Thursday, 31 December 2015

In the words of Tori Amos, a Pretty Good Year!!!

So, 2015...where to start?

I only ever dreamt of becoming an author, and despite many (many!!) rejections and challenges on the way, in November 2014 I finally achieved my dream. This was possible because of many (so many!) people, but most notably my Kelly, Steve Alten, Louise Hunter, Rebecca Sill, all my girls at work and, most importantly, my publisher Muriellle Maupoint at Britain's Next Bestseller.

Without her faith in Hellbound, I wouldn't have had the chance to -

  • Interview for my blog the wonderfully talented Julie Spiller, the inspiring Michelle Diane Lowe, the exceptionally gifted Andy Males, the up and coming talent that is Michelle Venn, the amazing, amazing Karen Long, the fascinating and imaginative Paul Ferns and the ridiculous genius that is Bekki Pate
  • Meet and get to know other authors who are talents to look out for such as Donna Marie McCarthy, Diane O'Toole, Lisa Bush, Matthew Luscombe, Chris Tetreault-Blay, Mel Small, Noelle Holten, Lisa Eddom to name but a few...and Murielle of course who was gracious enough to spare some of her time to give a really insightful interview
  • Review some fantastic novels by authors who inspire me to be a better writer, one of whom is Michael Wood (read his debut'd think he had been doing it for years it is THAT good!) and the others whom are Rob Enright and Paddy Magrane (you have to read their debut novels too, One by One and Disorder respectively have to be read to be believed. Outstanding doesn't cover it!)
  • Meet talented friends such as Steve Wraith who, alongside Stephen Sayers, I will be working with on a project for 2016 (which is ridiculously exciting!!!)
  • Have a second book come out on Kindle (In Extremis, which will be out in paperback in the New Year)
  • Start writing my third book, Nameless (or fourth if you count the project with Stephen)
  • Unveil the amazing cover for Nameless designed by the talent that is Silviya Yordanova!
  • Have two of my review quotes end up on fellow authors novels (Julie Timlin and Bekki Pate...thank you! I was honoured!!!)
  • Be invited to present the awards at the 6 Book Challenge 
  • Attend Newcastle Noir organised by the fantastic Jackie Collins
  • Attend Crossing the Tees as a local author
  • Attend author events in Newcastle (which Emma Slaughter travelled hundreds of miles to attend!!), Norton, Middlesbrough...
  • Hold book signings (where people actually turned up whom I hadn't paid!)
  • Work alongside my Lou Lou, who represented me for a time and did a great job...and whom I miss very much
  • Meet wonderfully generous reviewers such as Maxine Groves, Sarah Hardy, Gordon McGhie and Noelle who give so much to authors for so little in return
  • Speak to my local M.P about a reading project for my local area in local libraries 
  • Win an Author of the Year award with my publisher...which was unexpected and still humbles me to this day (I think it was meant for someone else!!!
I had two readers contact me today via Facebook and tell me how much they loved Hellbound. That never ceases to amaze me and makes you feel, as a writer, so privileged to be in such a position that you were able to entertain someone for a short period of time. 

And now the new year approaches and there is plenty to do and look forward too. Counting In Extremis being released in paperback, I will have 3 books out next year. 

Hellbound wasn't perfect. I know this (too excited to get it out and I rushed my proof reading!). I couldn't afford an editor, it was just Kelly and I. But once again, I have a fantastic publisher who has done so much for me so things can be improved. I now have an editor hence In Extremis has no mistakes (or at least I don't think it does!!!).
Despite the odd typo though, I remain very proud of Hellbound and everything it has given the opportunity to do. A little rough around the edges granted, but not bad for a first attempt, I learnt fro my mistakes and it'll still make a cracking movie one day!!!

So, I just wish to say thank you to everyone who has supported me, spoken to me, taken the time to write to me or message me. You are too numerous to mention but I hope you know who you are and what you mean to this humble author. I only exist because of you.

Here's to you all and 2016...I have a feeling it'll be an amazing time for us all. And please continue to support BNBS. You know the quality and there is so much more to me!

See you on the flip side!!!!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

An Introduction to the Darke - review of Michael Wood's 'For Reasons Unknown'

Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more…

With so many great crime writers and series around today (Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Stuart McBride, Leigh Russell, Karen Long to name but a few), it can be difficult to find something which stands out from the crowd...that not only strays from the well-beaten path but offers a new take on a classic tale.

Fortunately, that question can be easily counteracted by Michael Wood’s compelling and fast-paced ‘For Reasons Unknown’ who has just, in my opinion, ended up in that list I just mentioned.

We are introduced to a little boy in the prologue, Jonathan Harkness, who is so traumatised by the crime he has witnessed he is virtually catatonic. This plot point is swiftly moved past in order to propel the story towards an introduction to the fascinating and fantastically named protagonist, Matilda Darke (up there with my other favourite name, Eleanor Raven from Karen Long’s crime series!!!) and the discovery of a dead body twenty years later.
Matilda is an amazing character, full of personal mystery which is slowly teased a throughout the story in relation to an incident which forced her to take some time out. Returning to work she not only finds herself almost immediately embroiled in a case which resonates back to some of the details in the prologue and challenged with rebuilding a relationship with her former partner who has stepped up in her absence and feels he is where he should be, but offered a chance at some personal redemption and closure. Michael crafts his characters with expert care, imbuing not only Matilda and Ben with personality, angst and pathos, but also ensuring that their backstories and the unveiling murder plot are slowly metered out accordingly, leaving you as the reader desperate to know more but not so informed that you can work out where the story is headed immediately. In fact, every character gets their screen time, with no line of dialogue or description lack in context or relevance.

I have never been to Sheffield (apologies for anyone from Sheffield reading this!), but his descriptions of the local area and surrounding landscape are vivid and intricate, which allowed me to visualise the setting pretty well (again, having never been to Sheffield for a basis of comparison!). 
There are more than a few twists and turns which ensure you are always doing the old ‘24’ justification of “I’ll just read one more to see what happens!”

As for the little boy in mentioned at the beginning and the trauma he witnessed (not spoiling anything here folks, the blurb mentions the murder of his parents), the manner in which the present day murder and the crime Jonathan witnessed dovetail together is expertly crafted and told with such skill it is hard to believe this is Michael’s first novel. And they say that a story’s protagonist is only as good as the antagonist, so let me just say that the ‘bad guy (s) in ‘For Reasons Unknown’ are creepy, memorable and pretty twisted!

I cannot recommend this book enough. I could say so much more, but you need to discover it for yourself as there are red herrings and misdirection’s aplenty alongside the fast-paced plotting and cliff-hanger chapters (short for the most part but this works well in building the suspense). And the ending is particularly mournful and appropriate, leaving a lasting image in your mind.

Michael Wood is up there with the best of them, which considering he has done it in one book is pretty impressive. I, for one, cannot wait to see how DCI Darke’s story unfolds in subsequent novels!

10 out of 10!!

Michael Wood is a proofreader and former journalist in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. His first novel, FOR REASONS UNKNOWN is released in ebook format by Killer Reads at HarperCollins in October 2015. It is the first in a series of crime fiction novels set in Sheffield featuring DCI Matilda Darke.

For Reasons Unknown is available on, and here