An Interview with Lachlan Greig from “Rack and Ruin” by Carol Hedges

Rack &

“Greig is an imposing man, thirty years old and well above the regulation five foot seven inches. He is handsome, with a clear complexion, broad shoulders, bright chestnut hair and a certain glint in his eye. Life had taught him, sadly, that being gifted with a high degree of intelligence didn’t always play out well with those of his colleagues, and those of the criminal fraternity, who were not equally gifted.”

Inspector Greig, I have admired your tenacity and upright bearing as an officer of the law. I can tell from your accent that you are not a Londoner by birth. What made you join the metropolitan police?

Good day, Mistress Lloyd, and may I say your name reminds me of my own country, Bonnie Scotland. You are right, I am a long way from home, and there is a reason for that state of affairs. I joined the police force at the age of eighteen, but this was the Edinburgh force, and it was there I learned my training, much as my colleagues in Scotland Yard, by pounding the streets, and arresting the thieves and villains that frequent them. Of which there were many, I can assure you.

The reason I came south, to this strange city that seems to have no end to it, was because of a young women. Her name was Mary, and I met her at the house of a family friend. She was seventeen, and as sweet as the red red rose that our great Scottish poet Robert Burns writes about, but her father did not want her to marry a poor constable, and she respected his opinion too much to go against his wishes. So we argued and debated and I pleaded my case, but in the end, she chose a rich young man over me and for pride, I left my father’s house and came down to this smoky city, for I could not bear to see her sweet face or be close to her again.

I hear from my dear sister Jeanie that the match is not a happy one, for he drinks and spends long hours at the tables, but she has made her choice, and so have I, and we will not meet again upon this earth, I think.

Do you miss your family and friends?

I miss my father, who picked me out of the gutter when I was an abandoned bairn, and took me to his house. He brought me up as his own child, schooled me and has always supported me in all I wanted to do. Sadly, he died a year ago, of the fever, which he caught from some cloth that came over from the Americas ~ perhaps you have heard the story? Many importers and merchants died, for the cloth was all infected with the smallpox. He is buried in Greyfriars kirkyard, with a white angel over his tomb. He was a good man, and without him, I would surely have perished in the street, for my own mother abandoned me.

My sister Jeanie and her bairns are my only family now. I am ‘Uncle Lackie’ to the little ones, and send them toys and sweetmeats whenever I can. I hope this year to visit them for the Christmas festivities, if our superintendent will give me leave..

Will you return to Scotland in the future?

When I first arrived in London, my whole intention was to go home as soon as my heart had healed ~ for London was like some heathen wilderness to me: I didn’t understand its ways, nor how the inhabitants spoke, for their accents were strange and I confess, I was very lonely for quite a while. But now I have joined the detective division, and have found a friend in Jack Cully, and have been welcomed into his home by his wife Emily, I think I shall stay here. There is a lassie that I like ~ her name is … but maybe it would not be right to tell you her name, as we are not yet courting, but I intend to broach the matter with her as soon as this new investigation is over.

Reports of your bravery or perhaps foolhardy behaviour in stopping a moving omnibus have been printed in the newspapers. What made you act in that manner?

You are referring to the newspaper report in the Telegraph? I was merely carrying out my duty, which was to stop a woman taking a baby from its mother. You must know that there are many such women in this city who, for a fixed amount, will remove a child and dispose of it. My friend Jack Cully’s brave wife Emily was acting as a decoy to lure this evil woman into the open. Had I not stopped the omnibus, her own child could have been taken. The cut on my head and the broken collarbone are healing nicely and I do not think my actions justified the ‘Hero of the Hour’ headline!

Do you have ambitions for further progress in the Metropolitan police force or any other plans?

I have now moved from Bow Street to Scotland Yard, where I am a working detective. It is an increase in salary, which is most welcome and I hope soon to rise to the rank of Detective Inspector. My current case concerns banking fraud and gambling on a grand scale. You have maybe heard of the runs on several city banks who have defaulted on their loans? There is more to it than meets the eye, and DI Stride and I are looking into who is behind it. I hope we will be able to tell you the tale later in the year.

I am very much looking forward to reading about your current investigations.  Thank you for giving us your time today.

Rack and Ruin can be purchased at Amazon UK

And here you may read a review of Rack and Ruin

 

Advertisements

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig #BookReview

How to stop Time

Who wants to live forever? Well, not Tom Hazard, but he has been alive for over 400 years so far. Appearing to be 41 years old, as a young man in Elizabethan England, he had discovered that he aged extremely slowly. In an era when people believed in witchcraft, this caused suspicion and soon Tom began a lifetime of constantly moving on, frequently changing his name.

Like Dr Who, he found the transitory nature of relationships with others caused sadness and grief, so he is now determined to avoid involvement. Discovering that he was not the only human being with this unusual genetic condition, was partly a relief, but also caused him more complications. After half a lifetime as a sailor, jazz pianist, roofer and wandering lute player he is now a History teacher in 21st century London. Now that would be the perfect History teacher. He is not a mere Time Traveller; he has lived through so many events personally.

After losing his first love so many years before, Tom has firmly avoided falling for anyone again. He does have a mission to find one person from his past, but he also has to carry out onerous tasks for a Machiavellian fellow long-lifer. As the narrator of the story, Tom is an empathetic, believable hero. Just like everyone else he is still trying to work out what life is all about and what really matters to him.

This is a captivating story about a likeable man. The possibilities of his lifetime experiences are boundless, so it must have been difficult choosing the people and places for the storyline. A recommended read.

Matt Haig

Matt Haig is a British author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 25 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning The Radleys and The Humans.

He won the TV Book Club ‘book of the series’, and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children’s novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times.

His books have received praise from Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry, Jeanette Winterson, Joanne Harris, Patrick Ness, Ian Rankin and SJ Watson, among others. The Guardian summed up his writing as ‘funny, clever and quite, quite lovely’ by The Times and the New York Times called him ‘a writer of great talent’.

How to Stop Time on Amazon UK

and Amazon US

http://www.matthaig.com/

An interview with Patsy from the “Wild Water” series by Jan Ruth

This week I am interviewing  a book character from the Wild Water series, whom we love to hate.

Patsy

My conversation is with Jack Redman’s beautiful wife Patsy.  Even after she cheated on him, she remains a significant part of his life as the mother of his children.

Patsy, you seemed to have everything when you were married to Jack; a beautiful house, a hard-working husband, delightful children.  So why were you unfaithful to him?

Oh, rubbish! Everyone only ever sees Jacks side. He was a workaholic when I was married to him, just like his father, and look what happened there I was unhappy, neglected, and bored. I didnt plan to be unfaithful – it just happened. I know everyone says that and I admit I was stupid to fall for Philipes promises and his plans: yes, he had an amazing business plan for combining my beauty salon and his hairdressing chain but, well things change and it progressed in a different direction from there. I suppose it was inevitable it all got in a mess since Jack was never around and Philipe just kind of got me. Above all, he understood fashion and style in a way Jack never did. And anyway, Jacks behaviour was no better. He couldnt wait to get Anna Williams into bed the minute my back was turned.

 

Your daughter Lottie seems such a lovely girl, but are you finding her behaviour rather challenging as she grows older?

Lottie and I have never seen eye to eye, she was always a daddys girl. Still is, always will be. Which is why I made the decision to move away. It wasnt easy, but I did it for her and Jack, in the end. You dont believe me, do you? Its true. Lottie has never needed me in the way that Oliver and James have. Even Chelsey was far more independent, but shes another story altogether, isnt she? Actually, I dont want to talk about Chelsey because my words will be twisted and everything will come out about Banks and that awful, awful time when he well, as I said, I’m not going to be drawn into that other than to say that Jack and Anna had a lot to do with it, surprise surprise! As for Lottie, shes happy enough. Shes going to stage school, thats the last I heard.

 

What do you think about Anna?  In other circumstances could you have been friends?

Haha! Anna? There are no circumstances where she and I would ever be friends. What on earth do we have in common? Shes a mess! She lived in a falling-down farmhouse surrounded by swamps of mud before Jack sunk a load of cash into it. So far as I know she still looks and behaves like a hippy from the seventies; long straggly hair, big boots, dirty skirts. Does she still waft incense sticks around and make her own polish out of beeswax? She used to be boring when we flat-shared in our student days but these days she takes it to a whole new level. Lottie told me the other day they baked liver biscuits for the dogs and dug up mealworms on the beach, so that says it all. Anna Williams has always been, and still is, fat and uninteresting, and she stole my husband.

 

Why do you spend so much time and money on shopping?  Are you depressed?

I did go through a stage of depression after losing everything, but I met another man, and you know how it is, some things just fall into place and I gradually got my mojo back. I love shopping, so why not? Theres nothing more satisfying than filling the boot of my car with lots of shiny bags. I dont think it had anything to do with my depression I see shopping more as a hobby, so in the end I think it helped me. It has to be better than taking pills, surely?

 

Some people call you manipulative, but do you really deserve our sympathy?

Do you know, Ive never asked for sympathy but yes, I do think I deserve a least a little. Ive had a really hard time with my family. My parents, for example, have been no support at all. I know I had to move back in to their place and I was grateful for that but emotionally, you know? Ive never felt good enough for them, nothing I could do to impress them. And its the same now. Another reason I moved away. I cant see where I’ve manipulated anyone I dont know what you mean. Oh, do you mean all those complicated paternity issues with Jack? Look, I did what I thought was for the best, for the children, at the time. I honestly think I deserve some credit for that, it wasn’t easy, holding it all together. I’ve no hard feelings towards Jack. I’m in a better place now. Although, I do miss him sometimes, after all we never forget our first love. I wonder if he thinks about me?

Wild Water Box Set (2)

If you would like to hear Jack and Anna’s side of the story and read how Patsy’s past actions put them in danger, you can find the Wild Water books on Amazon UK and Amazon US

My Review of the three books which make up Wild Water

An Interview with Lottie from “Tipping Point” by Terry Tyler #Project Renova

Today is the first post in a new series, interviewing characters from books I have reviewed on my blog.  I am proud to begin with a conversation with one of my favourite book characters, Lottie from Terry Tyler’s Project Renova Trilogy.

Lottie 5

Lottie Keating was sixteen at the time of the viral outbreak in July 2024. The first UK case of ‘bat fever’ was discovered in Shipden, the Norfolk seaside town where she lived with her mother, Vicky, and Vicky’s boyfriend, Dex. Within a month, normal life in the UK had broken down.

Tipping

Vicky and Lottie’s story begins in Tipping Point, which is on sale at 99p/99c from February 5 to February 11.  Their tale of survival continues in Lindisfarne, and the third part of the trilogy, UK2, which will be published in the spring.

Here is my interview  with Lottie: 

I very much admire the way that you have adapted to the dramatic change in your lifestyle, and I’d love to hear more about how the collapse of society has affected you.

Q         What do you really miss from your old life when you lived in Shipden?

I miss my friends!  A couple of them got the vaccine, so I hope they’re alive and well somewhere.  I miss Granny and Grandad, and my dad.  I miss ice cream, badly, especially salted caramel Häagen Dazs.  But when I think back to my old life it’s like I’m looking at someone else; it doesn’t seem like me.  I don’t miss the internet.  When it first went off I didn’t know what to do with myself (I kept looking at my phone and thinking, why can’t it just work?), but I soon forgot all about it; I had too much real life to live.  I do miss films, though.  As for social media sites—well, now I talk to people face to face, instead!

Q         What are your thoughts and feelings about Dex and Heath?

I used to think Dex was okay when he lived with me and Mum, before the virus.  He was a bit of a bighead (everything was all about him), but I could see why Mum liked him.  Looking back, I think he was probably cheating on her now and again; you don’t think about stuff like that when you’re a kid (he moved in with us when I was only ten or eleven), but when you’re older you can see what was really going on.  Anyway, he turned out to be a total retard, so who cares?

Heath – awesome.  But I won’t say anything else right now…

Q         Have you changed much since you left Norfolk?

Hope so!  I’m much fitter and stronger, and I can do all sorts of clever things like making fires and baking bread.  I can handle a gun, and I know some seriously awesome moves to throw if I get jumped.  Mac, who is now my boyfriend, taught me how to defend myself.  I think the new world has made me grow up and see the bigger picture.  Especially now I spend my time doing proper stuff instead of sitting on my bed Skyping with my mates and posting dumb selfies.

Q   If anyone had told you a year ago what was going to happen, what would you have thought?

I’d probably have thought, bring it on!  And been really excited and hoped there were going to be zombies; I’d have wanted to be like Rosita in The Walking Dead.  But I wouldn’t have had a clue what it was really like.  You don’t, but you just adapt.

Q         What are your hopes and fears for the future?

I live pretty much day to day.  The main fear is not having enough to eat and getting seriously ill.  Some of our community get stressy about the danger from outsiders, but I think we’re clever and strong enough to deal with anything that comes our way, and, to be honest, conflict gives me a bit of a thrill.  In some ways it’s better now because people don’t worry about bullshit like whether or not they’re ‘fulfilled’, ’cause they’re too busy staying alive.  Hopes?  That we will always live with lots of cool people who want to work together, and that all dickheads (no names mentioned here!) will die painful deaths.

To find Tipping Point on Amazon  or Lindisfarne

With thanks to Terry Tyler for introducing me to Lottie.

If you are an author whose book I have reviewed, perhaps you would like me to interview one of your characters.  If so, please contact me.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Kate A

A God in ruins is a slow boiler. It tells the story of Teddy, a beloved son and brother whose comfortable life changed so dramatically when the second world war began. Moving back and forth through his life, we see him as a gentle, loving grandfather, a much-respected pilot and a dutiful husband. But it is a life full of quandaries; should he marry his childhood sweetheart, how can he communicate with his wayward daughter and how can he defend bombing Germany?

Looking through Teddy’s eyes the juxtaposition of different eras flows logically. I was more at ease with this book than with the artifice of “Life After Life.” Once immersed in the story I could read it forever, but there is a finale and that is both a surprise and yet absolutely right.

There are so many facets to this book such as the delightful stories of the mischievous child, Augustus, written by Teddy’s aunt with him as a model, the awful behaviour and total lack of empathy of Teddy’s daughter, Viola, and the very British, stubborn manner in which Teddy’s wife, Nancy, deals with illness.
I tend to ignore essential words at the beginning of a novel, so it is important to return to the quotes Kate Atkinson begins with, especially the source of her title:

“A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we wake from dreams.“ – Ralph Waldo Emerson – Nature

I could write so much more about Kate Atkinson’s descriptive prose, her pithy comments, her understanding of humanity and the savage consequences of war, but it would be much better for you to read her book.

#TuesdayBookBlog #Amreading and looking forward

 

God in Ruins

I am slowly reading A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson.  Although a long time fan of her books, I struggled with the structure of Life After Life so A God in Ruins sat on my bookcase for a year.  But I am really enjoying following the life of Teddy back and forth during the twentieth century.

Now some news.

Interview with

Some of the most interesting characters from my favourite books have agreed to talk to me.  I am really looking forward to learning more about them.

Woman at the Front: Memoirs of an ATS Girl by Sylvia Wild #TuesdayBookBlog

 

ATS

I chose this autobiography because Sylvia’s experiences during the second world war mirrored those of my mother, but the story of those years in France, Belgium and Germany is fascinating for anyone interested in 20th century history.

 
Sylvia joined the ATS, as the women’s section of the British Army was called, in 1943. She decided to volunteer for overseas service and as a shorthand typist was sent over to France as one of the few women soon after D-day. Her time billeted with French families was a revelation to her, but despite their initial resistance, she made friends. In Brussels she was reunited with friends and found more luxury and entertainment. Returning to London on her very first flight was alarming, and she was shocked to discover that her family were still suffering from the effects of the wartime bombardment.

 
The women of the ATS were given little credit, being dismissed by Montgomery as nuisances but their role was essential in the establishment of the British Army Over the Rhine bringing peace to Europe. Anyone who enjoys reading the minutiae of social history of a time almost still in living memory would enjoy this book.

 

The paperback version, including illustrations is available at Amazon UK