I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour today for Half A World Away written by Sue Haasler and published by The Dome Press. Many thanks to Emily Glenister for organising the blog tour.
Charming and talented Alex dreams of becoming a professional saxophonist while working long hours in the family bakery. Detlef, lonely, repressed, and a small-time Stasi informer, develops an obsessive love for him. But Alex only has eyes for Nicky, an English woman visiting East Berlin as an au pair.
With no natural outlet for his feelings, Detlef’s passion becomes destructive, his need for approval enmeshed with the latent homophobia of the regime. As Alex’s band becomes more successful, he moves closer to influences considered subversive by a state that has eyes and ears everywhere, and Detlef’s passions threaten to endanger all of them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sue Haasler was born and brought up in Co. Durham and studied English Literature and Linguistics at Liverpool University.
After graduating she moved to London and worked for three years as a residential social worker. Since then, she has lived as an administrator for a disability charity, which recruits volunteer carers for disabled adults.
Many of the volunteers are from abroad and this is how she met her husband, who is from the former East Berlin.
Sue has written four books, True Colours, Time after Time, Two’s Company (all Orion paperbacks) and Better Than the Real Thing. Two’s Company was optioned for film by Warner Bros.
She has been commissioned by the BBC to write an authorized tie-in to Holby City. She is married with an adult daughter and lives in London.
BLOG CONTENT – EXTRACT 1:
He tapped the metal cover of the peephole lightly with the pad of his forefinger. It swung aside, making only a whisper of sound, like silk against silk. It still sounded alarmingly loud in the deep silence, but he was sure it couldn’t be heard from outside. The time spent unscrewing it and polishing it to a mirror finish had been well spent. He experimented a little and found that, with a steady pressure from his index finger and a swift clockwise movement, it was almost silent.
He was just about to leave and go about the day’s business when he heard footsteps in the stairwell outside his door. The peephole gave a perfect view of the stairs, so he was able to watch whoever was going up or down for several seconds, noting what they were wearing, what they were carrying, who they were with, sometimes catching snatches of conversations.
This time it was just the old woman who lived on the floor above him. She was moving painfully slowly under the weight of a bucket of coal which she’d no doubt already carried up the flight of stairs from the cellar.
He could have just stayed there and watched, but there came a time when watching wasn’t enough. His scalp tingled as he decided what he would do.
He unfastened the bolt and three locks that secured the door. As an afterthought he threw a scarf around his neck and picked up an empty bucket that stood by the door, stepping out and coming face to face with his elderly neighbour.
She looked startled.
‘I see we have the same idea,’ he said, indicating his coal bucket. His voice sounded reedy and strange and he coughed to clear his throat.
She glanced up at him, her watery grey eyes suspicious and guarded. ‘Has to be done,’ she said. ‘If we aren’t to freeze to death.’
‘Please allow me to help.’ He locked his door and placed his own bucket down next to it, and took her heavy pail from her hand. She didn’t protest.
‘Thank you, Herr…’ she said, leaving a pause for him to supply his name. He didn’t, but there was nothing wrong with her eyesight as she quickly read the name written under his doorbell. ‘Herr Ohm. You’re very kind,’ she added.
Even without the bucket, she walked annoyingly slowly. He kept pace beside her as she shuffled towards the next flight of stairs. There was a strong smell of cleaning fluid and a fainter one of cheap cigarettes.
‘Not many young people would be as kind as you,’ she remarked.
He shrugged modestly. ‘One must do one’s best to be neighbourly,’ he said, fighting the urge to give her a little push to help her speed up.
‘Tell that to that shower who live next door to me,’ she grumbled. He didn’t reply, but shifted the coal bucket from one hand to the other so he could lean closer to her. ‘They come in and out at all hours, banging the door, shouting at each other.’
He knew the family she was talking about. He knew them all.
‘What do they shout about?’
‘Ach, I don’t know. They’re just volatile types.’
She obviously didn’t know much, or wasn’t going to say anything, and he couldn’t think of any way to prompt her without seeming too obvious. He was glad when they reached the door of her flat and he could hand the bucket back to her.
‘Thank you, young man. Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?’
This was the risk. His simple act of apparent kindness had made the silly old fool think he wanted to be friends.
‘Unfortunately I must be off,’ he said, and left it at that, turning around and reaching the bottom of the stairs before he even heard her key turn in the lock.
BLOG TOUR DETAILS:
If you would like to follow the Half A World Away Blog Tour, you can do so at the following dates: