Overkill – Vanda Symon #blogtour

Overkill Cover

I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour today for Overkill written by Vanda Symon and published by Orenda Books. Many thanks to Anne Cater for organising the blog tour.

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer… and clear her name.

Vanda Symon is the best-selling author of four Detective Sam Shephard crime fiction novels, published in New Zealand, including Overkill (Penguin, 2007), The Ringmaster (Penguin, 2008), Containment (Penguin, 2009), Bound (Penguin, 2011), and the stand-alone psychological thriller, The Faceless (Penguin, 2012). She is a three-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Fiction Novel. Her books have also been published in Germany.

Author Kate Mosse has said: ‘Vanda Symon’s fast paced crime novels are as good as anything the US has to offer – a sassy heroine, fabulous sense of place, and rip roaring stories with a twist. Perfect curl-up on the sofa reading.’ Crimewatch has described Vanda as ‘part of a new wave of Kiwi crime writers… Symon’s talent for creating well-rounded characters permeates throughout’.

Vanda is the producer and host of Write On, a monthly radio show on matters literary on Otago Access Radio, and she also reviews books for National Radio. She is very involved in the New Zealand writing community, having been chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, and is currently the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand. Vanda also has participated in celebrity debates, acted as speaker, reader or chair in literary events and festivals in New Zealand and Australia, and toured with The New Zealand Book Council’s Words on Wheels.

Vanda has a professional background as a pharmacist and has recently completed a PhD in science communication, examining the communication of science through crime fiction.

Some writers have a soundtrack to their novel – a favourite album that provided the back drop to their mood, a playlist that jogged them along during times of challenge, or tracks from the era they were working on to channel the social atmosphere of the times.

I have a teascape for my works.

What on earth is a teascape you may ask? And what the hell does it have to do with writing?

In my case – quite a lot.

Like so many writers, I practice my craft from home. You may think, how wonderful – Imagine getting to work from home, I’d love to be able to do that, it must be fantastic. And, yes, it is, mostly, but it does present its challenges.

When I go to work, I don’t leave the house. I don’t get to kiss the kids farewell, pat the cat, take my carefully made packed lunch, walk my well-turned-out self to the car or the= bicycle, cheerfully turn my back on domesticity and make the journey to my workplace, where walking through the door signals it’s business time.

No, no, no noooooo. Going to work for me involves shuffling through the house, trying desperately to avoid looking at all of the things that need to be done, other than clearing an available flat surface big enough to fit my laptop. That surface may be the dining room table, the desk upstairs in the mezzanine, or even the desk in the eldest kid’s bedroom – depending on my mood, or more practically the light and amount of sun hitting the computer screen. Working from home is not something for the easily distracted by housework (fortunately not me – I’m quite capable of ignoring housework for weeks) or those who will desperately seek any form of procrastination (OK, I confess to occasionally resorting to vacuuming to avoid actually writing).

So how do I make that demarcation between everyday domestic life, and writing time?

Well, there are rules.

Firstly, I have to get dressed. If I was leaving the house for work, I wouldn’t be leaving in my pyjamas, so I won’t write in my pyjamas. And I will make an effort – tidy clothes, bit of jewellery, smidge of make-up. It makes me feel good to be presentable.

I have a hang-up about starting work on the hour. It can be any hour, but it must be on the hour. Yeah, I know, don’t judge me.

But most importantly for me, the ritual that signals it is time to settle down and write involves tea. I must make tea. And slapping a tea bag in a mug doesn’t count. My writing ritual requires making up a proper tea tray. This involves choosing which tea pot I’m going to use, which little jug to fill with milk, selecting the bone china cup and saucer that is singing to me today, deciding on the wee snack to keep my energy levels up, and of course, all importantly, the tea. This is where the teascape come into play. For it has become apparent that I tend to favour one type of tea for each novel. My current project has involved consuming a lusciously caramel noted black tea. (Tragically I have run out, and am desperately trying to seek out a replacement supply to avoid total catastrophe). English breakfast tea with a pinch of lapsang souchong was the blend of choice for Overkill. I went through a phase of fruit tisanes for another work.

So I carefully prepare my tea tray, and then, with ceremony, take it to my writing space du jour, pour my first cup, and set to the business of writing.

It may sound very twee, but for me this simple ritual provides a very clear signal – Vanda, it’s writing time – focus and crack on with it.

So next time you are wildly procrastinating from a task, or struggling to differentiate between the domestic and your professional self, make up a tea tray, I can recommend it.

If you would like to follow the Overkill Blog Tour, you can do so at the following dates:
Overkill Blog Tour Poster

Website: click here
Amazon: click here
Twitter: click here


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