, in this day and age of multiple scam emails, I must admit I looked at it with jaundiced eyes but it looked reasonably genuine so I gathered my courage into my hands and phoned the number. And, guess what, it was genuine!


Filming was planned for July, not long after the government lifted the lockdown, So, accompanied by my granddaughter, we drove down to Gretna in a state of great excitement. The only thing dampening my enthusiasm was my Covid hairdo and my Covid teeth. No time to get them sorted, and I wasn’t going to turn down an invitation to appear on TV simply to cater for my vanity.



We stayed overnight in Gretna and then travelled to the film shoot at Eastriggs early the next morning. So early, we barely had time for breakfast. In between showers and the sound of passing cars on the main road that runs past the Devil’s Porridge Museum, Susan and I chatted about Devil’s Porridge, the explosive not the book, and the gigantic munitions factory built in the area during the First World War. The factory was so large it stretched for nine miles along the edge of the Solway Firth from Dornock in the north to Longtown, near to Carlisle, in the south.



In the Eastriggs part of the factory, the munitionettes made the devil’s porridge, a mixture of guncotton and nitroglycerine which was then transported to the Longtown end to turn into cordite, a propellant for use in the guns at the front.



Susan and I discuss the munitionettes and how their life was in the munitions towns of Eastriggs and Gretna. Parts of the discussion cover the role alcohol played in the townships and how the government of the time handled this. We also take time out to look at the social life of the munitionettes and Susan has a wee whirl around the dance floor.



If you would like to join us by viewing this episode of Secret Scotland, it’s on tonight (Friday 9th October) at 8 pm on Channel 5. If you would prefer to view it later, you can see it on catch up. It’s series 3 episode 4, Galloway and the South, and here is the link https://www.channel5.com/show/secret-scotland/


Me and my granddaughter being photo bombed by Susan Calman

I hope that if you manage to view the programme you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed taking part.


Chris Longmuir


Social media handles 

@SusanCalman (Twitter)

@officialsusancalman (Instagram)

https://www.facebook.com/Susan-Calman-44711520390

@channel5_tv (Instagram and Twitter)

@channel5uk (Facebook)


Monday, 31 August 2020

Life - Not As We Know It


Strange times lead to strange solutions. As humans, we are unaccustomed to being cut off from our fellow human beings. It brings a multitude of problems of which social isolation is only one. It changes us. Our reality becomes a different reality. The new normal, whatever that is.

But we humans are, if nothing else, innovative. We are reluctant to let go of our social lives. So, we turn to virtual living through apps like Zoom and several others. In the process, we have all become proficient Zoomers.

I must admit, until we went into lockdown I had never heard of Zoom. But now I’ve taken part in meetings, chats, virtual coffee mornings, quizzes, and even an AGM. Not forgetting a couple of author panels and some interviews. Who would have thought?

Click the link to watch the Dundee and Angus Crime Panel on YouTube: 

https://youtu.be/lWiJtZsAZgw

People also engaged in other activities. Exercise, walking (when we were allowed out), cooking, and baking. I filled my freezer with individual homemade meals within a short time after I locked my door to the outside world. I’ve also baked cakes and scones, something I haven’t done since the early years of my marriage before I became caught up with more important things.


I’ve also learned how to freeze things like spare bread – I use to just bin the leftovers. I’m old enough to remember rationing and it’s as if that time has returned to haunt us. Nothing goes to waste.


The lockdown gave us all time. Time to reflect, time to indulge in other things, and something which had become alien to me – leisure. I’ve always been a workaholic, so to have all that spare time on my hands was a unique experience. Not that it did me any good.

You see, for some authors the lockdown was a chance to increase their output, for others it had the opposite effect. Raising barriers to the writing process where no such physical barriers exist. I’m afraid I come into the latter category. My production over the lockdown period has been abysmal. I suppose it boils down to the old saying ‘if you want something done ask a busy man – or in this case a busy woman’. And, the availability of masses of extra time means we are all less busy.

But now lockdown is more or less over and we are being offered more freedom, how is that going to affect us? I suspect that, apart from the section of the population who want to crowd out the pubs and go on illegal raves, the rest of us will be cautiously turning the key in our locked door and seeking the outside world with a degree of trepidation. We may have been offered our freedom, but are we brave enough to take it.


Will it be a brave new world where anything is possible. Or are we entering into a world which is no longer safe? Only time will tell.


Chris Longmuir

Web Site

Amazon Author Page


Monday, 10 August 2020

My Birthday Bargain Offer For You

 

When you look out of the window tonight, will you notice the moon is blue? And will you ask yourself why it has changed colour? Well, it’s simple really. You see, I’ve done something I rarely do, I’ve reduced the prices of all my novels to £1.99 and that equates to a saving of £2.00 on each book.


Now, it’s extremely unusual for me to reduce the price of my books. After all, each one takes over a year to write and the usual price of £3.99 is actually quite good value for a year’s hard work. They also sell well at the usual price, so what has prompted me to reduce them for the rest of the month of August.


The reason folks is that I’m a Leo. This is my birthday month and what better way to celebrate than to offer my readers a bargain. The other factor, of course, is that these are unusual times, so what better time to do something unusual than now.


So, come and help me celebrate my birthday and I guarantee to maintain the bargain until the stroke of midnight on the 31st of this month. When that witching hour strikes the bargain will disappear and like Cinderella fleeing the ball, the magic will vanish and the moon will no longer be blue.


Happy birthday to me and happy reading to you.


Chris

Website

Amazon Author Page

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Long Wait is Over Dangerous Destiny has Arrived


These are strange times, and I'm having to adapt to living in isolation in the same way as everyone else. But at least I have my imaginary friends to keep me company. They talk to me and live in my imagination, and then I write them down and share them with you. Sometimes I think my characters are more real to me than other people, although they don't always do what I want them to. And they astonish me by what they say.

So, for the past year, I've been living with my suffragette characters and, with a great deal of trepidation, I've launched them out into the wide world. I wonder how they'll fare there? Will my readers like them as much as I do? Or will they wave them away with a disparaging gesture? Time will tell.

No doubt you've guessed by now that my new historical murder-mystery 'Dangerous Destiny: A Suffragette Mystery' is now available to buy. It's out in paperback and Kindle, and in view of the strange times we live in, I've done something I've never done before. I've made the Kindle version available for Kindle Unlimited, which means that if you subscribe, you can read it for free. Otherwise, it's the same price as the others £3.99 in the UK and whatever that converts to in the US.

Here is a view of the cover, designed by Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics. She does a great job.


The story is a combination of coming of age with a murder-mystery at its heart. It's a story about three suffragettes who come together to try to solve the mystery of who is killing suffragettes in Dundee, Scotland. They are frustrated because the police are doing nothing to investigate the murders, taking the view that suffragettes are a nuisance and society would be better without them.
First we have Kirsty, a naïve young girl with a secret in her past, who is trying to break free from her controlling family. Then we have Ethel, trying to escape her vicious and abusive father. Martha, a seasoned suffragette, takes them under her wing and introduces them to women's suffrage.
Of course, they run into danger before everything is solved. And in the process, we find out whether Kirsty and Ethel will break their family bonds and forge a new destiny for themselves.

You can find the Kindle version by clicking HERE.
And the paperback version by clicking HERE. 
If you are in the US, just change the .co.uk part of the link to .com

There will be no physical launch for this book at Waterstones, and I'll miss meeting all my lovely readers and supporters. So, now I need to get back to my lonely isolation but, hopefully, there will be some imaginary friends waiting for me. I do hope you have some imaginary friends as well and if you don't, I'd be delighted to share mine with you.

Take care.

Chris

Website
Amazon Author page

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Dangerous Destiny - Cover Reveal



The wait is almost over. Dangerous Destiny is with my editor and I'm hoping to get it published before too many moons have passed.

This book is part of a new suffragette mystery series and I've set it in Dundee, Scotland, in 1908. The story involves three women, a seasoned suffragette, a working-class girl escaping her abusive father, and a young girl breaking free from her controlling family. They join forces to find a killer who is targeting suffragettes. So, the book is a mix of murder mystery and rites of passage as the two younger girls choose a different destiny for themselves.

Well, what do you think? Do you like it? I'm quite chuffed with it. I think my cover creator has done a good job and now all I need is for my editor to complete her work and get the manuscript back to me. Then it will be all systems go.

Watch this space!

Chris Longmuir

Website

Amazon Author Page