Thursday, 23 March 2017

Deadly Game by Matt Johnson @Matt_Johnson_UK @OrendaBooks #BlogTour #MyLifeInBooks

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. 
Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered. Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… 
Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.

Deadly Game by Matt Johnson was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 15 March 2017 and is the second in the Robert Finlay series.  I read and reviewed the first, Wicked Game here on Random Things in March last year.

I'm delighted to welcome the author, Matt Johnson, here to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour for Deadly Game.  Matt is sharing with us the books that have inspired him and left a lasting impression on his life, This is his My Life In Books.

My Life In Books ~ Matt Johnson

When asked to look back at a life reading, it’s surprisingly hard to remember the names of authors and the titles of work that you’ve enjoyed. I read, not simply for pleasure, but to learn, and as I’m now approaching my sixth decade on this earth, I’ve worked my way through quite a few books.

So, I’ve decided to concentrate on those that I really remember, as this must be because they had a sufficiently marked effect to have burned their content into my conscious memory. I have quite eclectic taste, as you will see.

I start with a book I read during my early teens. It’s Mike at Wrykin by the well-known author P.G.Wodehouse.
As a lad, I was very keen at sport and was house-captain for both rugby and cricket. So, a tale set in a school about a boy of my age excelling at sport – and all told with the author’s brilliant wit – was bound to appeal.
It did. And it’s a story I remember with fondness.

As a teenager, I was fascinated by science. Man had just landed on the moon – no, I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theories – and the idea of space travel and life on other worlds sparked the imagination of many a writer.
One of the very best exponents of this genre was Frank Herbert.
Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels ever written and needs little by way of introduction. It was described as one of the landmarks of modern science fiction.
Fans of ‘Game of Thrones’ and similar incredible worlds could do well to read this and learn where these ideas first started.

Although not a fan of graphic horror films, I do admit a weakness for an imaginative book that can leave the gore to your imagination.
Chiller-fiction, I believe it is called, and James Herbert was the UK’s best exponent, to my view. The Fog was the first of his books to grab my attention but I soon went on the read others such as The Rats and Survivor.
Herbert’s writing has been a huge influence on my own. His twenty-three novels sold more than 54 millions copies worldwide and in many translations. I’m sad that, as he died in 2013, I will never get to meet him to thank him.

One of the masters of the genre I have entered with Wicked Game and Deadly Game has to be Lee Child.
Killing Floor introduced the world to Jack Reacher, a character who has become even better known than his creator.
Reacher has such universal appeal, to readers of all ages, male and female, that he has set the bar, the target to which all other authors in this genre must aspire.
I haven’t read the most recent Reacher books, but the early ones never failed to grip me. Killing Floor, given that was the first time I met the 6’7” military cop, is to my mind the best.

In more recent years, I have tried to broaden my horizons, to read outside my favoured genres and look at the work of fine authors. It was with this in mind that I started Birdsong.
This is one of the very first books that, when I finished the final page I put it to one side and just sat there, stunned. I really enjoyed Birdsong that much.
 Last year, I had the opportunity to meet Sebastian Faulks at an event and we enjoyed a good chat about football – a shared passion – about writing and about my first literary events, which were on the horizon. Sebastian was kind enough to share a tip with me, and then to demonstrate it to the audience. He advised me to be careful, and not to spill my wine all over my notes as I started to talk!

When my partner first handed me a copy of Pillars of the Earth, I felt quite daunted by its length. I’m glad I persisted.
This incredible novel kept me occupied for weeks. I found the story drew me in and I really needed to follow as the stories of the characters unfolded.
If you haven’t read it, try it. After all, Ken comes from Wales, which speaks volumes in itself!

Matt Johnson ~ March 2017

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent's Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People's Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital.
Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition.
His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result. Deadly Game once again draws on Matt's experiences and drips with the same raw authenticity of its predecessor.

Find out more about Matt Johnson at
Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Johnson_UK


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Ali Land @byAliLand #MyLifeInBooks

My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox
I've asked authors and people in publishing to share with us a list of the books that are important to them and have made a lasting impression on their life

I'm really thrilled to welcome author Ali Land to Random Things today. Ali's debut novel, Good Me, Bad Me was published by Penguin on 12 January 2017. I read and reviewed it here on Random Things back in December last year. It's an amazing read, here's a snippet from my review:

"Original, intelligent and so very tense. Good Me, Bad Me is a psychological thriller that will leave the reader wondering, and questioning every character. 
Ali Land is a talented, imaginative author, this is certainly going to be one of THE books of 2017."

After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a
decade working as a Child and Adolescent 
Mental Health Nurse in both hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia.

Ali is now a full-time writer and lives in West London

Follow her on Twitter @byAliLand

My Life In Books ~ Ali Land

I longed to be in Jo, Bessie and Fanny’s gang. They had an enchanted forest, a gigantic magical tree and a colourful group of extraordinary friends with names like Moonface and Dame Washalot. Blyton’s writing lit so much magic in me as a child and even now as an adult, I love reading her books and when I share them with little people I know, I can see her stories working their magic all over again.  

It wasn’t just the horror of this story – the abuse, the betrayal, the violence – that kept me turning the pages, it was the intensity of the sibling relationships that resonated with me. I was twelve when I read this and I’d been at boarding school since I was nine. As one of the youngest at my school I’d experienced being ‘parented’ by other children, and as I got older, I too became a ‘parent’ to the younger ones. Cathy and Chris turning the attic into an imaginary garden for their siblings made so much sense to me, and the strength of the bonds they formed, their bravery, their sadness and the love they felt for each other was comforting and familiar.

My English teacher gave this to me to ‘stretch my curious mind,’ and boy did it ever. Philosophical in nature, and set in medieval times on a Mediterranean island, Walsh tackles the notion of whether the knowledge of god is innate. Reading it made me question why we believe the things we do, and highlighted the cruelties that happen in the name of religion. I felt outrage and sadness and love, especially for Amara, a feral child raised by wolves that the church use in an experiment. It was this book that piqued my interest in how children survive extraordinary circumstances.

One of my favourite books of all time. I remember reading it and looking at my classmates and wondering what would happen if it was us that were stranded on an island. What would I be capable of? What would they? It led me to think about forgiveness. Could a child be forgiven for doing something dreadful if it was in an attempt to survive their circumstances? This notion went on to become one of the central themes in my debut novel, and Golding inspires me to be provocative and bold in what I explore in my writing.

The first book to truly terrify yet absolutely thrill me. I used to read passages out to my dorm mates, cue faux-hysteria and screaming! FBI agent Clarice Starling fast became one of my heroes. The relationship between her and serial killer Lecter, and the conversations they have is pure genius. In Lecter, Harris constructs a character hair-raisingly dangerous, yet one that’s almost impossible not to admire for his twisted intellectual finesse. The tension never lets up, and clearly my predilection for the darker read began at a very young age, because even though I feared for Clarice’s safety and sanity, and perhaps even my own while reading it, I couldn’t help but read on.

The opening line to Lolita, that’s all it took for me to fall madly, deeply in love with this book. Granted, it took me years after university to unpick the genius in it, the wordplay, the literary allusions, the phonetics, the double consonants, the references to Edgar Alan Poe and so on. Nabokov’s glee at alchemising language shines throughout and I suppose, part of the appeal also, was that the subject matter was so taboo and shocking. I felt almost criminal reading it, and it wasn’t until I reached my early twenties that I met other people who had not only read it but loved it like I did.

I was twenty-six and had just bought a one way ticket to Australia and this was the book I took in my hand luggage. Cassandra was the most welcome and magical travelling companion. Her sweet and astute commentary on her chaotic, bohemian family nudged its way into my heart. There are so many layers of love and hope in this story, and it left me feeling brave and excited for the new life I was embarking on.

At Sydney Children’s Hospital, where I worked as a nurse, there is a group of very special ladies who volunteer as Ward Grannies. They spend hours cuddling and reading to the children whose families can’t always be there, and it was through them that I discovered The Velveteen Rabbit. It tells the story of a toy rabbit who wishes he could become real. He has a wise and kind mentor called Skin Horse and a magical fairy who kisses him and grants his wish. It’s such a beautiful love story that every time I read it, it reminds me that books can often be the best medicine.

When I signed with my agent, Juliet Mushens, she said, ‘I think I know a book you’d really like.’ Well, she was right. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is now, and always will be, in my top five books. I have such admiration for Jackson’s writing, the perfect restraint she executes, slowly lifting the curtain on the bizarre daily routine Merricat, her sister Constance and their uncle share. The narrative is peppered with magical thinking and superstitions which gives the overriding sense they’re content in this strange existence and because of this, the insanity drips off the pages. Jackson is one of the best examples of an author who leaves as much ‘unsaid’ as possible and I aspire to do the same in my writing.

Poetry and me have only recently become friends, but what an intense friendship it has been over the past year, so much so that I would choose this collection of poems as my Desert Island book. There’s a beautiful devastation in the way Sexton writes, the language, whilst often simple is arranged in such a way it feels like an arrow to the heart. I feel changed when I read her work, as if I understand things better, like my insides have somehow shifted. Opened. I feel myself drift when I read poetry and I love being able to dip in and out, it’s like a shot of tequila for me, I don’t want it all the time but when I have it, I’m like ‘oh yeh, that’s the one.’ 

Ali Land ~ March 2017 


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

#Giveaway Three Signed Books ~ The Real Press @TheRealPressPub #MadToBeNormal

I'm delighted to be working with The Real Press today on Random Things, and am offering a set of three signed non-fiction books. 
The books are biographies and all link in with the promotion of the new book from The Real Press; Ronald Laing: The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Revolutionary Psychiatrist.

The publication of this book coincides with the release of a film of a snapshot of Laing's life at the height of his fame and controversy, Mad to be Normal, which is released in the UK on 6th April and stars David Tennant. The book covers Laing's life and brings to life the 1960s and 70s when he had reached a level of notoriety.

Entry is simple. Just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post to be in with a chance to win SIGNED copies of the following books.  UK ENTRIES ONLY PLEASE
Good Luck!

Ronald Laing: The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Radical Psychiatrist The radical psychiatrist R. D. Laing took the world by storm in the 1960s and 1970s with his ideas about madness, families and people’s need for authenticity. At the height of his fame this fascinating man could fill stadiums like Bob Dylan, and often did so. Then he fell from grace, flung out of the medical profession. Yet, despite this, his influence is still everywhere - but largely unnoticed and unremarked.  This book tells the remarkable human story of his life and his struggles, first with the authorities as a psychiatrist in the army and then a series of mental hospitals, and sets it in the vivid context of the psychedelic 1960s and 70s.  It looks at what we can still learn from Laing today - he still has an unexpectedly potent message. 

The Secret History of the Jungle Book The Jungle Book has captured the imaginations of successive generations by bringing the Indian jungles alive.  But there is a mystery at the heart of the book. There is a tale hidden in the very conception of the book and its characters, for Kipling was intricately enriching his Mowgli stories with the symbolism of Indian mythology.  How did an Englishman, dismissed as an imperialist, who wrote the books in Vermont, and is credited with believing that “East is East and West is West/And never the twain shall meet”, manage to conjure such authenticity from a mixture of Indian folk tales and dialect words, and weave them into such a magical and compelling mixture? It isn’t just that Kipling spent so long in India or that he felt so at home there. This book tells the real story behind Mowgli, Shere Khan and Baloo and the Jungle itself. Anyone who loved the characters and adored the Jungle Books as children needs to read Swati Singh’s journey into the soul of Kipling, and his own journey into the soul of India. Do that, and you will open up the real meaning of the Jungle Book. 

Scandal: How Homosexuality Became a Crime The strange story of how homosexuality came to be criminalised in 1885, a story that takes us from the notorious Dublin Scandal to the unique moment of fear - now largely forgotten - after Oscar Wilde's arrest. The events involved the author's ancestor, who he traces from prominence in Dublin to an escape in disguise to a secret life in Camberwell in London in the 1890s.  But even in London, he wasn’t safe, escaping a second time ten years later in a moment of fear that was unprecedented in modern British history that swept through the gay community.  This book explains how the events of those years led to the persecution of tens of thousands over the next eight decades. It looks at the strange story behind that decision, and the furore that tore apart Irish society in 1884, and how the roots of the whole business lie in the furious world of Irish politics after the Phoenix Park murders. This is a ground-breaking book, part history part detective story, that looks back at the moment society turned on homosexuality with such venom, and why it happened.

Three Signed Books from The Real Press

The Real Press  We publish short books, ebooks and print on demand books that fit with our values and philosophy, and which seem likely to encourage debate about what really matters. These are available on Amazon and elsewhere, but also here in the shop.

We are not numbers. We are not cogs. We are not pixels.
The Real Press is dedicated to publishing books, in all genres, that point beyond the present technocracy that reduces human beings to one-dimensional machines.
We aim, in a small way, to publish books which we really believe in – whether they are works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry or anything else. It is dedicated to human beings, as they really are, uncategorisable, imaginative, spiritual . . .

Facebook: The Real Press


Monday, 20 March 2017

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Catherine Ryan Howard @cathryanhoward #MyLifeInBooks

My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox
I've asked authors and people in publishing to share with us a list of the books that are important to them and have made a lasting impression on their life

I'm delighted to welcome author Catherine Ryan Howard to Random Things today. Catherine is the author of Distress Signals, I read and and reviewed here on Random Things back in May last year.

I was thrilled to see a quote from my review in the paperback edition, it takes pride of place on my bookshelf!

Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher.
She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College, Dublin

Find out more about the author and her writing at
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @catherineryanhoward

My Life In Books ~ Catherine Ryan Howard

It was so hard to whittle these down, but these are the books that I think had the biggest impact on my life, for various reasons. We’re going to do this chronologically, so let’s start with…

I first read Jurassic Park in the summer of 1993, when the movie hit cinemas. I still have my ragged movie tie-in paperback, held together now with only strips of Sellotape and hope. I was only 11 at the time, so I did have to skip the genetic engineering and chaos theory bits the first few times through. I often say this is my favourite novel, and that’s partly because I think it is all the things a popular novel should be: incredibly imaginative, utterly riveting and an entertaining adventure from beginning to end. I remember thinking, ‘Someone made this all up! I can’t believe it.’ It was the first proper adult novel I read and it made me think, ‘I want to make stuff like this up too.’ I re-read it every year and recommend it to everybody. It’s a fantastic tech-thriller – and it’s not just about dinosaurs. (Although I admit it is mainly about them…)

Growing up I was obsessed with the Point Horror series and the novels of Christopher Pike, but it was only when I discovered Patricia Cornwell that I graduated to actual crime fiction. It was the Christmas holidays from school when I was 12, and I somehow got a hold of three Cornwell paperbacks from my classmate’s older brother: Postmortem, Cornwell’s debut, and the two that followed, Body of Evidence and All ThatRemains, featuring Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta. I was hooked by the mystery element and terrified as I watched it unfold. I really think this is what started me on the path to writing crime fiction myself. (Fun fact: when I went out with writing friends to celebrate getting my book deal a couple of years back, we let the waiter choose the wine and he randomly – I swear – brought us a bottle of Scarpetta wine!)

But originally I was going to become a virologist, thanks to The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, which I read when I was 13. I bought it (or asked my parents to buy it for me) because there was a blurb on the cover by Stephen King that said something like, ‘The most terrifying true story I’ve ever read.’ It was about an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Virginia back in 1989, but it was the insight into the lives of BSL4 virologists – the guys in the space suits; think the movies Outbreak or Contagion – that really struck me. My dream became to end up working at USAMRIID (the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infection Diseases, don’t ya know) – even though I was Irish, squeamish and didn’t fancy becoming an actual medical doctor. Obviously I didn’t end up doing that, but I think spending all of my teenage years telling people I had this ridiculous dream made it easier for me to dream as an adult, and be quietly confident that no matter the odds, I was going to get published.

Things are very different now, thankfully, but growing up in Ireland in the 1990s it felt like it could be slim pickings when it came to authentic, contemporary crime fiction set in Ireland. I think that’s one of the reasons that Gemma O’Connor’s Sins of Omission stands out so clearly in my mind. This was a very unsettling tale set in present day Dublin with flashbacks to a rural Irish town, and it had an absolutely devastating, shocking, incredible twist that I won’t forget for as long as I live. Honestly, I can still remember the sick feeling in my stomach, the utter shock, as realisation dawned. It made me think, okay, amazing crime fiction can just easily be set here in Ireland, and it also made me want to shock readers in the same way O’Connor did me. This book is out of print now, but I managed to track down a second-hand copy not too long ago and it was every bit as good as I remembered.

I met my true (literary) love when I was 16, purely by chance. I was browsing the book selection in a newsagents’ in Cork, the kind of newsagents that does remaindered books like hardbacks at knock-down prices, when I spotted Void Moon by Michael Connelly. I even remember the price: £5. I bought it because it looked new and I happened to have £5 – and thus discovered my favourite crime writer of all time. I went back and read everything else he’d written up until that point, and every year since – almost twenty years and counting – I buy his new novel on the day of release and go home and read it all in one go. I’ve even done this when I’ve been abroad and had to pay through the nose for an English import. What’s funny is Void Moon is a standalone, it doesn’t even feature his detective, Harry Bosch – who feels like an old friend to me now!

Catherine Ryan Howard ~ March 2017


Sunday, 19 March 2017

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys @MsTamarCohen @DoubledayUK @alisonbarrow

Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets ...

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own. 

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys is published in hardback by Doubleday on 23 March 2017.

To travel across the world, as a single woman, back in 1939 was an extraordinary adventure for those who took the opportunity given through the Assisted Passage scheme offered by the British Government. For Lily Shepherd, this voyage is her one chance to leave behind a life of hardship and sorrow, to wipe the slate clean and to discover a new and exciting land. Lily intends to stay away for only two years, but the talk of impending war overwhelms the passengers on the ship and it may be a very long time before Lily sees English soil again.

Life on board the Orontes is almost dream-like as Lily mixes with the rich and the glamorous; wearing fur and silk, sipping cocktails and forming friendships with the sort of people who, back onshore, wouldn't look twice at her. When she is taken under the wings of Max and Eliza Campbell, Lily risks her reputation, and there are some passengers who don't hesitate to let her know that she really shouldn't be associating with such people. Regardless, Lily is swept along by the glamour and the thrill, flattered by the attention, willing to risk the wrath of her dour cabin mate, and determined to make the most of these weeks at sea before settling down to more hard work in Australia.

A Dangerous Crossing is an absolute joy to read. The ship itself, the intricately drawn and developed characters, the snapshot of 1930s glamour and riches combined with an intriguing plot that deals with much more than cocktails and dinner dances is irresistible. The author's ability to weave multiple issue into one magnificent story is wondrous, this is a captivating read.

The sense of danger that hangs over the characters is finely and powerfully done, and as the reader learns just a little more about each character, that dangerous feeling increases. It is clear that most of these passengers are fleeing something, but that for some of them, there is no escape. The author deals with the saddest and most tragic cases of social injustice, that will shock and sadden the modern reader, and whilst we still live in a world that is unsteady and unfair, this is a lesson in how far thinking has travelled in less than one hundred years.

A Dangerous Crossing is tender, heartfelt and glamorous. An engaging multi-layered story that seizes the imagination from the intriguing prologue, right through to the satisfying ending.  I loved it and can't recommend it highly enough.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

RACHEL RHYS is the pen-name of a successful psychological suspense author. A Dangerous Crossing is her debut under this name and is inspired by a real life account of a 1930s ocean voyage.

A Dangerous Crossing is due to be published around the world. 

Rachel Rhys lives in North London with her family.


Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski #BlogTour @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks #MyLifeInBooks

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 
2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

Welcome to my spot on the Blog Tour for Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski, published by Orenda Books in paperback on 15 March 2017.
I read and reviewed Six Stories here on Random Things back in January this year, and loved every page of it.  Here's a snippet from my review:

"Six Stories is genre busting, it's a crime story, a psychological thriller, a coming-of-age story. I will appeal to readers of all ages and genders. Gripping, fascinating and wholly entertaining, Matt Wesolowski is a very welcome new voice in fiction. An absolute triumph and highly recommended from me."

I'm delighted to welcome the author to Random Things today, he's talking about My Life In Books.

My Life In Books ~ Matt Wesolowski

Back in primary school I hated maths as much as I hate it now. Maybe not such vehement hate now but numbers still hold little interest and make little sense to me, I have no time for them, numbers can get lost. Back then I felt the same way about other kids.

Carpet time in year 6, my teacher played a game that drew forth a terrible dread and sent me scurrying to the far corner of said carpet, hunkering down and pretending to be invisible, lest she direct a question from the pile of laminated maths cards on her lap toward me.

My hiding place from the maths bombardment in primary school was the vast book shelf. Whilst multiplication and fractions rained around me, I read Stig of the Dump.  
That's kind of an apt metaphor for my entire life.

My dad read me The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and my mum read me Michael Rosen poems when I was a kid. For Christmas presents my parents used to pirate copy me audio books on cassette from the library as well as record themselves reading stories and poems. I treasured those cassettes and listened to them long into my teens.

Nothing to Be Afraid Of by Jan Mark, a collection of wonderfully idiosyncratic short stories was my favourite audio book as a child. I was quite an insular boy and spent countless hours in my bedroom listening to it. To this day, I know most of the stories by heart.

Going Home by K.M Peyton - a story of two children from a problem family trying to make their way home from a holiday in France was another one that I eventually wore out in my personal stereo.
My parents, eh? 1980s OGs on the pirate audio scene.
The book that cemented my desire to be a writer, I read, ironically, on a holiday in France when I was 12. Del-Del byVictor Kelleher is a young adult novel about a girl whose younger brother becomes possessed. Reading this was the first moment where a book scared and enthralled me so much, I wanted to be able to do that to people with my own words.
It also sparked my lifelong love of horror.

I read all the Point Horror books that were somewhat of a craze in the early 90s before progressing onto The Rats trilogy by James Herbert. Then came Stephen King and It, the reading of which I can only compare to religious people having some sort of epiphany. Then came Niall Griffiths, Kevin Sampson and John King, Grits, Awaydays and The Football Factory meant a great deal to me as a teenager. I loved the visceral, stream-of-thought style and the fact that these writers did not pull punches.

Then my English teacher recommended I read The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe on the day I left school (with more anger and bad memories than GCSEs I may add!). This was another book that felt like a milestone in my life. Like King (Jon) in its directness with the subtle poetry of Roddy Doyle or Cormack McCarthy, McCabe's novel about a boy's descent into madness in small town Ireland wielded a power over me that only piqued my voracious book appetite and my desire to write.

My adult life has been spent at all times with a book by my side. I am now much more open minded to different genres that I was when I was younger. I like books to move me, to leave a scar or else fill me with inspiration, two recent ones that have done so are:

Stoner by JohnWilliams - a deeply mesmerising and powerful slow-burner about the sad and quiet life of a man. The craftsmanship of this novel is where its strength lies.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes - Beukes is one of those aspiration authors whom everything she touches is gold. This dark, Detroit-set crime thriller is everything I want in gritty reality with an effortless blend of the supernatural.

As I write this very post, I am itching to go back to the icy enthral of Johana Gustawsson's Block 46, soon to be released by Orenda. I'm not biased, the utter brutality of this book is only matched by how utterly compelling it is; I'll be shouting about this one everywhere when it comes out!

The biggest perks of becoming a writer, for me anyway, is the access to advance copies of books!

Matt Wesolowski ~ March 2017

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North

Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. 

His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly.

Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

Follow him on Twitter @ConcreteKraken