Book Trailer: A Prison in the Sun

I’m delighted to share this book trailer for a Prison in the Sun, created by PR Manager and author Henry Roi.

http://mybook.to/prisonsun

“After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse.

Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to – and should he hand it in… or keep it?

Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.”

Read more about my novel here – https://isobelblackthorn.com/canary-islands-novels/a-prison-in-the-sun/

Isobel Blackthorn is the author of a Canary Islands Mystery series, including A Matter of LatitudeClarissa’s Warning and A Prison in the SunThe Drago Tree serves as a prequel. Find her author page and easy access to her writing here author.to/IsobelBlackthorn

Book Review: Gumshoe Blues by Paul D. Brazill

It’s my turn on the Blackthorn Book Tour for Gumshoe Blues by Paul D. Brazill!

Gumshoe Blues

Following the breakdown of his marriage, in a booze-addled flash of inspiration, Peter Ord decides to become a private investigator. Dark farce and tragicomedy soon ensue. Peter must tackle many challenging cases, and when he comes under the radar of a local crime lord, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. With sidekicks, like boozy hack, Bryn Laden, failure is not an option – it’s compulsory.

My Thoughts

What a corker of a volume this is! Four stories, one a novelette in length, all told from the perspective of washed-up, hard-boiled private investigator and former English teacher Peter Ord. The opening scene of ‘Gumshoe Blues’ find Peter waking up on New Year’s Day after a night of binge drinking. I can hear U2 playing in the background, I can smell the fetid air in the grotty room. The sleaze continues on into pubs and Velvettes, a nightclub for ‘gentlemen’. We soon meet the  supporting cast of barmen, dancers, and underworld bosses make up the northern UK town of Seatown.

Throughout the volume, Brazill’s originality and imagination shine. ‘Mr Kiss and Tell’ finds a wife-beating loser and Ord as a store detective at Poundland – one of Britain’s cheap discount stores. I am reminded of ‘World of Quid’ in the opening episode of the new season  of Birds of a Feather. Stores existing to let the poor believe they can afford to shop. ‘Who Killed Skippy’ finds Ord paid to protect Craig Ferry, from himself. The mystery is solved in the end, but it is hardly the point to the story, which is rather to spotlight the iniquitous Ferry family and particularly the  loser-behemoth, Craig. ‘The Lady and The Gimp’ is an oddly charmingly bleak tale of former lead singer of a punk rock band Lightning Jones – who belongs to Spammy Spampinato doing time for a string of murders –  and Barry Blue, ‘The Gimp’, doing some handyman work at Harry Shand’s bar. His gaze lands on Jones and he falls in lust. Meanwhile, Jones hires Ord to track down his mother.

Brazill crafts strong, believable and quirky characters. The jump cuts walking us through vignettes and backstory work well. A healthy use of colloquialisms lends a gritty authenticity. Told masterfully with tremendous wit and realism in taut, punchy prose, Gumshoe Blues contributes a work of considerable merit to the noir crime stable. In all Brazill offers his readers a window on northern Britain’s underbelly, the everyday humdrum banality of struggle street existence and wrecked lives. Definitely a book to look out for.

 

About the Author

Paul D. Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England and now lives in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where he’s been TEFL teaching for more than a decade.

His books include Last Year’s Man, A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, Small Time Crimes, and Kill Me Quick. He’s had stories published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime 8,10 and 11, and his writing has been translated in Italian, Polish, Finnish, German and Slovenian.

You can usually find him on Twitter @PaulDBrazill and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pauldavidbrazill/

Website: https://pauldbrazill.com/

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Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Authors have a moral duty to help save the planet

I have been dwelling all day on whether I should write this post. Then I started re-watching Climate Change: The Facts – David Attenborough’s documentary on climate change – and I decided that yes, I must.

Authors often taken a stand on various issues. We have a tendency to champion causes when our latest release carries that theme. Right now, when it comes to climate change, I don’t have a book I am promoting. I just feel the need to speak out. There are some in the writing community who believe we should zip it and get on with entertaining readers. But what of authors such as Tim Winton or Richard Flanagan or Arundhati Roy, to mention but three, who have stepped up and written extensively on the environment and social justice.

Authors have a moral duty to lend their weight to global salvation at a point in history that is so critical, extinction is a very real possibility.

Thanks to our inertia, our planet has reached a tipping point. The dystopias presented in climate fiction are becoming a reality today and not at some point fifty or a hundred years from now. The climate denialist machine funded by the fossil fuel industry has successfully thwarted efforts to raise widespread awareness. The same fossil fuel industry is totally aware that climate change is real and they are for the most part selfishly and greedily planning on milking the planet for all it is worth regardless of the death they cause. They must be stopped.

The United Nation’s IPCC has been constrained, forced by governments into providing the most conservative estimates when climate change scientists have for decades known how fast climate change will happen once it really gets going. In the past few years in language and reality we have gone from the cautious-sounding global warming to the more realistic global heating and climate catastrophe. Vast swathes of Australia and southern Africa are sliding into permanent drought. Communities are running out of water. Mass human migration is on the cards. What of the plants and animals left behind? Our glaciers are melting, the tundra is melting, the Arctic has melted. A one degree rise in global temperature and our weather has become wild and chaotic. We are experiencing monster storms, ferocious winds, freak winter freezes, droughts, extreme heat waves, torrential downpours and devastating floods. The evidence is everywhere.

Authors situate their books in settings around the world. Each and every one of those settings is affected by climate change. As writers we are rooted in the very worlds we create – perhaps with the exception of speculative fiction – and as storytellers we are reliant on the continuity of our precious resource, our planet Earth, with all of the wonder and magic that nature affords. Our fiction will soon appear quaint and redundant as the world we live in undergoes radical change. And as creatives, the anguish climate change looks set to cause will affect us profoundly. I for one, do not wish to be burdened with writing stories set in an apocalypse.

Take Action to Help Mitigate Climate Change

This is a call to action. Do something to make a difference. Stand on the right side of history. Now is not the time to think about it. Act. All of us together can turn this trajectory around. But it is going to take all of us, not just a handful. (For my part, I do not own a car, I use my feet and public transport, and I have just put a 5.5KW solar system on my roof, making me a net energy provider. But, I need to do more.)

From – https://www.activesustainability.com/climate-change/6-actions-to-fight-climate-change/

  1. Reduce emissions
  2. Save energy
  3. Reduce, reuse, recycle
  4. Eat low-carbon
  5. Act against forest loss
  6. Demand governments take action

Release Day for A Prison in the Sun

Book 3 in my Canary Islands Mysteries Series is released today by Next Chapter Publishing!

The Blurb: After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse.

Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to – and should he hand it in… or keep it?

Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.

Some Reflections

There is a lot to this novel, including the setting. Trevor rents a house I came very close to buying. I poured over the photos, dwelt in my mind in the rooms, but in the end it wasn’t to be. In the course of my quest to buy I discovered the location of the prison that was used to incarcerate gay men for a period of twelve years in the 1950s and 60s. I first heard about the prison in the 1980s when it was still very much a shameful secret whispered among locals.

Despite Fuerteventura receiving about two million tourists a year, the prison remains little known outside the island. I had to conduct all my research in Spanish. I am pleased I made the effort. I hope my readers are too. Here’s what some are saying:

“The author has used her deep knowledge of landscape, politics and history on the Canary Islands to give us a page-turning juxtaposition of savage past events with present-day drama, mystery and murder.

The book weaves two stories together over decades: a present-day author uncovering revelations of sadistic and gut-wrenching homophobia in the past while anguishing over his own sexual orientation. Matters heat up as he finds himself battling for his life, caught in the crosshairs of a murderous drug deal.

The result is a tapestry of events that will keep you reading to the last page.”

Buy your copy here

http://mybook.to/prisonsun

Book Tour: Chance by Carolym M Bowen

About Chance

High-powered Atlanta attorney Sydney Jones never backs down from a case. So when her bodyguard and boyfriend is accused of murder, she’s determined to fight for him in court. Instead, the charges are suddenly dismissed, and he vanishes without a trace…

Suspecting CIA involvement, Sydney takes on a lawsuit with Chinese Black Society ties and finds a startling connection to her missing man. But as she digs deeper, she discovers that someone may kill to keep the secret.

Will this dangerous cat-and-mouse game reveal the truth or put a bullet in Sydney’s head?

Chance is the second book in the Sydney Jones psychological thriller trilogy. If you like fearless heroines, page-turning action, and shocking twists, then you’ll love Carolyn Bowen’s gripping story.

My Thoughts

Chance is a gripping psychological thriller that takes the lid off the underbelly of Atlanta, Georgia, the various cultures at play, the sleaze, the Chinese mafia. Adding to the intrigue, the involvement of the CIA. Meet tough, no-nonsense lawyer Sydney Jones, her beefy bodyguard-lover Walker and washed-up rock star Roxanne who attempts to lure Walker back to her side and ends up accidentally dead for her trouble. I particularly enjoyed the complexity of Sydney’s unexpected and unwanted pregnancy.

The narrative has a strong forward drive that makes for very fast reading. Written in third person personal, the story flits seamlessly from character to character in a fluid jump cut style, an approach that takes a moment to get used to but works well. Bowen’s pastiche of character-led vignette’s adds to the tension, lending a sense of urgency. Sacrificed is the deep point of view of the contemporary thriller – this technique applies especially to psychological thrillers – and Chance is light on dialogue and long action scenes, again, key drivers of the thriller genre. Nevertheless, Bowen has deployed a narrative style that captures the reader and keeps them turning the pages until the very end. Well written with good plotting and pacing and enough intrigue and twists to keep you on your toes, Chance will keep you guessing, waiting for the pay off at the end. Recommended to those after a lighter read in the thriller genre. Chance will also appeal to those after strong female leads.

 

CAROLYN BOWEN is a mystery author who calls on her life escapades and an adventurous, imaginative spirit to inspire and entertain. Bowen uses travel as a muse to explore cultures and dialogue to bring her stories to life. Her writing credits include: Cross-Ties, a romantic adventure; The Long Road Home, a contemporary crime fiction mystery; The Sydney Jones Series Mystery Thrillers; Book 1: Primed For Revenge, and Book 2: Chance – A Novel.

Link – Amazon Exclusively – http://bit.ly/CBChance

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/CBNovels

Carolyn M. Bowen – Website – http://bit.ly/CMBNovels

Twitter Handle: @cmbowenauthor

 

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Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

 

Book review: Inside the Secret Life of Fairies: Where Dreams Come True by Maggie Hamilton

What is it about fairies that enchants us so? Where do these elusive beings live, and what do they do? Why is it some see fairies and others do not? What’s the truth about glamour? And why when they promise your dreams will come true, do fairies grant three wishes?

Maggie Hamilton has spent a decade exploring the rich world of the fairy. Having talked with people from all walks of life, she captures their astonishing, sometimes poignant encounters with fairies here. Read about the fairies found in people’s homes and gardens, deep in nature, and in city streets and parks.

On this mesmerising journey deep into this achingly beautiful otherworld, you’ll discover the many exquisite possibilities present at dawn and dusk, and why the fairy kingdom has an ecology all of its own. Learn about the notes plants sound, and why some indigenous peoples no longer need to pick a plant to access its healing properties. Find out how to work with fairies to heal the earth and your own bruised spirit, and how this quest can transform you inside and out.

For those with their own fairy stories to tell, and fairy lovers everywhere.

 

My Thoughts

What an absolutely enchanting this book is! Exquisitely told in a genuine, heartfelt and inquiring fashion, Inside the Secret Life of Fairies sets out to enchant and delight while inviting readers to make that deeper connection with nature that is our birthright – a too often unrecognised gift of being. Hamilton takes us on a journey of discovery at a time in our history when humanity has disconnected from nature. Smart phones, urbanisation, the pressure and pace and demands all pull us all away from simple acts such as observing a flower or a meadow. We live in a time when even our holidays are fake and constructed. Just simply reading Inside the Secret Life of Fairies acts like a salve.

In gentle and uplifting prose, Hamilton coaxes all of us into accepting the existence of the fairy realm: fairies are nature spirits of the plant and animal kingdoms, fairies are loving light energy, fairies are divine portions of the Creator. We may see or feel fairies when we see the world as sacred, when we indwell in nature. Fairies can be experienced anywhere but we are more likely to encounter their energy in the wilderness. I am reminded of a recent experience of my own, when I stood in the Valley of Fire in Nevada. Desert, fringed by mountains with breathtaking rock formations. I felt expansive, at one with the environment, a profound connection I couldn’t make sense of, and an overwhelming sense of belonging. It was as if I could hear the silence. The feelings were so powerful, all-consuming, and yet subtle. I had to pull myself away. Then I read this fed back to me by Hamilton:

‘This, I’ve discovered, is what the fairy realms do. They help us connect more profoundly to ourselves and to the whole of life.’

Inside the Secret Life of Fairies is fundamentally spiritual and refreshingly unpretentious. I especially appreciated Hamilton’s honesty, her questioning, her doubts. And then, her revelations. Written in part as memoir and part informative, the author gifts us a valuable lesson; to take time out and really connect with nature. Following in the footsteps of the Caddys and Dorothy MacClean of Findhorn, and of all those who have gone before and live today in communion with nature,  Inside the Secret Life of Fairies is a very special self-help book, a survival guide in this crazy, artificial reality most of us now live in. Ultimately, Hamilton has penned a book that, through the lens of an overlooked spiritual reality, encourages us all to care for our world.

I’m off to clean my house! If you want to know why, read this truly exceptional book. No superlatives do it justice!

https://www.maggiehamilton.org/

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019 for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Behind the Story: A Prison in the Sun (Canary Islands Mysteries Book 3)

When I was first told that a prison incarcerating gay men during General Franco’s regime in Spain, I was a foolish twenty-seven year old with aspirations of becoming a writer and not a clue how to go about it. The year was 1989. Back then, the true story of the prison was a dark secret whispered among locals and no one else. The Canary Islands government was silent.

It took me almost thirty years to feel equipped to tell this story. By then I was living in Australia, I had three novels set in the Canary Islands and I knew I needed to write a fourth. I felt torn as I also wanted to produce something literary, a work set entirely in the Canary Islands in the 1950s. Trouble for me was I no longer lived there, I was not born there, my Spanish was adequate but by no means sufficient to chat with locals, and above all, I am not male and I am not gay. I am also not rich! The research needed for such a literary approach would have cost many thousands in travel and accommodation. Twice I applied for funding but was unsuccessful. So I resigned myself to the notion of positioning the novel alongside the two mysteries I had already written, knowing that approach would constrain the way A Prison in the Sun could be told.

The prison cells at La Colonia Agrícola Penitenciaria de Tefía, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

I felt apprehensive. I had a lot of conversations with numerous respected authors and publishers. There was talk of the inappropriateness or lack of my fitness for the task, being neither male, gay nor from the islands. Lionel Shriver was mentioned along with political correctness. Most encouraged me, championing my efforts and bravery. I took this very idea of appropriateness and also of contemporary conversations around sexual preference and created a conflicted character, millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore. I decided I would have him tell the story of the prison. After all, he wants to write a novel with his name on the cover for once, and there is the small matter of his ghostwriting gigs winning prizes for other writers. I had so much fun being Trevor. Best of all, I popped him in a holiday let which was a house I was poised to buy back in 2017. The only reason I didn’t was the owners took it off the market. I think they did me a favour, as you will find out if you read the book.

Screenshot taken from documentary La Memoria Silenciada Tefía – Twelve men crammed in a barn.

As for the prison in Tefía, Fuerteventura – or rather concentration camp for that is what it was – I spent many many hours brushing up my Spanish so that I could read newspaper articles, blog posts, doctoral theses and academic books. I read James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. I took copious notes on the economic, political and social history of the Canary Islands from the 1920s. I watched YouTube videos. I read everything I could find on the prison. I am indebted to former prisoner Octavio García, whose testimony and activism helped raise awareness, in Spain at least, of this ignominy. Also to Professor of History Miguel Ángel Sosa Machín who interviewed Octavio and produced a novella, Viaje al centro de la infamia (which I read). His efforts gained much publicity in the noughties. It would have been impossible for me to write this novel prior to efforts of these two men.  I read up on what it was like to be gay in Spain. I recalled my closest friends of that time, who were both local to the islands and gay. The result is as authentic as I, a humble female author in her fifties, could make it. I did not shy away from the brutal truth of prison life. I put myself there. I lay down in the prisoners’ cots. I trudged up the hill in the searing sun and the raging wind to assemble in the quadrangle. I imagined what it would be like to break rocks all day. To be starving.

Not wanting to give Trevor an easy time of it, I put him through his paces. And what he goes through provides relief from the harsh reality of Fuerteventura in the 1950s. To say more would spoil the novel. Here is what one reviewer has to say:

“The author has used her deep knowledge of landscape, politics and history on the Canary Islands to give us a page-turning juxtaposition of savage past events with present-day drama, mystery and murder.

The book weaves two stories together over decades: a present-day author uncovering revelations of sadistic and gut-wrenching homophobia in the past while anguishing over his own sexual orientation. Matters heat up as he finds himself battling for his life, caught in the crosshairs of a murderous drug deal.

The result is a tapestry of events that will keep you reading to the last page.” – Veronica Schwarz.

You can find A Prison in the Sun here : http://mybook.to/prisonsun