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Barbara Copperthwaite

PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS TO GIVE YOU SHIVERS

DAY 11 GIVEAWAY: A glimpse of the future #amwriting #writerslife

After a summer of being dislocated writing-wise, things have been clicking into place nicely in recent weeks. The creation of my new psychological thriller feels really comfortable, everything about it seems ‘right’, and it’s throwing up some wonderful little surprises as I’m going along. It’s exhilarating and liberating. I’m so excited about this one, which will hopefully be with you in late spring/early summer.

In addition, a manuscript that I spent months on before having to abandon it because it DIDN’T feel right or comfortable, has been calling to me again. I’m taking it slowly, working on it in my spare time, and finally – yes, finally – I think I’ve ‘found’ the lead character. She never felt right, throughout all the months of working on it, and I think that’s one of the reasons why the plot wouldn’t resolve itself satisfactorily to me. How could it, when the person driving the narrative felt like an imposter? I like this new, improved version, though. She’s so different from my first imaginings, and is turning everything on its head as a result – in a good way! It may be a long time before she’s ready to be introduced to the world, but I have a feeling she’ll be worth the wait.

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I also find myself revisiting another story I was forced to abandon last year for various reasons. There’s no time to work on it properly right now, but I’m making notes galore, as ideas for it keep knocking on my brain, refusing to be ignored.

Suddenly, the writing mojo is well and truly back and I feel like myself again. I’m as excited as a child on Christmas Day as I unwrap my stories and find out what’s waiting inside them.

October-comps

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. Find it, 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 on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

So, can you find today’s Christmas reference in this post? Let me know!

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

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, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 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. 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.

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DAY 10 GIVEAWAY Where do ideas come from? #amwriting #writinginspiration

Probably the question I’m most asked is: where on earth do you get your ideas from? The short answer is that I don’t know – my brain simply seems to work that way! But I thought it might be interesting to give you a glimpse of just how my books came into being…


INVISIBLE

There are two things that always catch people’s eye on my CV: the first, that I was an air hostess for about six months, many moons ago; the second, that I worked in a men’s maximum security prison for a while.

One day, as I exchanged genuine pleasantries with one of the inmates in HMP Barlinnie, it struck me that bad guys often don’t seem that bad. They don’t wear black hats, as they do in old Westerns; they don’t look menacing; and they don’t have a name tag that says “evil” on it, or a giveaway as obvious as Rudolph’s glowing red nose. From that point on, whenever I read about a man who had committed a terrible crime, and people would inevitably say: “The wife must have known, how could she not”, I always wondered, would she? Really?

This was the inspiration behind Invisible, which is a journey into one woman’s twisted marriage – and how the biggest lies we tell are sometimes to ourselves.

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FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD

Life was hectic. I was busy writing Invisible during my train commute every morning and evening (when I could manage to get a seat), and perhaps snatching a moment during lunchbreaks. I had also just taken voluntary redundancy from my job, so was trying to tie up loose ends before I left, and organise moving from my home in Colchester to Birmingham to be with my partner. My 40th birthday was fast-approaching, and everyone kept asking me what I wanted to do, but I’d no clue. It’s fair to say, I had a LOT on my mind…and that sometimes made me a bit forgetful.

Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash
Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

One day I opened my fridge to use the last of my milk. But it wasn’t the last, there was another full carton beside it that I must have bought and forgotten about. I didn’t remember buying it at all, though.

“It must have been me, there’s no one else who could have done it,” I shrugged to myself. Then I laughed: “Unless there’s a crazed stalker breaking in just to leave me milk.”

Suddenly I stopped laughing and shivered.

From that moment came the inspiration for Adam, a stalker who wants to do kind, thoughtful things for the woman he loves. Right up until the moment he kills her. I kept thinking about how creepy it would be to have someone doing things around your home, and how easy it would be at first to write them off as absent-mindedness. No one would realise what Adam was doing until it was too late…

THE DARKEST LIES

The story in the newspaper haunted me.

Michael Payne was the father of Sarah Payne, who had been snatched from the road and murdered by Roy Whiting when she was eight. Under the strain of what had happened, his marriage broke down, and Michel moved to a new area. There, he was befriended by baby-faced Levi Bellfield, and they became drinking buddies.

It was only later that Bellfied was arrested for being a serial killer who targeted young blonde women and girls, including Milly Dowler, Amelie Delagrange, and Marsha McDonnell.

Sarah-Payne
Sarah Payne

Why on earth had this monster sought out the father of a murder victim, I wondered. The answer seemed horrifyingly obvious to me: to enjoy watching the pain of someone who had lost a child to a killer.

I kept trying to forget it, but I couldn’t – instead I found myself imagining what it must have been like for Michael when his drinking pal was arrested and the truth came out. It was the final insult to a man who had already had to endure so much heartache.

From that grew the idea of a woman who is convinced someone she has known and trusted all of her life has hurt her child. Who has done it? And why? At the heart of the tale is the devastation of loss, and the claustrophobic paranoia that my character Melanie descends into.

 

Her-Last-Secret-KindleHER LAST SECRET

You won’t believe me when I tell you…but the idea for this came while watching Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. The title triggered something one day, and the Thomas family popped into my head, each character already formed. I loved the idea of them suffering ‘death by a thousand cuts’; the accumulation of different events building to one destructive moment.

So, there you have it. Ideas come from all over, and I can never be sure what will inspire me. It can be a tragic news story, or a random act, and anything in between. My latest inspiration popped into my head as I was walking my dog along the beach, looking at some knots of seaweed, and suddenly lots of little ideas I’d had collided and slotted together until…oh, my! I’m writing it feverishly now, and I can’t wait to share that with you!

October-comps

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. Find it, 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 on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

So, can you find today’s Christmas reference in this post? Let me know!

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

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, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 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. 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.

DAY 9 GIVEAWAY The best Christmas crime books #BookReview

There are lots of lovely, warm, fuzzy books out there to give people the feel-good Christmas factor…but what if you fancy something a little darker for your festive season? Here’s my round up of the best seasonal crime and psychological thrillers!

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THE DEATHS OF DECEMBER, Susi Holliday

THEY SAY

It looks like a regular advent calendar.

Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors…and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…

It’s shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.

I SAY

An advent calendar filled with crime scene photographs rather than festive images – what a great hook. For over 20 years a serial killer, known as The Photographer, has been collecting these snaps. Now it seems they are ready to warn the police they are about to strike again. There are only ‘nine sleeps’ left until Christmas, so time is running out to catch the killer.

The book is written from different perspectives, including first-person from The Photographer, so that the reader understands why they are doing what they’re doing. The rest of the book is told in third person, and there is a lovely, easy rapport between Detectives Greene and Carmine as they race against time.

Although the book started quite slowly, it picked up pace and when it hit the middle…things took an interesting turn. This is a really easy read that will definitely entertain crime lovers.

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THE FIRE CHILD, S.K. Tremayne

THEY SAY

When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:

‘You will be dead by Christmas.’

I SAY

This is a stylish psychological thriller, with a gothic and ghostly feel to it. The set up for it is obviously a tribute to Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, but I liked that, and it moved away from that to become very much its own story.

Even from the idyllic start, there is a clever sense of tension, as the chapter headings are on a countdown to Christmas. Immediately, the reader knows something is coming, drawing ever closer…

The talent of S.K. Tremayne’s writing is obvious. If you liked the Ice Twins, you’ll know that with S.K. Tremayne what you get more than anything is a creepy feeling of suspense, the wonder of ‘is it all in the character’s head, or is this real’, and some truly fabulous, atmospheric descriptions of the setting. The author is brilliant at using landscape as another ‘character’, such is its strength and the addition it makes to the overall story. That is what you got with The Ice Twins, and you get it again with The Fire Child.

I love slow, brooding stories that build like a wave far out at sea, gathering pace and height as it sweeps you along, until it crashes over you in a conclusion that leaves you gasping. But although I was swept along, I feel as if I was carefully placed onto dry land at the end of this story. Why was that? Quite simply, the storyline isn’t the strongest, and I do think more could have been done with it. The sense of place was magnificent, and the atmosphere was taut, but seemed to come at the expense of characterization and plot. Nevertheless, it is a good story to read in the countdown to Christmas.

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AN ENGLISH MURDER, Cyril Hare

THEY SAY

The snow is thick, the phone line is down, and no one is getting in or out of Warbeck Hall. With friends and family gathered round the fire, all should be set for a perfect Christmas, but as the bells chime midnight, a mysterious murder takes place.

Who can be responsible? The scorned young lover? The lord’s passed-over cousin? The social climbing politician’s wife? The Czech history professor? The obsequious butler? And perhaps the real question is: can any of them survive long enough to tell the tale?

I SAY

Originally published in 1951, this is a book from a Golden Age of crime when things were a little more cosy, and a lot less graphic. A quick glance at the set-up and list of characters reveals a sense that the tongue may well have been firmly in the cheek of Cyril Hare as he wrote this. A murder at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, and everyone cut off due to heavy snow – the story even features a butler! It really is wonderful fun, so curl up in front of the fire, and enjoy a very English murder.

THE MISTLETOE MURDERS AND OTHER STORIES and SLEEP NO MORE: SIX MURDEROUS TALES, P.D. James

THEY SAY

THE MISTLETOE MURDERS: As the acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’ P.D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the very best of these have been rescued from the archives and are published together for the first time. P.D. James’s sparkling prose illuminates each of these perfectly formed stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. While she delights in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at enforced family gatherings, her Christmas stories also provide enjoyable puzzles to keep the reader guessing.

From the title story about a strained country house gathering on Christmas Eve, another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, and two cases for James’s poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh — each treats the reader to James’s masterfully atmospheric story-telling, always with the lure of a mystery to be solved.

SLEEP NO MORE: As the six murderous tales unfold, the dark motive of revenge is revealed at the heart of each. Bullying schoolmasters receive their comeuppance, unhappy marriages and childhoods are avenged, a murder in the small hours of Christmas Day puts an end to the vicious new lord of the manor, and, from the safety of his nursing home, an octogenarian exerts exquisite retribution.

The punishments inflicted on the guilty are fittingly severe, but here they are meted out by the unseen forces of natural justice rather than the institutions of the law. Once again, P. D. James shows her expert control of the short-story form, conjuring motives and scenarios with complete conviction, and each with a satisfying twist in the tail.

I SAY

Come on, these two collections of short stories are from crime-writing royalty, so there really is little to say apart from ‘I loved them’. My mum and I have a Christmas tradition: every year we read to each other. The lights are turned down low (not too low, otherwise we can’t see!) and we choose seasonal crime stories or ghost stories to share. It’s something that is so much a part of the festive season for me, that to do without it would be the same as not putting up a tree.  For the last couple of years, we’ve chosen to read stories from The Mistletoe Murders collection (the stronger of the two books, in my opinion) – to my mind, that says more than any review could.

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Twelve Days of Winter: Crime at Christmas (short stories), Stuart MacBride

THEY SAY

A collection of interlinked tales of crime and retribution laced with dark humour, set around the festive season – from the No. 1 bestseller Stuart MacBride

Thieves, drug dealers, lap-dancers, gangsters and even the odd good guy populate these twelve tales exploring the seedier side of life in North East Scotland.

I SAY

I like crime, I like Christmas, so this was bound to be a hit with me. Plus, I am a huge fan of MacBride’s Logan McRae series.  This time the talented crime writer takes the theme of the twelve days of Christmas to create twelve short stories which not only involve the festive season but a lot of murder, gore and tension. What is clever is the way each chapter works not just as a stand-alone story, but also has implications for the tale that follows. Ingenious, imaginative, and featuring MacBride’s signature dark, gritty humour, this is a fantastic book for this time of year – and it’s only 99p, too, so is a real bargain.

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HER LAST SECRET, by…ooh, me!

THEY SAY

Some secrets you can never tell.

Everyone thinks the Thomases are the perfect family: grand London house, gorgeous kids.

They don’t know wife Dominique is a paranoid wreck.
They don’t know husband Ben is trapped in a web of deceit.
They don’t know daughter Ruby lives in fear of the next abusive text.
But someone knows all their secrets.

Can the lies that bind them tear them apart?

I SAY

Okay, I’m a little biased, so won’t tell you what I think of this twisty psychological thriller, which counts down through the final eight days before Christmas. Each day that passes brings you closer to revealing just what happened that fateful festive morning. I’ll leave you to make up your own minds about this book, and hope you let me know what YOU think!

TO ENTER THE COMPETITION TODAY, SIMPLY TELL ME WHAT FESTIVE TRADITION MY MUM AND I SHARE.

October-comps

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. TO ENTER THE COMPETITION TODAY, SIMPLY TELL ME WHAT FESTIVE TRADITION MY MUM AND I SHARE. 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 on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

TO ENTER THE COMPETITION TODAY, SIMPLY TELL ME WHAT FESTIVE TRADITION MY MUM AND I SHARE. Let me know!

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

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, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 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. 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.

DAY 8 GIVEAWAY Books that have changed my life #amreading #writerslife

When I look back on my life, scattered through it are books that have been there at key turning points. They’ve changed my thinking, ignited lifelong passions, and even influenced my career. So here are some of the many books that have changed my life…

CHILDHOOD

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The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, Enid Blyton

This is the book that made me enjoy reading. I’ve no idea how old I was when I read it, but I do know that prior to this I wasn’t fussed. The children’s adventures ignited not just a lifelong love of reading, but also of nature.

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The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge

The first moment I really realised I had fallen in love with words, as well as reading, came thanks to this children’s book. I read out the description of Wiggins to my mum and we laughed at it. I had to share it with someone because it was so wonderfully descriptive of not just his appearance but also his personality. Wonderful! This book is even mentioned in one of my own stories, The Darkest Lies.

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The Lord of The Rings, JRR Tolkien

My first ‘proper’ book, marking the change from children’s books to something heavier and more adult. It’s iconic, unique, and a rite of passage in the world of reading – and it lit up my reading brighter than fairy lights and tinsel. I must have read this book a dozen times over the years, and am always impressed by its depth, characters, and epic scale.

TEEN YEARS

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Disc world series, Terry Pratchett

When I was 12 I was bought my first Terry Pratchett Discworld novel, The Colour of MAgic. I became officially hooked. He truly held a mirror up to the world so that the reflection was back to front, and then manipulated it even further, using fiction to show the farce in fact. It made me see things differently, too; as well as making me laugh out loud. As an author, the ability to see things from a new, unique perspective is hugely helpful, and I started learning that skill thanks to Terry Pratchett all those years ago.

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Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

I was supposed to study this for my GCSE English Literature exam, but spent two years avoiding it because it ‘sounded dull’. I’m really not sure how I managed to pass the exam, but by a miracle I did – and with a good grade! I took English Lit at A-level, and was gutted to discover that, by a strange quirk of exam board curriculum, I was going to spend ANOTHER two years avoiding Great Expectations. I caved, and read it. Suddenly I understood what all the fuss was about. The immense character arc of Pip is stunning; from childhood to snobbish adulthood, to finally coming to his senses through the most tragic of circumstances. It’s a book I often re-read. Which is ironic, really, given how much I avoided it…

ADULT

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Cold Granite, Stuart MacBride

I didn’t read crime fiction until I came across Detective Sergeant Logan McRae, Stuart MacBride’s creation. The crimes he investigates are gritty and gory, but the banter between him and his colleagues is so deliciously dark and realistic that it always makes me laugh. Thanks to him, I started to read other detective series and crime authors, then psychological thrillers…and look at me now, writing my own! So DS Logan McRae will always have a special place in my heart.

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Engelby, Sebastian Faulks

I’d had the idea for my first novel, Invisible, for a long time, but after reading Engelby something seemed to click, and suddenly I knew I was going to try to write it. It inspired me because it was a first person story that was so utterly different from anything else I’d read. The character Sebastian Faulks creates is totally absorbing, and never once did I think ‘he wouldn’t do that.’ I lost myself in Engleby’s weird world.

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Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field, John Lewis-Stempel

Some writing is so beautiful that I am gripped with an urge to read sections out loud, just so that I can hear the jewel-like words as well as see them, somehow maximizing the pleasure and sharing the joy with others. This is one such book. Vividly described, and wonderfully written, Meadowland gives a unique and intimate account of an English meadow’s life from January to December. This is a book to fall in love with and read again and again and again.

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The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith

An urbane sociopath who ‘only’ kills when he has to. Patricia Highsmith was an author way ahead of her time, and this was never more obvious than when she created Tom Ripley. Patricia Highsmith managed to create a killer who somehow became a sort of anti-hero that readers loved so much that she wrote five books featuring him. She was an author way ahead of her time.

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The Kind Worth Killing, Peter Swanson

Twisted, brilliantly-plotted, and a must-read; this book is one I still recommend to anyone who’ll listen, two years after reading it. It’s the sort of book I would love to write myself, and its benchmark drives me on.

So there you have it! These are the books that have changed my life in some way or another. Has a book ever changed your life?

October-comps

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. Find it, 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 on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

So, can you find today’s Christmas reference in this post? Let me know!

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

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, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 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. 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.

DAY 7 GIVEAWAY plus #bookreview THE CRIMEWRITER’S CASEBOOK by @gibconsultancy

‘The perfect place to start your research’

Review: THE CRIMEWRITER’S CASEBOOK, Stephen Wade & Stuart Gibbon

THEY SAY

For anyone interested in writing or reading crime, whether historical or modern day, this book is an essential reference companion.
In addition to detailed information on police and criminal procedures, the book features true crime case studies from two leading experts in their field.

I SAY

Now, I hold my hands up and have to declare that I know one of the authors, Stuart Gibbon. He’s a former Met Police detective, with 30 years’ experience in crime investigation. Stuart has been in charge of murder cases as a DCI, and was an SIO on the East Midlands Special Operations Unit. He’s now a writing consultant advising authors on police procedure – and one of those authors is me!

As if that’s not enough, now he’s written a book himself that is designed specifically to help writers. This straightforward reference book covers an introduction to crime investigation, as well as offering insight into some fascinating historical background. In addition, there are case studies from real crimes, explanations of subjects from forensics to police procedure, and a glossary of terms in criminal law and police practice. The sections are easy to navigate and everything very clearly explained.

For the absolute novice at the start of their crime-writing career, this is the perfect place to start your research before moving onto more in-depth books. It would make a fabulous stocking-filler for anyone who is about to complete NaNoWriMo.

October-comps

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. Find it, 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 on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

So, can you find today’s Christmas reference in this post? Let me know!

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

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, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 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. 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.

DAY 6 GIVEAWAY Letter to myself 5 years ago

If you could go back in time, say five years, and give yourself advice, what would you say? What edge would the knowledge of foresight give you? What words of comfort would you give? This is the intriguing idea Linda, of Linda’s Book Bag, planted when she asked me to write a letter to myself as part of my blog tour during the publication of Her Last Secret. I’m reposting it here (with a couple of tweaks) in case you missed it.

Dear Barbara (aka ‘Me’),

So, here I am in 2017, about to publish my fourth book, Her Last Secret. What are you up to? Oh, I remember: you’re in 2012, working as a Special Projects Editor for a magazine company. You’ve got an idea for a book you’ve been working on for a few months now, snatching time on the train commute into London, and although it’s growing slowly you’re starting to feel quite fond of it. You’re even starting to wonder if it has potential to be more than a hobby, and you’ve tentatively mentioned the plot to a couple of mates who haven’t fallen on the floor laughing at the idea. Which is a good start.

The job is taking up a lot of time, though. It’s all-consuming, which is why you’re on pretty decent money. You work longer hours than one of Santa’s Little Helpers, and you’re left feeling exhausted. Being up at 5.30am to catch the train from Colchester to London, and not getting home until 7pm, means that after you’ve eaten you’re ready for bed. You’re loving the creativity of the job, but are already aware you’re simply not getting the buzz from your work that you used to.

Photo by Dan Roizer on Unsplash
Photo by Dan Roizer on Unsplash

I’ve got bad news for you, Barbara. It’s going to get worse. You’ll work through most evenings and weekends, and you’ll become more tired, and more miserable, and live more for those snatched minutes on the train when you lose yourself in writing. The need to write will burn brightly in you, reminding you of what you used to love about your job so much. You’ll wonder why rising through the ranks means having to leave behind the very reason you became a journalist in the first place.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s brilliant. It makes you reassess your whole life, and you realise you want to take a leap of faith and go back to writing for a living again. Bye bye, career ladder. I’m not going to deny it’s a terrifying thought, and you’ll have loads of doubts. How will you manage? Is it a midlife crisis? Are you going to lose everything you’ve worked so hard for? Don’t listen to them, listen to the conviction that it’s time to shake up your life. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about because I’m now writing my fifth book.

There’s going to be a hell of a steep learning curve ahead of you, though. But it will be FUN!

When you finish your book, Invisible, it will be rejected by innumerable agents – but they’ll all have such INCREDIBLE things to say about it that, instead of feeling down, you’ll feel invigorated. The story has great potential, the experts all agree, so why not publish it yourself?

Of course, that’s when the real fun begins because you know nothing about the book publishing world, publicity, cover design (luckily, you live with a talented artist who has that covered)… You’ll rediscover the joy of learning new skills, though. Right now, you think social media is full of saddos posting about what they had for breakfast. Yeah, about that – you couldn’t be more wrong. Facebook and Twitter will be two of the most useful tools you’ll learn to use. Thanks to them, Invisible, becomes a bestseller on Amazon. You’ll learn to blog, too, and even create your own website. Even better, you’ll make incredible connections with readers, book bloggers, agents, publishers. Not bad for a someone who barely knew what a tweet was in 2012.

Thanks to social media, you’ll find the confidence to write your second book, Flowers For The Dead. You’ll be terrified again, scared that you can’t repeat the success of your first book. Sadly, that fear never gets any better – and I speak as someone who has been a USA Today bestseller, and Amazon bestseller in the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia. Even landing a deal with your dream publisher, Bookouture, on the strength of your third novel, The Darkest Lies, won’t rid you of your fears. But by the time the fourth book, Her Last Secret, publishes, you’ve learned to accept insecurity as a part of the creative process. The biggest change probably sounds the smallest, though: when people ask you what you do for a living, in five years’ time you’ll no longer consider yourself a journalist; instead your answer will be ‘author’. Eek!

See, there are so many exciting things ahead of you over the next five years. And look at you, hunched over your desk, in your London office, beavering away and wondering what on earth you can do to get the buzz back in your career. You’ve no idea of how much your life is going to change. My advice? Have the courage of your convictions, and break free from the office. Have confidence in your ideas, no matter how crazy. But most of all, have fun – enjoy every single second of the years ahead of you, because they’re brilliant.

Lots of love,

Barbara

October-comps

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. Find it, 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 on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

So, can you find today’s Christmas reference in this post? Let me know!

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

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, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 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. 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.

DAY 5 GIVEAWAY! Today on BLOOD TYPE is…Barbara Copperthwaite! #writingtips #amwriting #writerslife

BLOOD TYPE

CRIME AUTHORS SPILL THEIR GUTS ABOUT WRITING. Every Thursday top-notch authors of psychological thrillers and crime fiction share their writing secrets – and the secrets to their success – with you and me.

‘It’s great fun watching my simple idea become more complex and twisted as I write.’

This week, as part of my 12-day competition, I’ve turned the tables and interviewed myself!

Tell us about yourself…Darkest Lies author pic copy (1)

I always find this question the hardest to answer because I never know what to say! But here goes… I’m a cake-obsessed, nature-loving, bestselling author of psychological thrillers.

I love trying to get under the skin of unlikeable characters, or working out how someone can be pushed to the edge (and often over) in my books.

In my spare time, when not being press-ganged into throwing tennis balls by my dog, Scamp, I can generally be found hiding behind a camera taking wildlife pictures. I love sketching, too.

How do you go about plotting your book?

I can state categorically that I’m not a plotter. Every single time I’ve tried to pre-plot, it’s ended in disaster. For me, it takes all the fun away, and I find it stressful trying to adhere to a plan.

Instead, I tend to have a vague idea, along with a theme that will overarch the whole story. As I develop the idea, fleshing it out in my mind, I write down random scenes that come to me. Often, they turn out to be key parts of the book, but at that point I’ve no idea where they will appear – or even if they will!… TO READ IN FULL, CLICK HERE 

(NB – TODAY YOU HAVE TO CLICK ON THE LINK AND READ THE POST IN FULL ON MY WEBSITE IN ORDER TO FIND THE REFERENCE FOR THE COMPETITION. THEN COME BACK TO THIS POST AND LET ME KNOW THE ANSWER)

October-comps

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. Find it, 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 on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

So, can you find today’s Christmas reference in this post? Let me know! (NB – TODAY YOU HAVE TO CLICK ON THE LINK AND READ THE POST IN FULL ON MY WEBSITE IN ORDER TO FIND THE REFERENCE. THEN COME BACK TO THIS POST AND LET ME KNOW THE ANSWER)

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

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, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 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. 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.

DAY 4 GIVEAWAY My favourite characters #amwriting #writerslife

Okay, so obviously when asked who my favourite characters are my official answer is that I love them all, and they’re all my babies. It’s absolutely true. But if I’m honest, I love some a teensy bit more than others. Why? Because they’re just so much fun to write!

BETH – THE DARKEST LIES

Creating her mother, Mel, was emotionally exhausting. I’ve never felt more drained while writing a book, her desperation and grief leeching strength from me. I’m incredibly proud of her, and in many ways she is a favourite of mine because of all she endures, but bringing her into being was a painful process and to this day I shy away from thinking about her. Why? Because I pity her more than any other character I’ve created – and that’s saying something.

Her daughter, Beth, was a different matter. She’s a lot like me when I was her age – only I thankfully had a far less complex life. Like her, I was (and still am) fascinated by nature and the environment, adored reading (yes, my favourite book when growing up had been The Little White Horse). Writing her was a joy because in many ways all I had to do was tap into the me I’d been back in the day, and she reminded me of a lot of things about myself.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash
Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

INVISIBLE

If you’ve read Invisible, you’ll know that the main character is never named. This was a deliberate decision to reinforce the feeling of her not being noticed. A name is also a label, helping to denote social status, even personality, and I didn’t want that; this way she could be any one of use. She’s not stupid yet she allows herself to be passed over by everyone, even in her relationships, and constantly doubts herself to the point where I wanted to shake her. But I love the emotional journey this character goes through within herself, and how she becomes ultimately an inspiration in her own, quiet way.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

ADAM – FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD

The biggest challenge for a writer is to create believable characters – they don’t have to be likeable, but they do have to come across as real. From the start, I knew I wanted a serial killer with a true character that came across, rather them him simply being a one-dimensional ‘baddie’. The original idea was for Adam to be angry, bitter, and hate women, but as his back story came together he revealed himself to be far gentler, complex and damaged than I could ever have initially imagined. All he wants is love. To this day, I have a soft spot in my heart for Adam. Putting him put into the world was nerve-wracking because I didn’t think anyone else would ‘get’ him, but I’ve been stunned by readers’ response to him.

BENJAMIN – HER LAST SECRET

Everyone seems to universally agree that their favourite character in Her Last Secret is Mouse. She was lovely to write, and a real point of light in a dark book. But…but…ah, I can’t help it, my personal favourite is Benjamin, a gift who came to me fully-formed.

I’ve met a few Benjamins in my time, and to embody him was a fascinating experience. While writing his scenes, my body language would change and I’d find myself puffing out my chest. The big ‘I am’.

You never quite know where you are with him. He’s a selfish, thieving git, who is useless with his family, but he also loves them to bits. He’s bombastic and cocky, but incredibly vulnerable and insecure. His decisions grow more desperate and erratic as the book goes on, and it was hard to guess where he was going to jump next. Oh, the fun I had creating this character!

Do you have a favourite character? I’d love to hear!

October-comps

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. Find it, 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 on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

So, can you find today’s Christmas reference in this post? Let me know!

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

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, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 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. 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.

DAY 3 GIVEAWAY plus #Bookreview BROKEN BONES @WriteAngie @Bookouture

Angela Marsons packs a punch, and she knows right where to hit you.

THEY SAY

They thought they were safe. They were wrong.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As more sex workers are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what looks like a tragic abandonment turns even more sinister when a case of modern slavery is uncovered.

The two investigations bring the team into a terrifying world of human exploitation and cruelty – and a showdown that puts Kim’s life at risk as shocking secrets from her own past come to light.

I SAY

There’s so much I want to say about this book…but I can’t because then I’d ruin it for everyone! What I can tell you is that fans most definitely won’t be disappointed with this series, which never seems to weaken or waver. Instead it grows stronger.

Serious issues are once again tackled in Angela Marson’s usual strong style, mixing disturbing facts and crime-fighting with deep emotional understanding. The author has such a wonderful touch, bringing all her characters to life so that you care about the people involved – they aren’t simply one-dimensional ‘victims of crime’.

There are some more insights into Kim’s past, too. I love the little glimpses each book gives us, which are always enough to whet out appetite but leave us wanting more.

Then there is the signature clever plotting, that is evident in this book as much as ever. All paths led to a nail-biting finale, with plenty of surprises in store. Angela Marsons packs a punch, and she knows right where to hit you. It’s an absolute cracker!

October-comps

GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. Find it, 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 on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

So, can you find today’s Christmas reference in this post? Let me know!

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

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, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 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. 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.

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