Welcome, Seamus!

Today I am delighted to welcome fellow Crooked Cat Author Seamus Heffernan, whose first novel, Napalm Hearts, is published on 24 April.

Welcome, Seamus!  Tell us all about your debut novel, Napalm Hearts.

NAPALM HEARTS is a detective story about an American PI working infidelity investigations throughout London’s back alleys and hotels. Successful but bored, he wants to shake things up a bit, and so takes a case from a wealthy member of the English aristocracy to track down his missing trophy wife. It’s a fast-paced thriller with some heart, and features a detective, Thaddeus Grayle, who is a flawed guy trying to be a bit better.

What made you want to write it?

Motivation came through the anxiety that comes with this choice: Do you take a risk and try creating something that anyone would actually like to read, or do you do nothing, knowing all too well you’ll very likely regret squandering what little talent and opportunity you might have had? I mean, we’re all operating on limited time here, so you need to make some choices about what you want to throw yourself into. Me, I always wanted to try and write a detective story and the moment finally came to say “Ah, what the hell.”

You see, when I was a kid, I spent way too much time reading mystery stories, comic books (almost always Batman, naturally) and watching TV like The Untouchables or Crime Story. I knew if I was ever going to try and write a novel, it would have to be in that world.

That said, it’s not like humanity is crying out for another crime novel, so you really have to be pretty cocky or straight-up delusional to think yours is adding anything new or interesting to the genre. Perhaps I landed squarely in between those extremes, but once I really got going with it I decided it wasn’t completely terrible and wanted to see it through. Let the genre fiction chips now fall where they may.

So what’s next?  Something in the same vein, or are you branching out?

I’m working on the follow-up to NAPALM HEARTS—which was never actually the goal, but it’s happening. I never intended it to be a series but when I got to the end I realized these characters had room to grow. That’s the only way doing a series interests me: Do the people in these stories have anything new to say? For now, they do.

I’m also writing a TV pilot script about civil servants and the politicians they work for. It’s more tongue in cheek and heartfelt rather than laugh out loud funny, and it’s primarily an exploration of the kind of person who would willingly work in politics but actually have to serve the public. Pop culture hasn’t done a great job with this type of work. They either over-romanticize it (The West Wing) or portray it as relentlessly mean-spirited and self-serving (Veep, The Thick of It). Mine comes from a different, perhaps gentler, place.

How did you come to publish with Crooked Cat?

When you’re a new writer, getting your manuscript out into the world means going one of two routes: You can pitch to an agent and hope they take you on and push you to the bigger publishing houses, or you can submit directly to independent presses that accept unsolicited submissions. I went with option 2. Crooked Cat was kind enough to get in touch and say they wanted to work with me, so here we are.

What about yourself?  What else will the readers be interested (or shocked) to know about you?

I went to Catholic school and seriously considered joining the priesthood when I was younger.

Canada, eh?  Is that like the USA but colder?

That’s so weird. You said “colder” when you meant “better.”

Kidding, kidding. However, my day job is working for a Member of Parliament, so safe to say I am very proud to be Canadian and to work on behalf of our constituents.

Finally, what question would you have liked me to ask that I didn’t?

What’s the best thing about your first book coming out?

And what is the answer?

That anyone wants you to write the next one.

Thanks for having me, Tim!

You’re very welcome, Seamus.  Hope your book is a big success! 

NapalmHeartsCover

NAPALM HEARTS may be ordered here

Get in touch with Seamus Heffernan through any of these:

Official Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

 

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Meet the Crooked Cat Authors

I’m very much looking forward to joining two other Yorkshire-based Crooked Cat authors for a reading event next Thursday.

Angela Wren (with whom I shared another event last October) will be talking about her crime novel, Merle, in which investigator Jacques Foret delves into the murky world of commercial sabotage – a place where people lie and misrepresent.

Also there will be John Jackson, a retired ship’s Captain who lives in York and writes historical fiction based on his remarkably colourful family tree!  He will be introducing his book, Heart of Stone, the story of a girl who is owned by an Earl, but loved by his brother.

And I, of course, will be talking about Revolution Day, in which ageing dictator Carlos Almanzor clings to power as his vice-president plots against him and his estranged wife writes her memoir of their marriage and of Carlos’ rise to power and descent from idealism into autocracy.

So if you’re in the Yorkshire area, why not come along to Tickhill Community Library, Market Place, Tickhill, Doncaster DN11 9QU at 2.00pm on April 26th?  Please telephone the library on 01302 742871 and let them know you will be there.  Tea/Coffee and biscuits will be available.

The Prisoner

My novel Revolution Day is currently available for 99p in the Crooked Cat Easter Sale, along with lots of other great books – today is your last chance to snap it up for the reduced price.   To whet your appetite, here’s a short excerpt.  Ageing dictator Carlos Almanzor is taken by Manuel, his vice-president, to see a prisoner who appears to have information about a threat to his regime.  But who is the real threat.  Is it the dissidents, the Americans, or Manuel himself?

 

The young man was sitting bolt upright in the chair, a posture which at first sight sat oddly with the expression of overwhelming weariness upon his face. Closer inspection would reveal, however, that his arms and legs were strapped to the chair, preventing him from slumping forward and giving him very little freedom of movement in any direction. There was blood around his mouth and nose, and bruises were beginning to form around his eyes. Facing him, in two more comfortable chairs against the far wall, were two guards, dressed not in uniform but in jeans, t-shirts and trainers, their thick arms copiously adorned with tattoos. A key turned in the lock of the room’s heavy door, and the door swung open.

“Sit up straight. You’ve got some important visitors.”

Three men entered the room; first, holding the key, an intelligence officer in a grey suit, a surprisingly slight and innocuous-looking man. The other two were known to all present as the Vice-President (and Minister of Information) and the President of the Republic. The guards sprang to their feet and saluted enthusiastically, hastily moving to positions behind the prisoner so that the VIPs could occupy the chairs they had just vacated. The intelligence officer also saluted, and waited for his guests to sit down before addressing the President.

“Presidente, allow me to present to you Hector Aguilar, until recently an activist with the Freedom and Democracy Party, who has provided us with some important information which we believe you would wish to hear.”

“I would salute you too, Presidente,” said Aguilar, “but as you can see, my arms are tied to this chair.” One of the guards moved to hit him, but the Vice-President stilled him with a wave of his hand. He then turned to face the President.

“Thank you for setting aside some time from your busy schedule to come here, Presidente. You have seen the intelligence reports, but I thought that it was best for you to hear the information from the horse’s mouth.” He nodded to the intelligence officer, who turned towards the prisoner.

“Tell the President what you told us earlier today.”

Aguilar hesitated for a moment. Then, as the nearest guard began to crack his knuckles, an expression of resigned weariness came over the prisoner’s face and he finally began to speak.

“There is a faction within the Freedom and Democracy Party which has ceased to believe that change can be achieved in our country by peaceful means. I myself have been a member of this faction. For some years now, some of those who hold this view have been making approaches to various agencies of the United States government, and to known counter-revolutionaries in exile, in particular those who were loyal to General Salgado prior to his death, with a view to securing support for…” He began to cough, spraying droplets of pink saliva into the air.

“Give him some water,” said the intelligence officer. One of the guards poured some water from a plastic bottle into a small cup, which he raised to the prisoner’s mouth. This seemed to calm him, and he resumed in a clearer voice.

“With a view to securing material and financial support for an uprising.”

Soulweaver

Today I am hosting fellow Crooked Cat author Heidi Catherine, who’s here to talk about her Soulweaver trilogy of fantasy romances (of which the second book, The Truthseeker, was published on 19 March).  Welcome, Heidi.  I’m looking forward to hearing about the background to your trilogy….

 

Past lives and loves

A few years ago, I had a crazy idea to write a love story about life after death. I’m not especially spiritual, religious or even all that weird. I’m just a regular Australian mother of two boys, who’s occasionally wondered about what happens to us after we die. Where do we go? Are we reborn? Would it be possible to recognise the soul of someone we loved in a time gone by?

I really like the idea that there’s more to life than the here and now, even if it’s impossible for any of us to know exactly what that is. The story I ended up writing turned into a trilogy of books about reincarnation and loving the same souls over many lifetimes.

I was raised a Catholic and didn’t know an awful lot about reincarnation when I started the first book, although I saw this as a positive. After all, it is a work of fiction! I purposely stopped myself from researching the topic as I felt strongly that the world I created needed to be pure imagination and not restricted by any religious ideas. Curiously, a few reviewers have said that the book relies heavily on Hindu teachings – a religion I know very little about. I wonder now if perhaps I was Hindu in my past life… but that’s another story!

In The Soulweaver, we see three souls drawn to each other in ways they can’t explain. Lin spends her life feeling like she doesn’t belong, not realising it’s because she’s held onto memories of her past life as a girl who lived on the edge of a forest. Things start to get really interesting when she begins to remember the boy she was in love with– a boy who has grown into a man who still mourns her untimely death.

Here’s an excerpt of Lin as a young girl, trying to make sense of her world:

Lin looked out across the forest from her bedroom window, balancing her tiny frame on a stool. A possum scurried down the branch of a tree, making her laugh. She noticed the way the light fell on the highest branches, illuminating the leaves like torches. Other branches hung low with the weight of brightly coloured flowers that had burst into life, and small birds hopped along the forest floor searching for food to feed their young.

There was an abundance of beauty in nature. Lin felt so much a part of the forest, she was sure she must have roots of her own that had threaded their way deep into the earth.

‘You’ll wear out your legs standing on that stool,’ her father would tell her.

‘I’m watching over my forest, Ah-ba,’ she’d say.

‘Your forest is ugly.’ He’d smile, anticipating her response.

‘You are ugly.’

Her father would then lift her from the stool and tickle her until her sides ached from laughter.

Lin was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, the only child of hardworking parents who ran a convenience store on one of the city’s many busy streets. They lived in an apartment building and from her bedroom window she had a view that unfolded for miles.

As a young girl, she thought of her city as a forest. The buildings were her trees. The colourful clothes on the washing lines that ringed the buildings were her flowers. The horns from the traffic were birds calling to each other, and she imagined the people below to be possums or wombats or wallabies. Her imagination supplied her with the view she longed to see and she’d spend hours staring out, lost in a world of her own creation.

She tried to share this world with her father, but where she saw a forest he saw the land for what it was – a city studded with concrete columns of life, stretching high into the sky.

As she grew older, her legs grew longer and she no longer needed the stool. She’d press her nose to the window and stare at her city. She noticed how people’s eyes remained focused on life at ground level, yet most of it was happening above their heads. Through the thin walls of her family’s apartment she could hear talking, laughing, crying and shouting. All evidence of lives being lived, relationships being forged and people growing and changing

She watched the people go about their day, and would wonder why she felt she didn’t belong. The pages of her sketchpad were filled with drawings of a forest she’d never seen and faces of people she’d never met. When she slept, she dreamt of bright lights, dark skies and a woman with golden hair. She’d wake, confused and sad. Did everyone dream like this?

Heidi C

Heidi Catherine can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or on her website.

Book links:

The Soulweaver (Book 1)

The Truthseeker (Book 2)

The Shadowmaker (Book 3)

Over the Border

Here’s a little story I wrote at Meltham Writers a while back ….

 

“How much further?”

The family were exhausted now, having spent all day lugging what was left of their belongings up the rough mountain track.

“Not far now.” In contrast to the people who struggled wearily behind him, the young man’s face and voice were eager, optimistic, assured. “Seriously, just another mile or so. Once we reach the crest of that ridge” – he pointed to the great expanse of bare rock and earth that loomed forbiddingly ahead of them – “we’re at the border. And it’s all downhill from there. There will be shelter, food and water, people to help us.”

“The border?” said the other man in the party. “Then there will be guards and soldiers. We will have to pass a checkpoint.”

“No, don’t worry about that. No one uses this track apart from the odd shepherd. It’s not shown on any maps. That’s why we’re coming this way. The border isn’t manned or even marked here.”

The other man and his wife urged their three children to be strong, and grimly the party resumed plodding up the stony track. For all their guide’s assurances, the ascent to the top of the ridge seemed to take hours. By the time they rounded the final bend in the path and reached level ground at last, the light was fading and there was a pale orange glow in the western sky. The family stopped to catch their breath for a few moments. “Is this really the border?” asked the woman.

“Yes, this is it. You are safe now.” The couple embraced, and for the first time in many days, smiles appeared on their faces. They went on, and the level ground of the pass gave way to a downward slope.

“See,” shouted the young man, pointing at a small white structure a few hundred yards ahead. “That is a refuge hut used by shepherds. We can sleep there.”

The path down the slope was very steep and covered with loose stones. The family edged down it, knowing that a careless step by any of them could still bring their trek to a tragic end even so close to safety. They were exhausted when finally they reached the hut, and the children were crying. The young man paused outside the door.

“See, I have brought you to the border as I promised. Might I remind you …”

“Of course,” said the other man. “We are so grateful for all your help.” He removed a few grimy notes from a pocket of his coat and handed them over. It was all they had left, but it was worth it. The young man responded with a nod and a smile of great happiness.

“Look,” he said as he opened the door. “There is plenty of room to sleep, and water and food in the boxes over there.” They took no notice of the boxes, instead heading straight for the straw mattresses by the walls, where they were soon profoundly asleep.

In the morning, the family was roused by the sound of voices. The father rushed to the door, but it would not open. The young man who had brought them up the mountain was nowhere to be seen. Then a key turned in a lock, and the door opened. In walked two uniformed men with guns, accompanied by the young man, smiling the same eager smile he had worn the day before.

“Here they are, as I promised,” he said to the soldiers. “I told them they were over the border. Now I claim my reward.”

Welcome, Lesley!

Today I am pleased to welcome fellow Crooked Cat author and Yorkshire resident Lesley Field, whose novel Betrayal has just come out.

Congratulations on the recent launch of Betrayal. Would you like to tell the readers a bit about it?

Betrayal was launched on the 27th February 2018 and is set in Alberta, Canada. It starts off near Lethbridge and then moves to the Calgary area. It’s the story of Jessica, a lawyer who is betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust. Giving up her job and moving to Calgary she intends to build a new life for herself. Staying with her cousin while job hunting circumstances force her to stay in a hotel for a couple of nights. Whilst there she meets someone with whom she has an instant connection. They share a one night stand but she leaves before he wakes. Settled into a new job and a new home the one person she thought never to see again walks back into her life, making it clear that he wants more than the one night they had. But things are not as she thought and believing that she has been betrayed again, she turns away from him. But what will she do when the one person she wants is in danger…? That’s for the reader to find out.

What was your inspiration for the book?

It’s hard to say where the inspiration comes from, other than my head. I was a personal injury lawyer before I retired so the legal side of it came from there. I visit Canada as often as I can and have visited Lethbridge and stayed in Calgary several times, so it seemed natural to set the novel there. I looked on-line for a large shopping mall in the centre of Calgary, where one of the scenes is set. I found The Core, so when I was next in Calgary I visited there and had lunch almost as described in the book. I love horses and have owned horses in the past, so I included, “Rory,” in Betrayal.

The novel, like others of yours, is set in Canada, which you call your ‘heart home’. Why is that?

Betrayal is my first published contemporary novel and I set my contemporary novels in Canada because I have relatives there, some I have never met. Both my parents came from large families in the North East and back in 1912 my dad’s eldest sister lied about her age to get passage to America. She set out to board the ship but when she got there it had sailed. That ship, according to the family story, was the Titanic. So if she had caught it she would probably have perished and there would be no Canadian side of the family. My parents were going to immigrate to Canada before I was born, but changed their minds. So I should have been born Canadian. I first visited in 1977 and fell in love with the country and over the years that love has grown. When I visit now, it’s like going home, so I always say it’s the home of my heart.

You’ve also written historical novels. What attracts you about setting fiction in the past?

I started off writing contemporary, but then decided to try my hand at a historical novel. I didn’t know whether I could write in that genre, but I could. I enjoy writing historical novels, I set mine round about the regency period. I like the fact that you can write without having to worry about mentioning the trappings of modern life as it is now. Sometimes I think it would be quite nice to step back in time and enjoy a quieter pace of life. Of course, you would have to be born into the right social circle. When I was younger I read historical novels, Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer were my favourite authors.

Like me, you live in Yorkshire. How would you compare your ‘heart home’ with your actual home?

I live about 3 miles inland from the coast. I have the sea in front and the Yorkshire Wolds behind me. The North York Moors are a short drive away, and York is the nearest city. This is where I live, it’s my head home. The scenery is beautiful, as you will know, and there is a ruggedness about part of it, but there is also a gentleness in the rolling hills and dales. But my heart home, Canada, it’s rocky, its spectacular, the mountains and scenery are awe-inspiring and it takes my breath away every time I visit. It brings me alive, is probably the best way to describe it.

What led you to publish with Crooked Cat?

I have another publisher, a small publisher like Crooked Cat, but one of the editors is on sick leave. That has caused a backlog and, as I have 5 books in the pipeline with them, I decided to try another publisher to keep my name and my books out in public view.

What other interests and projects would you like to tell us about?

My interests are writing, reading, walking, eating out and generally enjoying life. My projects at the moment consist of 2 things. Promoting Betrayal as much as I can has priority. I am writing a series of historical novels called, Lords in Love. I have books 1 and 2 written. Book 3 is in the first draft read through stage. Book 4 is still in my head. I have also started on edits with my other publishers for the 1st book in a trilogy. So if you want to find out about that later, I’d be happy to oblige.

Finally, what question would you have liked me to ask that I didn’t?

I had to think about this. The only thing I could come up with is a question that I would not necessarily have liked you to ask, but it’s one that people keep asking me. “Where do you get the ideas for your bedroom scenes from?” I should add that you have to be over 18 to read my books.

And what is the answer?

Not from where people would think. The ideas come from reading. I can remember reading Mills and Boon when I was a teenager and there was very little sexual content in them. Now, not only is there sexual content in books, it is often quite explicit. The type of books you read are your own choice, but I do sometimes read something outside my comfort zone to see exactly how far some authors go. So I read to gain insight, and then write my own version of a bedroom scene. The one thing you have to do when you write, is you have to read. I read every night and a flight to Canada, which is often almost 10 hours, really tests the Kindle.

Many thanks for those fascinating answers, Lesley.  I hope Betrayal does well, and good luck with your historical project. 

LESLEY FIELD 7

Lesley Field grew up on Teesside. She enjoyed riding and reading and later spent most of her working life pursuing legal cases. When retirement came she kicked off the restraints of the law and discovered her real self. Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) coming into the RNA under the New Writers Scheme. She is also a member of ROMNA. She writes contemporary fiction which is set in Canada, and historical fiction set in Regency period in London. Her first historical novel, “Dangerous Entrapment,” (book 1 in the Duchess in Danger series) was published in August 2015, and was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists Association’s Historical Novel of the Year 2016. Following from, “Dangerous Entrapment,” book 2 in the series, “Dangerous Deception,” was published in November 2016. The next two books in the Duchess in Danger Series, “Dangerous Desire,” and “Dangerous Encounter,” are due for publication in 2018. Next for publication will be the Saunders series, a trilogy of contemporary novels set in Canada. The first in the series is “Saunders-Lies and Deception,” followed by, “Saunders-Endings and Beginnings,” and finally, “Saunders-Sisters and Lovers.” Happily living on the North Yorkshire coast with her husband she spends her days enjoying life and writing.

Author links –
Website – www.lesleyfield.com
Facebook – Lesley Field (public page) can be linked direct from website https://www.facebook.com/lesley.field.79
Facebook – Lesley Field Author page – https://www.facebook.com/lesleyfield2author/?pnref=lhc
Twitter – https://twitter.com/lesley_field2

Be My Guest!

It’s been a little while since I’ve had any visitors to this blog, so I thought it might be time to extend a general invitation to other writers to share their thoughts with my readers.  I am looking to host up to one author a month – two at a pinch, if there’s a long waiting list.  Posts can be up to 600 words, and could be either:

An interview (with 8-10 questions provided by me) – particularly for authors who haven’t visited this blog before.

If you’ve got a book coming out, a post on what it’s about, and/or a short excerpt.

Or just a piece of writing – flash fiction, a poem, or some thoughts about writing.

I’m open to other possibilities if you have something in mind – just let me know.

Anyway, if you’d like to pay a visit, drop me an e-mail to tim.e.taylor@talk21.com.  I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

picture:  Ardfern 2011