Without Rules by Andrew Field #Guestpost #Blogtour

Synopsis

When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired. A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning. China knows she’s next to die. Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else. She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.

 

I’d like to thank Damp Pebbles and Andrew Field for inviting me onto this blog tour.

I’m thrilled to welcome Andrew to my blog today with a great guestpost

Whats in a name on a book cover? 

 

One of the key decisions I faced when Without Rules was being prepared for publication this Autumn was whether to use my real name or make one up. 

There were two reasons for me to consider using an alias. 

The first was because my real name is also how I trade in the business world as a PR, marketing and communications consultant. Existing clients are happy with my work and wont worry too much about me writing crime novels, unless they mistakenly see themselves somewhere in personality traits of one of the characters (they wont). New clients might be a different matter. Fact and fiction can have a habit of becoming very blurred. Do I really think like ALL the characters in Without Rules (nope, they are real but imagined)? 

The second was because my real name didnt have the crime fiction stamp of authenticity of an Ed McBain, an Evan Hunter, an Alex Marwood, a Lee Child or a John le Carré.  Their names sounded gritty, uncompromising, full of hard-boiled noir promise. 

Except, of course, they are all crime fiction pseudonyms.

Flick through Barry Forshaws brilliant Rough Guide to Crime Fiction and you will discover that former teacher Salvatore Lombino traded as Ed McBain and Evan Hunter; John le Carré was really called David John Moore Cornwell and Lee Child was plain Jim Grant (actually a better name) from Coventry, best known for the Jack Reacher movie/book franchise. 

Surf onto Serena Mackesys website and she explains the reasons for her name change to Alex Marwood. I changed my writing name for a number of reasons, but mostly because, given that I had been killing people with greater and greater frequency since Virtue, my packaging and reputation as an author of romantic comedies was becoming increasingly misleading. I have no brief against romantic comedy  some of the writers I love and admire most write them  but I wanted to write crime novels. I’ve been Alex since 2012, when my/her first book, The Wicked Girls, hit the market and, joy of joys, also hit the bestseller lists.

J.K Rowling is not only one of the worlds richest authors but she has a wonderful sense of irony to go with her social conscience  “J.K.” is a pen name because Joanne doesn’t have a middle name.Robert Galbraith is her crime fiction name but clearly wasnt chosen randomly.  According to writer Charlotte Ahlin, writing for Bustle, “Robert means “bright fame,” and Galbraith is from a Gaelic word for “British foreigner” or “stranger.” So Robert Galbraith loosely translates to famous stranger. Get it?!

As you can see, I would be in good company if I decided I wanted to use a different name as my crime fiction brand. And after a long and successful career in PR and marketing, I could see the strategic value behind switching to a killer name that packed a more powerful punch than Andrew Field.

The challenge would be to find a name I liked sufficiently, without it being too crass or contrived. My second and third  names jumped out at me for a moment or two: Julian Charles was great for a literary writer such as Stanley Martin Liebe, who found fame and fortune as comic books writer Stan Lee (and stuck with his alias)  but were a bit too middle class for the crime genre. 

Constructing an alternative would be like naming any product: writing down as many names as possible and then eliminating them one by one until you get a short list for feedback. If you had the time and inclination you could play with the typography  see how each name looked on dummy book covers (Madcap music producer Guy Stevens picked the name Mott The Hoople because of way it looked on record sleeves and posters  my first introduction to the band was because name was so weird and wonderful). 

Once you picked the name, you would have to make sure nobody else was using it. I liked the idea of a surname such as Stone – but Stone is already popular and well road tested used. Vic Rhodes was another choice – named after an Aussie I met I Valencia on one of the funniest nights of my life.  

My partner Catherine has pointed out that there is a gender imbalance with the crime authors I like. Male, American, now mostly dead unfortunately: Jim Thompson, James M Cain, Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. 

She suggested I should go for a female brand, an alliterative name mirroring Ruth Rendell. She said she could see me as a Barbara Budd, Kelly Knight, Magenta Moon or a Rita Rock (who is a currently a character in my next book, provisionally titled Truth Hurts). 

Picking the name wasnt really the issue  because brand names only ever succeed when familiarly translates into affection and long term loyalty. And that process normally involves a big marketing spend in cash and time terms.

However, the biggest problem with changing from my moniker was simple: I am proud of Without Rules and didnt see any reason not to want to use my real name. 

Yes, it contains sex, violence and adult themes but they are there for a reason as the people who get the book will fully understand. Nothing is gratuitous and written for shock jock value. 

Yes, there are multiple points of view, but thats how I want to show the story. You see what is happening exclusively through the point of view of each character as the action unfolds  rather than having an omnipresent narrator telling you what youre seeing and why. The writing reflects their own individual voices. Extreme violence and quipping like Groucho Marx are rarely complementary skill sets!!  

If people dont understand Without Rules, that is fine with me. After all, we disagree on lots of things from politics and global warming to football and tennis to pop and movies. Why should books be any different. If we all agreed on everything life would be very dull – and wed have nothing to discuss down the pub or in a restaurant. Now, that would be a true crime. 

  

 All About Andrew

Andrew Field has spent most of his working life as a PR and marketing consultant helping raise the profiles of others. Now the roles are reversed as he steps into the spotlight as the author of Without Rules, a crime thriller about vulnerable people forced to do bad things to escape evil people. “Authors, by the nature of what they do, are relatively introverted. They work in isolation. Inhabit imaginary worlds of their own creation. They can spend ages staring at a computer screen bringing their characters to life. Then they have to become a different person to promote their work and market themselves. Writing is the easy part compared to the marketing, especially when crime fiction has become a very crowded marketplace.”

“From my point of view, professional PR people operate best from behind the scenes. They should never become the story otherwise you’re deflecting attention away from the messages you’re trying to communicate,” says Andrew. “The New Labour experiment, for example, was doomed the minute Tony Blair’s media guru Alistair Campbell generated his own headlines. Bragged about ‘spin’.  Believed his own hype. Ditto Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as the shortest-serving White House communications director in history – and his “off the record” expletive-ridden rant about his colleagues in Donald Trump’s White House.”

As a PR, Andrew memorably handled Boddingtons Bitter during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday, developing innovative sports and cultural media partnerships with newspapers and TV stations for the beer brand – but also PR’da fashion entrepreneur who was a convicted armed bank robber and a property developer who did eighteen months prison time for blackmail. “Having a diverse range of clients keeps it interesting. They are all different but the core requirement is to be seen as a believable and trusted information source ready to take advantage of PR opportunities as and when they arise. As a novelist, you look to do exactly the same with your work and yourself.”

“The catalyst for Without Rules was a friend testifying against her father in an abuse case. Although the prosecution was successful, she can never really escape the consequences of what happened to her. She has to find a way of coping for the rest of her life while he was sentenced to two and half years.” 

Andrew says crime fiction has a duty to try and educate and as well as entertain. “The memorable books are the ones you’re still thinking about 48-hours after you finished reading.”

Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.

Where To Find Andrew

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Website

Instagram

Purchase Links

Andrew Field Bookshop

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

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Magic O’Clock & Magical Memories by L.S.Fellows #Blogtour #Review

Synopsis

Archie Royle is a kind, funny, gentle man.

He’s also my dad. My storyteller. My hero.

Except he doesn’t remember my face any more. 

His world, these days, doesn’t include me or his family.

Life may have changed for him, but he hasn’t given up on life. 

Not at all. 

It’s just different. 

Dad still tells his stories, albeit for a new audience.

He makes people smile and chuckle. As he always did.

He’s a fighter, a survivor and maybe sometimes too clever for his own good! He’ll surprise you. I can assure you of that. 

Welcome to Magic O’Clock, where time is irrelevant and hope is unlimited.

Synopsis

As Archie Royle takes his final breath, three sisters race to say their goodbyes.

Two don’t make it in time.

I do.

And now, it’s all my fault they’re too late.

Despite him having dementia.

Despite them not visiting in over a month.

But I won’t let anger win.

After all, we’re all grieving, aren’t we?

Surely, as a family, we can let bygones be bygones.

 It’s what Dad would want. Expect.

It’s what he deserves.

We have so much to be grateful for.

So many fond and magical memories to share.

Magical Memories is a fictional tale of loss, grief and moving on.

My Review

I’d like to thank Rachel’s Random Resources and L.S.Fellows for inviting me to take part in this amazing blog tour.

What wonderful books these both are. They are written with compassion, honesty and from the heart.

Magic O’Clock tells the story of Archie who is in a care home with dementia. His daughter visits him daily, at 3 o’clock Archie makes his way to the communal lounge, takes a seat in front of his captive audience and retells a  story from his past. For that few minutes the dementia disappears and his daughter sees a glimpse of her Dad.

Magical Memories focuses on when the loved one with dementia loses their fight and sadly passes away.  It highlights the struggle between loved ones but how in the end it’s the good memories that matter.

L.S.Fellows beautifully depicts the brighter days amongst the dark and how all the matters in the end is he continuing love that remains and the beautiful memories you’ve made.

Purchase Links

Amazon ~ Magic O’Clock

Other e-retailers ~ Magic O’Clock

Amazon ~ Magical Memories

All About L.S.Fellows

Despite being born in England, my heart now lies in Spain. Many moons ago, I was a student in Granada, Spain. I loved it so much and swore I would return one day on a more permanent basis. In 2003, I did just that. 

Now, as a fur-mum to two adorable but mischievous mutts, in my free time I can usually be spotted with my nose in a book, armed with just the teeniest chunk of chocolate and a zillion pomegranates!

Where To Find L.S.Fellows

Facebook

Twitter

Website/Blog

My Troyboy Is A Twat by Paula Houseman #Blogtour #Extract

Synopsis

Love, romance, marriage, and a dark little secret. Shh Small things let loose can grow out of hand.

Ruth Roth’s new husband can’t keep it in. If only he had all those years ago, things might be different now.

His big mouth sends every family member into hell. Except for Ruth’s late mother. She blows in from there. Seems the woman just won’t die. Or let up. Faaaark!

As if Mama’s earbashing isn’t enough, everyone else needs a scapegoat. Ruth is it. Somehow, this mess is her fault.

With everything falling apart, she feels overwhelmed. Until a hunky celebrity pants man—who clearly wants to get into hers—befriends her and makes her feel all warm and fuzzy. At the same time, an educated silicone seductress has designs on hubby.

Temptation abounds. But it’s overshadowed when a startling discovery throws Ruth and her man into uncharted waters, and life comes crashing down.

Ruth has survived plenty with the help of her friends. And as a writer, her wry wit, dirty muse, and a bent for ancient mythology have sustained her. This, though, might be her undoing.

Purchase Links

Amazon Uk

Amazon US

The sound of the doorbell was like cymbals striking against the sides of my head. No dream this time. I looked at the clock:7:05 am.

What? It was too early to have visitors. I’m closed. Go away.

The bell rang again; the caller was insistent.

Oh God. What if my dream had been a premonition and Ralph really was there with a gun?

Who cares? At least it’ll put me out of my misery.

Ding dong. Again!

It couldn’t be Ralph. Hit men are supposed to be calm and patient, and it was clear the person at the door wasn’t. Ralph was generally calm and patient. Maybe that was a pretence. Could it be his early modelling career had been a cover and he had been a sniper for the 2nd Commando Regiment? Maybe he was preying on my fear. He knew I wouldn’t ignore the doorbell now because I had a thing about early-morning and late-night phone calls or visits—these potential whorebringers of doom.

Another ding dong was followed by a loud rapping.

It was the sort of thing the police did, rang the bell then rapped if there was no answer. In TV shows, at least. What if something had happened to Ralph? I must be listed as his next of kin and this would be the police!

Too terrified to move, but then, needing to know, I slipped into my bathrobe and yelled, ‘I’m coming!’ as I held my head and stumbled to the door.

I partially opened it, peeked out and rubbed my eyes. It was not a pair of men in blue. But what fresh hell was this?

A pair of hillbillies stood on the other side.

‘Yes?’ I grunted.

‘Hi. We’re your new nixt door neighbours,’ the man said.

Phoebe and Zac, who’d owned the adjoining duplex, had moved out a week ago. We’d hugged our goodbyes and promised to stay in touch. ‘Oh, and say bye to Ralph,’ Phoebe had called out as she got into her car. Who knew her words would be prophetic?

I’d heard the comings and goings of another set of removalists on Tuesday, but I’d been too disconsolate to even go watch the action through the lounge-room window.

I rubbed my eyes again and stared at the new owners. A corn-fed Ma and Pa Kettle, they looked to be in their mid-forties. They stood there grinning like manic monkeys as I sized them up.

Wide-mouthed Ma had pasty skin; a flat, turned-up nose; and jellyfish-blue eyes with saggy bags under them and an un-tweezed, mono-brow pelmet above them. She had a large head that sprouted black, woolly, Maggi Noodle hair, and she wore a khaki midi-skirt and a clinging beige tee with a plaid peplum. Her big tits, along with the three tiered rolls of fat under them, resembled a dog’s four sets of post-partum teats.

Pa had a thatch of red hair, his freckled face was shaped like a butternut pumpkin, and his ears stuck out like a pair of ailerons—a desirable feature for a winged being, but it would have got him beaten up in the schoolyard. His duds complemented hers—khaki tee under tight, beige overalls. The straps needed some serious lowering to overcome the unsightly moose knuckle and cut his balls some slack.

He and she were the perfect combo, and not just because they were mix and match. He was the shape of a triangle, she, the shape of an inverted triangle. Their sex life was probably interesting.

He cleared his throat and formally introduced himself and his pardner. ‘I’m Bin en’ thus us Bitty.’

Huh? ‘Bin an’ Bitty?’

‘No. Bin en’ Bitty.’ He emphasised the names.

‘Uh …’ I scratched my fragile head. ‘Isn’t that what I said?’

‘No. You sid Bin en’ Bitty.’

Huh? ‘Oh.’ They were Kiwis. ‘Ben and Betty!’

‘Yip. End you are …?

Too goddamn tired to hobnob. ‘Ruth.’

‘Hi, Ruth.’ He lunged forward, grabbed my hand, which I didn’t offer, and started pumping it. It was like he was shaking a bottle of bubbly. What was inside my head started to fizz and was threatening to explode if the pressure jacked up. Thankfully, he stopped, but he didn’t shut up.

Jes’ wanting to warn you, you’ll prob’ly cop the smill of pissed aside wafting today. Bitty here hess bun bedlee butt’n.’

I once worked with a New Zealander. It hadn’t taken me long to grasp the vernacular. I was good enough with languages that I didn’t need storytelling with props. I wished I’d said so now.

Bitty lifted her skirt to show me a whole lot of nasty red welts on her inner thighs. It was too much information for this early in the morning. Hell, it was too much information at any time of the day. Or night. I had to look away.

‘End litting you know too, I’ll be benging away working unthe beckyard. Not tilling you on what, though. Et’s a surprise.’ Bin clicked his tongue and winked at me.

Like I give a rat’s arse. I responded with a wan smile.

It took a few moments of awkward silence for it to become clear to Bin and Bitty that I wasn’t going to invite them in.

Bin said, ‘Right. Need to git working. En Bitty’s stull got lots of unpecking to do. The early bird cetches the worm, eh?’

Maybe in the country, but there are no fucking roosters in suburbia. I hoped to God this man, who was used to waking up to cock-a-doodle-doo, didn’t start his ‘benging’ so early in the coming mornings.

I closed the door and leaned against it. ‘Jesus. From Portnoy to this? Not funny, God. Why me? Why me!

An answer came from above—from the land of the long white cloud: ‘You wanted comedy. Be careful what you wush for.’

All About Paula

 Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing. 

She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay). 

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).

Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

Where To Find Paula

Twitter

Goodreads

Facebook

LinkedIn

The Adventures Of Isabelle Necessary #Blogtour #Review

Synopsis

Once upon a beach, there was an eleven-year-old girl called Isabelle Necessary. A girl with an unusual name and a rather extraordinary life. Left behind while her parents are off traveling, Isabelle roams around a sleepy beachside town getting into one sticky situation after another. She does her best to help the residents find their keys, watch over their stores and return their parrots, but not all goes according to plan for Isabelle. Fans of Beverly Cleary will enjoy this touching, free-spirited tale about a girl who’s learning to deal with her parents’ absence in one of this year’s most adventurous middle-grade reads.

Click here to buy The Adventures Of Isabelle Necessary

My Review

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources and Martii Maclean for inviting me onto this blog tour.

Well, how much adventure can be in one book!

I adored The Adventures Of Isabelle Necessary from the first chapter. Martii truly brings Isabelle to life and she jumps out of the pages at you. Each chapter has a different story so it’s perfect for busy minds or a chapter a day read.

The book was a lovely easy read and had me wishing I was a 10 year old again and this sort of book was around when I was young!

Saggy beach town, the village where Isabelle lives sounds delightful and full of unearthed adventures!

With my early years practitioner head on this book is amazing for key stage two educators as it includes resources for each adventure, these can be accessed Here

This is an absolute gorgeous book that I’d recommend whole heartedly.

All About Martii

Martii Maclean lives in a tin shack by the sea, catching sea-gulls which she uses to make delicious pies, and writing weird stories. She likes going for long bicycle rides with her cat, who always wears aviator goggles to stop her whiskers blowing up into her eyes as they speed down to the beach to search for mermaid eggs. Or how about this…

Martii Maclean writes fantastical, adventurous tales for children and teens and sometimes adults. She was born in Sydney, Australia and now lives in Brisbane with her husband Trevor and her cat Minerva. Her work as an educator and librarian, allows her to share her love of stories and of story-telling with many young people. This inspires Martii to create thought-filled stories that explore the wonderful world of ‘what if’. To find out more about Martii and her stories follow the link to her website below.

Where To Find Martii

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Paris In The Dark by Robert Olen Butler #Blogtour #Giveaway

Synopsis

Drawing on his own experience as a war veteran and news reporter, Robert Olen Butler has created a page turning thriller of unmistakable literary quality.

AUTUMN 1915. The First World War is raging across Europe. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches, although that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front. Christopher Marlowe ‘Kit’ Cobb, a Chicago reporter and undercover agent for the US government is in Paris when he meets an enigmatic nurse called Louise. Officially in the city for a story about American ambulance drivers, Cobb is grateful for the opportunity to get to know her but soon his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, extends his mission. Parisians are meeting ‘death by dynamite’ in a new campaign of bombings, and the German-speaking Kit seems just the man to discover who is behind this – possibly a German operative who has infiltrated with the waves of refugees? And so begins a pursuit that will test Kit Cobb, in all his roles, to the very limits of his principles, wits and talents for survival.

Fleetly plotted and engaging with political and cultural issues that resonate deeply today, Paris in the Dark is the finest novel yet in this riveting series.

‘A genuine and exhilarating success’ TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

‘A historical thriller of admirable depth and intelligence’ BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE

Click here to buy Paris In The Dark

All About Robert

ROBERT OLEN BUTLER is one of America’s most highly regarded writers, having published 17 novels, 6 short story collections, and a book on the creative process. Among his numerous awards is the Pulitzer Prize which he won for A Good Scent for a Strange Mountain. Four of his novels are historical espionage thrillers in the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series, a character far closer to Robert than any other he has written. Like ‘Kit’ Cobb, Robert also went to war, was part of the military intelligence and a reporter and editor at an investigative business newspaper. Robert is also a widely admired and sought after university teacher of creative writing and counts among his former students another Pulitzer Prize winner.

Where To Find Robert

Website

Twitter

To win a paperback copy of Paris In The Dark please comment below. The winner will be announced on Sunday 7th October at 9pm…Good luck!

Cupid F*ucks up by Paula Houseman #Blogtour #Extract

Synopsis

Ruth Roth is a straight shooter. Pity Cupid’s not.

Smart-mouth Ruth is an inspirational humour columnist for a popular women’s magazine. Recently divorced, she has found the love of her life. Without any help, mind you, from the little fat love god. Ruth has decided she herself is her one and only.

And she’s in a comfy place. Why wouldn’t she be? No need to yell ‘Put the bloody toilet seat down!’ No need to hoover toe-nail clippings off the carpet.

But then a silver-tongued Prince Charming fronts up in his shiny Merc and tickles her discarded, little-girl fantasies. He tells her their love is written in the stars.

It must be a misprint.

A romance with this particular PC is not so PC! Still …

Ruth’s life plays out more like ancient myth than fairytale. And what hot-blooded woman can resist forbidden fruit?

There’s a problem, though. Ruth does not have a hot-blooded mum. Ruth has a pain-in-the-arse mum whose squawking disapproval cranks the taboo up a notch.

All the more reason to take up with the stud! But it means taking on the harpy.

Tensions mount, and even Ruth’s man can’t protect her from the trash-talking voices in her head. It looks like he can’t muzzle his own either. When an earth-shattering revelation causes him to give her grief, it makes her feel like she’s dating her mother.

Taking the kind of advice she doles out to her readers is not so easy, and Ruth wonders if this love can survive. More to the point, is it worth the trouble?

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Extract

Hector retreated. He looked like he’d just been castrated. He shifted in his chair, like a dog trying to find a more comfortable position after having its balls lopped off. Steering clear of my plucky daughter, Hector’s beady eyes fixed on Ralph again. And like a desexed dog with a bone, this man persisted in punching above his weight. But just as he opened his mouth to say something, a small, souped-up red Honda zoomed into the driveway and screeched to a halt. A young man climbed out.

‘Ah, Alex’s little bwother.’ Hector smiled with pride. ‘Only eleven months diffwence between them, you know.’

Oh, I feel your pain, little brother.

‘Unplanned, but definitely a welcome addition.’

In that case, maybe not.

Alex’s ‘little bwother’ came in and stopped at the entrance to the lounge room. 

‘Hello, Son,’ Hector said. 

I turned to face ‘Son’, who hung back a bit. Unlike his car, he appeared to be shy.

He looked like Alex, had the same facial contours and the same brown eyes. But he had Hector’s colouring—fair skin and ginger hair—and Hector’s small but paunchless physical presence.

His father motioned him forward. ‘Evewyone, this is Pawis.’

What? No way! So many names to choose from even when your alphabet only has twenty-five letters in it, and you settle on a name with the missing consonant?

Paris was as polite as Alex. He shook our hands as Hector introduced him to each of us—‘Hannah, Wuth, Weuben, and Walph’. It evoked the same shivery sensations as when my third-year high school maths teacher deliberately raked his fingernails across the blackboard. Paris sat at the end of the sofa, squashed in between its arm and his big bwother.

I said to Hector, ‘I assume Paris is named after your City of Light?’

‘Yes, but also after the chawacter fwom the Twojan War. Lawissa was fwom Gweece so she had a fondness for the Gweek way.’

Shiiiiiit!

‘With my backgwound, I have a fondness for the Fwenchway.’

More shiiiiiit!

Reuben’s eyes popped out; Hannah’s mouth dropped open and she giggled; Casper, Ralph and I laughed; Rhea covered her face with one hand; Paris whispered, ‘Christ’; Alex looked down at his lap, blew out an audible breath and shook his head.(Ha, he was embarrassed! This made me feel better. I’m wary of people who are overly nice.) Hector looked puzzled by our reactions.

Really? How can you not know the ‘Greek way’ is a euphemism for anal sex and the ‘French way’ is a euphemism for cunnilingus or fellatio?

Just then, a kitten slinked into the room. It was ginger, the same colouring as Hector and Paris. It rubbed up against my legs.

Piss off!

‘Ooh, she likes you,’ Hector said.

Who cares? I hate fucking cats. I stroked the beast to be polite. Ecch. ‘What’s her name?’ Like I give a shit.

Clitemnestwa. After the wife of Agamemnon. He was the commanda of the Gweeks in the Twojan War.’

‘Mm-hmm, I studied Greek mythology at school. And it’s actually pronounced Cl-eyetemnestra.’

‘No it’s not! Lawissa chwistened our vewy first cat Clitemnestwa. And with her stwong Gweek hewitage, she would have known.’

No point arguing with this frickin’ man-child. He came across as a know-all. If Joe were alive, he and Hector would have locked horns, for sure. Either way, it was a strange name to give to your cat.

Hector tore a piece off his spanakopita, bent down and chirped in a high-pitched tone. ‘Come to daddy, Clit.’

Oh my God!

Rhea looked heavenwards then closed her eyes.

Ralph snorted. ‘Really? A pussy called “Clit”?’

Hector got huffy. ‘Yes.’

What the—? Does this idiot live in a vacuum?

‘I suppose you’d call yours something common like “Kitty”.’ 

Catty.

Ralph gave him a sardonic smile. ‘I don’t have one.’ And he wasn’t talking about a cat.

Reuben, Hannah, Casper and I were sniggering. It was a challenge to keep the lid on. Alex and Paris exchanged a look that said, Like, Dude, like, not in company! Hector didn’t notice any of it. He was too busy stroking, feeding and kissing Clit.

All About Paula

Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing. 

She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay). 

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).

Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

Where To Find Paula

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The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran #Extract #Blogtour

Synopsis

Driven off the desert road and left for dead, Claire DeWitt knows that it is someone from her past trying to kill her, she just doesn’t know who. Making a break for it from the cops who arrive on the scene, she sets off in search of the truth, or whatever version of it she can find. But perhaps the biggest mystery of all lies deeper than that, somewhere out there on the ever rolling highway of life.

Set between modern day Las Vegas and LA, The Infinite Blacktop sees Claire at her lowest point yet, wounded and disorientated, but just about hanging on.

Too smart for her own good, too damaged to play by the rules, too crazy for most – have you got what it takes to follow the self-appointed ‘best detective in the world’?

Extract

OAKLAND 2011

The first car I broke into was a late-model BMW and I couldn’t get it

started for the life of me. I hadn’t stolen a car more than a couple of

times in the past twenty years, and it showed. The second car I tried

was an older Ford Taurus and I couldn’t even get in without breaking

a window. The third was a 1995 Honda and I got it up and started in

about twelve minutes. In the future I’d brush up on new automotive

technology: for now I was happy to be in the Honda. I drove back

toward the accident scene. It was mostly cleaned up, just a little pile

of broken glass and plastic and the disturbing smell of burnt rubber

left to mark the spot.

I wasn’t worried about the cops. I knew the lady cop hadn’t talked,

and the rest of the cops in Oakland had better things to worry about

than an accident victim who didn’t want their help. They wouldn’t

be looking for me.

A few people were still hanging out around the accident. Or

maybe they always hung out here. I drove up to two of them and

parked the Honda. I got out and left it running. It had probably been

two or three hours since the accident. They were certainly getting

their money’s worth out of it.

“Hey,” I said. They turned around and looked at me, they being

two women somewhere between thirty and fifty, both African American.

One woman wore worn-out athletic shorts, flip-flops, and a

Raiders T-shirt. The other woman wore jeans and a matching Raiders

T-shirt. They both smoked cigarettes. I figured them for a couple

although I wasn’t sure and it didn’t matter.

Neither of them said anything. They both looked confused. I

figured they recognized me from the crash and I figured right.

Finally the woman in jeans said, “Hey, are you OK? Weren’t you

just—”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m OK, thanks. Did you see what happened to

the other woman? The woman who was screaming?”

“The ambulance took her,” the woman in jeans said.

The woman in shorts hit her friend on the hip.

“I don’t want to bother her,” I said. “I just want a statement for

insurance. Do you know her name?”

Now both women looked at me, each with her mouth in a straight

line. They were bigger than me, and there were two of them. I could

do something about one of those problems, and so I did: before they

could figure it out and stop me I took the Taser from my back pocket

and brought it up to the bare arm of the woman in shorts and pressed

the obvious button. I heard a low electrical hum and the woman

shook and shook and made a strange sound in her throat and fell

down. All of this took two or three seconds. Before the woman in

jeans could retaliate I quickly, and very painfully, raised my left leg

and kicked her in the waistline, as high as I could reach. When my

ankle hit her waist she fell down and I bit back a scream of pain. I felt

bones in my leg I’d never felt before, and it didn’t feel good.

All About Sara

Sara Gran is the author of five critically acclaimed novels, including Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, Come Closer and Dope. She also writes for film and TV, including ‘Southland’ and ‘Chance’, and has published in The New York Times, The New Orleans Times Picayune, and USA Today.

Where To Find Sara

Website