Gordon Kerr The Partisan Heart Blog Tour

The Italian Alps,1944. The Resistance is fighting a bitter battle against German forces on the treacherous mountains of the Valtellina. Eighteen-year-old Sandro Bellini falls in love with the wife of his Commander. No good can come of it. 

London,1999. Michael Keats is mourning the death of his wife, killed in a hit and run accident in Northern Italy. His discovery that she had been having an affair devastates him and he sets out to find the identity of her lover.

That journey leads him to the villages of the Valtellina, where he becomes embroiled in a crime of treachery and revenge. The brutal repercussions of the war are still reverberating, and as Michael uncovers the truth of his wife’s affair, he reveals five decades of duplicity and deception.

Amazon Book Link https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07MV6HNBN/ref=dbs_a_def_awm_bibl_vppi_i3

Excerpt from Partisan Heart

he resolved to go down to the sorting office as soon as he

was dressed. It wasn’t far and the air would do him good

after spending the whole of the previous day mooching

around the house and then drinking far too much whisky

last night.

 

The sorting office had a 1950s feel to it. It resembled a school

building and reminded Michael a little of the large comprehensive

school he had attended what seemed like another

lifetime ago.

 He followed a sign directing him to ‘Collections’, walking

through a swing door into a dingy room with a large counter

at one end.

 In this obviously neglected space, Michael stood feeling

similarly neglected. No one came and there was not a sound

from anywhere. Behind the counter was a low partition

beyond which there were rows of wooden shelving with

pigeon holes filled with parcels of all shapes and sizes.

 Soon a woman appeared and Michael explained he was

collecting a parcel for his wife. The woman absently took the

card, checked the address and disappeared into the dinginess

behind the partition. She returned after a minute or so with

a large brown paper parcel, about a foot by one- and- half feet

in size. A typed, white label showed Rosa’s name. Michael

showed the woman his driving licence for ID, signed a form

and left the office clutching the parcel.

 It was soft to the touch and sealed so completely with

brown packing tape that, when he got home, he was forced

to hunt down a pair of scissors to open it. Inside, wrapped

in a piece of thin clear plastic of the kind dry- cleaners use

to wrap clothes, he was surprised to find a man’s jacket. He

searched for a letter or a note accompanying it and found

one in an unsealed envelope, its letter- head denoting that

 

it was from a hotel, the Lighthouse Inn, in Dumfriesshire,

Scotland. Puzzled, his eyes quickly took in the short message

written on it:

 

Dear Mrs Keats, we are delighted to be able to return to

you a jacket found in the room you occupied during your

stay in our hotel in April. We hope to see you again at the

Lighthouse Inn soon.’ It was signed ‘J. Stewart, Manager.

 

 Michael’s eyes returned to the jacket. It was light brown

with a faint check of a darker hue stitched through it.

Expensive, he thought, looking at the label, which displayed

an Italian name of which he had never heard. But that was

no surprise to him. Fashion and clothes had never been much

of an abiding interest with him.

 He put the jacket on, approving of the lightness of its cloth,

but found that its chest size was at least a couple of sizes bigger

than his thirty- eight. The sleeves hung down below his fingertips

and the shoulders dropped a couple of inches too low.

The owner was undoubtedly a big chap, he thought, eyeing

himself in the long mirror that formed one of the doors of

a wardrobe in the bedroom. Shame, he thought. I might have

just hung on to it had it fitted.

 This was obviously some kind of mistake. Rosa had not,

to his knowledge, been in Scotland recently. She had gone

away in April, the month that the note claimed she had

been at the Lighthouse Hotel, but that had been a trip to

Newcastle on a photographic assignment for some magazine

or other.

 Certain that a mistake must have been made, Michael

pulled off the jacket, laid it on the bed and resolved to ring

the Lighthouse Inn later that day to let them know that they

were mistaken and that he would post it back to them.

 

As he got ready to head into town, however, it nagged at

him, tugging at his thoughts. Whenever he tried to push it

to one side it would return, like one of those irritating flies

that can plague you in a hot climate. You swat them away

and within a minute or two they return to buzz around your

food or drink. How had the hotel come to connect Rosa with

this item of clothing? It was unlikely, after all, that there was

another combination of names like hers in the country – Rosa

Keats – and, apart from that, how would they have come into

possession of her address?

 

 

‘Hello, Lighthouse Inn, Mary speaking. How may I help

you?’ The voice was soft and musical. He asked to be put

through to ‘J. Stewart’ and explained the reason for his call.

  ‘Well, Mr Keats, the thing is . . .’ – there was hesitancy in

J. Stewart’s voice because the delicacy of the situation had

suddenly made itself very apparent to her. Husband receives

man’s jacket in post. Jacket doesn’t belong to him but has been

left behind by male companion of his wife. ‘. . . The point

is, we were quite certain the jacket belonged to Mrs Keats’s

companion because we had the room refurbished shortly

before their stay, but found out after they left that the plumber

had made a right mess of some of the pipes and water was

leaking down onto the ceiling of the room below. When the

bed was moved to lift the floorboards, we found the jacket.’

She hesitated, before adding nervously, ‘But, of course, there

might be some other explanation.’ There was a silence at the

other end. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, eventually.

 Surely not, he thought. Oh, Rosa, surely not. There must be

some kind of mistake. Ten minutes after he had hung up, he

was staring out of the window watching the world go about

its business as if nothing had happened, as if everything had

not just taken a step in the wrong direction. He had been too

Gordon Kerr was brought up in the Scottish new town of East Kilbride. After graduating from Glasgow University, he lived in France before working in the wine trade in London for 18 years. He next worked in bookselling and publishing. He has written numerous books in a variety of non-fiction genres – wine, history, biography, true crime, humour, art, poetry and travel. He has a wife and two children and lives in West Dorset and southwest France.

1. How did you get started writing?

I’ve been writing since I was about fifteen. I enjoyed poetry at school – I know, not normal! – and so, the first things I wrote were poems. The very first I composed in response to seeing a young American girl on television whose boyfriend had been killed in Vietnam. She was about seventeen and I was very moved by her grief and extremely angry about the pointlessness of that war, and of any war. It’s probably a very good job I no longer have the poem! But from that time on I wrote, and still write, poems. These led me into writing song lyrics and I was in a band when I was still in my teens. We got together again a few years ago after 40 years and are writing and recording again. My writing eventually began to get me jobs in marketing and over the years I have written countless catalogues, leaflets and adverts. Finally, someone asked me to write a book  non-fiction  and since then I’ve been fortunate enough to have had dozens published.


2. What drew you to write a novel?

It was the story, really. It kind of arrived fully-formed in my head. George Harrison once said that songs somehow find their writers, not vice-versa and it was a bit like that with The Partisan Heart. It just came together without a huge amount of planning and preparation. The idea came from my many visits to the Valtellina in north Italy where my sister-in-law lives. I heard stories about the war in the area and about the partisans who fought in the mountains there. The area is beautiful and atmospheric and seemed perfect as the backdrop to a thriller. So, I was writing my non-fiction books as my day job and then in the evening jumping into the fictional world I was trying to create. I almost wore out my keyboard!


3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?

I love all kinds of writing and writers, but I suppose in the genre in which I am writing, I would have to make special mention of the Berlin Noir novels of the late Philip Kerr (no relation!). His creation, the hard-bitten detective, Bernie Gunther, is a masterpiece of cynicism and cunning. The last book has just been published and I will really miss Bernie. Amongst other writers I enjoy are Joseph Kanon, Olen Steinhauer, Alan Furst and Tom Rob Smith. I am a huge fan of the books of the great thriller writer, Eric Ambler. I particularly enjoy stories in which the hero is an amateur who stumbles into perilous situations and in a number of Ambler’s books – such as Journey into Fear and The Mask of Dimitrios – that is exactly what happens.

 
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?

I guess I am lucky in that I have worked in the book world for many years, in bookselling, publishing and as a writer. Therefore, I know a lot of people in that world. I also had a track-record as a writer of non-fiction books which undoubtedly helped. Even with that, however, it can be difficult and I did write another novel quite a few years ago that never found a home. Even if you know the right people, it still has to be a compelling story and the writing has to be up to scratch.


5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?

I’m quite proud of the female character, Helen, in the book. She’s strong, courageous and she knows her own mind. She uses her initiative and her actions help the hero who sometimes can be a bit weak. She is so strong that in the sequel that I’m toying with at the moment, she isn’t present. There’s too much world out there for her to be tied too long to someone.


6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novel?

Part of the novel is set during the Italian Civil War that was fought towards the end of the Second World War. So, I obviously had to delve into that period of Italian history. At the same time, though, I was very conscious that I was writing fiction and not history; so the book is light on historical detail. I think Mussolini’s name is mentioned once, just to give background to the fighting that was going on. I also heard a lot of stories from my sister-in-law’s family about the war. Her father-in-law, for instance was transported to Germany to be used as forced labour. So, it was all around me, especially in the first years when we went to the Valtellina, when the generation that fought in the war was still alive.


7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?

No, I’m afraid they are entirely fictional, both the characters from the war and the ones in more contemporary times.


8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why?

There is a recurring dream that the main character has. It has no real meaning, although it appears at first to be heavy in symbolism. I like the randomness of it. I think stories benefit sometimes from having a passage like that, that really doesn’t drive the action forward in any way, but ladles on the mystery and the atmosphere.


9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?

I’d love to think that I would be as enquiring and as bent on the truth as Michael Keats, the journalist who is the hero of the book, but the truth is that I would probably run a mile from some of the situations he gets himself into. Still, you never know how you might react when you are thrown headlong into a certain scenario. He is driven by grief and anger, I guess, and perhaps if the same thing happened to me as did to him, I too would want to seek out the truth in order to obtain some closure.


10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned?

As I said above, I am planning a second novel featuring Michael Keats. It seems silly not to and these days people seem to enjoy seeing a character develop as he or she gets into scrapes through a series of novels. He’ll be in Italy again, and perhaps there will be another link to the past that informs a set of circumstances in the present. It’s all still some way off, though, and I have a history of the Korean War to write before I get to it.


11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I wouldn’t mind going on a car journey across America with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady at the wheel, writing and shouting poetry as we went. Although I would be a stumbling wreck by the end of the journey, it would have been a lot of fun! And what a novel we would have. Maybe call it Off the Road!


12.  Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel?

My advice would be to just DO IT! I have so many friends who talk about writing their novel, but for some reason they don’t. For me it was a natural thing because writing is just what I do. Even if I wasn’t being paid to do it, I would still do it. If you’re a writer, write!

Amazon Author Link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gordon-Kerr/e/B001H6IKS0/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

There’s been a Murder Interview with J D Kirk

JD Kirk lives in the Highlands of Scotland with his wife, two children, and a number of sturdy umbrellas. Despite writing from a young age, ‘A Litter of Bones’ is his first novel, and combines his love of the Highlands, crime thrillers, and cats.

 

Was the biggest case of his career the worst mistake he ever made?

Ten years ago, DCI Jack Logan stopped the serial child-killer dubbed ‘Mister Whisper,’ earning himself a commendation, a drinking problem, and a broken marriage in the process.

Now, he spends his days working in Glasgow’s Major Incident Team, and his nights reliving the horrors of what he saw.

And what he did.

When another child disappears a hundred miles north in the Highlands, Jack is sent to lead the investigation and bring the boy home.

But as similarities between the two cases grow, could it be that Jack caught the wrong man all those years ago?

And, if so, is the real Mister Whisper about to claim his fourth victim?

1. How did you get started writing?
I’ve been writing pretty much for as long as I remember. I used to fill notebooks with short stories and comics, most of them insanely violent and full of gore. ‘Disembowelled’ was my favourite word for a while, and not a story would go by without at least one character having their bowels forcibly removed by something sharp and pointy.
I was nine years old when I decided that I wanted to do it as a career. We’d just done a project in school on Roald Dahl, and that was the first time I found out that being an author was an actual job. I’d written stories all the time for my own amusement before then, so when I found out that I could make ACTUAL MONEY from doing what I loved, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.
2. What drew you to write a novel
I actually started off by writing screenplays. I wanted to write big cinematic movies that would play in the cinema for a while, then I realised that it was VERY difficult to get something like that made, so then I started writing much smaller, low-budget screenplays. I had a few of those picked up by production companies, but even at the low-budget end of the spectrum, producers have to raise millions to get a movie off the ground, so none of them ever went into production.
I realised that it was much cheaper for a publisher to put out a book than it was for a studio to put out a movie, so I took some of the stories I had planned writing as film scripts and started adapting them into novels. I found I enjoyed the process of writing a novel far more than I liked writing screenplays, and so all my new ideas tended to be for the page, rather than the screen.
I think there’s something about being able to get inside a character’s head that really appeals to me in writing a novel. In a screenplay, you can only really write about what the audience can see and hear. In a novel, you can do anything, go anywhere, and show the thoughts of the characters. There’s also no special effects budget, so you’re only limited by your imagination.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
I don’t think it was any one writer, but more a big amalgamation of all the thousands of books I read growing up, and through my teenage years. After I discovered my local library, I’d go through three or four books a week. I always went against popular advice, and very much judged books by their covers. If the cover grabbed me, I’d have a go, often not paying attention to the author or title.
I tend to gravitate towards anything with humour in it, no matter the genre. I’m not saying everything has to be comedy, but I tend to get through life by laughing and joking, even during the darkest times, and I like a book to reflect that. I think Chris Brookmyre is a great example of that. Often very dark plots, but with a rich seam of humour running through them that just lifts the stories to another level.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
I think what gave me an advantage is that I wrote every day for about twenty years before I submitted a single novel to a publisher. It wasn’t that I didn’t think the earlier stuff was good enough (although, in hindsight, it probably wasn’t). It was that I enjoyed the writing process so much I didn’t want to get bogged down with the submission process.
When I finally decided to submit a novel I’d written to an agent, she signed me up pretty quickly. She then submitted the book to HarperCollins Children’s Books (it was a horror novel for 9-12 year olds) and they came back soon after to ask if I’d write a series of six. There were no rejections at all, as far as I can recall. I put it down to all those years of practice!
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?
I enjoyed writing all the characters, and wanted to make sure they were all fleshed out with their own goals, ambitions, flaws, etc. As such, I like pretty much all of them – even the villainous characters – but DCI Jack Logan has to be my favourite. He’s often rude, sometimes harsh, but has that streak of humour running through him like I mentioned earlier.
He’s tormented by things that have happened to him in the past, and things he has done, but he also genuinely cares about people. He just sometimes shows it in a funny way…
6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novel?
Mostly, it was stuff about police procedure. I was fortunate in that I got to know a couple of serving police officers online, and they were happy to give me some advice. I read a lot of police manuals, too, and generally spent a few weeks immersing myself in the intricacies of Police Scotland.
In the end, very little of that actually makes it into the book! For me, the characters and plot come first, and the actual nitty gritty of police procedure is a distant second. I try to sprinkle just enough to make it seem convincing to the reader, but never in a way that sacrifices story or character.
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
Not specifically. I mean, there’s no one character who is based on an individual person I know, but they’re probably all a bit of a mish-mash of characteristics from various people I’ve known over the years. The only exception is DS McQuarrie in A Litter of Bones. She’s what I imagine the policewoman who attended the scene after I’d been involved in a car crash would be like, were she to become a detective. She was fiercely officious to the extent that, after giving me a breath test to make sure I hadn’t been drinking, she made me climb back in through the boot of my upside-down car to retrieve my insurance documents from the glove box. I was literally crawling over broken glass with her standing outside watching me.
I set out to make DS McQuarrie a version of that police officer, but ended up making her a bit nicer somewhere along the way.
8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why
The opening scene of A Litter of Bones is set in a place called Leanachan Forest, where I often take my dog for a walk. Without giving too much away, the events of this first scene kick off the whole story, and it’s based pretty closely on something that happened when my daughter and I took the dog out at that same spot. She was around seven, and what happens in that opening scene is almost exactly what happened with my daughter and I (only with a happier ending…)
And I shall say no more than that. 🙂
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
I think DCI Logan is sort of how I can see myself in the future. I think he was probably quite positive and idealistic once, but time, life, and the realisation that there are a lot of horrible people in the world have all conspired to turn him that bit wearier and more cynical. At his core, he still has that hopefully, idealistic spark, but dealing with murderers and psychopaths has buried it deep.
I’m currently still at that mostly-positive stage, but I can feel myself getting increasingly cantankerous and irritable as I get older. I don’t think I’m anywhere near Logan yet, but I suspect it’s just a matter of time.
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned.
Sure! The second DCI Logan book, “Thicker than Water” comes out in June. When a mutilated body washes up on the shores of Loch Ness, the media goes into a monster-frenzy. But the real killer is very much human, and it’s up to Logan and the rest of the Major Investigations Team to find them.
11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why
Hmm. I’m not sure. If it’s a 50/50 royalty split, I’ll go with JK Rowling. 🙂
Seriously, though, one of the things I most enjoy about writing a novel is that it’s solely my vision. When I was writing screenplays, you had to try to second-guess what the budget would allow, then the best case scenario was that a director and producer would come along, take your script, and then stamp their own creative vision all over it.
I like the fact that a novel is just mine. Sure, there’s an editor to think about, but I have final say, no one else. I’m not sure if I’d be able to collaborate on a novel if it meant giving up that control.
That said, I’d love DCI Logan to do a crossover with someone like LJ Ross’s DCI Ryan. Something like that could be a lot of fun.
12.  Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is intrested in writing a novel
The obvious one is to write lots. The more you write, the better you get. But we’ve all heard that before.
So, instead, I’ll say: Live. It’s hard to write about being scared if you’ve never done anything scary. It’s hard to write about love if you’ve never experienced it, or about the thrill of driving a fast car around a racing track if you’ve never gone over thirty.
Go out and experience as many things as possible. Travel. Have adventures. Make friends. Laugh, love, experience loss, and all that stuff. The more of life you experience, the richer your writing will become.

Pre Order DCI Logan Novel 2 – Thicker Than Water – Out 30th June 2019

Not all monsters are make-believe.

When a badly mutilated body washes up on the shores of Loch Ness, DCI Jack Logan’s dream of a quiet life in the Highlands is shattered.

While the media speculates wildly about monster attacks, Jack and the Major Investigations Team must act fast to catch the killer before they can strike again.

But with Nessie-hunters descending on the area in their dozens, and an old enemy rearing his ugly head, the case could well turn out to be the most challenging of Jack’s career.

And, if he isn’t careful, the last.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thicker-than-Water-Scottish-Thrillers-ebook/dp/B07R43X1Y3/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=JD+Kirk&qid=1559931004&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Links are:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/JD-Kirk/e/B07Q5KDB1B/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1