Tricks of the Trade: An interview with Euan B. Pollock

LP: So Euan, where did the idea for this story come from?

EBP: My inspiration to write Tricks of the Trade came from spotting a way a locked room mystery could be done which at least I hadn’t seen before. I’ve always read and enjoyed murder-mysteries, trying to untangle the various clues throughout the novel and see which ones are red herrings and which point towards what actually took place. And having found, I think, a straightforward yet puzzling method of committing a crime, I decided to write my very own murder-mystery novel.

LP: Where do you find inspiration?

EBP: As for inspiration to write in general, I’ve always been writing, since I was very young (my mum apparently has some stories I wrote when I was six. Full of dragons, wizards and spelling errors…). Even the career I chose reflected that. I studied to become a lawyer and practised for about 8 and a half years, in Scotland and abroad, and that involved a lot of writing. In December last year I finished work on a big case, and had a three month break (I hadn’t had a holiday in quite a while). I went to El Salvador to house-sit for a friend. Without anything concrete to do, and having just come from working long, long days, I decided to try my hand at writing a book. Tricks of the Trade was the result.

LP: Does the book have a theme?

EBP: While it’s a classic murder-mystery, I’ve also tried to deal with an issue close to my heart, concerning masculinity. My main character, and narrator, is in essence a young male, living through all the inward doubts and questions and outward expressions of confidence that come with that. I’m currently writing the second book in this series (they’ll all be murder-mysteries) and it’s a theme I’m looking to expand on.

Check it out here….

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Tricks of the Trade: New Release: Cosy Crime

 

In this Edinburgh legal/detective drama, readers get a refreshing, modern take on the cozy-crime mode of crime delivery. Well written and fast-paced, the story hits its stride in chapter two and holds on to the reader until the big reveal. For fans of Agatha Christie, Robert Barnard, Minna Lundgren, Ann Cleeves and M.C. Beaton, this new writer is a ‘must follow’.

I didn’t have any preconceptions going into this story and wasn’t sure what the angle or style would be until the story got going. It starts off with a trainee solicitor complaining about his lot, scratching his head and musing. But that’s not a bad thing. Think back to Dorothy L Sayers’ Gaudy Night, ten thousand words on her memories of her old college and a clock, before anything happens, and that’s a classic!

But somewhere a few pages in, out protagonist, Stewart, starts confiding his thoughts in his friends and then we get to see the wheels turning. There’s been a potentially suspicious death and the as the solicitors responsible for executing the will, Stewart’s firm has a strange interest in making sure they know what happened because this dead man has a proviso. If he commits suicide, he doesn’t want his family to inherit. And there’s the perfect cozy crime set up.

The author works the premise well. Once the story starts flowing the writing is excellent and fast-paced. It has the feel of a book written in one go, a polished first draft, which keeps the excitement the author felt while writing, still intact.

Readers who have been enjoying the resurgence in interest and re-publication of some out of print oldies will appreciate several elements here – the cozy crime angle, the whodunit, and also the classic locked-room approach. The story wraps up nicely with a closed room Cluedo style ending and although there is a little police procedural action, only the bare minimum to make it more believable. So have a look. It might be just your thing.

Click here to read a free sample…

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Published by Endeavour Press 19th January 2018
http://www.euanbpollock.com

 

Writing is both therapy and addiction: Robb T. White

Join us this week with Guest Blogger Robb T. White, author or Dangerous Women and Perfect Killer.  

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People often ask, what’s my attitude towards “creative writing”? Well… It’s an ambivalent attitude. I see it as both therapy and addiction. It takes me out of my self and away from my consciousness of this world, my own limitations, my failures as a person, and being trapped in the bubble of my own life. Who can see the world as it is and not feel overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness, impatience, and loathing? Writing anything removes you for a while from the sordid and the tedious both. It’s ironic for me because I despise actors as the some of the most useless of human beings on the planet. Yet to be involved in creating and deploying fictional beings across an imaginary landscape invented from one’s own mind is a joy, sometimes indescribable, comparable to a junkie’s fix. (That is, when it goes well.) But to what purpose? Indie crime writers don’t make money and there’s no fame to speak of. You can get some kudos from readers on Goodreads and Amazon, which I admit are flattering for the moment, but there are the negative critics (bloggers and readers) to offset them. It’s like running in place: some exercise for the body but you go nowhere.

What about crime writing? Now this is… niche writing, rarely more than entertainment of a low-brow sort, although some crime fiction is superior to so-called literary writing. I’ll take a third-rate crime novel over a formulaic academic or mainstream novel any day. Marlon Brando once said there’s nothing that turns the stomach faster than some celebrity talking about him- or herself on late-night TV. Nothing’s changed. Novels about middle-class relationships don’t interest me unless done with a scalpel as in Tirza, by the Dutch novelist Grunberg. I once devoured true-crime paperbacks, lamenting that the majority were so pedestrian in style despite the flamboyant subject matter. It isn’t that every criminal per se is complex. Far from it. Most are obtuse, empathy-deficient, and lacking in the emotional layering of ordinary people; they deserve the contempt society has for them (namely, prisons). Crime fiction, however, comes with an expectation of larger-than-life characteristics, plot violence (a kind that affords a “new” view of reality, not just cursing, stealing, and killing), and gutsy rule-breaking in narrative point of view. Both Dostoevsky and Camus qualify as crime-fiction writers in that sense. Besides, no one disputes Milton’s Satan is more interesting than the dullard “hero” Adam.

What writers got you writing?  I’m still enamored of my usual favorites, those beautiful writers like Thomas Harris, Martin Cruz Smith, and David Lindsey. I should mention the anti-influence of those other writers, whom a reader can cull from any New York Time’s bestseller list. Those Christie imitators and the endless Dreck of cozies cranked out like spoiled sausage ever since. If you crack open ten novels from the mystery section of any library shelf or supermarket rack, you’ll see in 9 what’s waiting for you from the first page on: the same dull writing, cute plot escapes and solutions, chatty (or comfortably nonconformist) narrating, and stockpiled banalities.

 

Lissa: Thanks Robb. I have to say, I agree on all points. Screw boring books. 

 

Gritty Mid Western Crime Fiction: Robb T. White

I came across a couple of titles this week that had slipped my attention. These two books from Robb T. White are full of red-blooded anti-hero protagonists, the kind good old fashioned pulp fiction loves and my own Lilly Lessard would run into.

The first book, Dangerous Women was brought out by Class Act Books. Here’s the blurb:

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Violence, they often say, is a male prerogative. But someone forgot to tell women like “Baby” Frontanetta in the first story of the collection, or Francie, for whom robbing an armored car isn’t that big a deal, if only her lover will “man up” to assist her. Even parricide isn’t beyond the pale for her. There are the twins Bella and Donna, aptly named, as the narrator of “the Birthmark” will discover. There’s semi-literate Bobbie from West Virginia, a gorgeous lap dancer in a sleazy club in Cleveland, who knows what price men will put on owning beauty like hers. Come meet them all—the hustlers, con artists, thieves, and all-around trouble-makers; you’ll see what the women in these pages are capable of—but beware: they are not your mother’s “ladies.”

 

 

The second is Perfect Killer.

UntitledJade Hui is an FBI agent on the way down – until, that is, her supervising agent assigns her a triple-murder investigation. She soon must overcome bureaucratic obstacles to catch a free-roaming, amoral killer who leaves neither pattern nor motive in his wake. Her suspect is not a typical spree killer or psychotic fantasy killer. Born into wealth and privilege, gifted with great intelligence and strength, Charles Wöissell has his own reasons for travelling across America selecting victims. Wöissell intends to burn every bridge left – home, family, safety – for revenge against the one woman who has put herself in his path.

 

 

Isn’t it great when you find a new/old good book!

Robb T. White will be dropping by next week to give us an insight into his inspiration and some tips on getting a book (or two) finished.

Travelling with your laptop

Jetting off to visit friends – hopefully, friends with a spare room, if not, at least a comfortable sofa bed – is one of the highlights of being freelance… and being a writer. I’m all about getting to the airport early, clearing security with more than an hour to spare, staking out a good bar table with a power source and settling in to do some serious, distraction-free work. But after a few delays, and one too many strong coffees, working on your laptop starts to take its strain.

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Oh no – not you again!

If it were only typing, it might not be too bad, but these days, writing means finding images, resizing, editing and moving stuff around. It means formatting, more formatting, and even more formatting and I’m doing the two-finger-dance on a touchpad the size of a packet of Camel Wides… Not that I smoke Camel Wides anymore (does anyone? Do they even still make them?).

Do I have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?
I recently did a 3-hour delay in Stuttgart (lovely airport, btw) and I’m not joking, by the time they called the gate I was relieved. My hands had started to take on a kind of clawed raven look and the thought crossed my mind, “have I just given myself repetitive strain injury from trying to re-size an image for Twitter?”

In case you’re wondering, the general symptoms are; tenderness or pain in the wrist, with a throbbing or pulsating sensation, tingling and a loss of sensation.
Yeah, I looked it up.

But even if you don’t have CTS, which I don’t and didn’t, there are exercises you can do to relieve soreness in your hands from spending too much time clicking. I checked them out too. They do help somewhat but they’re not the kind of exercises you’d want to do in public.

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One involves pulling your index finger backward, which might make your seat neighbor think you’re about to flick a bogey at him.

The next one is a fist… I probably don’t need to explain why that’s bad. And finally, there’s the one where you hold your hand up in the air and rotate all the fingers in tiny circles individually.

Yeah, I accidentally ordered a beer that way, so not all bad.

But seriously, none of these really did anything to help my poor right hand, which by the time I landed had swelled up with cabin pressure and water retention until it looked like a novelty Incredible Hulk hand. I got into Heathrow and headed to the city, but despite the 20-minute train ride, was in no mood to open my laptop. That’s okay, I’m not so obsessive that I need to write on short train rides, but I was planning to do some writing over the weekend. There’s only so much coffee, sushi, and pedicures you can handle in 48 hours and fortunately, the person I was visiting is a late sleeper and knowing this, I planned on getting a couple of hours in before she even woke up.

But the next morning, before she rose, I spent most of my time searching out options to alleviate hand pain. Those in the know, architects, designers, and gamers, it would seem, are all about the ergonomic mouse (is the plural of mouse still mice in this context?). Anyway, after a few minutes research, I was ready to buy one, but after a few more minutes research, I realized, I had no idea where to start in this new field. Because it’s harvest time here, and the mice or mouses are all over the place. Seriously, they have categories and sub-categories; medical mouse, productivity mouse, productivity-gaming mouse. That second one sounds like a superhero. But seriously, you do need to do a little ergonomic mouse research before you decide on one.mice_21

Anyway, I’ve discovered, I’m an ergonomic productivity mouse kind of girl and without naming any names, it’s got Bluetooth and it’s wireless and it’s only just occurred to me, that it doesn’t look like a mouse at all. Right. Without the tail attaching it to my laptop, it doesn’t look anything like a mouse.

But thanks to overnight delivery, I had my new pet ready for the trip home and as it turned out, a relatively delay-free hour in the airport bar. So I got it out and a sat there with my right hand comfortably positioned at around 45 degrees to my side, with a firm but loose grip and relaxed shoulders and wrist muscles and I must say I really noticed the difference.

One thing I must mention. When they call your gate and you jump up. Do remember the thing isn’t attached.

Thank you, nice Grannie, from Texas or thereabouts for pointing out that I had forgotten my “compact”. Much appreciated.

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Hulk signing out…

Pretty Nick Worthy (Clickbait)

Hey you there! Yeah, you, reading the Internet! Look over here! I know you want to read the news or check out the crazy antics of America’s cats, but you’ll have to wait for a moment while I draw you into my website with headlines about items I know you’re interested in reading about. It’s […]

via Did cavemen create the original clickbait? And is it the secret to staying healthy? — nickclaussen.com

Bunnies Belong in Fields, not Mansions

It was announced last night that the last Playboy Bunny Girl, who was part of a specialist breeding program in the 60s, has passed away peacefully in her enclosure at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, California. Candy Fabulous, 61 – real name, Beryl Arkwright and originally from Sheffield – died after a long […]

via Last surviving Bunny Girl bred in captivity dies at The Playboy Mansion — The Whitechapel Whelk

Introducing… Citizen Kill

Stephen Clark’s debut novel, Citizen Kill, is coming out July 4th 2017 and he’s been kind enough to give me a sneak-peak of the book.

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In a not-too-alternative-present, Citizen Kill tells the story of how a new administration reboots the War on Terror after the president’s young son is killed in an explosion. A CIA program targeting U.S. citizens suspected of radicalizing Muslims, has more than just re-education in mind. In this version of events, these people are presumed guilty as soon as flagged and to save any doubt, approved for assassination.

CIA black-ops agent Justin Raines is among the recruits in the new program, but haunted by a botched assignment overseas, Justin has a developed a healthy scepticism for authority and the new administration. And when one of his targets, turns out to be respected educator, who he believes is innocent, he grows disillusioned. Justin knows, if he doesn’t find a way to prove, beyond a doubt, her innocence, he’ll still be expected to eliminate her. And if he doesn’t, they will both be assassinated.

“Washington stops at nothing to protect the nation from terrorists, while Justin Raines risks everything to protect the nation from Washington.”

Check it out on Goodreads here

http://stephenclarkbooks.com

30492f_b6a0fbd90ae047a481eb9df6567d62cf~mv2.jpgStephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com.

As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of nonprofit services.