Listen to the interview and hear the book here.
Note: the reading follows the interview.
Happy listening. x
Listen to the interview and hear the book here.
Note: the reading follows the interview.
Happy listening. x
I'm Carmen Capuano. When I was five years old I saw my father smash my mother’s front teeth right out of her mouth. And the saddest part of that statement, is that I’d already seen it all before.
I’m a survivor.
One of life’s hanger-on’s, a refuser of taking the easy-way out; I’m the one who won’t give up. The one who will keep fighting, even when others would admit defeat. Because if I do, if I actually give up, I’m not sure what will be left for me.
Maybe nothing. So that’s why I write.
I write to prove I’m still alive.
Jigsaw Girl is, I believe, one of the finest and most heart-rending books I have written. Every line of dialogue, every situation she finds herself in, every time she has to fight just for survival, these are the hallmarks of her life. And I understand them so well.
I’m neither black nor Asian, but I was raised in poverty, dragged up in the unforgiving streets of Glasgow, daughter of an Italian, wife-beating, gambling father, and an ineffectual mother. You think misery belongs to the ethnic minorities? I’ll tell you now that it doesn’t.
But I don’t tell you this to garner your pity; I tell you to let you see who I am. These are my qualifications for writing this story, my badges of dishonour.
Look at me, look at my pictures – you will only see what I allow you to. But read my stories and you are let into the depths of my soul. It may not be a nice place to be, but God help me, it’s real.
To date I have written 27 books, only six of which I have published. They cover most genres because that’s how real life is – hard and gritty but also bizarre and full of unexpected twists and turns.
So why should you chose me, out of all the writers out there? Maybe because I can tell a good story. Maybe because I’m a workaholic. Or just maybe because I’m a tortured soul.
And if there’s one thing human nature loves, it’s vicariously experiencing someone else’s misery - viewed from a safe distance of course.Roll up, roll up, come see the freak show.
But that’s not all of me. I’m deeper than that, at least.
You will find me charming, honest, hard-working and conscientious. The raw terror at life is hidden, the pain subsumed, condensed, spat out onto the pristine page.
You want to know how real life can get?
book is open, all you have to do is read…
Welcome to Jigsaw Girl.
Another review for The Owners is just in: -
The Owners: Alone
Carmen Capuano brings us a different kind of sci fi dystopian adventure with The Owners: Alone! In an effort to save her young hatchling friend’s freewill, fourteen year old Loni sets out on a dangerous journey. Little do they know, there is someone across the world that shares their reservations about their society, someone that will change their fate forever. Capuano’s sci fi dystopian drama instantly felt fresh with its interesting world lore and loveable characters! I especially connected with Loni and Little’s bond and the overall exploration of the value of humanity. If you love dystopian fiction with depth and a more upbeat message, definitely come check out The Owners: Alone!
I'm delighted to be able to tell you that Jigsaw Girl is now 37th in its category on Amazon. If you are currently reading it, thank you.
Please do leave a review on Amazon and don't forget to tell your friends that it and Split Decision are currently free on kindleunlimted, or if you want to purchase them they are below £2.50 each.
I'm also delighted to see another review for Jigsaw Girl. Keep them coming in! xx
Today I'd like to tell you about Jigsaw Girl.
It was a story that came to me via its main character - much the same as Split Decision did. But that's where the similarity ends. Natalie, from Split Decision, was carried along by fate in many ways, whereas Scarlett Clarke (aka Jigsaw Girl) goes as far as to make her own fate.
I've always been fascinated by the idea of consequence. And I think that comes out fully in most of my stories. It is, after all, the thing that's at the heart of every good tale. And it fills our lives, shaping the course of our individual destinies.
Scarlett is a character who is taken to the very brink. She feels responsible for the death of the fireman who died trying to save her and unworthy of the sacrifice he gave - his life for hers. During the time I spent telling her tale I felt a voyeur to her pain. I understood her sense of unworthiness the fragility of her. But I was also proud of her, the way she found her strength, the fact that she dragged herself up in order to help her brother Charlie; that she refused to go down without a fight.
So if you see yourself in her, please take what you can from this story. We are all of us flawed. We just need to find a way to be the best that we can.
Because that’s where my beginning started. At the end.
TO VIEW THE FIRST SECTION OF JIGSAW GIRL FOR FREE CLICK here.
Michael and his wife Andry are both authors and friends of mine. Here I take a look at how Michael first became a writer.
When did you write your first book and how did it come about?
In 2013 I responded to an email from Robert Endeacott who was interested in cases of undercover policing operations relating to football hooligans in the 80s. He is an ardent Leeds fan with no policing background but was a previously published author. We collaborated on a film script for an Operation called ‘RED CARD’ which was completed but remains ‘in waiting’. It is a fictional suspense/thriller film in the mould of hooligan films for that period although in my humble opinion better!
In the Autumn of 2013 Robert, who I have only physically met on about three occasions, suggested we write a book on the operation. ‘Hunting the Hooligans’ describes how a covert police team brought down one of Britain’s most violent gangs. The true story of ‘Operation Red Card’ undertaken in 1987 to tackle Birmingham City’s football hooligan element – the ‘Zulu Warriors’ was published by MILO.
My first, and ultimately most successful book thus far in terms of sales – was taken on by the first traditional publisher that we approached.
How do you find the process of writing? (difficult, invigorating?)
I find writing cathartic and challenging. At my age – nearly 69 years of age, its good to keep the brain cells active. Steve Burrows and I have strongly promoted Birmingham in many of our books as we were both born and worked in the City. We have found this hugely satisfying.
How true to life are your books and characters?The factual books speak for themselves in terms of accuracy.
The series of four historical crime fiction books ‘Made in Birmingham’ – written with a former police colleague and friend Stephen Burrows contain characters and incidents that have elements of truth in them based on our policing history – over seventy years collectively.
Do you always write in the same genre or do you mix it up?
The next four books after ‘Hunting the Hooligans’ were written with different co-authors or on my own and related to police history and published by Amberley. The extensive writing partnership with Stephen Burrows that later followed has resulted in books being published – in the main by way of self-publishing on police history, slang and humour, crime fiction and military history. I have also written a book with my wife Andry Christou-Layton about her life in Cyprus – ‘The Night the Owl Cried – A Taste of Cyprus’.
When you write, do you start with an idea and sit down and let it evolve, or do you make notes and collect ideas on paper beforehand?
Every book involves a large element of research (Particularly ‘Top Secret Worcestershire I & II’ with Steve Burrows) but in the main I rely on creating a framework of potential chapters and then working to fill them in no particular order. When working with Steve Burrows on the fictional books in particular we relied on some very complex documents relating to the development of fictional storylines and historical facts which were blended together.
Do you have a favourite character and if so/or not, then why?
Rob Docker – the corrupt police officer in ‘Black Over Bill’s Mothers’ – the character reminds me that the Police Service in the UK is renowned for its professionalism and the fact that corruption is rare. The character also reminds me that ‘one bad apple’ can do a lot of damage. His character also explores ‘Noble Cause Corruption’ in the police service.
For Steve Burrows I believe it would be Patrick Quinn – a character based on his experiences in his youth of being a biker.
Which of your books gave you the most pleasure to write?
‘Black Over Bill’s Mothers – a storm is coming’ – a historical crime fiction book (One of the series) 1943 to 2004. Set in Birmingham and elsewhere the book weaves together factual incidents, including the Birmingham Pub Bombings, as well as music and culture – the story involves serious crime, terrorism, and corruption.
How would you describe yourself?
A sensitive autocrat who becomes ‘thoughtful’ at times.
What's next for you?
‘The Patriot’ – co-written with my wife – the story of her father’s life during a period of conflict and turbulent history in Cyprus.
And another slang book which I would like to somehow link in with people ‘living with dementia’.
Where can readers purchase your books?
All current twenty-two titles can be found on ‘Bostin Books’ Facebook Page or ‘Bostin Books’ website. They are all available on Amazon and via traditional publishers.
‘Birmingham’s Front Line’
Michael Layton QPM
(Synopsis re murder of David Harris)
On Monday 26 March 1984 David Harris, aged 36 years, the licensee of the ‘Woodman’ Licensed House in Hockley was stabbed to death in Wells Street by a man described as a West Indian male.
Michael Layton recalls:
“I was at Bridge Street West Police Station at the time, trying to sort out a search warrant, and went straight to the scene to liaise with the detective chief inspector and the detective inspector.
We co-ordinated an immediate search of the area and later that evening I took a statement from a witness who had rendered first aid at the scene. I hated violence and the futility of it all. Murders meant dropping everything else and putting a total focus into what you were doing as the first twenty-four hours were vital – the so-called ‘golden hours’.
A murder incident room was set up at Steelhouse Lane Police Station and this was to become home again for a while.
Next day I was committed to ‘house to house’ enquiries in the area. This was a detailed process that had to be meticulously planned and scrutinised and I worked with a uniform sergeant who I trusted totally to organise it with me. We then started doing the rounds of local pubs looking for any small lead. Leave days were cancelled and we went onto twelve-hour shifts. This was the norm.
Malcolm Halliday was one of the officers involved in completing ‘house to house’ enquiries and recalls a couple of incidents, “Myself and a DC nicknamed ‘Knuckles’ ,due to his arthritis in his hands, visited one particular flat in Newtown and spoke to a black family. One of the occupants was a Rastafarian guy and something just didn’t seem quite right. Whilst we were chatting a little girl aged about two years handed me a pouch. When I looked inside it was full of cannabis. I told her to “give it back to daddy.” We were looking for a murderer not for drugs, so we let it go but we did mark the form up to the effect that we thought that the occupants were not telling the entire truth. At a later stage of the enquiry it transpired that the guy had been repairing his car outside the block of flats on the day of the murder when the person responsible came running up covered in blood, after the attack, and demanded to be taken out of the area.
Not long after the murder a woman was attacked by a black youth in the same area. He was intent on robbing her, but she fought back and a load of CID officers who were making enquiries in one of the nearby pubs all ran out and captured him. He had picked the wrong person and the wrong place.”
After the murder a substantial reward was offered for information leading to the arrest of the offender. We also had a photofit picture of the suspect and with each passing day the potential lines of enquiry were increasing. We spent a lot of time getting around the pubs in the area pushing the issue and looking for that small scrap of information that would lead us to the killer.
On Sunday 1 April 1984 a call was made to the incident room by an individual claiming to know who was responsible for the murder. I met this person later that day with another officer and the suspect was identified as someone called ‘Jakey’ with a possible full name.
I saw the informant several times over the next few days and the information given was reiterated both to me, and a senior officer, as well as other background information being provided on the suspect.
There was no contact by the informant then for some time and despite extensive enquiries being made all these enquiries met with a negative result based on the details given.
On Wednesday 18 April a knife was found in the public toilets at Smethwick magistrates court in the area adjacent to where security officers screened visitors. The knife was subsequently disposed of in accordance with normal procedures. It was later to form part of the evidence chain in the murder of David Harris, although we were not to know it at the time.
On Tuesday 24 April 1984 acting on a lead in respect of the murder I was despatched in the evening with another officer to Canning Circus Police Station in Nottingham to interview a potential informant. We eventually brought the informant back to Birmingham and identified an address in Handsworth where a potential suspect lived. Shortly after 2am the following morning we hit the address and arrested a twenty-three-year-old on suspicion of involvement. By the time we had searched the address and got back to the station I had done a sixteen-hour shift and it was time to leave it with other officers.
I had about five hours sleep and was back in the office in the afternoon ready to go again. This was still very much a live enquiry and lots of officers on ‘outside enquiry’ teams were following up different leads. The criminal fraternity never liked these situations because it meant that they would receive additional attention from the police and their activities would be disrupted.
On Thursday 26 April 1984 a twenty-three-year-old man (Derrick Gordon) was arrested in connection with the murder of Mr Harris. He appeared at Birmingham Magistrates Court the following morning. I was not involved in the arrest but went around to the court with the DI to observe the remand. He was a well-built guy who remained composed and listened intently to the proceedings. He was remanded to police cells for three days and subsequently charged with the murder.
There's a world of difference between being traditionally published and being self-published but it's not what you might think...
People often associate books which are self-published with something that is poorly written, badly thought-out and possibly lacking in merit. And it's not always an incorrect assumption. There are indeed books which are out there and available to buy, which quite frankly, would be better used as fire kindling than entertainment. These are the books which were possibly rejected by every literary agent and publisher alike.
But - and it's a big but - there are a growing army of authors who have chosen to self publish. Not because their work has no merit, but because they want the control over their stories, characters and book covers that self-publishing can give them. I'm one of them.
In fact, I have recently taken the rights for two of my traditionally published books back from the publishers concerned, and plan to self-publish them instead. This might sound like an insane idea, but having spent a long time having to live with a book cover I really hated and being told that the publisher had decided on the image and that was that, I'm very glad to be going it alone.
That's not to say there haven't been obstacles along the way. For there have been many.
Deciding on fonts, on letter sizes and paper thickness...cream or white paper, drop caps at the start of a chapter or not? The decisions I've had to make and the things I've had to learn in order to make those decisions, have been almost endless.
But I've already republished two books...and there's a whole lot more to come. Check here for my most recent books and look out for the others coming soon.
Introducing author Rita Lee Chapman.
Rita is the author of seven books. Here, I have the pleasure of interviewing her.
How long have you been interviewing authors?
I started running interviews on my website in 2013 and have featured a different author each week ever since.
Why do authors interest you so much?
It’s interesting to learn how other authors plan their writing, what they do when they are not reading or writing and to read excerpts of their work.
Have you ever written anything yourself, or do you have any ambitions to do so?
I have self-published seven books since 2012. I have written a four-part series, the Anna Davies Mystery Series, a book for horse lovers and two crime mysteries.
Do you have certain expectations of how an author will be, due to the type or genre of writing they do?
To an extent. For example, I think mystery writers are usually quite different from those who write, say, sci-fi.
Have you ever been disappointed with an interview and why?
A couple of interviews contained very short answers which tend to come across as a little stilted.
Do you feel that most authors are honest about themselves?
I like to think so!
Have you ever wished that an interview went differently to how it did?
Unfortunately I don’t get to speak to these authors. I send them a list of questions and they answer the ones that interest them, so unless they are extremely abrupt I’m usually pleased with the outcome.
Have you ever discovered someone you thought you could be friends with, or conversely who you instinctively didn't like, from their answers?
Yes, quite often I come across an author I can relate to. They often find me through Goodreads or Facebook so sometimes we catch up again.
Having interviewed so many, you must get a sense of which authors will do well and which won't. Have you been proved right?
There are some authors whose path I cross quite regularly but I don’t make a point of following the careers of so many authors! Some of course are notable for their beautiful writing style.
And finally, who would you have loved to interview but can't (Dickens etc)?
I would have to say Colleen McCullough. One of my favourite books is The Thorn Birds, which had a lasting effect on me.
Can you tell us where we can read your interviews?
Guest Authors are posted on my website at http://www.ritaleechapman.com
And anything else you want to add.
If any authors are reading this and would like an interview, please contact me through the website.
The Anna Davies Mystery Series: Missing in Egypt, Missing at Sea, Missing in London, Missing in France.
Winston – A Horse’s Tale, for horse lovers from teenagers upwards
The Poinciana Tree, a crime mystery
Dangerous Associations, a crime mysteryhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/1501062905
Today I'm editing yet another book before I publish it. It's called In The Darkness Between Worlds and I'm enjoying reading through it after having written it about two years ago and not touched it since, as I've been too busy.
Deciding to take my books back from publishers and to republish them myself has been a real roller-coaster. I've learned a lot, mostly how NOT to try to manipulate certain websites and software. But that's a different story.
You may know that I'm compelled to write by the stories that bubble out of me, and that I write books as well as for film and TV. But what you probably don't know is my Grand Plan.
And I have capitalised Grand Plan for a very good reason. It is the thing which has driven me since I was a child - a burning desire to help animals in need. I want to use my sales to be able to fund charities and change the world for the better. It's my deepest desire.
I'm not interested in material possessions. I never have been. And if you've ever seen me driving around in my old battered car, you'll know the truth of that. For me, riches come in the form of a satisfied soul. So I'm using my profits to fund rescues and to alleviate pain and suffering in animals.
So why am I making a song and dance of this? Not for adulation or any reason other than to point something out. I'm not asking anything of you. I'm not asking you to send money or take action.
BUT if you are a reader and you were intending to buy a new book, please consider one of mine.
You'll get a great book and I'll be another step closer to helping another animal in need. So we'll both benefit.
Happy reading! x
Heartfelt thanks to the support teams of Amazon and Goodreads who have been magnificent in sorting out all my self-induced problems - from putting the books in the wrong place, to trying to figure out why the system wouldn't do what I needed it to.
Now just another 23 books to go...
Amazon and Goodreads teams, I'd stock up on headache tablets if I were you - you're going to need them...
Happy reading folks!
Are you on Goodreads? Have you even heard of the site? That's the problem. Since the world wide web was created, we have been inundated with information from one place and another. And quite frankly, there are times when it's simply baffling.
Back in 2012 I put my first book on Goodreads then promptly ignored the site, until I was launching another book. Now, I think that might have been an epic failure (to borrow my kids' terminology) on my part. Goodreads is HUGE.
It's like a constant stream of Twitter thoughts and ratings on books. And once you get the hang of it, it can be of great help to find your next great read.
So if you're already on it, or want to be, look me up and send me a friend request here.
Within the last two weeks I have watched two immensely enjoyable films which although very different, both left me in tears at the end.
The first was I Am Woman, the story of Helen Reddy's rise to fame as a singer in the 60s and 70s. A completely flawless portrayal by actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey of a woman who was both vulnerable and full of gritty determination, was of course only part of the appeal.
Cobham-Hervey was supported by a plethora of fabulous actors who seemed to live and breathe and totally embody the very real-life people who had surrounded Reddy during her lifetime.
And that song! Was there ever a song that could be a better anthem for 50% of the population? I'd heard I Am Woman, growing up in the 70s in Glasgow, but never had I attached so much significance to the song. Before, it had rolled off my tongue as I sang along, attaching my own petty (and sometimes not so petty) problems to the lyrics... but watching the film, seeing Reddy's very real struggles in a world that did not even give women command of their own bodies, let alone destinies, I finally got the real sentiment of the song. Not the easy - we are all equal - but the more complex idea, that women had been equal all along, it was just that men had failed to notice.
And so crying my eyes out, I finished watching the film and gave thanks to all those women, who for centuries have fought oppression, so that I - a woman - can sit here today and push out script after script, novel after novel and not be dismissed as 'just a woman'.
Sadly, Helen Reddy died last September. Not through Covid but through complications of her failing health and dementia. She'll never know the effect her story had upon me. But I know that she was aware of the effect it had already had on countless millions.
So if you haven't watched the film, I urge you to do so.
The second film which made me cry was Anna And The Apocalypse. Another musical, it has however a completely different feel and subject matter of I am Woman.
Hats off to the writers and director of this film. It could have been a fly-away thing, something to watch on a wet Sunday afternoon in lockdown. But actually the film had soul (if you'll forgive the pun, being as the film was about zombies).
This, as they made very clear during one of the many catchy songs, was to have no Hollywood ending. And the film (enjoyable throughout) was strengthened by its non-Hollywood ending. It was a brave move and one which in my opinion paid off, giving the whole film a depth and compassion that elevated it beyond what it would otherwise have been.
Ella Hunt was stunning in the lead role and acted, sang and danced her way through it with aplomb. She's certainly going on my list of actresses I'd like to cast in one of my films.
The only thing I didn't like in the whole of the film was the pram lying abandoned on the road and the zombie attacking it in one of the opening scenes. That in my opinion was a step too far... but otherwise a great film.
Again, if you haven't seen it, make time to do so.
And look out for my big news, coming soon.
Happy viewing! x
I'm very proud to say that as well as setting up our own company this year, Emmeline Productions Limited, Louise and I are also founding members of the Birmingham-based writing collective, Script Sirens.
As you can see, we didn't win but we came second, which for something in its infancy, is pretty damned good.
So keep your eyes peeled and your ears pinned back, because I hope to be able to give you a little update on exactly what we've been up to at Emmeline, very soon.
Until then, happy reading and stay safe. x
Funded by Arts Council and written by me - here's a little late Halloween Treat for you... Just click on the link.
Yesterday we recorded the final parts of my play, Scream To Go Faster...
It's been a long time since I acted in anything, and to be honest, I found the process exciting and very exhausting.
Luckily, I had Louise Osbourne to act opposite, and Scarlett Kefford, to manage the recording process.
Details of how and when to listen to the play to follow...
In other news, Leap has been nominated for two awards in the upcoming Birmingham Film Festival, and I'm so busy, there's almost steam coming off my fingers. Not that I'm complaining!
There's lots more news to come, unless Covid causes us all to be in Lockdown again, so keep your fingers crossed.
Until then - stay safe and happy reading!
I told you recently that I'd set up a film and TV production company with (the much better-tempered than me, ) Louise Osbourne.
You may be familiar with that name, and there's a good reason why, but since Louise is modest, I won't go into that here.
What I will say, however, is that Emmeline Productions has just finished its first screen credit.