Friday 30 June 2017

Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staalesen #BlogTour @OrendaBooks #VargVeum

PI Varg Veum fights for his reputation, his freedom and his life, when child pornography is found on his computer and he is arrested and jailed. Worse still, his memory is a blank...
Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum's life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.
When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he's accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material... and who is seeking the ultimate revenge.

Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staalesen was published by Orenda Books on June 15th.

I'm delighted to welcome the author, Gunnar Staalesen to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour. He's talking about; My Life in Books:

My Life In Books ~ Gunnar Staalesen

I have loved books from before I was able to read them myself. 
In the first years of my life, television was a dream of the future, or something we saw in a Disney cartoon. In Norway we had the radio and only one channel that anyone listened to: NRK (The Norwegian Broadcasting Company). Early in the morning there was a programme they called The Children’s Hour (although it didn’t last more than twenty minutes). 

As part of this programme, grown-up writers read their stories; stories that were later published as books. Many of these were original Norwegian books, but one of my very first favorites was the first Norwegian translation of A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh (‘Ole Brumm’ as he was called in our language). It remains a book I still love, and I even think that the laconic comments of the donkey are one of the inspirations for how my private eye hero, Varg Veum, speaks.

Other early favorites of mine were the Norwegian folk fairy tales collected by Asbjørnsen & Moe, probably because they have a lot of trolls in them!

When I started to read myself, among other things I picked up two Nordic masters: Astrid Lindgren from Sweden, with her varied books for children, and some years later one of my all-time favorites: Tove Jansson from Finland, with her poetic, philosophical and fascinating stories from Moomin Valley.

Among the books passed around by the boys in the street in Bergen where I grew up were Norwegian translations of the long Hardy Boys series. I think these gave me my first experience of how cliff-hangers function: It was almost impossible to put the books down before you had finished the last chapter; a very good way to train young people to become avid readers. But I also read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books about Tarzan, as well as plenty of classic authors: James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne and Charles Dickens. 
Dickens was an important influence later in life too, and I still have fond memories of The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield and Great Expectations

Another hero from these years were Alexandre Dumas; the whole series about The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Christo were entertaining, filled with suspense and even instructive for a young boy like me, who was always very interested in history. 

And then, not to forget what a pleasure it was to read my first book by Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles, which drew me into the atmosphere of the very best crime novels from its first chapter.
I have read a lot of books and still read every day. Some of my early Norwegian favourites were Knut Hamsun and Amalie Skram; the latter would be a classic, international name if her books had been translated into, say, English when she wrote them, in the last fifteen years of the nineteenth century. I have adapted her major work, The Hellemyr People, twice for the theatre in Bergen – the second time as a musical.

I have always preferred writers who tell a good story and have important things to say about human existence. So it’s not a big surprise that I enjoyed Hemingway, who had a great influence on many of those who followed him. I also read Faulkner, admiring his experimental way of telling some very important stories about life in the twentieth century.

When I was writing my very first books, I was inspired by the Beat Generation, and the American writer, Jack Kerouac. But then I turned to crime fiction.

I had read crime since I was a child, all the classics from Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to Quentin Patrick and Earl Stanley Gardner, not to forget John Dickson Carr and A Burning Court, which, of course, is one of the best crime novels ever written. 

As a grown-up reader I turned to Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, who turned the American private eye novel into perfect literature. As a Scandinavian it was impossible in those days not to be impressed and influenced by the first books by the Swedish couple Sjöwall & Wahlöö, who, with their series about Martin Beck and his colleagues, changed modern crime fiction forever. The tradition these Swedes started can be seen in so much contemporary crime literature from their Nordic successors, such as Henning Mankell, StiegLarsson, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbø and many others, as well as another favorite of mine, Ian Rankin and the marvellous series of books about Edinburgh and the Scottish relative of Martin Beck, John Rebus.

Among the books that are close to my heart is How Like an Angel by Margaret Millar. This combination of a private eye novel, whodunit and psychological thriller is a book I always have at the top of my list if I’m asked about the best crime novels of all time – together with The Long Goodbye by Chandler and, as already mentioned, A Burning Court, which in Norway has the even more exciting title Sort messe (‘Black Mass’).

I am only sorry that life is too short: there are so many books I would like to read, and so many that I would like to read again, but there are not enough years, days or hours to fulfill my lust for reading, which started when I was just a kid and which will endure the rest of my life. 

Gunnar Staalesen ~ June 2017 

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. When Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen, and a host of Varg Veum memorabilia for sale. We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die were both international bestsellers. Don Bartlett is the foremost translator of Norwegian, responsible for the multaward- winning, bestselling books by Jo Nesbo, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Per Pettersen. It is rare to have a translator who is as well-known and highly regarded as the author.

Thursday 29 June 2017

Newark Book Festival 15 - 16 July 2017 @NewarkBookFest

Biggest ever Newark Book Festival
brings literary adventure and heroes to town this July
Newark-on-Trent is set to be transformed into a land of adventure, heroes and storytelling street entertainment for this year’s Newark Book Festival, which will take over the town for the weekend of
July 15th-16th.
Back for its third year, the festival’s organisers have announced their biggest ever programme of events under this year’s theme: Adventures and Heroes! with more than 100 authors, artists, entertainers, wordsmiths and street performers booked for this two-day literary extravaganza.
Venues across the town will be hosting ticketed panel discussions, music, book markets, children’s storytelling, family activities and literary talks on everything from crime writing to bear hunts to the BFG and Sherlock Holmes to Steampunk (the full programme can be found at

International best-selling author Matt Haig will be returning to his hometown for a headline talk on his latest novel How to Stop Time  and the jockey Declan Murphy will be discussing his heartbreaking and inspirational true story Centaur in collaboration with writer Ami Rao, who helped him tell his incredible, critically-acclaimed tale of a journey back from a near-fatal racing accident.

Sara Bullimore, artistic director for Newark Book Festival, said:

We’re so excited to be building the festival with a new feel, brand and working with more venues to bring a bigger festival to Newark. Our programme is full of fantastic fictional tales and amazing true stories from some of the UK’s finest writers; showcasing their talent, stimulating debate and inspiring the next generation of writers.
We chose this year’s theme, Adventures and Heroes, to celebrate Visit England’s Year of Literary Heroes, as well as Nottinghamshire’s incredible writers. There’ll be something for book lovers of all ages, from children’s writers and comedy theatre groups to best-selling novelists and the finest local writing talent.”

Tickets are on sale now from the Newark Palace Theatre Box Office - call 01636 655755, visit, email
or buy direct from the venue (Appletongate, Newark, NG24 1JY) between  10am-5pm, seven days a week.

Newark Market Place will be transformed into the Literature Quarter on Saturday, with Sherlock Holmes investigating his toughest case yet in the world’s smallest theatre and Doctor Rhyme performing his famous spontaneous poetry salads alongside book stalls, storytellers and chalk artists.

Guests can also show their support for the not-for-profit festival by becoming a Festival Friend for just £15pp (or £25 per couple). Festival Friends will get special ticket offers, invites to an exclusive VIP launch event and free refreshments at all Town Hall events across the weekend.

The full programme can be found at
For more details, follow @newarkbookfest on Twitter and Facebook.

Newark Book Festival is a not for profit literary festival that takes place across the historic market town of Newark. The festival is currently funded by the Arts Council of England, Newark & Sherwood District Council, Newark Town Council and Newark Area for Arts and Leisure Foundation.

Additional funding comes from local trusts, Waitrose Community Matters,donations and sponsors. Sponsors include: Tallents Solicitors, The Turquoise TeaPot, Duncan & Toplis and Karrot Entertainment.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson #BlogTour @ScorpioScribble @AccentPress

It's what's inside that counts...
Art student and former model Diana has always been admired for her beauty, but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.
Facially disfigured four-year-old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything and Cal becomes Diana s muse. But as Diana s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.
Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what's on the outside counts for so much?

Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson was published in paperback by Accent Press on 15 June 2017.  I'm really delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for this book, I've read a couple of this author's books in the past, and reviewed them here on Random Things: Public Battles, Private Wars (October 2014), and Redemption Song (February 2016).

Beauty is only skin deep. External attractiveness has no relation to goodness or essential quality. This maxim was first stated by Sir Thomas Overbury in his poem "A Wife" (1613): "All the carnall beauty of my wife is but skin-deep."

Most of us will agree that indeed, beauty is only skin deep, and that a person's character is more important than how they look. I also expect that whilst most of us believe that, many of us are guilty of judging a person by how they look, and expecting their character to reflect their body.

In Skin Deep, Laura Wilkinson explores this belief and has produced a powerful and hard-hitting story that will make the reader question themselves, and those around them.

Diana is beautiful. From early childhood, that beauty has been the one aspect of her life that has brought the most pain. Paraded around beauty competitions by her cold, bitter mother; slapped when she didn't win and hugged closely when she took the crown, her beauty has brought her nothing but pain. The novel opens in 1980s Hulme, Manchester as Diana moves into a squalid flat on a rough council estate, defying her parents, and determined to become an artist.

Despite her desire to leave her past behind, the question of beauty has consumed her and continues to do so when she meets Cal; just five years old, neglected by his addicted parents, hidden away from the rest of the world, and ugly. 'Ugly' is a harsh word to use about a small child, but Cal's face is disfigured by congenital defects and although there may be beauty inside him, it is his facial features that have shaped his life so far, just as Diana's beauty has shaped her.

Laura Wilkinson's writing is sharp and emotive and she spares nothing in her description of the neighbourhood, the people and the dark contrast between herself and Cal. Diana is a troubled, often badly flawed woman. She tells herself that she only has Cal's best interests at heart, but as the story progresses, the reader comes to realise that Diana is often selfish and deluded, and her fellow characters realise that too.

This author has a remarkable ability to convey the human emotions, passions and fears so incredibly well. Skin Deep is often troubling, sometimes uncomfortable, but completely and utterly compelling. The characterisation is incredible and engaging, and love them, or hate them, they really will get under your skin.

Captivating and beautifully written. Skin Deep is a story that will trouble the reader, yet delight at the same time.

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

Laura Wilkinson lives in Brighton with her musician/carpenter husband, ginger sons and a cat called Sheila.
She is the author of four novels: The Family Line, Public Battles, Private Wars, Redemption Song and Skin Deep.

For more information visit:
Follow her on Twitter @ScorpioScribble

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Calling Down The Storm by Peter Murphy #BlogTour @noexitpress

Calling Down the Storm is the story of two separate but strangely parallel lives: the life of a defendant on trial for murder, and the life of the judge who presides over his trial.
April 1971. When DI Webb and DS Raymond receive an emergency call, a horrific scene awaits them. Susan Lang is lying on the ground, bleeding to death. Her husband Henry is sitting nearby, holding a large, blood-stained knife. In shock, Henry claims to have no memory of the events that led to his wife's death, leaving his barrister, Ben Schroeder, little to defend a potential charge of murder.
Unknown to his strict Baptist wife, Deborah, Mr Justice Conrad Rainer has a secret life as a highstakes gambler. In his desperation for money, he has already raided his own and Deborah's resources, and now he has crossed another line - one from which there is no return.
To his horror, as the trial of Henry Lang starts, Conrad discovers a sinister connection between it and his gambling debts, one that will cause his world to unravel.

Calling Down The Storm by Peter Murphy is published by No Exit Press on 29 June 2017 and is the fifth in the Ben Schroeder series.

I'm thrilled to welcome the author, Peter Murphy here to Random Things today as part of the #BlogTour. Peter is talking about My Life In Books

My Life In Books ~ Peter Murphy

Like all authors, I owe a great debt of gratitude to books I have read along the way during my life.  All of us who write have experienced a turning point, often unexpected, on picking up a particular book.  I couldn’t possibly list all the books that have influenced me, even if space permitted.  But five stand out.  The first three are old favourites.  The last two are books I came to more recently that made a big impact on me.

All writers look up to one particular author from whom they have derived inspiration.  For me, that writer is John Le Carré.  I could have put several of his books on my list as having a huge influence on me: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Smiley’s People; and outside the cold war stories, The Constant Gardner; and The Night Manager.  I chose A Perfect Spy because it is in my view his undoubted masterpiece – an unrivalled combination of suspense novel and exploration of the psychology of the spy, much of it based on the author’s own life.  It is typically complex and detailed, but superbly written, the characters and the plot brilliantly developed.  Le Carré transcends genres.  He is a model for any writer aspiring to write high quality, complex novels.

Conan Doyle was my introduction, at age ten or eleven, to crime writing, and this is his best.  Although dated socially, stylistically – and of course technically in relating to the investigation of crime – Conan Doyle’s novels gave us the timeless model of the crime novel.  His depiction of the single-minded, obsessive, drug-addicted detective remains one of the great achievements of the genre.  Sherlock Holmes has been a model for any number of other authors, most notably Agatha Christie, whose Hercule Poirot is a reincarnation of the Baker Street sleuth.  Dr Watson has become a model for the detective’s foil: Captain Hastings to Poirot; Sergeant Lewis to Morse; and many, many more.  I’m a complete Sherlock Holmes purist, and have hated every TV attempt to modernise him.  For me, Jeremy Brett and Nigel Hawthorne will always be Holmes and Watson.

Turning away from my development as a writer, this book opened up a new page in me as a human being.  It is impossible to categorise.  It is simply a phenomenon.  It took Pirsig (who died recently) for ever to get it published, because it’s hard to define what his book is about.  Is it about repairing motorcycles? Or his travels through America with his son?  Or is it about much more?  Answer: I’m not going to tell you.  And yes, I admit it, this book is a cult thing for my generation, but I don’t think we’re the only generation to love it.  It is an extraordinary allegory of life. I’m not going to say any more about it except that, if you haven’t read it, you should.  It will change your life.

I love this book because it exposes the highs and lows of writing a novel.  This is a fabulous book: the story is extraordinary, massively compelling, wonderfully written. But I love it too because the author shows us some of the pitfalls as well as the spectacular achievement.  Tartt gets carried away with one part of the story, which lasts for far too long.  You could cut this novel by a third, and it wouldn’t suffer at all.  And she obviously couldn’t decide how to end the book.  She doesn’t decide in time, writes herself into a corner, and settles for an improbable reasonably happy ending.  But despite all that, it’s a wonderful, mesmerising book: and that’s a great lesson for authors – you don’t have to write a ‘perfect’ book.

Night Train to Lisbon, by Pascal Mercier (translated from the German by Barbara Harshav)
Another lesson about what a novel can be in it highest form.  A haunting tale of how a chance encounter with a woman about to commit suicide lures a Swiss teacher away from his home and work to Lisbon, to find out the truth about what drove her to it.  An extraordinary story of the Portuguese resistance to fascist rule, beautifully told, starting with almost nothing and building to a remarkable crescendo.  I love Portugal, but even without that, this deserves to become a classic.

Peter Murphy has published five legal thrillers set in Sixties and Seventies London, featuring barrister Ben Schroeder: A Higher Duty; A Matter for the Jury; And is there Honey still for Tea?; The Heirs of Owain Glyndŵr; and Calling down the Storm.  
He has also published two political thrillers about the US presidency: Removal; and Test of Resolve.  More recently, he has completed a volume of humorous short stories, somewhat in the Rumpole of the Bailey tradition, under the title Walden of Bermondsey.  These will be published in late November 2017, and there is a second volume on the way.  
His publisher is No Exit Press.  

Monday 26 June 2017

The Other Twin by Lucy V Hay @LucyVHayAuthor @OrendaBooks #TheOtherTwin

A stunning, dark and sexy debut thriller set in the winding lanes and underbelly of Brighton, centring around the social media world, where resentments and accusations are played out, identities made and remade, and there is no such thing as the truth

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India's death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India's laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its wellheeled families, The Other Twin is startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth...

The Other Twin is the much anticipated debut thriller from well-known blogger Lucy V Hay and is published in paperback by Orenda Books on 3 July 2017.

The Other Twin is a fairly short novel at 250 pages, but it is perfectly formed. The incredibly well created characters lead the reader through an intense, dark and sometimes complicated plot. It’s unsettling at times, it’s dark, it’s tantalising,  and it’s complex. It’s also one of those books that raises questions within each chapter.

Set in Brighton, away from the bright, glittery sea-side town that is all too familiar in other novels, The Other Twin exposes the darker, seedier, underbelly of the town.
When Poppy returns to her hometown after the death of her sister India, she is distraught, and confused. Whilst she and India were estranged for the past few years; the girl that she remembers would never have taken her own life. As she digs deeper into India’s recent past, Poppy begins to uncover secrets and untruths that have been hidden, but are threatening to be exposed, and to ruin two of the most important families in town.

Lucy V Hay has used her knowledge and expertise of social media to enhance her story, and the darkest, most sinister side to the internet is finely and horrifyingly detailed within the plot.
The Other Twin is slick and compulsive. Lucy V Hay’s writing is fluid and to the point, sometimes frantic, and often chilling. Her characterisation is confident with a rich understanding of human nature, that can be uncomfortably real at times.

A welcome new voice in the genre, The Other Twin is unique and compelling. Deliciously tense, and clever.

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. 
She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. 
Lucy is also head reader for The London Screenwriters' Festival

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @LucyVHayAuthor 
Find her Author page on Facebook