Blog Tour/Q&A: The Lido Girls by Allie Burns

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I’m delighted to co-host today’s stop on the blog tour for The Lido Girls by Allie Burns. And I’m thrilled that Allie has agreed to talk about the book, its inspiration and her approach to writing.

WinThe Lido Giveaway PrizesPlus there’s an absolutely fantastic giveaway with a chance to win a fabulous prize consisting of a Boden beach towel, St Tropez fake tanning face bronzer and a signed postcard – worth £40.  To enter click here.

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The Lido GirlsAbout the Book

Escape to the inter-war years in this emotional story where opportunity can be found at the pool-side in your local lido… Perfect for fans of Pam Evans and Gill Paul

Change is in the air… London, 1930s: Natalie Flacker is tempted by the glamour of the new keep fit movement, but when she is dismissed from her prestigious job in PE she loses the life she so carefully built. Echoes of the war’s destruction still reverberate through her life, and now she is homeless, jobless and without prospects.

But connections made on a summer holiday, with her best friend Delphi, create opportunities. When Natalie is offered a summer job at a lido at the seaside, she jumps at the chance. But is she up to the challenge of taking on a group of unfit women in need of her help?

Set against the backdrop of the beginnings of the pioneering keep fit movement; this is a feel-good reminder of just what’s possible when you find the courage to follow your heart.

Spend a very British summer with The Lido Girls!

Format: eBook (384 pp.)                 Publisher: HQ Digital
Published: 2nd October 2017         Genre: Historical Fiction

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Interview: Allie Burns, author of The Lido Girls

Without giving too much away, can you tell me a bit about The Lido Girls?

The Lido Girls is a heart-warming story of friendship set in the interwar years. Natalie gets caught up in a scandal at her prestigious physical education college and loses her job as a PE teacher. She goes to the coast with her best friend Delphi and when she takes on the Lido Girls she has high hopes for a fresh start. But first Natalie must find the courage to face up to her own fears and realise what she truly wants in life.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

I had some lessons to overcome my fear of going underwater and before I knew it I was swimming all of the time and reading anything and everything about swimming. There was one book, Waterlog by Roger Deakin, that had a section on lidos in Britain in the 1920s and 30s and there was just something about that period and the heyday of the British seaside resort that really captured my imagination.

The Lido Girls is set between the wars. What were the challenges in creating an authentic picture of life in that period?

There was a real divide between the rich and poor at the time. My main characters are middle class and comfortably off so I wanted to get across that whilst parts of the country were strolling along the promenade and cutting loose in the dance halls, in other parts of the country people were experiencing poverty and high unemployment.

How did you approach the research for the book? Do you enjoy the process of research?

This was the first time I’d written historical fiction, or carried out a research project, and so I think I got carried away and probably did more research than I actually needed to do. I read and learned so much that didn’t make it into the book, but I was fine with that because I was fascinated by so much about the era .

I visited quite a few museums and archives and I found talking to the volunteer historians the most rewarding aspect of the research because they were so passionate and knowledgeable about their specialist areas.

If The Lido Girls was to be made into a film, who would you love to see play Natalie and Delphi?

I tried to imagine who could play Natalie and Delphi in a film while I was writing the novel and I really struggled. The closest I could manage was a younger Cate Blanchett for Delphi, but I really couldn’t think who could play Natalie. Instead, for my inspiration, I cut out some photos from old magazines of two women who looked close to how I’d imagined them to look.

Do you have a special place to write or any writing rituals?

I have a desk, but I tend to move around the house while I write. The dents in the sofa are probably a big clue as to where I do most of my writing. If the weather is nice I like to write in the garden, but the glare from the screen makes it quite hard to see what I’m writing. In terms of rituals, the only one I have is that I need to write in silence because I get too distracted by background noise.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I don’t think I ever really believed I could become an author and so for a long time I enjoyed writing just for the sake of writing. When I did decide to take it seriously and try to write a novel I spent quite a long time going on courses and improving my craft and then even more time making false starts with novels. It was worth persevering and ignoring the pessimist on my shoulder though.

Which other writers do you admire?

I really enjoy Lionel Shriver’s stories, characters and prose and I love the way she’s her own person and does and says what she likes. I’m also a huge fan of Anne Tyler – I love the relationship dynamics she creates.

What are you working on next?

I am currently working on my second book which is due out with HQ Digital next August. It’s also an interwar years novel, set at the close of World War 1. This was such a difficult time for the country, and for many women who suddenly lost their new-found freedoms and jobs to make way for the returning men.

Finally, if you had to sum up The Lido Girls in three words, what would they be?

Uplifting, friendship, fitness.

Allie BurnsAbout the Author

Allie lives in Kent with her family and two tortoises.

When she’s not writing for business or penning her Women’s Historical Fiction, Allie enjoys swimming and yoga. She has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and The Lido Girls is her debut novel.

She is currently working on a second interwar years novel, which is due for publication in the summer of 2018.

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Interview: Untangling the Black Web by T. F. Jacobs

My guest today on what Cathy Read Next is T. F. Jacobs, author of Untangling the Black Web, an exciting political thriller involving corruption in the US medical system. I’m thrilled to bring you an interview with the author in which he talks about the inspiration behind the book and his approach to writing.

WinAnd T. F. Jacobs is offering one lucky reader the opportunity to win their own copy of Untangling the Black Web – paperback (US) or ebook (INTL).

To enter the giveaway click here.

The giveaway closes 12.00am GMT on 19th November 2017

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Untangling the Black WebAbout the Book

When David’s wife dies at the hands of a corrupt medical system, David is out for justice. With his skills as a lawyer and his position inside the biggest health insurance company in America – American True Care – he plans to bring down the system, from the inside.

David begins to work his way up the company while recruiting a clandestine team to build a covert case against American True Care. But this is a dangerous game and the players have ties to the highest levels of government. Propped up by lobbyists, senators, congressmen, and even the White House, American True Care will do whatever it takes to keep hold of its power.

As the web of deception and danger tightens around David and his team, they begin to realize that to win they have to risk it all – even their lives.

Format: eBook, paperback (252 pp.)   Publisher:
Published: 10th October 2017               Genre: Thriller

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Interview with T. F. Jacobs, author of Untangling the Black Web

Without giving too much away, can you tell me a bit about Untangling the Black Web?

I’d love to. Untangling the Black Web is about a man, David Higgins, who works for the largest health insurance company in the US. When his wife dies due to questionable medical practices that aren’t covered under his insurance plan, David decides to take on the system from the inside. He puts together a team of insiders and begins to work his way up the insurance company to a lobbyist position, where he works with senators and congressmen. But these are powerful people with dangerous ties. It becomes a race to build an incriminating case he can take to court before he and his team are found out.

What was the inspiration for the book?

There are some big issues in healthcare across the world and specifically in the US, and a lot of the issues stem from areas most people don’t focus on. I wanted to raise awareness about some of the things happening behind the scenes in regards to lobbying, contract loopholes, unregulated costs, lack of transparency, etc. I also wanted to make sure I presented these issues in a fun and exciting manner that made people interested in reading it.

The US health care system has been in the news a lot recently. Was it difficult tackling an issue that is the focus of such political debate?      

Yes! A big yes to this question. Everyone has their opinion on the matter one way or another. I was very careful to take a middle approach that didn’t take a political side one way or another. We can still raise awareness to the issues without taking sides, and I hope I did that in an entertaining way.

You’ve chosen an arresting title for the book. How did you come up with it?

Thank you, the title was one of the first things that came to me. The American Healthcare system is so complex with so many interconnected pieces, that to me, it seems like one big, dark spider’s web.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered when writing the book?

The research was a challenge for me. I like to write fast and exciting stories, and often the research slows me down. There was a lot to get right when it comes to healthcare, doctors, insurance, and lobbying.

Untangling the Black Web is your first published novel. Can you tell us about your writing journey?

Untangling the Black Web is actually my second book. My first is in a much different genre, and the two reader bases don’t mix. But as far as the process goes, I wrote the book in a little less than a month. For some reason everything was flowing. I went through two editors, and then started looking at how to get it out. I reached out to a few agents and actually had several requests to read the manuscript, but something I kept hearing was that Amazon publishing and self publishing dominate the market for political thrillers and other thrillers of the likes. So I found out about Kindle Scout, which is a competition if you will, where writers can submit their books, and after a 30 day campaign, Amazon will give you a definitive yes or no. Somewhere between 1-3% of books end up being selected for a publishing contract through the Amazon Imprint, Kindle Press. I was hopeful, but not optimistic given the odds, but a couple days after the campaign I was ecstatic to learn they’d selected Untangling the Black Web for publication.

To what extent has your background in marketing and advertising been helpful when promoting your book?

Marketing is everything when it comes to a book’s success. There are all sorts of avenues to pursue, like social media, search engine ads, blogs, and grassroots getting the word out. The book has done well so far, but my goal is to gather as many readers as possible, so there is still a ways to go.

Do you have a special place to write or any writing rituals?

I try to write in the first hours of the day before the day fully begins. Writing at home can be difficult because of how easy it is to get distracted, so I prefer to get out to a park or coffee shop.

Which other writers do you admire?

Blake Crouch is great when it comes to keeping you turning the pages. The late Stieg Larsson of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series is one of my all time favourites. I also enjoy psychological thrillers like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Such rich characters.

What are you working on next?

I’m actually working on a psychological thriller that I’ve just finished and am starting the editing process on. I’m super excited about it, so we’ll see what happens.

Thanks for those fascinating answers to my questions.  I’m sure the lucky winner of the giveaway will be thrilled to read Untangling the Black Web

T F JacobsAbout the Author

T.F. Jacobs writes stories, that as a reader, he’d want to pick up and never put down. Fast-paced stories tackling hot-button issues with twists and turns to keep you guessing till the end. Before focusing his career on writing, he worked in marketing and advertising. When Jacobs isn’t working on a book, you’ll find him at one of Southern California’s many beautiful beaches.

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Blog Tour: The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca Stonehill

Today’s guest on What Cathy Read Next is Rebecca Stonehill, author of The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale. The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is Rebecca’s third novel and I’m delighted to bring you my interview with Rebecca as part of the blog tour for the book. In it Rebecca talks about secrets, bringing to life the 1960s and her passion for history.

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The Secret Life of Alfred NightingaleAbout the Book

1967: Handsome but troubled, Jim is almost 18 and he lives and breathes girls, trad jazz, Eel Pie Island and his best friend, Charles. One night, he hears rumours of a community of young people living in caves in Matala, Crete. Determined to escape his odious, bully of a father and repressed mother, Jim hitchhikes through Europe down to Matala. At first, it’s the paradise he dreamt it would be. But as things start to go wrong and his very notion of self unravels, the last thing Jim expects is for this journey of hundreds of miles to set in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he hates most in the world: his father. Taking in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, the clash of relationships between the WW2 generation and their children, the baby boomers, this is a novel about secrets from the past finally surfacing, the healing of trauma and the power of forgiveness.

Format: eBook (299 pp.)                          Publisher: Sunbird Press
Published: 11th November 2017                 Genre: Historical Fiction

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Interview: Rebecca Stonehill, author of The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale

Without giving too much away, can you tell us a bit about The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale?

This story begins in 1967 with arrogant eighteen-year old Jim, following his painful transition into manhood, with glimpses into his insecurities and what might lie behind them. One night, he hears rumours of a group of young people living in some caves in southern Crete. Determined to see the place for himself, and against the wishes of his oppressive, out of touch father, he enlists the support of his best friend and hitchhikes down to Matala in Crete. Initially, Jim is spellbound by the place and the community of young travellers living there. But as the days go by, his insecurities come to the fore and the very last thing he expects happens: this journey of hundreds of miles sets in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he most hates in the world: his father.

What was the inspiration for the book?

The setting came first. My mother Elizabeth (to whom I have dedicated the book) spent some time in Matala in her early twenties. I was always intrigued by the stories she told me and the photographs I looked at of these young people standing outside the Neolithic caves, almost looking like cavemen and women! My own travels at around the same age as my mother and Jim had a huge impact on me and I wanted to explore that period we all go through, when we are trying to assert our independence in the world and carve our unique paths, but are often painfully self-conscious and unsure of ourselves. At the same time, I did not want my book to simply be a coming of age story, hence the second half that is set in Crete during the Second World War.

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is set partly in the 1960s. How did you go about creating an authentic picture of life in that period?

I read a number of novels set in the 1960s, trawled the internet for information and mined the memories of a large number of people from my parents’ generation who were young people during that time. A couple of people shared their diary entries with me; this was fascinating and helped to bring certain details to life, such as expressions of the time in common usage. I also love music and the novel is peppered with references to songs and musicians. I had a lot of fun reaching out to members of a book group on Facebook I am a member of and asking them to share with me (if they were around then!) their favourite songs of 1967. Music is so evocative and although I was born a decade later, simply by listening to music of this period, I was able to wind back the clock.

In the book, secrets from the past are uncovered. Why do you think secrets are so enticing to us as readers?

I think it’s so interesting what we share with one another and what we decide to keep to ourselves. I am fascinated by words left unspoken and this, essentially, is what secrets are. As readers, we need a force of some kind to propel us through a story: something to find out and mysteries to be revealed. In Jim’s case, he is not even aware that secrets exist. All he is able to sense is that something is wrong, but it is not until he travels to Crete and back again to England to the fate that awaits him that he can start to understand where his discomfort stems from.

One of the settings for the book is Eel Pie Island on the River Thames near London, famous as a location for live music in the 1960s. If you’d been around then, which group or solo artist would you have loved to see perform live?

Funnily enough, I have a playlist on Spotify that kept me company during the writing of the early Eel Pie Island scenes in the book. They are all artists who performed back then on the island, crowds of young people going wild over them. Eel Pie Island is famous for playing host to bands such as The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd (before they were huge names) but if I’d had the opportunity to go to a live concert on the island in the sixties, I would love to have heard some of those less well known bands.  Jim and his friends dance to The Yardbirds in my book – I’d love to have joined them. They have such a distinctively Sixties sound and look and their music is very danceable!

Your previous books, The Poet’s Wife and The Girl and the Sunbird, were set in 1920s Spain and turn of the century East Africa. What is it you enjoy about writing historical fiction?

When I write (though not necessarily when I read), I like to inhabit a world that is completely different from the one I live in. Of course, this doesn’t limit me to writing historical fiction, but I am drawn to the questions that historical settings offer: How did people live in this era? What did they wear and what did they eat? How did social norms differ, particularly for women?

As a child, I loved visiting old, historical houses and gardens. I felt as though I had jumped into the pages of The Secret Garden or Miss Havisham’s crumbling mansion. Strangely, I didn’t enjoy history much at school, as it was all about reading text-books and felt rather wooden and dry. For me, history means visiting those places, delving into museums and archives, asking questions and watching films and reading books set in the period. It’s like solving a huge mystery. Even when I went to University, I chose Durham for the (rather shallow!) reason that I would be surrounded by beautiful old buildings. I’ve never grown out of that sense of wonder at the past, one reason why it is such a treat to live in a historical old house in Nairobi.

And what attracts you to a particular historical period?

It helps if I have lived somewhere to pique my interest in its past (i.e. Granada, Nairobi & Twickenham) but it doesn’t just have to be this. A few years ago, I walked past an old meat market building in East London and read a small plaque. It said that in the 18th Century, women were sold on this site by their husbands. This is horrifying! But also fascinating, and I have stored this away for use as a possible future book.

[We’ll watch out to see if that turns up in one of your books!]

Do you have a special place to write or any writing rituals?

I live in an old timber cottage in a suburb of Nairobi and I sit every morning on the wooden verandah to write. People are often surprised to hear that Nairobi can get quite chilly, as the city sits at an altitude of 2000 metres above sea level. Because of this, I normally start the day wrapped in blankets and even a hat and as the day warms up, the layers are removed! I am surrounded by tropical birds and old trees and also, a sense of history as this cottage is one of the oldest houses in the area. I find that mornings are my best time to write. In many ways, this is strange as I am not a morning person at all and find I am far more awake in the evenings. But this dreamy morning state I find myself in must be conducive to writing!

Which other writers do you admire?

There are so many I could mention here! But to name a few: Susan Fletcher, Maya Angelou, Niall Williams, Jo Baker, Jill Dawson, Kazuo Ishiguro and Maggie O’Farrell. I love a combination of beautifully crafted prose and a cracking good story.

What are you working on next?

We have seen so much on the news over the past years of the refugee crisis. These people become facts and figures and we become desensitized to the plight of refugees seeking better lives. I hope to be able to humanize and personalize a story of one family of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, including a historical element that rewinds the clock to the days when this country was considered the jewel of the Middle East. Watch this space!

Can’t wait, Rebecca. Thank you for those absolutely fascinating answers. It’s certainly made me eager for The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale to reach the top of my review pile.

Rebecca StonehillAbout the Author

Rebecca Stonehill is from London but currently lives in Nairobi with her husband and three young children where she set up Magic Pencil, an initiative to give children greater access to creative writing and poetry. She has had numerous short stories published over the years, for example in Vintage Script, What the Dickens magazine, Ariadne’s Thread and Prole Books but The Poet’s Wife (Bookouture) was her first full-length novel, set in Granada during the Spanish Civil war and Franco’s dictatorship. Her second novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, was published by Bookouture in June 2016. Her third novel, set in Crete in WW2 and the 1960’s will be published on 11th November 2017.

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Blog Tour/Q&A: The Note by Zoë Folbigg

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Note by Zoë Folbigg, a delightful story about how a little note can change your life forever. I’m thrilled to bring you an interview with Zoë in which she talks about her book, love at first sight and juggling writing and family life.

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The NoteAbout the Book

One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a new commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn’t ordinary at all. Maya knows immediately and irrevocably, that he is The One. But the beautiful man on the train always has his head in a book and never seems to notice Maya sitting just down the carriage from him every day. Eventually, though, inspired by a very wise friend, Maya plucks up the courage to give the stranger a note asking him out for a drink. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it. The Note is an uplifting, life-affirming reminder that taking a chance can change everything…

Format: eBook (293 pp.), paperback (304 pp.)                             Publisher: Aria Fiction
Published: 21st Sep 2017 (eBook), 2nd Nov 2017 (paperback)   Genre: Romance

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Interview: Zoë Folbigg, author of The Note

Without giving too much away, can you tell us a bit about The Note?

The Note is a story about following your heart, taking a chance to make something happen. It’s about a woman called Maya, who’s 28 and works for a fashion retailer, who falls in love with a stranger from afar on her daily commute into London. The novel follows how she manages to pluck up the courage to give the handsome stranger a note – and the consequences when she finally does. It also follows her on the rollercoaster at work with crazy colleagues and the ups and downs of her friend’s relationships as a parallel to hers. It’s about being brave, it’s about love, and it’s about friendship.

So you obviously believe in love at first sight?

Yes I do! I was once a bystander in a crowded bar in a Mexican backwater with my English friend by my side when she locked eyes with a handsome Mexican across the room; he couldn’t take his eyes off her. They’ve been married almost twenty years. Then it happened to me with Train Man, although it took him a little longer to fall for me…

James, Maya’s ‘beautiful man on the train’, always has his head in a book. Why does being a keen reader add to a person’s attractiveness, do you think?

Well if you’re a book lover you’re more likely to find a book lover attractive. And I wanted to give the sense of what a quiet romantic James was, so it was helpful to do this through the books he reads on the train.

Who would be top of your wish list to play James and Maya in a film of The Note?

Ooh that’s a tricky question! Well if they were British it would have to be Tom Hughes for James – tall, dark, quiet and broodingly handsome. And I guess Jenna Coleman for Maya as their chemistry in Victoria is so charming. My dream Hollywood stars would have to be Ryan Gosling and… I think still Jenna Coleman. She has the spark that I intended for Maya.

You’ve had a very successful career in journalism but did you always want to write a novel?

Yes I did. I used to get home from school and write short stories for my best friends – usually involving them getting together with whichever pop star they most fancied at the time. Then when I was working on women’s magazines I saw many of my contemporaries (Katy Regan, Ali Harris, Erin Kelly, Dorothy Koomson…) release brilliant novels and I thought ‘Maybe I can do that!’

What was the biggest challenge you encountered when writing The Note?

Only having short windows in which to write because I have two young boys. So I had to fit writing into naptimes at first or three-hour windows when they were at nursery. It’s got a bit easier now I have a school day to write in, but still, it’s hard to turn on the creativity and write on demand because I know I won’t be able to write after 3pm.

Do you have a special place to write or any writing rituals?

Well, now both my boys are at school I have a ritual of dropping them off, going for a run or doing a workout, then using that exercise time to think through my structure/plot/whatever stumbling block I might be facing. Then I go home, shower and write, write, write until school pickup, refuelling with Green & Black’s throughout the day!

Which other writers do you admire?

I love Isabel Allende for her epic stories, romantic heroes, strong women and magical realism. And Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Esquivel, Octavio Paz. Of my peers I love Katy Regan and Ali Harris, whose books are warm and witty and charming and uplifting. At the moment I mostly read children’s books – Andy Stanton is a current favourite. He has me and my sons in fits of giggles every evening with his Mr Gum books.

What’s your favourite type of book for a long train journey?

Well, I haven’t had a long train journey alone in almost eight years, as I’m always entertaining my children, so I have lots to catch up on: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy, and of course Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, which I still haven’t read.

What are you working on next?

I’m writing my second novel, which is also about star-crossed lovers, falling in love in peculiar circumstances – although my second book doesn’t feature railways at all!

Thank you, Zoë, for those fascinating insights into the life of a writer. I’m sure the many fans of The Note are eagerly awaiting your next book.

Zoe FolbiggAbout the Author

Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She has since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. This is her debut novel.

Connect with Zoë

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THE NOTE blog tour

Interview: Gary Corbin, author of Lying in Vengeance

Today’s guest on what Cathy Read Next is Gary Corbin, author of Lying in Vengeance, the follow-up to the award-winning courtroom thriller, Lying in Judgment.   I’m delighted that Gary has agreed to talk about Lying in Vengeance, how the idea for a sequel to Lying in Judgment came about and his approach to writing in general.

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LyinginVengeanceAbout the Book

Peter Robertson, 33, once fought a man on a remote forested road and left him to die. Six months later, he served on the jury that freed a wrongfully accused man – and let his own secret slip to a beautiful but manipulative fellow juror, Christine Nielsen. Two months later, Christine wakes him in the middle of the night with a threat: kill Kyle, the man who stalks and abuses her, or have his own murderous past exposed. Peter pretends to go along as he seeks another, less violent solution, and his best friend Frankie threatens to expose the conspiracy to the police. But Kyle makes his move, breaking into her house in the middle of the night and then later kidnapping her at gunpoint. Peter’s daring rescue gives him the opportunity to fulfil her request—and he walks away, consequences be damned. The next morning, Kyle turns up dead, and the police arrest Frankie, of all people. Peter knows he’s innocent, but can he prove it without directing the finger of blame at himself—for both murders?

Format: eBook (281 pp.), paperback (306 pp.) Publisher: Double Diamond Publishing Published: 13th September 2017                         Genre: Thriller

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Find Lying in Judgment and Lying in Vengeance on Goodreads

Interview: Gary Corbin, author of Lying in Vengeance

Gary, without giving too much away, can you tell us a bit about Lying in Vengeance?

It tells the story of Peter Robertson, a good man with a dark secret: he once killed a man in a fight on a remote forested road. The beautiful and charming Christine Nielsen discovers his secret and wakes him in the middle of the night with a threat: kill Kyle, the man who stalks and abuses her, or have his own murderous past exposed. Peter must choose between two horrible options. Both involve death and revenge.

Lying in Vengeance picks up the story from Lying in Judgment. Was it always your intention to write a series and, if so, what considerations did you have to bear in mind?

I did not have a sequel in mind when I published Lying in Judgment. The sequel came about in response to my readers’ requests and in response to their questions about “What happens NOW?” At first I didn’t even see how a sequel could happen, but as I thought about the questions readers asked me, it became clear that the characters’ next adventures would be sequel-worthy.

Both Lying in Judgment and Lying in Vengeance explore the notion that a single action can have long-term consequences. What is it about that idea that interests you?

Everything! We all live so close to the edge of catastrophe, really. When I see random tragic occurrences – say, a crashed car on the side of a highway – I often think about how life-changing, yet unexpected, such events can be. How would it change my life, and the lives of random strangers who just happened to be there at the time? Life seldom goes as planned, and the different ways that people respond to the unexpected is what makes for great storytelling.

How did you go about making Peter Robertson a sympathetic character despite his obvious flaws?

Everyone has flaws — and even the villain in a story has virtues. Peter, like everyone else, has both. He loves his wife and is very faithful to her, even as he knows she is cheating on him. He is devoted to his sick mother and sacrifices quite a bit for her. He’s honest, thus torn about his situation, and works toward the goal of a not guilty verdict for the innocent man accused of the crime. Other people like him because of his loyalty to his friends and family, his steadfastness, and his responsible character, and readers tend to like characters that other sympathetic characters like. He’s also the point of view character, which naturally tends to lead the reader to root for him.

You’re an actor as well as a writer so to what extent are you writing yourself a great part when working on your books?

Ha! If only I were a good enough actor (or screenwriter). Maybe if I had a little more hair and a body 25 years younger…Levity aside, being an actor helps when creating characters, because I can put myself in their skin in a scene and take action from their perspective. It also helps with creating sharp, concise dialog – long soliloquies are tough on actors.

You’re a man of many talents because you’re also a published playwright. How do you think the demands of the stage have influenced the writing in your novels?

There’s quite a bit of overlap between the two forms, but also some key differences. Story structure is essentially the same, although the length and the level of detail are much different. Stage plays focus on dialog and action, and those are important to novels as well, but mystery/thriller novels also tend to emphasize the psychological side quite a bit – a character’s “inner thoughts” — which doesn’t work as well in plays. Playwriting also helps keep me focused on the “stage picture” – what the reader “sees” in a scene — and with keeping scenes short and focused. But novels give me a lot more freedom to play with location and motivation, and I try to take advantage of that in my mystery writing.

Is there a scene in the book you found particularly challenging or rewarding to write? If so, why?

The opening scene probably took me the most rewrites, so I’d probably say that one. While the imagery and the basic events were clear in my head before writing it, I found it challenging to balance the need to set up the story and get right into the action against the need to hold back and not reveal too much too soon. I wanted the reader hooked, but didn’t want to spill too much of the story too fast.

You’ve also worked as an editor – see, I said you were a man of many talents! What’s your top piece of advice to budding authors?

Don’t edit your own work! While I do editing for others, I can’t do my own, and I don’t think anyone can. There’s nothing quite as valuable an objective second or third opinion on your work before it gets published. A good editor will help spot the weaknesses not only in your prose but also in your story – things we’re blind to in our own work.

Which other writers do you admire?

I love the work of Phillip Margolin, John Irving, Scott Turow, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, Bob Dugoni, Elmore Leonard, and Stephen King (though I’m not much of a horror fan). Poe was an early inspiration, along with Chandler and Doyle. Among playwrights I’m most influenced by Neil Simon and Sam Shepard. I also love the early 19th century romantic writers – Coleridge, Blake, Wordsworth, and Byron.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on the third book in The Mountain Man Mysteries, entitled The Mountain Man’s Badge, which I expect to publish in 2018. I’m also working feverishly on finishing a full-length stage play called “Voodoo Snowball,” a full-length comedy about cancer, family, and healing through (or in spite of) voodoo.

Thank you, Gary, for those fascinating answers.  I’m really looking forward to reading Lying in Vengeance just as soon as it reaches the top of my review pile.

GaryCorbinAbout the Author

Gary Corbin is a writer, actor, and playwright in Camas, WA, a suburb of Portland, OR.

His debut novel, Lying in Judgment, released in March 2016,  is a courtroom thriller about a man who serves on the jury of a murder trial for the crime he committed. It was selected as “Book of the Week” for July 11-18, 2016, and was the feature novel on Literary Lightbox’s “Indie Spotlight” in February 2017.  Gary’s second novel, The Mountain Man’s Dog, came out in June 2016. The sequel, The Mountain Man’s Bride, was released in February 2017.

An award-winning playwright, several of his plays have been produced in the Portland, OR area, some of them multiple times. In addition to his own scripts, Gary writes, ghost-writes, and edits scripts. He specializes in tight, realistic dialogue involving sharply drawn, interesting characters in complex relationships. As well as writing and editing for private sector, government, individuals, and not-for-profit clients, his creative and journalistic work has been published in BrainstormNW, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, and Global Envision, among others.

A home brewer as well as a maker of wine, mead, cider, and soft drinks, Gary is a member of the Oregon Brew Crew and a BJCP National Beer Judge. He loves to ski, cook, and garden, and hopes someday to train his dogs to obey.

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