Outrageous Behaviour

By Graham Brack You can blame ice hockey. There isn’t any where I live in Cornwall, so when my wife and I booked a winter break in Prague, we made a deal. I’d go with her to the ballet, if she would come with me to the ice hockey. So, one afternoon we took the Metro to Nádraží Holešovice, from which it ought to be a short walk to the Arena; except that I had not realised that the station has two exits, and the directions I had assumed we had left by the north exit, whereas in fact we had taken the south one. This meant that we explored the district for a while. Then I saw a car pull up, and a man and boy in Sparta hockey jerseys got out. This was my clue to follow them, which we did; and the relevance of this is that […]

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Scandals, Intrigues, Family Feuds, Murders, Hatred, Love and Envy: Episode 3

By Joy Martin Episode Three: Can you train a horse to kill? To find out, I asked a circus trainer.  ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘It’s possible,’ and then he told me how to do it. In A WRONG TO SWEETEN and its sequel A HERITAGE OF WRONG the groom, Tim-Pat, shows off these skills to Dermot O’Brien in rehearsal for a murder. ‘He threw off his heavy white shirt onto the grass so it lay, like half a body, and addressed the horse, Claisi, coaxing the animal into a trance. ‘Get him, boy – get him.’ Clasai reared to his full height, flaring his nostrils in rage. ‘Get him.’ Claisi hesitated, a huge god-horse poised on the brink of violence against the silver sky.  And then the outrage.   The hooves flailing, pounding in fury onto the ground where half a body lay – dead or so it seemed…Pounded into the ground, […]

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Richard Blake’s 5 Recommended Roman Historical Novels

Without sneering at it, I have no taste for military historical fiction. I will do battles in my own novels, but much prefer civilian intrigue. What I like above all, however, in historical fiction is a sense of moving in a different moral environment from our own. In all times and places, people have the same basic motivations. But the way these are manifested makes any competent recreation of the past a study in oddness. Fellini described his masterpiece Satyricon as “science fiction of the past.” That’s what I try to achieve when I write, and that’s what I like to read. Here is a listing of my five favourite Roman novels: 5. The Sword of Pleasure by Peter Green (1957) – Told in the first person by Sulla the Dictator, this shows you the rapid decay of the Roman Republic. You can smell the garlic and dirt of the […]

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Laws of the Spirit

My novel Laws of the Spirit grew quite organically from my years in the legal field. Although entirely fictional, the ideas behind it were inspired by the scenes played out every day in criminal courtrooms across the country. One of the major threads of the story is that the “bad guy”—that is, the undeniably guilty defendant—is not evil, and might even be deserving of mercy. As humans, none of us want to be defined by the worst thing we’ve ever done. And each of us has our own unique backstory. The law is like any other profession—some people are great, dedicated players in the justice system. Some aren’t. Some are flawed, but doing their best. In writing this book, I hoped to show some of that rich diversity, some of the problems, and some of the people who want to be part of the solution. Get in touch with me […]

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Scandals, Intrigues, Family Feuds, Murders, Hatred, Love and Envy: Episode 2.

Episode Two: Tip to writers: stick to what you know.   For me, it’s the houses of my Limerick childhood – dilapidated, damp and haunted.   According to official records, my grandmother’s family home, Mannister House, was demolished ‘because of problems with ghosts’.   In my great uncle’s home, Clonmacken House, where James II once sought refuge, the ghost of a black sailor was sometimes seen on the backstairs.   He’d come up the secret passage which led from the river Shannon, hoping to seduce a maid who was working in the house.  Instead, a jealous rival killed him and left his ghost to haunt the house until the day it was burnt down. Crag Liath, the ‘big house’ which features in A WRONG TO SWEETEN and its sequel, A HERITAGE OF WRONG, is modelled on Clonmacken House: ‘a sombre mansion, 250 years old, grey-stoned, flat-faced, dignified, alluring.’ Inside, however, Crag Liath is far […]

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Bloody Reckoning by Rafe McGregor

While an off-duty military investigator is trying to save his ex-girlfriend from a ruthless drug baron, he learns that there is a serial killer at work in the British Army…   My first literary love is the hardboiled detective story, so it’s no surprise that my first contemporary novel is a hardboiled military mystery set in the British Army.  Bloody Reckoning was inspired by the combination of my own police experience with coming across Nelson DeMille’s The General’s Daughter a decade after its publication in 1992.   Although I had a long-standing interest in military history, I knew very little about the military police in general and military investigations in particular and began my research as soon as I’d finished the novel.  I quickly conceived of a three-part series, which would be set in the British, rather than United States, Armed Forces and would involve realistic set pieces rather than […]

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Scandals, Intrigues, Family Feuds, Murders, Hatred, Love & Envy        

Ireland in the 1880s. It wasn’t all bad.   The slums of Dublin were the worst in Europe.   In the country, evicted tenants were living alongside the roads and sometimes even in the trees. But the fortunate few, some of whom were Catholics, were enjoying a similar lifestyle to their upper middle class contemporaries in England, living in attractive houses, employing servants and sending their children to private schools. Sometimes they faced other torments: family feuds, usually over land, hatred, envy, even murder… A WRONG TO SWEETEN and its sequel A HERITAGE OF WRONG deal with the theme of inherited evil.   When the lives of two Limerick schoolfriends, Milliora Fitzgibbon and Rosaleen O’Flynn, are entwined with the those of the well-to-do O’Brien brothers, feckless Tom and ambitious Dermot, they soon find that envy can turn to madness and that love and hatred, loyalty and betrayal, can breed side by side. It’s […]

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The Devil You Know

Sophia Holloway discusses the themes and inspirations behind her latest novel, The Devil You Know.   Why do you choose to write books set in the Regency period? There is a certain decadence, a confidence, within the upper echelon of society, a bit like the decade prior to the outbreak of World War I. Britain is at war, and it is getting to grips with an urban and industrialised working class, and yet for the most part Society, with a capital S, does not take much notice. Unless one has relatives in the Army or the Royal Navy, the war against Napoleon which takes up the first few years of the Regency is merely a background. Of course for many of the younger characters, it has been in the background their entire lives. There is an unashamed joie de vivre that was later repressed by Victorian morality, which was in its […]

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William Burton McCormick at ThrillerFest

William Burton McCormick, author of the historical novel Lenin’s Harem will be one of six members of the writers’ panel “MEDIEVEAL, VICTORIAN OR ICE AGE? Bringing History Alive” during Thrillerfest XII on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. The fifty-minute discussion begins at 3:20 P.M with panel members revealing their techniques for researching and writing accurate and engrossing historical fiction that keeps readers turning pages. Audience participation is encouraged. Thrillerfest is the world’s largest conference for thriller enthusiasts with authors such as Lee Child, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner, Steve Berry and Heather Graham in attendance. McCormick lived four years in Latvia and Russia to research and write Lenin’s Harem, meeting with historians, museum curators, and sifting through eye-witness accounts of the events depicted in the book. The novel follows the life of an aristocrat who tries to keep himself and his family safe […]

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A Shape on the Air by Julia Ibbotson

Julia Ibbotson discusses the themes and inspirations behind her new book, A Shape on the Air.  Why do we experience that feeling of ‘deja vu’? How come we sometimes feel that an old house still bears the imprints of past inhabitants? I’m not talking about ‘ghosts’ or anything specific or corporeal, but what I have called in my latest novel  ‘shapes on the air’. The idea for A Shape on the Air had been brewing in my mind for a long time. I had been reading about, and mulling over,  the notion of time slip and especially the concept of ‘worm-holes’ and the Einstein-Bridge theory of portals into other dimensions of time and space, in effect quantum mechanics. It sounds fanciful and Dr Who-ish, and oddly I’m not a great fan of fantasy, but I felt that this was in fact a more ‘logical’ (in some ways!) and scientific explanation of […]

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