The Blog Tour: A Few Words from Liam

January 29, 2013

Nowhere to Hide coverHi. My name’s Liam. You don’t know me.  Well, not unless you’ve read Trust No-One or Nowhere to Hide. Then you’ll know me a bit, though mainly from Marie’s point of view and I’m not sure how reliable that always is.  I don’t mean that she lies about me.  I’m just not sure that she knows me as well as she thinks she does, if you get my drift.

Anyway, my name’s Liam and I’m Marie Donovan’s boyfriend.  Or partner.  Or whatever the correct term is.  We live together, or at least we do when Marie’s not working at the other end of the country doing whatever it is that she does.  I mean, I know roughly what she does, working undercover.  But she’s not allowed to tell me all the details, obviously.  Which means that I don’t really know her, either. Or at least not as well as I once thought I did.

They’ve asked me to do an introduction to this series of interviews.  There’s been a blog tour, you see, and several very kind people have been hosting interviews with characters from Nowhere to Hide. Marie, and her boss, Hugh Salter.  And a couple of people she’s working with.  And her former both, Keith Welsby.  I quite liked Keith.  I mean, old-school, and you wouldn’t want to discuss politics with him, but he seemed quite straight.  Which is ironic, as things turned out.

The tour’s now finished so we thought we’d now post all the links here.  I’m not sure why they’ve asked me to write this introduction.  After all, I’m just Liam.  I know nothing that’s worth knowing.  I’m an artist, or at least that’s what I always wanted to me.  But, to be honest, I’m not sure that I ever really quite had the talent.  Not to make it big.  And now it’s too late.  I’m not well, and I’m not sure I’ll ever paint seriously again, even if Marie doesn’t quite realise it yet.

How did I get on to that?  I just meant to say a few bland words of introduction.  I’d better get on.  If I talk too much, I’ll probably end up saying things I regret.  About me.  Or about Marie.  Things I know that I probably shouldn’t.

So let’s just give you the links to the interviews.  First, with Marie.  (You’ll have to scroll down for that one).

She seems quite keen on that Brennan chap, doesn’t she? Not sure I fancy sharing a desert island with him.  What does he have to say for himself?

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Hm.  Not exactly lacking in ego, if you want my opinion.  Who else is Marie working with?  Lizzie Carter, whoever she might be.

Not sure I’m any the wiser about Ms Carter, though it sounds as if there might be more too her than meets the eye.  Now we have Marie’s boss, the delightful Hugh Salter.  I’ve only met him once, but that was enough.  Wouldn’t trust him any further than I could throw him, which is my condition is no distance at all.

Hah. Yes, that sounds like Salter, all right.  A calculating cold fish with no discernible sense of humour.  The polar opposite of his predecessor, poor old Keith Welsby. Well, I say poor.  He’s had enough back-handers at least to keep himself well-stocked with beer, from what Marie tells me.  But he’ll take us out on a high note.

So that’s them.  Five characters in search of an author to tell their stories.  Six, if you count me.  But you shouldn’t.  Because I’m not part of the story.  Nobody’s watching me.

Thanks again to Leigh Russell, Sally Quilford, womagwriter, Cally Taylor and Deborah Carr for hosting the interviews.  You can still buy both the Kindle editions of Trust No One and Nowhere to Hide for about the price of one of Keith Welsby’s pints.

Ending the Tour – the Thoughts of Chairman Welsby

January 24, 2013

Nowhere to Hide coverThe blog tour finally comes to an end in suitable fashion with the thoughts of Keith Welsby.  Welsby is down but not out, and still not short of an opinion or two. Hear his, um, provocative thoughts at Deborah Carr’s blog.  And, in due course, I’ll also post all the interviews on here.  For posterity.

Still touring the blogs…

January 18, 2013

The blog tour for Nowhere to Hide continues, conceived and organised by the marvellous Helen Hunt who manages to be both creative and efficient (I struggle with either).  The third instalment, an interview with the intriguing Lizzie Carter, is at the womagwriter blog.  The fourth, an interview with Hugh Salter – as modest as he is cuddly – is now at Cally Taylor’s blog.

And of course the first two interviews, with Marie Donovan and Jack Brennan, are still available at Leigh Russell’s blog and Sally Quilford’s blog.  The fifth and final interview, the Thoughts of Chairman Keith Welsby, will appear very shortly…

And don’t forget you can still get the Kindle editions of both the Marie Donovan books – Trust No One and Nowhere to Hide – for a ridiculously small price.  Why would you hesitate?

 

Touring the Blogs

January 7, 2013

Many thanks to the wonderful Helen Hunt for organising a blog tour for me in support of Nowhere to Hide.  I’ll update you as they appear (though the full list is up on Helen’s blog) but the first post has been hosted courtesy of the generosity of Leigh Russell, author of the excellent Geraldine Steel books.  Sincere thanks, Leigh. Strikes me we should engineer a fictional meeting between Geraldine and Marie sometime…

Next post on Friday 11 January.  Keep watching the skies…

(While I’m here, I’ll also just point out that not only can you currently buy the Kindle edition of Nowhere to Hide for the absurdly bargain price of 99p, you can also currently buy the first Marie Donovan book, Trust No-One, for the almost equally ridiculous price of £1.49.  Which means you can buy both books for the price of a cheap sandwich. And think how quickly you’d eat that).

Nowhere to Hide

November 26, 2012

Just to remind you that Nowhere to Hide is now available from, as they say, all good bookshops.  You should also be able to find it, for a bargain price, alongside your grocery shop in Asda.  The Kindle version is flying moderately high in the charts, and you can also listen to the audio version, beautifully read by Mike Rodgers.

I’m more than a little excited to say that the book’s already had a terrific review on the Crimetime website from none other than the great Mark Timlin.  I was genuinely gobsmacked.  And also a very nice review in the Daily Mail, who described it as a ‘police procedural for a new age’.  Oh, and there’s also an interview with me on the Morgen Bailey blog, which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know and probably a lot more.

And, if that’s not enough, I’ve also been slightly disconcerted (as you may well be) to see my face plastered all over the current edition of Writers’ Forum magazine.  That’s bound to shift a few units.  And it certainly made the checkout man in Smith’s do a double-take when I bought a copy.

Nowhere to Hide

November 5, 2012

Wow.  Just received advance copies of Nowhere to Hide from those good people at Avon.  Looks terrific!  Out on 22 November, and the Kindle edition is currently available for pre-order for the frankly ridiculous price of 99p.  To kick off the relentless publicity campaign for the book (I may exaggerate slightly) I’ll be appearing at Ellesmere Port library on Friday 9 November at 1.30pm.  Come and join us.  You can get more details from the library on 0151 337 4684.

Nergui on Kindle – now available

May 15, 2012

Just a reminder that the Kindle editions of the three Nergui books are now available.  From here, here and here.

Nergui on Kindle

April 19, 2012

Ah, now, this is good news.  The Nergui series is shortly to be made available in Kindle editions from those good people at Quercus.  The Shadow Walker, The Adversary and The Outcast will all be published on 15 May.

Sequel Writes

March 30, 2012

Cough.  Dusty in here, isn’t it?  As if no-one’s been around for quite a while.  Well, I’ll stop apologising for the infrequency of the posts on here  – I’ve all kinds of excuses but you don’t want to hear those – and just get on with writing something.  And then try to do it more often.

I’m just in the middle of going through the line edits for Nowhere to Hide, the sequel to Trust No One (which by the way is still available in paperback and, at a remarkable bargain price, on Kindle), which is due out from those excellent people at Avon/HarperCollins in October.  Fortunately, the line edits look straightforward for the most part so I’m actually enjoying going back to a book that I’ve deliberately not looked at since I finished working on it a month or two back.  It’s been an interesting book to write because, unlike anything I’ve done before, it’s a genuine sequel rather than just the continuation of a series – and most of the current edits are concerned with getting that right.

When I started writing Nowhere to Hide, I wasn’t particularly conscious of doing anything different from the books I’d written before.  My three Mongolian books are a series with recurrent characters and, across the three books, a gradual narrative arc in which the protagonists and their situations develop.  Relationships are formed, roles slowly change, new characters appear and join the core team.  It’s the tried and trusted way of developing a crime series – exemplified at its best by series as diverse as Ed MacBain’s 87th Precinct series, Ian Rankin’s Rebus or the late great Reginald Hill’s Pascoe and Dalziel series.  The latter two writers have also written about the practical challenges of maintaining that kind of series – Rebus ages in real time, whereas Dalziel and Pascoe, as Hill acknowledged wittily in his introduction to the novella One Small Step, develop consistently but not always in step with the outside world.  For a writer (or, at least, for this writer), series writing is uniquely pleasurable, in that one can enjoy creating the pace of each standalone narrative while also taking a more leisurely perspective on character and situation development.  In the Mongolian books, for example, I very much enjoyed exploring the maturing relationship between Nergui and his former protege Doripalam, as the latter became more confident in his role and abilities and even began to take on a protege of his own…  I have a fourth Mongolian book plotted and part-written (and which I hope will see the light of day in due course) which takes this overarching story still further.

For the reader, this isn’t particularly problematic.  If you read the three Mongolian books in order, you’ll probably get slightly more out of the evolving back-story, but it’s unlikely to ruin your enjoyment (assuming you do enjoy them) if you read them out of order.  It’s relatively rare for crime authors to continue major plot threads across multiple books in a way that might be challenging for ‘disordered’ readers – though Jo Nesbo did it brilliantly across several Harry Hole books, leaving some readers mildly floundering when the books were translated out of order.

The relationship between Trust No One and Nowhere to Hide, though, is (for me) something a little different.  When I started to write Trust No One, I’d certainly envisaged it as part of a series, along broadly the same lines as the Mongolian books.  But as I gradually began to pull together the threads of the plot, it occurred to me that the core theme of the book – which, not entirely surprisingly, is the difficulty knowing who or what to trust – might lend itself to a more intriguing ending.  My aim was to tie up most of the major loose ends, but to leave one or two key ones still flapping in the air so that the reader was left with the some of the same uncertainties as the main character.  I hope (and think) that Trust No One  is satisfying as a standalone book, but it also prepares the ground for what happens in Nowhere to Hide.  The second book continues the story and, in due course, resolves most of those flapping loose ends, while inevitably also introducing some new ones which themselves may or may not be resolved…  Even more enjoyably, though, I was also able to use the second book to cast new light on the first – re-opening issues which had appeared resolved, giving a different perspective on some characters, revisiting issues which had been only casually referenced or left unexplained.

With this in mind, writing (and editing) the book has been an interesting challenge.  Clearly, the reader’s likely to get most from the books if they’re read in order.  But I also wanted to make sure that the second book would work, satisfyingly, as a standalone book.  I didn’t want a new reader to feel that he or she was simply coming in part-way through the story.  So I’ve tried to make sure that the back-story is provided unobtrusively, as it might be in any novel, providing the reader with the information he or she needs to follow the plot, but without labouring the detail.  But of course it’s difficult for me, because I know the overall story inside out, to judge quite what the new reader does or doesn’t need to know.  So I’ve been very grateful for my editors at Avon, led by the ever-wonderful Sammia Rafique, for providing a detached third-party perspective and helping me to identify where more (or less) information is needed.  I’m now in the process of filling in one or two of those remaining gaps.  It’s been fun to do, and I can only hope now that the book proves as enjoyable for others to read as it’s been for me to write.

So that was 2011 then…

December 28, 2011

It’s been a an odd old year for many reasons, personal and professional.  The professional highlight was, of course, the publication of ‘Trust No One’, my first book as my mysterious alter ago, Alex Walters, by those good people at Avon/HarperCollins.  It seems to have done pretty well to date, as far as I can judge, including a slightly heady couple of weeks as the best selling book in the iTunes store.  I finished the sequel just before Christmas.  Delivering a new manuscript is always a rather nerve-wracking process for me, as I’m usually still too close to the book to judge it with any real objectivity.  This time, I was more nervous than usual as I’d tried, with perhaps more ambition than good sense, to write a genuine sequel rather than simply another book in a series.  In other words, while I hope that ‘Trust No One’ is entirely readable on its own, the new book not only continues the story but also casts some new light (or perhaps shadows) on characters and events in the previous book. It was fun to write, but I didn’t feel able to judge properly whether I’d pulled it off, so I was relieved when my editor, the terrific Sammia Rafique, called to say she was delighted with it.  The sequel’s likely to be called ‘Nowhere to Hide’ and is due out in October next year, and I hope it’s as enjoyable to read as it was to write.

At a personal level, it’s been a more uneven year.  Just over a year ago, for reasons that will be evident to anyone who’s read the interview tucked away in the back of ‘Trust No One’, my life changed dramatically (having already been changing fairly quickly for the last couple of years for related reasons).  It’s now slightly back on an even keel, but this year has been one of stepping into what feels like unknown territory.  At the same time, I’ve probably been out more in the last 12 months than for a good few years, in the company of both my sons and some good friends.  There were some memorable evenings of music – the Decemberists at the Manchester Academy and Half Man Half Biscuit at the Ritz, for example.  But the best two evenings were both in London.  The most remarkable was the Nic Jones tribute concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, featuring a short but stunning set from Nic himself, very ably supported by his son Joe.  That was Nic’s first solo performance for around 30 years, and I’m delighted to see that he and Joe are now playing at next year’s Warwick and Towersey Folk Festivals.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he and Joe might consider making some recordings as well.

The other very different remarkable evening was the one off performance by Jerry Seinfeld at the O2.  I went partly because No 2 son is a massive ‘Seinfeld’ fan, and partly because I thought it might be my one chance to see arguably the greatest stand-up comedian of his generation (more of that in a minute).  Observational comedy has become a rather tiresome genre these days, but Seinfeld was not only the best live comedy craftsman I’ve seen (with the possible exception of the worlds-apart Frankie Howerd, many years ago) he was also consistently interesting and thought-provoking.  A terrific evening.

My reading experiences have been rather more muted this year, maybe because I’ve spent so much of it writing (I tend to prefer not to read too much crime fiction while I’m trying to write it).  The books that have stuck in my head are a fairly diverse bunch – Greil Marcus’s astonishing collection of writings on Bob Dylan, Michelle Paver’s atmospheric ghost story ‘Dark Matter’, Ted Lewis’s 1970s Northern noir, ‘Jacks’ Return Home’, Allan Brown’s exhaustive and often hilarious account of the making of the film, ‘The Wicker Man’, and – currently – a re-discovering after many years of  Robert Aickman’s short stories.

The new year promises – well, work on the edits of the new book, thoughts about a next book (including possibly getting back to the unfinished Nergui book that’s been languishing while Alex Walters possessed me), and a whole series of interesting domestic and logistical challenges.  Shouldn’t be boring, anyway.  Hope it’s good for the rest of you.


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