Blog Tours · Books · Guest Post · James Swallow

Sarah’s Vignettes ~ Guest Post from James Swallow (@jmswallow): A Writer’s Soundtrack ~ #Shadow #BlogTour ~ @ZaffreBooks ~ @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Welcome to Sarah’s Vignettes stop on the blog tour for Shadow by James Swallow. Thank you to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of the tour.

I’m delighted to welcome James Swallow as a guest on the blog today. I noticed that James tweets a lot about the music he listens to when he is writing so I asked him if he would write a piece about his soundtrack for Shadow.

Before James tells us about about the Shadow soundtrack, here is what Shadow is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Things are about to go viral in Marc Dane’s most dangerous adventure yet . . .

Marc and his partner – former US Delta Force sniper Lucy Keyes – are pitted against their most terrifying challenge yet, when a genius bio-researcher with the ability to create a deadly biological weapon is kidnapped by a ruthless terrorist.

Their desperate search for the missing scientist takes them across the world, from the desolate wilderness of Iceland to the slums of the Near East and the dark underbelly of a fracturing Europe, where they will discover a shocking atrocity in the making.

Backed by shadowy interests, a cadre of hardline ultra-right-wing extremists plan to unleash a lethal virus among the population of a major European city.

Only Marc Dane can prevent this devastating attack from taking place – before a whole continent is plunged into terror…

~ A Writer’s Soundtrack by James Swallow ~

Sometimes, it has to be pin-drop quiet for me to get any writing done – and other times it can be noise all around, but I’m lost in the midst of my story. When my attention isn’t where it should to be, I need quiet in order to zero in on what I want to get down on the page – but when I’ve got my outline ready and all my narrative ducks in a row, a bit of musical accompaniment is exactly what I need to get me off the blocks.

Follow me on Twitter (at @jmswallow) and you’ll see I regularly post up my musical choices under the hashtag #writersoundtrack. My picks are usually something orchestral when I’m actually writing scenes, but when I’m out and about and thinking of characters and ideas, I’ll listen to songs that give me a sense of theme.

When I’m in my office in front of the keyboard, I go to my huge collection of classical music and film score albums, often queuing up a bunch of them into six hour playlists. Writing my Marc Dane action thrillers, it’s no surprise I gravitate to movie soundtracks in the same wheelhouse.

Here are some of my go-to composers (with my top picks for their scores):

  • James Newton Howard (Salt, The Bourne Legacy);
  • Christophe Beck (Edge of Tomorrow);
  • Hans Zimmer (Inception, Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises);
  • Steve Jablonsky (Deepwater Horizon, Skyscraper);
  • Daft Punk (Tron Legacy);
  • Reinhold Heil (Berlin Station, The International);
  • Lorne Balfe (The Sweeney, Mission Impossible: Fallout, The Hurricane Heist);
  • Etienne Forget (Missions);
  • Sarah Schachner (Anthem).

But as I noted above, writing a book isn’t just the putting down of words on the screen. There’s also the important effort spent nailing down plot ideas and working on characters. I find while on the train or on the runner at the gym is the best place for this, often with a driving playlist in my earbuds to propel me along – and with each book in the Marc Dane series, I went back to the same songs over and over, gradually creating a soundtrack for my characters, themes and locations.

Here’s my “virtual album” for Shadow, the latest of my thrillers now out in paperback, with a link to a YouTube playlist…

Open the video in Youtube to get the full playlist

Track 1 – “SHADOW Anthem”
The Drone Racing League – GUNSHIP
This hard-edged synthwave theme sets the tone for SHADOW’s hi-tech, hi-octane action narrative.

Track 2 – “Undercover / Rescue”
Dive For You – Boom Satellites
This dynamic number from a Japanese electronic rock duo cover the opening scenes where our undercover heroes turn the tables on their enemies.

Track 3 – “Club Skore”
Deep Impact – Dragon Ash (featuring Rappagariya)
Another track from the Far East, this time something loud and noisy from a rap-rock band to inspire the action taking place at a nightclub in Singapore.

Track 4 – “Basement Shoot-Out / Speedboat Chase”
Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix) – New Order
A long and driving track here to back up an extended gun fight and chase sequence.

Track 5 – “The Lion’s Roar”
Calm Like A Bomb – Rage Against The Machine
A character-inspired, rage-fuelled track to characterize SHADOW’s main villain.

Track 6 – “Welcome to Iceland”
Reykjavík – SYKUR
Icelandic rap music singing the praises of their capital city, from a band that was introduced to me while hiking glaciers during a research trip for this novel…

Track 7 – “Survive the Night”
Immigrant Song – Karen O (with Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)
A cover version of this Led Zeppelin classic to play over scenes where our heroes must fight through a freezing night on the ice.

Track 8 – “Chasing the Mule / Finding the Family”
Freya – The Sword
The hard rock track racks up the tension as Marc Dane chases down a man being forced to detonate a deadly bio-weapon, while his partner Lucy Keyes tries to rescue the man’s family in time to stop him.

Track 9 – “Endure”
Sledgehammer – Rihanna
This character theme underscores Lucy’s predicament when she is brought low by a lethal biological agent.

Track 10 – “Back From the Edge”
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions In The Sky
This track conjures a quieter moment, where our heroes are reunited after the villains have been defeated and all is well…for now.

Track 11 – “SHADOW End Credits”
Razors Out – Chino Moreno
Finally, finishing strong with an energetic end track, as the story of our heroes continues onward…

~ Where to find Shadow ~

~ About James Swallow ~

James Swallow

James Swallow is a New York Times, Sunday Times and Amazon #1 bestselling author and scriptwriter, a BAFTA nominee, a former journalist and the award-winning writer of over fifty books, along with scripts for video games, comics, radio and television.

His writing includes the Marc Dane action thrillers, the Sundowners steampunk Westerns and fiction from the worlds of Star Trek, Warhammer 40000, Doctor Who, 24, Deus Ex, Stargate, 2000AD and more.

SHADOW, the 4th Marc Dane novel, is out now from Bonnier, and the 2nd book in the series – EXILE – is published in the USA by Tor/Forge.

~ Follow the Shadow Blog Tour ~

Be sure to drop by the other stops on the tour!

Shadow by James Swallow
Blog Tours · Books · Giveaway · Guest Post · Rachael Featherstone

Puzzle Girl Blog Tour: A Guest Post from author Rachael Featherstone (@WRITERachael) @DomePress & Giveaway

I am delighted to be welcoming author Rachael Featherstone to Sarah’s Vignettes today. Rachael’s debut novel Puzzle Girl is out in paperback this month and she has written a beautiful piece to share with you about the inspiration behind the story. It’s straight from the heart and I am honoured to be featuring it. There is also a chance for you to win a copy of the book.

Thank you to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for sending me a copy of the book to be reviewed on Sarah’s Vignettes soon.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Love is a riddle waiting to be solved… Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-man behind it. Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

~ Guest Post from Rachael Featherstone ~
Rachael Featherstone and mum, Letitia Featherstone

I’m often asked what inspired me to write Puzzle Girl. In a nutshell: my mum. But that doesn’t do her justice. It’s hard to put into words just how much of an inspiration my mum was for this book. She wasn’t just the base of a character or a cheerleader for my writing process. Without her, Puzzle Girl would never have existed, the idea or the physical book.

I was 23 when I found out my mum (aged 45) had terminal ovarian cancer. The news was devastating but my mum didn’t let it stop her from living every minute of her life to the fullest. She travelled, she fundraised, she did chemo and alternative treatments, she embraced a raw food diet and positive thinking. She surpassed the doctors’ expectations. She had always been an inspiration to me, bringing me up by herself, going to university as a mature student to become a primary school teacher when I was young. But during her illness she showed me just how strong she really was.

I tried to hold it together, but I needed an outlet for the emotions I was feeling. When I was a self-conscious teenager, the first book that offered me true escapism and made me laugh-out-loud was Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella. So it just seemed to make sense – at a time when I really needed to find reasons to laugh – to try writing a romantic comedy.

The idea for Puzzle Girl began to take shape while I was sat in a hospital waiting room with my mum. There was a stack of magazines. I began wondering what would happen if someone had left a message in one of them and the story grew from there. While none of the book is based on true events or people, my mum was the catalyst for writing the book and I wanted her reflected in the story in some way.

At one point in the novel, Cassy (for reasons I will leave you to discover!) finds herself reluctantly in a yoga class. My mum only trained to be a yoga teacher when I was older so it’s not often how I remember her but many people do. She touched so many people’s lives. She was the sunshine on a rainy day. That’s why I created Letitia Sunshine.

Letitia Featherstone

My mum died before I finished my book but she never doubted I would get it published one day. When she was in the hospice, I read her the Letitia Sunshine passage and it is so special to me. Puzzle Girl has gone through HUGE structural changes since then, but the short scene with Letitia Sunshine is almost unchanged from the original. Knowing my mum heard that part is so incredibly important to me.

Writing Puzzle Girl was in many ways a coping mechanism for what was going on in my life at the time. Puzzle Girl is more than just my debut novel, it contains a memory, a part of my history and a link to my mum, that I will always cherish. I hope reading Puzzle Girl offers you some escapism and makes you laugh whether on a rainy day or in the sunshine!

~ Where to find Puzzle Girl ~

Puzzle Girl was published by The Dome Press in ebook in August 2018 and in paperback in January 2019. It can be found at Amazon UK and on Goodreads.

~ Giveaway ~

For your chance to win a paperback copy of Puzzle Girl, click on the button below. The giveaway is open until 12am on 20 January 2019. A winner will be announced shortly afterwards. UK entries only please. Good luck!! Full terms and conditions are below the entry button.

*Terms and Conditions –UK and Ireland entries only.  Please enter using the button above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Sarah’s Vignettes will delete the data.  Sarah’s Vignettes is not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

~ About Rachael Featherstone ~

Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. Her path to writing was a little unorthodox. After reading Mathematics at Oxford University, New College, Rachael went to work in research.

When Rachael’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfill a lifetime ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published.

Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her husband and daughter.

You can find out more about Rachael on her website and connect with her on Facebook @RachaelFeatherstoneAuthor,  Twitter @WRITERachael and Instagram @rachael_featherstone

~ Follow the tour ~

Do drop by the other blogs on the Puzzle Girl tour!

Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Claire Dyer · Guest Post · Recommended Reads · Reviews

Blog Tour, Review & Guest Post: The Last Day by Claire Dyer (@ClaireDyer1) @DomePress

I am absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Claire Dyer and her latest novel The Last Day to my blog today. I have a great guest post from Claire about other people’s wrongs as well as my review of this wonderful story to share with you.

Thank you to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for asking me to be part of the tour and for sending me a proof copy of this gorgeous book to read and review. Continue reading “Blog Tour, Review & Guest Post: The Last Day by Claire Dyer (@ClaireDyer1) @DomePress”