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Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Journey from First Draft to Publication with Marlene Hauser

off-island, marlene-hauser, book, blog-tour

Welcome to my blog tour stop for Off-Island by Marlene Hauser! I've got an insightful guest post to share with you from the author herself, detailing her road to publication from the very beginning to a completed, published novel.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Christmas 2018 with Prestige Hampers

prestige-hampers-christmas

It may be October but with the festive season getting longer every year and the nights really beginning to draw in, now is the perfect time to start with my content for Christmas 2018! With just over two months left until the big day, I'm treating myself to a delicious seasonal food hamper to kick off the festive season here on The Writing Greyhound!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Interview: Sarahlyn Bruck

designer-you, sarahlyn-bruck, book, blog-tour

This week's author interview welcomes Sarahlyn Bruck to The Writing Greyhound! Sarahlyn is kindly stopping by the blog for a Q&A in honour of the tour for her novel Designer You. Are you ready to delve into Sarahlyn's world? Keep on reading for the interview!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Book Review: Joseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck

joseph-barnaby, susan-roebuck, book, blog-tour

Stand by your beliefs – even if it means going to the end of the Earth. 

By standing up for his principles, horse farrier Joseph Barnaby lost everything. Now, when a personal vendetta goes too deep to fight, he escapes to the Portuguese island of Madeira where he finds work on a small farm only accessible by boat.

The balmy climate and never-ending supply of exotic fruit, vegetables, and honey make it sound like paradise. But, for Joseph, it’s the ideal place to hide from the world.

Not everyone is prepared to give up on life’s misfortunes. The local fishing village has its own surprises and the inhabitants of Quinta da Esperança have more grit in them than the pebbled beach that borders the property.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Interview: Jill Rosenblatt

the-fixer, the-naked-man, jill-rosenblatt, book

This week, I am happy to be welcoming crime thriller writer Jill Rosenblatt to The Writing Greyhound to take part in my weekly author interview. Keep on reading to learn more about Jill, her writing, and her latest book The Fixer!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Extract: The Black Prince by Adam Roberts

the-black-prince, adam-roberts, anthony-burgess, book, blog-tour

I am thrilled to be on the blog tour today for The Black Prince by Adam Roberts - an intriguing story adapted from an original script written by Anthony Burgess. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to read the book - shall we have a sneak peek from chapter one?

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Book Review: The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker

the-fourth-monkey, jd-barker, book

For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive.

As the lead investigator on the 4MK task force, Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unravelling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.

With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer’s identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the Four Monkey Killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Interview: Glenn Devlin

the-alien-diaries, glenn-devlin, book

Science Fiction author Glenn Devlin has kindly agreed to stop by The Writing Greyhound today! Below, you can find more information about his life, his writing and, of course, his book The Alien Diaries. Is your interest piqued yet? Glenn's got plenty to share, so keep on reading!

Monday, 1 October 2018

Another Week in Wales: Day Seven

swallow-falls, betws-y-coed, travel, north-wales

Day one: Aberystwyth

Day two: Barmouth

Day three: Porthmadog, via Portmeirion

Day four: Y Felinheli, via a whistle-stop tour of Snowdonia

Day five: Snowdon

Day six: Conwy, via a day trip round Anglesey

Day seven: Betws-y-Coed, via Llandudno

Friday, 28 September 2018

Another Week in Wales: Day Six

holyhead, country-park, anglesey, north-wales, travel

Day one: Aberystwyth

Day two: Barmouth

Day three: Porthmadog, via Portmeirion

Day four: Y Felinheli, via a whistle-stop tour of Snowdonia

Day five: Snowdon

Day six: Conwy, via a day trip round Anglesey

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Book Review: The Russia House by John le Carre

the-russia-house, john-le-carre, book, blog-tour

John le Carre's bestselling classic is a timeless spy thriller about the Iron Curtain and the tense relationship between Great Britain and Russia.

John le Carré has earned worldwide acclaim with extraordinary spy novels, including The Russia House, an unequivocal classic. Navigating readers through the shadow worlds of international espionage with critical knowledge culled from his years in British Intelligence, le Carré tracks the dark and devastating trail of a document that could profoundly alter the course of world events.


In Moscow, a sheaf of military secrets changes hands. If it arrives at its destination, and if its import is understood, the consequences could be cataclysmic. Along the way it has an explosive impact on the lives of three people: a Soviet physicist burdened with secrets; a beautiful young Russian woman to whom the papers are entrusted; and Barley Blair, a bewildered English publisher pressed into service by British Intelligence to ferret out the document's source. A magnificent story of love, betrayal, and courage, The Russia House catches history in the act. For as the Iron Curtain begins to rust and crumble, Blair is left to sound a battle cry that may fall on deaf ears.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Interview: Mark Zaslove

death-and-taxes, mark-zaslove, book

Mark Zaslove, author of fast-paced thriller novel Death and Taxes, is here on The Writing Greyhound for a quick chat about the book, his writing and where he gets his inspiration...or doesn't!

With so much to talk about, what are you waiting for? Keep on reading to learn more...

Monday, 24 September 2018

Wishlist: Salomon Collection from Simply Hike

Whether I'm away on holiday or simply looking to spend some time in the great outdoors, walking and hiking are two perfect ways to explore the countryside and clear my mind. When I am heading out for a walk, I always make sure to wear and carry the appropriate gear - you never know when it might come in handy! From my trusty walking shoes to a rucksack and raincoat, you can guarantee that I'll always be prepared.

So, when I heard about the brand new Salomon collection from outdoor clothing and hiking gear retailer, Simply Hike, I couldn't wait to start picking out my favourite pieces!

Friday, 21 September 2018

Another Week in Wales: Day Five

snowdon, mountain, hiking, travel, north-wales, view

Day one: Aberystwyth

Day two: Barmouth

Day three: Porthmadog, via Portmeirion

Day four: Y Felinheli, via a whistle-stop tour of Snowdonia

Day five: Snowdon

Thursday, 20 September 2018

One Day I would Dearly Love to Write Historical Fiction...

reflected-destinies, florence-keeling, book, blog-tour

One day I would dearly love to write a historical fiction novel. I love history, it was one of my favourite subjects at school and it is definitely my favourite genre to read. The Tudor period and Philippa Gregory books are just amazing. I am in absolute awe of how she manages to add so much detail to her books but still make you feel that you are actually living alongside the characters, that you are living and breathing with them.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Another Week in Wales: Day Four

criccieth-castle, snowdonia, north-wales, travel

Day one: Aberystwyth

Day two: Barmouth

Day three: Porthmadog, via Portmeirion

Day four: Y Felinheli, via a whistle-stop tour of Snowdonia

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Interview: Lizzie Lamb

take-me-im-yours, lizzie-lamb, book, blog-tour

I am thrilled to be welcoming romance author Lizzie Lamb to The Writing Greyhound today, and even more excited to be participating in the blog tour for Lizzie's latest book Take Me, I'm Yours - a wonderful Wisconsin love story.

Read on to find out more about Lizzie and the book!

Monday, 17 September 2018

Another Week in Wales: Day Three

portmeirion, village, estuary, north-wales, travel

Day one: Aberystwyth

Day two: Barmouth

Day three: Porthmadog, via Portmeirion

Friday, 14 September 2018

5 Ways to Make Moving House Easier

house, property, moving

As regular readers of The Writing Greyhound may have noticed, I was lucky enough to become a homeowner for the first time earlier this year. Throughout the buying process, my partner and I were labelled as relatively young and inexperienced buyers - something which definitely proved to be more of a hindrance than a help.

So, in an attempt to make the process more transparent, I'm aiming to do what I can to help others who may be in a similar situation. Here's the latest in my series of posts about buying a house, the obstacles we faced, and what we would do differently next time.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Where is Your Community Spirit in 2018?

a-smile-is-all-you-need, the-writing-greyhound

When was the last time you did something for the good of your community?

In today's increasingly fast-paced, digital environment, traditional values are becoming less commonplace. Community spirit, once the stalwart of towns and villages up and down the country, is one of these values that is losing touch with the modern world and the next generation.

So, I have one question to ask you... Where is your community spirit in 2018?

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Book Review: A Matter of Trust by Deb Stover

a-matter-of-trust, deb-stover, book

Returning to her tiny hometown of Digby, Colorado to begin her medical career, young Dr Taylor Bowen is shocked to discover the half-naked, gorgeous body of her first patient belongs to a man she hoped never to see again.

Gordon Lane had been her true love, her only love, until he betrayed her in the worst possible way. But as Taylor and Gordon find themselves together again, stirring up memories, can they find the courage to reclaim an old love - and open their hearts to timeless passion.


Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Interview: Ashley Uzzell

tales-of-mentara, ashley-uzzell, book

Children's author Ashley Uzzell has kindly agreed to stop by the blog as this week's featured author on The Writing Greyhound - keep on reading to find out more about Ashley, her writing process, what inspires her, and Tales of Mentara, her fantasy series for children

Monday, 10 September 2018

5 Things to Look Out for When Picking a Home to Rent

buying-house, new-home, renting-property

Although my partner and I are now lucky enough to own our home, many people across the country live in rented properties. I rented during my time at university, and although the process differs slightly for students compared with renting traditionally, the basics of what to look out for remain the same.

Are you considering renting the perfect home for you? I've got five top tips to share with you - all of which are things you should be looking out for when deciding on your new home!

Friday, 7 September 2018

Another Week in Wales: Day Two

barmouth, panorama-walk, north-wales, travel

Day one - Aberystwyth.

Day two - a short drive along the coast to Barmouth.


Thursday, 6 September 2018

Theatre Review: School of Rock, The Musical

school-of-rock, musical, london

As regular readers of The Writing Greyhound will doubtless already know, I am a big fan of both theatre and musicals. In the last few months, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to see a number of shows - some for the first time, others for another visit. So, when I headed down to London to catch my latest theatrical experience, I was understandably looking forward to the night ahead!

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Book Review: Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

eve-of-man, giovanna-fletcher, tom-fletcher, book

AGAINST ALL ODDS, SHE SURVIVED.
THE FIRST GIRL BORN IN FIFTY YEARS.
THEY CALLED HER EVE . . .

All her life Eve has been kept away from the opposite sex. Kept from the truth of her past.

But at sixteen it's time for Eve to face her destiny. Three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She's always accepted her fate.

Until she meets Bram.

Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom.

But how do you choose between love and the future of the human race?


Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Interview: Matt Walker

shark-bait, matt-walker, book

For this week's author interview, I'm pleased to be welcoming thriller writer Matt Walker to The Writing Greyhound. Matt is here to chat about his novel Shark Bait - a super-charged action thriller perfect for a gripping read.

If you are interested in learning more about Matt and Shark Bait, then keep on reading!

Monday, 3 September 2018

What Autumn Means to Me

autumn, season, devon

It seems incredible that it's almost three months since my last featured post in this series and even more unbelievably, it's nearly a whole year since I started sharing my thoughts about the seasons with you all.

As we finally come full circle and gradually work our way towards the close of another year, could there be a more fitting time to publish my final season of the series?

Friday, 31 August 2018

Reading Round-Up: July/August 2018

the-loneliest-girl-in-the-universe, lauren-james, signed-book

As we come towards the end of another glorious summer, it's time to recap on the past few months of bookish behaviour. Read on to find out all the latest goings-on in The Writing Greyhound's July/August 2018 reading round-up!

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Add a Touch of Sparkle with Jouellerie

jouellerie, jewellery

I was recently offered the opportunity to receive and review a series of gorgeous jewellery products from budget online retailer Jouellerie.

Although my usual taste in jewellery is along the subtle and meaningful lines, what girl doesn't love a bit of sparkle in her life every now and then?

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Book Review: Crowning Fantasy by Coral Russell

crowning-fantasy, coral-russell, book

Welcome to the world of Varlid, a sprawling epic fantasy about power, loyalty, betrayal, and the courage to change. A great power struggle is poised to erupt across Varlid. A meek creature inherits power beyond her comprehension. A giant succumbs to a curse which will either liberate or defeat his kind. Tiny wizards practice the dark arts to save their race. The old order stews in bitterness and vows revenge. The rich sit on their thrones convinced they are invincible. Join the Crowning Fantasy as the inhabitants of Varlid struggle to find refuge, freedom and peace.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Interview: David Lea

entangled-earth, david-lea, book

This week, I am excited to be welcoming sci-fi/thriller author David Lea to The Writing Greyhound! Keep on reading to find out what happened when David and I sat down for a chat...


Monday, 27 August 2018

Another Week in Wales: Day One

wales, aberystwyth, constitution-hill, holiday

Long-term readers of TheWriting Greyhound may remember my travelogue of last summer's holiday, where my partner and I did a tour of mid and south Wales. We started in Aberystwyth and over the course of the week, worked our way down along the Pembrokeshire coast before heading back up through the Brecon Beacons.

Since we both enjoyed last year's week in Wales so much, we decided to complete our Welsh adventure this year by touring the north of the country. From the rugged coastline of North Wales to the island of Anglesey and the dizzying heights of Snowdonia, this is the story of our second week in Wales.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

To Save an Empire: A Novel of Ottoman History

to-save-an-empire, novel-ottoman-history, allan-gall, book

In 1876 the Ottoman Empire is in financial crisis and facing an invasion from Russia. Mithat Pasha, a respected reformer, feels that democratic reforms will bring Britain to their side and deter Russia. He orchestrates the deposition of the dissolute sultan only to find that his successor is mentally unstable, and he must turn to Abdülhamit. But Mithat’s vision for a constitutional monarchy sets up an immediate conflict with the new sultan.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Book Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

the-readers-of-broken-wheel-recommend, katarina-bivald, book

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who travelled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy's funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist - even if they don't understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that's almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honour of her friend's memory.

All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town.



Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Interview: Steven C. Levi

This week's author interview is with the lovely Steven C. Levi, author of the novel Dead Men Do Come Back. Keep on reading to find out what he's got to say!

Monday, 20 August 2018

Wishlist: Literary Book Gifts

It's no secret that I'm a massive book lover, so it probably won't come as much of a surprise to learn that I'm also a big fan of all things book-related! So, when online bookish store Literary Book Gifts got in touch with me, there was only ever going to be one answer...


Saturday, 18 August 2018

Birthday Cake with Bakerdays

birthday-cake, letterbox-cake, bakerdays

Last Christmas, I had the chance to review an incredible Christmas letterbox cake from bakerdays. The cake was amazing and exceeded all my expectations, so when I was offered the opportunity to review another letterbox cake, naturally I jumped at the chance!

It was great timing, too, as the beginning of August is one of the busiest weeks of the year for me in terms of birthdays. Plenty of celebrations to organise, but more importantly, plenty of opportunities for cake!

Last weekend was my dad's birthday, and since I know how much he enjoyed bakerdays' wonderful cake we were gifted at Christmas, I was certain that a birthday cake of his very own would go down a treat.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Financial Security: Is it about More than Your Job?

money, financial-security, piggybank, pixabay

We all want financial security. We want to know that we’re ready to handle little and large emergencies, the sudden costs, and the uncertainty of the future, at least as far as our money is concerned. However, a lot of people make the mistake of believing that becoming financially secure is all about the income you earn from your job. Here are some handy ways you can start building up your own financial security now, regardless of how much money you make.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

#KeeptheSecret - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

harry-potter, cursed-child

First things first, if you are looking for a review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that is full of spoilers, then you've come to the wrong blog. Theatre reviews may be the usual fare on The Writing Greyhound, but on this occasion, I've got the tricky task of writing about a production without really sharing much about it at all. Unquestionably a difficult task, but since seeing Cursed Child for the second time, I really can't put off writing about it again!

Like so many others around the world, I've been a big Harry Potter fan for years and I still love re-reading the original books even now. When Cursed Child was first announced, I was excited to find out more about the wizarding world and discover if the long-awaited sequel could live up to my (extremely high) expectations.

When the playscript was released, I went to the midnight launch party at Waterstones - my first and only experience of a midnight release. I read the book in under a day and then had to wait over six months to finally get to see the stage show for the first time.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was probably one of my most-anticipated theatre visits ever, and with two showings and a whole day of Potter ahead of me, I couldn't wait to finally see the show. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that I was completely blown away. Characters, acting, staging... it was all brilliant. In fact, you could even say that it was magical!

Upon leaving the Palace Theatre at the end of Part 2, I knew without a doubt that I had to see the play again.

Fast-forward to July 2018 and my wish was fulfilled.

Seeing Cursed Child for the second time allowed me to take in the little details and parts of the show that I didn't notice the first time around. Thanks to the cast change, I also got to see different actors' takes on the roles, something which was definitely interesting. Some plays and performances can seem dated or stale with multiple viewings, but Cursed Child definitely avoids this. In fact, I'd certainly recommend going to see it more than once, if you can.

Although my status as a big Harry Potter fan perhaps subconsciously skews my thoughts and opinions of the play, I am happy to say that Cursed Child is a brilliant theatrical spectacle in its own right, regardless of its close connection to the infamous wizarding world.

#KeeptheSecret

If your interest is piqued, you've got to be quick because tickets for the performances are unsurprisingly incredibly popular and are always in extremely high demand. Tickets for April-July 2019 are due to be released on 18th September - check the official website for more information.

Have you seen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child yet? What did you think of the play? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Book Review: A Single Journey by Frankie McGowan

a-single-journey, frankie-mcgowan, book, blog-tour

Harriet has begun to despair of her life.

With a failed relationship behind her, a business on the rocks and a flat that’s falling apart around her ears, she could really use some luck.

Elena Banbury, née Guseva, an elderly but imposing Russian woman who is Harriet’s neighbour and landlady, frequently entertains the punters at Harriet’s jewellery stall with tales of the palaces of St. Petersburg and the treasures of Fabergé. But Harriet sometimes feels, guiltily, that she could do without the endless errands that seem to fall to her as Elena’s friend.

Then, unexpectedly, when Elena dies, she leaves all her worldly goods to a grateful Harriet. In time, however, it becomes clear that others are shocked by Harriet’s good luck, too. Shocked... and very, very unhappy.

Challenged in court by Elena’s family who live in Berlin, Harriet is forced to give up her inheritance and long-dreamed-of plans for a new business, and start her life again. But with her reputation in tatters and the memory of Elena tainted, Harriet knows a great injustice has been done.

Against the advice of her friends, family and lawyers, Harriet sets off on her own, very singular journey to Berlin.

In the weeks that follow she meets rich and poor, the glamorous and the criminal, the honest and the secretive, and begins to see that perhaps she has something to learn from them all. Something to learn about herself, and something to learn about her priorities.

She knows she has to fight for justice. But, when she meets the scholarly, perceptive Neil, who generously tries to help Harriet in her mission, but who is struggling with a complicated marriage, she must also decide if she’ll fight for love, too.


a-single-journey, frankie-mcgowan, book, blog-tour

I'm excited to be on the blog tour for A Single Journey by Frankie McGowan and even more excited to be sharing my own thoughts on the book with you today!

A Single Journey is a grand story of sweeping proportions, telling a tale that spans several generations, multiple countries and entire lifetimes of history. It's ambitious, but through careful planning, the author successfully manages to weave an intricate web of a story that keeps you hooked throughout.

Our main character, Harriet, is both likeable and realistic - her flaws are evident, which makes her even more relatable. As the story progresses, we find ourselves rooting for Harriet and willing her to succeed, something which helps to lend a more personal air to the events taking place in the book.

The plot itself is rich and dense, keeping you wanting to read on without setting a breakneck pace. Indeed, as each chapter progresses, you find yourself getting slowly and inextricably drawn into the plot and trying to guess what will happen next.

In addition, there are also several important points, or perhaps even morales, that are addressed in the book. A Single Journey reminds us about the importance of following our dreams and staying true to ourselves; all too often, we can find ourselves bogged down in the mundanities of day-to-day life and realise that we are living without really living. Harriet's journey to come to terms with the events of the story perfectly encapsulate this and represent the fact that sometimes, we must listen to our hearts rather than our heads.

Another important message to take away from the book is the way that older people are treated in our society. With the UK's over-worked care system, it's all too easy for vulnerable elderly people to fall through the cracks and end up with their struggles going unnoticed, as portrayed by Elena's situation at the beginning of the book. In real life, there may not always be a Harriet around to help, and A Single Journey helps to highlight the very real issue of the UK's elderly care crisis.

A Single Journey is a moving, heartfelt story about love, loss and staying true to yourself. The perfect accompaniment to a nice cup of tea and a relaxing Sunday afternoon, reading this book is a wonderful way to spend a weekend this summer.

Rating: 3 stars

A Single Journey is available to buy now.

Will you be grabbing a copy of the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Interview: Kfir Luzzatto

Thrilled to be welcoming Kfir Luzzatto to The Writing Greyhound today for a chat about Chipless - read on for more details!

Firstly, please could you introduce yourself?
I was born and raised in Italy and moved to Israel as a teenager. I acquired the love for the English language from my father, a former U.S. soldier and WWII veteran, a voracious reader and a prolific writer. With a PhD in chemical engineering and a long family history that I need to live up to, I work as a patent attorney and head the patent law firm that was established by my great-grandfather, in 1869. I live in Omer, Israel, with my partner, Esther, our four children, Michal, Lilach, Tamar and Yonatan, and our dog, Elvis.
How did you first become interested in writing?
Writing has been my passion for as long as I remember myself, but as a young man, I never really thought about publishing. I had to reach maturity before I concluded that my writing was good enough to be read. I love writing short stories but I have too many novels waiting to be written (and possibly not enough years ahead of me to write them all), so now I mostly write full-length fiction. My other passion is working with other authors on stories I love, and that's how I wound up serving on the editorial board of The Harrow Press as Anthology Editor until the end of 2014 when it folded its tent. I also write non-fiction, but that’s another story.
chipless, kfir-luzzatto, book

Tell me about Chipless.
I can’t do any better than my back cover blurb: 
In a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society, health authorities implant a chip in the brain of every infant to prevent the spread of disease. But the rulers exploit the chip to manipulate the population and to create a distorted vision of the world. When Kal, a young physicist, accidentally discovers the truth about the chip, his life is in danger. 
But Kal is not alone. Amber, a young, chipless girl from a distant society, who is on a personal mission, helps him to get away before the city police find him. The knowledge that Kal holds is a potent weapon against the tyranny of the rulers, and he has no choice but to join Amber and her fellow rebels in fighting them. 
Kal and Amber escape together from the city, but the hunt for them is on. They must travel through dangerous, lawless territories to reach a safe destination. It’s a race in which time is running out for Kal. If they don’t make it in time, both his life and the hope of fighting the city tyrants will be lost.
What drew you to writing in the dystopian genre?
I started out writing science fiction and although I love writing thrillers and some (non-gory) horror, I always go back to SF. I wrote space opera as well, but dystopian has a quality of “unreal reality” that other sub-genres of SF lack. When writing dystopian stories you look at a future that might actually happen, and besides the fun that always comes from writing fiction, there is an additional dimension to it.
Did you find writing the book a challenge?
It is always the same: At first, it is like pulling teeth, but when the characters start to take shape, it flows effortlessly. Overall, I never find that writing a book was challenging, in spite of some bumps along the road.
How did you get inspiration?
Like every time: by doing preciously nothing. It always takes shape in my head suddenly and without provocation, and then it’s there. Thank God for that.
kfir-luzzatto, author

What’s your writing process?
I write the first version as it comes, without thinking, stopping or correcting. Much of it I dictate to my PC. The result is something I wouldn’t want to be found dead in a ditch with. Then, the real work starts. I generate a number of versions, first fixing the story with all its holes, then the dialogues. Then I rearrange the chapters and do it all over again. After a few of those rounds, I work on style and grammar before handing the damn thing over to my editor.
What do you love most about writing?
Getting to know my characters. We really develop a rapport, both with the good and with the bad ones, and I love to see how they come to life for me.
Which authors inspire you?
John Wyndham, P. G. Wodehouse, Franz Kafka, Robert A. Heinlein.
What are you currently working on?
I am in the middle of a science fiction thriller, with aliens and all. It’s shaping up nicely scary.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I don’t usually like to read very long books, but I’m making an exception for this one.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
I’ll have to say John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, or maybe Philp K. Dick’s Ubik, or perhaps... You get the idea.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Music. I play the piano and the violin, but I also like pop music. Nature. I used to go mountain climbing and although I no longer indulge in the pastime, I am still connected to the world outside. And kids - I have four of my own and two grandchildren who brighten my day (and more coming).
Chipless is available to buy now. For more about Kfir and his writing, you can check out his website.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, 13 August 2018

YALC 2018: Learning the Ropes

yalc, the-writing-greyhound

Hands up, who's been to YALC before?

YALC 2018 took place over three days, 27-29 July, and featured a myriad of authors, publishers, bloggers and PR people all involved with Young Adult literature. For a big fan of the genre, such as myself, YALC is the place to be - an event that many people look forward to all year round.

2018 was my first year going (primarily due to never remembering to book tickets until the event has passed) and what can I say - YALC took my expectations and absolutely smashed them to pieces.

YALC and Me

Now, almost two weeks on when I've finally got a chance to sit back and reflect on my experience (it's been a ridiculously busy summer so far!)  I can see why so many people return to YALC year after year.

For me, it wasn't just about getting the chance to pick up some fab new books and meet authors whose work I love; instead, one of the best and most surprising parts of the event was getting to meet fellow likeminded people who love Young Adult lit as much as I do. Like that rush of exhilaration you get when you first go to a gig and see thousands of music fans all around you, YALC is similar but just full of bookish folk instead. It's completely unique, and I loved it.

Not being a Londoner meant that I was only able to attend one day of YALC, but I managed to cram so much into that one day that I don't feel as though I missed out... much! I heard that the biggest names and best bits of the weekend usually happen on the Saturday, so as it was most convenient for me, that was the day I picked.

Planning and Preparations

I took the advice of various attendees from previous years and made sure to pack plenty of tote bags for extra book carrying capacity and also checked the schedule and made a rough personal itinerary in advance. There's so much to do and see at YALC, and if you are unprepared, you're bound to miss out on something!

For my first year, I didn't bother too much with panels, talks or workshops - though next year I hope to get more involved with those. Instead, I picked out a few authors I wanted to meet during the signings, circled one talk I knew I wanted to attend and left the rest of the day free to wander around, visit the stalls and just take in the general vibe.

books, young-adult, yalc, the-writing-greyhound

During the course of the day, I managed to end up with 16 new books and a variety of bookish swag including bookmarks, posters, badges, postcards, a t-shirt and even more tote bags. In fact, I had so much stuff I struggled to carry it all home with me! Although I set myself a spending limit (which, in hindsight, was an incredibly sensible thing to do) I know I could easily have spent at least double what I did. There's just so much wonderful stuff everywhere you look!

Signings, Panels and More

Aside from loading myself up with all the books I could get my hands on, I also squeezed in time for one talk - Tom and Giovanna Fletcher talking about Eve of Man, their first Young Adult book co-written together. As a massive fan of both Tom and Gi, I knew I couldn't miss out on a chance to listen to them talk about Eve of Man, which, incidentally, was one of my most anticipated reads of the year so far. I also managed to pluck up the courage to ask them a question during the Q&A section of the talk - a personal highlight for me.

eve-of-man, tom-fletcher, giovanna-fletcher, book, yalc

I was lucky enough to meet several authors over the course of the day, all of whom were absolutely lovely and well worth the queues to meet! Frances Hardinge, Lauren James, Amy McCulloch (who also writes as Amy Alward, author of The Potion Diaries) and Tom and Giovanna Fletcher were all kind enough to sign my copies of their books. It's really special to be able to meet an author face-to-face and tell them how much you loved their book!

YALC 2018 was a really special experience for me and I know it is a day that I won't forget in a hurry!

Highlights:

  • Having the confidence to ask a question during the Eve of Man panel
  • Chatting with a fellow YA fan while queueing for Frances Hardinge's signing
  • Meeting Tom and Giovanna Fletcher
  • Jason Momoa randomly wandering through YALC

Dislikes:

  • Sore shoulders after carrying so many heavy bags around
  • Not realising you needed to get tickets for certain signings/panels
  • Not being able to buy more books

Next Year:

  • Try to attend more panels and workshops
  • Meet more of my favourite authors
  • Make a personalised itinerary again
Did you go to YALC? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, 10 August 2018

Film Review: Incredibles 2

incredibles, lego-minifigures, flickr-brickset

When Pixar released the original Incredibles film, I was 10 years old. Now, 14 years later, the animation studios have unleashed the sequel on the world and given countless people like me the perfect opportunity to relive a classic childhood movie. So, when I finally went to watch the film a few weeks ago, I was full of expectations and couldn't wait to get back into the world of the Incredibles!

The story continues on from the events of the original film, catching up with all our favourite characters while introducing some great new ones. Of course, the Incredibles themselves are back, along with popular fan favourites like Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and E (Brad Bird). This reintroduction of familiar characters and crime-fighting scenarios helps to create a feeling of continuity, bridging the 14-year gap between Incredibles and Incredibles 2.

When it comes to the plot, action and adventure are top of the bill, yet there is also a healthy dose of suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat. With the high-tech, fast-paced action sequences perfectly juxtaposed against the comparatively routine mundanity of everyday home life, this film manages to perfectly encapsulate both worlds and spread a message highlighting the importance of family.

In addition, it's clear that the scriptwriters for Incredibles 2 had a clear series of messages and morals in mind during the writing process. From the importance of maintaining strong family relationships and keeping a healthy work-life balance to highlighting the risks associated with the modern world's increasing reliance on technology, it seems as though the film contains a little bit of everything. However, we can't move on without making time to mention one of the biggest themes of the movie - equality.

While individual viewers will always take different messages from films, for me, one of the biggest themes tackled in Incredibles 2 was equality and the role of women in society. Of course, it's no secret that women are traditionally portrayed as housewives and mothers - women whose main role is to support the hero of the story. Incredibles 2 takes that stereotype and completely turns it on its end - here, it is the women who take charge and it is the women who absolutely steal the show. Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Evelyn (Catherine Keener), Voyd (Sophia Bush), E... the list of strong, independent women goes on. In 2018, who says a woman can't be a great superhero?

Sure to be a big hit with children and adults alike, Incredibles 2 is a breakneck ride and a real rollercoaster of action. Pixar's animation is flawless and faultless as always, while the storyline happily lives up to the high calibre set by the original movie. Offering the perfect way to escape the summer heat, Incredibles 2 is a fun-filled family-friendly film that certainly won't disappoint - no matter how much you loved the first film!

Have you seen Incredibles 2 yet? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Interview: Martin Ungless

duck-egg-blues, martin-ungless, book, blog-tour

I'm joining in the Duck Egg Blues blog tour today by welcoming author Martin Ungless to The Writing Greyhound! Read on to find out more about Martin and his writing...

Firstly, please could you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Martin, I’m a writer. I used to be a scientist, then an architect. I guess I’m moving slowly towards purer forms of creativity. I paint.
How did you first become interested in writing?
I’ve always written in one form or another, but perhaps less so when I was designing buildings when I guess the urge to create was being satisfied. Even then I wrote pieces for architectural magazines. As a child I took things apart to see how they work, a lot of things, much to the annoyance of the rest of my family, (shhh, I still do today) and I suspect writing was my way of looking under the hood to see how it was that books brought such enormous pleasure. I’ve always made things too, from computers to pieces of my home, and so when I write, it’s this fabrication of new places, characters, and plots which really brings me joy. I have to say though, just like those other areas of creativity, in the end, it’s the quality of the finished product which drives me because most of all I want my reader to enjoy reading my books!
Tell me about Duck Egg Blues.
It’s a robot butler detective mystery-thriller, with ducks.
duck-egg-blues, martin-ungless, book

Did you purposely try to avoid writing in a specific genre?
I do think genre is too restrictive. I am happy with the preconceptions that come with genre, especially Crime, but I think a writer should not be limited by this, subversion of genre enriches the experience of reading. Duck Egg Blues is narrated by a robot, but I wouldn’t say that it is sci-fi, in my eyes, it’s a character-driven thriller. The story arc of the first-person narrator comes first, along with some of the rules of Crime.
Do you think it’s important to have an element of humour in fiction?
Agents and publishers specialising in Crime seem to believe it’s a bad thing, but I would argue that there is a strong history of dark humour in the best of the genre, from the cracking one-liners of Chandler’s Marlowe, through the sparkling dialogue and sheer slapstick criminal mess to be found in Elmore Leonard’s work - just think Get Shorty. Even Poirot is a little tongue-in-cheek, isn’t he? Someone like Carl Hiaasen uses a more overt humour, dark action contrasted with light interludes, laughter exacerbating the thrills and spills, at the same time he’s making the characters more human too. In Britain, we have some great comic crime writers like Malcolm Pryce but they don’t get the coverage their work deserves. Humour’s always been there but it doesn’t get discussed, because I think critics like simple categories, perhaps driven by newspaper review sections that are split into the different genres. Maybe the freedom of the modern book-blogger will liberate us from this stifling and unnecessary categorisation? I do hope so. Long live the blog!
Did you have to do any research for the book?
I’ve always had an interest in computers, robots and AI, so very little. In one sense my life’s interests have been the research for this book.
How did you get inspiration?
I wrote a short story in which I tried to combine many aspects of the locked-room mystery into one. The result was a sci-fi murder-mystery narrated by a robot butler - you can read it here for free. The character of PArdew intrigued me, always trying to help, being treated badly by his Master, and I wondered what would happen if someone like that (something, I suppose I ought to say) were transported to the present day.
What’s your writing process?
I tend to plot the book pretty thoroughly before I start writing. Occasionally I will start with a splurge of words to see if I can’t track down the voice for that particular story, but then back to plot. I guess it’s the architect in me, needing a plan! Then, because I’ve been self-employed most of my life, I’m pretty good at getting up and just getting on with being creative. I don’t set myself a word count, I think this would be too depressing. Somedays I do write thousands of words, but on other my word count goes into reverse. I tend to read over yesterdays writing as a starting point for the day, but I usually spend too much time revising this, so I am trying to wean myself off the habit, leaving it for a grand revision, once I can see how the whole has panned out.
Which authors inspire you?
I think Annie Proulx is a genius. There is no doubt that PArdew is influenced by Asimov. Chandler is a great writer, and if I could write with even half the verve of Chuck Palahniuk it would make me happy.
What are you currently working on?
I’m splitting my time between the second PArdew novel and a high-tech crime thriller which was long-listed this year for the Crime Writer’s Association’s Debut Dagger.
What are you reading at the moment?
A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Robotics! I love tinkering with my RaspberryPi - if you don’t know about these, look them up, they’re really great for introducing kids to computing and for making things that work in the real world.
Duck Egg Blues is available to buy now. To keep up to date with Martin, you can follow him on Twitter.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!