Smash all the Windows

Smash All the Windows by Jane Davis Today, we welcome Jane Davis, whose latest novel, Smash all the Windows is available from 12 April. Hailed by The Bookseller as ‘One to Watch’, I’m going to let Jane speak to you in her own words about her 8th novel and her writing.

For those who aren’t familiar with your writing, what can they expect?

I write about big subjects and give my characters almost impossible moral dilemmas. I don’t allow them a shred of privacy. I know what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, the lies they tell, their secret fears. But I only meet them at a particular point on their journeys, usually in a highly volatile or unstable situation, and then I throw them to the lions. How people behave under pressure reveals so much about them.

Can you tell us about your new novel Smash all The Windows?

The novel began with outrage. I was infuriated by the press’s reaction to the outcome of the second Hillsborough inquest. Microphones were thrust at family members as they emerged from the courtroom. It was put them that, now that it was all over, they could get on with their lives. ‘What lives?’ I yelled at the television.

For those who don’t know about Hillsborough, a crush occurred during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, killing 96 fans. A single lie was told about the cause of the disaster: in that moment, Liverpool fans became scapegoats. It would be twenty-seven years before the record was set straight.

But you chose not to write about Hillsborough. Why was that?

None of us exists in a vacuum. The pain I saw on the faces of family members as they struggled with the question was raw. I didn’t want to be the one to add to that pain, so I decided to create a fictional disaster. But because I didn’t want to write from a place of comfort, I combined two of my fears – travelling in rush hour by Tube, and escalators.

The previous year, en route to a Covent Garden book-reading, I’d suffered a fall. The escalator I normally use was out of order. Instead we were diverted to one that was much steeper, but I was totally unprepared for its speed. When I pushed my suitcase full of books in front of me, I was dragged off-balance. Fortunately, no one was directly in front. I escaped relatively unscathed. But the day could have ended very differently.

How does it fit in with your other books and where does it differ?

I think it’s my most contemporary book to date. I’ve written it in the present tense because I wanted the parachute the reader   right into the centre of the action. I also have a far larger cast of characters than I’ve worked with before. My disaster blighted the lives of hundreds of people – survivors, witnesses, families, friends, the police, doctors and nurses who had to deal with the aftermath. There was the potential to add more, but I chose to focus on five family members, their partners and the people they lost in the disaster.

Also, when most injustices are overturned, there is usually an individual in the background. The one who realised that an injustice had been done and who then worked tirelessly behind the scenes in order to construct a case. With the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, that person was Eric, a law student, still some way from qualifying as a solicitor. The outsider in the story, his arrival proves to be a turning point for families, who’ve all but given up in their search for justice. In the midst of all of the heartbreak and human reaction, his conviction reminds the families that they still have a little fight left in them.

Is there an important theme (or themes) that this story illustrates?

In a way this was an odd piece of story-telling, because the reader knows right at the outset what the key event is. The St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster was a large-scale disaster that resulted in the deaths of fifty-eight commuters. The challenge was to show the impact of the event on different individuals and their families, who have re-lived it each day of the eighteen month long inquest. Because the accident takes place in an underground station, we see the various characters travelling towards it.

In fiction, there’s a temptation to try to undo the wrongs of the real world by applying logic, assuming that there is a single ‘truth’. I prefer to ask questions rather than give answers. Who are the victims? Should individuals have been held accountable when large-scale accidents occur, or does this prevent identification of the factors that create circumstances that allow accidents to happen? How should families and friends of victims be treated when they’re searching for or identifying loved ones? Should those same people be allowed to participate fully in inquests? But it’s not a book about technicalities. It’s about human resilience, healing and art.

Have you compared the book to any other writers or novels you’ve read? What’s the same? What’s different?

I hope it will be enjoyed by readers of How to be Both by Ali Smith and How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall. Both have much to say on fragile, precious and unpredictable life is. Both focus on what it means to be human and our innate connection with art. Neither is likely to put you off escalators…

Smash all the Windows will be released on 12 April, but you can pre-order it now for a special pre-publication price, until 12 April. Don’t miss out!

Also, if you’re in the US, you can enter a Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win one of 100 eBooks. Until 10 March, only.

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Books, ships and of course a SALE

Hi everyone

Just a quick message to let you know there’s currently a SALE on Ship of Haunts: the other Titanic story.

Now at 99p/$1.55 until the end of 29 May.

So don’t miss out. Get your ebook copy from Amazon and enjoy some bank holiday (or other) reading!

Warning: this is a complex, time crossing novel with various strands. Are you up to the challenge?!

To learn more about the book see Pinterest: http://bit.ly/1dqrM48

What People Have Said

‘original’, ‘hard to put down’ and ‘I recommend this book to people who love a book with a sense of history or who have a creative imagination.’ (Reenie’s Book Blog)

‘Even those who don’t really go for ghosts and the supernatural will enjoy this book because the characters are so captivating, and the historical events are well described and conform to what we know from history. A thoroughly enjoyable book!’ (V. Salvemini, Amazon Review)

About Ship of Haunts

Carrin Smith remembers a past life – on Titanic. And now she’s being stalked by a ghost from the ship.

Lily the ghost is searching for her cousin. She’s crossed time to find Lucie, but now time is running out.

One hundred years after Titanic sank, Carrin’s shipmates are gathered together to remember the ship. But who can she trust – and can she even trust herself?

For Carrin has a terrible secret, but at least Lily is on her side… Or so she thinks…

From the heat of the harsh Australian sun to the darkest depths of the ocean floor, Ship of Haunts is a novel of conflicts. Carrin is scared and Lily is desperate, both of them in a race against time. Will they manage to make it through, including surviving the vengeful Mad?

Get your Copy Here

http://amzn.to/18TtTdH (UK)

http://amzn.to/1emctJY (US)

Article written by Ellie Stevenson, author.Ellie Stevenson, author

This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the article must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

Books and More: at the Indie Author Fair at the Chorleywood LitFest

Books at the Indie Author FairThe last few weeks have been so busy, this blog has taken a bit of a back seat. But at last, I can talk a bit about my book. And Chorleywood Lit Fest.

Last weekend, I visited Chorleywood, not that I saw that much of the place, I was at the Indie Author Fair at the Chorleywood LitFest. Forty or so indie authors gathered together in a very small room, to share our work, with displays and readings, talking to readers, and also to each other. The room had a definite buzz, a life. At the end of the day we’d made new friends, and got to meet fellow ALLi* members, people we’d spoken to on Facebook or Twitter but never actually met in person. And a few we already knew.

Indie Authors at the Indie Author Fair, Chorleywood Nov. 2014

It was great fun, and here I’ve shared a few photos of the day. Of people and books. Because that’s what ALLi’s all about – helping each other, sharing professional expertise, and building a platform to showcase our work. The range of titles there was amazing, as was the enthusiasm – thanks ALLi, for being such a great professional network.

Books at the Indie Author Fair

And now to the book. My latest, partly historical novel, with a supernatural edge, is now out in print as well as in ebook. Shadows of the Lost Child - a novel and ghost storyIt’s set in a fictional city called Curdizan, in the present day, and also in the past, and centres on the story of a house. Which was once a school. In the present day, Aleph Jones, a troubled man with a dark secret he’s desperate to hide, is introduced to a girl called Alice, who won’t speak. Alice has a very special gift, she can cross time, and when she steps into the nineteenth century she meets a boy from the slums called Tom, and mystery, mayhem and death follow. There might even be a ghost or two in the story…

But let Tom tell you his story himself.

I should have been helping Miranda in the pub, but instead I went up to Curdizan High, to look for Louise. The High’s the part where the abbey is, as well as my school, although nothing about the place is high. I walked past the school and finally came to Pearson’s Tenements, that’s where she lives, but Louise wasn’t there, surprise, surprise. I wasn’t surprised, the place was a dump, but all the same, I had to look. The tenement building was tall and grim, tiny spaces joined by a stairway and open landings, the black of the open night in between. I thought they were more like rooms than landings, people’s possessions scattered about, rooms on the outside. I thought of escape.

I once saw a woman jump from a landing, far too high from the ground to be safe, but almost worse, too low to be dead, and gone in a flash. They patched her up, as best as they could, and she even went back to her room for a bit, but she never walked the same after that and not long after, finally died. I didn’t know it at the time, but her name was May, and she was also Louise’s ma. I never did learn which room she came from.

I shivered, scared in the black of the stairway, I knew I ought to go back, and soon. Miranda would be wondering where I was. But I’d promised old Pike I’d find Louise.

‘He’s Mister Pike,’ my ma would say, but she didn’t know Pike the way I knew him, he didn’t deserve to be called Mister. He was cold, indifferent and sometimes cruel; he’d said if I didn’t find Louise, he’d throw her out of the school for good, and she’d end up lost, like Miranda’s ma. I didn’t know what he meant by that, but I didn’t much like the way he’d said it, and I liked Louise, she wasn’t rough like most of the kids, and she lived in a flea pit, storeys high. If I had to live in Pearson’s Tenements, in amongst all the privy smells, I’m sure I’d forget to go to school. School would be just a dream or something.

I reached a landing, the fourth or fifth, I didn’t know which, so I tossed a huge stone over the edge, and counted until I heard it land. Although I’d looked, I hadn’t found her. I’d even tried a few of the doors, but nobody seemed to know her name. A shadow slunk by and I held my breath, you’re never alone in a place like this. I turned around, got ready to run, but a hand shot out and grabbed my collar, pulling me back, very sharply. Somebody’s hand against my mouth. The somebody spoke.

Shadows of the Lost Child, available on Amazon – a great present, or a treat for yourself, available in ebook, or in print.

http://tinyurl.com/ks3ksng (US) and http://tinyurl.com/nbofbnv (UK)

If you’ve read the book, or after you have, I’d love to hear your comments here. And as you may know from a previous post, the book was inspired by historic York, so if you’ve ever lived in York, or know the city, you might particularly enjoy the story.

Article written by Ellie Stevenson, author. Ellie Stevenson, author

This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the article must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

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Going Public – book sale now on! (and more about the new book)

Sale of Watching Charlotte Brontë Die: and other surreal stories NOW ON!

Sale of Watching Charlotte Brontë Die: and other surreal stories NOW ON!

First of all, I’d like to thank the 925 people who entered the Goodreads competition to win a copy of Watching Charlotte Bronte Die: and other surreal stories. Congratulations to the three winners – your signed copy will be on its way to you soon.

For those of you who missed out (sigh), the e-book version of Watching Charlotte will be on SALE from 4-10 July at just £0.99/$1.69 – a great reduction (79%). Follow the links below for your copy!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Watching-Charlotte-Brontë-Die-surreal-ebook/dp/B00AZYXASU

http://www.amazon.com/Watching-Charlotte-Bront%C3%AB-Die-surreal-ebook/dp/B00AZYXASU/

***

In my last post I promised I’d talk a bit more about the characters in my new (forthcoming) novel, Shadows of the Lost Child. You can read the first chapters on Wattpad here.

Miranda is one of the main characters, and lives at the turn of the century (1900). Tom describes her perfectly here:

‘She looked as wild as she always did, her eyes glowing bright from the moon up above. She tossed her hair and I stared right back…Neighbours and mates, that’s what we were, even though she was all grown up. Miranda Collenge was eighteen.’

Miranda’s ma runs a backstreet pub in Curdizan Low, a poverty-stricken working class area. Life in Curdizan Low was hard.

There were lots of pubs in Curdizan Low, and many of these were actually houses, with a bar and parlour, the parlour being kept for the ‘best’ customers.

More about the pubs in Curdizan (and other real pubs around that time)

  • People who stood at the bar to drink, rather than sat down, were known as perpendicular drinkers
  • Some pubs organised a day’s outing, usually in the summer, for regular customers. Miranda’s da ran such events before he died
  • Music and singing were common in pubs – but few of these pubs had a music licence. The singers said they were paid as waitresses, and only sang to please the punters. Miranda hated the music nights. She thought it made the pub like a brothel
  • Girls might go into pubs in groups, but a woman entering a pub on her own was considered inappropriate. Serious prostitution was rare in the Low, but some women would supplement an uncertain family income this way. Such women risked their health as well as their reputation, being vulnerable to pregnancy and STDs. There were also very few places to go, as working class life was naturally communal and houses and rooms were often crowded
  • Opening hours were different to now. Pubs might be open early in the morning, and it wasn’t just adults who went into pubs. Kids would hover on the pavements outside, and sometimes go in, to get a jug of ale for their da
  • If your family, like Miranda’s, ran a pub, you could be helping out at the bar, standing on a chair or a box if necessary, well before you were eighteen
  • In Miranda’s pub, the Keepsake Arms, her mother displayed a boot on a shelf – in past times, a shoe was meant to ward off evil spirits when a building was constructed. The story of the boot in Shadows of the Lost Child is complex – you’ll have to read the book to learn more, but my original idea of the boot came from reading about a real pub called The Golden Slipper. It was previously called The Slipper, and before that The Shoe; and in the 1980s a mediaeval leather shoe was discovered during building renovations. Strangely enough, the pub’s name is believed to have come, not from a shoe, but from the name of a greyhound!

The Golden Slippper, YorkThe Golden Slipper is a pub in York, and although the fictional city, Curdizan, draws on aspects of York for its history, the Keepsake Arms was NOT based on the Golden Slipper or any other actual pub. I’ve haven’t yet been in the Golden Slipper, which is not that surprising given that York has over 300 pubs!

The Golden Slipper website also tells us this interesting fact. In the front lounge, visitors can see where a ‘Coffin Drop’ was located, the ceiling being lower here. In past times, this was to allow bodies to leave the building via a side passage, as it was thought unlucky for a body to be taken through the front door.

Sources

Short Story Giveaway

Watching Charlotte Bronte Die: and other surreal stories by Ellie StevensonYou too could win a FREE signed copy of Watching Charlotte Brontë Die: and other surreal stories, which is part of a Goodreads giveaway from 30 May to 2 July.

To apply to win a FREE signed copy, visit or join Goodreads today.

The contest is open to applicants in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/94612-watching-charlotte-bront-die-and-other-surreal-stories

Good luck!

http://tinyurl.com/nnb49ue

SOME REVIEWS of Watching Charlotte Brontë Die

Mystery does arise in many different places in this collection of nine stories from somewhat intriguing realities. Be prepared for the unexpected.’ Ingrid Stevens

***

‘I love Ellie Stevenson’s writing – short simple sentences, often with a bitter bite to them. To take an easy one, from “Anna Grail”:

I thought my chances were exceedingly slim. Unlike me.

‘This collection of short stories contains a variety of tales with a sting in the tail – my favourites are probably “Anna Grail”, The Window Box” and “The Last Bus Home”.

The collection winds up with an excerpt from “Ship of Haunts” (the other Titanic story) which I have already read twice. I enjoyed the excerpt so much that I’ll probably read it all again. Ellie Stevenson’s stories are rich with little details, whereas her writing is deceptively simple, and the combination grows on you. A good read and worth re-reading.’  Valeria Salvemini

More Shadows (of the Lost Child)

Those of you who read the previous post will know that the early chapters of my next novel, Shadows of the Lost Child, is available on Wattpad.

Although Curdizan, where the story is set, is a fictional city, for some of its elements, I researched and drew on historic York (UK).

York-1 EllieStevenson

If you walk around York, you can visit several places which provided inspiration. York is ideal for inspiration because of its history and fascinating stories. For example:

Pavement, one of the main streets, refers to when it was the only street in the whole town which had a floor of cobbles. Beneath York streets lie many bones that were thrown out of people’s houses, acting as a road surface. In front of each house was a dung hill, these were cleared two or three times a year, usually when a celebrity visited. Often such houses had a piece of wood outside, so neighbours could sit and talk to each other. (Source: James Raine, York, 2nd ed. 1893)

This period was, naturally, a long time ago, and well before when my novel is set – the present and early 20th century.

York-3-EllieStevenson

Modern, refurbished, beautiful Curdizan, complete with an abbey, contrasts strongly with the town of the past, a darker world of poverty, pawn shops and prostitution. In the past we meet Tom and Miranda, and when Thomas of the past meets Alice of the present, everything changes and much of the dark has to come to the light. Then, of course, there are the ghosts.

More about the characters (and ghosts) next time.

Chapter Three is now available here.

Ellie Stevenson, authorArticle written by Ellie Stevenson, author. This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the article must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

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More Information

Some images of York: http://gb.pinterest.com/stevensonauthor/york-ancient-and-modern/