Sunday, 15 November 2015

Leigh Russell - Q & A - Book Blog Tour

Hi everyone

I would like to welcome Crime Author and Cleckheaton Literary Festival crime panel member, Leigh Russell to my blog.

Leigh has a new DI Ian Peterson novel out now in paperback.  Plus in December her new Geraldine Steel is out on Ebook then paperback next year.
To celebrate have asked her a few questions about her work and writing.   Enjoy.

1 - Could you tell me briefly about your Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson novels? Plus a little about their new novels "Murder Ring", and "Blood Axe".

Murder Ring is published as an ebook in December 2015, with the paperback out in 2016. Like all my books, the investigation works as a stand alone, although it is part of the Geraldine Steel series. Writing Murder Ring was a new challenge for me as it tackles the issue of gun crime. I have fought shy of this until now, because I have no interest in guns and hate anything and everything to do with them. With the Geraldine Steel series set in London, I could not avoid gun crime indefinitely. In Murder Ring, two victims die in inexplicable shootings, and it takes all Geraldine Steel's determination and ingenuity to discover the identity of the killer. 
Blood Axe is the new title in my Ian Peterson series. Like Murder Ring, it works as a stand alone, as well as part of a series. Set in York, it follows the struggles of Ian Peterson as he tracks down a brutal killer who proves particularly elusive. At the same time he is trying to deal with his failing marriage. I spent a long time researching the Viking civilisation and became fascinated by their culture and beliefs. While it is of course all fiction, I tried to make my 'Viking' character's actions and beliefs as authentic as possible. 

2 - Where do you see both series going in the future? 

This has been under discussion with my publisher at No Exit Press, as I have recently signed a contract for a new series with Thomas and Mercer. While I'm very excited about my series, I did not want to abandon Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson. I think my fans might have felt let down if I had simply stopped writing about my existing detectives. That said, writing four books in a year would be impossible, even for a prolific writer, and even three is pushing it. So we've agreed that the Geraldine Steel series will continue, but my spin off series for Ian Peterson will stop, at least for a while. That does not mean that Ian Peterson will disappear. Having first appeared in the early Geraldine Steel books, he may end up working with her again. I haven't quite decided what is going to happen yet, so watch this space. 

3 - At Cleckheaton Literary Festival you mentioned a Geraldine Steel TV series in the works. Any update on this?

These projects notoriously take years to complete so it should be no surprise that there is no definite news yet, but at least we are still in development. At the moment the signs seem to be positive. Avalon Television Ltd have put a lot of time into the project. A brilliant production manager and script writer are now in place and the production company recently renewed their option. That said, it's a long waiting game and the competition is fierce. So all I can say is that I am cautiously optimistic, and still typing with my fingers crossed.

4 - You signed a deal with Amazon publishing for a new series - Lucy Hall mysteries, the first "Journey to Death" is out February 2016. Could you tell us more on this?

I am very excited about this new series. Proofs of the first book are finished, and I'm really pleased with the cover design. Journey to Death is set in the Seychelles, which necessitated a two week research trip. That was hard work. As my husband said, someone has to research the cocktails on beach at sunset... I have just completed the first draft of the second book in the Lucy Hall series, which will be published in September 2016. This new series is another departure for me, as the books are not police procedurals. My protagonist is a woman in her early twenties who is trying to work out what she wants to do with her life. Inadvertently she is drawn into some macabre murder mysteries. I am having great fun writing them, and really hope my existing fans will enjoy them. 

5 - At Cleckheaton Literary Festival you mentioned you write two books a year. Is this still the case or do you write more?

For the past three years I have written a Geraldine Steel and an Ian Peterson book every year. I could not have managed this if I had not been in the fortunate position of being able to give up my day job. Hopefully readers will continue to buy my books so that I can carry on writing full-time. This year I have had to deliver three books, as I wrote a Lucy Hall book in addition to my detective series. Next year, three of my books will be published, the first two in the Lucy Hall series, and the ninth Geraldine Steel, which will follow Murder Ring. How many books I will actually write next year depends on whether I continue with Lucy Hall after the three book deal with Thomas and Mercer, and what happens to Ian Peterson. It's all up in the air at the moment, and I'll have to wait and see what happens when the time comes. Hopefully both my publishers will want to continue with my series, but that is out of my hands, and ultimately depends on whether readers keep buying my books. As I said earlier, I'm always typing with my fingers crossed.

6 - With all the festivals and jetting around the globe for research how and when do you find time to write? 

I posted a photo on facebook yesterday showing me bunking off Christmas shopping to write. That wasn't exactly a joke. With manuscripts to deliver, and editing to be done, plus all the promotion and research I have to do, it is difficult to find time to live a normal life. Fortunately my family are very supportive. My long suffering husband even put up with having to accompany me to Seychelles, Paris, Rome and Greece this year. So although it's a hard life, there are compensations.  

7 - Have you any writing tips for aspiring writers?

There is a lot of advice online, and I have posted many writing tips, and even written an online crime writing module for a writing site. I teach creative writing once a year for the Writers Lab, on a beautiful Greek island, and my course focuses on the craft of writing. I could write a book on how to hone your craft as a writer. But I'd like to add a different piece of advice that is often overlooked, although it is the single most important piece of advice for an aspiring writer: read voraciously. The more you read, the more skilled a writer you become. I suspect many aspiring writers devote a disproportionate amount of time to their own writing, at the expense of reading, and their writing suffers as a result. 

8 - Could you briefly describe your writing day?

I have no set routine, and am rarely free to spend a whole day at home writing. There is always something going on, meetings with my publishers, book signings, library talks, literary festivals, interviews, research, and everything else in life... I am trying to cut down on the time I spend overseas. This year we were away from home for nearly six months in total, and missed just about all of July and August here, which is the best time to be at home enjoying the garden. When I am at home, I stay in bed until late morning, answering emails and writing. If I'm feeling energetic, I get up and move into my study which is next to the bedroom where I sit at my desk and carry on. It doesn't really matter to me where I am. I write in bed, at my desk, in the car (not when I'm driving!), on the train, in cafes. I never leave the house without my ipad, and rarely go a day without writing. 

9 - Other than me would you collaborate with any other author on a novel? Alive or deceased.

Only you. Seriously, I'm intrigued by collaborators Nicci French, and Michael Stanley, and there are others. The idea of working with someone else is very appealing, but it would have to be the right person, and I think I'd be an impossible writing partner. I have no routine and am constantly changing my mind about my plots and my characters. So it's probably better for any potential writing partner if I carry on alone! That said, I'm open to suggestions... 

10 - Any other projects in the works?

Maybe.... As a creative writer, I am always thinking up ideas. For the time being, I'm busy enough with Geraldine Steel and Lucy Hall and the seven books I am still under contract to write for my publishers, but who knows what the future holds... ?

Thank you very much for interviewing me, with such interesting questions.

Links to my books, facebook, twitter and blog can all be found on my website 

Leigh and me back in May 2015

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Spectre (James Bond) - Film Review

Went to see the latest Daniel Craig Bond movie last night - Spectre.

My gf and I went to see it at an old fashioned cinema in Elland called The Rex Cinema, which only has one screen but more charm than the multiplexes and a lot cheaper.  Only Eight pound for both of us in.  In the big cinemas it's usually about Nine pounds for one person.
It was an experience harking back to the old days.  The Rex also has an old organ and as we walked in the organist was playing old James Bond themes.  This was also played at the interval in the middle of the film.  Yes some old cinemas like The Rex still has an interval whereby a woman comes in and sells icecream,  plus let's the audience go to the toilets and get drinks.   Even hot drinks!

It all added to a better cinema experience.

Anyway onto the film which is Daniel Craigs forth venture as ultimate womanising secret agent James Bond - 007.
I have to admit I've really enjoyed Daniel as James Bond in all but one film which was Quantum of Solice which didn't engage me as much as Casino Royal, Skyfall and this Spectre.
If this is Daniels last outing as Bond as rumoured, then it will be a shame although this movie ties the other Bond movies of his together due (SPOILERS) to the other bad guys from his previous films who worked for Christop Waltz villain Blofeld  and part of his plan to bring down Bond.
It will also be a shame as they have world built so much with the new M - Ralph Fiennes, new Miss Moneypenny - Naomie Harris, and new Q - Ben Wishaw - all of which were only introduced in the last film Skyfall and all have larger roles in this one.

The movie feels like the older Sean Connery Bond films with sly nods to the past yet a new take on them.

From the excellent opening scene in new Mexico as he does a favour for an old friend it's the usual action Bond fare flitting from one exotic location to another (this annoyed me slightly as one glance from the screen and it's - "crap where is he now and why" - ha).

This film also introduces Daniel Craigs Bond with his best henchman to fight, Mr Hinx - David Bautista(from Guardians of the Galaxy) who seems to be a cross between old foes Oddjob and Jaws and keeps coming back.

I won't go into too much plot detail your best watching it.

Overall - An excellent Bond film which connects to Daniel Craigs other Bond films and seems to tie them up making you think it's his last one.  If it is they should rest Bond for a few years to refresh.  Probably best Bond for a while.

Score -   9/10

Monday, 2 November 2015

Ghost Hunt - Sheffield Fire and Police Museum

Hi guys

As it was Halloween what better way to celebrate than to go on a ghost hunt.  I hadn't really been on one before although went to a mini hunt at the Patricia Adams-Wright Author event on the 29th of October which was good too.

My gf Rach, her sister Becky, cousin Kim and friends Claire and Jenny went to Sheffield fire and police museum.

Nervously we arrived at the museum which was situated next to a busy city road.  Immediately I thought there would be too much noise pollution.   In that respect I was right as it was quite noisy.  Plus there was the danger a car could crash into the building as this had happened twice in last year.

We were shown to a nice room where other guests were waiting and there was food and drinks.  The Seeking Spirits team showed us around the museum which had two parts - one side was where the fire station was situated.  The other side was smaller this was the police side.  This had small cells where in some cases 16 prisoners shared a tiny cell.

It was a really nice museum with old fire engines and police vehicles plus old fireman outfits.  Although it did feel slightly spooky.

After the tour we had some food - a great spread and some yummy curry to keep us warm.  We then went to the first floor to have an induction and we were blessed.  We then separated into teams.  Two Seeking Spirits members to each team.

We started of in the Fire Station garages and against my better judgement did a Ouiji board.  Nothing much happened so we tried a glass.  Eventually a spirit briefly came through.  It moved the table and glass slightly but nothing much else so we moved down to the other side of the garage.

There the table went bat shit and moved onto two legs - this was weird as when you pushed down there was a force behind it.  We then went back onto the Ouiji board where a sprit which wouldn't give a name asked to speak to Claire.   We discovered it was another spirit teasing us.

We moved onto one of the most haunted parts of the building - the cells.  This we were told housed a bad spirit by the name of Caine who had the reputation of lightly strangling guests, mainly women and pulling hair.
When we got to the cell there was a very cold atmosphere and we started doing a table session which was very impressive and went onto one leg and even led us into the next room - a serial killer armoury room.
Eventually we went back to Caines cell but the atmosphere was warm although we did try to get Caine to touch one of us - no luck.

After a break in which we had some snacks and buns we made our way to the first floor.
We started in the séance room but had no luck although there were some creepy looking dolls and Kim did a mirror stare which after a while made her look distorted and her eyes had sunken in like a skull.
Whilst in the room the we could here another group above us having a lot of look with the table tipping.
The next room which had uniforms in was slightly better.  There were a few noises in the room and there was faint tapping on the the table.

Next was the second floor which was meant to have the most activity especially on the corridor and a bedroom with a spooky manaquin in.  Sadly in the bedroom, the corridor and the other rooms there was no activity except the table started moving only slightly.   We was dissapointed as the other groups had quite a bit of activity on this floor.  Before long at 2am we were to leave (after a closing spell).

Overall a very good night and quite funny.  I wasn't as scared as I thought I would be and still open minded to the spiritual side and events.  There were enough strange events going on to make me believe the place to be haunted and not a fix as I thought when I went in.   There were things you couldn’t explain - like the force behind the tables.
My only gripe about it is the equipment - we just had tables, Ouiji boards, our cameras/camera phones, our torches and K2 energy meters.
I was expecting night vision video cameras,  thermal imaging cameras and even voice recorders - but no.

We will definitely be attending more of these including the much talked about 30 East Street in Pontefract which was on Most Haunted the other week.  A member of Seeking Spirits had been the other week and had a marble thrown at his head.

Here are some pics of the event:

Caines cell


Table tipped