Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Review - 'Death at the Clos du Lac'

Another very pleasing review of the 4th Insp Lucas Rocco crime thriller -  'Death at the Clos du Lac' - this time in Living France - the must-read magazine for visitors and foreign residents of that lovely country.

Inspector Lucas Rocco is back in action in Adrian Magson’s latest
novel, Death at the Clos du Lac. Called to a suspicious death at the
exclusive Clos du Lac sanatorium, Rocco discovers a man chained to
the floor of a therapy pool and left to drown. But, as with all of
Rocco’s cases, there is much more to the death than meets the eye,
and he soon comes up against secretive staff and patients, obstructive ministry officials, a rogue government assassin and determined kidnappers.

Set in France’s northern Picardy region in the 1960s, the Lucas Rocco series is gaining a loyal following and has been described by some as France’s Jack Reacher.
Be warned, once you open the book you will be hooked!
'Death at the Clos du Lac'. Now available in h/b, p/b and ebook. In other words, bedtime, travel time and anytime formats!


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Blog Tag (2)

The tour continues, this time with a hand-over to Henriette Gyland, who I was pleased to profile in Writing Magazine last year, after her debut novel 'Up Close' came out via Choc Lit. (And what a great cover image; chilling or what?)

I'm delighted to see that Henriette hasn't allowed the grass to grow beneath her feet, and has produced two more novels since then - 'Elephant Girl' and 'The Highwayman's Daughter' - which intriguing titles should at least compel you to go and buy them - now! (Anyway, anyone this productive deserves supporting, in my view. Others can rest on their laurels if they wish).

Here's her bio, so do go and give her a read:

Henriette Gyland grew up in Northern Denmark but moved to England after she graduated from the University of Copenhagen. Before she started writing, she worked in the Danish civil service, for a travel agent, a consultancy company, in banking, hospital administration, and for a county court before setting herself up as a freelance translator and linguist. Henriette recently began to pursue her writing in earnest winning the New Talent Award in 2011 from the Festival of Romance and a Commended from the Yeovil Literary Prize.

Kør, Henriette! (That means 'go, Henriette', in Danish. I think. I hope. If not, you know what I mean).


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Tag blogging

It's like tag wrestling, only without all the grunt 'n sweat. We each take over from a previous author/blogger, and answer some set questions about how and why we do what we do.

I was asked to join in this author blog tour by Howard Linskey - 'The Drop', 'The Damage' and 'The Dead', which make up the hard-nosed David Blake trilogy. I was pleased to profile Howard in Writing Magazine's New Author column when he first came out (with his debut novel, that is, not...) and am truly delighted that he has continued at such a pace with his excellent brand of tough prose.
If you want to know how Howard's going from strength to strength, take a peek at his blog right here, and you'll see how he's jumped on board the author's rocket with a new series of books.

As for me...

What am I working on?

I’m currently working on the second book in the Marc Portman series (the first was ‘The Watchman’). Portman is a slight departure for me, because although it’s still in the spy thriller genre (like the Harry Tate series). It has a darker edge to it, is faster paced and the body count is a little more deliberate! It's also mostly in the first-person, so we're right inside Portman's head.

Portman’s a sort of long-distance bodyguard for spies in hostile areas. Instead of being with his charge, however, he stays in the background so that not even the spy knows he’s there. It gives Portman the advantage of being able to scope out the terrain and quietly deal with any threat that arises (and gives me the excuse for plenty of action).

 ‘The Watchman’ saw Portman in Somalia covering two MI6 officers who’d been set up by terrorist group al-Shabaab, to meet a sticky end for propaganda purposes. This next one (working title ‘Portman 2’), sees him somewhere colder, darker and just as lethal, guarding an American State Department official on a secret mission. What neither of them knows until the mission is well under way is that danger comes not merely from the known enemy, but from all sides, and Portman has to figure out a way of getting the man out of danger… and getting back himself to settle a score.

 How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Good question – and a hard one for me to answer. I’m hoping my writing style is different enough to make it enjoyable and readable in its own right, but that’s for others to judge. I’ve worked hard on trying to gain my own ‘voice’, whether in my crime or spy thrillers.

As with the Harry Tate books, I’ve tried to make Portman realistic in his approach to his work; he’s a very different individual, much harder in outlook and more of a loner. He doesn’t kill indiscriminately, but he has a job to do and recognises no half measures when it comes to protecting his charges. In the international field of Close Protection (only not so close in his case), he’s only as good as his last job, and he is already haunted by the spectre of losing a colleague in a former life. But more will come out about that in the future.

Put simply, he hates to lose and wants to continue working.

With the Lucas Rocco books, set in rural France in the 1960s, I try to make the background and characters as realistic as possible without being caricatures. I was educated in France for a while and still have family there, so for research purposes I have that to draw on, which helps.

Yes, there’s a black Citroen – but mainly because it ‘fits’ Lucas Rocco’s personality and stature. However, I don’t overdose the reader on French language, Gitanes or smoke-filled dives in Montmartre. Actually, the setting is predominantly Picardie in northern France, so that would be difficult!

Why do I write what I do?
Well, apart from the fact that I'm possibly ill-suited for anything else, (1) I’ve always wanted to write for a living – which I’m lucky enough to do, and (2), I’ve always loved crime and spy fiction. For many years I wrote and sold short stories and articles for women’s magazines (there was a market and it paid), while in between I wrote several novels, which was my main aim. Sadly, they all fell at the fence labelled ‘Not this one’ , so I consoled myself by writing more shorts.
But it kept me going.

Then I sold a crime novel set in London… which turned into 5 books in the Riley Gavin/Frank Palmer series. The main protagonist was a woman, something I probably picked up naturally from the magazine work and knowing that most crime readers were women, and this inspired me to try harder to get the character right.

In 2010, my agent, David Headley, sold my first spy novel (‘Red Station’ – the Harry Tate series), and happened to ask ‘What else have you got on the go?’ As it happened, I’d just finished what turned into the first of the Inspector Lucas Rocco crime series (‘Death on the Marais’, and he sold that, too, within the same 48-hour period.

However, the short answer to the 'why?' question is, I wanted to write and was ready – or desperate enough - to try everything. That included poetry, articles, gags for radio, short plays, and slogans on t-shirts and beer mats. (I was useless at poetry, the plays took too long and were rubbish… and the radio gags, although I sold a few, were in an even more crowded market than books. The t-shirts were fun, but took too long to turn into anything).

All this writerly thrashing about was partly to see if I could write; to see if I was any good at it; to see if I enjoyed it, and whether I had the stamina for it. Hopefully, think I might be getting there!

How does your writing process work?

I wish there was a definite process to give you. I’ve tried writing a synopsis or a plan or whatever you want to call, it, but I’ve always ended up going off-piste, mostly because I suddenly think of something more interesting to write, and want to get on with it. I put it down to having a short attention span.

In creative process terms, I usually get the grain of a nugget of an idea or three (most often from the news), and chew them over. It’s usually the one which bugs me most that turns into something I begin to work on. I don’t write in an A-Z fashion, but jump around writing scenes as they occur to me, chucking in ideas, questions, bits of research and so on. Some will end up on the equivalent to the cutting-room floor, others will survive and find their way into the story – a bit like laying a series of stepping stones which I can shuffle around until they fit. It sounds chaotic and probably is, but it works for me.

I tend to kid myself that I work 9 to 5, just like an office job. But increasingly this is rubbish and I do what most writers do and follow my nose and inclination, working best in the afternoons and in my head in the middle of the night. Some days will get 200 words, another will get 2,000 or more.

Once a project is finished and I’ve edited myself to a standstill (ie – I’ve got to the fiddling stage and am in danger of ruining it , I let Ann, my wife have the first read. She’s great at spotting time-line errors, typos and stuff, so if it doesn’t make sense to her, I know I need to re-work it some more until I feel able to send the ms to David for the first ‘industry’ read.

Then I wait.

There’s a fair bit of that in this game. Fortunately, it’s also thinking time for the next book.

I’ll pass on the baton now to Lisa Cutts ('Never Forget'), who writes excellent novels in between investigating murders as a DS with Kent Police. Lisa is another author who doesn't believe in letting the grass grow or resting on her laurels or any of those other analogies (and whom I also profiled in Writing Magazine).

Go Lisa.


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Book review

My review of 'The Killing Season' by Mason Cross is now up on the SHOTS Magazine website right here.

It's a good read. Dammit. The book, that is.


Thursday, 1 May 2014

'The Watchman' - out everywhere!

At last - 'The Watchman' - the first in the Marc Portman spy thriller series, is available in hardback now, not just in the UK but in the US right here.

Also, for those readers with an empty e-reader device looking for a good read (not just me saying that - see below), this title is now available as an ebook, for example here and all of these:

US -
Australia -
Canada -
France -
Germany -
Spain -
Italy -
Japan -
India -

What's that saying about when a tree falls in the forest, and everyone stayed home, does it make a sound? (I paraphrase loosely). Well, when a new book comes out it's pretty much the same; you have to shout about it just in case. As these kindly people did:

"action-filled... a convincingly formidable one-man army..."Publishers Weekly

"...adrenalin-fuelled action thriller... packed with danger, ingenuity, bravery, horror and shocking violence. A gripping read..."

"Thrilling read"... "hard to put down" ... "a great action hero"
The Crime Scene

"... dramatic page turning suspense... Strongly recommended."
Euro Crime Reviews

"Insanely atmospheric... just begs to be read."
Milorambles Review -

"...contains some of the most explosive opening chapters I have read in a long time. Give this man a Bond film script to play with!"
Crime Fiction Lover -

I hope you'll give the book or the ebook a try - and if you do, that you enjoy the heck out of it.

Thank you.