Wednesday 1 July 2020

Dead and Gone by Sherryl Clark BLOG TOUR @sherrylwriter @Verve_Books #DeadAndGone #MyLifeInBooks

There's nothing more dangerous than revenge.
Judi Westerholme has been through it. Brave and strong-willed, she's just about coping in her new role as foster parent to her orphaned niece, taking a job at the local pub to help make ends meet. Then the pub's landlord and Judi's friend, army veteran Pete 'Macca' Maccasfield, is murdered, and her world is suddenly turned upside down.
Despite warnings from the city police to keep out of it, Judi can't help but get involved in the search for Macca's killer. But she soon becomes deeply entangled with some ruthlessly dangerous men. She must act fast and think smart to work out what they want - before anyone else gets hurt...
Long buried secrets resurface in Sherryl Clark's pacey crime novel that pushes Judi Westerholme to her limits to protect the people she loves most.

Dead and Gone by Sherryl Clark was published digitally by Verve Books on 25 June 2020, the paperback is released on 27 August.

As part of the Blog Tour, I am delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books - Sherryl Clark

I grew up in New Zealand on a farm, and most of the books in our house were over 50 years old. Our huge two-volume encyclopedia had belonged to my grandfather and was published in 1898, so it was great to use in a school project about the steam engine, but it was no use for anything after about 1890!

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
This is the first book I ever owned, and I loved it – it wasn’t until I was allowed to join the public library in town that I was able to read the others in the Narnia series.

I also read books by Malcolm Saville (for some reason Not Scarlet But Gold sticks in my mind) but I don’t remember any of the plots. What I mainly remember is that he is the only author I ever wrote a letter to, and he replied, all the way from England.
I also read the Just William books, lots of Enid Blyton (of course), and I still have some of my Noddy books from back then.

As a teenager, I was lucky to have a teacher living near me who gave me lots of books. I read many authors like Mickey Spillane, Agatha Christie and Winston Graham, which cemented my love of crime fiction and historical fiction.

The Bone People by Keri Hulme
I first read this not long after I started writing seriously and was really struggling with form and plot and structure. There were other things going on in my life, too, and a story about a woman living alone in a tower that she had built herself resonated strongly. But more than that, I remember being blown away by Hulme’s storytelling, the moving around of characters and text and time, the way she seemed to break all the so-called rules of writing and make it work. It made me a little braver with my own writing and my own voice.

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
One of the things I love about physical bookshops is the browsing. You never know what new gem you will find. This is how I discovered Barbara Kingsolver, and this was the first book of hers I read (found on the Staff Recommendations shelf). I’ve read all of her books ever since and my favourite is Prodigal Summer. I loved all the details about the natural world, and the three women whose stories sit so solidly inside it. I was reminded of this intensity of detail when I read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – the power of the writer to not only observe nature with such a close eye but to make it an intrinsic part of both the characters and the story.

The Poet by Michael Connelly
With crime fiction, there are so many to choose from. My shelves are overflowing! I think the first crime novel I read that had me absolutely on the edge of my seat was The Poet by Michael Connelly. It stands out for me because of the driving need of Jack McEvoy, the main character, to in some way find redemption after his brother’s suicide. This is a story that
showed me, as a writer, how important that driving force has to be, and how personal for the character.

The Broken Shore by Peter Temple
The other crime novel that sticks in my mind is The Broken Shore. Joe McCashin is what I call an “outcast” character, and the way in which his personal demons affect not only his own life but his job, his ability to solve a murder and his search for the truth create a crime novel that goes way beyond just closing the case. These kinds of characters battle themselves as much as the “villains” and provide for rich reading – we see it in Connelly’s Bosch novels, as well as the need for justice for everyone. As Bosch says, “Everybody counts or nobody counts.”

The Wire in the Blood by Val McDermid
I started reading McDermid’s novels slightly out of order, so this was my first Tony Hill/Carol Jordan novel, then the others came after that. You can probably tell I love complex characters and these two are great foils for each other as well. Robson Green as Tony Hill in the TV series is perfectly played. I enjoy setting and description that’s well done – I like to imagine the places in my mind, although sometimes I will go and Google them as well. Peter Robinson’s novels set in North Yorkshire are wonderful for this, as are Ann Cleeves’ novels (all of them).

Peace by Garry Disher
Closer to home, Garry Disher is a crime writer who I think is one of the most underestimated in Australia. He wrote a series about a villain called Wyatt, which was very good, and another featuring Hal Challis and Ellen Destry which is set on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne. But his most recent novel, Peace, is set where he grew up in South Australia. Again, his settings and descriptions of the area are so good that you feel like you’re there. His main character, Constable Paul Hirschhausen, runs a one-person police station in a tiny town, and perhaps because I’ve done a lot of research on this, I could especially relate to the trials of a small town cop. The plot doesn’t disappoint either!

Flying at Night by Ted Kooser
I started reading and loving poetry in my last year of high school, perhaps because I went to a school where we didn’t have to study poems and pick them to pieces! Billy Collins and Ted Kooser are longtime favourites. Collins has a poetic voice all his own that I can hear in my head when I read his poems. But at the moment I’m re-reading Flying at Night by Kooser, and having to stop and marvel at each poem, sometimes reading them three or four times. His ability to describe the most ordinary things is stunning. For example, in “In the Basement of the Goodwill Store” there are lines like this – “old toilets with dry red throats/ cough up bouquets of curtain rods”.

It’s strange how, in writing this and thinking about the books that have stayed with me, I can see tiny influences on my own writing. When it comes to my setting and description, I feel like a magpie, taking a little bit of this town and a little bit of that house or street, and creating a place I can see in my mind. When I see my characters there, making things happen, I know I’m on the right track!

Sherryl Clark - June 2020 

Sherryl Clark has had 40 children’s and YA books published in Australia, and several in the US and UK, plus collections of poetry and four verse novels. 
She has taught writing at Holmesglen TAFE and Victoria University. 
She recently completed a Master of Fine Arts program at Hamline University, Minnesota, and is now studying for a PhD in creative writing. 
Sherryl's debut novel, Trust Me, I'm Dead, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger. 
It is the first novel in the Judi Westerholme series, followed by Dead and Gone.

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