Monday, 27 February 2017

The Abattoir Of Dreams By Mark Tilbury - Blog Tour Review

Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum I am part of the blog tour for The Abattoir Of Dreams by Mark Tilbury, I have read this absolutely addictive book and I'm now bringing you my review. The Abattoir Of Dreams is being released tomorrow, the 28th of February 2017.

The Abattoir Of Dreams 

The past is never far away. 

Michael Tate has not had an easy life. With his father in prison, and his mother dead, Michael was sent to Woodside Children’s Home. 

Now an adult, Michael wakes up from a coma in hospital suffering from amnesia and paralysis. Confused and terrified, he is charged with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Becky. He also learns he attempted to end his own life.

Detective Inspector John Carver is determined that Michael is sent to prison.

With no way of defending himself, Michael is left in his hospital bed awaiting transfer to remand.

But then strange things begin to happen and his childhood comes back to haunt him. 

Can Michael ever escape the past?

Will he ever discover the truth about Becky’s murder?

And why is DI Carver so eager to make him suffer? 

The Abattoir of Dreams is a bitter sweet story of murder, innocence and abuse.

My Review

Excuse my language but this book grabs you by the balls from page one and doesn't let go! I don't think that I've ever felt as much rage when reading a book or for so many different reasons throughout a whole book. 

The main character is Michael who we follow on a journey of discovery after her wakes up from a coma due to an attempted suicide. He is trying to regain his memory while recovering from his injuries as well as dealing with trying to figure out if he did murder his girlfriend and what on earth is going on with the visions he is having. With the visions Michael has and the way they come about, I thought that The Abattoir Of Dreams was going to be more horror than crime, but it is not that at all, Mark Tilbury is just an amazing author who is able to write about real life horror in a extremely clever way. 

Right from page 1 we meet D.I. John Carver who I think has officially won my title of most vile, despicable, criminal characters that I have ever come across. I hated him right from the get go and the hate turned into loathing and revulsion in a pretty quick time. Every time he was around, my heart quickened and I became extremely stressed wondering what he would do next. His character is written so perfectly I had a physical reaction to his presence! 

The story covers a lot of extremely disturbing and violent topics, but definitely ones that are important to talk about. It does make you feel uncomfortable at times and it will be too much for some, but Mark has dealt with the topics well. 

Without giving away too much, I think my two favourite characters are Jimmy and Oxo (Oxo is a dog, they're always going to be great). 

Once I started reading I could not put this book down. Even through all the rage and through all the difficult to read scenes (have you ever tried to read a book without looking, like you would at a scary or intense part of a movie, it makes life very difficult!) I wanted to know what really happened and what would come from finding out the truth. 

This is my first book by Mark Tilbury but I am officially hooked! 

I gave this book 5 stars. 

To pick up you're own copy of The Abattoir Of Dreams, click here

About The Author

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised. 

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused. 

He's always had a keen interest in writing, and is currently working on his third novel, The Abattoir of Dreams. 

When he's not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar, and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria. 

Mark sends out e-mail newsletters once a month to keep readers updated with news and offering them chances to win exclusive prizes. All subscribers are being given a free kindle copy of The Revelation Room. You can sign up here:

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Cursed by Thomas Enger - Blog Tour Review

As always I am happy to be part of the Orenda Books blog tour for Cursed by Thomas Enger. I am bringing my review of this wonderful book. 


When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

My Review

I read this book in one sitting, I could not put it down! The dual stories suck you right in and I didn't want to surface till I knew what had happened. 

Cursed in the fourth Henning Juul novel, but this is the first one I have read and it can very easily be read as a stand alone. There are mentions to previous happenings, but they are very clear so you aren't left wondering what happened or if you have missed something. 

Henning Juul and Nora Klemetson are absolutely wonderful characters, They are both so strong and are dealing with such a horrendous loss each in their own way, but they still carry on, they help people and keep going in their work. Their relationship was also heartbreaking to read and I couldn't help but root for them throughout no matter what had happened and no matter that Nora was in the process of moving on. 

The writing and story is gritty and hard hitting. The story not only follows a mystery, but it delves into the seedy underground world of enforcers and fight clubs. Everything is covered really well and how things work is extremely well thought out. I don't want to say too much about the plot as it has been so expertly woven that I would hate to spoil anything. There were things that shocked me and when I thought I had things figured, everything changed. 

I thoroughly loved this book and I will definitely be going out to pick up the other Henning Juul books so that I can enjoy more of this brilliant writing and characters. I am also excited about more books following in this series. 

About The Author

Thomas Enger was born in Oslo in 1973, but grew up in Jessheim. He has an education in journalism, and has also studied sports and history. He worked at the Norwegian online newspaper Nettavisen for nine years.

He has composed music and written books since the age of 18. He is also working on a musical.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne - Blog Tour Review

I am extremely happy today to bring my review of Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne as part of the blog tour. 

Walking Wounded

Born at the end of the First World War, a young girl struggles to find her own identity in her big family and is pushed into a stormy marriage through a terrible misunderstanding from which her pride refuses to let her back down. As her own personal world begins to crumble, the foundation of the world around her is shaken as Germany once again declares war and her brothers and young husband sign up with the first wave of volunteers. 
Walking Wounded tells the story of those left behind in a Blitz-ravaged London, and of the web of loyalty, guilt and duty that shapes the decisions of the women awaiting the return of their men-folk as the war draws to a close. 
Spanning the period from the Armistice of the First World War to the exodus of the Ten Pound Poms to Australia in the 1950s, Walking Wounded is a family saga whose internal violence is mirrored by the world stage upon which it is set. 

My Review

I honestly can't remember the last time a book touched me quite as much as Walking Wounded. This book is beautiful, heartbreaking and real. 

Walking Wounded is beautifully written, the story is woven in such a way that keeps you fully immersed in the characters lives and you don't want to put the book down and leave them. You need to know what happened next. 

The characters are all extremely realistic and I fell in love with each and everyone of them....well except one of course, one I was horrified by and I found myself wishing that they would leave or would be prevented some way from returning. I think my absolute favourite character was Stanley, he was so strong and gentle and kind, he really brought out the best in poeple. The family setting was so warm and you could feel the love between them all and when one suffered they all suffered and when one was happy, they were all happy, It was a really good representation of what family life was like at the time, with several generations and family members all living together or extremely close by and doing everything together. 

Walking Wounded also shows clearly what life was life at home during the wars. It's not something you ever really think of, I think one of the only other books I've read that have covered anything even close is Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian. It was so hard seeing how much people struggled with rationing and sleeping in the bunkers while bombs were dropped above their heads. They also had to deal with "day to day" heartbreak as well as the horror of war. It also showed the strength of people, how they picked up the slack of jobs that needed doing, worked hard and in secret to support the troops and came together to hold each other up. 

I sobbed, I laughed, I loved and I hated throughout this book and I cannot wait for more from Anna Franklin Osborne.

About The Author

Back in December I was lucky enough to have Anna as a guest on my Getting To Know... feature so for more information, please go check that out here

I have always worked in health care, and more recently in education, and like so many other parents, hit a tiny crisis a few years ago when I felt that my purpose in life had narrowed to not an awful lot more than dashing between my two jobs and being a mummy taxi.

I managed to find time to begin singing with a choir, and that helped me feel that I might have a more creative side to myself. One evening, my husband was out and, quite suddenly, I decided to Start Writing. I immediately hit the first obstacles of terrible handwriting and a broken laptop, so my writing career began that night in bed, typing into the note section of my smart phone, with no clear idea of what I wanted to say but resulting in a severe case of RSI and several short stories over the next few nights.

My husband was delighted that I had suddenly found this passion and kept encouraging me to write a novel, which I really felt I did NOT have in me. Later that summer, however, we were walking along a D-Day beach for no other grander reason than our ferry home from France being late, and I began telling our kids about my three great-uncles who were part of that day, and my grandmother who sewed parachutes for the paratroopers jumping over Normandy. Neil looked at me and smiled and said, ‘you do actually have a story there, you know….’

Walking Wounded was written over a period of a year, on a tiny tablet which I bought specifically because it fitted into my handbag – as I said, ‘if it’s not with me at all times, this just won’t happen.’ I wrote every day in 10 minute bursts while I sat in the school car-park waiting for my daughter to emerge from school, I wrote parked outside ballet lessons and maths lessons, I wrote early in the mornings while everyone was asleep.

Walking Wounded is a war story and family saga, focusing on those left behind whilst their men folk went to war, how they survived and how their relationships evolved through periods of violence, loss and reunion. The main story is about May, a young woman struggling to find her own identity as the youngest in a large family, forced into a stormy marriage through a mistake she is too proud to admit, and explores the web of loyalty, guilt and duty that shaped the decisions of the women awaiting the return of their men-folk as WW2 draws to a close. Spanning the period from the Armistice of the Great War to the exodus of the Ten Pound Poms to Australia in the 1950s, its internal violence is mirrored by the world stage upon which it is set.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Promise by Casey Kelleher - Blog Tour Review

Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum I am extremely excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Promise by Casey Kelleher. I had Casey on my blog earlier this week answering my questions as part of Getting To Know... and now I am sharing my review of her amazing new book, The Promise. 

The Promise

Family ties can be deadly...


Two sisters. One murder. And an unbreakable bond.

Growing up in squalor with their drug-addicted prostitute mother, sisters Georgie and Marnie Parker have had to endure the very darkest side of life. 

When their mother is sentenced for brutally murdering a client, Georgie and Marnie’s already precarious lives are blown apart and they now share a terrible secret. Sent to a children’s home, the sisters hope this might finally be their safe haven after years of neglect. But they soon discover they’re in real danger.

Desperate to find a place of safety, Georgie and Marnie run for their lives, but end up in the hands of Delray Anderton. A violent London gangster and notorious pimp, Delray has big plans for beautiful teenager Georgie, seeing her as a chance to make some serious money.

Fiercely protective of each other, Georgie and Marnie must escape the clutches of a man who will do anything to keep the sisters for himself. And, they must keep the promise they made to each other – no one can ever know the truth. 

A gritty, shocking and gripping thriller that will engross fans of Kimberly Chambers, Martina Cole and Jessie Keane.

My Review

I'll start off by saying that I absolutely loved this book. I read The Promise in two sittings and I would have done it in one if I didn't have to be sensible and get some sleep in the middle. I did not want to put it down and I thought about it when I wasn't reading it, I was that drawn into the story. 

The characters in The Promise are extremely complex and you learn more about each of them the more you read. I found none of the characters are particularly likeable except Marnie and Davey, but you become invested in them enough to want to know what happens next to them and I don't really think that they are meant to be likeable. 

Josie, the mum of Georgie and Marnie is just pretty much a waste of space as a mum and a human being, but she does try her hardest when she's sober. As a mum myself I spent most of the book wanting to shake her and tell her to get a grip. How she produced someone as joyful as Marnie and as strong as Georgie I'll never know. Marnie is honestly a little ray of sunshine throughout the book. 

Delray is the absolute epitome of pimp scumbag, but you can see how he charms women into thinking he's a nice guy before he changes into the horror he actually is. He is so real, I could just picture him perfectly. 

The story is fast paced and covers some important topics. It depicts how awful life can be as a prostitute and it shows the horrendous affect sexual abuse can have on a child without going into any unnecessary detail, It also touches on child sex trafficking which right now is in the forefront of the news and it is definitely something that needs to be talked about more. 

There are a few moments in the book which completely took me off guard and one in particular that blew my mind, Though you're always waiting for a "reveal" in a crime novel, this one still came completely from left field for me.

Though The Promise is full of darkness and the horror of real life for some people, it was compulsive reading and I thought the writing was excellent. I am looking forward to more from Casey Kelleher in the future and if you haven't read one of her books yet, go make the time to do so. 

I gave The Promise 5 stars. 

About The Author

I was extremely lucky to have Casey take part in my Getting To Know... feature, so for even more information, please go take a look here

Born in Cuckfield, West Sussex, Casey Kelleher grew up as an avid reader and a huge fan of author Martina Cole. 

Whilst working as a beauty therapist and bringing up her three children together with her husband, Casey penned her debut novel Rotten to the Core. Its success meant that she could give up her day job and concentrate on writing full time. 

She has since published Rise and Fall, Heartless, Bad Blood, The Taken and her latest release, The Promise. 

To Connect With Casey Kelleher

Twitter: @caseykelleher

Links To Buy Your Own Copy Of The Promise


Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Blog Tour

Friday, 17 February 2017

Getting To Know...Nicola Slade

On Getting To Know... today I am welcoming author of the Harriet Quigley Mysteries and Charlotte Richmond Investigates series, Nicola Slade.

You originally wrote a romantic comedy when changing from children's book to adult books, but you now write two mystery series. What was it that drew you to this genre and prompted you to make the change?

My mother and grandmother were voracious readers so I was always surrounded by books.  I was brought up on mostly Victorian novels and the classic mysteries of the Golden Age: Margery Allingham, Patricia Wentworth, Dorothy L Sayers and to a lesser degree Agatha Christie. It’s the puzzle element that appeals to me in those classic mysteries – who did it, why and how – and working through the various suspects to find the murderer. I love that aspect as a reader and as a writer.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far?

My Victorian sleuth, Charlotte Richmond, is my favourite. I’m very fond of Harriet Quigley, my contemporary retired headmistress sleuth but she’s slightly scary after her years as a top headmistress and is comfortable in her own skin. Charlotte is much more vulnerable and has to contend with the problems of being a young widow in the 1850s as well as with the difficulties that arise in a murder case. She has a slightly shady background and comes from Australia, which makes her a curiosity in mid-Victorian England. I’m passionate about history and it’s certainly much easier to set a mystery before the days of forensic science, fingerprints and the internet!

Do you have a set routine or schedule that you like to follow when you're writing?

Not really, it’s more a case of ‘when the spirit moves me’. I do tend to write mid-morning to mid-afternoon, rather than the classic thing of dashing off a thousand words by breakfast time! Sometimes I’ll lose myself in the story though, and emerge dazed after a long writing session.

When you're not writing, what would we find you doing?

Chatting and meeting friends is what my family would say! And poking in charity shops and second hand bookshops because a friend and I were antiques dealers in a small way, some years ago, and the urge to check out the date stamp or maker’s mark never leaves you. I love going to castles and stately homes and I read a lot, as well as painting.

You are also an artist and do some wonderful paintings (I love your hares, in particular Hare Flight). Are you a natural artist or is something that you worked on to become?

Thank you! I have a ‘thing’ about painting hares! I did Art at O Level and could always draw, but it wasn’t till my children were older that I started going to art classes. When the teacher retired we set up our own art workshop and hold an exhibition every year. I’m strictly amateur but it’s fun to do and our group is now quite well-known locally. My latest mystery ‘The Art of Murder’ is about an art group, but not – I hasten to add – about the one I belong to!

Have you always known that you wanted to be an author?

I think I was about six when I understood that books came out of people’s heads and decided that’s what I wanted to do. I had some children’s short stories published in my early twenties, then put my creative energies into raising a family, after which I wrote stories for women’s magazines until my first novel, Scuba Dancing, was published.

Harriet Quigley is an older main character than in a lot of books, which is good to see. What was the reason behind choosing to write an older character?

It all stems from my first publisher, Transita Ltd, who published Scuba Dancing. They featured older heroines – from forty-five and upwards and Harriet arose from that idea. The classic lady sleuth tends to be ‘of a certain age’, Miss Marple and Miss Silver, for example, and if you think about it, an older woman is likely to have more time to observe and investigate than if she’s holding down a full-time job. My Victorian heroine, Charlotte, has time on her hands because she’s a lady, but she does have other restrictions – it’s not easy to run away if you’re wearing a crinoline!

You enjoy travelling and have lived in some lovely places, do you have a favourite place that you have visited?

We had a few days in Fiji that were magical – coral islands, palm trees and so on, I’d love to go back one day. Our son and his family live in Sydney and we did a trip to Tasmania which was fabulous; besides seeing the family, Australia has the added bonus of letting me do research for my Australian heroine!

Do you have a favourite author?

I love the novels of Charlotte Yonge, a Victorian best-seller, and I’m particularly fond of her novel ‘The Pillars of the House’. I also love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels and recently, I’ve discovered Jodi Taylor’s The Chronicles of St Mary’s books and can’t wait to read the next.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?

My previous publisher ceased trading a year ago so I’ve been wondering which direction I should take. I’m currently revising a contemporary novel which has historical echoes, a kind of time-slip novel, and I’m about to send it to my agent. Besides that, I’m two-thirds of the way into a cosy mystery set in 1918 which is great fun to write, though whether a publisher would like it remains to be seen. There’s always self-publishing which is something I might explore in the future.

Thank you so much to Nicola for taking the time to answer all my questions, it's been wonderful having her on my blog today.

To Connect With Nicola Slade

Twitter - @nicolasladeuk

The Art Of Murder

A weekend art course at an upmarket B&B near Winchester’s historic cathedral is bound to be relaxing and fun… 

But not when man-crazy Linzi Bray, Chairman of the local art group, is in charge and the house is full of people who loathe her. 

Accidents start to happen – in a ruined castle, in a fast-flowing river, in a peaceful garden. 

There’s a stalker – or is there? 

And there are far too many dead insects, as well as a vandalised Porsche and a pond full of blood. 

It’s not the first time former headmistress, Harriet Quigley, and her cousin, the Reverend Sam Hathaway, have been embroiled in a mystery, but this time they’re baffled at the “spiteful game” that seems to be being played. 

And then somebody else dies and the games all stop. 

Act of Murder is perfect for avid crime mystery fans – with festering secrets, potential motives and the opportunity for sweet – or spiteful – revenge. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Getting To Know... Casey Kelleher

I'm excited today to welcome Casey Kelleher to Getting To Know... Casey is the author of Crime Fiction and her next book, The Promise is being published this coming Friday, 17th of February 2017.

Your books are all crime fiction, what is it that draws you to this genre?

I remember reading my first Martina Cole novel - The Ladykiller when I was about sixteen and after my usual reads of authors such as Danielle Steel and Virginia Andrews, Martina's book was an eye opener, to say the least. I loved reading about the criminal underworld, the darkness and the grit. I was hooked after that. 

Your books are all stand alone novels, did you make a conscious decision to do this rather than a series or was it a more organic process?

I think it's always been a conscious decision for me to do stand alone's. I start with a story that I'll already have a vague beginning and an ending for. I do like to leave a little bit to the reader's imagination at the end of the novel, so there's always the feeling that the characters still have a bit more of a journey to go on. As if we only were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of that character's story. 
I am considering doing a series in the future, though. I've got a really exciting idea that I've been thinking about that I might be able to put into play next year. So a series is certainly a possibility in the future. 

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far?

I loved writing Harry Woods in BAD BLOOD. In my mind's eye, I always pictured Ray Winstone as Harry's character. A hard man with a wicked sense of humour and a sense of loyalty to his family that holds no bounds. 
I also loved writing about Lena Cona in THE TAKEN. Her journey was a harrowing one, and she faced so many heartbreaking situations, but she was so spurred on by her love for her daughter that she just never gave up. I loved her for that. 

When you're writing, do you have a set routine or schedule that you like to follow?

I try to do the bulk of my writing when I'm at home alone during the day. My husband and teenage sons can be a bit distracting otherwise. I love doing writing sprints. It really helps with the word count up. If I can do two thousand words a day, then I'm very happy with that. 

Do you have a favourite thing about being an author?

I think everything about being an author is great. 
I'm a complete bookworm, and now I'm doing a job that I love. I get to hear about all the new books coming out, I have lots of authors as friends, I go to the crime festivals, it's all great. Though if I have to pick my most favourite bit about being an author I'd say it's when I first receive a proof copy of my finished book. All that work that has been inside my head for so long, is finally real, in the form of a book. There's nothing quite like it. 

You are a fully qualified Holistic Therapist, can you tell me more about that and why you decided to make the switch to writing?

I worked in the beauty industry for almost ten years and loved it. I really enjoyed working in some fantastic spa's and salons and I made a lot of really good friends too. 
I guess my change in career was mainly down to my Grandad. He inspired me. 
He was in his 90's when he bought himself a laptop, with the intention of teaching himself how to use it so that he could write his own life story. Sadly, he'd only managed to write a few chapters before he passed away. It got me thinking about what I’d like to do whilst I still can, and whether we all do all really have a book in us. I set myself the challenge of seeing if I could write a book, and a year later 'Rotten to the Core' was complete.
I didn't think it would take off the way it did, but suddenly there just wasn't enough hours in the day for me to work my day job and write books too. So something had to give. 
It was a huge risk leaving my day job, but one that paid off thankfully.  

When you're not writing, what would we find you doing?

Spending time with my husband and kids, shopping, watching The Real Housewives, going out with my friends.

You're a big reader and always have been. Do you remember the first book or book series that you absolutely fell in love with?

The first book I ever fell in love with was The Little Matchgirl by Hans Christian Andersen. I was only five years old, and I remember asking my mum to read it to me over and over again. Tragic, but also magical. I also loved Nancy Drew, and the Sweet Valley High books. 

Do you have a favourite author? 

The queen of crime herself, Martina Cole. 
I also loved Gillian Flynn's 'Gone Girl' and Emma Donoghue's 'Room'.

What can we look forward to next from you?

THE PROMISE is my next book, which is due for publication on 17th February 2017. We've just done the cover reveal and the response has been amazing. It went straight into the bestseller's chart at number 31 so I'm really excited about that one. I'm also working on my 7th book as we speak... it's all very exciting, but you'll have to watch this space to hear more on that one. 

Thank you so much to Casey for taking the time to answer my questions in the run up to publication day! To pre order your copy of The Promise click here! Also keep your eye out soon for my review of The Promise as part of the blog tour! 

To Connect With Casey Kelleher

Twitter - @caseykelleher

The Promise 

Family ties can be deadly...


Two sisters. One murder. And an unbreakable bond.

Growing up in squalor with their drug-addicted prostitute mother, sisters Georgie and Marnie Parker have had to endure the very darkest side of life. 

When their mother is sentenced for brutally murdering a client, Georgie and Marnie’s already precarious lives are blown apart and they now share a terrible secret. Sent to a children’s home, the sisters hope this might finally be their safe haven after years of neglect. But they soon discover they’re in real danger.

Desperate to find a place of safety, Georgie and Marnie run for their lives, but end up in the hands of Delray Anderton. A violent London gangster and notorious pimp, Delray has big plans for beautiful teenager Georgie, seeing her as a chance to make some serious money.

Fiercely protective of each other, Georgie and Marnie must escape the clutches of a man who will do anything to keep the sisters for himself. And, they must keep the promise they made to each other – no one can ever know the truth. 

A gritty, shocking and gripping thriller that will engross fans of Kimberly Chambers, Martina Cole and Jessie Keane.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Getting To Know... Barbra Leslie

Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum I am happy to welcome author Barbra Leslie to Getting To Know... Barbra is the author of the Cracked trilogy.

When you are writing, do you have a set routine or schedule that you like to follow?

Well, when I’m a roll, I tend to pretty much write 24/7, with breaks for sleep (not enough) and some slapped-together meals.  Of course, work and other commitments – life, in other words – gets in the way, so unfortunately I don’t get nearly enough time and freedom to do that!  So I pretty much grab time when I can – usually early morning rather than late at night.  I am cursed with not having a regular body clock – my circadian rhythms have always been a bit screwy – so I refer to ‘early morning’ when I mean, when I first get out of bed, whatever time that is.

Ideally, however, I like to live in the world of what I’m writing, for concentrated periods of time.  I pace, I talk to myself, I bake bread, but I like to stay in the book, in my head.

I have a quote by Doris Lessing printed in a huge font, on a bulletin board in my room: “Whatever you’re meant to do, do it.  The conditions are always impossible.”  When I’m a bit overwhelmed by the juggling act that my life tends to be, I find that a good bucking-up mantra.  If I waited until everything was in place and ideal to write, I’d never get anything done!

When you're not writing what would we find you doing?

I have a day job in the criminal justice system, which I love.  And fortunately it’s more part-time than full-time, and fairly flexible.  Plus, I do some other freelance work to pay the bills.  

Otherwise?  I read, a ridiculous amount.  I have friends over for dinner every couple of weeks, and experiment on them with my crazy kitchen suppers – I just make stuff up from what I have lying around in the fridge and cupboards.  I live in hard-core downtown Toronto, and I walk everywhere I go; it clears my head and helps keep me (somewhat!) sane.

Oh, and Netflix.  I don’t know what I did before Netflix came along!

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far?

The obvious answer is Danny Cleary, the protagonist of Cracked, Rehab Run, and the final book in the series, which I’m working on now.  Danny is in my bloodstream; while she and I are almost nothing alike, I know her so well it’s like hanging out with a friend – albeit a violent, unpredictable friend!  But I also really loved writing Lawrence, Danny’s brother.  

Do you have a favourite thing about being an author?

I love writing dialogue.  I’ve been a film nerd since I can remember, and I can hear the voices of the characters as I’m writing them.  

But it’s so amazing to me, when someone sends me a note or lets me know that they liked something I’ve written.  The fact that strangers out there enjoy and appreciate what I’ve cooked up in my wee brain is a source of such joy and surprise to me!  I love getting notes from readers.

The covers of both Cracked and Rehab Run are very distinctive, did you have a lot of input into how they looked?

Good question!  And the answer is pretty much, no.  When the crack team (whoops!  See what I did there?) at Titan asked me if I had anything specific in mind for the cover of Cracked, I believe I just told them to go for it.  I know my strengths and weaknesses, and while I’m hugely interested in design, I know that it’s not my forte.  So when they send me the cover for the first book, I loved it so much I believe I actually sort of semi-screamed with joy.

You have been very honest about dealing with addiction in your past, how important was it for you to portray addiction as realistically as you can in your books?

The only part of either book that is autobiographical is Danny’s addiction to crack cocaine, particularly at the beginning of Cracked.  I didn’t want to write a book about addiction, but it was important to me that the drug use and the nuts and bolts of how it feels to be an active addict – to this drug, at any rate – was realistic.  That being said, that was my own personal and subjective experience.  For other drugs and other addicts, things can be very different.

As you've led such an interesting life, have you considered writing a biography?

Before I started working on Cracked, I began a memoir.  I wrote a chapter or two at my agent’s behest, but it wasn’t flowing.  While I chose to be open about my own past addiction when Cracked was released, it’s very difficult for me to imagine writing about myself in that way.  I love reading memoirs, though, and who knows?  Never say never.  It may happen.

Do you have a favourite author?

No!  I have so many that choosing one would be like someone choosing their favourite child.  Top of my head, stream-of-consciousness (and based on what I’ve been reading lately), I would say that Megan Abbott can write about the inner lives of women and girls better than anyone since Alice Munro, Ben H. Winters’ work is poignant, sad and brilliant, Dennis Lehane can do noir like nobody else, and I wish I could read Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy again for the first time.  I also really love with Karin Slaughter has done with her mysteries, and Nicola Griffith, Octavia Butler and James Lee Burke have been huge influences on me.

If you could give younger you any advice about your writing journey, what would it be?

Write.  Don’t give up.  Don’t let life get in the way too much.  Don’t let the negative, self-doubting voices take over.  Just do what you were meant to do.

Plus – and this is advice I need to take now, as I still haven’t – get help with the non-writing aspects of the writing life.  Social media isn’t my forte, and I have a sadly neglected blog I need to give some attention to.

Rehab Run (Cracked #2) has only recently been published, but what can we look forward to next from you?

The third and final book in the Cracked series will be released in November of 2017.  I’m still playing with titles, but let’s just say it’s going to be a doozy!
After that, I’ve had a mystery/science fiction kind of thing I’ve been thinking about for yonks.  And I might turn my head to another screenplay.

Thank you so much to Barbra for taking the time to answer my questions, as always I'm oncredibly grateful.

To Connect With Barbra Leslie

Twitter - @barbrajleslie


After her stormy marriage ends, Danny Cleary jumps down the rabbit hole into a world of crack cocaine – delivered to her door by a polite but slightly deranged dealer. But when Danny’s twin sister Ginger is murdered, Danny and her rock musician brother fly to California to find their nephews – and the people who killed their sister. Fighting her addiction, nosy cops and crazy drug dealers, she kicks ass and takes names, embracing her inner vigilante in a quest to avenge her sister and save her family.

Cracked is a darkly comic roller-coaster ride to redemption as Danny struggles with bad guys and her own demons to find out who killed her twin.