An Interview With….

When I made the decision to start writing a book blog it was as a medium to help me get my thoughts and opinions on the books I was reading out there. Over time it has evolved and turned into a way for me to meet like-minded individuals, find dozens of inspirations for books to read and also helped me showcase the work of indie authors. Just a couple of weeks ago I reviewed the ‘Americosis’ by Haydn Wilks. He was kind enough to give up some of his time for a quick interview for the blog and here’s what he had to say.

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If you had to use three words to describe your book ‘Americosis Vol.1’ to someone who was contemplating reading it, which words would you use?

Judging from feedback I’ve gotten from readers so far, ‘vulgar’, ‘violent’ and ‘wild’ seem to crop up a lot. Whether you consider those adjectives to be positive or negative should give you a good idea of whether you’ll enjoy the book or not!

Do you have a routine or a special place that you do the majority of your writing and how do you overcome writer’s block?

I try to just force myself into writing as often as possible. I’ll often go to a coffee shop to write, as I find knowing I’m basically paying to be somewhere with the purpose of writing makes me less likely to get distracted. In the same way, I find I get a lot more done following a method of doing a first draft by hand and then typing it up on a computer later. Writing on computer, it’s far too easy to go back and change stuff as you’re going along, spend ages rewording the same few sentences over and over again, then just click onto Facebook or Reddit and lose an hour clicking links, watching clips and reading articles. Writer’s block isn’t so much of a problem as just getting the work done; I’ve lots of ideas I’d like to write about, sitting down and getting them written is the hard part

Is there any particular authors or books that have inspired you? And what is it about their writing that you love so much?

I really got obsessed with Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis when I first read their books as a teenager, than a few years later I did the same thing with Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski. I think Palahniuk and Easton Ellis’ books have an air of cynicism that was irresistible to my angsty teenage self, while the back attraction with Kerouac and Bukowski is how they weave fictional narratives out of their own real-life experiences.

Americosis has a lot of storylines going on, how did you come up with the plot and interweave them together so well?

Thanks for saying they came together well! Americosis is the second book I’ve put out, and my first novel, The Death of Danny Daggers, also focused on a large cast of characters whose stories overlap and interweave. I think in some ways it felt more instinctive to me to do that, rather than focusing on a smaller number of characters. Maybe it’s kind of an attention deficit kind of thing, wanting to jump between lots of different stories, and I think with the first book more than Americosis, it was kind of reflecting the way everyone you ever meet now ends up on your Facebook friends list or permanently connected to you in some way. You meet someone in a bar on holiday, have a fun night, add them on Facebook and never speak to or see them again, but you’ll have this constant stream of updates about their life – I guess this idea of expanded social networks is something that’s worked its way into my writing. As for the plot itself, it was a gradual idea that kind of snowballed over time as I would add more and more notes about it until I had enough elements to work with that I decided to sit down and start writing it.

One of the things I loved about Americosis was that it pulled me in enough to want to read more, what would you say the trick is to engaging your audience in a novella?

I’m glad you think so! My first attempts to write something were all screenplays, and something that I’ve carried over from the reams of screenplay writing guides I pored over as a teenager were each scene needing to have some kind of purpose. I ended up cutting tens of thousands of unnecessary words from my last novel, and it made me release that in a novel you may have way more space to go off on tangents and divert from the plot, but scenes still need to have some kind of relevance to be engaging. I think with the first volume of Americosis, having lots of different strands and characters that I want to introduce that will be built on more in the rest of series, it was quite easy to make the novella very fast-paced.

I believe you’re currently penning the 2nd volume to Americosis, can you give us an idea of what we can expect?

I’m nearing the end of the writing and editing process, I’m hoping Volume 2 will be out within the next few weeks. It’s carrying on directly from the end of Volume 1, so all the story strands that are introduced there are continuing, but it’s going to become bigger as well, covering more of America, both in terms of the story’s geography and the kind of characters included. In Volume 1, the time traveller who’s come to save America says he’s gained all his knowledge of American culture from movies; in Volume 2, he decides there’s a particular group of movie superheroes who he needs to reach and a supervillain that he needs to take out, not releasing they’re all just actors. And Hank is in hot pursuit, so you can expect some action-packed scenes where those two collide. Back in New York, the virus is spreading further and further, and John Baldini decides to target his estrange wife, Erica. It’d be giving too much away to say what goes down between those two!

What are you reading at the moment? Are there any books due to be released that you’re looking forward to?

I’ve just started reading David Mitchell’s ‘The Bone Clocks’, and found it really engaging so far. In general, it takes me a while to get around to books, so I don’t keep an eye on the upcoming release lists; I’m much more likely to hear about a book through reading reviews when it’s just come out, or pick up on a recommendation from a friend. A couple of books I’m looking forward to reading when I get around to them are the autobiography of Frank Turner, an English singer-songwriter who went from a moderately successful but really good post-hardcore band to selling out Wembley Arena with his solo stuff. I’m sure his years of roughing it, sleeping on sofas and touring the world playing shows will make for interesting reading. And I just heard the other day about a writer from my hometown of Caerphilly, Thomas Morris, who’s written a short story collection set there called ‘We Don’t Know What We’re Doing’ that’s gotten good reviews, I’ll definitely be interested to check that out.

 Any final words?

If anyone reading this is interested in checking out Americosis Vol. 1, the eBook is now available completely free from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. Volume 2 will hopefully be out by the end of the month, early September at the latest. And you can also get my first book, The Death of Danny Daggers, as a paperback or eBook in all the same places!

You can read more about Haydn here http://www.haydnwilks.com/ which also includes links to the places you can buy his work.

If you’re an indie author and would like me to review your work then please do get in touch.

Happy reading fellow bookworms.

Georgina

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Addicted to Death – A Review

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Imagine a world where genetically modified fruit and vegetables have advanced so much that they can live life as a normal human being. Yes, that’s what you get with this book. I realise it may sound far-fetched or even a little stupid. But actually it makes for a very surprising read. Addicted to Death by Matthew Redford starts off with the brutal murder of two eggs Benedict and Darcy Blacktail. It is down to DI Willie Wortel (a carrot) to find the murderer and bring them to justice alongside his faithful work colleague Dorothy (a regular human being)

But Willie has his work cut out when four of the countries well known chefs receive death threats, and when another body turns up inside the Strawberry Strip Club, Wortel has to question whether they’re linked. After a while I began to forget that the characters were food, with the exception of a few food related traits, they’re written very human. But the thing I perhaps found most enjoyable about this was the humour, which vastly improves when Oranges and Lemons come into it. At times I felt like I was reading dialogue that could have easily have been a scene in a film like The Naked Gun or Airplane.

There are plenty of subplots going on (the relationship between Wortel and Warren) and the ever present danger of MadCow McBeef being released from prison which just add to the nightmare of a week Wortel finds himself having. Although on the surface this is a book that could be easily passed over as silly or with no real substance, it actually packs an enjoyable punch. But looking at things more deeply, you could also say this book looks at the attitudes of modern society to anyone who doesn’t fit into their standard for ‘normal’ and the levels of tolerance surrounding people who are ‘different’.

A somewhat surprising novel with plenty of laughs and page turning slapstick drama.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5         

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‘Meet Ketchup, Gravy and Béarnaise. Better known as the KGB.’

Published by Clink Street Publishing and is available in Paperback (RRP £8.99) and eBook (RRP £4.99) to learn more about the author head on over to http://www.matthewredford.com/

Happy Reading fellow bookworms. If you are an author and would like me to review your book then please feel free to get in touch with me.

Georgina

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Reading Challenge – A Mystery or Thriller

Book Number Fourteen – The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

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The book first came to my attention on one of those Buzzfeed lists that informs you of the ‘Books you should not miss this year’ or something similar. I’d picked up and read the blurb many times during my trips to Waterstones and the fact that you don’t get much from it only piqued my interest more, it was upon seeing the glowing praise from Joss Whedon that convinced me to finally take the plunge and hand over my £8.99. I’m a self-professed Whedonite so I hold his word in high esteem.

The book starts off open enough that you’re not really sure what’s going on, again I’ll relate to something Joss Whedon related and openly admit that at first I thought this was some type of government programme similar to the Initiative but doing experiments on people instead of monsters and demons. But as the book progressed I realised that it was a post-apocalyptic world where humanity seems to have been wiped out by a virus. Yes, this is a zombie book, but quite fresh in the sense that it’s not like other books in the genre. For starters you have Melanie a young girl of 10 years of age whom the book very much centres around. Perhaps it’s the voice of innocence, of a girl who has been closed off from the world that makes this such a compelling read, either way it’s hard not to feel some empathy for her, even when you (and Melanie) realises that she’s a ‘hungry’ The book has a few other central characters too, Sergeant Parks who has been tasked with the job of securing the children in the compound and ensuring the safety of all those who dwell in it from the hungries roaming outside the walls, Miss Justineau a teacher who is meant to assess the children and report back to the cold yet driven Doctor Caldwell.

When the compound is overthrown by a group of Junkers (humans who have decided to live wild outside of the Beacon – the place of safety) Melanie, Justineau, Parks, Caldwell and reluctant young soldier Gallagher take to the road on foot. There’s plenty of drama and tension along the way and the author does a great job of really developing the characters and changing the dynamics of the relationships.

There are moments that I found difficult to read, the sections where Caldwell discusses the science and biology of the virus, whilst clearly well researched, just prevented the narrative of the book to flow as smoothly as it could. There are two particularly eerie moments in the book, which I’m sure you will know what they are if and when you read it. The great thing about this book is that it’s easy to imagine in your mind, it’s written in a visual and cinematic way. So I conveyed no surprise when I was told recently that the author was writing the book alongside the script for the movie adaptation (She Who Brings Gifts due to be released in 2016) it really is easy to imagine this as a film. Also props to the author for setting it in the UK, it could easily have been another American based tale, but I appreciated the avoidance of the cliché.

Although incredibly well written and unexpected the ending just felt a little flat, and whilst thought provoking and kind of despairing (which I feel it was meant to be) there were just a few things I don’t feel were fully resolved and a couple of moments that seemed to lack progression.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

‘Of course she’d save the kids if she could, if there was any way, but you can’t save people from the world. There’s nowhere else to take them.’

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Happy reading folks.

Georgina

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Americosis Vol.1 – A Review

I think sometimes people underestimate novellas especially if it’s going to be part of series. You have to pen a story and characters that are engaging enough to make people want to come back for the second and third parts. So when I read the blurb about Americosis, it captured my interest enough that I knew I couldn’t say no when asked to write a review for it.

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The opening involves a woman desperately seeking another mate to pass an infection on to before it takes over her body and destroys her, a naked man appearing to a woman named Maybelline claiming to be the ‘Saviour’ from the future and a presidential candidate who claims to be speaking to God via the Archangel Gabriel.

The book is dark and humorous, and plenty of ‘what the hell’ moments – so it really reeled me in. At one point the writing style makes you feel as though for a second you are the infected woman passing this yet unnamed infection onto a man. It’s moments like this that kept the story fresh, but perhaps the most enjoyable factor was genuinely not knowing would happen next.

It’s safe to say Americosis lured me in, piqued my interest and left me wanting more. I can’t wait to read the next part. If you like weird, you’ll like this.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

If you would like to learn more about the author Haydn Wilks and his other work then head on over to http://www.haydnwilks.com/

Happy reading bookworms!

Georgina

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