Larry Yoke Interview: “Most of what I write comes directly from the land of my imagination”

DSCN0391 (2)

The Dorset Book Detective, through sheer laziness, has always been a proponent of creating ‘socially distanced’ interviews. I email the questions over and receive the answers back.

Now, this technique is en vogue, but I want everyone to know that I pioneered it!

To show you how well it works, I’ve got another great interview for you here today, this time from Poet and Author Larry Yoke, who answers my questions with his own unique brand of panache.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style.

Not sure of my style as yet, perhaps I never will actually succumb to a certain one. I like to vary my writing genres and methods. When we think we’ve done it all, we’re DONE! I do read other authors better than me to glean from the best out there so I keep learning, growing, honing my skills, and S T R E T C H I N G as a writer. This process has no “ending”.

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

I started writing poetry by writing a poem for a little lady when I was nine. I felt it, wrote it and she loved it! I still use that “feeling” measuring device today in my poetry, short stories and multi genre books. If I feel the story is good, real, enjoyable and interesting, I sit down to write it out. I am a creature with emotional passion and use it to my advantage. The poetry lent well to writing lyrics put to music, and then came along short stories I shared with family and friends, then put some of those stories into a sequential series and out came my first book Second Chances.

Where do you take your inspiration? Are there any rituals you do to get yourself in the mood for writing?

I take any inspiration directly to my keyboard. I jot down ideas, paragraphs and once in a blue moon I’ll attempt to create an outline. Most of what I write comes directly from the land of my imagination. I may find something of interest in the news or a story I heard at a party and my imagination takes over. I simply cannot help myself and MUST write it down or it’ll haunt me until I do release it onto the page!

What style of writing do you enjoy yourself? Are there any particular writers you admire?

I love historical fiction. The genre gives detail of historical facts, people places and a certain time, but still has a touch of artistic freedom to enhance the story line or characters.

My favourite authors in this genre are Hemmingway and Wilbur Smith. Hemmingway taught us so much about writing drama, mood setting, and creating deep character studies. Wilbur Smith is a master at storytelling mixing actual accounts and people with fictional attributes. He is a worldwide award-winning author who is widely read and extremely successful.

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

I think that collaborating with Shakespeare would be the ideal writer to join our writing techniques. He intermixed drama with humour to create his fabulous characters and audacious storyline’s that inform and entertain while making us all laugh.

Have you got any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I have two projects coming up I’m really excited about. The first one is a book of poetry titled Word Paintings showcasing half of my original works and half belonging to Charlotte Louise Nystrom. She’s quite the poetess and I am honoured to be collaborating with her. Out later in 2020.

The second project is a crime drama titled Insentient featuring my favourite female detective Gloria Ramos. One very unusual thing about this book will be its cover. The cover is an exact copy of a famous painting from International Abstract artist Sheeba Khan that’s hanging in the National Museum of Art in South Korean. We’re friends and she lent it to me to use. In fact her husband is the one who designed and put the cover together.

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

I have several books on my TBR list—so much to read, so little time! I’ve started on my first novella titled Music Across the Waters. I had a short story, same title, picked up and featured by a magazine called Me First Magazine who publish only stories told in the first person point of view and decided to expand it to a dramatic characterization and suspenseful novella.

Anything you’d like to add?

I often coach new writers since I’ve been around the block and have unfortunately, learned the hard way. This is my favourite bit of advice: Writing and editing can be a daunting task. Patience is everything when writing. If you love what you do, the time and effort are secondary. Keep writing! Love the race to the finish line then celebrate the victory! You’ve accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime!

Thanks for answering my questions, it’s been great hearing from you! You can find out more about Larry here.

 

 

 

Miss Fisher And The Crypt Of Tears Review: Fans Will Love It, But If You’re New Then Don’t Let This Be Your Introduction

miss fisher movie

Regular blog readers will know that I’m a big fan of Kerry Greenwood’s amazing Miss Fisher novels, centred around the exploits of the eccentric, affluent lady detective.

The TV series has garnered significant acclaim, and with good reason. It’s a masterpiece of writing, directing, acting and production. Although it bears little similarity to the book series on which it is based, it is still every bit as enjoyable. It also showcases an unusual female protagonist, who is a woman of independent means and an older age than is normally showcased in the media, but who proves herself to be every bit as energetic and fantastic as her younger counterparts.

The film is an extension of this, which was partially crowd funded by eager fans and came out earlier this year. Alone, the film is a triumph, and showcases the beauty and majesty of the roaring 1920s. The costumes, settings, acting and dialogue are all particularly praiseworthy, with Essie Davies doing a great job as the sartorially perfect titular character.

In comparison to the series, however, it falls significantly flat. There’s no time in the movies runtime, which at an hour and forty odd minutes, is short by comparison to most films nowadays, doesn’t allow for enough time to develop new characters or introduce viewers to the new circumstances of the existing cast members.

There’s also a notable absence of many of the favourite characters from the series, some of whom are only involved briefly at the beginning, which means that we’re hastily introduced to a new cast of characters. As the series relies on a formula, which works impeccably well, the absence of these characters makes it feel a little rushed.

The plot feels especially hastily put together, in comparison to all the splendour of the costumes and the wry wit of dialogue. It begins with the exhilarating rescue of a young woman from a prison in Palestine, which, seemingly kills the lady detective.

As expected, she isn’t dead, and reappears with a flourish in the early scenes of the movie. She and her inspector friend Jack Robinson, who had come to England to attend her memorial alongside the now free prisoner and the Uncle who involved Phryne Fisher in the first place, are quickly thrust into an adventure involving ancient curses, huge gemstones and wars in the Middle East.

The thrills come thick and fast, with Miss Fisher darting about, jumping from trains and throwing herself from rooftops at an alarming rate from the very beginning. Those gripping scenes are enjoyable and bold, but what happens in between isn’t as thrilling as you’d want it to be.

With many nods to the series, this film is great for fans, but newcomers who’ve never heard of Miss Fisher will struggle to understand the hype, as the limited time frame allows for limited development of either existing or new characters. The jokes and character banter have been long established in the series, so you’ll really love some of them if you’re a big fan like me (I laughed out loud at many). This doesn’t make for a great film, however, meaning that many viewers will struggle to get what’s going on. In terms of cinematic prowess, the movie puts costumes and settings ahead of bold camera shots and crisp editing, meaning at times it can look a little amateurish. If you’re a fan, or a big lover of period costumes, then you won’t notice, but if you’re searching for searing cinematic shooting then this isn’t your film.

miss fisher and the crypt of tears

As a standalone crime movie, Miss Fisher And The Crypt Of Tears is interesting, but not particularly well rounded. The plot basically revolves around stopping a curse and finding out who stole cherished jewels from a temple many years ago; unlike most of the series and books, there’s really not masses more to it than that. Usually there are twists and turns all the time, but in the film it’s just a straight line towards the finish point, peppered with a few red herrings and unconvincing threats that don’t really lead anywhere.

Bolstered ancient tombs and the British army’s war in Palestine, as well as a railway deal gone south, the plot meanders around the world with a final twist involving a character we’ve barely seen, and whose involvement is, frankly, preposterous. The result is incredulity from watchers and, honestly, a lack of interest in the overall outcome.

Once the perpetrators have been revelled and the full extend of the banality is out in the open, I was bored and sad that the movie hadn’t turned out to be the masterpiece that I’ve been waiting for. I still love it, particularly as it continues to showcase masterful acting from Davis and Nathan Page, who plays Jack Robinson, but it didn’t turn out as great on its own as I would’ve liked.

So, in ending my second ever film review, I just have to say that I again have a similar opinion of this as I did Kenneth Branagh’s version of Murder On The Orient Express: while this looks like Miss Fisher, it most certainly isn’t the same. Turning a series as great as this into a film changes it fundamentally, and in many cases not for the better.

While this film is an intriguing concept and interesting story, which has been exquisitely executed, I’d like to see the series return again, rather than a feature length sequel. Miss Fisher And The Crypt Of Tears isn’t a fitting end to the Miss Fisher franchise, so I sincerely hope there’s more. Thankfully, the cliff-hanger at the end of the film suggests that there will be; with any luck we’ll get a forth series, not another film.

Entertain Your Kids During Lockdown By Giving Them Books To Read

iana-dmytrenko-XUX2s1wsFmU-unsplash

It’s official: the British public are bellends, and we’re now not allowed to go outside because we can’t be trusted not to congregate and generally behave like twats.

Because of just a small handful of idiots, everyone in the country has to stay indoors. For some, this might seem like a blissful chance to catch up on some rest, and your favourite TV show.

Not for parents. If you’ve got kids under 18 in your house, then chances are you’re stuck trying to teach them shit you’d long forgotten and keep them from driving you mental. For those with younger kids, it’s even worse, because they can’t be left alone and need constant stimulation.

One great way to combine educating them and getting them to stop harassing you for snacks and attention is to give them a book to read. Find a book on a topic they enjoy and it’ll shut them up for hours.

Even the most adventurous of children can be placated with an engaging story. You might have to read it to little ones, but it’ll keep them still and stop them yelling for a bit, which is always a bonus!

When I first started reading, I was obsessed with the Alex Cross stories, and, of course, Harry Potter.

Those books would keep me quite for days, so much so that my parents used to take them away and order me outside because they thought I was sad. Now I’d give anything to be ordered outdoors, but there you fucking go.

The point I’m trying to make is that books are both education and fun for kids, making them a great alternative to plonking them in front of the TV or driving yourself crackers trying to think up engaging activities to entertain them with over the coming weeks.

There’s evidence that kids who are read to at a young age and introduced to books have a significantly higher vocabulary than children who aren’t read to. This increased vocabulary can give your child many advantages in their future education, and you’ve never had an opportunity like this before, nor are you likely to again, to get them into reading.

Reading is also great for boosting imagination and introducing your kid to new ideas, meaning there’s literally no downside. Books are also easy to come by, since so many online retailers sell them and you’ve usually got a stack at home already that they’ve always been too busy to read.

Now’s the perfect time to push them away from the snack cupboard and into the waiting arms of a good book. You won’t regret it.

Fuck Loo Roll: 5 Reasons You Should Be Panic Buying Books

markus-spiske-wL7pwimB78Q-unsplash

In a world where everyone and his dog thinks they’re a hard man on Twitter and goes around being abusive to celebrities, a real-life situation has occurred.

As predicted, the trolls have turned out not to be the hard men they claimed to be, and have scarpered back to their caves with half the world’s bog roll and dried pasta.

While everyone else is out there fighting for the last pack of Charmin, I’m over here buying as many books as possible. Here are 5 reasons why you should be too.

5. Local Bookstores Need Your Support Now More Than Ever: Many small business owners face an uncertain future, as do charities providing vital aid in this scary time. That’s why you should be buying more from small, independent retailers and charity shops. One item sold both by a lot of independent retailers and charity shops alike, is books. So, next time you grab three books to add to your huge pile of ones to be read, remember; you’re supporting your local community.

4. You Deserve A Distraction: It’s getting harder and harder to ignore how dire a state the world is in, and how disgusting human beings can be in times such as these. That’s why you need books to cheer yourself up and give you a welcome distraction. You can take yourself off to another world, or another time, from the comfort of your own home.

3. Books Are Great For People Who Are Stuck At Home: As anyone who’s ever had to recover from a major injury will know, being stuck in your own house quickly goes from a welcome change to a pain in the arse. For those who are self-isolating, have Corona Virus or have been ordered to work from home, books can relieve the boredom and be a fun way to make yourself feel like you’re somewhere else, even when you’re not.

2. You Can Spend All The Money You Were Going To Take On Holiday: With travel bans kicking into effect and airline bosses threatening to take their million pound bonuses and fuck off if they don’t get a bailout, it’s likely that you won’t be having a summer holiday this year. Take the money you would spending on your dream trip and spend it on books. You won’t need to feel guilty about wasting money on even more books, because they’re much cheaper than a trip abroad!

1. Who The Fuck Knows When This Will Be Over?: In such uncertain times, it’s unclear when this will all be over and life will return to even a semblance of the way it was before. With that in mind, you should be preparing for the worst by buying as many books as you can bloody well carry. They’ll see you through the dark times and help you to have a little fun during this crazy situation.

Public safety notice: please don’t wipe your arse with the books you’ve stockpiled. Not only is it unsanitary, but disrespectful too. And if I hear that you’ve been doing it, I’ll come round and be very cross at you!

The Treadstone Resurrection Review: An Enticing Addition To The Jason Bourne Series

Hood_Treadstone Resurrection (1)

As part of the blog tour for this latest action novel, today I’m reviewing The Treadstone Resurrection.

The latest in the Jason Bourne universe is a heart-stopping, thrill-packed ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

It’s obvious from the very first sentence that author Joshua Hood has extensive experience in the military. He understands guns, fights, military weaponry, codes, the CIA and more.

This experience and knowledge is what really sets this book apart from other military thrillers you’ll see in bookshops throughout the summer. They’re a quick read staple, something you can enjoy without having to put much effort in.

The Treadstone Resurrection introduces a new character: Adam Hayes, a witty, battered and bruised former asset turned carpenter who’s trying to turn his life around when his past comes back to kill him.

After he receives a mysterious email from an old friend containing encrypted photos, Hayes is rapidly drawn into a sinister international plot.

He quickly has to leave his new life as a contractor and abandon his plans to visit his family to face his enemies and battle against some of the world’s best military agencies.

With his friend dead, Hayes has to rely on his wits, ingenuity and waning international contacts to fight back and get justice. His journey takes him across the USA and into the wilds of South America, where he battles against deadly foes with far better equipment, teams and plans than he has.

The novel is gripping from start to finish, and Hood has expertly created an engaging replacement for Jason Bourne in the form of Adam Hayes. He’s a smart, wisecracking hard man with the potential to go far.

The only thing I have a serious problem with is the depiction of women in this novel. Hood’s female characters are just pouting, opening extra buttons on their blouses in response to hot guys, or sobbing at the first sign of trouble. Either way, it’s clear that the author hasn’t actually met that many real women. His female characters are a male fantasy, and in today’s action genre, where women read just as many novels as men, this simply isn’t acceptable.

Despite this, I actually enjoyed reading The Treadstone Resurrection. It’s a gripping thriller that might be a little formulaic at times, but for the most part delivers the kind of gritty, deep drama readers of the Jason Bourne series are looking for. The novel sets itself up for a sequel, which I’m looking forward to; I only hope that this time they’ll be more realistic female characters in it.

How To Find A Book You’ll Love To Read

ving-n-c1W-b2g-Yy8-unsplash

Buying books can be a minefield, particularly if you’re buying new books. They’re expensive; even if you’re using those lovely gift vouchers your clueless relative gave you as a gift for Christmas.

With that in mind, you need to learn how to choose a book that you’ll love, even before you’ve read it. Read on to learn some tricks to help you find a book you’ll love, every time you go bookshop browsing.

Think About The Books You Love

Consider the books you already love and the qualities they have. They might be in a certain genre, or style, so try to find other books that are similar. This will boost your chances of finding a new book, or series, that you love.

Use Bookseller Recommendations

Wherever you’re buying your books, your seller is bound to have some suggestions to help you find another book you’ll enjoy. Online sellers like Amazon offer suggestions based on your browsing and buying history. Even physical sellers usually have suggestions cards, so you can find some recommended reading to follow after you’ve finished your favourite book.

Ask Your Friends And Fellow Fans

Fellow fans of your favourite series and friends who know about your love for a specific author, will be able to give you advice on the next books to read. They’ll have been through the same dilemma themselves, so they can give you great recommendations you’ll enjoy.

Read The Blurb

It might sound obvious, but you should read the blurb of every book you’re planning on buying. So many people neglect to properly read the blurb, but it gives an accurate description of the book, meaning you can make an informed decision on whether it’s right for you or not. You should also read the quotes that are written on the jacket, but don’t take these too seriously, as they only pick the positive quotes for the outside of the book.

5 Crime Fiction Series I Think Are Overrated And What You Should Read Instead

lacie-slezak-gHwOUe9OLwE-unsplash

As a crime fiction blogger, I read a lot of books. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. I’m always reading something and getting into a new series from an author I’ve never heard of or haven’t read before.

Many of these books I love, but some I just like, and many I feel are completely overrated. Here’s a list of five sets of crime fiction books that aren’t worth your time. Check out my reviews to see some crime fiction novels that are good, so you can find something fun to read!

5. The Logan McRae Series: Don’t get me wrong; I love Stuart MacBride. Some of his books are amazing, but the Logan McRae series has gone on far too long. It’s simply no longer any fun. The initial novels were intriguing and gripping, but the later ones are simply formulaic and boring. The character is now just a caricature that runs around after increasingly deranged killers without a single psychological scratch. He’s fine despite everything he’s seen and been through, which is, frankly, insane.

4. The Cormoran Strike Books: J.K. Rowling did a very good job with the Harry Potter books, but her detective novels, written under an assumed name, are frankly dire. Rowling tells you one thing, and then shows you another, making the narrative hard to follow and the characters flimsy. The plots show some promise, but many of the books are too long and filled with absurdities to actually be enjoyable. Most people are only reading them because of their love for Harry Potter; if you’re not a fan, there’s no point.

3. The Extended Millennium Series: Stieg Larsson’s original trilogy was a masterpiece, but the later books aren’t worth bothering with. They’re too convoluted and they don’t have the cultural impact that the first three novels did. So, don’t get me wrong, the first three books are great, but in my humble opinion the later books aren’t interesting. New writers are just trying to capitalise on the hype that Larsson’s trilogy earned.

2. The Cadfael Chronicles: The TV series of these books was boring, and the books are downright dull. You could use them as a sleep aid if you’re struggling with insomnia. The books centre on a Benedictine monk who solves crimes in a very sedate way. He very rarely does anything at any form of pace, meaning that the novels drag on much longer than they should.

1. The Agatha Raisin Novels: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Agatha Raisin is wonderful on TV but vile in the books. She’s a sassy, sophisticated woman on the screen, but in the books she’s an oversexed, unprofessional fool who blunders her way through investigations and ends up stumbling over the truth entirely by accident. The book series isn’t worth reading; just watch the show.

This list is just my humble opinion on some of the crime fiction series that I think are overrated. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line on social media.