The importance of viewpoints

There are masses of viewpoints that authors can use especially if they have a lot of characters. This can be vital in making a story engaging and realistic.

If you are looking at a crime novel, viewpoints are important. You can look at the criminals view which can tell you why they are doing what they are doing, the police view to show how they are trying to solve the problem as well as the victims view. Those are just a few and you can look at many different people in the book to shed a new light on the events. A good example of looking at different viewpoints is All The Hidden Truths by Claire Askew. I found this book that shared a different point of view with a lot of the book being focused on the parents of both the victim and the criminal. To show how crime effects those that surround those individuals involved.

It is also important to ensure the correct viewpoint is chosen so that it suits the story. Whether the book is written in first, second or third person it need to be write for the story. Most books are written in third person, past tense but that doesn’t mean your book should be!

You also need to make sure that you stick to these viewpoints. To ensure you are staying in the characters head and the book stays in first, second or third person unless for a specific reason. Continuity is also incredibly important and key for viewpoints especially if you have multiple in one book. You need to ensure that if one character knows something but another doesn’t you need to ensure that these are stuck to.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment your opinion on viewpoints)

Author Q&A: Claire Askew

Author Photo : Lewis Khan

Claire Askew has kindly answered some of my question about being an author and her novel ‘All the Hidden Truths’ 
I hope you all enjoy and I greatly appreciate the time Claire took to answer these questions.

Claire Askew is the author of the poetry collection This changes things(Bloodaxe, 2016), which was shortlisted for an Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and the Saltire First Book Award, among others.  She is also a novelist, and her debut novel All The Hidden Truths won the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress.  The novel was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2018, and was a Times Crime Book of the Month.  Claire’s second novel, What You Pay For, will be published in August 2019.  Claire currently works as Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh.

1. What made you want to become a poet/author?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was a little girl.  My dad was a big part of that: he’s worked in Communications for most of his career, and as a child I didn’t really know what that was, but I knew that he wrote as part of his job.  “I think knowing that meant I never internalised the message “writing isn’t a real job,” and thus managed to side-step a lot of the self doubt that new writers experience.”   I was always writing: limericks, little stories, journal entries, whatever. I took a small break around the age of about seven, when I got into reading animal stories and decided I wanted to be a vet.  Then I learned that vets have to put animals to sleep, and felt rather tricked!
2. Why did you decide to move from poetry to a novel?
Simply because the idea for All The Hidden Truths wouldn’t leave me alone.  I’ve always been strangely fascinated by mass shootings, ever since the Dunblane Massacre, which happened when I was ten and had a profound effect on schools and communities across Scotland, including mine.  More recently, as school shootings have become depressingly common in our news cycle, I’ve heard people say “this is an American problem,” or “thank goodness it doesn’t happen here.”  But to the people of Scotland, it’s important to remember that it has happened here.  I kept thinking: someone needs to write a book about this topic from a Scottish perspective.  What I wanted was for someone to write that book so that I could read it.  I didn’t think I had the attention span for anything longer than a poem.  But then no one did write it, and the idea kept bothering at me every time there was another news item about a school shooting.  In the end I started writing just to try and shut my brain up.
3. Why did you choose to write your novel in the crime/thriller genre?
I didn’t realise I was writing a crime novel until quite late on in the process.  To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to keep going (that attention span thing), or get finished, or redraft, or any of that.  I wrote in secret for quite a long time.  Then All The Hidden Truths won the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress, and a lot of people heard about it, all of a sudden.  It was a relief: I was able to say to them, so, I’m writing this thing and I’ve only ever been a poet, and I don’t know what I’m doing.  I began to get a handle on what it was I was working on — a literary/crime crossover novel — only when those early readers started to come on board.  I’m eternally grateful to those people for helping me untangle the knot that my manuscript was back in 2016!
4. Were you particularly influenced by any other authors or novels?
Louise Welsh really inspires me: she’s written in so many genres, and every single one subverts the tropes and expectations of that genre beautifully.  The Cutting Room is a masterful book.  Then there’s Jennifer Egan, whose books — especially A Visit from the Goon Squad — make my jaw drop.  Egan’s prose is absolutely phenomenal and she inspires me to write the best sentences I possibly can.  Lastly, Margaret Atwood has been a teacher of mine for a long time.  Her book Negotiating With The Dead: A Writer On Writing is the best book on writing that exists, in my opinion.  I must have read it dozens of times.
5. What sort of process and research did you have to complete when writing ‘All the Hidden Truths’?
I did a lot of reading, and am deeply indebted to the following books and their authors.  A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold — the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine gunmen — gave me insight into the most unimaginable and horrendous experiences, and allowed me to write Moira.  Another Day In The Death of America, by Gary Younge, is one of the few non-fiction books in existence that has attemped to get to the bottom of the whys of youth gun culture, and although it’s USA-focussed, it contains messages for all of us, I think.  And for the police procedural research, I’m endlessly grateful that Michael O’Byrne has written The Crime Writer’s Guide to Police Practice and Procedure.  I was also very, very lucky to be able to work with a former policewoman to ensure I didn’t mess anything up when it came to writing DI Birch.
6. Why did you choose to tell this story through three different viewpoints?
Initially, I had intended to tell it through lots more, and indeed the book’s first draft had about nine POV characters.  I wanted the book’s structure to reflect the mess and cacophony of the immediate aftermath of an event like a mass shooting, but I discovered quite quickly that the content couldn’t be a slave to the form.  It was too emotive, and I had to pursue that emotional core rather than trying to write something experimental and weird.  That meant I had to write about the two mothers, Ishbel and Moira: arguably the two people most deeply and painfully affected by the tragedy the book describes.  But one of the central questions of the book is’what the hell can we do about something like this?’, and I couldn’t answer that question without showing the ways in which our institutions respond to tragedy, or at least try to.  DI Birch, who’s tasked with ‘solving’ this unsolvable case, represents the ways in which the institutions of law and justice so often feel useless.  Birch herself feels useless, restricted by procedure and red tape.  For me, these three women provided the most interesting lenses through which to view the themes of this novel.
7. The topic for this book is very relevant and topical at the moment, why did you choose to write about this difficult event and did it make it more difficult that it is something that people experience?
It was difficult to research, difficult to write, and it has been difficult to talk about at times, too.  However, I think it’s important that we have hard conversations around the topic of mass shootings involving young people.  I think the ‘problem’ of youth violence is too often spoken about lazily: the conversations lean towards generalisation and sometimes-deliberate misunderstanding.  Young people the world over turn to violence for reasons that are complex, structural and which intersect with many other pressing issues: poverty, inequality of opportunity, gender, race, education, and many more.  I strongly believe that we don’t talk enough about the influence of toxic masculinity on young men, for example.  My hope has always been that this book will challenge people to think about the reasons behind youth violence — especially where it has a gendered element — with increased nuance.
8. Do you plan on writing any more novels?
I’ve already written the follow-up to All The Hidden Truths, in which DI Birch takes on a brand new case.  The book is called What You Pay For, and it’ll be published in August 2019 by Hodder and Stoughton.  Without spoilering either book, readers of All The Hidden Truths will know that thirteen years ago, DI Birch’s little brother Charlie went missing without a trace.  In What You Pay For he reappears, but he’s in big, big trouble.
9. Do you have a favourite book, poem or author?
Ah, the impossible question!  I’ve named a few of my favourite novelists already, but I must add Agatha Christie to that list, too!  Poetry was my first love, and if I sat and listed all my favourite poets I’d be here forever.  However, I was knocked sideways by the news that Mary Oliver recently passed away.  She’s been another of my life’s teachers and she’s a poet I believe everyone ought to seek out and read.  
10. Do you have any advice for an aspiring poet or writer?
Lots!  But the main thing is: believe in what you’re writing, believe that you’re the best person to write it, and believe that it deserves to be read.  Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is hard to do.  But I meet so many writers who end up totally stuck in the muck of self doubt, and it ends up killing their writing projects.  Until you get yourself some readers, or an agent, or an editor, you’re going to be the only person who’ll champion your work.  You’ll be the only person there to say ‘hey, I made this thing and you ought to read it.’  Like I say, it’s hard.  But the good thing about this sort of belief is it self-replicates, so if you can create just a little spark of it, or even fake it to begin with, it will grow if you nurture it.  I’m not telling you to believe that your work is perfect and you’re a genius: rather than you believe it deserves to find readers, and you’re willing to do whatever work is needed to get it out into the world.  You can do it, but you won’t be able to if you don’t believe that.

Many Thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment!)

BOOK HAUL

For my Christmas I was lucky enough to be gifted a book gift card and I went and spent it on a few new books!

Both The Power by Naomi Alderman and The Melody by Jim Crace were on my most recent to read list and due to this I had to purchase them!

The Power is a science fiction novel that was written by Naomi Alderman and released in 2016. It won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017. It is a book that centres around gender and how when woman start to have powers such as producing electricity from their fingers they become the dominant gender. This is Naomi Aldermans fourth novel

The Melody by Jim Crace is psychological fiction that was released in 2018. It is centred around Alfred Busi who is famed in his town for his music. He is mourning the loss of his wife and one night he is attacked by a creature he disturbs. He believes it was an ‘innocent and wild’ child and these thoughts spark flames of an old rumour – of an ancient race of people living in the bosk surrounding the town.

Song of the Dead was written by Douglas Lindsay and was published in 2016. It is the first in the DI Westphall novel and it follows him as he investigates the case of John Baden. A dead man who walks into a police station who tells a story of kidnapping and organ harvesting. I am excited to read this as I love a police series!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS Please comment if you have ever read these books !)

Seasonal Reading

When it comes to reading different genres often suit different seasons and some people will only read at certain times of the year.

For me, I read all year round however in summer I can often find myself reading that tiny but more. Something about sitting outside in the sun with your book is so very appealing. I read more when I go on a relaxing holiday for example, sitting by the pool all day reading. I know people who only read in summer or on holiday as well and I think this is very common. Reading is relaxing and you can read without worrying about it overheating or having glare unlike devices such as phone’s or tablet. I also think audiobooks are more popular in the hotter months. If you are sitting sunbathing you can listen to a story and go into your own little world.

In summer more romantic books are read or comedic books as they tend to be more light hearted and perfect for relaxing. Call me by your name is an ideal summer read! This is not always the case as I don’t tend to read romantic books but it is a generalisation.

In winter I find reading quite cosy. Sitting in a warm room whilst it’s cold or rainy outside reading a new book is satisfying. I would think that this is when more crime novels and horrors are read as you are sitting inside whilst it is dark outside. Often people receive books for Christmas as well and I’d you are anything like me you can wait to read them. More time in spent indoors during the colder months so people can use this opportunity to catch up with their reading and finally read that book they have been meaning to for months.

Overall, it doesn’t matter when you read or what you read at certain time of the year but there is often a pattern with reading and the seasons.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment your opinion on reading throughout the seasons or if you have any different habits)

‘ALL THE HIDDEN TRUTHS

All the Hidden Truths’ by Claire Askew is a novel which I recently won in a competition and I am really excited to read. It is a psychological and suspense thriller novel which was released in August 2018. A man named Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women and then himself. It follows his mother, the first victim and DI Helen Birch as they all ask the same question. As they try to find out what happens and the media are looking for the truth, the truth seems to be further and further away.

I am excited to read this as it seems like something I would typically enjoy reading. It is a crime novel that also features some police procedural and investigations. From the reviews I have read it is a really intense and shocking book however realistic as it a situation which is something that seems to be happening more and more. It also shows how this impacts people from three different perspectives; the mother of the criminal, a victim and a Detective. It is a very emotional and shocking subject which makes the book gripping from page one.

I am very excited to start reading this book and seeing how this author writes!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment if you have ever read this book and what you thought of it)

‘No Time For Goodbye’ Linwood Barclay

‘No Time For Goodbye’ is a crime thriller novel by author Linwood Barclay that was published in 2007. The book centers around a woman named Cynthia and the disappearance of her family. She wakes up one day and her family is gone, no bodies, no crime scene, no evidence. What really happened to her family? It follows her journey trying to find out what happened to her family 25 years ago and the new clues that are appearing.

I really enjoyed this book as it wasn’t entirely based from a police procedural view and looked more and the view of Cynthia and her husbands. How they are coping with the new information and trying to figure out what happened to Cynthia’s family.

I found both Cynthia and her husband likable characters which made me more invested in finding out how it all ended. We see a flashback to the night Cynthia family went missing at the beginning of the novel which helped to show who she is today and how she has been shaped by these traumatic events. The guilt and sadness that came alongside the experience becomes apparent in her life with her husband and daughter now and how she has become more paranoid than ever. Her husband is also likable as we see how the events effect him and their daughter. We see him becoming more annoyed and suspicious which I think adds realism because if he was always positive and supportive would that be truthful to what would actually happen in that scenario.

I found that the book started off at an average pace but soon speeds up as more pieces of the jigsaw fits together and her husband becomes more and more involved in finding out the truth.

I think the ending of the book matches to the build up and is an exciting ending. There are more twists and turns up until the last page so it keeps you on the edge of your seat. You want to know what happened all those years ago and you want it to be a happy ending (as much as possible) for Cynthia and her family.

Overall, I would highly recommend this thriller as it keeps ypou on the edge of your seat throughout with a realistic story. I am excited to read the sequel ! ‘No Safe House’

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment your opinion on this book or any others by Linwood Barclay)

Perfect Silence Mini Review

Perfect Silence by Helen Fields is the forth installment of her DI Callanach series. Each book in this series currently has an over 4 star rating on good read and is one of my favourite series.

perfect silence

I have previously written about the previous 3 books as well as an Author Q&A with Helen Fields that you can check out before or after reading this.

I thought that this book was really good and I enjoyed reading it. It delved further into the lives of DI Callanach and DCI Ava Turner. I think that there friendship in this book carrying on from the previous booked created a ‘will they, won’t they’ sort of anticipation throughout which engaged me as a reader.

As with the previous book it is based upon a crime that has taken place and the ivestigation into these crimes. This is perfect for those interested in crime and police procedure books but in this novel there is extra depth and almost a second plot with the characters.

I find both of the main characters likable and having both been through tough times you see them develop and cope with these. In this book I believe that Ava Turner was a bit more unlikable due to the superiority in the book however the previous books really help to add to her character. In this novel she is a strong and determined Detective Chief Inspector who isn’t scared to stand her ground to ensure that the victims of these crimes are treated with the respect they deserve and find justice. I find this quite inspirational as a female also. DI Callanach is also still very likable and I think they way he has been written and interacts with the other characters really aids this. He has been through a trauma in his life and that wasn’t just forgotten about in this book so we were able to see how he has coped and progressed in his life after this. These two characters themselves make the books worth reading.

There were two main investigations in this book; one where the bodies of young females are being found alongside dolls made out of the victims skin and one where the letter ‘Z’ is being carved onto the drug users of the cities faces. Both these crimes are gruesome and gory which isn’t what everyone would want to read but I found that there was a good balance between the crimes themselves and the investigation. This made it a good read as we get to see what these police officers are doing to help these poor victims.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and upon reading other reviews people were saying that this installment was not as good as the other 3. I have to say I agree with this on a certain level as I feel that the characters developed less throughout the novel however I would let this stop you from reading this book. It is a great installment within a series and although you don’t necessarily need to read the previous books before you read this, I would highly recommend that you do as it gives background to why the characters are like how they are.

There is also a fifth installment of this series due to be released in April which I am so excited to read!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment if you have ever read this series or would like to)