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Barbara Copperthwaite

PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS TO GIVE YOU SHIVERS

Month

July 2018

14 Books To Read Before You Die + GIVEAWAY #booklove #ThePerfectFriend #mustreads

As bucket lists form a part of the storyline in The Perfect Friend, I thought I’d have a bit of fun and put some authors and book bloggers on the spot. I asked probably the toughest question anyone can ask a bookworm: what’s the ONE book you’d recommend someone should read before they die? The answers are fascinating – and I’d love to hear your thoughts, too…

Authors

Liz Eeles

Today’s answer – tomorrow’s might be different – is The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. The poignant ending reduced me to a blubbering wreck.

Richard Parker

Catch-22 is just so damn clever. It’s one of those books where you relish every single word.

Valerie Dickenson

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is my recommendation.

Pam Howes

For me, Georgia, by Lesley Pearse. It inspired me to write.

Vikki Patis

Oh God. If I had to choose, it would have to be Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.

Tilly Tennant

The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly – it never moves from my top five no matter what else I read!

Graham Smith

HMS Ulysses is the perfect mix of character, pace and plot.

Emma Robinson

The book I’d recommend people to read is Small Island, by Andrea Levy, because it’s a fantastic story with great characters and stirs compassion in your heart. The one book I want to read before I die is The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I studied Dostoevsky at university but this one escaped me!

Clare Wartnaby

I’ve been thinking about this ever since you first asked me and I still can’t decide! Maybe The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver?

Patricia Gibney

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I read it years and years ago and really would love to read it again. I can remember the vivid descriptions of the trenches of World War One. It’s atmospheric and heart-breaking.

 

Bloggers

Joanne Robertson, My Chestnut Reading Tree

This is such a tough question! I’m going to be very boring and recommend Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None. I read it when I was 10 and it’s probably the book that affected me the most ever! It was my first ever experience of twist.

Linda Hill, Linda’s Book Bag

I would like to recommend Mary Anne Sate, Imbecile, which is by Alice Jolly, because it is a book that will pass by the majority of readers, but it’s the most extraordinary book I’ve ever encountered. It’s over 600 pages, yet it’s totally accessible!

Shell Baker, ‘Chelles Book Reviews

The Wronged, by Kimberly Chambers – because me and my family are in it and its bloody class!

Anne Williams, Being Anne

This might be a bit of an unexpected one, but I’d like to recommend The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. It’s years since I read it, but it made a mighty impression – despite everything tellingme it wouldn’t be a book for me. It’s a slightly frightening 700 pages long, but has a cracking story (although I’ll admit it does slow in places, but I rather like that) and far more information than anyone could ever want to know about East European vampires. I found it mesmerising.

 

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GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 28 July until 8 August inclusive, my posts on this blog will be followed by a question about the content. Find the answer, and then either comment on the post or email InvisibleAuthor@outlook.com

Every person who answers correctly will be entered into a prize draw. The competition closes at midnight UK time on Friday 3 August. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 10 August.

** Today’s question is: Tell me the one book YOU would recommend people read before they die? Let me know! **

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Perfect Friend.

TWO lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead.

ONE very lucky winner will have a CHARACTER NAMED AFTER THEM in my next book. *

WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

As well as this competition, check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, for more ways to enter over the next seven days. You can enter as many times as you want!

* Please note that the character will have your name but will not be based in any way upon you or any person living or dead. Any similarities are coincidence. They may be a good person or a bad person – they could even be a killer. So be prepared! The part they play may be large or small. Entry into the competition is taken as agreement to these conditions. Thank you.

About THE PERFECT FRIEND

TPF-YELLOWHR

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.

My husband has left me.

My children won’t speak to me.

My friend Carrie is the only person I have.

She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.

She’d never do anything to let me down.

Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page.

THE PERFECT FRIEND is available on: AmazoniBookstore; KoboGoogleplay

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A look to the future + GIVEAWAY #ThePerfectFriend #writerslife #summerreads #amreading #amwriting

With The Perfect Friend still riding high, I’ve started writing what will be my sixth book after a character and scenario entered my head that was too delicious to resist.

I’m not a plotter, instead I tend to write key scenes as they come to me, all the time thinking about how the book will develop and where the scenes will slot in. The opening scene is always so important to get right, and I’ve been frustrated that it wasn’t appearing in my mind, but the other day I went out for a jog and…hey presto, there it was suddenly.

Having enjoyed beginning the writing process of my last book in a notebook, and finding it much easier than feeling intimidate by a blank screen on my laptop, I’ve done the same with this one. Now, though, I’m ready to hit the keyboard hard.

So what can I tell you about the book? Well, inevitably not a lot! All I can give you is this…

Journalist and much-loved wife Ruth Sherwood has been dead for two years when she is arrested for stealing a sandwich. When she takes off her coat at the police station, she’s covered in blood…

That’s as much as I can say!

The research for this has been fascinating so far – and I’m scaring myself in the process, although possibly not as much as I am my partner.  There’s no title for it yet, but it will be out in early 2019. In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to read, why not try The Perfect Friend, my latest psychological thriller.

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GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 28 July until 8 August inclusive, my posts on this blog will be followed by a question about the content. Find the answer, and then either comment on the post or email InvisibleAuthor@outlook.com

Every person who answers correctly will be entered into a prize draw. The competition closes at midnight UK time on Friday 3 August. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 10 August.

** Today’s question is: When first writing my books, do I prefer to work on a laptop or in a notebook? Let me know! **

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Perfect Friend.

TWO lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead.

ONE very lucky winner will have a CHARACTER NAMED AFTER THEM in my next book. *

WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

As well as this competition, check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, for more ways to enter over the next seven days. You can enter as many times as you want!

* Please note that the character will have your name but will not be based in any way upon you or any person living or dead. Any similarities are coincidence. They may be a good person or a bad person – they could even be a killer. So be prepared! The part they play may be large or small. Entry into the competition is taken as agreement to these conditions. Thank you.

About THE PERFECT FRIEND

TPF-YELLOWHR

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.

My husband has left me.

My children won’t speak to me.

My friend Carrie is the only person I have.

She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.

She’d never do anything to let me down.

Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page.

THE PERFECT FRIEND is available on: AmazoniBookstore; KoboGoogleplay

The importance of setting – and why I chose Tynemouth for THE PERFECT FRIEND (+ GIVEAWAY!) #ThePerfectFriend #summerreads

Deciding on the setting of a book is always so important. It helps to create the atmosphere that will inform the entire story; for me, location is almost a character itself, and getting it right is key. I generally choose a place where I’ve lived, such as Blackheath or Colchester, even the fictional village of Fenmere was geographically based on the village where I’d grown up in Lincolnshire. So what made me choose Tynemouth for THE PERFECT FRIEND, given I’ve never lived there?

I’d actually spent five months working on a completely different book, before abandoning it. Much of that time had been spent being ill and having medical tests, and the whole experience left me physically and mentally exhausted. I couldn’t face doing on more work on that manuscript. In fact, I confided in my friend, Julieanne, that I feared I’d never write another book. All I’d had were some thoughts about the kind of character I’d like to write about, but no clue how to make it into a book, and certainly no plot.

Julieanne is my oldest friend, we’ve known each other since we were thirteen, and she instantly came up with an incredible offer. She was going away for half term, which meant her house in Tynemouth would be empty.

‘Come over, use it as your own, and get away from everything,’ she said.

So, after a four-hour drive I found myself in Tynemouth, wandering along the beach with my dog, Scamp by my side. My mind wandered as much as my feet, aimless thoughts drifting as I was soothed by the hypnotic sound of the waves. There was a pile of kelp on some rocks, tangled as rope and as thick as my wrist, and from nowhere they inspired an image. It flickered to life, building into a scene. Words bloomed, imagery slotting into place. I needed to write this down – quick.

After hurrying to my friend’s house, I looked at my laptop. My stomach churned with nerves at the thought of opening it. Instead, I pulled out a notebook I’d brought with me, and within seconds my pen sped over the pages.

Over the following days, I went for long walks, covering between eight and ten miles a day while wandering around North Shields, Tynemouth, Cullercoats Bay, Whitley Bay, and St Mary’s Lighthouse. The notebook came with me everywhere, but I never once tried to think of anything, instead enjoying the beautiful scenery and the relaxing atmosphere – and that was exactly why the ideas raced through me. I stopped regularly to write in it, popping into local cafes and pubs to sit down, refuel, write down ideas, then walk on. By the end of the week I had a notebook full of scenes, two fascinating protagonists, and an intricate idea for a book that really excited me.

So many of the places I visited appear in The Perfect Friend – even the hot chocolate inspired me (if you’ve read The Perfect Friend, I’m sure you know the scene I’m talking about). More than anything, though, I hope I’ve captured the atmosphere of Tynemouth and surrounding area, with its rugged beauty and hypnotic sea. Without Tynemouth the book wouldn’t exist, so it only seems fitting that it should be the setting for The Perfect Friend.

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GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 28 July until 8 August inclusive, my posts on this blog will be followed by a question about the content. Find the answer, and then either comment on the post or email InvisibleAuthor@outlook.com

Every person who answers correctly will be entered into a prize draw. The competition closes at midnight UK time on Friday 3 August.. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 10 August.

** Today’s question is: What first inspired me when I reached Tynemouth? Let me know! **

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Perfect Friend.

TWO lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead.

ONE very lucky winner will have a CHARACTER NAMED AFTER THEM in my next book. *

WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

As well as this competition, check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, for more ways to enter over the next seven days. You can enter as many times as you want!

* Please note that the character will have your name but will not be based in any way upon you or any person living or dead. Any similarities are coincidence. They may be a good person or a bad person – they could even be a killer. So be prepared! The part they play may be large or small. Entry into the competition is taken as agreement to these conditions. Thank you.

About THE PERFECT FRIEND

TPF-YELLOWHR

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.

My husband has left me.

My children won’t speak to me.

My friend Carrie is the only person I have.

She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.

She’d never do anything to let me down.

Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page.

THE PERFECT FRIEND is available on: AmazoniBookstore; KoboGoogleplay

My journey to publication + GIVEAWAY #ThePerfectFriend #writerslife

There used to be one way only to become a successful author: first get an agent, then land a publishing deal. That was it. Now, there are numerous routes – which can make it both easier and harder to know what to do. In a short series, authors share their fascinating personal journey to publication with me. Today, to celebrate the launch of my latest book, and to kickstart a week of competitions and giveaways, I’m sharing my own experience…

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Recently I attended the Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival, in Harrogate, a fabulous three-day event attended by readers, bloggers, and incredible household names such as Lee Child, Val McDermid, and Martina Cole. Several times I spotted an author who I’d have loved to speak to – Mark Edwards – and if I’d only had the courage to walk up to him I’d have told him how, inadvertently, he put me on the path to where I am today.

I’ve spent most of my working life earning a living through the written word. When I was 19 I was working behind bar, unsure of what I’d do with my life, when I spotted an advert in my local paper for a trainee reporter. I could do that, I decided, and when I reached the interview I somehow managed to persuade the editor that bar work and journalism were actually very similar (you need to be able to talk to anyone, put people at ease, assess situations quickly if they become fractious and know how to diffuse them, that kind of thing).

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That was the beginning of my career as a journalist, and from the Skegness Standard and Louth Standard, I worked my way up until I was writing for national newspapers then finally magazines, where I moved into editing and management. By this stage I was in my mid-thirties and an idea for a book had started to develop slowly in my mind, but I wasn’t sure how one went about writing a book or getting it published. It was while I was deputy editor of a magazine that I spotted an article in a rival magazine that caught my attention. Two authors, Louise Voss and Mark Edwards, were talking about how they’d self-published a book and subsequently landed a publishing deal.

Now that sounds interesting,I thought, wandering over to the photocopier.

That copy stayed folded up in my handbag for months, pulled out, smoothed and re-read several times. Finally, I bought myself the smallest, cheapest laptop I could find and started writing. I began a couple of books, but never got further than a couple of thousand words, but I was flexing my fiction-writing muscles, which had never been used before. Soon I felt ready to tackle the idea that wouldn’t go away, about a woman in a boring marriage who by a twist of fate becomes one of the most hated women in Britain.

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I couldn’t quite believe it when I wrote The End the first time. I’d done it. The next step (after a LOT of editing) was to send it off to agents and try to get a publishing deal. I was nervous, excited, but in the back of my mind was something else…ambivalence. That article with Louise Voss and Mark Edwards kept popping into my mind. Within weeks I was getting rejections from the five agents I’d sent my manuscript to. A couple of them had requested to read in full, and although they were full of praise for the idea, the writing, the atmosphere…ultimately no one wanted to take it on.

Instead of feeling discouraged, I actually felt really positive. No one had said it was dreadful and that I was kidding myself. In fact, they’d loved it. So I decided not to send to any more agents or publishers, instead I found out more about self-publishing, inspired by that well-worn photocopy.

It was a steep learning curve when Invisible was published on 31 March, 2014. I’d never heard of bloggers so only received about three reviews on Amazon. I did manage to land a couple of reviews in national magazines, though.

‘Totally gripping and scarily believably characters. One of the most assured debuts of the year,’ concluded Bella magazine. Sales picked up. They were nothing to set the world on fire, but enough for me to decide to keep at writing.

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My next book, Flowers For The Dead, did even better, hitting Number 24 overall on Amazon UK’s chart. It even beat Lee Child’s latest offering, to be chosen as the Sunday Mirror’s Pick of the Week, which was a HUGE feather in my cap.

While writing Flowers For The Dead, I’d also begun blogging, recommending and reviewing my favourite books. There was one publisher that I particularly liked. It was small, a new start-up, but I loved the crime fiction they were producing. Through my reviews I made connections with a couple of the authors, and got to know the person who did the company’s social media and marketing. What struck me was not only how talented everyone was, but that everyone was so friendly and nice. I made a decision – I really, really wanted to be published by this company. Their name? Bookouture.

One of their editors followed me on Twitter and I almost had a heart attack I was so excited. So when I finished my third book, I sent it off to her and crossed everything. But just in case, I also sent it to a couple of other publishers and agents. It got a lot of interest and several offers, but when Bookouture expressed interest I almost snapped their hand off I replied so quickly! They offered me a four-book deal, and I couldn’t believe my luck.

Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash
Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

Now, all of this sounds a bit fairytale-like. The truth is, of course, different. During the first few years of being an author, I had to tighten my belt so much I almost cut myself in half. When the offer came in from Bookouture, I had to have a long discussion with my partner about whether or not I should go for it, because they don’t pay an advance, and it meant I’d be earning even less than usual until the royalty cheques started coming in – and there was no guarantee they’d be more than 50p a time! The hours are long and tiring, and there have been times I’m literally barely capable of speech because I’ve been writing since 4am and only finished at 10pm. There have been numerous times I’ve thought about giving up, because I’d run out of ideas, or reviews were getting to me (because inevitably I only listen to the bad reviews, not the good ones) or my health has been bad. Dreams only come true with hard work and sacrifice.

But for as long as I’m on this rollercoaster ride I’m going to thank my lucky stars I’ve made it this far, and enjoy every minute of it. My fifth psychological thriller, THE PERFECT FRIEND, was published at the start of this month and I’m keeping everything crossed that once again readers enjoy one of my books and tell their friends about it – perhaps even leave a review on Amazon, or whichever site they bought it from. Who knows? Without reading that interview with Louise Voss and Mark Edwards I might still be working in an office, dreaming about becoming an author but not knowing how to do it.

october-comps-2

 

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 28 July until 8 August inclusive, my posts on this blog will be followed by a question about the content. Find the answer, and then either comment on the post or email InvisibleAuthor@outlook.com

Every person who answers correctly will be entered into a prize draw. The competition closes at midnight UK time on Friday 3 August.. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 10 August.

** Today’s question is: Which publisher did I sign with? Let me know! **

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Perfect Friend.

TWO lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead.

ONE very lucky winner will have a CHARACTER NAMED AFTER THEM in my next book. *

WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

As well as this competition, check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, for more ways to enter over the next seven days. You can enter as many times as you want!

* Please note that the character will have your name but will not be based in any way upon you or any person living or dead. Any similarities are coincidence. They may be a good person or a bad person – they could even be a killer. So be prepared! The part they play may be large or small. Entry into the competition is taken as agreement to these conditions. Thank you.

About THE PERFECT FRIEND

TPF-YELLOWHR

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.

My husband has left me.

My children won’t speak to me.

My friend Carrie is the only person I have.

She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.

She’d never do anything to let me down.

Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page.

THE PERFECT FRIEND is available on: AmazoniBookstore; KoboGoogleplay

Books That Changed My Life: AMANDA BRITTANY @amandajbrittany @HQDigitalUK @HarperCollins #booklove #writerslife

Ever been influenced by a book? I have, many times, although I haven’t always realised its full impact until much later. Today, debut psychological thriller author AMANDA BRITTANY shares with me the books that have changed her life…

About Amanda Brittany

Amanda Brittany lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two dogs. She loves travelling, and visiting Abisko in Sweden inspired her to write ‘Her Last Lie’. She began writing fiction nine years ago, and hashad 200 stories and articles published in magazines globally. When her younger sister became terminally ill, Amanda’s hope was to write a novel where her royalties went to Cancer Research. ‘Her Last Lie’ is that book, and all of Amanda’s royalties for ebook downloads will go to that charity. ‘Her Last Lie’ is her debut novel.

Amanda Brittany

BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

Amanda says: ‘I’ve loved reading since I was a little girl, and learnt to read at a very young age. I was brought up in Hertfordshire, Mum was a dinner lady, and Dad a maintenance engineer, and one of my favourite childhood memories is our monthly visit to Hitchin Library. The children’s section was upstairs, and my younger sister and I would race up into what felt like a magical world of books. My sister would head straight for the Enid Blyton’s, but I was never into Enid, perhaps because my sister was. Instead I would rummage through the shelves for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s books, including The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, and magical stories like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

One particular book that has stayed with me is The Dolls House by Rumer Godden, which was first published in 1947. I think the book appealed to my active imagination. I spent many hours as a child playing with my dolls – having them speak to each other – in fact, they had so many picnics I’m surprised they didn’t gain weight – so I could really relate to The Dolls House.  

The Dolls House

In my late teens, I was hooked on novels by Susan Howarth: The Dark Shore, The Waiting Sands, April’s Grave, Call in the Night, The Shrouded Walls and The Devil on Lammas Night were all devoured in a very short time. They were considered Gothic thrillers, often with a twist, and fitted perfectly into my teen world. I also read Penmarric, which was the longest book I’d ever read at the time, and I was very proud of that fact. 

April's Grave

In my twenties I gobbled up all of Agatha Christie’s novels. My favourite being And then there were None. I loved the way Christie hid the true villain from her reader with such genius plots. I’m still a fan, and went to visit Agatha Christie’s holiday home ‘Greenway’ on the banks of the River Dart in Devon, and picked up Dead Man’s Folly again, which was influenced by the house. 

'And then there were none' cover

Later, Susan Hill’s Woman in Black captured my imagination, and like no other book before, gave me nightmares. It isn’t a long book, but in my opinion very chilling, and extremely memorable. I’m sure reading it inspired me to try my hand at ghostly short stories. 

I read Diane Settlefield’s The Thirteenth Tale seven years ago, and this atmospheric book is one of my all-time favourites. It’s beautifully written, and full of twists and turns.  

Thirteenth Tale Cover

I’m a huge fan of David Nicholls. I loved Starter for Ten, a poignant tale about growing up in the 1980s, and coping with friendship and love – and it’s very funny. And I adored One Day, which has the claim-to-fame of being the first book to make me cry in a public place.  

Starter for Ten cover

And finally, my list wouldn’t be complete without J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The books have had such a huge impact on my family’s life over the past twenty-one years. 

About Alice’s book, HER MOTHER’S DAUGHTER

 Her Last Lie_FINAL

She thought she was free of the past. She was wrong.

Six years ago Isla was the only victim to walk free from Carl Jeffery’s vicious murder spree. Now, Isla vows to live her life to the fullest and from the outside it appears perfect.

Determined to finish her book Isla plans her final trip to Sweden, but after returning from Canada and meeting a man she never thought she would, her life begins to derail.

Suddenly Isla is plagued by memories of the man who tried to murder her, and the threat that he could be back causes her to question everything, and everyone around her.

This debut psychological thriller will have you closing down social media accounts, looking over your shoulder, and hooked until the very last line.

Perfect for fans of Sweet Little Lies, Friend Request and Louise Jensen

Find out more about Amanda on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Website

Blog

Dream come true, THE PERFECT FRIEND is in COSMOPOLITAN online! @Cosmopolitan @CosmopolitanUK #beachreads #summerreads #psychologicalthriller

After the excitement of the last few days at Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, I was expecting to possibly have a touch of ‘holiday blues’ today. Time to get back to reality, and writing non-stop. Then I got the most wonderful shock, when I discovered THE PERFECT FRIEND has been included in a round-up in Cosmopolitan of summer must-reads!

26 of the best psychological thriller books to add to your reading list

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I’m absolutely blown away to be in such incredible company, especially as some of the other authors are friends of mine. To read the article, click here.

It’s the cherry on top of what has been the most incredible time since publication, hovering at Number 21 on Amazon UK’s bestseller list, and the Top 50 in America, as well as hitting Number 1 on Kobo! Thank you so much to everyone who has bought The Perfect Friend so far.

THE PERFECT FRIEND is currently ONLY 99p/99c for a LIMITED TIME. Available on:AmazoniBookstore; KoboGoogleplay

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Murder, meat pies & books, books, books! My first #TheakstonsCrime experience

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Spot the author!

How on earth do I do justice to the wonderful, book-filled whirlwind that is Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival? I can’t possibly is the short answer! But I’m going to give you a flavour of my first trip to this fabulous Harrogate event anyway…

I can be really shy when meeting people, so I was a bit nervous in the run up, to be honest. Would it be difficult to get chatting to people, or would I end up wandering around alone after trying and failing to start conversations with strangers? The likely scenario of me lurking in the corner of a room like a potted plant kept popping into my mind.

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At least the ice would be broken with drinks with my agent, Jane Gregory, and a number of other authors, including Amer Anwar, Rachel Abbott, Val McDermid, Michelle Davies, and Harriet Tryce, to name a few (there is such a buzz building around Harriet’s debut, Blood Orange, and after meeting her and hearing about it myself, I am desperate to read a copy!). Everyone was so friendly and chatty that I started to relax.

In fact, this was the theme for the entire three-day event and my memories will be of laughter, amazing conversation, incredible authors, and wonderful readers. We were all there because books, especially crime fiction, are our passion – frankly, I was in heaven! I talked about meat pies and murder with reader Michele Young; stood star-struck as big names such as Martina Cole, Lee Child, Linwood Barclay, and CL Taylor wandered past; discussed the writing process with Graham Smith; chatted about my latest book with William Shaw (he’s reading it right now – eek! I adored his book, The Birdwatcher, so am honoured and nervous he’s now reading mine); met powerhouse Tracy Fenton, of THE Book Club on Facebook; laughed with the super-talented Louise Beech; signed bags and kindles and books for readers… There were so many wonderful people I spoke to, and so many happy memories that listing them all would fill a book. Best of all, at no time did I resemble that potted plant.

A personal highlight was talking to Elizabeth Haynes, incredible author of psychological thrillers – including one of my all-time favourites, Into The Darkest Corner (if you haven’t read this yet, firstly, where have you been all this time? Secondly, do check it out if you get the chance!).

Now that I’m back at home, I’m tired, happy, and wondering if it was all a dream. Back to reality, and returning to writing my next book – but at least I have some lovely photographs to remember the event by.

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Me, author Malcom Hollingdrake and blogger Shell Baker

 

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Emma Tallon, me, Tom Bale, Emma Mitchell, and Shell Baker

 

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With the fabulously funny and talented author Louise Beech

 

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The crime festival is held at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, which has long had crime links

 

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Meeting a writing hero of mine, Elizabeth Haynes
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Dinner with some of my wonderful Bookouture colleagues, including Kim Nash, Susie Lynes, Patricia Gibney, and Emma Tallon

 

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THE Book Club on Facebook founder Tracy Fenton

 

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Dinner at Luigi’s with uber-talented authors Emma Tallon and Susie Lynes, and my friend Julieanne (check out the acknowledgments in THE PERFECT FRIEND to discover how my latest psychological thriller wouldn’t have happened with her)
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Cheers! Time for a drink with Sumaira Wilson, Susie Lynes and Shell Baker

 

 

 

#Exclusive #Extract #ThePerfectFriend by Barbara Copperthwaite @Bookouture #CrimeThriller #Books #BeachReads

Who would like to read an exclusive extract of The Perfect Friend, my latest psychological thriller? I’m so excited to be sharing this with you – and once you’ve met Alex and Carrie you’ll be haunted by their tangled secrets…

First, here’s the blurb…

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She’ll do anything for you…

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.
My husband has left me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My friend Carrie is the only person I have.
She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.
She’d never do anything to let me down.
Would she?

*****

CHAPTER ONE

NOW

From my first breath, I was destined to be a freak. The signs were there in my childhood, concerns as I grew up, narrowing down to a vanishing point of the here and now, where everyone in the room is staring, waiting for me to speak. An awkward cough here, the clearing of a throat there, a chair leg scraping over the wooden floor as someone shifts, all absorbed by the expectant silence of the small community hall.

The circle of twenty or so plastic chairs cups me as I prepare to talk. Once, that would have made me too self-conscious to speak, but instead it comforts. I know the deepest, darkest secrets of all the people looking at me, leaning forward to catch every word. They know mine, too – or a sanitised version, anyway. This is a safe space created for confession. Still, I’m trying to decide how much truth to tell. This started as little white lies. Then the white turned to a black blight that blotted out everything, running out of control.

My name is Alex Appleby. I’m 44. I’m a dressmakerThe words are so clichéd I can’t help silently sounding them in my head before I take the plunge. A deep preparatory breath assaults my nose with the smell of Pledge and Windolene. I supress a sneeze, then speak.

‘I’m a liar. Well, a recovering anorexic, and all I did during my illness was lie to cover my tracks and keep my addiction alive.

‘“I ate earlier, and I’m still stuffed.”

‘“I’m saving myself for my big meal tonight.”

‘“That was so tasty, I’ve scoffed the lot” – this one, incidentally, is the best: I always had the food hidden in a napkin, or my pockets, or my handbag.

‘It’s only just occurred to me, now I’m recovering, how many lies have been told to everyone who cares about me. I’m ashamed. I always thought of myself as an honest person. Of course, that could be a lie, too.’

My laugh is self-deprecating, and my audience take their cue, faces breaking into smiles.

The support group started out when the leader, Jackie, had been in a car accident and found it hard to cope. She’d wanted to talk to others who’d suffered a similar trauma but hadn’t been able to find a group locally. Being a bustling force-of-nature type who, once she makes up her mind about something, won’t let go of the idea, she started this one herself. Her second member had been Lainey, who had joined because she’d been mown down while on a pedestrian crossing and suffered flashbacks; but she was also grateful because as a result of the accident, doctors had diagnosed her pancreatic cancer early enough to save her life easily. Eventually, Lainey left, but not before recruiting first me – after we got chatting one day in the hospital café, over in Newcastle– and then Carrie, a fellow cancer sufferer, although hers was breast.

There were other members, too, who had been through all sorts, from rape to bereavement to the shock of being burgled. Jackie didn’t mind that her group had morphed into support for people who had been through all manner of trauma, rather than only for accident victims. It was nice for all of us to share in the group, getting to know each other. Even though our experiences were so different, at the root of our issues were similar emotions: fear, anger, difficulty in coping, the urge to pretend to be strong as we fell apart. Dealing with the change in the way people reacted to us. The sense that our lives were split into Before and After.

In the circle, I seek out Carrie’s reaction to my words. She grins, gives me a double thumbs up of encouragement, still unaware that I, her new best friend, have other lies that involve her. There’s an ulterior motive in taking her under my wing.

My words are for her more than anything, warning her I’m not all that I seem.

‘I haven’t just fibbed to others, I’ve failed to be honest with myself – some of the biggest lies people tell are to themselves,’ I add. ‘At my lowest, even my own body tricked me. My starving carcass released endorphins, chemicals designed to make me feel good, to mask the pain it was in and help keep me going. Giving up that rush is hard, and now I’m no longer in the grip of my eating disorder it’s a struggle without those endorphins. I need to find something else that can fill that hole and make me feel good about myself, but what, and how?

‘At my worst, I hallucinated, my eyes literally deceiving me. After three days without food or sleep, I thought I was caged in a red and white circus tent, like something from a freak show, while an audience trailed past me, pointing and laughing. It felt so real. See how easily we can deceive ourselves into accepting an altered reality? The doctors told me it was most likely caused by an electrolyte disturbance, probably due to inadequate nutrition. Whatever it was, I was so delirious that two nurses had to hold me down. That was when I was at rock bottom.’

The memory makes me feel shame at how low I’d reached, but also pride at how far I’ve come. Everyone is silent, intent as priests at confession. Carrie nods at me.

‘At one point, my twins appeared at my bedside to say they could no longer cope with seeing me kill myself. “Why aren’t we enough for you to live for?” my son, Edward, asked. God, he looked so hurt and angry. How could I find the words to explain that he wasenough for me to live for? That when he’d left, I’d lost my reason to live. That by trying to find my own identity again I stumbled down this rabbit hole and fell into some kind of weird other world where the only thing that mattered to me was food. I had something I could control again. Something that no one else could mess with.

‘There is good news, though: I’m finally starting to climb out of this hole and see that there is more to life. I’m seeing the damage done and trying to repair it. I’m determined to get better. This week I put on another two pounds, and am feeling really proud.’

A ripple of clapping spreads and grows as I sit down. After several beats, Jackie speaks, her Belfast accent softened after years of living here in Tynemouth.

‘Members, thank you so much for taking part tonight. Some of us have had a tough week.’ She nods at Pat, who is dreading her birthday in a fortnight, the first since her husband, James, died. ‘Others have had a more positive one. Some have spoken, some have had the strength only to listen. Together, we support and celebrate every step. Long may it continue. Have a good week, everyone.’

With murmured thanks, people stand, break into groups, drift away. Outgoing and chatty, Carrie normally stays behind after the meeting has finished. Actually, she usually persuades us all to go to the pub for a ‘liquid debrief’, despite it being a Monday night. She’s the type of person who, at a party, dances on tables, whooping and doing shots. I’m the type who sits in the corner, watching and worrying someone will fall off the furniture and hurt themselves.

Tonight, though, Carrie’s slim body slips quickly through the crowd of fellow confessors, and through the door that says ‘emergency exit only’ but is permanently propped open. I see her expression reflected in the glass before she passes through the opening into the car park. She is biting her lip, frowning. I’m sure she catches my eye for a moment and sees me behind her, but doesn’t slow, even as I hurry to catch up.

‘Carrie, fancy some company?’

She stops, turns, but as I approach it’s clear to see her shoulders have risen, even if she doesn’t realise it. She doesn’t want to stop, but can’t think of a polite way of ignoring me, obviously. I’m pushing myself in where I’ve no place, I know, and consider making my excuses and leaving her alone, as she so obviously wants. But I also know from bitter experience that sometimes it’s when we need people that we’re most likely to isolate ourselves. It can be dangerous for someone like me, an anorexic, who hides everything all the time. So many skeletons in my closet. Carrie isn’t a recovering anorexic, though, I remind myself. Still, I can’t help sticking my nose in and hoping it won’t get bitten off.

Just in case she needs me.

My skeletons won’t let me do anything else.

*****

Just what is Alex keeping from Carrie? The secrets will put both women in danger, as someone begins to terrorise Carrie and Alex vows to protect her.

THE PERFECT FRIEND is available on: AmazoniBookstore; KoboGoogleplay

 

Books That Changed My Life: ALICE FITZGERALD @AliceFitzWrites @Miriam_Foley #booklove #amreading #writerslife

Ever been influenced by a book? I have, many times, although I haven’t always realised its full impact until much later. Today, ALICE FITZGERALD, shares with me the books that have changed her life…

About Alice Fitzgerald

Alice Fitzgerald is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been published in magazines and websites including HELLO! magazine, Yahoo Lifestyle, Happiful, Refinery29 and Hello Giggles, as well as in literary journals. Her Mother’s Daughter is her debut novel. Born in London to Irish parents, she now lives in Madrid. Her birth certificate reads Miriam Foley.

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BOOKS THAT HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE

Alice says: It was so hard to come up with a list of books that have changed my life, and I’m sure I’ll kick myself and remember lots more in the weeks to come, but the following tomes are the ones that have really helped to shape me, and my journey, in some way.

I was so young when I discovered The Famous Five by Enid Blyton that I can’t remember now which books or storylines were my favourite; just how excited I was when I read them. That absolute delight of a story that takes you to another world and has you devouring the pages and turning them impatiently, reading in the bath, the car – and in bed, way past your bedtime.

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Similarly, with The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, all I can remember is this image of the secret garden that I made in my mind. To this day, whenever I come across an overgrown garden, I remember the one from this book. The moment I came across the house deep in the forest in Hampstead Heath, London, was so magical because for me it was The Secret Garden.

I always loved English at school. I loved words and writing essays and reading – even though I was very slow. My English teacher clearly knew this, and so she lent me her copy of The Girl with Green Eyes by Edna O’Brien. She was also Irish, and called Mrs O’Brien, funnily enough. It took me a long time to read the book because to be brutally honest, I thought the cover looked really old, but when I came to read it I loved it. I’ve read several of Edna O’Brien’s books since and she has become a huge inspiration for me. I love the voices, the places, the natural Irishness of her sentences and stories.

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I have two copies of The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, on my bookshelf. One, from my A-level studies, and another that I bought thinking I had lost the previous copy. Studying this book blew my mind, it was so clever. I remember being quite naïve, or ignorant, so that when the teacher told us that places like the ones from the book actually existed, we were in shock, and in awe at Atwood. Now I’m thinking about it, I want to read it again.

As the London-born daughter of Irish parents, who lives in Madrid, I love reading Irish literature. I love reading about people coming and going, so of course I devoured the pages of Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. It so astutely explores the turmoil of emigration, something I think about often.

My sister read The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz a few years ago and told me I should read it. I did, and wow. I recommend everyone to read it. It is an incredible journey through the human psyche, told by a psychoanalist. It confirmed for me what an amazing, beautiful and delicate place the mind is.

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The Talking Heads monologues by Alan Bennett taught me a lot about writing, and about capturing the essence of human beings, and society, through words.

For me, so much of Bennetts’ monologues are all about that fine line between sadness, pity and humour… When I think of words like pathos, bathos, and satire, I think of Alan Bennett.

About Alice’s book, HER MOTHER’S DAUGHTER (currently only 99p!)

HERMOTHERSDAUGHTER

Set across two decades in London and Ireland, Her Mother’s Daughter sees the lives of a troubled and emotionally abusive mother and her innocent ten-year-old daughter change forever after one summer holiday.

1980: Josephine flees her home in Ireland, hoping never to return. She starts a new, exciting life in London, but as much as she tries, she can’t quite leave the trauma of her childhood behind.

Seventeen years and two children later, Josephine gets a call from her sister to tell her that their mother is dying and wants to see her – a summons she can’t refuse.

1997: Ten-year-old Clare is counting down to the summer holidays, when she is going to meet her grandparents in Ireland for the first time. She hopes this trip will put an end to her mum’s dark moods – and drinking.

But family secrets can’t stay buried forever and following revelations in Ireland, everything starts to unravel. Have Josephine and her daughter passed the point of no return?

Find out more by clicking here

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