[Q&A with the author] The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna @DianeZinna #TheAllNightSun

I’m so excited to be sharing this Q&A with the wonderful Diane Zinna, author of The All-Night Sun.

Q&A

Q: What inspired you to write The All-Night Sun?

A: The idea for the book actually came to me in a dream, though it grew into something very different in the writing. I’d dreamed of two friends traveling together by train. I dreamed that one of those women snuck off to reunite with a lover in an underground Parisian bathroom filled with art—dream stuff. In the writing, the bathroom became Stockholm’s art-filled subway. The lover remained. The friend, waiting upstairs, her jealousy rising, remained.

Q: How long did it take you to write your debut novel The All-Night Sun?

A: It took about a year to write the first draft, but the story went through many years of revisions, mostly in its structure. I had written it toggling back and forth in time. As a book about grief, that felt right to me, the way intense, vivid memories can interrupt our day-to-day. Someone who read it early on suggested a linear format, so I pulled it apart and did it that way to see how it might work. It was a helpful exercise in that I was able to close some plot holes, but it didn’t feel like the same story anymore. I know as writers we are told to drive forward, always forward, but moving back and forth in time was part of what gave this book energy. After taking it apart for someone else, it took me a long time to put it back together in a way I loved again, but I’m so glad I did.

Q: Do you have a routine of writing at a certain time for a couple of hours or do you do it spontaneously?

A: I have always longed for a regular practice, but so far I haven’t been successful at keeping to one. I’ve always worked full time, and the writing of this book overlapped having my daughter and dealing with illness, and there’s always the stuff of life that interrupts us. When generating new work, I tend to write in short bursts. When I’m in an editing phase, I can write for hours and that process just overtakes everything I’m doing. I have even been known to write with the laptop open in the car, squeezing in words at red lights.

Q: Was there a particular scene which you found hard to write (spoiler-free if possible)?

A: The last chapter was difficult because I longed to give Lauren a good ending. I felt that if anyone deserved that, she did. I knew that some people were not going to find her to be a “likeable” narrator, and I liked her very much. I wanted her to be okay out in the world without me when I was finished. In early drafts, my last paragraphs tried to do too much. I hinted at who she later married, showed her starting over as a teacher in a new school, showed her with new friends, even new hobbies.(I had her scrapbooking!?) But I always knew that this book was about coming right up to the edge of being okay after grief—coming to the lip of it and finally taking that first breath after so long being underwater. So that’s how I ended it—with Lauren’s first, deep breath.

Q: Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

A:  Lauren is another version of me, I think. I too lost my parents too early, though not in the way it’s described in the book. The memorization of things, the TV always on, how she was constantly teaching herself new things to occupy her mind—that was all very much me. But for me, that drive also became an obsession with work and service.I worked three jobs. I volunteered as much as I could. I tried to help others dealing with loss. But all of that also served as a way of hiding my grief away, and like Lauren, my pain often burst out at inopportune times.

Q: What authors made you fall in love with reading?

A: Early on for me, it was Ray Bradbury. I checked out a copy of The Illustrated Man from my elementary school library and never returned it. I felt like that book had found me, and I still have it. One of my favorite Bradbury stories, “All Summer in a Day,” appears in The All-Night Sun. My early reading was this really formative mix of dark science fiction and Sweet Valley High books. In high school, I loved The Once and Future King for its romantic sense of being held by the natural world, and a science fiction novel called A Canticle for Leibowitz, that was about hope during a dark time. These two books also imparted structure lessons to me I still think about a lot.

Q: Are you currently reading anything – if so, what are you reading at the moment?

A:  I’ve been reading a lot of books that are debuting in 2020, into this pandemic time. One thing I was grateful to discover is that there are opportunities to connect with other writers who are debuting in your year. In our 2020 Debuts group, we started out sharing the normal joys and anxieties, but now we are supporting each other through cancelled book tours, delayed publication dates, and format changes. With so many bookstores closed, many of us will never have the experience of walking into a bookstore and seeing our books on display. I hope readers will seek out the 2020 Debuts on social media—there are so many extraordinary stories waiting to become part of someone’s heart.

Thank you so much to Diane for taking the time to answer these questions for Breathing Through Pages!

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this Q&A!

THE ALL-NIGHT SUN

Forthcoming from Random House, July 14th, 2020

All the buy/pre-order links for The All-Night Sun are below!

Add ‘The All-Night Sun‘ to your TBR:  

*Pre-order ‘The All-Night Sun‘ here:

*Pre-order ‘The All-Night Sun‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Diane Zinna is originally from Long Island, New York. She received her MFA from the University of Florida and went on to teach creative writing for ten years. She was formerly the executive co-director at AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, which hosts the largest literary conference in North America each year. In 2014, Diane created their Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, helping to match more than six hundred writers over twelve seasons.

Diane lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband and daughter. The All-Night Sun is her first novel.

Find her on: Website, Goodreads and Twitter.

[Q&A with the author] Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart @Doug_D_Stuart #ShuggieBain

I’m so excited to be sharing this Q&A with the wonderful Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain.

📸 Amy Chin

Q&A

First of all, huge congratulations on your debut Shuggie Bain! It’s already out in the US and Australia and it will be out in the UK in August!

Q: What inspired you to write Shuggie Bain?

A: No one particular thing. I grew up in Glasgow in the 1980’s but have lived in New York for the past twenty years. I think I was grieving for the boy I once was, for the people I grew up around and the city I love. I was just overwhelmed with a need to set it all on the page. I actually started with (what is now) chapter thirteen, where the characters Leek and Shuggie go to the closed down colliery and Leek teaches his young brother how to walk like a proper man. Then the rest of the book seemed to flow from there and there was no stopping it.

Q: How long did it take you to write your debut novel Shuggie Bain?

A: Like most writers I worked full time – except I worked in the fashion industry. It took me ten years to write Shuggie Bain;fashion is a really intense industry, and NYC is a really restless city, so I always had to be quite selfish in order to steal some time to actually write. I wrote Shuggie in the margins of the day. Once the book had its hooks in me the rest of my working week felt like an obstacle to overcome before I could return to my characters. There were periods where their stories swallowed me so completely. Writing this book definitely tested my marriage – my obsession with my writing has ruined many family holidays!

Q: Do you have a routine of writing at a certain time for a couple of hours or do you do it spontaneously?

A: I write full time now so I try to have the discipline of arriving at my desk after breakfast every morning. But I’m not too hard on myself if it doesn’t come to anything. Thinking and living and stepping back to consider your work are as necessary as writing itself. I’m both an early morning thinker and a late in the day writer – I’m useless after lunch so I try to keep the afternoon for admin and allowing my mind to wander. Because I live in a chaotic city, I find my most valuable tool is noise cancelling headphones. When I have those on, I can focus for hours. Any time I get stuck, I go out for a walk and New York usually presents me with some unexpected human behavior that inspires me.

Q: Was there a particular scene which you found hard to write (spoiler-free if possible)?

A: There is a scene near the beginning of the book where young Shuggie is playing near an old dis-used washing machine. He is bullied by an older boy. I found that scene particularly jarring because it deals with both abuse and homophobia – and it is really the turning point forShuggie. After this he is marked in his coal-mining community as too effeminate, as being ‘no right’. This was a hard scene to write becauseits always harrowing to steal the innocence of a child. Instinctively, all you want to do is protect your characters.

Q: Do you see yourself in your character Shuggie?

A: I think many writers pull from real life. Shuggie is too kind and too patient to be anything like me, he endures incredibly painful things with such grace,and I think they would make me crumble.

It’s not that I see myself in Shuggie, but that I see my life and my experiences growing up in Glasgow in all the characters. I tried to be as authentic and truthful as I could in re-creating the millieu – I hope that is one of the strongest things you will feel from the book. Sometimes in order to do that I needed to remove myself as the author to ensure I didn’t have too much intrusion. I wanted the reader to feel as though they were in the room, I never wanted them to have a sense that a writer was telling them this story and standing between them and these characters.

Q: What authors have influenced you and made you fall in love with reading and eventually writing a novel?

A: Growing up poor I rarely saw books that portrayed families like my own and that always made me feel so lonely. The first time I read Barry Hines’s A Kestrel for a KnaveI suddenly understood the power of literature because I felt seen. Later, when I discovered Agnes Owens and James Kelman, I saw that a writer can capture working-class lives with all the dignity and urgency and importance that we usually give to middle class characters. Poverty is just as worthy of the page as privilege is. I think the biggest influences on me as a writer have been Alan Warner, Irvine Welsh, Cormac McCarthy and Agnes Owens. I don’t know if this reflects in my work, but I admire their ability to look difficult things straight in the eye and write about it without embellishment. As a writer, everything you read has an influence on you – even if that feeling is about rejecting what you read.

Q: What are some of your favourite books?

A: There are so many to mention. Whenever I read queer or working-class characters on the page, I feel incredibly seen. I am always drawn to urgent working-class protagonists: Alexander Trocchi’s Young Adam, Phillipp Meyer’s American Rust, Agnes Owens’s Gentlemen of The West, Barry Hines’s A Kestrel for A Knave. (Ken Loach’s adaptation ‘Kes’ is an incredible film.) I try to read as much queer fiction as I can: James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt, The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst, Alexander Chee’s Edinburgh, Colm Tóibin’s The Story of the Night.I LOVE Thomas Hardy: but am especially fond of Tess of the D’Ubervilles or Jude the Obscure. Arabella Don is one of my favourite characters ever. Of all the Scottish books that have had influenced me, I really admire Alan Warner’s Morvern Callar and Janice Galloway’s The Trick is to Keep Breathing. Any fan of Elinor Oliphant should read Galloway’s book.

Q: Are you currently reading anything – if so, what are you reading at the moment?

A: There have been so many great books published recently but I love: Real Life by Brandon Taylor, The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa, and Mary South’s short story collection You Will Never Be Forgotten is so exciting and strange. At the moment I’m finding myself in need of some comfort from what I read so I’m re-reading The Persian Boy by Mary Renault and Maria McCann’s As Meat Loves Salt. I find McCann’s book comforting and disturbing at the exact same time – and I love that. It’s a gay love story that is both immersive and propulsive. I’m obsessed with Jacob Cullen! If I had the money, I would commission a trilogy!

Q: Is there a lingering idea for a future novel?

A: There is! I am at work on a gay love story set amongst the territorial gangs of Glasgow. It’s about two young men who are in love and are divided by sectarian lines. It has been described as Romeo and Juliet with homemade tomahawks and shanking blades!

📸 Amy Chin

Thank you so much to Douglas for taking the time to answer these questions for Breathing Through Pages!

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this Q&A!

US cover

UK cover

Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good–her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits–all the family has to live on–on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right,” a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her–even her beloved Shuggie.

A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction. Recalling the work of Edouard Louis, Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist who has a powerful and important story to tell.

SHUGGIE BAIN is already out in the US and Australia and will be out in August in the UK. All the buy/pre-order links are below!

Add ‘Shuggie Bain‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Shuggie Bain‘ here:

*Pre-order ‘Shuggie Bain‘ here:

*Pre-order ‘Shuggie Bain‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Douglas Stuart is a Scottish – American author. His short story, Found Wanting, was published in The New Yorker magazine.

His debut novel, Shuggie Bain, is published by Grove Atlantic in the US and Picador in the UK. It is to be translated into Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, German and French. He wrote Shuggie Bain over a ten year period and is currently at work on his second novel.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Douglas was raised in some of the city’s most deprived housing schemes, including the now demolished Sighthill tower blocks. After receiving his MA from the Royal College of Art in London he has lived and worked in New York City.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads and Twitter.

[Q&A with the author] The Body Politic by Brian Platzer @bplatzer #TheBodyPolitic

I’m so excited to be sharing this Q&A with the wonderful Brian Platzer, author of The Body Politic.

Q&A

Q: What inspired you to write The Body Politic?

A: For two years, I was dizzy all day every day. My vision was blurry, I couldn’t be alone with my kids, teach, write, or carry on a conversation in person or over the phone. I was lonely and scared–feelings exacerbated by the combination of constant suffering and the existential horror of not knowing if the suffering would last forever. After I finally found the medications that now give me a few hours of clarity each day, I wanted to process both my perspective and those of my wife, friends and family who’d endured it all with me.  Then Trump was elected, and the parallels between my illness and the political moment just snuck up on me. There was a comparable frustration, dread, disorientation, and uncertainty. Telling these two stories together put human emotions and decisions on a political scale and contextualized the characters in way that makes their story feel way more alive.

Q: How long did it take you to write your novel The Body Politic?

A: About 4 years!

Q: Do you have a routine of writing at a certain time for a couple of hours or do you do it spontaneously?

A: I have a few hours of clarity every morning, so I teach two mornings a week and write the other three mornings.  Then I edit in the afternoons.

Q: Was there a particular scene which you found hard to write (spoiler-free if possible)?

A: All the scenes involving the kids made me really emotional.  I hate thinking about what my kids went through when I was sick.

Q: Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

A: David, one of the protagonists, is pretty much just a taller, friendlier, sadder version of me.

Q: What authors have influenced you and made you fall in love with reading and eventually writing a novel?

A: James Baldwin, Philip Roth, Rachel Cusk, W Somerset Maugham

Q: What are some of your favourite books?

A: Giovanni’s Room, American Pastoral, Outline, The Razor’s Edge

Q: Are you currently reading anything – if so, what are you reading at the moment?

A:  I’m reading the great Rachel Monroe’s Savage Appetites

Thank you so much to Brian for taking the time to answer these questions for Breathing Through Pages!

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this Q&A!

In the bestselling tradition of The Interestings and A Little Life, this keenly felt and expertly written novel by the author of the “savvy, heartfelt, and utterly engaging” (Alice McDermott) Bed-Stuy Is Burning follows four longtime friends as they navigate love, commitment, and forgiveness while the world around them changes beyond recognition.

New York City is still regaining its balance in the years following 9/11, when four twenty-somethings—Tess, Tazio, David, and Angelica—meet in a bar, each yearning for something: connection, recognition, a place in the world, a cause to believe in. Nearly fifteen years later, as their city recalibrates in the wake of the 2016 election, their bond has endured—but almost everything else has changed.

As freshmen at Cooper Union, Tess and Tazio were the ambitious, talented future of the art world—but by thirty-six, Tess is married to David, the mother of two young boys, and working as an understudy on Broadway. Kind and steady, David is everything Tess lacked in her own childhood—but a recent freak accident has left him with befuddling symptoms, and she’s still adjusting to her new role as caretaker.

Meanwhile, Tazio—who once had a knack for earning the kind of attention that Cooper Union students long for—has left the art world for a career in creative branding and politics. But in December 2016, fresh off the astonishing loss of his candidate, Tazio is adrift, and not even his gorgeous and accomplished fiancée, Angelica, seems able to get through to him. With tensions rising on the national stage, the four friends are forced to face the reality of their shared histories, especially a long-ago betrayal that has shaped every aspect of their friendship.

Elegant and perceptive, The Body Politic explores the meaning of commitment, the nature of forgiveness, the way that buried secrets will always find their way to the surface, and how all of it can shift—and eventually erupt—over the course of a life.

All the buy links for The Body Politic are below!

Add ‘The Body Politic‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘The Body Politic‘ here:

*Purchase ‘The Body Politic‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Brian Platzer is the author of BED-STUY IS BURNING (’17) and THE BODY POLITIC (’20) from Atria/Simon & Schuster, and THE TAKING THE STRESS OUT OF HOMEWORK (’20) from Avery/Penguin Random House. Brian has an MFA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and a BA from Columbia University. His writing has appeared often in the New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as in the New York Times, The New Republic, Salon, and elsewhere. He lives with his wife and two young sons in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, teaches middle school English in Manhattan, and suffers from chronic dizziness.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads and Twitter.

[BOOK REVIEW] The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo @ClaireLombardo #TheMostFunWeEverHad

There’s something about family dramas/dysfunctional families that immediately catches my attention but even so I’m very picky because I prefer family dramas set during a longer period of time because I feel like they cover more ground and get more precise or dissect the family better. The Most Fun We Ever Had was that book, it ticked all of the boxes for me. Family life in itself isn’t that much fun but adding to it the ‘getting into the psyche of the characters’, discussing certain topics over decades is what makes it fascinating (at least to me). The Most Fun We Ever Had offers so much brain food with the topics it discusses (familial bonds, affairs, adoption etc) and that’s what I appreciated a lot.

The story revolves around Marilyn and David Sorenson and their four children. It goes from the present (2010s+) where we get to see an ‘arrival of a newcomer’ to the past (1970s+) where we get the story of Marilyn and David. The way Lombardo switches from past to present is gorgeous, she manages to keep us in the loop on all happenings which I appreciated while reading. The way Lombardo writes about siblings is so accurate and fascinating. While reading I highlighted many quotes and my copy is filled with sticky notes. The perception of children is something I was surprised to see in the book whilst reading and it’s something I loved because oftentimes we’re oblivious to how much information children absorb and how much of that information stays with them like a scar, etched in their brain. The main topic of the novel is love. Sibling love, spousal love, parental love. It all stems from Marilyn and David and it was so interesting reading about how their daughters lives are followed by their love. Each one is aware that Marilyn and David are something else, something special, that their love is something special. Their daughters are Wendy, a widow and a bit of a drunk, Liza, an educator who’s pregnant but not sure if the man she’s with is the right one, Violet, a retired litigator who has a new role as a housewife with two boys and Grace, a college-aged youngest daughter who hasn’t been telling the truth to her family. Lombardo presents the reader with a lot of information but does it in a way that isn’t overwhelming because you find yourself wanting to know that information, even more than what you’re presented with.

The novel as a whole works beautifully and presents the Sorensons in all their glory – their failures, hopes and more. I couldn’t stay away from the Sorensons because I always wanted to know more, to get another peek at their lives.

This review is a bit of a mess I believe so moral of the story – read it! If you love family dramas this is a MUST READ.

My rating:

Add ‘The Most Fun We Ever Had‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘The Most Fun We Ever Had‘ here:

*Purchase ‘The Most Fun We Ever Had‘ here:

*Purchase ‘The Most Fun We Ever Had‘ with free international delivery here:

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Claire Lombardo is a fiction writer, teacher, and Post-It enthusiast. Her debut novel, The Most Fun We Ever Hadwas released in June 2019 and debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List. It has been translated or is forthcoming in over a dozen languages, and is currently being adapted for a series on HBO with Laura Dern and Amy Adams co-producing and Lombardo writing.

Claire is a 2017 graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and has been the recipient of an Iowa Arts Fellowship, a Sun Valley Writers’ Conference Fellowship, and a Key West Literary Seminar Scholarship. She has taught fiction writing at the University of Iowa and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. Her short fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from, among others, PlayboyBarrelhouse Magazine, Little Fiction, and LongformHer short story, “I Only Want to Talk About the Nice Things,” was one of 2016’s Best of the Net, and was #1 on Longform‘s 2015 fiction list.

Find her on: Website, Goodreads and Twitter.

[BOOK REVIEW] Schrödinger’s Dog by Martin Dumont transl. John Cullen @otherpress

Schrödinger’s Dog is Martin Dumont’s debut novel. Told in first person it follows Yanis, a cabdriver, who is a single parent to Pierre. In the early days when Pierre was younger his dad used to take him everywhere in his taxi and they had fun together – but the one thing they both love most  is diving. Their mutual love for diving is something they both come back to even now when Pierre is in his twenties. Yanis mostly works nights as a cabdriver so that he can have time to see his son during the day. Pierre has friends, he goes out and Yanis can’t always watch him carefully. Yanis and Pierre are great divers, Pierre (because of his age) is even better than Yanis and can last longer underwater. One day when diving Pierre complains that his back hurts and that they should stop – this is worrisome to Yanis because Pierre never complains when it comes to diving. From this moment on, Pierre begins to get worse and ends up in hospital. Yanis does his best to help his son, but at what cost?

Schrödinger’s Dog is a short book but a powerful one. The writing style in it is gorgeous so kudos to the translator! The chapters are relatively short so you can definitely read it in a few hours but the story inside is quite sad. I found Yanis to be so dedicated to helping his son and I loved that about him. I feel like his actions could be justified because if a person is brought into that situation they’d always do things to make their loved ones feel better. I really loved hearing Yanis talk about the times spent together with his son as well as Yanis’ descriptions of what diving means to him, how it transports him. Ah, that ending…

Definitely recommend.

I would like to thank the publisher (Other Press) for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book from the publisher.

My rating:

Add ‘Schrödinger’s Dog‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘Schrödinger’s Dog‘ here:

*Purchase ‘Schrödinger’s Dog‘ with free international delivery here:

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Martin Dumont was born in Paris in 1988 and spent many years in Brittany, where he fell in love with the sea. In addition to writing, he works as a naval architect. Schrödinger’s Dog is his first novel.

John CullenJohn Cullen is the translator of many books from Spanish, French, German, and Italian, including Susanna Tamaro’s Follow Your Heart, Philippe Claudel’s Brodeck, Carla Guelfenbein’s In the Distance with You, Juli Zeh’s Empty Hearts, Patrick Modiano’s Villa Triste, and Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation. He lives on the Shoreline in southern Connecticut.

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK EXTRACT] Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson @FaberBooks @PeterSwanson3

Today is my stop on the RULES FOR PERFECT MURDERS blog tour! I am sharing with you a short extract of the book.

EXTRACT

The waiter was hovering, so we both ordered. Agent Mulvey got the eggs Florentine. I wasn’t hungry but ordered two poached eggs on toast, with fresh fruit on the side. After we ordered, she said, “This has me thinking about rules.” “What do you mean, ‘rules’?” “Okay,” she said, and thought for a moment. “If I was the one who had set myself this task…… this goal of committing the eight murders that you described in your list, then it would be helpful to set some guidelines. Some rules. Do you copy the murders exactly? Or the idea behind the murders? How similar do they have to be?” “So, you think the rules dictate that the murderer adheres as closely as possible to the actual murders in the book?” “No, not the details of the murders, but the philosophies behind them. It’s almost as though the murderer is testing these books in real life. If the idea was simply to mimic the books, then you could just shoot someone in a country house library and call it a day. Or, for the A.B.C. Murders, you’d actually copy them exactly. You know, nd someone named Abby Adams who lived in Acton and kill her first, et cetera. But it’s not just about that, it’s about doing them right. There are rules.”

What are your thoughts on the extract? Let me know in the comments!

Add ‘Rules for Perfect Murders‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Rules for Perfect Murders‘ here:

*Purchase ‘Rules for Perfect Murders‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Peter Swanson is the author of four novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, All the Beautiful Lies. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK EXTRACT] Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones #SilverSparrow @OneworldNews @tayari

I’m excited to share an extract of SILVER SPARROW by Tayari Jones with you all. I loved her book AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE + this one sounds so good!

EXTRACT

What are your thoughts on the extract? Let me know in the comments!

Add ‘Silver Sparrow‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Silver Sparrow‘ here:

*Purchase ‘Silver Sparrow‘ with free international delivery here:

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, February 2018). Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Silver Sparrow was named a #1 Indie Next Pick by booksellers in 2011, and the NEA added it to its Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is currently an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.

Find her on: Website and Goodreads.

[BOOK EXTRACT] None the Wiser (Detective Mark Turpin #1) by Rachel Amphlett @rachelamphlett

Hello everyone! This is a new segment where I post a spotlight of a book and share an extract of it. I’ve been asked by the lovely author to share an extract which I expected gladly because I know many of you enjoy reading her books and love mystery/thriller books as well. This is the first book in the Detective Mark Turpin series. I hope you enjoy the extract!

EXTRACT

None the Wiser
(Detective Mark Turpin, book 1)
© Rachel Amphlett

Chapter 1

Seamus Carter dropped to his knees.
His voice was little more than a murmur, rising and falling with the rhythm of the prayer.
Exhaustion threatened, and he tried to take strength from the subtext, a momentary sense of calm easing the guilt that had gnawed away at him for days.He kept his eyes closed in meditation a while longer, savouring the tentative peace that enveloped him.
No-one would disturb him.
He was alone – the pub that stood on the other side of the boundary wall with his church had a live band playing tonight. He had heard the thumping bass line as he had been praying, and none of his parishioners were likely to visit at this time of night.
Easing himself from a kneeling position, he genuflected as he gazed up at the wooden crucifix above the altar, and then bowed his head in a final, silent prayer.
Seamus blinked, his trance-like state leaving him as soon as he moved away from the altar.
Despite his efforts, the self-loathing remained, and he scowled.
It wasn’t meant to be like this.
He stomped along the aisle towards the vestry, reached into his pocket for a bubble pack of antacids, then popped and swallowed two.
His thoughts turned to the Sunday morning service, and the uplifting sermon he wasstruggling to write.
The events of the previous week had shaken him, and he needed to excuse his fear.
Addressing the congregation would be a tincture, a way to soothe the wound that had been opened.
Crossing the remaining length of the nave, he pushed through the door to his office and sank into the hard wooden chair at his desk. It faced the wall, a plain wooden cross above his head.
The room had no windows, which he preferred. The setting enabled him to meditate upon his words as he crafted carefully phrased sentences to spread the word of his God.
He tapped the trackpad on the laptop, and, as the screen blinked to life, he manoeuvred the cursor over the music app, selected a compilation of violin sonatas, and closed his eyes as the music washed over him.
He smiled.
Two years ago, the church cleaner had entered the room and emitted a sharp, shocked gasp at the loud trance music emanating from the computer. After he’d calmed her and tried to convince her that, often, his best sermons were written at one hundred and twenty beats per minute, she’d continued with her dusting, although she’d eyed him warily. He’d resisted the urge to educate her musical tastes further with the progressive rock of 1970s Pink Floyd.
Seamus read through the words he had typed an hour ago, and frowned. He deleted the last sentence, cracked his knuckles and then stabbed two fingers at the keyboard in an attempt to convey the thoughts that troubled him.
Perhaps in sharing his own foibles, he would find retribution.
The stack of paperwork at his elbow fluttered as a cold breeze slapped against the back of his neck, and he rubbed the skin, his eyes never leaving the screen.
He would check all the doors and windows before leaving tonight, but now he had found his flow, the sermon was almost complete.
A shuffling noise reached his ears before he became aware of someone standing behind him, a moment before a rope snaked around his neck.
Seamus lashed out in fear, shoving the chair backwards. Terror gripped him as the noose grew taut.
A gloved hand slapped his right ear, sending shards of pain into his skull, and he cried out in pain as his assailant moved into view.
Black mask, black sweatshirt, black jeans.
‘There’s money in the box in the filing cabinet over there. My wallet is in my trouser pocket.’
Before he could recover from the shock, his right wrist was fastened to the arm of the chair with a plastic tie.
His left fist flailed, then Seamus cried out as he was punched in the balls, all the air rushing from his lungs in one anguished gasp.
He panted as his left wrist was secured to the chair, and tried to focus his thoughts.
‘What do you want?’
The words dried on his lips as he heard the warble in his rasping voice, the unsteadiness that betrayed the lie.
Eyes glared at him from slits within a black hood, but no words came.
Instead, the figure moved behind him.
Bile rose in his throat as the rope tightened under his Adam’s apple.
‘Help!’
His cry was instinctive, desperate – and useless.
Restricted by the rope around his neck, his voice was little more than a croak, broken and shattered.
He twisted in his seat, nostrils flaring as he tugged at the ties that bound his wrists to the arms of the chair.
He couldn’t move.
He gagged, struggling to swallow.
Without warning, the rope jerked, forcing his chin towards the ceiling and burning his throat.
A single tear rolled over his cheek as a wetness formed between his legs, heat rising to his face while his attacker crouched at the back of the chair, securing the rope.
He had known it would come to this, one day.
The figure said nothing, and edged around his body, peering into his eyes before raising a knife to Seamus’s face.
A gloved hand gripped his jaw, forcing his mouth open as the priest panted for air.
The blade traced around each eye socket, millimetres away from his face.
I don’t want to die.
His eyes bulged as the knife moved to his cheek, his plea little more than a whimper.
Seamus gagged at the rope cutting into his neck, fighting against the pressure in his lungs.
I can’t breathe.
A searing pain tore into his tongue, slicing through sinew and tendons before the knife flashed in front of his eyes, blood dripping from the blade, and, as Seamus’s body convulsed, the figure before him began to speak.
‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…’

What do you think of it? Let me know below in the comments!

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Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a film extra and freelanced in radio as a presenter and producer for the BBC. She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and is a USA Todaybestselling author of crime fiction and spy thrillers, many of which have been translated worldwide. A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian citizenship.

Find her on: Website, Twitter and Goodreads.

[BOOK EXTRACT] The Pharmacist by Justin David @Justin_Writer @InkandescentUK #ThePharmacist

I’m very excited to share with you today an extract of Justin David’s The Pharmacist! 

EXTRACT

At last, together in the same space, Billy drinks red wine with his new friend. It’s as if they have always known each other. In this short space of time, he’s learned that Albert’s favourite authors are Genet and Proust, that he never eats red meat on a Sunday and that he once had dinner with Dusty Springfield.
Billy stands in the open bay window where Albert had stood earlier. He wonders where Jamie could have got to. Maybe he’d had to work after all. This is happening more frequently since he started that blasted job at the Walter’s Gallery. He’s so good at his job, they just want more and more of him. The thought lingers at the back of his throat like a bit of dry bread until he washes it down with a zealous gulp of red wine.
Cradling the glass, he leans out into the sunshine, intermittently eyeing up a neighbour washing his car. The street is ablaze with gold and green—dappled sunlight pushing through the gaps in the foliage of the sycamores lining the street. Albert stands, holding the bottle of red wine. ‘Vada the bona dish on the omi-palone!’ he says, extending every vowel sound, curling his words like ornate calligraphy. He’s come to stand next to Billy, to stare down at the neighbour. The palm of Albert’s hand gently rests on his back, warmth spreading through the fabric of his vest. Billy turns and presses his arse against the windowsill. ‘Eh?’
Albert pours more wine into Billy’s almost empty glass. ‘I said, look at the rear end on that gorgeous queen.’ Albert puts the bottle down and gulps his wine.
It takes Billy a moment to register. ‘Ah, Polari. I haven’t heard that for ages,’ he says, but still feels a little bewildered. ‘Who?’
‘That guy next door.’ Albert nods his head towards the man in the street. ‘Don’t pretend. I saw you. Couldn’t take your eyes off him.’
Billy looks over his shoulder at the man who has dropped his sponge and now has his mobile phone clamped to the side of his face. He’s sneering and flaring his nostrils, looking busy. He takes lots of very quick, small steps, down the tree-lined street, shoulders pivoting forwards and backwards. After having been misled by an image of butch masculinity, this little display makes them both giggle. Billy turns back to see Albert smiling to himself, walking across the room to throw his hat on a coat stand. ‘Dolly capello, old fruit,’ Billy says, complimenting Albert on his hat. They both suddenly crack into laughter, surprised but united now, across the generation gap, by the ancient gentleman’s slang.
For a moment there’s a silence in which they stand looking at each other. ‘So, what do you do?’ Albert finally says.
The question makes Billy squirm. He ponders a second before announcing, ‘I’m an artist.’ He knows if he’s ever going to live the life he wants he must get used to defining himself so. It seems such an airy-fairy thing to say—not really a proper job.
‘I knew you had to be a painter. First time I met you, in the hall, I smelt the turps. Though, I suppose when I saw you loitering in the flower market, from the way you were dressed, I thought you might have owned one of those trendy art galleries on Columbia Road.’
‘You saw me?’ Billy acts surprised, but of course he knows that Albert had seen him that day. He covers a smile with his hand.
‘Oh come off it. You were watching me!’ Albert teases. ‘You even nodded at me.’ His eyes glint and his cheeks flush pink perhaps with the wine. ‘But didn’t you say you were on holiday, the other day?’
Billy explains that he works part-time for an arts trust.
‘Must be difficult,’ Albert says. ‘Working in an office as well as fitting in your creative activities.’
He’s relaxed, even though the old man continues to fire question after question at him. There seems nothing guarded about Albert. From the outside, who would guess they only just met?
Billy looks around the room. It’s a large space with bare floorboards and a thick rag rug in the middle. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves run along the left-hand side of the bay window. In front of the window there’s a tatty cream chaise longue, and in the corner, to the right, a writing bureau, on top of which sits an emerald green glass vase, containing eight bright pink gerberas. Billy counts each stalk and wonders if Albert has always chosen that colour.
‘I’m easing myself into the painting again,’ Billy says. ‘But no doubt just as I build enough momentum to work towards the next show, I’ll run out of money and be back to the grind.’
‘Got to stay positive, Billy. You’ll make it work.’
Billy continues to gaze around the room. In front of the bookshelves, there is a well-worn ox-blood leather Chesterfield and a standard lamp with a dusty cream shade. On a glass-topped coffee table sit a few books and a scattering of magazines. Some of them are pornographic, which strikes Billy as rather unusual. Is Albert too lazy to clear up, or is he making a statement?
‘But you’ll continue to paint?’
Billy nods. ‘Right! That’s enough,’ he says, flopping down onto the Chesterfield, halting further interrogation. ‘You’ve been quizzing me ever since I arrived. What about you?’
‘Me? I’m an open book. Not all that interesting, mind.’ Albert bites his bottom lip as if to feign shyness. ‘I am all your failed expectations in a man,’ he says sadly. Billy lifts the bottle of wine and Albert pushes his glass towards him. He pours two more glasses and Albert swallows almost half of his in one gulp.
‘Well, you must have a pretty pension to keep this place on. What did you do? I mean work-wise—for a living?’
‘Life doesn’t cost a lot now. There’s no mortgage on this place. But there are no savings and no pension either, only what I get from the state and that’s next to nothing. I’ve done some acting. Used to be a singer. All a blur now. I managed a very nice restaurant in Soho, once. But mainly, I just got by.’
‘Just got by?’ Billy questions. ‘I can hear the jangle of old money in your voice.’ 
‘Darling Boy!’ Albert says, pointing his finger. ‘You must not make assumptions about people based on the way they speak.’
‘I had you down as an aristocrat. Blue blood.’
‘We’re not all high fliers, Billy. I’m just a survivor.’
‘Well at least you have your home. How are you surviving?’     
Albert pauses in contemplation. Billy doesn’t know much about him, but he senses Albert is about to open up. ‘Billy, I hardly know you. But I feel we have a connection.’
‘Me too.’ Billy gives him a sexy little smile, confirming a mutual trust.
‘Okay, well if you can keep a secret…’
‘I thought you were an open book?’ Billy sits forward keenly.
‘Everyone has things that they keep to themselves.’ Albert slumps next to Billy on the Chesterfield and starts to talk, slurring his words a little. ‘I think it’s really important, at whatever cost, to be true to oneself. I hate spending my time in drag for other people’s convenience.’ Albert sloshes back more wine. ‘I mean drag in terms of putting on a performance. You know, like wearing a mask, covering up the self.
‘This is the way I see it. Most folks want to get married and have babies. So they have a baby, and they do everything they can to mould it, shape it, and dress it into what they think it should be. And they set this child on a path towards where they think it should be going.
‘You know, one is lucky if you grow up feeling comfortable being that person, being that shape, being on that path. And you can forget to think for yourself. One can get so far down that path with the job and the wife and the car, that before you know it, the whole process starts again, of making more babies to mould and shape, mould and shape… and oh…’ He pauses and swallows, then continues almost without drawing breath. ‘But for some of us, no matter how hard we try, we just don’t fit a particular shape. And we start thinking for ourselves. And we come to a fork in the road. And you just know you’ve got to make this choice, because when you’re different, if you wear those clothes and stay on that path, when you know you really should be somewhere else, then you’re just doing drag. Do you see what I’m talking about Billy?’
Billy is completely absorbed. ‘I think so. Yeah. But I don’t really understand what this has to do with money?’
‘Well, when you make that choice, when you take that fork in the road, you might have to turn around to your folks and say, ‘Yes, thanks for that. But no.’ With that, you’re on your own. Surviving means you might end up doing things you had never expected.’
Billy waits for a moment, expecting a punch line. ‘So come on then. What’s your secret?’
Albert turns to Billy and looks directly at him. ‘I’m in pharmaceuticals.’
Billy narrows his eyes at Albert.
‘You ever go dancing?’
‘God—all the time,’ Billy says.
‘You knowThe Palais? On Kingsland Road?’
‘Yeah. Been there lots of times. There’s a fantastic Trance night on Fridays.’
Albert’s eyes widen. ‘You’ve never seen me there?’
‘You?’
‘Yes, me, strangely enough! Old man in a Panama. Impossible to miss.’
‘No.’
‘I deal drugs in there.’
Billy feels his chin drop. ‘You’re kidding?’
‘Close your mouth, Billy. You look like you’re trying to catch flies.’ Albert swallows more wine.
‘I don’t understand.’
‘It’s not hard, Billy. Every Friday night I go to The Palais and I sell drugs to the clubbers.’
‘What kind of drugs?’
‘What kind of drugs do you think? Coke, speed, pills. A little bit of acid sometimes, but mainly E’s.’
‘Albert… you’re an old man,’ Billy says.
‘Thank you for pointing that out.’
Billy rolls around, uncoiling in his place on the Chesterfield. ‘Well, of course—a very well-preserved old man,’ he giggles.
Albert smiles, his eyes sparkling, full of danger.
Billy sits quietly staring at him, pondering the old man for several minutes. Albert smiles back without complaint, until Billy asks, ‘What are E’s like?’
‘You mean you’ve never done one?’ Albert runs his fingers through silver hair.
‘Never done anything, except a bit of grass.’ Billy looks at the clock on Albert’s bureau. They have been chatting for hours. An empty bottle of wine stands on the coffee table and a second, half empty, is in Albert’s hand refilling Billy’s glass. The sunlight is changing. It’s lower now and passes through the window, causing Billy’s wine glass to sparkle like a giant ruby.
‘I thought you said you’d been to The Palaison a Friday night?’
‘I have, but I’ve never done an E.’
‘You? A man in his twenties, dancing around half-naked in The Palais, never done an E?’
Billy laughs. ‘Well, I suppose, in the past, my attention was mainly on my work. The students who did drugs at art college didn’t get first class degrees. It would have been no good, me doing drugs. I can’t even open a box of chocolates without finishing the lot.’
‘Ha. I see. But most people who hang out on the club scene, especially those of your age, have tried it at least once. Part of the territory.’
Billy shrugs. ‘Never been offered.’
‘Never lived.’ Albert chuckles and strokes Billy’s head.
Billy is alert like a boy on his first day of school. ‘Tell me what it’s like,’ he says, lightening the tone of his voice, playing innocent. He kicks off his trainers, falls back onto the sofa and breathes in sun-warmed leather.
‘Hard to say. Like nothing you’ve ever felt in your life. Like being in a dream state.’ Albert flutters his hands in the air, pretending to scatter fairy dust. When his hand drops, it falls casually onto Billy’s shoulder. Billy allows it to rest there.
‘Can’t you be more specific? Dream state? Call yourself a drug dealer?’
‘I’m an expert on all drugs,’ Albert says. He undoes the top buttons of his shirt and removes his cravat. For a man of his age, Billy notes, his skin is in very good condition—only a slight sagginess where one might expect to see a more developed dewlap. His strong jawline reminds Billy of Marlon Brando. ‘I’ve never ingested any substance without first knowing about all the highs and the side effects. But with E, the experience is slightly different for everyone. Generally, with ecstasy, it’s all about empathy. If people around you are enjoying themselves, chances are, you’ll pick up on that vibe.’
‘They make you feel horny, don’t they?’ Billy asks, still playing dumb.
‘Yes. There’s that too.’ Albert smiles.
A July breeze of warm air moves through the open window. Sounds float in from the street—birdsong, traffic, the wind through the trees.
‘What else? People die, don’t they?’
‘There are risks, I suppose, but really, the few deaths that have occurred have been the result of carelessness. Overheating, or else over-hydration and all that stuff.’
‘You trying to sell to me?’   
‘Darling Boy, I’m not a drug pusher. I sell to those who use them. If you want to try one, you are more than welcome.’
Billy is surprised by this suggestion. A man of his age, sitting around popping Es, seemed unconventional to say the least. ‘Don’t you worry about stuff?’
‘Like what?’ Albert says, clearing his throat.
‘Short-term memory loss. Alzheimer’s. You read things, don’t you?’
‘When you reach my state of decrepitude, you stop worrying. Look at me, I’m seventy. Nothing wrong with my memory. And, Darling Boy, for every brain cell that has died, a new door has opened to a magical world.’
There’s a wry twinkle in Albert’s eye. ‘People who do drugs always say stuff like that,’ Billy says, deliberately juvenile.
‘I’ve explored corners of my mind which would’ve been otherwise unreachable. It has helped me to recall events from my childhood with incredible clarity.’
‘What about the hard stuff? Done that?’
‘I’ve done everything,’ Albert says.
Billy rubs the insides of his legs in anticipation. ‘Everything?’
‘We live in a chemical world, Billy Monroe. Everyone needs some kind of medicine.’ Billy forgives him the use of his surname. It makes him feel like a pupil being addressed by a teacher but he knows that Albert is playing his game.
‘What for?’ Billy asks.
‘When I’m tired, I snort a little speed. When I’m restless, I have a bit of pot. And if I’m feeling stuck. I mean, if I feel troubled by something, I’ll smoke a bit of opium to help me get through it. If I can’t sleep, I slip a little something in my tea.’
‘Speed? When you’re tired?’
Albert shrugs. ‘From time to time. Gets the vacuuming done.’
‘Albert Power!’ There, switching roles—he’s equal now. ‘You must have a liver like a piece of leather.’ He sits forward, trembling.
Albert stands, moves to the writing bureau, pulls open the front and lifts out a tiny bag of white tablets, shaking out a handful before disappearing through a beaded curtain into the kitchen. A moment later, he returns with two pint glasses of water and sits down next to Billy. Albert places his hand over the table and lets the tablets fall onto the glass surface. For a moment, Billy looks at them. Then he leans and picks one up, rolls it between his thumb and forefinger and examines its tiny logo.
‘Mitsubishi. Bona doobs!’
‘Eh?’ Billy misses the slang again.
‘Don’t you know your Polari, Darling Boy? Doobs. Drugs. These are good ones. Pure MDMA. Lovely trip.’
Billy’s mobile phone buzzes in his pocket. He pulls it out to read the text message. It’s from Jamie.
Really sorry, Billy. Had to work late.
I’m not going to make it.
Billy frowns and stuffs the phone back in his jeans.
‘Problem?’ Albert asks.
‘Not at all.’ He smiles coyly, puts the pill to his mouth, lets it touch his tongue. ‘It tastes bitter,’ he says, pulling a face.
‘Swallow it.’
The glass of water trembles in Billy’s hands. Albert swallows his pill and smiles. ‘See? Not dead yet.’

What do you think of it? Let me know below in the comments!

The Pharmacist is available from Amazon, Gay’s the Word & www.inkandescent.co.uk 

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Add ‘The Pharmacist‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase the ebook version of ‘The Pharmacist‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Justin David is a writer and photographer. A child of Wolverhampton, he has lived and worked in East London for most of his adult life. He graduated from the MA Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, has read at Paul Burston’s literary salon, Polari at Royal Festival Hall, and is a founder member of Leather Lane Writers. His writing has appeared in many print and online anthologies and his debut novella was published by Salt as part of their Modern Dreams series.

Justin is one half of Inkandescent–a new publishing venture with his partner, Nathan Evans. Their first offering, Threads, featuring Nathan’s poetry and Justin’s photography, was long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. It was supported using public funding by Arts Council England and is available in paperback and ebook.

Find him on: Website, Twitter and Goodreads.

[BOOK EXTRACT] The Only Living Witness by by Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth #TheOnlyLivingWitness @TheMirrorBooks

Today is my blog tour stop for The Only Living Witness. I was supposed to be posting a review but due to my current health issues I’m not able to do so. I think that I’m cursed when it comes to blog tours! Something always happens or comes up..

I’m providing you with an extract of the book so you can get a little taste of what’s inside!

Chapter Two

 

No one seemed to notice that he was different, not like other children. His Aunt Julia would later report some scary episodes with knives, but otherwise he looked and acted like any other kid. He believed in Santa Claus, hated vegetables, and some-times-imagined ogres and scaly things crouching in his closet, waiting for night to fall.
But he was haunted by something else: a fear, a doubt – sometimes only a vague uneasiness – that inhabited his mind with the subtlety of a cat. He felt it for years and years, but he didn’t recognize it for what it was until much later. By then this flaw, the rip in his psyche, had become the locus of a cold homicidal rage.
He was born to a prim, modest department store clerk, the eldest of three daughters in the family of a Philadelphia nurseryman. Her story has always been that in 1946, fresh out of high school, she was seduced by Jack Worthington, a rakish veteran of the recent war, who hinted to her of an old-money pedigree. At least that’s what she claimed. Much later, family members would express open doubts about this story, directing a defense psychiatrist’s attention to Louise’s violent, possibly deranged, father, Samuel Cowell.
Whatever the truth, Louise was pregnant in an era not congenial to single young women in such a predicament. Nor was she insulated from her problem by family means. She braved her way through the first seven months of her term, before traveling north to the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. On November 24, 1946, she gave birth to her love child. Louise called him Theodore. She had always liked that name.
Just before his fourth birthday, Teddy and his mother left Philadelphia to join her uncle and his family in Tacoma, Washington. Ted told us that the move upset him. Either as a deliberate falsehood, or due to some trick of memory, he described his early days in Philadelphia as an idyll, saying he loved his grandfather Cowell and the comfortable old house where the family all lived together. He said he didn’t understand why he and Louise had to go live with great-uncle Jack, why Louise needed to get away, to start a new life. In light of what the family would later disclose, Ted’s recall becomes a mystery in itself.
He hated Tacoma at first. After Philadelphia, the Puget Sound mill town seemed raw and impermanent to him – just a jumble of ugly brown and gray buildings on a hillside jutting out into the frigid salt water of Puget Sound. Ted would outgrow his initial distaste for his new home, but he never got over an arrogant disdain for anything he regarded as common. This attitude was linked to how he felt about himself, his deep self-doubt, and also to his later conviction that life had wronged him.
Jack Cowell was only a few years older than his niece, Louise, and Teddy always called him uncle. A music professor at Tacoma’s College of Puget Sound, Uncle Jack was a man of both accomplishment and refinement. His gleaming dark piano, the classical music that filled the house, his air of cultivation, drew Teddy to him. Early on, he decided to pattern himself on Uncle Jack.
Louise went to work as a secretary at the Council of Churches office in downtown Tacoma. There she was befriended by a female coworker who coaxed the tentative newcomer into attending young adult nights at the First Methodist Church. One evening, Louise was introduced to John Culpepper Bundy, known as Johnnie, a soft-spoken native North Carolinian who recently had mustered out of the Navy in nearby Bremerton.
Johnnie’s drawl made him seem a little slow, a serious drawback as far Teddy would be concerned. He was unlettered, and his prospects in life were those of a modest southern country boy. With his Navy hitch over, Johnnie had decided to stay in the northwest. He found a job as a cook in a Veterans Administration hospital a few miles south of Tacoma. It turned out to be his life’s work.
From the start, Johnnie and Louise saw something special in each other. Johnnie was steady and uncomplicated, and he fulfilled Louise’s first and ultimate requirement by accepting both her and her son. She was also drawn to his mild disposition, although her son Teddy would later learn the consequences of provoking his quiet stepfather.
For Johnnie, Louise was a gentle, God-fearing woman whose history began on the night they met. He didn’t ask questions, and Louise did not go into details. From what Ted told us of his boyhood, he seems to have tried to block Johnnie, the interloper, from his mind. Clearly, Johnnie’s presence upset him. Ted remembered staging a scene in a Sears store parking lot and wetting his pants. He conceded that this tantrum and others probably were a result of his jealousy over Louise, and his fear that Johnnie’s advent would further disrupt his world.
Louise miscarried the summer following her May 1951 marriage to Johnnie. Then a daughter, Linda, was born in the last part of 1952. Here was another confusing mystery for Teddy. He didn’t know where babies came from or how they were made. But he knew it had something to do with Johnnie, and he believed throughout his entire life that Louise suffered a good deal at Linda’s birth. According to his mother, however, the pregnancy was uneventful.
Ted also told us that it was around this time that his parents broke him of the habit of crawling into bed with them when he grew frightened in the middle of the night.
The earliest evidence of Ted’s behavior outside the family comes from his first grade teacher, Mrs. Oyster. According to Louise, Teddy was very fond of Mrs. Oyster. On his report card, the teacher wrote Louise that Teddy grasped the numbers 1 through 20, knew the meaning of 100, was at ease before the class, and expressed himself well. Ted told us he was “unset-tled” when Mrs. Oyster left to have a baby and was replaced by a substitute teacher.

What do you think of it? Let me know below in the comments!

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Add ‘The Only Living Witness‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘The Only Living Witness‘ here:

*Purchase ‘The Only Living Witness‘ with free international delivery here:

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Stephen G. Michaud has written extensively on criminal justice topics. His previous books include Lethal Shadow, a study of sexual sadism, and The Only Living Witness, an acclaimed portrait of serial killer Ted Bundy that the New York Daily News listed as one of the ten best true-crime books ever.

Four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, bureau chief of both Newsweek and the Washington Times, and investigative team leader for ABC’s 20/20, Hugh Aynesworth was a thirty-two-year-old reporter for the Dallas Morning News when JFK’s visit to Dallas ended in tragedy. His coverage of the assassination, the trial of Jack Ruby, and the conspiracy flurry that followed earned him two Pulitzer nominations and recognition as one of the most respected authorities on the Kennedy assassination.