Book Review – Call After Midnight by Tess Gerritson

Best known for her Rizzoli & Isles series Tess Gerritsen is one of my favourite authors at the minute in the crime genre. Call After Midnight is one of her stand alones novels which I would recommend for anyone wanting an introduction to her work but not wanting to risk getting hooked on a new series at the minute.

Out of the blue newly wed Sarah Fontaine receives a phone call that will change her life forever.  That one call not only leads her to discover her whole relationship has been a scam but will take her on a journey but physically from country to country but emotionally as she struggles to discover the truth about the man she thought loved her but has now placed her life in danger.

The book is a mix of crime and spy thriller genres and at times can seem a little implausible at first glance yet when you look deeper it is apparent how easy it would be for a unscruplous person to drag you into an intrigue without your knowledge.

Gerritsen’s characters as always are well written and draw you to them, you won’t always like them all the time infact occasionally you will wish you could reach into the page and deliver a resounding slap to them but they will engage you and ultimately you will be rooting for them.

I am avoiding saying to much as this is one book I highly recommend and would not want to spoil it.

Rating 5 out of 5 stars



WIP Wednesday – Where it all began?

As this is the first real post regarding my WIP I guess it makes sense to discuss where it all began.  Three years ago I found a facebook game I loved and in some ways it would be easy to claim that as the starting point.  But that wouldn’t be quite true.

Screenshot from my KOC account

You see the reason I enjoyed this game so much initially was I already loved the Medieval.  I was a tomboy growing up more at home climbing trees than playing for hours doing dolls hair.  Most times people play knights, and castles the only role for girls is to be the princess waiting to be rescued but then I found her…..

Boudicca!  Now to be fair she lived earlier than the medieval period generally tends to include as she died around 60 AD .

Now history in acedemic terms is not my strong point and I will not insult you my lovely readers by trying to explain in great detail her life story or the politics of the Roman Invasion at the time   For those history buffs out there or those who want to learn a great deal more from better qualified people than I  here is the first part of Battlefield Britain’s take on Boudicca’s Rebellion.  

If you have the time to watch it it really is a fascinating programme sadly embed was disabled so I could only provide the link.  So in simple terms Boudicca was the Queen of the Iceni tribe who led a rebellion against Roman soldiers who wished to enslave her people. The problem here is that many of the stories are as much myth as anything else as history tends to be written by the victors.  No one is actually even sure what she looks like take this composite image I found online

The centre image is from the film Warrior Queen

She was a figure that disappeared from history for many years being made popular again during the reign of Queen Victoria.  Infact it would appear that down the years it is only when a female monarch is in charge that this strong woman is remembered.

She was the isnspiration for my main chararcter Jacantha.  Women were seem as the equal of men at the very least.  They fought alongside them many being considered far more dangerous than the men.  But as in my novel being a female warrio could lead to their sex being used against them if captured,  It is reported that when Boudicca’s daughters were captured they were raped an outrage that only fuelled her hatred for the Roman invaders.

The Roman’s accused the Briton’s of barbarous horrors to justify their slaughter and anyone who questions some of the graphic sexual violence this is a quote from Wikipedia ‘Tacitus says that the Britons had no interest in taking or selling prisoners, only in slaughter by gibbet, fire, or cross. Dio’s account gives more detail; that the noblest women were impaled on spikes and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths, “to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets, and wanton behaviour” in sacred places, particularly the groves of Andraste.’

This is a clip from the film Warrior Queen for those of a squeamish disposition I should warn it shows sexual violence as well as normal violence and it is a little longer than I would have liked but it also demonstrates as well the belief in magic held at the time.


Next week I shall discuss how the cast of other characters formed around my Queen.


A Peek in a Notebook

Monet’s living notebook

Years ago when I first left school I went to Art College instead of taking A levels we had just moved towns and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  In hindsight it was wrong but there was one experience which made the failure worth the lost years.  That was the college trip to Paris. As a city I hated it wander off the tourist paths and you found dirty grubby streets, we even had our own adventure walking through the red light district trying to get back to the youth hostel from one gallery but that is a story for another day.

My best memory of that trip was a little obscure looking gallery filled with the most amazing treasures…Monet’s paintings.  I was fascinated by Monet for two reasons.  First of course were his wonderful paintings, I loved Impressionists but especially Monet.  To stand before the sheer magnitude of his canvas’ to see each individual brush stroke up close was breath-taking.  For me I think it was the first time I truly understood the meaning of the word genius.  But it is the second reason that is the focus of this post.  It is the fact he created and grew and entire garden just so he could paint it.  He planned the views, the colours, the layout all so he could paint his visions.  And in a lesser way this is how I view my note books.  They are my garden starting out as ideas, seedlings planted some to grow to maturity some plucked away.  I thought it might be fun to share a few picture of the note-book I use for my novel.

These are early pages after all I don’t want to give too much away lol.  I started off with collections of images…no thats not true. I started off with the idea I had idea’s about how certain characters would look and act and I searched out images which fit what I envisioned.   I scrawled on around and even over certain images taking notes of the parts that fit with what I wanted, asking myself questions, working out what research I needed to do to find the answers I needed.

I saw those early scribbles as the first tentative brushstrokes or the skimming of charcoal on paper providing an outline for what I wanted to create.

As you can see these early pages become more and more filled with my looping scrawl as more thoughts come to me.  You will also see I love to doodle on the pages as I think.  It has been a long time since I took the time to practise my drawing skills maybe in time if I put in a little more effort as I doodle they will be worth looking at once more.  You can also see on these first pages the skeleton for the novels structure just a quick note in chapter form of the novels timeline.  It held it most of the way with obviously more details and a few changes in later versions.

I did lose track of myself on the occasional page where my terrible scribbling become too confusing to read myself later but as the note-book was only ever meant for me to see I did not think it neccessary to worry about nice neat flowing handwriting but as the book continues as the note-book begins to contain facts and ideas for actual use then it does get better.  no point having a great line if you can’t read what it was.

Someone else made a comment to me that one day if I ever got published people would want to see my note-books and I laughed.  Maybe if that day ever came it might be wise for me to destroy them and pretend they never existed rather than disappoint with my terrible drawings and appalling writing but I don’t think I could ever do that.  Disorganised as they are this is how my ideas have grown, the pages where my characters were born and took their first breaths I don’t think I would ever want to part with them.

I didn’t want to carry on further into the note book afterall pages of text are no where near as amusing as scribbled pictures and random notes but I hope you enjoyed a little peek into how my mind works. Maybe in writing this I have learnt a lesson myself not just about realising myself how I work but also that spending a few extra minutes when writing in my note-books would not only ensure I can read my own writing but one day might make me feel more comfortable about sharing more from them.

Do you use a note-book or are you a straight to computer writer?  If you do what is scribbled in the margins of yours?

Getting Intimate

Okay there comes a point in a book, well okay in most fantasies of any genre, where someone has to get it on.  Okay so it did happen in chapter two so you didn’t have to wait long.  But it is further into my novel where it gets uncomfortable.  I will admit that the first sex scene I wrote I did blush a little as I wrote it.  But if I am honest after that it came fairly easily.  It could not be a medieval fantasy without its share of rape and pillaging.  The problem starts when I am trying to write lovemaking as opposed to violent, rough sex and rape.

Am I the only one who finds lust so much easier to write than love? And if so what does it say about me?

I think in part its due to the visuality of the words.  If I say he thrust into her or impaled her there is no doubt as the the force used.  Words like caressed can be so ambigeous, finding the right word to explain the exact nature of the touch is harder.  Maybe this is due to my inexperience in writing on the subject.  Lets face it unless you decide to write a novel, the only experience most of us have are in naughty messages to our other halves.  They of course have the bonus of knowing exactly what it is that presses our buttons so even if the message is poorly written they get the message.

I have had the pleasure of reading several blogs by other writers some of whom seem to have far more ease in this department than me.  Or at least their writing would suggest they do, I know one author did tell me she still finds it awkward.  I wonder whether it is because writing the lovemaking scenes is more intimate.  Are you giving away part of yourself, your own experiences.  When I write a rape scene it is what I believe the character would do, whereas with a love scene does my own experiences creep into it a little more.

I would love to hear other peoples thoughts on this.  Is there a difference between writing love and lust?

Fatal Attraction

Recently I read a Blog by Heidi on her page Inside the mind of a Fantasy Writer about wanting her readers to side with the bad guy.  I think that as in reality most of us have a thing for the bad boy.  We wouldn’t want to marry one and generally we out grow them but they are always there lurking in our fantasies.  The bad boy respresents everything our parents warn us against. We know he will probably break out heart, he is dangerous but damn he is sexy.

Throughout the press we see bad boys on self destruct, yet these are the guys who would seem to have everything going for them, looks, fame and women falling at their feet.  The say that good guys always finish last I don’t agree with that I think they start last.  They are the ones we are friends with, the ones whose shoulders we cry on when the bad guy breaks our hearts.  But as we get older the good guy comes into his own.  We reach a point where sitting looking longingly at the phone waiting for a call has lost its charm.  It is the the stability of the good guy comes into its own, he is the one we want to father our children, the bad guy well thats another story.

The bad guy is our fantasy, the guy who dominates us in ways we never thought we wanted.  He is the guy who backs you into a corner and ravishes you. The problem is you know the minute he knows he has you hooked he is onto his next target.  And that is why the bad guy makes such a great character for a writer.  With the baddie you can let your mind run free.  You don’t need to think is this in keeping with his character, will he regret it later, no he will do what ever it takes to achieve his own agenda.  The bad boy can never really be the victor without reforming, the problelm is that reformed he loses his appeal.  He may still have his looks and be a sexy guy but he stops being the fantasy.  I decided on my bad guy had to die.  It is sad and I find myself dragging my heels slightly writing as I approach his demise.  That he has to die I have no doubt, it is not so much that he is killed as he self destructs.  The interesting thing is the emotions he inspires, not just in me but in the way I write the way he interacts with other character.  My heroine has every reason to hate him, yet is physically attracted to him.  This battle of emotions is fascinating me even as I write it.

I did for one brief moment consider a different ending but it just wouldn’t fall into place.  My characters will mark his passing in different ways and I will mourn him.  Yet, as I believe in reincarnation who knows if he will reappear at a later date.

Characters coming to life

I read another blog this morning about whether or not you should base characters on real people and it set me off thinking.  The characters in the novel I am writing started life based not on real people but on their online personas.  But saying that they are not the people themselves.  They were starting points.  At some point the characters took on a life of their own.  The bad guy started based on a friend being a bit of a bad boy and loose cannon in a game but would he ever rape and pillage in real life, of course not.  I will admit a few of the names are there in honour of some of the people who are supporting me, cheering me along and giving me confidence when I feel I am losing my way.

I guess we always use our own experiences as starting points.  If you have never been in love could you write about it….well maybe but it would be a different type of love.  As a teenager before real boys ever entered my thoughts I was in love with John Taylor, bass player for Duran Duran.  If anyone had dared to suggest that was not real love I would have screamed blue murder at them.  And in a way it was a type of love, Love in its purest form not confused by lust or any of the messy emotions that come along as you grow up, even if totally unrequited (although secretly I still live in hope). The point is every experience we have shapes how we view things.  So surely the same is true of all the people we meet.

I would probably never base a character on just one person, it is more of a pick and mix, one trait from one person  another from another.  I am sure that if my friend were like my bad guy he would have been removed and blocked from my friends list.  I also have to say that writing the bad guy is much more fun at times than writing the good guys.  It allows you to explore areas that you would never ever venture in other circumstances.  On the other hand I find i have to becareful it would be so easy for my bad guy to simply be that just a bad guy but he is more than that.  I want to explore why he is the bad guy, whether he could have ever been anything else.  Maybe it seems strange I am writing a fantasy after all so why does it matter why he is bad.  Well I guess for me it is the way he becomes what he is that makes him more real.

Sometimes while I am away from the computer parts of the story run through my head.  It happened the other day I was day dreaming and it was almost like evesdropping on a conversation between two of my characters, and I found myself discovering things I hadn’t planned.  Possible new plot twists appeared based on the new things I was learning about my characters.

Now I know this is only my first novel, so the way I see things now may be very different to how I will see them in the future.  I may look back in a few years time and mock my own thoughts, but I can only comment based on how I think right now.