Sunday, July 20, 2014

Interview with author Steve Sailah

Welcome to Steve Sailah, author of the debut novel A Fatal Tide, who is currently embarking on a blog tour to promote the launch. I’m really honored to kick off the blog tour here at An Adventure in Words. I thought a great way to start Steve's tour would be to ask him a few quick questions to whet your appetite for the rest of the tour where you can read reviews and more information on Steve and A Fatal Tide. Thank you to the awesome people at Random House for supplying me with a copy of A Fatal Tide and for organizing Steve to visit here.

To follow the blog tour, click over to on the 22nd July, 2014 and enjoy some time there with Steve.

Now over to Steve Sailah to answer a few quick questions on his book and writing.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

My work combines crime, mystery and war. I link my fictional plots to the actual movements of a particular Australian Light Horse unit during the Great War.

Why do you write what you do?

I write what I like to read, and I mostly enjoy historical fiction. I had a particular connection with the Anzacs of Gallipoli, having interviewed some of them for the ABC in 1980 and returned to the battlefield with the aging veterans in 1990. Fiction allows me to imagine the emotions, experiences and dilemmas of young men who fought that war in a way that is relevant to today’s reader.

What is your writing process?

I get my usual distractions out of the way first – reading the newspaper, listening to morning radio, household chores, going to the gym, etc. — before meditating for half an hour on the day ahead. Then I sit down to the laptop and write or research for five or six hours.

What are you currently working on?

A sequel, part romance-part thriller, that moves the surviving characters of A Fatal Tide from the evacuation of Gallipoli to investigating a murder in Egypt during the ongoing war with the Ottoman Empire.

Something you may not know about me?

I enjoy motorcycling and being dragged along by my border collie Felix.

Thank you to Steve for visiting with us. I hope you have enjoyed your stay. We look forward to your sequel to A Fatal Tide.  Don't forget everyone to skip over to  to continue with the tour. 


Release Date:                        1st August 2014
Purchase in Australia:               QBD Bookstore & other good book stores
Publisher’s Website Info:          Random House

A powerful novel set in Gallipoli, that's part war-story and part mystery. 'Amid Gallipoli's slaughter he hunted a murderer . . .'

It is 1915 and Thomas Clare rues the day he and his best friend Snow went to war to solve the murder of his father.

The only clues – a hidden wartime document and the imprint of an army boot on the victim's face – have led the pair from the safety of Queensland to the blood-soaked hills of Gallipoli.

Now not only are Thomas's enemies on every side – from the Turkish troops bearing down on the Anzac lines, to the cold-blooded killer in his own trench – but as far away as London and Berlin.

For, unbeknown to Thomas, the path to murder began thirteen years earlier in Africa with the execution of Breaker Morant - and a secret that could change the course of history.


Steve Sailah is a former ABC foreign correspondent in New Delhi and Washington and the recipient of two prestigious Walkley Awards. He was a friend to several Gallipoli veterans, and returned to the battlefields with a number of them on the 75th anniversary of the first ANZAC landing. His ABC documentary, Stories from Gallipoli, was republished in April 2013.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Getting into the Mind of a Killer

I've known Jane Isaac for several years now. She's one of my oldest (in length of time) twitter friends. You meet many people on social media, but some are keepers. Jane is one of them.  Two years ago I had the great pleasure of reading and reviewing her first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder.

So now that Jane's just launched the shiny new sequel "The Truth Will Out", I thought you would enjoy hearing from her. Jane has very kindly shared her insights into how to get into the mind of a killer. Something we'd prefer to do without becoming one ourselves. Thank you Jane and I wish you huge success with your latest book. One of these days I'm getting over to lovely 'ol England to share a pot of tea and a plate of scones with this gorgeous and talented writer.
We were also lucky enough to have Jane Isaac guest on the very first Mel and May Show Podcast.  What's a Mel and May Show you might ask?  Well, its a writing buddy of mine, Mel Hearse, and me asking probing questions of people we find interesting. Questions like "Why is it raining in Perth and not England?"  "Why didn't you steal that groovy coffee table from your agent?"

So you can read a guest post by Jane below and then hop over to Mel and May interview Jane Isaac podcast and have a listen, too.

Read on thriller writers. May your serial killers become more authentic with her advice.

A guest post by UK thriller author Jane Isaac
As novelists, research forms the basis of what we do and this is particularly prevalent in my genre of crime fiction. There are characters, settings, plots and storylines to consider, in addition to police procedural research.
The more accurate our work is, the more authentic and believable. This is especially the case with our characters: we need to research their back story, check the feasibility of the person we are creating, before we can make them appear real.
When drawing up the main character in my crime series, DCI Helen Lavery, I spoke to police officers at all levels in the British force in order to build a character that was not only interesting and engaging, but also realistic in modern day policing.
Unless you have access to prisons, work with criminals, or know any (and even if you’d want to), researching your antagonist can be problematic. For An Unfamiliar Murder, I resorted to reading endless case studies of true crime and watching documentaries about killers and their backgrounds to draw up my murderer’s profile. I’ve read crime fiction for years, yet I wasn’t prepared for the nightmares I experienced after reading real crime. For some reason it’s quite acceptable to be scared out of our wits by the product of another writer’s mind, but reality? That’s a whole new ball game.
So, what makes a killer? One element to consider is their humanity. It seemed so easy when we were young – all the baddies were ugly, evil monsters. The reality is that even the worst people in this world have some redeeming features, e.g. apparently Hitler loved his dogs; it is said the Yorkshire Ripper was very charismatic and could walk into a room and make everyone feel special. Many of these people appear to function normally in society until they are caught. So, we need to create a character that is realistic. If we make them too bad they become unbelievable.
Another element is motive. Statistics suggest that most people are killed by someone they know, someone close to them. What is their motive? Is it revenge, greed, lust, power, fear, jealousy, blackmail...?
We also need to consider their background in an attempt to provide some kind of explanation as to what they’ve become. This is particularly notable with serial killers. What motivates them to kill? Why do they choose specific victims?
Sometimes, even if we have considered all of the above, we need to seek assistance to confirm the validity of our work. The plot for my second book, The Truth Will Out, was more complex than the first and although I researched extensively, I still felt it necessary to have my killer’s back story checked by a clinical psychologist to ensure it was feasible.
Much of what we research never makes it into the book. But if we get the back story right, it brings our characters alive on the page. And as a fiction writer, if we achieve that, we’ve met our goal.           
Jane Isaac was runner up, ‘Writers Bureau Writer of the Year 2013’. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduced Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.' The sequel, The Truth Will Out, was released by Legend Press on 1st April 2014.
Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Stephen King's Mr Mercedes is almost here...

Some readers have likened my books and stories to Stephen King. First up, wow! That is some compliment, and I'm always humbled followed by the idea they have my stories mixed up with another author's

Secondly, its no accident. I have grown up on Stephen King.

I'm old enough to have read Carrie in its first printing and seen the film when it released in the cinemas. I still credit Salem's Lot as  being the book that scared the heck out of me more than any other book. And I've read The Exorcist at thirteen! (Yes, I know I was weird and still am.)

When discussing authors of this genre (which I am not even sure what genre we're talking about. Is it really Horror? I call it dark thriller.), I say you only bought the other author's books, Dean Koontz, James Herbert, Peter Straub, Whitley Strieber, etc. to keep you going until the next Stephen King arrived on the shelves.

His short stories just captivated me, and they still do. When I first started writing, almost thirty years ago, I wanted to write short stories like his, with full characters that hinted of a life behind the story, and left you wondering what happened after (that's if the character survived). If not for him, I probably wouldn't have written so many short stories.

While I didn't love his follow up to The Shining, the pretty droll Doctor Sleep, I did adore 11/22/63. If you haven't read it, it's masterful. I never wanted it to end. The Dome was a fabulous read, too. So despite the hiccup of Doctor Sleep, I am eagerly awaiting Mr Mercedes. Something tells me this is going to be a fabulous book and back to the King that I love.

I write dark thrillers, and I'm proud that somewhere in my mind circulates the dozens of Stephen King stories that I have read and reread. Perhaps,if not for King I may have never traveled down the writing path.

His book, On Writing, is a must for writers. He says it all. Its pretty simple to write. You need to read a lot, write a lot, and, I will add, love your characters. For as dark and terrible are the minds of his characters, you can tell he loves them, along with every fault they possess. You can't write bad guys until you understand them, and when you do you can't help feel something for them.

Yes, he's wordy sometimes, and some of his subplots, that I call his "I digress" moments, go nowhere and probably aren't necessary to the plot. Yet they're mostly worth the journey.

So here's to Mr Mercedes out in June 2014. I can't wait. And here is the master himself describing where he got the idea for the book.

Do share in the comments who is your inspiration if you are a writer, or favourite author if you are a wonderful reader...

And for your further entertainment if you are a writer, here's the best advice anyone can give you on writing. In fact, its the big secret of writing. This makes me laugh every time I watch it.