Tag Archives: mystery book

Interview with George Stratford, Author of I Spy Bletchley Park

Hello,

Today’s interview is with George Stratford, author of I Spy Bletchley Park.

Please enjoy!

Best,

-Vincent Lowry

Interview:

1) What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?

I publish novels under my own name of George Stratford, and I live in the south coast holiday resort of Bournemouth, England.

 

2) What is the title of your newest book and what is the genre?

Currently, I am more than halfway through writing a new murder thriller set in the popular music world of 1970s London, but my most recently published novel is an historical adventure/thriller titled, I Spy Bletchley Park. This has been excellently received and reviewed here in the UK.

 

3) What is the book about?
This story is set in the years leading up to and during WWII. Embittered by the government’s seizure of her father’s large estate, Lady Margaret Pugh is recruited as a spy by Hermann Goering during the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. With her former estate bordering the town of Bletchley, once war is declared, the strange comings and goings at the nearby Park mansion gradually attract her attention. In an attempt to discover more, she deliberately befriends a young working-class WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) who is stationed at BP as a Morse Code Receiver.
The girl is Betty Hall, especially chosen for her ability to receive and accurately type high-speed messages. Before joining the WAAFs, she was also a budding child prodigy as a classical pianist. Her friendship with Lady Margaret is noted by Naval Intelligence, who are already beginning to suspect the aristocrat of spying on the country’s most secret establishment. A shocked and apprehensive Betty is recruited to assist them. Completely untrained for this kind of counter-espionage work, she can only do her best and hope.

Before long, the two women inevitably clash, and a desperate Betty finds herself as the only person in a position to save Bletchley Park from complete destruction.

 

4) Where did you come up with the idea?

My late mother was a WAAF stationed at BP for two years during WWII, and subsequently at one of the vital Y listening stations. Like so many others, she never breathed a single word of this until the 1980s when the secret had already become common public knowledge.

I wanted to write a fictional tribute to Mum. The codebreakers themselves have (rightly so) had volumes of both fictional and factual stuff written about them, but how about an adventure story featuring one of the less acknowledged workers in a heroic role? That was my reasoning at the start of things. After that, it was quite a logical move to create a spy who would place Bletchley Park in great danger. And better still, a female one with an aristocratic background in complete contrast to Betty’s south London working-class upbringing. Once Lady Margaret had been created, all the other pieces began to fall naturally into place.

 

5) How long did it take you to write it?

The amount of research required for this story was enormous, so if you include that, the whole process took me just about a year.

Spending time at the current Bletchley Park site was of course a mandatory requirement, and whilst there I was fortunate enough to become friends with one of the dedicated volunteer workers who do so much to enhance the centre’s visitor experience. John Bladen was a mine of invaluable information. Numerous times throughout the course of that year I needed to get back to him with some question or other on historical or technical detail, and he was always only to happy to help. I owe John a lot. So here’s another great big thank you, mate.

 

6) Did you learn anything from the project?

I suspect that you mean aside from the obvious mass of information during research that amongst many other things took in: the 1929 Stock Market crash; British politics of that era; the1936 Berlin Olympics, especially the equestrian events; and a host of personal details concerning Hermann Goering.

What I did learn was to totally rubbish the theory that females can’t keep a secret. At one time or another during the course of WWII, approximately eight thousand women (mostly WAAFs and WRENs) worked at Bletchley Park. Just like my own mother, not a single one of them ever sought to break the Official Secrets Act that they had all signed. Forty years were to pass before they were free to talk about their part in something that was truly amazing. How’s that for keeping Mum?

 

7) Do you have an author website and/or blog? How about a book video?

Please do come and visit my website at georgestratford.com . Amongst other stuff, you can read an extract from I Spy Bletchley Park in which Lady Margaret is first introduced to Hermann Goering by a Nazi loving former boyfriend. This extract is not available to read anywhere else. There is also lots of info here about my other novels, together with a middle grade children’s story set in the Philippines, and a memoir of my time when I went from being an out of work no-hoper to an award-winning copywriter at the world’s most famous advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. Mad Men? More of a Mad Ride, I’d say.

 

8) Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?

The best tip I can pass on is always use the ‘Read Aloud’ function to check your manuscript. With anything that you have written yourself, the eye so very often will read what it is anticipating seeing rather than what it actually there on the page.

Being an editor myself who has worked very closely with best-selling fantasy author Brian D Anderson on fourteen of his novels, including all of The Godling Chronicles and the Dragonvein series, I know how well this simple trick can work.

 As for cover designers, I’ve always found Lou Harper to be efficient, speedy, and very reasonably priced.

 

9) What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work?

 Adventure stories and thrillers, sometimes with an historical background in the way Ken Follett does them, are my most preferred reads. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed quite a bit of Stephen King’s work, especially the Mr Mercedes (Finders Keepers) trilogy.

Thanks to my work with Brian, I am now also rather more open to some kinds of fantasy work as well.

I always try to set aside at least half an hour a day (usually just before hitting the pillow) to read a new book. Of course I am open to new authors, and am very happy to post a positive review when I feel it is deserved. The only problem is, if I find that I can’t get on with a book, I would rather not post anything at all than be destructive. Why stamp on something when others might genuinely enjoy it?

 

10) What is your favorite book of all time and why?

 My thesaurus: Without it, where would I be when I’m stuck for the right word?

 

11) Fun Question: Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

No pets as such, although I do have a make-believe Dobermann posted outside my door to keep away unwanted visitors when I’m on a writing roll.

 

12) Fun Question 2: Do you own an electronic reading device? If so, what kind and how do you like it?

Yup, I’ve got what might be termed as a pretty ancient kindle that still gets used a fair bit. The truth is though, I honestly prefer the feel of a proper book in my hand. It’s also so much easier to flip quickly back to check on something with physical pages. You know, when a character who we haven’t seen for several chapters suddenly appears again and you need reminding of who exactly they are. This is especially true if you find you only have time to read in small daily bites the way I tend to do.

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Interview with Susanne Leist, Author of Prey for the Dead – Book Two of The Dead Game Series

Hello,

Today’s interview is with Susanna Leist, author of Prey for the Dead – Book Two of The Dead Game Series.

Please enjoy!

Best,

-Vincent Lowry

Interview

1) What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?

 

Susanne Leist

New York

 

2) What is the title of your newest book and what is the genre?

 

Prey for The Dead, Book 2 of The Dead Game Series

Paranormal suspense

 

3) What is the book about?

 

Prey for The Dead is the second book in The Dead Game Series. My main character, Linda, and her friends find themselves faced with the return of The Dead vampires. These vampires aren’t as peaceful as the vampires living in Oasis, Florida. A love triangle develops where Linda is caught between a hybrid—half vampire and half man—and a vampire. Their adventures take them to an exclusive club in Disney World and the swamps of southern Florida to defeat the evil vampires.

 

4) Where did you come up with the idea?

 

Vampires living in Florida came from my overactive imagination.

 

5) How long did it take you to write it?

 

The book took me a year to write, a year for others to proofread, and six months for me to edit.

 

6) Did you learn anything from the project?

 

My publisher edited my first book, The Dead Game. I used the ProWriting Aid program to edit my second book, Prey for The Dead. The program gave a more comprehensive edit than the Outskirts Press’ editor. I felt confident enough to send my book for a Kirkus Review. The reviewer liked the story and the supernatural mystery. 

 

7) Do you have an author website and/or blog? How about a book video?

 

My author website is https://www.susanneleist.com/

My blog is https://susanneleist.wordpress.com/

 

I have book trailers. My newest one is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pILNxaD5XlI

 

 

8) Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?

 

My best tip for a new author is to have your promotions prepared in advance before you launch your book. I learned this from experience.

 

9) What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work?

 

I read all genres. I don’t stick to the same authors. I enjoy reading books written by different authors.

 

10) What is your favorite book of all time and why?

 

My favorite is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. This book led me to read mysteries, and it set my expectations for future books. For me to enjoy a book, it must have plenty of twists and turns. Thank you, Agatha Christie.

 

11) Fun Question: Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

 

I have a Maltese. His name is Nounous, which means a teddy bear in French. My daughter gave him his name.

 

12) Fun Question 2: Do you own an electronic reading device? If so, what kind and how do you like it?

 

I own a kindle, but I read e-books on my computer. I prefer paperback books.

 

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Interview with Donald Firesmith, Author of The Secrets of Hawthorne House

Hello,

Today’s interview is with Donald Firesmith, author of The Secrets of Hawthorne House.

Please enjoy!

Best,

-Vincent Lowry

Interview:

1) What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?
My name is Donald Firesmith and I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

2) What is the title of your newest book, and what is the genre?

My newest book is The Secrets of Hawthorne House. It is a young adult modern urban fantasy.

 

3) What is the book about?

On moving next door to a dilapidated Victorian mansion, 15-year-old Matt meets Old Lady Hawthorne, the town’s infamous recluse who is said to be a witch and a murderess. When her niece arrives with her three children, something extraordinary happens. Matt meets Gerallt, the strange boy destined to become his best friend. And when Gerallt divulges the Hawthornes’ family secret, it changes Matt’s life forever.

This is the story of an unlikely friendship, the clash of two radically different cultures, secret magic, and a search for the lost Hawthorne treasure.

 

4) Where did you come up with the idea?

I wanted to show how two boys from totally different backgrounds and with opposite beliefs could eventually become friends and learn to accept each other.

 

5) How long did it take you to write it?

About 15 years. I worked on the book for a couple of years until I was about 90% done, but I could not think of the right ending. I put the manuscript away and wrote five other books. One day, I pulled out the manuscript, re-read it, and realized that I knew how it ends. It took me about another year to complete and go through the rewrite and editing process.

 

6) Did you learn anything from the project?

I learned that sometimes the best way to complete something difficult is to put it aside and do something else. That not only gives you a new perspective that helps you solve the problem; it also gives you time to practice and hone your craft so that the end result is much better than it would have been otherwise.

 

7) Do you have an author website and/or blog? How about a book video?

My author website is http:/donaldfiresmith.com, and my blog is part of it. I’m in the process of producing a trailer for my most recent book.

 

8) Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?

Keep writing because even if practice doesn’t make perfect, it does make improvements. Each one of my books is better than the previous one. The Secrets of Hawthorne House would not have won the 2019 Readers’ Favorite silver medal in the young adult urban paranormal category had I completed it over a decade ago.

Be an indie author; it is very easy with ebooks and print on demand. It also gives you so much more artistic control and better royalties.

Use editing tools (e.g., I use Grammarly and AutoCrit) in addition to human editors. Also, the more beta readers, the better. No matter how many people edit and read your book, some mistakes will always slip through, which is another reason to be an indie author. Each time someone  points out a problem, I go in, fix it, upload the new files, and the new version is available in a matter of hours.

Rudi Parfaite did the cover of The Secrets of Hawthorne House, my most recent book. He is the lead environmental artist for a Paris-based gaming company. He took my architectural drawings of the old mansion and perfectly recreated it. His cover deservedly won a best cover of the month award.

 

9) What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work?

I write the kind of novels I like to read: speculative fiction such as science fiction, traditional and paranormal urban fantasy, steampunk, and horror (with monsters, not psychopaths). I read a lot of authors who have not yet made a name for themselves. Knowing how critical reviews are, especially for indie authors like myself, I always leave a review for each book I read.

 

10) What is your favorite book of all time and why?

The Tolkien trilogy (yes, I know it’s not one book but three) because I can be read over and over again without it ever getting old. When I spent a year studying in Germany, I wanted to immerse myself in written and spoken German. Tolkien was the only English-language book I allowed myself to take with me.

 

11) Fun Question: Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

Our family has two dogs (one quite neurotically needy) and a wonderful cat.

12) Fun Question 2: Do you own an electronic reading device? If so, what kind and how do you like it?
I own a Kindle Fire, and I love it. Not only is it a great way to read; it is surprisingly inexpensive for being such an unexpectedly powerful tablet computer.

 

As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Interview with B.R. Bentley, Author of The Banker’s Box

Happy Friday!

Today’s interview is with BR Bentley, author of The Banker’s Box.

Please enjoy!

Best,

-Vincent Lowry

 

Interview:

What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?

B.R. Bentley (pseudonym). I live in British Columbia, Canada.

 

What is the title of your newest book and what is the genre?

The Banker’s Box – Mystery/Crime

 

What is the book about?

The unanticipated consequences of a casual remark leading to the unexpected disappearance of a flamboyant banker.

 

Where did you come up with the idea?

All my novels are inspired by real events as is this one – inspired by the disappearance of a local banker.

 

How long did it take you to write it?

About two years – interrupted fairly frequently by my boxer dog. High energy and very demanding.

 

Did you learn anything from the project?

Crime and politics are a continual influence on our everyday lives.

 

Do you have an author website and/or blog? How about a book video?

Author website is www.brbentley.com No book video.

 

Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?

Read Stephen King’s book – On Writing…it’s my writing bible. Have used several editors all of whom added value. Also used Beta readers – essential. Latest cover designer did excellent work on interpreting what I I tried to outline verbally.

 

What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work?

I read pretty much anything. I’m studying Novel Writing and writing my next novel at the same time so limited time for reading and reviewing new authors. That said I’d be happy to engage for brief conversations (skype, WhatsApp  etc.) if it helped another writer with their work.

 

What is your favorite book of all time and why?

Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Peyton. I loved the ‘voices’ in the book. Smacks of authenticity.

 

Fun Question: Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

Dog and cat. My wife also has a horse.

 

Fun Question 2: Do you own an electronic reading device? If so, what kind and how do you like it?

Still prefer paper. So hard copy books although I do read university and other material on my Samsung laptop.

 

*As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Interview with E.G. Moore, Author of Rowdy Days of Dom Sanders

Hello,

Today’s interview is with E.G. Moore, author of Rowdy Days of Dom Sanders.

Please enjoy!

Best,

-Vincent Lowry

Interview:

1) What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?

Hi! I’m E.G. Moore, and I dwell in Idaho, USA. The land of the lakes, which inspire me.

 

2) What is the title of your newest book and what is the genre?

My newest book is entitled Rowdy Days of Dom Sanders. It is a modern crime/adventure retelling of Tom Sawyer.

 

3) What is the book about? 

Main character Dom Sanders lives a charmed small-town life until his new neighbor Taylor moves in. Dom witnesses a drug-related murder, and his identical boot prints and some other evidence makes Taylor the prime suspect. Dom must decide to let his bully take the fall or speak up and risk his safety to do the right thing. Lots of country fun mixed into this one… horses, chores, tough girls, barn fires, etc… A lot of my adult readers say it has a nostalgic feel they love.

 

4) Where did you come up with the idea?

At first, I had read about how middle grade boys were reading less than any other part of the population (about seven years ago), and how obsolete the classics were because current generations couldn’t relate to them. I adore retellings, so I wanted to rewrite a classic in a way that would attract and appeal to that audience. Some of the adventure elements also came from stories my husband, brother-in-law, and in-laws told me about my husband’s family living a low-income, high-innovation lifestyle. It grew and morphed into this fun, crime adventure that I hope everyone will enjoy.

 

5) How long did it take you to write it?

Dom went through about six years of changes. I wrote the first draft my second year of National Novel Writing Month, and it’s been through about one dozen rewrites, and then had scenes moved around and changed after that. My husband took a picture of me with notecards spread all over our living room rug. I had an agent and all the major publishers considered it and offered personalized rejections that softly stated they didn’t want to deal with a couple sensitive topics within its pages. Eventually, I decided that self-publishing was the way to go.

 

6) Did you learn anything from the project?

I learned so many things about writing. This was my second completed manuscript, but it felt like an attachment of myself. I really played with and enjoyed discovering how to make each character incredibly unique and memorable. I also fell in love with middle grade, the wonder and joy of the character arcs that come from that audience’s age category. This debut novel taught me a lot about the self-publishing realm. My previous experience in marketing and promotion helped, but indie authors have so many options at their disposal and choosing the best for their work can be both daunting and fulfilling.

 

 

7) Do you have an author website and/or blog?

Yes, both of them can be found at https://egmoore.wixsite.com/website. I’ve also got a teacher and student newsletter in the works because I think teachers need resources to help them be the book representative superstars that they are.

 

8) Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?  The best tip I can give fellow authors is to demand the best for your work. Be the best author you can, pay for the best covers and editors if you’re an indie author, and give your words the hard work that both them and your readers deserve. My book cover artist is pretty fantastic www.kingscustomcovers.com. Darrin really listens to what you want and isn’t afraid to let you get involved in the creative process. He’s also patient about changes in deadlines, as books occasionally do. Tell Darrin that Emily sent you!

 

I have three amazing editors that I highly recommend!

 

Michelle Hauck, story weaver extraordinaire. She will make your story better. Period. (Note: Currently not taking editing projects. Her books are amazing too!)

 

Jenny Leo – She’s all about the details.

 

Alena Orrison – Tough love that whips your grammar into shape.

 

 

9) What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work? I’m an avid reader of British classic fiction (think Austen and Bronte), fantasy, Sci-Fi, and non-fiction on certain topics. Every once in a while, I dip into clean mystery and unique, realistic dystopian. I may or may not have a slight conspiracy theorist streak.

 

I’m not against reading new authors and reviewing, but I tend to quit reading if it’s not catching, and I’m an honest reviewer. If I don’t like it, I say so. Also, lyrical writing and characters beat plot for me every time. Note: I read a lot of teen fiction because I’m a wimp when it comes to graphic violence or sex due to past personal experiences.

 

10) What is your favorite book of all time and why?

Oh, this question. I utterly fail at this answer every time. Every time. I’ll go with the one I read annually and then my most recent favorite. If you adore culturally rich myths, you MUST read Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest. Seriously. Go get it right now. Library. Amazon. Whatever. It’s worth it. All the sensory details and how much the Sorcha speaks without saying a word is magical.

I would encourage fantasy lovers to check out Eliza Tilton. She’s created a world I got sucked into and gobbled up in her Daath Chronicles. She’s working on several series now and I’m telling you, she can make you feel and see all the things. All of them.

 

*As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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