6Ws, Author Interview, Darkstroke Books

6Ws with Author Jennifer Worrell

Jennifer Worrell, a Chicago-based author, is the next one featured in this 6Ws series. I found it interesting she wrote her suspense/crime novel, Edge of Sundown, sitting on a lawn chair while balancing an iPad on a retaining wall. Jennifer has a whole lot more to say about her writing, so I will let her take over.

Who is author Jennifer Worrell?

I’m a pen and cheese enthusiast from the States (Chicago) with an unofficial goal of writing in every genre before I die. I’m forever trying to catch up with my TBR list, but since I work at a university library, I have zero chance for success.  I live with a husband and a kitty, neither of whom understand the zeal for pens, but they do understand the cheese thing, so we get along quite well.

What is your latest book?

Edge of Sundown is a suspense/crime novel published by Darkstroke Books.  It tells the tale of Val Haverford, an aging author whose dystopian universe of covert invaders eliminate “undesirable” members of society—something that could never happen in modern-day Chicago—until it does.  What started as a chance to revive his career and reconcile dark events from his past becomes a race to save himself and the people he loves.

Though we never seem to learn much from history, and it always comes back to bite us, I had no intention of writing anything political when I started writing Sundown in 2014.  It came about purely from asking ‘what-if’ questions.  That’s what I get for taking more than six years to write a book. 

Many stories are about loss, but lost opportunity feels more devastating to me, so I wanted to share that perspective.  It’s a recurring theme in other pieces, including my next project: a sci-fi novel about a rather shady radio exec with a particular talent for traveling through time.

When did you begin writing?

Since kindergarten, but not seriously until I was in my mid-thirties.  Looking back, I’m a little ashamed that I pissed away so much time.

How do you write?

Messily.  With lots of coffee.  I tend to write the scenes that compel me most and the essentials to convey plot and theme.  Then I put them in some kind of order, figure out what needs to happen in between so things make sense, and tie it all together.  I believe this is called the quilting method.  Sometimes I feel detached from the project until I throw myself into research, so I visit towns that inspire my settings, even live like my characters.  For instance, I hosted a radio show based on a weekly theme so I could more accurately portray my current protagonist.

Where do you write?

After the pandemic hit and we were forced to work from home, I set up a nifty little table against my living room windows.  I’m usually there, but I love working “offsite”.  Coffee shops, parks, lobbies of theaters—it really refreshes the mind to get away from routine.  I wrote Sundown sitting on a lawn chair while balancing an iPad on a retaining wall.

Why do you write?

It’s such fun.  It’s my outlet.  Some people draw, others make music…this is what I do for pleasure and escape and to occasionally torture real-life foes without those pesky social mores getting in the way.

More about Jennifer: Parting words; links to her books; social media

I’m the slowest writer ever but I have some stuff for you to read in the meantime.  

Edge of Sundownmybook.to/edgeofsundown

A novella and short story by my alter ego, for you grown-ups:  https://www.jenniferworrellwrites.com/behind-the-beaded-curtain

Facebook: facebook.com/JWorrellWrites

Twitter: twitter.com/JWorrellWrites

Website: jenniferworrellwrites.com

Everything, everywhere, all at once (assuming you open all the links in one go): linktr.ee/JenniferWorrell

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6Ws, Darkstroke Books

6Ws with Author GJ Scobie

Today’s featured author for my 6Ws series is GJ Scobie, author of The Kill Chain. GJ uses his expertise working in cyber security to create this cybercrime thriller, published by darkstroke books. A busy author, remarkably he has just completed his 13th novel and is onto the next. Here, I will let GJ take over this post.

Who is author GJ Scobie?

I work in cyber security and I’m a Certified Information Systems Security Professional. I have trained in Ethical Hacking and have a particular interest in how technology impacts on our everyday lives. As a public speaker, I regularly present at industry and government conferences and roundtables on various aspects of computer security including sessions on Ransomware, Mobile Security and Cyber in the Movies. I also participate in the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with my show, “My neighbour hacked my toothbrush” highlighting the dangers of internet connected devices in the home. In my writing, I deal with the dark side of technology and how it affects society reliant on computers. I live in Scotland and, when not writing, love to explore my native country, taking more photographs than I can ever hope to catalogue.

What is your latest book?

The Kill Chain, is a cybercrime thriller set in the present day, and was published by darkstroke in July 2022. It was inspired by news reports of black hat hackers, nation state sanctioned cybercrime and the debate over privacy in a connected world. The Kill Chain (the term given to the stages of a cyber-attack) is set in the present day, the story taking off from what should have been a private moment years before; a long game played by threat actors determined to take control for political and economic gain, while their victim struggles doing what they believe is right based on a code of ethics versus his need to keep his marriage, friendships and reputation intact. 

When did you begin writing?

I’ve always written but looking back it was around 2010 when I started to think about seriously finishing a novel and submitting it. Since then, I’ve drafted one novel a year. A number of these novels have never been queried. The last four I’ve written, including The Kill Chain, all received full manuscript requests, so the last couple of years I’ve had good feedback which has resulted in being published. The Kill Chain was my eleventh novel. I’ve just completed my thirteenth and I’m busy planning the next.

How do you write?

I’m an early riser and write for a couple of hours before work. I write most days, but don’t stress if I feel I need to take a day off to do something else. I’m one of those writers who believes writing is not just about putting words on a page, but all the other activities necessary to write those words in the first place. If that involves reading, thinking, going out to visit locations, speaking and listening to people, always looking for inspiration from the world around me, catching snippets of conversation as people pass by, this is all part of the process for me. I imagine I have this ‘writer’s filter’ through which everything going on around me passes through, and what is collected is all material for new books.

The only tool I use is Microsoft Word, typically one document with the draft, another with the initial plan and notes. I also scribble a lot using pen and paper as ideas come to me during the day. I did use my mobile for taking notes, but that meant having to transfer those notes and I just find it quicker and easier to use pen and paper and then type what’s written down if it’s needed. I’m a technology geek, but I like to keep my process as simple as possible.

Where do you write?

Up until the pandemic I wrote on the train. My commute to work was almost an hour each way and with the travel time to the station and waiting on platforms, it was the best part of three hours on top of working full-time. I had no choice, but to learn to shut the world out and write surrounded by strangers. It used to be time I filled with reading, but once I started writing seriously, it was part of my day I could use to complete my novels. Cafes and station platforms when trains were delayed and the journey itself, became protected time to write. I rarely wrote at home as I always took the weekend off, satisfied with the progress I had made during the week.

When the pandemic started, I moved to working from home and now only travel one day a week. Having to learn to write in silence in a room with a desk was strange and it did take some adjustment. My writing initially slowed as I’m surrounded by books and music and guitars to distract me, and I would say during the first six months of that period, I found it difficult. However, I adjusted and now I still rise early, but instead of commuting I have my own study and desk and a door I can close.

When I was commuting, I did listen to music, but only during the return journey in the evening. I don’t know why, but I didn’t put headphones on in the morning. I recall the morning session was more writing and the return journey, editing what I had written. Today, I rarely write or edit when music is playing. I have a great sound system, with speakers on either side of my desk, but I find I end up spending more time listening than writing. 

Why do you write?

I think it’s a way of coping and making sense of the world as I see it. My job is stressful, and I find when I write I am not worrying about anything else other than the characters and the world they inhabit. I was brought up with books and my family were always reading. My father had a boxroom that was lined with shelves and stacked to the ceiling with books. As a young child I used to go in and sit on the floor and browse whatever I could reach. From an early age I wanted to write my own book and place it on a shelf beside the others. 

More about GJ Scobie: parting words and links.

I self-published a future cyber thriller in February 2022, The Copernicus Coercion, the first in a series featuring body hackers, the manipulation of computer networks via internet-connected implants and rogue Artificial Intelligence. I’m currently working on a sequel to The Kill Chain, called The Kill Switch and finalising a science fiction fantasy series called The Clockmaker Conspiracy. This features a parallel world run on steam, accessible via a quantum portal, and is on a collision course with our own. 

I blog at https://gjscobie.com and can be found on Twitter and Instagram @gjscobie

The Kill Chain is available here: https://mybook.to/killchainh

The Copernicus Coercion is available here: https://amzn.to/3Emv0VZ

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Darkstroke Books, Isabel Long Mystery Series, Readers

Out of Nowhere

One never knows who will want to read your books. Lately, I had two experiences that brought this home.

First, I should say I don’t write books to sell books. Of course, I want to make money from my hard work. It would be great if it were a great deal of money. But I write because I love to write and I hope people will have the same experience reading the words I put together on paper or screen. I want them to forget they are reading but feel they are inside the story I created.

I certainly appreciate the support I receive from fellow authors, especially those I have met through my publisher darkstroke books. You know who you are. I smile at the reviews and ratings that perfect strangers leave on Amazon and their comments via social media. Then there are those who come to in-person readings or I meet randomly, say at my son’s brewery. Of course, I have the backing of my family and longtime friends.

But let me tell you about those two experiences I mentioned above.

The first was aided by Fred, a writer who I met in college and continues to be a close friend. He was in communication with a friend who is incarcerated in a prison. I won’t go into the reasons why, but he does share with Fred an interest in books. Fred recommended my Isabel Long Mystery Series. It turns out Fred’s friend belongs to a reading group in prison, and upon his request, the members took up my first book, “Chasing the Case.” Last I heard, they enjoyed it enough to move onto the second, “Redneck’s Revenge.”

The second is an encounter I had with the person at one of the newsrooms where I work. She handles many responsibilities for the ad department. I happened to be near her desk when she showed the paperback copies of the first four books in my series. Would I be willing to sign them? And as I did, she told me she asked for them as a Christmas present and was so happy when she found them under the tree. She had heard I write mysteries, her favorite genre. I was touched and promised her a gift of the fifth that will be out later this month.

Both experiences made me smile and glad that I write books people wanted to read.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s the full cover of Working the Beat, no. 5 in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, set for a Jan. 27 release. Here’s the link: mybook.to/workingthebeat

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Darkstroke Books, Edinburgh Crime Series

Val Penny, Scotland and her new mystery Hunter’s Rules

I have read all of Val Penny’s books in her Edinburgh Crime Mysteries Series, which is set in Scotland, where she lives. Truth be told she is originally from the U.S. So, I asked how her adopted home inspired her to write this series. Here, I will let her tell you herself and about the latest in the series — Hunter’s Rules — which will be released Jan. 1 by darkstroke books and is available now on Amazon for pre-order.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. It is always a pleasure to visit.

Vicky's Edinburgh 2

Edinburgh, Scotland

My family has been moving between the U.S.A. and the U.K. for generations. It is always a bit of a lottery as to where you end up! As for me, I have been moving East all my life. Born in Northern , I attended high school in the Mile High City of Denver then worked in Virginia before crossing the pond and marrying a Scot.

I write crime thrillers and started writing in this genre because that is what I enjoy reading. I firmly believe that to be a good author, you must first be an avid reader and it is due to my love of reading and story-telling that I began to write novels.

Hunter’s Rules is the sixth book in my Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series and there are many more to come! Although the books form a series, each works as a standalone novel, so readers can join the stories at any point.

The books are set in the beautiful city of Edinburgh which is the capital of Scotland. I chose it because it is a relatively small city and people from different walks of life and backgrounds are known to each other. That allows me to have some fun with my characters and storylines.

I am particularly proud of this book because, although the story is complete within itself, the concept follows on from a short story that I contributed to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland. The story, which is again a standalone piece, is the prequel to the novel. I hope those who read both will enjoy the conceit and those who read either will be absorbed by them.

Hunter’s Rules Blurb

A bloody scene brings Hunter and Meera’s romantic plans to an abrupt end.

A young woman was attacked in a hotel lift. She has life-changing injuries, but she is alive. Hunter notes that her wounds are like those inflicted on two women who previously died.

Can Meera keep the injured woman alive long enough for her to identify her assailant? Is the same person responsible for all three crimes? When Hunter is identified as a suspect in the crime, can he establish his innocence and lead his team to solve the crime and keep Edinburgh safe?

An excerpt from Hunter’s Rules

“Scott,” Hunter repeated. “Earth to Scott.”

“Evening, sir. This is posh, isn’t it?”

“Are you here to work or admire the décor?” Hunter asked.

“Sorry. The sarge says you need us to take witness statements.”

“Exactly so, and here comes the cavalry,” Hunter said. He smiled at Chloe Ferguson. Everyone called her Fergie. She led her team of CSIs towards him. He looked at her grim expression.

“We’ll need to get this done pronto so the hotel can have their lift back. Of course, it must be thoroughly sanitised before it’s back in use,” she said. “Anyway, Sam’s on her way. We’ll let her get her initial photos taken before we start. It looks like someone’s danced on the floor. Look at those bloody footprints in the car and all over here.” She pointed to the marks on the shiny polished floor.

“Sorry, Fergie. Hands up, that was me and Meera. We checked if the woman was still alive and when she was, Meera did what she could for her while I called you and the ambulance.”

“For fuck’s sake, Hunter. You know better.”

“I did as little damage as I could, but the victim was in a lift.”

“I know, I know. It’s just lucky the professionals are here now. Oh, and there’s Sam. Let’s give her space.”

Hunter watched the quiet photographer get her equipment ready and set to work.

“Neil, if you stay here and keep everybody away from the elevator. No mobile phone photos or films either. See anybody taking any you just confiscate their phone as containing evidence. That’ll stop the rest fast enough. Charlie, you and Scott take statements from the staff on duty in the bar and restaurant tonight. The guests too. See if you can get any descriptions of the woman and whoever she was with.”

“As we don’t know what either of them look like or names or anything, can you give us a clue, perhaps?” Scott asked.

“The woman mentioned the name Frederick. She has dark hair and was dressed in a fancy red velvet dress. A cocktail dress, I think they call it,” Hunter said. “I suppose there wouldn’t be too many red velvet dresses.”

“What are you doing here anyway?” Charlie asked.

“I was treating Meera to dinner, if it’s any of your business.”

“Well, it is. If you were having dinner at the same time as the victim, you could be witnesses. Did you see her?”

Val Penny’s books

This is the sixth book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series of novels. Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form Val with 6 booksthe rest of this bestselling series set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke.

You can also start at the beginning of The Jane Renwick Thrillers with The First Cut.

Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Author Contact Details

www.valpenny.com

https://www.facebook.com/Authorvalpenny

https://www.facebook.com/valerie.penny.739

www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303

https://www.facebook.com/groups/167248300537409

https://twitter.com/valeriepenny

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17300087.Val_Penny

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Val-Penny/e/B07C4725TK?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1611574956&sr=1-1

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/val-penny

Buy Links

mybook.to/hunterschase

mybook.to/huntersrevenge

mybook.to/huntersforce

mybook.to/huntersblood

mybook.to/hunterssecret

mybook.to/huntersrules

bit.ly/LetsGetPublished

mybook.to/darkscotland

mybook.to/thefirstcut

 

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Character Traits, Darkstroke Books

Character Traits: Meet James Ravencroft

Next up in this series is Paula RC Readman, a fellow darkstroke books  author who lives in the UK. Paula is the author of the Stone Angels, an intriguingly dark novel I enjoyed. Frankly, I believe it would also make a great movie. For this post, Paula has chosen James Ravencroft, the highly flawed protagonist of her novel. Her journey as a writer and author is also well noting. Here, I will let Paula take over.

Paula R C Readman A1 300520

Paula RC Readman

Thank you Joan for this opportunity to introduce my main character from Stone Angels to your audience, James Ravencroft, an artist with a dark heart. He’s passionate about the pure beauty of art. James first appeared in a winning short story I wrote for the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival/Writing Magazine Competition in 2012.

Extract from Roofscapes

“Hey, be careful with that!” the man snarled. With a single sweep of his hand the dangling picture found its place. He then turned his dark blue eyes on me, his shoulder-length black hair shone under the lights. In an upper class tone, he stated, “Aesthetics, my dear woman, art is for art’s sake,”

I caught my balance, and stepped off the ladder.

“Ravencroft,” the man said, offering me his hand, as his dark eyes shone with an eerie hilarity.

I ignored his proffered hand, and instead snatched up my clipboard, hoping he would just leave us to do our job.

“I love your work.” Jude fluttered her eyelashes and flashed her winning smile at him. He chose to ignore her, turning his attention fully on me.

Ever since he had arrived in the gallery with these godless pictures, Jude swooned over this hedonistic, overbearing man in his tight black jeans. I had kept my distance.

“Tina isn’t it?” he said, extending his hand to me again.

I nodded, still not accepting it.

He let his hand drop, unlike his smile. With a nod in the direction of his paintings he said, “You’re doing a grand job, though I expect the public will find something to criticize.”

I lowered my clipboard, “Really?”

“Yes,” he said, letting the word out slowly, “Tell me honestly what you think of my work.”

“Your work?” I shook my head. I had no wish to share my thoughts with the likes of him

“Yes,” He stepped forward, blocking my way.

“I see a darkly delicious city alive in the crowded street below,” Jude said.

Ravencroft turned to her, his smile too sweet, too nauseating. “I wasn’t asking you, my dear.”

How did you come up with the character and his name?

I knew I wanted the name Raven . . .  Something. James Raven on its own was a flat name to me. It didn’t roll off the tongue. According to my dictionary of surnames, Ravenscroft is a town in Chester, England. I just dropped the S, so it became Ravencroft. James’s description I based on the 15th century German artist, Albrecht Durer. There’s a famous self-portrait of the artist with his flowing hair.

Tells us more about Stone Angels.

The inspiration for Stone Angels came from my short story I wrote in 2011, which won the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival/Writing Magazine Competition the next year. The story Roofscapes was told from the view point of Tina Whiteoaks, a picture hanger in an art gallery. She met James, who wasn’t the main character in the story, through her work. In fact we learn everything we need to know about James through Tina and her friend, Jude via their emotions and reactions to him, and his interplay with them. Jude admired James on two levels as an artist, and a subject of desire. Tina, on the other hand found him to be hedonistic, arrogance, and intimidating.

Was a real person your inspiration for this character?

Yes and no. Yes, in as much as my research into serial killers show that most had the ability to be charming and unthreatening to their prey. No, not anyone I know personally who is a serial killer, but a mixture of arrogance and manipulative people I have known during my life time, mentioning no names of course.

Is your character likeable or not?

Yes, James Ravencroft is very likeable. Many people would find him charming, intelligent, a little reserved at times, and even charismatic. Most serial killers are highly intelligent, (it’s why most of them get away with their crime for so long) until you discover their darker side, by which time it’s normally too late if you’re their chosen victim. Of course James’s upbringing, like so many real-life serial killers, has some bearing on his outlook on life.

Athor’s bio:

Paula R C Readman is married, has a son, and lives in Essex, England, with two cats. After leaving school with no qualifications, she spent her working life mainly in low-paying jobs. In 1998, with no understanding of English grammar, she decided to beat her dyslexia by setting herself a challenge to become a published author.

She taught herself “how to write” from books her husband purchased from eBay. After making the 250th purchase, Russell told her “just to get on with the writing.” Since 2010, she has mainly been published in anthologies in Britain, Australia, and America and won several writing competitions. InDays Pass like a Shadow Large 2020 she had her first crime novella The Funeral Birds published by Demain Publishing, and a single collection of short stories Days Pass Like A Shadow published by Bridge House Publishing. Her first crime novel Stone Angles was published by Darkstroke.

Blog: https://paularcreadmanauthor.blog

Amazon Author’s page

Author of Stone Angels, mybook.to/stoneangels

The Funeral Birds https://mybook.to/thefuneralbirds

Days Pass Like a Shadow https://mybook.to/dayspasslikeashadow

Facebook: https://facebook.com/paula.readman.1

Twitter: Paula R C Readman@Darkfantasy13

 

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