GUEST BLOG: Kathryn Fox on the journey towards working with James Patterson

Bestselling Australian author Kathryn Fox writes about the events leading up to her collaboration with James Patterson

katthryn-foxEleven years ago, I was an author with a debut novel close to release. I was also an avid fan of crime fiction, which is what inspired me to write in the first place. James Patterson was one of my favourite authors.

When I heard he was coming to Sydney for a visit, I couldn’t wait to hear whatever pearls he may have for his fans and budding writers.

I knew the bookseller who hosted the evening and was thrilled to just be there. After James delivered a captivating talk, this bookseller held up an advanced copy of Malicious Intent and asked if James would be interested in reading an exciting new Australian crime author.

I held my breath. This hadn’t been why I was there. I felt bad for James, who graciously accepted the book and said he would read it. The poor man had been on a gruelling schedule and was flying out at 6am the following morning.

After the event, I had my copy of his book signed, and waited to apologise for my novel being foisted on him. While I assured him I didn’t expect him to read it, he kept his hand on the cover, not letting it go.

We chatted as he relaxed with a well-earned glass of red. Despite the early morning start to follow, he was incredibly kind and generous with his time and advice. We talked as staff cleaned the venue.

James_patterson_I floated home, flattered that for a moment in time, James Patterson not only knew my name but had spoken to me like a fellow author. I didn’t expect what happened next.

The following morning I was off to the surgery for my day job as a General Practitioner. The bookseller called to say that the copy of Malicious Intent had been returned via courier. We assumed James hadn’t had time to read it, but were touched that he had thought to return it, let alone at his expense.

I was lucky that I’d had at least some time with the absolute master of pace and thrillers while he was in the country. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Then the bookseller told me to wait. There was a letter inside the book.

On it was a testimonial handwritten in pencil. I listened with a drilling in my chest. James Patterson liked my book! Not only that, but he’d generously written a testimonial, knowing it would be used for marketing purposes. That meant he was helping my career get off to an incredible start.

I don’t remember if I cried or squealed. One thing was certain. It was going to be framed and hung on the wall at home, where it still hangs. My publisher couldn’t believe it! They wanted chose to use the quote, “Kathryn Fox has created a character readers of Patricia Cornwell will adore.”

Little did I know that attending the signing as a fan to James Patterson fan would have so much influence in my life. Four or five years and four books later, I was lucky to attend the International Thriller Writers Festival in NY. James Patterson had star billing.

I eagerly lined up to have his latest book signed. The queue by other authors to meet the man snaked for half a floor of conference level. Nervously, I introduced myself, having no expectation he’d remember our first encounter.

He did more than that. He said he preferred the Australian covers of my books to the US or UK versions.

private-sydneyAfter seven novels, I received an email one Friday night. James Patterson was asking if I’d like to co-write a book with him. After re-reading the message multiple times, this time I was in shock. It didn’t take long to respond with a yes.

Then reality hit. I was about to collaborate with the world’s biggest selling author. Even so, it was time to do a pros and cons list.

Pros: Learning from a master storyteller, the author who could teach just about everything there is to learn about pace. And this was the man who had been extraordinarily kind at the beginning of my career, not to mention someone I greatly respected and admired.

Cons: There weren’t any.

This is actually the second book in the series, so for Private Sydney, the characters were already established. I developed the initial plot outline. We discussed it in detail, made changes and adaptations. I wrote the first draft, James worked on that, and the process continued until we came to the final version.

We caught up in person again on his recent trip to Australia, eleven years after our first meeting. I was still a fan but this time I was also a collaborator. That was pretty special.

And the bookseller who originally showed James my first book feels proud to have contributed to the ‘birth’ of Private Sydney. I have him, and a lot of other people to be grateful for.

I hope readers enjoy this labour of love!

Oh, and I can’t wait to see what the next eleven years brings…

Grab your copy of Private Sydney here

private-sydneyPrivate Sydney

By James Patterson & Kathryn Fox

The world’s bestselling thriller writer teams up with Australia’s bestselling crime writer for the latest action-packed instalment of the PRIVATE series.

Even for Private Investigations, the world’s top detective agency, it’s tough to find a man who doesn’t exist . . .

Craig Gisto has promised Eliza Moss that his elite team at Private Sydney will investigate the disappearance of her father. After all, as the CEO of a high-profile research company, Eric Moss shouldn’t be difficult to find.

Except it’s not just the man who’s gone missing, all evidence he ever existed has vanished too. And there are powerful figures pulling the strings who want Moss to stay ‘lost’.

But when a woman is found brutally murdered and a baby is missing, Private are suddenly drawn into another frantic search. And this is a case Craig has to throw everything into, because he may well be responsible for sending the killer straight to the victim’s door . . .

‘It’s no mystery why James Patterson is the world’s most popular thriller writer . . . Simply put: nobody does it better.’ Jeffery Deaver

Grab your copy of Private Sydney here

Alex Hammond, author of The Unbroken Line, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Alex Hammond

author of The Unbroken Line

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Johannesburg. Raised in Melbourne. Studied Arts/Law at Melbourne University.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

To be a writer. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories.

Author: Alex Hammond

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Naively, that law was the best career for me. I spent too much time watching gripping courtroom scenes on film and TV. It was only after I spent time working in law firms that I realised the reality was very dry and monotonous. In many ways my books are a wish fulfilment – exciting cases, challenging clients, cherry-picked drama.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner – such a visceral, well realised world. The library tower of the Supreme Court of Victoria – its light-filled bookstacks planted the first seed for what became by first novel, Blood Witness. The Cure’s fourth album Pornography – a template for the kind of dark, emotional richness I aspire to in my writing.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel? 

They were never innumerable. I dabbled in theatre directing when I was younger, but nothing quite captured my imagination like writing. To have created a world, to have crafted a engaging story, is both the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Unbroken Line is a crime thriller. Melbourne lawyer Will Harris begins to uncover a dark legacy from Australia’s founding and the violent shadow it casts today. It deals with corruption and the misuse of power, the lengths that people will go to when driven by revenge.

Grab a copy of Alex’s new book The Unbroken Line here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

To have readers is a privilege. I hope to give them a gripping story that gets their hearts racing but also asks bigger questions about the law and our preconceptions of justice.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Other Australian genre writers. Not only do the have to compete with international books with bigger marketing budgets but the cultural elitism that dismisses all but ‘literary’ fiction as trivial.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

In the current climate very few authors can make a living off their writing. This is my ambition.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Hone your tenacity. There will always be distractions and set backs. You will have some very dark days. Push on. Push on.

Alex, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Unbroken Line here


The Unbroken Line

by Alex Hammond

The violence of the past casts a long shadow – a dark legacy with lethal consequences.

When defence lawyer Will Harris is attacked by masked men with a clear message to back off, he has no choice but to listen. If only he knew what they were talking about.

Under siege as his fledgling law firm struggles to get off the ground, Will agrees to defend the troubled son of a family friend. But the case is far from clear-cut, and the ethical boundaries murky. Instead of clawing his way out of trouble, Will finds he’s sinking ever deeper.

At the same time, his search for his attackers unearths an unexpected source that points him towards Melbourne’s corridors of power. But motives, let alone proofs, are hard to find. It is only when those close to him are threatened that Will realises how near he is to the deadly truth.

Gripping, sophisticated and strikingly atmospheric, The Unbroken Line creates a remarkable portrait of power, revenge and corruption, rooted in a vivid and unmistakably Australian setting.

About the Author

Alex Hammond was born in South Africa and emigrated to Australia with his family as a child. He graduated with an Arts/Law degree from the University of Melbourne and worked for several Melbourne law firms. His first novel, Blood Witness, was shortlisted for a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing.

Grab a copy of The Unbroken Line here

Drum roll…. the winner of our Mark Billingham comp is…

May was our Month of Crime and we celebrated by giving customers the chance to win a book pack filled with awesome crime novels! All you had to do to enter was order Mark Billingham’s brilliant new book, Time of Death.

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time-of-death-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win- Time of Death

The Tom Thorne Series : Book 13

by Mark Billingham

The Missing

Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried.

The Accused

When it’s splashed all over the press that family man Stephen Bates has been arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the more…

…and the winner is:

M.Nicholls, Boambee East, NSW

Grab a copy of Time of Death here


Congratulations to the winner!

Missed out on the prize? Hey, turn that frown upside up, we’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited editions, signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!

Head to our Promotions and Competitions page!

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What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her May reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The FallsThe French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.


Lyrebird Hill

by Anna Romer

I thoroughly enjoyed Romer’s debut novel Thornwood House and her follow up, Lyrebird Hill, didn’t disappoint. The story unfolded beautifully, slipping between the present and colonial times, and held me captivated throughout. As with Thornwood house, the story had a wonderful gothic feel which made the suspense part of the novel even more intense, and Romer is a master at bringing the Australian bush to vivid life.

Lyrebird Hill unfolds with Ruby Cardel discovering that her sister Jamie’s death – an event she’s managed to blank from her memory – may have a sinister connection. When Ruby journeys back to her childhood home, the vault of her memory begins to open, bringing with it uncertainty and danger.

Highly recommended.

Grab a copy of Lyrebird Hill here


Already Dead 

by Jaye Ford

The suspense and action begin almost immediately in this gripping thriller from Jaye Ford and barely lets up until the final page. When an armed stranger jumps into her car, journalist Miranda Jack is forced on a terrifying ride. Her abductor, Brendan Walsh, seems a madman, but as her ordeal progresses and Miranda listens to his paranoid rants, Miranda is left with doubts. Doubts that force her to seek answers even when it appears doing so might place her in danger.

As with Jaye Ford’s previous novels, Already Dead was a page-turner so compelling all I wanted was to gobble it down in one sitting. I loved the thrill ride, loved the touch of romance and loved the landscape. She’s an auto-buy author. Next please!

 Grab a copy of Already Dead here


You’re Just Too Good To Be True

by Sofija Stefanovic

This short book looks at online romance scams, how they operate and the devastating impact they can have on those caught up in them. Triggered by her eighty-year-old friend Bill’s experiences, Stefanovic sympathetically reveals how Bill’s search for online love took him from hope to bankruptcy. It’s sad and frustrating and I feel desperately sorry for Bill and others caught up in these scams. To have the human need for love exploited so badly is horrible.

The story gets even more interesting when Stefanovic decides to lure a scammer into talking to her about their operations, and finds herself in turn being drawn into this morally murky world.

Fascinating. And an eye-opener on how easily people can be manipulated, regardless of background.

Grab a copy of You’re Just Too Good To Be True here


The Diabolical Miss Hyde

by Viola Carr

This book is brilliantly cross-genre, spanning romance, steampunk, horror and crime, and probably a few others, and, as the title indicates, takes more than a little bit of inspiration from classics such as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Frankenstein and more. It’s dark, no question and certainly not a typical romance, but it worked thanks to an intriguing plot and great characters, and some seriously lush world building.

Crime scene investigator Eliza Jekyll is daughter of the famous Dr Henry Jekyll (from the classic novel) and suffers his same condition. Her “evil twin” is Lizzie, and she’s a blast compared to straight-laced Eliza, if a tad violent-minded. The two are in a constant battle for domination, a battle that becomes more fraught when the Royal Society’s enforcer, Captain Lafayette, comes to assist in the hunt for the bizarre new serial killer stalking London’s streets. For this is the man who could see Eliza’s career and life destroyed. Except Lafayette may not be all he seems either, and Lizzie is on the trail. So perhaps is someone even more dangerous.

Great fun!

Grab a copy of The Diabolical Miss Hyde here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

 Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The Falls

by Cathryn Hein

For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.

Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.

But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.

Grab a copy of The Falls here

Last chance to win an awesome crime pack!

Do you love crime……fiction? Order Time of Death by Mark Billingham by midnight tonight and you could win an amazing crime prize pack!

9781408704820_Mark_Billingham_Competition_Newsletter_Banner

time-of-death-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Time of Death

The Tom Thorne Series : Book 13

by Mark Billingham

The Missing

Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried.

The Accused

When it’s splashed all over the press that family man Stephen Bates has been arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates’ wife – an old school friend of Helen’s – who is living under siege with two teenage children and more…


We’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited edition signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!
Head to our Promotions and Competitions page!

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Brian Panowich, author of Bull Mountain, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Brian Panowich

author of Bull Mountain

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I’m a military brat, so although I was born in Ft. Dix New Jersey, I spent most of my childhood traveling around the country, and the world, until my father finally settled us in East Georgia when I was Twelve. That’s where I consider my home. I went to Georgia Southern University to study journalism, but decided I’d take a year off and move to Nashville, Tennessee to try my hand at writing songs and ending up never going back. I traveled most of my adult life as a musician. I suppose being a tumbleweed was in my blood.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I’m pretty sure all I wanted to be was Laura Self’s boyfriend. Nothing else really mattered at the time. At eighteen I wanted to be Bruce Springsteen and change the world, as I was no doubt born to do, and at thirty I wanted to be Cormac McCarthy, so I could write something as majestic as Blood Meridan. I’m also happy to say, that at Forty-three, I’m pretty glad to be me.

brian panowich

Author: Brian Panowich

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That I was no doubt born to be Bruce Springsteen and change the world.

4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Give Us A Kiss by Daniel Woodrell had a lasting profound effect on who I wanted to be as a writer. That book woke something in me I didn’t know I had, and put me down the path I’m on now. Music is also one of the great loves of my life, and without Waylon Jennings’s Honkytonk Heroes record, or Johnny Cash’s American Recordings, or Springsteen’s The River, I might be an altogether different person, much less a different artist.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel? 

I’ve done a little of everything before landing here. My father was a jack of all trades that way, and it was passed down to me. When I was much younger I wanted to write and draw sequenal art for comic books, I worked hard at it, and got pretty good, and than I picked up a guitar, and took that route. It wasn’t until I settled back down in Georgia after the birth of my oldest daughter did I finally return to writing as an outlet to create. I think all artists, no matter what the medium, need to produce something–anything, or that part of them starves to death and leaves the rest of them misreble. I couldn’t allow that to happen to me, and that led to this novel.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

It’s a story about the internal and external struggles surrounding The Burroughs family in North Georgia. An imfamous clan known for bootlegging, running guns, drugs, the works. Clayton, the youngest son of three generations of outlaws decides to buck his heritage and take a different path by becoming a Sheriff in a small neighboring valley town, but as anyone around here can tell you, Family doesn’t work that way. Escaping who you were born to be isn’t as easy as it seems, and things can go south pretty quickly.

Grab a copy of Brian’s new book Bull Mountain here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

A smile. I write stories with no other intent than to entertain. I hope people read this book, enjoy it, and then loan it to a buddy. I love to talk about the books I’m passionate about and I hope I can inspire folks to do a little of that.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?the-road

That’s a loaded question. I love Cormac McCarthy, and Daniel Woodrell, C.J. Box, and John Connolly for their skill on the page and for constantly producing books that spin my head around, but I also love guys like Tom Franklin, and Wiley Cash, not only for their incredible writing and imaginations ( They are two of the best in the business) but because of the accessibility they give their readers. Tom Franklin sent me a email once about his love of comic books after seeing a comment I made about Marvel on Facebook. Mr. Cash took the time to answer a note I sent to him about how much I enjoyed This Dark Road To Mercy, and at the time, I had no book coming out. I was just a fan. That kind of thing means the world.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I have two goals at this juncture in my life.
1. To live long enough to see my kids become happy adults.
2. To provide the means for that living through writing books they can be proud of.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

That’s easy, be wary of writers giving advice. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions of the writers you admire, or seeking out instruction on the craft of writing, but writers that make their sole living by telling other writers how to succeed at being a writer can be downright predatory. Also, never pay to play. If you want to write something and give it away for free, that’s up to you, and how important a part you feel it will play in your career, but never pay someone to publish your work. It’s a racket almost 100% of the time.

Brian, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Bull Mountain here


Bull Mountain

by Brian Panowich

Clayton Burroughs is the Sheriff of Bull Mountain and the black sheep of the brutal and blood-steeped Burroughs clan. In the forties and fifties, the family ran moonshine over six state lines. In the sixties and seventies, they farmed the largest above-ground marijuana crop on the East Coast, and now they are one of the largest suppliers of methamphetamine in the Southern states.

An uneasy pact exists between the law man and his folk, but when a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shows up in Clayton’s office with a plan to shut down Bull Mountain, his agenda will pit brother against brother, test loyalties, and lead Clayton down a path to self-destruction. At its heart, Bull Mountain is a story about family, and the lengths men will go to protect it, honor it, or, in some cases, destroy it.

About the Author

Brian Panowich attended Georgia Southern University before taking a twenty-year detour to travel the country playing music. He started writing again in 2009. Two of his stories were nominated for a Spinetingler award in 2013.

 Grab a copy of Bull Mountain here

Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Paula Hawkins

author of The Girl on the Train

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, I lived there – and went to school there, obviously – until I was seventeen.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, a human rights lawyer (bleeding heart liberal); at eighteen, a foreign correspondent (thanks to romantic notions of what that might entail); at thirty, an author (also thanks to romantic notions of what that might entail).

Paula Hawkins

Author: Paula Hawkins

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I can’t think of a single one, which suggests that I’m incredibly stubborn (or possibly that I simply can’t remember all the ridiculous things I believed when I was eighteen).

4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Impossible to pick just three, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Macbeth, The Black Paintings by Francisco Goya, and the song Down by the Water by PJ Harvey.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel? 

Because I can’t draw, or paint, or dance, or play an instrument. Writing is the only thing I’m any good at.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Girl on the Train is a story about a lonely commuter, a voyeur who witnesses something shocking on her daily journey to work, and who finds herself drawn into a mystery which, unbeknown to her, she is already an integral part.

Grab a copy of Paula’s new book The Girl on the Train here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

Talking specifically about The Girl on the Train, I’d like to have given the reader food for thought about the nature of perception, about the judgements we make about the people we see every day and the people that are close to us, and about how flawed those judgements frequently are.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?case-histories

I’m a huge fan of authors who can write literary page-turners – the likes of Kate Atkinson or Cormac McCarthy.

Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To write something I’m proud of. That’s all.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Find someone whose judgement you trust to read your work: no one does this all alone.

Paula, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Girl on the Train here


The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins

YOU DON’T KNOW HER. BUT SHE KNOWS YOU.

Rear Window meets Gone Girl, in this exceptional and startling psychological thriller.

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

About the Author

Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction.

Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.

 Grab a copy of Girl on the Train here

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