In Converstaion With… J M Peace

In Conversation with J M Peace

JM Peace (c) Sheree Tomlinson

JM Peace (c) Sheree Tomlinson

 

Welcome Jay to my blog and thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this discussion about all things reading and writing.

 

Carol: Can you tell me a little bit about how the road to publication was for you? Did you enter any writing competitions? Do you have an agent? How did the contract come about? On the 9th February this year you wrote about getting a publishing contract – and here it is a few months down the track and I am already reading the fully formed, ready for market, completely finished, paperback novel – how amazing is that? That turn a round is unbelievable!

 

Jay: My manuscript initially languished in slush piles all over the country. My breakthrough moment was being accepted onto the Hachette Manuscript Development Program in 2013, run by the marvellous people at the Queensland Writer’s Centre. Although Hachette went on to reject the manuscript, it had some recognition. Then I nearly had an agent until the agent decided to quit the job. I don’t think it was because I once threatened to Taser her. I really was only joking. After that, I just couldn’t bear all the interminable waiting and approached Pan Macmillan directly. Things moved fairly quickly after that.

I think it was about November last year when the lovely people at Pan Macmillan made me an offer. They initially had some reservations about the legal side of things, so that took a little while to sort out. By the time I actually signed the contract in February, I think some of the wheels had already started turning. The manuscript had passed through many professional hands by then. By the time Pan got it, they decided it didn’t need a structural edit so it was straight onto the line edit and full speed ahead.

 

Carol: I see you have a blog, www.jmpeace.com Cops and Novels. Do you think blogging benefits your writing process?

 

Jay: Blogging is simply my chance to have my say about things that catch my attention. But I believe the author platform is very important for anyone attempting to get work published. I was strongly encouraged by several industry professionals to start a blog. The industry is so competitive that I don’t think ‘just’ a strong manuscript is enough these days.

 

Carol: I loved your debut novel – A Time to Run and can’t wait to read your next book, police procedurals are one of my favourite genres to read and as a Serving Police Officer your voice is authentic and real.  It seems however that this relationship with the law comes at a cost, I quote your blog www.jmpeace.com  – Cops and Novels, A publishing Contract (Feb 9 2015) “What I am doing is actually bound by legislation. If you are a police officer, you are always a police officer. What you do in your spare time is (to a certain extent) the Boss’s business. You have knowledge and information which is not for public dissemination, you are an agent of the Government. There are issues with secrecy, public comment, accountability, improper use of information, professional conduct and numerous other pieces of law, directives and policies.” How do you ensure that what you write about does abide by these regulations?

 

Jay: Thank you for your kind comments about my story!

I sought advice from my police union and spent some time trying to come to grips with the legislation. I believe I have covered myself in regards to the procedural information I have given in the book. There’s nothing in there that is not public knowledge or couldn’t by discovered through a little judicious googling. And if someone thinks I have overstepped the mark, then I’m hoping the fake name gives me some sort of protection.

I did actually try to get Boss-type approval to write the novel. The official reply was basically that writing a book was a hobby and I didn’t need approval to do it. Whether they change their minds about that one is yet to be seen. I don’t think anyone quite expected my story to get this far.

 

Carol: One of the things I loved about your novel was the details of policing/investigating that you shared with the reader.  Too often crime fiction novels or movies/TV series based on crime fiction skip a lot of these type of details, giving their protagonists the power to do as they please, how they please. You reveal the reality of the work, for example, having an official witness to the unoccupied house search who is vested to protect the rights of the home owner. Your protagonists get the job done whilst adhering to the rules. Was it a conscious decision to share these elements of the investigation with the reader?

 

Jay: Yes, definitely. This is my point of difference. This is why I write crime, I’m hanging my hat on having that voice of authority. I know what I’m talking about in regards to procedures, legislation and internal directives. My benchmark will be if other police officers can read through my novel and nod in agreement.

 

Carol: Another element I particular enjoyed was the inclusion of the apparitions/angels in the narrative and the optimism, hope and courage they delivered. Where did this idea for this device originate?

 

Jay:  I’ve been thinking about this and I can’t say when or why I decided to add angels to story. I think if you get pushed into an impossible life-threatening situation like the character in the story does, you start to look for something outside yourself. I did leave it open to interpretation on whether the angels were real or hallucinations.

It’s odd, because I’m not a particularly spiritual person but an angel popped up in the sequel too.

 

Carol: What sort of books do you read Jay?

 

Jay: At the moment? I’ve just finished the ‘Treehouse’ series by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton. I’m also reading one of the Beast Quest novels and we’ve started the Wishing Chair. Yes, all kids books. My son isn’t quite old enough to tackle these sorts of books by himself and whenever I start reading aloud, my daughter will appear and get comfortable too. Adult books? I wish I had the time. I like chick lit and popular fiction.

 

Carol: And my last question for you – tell me more about lateral vascular neck restraints? Why didn’t you use this method of defence when you were the subject of an attack? And did this experience inform your writing?

 

Jay: I didn’t expect that question! A lateral vascular neck restraint (LVNR) is basically a chokehold. Except you have to be careful not to hit the person’s windpipe. So when you place your arm around the person’s throat, you need to make sure the inside bend of your elbow lines up with the centre of the person’s throat. Then you squeeze, using the muscles in your bicep and forearm to apply pressure on the veins on either side of windpipe causing the person to pass out. If you apply pressure to the windpipe, you can damage it causing it to swell, preventing the person from breathing and making you consider whether you can do an emergency tracheotomy with a pocket knife and the barrel of a pen. We do them regularly in training. The restraints, not the tracheotomies. The trainer will say – this is considered lethal force, now go practice on each other…

I know the theory behind LVNRs, but I am not good at them. I have never done one in real life. It is the sort of restraint you might try if an offender was focussed on something in front of them and you could approach them from behind. But, as with many of the things I write about, even though I may not have experienced them directly, I think I have a better than average understanding of them.

 

Carol: Thank you for taking part in my “in Conversation With” blog posts J M Peace and good luck with the release of A Time to Run. I cannot wait to read your next book. 

 

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Post Script: The Doll Maker – Richard Montanari

Gripping! This is the read I have been waiting for…

The Doll Maker

The Doll Maker

A Byrne and Balzano Mystery

Richard Montanari

Mulholland Books  

ISBN: 9780316244732

Description:

Detectives Byrne and Balzano return to the streets of Philadelphia to put an end to a macabre succession of murders.

A quiet Philadelphia suburb. A woman cycles past a train depot with her young daughter. There she finds a murdered girl posed on a newly painted bench. Beside her is a formal invitation to a tea dance in a week’s time.

Seven days later, two more young victims are discovered in an abandoned house, posed on painted swings. At the scene is an identical invitation. This time, though, there is something extra waiting for Detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano: a delicate porcelain doll.

It’s a message. And a threat. With the killers at large, Detectives Byrne and Balzano have just seven more days to find the link between the murders before another innocent child is snatched from the streets.

 

My View:

After a few average reads this week I was so pleased that I picked up my e-reader and settled in for the night with this incredibly creepy read. The prologue had me hooked (and is probably the most gruesome and violent part of the narrative) the creepy parts comes later 🙂

The Doll Maker had my attention in a vice like grip. I felt the urge to read and read…and I did …my husband has no idea what time I turned the bedroom light off… (And I am not saying). He slept peacefully as I read the entire book start to finish.

A great, fast moving, tension packed police procedural with the creepiest villains I have come across in a long time (no spoilers here) but I think is the juxtaposition of manners/politeness against loathsome serial murders that makes these antagonists so creepy. This narrative is well plotted, very well executed and delivers in every way a good work of crime fiction should – you are left believing this could happen. Such evil does exist.

And surprisingly this is Book 8 in the Byrne and Balzano series – and I hadn’t read the other 7 and it didn’t matter! (But now I would like to).

 

 

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.

Post Script: Eeny Meeny – M J Arlidge

A pulse racing read!

Eeny Meeny

Eeny Meeny

At first, nobody believed her…

M.J. Arlidge

Penguin Books Australia

Penguin

ISBN: 9781405914888

 

 

Description:

The girl emerged from the woods.  Traumatised and emaciated; close to death, but alive.  Her story seemed too terrible to be true.  But it was.  Every dreadful word of it.

When, days later, another desperate survivor is found, a pattern becomes clear.  Pairs of victims are being taken; then forced to make an unthinkable decision.

And for DCI Helen Grace there is now an unseen killer to be hunted down.

Haunted by her own past, Grace has faced down her own demons to rise to the top of her profession.  She has coping mechanisms.  Now though, there’s a new monster to confront.  And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die.

But worse, some will survive, and have to live with the choice that they made . . .

 

My View:

I really enjoyed this fast paced, action packed, murder filled police procedural. The narrative is twisted, bizarre and compelling. The subplot is horrific and disturbing. The protagonist is a strong, feisty and a flawed woman; a mystery to all those around her. Interesting characters, a unique plot, bold and disturbing crimes, what more could you ask for?

This is a book that once you start you CANNOT put down.  I can see this on the big screen soon.

Post Script: The Stolen Ones – Richard Montanari

The Stolen Ones

Richard Montanari

Mulholland Books

Mulholland Books

ISBN: 9780316244701

Description:

IN RICHARD MONTANARI’S CHILLING NEW SUSPENSE NOVEL, A SEALED-OFF NETWORK OF SECRET PASSAGES CONNECTS ALL OF PHILADELPHIA TO THE KILLER HIDDEN WITHIN.

 

 

Luther Wade grew up in Cold River, a warehouse for the criminally insane. Two decades ago the hospital closed it doors forever, but Luther never left. He wanders the catacombs beneath the city, channeling the violent dreams of Eduard Kross, Europe’s most prolific serial killer of the 20th century.

A two-year-old girl is found wandering the streets of Philadelphia in the middle of the night by detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. She does not speak, but she may hold the key to solving a string of murders committed in and around Priory Park.

As the detectives investigate, more bodies are found at Priory Park, and they’re drawn closer and closer to the doors of Luther’s devious maze and the dark secrets of Cold River.

 

My View:

When you pick up a book and begin reading you can pretty much tell immediately if that writer is skilled and proficient in his craft, Montanari is one such writer. Despite this being the 7th book in the series and having no previous knowledge of the author and this series I had no trouble at all in understanding where /how all the characters fit in and was able to start enjoying this read instantly.  This narrative is complex, intense and tension filled. The author is a great story teller – again his craft well honed; the words flow effortlessly, it reads effortlessly.

This is a complex story that revolves around snapshots of historical events and crimes of the past; it is a great meld of past and present and it is not long before the reader is enjoying a full album of memories and current events- all twisted and cruel. This is a unique and mesmerising script. This novel will keep you reading till the early hours of the morning…

Post Script: Cold Mourning – Brenda Chapman

Cold Mourning

A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery

Brenda Chapman

Dundurn

ISBN: 9781459708020

 

Description:

It’s a week before Christmas when wealthy businessman Tom Underwood disappears into thin air — with more than enough people wanting him dead.

New police recruit Kala Stonechild, who has left her northern Ontario detachment to join a specialized Ottawa crime unit, is tasked with returning Underwood home in time for the holidays. Stonechild, who is from a First Nations reserve, is a lone wolf who is used to surviving on her wits. Her new boss, Detective Jacques Rouleau, has his hands full controlling her, his team, and an investigation that keeps threatening to go off track.

Old betrayals and complicated family relationships brutally collide when love turns to hate and murder stalks a family.

My View:

A well written and engaging police procedural that starts with an impressive hook that is guaranteed to set your heart racing whilst you chew on your finger nails; for a few pages I was unsure of whether I would be able to proceed any further so horrified was I by the heinous acts that were unfolding before me. I managed to hang in there and was rewarded with a narrative that flowed flawlessly and characters that were empathetic and engaging.  I did not guess the ending.

Kala Stonechild is a character I want to see more of. I loved the quiet yet determined manner she used to conduct her interviews and her public life; she was well meaning, competent, acted with grace, humility and determination. This does not mean that Stonechild is a pushover, in her work she is forthright and strong, has great intuition and people reading skills and is able to influence others – good traits for a detective.  In her personal life – she is learning to forgive herself for past misdemeanours.

Detective Jacques Rouleau is a respected police officer who is the victim of office politics; he deserves better and hopefully this is what he will get when the next books appear –  I am banking on this!

All in all a fast paced, action packed work of crime fiction that subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) raises many social issues for discussion, and I look forward to future books by this author.

Post Script: Bad Wolf – Nele Neuhaus

Sins of the fathers…

Bad Wolf

Nele Neuhaus

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 9781250043993

Description:

On a hot June day the body of a sixteen-year-old girl washes up on a river bank outside of Frankfurt. She has been brutally murdered, but no one comes forward with any information as to her identity. Even weeks later, the local police have not been able to find out who she is…

Then a new case comes in: A popular TV reporter is attacked, raped, and locked in the trunk of her own car. She survives, barely, and is able to supply certain hints to the police, having to do with her recent investigations into a child welfare organization and the potential uncovering of a child pornography ring with members from the highest echelon of society. As the two cases collide, Inspectors Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein dig deep into the past and underneath the veneer of bourgeois society to come up against a terrible secret that is about to impact their personal lives as well.

In Bad Wolf, tensions run high and a complex and unpredictable plot propels her characters forward at breakneck speed.

My View:

Not for the faint hearted.

This is a narrative about particularly heinous crimes and the brutally of life. We all wish to believe in the essential goodness and kindness of others, Neuhaus makes it blatantly clear that we cannot always rely on appearances or position in society when judging our neighbours and she suggests it is often those closest to us that do the most damage. We are asked to stop and consider the world we live in and the injustices that abound. This is a powerful and at times horrific story of abuse and corruption, it is hard hitting, brutal, confronting, graphic and challenging. And it is a powerful work of crime fiction that could easily and comfortably mimic many a current TV or news report where ever you are reading this.

Be very scared of the Big Bad Wolf…

Post Script: A Deadly Justice – Kathy Bennett

A Deadly Justice

(LAPD Detective Maddie Divine)

Kathy Bennett

Kathy Bennett

ISBN: 9781475602562

 

 

Description:

A brutal murder. A rash of sophisticated burglaries. A serial rapist.

Little does veteran LAPD Detective Maddie Divine and her new partner, Jade Donovan, realize that a single thread tie the crimes together. But as their investigation digs deeper and the cases begin to unravel, they threaten to expose one of Maddie’s darkest secrets and force her to confront a truth she’s tried desperately to bury.

Harley Elliot: The sleazy broken-down owner of a trendy pizzaria pays his employees well above minimum wage. What’s in it for him, and if he gets caught, will he go to jail?

The Saunders Brothers:
Blake – A cunning manipulator who knows he’s devised the perfect crime.
Logan – The hot-tempered middle brother whose careless misadventure made him a perfect target.
Jeremy – The peacekeeper for his older brothers and the calculating voice of reason in their dysfunctional trio.

Shelbie Saunders: The adopted little sister of the wild Saunder’s boys is trying to find her place in the family as she blossoms into a young woman. Trying to keep up with her new brothers is her first mistake.

Zak Murdock: The brawny sergeant of police has a troubling history with Maddie’s partner, Jade. When he’s assigned to detectives, he puts Maddie and Jade in his sights.

Walt Lamb: The hard-working bartender at Harley’s pizzaria keeps a low profile to protect his ‘side job,’ yet he misses nothing.

My View:

This is an entertaining and somewhat light-hearted read about some deep and serious topics which reminded me somehow a little of the earlier Stephanie Plumb narratives; sometimes serious subjects/events treated with ease, in a language that is easy to read and understand, that doesn’t take itself too seriously, that mixes a bit of humour, sarcasm and eye rolling with a little mystery and romance. But do not forget this is also a great police procedural, Kathy Bennett’s work history (she was a serving officer, now retired) paints the officers and the Division they work in, in authentic colours; the politics, the budget/number crunching, the stereotypes, the day to day difficulties, the crimes…all sound too real.

Detectives Divine and Cash McCool (yes those are the names) are an enterprising and determined pair of investigators. Divine has a sad history compounded with a secret that she eventually shares with the reader and a few others (no spoilers here). Bennett tackles this subject tenderly and respectfully. Her message gets through loud and clear without sounding dictatorial. You will be on Maddie Divine’s side. You will look forward to seeing her bloom in the next book.( I am sure there will be one)

This is a fast, enjoyable and satisfying read.