Spotlight: The Serpent’s Tail by Martin Dillon

the serpents tail

They were recruited as police informers but they found themselves caught up in a shadowy counter terrorist war.

From the bestselling author of The Shankill Butchers and the Dirty War, The Serpent’s Tail is a novel based on a true life sting involving the IRA, the SAS and MI5. It is a gripping thriller based on a true sequence of events in which two young Belfast Catholics are recruited as informers and find themselves at the heart of a ‘sting’ involving the IRA, the SAS and MI5. The Serpent’s Tail is the first work of fiction by the man Conor Cruise O’Brien has described as ‘The greatest living authority on Irish terrorism.’

The true story of an SAS inspired sting against the Provisional IRA which almost destroyed the organization. The IRA later admitted that the operation was a brilliant piece of planning by the SAS and the British Intelligence Agency, MI5. Its success was, however, short-lived leading to the sacrifice of many agents and the emergence of a more determined and ruthless IRA leadership.

About the Author:

Martin Dillon has won international acclaim for his unique reporting and is considered one of the foremost experts on global terrorism and organized crime. His bestselling trilogy, The Shankill Butchers, The Dirty War and God and the Gun, from his twelve non-fiction works, is regarded as the definitive account of the Ireland conflict. He began his distinguished career as a newspaper reporter and later became a program editor with the BBC. He has written plays for television, as well as documentaries, and has been featured on television networks in Europe and across North America. Martin Dillon lives with his family in San Francisco.

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Author Interview: Eve Goldberg

Hi everyone!

I’m very excited to introduce today’s guest, Emmy-nominated writer and filmmaker Eve Goldberg. I had the opportunity to speak with her about her first novel, Hollywood Hang Ten, as well as discuss what pushed her towards fiction and more.

Enjoy! 🙂

Q. What’s the story behind the title of your book Hollywood Hang Ten?

A. I wanted a title that evokes the setting in which the story occurs, as well as one that gives a hint of the content. The novel takes place in 1963, primarily in Hollywood and Venice Beach.  Our hero-detective is a surfer on his first solo investigation.  The murder at the center of the book’s plot has its roots in the Hollywood blacklisting era of the 1940s and 50s, when the Congressional House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was investigating left-wing “subversion” in the motion picture industry.

Long ago I took a workshop from Allen Ginsberg in which he had us blindly combine unlikely words together. I used that technique to come up with the title.  I wrote a messy list of about 60 or 70 words and phrases, then started madly mix-and-matching until I found the combination that felt right.  “Hang Ten” is a surfing maneuver done on the long boards of the 1960s.  The “Hollywood Ten” were a group of screenwriters who were blacklisted and went to prison for refusing to cooperate with HUAC.

Q. How did you create the plot for this book?

A. Hollywood Hang Ten didn’t start out as detective fiction. It started out as a story about a boy who runs away from home.  But as I began writing, I realized that I wanted to write it as a murder mystery.  I trashed what I had written and began again.  Unlike some other forms of fiction, when writing a murder mystery it’s crucial for the writer to know how the story ends, so I wrote an outline of the entire book, then based my first draft on that.  In subsequent drafts, I added period details and deepened the characters and their relationships to make the story come alive.

Q. You have numerous accolades in the documentary film industry, including the Emmy-nominated “Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist”, “Cover Up: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair” and “Maestra”. What made you gravitate towards writing a fiction novel this time instead?

A. In 2007, I was diagnosed with acute leukemia. I came close to dying, way too close.  After recovering, I didn’t have the stamina to do much film work, so I began to focus more on writing for print media.  I wrote several non-fiction essays which were published, then turned to fiction.  I had the core of the story for Hollywood Hang Ten floating around my brain for years; finally I sat down and wrote it.  There’s nothing like a brush with death to get a person moving.

Q. Having worked in both the film and writing industry, is there one you prefer? If so, why?

A. It’s a toss-up. I feel very fortunate to have worked for many years as a writer, editor, and eventually a producer-director in the film/video industry.  It’s wonderful to be part of a creative community, to collaborate with others, to work both on mainstream projects that reach a huge audience and on independent documentaries which attempt to speak truth to power.  On the other hand, the freedom of working alone on my writing has so many upsides.  I can set my own schedule, answer to no one but myself, and indulge my imagination and quirky pet interests.

Q. What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?

A. I was a somewhat cynical but basically optimistic teenager. I was certain that history, pushed forward by movements for social change, moved inexorably towards less suffering, more peace, more equality.  What I’m really glad I did NOT know then is that the president of the U.S. in 2017 would be Donald Trump, the divide between rich and poor would be growing by the minute, and we would be involved in who knows how many never-ending wars.  It might have put a damper on my energy and hope.

Q. What’s one of your favorite quotes?

A. My favorite quote comes from Salman Rushdie. It’s a saying that swirls around my mind again and again, especially when faced with difficult challenges:  “Our lives teach us who we are.”

Part of the quote’s appeal to me is its context. Following the publication of Rushdie’s novel Satanic Verses in 1988, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini called the novel “blasphemous against Islam” and ordered the author’s execution.  Forced to live underground for several years, Rushdie continued to write, including the personal essay “In Good Faith.”  Here are the final sentences of that essay:

“And I feel sad to be so grievously separated from my community, from India, from everyday life, from the world.

Please understand, however: I make no complaint.  I am a writer.  I do not accept my condition.  I will strive to change it; but I inhabit it, I am trying to learn from it.

Our lives teach us who we are.”

“Our lives teach us who we are” reminds me that while our lives can change unpredictably in an instant, the measure of who we are is based on how we meet each challenge. It reminds me to relish and embrace life, including all the ups and downs.  It reminds me that the only thing I can control is how I respond to what life presents.

Q. Do you have a routine for writing? Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

A. Like a lot of writers, my best time to write is in the morning.   If I don’t write in the morning, chances are that I won’t write at all that day.  I can fool myself and say that I’ll write “after a walk” or “after I call so-and-so” or whatever, but it probably won’t happen.

I go through periods where I write nearly every day for a couple of hours. I also go through periods when I don’t write at all.  A few years ago, I joined a small writing group.  We meet twice monthly.  For me, the feedback from other writers is super-helpful.  Also, knowing that our next meeting is fast approaching motivates me to buckle down and write so that I’ll have something to read at the meeting.

Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write? Why?

A. Hollywood Hang Ten was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever written. Writing non-fiction has always come relatively easy for me, and that’s where most of my writing experience lies.  In terms of fiction, I’ve written a few short stories and a few movie scripts, but this is my first novel.  Plotting a fictional story, especially one that must cohere to the tropes of a murder mystery, was a challenge.  My natural inclination is to say, Could this really happen? Does that seem real? My comfort zone during the writing process was in the research — grounding the fiction in real mid-century Southern California history, culture, and architecture.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. Right now I’m working on what might be a novel and might be a novella. It’s titled Lankershim Nights, and genre-wise it’s about as far from a murder mystery as you can get.  It’s a story about three generations of idiosyncratic women.  The main characters are  a gender-fluid 28-year-old with impulse control issues, and her alcoholic grandmother.  I don’t want to say much more about the book, except that it includes underground bunkers, multiple POVs, and an adventure in New Zealand.

____________________

eve

Eve Goldberg is a writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker.  Her screen credits include the Emmy-nominated “Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist” (co-writer), “Cover Up: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair” (writer) and “Maestra” (writer).

Her writing has been published in American Popular Culture, The Reading Room, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Hippocampus, and Censored: The News that Didn¹t Make the News. Hollywood Hang Ten is her first novel.

Other info:

Website:  https://eve-goldberg.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/eve.goldberg.3

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36048984-hollywood-hang-ten?from_search=true

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hollywood-Hang-Ten-Eve-Goldberg/dp/1786080281/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508540818&sr=8-1&keywords=hollywood+hang+ten

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Hang-Ten-Eve-Goldberg/dp/1786080281/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504113084&sr=1-1&keywords=hollywood+hang+ten

Book Trailer Launch: Cayleth Warding and The Scarlet One by Jessica Hernandez

Who doesn’t love a good book trailer?

I’m pumped to share the trailer to Jessica Hernandez’s newest novel, Cayleth Warding and The Scarlet One. Click HERE to check it out!

CaylethWardingandTheScarletOne.png

Fifty-three families looking for a new beginning board a ship and sail to an uninhabited island. Happily they live for well over two decades. Homes are built and the past is forgotten. Paradise, however, is no more after the adults suddenly vanish one night. For three years, the teens and children rule the island of Oridd. For three years, they survive. When an old woman unexpectedly appears on Oridd, all is cast into disarray as the strange and awful threaten to become commonplace. The old woman wants something, and she won’t leave until she gets it.

 

Spotlight: Shu Wei’s Revenge by Jackson Fahnestock

shuwei

 

SYNOPSIS

This is a story about strength of family and friendships, heartbreak, perseverance, and personal trauma. The setting is 1898. In his role as Town Scribe in the sleepy village of Sanhou, China, seventeen-year-old Shu Wei is caught up in an incident in the town square, which ultimately causes the family to be banished from the town.

The ensuing journey to San Francisco’s Chinatown gives rise to the intrigue, mystery, and tension that only escalates the deeper the story goes. Shu Wei ultimately finds himself working for a local newspaper while he juggles the scurrilous demands and threats of Tong members as he attempts to restore his family’s honor.

It is his growing experience as a cub reporter and writer that brings him the confidence to confront not only his own mortality but the brutal world around him.    

About the Author

Jackson Fahnestock traveled as an architect, working on large-scale projects, in China, Taiwan, Vietnam and other parts of the world. His experiences formed the basis for Shu Wei’s Revenge. He earned a Bachelor Degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois and two Masters Degrees – one in Architecture and the other in Urban Planning at Columbia University in New York.  His first book, To Preserve a Heritage, was about landmarks in Lower Manhattan. He lives in San Francisco.

SHU WEI’S REVENGE

A Young Man’s Journey into the Depths of the Underworld

Available now on Amazon!

By Jackson Fahnestock

  • Price:  $12.95
  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Bayside Press (September 6, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 0998803413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0998803418

Interview with Author Piers Anthony

Piers Anthony is one of the world’s most popular fantasy authors, and a New York Times bestseller twenty-times over. His Xanth novels have been read and loved by millions of readers around the world.

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

A. If I lost my memory and had my choice of reading matter, I hope my favorite would be Piers Anthony. I try to write what I would like to read. As for other authors, I have admired many in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fields, from Robert A Heinlein on down. I am also an admirer of the plays of George Bernard Shaw, and not just because he was a vegetarian.

Q. What advice do you have for other writers?

A. Publishing is changing so much now that much of what I might say would become dated about ten minutes after I wrote it. So I’ll just say read and study the genre you are in, keep writing and improving, and may the world go well with thee.

Q. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

A. For me the best thing is getting to exercise my imagination and being independent. I can’t be fired for someone else’s mistakes.

Q. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

A. It used to be dealing with publishers, who were like insensitive robots interested only in money, regardless what they claimed. But the old order is passing and the new publishers I am dealing with are generally more compatible. Some of them even like good fiction. So now the hardest thing is facing the prospect of my declining ability with advancing age. I’m not capable of simply letting it go and retiring. So when I no longer write well, I hope I am the first, not the last to know it.

Q. Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

A. My web site is http://www.hipiers.com where I have a monthly column, commenting on whatever is on my mind, and background information on my titles. I have also written two autobiographical books: Bio of an Ogre and How Precious Was That While.

Q. Where can a reader purchase your book?

A. From wherever the publisher puts it.       

Q. What are you doing to market the book?

A. Precious little. I’m a writer, not a marketer.

Q. Who inspires you?

A.  The world inspires me.

Q. Have you written other books? Where can readers purchase them?

A. I have written about 175 other books. Readers can find many of them listed on Amazon. Many readers like my Xanth fantasy series, which now number 42 novels, not all in print yet.

Q. Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

 A. I needed to decide on my college major. I pondered a day and a night, and it came to me: I wanted to be a writer. It was like a light turning on and it has guided me ever since.

Q. Does your family support you in your writing career? How?

 A. My wife supported me. She went to work so I could stay home and try to be a writer. That was when I broke through with my first story sale – for $20.00. But it led to greater things, in time.

Q. When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

A. Writing is my passion and my life. All else feels like dross. But I do make the meals and wash the dishes, as my wife is infirm. I also like to play cards on the computer, mainly Free Cell, which I believe is the best card game ever.

Q. What is your favorite line from a movie?

A. Great lines in movies are myriad, but it’s the quiet personal ones that get to me the most that others may not even notice. There was one whose title I don’t remember, where a man, a widower, got a girlfriend he was considering marrying. His early teen daughter lived with him. When the woman made them a meal, the man told the teen to do the dishes. The girlfriend intervened. “No, she doesn’t have to do that. I’ll do it.” Why?  “She’s your daughter and I want her to like me.” That disarming candor surely ensured that the girl would like the woman.

Q. What do you like to snack on while you write?

A. I maintain my college weight, and I exercise seriously. I don’t eat between meals. I’m pretty fit for my age, pushing 82, and mean to stay that way.

Q. When you walk into a book store, where is the first place you go?

A. The last local book store closed down.

Q. What is the funniest thing that you’ve been asked during an interview?

A. At the moment I’m not thinking of anything funny in an interview. But I was amused by a sentence in my fan mail: “Ha! Caught you reading fan mail!”

            Sometimes I do learn things from my fan mail.

            I had a suicidally depressive girl in one of my novels (Virtual Mode, if you must know) who regularly cut her wrists so that they bled. So she wore red bands on her wrists to conceal the blood. A reader wrote that I had it wrong: blood dries black, so she needed black wristlets. I suspect she spoke from experience.

 

 

 

 

Guest Post – Author Andrew Joyce

GUESTPOST

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. J.D. has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new novel RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure. I think it’s a good book, but what do I know? Anyway, I’m kinda shy about tooting my own horn. So I think I’ll turn things over to my dog, Danny. He always has an attitude and usually does not speak highly of me. But please understand that we co-exist as the old Soviet Union and the United States once co-existed. We tolerate each other. So without further ado, here’s Danny the Dog.

Andrew took me away from one of my favorite pastimes—barking at dogs that have the temerity to walk down my street—to help him out here. For a person that works with words for a living, he has very little to say in real life. He wants me to tout his book for him, but I don’t think I will. Instead, I think I’ll tell you about my latest adventure. I’m always having adventures, and I like to write about them. And what I write about is usually 100% true. For those of you who are for the first time being graced by my literary genius, I am Danny, dog extraordinaire. My fans know me as Danny the Dog and I live on a boat with my human, Andrew. Now it’s time for another one of my fur-raising adventures and in this one I shine. I am the hero.

It was a dark and stormy night (not really). Andrew was fast asleep in our boat. I was on the dock patrolling the perimeter. When I’m on guard duty, I am always vigilant and on my toes.

They came out of the darkness. There were at least thirty of ’em, and they were all armed to the teeth. But they didn’t scare me, no sir! I stood up to them, and for every blow I took, I bit three. And when the fur stopped flying, there were bodies strewn everywhere. And those not lying on the dock were in full retreat.

Okay . . . okay already! Andrew is giving me the evil eye. He’s always telling me that I can’t tell lies when relating one of my adventures. Well, he said barefaced lies. Whatever!

I reckon I’ll listen to him this one time and tell you what really happened. But I’m still the hero.

It was around midnight, I was asleep and dreaming of hotdogs. (It was a good dream. In it, I was running through a field of hotdogs and eating every one of them.) Then I heard a noise and sat up. There was some guy walking right up to our boat just as fancy as you please. Well, I wasn’t going to take that, so I barked at him. He did a U-turn and made a hasty departure. And that was the end of it.

You know . . . I wish Andrew would stick to his own story-telling and let me do mine. It sounded a whole lot better when I defeated thirty killers.

That’s about it for now. If I hurry home, I might just be able to make it in time to catch the neighborhood dogs taking their humans for their evening walk. That’s always good for some first-rate barking.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot—go out and buy Andrew’s new book. It’ll make the old guy happy.

This is Andrew again. On behalf of Danny and myself, I would like to thank J.D. for having us over. It’s been a real pleasure.

Andrew

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, RESOLUTION. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, YELLOW HAIR.

 

Author Interview with Shannon Condon

finding magdalena

Author Shannon Condon is joining us today to discuss  her experiences as an author and her debut novel, Finding Magdalena.

Q. When did you realise you wanted to become an author?

A. I realized I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school and went to college with that goal in mind. Of course, life happens and it wasn’t until recently that I have had the opportunity to realize my dream.

Q. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A. The message I want readers to take away from this book is abuse in teenage relationships and at the teenage level, whether in a relationship or not, is a very real thing. I think girls are particularly susceptible at college when they are away from home and looking for security which is often equated with a boyfriend. Abuse can come in many forms and I knew many girls who experienced it, myself included.

Q. What genre do you consider your book(s)?

A. My book has been labeled by the publisher as coming of age/ young adult. Due to the nature of the content, I would recommend it for 15+.

Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

A. I think the hardest part of writing this book was keeping the length to a reasonable length. I had a lot more I wanted to add to the book but had been advised not to go over a certain word count. Fortunately, that is what sequels are for.

Q. Do you have any advice for other writers?

A. My advice to other writers is not to get discouraged. I received lots of rejection letters before I decided to self publish. I am still sending query letters to publishers. Just because what you write doesn’t strike a chord with one agent doesn’t mean another won’t love it. The most important thing is to believe in yourself and make sure you EDIT your manuscript before you send any part of it to an agent.

Q. How long does it take you to write a book?

A. It’s hard to put a timeline on how long it takes me to write a book. I can spend a couple of months developing a book and the characters before I actually put a single word on my computer.  Once I begin writing, however, I would say it takes about six to eight months.  I am constantly rewriting in my head even as I am writing on my computer and this leads to deleted chapters and backtracking. It’s important to me that when I am done, the characters are strong and the story fluid.

Q. What books have most influenced your life most?

A. I think the books that have had the greatest influence on me are the ones that I don’t want to end. They draw me in so much that I am immersed in another world. Some examples would be my all time favorite, ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding and the Hunger Games series.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

A. Right now I am working on the sequel to Finding Magdalena. I am very excited about it because I feel that Maggie is growing as a woman and in strength. There will be a lot of surprises and I hope everyone who has been asking for a sequel will be asking for more!

Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters from your book?

A. To be honest, I cannot think of any current actress who could play Maggie. She is such a unique character. I would envision a new face playing her if a movie was made of Finding Magdalena.

Q. What’s is your book about?

A. My book is about a girl named who suffers a terrible tragedy at fifteen. As she begins to recover with the help of her best friend, Graham, she meet’s her roommate’s older brother, Eric. He becomes obsessed with Maggie. His obsession becomes violent and he abuses and sexually tortures her. She flees to Spain to attend college and try to find her mother’s estranged family. Just as she settles into what she believes is a safe life, Eric finds her and she begins a journey across Europe to escape him that draws upon all her strength and shows her the woman she is meant to be.

Author Interview with Stephen Leather

Stephen Leather was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. His bestsellers have been translated into more than ten languages. He has also written for television shows such as London’s Burning, The Knock and the BBC’s Murder in Mind series. For much of 2011 his self-published eBooks – including The Bestseller, The Basement, Once Bitten and Dreamer’s Cat – dominated the UK eBook bestseller lists and sold more than half a million copies. The Basement topped the Kindle charts in the UK and the US, and in total he has sold more than two million eBooks.
Stephen joins us today to discuss his new novel, New York Night.

Q. What inspired you to write the Jack Nightingale series?

A. I always loved the Black Magic books of Dennis Wheatley when I was a kid and I’m a huge fan of the Constantine character in the Hellblazer comics (graphic novels as they prefer to be called these days). And I just love supernatural films, especially haunted houses and things that go bump in the night. With the Nightingale series I wanted to explore the supernatural world but with a hero who is very much grounded in reality. The first three books – Nightfall, Midnight and Nightmare – really explain his backstory, how he became the man he is. The next two – Nightshade and Lastnight – explain why he had to leave the UK and the subsequent books will be set mainly in the United States, hence San Francisco Night and New York Night.

Q. Do you have a specific writing style?

A. I try not to have a style. Like most journalists-turned-writers I try to tell my stories simply with uncluttered prose. If I find myself over-writing I tend to hit the delete key and start again. I try to write my books as if I was writing for a newspaper, where it’s the information that is being conveyed that’s important, not the style in which it’s written. I do like to write fast-paced books, with lots of dialogue and not too much descriptions. For me, the story is everything.

Q. How did you come up with the title?

A. As Jack Nightingale is the hero, I decided it would be neat to have the word ‘Night’ in all the titles, though after Nightfall, Midnight, Nightmare, Nightshade and Lastnight I have to confess I was running out of options. I don’t think Nightdress was going to cut it as a title!  The rest of the titles will be the name of a city, plus Night. So I have already published San Francisco Night and New York Night, and later this year I hope to publish Miami Night.

Q. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A. The knee-jerk answer is that my books are to entertain and that I’m not trying to teach my readers anything, I just want to tell them a good story. But on reflection I do think most writers want their readers to put down a book having at least learned something. With my Spider Shepherd thrillers I do try to point out the way the world is changing, how it is becoming a more uncertain and dangerous place and how the authorities are trying to deal with that. With the Jack Nightingale books that mission to explain is less pronounced and really I am trying to tell a good story, though there is of course an underlying moral that good always triumphs over evil. The problem with that moral, of course, is that it isn’t true – evil often wins, which is sad.

Q. What books have most influenced your life most?

A. The book I have read the most in my life is One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I love the way it’s such a small story but with such depth. It’s a book about character but through that character you understand an entire political system. I read Harry’s Game by Gerald Seymour several times before I wrote my IRA thriller The Chinaman. Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre was an inspiring book but it is so good that after I read it I gave up thinking I could be writer for several years.

Q. Do you have any advice for other writers?

A. Read. Read a lot. Read good books and bad books and learn from them both. Write every day if you can. I think though that real writers don’t need advice, not about writing. Real writers will be constantly reading because they love books. And they will be constantly writing because they love to write. You need to find your own voice, you need to write the books that you want to write, or that you feel you have to write, and I don’t believe anyone else should be telling you what sort of books to write or how to write them. I don’t think real writers need advice because real writers are self-motivated to improve their craft. They know what needs to be done! Self-publishing is a different matter, there you do need advice because you have to take care of covers, blurbs, marketing and so on. Google self-publishing guru Joe Konrath and read everything he has to say about self-public

Q. What genre do you consider your book(s)?

A. The books published by Hodder and Stoughton are thrillers, pure and simple. The Jack Nightingale series – which Hodder and Stoughton originally published but which I now publish myself – are supernatural thrillers, though they sometimes get labelled as occult thrillers, which is fine.

Q. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

A. You know, I don’t think there is such a thing, not if you mean a writer who simply cannot write. Like all writers I sometimes have trouble with a storyline or a section I’m writing, but if that happens I simply switch to writing something else, either a different part of the same work or even a separate piece. I always have half a dozen or so short stories in mind so if a book starts to give me problems I might take a few days off and write one of those instead. But as I’m writing a book I usually have several sections already planned out so blocking doesn’t become an issue. My advice to anyone who does feel that they are blocked is to start trying to write something else, anything, just to start the words flowing again!

Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

A. Actually New York Night was an easy book to write, partly because Nightingale is such a great character to work with and partly because I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen. It took about two months, from start to finish, and at no point did I hit any real problems. The ending didn’t come to me until the last week or so and I think that was probably the hardest part, coming up with a satisfying ending.

Q. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

A. I just love the Jack Nightingale character. When Hodder and Stoughton decided they didn’t want to continue to publish the series, there was no question that the books would stop. Jack just wouldn’t allow it. I love his sarcasm, his slight air of pessimism, and the fact that he just takes whatever life throws at him. He’s smart and thinks on his feet, yet because the supernatural world is so alien to him it’s constantly catching him off-balance. Having the books set in the United States is fun, because he’s always a fish out of water. It gives me the chance to explore different cities, too, which I enjoy enormously. This one was good fun because I know New York well, it’s one of my favourite cities. The next one will be set in Miami which is also a fun city.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

A. I’m writing the 13th Dan “Spider” Shepherd novel for Hodder and Stoughton. It’s called Dark Forces and is about an Islamic State sniper who is sent to London to carry out a terrorist atrocity. It’s hard work (40,000 words done with 80,000 still to go) but I’m enjoying it.  Once that’s done I’ll be writing a stand-alone novel about an arson investigator and then I’ll start Miami Night.

Q. What’s is your latest book about?  

A. The latest book I’ve self-published is New York Night, where teenagers are being possessed and turning into sadistic murderers. Priests can’t help, nor can psychiatrists. So who is behind the demonic possessions? Jack Nightingale is called in to investigate, and finds his own soul is on the line.

Hodder and Stoughton are publishing my thriller First Response on February 25, though I will be self-publishing it in the United States. In First Response, London is under siege. Nine men in suicide vests primed to explode hold hostages in nine different locations around the city, and are ready to die for their cause. Their mission: to force the government to release jihadist prisoners from Belmarsh Prison. Their deadline: 6 p.m. Today. But the bombers are cleanskins, terrorists with no obvious link to any group, and who do not appear on any anti-terror watch list. What has brought them together on this one day to act in this way? Mo Kamran is the Superintendent in charge of the Special Crime and Operations branch of the Met. As the disaster unfolds and the SAS, armed police, and other emergency services rush to the scenes, he is tasked with preventing the biggest terrorist outrage the capital has ever known. But nothing is what it seems. And only Kamran has the big picture. Will anyone believe him?

 

NY night

 

Guest Post by Author Faisal Ansari

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Author Faisal Ansari, took a drastic career change when he went from investment banker to author, and he’s here today, recalling one of his first tentative steps into the publishing world – meeting a literary agent!

It didn’t quite go as planned…

How I fucked up my first meeting with a literary agent

The demigod Zuul, worshipped by the Mesopotamians, Sumerians and Hittites was a minion of Gozer the Destructor; she was also known as the Gatekeeper.  

In the publishing world, the Gatekeepers are the literary agents. Very few traditional publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts. For a hopeful debut author the literary agents are the bridge to the promised land. You want someone to publish your wonderfully crafted prose? Get an agent. This is how not to do it.

As a new author seeking to go down the traditional publishing route I had two choices to hook an agent: Write hundreds of submission letters and wait and wait and wait and then watch as the rejections slowly dripped into my inbox; or try agent speed dating. Writers’ festivals across the country offer the opportunity to pitch your work directly to a real life literary agent. Prior to the festival you submit the usual cover letter, synopsis and the required chapters of your manuscript and on the day you have a 15 minute slot to discuss your work with an agent. So I paid my money, sent my submissions and rocked up to the Winchester Writers’ Festival.

In a room full of agents and nervous authors my first interview was horrific and went something like this:

Agent question: What genre is your work?

Answer given: Errr… it’s a page-turning thriller set in Jerusalem about a healer. It has strong spiritual, religious and supernatural undertows, but not vampires or werewolves or anything shit like that. [I actually liked the Twilight series, so no idea why I said the last bit].

Answer I should have given: A commercial thriller set in Jerusalem.

Agent question: Who would read it?

Answer given: Errr…Men and Women.

[Long pause].

[Trying again]. Errr…actually, everyone really. Most probably anyone who likes reading? [Yes, I managed to turn a stupid answer into a stupid question].

Answer I should have given: As a commercial thriller I believe the book will have wide popular appeal.

Agent question: Which book will it sit next to on the shelf?

Answer given: Errr…The Hand I Fan With by Tina McElroy Ansa [desperately trying to think of alphabetical shelf listings].

Answer I should have given: Any of the successful commercial thriller writers such as Dan Brown or John Grisham.

Agent question: Are you writing the next book in the series?

Answer given: Errr…no way. I have just emerged from my underground bunker after spending nine months of my short life writing this book. I am enjoying the sunlight and fresh air. I will start the next book soon, but right now I would rather eat my own feet than climb back in my bunker again.

Answer I should have given: Of course, I have so many exciting ideas for the next seven books in the series. I love writing, it is my life, my passion. I burst from the womb holding a pen.

Agent question: Who is your favourite author?

Answer given: Murakami.

Agent follow up question: What I have seen of your work it possess nothing like the flair of Murakami.

Answer given: Err…you asked me who my favourite author was.

Answer I should have given: Go fuck yourself you fluffed up arrogant arse.

You live and learn.

About the book:

Despite my pitiful interviewing skills, The Pestilence was published as an e-book and audiobook on 31 October 2015 by the indie publishing house Matador.

The book begins with a mysterious electrical phenomenon rolling above the cities of the world. The lightning which comes from the east, shines as far as the west, turning night into day.

Two brothers of the lightning, Samuel Srour and Victor Pierre Chaput, are gifted powers by the storm. Their paths intertwined, with enemies on all sides.

Samuel Srour has unwittingly started a revolution. His Healed walk the Earth, but powerful forces stand in his way and the Pestilence is drawing ever closer.

 

About the author:

Faisal Ansari has spent the majority of his adult life strapped into a suit writing marketing and stuffy legal documentation for M&A transactions in the City.

Despite growing up in London, Faisal’s overwhelming preference is to be outdoors. When trapped indoors he reads until his eyes bleed.

Faisal wrote full time to complete his first novel, The Pestilence.