Five on Friday Special with the authors of Afraid of the Light @NolanDom @Jo_Furniss @JDelargyAuthor #Samaritans #AfraidOfTheLight #CrimeFiction

Today I’m delighted to be hosting an extra special Five on Friday to highlight the publication of Afraid of the Light.  It’s an anthology of 14 new crime short stories all written and brought to publication during lockdown, with the express aim of raising funds for the Samaritans.

The project was the brainchild of Victoria Selman who explains,

“Crime fiction is often as much about the psychology of the victims and perpetrators as the crime itself, which means mental health charities are always close to our hearts. Given the current climate, there has never been a better time to raise money for an organisation like the Samaritans which offers a lifeline of human connection to those in need. It’s been a real pleasure working on this anthology with such a talented group of writers and for such a fantastic cause.”

So this week we’ll be joined by the contributors,  all answering specially adapted questions to add some extra light and positivity during these extraordinary and challenging times. So sit down, grab your cuppa (make it  big one) and enjoy.

 

Afraid of the Light
Some people are scared of the dark. But it’s the light that exposes the secrets.

A young boy with nightmares faces up to his demons. A deathbed confession turns the world on its axis. A five-year-old watches his parents bury a body in the garden. A soldier returns from the war to find the horror isn’t yet over.

Afraid Of The Light brings the imagination of fourteen bestselling crime writers together in a collection that will keep you up all night. From a deadly campfire game to a holiday gone wrong, to an AI assistant with a motive and a love affair that can only end in murder, this is a gripping, twisty set of stories to send a shiver down your spine.

“The stories are wildly entertaining in their own right, but they also address the concerns and fears we all feel: isolation and loneliness; guilt and grief; justice and punishment. And perhaps most importantly of all: redemption and hope.” — Alex North

 

So, let’s meet the authors!

Rachael BlokRachael Blok

Rachael grew up in Durham and now lives in Hertfordshire. She is a best-selling author of the UK crime series set in the cathedral city of St Albans. Here, DCI Maarten Jansen struggles against his plain-speaking Dutch upbringing when faced with the seemingly polite world of the picturesque city. Under the Ice and The Scorched Earth are out now. Into The Fire is forthcoming.

You can follow Rachael on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

The Whole of the Moon by the Waterboys takes me straight back to being a teenager and being allowed my first legal pub drink, and hanging out with friends after my A Levels. My memory has polished that time nicely: always sunny, no fallings out, just waiting for university without any stress about exam outcomes!

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

I take a few deeps breaths, and if I can, I find going for a walk really helps. I think working from home can sometimes feel a little isolating, so getting outside and taking some exercise in the fresh air really gives me a lift.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

When we were young my father worked in Oman, and we spent a lot of time over there. It was long days in the sun, and a lot of time spent outside. We didn’t have to do much school work in the same way we did in England, and we loved it.

  

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

I’ve started cycling with the kids. We often take the bikes out on holidays, but I normally find the city a scary place to bike with small children, so it’s not something we often do. However, the roads are so empty now that we’re really enjoying getting outside and cycling for our exercise. And the lovely weather helps!

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

I’ve been enjoying a lot great books during lockdown, including many of the other authors who have contributed to Afraid of the Light. I can’t name all of them so I better not pick a favourite! My go to author to really escape is Elizabeth Strout and I’ve been re-reading Olive Kitteridge. However, I also did a read along of Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine with some crime writing friends, and that was a brilliant escape.

 

Rachael

 


 


 

Heather headshot 2020Heather Critchlow

Heather is an avid reader, aspiring author and occasional ultramarathoner.

She currently has a manuscript with her agent waiting to go out to publishers. (Good Luck from me Heather)

You can follow Heather on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

George Ezra Shotgun – This song immediately sets my kids off singing. Last July I drove north with them for our annual Scottish summer trip. As we left Carlisle the roads emptied, the scenery started to dazzle and we belted the words out all the way through Glen Coe, changing the lyrics to suit our road trip. The stress of normal life melted away.

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

Meditation – I forget this over and over again, but a ten-minute Calm or Headspace session every day makes a huge difference. I fall off the wagon every few months then wonder why my head feels scrambled.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

A sandy hill in the New Forest where we camp with old friends, the children can run wild and there’s a great pub within walking distance.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

Time has been tight, juggling home schooling, work and writing, but the jigsaw has made a comeback in my house – relaxing and satisfying, especially when my concentration isn’t up to reading.

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

I love dark, gothic and ghostly stories. Hard to pick just one, but a recent favourite author has to be Laura Purcell (The Silent Companions, The Corset & Bone China). Sinking into an atmospheric book, like Du Maurier’s Rebecca or We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, is a real escape – if there’s an old spooky house, I’m sold.

 


 


 

Elle 84Elle Croft

Elle Croft was born in South Africa, grew up in Australia and moved to the UK in 2010 after travelling around the world with her husband. She works as a freelance social media specialist and also blogs about travel, food and life in London.

Her debut novel, The Guilty Wife, is a top 10 Kindle Bestseller.

You can follow Elle on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

Anything by Beyoncé. Or Destiny’s Child. Or The Carters. I’m a bit of a superfan!

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

No matter what’s going on in my life, or in the world, I can switch it all off when I put on my trainers and head outside for a run. It doesn’t have to be any great distance (and I’m definitely not speedy), but just getting out there is incredibly helpful if I’m feeling anxious.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

Glenelg beach in Adelaide, South Australia. I grew up in Adelaide, and spent many hot summers in Glenelg – at the amusement park, walking the jetty with ice cream, watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve… It’s where my husband proposed, too, so it holds many great memories for me.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

Running (am I cheating to have the same answer twice?)! I don’t have any outdoor space at home, so my daily exercise has become incredibly important during lockdown, and I’m looking forward to my runs more than I ever have before. I’ve also been writing a poem each day on Instagram, which has been a nice way to keep my creativity going when concentration is otherwise challenging!

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

I don’t think there’s any better escapism than the world that J.K. Rowling created in the Harry Potter series. They’re some of my all-time favourite books, and they never fail to cheer me up (and make me cry).

 

Elle

 


 


 

James DelargyJames Delargy

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland but lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives.

He incorporates this diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. He would like to complete a round-the-world series of novels (if only for the chance to indulge in more on-the-ground research).

His debut thriller, 55was published last year and has been sold to 21 territories to date. His next standalone thriller is due late 2020/early 2021.

You can see read James’ individual Five on Friday here

You can follow James on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

There are a few; In Spite of Ourselves by John Prine; Third Drawer Down and Sandra by Jimeoin; Big Dennis by Otis Lee Crenshaw; lots by Flight of the Conchords including three favourites in Business Time, The Avenues of Time and Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros.

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

Exercise usually works, a walk – somewhere green with some decent scenery – but obviously at present this is restricted due to social distancing and the current lockdown guidelines. So relating to the first answer I love putting on some music and singing – badly – or dancing – very badly – along with it.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

There have been a lot of places that hold special memories from time spent travelling and living there, such as West Australia and Australia as a whole, the Drakensburg mountains in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and of course home, the Glens of Antrim in Northern Ireland. I grew up in the countryside so most places that hold special memories are to do with the scenery and the landscape.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

With the lack of sport to follow I have channelled by inner Marie Kondo and gone from room to room in my house and tidied cupboards and cases. That’s complete so now it is onto the garden and trying to grow a rosebush.

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

Anything by Bill Bryson. I am currently reading his book on the body and as ever it is fascinating. I also delve into his ‘Short History of Nearly Everything’ regularly too.

 

55


 


Clare EmpsonClare Empson

Clare Empson is a journalist with a background in national newspapers. Eight years ago, she moved to the West Country and founded the arts and lifestyle blog countrycalling.co.uk. The idyllic setting inspired her debut novel Him. Her second novel Mine is an exploration of the fraught relationship between a birth mother and her adopted son set against a backdrop of a passionate love affair in the 70s. 

Clare lives on the Wiltshire/Dorset border with her husband and three children.

You can follow Clare on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones – I couldn’t love this song more and used it in my first novel HIM as the track the main characters fall in love to. Weirdly Mick Jagger circa 1972 is turning out to be a bit of a muse for me because he inspired one of the characters in my second novel. I’m trying to write book 3 without him.

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

Solitude – I realised after a particularly hectic Christmas holiday with cousins and in laws and a lot of kids that I’m definitely an introvert. A day on my own and I was fine again!

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

It has to be Paris. My sister lived there for a while so my husband and I spent a lot of time in Paris when we first got together. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in Paris last year and I’d forgotten how incredible it is, every five minutes there’s another amazing view.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

Home graffiti. We bought a whole load of spray paints and have been graffitiing everything we can get our hands on, a shed, old duvet covers.

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a novel I’ve read so many times. The world she describes is so vivid and intense, it draws you in and is the perfect escape. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

 

Clare


 


 

JoJo Furniss

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.

 Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller and one of the Top 50 Kindle titles of 2017. This was followed by The Trailing Spouse. Her latest novel The Last to Know will be released in August.

You can read Jo’s individual Five on Friday here.

Follow Jo on Facebook

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

I’d been finding it hard to concentrate while writing, until someone suggested listening to a Spotify playlist called SEXENONO. It’s not as saucy as it sounds – the playlist mixes trance tracks from Brian Eno and banging tunes from Girls Aloud (such as Sexy No No, hence the name), which means I write for 15-20 minutes to Eno and then shake it off for 3 minutes to a raucous pop song before concentrating again for another 15-minute track. Writing makes me smile, so I think this counts!

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

I moved to the south coast of England and discovered sea swimming. All year round! The shock of the cold water and the camaraderie of my fellow swimmers makes anything else seem manageable.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

A couple of years ago, I visited Flores in Indonesia to go snorkelling with my kids. The water was so shallow, it got hotter than a bath. It’s strange how you can sit on the beach and look out to sea, and not realise all the colour and life that’s right under the surface, only inches away. You pop your head under the water and the outside world ceases to exist.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

We completed the sale of a house a few days before lockdown, but we’ve been unable to move in, so I go over to the empty house most days for a bit of DIY therapy; so far I’ve helped renovate two windows, painted gables, redecorated the kitchen, tiled two bathrooms, and even tiled the airing cupboard floor (when you find yourself tiling an airing cupboard, you know it’s time to STOP!).

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

Anything that keeps the pages turning – I just read an advance copy of Roz Watkins’ latest called Cut to the Bone and that story zips along. Alternatively, I like a book that takes me to another time; I just read Things in Jars by Jess Kidd, which is set in the Victorian era, and of course  the Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel has distracted me from our modern woes for all of its 900 pages!

 

Jo's books


 


 

NikiNiki Mackay

Niki Mackay studied Performing Arts at the BRIT School, and it turned out she wasn’t very good at acting but quite liked writing scripts.

Her first two novels – I, Witness and The Lies We Tell – feature private investigator Madison Attallee. Her latest book  Found Her is her first digital-only release and is a standalone psychological thriller.

You can follow Niki on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

Special Brew by Bad Manners always makes me laugh! It was actually recorded the year I was born but was played a lot at venues I hung around in when I was a teenager in the 90s. It’s effectively a love song to the world’s grimmest beer.

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

Remembering to take life One Day At A Time (ODAAT). It stops me feeling overwhelmed if I’m struggling with something. Working on the principle that I can manage most things in 24 hour stretches.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

I grew up in Kingston and I still like that area a lot.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

Ha! I have a lot less time as I have children who are now home. But, I am writing before my husband begins his working day and, as always, it’s an escape for me. I’m currently working on a first draft which is a part of the process I enjoy.

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

I re-read an awful lot, I get quite attached to characters so tend to re-visit them often and I could very easily give you a long list! At the moment I’m re-reading a lot of Christopher Pike who wrote a lot of YA horror and thriller novels so I think I’ll go with him. I’m particularly fond of the Final Friends trilogy.

 

Niki's books


 


 

SR MastersS R Masters

S R Masters studied Philosophy at Girton College, Cambridge. He is a regular contributor to UK short fiction anthology series The Fiction Desk, having won their Writer’s Award for his short story Just Kids. His story Desert Walk was included in Penguin Random House USA’s Press Start to Play collection, published last year, and he continues to have short fiction published in a variety of magazines. The Killer You Know is his first novel.

When not writing, Simon works in public health in Oxford, where he lives with his wife, Helen.

You can follow S R Masters on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

There’s a random Queen b-side called Hang on in There which always makes me happy, partly because there’s a bit where Freddie hits an absolute face-melter of a high note from seemingly nowhere. The song’s not that amazing overall, but it always cheers me up.

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

Five-a-side or playing with my son.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

North Wales, particularly around Harlech and Porthmadog. There’s something magical in the air there and I go as often as I can. If any monsters or magical beasts exist in the UK, my money’s on them living there.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time? 

 

I’m not a big exercise guy at all, but managing to find time to get my 10,000 steps in each day has really helped both pass the time and with my general wellbeing.

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

Without hesitation, Stephen King. I just started re-reading The Shining for comfort actually, which tells you all you need to know about the times we’re living through.

 

The Killer You Know


 


 

PhoebePhoebe Morgan

Phoebe is an Editorial Director at HarperCollins working on crime, thrillers, women’s fiction and sagas.

Her first novel, The Doll House, was published in 2017 followed by The Girl Next Door in 2019. Her third book, The Babysitter, will be out in May 2020.

You can follow Phoebe on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

I have very uncool music tastes! Lately I’ve been listening to musicals a lot because as a rule, they’re pretty upbeat – so when I’m out on my daily run or walk (during lockdown) I might put Abba on, or the Grease soundtrack. It helps with the exercising, and distracts my mind for a little while too because you end up picturing the scenes from the musicals as you listen. You can’t beat a bit of Mamma Mia!

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

I’m quite an anxious person so I wouldn’t say anything in particular is a magic cure, but I have definitely found solace in exercising regularly. I’ve been running almost every day, and my mood massively improves afterwards – it helps when it’s sunny and you can get a bit of vitamin D, too! During this lockdown, I’ve also been restricting the amount of time I spend looking at the news, because I’ve found that overall it’s just really anxiety inducing, and my time is better spent doing something productive – so running, reading, or writing. Writing does help with anxiety, too, there’s something quite meditative about putting the words on the page.

 

Can you tell us about a place that holds special memories for you?

I love the Regent’s Canal in Angel, Islington – it’s near where I was born, and I also lived in a flat just off it a few years ago. The flat was pretty much falling down, but I didn’t mind because I loved being near the water, and going to sit and watch the boats slowly going by. I often went down there to think about plot problems whilst writing, actually.

 

What activities have you turned to during lockdown to pass any newfound time?

I’ve ordered lots of vegetable seeds, so we’ve been planting them out on our roof space. It’s so restorative watching them grow, and nurturing them – plus, we’ll have lots of fresh food to eat when they start to produce (that’s the plan, anyway…). I’ve also tried to read more for pleasure – I read a lot for work as I’m a full-time editor, but finding a bit of time to read some of the novels I’ve wanted to read for ages has been truly wonderful.

 

What/ who is your turn to book or author for helping you escape from the real world?

Oh, so many! I mainly read crime and thrillers, and I love writers like Liz Nugent, Sabine Durrant, Sarah Vaughan, Harriet Lane…I also love Maggie O’Farrell, and Kate Atkinson – and I just finished Sweet Caress by William Boyd which was excellent, and so escapist because it’s historical, beginning in 1908 through to 1977. Highly recommend!

 

Phoebe's


 


DomDominic Nolan

Dominic Nolan was born and raised in north London.  His acclaimed debut novel  Past Life introduced us to the damaged, obsessive and determined Detective Abigail Boone. She made her return last month in After Dark .

You can read Dominic’s individual Five on Friday here.

You can follow Dominic on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

Summer of ’96 was a liminal period between school years and real-world adulthood, most of which was spent getting drunk and going to music festivals. It’s not so much the actual good music that was released back then that makes me spontaneously smile now, but those times when I accidentally catch songs that were in the ether that summer, some good and some godawful; Smashing Pumpkins’ 1979, Fugees’ Ready or Not, Babylon Zoo’s Spaceman, Screaming Trees’ All I Know, Lionrock’s Straight At Yer Head, OMD’s How Bizarre. Possibly a demonstration of the dangers of nostalgia.

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

Old movies. I remember Sundays in the sitting room as a kid while mum had the press iron out, back when network television still ran real films. Nowadays, I especially love Hollywood screwballs or musicals; Barbara Stanwyck’s fabulous con artist in The Lady Eve, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant sparring in Holiday and The Philadelphia Story, or anything with Gene Kelly. But also the noirs; Robert Mitchum and Janet Greer in Out of the Past and The Big Steal, a delirious Ann Savage in Detour, anything with Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea, Gene Tierney, Richard Widmark, and, of course, Bogie and Bacall. By complete coincidence, the movies Boone loves in Past Life and After Dark are also the movies I love. Who’d have thunk?

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

The first family holiday I remember is going to Dordogne with my parents and nan. We stayed in converted farm-buildings arranged round a quadrangle, and walked in the woods everyday where there was a giant crocodile. We visited Sarlat, and the picturesque Renaissance architecture lodged itself in my head as a magical town of stone towers and balconies.

Years later, I saw Sarlat again and although it was still a lovely place, as I had grown the magic had somehow shrunk. I guess what I’m saying is this; don’t revisit the magical realms of your mind, because they won’t live up to expectations. I know I’m never going back to those woods, in case I discover that giant crocodile was actually just a fallen tree.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

I’ve been writing full time for the last few years, so in terms of my usual day nothing much has changed. I’m first-drafting something, so I’m as busy as I ever get (i.e. not that busy…), but we’ve been putting the anthology together too, which was a pleasant as well as worthwhile distraction.

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

There’s a pile of terrific looking proofs and new purchases gathering dust, but I’ve found I only have bandwidth for old favourites at the moment. I’ve been blasting through some Anita Brookners I hadn’t read yet, who writes such clever and beautiful prose, and as much Mick Herron as I can. I came to the Slough House novels late, and almost immediately decided to buy them all but ration their reading to string them out. Burned that plan; have read two series novels, a novella, and an ancillary novel in the last few weeks. Short stories have been helpful; I leave collections scattered about and dip into them here and there for a few minutes. Lucia Berlin, John O’Hara, Janet Kauffman, William Trevor.

 

Dom's


 


 

Robert ScraggRobert Scragg

Robert Scragg is a northerner born and bred, and has had a random mix of jobs to date, including bookseller, pizza deliverer, Karate instructor, and Football Coach.

Writing was something he hadn’t done much of since he left school, until around seven years ago when an idea for a book popped up that he found too interesting to ignore. His debut novel, What Falls Between the Cracks, introduced Porter & Styles who have since appeared in two further titles – Nothing Else Remains and All that is Buried.

Robert lives in Tyne & Wear, with his wife, children and dog.

You can follow Robert on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

Bit of a random one, but it’d be Do They Know It’s Christmas – the original version. For some reason I ended up singing it at a karaoke bar years ago with a group of friends, and it just kind of stuck. Now it’s the go-to tune any time we’re together and drunk – be it on a juke box or karaoke. Gets us some strange looks if we play it in the middle of summer, but hey-ho.

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

If there’s something bothering me that’s really putting me off my stride, best medicine in the world is for me to down tools, go and hang out with my wife and kids for a bit. That always puts things back into perspective for me.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

The beach near my house, at Tynemouth. It’s one of mine and my wife’s favourite places, and we’re regular’s down there with the kids and our dog, regardless of the weather. It’s also been part of my publication day celebrations for each book so far – a beach walk followed by a bacon sandwich at one of the nearby cafes.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new-found time?

I’m having to really brush up on my drawing skills. My son has just turned two, and is constantly asking for me to draw for him – basically any words he can say, that’s what I need to draw. My repertoire so far includes dragons, owls, whales, and a rather poor self-portrait! He’s also fascinated by my guitar, which I’ve barely touched in a couple of years, so that’s giving me the motivation to pick it up and learn a few new songs.

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

If I can only pick one (he says begrudgingly), I’d go for Harlan Coben. He’s one of my all-time favourite thriller writers, and absolutely one of the people that inspired me to write. He’s really got the knack of creating some of the most engaging and three-dimensional characters you’ll find, that drag you into his world even more so than the storyline itself.

 

Robert's


 


 

VictoriaVictoria Selman

Victoria’s first novel, Blood for Blood, was shortlisted for the 2017 Debut Dagger Award and is a Kindle #1 bestseller. Her second novel, Nothing to Lose went straight to #22 on the Kindle Movers & Shakers chart. Her latest novel Snakes and Ladders sees the third outing for profiler Ziba MacKenzie.

She has written for The Daily ExpressHam & High and Independent newspapers and in 2013 she won the Full Stop Short Story Prize.

You can follow Victoria on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

Republica- Ready to Go. – It’s such a strong, upbeat song. I blasted it out before my Finals. It didn’t do much for my grades, but it did make me feel braver about walking into the exam hall.

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

Talking to my friends. I find it helpful to get a fresh perspective and voicing my worries lets me shed them. Although I miss hanging out with my friends (and right now it’s hard to imagine ever going to a bar or café again) apps like Zoom have made lockdown so much easier. In fact, we’re even discussing a Zoom launch party for Afraid of the Light!

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

There’s a little restaurant on the canal at Little Venice, in London where I came up with the idea for Blood for Blood and my protagonist, an ex-special forces criminal profiler, called Ziba MacKenzie.

Ziba is gutsy, fierce and in your face; confronting her own demons as well as society’s most dangerous minds. I don’t know what it was about the serene canal setting that made me conceive of such a badass character but I do know it’s why I decided to base her there- in a flat overlooking the same water I was sitting by with my glass of wine and goats cheese salad.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

I have ten and twelve-year-old boys so there hasn’t been much ‘new found time’ during lockdown! Having said that, working on Afraid of the Light has also kept me busy. I’ve loved supporting a charity that offers a lifeline of support at a time when so many of us feel alone and scared. Whilst collaborating with fourteen other writers has also been a wonderful way to stay ‘connected’ and a great distraction from the cabin fever that’s really starting to set in.

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

Books you can get lost in are always the best form of escape. There are so many authors I admire, but Thomas Harris is probably my favourite. I love his clean writing style, breakneck storylines and leap off the page characters. Hannibal Lecter is so well drawn he’s often referenced in articles on psychopathy as though he were a real person. Amazing!

 

Victoria's


 


 

cofKate Simants

Kate Simants is a writer of psychological thrillers and crime fiction.

After a decade working in the UK television industry, specialising in investigative documentaries, police shows and undercover work, Kate relocated from London to Bristol to concentrate on writing. Her novel Lock Me In was shortlisted for the 2015 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, and is published by HarperCollins.

Kate won the 2019 Bath Novel Award with her second novel A Ruined Girl, which is due out in August.

You can follow Kate on Twitter 

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

I’ve recently discovered a band called Magic Sword, who are this brilliantly eccentric but rather dark synth wave act. They have a song called In the Face of Evil which I love, because my son, who’s seven, loves dancing to it with his lightsabre.

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

Distraction. I can turn a minor worry into an interminable spiral of doom if I don’t just force myself to do something active or absorbing that takes my mind of things as a reset.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

Although my house is teeny small and fairly uninspiring, I’m lucky enough to live sixty seconds from a beautiful woodland nature reserve. I’ve taken my children there since they were small and it’s always been a happy place for us, even in the driving rain.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

Ha! I definitely have less spare time now than I did before! Working on Afraid of the Light has been wonderful – it’s been great to have a shared project with colleagues, because I did work alone for much of the time even when the world was normal. I’ve been pretty busy helping out with the community response in my town, and doing some shifts for a local project making PPE in a school hall, which has been quite fun. At home, I’ve been working on a book with my daughter, and I learnt macramé like it’s 1976. I can also now solve a Rubik’s cube in under three minutes – I’m trying to find a way of framing this so it doesn’t sound like procrastination but I’m struggling…

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

I’d like to say something impressive like Tolstoy but if I’m completely honest, it’s Harry Potter all the way. That or Kurt Vonnegut’s letters. I like to pretend we would have been mates, in another world.

 

Kate's

 


 


 

IMG_1504Adam Southward

Adam Southward is a philosophy graduate with a professional background in IT, working in both publishing and the public sector. He lives on the south coast of England with his young family.

His series of books, Trance, Pain and the forthcoming Mirror all feature Alex Madison, a former forensic psychologist turned private therapist.

You can follow Adam on Twitter

 

Which song or piece of music never fails to raise a smile and why?

The soundtrack to the film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again…. because my daughters played it non-stop on a recent family trip to Australia (Christmas 2018). It reminds me of sunshine in the winter, golden beaches, lazing by the pool, road trips along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, and my family!

 

What works for you when you’re feeling anxious?

Intense distractions: Writing (getting lost in a scene) and exercise (getting lost in the pain and exhaustion). It’s escapism on both fronts. Usually works.

 

Can you tell us about a place holds special memories for you?

Northern Italy – A town called Malcesine on Lake Garda. I visited many years ago on a cheap, last minute holiday (when those were still a thing). The hotel room was tiny and quite awful, but the town was the most wonderful place on earth – scenery, culture, people, food and wine. I still remember strolling the cobbled streets without a care in the world. When people ask me where I’d like to retire, I say Malcesine.

 

What activities have you turned to during ‘lockdown’ to pass any new found time?

Mostly activities with my young daughters: badminton, archery (with suckers, not real arrowheads!) and football. Indoors we pay Monopoly, which makes me wish we’d bought real arrows…

 

What/who is your ‘turn to’ book/author for helping you escape from the real world?

Escapism reading for me is science fiction or fantasy. I frequently return to the greats – Asimov, Clarke, Niven and Pournelle. If I had to pick one it would be the Foundation series by Asimov.

 

Adam's

 




 

Can I thank all the authors, who responded in record time to enable me to get this piece together. I’ve loved meeting them all, learning a little bit more about them and discovering what lifts them and gets them through when the going is less than smooth.

Hopefully it’s also tempted you to go and have a look at their collective offerings in Afraid of the Light (as well as their individual books). Afraid of the Light is available in both eBook and paperback formats so take your pick and remember all the author royalties are being donated to the Samaritans. 

Samaritans is a charity working across the UK and Ireland to reduce the number of people who take their own lives and help people who are struggling to cope with how they’re feeling or with life’s challenges. When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year.

You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit http://www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

 

Afraid of the Light

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