Saturday, 23 March 2013

PAULA'S PEOPLE: Guest of the month Dave McCall who writes as David Ebsworth

Please welcome David Ebsworth!

View AssassinsMark-cover.jpg in slide showDavid Ebsworth is the pen name of writer, Dave McCall, a former negotiator and Regional Secretary for the Transport & General Workers’ Union. He was born in Liverpool but has lived for the past thirty years in Wrexham with his wife, Ann. Since their retirement in 2008, the couple have spent about six months of each year in southern Spain. Dave began to write seriously in the following year, 2009. His debut novel, The Jacobites' Apprentice, was critically acclaimed by the Historical Novel Society who deemed it "worthy of a place on every historical fiction bookshelf." But he's here today to launch his new novel, The Assassin's Mark.
Anyway, over to you, David.
View Profile.gif in slide show Well first, thanks very much for welcoming me to the blog. It's a great privilege to be here. And especially today, as you say, to launch my second novel, The Assassin’s Mark.  It's set in 1938, towards the end of the Spanish Civil War, and follows the trials and tribulations of left-wing reporter Jack Telford, stuck on a tour bus with a very strange mixture of other travellers as he tries to uncover the hidden truths beneath the conflict. But, in the words of the synopsis, "Jack must contend first with his own gullibility, the tragic death of a fellow-passenger, capture by Republican guerrilleros, a final showdown at Spain's most holy shrine and the possibility that he has been badly betrayed. Betrayed and in serious danger."
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was researching a novel about the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War and came across a paper on the Battlefield Tours that Franco launched – mainly for British tourists – before the war was even finished. It was too good a story to ignore.
What genre does your book fall under?
Historical thriller with a generous amount Agatha Christie and a splash of Rick Stein, seasoned with a pinch of the picaresque.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I always picture actors in my main character roles anyway so, in this case, Christopher Eccleston as Jack Telford and Rachel Weisz as Valerie Carter-Holt.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A Christie-esque thriller set on a battlefield tour bus towards the end of the Spanish Civil War.
Is  your book self-published or represented by an agency?
I spent a long time looking for agents and "traditional publishers" when I wrote Jacobites. A lot of people that I respect were very supportive about it but the agents I contacted were either too rude to even acknowledge me, or told me it wouldn't fit their lists, or liked it but weren't taking on any more new authors. Also, in meeting many other wordsmiths, I realised that there's a huge mythology about "traditional publishers". It's generally thought that, first, they pay their authors a generous advance; second, that they get your work automatically onto bookstore shelves; and, third, that they do all the marketing for you. It's a load of nonsense for all but a tiny minority. So, being passionate about my writing, and having market-tested a bit, I decided to go "independent", publishing with the help of SilverWood Books ( and  using their high quality professional backing (registrations, typesetting, design, proofing, etc.) but using my own editor (the inimitable Jo Field) and jacket cover graphic designer (the indefatigable and innovative Cathy Helms). I’ve found it a fantastic way for a new writer to get published and I love the buzz of doing my own marketing.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I started to write in February 2011 and finished the first draft (180,000 words) in October that year – then travelled with it through all its locations in Northern Spain to check the “feel” and complete the first re-write (168,000 words). The final version is 152,000 words.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
C J Sansom’s Winter in Madrid; Dave Boling’s Guernica; Rebecca Pawel’s Death of a Nationalist; Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Long list, I’m afraid. Old comrades like Jack Jones and Frank Deagan from whom I first learned about the “real” experience of the Spanish Civil War. Spanish family friends who lived through the war and Franco’s repression that followed it. Wonderful historians like Antony Beevor and Paul Preston who’ve never lost sight of the Spanish Civil War’s significance for all of us. Professor Sandie HolguĂ­n who introduced me to the bus tours that feature centrally in the story.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The Spanish Civil War is badly neglected by English-language fiction writers so, at one level, I wanted the novel to be informative as well as entertaining. I’d like it to be a “must” for all those who already have an affection for Spain and maybe want to learn a bit more about the country’s history and culture – while still being able to sit on a beach with a good pot-boiler and need to keep “turning the pages.”

For more about David's previous novel, The Jacobites’ Apprentice, and other relevant information, you can visit his main website...

To Read my review of The Jacobites' Apprentice click here

Good luck Dave!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Author Spotlight: Zach Abrams talks sbout his book Ringed Fence

 Today I am highlighting  the work of Zach Abrams The following is an interview that Zach has allowed me kindly to post!

1 What is your book about?
My book tells the story of Benjanin Short in his various incarnations. Benjamin is a very complex character and compartmentalises his life to an extreme. His life is split into five different characters, each living under a variation of his name and the people in each of these lives have little or no knowledge of the others. The one common thread weaving each of his lives together is his obsession for music. There is an inevitability the divisions can not be sustained and the story deals with the unforeseen events taking place causing the divisions to become blurred with catastrophic results.
Benjamin is an anti-hero. Although each of his characters has some redeeming features, they essentially are all different aspects of Benjamin's self obsession. He is a sociopath constantly using other people to serve his own ends.
2 How did you come up with the idea for your book?
That's the strange part. I didn't have an idea for a book. I was sitting thinking about writing something and I had the idea for the character. He developed in my mind and I thought I'd start trying to write about him. At first I though it would make an essay or a short story. The ideas expanded as I tried to explain about the different aspects of his character and the story seemed to write itself. At no time did I prepare or think through a plot and I didn't know where it was going. Afterwards, when I read it through for the first time it was like reading someone else's novel.
3 Does your main character resemble anyone in your family or circle of friends?
I certainly hope not. True there are aspects of myself and of people I know but Benjamin is not based on any one person. To survive in modern society, I, like most people have to compartmentalise. Benjamin takes this beyond the boundaries of what is normal or reasonable. Each of Benjamin's lives are reasonable normal if taken in isolation - it's only when they are combined under the same character and obsessively ring fenced that they become pathological
4 Who is your favorite writer? Why?
There are many writers I love depending on my mood. One that I particularly enjoy is the British author Michael Dobbs (to confuse matters there is a US author of the same name). I became addicted to his books after reading 'House of Cards' where I adored his depiction of Francis Urquhart. His own political experiences make his novels knowledgeable, insightful and amusing.
5 How long did it take you to write your book?
Once I started writing 'Ring Fenced,' I was consumed by it and wrote obsessively. I completed the first draft within five weeks the needed a rest to draw breath. The first edit took me about four months and it was over another year before I was sufficiently happy with it to allow anyone else, outside family, to read it. I waited a further year or more to embark on another novel and I have recently competed 'Made a Killing.' It was less obsessively written but not by much and I hope to have it published quite soon
6 What strange writing rituals do you have?
I don't know if I'd go as far as calling them rituals but I prefer to write into a word document while having a couple of windows open in the background. I have one open to a dictionary /thesaurus and the other open in Google search. This way I can often research or confirm small details I'm writing about while the thought is in my head. Only recently, I've added a separate word document to the combination so I can make notes on my time line and characters as I go along.
I've recently noticed that I'm not too distracted by background noise so I don't have a problem with a television or radio being on while I'm writing. It's maybe helped by my partial deafness but strangely enough I've found afterwards that I have a reasonable awareness of what the programme has been about and it hasn't significantly affected my writing - except maybe a few more typos to correct.
7 What are your hobbies?
Hobbies? Are you serious? Where's the time? Seriously though, I still have a lot of work commitments and try to write whenever I can. This involves the associated requirements to edit and publish and to try to mutually support other writers that I know. Outside of all of this I enjoy reading, music travel and sports.
8 What are you reading at the moment?
Currently I'm reading 'The Invention of the Big Bang' by Fred Schafer. It has a very unusual style and is a compelling read with the author telling you someone's retelling of the main characters life story. It took a bit of effort to get into it but it's proving very much worth the effort, absorbing. I love reading Indie books, you find real originality while the mainstream mainly keeps churning out variations of the same thing.