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Monday, 10 July 2017

For readers and fans of Nick Rippington's #thriller SPARK OUT check out this interview! #suspense


Introducing Nick Rippington's
SPARK OUT 

Think Arnie Dolan was trouble? Now meet the old man...

MAURICE ‘BIG MO’ DOLAN is prone to headaches and there is one main cause: his family. He believes eldest son Chuck, 7, needs toughening up, his wife Beryl is too lenient, his career-criminal father has no respect for him and he is about to lose his younger brother Clive to the army.


AmazonUK | AmazonUS
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. With Margaret Thatcher’s government backing initiative and suggesting people get ‘on their bikes’ to find work, Mo believes it is the perfect time for him to expand his business... into armed robbery.

As he plans the ultimate raid to drag him out of the poverty trap, he believes his fortunes are bound to get better... but with the Falklands War just around the corner they are about to become a whole lot worse.

A hard-boiled suspense thriller that's not for the faint hearted.

A prequel to Crossing The Whitewash, the novel is set in 1982 as Britain comes to terms with a Thatcher government and the prospect of war in the south Atlantic...


Interview with Nick Rippington
What process do you follow for your writing? Are you a planner or do you just let it flow? Straight to PC or pen and paper?
My starting point is to have the germ of an idea, then to work out a beginning and an ending. From there I develop a short plan – two or three paragraphs per chapter – before I knuckle down to a first draft. Sometimes it just flows on other occasions it is hard work, which makes me think I have to adapt it. A good start and a good end are key ingredients, though. Recently I have been starting my books to coincide with Nanowrimo, the yearly contest in which you have to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month ... it’s a great challenge and really gives you a head start.
Do you attend writing/author focused conferences? Which is your favourite?
This year I launched Spark Out at the Dublin Writers Conference run by the inspiring Laurence O’Bryan of Books Go Social. You can gain so many good ideas from the talented speakers that turn up there. For the last two years they have even had a Hollywood producer. This time around you had the chance to pitch ideas to him and I was hoping he might see the potential of both Spark Out and Crossing the Whitewash for the big screen. I also regularly attend the London Book Fair, where the Authors Corner has grown out of all proportion over the last few years with the astonishing rise of Indie writers.
How many manuscripts do you have that you never submitted? Will you consider approaching your publisher with them now?
There are quite a few – maybe seven or eight - and I keep meaning to revisit them. They encompass vastly different genres, though, so unless I released them under a different name I am not sure how they would fit with me as a writer at this moment. 
What one piece of advice do you wish you received before you started writing? 
“The first draft is just the writer telling himself the story,” one highly-rated novelist said. I had a terrible habit of editing as a go along – it goes with the territory of being a sub-editor in the newspaper industry. Once you have an entire draft to work with you can start to tweak and the whole process flows much better. The other way and you end up with a lot of half-finished novels.
What one piece of intended good advice, wasn’t what it seemed?
I’m a bit of a sponge, and there is so much advice out there that sometimes you have to be careful whose you take. I wouldn’t single anyone or anything out in particular, but there are unscrupulous people out there who tell you that you can’t do it yourself and need to harness their expertise and experience. Wrong. You can. You need some professionals to help out – like a cover designer and an editor – but there are plenty of companies out there who offer a service which can be expensive, when with all likelihood you could have saved some money. One company got me to pay rather a lot of money to have them tout my rights around at conferences across Europe. I didn’t get a single thing from it.
What is your favourite thing about the whole writing process? 
I love those “Eureka” moments when you suddenly come up with the great idea for a twist, or an ending, or just something that helps you develop your characters.

Was there a particular book that made you sit up and think ‘that’s it, I’m going to be an author too’?
I love fast-moving books you can’t put down. I always felt there was a book in me, but it was when I read Jaws by Peter Benchley that I thought seriously about it. I was also intrigued with stories about the Nazis and what happened to them after the war, hence why The Odessa File by Fredrick Forsyth and The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin intrigued me. Their endings were something I didn’t expect and inspired me to write stories that keep the reader guessing.
Who do you envisage as playing your characters if your book was ever turned into a movie?
In Spark Out, Big Mo would have to be played by a muscleman with a bit of menace. I’d love to see someone like Tom Hardy in the role having been mesmerised by him in the BBC TV series Taboo. Mo’s wife Beryl would need to be played by someone like Helen McCrory, who plays Polly in Peaky Blinders. As the characters are all in their mid-twenties though I may need to employ up-and-coming young actors. Mo’s younger brother Clive, for instance, could be played by another Peaky Blinders actor, Joe Cole, who plays John Shelby. 
What do you consider is your greatest accomplishment?
As a writer, it would be to have actually overseen every bit of the publishing process and launched my debut novel Crossing the Whitewash under my own steam. When I first batch of books turned up hot off the presses it was an amazing feeling! Getting an honourable mention in the genre category of the highly respected Writers’ Digest self-published eBook awards was pretty special, too. 
Do you have any writing rituals? What are they? 
Too many, probably. I think I was so stunned at getting the first book out and people liking it that I tried to repeat the process in the second book. They aren’t superstitions as such, but they are routines I find work like, for instance, going through every chapter and marking it with little emojis to say if there is action, romance, violence, twists etc. When I look back at this fairly comprehensive chart it tells me if I have the “flow” of the book right, and points out any spots where it may have gone a bit dull and lost the reader. I first heard about this – it is called a “Beat Sheet” – from Ros Morris, a writer and editor who does some books with very useful writing tips.
There’s a hell of a lot of proofing and printing involved and I get the book formatted with the same software and the cover designed by the same person. Jane Dixon-Smith’s covers are exceptional, I think, so there is no reason to look elsewhere.
I write on my days off. The routine seems to be: Get my seven-year-old Olivia ready for school, do the school run, come home and put the kettle on, make a coffee, sit in the dining room overlooking the garden and write. Oh yes, and to kick start new novels I always try to do NaNoWriMo in November. That is National Novel Writing Month and you are challenged to complete 50,000 words in that month. It gives you fantastic impetus even though none of my finished books were started that way. The next one? Probably.

If you could have written any literary character, who would it be and why?

I love a good baddie. Everyone does, don’t they? And one of the baddest of bad guys is Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal never really came to the forefront in the Thomas Harris series until the later books. It was possible Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal in the film Silence of the Lambs that made him a household name but once he arrived you couldn’t get rid of Hannibal The Cannibal. I’ve got a couple of bad boy gangsters who people love to hate: Arnie Dolan and his old man Big Mo Dolan, who is the star of Spark Out, but they would do well to earn Hannibal’s rep. 
Within your genre, is there a subject that you would never write about? What? Why?

I like to push boundaries, but I can’t say I would feel too comfortable tackling religion. I would tackle some of the issues that arise from it but I don’t think I would want to analyse or criticise people’s beliefs. I am not a religious person but I don’t feel in a position to take people to task over their views. I would have to read the books of every religion, try to understand the various interpretations and everything to approach such a task ... it really would be a lifetime’s work!

NICK RIPPINGTON is one of the victims of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal you never hear about. Having proudly taken his dream job as the newspaper’s Welsh Sports Editor, he was made redundant with two days’ notice when Rupert Murdoch closed down Europe’s biggest-selling tabloid six years ago.
The dramatic events prompted Nick to write UK gangland thriller Crossing the Whitewash, which was released in August 2015. Spark Out is the second novel in his Boxer Boys series. Married to Liz, Nick has two children – Jemma, 35, and Olivia, 7. A Bristolian at heart, he lives near Ilford, Essex.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

What is Fate? Is it predetermined and can we change It?

Or more importantly, should we change it?

According to Wikipedia the word 'fate' isn't interchangeable with 'destiny' and means 'a predetermined course of events'. And 'fate', traced back to Latin, also means 'death'. Nice.

Many modern people believe the former, so, if that were the case, we would have no control over our fate. By that definition it could almost be described as a supernatural power that was assigned to us because of our inability to control our life-path.

So, going along those lines, what would happen if this thing called fate gets it wrong? Would it just throw up its hands (if it had hands) saying, 'Oops, got that one wrong, never mind, next!'

Or would is put things back on its correct path no matter what?

That's the question I pondered over in my latest book WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP.

I played with the idea of a woman who had a trying childhood, and didn't have a good relationship with her mother, but she grew up and was now happy in her middle years—or thought she was. So what would happen if she was, somehow, sent back in time to sort out her strained relationship with her mother? Would she make the same mistakes that she made before?
I threw a spanner in the works though… my character, Julie Compton, could only go back in time in someone else’s body. 
WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP
No one knew she was driving on that stretch of road. No one saw her car leave the highway and crash into a watery ditch. No one heard the car’s windscreen smash or saw the tree branch impale her to her seat. No one heard her screams. 
Paperback (American readers) Paperback (British readers)
eBook (American readers)eBook (British readers)
  Julie Compton’s life should have ended after being involved in a deadly car accident but instead she woke, unharmed, back in 1972 and primed to relive her life all over again.
   One problem. She’s in the body of a stranger.
   Journey back to the 70s and 80s England where Julie’s forced to jump through the eras, occupying and controlling the bodies of people she knew as a child. She must work out which destiny path was the wrong one, wondering all the while if her body, back in 2016, was dying in her car. With each momentous change, her memories transform and she realises she’s not only changing her future but the futures of those around her.
   A paranormal, time-slip adventure set in the real town of Northampton in England.

Excerpt taken from chapter four of WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP

I woke with a bump, like I’d been submerged beneath water. Gasping. Breathless. The shimmering man slipped from my consciousness as I fought to hold on to him—I felt he was important but the dream disintegrated as panic overcame me.
I scrabbled around, getting my things together, knowing I had to get out of the car before it became my grave. It was still daylight. I’d missed the meeting, though. Sod the meeting. I reached to grab my bag and briefcase from the footwell. My hand stopped in mid-air. A beaded yellow and red bag was in place of my Ted Baker handbag.
I took the bag anyway. I needed money to make phone calls for a recovery service and a taxi. Whoever’s bag it was, I’d pay them back. I grabbed my briefcase and opened the car door. The car was at an angle, pointing downward, and I slipped. I had to grab the door one-handed as my feet disappeared beneath the car. But I felt strangely light, as if I could jump and easily reach the swaying trees making a canopy over the road. I threw the bag and briefcase to the top of the embankment and climbed up.
On my knees, I opened the bag, hoping to find a phone inside. There was a packet of cigarettes. Players No. 6, to be exact. I turned it over in my hands. Even as a non-smoker I knew this brand had long been replaced by something else. I dropped them in the bag. Maybe whoever they belonged to was a retro smoker.
I searched further, but other than a discoloured makeup bag, an opened packet of strawberry Spangles, a pen, a diary, and a hideous brown purse there was nothing that I could use to help me out of my predicament.
My iPad!
I reached for my briefcase, but as I did, I realised it wasn’t mine either. In fact, it was nothing like mine. This wasn’t genuine leather, it had no long handles, and it was scuffed and well-used.
An old Cortina whooshed past, but I was too slow to react. I tried anyway, standing quickly, yelling and waving my hands, but it had disappeared around the bend in the road. I ran after it a few paces but stopped, knowing it was futile.
There was nothing for it—I’d have to walk. I couldn’t be far from civilisation. This was England, for goodness’ sake! I picked up the handbag and briefcase. I didn’t want whoever owned them to say I’d stolen them. I’d have to look after them until I could return them. The garish-coloured bag went over my shoulder.
Something made me turn to look down at my poor, smashed-up car. Ghost-like figures surrounded it. I couldn’t make out features, colours, or anything much, just strange transparent floating shapes hovering around my car.
Fear caused me to step back. I wasn’t religious; I disbelieved in anything hocus-pocus and was suspicious of anyone who claimed they believed in an afterlife, but I couldn’t explain those ghostly figures as anything other than Death trying to find me. Trying to find out how I’d cheated it, maybe.
I closed my eyes, rocking on my feet as dizziness brushed over me, then opened them again carefully, almost afraid of what I’d see. But it was low-laying mist that surrounded the car now. It was almost invisible.
Just mist.
‘Silly woman,’ I said, and turned to look around at my surroundings. I was on a typical narrow country road, and I was afraid I’d have a boy-racer come up behind me and finish me off. I wondered what time it was. I never wore a watch, and as my mobile was broken I didn’t know the time. I stopped and squinted up at the sun. It was high in the blue sky, but how could that be? It was January; the sun never rose much during the winter months. I looked around at the gently swaying trees—fully leaved. The field to my left was full of tall rapeseed. The yellow flowers gave off a familiar smell that reminded me of my childhood in the village before I left with my father as a teenager.
This was crazy. It’s January! I’ve not only slept through the night, but the entire winter? Noticing I’d crashed near a T-junction with a signpost, I walked over to read the sign:
Potterspury 1/4 mile.
Good God, that’s the very village where I lived as a girl! I lived in a small house on a street called Blackwell End in Potterspury. But how? I was in Harrow! Dropping the case and letting the handbag slip down to my elbow, I stared at the sign.
A few metres along the road was a bus stop, and I hurried over to find the timetable. There wasn’t one. Great. A low noise behind me caused me to turn, and I watched as a tractor drew closer, its noise growing as did its size. It pulled up beside me, vibrating so quickly it was almost a blur.
‘Aye up, me duck, you okay?’ the driver asked through an open window.
It was Gerald, Mum’s biggest regret.