Body in the library and thriller in handbag

Karl Holton

 

 

 

 

From a darkened corner of the room a figure appeared. ‘The Weight of Shadows’ is all he said, before collapsing at my feet; an ornate handled knife buried in his back. What could the victim’s last words possibly mean? 

Greenway House

I met with author, Karl Holton, at Greenway House, and he had staged a dramatic introduction to his new book.  He is an Agatha Christie fan and it seemed fitting to visit her holiday home.  The house is deemed ‘the loveliest place in the world’, on the website, and it certainly lived up to expectation. I marvelled at the glorious view of the River Dart. Appropriately, Karl wanted to conduct the interview in the library. I inspected the library for a body, again, but it was safe.  The light and airy library seemed a fitting place to inspire the great Agatha Christie.  Karl waxed lyrical about the house and gave me some interesting facts about the great author. 

Karl:  Did you know that this house inspired Dead Man’s Folly? It’s one of the Poirot novels and it was the last ever ‘Poirot’ made by David Suchet playing the role of the great detective. They made it right here in the house and this was what she did so well; she adapted what she knew directly into the narrative.

Jessie:  No, I wasn’t aware of that. I love the Poirot novels – they are great fun.  My husband can watch Poirot programmes all day. Who is your favourite TV Poirot? I like Albert Finney. I’m not sure if that was TV or film.

Karl: For me, David Suchet is the quintessential ‘Poirot’.

Jessie:  Of course, yes he was brilliant – he was Poirot.  We digress, can you tell me about ‘The Weight of the Shadows’?

Karl delved into his rucksack.  Strangely enough, his rucksack was full of his favourite Agatha Christie novels, and he proceeded to display some of the novel on the table.  Finally, the actor, who had performed earlier, reappeared with a copy of Karl’s novel. The cover of ‘The Weight of the Shadows’ is modern and suggests a fast-paced plot set in London. 

Karl: At one level ‘The Weight of the Shadows’ is an entertaining crime thriller mystery with plot twists and turns. At another level it is the first six days at the beginning of a series that introduces some interesting characters and a narrative that has subtle and, I hope, thought provoking subjects.

Jessie:  Crime thrillers are always popular.  It’s a great genre to establish a fanbase. What have the reviewers said about your new book?

Smiling, Karl started to recall some of the reviews. 

Karl: “an intriguing plot, thoughtful, profound themes, complex troubling characters, and language that make us shudder for its honesty, clarity, and confidence” – Piaras O Cionnaoith

“irresistible book, impossible to put down” – Bookgirl Sulagna

“a story that is intense and heart-pounding!” – Elaine Emmerick

Jessie:  I’m impressed that you have already commenced your second book. We are in an ideal place to read.  Can you read an extract from the book to tempt the reader?

Karl:  It’s a real privilege to read here in Agatha Christie’s library.

Benedict was motionless with one thought. Never give up.

She pushed the tip of the blade in and under the skin on his chest, near his heart.

Karl: This extract is only a few words, but the importance of these at the start of the narrative is significant.

Jessie: A great choice – you certainly hook the reader into the narrative.  I can tell that you enjoyed constructing the narrative and the characters.  How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Karl: The euphoria of finishing was quickly met by the realisation that as an indie author the work had just started. Apart from the marketing, reviews, social media etc. I remembered that I needed to start working on the second book in the series.

Given the second book in the series starts the day after the end of this first book I’ve not really had the opportunity to miss the characters.

Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why?  This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.  

Karl: If I were choosing an author it would be Agatha Christie. We could discuss the pace of the plot and sub-plots.

If it were someone famous (and alive) I’d ask Stephen Fry to review the book. Within the series I’m going to try to examine and compare some cognitive and emotive subjects through the plot, characters and narrative. I’d really like to discuss these with him.

Karl Holton

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?

Karl: Well I hope it has a plot that keeps you guessing and is enjoyable as it begins to reveal itself. If you read some of the reviews you will notice that it’s not clear what the connections are at the start and then the plot arcs entwine; that’s very deliberate.

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Karl: ‘Nice nails’ – you’ll have to read the book to see why I might have written that down.

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Karl: This is a really interesting question because it will very much depend upon what type of author you want to be. A full-time author who wants a publisher to do everything for them will have a very different set of challenges compared to an indie with a job who is happy selling a few books a month. I’m going to give you my answer based upon what I am, which is an indie who is trying to make this my full-time job.

My single biggest challenge is becoming known enough so that people take a chance and buy, read and review the book. As an indie author, you have no one to help this happen so you need to do it and this takes a significant amount of both time and commitment. In a world where we have over 200k books published in the UK per year and possibly 1 million in the US, just being seen is a challenge that any aspiring author should not understate.

I have discussed this issue with other authors, both published and indie. Personally, I think many really talented authors will either give up or just never be seen because they get lost in this ‘jungle’.

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

Karl: Get an editor.

About Karl

Karl is a chartered accountant who previously worked in financial markets for over thirty years. He has collected books his whole life with a focus on London and crime fiction. He is married with two children and lives in Surrey.

Karl is very animated when talking about his book. It is clear he is dedicated to his writing and is very industrious.  Many reviews say that the book is ‘spine tingling’ and ‘irresistible’   I do hope that Karl’s debut novel is successful and wish him the best of luck with his novel.

Contacts:

Blog = http://karlholton.com

Twitter = @KarlHolton

Facebook = @KarlHoltonAuthor

Email = info@thuja.co

 

Please see all my interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Lights, Camera, Action!

That Summer at The Seahorse Hotel

That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel

Adrienne Vaughan

 

 

 

 

 

Lights, Camera, Action: ‘Addicted to theatre and film’

Open Adrienne Vaughan’s That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel to enter the world of Hollywood glamour.  Allow the camera to reveal a bird’s eye view of the enchanting Irish coast. Observe the long shot of the ‘regal and resplendent’ Georgian mansion.  Pan across to the sea lapping, like a temptress, on the shore.  Dissolve to the medium closeup of a red-haired beauty sitting at the water’s edge like a mermaid.  Cut to the hero and fade…  Don’t worry if you can’t imagine these scenes, just let Adrienne Vaughan’s words roll into your imagination and paint the picture for you. Let this author enchant you with the setting and enigmatic characters as she adds colour.

‘ “Is it a mermaid?” the little girl whispered.”’

Enjoy the sight of ‘the sun dripping over the horizon as the night’s velvet promise smeared the purple sky.’  As you visualise the scene, you will be intrigued by the hidden secrets.  For instance, who is Mia’s father, and how does this relate to the lyrical prologue at the beginning of the narrative?  Mysteries linked to the characters’ lives and the history of the place are cleverly interwoven into the fabric of the narrative.

Fairy godfather ‘resplendent in vintage smoking jacket and silk cravat’

Like a skilled seamstress, Adrienne Vaughan has sewn the narrative together.  But, everything is held together by the wonderfully flamboyant Archie, a Hollywood screen legend.  Before dying, Archie, the fairy godfather, weaves his magic and leaves threads of happiness for the characters in the story. Oh, how I adore Archie’s philosophy of life!  He is ‘teasingly playful and lethal at the same time’ – he even knows how manipulate destiny.  He has enjoyed a decadent lifestyle at Galty Manor, but he has shared it with the people he loves – and made them all his forever family.  And his home is a haven for lost souls.  He knows how to make everyone feel better, including the actress, Fenella, who has ‘beauty and brains’.  For Archie, ‘Champagne makes everything better.’ Fenella and Trixie concur that ‘a girl needs champagne, vitamin C and good mates’ when Mia is heartbroken.

Is Archie Mia’s father?  This question bubbles throughout the novel.  Such is the charm of Archie that one wills him to be the father. Mia is tormented by the same question.  Archie sets up meetings designed to make Mia evaluate on her own life. Archie compares ten year old Pearl to the younger Mia and says the child is ‘amazing’.   Mia reflects ‘when do you grow out of being amazing’.  It would seem Archie orchestrates encounters and experiences to help his precious loved ones to remember who they are.  Indeed, he writes his own plays and seems to be determined to influence the events in his loved one’s lives.  I loved this hint of magic and the essence of fairy-tale running cleverly through the novel.  The novel examines the concept of family and the way others can play a significant role in a person’s life. There is a heart-warming message threaded throughout the characters’ turmoil.

Just like on the silver screen, this novel celebrates the ‘power of dreams’.  Take several leading ladies, a mermaid Cinderella and a fairy godfather.  Let the dreams take you to the magical coast of Ireland where the ocean displays ‘a myriad of colours sparkling and inviting’. But, be prepared for tales of ‘a dark stormy night’ and some dark events. This story will beguile you, as it pulls you into the drama and mystery where ‘black clouds of angry clouds split across the orange sky’. You may not want to leave ‘the busy, happy house’ unless you wander down to the summerhouse or take a trip on Archie’s yacht. You are sure to find ‘a perfect day for memory making’ when you visit the glorious house and setting.  Sadly, Archie will exit centre stage, at some stage; happily, he will have a plan for the loved ones waiting in the wings. But who will inherit his fortune and will his sister live happily ever after? What does Sister Agnes know about the past? Long after you have finished this novel, and the credits roll, you will be thinking about the magic of this story and its layers of meaning, behind the scenes.

Adrienne Vaughan

More about Adrienne Vaughan

Adrienne Vaughan has been making up stories since she could speak; primarily to entertain her sister Reta, who from a very early age never allowed a plot or character to be repeated – tough gig!
As soon as she could pick up a pen, she started writing them down. No surprise she wanted to be a journalist; ideally the editor of a glossy music and fashion magazine, so she could meet and marry a rock star – some of that came true! And in common with so many, she still holds the burning ambition to be a ‘Bond Girl’.

You can also meet Adrienne in my Chat Room.

You can contact Adrienne Vaughan at:
Website: www.adriennevaughan.com
Twitter:@adrienneauthor
Facebook: Adrienne Vaughan
List of novels written:
The Hollow Heart
A Change of Heart
Secrets of the Heart
Fur Coat & No Knickers (Short story collection)

 

Please see all my reviews at Books In Handbag and my website and blog at JessieCahalin.com.