One missing baby! One runaway teenager! Coincidence?
Detective Kevin Wallace doesn’t think so. And neither do the residents of Golf Road, who are all too quick to point the finger at a man with severe learning disabilities. As Wallace and a colleague, who has already experienced the ugly nature of this particular community, get closer to the truth they may not like what is hidden behind closed doors.
This is a brand new mystery from the writer of ‘Lost Girl’ and ‘In the Wake of Death’. Let the chills commence.
My Review: I would like to thank Billy McLaughlin and Emma Mitchell of EDM Editorial & Publicity Services for allowing me the opportunity to read The Dead of Winter and for also allowing me the opportunity to take part in the blog tour. I can confirm that all opinions in this review are my own and are completely unbiased.
This was a great 40,000 word novella. It sucked me in, gobbled me up then spat me out. What a whirlwind read!!! With just a little over 2hrs registering on the kindle as the total reading time, this is a great read to haunch down with a nice cup of tea and grab it by the horns in a single sitting. It truly is.
The Dead of Winter is a story about a missing baby and a missing teenager. Are they connected? Who knows, I’m certainly not telling … you will need to buy and read the book to find out. What I can tell you however is the story of the missing two leads to a harrowing string of events for the families involved that will make you not want to put the book down for a single second.
The Dead of Winter is like watching a season of Broadchurch. It will make you gasp, it will make you think and it will have you sitting on the edge of your sit making you believe the unbelievable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Billy McLaughlin is a Glasgow born author who released his first novelette ‘Invisible’ in March 2016. Receiving glowing customer reviews, he followed up with the gritty novel ‘Lost Girl’ which introduces readers to the mainstay characters Phil & Kate. In September 2016, his third book ‘In the Wake of Death’ was released, re-uniting audiences with Phil & Kate as well as throwing a brand new mystery that has been praised for its unique twist.
McLaughlin welcomed 2017 in celebrating that ‘Lost Girl’ peaked at number 2 in the crime thriller charts the previous August and gained the coveted number 1 slot in the Scottish crime charts with ‘In the Wake of Death’. His fourth book is released on 13 March 2017. ‘The Dead of Winter’ will appear to be a stand-alone mystery, but introduces a brand new character that is already set to make a splash in the 3rd DI Phil Morris mystery ‘The Daughter’ which is due in summer 2017.
You can also contact Mr McLaughlin directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
FEATURED AUTHOR Q&A:
Today I am very lucky to be interviewing Billy McLaughlin as part of the blog tour for The Dead of Night.
Hi Billy, thanks for agreeing to this interview. You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background? Okay, I am 38 years old and grew up in the East end of Glasgow. I currently live near the city centre with my partner and our eight-year-old dog Alfie. I began writing when I was fifteen and got involved with some theatre in my late teens. I was a karaoke presenter for twelve years and so dabbled in song writing but have recently put that on the back burner to continue writing mystery novels. I do have a full-time job and still DJ/karaoke when required, so writing is something that I fit in but would love to do on a more full-time basis.
What are your ambitions for your writing career? I have a three-year plan in place. In terms of characters, I am mostly focused on Kate and Phil who were the main characters in ‘Lost Girl’. They returned for ‘In the Wake of Death’ and will also feature quite heavily in the next book ‘The Daughter’. Although I haven’t fully plotted out future books beyond the next one, I do have a timeline in place for those characters. They’re in for a bit of a tough time. In terms of ambition, I just want people to read the books and enjoy them. I love throwing curve balls in, so I hope that people will continue to be surprised, but I also want those twists to make sense.
So, what have you written? It began last year with ‘Invisible’. This was a novelette which remains a stand-alone. There are no plans to develop those characters as I feel that they were very contained within the story. I followed up with the two above mentioned books ‘Lost Girl’ and ‘In the Wake of Death’ before focusing on the latest book for the last four months. I’ve already finished writing ‘The Daughter’ but you’ll have to wait a few months to read that.
What is your most recent novel? ‘The Dead of Winter’ which comes out this month. It is essentially a crime book but with a slightly different tone. It is very much about people. It’s about the different dynamics within families. It’s about a community and how the more people acquire the less supportive to each other they become. There is a statement there about how people treat those of us with disabilities. So, there’s a few different things going on. I tried to write it without throwing the kitchen sink at it. Essentially, it’s about a missing baby and the distress caused to his mother.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special. It’s difficult to pinpoint a main character in this book. The real victim really doesn’t have that much playtime in the story. If I were to pinpoint a character that stands out and essentially does good, it would be a toss-up between Ida and PC Allan Irving. Irving is this all round good guy who wants to defend the under-dog. Even when things don’t look too good. Ida is a bit of a busy-body, but she is the one person who looks beyond what everybody is saying and lends support to those in need. She even has something nice to say about people who don’t deserve it.
What genre are your books? They’re crime drama with elements of mystery and thriller thrown in.
What draws you to this genre? The element of surprise. How people can surprise you or be a complete enigma even though you think you know everything about them. All my books have these characters at the forefront who must go through something traumatic and find their own way out of that. I’ve been gentle so far though. That doesn’t mean some of them won’t have a few more traumatic events in their future. I love a good authentic twist in a story. It doesn’t even have to be in the thriller genre. Storytelling should be about surprising you and making you pick up those little trainspotting moments on the way.
When did you decide to become a writer? This isn’t one of those things where I decided what I wanted to do when I was five. Ironically my careers officer suggested I stayed on school to become a librarian. I would be the worst librarian ever. I talk too much and too loudly. I loved writing since then, but I’m very self-conscious. Self-doubt is our worst hurdle. Getting past that is more difficult than getting past other people’s doubt about you. I only decided to pursue this over the past two years. I’m very glad I did though. Not only have I been introduced to great reading, but also to great people who have had similar journeys to myself. They’ve also sat on manuscripts for years and daydreamed about getting them out there. Amazon etc. have made this possible.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I would love to have more structure. Having a full-time job and other things in my life make it difficult to commit the kind of time that I would love to have for writing. I read something today about how some people are knocking out 10-12 books a year. Wow! I can’t comment on the quality because I haven’t read any of those books, but that is impressive. I put two and a half out last year and have a similar quantity planned for this year. The main thing that I do to try and be firm with myself is too document the entire plot chapter-by-chapter and then allocate dates of writing for that. I try to stay with those deadlines as much as possible.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? No, never. I’ve seen me writing three hundred words sometimes, fifty another time, and then nearly a thousand another time. There is no set amount because I don’t write in that way. I schedule a chapter. That chapter is as long or as short as it takes for the story within the chapter to be told.
Where do your ideas come from? My brain is a constant writing machine these days. Today alone I was fighting with myself not to write prologues for two very different books that are away in the future. I need to focus on the next one so that takes a certain amount of self-control. Again, I see other writers who have seven or eight projects on the go at one time and they’re hopping about like a box of frogs. I couldn’t do that. I need to train myself to be focused on one thing at a time. This is something that might change if writing ever becomes my full-time job.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you? This is the one area I am structured in. I plot the book completely before I even start writing it. So, by the time I’ve finished the prologue I already have an idea what the twist will be, what the characters will do and what the outcome of the story is going to be. Otherwise it would be the kitchen sink scenario that I mentioned earlier. Obviously changes happen. Sometimes I get to a point where I realise a certain plot line isn’t working or the character’s voice doesn’t feel authentic. That can bring about change. Sometimes the change is so minor that it effects very little. Sometimes the change means that I should go back and re-visit the entre plot.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? It depends. ‘The Dead of Winter’ took eight weeks to write, and then another few when it got passed on for editing. I would say a couple of months’ average for each book.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I am learning all the time. I have learned not to over-egg the descriptive elements in my story. There was a little floweriness going on back there in the early days. Some people liked it because they felt it made the writing unique. I guess my writing wasn’t really like many other people’s. However, I think it could potentially alienate people, so I’ve worked on that without losing what seems to be my trademark style. I’ve also learned that I can’t do everything myself. I’m not a designer or an editor. I think I’m a decent storyteller, but I need other people to be involved. Writing a book isn’t just my project. It’s the project of everybody who gets involved. The main thing that has evolved though is the world-building. I am creating a universe where these characters exist and will continue to do so for longer than just the length of one story.
Do you read much and if so which writers inspire you? I love Lisa Gardner. She is terrific. Her FBI profiler books are among my favourites. I think Kimberley Quincy is a great character who is easily relatable. My reading choices are much like my music choices. I like one or two people but then the rest of my collection is made up of lots of different artists and one or two choices from their body of work. For instance, I own a couple of James Paterson’s books, but I don’t have the full collection. I own a few Harlan Coben books, but that’s the most I’ve read. If somebody suggests books to me then I’ll read them. I’ve discovered a few books recently that I’ve read and loved. Sharon Brownlie’s Betrayal is brilliant. I also really liked Honeymoon at the Hilton by Stephen Cooper and Dixie Howell’s The Killer wore Cashmere Socks.
What is your favourite book and why? This will be a surprise but I still love The Wizard of Oz. I haven’t read it in quite a few years but it was the one book I loved as a kid and then read again in my teenage years. It’s just one of those books that feels like it caters for everybody. And the movie is a staple of Christmas for my family.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Robert Bryndza’s The Girl In The Ice. It is a brilliant book. The whole series is great but this one stood out particularly to me. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy that kind of success and the great response he has had?
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Go for it! Don’t do what I did and wait until you were 35 before seriously thinking about doing it. If you have a story to tell, tell it. Things like editing and formatting are important, as you will learn. The main thing though is that you can write a good story. Above all else I think it is stories that connect with people. Oh and muck in. Particularly if you are part of the indie community because your books don’t have instant visibility. So be communicative and participate in groups. Share your experience and learn from other people’s and you’ll get where you want to be a whole lot quicker than going it alone.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? Just a big thank you. There have been a lot of people who have believed in me even when I didn’t always have faith in myself. I always get stunned when I see people writing about my books or sharing posts with their friends and family. My face goes a little red but my stomach does a little dance of excitement. So, thanks to all of you.
BLOG TOUR DETAILS:
If you would like to follow The Dead of Winter Blog Tour, you can do so at the following dates: