Interview and Review with Gillian Hamer

Happy Hump Day, everyone! And before anyone thinks I’ve gone a bit porno, the Americans and Australians assure me it means ‘the middle of the week’. I hope they didn’t fib to me. Anyhoo, I have another amazing author interview today, with the lovely Gillian Hamer! I’m also doing a review of her book, The Charter.

Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian’s heart has always yearned for the pull of the ocean and the wilds of North Wales.

 A company director, she has been writing as a hobby all her life, but after a creative writing course a decade ago, decided to take her writing to another level and sought representation. She has completed six full length novels, split between straight crime and her mix of paranormal thrillers. Gillian is also a regular columnist for literary magazine, Words with Jam, and in that role has been lucky enough to interview a cross section of authors from Ann Cleeves to Michael Morpurgo.
Gillian splits her time between Birmingham and a remote cottage on Anglesey where she spends far too much time dreaming of being the next Agatha Christie, and can be found walking her Jack Russell, Maysie, on deserted beaches. In her spare time she is a regular theatre goer, an avid reader and a curious traveller!
Her novel, The Charter, was launched in June 2012 under Triskele Books, an author’s collective set up by Gillian and a group of fellow writers. Her straight crime novels are represented by Shelley Powers of the Shelley Powers Literary Agency.

Hello Gillian, it’s a great pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog! As everyone knows in my interviews-random question first! If you could be any character from any book, who would you be and why?

Toughie. Part of me would like to be Miss Marple (or maybe a younger, sexier version that Angelina Jolie could play in the film remake!) but a character that breaks down preconceptions, is wonderfully astute and intelligent and gets to solve complex crimes. But another part of me would love to play a heroine, courted by an English gentlemen, to get a taste of what it was like to live in those times. I’m not a romantic in today’s world really but perhaps I would have been then, so I’d like a chance to be Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and go the distance with Mr Darcy!

I understand that, I always loved Poirot, but I didn’t think I’d suit the moustache very well. Your novel, The Charter, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

The Charter is a modern day murder mystery – with a twist. The twist being that the story was fashioned on the true story of the shipwreck of the Royal Charter off the coast of Anglesey in 1859. So as well as a modern day crime mixed with historical facts we also have the presence throughout the novel of one of the victims of the disaster.

So what inspired this novel?

I’ve spent a lot of time on Anglesey and know North Wales really well. It’s an area I love and it provides me with not only peace and quiet, but also tonnes of inspiration. I have a cottage there and spend as much time as I can there. The story of the Royal Charter has fascinated me since childhood. I’ve visited the churchyard that features heavily in the book umpteen times and read all of the stories of Austrailian gold being washed up on local beaches. One memory that stays with me as a child, probably around ten, I was visiting Red Wharf Bay with family and friends who lived in Holyhead, one of whom had recently taken up metal detecting as a hobby. I can remember the adrenaline rush of excitement as I kept finding coins buried in the sand, probably only pennies I can’t remember now, and becoming convinced I was finding treasure from the Royal Charter. Only later did I discover the ‘friend’ had been burying the coins for me to find!

What books do you read? Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?

For many years all I read was crime, starting with Enid Blyton from the village library as a child, and soon devouring most, if not all, of Agatha Christie’s back catalogue. I still adore her books today. Then in my late teens, I got into horror, courtesy of Stephen King. And I read James Herbert, Dean Kootnz, Shaun Hutson. Then I had a John Grisham and Jeffrey Deaver phase. Now, I’d say my taste is much more eclectic. I’ve mixed with fellow writers for the past decade who have really opened my eyes to literary fiction and authors I’d not previously heard of let alone read. I love Sarah Waters, Philippa Gregory, Cormac McCarthy … the list is endless and I learn so much from these writers. I still have a soft spot for crime though, and there are some fantastic writers out there – I adore Colin Dexter, Ann Cleeves, Mark Billingham, Kate Atkinson. Yes, I read a lot!

Why do you write in the genre you’ve chosen?

I think one reason is because crime was my first love and also I must have the right kind of brain. I’ve always been good at solving crimes in television detective shows. I’d annoy my family by blurting out twenty minutes in that so-and-so was the murderer because what’s-his-name was his long lost brother! I can’t remember it ever having been a physical choice, it was just what I could write. I do enjoy writing paranormal too, I’ve won a few short story awards for ghost stories in the past, and I’ve been told my writing is a lot like Susan Hill which I take as a huge compliment – and she seems to be able to straddle both of these genres very successfully. I look at other genres of fiction and I can pretty much rule them all out. I couldn’t do romance or humour, neither appeals, and I haven’t the artistic skills to write literary fiction, or the patience or knowledge to venture into YA or children’s fiction.. And as for the new fad of mummy porn – well, least said the better, but it’s not for me. I think the fact that my stories are plot, rather than character, driven and the fact I write fast-paced, action-fuelled plots push me towards crime thrillers. I love the whole experience: researching, plotting, writing, rewriting, editing and I get a real buzz out of creating complex narratives with lots of twists and turns. I’ve recently completed a Forensic Science course with the Open University to improve my knowledge of pathology and scene of crimes among other things. And there’s a little bit of the horror fan left in there that enjoys coming up with the occasional gruesome scene. So, in answer to your question, I think the genre may well have chosen me as much as the other way round.

So where can we find your novels?

My ebook and paperback can both be found on Amazon, and the paperback via various independent outlets.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I have a straight crime detective series that I’m working on at the moment and my agent is working hard to get me a traditional publishing deal. In my ‘thrillers with a twist’ genre, the next book I shall launch via Triskele Books at some point next year, will be another novel set on Anglesey about a young boy, Jake, who sees past life details of a boy who lived on the island over a century and half earlier. Through what appears to be reincarnation, Jake helps North Wales police solve a series of gruesome murders.

Last question of randomness! You say you are a curious traveller, where is the most interesting place you have ever found on your travels?

To be honest, the list of places where I want to go is a lot longer than the list of places I’ve visited. I’d like to visit Marrakesh next. But I love NY, have some brilliant memories, and I also found Dubai fascinating for all sorts of reasons. Recently, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Switzerland and I adore Zurich. But as I said, I’ve a list as long as my arm of places I’ve yet to discover!

You can find out more about Gillian Hamer on Twitter, Facebook, her website, and her blog. Thank you for being here, Gillian, any parting words?

Thank you got having me today and I’d love any feedback on The Charter, please contact me via my website.

It’s been great having you here today, thank you for taking part on my blog! 🙂

Sarah Morton hopes dicovering the truth about the 1859 shipwreck of the Royal Charter will silence the demons of her past. 

But, tormented by visions and threats on her life, Sarah fears the ship may claim her as its final victim.

Set along the dramatic and dangerous Anglesey coastline, The Charter is a story of greed and forgiveness — when the treasures of the past evoke the crimes of today.

You can grab your own copy here at Amazon UK, or here at Amazon US.

Good Points

The first thing that hit me with this novel was the drama and beauty of the writer’s descriptions of the rugged Welsh coast. The descriptions were so breathtakingly beautiful I felt I was there, and could hear the waves crashing against the shore. The characters are wonderful, far more than just vivid, they have all their little flaws which make them wonderful, such as Sarah’s father who is slightly eccentric. The pace was perfect, and built up around the mystery perfectly, as the heroine of the story tries to work out the web of clues left behind for her. I also loved that this was not your usual historical thriller, as the paranormal found its way in as well! It created a wonderful melting pot of different styles, that definitely blended together to create something wonderful.

Bad Points

That it ended! If I had to point out any tiny flaws, it would have to be that…..um……nope. I couldn’t find anything wrong with this novel. The only way are not going to like this book is if you don’t like thrillers, or historical novels. And I do.

Overall

I thought it was a fantastic book, and the many clues left and twists and turns had me guessing all the way. I kept trying to second guess the plot, as everyone likes to do with mysteries, and then something else would turn up, and I would be left going, ‘What? How did that happen? Where does that fit?’. The blend of genres is not always successful in every book, but I found it to be perfect within the pages of this one. The characters were full of emotion which shone through the page, and the drama, added to the mystery, was simply amazing.  I wanted to be careful with this review not to give anything away, because I want anyone picking this book up to be as engrossed with what might happen as I was! This was an incredible book, in short, and I would highly recommend it.

I give it…..5/5 stars!

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