[BLOG TOUR: GUEST POST] Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen @annecarter @orendabooks

Hello everyone, today I am very excited to share a guest post by the editor for Orenda Books, West Camel.

When PI Varg Veum is approached to find a missing girl, by a half-sister he barely knew, his investigation takes him deep into the dark web, and some personal history he’d rather forget…

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers on the hunt for a group of people whose dark deeds are hidden by the anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal…

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

Guest post by Orenda Books Editor, West Camel

In a typical Varg Veum novel, Gunnar Staalesen invites the reader inside the office of his private investigator, and from there she accompanies him as he seeks out the truth of whatever case has been brought to his door.

It is a classic crime-fiction format: the reader is privy to as much information as the investigator, follows his thinking and has the opportunity to pit her wits against him … or can just sit back and admire as he untangles the plot. However, Staalesen also uses the form to create an intimate relationship between the reader and VV. Over the course of twenty books we have come to know his strengths and failings, the delights and tragedies that have shaped him, and, probably most importantly, the unique mind of one of the most compelling characters in crime fiction.

But how can English-speaking readers become as acquainted as Norwegians with such a specific person – a Norwegian man in late middle age, specifically from Bergen, sometime alcoholic, father, quasi-widower, ex-social worker, justice seeker and lone wolf (‘varg’ means ‘wolf’ in Norwegian)?

The answer is through a close working relationship between Staalesen, his translators – most recently, the great Don Bartlett – and his editors, of which I am one.

Staalesen has invested Varg with idiosyncratic spoken and internal dialogue. To lose any of this would itself be a crime; so it is up to Don, in conversation with Gunnar, and with the editor alongside, to recreate the flavour of the original Norwegian. The closing lines of the first chapter of Big Sister is the perfect example of how this works. Varg is musing on the renovations to his Bergen office, and how, while the building has changed considerably, his work and his attitude towards it hasn’t.

Everyone was welcome to bring whatever they had on their minds.It took a lot to surprise me. Unless they came from Haugesund and said they were my sister.

Thus, with characteristic deftness, economy and quiet humour, Gunnar introduces the main theme of the novel, creates narrative tension and gives us a completely new angle on his protagonist. And all of this has to be transmitted in English. In my conversations with Don, I’ve discovered he does this by getting to know Varg intimately – in the same way the reader ultimately will:how the voice reads in English is guided by Don’s understanding of Varg the man.

Varg Veum also has a close knowledge of his city, his country and its people, and has a clear take on social issues. Much of this comes from Staalesen himself. But he is writing for Norwegians, so a kind of shorthand is inevitable – Norwegians don’t need the finer points of their country’s welfare system, open tax records, drinking culture, or religious history explained to them. English speakers might be baffled though. And this is where the discussions between the editor and translator can become quite fervent.

In Big Sister a key character is resident at an institution run by something called the Inner Mission. This is an evangelical Christian group, originally from Germany. While it’s widely known in Norway, in the UK, other similar Christian groups are more prominent. My suggestion as an editor was to offer the reader a little explanation – in order that English readers were apprised of the religious nature of the group at the same point Norwegians were. For the translator too long an explanation sounded patronising: surely readers would grasp what the Inner Mission was – it’s well known in Norway, and in the US too. Elegant compromise – what much of translating and editing is about – was achieved. Two words of explanation were added to the text (see if you can find them!).

Big Sister represents Gunnar Staalesen at the peak of his powers. In my view Don Bartlett has done his usual sterling job of recreating this bravura performance … and I hope my input has helped it reach the hands of the English speaking reader intact.

I would like to thank West Camel for taking the time out of his schedule to write a guest post for Breathing Through Pages!

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. When Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen, and a host of Varg Veum memorabilia for sale. We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die were both international bestsellers.

Find him on: Website and Goodreads

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[BLOG TOUR: GUEST POST] The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo @annecarter @bg_writes_stuff

Hi guys! I am very happy to be a part of the blog tour for The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo and share with you a guest post by the author!

S Y N O P S I S

The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.

In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — BasilePerrinault and KanoaShinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.

The Gathering: The Soundtrack To My Book

By: Bernadette Giacomazzo

Different writers, no doubt, have different ways of getting inspired to write. Some work in perfect silence, some work with the radio on, some work with the television on, and still others work amidst the chaos and the rubble of typical city life.

For me, however, writing my book The Gathering – the first in a six-part dystopian fiction series called The Uprising series – involved listening to some music that shaped, not only the soundtrack of my life, but the direction of the book itself.

Before I wrote The Gathering, I was known as a non-fiction writer. Specifically, I’d made my name as an entertainment journalist, with my work featured in the likes of People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The NY Post, and a whole lot more.

But even before all those lovely credentials, I got my “big break” on the New York City rock music scene, and it was here that I heard some of the best music I’d ever heard in my life…music that holds up to this day, nearly 20 years after the fact. (Am I dating myself here?)

It was this music that I listened to as I wrote this book, and I even make some references to the music throughout the book.

For your reading – and listening! – pleasure, I’ve enclosed some of the songs here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Fixer – Home Again

Fixer was a four-piece rock band from New York City that played some “balls-to-the-wall” rock’n’roll that was a mix between Guns N’Roses and the New York Dolls. They would frequently close their concerts with this song, and it’s easy to see why.

https://www.shazam.com/track/58007582/home-again

Fixer – Tuxedo

When they didn’t end their show with “Home Again,” they would end it with this song. Incidentally, this song first premiered in an acoustic setting back on November 29, 2000 –my 23rd birthday – at CB’s Gallery, which was the acoustic offshoot of the legendary CBGB’s, and was literally right next door to the venerated rock venue.

https://www.shazam.com/track/58007580/tuxedo

Status Joe – Water to Wine

As good as Fixer was at the straight ahead rock’n’roll songs, they weren’t as good at the love songs. So, in the book, when Jamie/Ivan is singing his heart out to Angelique, he’s referencing this song from Long Island based band Status Joe. (Incidentally, the lead singer, Phil Richards, has a new band called Crash Transit.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJCIYSngJzM

I would like to thank Bernadette for taking the time out of her schedule to write a guest post for Breathing Through Pages! Make sure to check out other book bloggers on this blog tour!

Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen VoguePeopleUs WeeklyThe Los Angeles TimesThe New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.

Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

Find her on: Website and Twitter

(BLOG TOUR)[REVIEW+Q&A] The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

While scrolling through Twitter I stumbled upon a picture of a proof copy that had an interesting cover, it had no text but only a photograph of a house which made me very curious and immediately interested in it. I went on GoodReads to read the synopsis and I was SOLD. I sadly wasn’t able to get the proof with the house on the cover but managed to get a digital copy of the book with the amazing US cover. This is a really special memoir which still haunted me even after I finished reading it.

courtesy of panmacmillan

UK proof copy of ‘The Fact of a Body’

You’re out of Law school, you have decided to take on a summer job at a law firm to help defend men accused of murder, you have made this decision with a clear mind but upon reviewing the case video tapes of the man you’re supposed to help defend you freeze and something inside you changes and what comes to your mind now is hate and instantly you want this man to die – this is exactly what happened to the author of this book, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. At that moment she begins questioning everything that happened in her life, focusing on her past and how it has shaped her as a person as well as reviewing the case more and more and trying to find out the reason why this crime happened. That is basically all you need to know before getting into this book.

‘Grief takes root inside people.’

The story alternates from the past and the present as the author tries to paint a character study of Ricky Langley, his childhood, his adolescence and what drove him to commit this heinous crime. We also get the authors story as she revisists her past and focuses on the things that have left an impact on her today life. I have to say that the way Marzano-Lesnevich makes you feel somewhat empathetic towards Ricky, particularly the way his mind works, is very well done because she doesn’t make him a monster but a human being whose mind and emotional stability are fragile (but still twisted). The authors struggles and the trigger that Ricky Langley pulled into her mind which made her question her past were very raw and honest and they made this story even more gripping. A lot of themes are discussed in this story which I feel like I’ll ruin if I reveal them so go get this book and read it. After I finished reading the book I googled Ricky Langley and seeing a video of him describing his crime made me realise that this story is very real and has made an impact on many lives.

‘I have come to believe that every family has its defining action, its defining belief. From childhood, I understood that my parents’ was this: Never look back.’

This is a haunting story which in a way is very personal and that’s what makes it a compelling read and a book which any true crime/mystery/thriller lover should read.

***Warning: This memoir features child abuse and child molestation which may be a heavy/hard read for some readers. 

I would like to thank the US publisher (Flatiron Books), NetGalley and the author (Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich) for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

Check out other blog tour posts forThe Fact of a Body‘:

The Belgian Reviewer
Grab This Book
Keeper of Pages
Crime Worm
Liz Loves Books

You can read the first chapter of this book by clicking here.

Add ‘The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir‘ onto your TBR pile:  goodreads-logo-square

*Purchase ‘The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir‘ with free worldwide shipping: the_book_depository-svg

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

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir, which will be published by Flatiron Books (Macmillan) in May 2017. It is also forthcoming from publishers internationally. A National Endowment for the Arts fellow and Rona Jaffe Award recipient, she has twice been a fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo. Her essays appear in The New York Times, Oxford American, Iowa Review, and many other publications, and were recognized “notable” in Best American Essays 2013, 2015, and 2016. She earned her JD at Harvard and now teaches at Grub Street and in the graduate public policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Find her on: Website, Goodreads and Twitter.

Click the ‘continue reading’ to read the Q&A with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich plus the newspaper article images as well as other images from the case. Continue reading