The Top Five Best Short Reads to Spook You Out On Halloween

the raven

Happy Halloween!! I love this holiday, as it incorporates all my favourite things; food, dressing up and being a bit pratty. OK, so there’s not as much food as Christmas, but it’s still a bit of fun, and as such I thought I’d show you my top five favourite short stories and novellas to scare any bookworm. I already had a look at the best horror stories last year, so this year I thought I’d try something a bit different. I hope you like it and encounter an old favourite or find something new to try!

5. The Thirty Nine Steps: OK OK, I know that this isn’t technically a scary story, but it is a really awesome novella, and what’s more scary than having your whole life turned upside down? A thrilling spy story, if you’re looking for something that’s thrilling in a different way this Halloween, or you’re too scardie to try out anything truly frightening, then give this a go and you will not be disappointed.

4. The Withered Arm: I’ve been a fan of Thomas Hardy’s work for a long time, particularly his less renowned short stories, such as this creepy tale of a woman whose arms begins to bruise and become disfigured following the discovery of a secret about her new marriage. She is advised of a strange and vaguely sinister cure which leads her to her spectacular downfall.

3. The Boogeyman: As you may have noticed from my recent post, I am a big fan of Stephen King and his work. Whilst everyone tends to focus on his novels or the stories that have been adapted into successful films or TV shows, there are some truly great short works that have gone neglected, which deserve more credit than they get. The Boogeyman, the story of a man whose family is plagued by a mysterious, terrifying, child killing creature that haunts them even as they travel the country, is definitely one of them, and is the ideal tale to scare you witless this Halloween.

2. The Raven: Every year, at Halloween, I re-read Edgar Allan Poe’s narrative poem about a man being terrorised by a mysterious bird. Psychologically this creepy poem is brilliant, and the atmospheric description invokes a feeling of pure terror, as the reader and the protagonist are both engaged in a battle of wits with the raven, which draws the narrator slowly into madness. Intelligent, witty, and stunningly crafted, this is perfect for creeping you out and making you think on the scariest day of the year.

1. The Aspern Papers / The Turning of the Screw: I was completely unable to pick which of these two excellent Henry James stories should be top, so I chose both! My edition contains both and each is not particularly long so it’s easy to devour them both quickly and they make for great scary bedtime stories. James is excellent at imbibing even short descriptive paragraphs with real horror, and as such these are really condensed frightens that wills stay with you for years to come.

Martin Daley Interview: “It never ceases to amaze me how many crime writers list Conan Doyle as an inspiration”

Martin web small

Martin Daley, a writer who is re-inventing Sherlock Holmes, discusses how he undertakes this Herculean task and the writers and events that inspire his work.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and mystery writing?

It never ceases to amaze me how many crime writers list Conan Doyle as an inspiration and without sounding a bit clichéd, I probably have to join the end of that long line! I don’t claim to be Sir Arthur’s biggest fan but Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are probably my two favourite literary characters, and it was probably the Holmes stories that drew me towards crime fiction in the first place.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

I wish I could say I studied English Literature at Oxbridge and them fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition in becoming a writer, however the truth is I sort of fell into it by accident. I had a fairly modest education (I wasn’t a good learner as a child and my teachers were hopeless – the lot of them!). In adulthood I started to properly educate myself: reading books that I wanted to read, travelling etc.

I was studying the life of an ancestor of mine and found so much information about him that I thought his story might make an interesting book. To test my own writing ability I entered a national short-story competition and – although I didn’t win it – I received some really good feedback from the judges. This encouraged me to write about my great-great grandfather; the book was well received locally and I got the writing bug as a result!

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

That’s quite an easy one! I write both fiction and non-fiction, and all of my books to date have been inspired by either my own ancestry or local history. Like everyone else who reads this I’m sure, I have an interesting heritage and we don’t have to go very far back to fine some interesting characters that can capture our imagination.

The other point with me is that I’m from such a historic city. Carlisle has over two thousand years of history dating back to the Romans – if you can’t find something there of interest there’s no hope for you!

This all led to me combining my interest in fact and fiction. To explain: as I said earlier I’ve always been a fan of the Holmes stories and I thought wouldn’t it be great to set one of his adventures in Carlisle (great for me anyway!). So I used Watson’s links with the military to have our two heroes come up north in 1903 to investigate the theft of the Arroyo Drums, the Border Regiment’s most prize possession.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Regarding fiction, I suppose the obvious choices would be some of my favourites – Dumas or Dickens perhaps. But thinking a bit more about it I will plump for Stieg Larrson. I loved the Millennium trilogy and the way he used characters that were different to the standard cop and sidekick were really interesting and inspirational.

From a non-fiction point of view, I think I would go with Simon Schama. I suppose I harbour a bit of a long-term ambition to write a history of Carlisle, and who better than my favourite historian to help me do it?

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

Yes, I’m excited to say there is plenty going on right now. By way of background I should say that when I wrote the Holmes pastiche I deliberately didn’t make my local detective a buffoon (like in so many Holmes stories) because I wanted to give him some adventures of his own. Detective Inspector Cornelius Armstrong was born!

A couple of months ago I signed up with MX Publishing, who not only wanted to publish Volume III of the Armstrong Casebook, but Steve (Emezc) suggested we re-brand the series and publish the first two volumes leading up to the brand new book in December. The cover designs by Brian Belanger are sensational!

While there are other Armstrong stories in the pipeline, I am also working on a modern-day transnational thriller that is something different for me. Hopefully it will see its way into print late next year or early 2019.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I’m always eagerly anticipating Charles Cumming latest spy novel and – following David Lagercrantz picking up Stieg’s Millennium baton – I believe there are to be further Salandar/Blomkvist adventure, so I’ll be looking out for them too.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I suppose I should give a shameless plug to my Armstrong series with MX Publishing, and if there is anyone interested further in my ramblings they can follow me on twitter or check out the new blog I’ve just added to my website.

Thanks for taking the time Martin, it’s been a pleasure. You can find out more about Martin and his work HERE.

Roger Keen Interview: “I find the best kind of inspiration comes from unexpected things”

Roger Keen Author Pic

Roger Keen, filmmaker and psychological thriller writer, discusses his work and the influences behind it.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards writing thrillers?

When I started writing, I was initially drawn to literary fiction, particularly American countercultural writers such as Kerouac, Burroughs, Henry Miller and Richard Brautigan. But I also liked classic crime and noirish fiction, ranging from Poe and Conan Doyle to Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell. Later, I decided to write dark horror-type short stories, because there was a market for them in small press magazines, and literary stories were harder to place. The types of stories I liked to write were more psychological rather than supernatural, and more rooted in the real world than in the realms of Gothic fantasy. I was always interested in aberrant psychology and read about it widely, including true crime books, and in the stories I explored psychopathy, psychosis, obsession and various personality disorders. Characters such as Highsmith’s Tom Ripley appealed to me, as did Hannibal Lecter, and indeed Annie Wilkes in Misery!

I’ve attempted several psychological thrillers over the years, each with a central deranged protagonist, but such ideas really gelled with Literary Stalker, because the setting allowed me to indulge my propensities as a horror/crime book-and-film buff, and the backbone thread of an obsessed, enamoured fan, becoming progressively unhinged, made for an ideal psychological exploration.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your work as a filmmaker when writing fiction?

I went to art college from school, and at first I studied painting and then moved on to photography and film. After that I worked in television, but I always wrote in my spare time. The first paid writing work I did consisted of magazine articles and interviews, and focussed mainly on genre and surreal literature and film, which became something of a speciality.

When writing fiction, I sometimes use the world of film and TV as a setting, and I often plan out action scenes in a filmic way, thinking about viewpoints, angles, effects and eye lines as if they were to be filmed by a camera. Also I tend to put a lot of film content and references into my work – which is particularly true of Literary Stalker. One of the central ideas is that the novel-within-the-novel (The Facebook Murders) is a film pastiche, using the 1970s Vincent Price horror film Theatre of Blood as a template, and having murders enacted according to the plots of various other genre movies, such as Reservoir Dogs – also a lot of the treatment is deliberately ‘Tarantinoesque’, pastiching a pasticher. So, I’m having fun in a kind of ‘nudge-wink’ way with movies references, which others will pick up on.

Lit Stalker Cover 1000

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

I find the best kind of inspiration comes from unexpected things which happen to me in life, weird and uncanny coincidences, and the kind of quirky incidents that sometimes occur that make you say: ‘You just couldn’t make that up’. I usually write down such things without knowing how I’ll use them, and then, sometimes years later, I will find an opportunity. If I’ve got writer’s block, I don’t try to force myself to write but instead I’ll do something else to take my mind elsewhere. Country walking helps with freeing up the mind and regaining inspiration, I’ve always found. I particularly like the West Country, where I used to live, including Dartmoor and the Devon and Cornwall Coast. I also like the Cotswolds, which is less rugged and more ‘typically English’. I use the Cotswolds as a setting for a later section of the novel, involving ‘country stalking’, making a contrast to the earlier urban scenes.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I never have collaborated with another writer, and it’s hard to imagine doing so, but if I had to pick one writer from the past that I would hypothetically like to collaborate with, it would be William Burroughs. I’ve always admired his experimentalism and the way he plays with different genres in a postmodern way, be it hardboiled crime, horror, fantasy or science fiction. He himself has collaborated with several other writers and filmmakers, and David Cronenberg’s movie version of Naked Lunch is a weird mash up of both of their styles. It would certainly be an adventure to write something with Burroughs!

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

Again on the subject of film, there is a non-fiction book that I’ve planned out and hope to get the time to work on soon. It’s a broad study of weird and countercultural film, concentrating on the 1960s and ’70s to a large extent but also going back into the distant past and the silent era to explore transgressive filmmaking there, and closer to the present, showing how these same tendencies have influenced science fiction and fantasy films – especially the cyberpunk sub-genre, in which writers such as Philip K. Dick played a large role. I’m also working on another novel that is more literary than genre-related, but continues with similar ideas that occur in Literary Stalker, such as nested narratives – novels within novels. All I need is more time, because so much other stuff gets in the way!

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I’ve never written police procedural fiction, but I enjoy reading it a lot, and I also find it educational when it comes to working out noir/psychological plots in general. I’m a huge addict of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series of novels (and TV shows), and the latest – Two Kinds of Truth – is due out very soon, so that’s exciting. There’s also the new Stephen King, Sleeping Beauties, which is just out but I have yet to read. It sound intriguing, and it’s also a collaboration with one of his sons. His more famous son, Joe Hill, also has a new book out in November – Strange Weather – which again looks a bit different and enticing: a collection of four short novels. I met Joe at a convention in 2006 when he was largely unknown (alluded to in Literary Stalker) and I bought his first collection of short stories, which was extraordinary, so superior to the run-of-the-mill output; and the community of horror insiders all knew then he was going to become massive, like his dad. Which shows, amongst other things, that talent is in the genes!

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just to say thank you very much for the support and the opportunity to ramble on a bit about myself and my interests. And good luck with your excellent blog!

Thanks for taking the time Roger. You can find out more about Roger and his work HERE.

Dead Lands Review: A Great 1970s Police Procedural

dead lands

Following on from my exploration of truly great historical crime fiction novels, I review a novel which evokes a restless time in the UK’s history. Historically the novel is set during a period of unrest and distrust in the police, making this an ideal space in which to showcase the story of two police detectives with potentially ulterior motives and a tough case to crack.

As part of his blog tour, I’ve had the privilege of reading Lloyd Otis’s Dead Lands, which is set in the 1970s and creates an exceptional setting. London at the tale end of the 70s is portrayed as a bleak space in which tough, varied characters flourish. Witty dialogue and well-crafted description characterise this novel, and the story is both fast-paced and intriguing. The politically volatile world of the 70s acts as an ideal space for an adventurous book, packed with violence, intrigue and unrest.

Detectives DI Breck and DS Kerns slog through a gruelling case following the murder of a highflying Finance Director whose body is discovered in a gruesome state. A suspect is quickly identified and arrested, however a daring escape is followed by a questioning of everything the detectives thought they knew. Kerns develops her own personal agenda, which threatens to derail the already rocky and complicated investigation, offering plenty for the reader to delve into as they navigate a vast list of suspects and a tense political background.

It is this complexity that provides a great space for an exhilarating thriller with enough twists to keep the reader hooked from page one. The victim and suspects all lead complicated lives that derail the detectives’ quest for answers, whilst personal problems colour their view and ramp up the tension.

The sole criticism I have for this otherwise thrilling and exhilarating novel is that the chapters are simply too short. As a result of reading chapters that are sometimes as short as two pages, the reading experience is disrupted regularly, and as such the novel often feels stilted and distorted. Slowing down such an intense, complicated novel with short chapters and a narrative that often jumps from place to place like a grasshopper on speed is a real tragedy, but despite this there is a lot to go on with this exceptional cross between a thriller and a police procedural.

This creative combination makes for an enjoyable and gripping read, and although the short paragraphs break up the narrative there is great potential in experienced blogger and journalist Otis’s debut novel, which is definitely worth checking out.

Suzy Davis Interview: “I think of my books as different sides of my personality”

Suzy Davis

I’ve got something new for you this week: romance and children’s author Suzy Davis talks to me about her work and how she creates her innovative concepts.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards being an author?

I define my writing style from what readers tell me. Most people describe it as lyrical. I have always had a strong interest in writing, which is a continuous thread in my life. Writing gives me a great deal of pleasure. To be able to write full time is a lifelong dream and passion fulfilled.

Please tell me more about your background and how you came to be a full time writer.

I come from a dual nationality family, and was exposed to different cultures and languages right from an early age. My early childhood was filled with a richness of experiences. My parents knew that these experiences were more important than material things.

I remember that we spent a lot of time among nature, and by the sea. To this day, I am at my happiest walking along a beach, by a lake or river, or through a wood, communing with nature. Nature is a great teacher, and shows what is important in life. It connects us to our home – The Earth.

My parents were both artists and potters. When I tried to paint I had a reasonable sense of color, but could not draw that well. I started writing things at the age of six. It became a habit, and my hobby became a vocation later on in life.

Talk me through your books. Why do you believe they have become so popular?

I think of my books as different sides of my personality. Johari’s Window has the feel of night about it – it’s very dark in places. People have told me it is sophisticated, but I don’t see that myself. People seem to like the intrigue. It tells the story of a writer, and explores the different kinds of love and romance in life. It is set in England, The Czech Republic and South Korea.

Pablo Neruda’s poem, Every Day You Play, inspired the whole feel of the Korean chapters, and the imagery I used in my book. I am a big fan of the work of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. Their portrayal of artist/writer figures influenced this book.

Snugs The Snow Bear is an adventure tale for kids, with a green message about Climate Change. The characters are fun, and the scenes hark back to some of my childhood memories in seaside towns in England and Wales. The whole feel of the book is playful and light. I drew on elements of people I have known to create the characters, and the rest was my imagination. I have to say, I am very pleased with this book.

I think people love the main character, Snugs, who is a super cute hero. Of course, I was inspired by Michael Bond’s A Bear Called Paddington in particular! I was born in Reading, Berkshire, and Bond also had connections in the area, so I identified with his bear very early on.

Bond has mentioned that his idea of a “lost” bear was influenced by the wartime refugees he used to see at Paddington station. I have taught refugees, and agree that displacement does make people feel “lost” and yearn for “home.”

My book, Snugs The Snow Bear, although it has a happy ending, hints at the reality of “climate refugees” – and in fact Snugs is rescued when he drifts away from his home in Greenland on a fast-melting iceberg.

Briggs’ magical tale of The Snowman, an allegory for death, dying and loss, also paved the way for my message about Global Warming and the dying planet. I am optimistic that it is not too late to avert disaster, provided that we start children young, and teach them how to reduce our carbon footprint.

The magic of flight and the enchanting snow scenes in The Snowman inspired the chapter, “Two Moose, A Bear, And A Sled” in Snugs The Snow Bear, and the creation of the magical Two Moose, who take Snugs on a magical sled ride through the snow on The Isle of Wight during the winter festive season. Elisabeth Beresford’s The Wombles paved the way for a kids’ book with a conscience about the environment, too. She was a visionary!

I still adore Winnie The Pooh! The homespun philosophy of A.A.Milne has inspired me to craft characters that are emotionally intelligent and “feel” the world around them. The work of Milne, in particular, taught me how to craft the voices of my characters, and how to give my book a timeless quality.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

I am inspired by the everyday as well as experiences when I am on vacation. I draw on what I know. A lot of luck comes into it, too. If I hadn’t ever lived in South Korea, I would never have experienced the beauty of Cherry Blossom Season, so crucial to Johari’s Window.

I had a similar stroke of luck with Snugs The Snow Bear. Who would have thought that I would live a stone’s throw from a view across the ocean of “The Isle of Wight Polar Bear,” the iconic British landmark, which inspired Snugs’ story. The beautiful coastline in the Bournemouth area in Dorset is unforgettable, and even today (I now live in Florida,) I can see it all clearly in my mind’s eye. Of course, one needs to be resourceful. With a little bit of imagination, almost anything can inspire you and motivate you to write.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

The only collaboration I like is with editors, illustrators and publishers. I don’t want to co-write anything. The joy of writing is finding your own unique voice. For me, collaboration between novelists or children’s authors would interfere with both writers’ artistic integrity.

If someone wanted to write a song or screenplay, create an animation of my stories or write a musical in collaboration with me, that might be different. Different areas of expertise complement one another and add to the end result.

For instance, I am a huge fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats musical, which drew on the poems of T.S Eliot. Sheila Graber animated the original Paddington Bear by Michael Bond, and animated Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, and I admire her work a great deal.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I may have a few things in the pipeline, but if I talk about them now it’ll spoil the surprise!

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I’m always looking out for new writers. There are so many. Too many to mention here. I like to review new writers’ books. This generation of readers will be the next generation of writers. I hope there will be a lot of good writers.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I’d like to thank you for this opportunity, and thank all my readers for their support.

Thanks Suzy for the interview, it’s great to hear your thoughts.

The Top Five Best Historical Crime Fiction Novels to Get You Reminiscing

The Yard

History has never been my strong point; regardless, I have always enjoyed reading about the past, especially in fiction, where the narrative is able to place a strong perspective on the way that characters react to their surroundings, rather than those surroundings themselves. As such, I have decided to choose my top five favourite Crime Fiction novels set in the past.

In this list ‘Historical Crime Fiction’ is defined as a novel written recently but set in the past. I love a bit of Golden Age Crime Fiction, but I’m not filling this list with Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh. The beauty of historical novels is the research that and skill that the writer employs to ensure that their book is accurate and engaging. There are some old favourites of this blog here, as well as some novels that I haven’t had time to mention yet, but that definitely deserve a place on any reading list.

5. The Yard: Alex Grecian’s historical thriller is set in Victorian London, charting the murder of a police detective not long after Scotland Yard’s failure to apprehend the infamous Jack the Ripper. Introducing the yard’s first forensic pathologist, the team, known as ‘The Murder Squad’ sets out to unravel this fiendish crime and, in the process, exposes the seedier side of their city.

4. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House: Based on a real life case, Kate Summerscale’s book is a combination of fact and fiction, seamlessly blending the real life facts of the case with a fictionalised narrative of how Whicher may have felt and behaved. The murder of a three year old boy at his father’s country estate was a scandal at the time, and the eventual culprit proves to be embroiled in a web of malice and angst, all of which is depicted beautifully by Summerscale in her enlightening, empathetic book.

3. The Silent Death: As my previous review testifies, I am a recent convert to Volker Kutscher and his tough, rebellious detective Gereon Rath, whose dubious connections and even worse love life lead him into conflict with his superiors as he battles against a fiendish killer. The beautifully depicted setting of 1930s Berlin provides the ideal landscape for a furious race against time as Rath and he teamwork to catch a murderer with a fixation for actresses. As he begins the grizzly task of removing the vocal cords of screen icons in order to keep the industry away from the advent of talkies, the reader is led on a fascinating journey through this atmospheric, historical city to a dramatic conclusion.

2. Dead Man’s Chest: I am, as my previous post attests, an ardent fan of Kerry Greenwood’s mesmerising and unconventional female detective, the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher. Set in the 1920s, Greenwood’s novels highlight the less published, seedier side of life, and whilst all of her books are excellent, Dead Man’s Chest offers a truly fascinating insight into the society of the time. The novel contains a number of subplots which provide a glimpse of various facets of life in the 20s, including parenting, servitude, and the upper classes.

front cover Merlin at War1. Merlin at War: As part of author Mark Ellis’s book tour, I recently reviewed this exceptional novel, and promptly went out and ordered the first two novels in the Frank Merlin series, Princes Gate and Stalin’s Gold. All three are equally well plotted, fast paced and exhilarating, however it is Merlin at War that is a true masterpiece. Skilfully executed, the novel is evocative and, whilst I am no historian, it is my understanding that it is accurate to its Second World War setting. Whether this is correct or not, Merlin at War remains an exceptional piece of fiction with strong characters, an intriguing plot and an finale that will blow your socks off.

Aydin Guner Interview: “I want the reader to connect with the characters on a deep level”


Author of The Devil in I, Aydin Guner, talks me through his background and how he came to create such an innovative and unique novel.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards thrillers?

I’d define my style as fast paced. A lot of people who have read The Devil In I have said they couldn’t put it down once they started reading. That was a planned intention. I’d say character development is a key trait too; I want the reader to connect with the characters on a deep level. After reading the book, a lot of people asked me if the characters were based on real people, have told me they know people just like Latasha, and have even accused me of being the Devil! It’s all good though, connecting with the characters is a key part of the reading experience.

What is your career background and how did you get into writing full time?

I’ve spent time in the banking sector in my professional career and have been writing since I was young. I used to write stories and do movie reviews. I had a very active imagination. I started writing my first book about 6 years ago, and it took 4 years to write. I was just so overwhelmed with the reception; it broke into the Amazon to 100 several times in the first few months. And yeah, I guess my life changed off the back of that.

Please tell me about The Devil in I. What do you think makes this book a gripping read?

I think what makes The Devil In I so gripping is it is written in the first person and the lead character is the Devil! I’m not sure if a book like that exists, it might do, but I haven’t seen it. You really get into the world of the Devil, how his mind works and how he perceives the world. He lives as a mid 20s Wall Street guy in New York and though he is the devil, he does have a vulnerable side.

He does some despicable things, but you read how he is suffering, almost bored of who he is. I think people will like this book because it’s fast paced, exciting, X-rated in places and, very unexpected! There’s twists and turns in this. As deceptive as the Devil is, this book will take you on that journey.

Are there any particular mediums or narrative troupes you like to use in your writing and why?

That’s a great question! I like to add as much description as possible and one thing I often focus on is the scent and smells of the people and the environment. For example, if the lead character meets a woman and is attracted to her, how does she smell? What is her perfume? Does she have a lot on? How does it make me feel? All of these questions I believe help absorb the reader into the story. Same with being in New York, what can you see, hear and smell on the subway? Crowds, beeping horns, splashing rain from the tyres, talking, sweat, aftershave, stomping feet: I like to really get involved with the senses.

What do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing?

I’ve always liked reading autobiographies. I like hearing things from the horse’s mouth. I like feeling like I’m in someone’s head and I try to understand their psyche.

One of my favourite books is American Psycho and that was written in the first person. As is my book The Devil In I. My second book, which will be out next year, will also be in the first person, so, I guess this is a style preference of mine.

The Devil In I

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Stephen King or Brett Easton Ellis. Either of those two would be a dream come true.

Have you got any exciting new plans or projects coming up that you’d like to share with me?

Yeah absolutely, along with fiction I like writing psychology books. I have an ebook called Behind The Mask: An Introduction into Covert Narcissism. My new psychology book is out on November 28th and is called 10 Steps To Heal From Narcissistic Abuse. Narcissistic Abuse is a relatively unknown form of abuse but its essentially emotional abuse. Narcissists, or people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, are bullies who attack you while hiding behind others; it’s a passive form of bullying that can literally ruin lives. It’s a fascinating subject and I’m confident a lot of people can identify with the topic. The book is perfect for beginners to the topic, or for those who are familiar with what narcissistic abuse is. You can pre-order the book on Amazon now at:

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to in the future?

I’ll be honest; I haven’t been too connected with the latest scene. I’ve been so busy writing my own books, and have recently completed a screenplay for The Devil In I, I haven’t had time to see who’s out there. There are a lot of great writers out there though, doing great things.

Anything you’d like to add?

I just want to say thank you for all of the support and if you want to connect with me please message me on twitter at . I’m always on there and read the messages. You can also link in with me on Facebook at Hope to hear from you. Thanks again for the support!

Many thanks to Aydin- it’s been a pleasure having you on The Dorset Book Detective.

Veteran Avenue Review: A Real Old-School Thriller in a Modern Setting

veteran avenue

Mark Pepper’s action packed thriller invokes an almost Raymond Chandler-esq, telling the tale of a former solider whose past clashes violently with his present as he travels to America for the funeral of a fellow veteran. Years earlier, as a child, he is befriended by a stranger in the Oregon wilderness and stolen away from his parents. After a bizarre hour spent in a log cabin, he is sent back with a picture of a young girl. It is this chilling event that returns to haunt this haunted veteran as he tries to untangle an incredibly complex web of malice, deceit and violence.

Protagonist John Frears is a drifter with a tough exterior and an interesting host of friends and acquaintances. The novel’s whole cast of characters are interesting and varied, with strong dialogue that makes this a really easy book to devour. The story is punchy and fast paced. Author Mark Pepper is also an actor alongside being a writer, and this shows in the novel; the plot is driven by dialogue, eliminating the issue of info dumping, which can often ruin thrillers.

The one thing that grates on me is the names; whilst the dialogue helps enhance the American setting and gives the novel an almost wild-western feel, the strange names, such as Roth, Dodge and Hawg, are too over the top, and give this otherwise fascinating and well crafted novel a comical, almost slapstick feel which does not suit it.

With its quick witted dialogue, engaging characters and well-driven narrative, Veteran Avenue is a great thriller that readers will struggle to put down. I found myself on the verge of reading it again once I’d finished, as I was so entranced by Pepper’s portrayal of John’s adventures.

Simon Maltman Interview: “Crime writing gives you something dramatic to hang whatever else you want to write about on to”


Crime Fiction author Simon Maltman gives me a fascinating overview of his work and what first attracted him to the darker side of writing. I even grilled him on why he makes book trailers (you all know what I think of them)! 

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and mystery writing?

I really never thought of writing anything else, because that’s what I really enjoy myself. It felt natural for me to try and write in that area. Crime writing gives you something dramatic to hang whatever else you want to write about on to.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

The majority of my writing in the past was mostly song writing. I started doing short stories about five years ago and then moved onto novels and novellas. I was a social care manager and am doing the writing on the side at the moment, while being a stay at home dad.

Why did you create a book trailer for your novella Bongo Fury? Do you believe that this medium is still relevant?

I try and do one for most of my books. I think that some potential readers might try you out if they get something they like from the trailer. It also means that I can combine my hobbies, with recording music for it.

How do you change your writing style when writing short stories? Do you find the reduced word limit freeing or inhibiting?

I haven’t written many short stories since writing novels and novellas. I used to find starting writing the longer form pieces as intimidating. I’d probably now find it hard to keep things minimal!

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

It’s really anything and anywhere that can bring you something. I like occasionally snatching something good in overhearing a conversation and then writing it down, knowing that I’ll use it later. One other thing that I repeatedly find inspiration in is both the beauty and history of Northern Ireland.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Wow- that’s a tough one! It’d probably have to be Raymond Chandler. That’s because I think he was the greatest crime writer, specifically because he had such an incredibly sharp and witty turn of phrase.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I’m pleased because I have two sequels coming out soon. My novella, Bongo Fury 2 is out this week and my publisher is editing the follow up to my first novel at the moment. While that’s going on, I’m currently working on a stand-alone novel.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I kind of missed Jo Nesbo when he first came out and I’m working through a lot of his stuff now and it’s just brilliant. I also really enjoyed Stuart Neville’s last book, written as ‘Haylen Beck.’ It’s a thoroughly entertaining thriller.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just thanks very much for having me! All the best.

Thanks Simon, it’s been great. Find out more about Simon’s work HERE.