Publication day is here, yippee!

Have stayed up all night just so I can say “It’s publication day” right from the get go. ONE BAD TURN is available to download from Amazon today. DS Coupland is back, fresh from a family holiday, only to find a serial killer stalking the streets of Salford. http://amzn.to/1Upc35q Right, off to bed for me…

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ONE BAD TURN…

One Bad Turn

DS Coupland is back! And he’s hot on the heels of a serial killer…

My new eBook, ONE BAD TURN will be available to download from Amazon on 29 June. Alternatively you can pre order by clicking onto this link http://amzn.to/1Upc35q

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Guest Author Spot – Mark Tilbury

I started writing 10 years ago and found one of the biggest challenges for me when I had finished my first novel (or rather, the first novel I was happy for people to see!) was getting my name out there so people could find my work. I was interviewed last year by the lovely Lynsey Adams for her blog There’s Been a Murder and I enjoyed the process so much it got me to thinking I should do something similar for other new authors. So, without further ado I’d like to introduce you to Mark Tilbury, author of The Revelation Room which was published in May.

Hi Mark, how did you get started writing?

I’ve always loved writing as far back as I can remember. I wrote my first novel years ago when I was in the Royal Navy. I worked in the engine room of a submarine, so needless to say there were some pretty messy notepads in my locker. After I left the navy I enrolled in a creative writing school and wrote a short story and a novel as part of the course. The short story was later published in Best magazine. I’ll never forget the feeling of actually getting paid for the first time for something I love doing.

What drew you to write crime/dark humour?

I love the psychological aspect of crime, getting right inside the minds of the bad guys, but my instinct is to try to inject some humour into the story here and there. I don’t like wading through too much darkness without a little light relief. I think the same is true with comedy; there needs to be some serious stuff occasionally. I think stories can really benefit from having a good mix.

Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?

I like lots of authors, so it’s hard to say who’s influenced me the most. I think I take something away from every good book I read. Anyway, I’ll try to narrow it down to a few. I must start with Agatha Christie because she was my first love. I read all her books when I was still at school. She lived about a mile away from me in this huge house and we used to go carol singing there at Christmas when we were kids hoping to see her. We never did, but I used to think it was cool that such a great writer lived there.

Catherine Cookson is an absolute legend. She brought to life a period and a part of England with such vivid realism. She created characters I cared about; characters that moved me and made me feel involved in the story. I love the way her dialogue flows and the way her stories make you forget that you are reading.

Tom Sharpe is the absolute king of farce. He was the first writer that almost killed me with laughter! I once tried to read a passage from one of his books to my girlfriend and I was laughing so much I couldn’t breathe. Most people will be familiar with Wilt, but his portrayal of the South African police in Indecent Exposure is scathing and brilliant. His superb brand of humour definitely influenced me, and even though I write dark tales, I try to inject touches of humour into them to lighten them up.

Stephen King has also been a massive influence. I’d advise anyone who wants to write to study his books. He is the best. I love the way his characters instantly come to life. Under the Dome has a huge cast, but every character is written vividly and with wit. I didn’t like the television adaptation, but the novel was nine hundred or so pages of fictional heaven for me.

When you first started writing did you try to get publisher interest?

Yes. I got an agent interested and then life events took over and I couldn’t write for a long time. When I started again, Amazon Kindle was quite well established and I decided to give self-publishing a go.

Do you have a favourite character (in your novels)?

Edward Ebb is the main antagonist in The Revelation Room. Frankly, I love him. He came to me one night and spoke (in my rather warped mind). He said the burnt bunnies must go down the rabbit hole! I had absolutely no idea who the burnt bunnies were or where the rabbit hole was, but then it was my job to find out. I spent weeks and weeks listening to his outrageous demands. Some of them were absurd, some grotesque and some downright unprintable. He took me into his childhood and showed me things no one should have to see! At the moment I’m creating another character for the second book that is equally warped and intriguing.

What kind of research did you have to undertake for your novels?

Most of it is to do with psychological stuff and investigative procedure, but because my characters are fictional, I give them license to roam outside what is strictly true. After all, fiction is all about escaping reality. I stick to certain guidelines and then see how far I can wander. Edward Ebb was interesting because he demanded that I push the boundaries as far as paranoid schizophrenics are concerned. But he was in charge, so anything that isn’t strictly true is down to him.

Are the characters in your books based on any real life?

Not really. Pastor Tom is based upon my experience with a Pentecostal church I used to go to as a kid. I’m not particularly religious, but the genuine goodness of those people rubbed off on me, and I hope I’ve showed that in The Revelation Room.

What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other novels out there?

I think the mixture of wit and grit definitely makes my novels stand out. I also think Ben Whittle isn’t your conventional private investigator; the role is rather thrust upon him by events in The Revelation Room. Ben also has to overcome an awful lot of self-doubt to come to terms with his newfound role. I also think that my bad guys, although intrinsically evil, have a certain amount of lightness in the absurdity of their thoughts and resulting actions.

Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?

I think there’s a bit of an author in all characters. All writers have to look deep into their souls and dredge up all kinds of emotions that shape personality. I don’t ever consciously write thinking about my own personality, but equally, I think it’s impossible not to on some level. I’d like to think that the bad guys are nothing like me, but then again…

Do you have more books planned?

I’m currently writing the next book in the Ben Whittle investigation series. It’s got a working title: The Eyes of the Accused. It’s about a pregnant girl, Holly Heath, who has simply vanished off the face of the earth for no particular reason. She was by all accounts happy and about to get married when she went missing. The investigation leads Ben and Maddie to believe that a maintenance man at the nursing home where Holly works has something to do with her disappearance, but they have no idea of the awful truth waiting for them as Maddie befriends the maintenance man in an attempt to unravel the mystery.

The Revelation Room is available now on Amazon: http://t.co/yCnbL5nSV2

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As if by magic…

There I was typing the denouement to my WIP when the title suddenly leapt up at me from the page: THE SILENCE BEFORE THE SCREAM. It is meant to convey that moment when the brain takes in what it’s seeing, while it’s working out how to respond. I’m relieved to finally have a title and wanted to do a jig when it came to me. Who knew it would be so difficult? The only good news is finding the right image for the cover was a lot easier, thanks to Caireen Harrison, a lovely designer who has created all my super covers. Would you like a sneaky new peak? Thought you would…

tsbts

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What’s in a title?

I’ve completed the first draft of my new book (a follow up to Truth Lies Waiting)and as well as checking continuity and any plot holes before it goes off for editing I’m trying to get a feel for the title. With my other books this seemed to come quite naturally, Fragile Cord was the headline for a news article in Scotland on Sunday on murder suicide that really captured my imagination; A Place of Safety was a title I’d always liked; Truth Lies Waiting was hard – there seemed to be so many themes running through the book nothing seemed to do it justice and then Pow! I found a title I liked. Now the follow up is proving just as difficult. There was me thinking all the hard work was done…

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My Family and other Characters.

When writers are asked about the characters they write about most will say that their creations are mainly fictional with a nod to people they meet, whether it’s a nervous tic of an old teacher they’ve added to their protagonist or the fiery temper of a not so popular work colleague. This makes absolute sense; we tend to write about the things we know and that goes for the people around us too.

So, how does this translate into forming the main character’s background? Do writers draw from their own experience of family set ups, in whatever form they take? I suppose in a way they must, as it’s that very dynamic that forms us. Isn’t it?

I find when I write about my characters’ families I’m compelled to reign in my personal experience for fear the reader would say my creations are too fanciful, as the list of characters in my family unit would read like a Jilly Cooper novel. And that’s just the family members I know about!

The number of skeletons in my family’s closet suggest we should upgrade to a double wide, walk-in wardrobe. Long Lost family hosts Davina and Nick would run for the hills if they took a look at the carnage my folk have left in their wake, yet it’s something that’s been on my mind since my father passed away in June. I am attempting to put a family tree together, but it’ll require the cooperation of many distant family relatives – and the rekindling of long ago memories which out of loyalty have thus far been kept silent. In a nutshell I have siblings that I’m not supposed to know about. But I do, and have done for years. So where do I go with that? It’s no surprise I started writing, I suppose!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been looking at the characters I’ve created in my novels and there are dynamics in play I hadn’t thought about consciously. In Fragile Cord, the story revolves around the murder suicide of a young woman and her son, uncovering a secret she was unable to share even with her husband. Yet it takes two to keep a secret: one with something to hide and the other, unwilling to rock the boat.

In Truth Lies waiting, the main character Davy Johnson thinks he knows all there is to know about his family. As far as he’s concerned life would be good if the bent cop following him around would just leave him alone. When an incident happens that makes his life go into freefall he has to dig deep into his family history to find the cause. The story explores a fractured father/son relationship and uncovers secrets that were kept for (possibly) the right reasons.

For me my lovely Dad could do no wrong, I was the apple of his eye, yet a brother was relegated for no reason we can fathom. Amidst this sorrow the good news is that I was reunited with my wonderful older brother at Dad’s funeral and we are determined to make up for our thirty years apart – which is the closest I think we’ll get to a fairy-tale ending. Yet the sadness and frustration of unanswered questions will continue to plague my characters for some time I think.

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A policeman’s lot…

 

Fragile Cord introduced Salford detectives Moreton and Coupland as they unravel the cause behind a young woman’s murder-suicide.  I am currently working on the second ebook in the series which continues with Moreton and Coupland and introduces DCI Stuart Mallender, a clean-cut career cop with a shady past.  This story begins with a drive by shooting and follows the knock on effect of repercussions as they ripple throughout the local community.

I enjoy writing about forensic details during each investigation but this also got me thinking about solving crime from another perspective – and so Truth Lies Waiting -and our anti-hero Davy Johnson was born!

Davy is the main character in my Edinburgh based series focussing on a young man and his cronies as they take on the establishment and solve local crimes where blind eyes have been turned.  There’s a real David V Goliath feel to this series as Davy tackles police corruption and discovers just how long someone can hold a grudge.  Writing from Davy’s perspective frees me from traditional police procedural protocols and allows me to use more creative methods to trace, interrogate and eliminate suspects from his investigations…I’d love to know what you think of Davy and his sidekicks as I shall be starting the second book in this series shortly and your feedback would be great!

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Early Influences

Priestly’s An Inspector Calls was a huge influence behind Fragile Cord.  You may recall it was made into a film starring Alastair Sim (yes, it shows my age that I remember it but in my defence I also remember it was an ‘old’ film even back then!) who played Inspector Poole.  During a society celebration toasting the engagement between the offspring of two wealthy families the festivities are interrupted by a surprise visit from a police inspector investigating the suicide of a young woman.

The questions he asks relating to the case reveal they all had secrets linking them to her death, he was essentially apportioning blame.

Fragile Cord centres around the investigation into two cases:

  • A pregnant mother who murders her son before killing herself
  • The fatal stabbing of a local man in front of his family

It enabled me to explore the reasons why a parent may carry out such an unspeakable act but instead of there being just one reason, what if there were many, all with varying degrees of culpability?  I also thought linking the investigation into her death with the sub plot, an investigation into a seemingly unrelated attack on a family man which leads to murder, would contrast two very different situations:

  • The assault on a man desperately trying to cling onto his family
  • A young mother desperately trying to get away from hers

I tried to replicate the way Priestly peels back each layer of respectability from his suspects, revealing something entirely unpleasant underneath, but instead of this being a straightforward whydunnit? I wanted to ramp up the randomness of it all to give the reader something to think about long after they finish reading it…

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