Tuesday, 27 September 2016

YA Shot Blog Tour: Author Profile Joshua Khan

Today is the Dark Readers stop on the YA Shot blog tour..and what a tour it's been so far. The event which is in it's second year is not only a fantastic way to engage with a bunch of amazing authors but is putting libraries and their importance at the forefront...something we care a lot about here! For our stop I'm doing an author Spotlight on Joshua Khan, whose debut novel Shadow Magic comes out this October! SO let's get this Magic show on the road....

Joshua Khan was born in Britain, a land filled with ancient castles, dark forests, and tales of legendary heroes and fantastical monsters. He can tell you who King Arthur fought on Baden Hill, but can't tell you what he himself had for breakfast. So, his head stuffed with magical stories, it was inevitable that Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he'd rather live in a castle. It wouldn't have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.

You can follow him at :@WriterJoshKhan
On Shadow MagicHigh fantasy's been my first love. Shadow Magic took a long time to write. Two years, solid full time. The first version was a quest through a couple of kingdoms and the Shardlandsm, but didn't work, too sprawling. So I decided to set it all in Gehenna, and all in Castle Gloom and focus on doing one area in super-fine detail. I purposefully wrote it so BOTH are the MCs. Hence half the chapters are Thorn's POV, half are Lily's.The humour element was pretty critical, I didn't want people being frightened about the concept of living in a kingdom of the undead. The Six Princes are utterly ancient, and no-one knows the whole truth. All the different houses have their own (biased) version of the tales regarding these long ago sorcerers. But I will be revealing some critical things in DREAM MAGIC and then in BURNING MAGIC which will turn everything upside down.
I love mysteries, so Shadow Magic is like those Poirot episodes, there's been a crime committed in a lonely location so the culprit in one the people staying there. I had an awesome time writing it, but DREAM MAGIC will take it to another level.

On Characterisation:
I wanted to write about a new style of heroine. I love the kick-ass warrior types but I wanted a girl who was powerful, independent and changed her fate without picking up a sword. I'm a big fan of English history and read a lot on Elizabeth the First. She reigned 45 years, was patron to William Shakespeare and set the foundations of the empire, yet never carried a weapon. Lily Shadow is very much based on her. But Lily needed a foil, so i again dug into English lore and came up with the best outlaw there ever was, Robin Hood. He's my inspiration for Thorn, the peasant boy from Herne's Forest.

On Dream Magic: Can't give too many details away about DREAM MAGIC except it's out in April 17, but the cover's gives you a few hints of what Lily and Thorn will be up against next..And here it is in all its glory

On his inspiration to write: The Hobbit was read to me when I was about 7, and it utterly transported me to Middle Earth. i remember it clearly, sitting on the classroom floor, looking at the sun come in from the window, wondering if I might be able to spot a hobbit myself, if I was really quiet.
That was a long, long time ago and I don't think I ever really came back from that trip.

On Writing: FINISH. If you can write a whole story, beginning, middle and end, and type THE END, then you are a writer. The pay cheque will come if you carry on doing it, learning your craft. I know a fair few great writers of openings and middles, but they never reach the end of what they begin without detouring off onto a new project. No, stick with it, see it through. FINISH!!! Cannot emphasise than enough. And if, when finishing, you realise you didn't enjoy it and never want to do it again, then you've learnt something about being a writer too. If you hit writers block Simple, do something else and step away from the keyboard. I find sitting at the screen, hoping for ideas to come is the worst place to be. I get on with cooking, making, wandering the streets, even fixing stuff up allows the idea to filter through, no pressure need be applied.

What's Next:  BURNING MAGIC [Book three in the series] is on its way! I'm working on it right now and all I can tell you is it'll be set in the Sultanate of Fire. But you have to survive DREAM MAGIC first, and that's going to be INTENSE.

The YA blog shot tour continues tomorrow. Check out the YA Shot website (www.yashot.co.uk) where you can get tickets for the event, get involved on social media using the  #YAshot and #YAShot2016 hashtags and also the YA Shot Twitter Account - @YAShotMediaTeam.

P.s Please not that the information for this blog has been pulled from Johsua's Goodreads page
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Chasing Embers Blog tour: The review

Title: Chasing Embers
Author: James Bennett
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: 8th September 2016
Synopsis: Behind every myth there is a spark of truth . . .There's nothing special about Ben Garston.
Or so he'd have you believe. He won't tell you, for instance, that he's also known as Red Ben. Or that the world of myth and legend is more real than you think.
Because it's his job to keep all that a secret.
But now a centuries-old rivalry has resurfaced, and the delicate balance between his world and ours is about to be shattered.
Something is hiding in the heart of the city - and it's about to be unleashed


First up the cover was really doing this for me. I know we go on and on about not judging books by their covers but I feel like at times I know when i'm going to be drawn into a book just from the cover. It made me want to pick this up...then Dragons, so it kept going from there obviously..

This is the kind of book that I like. There is a great mix of the magic and the modern and all the rules that go with them, I also really liked that this was a new series and i had to establish all the history because it creates a different feel to something that I'm say four books into and feel a part of. It was also quite a nice touch that the folk lore and fairy tale that we all know was all mixed in to the histories..there was King Arthur...there was Gods, and this really lovely way of describing things, for example "They sprang up wherever the Fay set foot, like forest vines trailing in their wake, surrounding them in mystery". Woof that bit of imagery game me chills. Bennett has his style down and he really creates his own voice here.

Ben was built as this bad ass character. Rough around the edges...been in a few fights...seen a few things and this made him compelling. You knew you were in for a ride with him... I nearly added 'or on him' but that sounds weird...but he isss a dragon so it's sort of a legit thing to want to say so I said it anyway....and I've gone off on a tangent. Back to the book...Like any character he has a lot more to give because he cares which gets him into trouble and he has an underlying purpose...and if you annoy him he's gonna come through your window like a tone of dragon!

There was this great terminator moment that was thrown in so casually every now and then...Ben arrives all dragon, then there rises this man completely in the buff like no ones business. Because why not eh! All these little references and the ways that the mythology was incorporated into the book really worked, There was even a little story ( with pictures...clearly it doesn't take a lot for me) that I felt was a really fun moment in the book, adding those layers of depth that I look for.

I'm looking forward to more adventures with Red Ben..and i'll probably spend a lot more time thinking what it would be like to be a man dragon mythological beast...

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!


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Monday, 15 August 2016

Secrets in Stone Blog Tour with Tessa Harris

 Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour. Today I am very pleased to welcome author Tessa Harris to the blog, taking us to her Top 5 favourite haunts that feature in her Dr Thomas Silkstone mystery series. I do love a good historical exploration around a city so I might have to go have a wonder around London soon!

One of the best things about being an historical novelist has to be the research. You can lose yourself for hours amid the murder, mystery and mayhem of the past. So if, like me, you love a gruesome tale from days of yore, here are some hidden gems I’ve discovered while researching my series that features an American anatomist in 18th century England.

1.Hell-Fire Caves, West Wycombe. http://www.hellfirecaves.co.uk/

Don’t go here alone. You could easily lose yourself in the labyrinthine passages that wind deep into the Chiltern Hills. The caves date back to the mid-18th century when they were dug out by men in the pay of the notorious Sir Francis Dashwood. Journey through the Banqueting Hall and past various chambers until you reach the final destination of the Inner Temple. Reached by crossing the River Styx, this is where members of the infamous Hell-Fire Club used to hold its riotous meetings, several hundred feet below the church on top of the hill. Oh and watch out for the many ghosts that are supposed to inhabit the system. You have been warned!

2. The Old Operating Theatre and Apothecary’s Garrett, London SE1 http//www.thegarret.org.uk

Just a stone’s throw away from a busy London market and up a winding staircase, you’ll reach a temple to medical macabre. Rediscovered by chance in 1957, it’s an attic in the eaves of St Thomas’s Church in Southwark. The space is where the apothecary used to store his herbs and medicaments and a pungent smell still lingers in the air. There are terrifying instruments, too, that look more suited to torture than healing, and in the adjacent operating theatre students would cram the room to watch surgeons perform their art on patients without the help of anaesthetics.

3. Benjamin Franklin’s House, London WC2 http://www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org/site/sections/default.htm
This isn’t just the world’s only remaining house of the great American polymath – although that is, of course, remarkable in itself, but what really gets the goose-bumps going for me is the basement. During restoration of the house, in 1998, archaeologists came across a one metre deep pit containing over 1200 pieces of bone. These were the remnants of an anatomy school run from the House by William Hewson, son-in-law of Franklin’s landlady, Margaret Stevenson. Ironically Hewson died when he nicked himself with a scalpel and contracted septicemia.

4. Newgate Jail, London EC1 http://www.viaducttavern.co.uk/

On the surface, there’s nothing to tell you that you are standing on the site of what remains of one of the most notorious prisons in history when you step into The Viaduct. It’s the last surviving Victorian gin palace in London and lies opposite the Old Bailey, where Newgate Prison once stood. The beer cellars are former cells of the prison. Ask the staff nicely and they’ll take you to the beer cellars which were, in fact, the cells where many a hapless prisoner dwelt (and died) in abject misery. The cells are still dark, dank and wretched and one of them is very popular with ghost hunters.

5. Dennis Sievers House, London EC1 http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk/

Step back in time when you enter this amazingly preserved former home of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724. It was created by the late artist Dennis Sievers, who lived in the house in much the same way as its original occupants might have done in the early 18th century. He imagined how the Jervis family might eat, sleep and entertain themselves in the narrow, five-storey townhouse in Folgate Street. There’s no electricity and no talking as you tour, and the candle light and the noise of the clock ticking and the occasional sigh just adds to the extraordinary ambience. As it says on the website: “To enter its door is to pass through a frame into a painting, one with a time and life of its own.”

Secrets in the Stones, the sixth book in the Dr Thomas Silkstone Mystery series, by Tessa Harris,
published by Little Brown, is out now, price £8.99.
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