The Cutaway – Q&A with Christina Kovacs

book cover - The Cutaway - Christina Kovac

It begins with someone else’s story. The story of a woman who leaves a busy restaurant and disappears completely into the chilly spring night. Evelyn Carney is missing – but where did she go? Who was she meeting? And why did she take a weapon with her when she went?

When brilliant TV producer Virginia Knightley finds Evelyn’s missing person report on her desk, she becomes obsessed with finding out what happened that night. But her pursuit of the truth draws her deep into the power struggles and lies of Washington DC’s elite – to face old demons and new enemies.

The new thriller by debut author Christina Kovac is set in the world of rolling news, a world that Christina knows well as she worked in TV journalism for many years in Washington DC. And today Christina is here for a Q&A!

Tell me about a typical day at the office when you worked in TV news?

It depended on where I was working, but my days were often like Virginia Knightly’s workday. Before I went into the office, I’d read the newspapers and websites and peek at the cable news. At the office, I’d read into the stories we were working on and call around to sources. Hunting for news, I’d call it. There were editorial meetings where stories were pitched. Sometimes I’d run out to grab an interview. Other times, I’d spend weeks on a special project, like election coverage or a crime story. It was always busy.

Washington is like its own closed little world to those of us on the outside – which books or films are the best way in?

This is only my opinion, but if you’d like a good explainer for how the United States government became the mess it currently is, read DARK MONEY by Jane Mayer. It’s non-fiction.
If you want to forget what a mess it is, watch Scandal. So sexy, but not even close to realistic, and you’ll need that after you read Jane Mayer.

Who are your writing heroes and heroines?

I read A Room of One’s Own when I was in college. It struck me as a good manual for women who want to do anything creative. It still does. I named my protagonist after Ms. Woolf.

Who do you think tells the best stories about contemporary America?

The sands beneath us are still shifting, so it’s hard to say right now. All we know is that everything has changed. Whoever captures the sense of being utterly lost, of no longer knowing who you are as a country or even what your country wants to be, whoever tells that story has got contemporary America. I say this with great love for my country, and tears in my eyes.

We were all hooked on podcast Serial and Netflix’ Making a Murderer. What do you think about the dramatic retelling of true crimes in a way that sets them up as entertainment?

Making a Murderer was so great, because you never knew who was telling the truth—which is how it is. You get to be the armchair detective in an investigation where everyone lies—or bends the truth. And the stakes are so high. Life and death, freedom or incarceration, innocence and guilt and the social stigma that comes with being accused, and don’t forget—the murdered girl who deserves justice.

Do you think people in power often get away with the abuse of the vulnerable?

Yes. They will often do what they can get away with. It’s up to the media to throw a light on abuse. That’s why we need a strong Fourth Estate—and whistle blowers.

How do you think books especially fiction coming out of the Trump era will differ from those that preceded it?

We’ll have to see. It’s only been two months! Doesn’t it feel like years? I do know it was much easier to write good prose under “No Drama Obama,” as we called him.

Who are your favourite literary heroines?

When I was a girl, I loved the MM Kaye female protagonists. They were adventurous and smart and carried me along with them to foreign lands—England, Zanzibar, India! Scarlett O’Hara got me through my parent’s divorce. Recently, I loved Tana French’s Antoinette Conway. She didn’t need to be loved. She just needed to do her job—and that made her lovable, to me.

 

Thanks Christina!

You can find Christina on twitter @christina_kovac and THE CUTAWAY is out now in hardback and ebook and is published by Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail).

Get a copy at:

 

book cover - The Cutaway - Christina Kovac

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

The Evolution of Fear : Q&A with Paul E. Hardisty

Today I’m delighted to welcome Paul Hardisty to my blog. Paul is the author of the fantastic thriller The Abrupt Physics of Dying, and has just published a follow-up, The Evolution of Fear.

Evelution of Fear Vis 1

Paul has very kindly answered some questions for me. Over to Paul.
1. Claymore Straker is a wonderfully complex character. How did you come up with the inspiration for him?

Over the past 30 years I have been lucky to work all over the word, and much of that has been in some pretty remote places. Perhaps because of the nature of my work – water and environmental engineering, often associated with severe problems of pollution, over-extraction, and resource exploitation – many of those places have been characterised by corruption and conflict. Sometimes that conflict has been local, and has been played out through peaceful community protest, but all too often that conflict has led to violence, and in some cases (as depicted in The Abrupt Physics of Dying), full blown civil war. Working and living in these places, sometimes completely isolated and often alone, these experiences have shaped me more than I probably realise, and it is only through my writing that I have come to realise just how much. Claymore Straker is, then, a character born of conflict. His life is punctuated by three significant but little know civil wars: in Yemen in 1994 (The Abrupt Physics of Dying), in Cyprus (The Evolution of Fear), and as a young man, on the front lines of the Apartheid-era Border War in Angola (1980’s) – the subject of the upcoming prequel, tentatively entitled Reconciliation for the Dead, out in 2017. These are all places that I know well, and in the case of Yemen and Cyprus, conflicts of which I have had first-hand experience.

2. In The Evolution of Fear I learned a *lot* about boats especially during one particularly tense sequence near the start. Clearly you know your stuff – is this experience or just research?

I have been sailing all my life, starting when I was a boy and my dad got us a little wooden Sabot dinghy. My godfather was ex Royal Navy and a keen ocean sailor, so I learned as a boy and a teenager sailing with him on the West Coast of Canada. When we were first married, my wife and I had a 27 foot Folkboat which we sailed all over the West Coast. I’m not a racer, more a cruiser – I like exploring, getting places. There is something hugely satisfying about getting yourself somewhere using the winds and the tides and currents, about finding that little island and the perfect anchorage. Over the years I’ve also read some great books by ocean voyagers such as Joshua Slocum, and those tales have stuck with me. So no research for this, pretty much just wrote it from what I know.

3. There’s a lot of globe-trotting in the book. How do you choose where your characters end up?

I basically use places I know well, places I’ve worked in or lived in, or spent enough time in to know really well. In The Evolution of Fear, the action starts in Cornwall – a place I love. We lived in the West Country for three years, and did a lot of walking in the countryside. The north coast is so wild, it was the perfect place for the safehouse Clay is hiding in at the start of the book. When I was working in Eastern Turkey in the 1980’s I used to spend all my spare time in Istanbul. I always stayed at the Pera Palas hotel, and loved everything about that amazing city. Given the storyline in the book, it was a perfect place to set some of the key events. And finally, Cyprus, a place I lived for almost a decade, a most beguiling island. I love bringing a place alive on the page, allowing the reader to feel as if he or she is right there, seeing it, hearing its sounds, smelling its aromas, feeling its winds and changes.

4. What is your writing process like?

I can only write in the morning. By mid-day it’s gone – I have no idea where to. So starting early and working through till lunch is good. The things is, I still work full time, so finding those mornings and blocking them out is tough. Those mornings are gold and I have to use them as efficiently as I can. To do that I use whatever other time I have when I am not working or training (triathlon and martial arts) or spending time with my family, doing the plot and narrative engineering. I start a novel with a core theme I want to explore. Then I build an entire basic plot structure, the full arc. First I write that. Then I come back and start adding in the details, the impressions, the twists and turns, and the
exploration of theme, hanging all of that onto the structure, like muscle on the bones. I need to find more time to write, so I’m in the midst of changing my life a bit, trying to move away from the science and engineering a little, to free up more time. Problem is, when you work in the environmental area, there is so much work to do that it could take up your whole lifetime and more.

5. How was your book launch?

It was fantastic. Goldsboro Books in London hosted and did a great job. My fabulous publisher Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books made amazing cupcakes with edible book cover toppings, and old friends I hadn’t seen in years made the journey into London to attend. Just wished Heidi, my wife of 28 years, could’ve been there too.

I wish I could have made it too! Thanks Paul. The Evolution of Fear is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and ebook now. Don’t forget to read The Abrupt Physics of Dying first!

The blog tour continues tomorrow at livemanylives.wordpress.com

Evolution of Fear Blog tour

 

Meet the Author – Meg Cowley

Something a little different for the blog today. I’m doing a Q&A with Meg Cowley, one of the lovely bunch of people in my writers’ group.
Meg Cowley

Meg is an indie author and illustrator. She’s written two YA fantasy novels in her Tales of Caledan series – The Tainted Crown and The Brooding Crown, and has recently published two colouring books (The Wild Colouring Book and The Calm Colouring Book) *and* a children’s book, The Diary of a Secret Witch. Phew. Busy!

Meg lives in Yorkshire with her partner and their two cats (aka overlords). Her favourite genre is fantasy and her illustrations are mainly inspired by nature. She’s a lover of margherita pizza, earl grey tea, sleep, and pro-dragons. Find out more at her website: www.megcowley.com

So, without further ado, onto the questions!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a daydreamer through and through and fairly unsuited to the ‘real world’! I joke that if everyone was like me, the world would be screwed because we’d have no useful people like doctors or firefighters (etc).
I haven’t found a day job I like yet (I trained as an accountant and then a teacher). Writing and drawing – or creating in general – is really the only thing I’ve ever loved. It’s taken a while for me to realise and accept that… and decide to pursue it. Thanks to modern technology and the opportunities now available, I’m giving it my best shot to do that as my full time job.
My mantra for life is that you only have one shot, so you have to make it count: follow your dreams and have no regrets.

When did you start writing, what sort of things do you like writing?
I’ve written since I learnt to write. I wrote all sorts of terrible things back then, mainly poor rip offs of whatever I enjoyed at the time, from Beatrix Potter, to Tolkien, to Rowling, but I suppose that’s how we learn, by studying the masters of the craft.
These days I enjoy writing fantasy fiction after growing up reading the genre avidly. I’m working on a children’s fantasy series currently, but I personally enjoy YA fantasy fiction (think magic and dragons!) most of all.

What prompted the decision to move into colouring books?
Partly curiosity, partly the opportunity at the time! I saw the success others were having and thought to myself “I could do that”. So the first colouring book was a gamble – luckily, one that paid off.
I’ve also been quite ill in 2015, too ill to write much (I need a clear head to write, but illustration comes much more easily to me without needing clarity of thought). Therefore, illustrating colouring books was perfect to keep me occupied, and luckily it also pays the bills!

What else are you working on at the moment?
Currently I’m working on my third colouring book, The Exotic Colouring Book. That will feature many endangered species from around the world and a significant amount of profits from the book will be donated to a conservation charity. Conservation of biodiversity is important to me because I believe that we have a moral responsibility to look after our planet, so this is one big way I can support that. It’ll be out in February 2016.
I’m also working on my children’s fiction series “Diary of a Secret Witch” for children aged 8 – 12. The second book should be out at the end of December! That’s quite fun to write – it’s a lot lighter in tone than my YA fiction!

What are you reading now?
I’m currently reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – enjoying it so far! It’s outside of my typical genre but I enjoyed the Da Vinci Code so I thought I’d try the third book.
Next up on my reading list is Clariel by Garth Nix.

Can you recommend a good book you’ve read recently?
Asking a bookworm to recommend just one book is impossible!!
I can particularly recommend:
Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn, a fantasy series set in a Japanese feudal style society
The Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix, a magical fantasy (great magic system here!)
The Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis, a hilarious Roman mystery series,
and pretty much anything by Rachel Aaron who writes fantasy (The Eli Monpress Series), sci fi (the Paradox series under pen name Rachel Bach) and also urban fantasy (Heartstriker series).

Thanks Meg!

Interested in Meg’s work? Good news, as she has lots of free books and samples on her website. You can try her young adult fantasy novel The Tainted Crown for free, download her children’s fantasy fiction Diary of a Secret Witch: Wackiest Week (also for free), and try samples from her bestselling colouring books too. By downloading these freebies, you’ll be signing up to her newsletters where you’ll also have the chance to win new books and receive more free samples.